John A. (John Adams) Dix.

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many of them are employed in the executive departments.
Some of them become cardinals ; but I should not consider
it accurate to say of them as a body that they were under-
going* an ecclesiastical apprenticeship.

Let me now turn to the political divisions of the Papal

The Papal dominions are divided into twenty provinces.
The first is the Comarca of Rome. The other nineteen are
divided into legations and delegations. The former are six
in number, and have each a cardinal to preside over them.
The latter are thirteen in number, with prelates as their
presiding officers. Each province is divided into communes,
with peculiarities of local government.

In the provinces, the legations and delegations have a
council, (Congregazione di Governo,) consisting of the Gon-
faloniere, or mayor, of the chief town, and from two to five
councillors, according to the magnitude and importance of
the province. They are named by the Pope, and hold their
office for five years. The councillors have no vote ; but
when they differ in opinion from the presiding officer of the
province, their reasons are reduced to writing and sent to
the Secretary of State.

Some of the delegations are divided into districts, with
governors subordinate to the delegate. Each district is


again divided into communes, with their ancient magistrates
and councils. These councils are close corporations, the
members of which are self-elected, subject to the veto of the
delegate, and retain their seats for life. A Gonfaloniere, or
mayor, elected from their own body by themselves, presides
over them. Of these communes there are some eiffht or
nine hundred, if I remember accurately, with similar forms
of administration.

Thus it will be seent hat the whole government is as
far removed as possible from popular influence. It is from
the centre to the extremities founded and administered upon
the principles of a close corporation ; and this is its chief

The administration of justice partakes of the nature of the
political organization. It is .founded on the basis of the
Corpus juris civilis and the Corims juris canojiici, — the
civil and canon law. All criminal proceedings are con-
ducted with closed doors, and the testimony taken in writ-
ing. The accused is entitled to the aid of an advocate, called
the avvocato de poveri, (the advocate of the poor,) who is
appointed by the Pope and paid by the government. Im-
prisonment is the chief punishment for crime ; fines are
rarely imposed; there is no such thing as liberation on bail;
and the whole administration of criminal justice is so dila-
tory that there are always a very large number of persons
imprisoned and awaiting their trial.

In all I have said, it will be readily seen how much the
present head of the Papal States has to reform, — in the
frame of the government, in its administration, and in crim-
inal jurisprudence. There is no participation by the people
in the administration of public affairs. In Tuscany, Napo-
leon introduced publicity in criminal proceedings, and it has
survived all succeeding changes of the government. In
Rome it is excluded. Whether it was introduced there by
Napoleon after the deposition of the Pope and the establish-
ment of the kingdom of Italy, I do not remember, but I
have no doubt that it was.


Wliat changes the Pope contemplates, how far he pro-
poses to allow the people to participate in the administration
of puhlic affairs through the choice of their own magistrates
and the enactment of their own laws, I have until very re-
cently considered douhtful, — nor is the extent of the reform
he contemplates very distinctly understood now. It will he
recollected that a few months ago he called together a council
of delegates from the different provinces. I read his open-
ing address to them with great care, supposing it would con-
tain an outline of the political changes he contemplated. He
stated that he had called them together for consultation,
which seemed to exclude the idea of legislation ; that extrav-
agant expectations had been entertained as to his purposes, and
that he intended to transmit to his successors unimpaired the
authority he had derived from those who had preceded him.
Not long before this annunciation was received, I was invited
to attend a public meeting in the city of New York, called
to express the general sympahty which was felt in his meas-
ures of reform. Not being able to attend, I addressed a
letter to the committee of arrangements ; and there were
several other letters written by gentlemen of distinguished
character, and some of them occupying high official stations.
Not feeling at that time quite sure of the sequel, I did not
indulge in the enthusiastic expressions which some of the
letters contained. I endeavored to render the Pope full
justice. I desire to do so now. And I must say that the
recent intelligence from abroad justifies all the expectations
which have been entertained in respect to his contemplated
measures of reform. He has already done much for good
government in Italy. He arrayed himself boldly at the
outset against the influence of Austria, — an influence which,
since the general pacification of Europe, in 1815, has been
a perfect blight upon the growth and progress of popular
freedom. He has resisted fearlessly the designs of that gov-
ernment upon the independence of the Roman people. He
has refused to the Austrian troops a passage through his


