Imágenes de páginas

Democracy is created by none, neither can it be destroyed by any. In attempting reforms in the colonies or in Spain, cast your eyes on every side and behold how to reaction there remains not a refuge in the whole world. Where is its refuge? Where is that traditional court on which our moderados built their hopes ? Where is that holy alliance on which our absolutists reposed their trust! Ah! gentlemen, none of these things now remain! Look at Rome. Yesterday beneath the sway of modern theocracy-to-day the capital of Italy. Upon the Aventine Hill, where humbled penitents but lately crept, to-day the tribunes awaken to renewed life. Look at Austria, the keystone of the holy alliance, the lever of Metternich. Where does she stand now? Ah! Austria has broken her theocratic concordat; Austria bas brought her peoples forth from the dungeon of the past and made them autonomic nations. Of old, she cited kings to conclaves for the purpose of dividing the map of Europe among themselves; to-day she summons the nations to a universal exhibition, that they may behold the marvels of industry and of labor. [Applause.] And what is ancient Prussia now, gentlemen ? Who is there blind enough to fancy that Prussia is about to be a favorable element for the reactionists of the world? Her Emperor-King is the battle-mace wielded by a higher Power to smite down the kings of divine right and to destroy the empires of old. The Florentine genius of the chancellor of Germany is to-day shaking to its base a structure more formidable than all our aristocracies—the house of peers; is to-day plucking away ancient hereditary influences in administrative circles; is to-day calling the German peoples to universal suffrage; and is to-day accomplishing the idea of German unity, which is a revolutionary idea, because Germany, which stands forth to-day as an imperial federation, shall in the future now very close at hand become a democratic federation. And France ? France, yesterday oppressed by that inconstant and willful Bonaparte, who sought to revive the empire and slavery in America ; France, democratic as well as conservative; France is to-day wholly and definitely a great republic. Permit me to offer my salutations to our neighboring nation, and I salute her because, in spite of the great calamities she has suttered, she has never lost confidence in herself, and because she puts her trust to-day in the holy virtue of democracy and in the efficacy of republicanism.

And is America perchance following another path! Ah! Grant has been re-elected by the mature political judgment of the American people; he has been re-elected because he took Richmond, that Babylon of slavery, and because he to-day assists the blacks to rise to the highest offices in the state amidst a race that, while descending from the Puritans of New Plymouth, also springs from the Cavaliers of Old England.

And our Spanish-American democracies are day by day growing in culture and in wealth; are day by day developing the measure of their temperament and exhibiting the elevation of their mental power, sure signs of the calmness of their judgment and the constant ripening of their civilization in the bosom of republican institutions.

In Mexico—what has become of the empire? A magistrate goes from the supreme court to the presidency of the republic. Her people, desiring peace, have chosen him, and the soldiers, the men of warfare, cast down their arms at the feet of the magistrate, the representative of law and right. The sundered shores of the Plata are today growing in liberty and culture. New Granada is realizing all the miracles of modern individualism. Steadfast and enlightened Chili possesses conservative institutions, to demonstrate that within the forms of republicanism there is room alike for the elements of progress and the elements of stability. In Peru a revolution has recently taken place. In what interest? In favor of a military oligarchy! No! Against a military oligarchy, and in favor of the President elected by the will of her people.

What does all this prove, deputies? It proves that there are no obstacles to the realization of colonial reforms and the immediate abolition of slavery, other than our apprehensions and our fears. As for the rest, it is purely imaginary. Deputies of this majority, you who have been called unknown, obscure, and rural; let not this influence you; return to your firesides and say: “We, who were but yesterday obscure, are today immortal; we belong to the race of Christ, of Washington, of Spartacus, of Lincoin, for we have, without fear, uttered the word Liberty! and have set our names at the base of the greatest work of man-at the foot of the perfected redemption of all in bondage." (Great and prolonged applause.]

(Appendix K.-Extract translated.]
Synopsis of the proceedings in the Spanish senate December 23, 1872.

[From La Gaceta de Madrid, December 24, 1872.) The sitting was begun at a quarter past two o'clock. : Mr. Benot asked if it was the intention of the government to bring a bill for abolition in Porto Rico at once before the Cortes,

Mr. Martos said the government was resolved to bring the bill before the Cortes without delay. The government had intended to lay the bill first before the senate and afterward before the chamber. Although slavery was a wrong, certain vested rights had grown up with it. They had to act in two ways: morally, by putting an end to slavery; and legally, by indemnifying existing interests, since these, though not of the nature of property, were sufficiently important to demand the careful attention of the government in framing a law of abolition. It was needful to indemnify the slave-owners, and in order to do so

Here Mr. Martos was interrupted by Mr. Lasala, and a short discussion concerning the right of property in slaves followed.

