Papers Relating to Foreign Affairs, Accompanying the Annual Message of the President to the Third Session of the Fortieth Congress
Mr. Plumb to Mr. Seward.
Sir: I nave the honor to transmit to the department herewith, translation of an editorial published in the official paper of this government on the 21st instant, entitled “Foreigners in Mexico.”
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.
Foreigners in Mexico.
We have no idea of any country in the world in which, with the character of such, there are a greater number of foreigners than in our young republic, notwithstanding its exaggerated backwardness, its revolutions, and its inconveniences.
Our independence scarcely consummated, our ports were opened to the commerce of all countries, and the rigorous monopoly established by the dominators having ceased, all in conformity with the new and liberal institutions adopted by the country, necessity and the eagerness for a fortune, which rarely and with a thousand anxieties can be realized in Europe, attracted to our soil large companies of individuals from all parts of the globe, animated by the not exaggerated riches and beauty of the new world, and which at another period had already led the Conquistadores to subjugate and sacrifice a free people; riches and beauty perhaps fatal to the young republic.
From this moment the monopoly ceased to be solely Spanish, in order that it might be availed of by foreign individuals, and of all nationalities, as the objection to which we had been condemned by a domination of three hundred years had left us impoverished, and without the fitness that justly should have been given to us for the exercise of the arts, of commerce, and the sciences.
The generous disposition which distinguishes us, the natural ignorance of an infant people, educated in darkness, and which almost in their cradle, as Hercules in the fable, had destroyed the serpents who threatened their existence; the noble sentiment of fraternity which animated us, and the consideration inspired by the illustration and progress of the old countries of Europe, led our country, which yet retained upon its shoulders the simple tunic of infancy, to extend, with the candor and lack of judgment inherent to its age, a generous hand to each one of those who, in the garb of a friend, arrived asking of it hospitality, which was conceded with all the effusion of its affection, and opening frankly its store, it placed them at the table, where they were waited upon as if treating of the absent brother returning to the hearth he had abandoned.[Page 438]
Conduct noble and just without doubt, whatever may have been the results it has produced, as it was what corresponded to a great and generous people, who having just destroyed the yoke of slavery, and free from the odiums of race, which might well have left in their heart a long and painful remembrance, and still wearing the laurel of victory, forgot past resentments and gave the beautiful example of this great idea of the Century: liberty, equality, fraternity.
Under such favorable auspices our guests did not delay in finding convenient means not only of meeting the necessities of life, but of rendering it comfortable and easy, as their labors or their industry found in the sons of the country their most sincere and ardent protectors. If it were possible to make a calculation of the fortunes, and above all of the time in which they were improvised, it would be curious and surprising.
All the elements were in favor of the foreigners; even our fiscal laws were almost null, whenever any individual of European nationality protected by them when commencing and realizing his calculations and operations, appealed to his nationality to make light of them when from abuses or fraudulent transactions the authorities attempted to cause them to be respected, as was just, punishing the culpable.
The examples of this sort are too numerous and public to detain ourselves in citing them, and it is truly melancholy that ingratitude, calumny, and injustice has been the payment of our consideration and generosity.
We have sometimes heard it said that there are no debts of gratitude or of consideration that are due to a country in which, if it is true life has been passed, and more than sufficient has been acquired to provide for the future, it is equally true these advantages are acquired by means of labor and of industry.
Conceding that this is always so, which unfortunately is not exact, it is necessary to admit that there are many countries in which honesty, labor, and industry are not sufficient to save millions of men from hunger, from misery, and crime, and who with difficulty can leave their native land, their fathers, or their sons, and the advantages, conveniences, and inestimable benefits of tranquillity and peace that may be enjoyed in an established country, if these are within their reach, to launch out upon the eventualities and the cruel caprices of fortune.
What stupid folly that would lead a man to leave such precious and positive advantages, to go in pursuit of doubtful expectations, were it not from imperious necessity, or the desire to save themselves from the horrible yoke of servitude and misery!
We are very far from blaming any one; there are not wanting honorable exceptions among the foreigners; but in exchange, what deceptions, what bad faith, and what unjust ingratitude! All have been witnesses of the terrible movements, when a foreign nation, patronizing the greatest and worst of crimes, landed on our shores to rob an inoffensive people of their liberty, overthrow their institutions established through their blood, to realize infamous purposes, and elevate the intrusive, blind instrument of their criminal projects.
A cry of indignation resounded throughout all the limits of the republic; the name of France was pronounced with just maledictions, yet meanwhile the French colony, living tranquil and at ease among us, could sleep at night without fear. The good sense of the people and the vigilance of the authorities guarded their slumbers. Later the fortune of arms refused to the sons of Mexico its favors; our heroes, unfortunate in a hundred battles, succumbed, and the soldiers of the tyrant of France entering, proud of their work, by the streets of the capital, found them tapestried with silk and covered with flowers by the hand of their compatriots, aided also by the traitors. Neither the one nor the other attempted to conceal their pleasure, enjoying the misfortune of a country where they had found hospitality and affection, enjoying also the cruel and numerous executions which stained with blood all our soil, while, meanwhile, the executioners spoke of these same compatriots resident in Mexico with a strange intolerance, not failing to call them rubbish and canaille.
But the day of justice arrived; the chain of crimes drawn out by the executioners was to be destroyed by the hand of justice and of liberty; the French ships in fright and shame fled from our shores; the farce terminated in the midst of ridicule, and the victorious arms of the people inundated the capital.
What of the French colony? What of those who adorned their balconies with silk, showering flowers upon the streets to receive their conquering brothers? Not a cry, nor an insult, nor a complaint.
Where can such another example be found? What pride for Mexico! what honor for the authorities!
Shall we look for the example in any country in Europe and in analogous circumstances? Let the Mexicans answer who were resident in Paris at the arrival there of the news of the punishment and end of the intruder.
The foreigners among us have too many proofs that they can live tranquilly; abandoned in an unworthy manner in a difficult situation, the authority has watched over their security the same as over the native citizens, giving an example which should put its unjust enemies to the blush.
The supreme government which disregards unjust reproaches; that has placed itself [Page 439]so high in the universal esteem notwithstanding animosities and calumny, will continue being the guarantee of all honorable and pacific citizens, whatever may be their nationality; but we are sure it will cause itself to be respected for its character and energy, it being only the vicious and criminals who are menaced and punished by the law.