Slike strani

concerning all sorts of rights, that man in this world can possibly pretend to, possessing every advantage of education and reading, that modern and ancient times could furnish them, should be adapted and fashioned, in every lineament and proportion, for immediate self-government. On the other hand, it is equally clear, that a population such as South America contained in 1810, upon whom every sort of slavery had rested with the heaviest hand for three hundred years, and composed, at least, of five different races of men, cannot be, at once, as it were, with the sound of a trumpet, roused from a long debasing lethargy of all the faculties, revived, refreshed and exalted into the moral and enlightened citizens of a representative republic. They remind one of the story of the seven sleepers of Ephesus, who, at the end of two centuries, appeared again in the world with their uncouth, singular dress, and obsolete language, offering for bread an ancient medal of Decius, as the current coin of the empire. The revolution in South America can be regarded in no other light than as the first scene in the political regeneration of that people. Liberty, the most precious thing in the possession of man, would indeed, be purchased at a cheap rate, if the Spanish Americans were at a single bound to pass to the full enjoyment of it.

Not only a remarkable ignorance of passing events has long prevailed in the Spanish colonies, to the degree that Humboldt met with an intelligent Frenchman on the borders of the Orinoco, who seemed unacquainted with the great transactions, that have taken place in Europe the last thirty years, but from the same causes, acting in a contrary direction, it has been found extremely difficult to obtain accurate information (in some cases no information at all could be procured) of the political condition of those countries. Not satisfied with the representations of the colonial agents, but convinced, that some progress towards independence had been made, and desirous to secure for this country their full and just share of any commercial advantages, that might be offered, the government determined in 1817,* to despatch

* In 1811 and 1812 Mr. Poinsett and Mr. Scott had been despatch

three special commissions to South America for the single purpose of obtaining some just and precise notions of the real situation of affairs there. Messrs. Theodorick Bland, Cæsar A. Rodney and George Graham were selected, and sailed in a frigate in December 1817, for the River La Plata, with instructions to examine into the condition of Buenos Ayres and Chili. The latter business was undertaken by the first named individual. Nothing, we believe, contained in the reports, transmitted by these gentlemen, inspired regret at the delay of the government in the recognition of the new states. But it was quite obvious, that at some period, probably not distant, a portion, at least, of the vast Spanish American empire, would fall off and separate from the ancient dominion of the mother country, and acquire (when all the political jaundice, that showed itself in wars, juntas and legislative assemblies had been dissipated or reabsorbed) some sort of solidity and permanency. The attention of the government was, therefore, fixed with a steady, watchful eye on the Provinces, particularly as undoubted information was obtained of a negotiation in progress between France and Buenos Ayres; and from the prolonged residence in England of Mr. Rivadavia (a person of great consideration) some arrangement was, also, in all probability, concerting with that power, which, on account of its commercial preponderance, was not without an alarming interest to the United States. Indeed, this government early proposed both to France and England to recognise, in concert, the independence of the Provinces of the River La Plata,

Not discouraged by the unsatisfactory result of the first commission, the government appointed, in the summer of

ed as political agents to Buenos Ayres and Venezuela. It was important not only to have early and authentic information of the state of the countries, but the movements of some European cabinets there, particularly that of St. James, excited constant and great uneasiness. M. de Chasne, an emissary of the Emperor Napoleon, was known to have been in Buenos Ayres as early as 1808. He was, however, sent




1820* Messrs. T. B. Prevost and John M. Forbes agents for commerce and seamen for Chili and Buenos Ayres. The reader will observe, that these individuals were not furnished with powers or instructions in any sense called diplomatic, though directed to make representations (as will be seen in the paragraph we are about to recite from a letter from the department of state) on subjects of obvious interest to this country.

"The commercial intercourse between the United States and those countries, though not very considerable, is deserving of particular attention. Whatever accurate information you can obtain, relating to it, as well as to the commerce of those countries with other nations and to their internal trade, will be particularly acceptable. The condition of our seamen there will, also, deserve your notice. The performance of these duties will involve also the political relations between those countries and the United States. In the progress of their revolution Buenos Ayres and Chili have, to the extent of their powers, and, indeed, far beyond their natural means, combined maritime operations with those of their war by land. Having no ships or seamen of their own, they have countenanced and encouraged foreigners to enter their service, without always considering how far it might affect either the rights or the duties of the nations, to which those foreigners belonged. The privateers, which, with the commissions and under the flag of Buenos Ayres, have committed so many and such atrocious acts of piracy, were all either fitted out, manned and officered by foreigners at Buenos Ayres, or even in foreign countries, not excepting our own, to which blank commissions both for the ships and officers were transmitted. In the instructions to the late Commodore Perry, which his lamented decease prevented from being executed by him, and a copy of which is now furnished to you, certain articles of the Buenos Ayrean privateering ordinance were pointed out, particularly liable to the production of these abuses, and which, being contrary to the established usages among civilized nations, it was hoped, would have been revoked or made to disappear from their otherwise unexceptionable code. These instructions were renewed to Commodore Morris, but the time of his

