H. M. (Henry Marie) Brackenridge.

Voyage to South America, performed by order of the American Government in the years 1817 and 1818, in the frigate Congress (Volume v.1) online

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coerced. Their unhappy state with the Orientals, had also an in-
fluence on their measures ; they alleged, that the restless conduct
of Artigas, had furnished the Portuguese with a pretext for the
invasion ; but it is probable that they will ultimately break with
the government of Brazils.

The British government have, through their official agents,
entered into commercial stipulations with general Artigas, as
the chief of the Orientals, on the subject of their trade with the
eastern shore. A copy of this instrument will be found in
Appendix (K.)

The government of Buenos Ayres have a confidential person in
Europe, soliciting from England, and other powers, it is said, as-
sistance of every kind , and a recognition of their independence.
England has a consul, who, with her naval commander on that
station, appeared to conduct the confidential affairs of the British
cabinet, with the government of Buenos Ayres.

What effects the victory of Maipu will produce abroad, it would
be hazardous to me to conjecture. Whether like the capture of
Burgoyne, it will procure for the United Provinces, foreign alli-
ances, I cannot pretend to say.

From a source which is entitled to credit, I was informed that
the raising and embarkation of Osorio's army in Peru, was not ac-
complished without serious difficulties. Alternate force and per-
suasion were used to collect them, and nothing but the name,
character, and promises of their general, could have induced them
to go on board of the vessels prepared for the purpose, at the port
ofCallao. Some of them were actually in a state of mutiny, not-
withstanding they were told they would be received with open
arms by their brethren in Chili.
' The forces finally embarked, agreeably to an account furnished


by a gentleman of undoubted veracity, on the spot, consisted of
the following troops :

CompaHy of artillery - - - - 70

Company of sappers and miners - - - - 81

Regiment of Bruges ._ - -_. 900

Regiment of San Carlos infantry - - - - 907

Regiment of Arequipa - - 1000

Arequipa dragoons - - - - 160

Lamas - - 144


This army was composed of all the regular soldiers they could
spare from Lima, who were united at Talcaguna, to the ro\al
forces left in Chili. By the battle of Maipu, it has ceased to
exist. The probable effects in Peru, and other parts of South
America, may be conjectured, but cannot be atfirmed. The
same gentleman who has been mentioned, and who is conversant
in Peruvian affairs, apprehended that important changes would

I cannot conclude this paper, without drawing your attention to
a rapid survey of the reforms and improvements in the province of
Buenos Ayres, produced by the revolution and its influence on
knowledge, society, and manners.

The effects of the revolution are visible in the changes produced
in the state of society. The difference in the freedom of acting
and thinking, from that which preceded the revolution, must neces-
sarily be great. The freedom of commerce must have given a
spring to exertions of native enterprise and intelligence, while the
active scenes of war and politics, for the last ten years, have
awakened the genius of the country, which had so long slumbered.
The generation now on the stage, may almost be said to have been
reared under a new order of things. The common stock of ideas
among the people, has been greatly augmented, the natural conse-
quence of the important political events which daily transpire, and
in which every man, like the citizen of Athens, feels an interest.
The newspapers are every where circulated, together with the ma-



nifestoes of the government, which is obliged to court the appro-
bation of public opinion, on all measures of moment. It is not very
unusual for the same countryman, who, a few years ago, never
troubled himself about any thing beyond the narrow circle of his
domestic concerns, to purchase a newspaper on coming to town,
as a matter of course, and if unable to read, to request the first
one he meets to do him that favour. The country curates are more-
over enjoined to read the newspapers and manifestoes, regularly
to their flocks. The spirit of improvement may be seen in every
thing. Even some of those who are under the influence of strong
prejudices against the revolution, frequently remark the changes
for better, which have taken place. Their habits, manners, dress,
and mode of living, have been improved by intercourse with stran-
gers, and the free introduction of foreign customs, particularly
English, American, and French. Great prejudices prevail agaiust
whatever is Spanish. It is even offensive to them, to be called by
this name; they prefer to be identified with the aborigines of the
country. The appellation which they have assumed, and in which
they take a pride, is that of South Americans.

