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.2) online

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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.2) → online text (page 25 of 25)
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insensate fury ? Of a king, who has no other rewards but chains
and gibbets, for the immense sacrifices of his Spanish subjects in
releasing him from captivity 1 — subjects, who, at the expence of
their blood, and of every privation, have redeemed him from a
prison, in order to bind his temples with a crown ! If those men,
to whom he owed so much, thus received death, were doomed to
perpetual imprisonment, or to base slavery, for no other crime than
that of having framed a constitution, what might we not expect to
be reserved for us ? The hope for a benign treatment from him,
and from his bloody ministers, would have been to seek among
tigers for the mildness of the dove.

Then, indeed, would have been repeated towards us the ensan-
guined scenes of Caraccas, Carthagena, Quito, and Santa Fee ; we
should then have spurned the ashes of the eighty thousand persons
who have fallen victims to the fury of the enemy, and whose illus-
trious manes with justice call for revenge, and we should have

.11 .Jv*V


merited the execrations of every lucceeding generation, condemned
to serve a master always disposed to ill-treat them, and who by
his nullity on the sea has become too impotent to protect them
from foreign invasion.

We, therefore, thus impelled by the Spaniards, and their king,
having declared ourselves independent, and in self-defence against
tyranny, have staked our honours, our lives, and our fortunes.
We have sworn before the Supreme Judge of the Universe, that
we will never renounce the cause of justice; that we will not per-
mit the country which he gave us, to be buried beneath ruins, and
submerged in blood by the hands of executioners ; that we shall
never foiget the obligations that we owe to save her from the dan-
gers which threaten her, nor the sacred right to require of us all
necessary sacrifices to prevent her from being soiled by the fou \
footsteps of tyrants and usurpers. This declaration is engraved
on our hearts, that we may never cease to combat in her cause.
And at the same time that we unfold to the world the motives that
have impelled to this step, we have the honour to make known our
desire of living in peace with all, and even with Spain herself from
the moment she thinks proper to accept our offer.

Given at the Congressional Hall in Buenos Ayres, 25th
of October, 1816.

Dn> Pedros Ignacio de Castro y Banos,

Jose Eugmio de Elias,


X ii






Mnim iirolJinrr^ of SoutJ ^mniu,


THE evils which had in succession since the year 1810, occa-
sioned our calamities and retarded the progress of our sacred
cause, appear to have all conspired to assail us at the same mo-
ment, threatening to reduce our political existence to its last
agonies, towards the close of 1815. The few remaining forces
which we had saved from the unhappy field of Sipesipe, seemed
to be on the point of dissolution. The army which had been
organized in the province of Cuyo, for the purpose of marching
upon Chili, beheld itself insecure, even in its entrenchments. The
enemy, proud of his victories, had already laid his plans to en-
trammel the inhabitants of those districts, who were distracted by
opposite councils, and who dared not indulge a hope that,
through our means, they might be shielded from the impending
dangers. The national treasury was not only inadequate to the
satisfaction of the demands upon it, but even to provide for the
most urgent wants. The public spirit of the different provinces,
had lost sight of the common danger, and occupied itself exclu-
sively, in the visionary project of seeking liberty, in the dissolution
of every tie. Discord had taken possession of all hearts, expelling
every generous and honourable sentiment. The citizens of the
same land displayed their valour only in mutual destruction or
distrust; assailing their best friends and benefa«tors. Subordi-


nation amongst the military was disregarded by the lowest subal-
terns. The public authorities were only respected as they gave
countenance to crime, to error, to licentiousness. It grieves me,
fellow-citizens, to speak of it, but 1 must be faithful to truth,
when I undertake to trace the revolting picture, which our country
then exhibited to the contemplation of the world. The acknow-
ledgement of our errors can bring upon us no disgrace, when
made with the virtuous resolution of correcting them ; nor am 1
the first friend of his country who has deplored our past melan-
choly situation. Pardon me, therefore, if I proceed. Calumny
with her baleful train had seated herself in the midst of us, scat-
tering her poisons through the minds of our most respectable
fellow-citizens. The capital of the state, which, in the midst of
the most trying difficulties, had preserved a certain dignity of
character, now appeared to be the focus of all the passions, which
distracted every part of the country. Fractions of every party
were here encountered in a state of the utmost exasperation; while
the imminence of the public dangers, served but as the pretext
for the indulgence of mutual revenge ; accusing one another with
the origin of the general distresses, and breathing, mutually, the
most injurious suspicions.

