No. 531.
Mr. Cushing to Mr. Fish.

No. 337.]

Sir: The chief subject of interest in Madrid at the present moment is the public disclosure of the large number of arbitrary deportations carried into effect by the party of the revolution, as they are sometimes called, comprehending the liberals, radicals, republicans, and constitutionals of the various administrations which have ruled Spain since the overthrow of Queen Isabel.

It is one of the characteristic traits of all these parties that they do not possess the discretion and self-control either to frame or to administer a practicable constitution. While in opposition, they attack without measure, and in their declamatory speeches and writings commit themselves to extravagant doctrines which are of impossible application in power. Hence the adoption of a constitution is speedily followed by a legislative act suspending its guarantees. Hence, also, the loudest professions of adhesion to parliamentary forms is accompanied by systematic disregard of the fundamental idea of such government, namely, in legislation by executive decrees and orders, and in the imposition of taxes and appropriation of the public moneys without authorization by the Cortes.

In the matter of private rights the inconsequence of these parties has been equally conspicuous. They commence with such exaggerated assertion of private rights as, if observed, would render all government impossible, and then proceed in total disregard of all private rights to a degree utterly unknown at the present time to any of the most despotic governments in Europe.

Mr. Castelar is a conspicuous example of these contradictions. His writings and speeches abound with declamatory assertions of impracticable theory, with advocacy of retraimientos, that is, withdrawal from legitimate political opposition at the polls, to conspire in pretended retirement, and, strangest of all on the part of a theoretical republican in praise of military pronunciamentos. Of course, when in office, he turns his back on all these absurdities, and loudly condemns in others what he had systematically preached as political truth.

Others of the same visionary school, when placed in power, have frankly confessed the impossibility of governing according to their professions, and have resigned rather than subject themselves to the charge of inconsequence and self-contradiction, such as Mr. Salmeron and Mr. Pí y Margall.

The deportation question curiously illustrates this defect of true statesmanship.

The constitution adopted in 1869, which the self-styled liberals assume as the embodiment of their political creed, enacts that no person shall be detained over twenty-four hours without being delivered to the proper court for trial; that no person shall be imprisoned except by judicial authority; that private domicile is sacred; that no person shall be compelled to change his place of abode otherwise than by executory judicial sentence 5 and that no law or other disposition shall be established to limit any of these personal immunities.

I say nothing at present of constitutional provisions which profess to secure liberty of press, speech, and public assembly, or those which require that all laws shall be passed, all taxes imposed, and all appropriations [Page 1110] made solely by authority of Cortes; all which provisions are and always have been substantially a dead letter.

Now, it happened a few days since that two or three of the professors of the university, officers appointed and paid by the government, and subject by express laws to its discretion and discipline, undertook to quarrel with the government because of a circular of instructions issued by the minister of fomento. An account of this affair will be given to you in another dispatch. Dissatisfied with the conduct of these professors, the government contented itself with requiring them to leave Madrid and take up their residence in some other part of Spain.

Discontented parties at once seized on this act to indulge in the most vehement inculpation of the government for alleged arbitrary violation of private rights and of the letter of the existing constitution. The organs of the government defended the act on legal grounds. But the question of the legality of this act was lost sight of very soon in a larger question.

Among the journals which vehemently attacked the government two were conspicuous, the Pueblo, belonging to Mr. Garcia Ruiz, and the Iberia, belonging to Mr. Sagasta, who had been each ministers of gohernacion in so-called liberal or constitutional cabinets.

Thereupon came to light (indirectly, on disclosure by the present government, we may suppose) that Mr. Garcia Ruiz had himself as minister authorized or participated in the arbitrary deportation of some fourteen hundred persons to the Marian Islands, the Spanish Botany Bay, in addition to multitudes arbitrarily confined in Spain or its colonies by similar unconstitutional administrative orders of other liberal ministers; to all which the attention of the actual government had been called, partly in consequence of the general act of indulto for such cases lately granted by the King, (copy and translation of which are hereto annexed,) and partly in consequence of a demand from the governor of the Filipinas for a large sum of money to save the host of deportados from starving in the desolate Marian Islands.

The retort was a terrible one. These deportations had been concealed from outside notice or commentary at the time they occurred. As arbitrary acts, they so much exceeded in number and degree anything done or imagined by this or any other royal government of Spain in modern times as to produce a profound impression on the public mind and spread consternation in the opposition camp.

“Behold the statesmen,” said the Alfonsinos, “whose creed is the assertion of ‘inalienable and imprescriptible rights, anterior and superior to all human society!’ These are the men who, while complaining that half a dozen mischievous persons are merely invited by the king’s government to leave the court, have themselves deported fourteen hundred persons to the ends of the earth without trial, besides crowding we know not how many others into the jails and presidios of Spain. These are the men whose victims are now crying to Heaven for relief, and are receiving it from the indulgent hands of King Alfonso!”

