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prevent the traffic. Under the provision of the constitution, authorizing congress to define and punish piracy, an act was passed, extending the definition and the punishment of that crime to the slave trade.
The year 1820 being the period for taking the fourth census, the necessary provisions were made this session, for that purpose.
consequence of the very loose and imperfect manner in which former censuses had been taken, the enumerators under the present act, were required to make personal inquiry of one of the heads of each family, or at their dwelling houses, of the number and description of persons belonging to their respective families, on the first Monday of August, 1820, distinguishing the number of persons engaged in agriculture, commerce, and manufactures, respectively; and describing the several manufacturing establishments, and their productions, within their respective districts.
After a laborious and interesting session, of something more than five months, congress adjourned, on the 12th of May, to the second Monday in November. The two great subjects, which almost exclusively occupied their attention, the tariff, and the Missouri question, were both of a sectional character, and both terminated in conformity to the wishes of the south,
Kepublics of southern America-Their importance, extent, situation while
Spanish provinces, as to commerce, religion, political information, intercourse--Commencement and progress of the revolution-Their systems of government-Neutral policy of the United States-Perilous situation of American citizens, taken and sent to Spain-Agents sent by the American government to ascertain the progress of the revolution-Their reportTheir independence recognized-Remonstrance of the Spanish ministerCommunications of the American to the Europoan governments, on the subject-Views of Great Britain, and the other European powers-Presirent's message on the subject of European interference-Noticed by the English and French journals-Independence recognized by Great Britain Difficulties experienced in settling their internal governments-Proposition for a general congress at Panama-United States invited to send envoys-Correspondence on the subject-Invitation accepted-Envoys nominated-Debates in congress relating to the mission-Meeting of the congress at Panama-Their proceedings-Adjournment to Tacubaya.
South America. The situation of the republics of south. ern America, late provinces of Spain, since the com. mencement of their struggle for independence, has ever been regarded by the government and people of the United States, with great anxiety. Few events in the history of nations, are of greater importance than that revolution. In a political view, it is an extension of the American principles of civil government, over a great and growing country. It establishes them in the west, beyond a possibility of a doubt; and affords a fair promise of their ultimate success in the eastern hemisphere. It introduces into the family of nations seven large and flourishing republics, whose citizens have hitherto been excluded from the commerce of the world, and of whom very little was known, except their existence. In a commercial view, it opens a field to engage the enterprize, labor, and capital of other nations, the ex. tent of which cannot be foreseen.
Territory. The territory of these republics now extends from the forty-second degree of north latitude, to the southern extremity of the continent, on the parallel of fiftysix south, a distance of upwards of six thousand miles, and something more than one quarter of the circumference of the globe. Their greatest breadth is about two thousand miles. They embrace the whole American continent south of the southern boundary of the United States, with the exception of the empire of Brazil and Surinam. The number of inhabitants, though not accurately known, is estimated at twenty millions. Government under Spain. The Spanish colonial
system had been gradually extending itself over this region from the discovery of Columbus, at the close of the fifteenth, to the commencement of the nineteenth century. In the mean time, Spain herself, from being one of the first and most powerful monarchies in Europe, had degenerated into one of the weakest and most insignificant. Her great object has been, to enrich and aggrandize herself from her colonies. The prominent features in the management of her ultra-marine possessions have been, to exclude them from all commercial and social intercourse with other nations; foreigners found there without the permission of government, were subject to capital punishment; to draw into the national treasury the whole profits of their mines, the principal wealth of the country; and to prohibit the inhabitants from raising or manufacturing any thing, even for their own consumption, which it was convenient for the mother country to supply. The colonial department was under the superintendence of a board of Spanish grandees, denominated the council of Indies, whose edicts, issuing from their hall of session in Spain, controlled the affairs of the provinces. The executive power, the administration of justice, the collection of the revenue, and their ecclesiasti. cal affairs, were conducted by a numerous-train of officers, natives of old Spain, who could make interest with the council of the Indies, to enable them to enrich themselves with the spoils of the new world. The country was divided into numerous vice-royalties, no otherwise connected than as subjects of the same oppressive government of the parent state. The population was of a mixed character, and of four grades; natives of old Spain; persons born in the country of Spanish parents; original inhabitants; and Creoles, the offspring of the union of Spaniards with the natives.
