No. 294
Mr. Nelson to Mr. Fish.

No. 743.]

Sir: I herewith inclose a translation of the addresses delivered at the closing of the last session of the sixth Constitutional Congress, on the 31st ultimo, by President Lerdo and the President of Congress.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 1.—Translation.]

President Lerdo’s address to the Mexican Congress at the closing of its sessions, 31 May, 1873.

Citizen Deputies: In this, your last legislative term, which ends to-day, you have given new proofs of your enlightened patriotism. As in political questions, so in administrative affairs, your resolutions have been inspired by a laudable zeal for the welfare of the republic.

The faithful interpreter of public opinion, Congress has elevated the law of reform to the category of constitutional amendments. By costly sacrifices the people won these great principles to make them a part of our institutions. They have regenerated our society, facilitating moral and material progress, which tend to the consolidation of peace with all its attendant inestimable benefits.

The honors decreed to the memory of Hidalgo and of Juarez are the just tributes of public gratitude. It was an act worthy of the representatives of the people to honor the great chiefs of independence and of reform in a manner so well merited by their eminent services.

The approbation by Congress of the convention which renews the convention of the fourth of July, 1868, with the United States of America, will enable the mixed commission, in the course of the two years now stipulated, to examine and resolve the pending claims, thereby putting an end to these subjects of discussion and of difficulties. The Mexican commissioner will start for his post in the course of a few days, in order that the commission may be able immediately to continue its important labors.

In conformity with the convocatoria already issued, the elections for the seventh Congress of the union will be effected in due course, as also of the magistrates for the supreme court of justice. These elections shall be conducted in complete accord with the law, so that the Mexican people may select with perfect liberty the persons who merit their confidence to fill these high positions.

The continuance for a further period of the law which has so effectually contributed to check the career of evil-doers will serve to guarantee personal security, which is the first duty to society.

Among the hew dispositions tending to general improvements proposed in the annual budget, that which refers to political organization and public instruction in the Territory of Lower California, especially confided to the protection of the federal authority, is worthy of attention.

The railway from Pachuca to Ometusco, just subventioned by Congress, will unite the state of Hidalgo with the Vera Cruz road, thereby giving a greater activity to the movement of its rich agricultural and mineral products.

The construction, which has also been decreed, of a railway from Puebla to Matamoras Izucar, will be productive of great benefits to the agricultural interests of the southern part of that State, as also to an extensive portion of the States of Guerrero and Morelos. This important work will develop interior circulation, and tend also to facilitate the exportation of their tropical products. This road will be a prolific source of wealth, and possibly the beginning of an interoceanic line of communication.

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In accord with the desire of Congress, the executive entertains a lively anxiety to facilitate the prompt construction of a railway to the interior. Its immense utility in developing all the elements of our agricultural and mineral wealth is self-evident. With this profound conviction, the executive has desired that in a concession for a work of this great importance its prompt commencement and the most favorable basis for its successful termination should be reconciled, at once combining the legitimate interest of the grantees with the public interests of the nation generally, as well as with those of the States in particular which the road may unite. The executive has already pointed out the inconveniences which, in its judgment, the basis of a certain project might possibly entail, and has also submitted to Congress another project, the bases of which are deemed acceptable. When the representatives of the people shall have resolved the construction of this great work, well worthy as it is of all preference, the executive on its part will tender its most effective co-operation.

With regard to the useful work of daily extending our telegraph lines, the wires and necessary apparatus for the continuation of the Chilpancingo line to Acapulco have been ordered from abroad and are in that port. With this line in operation, together with that to Mazatlan, the government will have two direct lines of communication with the Pacific coast.

The payment of the civil and military lists has been continued with all regularity. With reference to the loan contracted in August of last year, the monthly interest has been duly met, and nearly one-half of the principal has been paid.

It is scarcely four months since the rebels of Tepic, emboldened by the impunity of many years, organized three simultaneous invasions of the States of Sinaloa, Zacatecas, and Jalisco, advancing in the latter to the very gates of Guadalajara. Promptly hurled back, the campaign was carried into the very heart of Tepic itself, and into the very Sierra of Nayarit, with the most successful results. The nation has had another proof of the fact that the time has indeed passed away when such risings as this, which have caused in the past the greatest evils, can be attempted with any prospect of success. The brave and loyal soldiers of the national army have, in every encounter, wrested victory from the rebels, whose chief is either in hiding or a fugitive. Thus the executive may assume the satisfaction of announcing that, at this moment, there does not exist, through the length and breadth of our territory, a single armed band in hostility to law and authority, and that the entire republic is enjoying the benefits of peace.

The sixth constitutional Congress having thus terminated its mission, you can return to your houses, citizen deputies, with the satisfaction of having proved worthy of the confidence vested in you by the Mexican people. Receive my felicitations, with my most fervent wishes for the national prosperity.

[Inclosure 2.—Translation.]

Reply of the President of the Mexican Congress to the closing address of President Lerdo.

Citizen President: The renewal of the public authorities, established as an essential principle of our fundamental institutions, is doubtless one of the most salutary guarantees which modern democracy has won for the benefit of the people and of society. The obedience which is due to this precept imposes the duty upon the sixth constitutional Congress to close to-day the last term of the second year of its ordinary sessions.

The deputies would fain wish that their labors might have corresponded satisfactorily to their noble desires, and to the public necessities which demand the prosperity of our country. Nevertheless, all that it has been possible to do has been done, if we take into consideration the various crises through which the republic has passed, and the extremely difficult situation in which political parties were left, owing to the electoral struggle and to the death of the illustrious Juarez.

