Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak. — John Adams

Young Folk's History of Mexico - Frederick Ober




Mexico after the Empire

Fear, even terror, possessed all those who had taken an active part in the foreign intervention, when they saw the inflexible determination the patriots had taken to sweep every obstacle from their path. This terrible government had not hesitated to destroy Prince Maximilian, brother of the Emperor of Austria; it had not halted for a moment in its stern resolve to plant the flag of liberty in the capital of the republic.

Now in power, with all its enemies within its grasp, those traitors who had aided foreigners in destroying domestic government had every reason to fear the most terrible reprisals. But, after the fever of victory had cooled, moderate measures prevailed, and though several hundred of the opposition were imprisoned, but few were condemned to death, and most of these eventually escaped punishment. Vidaurri, the traitor governor of a northern State, was an expiatory victim, while the arch-traitor of all, Marquez, escaped to Havana with his ill-gotten wealth. Before the end of the year 1867 the government had settled down to the work of reconstruction; it issued decrees for the payment of the internal debt, for the construction of railroads, for the organization of public instruction, and a change in the coinage at the public mints.

On the 25th of December Don Benito Juarez, in accordance with the expressed will of the people in a majority of votes for president, renewed possession of the executive.

Village scene in Mexico.
STREET SCENE IN MEXICO.


The principal event of this year, after the establishment of government, was the attempt to excite rebellion by no less a personage than Santa Anna. The coming of Maximilian had found him an exile in Cuba and the island of Saint Thomas. He at once offered his services to the emperor, but, being badly received, was converted into a decided enemy, and, after coming to the United States, he tendered his assistance to Juarez. Rejected by the Liberals, he determined to organize a rebellion against the government, and chartered a steamer for Yucatan, where, instead of friends he found enemies; he was seized, incarcerated in the fortress at Vera Cruz, and after trial condemned to death, which sentence was commuted by Juarez to eight years of exile. He returned to Mexico in 1874, under shelter of the general proclamation of amnesty, and died in obscurity in 1877.

The first days of the new government were pacific, but unfortunately there soon commenced contentions among the Liberals themselves. The first cause of serious trouble was the necessary retrenchment of the military, and the disbanding and sending to their homes of the greater portion of the army. The brigades of Generals Diaz and Riva Palacio—who had rendered distinguished services—were disbanded, and these commanders retired to their homes in disgust. In the month of January, 1868, a rebellion appeared in Yucatan, which was only crushed by the energetic action of General Alatorre with a government force of two thousand men. In the state of Sinaloa there broke out a rebellion of threatening proportions, which was likewise quelled by the constitutional army.

The gravest complications arose with the states of Zacatecas and San Luis Potosi, as also of Jalisco and Queretaro. In San Luis, on the 15th of December, 1869, Colonel Aguirre, with a large force of regular troops, pronounced  against the government, and seized large supplies of material of war. The Governor of Zacatecas and also the legislature declared against the federal authorities, and between them there soon appeared an army of eight thousand men. Rebel leaders also rose up in the states of Mexico, Hidalgo and Morelia, signs of disturbance were visible in Puebla, a party attacked Orizaba, another appeared at Jalapa; it appeared for the time as if the country was to return to the state of anarchy in which the intervention had found it. But the star of the federal government was in the ascendant; it successively met and defeated the rebels, dispersed the rank and file and shot the leaders, and within three months the disturbances were quelled, and Peace folded her wings for a while above the unhappy country. For the unprecedented period of seven months the country was unvexed by revolutions, but continued to be infested with criminals of every sort, notwithstanding numerous executions by the government. Peace was preserved, not so much by the exertions of those in power as by the people themselves, who were looking forward to the prospective presidential election, and holding themselves ready to act according to the emergency of the moment. It soon became evident that Juarez would not willingly yield the power he had obtained at so much risk and bloodshed, and would hold himself up for re-election. He had two formidable opponents in his own party—the conservative party not yet presuming to reassert itself. These were: Don Sebastian Lerdo de Tejada, and General Porfirio Diaz.

Senor Lerdo was one of the most remarkable men of the epoch in which he exerted an influence. He was born in Jalapa in 1825, and educated in Mexico. A lawyer by profession, he was elected, in 1855, a magistrate of the Supreme Court, and in 186r a deputy to Congress. In 1863 he departed from the capital in company with Juarez, a member of that immortal cabinet that for foul years followed the fortunes of their chief, and strove to uphold the principles of the constitution during that dark period of adversity. His firm character contributed more than anything else to the success of the plans of Juarez, and these two formed an invincible force that eventually overcame the machinations of the enemies of their country. He was certainly entitled to the consideration of the leaders of the Liberal party, and deserved well of the people he had so nobly battled for to conserve as a nation.

Portrait of Lerdo de Tejada.
PORTRAIT OF LERDO DE TEJADA.


There were then, the followers of Juarez—Juaristas;  those of Lerdo—Lerdistas—who opposed the principle of re-election as anti-democratic; and a party of the opposition, mainly officers of the army, who fixed upon Porfirio Diaz, and hence called themselves Porfiristas, or "Constitutionalists."

In the beginning of 1870 the principal papers of the republic took sides with one party or the other, and party quarrels were soon commenced. In May, 1871, the first of the series of pronunciamientos  declared itself at Tampico, when the federal garrison pronounced against the constitutional government. Troops were sent against them, and a battle resulted, in which more than six hundred men were either killed or wounded. The most terrible of the rebellions against constitutional authority was that which took place in the capital on the 1st of October, in, which the rebels got possession of the citadel, containing arms and military stores, armed nearly six hundred prisoners liberated from the jail of Belem, and bade defiance to the upholders of the laws. President Juarez was left nearly alone in the palace, surrounded by a small guard, but he preserved his habitual calmness and serenity, quickly summoned his faithful generals, and made preparations for bringing the rebels to order. The citadel was attacked tacked and carried at the point of the bayonet, but only after great loss, the dead and wounded on both sides amounting to nearly eight hundred men. The customary executions of culpable leaders followed, and peace was temporarily restored.

Meican saw-mill
MEICAN SAW-MILL


[A. D. 1871] On the 12th of October Juarez was declared re-elected, obtaining a majority of votes through many deputies refraining from voting. In order to show that it really was what the opposition were pleased to call an "electoral farce" it will only be necessary to glance at the annexed figures. The electoral districts, according to the census, contained 8,836,411 inhabitants. The total number of votes cast was 12,361, of which Juarez received 5,837, Diaz 3,555, and Lerdo 2,874. The re-election of Juarez was the signal for the discontented of the other two parties, into which the Liberals were divided, to resort to arms. Some had hoped that his re-election would be the sign of peace, others had contended that it would be a signal for civil war. "The truth is," says the historian, whose narrative we are mainly following (himself a Mexican), "that the peace in Mexico will never be consolidated until they learn to respect invariably the law, and so long as those who lose continue to appeal to arms." Well may the disinterested spectator have concluded, with those foreign leaders who united to intervene in Mexican politics, that the Mexicans could not—nor would they ever be able to—govern themselves. The friend of Mexico, viewing the affairs of that time at a distance, may well have despaired of the political regeneration of her people. More than a thousand men—without regarding previous revolutions—had been killed in the year 1871, in a time of peace; yet these headstrong leaders again rushed to arms, prepared to desolate the country in a prolonged fratricidal strife! On the 8th of November General Diaz issued a manifesto at his hacienda of Noria—hence called the "Plan of Noria"—in which he called for an "Assembly," to bring about a new order of things. Outbreaks and rebellions followed close upon this manifesto, and the end of 1871 saw the country again in disturbance, rebels swarming everywhere, and Diaz hiding in the mountains about Mexico. In an encounter between Juarez and Diaz troops, in the last days of December, nearly nine hundred men were put hors de combat, and many brave officers were killed and wounded. The right arm of the government at this time was General Rocha, who was continually fighting the rebels, first in one part of the country and then in another, making prodigious marches and performing most difficult feats of arms with his veteran soldiers.

The real, or pretended cause of the disaffection of the people (as we have seen) was the electoral question. Though the great services of Juarez were generally recognized, yet his long continuance in power, and his continued arbitrary acts, had now disgusted the people of the several states. They looked upon him as a despot, many of them, and regarded his retention of the presidential chair as unconstitutional. The campaign against the revolutionists continued twelve or fourteen months, but by the end of May, 1872, the country was nearly pacified.

