Depositions of Porter Cornelius Bliss,
On the 17th September he declared as follows:
It is true he knew of the revolution and took part in it; and he proceeds to state how he was induced to engage in the infamous conspiracy.[Page 705]
The first time Washburn came here as minister, which was before the war, he was indifferent to Paraguay; but he soon began to hate the country because he did not succeed in getting the late President to recognize the old Hopkins claim, amounting to a large sum of money.
It was by the influence of the Hopkins Company that Washburn was first appointed minister to Paraguay; he had instructions to prosecute the Hopkins claim, and he brought Bond, the agent of the company, along with him. When Washburn found out he could get no money out of the Paraguayan government, he conceived a hate for the late President, and blamed the present marshal for influencing his father to reject the claims.
Washburn had a difficulty with the late President about a passport to visit some distant provinces, which was refused him. He then wrote to the minister of foreign relations, and tried to break off diplomatic relations, as he confessed to this deponent. This fact is mentioned to show the quarrelsome nature of Washburn, who tried to create international disturbances for so slight a cause. The passport affair was afterwards settled amicably.
About a year before the war the President requested Washburn to send to the United States and purchase for him samples of the best fire-arms and implements of war, for the purpose of equipping the national army.
Washburn undertook this commission and received several thousand dollars on account; but, under pretence of writing for his American agent, who would soon reach Buenos Ayres, as he said, he delayed the business for many months.
In January, 1865, when he left Asuncion for the United States, he took an order on Felix Eguzquiza, Paraguay consul at Buenos Ayres, for several thousand dollars, which he said his agent used in the United States to purchase the arms; and he told deponent he drew one thousand dollars over the sum spent for the arms. The arms did not come, and thus Washburn caused the government to lose a precious year, in which time the arms could have been purchased in this market. When he took leave of the President to return to the United States, he spent two hours with him and promised to do wonderful things for Paraguay; but we never heard of his promises afterwards. The President also asked him to see Candio Bareyro, the Paraguay minister in London, on his way, and make a true statement of the situation in prospect of a war with Brazil. Washburn did execute this commission, but in a very singular way; a commission for Bareyro, as minister to the United States, was given to him to deliver to its address; on the delivery, he advised Bareyro not to go to the United States, because he could do nothing there, as he knew by his official correspondence with the government. Thus advised by Washburn, Bareyro did not go on his mission.
When Washburn started home, he did not intend to return to Paraguay, but expected to get some better position, more to his taste; but President Lincoln’s sudden death depriving him of that hope, he had to come back to Paraguay. Finding himself compelled to do this, he delayed as long as he could, making favor with both sides, so as to serve his designs.
When he got back to Paraguay the second time, he pretended to be very angry with the allies for detaining him, and boasted that he had to run the blockade. While encouraging the government of Paraguay, he told his friends that it would soon be destroyed by the superior forces of the allies. He often expressed contempt for the Brazilians, and said any other nation would have conquered by this time. Every day he would exclaim, “What in the devil are those Brazilians doing that they do not advance?”
During the six or eight months that he delayed down the river, he received four thousand dollars a month from Octaviano, by arrangement with Polidoro, to detain him as long as the allies desired. This agreement was with the consent of Bartolomé Mitre, then commander-in-chief of the allied armies; but as he had no funds, he was a silent partner, and let the Brazilians operate with their money.
The six or eight months that Washburn staid was just the time reckoned by the Brazilians for the conquest of Paraguay; but the series of disasters like those of the 24th of May at Rogue creek, the 11th of June at Yataitycora, 18th July at Sauce, and 23d September at Curupayti, producing a necessity for a new levy of troops, and the command being given to the Marquis Caxias, all that time was lost.
Now the Emperor thought it was time to try some intrigue inside of the republic, and he justly supposed Washburn would be more useful to him within the republic; therefore he gave contradictory orders to Admiral Tamandaré: one was not to let Washburn pass under any circumstances; the other to pass him willingly, but under public protest.
Tamandaré came to see Washburn on the American steamer, and to make the protest; and it was arranged that he should go up to Paraguay by force, pretending much sympathy for Paraguay and a corresponding hatred for the allies.
As soon as Washburn reached this republic he began to talk and act to produce a compromise with the enemy, and thus put an end to the war. For this purpose he [Page 706] proposed to act as mediator, and said General Mitre was a perfect gentleman, and would certainly see that favorable terms were offered to Paraguay.
When Mitre was called home to attend to a rebellion in his own country, and Caxias had taken command of the allied armies, Mr. Washburn continued to labor for a compromise with the enemy, and in March he actually went to the enemy’s camp to seek an interview with the commander. In his journey by boat to Pasopucú, Washburn was accompanied by Benigno Lopez, to whom he made great boasts of his offers of mediation.
During that visit Caxias made a serious impression on Mr. Washburn, showing him the important positions of the allies; while Washburn told him all about the situation of the Paraguay forces, under cover of overtures of peace, and advising him to extend his lines so as to surround the Paraguay encampment; and at the same time counselled him to send ten thousand men over the Tebicuari at Caapucu, and capture the capital in the rear. Caxias said he knew it could be done, but said it was best to advance cautiously and prepare the people who were disposed to take an active part in the revolution.
After that Washburn frequently said the situation of the national forces was desperate, and that they would soon have to give up. In this he was seconded by Mr. Cochelet, the French consul. They exaggerated the activity of the enemy, and told of railroads to be built from one point to another as if by miracles.
About a year ago, when Cochelet left the country, he took many letters and packages for persons on the La Plata river, some of them ministers, and wrote to Washburn, telling him he had spent four days conferring with prominent men about the prospects of the revolution, and there were thousands of refugees in Buenos Ayres who were ready to aid it.
Cochelet also carried letters from Washburn to Edward Hopkins, ex-American consul at Asuncion, and president of the company that had urged Washburn’s appointment as minister to Paraguay, for the purpose already mentioned. Hopkins is now in Buenos Ayres operating against Paraguay, and is a great favorite with the allies. He has made a considerable fortune by contracts with the government, and commissary business with the allied armies. He owns two or three steamers which he employs as transports for the allies. His great expectation seems to be to revive the company claim against the government of Paraguay; and the allies have promised him it shall be paid when Paraguay is conquered. Hopkins, therefore, is Washburn’s chief accomplice in the attempt to overthrow the government of Paraguay. Hopkins is also in correspondence with the conspirators in Asuncion, through Washburn.
Speaking of José Berges’s declarations, referred to officially by the minister of foreign affairs, mentioning the interviews and conversations about the revolution, Washburn was surprised at their truthfulness, and gave utterance to this sentence:
“Berges must have a devilish good memory, or he must have taken notes at each interview, to remember everything so minutely and cite so correctly as he has done.”
Deponent says when Washburn got the note from the department, asking for Berges’s papers deposited with him, he tried to find a place in the house to hide them in, for he expected the house to be searched next day; but failing to find a secure place, he spent much of that night in his office alone, destroying Berges’s papers and all others he expected to be called for.
He says the declarations of Benigno Lopez were mostly true, particularly that about the sum of money received, and of conversations about a change and form of government, the French consul, the interview returning from Fidanza’s house; and he says the declarations of the others were substantially true.
So, whenever he received a note from the minister, he confessed its truth and acknowledged its justice, but said he was obliged to deny everything.
Among the persons sheltered at the legation, José Pereira was received on condition that he was to be given up in case a demand for him was made. When Carreras and Rodriguez, of Uruguay, were demanded, authors on the law of nations were consulted upon the right of asylum, and finding nothing in their favor, a consultation was held to determine what was to be done in their case. Washburn was inclined to refuse to deliver them up, if demanded. To settle it they told Washburn that if he would promise to remain in the country till the war was over they would stay at the legation, for the government would not force them away; but if he intended to leave they would give themselves up if demanded.
Washburn was sorry to see them leave, not only because he liked them, but because, if examined, he was afraid they would disclose some of his important state secrets.
When deponent and Masterman were demanded a second time, Washburn refused to give them up, and said he had a right to protect them, though they proposed to deliver themselves up; and he said, moreover, it was his duty to protect them, because he led them into the trouble, and if they were tried it would be found out that he was at the head of the conspiracy.
Deponent first perceived Washburn’s ill will to Paraguay after his visit to the enemy’s [Page 707] camp in March, 1867; he then saw that Washburn had sold himself, body and soul, to the allies. Not long after that visit Washburn asked him to translate a note from Caxias in reply to his offer of mediation. The note was a rejection of all negotiations for peace. Several times after Washburn would ask him the meaning of certain Portuguese words without telling him why he wanted to know; but he found out that they were in a letter from Caxias the year before, telling Washburn what to do for the benefit of the allies. The letter also expressed the satisfaction with which Caxias received the reports of Washburn’s labors for him, and advised him to engage those nearest the government, as most effective and less to be suspected; though no names were mentioned, it was evident the letter referred to Benigno Lopez, José Berges, and Saturnino Bedoya.
Deponent was not certain of the existence of a conspiracy till the enemy advanced to the river, a short time before the iron-clads forced the pass of Curupayti. The news of the advance filled Washburn with joy, and he exclaimed: “Now we will soon see the end of the war, for this is only the first step of a series that is to follow!” Meaning, of course, that this was the movement he had suggested to Caxias at the time of his visit.
Caxias informed Washburn of the advance his squadron was to make on the 15th of August, and of other movements, that did not succeed on account of the disaster at Humaita.