How many persons have been thus imprisoned in jails and presidios it does not yet appear. They began, it is said, with detentions at the African presidio of Ceuta, dating back to the time of Mr. Salmeron and Mr. Castelar, and continued during the first and so-called liberal cabinet of President Serrano.

Of the deportations we now have some precise information; for Mr. Garcia Ruiz, stung to the quick by the manifestations of public indignation, and silenced as journalist, stepped forth into personal publicity in a letter to the “Impartial,” of which translation is annexed.

[Page 1111]

He admits in substance that in the time of his ministry two hundred and seventy-seven persons were thus deported; but he insists on charging eighty eight of these to previous orders of Mr. Salmeron, Mr. Castelar, and Mr. Maisonnave; and he proceeds to say that one thousand of the whole number of fourteen hundred are chargeable to the subsequent ministry of Mr. Sagasta.

That blow struck home; for Mr. Sagasta’s newspaper had also, in the matter of the rebellious professors, undertaken to censure the government. He felt constrained to make personal explanation, translation of which is annexed. He speaks in a more manly spirit than Mr. Garcia Ruiz, as might have been expected, from the different characters of the two persons; he defends the deportations on the ground of political expediency, which, if admitted, effectually dispels any dream of constitutional free government in Spain.

These disclosures, addressing themselves as they do to the comprehension of all persons, high and low, are operating to the immense discredit of the implicated political parties or factions.

The discussion has drawn forth a letter from Mr. Salmeron, absolutely denying any action of his in the matter; and also another from Mr. Maisonnave, in which he admits sending persons to Ceuta, how many he does not remember, but asserts that it was for the object of provisional or temporary detention merely, and disavows any responsibility for their subsequent deportation to the Marian Islands.

That explanation leaves standing an issue between Mr. Maisonnave and Mr. Garcia Ruiz, and also leaves unexplained the violation of law by the former in not bringing to trial the persons at Ceuta during five months, which is quite as much a violation of constitution as the act of deportation itself.

Indeed Mr. Garcia Ruiz objects that the eighty-eight persons sent to Ceuta came there with professed destination to the Filipinas.

Public attention has been called to this matter, not only by the before mentioned decree of indulto, but also by a decree making appropriation to pay the expenses of the deportations, for which the previous governments neglected to make provision.

I annex an article of the Epoca which sums up the whole matter, in the sense, of course, of making the most of it, to the advantage of D. Alfonso.

It mainly serves, in my estimation, to show that not one of these personal factious is entitled to any special or exclusive sympathy on the part of the United States.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 337.—-Translation.]

Royal decree concerning political detenidos, February 13, 1875.

[From the “Gaceta de Madrid,” February 14, 1875.]

In attention to the reason set forth by my minister of gobernacion, in accord with the council of ministers,

I hereby decree the following:

  • Article 1. The governors of the provinces, where there are persons detained for political occurrences in jails, arsenals, and penal prisons, without the character of prisoners of war, shall draw up a report in order to exhibit the number and the individual circumstances of those under detention; shall immediately deliver into the power of [Page 1112] the competent courts those who are shown to be subject to criminal responsibility, in order to follow, with respect to them, the procedure which may be in order; and of the rest shall give account to the government, in order that the latter may accord their liberty.
  • Art. 2. The report shall extend to the persons transported to the transmarine provinces, who shall have been sent from each of the places of detention or penal establishments, and the captains-general of those islands shall give account of those who may be found therein, in the form established in the first article for those under detention, to the end that the government may accord their return to the Peninsula.
  • Art. 3. By the ministers of gobernacion and of ultramar will be communicated all the necessary orders for the execution and fulfillment of this decree.

Rubricated by the royal hand.
The minister of gohernacion,
[Inclosure 2 in No. 337.—Translation.]

Mr. Garcia Ruiz to El Impartial.

[From “El Impartial,” Madrid, April 8, 1875.]

To the Director of the “Impartial:”

Sir: I shall be grateful to you if you will give place in your popular journal to the following lines, for which will be thankful your most affectionate friend and servant, who kisses your hand,


I saw last night, casually, for I am not in the habit of reading the Correspondencia, that that journal knowingly errs in stating on its own account (or of others) that the deportations which, for political motives, were made, according to what is said by some newspapers, to the number of 1,300 during the last year, took place in the time of Mr. Garcia Ruiz, immediately after the 3d of January, that journal thereby endeavoring to cause the odium of all the imprisonments and deportations to fall upon me personally, leaving therefore untouched Mr. Sagasta and other ministers of his political color. Vain task and insensate pretension!

