Mr. Williams to Mr. Seward.

No. 39.]

Sir: The publication of the report of the minister of interior, finance and war, made to the legislative chambers in their recent session, places the aggregate of imports and exports of this republic, for the last fiscal year, at a larger figure than that given in my dispatch of November 6th last, (No. 34,) which was made up from the custom-house reports published in the Official Gazette. The difference in the two statements grows mainly out of an unexpected increase in the business of the frontier offices, which was estimated in the Gazette reports.

The minister’s report states as follows the aggregates of exports and imports:

Exports of products, 1867 $2,895,606 23
Imports of foreign goods, 1867 1,876,444 10
Excess of exports 1,019,162 13

This shows an increase of exports over 1886 of $460,804 73, and of imports, $232,099 59. The minister anticipates a yearly increase of the exportable products of the country from the fact that “in all the departments of the republic agriculture is assuming larger proportions, especially in the cultivation of coffee and sugar.” He looks also with confidence to the advantages which are to spring from the bank, recently chartered, for a most favorable influence upon new and useful enterprises.

In connection with this subject, I venture to make a brief reference to the official estimates of the revenues and expenditures for the current year, as not without interest in presenting the sources of the revenues, and the kind and extent of the expenditures, for a comparison with those of States of similar magnitude elsewhere, The minister estimates the revenues for the year at $744,123 68, and from the following sources:

From the custom-houses $381,419 18
From sales of aguadiente franchise, (privileges granted by districts to make and sell). 140,414 38
From export duty on indigo 39,168 68
From ramo de tajo, (excise on slaughtered animals) 22,597 86
From stamped paper, (used in all notarial documents and proceedings in courts) 19,329 14
From 4 per cent, and 5 per cent. tax on sales of real estate and certain personal property 18,137 57
From sales of powder and saltpeter, (a government monopoly) 18,321 70
From post office department 12,011 52
[Page 926]

Fines, debts due, rents and sales of real estate, and a few other small items, make up the total of the estimated revenues.

It will be observed that the revenues are derived almost wholly from the customs, or privileged monopolies. There is no direct tax on real or personal property, for State or municipal purposes. In some of the larger towns a small sum is collected upon each box or bale of imported goods, without regard to value, and for purposes not clearly defined.

But municipal assessments and taxes, and municipal governments, except as the creatures of the general or central government, seem not to be known. And in this connection with the subject of taxation, it may not be inappropriate to add, that for years in this republic the church has been deprived of the right, which still obtains in others of these republics, of collecting tithes and “first fruits” (diezmos y primicias) for ecclesiastical purposes. The church is now wholly supported by annual legislative appropriations, and by the customary fees and voluntary contributions.

The expenditures for the year are estimated at $713,382 50. The following are the principal items:

For legislative expenses $11,444 50
For executive expenses 19,976 00
For judicial expenses 35,480 00
For ecclesiastical expenses 15,000 00
For diplomatic expenses 20,000 00
For army expenses 200,000 00
For pensions 8,500 00
For primary education 22,000 00
For university 15,000 00
For department expenses, including eleven governors and their secretaries 15,180 00
For rural police, and town and fair guards 28,780 00
For roads, and other improvements 50,000 00
For existing contracts 50,000 00
For construction of government house 30,000 00
For subsidy to steamboats 12,000 00
For interest on public debt 42,000 00
For supplemental for last year 40,000 00
For hospitals 4,900 00
For government printing office 4,476 00
For purchase of powder 7,000 00
For unlooked for and extraordinary expenses of the government, for which “minister is to render a detailed account to the legislature” 20,000 00
For “ordinary or general expenses of administration” 13,000 00
For general post office, “besides other provisions of law” 4,480 00

The balance of the estimates are for salaries to general treasurers, special treasurer, judge of treasury, auditors, administration of powder, clerk-hire, and the like. The expenses of the three seaport customhouses, including salaries, are estimated at $14,600. It is a noticeable fact that the small “military force and rural guard” (not over eight hundred men) absorb quite one-third of all the estimated expenditures.

These statements lose their significance unless the fact is kept in mind that territorially the republic of Salvador is about the size of the State of New Hampshire, and that its estimated population (for in truth no reliable census has ever been taken) is six hundred thousand souls.

The inhabitants of aboriginal descent are sufficiently civilized to be [Page 927]pretty steady cultivators of small farms, and to an extent that is quite remarkable. In the larger part of the republic the traveler finds chacras, or thatched ranchos, thickly spread over the country, and not, as in most Spanish American countries, aggregated in towns and villages. The portion which is clearly an exception to this remark, is the comparatively small strip along the coast between the ports of La Libertad and Acajutta, known as the “Balsam Coast.” Here the natives live in a country of almost unbroken forest, and chiefly from the production of the balsam tree known to commerce as the balsam of Peru.

I shall venture in a future dispatch to continue this subject of population, soil, climate, and productions of this little republic, in spite of some apprehensions I feel of giving an undue importance to matters that the department may not care to be troubled with.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


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