Mr. Worthington to Mr. Seward.

No. 4.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt, on the 3d of this month, of dispatch No. 2, dated August 19th, 1868, inclosing copy of dispatch No. 233, dated August 17th, 1868, addressed to James Watson Webb, esquire, United States minister to Rio de Janeiro. It is a source of congratulation that this question has reached a solution by the passage of the Wasp, as ordered by the government, and her return to this place on the 20th of September, with Charles A. Washburn, United, States minister to Paraguay, and his family, on board. Mr. Washburn having informed me that he had transmitted elaborate dispatches by this steamer, I am relieved of the duty or necessity of writings much about the condition of affairs in Paraguay, or the movements of the allied armies. It is well to observe, however, that no important progress is being made, the situation being the same as mentioned in my dispatch No. 2. Yesterday, Mr. Sarmiento was duly and formally inaugurated President, and Dr. Alfonsa Alsina vice-president of the Argentine Republic. The ceremonies were impressive and orderly, nothing of an insubordinate or revolutionary tendency developing itself. The inaugural address of the President was well received, particularly those parts in “italics” in the copy I inclose with this dispatch. The diplomatic corps was fully represented, and after the ceremonies were over we called on the new President in a body and offered our congratulations. The cabinet or ministry is composed of able and, said to be, just men, and is as follows: Minister of the interior, Señor Delamacio Velez Sarsfield; minister of foreign affairs, Señor Mariano Varela; minister of agriculture and public instruction, Señor Sicholay Avellanda; minister of finance, Señor Benjamino Gorostiago; minister of war, Sehor D. Martin Gainza, all of whom share largely the feelings of the President toward our government and people.

A magnificent demonstration was spontaneously accorded ex-President General Mitre, by the citizens of this city, on the occasion of the retirement from his high position; and it is at least suggestive of some improvement, that after the expiration of his constitutional term of office he handed over to his successor the government intact, the treasury comparatively full, and, though engaged in a war, the people enjoying a prosperity they never before realized; and to whatever position General Mitre may be called, I feel confident our government will always find in him a reliable friend. The question of the seat of the national government is again exciting much interest. Before the last session of the national congress adjourned they located it at Rosario, but it did not [Page 255] receive the sanction of President Mitre. In my judgment there is no reasonable probability there will be any change for some years to come.

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I have the honor to be your obedient servant,


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

Address of the President.

Senators, Deputies, and Fellow-citizens: After the solemn oath which I have just taken, it is needless for me again to promise that I will fulfill the laws and the constitution, by worthily exercising the authority conferred on me by my fellow-citizens. This is my duty, my fixed resolve, my highest aspiration. If rectitude of intention and a wish to do good are claims upon the aid of Divine Providence, I dare to hope that the blessings of Heaven will at last visit this part of the earth, so long abandoned to the errors and misfortunes that retard the progress of nations and their governments.

The attention of the country is at present naturally fixed, after so long and bloody a war, on the exorbitant sacrifices imposed on each and all of us for the common safety. I therefore hasten to assure you that the guiding spirit of my administration, and especially in the election of public employés, will be to insure, by every means, economy and integrity in the disposal of the national moneys. I shall also try to maintain our rising credit, the source of all wealth, by religiously fulfilling our obligations, and thus strengthening the confidence that the nation is acquiring both at home and abroad.

The constitution makes the President sole head of the administration, and I can therefore solemnly engage, since it depends on my own acts, that the administrative morality will be complete during my term of office.

I must also speak of the war wherein we are engaged, and the alliance in connection with the same. Nations have duties to perform in respect for their past history and their future prospects. A war abandoned in disgust of weariness, in 1827, did not give the much-desired peace for six months; and after breaking the links of union, there ensued a terrible tyranny and series of wars, that have not yet ended with the fall of Humaitá. The present war seems drawing to a close, but we must not be too sanguine, for all judgment is at fault when events depend on the caprice and unbridled passions of a semi-barbarous tyrant. We must never for a moment lose confidence, but strenuously prosecute the war till obtaining security for the future.

