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Gentlemen of the House of Commons,
I have directed the Estimates for the current Year to be laid before you.
They have been formed upon a full consideration of all the present circumstances of the Country, with an anxious desire to make every reduction in our Establishments, which the safety of the Empire and sound policy allow.
I recommend the state of the Public Income and Expenditure to your early and serious attention.
I regret to be under the necessity of informing you, that there has been a deficiency in the produce of the Revenue in the last year: but I trust that it is to be ascribed to temporary causes; and I have the consolation to believe, that you will find it practicable to provide for the Public Service of the Year, without making any addition to the burthens of the People, and without adopting any measure injurious to that system by which the Public Credit of the Country has been hitherto sustained.
My Lords and Gentlemen,
I have the satisfaction of informing you, that the arrangements which were made in the last Session of Parliament, with a view to a new Silver Coinage, have been completed with unprecedented expedition.
I have given directions for the immediate issue of the new Coin, and I trust that this measure will be productive of considerable advantages to the trade and internal transactions of the Country.
The distresses consequent upon the termination of a War of such unusual extent and duration have been felt, with greater or less severity, throughout all the Nations of Europe ; and have been considerably aggravated by the unfavourable state of the season.
Deeply as I lament the pressure of these evils upon this Country, I am sensible that they are of a nature not to admit of an immediate remedy; but whilst I observe, with peculiar satisfaction, the fortitude with which so many privations have been borne, and the active benevolence which has been employed to mitigate them, I am persuaded that the great sources of our National prosperity are essentially unimpaired, and I entertain a confident expectation that the native energy of the Country will, at no distant period, surmount all the difficulties in which we are involved.
In considering our internal situation, you will, I doubt not, feel a just indignation at the attempts which have been made to take advantage of the distresses of the Country, for the purpose of exciting a spirit of sedition and violence.
I am too well convinced of the loyalty and good sense of the great ody of His Majesty's Subjects, to believe them capable of being per
verted by the arts which are employed to seduce them; but I am determined to omit no precautions for preserving the Public Peace, and for counteracting the designs of the disaffected : and I rely with the ulmost confidence on your cordial support and co-operation, in upholding a system of Law and Government, from which we have derived inestimable advantages, which has enabled us to conclude, with unesampled glory, a Contest whereon depended the best interests of mankind, and which has been bitherto felt by ourselves, as it is acknowledged by other Nations, to be the most perfect that has ever fallen to the lot of any People.
INAUGURAL ADDRESS of James Monroe to Congress,
upon taking the Oath of Office, as President of The United States.- Washington, 4th March, 1817.
I should be destitute of feeling, if I was not deeply affected by the strong proof which my Fellow Citizens have given me of their confidence, in calling me to the high Office, whose functions I am about to assume. As the expression of their good opinion of my conduct in the Public Service, I derive from it a gratification, which those who are conscious of having done all that they could to merit it, can alone feel. My sensibility is increased by a just estimate of the importance of the trust, and of the nature and extent of its duties; with the proper discharge of which, the highest interests of a great and free People are intimately connected. Conscious of my own deficiency, I cannot enter on these duties without great anxiety for the result.
From a just responsibility I will never shrink; calculating with confidence that, in my best efforts to promote the public welfare, my motives will always be duly appreciated, and my conduct be viewed with that candor and indulgence which I have experienced in other Stations.
In commencing the duties of the Chief Executive Office, it has been the practice of the distinguished Men who have gone before me, to explain the principles which would govern them in their respective Administrations. In following their venerated example, my attention is naturally drawn to the great causes which have contributed, in a principal degree, to produce the present happy condition of The United States. They will best explain the nature of our duties, and shed much light on the policy which ought to be pursued in future.
From the commencement of our Revolution to the present day, almost 40 years have elapsed, and from the establishment of this Copstitution, 28. Through this whole term, the Government has been, what may emphatically be called, Self-government; and what has been the effect? To whatever object we turn our attention, whether it relates to our foreign or domestic concerns, we find abundant cause to felicitate ourselves in the excellence of our Institutions. During a period fraught with difficulties, and marked by very extraordinary events, The United States have flourished beyond example. Their Citizens, individually, have been happy, and the Nation prosperous.
Under this Constitution, our commerce has been wisely regulated with Foreign Nations, and between the States; new States have been admitted into our Union; our Territory has been enlarged, by fair and honorable Treaty, and with great advantage to the original States; and the States respectively, protected by the National Government, under a mild parental system, against foreign dangers, and enjoying within their separate spheres, by a vise partition of power, a just proportion of the Sovereignty, have improved their police, extended their settlements, and attained a strength and maturity, which are the best proofs of wholesome Laws, well administered. And if we look to the condition of Individuals, what a proud spectacle does it exhibit! On whom has oppression fallen in any Quarter of our Union ? Who has been deprived of any right of person or property ?
Who restrained from offering his vows, in the mode which he prefers, to the Divine Author of his being? It is well known that all these blessings have been enjoyed in thieir fullest extent; and I add, with peculiar satisfaction, that there has been no example of a capital punishment being inflicted on any one for the crime of High Treason.
