No. 460.
Mr. Foster to Mr. Fish.

No. 97.]

Sir: The seventh Congress of the Union terminated its first session [Page 722] on the 21st instant. I inclose herewith a translation of the address of President Lerdo, read before that body at its adjournment.

Among the most important acts of Congress was its approval of the contract made, by order of the President, with the Mexican company, for the construction of an” extensive system of railroads, referred to in my dispatch No. 74, thus completing legislative action upon that subject. Congress has also granted an extension for one year of the concession to the Tehuantepec Railway and Canal Company. It has also approved a treaty of amity and commerce between Mexico and Italy, the ratifications of which are to be exchanged in this city on or before April next. Before its adjournment the President sent to Congress the nomination of ministers plenipotentiary to the German Empire and to Spain. The action of the federal government, referred to in my dispatch No. 87, has apparently pacified the troubles in the State of Coahuila.

I am, &c.,


[From translation in the Two Republics.]

President Lerdo’s speech.

Citizen Deputies: In the first period of your sessions, prorogued until to-day, by your patriotic zeal, as permitted by the constitution, you have considered subjects of great importance, which you have decided to the advantage of the republic. The long-pending treaties which the executive celebrated with the King of Italy, concerning commerce and the extradition of criminals, have been approved by Congress, and will soon be ratified so as to go into operation as a law of the Union.

The friendly relations which fortunately exist between the two countries will thus be rendered more intimate. The great work which cost such bloody sacrifices, the laws of reform, having definitively received constitutional sanction, now form an integral part of our institutions. This act, of the highest importance for the Mexican people, will ever be a title of glory for the seventh constitutional Congress.

The intelligent discussion which has continued during your sessions upon some other reforms in the fundamental compact gives reason to hope that they may soon be terminated, aiding not only to perfect our system, but also to further develop the practice of liberal principles. Congress having scrutinized the popular election of magistrates of the supreme court of justice, the highest tribunal of the Union, to which the laws concede such high attributes, has been duly completed. The judicial organization in the territory of Lower California was insufficient for the vast extent of its territory, causing real damage to public interests. This evil has been remedied by the action of Congress, in establishing the new tribunals found necessary for so noble an object.

The subsidy granted to the steamship line between Vera Cruz and New York having been renewed by Congress, this important means of communication will continue to exist, and will afford new advantages to commerce, and greater facilities for the movement of passengers between the extreme and intermediate points of that interesting line.

A new line of steamers between Vera Cruz and Havana, which is to touch at several ports of the Gulf, having also been subsidized by another decree, this line will efficiently serve to stimulate our mercantile relations with the island of Cuba and the exportation of our valuable national productions.

The modifications made in the law of real-estate contributions have remedied defects shown by experience. Some disadvantages for the tax-payer have thus been abolished without damage to our fiscal interests. The admitted propriety of extending to a greater number of localities the benefits of the telegraph, inspired Congress with the resolution of establishing new telegraphic lines from Michoacan to Guadalajara and the ports of Manzanillo and San Bias, as also from San Luis to Zacatecas and Durango. The utility of these measures is unquestionable, as is also that of the decree for the canalization between the lagoons of Chijol and Tamiahua, in the State of Vera Cruz. These communications will develop an important trade. Among other beneficent [Page 723] measures taken by Congress, that relating to a road to Comanja, to facilitate the extraction of the abundant products of its iron-mines, deserves notice, as also the power given the executive to transfer to another company the concession for a railroad between Puebla and Matamoros Izucar, so important for that rich district.

The period granted to the company which proposes to establish interoceanic communication across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, having been extended for a year, there is a new hope of the realization of so highly interesting a project, and one recognized as such by all the governments of the republic.

The settlement of the new tariffs for the railway from Mexico to Vera Cruz, has been one of the principal subjects to which Congress has devoted its intelligent attention. If in this important matter all that could be desired was not obtained, there was at least obtained all that was possible for the purpose of stimulating the exportation of our productions, thus giving a new impulse to agriculture, which is the principal source of the national wealth, and which ought to be the most productive in the future. The executive having scrupulously examined the several projects that were presented for the interoceanic and international railway, gave the preference to the company lately formed, because it really offered the most favorable conditions.

With the approval which Congress has given to this project, it has demonstrated its patriotic zeal for the realization of this enterprise which is of the highest importance, not only for the interests of our country, but for those of the civilized world which will take advantage of this means of communication between the great continents.

The determination of Congress for the purchase of revenue-cutters will be very useful for the maintenance of order in our ports and the due protection of our fiscal interests. The differences which brought about a grave conflict between the powers of the State of Coahuila, reached a point which rendered indispensable the intervention of the federal authority. The prudent measures taken by Congress immediately produced the happiest results, affording an assurance that within a very short time constitutional order will be entirely re-established in that state. The reports presented by the cabinet ministers contain the administrative history of the past two years. They will serve, not only to make known the acts of the government, but also to facilitate the continuation of the improvements commenced, the undertaking of other new ones, the remedying of evils discovered, and the development of the important elements which our country possesses. We may hope for much under the auspices of the peace happily maintained throughout the nation. We cherish flattering hopes that public order will not be disturbed, resting upon the good sense of the Mexican people, and its well known desire to devote itself to social progress. Receive, citizens, deputies, my sincere congratulations, because during your brief retirement from your legislative tasks, you will enjoy the satisfaction of having labored with the most intelligent and patriotic zeal for the happiness and prosperity of the republic.