Minister Jackson to the Secretary of State.

No. 23. Montenegrin series.]

Sir: I have the honor to report the receipt to-day of a note from the minister of foreign affairs at Cettinje, dated the 6/19th instant, informing me that deputies had assembled that day, the Skupshtina had been opened by a speech from the throne delivered by His Royal Highness the Prince of Montenegro, and the constitution had been solemnly proclaimed. I am requested to inform you that “by this act, so important and so memorable for the people of Montenegro, who are filled with gratitude and devotion to their magnanimous master (Maitre), the Principality which has heretofore been governed under an autocratic régime, has become a constitutional monarchy.”

Mr. Voucovitch writes that, “guided by ardent and profound affection for his subjects, the Prince, during the forty-six years of his reign, has ever been vigilant in behalf of the safety and prosperity of his country, and has never failed to interest himself sincerely in assuring their intellectual and economic development. In accord with the spirit of the age, His Royal Highness came to the conclusion that every man belonging to a cultivated state should at the same time be a free citizen, and in consequence he had decided of his own free will to institute a constitutional and representative régime.” The proclamation [Page 667] of the 18/31st of October and subsequent decrees providing for elections on the principle of suffrage, universal, equal, and direct, was the result.

In the speech from the throne the Prince refers to the reciprocal confidence between Prince and people which has existed in Montenegro for generations and which has resulted in the formation of a state whose independence has been recognized for centuries. The constitution is granted, the Prince says, not because the development of the state and its prosperity have been hindered by an autocratic government, but because the time has come, in his opinion, when a more progressive régime should be introduced. This constitution the Prince characterized as “an inheritance from his liberal ancestors, who had always been the first to inculcate ideas of liberty upon the hearts and minds of their subjects.”

In his speech the Prince refers to the good relations existing between Orthodox and Mohammedans in the Principality, while the sufferings of the Serbs in Old Servia and Macedonia “find an echo in the hearts of all Montenegrins.” Relations with Turkey are, however, described as friendly. In speaking of foreign relations the Prince mentions Russia first, “to whom, after God, Montenegro owes the most gratitude,” and then the Emperor Francis Joseph, with whom his personal relations “have never been troubled.” He also refers to the family ties connecting Montenegro and Italy, and to the promise made by the German Emperor to accredit a representative at Cettinje, as well as to the friendly relations existing with Great Britain and France. He adds that among the countries which have shown evidences of friendliness “must not be forgotten the United States of America, which has recently accredited a representative to my court.” He also mentions the good relations between Montenegro and Servia and Bulgaria. After reading the speech, the Prince took the oath to support the constitution.

The Skupshtina has already adjourned, and the mandates of its members are considered as having expired. New elections are to be held next October for members of the first regular Skupshtina, and in the meantime the government is to be carried on by the ministry just appointed by the Prince.

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I have, etc.,

John B. Jackson