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reformation. The wisdom of our sages and blood of our heroes have been devoted to their attainment: they should be the creed of our political faith ; the text of civil in. struction; the touchstone by which to try the services of those we trust; and should we wander from them in moments of error or alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps, and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety.
I repair, then, fellow-citizens, to the post you have assigned me. With experience enough in subordinate offices to have seen the difficulties of this, the greatest of all, I have learnt to expect that it will rarely fall to the lot of imperfect man to retire from this station with the reputation and the favor which bring him into it. Without pretensions to that high confidence you reposed in our first and great revolutionary character, whose preeminent services had entitled him to the first place in his country's love, and destined for him the fairest page in the volume of faithful history, I ask so much confidence only as may give firmness and effect to the legal administration of your affairs. I shall often go wrong through defect of judgment. When right, I shall often be thought wrong by those whose positions will not command a view of the whole ground. I ask your indulgence for my own errors, which will never be intentional; and your support against the errors of others, who may condemn what they would not, if seen in all its parts. The approbation implied by your suffrage is a consolation to me for the past; and my future solicitude will be to retain the good opinion of those who have bestowed it in advance, to conciliate that of others by doing them all the good in my power, and to be instrumental to the happiness and freedom of all.
Relying, then, on the patronage vi your good will, I advance with obedience to the work, ready to retire from it whenever you become sensible how much better choices it is in your power to make. And
that infinite Power which rules the destinies of the universe, lead our councils to what is best, and give them a favoralle issue for your peace and prosperity,
DECEMBER 8, 1801. Sir: The circu nstances under which we find our. selves at this place rendering inconvenient the mode heretofore practised, of making by personal address the first communication between the legislative and executive branches, I have adopted that by message, as used on all subsequent occasions through the session. In doing this, I have had principal regard to the inconvenience of the legislature, to the economy of their time, to their relief from the embarrassment of immediate answers on subjects not yet fully before them, and to the benefits thence resulting to the public affairs. Trusting that a procedure founded in these motives will meet their approbation I beg leave, through you, sir, to communicate the en. closed message, with the documents accompanying it, to the honorable the Senate, and pray you to accept, for yourself and them, the homage of my high respect and consideration.
THOMAS JEFFERSON. The Hon. the
PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE.
JEFFERSON'S FIRST ANNUAL MESSAGE,
DECEMBER 8, 1801. Fellow-Citizens of the Senate,
and House of Representatives : It is a circumstance of sincere gratification to me that, on meeting the great council of our nation, I am able to announce to them, on grounds of reasonable certainty, that the wars and troubles which have for so many years afflicted our sister-nations, have at length come to an end, and that the communications of peace and commerce are once more opening among them. Whilst we devoutly return thanks to the beneficent Being who has been pleased to breathe into them the spirit of conciliation and forgiveness, we are bound, with peculiar gratitude, to be thankful to him that o ir own peace has been preserved through so perilous a season, anu ourselves permitted quietly to cultivate the earth, and to practise and improve those arts which tend to increase our comforts. The assurances, indeed, of friendly disposition, received from all the powers with whom we have principal relations, had inspired a confidence that our peace with them would not have been disturbed. But a cessation of irregularities which had affected the commerce of neutral nations, and of the irritations and injuries produced by them, cannot but add to this confidence, and strengthens at the same time the hope that wrongs committed on unoffending friends, under a pressure of circumstances, will now be reviewed with candor, and will be considered as founding just claims of retribution for the past, and new assurances for the future.
Among our Indian neighbors, also, a spirit of peace and friendship generally prevails; and I am happy to inform you that the continued efforts to introduce among them the implements and the practice of husbandry and of the household arts, have not been without success; that they are becoming more and more sensible of the superiority of this dependence for clothing and subsistence, over the precarious resources of hunting and fishing; and already we are able to announce that, instead of that constant diminution of their numbers, produced by their wars and their wants, some of them begin to experience an increase of population.
