No. 469.
Mr. Thomas to Mr. Fish.

No. 125.]

Sir: On Saturday, the 22d instant, a few minutes after 4 o’clock p.m., the President of Peru left the presidential mansion and crossed to the side pavement on the opposite side of the street, intending to walk on foot beyond the plaza or principal square of the city, when he was suddenly fired at by a Captain Boza, an officer of the Peruvian army, not in actual service, but on half-pay awaiting orders. The President raised his cane and advanced toward his assailant, who retreated a few steps and fired again; both shots missed. At this moment Boza was knocked down by the policeman on guard at the corner of the street, and his revolver was taken from him by Col. Santa Maria, an aide-decamp of the President, who caught hold of the assailant and disarmed him. While this was transpiring, four or five more shots were fired without effect from under an archway in the vicinity.

The President then ordered one of his aids to call his body-guard from the palace, but before their arrival the parties who attempted the assassination had made their escape, except the one who fired the two first shots, whom the President ordered should be taken to the police-office. President Pardo then walked about two hundred yards along the side pavement, surrounded by his friends, and a crowd of hostile people who were shouting “Long live religion, and death to Pardo,” and were firing pistols in the air, to add to the concourse already assembled. The President then entered his carriage, and, being surrounded by a mounted guard and a friendly crowd, went to his residence, where, during the evening, he was called upon by the members of the diplomatic corps and by a numerous party of sympathizing friends. The President also received a deputation from the Peruvian Congress, now in session, composed of his friends and political opponents, who expressed to the President the indignation felt by the entire Congress at the attempted assassination.

The day after this occurrence a very large meeting of more than five thousand persons, which was presided over and addressed by the mayor of Lima, and by other distinguished citizens, assembled in the principal square of the city and resolved that they had heard with horror of the attempt to assassinate their chief magistrate, and condemned all attempts at revolutionary movements, which would necessarily lead to anarchy in the republic, and pledged to the President, whom they had [Page 992] elected, all the material and moral aid which he might require. Having adopted resolutions to that effect, the meeting adjourned and proceeded to the residence of the President, who appeared upon the balcony of his dwelling and, having heard the resolutions of the meeting read by its chairman, delivered an address to a very large concourse of people, wherein the President manifested that calm self-possession, patriotism, and determination for which he is distinguished. On the afternoon of the same day the President, without a guard, visited a concert, and in the evening in like manner attended the theater, where he was received with cordiality and enthusiusm by the entire audience. This attack upon President Pardo is the result of an extensive conspiracy. Fifteen of the parties engaged in it have been arrested, many of whom are officers of the Peruvian army, in actual service, others are officers of the army who are on half pay, waiting to be called into actual service, and have been placed in this position by that policy adopted by the last Congress of Peru, which has for its object a diminution of the military expenditures of the government. These conspirators seemed to be governed by no higher object than that of overthrowing a policy which curtails the income of some of them, and possibly interferes with personal aspirations of others. So far as this dark transaction has been unveiled, no successor of President Pardo, in the event of his death, had been agreed upon, and confusion worse confounded, ending in no public good, must have been the result of their success, judging from the vociferations of the angry crowd who were following the footsteps of President Pardo on the day of the attack. The conspirators had calculated upon the co operation of all that class of the population of this country who have become hostile to the President of Peru on account of his proceedings in which high dignitaries of the Catholic Church were concerned. The Congress of Peru at its last session passed a law forbidding members of the order of Jesuits to reside within the jurisdiction of Peru. In violation of this law, members of that order who had been expelled from other Spanish republics took possession of a convent in the interior of Peru, and took measures to re-organize their society.

President Pardo, in conformity to the law, issued a proclamation requiring them to leave the country, which has caused some degree of excitement. The religious animosity has been increased by another proceeding of the President intended to enforce conformity to a policy adopted by the government of Peru, intended to place the free-school system of the country under secular control. With this view the government directed that a paper called the “Popular Educator,” which is published in New York and advocates the free-school system as administered in the United States, to be distributed to the teachers of the public schools of Peru. Irritated at this proceeding, a leading clergyman of the Catholic persuasion at Arequipa, a city of some 80,000 inhabitants, stimulated the members of his church to prevent the circulation of the “Popular Educator,” and an angry mob compelled the governor of that city to seize and burn in the public plaza all the numbers to be found of that paper. For this offense the clergyman who instigated the proceedings has been arrested and brought to Lima for trial by order of the government, and two choice regiments of the army of Peru have been sent to Arequipa to quell what seems to be an insurrectionary movement, where crowds of men and boys at night were parading the street and compelling all they met to take off their bats, amid shouts of “Long live religion, and death to the reds”—meaning the soldiers, who wear red pants.

Notwithstanding these grave agitations, judging, as I do, from the [Page 993] demonstration of the public press of all parties in this city and Callao, from the temper of all parties in Congress, and of the popular demonstrations of the people of Lima and Callao, which this attack upon the President has developed, I have confidence that this abortive attempt at assassination, showing, as it does to ail lovers of law and order, the dangers to which the republic is exposed, will result in checking for the future the revolutionary elements in angry movements in Peru.

I am, &c.,