A powerful stimulus must necessarily have been given to their
industry, by two important circumstances : the diminution in prices
of foreign merchandise, and the great increase in value of th«
products of the country, with the consequent rise of property.
Though the grounds in the neighbourhood of cities are highly im-
proved, as I have already stated, agriculture, comparatively speak-
ing, is in a low condition. In general, the lands are badly tilled
The plough is rarely used, and the substitute is a very indifferent
one. But notwithstanding the disadvantages of the present me-
thod of culture, I was informed by reputable persons, that the
average crop of wheat is not less than fifty bushels per acre, in
good seasons.

On the subject of religion, especially, the change in the public
mind, has been very great. The Catholic faith is established as
that of the state, but there are many advocates, both in conversa-
tion and in writing, of universal toleration. Some members of
congress, are said to be strongly in favour of it ; but the ignorant
and superstitious part of the people, together with the regular clergy.


would not be satisfied with such a measure, while the liberality
prevailing among the better informed classes, is such, as to secure
a virtual toleration for the present. Besides, from the circum-
stance of there being no sects in the country, such a provision may
wait the progress of liberality in public opinion. In fact, the hu-
man mind has been set free, on all matters of a general abstract
nature, although the liberty of the press is circumscribed, in some
degree, with respect to strictures on public measures and men,
and the established religion ; bat there is neither inquisition nor
previous license. They acknowledge the pope as a spiritual head
merely, and do not think him entitled to any authority to interfere
in their temporal concerns. His bull in favour of the king of
Spain, against the colonists, which may be almost regarded as an
excommunication, produced little or no sensation.

The number of monks and nuns, never was very great in
Buenos Ayres, when compared with other portions of the Spanish
dominions. They have diminished since the revolution. There was
at one time, a positive law passed, forbidding any one to become a
monk or a nun ; but they were obliged to repeal it, and it was
afterwards passed with some modifications. The restrictions sub-
stituted, aided by public opinion, have nearly produced the desired
effect. Few of the youth of the country, apply themselves to the
study of theology, since other occupations much more tempting to
their ambition, have been opened to their choice. Formerly, the
priesthood was the chief aim of young men of the best families,
who were desirous of distinction; as in fact, it constituted almost
the only profession to which those who had received a liberal edu-
cation, could devote themselves ; which will readily account for
the circumstance of so many of the secular clergy directing their
attention, at present, exclusively to politics. The regular clergy,
who are permitted by the nature of their profession, to take part in
the business of the world, or to hold secular offices, are many of
them Europeans; but those of them who are natives, take the
same lively interest in passing events, with the other classes of the

They have gone cautiously to work in reforms, in the different
branches of their municipal laws, and the administration of them


The number of offices has been considerably diminished, and re-
sponsibility rendered more direct and severe. The judiciary sys-
tem has undergone many improvements, and nearly all the leading
features of the law, which did not harmonise with the principles of
free government, have been expunged, though some of the former
evils still remain. The barbarous impositions on the aborigines,
have been abolished. The odious alcavalla, and other obnoxious
taxes, modified, so as no longer to be vexatious; slavery and the
slave trade forbidden in future; and all titles of nobility prohi-
bited, under the pain of the loss of citizenship. The law of primo-
gentiture is also expunged from their system. In the provisional
statute, as has been stated, nearly all the principles of free repre-
sentative government are recognised, accompanied it is true, with
certain drawbacks, for which they plead the necessity of the times,
but which, they profess their intention to do away, on the final
settlement of the government; a consummation anxiously desired
by all classes of inhabitants. The example of France has warned
them not to attempt too much at first ; they have followed the plan
of the United States, in the introduction of gradual reforms,
instead of resorting to violent and sudden innovations and revo-

