Mr. Stilwell to Mr. Seward.

No. 11.]

Sir: Since my dispatch of the 26th of December the affairs of this government have become each day more gloomy and uncertain; the rebellion more formidable, and apparently with a much better show of success. The government without one dollar in its treasury, and with no credit whatever, seems less able to suppress the revolution than a month since. The oligarchists, as those are styled who formerly were the adherents and supporters of General Paez, and his administration, during his presidency, constitute about seven-eighths of the wealth and respectability of Venezuela, (and perhaps the proportion is much larger,) favor quietly and secretly the revolt against the government. The federalists—those who sustain the government—consist of those in office— those who think they are making money out of the patronage of the government, and perhaps the army.

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Early in January President Falcon broke up his family residence in Caracas, and sent his family and furniture to Coro, his residence at the time of his elevation to the presidency. This act of itself created great distrust in the minds of the federalists, as it was believed that he himself had lost confidence in his ability and power to sustain the government, and in the same ratio the oligarchists were inspired with new hopes and courage.

On the 12th of January President Falcon reorganized his cabinet. As this is done so often that it is almost impossible for the foreign representatives accredited to this government to tell who are and by what name to address the ministers of the different departments of the government, it is not thought that this act will give any additional weight or permanency to his administration. In fact, his new minister of finance, after having held his position for a few days, resigned on the 4th instant, for the reason, as it is stated, that it was impossible for him to attempt to discharge the duties of that office without money, without credit, and without any present available resources whatever, the government indebted to every one almost, who annoy him at all hours and at all places. His place has not yet been filled.

On the 16th of January President Falcon left Caracas, as it was said, to take command in person of the main body of the federal army, which is now at or near Valencia. Recent advices say he is at Port Cabello, and it is thought that he had no intention of taking command of his army, but that the announcement was a pretext to enable him to leave Caracas, and that he will remain at Port Cabello, where he keeps a war steamer, or in the vicinity, so that in the event of a failure to suppress the different factions which now threaten his government, he can escape without much risk to the Island Curaçoa. In the mean time General Miguel Gil, the Vice-President, is discharging the duties of President.

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Some time since the claims due French citizens were adjusted, and it was agreed upon the part of the government of Venezuela that seventeen per cent. of all import duties received at the port of La Guayra should be paid directly to the chargé d’affaires of France, each month, to be applied in payment of the amount heretofore adjusted. At a later period, some time in October last, the government made a forced loan, [Page 937] of one hundred and eighty thousand dollars, of some of its citizens in Caracas; and for the purpose of giving it the appearance of an honest transaction upon the part of the government, and a determination to refund the money with interest, the government agreed and pledged thirty per cent. of all moneys received at La Guayra for import duties, the same to be paid directly to the commissioners of said loan.

On the 19th of December last, again requiring more money, the government being absolutely bankrupt, its soldiers without rations for ten days and more, the clerks in the various departments unpaid, or only partially paid, for months, forced another loan for two hundred and twenty thousand dollars of the merchants and business men of Caracas, pledging the faith of the government that thirty per cent, of all the import duties received at the port of La Guayra should be paid to the commissioners of the loan to secure the payments of this loan, and interest as in the former case. Soon after this loan had been made, and on the 2d day of January, 1868, the government issued a public order, or proclamation, directed to the collector of customs at La Guayra, reciting the fact of its promises, pledges, and assignment, of the three several sums, for the purposes before indicated, and instructing him to pay over from time to time such sums as might accrue under these several pledges and agreements to the persons authorized to receive the same, and yet within a few days thereafter secretly issued an order to the same collector of customs to furnish no statements to any one of the amount received for import duties. The result has been, that the collector refuses to furnish any statement of amount of money received for import duties, or to pay over the amount which the government had pledged. The government, on the other hand, refers the parties in interest to their published proclamation and the collector; while the fact is apparent to every one that the government is daily using the entire receipts of customs without regard to any promise or pledge.

This transaction is only in keeping with all of their public promises and business engagements.

The results of all such double dealing have been, that government securities could not be negotiated at ten cents on the dollar; those having money are sending it to England or France to get it out of the way of the government. Business of every kind is prostrated. The bank of London and Venezuela, and the only one in Caracas, discontinued business and closed its doors on the 1st instant, as the business of the country had so fallen off as to render it impossible to sustain even one bank in Venezuela profitably. More than one-half the improved lands of Venezuela unfilled and lying waste; for as long as this rebellion lasts, no one is safe in attempting to cultivate the lands in the interior; then, again, were it safe in other respects, it is impossible to procure labor, as all the farm-laborers of the country, almost without any exception, have been impressed into the army.

I have said nothing as yet about the movements of the army. It is a matter that is almost impossible to tell anything about; the government suppresses everything. It is said they are fighting at some distance from Valencia, and that several fights have taken place in Aragua and Carabobo, with what result is not known, or the number of men engaged.

I had intended and had commenced a dispatch upon the financial condition of Venezuela; but as an official report is being prepared to present to congress, which convenes on the 20th of this month, I have delayed my dispatch upon that subject, for the reason that nearly all my facts and figures would have to be taken from the official reports of last year, and would not be so correct as if delayed until after the meeting of congress.

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[Page 938]

The mails for this legation I find the department forward by the Dallet line only. This makes the receipt of our letters very irregular, as the Dallet line does not pretend, as I am informed by their agent here, to run with the same regularity as formerly. We would receive our mails much quicker, and much more regularly, if forwarded by the Brazilian line of steamers from New York to Saint Thomas, in closed bags, to the care of the United States consul, by him to be forwarded; and if not too much trouble, it would be much more satisfactory to receive our mails by both lines when their days of sailing are not too near together. We have had but one mail since the 6th of December. I respectfully call your attention to this matter, trusting entirely to your judgment in the matter.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


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

This evening, and before mailing the foregoing dispatch, I am advised by the honorable Rafael Seijas, secretary of foreign affairs, that the honorable Jacinto Gutierrez, minister of foreign affairs, had during the afternoon of to-day tendered his resignation. I did not learn that he assigned any reason for his resignation.

I have just learned that the honorable Manuel Murillo, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary from Colombia to Venezuela, had arrived during the afternoon at La Guayra from Saint Thomas, on the yacht Galgo.

Yours, &c.,