|Morocco was the last independent nation in the northern half of Africa. On May 18th, a wealthy American retiree and his English stepson were kidnapped by forces opposed to the Sultan of Morocco. The incident began a scramble among the European powers to gain control over the country. France laid the first claim. In a surprise move, the Germans opposed the French claim. On March 31, the German Kaiser made a visit to Tangiers and in a hasty speech at the dock, stated that Germany continued to recognize the Sultan as the independent ruler of Morocco. The crisis began and fears of imminent war spread. The crisis was defused at the Algeciras Conference convened in January 1906.