Page images

a great expenditure of time and money; the latter of which the National Finances cannot at present spare; and, with respect to the foriner, one Year is not sufficient to gather the fruits of many Years perseverance. The Province of Pasto is completely tranquillized, and its Inhabitants, after promptly and willingly seconding the active efforts of its Governor, now dedicate themselves to repair, by industry, the calamities of war.

The penury of the National Treasury has continued to harass the Government in an unspeakable degree. The moral force of the Laws, and of the Government, being relaxed, and the Laws relating to Taxes being evaded, the Treasury receives no money, whilst daily demands are made upon the Executive, from the Army, from Creditors, and from the whole Administration. The hopes that were formed that the new system of Finance, adopted at the last Congress, would have augmented the produce of the Revenue, at least till it equalled the publick expenses, have been disappointed, owing to the political agitation to which I have referred. The moment a City conceives itself justified, in rising and declaring that the Constitution, the Laws, or the Administration, are prejudicial to the common good, every Tax-payer seizes the opportunity of strengthening any inclination he may have, to infringe the Laws which regulate the Publick Revenue. You will see and examine the Provisional Regulations upon this subject, which have been made, in virtue of the powers granted by the 128th Article of the Code; the Documents relating to which will be presented to you. To urge upon Congress the attention and preference which ought to be given to the National Finance, is to repeat a truth, sufficiently notorious, and of which experience has already taught ns much. Money, as you will have heard from another Authority, is, to the body politick, what blood is to the natural body; without it the State cannot exist, and, in order to form a National Treasury, it is necessary that the Citizens should contribute a part of their means. The direction of Publick Credit has been opportunely settled, but whilst the Law which establishes the Foreign and Domestick Debt, and the continued zeal of the Committee in the discharge of their duties, have imparted a buoyancy to the National spirit, and created hopes in our Creditors, the changes which the political system has undergone, have impeded the operation of the Law; and it has not met with that exact observance which it would have had in peaceful times, under the sway of the Constitution. Thus it is, that, not having been enabled to discharge the interest of the Foreign Debt, due in July and December of the Jast Year, the Publick Credit has been prejudiced to a very great extent. The Revenue from the Post-office and the Mint, has increased, and promises considerable further improvement, owing to the intelligence, zeal, and activity, of the Directors of those Establishments.

I have ordered all the Documents and Papers to be collected, relative to the Loan of 1824, which will shew the manifest advantage of that transaction-the amount remitted to the Republick-its distribution-and the application of the funds reserved in London, according to the Contract—in order that the general Account may be made out in the clearest and most intelligible manner, and that it may be presented to you for the information of the Nation. Notwithstanding the Declarations and Decrees published by the last Congress, ignorance and perversity have combined to reproach the Government, on account of this transaction. The ignorant think, that after having, for more than 2 Years, employed the funds derived from the Loan, in various heavy expenses, of which the Congress is aware, and which have been made publick, the Treasury is still supplied with money, which may be continually employed to defray the National expenditure, and thus avoid the imposition of taxes. The perverse, turning their attention from the Accounts presented to the Publick, and from the Laws, which have appropriated to different services the proceeds of that Loan, invent charges and suggest doubts, which they continually repeat, always casting blame upon the Government. It is necessary that the Congress should take this into its serious consideration, in order that, by its deliberations, it may, in some measure, restrain the disposition to calumniate the Government, which more than ever prevails, in consequence of the late commotions in Venezuela.

Peru has not been able to repay any part of the debt it has contracted with us; but, if its conduct is to correspond with the promises made by the Government of that Country respecting this matter, I trust that the payments to be made will cover the interest of the Foreign Debt for 2 Years, and that the Colombian People will receive further relief, from the money which remains due, on account of the Loan for 20,000,000 dollars, which the failure of the House of Goldschmidt has hitherto prevented us from receiving.

