No. 426.
Mr. Foster to Mr. Fish.

No. 271.]

Sir: The opening of the last session of the seventh Congress of the union took place on the 1st instant, the term of which session will expire by constitutional limitation on the 31st of May next.

I herewith transmit a copy and translation of the address which President Lerdo pronounced on that occasion.

I am, &c.,

[Inclosure in No. 271.—Translation.]

President Lerdo’s message at the opening of Congress, April 1, 1875.

Citizen Deputies: Your reassembling on the day designated by the fundamental laws is a renewed proof of the orderly march of the public powers and of the consolidation of our institutions. It is likewise a well-grounded reason for hoping that the republic may not lose the benefits of peace advancing in the way of progress and of liberty.

Our relations with friendly governments continue happily and cordially cultivated.

In order to strengthen them more with Guatemala and Italy, representatives of the republic have been sent especially charged with expressing to those governments the wishes which that of Mexico entertains for the prosperity of the people over whose destinies they preside.

The convention of the 20th November, 1874, which extended for one year the powers of the mixed commission established in Washington, being approved and ratified conformable to the constitutions of Mexico and of the United States of America, the ratifications were duly exchanged, continuing the commissioners in the discharge of their important duties.

The investigating commission in the States of Sonora and Chihuahua has terminated its duties. As soon as its reports are received they will be duly presented to Congress for its information.

Among the amendments to the constitution recently made, with all the requisites [Page 893] which the same provides, the erection of the senate, which will be realized in September next, will become, in the composition of the executive power, the complement of our constitutional organization.

The executive has given exact fulfillment to the organic law of the constitutional additions and reforms. The remains of old prejudices in the religious sentiment of some persons, artfully and unreasonably excited, have given occasion or pretext for the formation of small armed bands in a limited section of the States of Michoacan and Jalisco, urged on by those who even pretend to believe that the Mexican people can be deprived of the victories, sealed by its blood, in those ideas and principles which have given it a place among the most liberal and civilized peoples. These small bands will soon be dispersed, which, being continually followed up, have not had, neither do they now have, any importance in compromising the peace of the nation.

The resolution which Congress dictated in the former period of its sessions, occasioned by the legal questions raised in Yucatan and Oaxaca, were executed in a pacific manner by the executive, the public order being maintained without any difficulty in those two states, which have continued in the most tranquil manner in their normal state.

On account of the vacancies which have occurred in the court of justice, and those which will very soon take place by the expiration of the legal term of some of the magistrates, it might be opportune that, in the general elections of June of this year, the election of new magistrates be held, without whom that tribunal might not be able to fulfill its high duties.

The advantage of decreeing the code of proceedings in criminal cases is a just occasion for recommending to the enlightened deliberation of Congress the proposition made by the executive upon the modifications which that code may require in the organization of the tribunals of the federal district.

There deserves also to be recommended to the consideration of Congress the project which the executive has presented to it of a new mining ordinance, so useful in a country which possesses this branch of industry as one of the principal sources of its wealth.

The project of the code of commerce having been completed, it will be submitted to Congress as soon as the observations of the chamber of commerce of this city are examined, which, at its suggestion, it has appeared very proper to hear in a matter of so great and general interest.

With the establishment of instruction in teaching and other branches in the national secondary school for girls, there has been given to it the character of a normal school, in order that there may be furnished a good corps of female teachers. The executive is also occupied in organizing a normal school of male teachers, the project for which will be duly presented to Congress for its examination and approval.

The project of a law for compulsory primary instruction, which the executive has presented to Congress, has the highest and most important interest for making education general and elevating the moral condition of society.

The commission sent to observe in Asia the transit of Venus across the disc of the sun reported that it had complete success in the observation. It is a cause of satisfaction that the Mexican commission may have been able to co-operate with the promoters of science, forming with these studies and data a work which they are already preparing to publish.

There only lacks an extension of about three leagues to complete the construction of the railroad from Vera Cruz to Jalapa, which certainly can be inaugurated in June next, conformable to the requirement in the concession.

