We arrived at the beautiful capital of the United States that same day, the 22nd, at five in the afternoon, and were received at the station by the Minister of Mexico, Mr. Matias Romero, as well as the employees of the Legation, Messrs. Vicente Morales and Francisco Pasalagua. Also present at the reception were Mr. Charles S. Hill, of the Department of State; Mr. Anderson; Mr. Harry W. Smith; Mr. Fox; and many other gentlemen. The chief of
[Figure] Hotel Willard, Washington.
police was kind enough to place Mr. Lombardi, agent of said body, at our service, for whatever we needed. We crossed Washington’s wide and spacious streets in open cars all the way to the Hotel Willard, where the Mexican flag was waving.
We were lodged there and treated like royalty; after eating, we went out to take a stroll through the city and some of its beautiful parks, which are said capital’s attraction. The Hotel Willard is located in the most central part of the city; it is a very elegant five-story building and it is where all the prominent men in the world of politics meet. At night, there was a reception, which many people were kind enough to attend, including the members of the Venezuelan Legation; Mr. Romero, the Minister of Mexico; Mr. Pasalagua, member of the Legation; Dr. Thomas R. Keech, his distinguished wife, and very beautiful daughter, who played the piano admirably; Mrs. Lincoln, a notable writer, and her esteemed husband; Miss A. Robena Taylor, also a distinguished writer; Mr. Harry W. Smith; Mr. W.W. Burhams; Mr. William E.
[Figure] The White House, Washington.
Ringwall; Mr. John P. Miller; and a multitude of ladies and gentlemen, whose names would be impossible for me to remember. They served refreshments; the ladies were presented with bouquets of natural flowers; Miss Amalia Paz played the piano with the accustomed expression; and we, the travelers, retired around eleven at night.
The 23rd was a day of mourning for the great Republic, as well as for us, since we esteemed General Grant as a sincere friend of Mexico. A telegraph announced that the illustrious soldier of liberty
had passed away at Mount McGregor after eight in the morning. Official mourning should begin and all public offices should close at ten, as was de rigueur; but due to an unprecedented honor toward us, which require nothing less than our acknowledgement,
the mourning was suspended and President Cleveland received us in the White House. There, we were introduced one by one and, after a short meeting that took place in the sumptuous reception hall, we bid farewell to the president who, in general terms, manifested the pleasure our visit brought him. The White House is the ordinary residence of the Executive leader of the Union; it was constructed by a famous Irish architect and modeled after the Duke of Leinster’s palace. Its interior is very elegant and it boasts an infinite number of luxurious objects, rich tapestries, mirrors,
[Figure] The White House– View from the South, Washington.
stucco, and infinite number of capricious articles that cannot be explained. We left to head for the grandiose palace of granite occupied by the Offices of Relations, War, and Navy. In the corresponding department, we were introduced to the Honorable Mr. Bayard, a statesman with a charming physiognomy, with light-colored, lively eyes, very refined manners, and not very advanced in age. With silver and eloquent speech, he welcomed us; he expressed himself in kind terms regarding Mexico and its relations with the United States; he said that he was very pleased with the visit that the Mexican journalists
had paid to the Northern Republic; he assured us that nothing could upset the good harmony that exists between this country and Mexico, because the current administration of the United States, motivated by the best hopes, would never take a step that could be judged as hazardous to the independence of any free people, such as the Mexicans; and lastly, he addressed us with words of courtesy. Of note was the cordial welcome offered by the intelligent Mr. Bayard, who is one of the most prominent men of America because of his knowledge and good judgment. .
Designated by Mr. Paz to follow such an elegant speech,
[Figure] State, War, and Navy Building in Washington.
the Licentiate Arroyo de Ancla spoke in a calm manner; he gave thanks for the brilliant welcome that he was giving us; expressed our feelings for the irreparable loss of General Grant; and gave his condolences to the nation through his dignified conduct, assuring, in addition, the esteem with which we listened to his authorized voice, regarding the matters of Mexico.
Even Mr. Bayard replied to this, expressing the high regard in which the people held General Grant’s virtues.
