On the other hand, the men who denounced oppression, unscrupulousness, and venality, and who in rhetorical pronunciamentos urged the "people" to overthrow the dictators, were often actuated by motives of patriotism, even though they based their declarations on assumptions and assertions, rather than on principles and facts. Not infrequently a liberator of this sort became "provisional president" until he himself, or some person of his choice, could be elected "constitutional president"—two other institutions more or less peculiar to Spanish America.
In an atmosphere of political theorizing mingled with ambition for personal advancement, both leaders and followers were professed devotees of constitutions. No people, it was thought, could maintain a real republic and be a true democracy if they did not possess a written constitution. The longer this was, the more precise its definition of powers and liberties, the more authentic the republic and the more genuine the democracy was thought to be. In some countries the notion was carried still farther by an insistence upon frequent changes in the fundamental law or in the actual form of government, not so much to meet imperative needs as to satisfy a zest for experimentation or to suit the whims of mercurial temperaments. The congresses, constituent assemblies, and the like, which drew these instruments, were supposed to be faithful reproductions of similar bodies abroad and to represent the popular will. In fact, however, they were substantially colonial cabildos, enlarged into the semblance of a legislature, intent upon local or personal concerns, and lacking any national consciousness. In any case the members were apt to be creatures of a republican despot or else delegates of politicians or petty factions.
Assuming that the leaders had a fairly clear conception of what they wanted, even if the mass of their adherents did not, it is possible to aline the factions or parties somewhat as follows: on the one hand, the unitary, the military, the clerical, the conservative, and the moderate; on the other, the federalist, the civilian, the lay, the liberal, and the radical. Interspersed among them were the advocates of a presidential or congressional system like that of the United States, the upholders of a parliamentary regime like that of European nations, and the supporters of methods of government of a more experimental kind. Broadly speaking, the line of cleavage was made by opinions, concerning the form of government and by convictions regarding the relations of Church and State. These opinions were mainly a product of revolutionary experience; these convictions, on the other hand, were a bequest from colonial times.
The Unitaries wished to have a system of government modeled upon that of France. They wanted the various provinces made into administrative districts over which the national authority should exercise full sway. Their direct opponents, the Federalists, resembled to some extent the Antifederalists rather than the party bearing the former title in the earlier history of the United States; but even here an exact analogy fails. They did not seek to have the provinces enjoy local self-government or to have perpetuated the traditions of a sort of municipal home rule handed down from the colonial cabildos, so much as to secure the recognition of a number of isolated villages or small towns as sovereign states—which meant turning them over as fiefs to their local chieftains. Federalism, therefore, was the Spanish American expression for a feudalism upheld by military lordlets and their retainers.
Among the measures of reform introduced by one republic or another during the revolutionary period, abolition of the Inquisition had been one of the foremost; otherwise comparatively little was done to curb the influence of the Church. Indeed the earlier constitutions regularly contained articles declaring Roman Catholicism the sole legal faith as well as the religion of the state, and safeguarding in other respects its prestige in the community. Here was an institution, wealthy, proud, and influential, which declined to yield its ancient prerogatives and privileges and to that end relied upon the support of clericals and conservatives who disliked innovations of a democratic sort and viewed askance the entry of immigrants professing an alien faith. Opposed to the Church stood governments verging on bankruptcy, desirous of exercising supreme control, and dominated by individuals eager to put theories of democracy into practice and to throw open the doors of the republic freely to newcomers from other lands. In the opinion of these radicals the Church ought to be deprived both of its property and of its monopoly of education. The one should be turned over to the nation, to which it properly belonged, and should be converted into public utilities; the other should be made absolutely secular, in order to destroy clerical influence over the youthful mind. In this program radicals and liberals concurred with varying degrees of intensity, while the moderates strove to hold the balance between them and their opponents.
Out of this complex situation civil commotions were bound to arise. Occasionally these were real wars, but as a rule only skirmishes or sporadic insurrections occurred. They were called "revolutions," not because some great principle was actually at stake but because the term had been popular ever since the struggle with Spain. As a designation for movements aimed at securing rotation in office, and hence control of the treasury, it was appropriate enough! At all events, whether serious or farcical, the commotions often involved an expenditure in life and money far beyond the value of the interests affected. Further, both the prevalent disorder and the centralization of authority impelled the educated and well-to-do classes to take up their residence at the seat of government. Not a few of the uprisings were, in fact, protests on the part of the neglected folk in the interior of the country against concentration of population, wealth, intellect, and power in the Spanish American capitals.
Among the towns of this sort was Buenos Aires. Here, in 1829, Rosas inaugurated a career of rulership over the Argentine Confederation, culminating in a despotism that made him the most extraordinary figure of his time. Originally a stockfarmer and skilled in all the exercises of the cowboy, he developed an unusual talent for administration. His keen intelligence, supple statecraft, inflexibility of purpose, and vigor of action, united to a shrewd understanding of human follies and passions, gave to his personality a dominance that awed and to his word of command a power that humbled. Over his fellow chieftains who held the provinces in terrorized subjection, he won an ascendancy that insured compliance with his will. The instincts of the multitude he flattered by his generous simplicity, while he enlisted the support of the responsible class by maintaining order in the countryside. The desire, also, of Buenos Aires to be paramount over the other provinces had no small share in strengthening his power.
Relatively honest in money matters, and a stickler for precision and uniformity, Rosas sought to govern a nation in the rough-and-ready fashion of the stock farm. A creature of his environment, no better and no worse than his associates, but only more capable than they, and absolutely convinced that pitiless autocracy was the sole means of creating a nation out of chaotic fragments, this "Robespierre of South America" carried on his despotic sway, regardless of the fury of opponents and the menace of foreign intervention.
During the first three years of his control, however, except for the rigorous suppression of unitary movements and the muzzling of the press, few signs appeared of the "black night of Argentine history" which was soon to close down on the land. Realizing that the auspicious moment had not yet arrived for him to exercise the limitless power that he thought needful, he declined an offer of reelection from the provincial legislature, in the hope that, through a policy of conciliation, his successor might fall a prey to the designs of the Unitaries. When this happened, he secretly stirred up the provinces into a renewal of the earlier disturbances, until the evidence became overwhelming that Rosas alone could bring peace and progress out of turmoil and backwardness. Reluctantly the legislature yielded him the power it knew he wanted. This he would not accept until a "popular" vote of some 9000 to 4 confirmed the choice. In 1835, accordingly, he became dictator for the first of four successive terms of five years.
Then ensued, notably in Buenos Aires itself, a state of affairs at once grotesque and frightful. Not content with hunting down and inflicting every possible, outrage upon those suspected of sympathy with the Unitaries, Rosas forbade them to display the light blue and white colors of their party device and directed that red, the sign of Federalism, should be displayed on all occasions. Pink he would not tolerate as being too attenuated a shade and altogether too suggestive of political trimming! A band of his followers, made up of ruffians, and called the Mazorca, or "Ear of Corn," because of the resemblance of their close fellowship to its adhering grains, broke into private houses, destroyed everything light blue within reach, and maltreated the unfortunate occupants at will. No man was safe also who did not give his face a leonine aspect by wearing a mustache and sidewhiskers—emblems, the one of "federalism," and the other of "independence." To possess a visage bare of these hirsute adornments or a countenance too efflorescent in that respect was, under a regime of tonsorial politics, to invite personal disaster! Nothing apparently was too cringing or servile to show how submissive the people were to the mastery of Rosas. Private vengeance and defamation of the innocent did their sinister work unchecked. Even when his arbitrary treatment of foreigners had compelled France for a while to institute a blockade of Buenos Aires, the wily dictator utilized the incident to turn patriotic resentment to his own advantage.
Meanwhile matters in Uruguay had come to such a pass that Rosas saw an opportunity to extend his control in that direction also. Placed between Brazil and the Argentine Confederation and so often a bone of contention, the little country was hardly free from the rule of the former state when it came near falling under the domination of the latter. Only a few years of relative tranquillity had elapsed when two parties sprang up in Uruguay: the "Reds" (Colorados) and the "Whites" (Blancos). Of these, the one was supposed to represent the liberal and the other the conservative element. In fact, they were the followings of partisan chieftains, whose struggles for the presidency during many years to come retarded the advancement of a country to which nature had been generous.
