Meknes, Treaty of (1836)

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the second treaty between morocco and the united states, signed at meknes on 16 september 1836.

With two exceptions (a final clause continuing the treaty beyond its fifty years validity until it was actually cancelled by one of the parties and an addendum concerning protection of U.S. ships in Moroccan ports against third-party enemies), the Meknes treaty precisely mirrored the first U.S.-Moroccan treaty, signed in Marrakech on 28 June 1786. Both treaties focused on two concerns: the protection of U.S. shipping against pirate attacks by Moroccan ships and the enhancement of commercial relations. The question of pirates, or corsairs, was indeed an important issue in 1786, but by 1836 it was no longer relevant: the Moroccan corsairing fleet existed only on paper. Moreover, U.S. commerce with Morocco was insubstantial, and U.S. interest in the country minimal. The consul who signed the treaty, James Leib, left the conduct of negotiations to the vice consul and his interpreter.

The importance of the treaty lay in its symbolic value: it deeply worried the British consul general, E. W. A. Drummond-Hay, and the authorities in London. They believed, quite unjustifiably, that it marked the beginnings of an attempt by the United States to occupy physically a position on the Mediterranean coast of Morocco that would be used to expand U.S. influence. At this time Britain was easily Morocco's largest trading partner, particularly through the garrison colony of Gibraltar, and dominated Morocco's foreign relations. Drummond-Hay tried to steer a path that would open Morocco to foreignespecially Britishcommerce, while ensuring that other powersespecially Francewould not extend their influence too much. The supposed agreement about a U.S. base on the coast would undercut British predominance. In fact nothing of the sort happened; British predominance was sealed by the Moroccan-British treaty of 1856, which paved the way for the real opening of Morocco to international commerce.

see also corsairs.


Hall, Luella J. The United States and Morocco, 17761956. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1971.

Parry, Clive, ed. The Consolidated Treaty Series. Vols. 50 (1786 treaty) and 86 (1836 treaty). Dobbs Ferry, NY: Oceana Publications, 19691981.

c. r. pennell