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Central America-Constitution of the States-Origin of the Civil WarsMeeting of an Extraordinary Congress-President Arce convokes a Convention-Disturbance in Guatemala-New Government organized-Salvador makes war upon Guatemala-The Salvadorenos beaten and repulsed-Arce marches against Salvador-The latter submits-Peace restored-Canal of Nicaragua.

CENTRAL AMERICA has recently been convulsed by civil dissentions of the most alarming character. They had their origin in events which transpired towards the close of the year 1826, to which it is proper we should revert, in order to lay before our readers a connected and intelligible account of the subsequent incidents. It is to be understood, that, although the federal constitution of the republic was adopted in November, 1824, yet it was some time before the constitutions of the several states were completed. In the United States, the several colonies which composed the old confederacy, and now constitute the federal union, had long been accustomed to the exercise of legislative and executive powers, within themselves. Hence, at the opening of the revolution, the colonies each completed the organization of state governments,


more or less perfect; before the
federal constitution, which now
binds the whole together, was put
in operation, or even framed. But
in the Spanish American republics,
the case was widely different. They
had no experience of the exercise
of legislative powers, much less
any thing precisely corresponding
to our colonial divisions.
Spanish American patriots were
under the necessity, therefore, of
beginning at the very foundation,
in the task of establishing an inde-
pendent government. Instead of
organizing state governments, first,
which should afterwards unite to-
gether to form a general govern-
ment, the patriots of Central Ame-
rica, for instance, adopted their
federal constitution, and carried it
into operation, before any one of
the confederated states except Sal-
vador had framed a constitution for
itself. Hence arose the peculiar

feature of the federal constitution, which prescribes the general outline of the several state constitutions, and on which each of the states built the fabric of its own domestic government, according to its peculiar wants and condition. Salvador established its constitution first, in June, 1824; Costarica followed in January, 1825; Honduras in December, 1825 ; and lastly, Nicaragua, in April, 1826. Hence, at the expiration of 1826, had no extraordinary occurrences transpired, the government could hardly have acquired the easy movement necessary to insure tranquillity.

The first congress of the repub. lic terminated its regular session in June, 1826. By repeated acts of the constituted authorities, for the time being, the seat of the federal government had been fixed in the city of Guatemala. But

early in the first session of congress, the inhabitants of Salvador began to manifest a jealousy of the state of Guatemala. They conceived, or professed to conceive, an idea that the principal persons of Guatemala were conspiring with the general government to revolutionize the republic, and to change the federal into the central form. They represented the continuance of the federal authorities in the city of Guatemala as tending to this object, by imparting undue influence to the Guatemaltecans, and

facilitating the absorption of the powers of government into the hands of hands of the supposed central party.

Hence, in March, 1826, the assembly of the state of Salvador, addressed a memorial to the congress, praying that the federal authorities might be transferred to some place at least forty leagues from the city of Guatemala. Soon afterwards, certain inhabitants of the town of Aguachapan, in the state of Salvador, petitioned congress to remove the seat of government within the limits of that state; which was followed by a like petition from the inhabitants of Metapan, in Salvador. However much the Guatemaltecans might be opposed to this change at heart, they declared their willingness to accede to it, if it should be for the public good. Still the congress did not deem it expedient to comply with the wishes of the Salvadoreños.

By an article of the constitution, the senate is authorized to convoke the congress on extraordinary oc. casions. What these occasions shall be, the constitution does not prescribe, leaving it of course to the discretion of the senate. Exercising this discretion, the senate, by decree of August 25th, 1826, summoned the members of congress to meet in extraordinary session, at the usual place, on the first day of October next ensuing. The decree designated various important

subjects for the consideration of congress, some of which were of a nature to demand immediate attention.

At the appointed time, it seems that only seventeen members of congress appeared to take their seats, although twenty-one are required by the constitution to make a quorum. Of course, the members assembled could not regularly perform any acts, except such as related to the organization of their body. On examination, it was found that of the absent representatives, seven belonged to the state of Salvador. The members assembled immediately took measures, as usual in such cases, to require the attendance of a sufficient number to constitute a quo


Several of the absent deputies alleged sickness as the cause of their detention. But two deputies from the state of Salvador, Mar. celino Menendes and Buenaventura Guerrero, openly signified their determination not to attend. Menendes, particularly, referring to the previous attempts of Salvador to procure the removal of the seat of government, said he should not attend until the transfer took place. He alleged also, that the congress was illegally convoked, because, as he pretended, none of the subjects, set forth for its consideration by the decree of the senate, came within the constitution. al description of extraordinary oc.

casions. The legislature of the state of Guatemala, hereupon, alleging apprehension of hostile intentions on the part of Salvador, which the language of the Salvadoreños, respecting the seat of government, partly justified, ordered a body of militia to be raised, by the name of defenders of the constitution.

