« AnteriorContinuar »
It will merit the consideration of Congress, whether other provision not stipulated by the treaty ought to be made for these tribes, and for the advancement of the liberal and humane policy of the United States toward all the tribes within our limits, and more particularly for their improvement in the arts of civilized life.
Among the advantages incident to these purchases, and to those which have preceded, the security which may thereby be afforded to our inland frontiers is peculiarly important. With a strong barrier, consisting of our own people, thus planted on the lakes, the Mississippi, and the Mobile, with the protection to be derived from the regular force, Indian hostilities, if they do not altogether cease, will henceforth lose their terror. Fortifications in those quarters to any extent will not be necessary, and the expense attending them may be saved. A people accustomed to the use of fire-arms only, as the Indian tribes are, will shun even moderate works which are defended by cannon. Great fortifications will therefore be requisite only in future along the coast, and at some points in the interior connected with it. On these will the safety of towns and the commerce of our great rivers, from the Bay of Fundy to the Mississippi, depend. On these, therefore, should the utmost attention, skill, and labor be bestowed.
A considerable and rapid augmentation in the value of all the public lands, proceeding from these and other obvious causes, may henceforward be expected. The difficulties attending early emigrations will be dissipated even in the most remote parts. Several new states have been admitted into our Union to the west and south, and territorial governments, happily organized, established over every other portion in which there is vacant land for sale. In terminating Indian hostilities, as must soon be done, in a formidable shape at least, the emigration which has heretofore been great will probably increase, and the demand for land and the augmentation in its value be in like proportion. The great increase in our population throughout the Union will alone produce an important effect, and in no quarter will it be so sensibly felt as in those in contemplation. The public lands are a public stock, which ought to be disposed of to the best advantage for the nation. The nation should, therefore, derive the profit proceeding from the continual rise in their value. Every encouragement should be given to the emigrants, consistent with a fair competition between them, but that competition should operate in the first sale to the advantage of the nation rather than of individuals
. Great capitalists will derive all the benefit incident to their superior wealth under any mode of sale which may be adopted. But if, looking forward to the rise in the value of the public lands, they should have the opportunity of amassing, at a low price, vast bodies in their hands, the profit will accrue to them, and not to the public. They would also have the power, in that degree, to control the emigration and settlement in such a manner as their opinion of their respective interests might dictate. I submit this subject to the consideration of Congress, that such farther provision may be made on the sale of the public lands, with a view to the public interest, should any be deemed expedient, as in their judgment may be best adapted to the object.
When we consider the vast extent of territory within the United States, the great amount and value of its productions, the connection of its parts. and other circumstances on which their prosperity and happiness depend, we cannot fail to entertain a high sense of the advantage to be derived from the facility which may be afforded in the intercourse between them, by
means of good roads and canals. Never did a country of such vast extent offer equal inducements to improvements of this kind, nor ever were consequences of such magnitude involved in them. As this subject was acted on by Congress at the last session, and there may be a disposition to revive it at present, I have brought it into view for the purpose of communicating my sentiments on a very important circumstance connected with it, with that freedom and candor which a regard for the public interest and a proper respect for Congress require. A difference of opinion has existed, from the first formation of our constitution to the present time, among our most enlightened and virtuous citizens, respecting the right of Congress to establish such a system of improvement Taking into view the trust with which I am now honored, it would be improper, after what has passed, that this discussion should be revived with an uncertainty of my opinion respecting the right. Disregarding early impressions, I have bestowed on the subject all the deliberation which its great importance, and a just sense of my duty, required, and the result is a settled conviction in my mind that Congress do not possess the right. It is not contained in any of the specified powers granted to Congress, nor can I consider it incidental to, or a necessary mean, viewed on the most liberal scale, for carrying into effect any of the powers which are specifically granted. In communicating this result, I cannot resist the obligation which I feel, to suggest to Congress the propriety of recommending to the states an adoption of an amendment to the constitution, which shall give to Congress the right in question. In cases of doubtful construction, especially of such vital interest, it comports with the nature and origin of our republican institutions, and will contribute much to preserve them, to apply to our constituents for an explicit grant of the power. We
may confidently rely, that if it appears to their satisfaction that the power is necessary, it will be granted.