To this state of general peace with which we have been blessed, one only exception exists. Tripoli, the least considerable of the Barbary States, had come forward with demands unfounded either in right or in compact, and had permitted itself to denounce war, on our failure to comply before a given day. The style of the demand admitted but one answer. I sent a small squadron of frigates into the Mediterranean, with assurances to that power of our sincere desire to remain in peace; but with orders to protect our commerce against the threateneà attack. The measure was seasonable and salutáry. The Bey had already declared war. His cruisers were out. Two had arrived at Gibraltar. Our commerce in the Mediterranean was blockaded, and that of the Atlantic in
peril. The arrival of our squadron dis pelled the danger. One of the Tripolitan cruisers, having fallen in with and engaged the small schooner Enterprise, commanded by Lieutenant Sterret, which had gone as a tender to our larger vessels, was captured, after a heavy slaughter of her men, without the loss of a single one on her part. The bravery exhibited by our citizens on that element will, I trust, be a testimony to the world that it is not the want of that virtue which makes us seek their peace, but a conscientious desire to direct the energies of our nation to the multiplication of the human race, and not to its destruction. Unauthorized by the constitution, without the sanction of Congress, to go beyond the line of defence, the vessel being disabled from committing further hostilities, was liberated with its crew. The legislature will doubtless consider whether, by authorizing measures of offence also, they will place our force on an equal footing with that of its adversaries. I communicate all material information on this subject, that, in the exercise of this important function confided by the constitution to the legislature exclusively, their judgment may form itself on a knowledge and consideration of every circumstance of weight.
I wish I could say that our situation with all the other Barbary States was entirely satisfactory. Discovering that some delays had taken place in the performance of certain articles stipulated by us, I thought it my duty, by immediate measures for fulfilling them, to vindicate to ourselves the right of considering the effect of departure from stipulation on their side. From the papers which will be laid before you, you will be enabled to judge whether our treaties are regarded by them as fixing at all the measure of their demands, or as guarding from the exercise of force our vessels within their power; and to consider how far it will be safe and expedient to leave our affairs with them in their present posture.
I lay before you the result of the census lately taken of our inhabitants, to a conformity with which we are now to reduce the ensuing ratio of representation and taxation. You will perceive that the increase of numbers, during the last ten years, proceeding in geometrical ratio, promises a duplication in little more than twenty-two years. We contemplate this rapid growth, and the prospect it holds up to us, not with a view to the injuries it inay enable us to do to others in some future day, but to · the settlement of the extensive country still remaining vacant within our limits, to the multiplication of men susceptible of happiness, educated in the love of order, habituated to self-government, and valuing its blessings above all price.
Other circumstances, combined with the increase of numbers, have produced an augmentation of revenue arising from consumption, in a ratio far beyond that of population alone; and, though the changes of foreign relations now taking place, so desirable for the world, may for a season affect this branch of revenue, yet, weigh. ing all probabilities of expense, as well as of income there is reasonable ground of confidence that we may now safely dispense with all the internal taxes comprehending excise, stamps, auctions, licenses, carriages, and refined sugars ; to which the postage on newspapers may be added, to facilitate the progress of information; and that the remaining sources of revenue will be sufficient to provide for the support of government, to pay the interest of the public debts, and to discharge the principals within shorter periods than the laws or the general expectation had contemplated. War, indeed, and untoward events, may change this prospect of things, and call for expenses which the imposts could not meet. But sound principles will not justify our taxing the industry of oui fellow-citizens to accumulate treasure for wars to happen we know not when, and which might not perhaps happen, but from the temptations offered by that treasure.
Thuse views, however, of reducing our burdens, are formed on the expectation that a sensible, und, at the same time, a salutary reduction may take place in our habitual expenditures. For this purpose, those of the civil government, the army, and navy, will need revisal. When we corsider that this government is charged with the external and mutual relations only of these states ; that the states themselves have principal care, of our persons, our property, and our reputation, constituting the