to Mr. Evarts.
Santiago, Chili, June 5, 1878. (Received July 15.)
Sir: Congress was formally opened in regular session on the 1st instant. As is the custom, the President of the republic read his message in person to both houses of the National Assembly. Having been honored with an invitation from the minister of foreign relations to be present on the occasion, I attended the opening and witnessed the ceremony.
Inclosed you will find a copy of the message in Spanish, as also a faithful synopsis in English. This synopsis is all that has been published here in the English language, but it is so complete, that I have deemed it unnecessary to cause the message to be translated entire.
The message is a plain statement of the condition of the country as it appears on the surface, but it fails, in my judgment, to meet the necessities of the hour. It shows a prostration of business and a vast decrease of commerce; a diminution of the public revenues and an increase of the public debt; and yet, to my mind, it points out no adequate remedy for these evils. True, it proposes, with a view of creating additional revenues, an increase of the duties on imports and the creation of a light income tax; but these, even if they should be accepted by Congress, would prove inadequate, I fear, to the necessities of the country, and could not but fail, I judge, to accomplish the purposes desired.
It is due to truth, however, that I should not allow this to go upon record without saying that there is in this country a universal sentiment in favor of meeting promptly, in good faith, the public obligations, and that, in my opinion, the interest and principal of the public debt will continue to be paid when due.
“Imports”, says the President, “which in 1876 amounted to $35,291,041, fell off in 1877 to $29,279,113; and exports fell from $37,771,039 to $29,715,372, due to the low price of copper in Europe and the deficient harvest.” Continuing, he says “the revenue has experienced the effects of the reduction of trade; the ordinary receipts last year being $13,701,794.65, [Page 92] inferior to those of 1876 by $1,658,922.35, and the extraordinary to $4,977,172.02. The expenditure amounted to $20,463,685.73, or an excess over the revenue of $1,784,729, to which must be added $634,393.61 deficit standing over from 1876.”
It will be observed that the President announces that the dispute with the Argentine Government concerning their boundaries has not been definitely settled, from which you will understand that the treaty lately negotiated at Buenos Ayres, to which I referred in my dispatch No. 34, does not meet the approval of the Chilian Government. Of this I will write fully hereafter.
As soon as they shall assume tangible shape, I will inform you as to the proposed changes in the duties on imports.
I have, &c.,