When Fructuoso Rivera, the President up to 1835, thought of choosing some one to be elected in constitutional fashion as his successor, he unwisely singled out Manuel Oribe, one of the famous "Thirty-three" who had raised the cry of independence a decade before. But instead of a henchman he found a rival. Both of them straightway adopted the colors and bid for the support of one of the local factions; and both appealed to the factions of the Argentine Confederation for aid, Rivera to the Unitaries and Oribe to the Federalists. In 1843, Oribe, at the head of an army of Blancos and Federalists and with the moral support of Rosas, laid siege to Montevideo. Defended by Colorados, Unitaries, and numerous foreigners, including Giuseppe Garibaldi, the town held out valiantly for eight years—a feat that earned for it the title of the "New Troy." Anxious to stop the slaughter and destruction that were injuring their nationals, France, Great Britain, and Brazil offered their mediation; but Rosas would have none of it. What the antagonists did he cared little, so long as they enfeebled the country and increased his chances of dominating it. At length, in 1845, the two European powers established a blockade of Argentine ports, which was not lifted until the dictator grudgingly agreed to withdraw his troops from the neighboring republic.
More than any other single factor, this intervention of France and Great Britain administered a blow to Rosas from which he could not recover. The operations of their fleets and the resistance of Montevideo had lowered the prestige of the dictator and had raised the hopes of the Unitaries that a last desperate effort might shake off his hated control. In May, 1851, Justo Jose de Urquiza, one of his most trusted lieutenants, declared the independence of his own province and called upon the others to rise against the tyrant. Enlisting the support of Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay, he assembled a "great army of liberation," composed of about twenty-five thousand men, at whose head he marched to meet the redoubtable Rosas. On February 3,1852, at a spot near Buenos Aires, the man of might who, like his contemporary Francia in Paraguay, had held the Argentine Confederation in thralldom for so many years, went down to final defeat. Embarking on a British warship he sailed for England, there to become a quiet country gentleman in a land where gauchos and dictators were unhonored.
In the meantime Paraguay, spared from such convulsion as racked its neighbor on the east, dragged on its secluded existence of backwardness and stagnation. Indians and half-castes vegetated in ignorance and docility, and the handful of whites quaked in terror, while the inexorable Francia tightened the reins of commercial and industrial restriction and erected forts along the frontiers to keep out the pernicious foreigner. At his death, in 1840, men and women wept at his funeral in fear perchance, as one historian remarks, lest he come back to life; and the priest who officiated at the service likened the departed dictator to Caesar and Augustus!
Paraguay was destined, however, to fall under a despot far worse than Francia when in 1862 Francisco Solano Lopez became President. The new ruler was a man of considerable intelligence and education. While a traveler in Europe he had seen much of its military organizations, and he had also gained no slight acquaintance with the vices of its capital cities. This acquired knowledge he joined to evil propensities until he became a veritable monster of wickedness. Vain, arrogant, reckless, absolutely devoid of scruple, swaggering in victory, dogged in defeat, ferociously cruel at all times, he murdered his brothers and his best friends; he executed, imprisoned, or banished any one whom he thought too influential; he tortured his mother and sisters; and, like the French Terrorists, he impaled his officers upon the unpleasant dilemma of winning victories or losing their lives. Even members of the American legation suffered torment at his hands, and the minister himself barely escaped death.
Over his people, Lopez wielded a marvelous power, compounded of persuasive eloquence and brute force. If the Paraguayans had obeyed their earlier masters blindly, they were dumb before this new despot and deaf to other than his word of command. To them he was the "Great Father," who talked to them in their own tongue of Guarani, who was the personification of the nation, the greatest ruler in the world, the invincible champion who inspired them with a loathing and contempt for their enemies. Such were the traits of a man and such the traits of a people who waged for six years a warfare among the most extraordinary in human annals.
What prompted Lopez to embark on his career of international madness and prosecute it with the rage of a demon is not entirely clear. A vision of himself as the Napoleon of southern South America, who might cause Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay to cringe before his footstool, while he disposed at will of their territory and fortunes, doubtless stirred his imagination. So, too, the thought of his country, wedged in between two huge neighbors and threatened with suffocation between their overlapping folds, may well have suggested the wisdom of conquering overland a highway to the sea. At all events, he assembled an army of upwards of ninety thousand men, the greatest military array that Hispanic America had ever seen. Though admirably drilled and disciplined, they were poorly armed, mostly with flintlock muskets, and they were also deficient in artillery except that of antiquated pattern. With this mighty force at his back, yet knowing that the neighboring countries could eventually call into the field armies much larger in size equipped with repeating rifles and supplied with modern artillery, the "Jupiter of Paraguay" nevertheless made ready to launch his thunderbolt.
The primary object at which he aimed was Uruguay. In this little state the Colorados, upheld openly or secretly by Brazil and Argentina, were conducting a "crusade of liberty" against the Blanco government at Montevideo, which was favored by Paraguay. Neither of the two great powers wished to see an alliance formed between Uruguay and Paraguay, lest when united in this manner the smaller nations might become too strong to tolerate further intervention in their affairs. For her part, Brazil had motives for resentment arising out of boundary disputes with Paraguay and Uruguay, as well as out of the inevitable injury to its nationals inflicted by the commotions in the latter country; whereas Argentina cherished grievances against Lopez for the audacity with which his troops roamed through her provinces and the impudence with which his vessels, plying on the lower Parana, ignored the customs regulations. Thus it happened that obscure civil discords in one little republic exploded into a terrific international struggle which shook South America to its foundations.
In 1864, scorning the arts of diplomacy which he did not apparently understand, Lopez sent down an order for the two big states to leave the matter of Uruguayan politics to his impartial adjustment. At both Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires a roar of laughter went up from the press at this notion of an obscure chieftain of a band of Indians in the tropical backwoods daring to poise the equilibrium of much more than half a continent on his insolent hand. But the merriment soon subsided, as Brazilians and Argentinos came to realize what their peril might be from a huge army of skilled and valiant soldiers, a veritable horde of fighting fanatics, drawn up in a compact little land, centrally located and affording in other respects every kind of strategic advantage.
When Brazil invaded Uruguay and restored the Colorados to power, Lopez demanded permission from Argentina to cross its frontier, for the purpose of assailing his enemy from another quarter. When the permission was denied, Lopez declared war on Argentina also. It was in every respect a daring step, but Lopez knew that Argentina was not so well prepared as his own state for a war of endurance. Uruguay then entered into an alliance in 1865 with its two big "protectors." In accordance with its terms, the allies agreed not to conclude peace until Lopez had been overthrown, heavy indemnities had been exacted of Paraguay, its fortifications demolished, its army disbanded, and the country forced to accept any boundaries that the victors might see fit to impose.
Into the details of the campaigns in the frightful conflict that ensued it is not necessary to enter. Although, in 1866, the allies had assembled an army of some fifty thousand men, Lopez continued taking the offensive until, as the number and determination of his adversaries increased, he was compelled to retreat into his own country. Here he and his Indian legions levied terrific toll upon the lives of their enemies who pressed onward, up or down the rivers and through tropical swamps and forests. Inch by inch he contested their entry upon Paraguayan soil. When the able-bodied men gave out, old men, boys, women, and girls fought on with stubborn fury, and died before they would surrender. The wounded escaped if they could, or, cursing their captors, tore off their bandages and bled to death. Disease wrought awful havoc in all the armies engaged; yet the struggle continued until flesh and blood could endure no more. Flying before his pursuers into the wilds of the north and frantically dragging along with him masses of fugitive men, women, and children, whom he remorselessly shot, or starved to death, or left to perish of exhaustion, Lopez turned finally at bay, and, on March 1, 1870, was felled by the lance of a cavalryman. He had sworn to die for his country and he did, though his country might perish with him.
No land in modern times has ever reached a point so near annihilation as Paraguay. Added to the utter ruin of its industries and the devastation of its fields, dwellings, and towns, hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children had perished. Indeed, the horrors that had befallen it might well have led the allies to ask themselves whether it was worth while to destroy a country in order to change its rulers. Five years before Lopez came into power the population of Paraguay had been reckoned at something between 800,000 and 1,400,000—so unreliable were census returns in those days. In 1878 it was estimated at about 230,000, of whom women over fifteen years of age outnumbered the men nearly four to one. Loose polygamy was the inevitable consequence, and women became the breadwinners. Even today in this country the excess of females over males is very great. All in all, it is not strange that Paraguay should be called the "Niobe among nations."
Unlike many nations of Spanish America in which a more or less anticlerical regime was in the ascendant, Ecuador fell under a sort of theocracy. Here appeared one of the strangest characters in a story already full of extraordinary personages—Gabriel Garcia Moreno, who became President of that republic in 1861. In some respects the counterpart of Francia of Paraguay, in others both a medieval mystic and an enlightened ruler of modern type, he was a man of remarkable intellect, constructive ability, earnest patriotism, and disinterested zeal for orderliness and progress. On his presidential sash were inscribed the words: "My Power in the Constitution"; but is real power lay in himself and in the system which he implanted.