dominions for the purpose of aiding the King of the Two
SiciHes in putting down the struggles of the Neapohtan and
Sicihan people against the narrow-minded tyranny by which
they have been oppressed. He has done more. He has
formed a national guard in the Papal States; he has put
arms into the hands of the Roman people, and he is prepar-
ing them by military exercises for the assertion and main-
tenance of their own rights. He has, in a word, given an
impulse to popular freedom throughout Italy ; and it is
owing in a great degree to him, that constitutional forms of
government have been given to the people of Sardinia, Tus-
cany, and the Two Sicilies.

The late arrival affords us still more gratifying evidence
of his movements. Two papers have been put into my
hands, from which I will read brief extracts. The first is
from a letter in the " Courrier des Etats Unis," dated in
Paris, which I will translate literally : —

" The reaction of the revolution in Naples has been felt, as I fore-
saw, in the other parts of Italy. The King of Sardinia and the
Grand-Duke of Tuscany have also given to their subjects a constitu-
tion, modelled after the French Charter. Pius the Ninth has prom-
ised, in a proclamation and in conversation with those around him,
something analogous to it. In the mean time, he has changed his cabi-
net, and has formed a ministry composed almost entirely of laymen.
This is a great reform."

The other extract is from the letter of the European cor-
respondent of the " National Intelligencer," published in this
morning's paper. I will read it : —

"The good and conscientious Pope has had misgivings as to his
power to grant a reformed constitution to his people, fearing that his
doing so would intei-fere with the oath which he took at his accession
to office, to hand down the temporalities of his kingdom uninjured to
his successors. He submitted his doubts to a council of ecclesiastics
learned in such matters, and the result is, a decision that his yielding
to the wishes of the people and the spirit of the times will not be an
infringement upon his official oath. It is supposed, therefore, that the
people of Rome will soon receive a constitution founded on the same
principles as those of Naples, Sardinia, and Florence. His Holiness


has advanced a great step, by his employment of well-qualified laymen
in higli positions in the State, which have hitherto been filled by eccle-
siastic:^. Three vacancies lately occurred, and three liberal-minded
laymen succeeded tln-ee churchmen. How much does the world owe
to Pius IX ! His liberal conduct first put the ball of reform in mo-
tion : it is not destined to stop until it has regenerated Europe."

Thus it appears that the Roman people are to receive
from the Pope a constitutional government. And, what I
consider of great importance as a measure of reform, he has
already begun to introduce laymen into his political councils.
At the general pacificatiou, in 1815, it was understood that
the chief ministers of the Pope were to be chosen from the
laity. This understanding was violated ; and it has been
one of the leading causes of public discontent in the Papal
States. It has been for a very long period one of the re-
forms most earnestly sought for ; and it may be hailed as
the precursor of an ultimate separation of the ecclesiastic
and secular branches of the Papal government, by confer-
ring political offices on laymen, and confining churchmen to
the exercise of their ecclesiastical functions, — an arrange-
ment favorable alike to the Church and the State, by pro-
moting the purity of the one and the prosperity of the other.

While the Pope has much to reform, he has much to con-
tend against — not only from the opposition of those who
are hostile to all progress, but from the embarrassed condi-
tion of the finances of the Papal States. Some ten years
ago, the revenues were about nine millions of dollars ; two
millions and a half were derived from internal taxes, chiefly
on landed property ; about four millions and a half from the
customs, excise, &c. ; about nine hundred thousand dollars
from lotteries, and the residue from miscellaneous sources.
Some of these revenues were collected at an enormous ex-
pense. The revenue from lotteries, for instance, which
yielded nine hundred thousand dollars in the gross, cost
about six hundred thousand in the collection, leaving only
three hundred thousand in the treasury as an offset to the


general demoralization of which they were the cause. In
the same year, the expenditures exceeded the revenues about
half a million of dollars. Four years ago, I understood the
deficiency exceeded a million, and the preceding year a mil-
Hon and a half. From the difficulty of obtaining statistical
information, I could not ascertain the amount of the public
debt ; but from the interest paid on it, amounting to about
two millions and a half of dollars, exceeding one quarter of
the entire revenue of the Papal States, it must have exceeded
forty millions of dollars. It cannot now, I think, be less
than fifty millions. It may be much more.

