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it, also refuse to acknowledge the authority of the government of Buenos Ayres.
In Paraguay, the events of the revolution have differed from those in any other province, as the inhabitants of that country have uniformly resisted the efforts of the other provinoes to unite with them. After having aided the Spanish placed over them, to repel a military force which had been sent to overthrow them, they themselves expelled from their country these authorities, and established a government of their own, totally unconnected with that of the other provinces, with whom they manifest an unwillingness to keep up even a commercial intercourse. This has given rise to a suspicion in the minds of some, that there is a secret predilection among them for the ancient order of things. But from what is said of their cold and calculating character, from the safe position of their country, and its capacity to supply · its own wants, it is probable that their object is to husband their resources, and profit by the exertions of others, without giving their own in aid of them; and possibly in case of ultimate failure, to place their conduct in a less objectionable point of view before the government of Spain. Whatever may have been their motives, they have hitherto contrived to escape, in a great measure, the evils of war.
Their resources in men and money are said to be considerable, and no country is more independent of foreign supplies.
Their conduct furnishes a striking contrast to that of the people of Buenos Ayres, who entered into the revolution with unbounded zeal and energy, and have ever been ready to meet the difficulties of so great an undertaking. This circumstance, connected with their local situation, greater resources, and more general information; and perhaps the fact of their having been the first to get power into their hands, have had the effect to give them a controling influence over the revolutionary government, which has not failed to excite, in some degree, the jealousy of the other provinces, and amongst themselves a feeling of superiority little calculated to allay that jealousy. Great evils were, at one time, apprehended from this state of things, but the congress which met at Tucuman, in March, 1816, composed of deputies from the several provinces then united, assumed the sovereign power of the country, boldly declared its absolute independence, and
adopted a provisional form of government, which is understood to have the effect of allaying dissentions, and of introducing a more regular administration of public affairs.
It will be seen from the documents in your possession, that this provisional constitution recognises many of the principles of free government; but with such drawbacks as are little calculated to enforce thera in practice. Great allowances are doubtless to be made for the circumstances of the times, and the danger and difficulty of tearing up ancient institutions, or of adapting new principles to them; but after due allowance for all these considerations, it did not appear to me that so much had been done for the cause of civil liberty, as might have been expected, or that those in power were its strongest advocates.
It is generally admitted, however, that some changes for the better have been made. Much care seems to be taken to educate the rising generation, and as those who are now coming on the theatre of action have grown up since the commencement of the revolution, and have had the advantage of the light thrown in by it, it is fair to suppose, that they will be better prepared to support and administer a free government than those whose habits were formed under the colonial government of Spain.
The commerce and manufactures of the country have grown beyond its agriculture. Various causes, however, have contributed to lessen some branches of manufacture since the revolution, but commerce is understood to have increased by it. A much greater variety and quantity of foreign goods are imported, and a greater demand is opened for the productions of the country. The city of Buenos Ayres is the seat of this commerce. From it, foreign, and some domestic goods, are spread through the interior as far as Chili and Upper Peru, and in return, the various productions are drawn to it. This trade is carried on principally by land, as is that between the different provinces, though some small portion of it finds its way up and down the large rivers forming the La Plata; which is, itself, not so much a river as a great bay. The abundance of cattle, horses, and mules, and some other animals peculiar to the country, which are used in the mountainous regions of Peru, furnish facilities for transportation, not to be found in any other country so little improved; hence, the price of transportation is very low, and the internal trade greater than it otherwise would be, though it had been materially lessened in
some important branches by the war with Peru, and the system adopted in Paraguay.
The export and import trade is principally in the hands of the British, though the United States and other nations participate in it to a certain degree. It is depended on as the great source of revenue to the state hence they have been tempted to make the duties very high, and to lay them upon both imports and exports, with the exception of lumber and military stores. This circumstance, connected with the fact, that payment is demanded at the custom house before the goods are delivered, has led to a regular system of smuggling, which is said to be carried to great excess, and doubtless occasions the official returns to fall short of the actual amount of the trade. This may be the reason why they were not given to us. The articles imported are almost every variety of European and East India goods, principally from England. Rum, sugar, coffee, tobacco, cotton, and timber from Brazil. Lumber of almost every description, cod fish, furniture, gin, and some smaller articles, from the United States, together with military stores, which, however, find their way into the country directly from Europe, and are thus furnished at a cheaper rate than we can sell them. The principal articles of export are taken from the various animals of the country, tame and wild, from the ox to the chinchilla, copper from Chili, and some of the precious metals, drawn principally from Peru; but as gold is worth $17 pr. oz. and passed by tale at that rate, very little of it is exported. Hence the currency of the country is gold, for they have no paper money. The “Libranzas,” or bills of credit, issued by the government, are, however, an article of traffic among the merchants, as they are received in payment of one half of the duties. No distinction is made in favor of the trade of any nation, save only that the British merchants have some peculiar facilities granted them in relation to their letters, which are an object of taxation, at least so far as applies to those sent out of the country.