Next, let us direct our attention to the department of the Navy, where Secretary Whitney, a dashing and arrogant young man, wearing a light-colored suit,
greeted us with a short address, through which the loyalty and frankness of his character seemed to show through. Then we greeted the Deputy Secretary of War, who also greeted us cordially, and the Licentiate Arroyo de Anda answered both with kind, but modest phrases. The building we went to afterward is that which the Secretary of Treasury occupies; it is one of the most sumptuous of this city; it has four, almost equal façades and is worthy of being seen because of its loftiness. The Cash Department, where many millions of dollars are stored in cash, is of notable beauty and possesses a varied collection of foreign marbles that call
[Figure] Department of Treasury, Washington.
the traveler’s attention. The Deputy Secretary of the Treasury addressed us with a cordial greeting, which, like that of his colleagues, was opportunely answered by the Licentiate Arroyo de Anda. The Patent Office, located in the sumptuous building designated for the Department of the Interior, is spacious and merits the attention of observant men, due to its numerous charms and the order that reigns throughout it. Before entering this Office, we took a group picture, which received attention in many places. After paying the corresponding visit to said department and appreciating
its comforts, we visited the Army Medical Museum building, that had once been Ford’s Theatre, which the Government bought for having been the place where President Lincoln was assassinated and is now dedicated to the abovementioned purpose.
[Figure] Department of the Interior, Washington.
During the day, we contemplated the large avenues, the spacious parks, the proud monuments– among which, the most outstanding, due to its height, is the obelisk erected in honor of Washington, which looks like an immense needle, erected to scratch the sky’s tulle. This monument is made of white marble; it has a pointed end and reaches a height of 555 feet.
Washington is perhaps the most elegant of American cities, due to its cleanliness, its asphalt pavement, its immense groves, its comfortable lodgings, and its wide streets. It possesses superb buildings, among which the Capitol stands out, with its bold cupola, its grand façades, its elegant arches, its rich marble, its very beautiful paintings, and its magnificent statues. The cupola is crowned by Freedom, a statue of great merit, according to the intellectuals. This Capitol is elevated on a hill and is placed in such a way that, occupying the center,
the city streets radiate from it like a star, drawn with notable intelligence by the engineer who created its plan. Indescribable is the magnificence that the Capitol flaunts in its interior. The rotunda,
[Figure] Washington’s Capitol.
covered by the building’s grandiose cupola, displays valuable historic scenes, monoliths, and a multitude of objects that allure and surprise. The House of Representatives and the Senate, the
Department of the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, and other halls of the Capitol contain beauties, which are to be seen by eyes and not described by a pen as clumsy as mine. Beneath the rotunda is a type of chapel, decorated with great luxury, designed to hold the remains of Washington and his wife; this idea has not been carried out, due to this great man’s descendants’ refusal to remove his ashes from Mount Vernon, and Congress has respected their will. That same afternoon, we visited the Corcoran Gallery of paintings that enjoys
[Figure] Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington.
universal fame, and we were able to see ancient and modern paintings of merit; magnificent statues of plaster, marble, and bronze; as well as bass relieves, worthy of being admired. Entry into this Gallery is only free on three days of the week; it was donated to the City of Washington by a banker and he spent $1,000,000 on it. This city’s Smithsonian Institute is known throughout the scientific world and they hold our Society of Geographic and Statistics in high esteem there. It possesses an elegant building with departments for its diverse cabinets, sessions, and library.
[Figure] Smithsonian Institute, Washington.
Men of science never stop visiting this honorable and illustrious collection. The Department of Agriculture is located in a lovely
[Figure] Department of Agriculture, Washington.
[Figure] Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Washington.
building and near it is that of Engraving and Printing, where the Government houses printing offices for bills, bonds,
[Figure] National Museum, Washington
stamps, etc., which employs excellent machinery and a great number of workers. The National Museum contains curiosities from all parts of the globe; the great ball dedicated to President Garfield in the year 1881, for his elevation to power, was held there. The Pension Office, with its grandiose cupola in the center, is a building
[Figure] Pension Office, Washington.
notable for its style. I would never finish if I tried to write an exact description of Washington, the beautiful sultana lulled by the murmur of the Potomac’s waters, and by the gentle breezes of its hills.
