Mr. Romero to Mr. Seward

My Dear Sir: I have the honor of transmitting to you an extract from the Messager Franco-American, of the 4th instant, a French paper published in New York, which contains a letter from its correspondent in the city of Mexico, dated 17th November last, giving a summary of the situation. The circumstance that this correspondent views the occurrences in my country from a French point of view, and that even thus it appears that the situation is untenable, induces me to send you the letter and call your especial attention to it. I will send an English translation of it in a few days for the use of your department.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your very obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, &c., &c., &c.


(Special correspondence of the Messager.)

If we may rely on a letter addressed by the emperor Maximilian to his minister of state— of which I transmit to you a copy—we may consider the administrative, judicial, and financial organization of the empire as now perfected. Nothing more remains but to carry into effect the measures elaborated for the purpose by the government, and to await their results, which “cannot but be excellent,” according to the imperialist journals. We are informed, for instance, that the question of the civil list is settled; that the administration of justice is entirely remodelled; that the financial system is definitely established. Nevertheless, the laws relative to these important questions are yet unpublished. This official journal daily publishes decrees relative to the etiquette of the court, to the rank of the various functionaries, to the duties of the ministers towards the sovereign, but hitherto we know nothing whatever of subjects of general interest. Let us hope that the work of perfection will be soon completed, for people are waiting with some impatience for the publication of the new decrees. They are eager to learn in what way Maximilian has cut the thousand Gordian knots that thus far have never ceased to fetter the progress of his administration..

If the work of the civil organization of the empire is complete in the eyes of Maximilian, I doubt whether that of the pacification is equally so. In fact, so far as military affairs are concerned, the situation is the same that it has been for the last six months, On every side the Juarists show themselves with their usual boldness. It is in vain that the imperialist soldiers multiply themselves by their prodigies of activity; they cannot at once occupy all parts of a territory so vast as that of Mexico. Their duty is limited by necessity to bear the flag of the empire into each district in succession. After they have planted it there, they can do no more than leave it there, under the guard of the inhabitants themselves; and I need not tell you whether they guard it well or ill. Generally the few individuals of the clerical and reactionary party, who have received with acclamation the imperalists on their arrival, are compelled to quit the country, after the departure of the troops, in order to escape from popular vengeance. Thence ensue deceptions and sufferings innumerable. Thus, I learn in a letter from Mazatlan, (Sinaloo,) under date of the 31st October:

“General Aymard has started for Durango, with 2,200 men and 1,200 baggage mules. This departure has caused a real consternation here among the imperialists. As a first consequence, La Noria, that interesting town, whose influential inhabitants and clergy have given so many proofs of devotedness to the new order of things, has been abandoned, as well by the battalion of chasseurs à pied who composed its garrison, as by all such persons as compromised themselves by favoring the empire. The chief men of property, rather than remain exposed to uncertainty, have followed the camp of General Aymard in the capacity of muleteers.”

Letters from Monterey, under date of October 20, contain the same language. This city was evacuated by General Jeanningros, who took up his route of march towards Saltillo. A Mexican garrison, under the command of Colonel Tinajero, replaced the French garrison. The partisans of the empire showed themselves very much disturbed and almost desperate [Page 16] at this change, of the consequences of which they appeared to have a most lively apprehension. Many among them have converted all their possessions into money at any price, not wishing to remain in a city which “the red pantaloons have ceased to protect.” I understand this sentiment, which is a remarkable testimony of the confidence inspired by the French bayonets. But should we not ask how it is that, after seventeen months’ existence which the actual order of things now counts, the adhesion of such or such a region of the empire is considered by the imperialists as inseparable from the presence of French uniforms?

The military authorities have had recourse, as I lately wrote to you, to the disarming en masse of certain districts, in order to compel their submission. But to give you an idea of the fears inspired by the hostile dispositions of the people in general, permit me to cite to you some articles of an order of Marshal Bazaine, dated October 24:

“Article 1. In all districts subject to the empire there will be a certain number of licensed armorers, or, in default of them, of merchants designated by the military authorities of the post, to whom shall be granted the right of keeping guns, caps, and powder.

Art. 2. These merchants shall keep a register, in which shall be inscribed all receipts of arms and disbursements of the same from the store, in order to facilitate the surveillance which should be kept over sales.

“Art. 3. They must not sell any arms, unless the purchaser is provided with a permit to that effect. In this case, they will insert in their register the name, the profession, and the residence of the purchaser, as also the date of sale. Permits will be given from the office of the sub-prefect, and will be available only after being countersigned by the commander of the post.

“Art. 6. The pan-covers must always be separated from the arms, as also the barrels, and deposited in a place known only to the armorer and the commandant of the post.

“Art. 7. Neither arms nor caps are to be sold as articles of trade. Guns, muskets, and percussion carbines, or such to which bayonets can be attached, are not to be permitted to leave the armorer’s house without special authorization.

“Art. 12. The country not being yet completely pacified, permits to carry arms given by the civil prefects and municipal magistrates will not be valid unless countersigned by the military authorities, who will take note of them”

Summary executions of Juarists, captured in arms, continue on every side. I spare you the details of them. It is evident, however, that the hour of retaliation is nigh, and that the republican authorities will shoot and hang in their turn. We pity the unfortunate soldiers, who cannot help it, and who will be the first victims of the imperial proclamation.

