Mr. Plumb to Mr. Seward.
Sir: I have purposely, thus far since my arrival here, refrained from making any allusion in my communications to the department, to the many reports which from time to time are circulated in this country, and and are sent abroad, of reactionary movements, or of public disorders of more or less importance, in various parts of the republic.
In most cases these reports are speedily proved to be fabrications, and such movements as may occur have no political importance, because they can attain no practical end.
The struggle this republic has just passed through has been too vital, and the principles involved in the triumph achieved by the cause of republican constitutional government too important, and necessarily deep seated, for there to be even a possibility for some considerable time, at least, of any serious political change originating within itself.
It would seem to have been demonstrated that no government is now possible here except the constitutional form of government, and it would therefore clearly appear to be for the interest not only of this country, but of all who may have relations with it, that that government should be maintained. Any reactionary or other anti-constitutional movement now, whether originating abroad or within the republic, must be simply an attack upon public order, and a direct injury to the creditors of this country, and all who seek to have commerce with it.
Upon the success of this people in maintaining order and security, and achieving progress under the form of government they have definitively adopted, depends not merely their national existence, but all immediate prospect of the payment of their obligations, and the possibility of any development of their commerce.
For the solution of this question of their capacity in this regard, which is being determined, it would also appear clearly desirable that a full, fair and free time of trial should be afforded without opposition, but rather with encouragement from all quarters. It would appear to be in the common interest that any attempted movement against the constitutional order should receive severe reprobation abroad, and that the constitutional authorities should be stimulated, and, so far as may be legitimately practicable, aided to vigorously repress all such movements.
The recent reactionary movement in Yucatan, which commenced on the 11th of December last, upon the landing there of a certain number of the imperialist refugees who have been congregated at Havana, appears to have had its only inspiration and support from that source.
Availing by surprise of the port of Sisal and the city of Merida, [Page 431]where the constitutional governor, Pedraza, had but an insignificant military force, they succeeded in driving him from the latter place, and in momentarily organizing there a simulated form of government.
The distance required to march troops to Vera Cruz, and the necessity of transporting them across the gulf, consumed some time before this government could bring its force to bear against the movement. But it has acted in this instance with most commendable vigor, and the forces it sent were no sooner landed at Campeche than they were marched at once upon Merida, and at the first onset crushed the insurrection entirely, killing in the actions that occurred the principal leaders of the hopeless movement.
This affair might pass without further notice were there not some reason to believe that in the plots originated at Havana, among the refugees who have asylum there, were ramifications which embraced the resort to assassination as a means of accomplishing their ends. The plot has been so crude, however, and has had so little practical shape, except perhaps the purpose of a few depraved and reckless individuals, that there has been little chance of its execution. Yet it reached the knowledge of this government some time since, and on the morning of the 17th instant four individuals were arrested in this city, three subordinate officers formerly in the so-called imperial service, and a colonel in the present service, who was the officer of the day; and evidence was discovered, I am informed, showing the existence of a conspiracy that was to have taken effect that night, to assassinate the President, the governor of the city, and several of the members of the cabinet, but with what fixed or settled political aim thereafter does not appear, although it is stated a prominent reactionary general was expected to reach the city simultaneously with this movement. The whole affair, however, appears to have had so limited extent here, and to have been of so doubtful accomplishment, except as any individual may find an opportunity to commit the crimeof assassination, that it has rather a criminal character solely, than political importance.
The individuals arrested are now undergoing a military trial, by means of which, it is stated, the proofs will be made public.
Rumored movements that were to be attempted at Tampico and at other points, all having a common origin with the refugees congregated at Havana, were part of the schemes which, by the prompt suppression of the affair in Yucatan, and the arrest of the conspirators here, have now come entirely to an end.
There remain pending two movements of some magnitude, which are exclusively of domestic origin, and arise from local questions regarding the governorship, respectively, of the States of Sinaloa and of Guerrero.
The government, which is acting with energy, and appears to be actuated by the fixed determination to use all the military force and all the resources of the national authority to put an end to these attempts to resort to local revolution as a means of redress for local grievances, as also to all other attempts against the constitutional order, has already commenced the movement of troops to the State of Sinaloa, and is preparing to send a force to the State of Guerrero.
There is little doubt both these movements, as well as any others, should they occur, will be speedily put down, but these efforts cost time and money that should be only required for the work of reorganization and material development.
The people of this country long for peace and security. No new political [Page 432]flag can now be raised with any possible chance of success. Only a few refractory leaders who may have ranked with the liberals during the recent struggle, and the reactionary plotters abroad, remain as disturbers of the public order.
Within this limit are the practical difficulties of administration, which are quite sufficient for the attention of this government, and in which it needs the encouragement of all who believe that in the independent prosperity of this country lies the highest good of others as well as of itself.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.