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The remainder of the votes were scattering.
VICE-PRESIDENT GOMEZ. “Having received a majority of all the votes cast, Mr. Figueras is declared duly elected president. Messrs. Castelar, Pi y Margall, Nicolas Salmeron, Echegaray, Cordova, Beranger, Becerra, and Francisco Salmeron are declared duly elected ministers of the ser. eral departments for which they have been respectively designated. The gentlemen chosen will take the official seats assigned to them in the chamber.”
The members of the government having taken their places on the min. isterial bench, there was loud and long-continued applause in the chamber and in the tribunes.
MARTOS. “Hurrah for the republic! Hurrah for the integrity of the Spanish nation! Hurrah for Cuba! And I hope this greeting of the Spanish Cortes to Cuba may be sent there by telegraph !”
The chamber responded to these cheers with extraordinary enthusiasm.
The PRESIDENT OF THE EXECUTIVE POWER, (Figueras.) “Gentlemen of the Spanish Cortes: No one will expect from me a long speech. No one asks, for no one believes it necessary, that I should now put forth a programme. Our programme is in our names, our lives, our history. Nevertheless, at an early day we shall communicate to the Cortes what we propose to do. I am unfitted to address you in the state of moral and physical exhaustion in which I find myself after the anxieties of the last forty-eight hours. Weighed down by what has passed, oppressed by the immense responsibility you have placed upon me and my col leagues, I cannot speak. I know full well that in conferring upon me the great distinction I have to acknowledge at your hands, you have been moved by the consideration that my life has been devoted to the republic. The preference that I have received among my colleagues is due to the seniority of my service, unmerited though it be by anything I have done. There is, however, one to whom, if he could have been present, this honor would have justly belonged.' I allude to the unforgotten Marquis of Albaida,* the veteran of Spanish republicans. We approach the requirements of our position in the integrity of our principles, with a firm purpose of adhering to them with sincerity. We shall address ourselves above all to the needs of public order, indispensable to the establishment of a republican government in Spain. The views of those of my colleagues who have heretofore belonged to the republican party respecting the forms and the manner of developing a republican government, are known to the country. Yielding to the presence of events, we reserve our opinions, leaving to the coming constitutional convention the establishment of the definitive form of the republic. And in order that this may be done with stability, and that the voice of the nation may be freely expressed, it is necessary above all that the electoral franchise may be honestly and fairly exercised. We are resolved, and all my colleagues unite with me in this declaration, that the approaching elections shall be conducted in perfect regularity and with the most ample liberty. If the result of these elections shall not be in conformity with our principles in relation to the manner in which we think the republic should be constituted, knowing, as you do, what belongs to political consistency, and speaking only in the name of those of my colleagues who have heretofore belonged to the republican party, I need scarcely say that in that event we shall pass from this bench to yonder seats we have occupied so many years. For the information of the chamber, and in honor of Spain, allow me to read a telegram just now put in my hands: From the in
* See note at the end of this dispatch.
formation received by the chief of the bureau of public order in the ministry of the interior, it appears that tranquillity reigns throughout Spain, with the single exception of a momentary tumult in Seville, which was immediately pacified. When a people accomplish so admirably a great change from a monarchy to a republic, without the effusion of blood, without disorder, and without violence, this people give the most signal proof of its aptitude for liberty and the amplest guarantees that the republic is definitively accepted as our form of government in Spain. This change, that cannot but influence the politics of Western Europe, since it is the destiny of our race always to exercise such influences even in periods of our depression—these events, gentlemen, fill my heart with joy, in which you must all equally share, because we believe that we see in them an assurance that the republic is finally established in our land. I trust, gentlemen, to your indulgence in these somewhat incoherent observations, and that you will await our acts and judge us by them, promising only that they shall have for their sincere purpose the maintenance of the republic, of liberty, of order, and of the integrity of all the territory of Spain." The sitting terminated at half past two in the morning.
In concluding this sketch of the proceedings of Congress on the eventful days of the King's abdication, and the proclamation of the republic, I may be permitted to point out the signal parliamentary ability shown by the republican leaders, Figueras, Pi Margall, and Castelar, in the direction they gave to the proceedings of the assembly. The abdication of the King seems to have found the monarchical elements wholly unprepared for the exigency. The republican leaders, on the other hand, as if anticipating the event, had their plans well arranged, a part assigned to each beforehand, and all contingencies provided for, so that even in regard to matters of parliamentary form, no chance was left to their opponents to resist the consummation of the work boldly undertaken, and adroitly accomplished. For this campaign the republican chiefs were fitted by an ardent faith in their cause, and by long experience in the legislature where they have ever distinguished themselves, not only for their strength in debate, but for their assiduous application to the business of Congress.