Garcia Moreno had a varied career. He had been a student of chemistry and other natural sciences. He had spent his youth in exile in Europe, where he prepared himself for his subsequent career as a journalist and a university professor. Through it all he had been an active participant in public affairs. Grim of countenance, austere in bearing, violent of temper, relentless in severity, he was a devoted believer in the Roman Catholic faith and in this Church as the sole effective basis upon which a state could be founded or social and political regeneration could be assured. In order to render effective his concept of what a nation ought to be, Garcia Moreno introduced and upheld in all rigidity an administration the like of which had been known hardly anywhere since the Middle Ages. He recalled the Jesuits, established schools of the "Brothers of the Christian Doctrine," and made education a matter wholly under ecclesiastical control. He forbade heretical worship, called the country the "Republic of the Sacred Heart," and entered into a concordat with the Pope under which the Church in Ecuador became more subject to the will of the supreme pontiff than western Europe had been in the days of Innocent III.
Liberals in and outside of Ecuador tried feebly to shake off this masterful theocracy, for the friendship which Garcia Moreno displayed toward the diplomatic representatives of the Catholic powers of Europe, notably those of Spain and France, excited the neighboring republics. Colombia, indeed, sent an army to liberate the "brother democrats of Ecuador from the rule of Professor Garcia Moreno," but the mass of the people stood loyally by their President. For this astounding obedience to an administration apparently so unrelated to modern ideas, the ecclesiastical domination was not solely or even chiefly responsible. In more ways than one Garcia Moreno, the professor President, was a statesman of vision and deed. He put down brigandage and lawlessness; reformed the finances; erected hospitals; promoted education; and encouraged the study of natural science. Even his salary he gave over to public improvements. His successors in the presidential office found it impossible to govern the country without Garcia Moreno. Elected for a third term to carry on his curious policy of conservatism and reaction blended with modern advancement, he fell by the hand of an assassin in 1875. But the system which he had done so much to establish in Ecuador survived him for many years.
Although Brazil did not escape the evils of insurrection which retarded the growth of nearly all of its neighbors, none of its numerous commotions shook the stability of the nation to a perilous degree. By 1850 all danger of revolution had vanished. The country began to enter upon a career of peace and progress under a regime which combined broadly the federal organization of the United States with the form of a constitutional monarchy. Brazil enjoyed one of the few enlightened despotisms in South America. Adopting at the outset the parliamentary system, the Emperor Pedro II chose his ministers from among the liberals or conservatives, as one party or the other might possess a majority in the lower house of the Congress. Though the legislative power of the nation was enjoyed almost entirely by the planters and their associates who formed the dominant social class, individual liberty was fully guaranteed, and even freedom of conscience and of the press was allowed. Negro slavery, though tolerated, was not expressly recognized.
Thanks to the political discretion and unusual personal qualities of "Dom Pedro," his popularity became more and more marked as the years went on. A patron of science and literature, a scholar rather than a ruler, a placid and somewhat eccentric philosopher, careless of the trappings of state, he devoted himself without stint to the public welfare. Shrewdly divining that the monarchical system might not survive much longer, he kept his realm pacified by a policy of conciliation. Pedro II even went so far as to call himself the best republican in the Empire. He might have said, with justice perhaps, that he was the best republican in the whole of Hispanic America. What he really accomplished was the successful exercise of a paternal autocracy of kindness and liberality over his subjects.
If more or less permanent dictators and occasional liberators were the order of the day in most of the Spanish American republics, intermittent dictators and liberators dashed across the stage in Mexico from 1829 well beyond the middle of the century. The other countries could show numerous instances in which the occupant of the chief magistracy held office to the close of his constitutional term; but Mexico could not show a single one! What Mexico furnished, instead, was a kaleidoscopic spectacle of successive presidents or dictators, an unstable array of self-styled "generals" without a presidential succession. There were no fewer than fifty such transient rulers in thirty-two years, with anywhere from one to six a year, with even the same incumbent twice in one year, or, in the case of the repetitious Santa Anna, nine times in twenty years—in spite of the fact that the constitutional term of office was four years. This was a record that made the most turbulent South American states seem, by comparison, lands of methodical regularity in the choice of their national executive. And as if this instability in the chief magistracy were not enough, the form of government in Mexico shifted violently from federal to centralized, and back again to federal. Mad struggles raged between partisan chieftains and their bands of Escoceses and Yorkinos, crying out upon the "President" in power because of his undue influence upon the choice of a successor, backing their respective candidates if they lost, and waiting for a chance to oust them if they won.
This tumultuous epoch had scarcely begun when Spain in 1829 made a final attempt to recover her lost dominion in Mexico. Local quarrels were straightway dropped for two months until the invaders had surrendered. Thereupon the great landholders, who disliked the prevailing Yorkino regime for its democratic policies and for favoring the abolition of slavery, rallied to the aid of a "general" who issued a manifesto demanding an observance of the constitution and the laws! After Santa Anna, who was playing the role of a Mexican Warwick, had disposed of this aspirant, he switched blithely over to the Escoceses, reduced the federal system almost to a nullity, and in 1836 marched away to conquer the revolting Texans. But, instead, they conquered him and gained their independence, so that his reward was exile.
Now the Escoceses were free to promulgate a new constitution, to abolish the federal arrangement altogether, and to replace it by a strongly centralized government under which the individual States became mere administrative districts. Hardly had this radical change been effected when in 1838 war broke out with France on account of the injuries which its nationals, among whom were certain pastry cooks, had suffered during the interminable commotions. Mexico was forced to pay a heavy indemnity; and Santa Anna, who had returned to fight the invader, was unfortunate enough to lose a leg in the struggle. This physical deprivation, however, did not interfere with that doughty hero's zest for tilting with other unquiet spirits who yearned to assure national regeneration by continuing to elevate and depose "presidents."
Another swing of the political pendulum had restored the federal system when again everything was overturned by the disastrous war with the United States. Once more Santa Anna returned, this time, however, to joust in vain with the "Yankee despoilers" who were destined to dismember Mexico and to annex two-thirds of its territory. Again Santa Anna was banished—to dream of a more favorable opportunity when he might become the savior of a country which had fallen into bankruptcy and impotence.
His opportunity came in 1853, when conservatives and clericals indulged the fatuous hope that he would both sustain their privileges and lift Mexico out of its sore distress. Either their memories were short or else distance had cast a halo about his figure. At all events, he returned from exile and assumed, for the ninth and last time, a presidency which he intended to be something more than a mere dictatorship. Scorning the formality of a Congress, he had himself entitled "Most Serene Highness," as indicative of his ambition to become a monarch in name as well as in fact.
Royal or imperial designs had long since brought one military upstart to grief. They were now to cut Santa Anna's residence in Mexico similarly short. Eruptions of discontent broke out all over the country. Unable to make them subside, Santa Anna fell back upon an expedient which recalls practices elsewhere in Spanish America. He opened registries in which all citizens might record "freely" their approval or disapproval of his continuance in power. Though he obtained the huge majority of affirmative votes to be expected in such cases, he found that these pen-and-ink signatures were no more serviceable than his soldiers. Accordingly the dictator of many a day, fallen from his former estate of highness, decided to abandon his serenity also, and in 1854 fled the country—for its good and his own.
CHAPTER VI. PERIL FROM ABROAD
Apart from the spoliation of Mexico by the United States, the independence of the Hispanic nations had not been menaced for more than thirty years. Now comes a period in which the plight of their big northern neighbor, rent in twain by civil war and powerless to enforce the spirit of the Monroe Doctrine, caused two of the countries to become subject a while to European control. One of these was the Dominican Republic.
In 1844 the Spanish-speaking population of the eastern part of the island of Santo Domingo, writhing under the despotic yoke of Haiti, had seized a favorable occasion to regain their freedom. But the magic word "independence" could not give stability to the new state any more than it had done in the case of its western foes. The Haitians had lapsed long since into a condition resembling that of their African forefathers. They reveled in the barbarities of Voodoo, a sort of snake worship, and they groveled before "presidents" and "emperors" who rose and fell on the tide of decaying civilization. The Dominicans unhappily were not much more progressive. Revolutions alternated with invasions and counter-invasions and effectually prevented enduring progress.
On several occasions the Dominicans had sought reannexation to Spain or had craved the protection of France as a defense against continual menace from their negro enemies and as a relief from domestic turmoil. But every move in this direction failed because of a natural reluctance on the part of Spain and France, which was heightened by a refusal of the United States to permit what it regarded as a violation of the Monroe Doctrine. In 1861, however, the outbreak of civil war in the United States appeared to present a favorable opportunity to obtain protection from abroad. If the Dominican Republic could not remain independent anyway, reunion with the old mother country seemed altogether preferable to reconquest by Haiti. The President, therefore, entered into negotiations with the Spanish Governor and Captain General of Cuba, and then issued a proclamation signed by himself and four of his ministers announcing that by the "free and spontaneous will" of its citizens, who had conferred upon him the power to do so, the nation recognized Queen Isabella II as its lawful sovereign! Practically no protest was made by the Dominicans against this loss of their independence.
