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neral, a correct and impartial sketch of the prominent transactions and occurrences.
In perusing this interesting document, I have to lament, that its pages are marked with some cases of severity and cruelty, which seem almost inseparable from great revolutions. It must, however, be consoling to observe, that they appear to have passed through that state which might possibly have rendered examples necessary; and to have arrived, perhaps, at that stage when the passions becoming less turbulent, and the people inore enlightened, a milder system may be expected to prevail.
Their dissentions have produced most of their calamities. In such seasons they were naturally to be expected. But their disputes have been principally healed by the prudent and energetic measures of the congress, which commenced its sittings in Tucuman in the year 1815, and adjourned in the year following froin thence to Buenos Ayres, where it remained in session, occupied with the task of forming a permanent constitution. This respectable body, besides acting as a convention or a constituent assembly, exercises, temporarily, legislative powers. Their sittings are public, with a gallery of audience for citizens and strangers. The debates are frequently interesting, and are conducted with ability and decorum. They are published every month, for the information of the people.
The dispute with Artigas, the chief of the Orientals, has not been adjusted. This, with a certain jealousy of the superior influence of the city of Buenos Ayres, on the general affairs of the provinces, the conduct of the government of Buenos Ayres towards the Portuguese, and the high tariff of duties, which I understand have been since reduced, appeared to constitute the principal causes of dissatisfaction at the time of my departure.
The declaration, by congress, of that independence, which they had for many years previously maintained in fact, was a measure of the highest importance, and has been productive of a unanimity and a decision before unknown. This summit of their wishes, was only to be reached by slow and gradual progress. The public mind had to be illumined on the subject by their pulpits, their presses, and their public orations. The people were to be prepared for the event. When the season arrived, they cut the knot which could not be untied. The declaration of independence was adopt
ed in the directorship of Mr. Pueyrredon, on the 9th day of July, 1816. It was succeeded by an able exposition of the causes that extorted it, to justify to their fellow-citizens and to the world, the measure they had deliberately voted to support with their fortunes and their lives.
Believing the latter paper might be thought worthy of perusal, a translation has been annexed. (Appendix B.)
The salutary influence of this bold and decisive step, was at once felt throughout the country. It gave new life and strength to the patriotic cause, and stability to the government. The victories of Chacabuco and Maipu, achieved by the arms of Chili and Buenos Ayres, have produced and confirmed a similar declaration of independence by the people of Chili, which is also annexed, (Appendix C.) and cemented the cordial union existing between the confederate states. The consequence has been, that within these extensive territories, there is scarcely the 'vestige of a royal army to be found, except on the borders of Peru.
Having thus, in connexion with the succinct account given by Dr. Funes, traced the principal events since the revolution in Buenos Ayres, I shall proceed to state the result of the information received, according to the best opinion I could form, of the extent, population, government and resources of the United Provinces, with their productions, imports and exports, trade, and commerce.
The late viceroyalty of Buenos Ayres, of which that city was the metropolis, was by many considered the largest, as well as the most valuable of all the Spanish dominions in South America, extending in a direct line, from its north to its south boundary, a distance of more than two thousand miles; and from its eastern to its western, not less than eleven hundred.
It was composed, at the commencement of the revolution, of the nine provincies or intendencies following: Buenos Ayres, Paraguay, Cordova, Salta, Potosi, La Plata, Cochabamba, La Paz and Puno.
Watered by the great river La Plata and its numerous tributary streams, which afford an easy communication with countries of an immense extent, and furnishing an easy access to the treasures of South America, it has always been regarded by Spain, as one of her most precious acquisitions. Enjoying every variety of climate to be found between different and distant latitudes, and blessVOL. I.
ed with a large portion of fertile soil, it is capable of producing all that is to be found in the temperate or torrid zones. Immense herds of cattle and horses graze on its extensive plains, and constitute, at this time, their principal source of wealth. The mines of Potosi are also included within its boundaries. There are no woods for a very considerable distance from Buenos Ayres. No forest trees are to be seen on the widely extended pampas, except at intervals, a solitary umboo. After passing the Saladillo, in a northerly. direction, the woods begin, and proceeding in the upper provinces, the hills appear, and mountains rise in succession, interspersed with rich vallies. On the east side of the rivers La Plata and Parana, the country is said to be very fine. The Entre Rios, is represented as capable of being made a garden spot; and the Banda Oriental presents hills and dales, rich bottoms, fine streams of water, and at a distance from the great river, on the banks of the smaller streams, some excellent woodland. Between Maldonada and Monte Video, the east ridge of the Cordilleras terminates on the river La Plata.
