No. 5.
Mr. Osborn to Mr. Fish.

No. 15.]

Sir: The ninety-eighth anniversary of the Independence of the United States was recognized and observed at this legation on the 4th instant.

The legation was thrown open at 2 p.m., and a reception, given by the minister-resident, was attended by President Sarmiento in person, accompanied by his cabinet-ministers and justices of the supreme court; by ex-President General Mitre and the President-elect, Dr. Avellaneda; by a large number of senators and deputies of the National Congress; by the governor of the province of Buenos Ay res, and his staff; by the entire diplomatic and consular corps, and many prominent native citizens, as well as the American residents here.

The Argentine Republic having paid distinguished honors to our national anniversary, not only by the presence of his excellency the President, and their excellencies the several ministers of state and justice, at this legation, but also fry the adjournment of the National Congress and the supreme court for the day; by saluting our flag with twenty-one guns; by flying the Argentine flag from the public buildings, and by giving other evidences of friendship and good-will toward the United States, I had the honor to request by note the commander, Captain Mahan, of the United States steamer “Wasp,” if consistent with the rules and regulations of the Navy Department, to cause a proper salute to be given by his guns to the Argentine flag on the 9th instant, which is known as the “independence day” of the Argentine Republic. The request was complied with for the reasons set forth in his reply to my note, copies of which I have the honor to inclose.

[Page 7]

As a farther recognition of these manifestations of good-will toward the United States a note of acknowledgment and thanks was promptly addressed to the minister of foreign affairs.

I have the honor also to inclose herewith paragraphs from the leading newspapers of this city noticing the anniversary and its observance.

I am, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 15.]

Mr. Osborn to Captain Mohan.

Sir: The Argentine Republic having paid distinguished honors to our national anniversary, not only by the presence of his excellency the President and their excellencies the several ministers of state and justice at this legation to-day, but also by the adjournment of the National Congress and supreme court of justice; by saluting our flag with guns; by flying the Argentine flag from the public buildings, and by giving other evidences of fraternity, friendship, and cordial good-will toward the United States Government, I have the honor to request, if consistent with the rules and regulations of the Naval Department, that you cause a proper salute to be given by your guns to the Argentine flag on the 9th instant, which is known as the “independence day” of the Argentine Republic.

With the highest consideration, I am your obedient servant,

    Minister Resident.
  • Capt. A. T. Mahan,
    Commanding United States Steamer Wasp.
[Inclosure 2 in No. 15.]

Captain Mahan to Mr. Osborn

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 4th instant requesting me to salute the Argentine flag on the 9th of July, for the reasons you specify. In reply I have to say that, while I desire to manifest by every means in my power the friendly feeling of our Government to that of the Argentine Republic, the fact of their courteous salute to our flag on the 4th of July would not alone be sufficient to justify my disregarding my general instructions and the custom that vessels with the small armament of the Wasp do not salute.

The same courtesy of a salute on the 4th of July has been paid by the government of Uruguay and not returned by this vessel.

The unusual compliment paid by the President of the Argentine Republic, and other high officials, attending your reception at the United States legation in order to express his sympathies with our nation appears, however, to justify a departure from ordinary rules, and, in acknowledgment of the distinguished honor thus paid to us, I shall be happy to comply with your request.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

  • A. T. MAHAN,
    Commanding United States Steamer Wasp.
  • General T. O. Osborn,
    United States Minister Resident.
[Inclosure 3 in No. 15.]


The “reunion” yesterday at the United States legation was brilliant and numerously attended. Among those present were President Sarmiento, Dr. Frias, prime minister; Dr. Avellaneda, General Mitre, Dr. Rawson, Hon. Lionel Sackville West, H. B. M. envoy extraordinary; M. Ducros Aubert, French plenipotentiary; M. Peralta, Spanish [Page 8] minister; Dr. Alvear, Mr. F. St. John, Mr. Posadas, postmaster-general of the republic; Colonel Peña, General Meyer, Comendador Fleury, Captain Mahan, and officers of the United States steamer “Wasp,” the Commander of the Spanish gunboat, Sr. Lam area, sub-secretary of foreign affairs;. Mr. Cristofersen, Swedish consul-general; Mr. Carranza, Bolivian consul-general; Mr. R. Bridgett, H. M. acting consul; Messrs. Daniel Gowland, Coffin, Goschen, Guido, Mulhall, Hopkins, Folmar, Meeks, Speare, Benton, Rev. Dr. Jackson, Mitre-vedia, Negrotto, Cathcart, Naulty, Passman, the consuls of Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Italy, and about one hundred other gentlemen.

