No. 389.
Mr. Christiancy to Mr. Evarts.

No. 6.]

Sir: For your Information as to the causes and objects of the existing war between Chili and Peru, I transmit herewith certain papers bearing upon the question.

No important intelligence in reference to the military operations has been received since my former dispatches.

I have, &c.,

[Page 868]
[Inclosure 1 in No. 6.—Translation.]

the alliance with bolivia.

[South Pacific Times, Saturday, April 26, 1879.]

The following decree has been issued:

Mariano I. Prado, President of the Republic, considering:

First. That by the treaty of the 6th of February, 1873, the Republics of Peru and Bolivia are solemnly bound to mutually guarantee one another their independence and sovereignty, and also the integrity of their respective territories.

Secondly. That the insult offered by Chili to Bolivia by the occupation of the 23d and 24th degrees of that country’s sea-coast, under the pretense of revindicating their own, is equivalent to an attack on the said rights of Bolivia, and is expressly pointed out in the first portion of the second article of the treaty referred to as the chief and principal cause why the alliance should come into force.

Thirdly. That the envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of Bolivia, on a special mission, has requested, by order of his government, the declaration of the casus fœderis, and the consequent bringing into effect of the said treaty; and that Peru has endeavored by every conciliatory measure possible to keep the peace between the republics in question, first interposing her good offices and afterwards offering her mediation in due form, whose only result has been the declaration of war made by the Government of Chili against Peru:

I decree—

The Republic of Peru decrees the casus fœderis mentioned in the treaty of the 6th of February, 1873, with Bolivia has arrived; and consequently the time has come when the alliance must come into effect and all its stipulations.

The respective ministers of state are encharged with the issuing of the necessary orders for the faithful and exact fulfillment of this decree, and of making it known and published.


Manuel Irigoyen,

[Inclosure 2 in No. 6.]

Note from the Chilian Government to the Peruvian Minister, granting him his passport.

Sir: The reply given to the Chilian envoy in Lima a few days ago by your government, that it could not observe neutrality in our present conflict with Bolivia because there existed a treaty of defensive alliance between them—which is the same that you read to me in the conference held on the 31st ultimo—has forced this government to the conclusion that it is impossible to maintain friendly relations with Peru.

Considering the assurance you gave me in the first conference we held on the 17th ultimo, in reply to my interrogation whether such treaty existed or no, that you had no knowledge of it; that you believed it had no existence, and that it could not have been approved by the Peruvian Congress of 1873 (when it was said to have been approved), and much less in the succeeding years, when you formed part of the diplomatic commission; considering this assurance, I repeat, my government sees that yours, as well as yourself, in denying this treaty, have placed yourselves in an exceedingly irregular position.

My government is surprised to learn that that of Peru projected and signed that treaty at the time that it professed sentiments of cordial friendship towards Chili.

To this secret transaction, in which the strictest reserve was stipulated, the Government of Chili replies with the fullest frankness, declaring that its relations with that of Peru are broken, and that it considers it belligerent, in virtue of the authority to that effect received to-day from the high authorities of the State.

In forwarding you your passports, I have to assure you that the proper orders have been issued, in order that you and the personnel of the permanent legation of Peru may receive all due consideration and facility in returning to your country.

With sentiments of distinguished consideration, &c.,

[Page 869]
[Inclosure No. 3 in No 6.]

opening of congress.

Message of the President of the republic.

Shortly after two o’clock on the afternoon of the 24th, Congress was formally opened.

The following is a translation of the message of his excellency the President of the republic to the special Congress of 1879.

Honorable Representatives:

At a time when the sentiment of confraternity seemed to be most deeply rooted in the heart of America, the fruit not only of the identity of origin of its nations, and of the glorious traditions which form their modern history, but also the offspring of mutual convenience, very grave and important events, brought about most abruptly by the Chilian Government, have startled our repose.

After the unanimous cry of indignation uttered throughout the entire continent, when the agents of the Spanish Government attempted to revive the deeds of the time of its famous conquests, after the outburst of brotherly feeling which united all the South American republics to one another to protest solemnly against acts odious to all laws which civilized nations have laid down as rules of government, it appeared impossible that those very nations should have recourse to arms without previously employing all rational methods of conciliation, without observing the forms which give to war the character of legality, of which the violent aggressions and the hostilities commenced before the enemy, is either notified or prepared to repulse them, are destitute. Such a course of conduct which outrages the precepts of morality by which governments should be guided, and ruins nations by exciting in their midst, under a cloak of patriotism, passionate feelings of hate and vengeance not certainly in accordance with modern civilization nor with the respect ever due to any people, whatever their class and status, nor is it such as should be adopted by generous nations who confide their destinies to the manifest justice of their cause rather than to the employment of brute force.

