Slike strani
PDF
ePub

opinion expressed by the President in his message of the 8th of March 1822, that the American provinces of Spain which have declared their independence and are in the enjoyment of it, ought to be recognised by the United States as independent nations.

"Resolved, That the committee of ways and means be instructed to report a bill, appropriating a sum, not exceeding one hundred thousand dollars, to enable the President to give due effect to such recognition."

On the 4th of May 1822, an act of Congress made an appropriation of 100,000 dollars" for such missions to the independent nations on the American continent as the President of the United States might deem proper." In pursuance of this authority, ministers plenipotentiary were successively appointed to Colombia (R. C. Anderson, Jun., of Kentucky, 1824), to Buenos Ayres (C. A. Rodney, of New Jersey, 1824), to Chili (H. Allen, of Vermont, 1824), to Mexico (Joel Poinsett, of South Carolina, 1826). In 1825 J. M. Forbes succeeded Mr. Rodney at Buenos Ayres as a chargé. We shall take this opportunity, also, to state that in 1824, Jose Manuel Zazoza was accredited a minister from Mexico, Jose Maria Salazar a minister plenipotentiary from Colombia, and in 1825, Antonio Jose Canas envoy and minister from Guatimala.

We are not so much struck with the length of time this revolution lasted, as with the little stability and firmness, with which it proceeded. Whether foreign nations find it for their interest to recognise a new state a lustre sooner or later, does not much signify. Old nations admit new members into the great family with jealousy. The recognition by this country was the first, but it was delayed, till not a shadow of hope for the restoration of Spanish dominion remained. The last strand had fairly parted, and it had fully ceased to be matter of doubt, whether injury was done to Spain. It is, also, evident that the success of the revolution was little retarded, or obstructed by the power of the mother country. If it did not sweep on with an easy, strong and rapid course, it is to be principally, perhaps solely, attributed to domestic and internal difficulties and obstacles,

The greatest and most obvious is the complete unfitness of the people, in the outset, for a free government.

Before the revolution, every office of the slightest value or influence, whether military, civil or ecclesiastic, was in the hands of Spaniards, naturally devoted to the mother country, and assuming and exercising great superiority over, even, the Creoles. It has been calculated, that there were, at least, three hundred thousand natives of Old Spain, distributed in offices throughout the colonies;—of themselves a great army;-an appalling source of influence and control! a formidable bulwark and barrier for the metropole ! The ecclesiastics, alone, would seem to have been sufficient to have prevented alterations in the form of government, but though their influence over the laity is undoubted, we think it quite apparent, from the proceedings in France, Italy and Spain the last thirty-five years, that there has been, in the body itself, a decided radical spirit, produced originally by the difference of wealth, and modes of life of the various orders and degrees of the clergy of that church, and then heightened by the constant, internal difficulties and dissensions, that have notoriously taken place. With the exception of the Jesuits, it is far, indeed, from being true, that the different gradations of the Catholic clergy, whether religious or secular (we use the first word in its technical sense, for the want of an appropriate one in English) have submitted to their ecclesiastical government with entire cheerfulness and satisfaction.

We have said that the Spaniards held all the offices in South America. But it is still more remarkable, they were the only merchants established in the colonies, so that, in fact, all the active capital of the country, at the commencement of the revolution, was in the hands of natives of the parent state, another cause, that may be mentioned to account for the slow and insecure progress of the revolution. We are well aware, that a strong, popular excitement razes to the ground and sweeps off, at a single plunge, such frail obstacles, upon which we are apt to rely with so much confidence and emphasis in all our reasonings and speculations.

But a circumstance, certainly fated to a universal, overpowering sympathy, unfortunately was deep seated and entered radically into the composition of all society in the colonies. We speak now of the different races of men, inhabiting South America. Humboldt gives a general enumeration of them in Mexico, which, he observes, applies with accuracy to all the provinces.

1st Race-Individuals born in Europe called Gachupines. 2. Creoles-European descended, white born in the colo

nies.

3. Mestizos, descended from the whites and Indians.
4. Mulattoes, descended from whites and negroes.
5. Zambos, descended from whites and Indians.
6. Indians--the Copper Race.

