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Independence of the Spanish Provinces.
cipation on a solid and permanent basis, worthy of this precious portion of the globe. He declared, moreover, that he abstained, through delicacy, from making, on this occasion, certain other reflections of great importance, which he had communicated in his official correspondence with the supreme chief of the republic to General Marino, second in command, and to the admiral of the squadron; and being convinced of their weight and importance, the two latter gentlemen had given proofs of the respect with which they had received his communications. Referring himself to the president as to their contents, he concluded by recommending anew the imperious necessity of the measure, and called for the prompt establishment of the Government.
The Admiral next addressed the assembly in the following manner:
Fellow-citizens and brothers :
Nothing has filled with greater pleasure an adopted son of Venezuela than the presence of this respectable assembly, called together by the second in command, who is vested with the powers of the first, on a subject so important to the salvation of our country; his name from this day will be immortalized, having complied with the wishes of the sovereign people of Venezuela, and fulfilled those of our sovereign chief. I felicitate you, brothers, on so wise a step, and I have the satisfaction of announcing to you, for your own, that the sacrifices which I have made to this day in the service of my country, are nothing in comparison to what I pledge myself to consecrate to it henceforward; convinced as I am that a Government, stable and energetic, by supporting our own force, will likewise induce our foreign friends to extend to us the hand of friendship, and contribute to the maintenance of our liberty and independence. They are already well disposed. They are acquainted with the integrity of m principles. They know that I have not shrun from any satigues or exertions in the cause of Venezuela ; and, with the aid of the squadron under my command, they only wait to co-operate with your virtue, union, and wisdom, in consolidating the republic and increasing its respectability.
All of the speakers were of a unanimous opinion on the subject proposed, and demonstrated, with great energy, the necessity of immediately establishing the provisional Government proposed by his Excellency ; applauding, at the same time, his patriotic determination, and adding, that he would do immortal honor to the republic if he would immediately consent to be installed, and that they should re-establish, as well as circumstances would admit of, the Government of the constitution. They urged, by many important arguments, the political considerations which had rendered this measure indispensable and urgent; and showed, by the most solid reasoning and conclusive references, that the measure was conformable to the unanimous voice of the people, to the upright and well-known wishes of the supreme chief, and to the interests of mankind.
The President then rose, and observed :
Approving as I do of your resolution, and believing it to be conformable to the patriotic views of the supreme chief, and to the sentiments which he has so often expressed in all his proclamations, I declare, in the presence of the Supreme Being and of the people of Venezuela, whom you represent, that the Supreme Congress of the republic is, from this moment, installed ; and I resign into your hands the supreme authority, which, by the act passed at Margarita, was conferred, in the first instance, on General Simon Bolivar, and by him on me, acting in his and my own name, in virtue of the republican principles which we both possess, and which equally animate all our friends and companions in arms, who have with so much valor and glory defended the holy cause of liberty and independence. I retire, that you may freely deliberate on what may be most conducive to the safety of the State, requesting you only to hold in mind that my highest ambition is to shed my blood in combatting for the independence of my country, and that I do not aspire to or desire any higher honor from the republic than to contribute, in favor of my friends and fellowcitizens, to the establishment of the blessings of liberty.
His Excellency, being in the act of withdrawing from the assembly, accompanied by the Ad; miral, Intendant, and the canon Cortes, called upon the officer of the guard, and ordered him to place himself at the disposal of the Congress, the senior member of which proceeded to occupy the seat of the President, and, all the members standing, the oath prescribed by the Federal Constitution, according to the form therein laid down, was administered to them by the citizen and Secretary Diego Bautista Urbanesa, qualified for that purpose. They then entered into a discussion on the various points relating to the object for which the assembly was called, and, after deliberating and agreeing unanimously on all of them
The citizen President read the following act:
City of SAN Felipe DE CARIAco, On the 8th day of May, 1817.
We, the representatives of the United States of Venezuela, Francisco Xavier Mays, deputy to the Federal Congress for the State of Cumana, a member of the executive department, and President of the same (in rotation) at the time of its recess at Valencia, on the 9th of May, 1812, Francisco Xavier de Alcala, Manuel Ysaba, Diego Valenilla, Francisco de Paula Naval, Diego Antonio Alcala, Diego Bautista Urbanesa, and Manuel Maneyro.
