No. 599.
Mr. Baker to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 751.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith an extract from the Opinion National of the 17th ultimo, containing the speeches of Señor José [Page 928] Sálas, President Guzman Blanco, and Señor J. M. Manrique at the unveiling of the statue of Washington in Caracas, July 31, 1883, together with the translation which I have made of the same; a copy of the speech of Rear-Admiral G. H. Cooper on the same occasion, as by him sent, or caused to be sent, to Mr. Seijas; and a copy of my speech on the same occasion. I respectfully draw attention to ail these speeches, especially to those of Señor Salas, the President, and Señor Manrique.

The act was really an imposing one. Though official, it was yet more popular in its character. The assemblage was remarkably great. There can be no question that this act should be highly valued by the Government and people of the United States.

I am, &c.

[Inclosure 1 in No. 751.—Extract from La Opinion Nacional of August 17, 1883.—Translation.]

During the unveiling of the statue the military hand played the national air of the United States. This was several times repeated during the ceremony, and various other pieces were executed by a select and numerous orchestra. Señor Salas, in the name of the committee of arrangements of the centennial, then made the following remarks:

“Illustrious American, I deliver to you, sir, this monument, which commemorates the deeds of Washington. It is a work of the love and the admiration of this people for the great American nation. You, illustrious President, in celebrating the centennial of Bolivar, have the rare happiness to illuminate it with this light and with that which irradiates our happy country, which is now on the high road to prosperity.”

In the midst of the lofty feelings which were aroused in the minds of those present by that graceful act of national justice towards the founder of the great Republic of the North, the President heightened the significance of the patriotic solemnity by the following very appropriate remarks:

“My countrymen, behold a statue of the grand model which was vouchsafed by Divine Providence to the human race in the century which preceded our own. In this statue Venezuela on this day erects an everlasting monument to the glory of a great man, of a great people, and of the sublimest virtues.

“For a long series of ages extraordinary beings appeared, who, whether as representatives of force, or as wise reformers of humanity, possssed themselves of power either as the reward of their prowess, or in the name of their services and of the prestige of their talents. In George Washington another nature came to the world. He preferred the spectacle of the freedom of his fellow-men to all human enjoyments. He struggled, he conquered, and conquered all for his country, and then returned to private life among his countrymen. [Loud applause.] How fruitful has that sublime disinterestedness been for the human race! Up to that time a Republican form of Government, which had been repeatedly tried, appeared to be practically impossible. Behold it to day, converted into a truly redeeming reality, in a power of the first order; in a lasting model of liberty; and in a land of wonders! [Loud applause.]

“Eternal honor to the great citizen of the great nation of North America.”

The time having arrived for the orator of the day, Señor J. M. Manrique, to speak, that gentleman mounted the rostrum, and, with quick self-possession and graceful intonation, delivered the following discourse, during which he was frequently interrupted by the enthusiastic applause of the audience:

“Illustrious American, President of the Republic: In the erection of this monument, dedicated to Washington by Guzman Blanco, at the centennial of Bolivar, here in Caracas, the cradle of liberty and of the liberator of the world, do you not see, gentlemen, something like the grand festival of American glory? Nay, something like the apotheosis of humanity, represented by such illustrious men? Washington! The world repeats with veneration that immortal name, which has become the synonym of patriotism, heroism, and uprightness. Forgotten in the obscurity of colonial life, the American world with difficulty secured, by the sacrifice of its richest treasures, the support of those European adventurers who always found a hearty welcome and an easy fortune upon its soil. A day came at last when, great, strong, and powerful, it began to feel the high aspirations of manhood; a day when its ideal could no longer remain confined by the narrow horizon of dependence; when civilization illumined easy paths leading to other regions; a day when labor had multiplied its elements and its power; when the gigantic struggles of its powerful frame well-nigh snapped the cords which bound it. There was then but a faint conception—an ill-defined hope—of [Page 929] freedom. But this thought grew and grew continually. It animated all hearts, elevated the national pride, awakened enthusiasm, and kindled patriotism. It became a radiant light, an invigorating heat, a dominating force; and finally it became the controlling inspiration of the American mind.

“The day was now near when the world of Columbus was to awake to independent and sovereign life. The moral elements needed for the great crisis were no longer wanting. The spirit of the age was soon to give form to the dominant thought. What was still lacking? What was lacking was that that idea, which was beginning to make its way, should be incarnated in a man capable of comprehending and interpreting it, so that it might rise in its strength, do battle, triumph, and, like the sun, shine resplendently in the American heaven. This, like every sublime thought, was but a dream so long as it found no worthy interpreter.

“In North America, which was about to take the initiative in the path to independence, not impelled thereto by tyrannical oppression, but by the high destinies which the future offered, this thought reigned in all minds, and gave forth lightnings which carried consternation to some and hope to others. That people which was born a giant, which lived as respected as it was strong in its infancy, which grew powerful through its constant union, the simplicity of its life and its incorrputible patriotism at length awoke not as a rebellious slave awakes, but as a citizen who is defending his rights, and inspired by a single thought, guided by a single aspiration, proceeded to sacrifice its treasure, blood, life, all, all except the honor of being the first to proclaim independence throughout the world of Columbus upon the altar of its country.

