Mr. Dichman to Mr. Evarts.
Bogotá, December 29, 1880. (Received February 21, 1881.)
Sir: It is not without a sincere feeling of sorrow on my part that I bring to your notice the death, which took place on Sunday, the 26th instant, of Dr. Manuel Murillo, who for many years has occupied a prominent position in the politics of this country. In him I not only [Page 349] mourn the loss of a personal friend, but also regret the disappearance from this political stage of a statesman who was always ready to put into practice the admiration felt by him for the United States and its political institutions. To his wise counsels, springing from a ripe judgment, and his active co-operation, made invaluable from the exceptional political position which he occupied, I shall always feel deeply indebted for facilitating the discharge of my duties at this legation. He will, no doubt, be pleasantly remembered by Mr. Hunter, about whom he made frequent inquiries of me, having been the Colombian minister at Washington from 1862 to 1864. The courtesy extended to him by Mr. Seward by placing a man-of-war at his service to bring him back to his country, where, during his absence in the United States, he had been elected to the position of President of this republic, has always been remembered by him and his many friends as a pleasing and gratifying mark of personal consideration and of international attention.
His funeral, which took place yesterday, was attended by the entire official society at this capital, in addition to which a multitude, estimated at over 10,000 people, who, in the midst of a pouring rain, accompanied his remains to their final resting place, testified by their manifestations of sorrow the firm hold which the departed statesman had enjoyed upon the sympathies of his fellow-citizens.
Although for some time past, owing to the precarious state of his health, he had withdrawn from the active participation in politics, his death will leave a void in the counsels of this nation not easy to be filled. Next to Santander he was the father of the liberal party in Colombia, and the author of many political measures for the purpose of bringing the practices of the government of this country in accord with the civilization of the present day.
While the meed of perfection cannot be claimed for him any more than for any other member of the human family, and while in the political reforms which he advocated with varying success perhaps too little account was taken of popular prejudice, thereby sometimes endangering the stability of political institutions and reducing measures conceived to be for the public good to the dangerous level of mere political experiment, it will redound to his lasting fame in the history of Colombia that he was always a courageous and able champion for the rights of the people, constantly struggling for their education, elevation, and advancement.
With a firm faith in the efficacy of republican institutions to dissipate the mists of ignorance and superstition by which the social and political atmosphere of this country has been obscured, he bore the changing fortunes of a political career extending over forty years, during which he was twice elected to the position of President, with a philosophic equanimity born of the sincerity and strength of his convictions, and, as with the receding years the salient features of his character stand out in bolder relief, it is safe to predict that among the names of the many statesmen which are recorded in the annals of Colombia none will occupy a more conspicuous position and be entitled to more honor than the one of the late Dr. Manuel Murillo.
I am, &c.,