Some, who might admit the competency of our Government to these beneficent duties, might doubt it, in trials, which put to the test its strength and efficiency, as a member of the great community of Nations. Here, too, experience has afforded us the most satisfactory proof in its favor. Just as this Constitution was put into action, several of the principal States of Europe had become much agitated, and some of them seriously convulsed. Destructive wars ensued, which have, of late only, been terminated. In the course of these conflicts, The United States received great injury from several of the Parties. It was their interest to stand aloof from the contest, to demand justice from the Party committing the injury, and to cultivate, by a fair and honorable conduct, the friendship of all. War becaine at length inevitable, and the result has shewn, that our Government is equal to that, the greatest of trials, under the most unfavorable circumstances. Of the virtue of the People, and of the heroic exploits of the Army, the Navy, and the Militia, I need not speak.
Such, then, is the happy Government under which we live; a Government adequate to every purpose for which the social compact is formed; a Government elective in all its branches, under which every Citizen may, by his merit, obtain the highest trust recognized by the Constitution; which contains within it no cause of discord; none to put at variance one portion of the Community with another; a Government which protects every Citizen in the full enjoyment of his rights, and is able to protect the Nation against injustice from Foreign Powers.
Other considerations, of the highest importance, admonish us to cherish our Union, and to cling to the Government which supports it. Fortunate as we are, in our Political lostitutions, we have not been less so in other circumstances, on which our prosperity and happiness essentially depend. Situated within the temperate zone, and extending through many degrees of latitude along the Atlantic, The United States enjoy all the varieties of climate, and every production incident to that portion of the Globe. Penetrating, internally, to the great Lakes, and beyond the sources of the great Rivers which communicate through our whole interior, no Country was ever happier with respect to its domain. Blessed too with a fertile soil, our produce has always been very abundant, leaving, even in years the least favorable, a surplus for the wants of our Fellow Men in other Countries. Such is our peculiar felicity, that there is not a part of our Union that is not particularly interested in preserving it. The great Agricultural interest of the Nation prospers under its protection. Local interests are not less fostered by it. Our Fellow-Citizens of the North, engaged in navigation, find great encouragement in being made the favored carriers of the vast productions of the other portions of The United States, while the Inhabitants of these are amply compensated, in their turn, by the nursery for Seamen and Naval Force, thus formed and reared up for the support of our common rights. Our Manufacturers find a generous encouragement, by the policy which patronizes domestic industry; and the surplus of our produce, a steady and profitable inarket, by local wants, in less favored parts, at home.
Such, then, being the highly favored condition of our Country, it is the interest of every Citizen to maintain it. What are the dangers which menace us? If any exist, they ought to be ascertained and guarded against.
In explaining my sentiments on this subject, it may be asked, what raised us to the present happy state ? How did we accomplish the Revolution ? How remedy the defects of the first instrument of our Union, by infusing into the National Government sufficient power for National purposes, without impairing the just rights of the States, or affecting those of Individuals? How sustain, and pass with glory through the late War? The Government has been in the hands of the People. To the People, therefore, and to the faithful and able depositories of their trust, is the credit due. Had the People of the United States been educated in different principles; had they been less intelligent, less independent, or less virtuous, can it be believed that we should have maintained the same steady and consistent career, or been blessed with the same success? While, then, the Constituent Body
retains its present sound and healthful state, every thing will be safe. They will choose competent and faithful Representatives for every Department. It is only when the People become ignorant and corrupt; when they degenerate into a Populace, that they are incapable of exercising the Sovereignty. Usurpation is then an easy attainment, and an Usurper soon sound. The People themselves become the willing instruments of their own debasement and ruin. Let us, then, look to the great cause, and endeavor to preserve it in full force. Let us, by all wise and constitutional measures, promote intelligence among the People, as the best means of preserving our liberties.
Dangers from Abroad are not less deserving of attention. Experiencing the fortune of other Nations, The United States may again be involved in War, and it may in that event be the object of the adverse Party to overset our Government, to break our Union, and demolish us as a Nation. Our distance from Europe, and the just, moderate, and pacific policy of our Government, may form some security against these dangers, but they ought to be anticipated and guarded against. Many of our Citizens are engaged in commerce and navigation, and all of them are in a certain degree dependent on their prosperous state. Many are engaged in the Fisheries. These interests are exposed to invasion in the Wars belween other Powers, and we should disregard the faithful admonitions of experience if we did not expect it. We must support our rights or lose our character, and with it perhaps our liberties. A People who fail to do it, can scarcely be said to hold a place among Independent Nations. National honor is National property of the highest value. The sentiment in the mind of every Citizen, is National strength. It ought, therefore, to be cherished.
To secure us against these dangers, our Coast and Inland Frontiers should be fortified, our Army and Navy regulated upon just principles as to the force of each, be kept in perfect order, and our Militia be placed on the best practicable footing. To put our extensive Coast in such a state of defence, as to secure our Cities and Interior from Invasion, will be attended with expence, but the work, when finished, will be permanent, and it is fair to presume that a single Campaign of Invasion, by a Naval Force superior to our own, aided by a few thousand Land Troops, would expose us to greater expence, without taking into the estimate the loss of property and distress of our Citizens, than would be sufficient for this great work. Our Land and Naval Forces should be moderate, but adequate to the necessary purposes. The former to garrison and preserve our Fortifications and to meet the first Invasions of a Foreign Foe; and, while constituting the elements of a greater Force, to preserve the science, as well as all the necessary implements of War, in a state to be brought into activity in the event of War. The latter, retained within the limits proper in a