Scene in the tierra templada, or temperate country
SCENE IN THE TIERRA TEMPLADA, OR TEMPERATE COUNTRY.


[A. D. 1872.] An unexpected event brought all revolutionary proceedings to a close, in July, by the removal of the cause. On the eighteenth of that month, death suddenly visited President Juarez, and transferred this incorruptible patriot to a higher court. His remains were interred with great solemnity on the 23d of July, over four thousand persons taking part in the funeral ceremonies.

His successor, President Lerdo (President of the Court of Justice), was quietly installed, and the functions of government were as regularly performed as before. No radical change occurred, Senor Lerdo carrying out the plans of his predecessor, appealing to the nation to observe the cause of reform, and issuing a general amnesty, under which those yet in rebellion came in and gave themselves up, and resistance to lawful authority ceased. The commission appointed by Congress to decide upon the matter declared Lerdo to be the constitutional president, he having received ro,465 votes, against 678 cast for Diaz.

[A. D. 1873.] In January, 1873, the Mexican railroad, connecting the city of Mexico with Vera Cruz, was inaugurated. This road, now for the first time thrown open to the public, had been sixteen years in process of construction, and was a work of such magnitude that it is even now considered a marvel of engineering skill. Early in the commercial history of Mexico, the necessity had been felt for improved means of communication between the coast and the capital. A "concession," (the first) had been granted so far back as 1837; in 1842 Santa Anna declared an additional duty of two per cent of the customs for the benefit of this and other highways; in 1851 two or three miles had been constructed; in 1857 the concession passed into the hands of Senor Escandon, a capitalist of Mexico; in 1864 this right was ceded to the "Imperial Mexican Company," recognized by Maximilian, and in 1867 (when but forty-seven miles were completed) the Juarez government annulled its privileges for treating with a foreign power; these were, however, restored, in 1858, and the work went on. The difficulties encountered were almost insuperable, but, under the direction of English and Mexican engineers, the mountains were successfully scaled, and the capital of Mexico placed in connection with its chief seaport by January 1, 1873. The direct line is two hundred and sixty-three miles in length, and with the branch to the city of Puebla, about three hundred miles.

The year 1872 was noted for the number of its assassinations and for the abductions of prominent citizens. One well-known citizen of the capital was abducted in one of the streets of the city and incarcerated in a dungeon under most cruel conditions. The governor acted vigorously with the abductors, who were captured and shot. In May, 1873, the passions of the people were excited by the severe treatment and expulsion of some Jesuits from the country.

It was in 1874, in the month of March, that the first Protestant martyr, John L. Stephens, was murdered by Roman Catholic fanatics, in the town of Ahualulco. The introduction of the Bible into Mexico, and the dissemination of Christian ideas was the work of devout men who followed in the track of the American army, in 1847. Until that time the centuries of darkness had been unilluminated by biblical truth.

At about the same time that Mr. Stephens was assassinated, two commercial travellers were murdered on the highway; their murderers were caught and summarily shot, while those of the Protestant minister were allowed to escape, though condemned to death. The native historian naively states it in the following words: "The governor and authorities displayed much activity and the assassins of Bartholy were apprehended and shot; those of Stephens were condemned to death!"

The Protestant Episcopal Church, in 1871, sent out a missionary, in the person of Rev. H. C. Riley, and mission work was initiated in Mexico. He was closely followed by Presbyterian missionaries, Baptists, Congregationalists, and Methodists. The latter sect has been, undoubtedly, the most successful, and to them the field is virtually conceded. In the city of Mexico they were granted a portion of a vast old conventual structure, and the government—notwithstanding the opposition of the Romish Church—exhibited a friendliness that was encouraging. Churches, chapels and mission-houses have been erected and congregations formed, until at the present time there are over two hundred preachers in the field, the majority being native Mexicans. They have not escaped persecution, and rarely a year passes that some missionary is not murdered. In spite of the fact that the Roman Catholics are not in power, they manage to keep alive the slumbering embers of fanaticism, and every few months fan it into a flame that is not extinguished save with the blood of a Protestant.

To the credit of the present government, it must be said that it endeavors faithfully to protect the new sects it encouraged to enter this wide field. The Methodists, under Rev. Dr. Butler, publish an excellent Christian paper, and are indefatigable in their efforts to extend the gospel of truth and righteousness.

Save for the operations of guerillas, in remote and unprotected districts, and a rising against federal authority in Michoacan and Sinaloa—which rebellions lasted nearly eighteen months—the years of 1874 and 1875 passed by without disturbance. An arbitrary act of the government,—the expulsion from the territory of the Sisters of Charity, in 1874—again brought the religious question before the press, and awoke the most bitter feelings in the breasts of the people. Though the government defended its actionby the plea of the necessity of making thorough work of the religious orders, and urged the same objections against the Sisters of Charity as against the Jesuits—namely, that they were in the service of the Pope, and secretly undermining the lawful government of Mexico—yet one cannot help feeling that a more gentle treatment could have been found available. Disregarding all petitions and entreaties, the authorities forced above three hundred of these unfortunate Sisters to leave the country, and seek asylums in other lands, in January and February, 1875. This cruel edict of expulsion revived anew the long-buried passions of many, and gave rise to several insurrections, notably that of Michoacan.

[A. D. 1875.] The army had become by this time well-Presidency of Lerdo de Tejada. drilled and an efficient power, chiefly owing to the indefatigable exertions of General Rocha, who had saved the government from its enemies when struggling against foes raised against it from its own ranks. He was now denounced as designing to use this effective military organization to place himself in power, and thrown into prison. During his short term in prison he may have had occasion to reflect upon the ingratitude of his country, and to pass in review the sad endings of the lives of preceding patriots, from Guerrero to Comonfort, and Mexia.

During 1875 disturbances arose on the border between Mexico and the United States, and the former power exhibited her desire to mete out justice by ordering her general in command in that section (Tamaulipas) under arrest. In August of the same year Chiapas, a state in the south, bordering on Guatemala, was invaded by a renegade Mexican with a force from Guatemala. Though this invasion was promptly met and the force destroyed, yet it was the occasion of reopening the question of territory between the two republics of Mexico and Guatemala. The latter republic laid claim to Chiapas, or at the least the province of Soconusco, and the question is still pending between the two governments, though with every probability of being settled by the retention of this territory as a portion of Mexico.

The years 1874 and 1875 were attended with a less number of murders and crimes in general than any preceding epoch, and the offenders met with more speedy and impartial punishment, yet the list of crimes is by no means small. The important events of this period were the going forth of an expedition to observe the transit of Venus, and the appropriation by Congress of $300,000 to properly represent Mexico at the coming Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Floods and earthquakes vexed the country, during 1875; but the march of improvement, which had commenced on the advent of the Party of Reform, continued its uninterrupted progress.

In December, 1874, a decree of Congress gave to Senores Camacho and Mendizabel a concession for a railroad to Leon. This was the initiatory movement which has resulted in that grand enterprise, a railroad from the capital of Mexico to her northern frontier, at El Paso. Already, in 1873, the question of granting subsidies to railroads to be built by American capitalists had been discussed in Congress. The English railroad, from Vera Cruz to the capital, received an annual benefaction of $560,000; and but for this aid would never have been built, or, if built, could not have been operated. A lottery was established in aid of the new enterprise, called the "Lottery of the Central Railroad." Roads, railways, and telegraph lines continued to be built and started, until, to-day, Mexico is covered with a network of wires, and dissected in every portion by real and projected roads. Under the wise and energetic government of Senor Lerdo, the peace of the country had been preserved and commerce protected. Mexico now began to assert her ancient claim to be considered among the great exporting nations of the world. In the fiscal year ending in 1875 the exports from the port of Vera Cruz amounted to $16,375,586, of which $14,000,000 were in silver ore and gold.