There was but one moment in these protracted sittings, which I have thus imperfectly reported, in which the serenity and calmness of a deliberative body was in the least disturbed. Mr. Zorrilla's attitude opposing action so tenaciously on the proposition of Mr. Figueras for a permanent session, and insisting upon an adjournment for the purpose of appointing a provisional government, was so in conflict with the obvious temper of the chamber, and apparently prompted by a desire to defeat the views of those who favored a republic, that it seemed at one time as if the impatience of the assembly and the hostile attitude of the multitude without might have stained the history of the event with acts of violence. But it deserves to be recorded that in this line of action Mr. Zorrilla had no followers, and he was patiently suffered to exhaust his means of resistance without disturbing the tranquillity of the occasion.
The monarchy had ceased to retain any hold unon Congress, and, I may add, upon a majority of the Spanish people. The dynasty of Amadeo had never gained the favor of the only real monarchists in this country. It cannot be denied that Don Carlos has numerous partisans in many provinces, and it may be admitted that not a few Spaniards look forward to the reign of Prince Alfonso. But the dynasty of Savoy gave offense to the supporters of the Spanish pretenders, and was especially repugnant to the liberal masses, hostile to any King, and, above all, dis
posed to resent the affront of being ruled by an alien. The late King was, therefore, never more than an expedient sought by General Prim to conciliate the monarchical traditions of Spain, without a due appreciation of his unfitness to reconcile the advocates of a throne, and with a still greater disregard of a growing public opinion that favored republican institutions.
The constitution of 1869 was essentially democratic. The 33d article, providing for a hereditary executive, was an exotic engrafted on a native plant. Congress, with plenary legislative power, was chosen by universal suffrage. The provincial assemblies and the municipal authorities were likewise elected by the people in their respective localities. The aristocracy ceased to exist as a political element in the state. Their ancient privileges were annulled. The equality of all men before the law was formally recognized. Religious freedom was proclaimed. So that for the past four years the Spanish people had become prepared for the complete developinent of free institutions, the legitimate conquest of the revolution of 1868. If it were appropriate in this dispatch, I might amplify these views by reference to the constitutions of 1837, 1820, and 1812, in each of which may be observed the successive steps by which the government of Spain has gradually approached a democratic form.
The throne has never recovered from the blow it dealt itself in the surrender of Spain to Napoleon by Ferdinand the Seventh; an act which involved the countless sacrifices of the war of independence, in which the germ of Spanish liberty re-appeared. On the death of Ferdinand in 1832, seven years of civil war were necessary to decide the succession between Isabel and Don Carlos. The unhappy reign that followed was a poor compensation for all that it cost to place the young Queen on the throne. The memory of that dreadful conflict and the vicissitudes through which the country passed down to the revolution of 1868, contributed largely to swell the ranks of those who professed republican opinions. Driven from power and exiled, almost without resistance or remonstrance or regret, the fall of the Bourbons finds its only parallel in Spanish history in the suddenness and indifference with which the late dynasty disappeared.
It may be expected that I should refer to the more immediate causes said to have contributed to the abdication of the late King. Conspicuous among these is the law for the emancipation of slavery in Porto Rico. As soon as it became apparent that Mr. Zorrilla's cabinet seriously entertained the purpose of passing this measure, giving to it the support of the Crown, the project was made the pretext for the formation of a “league,” in which all parties in Spain, except the republicans and the radicals, were influentially represented. Carlists, Alfonsists, conservatives, forgetful of all differences, united in this organization. It embraced Marshal Serrano, Admiral Topete, Mr. Sagasta, General Caballero de Rodas, hitherto supporters of the dynasty, besides a number of generals and cabinet ministers of Isabella. Nor was the adhesion and support of the leading Carlists in arms in the distant provinces rejected.
The league was understood to command ample pecuniary resources. It at once obtained the support of a large majority of the journals in Madrid and in the other principal towns. It established corresponding organizations throughout Spain. Failing in alternate efforts to dissuade and to intimidate the cabinet from proceeding with the emancipation project, a formal demand was addressed to the King invoking his interposition. The King declined to interfere unless he should be enabled to do so
constitutionally with the sanction of Parliament. From that moment His Majesty, abandoned by the conservative leaders who had united with General Prim in establishing the new dynasty, became the object of renewed and imbittered hostility at the hands of all the factions in Spain.