The magnanimous people of Buenos Ayres, to whom the praise
cannot be denied, of having impoverished themselves in affording
aid to brethren engaged in the same glorious cause, were on the
point of experiencing a re-action, whose consequences would have
proved radically destructive to the character and existence of La
Plata; anarchy, in a word, had lighted up a univer-
sal CONFLAGRATION. Nor was this all; when now it might
have been supposed that the measure of our afflictions had been
full, the troops of Portugal made their appearance on the northern
borders of this river, availing themselves of our discords ; for
these unhappily, unknown to ourselves, had but too well seconded
the interests of the neighbouring court. New dangers h^re pre-
sented themselves ; new occasions to sow discords ; and a new
impulse was given to the torrent of personal enmities : rendering
even loyalty suspicious. It is no easy task, fellow-citizens, to
draw a just picture of our misadventures, or to enumerate the


perils over which your firmness has happily triumphed. You all
remember that the evils which thus assailed us, began to diminish
at the very moment when we had yielded to despair. The
Supreme Congress, into whose hands the people had confided
their safety, had just been installed at Tucuman. Those who
were called upon to be the legislators of their country, and to fix
its destiny, by the wisdom of their councils, were compelled more
than once to exert their courage, and to encounter with intrepidity
the dangers which threatened to profane this last asylum, that
remained to our country in its misfortunes. The prudence, the
integrity, the fortitude of this august body, presented to the Pro-
vinces the delightful spectacle of an authority which captivated
their submission, not less l>y the just title of its elevated origin,
than by the animated zeal, and vigorous energy which it displayed,
in the first steps of its illustrious march. The boldest passions
were compelled to renounce their extravagant designs ; and if in
some districts they had the temerity to attempt new excesses,
the celerity with which they were suppressed, scarcely allowed
time to their authors to sue for mercy. The seditious, notwith-
standing, still harboured the design of putting vigilance to sleep,
in order that they might snatch the opportunity of insulting
whatever was most respectable. It was at this crisis that the
Supreme Representation, deigned to invest me with the
honourable, but awful, distinction of Supreme Director of
the state. This was not the first time I had been clothed with
authority; and that I had already experienced the bitter morti-
fication attendant upon it, was too well known, not to regard my
acceptance as a sacrifice. At that time a member of the supreme
body, I knew well the mass of difficulties that would weigh upon
me ; but even these, in the midst of anxiety and feais, urged my
submission to the supreme will.

I had no right to expect that my elevation would meet the ap-
probation of every one; and the calamity of the times caused me
to fear that my election might give rise to new disturbances.
The result did not disappoint ray forebodings. I saw myself
cowpelled to subdue the hearts of my personal enemies : but I
now considered my person as exclusively devoted to the public


cause. luvesteil with liie chief magistracy. I set off from the
bosom of the supreme congress, for the province of Salta, and had
the good fortune to compose the loud dissentions which had set
at variance the citizens and the soldiers ; and having prepared the
elements which afterwards procured for the Saltenos their well
earned fame, I proceeded to the army, examined its situation,
inspected the fortifications ; and, giving such orders as the occa-
sion might require, I returned to Tucuman, where I had Ike
proud satisfaction of hastening, by my influence y the memorahle
act and solemn declauation of our independece. I
pursued my journey to the capital of Cordova, where, according
to previous arrangement, I was expected by general San Martin,
in order to settle the places for securing Chili from the power of
the Spaniards. From Cordova, with what painful inquietude
did I stretch my view towards the agitated population of Buenos
Ayres ! I appeal to you, fellow-citizens, if my fears were not
too well grounded ; and permit me (passing by the perils of my
transit) to fix your attention on the first days of my arrival in
this capital. What violence of passions! What discordant in-
terests! Mv resolution was taken. 1 hastened to fulfil the obli-
gations of my oath. I announced to the people that the past
should be forgotten — that those who deserved well of their coun-
try should be rewarded.

Fellow-citizens, I have not failed in my promises, nor shall I
ever have reason to repent me of my conduct. To this course,
and to your virtues, it is due, that the constituted authorities have
been supported in despite of the boldest innovators ; to this, am I
to attribute the reconciliation of those, who before regarded them-
selves, as having reason to be ray enemies : to this, to say all in a
word, it is due, that obedience to the lawful authorities, and the
love of order, constitute at present, the prevailing temper of the
Provinces, over whose destinies I have the honour to preside
as chief magistrate. It were a presumptuous folly to assert, that
this has been established on foundations that are proof against
every attempt ; the present age offers but too many examples of
how fallible, in these particulars, are all political institutions.
But how disgraceful ought we to consider the conduct of those,
■who meditate a repetition of those mournful scenes in our country!


