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Perdicaris Affair: Topics in Chronicling America

The 1904 kidnapping of Ion Perdicaris demonstrated President Theodore Roosevelt's display and use of force. This guide provides access to materials related to the "Perdicaris Affair" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


Photograph of Ion Perdicaris and sketch of activities after the kidnapping. June 4, 1904. The San Francisco Call (City, State), Image 1. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

Ion Perdicaris, an American businessman, is kidnapped on May 18, 1904 in Tangier, Morocco and held for ransom. President Theodore Roosevelt demands that the Moroccan government obtain Perdicaris' release and orders Navy ships to Morocco. Perdicaris is eventually released unharmed, and the incident is now often remembered for the statement made by US Secretary of State John Hay, "Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead." Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.


May 18, 1904 Ion Perdicaris, a Greek-American citizen, and his stepson are kidnapped by a Moroccan brigand, Ahmed ibn-Muhammed Raisuli, in Tangier, Morocco. Raisuli demands ransom payments and political influence in exchange for Perdicaris’ safe return.
May 19, 1904 President Roosevelt orders a naval squadron to Morocco.
May 31, 1904 France offers her assistance in resolving the affair.
June 22, 1904 U.S. Secretary of State John Hay dispatches an ultimatum to the Moroccan sultan demanding “Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead.”
June 24, 1904 Raisuli’s demands are met, and Perdicaris is released.