No. 341.
Mr. Biddle to Mr. Fish.

No. 89.]

Sir: I have the honor to transmit to you herewith a copy and translation of a constitution, dated the 9th of November instant, framed by a National Constituent Congress, reforming that of the 16th of October, 1871. The principal changes are the extension of the presidential term to four years, without eligibility to re-election during a period of equal length, and the enlargement of the executive authority in emergent cases.

The leading principles embodied in the previous constitution are preserved, with some changes in details, and that the secondary laws may conform thereto, the President has decreed the re-assembling of the convention on the 15th day of January, 1873, as per inclosure No. 2, to consider the laws of election; of the state of siege; for the press; for procedures at law; and reforms in the civil and criminal codes, and also in the laws, military and commercial.

I have, &c.

[Inclosure 1.—Translation.]

constituent congress — decrees—constitution promulgated the ninth of november, 1872—general ministry.

The President of the Republic of Salvador to its people:

Know ye: That the National Constituent Congress has decreed as follows:

In the presence of God, the supreme legislator of the universe, and in the name of the Salvadorean people the National Constituent Congress decrees, sanctions, and proclaims the following constitution, re-forming that promulgated on the 16th October, 1871:

Chapter I.

Section 1.—Of the nation.

Article 1. The Salvadorean nation is sovereign, free, and independent.

Art. 2. The sovereignty essentially resides in the community of citizens, and its exercise is limited to the right of suffrage according to law.

Art. 3. Every public power emanates from the people. The officials are its dele gates and agents, and have not other powers than those given them by law; therefore they are entitled to obedience and respect, and also must render account of their office.

Section 2.—Of the territory.

Art. 4. The territory of Salvador has for its boundaries—to the east, the gulf of Fonseca; to the north, the republics of Guatemala and Honduras; to the west, the river La Paz; and to the south, the Pacific Ocean.

The special designation shall be the object of secondary laws.

Section 3.—Form of the government

Art. 5. The government of the Salvadorean nation is republican, popular, representative; those administering it are responsible and alternative. It is composed of three distinct and independent powers, the legislative, executive, and judicial.

Section 4.—The religion.

Art. 6. The Catholic religion, Apostolic and Roman, is that of the state, and the government will protect it. It tolerates the public worship of the Christian sects, when it does not offend morality nor the public order.

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Chapter II.

Section 1.—Of natural born and naturalized Salvadoreans.

Article 7. Natural born Salvadoreans are:

All born in the territory of Salvador, excepting the children of foreigners, not naturalized.
The children of a foreigner with a Salvadorean woman, or of a Salvadorean with a foreign woman, born in the territory of the republic.
The children born to Salvadoreans in a foreign land, within which they are not naturalized.

Art. 8. Naturalized Salvadoreans are those who have acquired this quality according to law, and those who hereafter become so according to the following rules:

Such Spanish Americans who, having proven a year’s residence in the republic, with good conduct, may obtain naturalization papers from the government, which is obliged to concede them.
All other foreigners may demand and receive naturalization papers from the government, with the proof of good conduct and a residence of two years.
Those who obtain naturalization papers from the legislative body.

Section 2.—Of the citizens.

Art. 9. All Salvadorean adults of twenty-one years and of good behavior are citizens, who have besides any of the following requisitions: the being father of a family or head of a house; knowledge of reading and writing, or possessing an independent livelihood. Also, adults of eighteen years, who have received literary degrees, are citizens.

Art. 10. Rights of citizenship may be suspended by regular imprisonment on a criminal charge, not bailable. 2d. By being legally declared a fraudulent debtor. 3d. By conduct notoriously vicious, or by common vagrancy. 4th. By mental imbecility; or, 5th, by judicial interdiction.

Art. 11. The quality of citizenship shall be forfeited by those, 1st. Who are convicted of unbailable offenses. 2d. Those who, residing within the republic, accept office from another nation, without lawful authority. 3d. Those naturalized abroad.

Section 3.—Of foreigners.

Art. 12. Children of foreigners born within the republic, and qualified by law should declare within one year after the qualification, before the proper authority whether they accept or not the Salvadorean nationality; otherwise they will be considered as naturalized.

