No. 288.
Mr. Nelson to Mr. Fish.

No. 723.]

Sir: The national Congress was opened with the usual ceremonies on the evening of the 1st instant, on which occasion President Lerdo delivered a brief address, a copy and translation of which is inclosed, (A and B.) Mr. Francisco Gomez Palacio, president of Congress, responded in behalf of that body, (C and D.)

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure B 1.—Translation.]

Address of the President, Lerdode Tejada, to the Mexican Congress, on its opening, April 1, 1873.

Citizen Deputies: With the satisfaction justly inspired by the contemplation of the firm and peaceful development of our democratic institutions, you meet once more to discharge the high duties for the good of the republic, which relies upon your wisdom and your patriotism.

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Our relations with friendly powers continue to rest happily upon benevolent and cordial sentiments.

The convention of 1868, extending the period for the sessions of the Mixed Commission in Washington to investigate the claims of Mexican and American citizens, having expired on the 31st of January, a new convention has been made, extending the term for two years more. Our minister advises us by telegraph that the United States Senate has already ratified this new convention, and we await the official correspondence to confirm the advice. The moment it is received, the convention shall be presented to Congress, in order that, obtaining due ratification, it may at once take effect.

The commission organized, under the decree of Congress, to examine the troubles in the north, have been discharging their duties with consummate wisdom and notable activity. Soon their labors will be concluded, when they will present their report, which, according to the data received up to the present time, will undoubtedly result favorably for the republic.

The recent political changes in Spain have been notified officially to the executive, and, in reply, we have expressed our most cordial sympathies for the Spanish people in their efforts to establish a republic upon democratic principles.

During the recess of Congress a representative of Italy has arrived, who has been received with the consideration and sentiments becoming the friendship existing between the two countries. With him has been arranged a convention renewing the period for the ratification of the treaty of commerce which is now pendent, and also of the treaty of extradition which has already been ratified by the King of Italy.

The elections for the president of the supreme court (ex officio vice-president of the republic) have been effected peaceably and with absolute freedom. This is another proof of the adhesion of the Mexican people to our political system, and of their full confidence in the consolidation of our free institutions.

Although an existing law makes primary education obligatory, the established rules are not efficient for that purpose. Convinced of the transcendental importance of this principle, the executive will lay before Congress the initiative of a project whose object will be to make really effective its application. If the authority of the union can realize this in the federal district and in the territory of Lower California, it is to be expected that the several States will follow this example with laudable emulation. So great are the benefits of a superior education, that no efforts which may extend and perfect it should be omitted. But greater and immeasurable are the benefits accruing from the generalization of primary education—the surest bases upon which to elevate the character of our citizens and our national greatness.

The code to regulate proceedings in criminal cases has been finished, and it will be published before submitted for approbation in order to consider the observations which the press and public opinion may offer.

In virtue of the authorization of Congress, a convention has been made for the establishment of a line of steamers between Vera Cruz and New Orleans, under conditions more favorable than those of the Vera Cruz and New York line. In the coming November, at the furthest, the service of this new line will commence, making two voyages monthly, touching both ways at Tampico and Tuxpan, thus offering further notable advantages for the transmission of correspondence, for passengers, and for trade.

The executive has considered with the most scrupulous attention the important question of railways to the interior, and onward to the Pacific. The result of this examination will be presented to Congress immediately, and the executive entertains the profound conviction that these great improvements demand every encouragement which a watchful prudence may dictate as at once efficacious and convenient.

The executive, duly authorized to arrange a reduction in the freight tariff of the Mexico and Vera Cruz Railway, with regard to national produce destined for exportation, has procured, with especial care, the removal of the obstacles that presented themselves, and now we have the satisfaction to present to Congress the arrangement made, which, assuring, as it does, immense benefits to the agricultural interest, and facilitating exportation, will realize the brilliant hopes based on the wealth and prosperity of the republic. The permanent reduction of the tariffs assured, to this we may append the arrangement by which the speedy completion of the railway to Jalapa is secured—a road which promises the most beneficent results, not only to the States of Vera Cruz and Puebla, but equally to commercial interests in general, as opening additional facilities for communication and for trade. In view of the great interests involved in this arrangement, which, though not necessarily demanding legislative action, well deserve the enlightened consideration of Congress, it was made ab initio a basis of the negotiation that, without the approbation of Congress, no part of the arrangement should be deemed valid, even on the points which were clearly within the competence of the executive to settle finally.

The great convenience resulting from the extension of telegraph lines has also received careful attention. The improvement of the line to Matamoras, which opens communication with abroad, has been secured. The construction of a telegraph which will put the capital of the republic in communication with the interior by way [Page 664] of Toluca, Maravatio, and Acámbaro, has been brought almost to a conclusion. The line connecting Durango with Chalchihuites has been purchased. The construction of the telegraph to connect Minatitlan with Tabasco is actively progressing.