To offer peace to an enemy that does not sue for it after so many disasters, would be to change our position from conqueror to conquered. Such errors are always dearly expiated.

I trust that under my government the Argentine Republic will show itself worthy of its glorious antecedents, and maintain its high position among the nations of the world. I think that the alliance with Brazil and Uruguay nowise compromises the principles of our government, and I consider it not only lawful and necessary but highly honorable. This alliance will be maintained and faithfully observed while the security and honor of the republic so require.

The social and political bonds that hold a nation together should never be closer than when its honor and safety are threatened from abroad; and you know well how far the republic has been from offering such an example of duty, patriotism, and good sense, on the part of its sons.

Whilst some were filled with love of country, participating in its glory or disgrace, its greatness or humiliation, and rushed forward to the frontier for its defense, there were others who availed themselves of the occasion to take to the highways or join the Indians, thus increasing the confusion of the time and calling off the national forces, which should have been entirely occupied in the noble and heroic enterprise of saving the honor of our flag.

I am still ignorant of the names of the leaders who appeared in this obscure epoch, since they had attained no notoriety either in the social or the political sphere; I am not, however, ignorant of the duties of every government; and foremost is that of giving security to life and property, keeping the high-roads clear, and encouraging commerce and industry.

The constitution, in all free countries, admits not of discussion by force of arms. To take up arms against the Republic, no matter what the pretext, is an act of treason, and our constitution, after the model of the United States, provides the government with efficacious means to prevent such a calamity as that the people should curse the day on which their constitution was framed.

Meantime, I think I may promise you that the tranquility which has been disturbed in some places will speedily be re-established, and that the ill-advised persons who [Page 256] took up arms will quietly lay them aside, confiding in the national justice for a remedy for their complaints whenever such shall appear well-founded.

The evils that afflict the Argentine Republic are not of to-day’s growth, neither are they peculiar to our country. The spectacle of provinces convulsed by insurrection has been a constant repetition for the last fifty years, with the same characteristics and features, and differing only in names and pretexts. These social phenomena are, moreover, reproduced throughout the rest of Spanish America, with only slight variations incidental to climate and other circumstances. Few states have become organized after sixty years of strife and contention, or can quietly set themselves down to work with security for the future.

Thus the evil is deeper than seems at first sight, and we see chronic causes producing everywhere the same results. To study the fatal causes of such prolonged inquietude would be the noblest task of our thinking men, and to cure them in their origin should be the great aim of our law-makers in Congress and the special study of government.

The insurrectionary movements that call in question every moment the solidity of our self-chosen institutions and impede our progress have their focus in the barbarism of the country districts and the ignorance and destitution of the poorer classes. The defense of the frontier presents the same features. All the efforts of successive governments, after half a century, have failed to protect the settlers from the Indians; and more than once we have seen the savage tribes invade our tribes as auxiliaries of this or that faction.

Public patience can no longer tolerate such evils, and the time has now arrived to see if our government is really what it ought to be under our republican institutions, namely, the means of distributing the greatest possible amount of felicity to the greatest possible number of individuals. A nation loves not its institutions unless when these conditions are fulfilled.

The work before us is even of a more pressing nature. We have inherited ignorant and destitute popular masses, and the uniformity and cohesion which are the essential conditions of all societies have been violated. The public powers are, nevertheless, called upon to foster liberal institutions on a soil thus badly prepared, and to combat the difficulties that obstruct the way.

Our situation is, however, neither desperate nor irremediable. If population is wanting to fill our extensive territory, other nations only ask from us security and protective laws, and will give us millions of men who constitute their superabundant population. If distances are enormous, steam shortens them. But, all these resources must be distributed and utilized by wise and even-handed laws, avoiding that, whilst the elements of civilization accumulate on the coast, the remainder of the country shall not be abandoned to barbarism, and that an apparent benefit shall not give rise to further calamities and disorders.