Art. 13. Foreigners residing in Salvador must obey the laws, and to pay the ordinary imposts equally with Salvadoreans, and if unduly molested in their persons and interests, shall have the same guarantees as those natural born.

Art. 14. When they advance any just claim against the nation, they must have recourse to the tribunals designated by law.

Art. 15. Foreigners all may acquire real estate in the nation; said property not to be exempted from the legal charges which would weigh upon it were it in the hands of Salvadoreans.

Art. 16. The circumstance of the marriage of a Salvadorean woman with a foreigner does not deprive her of her quality as a Salvadorean, nor are her goods exempted from the imposts and contributions to which they would be subjected as of those natural born.

Chapter III.

Only section.—Rights, duties, and guarantees of Salvadoreans.

Art. 17. Salvador recognizes rights prior to and higher than the positive laws, it has as principles, liberty, equality, fraternity, and for bases, the family, labor, property, and the public order.

Art. 18. All the inhabitants of Salvador have incontestable rights to preserve and defend their rights and liberty; to acquire, possess, and dispose of their property, and to enjoy happiness without molestation.

Art. 19. Every one is free in the republic. There shall be no slave within the territory, nor be a citizen who traffics in slaves.

Art. 20. The republic is a sacred asylum for the foreigner who may wish to reside within its territory, unless to those guilty of crimes whom another nation demands, by virtue of existing treaties and those of extradition.

Art. 21. Every inhabitant of the territory of the republic, free of responsibility, may emigrate whenever it pleases him without necessity of passport, and may return at will.

Art. 22. Every one, free of responsibility, may travel through the territory of the [Page 790] republic without the necessity of passport, and no person can be compelled to change his residence, except by virtue of the execution of a sentence.

Art. 23. Only by constitutional means can one ascend to the supreme power. If any one shall usurp it by means of force or of sedition he is guilty of the crime of usurpation; all that he shall do shall be void, and affairs shall revert to the previous condition as soon as the constitutional order is re-established.

Art. 24. Every one may freely express, write, print, and publish his thoughts, without previous examination or censorship, and only obligation to answer before the tribunals for the abuse of this liberty. The press shall not be subject to any impost or caution.

Art. 25. Equally Salvadoreans may assemble publicly and peacefully to discuss subjects of general convenience; but the originators of the meeting must advise the police of the place and hour therof.

Art. 26. Every inhabitant of the republic may address petitions to the constituted, authorities, and these must take them into consideration when they are made in a respectful manner and according to law.

Art. 27. Confiscation remains abolished. No one can be deprived of his life, liberty, honor, nor property, without previous hearing and judicial sentence, consonantly to procedure established by law, nor can one be judged twice for the same offense. The officials and individuals who violate this disposition shall be always answerable therefor in their persons and property, and without future recourse.

Art. 28. Every inhabitant of the republic has the right of being sheltered from inquisitions, examinations, and constraints in his person, his family, his house, his papers, and in all his possessions. The law will settle the manner of visiting suspected places, of searching houses to discover crimes, and of arresting delinquents to bring them to justice. No one shall be tried save in the jurisdiction wherein the crime has been committed, excepting in the cases determined by law and adjudged by the courts.

Art. 29. All are equal before the law, whether for protection or punishment.

Art. 30. Penalties should be proportioned to the nature and gravity of the offense; their true object is to correct and not to exterminate men; consequently constraint which may not be necessary to keep securely the person is cruel and not sanctioned. The death penalty remains abolished in political questions, and can only be inflicted for the crimes of assassination, of assault, and arson, when death results.

Art. 31. Only the qualified legal tribunals can adjudge the civil and criminal cases of Salvadoreans. Special commissions and tribunals are abolished, as contrary to equal rights and conditions; consequently all the inhabitants of the republic will be subjects to equal procedures established by law.

Art. 32. All causes of whatever nature shall be concluded within the Salvadorean territory, except ecclesiastical ones, when this is not possible; they shall not pass more than three “instances,” and no one may withdraw the consideration of his case from the authority which the law prescribes.

Art. 33. Guarantees the writ of habeas corpus.

