Mr. Romero to Mr. Seward

Mr. Secretary: I have the honor to transmit to you, for the information of the government of the United States, a copy of a letter which Señor Lerdo de Tejada, the minister for foreign affairs of the government of Mexico, addressed to me under date of January 4th last past, (No. 1,) transmitting to me a copy of the second number of the official organ of the Mexican government published on the same day at Paso del Norte, containing several official documents relative to the desertion of General Don Manuel Ruiz, who protested, on the 30th of November last, against the decree of the Mexican government of the 8th of November, which declared the term of the constitutional President of Mexico to be extended until a new election can be held in that republic. I enclose you a copy of that paper.

I take the liberty of calling your attention to the communication which Señor Lerdo de Tejada, the minister for foreign affairs and government of the Mexican republic, addressed to the minister of justice on the 7th of December following, in relation to the protest referred to.

I avail myself of this opportunity to renew to you, Mr. Secretary, the assurance of my most distinguished consideration.


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

No. 1.



Paso del Norte, January 4, 1866.

I transmit to you a copy of the second number of the “official organ of the government,” dated this day, in which has been copied the protest of Don Manuel Ruiz, written at Hidalgo del Parral on the 30th November last, (which protest is found in a newspaper taken from the enemy,) in relation to the prolongation of the functions of the President of the republic.

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You will also find in the official paper the communication which this department addressed to that of justice respecting the subject.

I communicate this to you that you may be informed of the groundless protest of Don Manuel Ruiz and of his personal conduct.

I renew to you my very distinguished consideration.


Citizen Matias Romero, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of the Mexican Republic, Washington, D. C.

No. 2.



We extract what follows from No. 1 of the Nueva Era, 23d December last, an official paper published by the enemy in the city of Chihuahua:

News from Rio Florido.Protest of Manuel Ruiz.

Expeditionary corps of Mexico; 2d division of infantry; chief of staff. Chief of the State squadron, Major Billot, in command of the French forces at Rio Florido.

Rio Florido, December 1, 1865.

Dear Sir: Senor Don Benito Juarez having prorogued the constitutional term of office, and I no longer recognizing his character as President of the republic, which position he formally held by law, have resolved to take no longer any active part in public affairs, and to return to private life, there to resume my profession as a lawyer, and earn my daily bread.

Having that object in view, I wrote to Parral yesterday the letter I now enclose for your perusal, and immediately, approached your lines to appear before you, for the purpose of making known my resolution. I believe myself justly included among those who are benefited by the decree of amnesty of the 3d ultimo, on account of my resignation from office and my voluntary surrender to you. The text of this decree having been communicated to me yesterday privately, by a friend, with entire confidence, I now appear before you, as the representative of power nearest at hand, and trust that I am deserving of all respect and justice.

I am, sir, your very obedient servant,


P. S.—As it is impossible to print the enclosed communication in this locality, I would be much indebted to you if you would forward it to any part of the country where publicity may be given to my letter, its publication being in accordance with my earnest wish.

Your obedient servant,


A true copy:

By the Lieutenant Colonel and Chief of Staff,

No. 3.

Protest of Don Manuel Ruiz.


Sixth Constitutional Ministry of the Supreme Court of National Justice.

This day brings to a close the usual constitutional term of office of the acting President of the republic, as set forth by article 80 of the federal constitution.

From to-morrow the supreme executive power of the nation can only be legally exercised by the acting president of the supreme court of justice, or by the constitutional minister who, as acting President, legally assumes his duties, and for cause. By this statement it will be seen that the prorogation of the constitutional term of office which the acting President has taken upon himself to accord by his decree of the 8th instant does not bestow upon him the right of continuing in the exercise of the supreme national power, inasmuch as such proceeding is in direct violation of the sense of the constitution, as well as prejudicial to the honorable discharge of the functions invested in him by the decree of October 27, 1862.

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The general constitution, by article 82, decrees in the most explicit manner that at the clos of the ordinary term of office of the President of the republic, whatever obstacle may arise preventing the election of a successor, or the instalment of the President elect, the supreme power shall invariably be intrusted to the hands of the president of the supreme court. The law of October 27, cited above, does not in any emergency authorize the executive to prorogue the national term of office, nor deprive the rightful depositary of the supreme power of his privileges, nor appoint a successor to whom can be passed the rights and liberties of the nation. On the contrary, by that decree he is commanded to preserve inviolate the form of government laid down by the constitution, and forbidden to take such measures as would, lead to the violation of chapter four of the constitution relative to the rights and duties of public officials. It being evident that the orders contained within the several decrees of the 8th instant violate the general constitution and secondary laws, men of honor and conscientious citizens, those who would deserve from the nation a vote of high confidence, those who have placed faith in the principles that have been so dearly bought, those who trust in the salvation of the country by a strict enforcement of the laws, and who would not behold their dearest hopes shattered by one blow, must see that it is their imperative duty not only to protest against the usurpation of the national power, whatever may be the emergency referred to as a pretext for such illegal action, but must abstain from taking any part in public affairs until the supremacy of the law be asserted and order re-established.