Sir, this is a very heavy pecuniary burden for a small
state. The whole superficial area of the Papal States is
about thirteen thousand square miles, — less than one third
the area of the State of New York ; and a population, ac-
cording to the raccoUa, or census, of 1833, of two million
seven hundred thousand souls, — about the same as the popu-
lation of New York. While Rome has two hundred and
ten inhabitants to a square mile, from the difference in sur-
face, New York has but sixty. The population of the
Papal States is very unequally distributed. Only about one
third of the surface is cultivated, and a considerable portion
is very thinly inhabited. I doubt whether the population
has much increased during the last fifteen years. In 1833,
the city of Rome had about one hundred and fifty thousand
inhabitants ; in 1838, it had less than one hundred and forty-
nine thousand, — a slight decrease.

The Papal States have some commerce ; but little is car-
ried on in her own vessels. There are but two harbors for
vessels of any considerable burden, — Civita Vecchia, on the
Mediterranean, and Ancona, on the Adriatic. The excel-
lence of both ports is due, in a good degree, to the Emperor
Trajan. There Avere other valuable ports once, but they
have become useless for large vessels. Terracina, the an-
cient capital of the Volsci, was formerly a naval station of
great importance ; but it is now obstructed by deposits of


sand. The Porto d'Anzo, — the ancient Antium, — about
midway between Terracina and the mouth of the Tiber, is
also obstructed, and nearly useless, from the same cause.

There is but one navigable river in the Papal States —
the Tiber. As there have been some allusions to it in the
course of the debate, I hope I shall be excused if I make
some references also to its condition as to commerce and
navigability. It empties into the Mediterranean seventeen
miles from Rome. As it approaches the sea, it divides into
two channels. On the left arm stood the ancient Ostia. It
has long since fallen into ruins, and a modern Ostia stands
near it ; but, from the unhealthiness of the place, it is almost
deserted, and the channel of the river is nearly filled up.
The right arm is navigable to the sea. On this channel
stood the ancient city of Portus ; but only the ruins cire
now visible, and the modern town of Fiumicino has risen up
a mile and a half below. The channel is narrow, deep, and
rapid. The description of Virgil, as he makes j5^neas first
see the Tiber, is still applicable to it. I do not know that I
can quote him accurately, but if I do not, there are gentle-
men of classical learning on both sides of the Chamber who
will correct me : —

— " fluvio Tiberiuus amoeno,
Vorticibus rapidis et multa flavus arena,
In niare prorumpit."

The description is not inaccurate : with raj)id whirlpools,
and yellow with earth, it bursts into the sea. The current is
so rapid that vessels could only stem it with strong winds ;
but they are now towed up by steamers. Vessels of small
size — among them a steamer — go up to Rome, and at
some seasons there is a good deal of freighting done on the
river. Indeed, it is navigable for boats to its junction with
the Nera, some forty miles above. But from the rapidity
of the current near the city and below, deposits of sand are
constantly obstructing the passage, and an annual appropria-
tion of money is made to keep it open.



The exports of the Papal States are not large, but they
are luunerous. They consist of corn, oil, silk, skins, fruits,
woad (a substitute for indigo, which grows spontaneously in
southern Italy,) hemp, &c. Wool is exported in large quan-
tities to England ; and among other exports is tobacco, of
whicli they send abroad annually about three hundred thou-
sand pounds.

They can scarcely be said to have a commercial marine.
Some ninety vessels, averaging probably about eighty tons
each, constitute the whole, excepting fishing-smacks, and
small coasters. There are six merchant-vessels in the city
of New York with an aggregate tonnage exceeding that of
the ninety merchant-vessels of the Roman States. This,
however, we need not regret ; for if we can extend our com-
mercial relations with them, we shall do all the carrying,
both for them and ourselves.