On mature deliberation, and with a free will, formally decree: That, from this time, we resume the constitutional character and representation, in the full and absolute possession of which, we have been reinstated by the distinguished General Santiago Marino, in the name of the supreme chief of the republic, the meritorious citizen Simon Bolivar, and in his own person, as second chief of the State, and, consequently, at this moment holding in his hands the reins of government; and we make known to all the people of the Confederacy, and call upon the Supreme Being to witness the purity of our intentions, that, from this date, the Federal Government of the republic is reinstated in its three departments, Legislative, Executive, and Judicial, for the requisite despatch of all business to them respectively appertaining; and we therefore appoint, for the administration of the Executive Government, citizen General Ferdinando del Toro, citizen Francisco Xavier Mays, who were heretofore members of the said department; also, citizens General Simon Bolivar, Francisco Zea, José Cortes Madariaga, and Diego Valenilla; it being understood that the three latter shall exercise the wer only ad interim, until the honorable citizens Toro and Bolivar, now absent, shall repair to such city as may be designated for the residence of the Government. To the judicial department we appoint citizens Juan Martinez, José Espana, Gaspar Marcano, and Ramon Cadiz; the latter for the judicial administration. And as, in consequence of the weighty and momentous considerations which have determined our most excellent fellow-citizens now acting as chiefs ad interim of the Republic, to divest themselves of the attributes of administration, and restore them, through the medium of the Government, reinstated by the indefatigable zeal of both for the salvation of the country, which has thus recovered its political rank, it is necessary that a new oath should be administered to the functionaries and authorities, both civil and military, of the departments that have regained their liberty, and successively of those which shall regain it; and begin forthwith with those of this city, I name and appoint to-morrow morning at nine o'clock for them to take the said oath before us; and that proper orders to all public functionaries, absent in foreign countries, be given to present themselves, within the space of thirty days, in the city of Annunciation, the capital of the State of Margarita, which, under existing circumstances, being most conveniently situated, and of the most easy and free access, we name, for the present, the residence of the Federal Government, with the faculty of removing the same to any other capital on the continent which may appear most convenient. And if it shall be made to appear that the said public functionaries shall, without just and lawful motives, sail to comply with this summons, they shall, by that act itself, be understood as having forfeited their rights of citizenship, and, consequently, every civil and military right in the Republic. We finally implore the mercy of the Most High, in the humble hope that he will vouchsafe to protect us; and we solemnly declare, in his presence, and that of all the people of the earth, that the sole object of our unremitted endeavors is to preserve in the enjoyment of peace and liberty the virtuous remains of the great Venezuelan family, saved by the special interposition of his adorable goodness, from the savage sury and destruction of despotism; protesting before him, that our determination is sooner to bury
Independence of the Spanish Provinces.
ourselves under the ruins of the Republic, than to return to the slavery and chains we have endured for three centuries, which, after the bright examle of our brethren of Colombia, we have broken orever. And be it known to all, that we, the reresentatives who have hereunto subscribed, are rmly resolved, and do solemnly promise and engage, by all the most sacred obligations which bind in one, both politically and morally, to seal with our blood this our patriotic resolution. That this act, together with the requsite exposition of the motives which have produced it, be communicated to General Simon Bolivar; and that he be invited, so soon as his military duties will permit, to come and take possession of a station in which he will not fail to render the Republic immortal services, and worthy of his name. That certified copies of this act be transmitted to all the chief officers of the departments, both civil and military; and that the Commander-inChief of the Army, and the admiral of the squadron, be notified of the result of the proceedings of the Federal Assembly, that they may concur with the Executive power in taking the oath, and communicating its orders, to the end that the said oath be taken both by the Army and Navy. That it be publicly proclaimed in this city, and all the towns of the federation, and that, by public festivals and rejoicings, the general joy be manifested on the restoration of the national sovereignty under a formal constitution, which, being tempered and modified agreeably to the lights of the age and the lessons of experience, will be the safeguard of our independence and liberty. Whereupon the sitting closed, and they signed, namely: Francisco Xavier de Mays, President; Manuel Ysaba, Diego de Valenilla, Francisco Xavier Alcala, Diego Antonio Alcala, Francisco de Paula Naval, Manuel Maneyro, Diego Bautista Urbanesa, secretary, with the power of taking the Wotes. In the city of San Felipe de Cariaco, this 9th day of May, 1817, the Federal Congress having thus re-assembled, there appeared before it the citizens, the Commander-in-chief of the armies of the Republic, and commander of the armed force, Santiago Marino, and Admiral Luis Brion, who, having taken the oath before the President, and me, the aforesaid Secretary, agreeably to the form prescribed by the federal Constitution of Venezuela, recognised and acknowledged the sovereign authority vested in this body, and other authorities derived from it, promising and engaging to obey and o the federative comct expressed and set forth in the said code. In ike manner, the citizen Francisco Xavier Mays withdrawing from the Presidential chair, and the citizen Francisco Xavier Alcala occupying it in his place, the oath was taken in the same form by the three members who are to enter into the discharge of the Executive power, namely, citizen Francisco Xavier Mays, Francisco Antonio Zea, and José Cortes Madariaga, who were thereupon invested with the functions attached to their high office (the two latter in the quality of provisional members) until the appearance of the Generals Bolivar and Toro. And the Assembly having verified this act, and taken into consideration the existing circumstances, declared itself in a state of adjournment, to which the following members subscribed their signatures : Francisco Xavier de Mays, Francisco Antonio Zea, José Cortes Madariaga, Santiago Marino, Luis Brion, Francisco Xavier Alcala, Diego Valenilla, Manuel Ysaba, Diego Antonio Alcala, Francisco de Paula Naval, Manuel Maneyro, Diego Bautista Urbanesa, (vocal secretario). Secretary authorized to take the votes. A true copy: C. BESARES, Acting Sec. of State.
