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REFERRED TO IN THE PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE AT THE COMMENCE
MENT OF THE SECOND SESSION OF THE FIFTEENTH CONGRESS.
Mr. Rodney to the Secretary of State.
WASHINGTON, 5th Nov. 1818. SIR, . I have the honor to present the report herewith enclosed, agreeably to the desire of Mr. Graham, who, on reflection, preferred submitting some additional remarks, in a separate paper. For this purpose, two of the documents referred to in the report, remains in his possession-Dr. Fune's outline of events in the United Provinces, since the revolution, and the manifesto of independence by the Congress at Tucuman.
I have the honor to be,
With great respect,
. Your most obedient servant, (Signed)
C. A. RODNEY. Hon. John Q. Adams, Secretary of State.
Mr. Rodney to the Secretary of State.
I have now the honor to submit to your consideration, my report on the subject of the late mission to South America, embracing the information derived from the various sources within my power, so far as I had an opportunity of improving the advantages possessed.
With the history of the conquest of the Spanish possessions in America, you must be familiar. They were principally, if not ex. clusively, achieved by private adventures. When completed, a most oppressive system of government, or rather despotism, was established by the parent country.
These extensive regions, weré originally, swayed by two viceroys. The dominions of Spain in North America, were under the government of the viceroy of Mexico, and all her possessions in South America, were to the control of the viceroy of Peru.
The remoteness of some parts of the country from the residence of the viceroy at Lima, occasioned, in 1718, the establishment of another viceroyalty at Santa Fee de Bogota, in the kingdom of New Grenada. In 1731, New Grenada wás divided, and a number of the provincès composing that kingdom, wère separated from it. These were put under the jurisdiction of a captain-general and president, whose seat of government was at Caraccas.
In 1568, Chili was erected into a separate captain-generalship; in 1778, a new viceroyalty was established at Buenos Ayres, comprehending all the Spanish possessions to the east of the western Cordilleras and to the south of the river Maranon.,
This immense empire seems, according to the laws of the Indies, to have been considered a distinct kingdom of itself, though united to Spain, and annexed to the crown of Castile. In this light, it is viewed by baron Humboldt, in his essay on New Spain.
With some slight shades of difference in the regulations established in these governments, the prominent features of their political institutions, exhibit a striking resemblance, as the general system was the same.
Their commerce was confined to the parent country, and to Spanish vessels exclusively. They were prohibited, under the penality of death, to trade with foreigners. The natives of old Spain, composed, the body of their merchants. Though this part of the system, had, previously to the revolution, been relaxed, in some degree, particularly by the statute of free commerce, as it is styled, the relief was partial, and the restrictions continued severe and oppressive.
All access to the Spanish settlements was closed to foreigners, and even the inhabitants of the diferent provinces, were prohibited from intercourse with one another, unless under the strictest regulations.
The various manufactures, that might interfere with those of Spain, were not permitted. They were prevented, under severe penalties, from raising flax, hemp, or saffron. In climates most congenial to them, the culture of the grape and the olive was prohibited; on account of the distance of Peru and Chili, and the difficulty of transporting oil and wine to these remote regions, they were permitted to plant vines and olives, but were prohibited the culture of tobacco. At Buenos Ayres, by special indulgence of the viceroys, they were allowed to cultivate grapes and olives merely for the use of the table.
They were compelled to procure from the mother country, articles of the first necessity; and were thus rendered dependent on her for the conveniences of life, as well as luxuries. The crown possessed the monopoly of tobacco, salt, and gunpowder.
To these oppressive regulations and restrictions was added an odious system of taxation. From the Indians, was exacted a tribute in the shape of a poll tax, or a certain servitude in the mines, called the mita. A tenth part of the produce of cultivated lands, was taken under the denomination of tithes. The alcavala, a tax varying from two and an half, to five per cent. on every sale and re-sale of all things moveable and immoveable, was rigidly exacted, though in some cases a commutation was allowed. Royal and municipal duties were laid on imports and on the tonnage, entrance and clearance of vessels, under the different appellations of almoxarifasgo, sea, alcavalla, corso; consulado, armada, and armadilla. To these may be added the royal fifths of the precious metals, the most important tax in the mining districts. Besides all these, there were stamp taxes, tavern licenses, and sums paid for the sale of offices, of titles of nobility, papal bulls, the composition and confirmation of lands, with a number of others of inferior grade.