7. African negroes.

It is true, there were, originally, but few slaves in Mexico, and inconveniences, from mixt bloods on that side, will not be felt to a great extent in that portion of the country, but in Peru and Caraccas, African negroes and every degree of mixt blood, that can issue from them, abounded. We, also, readily admit that prejudices, on this score, extremely diminish from habit. An inhabitant of the United States, where there are but two races of men, (and one in a condition of slavery, so that a perfect and most marked contrast is constantly exhibited) does not easily realize with what facility the different casts slide together. But we never can believe, that this union for civil and political purposes can be permanent or, in the least, to be depended upon. "In South America," says Humboldt, "a skin, more or less white, determines the rank a man shall occupy in society. A white man, that rides on horseback without shoes or stockings, considers, nevertheless, that he belongs to the noblesse of the country, and we often hear an individual of the lowest order of the people, when disputing with a titled Seignor, say to him, is it possible that you consider yourself whiter than I am?" Hitherto, they have lived peaceably and quietly together, because one race of men compelled all other races to submit. But upon what do the permanent sympathies of

[blocks in formation]

mankind depend? Surely on character and general similarity of appearance and tastes. And yet all writers admit, that in the Spanish provinces there exist four grand divisions of men, (without including subdivisions) distinct in character, appearance and modes of life ;-men, whose skulls, according to craniology, present totally different developements, with a different facial angle,-proceeding originally, at least, from three continents,-Europe, Africa and America. The classes are the European-African-Creole-and Aborigines or Copper men. These grand divisions, with the numerous puzzling subdivisions under them, now enter all over Spanish America into the composition of society, now present themselves for the offices of government with equal claims under the law, but with every variety of pretension under nature. We may overrate the weight of this consideration, but it appears to us, that, thus far, it has infinitely and fatally interfered with the auspicious course of the revolution, and will long remain an obstacle, extremely formidable.

A difficulty of a mischievous and troublesome, though probably not of a permanent description, has arisen, not so much from the establishment, as from the jealousies and contentions for authority, among noble and powerful families. Nobility originally existed in every part of South America, and at the breaking out of the war, many families possessed immense estates and influence. The first glimmerings of the revolution may, perhaps, in some cases be traced to the very power of these houses, but their object being of a limited or personal kind, their endeavours have been accompanied with any but good results. The quarrels between the Carreras and Larrains in Chili have greatly retarded the progress of the people towards national freedom, and infused a disrelish to the cause. There is not only a wide difference between independence and liberty, but an aspiring colonist may be quite honest and zealous in his endeavours to break the chains of the mother country, and yet be fully reconciled to the delight and distinction of riveting them himself.

On the first day of January 1823, the situation of the new Republics was, in general terms, as follows;-On the continent

of North America, Mexico and Guatimala, not differing in boundaries from the ancient Viceroyalty and Captain Generalship of the same name. The latter is now called the Federation of the Centre of America. Mexico, by an agreement with Donohu, was declared independent by Spain in 1821. In South America, Colombia forms the head of the continent. The union of Venezuela and Granada took place in December 1819. This district is properly the seat and cradle of the revolution, and from its situation and other circumstances is, perhaps, the most remarkable country in the world. The following is a brief, but we believe, by no means poetical description of it from the pen of one of its ministers in this. country.

"With respect to the ability and capacity of Colombia to maintain its independence, no well founded doubt can arise upon that point, if we consider on one hand the great population of the republic, which exceeds 3,600,000 souls, the extent of its territory, its natural and artificial resources, and its situation; and, on the other, the great military talent displayed by its generals and officers, and the discipline and valour manifested by its troops on all occasions, but particularly in the celebrated battles of Boyaca and Carabobo, in the capture of St. Martha, defended by seventeen exterior batteries, all taken by assault, and the reduction of the fortresses of Carthagena and Cumana.

"Some idea may be also formed of the degree of splendour, power and future prosperity, of the new republic, by considering it placed in the centre of the universe, with an extent of coast of twelve hundred miles on the Atlantic, from the Orinoco to the isthmus of Darien, and of seven hundred miles on the Pacific ocean, from Panama to Bahia de Tumbez; and exempt, at all seasons, from any of those dreadful hurricanes, which cause such disasters in the Antilles, in the Gulf of Mexico, and in other places.

"The great canals which are formed by the river Orinoco and its tributary streams, the Sulia, with the lake of Maracaybo, the Magdalena, the Cauca and the Atrato, which all empty into the Atlantic, render Colombia the most favoured part of the universe for interior navigation; and, by a union of all climates, unites, also, in great abundance, the productions of the three kingdoms of

nature.

« PrejšnjaNaprej »