Art. 34. Epistolary correspondence is sacred, and cannot be intercepted, opened, nor revealed; that which may be intercepted or revealed is not evidence before the courts nor elsewhere.

Art. 35. One who gives bail shall not be detained in prison in the cases in which the law does not specially prohibit it.

Art. 36. No one to be obliged to accuse himself in a criminal prosecution, nor to be admitted to testify against his parents nor descendants, nor his wife, brothers, or brothers-in-law; and in every criminal trial to produce his own witnesses, to be confronted with the witnesses when desired, and to conduct his defense in person or by attorney.

Art. 37. The police must be intrusted to the civil authorities.

Art. 38. Arbitrations and the settlements of disputes at all stages of a cause pertain to every one, except in cases especially excepted by law.

Art. 39. The same judges may not sit in the different instances, and no authority can remove a lawsuit to a superior court for trial and to re-open judgments.

Art. 40. Property is inviolable, but it may be taken by the State for public uses, with just indemnification. All property is legally transferable and entails are forbidden.

Art. 41. Arrests can only be made by virtue of competent authority, consonantly to law, save in the actual commission of a crime, when one may be detained for delivery to the proper authority.

Art. 42. Education and the university open to all, &c. Primary education compulsory, and also gratuitous.

Art. 43. Every industry is free in the republic, saving only the profits, for the exclusive administration of the executive, of the manufacture of rum, saltpetre, and powder.

Art. 44. Allows societies for the agricultural, commercial, and industrial pursuits, &c.

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Art. 45. Labor and occupation, as bases of progress and morality, are necessary, and therefore obligatory.

Art. 46. Salvadorean citizens are eligible to office upon merit only and the legal conditions.

Art. 47. Neither the legislative, executive, nor judicial powers, nor any other tribunal or authority, can qualify, change, or violate any of the aforesaid guarantees; and whoever of the high powers may infringe them shall be considered an usurper, and be individually responsible for the resulting injury, and be proceeded against according to the chapter on responsibility of this constitution.

Chapter IV.

Of the elections.

These are regulated by articles 48, 49, 50, 51, and 52.

Art. 53. No employé appointed by the executive can be elected senator or deputy fill six months after his functions have ceased.

Art. 54. Senators and deputies may be presidential appointees after the term of their inviolability, ipse facto renouncing their character as representatives.

Art. 55. No ecclesiastic can obtain office by popular election.

Chapter V.

Section 1.—Legislative power and its organization.

Art. 56. To be of two independent houses, senate and deputies.

Art. 57. To convene without convocation in the capital of the republic from the 1st to the 15th of January of each year, and in extra sessions when called, &c.

Art. 58. Its ordinary session not to exceed forty, and the extra ones to be those necessary to resolve the points expressed in the convocation.

Articles 59, 60, 61, as to quorums, adjournments, &c.

Art. 62. The chamber of deputies shall be renewed each year, and its members may be re-elected. The senate shall be renewed by thirds each year.

Section 2.

Articles 63, 64, and 65. Qualifications.

Articles 66 and 67. Their persons inviolable.

Art. 68. Powers peculiar to each of the chambers.

Section 5.—General attributes of the legislative power.

Art. 69. It belongs to the legislative power to decree, interpret, amend, and repea the laws; second, to create jurisdictions, &c., civil and criminal; third, to define the attributes, of functionaries; fourth, to establish taxes and imposts upon all sorts of goods and property in due proportion, and to decree forced loans in cases of invasion or of war legally declared when the usual revenue is insufficient or voluntary loans cannot be effected; fifth, to empower the executive to contract voluntary loans within or from without the republic when necessity demands, and in sufficient quantity to meet the necessity; sixth, to settle and decree annually the estimates of the expenses of the public administration; seventh, to create the army of the republic, and to confer the grades from colonel up; eighth, to superintend public instruction; ninth, to decree the arms and standard of the republic, to settle the alloy, weight, and coinage of the money, to regulate weights and measures, and to decree the opening and bettering of public roads; tenth, to grant to persons or places titles, honorary distinctions, and gratifications compatible with the established system of government for great services rendered the country; eleventh, to fix salaries and offices; twelfth, to issue patents for inventions; thirteenth, to declare war and make peace with reference to the information communicated by the executive authority; fourteenth, to concede amnesties, pardons, commutations, &c.; fifteenth, to concede letters of naturalization to foreigners soliciting them; sixteenth, to declare the state of siege, &c; seventeenth, to rehabilitate those who have lost citizenship; eighteenth, to concede or deny permission to Salvadoreans to accept foreign employ from other states; nineteenth, to exact responsibility from the higher employés, &c.; twentieth, to ratify, modify, or to disapprove the different treaties and negotiations which the executive concludes with other powers, and the concordats adjusted with the Holy See.