Mr. Martos said all this was open to debate when the bill was presented, but now he had simply come to explain the purpose of the government to present a law of abolition. Resuming the question of indemnity, he said that in order to indemnify the owners, ways and means must be devised and funds raised, and as this would affect public credit, the consideration of the measure belonged constitutionally to the lower chamber in the first place, as that body could alone originate any scheme involving taxation. The government was resolved to proceed in this most important matter in strict conformity to the constitution.

Mr. Castro read extracts from a letter from Porto Rico, stating that slaves were being transported from that island to Cuba, in infraction of existing statutes, and in evasion of the intended measure of abolition. He asked if the government had received any information on the subject, and begged that telegraphic orders should be sent to put a stop to the abuse.

Mr. Martos said that the government now heard of this traffic for the first time, and that proper action should be taken in the case related by Mr. Castro. He had, however, the satisfaction of informing the senate that these abuses had been foreseen, and that the new colonial secretary's first step on taking office had been to send telegraphic orders to the authorities of Porto Rico to prevent the realization of these nefarious projects. Mr. Castro thanked the minister of state.

Mr. Diez asked if the government held that it must indemnify the owners before it could give freedom to the slaves in Porto Rico.

Mr. Martos replied that an answer to this question would involve an explanation and discussion of the whole scope and form of the proposed bill.

Mr. Diez respected the reserve of the government on this point, but he had another question to put. Was the ownership of slaves in Porto Rico legitimate or illegitimate in the eyes of the government? Had the owners been permitted to acquire them by recognized means, as they had done, or had they acquired their slaves in violation of the laws? [Rumors. ]

Mr. Martos said the government could not now enter on the discussion of the right of property in slaves. He acknowledged Mr. Diez's right to ask the question, but he Tequested him not to press it now. Mr. Diez said he would reserve his inquiry for another occasion. Mr. Rebullida said that Mr. Martos, in announcing the project of abolition, had em. ployed terms indicative of a disbelief of the government in the right to hold slaves under the existing law. But the new and iniquitous slave-trade between Porto Rico and Cuba, of which Mr. Castro had spoken, showed that it was tacitly understood that slavery would continue to be lawful in Cuba, whatever might be done in the other island. It should be understood in the Antilles that there were senators and deputies who believed that abolition should become a fact and not a principle in all the dominions of Spain, and thus put an end to the traffic Mr. Castro had denounced.

Mr. Martos said there were other means of stopping this traffic than by immediato abolition in Cuba, and it would be stopped by the orders that had already been sent to Porto Rico by telegraph. The policy of the government, in regard to abolition, had been often stated. It was founded on the difference in the actual situation of Cuba and Porto Rico. In the latter, its perfect tranquillity admitted of immediate abolition. The war in Cuba allowed of nothing more than the execution of the preparatory law of 1870, and when peace was restored gradual abolition could be undertaken.

Mr. Rebullida said that the slave-trade between the islands of Cuba and Porto Rico was an international matter, and not domestie. It could be best stopped by immediate and general emancipation. He gave notice that an amendment in this sense would be proposed to any law the government might present on the subiect.

Mr. Martog said that the slave-trade between Cuba and Porto Rico was impossible. Existing precantions made the African slave-trade with Cuba most difficult, and for a long time no slaves had been landed there. But in Africa the slaves were not registered, and in Porto Rico they were, and this alone would make the traffic impossible withont the eonnivance of all the authorities.

Mr. Rebulida "rectified.” His ideas were not personal, but represented the republican and democratic convictions of the world.

Mr. Martos “rectified.” When the time should come for abolition in Cuba, it would be found impossible to realize it immediately, and for that reason a scheme of gradual emancipation there would be preferable.

Mr. Suarez Inclán asked the government to lay before the senate the expediente, which had doubtless been prepared before the promulgation of the municipal decree for Porto Rico, including the reports of General Boldrick and Gomez Pulido against the advisability of executing the previous municipal decree of 1870.

Mr. Martos replied that such an expediente was for the exclusive use of the cabinet, and would not be made public.

The senate went into secret session at 30 minutes past 3 o'clock.

(Appendix M.-Extract translated.)

Synopsis of the proceedings in the chamber of deputies, December 24, 1872.

[From the Gaceta de Madrid, December 25, 1872.). The sitting was opened at half past two. Mr. Jove y Hévia called for the reading of the 108th article of the constitution. It was accordingly read.

MR. Jove y Hévia said that this article showed that colonial reforms could be treated by the Constituent Cortes alone.

The President (Rivero) called him to order.

