Consul, Wrapped In Flag: Odd Legation Tales

On this Fourth of July, when across the United States, and in those places overseas where Americans meet, the red, white and blue decorates many a barbecue and picnic, we display this gift of Moroccans to Americans, dating back to the late 1950s.

TALIM US 48 star Carpet Flag
American flags haven't flown over the Legation in, what, more than 50 years?  It was in 1961 that the building ceased to house the US Consulate General in Tangier, which moved to a new building.  But in the previous century and a half, Tangier had its share of flag incidents, involving Consuls with, as we would say these days, "issues."

From the State Department Office of the Historian, on James Leib, US Consul Tangier 1832 to 1838:

Near the end of his tour, Leib became an alcoholic and had fits of delirium tremens.  According to his successor, Thomas N. Carr, Leib would wrap himself in an American flag and “would spend whole nights upon the terrace, making signals, . . . to the fleet which he had ordered from the Mediterranean for the purpose of battering the town; at the same time uttering the most discordant sounds, and alarming all the inhabitants.”

TALIM Legation flag 1849Successor Carr (who actually served in Tangier on three different occasions) had troubles of his own:

Carr in turn quarreled with Moroccan authorities over the protocol of his departure.  When he left post in 1842, he chopped down the consular flagpole, which was a sign that relations had been severed.  Carr was reappointed in 1845, but disputes with Moroccan authorities and with the British consul led to his recall in 1848.

We don't know if the drawing at right depicts the repaired flagpole, but it does date to 1849, when Thomas Hart Hyatt had replaced the turbulent Carr. [Image from the State Department OBO Historic Structure Report].

So, on this Fourth of July, when the Legation neither flies the Stars and Stripes nor shoots off fireworks, we wish our readers and supporters a happy Independence Day.  In fact, we just welcomed an American group from Global Lab (Learning Across Borders), as well as a Fulbright scholar from Fez, who decided that she'd spend the 4th of July in America's oldest and first diplomatic building.  We hope it's a Fourth that they won't forget!

Gerald Loftus

2 thoughts on “Consul, Wrapped In Flag: Odd Legation Tales”

  1. I’ve been thinking of the beautiful Legation all this 4th of July! I remember seeing that beautiful old flag when I was there in June for “Miss Wolfe’s Tangier Stories.” Happy Independence Day to all of you!

  2. My best memory of Independence Day at the Legation in Tangier? ICE CREAM, probably courtesy of the U.S. Sixth Fleet. One year they(the Navy)even provided fireworks in the harbor.

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