A splendid banquet had been prepared for us for the night of the 23rd; the menu
was printed with colored letters on porcelain plates, which bore crossed Mexican and United States flags; the flags had been engraved on the coffee cups. In short, many preparations had been made, but I cannot refer to all of them in detail. We indicated that since the entire country was in mourning, we did not think it fit to accept such a handsome gift. They conceded to our reasoning, and the distinguished citizens of Washington, who had so skillfully prepared the party, were good enough to suspend it, giving us some pieces of that special chinaware, which we kept as a souvenir of the politeness with which the Capital of the United States knows how to honor its guests.The Post
, an illustrious Washington newspaper,
[Figure] Some monuments, Washington.
published something regarding this matter on the following day, which I find opportune to reproduce here. The referred journal says:
“When the Mexican writers, who are visiting us, heard the news of General Grant’s death, they supplicated that the banquet, which was going to be given in their honor last night, not be held, and therefore,
it was agreed upon. They met to determine the role that they should take, with respect to the death of General Grant, and as a result, their president addressed the following telegrams.
‘Washington, July 23, 1885– To Colonel Frederick D. Grant, Mount McGregor. – The travelers of the Mexican Associated Press send their most heartfelt sympathies to the illustrious General Grant’s family and, through them, to the entirety of America. The family has lost their dignified leader, the people of the United States, one of its most illustrious heroes, and Mexico, one of its best friends.
‘I. Paz, President.– A. Arroyo de Anda, Secretary.
‘Washington, July 23, 1885. – To General Porfirio Diaz, Mexico– The travelers of the Mexican Associated Press send their condolences to you and, though you, to all of the Republic, for the passing on of the illustrious American hero, General Ulysses S. Grant, through which Mexico has lost one of its best friends.
I. Paz, President.– A. Arroyo de Anda, Secretary.
The same newspaper, after having included courteous praise for the Licentiate Arroyo de Anda, refers to the conversation that he had with one of the reporters and I take the liberty of copying the following lines from it:
Mexicans will feel the death of General Grant as profoundly as citizens of the United States.
“This is a moment of supreme pain for the United States and we, who are Mexican, share it. We deeply feel the loss of the great man, champion of liberty, and fervent friend of our country, just as much as you do.
“When General Grant was in Mexico, he became extremely popular.
“His great career is almost as well known in Mexico as in the United States. His name is familiar and loved among our people and does not represent the vague idea that the name of a distinguished foreigner brings to the imagination, since General Grant’s noble qualities are well known.
“Our people consider him to be like Napoleon, and no people in the world admire the great military genius more.
“He did much to promote the progress of the Republic; he became personally interested in the construction of our railways
and lent his name to the support of the establishment of diverse companies. Maybe that is why he was so popular when he was in Mexico, and since then, he has been the object of major admiration.
“Our newspapers, just as yours, referred daily to the changes in his condition during his lengthy sickness, and our people paid attention to the progress of his sickness with growing anxiety. The news of his death caused mourning throughout the entire Republic, due to the loss of the greatest military champion of republican institutions. Our cities will go into mourning just like yours, and large funerary honors will take place in Mexico City in his name, even though his body is in the United States, because, as you know, when a man dies, who has won a place in our heart, we hold what is called a funeral vigil in his honor, in which we recreate the funeral scene, complete with the catafalque and all the funerary displays. Our principal poets, orators, and public figures attend and recite analogous speeches before a large, select audience.
“We performed this ceremony at President Garfield’s death and, afterward, we have held only one other funeral vigil, in honor of General Arista, former president of the Mexican Republic, who died in Lisbon; and I believe that the grief that the Mexicans feel at the loss of this great man will be manifested with a great funeral vigil.”
When the reporter asked if the travelers had been to Mount McGregor, he answered:
“Yes, it has been precisely two weeks since we visited Mount McGregor to pay our respects to the great soldier and to take him proof of our sympathies in this misfortune.
“We did not expect more than to see him through the window, and the doctors were opposed to our meeting, but the General had the excessive amiability to insist that we be introduced to him, even though he was suffering greatly at the time.
