An 1862 Extraordinary Rendition in Morocco by my Great^6 Grandfather James DeLong: Live from The Roasterie CCCXVI: August 26, 2014
My Great^6 Grandfather James DeLong left his bones in Wichita, but only after carrying out the first-ever extraordinary rendition on the past of the U.S. government and then getting fired by Abraham Lincoln for being too aggressive in waging the Civil War on all possible fronts...
Morocco–United States Relations--Wikipedia: "During the American Civil War...
...Morocco reaffirmed its diplomatic alliance with the United States. Morocco also became the scene of a colorful foreign relations and political warfare episode involving the Kingdom of Morocco, the United States of America, the Confederate States of America, France, and Great Britain. In 1862 Confederate diplomats Henry Myers and Tom Tate Tunstall were arrested outside the American Consulate in Tangier after making disparaging remarks about the United States and its flag. American consul, James De Long overheard their jeers and asked Moroccan police to seize the men. When word reached Confederate Admiral Raphael Semmes who was acting as the Confederate diplomat in the area, he sent out dispatches to as many neutral diplomats as he had contact with, including the British Consul to Morocco, John Drummond Hay. Semmes asked Hay to get involved and encourage Morocco to release the prisoners, to which Hay responded that he could only convey the message but not offer any recommendation for actions, as offering a recommendation would violate Britain's terms of neutrality. Semmes tried a similar tactic with the French consul, but without success.
Eventually, European citizens living in Morocco rallied outside the American consulate demanding the prisoners' release. During the heat of the protest, American Lt. Commander Josiah Creesey drew his sword, which caused the mob to throw rocks. After the episode, the Moroccan government sent official word to Semmes that they could not meet with him to discuss the situation, because the two nations did not have formal diplomatic relations. Eventually, the Union officials ordered the two prisoners be sent to Fort Warren prison in Boston by way of Cadiz, Spain. Only after the French intervened while the ship was docked in Cadiz did President Abraham Lincoln issue an official order to release the prisoners.
As a result of the affair, Lincoln withdrew consul De Long. Having been irritated by Morocco's response, the Confederate States were never able to recover and manage relations with Morocco. In 1863, the King of Morocco released an official order stating in part:
The Confederate States of America are fighting the government with whom we are in friendship and good relations... if any vessel of the so-called Confederate states enters your port, it shall not be received, but you must order it away on pain of seizure; and you will act on this subject in cooperation with the United States..
For a detailed description of the event, see: Abu-Talib, Mohammed, “Morocco and the American Civil War” in The Atlantic Connection: 200 Years of Moroccan-American Relations 1786–1986, Bookin-Weiner and El Mansour eds. Rabat, Morocco: Edino Press, 1990, pp. 57–69.
Gerald Loftus: Topic In Search of Historian: The US Civil War in Tangier, Morocco: "Civil War era Consul James De Long.
De Long, who served from September 1861 through March 1862, might have been a major player in one of the Civil War's many sideshows, one which President Abraham Lincoln feared could widen to a second front: the seizure of Confederate ships trading with foreign powers. From the Legation website:
Early in the Civil War, Confederate ships called at Tangier. After the Union government called this indiscretion to the attention of the Moroccan authorities, life at the Legation was occasionally disturbed by hostile crowds protesting the U.S. Navy's interference with Moroccan trade. On several occasions it became necessary for U.S. Marines to come ashore to move prisoners which had been taken from Confederate ships, through town to U.S. warships.
In seizures elsewhere, Lincoln thought better of pressing the Union cause. From The History Place Civil War timeline:
November 8, 1861 - The beginning of an international diplomatic crisis for President Lincoln as two Confederate officials sailing toward England are seized by the U.S. Navy. England, the leading world power, demands their release, threatening war. Lincoln eventually gives in and orders their release in December. "One war at a time," Lincoln remarks.
Okay, we've established that Consul De Long was here from the fall of 1861 through the spring of 1862. That U.S. Marines landed in Tangier to escort Confederate prisoners to Navy warships. And that president Lincoln feared that such incidents would lead to a wider war.
