No. 222.
Mr. Richardson to Mr. Fish.

No. 446.]

Sir: The third session of the eighth Mexican Congress opened on the 16th instant with the customary ceremonies. I transmit herewith a copy of President Lerdo’s address on that occasion with a translation of the same.

Contrary to general expectation, the 16th, which is the anniversary of Mexican independence, passed off without any disturbance; the new cabinet officers have quietly entered upon the discharge of their duties, and everything is peaceful about the capital.

I am, &c.,


President Lerdo’s address on the opening of Congress, September 16, 1876.

[From the “Two Republics.”]

Citizen Deputies and Senators: In compliance with a constitutional precept to-day, the anniversary of our independence, you inaugurate the third term of your ordinary sessions.

This event, which under all circumstances has a special significance, is at present of greater importance, because it reveals the power of our institutions over armed rebellion, strengthening the conviction that the nation will know how to surmount all obstacles that may be opposed to her progress and well-being, without doubts for the present and without fears for the future.

Our relations with the friendly foreign powers have continued in the greatest harmony, it being a source of satisfaction that they are maintained and each day strengthened, cultivated as they are in a spirit of justice and cordial good-will.

On the termination in January of this year of the labors of the mixed commission, created in Washington by the convention of the 4th of July, 1868, numerous claims remained pending, which, on account of the disagreement of the commissioners, were remitted to the arbiter for his decision. As the stipulated time for the latter was relatively short, it was indispensable to agree to a prolongation, which was adjusted in April and will terminate next November.

Although as yet it is impossible to know the full result of the decisions of the commission [Page 414] mission and the arbiter, it can be stated that of the enormous sum of $550,000,000 claimed of Mexico, the hundredth part will not be recognized.

It is pleasing to be able to manifest to Congress that our modest representation in the Exposition of Philadelphia has been duly appreciated, surpassing what might have been expected owing to the difficulties of our situation. If Mexico has not sent to the Exposition all that we might have desired, nor that which under ordinary circumstances could have been sent, at least there have been presented in it a few of the evidences of our social advancement, of our industry, and of our valuable natural products, thus stimulating the greater development of our export commerce, of our agriculture, and of our national industry.

The inability to state on this important occasion, as in former epochs, that peace is assured throughout the whole extent of the republic is to be regretted. Nevertheless, some consolation for so great a calamity is found in being able to inform Congress that all guarantees have been respected, that the most absolute liberty has existed in every sense without limit, and that the repressive laws, notwithstanding the dangers of the situation, have not been practically applied, except in very rare cases and with full justice.

The disastrous consequences of civil war, so sad for society, the forces of which are completely enervated, and so injurious to the public administration, whose elements and resources, at all times insufficient, are diminished in a great measure by the disturbance of order at the same time that its necessities are multiplied, are to be deplored.

The financial question has at all times been one of those which has most seriously occupied the attention of the administration. Although it was far from being resolved in former years, by a series of administrative measures and with the aid of Congress, a positive advance leading to the important object of regulating the expenses of the administration, equalizing the receipts and disbursements, had been secured.

These hopes have been postponed by the rebellion, as has been the accomplishment of many internal improvements. Nevertheless, the efforts of the executive to preserve some works of public utility, and to continue as far as possible others, are well known. The telegraph-lines that extend over the territory of the republic, and which are as useful for the administrative service as necessary to commerce and all social relations, have been under constant repair in some places, and completely replaced in others.

During the times of trial for the Mexican nation is when the qualities of her sons are elevated. Acknowledgment is due to the valor, discipline, and civic virtues of the army, that with abnegation and patriotism, struggling with discomforts of the season, and at times without the necessary elements, has loyally complied with its duty, holding high the banner of our republican institutions, and making a true religion of the respect which all of us owe to the law. It has been seconded in this noble task by the corps of the rural police, with a constancy, activity, and valor indeed laudable.

Our revenue-cutters, although insufficient on account of their limited number, have commenced to render efficient service. Small, indeed, is the sum invested in them, considering the frequent and serious damages that revolts usually cause in some of our ports, and which those vessels have contributed to prevent; having been also employed in the transportation of troops and elements of war, as well as in several military operations, which, by their co-operation, have been crowned with success.

The present rebellion is the same that has been combated and conquered in former years. The foreign intervention having been defeated and the republic restored, our institutions remained assured, with all the principles established with them. Since then the cause of the disturbers has been simply that of satisfying personal ambitions; at times without mask, and at others disguised in the garments of the constitution, they have been for eight years trying to destroy it, breaking every social tie, trampling upon all legitimate interests, and perpetrating offenses that can never be justified in the eyes of the civilized world, not even by the necessities of the time.

Fortunately the nation, that loves the institutions she has created, and that relies on them to assure her future, will know how to preserve them without a stain. The present rebellion has been successfully combated—it being impossible to doubt its termination—by the general good disposition of the people, who condemn it. The executive being guided by these sentiments, and relying on the co-operation of all good Mexicans, will continue to make every effort to insure a solid and permanent peace.

It is very satisfactory that you again unite, citizen deputies and senators, for the purpose of resolving upon, with your patriotic zeal and enlightened legislation, whatever may be necessary for the welfare and prosperity of the republic.