There were moments when it was feared that the majority of the house would not follow a course in accordance with that of the executive, thus planting obstacles and difficulties which would embarrass the administration and render the discussions of this assembly useless and futile. Fortunately a feeling of noble patriotism, inspired by the wise and prudent policy of the executive, soon prevailed in all minds, and the national representation, mindful of its duty, has known at last how to correspond to the legitimate hopes of the people.

Thanks to this, it has been able to issue laws in the political, social, and administrative order, which are of transcendental and beneficial consequences to the republic.

The renewal of the treaty entered into with the United States of the North, for the purpose of examining and resolving the claims pending between the citizens of that country and of ours, is of the greatest importance, not only because it makes evident and assures the sincere and cordial relations which we have with that people, but also [Page 672] because it fosters the hope that right and reason shall predominate in the world, and that cannon and bayonets shall no longer be the arbiters of the differences which arise between nations.

The great interests created by the laws of reform, already consolidated by the blood and martyrdom of a thousand illustrious victims, had to call the attention of Congress, in order to secure their establishment for the present and for the future.

It may be considered as an actual fact that the just and philosophical principles on which the laws of reform are founded are under the sacred protection of our fundamental code, and that they will ere long form a part of it, through the solemn sanction of this assembly and of the legislatures of all the States.

The sovereignty of the people would be but a mockery did not the electoral law insure free suffrage for all our citizens. The house, being imbued with this idea, upon issuing the call for the election of the forthcoming Congress and magistrates of the supreme court of justice, sustained a long and ample discussion; and, upon revising the organic laws at present in force with regard to the matter, introduced some wise modifications, in order to secure to the utmost free suffrage, and to prevent the direct or indirect influence of the authorities from interfering with the public vote. Congress well knows that all the foresight of the legislator is sometimes rendered insufficient by human malice; but it confides in the great virtues of the Mexican people, and in the profound respect which the chief of the executive has practically manifested for public suffrage, and trusts that henceforward the renewal of the legislative and judicial authorities, as the result of a free and spontaneous election, will be firmly secured.

All these benefits disappear when society endangers persons and interests. For this reason, notwithstanding the repugnance which all the members of the chamber feel at enacting exceptional laws, which arise from circumstances, sacrificing the individual for the common good, it has found itself under the hard necessity of proroguing the law respecting kidnapers, not so much to castigate that horrifying crime, which is, fortunately, disappearing, but that the law may be respected, and extinguish forever in the republic even the intention of committing the crime.

The question most difficult of solution is doubtless that of the estimate of ingress and egress. The constituent assembly did right in giving its discussion preference in the present period of sessions; and although it has not been possible to sanction, for want of time to study all the reforms and modifications which experience and practice have pointed out, it is undeniable that in this respect advance is made each year, and the time is not distant when without new sacrifices on the part of the people, and by force of economy and morality, the two estimates will be perfectly balanced.

Notwithstanding the limited receipts of our revenue, Congress has not shown itself indifferent to the national sentiment in favor of material improvements; and if it has not achieved all that was needed, it has at least decreed branch lines of the vastest importance. One of these will unite the State of Hidalgo with the Vera Cruz Railway, and the other will connect the city of Puebla with Matamoros Izucar. The result of the construction of these roads cannot be other than the development of mining, agriculture, and commerce. Both roads will contribute powerfully to the rapid expansion of our national wealth, and ultimately to the equalization of the value of our exports of metal and produce with the value of our imports from abroad.

Unfortunately Congress has not been able to obtain the immediate commencement of a railway which shall bring the two oceans into communication, thereby giving new vigor and activity to all the States of the interior of the republic, and obliging the commerce of all the nations with Asia, by a natural force, to become tributary to us. The project which was submitted to its study and deliberation entailed a change which has not been generalized in the world; and this produced a want of confidence as to its practical results, and as to its sufficiency to realize the grand purpose for which it was designed. Notwithstanding this, however, especial attention was given to the railway question, in order to satisfy the public anxiety in the matter, but it was found impossible to settle it definitely for want of time for its study and discussion. The nation may rest in tranquillity, because this improvement is supported by the public conscience, and when a people take up an idea, its realization is safe, notwithstanding all the obstacles that present themselves. The telegraph is daily extending throughout the republic, and but little now remains to enable the most insignificant of the villages of our extensive territory to enjoy this benefit of modern civilization.

The national representatives have observed with pleasure the regularity of the payments in all the branches of the administration, because this speaks very highly in favor of the administrative order, of the morality and purity with which the government distributes the public funds. But what has most pleased the representatives of the people is assuredly the efficacious punctuality with which the compromises contracted by the loan of last year have been fulfilled, as it is thus that confidence will be revived, the country will strengthen its credit, and consequently will be able to dispose of more funds in order to satisfy its necessities.

The happy and complete result of the costly campaign against Tepic is an omen that the republic is at peace and that its future will be all progress and prosperity.

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All glory and acknowledgment to the republicans and valiant chiefs, officers, and soldiers who, conquering by their splendid triumphs the laurel of victory which crowns their brows, have secured a permanent peace for the republic.

Permit me to recall the words with which the president of Congress concluded his speech last year: “The sixth Congress, on closing its sessions to-day, ardently prays that on the arrival of the new term we may in this place salute peace and the establishment of constitutional order throughout the republic.”

Providence has crowned with the most brilliant success the fervent desires of the sincerest patriotism. Never has the nation presented more favorable conditions. Never has peace been more complete. I congratulate you, citizen President, in the name of the republic, for this transcendant blessing.

We return tranquilly to our homes, if not satisfied with our labors and with having fulfilled our duty as representatives of the people, at all events, under the profound conviction that the country marches toward its prosperous and happy destiny on the road of progress and liberty.