The public lands, under an equitable system of distribution, will fix the population that is to-day houseless, give a home to the thousands of emigrants that come in search of it, and put a stop to the depredations of the hordes of the desert, by effacing that very desert which is their theater and their element. Some organic laws on education will suffice to render the prosperity which we are bound to secure for future generations a reality. Nations, like individuals, have almost always to blame the recklessness of their fathers for the evils that afflict them.

To spread civilization over that part of the republic that is as yet deprived of its benefits, to provide efficiently for the defense of the frontier, to give security to property and life, are conditions as essential as the very compliance with constitutional precepts, because they all tend to the same end. A majority enjoying the liberty of being ignorant and poor does not constitute an enviable privilege for the educated minority of a nation which is proud of calling itself republican and democratic.

I repeat it again: the time has come to ponder seriously upon these grave social questions, since, fortunately, political ones are in a great measure settled.

The national sentiment that leads us, without any local preference, to interest ourselves in all that affects our common mother country, has assumed in these later years a deeper intensity. The nation acquires every day more consistence; and, thanks to the progressive development of that noble feeling that makes of an assemblage of individuals a social being animated by the generous passions of heroism and justice, we may soon hope that the name of Argentine will be associated in men’s minds with those moral, intellectual, and progressive qualities that characterize a free and enlightened people.

The general progress of mankind comes also to our help. Men’s blood is not spilt in vain for the supremacy of a principle; and its triumph, once obtained, does not become the exclusive patrimony of the nation that has been its redeemer. The abolition of torture, the disappearance of slavery, the liberty of conscience, the declaration of rights which we have inscribed in our constitution, are no conquest of ours, but a legacy which, we are bound to preserve intact. In this category we can add to-day “The indissolubility of federal nations.” A million of men, whose corpses have strewn the battle-fields, have put the seal for us and for all federal republics [Page 257] on this mighty principle. Henceforward there can be neither nullifiers nor separatists, but only traitors and criminals.

Thus far we may at any rate rest tranquil. Our political agitations will ever he preserved within the limits of the nationality which has cost our forefathers so much blood, and of the constitution which we ourselves have cemented by so many sacrifices.

I have thus sketched the policy of my government. I am not cowed by the difficulty of the undertaking, although I am not ignorant how much those who are called upon to assume the arduous task of governing are destined to suffer for their reputation and repose. I am bound to submit to this doom, since our mother country is not yet sufficiently well organized to afford enjoyment to those who are fortune’s favorites. But I am overwhelmed by the confidence and the hopes reposed in me. Our history reveals to us that we possess the conscience of good much more than the patience and capacity to attain it. Many of those who tried it died in the attempt or in exile. It is only future generations that can revindicate the memory of those faithful servants who failed to be popular because they preferred being deemed worthy of esteem.

A majority has raised me to power without my having sought it; and I have, therefore, the right, on taking possession of the hard seat to which I am called, to ask that that majority may continue united, and not throw upon me alone the responsibility of its own government. I am bound, likewise, to ask that it may attract to its ranks all those who deserve to figure therein for their patriotic aims and their liberal ideas.

With regard to those who have opposed my election, I can only say to them, in the words that Jefferson addressed to his opponents, “That they have their own rights and position as citizens of this country, and that I have not received from the constitution any power to change them;” and will conclude by reminding them, with Lincoln, “That the electoral urn is the legitimate successor of bullets, and when the suffrage has declared itself, freely and constitutionally, the only appeal from its verdict is by consulting again the polling-booths of a subsequent election.”

Protected by Providence, in whose help I confide, aided by the active co-operation of my fellow-citizens, guided by your prudent laws, honorable senators and deputies, enlightened by the wisdom of my councillors, looking to the constitution as a guide and to the force it places in my hands as an auxiliary, I shall attain the realization of some of the hopes that I have sketched, and shall deliver up to my successor the republic undivided, the revenue prosperous, a greater number of happy and educated men, the laws respected, and, perchance, although I scarcely hope it, the government the object of everybody’s blessing.