[A. D. 1876.] Towards the end of 1875 it became apparent that the state of peace could not long continue; in fact, the year that brought to us, of the United States, the hundredth anniversary of our independence, was to find unhappy Mexico again plunged into civil war. The inspiring genius of this unfortunate movement, which had for its object the overthrow of the heads of government, was General Porfirio Diaz, who, from a place of security on the border, directed the revolutionary operations. Instigated by him and his chiefs, rebellions multiplied so fast that the distracted government knew not in which direction to send its troops. The principal of these were the insurrections of the Indians of Oaxaca—birthplace of Diaz—and of Jalisco. From Sonora to Yucatan, the Porfiristas were rising. We have seen that General Diaz retired disappointed to his hacienda, at the disbanding of troops, and in his seclusion, it seems, he had formed his plan for a return to the possession of the power he thirsted to obtain. Murders, assassinations, robberies and abductions were now once more rife in the country, which so recently had enjoyed a short interval of peace, and it seemed as though all the battles of the past fifty years would require to be fought over again. Space forbids even an enumeration of the pronunciamientos  of this period. The train to Vera Cruz was stopped, on the 19th of March, and the commander of its escort foully murdered, while all communication with that seaport was for a time interrupted.

General Porfirio Diaz.
GENERAL PORFIRIO DIAZ.


In a paper published in Mexico—"The Nineteenth Century"—appeared on the 7th of May, 1876, the "Plan" of General Diaz, dated from Palo Blanco (state of Tamaulipas), in which were denounced the President of the Republic, the Congress and the recognized authorities. This man found a pretext for his revolutionary acts in the declaration that Lerdo did not merit a re-election. A large body of the people shared in this idea, but it was more in accordance with Mexican character to desire a change than to appreciate stability and peace. No fault was found with Senor Lerdo, save that he had retained in his cabinet the old ministers of Juarez, who had become obnoxious to the people, simply from the fact that they had been in office so long! Rotation in office seems to have been a fixed principle in Mexican ideas of government. To state it in brief: the political and military revolutionary leaders of Mexico regarded more highly the benefits accruing from an office than the office itself; and now, disregarding the fact that the country was well governed, sought the overthrow of its leader that they themselves might have a share in the spoils. We have seen similar demagogues in power in our own country; but the difference between them lies mainly in the fact that in one country they appeal to arms, and in the other to the votes of the people; in Mexico many are haply slain before they accomplish much harm; in the United States they run their corrupt careers to the bitter end.

Several bloody actions ensued between the government and the rebel forces, in which hundreds were killed and wounded. Alatorre and Escobedo were the prominent generals on the Federal side, while Gonzalez, Trevino, and Hernandez were conspicuous as leaders of the rebels. Diaz returned to Mexico at much personal risk, and fleeing to his native hills of Oaxaca, there organized an immense force of the Indians of the sierras, and commenced a march upon the capital. He had previously been defeated in battle in New Leon, whence he had escaped to New Orleans, and thence to Oaxaca, via Vera Cruz.

The popular election for president took place in July, 1876, in which, in every district not occupied by Porfirista  forces, Lerdo obtained the majority of votes. This popular verdict was sanctioned in September by the electoral college, after a stormy debate, declaring Senor Lerdo de Tejada the constitutional President of Mexico by a vote of 123 to 49.

With a barren treasury, with a country swarming with enemies, and an active foe at the very gates of the capital, Senor Lerdo held no very enviable position. On the 16th of November General Alatorre was defeated by Gonzalez, of the Porfirista  army, at Tecoac, near Puebla, and this event caused the president to decide upon evacuating (though perhaps temporarily) the city of Mexico. On the 20th he left the city, accompanied by his cabinet and some influential persons, and on the 24th General Porfirio Diaz entered it, at the head of his army.

The so-called constitutional army was composed mainly of the Indians of the sierras (hills) of Oaxaca and Puebla, half-clad and incompletely armed—the very off-scourings of the population—and partly of government troops who had been seduced by Diaz.

At this time there were actually three presidents  in Mexico, each with his cabinet, and each invoking in his favor the Constitution of 1857. Difficult (says the native historian) is it for the impartial chronicler, much less the youthful reader, to comprehend who was in the right in this political labyrinth. It does not seem difficult to the impartial reader of another nation to decide. On the side of law and order was Lerdo, the constitutionally elected President of the Republic; against him was the usurper, Diaz, at the head of a revolutionary army; and the former president of the Supreme Court of Justice, Jose Iglesias, who was vainly endeavoring to have himself recognized as supreme ruler.

It does not seem possible that President Lerdo could have had any intention of abandoning the trust committed in him by the people. When we remember his noble bearing during the trying times when in the persecuted cabinet of Juarez, and his firmness in dealing with the foreign invaders, we cannot but wonder at his pusillanimity in deserting the capital without offering resistance to Diaz. It is probable that prudence prevailed over ambition, and that, unwilling to involve his fellow-citizens in bloodshed, he retired until some peaceable solution of the question might present itself. Not meeting with that reception in the interior which he may have reasonably expected—a reaction having set in amongst his own adherents of the military class—he sadly turned his footsteps to the western coast, and taking steamer at Acapulco sought refuge in the United States.

We now see Diaz, who had pronounced, not only against Juarez—owing to not having been the object of military preferment—but against Lerdo upon equally trivial pretext—in possession of supreme power in the capital. With a large army at his disposal—for the native Mexican will fight equally well under any leader, and Lerdo's most faithful troops were now most ardent Porfiristas—Diaz soon put down all opposition, and intrenched himself in an impregnable position.

[A. D. 1877.] Previous to sallying forth from the capital to meet the troops of Iglesias, at Queretaro, Diaz named as second general-in-chief of the "constitutional "army, and Provisional President of the Republic, Senor Juan Mendez. Upon the return of Diaz from his northern expedition, his minion, Mendez, issued a call for a convocation for the election of president. The result was that General Porfirio Diaz was "unanimously" declared "constitutional President" of the Republic, on the second day of May, 1877.

The manner of his election cannot fail to bring to mind that Junta of Notables of the Church party, which appointed the Regency, which in turn confirmed in power the aforenamed Junta, which precipitated the French intervention.

The constant state of inquietude on the border, on both sides of the Rio Grande, excited in the minds of many Mexicans the fear that their neighbors of the United States meditated another invasion of their territory. But, notwithstanding the numerous outrages committed by lawless parties of both republics, and the necessity of sending our troops across the border to punish hostile Indians and cattle thieves, no serious complication resulted.

The last revolutionary chief who had vaulted into the presidential chair in Mexico was not at first recognized by the United States.

General Diaz at first experienced considerable difficulty in reorganizing his cabinet, and it was not until the admission of Matias Romero to the management of the affairs of the Hacienda—or public treasury—that anything like order was restored. The conservative party had not yet re covered from its terrible defeat, but the Liberals still continued divided. They were now known as Porfiristas, Tuxtepecanos, and Lerdistas. The former were the intimate friends of Diaz, who were now recipients of rewards for their devotedness to his interests; the second insisted upon his recognizing the "plans," or pretexts, by which he had placed himself in power; the third party was composed of friends of Lerdo, the only legally-elected president. After a few ineffectual protests, the latter abandoned the field and left the usurper in possession.

Market scene, City of Mexico.
MARKET SCENE, CITY OF MEXICO.


[A. D. 1878.] General Diaz, though he had attained his triumph upon the "Plan of Tuxtepec," made no actual changes in the form of government as pursued by his predecessor. His pretext had served his purpose, and had elevated him to command. Policy dictated that he should govern according to the laws of the Constitution of 1857. His own interests demanded that he should place himself at the front of the progressive movement. He had the sagacity of Santa Anna as well as the firmness of that oft-elected ruler of Mexico; and there is no doubt, had occasion demanded it, he would have striven as hard to regain his position, had he been overthrown at the outset. But the times had changed since the days of Santa Anna; the people had grown weary of fighting; they cared little who ruled them, so long as he appeared to rule wisely. Hence it was that Diaz was not sent into exile within a short period, and continued in power till the end of the term for which he had elected himself. Not that there were not the usual number of disturbances in distant districts; not that there were not rebellions and pronunciamientos by disaffected partisans who were neglected in the distribution of offices! On the contrary, many of these occurred, but they were soon quelled, owing to the loyalty of the army, which Diaz had completely won. The first of these who adopted Diaz own tactics against himself was one Lomeli, in Jalisco. Then there was a serious movement on the frontier, headed by no less a personage than General Escobedo, who looked to a restoration of the banished president, Lerdo. This grand old warrior, a second Guerrero, was made prisoner, and incarcerated finally in the prison of Santiago. This seems to have been the fate of nearly every Mexican commander who fought upon principle, and refused to change his colors with every successful usurper of supreme power.