Sounds interesting, no? Worthy of an entry in "Tweeting the Civil War" perhaps? Or maybe the Washington Post's detailed parallel history in honor of the Civil War's 150th Anniversary?
Either of the above would be fine. But more than a fleeting blog post like this, or an even briefer 140 character Twitter blurb, the history of American diplomatic Civil Warfare appears to be a subject worthy of a proper historical inquiry.
What better place than the research center of TALIM here in Tangier? In congenial 18th century surroundings, a properly-funded scholar could delve into the American Consulate and American Legation archives of the period. Explore American actions and Moroccan reactions.
Doesn't anyone else see the timeliness of this topic? And not just in this 150th Anniversary season. American engagement with the entire Middle East and North Africa region is not only a matter of the 21st or even 20th centuries. American interaction in places like Tangier, Algiers, and Tripoli dates back to our earliest days as an independent country.
We'll be here. So Civil War scholars, start planning your trip to Tangier!
Jamie Jones: Pirates at the Legation: Morocco & the Civil War: "The sultan of Morocco weighed in on the United States Civil War...
...Morocco would side with the Union, against the rebelling Confederate states. The announcement was subtle but decisive, delivered in the form of an edict about ships entering Moroccan ports. Because Morocco did not recognize the legitimacy of the Confederate government, it would not allow Confederate ships to enter Moroccan ports. In a letter dated September 23, 1863, the sultan and his ministers issued this order to the bashaws in all the ports of Morocco:
if any vessel of the so-called Confederate states enters your ports, it shall not be received, but you must order it away at once, as they are not allowed entrance, because we do not know them, and they have no consul by which they may be known to us, or who may act for them; therefore we have prohibited their entrance on pain of seizure; and you will act on this subject in cooperation with the United States vice-consul, in accordance with the treaties and in conformity with our master’s royal order. And peace.
A ship is a material emblem of its state, and when Morocco closed its maritime ports to the Confederates, it closed the country to the Confederacy at large.
The formal letter offers a glimpse of diplomacy as a polite process carried out in pen and paper. But the letter was the last stage in a process that began a year and a half earlier when the U.S. Consulate at Tangier (now the Tangier American Legation) played host to two pirates and a noisy riot. The Civil War’s arrival in Tangier was strange and surprising: an important, if little-known, episode in the history of relations between the U.S. and Morocco.
During the winter of 1862, the U.S. Consul James De Long got word that two Confederate naval officers were visiting town on a short layover. The men had been sailing with the Confederate raider Sumter, which had been sinking Union ships in the Mediterranean. When De Long heard that the two men had landed at the port, he acted quickly. With the assistance of Moroccan police, he arrested the two men, Henry Myers and Thomas T. Tunstall, and held them in irons at a makeshift prison at the Consulate. His charge? The two men were treasonous traitors, “pirates” who were bent on destroying the material interests of the United States, of which they were legal citizens.
Not everyone agreed that the two Confederates were pirates. In fact, De Long’s peers among the European diplomats in Tangier were outraged. Europe and England were working hard to maintain neutrality in the U.S. Civil War, in part because they depended so strongly on cotton trade with the southern states. The consuls and ambassadors in Tangier believed De Long had no authority to enlist Moroccan police, nor to imprison the men. (It’s hard to imagine the present-day Legation as the site of a prison, however makeshift.)
Some of the Europeans in Tangier raised a riot and stormed the U.S. Consulate in an attempt to free the prisoners at the Consulate. In response, Consul De Long wrote scolding letters to foreign ministers and ambassadors of nations all over Europe and to foreign ministers in Morocco. De Long implored these diplomats and statesmen to punish offending rioters in Tangier and side with the Union against the Confederacy. The matter of how to respond to De Long was debated in the British Parliament and, likely, in offices throughout Europe. In short, De Long and his pirates incited a diplomatic crisis. While Europe and the U.K didn’t budge in their doctrine of neutrality, Morocco agreed to take sides, and the United States strengthened ties with one of its oldest allies.
