WASHINGTON, DC— Today marks the 225th anniversary of the US Senate’s 1787 vote to ratify what is now the longest standing treaty in America’s history — the US-Morocco "Treaty of Peace and Friendship." More than two centuries later, the treaty continues to define the special and strategic relationship between two of the oldest and closest allies across the Atlantic.
Formal relations between Morocco and the US began in 1777, when Morocco became the first country to recognize the American colonies as a nation. As George Washington and his troops took the field to make good on the Continental Congress' Declaration of Independence, the Sultan of Morocco, Mohammed III, granted American ships recognition and safe passage through the Straits of Gibraltar and in Moroccan ports.
Negotiations began in 1783 on a formal treaty of commerce and friendship, which was signed in 1786 by John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. On July 18, 1787, Congress ratified the treaty, which set forth the framework for diplomatic relations, assurances of non-hostility, access to markets on "most favoured nation" basis, and protection of US ships from attack by foreign vessels in Moroccan waters.
As US President in 1789, George Washington wrote Mohammed III to thank him for Morocco's support:
"This young nation, just recovering from the waste and desolation of a long war, has not, as yet, had time to acquire riches by agriculture or commerce. But our soil is beautiful, and our people industrious and we have reason to flatter ourselves that we shall gradually become useful to our friends. I shall not cease to promote every measure that may conduce to the friendship and harmony which so happily subsist between your empire and [the US]."
Since then, the 235-year Morocco-US relationship has continued to advance:
- During World War I, Morocco backed the Allied forces and Moroccan soldiers fought alongside US Marines in France;
- During World War II, Morocco hosted the Casablanca Conference in 1943 to plan Allied strategy in Europe;
- In 1963, Morocco was among the first countries to invite the Peace Corps to assist in development projects;
- Morocco is one of only 20 countries with a Free Trade Agreement with the US, signed in 2004;
- Morocco is also a steadfast ally against terrorism and continues to be an important leader for reform in the North Africa and Middle East region.