Art. 70. Extra sessions to be confined to the subject of convocation.

Art. 71. The senate may prolong its sessions for its special functions.

Section 6.—General assembly.

Art. 72. To be composed of both chambers united. Its attributes are, first, to open the sessions of the legislative body; second, to certify the election of the president, &c.; third, to determine its regularity; fourth, to install the president, &c., and to receive his resignation, &c.; fifth, to select the supreme judges, &c.; sixth, to receive the reports of the executive through the cabinet, &c.; seventh, to certify the national [Page 792] debt and arrange for its extinguishment; eighth, to designate the senators to exercise the executive power in the cases determined by law; ninth, to resolve doubts or questions as to the incapacity of the President, &c.; tenth, to adjourn their sessions, &c.

Article 73 declares these powers indelegable with the exception of the administration of official oaths.

Section 7.Formation, publication, and sanction of the law.

Articles 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, and 80 provide a system of legislation similar to that of the United States, giving the President a veto under the same terms.

Chapter VI.

Executive power and its organization.

Art. 81. The executive power shall be exercised by a citizen who shall receive the title of President of the republic, named directly by the Salvadorean people, but when there is not a majority of votes, the general assembly shall select one from the three who have had the highest number of votes.

Article 82, ditto as to the vice-president.

Article 83 provides for vacancies, &c.

Section 2.—Duration of the presidential term.

Art. 84. The duration of the presidential term shall be for four years without immediate re-election, but eligibility recommences after the expiration of an equal period.

Section 3.—Qualities.

To be President or vice-president of the republic, it is requisite to be natural-born of Salvador, to be of thirty years of age, and a citizen for five years prior to the election, and to be of good character and education. Inhabitants from the other portions of Central America may be elected to the presidency or vice-presidency, adding to the above qualifications, first, a residence of ten years and marriage with a Salvadorean; second, after a residence of five years, with important services to the nation, or having a capital of ten thousand dollars in real estate, situated in the republic.

Section 4.—Secretaries of state and their qualities.

Art. 86. There shall be four secretaries of state: of foreign relations, of the interior, of treasury and war, and of public instruction, among whom the President may distribute other branches as he may deem convenient,

Art. 87. They must be natural-born to Central America, laymen, of twenty-five years of age, of good character and ability, and not to have lost the rights of citizenship within five years.

Art. 88. The decrees, resolutions, and manifests of the President of the republic must be attested by the respective secretaries of state.

Section 5.—Commander-in-chief of the army.

Art. 89. The citizen who exercises the presidency of the republic shall be commander-in-chief of the army.

Section 6.—Duties of the executive power.

Art. 90. The duties of the executive power are, 1. To maintain harmless the sovereignty and independence of the republic and its territorial integrity. 2. To preserve peace and domestic order. 3. To publish and execute the law. 4. The regular presentation to the legislature, of messages, reports, returns, &c., concerning public affairs, and estimates of financial needs for the coming year, with indications how best to be fulfilled, &c. Penalty for non-compliance, suspension of the defaulting secretary, &c., and even of the President himself, &c. 5. To give to the chambers such information as they shall require, but to withhold that relating to subjects of reserve, &c., not being obliged to divulge plans of war, nor the negotiations of high politics, but when the nature of the exigency justifies it; then, after a demand by the house of deputies before the senate, the documents must be produced. 6. To aid the judiciary in the effective administration of its duties.

Section 7.—Faculties of the executive power.