“I greeted him in my companions’ names and we immediately tried to retire without waiting for an answer, but he did not allow us to retire until he wrote a long answer, in which he expressed the deepest sentiments of friendship for our country. It took him a very long time to write and the effort it took him to do so must have fatigued him, but he did not let us leave until the speech, which he had had read and translated, concluded.
“We will never forget the amiability with which he received us nor the interest he manifested for our country. His friendship toward Mexico has been well known by our people; but when we return and recount these events, he will be better understood and his loss will be more deeply felt.
“We have lost a great man and a good friend.”
Some of the travelers spent the first hours of the night in the theater and later breathing in sweet breezes on the city’s avenues, we retired to the hotel so as to be able to continue on the 24th with the prepared schedule.
[Figure] White House grounds, Washington.
Washington and Mount Vernon.
On the morning of the 24th, around ten, we embarked on the steamship Corcoran, which, crossing the waters of the Potomac, took us to Mount Vernon, a picturesque hill on which the house where Washington lived, and where his and his wife’s remains are kept, is conserved. In that solitary place, populated by trees, where only the song of birds is heard,
[Figure] Mount Vernon.
sleeps, in the grave’s eternal slumber, the genius who knew how to create an altar in the heart of his people, who pay perennial tribute to his
memory. We stood for a long time in front of the chapel where he rested– he, who was, according to his admirers, first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen. We saw various sepulchers in the same place, where some members of this great leader’s family rested; and then we went into the house in which this illustrious patrician lived. There, you can see objects that belonged to him, which the American people save with veneration; standing out among many other historical curiosities is the key to Bastille, which Lafayette gave to the Father of American Independence. We visited all the rooms in that house, which reasonably recall the genius who knew how to transform a people subjected to foreign tutelage into a free people, capable of commanding respect because of their grandeur. There, one can effortlessly remember the elegant Castilian writer, Concepcion Gimeno de Flaquer who, in her just longing to elevate the fairer sex, describes Washington’s mother as the perfect model of honor and virtue. She reasonably attributes the quality of having educated the hero to her and, in short, describes her as follows:
“Believe us, atheist children are not born of profoundly religious mothers. That is why the great man, whose biography we write, that is why Washington always maintained faith in God.
“Washington has been one of the most virtuous leaders that the centuries have known.
“When they reelected him for the third time, he did not want to accept the presidency of the Republic, and answered:
“What is the difference between a Republic and Monarchy with such constant reelection?
Washington has sustained this epitaph of posterity: First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen
“The following phrases are found in Guizot’s opuscule: ‘Washington lacked ambition, his country needed him and he made himself great to serve it. He accepted the public charges out of duty, rather than pleasure, and even making a painful sacrifice. The tests of public life seemed bitter to him; he preferred the independence of private life and the repose of the soul to the exercise of power. Great in everything, he accepted without hesitating under the fatigue that his country imposed upon him, not permitting any complacency to alleviate its weight.’
“Washington’s politics were so wise that it is known among statesmen as middle ground politics.
“As an adorer of justice, his decisions were not affected by self love, routine theories, or rivalries of any type.
“His acts contained a truly independent character; they did not obey any system.
“Love of the truth was so large in him that it was easier for him to pardon a crime than a lie. When he was a child, his mother had told him that to lie was cowardly and since then he hated deception.
“They refer to a time when, playing in the garden at his house with other children of his age, he chopped down a beautiful and valuable bush1
When his father found out about the damage, he armed himself with a whip to flog the author of the crime and addressed the servants, demanding that they show him the guilty party. They all trembled upon seeing the master enraged; George Washington fled at the first moment of his father’s presence; but, suddenly, he remembered that phrase, which his mother had subtly pronounced: to lie is cowardice;
and upon recalling it, he searched for his father and told him: YI have chopped down the bush.
“If all mothers educated their children in the severest rectitude, with the most inflexible duty, and purest moral, Washington’s type would be multiplied. Souvestre2 calls such an excellent woman a heroine of modest virtues, a Christian Spartan; Mary Ball was prouder of her son’s achievements than her own, so much so that, before she died, she ordered that no inscription other than this
simple phrase be written on her tomb:
MARY, MOTHER OF WASHINGTON.