* Mr. Hogan was commercial agent in 1821, at Valparaiso.

stay at Buenos Ayres was so short, and he was there at a moment of so great a change in the ruling power of the state, that although he communicated to the then existing Director, the substance of the representations, which Commodore Perry had been instructed to make, we know not that it was attended with any favourable result. You will consider the parts of Commodore Perry's instructions, which may be still applicable on your arrival in South America, as directed to yourself, and should you proceed to Chili, will execute them there, no communication upon the subject having yet been made there. Among the inconveniences, consequent upon this system of carrying on maritime warfare by means of foreigners, has been occasionally and to a considerable extent, the enticement of seamen, belonging to merchant vessels in the ports of Buenos Ayres and Chili from their engagements, to enlist them in privateers or other armed vessels of those countries. In attending to the numerous trials and convictions for piracy, which have recently afflicted our country, and cast an unusual gloom over our annals, you will remark that a great proportion of the guilty persons have been seamen thus engaged-foreigners at Buenos Ayres, or enlisted in our own ports in violation of our laws."

The exertions of Mr. Forbes were so far successful, as to procure a decree, issued by the government of Buenos Ayres on the 6th of October 1821, forbidding the granting of privateer commissions.

We have, hitherto, not had occasion to mention Peru, where, before 1819, 20, no revolutionary movement took place. This backwardness is, we believe, fully explained in the following paragraph from a letter of an intelligent gentleman, well acquainted with the situation of the Spanish Provinces.

"The landed estates are in the hands of large proprietors and are cultivated by slaves. They are fearful that an attempt to change the form of government would be attended by a loss of their property, and from the great number of blacks and mulattoes in this viceroyalty, the contest would probably terminate in the same manner as the contest of St. Domingo."

So far from taking any part in the republican movements of Chili, Peru even in 1813, sent an army into that vice

royalty and reestablished the royalist government. But in 1817, 18, the Peruvians were expelled by General St. Martin* with an army from Buenos Ayres, who succeeded in the summer of 1821, after defeating Canterac, La Serna and other Royalist officers, in taking Lima and finally Callao, the only place remaining in possession of the King's forces. The independence of the Province was declared July 15, 1821. We give in a note a copy of the manifest.t We read, perhaps, with deeper feeling a narrative of events in Peru from the circumstance, that this province was the scene of the bloody, cruel and treacherous, though remarkable exploits of Pizarro, of the death of Atahualpa on

* This distinguished man, now so conspicuous in the central American Provinces, was born in Paraguay, went early to Spain, was five years in the military school of Madrid, went into the army in 1808, and was at the battle of Baylen, as aid de camp to General Conpigny. He remained in Spain till 1811, where he rose to the rank of colonel, principally in consequence of his brilliant conduct at the battle of. Albuera; shortly after he went to London and thence to Buenos Ayres. His celebrated victories in South America are Chacabuco the 12th Feb. 1817, and Maypu early in 1818.

"Act of the independence of Peru.

"In the royal city of Peru, 15th July, 1821. "The Señors, who compose it, having yesterday assembled in the most excellent Senate with the most excellent and most illustrious Señor, the archbishop of this holy Metropolitan church, the prelates of the religious convents, titulars of Castile and various neighbours of this capital, for the purpose of fulfilling, what had been provided in the official letter of the most excellent Señor, the general in chief of the liberator army of Peru, D. José de San Martin, the contents of which were read, and persuaded of the soundness of the same, containing what persons of known probity, learning and patriotism, who inhabit this capital, would express, if the general opinion for independence had been resolved on, which vote will serve as a guide to the said General for proceeding to take the oath all the Señors agreeing for themselves and satisfied of the opinion of the inhabitants of the capital, said, that the general will was decided for the independence of Peru, of the Spanish dominion and of any foreign dominion whatever, and that they would proceed to sanction the same by means of a solemn oath."

« PrejšnjaNaprej »