Abbildungen der Seite

above the level of the sea, is at once revealed to him in all its indescribable loveliness. He goes over the same ground trodden by the feet of Cortez and his followers. He is on the same errand, that of subjugation and conquest. He entered the capital with a pomp seldom seen. Amid the clangor of bells and the roar of artillery, the imperial cortege wound its way through streets spanned with arches, and adorned with the flags of all nations, to the Cathedral. There the solemn services were to be performed which should consecrate the new government. But it was observed that it was the Church party and its adherents that caused all the enthusiasm. Among the multitude of mottoes and inscriptions borne by them, and scattered over the city, the political influence to be attempted upon Maximilian was apparent. He was apostrophized, not as the founder of a new dynasty, but as the defender of the faith and the bulwark of the Catholic Church.

The ceremonies ended, Maximilian sat himself down to his “ splendid but difficult task.” He attempted two things, neither of which was successful. He tried to improve the finances of the country, and he invited Juarez and other Republican leaders to meet him at the Capitol and there devise the best means for the establishment of the empire. The finances certainly needed oversight. They were in a chaotic state. No revenue flowed into the public treasury, and none was likely to. A committee was appointed, to whom the grave question was referred. But the committee did no good. They were unable to grapple with so hard a question. If they had been men of financial ability, it would have been pretty difficult work to squeeze from the Mexican treasury a quarter part of the money required. As it was, they went to discussing general principles. It was easier to do this than to solve the knotty problems set before them. The result was, that the Emperor was accused of appointing them as a pretext for establishing despotic rule, on the ground that popular bodies could not deal with practical questions.

The attempt to bring over the Liberal leaders met with no better success. All of them refused to hold any communication with the “ agent of Napoleon.” Juarez replied to the invitation with great dignity :" You cordially invite me to go to Mexico, a city whither you yourideas; he removed the restrictions from the press. On his return he did another thing, which indicated the character of the war and the designs of France : he determined to treat all opponents of the monarchy as bandits, and to exterminate them. He came to this conclusion, as he alleged, from observation that his government was based upon the will of an immense majority of the people, and that this majority desired above all things peace. Up to this time he had shown leniency, now he must protect the nation with an iron arm. He therefore commanded “all functionaries, magistrates, and military authorities” to annihilate the Liberals by all means in their power.

There cannot be the slightest excuse for the promulgation of so barbarous a mandate. It was against the laws of war. But it was the legitimate result of what was intended from the beginning, — the determination to crush out all attempts to restore liberty in Mexico.

The government of Maximilian has been recognized by the powers of Europe. It was hoped by Napoleon that by this time it would stand alone. Will it ever stand alone? Let us see. It has lost the support of the party that has for forty years made and unmade governments in Mexico, and which, with a marvellous aptitude for change, is now actively plotting to overturn this its last work. The people are against it. Juarez, their representative, retreating and fighting with no idea of submission, still struggles with an undaunted tenacity of purpose. If we believe the French press, the Liberals were conquered in 1864. If we trust to the French Minister, resistance, localized at some points, has now lost all national color. It has become but a question of brigandage, which will be readily put down by a well-organized system of police. If we rely upon events, it is seen that Maximilian requires as large an army as ever in order to hold his place on the throne. But the one thing more alarming than all the rest is the state of his finances.

Before Maximilian left for Mexico he signed a contract at Miramar between himself and Napoleon. After providing that the French troops in Mexico shall be reduced as soon as possible to a corps of twenty thousand men including the Foreign Legion, and that the Foreign Legion in the service of France, composed of eight thousand men, shall nevertheless remain in Mexico sis years after all the other French troops shall have been recalled, it stipulates as follows:

“ Art. 7. So long as the requirements of the French corps d'armée shall necessitate a tri-monthly service of transports between France and Vera Cruz, the expense of said service, fixed at the sum of 400,000 francs per voyage going and returning, shall be paid by Mexico."

“ Art. 9. The expenses of the French expedition to Mexico, to be paid by the Mexican government, are fixed at the sum of 270,000,000 francs for the whole duration of the expedition down to the first day of July, 1864. This sum shall bear interest at the rate of five per cent. From the 1st of July all the expenses of the French army shall be at the charge of Mexico.”

“* Art. 10. The indemnity to be paid to France by the Mexican government for the pay and maintenance of the troops of the corps d'armée after the first day of July, 1864, remains fixed at the sum of one thousand francs a year for each man.”

** Art. 14. The Mexican government engages to indemnify French subjects for the wrong they have unduly suffered, and which was the original cause of the expedition.”