Peru and her government were rejoicing the more to see the nations of this continent cementing closer, day by day, the bonds by which they are united by nature, since she observed the willingness with which they all received and realized the idea of assimilating their laws, with the object of giving unity and conformity to their interests, moral as well as material; and doing away with unimportant matters the odious distinction born of the word “foreign,” a word which should be banished from amongst the citizens of South America. To these useful and important labors would doubtless have succeeded others, tending to produce in as great a degree as the peculiar conditions of each State would permit of, the same benefits that were looked for from the unity of the principles of internal law.

Peru has so far entertained these laudable desires that, whenever she has had cause to fear the least interruption taking place in the peaceful relations of the other re publics, she has hastened to interpose her good offices towards advocating the maintenance of peace and the adoption of whatever measures that were conducive to that end.

The Peruvian Government has always possessed the profound conviction that the disasters which a state of war brings on in all the nations of the universe, and especially in those newly formed, which need to employ all their vigor, means, and activity in consolidating their institutions and in acquiring that moral force which places nations in the first rank of their fellows, giving them prestige and glory, can alone be acceptable when the independence of States is menaced or their dearest interests involved.

If unfortunately the heroic deeds of the days of independence, and after them the different principles which have been the cause of political events more or less turbulent, have delayed the prosecution of those ideas, there exists without doubt an inexplicable virility which, when exercised in the cause of peace, opens the door to the development of all the elements of rational prosperity.

The actual contest between Bolivia, Peru, and Chili, the preconceived work of the cabinet of Santiago, has not failed, therefore, to affect most deeply the minds of the nations of this continent; and all the more so, since all nations, with that providential intuition with which they are gifted see, or rather feel, that the occupation of Bolivian territory by Chilian forces is a positive usurpation, taking into consideration the attendant circumstances, and is an act of a nature opposed and repugnant to the commonest dogmas of law and justice, and also that the war declared against Peru, on account of suppositions more or less whimsical, has not in its favor a Single argument to support it.

[Page 870]

In truth, neither the ostensible reason of the measures taken, nor the questions at issue, authorized an attack which is as unjustifiable as it is odious.

To revindicate one’s right to territory which has always been in possession of another country, and recognized as such by solemn treaties, has no other meaning than the setting about a conquest, taking advantage of the debility of the offended country. The abrupt and motiveless declaration of war against Peru is nothing less than a preconceived plan, whose aim is to take possession of a long coveted piece of territory.

The conflict arisen so suddenly between the Republics of Bolivia and Chili gave rise to the necessity of convoking you to special sessions, in order that, duly appreciating the importance of the causes which induce the same and the tendencies they display, you may determine upon, the line of conduct which the government should pursue under such difficult circumstances; and, taking in the true situation in which we are placed, that you may adopt such measures as you may deem convenient

Meanwhile, without the remotest imagination that a declaration of war would be the reply to our generous mediation for the maintenance of peace between the contending parties, the government, interpreting the sentiments of the country as expressed in all classes of society, and ardently desirous of preventing a bloody strife between two sister republics, hastened to put its good offices at the disposition of the cabinet of Santiago; our chargé d’affaires having attained a promise from the President of the republic that no definite steps would be taken without his knowledge.

Notwithstanding this, the Chilian government caused its military forces to occupy the port of Antofagasta, dislodging the Bolivian authorities and hoisting their own flag over its buildings, with the intent to “revindicate” that territory.

The Chilian press, revealing the hidden views of the government, allowed it to be understood from the very first that the occupation of Antofagasta was the preliminary step to making war against Peru. The violence of their warlike proceedings; the secrecy observed with our chargé d’affaires, notwithstanding the promise to hide none of their proceedings from him; the frequent and offensive manifestations of the popular assemblies, tolerated in spite of the good relations then existing between the two countries; the numerous forces sent to Antofagasta; the concentration of the Chilian squadron in that port, and the works of fortification commenced there, allowed it to be clearly seen that the operations were in reality directed against Peru, since the hostilities with Bolivia, a country not possessing a navy, did not call for the necessity of maintaining a fleet and army in Antofagasta, nor for the erection of harbor fortifications there.

Notwithstanding the significance of all these proceedings, the Peruvian Government, with a lively interest in the maintenance of peace between the South American Republics, and faithful to its traditions, again offered its mediation and appointed a minister plenipotentiary near the cabinet of Santiago, in order that the two republics, yielding their mutual pretensions, might submit the settlement of their differences to arbitration, in accordance with the terms of the treaty entered into between them in 1874. The negotiations, undertaken in the best faith by our plenipotentiary, Don José Antonio Lavalle, far from persuading the Chilian Government to desist from its views, caused it to abruptly break off its relations with us, under various frivolous pretexts, to declare against us a war completely unjustifiable from all points of view, and to set about immediately instituting every species of hostilities, blockading, bombarding, and burning our defenceless ports in the south.

