Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, Transmitted to Congress, With the Annual Message of the President, December 4, 1883
to Mr. Frelinghuysen.
Lima, October 30, 1883. (Received November 27.)
Sir: I have the honor to inclose a copy, together with a translation, of a circular note, dated the 23d instant, addressed to me by Señor Don [Page 725] J. A. de Lavalle, appointed minister of foreign relations, in which he gives a history of the circumstances attending the establishment of the Iglesias government, and invites recognition. To this note I replied as per copy inclosed herewith.
I have, &c.,
Mr. De Lavalle to Mr. Phelps.
Lima, October 23, 1883.
Sir: The events of which Peru has been the theater since the 5th April, 1879, until the 15th January, 1881, are well known to your excellency, and form a painful subject for the undersigned. Her armies defeated, not without luster to her arms, her naval forces annihilated, with honor, however, to her flag, there followed upon her military disaster another one almost as fatal for a country as is the ruin consequent upon war—that is to say, anarchy and complete political and social disorder.
After fruitless endeavors to organize a government that would grapple with so complex a situation, and accept resolutely those conditions of peace the conqueror might impose, securing, however, the most favorable terms attainable, a disinterested citizen, and at the same time a worthy soldier, determined to state the truth to his country, and to direct it in the only path that might lead to the re-establishment of internal order, while finding means for bringing about external peace.
With a civil courage not inferior to that which he displayed as a soldier in defense of his country, his excellency, General Iglesias, inaugurated a provisional government in the city of Cajamarca in the commencement of the month of september, 1882 the programme for which was resolutely and decisively to attain peace with Chili. Received by some with surprise, with indignation by others, and with disdain by the greater part, it was, however, an opinion which commended itself to the intelligence of the people, who perceived instinctively that in its realization depended their salvation and future happiness.
The successive converts to this idea very soon enabled an assembly to meet in that city, which certainly, if it did not represent the whole of Peru, did at least represent no inconsiderable portion of it. Before this assembly General Iglesias resigned the power he had assumed, solely with the intention of providing the people an opportunity to express freely their opinion, and from it he received the investiture of provisional President of the Republic, and sufficient authority to negotiate a peace with Chili, and to reorganize the country until, once at peace and with order restored, a general assembly might be elected that would genuinely express the country’s desires and satisfy its necessities.
Disdaining all efforts to secure adherents not necessary to attain the original object of his government, he dedicated to the purpose his utmost endeavors, with the conviction that in obtaining his object he would be certain to secure the general adhesion of the country, long tired of a struggle as sanguinary as hopeless from the entire want of means to continue it.
He was not mistaken in his ideas, since during the lengthy and tedious negotiation through which his confidential agents, amongst whom the undersigned had the honor to be included, had agreed upon the fundamental basis of a treaty that should put an end to the war, successive and spontaneous adherents appearing in all those towns of the Republic in which existing conditions permitted free expression of opinions came to strengthen his government and to extend the sphere of his authority.
The seat of government having been transferred to the city of Trujiilo, General Iglesias there assumed the necessary forms to establish it on a regular footing, placing himself in a situation to obtain from friendly and neutral powers, as well as from the belligerent, its recognition as the national Government of Peru.
He abstained, nevertheless, most prudently from asking the first until he had obtained the second, and until a treaty of peace would allow him to do so under such conditions that there could be no doubt of this recognition nor motive for hesitation on the part of the representatives of such powers.
The elevated principles of General Iglesias, the loyalty of his proceedings, won for him the respect and confidence of the conqueror, while the unmistakable manifestations of public opinion throughout the whole of Peru invested him with sufficient authority to treat in its name.
In consequence of the events already referred to, he transferred his residence to the town of Ancon, to be nearer the terminus of his patriotic journey, and there, on [Page 726] the 18th instant, was solemnly recognized by the representative and other authorities of the Chilian Government. On the 20th their plenipotentiaries signed in that place a treaty of peace and friendship between both Republics, the basis of which, previously discussed and agreed to in long and frank discussions, have at last put an end to the long and distressing struggle in which, in a fatal moment, they found themselves engaged.
The several towns and territories occupied by the Chilian forces being delivered over to his authority, and accepted by those that were not dominated nor oppressed by opposing factions, he has to-day taken possession of the capital of the Republic, and there established his seat of government, of which the undersigned has the honor to be a member as minister of state for the department of foreign relations.
It is my first and most grateful duty, under these circumstances, to communicate it to his excellency the minister plenipotentiary of the United States, and to state that the feeling which animates my Government in relation to the people and Government of the American Union is to cultivate, by all obtainable means and with particular care, those cordial relations which have always existed between the people and Governments of both nations, the more necessary to-day, as Peru has to repair, by the inauguration of peace and order, the injuries and disasters war always brings in its train.
The undersigned has, &c.,
Mr. Phelps to Mr. Lavalle.
Lima, Peru, October 27, 1883.
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your excellency’s highly interesting communication, dated the 23d instant, in which you inform me of the attending circumstances and of the fact of the establishment in Lima of the Government of General Iglesias.
This communication I have had the pleasure to refer to my Government. I beg your excellency will allow me to express the interest with which I have witnessed the course of events in Peru, and the gratification it will afford me to see the country united in measures to restore peace and good government, and to give security to the industries of the nation.
I avail, &c.,