Independence of the Spanish Provinces.
No. 12. General Artigas to James Monroe, President of the United States of North America.
HEADQUARTERs AT PURification, September 1, 1817.
Most ExcelleNT SiR : I had the honor to communicate, in the first instance, with Mr. Thomas Lloyd Halsey, Consul of the United States in these provinces, and I have to congratulate myself on so fortunate an incident. I have tendered to him my respects and all my services; and I will avail myself of this favorable occasion of presenting to your Excellency my most cordial respect. The various events of the revolution have hitherto deprived me of the opportunity of according this duty with my wishes. I pray your Excellency to be pleased to accept them, now that I have the honor to offer them to you, with the same sincerity that I strive to promote the public weal and the glory of the Republic. To their support are all my efforts directed, aided by the sacrifices of thousands of my fellow-citizens. Heaven grant our wishes In that event I shall renew to your Excellency, still more warmly, the assurance of my cordial regard, and of the high consideration with which I have the honor to be, sir, yours, &c. JOSE ARTIGAS.
Mr. Aguirre to the President of the United States of North America.
Washington, Oct. 29, 1817.
Most Excellent SiR : Three centuries of colonial oppression by a corrupt, superstitious, and ignorant nation, whose obstinate and iniquitous
olicy ever has been to vilify the inhabitants of
outh America, as being destined to vegetate in obscurity and debasement; (such are the expressions of the Viceroy Albancos;) the violent system of keeping them in ignorance of all information in compatible with its principles of colonial dependence; the perverse policy of denying to the children of the mother country, and their lawful descendants on the American continent, the rights of citizens in the exercise of a practical equality; the exclusive monopoly of commerce despotically exercised, regulated by the laws solely in favor of
15th §. 1st SEss.-60
the mother country, and maintained by force at the price of the blood of innocent victims, natives of the country; the black ingratitude with which it has conducted itself towards the capital of Buenos Ayres, after having so gallantly and energetically defended the Spanish dominion against the English army under General Beresford in 1806, and the army of 12,000 men of the same nation, commanded by General Whitelock in 1807; final. ly, the infamous engagement to force them, against their consent, to submit to the yoke which the Emperor Napoleon (an instrument, as it were, of divine justice for the chastisement of thrones) imposed upon Spain, to avenge the bloody usurpations of the Empires of Mexico and Peru, prepared these people, on the 25th of May, 1810, for their separation from the Spanish nation, alread conquered by the French, not to admit the additional circumstance that the inhabitants of these É.'. preserved them for the captive King on Ferdinand VII. and his lawful successors. On the restoration of the King of Spain to his throne, a sufficient time was afforded to give him the opportunity of correcting his counsels, stating the grievances and injuries he complained of, and finally of proposing an honorable termination of these differences. Although the deputy had not yet arrived at the Court of Madrid, the King had already despatched his inexorable and bloody decrees; and the expedition under General Morillo crossed the seas to wage a war of devastation on these countries. The natural right of self defence imposed the necessity of taking measures to repel force by force. Hostile armies were the worst means which could be employed to bring about an accommodation. When the deputy of the Court of Madrid informed this Government that the King of Spain insisted on leaving no other alternative than the most abject submission, and that he claimed these provinces as the property of his crown, (doubtless to make them the victims to Spanish vengeance,) then it was that the sovereign Congress of these provinces having assembled did, in imitation of the example of their brethren and natural friends of North America, unanimously proclaim, in the city of Tucuman, on the 9th day of July, 1816, the solemn act of their civil independence of the Spanish nation, of the King of Spain, his heirs and successors, and did swear, together with the ople represented by them, to support their poitical emancipation at the risk of their lives, fortunes, and honor. God preserve your Excellency many years. MANUEL H. DE AGUIRR.E.