Art. 91. The faculties of the executive power are, 1. The appointment and removal of cabinet and revenue officers, governors of departments, commandantes, general and local, and to accept the resignation of army officers from the rank of lieutenant-colonel down, and of all the administrative employés. 2. To nominate and remove diplomatic and consular agents. To receive those from abroad, and to direct the foreign relations. 3. To convoke extraordinary legislative sessions, &c. 4. To make dis positions as to locality for the convening of the same. 5. To direct war, and organize [Page 793] the army, being able to dispose of the public revenue to this end. 6. To conclude treaties of peace and whatever other negotiations, submitting them for the ratification of the legislature. 7. To command in person the army, in which event he shall en-charge the executive power to whom it pertains. 8. To levy the necessary force, above the standing army, to repel invasion, or subdue rebellion. 9. To permit or refuse the transit of troops of other countries through the republic. 10. To open and close ports, and to establish maritime and internal custom-houses, and to nationalize vessels. 11. To exercise the right of patronage. 12. To regulate titles and commissions, &c. 13. To suspend the execution of the death penalty until the meeting of the legislature. 14. To exercise the veto according to law. 15. To exercise the attributes of the legislative body, as in articles 14, (save the pardoning power,) 15, 16, 17, and 18, during its adjournments, and with obligation to account to it therefor at its next session.

Section 8.

Article 92 prescribes the attributes of the executive on the sanction and promulgation of the laws.

Section 9.

Articles 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, and 99 regulate the political government of the different districts or departments, and of the towns.

Chapter VII.

Articles 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, and 115 regulate the system of the judiciary.

Chapter VIII.

Section 1.—The national treasury Revenues which compose the treasury.

Art. 116. The public treasury of the nation shall be composed of: First. All the property, personal and real. Second. AH the assets. Third. All the duties, imposts, and contributions paid, or hereafter to be paid, by Salvadoreans and foreigners.

Section 2.

Articles 117, 118, and 119 provide for the administration and auditing thereof.

Chapter IX.

Only section.—The armed force.

Art. 120. The armed force is instituted to keep harmless the integrity of the territory, to conserve and defend the national autonomy, to enforce the law, to preserve order, and to make effective constitutional guarantees.

Art. 121. The armed force is essentially obedient and cannot deliberate.

Art. 122. The armed force is composed of the soldiery and the navy. Its number shall be six thousand men. Its peace establishment shall be annually regulated by the legislature.

Article 123 relates to the compensations.

Art. 124. In cases of invasion, of war lawfully declared, and of rebellion, all the Salvadoreans between 18 and 50 years of age are soldiers.

Chapter X.

Articles 125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 132, and 133 prescribe the responsibility of public functionaries, and the formulas of impeachments and other procedures.

Chapter XI.

Only section.—General dispositions.

Art. 134. The republic of Salvador respects foreign nationalities, and will never engage in war with a view to annexation or conquest, nor will it employ its forces against the liberty of any people, but will respect autonomy, independence, and right wherever its power may extend.

Art. 135. With the object of promoting the Central American Union, complete equality of political rights is accorded to the people of the other republics, provided that reciprocity is extended in their respective constitutions.

Art. 136. Salvador remains prepared to arrange with all or with any of the states of Central America for the organization of a national government, when circumstances permit and interests coincide, so as to form portion of the great Latin-American Confederation.

Chapter XII.

Only section.—Revision and reform of the constitution.

Art. 137. The reform of this constitution only can be effected by the votes of two-thirds of the representatives elected to each chamber. This action shall be published [Page 794] by the press, and shall he considered by the next legislature. If this ratifies it, a constituent assembly shall be convoked to decree the reforms.

Art. 138. Thus the constitution of 16th October, 1871, is reformed, and the articles not herein comprised are annulled. The existing codes, laws, and regulations which may not be repugnant to the present constitution shall remain in force until legally repealed.

Additional temporary article provides that public functionaries under the former constitution are to remain in office, &c.

To the executive power: Given in Salvador, at the National Palace, the 9th day of the month of October, of the year 1872 of the Christian era, and the 52d of our independence.

(Here follow the signatures of the deputies.)

Let it be executed and published.
  • The minister of foreign relations,
    Gregorio Arbizu.
  • The minister of treasury and war,
    J. J. Samayoa.
  • The minister of public instruction, are charged with the portfolio of the interior,
    Fabio Castillo.