Authorized by Congress to modify the maritime customs laws, a commission of enlightened and competent men has been appointed, whose labors are approaching a conclusion. The executive and the commission are in accord to adopt a liberal spirit in the proposed reforms, which shall be at the same time favorable to the revenue and to commerce, both which interests demand equal attention.

Although the national revenue has been notably reduced in consequence of the ultimate revolution, and also in consequence of, and as a natural, immediate result of, the change of various fiscal laws, the civil and military lists have, by adhering to the strictest economy, been covered with sufficient regularity.

As was becoming the duty and the credit of the government, the interest on the loan contracted in August of last year has been paid with exactitude, and the payment of the principal has been commenced and will be continued according to terms agreed upon.

Congress duly authorized the executive to contract a new loan not to exceed one million of dollars, an authorization always opportune whenever it might appear that the revenue receipts would not cover the ordinary and indispensable service of the administration, as also on occasions of any unforeseen emergencies, which, when not promptly heeded, might incur irreparable consequences. In view of the confidence manifested by Congress, the executive has sought to correspond thereto, exerting every effort to meet the necessary expenditures without recurring to this authorization, and this has successfully been done up to the present.

Congress has seen that, whenever circumstances permitted, the executive, without delay, has restored constitutional order in those States which the exigencies of war had placed under martial law. The State of Yucatan still remains in this situation on account of the pressure of special difficulties, complicated by the constantly recurring invasions of barbarous Indians. But, desiring to put an end to this normal condition, a high officer, who justly merits the confidence of the government, as well as of the political parties of Yucatan, has been sent there fully empowered to abrogate martial law, and information of this having been done is daily expected, in the confidence that no extraordinary difficulties have been presented.

Notorious have been the causes which during fifteen years maintained the district of Tepic in an exceptional situation.

The successive complications in which the republic found itself, impeded, during that long period, the remedy of this evil. But peace established in the country, the executive has been able to show that it felt its duty to make the action of the law and the principles of civilization reach Tepic. Elated by their long domination, those who were there in command resolved to proceed to extremities, carrying invasion to the very gates of Guadalajara, at the head of numerous bands. But the loyalty, the valor, and the discipline which the national army has so gallantly and repeatedly proven, have served not only promptly to hurl back the irruption, but also to occupy the greater part of the district of Tepic, after having dispersed the rebels in various engagements; and many of these have already submitted, delivering up their arms and material of war to the government. Although there are yet several bands in the fastnesses of the district, we may hope that the campaign will be speedily and happily terminated, and also, after so many years of license, the reorganization of the public administration, in conformity with what Congress (which has so long had this question under consideration) may decree.

Apart from this long-pending and now less serious difficulty, we are ably to congratulate ourselves upon the immeasurable benefits accruing from the general peace which the republic to-day enjoys, to which the zeal of the public officers, the loyalty of the army, and the opinion of the citizens in general so efficaciously contribute.

Citizen deputies: From the high sphere of your duties you will undoubtedly contribute to the realization of this great purpose, procuring by your wisdom and patriotism the happiness of the republic.

[Inclosure D.—Translation.]

Reply of Señor D. F. Gomez del Palacio, president of Congress, to the address of President Lerdo.


Citizen President: It can but be satisfactory to the national representatives to hear the chief of state lay before the public the tranquil aspect of public affairs, and to manifest in expressive language the zeal with which he is animated to seek the [Page 665] common good in the faithful fulfillment of his duties. In that cause he can count with certainty upon the unfailing support of the people’s representatives.

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Farther, if Congress cannot hut give preference to the discussion and approbation of the budget, not on that account will it fail to give its attention to the subjects to which the chief of state has thought proper to call attention, and it will second with singular complacency the projects of great improvements which may be presented upon just and beneficial conditions. To those of this character it is but just that the public powers give an active and assiduous attention in deciding as well as in executing.

Very perceptible in the Mexican people is their decision to maintain peace, and no longer allow themselves to be made the playthings of those who speculate upon their commotion; it is their lively desire that peace be consolidated, and the national prosperity be fomented by means of the incessant action of authority in procuring organization and the practical use of healthy principles founded upon our constitution, and to give impulse and development to the enterprises that facilitate the opening up of our immense national wealth. Each day that is allowed to pass without attempting something for these ends is looked upon by the nation as a positive loss. Congress, on account of its nature, is not supposed to take the initiative to satisfy that so perceptible general anxiety; but when its action is demanded, it will not show itself remiss in the fulfillment of its duty.

The most solid bases of a good foreign policy are, to recognize speedily and in good faith all just obligations to other powers, and never accede to a pretension which injures the rights or honor of the nation. In conformity with these principles will Congress fulfill its duty to the republic in regard to other nations, and its conduct on this point will be the more decided when its conviction is surest that this is most proper in order to obtain for us consideration and respect abroad, approbation and applause at home.