It is proper to hope, that in future, restless spirits will be more
easily repressed, than in the earlier part of the present admi-
nistration. Then it was, that the spirit of anarchy claimed our
first attention ; yet, we were by no means free from other assail-
ants, whom it was necessary to oppose with our utmost efforts.
The interior provinces were threatened by the near approach of
the enemy, with a more numerous and effective force than had
ever been brought into the field; to concentrate our own was im-
possible, from the want of means to transport them hundreds of
leagues, and from their already occupying posts from which they
could not be spared. Moreover, I experienced the most painful
embarrassment of mind, when compelled to choose between two
extremes equally perilous: to abandon the districts of the interior,
and the army which covered them, to the utmost hazard, or to
desist from the attempt to reconquer Chili, exposing the province of
Cuyo to subjugation. 1 at length adopted the course inspired by
courage, baffling the plans of the enemy's generals, Serna and
Marco. The patriot army, against which that of Lima was in-
tended to operate, was rapidly reinforced, the discipline and
subordination, which had been lost during the periods of our
reverses, were in a short time restored. Its present strength,
respectability, and efficiency, is known to you, in common with the
rest of our fellow-citizens, and more would you have seen, if the
enemy who now flies before us, beaten and humbled, had not en-
countered a rampart of loyalty and valour in the province of Salta.
The arn)y of Cuyo, not surpassed in firmness by that of Peru,
maintained its ground, until regiments were marched from' Buenos
Ayres to its reinforcement. New regiments were created with
a rapidity almost incredible, through the noble devotedness and
generous liberality of that Province, in order to accelerate the
final preparations, for setting on foot the stupendous design
which had been formed, of scaling the Andes, whose successful
issue will afford to other nations, some means of estimating the
respectability of our power, as it has struck terror into the minds
of our enemies, has kindled gratitude in the hearts of our brethren
in Chili, and erected the most splendid monument to the power
and glory of our country.

The army of this capital was organized at the same time with

.\PPENDIX. 313

those of the Andes and of the interior ; the regular force has been
nearly doubled, the militia has made great progress in military
discipline, our slave population has been formed into battalions,
and taught the military art, as far as it is consistent with their
condition. The capital is under no apprehension, that an army
of ten thousand men can shake its liberties, and should the
Spaniards send against us thrice that number, ample provision has
been made to receive them.

Our navy has been fostered in all its branches; the scarcity of
means under which we laboured until now, has not prevented us
from undertaking very considerable operations with respect to
national vessels ; all of them have been repaired, and others have
been purchased and armed, for the defence of our coasts and
rivers. Provision has been made, should necessity require it, for
arming many more, so that the enemy will not find himself secure
from our reprisal, even upon the ocean.

Our military force, at every point which it occupies, seems to
be animated with the same spirit : its tactics are uniform, and have
undergone a rapid improvement from the science and experience
which it has borrowed from warlike nations. Our arsenals have
been replenished with arms, and a sufficient store of cannon and
munitions of war have been provided to maintain the contest for
many years, and this, after having supplied articles of every de-
scription to those districts, which have not as yet come into the
union, but whose connexion with us has been only intercepted by
reason of our past misfortunes.

Our legions daily receive considerable augmentations from new
levies; all our preparations have been made, as though we were
about to enter upon the contest anew. Until now the vastness of our
resources were unknown to us, and our enemies may contemplate
with deep mortification and despair, the present flourishing state of
these Provinces after so manv devastations.

The office of major-general has been re-established, for the
purpose of giving a uniform direction to our armies, in order to
foster the militia in all its details, and to regulate the system of
military economy. The general officers, and those of a lower
rank, occupied in those duties, will lighten the labours of the


government, at the same time rendering more practical the pro-
gress and improvement of which the military force is susceptible,
thus forming by degrees, a body of expert soldiery, who will, at
once be an honour to their country, and serve as its firmest pillar
in times of danger.

Whilst thus occupied in providing for our safety within, and
preparing for assaults from without, other objects of solid interest
have not been neglected, and which hitherto were thought to oppose
insurmountable obstacles.

Our system of finances had hitherto been on a footing entirely
inadequate to the unfailing supply of our wants, and still more to
the liquidation of the immense debt which had been contracted
in former years. An unremitted application to this object has
enabled me to create the means of satisfying the creditors of the
state, who had already abandoned their debts as lost, as well as to
devise a fixed mode, by which the taxes may be made to fall equally
and indirectly, on the whole mass of our population ; it is not
the least merit of this operation, that it has been effected in despite
of the censures with which it was assailed, and which are
but little creditable to the intelligence and good intentions of
their authors. The result has been, that there now circulates in
the hands of the capitalists, a sum, equivalent in its value to one
million of dollars, which was deficient before the adoption of the
measures by which it was produced. To the same measures are
we indebted for the receipt of two hundred and sixty-eight thou-
sand dollars, in the treasury of the custom-house, in the short time
which has elapsed since my decree of the 29th of March. At no
other period have the public exigencies been so punctually supplied,
nor have more important works been undertaken.

