No. 519.
Mr. Cushing to Mr. Fish.

No. 207.]

Sir: The counter-revolution which has just occurred in Spain is in itself one of the most interesting and singular events of our time, [Page 1081] and may exercise important influence over the relations between that country and the United States. You will naturally, therefore, desire to receive a circumstantial account of this occurrence.

On Tuesday, the 29th of December, information arrived at Madrid that a detachment of the army of the center, which for some months past had been actively employed in combating the Carlists in the province of Valencia, under the command of Brigadier Daban, had, on that day, at the in citation of General Martinez de Campos, pronounced at Sagunto in favor of Don Alfonso de Borbon, the son of Queen Isabel.

At this time the military and political situation was as follows:

The government of General Serrano was administering affairs as usual in apparent tranquillity and security, no event of political importance in that respect having occurred since my last dispatch on that general subject, although the war against the Carlists had been going on with various fortunes, but without any definite results of magnitude.

Meanwhile, however, General Serrano had taken the field in person as commander-in-chief of the army of the north. Various rumors had accompanied his departure from Madrid, some persons accepting as true his avowed purpose, that of subduing the insurrection by extensive military operations; others suggesting that he contemplated arrangement with the Carlists, and others again attributing to him a plan for the re-establishment of liberal monarchy in the person of Don Alfonso.

Two weeks after his departure, some little attention had been attracted to the fact that several of the leading Alfonsinos, including Mr. Cánovas del Castillo, had been arrested and imprisoned in the Carcel de Villa, and that the newspapers of the same party had been suspended, to wit: “El Tiempo,” “LaEpoca,” “La España Catolica,” “El Eco de España,” and “El Diario Español;” but incidents of this nature had occurred too frequently since the downfall of King Amadeo to make a very deep impression on the public mind.

On the morning of Wednesday, the 30th, however, appeared in the official “Gaceta de Madrid” a proclamation, signed by all the ministers, denouncing, as an act of rebellion, the pronunciamento of some forces of the army of the center, headed by Generals Martinez de Campos and Jovellar, the latter formerly captain-general of Cuba, and at this time commander-in chief of the army of the center. (See translation of this document.)

The knowledge that General Jovellar had joined the movement satisfied everybody of its seriousness, and led to the belief that it had ramifications in other corps of the army.

In fact, it soon became known that General Primo de Rivera, the captain-general of the province of Madrid, if not prepared to join the movement, was hesitating certainly, and, as it was supposed, waiting to hear from General Serrano and the army of the north. The government, presided by Mr. Sagasta, had now become aware of the gravity of the situation. The minister of war, General Serrano Bedoya, proceeded to visit the various quarters of the garrison of Madrid, containing troops to the number of about 15,000 men, and found that, while these troops were disposed to remain passive, and would not produce any disorder, yet they decidedly sympathized with the movement at Sagunto, and would not fight against the supporters of Don Alfonso. Thus the position of the government became untenable, the more so when it became ascertained, as it did toward night, that the great body of the army of the north sympathized also in the movement for Don Alfonso so positively as to induce General Serrano himself to advise acquiescence on [Page 1082] the part of his ministers, in consequence of which they resigned their portfolios into the hands of Captain-General Primo de Rivera. And thus the government of General Serrano fell with a feeble protest on the part of Mr. Sagasta, but without even a struggle for existence.

There is reason to think that the action of General Martinez de Campos was founded on previous consultation among officers of the army, of whom the Conde de Valmaseda is particularly mentioned.

Meanwhile the streets of Madrid were crowded with groups of per-sons manifesting interest and curiosity, but not committing the slightest act of disturbance in any quarter.

Late at night an extra of “El Tiempo” appeared, giving the first detailed account of these incidents published in Madrid.

On the next morning, that of Thursday the 31st, appeared in the official “Gaceta de Madrid” announcement of the establishment of a new government, as follows:

  • Antonio Cánovas del Castillo, president of the regency-ministry.
  • Alejandro Castro, minister of state.
  • Francisco de Cárdenas, minister of grace and justice.
  • Lieutenant General Joaquin Jovellar, minister of war.
  • Petro Salaverría, minister of hacienda.
  • Mariano Roca de Togores, Marqués de Molins, minister of marine.
  • Francisco Romero Robledo, minister of gobernacion.
  • Manuel de Orovio, Marqués de Orovio, minister of fomento.
  • Adelardo Lopez de Ayala, minister of ultramar.

This government has continued to administer affairs with apparent acceptance, or unopposed submission at least, to the present time.

At first, it is true, especially in the course of Wednesday, much solicitude prevailed in apprehension of acts of violence.

* * * * * * *

But nothing occurred to disturb the peace of the city that night or at any time thereafter. It is true that Captain-General Primo de Rivera, together with the Duque de Sexto, the new civil governor, and the Conde de Toreno, the new chief alcalde of the city, adopted the most complete precautions for the preservation of public peace; but, indeed, there has been no exhibition of disposition on the part of anybody, high or low, to disturb that peace.

On the other hand, manifestations of rejoicing, more or less spontaneous, appeared in all parts of the city for two or three days, in hangings from the balconies of the houses and in illumination of most of the windows

There were also parade and review of the troops of the garrison of Madrid on the afternoon of Friday, in the presence of the captain-general, by whom they were addressed, and who in reponse acclaimed Don Alfonso XII. An immense concourse of spectators witnessed the scene, conspicuous among whom were many of the ladies of Madrid.

