Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, Transmitted to Congress, With the Annual Message of the President, December 6, 1875, Volume II
Mr. Caldwell to Mr. Fish.
Montevideo , April 16, 1875. (Received May 21.)
Sir: In compliance with a special request of the minister of foreign relations, I inclose a copy of the message of the President of the Republic of Uruguay on opening the 3d period of the 11th legislature. I inclose also a translation of the same. Any peculiarities of expression that may be noticed are faithful reproductions of the original.
I respectfully call attention to the paragraph in which the President says that Uruguay will take part in our Centennial Exposition. The commissioners of this government have not yet been named, although I have repeatedly urged their prompt nomination.
Very respectfully, &c.,
Message of the President of Uruguay.
Honorable senators and representatives:
It is no mystery, for the acts are yet palpitating, that the throng of complicated events, origin of the present situation, has prevented the government from taking charge of the administrative march of its predecessor in order to give an account to the general assembly of the movements of the past year. For the moment it can barely offer you a review of the events to whose unfolding you have contributed with the most plausible patriotism and greatest efficiency. In thirty days of administration, received, if not in complete disorder, yet in a state approaching it, by the most melancholy forgetfulness and most shameful abandonment, human will and intelligence were powerless to produce all the good, and the organization which a nation, as torn as exhausted, has a right to exact and enjoy, which has lived until now cherishing hopes of prosperity with each administration to which it confided its destinies, hopes which vanished on the termination of these administrations. Two years have passed without giving solid promises, not to say a solution, to the important and vital economic and political questions which profoundly affect the well-being of the republic.
From the country were coming, to this center of population and of culture, constant complaint against the disorder and disorganization in which it lived, and a constant protest against the incessant taunts (!) of which the inhabitants of the interior were victims. If economical and political questions were treated with contempt, being treated with indifference and incapacity on the very rare occasions when attention was bestowed upon the exigencies of a situation difficult and calamitous, with not less deplorable indifference were viewed the just importunity of a people anxious to reconstruct its administrative organization, with so much the more right as its life was a long pilgrimage of continued misfortunes. In such situation—the country surrounded by dark horizons—the prospect which the future offered to its noble desires could convey to its spirit only discontent and despair. A strife having been produced, [Page 1358] perhaps without example even in those epochs where rancorous party-spirit provoked turbulent agitations of unbridled passions—where one ought to expect that the public force would serve as a moderating element—those charged with guarding the life and liberties of the people, with inexpressible stoicism, did not even employ means leading to the avoidance of shedding of blood, or preventing in open day the streets of the city from being converted into a bloody field of battle with all its sad details. Yet more, the police fired upon the people without any representative of the government attempting to prevent it, giving the monstrous example of assassinating citizens whose passions could lead them to decide their questions with arms, without making an attack upon an authority which then, and before then, already merited the end which overtook it, and to which its unpopularity led it. Not one member of the government appeared in those moments of mournful solemnity. Had there not been an honorable and valiant military force, which, having a knowledge of the duties of a soldier of democracy, hastened to put itself between the inflamed combatants, God knows what or when would have been the end of that battle, covering with mourning the society of Montevideo, and later, assuredly, the whole nation. So great apathy in presence of so great desolation, that unqualifiable retreat when there was flowing in the streets the blood of citizens engaged in strife, and even that of indifferent persons, (for in these contests it is impossible to make distinctions,) exhausted public patience; for there are moments when resignation lends itself to be interpreted as shameful cowardice. A government incompetent and more than incompetent; indolent and incapable of solving grave financial and economical questions; insensible to the claims of the organization promised in its programme; living in a little circle, and receiving thence its inspirations, with forgetfulness and belittleing of the aspirations of the country, ended by showing itself incapable of guaranteeing the life of the inhabitants of the republic, and, what is a thousand times worse, indifferent and cold before such a tremendous calamity, for it was the germ of a terrible war, if a change such as that which has taken place had not hindered with firm hand and unconquerable will the unfolding of so great a danger.
