The Morocco Convention of 1909.

1. FRANCE AND MOROCCO, 1906-1909.

The Act of Algeciras conferred upon France and Spain the task of organizing an international police in the open ports of Morocco. The natives protested against this by killing several Frenchmen, and as a result the French Government sent troops into several Provinces; this in turn provoked a rebellion against the reigning Sultan and ended in his deposition. The new ruler, Mulai Hafid, was now presented with a program of reforms and a bill of expenses for the French military operations. For the former the continued presence of French troops was necessary, for the latter a loan from the French Government, and it was with great reluctance that Mulai Hafid signed the convention of March 4, 1910. This agreement did not destroy the sovereignty of the Sultan, but many considered it scarcely in keeping with the Act of Algeciras, holding it must result in the establishment of a French protectorate.

2. CONVENTION OF FEBRUARY 8, 1909.

This development, even in its early stages, was not favorably regarded in Germany. The German Government thereupon devised a new policy. By a convention signed on February 8, 1909, it frankly recognized “the special political interests” of France in Morocco and declared itself “resolved not to impede those interests.” In return the French Government “firmly attached to the maintenance of the integrity and independence of the Shereefian Empire,” was “resolved to safeguard the principle of economic equality, and consequently not to obstruct German commercial and industrial interests in that country.” Both Governments, “being equally anxious to facilitate the execution of the Act of Algeciras,” agreed not to “pursue or encourage any measure of a nature to create in their favor or in that of any power an economic privilege, and to associate their nationals in affairs for which the latter may obtain a concession.”

3. EFFECT OF THE CONVENTION.

Thus Germany had, apparently, conceded the fundamental point -- the political interests of France -- which she had refused to recognize in 1905. The Act of Algeciras was virtually superseded. But the German policy was not understood in French circles. To the Germans the important feature of the convention of 1909 was the pledge to associate Frenchmen and Germans in affairs for which they might obtain concessions. When, therefore, the German Government, on June 2, 1909, proposed to establish an economic condominium of French and German financiers in Morocco, the French Government was completely taken aback. Too late it perceived that it had pledged itself to a policy which, a clear violation of the open door, would place Morocco industrially and commercially at the mercy of Germany and might severely strain the entente with Great Britain. For the next two years the Quai d'Orsay vainly endeavored to find some escape from this agreement, but all the schemes proposed fell short of the minimum demanded by Berlin.

4. MOROCCO, 1909-1911.

Meanwhile conditions in Morocco went from bad to worse, culminating in rebellion in 1911 against Mulai Hafid, who appealed to the French for assistance. This was granted, a French column entering Fez on May 21. The German Government now gave warning that such a step meant the reopening of the entire Morocco question, and frankly told the French ambassador in Berlin that the French must retire from Fez or abide by the convention of 1909. But realizing that the French could not, under the circumstances, evacuate Fez, the German Government on July 1, 1911, notified the powers signatory to the Act of Algeciras that the gunboat Panther had been dispatched to the port of Agadir.

Source: Anderson, Frank Maloy and Amos Shartle Hershey, Handbook for the Diplomatic History of Europe, Asia, and Africa 1870-1914. Prepared for the National Board for Historical Service. Government Printing Office, Washington, 1918.


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