Difficulties which should have been foreseen by Spain were quick to reveal themselves. It fell to the exPresident, now a colonial governor and captain general, to appoint a host of officials and, not unnaturally, he named his own henchmen. By so doing he not only aroused the animosity of the disappointed but stimulated that of the otherwise disaffected as well, until both the aggrieved factions began to plot rebellion. Spain, too, sent over a crowd of officials who could not adjust themselves to local conditions. The failure of the mother country to allow the Dominicans representation in the Spanish Cortes and its readiness to levy taxes stirred up resentment that soon ended in revolution. Unable to check this new trouble, and awed by the threatening attitude of the United States, Spain decided to withdraw in 1865. The Dominicans thus were left with their independence and a chance—which they promptly seized—to renew their commotions. So serious did these disturbances become that in 1869 the President of the reconstituted republic sought annexation to the United States but without success. American efforts, on the other hand, were equally futile to restore peace and order in the troubled country until many years later.
The intervention of Spain in Santo Domingo and its subsequent withdrawal could not fail to have disastrous consequences in its colony of Cuba, the "Pearl of the Antilles" as it was proudly called. Here abundant crops of sugar and tobacco had brought wealth and luxury, but not many immigrants because of the havoc made by epidemics of yellow fever. Nearly a third of the insular population was still composed of negro slaves, who could hardly relish the thought that, while the mother country had tolerated the suppression of the hateful institution in Santo Domingo, she still maintained it in Cuba. A bureaucracy, also, prone to corruption owing to the temptations of loose accounting at the custom house, governed in routinary, if not in arbitrary, fashion. Under these circumstances dislike for the suspicious and repressive administration of Spain grew apace, and secret societies renewed their agitation for its overthrow. The symptoms of unrest were aggravated by the forced retirement of Spain from Santo Domingo. If the Dominicans had succeeded so well, it ought not to be difficult for a prolonged rebellion to wear Spain out and compel it to abandon Cuba also. At this critical moment news was brought of a Spanish revolution across the seas.
Just as the plight of Spain in 1808, and again in 1820, had afforded a favorable opportunity for its colonies on the continents of America to win their independence, so now in 1868 the tidings that Queen Isabella had been dethroned by a liberal uprising aroused the Cubans to action under their devoted leader, Carlos Manuel de Cespedes. The insurrection had not gained much headway, however, when the provisional government of the mother country instructed a new Governor and Captain General—whose name, Dulce (Sweet), had an auspicious sound—to open negotiations with the insurgents and to hold out the hope of reforms. But the royalists, now as formerly, would listen to no compromise. Organizing themselves into bodies of volunteers, they drove Dulce out. He was succeeded by one Caballero de Rodas (Knight of Rhodes) who lived up to his name by trying to ride roughshod over the rebellious Cubans. Thus began the Ten Years' War—a war of skirmishes and brief encounters, rarely involving a decisive action, which drenched the soil of Cuba with blood and laid waste its fields in a fury of destruction.
Among the radicals and liberals who tried to retain a fleeting control over Mexico after the final departure of Santa Anna was the first genuine statesman it had ever known in its history as a republic—Benito Pablo Juarez, an Indian. At twelve years of age he could not read or write or even speak Spanish. His employer, however, noted his intelligence and had him educated. Becoming a lawyer, Juarez entered the political arena and rose to prominence by dint of natural talent for leadership, an indomitable perseverance, and a sturdy patriotism. A radical by conviction, he felt that the salvation of Mexico could never be attained until clericalism and militarism had been banished from its soil forever.
Under his influence a provisional government had already begun a policy of lessening the privileges of the Church, when the conservative elements, with a cry that religion was being attacked, rose up in arms again. This movement repressed, a Congress proceeded in 1857 to issue a liberal constitution which was destined to last for sixty years. It established the federal system in a definite fashion, abolished special privileges, both ecclesiastical and military, and organized the country on sound bases worthy of a modern nation. Mexico seemed about to enter upon a rational development. But the newly elected President, yielding to the importunities of the clergy, abolished the constitution, dissolved the legislature, and set up a dictatorship, in spite of the energetic protests of Juarez, who had been chosen Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and who, in accordance with the terms of the temporarily discarded instrument, was authorized to assume the presidency should that office fall vacant. The rule of the usurper was short-lived, however. Various improvised "generals" of conservative stripe put themselves at the head of a movement to "save country, religion, and the rights of the army," drove the would-be dictator out, and restored the old regime.
Juarez now proclaimed himself acting President, as he was legally entitled to do, and set up his government at Vera Cruz while one "provisional president" followed another. Throughout this trying time Juarez defended his position vigorously and rejected every offer of compromise. In 1859 he promulgated his famous Reform Laws which nationalized ecclesiastical property, secularized cemeteries, suppressed religious communities, granted freedom of worship, and made marriage a civil contract. For Mexico, however, as for other Spanish American countries, measures of the sort were far too much in advance of their time to insure a ready acceptance. Although Juarez obtained a great moral victory when his government was recognized by the United States, he had to struggle two years more before he could gain possession of the capital. Triumphant in 1861, he carried his anticlerical program to the point of actually expelling the Papal Nuncio and other ecclesiastics who refused to obey his decrees. By so doing he leveled the way for the clericals, conservatives, and the militarists to invite foreign intervention on behalf of their desperate cause. But, even if they had not been guilty of behavior so unpatriotic, the anger of the Pope over the treatment of his Church, the wrath of Spain over the conduct of Juarez, who had expelled the Spanish minister for siding with the ecclesiastics, the desire of Great Britain to collect debts due to her subjects, and above all the imperialistic ambitions of Napoleon III, who dreamt of converting the intellectual influence of France in Hispanic America into a political ascendancy, would probably have led to European occupation in any event, so long at least as the United States was slit asunder and incapable of action.
Some years before, the Mexican Government under the clerical and militarist regime had made a contract with a Swiss banker who for a payment of $500,000 had received bonds worth more than fifteen times the value of the loan. When, therefore, the Mexican Congress undertook to defer payments on a foreign debt that included the proceeds of this outrageous contract, the Governments of France, Great Britain, and Spain decided to intervene. According to their agreement the three powers were simply to hold the seaports of Mexico and collect the customs duties until their pecuniary demands had been satisfied. Learning, however, that Napoleon III had ulterior designs, Great Britain and Spain withdrew their forces and left him to proceed with his scheme of conquest. After capturing Puebla in May, 1863, a French army numbering some thirty thousand men entered the capital and installed an assemblage of notables belonging to the clerical and conservative groups. This body thereupon proclaimed the establishment of a constitutional monarchy under an emperor. The title was to be offered to Maximilian, Archduke of Austria. In case he should not accept, the matter was to be referred to the "benevolence of his majesty, the Emperor of the French," who might then select some other Catholic prince.
On his arrival, a year later, the amiable and well-meaning Maximilian soon discovered that, instead of being an "Emperor," he was actually little more than a precarious chief of a faction sustained by the bayonets of a foreign army. In the northern part of Mexico, Juarez, Porfirio Diaz,—later to become the most renowned of presidential autocrats,—and other patriot leaders, though hunted from place to place, held firmly to their resolve never to bow to the yoke of the pretender. Nor could Maximilian be sure of the loyalty of even his supposed adherents. Little by little the unpleasant conviction intruded itself upon him that he must either abdicate or crush all resistance in the hope that eventually time and good will might win over the Mexicans. But do what they would, his foreign legions could not catch the wary and stubborn Juarez and his guerrilla lieutenants, who persistently wore down the forces of their enemies. Then the financial situation became grave. Still more menacing was the attitude of the United States now that its civil war was at an end. On May 31, 1866, Maximilian received word that Napoleon III had decided to withdraw the French troops. He then determined to abdicate, but he was restrained by the unhappy Empress Carlotta, who hastened to Europe to plead his cause with Napoleon. Meantime, as the French troops were withdrawn, Juarez occupied the territory.
Feebly the "Emperor" strove to enlist the favor of his adversaries by a number of liberal decrees; but their sole result was his abandonment by many a lukewarm conservative. Inexorably the patriot armies closed around him until in May, 1867, he was captured at Queretaro, where he had sought refuge. Denied the privilege of leaving the country on a promise never to return, he asked Escobedo, his captor, to treat him as a prisoner of war. "That's my business," was the grim reply. On the pretext that Maximilian had refused to recognize the competence of the military court chosen to try him, Juarez gave the order to shoot him. On the 19th of June the Austrian archduke paid for a fleeting glory with his life. Thus failed the second attempt at erecting an empire in Mexico. For thirty-four years diplomatic relations between that country and Austria-Hungary were severed. The clerical-military combination had been overthrown, and the Mexican people had rearmed their independence. As Juarez declared: "Peace means respect for the rights of others."
