No. 535.
General SicMes to Mr. Fish.

No. 782]

Sir: The official gazette of this date publishes the decree, a copy and translation of which are inclosed herewith, announcing the visit of the minister of ultramar to Cuba and Porto Rico. The preamble contains an interesting statement of the motives and objects of the mission, to which I beg to invite your attention.

I am, &c,


Decree of October 14, 1873, directing the colonial secretary to visit Cuba and Porto Bico. Published in “La Gaceta de Madrid,” October 27, 1873.

Presidency of the Executive Power of the Republic.


The firm resolution of the government of the republic to re-establish public order and peace in the peninsula is even more strongly held in so far as concerns those provinces whose remoteness from the mother-country calls for her greater solicitude and her first care.

The island of Cuba is perturbed by an insensate rebellion which seeks to menace the integrity of our territory, and which finds means of self-prolongation in the rigor of the climate and the nature of the country; and the action of the government toward it must needs be vigorous and decisive, in order to put an end at all costs to a struggle the continuance of which deprives the island of the blessings of peace, renders impossible the development of its resources, and is a constant obstacle to the inauguration of the reforms demanded alike by humanity and civilization.

Its financial situation is, moreoveiygrave; and the exhaustion of public credit and the increasing want of confidence, joined to the needs the treasury is in, to realize every possible source of income in order to put an end to such a state of things, make it indispensable that the finance department promptly present an organized plan which will yield the government resources whereby to pacify the island and at the same time give it the means whereby the charges imposed on the province may redound to its prosperity and good.

The problem of slavery no less urgently demands a speedy solution. The government hopes that this grave matter, so intimately related to the social and financial tranquillity of the island, will be settled by means of the concourse and agreement of all; for the fact must not be forgotten that public opinion awaits with growing anxiety the day of abolition.

The republic, faithful to its principles, has given the widest latitude to the reforms which carried to Porto Rico the spirit of the revolution of September. Slavery there has disappeared; the first title of the constitution recognizes that the sons of that province enjoy the same rights as their brethren of the peninsula, and the governpaent which aspires to the completion of its work needs due knowledge of the results of such transcendental innovations.

But for the realization of its purpose the executive power needs to form an accurate judgment without confining its attention to the diverse opinions of the enlightened consultative corporations and of the most worthy authorities of the Antilles; and therefore it has decided that the colonial minister shall visit those provinces, shall inform himself as to their necessities, and shall decide upon or prepare the proper measures to assure their peace and prosperity.

The government looks for such great results from this determination, that it has not [Page 845] hesitated to accept the generous offer of one of its own members, resting assured that all those who love the name of Spain will see that, while progress demands certain reforms and public opinion exacts the fulfillment of certain promises, the republic holds nothing, absolutely nothing, superior to the integrity of the nation.

In view of these considerations, the government of the republic decrees as follows:

  • Article I. The colonial minister shall visit the island of Cuba with the object of studying the means of putting an end to the present insurrection therein, of bettering its financial situation, of preparing for the abolition of slavery, and of establishing the reforms needed in the government and administration of the province, adopting immediately, in so far as lies within his powers, the measures he may deem expedient for the attainment of those ends.
  • He shall also visit the island of Porto Rico, with the object of examining the results of the reforms introduced there, and also of deciding, conformably to the powers belonging to him, upon whatever he may judge proper for its administration and government.
  • Article II. The colonial minister shall be accompanied by those employe’s of his department whom he may designate, who shall receive such compensation as may be determined upon, conformably to existing regulations.
  • Article III. The expenses occasioned by compliance with the preceding articles shall be paid by and charged to the extraordinary war credit in Cuba.
  • Article IV. The colonial minister is hereby charged with the execution of this decree.