The president of the council of ministers said the government, and he was sure the house also, desired the fullest liberty for the expression of individual views on colonial matters at this moment. Mr. Jove y Hévia had called for the reading of an article of the constitution. The regulations did not permit him to explain why he had read it. If Mr. Jove y Hévia had anything to say, the parliamentary rules gave him means to say it before the reading of the bill abolishing slavery in Porto Rico wholly and forever. He might put a question or make an interpellation, and he, the president of the council, would rise before the chamber and the nation, and show that in treating of the questions of reforms for Porto Rico, the government was always ready to answer the friends of the league and the enemies of emancipation,

Mr. Jove y Hévia, after a brief passage of arms with the president of the chamber, said the language of the constitution was decisive, for it provided that reforms in the Antilles should be decreed by the Constituent Cortes. The president of the council had called him an enemy to emancipation. He was not a foe to abolition in principle: in the first place because of his natural instincts; in the second place because of his sense of justice; and in the third place because he was faithful to the precepts of the Catholic Church, and he believed that no good Catholic could, before the tribunal of his conscience, hold a slave, even for a single moment. (Great applause.)

"You applaud the church-not me,” he said. “Give no applause to me; you will repent of it; for I hold, although an abolitionist in principle, that governmental and legislative acts should bear the stamp of scrupulous care, of deep attention, and, above all, of opportuneness, in order that from these acts, although in themselves good, evil consequences may not flow." He had not yet heard the proposed bill, but from reports of its tenor, he thought its haste and inopportuneness were most evident.

The colonial minister (Mosquera) said the reading of the bill would soon convince Mr. Jove y Hévia of his misconception of the measure. He had attacked it a priori, and without being acquainted with it. By his declaration that he was in principle an abolitionist, and that no Catholic could hold a slave for a single moment, he had given more strength and efficacy to the project of the government

In 1870 the Constituent Cortes had decreed that a future Congress might legislate in the matter of colonial reforms. The law of abolition was an ordinary law, and did not treat of a fundamental institution, but simply of the relations between slaves and their masters. Mr. Jove y Hévia's construction of the 108th article would take from all future Congresses all power over colonial legislation, on the ground that all colonial legislation was confined to the Constituent Cortes. This, without offense to Mr. Jorn y Hévia, was purely and simply absurd. This measure had been fully considered and maturely discussed by this government in view of all the reports and projects and antecedents since 1865, and a mass of documentary precedents had been consulted. It would be brought before the Congress to sustain the amplest examination and debate before it received the final and solemn sanction of the Parliament and of the King. Not only this, but its presentation had been prefaced by a most solemn discnssion in both senate and chamber, an unusual occurrence. Was this treating the question er abrupto and ab irator

He concluded by congratulating Mr. Jove y Hévia on his frank declaration, that no good Catholic conld hold a slave, even for a single moment.

Mr. Jove y Hévia said he had simply uttered the convictions of his own inner conscience, with respect to the duties of a Catholic.

Mr. Lasala asked that the voluminous antecedents, of which the colonial minister had spoken, should be laid before the committee to which the bill would be referred, in order that it might report thereon with a full understanding of its merits.

The colonial minister said he would have great satisfaction in doing so. He had already given orders for their preparation, in proper form, to be presented to the chamber. They were numerous, and it would take time to arrange them, but meanwhile they were at the disposal of any depnty who might desire to see them. He wished all possible light thrown on the subject.

The president of the chainbers said he presumed these documents would be submitted before the termination of the holiday recess, and he hoped they would be furnished as soon as possible.

The colonial minister said he had ordered their preparation with all possible dispatch.

The president of the chamber said he would inform the deputies as soon as the documents were received, in order that they might study them, for the question needed much study. Several deputies then added their names to the previous vote, in favor of Mr. Becerra's motion.

Mr. Olavarríeta said his name appeared among those voting in favor of the motion, when in reality he had voted against it. He begged that the error be corrected in the official reports.

The Secretary (Moreno Rodriguez) stated that the desired correction would be made.

The colonial minister then occupied the tribune, and read the following royal decree, and the preamble and bill to which it referred :

"In accord with the advice of the council of ministers, I hereby authorize the minister of the colonies to submit to the deliberation of the Cortes the following bill for the immediate abolition of slavery in the island of Porto Rico.

“Given in the palace the twenty-third of December, one thousand eight hundred and seventy-two.

“AMADEO. *The Minister of the Colonies,

“ Tomás MARIA MOSQUERA.” (For the full translation of the preamble and bill, see Appendix N.) The chamber thereupon adjourned until after the holiday recess. .

(Appendix N.-Translation.]

Bill for the immediate abolition of slarery in the island of Porto Rico, presented by the colonial

minister, Chamber of Deputies, December 24, 1872.

[From El Diario de las Sesiones de Cortes.]