The state of peace in the interior, and military operations against the common Enemy having been unnecessary, the Army bas had no other occupation than that of guarding the Frontier Departments, and completing the pacification of Pasto. Prepared still to defend the Independence of the Country, with the heroism which 15 Years of War have exhibited, the Government and the Republick have remained in security, amidst the hostile preparations with which the Enemy's Government has menaced them. During the internal disturbances, a great part of the Army obeyed the Law, which prohibits it from being a deliberative Body: it has shewn itself a worthy defender of the National Liberties and the Constitution; it has supported the measures of Go vernment, and re-animated the hopes and confidence of the Citizens. This conduct has preserved the honour and glory of the Liberating Army of Colombia, without a stain. A body of Colombian Troops remains in Peru; the rest of the Army has passed into Bolivia, in consequence of a Decree of the last Congress. Both bodies act with the honour and discipline becoming a Republican Army. I request, for the fourth time, that the Congress will pass a Law, settling the mode in which invalid Soldiers may be allowed to retire from the service, the pensions they are to enjoy, and the other privileges to which, in strict justice, they are entitled. In like manner, I request them to pass a Law, extending some relief to the Families of those who may have died, or who may die, fighting, or in any manner losing their lives, in the service of the Country.

The Naval force will receive such an increase as the state of our Publick Finances will allow, in order to enable it to put to Sea, to join the Mexican Squadron, and to act in conjunction with it, agreeably to the Convention concluded between this Government and the Mexican Republick. Our efforts were tardy in equipping the Squadron assembled at Carthagena, for it was not possible, either quickly to collect the Crews, or to provide the pecuniary means necessary for that purpose; but we shall, at length, enjoy the interesting object proposed by the Convention to which I have alluded. The interruption which those preparations suffered, by the above-mentioned causes, as well as by a failure in the fulfilment of a contract made for Transport Vessels, gave rise to the Resolution adopted by the Liberator President, in his Decree of the 24th November, which will likewise be laid before


your consideration. The education of Youth in the Nautical Schools con. tinues to receive every possible attention; the Directors and Masters have fulfilled their duty, and have not disappointed the confidence of the Government aud the Publick.

This, Senores, is the state of the Administration in the calamitous Year of 1826. The Secretaries of State will unfold, in their respective Memorials, the situation of the affairs committed to their charge, and will afford to Congress that information which is to be acquired only by experience in the practice of Government.

This would be the place to present you with a comparison between the Republick of Colombia, as it existed in 1821, when I took charge of the Administration, and in 1826, wlien my functions terminate : and this would seem the more necessary, because you are about to commence your duties, in the midst of profound affliction, at the state of agitation in which we are involved, and are, perhaps, influenced by the accusations brought against me by the discontented. But I leave to a sound and impartial publick opinion, the strict examinatiou of the good or evil which I may, personally, have caused the Nation, during the 5 Years and 3 months that I have occupied the Post I am now about to quit. It is publickly known, that I was called to the Government without any wish on my part, and that my inexperience was well understood. My constant attention to the difficult duties of my Office have been

