of its citizens. The Mexican finances have fallen into confusion, and the army seems to be the sole ruling power in the state.


SECTION II.--The Establishment of the Spaniards in Peru. The discovery of a passage round the South American continent into the Pacific ocean, by Magellan, and the establishment of a colony at Panama, soon after Balboa had ascertained the nature of the isthmus, incited the Spanish adventurers to undertake new conquests. Pizarro, one of the most enterprising men that ever visited the New World, having with great difficulty prepared a small armament, landed in Perú (A. D. 1531), and though at first disappointed by the barren appearance of the coast, he found so much treasure at Coague as to convince him that the accounts which Balboa had received of the riches of the country were not exaggerated. When the Spaniards first appeared in Peru, the nation was divided by a civil war between the sons of the late inca, or sovereign; Huascar, the elder, was dethroned by his brother Atahualpa, and detained in captivity, while his partisans were secretly maturing plans for his restoration. Pizarro advanced into the country with the professed design of acting as mediator, but with the perfidious purpose of seizing Atahualpa, as Cortes had the unfortunate Montezu

. He prepared for the execution of his scheme with the same deliberation, and with as little compunction, as if he had been engaged in the most honorable transaction. When the Spaniards approached the capital, the inca was easily persuaded to consent to an interview; and he visited the invaders with a barbarous magnificence, and ostentatious display of wealth, which inflamed the cupidity of the Spaniards, almost beyond the power of restraint. When Atahualpa reached the Spanish camp, he was addressed by Valverde, the chaplain to the expedition, in a long, and what must to the inca have appeared an incomprehensible discourse. The priest, after a brief notice of the mysteries of creation and redemption, proceeded to explain the doctrine of the pope's supremacy. He then dwelt upon the grant which Pope Alexander had made to the crown of Spain, and by virtue of it called upon Atahualpa at once to embrace Christianity, and acknowledge himself a vassal of the Spanish monarch. The inca, completely puzzlel, demanded where Valverde had learned such wonderful things. " In this book," replied the priest, presenting the monarch with his breviary. The inca took the book, turned over the leaves, and then put it to his ear. “ This tells me nothing!” he exclaimed, flinging the breviary on the ground. “Blasphemy! blasphemy!” exclaimed Valverde ; " to arms, to arms, my Christian brethren ! avenge the profanation of God's word by the polluted hands of infidels."

This solemn farce appears to have been preconcerted. Ere Valverde had concluded, the trumpets sounded a charge ; a dreadful fire of artillery and musketry was opened on the defenceless Peruvians; and, in the midst of their surprise and consternation, they were charged by the cavalry, whose appearance to men who had never before beheld a horse, seemed something supernatural. Atahualpa was taken pris. oner and conveyed to the Spanish camp, while the invaders satiated themselves with the rich spoils of the field. The unfortunate inca at

tempted to procure his liberation by the payment of an enormous ransom, but Pizarro, after receiving the gold, resolved to deprive the credulous monarch of life. He was brought to trial under the most iniquitous pretences, and sentenced to be burned alive; but on his consenting to receive baptism from Valverde, his sentence was so far mitigated that he was first strangled at the stake. The Spaniards quarrelled among themselves about the division of the spoils ; the Peruvians took advantage of their discord to raise formidable insurrections, and the new kingdom seemed likely to be lost almost as soon as it was gained. Pizarro himself was murdered by Almagro, the son of one of his old companions, whom he had put to death for treason, and but for the arrival of Vara de Castro, who had been sent as governor from Spain, the confusion produced by this crime would probably have been without a remedy. De Castro conquered Almagro, and by his judicious measures restored tranquillity to the distracted province. Fresh disturbances were excited by the ambition of Gonzalo Pizarro, and it was not until more than a quarter of a century after its conquest, that the royal authority was firmly established in Peru.

The government established by the Spaniards in Peru was far more iniquitous and oppressive than that of Mexico, because the Peruvian mines were, from the first moment of the conquest, almost the only objects which engaged the attention of the Spanish and the provincial governments. A horrible system of conscription was devised for working these mines; all the Indians between the ages of eighteen and fifty were enrolled in seven lists, the individuals on each list being obliged to work for six months in the mines, so that this forced labor came on the unfortunate Indians at intervals of three years and a half; four out of every five were supposed to perish annually in these deadly labors, and to add to the misery of the natives, they were not allowed to purchase the necessaries of life except from privileged dealers, who robbed them of their earnings without remorse or scruple. Toward the close of the last century two serious insurrections of the native Peruvians filled the Spaniards with terror ; they were not suppressea until the rebellion had taxed the resources and power of the provincial government to the utmost, and the sanguinary massacres of all who were suspected of having joined in the revolt, left the country in a state of helplessness and exhaus ion from which it had not recovered at the cominencement of the revolution.