Our military preparations, the dispatching of Peruvian troops to the department of Tarapacá, and the existence of a secret treaty of defensive alliance, are the motives which have contributed to apparently make Chili doubt our desires for peace, and to cause her to look upon us as belligerents in her quarrel with Bolivia.

The falseness and inefficiency of such motives are apparent to all. Immediately upon difficulties arising between Chili and the Argentine provinces, my government, faithful to the duties which the love of peace and the desire for the progress and prosperity of the South American nations impose upon it, proffered its good services, in order that both countries should settle their dispute in an amicable manner, and avoid the misfortunes attendant upon a war, and having acted in the same way as soon as it knew of the question with Bolivia, Chili could not doubt our good faith, and still less so, since I myself, then a friend of Chili—I, who, in my public or private capacity, have never practiced duplicity either with men or nations—had the honor of being at the head of the Government of Peru, directing the diplomatic negotiations.

The illegal act of Chili in invading Bolivia, and taking possession of territory which did not belong to her, and the accumulation of war materials on a large scale in Antofagasta, suggested the entertainment of hostile views against Peru, and prudence counselled us to put ourselves in a position to defend, if necessary, the honor of the nation and the integrity of its territory. This circumstance satisfactorily explains our military preparations and the forwarding of troops to the southern frontier. An armed neutrality has never been a cause of offense to other nations at war with one another.

The treaty of defensive alliance entered into with the Republic of Bolivia could have been no motive for supposing that the Government of Peru was acting with bad faith [Page 871] towards Chili; since that treaty, which might well have been subscribed to by Chili herself, and whose sole object is to assure the independence, sovereignty, and integrity of the territories of the contracting parties, impose upon Peru the obligation of employing with preference, when feasible, every conciliatory measure possible in order to avoid a rupture or prevent a war, should the rupture have taken place, holding as the most effective of those measures the arbitration of a third power. In fact, the treaty itself, which does not call upon the ally to declare war, justified the good offices of Peru, and was a guarantee for the good faith of her irreproachable conduct.

Notwithstanding the instances of the plenipotentiaries of Bolivia, my government, faithfully fulfilling the duties which the character of mediator imposed upon it, flatly refused, not only to bring the treaty into effect, but also to supply the arms and other aid which Bolivia asked of it.

Neither the military preparations which prudence dictated, nor the movements of troops called for, amongst other reasons, by the peculiar conditions of the department of Tarapacá; nor the treaty of defensive alliance, whose existence if it remained officially secret in accordance with one of its stipulations, was not unknown to the plenipotentiary Señor Godoy, nor to the members of the Chilian Government; not one of these circumstances, or all of them combined, are sufficient to excuse the conduct of that nation, nor justify the violent and illegal aggression which has broken off at one blow the relations existing between nations who have fraternally shared together the benefits of peace, the calamities of war, and the lustre of glory.

The Republic of Chili has declared war against us because the Government of Peru endeavored to prevent that which had arisen between that country and Bolivia; and Peru has accepted it with the high and generous enthusiasm which characterizes her on great occasions; with the enthusiasm inspired by justice, the precursor of victory.

The doing away with the old territorial boundaries, in obedience to interested and avaricious motives, is a pretension bordering upon impossibility, because neither Peru nor the other South America States could consent to it without compromising the integrity of their respective territories; and the force of this consideration manifests clearly that the war declared against us is devoid of political or social motives which can be adduced in its support.

Since the efforts for the preservation of peace have proved fruitless; since Chili, who has taken up arms with the sole intent to attack us, going so far as to offer her material and moral aid to the Bolivian commanders in case they should attempt to take possession of the old department of Moquegua; since Chili, I repeat, is satisfied with nothing but war with Peru; since, giving the lie to her boasted good sense, she has madly thrown herself into the fields of battle, Peru will also march to them, as suits her offended dignity and the valor other army and navy.

It was sufficient that Chili should proclaim the war, in order that Peru should rise as one man to place at the disposal of the government the lives and fortunes of her sons. Peru, is presenting to all civilized nations the most beautiful and touching spectacle of patriotism. If the treasury was empty, her citizens have striven for the honor of refilling it; if the army and navy were reduced to the limits which the law assigns for a state of peace, to-day all are soldiers, ready to sacrifice themselves on the altar of their country. Peru, face to face with her gratuitous enemy, will avenge the insult so treacherously offered her.

