No. 56.
Mr. Hilliard to Mr. Evarts.

No. 22.]

Sir: The arrival of the first steamship of the new line between New York and this city bearing the name of the capital of the empire, the City of Rio de Janeiro, is an event of so much interest and importance that it may be regarded as marking an epoch in the commercial relations of the United States and Brazil. It has been the occasion for the display of so much interest on the part of the imperial government as to constitute it an event of national importance. Soon after my arrival here, Mr. William P. Tisdel, agent for Messrs. Roach & Sons, waited on me and laid his plans before me for establishing a line of first-class steamships between New York and Rio de Janeiro. He requested me to aid him in obtaining the favorable consideration of the imperial government for his enterprise. I heartily approved Mr. Tisdel’s plans, and I did not hesitate to aid him with my good offices in the accomplishment of his important object.

In my speech to the Emperor on the occasion of my presentation to His Majesty, I spoke of the importance of the relations between the United States and Brazil, and expressed the wish that some measures might be provided for more rapid transit between the two countries. I brought the subject, too, to the attention of several members of the ministry, and persevered in manifesting my interest in the adoption of some measure by the imperial government to provide for the establishment of the proposed line of steamships until I had the gratification to witness [Page 68] the final success of the plan submitted by Messrs. Roach & Sons through Mr. Tisdel, their agent.

With the sagacity and energy that distinguish this gentleman, he was able to conclude a contract with this government, which secured for the line of steamships the sum of $100,000 in gold per annum, to be paid in installments from time to time, after the arrival of the first vessel at this port.

Some months since a change of ministry took place; the liberals coming into power pledged to effect certain reforms, and especially to enforce a system of rigid economy in the expenditures of the government. I did not know how the contract entered into with Messrs. Roach & Sons might be affected by this event.

When the contract was concluded, it was understood that the chambers would meet in May, and the subject was to be submitted to them that an appropriation might be made in accordance with its terms. But upon the accession of the new ministry to power, the Emperor in the exercise of his constitutional authority, dissolved the Chamber of Representatives and ordered a new election to take place in November. The general assembly will not meet until December. I was therefore much gratified to learn that the new ministry favors the measure providing for the establishment of the steamship line between New York and Rio de Janeiro. In an interview with Senator de Sinimbu, the premier, I found that he regards the contract with Messrs. Roach & Sons with much favor. He is a statesman of large views, and comprehends the importance of such a plan for the encouragement of commerce between the United States and Brazil.

The Emperor is earnestly disposed to promote it; he is sincerely friendly to the United States, and the contract for the line of steamships which will so much facilitate rapid transit between our country and Brazil has his hearty approval.

The City of Rio de Janeiro arrived in this port on Wednesday morning, May 29, with everything favorable, the sky unclouded and the sea calm. I took the earliest opportunity to go on board and welcome the vessel.

I had an audience of the Emperor on Saturday evening, at the palace of San Christevas, and he made the arrival of the new ship the topic of conversation. He had accepted an invitation to visit the ship on the following Monday, and His Majesty evidently anticipated the event with much pleasure. He said that the Empress would accompany him, and when I took leave of him, after an extended conversation, he said cordially, “Adieu until 11 o’clock on Monday.”

On Monday everything was propitious for the visit of their Imperial Majesties, the weather was perfect, the beautiful bay was smooth, and as the imperial yacht came up to the side of the City of Rio de Janeiro the Emperor and Empress, attended by the ministers of state, with a splendid suite, were received on board the ship with a welcome so cordial and so respectful that they were evidently gratified. The arrangements for the reception could not have been improved. I received their Majesties as they entered the saloon, and the Emperor extended his hand to me in recognition of the greeting that I gave him, and at once entered into conversation in a way that gave to his visit all the ease of social intercourse.

Soon after His Majesty expressed a wish to see the machinery of the vessel, and was conducted below by Captain Weir, where I learn he made a most thorough examination. I had the honor to conduct the Empress to the upper deck, and she seated herself in the large and [Page 69] handsome state-room of the captain, where she for some time received visitors, and several ladies and gentlemen of our country were presented to Her Majesty. After His Majesty’s return from an examination of the vessel the party were invited to the saloon and partook of the splendid lunch which had been prepared for their entertainment. I was invited by His Majesty to take a seat by the side of the Empress, having on my right the Premier Councilor de Sinimbu, and next to him was the minister for foreign affairs, Baron de Villa Bella. Several tables were spread, and some sixty persons were seated. Captain Weir advanced and addressed a few words of welcome to their Majesties. I then rose and made a short speech to His Majesty and the Empress, which he acknowledged in a few kind words. Some few minutes later Councilor de Sinimbu rose and responded to my speech in terms that gratified me greatly, both for its tribute to our country and his reference to me personally as the representative of the United States.

