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Another source of dissatisfaction among the officials of the capital was the viceroy's order that a letterbox should be placed in one of the halls of the palace, into which any person having cause for grievance might deposit a written statement of the facts for his information. He knew well that the complaints of the people seldom came to the ears of the ruler, and that the abuses committed by those who surrounded him, were carefully concealed by the courtiers whose interest it was to represent everything in the most favorable light for themselves. This matter exposed the viceroy to insult through anonymous communications, and many an honest official was wrongfully accused by some hidden foe. This, however, Revilla Gigedo had undoubtedly anticipated. Wise enough to disregard vilifications of this kind, he received, on the other hand, many important suggestions from well meaning and loyal citizens, who denounced actual abuses, and disclosed the true state of affairs in the kingdom. The secret information no doubt enabled him to inaugurate many useful measures, of which the instructions to his successor give ample proof, and which otherwise might not have been suggested.. The officials, however, who were thus attacked from an unknown quarter, and often with sufficient cause, continued loud in their denunciation of the practice,. as directly favoring a system of espionage unworthy of the high station and dignity of a viceroy. Though it may have been a dangerous practice, Revilla Gigedo made good use of it.22
The dispositions of the viceroy made necessary a change in the system of arranging, classifying, and preserving official documents, which had received little or no attention on the part of his predecessors, the secretaries generally using their own judgment
22 Se ha querido decir que por este medio se autorizaba el espionage; confieso que es peligroso cuando el gefe no sabe hacer buen uso de él, y que semejante un veneno aprovecha ó mata segun el profesor que lo ministra.. En Revilla Gigedo obró los buenos efectos.' Cavo, Tres Siglos, iii.. 105.
HIST. MEX., VOL. III. 31
and consulting their own convenience in the matter. 23 Revilla Gigedo therefore determined to form general archives in which were deposited all documents of importance pertaining to the tribunals and other branches of administration, without any expense to the crown.24
The intendencias established by his predecessor continued unchanged during his administration, except that he ordered the intendencia of San Luis Potosí to comprise the territories of Coahuila and Texas, the intendente himself to act as subdelegate in regard to all contentions arising on questions of exchequer and war. In accordance with instructions from the crown commissioners were sent to explore the portion of Texas near the confines of Louisiana to determine whether it were convenient to extend the limits of the latter territory to the river Sabinas.25
While the viceroy, faithful to his trust, was improving the condition of New Spain, the tempest of the French revolution was raging in its greatest fury, and Louis XVI. was no more. Though most of the oidores were inimical to the viceroy, they vied with each other in representing to the people that the imprisonment and execution of the French monarch was a transgression against laws divine and human. Moreover the English colonies of North America had recently shaken off their allegiance. The authorities began to tremble; and to increase their alarm, from the mother country came secret reports that among the merchandise shipped to the colonies were numer
23 The reader will remember the loss of the valuable manuscripts, taken from Boturini during Fuenclara's administration, which could only be attributed to the carelessness of the secretaries.
24 It was the custom of the viceroy to drop in unawares upon the government employés when they least expected him. In this manner he visited the tribunals, treasury, acordada, and other offices, where he had found the archives in dire confusion.
25 The governor of Louisiana reminds us of the times of Nuño de Guzman. He was removed by the viceroy for having killed in cold blood five friendly Lipan Indians, who were on a visit at his own residence, and also for other grave offences.
ous articles, as snuff-boxes, watches, and even pieces of money, bearing the figure of a woman dressed in white, displaying a banner, and around her the inscription "Libertad Americana." The viceroy was enjoined to confiscate all of these articles that he could lay hands upon; and in order to prevent the revolutionary contagion from spreading to New Spain, the introduction and circulation of books, pamphlets, and papers, bearing on religious or political emancipation, were prohibited, and the greatest vigilance exercised by all the authorities to impede even private correspondence on matters relating to the French revolution. It was at this time also that Cárlos IV. issued his famous decree prohibiting French prisoners in New Spain from discussing public affairs pertaining to their country.
During his administration, Revilla Gigedo made other public improvements and did much to develop the commerce and industrial condition of New Spain. Botanical gardens were laid out in the suburbs of the capital; the drainage of the city received attention; mills were built for the manufacture of cotton, silk, hemp, linen; bridges were constructed; and the roads were repaired and improved, especially the one leading from Mexico to Vera Cruz. Mining and agriculture were also encouraged, and it is said that at this period the coinage averaged twenty-four millions of pesos a year against eighteen to twenty millions previously. The series of orders which the viceroy issued for these purposes are regarded with great interest even at the present day by students of political administration.26
But the expenses occasioned by these improvements were necessarily great, so much so, that the crown, always selfish and grasping with her colonies,
26 See Revilla Gigedo, Bandos, passim; Id., Instruc., MS., passim; Dispos. Varias, ii. 63; Alvarez, Manif., 6; Zuñiga y O., Calend., 35–7; Arroniz, Hist. y Cron., 144-9; Doc. Ecles. Méx., MS., v. pt i.