I wrote about this incident this week in The New York Times’ Civil War blog, Disunion. And it is a special pleasure to tell this story on the TALIM Director’s Blog, where I first became curious about the role of Morocco in the Civil War. In March 2011, Jerry Loftus wrote an enticing post about a “Topic in Search of a Historian: The U.S. Civil War in Tangier." I was finishing my Ph.D. dissertation at the time, and dreaming of future projects. I filed away the idea for my next trip to Morocco. Now, the project is coming full circle, back to the blog. And I am delighted to report that there’s enough rich material at TALIM to support the work of many generations of American scholars.
The opportunity to research the U.S. Civil War in Tangier came this past summer. I spent June exploring in TALIM archives and immersing myself in 19th-century Tangier. I thumbed through the crumbling, yellowed pages of Al-Mogreb Al-Aksa and the Tangier Gazette. I dipped into Luella Hall’s massive diplomatic history on The United States and Morocco. I read Charles Sumner’s fiery abolitionist treaty on the horrors of slavery at home and abroad: White Slavery in the Barbary States. And I read Coos-Coo-Soo, a fascinating narrative written by a young woman who spent several years living at the American Legation in the nineteenth century.
The story of De Long and his pirates came alive when I found De Long’s correspondence in FRUS - Foreign Relations of the United States. De Long describes the riots at the Consulate in lurid detail. And the correspondence follows the conversation between Moroccans foreign ministers, De Long, and Jesse McMath, De Long’s successor as U.S. Consul in Tangier.
I was struck, when reading, at the way 19th-century Americans often experienced Morocco not as an exotic foreign land, but as a place where they were often reminded of home. Morocco, with its racial and ethnic diversity—and its racial and ethnic conflicts—was familiar, in a strange way. And Tangier struck Americans as a place of utterly unique cross-cultural contact, positioned as it was at strange borders, between Africa and Europe, Islam and Christianity, the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.
This past summer, I spent at least as much time walking up and down the hills of Tangier as I did in the archives, looking for traces of the 19th-century world and taking in the daily spectacle of Tangerine geography. I spent hours at the Phoencian tombs and at Café Hafa, watching ferries and fishing boats and the misty coast of Spain, coming in and out of focus. Before I came to Tangier, I was surprised that the Moroccan city had any place whatsoever in the distant U.S. Civil War. But in the TALIM archives and on the shores of the Straits, I realized that Tangier has always been a place where the nations of the world play out their battles over national borders and national belongings.
Jamie Jones: The Moroccan Front: "The Civil War arrived in Morocco in February of 1862...
...when two Confederate naval officers took a walk in Tangier. The men, Henry Myers and Thomas T. Tunstall, were on an errand to buy coal and bring it back to their ship, the Sumter, which was laid up for repairs nearby in Gibraltar, a British territory near the southern tip of Spain. Myers and Tunstall hoped to find coal in the Spanish city of Cádiz, but the steamer they took to Spain made a quick stop in Tangier en route. Before the Sumter landed in Gibraltar, it had been destroying United States commercial ships on both sides of the Atlantic, burning them down to the water. The Sumter’s search-and-destroy missions were part of the Confederate navy’s strategy to weaken Union commerce. By this point in the Civil War, the naval battle had reached the Mediterranean.
Myers and Tunstall had barely set foot in Tangier when the United States consul and a small group of Moroccan police officers arrested the two men. To the consul, James De Long, the Sumter’s officers were pirates: traitorous secessionists attacking the only nation to which they legally belonged. De Long locked them up in a makeshift prison at the consulate.
De Long delighted in his bold patriotic gesture. He wrote in a letter to Secretary of State William H. Seward that “American citizens may talk and plot treason and rebellion at home, if they can, but they shall not do so where I am, if I have the power to prevent it.” (Seward, considerably closer to bloody battle, must have smiled at the consul’s swagger.)