For the important work of the railroad from Mexico to Leon, the investigations and surveys necessary for the entire distance from Mexico to Queretaro began without delay and have continued without interruption, the route which the road should follow being already located for a distance of 28 kilometers.

Near the end of the last period of sessions, the executive submitted to Congress a project for a railroad from Leon to the Rio Bravo, and another for a railroad from Guaymas to the Sonora and Arizona frontier.

The basis of a project is already settled, which will soon be presented to Congress, for a railroad from Matamoras to the Laguna de Jesus Maria, and for the necessary work in said lake for the purpose of improving its favorable conditions for forming therein an excellent port, which shall offer to vessels ample space and security.

The funds necessary for the light-houses of Anegada de Afuerza, in Vera Cruz, and of Tampico, have been deposited. These improvements in the two harbors will be of great utility.

The labor for completing the canal from the lake of Tamiahua to Tampico is well advanced, as also that on the canal which will convey the waters of the Rio Armeria to the lagoon of Cuyetlan.

No effort is omitted for pushing forward the pending construction of several extensive telegraphic lines. Already all the material for the line from Tampico to Matamoras, via Ciudad Victoria, has been received, which, besides communicating with the [Page 894] capital of Tamaulipas, will serve to maintain with security, by means of two lines, foreign telegraphic communication. Since peace was established, about the middle of the year 1872, there have been constructed two thousand six hundred kilometers of government telegraphic lines.

The commissions having in charge the arrangements for the national exposition and the preparation for the part which Mexico is to take in the Philadelphia Exposition continues in the satisfactory discharge of its interesting labors.

The payments of the civil and military lists, as also the ordinary expenses of the administration, have continued to be met with entire regularity.

This period of sessions being specially designated for the making of the estimates, Congress will be able, with enlightened prudence, to enact in the revenues and expenditures all that which may best comport with the necessities of the public service.

The law of the 10th of November last for continuing the recognition and liquidation of the claims of the public debt is being efficiently complied with. The proceedings which remained pending in the liquidating sections, that were discontinued, have been continued by the chief auditing office and the proper section of the department of finance with energy and assiduity; the executive hoping that, with due regard to the legitimate interests of the creditors, the dispatch of all these matters may be concluded within the designated time.

The stamp-law which was promulgated on the 31st of December, 1871, was not carried immediately into effect, on account of the office lacking the machinery and the materials necessary for the printing of the stamps. This obstacle being removed, it was determined on the 1st of December last that it should begin to take effect, and, exercising the authority which Congress confided in the executive, it made in said law important modifications favorable to the public, which is being executed in the federal district and in most of the States without the difficulties which other similar laws are ordinarily accustomed to produce.

Conformable to the decree of Congress, which permits vessels from foreign ports to arrive directly in our ports of coasting trade to load with cattle and wood, the executive issued a system of rules which would prevent contraband trade, without hindering the complete fulfillment of the effects of the law in favor of exportation.

As the increase of the mineral production in the district of Muligé, Lower California, and the annual fishing on its coasts, bring to that port an important mercantile business, it was determined, in order to encourage it, to establish there a port of the coastwise trade. In the same manner, on account of the new circumstances of the boundary-line between Upper and Lower California, the executive considered that, besides establishing the frontier port of Ziguana, it was best to transfer the frontier custom-house which was in Sonora to Port Isabel, situated at the mouth of the river Colorado, in the Gulf of Cortés. These measures were demanded by the quantities of goods which are being introduced at those points, and by the traffic growing with the increase of population.

The executive has been careful that the military colonies in the frontier States should continue provided with the armament, the equipment, and all other elements necessary for their good organization. In this manner they will be able to fulfill their important mission of protecting in their persons and property the inhabitants of those States, so worthy, on account of their patriotic sentiments, of the national consideration.

Receive, citizen deputies, my sincere congratulations on seeing you re-assembled again for the purpose of seeking, with your wisdom and patriotism, the well-being and prosperity of the republic.