In March, 1869, there was a serious outbreak in the military district of Tepic, which the government put forth great exertions to subdue, and in June, of the same year, the war steamer Liberty  pronounced against the administration of Tuxtepec. This event caused for awhile; terror end confusion on the coast, as it was something new in the annals of pronunciamientos, which until this time had been entirely on land. A material crisis was brought about soon, by which there was placed in power, as Secretary of War, General Manuel Gonzalez. This able lieutenant of Diaz had resided in retirement on his hacienda since the battle of Tecoac, at which action he was wounded. His services had not been forgotten by the president, who now rewarded him, paving the way (as we shall shortly see) for his elevation to the highest office in the power of the nation to bestow.

[A. D. 1879.] The rebellion of Tepic, being at that time unsubdued, General Gonzalez, in December, 1879, was placed in command of a numerous and well-appointed army, and succeeded in bringing the inhabitants of that territory to terms. He also prepared the way for the peaceful progress of the election for president, which had now begun to agitate the country. It happened now (as had ever been the case) that a period of calm preceded this important event, the people refraining from arms, and holding themselves in readiness to respond to their various leaders when the result of the election should be proclaimed.

As has been remarked in an early stage of Mexican independence, military prestige  is essential to success in Mexican politics. This is no less true at present than in the early years of the republic, and those who were manipulating the preliminaries for General Gonzalez well understood this fact. His pacification of the territory of Tepic and his good standing with the army won for him half the battle. Although the papers of the country were exceedingly bitter in their controversies, yet there were no scenes of bloodshed enacted. The president and the army were with Gonzalez, and who, then, could oppose him?

[A. D. 1880.] On the 30th of November, General Diaz yielded the power he had wielded since the battle of Tecoac to his successor, the hero of that battle, and General Gonzalez became ruler of Mexico. Much astonishment has been expressed that Diaz did not secure—what he undoubtedly could have done—a reelection. But this he could not have done consistently with the principles he professed to believe in, for he had combated Lerdo upon the basis of no reelection. He resigned the reins of government into the hands of his friend, Gonzalez, with good grace, more especially as he still continued de facto  President of Mexico.

To those who believe General Diaz capable of committing the great sacrifice of voluntarily giving up what it cost him so much to obtain, and that pure patriotism dictated his act of abdication, it will only be necessary to point out a certain amendment to the constitution:

"The president will enter upon his duties on the 1st of December, and will remain in office four years. He will not be eligible for reelection for the period immediately succeeding, neither shall he occupy the presidency, for any reason, until four years have passed  without his exercising executive functions."

Upon his retirement from the presidency Diaz was provided with a place in the cabinet, as "Minister of Fomento," or public works, and the next year was installed as governor of the State of Oaxaca, by orders of the central government.

A noteworthy event in the commercial history of Mexico was the arrival in the capital of a party of nearly one hundred and forty merchants and commercial men of Chicago, in January, 1879. Their coming was hailed by the Mexicans as an omen of increasing prosperity, and the western capitalists were every where treated with that courtesy and attention their exalted position merited.

A year later, in February, 1880, General Grant, ex-president of the United States, concluded his extended tour around the world by visiting Mexico. He was received, like the business men from Chicago, with the vivas  of an enthusiastic people. Processions were formed in his honor, and he was lodged and fed at the cost of the municipality. His visit was without political significance, although certain seditious leaders of opinion in Mexico disseminated the foolish report that he desired to eventually establish himself as dictator in that country. That his motives were friendly towards Mexico was conclusively proven in the following year, when he returned to that country empowered by some New York capitalists, to secure a concession for a railroad, who encouraged by the success attending the construction of the Vera Cruz railway shortly commenced active operations which paved the way for other railway enterprises, the completion of which ultimately succeeded in raising the previous total of the government revenues from $18,000,000 to over $31,000,000 annually.

[A. D. 1880–81.] To the revenues at this time the ten percent tax on the National Lottery contributed $33,000, while that omnipresent nuisance, the stamp tax, yielded little less than $4,000,000 per annum. To tickets of every description, railway or theatre, the objectionable stamp was affixed, on each page of cash-book or ledger it confronted the reader, while a receipt was invalid unless the "sticker "was attached. The total of all the taxable property in the state now amounted to $382,364,414, and it was the boast of the government party that with the exception of the payments on account of the national debt, every dollar of revenue was applied to the development of the country. The foreign debt, exclusive of that owing to the United States—towards the liquidation of which $300,000 was paid yearly—amounted to about $100,000,000 and unpaid interest due the English bondholders. The enemies of the government, however, continued to charge the executive and departmental officials with gross corruption, many intelligent Mexicans openly expressing their regret at Maximilian's fate, while public opinion was largely divided as to whether a republican or monarchical form of government was the best.

[A. D. 1882.] In August of this year the President of the Republic of Guatemala becoming satisfied upon visiting Washington that he could not obtain the active interference of the United States government in the dispute between his own country and Mexico, jointly signed with Senor Romero who represented Mexico—a treaty in which he recognized that Chiapas, the territory in dispute, lawfully belonged to Mexico. It was then stipulated that the boundaries between the two countries should be the ones then recognized by both. By treaty of Sept. 27th, the line of demarcation was agreed upon, with the understanding that in case of future disagreement the differences of the two countries should be submitted to the arbitration of the United States government.

[A. D. 1883.] The United States commissioners consisting of Gen. U. S. Grant, and Mr. W. H. Trescott who were appointed in 1882 to negotiate a commercial treaty with Mexico, in conjunction with the Hon. Matias Romero, Mexican minister to Washington and the Hon. Estanisiao Canedo, concluded their labors 23rd January. Though signed by the presidents of both countries the committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives at Washington reported upon the treaty adversely. No further legislative action having been taken upon it, its provisions became imperative in 1887 through efflux of time, notwithstanding the insistent demands made by the English bondholders for the issue of 20,000,000 sterling of "three per cents" to meet Mexico's accumulating foreign indebtedness. The government rejected the proposition offering as a compromise 18,000,000 which was as flatly refused. Meanwhile marked evidences of industrial progress

were almost universal. Railway extension had opened up the coal fields of Michoacan, the Pennsylvania of Mexico, and the locomotive had at last reached the skirts of the cedar forests of Chihuahua, the border line of the great pine region. Eighteen thousand miles of telegraph wire were in profitable operation, sixteen hundred telephone instruments in the capital attested to the expansion of urban trade, startling reports of extraordinary discoveries came from the gold fields of Sonora, and from the Cerro del Mercado at Durango, the growing exportation of tin to the United States warranted the prediction of extraordinary trade possibilities.

Between 1879 and 1884 the average annual value of exports of all the precious minerals amounted to $25,000,000. The annual output from all the mines exceeded $35,000,000. Of this the silver mines contributed nearly $30,000,000. During the last three hundred years the silver mines of Zacateca alone are credited with having produced ore to the value of one thousand million dollars. The one thousand mines in active operation now employed over 200,000 men. Recent exploration disclosed the fact that the metaliferous deposit at Durango consisted of an enormous hill of magnetic iron estimated to contain 60,000,000 cubic yards of ore. The great opal beds on the hacienda La Esperanza later yielded gems of the annual value of $Ioo,000. The mines of Guanajuato though worked for years showed no signs of exhaustion while the very surface of the earth in the state of Guerrero was pronounced to be an extensive crust of gold and silver of incalculable value. The volcano of Popocatapetl proved to be a vast pyramid of sulphur; Puebla revealed the importance of its famous quarries of white and colored marbles, and creek and canon surrendered their quota of turquoise, garnet, topaz and amethyst. Of the total of all exports which amounted to $41,807, 595, one-fifth was shipped to the United States from which country Mexico received in return merchandise to the value of $16,587,000. The trade between the two countries had quadrupled within the decade.