The late ministers, including Mr. Sagasta, the republicans, such as Mr. Figueras and Mr. Castelar, and the radicals, such as Mr. Ruiz Zorrilla, all go about as usual in the consciousness of perfect personal security.

The only persons who seem to suffer are the office-holders and the newspapers. The former are resigning or being removed in considerable numbers, although many of them have been requested to remain. As to the latter, it has been edifying to see that, on the very day after the suppression of so many organs of the Alfonsinos, they were restored to life again, simultaneously with the suppression of all the republican and some of the Serranist journals. * * *

[Page 1083]

So little of the spirit of persecution is manifested by the triumphant Alfonsinos, that the Duque de la Torre himself, although, a ter resigning the command of the army of the north into the hands of General La Serna, he proceeded to France by way of Canfrauc, yet seems to have done this, not so much from personal apprehension, as in order to avoid being the cause or pretext of opposition or even of suspicion; and it is understood that he is about to return to Madrid to live in retirement with his family, the Duquesa herself having already left the British legation to occupy a private residence in the Paseo de Recoletos. It is understood that Don Alfonso will leave Paris shortly for Marseilles where he will find a squadron to conduct him first to Barcelona and then to Valencia, at each of which places he will remain long enough to be presented to the troops; that he will then come to Madrid to be crowned, and take the oath in force in the time of Queen Isabel; that he will then proceed to the Escorial, and from the Escorial to put himself at the head of the army of the north. A deputation of important persons, among whom are the Marqués de Molins, to represent the ministers; the Conde de Heredia Spinola, the nobility; Mr. Escobar, (of La Epoca,) the press, and the Conde de Valmaseda, the army, started yesterday for Marseilles, ill order there to receive Don Alfonso and conduct him to Spain.

* * * * * * *

I annex also the important manifesto lately published in the name of Don Alfonso, setting forth the principles which are professedly to preside over his government of Spain.

I abstain at present from any further comment on the subject, except to say that the new government exhibits more signs of vitality than any other which has existed in Spain since the downfall of Queen Isabel, it having in its favor the entire military force of the country, the great body of the proprietors, titled and untitled, a large proportion of the suffering clergy, and the majority of the people, who are, for the time being, thoroughly sick of revolutionary experiments, and are anxious only for the enjoyment of peace and public order, which they have not had for a moment since the battle of Alcolea, which substituted the military triumvirate of Serrano, Prim, and Topete in the place of the constitutional monarchy of Queen Isabel.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 207.—Translation.]

Proclamation of the cabinet of General Serrano denouncing the movement in favor of Prince Alfonso, December 30, 1874.

At the very moment when the chief of the state was moving the army of the north to give decisive battle against the Carlist hosts, thus making use of the immense sacrifices which the government has exacted of the country, and which the latter has given with such noble patriotism, a small force of the army of the center, led by Generals Martinez. Campos, and Jovellar, have raised, in sight of the enemy, the seditious banner of D. Alfonso de Borbon. This act, which words fail to condemn and which seeks to initiate a fresh civil war, as though the calamities of every kind which burden the country were not already enough, has, fortunately, found no echo in the armies of the north and of Catalonia, or in any of the several military districts. The government which has appealed, in the supreme circumstances in which the nation now is in the peninsula and in America, to all parties which bear the name of liberal to stifle in a common effort the aspirations of absolutism, holds an unquestionable right and even a sacred duty to qualify harshly and to chastise, with all rigor within its sphere, a [Page 1084] rebellion which, in fine, it could not favor, if it spread, any more than it could favor Carlism and demagogy, dishonoring us besides in the eyes of the civilized world. The ministry, faithful to its purposes and loyal to the solemn pledges it has given before the country and before Europe, is to-day more than ever resolved to fulfill its duty and will fulfill it.

The president of the council of ministers and minister of gobernacion,
(Signed by all the other ministers.)
[Inclosure 3 in No. 207.—Translation.]

Announcement of the regency ministry.

[From the “Gaceta de Madrid,” December 31, 1874.]


Proclaímed by the nation and the army, the King Don Alfonso de Borbon y Borbon, the case has arrived for the use of the powers which, by royal decree of the 22d of August, 1873, were conferred Upon me. In virtue thereof, and in the name of His Majesty the King, I hereby decree as follows:

The regency-ministry, which is to govern the kingdom until the arrival of the King Don Alfonso in Madrid, shall be composed, under my presidency, of the following persons: Minister of state, Don Alejandro Castro, formerly minister of the treasury and the colonies and ambassador in Rome; minister of grace and justice, Don Franciso de Cárdenas, ex-counsellor of state; minister of war, Lieutenant-General Don Joaquin Jovellar, general-in-chief of the army of the center; minister of finance, Don Pedro Salaverria, formerly minister of public works and of finance; minister of marine, Don Mariano Roca de Togo res, marques of Molins, formerly minister of marine and public works and now director of the Spanish academy; minister of gobernacion, Don Francisco Romero Robledo, ex-minister of public works; minister of public works, Don Manuel de Orovio, marquis of Orovio, formerly minister of finance and of public works; minister of ultramar, Don Adelardo Lopez de Ayala, ex-minister of ultramar,

The president of the regency-Ministry,