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directly on the local concerns of the district. As this is a departure, for a special purpose, from the general principles of our system, it may merit consideration whether an arrangement better adapted to the principles of our government, and to the particular interest of the people, may not be devised, which will never infringe the constitution nor affect the object which the provision in question was intended to secure.
The growing population, already considerable, and the increasing business of the district, which it is believed already interferes with the deliberations of Congress on great national concerns, furnish additional motives for recommending this subject to your consideration.
When we view the great blessings with which our country has been favored, those which we now enjoy, and the means which we possess of handing them down unimpaired to our latest posterity, our attention is irresistibly drawn to the source from whence they flow. Let us then unite in offering our most grateful acknowledgments for these blessings to the Divine Author of all good.
THIRD ANNUAL MESSAGE.
DECEMBER 7, 1819.
Fellow Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:
The public buildings being advanced to a stage to afford accommodation to Congress, I offer you my sincere congratulation on the recommencement of your duties in the capitol.
In bringing to view the incidents most deserving attention which have occurred since your last session, I regret to have to state that several of our principal cities have suffered by sickness, that an unusual drought has prevailed in the middle and western states, and that a derangement has been felt in some of our moneyed institutions which has proportionally affected their credit. I am happy, however, to have it in my power to assure you that the health of our cities is now completely restored; that the produce of the year, though less abundant, will not only be amply sufficient for home consumption, but afford a large surplus for the supply of the wants of other nations; that the derangement in the circulating paper medium, by being left to those remedies which its obvious causes suggested and the good sense and virtue of our fellow citizens supplied, has diminished.
Having informed Congress, on the 27th of February last, that a treaty of amity and settlement of limits had been concluded in this city between the United States and Spain, and ratified by the competent authorities of the former, full confidence was entertained that it would have been ratified by His Catholic Majesty with equal promptitude, and a like earnest desire to terminate on the conditions of that treaty the differences which had so long existed between the two countries. Every view which the subject admitted of was thought to have justified this conclusion. Great losses had been sustained by citizens of the United States from the Spanish cruisers, more than twenty years before, which had not been redressed. These losses had been acknowledged and provided for by a treaty as far back as the year 1802, which, although concluded at Madrid, was not then ratified by the government of Spain, nor since, until the last year, when it was suspended by the late treaty, a more satisfactory provision to both parties, as was
presumed, having been made for them. Other differences had arisen in this long interval, affecting their highest interests, which were likewise provided for by this last treaty. The treaty itself was formed on great consideration, and a thorough knowledge of all circumstances, the subject matter of every article having been for years under discussion, and repeated references having been made by the minister of Spain to his government, on the points respecting which the greatest difference of opinion prevailed. It was formed by a minister duly authorized for the purpose, who had represented his government in the United States, and been employed in this long. protracted discussion several years, and who, it is not denied, kept strictly within the letter of his instructions. The faith of Spain was therefore pledged, under circumstances of peculiar force and solemnity, for its ratification. On the part of the United States this treaty was evidently acceded to in a spirit of conciliation and concession. The indemnity for injuries and losses so long before sustained, and now again acknowledged and provided for, was to be paid by them without becoming a charge on the treasury of Spain. For territory ceded by Spain, other territory of great value, to which our claim was believed to be well founded, was ceded by the United States, and in a quarter more interesting to her.
This cession was nevertheless received as the means of indemnifying our citizens in a considerable sum, the presumed amount of their losses. Other considerations of great weight urged the cession of the territory by Spain. It was surrounded by the territories of the United States on every side except on that of the ocean. Spain had lost its authority over it, and falling into the hands of adventurers connected with savages, it was made the means of unceasing annoyance and injury to our Union in many of its most essential interests. By this cession, then, Spain ceded a territory in reality of no value to her, and obtained concessions of the highest importance, by the settlement of long standing differences with the Unitod States affecting their respective claims and limits, and likewise relieved herself of the obligation of a treaty relating to it which she has failed to fulfil, and also from the responsibility incident to the most flagrant and pernicious abuses of her rights where she could not support her authority.
It being known that the treaty was formed under these circumstances, not a doubt was entertained that His Catholic Majesty would have ratified it without delay. I regret to have to state that this reasonable expectation has been disappointed; and the treaty was not ratified within the time stipulated, and has not been ratified. As it is important that the nature and character of this unexpected occurrence should be distinctly understood, I think it my duty to communicate to you all the facts and circumstances in my possession relating to it.
Anxious to prevent any future disagreement with Spain, by giving the most prompt effect to the treaty which had been thus concluded, and particu. larly by the establishment of a government in Florida which should preserve order there, the minister of the United States who had been recently appointed to His Catholic Majesty, and to whom the ratification by his government had been committed to be exchanged for that of Spain, was instructed to transmit the latter to the department of state as soon as obtained, by a public ship subjected to his order for the purpose.