Then there was produced spontaneously the most patriotic, the most solemn, the most glorious of revolutions, and events have shown clearly that this change was not only a sentiment, but also an anxious wish of the people. Those great movements which arise, live, and consolidate themselves without meeting with resistance are the work of the clearest public opinion. The army trembled with indignation on contemplating so great injustice, for our soldiers are not automatons, insensible to the griefs and complaints of their fellow-citizens, nor unscrupulous machines to prop a crumbling and hopeless situation. A manly people, who had conquered by unheard-of efforts the right that its authorities should live in labor, and not vegetate in irritating apathy, demanded of the army that it should restore to them the forces with which they had invested it, and thus it was that army and people, without shedding a drop of blood, without committing the most insignificant excess, without taking possession, as a precautionary means, of the members of the government, without imprisoning a single citizen, and, in a word, without changing order or breaking the peace, brought about the salutary transformation which joyously salutes the nation. However vulgar it may be, it is necessary to say, that no detail may be wanting to this movement, which is the first and most notable of our political events, an absolute change in the order of things was brought about, and not a single night-guardian was absent from his post, and on the following day continued his ordinary service with the regularity of normal epochs. After a contest which held in ebullition the passions, the conquerors had sufficient strength of mind to dominate its own passions, and no one will have the right to complain of having been the victim of an excess or even of an intemperate word, things nearly inevitable in like situations, and which, even if they had occurred, do not take away the Olicy and elevated aims of a revolutionary movement. Three prefects, (Jefes Politicos,) erroneously interpreting the duty of loyalty, desired to hear from Dr. Ellauri, with the end of sustaining his authority if he so desired. The provisional government, trusting in the popularity of the revolution, and with the earnest desire of saving the country from the disturbances of a struggle, however easy and imminent a victory might be, furnished all facilities for bringing about this interview. The results, gentlemen of the senate and house of representatives, you can judge, when you call to mind that on the following day the ministers of government and war, accompanied by some citizens whose patriotic interest for peace deserves all praise, subscribed the compact recognizing the provisional government and reproducing some of the clauses of the agreement of April, which, without this, the government was disposed to respect as a national compromise. The aspirations of the government remained entirely satisfied. The designs of the revolution began to take form in a manner that authorized flattering hopes, for in a few hours the nation saw the political horizon, previously obscure, cleared; had arrived at a longed-for change of an intolerable situation without shedding a drop of blood, without altering the peace of the republic, or originating the great expenses which are the results of our revolutions. The last, the most hopeless of the chiefs, senators and representatives, have called at [Page 1359] most for the employment of some guerrillas to insure their dispersion. The past situation was destitute to such an extent of popularity and sympathy that it had not a single supporter to disquiet the country. From this its unpopularity is shown. No eloquence ban he more persuasive than the simple narration of the facts. Such was the situation when the legislative body, penetrated with the necessity of making it legal, conferred upon me the high and honorable distinction of electing me unanimously chief magistrate of the republic. Called to such high as well as difficult functions, my first impression was to offer myself as a simple workman, if such were needed, who in this humble character has always served the country, refusing consequently to discharge a principal part, which demands higher qualifications. But reasons of a higher kind, which you will easily understand, and the decided desire of contributing energetically and efficiently to the public good, have induced me to accept the post which the honorable assembly, in the name of the nation, deigned to confer on me. The programme of my government was shown on the first day, and I avail myself of this occasion to reproduce it in a few words: a revolution which was initiated without the characteristic features of war, which meets with support in the entire republic, for it knows profoundly its legitimate and pure aspirations, can produce no other government than the government of the people and for the people.
The executive power is resolved not to pass in the least beyond its duties, nor to permit the slightest transgression of its rights. It aspires to preserve an unalterable harmony between governors and governed, but if any one permits himself to interrupt this harmony by any attempt against the vote of the country, as shown by the honorable legislative body, as the government will be severe and immovable in punishing and repressing any abuse of its delegates, so it will punish with implacable severity, within the limits of the law, the disturbers of the public order. I hope this will not occur, for recent events have shown that the most solid support of the new order of things is public opinion, whence it had its origin, and has force and life. The promises which it made, far from being a chimera, are an incontestable reality. The government, interested that the credit of the nation should not suffer, especially abroad, when the revolutionary movement may take unfavorable proportions, taking into account previous events, has attended to the service of its debts with particular exactness, giving this fact as result, that the titles will increase in value. This proceeding, when in the first moments of a revolution there are unforeseen expenses for extraordinary exigencies, shows to what extent have been and will be respected the compromises of the nation, even disregarding the pressing necessities of special situations like that we were passing through. While the government which arose from a pacific situation was a delay and menace to the credit of the state, that which began by revolution has established the credit, preserving the dignity of the country. Our economic situation is a secret to nobody, as it had its origin and wide-spreading roots in the preceding administration. In fact, I am engaged in removing the gravity of so great an evil, and soon the honorable legislative body will know the views of the government, and from them I expect light and fruitful co-operation in this most difficult task. In the branch of government there has been barely time for the removal of certain prefects and their replacement by citizens no less worthy of so delicate a charge. The foreign relations are in the same condition as when the preceding administration made them known to you, with the exception of those with the Argentine government, which has just recognized ours. The existing interruption is in process of arrangement, to which end Don Francisco Bauza has been sent in character of confidential agent, who has been received with marks of regard and distinction. The government has received with pleasure the official visit of the distinguished members of the diplomatic corps resident in the republic, and I have the pleasure to announce to you that these agents, on recognizing the actual government, have expressed their sincere desire for the peace of the republic and the advancement of the Oriental people. The installation of the new government has been communicated to foreign governments, and its desire to preserve and draw closer the cordial relations which ought to bind all nations. The republic will take part in the exposition of the United States and Chili, for which they were seasonably invited. To this end orders will be given that she may be worthily represented. Because of recent events, a part of the army was put on a war-footing, and to this end possesses the armament most favorably known. As it was impossible in the first moments to find the number of arms necessary for all the army, a contract has been made, and in a short time the minister of war will receive the quantity of Remingtons needed, as well as a battery of Krupps of the most improved system. When the army of the three arms is put in this condition, it will furnish greater guarantees for preserving tranquillity, attending at the same time to better public service. I ought to make especial mention of the army in the moments which the country has just passed through. Its chiefs, distinguished soldiers, have known how to impress on their soldiers a morale and discipline worthy of all consideration. As I have shown, in the rapid exposition I have made, the government has not had time to give a minute and exact account of all the incidents that have occurred. Shortly the reports which will be sent you by the respective ministers will give you [Page 1360] a more exact account, if I have omitted anything in this exposition, which should inform you that as you have not yet received the reports for the year 1873, and as I have just received the government, and as the antecedents which ought to exist for the year 1844 do not exist, they must he collected to comply with a constitutional provision.
Meantime, I congratulate myself on being able to declare open the ordinary sessions of the third period of the eleventh legislature.