Under the Spanish monarchs, who had early obtained from the pope the ecclesiastical dominion, and thus had united in their royal persons, all civil and religious authority, a most oppressive hierarchy was established with its numerous train of offices and orders, succeeded by the inquisition.
The posts of honor and profit, from the highest to the lowest, were filled almost exclusively by natives of old Spain.
The principal code of laws thus maintain the supremacy of Spain over those distant regions, almost locked up from the rest of the world, emanated from the council of the Indies established by
the king, in which he was supposed to be always present. The royal rescripts, the recopilationes of the Indies, and the partidas furnished the general rules of decision; and when these were silent or doubtful, recourse was had to the opinions of professional men.
This system was generally executed by the viceroys, captainsgeneral, and by the tribunals of justice, with a spirit, corresponding with the rigorous policy that produced it. To this form of government, the country had for centuries submitted with implicit obedience; and probably would have continued to submit much longer, but for events in this country and the changes in Europe.
The sagacious minds of many able writers, penetrating into the future, had predicted, at some distant date, a revolution in South America, before that in North America had commenced. From the period of the successful termination of our own struggle for independence, that of the inhabitants of the south, has been with more confidence foretold; and there is reason to believe it has been hastened by this fortunate event. The conduct of Spain, during the war of our revolution, was calculated to make a lasting impression on her colonies. This result was then foreseen by intel. ligent politicians; many were surprised that she could be so blind to her own interests, after she had on one occasion, manifested the strongest suspicion of Paraguay; for to her scrupulous jealousy of this power, the expulsion of the Jesuits from that country in 1750, is to be attributed.
The wars that arose from the French revolution, have produced in Europe, changes of the greatest magnitude, which have had an immense influence on the affairs of South America. When Spain joined France against the combined princes, she exposed her distant possessions to British hostilities. The great naval power of England, gave her ready access to the American colonies. Engaged in an arduous contest, she was prompted by her feelings and interests, to retaliate on Spain, the conduct she experienced from her during the war of our independence. Encouraged, perhaps, by the councils of her enemies, the first symptoms of insurrection, in the continental possessions of Spain, were exhibited in the year 1797, in Venezuela. These were succeeded by the attempts of Miranda in the same quarter, which were accompanied, or were followed, since the vacillating state of the Spanish monarchy, by revolutionary movements in Mexico, Grenada, Peru, Chili, and Buenos Ayres; and from which, scarcely any part of the Spanish dominions in America has been entirely exempt.
The occurrences that led the way to the subsequent important events in the provinces of La Plata, were the invasion of the British under Popham and Berresford in the year 1806, and their expulsion a few months afterwards, by the collected forces of the country under Leniers and Pueyrredon. These incidents fortunately gave to the people a just idea of their own strength, and they afterwards repelled with a firmness and bravery, that did them great honor, the formidable attack of the British under general Whitlocke."
The wretched state to which Spain was reduced by the policy, the power, and the arts of Napoleon, the resignation of Charles IV. in favor of Ferdinand VII. and the renunciation by both in favor of Napoleon, were productive of the most important results. They threw the kingdom into the greatest confusion. The alternate success and disasters of the French armies, produced a new era in Spain. The people generally, revolted at the idea of being governed by the brother of Napoleon, to whom he had transferred the crown. Juntas were established, who acted in the name of Ferninand, then confined in France. These were substituted for the ancient cortes, and the regular council of the nation, to which in times of imminent danger, they ought to have recurred agreeably to their usages. Conflicting authorities, produced a distracted state of affairs. In the scenes that ensued, the proper attention was not paid to the American provinces. Their conduct towards them, was versatile and inconsistent; they were lost sight of or neglected, until it was too late. Conceiving they were abandoned by the parent state, they thought it justifiable to act for themselves. It was not very long before the inhabitants of Buenos Ayres, embracing the example of their brethren in Spain, established a junta, which assumed the reins of government; and, finally, in the year 1810, sent off the viceroy, Cisneros, and his principal adherents. For a summary of events subsequent to this period, until the time of my departure, I beg leave to refer to the outline subjoined, (Appendix A.) from the pen of Dr. Funes, drawn up, in part, at my request. Without vouching for the perfect accuracy of the work, I think, from the information received, it will probably be found to contain, in ge