Mr. Plumb to Mr. Seward.
Sir: The importance to commerce with this country of the early completion of the railroad from Vera Cruz to this city, may render it proper that I should transmit to the department a copy of the decree issued by this government on the 27th ultimo, revalidating the rights of the company engaged in the construction of that work, which, it was alleged, had been impaired by dealings with the late so-called imperial authorities.[Page 390]
The commencement of the construction of this important work dates many years back, as in 1854, when I first visited this country, ten miles of the road, from Vera Cruz, had been completed by the government. In 1855, Santa Anna being then in power, a concession for the construction of the road was made to parties who soon after transferred their rights, with the consent of the government, to a Mexican capitalist, to whom, on the 31st of August, 1857, a new concession was made by the government of President Comonfort.
On the 5th of April, 1861, the rebellion of Zuloaga and Miramon having intervened, a new concession was made to the same party by the government of President Juarez, and the construction of the work was actively commenced. The intervention then occurred and the work was suspended.
In 1864 the grantee transferred his rights to a company formed in England. The concession containing a requirement that the consent of the government must be obtained to any transfer of the same, application was made for that purpose to the so-called Maximilian authorities, and in January, 1865, such approval was procured, and a new concession, modifying in some particulars the old, was accepted from the said so-called authorities by the parties interested.
Under this the work was resumed and prosecuted, until, at the termination of the intervention, forty-seven miles out from Vera Cruz, and eighty-six miles from this city, had been completed, and some considerable portion of the intermediate superstructure, leaving only one hundred and twenty-eight miles, or less than half of the distance from Vera Cruz to this capital to be completed.
Under these circumstances the parties interested have applied to this government for a new concession, or revalidation of the previous franchises, which has been obtained in the decree now issued. The terms of this decree are liberal in the extreme, but the measure has the greatest public importance in showing that capital invested in the vitally important work of railroad building in this country will be respected under all of the changes of government that can possibly occur.
Being without rivers this country must have railroads; its magnificent resources cannot be developed until such means of communication are provided, and no one necessity of the country is more palpable than this. It must be equally evident that nowhere can the enterprise, the energy and the capacity for their construction, be so properly or desirably looked for, as in the United States, where the achievements in this line, and the wonderful progress of our great national work to the Pacific, are extorting the admiration of the world.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.