Gabriel Garcia Moreno--Regenerator of Ecuador - Mrs. Maxwell Scott

Mosquera and Maldano

While these reforms, resented by Moreno's opponents, were taking place, an incident which illustrates his naturally fiery and chivalrous nature, and which had disastrous results, awoke still further comment.

In 1862 civil war broke out in the neighboring states of Colombia, provoked by General Mosquera, an old soldier of the Wars of Independence, who now placed himself at the head of a Radical party to trouble the Government in the State of Granada. To oppose him Senor Julio Arboleda, a gentleman of Granada who had settled in Paris, was recalled by the President Ospina. Arboleda, who belonged to an ancient family, was a famous soldier, a brilliant orator, and resembled in some ways Garcia Moreno. The two men indeed seemed destined to be friends. After a vain attempt to defend the town of Sanmarta, Arboleda hurried to the province of Cauca to encourage the inhabitants in their opposition to Mosquera, who now, master of Bogota, was cruelly persecuting Religion. So far Moreno and all Ecuador sympathized with his undertaking, when an unfortunate accident occurred.

A body of Arboleda's troops, having crossed the Rio Carcli while pursuing some of Mosquera's men, wounded the Representative of Ecuador who was about to protest against the violation of the frontier, and charged the Ecuadorian guard who opposed their advance. Moreno, ever ready to support the honor of his country, and resenting too keenly this involuntary insult, sent a peremptory message to Arboleda demanding reparation, and dispatched a small body of veterans to the spot, merely "to assure the respect and integrity of the frontier." Arboleda in reply pleaded the extenuating circumstances and want of evil intention on the part of his men—and refused the satisfaction demanded.

Moreno, indignant at what he considered a slight to the honor of his country, and disregarding the disapproval of some of his countrymen and friends, resolved to go in person to exact reparation from Arboleda, who, he persuaded himself, would not refuse it to him. It required even more than the President's usual courage to start on such an expedition at this moment, as he was suffering from a serious wound. While directing the making of a new road he had given himself a severe blow on the leg with an axe; the wound had festered, and the doctors, who were alarmed at its condition, ordered complete rest. An expedition on horseback was therefore deemed impossible, but Moreno, who was well versed in surgery, suggested that the wound should be cauterized, and as the doctors were unwilling to take the responsibility of so risky an operation, he himself got a red-hot bar of iron, and calmly applied it to the wound. A few days later the place was healed, and Moreno made the three days' journey to Cencli on horseback.

In undertaking this expedition he had little intention of fighting, but wished to make a demonstration to show his serious intention of demanding satisfaction. Arboleda, however, who intended to give none, advanced to the frontier with a considerable body of men, and, refusing Moreno's attempts to come to a peaceful arrangement, he attacked the small Ecuadorian force, who after a gallant resistance were forced: to yield to superior numbers. At the moment of attack Moreno had charged through the enemy, followed by a few of his men, striking right and left, unheeding of their bullets which fell round him and riddled his clothes. He reached the limit of Arboleda's force and then retraced his steps, no one venturing to oppose him, and he could easily have made his escape, but with the chivalry which characterized him he returned and yielded himself prisoner to an officer, saying, "Take me to your commander, it is to him I wish to give up my sword."

Arboleda was disconcerted at this magnanimous conduct, he treated Moreno with deep respect, gave him back his sword, and declared himself ready to enter at once into negotiations for peace. The two great leaders, sincerely reconciled at their first interview deplored the circumstances which had caused them to differ, when they should have united against the common foe of their countries, the Revolution. They concluded an amicable alliance, after which Moreno returned to his capital.

The Revolutionary party, never long idle, was preparing a fresh campaign against the President, aided, from his exile, by the wretched Urbina, and fortified by a new confederate in Mosquera. The latter was now tyrannizing over Granada and fiercely persecuting the Church, even banishing his relative, the Venerable Archbishop Herrau from Bogota, for which crimes he had been excommunicated by Pins IX. Mosguera's plan was, if possible, to create a new Republic under his rule, which should comprise New Granada, Venezuela and Ecuador.

When he made this proposal to Moreno, he was, as we may imagine, indignantly repulsed; but Mosquera bided his time, and the Meeting of the Parliament of Ecuador in 1863 gave him his opportunity. The subject of the Concordat would give rise, it was known, to fierce discussion; the greater part of Congress was now opposed to it, and some even well-meaning people, influenced by Moreno's enemies, began to regard it as a mistake.