[A. D. 1884.] Notwithstanding the commercial fact that the resources of the country were proving to be of inestimable value, and that nothing could check the natural expansion of trade, stagnation in ordinary business marked the period of Manuel Gonzalez, tenure of office, and open rebellion was nipped in the bud only by prompt detection and by the imprisonment of the conspirators. The treasury was exhausted, the customs heavily mortgaged, the salaries of the government officials in arrear, the floating debt increased, and the President was openly accused of flagrant breaches of executive trust. While the exact amount has never been definitely ascertained, Griffin is authority for the statement that Gonzalez accumulated nearly $10,000,000 during his public career, a sum representing a poll-tax of a dollar per head on the population.

The prospect, however, of the reaccession of Diaz to the presidency inspired a renewal of confidence. Great Britain who had withdrawn her representative at the time of French intervention was willing to renew diplomatic relations and a commercial treaty between the two nations was concluded in August. Though a run on the Monte de Piedad bank had resulted in the suspension of that institution and had alarmed the mercantile classes it did not interrupt the negotiations carried on by the new Consolidated National Bank for the floating of a European loan of $20,000,000. The arrangement though was dependent on the issue of 17,000,000 of new Mexican bonds, 14,448,000 of which was to be applied to the cancellation of the old outstanding debts of 1851 and 1837. When Congress, however, found that the charges for conversion were placed at 2,792,000, the discrepant amount was considered outrageous, and the bill was rejected.

Before the close of the year, direct railway communication was established with the United States. Thirty distinct lines covering varying distances and of an aggregate length of 5,792 kilometres were now in existence.

At the presidential election which occurred in September, out of the 16,462 votes cast, Porfirio Diaz received 15,969, a victory made the more remarkable by the fact that his opponents resorted to every questionable method to compass his defeat. Unpardonable and vile measures were adopted, assassination even, being attempted. But with Gonzalez' retirement the political atmosphere was measurably purged of corruption and intrigue, and Mexico stood at the threshold of the open doorway ready to "enter upon the Golden Age." The prospect that confronted the new President was not an encouraging one. The treasury was empty, and worse still, the republic was without credit, and heroic measures were needed to restore foreign confidence. But Diaz's character shone by contrast with the record left by his immediate predecessor. Few great leaders, according to a high authority, whether military or political, have been so seldom accused of mistakes. Neither blinded by ambition nor dazzled by power, nor puffed up by success, General Diaz had stood firmly to the principles which he avowed when first entering on his official career. Credited with possessing in a remarkable degree a rare measure of practical sense, with a wonderful insight into the complex natures of men and things, he was also liberally endowed with the clearness of head necessary to direct, and the strength of will to enforce. He was regarded by the people as a patriotic and honest man, and if not the social equal by right of birth with the descendants of the older aristocracy, he was at least regarded by the grandees as loyal to the republic and ambitious for her prosperity.

The Pompeian apartments at Chapultepec were restored, and there, together with his handsome wife—the daughter of Manuel Romero Rubio—and in spite of the tragic associations that yet cling to the place, owing to Carlotta's and Maximilian's ill-timed occupancy, the President took up his residence.

[A. D. 1885.] To the trained mind of Diaz it was quickly evident that the time had come for heroic treatment and drastic reforms. The national debt, which now amounted to $125,000,000 imposed an annual charge upon the treasury of $4,500,000 for interest, and as the financial embarrassment was daily increasing, the President issued a decree, making the cash payment of taxes compulsory, and forbidding the acceptance of custom house certificates, in order to make the withdrawal from circulation of notes and bills possible, and which liability constituted the floating debt. The treasury also was authorized to issue $25,000,000 six percent bonds, payable in twenty-five years, and the debt of about $65,000,000 owing to the English bondholders was now admitted. By an act passed in December, the privilege of purchasing government land en bloc  was extended. The limit for any one individual was placed at 6,177 acres, legal age was made a necessary qualification, but the payment of the purchase money could be made in ten annual installments. Free grants of 247 acres were also offered to resident colonists conditionally upon the cultivation of one-tenth of the whole for five consecutive years.

The opportunities offered by these liberal land laws encouraged speculation. In addition to the 1,600 square miles of ranch land already acquired by an English syndicate at a cost of 2,000,000, the International Company, comprised chiefly of Americans, secured a tract of 17,000,000 acres of land in Lower California, at Ensenada de Todos Santos (All Saint's Bay), and a railway of 100 miles in length was soon in course of construction in order to connect Ensenada and San Diego.

The legislature which was distinctly anti-clerical now introduced a compulsory education bill, and the ecclesiastical party, heretofore repressed, again showed active hostility to the enactments of the government. The priests, contrary to law, participated—in sacerdotal garb—in religious public processions, but were subsequently fined and imprisoned for their indiscretions. It should be remembered that the foundation of the Roman Catholic Church dated back to 1517, the year that Yucatan was discovered by Francisco Hernandez de Cordova, the Cuban, the first bishop, Fray Juan de Zumaraga being appointed in 1530. When Cortez conquered the country, acting under the instructions of Ferdinand and Isabella, Charles V. and Pope Alexander, he essayed, with the help of army, priest and the grim co-operation of the Inquisition to Christianize it. The zeal he displayed in the evangelistic work was only excelled by that of the succeeding Spanish viceroys. In 1574 "twenty one pestilent Lutherans" were incinerated for the cause of religion. "The work was completed in the spirit of the age, indeed, in such a manner that when the books are opened and the last seal broken, the cries of the heathen will most probably drown the anthems of the saints." In 1820 the Inquisition was suppressed forever in Mexico, in 1856 came the expulsion of the Jesuits, and in 1874 the suppression of the Sisters of Charity which was followed by the complete separation of church and state. The spontaneous movement of 1869 among certain members of the Roman Catholic Church, who had insisted that the time had arrived for greater liberty of conscience, a purer worship, and a better church organization, resulted in the establishment of the first Episcopal mission, and the encouragement of Protestantism, "as a set-off to the aggressive attitude of the Catholic Church." While the unfortunate priests were languishing in the gaols of Mexico in 1885, for parading the thoroughfares in their clerical vestments, an incongruous spectacle was in progress at Guadeloupe, where, on the anniversary of the appearance of the Holy Virgin to the shepherds, the festival was celebrated with cocking-mains, gambling and bull-fights.

The deliberations of the Diaz administration were not, however, exclusively taken up in the discussion and disposition of vexed religious questions or matters of finance, for the belligerent attitude of the Yaqui Indians on the frontier created a serious diversion. In an encounter with Mexican troops, four hundred of the latter, together with General Garcia the commanding officer, were slaughtered, while the raiding hostilities of the Apaches of the Sierra Madre necessitated prompt preparations for a campaign. Added to these and other complicating disturbances, water-spouts, inundations, grasshoppers and drought locally afflicted the land. A terrible stench, as of sulphur fumes, made life in the cities of Mexico, Puebla and Vera Cruz, for a time, unbearable. The gases which were supposed to have been the result of subterranean combustion, escaped from the craters of the neighboring volcanoes, but in Oajaca the phenomenon was precluded by an earthquake.

The projected invasion of Salvador, by the armies of Guatemala, was interrupted at the outset of hostilities by the death of General Barrios, the President, who was killed at the battle of Cachuhualta—it was so stated by his own officers—and the troops were withdrawn, and Guatemala's efforts to force a union of the Latin Republics in Central America having failed, the Mexican government was relieved of the alleged necessity for armed intervention.

Disaffection on account of the attitude of the government in regard to the recognition of the debt due the English bondholders, was now resented as evidenced by class agitation. In the city of Mexico the students who were loud in their denunciation of the recognition of the liability, finally revolted, order not being restored until some of the ringleaders, together with a few sympathetic editors were imprisoned for their pains. In October, the Liberal deputies who comprised the opposition, created a political disturbance, by a persistent and reiterated demand for a verbal explanation in regard to the vast sales of the national lands. The written explanation, submitted by the minister of public works, proving altogether unsatisfactory, a signed document was presented to the House impeaching ex-president Gonzalez for malfeasance of office and misuse of public funds, when, "upon its reception, and in the midst of wild confusion the House adjourned," the resolution being finally transmitted by Congress to the grand jury section of the legislative body. The real trouble, however, arose over the question of the powers of the executive in regard to the organization of the army, the opposition contending that the responsibility, properly speaking, was vested in Congress itself. A resolution was also submitted, which, if carried, would have repudiated the English debt. It was defeated overwhelmingly.