No. 14. Don Manuel H. de Aguirre to the Secretary of State. City of WAshington, December 16, 1817. Most ExcelleNT SIR: Having had the honor to inform you in October last, that the United Provinces in South America had declared themselves free and independent States, and to lay before you the reasons which supported that declaration, together with the object and credentials of my mission to the Government of the United States, the respect I owe to the instructions of my constituents, and the due discharge of the trust with which they have honored me, now induce me to demand of this Government the acknowledgment of those provinces as such free and independent States. By my previous communications, you will have perceived that this declaration was not premature, and that the provinces of Rio de la Plata abstained from making it whilst it could have been attributed to the effect of the difficulties of the mother country. They held so lofty a conception to be among the obligations which they were about to contract on placing themselves in the rank of nations; and, before they cut short the interminable o of vexatious and patient sufferings of which Spanish America offers so striking an example, they preferred exhausting all the means of conciliation which prudence could suggest, and proving whether their own conviction of their rights, and of the injuries they had suffered, would rise superior to their ancient habit of submission and obedience, and whether they were able to surmount the obstacles and embarrassments inseparable from their new situation. It was after repeated proofs of this kind, and after uniform results, that the Congress of those provinces declared them sovereign States, on the 9th of July, 1816. Notwithstanding all these proofs and precautions, the respect due to foreign nations made my Government anxious farther to obtain an attitude which might inspire greater confidence before it asked of them to acknowledge her as worthy of the high rank to which she had raised herself. During the space of six years previous to their declaration of independence, the forces of these provinces had obtained signal successes on the eastern border, having captured the whole of the royal squadron which attacked them ; reduced one of the strongest places in our hemisphere, after a memorable siege, and made prisoners of war the strong garrison which defended it; and if victory was not always the inseparable companion of our arms in Peru, it was often so, and enabled us to drive back the satellites of tyranny to a greater distance from our territories. Almost eighteen months have passed since this declaration—eighteen months, during which the King's forces have had no other object in view than to rivet anew the chains which Spanish America had burst asunder and shaken off. If such an undertaking had been within the power of Spain, she never could have had a more favorable opportunity than at present, when she has had at her disposal, disengaged from any other calls of service, an army numerous and warlike, and the aids of all who interest themselves in perpetuating the monopoly and subjection of our country. It is true that Spain proceeded to fit out an expedition the most brilliant that was ever employed in the subjugation of our contiment; but this expedition, although repeatedly re
Independence of the Spanish Provinces.
inforced, has scarcely been able to maintain its ground with honor in a single province; consumed as it has been by the dreadful phenomena of nature, and, above all, by a six years' war of the most sanguinary and exasperated character; while the provinces of Rio de la Plata have not only been able, during all that time, to preserve the precious treasure of their liberty, but to bestow it, without foreign aid, on their brethren of Chili, and to force the King's troops to retire towards Peru, which, having been reinforced by fresh detachments, had ventured to show themselves on our territory. It is under such circumstances, it is after having shown and proven the grounds and motives of its declaration, and the means it possesses to support it, that my Government has thought it conformable to the respect due to nations to make it known to them, and to solicit their acknowledgment of its sovereignty. My Government, considering that of the United States as one of the first of whom it ought to solicit this acknowledgment, believed that the identity of political principles, the consideration of their inhabiting the same hemisphere, and the sympathy so natural to those who have experienced similar evils, would be so many additional reasons in support of its anxiety. There still exist, there still preside over the councils of the nation, many of those who supported and sealed here with #. blood the rights of man ; their wounds, permit me to say so, are so many powerful advocates here for the Spanish Americans. The recollection that it was these States which first pointed out to us the path of glory, and the evidence that they are enjoying most fully the blessed effects of liberty, inspire me with the conviction that it is for them also to show that they know how to appreciate our efforts, and thereby animate the other provinces which, less fortunate, have not yet been able to put an end to the sanguinary struggle. I cannot close this communication without requesting you to make known to the President the wishes of the United Provinces in South America; and, also, to represent to him their earnest desire to see firmly established, between these States and those provinces, relations mutually beneficial, suited to Governments and people whose institutions are so analogous, and all whose interests invite them to promote and maintain a close and permanent friendship. God preserve you many years. MANUEL H. DE AGUIRR.E.
No. 15. Don Manuel H. de Aguirre to the Secretary of State. December 26, 1817.
