No. 101.
Mr. Scruggs to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 63.]

Sir: By the Constitution and laws of Colombia the federal Congress of the Republic provides for possible vacancies in the office of President by the annual election of three Designados or Vice-Presidents, the first of whom, in case of the death, resignation or inability of the President, assumes the title and duties of the executive office. In case of the absence, death, resignation or inability of the first Designado, the second assumes the title and duties of President, and so of the third, in case of the absence, death, resignation or inability of the second.

If Congress should fail to elect Designados, or if all three should be absent, dead or incapacitated at the time the vacancy happens, then the title and duties of President are assumed by the procurator-general of the nation. The office of procurador-general corresponds to that of Attorney-General of the United States, but the incumbent is elected each year by Congress, instead of being appointed by the President like the other members of the cabinet.

The term of each Designado and likewise of the procurador-general is one year; that is, it extends from the 1st of April of the year in which he is chosen to the 1st of April of the next year. So that in case either should come into charge of the Presidential office, the position becomes again vacant after the 1st of April following, provided the unexpired Presidential term extends beyond that date, in which case Congress supplies the vacancy. This it may do by re-electing the Designado or the procurador-general in charge, or by selecting a new man for the position.

Upon the death of the late President (Dr. Zaldúa), Señor Otolora, the second Designado, assumed the title and duties of President by reason of the absence of the first Designado, Dr. Nuñez. But as his term as Designado expires on the 1st of April next, it devolved upon Congress to choose a successor. This it did on the 7th instant, by electing Señor Otolara to be first Designado for the year ensuing, April 1, 1884, and in virtue of which he will be President until that time.

I believe this is the first instance in the history of the Republic when the legislative department of the Government had the unrestricted power of naming a President of the Union. Heretofore, when the election was thrown into Congress, that body was restricted to a choice between the two or more candidates whose claims had not been decided under the forms prescribed for the biennial election of Chief Magistrate.

I have, &c.,