General Osborn, assisted by his secretary, Mr. Bowers, and the United States consul, Mr. Baker, received his guests in the handsome suite of saloons forming the American legation, which were tastefully decorated for the occasion. The portrait of Washington was hung between the American and Argentine flags, and the tables were laid out with wine and lunch.

When President Sarmiento arrived, accompanied by the cabinet ministers, in the state carriage, which was followed by the President’s body-guard, the saloons were already crowded and presented a gay appearance. General Osborn wore plain evening-dress. The American and other officers were en gremde tenne. Nothing could be more cordial than the congratulations of President Sarmiento and the various European plenipotentiaries to the American minister, as well as of the leading Argentine and other visitors.

General Osborn, standing next the President of the republic, saluted the assembly in the following speech:

“Friends and fellow-countrymen: On this anniversary I have much to say to you, but all is contained in the one word, ‘welcome!’

It has been the custom for years to celebrate this anniversary at home and abroad, for it was declared that this day should be kept in all time as one of rejoicing and congratulation.

“‘And posterity will celebrate this day. Upon the annual return of this glorious, immortal day, they will celebrate it with thanksgiving, with festivities, and with prayer It may be they will shed tears, but not of subjection and slavery, not of agony and distress, but in exultation of gratitude and of great joy.’

“This is the prophecy that was made at one of the most critical periods in the early history of our people, at a most awful and momentous period to them, when the present was full of doubt and a dark mantle was upon the future; when no bright and guiding star had yet appeared; when naught but a faint and glimmering hope gleamed upon their dark and dangerous pathway. But it was uttered by one who with a strong heart and a steady nerve dared to lift the veil. And he said, ‘I see!’ And close upon the future, with a prophetic eye, he saw a young republic. Up to this hour, that prophecy has been verified; thus far it has been fulfilled; ninety and eight times has the earth performed her journey around the sun, and upon the annual return of this day the booming of cannon, the displays of the Stars and Stripes, herald its approach; and Americans everywhere meet, as we to-day, to do it honor. This is the day we celebrate, for it was made glorious, not by the birth of a king or an emperor, made sacred, not by crowns or scepters, but by the declaration of that truth, that men, rational and intelligent, were capable of self-government. It was made glorious by the pen of patriots, and holy by the hand of death. Eight and ninety years ago today the beautiful sentiments in our Declaration of Independence passed into the unbending text of organic law. Then we were comparatively weak; to-day the republic is strong. Then her flag was almost friendless upon the sea and land; to-day she can rally more than forty millions round her standard. Then civilization was creeping slowly up the Alleghany Mountains; to-day her brow is bathed in the waters of the Pacific.

“We should not forget that this day, in 1776, was devoted to discussion and reflection. A deliberative body, that give out a larger influence, perhaps, to the political world than any other assemblage that ever convened, was in session. A few words of warning, a few words of caution, portraying the rashness of the attempt to sever the ties that bound America to the mother country; a few appeals to the remembrance that no oppression, save that of taxation without representation, had been imposed; a few appeals to the recollection that both countries spoke a common language, had a common literature and a common ancestry; a few expressions concerning the beauty and holiness of peace and the horrors of war, but all in vain; and then carried along on the irresistible surges of the coming revolution, rose up speakers saying sentences sparkling; with the love of freedom, breaking out with fierce invectives against the wrong of taxation without representation, painting the happiness and glories of a free country in that glad and happy future we have lived to see; next, a few names to a piece of parchment, and the work of the day was over, and every man who took the pen was a free-man or a traitor.

“But the deed was done, yet the work of seven long years was to be accomplished. But those who dared to proclaim dared to maintain.

“The Revolution was in no sense the work of a few orators and writers; the military achievements were not altogether due to the foresight and ability of a few generals; [Page 9] the great mass of the American people bore its burden upon their own shoulders. The political force of the Declaration arises from the fact that it was the utterance of a people who glorified what they said by doing it, who made vital living truths the basis of national action, who gave to their country not only the proclamation of freedom, but freedom itself.

“My countrymen, I have no time to-day to lead you back into the shadow of a century, and wander with you over the battle-grounds whereon the champions of the Resolution contended. Why should I? You have often, if not in person, in your imagination, lingered near their battle-fields where they shared with each other the terrors of Trenton, the carnage of Brandy wine, the frost and cold of Valley Forge, and left their bloody foot-prints upon the banks of the Delaware. It is and ever has been the policy of our Government, and history tells it, as that of peace and non-interference with other governments, no entangling alliances with or against any government on earth. Prosperity and happiness to all governments and their peoples, and the right to work out her own destiny, is her motto. And yet it is true she turns some of the pages in her history that are written in her own blood. Every nation has its critical period. That period came to our country when it seemed that wrong and oppression combined to stop the advancing spirit of the age; when some of her own children undertook to sustain wrong by age, error by custom, and oppression by the past. The house could not stand thus divided; but, ‘with charity for all and with malice toward none,’ the republic repelled the first assault and thundered from the lips of Union guns, the field trembled, a world was startled, and republics were put to the test. In magnitude and force it was a grand rebellion. In numbers and power, in determination and boldness, it challenges the world. Yet our colleges, and universities, and common schools had done their work too well to be finally defeated, for they not only disciplined men, but they made patriots, for wherever was found the patriot’s heart was found the patriot’s steel.

