No. 267.
Mr. Nelson to Mr. Fish.

No. 640.]

Sir: Herewith I inclose the speeches pronounced by President Lerdo de Tejada, (A and B,) and by General Pedro Baranda, president of the Mexican Congress, (C and D),) on the 16th instant, on the occasion of the opening of the sessions of that body.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure B.—Translation.]

Address of President Lerdo de Tejada to the Mexican Congress.

opening of session of congress.

Citizen Deputies: Being designated by the constitution, I took temporary possession of the executive power on the 19th of July last.

An immense misfortune tore from us in a few moments the eminent citizen who for so many years gloriously presided over the nation’s destinies. It is unnecessary to eulogize the distinguished merits of the citizen Benito Juarez, or to enumerate his high services.

They are recorded in the most brilliant pages of our history, and are deeply engraved upon our hearts. A grateful nation proclaims them, and I doubt not that its worthy representatives will decree a title of enduring honor to the memory of the author of the reform, and will grant to his family a testimony of the esteem of the Mexican people.

When I took possession of the executive, I considered as the first of my duties that of promoting the election of a constitutional President. This having been decreed by the permanent deputation of Congress, will take place with full and absolute liberty, as is proper, in the solemn act in which the people exercise the most sacred of its rights.

The manifesto which I published on the 27th of July contains the principles which have served and will serve as my rule during the brief period of my administration. They consist merely in the fulfillment of my duties and in the faithful observance of the constitution and laws.

With the decree of amnesty the executive demonstrated his lively desire to see peace reestablished and his just anxiety to give all amplitude to electoral liberty. My satisfaction is great at being able to announce to Congress that peace is already a fact in the republic. Those who fought with arms in their hands have laid them down, recognizing the government, and there only remain a very few insurgents, in the remote States of Sinaloa and Chihuahua, whose speedy submission there are good reasons to expect.

In the strife, which lasted nearly a year, the army has rendered itself worthy of the esteem of the government and of public gratitude for its valor, its discipline, and its loyal decision in favor of our institutions.

The conduct of those citizens who at the call of the government have laid down their arms, restoring peace to their country, is also worthy of applause. These antecedents inspire a grateful hope that we may obtain the greatest of blessings in the union of all Mexicans.

Our relations with friendly powers are maintained in perfect harmony, the executive taking great pains to cultivate them. A representative has recently arrived from the republic of Guatemala, with whose government we are united by ties of sympathy on account of the liberal principles of its administration. Desiring to favor the reciprocal interests of the republic with other nations, the executive is animated by the perfect [Page 632] willingness to cultivate friendly relations with all countries which may desire to establish them upon just and convenient bases.

In the use of the faculties granted by Congress, the code of civil procedure has been published, and is now in force. That of criminal procedure will shortly be finished, as well as that of the mercantile code, so necessary for the development of commerce, the abundant fountain of progress and prosperity.

On account of the notorious importance of some of the projects of laws which the executive has presented to Congress, I recommend them to your enlightened consideration, especially the initiations concerning constitutional reforms, the improvement of the system of mortgages, colonization, and the general bases for railroad concessions.

As fast as the re-establishment of peace has permitted, martial law has been raised in several States, replacing in them their constitutional powers. The same step has been delayed only in those States which had no constitutional authorities of their own, or where an inevitable necessity of repressing elements hostile to peace and public order.

The executive has endeavored and will actively endeavor to effect the reductions of expenditure demanded by the condition of the treasury, and to improve, as far as possible, all the branches of the administration. He will especially attend to the strict fulfillment of the laws, thus developing those democratic principles which form the basis of our political organization.

Receive, citizen deputies, my congratulations upon seeing you again assembled, and the expression of my wish that with your patriotism and your wisdom you may in all things labor for the greater good and prosperity of the republic.

[Inclosure D.—Translation.]

Reply of the vice-president of Congress, Pedro Baranda, to the address of President Lerdo de Tejada.