Agriculture, the basis of all industry, is in a very de-
pressed state, and from peculiar causes. The great peculiar-
ity of the agriculture of the Papal States is the division of
the champaign land into immense farms. The Campagna
around Rome, called the " Agro Romano," (the Roman
field,) the Maremma, extending from the frontier of Tuscany,
along the coast, to the southward, and the low lands in
other districts, are owned by a few persons. The farms usu-
ally contain several thousand acres. The entire Agro Ro-
mano, comprising more than one fifth of the Campagna,
contains over eight hundred and fifty square miles. This
tract is in the hands of about forty farmers, or " Mercanti
di Campagna," as they are called. The farms are worked
on the " Mezzeria " system, or at halves, under the direc-
tion of fattori, or stewards, who occupy farm-houses on the
land, while the owners live in the cities. The same sys-
tem prevails in Tuscany, where it has worked tolerably
well. In Rome it is thought exceedingly unfavorable to
agricultural improvement. Something is attributable to the
peculiarity of the Roman plain, in respect to climate and



health, which renders it necessary to devote the greater part
to grazing. In the winter it is covered with cattle and
sheep, — not less perhaps than a million of both, — under the
guardianship of shepherds and herdsmen. As the summer
advances, the Campagna becomes too unhealthy to be in-
habited, and the cattle are driven to the Sabine hills, and
even to the mountains of the Abruzzi. When the harvest
season arrives, the heat becomes almost intolerable ; and
multitudes of the laborers, who come down from the moun-
tains to gather the harvest, perish from the fatal effects of
the malaria. As soon as the grain is gathered, the Cam-
pagna becomes a desert until the summer heats are over.
Neither men nor cattle are to be seen. The buffalo, who
seem to be proof against the heavy pestilential vapors which
the burninof sun brinsfs out from the humid earth, are almost
the only inhabitants of the deserted plain from June to

With this imperfect agriculture, a complete monopoly is
given to the rural })roprietors by the corn-laws of the Papal
States. When the price of flour on the Mediterranean is
under ^9, and on the Adriatic $8.25 per barrel, the introduc-
tion is prohibited. It is the same with wheat. When it
is under about $1.40 the bushel on the Mediterranean, or
$1.20 on the Adriatic, it is not allowed to be introduced.
The operation of this system is to give the entire market to
the Roman agriculturist, and, by excluding the cheaper bread-
stuff's of the Levant and the Austrian provinces on the east-
ern shore of the Adriatic, to compel the Roman people in
some districts, and in times of scarcity, to eat dear bread.

Notwithstanding the depressed condition of the Papal
States, there is no country capable of a more rich or varied
production ; and if the measures of reform now in progress
shall be carried out, and the social as well as the political
condition of the people be elevated by the abrogation of bad
laws, I know no state of the same magnitude which may
hope for a higher prosperity.


I have thus, Mr. President, presented some statistical
details in respect to the condition of the Papal States, not
with the expectation of influencing the vote of any Senator
on this floor, but for the purpose of assigning the grounds
on which I place my own. I am in favor of estabHshing
diplomatic intercourse with Rome, first, with a view to
friendly relations, — the object for which most missions are
created ; and second, with a view to commerce. I repeat, I
do not regard the mission as political, unless that term be
understood in its broadest sense; and in this view all
missions are political. I consider it our sacred duty to keep
aloof from the internal agitations of European states, and
from the movements of their sovereigns and people. We
must sympathize with everything that is favorable to freedom ;
but we can do no more. Our rule of action is non-interven-
tion in the political concerns of the eastern hemisphere, and
by a rigid adherence to it we may with the more confidence
insist on an application of the same principle by European
states to the political concerns of the independent communi-
ties on this continent. I look, then, first to friendly relations
with central Italy.

But I look chiefly to commerce. Depressed as the indus-
try of Rome is, 1 think something may be done to extend
our commercial relations and intercourse with her, and per-
haps also with Tuscany, lying on her borders. Great Britain
has an immense trade with the Mediterranean. She sends
every year fifteen millions of dollars in value of her own
products into Italy alone, and probably several millions more
of foreign products, which she imports for reexportation.
A portion of this lucrative trade legitimately should be ours ;
and I think we may obtain it, if we send a discreet and intel-
ligent man to Italy.