Next to the establishment of their independence by arms, the
education of their youth appears to be the subject of the most
anxious interest. They complain, that every possible impediment
was thrown in the way of education, previous to the revolution ;
that so far from fostering public institutions for this purpose, se-
veral schools were actually prohibited in the capital, and the young
men were not without restraint, permitted to go abroad for their
education. There was a college at Cordova, at which those
destined for the bar, or the priesthood, completed their studies, upon
the ancient monkish principles. Another called San Carlos, (now
the Union of the South,) had been opened at Buenos Ayres, but
was afterwards converted into barracks for soldiers. It is an im-
mense building, more extensive, perhaps, than any which has been
dedicated to learning in this country ; and it has lately been fitted
up at very great expense. The school was to have opened in May
or June, on a more modern and liberal plan, of discipline and in-


struction. The library of the state, is kept in an adjoining build-
ing ; it occupies a suit of six rooms, and contains near twenty
thousand volumes, the greater part rare and valuable. It is
formed out of the library of the Jesuits, the books collected
in the different monasteries, donations from individuals, and an
annual appropriation by the government, and contains works on
all subjects, and in all the languages of the polished nations of
Europe. A very valuable addition has been lately made, of
several thousand volumes, brought to Buenos Ayres by Mr. Bon-
pland, the companion of the celebrated Humboldt.

Besides the university of Cordova, at which there are about one
hundred and fifty students, there are public schools in all the prin-
cipal towns, supported by their respective corporations. In
Buenos Ayres, besides an academy, in which are taught the higher
branches, and the college before mentioned, there are eight public
schools, for whose support, the corporation contributes about seven
thousand dollars annually ; and, according to the returns of last
year, the number of scholars amounted to eight hundred and sixty-
four. There are five other schools, exclusively for the benefit of
the poor, and under the charge of the different monasteries; these
are supplied with books and stationery at the public expense.
There are also parish schools in the country, for the support of
which, a portion of the tithes has been lately set apart. It is rare
to meet with a boy, ten or twelve years of age, in the city of
Buenos Ayres, who cannot read and write. Besides the scholars
thus instructed, many have private tutors. In addition to all this,
I must not omit to mention the military academies supported by
government at Buenos Ayres and Tucuman, at which there are a
considerable number of cadets.

There are no prohibited books of any kind ; all are permitted to
circulate freely, or to be openly sold in the book stores ; among
them is the New Testament in Spanish. This alone, is a prodigious
step towards the emancipation of their minds from prejudices.
There are several book stores, whose profits have rapidly increased :
a proof that the number of readers has augmented in the same
proportion. There had been a large importation of English books,
a language becoming daily more familiar to them. Eight years


ago, the mechanic art of printing was scarcely known in Buenos
Ayres : at present, there are three printing offices, one of them
is very extensive, containing four presses. The price of printing
is, notwithstanding, at least three times higher than in the United
States; but as there is no trade, or intercourse with Spain, all
school books used in the country, some of them origmal, are pub-
lished at Buenos Ayres ; the business is, therefore, profitable, and
rapidly extending. There are many political essays, which, in-
stead of being inserted in the newspapers, are published in loose
sheets ; there are also original pamphlets, as well as republications
of foreign works. The constitution of the United States, and of
the different states, together with a very good history of our country,
and many of our most important state papers, are widely circulated.
The work of Dean Funes, the venerable historian of the country,
comprised in three large octavo volumes, considering the infancy
of the typographic art in this part of the world, may be regarded
as an undertaking of some magnitude.