The Spanish Roman Catholic creed, in all its bigotry, was the established religion, and the only one tolerated in the provinces. The governing principle of this system was, to keep the people in ignorance of every thing, except what the ecclesiastics, under the direction of their supreme pontiff, should teach. All political and religious discussion was not only discouraged, but prohibited. The maxim, that the more ignorant the people, the more easily they might be
governed, had been practiced upon for four centuries, and at the commencement of the nineteenth, exhibited, with many exceptions, a weak and debased population. Not. withstanding the efforts of the Spanish authorities to ex. clude political information, the revolutions which had taken place, the last half century, and the principles upon which they were bottomed, became partially known in the provinces. Some of their inhabitants had received their edu. cation; others had traveled in the United States and in Europe, and returned with principles ill adapted to their colonial and depressed state.
Revolution. In the year 1810, after a series of misfor. tunes, the Spanish nation submitted to the yoke of Napo. leon, who placed his brother Joseph on the throne. This afforded a pretext and a favorable opportunity for a revolution in the provinces. It commenced at this period in Buenos Ayres, and gradually extended through the whole of the Spanish American continent. A civil war was the consequence, which continued with various and alternate success, until 1826, when it resulted in the expulsion of every hostile Spaniard from the country; the parent state, at the same time, passing through a series of disastrous revolutions, in every one of which, however, the reigning power exerted its utmost efforts to subjugate the colonies.
The last armament destined for that object, assembled at Cadiz in 1819, refused to embark, and joined the patriots of their own country, in resisting the despotism of Ferdinand. During the last short period that the cortes exercised the sovereignty of Spain, they appeared equally indisposed to the independence of America. Their scheme was to govern it in a milder and more palateable manner, by admitting a representation from the colonies to a general cortes, which was to be considered as the supreme authority of both Spains. But as this assembly was to hold its sessions in old Spain, whose representation would be more than double that of new, the latter immediately perceived that the proposition was delusive, and of no practical benefit to them, and rejected the measure. The cortes, in February, 1822, published a declaration, announcing to all other governments that any recognition of the independence of their ultra-marine provinces would be viewed as an act of hostility against Spain, who had relinquished none of her claims up them. The province of Buenos Ayres, which has since assumed the name of the Argentine republic, declared itself independent in 1816. The other provinces, at different periods since that time, have followed the example; and Spanish America now consists of seven distinct republics, independent of their parent state, and of each other. * The fifteen years war carried on by them with the mother country, while progressing from a colonial to an independent state, was without a general concert or union under a federal head; each republic raising, organizing, and paying their respective troops, in such numbers and manner as they thought proper; and employing them, for the most part, in defending their own territory, but occasionally assisting their neighbors.
Systems of government. The systems of government framed during this revolutionary period, were imperfect imitations of the American constitutions, resembling the originals in the distribution of the powers of government, and in the appointment of the public functionaries. Perpetual slavery was prohibited. They all had one great and radi. cal defect, evincing the low state of political and religious knowledge, and the influence of a bigoted hierarchy; the Roman Catholic religion was declared to be the only true system of faith, and ordained as such by their constitutions, to the exclusion of all others. The most that men of liberal minds could obtain on this head was, that it should be di. vested of some of the rigors of the Spanish inquisition, and that the other sects should be partially tolerated. This period of their history exhibits several melancholy instances of internal commotion, attended with bloodshed, when not under immediate pressure from a foreign enemy. At times they had recourse to the appointment of a dictator, with temporary despotic powers. Simon Bolivar, the most prominent character during the later periods of the revolution, has occasionally been vested with supreme power by several of the republics. They style him the Washington of the south; it yet remains, however, to be determined by his future conduct, to what extent, and in what respects, he resembles the great prototype.
Policy of the United States towards them. In every stage of this contest, the efforts of the patriots have been seconded by the ardent wishes of the American people, while the policy adopted by the government was that of a rigid neutrality. No political connections were formed with
* Buenos Ayres, Colombia, and Mexico, on the Atlantic; Chili, Peru, and Bolivia, on the Pacific; and Central America bounded on both oceans.