TO THE CORTES: In the name of God and in obedience to right, morality, and justice, to the welfare of the people and the dignity of the nation, this government, fulfilling the most sacred of its promises and the most humanitarian of its duties, submits for the approval of the Cortes a bill for the immediate abolition of slavery in the province of Porto Rico. Its most ardent desires would be realized and its most delicate scruples satisfied if the insensate obstinacy of a few rebels did not hinder it from granting the

sine inestimable boon to Cuba, with the modifications that would necessarily be demanded in view of the different organization of the system of labor in the two islands, the different density of their population, the enormous inequality in the number of their slaves, and other fundamental differences in their social status.

The government would fear to offend the good judgment of the Cortes if it sought to jastify its generous resolve before them. Unhappy are they the muteness of whose conscience renders needful the cold language of reason.

It is an evident and consolatory moral law that utility is ever the inseparable companion of justice; but the government owes it to itself to declare in this solemn moment that, after examining this reform under every aspect, it has only found new and powerful reasons that at once assure its opportuneness and prove its justice.

Gradoal abolition, which will, perhaps, one day be the necessary form of emiancipation in Cuba, offers no advantages to recommend it in Porto Rico. The population of African origin in the latter island is relatively less numerous than that of European

extraction; nearly all the blacks have been born in the island; of the 31,000 held in slavery, less than 10,000, perhaps less than 8,000, are devoted to field-labor; the remainder live in a sort of domestic servitude, as barren of profit to the masters as it is favorable to the education of the slaves or those employed in mechanical operations, No danger, therefore, arises from the number or condition of those who in a single day may cease to be chattels and acquire the noble station of free men.

Let the happy day dawn when Spain may pay the debt of honor she has contracted toward modern civilization. By a chance, which seems providential, the presentation of this project falls on the day consecrated by Christianity to the commemoration of the birth of Him who was to change the face of the world, breaking the bonds of all servitude and proclaiming the equality of all men before their God.

Let us, then, aid his work and realize a fresh achievement in the interest of humanity and for the good of the country. Slavery is a monstrous wrong, no less baleful to them who impose than to them who bear it. All great humane and patriotic interests cry aloud for its disappearance, which will at one and the same time redound to the wellbeing of the redeemed and the honor of the liberators. It is demanded by religion, for among the sons of our common Father there should be neither oppressed nor oppressors. It is demanded by morality, for there can be no merit in acts performed without free will, and the soul of the slave is nearly always a place apart, shut out from all idea of duty and all sentiments of virtue. It is demanded by right, for there is no wrong comparable with the mutilation of human entity in its most noble and essential attributes. It is demanded by utility, for slave-labor is the least intelligent, the least productive, and the least active of all. It is demanded by patriotism, since apathy and weakness and corruption are the common chastisements of those peoples who sleep in luxury and leave to the hands of bondmen the thousand-fold applications of that labor which is the eternal law of our nature and the eternal companion of our own self-worth. It is demandable by policy, because domestic habits are so intimately linked with public customs that where the groan of the slave is heard it is hard to rear citizens apt for the ruder exercise of liberty. It is demanded by prudence, for the unwise continuance of any abuse makes its remedy more difficult and its correction more violent; and lastly, it is demanded by the necessities of the government under our system of representative institutions, for in free nations no resistance can prevail against the force of opinion, and in Spain, fortunately, opinion is frankly and resolutely pronounced against this barbarous monstrosity whose supposed benefits consist in reducing to gold the sweat, the tears, the blood, and the souls of an unhappy race, condemned until now to suffer the lash and the chain.

Basing this action on the foregoing high considerations, the undersigned minister, in accord with his colleagues and with the previous authorization of His Majesty, has the honor (which he esteems as the greatest of his life) to submit to the consideration of the Cortes the following

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]


ARTICLE 1. Slavery is hereby totally and forever abolished in the province of Porto Rico. The slaves shall be de facto free at the expiration of four months from the date of the publication of this law in the Official Gazette of that province.

ART. 2. The owners of the slaves thus emancipated shall be indemnified for their value within the term fixed in the foregoing article, conformably to the provisions of this law.

ART. 3. The amount of the indemnification to which the preceding article refers shall be fixed by the government, on the recommendation of a commission composed of the superior civil governor of Porto Rico, who shall be chairman; the financial intendente of the province, the attorney-general of the audiencia, three persons named by the provincial assembly, and three others chosen by the five largest slave-owners in the island.

The resolutions of this commission shall be adopted by a majority of its members. • ART. 4. Of the amount fixed by way of indemnification, 80 per centum shall be de livered to the owners of the slaves emancipated, half at the charge of the state and the other half at the charge of the province of Porto Rico, the remaining 20 per centum being at the charge of the owners themselves.

ART. 5. The government is hereby authorized to raise the necessary funds and te adopt such measures, as it may deem conducive to the exact fulfillment of this law within the period fixed in Articles 1 and 2. The minister of the colonies,


« AnteriorContinuar »