“When Jackson, president of the United States in 1833, went on May 7 to place the first stone for the erection of a monument over this great woman’s tomb, he read the brief epitaph and exclaimed:
“Better praise could not have been written upon this stone; these are four words that will make our hearts beat forever.
“Washington’s successor pronounced a funerary prayer that exalted the son just as much as the mother.
“Blessed are mothers like Mary Bell!
“Honor and glory to the memory of Washington’s mother!”
We had contemplated everything that was worthy of admiration; we had seen the splendid panorama that unfolded before us; we had taken a picture in that place when Mr. E.W. Fox, president of the Reception Committee, called us for an improvised lunch, from which nothing was missing. At the opportune hour, after addressing us with some kind phrases and after paying tribute to the memory of General Grant, Mr. Fox took the floor and delivered a very passionate speech, in which he manifested the desires that the American people have for Mexico’s growth. After applauding said gentleman as he deserved, Mr. Paz expressed thanks for the reception held for us and presented Dr. Mendizábal so that he could answer the greeting that has been directed toward us. Said gentleman answered in such elegant words, was so inspired, and expressed himself in such an eloquent manner that I do not dare give even a faint idea of his speech. When he concluded, he was applauded loudly and the ladies gave him a bouquet made of flowers from Mount Vernon of which the referred Mr. Mendizábal said: "“I will keep them with special care all the days of life, which Heaven concedes to me, and I will tell my children to save them, like one of the most splendid trophies that I have achieved in my tribune struggles.”
At that point, we toasted Mexican women and the Licentiate Arroyo de Anda, named to respond, briefly said the following:
“Ladies and gentlemen, the silence that our lips have maintained, due to General Grant’s death, has been interrupted in this place, where we consecrate some moments in memory of General Washington. The reception committee president has mentioned Mexican women, entrusting me with the honor of responding to his toast for them. The memory of heroes is always tied to the idea of woman. As a mother, she molds the heart, and as a wife, she inspires hope and is the incentive to march down the glorious path of heroism.
“The American people have understood this, placing the tombs of the General and Mrs. Washington together, honoring both at the same time.”
Mr. Fox introduced Mr. E.H. Talbott, alluding
to the great service he had lent both countries by organizing the excursion, and the referred gentleman, with his accustomed ease, said words similar to those that follow. He expressed that he considered it an honor to present the people of the United States to the estimable ladies and gentlemen who contributed to the expansion of social and commercial relations between the two great republics. He added that, in his opinion, what the American people needed to do was see and hear the Mexican journalists and these, in turn, needed to preferably see and hear the American people and that nothing be said about their persons. He also added that, in everyone’s opinion, the attentions lavished on the representatives of the Mexican press were directed toward people of good judgment and elevated personal character. They came to see and study, he continued saying, and after they have seen and studied, they will return to their country as better and truer friends of this nation, better and truer friends of our institutions, our people, our customs, and our commerce.
Once Mr. Talbott was applauded– not only for the laudable ideas expressed, but also for his personal modesty– we toasted to the presidents of Mexico and the United States; the honor of responding fell upon me. So, I said that I associated myself, on behalf of my companions, with the good wishes manifested by the gentleman that had just spoken in honor of the two supreme magistrates; I praised President Cleveland’s international policy, making an allusion to the words with which the Honorable Mr. T.F. Bayard had greeted us, explaining the conduct of their government with respect to other nations and especially regarding what it could import into Mexico. I acknowledged the mentioning of President General Porfirio Díaz, assuring that he was one of Mexico’s purest glories– that he fought for his country’s independence without resources and without elements, with bravery and energy, seizing his enemy’s arms and defeating them in horrendous armed events, such as those in Carbonera, Miahuatlan, and Puebla on the memorable April 2nd. I added that, as a statesman, he had known how to overcome petty preoccupations, impelling his country down the true road of growth and reinforcing peace, like the secure pledge of moral and material progress to a people, who were, in another time, victims to ambitions and revolts that have passed on to history. I finished by saying that I
also toasted to the two presidents, desiring the prosperity of both countries, whose destinies they governed, forever securing the independence of both and the mutual respect of their legitimate interests.
