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every hostile means in their power. True it is that the Commerce of Nations is interrupted thereby, and humanity is afflicted; but the consequences will be imputable only to Spain, which, deaf to the voice of reason, and unwilling to yield to necessity, refuses to recognize the Independence of the New States which it even purposes again to subjugate. Colombia for its part is prepared to make known how vain such an attempt would prove, in which the last remains of the power of Spain would be fruitlessly exhausted.
In the course of the last year, Spain asseinbled, in the Island of Cuba, considerable Land and Maritime Forces, with which she threat. ened to act on the offensive, by invading some of the new Republicks. It seems that Colombia was to have received the first blow, had not a storm occasioned much destruction in the Spanish Fleet. The chief object of the greater part of the Troops now in Cuba and Puerto Rico, is probably to garrison those Islands and to defend them agaiust any invasion.
The cessation of the disturbances in Venezuela, and the re-establishment of order in the Republick, must have made a great impression upon the Spanish Councils. As they will have dissipated the hopes which the interior discord of Colombia excited, Spain will, perhaps, become more reasonable, and will not object to Peace as it has hitherto done. The restoration of tranquillity in the Interior will likewise contribute towards improving and extending our relations with friendly and neutral Powers.
Little has been effected in the relations between Colombia and the Pope, as Head of the Roman Church. Our Envoy Extraordinary was obliged, in 1824, to quit Rome, owing perhaps to the influence of the Spanish Minister: he remained some time at Florence, and, although he returned to the former City, we have no other than the general information that his situation begins to improve. It would seem that the Vicar of Jesus Christ feared to injure the interest of Spain by treating with the Governments of its former Colonies, and that the spiritual wants of more than 13,000,000 Catholicks, have been neglected for political views perfectly mundane. Government has on its part employed all possible means to define clearly the relations between the Christian Inhabitants of Colombia and the Roman See; and if the result has not been successful, that result must be imputed to the latter. A year ago, the Department under my direction, being persuaded that the result of the Mission to Rome would leave us in the same state of anomaly and indecision as before, forwarded, by order of the Vice. President, (who was invested with the Executive of the Republick,) a Communication to the Secretary for the Interior: it had for its object, to consult the Colombian Clergy upon the best steps which the Government could take, conformably to the Canons and Discipline of the Catholick Church, during the absence of communication with the Roman See, as to the reservations necessary, in respect of the confirmation of the Bishops and Archbishops, the better division of the Dioceses, and other similar oljects. The project was transmitted to the Colombian Legations in the various American Republicks, in order that they might communicate the same to the several Governments, for the purpnse of inducing them to join in establishing relations with the Apostolick See. Such a union would be of the highest importance, by inducing the Sa. preme Pontiff to interest himself, without further delay, in the arrangements required by the Churches of America, and by preventing unlar. ful concessions on the part of any of the New States. At the proper time, I shall communicate to Congress the information which may be necessary in respect of this matter, should it require further proceed. ings on the part of the Legislative Body.
All that the Pope has conceded to the Colombians has been the granting of a few Briefs of secularization to religious Establishments, and some other concessions of a spiritual kind. He has also appointed an Auxiliary Bishop to the Diocese of Merida, in consequence of a proposal from the Executive Power prior to the sanctioning of the Law respecting Church Patronage. The Supreme Pontiff offered to appoint another Auxiliary Bishop for Popayan, but the question would not be treated of by the Government, except with that Prelate. He likewise forwarded a Brief to the Metropolitan Chapter at Bogota, authorizing it to fill up the Vacancies within its jurisdiction. As the two last measures were not consistent with the Laws of the Republick, the Executive did not allow the Briefs to be expedited; but it will submit the same to the consideration of Congress.