About the same time Washburn informed deponent that the war was to be ended by a triple simultaneous movement; the squadron was to come up, a column of the allies was to cross the Tebicuari near Caapucu, and march to the capital by way of Paraguari; and finally, the conspirators were to arise. Washburn charged deponent to keep this secret, as it would compromise him if known, and said all the foreigners were to form in companies for the pretence of protecting their property, but in reality to receive the invaders and aid the revolutionists.
As the Brazilian column did not march, nor the steamers come up, Washburn was disappointed in his machinations; so he next sent to Mr. Gould, secretary of the British legation at Buenos Ayres, a plan of pacification to be proposed to the belligerents, thus hoping to attain by strategy what he could not do by force of arms, viz: to get Lopez out of his way. The negotiations lasting more than a month delayed the revolution, and it was put off till the enemy’s vessels should arrive in front of the capital, or a column come in the rear by land.
This plan was also frustrated by the evacuation of the capital, and defeated the hopes of the revolutionists. National forces were sent to the Tebicuari to prevent Caxias’s column from ascending by that way. Another plan was to evacuate Humaita on the 24th of June, under pretext of want of supplies, but in fact to deceive the Paraguayans, and give a chance to the revolutionists in the temporary capital of the republic. This too was defeated by a discovery of the conspirators.
Washburn received his passport on the 5th instant, and finding that deponent’s and Masterman’s names were not in it, and fearing his government might hear of the mean conduct of one of its ministers in the country to which he was accredited, he ordered deponent to write letters in his defense, and to prove his innocence. During that day and the next, defendant wrote three letters for that purpose; one addressed to deponent’s father; another to a paper in New York; and the third to a protestant preacher in Buenos Ayres, who was a correspondent of another New York paper.
Washburn busied himself last year making up a history of Paraguay; but not having sufficient information, and wanting capacity for it, he thought proper to steal deponent’s books and papers to help him out in his literary labors. This feat occurred on the 12th of September, while deponent was sick in bed, and given over by his physician.
When deponent recovered, he found himself very poor; for, during his illness, his money and everything valuable were stolen from the house, and he was compelled to accept Washburn’s hospitality, and work for him to pay for it. His business was to compile historical data of Paraguay, for fifty years back, for Washburn’s proposed work. Washburn particularly charged him not to take accounts of late battles from the official papers, unless he was certain of the facts; for he intended to give a mutilated history, full of his own vague fancies, and unjust criticisms. For this work Washburn agreed to give him three dollars a day, in paper money, when the patacon was worth four paper dollars, thus imposing upon him, and taking advantage of his necessities, when he knew he had no other way to live, and was compelled to serve an ungrateful man who would not listen to reason.
Here is a copy of deponent’s letter to Mr. Washburn, asking for his manuscripts:
“September 11, 1868.
“Sir: Now that I am out of your power, I will tell of the important part you took in the revolution, and how you inveigled me and many others into it. I have said you were the soul of the rebellion, and though I regretted to mortify you so much, how could the truth be concealed, when you continued your machinations up to such a late date? Therefore I consider myself no longer bound by the promise you forced from me [Page 708] yesterday in your office, not to tell anything you had done, at any time, against the government. Your big speculation with the Hopkins Company, in which you were to pocket over $100,000, has leaked out, as well as the golden pill Polidoro and Octaviano gave you to swallow, and the gold bait offered by Caxias, when you went to see him at the encampment, last year.
“The object of this letter is to ask you to give to bearer my historical manuscripts, which I engaged to write for the government, and which you took from my room while I was sick.
“As you know, they will make a voluminous history of Paraguay up to 1810; and there are also over two hundred pages of notes in Spanish, on subsequent events, and a chronology up to the present time.
“You will also have the goodness to send me the three letters you compelled me to write in your defense; one to the New York World; another to William Tell Good-fellow, in Buenos Ayres; and the third to my father, Henry Bliss, in New York,
“As the truth is now out those letters can be of no use to you, for they are false; and you need no longer wear a mask of hypocrisy; and in honor you ought to comply with this request.
“I don’t ask for the English manuscripts you made we write against Paraguay, for they are your property; but I advise you not to deny what now is so plain.
“PORTER C. BLISS.
“Hon. Charles A. Washburn, “United States Minister Resident.”
The above letter, sealed, was sent to Captain Kirkland, commander of the gunboat Wasp, to be delivered to Mr. Washburn, who was on board.
Here is the note to Captain Kirkland:
“September 11, 1868.
“Sir: You will find inclosed a letter for Mr. Washburn, asking him to return some important manuscripts of mine, which he fraudulently took possession of, and some apocryphal letters he forced me to write to prove that his acts were neutral, and show he was a friend to Paraguay.
“I beg you will delay your departure till Mr. Washburn can have time to comply with this request. I take the occasion to offer you my respects.
“PORTER C. BLISS.”
The letter to his father is as follows:
“Paraguay, September 11, 1868.
“My Dear Father: I consider it my duty to inform you that the letter you will receive through Mr. Washburn, dated the 5th instant, is entirely false in its contents, as it was written by order of Washburn, with a view to vindicate him from the accusations of conspirators, who gave truthful evidence before the courts. He wanted to publish the letter for his justification, when the truth of the matter is, Mr. Washburn was not only the head of the conspirators here, but has led me into it. I have sincerely repented, and now place all my hopes in Marshal Lopez’s magnanimity. I have written two other letters under duress; one to the New York World, and the other to William Tell Goodfellow, of Buenos Ayres. I have not time to contradict them publicly at present.
“Do not believe in what you find in those letters; on the contrary, Washburn’s conduct has been most infamous, and I hope you will make this retraction public.
“Your affectionate son,
“PORTER C. BLISS,
On the 12th day of September the evidence was as follows:
The United States gunboat Wasp was sent from Montevideo, through the agency of Edward Hopkins and Baron Souza, Portuguese chargé and consul to Paraguay, under pretence of bringing Washburn and his family away from the country; but, in reality, to carry the latest news to the conspirators. For a long time previously Washburn had not received a single dispatch from his government, much less an order to leave the country. Washburn did not want to leave the country at that time, nor to send his wife away; the only business of the Wasp was to bring news to the conspirators and let them know when to organize the revolt. Caxias’s opposition to the passing of the Wasp was only a pretense to conceal the real object of the voyage.
When Washburn went to San Fernando to send for the Wasp, all he did was to order the commander not to come, because he (Washburn) did not want to leave just at the time his hopes were about to be realized; consequently, when the French consul [Page 709] telegraphed from San Fernando that the Wasp was coming, Washburn sent word back to the commander to go down the river and return in three months, when he thought the war would be over; so when Washburn asked permission to go to San Fernando, it was not to see about the Wasp, but to make arrangements for the outbreak of the revolution.
In his note of the 12th or 13th July, in reply to one ordering refugees out of the legation, Washburn said he wanted to send his wife to Buenos Ayres for her health. This could not have been the truth, for Mrs. Washburn was then in as good health as she is now; all that Washburn wanted was to give his friend, the Marquis of Caxias, notice of the situation, for time was now passing and Washburn was tired waiting for the finale of his drama.
The only answer to this extravagant and undiplomatic request was a telegram from Benitez, in these words: “Much obliged for the request to send your lady to Buenos Ayres.” Washburn saw that his designs had not escaped the penetration of the government, and he regretted having made the request.
When Washburn visited the President at San Fernando, he told him that Dr. Carreras had inherited a large fortune from an uncle in Bolivia; that he was favorable to the national cause, and could influence the Pacific republics in favor of Paraguay if Lopez would let him off. The truth of it is, Carreras was not allowed to leave, because it was known that he was implicated with Washburn in the revolution. Washburn took a great dislike to Cuverville when he first arrived, and the hate was returned with usury. Cuverville was acting French consul, and differed much from his predecessor, Cochelet, who was Washburn’s bosom friend, and hated Paraguay. Washburn thought it was Cuverville who denounced him to the authorities, and told of his conspiracy to overthrow the government; and for that reason called him a scoundrel, and, another time, a beast. Deponent thinks Cuverville is a gentleman and man of honor, and that Washburn is vulgar, in every sense of the word.
At this juncture, deponent received Washburn’s reply to his letter of the previous day, asking for the manuscripts left with him. The letter was in English, on a coarse piece of paper, in these words:
“United States Steamer Wasp, September 12.
“I have nothing belonging to you in my possession. Please deliver the inclosed to Marshal Lopez, also two letters to Doctor Carreras.
“C. A. WASHBURN.
The deponent then continued thus: When Washburn returned from San Fernando, he said his reception by the marshal was not very gracious, and the visit was worse than useless, for it did no good for Carreras, nor for Manlove; and he was sure Cuverville had informed on him, before Benigno Lopez joined the army.
Washburn told deponent that Cuverville spoke imprudently about important affairs, such as change of government, and candidates for the presidency; which he would not have done if he had resided longer in the country, for then he would have learned to hold his tongue.
Washburn finally tried to make friends with Cuverville, though he professed to hate him so cordially. When he received the official note of the 31st of July, and which was published in the Semanario of the 1st August, was sorry that he had called Cuverville a mean, impolite, and unreliable man.
Cuverville demanded satisfaction for this abuse from Washburn, who denied using the words, though he remarked to deponent that the epithets were too mild for the Frenchman’s meanness.
In the same apologetic letter he invited Cuverville to come to town and see him. He wanted to learn from him what was going on in Luque. Cuverville did come to see him, and their conferences must have been very interesting since neither deponent nor Masterman was allowed to be present.