In addition to this, he had to pay his own current expenses, (for after the first day of July, 1864, the whole burden fell upon him,) which, according to the official paper of the capital, would amount to the sum of $40,000,000 per annum.* Now what had Maximilian with which to meet this debt as it became due? He could not tax the people. The official gazette admitted that there was but little money in the country, and that it would be useless to attempt it. He must depend upon the revenue, or make a loan. What are the revenues of Mexico? M. de Aranriez, formerly Minister of Finance, made a report to Maximilian upon this extremely interesting question. From this report it is evident that the total revenue of Mexico from all sources would not amount to more than ten or eleven millions of dollars. So disheartened was Maximilian by this financial embarrassment, that he sent a letter to Napoleon asking the assistance

* We have not taken into account in this estimate the claim of England, amounting to about $ 16,800,000, or the Spanish claim, amounting to about $8,000,000, both of which must be paid, if France succeeds in establishing Maximilian.

of practical business-men to establish the credit of his government, and he afterwards sent Don Eustaquio Barron to Europe to raise funds. In 1864 the French government attempted to raise the first loan for him of 120,000,000 francs; and supposing he got the whole of it, he had already, in the shape of current expenses, interest, &c., a debt of 125,000,000 francs, which must be paid. But if it was necessary to raise this loan in 1864, it will be necessary to raise another, and still another, until the bubble bursts, for the country is no more selfsustaining to-day than it was when Maximilian first went to Mexico. At the beginning of the present year it was asserted " that the imperial government had exhausted the last loan, and that it is existing upon the precarious receipts daily collected from all quarters. So serious are the necessities of the government, that but a short time ago Marshal Bazaine, acting, it is said, upon orders received from France, loaned out of the French funds in this country $300,000 to the Emperor.”

Of such momentous importance is this financial matter, that the present Minister of Finance announced semi-officially that the existence of the government depended on the success of a new loan. Before the new loan can be effected, however, Napoleon must convince the capitalists who are to lend, that their money will be safe. To do this he must show them that the work of pacification is going on, that all parties are gradually rallying round him, and that the government will be self-sustaining.

But Mexico is not pacified, and the Liberal army is not crushed. Letters received from the capital as late as April 3d of this year, from reliable sources, state that, according to calculations made from official reports, there were fought during the first seven months following the arrival of Maximilian, between the Liberals and the Imperialists, one hundred and twenty-two battles, in which 1,300 men were wounded and 3,277 killed. That during the year 1865 the number of engagements reached three hundred and twenty-two, in which 1,279 were wounded and 5,674 were reported as killed. The total number of battles, therefore, fought since Maximilian had accepted" from the majority of the Mexican nation the voluntary offer of the throne," a period of only nineteen months, is

four hundred and forty-four, in which 2,650 were wounded and 8,951 killed. Two facts appear from these statements. The contest is growing more deadly. From the small number reported as wounded in comparison with the number killed, it is evident no quarter is given to the wounded. Juarez is able to carry on a constant and stubborn warfare. In addition to this, it appears from the same sources that, under Maximilian's policy of exterminating the Liberals, the loss of life by executions is even greater than that in battle. If the negotiation of the new loan depends upon the fact that Maximilian is pacifying Mexico, it will never be made. The only thing that remains, therefore, if the loan fails, is to make a forced loan from the Mexican people, – a result by no means improbable, and of which they stand in great fear.

It is well understood, that through a long period, up to the end of the year 1860, the power of the United States and the sentiment of the people in respect to foreign interference in American affairs was sufficient to protect Mexico against foreign aggression. It is just as well understood, that the time of the rebellion in the United States was seized upon by France as opportune to begin its attack upon Mexico. The expedition follows close upon the heels of the rebellion. Our government, intent upon putting this rebellion down, and to the eyes of European governments deprived of its weight thereby, was thought not to be in a position to object to any conquests planned by them. Nevertheless, explanations were at once required of France by the United States as to the objects proposed by it. France answered, that it was a war for the redress of grievances; that she did not intend permanently to remain in or occupy Mexico, and that she should leave to the people a free choice of their institutions of government.

This is the language which the French government, through its minister, held then, and has held to this day. To be sure, it does not agree with the ideas expressed in the letter of Napoleon to Forey. If that letter can be understood, the great object of the expedition was to restore to the Latin race its former prestige on this continent, as an offset to the development of the Anglo-Saxon. This object was to be attained, not by imposing on the Mexican people a government obnoxious to them, but

« ZurückWeiter »