It is equally well known, that, instead of assuming a direction and command, my sole study was, to execute the Fundamental Law, and the Constitution and Laws—that I have not only filled the office of Executor of the Law, but, frequently, that of Legislator, by the delegation of Congress-that I have been constantly obedient to the recorded will of the People--have never deviated from the Republican systemand have used, with prudence, the extraordinary powers confided to me: in one word, Colombia, must acknowledge that no Citizen has feared the power placed in my hands; for I have deprived no one, either of his liberty or property, and the Republick has enjoyed its entire freedom. I cannot express all the bitter feelings of my heart, at seeing Colombia divided, and falling from the eminent station which it occupied in the moral and political World. My blood would be too small a sacrifice, in order to see it again in the same flourishing state at which it had arrived before the 30th of April. You, who have the power of Legislating, and enjoy the confidence of your Constituents, are called upon to wipe away the tears of your Country, to heal its wounds, to re-establish National concord, and to preserve the honour, glory, and reputation of the Republick. But for this, and the assurance that you will efficaciously co-operate with the Liberator President, in objects so interesting, our grief would have no end, and the name of Colombia, which has been our best title to the esteem and admiration of the civilized World, would become a memorial of our shame and degradation. With respect to myself, I have nothing to regret, except that I did not separate myself from the Administration during the last Session of Congress, as I had intended to do, and that I concurred with the Legislative Body in burthening the Nation with the debt of 20,000,000 of dollars, incurred by the last Loan, to which we were driven by circumstances, so imperious and urgent, that it was impossible to be avoided. I believe however, that I have done nothing which can dishonour me in the eyes of an impartial World. If I had found the Republick, in 1821, free from the common Enemy, and had now to leave it, in part or entirely occopied by him-if I had found it, under the happy influence of the Constitution, of harmony, and of obedience to the Laws, and had to leave it in anarchy, with no other Law than the caprice of the Magistratesif I had found it in possession of Schools and Colleges, and enlightened, and had to leave it plunged in ignorance, with every Establishment of learning destroyed-if I had found it regenerated, and free from vulgar prejudices, and had to leave it in the most debased state of blindness and torpor-if I had found it fully peopled, and traversed by excellent roads, and with steam-boats, and containing charitable Establishments, and had to leave it depopulated, without roads, and in a state of nature -if I had found it recognized by all other Nations, or by some of them, and had to leave it without Foreign relations, and treated as a rebel Country—if I had found it allied with the other American States, and had to leave it at War with them-if all those States had been independent from the Year 1821, so as to render it unnecessary to extend a friendly and generous hand to them, and I had to leave some of them sighing in slavery, by the fault of my government—if the Publick Revenue had been perfectly organized, and had produced sufficient to defray the Publick Expenses, and I had to leave it ruined under my superintendence-if, instead of the Foreign and Domestick Debt, created by 11 Years of War, which I received instead of a Treasury, I had found the Republick without obligations of any sort, and had to leave it compromised and overwhelmed with the weight of an immense debt, wasting in decay under injurious engagernents—then, and then only, I should have to seek an asylum, wherein to hide my shame, and my heart would fail me in imploring the pardon of my Fellow-Citizens. But, thanks to the Providence which has watched over the destinies of Colombia, the Republick in 1826 differs widely from what it was in 1821, and, without attributing to myself the merit of that difference, I may console myself with the reflection that, in illiug the first Post in Colombia, I have not been an obstacle to the accomplishment of so much good. The gratification of having avoided a Civil War in the present disturbed state of the Country, and the honour of having been the first to whom the Representatives of the Colombian People confided the difficult task of establishing the Constitution—twice associating me with Bolivar in the Supreme Magistracy-would, under any circumstances, have entitled me to publick esteem, had I even performed no services to my Countrymen, during the 16 Years of our glorious regeneration.


FRANCISCO DE PAULA SANTANDER. Bogota, 20 January, 1827.

MESSAGE of the Vice-President, on the opening of the

Congress of Colombia. 12th May, 1827. (Translation.) Fellow CITIZENS OF THE SENATE AND CHAMBER OF REPRESENTATIVES,

The 5th Session of the Congress of the Republick was to have been opened on the 2nd of January, of the present year, and on the same day my functions as Vice-President of Colombia were to have ceased :the Law had regulated both the one and the other. For that reason I had prepared and printed the ordinary Message of the Executive Power, previous to the 2nd of January. Very peculiar circumstances, which did not come within the sphere of my controul, have interfered to prevent the assembling of the Legislative Body by the presence of all good Patriots, until now, when, fortunately, the Nation is worthily and constitutionally represented in Congress. Great and important are the objects which you have to investigate; great and well-founded are the hopes of our Constituents and those of the Government.

In the Message of the 2d January, I communicated information respecting the state of the Republick in all its branches I have now to inform you of the events which have occurred since that period.

My continuance in the exercise of the Government has been owing chiefly to two circumstances—first, because the Liberator, President, thought it expedient, in the agitated state of the Republick, to suspend the Law which fixed the cessation of the functions of the President and

« PreviousContinue »