I voted for a minister plenipotentiary, as proposed by the
Senator from Missouri,^ supposing it would be followed, if
his amendment had prevailed, by a proposition to abolish the

1 Mr. Benton.


post of charge d'affaires at Naples. The post of charge
d'affaires at Turin I would not have touched. Sardinia is
distant, and has distinct commercial interests. But we might
have sent a minister with full powers to central and south-
ern Italy, to reside a part of the time at Rome, and part of
the time at Naples, — an arrangement not unprecedented in
diplomatic intercourse with states bordering on each other.
I thought, in opening diplomatic intercourse with Rome, it
should be done in the mode most acceptable. A minister is
accredited to the sovereign of the country to which he is sent,
— a charge d'affaires to the secretary of foreign affairs, or
the chief executive department. A minister would be on a
footing with the diplomatic representatives of the states of
Europe, at the Papal Court, — a charge will be inferior in
grade and in influence. Rome and Naples are but one hun-
dred and sixty miles apart. Four years ago, a railroad was
in a course of construction from Naples to the Roman fron-
tier. It was nearly finished to Capua. Gregory XVI., the
predecessor of the present Pope, refused to charter railroad
companies. He did not encourage foreign intercourse, social
or commercial. Pius IX. is of a totally different temper.
He is desirous of promoting in every way fiicilities for com-
munication, foreign and domestic. He has chartered a com-
pany to construct a railway to Civita Vecchia ; and another,
as I understand, to meet the Neapolitan railroad at Terracina.
In two years Rome and Naples will probably be but five
hours apart. The arrangement suggested would, therefore,
have been convenient as well as proper. But, as the prop-
osition failed, I shall vote for a minister resident.

Before I conclude, I wish to say a few words on the relig-
ious question. I have already said, I do not regard this, in
any sense, as a religious mission ; nor can I conceive that it
can be properly so considered. Gentlemen have gone so far
as to suppose that it will be repugnant to the Protestant feel-
mg of the country. I cannot believe there is any just ground
for such an apprehension. We send a diplomatic represent-


ative to the Emperor of China, who claims to be the sole
vicegerent of the Supreme Being on earth. We have a
minister at Constantinople, and three consuls, salaried officers,
exercising diplomatic functions, in Africa, — two in the Bar-
bary States, and one in the empire of Morocco ; and the
people of all these countries are either Turks, Moors, Arabs,
Berbers, or Jews, — all utterly denying the authenticity of
the Christian faith. And yet, when we propose to send a
diplomatic representative to a temporal sovereign in Europe,
it is objected that the Protestant feeling of the country may
be wounded, because he is also the head of a most respect-
able and important branch of the Christian church. Sir, I
cannot comprehend this feeling, and I am therefore disposed
to doubt its existence. At all events I shall vote for the
appropriation, and trust to my Protestant friends for a just
appreciation of my motives.


MARCH 29, 1848.

Mr. Dix addressed the Senate as follows : —

Mr. President: The transactions out of which the claims
provided for by the bill under consideration arose, were ex-
plained yesterday in the brief but very pertinent and lucid
remarks of the honorable Senator from Michigan,^ as chair-
man of the Committee on Military Affairs, before which
the testimony substantiating the case was taken. I hold
in my hand the printed document containing this testimony,
and before I sit down I will read some portions of it to the
Senate, though I may perhaps but present what is familiar
to all.

I do not know that any explanation further than that
which has already been given by the honorable Senator from
Michigan is necessary to vindicate the propriety of passing
the bill. The pecuniary obligations, for the discharge of
which it provides, were contracted in good faith, for the
purpose of subduing the country and of expelling from it
the military forces of Mexico. In the execution of these
objects, the young and accomplished officer at the head of

Online LibraryJohn A. (John Adams) DixSpeeches and occasional addresses (Volume 1) → online text (page 23 of 40)