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(2 )--General Lecor to Don Martin de Pueyrredon.
(3.)-Don Martin de Pueyrredon to General Lecor.
[See Vol. 1818, 19. Page 697.]
(4.) General Lecor to Don Martin de Pueyrredon.-(Translation.) MOST EXCELLENT SIR, Monte Video,-February, 1817.
AT the moment I was dispatching to your Government a Communication dated the 30th of January, I received your Excellency's Letter of the 1st instant: and, although the vehemence with which your Excellency expresses yourself, might be considered as a Declaration of War, which would put an end to all relations between the 2 Countries, I have thought it right, nevertheless, to intreat your Excellency, before you induce your Countrymen to renounce the advantages they derive from Peace with the Kingdom of Brazil, and expose them to the incalculable evils which, under their present circumstances, a rupture with a neighbouring Power must produce, to permit me to observe to you, in reply to your last Dispatch, that my Letter of the 27th November, and the Proclamation which accompanied it, assuring your Excellency that my march would be continued, could not have given you any reason to suppose that it would be suspended.
As my operations were proceeding in a Territory, which is acknowledged by this Government to be independent, and without any federative connections with your Provinces; at open War with your Capital and its Dependencies; and under the influence of a dreadful Anarchy, which had already compromised the security of the Portuguese Frontier; it cannot be said, with truth, that the Army under my command attacks the Neutrality stipulated by the Armistice of the 26th May, 1812, that it violates the integrity of the United Provinces, or is in any respect in contradiction to the principles of the Law of Nations, when all its operations tend to arrest the progress of that Anarchy which might have been fatal to our own Territory, if His Most Faithful Majesty, authorized by the circumstances, had not determined to prevent, by His Arms, those dangers from which your Excellency cannot secure him.
The absolute Independence of the Eastern Bank, recently confirmed by the ineffectual efforts made by your Excellency and the Deputies of the Government of this City to effect its incorporation with the other Provinces, excludes your Excellency from all intervention in this matter, and leaves very little foundation for your assertion, that the Territory forms a constituent part of your State, when, even in its greatest dangers, it has refused to belong to your Confederation, or to submit itself to the authority of your Government.
The Provinces under the direction of your Excellency can have no reason to suspect the good faith of my proceedings; for, even supposing that there existed between us neither Treaty, nor intimate relations, nor reciprocal interests, my promises of Neutrality and good will, (even after the supplies of arms and ammunition sent to the Enemy at Colonia by your Excellency's crder,) ought to be sufficient to calm their unfounded alarms, and lead them rather to reflect upon the misfortunes which would be consequent upon a new War.
It is not in my power to suspend my Operations, which are directed to the pacification of this Province, without express orders from my Sovereign; nor can I receive Proposals for an Armistice from your Government, which I consider to be neutral in all its relations, even if Your Excellency were authorized to interfere in the affairs of a Country, independent of your authority.
If, however, notwithstanding these considerations, and my sincerest promises of Neutrality, good understanding, and the continuance of all commercial relations between your Ports and those of this City, and the other Points of the Coast which my Forces will occupy, in the same manner as they already exist with the Ports of Brazil, (which promises I renew in the name of my Sovereign) Your Excellency thinks it can accord with the political interests of your Provinces to augment the sacrifices of their Inhabitants, to lavish their blood, to expose your Capital to fresh convulsions, (the inevitable consequences of these new dangers,) to close the only channel by which your Commerce can recover its recent shocks, and to commence a new War, which those who declare it cannot terminate at their pleasure, and, in short, to have a neighbouring King as their Enemy;-and all this without any other advantage than that of supporting the Eastern Chiefs, and securing to them the power of oppressing the numerous Inhabitants of this Province, as well as of carrying Anarchy to your own, and of keeping your People in a continual state of ferment;-in such a case, (which from the prudence of your Government is hardly to be apprehended,) I must take suitable measures of precaution, until I receive the Commands of my Sovereign thereupon.
In the mean time, the impartial World will decide which of us is responsible for the calamities of a rupture between the 2 Countries;your Excellency who provokes me to War, or I who offer the continuance of an advantageous and permanent Peace.
Under every circumstance, Your Excellency will be pleased to accept the assurances of my consideration for your Government, and my particular esteem for the person of your Excellency.
God preserve Your Excellency many years.
Monte Video, February 1817.
CARLOS FEDERICO LECOR.
H. E. Don Juan Martin de Pueyrredon.
(5.)--Don Martin de Pueyrredon to General Lecor. (Translation.) Buenos Ayres, 2d March, 1817. MOST EXCELLENT AND ILLUSTRIOUS GENERAL,
I HAVE just received a Decree published by Your Excellency, dated the 15th of last February, at your Head Quarters in Monte Video. Its extraordinary contents have destroyed all my hopes of preserving any kind of harmony with Your Excellency and the Army under your Command. Your Excellency pretends to a right to the Territory you have invaded, owing to the protection which you state you afford to it, and on this plea you reckon upon the obedience of the Places which you have occupied. The brave Orientals have determined to prove that your Excellency's Forces are not able to afford that protection; and for this purpose they have commenced hostilities, in the very Places which Your Excellency confesses that you have left undefended, at the same time that you claim to subject them to your yoke.
To make amends for this want of power on your part, your Excellency has had recourse to the extraordinary measure which you improperly denominate reprisals, and to the still more extraordinary one of declaring the Defenders of their liberties to be Highway Robbers.