We rose from the table and returned across the Potomac in the same steamship that had taken us to Mount Vernon. During the trip, we conversed with some ladies, especially with the intelligent writer, Miss A. Robena Taylor, who sincerely praised every Mexican she had met. Miss Taylor presented us her album, so that we could write our names in it and various travelers wrote in it, and I wrote, at full speed, some verses that I find impossible to copy here, since I do not have them at hand. We passed the hours of our return happily and upon returning to Washington, the first thing that Mr. Mendizábal, Mr. Icaza, and I did was accompany Mr. Pasalagua to visit His Excellency, Mr. Juan de Valera, Minister of Spain, an author known in Mexico for his critical studies and above all for his precious novels, among which Pepita
Jimenezstands out, in my opinion. Mr. Valera could not hide his origin; frank, friendly, of simple and eloquent speech, even in casual conversation, he made us have a great time at his side, only sorry that he could not prolong our visit due to shortness of time. While talking to Mr. Varela, the hours fly by incredibly fast.
He praised some of our distinguish countrymen, such as the illustrious Mr. Montes de Oca and Mr. Garcia Icazbalceta, additionally expressing the desires he has of visiting Mexico, a country he called Spain’s favorite child. After shaking hands, we bid each other farewell and went to the hotel to meet up with our companions. Once together, the persons from the commission took us to the picturesque and elegant Soldiers’ Home forest, the location of a retirement home for soldiers who lent their services during the war and are no longer able to secure their subsistence through their own work. The truth is that there, the soldiers live lives of princes, which, in good earnest, they actually deserve, and it is pleasing to contemplate that the country is grateful for its worthy sons. The park is one of the most striking that I have seen, due to its size, its lush groves, the rugged terrain, and the panoramic view in every direction. In the car that I occupied, two gentlemen, whom I found to be quite respectable, traveled with me,
Mr. Ward Batchelor and Mr. Emilio Malo, United States Consul in Manzanillo. Mr. Batchelor is pleasant, due to his conversation and fine manners; and Mr. Malo has all the aspects of a Mexican– he speaks Spanish perfectly and remembers all the popular songs of Colima. The afternoon was delightful: the sky, a clear blue, looked like Mexico’s sky to me at that moment; the western sun colored the clouds gold, pink, and scarlet; the darkening tree foliage
[Figure] Soldier's Home, Washington.
highlighted the picture; and lastly, the Capitol, in the distance, and the tall obelisk completed that enchanting landscape. The soldiers that live in that type of paradise are splendidly attended to by the Federal Government, without having to render any service. This institute, after the Philadelphia Sanitarium (which are the two that moved us the most because of their work), left us with a very pleasing impression of the United States because the American people are not only hardworking, active, and enterprising, but also have all kinds of institutions to help the unfortunate. Monuments erected to great men exist here, as in all countries, but the one that called our attention the most was the one consecrated to the memory of the sailors who died in the last Civil War.
At eight thirty at night, we headed toward the Hotel, where a funeral vigil was held in memory of General Grant. The parlor was suitably decorated in mourning and, once the travelers were in the company of various families, the service began, presided over by Mr. Paz, who opened the ceremony with a brief speech. Messrs. Saldaña and Gómez Portugal pronounced eloquent speeches in which they lamented the loss of the hero whom we had greeted a few days earlier. Afterward, Manuel Caballero recited a beautiful poem that captivated the entire audience, especially a young Israeli woman, who speaks proper and elegant Spanish. It was my turn, and I then read a poem that was benevolently received. Mr. Paz, president of the Associated Press, closed the service, expressing that, although General Grant’s death had caused deep and indescribable grief on us because of the friendship he professed to Mexico, he believed that the opportune moment had arrived to explain to the press and citizens of the United States that during our travels, we had made good friends and hoped that they would help us expand the relations and communication that should exist between the two countries, thereby fulfilling the most fervent desires of General Ulysses S. Grant, whose memory we had honored with justice.
After the funeral vigil, we returned to our rooms to rest, since we had to depart the following day; this is what everyone did except for me, as I wanted to walk down the streets and see the Capitol one last time.