In this case I am happy to observe, that experience has afforded the most ample proof of its utility, and that the benign spirit of conciliation and harmony which now manifests itself throughout our Union promises to such a recommendation the most prompt and favorable result. I think proper to suggest, also, in case this measure is adopted, that it be recommended to the states to include in the amendment sought a right in Congress to institute, likewise, seminaries of learning, for the all-important purpose of diffusing knowledge among our fellow citizens throughout the United States.
Our manufactories will require the continued attention of Congress. The capital employed in them is considerable, and the knowledge required in the machinery and fabric of all the most useful manufactures is of great value. Their preservation, which depends on due encouragement, is connected with the high interests of the nation.
Although the progress of the public buildings has been as favorable as circumstances have permitted, it is to be regretted the capitol is not yet in a state to receive you. There is good cause to presume that the two wings, the only parts as yet commenced, will be prepared for that purpose the next session. The time seems now to have arrived when this subject may be deemed worthy the attention Congress, on a scale adequate to national purposes. The completion of the middle building will be necessary to the convenient accommodation of Congress, of the committees and various officers belonging to it. It is evident that the other public buildings
are altogether insufficient for the accommodation of the several executive departments; some of whom are much crowded and even subject to the necessity of obtaining it in private buildings, at some distance from the head of the department, and with inconvenience to the management of the public business. Most nations have taken an interest and a pride in the improvement and ornament of their metropolis, and none were more conspicious in that respect than the ancient republics
. The policy which dictated the establishment of a permanent residence for the national government, and the spirit in which it was commenced and has been prosecuted, show that such improvement was thought worthy the attention of this nation. Its central position, between the northern and southern extremes of our Union, and its approach to the west at the head of a great navigable river which interlocks with the western waters, prove the wisdom of the councils which established it.
Nothing appears to be more reasonable and proper, than that convenient accommodation should be provided, on a well digested plan, for the heads of the several departments, and for the attorney-general; and it is believed that the public ground in the city, applied to these objects, will be found amply sufficient. I submit this subject to the consideration of Congress, that such provision may be made in it as to them may seem proper.
In contemplating the happy situation of the United States, our attention is drawn, with peculiar interest, to the surviving officers and soldiers of our revolutionary army, who so eminently contributed, by their services, to lay its foundation. Most of those very meritorious citizens have paid the debt of nature and gone to repose. It is believed, that among the survivors there are some, not provided for by existing laws, who are reduced to indigence and even to real distress. These men have a claim on the gratitude of their country, and it will do honor to their count. y to provide for them. The lapse of a few years more, and the opportunity will be forever lost ; indeed, so long already has been the interval, that the number to be benefited by any provision which may be made will not be great.
It appearing in a satisfactory manner that the revenue arising from imposts and tonnage, and from the sale of public lands, will be fully adequate to the support of the civil government, of the present military and naval establishments
, including the annual augmentation of the latter to the extent provided for, to the payment of the interest on the public debt, and to the extinguishment of it at the times authorized, without the aid of the internal taxes, I consider it my duty to recommend to Congress their repeal. To impose taxes when the public exigencies require them, is an obligation of the most sacred character, especially with a free people. The faithful fulfilment of it is among the highest proofs of their virtue and capacity for self-government. To dispense with taxes, when it may be done with perfect safety, is equally the duty of their representatives. In this instance, we have the satisfaction to know that they were imposed when the demand was imperious, and have been sustained with exemplary fidelity. I have to add, that however gratifying it may be to me, regarding the prosperous and happy condition of our country, to recommend the repeal of these taxes at this time, I shall, nevertheless, be attentive to events, and should any future emergency occur, be not less prompt to suggest such measures and burdens as may ihen be requisite and proper.
SECOND ANNUAL MESSAGE.
November 17, 1818.
The auspicious circumstances under which you will commence the duties of the present session will lighten the burden inseparable from the high trusts committed to you. The fruits of the earth have been unusually abundant, commerce has flourished, the revenue has exceeded the most favorable anticipation, and peace and amity are preserved with foreign nations on conditions just and honorable to our country. For these inestimable blessings we cannot but be grateful to that Providence which watches over the destinies of nations.