The venerable Senate of Hamburgh declared, in July last, in consequence of the arrival of a Ship at that Port bearing the Colombian Flag, that cargoes belonging to the Citizens of Colombia should pay no other duties than those to which the Subjects of the most favoured Nations are liable, and to which the Citizens of Hamburgh are subject for National Vessels and cargoes. This declaration having been communicated to the Agent of that Senate in London, he has solicited that, in the Ports of the Republick, the same concessions should be made in favour of the Ships and cargoes from Hamburgh. I shall have the honour to submit the matter to the consideration of Congress for a corresponding resolution.
The President Liberator, being desirous to accelerate the happy epoch of the re-establishment of Publick Credit, has adopted a rigid economy in all the branches of Government, and, with regard to that under my charge, he has issued the Decree of the 230 November, which fixes the bounds within which it will be requisite, at present, to limit the expense of our exterior relations. I shall have the honour to present the same to Congress.
In the exposition which the Secretary for Foreign Affairs made to the Legislative Body, on the 2d January last year, the reforms were suggested which it was deemed suitable to make in the Provisional Ordi
nance for Privateers, in order to avoid causes of discord with friendly and neutral Powers. Not only are there grounds for adopting those reforms, but additional reclamations have since been made by Neutrals, as well on account of the seizure of Enemy's property on board their Ships, as for the excesses which have been attributed to some Privateers bearing the Colombian flag. The Executive, with great zeal, has endeavoured to correct every abuse which has been proved, and has done justice to those reclamations which have been well grounded. These causes of dispute with the friendly and neutral Powers, produce, however, obstacles to the exterior relations, which it would be advantageous to put an end to, by Congress taking into consideration the Regulations of the Provisional Ordinance respecting Privateers, the reform of which has been so strongly recommended by the Government.
The actual state of the exterior relations of Colombia, is very different from that in which they existed at the time of the publication of the Constitution. It may, indeed, be said, that at that time none existed. The Honourable Francisco Antonio Zea did, certainly, at that period reside in England, with power to assume the character of Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary for the Republick, near His Britannick Majesty, and other European Powers; but he was not recognised in a publick capacity by any one of them ; Colombia not having then been recognized by any Nation as an Independent State.
There existed only a Treaty for the Regulation of the War, which the glory, constancy, and valour of the President Liberator, and his worthy Companions in Arms, had wrung from the Spanish Chiefs at Costa Firma, and which was confirmed at Truxillo, on the 26th November, 1820. This Treaty which, in some degree, dried the tears which humanity had shed, during the barbarous and sanguinary War which, for 10 Years, the Spaniards had carried on in the Territory of the Republick, gave hopes that that Government would be milder in the sequel. Inspired with these hopes, the Liberator concluded, at the time of the Regulation of the War, an Armistice for 6 months, and sent the Signors Revenga and Echeverria to Spain, with Full Powers to act, if there were a possibility of procuring Peace, and the acknowledgment of our Independence by His Catholick Majesty. But it was very soon ascertained that the Spanish Government, potwithstanding the new Constitutional System, the liberal principles which had been proclaimed, and the assurances of the Chiefs in Costa Firma, was very far from granting Independence and Peace to any part of its former Colonies. The Arinistice was consequently broken, before the expiration of the time agreed upon. The Colombian Envoys had merely one unimportant Conserence with the Minister Bardaxi. Their resi. dence at Madrid was considered by the Spaniards to be dangerous to the publiek tranquillity, and, at the end of 3 months, they received their passports;- the Ministry having intimated to them, that they should lose no time in proceeding on their return, as their residence at Madrid was both useless, and, in certain respects, dangerous. Our Plenipotentiaries immediately left that Court and the Peninsula, all Negotiation being broken off. From that time, the Government of Colombia fixed its hopes of procuring Peace, and the acknowledgment of the Independence of the Republick, in the wisdom of its Institutions, its stability, the organization of the interior, the patriotism of its People, the good faith of its Government, and the valour and military talents of its illustrious Warriors. If these have been ineffectual with regard to Spain, they have not been so with respect to other Nations.