Even if foreign dreams of empire in Mexico had vanished so abruptly, it could hardly be expected that a land torn for many years by convulsions could become suddenly tranquil. With Diaz and other aspirants to presidential power, or with chieftains who aimed at setting up little republics of their own in the several states, Juarez had to contend for some time before he could establish a fair amount of order. Under his successor, who also was a civilian, an era of effective reform began. In 1873 amendments to the constitution declared Church and State absolutely separate and provided for the abolition of peonage—a provision which was more honored in, the breach than in the observance.
CHAPTER VII. GREATER STATES AND LESSER
During the half century that had elapsed since 1826, the nations of Hispanic America had passed through dark ages. Their evolution had always been accompanied by growing pains and had at times been arrested altogether or unduly hastened by harsh injections of radicalism. It was not an orderly development through gradual modifications in the social and economic structure, but rather a fitful progress now assisted and now retarded by the arbitrary deeds of men of action, good and bad, who had seized power. Dictators, however, steadily decreased in number and gave place often to presidential autocrats who were continued in office by constant reelection and who were imbued with modern ideas. In 1876 these Hispanic nations stood on the threshold of a new era. Some were destined to advance rapidly beyond it; others, to move slowly onward; and a few to make little or no progress.
The most remarkable feature in the new era was the rise of four states—Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and Chile—to a position of eminence among their fellows. Extent of territory, development of natural resources, the character of the inhabitants and the increase of their numbers, and the amount of popular intelligence and prosperity, all contributed to this end. Each of the four nations belonged to a fairly well-defined historical and geographical group in southern North America, and in eastern and western South America, respectively. In the first group were Mexico, the republics of Central America, and the island countries of the Caribbean; in the second, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay; and in the third, Chile, Peru, and Bolivia. In a fourth group were Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela.
When the President of Mexico proceeded, in 1876, to violate the constitution by securing his reelection, the people were prepared by their earlier experiences and by the rule of Juarez to defend their constitutional rights. A widespread rebellion headed by Diaz broke out. In the so-called "Plan of Tuxtepec" the revolutionists declared themselves in favor of the principle of absolutely no reelection. Meantime the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court handed down a decision that the action of the Congress in sustaining the President was illegal, since in reality no elections had been held because of the abstention of voters and the seizure of the polls by revolutionists or government forces. "Above the constitution, nothing; above the constitution, no one," he declared. But as this assumption of a power of judgment on matters of purely political concern was equally a violation of the constitution and concealed, besides, an attempt to make the Chief Justice President, Diaz and his followers drove both of the pretenders out. Then in 1876 he managed to bring about his own election instead.
Porfirio Diaz was a soldier who had seen active service in nearly every important campaign since the war with the United States. Often himself in revolt against presidents, legal and illegal, Diaz was vastly more than an ordinary partisan chieftain. Schooled by a long experience, he had come to appreciate the fact that what Mexico required for its national development was freedom from internal disorders and a fair chance for recuperation. Justice, order, and prosperity, he felt, could be assured only by imposing upon the country the heavy weight of an iron hand. Foreign capital must be invested in Mexico and then protected; immigration must be encouraged, and other material, moral, and intellectual aid of all sorts must be drawn from abroad for the upbuilding of the nation.
To effect such a transformation in a land so tormented and impoverished as Mexico—a country which, within the span of fifty-five years had lived under two "emperors," and some thirty-six presidents, nine "provisional presidents," ten dictators, twelve "regents," and five "supreme councilors"—required indeed a masterful intelligence and a masterful authority. Porfirio Diaz possessed and exercised both. He was, in fact, just the man for the times. An able administrator, stern and severe but just, rather reserved in manner and guarded in utterance, shrewd in the selection of associates, and singularly successful in his dealings with foreigners, he entered upon a "presidential reign" of thirty-five years broken by but one intermission of four—which brought Mexico out upon the highway to new national life.
Under the stable and efficient rulership of Diaz, "plans," "pronunciamentos," "revolutions," and similar devices of professional trouble makers, had short shrift. Whenever an uprising started, it was promptly quelled, either by a well-disciplined army or by the rurales, a mounted police made up to some extent of former bandits to whom the President gave the choice of police service or of sharp punishment for their crimes. Order, in fact, was not always maintained, nor was justice always meted out, by recourse to judges and courts. Instead, a novel kind of lynch law was invoked. The name it bore was the ley fuga, or "flight law," in accordance with which malefactors or political suspects taken by government agents from one locality to another, on the excuse of securing readier justice, were given by their captors a pretended chance to escape and were then shot while they ran! The only difference between this method and others of the sort employed by Spanish American autocrats to enforce obedience lay in its purpose. Of Diaz one might say what Bacon said of King Henry VII: "He drew blood as physicians do, to save life rather than to spill it." If need be, here and there, disorder and revolt were stamped out by terrorism; but the Mexican people did not yield to authority from terror but rather from a thorough loyalty to the new regime.
Among the numerous measures of material improvement which Diaz undertook during his first term, the construction of railways was the most important. The size of the country, its want of navigable rivers, and its relatively small and widely scattered population, made imperative the establishment of these means of communication. Despite the misgivings of many intelligent Mexicans that the presence of foreign capital would impair local independence in some way, Diaz laid the foundations of future national prosperity by granting concessions to the Mexican Central and National Mexican companies, which soon began construction. Under his successor a national bank was created; and when Diaz was again elected he readjusted the existing foreign debt and boldly contracted new debts abroad.
At the close of his first term, in 1880, a surplus in the treasury was not so great a novelty as the circumstance altogether unique in the political annals of Mexico-that Diaz turned over the presidency in peaceful fashion to his properly elected successor! He did so reluctantly, to be sure, but he could not afford just yet to ignore his own avowed principle, which had been made a part of the constitution shortly after his accession. Although the confidence he reposed in that successor was not entirely justified, the immense personal popularity of Diaz saved the prestige of the new chief magistrate. Under his administration the constitution was amended in such a way as to deprive the Chief Justice of the privilege of replacing the President in case of a vacancy, thus eliminating that official from politics. After his resumption of office, Diaz had the fundamental law modified anew, so as to permit the reelection of a President for one term only! For this change, inconsistent though it may seem, Diaz was not alone responsible. Circumstances had changed, and the constitution had to change with them.
Had the "United Provinces of Central America," as they came forth from under the rule of Spain, seen fit to abstain from following in the unsteady footsteps of Mexico up to the time of the accession of Diaz to power, had they done nothing more than develop their natural wealth and utilize their admirable geographical situation, they might have become prosperous and kept their corporate name. As it was, their history for upwards of forty years had little to record other than a momentary cohesion and a subsequent lapse into five quarrelsome little republics—the "Balkan States" of America. Among them Costa Rica had suffered least from arbitrary management or internal commotion and showed the greatest signs of advancement.
In Guatemala, however, there had arisen another Diaz, though a man quite inferior in many respects to his northern counterpart. When Justo Rufino Barrios became President of that republic in 1873 he was believed to have conservative leanings. Ere long, however, he astounded his compatriots by showing them that he was a thoroughgoing radical with methods of action to correspond to his convictions. Not only did he keep the Jesuits out of the country but he abolished monastic orders altogether and converted their buildings to public use. He made marriage a civil contract and he secularized the burying grounds. Education he encouraged by engaging the services of foreign instructors, and he brought about a better observance of the law by the promulgation of new codes. He also introduced railways and telegraph lines. Since the manufacture of aniline dyes abroad had diminished the demand for cochineal, Barrios decided to replace this export by cultivating coffee. To this end, he distributed seeds among the planters and furnished financial aid besides, with a promise to inspect the fields in due season and see what had been accomplished. Finding that in many cases the seeds had been thrown away and the money wasted in drink and gambling, he ordered the guilty planters to be given fifty lashes, with the assurance that on a second offense he would shoot them on sight. Coffee planting in Guatemala was pursued thereafter with much alacrity!
Posts in the government service Barrios distributed quite impartially among Conservatives and Democrats, deserving or otherwise, for he had them both well under control. At his behest a permanent constitution was promulgated in 1880. While he affected to dislike continual reelection, he saw to it nevertheless that he himself should be the sole candidate who was likely to win.