For these reasons, from this ministry, I, acting as constitutional minister of the supreme court of justice, and protesting by a solemn protest against the flagrant violation of the fundamental and secondary laws of the divers decrees of the 8th instant, do hereby announce my retirement to private life, and my intention to support my family by my personal exertions, taking to my home a tranquil conscience that tells me that I have acted justly and done my whole duty.

I trust, sir, that you will present this epistle to the acting President of the republic, informing him that my determination does not in the least affect the sentiments of peculiar esteem that I have ever professed to entertain for him.

MANUEL RUIZ, Acting Minister of Justice of the Constitutional Government of the Republic.

No. 4.


The preceding protest of Mr. Ruiz was received at the department of justice, and sent to the government, as the following communications will show:


For subsequent action, I have the honor to send you the original of the note of General Manuel Ruiz, of the 30th November last, to this department, in which he protests, as minister of the supreme court of justice, against the decrees of the 8th of November last.


The Minister of Foreign Relations and Government.

No. 5.



With yours of yesterday I received the protest of Manuel Ruiz, sent to you from Hidalgo del Parral the 30th of November last, relating to the decrees of the 8th of November, issued by this department, prolonging the term of the President of the republic, according to the constitution, so long as the war prevents a new constitutional election, and to the responsibility of General Jesus G. Ortega, who was president of the supreme court of justice.

As Mr. Ruiz announced, in his protest, his submission to the invader, it was impossible to send him a reply. And a reply to him was unnecessary, as his protest contains no argument against the circular and the published decrees, but only consists of general terms, without the least reason. It is evident from his protest that he did not even consult the text of the law of October 27, 1862, which he pretends to quote, for it was in the law of 11th of December, [Page 66] 1861, that were to be found the terms to which he referred, in which the national Congress grants extraordinary powers to the President.

Mr. Ruiz was certainly selfish, and wanted to assume the powers of constitutional magistrate himself; but without the least reason.

Articles 79 and 82 of the constitution, the only ones relating to the supplying the President’s place, indicate the president of the court of justice, and no other magistrate, as capable of filling the place accidentally. The constituent congress at the same time formed the constitution and the organic law of elections, the 3d of February, 1857, where, in articles 43, 45, 48, and 52, it is decreed that at the general elections deputies to the national congress shall be elected on the first day, a President of the republic and president of the supreme court of justice the second day, and magistrates to the number of ten, with four supernumeraries for the same court, on the third day. In this manner the organic electoral law, according to the constitution, united the election of president of the republic and president of the court, so the people could choose at the same time two officers, one of which was to supply the place of the other in case of accident; and putting off the election of magistrates, who were only to occupy positions as judges, till the next day.

So, then, the constitution established by this electoral law that there should only be one vice-president of the republic, and not fifteen aspirants to that place, It is well known that when a motion was made in congress to allow magistrates to supply the place of President of the republic, in case of the default of the president of the supreme court of justice, the proposition was unanimously rejected. Thus the matter was settled, beyond a doubt; and for that reason the government, in the decrees of the 8th of November, did not think it worthy of mention.

Besides the want of foundation of the protest, we must consider the conduct of him who made it. If Mr. Ruiz had really believed it wrong to prolong the duties of President, he could have protested against it, and not considered it his duty to go and submit voluntarily to the enemy for that reason. He could not allege fear of persecution as long as he remained in places subject to the government of the republic, for his high offices as magistrate and general protected him; and he well knew that the government always permitted the most liberal opinions, provided they were not inimical to the country. As an instance of this, the government permitted Mr. Ruiz to declaim against the decrees long after they were promulgated, and wherever he went.

When the seat of government was moved in August last from this city to Paso del Norte, Mr. Ruiz said, at the beginning of September, that he was determined to return to this city, and thence to the city of Mexico to join his family. This was well known, for he did not hesitate to tell it to everybody attached to the government. He even fixed the day of his departure, and continued to put it off, sometimes on account of the solitary roads, till he heard that this city was to be evacuated. He then pretended to delay his departure on account of health and for want of means, as the circumstances of the government at El Paso did not permit it to pay its officers their usual salary.

All who accompanied the government well know that Mr. Ruiz intended to join the enemy as early as the first of September, two months before the issue of the decrees mentioned, and no one doubts but that he used the protest as an excuse for his desertion of the national cause. It was also well known in San Luis, Saltillo, and Monterey that he was hunting excuses to oppose the government, encouraged those who did censure it, and was ready to accept any pretext for his conduct, and go over to the enemy.

The government made no attempt to prevent him, because it never washed to force any one to adhere to it, but left it to the free-will of those who would stand by it voluntarily in times of trouble.


The Citizen Minister of Justice, Fomento, and Public Instruction.