Mr. Hale to Mr. Seward.

No. 148.]

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.

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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.

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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.


Speech of Mr. Hale.

Mr. President: By command of my government, recognizing the fact that the people of Spain, in the exercise of that high prerogative which rightfully pertains to every people, have fundamentally changed their system of government, in the name and on behalf of the government and people of the United States of America, I come to offer their congratulations on the quiet, efficient, and thorough manner in which this great change has been effected.

A government claiming to be founded on divine right has been overthrown, and a government founded on a right still more divine, the right of the people, has been established in its place.

As Spain was among, the first of the nations of the earth to hail the advent of the United States of America in the family of nations, so now, in grateful return, they make haste to congratulate the Spanish people on their political regeneration.

In thus establishing diplomatic relations with the government over which your excellency presides, I recall with pleasure the fact that the United States and Spain have never had any difference which diplomacy has not been able to reconcile;

I hardly need add that in the present circumstances no effort of mine will be spared for strengthening and rendering more cordial the sentiments of sincere friendship and good will now so happily subsisting between the two nations.


Marshal Serrano, Duke de la Torre, president of the provincial government, made this response to the American minister:

Mr. Minister: Nothing could be more grateful to my heart than to receive on this solemn occasion, in the name of the Spanish people, the congratulations you offer on the use they have made of the prerogative that emanates from their sovereignty.

Now that the first portion of the task is finished, and all the obstacles to the establishment of national institutions removed, the new order of things that must soon arise from what has ceased to exist, in the first exercise of that sovereignty, will also deserve in due time, I assure you, the felicitations of your government and the sympathy of the United States.

The memories which you now so pertinently recall are pleasant to my recollection, and Spain, which under present circumstances needs, and no doubt will deserve, the encouragement of all nations that love liberty and know how to preserve it, gratefully accepts the sympathy of those magnanimous nations, like the United States, that spare no sacrifice to maintain their free institutions in their perfect integrity.

The diplomatic relations continued by this act between your government and that over which I have the honor to preside will, from this day forward, be more intimate and cordial, as they ought to be between nations that have had no difficulties but what have been amicably settled, and that, in homage to the same principle of sovereignty, exercise it in the establishment of their institutions in a definite and permanent manner, each with due regard to its national peculiarity.

Declaration of rights.

The superior revolutionary junta, faithful to its high origin, makes the following declaration of rights:

Universal suffrage.

Liberty of worship.

Liberty of teaching.

Liberty of assembling and of pacific associations.

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Liberty of printing without special legislation.

Decentralization of the administration, returning to the provinces and the municipalities their autonomy.

Trial by jury in all criminal cases.

Unity of legal rights in all branches of the administration of justice.

Immobility of the judges.

Individual security, inviolability of domicile, and of private correspondence.

Abolition of the death penalty.


NICOLAS RIVERA, Vice President. (And 24 other signatures.)

Officials of the provisional government of Spain:

Decree issued from the war department:

In compliance with the duty intrusted to me by the nation, and by the power with which it has clothed me, as the president, I now form the following provisional government:

Department of War.—Lieutenant General Don Juan Prim, Marquis de los Castellejos.

Department of State.—Don Juan Alvarez de Lorenzana.

Department of Grace and Justice.—Don Antonio Romero Ortez.

Department of the Navy.—Don Juan Topete, Commander of the Fleet.

Department of Finance.—Don Lameano Figuerola.

Department of Government.—Don Praxedes Mateo Sagasta.

Department of Industry.—Don Manuel Ruiz Zorilla.

Department of the Colonies.—Don Adelardo Lopez de Ayala.

EL DUQUE DE LA TORRE, President of the Provisional Government.

Circular from the department of government to the civil governors and government councils of Spain.

The provisional government having been organized, and the first part of our glorious revolution being finished, the minister undersigned feels it his most pressing duty to address the councils and all constituted authorities in the country and explain to them the patriotic intentions of the government, and tell them what to do to preserve the glory of our revolution, to assure confidence at home and retain the sympathy, admiration, and applause so readily awarded to us by Europe and America at the dawn of our regeneration.