“The time did come, and it is past, thank God, when wrong and oppression rendered it necessary for her in self-defense to invoke the arbitrament of force and arms to protect and settle questions of political rights, yet the truth of freedom did shine out resplendently from the smoke of her battle-fields and completely wipe out the ‘sum of all villanies.’ To-day the republic is a unit, and her future does not depend upon the arms as her prowess, for the last great disturbing element has passed from her; but rather in a clear sense of her dependence as a people upon the everlasting principles of truth, right, and liberty, and a reverent recognition of God as the arbiter and controller of our national destiny.

“My countrymen, while our people at home have but one common country, one grand temple of freedom, but one altar, around which they all gather to-day to stir the fires, light their sacrifices, and are always ready for the time of action, you are some six thousand miles away assembled at this legation in the capital of this grand sister republic. I know you feel almost at home. Then in your name, in the name of our republic, to these her friends I say, hail! and welcome! And in honor of this day we celebrate, I give to you, the President of the Argentine Republic, the republic of South America, and to the President of the United States, the republic of North America.”

President Sarmiento then replied in the following speech, which he read in Spanish:

“Sr. Minister: When your excellency may read the debates of our congress, the messages of the executive, or the tendency and spirit of its acts, you will find that there is a family link; that there is a political doctrine that makes a single people of the whole continent which Columbus added to the general civilization of the world.

“The 4th of July is for us the completion of the conquest which humanity achieved in 1494. The rejoicing shade of Columbus hung on that day over the august heads of those that signed the act of Independence.

“We also were there, as there are in the buds and flowers of the trees, present until the consummation of the centuries, the future and successive generations of plants that have to represent the species in the magnificent drama of the development of the plan of the creation, as well in the physical as in the moral.

“On the 9th of July our fathers reproduced the second edition of the same act as yours of the 4th, and sixty years after we meet together reunited here, under the shade of our respective flags, to congratulate each other upon having passed safely through all human vicissitudes, through the various difficulties that we have encountered on the road, and now rejoice that while the old political world vacillates upon its foundations, the new, in these our two countries, under the protection of an identical constitution, reposes tranquil in the well-regulated activity of the hive without a queen, but with a government that directs or limits the beneficent action of the social force; that is, the executive power.

“Macaulay, in finishing the history of the struggle with the last of the Stuarts, and Bancroft, on prefacing thirteen volumes of the History of the United States, said we did not make a revolution, but preserved untouched the legacy of the British liberties, opposing the pretensions of the Crown that tried to go beyond the royal prerogative power.

[Page 10]

“But with Independence we made a revolution, by creating the executive department strong and limited, sufficient to resist invasion or anarchy, and yet flexible enough to avoid collision with any liberty of action or of thought.

“We had not a foreigner’s guide to traverse a new and intricate way.

“Europe could not furnish it to us. It was “the blind leading the blind.” We found it in your constitution, and, strange to say, anarchy and the spirit of order, tyranny and liberty, ambition and thought, all conformed to this standard that seemed suitable to all. Thus was first formed the confederation of provincial petty tyrants, then the federation, and at last the Union, as you call it, which is the period we are now passing through in the same way as the aquatic or amphibious monsters preceded the development of life until coming to man endowed with intelligence, which discovers the unchangeable laws of nature and puts them as the basis of his institutions. I do not know if there are still surviving beings, animated with the appetites and passions of an epoch which has passed away, but you may observe by our struggles of thought and words that the whole question reduces itself to discover the mode of making practical and effective a constitution which we have adopted, and having all of us for our guide your public waiters and commentators.

“By that way we shall arrive at port; for it is true that in the uncertainties of ideas, in the conflict of opinions, we know where we are traveling to. Not all the nations of the world can see clearly whither they point their steps, whether to a renewed past, or to an uncertain and obscure future.

“In 1810 we adhered to British liberties, purified by the republican institutions in America.