The prophesied diversion in the transportation of freight from ocean route to overland railway was now an accepted fact, the customs revenues at El Paso on the frontier having more than doubled since the completion of the transcontinental lines. Valuable concessions continued to be made to all companies actively engaged in the carrying trade, and substantial subsidies were offered to the Mexican and Atlantic Steamship Company to establish a regular and direct line of carriers between Vera Cruz and Buenos Ayres. The Tehuantepec ship railroad was also encouraged by a land grant of 2,500,000 acres and a guaranty of one-third of the net revenues for the first fifteen years. The predictions of Humboldt, published one hundred years before, seemed about to be verified. "Mexico," he wrote, "from its geographical and inter-marine position is the natural bridge of the commerce of the world, which, even in itself, under careful cultivation should alone produce all that commerce collects together from the rest of the hemispheres."

The problem of fuel supply which for a long time had been a serious question, reached a seeming solution in the discovery of surface coal on the line of the Mexican Central railway. Though of poor quality, the announcement of the economic find was received with general rejoicing, for while the market price of ordinary brushwood was thirty dollars a cord, first-class firewood commanded eighty. The mountain slopes had long since been denuded of timber, owing to forest fires and wanton destruction, and the necessity for the encouragement of arboriculture was made manifest to the government in 1884, when it awarded a contract for the planting of two million trees in the lake valley region.

[A. D. 1886.] Owing to the treasury deficit of $24,043,600 at the expiration of the previous fiscal year in June, and left by Gonzalez as an embarrassing legacy to his successor, to Diaz was entrusted the financial problem of providing for a gross expenditure of $44,322,055 out of the ordinary income of $27,000,000. The six percent bond issue of $25,000,000 already referred to was depended upon to meet this. To facilitate the disposition of this and other special financial obligations, a central bureau was established by the government in the city of Mexico for the registration, liquidation and conversion of all national indebtedness and claims against the exchequer, a financial agency being opened in London at the same time. The new "three percent consols" for the conversion of the debt, were issued to the extent of $150,000,000 in the form of bonds, payable to bearer in "national coin" and receivable at par, in payment for government lands or other federal property.

The economic crisis which now threatened the country, and which was chiefly due to the depreciation of silver, prompted Congress to appoint a commission to report upon the prevailing depression with a view to remedial legislation, the result of which was the reformation of the mining laws, the revision of the customs tariff at the will of the executive, when the development of the cultivation of certain agricultural products would appear to call for such, and the placing upon the free list eighty-six articles specially used in connection with mining and agricultural interests. In partial recognition of these representations the constitution was amended, prohibiting the levying of any tax on merchandise in transitu  for the interior, and a further law was promulgated providing that no tax in excess of five percent of the import duties thereon should be levied on any articles for consumption either by state, district or territory.

The commercial condition of affairs which prevailed in Mexico in 1886—while awaiting its development into a manufacturing country—compared with that of California when overtaken by a similar crisis more than fifty years ago. "When men were starving, though weighed down with gold, when the necessaries of life rose to fifty and even one hundred fold their value in the Atlantic states, California demonstrated the intrinsic worthlessness of the coveted ore and the permanent value of everything produced by genuine industry and labor."

With the view of encouraging outside investors the stringent and practically prohibitive laws governing the acquisition of property by foreigners, were canceled, the government decreeing that "foreigners should no longer be required to reside in the republic in order to acquire waste, or public lands, real estate or ships." This provision did not apply to mining lands, which had always been exempt from the exactions regulating the purchase of real estate. Of the $187,700,000 of English capital invested in Mexico at this time, $56,500,000 was in railways, $50,000,000 in plantations and cattle, $20,000,000 in banks and kindred institutions, and $5,200,000 in city realty, besides the $56,000,000 constituting the public debt, and the limit was not reached, for the Tuxpan railway and a new mortgage company were demanding $30,000,000 additional, and a syndicate headed by Baron Rothschild was waiting to put up the purchase-money for 200,000 acres of farming lands in the state of Chihuahua.

While these and other enormous sums were being invested in Mexican securities by Englishmen and other foreigners, who monopolized the field for investment, the fact that an estimated $50,000,000 of native capital was lying idle in the city of Mexico alone, presented a striking commentary on the degree of business enterprise engrafted in the average Mexican. Mexican co-operation entered but little into the financial control of the country. The family strong-box was the native capitalist's bank, a bequest of trade philosophy inherited from Spanish progenitors whose modern lack of desire for business expansion has become a national characteristic.

With the completion of railway connection through the extension of the Mexican Central and the National, the two great trunk lines, essentially American enterprises—smuggling developed on the frontier, but with the increasing production of native cotton goods, the volume of American trade materially declined, and this, too, in the face of the fact that the area of cultivation of the raw material in Mexico had greatly diminished. This seeming commercial paradox was, however, explainable, by reason of cheaper and it was claimed, discriminating freight rates in favor of the American-grown fiber. The consumption of the Mexican mills was about eighty million pounds of cotton annually, one-third of which was imported from the United States.

The silk factories, of which at this time there were four in operation, were enabled, owing to the cheapness and efficiency of the native labor to manufacture the ordinary fabrics at one-half of the cost of production in the city of Paris. Towards the close of the year the volcano of Colima commenced active eruption, a pall of white vapor overhung its heights and its sides were bathed in the torrents of overflowing lava. Severe earthquakes occurred in the Sierra Madre mountains of Sonora, tremendous crevices and yawning chasms appeared and many lives were lost. A heretofore unknown but active volcano was discovered near Bavispe, by a party of explorers. Huge boulders were hurled from its crater, and rivers of boiling water scoured its fissured walls. By the light of incandescent lamps—which had been introduced into the capital for the first time—a heavy fall of snow descended upon the city of Mexico, a visitation which had not been experienced since 1856, and which was regarded by the superstitious as intentionally emblematic of the mantle of governmental purity which had enveloped the country since Diaz' accession to power.

[A. D. 1887.] The interest now due on the consolidated indebtedness was promptly paid at maturity, and when December came again another loan of 10,500,000 at 84 was floated in Berlin, for the purpose of funding the existing national debt.

The rapidity of railroad development, which marked the existence of this new reign of peace, astonished even the promoters of the enterprises. In 1880 but 400 miles of track, between Vera Cruz and the capital had been constructed; the total mileage now exceeded 4,000 miles, and by the junction of the International with the Central at Villa Lerdo, the time of travel between New York and the city of Mexico was reduced to four days and twelve hours. Active work was commenced at Tehuantepec and the Atlantic and Pacific Ship railway at last became an entity. The adoption of American farm machinery was fast becoming universal. On one plantation alone, 250 plows were in profitable operation. The Southern Pacific road completed its connection with Eagle Pass in Texas and the Mexican capital, while the National crossed the frontier at Laredo. On the Mexican Central hundreds of cars loaded with American merchandise and manufactures, might be seen awaiting an opportunity to commence their journey south, and awake the chaparral and canon with the glad tidings of trade development. The people already vaccinated with the spirit of western push, now contracted the infection. Speculative syndicates had but to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the dispensing department their ability to fulfil their pledges and vast grants of the public domain were entrusted to their keeping, with exemption from taxation and governmental protection to all colonists. Millions of acres and millions of dollars in subsidies were in this manner surrendered, in the implicit and progressive belief that it was but the casting of commercial bread on the ocean of opportunity. The mining laws were again liberally amended, and notwithstanding the low price of silver, a further impetus was given to the mining industry. Mexico, with open arms, now extended a welcome to the world.

[A. D. 1888.] Upon Porfirio Diaz reelection to office he was ready to listen to the representations of Guatemala who had become persistent, and an envoy was invited to visit Mexico clothed with full powers to negotiate for the appointment of a mixed commission to dispose of the still disputed claims of the respective countries. A treaty of "amity and commerce "was also concluded with Japan, and signed at Washington by Senor Romero and Mr. Mutsu. Another English loan was floated, this time, however, by the municipal authorities of the city of Mexico, for the sum of 400,000, bearing seven percent interest, for the construction of the great Tesquisquia valley drainage tunnel. Notwithstanding the magnitude of the contemplated or already undertaken public and private enterprises, the condition of the peons still remained pitiable and unchanged. While their state was perhaps not quite so bad as it was two decades before, when 20,000 leperos and lazzaroni infested the suburbs of the capital in an atmosphere of filth and poverty beyond belief, they still continued to work for less money than any other race. Even Chinamen, it is claimed are unable to compete with them, either in amount or quality of labor (or in the matter of parsimony), except when working in the plantations on the lowlands.