I, who always have said and will say the truth, even when it be against myself, because I am one of those who believe (and events justify me therein) that only with truth and good faith can anything be established in the world, must put in evidence the following facts, which I am ready to prove now and at any time and place:

  • First. Apart from what the captains-general did in several districts, not a single imprisonment, still less deportation, was decreed while I was minister of gohernacion, which was not agreed upon in council of ministers, being entered in the minute-book, kept by the secretary, Mr. Balagner, in respect to which I always insisted that the proceeding should be in due order, for I knew my isolated position in the ministry of the 3d of January, and I knew beforehand that time would bring with it complaints, accusations, and even calumnies, of all of which I did not wish to bear more than the share that belonged to me.
  • Second. In the time of Mr. Garcia Ruiz, as the Correspondentia says, when it should have said in the time of the Duke de la Torre, Messrs. Sagasta, Zavala, Martos Garcia, Garcia Ruiz, &c., there were deported, by formal and solemn accord of the council of ministers, only 143 Cantonalists, made prisoners in Cartagena, who were turned over by the military authorities under the orders of the government in Almeria, at which point the steamer touched in order to take them on board, and 134 civilians, prisoners at Centa, the greater number (88) sent thither in the time of Messrs. Salmeron, Castelar, Maisonnave, in consequence of the events in Andalucia, &c., and the remainder (46) prisoners in Madrid not for political opinions, but because they were guilty of common crimes, as relapsed thieves and discharged (or licensed) convicts of evil life and habits.
  • Third. All the remaining persons deported were sent away in the time of Mr. Sagasta to the number of 1,000, which is known not through the person who may have said so to the Correspondencia, but through the agency of the steamers which took the prisoners to the Philippine Islands, with the dates of their departure from port.
  • Fourth. The first vessel which, by accord of the council of ministers, (the list of them being read name by name,) took to the Philippine Islands the 134 persons deported from Ceuta and Madrid, and the 143 from Cartagena, 277 in all, which was the steamer “Leon,” set sail the 16th of May, 1874, and not immediately after the 3d of January; as also set sail from the same port the Irurac-bat with 696 deported persons on the 10th [Page 1113] of October following, and the Leon, (second voyage,) with 300 other deported persons on the 23d of November last.
  • Fifth and last. I do not rest under the charge of having imprisoned or deported any individual on my own representations, and if as minister I acceded to what the others proposed and in the degree already stated with respect to the cabinet of the 3d of January, it was because the ministry unanimously believed it necessary and salutary to send beyond the seas a few persons whom they judged to be dangerous, whether as common criminals or whether compromised by the events of Cartagena, and when, society being enervated, the civil war was raging with more strength than ever.

To sum up, during the ministry of the 3d of January, which fell on the 13th of May, there were only deported for civil causes 46 persons, all common and relapsed criminals.


[Inclosure 3 in No. 337.—Translation.]

Extract from an editorial article published in the “Iberia” Mr. Sagasta’s organ.

deportations to the philippine islands.

[From “La Politico,” Madrid, April 8, 1875.]

The Iberia makes important explanations with respect to the matter of the deportations to the Philippine Islands. Our colleague says:

“The Epoca reminds us that the deportations alluded to began on a large scale when the republican, Mr. Garcia Ruiz, was minister of gobernacion, Mr. Martors of grace and justice, and Mr. Echegary of finance. It behooves us to add that the presiding officer of that ministry was General Zavala, figuring in it beside our esteemed and dear friends Messrs. Sagasta, Topete, and Balaguer.

“Such were the members of the cabinet which ‘appointed itself,’ according to the expression used by the Imparcial, in 1875, (sic; should be 1874,) and which the Epoca considers graphic, without remembering that this capricious phrase may find other applications.

“We do not, therefore, under any strict and absolute obligation, to assume all the responsibility of those deportations. We assume it, nevertheless, resolutely and completely, for in this manner will ever act the present management of the Iberia whenever it is interested in acts which may partially or wholly pertain to the constitution party.

“With respect to those deported, whom the Epoca calls ‘unhappy,’ we confine ourselves for to-day to declaring that they were for the greater part the prime actors in the drama whose successive stages Spain will ever remember in the names of Montilla, Seville, Alcoy, Cadiz, Malaga, Valencia, Catalonia, and so many others, persons whose lot we pitied then and pity still more now, without other journals being able to outdo us in this feeling of pity, but persons also who had contributed collectively to perpetrate those grave acts, and who could not have been in every case submitted to the investigation and judgment of a court, because the courts for a long time lacked the means and forces necessary to inquire into and even decide upon the cases in which their action would have had to be concreted upon determinate individuals, and many more months would infallibly have been required to enable the judges to pronounce any exemplary sentence, when so many so severe, and so energetic examples were demanded by the state of the country.