Finding out that the conspiracy was discovered Washburn exhibited a feverish impatience to quit the country, though he had not expressed the desire to do so before. Day after day he sighed for the return of the Wasp. This uneasiness worked so much upon him that he gave up all his friends and left in the legation a quantity of boxes and trunks, without marks to identify them, belonging to persons who had no other property in the world. In two days he could have given up this property to the owners; and he knew that some of the trunks contained papers of persons implicated in the conspiracy, and if they fell into the hands of the authorities it would put him in a hornet’s nest.
Here is Washburn’s insulting letter to President Lopez.
“United States Steamer Wasp, “Near Angostura, in the Paraguay River.
“Sir: As Captain Kirkland was leaving this vessel yesterday, to take leave of you, I gave him a memorandum of certain things to which I begged him to call your [Page 710] attention. Captain Kirkland informs me that on arriving at your headquarters he found he had forgotten to take the memorandum with him, and, of course, could not fully comply with my request, as he had only glanced at the paper. In consequence, at the moment of starting, I take the liberty to deviate from diplomatic usage and send you a private note. I suggested, in that memorandum, that I could show you a letter from General Webb, our minister at Rio, from which it would appear that he came near having a rupture with that government, because it refused to let this vessel go above the squadron. He did this on his own responsibility, without waiting for orders from the United States, which, on hearing of the outrage, would certainly have taken most energetic measures to secure its rights by force, and save the minister from a very unpleasant situation.
“That letter, which you saw, proves what truth there was in Berges’s assertion that I was in connivance with General Webb, and in the interest and pay of the Brazilians. I have several letters for Doctor Carreras which I requested Captain Kirkland to deliver, but he refused unless I opened them, lest he also might be accused of favoring a treasonable correspondence. Therefore I send the letters myself, as I think there is nothing of treason in them, and I do not think any treasonable letters have ever passed through my hands, to or for anybody. In fact, I do not think there has ever been any conspiracy. The declarations of Berges and your two brothers Venancio and Benigno, implicating me in the conspiracy, are entirely false, and you know it, and you also know that they would never have made such declarations if you had not forced them to do so. You know very well that assertions of that kind will have no force outside of Paraguay. Nobody will believe a word of them, for they can be proved to be false; you ought not to kill the persons that made them, but the persons who forced them to be made.
“Before quitting Paraguay for good, it is my duty to protest against the arrest of Porter C. Bliss and George F. Masterman, members of my legation. Their arrest in the street, while going with me from the legation to the steamer, was as grevious a violation of the law of nations as if they had been taken out of my house. It was not only an insult to my government, but an affront to all civilized powers, and places Paraguay outside of the family of nations, and for that act you will be looked upon as a common enemy that refuses homage to the law of nations. You will also be considered a common enemy for imprisoning all foreigners in Paraguay and putting them in irons, and then going into their houses and taking their money, under the contemptible pretext that they had not paid taxes and had robbed the treasury.
“The threat you made to Captain Kirkland on his arrival, that you would imprison me, will be duly reported to my government, and I will only repeat his reply to you, that if you did so my government would have hunted you, not only everywhere in America, but over all Europe.
“Your obedient servant,
“CHARLES A. WASHBURN.
“H. E. Marshal Lopez, President of Paraguay.”
On the same day, 13th of September, the testimony was as follows:
The correspondence between the revolutionists and the enemy was chiefly addressed to Caxias, as he knew all the plans; but other letters were addressed to Baron Souza, and Washburn generally wrote to Hopkins.
One reason why letters were sent to Souza was, that they could pass for official dispatches between the Baron and the Portuguese consul and vice-consul in Paraguay, and they generally went under a flag of truce. Thus was the treasonable correspondence carried on without exciting suspicion. Sometimes individuals living in the country carried packages by land by Caapucu, to the enemy’s advanced pickets in that region. This mode of correspondence was managed by natives in favor of the revolution, but employed by the government; in that way the communications of Berges, Benigno Lopez, and Bedoya were carried. After some of the above joined the army, Colonel Venancio Lopez sent communications to them in that way, when he was induced to join the conspirators by Washburn.
Washburn acknowledged to deponent that many of the papers he destroyed in the night of the 23d and 24th of July last belonged to José and Miguel Berges, to Saturnino Bedoya, to Benigno and Venancio Lopez, and he believes the other papers destroyed by Washburn belonged to other conspirators.
Deponent has a personal knowledge of all the correspondence from persons at the American legation with the enemy; but he can only give hearsay evidence of other correspondence through Washburn. He saw Caxias’s letters to Washburn, and helped to answer them. Carreras told him of letters from Caxias to him; and of letters written to Baron Souza. Carreras was the bitter enemy of the Brazilians, and dreaded to fall into their hands. At the suggestion of Washburn, he wrote to Caxias, offering to join in the conspiracy, if the Brazilians would spare his life when they entered Asuncion; and to show his sincerity he began by giving Caxias details of the situation, and suggesting movements for the capture of the city.[Page 711]
Caxias not only agreed to pardon him, but promised to reward him for his services to the Brazilian cause. The part that deponent took in Washburn’s correspondence with Caxias was to furnish geographical and historical information, as Washburn’s ignorance and laziness incapacitated him for the task. Washburn often asked deponent how far it was from such to such a place, for instance, from Humaita to Tebicuari, &c., &c., and made inquiries about the condition of the roads and streams; and deponent answered with the map before him.
With other information communicated by Washburn to Caxias was that most of the persons that had protested against Brazil, at the beginning of the war, were now ready to aid the allies, if they were assured of success.
Washburn’s firm belief was that the allies would succeed sooner by a forced movement on the capital by way of Encarnacion, and he never ceased to urge it upon Caxias. This is meant when he advised him to extend his lines to the Paraguay river, when he visited him in March, 1867. Washburn said he knew nothing of military strategy, but, from the maps, that was the most practicable plan. He also told Caxias that the people in Paraguay were tired of war, and would help him to end it, no matter in what way. Caxias did not approve of Washburn’s plan, because of the disasters at Belgrano, but he promised to send ten thousand men from their post on the Parana towards Caapucu. He did send a few forces in that direction, but effected nothing by it; and of course Washburn was greatly disappointed. In ill humor at the result Washburn wrote these words to Caxias:
“The Brazilians do not deserve victory, for they have shown a pusillanimity unworthy of human beings.”
He declared that a Yankee army, under similar circumstances, would have finished the war in fifteen days; that French or English soldiers would have ended it in one month; Spanish or Italians, in a couple of months; Chaco Indians or Hottentots, in three months; monkeys, in one year; but as Brazilians were fighting it, they might finish it in three years!
This letter naturally displeased Caxias, yet he apologized for his failure by saying it was only a reconnoissance he intended by the movement. His present intention was to reduce Humaita, and that he intended very soon; afterwards, with the squadron, he intended a flank movement upon the capital, and Mr. Washburn would soon have his hopes realized.
The letters written to Caxias, at this time, were from Doctor Carreras, Venancio, and Berges, and Mr. Washburn was the bearer of them, under cover to Kirkland, commander of the Wasp, telling him the package only contained a protest against his detention of the Wasp.
On the 10th of June Captain Kirkland wrote Mr. Washburn that he was ready to start for Buenos Ayres, and sent him a letter from Caxias, exhorting the revolutionists not to lose patience, for he would certainly be up the river by the 24th July, the day fixed for the surrender of Humaita.
Deponent believes Captain Kirkland did not know the nature of the correspondence that was passing through his hands.
When Washburn received the note of the 4th denying passports to deponent, Master-man, and Baltazar, a servant, he did not know what to do, for he knew as soon as he left those three men would be put in prison. Deponent knew he would report the case to his government, but he also knew Washburn was afraid to do anything there.
Two days before Washburn left he telegraphed the French and Italian consuls to come and see him; that he was about to leave, and was at their service. On the 9th these gentlemen came into town, and remained with Washburn, as his guests, till he started. Mr. Chapperon, the Italian consul, accepted the keys of the house in which Washburn lived, and promised to take care of the money and valuables deposited in the house.
The two consuls then spent a few hours in the Italian consulate writing letters to their respective governments. Washburn took charge of the letters and four or five bundles of different sizes, which deponent saw placed in his hands.
As deponent had no conversation with Washburn at the time, he does not know what he said to the consuls about the conspiracy.
Finally, deponent and Masterman left the legation with Washburn, were arrested in the street and taken to jail.
In explanation of his declaration about the signers of the protest, on the 30th August, deponent says Washburn had a list of them made out to send to Caxias, in order to show him what changes had been made in his favor.
On the 14th the deponent continued his testimony as follows:
Washburn got all the information he could, particularly from José Berges, who was then minister of foreign affairs, for the purpose of sending it to Caxias. One day, in answer to the question where the national troops would go if forced to quit the Tebicuari, Berges told him to Villeta and Angostura, as the last was the best place for a battery to keep the iron-clads from coming up the river, and Washburn immediately [Page 712] reported it all to Caxias. Washburn also informed him that the Paraguayan government was building houses at Tobati, with the intention of making it a point of defense.
Washburn inquired all about the military arsenal in the city; about the cannon foundery at Ibicuy; the manufacture of war munitions; about the search for nitre in different parts of the republic; and about the gunpowder factory at Velenzuela. He got this information from the English workmen at the arsenal, the foundery, and the powder factory. Deponent will not say the Englishmen knew what use Washburn was going to make of that information.