Moreno's Presidential Message, however, bore the character of an Ultimatum. In it he enumerated the works he had successfully carried out during the two years of his Presidency, and fully justified the necessity of the Concordat to restore liberty to the Church, concluding with these words: "If the majority of this house should censure the acts of my administration, I will immediately resign my powers, praying Divine Providence to replace me by a Magistrate fortunate enough to ensure the repose and the future well-being of the Republic." The Congress began by vigorously attacking the Concordat but when the crisis seemed at hand Mosquera suddenly declared war on Ecuador. Seeing that their only hope lay in Garcia Moreno, even the members most opposed to his views once more turned to him as their leader, and the Concordat was saved.

This fresh war opened adversely for Ecuador. To the consternation of the country. General Flores was defeated at the Battle of Cuaspad. In a stirring Proclamation Moreno summoned his countrymen to arms, and responding to the appeal a new army of 8,000 men was quickly raised, ready to fight for their Faith, country, and homes. At the sight of this patriotic zeal Mosquera lost heart, and proposed peace. An attempt made by Urbina for a fresh insurrection was also crushed, and the danger was over. Mosquera himself returned to New Granada, but was soon afterwards chased from the country by the indignant people.

Worn out by the struggle against enemies abroad and opposition at home, Moreno began to ask himself whether it was humanly possible to continue the fight, and in January, 1864, the outlook seemed so hopeless that he announced his intention of retiring into private life. Such a storm of protests and entreaties arose, however, that he had to give up the idea, but he had scarcely done so when a fresh difficulty arose. This was a scandalous decision of the High Court of Justice by which the conspirators who had tried to foment rebellion in Ecuador in order to aid Mosquera were declared not guilty of treason. Moreno, with just indignation, sent in his resignation to Congress, declaring that after the Court had trampled all law and justice under foot by declaring known traitors to be innocent," he could only give up the task of government. "Patriotism and honor compelled me to remain at my post when our country was menaced by the enemy. Now that peace is established you cannot prevent me seeking a little rest in the calm of private life. If I have committed any faults in the exercise of my powers, you will be my judges. If you feel that I have not neglected anything which could develop the prosperity of the Republic, the satisfaction of having fulfilled my duty will remain to me and it is the only one which I seek."

Moreno's words produced a great effect on Congress, and it unanimously refused to accept his resignation, and voted the changes in the Constitution which he desired. Ecuador would not hear of a change of President, but the Masonic and Socialist party, failing all other means, resolved to assassinate the man they could not otherwise get rid of, and a plot was formed for the purpose, of whom the ringleader was General Thomas Maldano; but Moreno heard of the project and went himself to Guayaquil, where he fearlessly arrested the conspirators. This time the judges promptly condemned the traitors but Moreno pardoned them, only exacting an oath of fidelity for the future. Three months later the wretches again plotted his death, but on the very day fixed for the crime one of their friends, seized with remorse, revealed the whole affair to the President. Maldano escaped for the time, and a horde of Revolutionists took the opportunity of entering the country from every side, while Urbina, with the aid of Peru, landed at Payta and ravaged the coast. During this storm Moreno remained calm, organizing defense and raising troops, resolving rather to die with his people than to yield.

On August 24th Maldano was at last captured and brought in chains to Quito, where six days later he was hung, having first made his peace with Almighty God at the earnest entreaty of the man whose death he had plotted. After the death of Maldano Urbina once more claimed the attention of the Government. Accompanied by five or six hundred men, he took possession of the town of Machala, and announced himself as a Liberator. Supported by his three comrades, Roblez, Franco, and Leon , he proposed to propagate his revolutionary campaign from city to city till he should reach Quito. Terrified by the lawless action of his troops, the people, however, fled from his presence, and very few persons remained to make common cause with him.

At this juncture also a proclamation issued by the President, in which Urbina and his accomplices were declared to be outside the law, and would, in case of capture, be treated not as belligerents, but as bandits, contributed to discourage Urbina, and he and Roblez fled the country. Franco and Leon remained for a time, but being entirely defeated at Santarosa, they too followed the others to exile.

General Flores died during this campaign. Although in failing health, he had presided over the preparations for it, and had gone on board a vessel to direct matters from the sea, when he felt he was dying—"Is it true we have retaken Santarosa?" he inquired. "Yes, General," was the reply, "after dislodging the enemy." "And have the men fought well?" he asked. "Admirably." "And the inhabitants?" "They are now free and happy" was the answer. "Then I can die," said the old soldier. His last words were, "O good Mother of Mercy, I am your child." Thus died the old Warrior of the Independence and the Victor of Guayaquil.