Which country has America recognized as a country

Was Morocco the first country to recognize the US?

Wikipedia says:

In December 1777, the Moroccan Sultan Muhammad III added the United States to a list of countries to which Morocco's ports were open. Morocco was the first country whose head of state officially recognized the newly independent United States.

However, the quote offered on the U.S. Department of State website does not support Wikipedia's claim, and Archive.org shows that it never did. The State Department says:

Which country was the first to recognize the United States?

France recognized the United States as an independent state on February 6, 1778.

The quote is wrong, but who is right, Wikipedia or the State Department?

Let's look at an article entitled "Diplomatic Initiatives of Moroccan Sultan Sidi Muhammad Ibn Abdallah Towards the United States, 1777-1786" ( Proc. At the. Phil. Soc. 143 (2) (1999), 233-265).

[In the autumn of 1777 the Moroccan] Ambassador Tahar Abdulhaq Fennish arrived in the Bay of Marseilles aboard a French ship ... British Consult Charles Logie [wrote] "I have reason to believe that his primary mandate to this court was one Negotiate peace with the [American] rebel agents. "

Official American documents are silent on the matter, but according to the diary of Arthur Lee, the Virginia commissioner, not only were American representatives in France aware of Ambassador Fennish's presence in Paris, but the subject of the meeting with him was also raised . "Mr. Lee had often petitioned the court to assist them in drafting a treaty with the Emperor of Morocco while his ambassador was in Paris. After much trouble, it was finally agreed that Mr. Lee should be the next day to Versailles and ask Mr Girard's advice. The next day he went accordingly. Mr Girard said the Moroccan ambassador was due to leave Paris that evening and therefore nothing could be done. "In truth, Tahar Fennish had only left Paris for five days later.

December 1777 marked the turning point in the United States' quest for French recognition. When France received the news of the Americans' victory in Saratoga in October in early December, France made the important decision to go public in support of the Americans ...

The conspirators might wonder whether France intentionally kept the Americans and Moroccans apart, or - at best - avoided bringing them together. It is only possible that France preferred to make the Americans dependent on them for protection from Barbary ...

In a letter to General Eliott in Gibraltar dated December 17th, the Sultan said: "He is at peace with the Americans and regards them and the English as alike. If they have disputes among themselves, His Majesty has nothing." to do with. "In obvious contradiction, he wrote to General Eliott two days later, saying that" he was at peace with all English except the Americans, who are rebels. "The next day, December 20, 1777, the Sultan addressed a letter To the consuls and merchants of Tangier, which lists the countries with free access to Moroccan ports, with the Americans among them.

The King of Morocco, Monseigneur, has written from an English businessman who has been in Meknes to all consultations and merchants in his rule so that they can draw attention in Europe to the fact that this prince is granting free entry to his ports to the nations of Russia , Malta, Sardinia, Prussia, Naples, Hungary, Livorno, Germany and the Americans ...

These three main sources may sound contradicting and ambiguous (writing "the Americans" instead of "the United States"). The following article provides primary sources that confirm this is a targeted strategy of the Sultan who really tried to officially recognize the US but was concerned about the political ramifications at such an early stage and was likely pressured by both France and Britain.

There is no evidence that this was officially communicated to Americans at the time, although a cryptic message from Charles WF Dumas suggests that it may have been. This fervently pro-American European was America's agent in The Hague. In a letter of March 6, 1778 to the American commissioners, Dumas contained several excerpts from official Dutch broadcasts, including a reference to the correspondent of "Webster Blount ..."

The sultan appears to have wanted a formal relationship but may have been concerned about the reaction of the European powers.The official but cautious declaration of December 20, 1777 could well have been an experimental balloon. Webster Blount wrote to the States General in a letter dated February 25, 1778 from Mogador that "the Sultan originally intended to confine his declaration to the Americans, but changed his mind and made the declaration more general ..." The French Consul played down the letter; and there seems to have been little or no other European response. Two months after the cautious declaration, the Sultan officially reissued it on February 20, 1778. This became more widespread.

Brief Summary: A Moroccan ambassador intended to meet the Americans in France and officially recognize them in the fall of 1777, but was mysteriously prevented from meeting them by French mediators. In December 1777, Morocco officially recognized America. According to the historian quoted, this was one official, legal recognition by the Sultan, but he deliberately kept this recognition secret and hidden from the European powers, sending them mixed messages in his formal letters, probably to prevent them from beating him with sanctions or other punishments. In February 1778, after France recognized America, the Sultan made its recognition more open.

The Moroccan rumor that they were the first sovereign state to recognize the US is technical correctly what is the best kind of accuracy.


Very detailed, thank you @Avery for your time. I understand very well that the Sultan would recognize the US without the knowledge of the Europeans, but what is the form of this "recognition" (before it is officially announced), that is, does there have diplomatic economic relations that can be considered recognition?


@Mokata This statement meant that Moroccan merchants could theoretically do business with American ships. In practice, this meant that the Sultan hoped to bypass French naval power and enter into direct negotiations with the Americans to negotiate tribute from them and promise an end to piracy. A promise of peace was formally made in 1786 to keep Morocco out of the Barbary Wars.


Great discussion Thanks @Avey!