Washburn was much frightened at the intimation, in the Semanario of the 25th July, that Asuncion would be burned like Moscow, in 1812, when Napoleon I was approaching it, because he was afraid he might lose something by it, or be obliged to go out to Luque, or some other place, as a temporary residence; and he often said he would not quit the capital under any circumstances.
Washburn said if he was not then so busy with the Paraguayan government on other important points, he would make a protest against the burning of Asuncion that would make a famous echo in the world. He told the Italian and French consuls it was their duty, in the interest of their countrymen, to protest against it; and if it were done, he said he would make it appear to the world as the greatest act of barbarism committed for a century. There were not the same circumstances to justify it like the burning of Moscow, of which it would be but a puerile and ridiculous imitation.
Washburn did his best to find out the telegraphic news, asking the director, Tramfelo, constantly what was going on in front. He got no satisfactory answers from the wily official.
The last information Washburn communicated to Caxias was, that the Paraguay army was only fifteen thousand strong, including sick and wounded, and that it could not be increased, for the cradle and the grave have been robbed to fill up the ranks.
He also wrote that Lopez was afraid to trust his best men, and had actually imprisoned all the Englishmen and other foreigners, except Drs. Stuart and Esquiner, from which he inferred they were dissatisfied with their situations, or were tired of the war, and would readily favor any plan to change the administration or put an end to the war.
Washburn often sent numbers of the Semanario and the Cabichui to Caxias, particularly those containing reports of political meetings, and engravings, and sarcastic articles about Caxias. He wrote thus:
“I send you some witty papers for your amusement and to show you how a great general of the allies is treated by the papers in Paraguay.”
He also said of the patriotic speeches that appeared in the Semanario that they were got up for the occasion by professional orators, and did not express the sentiments of the people. Dr. Boca, for instance, had written more than five hundred speeches for such occasions, and they were all just as like as coins from the same mold, and the same soup was served every Saturday from the Semanario, viz: praise of Lopez. Its columns were devoted to the praise of the government, and nothing could be discussed if not in laudation of Lopez.
In fact, Washburn ridiculed the government to all his correspondents.
On the 15th the evidence was as follows: Deponent confesses having signed a document, with ten others, at Berges’s house at Salinares, to concert with the commanders of the allied armies to bring about a revolution against the national government. He acted as secretary to the meeting and drew up the secret pact sworn to by the conspirators present to take Lopez’s life. The persons that assisted him in drawing up this document were José Berges, Benigno Lopez, and Antonio Carreras. The document was engrossed in a fine, clerkly hand, and to the best of his recollection was as follows:
“We, the undersigned, citizens of the republic of Paraguay, and strangers residing therein, having good reasons for desiring a prompt termination of this long and bloody war that is ruining the country and destroying the male inhabitants, and believing it necessary to select competent persons to bring about a radical change in the system of government by putting out of the way the only obstacle to the accomplishment of this, and having the consent of the allied enemy, we bind ourselves mutually to work together to effect a change of government and choose a new chief magistrate, and if it is found necessary to resort to violence to rid ourselves of the President of the republic, we also obligate ourselves to do so, after trying other means to effect the same end. We swear by our word of honor upon the holy evangels, to aid each other in whatever is agreed on by the majority of the signers, to realize the design already expressed, and to keep the secret of this conspiracy upon the pain of death. In faith whereof we have signed this pact in each other’s presence. Dated at Salinares, November, 1867, (about the middle of the month he thinks.) Signed by Benigno Lopez, José Berges, Saturnino Bedoya, Antonio Carreras, Francisco Rodriguez Sarreta, José Maria Leite Pereira, Antonio Vasconcellos, Simone Fidanza, M. Libertat, Domingo Pondé, Porter Cornelius Bliss.”
Manlove did not come in time to sign.[Page 713]
After the signing of the above document, another was drawn up as a constitution for the country after the first project was executed. It was signed early in December by Carreras, Rodriguez, and deponent, at the house of Benigno Lopez, in Asuncion. Conferences were held at the house of Carreras in Trinidad, at Berges’s office, and several other places, before it was finally adopted.
Deponent drew up another paper on police regulations, which was agreed to by his accomplices, but it was not signed by them. It was left with Washburn for safe keeping, or to be destroyed in case of danger. These are the only documents the deponent drew up and signed, but he heard of another made out by the revolutionary committee and signed by Berges, Bedoya, Benigno, Carreras, and Rodriguez, before the other papers mentioned.
All the deponent heard about a previous plan to assassinate Lopez, he got from Carreras and Martinez, an Argentine colonel who lived in Paraguay. The Saa committee, composed of Martinez, Costa, Lucero, and Guaicochea, was sent from Bolivia to offer their services to Paraguay; but failing in that, they conceived the idea of murdering Lopez, so as to gain the good will of the Argentine government, and thus open a new field to their adventures.
On speaking of the assassination conspiracy to Washburn he pretended not to believe it, and said if any one could be hired to do the act, it would be that Argentine butcher Mendocino—for that’s the epithet he applied to that leader—or Coriolanus Marquez.
In his replies to official notes from the department of foreign affairs, Washburn often said that he had received no letters by the Wasp, except for Vasconcellos. This was not true, for deponent knows he received letters for Berges and Venancio Lopez from Caxias; and when asked by deponent why he made the misstatement, he said he was not under oath before a court to tell the truth.
That letter of Caxias contained a proclamation to be used when the insurrection should take place, urging the people to put down Lopez, the plague of the country, and welcome the allies that would insure them peace and prosperity.
Washburn took the package from Caxias to Vasconcellos himself, and when opened it was found to contain a letter for Carreras, which Washburn also delivered in person. Deponent does not know what that letter was about; nor does he know what the one to Venancio Lopez contained.
For his services in the conspiracy deponent got 5,000 patacones from Benigno Lopez, at one time, and on three other occasions $5,500 in paper money, which he thought came out of Lopez’s private property, but found it came from the national treasury, which was the banking house for the conspiracy. Deponent learned this from Washburn, who had received large sums of money on account from the same source. This was found out after the evacuation of the city. Washburn also told him that Carreras and Rodriguez had received money for their co-operation in the contemplated conspiracy.
All the money received by deponent (except $800, his expenses up to the time of his imprisonment) was deposited with Washburn, to be taken to Buenos Ayres and deposited in Mana’s bank there, subject to deponent’s order.
Washburn acknowledged to deponent that he had received large sums of money from Benigno Lopez to pay the conspirators. Deponent saw two women carrying the money in covered baskets on their heads to the legation more than once. All this money, with much more belonging to Carreras, Rodriguez, and others, was carried away by Washburn to be deposited for the owners in Buenos Ayres.
On the 16th the testimony given was this:
Deponent heard of the surrender of Hnmaita from Washburn, who had a letter from Caxias, dated the 10th of June, informing him that the surrender was agreed upon for the last of July with the chief officers, Francisco Martinez, and Remigio Cabral, called admiral of the Paraguay navy. Deponent thinks a letter came at the same time from Caxias to José Berges, announcing the same event.
On the 19th deponent continued his statement thus:
He often heard Washburn say that Vicente Barrios was the worst man in the republic, and that he was longing to get into the President’s boots—meaning to take his place in command—and if he were put out of the way by a ball, or in any other manner, Barrios would certainly assume the supreme command. Francisco Rodriguez Larreta used to speak in the same way of Barrios, but said it would be much worse for the people if he got into power.
In September or October, when it was reported in the capital that General Brugues, Commander Marco, and another officer were shot, Washburn attributed the arrest of his German friend, Emil Neumann, to his circulation of the report, and said it would be nice if Neumann turned out to be a prophet, and Brugues was proved to have belonged to the conspiracy. The French consul, Crochelet, was the first to circulate the rumor. When Gumesindo Benitez came to Washburn, on the 26th July, to get a package for Berges, Washburn said he was confused, and evidently did not understand the part he was to play; for he spoke rapidly in alow tone, with his eyes fixed on the ground, and his continued assertion was—we know everything. Washburn also said his friend Gumesindo was no more secure in his shoes than Berges was, but he forgave him the trouble [Page 714] he had given him for the last month, seeing he was forced to act as he did. He said Fernandez was the best man for the war department, because he had made his pile while managing Lopez’s private property; and when an opportunity offered, he would act cordially with the revolutionists.
Deponent corrects his statement that he only heard of the treasury money after the evacuation; he now remembers that he heard of it in October. About his own connection with the conspiracy, he says: Early in October, ofter a hard spell of sickness, while he was working for Washburn at a low salary, he was sent for by Berges, who was then minister of foreign relations. Berges pretended much friendship for him and said he was sorry for him, and regretted that his work on national history had been interrupted for a year, and that he had received nothing from the national treasury for his labor; and he wanted him to resume the work. Deponent asked if this was from Lopez. Berges said no, but he had the power to make the proposal, and to pay for it out of the treasury; and added: “Go to the treasury now, and I will send an order to pay you $300 down.” Deponent then went to the treasury, where he met Saturnino Bedoya with a paper in his hand, which he gave to Felipe Milleres, saying: “Draw up a receipt for $3,000 in favor of Cornelius Bliss.” Milleres looked at the order, and said: “This is for $300, and not for $3,000!” “True,” said Bedoya, looking at the paper again, “it is only $300, but it might as well have been for $3,000.” Then Bedoya asked: “To whose account must it be placed?” “To the account of the department, of course,” replied Berges. Then deponent said: “Let it be stated in the receipt that the money is for literary labors.”