“This being stated, we have only to add that of the deportations mentioned, which were unknown, it is said, to all the country, full knowledge was possessed by all the prominent political men even to the leaders of the most advanced parties, it having sufficed on several occasions that the most pronounced republicans should give assurance that a deported person was banished solely because of his political opinions to have the order revoked, and even to have the voyage interrupted, after it had begun, by means of a telegraphic communication.

“In order to respond to the fullest extent respecting the assertions made by the “Impartial,” and to know how far the decisions of the governments constituted during the year 1874 were influenced by the state of slavery in which the press then was, it would be necessary for us to know how many and which journals were suspended, fined, or seized because of taking up the question of the deportations. We much fear that the number will be found small; perhaps that not one journal will be found in that category, and this notwithstanding that up to the beginning of the present year there were published various republican newspapers, and one which, without declaring it, was Carlist.

“In return, we recall that many journals, toward the end of 1873, and a considerable number after the commencement of 1874, demanded, at all times and in every possible [Page 1114] tone, persevering energy, salutary rigor, decision, and untiring activity, until the Spanish social structure should be restored to complete tranquillity and genuine quietude. But not in vain do the times pass and change.

“Our readers assuredly will not expect that, imitating the Epoca, we shall compare those circumstances and the motive’s of those deportations with the situation in which the country is to-day and the banishment of professors.”

[Inclosure 4 in No. 337.—Translation.]

Deportations to the Philippine Islands.

* * * * * * *

From all this it results that, in 1873 and 1874—that is to say; in the two years of the Spanish republic—deportations took place while Mr. Garcia Ruiz was minister of gohernacion, before he held that office, and after he held it. Political prisoners and those suspected of common crimes were deported. Deportations were ordered by the captains-general and by the council of ministers. The Cantonalists were sent to Ceuta. There were embanked and taken to the Marian Islands those re-convicted of theft and convicts on ticket-of-leave, as well as persons deemed to be of ill life and manners. The initiative of this system was taken under the government of Mr. Castelar, and it was broadened and strengthened by that created on the 2d of January, and by that which came to an end on the 30th of December; and still these statistics, so varied and so abundant, in data of different kinds, are not complete unless they be limited exclusively to the enforced voyages to the other side of the waters, since, as one of our colleagues opportunely recalls to mind, there do not figure in these statistics the enforced voyages made, for example, about a year ago, by Mr. Cazurro and Mr. Chico de Guzman.

And the most notable thing about it is, that all this has been, for the greater part, unknown to the public, the present polemic having been needed in order to disclose such charming facts and such beautiful theories.

There is nothing left to say now concerning illimitable rights and the minute guarantees with which they were surrounded by the constitution of 1869; the only novelty , is in the unembarrassed freedom with which Mr. Garcia Ruiz considers as deportable matter, by mere executive order, reconvicted thieves, ticket-of-leave convicts, and people of ill life and manners. The partisans of the revolution, in spite of the importance they gave to questions of penal right, even to the point of raising some of their number to the highest positions in the state for the single merit of professing determinate ideas thereon, have not done anything to ameliorate the penitentiary system. Their pompous programmes, their severe inflexibility, which carried them even to suppressing the right of pardon, their exaggerated theories as to the nature of the penalty of which they devised the enormous paradox of regarding as a right of the criminal, were about on a-par with what we read in the communication of Mr. Garcia Ruiz. They did not establish penitentiaries in the peninsula and in the colonies, but they dragged to the Marian Islands hundreds of persons not judicially condemned. It was never seen that the new legal recourses invented in order that Spanish citizens might exact responsibility of the governmental and judicial authorities was a practical truth, and, on the contrary, one of the oldest and most constant defenders of the revolutionary doctrines believes that when an attempt is made to know what were the guarantees of security when the deportations were decreed, the public can be satisfied with the statement that the names of the victims were read one by one in council of ministers, or the other statement that not even the minister of gohernacion assumed the responsibility and the direction of what was decreed in so delicate a matter. Nothing, in more than six years, was executed or even attempted in order to imitate in our country the experiments and the institutions which in other countries have had for their object the rehabilitation by means of honest labor, and through the normal conditions of family and of society, of those who are set at liberty from convict prisons; and, instead of this, we find that, without trial and without judicial intervention, executive condemnation to the most cruel punishments was pronounced against those who had already fulfilled the penalties imposed on them conformably to law. By their manifestations of horror at the death-penalty and at all life-sentences, they initiated grave conflicts, they fomented the indiscipline of the army, and they aroused more than one political crisis; but at the same time that they denied to society the right of self-defense against the criminals duly declared such-by the tribunals of justice, they gave to the Spanish government the power of imposing upon Spanish citizens whose delinquency was not proved a punishment which in very many cases, perhaps in a majority of the cases, would cause the death of the persons so punished.

If experience does not serve to make the people understand the revolutionary leaders, it will not be because the lesson has failed to be instructive and eloquent.