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The Provinces under the direction of your Excellency cao base do reason to suspect the good faith of my proceedings; for, even sup. posing that there existed between us neither Treaty, vor intimate relations, nor reciprocal interests, my promises of Neutrality and good will, (even after the supplies of arms and aminunition sent to the Enemy at Colonia by your Excellency's order,) ought to be sufficieet to calm their unfounded alarms, and lead them rather to reflect upoa the misfortunes which would be consequent upon a new War.
It is not in my power to suspend my Operations, which are direcied to the pacification of this Province, without express orders from my Sovereign ; nor can I receive Proposals for an Armistice from your Government, which I consider to be neutral in all its relations, even if Your Excellency were authorized to interfere in the affairs of a Country, independent of your authority.
Is, however, notwithstanding these considerations, and my sincerest promises of Neutrality, good understanding, and the continuance of all commercial relations between your Ports and those of this City, and the other Points of the Coast which my Forces will occupy, in the same manner as they already exist with the Ports of Brazil, (which promises I renew in the name of my Sovereign) Your Excellency thinks it can accord with the political interests of your Provinces to -augment the sacrifices of their Inhabitants, to lavish their blood, to expose your Capital to fresh convulsions, (the inevitable consequences of these new dangers,) to close the only channel by which your Cummerce can recover its recent shocks, and to commence a new War, which those who declare it cannot terminate at their pleasure, and, in short, to bave a neighbouring King as their Enemy;--and all this without any other advantage than that of supporting the Eastera Chiefs, and securing to them the power of oppressing the numerous Inhabitants of this Province, as well as of carrying Avarchy to your own, and of keeping your People in a continual state of terment ;-in such a case, (which from the prudence of your Government is hardly to be apprehended,) I must take suitable measures of precaution, until I receive the Coinmands of my Sovereign thereupon.
In the mean time, the impartial World will decide which of us is responsible for the calamities of a rupture between the 2 Countries;your Excellency who provokes me to War, or 1 who offer the continuance of an advantageous end permanent Peace.
Under every circumstance, Your Excellency will be pleased to accept the assurances of my consideration for your Government, and my particular esteem for the person of your Excellency.
God preserve Your Excellency many years. Monte Video,-February 18]"
CARLOS FEDERICO LECOR. H. E. Don Juan Martin de Pueyrredon.
(5.)-Don Martin de Pueyrredon to General Lecor. (Translation.)
Buenos Ayres, 2d March, 1817. Most ExcelLENT AND ILLUSTRIOUS GENERAL,
I have just received a Decree published by Your Excellency, dated the 15th of last February, at your Head Quarters in Monte Video. Its extraordinary contents have destroyed all my hopes of preserving any kind of harmony with Your Excellency and the Army under your Command. Your Excellency pretends to a right to the Territory you have invaded, owing to the protection which you state you afford to it, and on this plea you reckon upon the obedience of the Places which you have occupied. The brave Orientals have determined to prove that your Excellency's Forces are not able to afford that protection; and for this purpose they have commenced hostilities, in the very Places which Your Excellency confesses that you have left undefended, at the same time that you claim to subject them to your yoke.
To make amends for this want of power on your part, your ExcelJency has had recourse to the extraordinary measure which you improperly denominate reprisals, and to the still more extraordinary one of declaring the Defenders of their liberties to be Highway Robbers.
With regard to the first, your Excellency's magnificent promises of protection, but ill accord with the acts of violence which Your Excellency will commit upon the innocent Families of those whom you attack. Such violence will be without an object, and can only contribute to render the War more bloody and more dreadful to humanity. The Families which Your Excellency will transport on board your Squadron will auginent your expences and dangers, as well as the difficulty of obtaining subsistence, and will leave the faithful Orientals still more at liberty, because they will not be deterred even by the sacrifice of their Families, from exposing their lives in the defence of their Country. The Estates burnt and destroyed by Your Excellency will seriously injure the Country to which Your Excellency offers protection; but the Inhabitants will not suffer more severely than your own Army, whose subsistence cannot be drawn from fields which are laid waste and in ashes.
In the second place: by what right can Your Excellency declare the Inhabitants of a Country to be Highway Robbers, who have recourse only to the measures which are generally resorted to by all Nations, in defending themselves against unjust Aggressors? The French when they occupied Spain, committed every species of oute rage upon the defenceless Villages, and, what is more, the Spaniards themselves did the same thing to their own Villages, in order that they might deprive their Enemies of their resources. But were even the French declared to be Highway Robbers? Your Excellency's Decree proves that you are disposed to treat the Americans in the same manner as the Spaniards have done, and that you wish to (1816–17.)
prevent the Country from availing itself of those measures which the Law of Nations permits to all Belligerents, in the midst of the calamities of War. Even if the Orientals were not, as they are, our Brethren, their being our Neighbours would of itself authorize this Government to exert all its power in their support, when a Law is infringed, which it is the duty of every civilized Nation without exception to maintain. But I have already repeated to your Excellency that the People of the Eastern Territory, although they may have withdrawn themselves from a dependence upon any other Government, have not pretended to dissolve the ties of moral Union with their neighbouring Brethren, with whom they declare continually that they wish to contract more intimale relations; and the Armistice of 1812, which describes the Line of demarcation, was entered into with all the Provinces, and, for this reason, I have constantly protested against the present notorious violation of it. The Orientals defend their own cause and that of the Western Provinces at the same time, and they have therefore been, and will con tinue to be, assisted by this Capital, until your Excellency shall lave evacuated the Territory of which you have taken forcible possession.
