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formerly enjoyed, as a proof of their virtue and disinterestednessmen who have undergone every thing horrible in a most inhuman war, suffering the most painful privations and the cruellest anguish-men so deserving of their country merit the attention of government; and I have therefore given directions to recompense them out of the national property.
If I have acquired any portion of merit in the eyes of my countrymen, I entreat you, representatives, to vouchsafe my petition, as the reward of my feeble services; and let the congress order a distribution of the national property, conformable to the ordonnance I passed in the name of the republic, in favour of the military sons of Venezuela.
After our having, in a succession of victories, destroyed the Spanish armies, the court of Madrid, in despair, vainly endeavoured to take by surprise the feelings of those magnanimous sovereigns who had just extirpated usurpation and tyranny in Europe, and who ought to protect the legitimacy and justice of the cause of America. Spain, unable to reduce us to submission by dint of arms, had recourse to her insidious policy, and tried every perfidious art. Ferdinand humbled himself so far as to confess that, without the assistance of foreign aid, he could not force us back under his ignominious yoke; a yoke which no mortal power can oblige us to submit to. Venezuela, convinced that she is in possession of sufficient strength to repel her oppressors, has declared through the organ of government her fixed and final determination to fight to annihilation in defence of her political life, not only against Spain, but even against the universe, should the universe be so degraded as to assume the party of a destructive government, whose only objects are an exterminating sword, and the shrieks of the inquisition-a government that desires not fertile regions, but deserts-not cities, but ruins-not subjects, but sepulchres. The declaration of the republic of Venezuela is the most glorious, the most heroic, and the most dignified act of a free people; and it is with peculiar satisfaction I have the honour of laying it before congress, sanctioned as it is by the unanimous approbation of the free people of the land.
Since the second epoch of the republic, our armies wanted the necessaries of war; they were constantly void of arms and ammu
nition, and were at all times badly equipped; but at present the brave defenders of independence are not only armed with justice, but with power, and our troops may rank with the choicest in Europe, now that they possess equal means of destruction.
For these important advantages we are indebted to the unbounded liberality of some generous foreigners, who, hearing the groans of suffering humanity, and seeing the cause of freedom, reason, and justice, ready to sink, could not remain quiet, but flew to our succour with their munificent aid and protection, and furnished the republic with every thing needful to cause their philanthropical principles to triumph. Those friends of mankind are the guardian geniuses of America, and to them we owe a debt of eternal gratitude, as well as a religious fulfilment of the several obligations contracted with them. The national debt, legislators, is the deposit of the good faith, the honour, and the gratitude of Venezuela: respect it as the holy ark which encloses not only the rights of our benefactors, but the glory of our fidelity. Let us perish rather than fail, in any the smallest point, in the completion of those engagements, which have been the salvation of our country, and of the lives of her sons.
The union of New Granada and Venezuela in one great state has uniformly been the ardent wish of the people and governments of these republics. The fortune of war has effected this junction so much desired by every American, and in fact we are incorporated. These sister-nations have intrusted to you their interests, rights, and destinies. In contemplating the union of this immense district, my mind rises with delight to the stupendous height necessary for viewing properly so wonderful a picture.
Flying from present and approaching times, my imagination plunges into future ages, in which I observe, with admiration and amazement, the prosperity, the splendour, and the animation, which this vast region will have acquired. My ideas are wafted on, and I see my beloved native land in the centre of the universe, expanding herself on her extensive coasts between those oceans which nature had separated, and which our country will have united with large and capacious canals. I see her the bond, the centre, and the emporium of the human race; I see her transmitting to earth's remotest bounds those treasures contained in
her mountains of gold and silver; I see her distributing, by her salutiferous plants, health and life to the afflicted of the old world; I see her imparting to the sages of other regions her inestimable secrets, ignorant until then how much her height of knowledge transcends her excessive wealth! Yes! I see her, seated on the throne of freedom, wielding the sceptre of justice, and crowned with glory, show the old world the majesty of the new.
Legislators! Condescend to receive with indulgence the declaration of my political creed; the highest wishes of my heart and earnest petition, which, in the name of the people, I have dared to address to you.
Vouchsafe to grant to Venezuela a government purely popular, purely just, and purely moral, which will enchain oppression, anarchy, and crime; a government which will cause innocency, philanthropy, and peace to reign; a government which, under the dominion of inexorable laws, will cause equality and liberty to triumph.