Congress continued its preparatory sessions, from day to day, until October 10th, when a decree of the president, Arce, was communicated to that body; which gave a new turn to the course of events. Its preamble recited the public grievances, which called for the decree; such as the disorganiza. tion of the state of Honduras; disturbances in that of Nicaragua; attempts made by the government of Guatemala to usurp the powers of the republic; and other subjects, requiring the interposition of some authority, superior to what the executive possessed. It farther alluded to the conduct of the delegations from the state of Salvador, in withdrawing themselves from congress; and stated, that as the senate of the republic had not the constitutional number of members, this body was incompetent to afford relief in the

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republic, by all proper means with in its power and wisdom; to consist of two representatives for every thirty thousand inhabitants: and to be installed in the town of Cojutepeque, so soon as a majority of all the delegates should have as. sembled. "Meantime," (the de

cree further provided,) "the exe. cutive will defend, with all his power, the free use of his power; and will guarantee individual security, without departing from the fe. deral constitution, and the laws in force. He will preserve order; and will answer for his conduct, and for all the measures which the preservation of public tranquillity ex. acts, before the extraordinary na tional congress."

This decree being referred to a committee, they reported, that it was an arbitrary violation of the constitution. They charged the president with having used his influence to prevent the organization of congress, in order to escape being called to account for irregularities in the public expenditures. They alleged, that no legitimate cause existed for the extraordinary congress; which was, they said, merely a device of the president's to screen himself from responsibility to the constitutional authorities. They concluded, by declaring, that the decree ought not to be observed; and in this opinion all the members present concurred, although three of them objected to

the form of the report. A few days afterwards, the supreme court of justice published a declaration, that the president had openly infringed the constitution, by refusing to recognise the constitutional congress, and convoking another at his arbitrary will.

If the design of the president in issuing the decree, as imputed to him by the committee of congress, was to disorganize the republic, his success was complete. If, on the contrary, in doing it, he sincerely aimed at the public good, the measure was ill-judged, and the result was most unfortunate; for it great. ly augmented the disunion, which previously existed. Guatemala proceeded to elect representatives for the extraordinary congress; and Costarica determined to do the same. In Honduras, and Nicara. gua, opinions were divided; the go. vernment opposing the adoption of the decree; but many towns, dis. tricts, and departments, declaring in its favour. In Honduras, the departments began to separate, and to resist the authority of the su preme chief or governor. But the people and government of Salvador declared against the decree; and, to fill up the measure of irregularity, while the state of Salvador were crying out against the act of the president, they despatched letters to the states of Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costarica, inviting them to concur in assembling the ordina

ry federal congress at Aguachapan, and to unite their military forces with those of Salvador, for the purpose of sustaining the constitutional representation. If it was unconstitutional for the president to convoke an extraordinary congress, it was not the less so for one state, or four states, to undertake to assign the time and place of assembling the ordinary congress, and to organize a military force to accomplish their object.

described as a person of good fami. ly and character, and liberal in his political principles, was attacked by a low mob in the province of Quezaltenango, in the state of Guatemala, and cruelly murdered, in some ebullition of misguided popular resentment.

The government of the state of Guatemala being disorganized by these events, the president of the republic issued a decree, under date of October 30th, 1826, ordering the government to be reorgani. zed by popular election. This was accordingly done in the forms of the constitution, the legislative and executive authorities being duly elected by the inhabitants of the state. The government of Salvador afterwards complained of this, also, as illegal; but, at the time, they urged the president to adopt this course, and even sent him military forces to aid him in this among other objects. The new legislature commenced its sessions with the year 1827; bat the election of supreme chief or governor was not completed until the month following. In reading the inaugural address of this magistrate, Mariano Aycinena, installed March 1st, 1827, it is grateful to observe a quotation from Washington's Farewell Address, introduced by these words: "Let us remember what is said by the immortal Washington, the father of the American

Previous to this, events had oc curred in the state of Guatemala, which tended greatly to aggravate the public disorders already explained. In the contradictory accounts which are given of the motives and intentions of the parties, it is no easy matter to ascertain the truth, without fuller intelligence than has yet reached this country. But the facts stated are, that Barrundia, governor of the state of Guatemala, in September, 1826, arrested one Espinola, a military officer in the national service, on the charge of having forcibly entered houses with a picquet, without warrant from the civil authorities. dispute, which ensued in conse. quence, between Barrundia and president Arce, terminated, it is said, in the seizure by the latter, of the arms belonging to the state, and the suspension of the governor's functions, which devolved on the vice-chief, Civilo Flores. Soon afterwards, this magistrate, who is republics." If the nations of the


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