The first outbreak was seen in the streets of Madrid on the night of the 11th of December last, which was put down by the vigor and intrepidity of General Pavia. The efforts of the league” were then directed to the disorganization and insubordination of the army. A pretext was soon found in the assignment of General Hidalgo to a command in the north. This officer, it was said, had participated in the events of June, 1866, in which a number of artillery sergeants, in one of the Madrid barracks, having gained over their companies, undertook, at the instigation of General Prim, to compel their officers to join them in a revolutionary movement. As soon as the appointment of Hidalgo was announced, the artillery corps of the army, embracing several hundred officers of all grades, was induced to protest against the assignment of that officer to any duty in which he could exercise command over any portion of their arm of the service. I venture to call this a pretext, because, subsequent to the event of 1866, General Hidalgo held commands in Cuba and in Catalonia without objection from any quarter. Nevertheless, moved as is supposed by political influences with which they sympathized, and supported in their attitude by the “league,” through which a large sum of money had been raised for the maintenance of officers depending on their pay, the entire artillery corps of the army refused to serve under their commissions, tendered their resignations, and even those who were serving in front of the enemy demanded to be relieved from duty. Their resignations were accepted; sergeants were promoted to be company officers, and the superior grades filled by transfers from the engineers and infantry. The King was besought to undo these acts of the ministry, which were represented to have given profound dissatisfaction to the officers of the army.
His Majesty was told that the officers of the other corps would follow the example of the artillery, and that the army would be dissolved. Impressed with these considerations, the King seemed at one moment disposed to yield to the suggestions of those who deprecated the consequences apprehended, and it is believed that His Majesty contemplated calling conservative advisers to his councils. The ministers, anticipating trouble at the palace, adroitly submitted the matter to Congress, and having obtained the approbation of Parliament in their proceedings, presented to the King the decree for the dissolution of the artillery corps, under circumstances which left His Majes y no alternative but to sign it. On the following Saturday, as soon as the council of ministers held that day at the palace rose, the King requested the president, Mr. Zorrilla, to remain, and His Majesty then announced to the astonished minister his purpose to abdicate.
The republicans are indebted to their patience for their triumph. Resisting all inducements to precipitate action, the leaders diligently labored to spread their teaching and strengthen their organization. Meanwhile the drift of the radicals was inevitably toward the republic. And when the league of reactionary factions by their fierce onslaught welded all the liberal elements together in the memorable emancipation Tote on the 21st of December, the hours of Spanish monarchy were numbered. They “ fed the pinion that impelled the steel.” Thus united and re-enforced the republicans form, by far the most powerful party in this country, and will command a decisive majority in the Cortes Constituyentes.
The abdication of the King seems to have been heard with surprise in Rome, Paris, and London. In Washington you were not unprepared for the event. And although the King's resolution was suddenly and somewhat abruptly announced, it is obvious that public opinion in this country had foreseen not only the fall of the dynasty, but also the advent of a republican form of government. It can scarcely be doubted that a serious struggle is imminent between the reactionary and the progress. ive forces in this country. Although the contest may be long, bitter, and bloody, there are abundant reasons for the belief that, without for eign intervention, the victory will remain with the friends of religious and political liberty. Monarchy retains much of the strength that tradition imparts in this country to its ancient customs. The Roman Catholic Church contributes, through the influence of its clergy, a large share of the strength shown by Don Carlos, the most formidable pretender to the throne. This prince is said to be very deficient in the qualities that at. tract men to a royal standard. In all the civil wars that have been carried on in his name during the past four years in Spain, he has reinained at a safe distance on the French side of the frontier, appearing only once on a battle-field, that of Orevieta, in May last, from whence it was reported he led the retreat on a horse of great speed. For some three months afterward the whereabouts of His Majesty were unknown, but he has recently shown himself again on the French side of the frontier.
It has not escaped notice that the pretender and his supporters derive great advantage in being allowed to use the French Pyrenees as a base of operations for their inroads into Spain. Guerrilla parties and their officers, arms, and ammunition, military supplies of all sorts, pass the frontier into the Basque provinces, Aragon, and Catalonia. It is understood that the remonstrances which have been addressed by Spain to the French authorities on this subject have thus far proved ineffectual. The limited extent of the frontier, and the facility with which the few roads leading through the passes of the Pyrenees could be guarded, would seem to afford ample opportunity for the prevention of these operations if the French authorities were disposed to stop them.
You of course have not failed to observe the coldness with which the great European powers have treated the new government of Spain. This has naturally not been without its due effect here. It is understood that communications will be exchanged between Germany, Russia, and Austria on the subject before any action is taken, and their decision will doubtless be followed by England, France, and Italy. The territorial ambition attributed to a federal republic, the critical situation of Portugal, the provisional tenure of the present executive in Spain, and a due consideration for the sensibilities of the dynasty of Savoy, will suffice to enable the leading powers of Europe to delay recognition for some time. Our prompt action has done much to disarm the prejudices incited against us by the factions allied in the league, indicating as it does the disinterested friendship and sympathy of the United States shown toward a form of government best calculated to conciliate the elements in Cuba and Porto Rico heretofore hostile to Spanish domination.
The origin and character of the Spanish Republic furnished conclusive titles to recognition and respect. It was not proclaimed in the streets. It was not the doing of a mob. It was not ushered in with tumult, and disorder, and blood. It was the work of a deliberative assembly, legitimate representatives of the people, invested with constitutional power to substitute an executive authority for that which had