“The titanic struggle began. The din of battle and the discussions held in the council chambers of the nation were heard by turns. While on the field of battle the blood of heroes flowed in torrents, in the council chamber shone the talent of till then unknown genius.

“All is great in that extraordinary people; but success did not crown their efforts until Washington, that heaven-born genius, appeared, in whom liberty found an apostle, the army of independence a mighty champion, and Congress and the citizen a faithful interpreter of the national will.

“He fought as a soldier and commanded as a general. In the hour of trial he encouraged by his example, made victory fruitful, averted or remedied disaster, kindled enthusiasm, and repressed inconsiderate violence. He was loved by the liberating army and respected by the enemy. He was the friend of the allies, the idol of the troops, and he reigned by love in the hearts of all his fellow-citizens.

“Although first in toil, first in danger, and first in sacrifice, he wished to be last when honors were to be conferred.

“Redeemed by the puissant arm of Washington, his country proclaimed him her favorite son; liberty, which he secured for half a continent, glorified his name. America, which recognized him as her liberator, thanked him with outstretched arms; democracy everywhere hailed him as its leader, republicans as their champion, and the entire world viewed with admiration that American hero who had accomplished in securing the independence of his country, an enterprise which was destined to transforn the universe by giving a home to all who love great thoughts, to all who adore liberty.

“Washington alone remained unconscious of his own merits, because all pride was lost in his modesty; the immensity of his patriotism overcame all ambition in his breast. The laurels which he had gained as a general, as a magistrate, as a statesman, as a liberator, he esteemed less than the honor of being the most faithful servant of his country.

“Apostle, soldier, hero, liberator, glory showered upon him all her favors, and so great honor, gained in the defense of the most holy cause, called forth no jealousy, but universal applause; for glory only served that great man as a pedestal to display to the world his unfeigned modesty, his thorough disinterestedness, and the absolute incorruptibility of his life.

“But no; he was neither an apostle, a soldier, a hero, nor a liberator. No! he was the model citizen, in whom all these qualities combined to form a special genius, whose glory shone resplendently among heroes like Lafayette, men of science like Franklin, geniuses like Chateaubriand, which and afterwards did not pale when contrasted with ttha of Napoleon and Bolivar, men who had attained the pinnacle of human glory.

“The true greatness of Washington, however, does not lie in his acts, his magnificent achievements, even in his exalted virtues. No, he was great as a man imbued with an idea, as the personification of a sublime thought, as a true interpreter of the feelings of a whole people.

“Yes, gentlemen, in him the world sees the glorious fulfillment of the redeeming idea of American disenthrallment, and it contemplates in him the courage, the power, the virtues, and the glory of that great people, in which humanity seems to display all its vital forces; of that industrious, frugal, and upright people, of whose sense of justice Venezuela has received so many evidences; of that incomparable people of whorn Washington has come to be the most worthy representative in history and in immortality. [Page 930] In him the world admires the portentous advancement of that great Republic which seems to have been destined to verify the marvels of mythological story. Washington is North America, and North America is Washington.

“On the native soil of Bolivar it was fitting that Washington should occupy an exalted position. At the apotheosis of the liberator of South America the liberator of North America could not be forgotten, and to Guzman Blanco, the illustrious regenerator of Venezuela, our country owes the honor which belongs to it in the erection of this monument to American glory. This statue is a new tie, which unites the two founders of the independence of the New World. It is, as it were, the close embrace of the two liberators in the eternal splendors of immortality.

“You, O noble sons of the great Republic of modern Rome! You, intrepid seamen who grace this solemnity with your presence! tell your countrymen how their brethren of the south, congregated around this monument, made the glories of your country their own, in order to render to them the tribute of veneration. Tell them that for us Bolivar and Washington are brothers, who were united by destiny and glory, as, the two Americas have been united by the birth-place of liberty, equality, and fraternity.

“And then, Caracas, thou city of noble sacrifices and heroic deeds, who art now at the height of thy prosperity, contemplate with pride this monument, with which the most loving of thy illustrious sons enriches thee at the centennial of Bolivar, a day which will be forever memorable, and the dawn of which was the glorious 19th of April, 1810!”

[Inclosure 2 in No. 751.]

Speech of Rear-Admiral Cooper.

Mr. President, members of the cabinet, ladies and gentlemen of Caracas: I thank you for the privilege of saying a word—only a word—for sailors do not make long speeches; we leave them to the priests and lawyers. I thank my country that I have been sent to represent her in Venezuela upon this occasion, and that I can take back with me such a good account of the wealth, resources, and prosperity of this model republic. This is a happy time to proclaim to the world your greatness, and these centennial ceremonies are a noble tribute to that great soldier, patriot, and liberator, Bolivar, the father of this fair land.

