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band of Conquistadores, and they rapidly spread over the entire country occupied by the Aztecs, ever searching for the mines from whence this golden harvest came. A little later Pizarro made his wonderful find of the Inca civilization in Peru, and his reports were confirmatory of the almost unbelievable wealth told by Cortez and his followers of the wonders of the New World. Then the leaders began their policy of imprisoning and torturing the Aztec and Inca chieftains to force them to give up the hiding places of their treasures. New bands of adventurers were attracted to the New World, and ship after ship set sail toward the setting sun loaded with adventurers and their followers, and ever ringing in the ears of all was the refrain:
Gold! Gold! Gold! Gold!
Bright and yellow, hard and cold.
Shortly after the Conquest all the desirable lands were parcelled out among the invaders, and the few Indian caciques who had helped, with their powerful influence, in their subjugation. The Spaniards rapidly pacified the country, for the Aztec masses, however warlike they may have been before the coming of the Spaniards, were subdued by one blow. There were soon convinced that opposition to the power of Spain was useless. The priests, also, through their quickly acquired influence, taught submission to those whom God, in His infinite wisdom, had placed over them. Chiefs who would not yield otherwise were bribed to use their power over their vassals in favor of the Spaniards. Thus by force, bribery, intrigue, diplomacy, treachery and even religion, the Indians were reconciled and the spirit of opposition to the Spaniards broken. The result was a new and upstart nobility who ruled the country with an iron hand in the course of a few decades; and the natives, with the exception of the chiefs, were made vassals of these newly-made nobles.
The Church is a delicate subject upon which to touch, but the ecclesiastical authorities worked hand in hand with the civil authorities. Pope Alexander VI issued the following bull:
We give, concede, and assign them (lands in the New World) in perpetuity to you and the Kings of Castile and of Leon, your heirs and successors; and we make, constitute and depute you and your heirs and successors, the aforesaid, lords of these lands, with free, full and absolute power, authority and jurisdiction.
This absolute power and union of the church with civil authorities worked great harm in the colonies, and Mexico had more than her full share. It is simply another illustration of the fact that special privileges are difficult to eradicate when established by long usage, and those enjoying them yield only to force. The Church, which had imposed on the people such a vast number of priests, friars and nuns, and had acquired most of the wealth of the country, clung with the grip of death to its privileges and property. Brazil is the only country of South America where the two forces have been separated, and Mexico is the most conspicuous of the North American Latin republics.
If we, as citizens of the United States, in reading our early colonial history, think that our forefathers had reason to feel aggrieved against the mother country, and if we believe that the events of the Boston Tea Party and other disturbances which antedated the Revolutionary War were justified, how much more reason the colonists of the Spanish American colonies had to be indignant toward their mother country. Our forefathers had not one-tenth of the grievances to complain of that could be found in the treatment of Mexico, Peru, Chile and the other Spanish provinces because of their misrule by Spain. The entire colonial system of Spain in South and Central America was one of selfishness, cruelty and tyranny.
The policy actuating Spain and dictating her treatment of her New World provinces was well expressed by one of the Mexican viceroys as follows:
Let the people of these dominions learn once for all that they were born to be silent and to obey, and not to discuss or to have opinions in political affairs.
As a consequence of its narrow and almost inhuman policy, local human rights were not recognized by the
government of Spain. It was treason for a man to assert his freedom, or to seek a free field for his labor. He could not enter into business without the consent of an official. The natives were compelled to labor for the conquerors without profit. Imposing buildings were constructed, cities 'were encircled with massive walls, great monasteries, churches and convents rose on the hills, all by the unrequited toil of generations of these impressed natives. Education was denied, and the local governors, including in many instances the ecclesiastical officials, united in this system of repression and disregard of human rights.
