Mr. Hilliard to Mr. Evarts.
Rio de Janeiro, January 22, 1881. (Received March 7.)
Sir: The liberal administration has at last achieved a great triumph in the passage through both chambers of the electoral reform bill. It removes the political disabilities from all classes. Naturalized Brazilians, non-Catholics, and freedmen are now eligible to office under the imperial government.
The success of this important measure is a great step in advance for Brazil, and must contribute largely to its prosperity. Other reforms will be accomplished at an early day, and this great country will make steady progress in the civilization which brightens the closing years of the nineteenth century. After the adoption of the electoral reform bill the ministry in a body tendered their resignations to the Emperor. This act created great surprise. The ministry of Mr. Saraiva had been successful in its policy and had secured the adoption of its measures. The ministry had been sustained by the Parliament and enjoyed the confidence of the Emperor. The ministry, too, enjoys a large share of the confidence and esteem of the people. Mr. Saraiva and his colleagues, however, took the ground that they had been chosen to perform a special task—the accomplishment of electoral reform—and having succeeded in that, it seemed to them proper now to retire, or to receive a new confirmation of official tenure on general grounds.
The Emperor promptly declined to receive the tendered resignations, and expressed his wish that the present ministry should continue in power, as it had his fullest confidence. Of course the ministry may now enter upon the accomplishment of other measures without the sense of being restricted in the consideration of a general policy for the advancement of the interests of the country. I do not doubt that its measures will be liberal and beneficent.
I have, &c.,