I say to you, Mr. President and loyal citizens of this nation, that although you are of Spanish and we of English descent, the people of the two countries belong to one family, a family whose pedigree is without a flaw, and whose escutcheon is without stain. We are freedom’s sons! I further say that I am proud to see you erect here this statue to General George Washington, the Bolivar of the United States of North America.

Where is a more fitting spot than this; here on freedom’s sacred soil, here in the heart of a rich land, rich in all things, rich in the fact that her freedom rose phoenix-like out of the ashes of the effete civilization of old Spain, rich in being blessed with a wise and enlightened ruler, rich in that boon of modern days, priceless liberty. In conclusion I thank you in the name of our President and of our whole people for this grateful tribute to the illustrious Father of our Country.

[Inclosure 3 in No. 751.]

Speech of Minister Baker.

Mr. President, Messrs. ministers, gentlemen of the junta directiva, ladies and gentlemen: I have heard with delight the very eloquent remarks of the orator of the day—pronounced in the act of unveiling this monumental statue of Washington.

I am deeply touched by his words profoundly appreciate this exquisitely beautiful act of friendliness towards my Government and my country—moving spontaneously from the Government and people of Venezuela.

In behalf of my Government—on behalf of the whole people of the United States—and most heartily on my own behalf—I respond in word of the heartiest reciprocation of the great good feeling and broad human grasp of spirit which is implied by the conception and execution of this most beautiful and friendly act.

Such an act is an indication that civilization is entering upon a new and higher career. It is a noble manifestation of that spirit of advancing humanity and brotherhood of nations, the victories of which shed higher honor upon man’s nature than those won upon fields of strife and blood.

The scene of the act is wonderfully touching and imposing. Venezuela places the statue of Washington in the most beautiful plaza of her beautiful capital, in the midst [Page 931] of the rich floral exuberance of the tropics, hard by the beautiful Santa Teresa, her most magnificent temple for the worship of Almighty God, and surrounded by that vast amphitheater of mountains, dominated by the cloud-capped and grand Silla which keeps everlasting watch and ward over the happy and smiling valley of Caracas.

This act is full-orbed and morally sublime. It touches the hearts of the two great! branches of our common race. Over the subtle tramways of human thought and sentiment its waves of beneficent influence will traverse the wide expanses of two continents, from the straits of Magellan and the stormy Horn to where the aurora crowns with electric fire the frozen zone of the North.

The people of my own fair and great land will hail it, with delight, as an offering of friendship which we will take to our hearts and warmly cherish as a precious tribute to the fame of our immortal Washington. And then, wherever the beautiful, the rich, Land the magnificent Spanish language is spoken upon either continent, from the Rio Orande to far-away Patagonia, throughout that vast group of nations whose hearts kindle with patriotic enthusiasm at the name of the immortal Bolivar, this act will be hailed as a happy symbol of that progressive development and civilization which is bringing all the republics of the two continents—as indeed all the nations of the globe—into more intimate, friendly, and humane relations.

This act takes place in the city which was at once the cradle of Bolivar and the cradle of that vast movement for independence of which he was the salient chief, and which enveloped all Spanish America: Venezuela, New Granada, Ecuador, Peru, Chili, Bolivia, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica—a fair and immense group of nations.

Washington was the salient chief of the great movement for independence upon the northern continent, and the one Republic with which his home fame is entwined—taking greatness and power from its unity—is an ample heritage for a gigantic development of civilization.

In the course which history has taken, Washington is the colossal historical figure of the northern continent, and Bolivar of the southern.

Here, at the home of Bolivar, and as one of the acts which celebrate the centennial of his birth, Venezuela unveils this beautiful statue of Washington; the act stands as a tribute of friendship from one continent to another.

It is indeed a full-orbed and morally sublime act. It is on a level with the highest reach of civilization. It calls the nations of both continents ‘to peace, and to more intimate friendship. It summons the great family of republics which are distributed upon this western hemisphere to live together in harmony and good will.

To witness, to appreciate, to sympathize with, and to honor this noble act, it was fit that the gallant and service-worn Rear-Admiral Cooper, attended by his splendid suit of officers, and borne in the finest vessel of the United States Navy, should come over the Caribbean Sea and visit the hospitable shores and the hospitable capital of Venezuela.

In consonance with the wide spirit of this act, I give a word of kindness and friendship to all the numerous representatives of all the nations of the earth who are here present.

I give a like word to all good people of Venezuela, whether here present or not.

I give a word of artistic and delicate recognition of the fair ladies of Caracas who grace this great assemblage with their presence; whose purity of character sheds honor upon their sex; whose affectionate devotion to their families equals all praise, and whose beauty catches exquisiteness from the magnificent climate in which it is their happy privilege to live.

I give a word of warm recognition to all the gentlemen of the junta directiva who have had the work of this happy act in charge.

I give a word of hearty hail and good cheer to the President of the Republic and to all the officials of his administration.

Placing together the names of Washington and Bolivar, I dispense the benisons of the Great Republic of the United States upon the beautiful and fascinating Republic of Venezuela.