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MURDER OF VICE-PRESIDENT F L O R E S. 197
him with it, tore off his cap, and dragged him by the hair. He escaped from these furies and ran up into the pulpit. The alarm-bell was sounded, and all the rabble of the town poured into the plaza. A few soldiers endeavoured to cover the entrance to the church, but were assailed with stones and clubs; and the mob, bearing down all opposition, forced its way into the church, making the roof ring with cries of " Death to the heretic!" Rushing toward the pulpit, some tried to unhinge it, others to scale it; others struck at the unhappy vice-chief with knives tied to the ends of long poles; while a young fiend, with one foot on the mouldings of the pulpit and the other elevated in the air, leaned over and seized him by the hair. The curate, who was in the pulpit with him, frightened at the tempest he had assisted to raise, held up the Holy of Holies, and begged the mob to spare him, promising that he should leave the city immediately. The unhappy Flores, on his knees, confirmed these promises; but the friars urged on the mob, who became so excited with religious phrensy, that, after kneeling before the figure of the Saviour, exclaiming, "We adore thee, oh Lord, we venerate thee," they rose up with the ferocious cry, "but for thy honour and glory this blasphemer, this heretic, must die!" They dragged him from the pulpit across the floor of the church, and in the cloisters threw him into the hands of the fanatic and furious horde, when the women, like unchained furies, with their fists, sticks, and stones, beat him to death. His murderers stripped his body, leaving it, disfigured and an object of horror, exposed to the insults of the populace, and then dispersed throughout the city, demanding the heads of Liberals, and crying " Viva la Religion, y mueran los heregos del Congresso." About the same time
religious fanaticism swept the state, and the Liberal party was crushed in Guatimala.
But the state of San Salvador, from the beginning the leader in Liberal principles, was prompt in its efforts of vengeance, and on the sixteenth of March, 1827, its army appeared within the outer gates of Guatimala, threatening the destruction of the capital; but religious fanaticism was too strong; the priests ran through the streets exhorting the people to take up arms, the friars headed mobs of women, who, with drawn knives, swore destruction to all who attempted to overturn their religion, and the San Salvadoreans were defeated and driven back. For two years the parties were at open war. In 1829 the troops of San Salvador, under General Morazan, who had now become the head of the Liberal party, again marched upon Guatimala, and, after three days' fighting, entered it in triumph. All the leaders of the Central party, the Aycinenas, the Pavons, and Pefioles, were banished or fled, the convents were broken up, the institution of friars abolished, the friars themselves put on board vessels and shipped out of the country, and the archbishop, anticipating banishment, or perhaps fearing a worse fate, sought safety in flight.
In 1831 General Morazan was elected president of the republic; at the expiration of the term he was reelected: and for eight years the Liberal party had the complete ascendancy. During the latter part of his term, however, there was great discontent, particularly on account of forced loans and exactions for the support of government, or, as the Centralists said, to gratify the rapacity of unscrupulous and profligate officeholders. The Church party was always on the alert. The exiles in the United States and Mexico, and on the
POLITICAL STATE OF OUATIM.11A. 199
frontier, with their eyes always fixed upon home, kept up constant communications, and fostered the growing discontents. Some of them, in a state of penury abroad, ventured to return, and these not being molested, others soon followed. At this time came on the rising of Carrera, which was at first more dreaded by the Centralists than the Liberals, but suddenly, and to their own utter astonishment, placed the former nominally at the head of government.
In May preceding my arrival the term of the president, senators, and deputies had expired, and no elections had been held to supply their places. The vicepresident, who had been elected during an unexpired term, was the only existing officer of the Federal Government. The states of Guatimala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica had declared themselves independent of the Federal Government. The states of San Salvador and Quezaltenango sustained the Federal Government, and Morazan, as commander-in-chief of the Federal forces, had defeated Ferrera, and established troops in Honduras, which gave the Liberal party the actual control of three states.
Virtually, then, the states stood "three and three." Where was my government? The last Congress, before its dissolution, had recommended that panacea for political ills, a convention to amend the Constitution. The governments of England and France were represented near that of Central America by consuls general. Neither had any treaty; England could not procure one except upon a surrender of all claim to the Island of Roatan, in the Bay of Honduras, and to Balize. One had been drawn up with France, but, though pressed with great earnestness by the consul general of that country, the senate refused to ratify it, Ours was the only government that had any treaty with Central America, and, up to the time of Mr. De Witt's departure from the country, we were represented by a charge d'affaires. The British consul-general had published a circular denying the existence of the general government; the French consul was not on good terms with either party; and my arrival, and the course I might take, were a subject of some interest to politicians.
There was but one side to politics in Guatimala. Both parties have a beautiful way of producing unanimity of opinion, by driving out of the country all who do not agree with them. If there were any Liberals, I did not meet them, or they did not dare to open their lips. The Central party, only six months in power, and still surprised at being there, was fluttering between arrogance and fear. The old families, whose principal members had been banished or politically ostracized, and the clergy, were elated at the expulsion of the Liberal party, and their return to what they considered their natural right to rule the state; they talked of recalling the banished archbishop and friars, restoring the privileges of the Church, repairing the convents, reviving monastic institutions, and making Guatimala what it had once been, the jewel of Spanish America.
One of my first visits of ceremony was to Sefior Rivera Paz, the chief of the state. I was presented by Mr. Henry Savage, who had formerly acted as United States consul at Guatimala, and was the only American resident, to whom I am under many obligations for his constant attentions. The State of Guatimala, having declared its independence of the Federal government, was at that time governed by a temporary body called a Constituent Assembly. On the last entry of
Carrera into the city, in March preceding my arrival, Salazar, the chief of the state, fled, and Carrera, on horseback, knocked at the door of Señor Rivera Paz before daylight, and, by his individual pleasure, installed nim as chief. It was a fortunate choice for the people of Guatimala. He was about thirty-eight, gentlemanly in his appearance and manners, and, in all the trying positions in which he was afterward placed, exhibited more than ordinary prudence and judgment. I had been advised that it would be agreeable to the government of Guatimala for me to present my credentials to the chief of that state, and afterward to the chiefs of the other states, and that the states separately would treat of the matters for which I was accredited to the general government. The object of this was to preclude a recognition on my part of the power which was, or claimed to be, the general government. The suggestion was of course preposterous, but it showed the dominion of party-spirit with men who knew better. Señor Rivera Paz expressed his regret at my happening to visit the country at such an unfortunate period, and assured me of the friendly disposition of that state, and that it would do all in its power to serve me. During my visit I was introduced to several of the leading members of the administration, and I left with a favourable opinion of Rivera Paz, which was never shaken in regard to him personally. In the evening, in company with Mr. Hall, I attended the last meeting of the Constituent Assembly. It was held in the old Hall of Congress; the room was large, hung with portraits of old Spaniards distinguished in the history of the country, and dimly lighted. The deputies sat on a platform at one end, elevated about six feet, and the president on an elevation in a