A parcel post was established during the year between Mexico and the United States and helped materially to develop international trade. Germany—whose merchants owed their success partly to their economy of management, but chiefly to their long-credit system—now controlled the wholesale trade, driving out English competition, while France maintained a monopoly of the dry goods business in the larger cities. A still further display of German ambition was exhibited in the exploitation of two travelers from that country who successfully ascended almost to the summit of the volcano of Iztaccihuatl—17,000 feet—where glaciers were discovered, not hitherto known to exist. The abandoned silver mines in Santa Rosa, originally worked by the Spaniards in 1810, were now reopened. Ore yielding $105 to the ton, besides a profitable percentage of lead, was produced, and a period of unprecedented excitement among miners set in. The old treaty with the United States, granting exemption of duty on argentiferous  lead ores, having expired, the duty was reimposed, which led to tariff reprisal on the part of Mexico whose government hastened to levy a heavy import duty on live animals and fresh meats.

Additional and extensive land deals were again concluded. Another 500,000 acres in Coahuila was sold to the company already owning 2,000,000. Another 2,000,000 acres in the state of Vera Cruz were sold to a Californian; a vast expanse in northern Chihuahua passed into the keeping of a Chicago syndicate; the famous Lorenzo estate became the property of some Parisian speculators, while the shrewd Mormons in busy pursuit of their insidious teachings acquired a fertile tract in the smiling valley of the Casas Grande.

Material progress, however, did not outstrip intellectual advancement. Schools and colleges of agriculture, medicine, science, music and fine arts, national museums, and libraries sprung up all over the land. With the secularization of the church property, the state became the owner of the spacious conventual buildings and the great libraries containing many and rare volumes were thrown open to the public. Though the bill introduced into the chamber of deputies made free elementary school instruction compulsory throughout the republic, imposing a fine upon the parents who neglected to send their children, there was still a wide field open in Mexico for teaching the impressionable natives of Anahuac—the descendants of the once-powerful Aztecs—the simple tenets of the religion of Christ.

The libraries of Puebla and the city of Mexico are to-day becoming models of their class. Of paintings by many famous artists, Mexico has her full share, as the viceroys and the wealthy men of the past century adorned convents and churches with many gems of art. The academy of San Carlos in Mexico, contains masterly productions, not only of Mexico's talented sons, but of painters long since famous in the world of art, and sculptures that have received the encomiums even of such critics as the exacting Humboldt.

The scientific world is indebted to Mexico for such illustrious names as Cubas, Orozco y Berra, Mendoza, Blazquez, and Barcena, shining lights among a host of lesser luminaries. These indefatigable workers, in the National Museum and in the Meteorological Observatory of the capital, have marched with the van-guard of scientific observers. Only those writers ignorant of their labors, and unacquainted with the language in which they publish them, have the temerity to assert that Mexico has produced no men of mark in the realm of thought and original investigation. Their works are a standing refutation to such slanderous statements, and when they shall be collected, and translated into the leading languages of the world, they will form a monument to genius that any nation might well be proud of.

[A. D. 1889.] The foreign debt within the space of four years had been reduced by $88,000,000, and the exportation of merchandise and bullion during the past year had reached the sum of $53,000,000, the largest amount hitherto known. Nine hundred miles of ocean cable were landed at Coatzacoalcos for the Galveston line by the "Faraday," and another railway line, the longest ever projected in Mexico, from the American frontier to Guatemala was authorized and subsidized by the government.

President Diaz in his message at the opening of the House congratulated the government upon the wisdom displayed in the policy and management of the public lands. "The sales of these lands," he said, "have been fertile of the most happy results. Large areas formerly unproductive have been opened up, the value of private property has been enhanced, and the revenues of the state increased."

As a further inducement to those contemplating colonization, one-third of all lands surveyed at the expense of the settler was promised to be given free; while to encourage arboriculture and develop the rubber industry, the authorities of the state of Otajaca entered into an agreement with a syndicate to pay three cents for every rubber tree planted, up to the number of 15,000,000. The construction of the great drainage tunnel nearly ten miles in length was let to an English company; over one hundred new mining surveys were undertaken, and the irrigation company, operating in Tlahualilo increased its force to 2,000 men. From the pearl beds at Cape St. Lucas, a gem valued at $17,000 was obtained, almost vieing with that found in 1740 off the Island of Marguerita in the Gulf of California, which weighed 250 carats, representing a value of $150,000 and was presented to King Philip II. The pearl fisheries of St. Lucas now contributed, through the imposition of a ten dollars per ton royalty on the shells, $250,000 annually to the national revenue.

The fecundity of the Mexican maize is beyond imagination. Its introduction, as with the cotton plant is credited to the Toltecs as far back as the seventh century. During the days of the Aztec empire the people according to Prescott "were wont to cultivate it in the openings of the primeval forests or in the strips of the fertile glades." In 1888, 131,000,000 bushels of corn were harvested in Mexico. As porridge is to the Scotchman, pork and beans to the American, macaroni to the Italian, and caviar to the Russian, so is the tortilla  the Mexican equivalent. With its three zones of varying temperature, the propagation of cereals can be as profitably undertaken in Mexico as can the cultivation of tropical fruits. Fully appreciating the possibilities that lay concealed in wheat, three crops of which could be raised in two years, and of which 11,000,000 bushels were raised in 1888—the state of Sonora offered a bonus to anyone exporting the grain from that district to Liverpool. In addition to the profits derivable from the more staple products, bananas, sarsaparilla, lemons, nuts, guavas, pine-apples, tamarinds, citrons, dates, indigo, plantains and arrowroot, rice, coffee and sugar were raised in large quantities in the terra caliente  region, while beans and barley were harvested in big crops in the tierra templada. As for tobacco, it is indigenous to the country and insists upon growing, the leaf raised at Vera Cruz rivaling that of Cuba. A growing trade was carried on in cochineal, and the introduction of bee culture resulted in the exportation of 50,000 pounds of honey to the United States. The consumption of pulque at this time was something enormous, the city of Mexico with its population of 329,535according to the census taken in 1889—actually being credited with the consumption of 250,000 pints daily.

[A. D. 1890.] An uneventful though relatively prosperous period now contributed to the commercial history of the country. The export trade which stood at $32,000,000 in 1879 had all but doubled itself within the decade. At the close of 1889, it had amounted to over $62,000,000 for the expiring twelvemonths. The forests at the foothills of the Cordilleras had been attacked by the lumberman, and an immense shipping trade in mahogany, ebony, rosewood, campeche and ironwood had been developed. The cotton mills were working over time and the marine carrying trade taxed the services of a growing fleet of merchant men.

[A. D. 1891.] A small cloud, portentous of rebellion, at first no bigger than a man's hand, at last darkened the governmental horizon of the reelected president who "as a constitutional reformer," according to Noll, was again permitted to succeed himself."

With the advent of September, General Riez Sandival, who had been expelled from the regular army for seditious practices, drew around him a band of revolutionists, and with the active support of Catarino Garza, a journalist, well known for his hostility to the Diaz administration, issued a manifesto proclaiming the overthrow of the government. Garza, who had crossed the Rio Grande, was the first to encounter a force of Mexican troops that was dispatched to the front and being closely pursued took refuge in American territory. Meanwhile General Sandival, who was busy recruiting an army in the northern district, succeeded in spreading disaffection among the Mexicans in Texas, who rallied to support him. The United States cavalry at Fort Ringold and the Texas Rangers took the field, and other regular troops were hurried to the frontier, but the guerillas, though superior in point of numbers, evaded collision and when hard pressed, disguised as herdsmen, would escape detection, the wildness of the country being favorable for their mode of warfare. A strong appeal was made by Garza in the name of the "oppressed priests and plundered masses," and he called upon the patriots" to support the cause. One thousand stand of arms, shipped to the rebels from New York, was seized at the frontier. The federal government, now thoroughly alarmed at the magnitude of the revolt, dispatched nearly 10,000 troops, who patrolled the entire border in squads of fifty men the Texans were compelled to return to their ranches, and in the general "round up "that followed, some of the ringleaders were captured.

