Page images

printing establishment, by which means the early light of our freedom broke out among us. They were the first to accredit a diplomatic agent to our country, Consul Poinsett, who enlisted as a volunteer in our revolutionary army. They furnished General Carrera with a fleet worth over a million of dollars, though he landed on this soil a poor, proscribed, and unknown man. All their great

statesmen have been, ardent friends of South America.— Madison acknowledged our independence; Adams cooperated with Bolivar to lay down the basis of American Union at the Congress of Panama; Monroe raised up the protecting shield of his famous doctrine over both continents; and lately, the honest and immortal Abraham Lincoln, the rail-splitter, dispatched friendly messengers to each of the Spanish-American Republics to settle their old difficulties with the United States."

And further, let me add, that when the appalling martyrdom of this great magistrate reached my country, I saw many, many tears in my own home, and many, many pale and mournful faces everywhere, as a testimony of how pure and how sincere was our love for that new redeemer of mankind. For myself, I take the liberty of stating that I wrote a short biography of that eminent man, and moved in the House of Representatives a law, to be passed according to the following resolutions, which I copy from the Journal of Congress :

"Resolved, That the portraits of George Washington and of Abraham Lincoln, the first and last Presidents of the United States of America, be executed at the expense of the nation, and placed on the walls of the reception-room of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, as a tribute rendered by the Chilian people to those of the United States, on the occasion of the happy re-establishment of their internal peace, and as a remembrance of the sorrowful loss suffered in the death of their first magistrate.

"Resolved, That this resolution be inscribed, as an appropriate motto, at the foot of the aforesaid portraits, and that it be communicated by the Government of Chili to the President of the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States, as an expression of the sentiments of the Chilian Congress."

(Loud and prolonged cheers.)

Such were the feelings, the ideas, the sympathies of the two countries, so taking every one by surprise, and


the whole country unarmed. What will these feelings be in the future.? Gentlemen, that is a question which it does not belong to me to answer. There is a mighty people in this country, there is a Congress replenished from the whole intelligence and good and honest hearts of the land, there is a noble-minded President full of confidence in the will of his fellow-citizens, and it is for them to answer and to solve such a question.

But I observe that I have digressed a little from my original plan of showing you the present condition of Chili and its prospects for the future, and now I return again fully to my path.


Chili having won her independence, with the best blood of her sons, devoted herself to the fruitful labors of peace and industry; gave herself a constitution based on the general principles of self-government, with a President eligible every five years, with a House of Representatives returnable every three years, and a Senate of twenty members to be elected every seven years. Every community of twenty thousand inhabitants is entitled to return a member of the House, and the Senators are elected by provinces. The President governs, with a responsible Cabinet of four Secretaries and a Council of State, appointed from among the most distinguished persons in the community.

Chili is perhaps the country in the whole world least taxed, 90 cents being the average proportion of taxes among all classes of individuals; and yet those taxes are voted only every eighteen months by Congress.

The duties on foreign goods are high only in the articles of luxury, and free or slightly taxed when of general use. In a comparative statement of the duties paid in the Custom-houses of France, England, the United States, and Chili, made lately by the eminent French economist, Courselles de Seneuil, it is ascertained that the latter country is by far the more liberal. It is owing, probably, to this liberality that the Custom-house in Valparaiso produced in 1863 $4,259,533.

The administration of justice is organized very much on the same footing as that of the United States, with a Supreme Court at its head. There is, nevertheless, one

[ocr errors]

substantial difference-the Supreme Court of Chili has no political power whatever, and all the members of the judicial body are nominated by the President for life. In a particular branch of the administration of justice, Chili possesses, it seems to me, a great advantage.We have a general code of law framed on the plan of the Code Napoleon, and especial codes of commerce, mines, legal proceedings, and criminal law. All have been prepared in the last ten years by eminent lawyers of the country, and are of great service to the republic, as the law is put within the reach of the humblest citizen.

