Mr. Pruyn to Mr. Seward.
Sir: I have the honor to report to you that the ninety-third anniversary of our national independence was duly celebrated and respected in this capital.
The flags of the various foreign nations represented here were displayed from their respective legations; also that of Venezuela from the government mansion.
Mr. Villégas, the minister of foreign affairs in charge of the executive power, and also the secretary, Mr. Seijas, together with the diplomatic and consular corps, called on the legation, and the American citizens generally here also paid their respects.
Late on the afternoon of the 4th instant I received a communication from the minister of foreign affairs, informing me that the executive would receive on the 5th instant, that being the anniversary of Venezuelan independence. A translation of the communication above referred to will be found in inclosure No. 1.
On the morning of the 5th, in company with General David M. Talmage, United States commissioner, and one or two other American citizens of distinction, I called at the government mansion, where I found the whole cabinet, presided over by Mr. Villégas, the acting executive, receiving in the grand saloon. I paid my respects to the government in the following terms:
Mr. President: In felicitating the government and people of Venezuela, in the name of the government and people of the United States, on this great and joyous anniversary of Venezuelan independence, permit me to observe that this day, however [Page 951] precious to the people of this nation, and also to those of mine, has a far higher and more solemn import as being an anniversary, and one of most glorious, of the triumph of repulican principles.
The capacity of the masses for self-government has been proved by the terrible Ordeal of civil war in my own country, and also in yours, Mr. President. In both the result has been equally a triumph of liberal principles. And in the formation of this government, of which you, sir, are the distinguished head, the great doctrine of popular rights has been vindicated, and liberty and justice have been established here on a sure and enduring basis.
I need not tell you, Mr. President, that republican principles are slowly but surely, with irresistible force, spreading over the whole civilized world. The governments of Europe, while still preserving the name and appearance of monarchies, are rapidly becoming subservient to the will of the people, which they no longer dare resist. The great reforms in England, the consolidation of the German and Italian nations, and many other events, apparent to all, conclusively prove this.
Although republican doctrines may be found in the writings of extreme antiquity, yet, sir, before the advent of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, but little regard was paid by the powerful few to the rights and needs of the suffering masses of humanity.
The sublime example and teachings of our Lord have so purified and inspired the human heart that all men, worthy of the name of men, strive and pray that just and liberal governments may be everywhere established. “Give us,” said the immortal Lincoln, “a government of the people, for the people, and by the people, in which all shall have equal rights, without distinction of race or color.”
We, Mr. President, may soon pass away from this life, our nations and even our race may perish in the course of events; but, sir, the republican principles of equal rights and popular government, which we profess, will endure as long as human society shall exist, and the Christian religion prevail among men. Permit me, sir, to offer to you and your government the assurances of my most distinguished consideration.
Mr. Villégas replied briefly, in suitable and dignified terms, after which the interview terminated.
Later in the day the legation called on the surviving heroes who fought and bled for Venezuelan independence, Generals Monagas, Soublete, and Blanco, and also on the family of General Paez. This compliment was highly appreciated by them, and handsomely acknowledged by the public press.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.