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would have operated to restrain me from replying to the note of Mr. Peña y Peña in stronger terms—the conviction that it was dictated rather by the fears than the feelings of the existing government, and the relative situation of the two countries—which would have rendered the language of menace and recrimination unbecoming.
You will observe that I have signified to this government my intention to proceed in a few days to Jalapa, there to await your final instructions. I have not decided upon this course without due deliberation, and I hope that it will meet with your approbation. My reasons were, first, to let this government understand, from my acts as well as my words, the serious consequences likely to result from a persistence in their present course; and, secondly, to avoid the possibility of any suspicion attaching to the legation, of interference of any kind in the struggle now going on.
With a people so jealous and suspicious, the most innocent movements or associations are liable to be misunderstood and misrepresented; and, for that reason, I have, since my arrival, abstained from all intercourse with meinbers of either of the contending parties. To enable you better to decide upon the course proper to be pursued, I will endeavor to give you, in as few words as possible, some idea of the present state of things here. I will not enter into detail; for their phases vary so much from day to day, and there are so many fractions and subdivisions of party, that, even if I possessed the necessary information, I could not communicate it to you within any ordinary limits. The two great divisions of party are those of the federalists and centralists; the former desiring the re-establishinent of the constitution of 1824, which, with the exception of the absence of religious toleration, was very nearly a counterpart of our own; the latter, as the name implies, advocating a consolidated government, as the only one adapted to the character of the people, and possessing sufficient strength and energy to preserve their nationality. But in these two great parties there are many shades of opinion-some of the federalists, for instance, being disposed to concede greater powers to the general government; while many of the centralists advocate an executive with unlimited powers, to be exercised either by a single person or a triunvirate; and some would even go so far as to abrogate all the forms of a republican government, and call for the establishment of a monarchy, in the person of some foreign prince, to be guarantied by some leading European powers.
General Herrera, the actual President, was elected but a few months since, almost unanimously, and in accordance with the forms of the constitution; he came into power under auspices apparently the most flattering, and yet he will, in all probability, soon vacate the national palace, to be sucreeded by some military ehief, whose career, in turn, will be equally short lived.
The associations of General Herrera have heretofore generally been with the federal party, and the bias of his feelings in that direction was indicated by the selection from it of a majority of the
members of his cabinet; but his failure to proclaim the federation, and to throw himselt frankly upon that party, soon alienated the greater portion of it; while the remainder have given him but a feeble and reluctant support, and the whole force of the central ists, comprising nearly all the officers of the army, and almost the entire clergy, has been arrayed against him. He is universally admitied to be a man of probity, and the persons immediately about him are said to be free from any antecedent stain.
He has endeavored to conduct the government purely, and to correct some of the gross abuses which have existed in every branch of the public service; this has, of course, enlisted against him the host of office-holders throughout the country, and he has not shown that energy which was necessary to carry his good intentions into effect. The command of the division of reserre, destined to operate on the frontier of Texas, was entrusted to General Paredes, who, although he bad, from causes of personal dissatisfaction, contributed to the overthrow of Santa Anna, has always been known as the advocate of centralism, or ra' ber of a military despotism. Ordered to advance, st veral months since, to the line of the Rio del Norte, he has, on various frivolous pretexte, constantly disobeyed or evaded his instructions, and the government, although it cannot bave been ignorant of his hostile intentions, has not dared to displace him. The force under his command is variously estimated at from 5,000 tv 8,000 men, and is said to comprise the most efficient troops of the republic. The intention of the government to negotiate with the United States has been made the great theme of denunciation, and the opposition has been gradually maturing its plans of insurrection in every quarter. The arrival of an American minister was to be the signal of the vutbreak; it occurred sooner han was anticipated, and consequently found them unprepared. Paredes did not issue his revolutionary proclamation until the 15th instant, and did not put his troops in march towards this place until some days after; a corresponding movement in the capital was expected to have taken place immediately on the receipt of Paredes's proclamation, and such undoubtedly was the intention of the revolutionists; but it seems that his "plan, as these insurrectionary programmes are here called, dissatisfied some of the leaders; they could not agree upon their course of operations, and the movement was postponed. This gave the government a breathing spell. In the meantime, several of the most conspicuous revolutionists have been arrested and are now in prison; others, (and among them General Almonte,) against whom orders of arrest have been issued, are concealed; extraordinary powers for six months have been granted to the President by Congress; the city, which is now being fortified, bas been declared in a state of slege, and the liberiy of the press suspended. The government appears to be determined to defend itself obstinately, although the defection of the garrisons of San Juan de Ulloa and Vera Cruz, and of the force stationed at Jalapa, gives it but little reason to rely upon the fidelity of any portion of the army. What will be the result, it would be idle for me to predict, but the gen
eral opinion here appears to be that the government must succumb.
Of one thing, however, I feel assured, that, after what has occurred, should any concession be made by our government, if any American minister present himself here without an unquilified retraction, by whatever party may succeed in the present contest, of Mr. Peña y Peña's note of the 20ih instant, he will come on a bootless errand. The desire of our government to secure peace will be mistaken for timidity; the most extravagant pretensions will be made and insisted upon, until the Mexican people shall be convinced, by hostile demonstrations, that our differences must be settled promptly either by negotiation or the sword.
I shall be detained here a few days, engaged in collecting the facts, and taking certain steps.in relation to the disputed payment of instalments, which, when obtained and completed, will form the subject of a separate despatch.
(Enclosure No. 1.]
