Mr. Wilson to Mr. Seward

No. 6.]

Sir: On the 28th ultimo, that being the day set apart by the government of Venezuela for the celebration of the anniversary of the birth of “the liberator,” Simon Bolivar, the diplomatic body was received by General Leon Colina, the executive in charge of the republic, and the cabinet, in the government palace, at 11 o’clock a. m.

On this occasion, as the representative of the diplomatic body, I delivered the congratulatory address, in my colleagues name and in my own, to the government.

This address (a copy of which I enclose, marked enclosure 1) has, I am happy to say, met with general commendation.

The spectators with whom the reception hall was crowded manifested their approval, during its delivery, by repeated and enthusiastic applause.

The copy of the reply of his excellency the primer designado (General Colina) is herewith enclosed, marked enclosure 2.

As appertaining to the events of the day, I also forward a newspaper slip taken from an editorial article in “El Federalista,” the leading journal of Venezuela. This enclosure, with its translation, is marked enclosure 3.

With much respect, I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,


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

[Page 446]
No. 1.


Your Excellency: I am happy that it has devolved upon me to offer, in the name of my colleagues of the diplomatic body, and in my own, our congratulations to the government on this, the commemorative festival of Venezuela’s noblest son—the hero, patriot, and sage— the illustrious Simon Bolivar, father and liberator of the South American republics.

Scion, as he was, of a noble family, nurtured in the lap of luxury, highly educated and highly endowed, he devoted himself, his talents, and his wealth to giving to his native land the blessed boon of liberty.

With everything to lose in the way of position, wealth, and worldly honors, he strove, with a noble ambition, to free his beloved land from the chains which bound her to a distant kingdom, and trusting in justice and in his God, he happily and gloriously succeeded, leaving to a grateful posterity to erect that monument to his memory which, more lasting than monumental marble, shall live forever in the hearts of his countrymen.

Happy should Venezuela be to have given birth to such a man; but although Venezuela claims him as a son, all men claim him as a brother, for the character, the deeds, and inspirations of Bolivar, in making him the friend of his fellow men, made him likewise a citizen of the world.

Here are gathered about you, sir, the representatives of different nations, of empires, kingdoms, and republics, and not one—I am sure I speak their feelings, as my own—not one who does not sincerely feel that the glory of Bolivar is a just and true glory, deriving its halo from the purest motives which could actuate the human breast, and who does not fully appreciate the respect and veneration in which his memory is held. For, as a gentleman, he he was polished and courteous; as a statesman, he was profound; as a leader, he was humane; as a soldier, he possessed the happy faculty of animating others with his own indomitable courage and perseverance, until even his enemies themselves declared that he was more to be feared after a defeat than after a victory; in a word, he was one of nature’s noblemen, his every aspiration and every hope, honor and liberty!

Once again, your Excellency, I beg to renew to you the congratulations of the diplomatic body, and to express the hope that the institutions of Bolivar, built on the foundation of his genius, and cemented by the blood of so many heroic men, may be as lasting as the great hero’s memory, and endure forever!

No. 2.


Mr. President of the Diplomatic Body: With careful attention I have listened to the congratulations which, in your own name and in that of the other members of the diplomatic body here present, you offer to the government on this day, which the nation has consecrated to the memory of the liberator. A knowledge of our history, and in particular that of Bolivar, elevated and impartial judgment of his motives and his deeds, the qualification of his titles to the gratitude of human kind, that eloquent enthusiasm which the love of liberty inspires, all this and more are revealed in the bold sketches with which you describe the sublime gifts and glories whose remembrance crowd upon our agitated minds.

It is for me a pure satisfaction to see how the illustrious nations on whose part you speak— and who it cannot be supposed under the powerful influence of love of country—have on this solemn occasion done that full justice to his noble cause, to the man of South American liberty, to be doubtless continued and affirmed by posterity. After having listened to you, I feel more than ever proud of being a Venezuelan, a compatriot of Bolivar, and I regard as a special favor of Providence that it has been given to me to hear from your lips that brilliant testimony of the appreciation in which you hold his work, and your kind wishes for its perpetual preservation.

Not less will the grand citizen marshal (Talcon) be delighted; he who admires almost to idolatry the eminent son of Caracas, whose example has taught us to venerate him (Bolivar,) whose honorable conduct towards the witnesses and companions of his dangers is known to all, and whose particular words, even yet ringing in our ears, with which he addressed one who consoled the hero in his last hours, are like the far echo of the sentiments with which, saving the distance, he comes to share in the national rejoicing.

Great must seem to him who contemplates it the magnitude of the task which Bolivar accomplished, the. extraordinary obstacles opposed to him, the never discouraged, never receding energy with which at all times, vanquished or conqueror, he held aloft his torch, his high-minded perseverance, such as it was necessary for him to have who would happily redeem a continent bowed down for more than three centuries in bitter slavery.

To have broken the foreign chains which bound us, raise us to free and independent democratic existence, to have enrolled us among the nations of the earth, and opened to us the roads of progress; this is what we owe to Bolivar, this is what makes us so grateful to his [Page 447] memory. Well have you said, that memory will live immortal in the heart of every Venezuelan, his worthiest, most precious, and most durable monument.

Permit me to call to memory that it was in the land of Washington where first appeared the dawn of liberty; that thence it irradiated towards the east and the south, since when its glories bathe, while magnifying them, the regions of the Old and New Worlds.

The government of the United States of Venezuela will know how highly to esteem, and will ever be incapable of forgetting, the very expressive manner in which the countries you represent have joined you in paying a tribute of respect to the gigantic leader of South American independence.

No. 3.


Let us make mention of a happy circumstance. The speech which, in the name of the diplomatic body, congratulated the chief of the executive administration, and in his person the republic and America, was that of the minister of the United States of the north, who naturally gave to the discourse all the character of a lively expansion of enthusiasm for the memory or the great South American.

It should be known that the diplomacy of the United States is characterized in all and everything by an especial manner, beginning with the dress of their servants, when they choose to make a contrast, with their black coats and round hats, and ending with the manly frankness proper to those who speak in the name of the freest and greatest people on earth.

Thus the discourse of Mr. Wilson was not a discourse of a European or South American diplomat, (we are in all things copyists of Europe,) but a noble and warm exposition of those historical appreciations which the figure of Bolivar presents to all the monarchies and empires represented in ceremony of congratulation, as the classical representative of popular right, and of triumphant heroism in service of that right. It was, then, natural that those who assisted at this ceremony, although out of all rule and custom, should crown with applause the American words of the son of the land of Washington.