[Extracts, with enclosures.]

Mr. Schurz to Mr. Seward.

No. 39.]

Sir: I have the honor to transmit a copy of the speech delivered by the Queen at the opening of the Cortes on the 8th instant.

You will notice in that speech no mention is made of the events in the United States, nor of the position assumed by Spain in relation thereto, nor of the protest entered by the United States against the annexation of Dominica. To-day I called upon Mr. Calderon Collantes and requested him to explain to me, and through me to my government, the meaning of that omission. Mr. Calderon replied that he was happy to have an opportunity to prevent all misinterpretation of the royal speech as far as the United States was concerned. The government of Spain had already, in a solemn manner, manifested its policy in relation to the internal difficulties in the United States by the royal decree of the 17th of June; this matter being thus definitely settled, the government had not deemed it necessary to refer to it again. He would, however, confidentially imform me that he had prepared a paragraph for the royal speech on this subject; but that the speech being already very long, this and other matters of similar importance had been dropped. This paragraph which he recited to me contained an expression of regret at the unfortunate occurrences in the United States, and of the firm determination of her Majesty’s government faithfully to adhere to the policy indicated in the decree of June 17. He added that he would be happy to repeat this declaration in the Cortes if an interpellation should be addressed to him on the subject. As to our protest against the annexation of Dominica, he had not mentioned it in order to avoid if possible any discussion of that matter.

I may add that I believe this government to be sincere in their professions; [Page 478] not as though they loved the United States particularly, but they do not mean to provoke a difficulty with us, and will, I think, honestly endeavor to avoid a conflict with us under all circumstances. If the government of the United States show a corresponding temper, Spain will not think of recognizing the independence of the southern confederacy. A few days ago I had a conversation with General O’Donnell, who expressed himself very strongly and straight-forwardly to that effect. * * * * * my personal relations with this government are of the most satisfactory character, and the American legation is on every occasion the object of marked attention and respect.

The Queen’s speech is more liberal than was anticipated. The government has wisely concluded to concede without discussion several of the principal demands made by the opposition, and the consequence was, that in the test votes on parliamentary officers, the combined opposition did not show as much strength as had been calculated. The majority of the government in both branches of the legislature is very large, and the ministry, whose existence seemed to be very precarious but a short time ago, has apparently obtained a new lease of life. The opposition, however, although numerically weak, have nearly all the parliamentary talent of the Cortes on their side, and it would therefore be venturous to predict the result. The ministerial journals foreshadow the determination of the government to dissolve the Cortes in case an attempt be made by the opposition to impede the working of the governmental machinery by factious manoeuvres.

I am, sir, with great respect, your obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. G.


Sirs, Senators, and Deputies: It has always been gratifying to me to see myself surrounded by the true representatives of the country, but never more than on this day, when my mother-heart, borne down with sorrow, needs the consolations which God only, and those connected with us by ties of attachment and affection, can impart to us in periods of great affliction.

No change has occurred in our friendly relations with the powers of Europe since the adjournment of the labors of the Cortes.

The holy father, ever the object of tender and profound veneration to all Catholics, excites my continual interest and my filial solicitude. I have induced the governments of the nations which are under his holy direction to unite in the investigation of measures to secure to him in his states the peace and security needful to him, that he may exercise with independence the august functions of his sacred office; my feelings will stimulate me to continue those efforts, thus meeting the wishes of my subjects in whose hearts the religious faith of our fathers burns ardently.

I have the pleasure to announce to you that the differences which had occurred with Venezuela have been satisfactorily arranged. In this, as you will perceive, the inviolable principles of the law of nations have been maintained, giving to my subjects reparation due for the injuries of which they have been objects, and settling guarantees necessary to avert their unfortunate recurrence.

Disorder and outrage has reached a climax with the ill-omened people of [Page 479] Mexico. Treaties broken, rights trampled on, my subjects exposed to serious attempts and perpetual dangers, it was indispensable to set at this time an example of wholesome rigor and evidence of magnanimous generosity.

My government prepared all the elements for such results, when two great nations, whose tolerance towards that people can never be attributed to weakness, were the objects of fresh violence. The offence was common; the action should be collective. My government desired it Its endeavors to form the combination had previously been efficient and active, but the result did not correspond with our wishes. If now again the same should have occurred, the solution would have been energetic; its action immediate and decisive.

France, England, and Spain have agreed upon obtaining the reparation due for their grievances, and that necessary guarantees that the intolerable wrongs which have scandalized the world and given offence to humanity shall not be repeated in Mexico. By these means will be realized the idea to the carrying out of which my government had addressed its constant efforts. In due season it will give you an account of the convention which has been concluded for this purpose by the representatives of the three powers.

The presence of their naval and land forces at the most important points of the coasts of Mexico can do no less than call to reflection the parties who are destroying that unfortunate country. If peace should grow out of it, under the shelter of a strongly constituted government, we would congratulate ourselves upon having given to it at once the existence belonging to civilization, and also that of order combined with independence and liberty. Spain will always desire that the people of the American continent may be assured of maintaining the enjoyment of such inappreciable blessings.