Mr. Slidell to Mr Peña.
Mexico, December 20, 1845. The undersigned, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of the United States of America, has the honor io acknowledge the receipt, on the 17th instant, of the note of your excellency, dated the 16th instant, in reply to that of the undersigned of the 15th instant. By this note, the undersigned is informed that " the delay which has occurred in his reception, and, consequently, in the reply to his former note of the 8th instant, announcing his arrival in this capital, and presenting a copy of his credentials, has proceeded exclusively from certain difficulties presented by the tenor of his credentials, compared with the proposal made by the United States, through their consul, to treat in a friendly manner respecting the affairs of Texas, by a person whom they should name to that effect; for which cause it has been necessary to submit the said credentials to the dictamen of the council of government."
Your excellency further says that you “ will inform me, without the loss of a moment, of the result, assuring me, in the meanwhile, that the government of Mexico is ready to proceed in conformity with what it declared in its reply to the proposal made through the consul."
The undersigned has delayed until now replying to the note of your excellency, in the expectation that the prumised information of the result of the application to the council of government would have made him acquainted with the precise character of the difficulties in relation to his credentials, to which allusion is made. Having been disappointed in this expectation, and presuming, from the silence of your excellency, that the question subunitted is still pending before the council, the undersigned begs leave to call the
attention of your excellency to what he supposes to be a misapprehension, on the part of your excellency, of the proposition made by the United States, through their consul, Mr. Black, on the 13th of October last, and its acceptance by the Mexican government, as signified by the letter of your exrellency of the 15th of October to the consul. If the undersigned be mistaken in this. his error must be attributed to the very vague manner in which the difficulties respecting the tenor of his credentials are alluded to. By reference to the letter above mentioned of the consul, your excellency will find that Mr. Black was instructed, “in the absence of any diplomatic agent in Mexico, to ascertain from the Mexican government whether they would receive an envoy from. the United States, entrusied with full power to adjust all the questions in dispute between the two governinents,” and to say, o should the answer be in the affirmative, that such an enroy should be immediately despatched to Mexico." this letter, not only was no suggestion made of a disposition to treat on the isolated question of Texas, but no reference whatever can be found in it to that question, excepting so far as it was comprised in the inquiry whether the Mexican government would receive an envoy entrusted with full power to adjust all questions in dispute between the two governments.
In reply to this letter, your excellency, under date of the 15th of October, said that, “ although the Mexican government is deeply injured by the United States, through the acts committed by thein in the department of Texas, belonging to this nation, my government is disposed to receive the commissioner of the United States who may come to this capital with full power: to settle the present dispute in a peaceful, reasonable, and honorable manner; thus giving a new proof that, even in the midst of its injuries and of its firm determination to exact adequate reparation of them, it does not repel with contumely the measure of reason and peace to which it is invited by its adversary.”
The undersigned will not permit himself to anticipate the possibility of any obstacle being interposed by the Mexican government to prevent the renewal of its diplomatic relations with the United States, and the opening in due season, of negotiations for the termination of all existing difficulties; and he has not presented the foregoing extracts froin the correspondence which led to his appointment to the distinguished trust with which he has been honored by the Executive of the United States, for the purpose of commencing an argument in relation to his credentials---which would now be premature, and which he hopes will not be, at any time, necessary—but simply for the purpose of rectifying an error into which your excellency has, as he is bound to believe, inadvertently fallen, in stating that the United States had proposed to treat on the subject of Texas.
The undersigned, in closing this note, begs leave to call the attention of your excellency to the omission of your excellency to address him by his proper title, which he presumes is accidental. Although the undersigned is not yet received by the Mexican government as the accredited agent of that of the United States; still, bearing, as he does, a commission from the President of the United States establishing his diplomatic character, that character should be recognized in any communication addressed to him. The undersigned trusts that he will not again have occasion to refer to this subject. He would not, perhaps, now do so, were it a question of mere etiquette; but, in the present disturbed state of the country, contingencies may possibly occur, during the pendency of the question submitted to the council of government, in which he might have occasion to reclaim the privileges and immunities which his commission confers upon him. The undersigned tenders to your excellency, &c., &c.
JOHN SLIDELL. His Excellency MANUEL DE LA PENA Y PENA,
Minister of Foreign Relations.
]Enclosure No. 2-Translation.]
Mr. Pena y Pena to Mr. Slidell.
PALACE OF THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT,
Mexico, December 20, 1845. The undersigned, minister of foreign relations and government of the Mexican republic, had the honor to receive the note which Mr. John Slidell was pleased to address to him on the 8th instant, making known his arrival at this capital, in the character of envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of the United States of America, near the government of the undersigned, and requesting that a time and a place should be appointed for his admission to present his credentials, of which he was pleased to send copies enclosed.
The undersigned, having submitted the whole to his excellency the President of the republic, and having also considered attentively the note addressed to him by the Secretary of State of the United States, relative to the mission of Mr. Slidell, regrets to inform him that, although the supreme government of the republic is animated by the pacific and conciliatory intentions which the undersigned manifested to the consul of the United States in his confidential note of the 14th of October last, it does not conceive that, in order to fulfill the object proposed by the said consul, in the name of the American government, and accepted by the undersigned, it should admit his excellency Mr. Slidell in the character with which he is invested, of envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary residing in the republic.
In order to place this refusal upon its proper grounds, the undersigned will briefly communicate to Mr. Slidell the reasons by which his excellency the President.is guided.
The proposition in question emanated spontaneously from the