Some days afterwards, speaking to Washburn about this, the latter said he was very long finding out what character of persons Berges and Bedoya were; deponent ought to know that all the money in the treasury was at their disposal, but for peculiar services, different from those deponent had previously rendered. Washburn then advised deponent to see Berges again. This was done, and deponent entered personally into the schemes of the conspirators.
Speaking of the arrests, Washburn said Lopez would gain nothing by them, for Fernandez was commander in the city, Gumesindo Benitez and Bernardo Ortellado at Luque, and affairs would yet be well for the revolutionists, particularly if Caxias made the contemplated movement. He did not mean to say that the Vice-President was concerned in the conspiracy, for he was a nothing, a mere cipher at the left of a figure, as he expressed it. When the Wasp arrived the second time, about the end of August, Washburn said if it brought any letters for Caminos he would not deliver them, because the government had complained of him as bearer of treasonable correspondence to public officials.
In November, 1865, when Washburn passed through the enemy’s squadron on his way to Paraguay, he learned that a counter-revolution was preparing at Asuncion, and when he arrived there he found it to be true.
About the last of August, while deponent was at the American legation, a servant girl, named Lubia Rivas, said to Mrs. Pereyra that the soldiers guarding the legation had said that the bishop advised the President to treat with the enemy, because much blood had been shed, and the people were tired of war; and Mrs. Pereyra told this to Washburn, Masterman, and deponent.
Washburn used to say the bishop was a man well versed in all sorts of intrigue; that he made money by selling the secrets of the confessional; called him a spy and detective; and was the worst adviser the President could have in this war.
On the 4th of October the examination continued as follows:
When Fidanza asked deponent about Cuverville, the French consul, he said he had broken with the government, on account of the imprisonment of so many French subjects, and he and the Italian consul had written to their governments on the subject. To which Fidanza replied, “I have much confidence in Washburn.”
When Berges heard of Washburn’s departure, he said to deponent, “So Washburn is gone! Was he in a good humor?” Deponent said he thought not. “Well,” added Berges, “What can we expect from him?” Deponent replied, “Washburn says he will move heaven and earth to bring an American fleet down here, but I don’t believe he can; for his complicity in the revolution is well known abroad.” “And what did he do with the papers?” asked Berges; “Burned them,” replied deponent. “And did he destroy those of Benigno and Venancio?” “Yes,” was deponent’s reply. When deponent asked Berges about Bedoya, Rodriguez and Vasconcellos, he said he knew nothing about them.
Deponent says he knew nothing in Washburn’s letter to Caxias, but he knew what was in Caxias’s letters to Washburn, because he translated them from the Portuguese. Some were intended for circulation among the conspirators, while others were marked, Very private; intended for Washburn alone, as Caxias seemed to have great confidence in him. The reason Washburn did not show those letters to any of the Paraguayans was because they contained information of the ultimate plans of Brazil and the Argentine government, in respect to Paraguay, that would not be very pleasant to them.
By letter, dated in March, soon after the assassination of Flores and the inauguration of the new Oriental administration, Caxias told Washburn that neither Brazil nor the [Page 715] Argentine government were satisfied with affairs at Montevideo, and that country would be allowed no part in the treaties, after the war, In other letters Caxias spoke in the same manner of the Oriental Republic, and said affairs would be settled between Brazil and the Argentine Republic by agent at Rio. He mentioned José Marmol as one of his agents.
Speaking of the conspirators, and mentioning by name the two brothers and brothers-in-law of the marshal, Caxias said, it was well enough to use such persons in the revolution; but after the war not one of the Lopez family would be allowed to remain in the country; and Washburn had better not unite his interests with theirs, because they were mere puppets worked by strings from Brazil.
Edward Hopkins used about the same language in his letters to Washburn, and added, in one of his last, that a new secret treaty had just been signed at Rio Janeiro between Brazil and the Argentine Republic, leaving the Oriental Republic out of the question. It explained the treaty of the 1st of May; said the war had been different from what was anticipated, and new questions had arisen with other South American powers. Hopkins said he learned this from his intimate friend Doctor José Benjamin Gorostiaga, a person of great influence with Mitre.
The treaty seemed to have had this foundation: The Imperial and Argentine governments considered themselves released from all obligations to the Oriental government by the murder of Flores, and when the war was over they intended to divide not only Paraguay and the Bolivian plains among each other, but take possession of Uruguay, and use the Paraguay army as they pleased for territorial extension.
The Oriental Republic was to be divided into two portions, by the Rio Negro. The Argentine Republic was to have Montevideo and all the territory south of the Rio Negro, and Brazil was to have the rich departments of Paisandu, Salto, and Tacuarembo, north of that river and bordering on Lake Merin. For this liberal grant of land from Brazil the Argentine Republic was to give up its rights and claims to the missions between the Parana and the Uruguay, and Brazil was thus to form a new province to be called Uruguayana, with the capital of that name, or the town of Salto Oriental. As to the Chaco, the Argentine Republic was to give all of it north of the Pilcomayo to Brazil, so as to extend its possessions towards Bolivia, against which republic war was soon to be declared, so as to give the Argentine Republic a chance to recover its old province of Tarija, and Brazil to seize the Chiquito and Mayo missions, which it had so long coveted, using as a pretext that Bolivia violated neutrality in the Paraguay war by sending the army arms and munitions. In reference to the treaty of May 1, 1865, securing independence to Paraguay for five years, it would expire in 1870, and then the country could be divided. Before that, however, a kind of government was to be formed of Paraguayans now out of the country, and not one member of the Lopez family, nor any of its allies, were to take any part in it.
The two most important personages in this plan are Candido Barsyra and Carlos Saguier. The latter has made good use of his money by educating young men of Paraguay in Europe. He is Washburn’s favorite for next President.
The new government being established, negotiations for paying the immense war debt were to be entered into, and it was to join the allies in a war against Bolivia, and furnish 95,000 men of all arms for that purpose—the whole of the Paraguay army, as Caxias supposed. These troops were to be dispersed among the Brazilian regiments so that they could not revolt. The superior officers were to be Brazilians; only subordinates would be allowed to retain their places.
In the division of territory all that part of the republic north of the Ypane River was to go to Brazil, and all south of the Tebicuari was to belong to the Argentine Republic. This division was to be made after the 1st of May, 1870, till which time the republic was to remain independent, within the limits fixed by the secret treaty of the “triple alliance.”
At no definite time after this another quarrel was to be picked with the new government of Paraguay, and the remainder of the republic was to be divided between Brazil and the Argentine Republic; Brazil taking the portion north of the river Caañabe, which empties into the Paraguay between the departments of Villeta and Villa Oliva, near Angostura, and the Argentine Republic all south of that river.
The excuse for this wholesale confiscation of a republic was to pay the expenses of the war. Caxias said the same in his correspondence with Washburn. He said if Paraguay was put up and sold at auction it would not bring half enough to pay the expenses of the war; and, moreover, the territory would be a sort of compensation for the loss of all that portion of Brazil north of the Amazon and adjoining French Guiana, which was about to be ceded to France in liquidation of a mortgage to that country.
On the 5th of October the evidence was continued thus:
When the Wasp came up the last time to take Washburn away, it brought him a letter from Caxias, informing him that the subterranean telegraph had brought news of the arrest of some of the conspirators, but it was nothing, as conspirators were to be found, not only among civilians, but even in the army. He was sorry so many foreigners had been imprisoned, but it would only be an additional inducement for him to hurry to their assistance. He was convinced that the war would soon be over, because [Page 716] many of the officers who appeared loyal before the capture of Humaita were now ready to change sides, and some fine morning Lopez would wake up and find himself alone in his camp.
After the reception of this letter, and while preparing to leave, Washburn studied the map of the country between the Tebicuari and Caañabe or Paray to get an idea that might be useful to Caxias in his military operations.
Washburn was anxious to see Lopez’s escape to the mountains cut off, for if he got in the hills the war might last many years longer. He said he did not know much about military affairs, but he was sure his opinion would be worth more than that of any Brazilian general, and for that reason he was anxious to see Caxias and give him a piece of his mind on that important maneuver.
It was Washburn’s intention, on reaching Buenos Ayres, to call a meeting of the foreign ministers, (English, French, Prussian, Italian, and Portuguese,) as their dean from his long residence in Paraguay, not taking into consideration that he was no longer de jure nor de facto minister to Paraguay after receiving his passport, and he was to tell them of the outrages and indignities that had been heaped upon him by the government of Paraguay, and of the imprisonment of foreigners, countrymen of the ministers, whom he entitled his colleagues.
He thought by this to get a protest, signed by the whole diplomatic corps in Buenos Ayres, against the Paraguayan government, and use it, like Archimedes, as a lever to move the world against Lopez.
He placed much confidence in the help of Mr. Noel, the new French minister in Buenos Ayres, because he was a friend of Cochelet, the late French consul at Asuncion, and would share his hate for Paraguay and its government; and, besides, Mr. Noel has been employed in the South American branch of the Foreign Office, and would know all about the country and its bad governments. Now, Washburn thought to get Mr. Noel to write to Cochelet, consul in Gibraltar, to go direct to Paris and influence the French government in favor of a change of administration in Paraguay; and he intended to print his correspondence with the Paraguay government, in pamphlet form, with annotations, in Buenos Ayres, to circulate and serve, as he expressed it, as an instrument of warfare. He had no hope of the British government doing anything, for ever since the Castano affair it had little to do with Paraguay, and would not interfere now, unless for the protection of two or three British subjects. As to his own government, the North American, Washburn, as has been stated, would do all he could to induce it to demand satifaction for insults he had received; but he could not have much hope of success in that, for these reasons:
When the Wasp arrived in Paraguay waters the commander sent word to Washburn that he had a package of dispatches for him from Washington. Washburn wrote to him to keep the dispatches till he came on board. Now these dispatches might have contained important instructions to be carried out before Washburn left the country; but he was afraid his government would disapprove of his refusing to obey the order of evacuation, or of his protecting James Manlove, an American citizen, as a member of the legation.