Should Your Excellency prosecute the War with dignity, and in conformity with the Law of Nations, we will do the same; but if Your Excellency should carry into effect the threats contained in the before mentioned Decree, I declare to your Excellency, that I will, on my part, exercise a still more severe reprisal, by subjecting, on every occasion, 3 Subjects of His Most Faithful Majesty, to the same treatment which Your Excellency shall inflict upon any one of the Orientals. With this view, I have taken measures for conveying all Portuguese Subjects to the Guardia de Luran, although it is painful to me to treat them with this harshness; but which, since Your Excelleney's Decree, has become absolutely necessary for the security of the State. I have also transmitted a Passport to the Officer sent by Your Excellency, in order that he may return to the place he came from, in the Vessel of War which brought him to this City. It is in your Excellency's power to cause to disappear these symptoms of a disastrous War, to which the course of events and the unexpected conduct of Your Excellency have given rise.
An Extraordinary Mission was on the point of departing for the Court of Brazil, with the intention of setting on foot Negotiations, which, being for the advantage of His Most Faithful Majesty, might at the same time be beneficial to these Provinces, and consistent with the general opinion of their Inhabitants. Your Excellency's Decree bas in one moment changed these prospects. I therefore trust that Your Excellency will endeavour to repair the evil you have caused, by disposing the mind of your August Sovereign to desist from an undertaking, which must seriously injure both his own reputation and the happiness of his Subjects, whether the final result be favorable or otherwise to these Provinces :-above all, I recommend to your Es
cellency to revoke the before-mentioned Decree, in order to spare humanity so many miseries, and the whole world so much disgrace.
God preserve Your Excellency many years. H. E. General Lecor, DON MARTIN DE PUEYRREDON.
DECREE of the Supreme Director of the United Provinces of
South America, relative to the Occupation of the Province of Monte Video by the Portuguese Forces.-Buenos Ayres, 2nd March, 1817.
(Translation.) The Day which is consecrated, by the public piety and gratitude, to the rendering of thanks to the Eternal Protector of the American People, for the brilliant successes which He has granted to the Arms of our Country in the Kingdom of Chile, is also the Day that should be chosen to explain to these Provinces the principles which have regulated my conduct with regard to the Court of Brazil, and to its Army, which has been making aggressions on the Eastern Bank of the Rio de la Plata. My apparent passiveness respecting a measure in reality hostile, has had no other foundation than the hopes which had been held out to me, that the Measure bad for its object the prosperity and aggrandizeinent of this State. All my endeavours to penetrate the mystery, upon which our fortunes and our glory appeared to depend, have been unsuccessful. The necessity of tranquillizing the public mind, which was alarmed by injurious suspicions of my integrity and by seditious insinuations, have compelled me to proceed with less caution than I should otherwise have done, in eliciting this important discovery; uevertheless, although in the midst of much obscurity, I began to perceive that the high destinies of the neighbouring Court were not compatible with those of which the Argentine People had rendered themselves worthy, by their constancy, valour, and heroic sacrifices. To terminate this uncertainty, I was on the eve of dispatching an Extraordinary Mission to Rio de Janeiro, with proposals, founded on fixed bases, the refusal or admission of which would have enabled me to decide upon the good faith of that Government, and upon the final resolution which we ought to adopt.
In this state of things, I received last night a Decree published on the 15th of February by General Lecor, the contents of which will shock all Civilized Nations; and which is as follows :
[See Decree of General Lecor, Page 988.) The impression which the perusal of this Document created in my mind would have led to the severest measures, had I not felt that the dignity of the station which I occupy suggested to me other methods of giving the Portuguese General to understand how much he had been deceived, in imagining that the Supreme Government of these Provinces was capable of submitting to the insults he thus offered to the American People.
My Measures, therefore, agreeably to this principle, will be for the present, and until the decision of the Sovereign Congress be known, those which I will now describe.
In the first place : an Official Communication will be dispatched immediately to General Lecor, in the following terms: [See Letter from the Supreme Director to General Lecor, Page 993.]
Secondly. The Extraordinary Mission to the Court of Rio Janeiro will be suspended, until it be clearly proved that the Negotiations which may be entered upon will be advantageous to these Provinces, and that they will have for their basis the National Independence, the evacuation of the Eastern Territory, and an entire conformity to the general opinion of its Inhabitants.
Thirdly. All the Subjects of His Most Faithful Majesty residing in this Capital shall leave it, within 3 days, for the Guardia de Lurar; they being assured of good treatment, so long as General Lecor, on his part, shall not carry into effect the threats contained in his Decree of the 15th of February, and their Property being respected, agreeably to the Law of Nations.
Fourthly. The Officers from the Portuguese Army, who came in the Ship of War at present in this Port, shall immediately receive their Passports to return to the Place from whence they came.
Fifthly. It being neither just nor politic, according to the idea which I have now formed of the pretensions of the Court of Brazil, that whilst it maintains Arined Forces in a part of the Territory of this State, we should not oppose them, on our part, by other Forces, which may restrain their hostile operations, and place us in a situation to act more vigorously in case of necessity; I have determined that, besides the assistance lately sent to various Points of the Eastera Territory, additional aid of every description shall be dispatched thither; of which intention General Lecor has already been informed, in reply to a Complaint made by him upon this subject.
To these Measures, and to others which I do not think proper to make public, will be added all those which can conduce to the objects already mentioned ; and I trust that the valour and patriotism of all good Citizens will dispose them to those sacrifices that they may be called upon to make, in consequence of an unfortunate Rupture, which it is, I declare, my desire to terminate by every means in my power, which the progress of events and the glory of the Country will permit. Buenos Ayres, 2nd March, 1817.
JUAN MARTIN DE PUEYRREDON. JUAN FLORENCIO TERRADA, Secretary, ad interim.