The Barbary Treaties 1786-1816
Treaty with Morocco - The English Translation of 1786

The Arabic original of this treaty and the English translation thereof of 1786 have been examined by Dr. C. Snouck Hurgronje, of Leiden, whose comments and notes, and translation of various articles, are as follows:

[The Seal]

The inner circle of the seal contains the name "Muhammad, son of Abdallah, son of Isma'il, God is his protector and his Lord." The border of the seal contains the verse taken from the well-known poem in praise of the Prophet, called the Burdah, which verse occurs in several other seals of these North African documents: "He who takes the Apostle of God for his helper, if the lions encounter him in their jungles, they will withdraw."

[The Text]

Praise be to God! This is the written document of the articles of peace which we have established with the Americans [Marikanos] and which we have confirmed in this book and sealed with our seal, in order that they may remain permanent, if God please. Written in Murakush [Marrakesh] the twenty-fifth of the blessed month of Shaban of the year two hundred and thousand.

I have given this literal translation of the introduction merely as a specimen, although it presents no essential difference from the translation of 1786. I have not thought it necessary to note all the merely formal differences occurring in the translation of the articles where they do not in the least affect the meaning.

The first article is that these articles mentioned in this book, being twenty-five articles, have been agreed upon by both parties. That took place in the presence of their agent, the Honorable Thomas Barclay, who came here from the side of the American States [Estados al-Marikanos] and whom they had sent to supervise their affairs and their treaty of peace with us.

The second article is that if there shall be war with any nation whatever, no ship of either of the parties shall sail out and take the colors of the enemy, going to help the enemy, neither from our side nor from that of the Americans.

The third article is that if war has been made with any nation whatever, and a ship has been captured from people belonging to that nation, and there shall be found on board a Moslem or a Christian with goods belonging to them, they shall be at liberty with their goods. Even if they were carrying goods belonging to a nation with whom we are at war [such goods] shall not be taken from their hands nor shall they be compelled to unload them, for the sake of the peace prevailing between us and them.

The fourth article. There shall be a signal [instead of "signal or pass" the original has only one word, 'aldmah, meaning "signal," "sign," "token"] between us by which we may know each other at sea. Whenever one of us meets a warship, he shall not examine it, but the declaration of the commander shall suffice him concerning her [the warship] with other ships.

The fifth article. "If either of the parties shall be at war"- the original has only "if there shall be war."

The sixth article is that if Moslems shall capture people of our [meaning here the American] nation or their goods and bring them to our [here meaning of the Moroccans] Lord (may God give him victory!), he will set them at liberty. Likewise, if Moslems from other than our dominions shall capture them and bring them into any of our ports, they shall be set at liberty, because they are under our protection and on terms of peace with us.

The seventh article. Instead of "interruption" the original has a word meaning "difficulty".

The eighth article is that if any vessel meets with a disaster and runs ashore and unloads her cargo in order to repair, she shall be at liberty to reload her cargo whenever she likes without paying duty or anything.

The ninth article is that if any vessel shall be cast on shore on any part of our coasts, she will be left to herself that she may consider what suits her best, be it to sail out from [by] another place or to transfer her cargo, or whatever else Nay be convenient to her. Nobody shall approach her, as she is under our protection. Likewise, if a vessel enters a port or wind forces her to put into a port, she shall not be compelled to unload her cargo; on the contrary, she shall remain under our protection until she sails out by her own free will.

The tenth article is that if any of the parties shall have an engagement with any Christian nation, and the engagement takes place near a town of one of the parties, we shall help each other against that nation until she be defeated or have gone away; or if a vessel shall be cast ashore in Ouadnoun or in another place, the Christians being aboard shall be under [our] protection until they reach their country, if God please.

The eleventh article is that if we are at war with any Christian nation, and we shall be in a port and our ship intends to sail out of the port, and a ship of the enemy intends to pursue her, the latter shall not sail out in pursuit of her until twenty-four hours have elapsed; and likewise, ships of the Americans, if they are in a port during a war and they intend to sail out, no ship shall pursue her until twentyfour hours have elapsed, be they ships of the Mohammedans or of the Christians.

The twelfth article is that if a warship shall put into any of our ports, she shall not be examined but shall remain left to herself; and if there should be a fugitive prisoner on board her, he shall not be brought ashore by compulsion, nor shall the governor of the dominion where the ship stops demand from the commander of the ship the price of that prisoner.