In its political administration, Chili has followed the principles of France, the country undoubtedly best governed as far as the official machinery of power works on the community. There is in existence a Board of Statistics, which issues a report on the progress of the country every year and makes up the general census of the republic every ten years. The last census was carried out all over the country on the 19th of last April, and it is believed, from the reports published, that the actual number of inhabitants will be approximatively two millions, the population doubling every forty years.


[ocr errors]

The laws of Chili are of the most liberal spirit towards foreigners, as many of the respectable gentlemen in this hall can testify by their own personal experience. They are permitted to do whatever the natives of the country have a right to do, and further, they are not burdened with any personal taxations or duties, even the most trivial. And to this circumstance, and to the similitude of climate, products, and cultivation with the nations of Europe, it is due that Chili offers such splendid prospects to emigrants of all races, except the degraded Asiatics, which have not been permitted to be introduced in the country by the new slaveholders of the Pacific, the importers of miserable colonies of Chinese, or the coolies of the Southern Ocean.

At the outbreak of the war with Spain, the Government was preparing the establishment of a Board of Emigration, on similar principles with those existing in this country, and had already devoted more than half a million of acres in the fertile province of Llanquihue for the set

tlement of foreign emigrants. There are living now in those regions in happy condition, more than two thousand Germans. According to the census of 1855, there were in Chili 6,600 Germans, 1,247 English, 1,196 French, only 769 Spaniards, and 571 citizens of the United States, about 20,100 foreigners in all. But in ten years this number has doubtless been doubled.

There is another consideration of importance connected with our population. There do not exist in Chili idle classes. All people are obliged to work to get their living, and they work hard indeed in the deep bottoms of the copper-mines of Atacama, in the northern extremity of the land, and in the inexhaustible coal-fields of Lota and Coronel, which by their extent and accessibility are not surpassed by any in England or France..


At the same time, the regular army of Chili is comparatively small, and is kept occupied (as was yours before the war) in protecting the frontiers against the invasion of the wild Araucanian Indians. But we possess, in fact, a national army of more than 80,000 men, both horse and foot, registered on our military roll, and which could take the field, as they have already done in some measure, at the first warning of the country's danger.


The benevolent institutions of the country are worthy of a particular study, as they exhibit the general disposition of the Chilians to practice the virtues of hospitality. To avoid, however, minute explanation on this subject, I should recommend you to read a chapter consecrated to this matter by Dr. Baxlay, a well-meaning traveler, who visited Chili two or three years ago, and has just published an interesting book on South America.


The public institutions that belong properly to the organization of self-government, work in Chili with as perfect ease as is exhibited so gloriously in this country. The rights of associations, the liberty of the press, the

[ocr errors]

irresponsibility of the opinions of the representatives of the country in Congress, the liberty of conscience, that last conquest of progress and justice, the trial by jury, the privilege of habeas corpus, and, in fact, all the modern liberties and franchises of democracy, are in full and active operation in our country.


I might as well add, apropos of the press, that although we have no papers so interesting as those of New-York, we nevertheless publish some of the largest and best edited journals of South America, and some as old as are printed on the Southern continent. The Valparaiso Mercury, and some interesting and active political papers as the Ferrocarril of Santiago, a magnificent journal kept up in the French style of publication.

This is, gentlemén, the general condition of the country at large, but there are yet three questions to which I request your patient attention for a few minutes, as they are the foundation of the actual civilization of nations; first, the public education of the people; second, the extent of the railroads, and third, the extent of its commerce and interchanges with the other countries of the world.


Chili has pursued a most steady course in educating its own people, knowing that therein consists the true support of democracy and self-government. Her Institute or University of Santiago, is considered the most important of South America, and more than a dozen learned European professors have been engaged for the purpose of spreading the knowledge of the highest branches of science. At an expense of more than $100,000 the Chilian Government maintains an Astronomical Observatory, the only one existing in the Southern hemisphere, and has consequently done great service to modern astronomy. There existed in 1862, the last epoch of the official statistics now in my power, 5,792 students of professional careers, most of them in the National Institute of Santiago, and in the provincial lyceums-every province having an institution of this kind for herself. In 1810, in the good old times of mother Spain, there existed only two public

« PreviousContinue »