No. 61.
Mr. Wullweber to Mr. Fish.

No. 33.]

Sir: I have the honor to transmit (inclosure No. 1) an extract from yesterday’s El Nacional, the official paper of the Ecuadorian government, accompanied by a translation thereof, as (inclosure No. 2) containing a proclamation of President Borrero, in which he refuses to convoke a constitutional convention. This denial of immediate reforms advocated by citizens of Ecuador along the coast, as reported in my dispatch No. 27, is believed by some to create a revolutionary movement, while the majority of the people, at least at the capital, remain inapprehensive, as heretofore, and determined to support the government.

I have, &c.,


Antonio Borrero, constitutional President of the republic, to the Ecuadorians.

Fellow-citizens: Four months ago I took charge of the power which you saw fit to confer upon me.

Thirty-nine thousand votes, voluntarily and spontaneously cast, drew me away from the retirement of my home in order to place into my hands the reins of government. [Page 102] If I had obeyed the impulses of my heart simply, I should have declined to accept the office which you have imposed upon me, for I have never, at any time, aspired to the supreme magistracy; but, as a citizen and Ecuadorian, I had to follow the call of the country before listening to the voice of my private conveniences. It is true, I knew myself without strength and intelligence to rule with success; but I knew at the same time that I would find that strength and intelligence in the distinguished citizens of the republic. I called, therefore, to the wheel of government illustrious men who honor our country, without paying attention to their political color, because I did not come to rule with hatred and vengeance, but with self-denial and patriotism. This conduct, worthy of praise in every Christian and civilized nation, has received in ours a severe criticism on the part of the press of a certain political color, a censure very natural in a country where toleration of different opinions and a government of the people and for the people have been entirely unknown.

When taking possession of the office I swore before God and that body which represents the nation “to protect and see protected the constitution” which rules us, because you had elected me President by command of that constitution, and because, without confirming the same with my oath, I should not have been able to exercise the authority with which I found myself invested.

The constitution, therefore, is the only title which legalizes my power; and the moment I should break the same by calling a convention or a constitutional congress, as has been solicited, against the will of the entire nation, by at most a few thousands of Ecuadorians, I would convert my constitutional and legitimate authority into a power purely discretionary and arbitrary. The bond of union between the governor and the governed once broken, neither the former has any right to rule, nor the latter any obligation to obey. The constitution of the republic once violated by myself, I could not continue to rule, nor would you be under any obligation to respect my authority, for I would have deprived myself of the same by assuming the dictature.

When I delivered my inaugural address, I proclaimed to you that the constitution ought to be reformed, and I told you that the Congress, before whose president I took the constitutional oath, had already initiated important reforms. These reforms will be, within one year and a few months, an integral part of the constitution; and in three years and a few months from now will the constitution be changed and reformed to the extent that the political welfare, the principles of constitutional sciences, and the peculiar necessities of our country may advise us to change and reform the same. Three years and a few months, then, is the shortest time which Ecuador needs to reform her institutions, to-day indeed defective and imperfect, but not to such an extent as to be incompatible with a republican government, since the magistrate who is bound to see them respected is animated by patriotism, disinterestedness, loyalty, and good faith.

So weighty are the motives which force me to deny, in conformity to the national vote and the advice of the council of state, the convocation of a convention; thus refusing, upon mature and considerate reflection, the request which some citizens have directed to me on the subject. If patriotism and conscience could force me to the indispensable sacrifice of my repose, in order to correspond with the confidence of the people in accepting the supreme power, conscience and patriotism tell me that nothing can nor ought to force me to the unjustifiable sacrifice of the duties which you have imposed upon me.

Fellow-patriots: The four months of my administration, under the rule of the constitution as it is, demonstrate practically, by deeds which speak very loud, much louder, without doubt, than words of visionary politicians, that the public liberties and individual guarantees are not incompatible with our mode and manner of governing. The liberty of suffrage and of the press, the right of petitioning and associating, the inviolability of human life, of property and domicile, the security of the individual, in a word, all just and legitimate liberties and rights, have been scrupulously respected, to the extreme that the government has been accused of lack of strength and energy when alone it was toleration of different opinions and the highest regard for individual guarantees, [that influenced the government.] A government which has a legitimate and popular origin, and consequently the consciousness of its right, does not need, like tyrannical and oppressive governments, the state of siege and drumhead court-martials as the ordinary means of protecting themselves against the conflicts which from time to time might threaten them.

In some foreign periodical it has been said by somebody, who without doubt did not know what he said, that I did not convoke the convention because an avaricious desire of power would not permit me to do so; and that power is to me such a burden (I say it with the characteristic sincerity of my nature) that I would cast off the same even to-day, heartily glad, and retire to the tranquil home of private life, if you yourselves had not imposed upon me the sacred duty of preserving the constitutional order and the peace of the republic, which, as a distinguished American has well said, “are the honor and the highest good of the nation.” The ardent desire of duty, therefore, is the only cause which restrains me from committing perjury in an awful [Page 103] and scandalous manner and from making myself guilty of an enormous crime against God and society by exposing, perchance, the fate of our beloved country to the furies of a turbulent demagogism.

Ecuadorians, one and all, continue, as you have done until now, to surround and support the government, the only legitimate government which we have had, as it is the first which you have elected with full liberty during the forty-six years of our existence as an independent and sovereign nation. This government, I assure you, will not be that of a dictature, which humiliates and debases nations, but that of justice and liberty, which elevate and exalt the same.

  • The minister of the interior and foreign affairs—
  • The minister of the treasury—
  • The minister of war and the navy—