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THE UNITED STATES AND THE LIBERATION OF
THE SPANISH-AMERICAN COLONIES.
BY M. ROMERO, MEXICAN MINISTER TO THE UNITED STATES.
The independence of the United States, proclaimed in 1776, recognized by England in the treaty signed at Paris on September 30, 1783, and based really on economic reasons, and, still more, the recognition of that independence by Spain, principally on account of her hostility to England, and at the suggestion of her ally, France, at that time waging war upon England, could not fail to produce a very great impression in the Spanish colonies of America. These events showed the native Americans that the European colonies of this continent had the right, recognized by Spain, to sever their connection with the mother country, not only for political but for economic reasons. It was for that consideration that the Count de Aranda, a very able Spanish statesman, advised Charles III., immediateiy upon the recognition of the United States oy Spain, in a treaty signed in Paris in 1783, to establish among the Spanish possessions in America three great empires-- Mexico, Peru, and a third on the Spanish Main, or in New Granada, Venezuela, etc., under the rule of three members of the Spanish royal family. posed that the King should assume the title of Emperor, that ie new sovereigns should intermarry into the Spanish royal family, and that each of them should pay an annual tribute into the Spanish treasury. Although this scheme might have proved difficult of realization, and might have undergone radical changes, the final result would certainly have been less disastrous to Spain than the complete emancipation of her American colonies.
The French revolution, which was to a certain extent the result of American independence, must have had a great influence
also on the minds of the native Americans, since it was a very serious blow to the theory of divine right by which it was then supposed in the Western World that nations were governed, as well as a recognition of ihe natural rights of the people ; and this notwithstanding that the discreditable and sanguinary deeds of that revolution, and especially its acts of hostility to the Catholic religion, were represented by the Spanish authorities to the American colonists as being the acts of frenzied men, inspired by the worst passions, and as illustrating the excesses to which the people were liable when unrestrained by their legitimate rulers. The fact that the Bourbons were not restored to power, but that the French revolation took a conservative turn and was finally succeeded by the Empire of the First Napoleon, who ruled, not by divine right, but as the choice of the people for the benefit of the people, was the final blow to the principles on which the rule of the Spanish monarchy in America was based.
European Conspiracy to Accomplish Independence. I have no information that would lead me to believe that the Mexicans who favored the independence of their country had organized, for the promotion of their cause, any secret society or political revolutionary centre, either in Mexico or in Europe, before our independence was proclaimed. From a revolutionary manifesto * signed in Paris on the 22d of December, 1797, by Don José del Poso y Sucre, Don Manuel José de Salas and Don Francisco de Miranda, who called themselves “delegates from the Junta of Deputies from the Provinces and the people of South America, which convened at Madrid, Spain, on October 8, 1797, to settle npon the best means of effecting the independence of the American colonies of Spain,” it appears that prominent men from South America had been endeavoring since 1782 to establish independence. To aid in attaining that object, the alliance of England, at that time at war with France, was recommended. They entered into several negotiations with England to that end, especially one initiated in London in 1790, with the British Premier, as a consequence of the conference held at Holliwood, which, it was stated, had been approved by the South American provinces, for the purpose of obtaining from Great Britain a naval
* This paper was published in 1815, by ox-President John Adams, in the Boston Advertiser, with a letter addressed to the editor, Mr. Lloyd, in defence of his course in that incident and reproduced in Spanish by Señor Don Ricardo Becerra, in the first volume of his book, Vida de Don Francisco de Miranda, published in Caracas, Venezuela, in 1896.
force not exceeding 20 warships, 8,000 infantry, and 2,000 cavalry, the provinces promising to pay to England a pecuniary indemnity which the Edinburgh Review stated was to be 30,000,000 pounds sterling, after their independence was accomplished, and to grant her besides certain commercial advantages.
In that manifesto it was suggested that the United States of America should be invited to make a treaty of friendship and alliance with South America, “on the bases that the possession of the two Floridas and of Louisiana should be guaranteed to the United States, so as make the Mississippi the boundary between the two great nations, and that to tbe United States and Great Britain should be given all the islands of the American Archipelago, except Cuba, the Key of the Gulf of Mexico.” In return for these advantages it was proposed that the United States should furnish to South America an army of 5,000 infantry and 2,000 cavalry.