But De Long’s peers in Tangier’s diplomatic community were outraged. They believed that De Long had no jurisdiction to imprison the officers, or to enlist the Moroccan police in capturing and guarding them. A few days after De Long arrested the officers, European expatriates formed a mob to raid the consulate and forcibly free the prisoners. De Long and the Moroccan guards at the consulate held off the rioters.
Rebuffed, several European diplomats took to more conventional channels and asked the sultan of Morocco to censure De Long in order to maintain neutrality in the American Civil War. De Long, on the other hand, demanded that the sultan side with his nation’s old ally and back the Union – Morocco and the United States had been on good diplomatic terms since 1777, when Morocco became the first foreign nation to recognize the newly declared United States. In 1786, Morocco and the United States signed a Treaty of Peace and Friendship to formalize diplomatic relations.
All that good will nearly disintegrated after the incident in Tangier, when De Long threatened a Moroccan foreign minister: “Shall 76 years of uninterrupted friendship that has existed between your government and that of the United States be brought to an end for the sake of pirates?”
In April 1862, the “pirates” Tunstall and Myers were shipped to Boston and imprisoned at Fort Warren. By June, De Long was replaced in Tangier by a new consul, Jesse McMath. McMath picked up the diplomatic volley, and eventually persuaded Morocco to side with the Union against the Confederacy. Sultan Sidi Mohammed IV of Morocco signed a decree on Sept. 23, 1863 prohibiting Confederate ships from entering Moroccan ports.
A sultan’s decree on port admission may seem like a tentative diplomatic gesture, but in such maritime protocol, nations are named and made, unnamed and unmade. The means by which Morocco became the first nation to “recognize” the United States back in 1777 was a similar document signed by an earlier sultan, guaranteeing American ships free admission to Moroccan ports. Every port is a border. To welcome a ship into port is to welcome its home nation into diplomatic relations. The sultan’s decree of 150 years ago, banning Confederate ships from port, disavowed the Confederacy.
Morocco’s importance for those Civil War naval ships was not merely symbolic. Morocco was a comparatively convenient place for North American ships to take on supplies, stop for repairs and monitor traffic in and out of the Mediterranean. In oceanic terms, Morocco is close.
The two nations are close in certain terms of history, too. Americans sometimes see in Morocco a hazy resemblance to their own country. Fifty-five years after the De Long incident, Edith Wharton visited Morocco as a guest of the French colonial administration. Wharton invoked immigration and diversity as the shared heritage of both countries: “For centuries, for ages, North Africa has been what America now is: the clearing-house of the world.”
Morocco also has an extensive history of slavery. Like the United States, Morocco traded in enslaved black West Africans, who came to Morocco across the Sahara. Slavery in Morocco took other forms, too. Morocco was one of the so-called Barbary States, where for centuries European and American sailors captured by pirates were enslaved and ransomed. In his 1853 book “White Slavery in the Barbary States,” the radical abolitionist senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts depicted North Africa as a disturbing analog to the American South, which he called the “Barbary States of America.”
Statehood and citizenship have always been slippery in Tangier, where even on foggy days you can look across the straits and see another continent and two nations, Spain and Britain. The consulate where De Long held his pirates still stands, although it has ceded its diplomatic function to the embassy in Rabat, the modern capital. Today the old consulate is open to visitors and houses a community center and museum full of treasures. Long a fixture in Tangier’s old city, the old consulate is the only National Historic Landmark outside the United States.
The view from the consulate’s roof terrace takes in the curving sweep of Tangier’s port and the straits beyond. One hundred and fifty years ago, De Long might have stood there to watch the Confederate Sumter burn Union ships. Today, you can stand on a roof in Tangier and watch as fast ferries loaded with tourists glide back and forth across the 14 miles that separate Tangier in Morocco from Tarifa in Spain. To those who attempt the deadly crossing in illegal boats, the straits must appear terribly wide and the watery line that separates nations as invisible as ever.