It is not too much to say that General Lyautey has twice saved Morocco from destruction: once in 1912, when the inertia and double-dealing of Abd-el-Hafid abandoned the country to the rebellious tribes who had attacked him in Fez, and the second time in August, 1914, when Germany declared war on France.

In 1912, in consequence of the threatening attitude of the dissident tribes and the generally disturbed condition of the country, the Sultan Abd-el-Hafid had asked France to establish a protectorate in Morocco. The agreement entered into, called the "Convention of Fez," stipulated that a French Resident-General should be sent to Morocco with authority to act as the Sultan's sole representative in treating with the other powers. The convention was signed in March, 1912, and a few days afterward an uprising more serious than any that had gone before took place in Fez. This sudden outbreak was due in part to purely local and native difficulties, in part to the intrinsic weakness of the French situation. The French government had imagined that a native army commanded by French officers could be counted on to support the Makhzen and maintain order, but Abd-el-Hafid's growing unpopularity had estranged his own people from him, and the army turned on the government and on the French. On the 17th of April, 1912, the Moroccan soldiers massacred their French officers after inflicting horrible tortures on them, the population of Fez rose against the European civilians, and for a fortnight the Oued Fez ran red with the blood of harmless French colonists. It was then that France appointed General Lyautey Resident-General in Morocco.

When he reached Fez it was besieged by twenty thousand Berbers. Rebel tribes were flocking in to their support, to the cry of the Holy War, and the terrified Sultan, who had already announced his intention of resigning, warned the French troops who were trying to protect him that unless they guaranteed to get him safely to Rabat he would turn his influence against them. Two days afterward the Berbers attacked Fez and broke in at two gates. The French drove them out and forced them back twenty miles. The outskirts of the city were rapidly fortified, and a few weeks later General Gouraud, attacking the rebels in the valley of the Sebou, completely disengaged Fez.

The military danger overcome. General Lyautey began his great task of civilian administration. His aim was to support and strengthen the existing government, to reassure and pacify the distrustful and antagonistic elements, and to assert French authority without irritating or discouraging native ambitions.

Meanwhile a new Mahdi (Ahmed-el-Hiba) had risen in the south. Treacherously supported by Abd-el-Hafid, he was proclaimed Sultan at Tiznit, and acknowledged by the whole of the Souss. In Marrakech, native unrest had caused the Europeans to fly to the coast, and in the north a new group of rebellious tribes menaced Fez.

El-Hiba entered Marrakech in August, 1912, and the French consul and several other French residents were taken prisoner. El-Hiba's forces then advanced to a point half way between Marrakech and Mazagan, where General Mangin, at that time a colonial colonel, met and utterly routed them. The disorder in the south, and the appeals of the native population for protection against the savage depredations of the new Mahdist rebels, made it necessary for the French troops to follow up their success, and in September Marrakech was taken.

Such were the swift and brilliant results of General Lyautey's intervention. The first difficulties had been quickly overcome; others, far more complicated, remained. The military occupation of Morocco had to be followed up by its civil reorganization. By the Franco-German treaty of 1911 Germany had finally agreed to recognize the French protectorate in Morocco; but in spite of an apparently explicit acknowledgment of this right, Germany, as usual, managed to slip into the contract certain ambiguities of form that were likely to lead to future trouble.

To obtain even this incomplete treaty France had had to sacrifice part of her colonies in equatorial Africa; and in addition to the uncertain relation with Germany there remained the dead weight of the Spanish zone and the confused international administration of Tangier. The disastrously misgoverned Spanish zone has always been a centre for German intrigue and native conspiracies, as well as a permanent obstacle to the economic development of Morocco.

Such were the problems that General Lyautey found awaiting him. A long colonial experience, and an unusual combination of military and administrative talents, prepared him for the almost impossible task of dealing with them. Swift and decisive when military action is required, he has above all the long views and endless patience necessary to the successful colonial governor. The policy of France in Morocco had been weak and spasmodic; in his hands it became firm and consecutive. A sympathetic understanding of the native prejudices, and a real affection for the native character, made him try to build up an administration which should be, not an application of French ideas to African conditions, but a development of the best native aspirations. The difficulties were immense. The attempt to govern as far as possible through the Great Chiefs was a wise one, but it was hampered by the fact that these powerful leaders, however loyal to the Protectorate, knew no methods of administration but those based on extortion. It was necessary at once to use them and to educate them; and one of General Lyautey's greatest achievements has been the successful employment of native ability in the government of the country.


