Gummeré, Samuel Réne

Samuel Réne Gummeré (1849-1920) served as the American consul general in Morocco from 1898 until 1905 when he was appointed the first United States minister to Morocco by President Theodore Roosevelt. Gummeré served in that position until Roosevelt left office in 1909.

Born in Trenton, New Jersey, the son of Barker and Elizabeth Stryker, Gummeré graduated from Princeton in 1870. After training with his attorney father, Gummeré was admitted to the bar in 1873. From 1881-1884, he served as secretary to two American ministers at the Hague: James Birney and William L. Dayton, Jr.  Gummeré’s international experience and his protest against the habit of the U.S. consulate in Tangier of issuing illegal American citizenship papers brought him to the attention of President William McKinley, who made him consul general in Morocco.

During the 1904 Perdicaris incident it was Gummeré to whom Secretary of State John Hay sent orders by way of the famous telegram requesting “Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead.” Ion Perdicaris was an affluent friend of Gummeré’s from New Jersey living at that time as an expatriate in Morocco. Powerful Berber chieftan Mulai Ahmed er Raisuli kidnapped Perdicaris, demanding a ransom of $70,000 (in Spanish dollars) and other concessions from Abd al-Aziz, the Sultan of Morocco. Gummeré advised the president to employ the U.S. military against Raisuli, but Roosevelt and Hay were concerned with Morocco’s fate, hanging as it was on decisions made by Germany, Spain, France, and Great Britain. As negotiations dragged on, Roosevelt decided to divert some of the ships of his “Great White Fleet” to Morocco’s coast. He employed his “big stick” diplomacy to remind the Sultan that the United States wanted Perdicaris back alive. Meanwhile, Gummeré met with the French and British ambassadors and convinced them to pressure the Sultan to find a way to free Perdicaris. His work helped to defuse a volatile international situation which became more complicated when Gummeré, Hay, and Roosevelt learned that Perdicaris was not, in fact, a U.S. citizen. For Roosevelt, who knew that Raisuli believed he had captured an American, the principle held: the U.S. had to protect its people. Perdicaris was freed, turned over to Gummeré, and later given U.S. citizenship.

For his successful negotiations, on March 8, 1905, President Roosevelt made Gummeré America’s first minister to Morocco. In that capacity, Gummeré and the U.S. Ambassador to Italy, Henry White, worked as Roosevelt’s envoys to smooth the friction between France and Germany concerning Morocco at the Algeciras Conference of 1906.

Samuel Gummeré ended his civil service career in 1909, moved to England, volunteered during World War I, and died at home in 1920.