File No. 11513/14.
Minister Bryan to the Secretary of State.
Lisbon, February 3, 1908.
Sir: I have the honor to confirm my cipher dispatch of February l,1 and to state that at about half past 5 o’clock on Saturday I heard that the King and Crown Prince had been shot. At the royal palace, [Page 688] whither I hurried, nothing definite could be learned. Driving to the arsenal of marine I had ocular evidence in the sight of the corpses of King Carlos and his heir that the report was true of both being dead. Asking authority of the prime minister for the immediate transmission of my message, I cabled the sad news to the department, and fearing that there might be a delay in the delivery and deciphering of this dispatch I likewise telegraphed the same information to the President.
We learned from eyewitnesses that on their return after a sojourn of several weeks in the country the royal family were cordially welcomed by their courtiers; the King, Queen, with their two sons, then entered one carriage. As it turned from the main square into a narrow street a heavily bearded man rushed from the crowd and discharged a rifle at the King, which, with a pistol shot that followed, killed him instantly, three bullets taking effect in the back and neck.
Three or more men poured a volley or shots at the carriage, several balls wounding the Crown Prince fatally while he was standing shooting at the assassins. The Queen vainly tried to protect her elder as she did successfully her younger son. She also stood beating one of the assassins in the face with a large bouquet, holding her cloak in front of the prince and crying for help. While three of the murderers were meeting their fate at the hands of the police and multitude the royal carriage dashed into the court of the marine hospital near by. The King died instantly, the Crown Prince before he was taken from the carriage. The bereaved mother and grandmother, with the younger prince, who was slightly wounded in the arm, were hurried away under heavy guard. The courtiers and one or two diplomats remained until the bodies of the King and his superb boy were lifted back into equipages, where their faces were covered and their chamberlains took their wonted seats beside and in front of them, all being driven through hushed crowds to the palace.
In my former dispatches I have narrated the events that gradually brought about an acute state of affairs that forcibly affected the public mind and which culminated in this dreadful tragedy. During the preceding week there had been many arrests of prominent Republicans and Dissidents in consequence of real or imaginary disturbances and, on one night, of an abortive attempt to incite the people to revolution. A decree was then promulgated vesting the ministry with absolute power to banish whomever it chose to accuse of being inimical to the State. This arbitrary act created deep indignation among all classes. It was the death knell of Franco’s absolutism. It cost the King and his son their lives. While mystery surrounds the assassins, and little is known of their previous affiliations, it does not appear that they were the tools of any organization, or that they had abettors or accomplices of prominence. Although they undoubtedly had formed a murderous conspiracy, it seems as if they were merely their own agents of destruction, moved by the spirit of universal protest against the despotic decree of banishment, which threatened them alike with those more conspicuous.
The young King, who completed his eighteenth year in October, possesses the rare charm of his mother, whom he worships. His preceptors tell me that he is of studious habits and has a firm will. One of these instructors confirms the assurance of the youthful sovereign [Page 689] that he entertains grateful sentiments to our Government for having hastened the visit of an American squadron to Lisbon in 1904, so that it might participate in his initiation as a naval cadet. The young prince often stated he would never forget this courtesy.
I have, etc.,