As the term limited for the operation of the commercial convention with Great Britain will expire early in the month of July next, and it was deemed important that there should be no interval during which that portion of our commerce which was provided for by that convention should not be regulated, either by arrangement between the two governments or by the authority of Congress, the minister of the United States at London was instructed, early in the last summer, to invite the attention of the British government to the subject, with a view to that object. He was instructed to propose, also, that the negotiation which it was wished to open might extend to the general commerce of the two countries, and to every other interest and unsettled difference between them; particularly to those relating to impressment, the fisheries, and boundaries, in the hope that an arrangement might be made on principles of reciprocal advantage, which might comprehend and provide in a satisfactory manner for all these high concerns. I have the satisfaction to state that the proposal was received by the British government in the spirit which prompted it
, and that a negotiation has been opened at London, embracing all these objects. On full consideration of the great extent and magnitude of the trust, it was thought proper to commit it to not less than two of our distinguished citizens, and in consequence, the envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of the United States and Paris has been associated with our envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary at London, to both of whom corresponding instruetions have been given, and they are now engaged in the discharge of its duties. It is proper to add, that to prevent any inconvenience resulting from the delay to a negotiation on so many important subjects, it was agreed before entering on it that the existing convention should be continued for a term not less than eight years.
Our relations with Spain remain nearly in the state in which they were at the close of the last session. The convention of 1802, providing for the adjustment of a certain portion of the claims of our citizens for injuries sustained by spoliation, and so long suspended by the Spanish government, has at length been ratified by it; but no arrangement has yet been made for the payment of another portion of like claims, not less extensive or well found. ed, or for other classes of claims, or for the settlement of boundaries. These subjects have again been brought under consideration in both countries, but no agreement has been entered into respecting them. In the mean time, events have occurred which clearly prove the ill effect of the policy which that government has so long pursued, on the friendly relations of the
two countries, which it is presumed is at least of as much importance to Spain as to the United States to maintain. A state of things has existed in the Floridas, the tendency of which has been obvious to all who have paid the slightest attention to the progress of affairs in that quarter. Throughout the whole of those provinces to which the Spanish title extends, the government of Spain has scarcely been felt. Its authority has been confined almost exclusively to the walls of Pensacola and St. Augustine, within which only small garrisons have been maintained. Adventurers from every country, fugitives from justice, and absconding slaves, have found an asylum there. Several tribes of Indians, strong in the number of their warriors, remarkable for their ferocity, and whose settlements extend to our limits, inhabit those provinces. These different hordes of people, connected together, disregarding, on the one side, the authority of Spain, and protected on the other by an imaginary line which separates Florida from the United States, have violated our laws prohibiting the introduction of slaves, have practised various frauds on our revenue, and committed every kind of outrage on our peaceable citizens which their proximity to us enabled them to perpetrate. The invasion of Amelia Island last year by a small band of adventurers, not exceeding one hundred and fifty in number, who wrested it from the inconsiderable Spanish force stationed there, and held it several months, during which a single effort only was made to recover it, which failed, clearly proves how completely extinct the Spanish authority had become, as the conduct of those adventurers while in possession of the island, as distinctly shows the pernicious purposes for which their combination had been formed.
This country had in fact become the theatre of every species of lawless adventure. With little population of its own, the Spanish authority almost extinct, and the colonial governments in a state of revolution, having no pretensions to it, and sufficiently employed in their own concerns, it was in a great measure derelict, and the object of cupidity to every adventurer. A system of bucaniering was rapidly organizing over it, which menaced, in its consequences, the lawful commerce of every nation, and particularly of the United States, while it presented a temptation to every people on whose seduction its success principally depended In regard to the United States, the pernicious effect of this unlawful combination was not confined to the ocean; the Indian tribes have constituted the effective force in Florida. With these tribes these adventurers had formed at an early period a connection, with a view to avail themselves of that force to promote their own projects of accumulation and aggrandizement. Is is to the interference of some of these adventurers, in misrepresenting the claims and titles of the Indians to land, and in practising on their savage propensities, that the Seminole war is principally to be traced. Mer who thus connect them. selves with savage communities, and stimulate them to war, which is always attended on their part with acts of barbarity the most shocking, deserve to be viewed in a worse light than the savages. They would certainly have no claim to an immunity from the punishment which, according to the rules of warfare practised by the savages, might justly be inflicted on the savages themselves.
If the embarrassments of Spain prevented her from making an indemnity to our citizens for so long a time from her treasury, for their losses by spoliation and otherwise, it was always in her power to have provided it by the cession of this territory. Of this her government has been repeatedly ap