The island of Hispaniola, the first discovery by which the great Columbus immortalized his name, has again become a part of the monarchy. The Dominican people, threatened by external enemies, exhausted by intestine disorders, in the midst of its conflicts invoked the august name of the nation to which it owed civilization and existence. To look upon its misfortunes unmoved; to turn a deaf ear to its wishes, inspired by lofty recollections and by a never-extinguished love for Spain, would have been unworthy of our noble nature. Convinced that they were unanimous, and acting of their free will, I have not hesitated to receive them, regarding the honor still more than the advantage of my people.

The Dominicans have seen their hopes realized. The elements of wealth shut up in their fertile soil begin to develop themselves in the bosom of a profound peace, and the zeal and justice of my government and of the authorities will sweep away the traces of past discord.

The army and squadron of Cuba, conveying to Santo Domingo the glorious standard of Castile, infused security to the inhabitants, their enemies with fear and respect. They were generous to the latter, because it has never been their mission to oppress the weak.

The execution of the stipulations of the treaty of Vad-Ras, which put an end to a glorious war, met with great difficulties. But to remove them the Sultan of Morocco sent to my court as ambassador his brother, the Prince Muley-el-abbes, and in a few days they were removed.

The convention which will be presented to you in no manner innovates on the treaty of peace. All the rights acquired thereby continue in their pristine vigor. In determining the mode of paying the indemnity of the war, I consulted the feelings of the Spanish nation; which is always generous after victory. She will ever accompany our flag if Divine Providence still reserves fresh combats for our army and navy. These, meantime, are models of discipline and fidelity.

[Page 480]

My government devotes its best endeavors to perfect its organization by increasing the elements of strength and power which secure to nations the wonderful advances of the sciences and of civilization.

The navy, whose development has already received a considerable impulse, will again occupy the high place from which errors and misfortunes caused it to descend; errors and misfortunes which, far from causing faintheartedness, ought to serve as a powerful stimulus and a profitable teaching.

Grave events, by their alarming tendency to society, disturbed public order in some towns of the province of Andalusia. To re-establish that, and to punish those guilty of such criminal attempts, it was not necessary to recur to extraordinary remedies. My government left free the action of the tribunals which the laws establish for such cases.

The definitive organization of the public administration calls for the prompt examination and approval of the projects of laws presented by the former legislature. The towns and provinces will attain, through laws suited to their remarkable improvement, the full intervention which they require in the direction of their affairs and of care for their interests, without any diminution of the means which the authorities need for the preservation everywhere of that public order which is the first necessity of states.

My government desires that the liberty of the press may be guaranteed by a law which may leave a wide field to the expression of thought, and at the same time repress the outbreaks of passion. To give sure pledges to individual liberty by reconciling it with public order and with the tutelar principles of association, is the great problem which political rules must solve to avoid the provocation of absurd reactions or unhappy disturbances. The reform of the electoral law will also soon call for your most profound attention. The extension of the privilege of voting will cause all legitimate interests to be represented in the assembly. Measures recommended by experience will prevent fraud or coercion from invading the purity of the ballot-box. The law repressing force and fraud secures the free expression of public opinion.

The government, in order to transfer to the Cortes the exercise of an important prerogative and to affirm the principle of the abolition of mortmain, will propose to the Cortes, in due time, an amendment to the constitutional reform in the terms which it has already announced.

My government will presently lay before you the estimates for the state for the present year. The product of existing imposts will suffice to cover ordinary expenses, and being connected with the resources which you had previously provided to meet the necessary improvement of the public works, of the navy, and of materials of war, it will not be necessary to call for fresh sacrifices from the people.

The public instruction has had from my government the most constant solicitude, and will soon attain the perfection desired if the Cortes continues to lend its enlightened protection to this important branch, on whose good organization depends in great part the welfare and the glory of nations. My government will lay before you for this purpose suitable drafts of laws.

The impulse given to the public works has contributed efficiently to the increase of the fortune and prosperity of the country. My government will present to the Cortes drafts of suitable laws for promoting the construction of canals of irrigation, and for the use and improvement of waters, which will contribute to the progress of agriculture and industry. These interests claim the prompt discussion of the project presented to the former legislature upon banks of commerce and emission of notes by companies who are grantees of public works. Projects of important laws upon territorial credit, the organization of tribunals of commerce, and the reform of mercantile associations of shareholders, will complete the series of measures [Page 481] which my government considers necessary to the rapid increase of the public wealth.

The prosperity of the provinces beyond sea is a constant object of my maternal solicitude; their administrative organization improves constantly by institutions and reforms already tried in the peninsula, the establishment of which I have fostered, accommodating them to the special circumstances of those people. It is to be hoped that extraordinary accidents, which produced such great disturbance in the industrial and mercantile relations of the whole world, may affect only temporarily the progressive development of the great elements of wealth they contain.

Arduous, thorny, but still grand and magnificent, is the mission of legislators and of governments in this epoch of prodigious transformations; vain would be the effort to fill it without the aid of God, and without the exercise of the virtues which make a people worthy of the blessings of liberty. By practicing them with constancy, and united in one feeling—the common love of country—our efforts elevating it each day in the consideration of other nations, will conduct it free from sad revulsions, and under shelter of constitutional institutions, to the high destinies which Providence holds in reserve for it.