In the official statements given to us, and to which I beg leave generally to refer for information as to the foreign relations, the productions, military and naval force, revenue and population, the latter is stated at 1,300,000, exclusive of Indians. This is understood as comprehending the population of all the provinces; but as some of them are not under the government at Buenos Ayres, I have thought it proper to annex the several estimates I collected of the population of each province, as they may serve to give some general information on that point. The most immediate difficulty felt by the government whilst we were in the country, seemed to arise from the want of money; for although the debt was small, their credit was low. It had not been found practicable to adopt a system of finance adequate to the exigencies of the times, though it would seem, from the statement given to us, that the revenue of the last year exceeded the expenses. The important events of the present year in Chili, of which you are informed, will doubtless, have the effect to raise the credit of the country, and to lessen the pressure upon it at least for a time; and will probably leave the government more at leisure to attend to its internal affairs.
When we came away, it was understood that a committee of the congress was engaged in drafting a new constitution; the power of forming and adopting it, being exclusively vested in the congress. Whether it will assume a federal or national character is somewhat doubtful, as there are evidently two parties in the country. whose views in this respect are very different, and it is believed that they are both represented in the congress. The one party is in favor of a consolidated, or national government-the other wishes for a federal government, somewhat upon the principle of that of the United States. The probability seems to be, that although there might be a majority of the people in the provinces, generally in favor of the federal system, that it would not be adopted, upon the ground that it was not so well calculated as a national government, to provide for the common defence, the great object now in view. The same general reason may be urged perhaps, for giving to the latter, should it be adopted, less of a republican character than probably would have been given to it, in more quiet and peaceful times. There is danger too, as the power of forming and adopting the constitution is placed in the hands of a few, that the rights and privileges of the people may not be so well understood, or attended to, as they should have been, had the people themselves had a more immediate agency in the affair. It is not to be doubted, however, that it will at least have a republican form, and be bottomed upon the principles of independence, which is contended for by all descriptions of politicians in the country, who have taken part in the revolution, and will, it is believed, be supported by them in any event, to the last extremity.
The means of defence of which they are fully aware, are in pro
portion to their numbers, greater perhaps, than those of almost any other people, and the duration, and the events of war, have strengthened the general determination never to submit to Spain. This determination rests upon the recollection of former sufferings and deprivations; upon a consciousness of their ability to defend and to govern themselves: and upon a conviction, that in case of submission, on any terms, they would sooner or later, be made to feel the vengeance of the mother country. These considerations doubtless have the most weight upon the minds of those, who have taken a leading part. They of course use all their influence to enforce them, and thus to keep up the spirit of the revolution. In this they probably have had the less difficulty, as although the sufferings of the people have been great, particularly in military service, and in raising the contributions necessary for that service; yet the incubus of Spanish power being thrown off, and with it that train of followers who filled up almost every avenue to wealth and consequence, the higher classes have been awakened to a sense of advantage they did not before enjoy. They have seen their commerce freed from legal restraints. Their articles of export become more valuable, their supplies furnished at a lower rate, and all the offices of government, or other employments, laid open to them, as fair objects of competition. The lower classes have found their labor more in demand and better paid for; and their importance in society greater than it formerly was.
They are yet, however, from their indolence, general want of education, and the great mixture of "casts” among them, in a degraded state, but little felt in the affairs of the government. The stimulus now given will operate to produce a change in them for the better, and it is to be presumed will gradually have its effect, as their docility, intelligence, and activity, when called into service, give evidence that they are not deficient in natural, or physical powers.
Labor, as it becomes more general, will become less irksome to individuals, and the gradual acquisition of property, which must necessarily result from it in such a country, under a good govern-, ment, will doubtless produce the happy effects there which it has uniformly produced elsewhere; and more especially in countries where the population is small when compared to the extent of territory.