With regard to the first, your Excellency's magnificent promises of protection, but ill accord with the acts of violence which Your Excellency will commit upon the innocent Families of those whom you attack. Such violence will be without an object, and can only contribute to render the War more bloody and more dreadful to humanity. The Families which Your Excellency will transport on board your Squadron will augment your expences and dangers, as well as the difficulty of obtaining subsistence, and will leave the faithful Orientals still more at liberty, because they will not be deterred even by the sacrifice of their Families, from exposing their lives in the defence of their Country. The Estates burnt and destroyed by Your Excellency will seriously injure the Country to which Your Excellency offers protection; but the Inhabitants will not suffer more severely than your own Army, whose subsistence cannot be drawn from fields which are laid waste and in ashes.
In the second place: by what right can Your Excellency declare the Inhabitants of a Country to be Highway Robbers, who have recourse only to the measures which are generally resorted to by all Nations, in defending themselves against unjust Aggressors? The French when they occupied Spain, committed every species of outrage upon the defenceless Villages, and, what is more, the Spaniards themselves did the same thing to their own Villages, in order that they might deprive their Enemies of their resources. But were even the French declared to be Highway Robbers? Your Excellency's Decree proves that you are disposed to treat the Americans in the same manner as the Spaniards have done, and that you wish to [1816-17.]
prevent the Country from availing itself of those measures which the Law of Nations permits to all Belligerents, in the midst of the calamities of War. Even if the Orientals were not, as they are, our Brethren, their being our Neighbours would of itself authorize this Government to exert all its power in their support, when a Law is infringed, which it is the duty of every civilized Nation without exception to maintain. But I have already repeated to your Excellency that the People of the Eastern Territory, although they may have withdrawn themselves from a dependence upon any other Government, have not pretended to dissolve the ties of moral Union with their neighbouring Brethren, with whom they declare continually that they wish to contract more intimate relations; and the Armistice of 1812, which describes the Line of demarcation, was entered into with all the Provinces, and, for this reason, I have constantly protested against the present notorious violation of it. The Orientals defend their own cause and that of the Western Provinces at the same time, and they have therefore been, and will continue to be, assisted by this Capital, until your Excellency shall have evacuated the Territory of which you have taken forcible possession.
Should Your Excellency prosecute the War with dignity, and in conformity with the Law of Nations, we will do the same; but if Your Excellency should carry into effect the threats contained in the before mentioned Decree, I declare to your Excellency, that I will, on my part, exercise a still more severe reprisal, by subjecting, on every occasion, 3 Subjects of His Most Faithful Majesty, to the same treatment which Your Excellency shall inflict upon any one of the Orientals. With this view, I have taken measures for conveying all Portuguese Subjects to the Guardia de Luxan, although it is painful to me to treat them with this harshness; but which, since Your Excellency's Decree, has become absolutely necessary for the security of the State. I have also transmitted a Passport to the Officer sent by Your Excellency, in order that he may return to the place he came from, in the Vessel of War which brought him to this City. It is in your Excellency's power to cause to disappear these symptoms of a disastrous War, to which the course of events and the unexpected conduct of Your Excellency have given rise.
An Extraordinary Mission was on the point of departing for the Court of Brazil, with the intention of setting on foot Negotiations, which, being for the advantage of His Most Faithful Majesty, might at the same time be beneficial to these Provinces, and consistent with the general opinion of their Inhabitants. Your Excellency's Decree has in one moment changed these prospects. I therefore trust that Your Excellency will endeavour to repair the evil you have caused, by disposing the mind of your August Sovereign to desist from an undertaking, which must seriously injure both his own reputation and the happiness of his Subjects, whether the final result be favorable or otherwise to these Provinces :-above all, I recommend to your Ex
cellency to revoke the before-mentioned Decree, in order to spare humanity so many miseries, and the whole World so much disgrace. God preserve Your Excellency many years. H. E. General Lecor.
DON MARTIN DE PUEYRREDON.
DECREE of the Supreme Director of the United Provinces of South America, relative to the Occupation of the Province of Monte Video by the Portuguese Forces.-Buenos Ayres, 2nd March, 1817.
THE Day which is consecrated, by the public piety and gratitude, to the rendering of thanks to the Eternal Protector of the American People, for the brilliant successes which He has granted to the Arms of our Country in the Kingdom of Chile, is also the Day that should be chosen to explain to these Provinces the principles which have regulated my conduct with regard to the Court of Brazil, and to its Army, which has been making aggressions on the Eastern Bank of the Rio de la Plata. My apparent passiveness respecting a measure in reality hostile, has had no other foundation than the hopes which had been held out to me, that the Measure had for its object the prosperity and aggrandizement of this State. All my endeavours to penetrate the mystery, upon which our fortunes and our glory appeared to depend, have been unsuccessful. The necessity of tranquillizing the public mind, which was alarmed by injurious suspicions of my integrity and by seditious insinuations, have compelled me to proceed with less caution than I should otherwise have done, in eliciting this important discovery; nevertheless, although in the midst of much obscurity, I began to perceive that the high destinies of the neighbouring Court were not compatible with those of which the Argentine People had rendered themselves worthy, by their constancy, valour, and heroic sacrifices. To terminate this uncertainty, I was on the eve of dispatching an Extraordinary Mission to Rio de Janeiro, with proposals, founded on fixed bases, the refusal or admission of which would have enabled me to decide upon the good faith of that Government, and upon the final resolution which we ought to adopt.
In this state of things, I received last night a Decree published on the 15th of February by General Lecor, the contents of which will shock all Civilized Nations; and which is as follows:—
[See Decree of General Lecor, Page 988.]
The impression which the perusal of this Document created in my mind would have led to the severest measures, had I not felt that the dignity of the station which I occupy suggested to me other methods of giving the Portuguese General to understand how much he had