Trade with foreign countries was wholly prohibited, and all mineral wealth was heavily taxed. The sole purpose of the colonial policy of Spain in the matter of trade seemed to be to protect the trading monopoly, which had been farmed out to the merchants of Cadiz, and to keep a record of the production of silver and gold in order to insure the collection of the royal one-fifth. This policy is shown in its greatest absurdity in the treatment of Argentina. Every Atlantic port of South America was closed to traffic except Nombre de Dios on the coast of Panama. Everything destined for that continent, even for the mouth of the Rio de la Plata, had to be landed there, transported across the Isthmus, reloaded to vessels on the Pacific bound for Callao, and from there again transported overland across the mighty heights of the Andes. The governors of Buenos Aires were instructed to forbid all importation and exportation from that port under penalty of death and forfeiture of property to those engaged in it.
Spain continued to send all of her viceroys, captainsgeneral, archbishops, etc., from the mother country. Of the one hundred and seventy viceroys who ruled in the Americas, only four were of American birth, and those were reared, as well as educated, in Spain. The same would hold true of the archbishops, captains-general, and other chief officials. Some of these officials were good, but most of them were either bad or indifferent. Of the governors of Argentina, all were Spaniards with one exception— Saavedra-and this man is one of the brightest names dur
ing the seventeenth century.
He retained the confidence
of both natives and Spaniards by his reputation for giving a square deal to all sides.
It is not to be wondered at, and in fact no other result could be expected by the intelligent and unprejudiced student of history, than that three centuries of such rule should have an important effect upon the character of the colonies over which it was exercised. It has long been a disputed question, and a favorite subject for debate in literary societies, as to which force, whether that of heredity or environment, exercises the greatest influence in the development of character; but the partisans of each side recognize and will readily admit that both heredity and environment are dominant forces in the development of the character of the individual and the nation as well. Therefore we can not do otherwise in trying to decide the underlying causes of the unrest existing in Mexico, and which at times breaks forth in some of the other republics to the south of us, than consider this element and placing upon it considerable stress. Someone may say that a hundred years has passed since the Spanish rule was practically broken in the New World, but a hundred years is too short a time in the life of a nation to overcome fully the evil effects of such an environment superimposed upon the hereditary feature that has already been mentioned.
Hence it is that in studying the history of Mexico and the other Latin-American republics, that although we find Mexico's Hidalgo, Venezula's Bolivar, Argentina's San Martin, and other patriots whom we may well place by the side of our beloved Washington, at the same time we find Santa Ana of Mexico, Carrera of Guatemala, Rosas of Argentina, Lopez of Paraguay, and many others who might be mentioned, for whom we can find no counterpart in the history of the United States, unless someone might suggest the name of Aaron Burr. Burr was undoubtedly willing to plunge his native land into war to further his selfish ambitions, but he could not find enough followers. These men had inherited to the full the mediaeval idea of feudalism that might always makes right, that and one is justified
in pushing his power to the uttermost by the force of arms in gaining his own selfish ends. These men had no more regard for the rights of the individual, or for the inherent claims of human liberty, than had Spain or the viceroys whom she sent to govern the colonies in the New World. We can appreciate the sentiment that led to the self abnegation of San Martin, who sacrificed home, friends and honors after assisting in the establishment of three republics, and even submitted to cruel charges of ingratitude and cowardice rather than take part in the divisions of the factions fighting among themselves for place in his beloved fatherland. Few finer examples of unselfishness are recorded in the world's history. We can realize the truth contained in the political document left by General Bolivar, which concludes with these words: "I have ploughed in the seas."
In only a few of the republics of the New World to the south of us has there been any great amount of new blood introduced by way of immigration. Spain forbade immigrants to come into her colonies, and the natural resources of most of the others have not attracted those seeking new homes in any great numbers since the ban was removed. The exceptions to this general statement are Argentina and Brazil. To both of those republics thousands upon thousands of immigrants have come each year for a considerable period, and the good results of this influx are shown in the increased steadiness of the republican form of government. These immigrants have been mostly Italians and Spaniards, although in Brazil a very large colony of Germans have made their home. But the Spaniards who have come in this recent immigration are different from those early adventurers who first sought these shores. They are men who do not seek gold or any easy road to wealth; they are not men who toil not, neither do they spin, but they come to their new homes with the purpose and expectation of earning their bread by the actual sweat of their brow, and asking only that a fair remuneration be given them in return for this expenditure of energy. They are the same type of people as the Germans and the English and the