Mr. Hale to Mr. Seward.
Sir: On the 30th ultimo I had the honor to inform you by telegraph of two very important events in the progress of the revolution in this country, which formed the subject of my dispatch No. 147, from San Sebastian. That dispatch bore date of the 27th September, and on that day, though important positions were in the hands of the insurgents, and the greater part of the naval force in the Spanish forts had joined them, still the important naval station of Carthagena had refused to join them, and a royalist army, supposed to be equal if not superior in force to the insurgent army, confronted the latter on the confines of Andalusia and barred its passage towards the capital.
The Queen’s government was sustained apparently by a force of about 80,000 armed men, well appointed and obedient to their government, and distributed over by far the greater portion of the Spanish territory. The people, notwithstanding their knowledge of the serious insurrection among the troops and in the navy, did not appear to have taken any part in the matter. On the 28th of September, however, the army, under Marshal Novalichez, advanced apparently with the intention of dislodging the insurgents from the positions their vanguard had taken at the bridge of Alcolen, over the Guadalquiver, at about seven miles [Page 20]from Cordova, where Marshal Serrano, commanding the insurgent army, had established his headquarters. The accounts of this action are still too confused to form any correct narrative of the details of the engagement. The attack seems to have been vigorous, and to have been firmly and successfully resisted. Undoubtedly the advantage of position was with the insurgents. The battalions under fire seem to have been heavily reinforced from both sides, but the defense was constantly made good till, at about nightfall, in an assault upon the bridge itself, which I have heard qualified as foolhardy, Marshal Novalichez himself received a very dangerous wound from a shell and was borne from the field, his troops withdrawing from the attack, and those of Marshal Serrano forbearing pursuit. But this action, in its political effects, was decisive.
On the 29th instant the population of Madrid pronounced enthusiastically for the insurgents, and the troops of the garrison fraternized with the people without a struggle. The details of this event will have reached you by telegraph and newspaper. The news swept over Spain like wildfire; and at every point the knowledge of those two events, the defeat of Novalichez and the popular rising of Madrid, seems to have been followed immediately by the rising or adherence of the whole country, marked in every instance and in all places with the same general characteristics of popular enthusiasm, peaceful execution, and thorough completeness.
I am informed that during the night of the 29th, in the palace at San Sebastian, the question of further resistance was debated till 4 o’clock in the morning. It was the wish of a few who immediately surrounded the Queen, that the Basque provinces should arm in her defense. But the representatives of that people, whilst they respectfully assured the Queen that she was personally safe under the protection of their hospitality, firmly resisted her solicitations to levy war in defense of, her legal rights. Then preparations for departure were hastily made. The royal train was prepared, and at 10 o’clock on the morning of the 30th the royal carriages, moved towards the station bearing the whole royal family. The bearing of the people was remarkably dignified; not a shout, not an insult, no crowding nor rushing after the carriages, which moved slowly. The guards were turned out, the Bourbon march was played, and royal honors shown, to the party as usual; the authorities of the province accompanying the royal train till the French frontier was passed at Hendaye. There they respectfully took leave of the Queen and her family. Her royal guard of halberdiers took leave and turned back to Spain. The Queen and her family entered for the first time, in France, a public railway car, and the dynasty of the Bourbons had fallen.
Events have since happened so rapidly as to almost preclude a detailed reference.
On the 3d instant I sent you a second telegram informing you of the entrance of Marshal Serrano into Madrid, where he was immediately invested with the authority of general-in-chief of the army and of the navy and president of the provisional government of Spain.
On the 1st instant the people of Madrid made their first essay in the exercise of sovereignty, electing, by universal suffrage, a superior revolutionary board or junta of 30 members, which on the 5th instant organized by the election of its officers and replaced the provisional junta, which had been hastily and spontaneously assembled on the 20th ultimo.
Marshal Serrano, Duke of La Torre, had been charged by the first junta to form a cabinet of ministers.
On the night of the 8th instant this was done, and the decree appointing them, signed by the duke as president of the provisional government of Spain, appeared in the Gazette on the morning of the 9th, yesterday.[Page 21]
This government having been thus peacefully constituted, and there being no other contending government within the limits of this kingdom, I considered that the case foreseen by your telegraphic instruction of the 6th instant had arrived, and immediately addressed to the duke an official request for an interview.
This was set for 4 o’clock in the afternoon of yesterday, at which hour I went to the official residence of the duke, accompanied by the secretary of this legation, and was immediately received by the duke, accompanied by the newly appointed minister of state, Señor D. Juan de Lorenzana.
I then addressed the president of the provisional government in English, as appears in the inclosed copy, marked A. The president replied in Spanish, speaking without notes, and his remarks, written immediately after in Spanish, by Mr. Perry, and translated into English, were substantially as appears in the inclosed paper, marked B.
You will also find inclosed the official Gazette of this morning containing a Spanish translation of my speech, and what purports to have been the duke’s reply. The latter, however, was prepared afterwards, as I understand, by a gentleman not present at the interview.
Both the president and the minister of state were evidently much pleased with this prompt recognition on the part of the American government. After some informal conversation, in which these sentiments were freely exchanged, I took my leave.
In the same Gazette of to-day, which contains these speeches, you will find on the first page a declaration of rights by the superior revolutionary junta of Madrid, with the names of its members at the foot. On the fourth page is an important circular letter addressed to the governors and local juntas of the provinces, by the new minister of interior government; a document from the Madrid junta, accepting the ministers appointed by the president, Duke of La Torre; and an address by the junta of Madrid to the local juntas of the capital towns and principal cities of the provinces, in which the central junta, on motion of Señor Rivero, leader of the democratic party, resolves to support and maintain the government just constituted, notwithstanding the absence of the democratic element in the new cabinet. This last document is important. Sent by telegram to the provinces, you will notice that it has been immediately responded to; and on the fifth and sixth pages of this Gazette you will find already the telegraphic response of the juntas of the provinces accepting and maintaining the new cabinet and adhering to the declaration of rights published by the Madrid junta.
This is, therefore, a government accepted by the whole nation, and in the peaceful and undisputed exercise of its functions.
Madrid remains constantly tranquil, though about 60,000 stand of arms were indiscriminately distributed to the people on the 30th instant, and the bands of the armed people are seen constantly in the streets since that date.
They are rapidly organizing in battalions, according to their wards, and elect their own officers. They stand guard over the royal palace; over the Bank of Spain; over the ministerial departments, archives and public edifices, performing this voluntary service with rare constancy and perfect courtesy.
In short, sir, the deportment of this people, so long the victim of a corrupt oppression, in the first moments of liberty, with arms in their hands, and in the enthusiasm of victory, has astonished me and will challenge the admiration of the world.[Page 22]
I inclose translations of the declaration of rights before alluded to, and the decree published in the Gazette of yesterday, by which the new cabinet has been constituted.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.