The announcement of another victory, gained by General Mendez over the forces of Ronda, in Michoacan, does not seem to be confirmed. According to all appearances, they have given to a partial engagement the proportions of a general battle. All the circumstances induce us to believe, however, that Ronda and Riva Palacios have succeeded in reaching Zitacuaro, in spite of the pursuit of which they were the object. If such be the case, military operations in Michoacan must come to a pause; for Mendez, with his soldiers, exhausted by twenty days of forced marching, cannot be in a condition to follow the liberals and attack them in their mountains.

This is nearly all that I will say to you in reference to military affairs; for I would tire your readers by detailing to them the account of the battles that are fought almost every day in different parts of the country. Moreover, I have some facts of great importance wherewith to entertain you. And, in the first place, have they mentioned in the New York papers the resignation in a body of the officers of the Belgian legion? No sheet in Mexico has breathed a word of it, although the fact is authentic. I have learned it by a letter from Morelia, which gives me the following details:

“You know that, after the departure of Colonel De Portier, Lieutenant Colonel Van der Smissen was invested with the military government of the province of Morelia. The brilliant victory of the Loma, on the 16th of July, it would seem, should have confirmed M. Van der Smissen in this command. It was the very contrary that took place. M. Van der Smissen has been superseded by the Mexican Colonel Mendez, who up to that time had served under the orders of the commander of the Belgian corps, especially in the affair of the 16th of July.

“This measure, it may easily be conceived, occasioned the most serious discontent in the Belgian corps, and its immediate result was the resignation of Lieutenant Colonel Van der Smissen, followed by that of all the officers of the Belgian corps.”

The resolution of the Belgian officers seems to have occasioned great embarrassment to the imperial government. This latter hesitated and deliberated long enough, and finally refused to accept the tendered resignations. It is believed that it is the intention to send the Belgian corps as far away from the capital as possible, under pretext of pacifying one or other of the departments of the north.

There is another serious fact, the narrative of which I borrowed from the Ferro-Carril of Orizaba, and which requires no comment. It is this:

“The rumor has been current for some days past that the individual named G. Finck, resident for about thirty years at Potrero, where he possesses a beautiful coffee plantation, has been shot at Paso del Macho, having been convicted of complicity with the bands of robbers who infest the roads below Orizaba. This man Finck exercised at Potrero the functions of Prussian consular agent.

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“Further inquiries, made in the best informed quarters, inform us that the accused is confined in the fortress of San Juan de Ulloa, where his trial is to take place before the court-martial sitting at Vera Cruz, conformably to a decree of the 3d October just passed. Grave charges are brought against him—at least if we may judge from the current rumors.”

The fear of a complication with Prussia, I must acknowledge, causes very little thought outside of official circles; but less indifference is manifested in regard to a new affront offered by the imperialist authorities to the press. The Exhalacion of Guadalajara has been the object of a summary and unusual measure. Without the reception of any preliminary warning whatever, it was peremptorily enjoined to cease its publication by an order from the office of the prefect. The occasion for this act of rigor, entirely beyond the limits of legal authority, was an article published by that journal in its issue of the 25th of October, and containing political reflections on the course of the imperial policy. I have read this article, and while remarking in it some passages calculated to draw the attention of the authorities, I must confess that I cannot understand the reason of the exceptional severity which it has provoked. Even admitting it overleaped the limits which the government has thought proper to appoint for discussion, the law of the 10th of April has provided for the case, and appointed regular penalties, to which the authorities might have restricted themselves without inconvenience. The condition in which the press is placed is already hard enough, not to aggravate it any further. Are they right, then, who affirm that the empire is nothing but the triumph of arbitrary power?

What shall I tell you of interest in the way of court news? The whole may be briefly summed up thus: The empress departed on the 6th for Yucatan, and her absence has left a great void at the palace of Chapultepec. She was to reach Vera Cruz on the 13th or 14th.



My Dear Minister of State: After assiduous labor and a mature examination of long days’ duration we have at last ended, and I send you with this letter all the decrees, laws, and by-laws concerning the provisory organic statute promulgated by us the first day of the first anniversary of our reign. The political, judiciary, and administrative organization of our country is thus almost completed.

In the administration of justice, the particular object of our solicitude, some important work will be found wanting. The difficulties attending upon such a subject, and the lamentable state in which we have found this branch of our institutions, are the cause of this deficiency. The administration of finances is also to be completed. Finally, the regulation upon professional instruction we, however, adjourned until we select the competent men who are to participate in its application and development.

My desire was to get through the organization two months after the promulgation of the statute. This being impossible, I have postponed to a later date the glorious anniversary of our independence. But your colleagues and youself having represented to me that it was impossible to finish in so brief a time a work of such importance, I have been compelled to put it off until to-day.

Many a month has elapsed. This time will not, however, be lost if, as I hope and recommend, my cabinet executes and causes the law and regulations we issue to-day to be executed.

I acknowledge myself that numerous modifications are to be made in the way we publish to-day. Experience and study will cause us to reach possible perfection. With these views we have prescribed to all authorities to send us in the course of the year the observations suggested by practice.

You will see that the president of the council of state appoints three commissions to study carefully the rules of administrative right adopted by the most advanced nations, their financial and judiciary system, in order to adapt these rules to what has been established among us, and to calculate what innovations it is proper for us to adopt, in order to perfect the dispositions of the statute.

We have, at last, reached the end of the period of legislative elaboration in which you have been exclusively engaged as well as your colleagues. From this day will begin in its fulness the period of government based upon this organization.