Citizen President: The sixth constitutional Congress, on inaugurating its present period of ordinary sessions, considers its first duty, imposed by the justest gratitude, to consecrate a tribute to the memory of the illustrious citizen, President Benito Juarez, whose lamented death, which occurred during the late recess of the legislative chamber, has clothed the republic in mourning. This deplorable misfortune, which might have brought about a dangerous crisis were it not for the proved loyalty of the Mexican people, has dissipated all doubt as to the stability and solidity of our wise institutions, the succession to the first magistracy of the union having been effected quietly and peacefully in accordance with the 79th article of our fundamental code.

We ought to congratulate ourselves that the judicious choice of federal magistrates, made in 1867, designated for this contingency the worthy citizen whose eminent merits were closely connected with those of the illustrious leader who in days of terrible trial grasped the national standard to save the honor and maintain unscathed the independence of our country.

You have directed, citizen President, the first acts of your administration to the manifestation of your sense of the eminent services of that immaculate patriot. It was a praiseworthy task, which the representatives of the nation will second with equal zeal, honoring in some worthy manner the memory of the hero of the reform, and giving to this family proofs of the gratitude of the nation.

The call already issued for the election of the President of the republic will effect the regular and constitutional succession in the first magistracy of the union, installing therein the citizen who may be designated by the free and spontaneous will of the Mexican people.

The national assembly, on hearing you proclaim anew on this august spot the political dogma of the freedom of popular suffrage, could not but rejoice, for it firmly believes that liberty is the only basis upon which the grandeur and happiness of democratic nations can rest.

The decree of amnesty assures the ample exercise of the high right of suffrage, even to those citizens who combated the constituted powers, and has also consolidated the grand conquest of union and concord between Mexicans. The doors of fraternity are opened, and the good citizens who have entered through them, calming the terrible uproar of fratricidal strife, have also opened the doors to the happy future of the republic.

After a prolonged warfare we may congratulate ourselves that our institutions are maintained intact, affording well-founded hopes of their complete consolidation.

This immense boon is due, in great part, to the discipline and morale of the army, which has given undeniable proofs of adhesion to our constitutional system, and it is also attributable to the policy of conciliation which you have initiated by making a frank summons to the citizens who maintained that armed strife by whose happy conclusion peace has been assured. For the same flattering reason martial law has ceased [Page 633] in several States of the federation, and Congress will join its efforts to those of the executive to restore their sovereignty to the few States which now have no constitutional authorities, or wherein the necessity of suppressing the elements hostile to peace and to public order has hitherto prevented such restoration.

Congress also rejoices to learn the satisfactory condition of our diplomatic relations with friendly powers, and the care with which the executive proposes to cultivate them. Congress would see with pleasure the same class of relations established with the countries which may solicit them upon a basis of justice and reciprocal convenience. The analogy of principles which unites us to the neighboring republic of Guatemala renders the more satisfactory the arrival of a representative accredited to our government.

The promulgation of the code of civil and criminal procedure, as well as of the mercantile code, are events which will have a beneficent influence in the improvement of our legislation, which, being in all countries the chain that binds together social interests, its greatest perfection directly affects improvement and prosperity.

Congress will not hesitate to devote itself to the examination and decision of the projects of laws which the executive has presented, giving a deserved preference to those which are of vital importance to the country, such as the reform of our political code, the improvement of our mortgage system, colonization, and public works.

Congress will examine with interest all the proposals of the executive which tend to introduce those reductions of expenditure demanded by the prostrate condition of the treasury, and the necessity of reforming our administration, which constitute, at this time, the great necessity of the republic, since the solution of the political questions which had led to its neglect for so many years.

The promise which you have made to watch over the development of democratic principles through the strict observance of the laws could not be more grateful to a people which has struggled so long for its public system.

As a reward for its constancy and its great sacrifices, our country undoubtedly deserves the inestimable blessings of peace, and with them the moral, social, and material aggrandizement which it should obtain through the public functionaries chosen to guide its progress toward those high ends. The federal Congress is determined, for its own part, to fulfill this sacred duty, and knowing the patriotism and enlightenment of the present executive, it hopes to witness the happy regeneration of the Mexican Republic as the result of the combined efforts of the national powers.