began to put obstacles in the way; particularly as the viceroy had paid much attention to the moral and social progress of the community, and enlightenment was not particularly desired at this time. The home government having become displeased with his administration, his successor, the marqués de Branciforte, was appointed in 1794; thus he did not complete the five years of office for which it was intended that he should serve. It was ordered that his residencia be taken in secret by the new viceroy, and a public investigation proclaimed and concluded within forty days. The marquis refused to hold a secret residencia, alleging that it was necessary for Revilla Gigedo to depart for Spain previous to taking any steps in the matter. When he had sailed, his successor, knowing the cause of his removal, incited the ayuntamiento of Mexico to prefer numerous charges against him; but though the matter was not concluded for several years, he was finally acquitted, and the corregidores of Mexico were sentenced to pay all costs.27
27 Notwithstanding apparently serious accusations against Revilla Gigedo, on his return to Spain he was appointed director-general of artillery by the king, who it seems believed him innocent. His death occurred May 12, 1799, before any decision was rendered concerning his residencia, and his last days were embittered by unjust persecution. When the sentence of the council of the Indies was finally pronounced, the truth became known, and the vir tues and faithful services of this eminent ruler were duly appreciated, and his descendants made grandees of Spain of the first class. In connection with his reign may be mentioned an expedition despatched in January 1790, under Juan Eliza, to occupy the new establishment at Nootka on the northern coast of the Californias, with orders to explore the islands and places on the coast visited by Cook. One year later, in May 1791, the celebrated mariner Alexandro Malaspina touched at Acapulco on his voyage north, to investigate the existence of the north-west passage to the Atlantic, based on a narrative of the voyage of Lorenzo Ferrer de Maldonado in 1558, and said to have been recently discovered in private archives.
The following authorities have been consulted on matters concerning this administration: Revilla Gigedo, Instruccion, MS., passim; Id., Bandos, pts. i.-iii. xxi. xxiii. xxxiii.; Id., Solemnes Exequias, passim; Id., Residencia, MS., passim; Disposiciones Varias, i. 66-94, 131-3; ii. 63; iii. 41; Ordenes de la Corona, MS., iii. 82; v. 133; Cédularios, i. 152; Doc. Ecles. Mex., MS., v. pt. i. 2; Papeles Franciscanos, MS., i. 1st ser. 221; Panes, Vireyes, MS., 139-40; Cavo, Tres Siglos, iii. 86-166; Bustamante, Efem., i. passim; Zuñiga y O., Calendario, 35-7; Lerdo de Tejada, Apunt. Hist., pt. v. 312-13; Estalla, xxvi. 190 et seq; Arroniz, Hist. y Cron., 144-9; Gomez, Diario, 317-468; Dice. Univ., iii. 103-4, 732-4; x. 259-69; Alaman, Disert., iii. app. 80-2.
FIFTY-THIRD AND FIFTY-FOURTH VICEROYS.
VICEROY BRANCIFORTE-PREJUDICE AGAINST HIM-AND CAUSES THEREOF— PERSECUTION OF FRENCH RESIDENTS-ORGANIZATION OF THE MILITIA-SHAMEFUL TRAFFIC IN HONORS AND COMMISSIONS-A DEPELETED TREASURY-AUTO DE FÉ-PERSECUTION OF THE ENGLISH-PREPARATIONS FOR WAR-RECALL OF BRANCIFORTE-ARRIVAL OF VICEROY AZANZAMILITARY CHANGES-EFFECTS OF THE WAR WITH ENGLAND-GERMS OF REVOLUTION IN MEXICO-GUERRERO'S CONSPIRACY-FATE OF THE MALECONTENTS THE MACHETE PLOT-INDIAN ASPIRATIONS TO ROYALTYDISCOMFITURE OF NATIVE CONSPIRATORS-INTERNAL PROGRESS-STORMS AND EARTHQUAKES-Recall OF THE VICEROY.
ON the 15th of June 1794 the marqués de Branciforte1 arrived at Vera Cruz and took charge of the government about a month later. He was a native of Sicily, and belonged to the family of the princes of Carini. His rank of captain-general of the Spanish army, his grandeeship of Spain, and appointment as viceroy, he owed to his brother-in-law, Manuel Godoy, duke of Alcudia, and afterward known as the prince of peace. His administration was in strong contrast with that of his predecessor, and even before his arrival he gave proof of qualities which afterward made him one of the most unpopular rulers of New Spain. Although he received, besides his salary as viceroy and captain-general, an additional sum of twenty thousand pesos a year, he contrived that all his baggage and effects should pass through the custom-house at
1Don Miguel de la Grua Talamanca y Branciforte, marqués de Branciforte, was the fifty-third viceroy of New Spain. Cedulario, MS., iii. 129; Disposiciones Varias, i. 97; Gomez, Diario, 398, 410.