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afterwards torn, against their will, from the arms of that country which they had always regarded as a loving mother, and given up to the yoke of an oppressor who made it his task to destroy them; who with heroic valour shook off that yoke, and recovered their liberty and independence; who, lastly, owed to your Majesty a place among the nations as a Sovereign Power-come now, Madam, to deposit in your hands that sovereignty, and to merge once more their own liberty in that of your people.
"The Dominican people, Madam, giving a free course to those sentiments of affection and loyalty which have been so long repressed, have unanimously and spontaneously proclaimed you as their Queen and Sovereign; and I, who have now the exalted and undeserved honour of being the organ of those sincere sentiments, lay at your Majesty's feet the keys of this lovely island.
"Accept them, Madam; achieve the happiness of this people, who so well deserve it; cause them to continue blessing you as they do now, and you will accomplish the only ambition of, Madam, your Majesty's most loyal and loving subject,'
Address to Her Majesty.
Aranjuez, May 19, 1861.
AN event of happy augury, highly honourable to Spain, and seldom witnessed in the history of nations, has recently occurred in one of the ancient possessions of the Monarchy.
The island of Hispaniola, the first which was occupied by the great Columbus, the object of predilection to the immortal Queen to whose sublime inspiration the discovery of a New World is due, mistress of its independence and arbitress of its destinies, invokes the august name of Spain, and lays at your Royal feet that very sovereignty which you recognized a few years ago.
The victim of treason, deceived, surprised, it had broken the bonds which united it to the Spanish nation, to whose wise legislation it owed the prosperous existence it enjoyed.
Since then, Madam, wars, revolutions, and the tremendous catastrophes which stifle at their birth all the germs of vitality and force, had reduced this noble people to an intolerable position.
With the fountains of public prosperity sealed up, deprived of the resources necessary for an unembarrassed existence, the mark of foreign ambition, the theatre of reprehensible intrigues, their independence, since their separation from the metropolis, has been almost continuously a practical subjection, their liberty a painful slavery.
For independence does not exist where there is no force to maintain it, and there is no liberty among modern nations where
security is wanting, and where society is condemned to perpetual agitation.
On this account, in the hour of conflict, the Dominican people implored the protection of Spain. The sons of that fertile soil, descended from this heroic nation, animated with its sentiments and its spirit, speaking the saine language, worshipping God at the same altars, loved Spain alone, and at her hands alone could they expect and did they wish to receive the peace and prosperity which some had vainly sought from an imaginary and disputed independence.
Spain had not regarded with indifference the lot of the Dominican people. She regretted their misfortunes, and desired to alleviate them, but she was obliged to guard herself against any passionate and unjust accusations.
Spain, freed from her former feuds, the traces of which have been effaced by your Majesty's clemency, and flourishing under the shelter of your Throne and of the institutions by which she is governed, could long ago have acceded to the wishes of the Dominican people, and have established among them, first a Protectorate, and afterwards her authority.
Nevertheless, even at the risk of appearing deaf to the cries of a kindred people, she maintained a constant reserve, and never encouraged their hope of being re-incorporated with the Monarchy.
The misfortunes of the Dominican people, meanwhile, went on increasing, and, menaced daily with new dangers, under the guidance of their own inspiration, the Dominicans proclaimed the august Queen of Spain their Sovereign.
Your Majesty was profoundly affected at bearing the cry of a people who saluted your name with the most intense enthusiasm, while invoking at the same time dear ties (of relationship) and glorious and ineffaceable memories.
Your Majesty, ever generous, would have preferred to take them at once under the shelter of your Throne, but in your exalted mind reasons of State outweighed even the most noble of sentiments.
Your Majesty desired to acquire the absolute certainty that the vote of the Dominican people had been spontaneous, free, and unanimous. The work of a single party could not be acceptable in the eyes of your Majesty. Intrigue and violence are invincibly repugnant to your magnanimous heart.
Spain is great, and has no need of fresh acquisitions to occupy a distinguished position among the first nations of the world. But did she aspire to further aggrandizement she would never endeavour to obtain it by means which morality and sound policy condemn, because nothing solid and durable can be established which does not rest on the basis of right and justice.
The records of the Proclamation of your Majesty in all the
towns of the Dominican territory prove the spontaneousness and unanimity with which it was effected. Nowhere has an accident
occurred, or a tear been made to flow.
Everywhere joy and enthusiasm have been displayed in an unequivocal and solemn manner. The public functionaries, in carrying into effect their own impulses, have obeyed the sentiments of the country which had reposed its confidence in them.
Seldom has such a combination, such a unanimity of will, been witnessed, for the purpose of realizing one common idea, one common thought.
