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letter, requesting an explanation of certain statements, made by Mr. Benton. In whatever view this correspondence is considered, it is extraordinary and unprecedented.
The negotiation with foreign powers, is confided, by the constitution, to the executive department of the federal government ; and if members of the senate, undertake to represent their respective states in such transactions, a door is at once opened to the inter
ference of foreign powers, in our domestic concerns; and the advantages of representing the sovereignty of the United States, in one government, are relinquished.
The whole transaction was a violation of the confederating principle of the American union, without a precedent, and involved a departure from the spirit and letter of the constitution, never witnessed before, and one, which, it is to be hoped, will never occur again.
Mexico-Congress of 1827-Foreign Relations-Ecclesiastical Affairs-Persecution of the Spaniards-Laws against them-Plot and execution of Arenas-Arrest of Negrete and Echavarri-Disturbances in Durango-Yaquis-Texas-State of Parties-Expulsion of Esteva from Vera Cruz-Attack on Mr. Poinsett-Rincon's Proceedings-The Navy.
CONFORMABLY to the provision of the constitution of MEXICO, the second congress assembled the first day of the year 1827. Apprehensions of open hostility from Spain, no longer exercised any extensive influence over public measures; but still the acts of the national legislature, and the general history of the year, will show that fears, either real or affected, of Spanish partialities and corruption, within the republic, produced the greatest agitation in the public mind. The message presented by president Victoria, at the opening of the chambers, congratulated the members, that the period for the return of their duties, found the country tranquil; and its prosperity increasing from day to day, as its republican institutions gradually acquired maturity and solidity.
He stated, that a special minister, signor Camacho,had been despatch
ed to London, for the purpose of making certain explanations, which were necessary for the completion of the treaty with Great Britain; and that the treaty with the United States would be submitted to the congress, it being confidently expected that the public relations with two governments of so much importance, would speedily be put upon a stable and permanent footing, by the mutual ratification of these treaties. In fact, at the close of the first session of the legisla. fure in May, president Victoria announced, that the negotiations with England had finished; and the treaty had arrived in Mexico to receive its ratification. He stated further, that an arrangement with France was also anticipated. A commercial agent had presented himself in behalf of the French government; but as he bore a commission only from Admiral Du
perre, commanding on the station of the Antilles, the executive of Mexico had thought fit not to recog. nise him in his public capacity, until he could exhibit credentials direct from his king, and in due form. A confidential agent was now in Paris, to represent the interests of Mexico; and the Mexican flag was admitted in the French ports on precisely the same terms that the ships of France were in the ports of the republic. These circumstances, it was hoped, would lead to a more frank and liberal intercourse between the two govern. ments, than France had heretofore been willing to allow.
Nothing had occurred to interrupt the friendly relations of Mexico with the other governments of the south. The disorders in Central America; the apprehended change in the constitution of Columbia; the war between Brazil and Buenos Ayres; and the unsettled state of these countries, afford ed serious cause of regret to the government of Mexico. But the president had carefully abstained from the commission of any acts, which could compromise the strict neutrality of the republic, in regard either to the external wars, or the domestic commotions of its common allies. We shall not attempt a minute account of the proceedings of the Mexican legislature; but merely enter into explanations concerning a few subjects of gene.
ral interest. ral interest.
One was, the discussion concerning the state of the church. In consequence of the injudicious letter of the papal court, exhorting the Spanish Americans to return to their allegiance, great opposition existed to making a concordat with the see of Rome. Some of the state legislatures openly op. posed it. Those of Zacatecas and Durango addressed energetic memorials to the general government, recommending the assumption of the fratronate. Jalisco went so far as to take the collection of the tithes out of the hands of the clergy, and vest it in a junta of four, of whom, but one member was an ecclesiastic. A committee of congress, in reporting upon the instructions given to the envoy to Rome; while they professed a dis. position to be governed by the pope in matters of faith, advised the convocation of a general council, to meet every ten years, for the purpose, it is to be presumed, of regulating points of church government, independent of the pope; and urged, that a certain sum annually should be paid to him, in the shape of a voluntary gift, and not of tribute, as the basis of a concordat.
