to Mr. Frelinghuysen.
Buenos Ayres, October 24, 1883. (Received December 13.)
Sir: The Argentine Congress closed its annual session on the 22d instant. Of the great number of bills introduced, only about seventy-five passed and became laws, and these have no importance except to meet the local wants of the country. Under the recommendation of the minister of finance a bill was introduced in the House of Deputies to borrow $80,000,000 with a view to calling in the outstanding 6 per cent, bonds and consolidating the debt of the country in 5 per cent, bonds, and the construction of public works. The bill was defeated, and the finance minister resigned. The bill which produced the greatest and most intense agitation, not only in Congress but throughout the whole country, was a bill introduced in the House prohibiting the teaching of religious dogmas in the common schools. It provoked a warm and angry debate, which lasted more than two weeks. The best debating talent of the House was called out on both sides. The minister of education, representing the President and a majority of the cabinet, appeared on the floor in favor of the bill and spoke for one day. The press took up the question, was divided, and became very bitter. The bill passed the House and went to the Senate. While the bill was under discussion in the Senate a procession of more than one thousand ladies of the first families of this city proceeded to the Senate and presented to the president a petition, signed by many thousands of women, asking the Senate to refuse to pass the bill. A vote was immediately taken, and by “smart judgment” the bill was rejected by one vote. In some of the speeches of the senators and deputies it was strongly intimated that the time was close at hand for the separation of church and state, and as it is quite probable that the matter will come up in the next Congress, I should not be surprised if such a proposition should be presented looking in that direction, as many both in the church and state believe that in a separation both the state and church would make better progress than under the present organization.
President Boca has been granted by Congress a leave of absence from the capital for two months. About the first of next month he will proceed to Santa Fé, to inaugurate the railroad just finished from Santa Fé the capital of the province, to the city of Rosario, and then he will proceed to his native province, Tucuman.
I have, &c.,