Representative delegates from each state were summoned in December to attend an economic conference to consider the best method for the removal of the taxes upon certain articles of imported merchandise, which impeded trade progress and caused a serious diminution in the revenue. Among other reforms contemplated, the following were the most important:

  1. The abolishment of the interior custom houses.
  2. The establishment of an indirect tax, in place of the Alcabala (internal duties) to be collected from the consumer, not to exceed eight percent ad valorem, to be paid by stamp, to run for a period of twenty years, commencing with April 5th, 1892.
  3. No taxation on imported articles other than the regular federal custom dues imposed at port of entry, and the stamp tax.
  4. The revenues from the eight per cent, tax to belong to the states collecting the same, the others to be paid into the federal customs.

[A. D. 1892.] The end, aim, and object of the president, "who again succeeded himself," next to his determination to crush the first incipient signs of rebellion appeared to be an overwhelming and far-sighted ambition to enact liberal and attractive laws. The framing of such legislation as would best conduce to the development of the resources of the country, and the colonizing of its profitably arable wastes, which for so many centuries had lain fallow. Governed by this laudable and controlling influence, Diaz further amended the mining laws, so that the mere payment of the new federal tax would give a clear title, and canceled the statute that had hitherto placed a limit on individual ownership. In the construction of the 6,950 miles of railway now open for traffic, American capitalists had been encouraged to invest $245,000,000, while England had contributed $70,000,000. The live stock industry had been nurtured to such an extent that over one hundred thousand head was annually exported to the United States, while hides, leather and goat skins to the value of $2,000,000 were yearly shipped to the markets of the greater republic in the north. Diaz was steadily redeeming his pledges and the resources of this marvelously rich country with the most varied zones in the universe were being developed with astonishing rapidity.

[A. D. 1893.] In the midst of these commercial conquests, the tocsin notes of insurrection again disturbed the peace. On the northern border of Chihuahua, within one hundred miles of the scene of Garcia's rebellion, a revolt occurred among some of the native bands, who succeeded in capturing Ascencion and Corralitos and drove out the American settlers, who took refuge in Mexico. Pacheco and Perez, the leaders, were backed by a large following and abundantly supplied with arms. Troops were sent to the front, when the Yaqui Indians revolted in sympathy with the rebels. Matters were now complicated by the refusal of General Urez to fight the Indians. He was tried by court-martial and shot. The spirit of revolt had now become infectious, for in April a band of insurgents led by one Amalia sacked the mining town of Guerrero, defeating a body of federal troops in June, the soldiers retiring after suffering severe loss.

In the south a threatened insurrection headed by General Neri was partially averted by a concession of certain autonomous rights, demanded of the government. In this instance many citizens who had been drafted into the federal army were discovered to be open sympathizers, when the national troops were defeated near the Casas Grande river, in the month of November. The grounds for disaffection were stated to be the refusal by the government to grant the same /1 rights" in this instance as had been extended to the states of Cohahuila and Guerrero. The president was also denounced for allowing the amendment to the constitution which permitted the president of the republic to be eligible for office for more than one term, and he was further harshly criticized for the wholesale granting of land concessions and subsidies to foreigners, and worse than all else, he was charged with obtaining for his own use, corrupt profits arising from his official intervention and greatly to the prejudice of the people.

[A. D. 1894.] Another army now invaded Mexico, but the objects it had in view were of a diametrically opposite character to those of any that had ever preceded it. It was the Salvation Army, and came with an eye to business as well as to the propagation of the gospel, for before withdrawing, its representatives acquired by purchase zoo,000 acres of land on which to settle a number of families from the United States and England. In November the city of Mexico was visited by the heaviest earthquake shock since the memorable one of 1858, and many persons were killed and injured by the falling ruins.

[A. D. 1895.] The revival of the old dispute between Mexico and Guatemala over the vexed boundary line between the two countries, and which had furnished constant material for intemperate disputation in the past, gave good cause for the spread of the belief that unless the controversy was settled by outside arbitration in accordance with the policy adopted by the recent Pan-American Congress, war was inevitable, between the two governments, with the reasonable probability of one or more of the lesser Latin republics of Honduras, Nicaragua and Salvador, being ready to assist Guatemala in the repelling of any invasion from Mexico. Article four in the treaty of 1882 calls for arbitration in case of future disagreement. Neither governments seemed willing to respect this provision, and while both were willing to make certain concessions, neither one was ready to unqualifiedly recede from its position.

The view of the matter taken from a Mexican fighting soldier's standpoint, can be no better illustrated than by a quotation from President Diaz's speech in reply to a press request of January 26th for his position in regard to possible war. After referring to the delicate controversy then being sustained between the two governments, and declaring that the Mexican government had already demonstrated that the greatest blessing ever offered to the country "was the present period of reconstruction and the happy and visible development of peace, which the government will only allow to be interrupted when a pertinacious aggressor insists on assailing the national honor." In the event of this contingency, the government, he declared, would confront the situation with faith and energy. "We soldiers of the generation now passing away feel our blood tingle when we think that we may be able to baptize in a war, every way just on our part, the generation coming on, in whose hands we are going to leave our country and its fate."

Meanwhile news came from Guatemala of riots and universal discontent, and of such a serious character that it was fully believed that unless President Barrios was able to divert the attention of the malcontents by a foreign war, a revolution which would accomplish his overthrow would be inevitable.

Up to the end of February—1885—no settlement had been reached, though Senor Romero Mexican minister at Washington, was confident of a pacific termination to the trouble. In the event of war there is little doubt that Mexico could concentrate 50,000 men on the Guatemala frontier within a few days, and there could be but one ending to the imbroglio, namely, the humiliation of the lesser republic, unless hostilities were averted by foreign intervention.

Mexico assuredly contains within herself every element of prosperity; she has the richest mines in the world, the most varied resources of agricultural wealth, and the greatest variety of soil, surface, and climate. It only remains with her people, who now number over twelve millions, to properly conserve and develop this vast heritage.

A strong central government, arbitrary, almost despotic, in its character, rules Mexico. It is not always the will of the multitude that is expressed, but sometimes the will of a few. The railroads,telegraphs, improved methods of communication, are they actual evidences of the regeneration of Mexico, and of her sincere desire for internal improvement and external communication; or rather, are they the out-growth of that central system of government, which encourages all means of connection with remote provinces, in order that it may the more easily quell any incipient revolution? It sits intrenched in its capital in the valley of Mexico, and Briareus-like, stretches out its iron claws to grasp the disaffected throughout its territory.

Mexico has passed through terrible ordeals, and has become in a measure purified; yet she is still on probation before the world. Not her most enthusiastic friend dare assert that she is in the enjoyment of an assured peace, while the elements of disturbance, unscrupulous leaders, and ignorant people in the majority, still exist, and a crushed, though still powerful, priesthood, is nursing its wrath and gaining to itself strength for a not improbable renewal of the contest between church and state.

Upon the wisdom and forbearance of her rulers for the coming decade depends Mexico's salvation. If a crisis does not occur, the friends of Mexico may well take courage and indulge in the hope of a permanent peace.

The true native character has now an opportunity to assert itself. The future will look on with interest to see whether it has the stable capacity for sustained self government which its friends ascribe to it. For the first time in history they have an unfettered and uninterrupted chance to demonstrate if they are really capable of taking a place among the nations of the earth,

Mexico, to-day, is a confederated republic of twenty-seven states, one territory, and one federal district, with a form of government modeled after that of the United States. The press is free, and religious liberty is complete in theory, and no one is molested for his political opinions. Commerce and labor flow on unmolested in regular channels, and the internal and external obligations of the country are being paid with regularity. Her position to-day, except for the uncertain state of her politics, is one to be envied. Every indication points towards an era of prosperity without a parallel in her history. The whole world looks upon her advancement with attention, and the people of the United States, especially, are sincere in the desire that she has at last entered upon a long and uninterrupted PERIOD OF PEACE.