But the measures in respect to the old Spaniards, reproachfully known by the epithet of Gachupines, are the most curious and im. portant. Notwithstanding the constitution guaranteed to them equal rights with the Creoles; yet the en
mity of the latter towards them, has frightfully increased within the last year; and now renders the situation of every Spaniard in Mexico, criti. cal in the highest degree. Recent events, particularly the plot of Padre Arenas, of which we shall speak hereafter, have served to excite suspicions against Spaniards, it is true; but independent of any specific incident, a rooted hostility exists between the two classes, created by natural causes, and fostered by designing men. Much of this antipathy of the Creoles against the Gachupines, is handed down, undoubtedly, from the time when the latter possessed every post of honour and profit in the country, and the former were treated as a degraded caste. But other causes exist for the present excitement on the subject; among these, it is to be considered, that, as Spanish tamilies hold the great mass of the real property, they are objects of jealousy on that account; and their superior learning, and the more aristocratic condition in life which they have enjoyed, probably aggravate the enmity of the poorer classes. Add to this, what is generally true of them, that their secret partialities, their wishes, and sometimes their influence, are opposed to the republican institutions of the country. Great efforts are made to augment their unpopularity, by all the complicated machinery of a free press. Essays in the newspapers,
handbills couched in the most inflammatory language, satirical placards; in short, all the devices, which the ingenuity of party animosity can invent, are industriously put in requisition, to render the Spaniards a marked and hated
Under the influence of these feelins, co-operating with some just causes of suspicion,* a law passed the federal cóngress depriving all natives of Spain, employed in the army, custom-house, and post of fice, of the places held, until Spain should recognise the independence of Mexico. It was published in the city of Mexico, on the 14th of May, and received with extravagant demonstrations of joy on the part of the populace. In anticipation of it, all business was suspended throughout the city, and the Spanish merchants, justly alarmed for the safety of their property and lives, awaited the event with trembling anxiety. The proclamation of the law was followed by the discharge of fire-works, and the ringing of the bells throughout the remainder of the day. Nothing but the presence of a strong guard under arms, and bodies of cavalry to patrole the streets, prevented the mob from breaking out into the most violent outrages against the objects of their jealousy and hatred.
This law was followed by others, enacted in several of the states, of
a more decided character. They began by immediately adopting the principle of the law, and applying it to the states, so as to exclude all native Spaniards from holding any office of trust or profit in the state, with various modifications of hardship to the disfranchised persons. Thus the state of Queretaro, by an act, under date of May 31st, which we have before us, decreed their suspension from office until Spain should acknowledge the independence of Mexico, continuing to them one half of their salaries, during their suspension. Soon afterwards, the state of Mexico prohibited all Spaniards in that state from wearing or using arms of any description, without special license from the governor.
Things remained in this posture during the summer; but at the close of it, the excitement and violence against the Spaniards broke forth in the most unrelenting persecution, The legislature of the state of Jalisco, had passed a decree for the expulsion from that state of all the native Spaniards resident there; and although the decree was discussed in the national senate in September, and pronounced unconstitutional by that branch of the legislature; yet the zeal of the states, and the activity of individuals, appeared likely to effect what congress declined to do, acting in behalf of the whole nation. A resolution was submitted in the
house of representatives, for the banishment of all Spanish ecclesiastics, and the confiscation of their property; but it did not obtain a majority of votes. In Acapulco and its neighbourhood, a movement was made by the natives against the Spaniards, which drove the latter to take refuge in the ships laying in the harbour, for the preservation of their lives. Here, and elsewhere, elsewhere, barbarous excesses were committed by the populace, such as pursuing the Spaniards in the streets with knives and swords ; and the cry for blood was raised in some of the newspapers, and by individuals in congress, in a way to shock every friend of humanity and of social order.
In October, the state of Mexico passed a decree for the expulsion of all the Spanish clergy and priests from the territory of the state; and the transfer of all the church property in their hands, such as the convents, with their fur. niture, lands, and stock, images and ornaments of churches, and the
like, to native ecclesiastics, under the direction of the governor of the state. This decree was passed on the 16th of October, and on the 23d ratified by the executive council, who ordered that it should go into complete operation within eight days from its publication. Indeed, a general excitement against the persecuted Spaniards, seemed to pervade the