As it was impossible to gratify the rapacious cupidity of all the Spaniards who souglit to share in the produce of the l'eruvian mines, it became a principle of colonial policy to keep alive the spirit of adventure, by sending divisions to wrest new tracts of land from the natives, without organizing any new system of conquest. It was thus that Chili became finally annexed to the Spanish dominions ; but the efforts made for its conquest were desultory and separated by long intervals, so that over a great part of the country the sovereignty of Spain was merely nominal. The colonists and natives, however, seem never to have wished for independence, until the desire of nationality was pressed upon them by the irresistible force of circumstances, and in fact their first revolutionary movements were made in the name of loyalty and obedience.

When Joseph Bonaparte was proclaimed king of Spain by Napoleon, all the Spanish colonies of South America resolved to remain faithful to the ancient dynasty. It was suspected that the European Spaniards were disposed to make terms with the French emperor, and therefore native juntas were elected to maintain the rights of Ferdinand. In September, 1810, the Chilians formed a junta in Santiago; the Spanish general of the district attempted to disperse this body; a smart skirmish ensued, and the Chilians, having obtained the victory, became desirous to establish a perpetual system of self-government. The struggle for independence in Chili and Peru resembled the Mexican war in its general outlines : at first the patriots, after gaining advantages of which they did not know how to make use, were reduced to temporary submission. But the Spanish yoke, always heavy, proved intolerable to men who had obtained a brief experience of freedom; new insurrections were raised in every quarter, the superior discipline which had previously given victory to the royalists was acquired by the revolters; several European officers joined them, the Spanish government feebly supported its defenders, and the viceroys showed themselves destitute of talent either as generals or statesmen. The independence of the Spanish colonies in South America was nearly completed in the year 1823, but the last Spanish garrison was not surrendered until the 26th of February, 1826, when Rodil, the only royalist leader who had exhibited courage, fidelity, and talent, surrendered the citadel of Callao to the patriots.

Before the revolution the provinces of upper Peru formed part of the viceroyalty of Buenos Ayres; but as the manners, habits, and even the language of the Peruvians, differed materially from those of the people on the Rio de la Plata, the latter, after forming themselves into the Argentine republic, left their neighbors free to pursue any course they pleased. A general assembly of the Peruvian provinces solemnly proclaimed that upper Peru should henceforth form an independent nation, that it should be named Bolivia in honor of Bolivar, the chief agent in its liberation, and that the rights of person and property should form the basis of its republican constitution. A million of dollars was voted to Bolivar as a tribute of national gratitude, but that chivalrous general refused to receive the money, and requested that it should be expended in purchasing the freedom of the few negroes who still remained slaves in Bolivia.

In lower Peru the Bolivian constitution was far from being so popular as it had been in the upper provinces. It was indeed at first accepted, and Bolivar chosen president, but when he went to suppress an insurrection in Columbia, advantage was taken of his absence to set aside the system he had established. Since that period Columbia, Bolivia, and Peru, have suffered severely from intestine wars and civil commotions, which have greatly deteriorated the vast natural resources of these states. Bolivia has indeed regained tranquillity, and its rulers appear desirous to extend its commerce and encourage those branches of industry most likely to benefit the community. It is the only one of the new republics in which the finances are in a wholesome condition; its revenues are not only sufficient for the necessary expenses of the state, but there is a considerable surplus, which is wisely expended on the maintenance and construction of roads, and on facilitating the means of communication internally among the inhabitants thernselves and externally with strangers.

Pi ous to the expeditions of Cortez and Pizarro, Florida had been discovered by Juan Ponce de Leon. Its verdant forests and magnificent flowering aloes seemed so inviting, that a colony was formed with little difficulty. But the Indians of Florida were the most warlike of the native races in America, and they severely harassed the settlers. Soto, a companion of Pizarro, led an expedition into the interior, where he discovered the Mississippi. He died on the banks of the river, and his followers, anxious to conceal his death from the Indians, sank his body in the stream. A plan was formed by the leaders of the French Huguenots for emigrating to Florida, and an exploring party was sent out, but the jealousy of Spain was roused ; the adventurers were closely pursued, made prisoners, and put to death. Florida remained subject to Spain until the year 1818, when, in consequence of the depredations of the Indians, which the governors pleaded their inability to restrain, the Americans, under General Jackson, entered the province and annexed it to the United States. The Spanish government remonstrated, but had not the means of obtaining redress; and it finally acceded to the cession (A. D. 1821).