There are three weekly journals, or newspapers, published in
the city, which have an extensive circulation through the United
Provinces. They all advocate the principles of liberty and repub-
lican forms of government, as none other would suit the public
taste. The year before last, it is true, one of the papers ventured
to advocate the restoration of the Incas of Peru, with a limited
monarchy, but it was badly received. No proposition for the
restoration of hereditary power of any kind, as far as I could learn,
will be seriously listened to for a moment by the people. Even
the ordinary language has changed. They speak of " the state,"
" the people," " the public," <• the country," and use other terms,
as in the United States, implying the interest that each man takes in
what appertains to the community. The first principle constantly
inculcated is, '* that all power rightfully emanates from the people."
This, and similar dogmas, forma part of the education of children,
taught at the same time with their catechism. It is natural, that
the passion for free government, should be continually increasing.
A fact may be mentioned, to shew the solid advancement they have
made, which is, that the number of votes taken at their elections,
increases every year. In becoming habituated to this peaceful and


orderly mode of exercising Iheir right of choosing those who are
to be invested with authority, the tumultuous and irregular re-
moval, by a kind of general acclamation of those who have been
chosen, will gradually cease.

Rather than disturb the order of society, they will endure with
patience, until the time arrives, for effecting a regular and consti-
tutional change. Since the election of the present director, none
of these tumults, before so frequent, have occurred. These tumults
have seldom been attended with blood-shed ; yet they produce
great confusion and disorder, and give rise to habits of insubor-
dination, at the same time that they are ruinous to the character of
a nation.

The viceroyalty of Buenos Ayres differed from the rest in one
important particular. It contained no nobility, or if any, very
few. This may be regarded as a favourable circumstance in their
society. Another favourable feature, very necessary to the success-
ful administration of their affairs, is the conduct of many indi-
viduals who have filled the highest office of state, in descending
from that dignified situation to inferior posts, and discharging their
duties with alacrity. Thus we behold General A. Balcarce, who
was formerly director, acting as second in command to Colonel
San Martin ; Colonel Alvarez, also a director at one period, now
serving in the staff, under the chief of that department ; General
Azcuenega and General Rondeau, once elected to the chair of
state, is at present employed in a minor office. There are others
who have occupied the same elevated post, who have retired to the
station of private citizens.

The general capacities of the United Provinces for national de-
fence, are also important in many respects. The nature and ex-
tent of the country afford the inhabitants numerous advantages
over an invading army. The ease with which their herds of cattle
may be driven to distant places, beyond the reach of an enemy, and
the rapid movements the troops of the country can make, from the
ample supply of horses and mules, are circumstances of great con-
sequence in a military view. Even the towns not fortified, from
the manner in which they are built, and from the construction of
their houses, furnish powerful means of defence, as the Biilish


army, under General Whitelock, experienced in their attack on
Buenos Ayres.

I am sensible that, in the course of these statements and re-
marks, some inaccuracies and errors must have occurred, but they
have been unintentional. I have only to add, that the reception
of the commissioners at Buenos Ayres, by the chief magistrate,
vyas friendly and flattering. From every class, they met with a
cordial welcome. The people, in general, appeared to be very
much attached to the American character, and the government
and citizens of the United States.

Should any thing further occur, it shall be made the subject of
a future paper.

1 have the honor to be.
With great respect.

Your most obedient servant,
(Signed) C. A. RODNEY.

Mr. Graham to the Secretary of State.

Washington, 5th Nov. 1818.

Mr. Rodney having undertaken to draw up, for our joint
signature, a report respecting the present situation of the country
we recently visited under the orders of the president, and circum-
stances having prevented him from presenting it to me for perusal
until his late arrival in this city, I was not aware until then, that I
should have occasion to present to you my individual views on
that subject. But on an attentive perusal of the paper he drew
up, 1 found, that although there was not perhaps any important
fact on which we essentially differed, yet that some were stated of
which 1 was not aware ; and that we had taken views which it
might be difficult to combine during the short time then allowed
to us, and of which it might be proper that you should be put in
possession. Uader these circumstances, I thought it better to
submit to the disadvantage of hastily throwing my observations
together, and of presenting thera separately, than to ask him to


derange the general tenor of bis report by introducing them
into it.