The first thing to do was to create a strong frontier against the dissident tribes of the Blad-es-Siba. To do this it was necessary that the French should hold the natural defenses of the country, the foothills of the Little and of the Great Atlas, and the valley of the Moulouya, which forms the corridor between western Algeria and Morocco. This was nearly accomplished in 1914 when war broke out.

At that moment the home government cabled the Resident-General to send all his available troops to France, abandoning the whole of conquered territory except the coast towns. To do so would have been to give France's richest colonies[A] outright to Germany at a moment when what they could supply - meat and wheat - was exactly what the enemy most needed.

[Footnote A: The loss of Morocco would inevitably have been followed by that of the whole of French North Africa.]

General Lyautey took forty-eight hours to consider. He then decided to "empty the egg without breaking the shell", and the reply he sent was that of a great patriot and a great general. In effect he said: "I will give you all the troops you ask, but instead of abandoning the interior of the country I will hold what we have already taken, and fortify and enlarge our boundaries." No other military document has so nearly that ring as Marshal Foch's immortal Marne despatch (written only a few weeks later): "My centre is broken, my right wing is wavering, the situation is favorable and I am about to attack."

General Lyautey had framed his answer in a moment of patriotic exaltation, when the soul of every Frenchman was strung up to a superhuman pitch. But the pledge once made, it had to be carried out, and even those who most applauded his decision wondered how he would meet the almost insuperable difficulties it involved. Morocco, when he was called there, was already honeycombed by German trading interests and secret political intrigue, and the fruit seemed ready to fall when the declaration of war shook the bough. The only way to save the colony for France was to keep its industrial and agricultural life going, and give to the famous "business as usual" a really justifiable application.

General Lyautey completely succeeded, and the first impression of all travellers arriving in Morocco two years later was that of suddenly returning to a world in normal conditions. There was even, so complete was the illusion, a first moment of almost painful surprise on entering an active prosperous community, seemingly absorbed in immediate material interests to the exclusion of all thought of the awful drama that was being played out in the mother country, and it was only on reflection that this absorption in the day's task, and this air of smiling faith in the future, were seen to be Morocco's truest way of serving France.

For not only was France to be supplied with provisions, but the confidence in her ultimate triumph was at all costs to be kept up in the native mind. German influence was as deep-seated as a cancer: to cut it out required the most drastic of operations. And that operation consisted precisely in letting it be seen that France was strong and prosperous enough for her colonies to thrive and expand without fear while she held at bay on her own frontier the most formidable foe the world has ever seen. Such was the "policy of the smile," consistently advocated by General Lyautey from the beginning of the war, and of which he and his household were the first to set the example.


The General had said that he would not "break the egg-shell"; but he knew that this was not enough, and that he must make it appear unbreakable if he were to retain the confidence of the natives.

How this was achieved, with the aid of the few covering troops left him, is still almost incomprehensible. To hold the line was virtually impossible: therefore he pushed it forward. An anonymous writer inL'Afrique Francaise (January, 1917) has thus described the manoeuvre: "General Henrys was instructed to watch for storm-signals on the front, to stop up the cracks, to strengthen weak points and to rectify doubtful lines. Thanks to these operations, which kept the rebels perpetually harassed by always forestalling their own plans, the occupied territory was enlarged by a succession of strongly fortified positions." While this was going on in the north, General Lamothe was extending and strengthening, by means of pacific negotiations, the influence of the Great Chiefs in the south, and other agents of the Residency were engaged in watching and thwarting the incessant German intrigues in the Spanish zone.

General Lyautey is quoted as having said that "a work-shop is worth a battalion." This precept he managed to put into action even during the first dark days of 1914, and the interior development of Morocco proceeded side by side with the strengthening of its defenses. Germany had long foreseen what an asset northwest Africa would be during the war; and General Lyautey was determined to prove how right Germany had been. He did so by getting the government, to whom he had given nearly all his troops, to give him in exchange an agricultural and industrial army, or at least enough specialists to form such an army out of the available material in the country. For every battle fought a road was made;[A] for every rebel fortress shelled a factory was built, a harbor developed, or more miles of fallow land ploughed and sown.