I inclose a copy of the speeches; printed in the Anglo-Brazilian Times, an English paper published here. His Majesty conversed with me very freely, and evidently recalled the incidents of his visit to our country vividly and with great pleasure. He spoke of you in a way that showed his knowledge of you as a statesman, and asked after “Mr. Hamilton Fish” with interest. He said to me that he knew the President, and that he had met him in Philadelphia at the Exposition.

After lunch their Majesties visited the upper deck, where the Emperor received a number of gentlemen and the Empress took a seat and was surrounded by ladies.

After having passed some three hours on board, the Emperor did me the favor to invite me to assist Her Majesty to descend to the saloon and to conduct her to the side of the ship upon their departure.

The whole reception was in every respect most creditable to those who extended the invitation to their Majesties; it was at once splendid and hospitable, and while it was an occasion of rare pleasure to all who were present, none seemed to enjoy it more than their Imperial Majesties.

The City of Rio de Janeiro sailed for New York on Wednesday, June 5, carrying, I learn, some 37,000 sacks of coffee, valued at about $700,000, the largest and most valuable cargo that any ship has ever taken from this port.

I hope that our government will give to this line of steamships a generous and steady support. It is of the highest importance at this time to encourage American interests in this country. It affords a field for the employment of our capital, for the display of our energy and skill, a market for our products and our manufactures with this great country, should our commerce grow into that large prosperity by which the interests of both nations will be advanced.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure in No. 22.]

arrival of the city of rio de janeiro.

Since the arrival of the magnificent steamship City of Rio de Janeiro, she has been visited by hundreds of people, and has been the topic of conversation among all who take the slightest interest in the development of the two Americas.

On the 3d of June their Majesties the Emperor and Empress, accompanied by a large number of Brazilian statesmen, visited the ship about which so much has been said. Among the distinguished visitors we noticed the president of the council, the minister of marine, the American and French ministers, Visconde de Rio Branco, Baron de S. Domingos, [Page 70] Senator Leitāo da Cunha, Senator Silveira da Motta, Dr. Buarque de Macedo, Captain Mayo, commanding the Hartford, his lady, and a number of other ladies of distinction, native and foreign.

His Imperial Majesty, as is customary with him, visited the vessel thoroughly from stem to stern, descending into the engine-rooms and examining the splendid machinery with a zest that gave no heed to damage to his toilet.

After a minute examination was made of the tine vessel and its beautiful and comfortable accommodations for passengers, a profuse and delicious lunch, equal to any that even the famous Delmonico has produced, and well supplied with wines of the choicest vintages, was served to the guests, who received from Captain Weir, Mr. Tisdel, and Dr. Wilson the heartiest of welcomes and the kindest of attentions. Before, however, lunch commenced, Captain Weir addressed a few words to their Imperial Majesties, thanking them for the high honor they had done the ship, and all connected with it, by their visit.

Mr. Hilliard, the American minister, said:

“As the representative of the United States I have the honor to welcome Your Majesty and the Empress on board of this ship, which bears the name of the capital of the empire, the City of Rio Janeiro.

“Its arrival constitutes an epoch in the commercial relations of Brazil and the United States; and it is, I hope, the harbinger of true prosperity, as well as of more intimate intercourse between the two countries. We shall develop the material interests and the elements of true civilization on this continent.

“Long may Your Majesty live to reign over this empire, and long may the flags of the United States and of Brazil float from the masts of our ships in friendly folds.”

His Imperial Majesty then thanked Captain Weir and the representative of the United States for their kind expressions, and declared himself greatly pleased by his visit to a vessel which displayed in every part the perfection of naval architecture.

His Excellency Councilor Sinimbu, president of the council, expressed his rejoicing at being able to participate in the inauguration of an enterprise which promises such great reciprocal benefits to both continents of America, and he trusted that the establishment of this line of steamers, which would so greatly facilitate the exchanges of the products of Brazil for the products and manufactures of the United States, would prove the forerunner of other great undertakings here, such as the North American people were proverbial for. With all the Brazilian people he felt a deep debt of gratitude to the noble North American nation for the cordial manner in which they had received the august and beloved monarchs of Brazil during their visit to the United States, and it was with fervent prayers he joined with the worthy and distinguished representative of the United States in wishing that the friendly feelings which exist between their two nations shall be of long and felicitous duration.

After their Majesties’ departure, which took place about 2 p.m., the vessel was visited by a great number of admiring citizens and foreign residents of Rio Janeiro.