Mr. Hovey to Mr. Seward.

No. 109.]

Sir: President Prado returned on the night of the 4th instant from the siege of Arequipa, with a shattered and repulsed army, amounting to about fifteen hundred men. The battle was fought on the 27th of December, and is said to have failed in consequence of the desertion of an entire regiment under the command of Colonel Ortiz, the companion in arms and sworn friend of the President. Ortiz’s regiment charged with the butts of their guns in the air, and were received with acclamations by the army of the rebellion. Prado’s loss will probably amount to fifteen hundred men, killed and wounded.

The causes which led to this revolution may be properly attributed to two sources: 1. The Congress which was convened by Prado for the purpose of forming a new constitution had no sooner met than they passed a resolution resolving that all power was centered in themselves, thus becoming one hundred and one dictators. The whole course of congressional action was a steady, unwavering effort to break the power of the President, and cause the people to lose confidence in his administration. 2. The church party, aided by the women, who control no small part of the political power in Peru, determined to destroy him, because they well knew that he entertained principles in favor of toleration and progress.

In this view many fanatical movements were made in the cities, with the intent of poisoning the public mind against him.

On his return from Arequipa, a spirit of insubordination could easily be perceived throughout the city. This feeling increased until the morning of the 5th, when the President rode through the city, meeting in every part with hisses and cries of disapprobation. He had scarcely returned to his house, which is in front of this legation, when sharp firing was heard in the streets, the people having seized four small cannon at the railway depot, which were being sent to Callao. The firing continued all day and through the night, with mobs passing through the streets, committing many acts of outrage. During the day the majority of the President’s troops deserted him, passing over with their arms to the opposite party, and at the close of the encounter the revolutionary party was almost everywhere successful. The casualties are stated at sixty-eight killed and two or three hundred wounded.

On the 6th, the President being advised that the troops would no longer support him, and seeing that further efforts towards the maintenance of his position were in vain, renounced in favor of General La Puerta, (see inclosure No. 1.) The President’s family, living in front of my house, to avoid threatened danger from the mob, took temporary asylum in my legation. Here he remained until the night of the 7th, when he left, and subsequently took refuge on board of the United States steamer Nyack. There was no demand of any kind made for his apprehension. In fact, some of the new officials aided him in going on board of the vessel, and he sailed for Chili, on the Nyack, on the 11th instants.

On the 10th I received a note from General Francisco Diez Canseco, brother of the actual leader of the revolution, in which he claims to be political and military chief of the departments of the center, a copy of which, with translation, and my reply thereto, are herewith transmitted, (see inclosure No. 2.)

As indicated in my note to the general, I shall await the commands of the government of the United States before I acknowledge any government de facto.

[Page 842]

In General Pedro Diez Canseco’s proclamation, published on the 8th in the Peruano, a copy of which, with translation, is transmitted, (see inclosure No. 3,) I deem it important to call your attention to the fact that all acts of the Prado administration, public and private, are declared null and void. This decree, if carried into execution, will have the effect to nullify the declaration of war against Spain, to restore the treaty made by ex-President Pezet with that nation, and to destroy the treaties of alliance made between Chili, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru, besides nullifying all contracts made with citizens and foreigners by Prado’s government.

It would be difficult to form any opinion as to the future. But from the contentions now raging between the chiefs of the successful revolution, Balto, Canseco, and Zevallos, the probabilities are that there will be but little peace for months to come in Peru. I am strongly impressed with the belief that Prado will return to control this country in less than one year from the present date.

The finances of the country are exhausted and wasted by these civil dissensions, and the people look to the government for their daily bread. The official “outs” fully equal those who hold positions under the powers that be; and the mongrel negro, mulatto, cholo, and Indian population care not who rule so that they can have a little money and a little excitement.

To hope for republican institutions being sustained by such a people is to hope in vain. Add to this the interest of the church here, which is to destroy all civil power and erect in its stead a reign of intolerance and bigotry, and you have a fair prospect of the future. Such being the status, and the clergy being by far the most powerful, numerous, and influential class in the country, the future of Peru seems to me to be extremely dark. There are many men struggling for progress and liberty, but as yet their efforts have been unavailing. Among this number may be classed Padre Vijil, Mariatequi, Prado, Quimper, Pacheco, and a large part of the foreign population, but as yet, I regret to say, that the seed has fallen on stony ground. Notwithstanding these views, I do all I can to add to the impression here that this is really a free country and government. To be so in name only is for us far better than to have a despotic government established in Peru.

I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.



Excellency: The fate of arms not having been favorable to my cause, and for that reason the civil war having increased in its proportions, I desire to separate myself from the political scene of contest, believing that my person is one of the pretexts for which the republic is suffering so greatly.

I therefore resign the presidency of the republic, and I am ready to leave the country, if this be necessary for the establishment of peace and order.

Therefore your excellency will have the goodness to proceed in the manner most conducive to this object.

God guard your excellency.


General Luis La Puerta, Encharged with the Presidency of Peru.

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Excellency: I have had the honor to receive the note of to-day, in which your excellency resigns the presidency in order to remove one of the pretexts of the civil war.

This abnegation is worthy of your excellency’s noble character, but I was but encharged with supreme power during your excellency’s absence on military duty in the south, and since your excellency’s return I have ceased exercising that function. Moreover, I am not empowered to accept the resignation of the President.

Far from continuing in the exercise of the executive power, I beg your excellency to designate the person to be appointed president of the council of ministers.

I have the honor to reiterate to your excellency the assurances of my most distinguished consideration.


His Excellency Colonel Mariano Ignacio Prado, Constitutional President of the Republic.


Señor Canseco to Mr. Hovey.


In consequence of the triumph obtained by the constitutional cause at Arequipa, and the events which have lately taken place in this city and in Callao, his excellency General Pedro Diez Canseco governs the entire republic, in accordance with the constitution of 1860.

The circumstance of his excellency’s absence, and my desire to inform your excellency of the sentiments which are held by the new administration, give me the honor of acquainting you with the fact that I am authorized by the President to govern the central departments of the republic, with the character of political and military chief of the same. Therefore, I assure your excellency that the government which I have the honor to represent will cultivate and strengthen the kind feelings fortunately existing between my country and that so worthily represented by your excellency.

I beg to assure your excellency of that distinguished consideration with which I sign myself, your excellency’s obedient and attentive servant,


His Excellency General A. P. Hovey, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States.