Barrios doubtless could have remained President of Guatemala for the term of his natural life if he had not raised up the ghost of federation. All the republics of Central America accepted his invitation in 1876 to send delegates to his capital to discuss the project. But nothing was accomplished because Barrios and the President of Salvador were soon at loggerheads. Nine years later, feeling himself stronger, Barrios again proposed federation. But the other republics had by this time learned too much of the methods of the autocrat of Guatemala, even while they admired his progressive policy, to relish the thought of a federation dominated by Guatemala and its masterful President. Though he "persuaded" Honduras to accept the plan, the three other republics preferred to unite in self-defense, and in the ensuing struggle the quixotic Barrios was killed. A few years later the project was revived and the constitution of a "Republic of Central America" was agreed upon, when war between Guatemala and Salvador again frustrated its execution.
In Brazil two great movements were by this time under way: the total abolition of slavery and the establishment of a republic. Despite the tenacious opposition of many of the planters, from about the year 1883 the movement for emancipation made great headway. There was a growing determination on the part of the majority of the inhabitants to remove the blot that made the country an object of reproach among the civilized states of the world. Provinces and towns, one after another, freed the slaves within their borders. The imperial Government, on its part, hastened the process by liberating its own slaves and by imposing upon those still in bondage taxes higher than their market value; it fixed a price for other slaves; it decreed that the older slaves should be set free; and it increased the funds already appropriated to compensate owners of slaves who should be emancipated. In 1887 the number of slaves had fallen to about 720,000, worth legally about $650 each. A year later came the final blow, when the Princess Regent assented to a measure which abolished slavery outright and repealed all former acts relating to slavery. So radical a proceeding wrought havoc in the coffee-growing southern provinces in particular, from which the negroes now freed migrated by tens of thousands to the northern provinces. Their places, however, were taken by Italians and other Europeans who came to work the plantations on a cooperative basis. All through the eighties, in fact, immigrants from Italy poured into the temperate regions of southern Brazil, to the number of nearly two hundred thousand, supplementing the many thousands of Germans who had settled, chiefly in the province of Rio Grande do Sul, thirty years before.
Apart from the industrial problem thus created by the abolition of slavery, there seemed to be no serious political or economic questions before the country. Ever since 1881, when a law providing for direct elections was passed, the Liberals had been in full control. The old Dom Pedro, who had endeared himself to his people, was as much liked and respected as ever. But as he had grown feeble and almost blind, the heiress to the throne, who had marked absolutist and clerical tendencies, was disposed to take advantage of his infirmities.
For many years, on the other hand, doctrines opposed to the principle of monarchy had been spread in zealous fashion by members of the military class, notable among whom was Deodoro da Fonseca. And now some of the planters longed to wreak vengeance on a ruler who had dared to thwart their will by emancipating the slaves. Besides this persistent discontent, radical republican newspapers continually stirred up fresh agitation. Whatever the personal service rendered by the Emperor to the welfare of the country, to them he represented a political system which deprived the provinces of much of their local autonomy and the Brazilian people at large of self-government.
But the chief reason for the momentous change which was about to take place was the fact that the constitutional monarchy had really completed its work as a transitional government. Under that regime Brazil had reached a condition of stability and had attained a level of progress which might well enable it to govern itself. During all this time the influence of the Spanish American nations had been growing apace. Even if they had fallen into many a political calamity, they were nevertheless "republics," and to the South American this word had a magic sound. Above all, there was the potent suggestion of the success of the United States of North America, whose extension of its federal system over a vast territory suggested what Brazil with its provinces might accomplish in the southern continent. Hence the vast majority of intelligent Brazilians felt that they had become self-reliant enough to establish a republic without fear of lapsing into the unfortunate experiences of the other Hispanic countries.
In 1889, when provision was made for a speedy abdication of the Emperor in favor of his daughter, the republican newspapers declared that a scheme was being concocted to exile the chief military agitators and to interfere with any effort on the part of the army to prevent the accession of the new ruler. Thereupon, on the 15th of November, the radicals at Rio de Janeiro, aided by the garrison, broke out in open revolt. Proclaiming the establishment of a federal republic under the name of the "United States of Brazil," they deposed the imperial ministry, set up a provisional government with Deodoro da Fonseca at its head, arranged for the election of a constitutional convention, and bade Dom Pedro and his family leave the country within twenty-four hours.
On the 17th of November, before daybreak, the summons was obeyed. Not a soul appeared to bid the old Emperor farewell as he and his family boarded the steamer that was to bear them to exile in Europe. Though seemingly an act of heartlessness and ingratitude, the precaution was a wise one in that it averted, possible conflict and bloodshed. For the second time in its history, a fundamental change had been wrought in the political system of the nation without a resort to war! The United States of Brazil accordingly took its place peacefully among its fellow republics of the New World.
Meanwhile Argentina, the great neighbor of Brazil to the southwest, had been gaining territory and new resources. Since the definite adoption of a federal constitution in 1853, this state had attained to a considerable degree of national consciousness under the leadership of able presidents such as Bartolome Mitre, the soldier and historian, and Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, the publicist and promoter of popular education. One evidence of this new nationalism was a widespread belief in the necessity of territorial expansion. Knowing that Chile entertained designs upon Patagonia, the Argentine Government forestalled any action by conducting a war of practical extermination against the Indian tribes of that region and by adding it to the national domain. The so-called "conquest of the desert" in the far south of the continent opened to civilization a vast habitable area of untold economic possibilities.
In the electoral campaign of 1880 the presidential candidates were Julio Argentino Roca and the Governor of the province of Buenos Aires. The former, an able officer skilled in both arms and politics, had on his side the advantage of a reputation won in the struggle with the Patagonian Indians, the approval of the national Government, and the support of most of the provinces. Feeling certain of defeat at the polls, the partisans of the latter candidate resorted to the timeworn expedient of a revolt. Though the uprising lasted but twenty days, the diplomatic corps at the capital proffered its mediation between the contestants, in order to avoid any further bloodshed. The result was that the fractious Governor withdrew his candidacy and a radical change was effected in the relations of Buenos Aires, city and province, to the country at large. The city, together with its environs, was converted into a federal district and became solely and distinctively the national capital. Its public buildings, railways, and telegraph service, as well as the provincial debt, were taken over by the general Government. The seat of provincial authority was transferred to the village of Ensenada, which thereupon was rechristened La Plata.
A veritable tide of wealth and general prosperity was now rolling over Argentina. By 1885 its population had risen to upwards of 3,000,000. Immigration increased to a point far beyond the wildest expectations. In 1889 alone about 300,000 newcomers arrived and lent their aid in the promotion of industry and commerce. Fields hitherto uncultivated or given over to grazing now bore vast crops of wheat, maize, linseed, and sugar. Large quantities of capital, chiefly from Great Britain, also poured into the country. As a result, the price of land rose high, and feverish speculation became the order of the day. Banks and other institutions of credit were set up, colonizing schemes were devised, and railways were laid out. To meet the demands of all these enterprises, the Government borrowed immense sums from foreign capitalists and issued vast quantities of paper money, with little regard for its ultimate redemption. Argentina spent huge sums in prodigal fashion on all sorts of public improvements in an effort to attract still more capital and immigration, and thus entered upon a dangerous era of inflation.
Of the near neighbors of Argentina, Uruguay continued along the tortuous path of alternate disturbance and progress, losing many of its inhabitants to the greater states beyond, where they sought relative peace and security; while Paraguay, on the other hand, enjoyed freedom from civil strife, though weighed down with a war debt and untold millions in indemnities exacted by Argentina and Brazil, which it could never hope to pay. In consequence, this indebtedness was a useful club to brandish over powerless Paraguay whenever that little country might venture to question the right of either of its big neighbors to break the promise they had made of keeping its territory intact. Argentina, however, consented in 1878 to refer certain claims to the decision of the President of the United States. When Paraguay won the arbitration, it showed its gratitude by naming one of its localities Villa Hayes. As time went on, however, its population increased and hid many of the scars of war.
On the western side of South America there broke out the struggle known as the "War of the Pacific" between Chile, on the one side, and Peru and Bolivia as allies on the other. In Peru unstable and corrupt governments had contracted foreign loans under conditions that made their repayment almost impossible and had spent the proceeds in so reckless and extravagant a fashion as to bring the country to the verge of bankruptcy. Bolivia, similarly governed, was still the scene of the orgies and carnivals which had for some time characterized its unfortunate history. One of its buffoon "presidents," moreover, had entered into boundary agreements with both Chile and Brazil, under which the nation lost several important areas and some of its territory on the Pacific. The boundaries of Bolivia, indeed, were run almost everywhere on purely arbitrary lines drawn with scant regard for the physical features of the country and with many a frontier question left wholly unsettled. For some years Chilean companies and speculators, aided by foreign capital mainly British in origin, had been working deposits of nitrate of soda in the province of Antofagasta, or "the desert of Atacama," a region along the coast to the northward belonging to Bolivia, and also in the provinces of Tacna, Arica, and Tarapaca, still farther to the northward, belonging to Peru. Because boundary lines were not altogether clear and because the three countries were all eager to exploit these deposits, controversies over this debatable ground were sure to rise. For the privilege of developing portions of this region, individuals and companies had obtained concessions from the various governments concerned; elsewhere, industrial free lances dug away without reference to such formalities.