In one of his letters to Washburn, Caxias told him that public opinion in Europe Was prepared to consent to the extinction of Paraguay; for the agents of the allies there had purchased silence from the few Paraguay agents and other influential persons on that side, mentioning Baron du Graty, Paraguay minister to Prussia; Chevalier Yon Gulich, ex-Prussian minister to Paraguay; and Carlos Calvo, representative of Paraguay at London and Paris, at different times. Caxias also declared there was not a Paraguayan on the Plata who was not ready to welcome a new order of things in the republic, and, besides others well known, he mentioned Eguzquiza, Brizuela, José Caminos, and his son Felix.
Mr. Cuverville, the French consul, told deponent his feelings towards the Paraguay government had changed from friendship to bitter enmity, and he now favored Washburn’s plans, and had written to his government to that effect, as well as the Italian consul, and the letters were sent out of the country by Washburn.
The fact that Fidanza and Libert at lived a long time with those consuls, and their intimacy with Domingo Pomié and other notorious conspirators, show that they must have known of the conspiracy for a long time.
After the conspiracy to assassinate Lopez was made known in the Semanario, Washburn said no person was so proper to execute that horrid deed as General Barrios, and that seemed to have been the opinion of every one of the revolutionary committee. Anybody could plan a murder, and many might approve of it; but to execute it a person of high rank, like General Barrios, was required; for he could then put himself at the head of the army and get off safe. And then Washburn quoted the words of Jesus Christ, “A man’s enemies are in his own house,” and of the Psalmist, speaking of Ahithophel, of whom he complained, saying: “My familiar friend, in whom I have trusted, and who has eaten with me the bread of my own table, is the one who has raised his hand against me;” applying all this to General Barrios.
At that time Washburn was reading the works of Nicolo Machiavelli, who was a [Page 717] great man, and whose principles were not appreciated by moderns, as he said; and he called deponent’s attention to that chapter on conspiracies, where these words are found:
“Those who plan conspiracies or revolutions are not persons outside of the government circle, for only such persons as are acquainted with government affairs can execute such plans; and they are generally persons who have received great injuries or great favors from the government, and who are in positions proper to that end.”
On the 7th October the declaration was as follows:
Washburn, knowing deponent would be tried for conspiracy when once out of the legation, and his complicity would be discovered, often told him how to answer interrogatories put to him by the court. In the first place he told him to insist upon his rights and privileges as a member of the American legation, and to deny the jurisdiction of any court not subject to the American government. That failing, he was to plead the incompetency of the court, whether civil, military, or ecclesiastical. Deponent was to refuse to take an oath, or sign any paper; or if forced to do so, he should insist on the privilege of signing every page, for fear of forgery: such were Washburn’s suspicions of the justice of Paraguay courts.
When Washburn expressed a fear of being called to account by the American Congress, through an investigating committee, “with power to call for persons and papers,” he told deponent and Masterman they would be important witnesses, and they must testify in his favor, as it would be to their interests also; thus attempting to suborn them to perjury.
Besides this hint at pay for perjury, Washburn promised deponent a good place in the American government; and offered to write a flattering introduction to his history of Paraguay, which he had once refused to do when requested, though an act of mere justice; and this was part pay for perjury.
At the time of the evacuation of the capital, deponent, Masterman, and Manlove were living in Ulrich’s houses; and to prevent the three persons from leaving, Washburn extended the protection of the legation over those houses by pretending to rent them from Ulrich, who gave him a receipt to that effect. The receipt was false, as no money had passed between them; and what Washburn said about it was not so. Washburn’s only object in doing this was to be able to say that deponent, Manlove, and Masterman were living in the legation; and this false assertion he made very frequent use of in his correspondence with the government authorities.
On the 19th October the declaration was as follows:
It is certain there was a secret provisional treaty between the allies and the Paraguay conspirators, signed in December by the American minister, Washburn, for the allies; by Doctor Antonio Carreras, for the Oriental government; and by Benigno Lopez, José Berges, and Saturnino Bedoya, on the part of the Paraguay conspirators. Deponent did not see this treaty, because he was not then on good terms with Washburn, having quarreled with him on account of pay for work done; and the estrangement lasted six weeks. After making up with Washburn, who was then living at Trinidad, in a house belonging to Madam Bedoya, deponent learned from him the terms of the treaty, about as follows: It promised success to the revolution; offered amnesty to all who had supported Lopez; gave the signers of the treaty the power to form a new government; insured the independence of Paraguay, within the limits fixed by the treaty of the 1st of May, 1865; promised to support the government for one year, and for a longer period on condition of paying the expenses of the war, estimated at 150,000,000 of patacones, (which Washburn considered very reasonable,) all to be secured by mortgage on public lands and maté groves; abolition of the yerba (native tea) monopoly, and tobacco monopoly; liberty of worship; establishment of three departments of government; regulation of taxes and the tariff; and a provision for making the treaty permanent.
Deponent has said nothing about this secret treaty previously, for the following reasons: First. Because he knew nothing of it, except from hearsay, on account of his quarrel with Washburn. Second. Hearing of the dishonesty of the allies, and of the double alliance, he considered the treaty a fiction that would never amount to anything. Third. For regard for Doctor Carreras and the other signers, who confessed their other misdeeds, but said nothing of this. Fourth. Because he considered the acceptance of such powers by Washburn as the darkest stain upon his character, as a minister of a neutral power, of which he is a bastard specimen, and he wished to keep secret this, the most infamous of Washburn’s many crimes, till he could make the most of it. Fifth. Because he intended to inform Washburn’s government of his conduct, if he ever got back to the United States, and he wished to nurse his wrath for consummate revenge.
Deponent thinks the treaty was signed at the country seat at Trinidad, in duplicate, one copy being sent to Caxias and the other kept by Washburn till he destroyed it on the night of the 23d–24th July, as already stated.
Deponent thinks Washburn had full powers from the Brazilian and Argentine governments, and Dr. Carreras had powers from the Oriental Republic, and a consulting [Page 718] vote for the Argentine government. Deponent is sure that Benigno Lopez gave Washburn, when he visited Caxias in March, 1867, a paper with pencil marks of the plan of operations to be pursued against Paraguay, which Washburn took to Caxias and explained to him, but which he could not execute for want of troops. During this visit Washburn also corrected a plan of the Paraguay encampment, drawn by a Polish engineer in the employ of the allies; he also brought back a letter from Caxias to Benigno Lopez, containing plans for the future adjustment of peace, which were identical with those in the secret treaty made afterwards.
Although deponent confesses to have taken part in some of the schemes of the revolution, he was shocked to see Washburn accept powers from Brazil, and did not hesitate to tell him how disgraceful it was, and what a shame it was to his government. Washburn’s reply was, he had done it as a private individual, and not as American minister. To which deponent answered: “And when the devil gets the soul of the private individual, where will the minister’s soul be?” Washburn could find no fit replication to this, and he kept silent.
Carreras told deponent he was one of the signers of the treaty, but he had not much confidence in the allies or anything they said.
Deponent had some conversation with Mr. Libertat, chancellor of the French consulate, but never visited him at his house. Libertat was one of the eleven signers to the secret pact of Salinares, and deponent has talked to him in general terms about the revolution, but cannot remember what was said.
On the 4th November the deposition was as follows: Washburn told deponent that at the time of his arrival at Rio Janeiro, in 1865, the leaders of the imperial government there made no secret of their intentions, in case of success in the war against Paraguay. He said Paranhos, Saraivy, Octaviano, Zacarias, and even the Emperor, confessed the intention to annex all the territory on the left banks of the Plata, Parana, and Paraguay rivers to Brazil.
Washburn believes another war will break out, after the conclusion of the present one, between the Argentine Republic and Brazil, about the division of spoils; and he expressed as much in his note to Caxias, in reply to the one mentioning the secret treaty.
Washburn’s words were about as follows:
“Alliances or offensive coalitions between three or more powers are generally ephemeral and transitory, as seen in the many coalitions of William III of England against Louis XIV of France, and the no less numerous ones against Napoleon I, hardly one of which lasted more than a year. It is strange, and almost a miracle, that the present “triple alliance” has lasted over three years, and that apparent cordiality still exists among the contracting powers. You inform me how things are going on in relation to the Oriental Republic, and I need no hints to conceive the secret intentions of Brazil in reference to the Argentine Republic. Your excellency may rest assured that, whatever may happen, my gratitude to the imperial government for its confidence and distinguished favors (alluding to the full powers he had received) will be reasons sufficient to make me wish it all possible success, and give it all the advantages of my official position.”
The Emperor Napoleon III has a mortgage on that vast region of Brazil north of the Amazon, and has done all he could to get a prince of his house on a throne of South America. His original idea was to extend his colony of Cayenne by annexing to it British and Dutch Guiana, to be acquired by purchase, and then add the Brazilian territory mentioned, so as to form an empire or kingdom almost as large as Mexico. In case Brazil chose to pay off the mortgage, he proposed to erect a kingdom on the Plata, containing all the territory east of the Plata, Paraguay and Parana rivers, or composed of Paraguay, Mato Grosso, and Eastern Bolivia; and as inducement, he proposed to marry the new monarch to a princess of the house of Braganza.