All that was done by the other Powers, during the Contest between Spain and her former Colonies, until 1821, was to observe a neutrality, more or less perfect, according to the interest of cach. At times the Enemy was more favoured than the Colombians, for which many pretexts were alleged. Our Ports were, notwithstanding, open to Foreign commerce, even to that of the Nations of which we had cause to complain, which did not admit of a just reciprocity, and excluded our Flag; which was, moreover, not admitted in any of the Neutral Ports. This prudent conduct, of acting with strict impartiality towards every Nation, and of respecting the rights of Nations, prescribed for the mutual intercourse of one State with another, had, in 1821, the happy effect of causing several Governments to turn their attention to the advantages which the commerce of Colombia might offer to their Subjects.
In 1821, Colombia had no relation with the American States of Mexico, Peru, Chili, and Buenos Ayres. There resided in the United States' of the North a Chargé d'Affaires, but he did not assume a publick character; and, notwithstanding the anxious desire manifested by the Citizens of that Republick for the success of their Brothers of the South, and the acquirement of their Independence, little or nothing had been advanced in our relations with the Goverment of North America, when the Constitution of Colombia was published. The infant state of our Republick, undoubtedly, prevented its being recognized by those who it is evident ought to be its best friends.
Such was the situation of the exterior relations of Colombia at the end of 1821. Let us now observe the progress which they have made since that epoch, and in the first Constitntional period.
The Constitution having been published, the care of the Government was first directed to the organization of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and to the formation of a system upon which the latter should proceed to regulate its important operations. It was, in effect, placed under the direction of the Honourable Secretary then employed in the Ministry, Señor Pedro Gual. It has since, only been requisite to follow the system then adopted, and the affairs have been carried on
with precision and regularity, and, for the most part, with a favourable result.
From the commencement of the Constitutional System, the Executive has observed, as an invariable rule for its conduct, a general good faith, and has conceded to no Nation that which could not be conceded to all; as was observed to the Congress by the Secretary of my Department in 1823. Adhering to these principles, the exterior relations of Colombia have been formed and augmented, as well with the American as with the European States.
One of the first objects of the Executive Power, at the time of entering upon its functions in 1821, was to extend and bind more closely the relations with those New States of America, with which Colombia had a com. munity of interests and principles. Various Missions were immediately sent to Mexico, Peru, Chili, and Buenos Ayres, for the purpose of realizing the splendid project conceived by the President Liberator, of an American Confederation, and a Congress at Papama. It was pro. posed as the basis of the new Federal System: Ist. That the American States should be allied and confederated perpetually, in Peace, and in War, guaranteeing to each other the integrity of their Territories. 2dly. That, in order to carry this guarantee into effect, they should conform to the uti possidetis of 1810, according to the demarkation of Territory of each Captaincy General, or Vice-regency, erected into a separate State. 3dly. That, with regard to personal rights, and the commerce, and navigation of each State, the Citizens or Subjects should indiscriminately enjoy, in respect of their Persons, property, and exterior or interior traffick, the same rights and privileges as the Natives, whether they resided temporarily or permanently in the Country. 4thly. That, to render perfect this Compact of Perpetual Alliance and Confederation, an Assembly should meet in Panamà, consisting of two Plenipotentiaries for each of the Contracting Parties, which should serve as a point of Union, in time of common danger, as a faithful Interpreter of their Publick Treaties, when difficulties might occur, and as a Judge Arbitrator and Conciliator in their disputes and differences. 5thly. That this Compact of Perpetual Alliance and Confederation, should not, in any manner, interrupt the exercise of the Sovereignty of each of the Contracting Parties, in its exterior relations with the other independent Nations of the Earth.
Upon these principles, the Ministers Plenipotentiary of Colombia negotiated Treaties of Union, League, and Confederation, with the Governments of Peru, Chili, Mexico, and Guatemala, which, with the previous approbation of Congress, were ratified by the Executive. They also concluded a Convention of Friendship and Alliance with the Go. vernment of the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata.
In consequence of the said Treaties, the First Session of the American Assembly took place last Year, in the City of Panamà, as bas been before stated.