It is quite likely that Chile, whose motto was "By Right or by Might," was prepared to sustain the claims of its citizens by either alternative. At all events, scenting a prospective conflict, Chile had devoted much attention to the development of its naval and military establishment—a state of affairs which did not escape the observation of its suspicious neighbors.
The policy of Peru was determined partly by personal motives and partly by reasons of state. In 1873 the President, lacking sufficient financial and political support to keep himself in office, resolved upon the risky expedient of arousing popular passion against Chile, in the hope that he might thereby replenish the national treasury. Accordingly he proceeded to pick a quarrel by ordering the deposits in Tarapaca to be expropriated with scant respect for the concessions made to the Chilean miners. Realizing, however, the possible consequences of such an action, he entered into an alliance with Bolivia. This country thereupon proceeded to levy an increased duty on the exportation of nitrates from the Atacama region. Chile, already aware of the hostile combination which had been formed, protested so vigorously that a year later Bolivia agreed to withdraw the new regulations and to submit the dispute to arbitration.
Such were the relations of these three states in 1878, when Bolivia, taking advantage of differences of opinion between Chile and Argentina regarding the Patagonian region, reimposed its export duty, canceled the Chilean concessions, and confiscated the nitrate deposits. Chile then declared war in February, 1879, and within two months occupied the entire coast of Bolivia up to the frontiers of Peru. On his part the President of Bolivia was too much engrossed in the festivities connected with a masquerade to bother about notifying the people that their land had been invaded until several days after the event had occurred!
Misfortunes far worse than anything which had fallen to the lot of its ally now awaited Peru, which first attempted an officious mediation and then declared war on the 4th of April. Since Peru and Bolivia together had a population double that of Chile, and since Peru possessed a much larger army and navy than Chile, the allies counted confidently on victory. But Peru's army of eight thousand—having within four hundred as many officers as men, directed by no fewer than twenty-six generals, and presided over by a civil government altogether inept—was no match for an army less than a third of its size to be sure, but well drilled and commanded, and with a stable, progressive, and efficient government at its back. The Peruvian forces, lacking any substantial support from Bolivia, crumpled under the terrific attacks of their adversaries. Efforts on the part of the United States to mediate in the struggle were blocked by the dogged refusal of Chile to abate its demands for annexation. Early in 1881 its army entered Lima in triumph, and the war was over.
For a while the victors treated the Peruvians and their capital city shamefully. The Chilean soldiers stripped the national library of its contents, tore up the lamp-posts in the streets, carried away the benches in the parks, and even shipped off the local menagerie to Santiago! What they did not remove or destroy was disposed of by the rabble of Lima itself. But in two years so utterly chaotic did the conditions in the hapless country become that Chile at length had to set up a government in order to conclude a peace. It was not until October 20, 1883, that the treaty was signed at Lima and ratified later at Ancon. Peru was forced to cede Tarapaca outright and to agree that Tacna and Arica should be held by Chile for ten years. At the expiration of this period the inhabitants of the two provinces were to be allowed to choose by vote the country to which they would prefer to belong, and the nation that won the election was to pay the loser 10,000,000 pesos. In April, 1884, Bolivia, also, entered into an arrangement with Chile, according to which a portion of its seacoast should be ceded absolutely and the remainder should be occupied by Chile until a more definite understanding on the matter could be reached.
Chile emerged from the war not only triumphant over its northern rivals but dominant on the west coast of South America. Important developments in Chilean national policy followed. To maintain its vantage and to guard against reprisals, the victorious state had to keep in military readiness on land and sea. It therefore looked to Prussia for a pattern for its army and to Great Britain for a model for its navy.
Peru had suffered cruelly from the war. Its territorial losses deprived it of an opportunity to satisfy its foreign creditors through a grant of concessions. The public treasury, too, was empty, and many a private fortune had melted away. Not until a military hand stronger than its competitors managed to secure a firm grip on affairs did Peru begin once more its toilsome journey toward material betterment.
Bolivia, on its part, had emerged from the struggle practically a landlocked country. Though bereft of access to the sea except by permission of its neighbors, it had, however, not endured anything like the calamities of its ally. In 1880 it had adopted a permanent constitution and it now entered upon a course of slow and relatively peaceful progress.
In the republics to the northward struggles between clericals and radicals caused sharp, abrupt alternations in government. In Ecuador the hostility between clericals and radicals was all the more bitter because of the rivalry of the two chief towns, Guayaquil the seaport and Quito the capital, each of which sheltered a faction. No sooner therefore had Garcia Moreno fallen than the radicals of Guayaquil rose up against the clericals at Quito. Once in power, they hunted their enemies down until order under a dictator could be restored. The military President who assumed power in 1876 was too radical to suit the clericals and too clerical to suit the radicals. Accordingly his opponents decided to make the contest three-cornered by fighting the dictator and one another. When the President had been forced out, a conservative took charge until parties of bushwhackers and mutinous soldiers were able to install a military leader, whose retention of power was brief. In 1888 another conservative, who had been absent from the country when elected and who was an adept in law and diplomacy, managed to win sufficient support from all three factions to retain office for the constitutional period.
In Colombia a financial crisis had been approaching ever since the price of coffee, cocoa, and other Colombian products had fallen in the European markets. This decrease had caused a serious diminution in the export trade and had forced gold and silver practically out of circulation. At the same time the various "states" were increasing their powers at the expense of the federal Government, and the country was rent by factions. In order to give the republic a thoroughly centralized administration which would restore financial confidence and bring back the influence of the Church as a social and political factor, a genuine revolution, which was started in 1876, eventually put an end to both radicalism and states' rights. At the outset Rafael Nunez, the unitary and clerical candidate and a lawyer by profession, was beaten on the field, but at a subsequent election he obtained the requisite number of votes and, in 1880, assumed the presidency. That the loser in war should become the victor in peace showed the futility of bloodshed in such revolutions.
Not until Nunez came into office again did he feel himself strong enough to uproot altogether the radicalism and disunion which had flourished since 1860. Ignoring the national Legislature, he called a Congress of his own, which in 1886 framed a constitution that converted the "sovereign states" into "departments," or mere administrative districts, to be ruled as the national Government saw fit. Further, the presidential term was lengthened from two years to six, and the name of the country was changed, finally, to "Republic of Colombia." Two years later the power of the Church was strengthened by a concordat with the Pope.
Venezuela on its part had undergone changes no less marked. A liberal constitution promulgated in 1864 had provided for the reorganization of the country on a federal basis. The name chosen for the republic was "United States of Venezuela." More than that, it had anticipated Mexico and Guatemala in being the first of the Hispanic nations to witness the establishment of a presidential autocracy of the continuous and enlightened type.
Antonio Guzman Blanco was the man who imposed upon Venezuela for about nineteen years a regime of obedience to law, and, to some extent, of modern ideas of administration such as the country had never known before. A person of much versatility, he had studied medicine and law before he became a soldier and a politician. Later he displayed another kind of versatility by letting henchmen hold the presidential office while he remained the power behind the throne. Endowed with a masterful will and a pronounced taste for minute supervision, he had exactly the ability necessary to rule Venezuela wisely and well.
Amid considerable opposition he began, in 1870, the first of his three periods of administration—the Septennium, as it was termed. The "sovereign" states he governed through "sovereign" officials of his own selection. He stopped the plundering of farms and the dragging of laborers off to military service. He established in Venezuela an excellent monetary system. Great sums were expended in the erection of public and private buildings and in the embellishment of Caracas. European capital and immigration were encouraged to venture into a country hitherto so torn by chronic disorder as to deprive both labor and property of all guarantees. Roads, railways, and telegraph lines were constructed. The ministers of the Church were rendered submissive to the civil power. Primary education became alike free and compulsory. As the phrase went, Guzman Blanco "taught Venezuela to read." At the end of his term of office he went into voluntary retirement.
In 1879 Guzman Blanco put himself at the head of a movement which he called a "revolution of replevin"—which meant, presumably, that he was opposed to presidential "continuism," and in favor of republican institutions! Although a constitution promulgated in 1881 fixed the chief magistrate's term of office at two years, the success which Guzman Blanco had attained enabled him to control affairs for five years—the Quinquennium, as it was called. Thereupon he procured his appointment to a diplomatic post in Europe; but the popular demand for his presence was too strong for him to remain away. In 1886 he was elected by acclamation. He held office two years more and then, finding that his influence had waned, he left Venezuela for good. Whatever his faults in other respects, Guzman Blanco—be it said to his credit—tried to destroy the pest of periodical revolutions in his country. Thanks to his vigorous suppression of these uprisings, some years of at least comparative security were made possible. More than any other President the nation had ever had, he was entitled to the distinction of having been a benefactor, if not altogether a regenerator, of his native land.