Our easy victory and the moderation in which we enjoy it seem singular to those who look upon us from a distance, without knowing the vices and corruption of the oppressive system under which we were living or the proverbial virtues of the Spanish character.

The glorious revolution, begun in Cadiz, has emboldened those timid souls that bowed their necks to the yoke of a corrupt government in dread of the horrors of anarchy or the fury of angry passions.

To their everlasting glory, the Spanish people have demonstrated to the world that they not only could rise up against the tyranny that oppressed and degraded them, but, after the victory, could preserve that moderation that shows an education sufficient to enter boldly into paths trodden by a free people.

Honorable in every way as this revolution has so far been—and we may be proud of it, as history records no other such—we would sin as prodigals, and fail in our patriotic duty, if we halted a moment on the way, before completing the work we so auspiciously began with so much enthusiasm.

If we would preserve the great advantages obtained in so brief a time, we should exercise unremitting vigilance, encouraged by patriotism, honor, and confidence in a free future. We must remember that the enemies of our honor and liberties have secreted themselves among the people, and have assumed the mask of patriotism to mislead them and induce them to commit outrages that would disgrace our nation and sully the purity of our revolution. If it was formerly a painful necessity to resort to arms to overthrow a government that humbled and degraded us, now that we are peaceful victors we must preserve order; and the provisional government is determined to do this in fulfillment of the great duty it owes to the country.

Fortunately we have no sanguinary deeds to lament so far; but the few that have occurred will prove a warning and may prevent the perpetration of others. If some are guilty, there are courts to try them and punish them. Mobs must not undertake to administer justice, lest innocent victims be sacrificed and the fury of personal resentment turn to vengeance. Such acts are unworthy of a civilized nation, and the provisional [Page 24] government would not tolerate them, for it has assumed the reins of state to conduct the nation to the enjoyment of liberty, and not to let it perish in anarchy.

Having explained the intentions of the government in this particular, it remains for me to advise you to deserve the country’s thanks by maintaining order at all risks, delivering over to the courts of justice all those that disturb it under any pretext, for they are the true enemies to liberty, and might cause us many sacrifices and tears if left to pursue their wild career.

May God give you many years.

PRAXEDES MATEO SAGASTA, Minister of Government.

Dispatch of Señor Aquirre, president of the superior revolutionary council, to Señor Serrano, president of the provisional government.

Most Excellent Sir: This superior revolutionary council is much pleased to receive your communication, giving the form of government you have chosen, in concert with the Marquis of Castellejos, (General Prim.)

The worthy officers you have selected is a proof to this council that we may expect the sacred principles inscribed on our revolutionary banner to be enforced by the supreme power, and we do not hesitate one moment to offer you our most frank and decided support.

This council hopes that all the provinces will hasten to approve of the constituted government, thus fulfilling a duty of patriotism.

On acknowledging the reception of your communication, the council hopes that you will act as interpreter of these sentiments to your worthy colleagues.

God give you many years.


His Excellency Don Francisco Serrano y Dominguez, Duque de la Torre.

Circular telegram from the revolutionary council of Madrid to the provincial councils.

At a large meeting of the democratic party, it was resolved, on motion of Mr. Rivera, to support the recently constituted government, in hopes that the programme of Cadiz may be faithfully carried out. At this meeting, and afterwards from the balcony of government house, Mr. Rivera, introduced by Mr. Aquirre, spoke in the name of the democracy, and counselled all citizens to extreme vigilance in the preservation of order. His speech was warmly applauded by the people. On quietly retiring, they shouted for Rivera and for General Prim, who was seated by his side, and who also made a speech.

MARQUIS VEGA de ARMIJO, Vice-President.

Telesforo Montejo, Inocente Artiz y Casado, Secretaries.

The above telegram was answered by many of the provincial councils, approving the constituted provisional government.

[Telegram per cable.]

Mr. Seward to Mr. Hale.

Reciprocate in President’s name the salutations of the provisional government, communicated by Spanish minister here, and tender best wishes of United States for peace, prosperity, and happiness of Spain, under present and definitive government.


John P. Hale Esq., &c., &c., &c.