Section III.--Portuguese Colonies in South America. BRAZIL was accidentally discovered by a Portuguese admiral bound to the East Indies, in the year 1501, but he did not ascertain whether it was an island or part of the continent, a subject which long remained a matter of doubt. No effort was made to colonize the country for nearly half a century ; this apparent neglect arose from the reluctance of the Portuguese to interfere with the pretensions of the court of Spain, for the papal grant of newly-discovered countries to the Spanish monarch was held by the court of Madrid to include the whole American continent. At length the king of Portugal, envious of the wealth acquired by the Spaniards, sent out a small body of colonists, who founded St. Salvador (A. D. 1549). These settlers reported that the native Brazilians were far lower in the scale of civilization than the Mexicans or Peruvians; they were divided into a number of petty tribes or states, constantly at war with each other, and the invaders, though few in number, were easily able to subdue the Indian tribes in detail, by fomenting their animosities and cautiously holding the balance between their contending interests. This course of policy was rendered necessary by the personal bravery of the native Brazilians ; though ignorant of discipline and unable to act in masses, they displayed great individual courage in battle; they were skiiful in the use of bows, darts, wooden clubs, and shields, and frequently were victorious in petty skirmishes. But they were unable to resist European tactics and European policy, and hence they were finally reduced under the yoke, with which they soon appeared to be contented. The facility with which the Portuguese made themselves masters of this rich ter ritory excited the cupidity of other powers, and they were successively attacked by the Spaniards, the French, and the Dutch. The latter were the most dangerous enemies, they had just effected their deliver. ance from the iron despotism of Spain, under which the Portuguese themselves groaned at the period, and hence they had such a party in the country that their conquest would have been certain had they not alienated their supporters by attempting to establish odious monopolies. From the time of the expulsion of the Dutch, the Portuguese made it their object to keep everything connected with Brazil a profound secret, and little was known of the country until it asserted its independence.

For more than three centuries one of the most beautiful and fertile regions of the globe was thus, by the policy of Portugal, restricted from all intercourse and commerce with the other nations of Europe, and even the residence or admission of foreigners was equally prohibited. The vessels of the allies of the mother-country were occasionally permitted to anchor in its ports, but neither passengers nor crew were allowed to land excepting under the superintendence of a guard of soldiers.

Previously to the year 1808, though the viceroy resident in Rio de Janeiro was nominally the highest functionary of the government, yet this.. personage was, in reality, invested with but little political power except in the province of Rio, where alone he acted as captain-general, the virtual administration of the colony being intrusted chiefly to similar officers, one of whom was appointed to each province. They were nominated for three years only, and received their instructions from the court of Lisbon, to which they were compelled to render an account of their proceedings. They were not only prohibited from marrying within the sphere of their jurisdiction, but also from the transaction of any commercial pursuits, as well as from accepting any present or emolument, in addition to the stipend allotted them by the government. For the management and application of the public finances bodies were appointed denominated « Juntas de Fazenda,” Juntas of Finance ; of which the captains-general of the respective provinces were the presiderts.

The highest functions of the judicial power were confided to a court of appeal composed of disembargadores, or chief judges, to whom succeeded the onvidores, or itinerant judges, who were under the obligation of making an annual circuit to the districts committed to their charge, for the purpose of passing judgment in criminal cases. For the adjudication of certain cases, judges termed “ Juizes de Fora," who were selected from amorg euch as had taken their degree in Coimbra as bachelors of law, were appointed, who, as well as the officers of the higher tribunals, were all nominated by the court of Portugal. In the less populous and inferior districts, “ Juizes ordinarios," with the same attributes as the “ Juizes de fora," were also occasionally selected by the votes of individuals denominated “ Bous de pivo," the qualification for which title was to have held office in the municipalities. From the sentence of these “ Juizes” appeal could be made to the court of disembargadores in Rio, and from this again, ultimately, to the “ Disembargo do Baco” in Lisbon. Unless, however, the appellant were possessed either of great interest at court, or, in default of it, could bribe higher than his antagonist, these final appeals were seldom of any real utility.

« ElőzőTovább »