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VCU Libraries Community Zooms: Spies, Pirates, Lions and Literature: US-Moroccan Relations and the Bicentennial of the American Legation in Tangier

10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. June 17, 2021

The Old American Legation in the medina (walled city) of Tangier, Morocco, is unique in several ways. Gifted to the U.S. by the Moroccan Sultan in 1821, the Legation was the first property the U.S. owned abroad. It was an active diplomatic presence longer than any other site, and is the only site on the National Register of Historic Places located abroad. Today the structure houses a museum, cultural center and research library, maintained by a U.S.-based NGO and a small local staff.

In this presentation, VCU alumnus Michael A. Toler, Ph.D. (B.A.’88/H&S), the Archnet content manager in the Aga Khan Documentation Center, MIT Libraries, sets out to challenge some common perceptions about power and its hierarchies by taking a closer look at the Legation’s history, including correspondence between the Moroccan sultan and U.S. presidents in the late 18th century, the role of the Legation when Tangier was an international zone, the second World War and the new role of the Legation in the local community since opening as a museum in 1976. It also touches upon some unusual episodes in the Legation’s history, such as the pair of lions that briefly resided on premises and the dispatching of American Marines in a case of mistaken identity.

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Learn more about VCU Libraries’ Community Zooms.




Gregory Kimbrell
(804) 393-2951