Mr. Stilwell to Mr. Seward.
Sir: On the 17th day of April, and within two days after the date of my No. 27, the new cabinet resigned, assigning as a reason, that the acceptance of their several appointments was with the distinct understanding that congress were to proceed with their labors with a constitutional quorum. The indications being that such was not to be the fact, they surrendered their portfolios.
The same day the President promptly accepted their resignations, and the secretaries of the different ministers charged with their respective duties ad interim, until the formation of a new cabinet.
From the 17th until the 28th of April the condition and affairs of the government became each day worse, the rebels stronger and more aggressive in their movements on Caracas.
On the 28th President Falcon announced the formation of a new cabinet, it being understood and agreed, prior to its appointment, that one of their number should be elected first designado, a power given by the constitution to the cabinet in the event of the failure of congress to elect, and the person so elected to assume the duties of President; President Falcon agreeing to retire to Coro.
In accordance with this arrangement, on the 29th the new cabinet elected General M. E. Bruzual, the minister of war, first designado, who at once entered upon the discharge of the duties of the presidency, General Falcon leaving on the morning of the next day for Coro.
The rebels, as soon as the new order of things was announced, became more active, and from the 1st of May up to the morning of the 10th, skirmishes occurred almost daily between them and the government troops near Caracas. On the morning of the 6th, General Colin a, who was in command of the government forces, marched out of the city with about six hundred men, and gave the rebels battle at or near Las Ad-juntas, a place about nine miles, from Caracas. After a few hours’ fighting, he fell back to Caracas, the rebels claiming to be victors. The total loss to both sides is variously estimated at from two to four hundred. [Page 942] Other fights of not much moment occurred on the 7th, 8th, and 9th, the rebels each day approaching more nearly the city.
On the evening of the 9th the rebels, with about three hundred of their forces, came in and took a position on Mount Calvary, within the city of Caracas, apparently without opposition. On the morning of the 10th, soon after six o’clock a. m., the government troops engaged them in battle, which lasted from an hour to an hour and a half, the rebel troops eventually retiring. The loss was about two hundred killed and wounded. It is thought, and perhaps it is true, that General Miguel Antonio Rojas, the commander of the rebel forces, could have taken Caracas had he so desired, as but a small part of his forces was engaged. At all events, it became evident that the rebels would eventually succeed. The result of the fight of the 10th was, that, on Monday, negotiations were entered into by General Manuel E. Bruzual, upon the part of the government, and General Miguel Antonio Rojas, commander-in-chief of the rebel forces, (as he claimed, but in fact of only the revolutionary forces raised and operated in the western part of the republic, General José Tades Monagas, ex-president of the republic, at that time being in command of a revolutionary force which was moving on Caracas, equally as large and more thoroughly equipped and armed, raised in the States of Barcelona, New Andalusia, and Bolivar, being the eastern part of the republic,) which resulted in a “convention of peace” between the government and the revolutionary forces under the command of General Rojas. By the terms of this treaty, it was agreed that General Manuel E. Bruzual should continue to discharge the duties of President, and that General Miguel Antonio Rojas, chief of the reconquering army, (as he styled himself,) should be commander-in-chief of the armies of the western, central, and eastern States, in which revolutionary movements had taken place, the government pledging itself to a remission of all penalties for political offenses, a strict compliance with the constitution, the protection and complete liberty of the elective franchise, and the payment of all debts incurred by the revolution, without regard to which party may have contracted them: the rebels (the patriots as now styled) acknowledging the constitutionality of the present government, pledging the devotion of their army towards its maintenance, their best efforts towards the end of restoring peace, the establishment of constitutional liberty throughout the republic, and a full guarantee of the protection provided by law.
In accordance with this treaty, the rebel General Rojas at once assumed the command of the army of the republic, which was consolidated with the forces previously under his command.
Commissioners were appointed, and dispatched at once, to confer with General Monagas; others to visit the States lately in rebellion to induce them to accept and acquiesce in the treaty. While no definite advices have been received from these several commissioners, the indications now are that the revolution may be said to be over for the present, or at least so weakened in strength and numbers as not to be able to accomplish anything under those who aspire to be its leaders, and to control its movements.
General Manuel E. Bruzual, the President, is a son of Blas Bruzual, who, for several years, represented Venezuela near the government of the United States, a man of fair ability, said to have been an able general, and is reputed to be an honest man.
General Rojas is a man unknown to fame, probably never heard of out of his own immediate neighborhood until the late revolution gave him notoriety as a guerilla chieftain, a man without education, and apparently [Page 943] without ability; yet, it is said, he evinced great ability in the late revolution, and was much respected by his followers.
With no great faith in the permanency of any particular administration or treaty of the people of Venezuela, with whom revolution and rebellion against the established government have become chronic, it is to be hoped that the present convention of peace will lead to a more permanent result than those which have preceded it, and that Venezuela may yet be a land of constitutional liberty, of law, and of order; and that its people, instead of being impoverished by its continual revolutions and fratricidal warfare, may be rich in the possession of a good and stable government, wisely and honestly administered.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.