Mr. Tree to
Brussels , November 1, 1886. (Received November 15.)
Sir: I have the honor to inform you that the largest and most important manifestation in favor of the granting of amnesty to the men engaged in the riots and plundering of last spring, and of universal suffrage, which has yet occurred in Belgium, took place yesterday at Charleroi. Delegations attended from a number of the industrial centers of the Kingdom, and there were 35,000 persons in line. Five hundred women, dressed in mourning, headed the procession, and upwards of 200 red flags waved in its ranks. As the procession moved through the streets of the city the bands played “La Marseillaise,” and the participants, at intervals, raised cries of “Vive le suffrage universel! Amnistie!” The “Garde civique” was under arms, but the public order was perfect and the attitude of the people was entirely peaceable. They belonged exclusively to the working class. A deputation presented an address to the burgomaster, demanding amnesty and universal suffrage, who promised to transmit the address to the Government.[Page 40]
There seems to be little doubt that the demand for universal suffrage is gaining ground rapidly, and is becoming so pressing that I should not be surprised to see a proposition looking to the accomplishment of this end brought to the front this winter in Parliament. In that case it is possible that the Government may favor some extension of the privilege, but it is not probable that universal suffrage, pure and simple, will be adopted this year in Belgium. The signs, apparently, all point to its coming eventually, however.
I have, &c.,