Minister Russell to the Secretary of State.

No. 29.]

Sir: I have the honor to inform you that the National Assembly was opened here yesterday with much pomp and ceremony. The diplomatic corps in uniform marched with the President from the palace to the senate chamber through lines of the national troops drawn up on each sidewalk and sat in the diplomatic gallery through the reading of the President’s message. I inclose herewith a copy or said message with the parts marked that are of interest to the United States, and translations thereof.

I am, etc.,

William W. Russell.
[Page 240]

president’s message.


Colombia’s relations with all the countries with which she cultivates friendship are cordial, and from all of them the government has received, through the diplomatic representatives accredited in this capital, not only assurances of their kindly feelings toward us, but also the satisfaction with which they view the unanimous effort of the nation to put an end forever to the fratricidal strifes which for nearly a century have sapped its energies and to enter upon the paths of prosperity and grandeur.

For the purpose of settling pending boundary and commercial questions with Venezuela and Brazil diplomatic ministers have been accredited to these two Republics. The one appointed for Venezuela is already in Caracas, and the one who is to represent us in Brazil will leave shortly for his post.

We trust that our neighbors will recognize and grant the justice we ask of them, and in regard to Peru and Brazil we also trust that our rights will be recognized in that vast and rich region of the Amazon, explored and made known to the world by Colombians more than by any others, and of which exploring party I had the honor to be chief, as is shown in the report which, in the name of Colombia and as its representative, I presented to the Second International American Congress of Mexico. Said congress ordered a bronze tablet to be made in memory of my two brothers with this inscription:

“The delegates to the Second International American Congress assembled in Mexico in 1901 and 1902, to Nestor and Enrique Reyes, killed in the service of American civilization.”

Pardon me for making reference to facts which concern me personally, but I consider very important this resolution of the International Congress of Mexico as a moral title of great value, which is in addition to the legal titles which Colombia holds to the land washed by the Putumayo and Caquetá, unknown deserts when my brothers and I explored them, and which to-day are known to the world and mapped, due chiefly to said explorations which were extended to the greater part of the immense tract washed by the Amazon and its tributaries.

There has been lately appointed a minister plenipotentiary to the Government of the United States, and who will soon leave for his post for the purpose of endeavoring to arrange pending questions with that country growing out of recent events on the Isthmus of Panama. Faithfully interpreting the national sentiment, the government believes that it is contrary to the interests of the Republic to postpone indefinitely the solution of these questions, and consequently the necessary instructions will be given to the minister who has been appointed to discuss said questions with a due regard, in the first place, to the honor and dignity of the country, and in the second place to its economical and material interests. If our minister, in whose patriotism and capacity the government has full confidence, should succeed in celebrating a treaty under such conditions, said treaty will be submitted to your consideration in accordance with the requirements of the constitution.

We should not lose sight of the fact that the opening of the Panama Canal will be an efficacious and powerful aid in every sense to the development and progress of the nation, as we are the most favorably situated to reap the benefits from this gigantic undertaking.

The departments of Cauca and of the Atlantic coast give proof of this assertion, in view of the great increase in their commerce during the works of the old French company from 1880 to 1888.