And this, Madam, without there being on the coast of Santo Domingo a single Spanish vessel, or on its territory a single Spanish soldier.
If land and sea forces arrived to protect the people who were proclaiming your Majesty's sovereignty, it was not till 18 days afterwards, when Don Pedro Santana was (already) governing the Island of Hispaniola, amidst universal applause, in your Majesty's
Any foreign Power which, in the exercise of an odious tyranny, should have opposed obstacles to the accomplishment of the wishes of the Dominican people, would have offended the dignity of Spain, which could not, without dishonour, have abandoned them to the attacks of foreign ambition.
The flag of Spain was already floating over the land to which the immortal Columbus carried it, together with the light of the gospel, and with the most perfect civilisation possessed at that glorious epoch by any nation in the world.
Your Majesty's land and sea forces were there to defend that flag against every outrage, and to protect at the same time the independence of the Dominican people and the integrity of their territory.
They did not take possession of that territory in your Majesty's name. Such an act, executed without the authorisation or knowledge of your Government, would have tarnished the reputation which they enjoy for discipline, for valour, and for loyalty. But though they then confined themselves to discharging the mission which had been entrusted to them by the worthy Captain-General of the Havana, though the Dominican people have remained tranquilly awaiting your Majesty's decision, it is now time that their uncertainty should cease, and that their definitive destiny should be settled.
Delay in the adoption of a measure, after all the data on which it is to be founded have been collected, might be attributed to weakness or fear, and such sentiments have no place in the minds of the Government of a great people, when questions are at issue
for the decision of which the voice of honour is to be listened to, rather than the cold counsels of interest or expediency.
To turn our backs on a people in misfortune, to expose them to fall a prey to foreign ambition, to shut our ears to the cry for union which they utter, as they invoke your Majesty's august name, and to ignore the convincing proofs which they have ever given of their unextinguishable affection for Spain, would be to break with the glorious traditions of our history, and to belie our constant and famous nobility of sentiment.
No, Madam, it is not possible to disappoint the wishes of a people who desire to return into the bosom of the mother-country after a long and painful separation. Whatever duties or difficulties the re-incorporation of St. Domingo with the Monarchy may involve, your Majesty, your Government, the whole of Spain will not hesitate to accept them.
In proceeding thus, no right whatever, whether of private persons or of nations, will be injured. Santo Domingo was bound by no obligation, compact, or stipulation of any kind which could fetter her in the free exercise of her independence. The only ties she had retained were those of her original nationality, for which she has preserved an unalterable attachment.
Fortunately there is nothing to change in her social state. Her inhabitants are free. Slavery, which is a necessity in other provinces, is not requisite for the cultivation of that fertile soil, and your Majesty's Government will not re-establish it.
The Dominicans, who are submissive to the voice of authority, will accept with pleasure the administrative organization which your Majesty's Government may consider it expedient to establish for the promotion of their welfare.
All will enjoy equally your Majesty's beneficent protection. Before the throne so gloriously occupied by your Majesty, class interests, the hatreds produced by unhappy discords, the parties which have fomented those discords by their implacable rancour, all disappear, and there remain only the sons of one mother anxious to promote their harmony and happiness. Your Majesty, who is indefatigable in assuring these blessings to your people, and who has contributed so much to their glorious regeneration, will regard Santo Domingo with the same interest and solicitude with which the other provinces of the Monarchy inspire you.
God, who during a period, the memory of which is imperishable, exalted the Monarchy, and who has preserved the purity of its reputation in the midst of long and terrible trials, has permitted it to recover from its past weakness, and to be able to embrace a people who were separated from its bosom in days of perturbation and debility, which will never return.
Founded on these considerations, your Council of Ministers has the honour to submit to your Majesty's sovereign approbation the following project of Decree.
Madam, at your Majesty's Royal feet,
SATURNINO CALDERON COLLANTES.
JUAN DE ZAVALA.
JOSE DE POSADA HERRERA.
RAFAEL DE BUSTOS Y CASTILLA.
In consideration of the reasons which have been laid before me by my Council of Ministers, and acceding with the most heartfelt pleasure to the wishes of the Dominican people, of whose affection and loyalty I have received so many proofs, I hereby decree as follows:
Art. I. The territory which constituted the Dominican Republie is re-incorporated with the Monarchy.
II. The Captain-General, Governor of the Island of Cuba, shall prescribe, in conformity with the instructions of my Government, the requisite measures for the carrying out of this Decree.
III. My Government shall give account to the Cortes of the present Decree, and of the measures adopted for its fulfilment. Given at Aranjuez, the 19th of May, 1861. (Signed by the Royal hand.) LEOPOLDO O'DONNELL, President of the Council of Ministers.