The thirteenth article is without any important difference from the translation of 1786.

The fourteenth article is that the commerce of the merchants shall be on the same footing as that of the Spaniards, and they shall be honored and go in the towns and seaports where they like, without anybody bothering them, and they shall be like the most favored nation with us for the time being.

The fifteenth article is that the merchants shall pursue their business, and if they wish to employ assistants or interpreters, they shall be free to do so. No cargo shall be transported from one ship into another, and no ship shall be detained in the port; and if they wish to employ people to assist them in matters concerning the cargo or otherwise, they shall not have to pay more than other nations used to pay before them.

The sixteenth article has been well rendered in all essentials in the translation of 1786, but the words "are not to be made slaves" are not in the original, and the "Mexican dollar" is represented in Arabic by "royal" only.

The seventeenth article is that the merchants shall not be compelled to buy merchandise, but such as they like to buy by their free consent. The same rule is to be applied to sale, except in cases concerning which there have prevailed customs with other (Christian nations before them, who carried them [the goods?], in which cases there will be no difficulty. [The meaning of the latter stipulation is not clearly expressed in the Arabic text.]

The eighteenth article is that goods to be loaded shall be weighed and examined before they are brought on board, in order that the ship may not be detained because they have ascertained that there is contraband on board. Now if this be the case, then only he who brought the contraband shall be punished, according to the usage applied to others before him, but the ship and its cargo and what belongs to it shall be free from guilt. [Possibly the Arabic text intended to say what is said in the translation of 1786, but in that case the attempt has entirely failed. Thus there is no expression corresponding to "unless" of that translation.]

The nineteenth article requires no correction.

The twentieth article is that if a person of our [can only mean hero the American] nation or under our flag is guilty of misdemeanor, the Consul of his nation shall pass sentence upon him. If the Consul wants the assistance of the officials of the Pasha of the place, it shall be granted to him.

The twenty-first article is that if there has been killed a Christian out of them or the reverse [sic] or has wounded him [sic], then he will be sentenced according to the rules of the Sacred [Mohammedan] Law, neither more nor less, and the trial is to take place in the presence of the Consul. If the delinquent escapes before having been sentenced, the Consul shall not be held responsible for him nor for the crime he committed. [The redaction of Article 21 is extremely inept.]

The twenty-second article is that if an American citizen shall die in our country and no will shall appear, their Consul shall supervise his estate and his goods [merchandise], and if there shall be no Consul, the effects shall be deposited in the hands of some person worthy of trust until the party shall appear who has a right to demand them, but if heirs of his are present, [the property] shall be given to the heirs without interference, or if he has designated in a will signed with his hand, the person to whom the property is to be delivered, then the question shall be submitted to the consideration of the Consul.

The twenty-third article is that the Consuls shall reside in any seaport they like, and they shall be respected like [consuls of] other (Christian nations before them. If a person of their nation has had dealings with a Moslem concerning money, and he has caused it to be lost, the Consul shall not be held responsible for it, unless the Consul has given a written declaration to that effect, in which case he shall have to pay it. If he has not given such a declaration, then nobody has a claim upon him-like [this is the case with] all the consuls.

The twenty-fourth article is that if either party should protest concerning any articles of the peace treaty, so that one asserted a question and the other asserted a question and contended that this was not according to the article, and the controversy should last a long time, then peace is to be maintained and both parties have to argue the best they can. If in the end one of them does not agree to the treaty of peace and strenuously declines [or "if neither of them agrees to the treaty of peace and both strenuously decline"], so that war is declared [literally "put into action"], then nine months shall be granted to all the merchants to remove their goods. Whenever our Lord [i. e., the Emperor of Morocco] shows a favor to any (Christian nation, we [i. e., the Americans] shall partake in it.

The twenty-fifth article is that this treaty of peace shall remain permanent, if God please, by God's might and power, a period from ["of" is evidently meant] fifty years. We have delivered this book to the above-mentioned Thomas Barclay on the first day of the blessed Ramadan of the year two hundred and thousand.

Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America.
Edited by Hunter Miller
Volume 2
Documents 1-40 : 1776-1818
Washington : Government Printing Office, 1931.
127 Wall Street, New Haven, CT 06511.