No. 56.
Mr. Partridge to Mr. Fish.

No. 165.]

Sir: The Buenos Ayres journals are still filled with abuse of the [Page 85] Brazilian government, and inflammatory appeals to the Argentine population to carry on a war, which, by its results, shall put an end to Brazilian dictatorship in Paraguay, and to Brazilian pretensions (as they say) to regulate matters in the River Plate.

There can be no doubt that there is an intense hostility among the Argentines toward Brazil; and that a large portion of the population, outside of Buenos Ayres particularly, is in favor of a war. The commercial interests in Buenos Ayres, Rosario, and the principal towns, and the large foreign influence in the former especially, are too well informed and have too much at stake, to be willing to run the risks of the only result which they know such a war could have.

It is doubtless true, also, that a great deal of the warlike talk of the newspapers, and of many of their public men, is due to the fact that the election (for the college which is to name the President) takes place in June; and that the result of those elections for Congress already had seems to show that the candidate of the party supposed to be in favor of a war with Brazil has more’ chance of success. These results seem to foreshadow the triumph of Avellaneda (since Alsina has promised to retire in his favor) and the defeat of General Mitre, who is declared by his opponents to be the Brazilian candidate because he is in favor of peace.

It is not easy, therefore, to say how much reliance ought to be placed upon these threats, and how much of the war cry is to be attributed to political motive.

The fact remains, however, that the Argentines are very busy arming, purchasing war-material; buying war-vessels; attempting to organize a navy; fortifying their positions along the river; and have actually diverted a very large portion of the proceeds of a late loan effected in London, to be used in the construction of railroads, for the purchase of cannon and accoutrements.

These things, with the tone of the press in Buenos Ayres, and no doubt the assurances they receive from the Brazilian minister there, have induced this government to move in earnest, and to make the most effective preparations in case such war should be declared by the Argentines.

I think it beyond question, both from the assurances of this Government, from their financial condition, and the public feeling here, that Brazil has no intention or wish to engage in such a war. This empire is progressing rapidly, compared with what has been its progress heretofore. Their coffee planters are getting rich with the enormous prices they receive, and the public revenues from export and import dues are far in advance of what they could have even hoped for. They are building railroads and increasing their merchant marine, and the remembrance of the depreciation of their currency, of their losses and sacrifices during the Paraguayan war, renders them utterly unwilling to undertake any new one.

But they are determined not to be caught unprepared. They are making every preparation of their navy, (which is respectable,) and especially overhauling their gunboats, which did such service in the river during that war.

In case war should be declared by the Argentines, we may look at once, I think, for a prompt and efficient blockade of Buenos Ayres and the Parana. The naval commission has already declared in fit condition for active service some twenty-one (21) of their steamers and gunboats.

My own impression is, however, that there will be no war. Brazil does not desire it, and the war-cry in the Argentine Republic is, from what I can learn, part of a political scheme to defeat General Mitre.

[Page 86]

It is so clearly the interest of the Uruguayans to remain neutral and to reap the commercial advantages of such a position, that their journals plainly see and advise such a course.

I annex a clipping from the “Nation,” here, (ministerial journal,) taken from the “Uruguay,” which I think truly states the case.

I have, &c.,


Translation of the annexed clipping from the “Nação” of Rio de Janeiro of March 27, 1874.

In Montevideo has appeared a new journal called “El Uruguay.” Its editors, for the political part, are Messrs. Charles de Castro and Bonifacio Martinez. In an article of that journal, which is headed “Neutrality and War,” we find the following:

“For those who reflect, even superficially, upon what is going on in the River Plate, a war between Brazil and the Argentine Republic is imminent.

“The spirit of the Argentine people is in favor of war, and it is easily explained.

“The empire exercises a powerful influence in Paraguay. Only the other day, the civil war which had broken out in Paraguay was ended by the mediation of a Brazilian minister. This alliance must exist as long as the Argentines shall occupy the Villa Occidental—an occupation which was the act of an unwise policy.

“Besides this, there is the antagonism of race and the inherited antipathy between Brazilians and Argentines; there is the remembrance of Itazuingo; and finally, the contempt which all Argentines feel for the Brazilians.

“The Argentines wish to break down the Brazilian influence, and to wash their hands in the face of the world of the great mistake of the triple alliance.

“Diplomacy is at work, not to come to an agreement, but to manage alliances.

“The Argentine Republic sends two ministers, one to Bolivia and one to Peru.

“On the other hand, Brazil, which has been looked upon since the Paraguayan war by all the South American republics with distrust, sends to Chili one of her ablest diplomatists, who (Mr. Aguiar de Andrada) by force of hard work and unwearied perseverance, has actually succeeded in doing away with the suspicious feelings existing in Chili toward Brazil, and since then the notes exchanged between those governments are of the most friendly and benevolent expressions; in fact, of a profound affection.”

The article concludes by saying that in case of a war the Oriental Republic ought to maintain a strict neutrality.