That document entrusted the leadership of the scheme, and the military operations necessary to carry it out, as well as the negotiations with England and the United States, to General Don Francisco de Miranda, a native of Caracas, educated in Europe, who had served in the Spanish army up to 1785, and in the French Republic under the orders of General Dumouriez in 1793. He had been tried for treason and acquitted. He visited Russia during the reign of the Empress Catherine, and was the real head and centre of the conspiracy prepared in Europe to emancipate the American colonies of Spain. General Miranda believed that he had secured the assistance of the British government, and it appears that he had some promises of assistance from Pitt, then the British Premier, which, however, were never carried out.
It seemed naturai to suppose that, while Great Britain was waging war against Spain in 1798, the British government would have been not only willing, but even anxious, to divert her attention by assisting the insurrection of her colonies. That was not exactly the case, however, because England expected that Spain would sever her alliance with France and so aid England in her war against the French revolutionary government. With that object, England sent an agent to Madrid to give assurances to the Spanish government that she would not assist in the colonial insurrection if Spain gave up her alliance with France. At the same
time instructions were sent to the English authorities in the Island of Trinidad to assist in the South American insurrection and to prepare an expedition for that purpose, as Mr. Rufus King, the United States Minister in London, communicated to Mr. Pickering, the Secretary of State, in a dispatch dated on February 26, 1798. Had England assisted directly in securing the independence of the Spanish colonies, that would have defeated her purpose of obtaining the support of Spain in her war against the French government. This was especially the case after Napoleon obtained the ascendancy in France, and more 80 after the events of 1808, culminating in the treaty of Bayonne. When the Spanish nation rose against the French troops which occupied its territory, England naturally was not disposed to embarrass Spain, whom she considered and at length found to be a very valuable ally against Napoleon, and therefore all the efforts of Miranda and of the leaders of the insurrection in America to obtain material assistance from England were unavailing.
Although the document above referred to seems to be restricted to South America, Central America is also mentioned in connection with a promise “to open to trade the Isthmuses of Nicaragua and Panama"; and incidentally Mexico is also mentioned in a statement that “the deputies of the viceroyalties of Mexico, Santa Fe, Lima, and Rio de la Plata, and of the Provinces of Caracas, Quito, Chile, etc., assembled in a legislative body, should decide definitively about the commercial advantages to be granted to England and the allies of South America.” It is probable, however, that this reference to Mexico was made on the supposition that Mexico, by reason of similarity of race, language, and institutions, would follow the lead of South America. I have no knowledge of any Mexican having taken part in the conference.
It was further stated in that document that “ Don José del Poso y Sucre and Don Manuel José de Salas should set out at once for Madrid to report to the Junta the result of their mission to Paris, carrying with them a copy of the same, and that as soon as this was done the Junta should adjourn and its members should go immediately to the American continent to promote simultaneously insurrections in all the towns of South America, to take place as soon as the assistance furnished by the allies should appear.” A copy of that paper was given to General
Miranda, as his credentials, to represent the Junta before the British and American governments.
Mr. King in his dispatch to Mr. Pickering already referred to, reported that he had met in London several Jesuits of South America, from whom he learned that they were working for the emancipation of the Spanish colonies in America. They had lived for many years in London in the service and under the pay of the British government, and they had shown Mr. King the papers that they had prepared for presentation to the British government. From a letter addressed by ex-President Adams on March 6, 1815, to Mr. Lloyd, editor of the Morning Advertiser of Boston, explaining his conduct while President of the United States in connection with the efforts of Miranda to obtain the assistance of the United States to emancipate the American colonies of Spain, it appears that Don José del Poso y Sucre and Don Manuel José de Salas, who signed the document in conjunction with General Miranda, were Jesuits, probably of the number mentioned by Mr. King ; and to the fact, Mr. Adams intimated, that the immediate predecessor of Charles IV., who was at the time (1798) King of Spain, had expelled the Jesuits from his American dominions, was due their action in the matter, they being influenced by a desire to take revenge on the Spanish monarch. There is no doubt that Pitt had detained in London some Spanish Jesuits who took a very active part in the conspiracy to promote the insurrection and who wrote several manifestoes and inflammatory documents which were to be distributed in the American colonies.
Expedition of General Miranda to Venezuela in 1806.— General Miranda sent to the United States in November, 1798, his friend and co-worker, Señor Caro, for the purpose of obtaining the assistance of this government. It appears that the scheme had the good will of Alexander Hamilton, who was at the time organizing a military force to be used in case of war with France, and that it also had the sympathy of Aaron Burr. President Adams, however, following a conservative policy, and having due regard to the neutrality laws, did not embark in the adventure, and did not receive Señor Caro. In November, 1805, General Miranda came to the United States and was received both by President Jefferson and by Mr. Madison, the Secretary of State. He organized in New York an expedition of about two