The people, moreover, have been relieved from many burdens,
which, being partial, or confined to particular classes, had occa-
sioned vexation and disgust. Other vexations, scarcely less
grievous, will, by degrees, be also suppressed, avoiding as far as
possible a recurrence to loans, which have drawn after them the
most fatal consequences to states. Should we, however, be com-
pelled to resoit to such expedients, the lenders will not sec them-
selves in danger of losing their advances. To shew these prac-


tieal rf suits is to make the best reply to censure ; if it be the in-
tention to do justice to the zeal and intelligence of public officers,
the inconveniences and difficulties must be weighed with the good
that has been effected. It is an idle vanity to seek perfection in
the labours of man.

One of the mischiefs attendant on the administration of the
national treasury, was the existence of many superfluous offices ;
with respect to this, the proper reformations have been made, espe-
cially in relation to the armouries and public works. The attention
of the government is continually alive in this branch of its duties,
and it is not without hopes of being able to see abundance restored,
even in the midst of the unceasing attention required by war, and
of the many undertakings that have been set on foot for the ad-
vancement of the general prosperity.

Such has been the extension of our southern frontier, over plains
and deserts, well adapted to the formation of wealthy settlements;
a project, whose accomplishment was not in the reach of former
governments, in spite of repeated attempts to subdue obstacles
which the present administration has had the good fortune to sur*
mount. The unfortunate inhabitants of our plains, have not only
been gratuitously supplied with suitable lands, on which to fix
their habitations, but have been furnished with the means of culti-
vating them to advantage.

Such has been the re-establishment of the college heretofore
named San Carlos, but hereafter to be called the union of the
SOUTH, as a point designated for the dissemination of learning to
the youth of every part of the state, on the most extensive scale,
for the attainment of which object, the government is at the pre-
sent moment engaged in putting in practice every possible dili-
gence. It will not be long before these nurseries will flourish,
in which the liberal and exact sciences will be cultivated, in which
the hearts of young men will be formed, who are destined, at some
future day to add new splendour to our country.

Such has been the establishment of a military depot on our fron-
tier, with its capacious magazine, a necessary measure to guard
us from future dangers, a work, which does more honour to the pru-
dent foresight of our country, as it was undertaken in the moment


of its prosperous fortunes, a measure which must give more occa-
sion for reflection to our enemies, than they can impose upon u»
by their boastings.

-I* This exposition is not made with a view to enhance the value
of these services, which our country has a right to demand as a
debt, but to offer an irrefragable proof to the people, that prudence
and circumspection are the virtues which are required, to secure
the fruits of their heroic efforts. For the rest, reflecting minds,
calculating the labours of the government, by the immense dis-
parity between the present state of our affairs, and what it was
fifteen months ago, will do justice to the zeal which Las effected
changes so important. They will no less give credit for many
other acts, of a nature to manifest themselves less fully to the
public. I have already mentioned the difficulties which embar-
rassed me, in respect to our exterior relations, and, if I had op-
posed less firmness in resisting the violence of party, a breach
with a neighbouring nation would have been the inevitable con-
sequence. The course pursued by me, in this particular, leaves
unimpaired our right to the invaded territory, convinced, that
pacific measures, so long as the honour of the country requires no
other, will be productive of more salutary effects, than a resort to
violence, without necessity.

A period there has been, you will remember, fellow-citizens, in
which the provinces were threatened with the sight of the nascent
order and tranquillity subverted, under pretexts of the most inju-
rious suspicions against the constituted authorities. It was that
period which occasioned more trouble to my mind, than any other
during my administration. I will cheerfully renounce my claims
to the public gratitude, for the sleepless nights spent in watching
over its safety, if it will appreciate the sacrifice I have made, the
pain it has given to my heart, to have been compelled to adopt the
rude and violent measures, which at that crisis saved the state
from ruin. But the necessity and justice of my proceedings, and
the happy consequences which have attended them, leave me no
room to repent.

Under the same circumstances, my conduct shall be the same. I
will extinguish all the natural feelings of -my heart, sooner than


consent to the repetition of scenes, which weakeu our power, and
sink our national glory to the lowest degradation.

Fellow-citizens, we owe our unhappy reverses and calaoiities,
to the depraving system of our ancient metropolis, which, in con-
demning us to the obscurity and opprobrium of the most degraded
destiny, has sown with thorns the path that conducts us to liberty.
Tell that metropolis, that even she may glory in your works!
Already have you cleared all the rocks, escaped every danger, and
conducted these provinces to the flourishing condition in which
we now behold them. Let the enemies of your name, contemplate
with despair, the energies of your virtues, and let the nations
acknowledge, that you already appertain to their illustrious rank.
Let us felicitate ourselves on the blessings we have already ob-
tained, and let us shew to the world, that we have learned to profit
by the experience of our past misfortunes.

Buenos Ayre$, July 21, 1817.


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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.2) → online text (page 25 of 25)