CHAPTER VIII. "ON THE MARGIN OF INTERNATIONAL LIFE"
During the period from 1889 to 1907 two incidents revealed the standing that the republics of Hispanic America had now acquired in the world at large. In 1889 at Washington, and later in their own capital cities, they met with the United States in council. In 1899, and again in 1907, they joined their great northern neighbor and the nations of Europe and Asia at The Hague for deliberation on mutual concerns, and they were admitted to an international fellowship and cooperation far beyond a mere recognition of their independence and a formal interchange of diplomats and consuls.
Since attempts of the Hispanic countries themselves to realize the aims of Bolivar in calling the Congress at Panama had failed, the United States now undertook to call into existence a sort of inter-American Congress. Instead of being merely a supporter, the great republic of the north had resolved to become the director of the movement for greater solidarity in thought and action. By linking up the concerns of the Hispanic nations with its own destinies it would assert not so much its position as guardian of the Monroe Doctrine as its headship, if not its actual dominance, in the New World, and would so widen the bounds of its political and commercial influence—a tendency known as "imperialism." Such was the way, at least, in which the Hispanic republics came to view the action of the "Colossus of the North" in inviting them to participate in an assemblage meeting more or less periodically and termed officially the "International Conference of American States," and popularly the "Pan-American Conference."
Whether the mistrust the smaller countries felt at the outset was lessened in any degree by the attendance of their delegates at the sessions of this conference remains open to question. Although these representatives, in common with their colleagues from the United States, assented to a variety of conventions and passed a much larger number of resolutions, their acquiescence seemed due to a desire to gratify their powerful associate, rather than to a belief in the possible utility of such measures. The experience of the earlier gatherings had demonstrated that political issues would have to be excluded from consideration. Propositions, for example, such as that to extend the basic idea of the Monroe Doctrine into a sort of self-denying ordinance, under which all the nations of America should agree to abstain thereafter from acquiring any part of one another's territory by conquest, and to adopt, also, the principle of compulsory arbitration, proved impossible of acceptance. Accordingly, from that time onward the matters treated by the Conference dealt for the most part with innocuous, though often praiseworthy, projects for bringing the United States and its sister republics into closer commercial, industrial, and intellectual relations.
The gathering itself, on the other hand, became to a large extent a fiesta, a festive occasion for the display of social amenities. Much as the Hispanic Americans missed their favorite topic of politics, they found consolation in entertaining the distinguished foreign visitors with the genial courtesy and generous hospitality for which they are famous. As one of their periodicals later expressed it, since a discussion of politics was tabooed, it were better to devote the sessions of the Conference to talking about music and lyric poetry! At all events, as far as the outcome was concerned, their national legislatures ratified comparatively few of the conventions.
Among the Hispanic nations of America only Mexico took part in the First Conference at The Hague. Practically all of them were represented at the second. The appearance of their delegates at these august assemblages of the powers of earth was viewed for a while with mixed feelings. The attitude of the Great Powers towards them resembled that of parents of the old regime: children at the international table should be "seen and not heard." As a matter of fact, the Hispanic Americans were both seen and heard—especially the latter! They were able to show the Europeans that, even if they did happen to come from relatively weak states, they possessed a skillful intelligence, a breadth of knowledge, a capacity for expression, and a consciousness of national character, which would not allow them simply to play "Man Friday" to an international Crusoe. The president of the second conference, indeed, confessed that they had been a "revelation" to him.
Hence, as time went on, the progress and possibilities of the republics of Hispanic America came to be appreciated more and more by the world at large. Gradually people began to realize that the countries south of the United States were not merely an indistinguishable block on the map, to be referred to vaguely as "Central and South America" or as "Latin America." The reading public at least knew that these countries were quite different from one another, both in achievements and in prospects.
Yet the fact remains that, despite their active part in these American and European conferences, the Hispanic countries of the New World did not receive the recognition which they felt was their due. Their national associates in the European gatherings were disinclined to admit that the possession of independence and sovereignty entitled them to equal representation on international council boards. To a greater or less degree, therefore, they continued to stay in the borderland where no one either affirmed or denied their individuality. To quote the phrase of an Hispanic American, they stood "on the margin of international life." How far they might pass beyond it into the full privileges of recognition and association on equal terms, would depend upon the readiness with which they could atone for the errors or recover from the misfortunes of the past, and upon their power to attain stability, prosperity, strength, and responsibility.
Certain of the Hispanic republics, however, were not allowed to remain alone on their side of "the margin of international life." Though nothing so extreme as the earlier French intervention took place, foreign nations were not at all averse to crossing over the marginal line and teaching them what a failure to comply with international obligations meant. The period from 1889 to 1907, therefore, is characterized also by interference on the part of European powers, and by interposition on the part of the United States, in the affairs of countries in and around the Caribbean Sea. Because of the action taken by the United States two more republics—Cuba and Panama—came into being, thus increasing the number of political offshoots from Spain in America to eighteen. Another result of this interposition was the creation of what were substantially American protectorates. Here the United States did not deprive the countries concerned of their independence and sovereignty, but subjected them to a kind of guardianship or tutelage, so far as it thought needful to insure stability, solvency, health, and welfare in general. Foremost in the northern group of Hispanic nations, Mexico, under the guidance of Diaz, marched steadily onward. Peace, order, and law; an increasing population; internal wealth and well-being; a flourishing industry and commerce; suitable care for things mental as well as material; the respect and confidence of foreigners—these were blessings which the country had hitherto never beheld. The Mexicans, once in anarchy and enmity created by militarists and clericals, came to know one another in friendship, and arrived at something like a national consciousness.
In 1889 there was held the first conference on educational problems which the republic had ever had. Three years later a mining code was drawn up which made ownership inviolable on payment of lawful dues, removed uncertainties of operation, and stimulated the industry in a remarkable fashion. Far less beneficial in the long run was a law enacted in 1894. Instead of granting a legal title to lands held by prescriptive rights through an occupation of many years, it made such property part of the public domain, which might be acquired, like a mining claim, by any one who could secure a grant of it from the Government. Though hailed at the time as a piece of constructive legislation, its unfortunate effect was to enable large landowners who wished to increase their possessions to oust poor cultivators of the soil from their humble holdings. On the other hand, under the statesmanlike management of Jose Yves Limantour, the Minister of Finance, the monetary situation at home and abroad was strengthened beyond measure, and banking interests were promoted accordingly. Further, an act abolishing the alcabala, a vexatious internal revenue tax, gave a great stimulus to freedom of commerce throughout the country. In order to insure a continuance of the new regime, the constitution was altered in three important respects. The amendment of 1890 restored the original clause of 1857, which permitted indefinite reelection to the presidency; that of 1896 established a presidential succession in case of a vacancy, beginning with the Minister of Foreign Affairs; and that of 1904 lengthened the term of the chief magistrate from four years to six and created the office of Vice President.
In Central America two republics, Guatemala and Costa Rica, set an excellent example both because they were free from internal commotions and because they refrained from interference in the affairs of their neighbors. The contrast between these two quiet little nations, under their lawyer Presidents, and the bellicose but equally small Nicaragua, Honduras, and Salvador, under their chieftains, military and juristic, was quite remarkable. Nevertheless another attempt at confederation was made. In 1895 the ruler of Honduras, declaring that reunion was a "primordial necessity," invited his fellow potentates of Nicaragua and Salvador to unite in creating the "Greater Republic of Central America" and asked Guatemala and Costa Rica to join. Delegates actually appeared from all five republics, attended fiestas, gave expression to pious wishes, and went home! Later still, in 1902, the respective Presidents signed a "convention of peace and obligatory arbitration" as a means of adjusting perpetual disagreements about politics and boundaries; but nothing was done to carry these ideas into effect.
The personage mainly responsible for these failures was Jose Santos Zelaya, one of the most arrant military lordlets and meddlers that Central America had produced in a long time. Since 1893 he had been dictator of Nicaragua, a country not only entangled in continuous wrangles among its towns and factions, but bowed under an enormous burden of debt created by excessive emissions of paper money and by the contraction of more or less scandalous foreign loans. Quite undisturbed by the financial situation, Zelaya promptly silenced local bickerings and devoted his energies to altering the constitution for his presidential benefit and to making trouble for his neighbors. Nor did he refrain from displays of arbitrary conduct that were sure to provoke foreign intervention. Great Britain, for example, on two occasions exacted reparation at the cannon's mouth for ill treatment of its citizens.