[Footnote A: During the first year of the war roads were built in Morocco by German prisoners, and it was because Germany was so thoroughly aware of the economic value of the country, and so anxious not to have her prestige diminished, that she immediately protested, on the absurd plea of the unwholesomeness of the climate, and threatened reprisals unless the prisoners were withdrawn.]

But this economic development did not satisfy the Resident. He wished Morocco to enlarge her commercial relations with France and the other allied countries, and with this object in view he organized and carried out with brilliant success a series of exhibitions at Casablanca, Fez and Rabat. The result of this bold policy surpassed even its creator's hopes. The Moroccans of the plain are an industrious and money-loving people, and the sight of these rapidly improvised exhibitions, where the industrial and artistic products of France and other European countries were shown in picturesque buildings grouped about flower-filled gardens, fascinated their imagination and strengthened their confidence in the country that could find time for such an effort in the midst of a great war. The Voice of the Bazaar carried the report to the farthest confines of Moghreb, and one by one the notabilities of the different tribes arrived, with delegations from Algeria and Tunisia. It was even said that several rebel chiefs had submitted to the Makhzen in order not to miss the Exhibition.

At the same time as the "Miracle of the Marne" another, less famous but almost as vital to France, was being silently performed at the other end of her dominions. It will not seem an exaggeration to speak of General Lyautey's achievement during the first year of the war as the "Miracle of Morocco" if one considers the immense importance of doing what he did at the moment when he did it. And to understand this it is only needful to reckon what Germany could have drawn in supplies and men from a German North Africa, and what would have been the situation of France during the war with a powerful German colony in control of the western Mediterranean.

General Lyautey has always been one of the clear-sighted administrators who understand that the successful government of a foreign country depends on many little things, and not least on the administrator's genuine sympathy with the traditions, habits and tastes of the people. A keen feeling for beauty had prepared him to appreciate all that was most exquisite and venerable in the Arab art of Morocco, and even in the first struggle with political and military problems he found time to gather about him a group of archaeologists and artists who were charged with the inspection and preservation of the national monuments and the revival of the languishing native art-industries. The old pottery, jewelry, metal-work, rugs and embroideries of the different regions were carefully collected and classified, schools of decorative art were founded, skilled artisans sought out, and every effort was made to urge European residents to follow native models and use native artisans in building and furnishing.

At the various Exhibitions much space was allotted to these revived industries, and the matting of Sale, the rugs of Rabat, the embroideries of Fez and Marrakech have already found a ready market in France, besides awakening in the educated class of colonists an appreciation of the old buildings and the old arts of the country that will be its surest safeguard against the destructive effects of colonial expansion. It is only necessary to see the havoc wrought in Tunisia and Algeria by the heavy hand of the colonial government to know what General Lyautey has achieved in saving Morocco from this form of destruction also.

All this has been accomplished by the Resident-General during five years of unexampled and incessant difficulty; and probably the true explanation of the miracle is that which he himself gives when he says, with the quiet smile that typifies his Moroccan war-policy: "It was easy to do because I loved the people."



Owing to the fact that the neglected and roadless Spanish zone intervened between the French possessions and Tangier, which is the natural port of Morocco, one of the first preoccupations of General Lyautey was to make ports along the inhospitable Atlantic coast, where there are no natural harbours.

Since 1912, in spite of the immense cost and the difficulty of obtaining labour, the following has been done:

Casablanca. A jetty 1900 metres long has been planned: 824 metres finished December, 1917.

Small jetty begun 1916, finished 1917 - length 330 metres. Small harbour thus created shelters small boats (150 tons) in all weathers.

Quays 747 metres long already finished.

16 steam-cranes working.

Warehouses and depots covering 41,985 square metres completed.

Rabat. Work completed December, 1917.

A quay 200 metres long, to which boats with a draught of three metres can tie up.

Two groups of warehouses, steam-cranes, etc., covering 22,600 square metres.

A quay 100 metres long on the Sale side of the river.

Kenitra. The port of Kenitra is at the mouth of the Sebou River, and is capable of becoming a good river port.

