Mr. Williamson to Mr. Fish.
Guatemala, September 23, 1873. (Received November 4.)
Sir: I have the honor to inform you that there is but little doubt now that the attempted revolutionary movement of Palacios and his associates against Guatemala, Honduras, and San Salvador has been a signal failure; as all the operations are conducted upon the Caribbean side, and it is impossible to get reliable information here, it may be rather hazardous to say “there is but little doubt.” I hope the consul on that coast has kept you informed, as it has been impossible for me to have done more than to waste ink and paper in the transmission of flying rumors current to-day and contradicted to-morrow. It is highly probable General Palacios was largely assisted with advice, information, and funds by those * * * * * * who are now in Nicaragua. I am also apprehensive he might have received assurances of aid from the present goverment of Costa Rica in the event of his success appearing probable. It has also been stated, but I hope without any foundation whatever, that he was assisted by the owners of the General Sherman, the Messrs. Keith, who are the contractors for the construction of the Costa Rica Railroad. His failure has resulted from several causes, the first of which is his lack of military knowledge and prestige. Second, the slowness of his movements and their advertisement in advance. Third, there is no such thing as a revolution by the people in Central America. Fourth, the party upon which he relied to help him, in Guatemala particularly, had been so intimidated by the severe measures of President Barrios, that they could not find courage to organize. I mean by this party, the majority of the old and wealthy families and the more respectable of the clergy.
The government of this republic presents an anomaly in its administration. The constitution having been abolished before a new one was made, and the constitutional Congress having adjourned before completing its work, Guatemala finds herself to-day without either a written constitution or one such as England. Her chief magistrate. President Barrios, [Page 99] was elected, I am informed, by an insignificant vote. * * * * I am told by what ought to be good authority that at the election of last spring the number of votes cast for President was about 900, and that President Barrios received 600 of that number. And yet his government seems strong—so strong that he does not appear to fear revolutions—and has actually decreed that the church property and proceeds, together with what I understand to be property or charitable institutions, shall be taken out of the hands of the present administrators and placed under the management of certain-named gentlemen for the purpose of creating a bank. Although I have been using every reasonable exertion to ascertain whether he has a strong hold upon the affections or respect of the laboring classes, I cannot learn that he is very popular with them. * * * * * I think his strength lies where that of any popular leader of this country lies, in the army and officials. His reputation as a successful guerrilla chief, and subsequently as a general, is good, and, judging from observation and from what I learn of reforms he has introduced into the army, I think he is devoting much of his time to that branch of the service, and leaving civil affairs to his ministers.
These officials are, as a general rule, men of ability, and the chief of the cabinet, Mr. Samayoa, enjoys the reputation of being a man of fine education and rare talent. He is, I know, agreeable and intelligent. The general apathy of the people in regard to public affairs, together with the stern measures of repression adopted by President Barrios, incline me, with my present information, to the opinion that he is not likely to be overthrown by a revolution that will occur in a year or so. * * * I must add that I have not yet heard a foreigner express any other opinion of President Barrios’s administration except that he understands how to govern his people, and that there will be peace and quiet as long as he is President.
I have, &c.,