The arrival of Mr. Bland, who will necessarily make a sepa-
rate report, will, I trust, reconcile the president to the course I
have taken, as from a combined view of what we individually
state, he may, perhaps, be better enabled to draw his own infer-
ences as to the actual situation and future prospects of the coun-
try we visited, than from any just report in which we could all
have agreed, as under ordinary circumstances, that must have
been the result of a compromise of opinions, and would probably
have excluded some facts, or some views, which, one or the other
of us, will, in the mode now adopted, present to you.

In my particular situation, however, I thought it less necessary
to go into detail, as I knew that the report of Mr. Rodney would
furnish information on points which I omit.
With great respect,

I have the honor to be, sir.

Your most obedient servant,


Hon, John Q. Adams, Secretary of State,

The country formerly known as- the viceroyalty of Buenos
Ayres, extending from the north western sources of the river La
Plata to the southern cape of America, and from the confines of
Brazil and the ocean, to the ridge of the Andes, may be consi-
dered as that which is called " The United Provinces of South
America." •>! ■»/.»

: Under the royal government, it was divided into the intend en-
cies, or provinces, of Buenos Ayres, Paraguay, Cordova, Salta,
Potosi, Plata, Cochabamba, La Paz, and Puno. Subsequently to
the revolution, in the year 1814, another division was made ; and
from the provinces of Cordova, Salta, and Buenos Ayres, were
taken those of Cuyo or Mendoza, Tucuman, Corrientes, Entre
Rios, and the Banda Oriental. The others, it is believed, retained
their former boundaries, and, with the exception of Paraguay, are
generally called " Upper Peru,'' r^-


This widely extended country embraces almost every variety of
climate and soil, and is capable of almost every variety of pro-
duction. A large part of it, however, particularly on the west
side of the river La Plata, and southerly towards cape Horn, is
deficient in wood, even for fuel ; and in water, that which is found
is generally brackish.

Although three centuries have passed by since the Spaniards
made their first settlement in this country, and some considerable
towns and cities have grown in it ; yet its general improvement
and population have by no means kept pace with them, for the
lower provinces have been almost entirely abandoned to the im-
mense herds of cattle which graze on their plains, and require
only the partial care of a comparatively few herdsmen ; and tlie
inhabitants of Upper Peru have been engaged more generally in
the business of mining than was fevorable to improvement or
population. Certain small districts, having peculiar advantages,
are said to be well cultivated, and very productive ; but agricul-
ture has, in general, been very much neglected. It is, in a great
degree, confined to the vicinity of the towns and cities, and may
be said to limit its supplies to their demands. This state of things,
combined with the regulations of the former government, the
influence of climate, and the force of example, has stamped the
character of indolence upon that class of society usually consi-
dered as the laboring class. The same causes have not operated,
at least, not with the same force, upon the other inhabitants of
the country ; hence, they are more industrious, and more active.
Their manners are social, friendly, and polite. In native talents
they are said to be inferior to no people ; and they have given
proofs that they are capable of great and persevering efforts ; that
they are ardently attached to their country, and warmly enlisted
in the cause of its independence.

It is not necessary for me to enter into a detail of the causes
which led to the revolution in 1810. The most immediate, per-
haps, are to be found in the incidents connected with the two in-
vasions of the country by the British, in the years 1806 and 1806,
and in the subsequent events in Spain, as they have had a direct
tendency to show these people their own strength and the inca-


pacity of Spain to give them protection, or enforce obedience.
The groundwork was, however, laid in the jealous and oppressive
system adopted at a more early period by the kings of Spain,
whose policy it seemed to be, to keep within as narrow limits as
circumstances would permit, the intelligence, wealth, and popu-
lation of that part of America subject to their dominion, as the
surest means of preserving an empire, which they considered the
great source of their wealth and power.

The revolution having been auspiciously commenced in the city
of Buenos Ayres, was warmly and zealously supported by the
great mass of the people descended from the Spaniards ; but the
native Spaniards, as well those domesticated in the country, as

Online LibraryH. M. (Henry Marie) BrackenridgeVoyage to South America, performed by order of the American Government in the years 1817 and 1818, in the frigate Congress (Volume v.1) → online text (page 28 of 29)