Since the revolution, five more provinees have been erected, making, in all, fourteen within the limits of the ancient viceroyalty, viz: Tucuman, taken from Salta; Mendoza, or Cuyo, taken from Cordova; Corrientes, Entre Rios, comprising the country between the Uraguay and the Parana, and the Banda Oriental, or eastern shore of the river La Plata. The two last were taken from the province of Buenos Ayres, which was thus reduced to the territory on the south side of that river. The subordinate divisions of the country, with the principal towns, will be found in the appendix to this report, with an account of the produce or manufactures of the different districts. (Appendix D.).
Of the fourteen provinces into which the ancient viceroyalty is now divided, five were, at my departure, principally occupied by the royal forces, (which, in consequence of the victory of Maipu, were expected soon to retreat to lower Peru,) or partially under their influence, viz: Potosi, La Plata, Cochabamba, La Paz, and Puno; and the nine following independent, defacto of Spain, were in the possession of the patriots, viz: Buenos Ayres, Paraguay, Mendoza, Salta, Corrientes, Entre Rios, and Banda Oriental. But Paraguay, and the city of Santa Fee, act independently of Buenos Ayres. Though Paraguay is not on unfriendly terms with them, and it is hoped, by some, will before long join the
union. Entre Rios and the Banda Oriental, under general Artigas, in the character of chief of the Orientals, are in a state of hostility with Buenos Ayres.
Monte Video, the capital of the eastern shore, was occupied by a Portuguese army, and a squadron of ships of war from Brazil, blockaded the ports of Colonia and Maldovado, and prohibited the entrance of neutral vessels, unless they paid them the same duties on their cargoes, that were charged on the importation of the goods when landed in the country
The territory of the United Provinces, is computed to contain one hundred and fifty thousand square leagues, though it probably exceeds that quantity. The lands occupied in the country, remote from the cities, are generally converted by their owners, into estancias, or large grazing farms for cattle, and chacras for growing grain. The small farms, or quintas, in the neighborhood of cities, are in fine order. Those around Buenos Ayres, which furnish their market with an ample supply of fruit and vegetables, are, by irrigation, in the highest state of culture.
The population, exclusive of the Indians, is now calculated at about one million three hundred thousand: but adding the civilized Indians only, who are of great importance, it would, in all, probably exceed two millions.
The whole population consists of nations of old Spain, and their descendants born in the country, or as they style themselves, South Americans; of Indians civilized, or unreclaimed, with different "casts,” or mixed blood; of Africans and their descendants, or negroes and mulattoes.
I could not ascertain, with satisfaction, the population of the different provinces: the province of Buenos Ayres, contains about one hundred and twenty thousand, whilst the population of Entre Rios and Banda Oriental, is computed at fifty thousand.
The city of Buenos Ayres, contains a population of sixty thousand. The inhabitants of this place appear to be amiable, and an interesting people. They are considered brave and humane, possessing intelligence, capable of great exertions and perseverance, and manifesting a cheerful devotion to the cause of freedom and independence. .
There is also a certain mediocrity and equality of fortune prevailing among them, extremely favorable to a union of the popular sentiment, in support of the common weal. Many industrious
mechanics, and enterprising merchants, are, however, increasing their estates, and adding to the stock of capital in the country.
The people of the province of Buenos Ayres, residing out of the city, are, generally speaking, poor, and rather indolent. Though a hardy race, and when excited to action, they become zealous defenders of the liberties of their country. They are capable of great improvement, and under the influence of a good example, when a change takes place in their manner and habit of living, they bid fair to become useful and industrious citizens.
The inhabitants of Cordová, are said to be more superstitious, and more industrious, but less patriotic. This is principally attributed to the loss of the trade with Peru, occasioned by the revolutionary war.
Tucuman, I was informed, possessed an excellent population.
The people of Mendoza, or Cuyo, are moral, industrious and patriotic. They have sacrificed largely at the shrine of independence, supporting with zeal and confidence, the cause of their country; whilst the citizens of Santa Fee are represented as immoral and insubordinate, and manifesting, on most occasions, an extreme jealousy of their neighbors.
The population of Entre Rios and Banda Oriental, is perhaps not inferior in valor to that of Buenos Ayres. Nor is it deficient in military skill, particularly in carrying on a partisan warfare, for which its troops are admirably adapted. Their other good qualities have been, probably, somewhat impaired by the systein pursued in that quarter, where they have been compelled to give up every thing like civil avocations, and to continue without any regular kind of government, under the absolute control of a chief, who, whatever may be his political principles, or professions, in practice concentrates all power, legislative, judicial and executive, in himself.
The general congress of the United Provinces, assembled at Buenos Ayres, on the third of December, 1817, established by a provisional statute, a temporary form of government, which will be found in Appendix marked (E.)
This congress is comprised of deputies from the different provinces. It actually consists of twenty-six members. But as a representative is allowed for every fifteen thousand citizens, it would be more numerous, if all the provinces had sent delegates
Svery much is calzens, in that ratio of population.