“In a century longer, those who talk that language, and those who rule themselves by its institutions in Europe, in America, in India, in Oceanica, we all shall form six hundred millions of free people, and the backward of the whole of mankind will come to join us from all parts, and I have great pleasure in calling all present to join me in the toast, ‘To the 4th of July, to the United States of both Americas, to your country, Mr. Minster, and to your President’s health!’”

General Osborn having proposed the memory of Washington and San Martin, the founders of American and Argentine independence, Dr. Rawson replied: “Your excellency has signally flattered us by placing our hero side by side with Washington. Yet they were both workmen in the same cause; both labored to establish principles of freedom. Washington proclaimed to the universe that all men were born with the right to make their own laws and follow their own form of religion, and this declaration was borne on the wings of the American eagle to the ends of the earth. Some years later we caught up the doctrine, and bore it triumphantly across this continent to the victorious field of Ayacucho. On a day like this we have a community of glories; but I will not now talk of your 70,000 miles of railway, your canals, your increase of population, your power in war, your wisdom in peace, your distinguished men like Morse, the Columbus of electric science. All your glory is summed up in the name of the founder of your country, the man born for all time. Gentlemen, let us drink with enthusiasm the memory of Washington.”

The next toast was “Prosperity to the Argentine Republic,” coupled with the name of General Mitre, who replied: “The sentiment contained in this toast is for present and future ages, based on the grand dogma of liberty and equality. In celebrating the 4th of July, we can never forget the heroism of the signers of Independence, who with unshaken nerve affixed their names, and said, ‘Now let King George hang us for rebels.’ This day awakens different sentiments in various countries. In those where tyrants yet rule, it is a day of dread, for they know their death-warrant has gone forth. In lands where slaves yet breathe, it is looked forward to as a date of promise and delivery. But in the hearts and homes of free men all the world over, it is hailed with a burst of glorious celebration, such as we now see around us. May this 4th of July be regarded as the bright omen of the new world, a star leading the destinies of mankind to life, liberty, and progress.”

The memory of Lincoln and Rivadavia was responded to by Rev. Mr. Jackson, who spoke feelingly of the visible interposition of Divine Providence in guiding the affairs of nations. Lincoln was an instrument of Heaven to wipe out the foul blot of slavery in North America. Rivadavia was a man of transcendent genius, sent to advance civilization in La Plata. The flag of the stars and stripes now floats over a people truly free. The star of the Argentine flag is undimmed in its horizon of blue and white.

The relations between the United States and La Plata was replied to by Mr. Hopkins in a powerful and argumentative speech. In 1818, the United States sent a commission to study the condition of the new republic of La Plata. In 1823, the first consul sent to Spanish America was to Buenos Ayres, because this city had first begun the struggle for independence, When the Holy Alliance at Aix la Chapelle was forging fetters for South America, by restoring to Spain her colonies, England and the United States refused, and Henry Clay was the first to recognize the young republic. But Rosas and General Jackson, each in his way, contributed to cut off relations between North and South. When Rosas fell the United States hastened to renew relations, the [Page 11] first treaty for opening the rivers being signed between General Urquiza and the United States minister. The first Argentine minister sent to Washington was Mr. Sarmiento, who found few people knew anything about Buenos Ayres. De Tocqueville, years ago, recommended Americans to cultivate closer relations with Spanish America. Grant is doing so; and many of our best writers and statesmen labored for this.

Washington Irving, Prescott, Motley, and Ticknor, by their writings; Gillies and Gould, by their astronomical labors; Stevens and Squires, by their explorations; Wheelwright, Meigs, and Church, by their enterprises; Monroe, Clay, Adams, and Webster, by their fearless enunciations of state policy—all helped toward drawing closer the republics of the new world. Some of them are backward, after fifty years of freedom, but did it not take Europe three hundred years to emerge from feudalism? We find republicans in every land in Europe, such as John Stuart Mill, Lamennais, Humboldt, and Arago, which shows how true principles make progress. Twenty years ago Kent and Story were unknown in Buenos Ayres; now every lawyer has them on his shelves. Let us labor to carry out the proposed line of steamers between United States and Buenos Ayres, and then our relations will be much closer.

Mr. Lamarca, of the foreign office, followed, and at 4.30 p.m. the President and many of the guests retired.

The popular toast of “The Ladies” was then proposed by Gen. Osborn, ably responded to by Mr. Yeatman; then came the toast of the “Army and Navy,” and coupled with it “The Press,” to which Mr. W. T. Cathcart (of the Daily News) replied in a brief manner.

We may mention that this year no invitations were sent to any person. It was merely made known that the saloons of the United States legation on the day in question were open for the reception by General Osborn of all true citizens, rich or poor, as also friends of the Union. A large assembly was the consequence of this open and free opportunity to celebrate an important day in the world’s history.