The work up to December, 1917, comprises:

A channel 100 metres long and three metres deep, cut through the bar of the Sebou.

Jetties built on each side of the channel.

Quay 100 metres long.

Building of sheds, depots, warehouses, steam-cranes, etc.

At the ports of Fedalah, Mazagan, Safi, Mogador and Agadir similar plans are in course of execution.



     1912 1918 Total Commerce Total Commerce Fcs 177,737,723 Fcs 386,238,618

    Exports Exports Fcs 67,080,383 Fcs 116,148,081


National roads 2,074 kilometres Secondary roads 569 "


622 kilometres


1915 1918

Approximate area Approximate area 21,165 17 hectares 1,681,308 03 hectares


1. Creation of French courts for French nationals and those under French protection. These take cognizance of civil cases where both parties, or even one, are amenable to French jurisdiction.

2. Moroccan law is Moslem, and administered by Moslem magistrates. Private law, including that of inheritance, is based on the Koran. The Sultan has maintained the principle whereby real property and administrative cases fall under native law. These courts are as far as possible supervised and controlled by the establishment of a Cherifian Ministry of Justice to which the native Judges are responsible. Special care is taken to prevent the alienation of property held collectively, or any similar transactions likely to produce political and economic disturbances.

3. Criminal jurisdiction is delegated to Pashas and Cadis by the Sultan, except of offenses committed against, or in conjunction with, French nationals and those under French protection. Such cases come before the tribunals of the French Protectorate.


The object of the Protectorate has been, on the one hand, to give to the children of French colonists in Morocco the same education as they would have received at elementary and secondary schools in France; on the other, to provide the indigenous population with a system of education that shall give to the young Moroccans an adequate commercial or manual training, or prepare them for administrative posts, but without interfering with their native customs or beliefs.

Before 1912 there existed in Morocco only a few small schools supported by the French Legation at Tangier and by the Alliance Francaise, and a group of Hebrew schools in the Mellahs, maintained by the Universal Israelite Alliance.

1912. Total number of schools 37 1918. " " " " 191

1912. Total number of pupils 3006 1918. " " " " 21,520

1912. Total number of teachers 61 1918. " " " " 668

In addition to the French and indigenous schools, sewing-schools have been formed for the native girls and have been exceptionally successful.

Moslem colleges have been founded at Rabat and Fez in order to supplement the native education of young Mahometans of the upper classes, who intend to take up wholesale business or banking, or prepare for political, judicial or administrative posts under the Sultan's government. The course lasts four years and comprises: Arabic, French, mathematics, history, geography, religious (Mahometan) instruction, and the law of the Koran.

The "Ecole Superieure de la langue arabe et des dialectes berberes" at Rabat receives European and Moroccan students. The courses are Arabic, the Berber dialects, Arab literature, ethnography, administrative Moroccan law, Moslem law, Berber customary law.


The Protectorate has established 113 medical centres for the native population, ranging from simple dispensaries and small native infirmaries to the important hospitals of Rabat, Fez, Meknez, Marrakech, and Casablanca.

Mobile sanitary formations supplied with light motor ambulances travel about the country, vaccinating, making tours of sanitary inspection, investigating infected areas, and giving general hygienic education throughout the remoter regions.

Native patients treated in 1916 over 900,000 
   " " " " 1917 " 1,220,800

Night-shelters in towns. Every town is provided with a shelter for the indigent wayfarers so numerous in Morocco. These shelters are used as disinfection centres, from which suspicious cases are sent to quarantine camp at the gates of the towns.

Central Laboratory at Rabat. This is a kind of Pasteur Institute. In 1917, 210,000 persons were vaccinated throughout the country and 356 patients treated at the Laboratory for rabies.

Clinics for venereal diseases have been established at Casablanca, Fez, Rabat, and Marrakech.

More than 15,000 cases were treated in 1917.

Ophthalmic clinics in the same cities gave in 1917, 44,600 consultations.

Radiotherapy. Clinics have been opened at Fez and Rabat for the treatment of skin diseases of the head, from which the native children habitually suffer.

The French Department of Health distributes annually immense quantities of quinine in the malarial districts.

Madame Lyautey's private charities comprise admirably administered child-welfare centres in the principal cities, with dispensaries for the native mothers and children.