Gentlemen! Commence your duties: I have finished mine. The congress of the republic of Venezuela is installed. In it from this moment is centered the national sovereignty. We all owe to it obedience and fidelity. My sword, and those of my illustrious fellows-in-arms, will maintain its august authority.
God save the Congress!
Project of the Constitution for the Republic of Bolivia, with an Address of the Liberator.
TO THE CONSTITUENT CONGRESS OF BOLIVIA.
LEGISLATORS! In offering the project of a constitution for Bolivia, I feel overwhelmed with confusion and timidity, being convinced of my incapacity to make laws. When I consider that the wisdom of whole centuries is insufficient to compose a fundamental law which shall be perfect, and that the most enlightened
legislator is, perhaps, the immediate cause of human unhappiness, and, if I may so express myself, the dupe of his divine ministry, what may not be said of a soldier born amongst slaves, and buried in the deserts of his country-having seen nothing but captives in chains, and companions in arms to break them? I, a legislator! . . Your mistaken choice, and my engagement, are disputing, as it were, for precedence. I know not who may suffer most in this horrible conflict; whether this be your lot, on account of the evils you have to apprehend from the laws you solicit me to enact; or mine, because of the opprobrium to which your confidence may expose me.
I have summoned all my powers of mind, for the purpose of submitting to you my opinions respecting the best method of managing free men, according to the principles adopted by civilized nations; although the lessons of experience exhibit only long periods of disasters chequered by some glimpses of good fortune. What guides can we follow in the shade of such dark examples?
Legislators! Your duty calls on you to resist the shock of two monstrous enemies, who mutually combat each other, and who will both attack you at one and the same time. .
Tyranny and Anarchy form an immense ocean of oppression, rolling round a small isle of Liberty, perpetually beaten by the violence of the waves and of the hurricanes which incessantly threaten its submersion. Such is the sea on which you are about to launch, in a frail bark, with a pilot so inexperienced.
The project of the constitution for Bolivia is divided into four political powers, having one more added, without thereby rendering the classic division of each from the other more complicated. The electoral part has received certain powers, which are not allotted to it in other governments which deem themselves most liberal. These attributes greatly approach those of the federal system. It has appeared to me not only fit, convenient, and useful, but also easy and facilitating, to grant to the immediate representatives of the people those privileges which are most desirable to the citizens of each department, province, and canton. No object is of greater importance to a citizen than the election of his legislators, magistrates, judges, and ministers. The elec
toral colleges of every province represent the necessitous wants and interests thereof, and serve to make complaints against the infringement of the laws, and the abuses committed by magistrates. I may venture to declare with some confidence, that this sort of representation participates in the rights which are especially enjoyed by federal states. By this method a new counterpoise is put into the scale against the executive power, and the government acquires more guarantees, more popularity, and fresh grounds of preference, over others the most democratic.
Every ten citizens name and appoint an elector; and thus is the nation represented by a tenth of its citizens. They require nothing but capacity, they need not possess estates to represent the august function of sovereignty; but they must be able to write their votes, to sign their names, and to read the laws. They must profess a science, or an art, which secures to them an honest livelihood. No disqualifications are admitted, except vice, idleness, and gross and absolute ignorance. Knowledge and honesty, not money, are the requisites for exercising political power.
The legislative body is so composed as necessarily to render its parts harmonious. It will not be always divided for want of an arbitrating judge, as is the case in constitutions having no more than two chambers; three of them being here provided, any disagreement between two of them is resolved by the third; and a question examined by two contending parties finds a third impartial party to decide; so that no useful law will remain inefficient, or at least will have undergone one, two, or three inquiries, before it is negatived. In all matters of business between two opposite and contending parties, a third is named to decide: and would it not be absurd that, in the more arduous interests of society, such a provision, dictated by imperious necessity, should be overlooked and disdained? Thus the chambers will guard among themselves those considerations which are indispensable for the preservation of the union of the whole, and which ought to deliberate dispassionately, and with the peculiar calmness of wisdom. Modern congresses, I may be told, are composed of only two sections. The reason is, that in England, which country has been taken for a pattern, the nobility and the people were to be represented in two houses; and if the same course was followed in North