Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, Transmitted to Congress, With the Annual Message of the President, December 1, 1879
to Mr. Evarts.
Lisbon, January 6, 1879. (Received January 29.)
Sir: The new Cortes were opened by the King in person on the 2d instant, when His Majesty delivered a speech, a printed copy and translation of which I forward herewith.
As this speech gives a clear and concise statement of the present conditions of the kingdom and colonies, and suggests certain needful legislation, there is nothing for me to add that will be of interest to the Department. I therefore forward the speech for your information, and have the honor to be, &c.,
King’s speech, January 2, 1879.
Honored Peers of the Realm and Gentlemen Deputies of the Portuguese Nation: The will of the country having been consulted in the terms which the constitutional charter of the monarchy directs, I feel happy on seeing myself surrounded by the representatives of the nation, who have lately been freely elected by it, after the proclamation of the late law, which liberally enlarged the popular suffrage.
Our amicable relations with all foreign powers remain unaltered.
The question pending with the government of His Catholic Majesty respecting the fishing-industry in the waters of the two states has been settled by a provisional convention between both governments on the basis of reciprocity. This convention, with the documents attached to it, will be presented to the Cortez, and I hope that it may receive your approbation.
In order to ameliorate and develop the commerce of our provinces in Asia, and to place them in direct and rapid communication, by railway, with British India, a treaty has been made with the Government of Her Britannic Majesty. My government is also engaged on a treaty with the same power, with the purpose of cementing our relations with the region of Transvaal, by the construction of another railway in the province of Mozambique, thus adding to the importance of the harbor of Lourenço Marques. I trust that you will attentively examine these documents when presented to you, and I shall be gratified if they receive your sanction.
Public tranquillity has generally been maintained everywhere. Some aggressions, which we have lately suffered in Zambesi at the hands of the natives, have just been [Page 898] duly requited, the sovereignty of law being re-established. Of the means employed by the government to maintain order and security in those vast regions, and in other parts of the ultramarine provinces, the minister of that department will render account.
In order to establish the civil registration as regards Portuguese subjects not Catholics, my government has published an adequate regulation, a pressing and absolute necessity being thereby provided for. The government will propose on a fitting occasion suitable legislative measures towards making this institution general without producing annoyances among the population or prejudice to legitimate interests.
Among the proposals which the government has to submit to your examination and approbation, I especially call your attention to the reform of secondary instruction, and to that of the law of recruiting, which is urgent, with the object of rendering this impost equal and general, and to remove it from the action of injurious influences of every character. From a well-considered reform in this important branch of the public service there will result greater justice, in the distribution of this duty, and greater certainty and facility in the raising of the army, when necessary, to the requisite force.
Agreeably with the authority granted to my government by the law of the 23d of last March, the construction of the Beira Alta Railway has been put up to public competition, and adjudicated to a company which accepted all the terms of the proposal, and which had no competitor. The government will give you an account of the terms on which the said concession has been granted.
Works on the highways and railways are being actively carried forward, and additions to the Minho and Douro lines have been opened to circulation as far as Caminha and Juncal respectively. The works on the Beira Railway have been commenced.
Proposals for legislation will be presented to you by the minister of public works towards completing the network of our railways and settling the general bases of their endowment and concessions, as well as other proposals for the construction of the docks of Lisbon and of the artificial port of Leixœs. To these measures, and to that which aims at the improved lighting of our coasts and bars, I call for your close attention.
The works of the fortifications and port of Lisbon have been continued with all the activity compatible with the resources voted. Using the authority granted by law, the government has contracted for making eight field batteries and some fortress guns, with their requisite material. To improve army instruction, to continue works of defense, and to satisfy some other important military requirements, the minister of war will lay before you suitable proposals. The same minister will also acquaint you with the contracts effected.
The construction of some ships of war have been contracted for by the minister of marine and colonies agreeably with the authority granted by law.
Various and important administrative measures for the ultramarine provinces have been decreed in virtue of the authority granted by the fifteenth article of the additional act of the charter. The competent minister will inform you on all these matters.
Not only as monuments of past glory, but as elements of greatness and wealth now and hereafter, we ought to regard those vast regions which yet remain under Portuguese rule in different parts of the world. In the path begun we must not stop, but promote, according to our means, the development of the prosperity of those provinces, some of which nature has so generously endowed. To guarantee in them security of person and property, which is an absolute condition of all enterprises, and to establish between them and the metropolis regular and rapid communication, are measures which, among others, recommend themselves by their immediate utility. My government will present to you proposals requisite for these ends.
The state of the treasury continues to demand the serious attention of public powers and counsels prudent economy in expenditure, without prejudice to the development of national wealth. Our credit has been maintained, but the difficulties with which we have to contend increase, resulting from the general state of the markets, the deficiency of the harvests, and others peculiar to our own market. My minister of finance will present you the state estimate for the economic year 1879–1880, and some proposals for legislation which may, within the present amount of taxation, by the addition to and extension of some taxes, and the better economy of all, tend to a sensible addition of income. You will examine this important subject with the attention it deserves, and I am sure that you will form resolutions most adapted to the welfare of the state.
Honored peers of the realm and deputies of the Portuguese nation: When opening the first session of the present legislature, and fully trusting in your wisdom and patriotism I have no need to appeal to the eminent zeal of the representatives of the country; but am assured that you will correspond with the expectations which the nation has in you. Animated by a like spirit, and in full accord with you, I am certain that, by the favor of God, we shall be constantly busied in all which can contribute to the happiness, greatness, and prosperity of the country.
The session is opened.