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the humanity that had been shown by us to those prisoners who fell into our hands; in proof of this assertion we need only mention the deputy Matos of Potosi, captain-general Pumacagua, general Angulo, and his brother, the commandant Munecas, and other partizan chiefs, shot in cold blood, many days after having surrendered as prisoners.
In the district of Valle Grande they indulged themselves in the brutal sport of cutting off the ears of the natives, and then transmitting a pannier full of them to head quarters; they afterwards destroyed the town by fire; burnt about forty populous villages of Peru, and took a hellish pleasure in shutting up the inhabitants in their houses before setting them on fire, in order that their unhappy victims might be burnt alive.
They have not only shown themselves cruel and implacable, in murdering our countrymen, but they have thrown aside all regard to decency and morality, causing old men of the religious profession to be beaten in the public places; and even women, made fast to a cannon, but first stripped naked, and their bodies exposed to shame.
They have established an inquisitorial system for all these punishments: they have dragged out peaceful inhabitants from their houses, and transported them across the ocean to be tried for pretended offences, and have executed without trial a multitude of citizens.
They have chased our vessels, sacked our coasts, murdered de fenceless inhabitants, without sparing clergymen and those in extreme old age; by the order of general Pezuela, they burnt the town of Puno, and meeting with no others, they put to the sword old men, women, and children. They have excited atrocious conspiracies among the Spaniards residing in the midst of us, imposing upon us the painful necessity of condemning to capital punishment the heads of numerous families.
They have compelled our brothers and sons to take up arms against us, and forming armies by the impressment of the natives of Peru, have compelled them under the command of Spanish officers to fight against our troops. They have excited domestic insurrections, corrupting with money, and every species of seduction, the pacific inhabitants of the country, in order to involve us in a frightful anarchy, and to enable them to attack us weakenedl
and divided. They have displayed a new invention of horror, in poisoning fountains and food, when beaten in La Paz by general Pinelo; and the mildness with which they were treated, when compelled to surrender at discretion, was rewarded by the barbarous Act of blowing up the barracks, which had been previously mined for the purpose.
They have had the baseness to attempt to tamper with our governors, and generals; and abusing the sacred privilege of flags of truce, they have repeatedly written letters inciting to treason, They have declared that the laws of war, recognized by civilized nations, ought not to be observed towards us, and with contemptuous indifference replied to general Belgrano, that treaties could not be entered into, or kept, with insurgents.
Such had been the conduct of Spaniards towards us when Ferd nand of Bourbon was restored to the throne. We then believed that the termination of our troubles had at last arrived; it seemed to us, that the king, who had been formed in adversity, would not be indifferent to the miseries of his people; we therefore despatched a deputy to him, to make known our situation. We could not doubt but that he would give us a reception worthy a benign prince and that he would feel an interest in our supplications, as well from gratitude as from that beneficence, which the Spanish courtiers had praised to the skies. But a new, and before unknown ingratitude was reserved to be experienced by the countries of America, surpassing all example that the history of the worst of tyrants can present.
Scarcely had he returned to Madrid, when he without ceremony, at once declared us insurgents. He disdained to listen to our complaints, or hearken to our supplications, tendering a pardon as the only favor he could offer. He confirmed in authority the viceroys, governors, and generals, who had perpetrated the bloody deeds before detailed. He declared as a crime of state, the hav. ing pretended to form a constitution for ourselves, that we might be placed beyond the reach of the capricious, arbitrary, and tyrannic power, to which we had been subjected for three centuries; a measure which could displease none but a prince, who is inimical to justice and beneficence, and consequently unworthy of ruling.
With the aid of his ministers, he at once set to work in collecting forces for the purpose of being sent against us. He caused
numerous armies to be transported to this country, in order to complete the devastation, conflagrations, and robberies, so well begun. He availed himself of the moment when complimented by the principal European powers on his return from France, to engage them to deny us every succor, and to look on with indifference, while he was gratifying the cruelty of his nature in destroying us.