This proposition did not meet with much favor in Brazil because the nobility there preferred annexing the conquered territory to Brazil; or in case of a new empire, they wanted one of their own princes or princesses to occupy the throne, proposing the Count d’Eu, or the Duke of Sax, with his wife, the second daughter of the house of Brazil.
In his conferences with the statesmen above mentioned, Washburn rejected the French proposition, on account of the Monroe doctrine professed by the North American government, not to permit the erection of any throne on the American continent, or at least no throne for a European prince. For the same reason he opposed the founding of a throne for a prince of Brazil, because Napoleon would not allow any of the Bourbon family on a new throne in Europe.
The dominant idea at Rio Janeiro was to annex Paraguay, or a portion of it, directly to Brazil, as a province. It was insisted that such was the traditional policy of the empire, and that Paraguay ought to belong to Brazil by right of conquest, and as a necessary indemnity for the expenses of the war. The objection to this was that to admit Paraguayans to a full enjoyment of all rights and privileges as Brazilian citizens would be treating a conquered race with too much leniency, when they ought to [Page 719] be made to suffer for obstinate resistance, and to be deprived of any vote or interest in their home government.
Those opposed to the erection of Paraguay into a kingdom said such a measure would encourage the dismemberment of the empire; and Counsellor Paranhos, senator from the province of Mato Grosso, was accused of not being very orthodox in regard to the integrity of the empire.
Others proposed a temporary state for the second princess and her husband the Duke of Sax, to prevent them from disturbing the quiet of the present empire.
Washburn proposed to make Paraguay a colony, directly dependent on the imperial crown, to be governed by regents appointed by Brazil. He said this would be in harmony with its present system of government, and would be well suited for such a backward country as Paraguay, where the chief offices are now held by foreigners, and it did not matter whether the Count d’Eu or any other person held the title of viceroy or governor general. Ever since the Paraguayan expedition, Count d’Eu had wanted to be commander-in-chief of the Brazilian army in Paraguay, no doubt with the ultimate intention of becoming governor; but he did not insist on the position, for fear of exciting the suspicion of the allies; yet he still aspired to the same place.
Washburn suggested some of the Paraguay leaders, but their ideas were for independence, and Count d’Eu would make them as good a ruler as they deserved.
Deponent knows that when the new issue of paper money was made in October last, the committee summoned Washburn to a conference to determine if it would not be well to retain most of the new currency for themselves, and thus prevent Lopez from getting hold of it, for the purpose of continuing the prosecution of the war. It was considered whether it would not be well to send most of the paper issue out of the country to Marquis Caxias, with the understanding that it was to be received by the Brazilian government at a fixed rate. In fact, the proposal was subsequently carried out by the agency of Washburn, who carried large quantities of the new paper money to Caxias, as well as, ounces of gold and other valuables. Deponent does not know how much was sent, nor in what way; but he is certain it was done more than once.
Most of this money was intended as a present to Caxias, or rather as a bribe to favor the Paraguayans engaged in the rebellion, and to engage him to aid them.
Deponent knows that Washburn had Caxias’s promise of many thousand ounces for the part he was to take in the conspiracy, but Washburn never told him exactly how much he was to get.
Deponent knows that about the middle of last year the leaders of the conspiracy conceived great hopes of large profits from the contribution of jewelry and plate by the fair sex of the nation, and were much disappointed when Lopez determined to take only the twentieth part of what was offered. Yet, as the collection of this twentieth would be confided to the treasury department, the chiefs of committees would get their share by entering in their books only a portion of what they collected, and by persuading the givers not to limit themselves to a twentieth.
Speaking of the gold and paper money sent to Caxias, to make him hurry up with the promised aid, Washburn said to deponent, that if that was the idea of the revolutionists, they would be greatly disappointed, for Caxias knew how to take care of number one, and would delay operations, just to get more money out of them, on the principle of not killing the hen that laid golden eggs.
Washburn rejoiced to see this money sent away, because it would deprive Lopez of means to continue the war, and in case he fled the country, he would find the coffers of the treasury empty. And he used to laugh at the poverty of the new government to be erected when the allies triumphed, at not finding a cent in the treasury, nor anywhere else; they would have to sell the whole country to pay the war debt; and he compared the poor people to the Hebrews in Egypt, that were ordered to make bricks when they had no straw to make them with; said the beggars would be richer than the nation; and then he would illustrate by pertinent anecdotes, as was his custom.
Washburn said the excuse Caxias gave the leaders of the revolution for not aiding them, according to promise, by sending his fleet above Humaita, was his fear of torpedoes, of which the Brazilians had a mortal dread, and Washburn could not convince Caxias that his fear of torpedoes was unfounded and ridiculous.
When the minister of foreign relations here told Washburn he was afraid Masterman and deponent would escape from the American legation and go over to the enemy, he promised to keep them in a secure place till he could send them to Washington, and actually confined them to one room, where they were under a kind of arrest, with a promise not to come out for twenty days, when the affair would be forgotten.
On the 9th day of November, as a first act of ratification, deponent said: That all the foregoing declarations he had heard read are the same he made in respect to truth and in answer to questions put to him in reference to his participation in the infamous conspiracy against the country and government of the republic, all he did in favor of the revolution, and all he knew about the iniquitous combinations to overthrow it; that he has nothing to contradict, but has much else to say, that he did not remember before, viz:
Deponent declares that as early as 1864, the imperial government kept a secret agent [Page 720] or spy in Corrientes, named Machado, who was favored in every way by the government there, in compliance with Mitre’s orders; and this he learned from Machado himself, who was an acquaintance of his, and from the governor, Lagrana, to whom deponent was presented by Machado, in the year 1865, when in Corrientes, on his way to this republic.
In the last voyage of the steamer Marquis Olinda from Montevideo to Corrientes, in November, 1864, the ex-president of the Argentine confederation, Santiago Derqui, came a passenger. After the battle of Pavon, he had lived a refugee in Montevideo, and Mitre now let him come back to Corrientes, to act as a secret agent in the war against Paraguay. He did act as such, and when Paunero came up with the Brazilian squadron to attack the city of Corrientes, on the 25th of May, 1865, he landed at the Derqui villa, where he got information preparatory to his attack on Corrientes. Another branch of Derqui’s business was to stop all communication between General Urquiza and President Lopez, for which he was peculiarly fitted, because he had been the friend of both parties, and because of his central position in Corrientes.
During Washburn’s six months’ stay in Corrientes he bought many thousand dollars of Paraguay paper money at a great discount, and when he reached Asuncion he sold it at a premium, thus making large profits in the speculation. This money had been left in Corrientes when the Paraguay army evacuated that city, and of course it was worth little at the time Washburn was there. He was also in the habit of purchasing bills of exchange on Rio Janeiro and Buenos Ayres, and making immense profits by their sale, thus speculating on the necessities of the people. When he came up to Paraguay he brought a cargo of groceries, not for his personal use, but to sell at an exorbitant price to the needy who had the money to pay for them
Washburn also put into his pocket the half of seven and odd thousand dollars, which he recovered from the Paraguay government for a German Jew, named Luis Yager, who pretended to be an American citizen, for damages done him by the army while he was at Bellayista.
Washburn witnessed the attack on the bank of Ytapiru, on the 10th of April, from a steamer belonging to the well-known Santiago Caustan; he knew beforehand that Lieutenant Romero was going to make the attack. A few days after the battle of the 2d of May, Washburn was at Mitre’s headquarters, attending the examination of two Paraguay deserters, old acquaintances of his, named Bernardo Recalde and Manuel Alonzo or Decoud, from whom he expected to get important information for Mitre.
Washburn began to show hostility to the government of Paraguay soon after his second arrival there, and he found a worthy colleague in the person of Cochelet, the French consul, who was less disguised than Washburn in his hatred for Lopez.
The great opposition of the foreign residents of Asuncion to the celebration of independence day, the 25th of December, 1866, was due to the influence of Washburn and Cochelet upon that portion of the population.
When Washburn visited Caxias, in March, 1867, he found him troubled by ridiculous rumors about the great help that Paraguay expected from Bolivia, Rio Janeiro, and Buenos Ayres newspapers; said Lopez had employed two or three thousand men to open a road to Bolivia over the Chaco plains; that Dr. Carreras had been to Bolivia two or three times as agent of the Paraguay government; that a Bolivian minister had arrived at Asuncion, where he was received with banquets and illumination; and finally, that besides sending a quantity of ammunition, Bolivia was ready to throw itself into the arms of Paraguay.
Washburn confirmed the report about arms, so as to excite Caxias against Bolivia; and he did swear to divide that republic between Brazil and the Argentine Republic, after the conquest.
On that same occasion Caxias gave Washburn to understand that the Spanish government had been for years united with the imperial government in hostility to the republics of the Pacific; that Brazil sympathized with Spain in her present war against them, and it would be very easy for Brazil and Spain to make common cause against their mutual enemies in South America.
It was at this visit, too, that Washburn interceded with Caxias for his friend, Dr. Carreras, asking his life and property to be spared, and promising his aid in the projected revolution.
At Caxias’s camp Washburn met Captain Watson, secretary of the British legation at Buenos Ayres, and formed an intrigue with him to try to influence the diplomatic body in that city, by means of letters and false reports of the state of affairs in Paraguay, sent verbally by Watson.