Legislators: I convoke you to special sessions in order that you may decide upon the conduct which it would have been the duty of the government to observe in view of the war between Bolivia and Chili, but unlooked for events have happened, which simplify your mission. We are at war with Chili, and it is your duty to dictate the measures which you may deem best in order to assure the triumph of our arms, jointly with the honor and glory of the country.

May Divine Providence assist you in your deliberations.

The sessions of the special Congress of 1879 are now declared opened.


[Inclosure 4 in No. 6.]

Reply of his excellency the President of the Congress, Dr. José Antonio Garcia y Garcia.

Citizen President: It is, perhaps, the first time that the representatives of the nation listen to the authorized voice of the head of the State, under the influence of feelings so opposed and so painful as those which in this solemn moment dominate their spirits.

The certain knowledge that, along with the entire country, the delegates in parliament possess of the premeditated conduct of Chili in her relations with Peru; the suspicion and astonishment which the accumulation of hasty and intemperate acts [Page 872] signalizing the policy of that country, in the continuous changes of great American interest, has not failed to awaken in their minds; and the indignation naturally be got in upright and high-principled minds by the deliberate transgressions of the rules which serve as law to States, and guarantee, consequently, the maintenance of justice as the common and necessary principle to guide their mutual relations—in a word, every one of the acts practiced, which, in the order of principles and deeds, has wounded the sentiment of national dignity and profaned the rigid dictates of law and reason, and whose authenticity and details you have proved with the clearest testimony in your important message, could not but call forth in the bosom of the legislative chambers the grievous and opposite sentiments of which I have made mention. Once that cruel strife lighted in our spirits, which the sacred fire of patriotism fans, it is doubtless, Citizen President, that it would lead us to the greatest extremes in repressing and punishing such unheard-of crimes were another moral influence to predominate in the national Congress other than that which, until now, has served as a sure and certain guide to the government, and which inspires in the entire nation the highest sentiments. But it is not so, most excellent sir; in the legislative body, as in the government and the people, the sentiment of justice and their own dignity, the knowledge of their duty, the sacred respect for the rights of others, and an absolute confidence in their power to chastise all rash aggression, as well as the outrageous offenses to the beloved flag of our country, happily rise superior to the bursts of anger and the impatient feeling which, far from denoting strength and reason, betrays debility or pitiful irregularities.

The calm, correct, and dignified exposition which you have given of the historical antecedents of the unjustifiable and, therefore, ignominious war which Chili has declared against Peru, will allow the national assembly to duly appreciate by the light of same, and with the aid of the papers which the minister of foreign affairs will in due time lay before it, the prevision, the correct judgment, and the patriotic zeal displayed by the executive, as well in the praiseworthy end to avoid the disasters of a war between sister nations and allies of Peru, as to maintain with proper splendor the principle of good confraternity as the indissoluble link of happy union between the republican States of the New World.

The same notable document will, I am convinced, convey to the mind of the entire nation, and to the governments not affected by these events, the intimate persuasion that if the efforts of Peru to maintain the peace between Bolivia and Chili have not alone been of no avail, but, what is truly surprising, have been replied to by the most offensive and senseless threats, the work of evil is the exclusive work of Chili and the result of the long cherished and iniquitous plan to disturb the repose and sully the splendor, not of Bolivia, but of Peru alone, the country which the hand of Providence has seen fit to shower its favors upon, and the growing development of whose riches, knowledge, power, and legitimate influence in the continent of South America Chili has ever desired and to-day strives to arrest.

Profoundly true are your words, Citizen President, when you state that Peru is offering a most beautiful and touching spectacle to all civilized nations; for, in reality, most excellent sir, there is nothing greater, more beautiful, or sublime than the resolution and energy with which the Peruvian nation, without excepting the last of her sons, has risen as one man, full of ardor and vigor, to assist the public authorities with their lives and fortunes in the glorious task of saving the honor and dignity of the republic in the fratricidal war to which Chili has provoked her.

In this redeeming work, in this most noble and patriotic labor, the legislative body, I can declare in their name, most excellent sir, will know how to rise to the height of their mission. Your suggestions, your proposals, the initiative of the government in one word, as also that of the representatives in all relating to the defense of the country and the triumph of her arms, will find in these chambers a ready acceptance and the solution most favorable to the well-defined interests of our cause.

Peru, who has fulfilled a noble and disinterested duty towards the people of Bolivia without being wanting in the considerations due to Chili, will also comply with, to her own honor, and glory, the obligation which she has imposed upon herself of triumphing. Divine Providence, whose aid we invoke with you, Citizen President, ever concedes the victory to the cause of justice, which is manifestly our own cause; we shall conquer, therefore, because our triumph as a necessary law of moral order is plainly the will of that Providence.