He has established a peculiar regulation for the treatment of American privateers, barbarously ordering their crews to be hanged; he has forbidden the observance towards us of the Spanish naval ordinance, established in conformity with the laws of nations, and he has denied every thing to us which we invariably allow to his subjects captured by our cruisers. He sent his generals with decrees of pardon which they caused to be published, with no view but to deceive the simple and ignorant, in order to facilitate their entrance into cities and towns; but giving at the same time private instructions, authorizing, and commanding them, after having thus obtained possession, to hang, burn, sack, confiscate, assassinate, and to inflict every possible suffering, on such as had availed themselves of such suppositious pardons. It is in the name of Ferdinand of Bourbon that the heads of captured patriot officers have been stuck up on the highways; that a distinguished partizan leader has been actually impaled; and that the monster Centano, after having murdered colonel Gamargo in the same manner cut off his head, and sent it as a present to general Pezuela, informing him that it was a miracle of the Virgin del Carmen.
It has been by a torrent of evils and bitter afflictions, such as these, that we have been compelled to take the only course that remained to us. We reflected deeply on our situation, and future fate, and turning our eyes to every quarter, we were unable to see any thing but the three elements, of which it must necessarily be composed, opprobrium, ruin, and abject submission. What could America expect from a king, actuated at the very moment of seating himself on the throne by sentiments so inhuman? Of a king, who previous to commencing his devastations, hastened to prevent the interposition of any other prince to restrain the effects of his insensate fury? Of a king, who has no other rewards but chains and gibbets, for the immense sacrifices of his Spanish subjects in releasing him from captivity?--subjects, who, at the expense of
their blood, and of every privation, have redeemed him from a prison, in order to bind his temples with a crown! If those men, to whom he owed so much, thus received death, were doomed to perpetual imprisonment, or to base slavery, for no other crime than that of having framed a constitution, what might we not expect to be reserved for us? The hope for a benign treatment from him, and from his bloody ministers, would have been to seek among tigers for the mildness of the dove.
Then, indeed, would have been repeated towards us the ensanguined scenes of Caraccas, Carthagena, Quito, and Santa Fee; we should then have spurned the ashes of the eighty thousand persons who have fallen victims to the fury of the enemy, and whose illustrious manes with justice call for revenge, and we should have merited the execrations of every succeeding generation, condemned to serve a master always disposed to illtreat them, and who by his nullity on the sea has become too impotent to protect them from foreign invasion.
We therefore, thus impelled by the Spaniards, and their king, having declared ourselves independent, and in self defence against tyranny, have staked our honors, our lives, and our fortunesWe have sworn before the Supreme Judge of the Universe that we will never renounce the cause of justice; that we will not permit the country which he gave us, to be buried beneath ruins, and submerged in blood by the hands of executioners; that we shall never forget the obligations that we owe to save her from the dangers which threaten her, nor the sacred right to require of us all necessary sacrifices to prevent her from being soiled by the foul footsteps of tyrants and usurpers. This declaration is engraved on our hearts, that we may never cease to combat in her cause. And at the same time that we unfold to the world the motives that have impelled to this step, we have the honor to make known our desire of living in peace with all, and even with Spain herself from the moment she thinks proper to accept our offer.
Given at the congressional hall in Buenos Ayres, 25th of
PROCEEDINGS OF THE SUPREME GOVERNMENT,
United Provinces of South America, during the present Admini
stration. The evils which had in succession since the year 1810, occasioned our calamities and retarded the progress of our sacred cause, appear to have all conspired to assail us at the same moment, threatening to reduce our political existence to its last agonies, towards the close of 1815. The few remaining forces which we had saved from the unhappy field of Sipesipe, seemed to be on the point of dissolution. The army which had been organized in the province of Cuyo, for the purpose of marching upon Chili, beheld itself insecure, even in its entrenchments. The enemy, proud of his victories, had already laid his plans to entrammel the inhabitants of those districts, who were distracted by opposite councils, and who dared not indulge a hope that, through our means, they might be shielded from the impending dangers. The national treasury was not only inadequate to the satisfaction of the demands upon it, but even to provide for the most urgent wants, The public spirit of the different provinces, had lost sight of the common danger, and occupied itself exclusively, in the visionary project of seeking liberty, in the dissolution of every tie. Discord had taken possession of all hearts, expelling every generous and honorable sentiment. The citizens of the same land displayed their valor only in mutual destruction or distrust; assailing their best friends and benefactors. Subordination amongst the military was disregarded by the lowest subalterns. The public authorities were only respected as they gave countenance to crime, to error, to licentiousness. It grieves me fellow-citizens, to speak of it, but I must be faithful to truth, when I undertake to trace the revolting picture, which our country then exhibited to the contemplation of the world. The acknowledgement of our errors can bring upon us no disgrace, when made with the virtaVOL. II,