Our Nation’s Oldest Friend is in the Arabic-speaking Muslim world

Recently there has been a lot of unjustified animosity against Islam and its followers. As we enter the month of Ramadan, the month when our Muslim brothers celebrate Muhammad’s revelation of the first verses the Quran, it is important to remember that when the fledgling United States most needed allies and friends, the nation that stepped forward was the Islamic caliphate of Morocco.

For most of us, Morocco is a mysterious place which we only know from arts and media.  We know Casablanca not as a city but as a movie with Humphrey Bogart and when we mention Marrakesh, most of us think of Crosby, Stills and Nash and their Marrakesh Express; but Morocco is a very important nation in the early history of the United States.   

Morocco was the first country to formally recognize the United States as a sovereign nation.  As the various European powers debated whether or not to intervene in the American War for Independence, the Moroccan sultan, Moulay Mohammed ben Abdallah, issued a proclamation recognizing U.S. independence from Britain, making his nation the first country to do so. The Sultan’s decree welcomed American ships to “come and traffic freely” in Moroccan ports. His hope was to increase maritime trade—and customs revenue—and saw the new nation as a potential trading partner.

Compared to France, Britain and Spain, the U.S. had relatively few interests in Morocco. Yet its location on a critical trade route through the Strait of Gibraltar and the challenge of Barbary pirates in the vicinity made a more official presence for the American necessary. During the American Revolutionary War, pirates attacked American merchant vessels in the Mediterranean. This treaty meant that American merchant ships could enjoy safe passage into the Mediterranean and along the coast.  Later when Jefferson sent the Navy to destroy Barbary Pirates in Algeria, Morocco was a critical safe haven for our ships. 

So, think on who our friends in the world really are. A true friend stands beside you for no real gain other than the benefit of friendship. Morocco is our nation’s oldest friend.

Published by Michael Carver

My goal is to bring history alive through interactive portrayal of ordinary American life in the late 18th Century (1750—1799) My persona are: Journeyman Brewer; Cordwainer (leather tradesman but not cobbler), Statesman and Orator; Chandler (candle and soap maker); Gentleman Scientist; and, Soldier in either the British Regular Army, the Centennial Army, or one of the various Militia. Let me help you experience history 1st hand!

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