Deponent was to have attended Washburn on that trip, as secretary or interpreter, for Washburn had invited him to go, and leave had already been obtained from the proper source; but Washburn embarked hastily, without saying a word to deponent, and left him greatly disappointed. Washburn never explained to deponent the cause of this strange conduct, but he supposes that Benigno Lopez, or somebody else whom he consulted, advised him not to take deponent along, as it might be dangerous to trust him with such important secrets.[Page 721]
In his dispatches to his own government, Washburn said nothing of his complicity in the revolution, but tried to influence his government against the cause of Paraguay, not saying he knew anything of a conspiracy, but hinting there might be such a thing. It is well known that Washburn and Cochelet had full knowledge of the conspiracy, and took part in all that was done, up to the time of Cochelet’s departure; and that Washburn favored the object of the meeting at Salinares, and did all he could for it; thus he may be considered an accomplice in that pact, just as much as if he had signed the document.
During his second residence in Paraguay, Washburn wrote a book, or more properly a libel, entitled “History of Paraguay,” the material of which was taken mostly from books and pamphlets published by the enemy since the commencement of the present war; particularly from certain pamphlets written by Hopkins, Manuel Pedro de Peña, and Luciano Recalde. All he says about Paraguay proper he got from deponent’s historical manuscripts. Deponent also furnished him with private data, which Washburn did not make proper use of, for he could not distinguish what was of real value from what was mere tradition; therefore deponent denounces and repudiates the use Washburn made of his materials, as they were used for a purpose entirely contrary to that which deponent intended to use them for.
The book is chiefly composed of anecdotes, witticisms, and jokes, collected by Washburn from all quarters of the globe, to serve as illuminations to his apocryphal history. In it he represents the inhabitants of Paraguay as a hybrid and semi-savage race, inheriting all the bad qualities of their progenitors, the Spaniards and Indians, without any of the good qualities of those original races. He expresses the opinion that the Paraguay race is destined to extinction, and deserves that fate for its abject humility and hypocritical adulation of the most infamous tyrant of ancient or modern history.
For instance, to cover Marshal Lopez with scorn and vituperation, he begins by an attack blasphemous, impious, and violent in its language, upon St. Francis of Salos, because the marshal bears the name of that saint; and notwithstanding the great favors he received from the marshal’s mother, he insinuates in his book that she stole the jewels belonging to the Virgin of Miracles, at Caacupe.
He made infinite fun of Lopez’s campaign in Corrientes, in 1846, and ridiculed his mission to Europe, his mediation in the Plata, and everything he did up to the time he was made President, which he says was effected by force, and not by voluntary votes. He says Lopez’s government is not different from that of the dictator Francia; or if there is any difference, Lopez’s is worse, his will being the supreme law of the land. He declares Lopez’s intention was to crown himself Emperor if he succeeded in this war; that his unbounded ambition was the sole cause of the war; and that his cunning and duplicity are equal to his treachery and cowardice; for he never exposed himself to personal danger. With surprising inconsistency, Washburn expressed similar opinions of the allies, thus making himself an Ishmael of modern times, who turns his pen impartially against his pretended friends as well as against his enemies; and he was right when he said no country in South America would receive him after the publication of his book.
He even calumniated and villified his confederates, the Emperor, Mitre, Caxias, Polidoro, Tamandaré, and Ignacio, accusing the leaders of the allies, particularly Caxias, Tamandaré, and Ignacio, as being cowards, unfit to command. He rejoiced to ridicule the agonizing situation of Brazil, illustrating it by his vulgar jests and anecdotes, and exulted in its exhaustion of men, money, and credit. He insisted that there was a strong republican party in Brazil; and dwelling upon the immense extent of the empire, the want of union between its distant provinces, and the great evil of slavery, he prophesied a sudden dissolution of Brazil, and its reconstruction into several republics; and this probability, he said, was admitted by Caxias himself.
In one of his letters to Caxias, Washburn broaches the grand question: What is to be done with Lopez after he is caught? and he answers it himself: Let him be delivered up to the tender mercies of his own people. He then suggests the formation of a tribunal of inquiry, or what was anciently called a high court of impeachment, to investigate all the acts of Lopez’s administration; the record of this, he said, would fill more than one hundred reams of stamped paper, filled with the testimony of his victims; for there was not a family in the republic that did not wear mourning through his crimes, and every living member of them would cry for vengeance against the author of their misfortunes and calamities. In this manner, he said, justice would be satisfied, and the allies would save themselves the compunction and opprobrium that would certainly persecute them if they repeated the sanguinary drama of Paisandu.
At sunset, on the evening of the 23d of July, Washburn got a note from the ministry of foreign affairs, asking for Berges’s papers. He immediately hunted up hiding places for his treasonable documents, and finished by consigning many of them to the flames, as the safest place for them. He performed a good joke by putting some he wanted to keep in a demijohn of brandy, to be preserved in spirits, until he could get away from the accursed country. But he needed the liquor so much, he drank it, though it smelt [Page 722] and tasted strongly of treason, and then broke the bottom of the demijohn and extracted the papers, safe and sound, and in a good state of preservation.
In addition to what deponent said about Washburn’s intrigues with Caxias, on the arrival of the Wasp, he says that Washburn wrote three letters to Kirkland; each one different in tenor from the others. He sent the first from San Fernando to Caxias. In it he did not say whether it was his intention to quit the country or to stay; but he refused to go overland through the enemy’s lines. This was a mere dilatory process on the part of Washburn.
After his returning from San Fernando, Washburn and Caxias were anxious for the Wasp to come up, as they feared the conspiracy was about to be discovered. When he got the second note from Kirkland announcing Caxias’s new proposal to send a Brazilian steamer to the port of Tacuaras, Washburn wrote him a furious answer, accusing him of stupidity, ordering him to inform Caxias of his intention, and to come up the river immediately, cost what it might.
Washburn sent that letter without consulting anybody about it; but when he found Carreras, Rodriguez, and deponent opposed to its tenor, believing it would do more harm than good, he regretted that he had written it.
After some dispatches exchanged by telegraph with the French consul and Colonel Caminos, Washburn recovered courage, and believing his relations with the Paraguayan government in a better condition than he had supposed, he declined leaving the country immediately. Then revoking his former letter that had not gone from San Fernando, he wrote another ordering Commander Kirkland to go back to Buenos Ayres, pretending a disagreement with Caxias as a pretext, and to return in a couple of months, by which time he hoped the revolution would take place, if Caxias lent the promised aid.
In reference to the proposed proclamation arranged between Caxias and Berges, to to be issued on the day the revolution broke out, as before mentioned, deponent has to add, that the idea of promulgating it was abandoned. The three allied governments had already acknowledged the new revolutionary government as the real expression of the national will, and as such it had been admitted by formal treaty to the rank of a fourth power in a new alliance, and to show their generosity the allies had insured the independence and self-government of the republic, within certain limits, and had modified the more onerous conditions of the secret treaty of May.
Washburn did not inform his government of his complicity in the revolution, but he tried to prejudice it against Lopez, in this manner: He said the sufferings of the nnhappy people of Paraguay had been so varied and severe, that they had been agonized by the three greatest plagues that humanity can bear, namely—war, pestilence, and famine—all of which had been inflicted upon them by Lopez, with the additional suffering under the yoke of the most terrible despotism that the subjects of a tyrant were ever known to endure; that it would be a miracle of patience if the long-suffering people did not wish an end of the war, no matter how effected, and he would not be surprised if some of the more daring spirits took the business into their hands. And he added, that, although he did not know positively, for he was neutral, yet he had good reasons to believe that persons composing the present government, that is, the public functionaries, would desire nothing better than to get rid of Marshal Lopez. He was astonished that this had not been attempted long ago, by a revolution, for it is well known that revolutions of that kind are as common as the new moons in all the South American republics. To illustrate this assertion, there is the Argentine province of Rioja that has had no less than seventeen governors in two years, all of them put up or down by revolutions.
About the beginning of this year deponent made out an annotated catalogue of persons decorated with the order of merit, with a specification of the five grades into which it is distributed. This work was done for Washburn. The list had marginal blanks for the insertion of remarks concerning the good or bad luck of the bearers since the reception of the honor.
The purpose of this list was to demonstrate, as Washburn thought, that three-fourths of the military men so decorated were not living; and of the civilians, almost all of them had fallen into disfavor with the marshal, and no doubt all of them wished the enemy success.
Deponent thinks a copy of this list was sent by Washburn in April last to his government, to prepare it for the revolution that would certainly take place. He also is certain a copy was sent to Caxias before that date, though he cannot say exactly when.
The second examination for ratification resulted as follows:
On the 8th day of December, 1868, the accused, Porter Cornelius Bliss, was summoned to appear before the judges and notary in presence of J. M. Ramsay, and W. A. Kirkland, deputized by Rear-Admiral C. H. Davis of the American squadron, and took a solemn oath to speak the truth to all questions put to him in the present examination. His former depositions were then read to him, and he was asked if he acknowledged them and the signatures at the bottom, if they were his; and he replied that he [Page 723] acknowledged the depositions as the same that had been taken down from his dictation, and the handwriting as that which he always uses in signing his name in Spanish.
He was also asked if he affirmed and ratified these declarations under the solemn oath he had taken, and if he had anything to take from or add to them; and he answered that he confirmed and ratified them, and had nothing to add to or take from them, further than what had been already done.
All of which having been read in presence of Mr. Ramsay and Mr. Kirkland, they signed as witnesses with the judges in the case, and the accused, who ratified his declarations before me, the notary.
Officers on board the American Gunboat Wasp.