SiR : I had the honor to inform you, on the 16th of this month, that the United Provinces of South America, having declared themselves free and independent, had made a request to be considered as such by these United States; and, as you expressed a desire, in the conference with which you honored me the day before yesterday, to be more fully informed of the grounds on which those provinces formed their request, I now comply with your desire. In my said note I particularly stated the circumspection with which my Government had proceeded, and the precautions it had taken from a sense of its own honor, and the respect due to other nations, before it required to be considered by them as a sovereign Power. You were pleased to remark on the uncertainty of establishing a new Government, and the hesitation naturally produced o such a request; and you preferred that it should be delayed, or not made until all doubt was removed of the real existence and duration of their sovereignty, and they have iven a pledge to foreign nations that there existed no intention to commit them by making this request. For more than seven years have these provinces carried on, alone, an active and successful war. The evidences of their successes have been witnessed in the capture of the royal squadron, the occupation of Montevideo, the numerous prisoners of war who fertilize our fields, the chastisement of the King's forces in Peru, and the recovery of the provinces of Chili. Meanwhile, our interior organization has been progressively improving. Our people have made an essay in the science of government, and have appointed a congress of representatives, which is engaged in promoting the general weal. A plan of military defence has been formed, in which we were before deficient, and a system of revenue organized that has hitherto been cometent to provide for our numerous wants; finaly, public opinion is daily gaining ground, unsupported by which the Government would have been unable to undertake the enterprises which have distinguished it. The strength of our oppressors diminishing with the increase of our means of defence, their hopes declining of longer tyrannizing over us, a regular system of government, the decision of our citizens, a competent revenue, an organized force sufficiently strong for the defence of the country, a squadron afloat, a disposable army in Chili, and a second operating in Peru—all this must surely undeceive our enemies, even if the habit of authority should still flatter them with hopes. otwithstanding the professions of neutrality on the part of the United States, towards the contending parties in Spanish America; notwithstanding the indifference, if I may say so, with which the United States have looked on a country deluged with blood by its tyrants, I would not offend you, sir, by the idea that you consider it necessary that we should offer proofs of the justice of our cause. The few of our sufferings that have come to the knowledge of foreign nations have filled them with horror and indignation ; never was the human race so debased elsewhere as we have been ; never did men draw their swords in a more sacred cause. But the provinces of Rio de la Plata mean not to excite the sensibility of the United States. They only call upon their justice. The contest
Independence of the Spanish Provinces.
in South America can be viewed in no other light than as a civil war; and I have proven to you, sir, the prosperous and respectable attitude of those provinces. Are they, then, to be thought worthy of being ranked among nations 7 Do their full enjoyment of all the rights of sovereignty for more than seven years, their successes, and present position, give them a right to become one 7 The apprehension that this acknowledgment might involve the United States in a war with the chief of the adverse party could not be justly considered by my Government as a sufficient motive to prevent their soliciting it; since, however little of justice or prudence may be found in the councils of the King of Spain, even that would suffice to prove that other nations have distinct and fixed rules whereby to estimate political successes: that, practically, they acknowledge no other sovereign power than that which is so de facto; that they can inquire no further without interfering with the internal concerns of other nations; and that, when a nation is divided into two parties, or the bonds of the political compact between the monarch and the people happen to be otherwise broken, they both have equal rights, and owe the same obligations to neutral nations. It follows, therefore, that the contending parties in Spanish America are not subjected to different rules. If these rules may sometimes be varied, or admit of any alteration, the exception should always be in favor of the oppressed against the oppressor. It is therefore strongly contended by many of the most celebrated civilians, “that in all revolutions produced by the tyranny of the prince, foreign nations have a right to assist an oppressed people;” a right dictated by justice and generosity. Now it cannot be supposed that the observance of justice ever gave a pretext for war to the party or nation most interested in a different conduct. Since, therefore, my Government has limited its pretensious to the acknowledgment of its real and effective sovereignty, which even our adversary himself would not call in question, it considers itself authorized to take this step, by the practice of nations, by public opinion, and the sanction of eternal justice. In our late conference, you appeared to find an objection in the occupation of Montevideo by the Portuegese troops. But if credit is to be given to the correspondence between my Government and that of Brazil, the principal motive for this war is the ancient pretension of the King of Brazil to more extensive limits. It will probably be impossible for him to obtain them, as one of our most distinguished commanders, supported by the most ample resources, is now engaged in repelling them; and notwithstanding the double family ties which now connect that Sovereign with the King of Spain, our national existence, so far from being seriously threatened by the war in that quarter, [La Banda Oriental,l is strengthened by it. You also remarked, that similar pretensions had been formed by other provinces of Spanish America now contending