Unexpected delay occurring in the ratification by Spain, he requested to be informed of the cause. It was stated in reply that the great importance of the subject, and a desire to obtain explanations on certain points which were
not specified, had produced the delay and that an envoy would be despatched to the United States to obtain such explanations of this government. The minister of the United States offered to give full explanation on any point on which it might be desired; which proposal was declined. Having communicated this result to the department of state in August last, he was instructed, notwithstanding the surprise and disappointment which it produced, to inform the government of Spain, that if the treaty should be ratified and transmitted here at any time before the meeting of Congress it would be received and have the same effect as if it had been ratified in due time. This order was executed, the authorized comnunication was made to the government of Spain, and by its answer, which has just been received, we are officially made acquainted, for the first time, with the causes which have prevented the ratification of the treaty by His Catholic Majesty. It is alleged by the minister of Spain that this government had attempted to alter one of the principal articles of the treaty by a declaration which the minister of the United States had been ordered to present, when he should deliver the ratification by his government in exchange for that of Spain; and of which he gave notice, explanatory of the sense in which that article was understood. It is farther alleged that this government had recently tolerated or protected an expedition from the United States against the province of Texas. These two imputed acts are stated as the reasons which have induced His Catholic Majesty to withhold his ratification from the treaty, to obtain explanations respecting which it is repeated that an envoy would be forthwith despatched to the United States How far these allegations will justify the conduct of the government of Spain will appear on a view of the following facts, and the evidence which
sup: ports them.
It will be seen by the documents transmitted herewith that the declaration mentioned relates to a clause in the eighth article concerning certain grants of land recently made by His Catholic Majesty in Florida, which it was understood had conveyed all the lands which till then had been ungranted; it was the intention of these parties to annul these latter grants, and that clause was drawn for that express purpose and for no other. The date of these grants was unknown, but it was understood to be posterior to that inserted in the article; indeed it must be obvious to all, that if that provision in the treaty had not the effect of annulling these grants, it would be allogether nugatory. Immediately after the treaty was concluded and ratified by this government, an intimation was received that these grants were of anterior date to that fixed on by the treaty, and that they would not of course be affected by it. The mere possibility of such a case, so inconsistent with the intention of the parties and the meaning of the article, induced this government to demand an explanation on the subject, which was immediately granted, and which corresponds with this statement. With respect to the other act alleged, that this government tolerated or protected an expedition against Texas, it is utterly without foundation. Every discountenance has invariably been given to every such attempt within the limits of the United States, as is fully evinced by the acts of the government and the proceedings of the courts.
There being cause, however, to apprehend, in the course of the last summer, that some adventurers entertained views of the kind suggested, the attention of the constituted authorities in that quarter was immediately drawn to them, and it is known that the project, whatever it might be, has utterly failed.
These facts will, it is presumed, satisfy every impartial mind that the government of Spain has no justifiable cause for declining to ratify the treaty. A treaty concluded in conformity with instructions is obligatory, in good faith, in all its stipulations, according to the true intent and meaning of the parties. Each party is bound to ratify it. If either could set aside, without the consent of the other, there would be no longer any rules applicable to such transactions between nations. By this proceeding the government of Spain has rendered to the United States a new and very serious injury. It has been stated that a minister would be sent to ask certain explanations of this government. But if such were desired, why were they not asked within the time limited for the ratification? Is it contemplated to open a new negotiation respecting any of the articles or conditions of the treaty? If that were done, to what consequences might it not lead? At what time and in what manner would a new negotiation terminate? By this proceeding, Spain has formed a relation between the two countries which will justify any measures on the part of the United States which a strong sense of injury and a proper regard for the rights and interests of the nation may dictate.
In the course to be pursued these objects should be constantly held in view and have their due weight. Our national honor must be maintained, and a new and distinguished proof be afforded of that regard for justice and moderation which has invariably governed the councils of this free people. It must be obvious to all, that if the United States had been desirous of making conquests, or had been even willing to aggrandize themselves in that way, they could have had no inducement to form this treaty. They would have much cause of gratulation at the course which has been pursued by Spain. An ample field for ambition is open before them. But such a career is not consistent with the principles of their government nor the interests of the nation.
From a full view of all circumstances, it is submitted to the consideration of Congress whether it will not be proper for the United States to carry the conditions of the treaty into effect in the same manner as if it had been ratified by Spain, claiming on their part all its advantages, and yielding to Spain those secured to her. By pursuing this course, we shall rest on the sacred ground of right, sanctioned in the most solemn manner by Spain herself by a treaty which she was bound to ratify; for refusing to do which she must incur the censure of other nations, even those most friendly to her; while, by confining ourselves within that limit, we cannot fail to obtain their well-merited approbation. We must have peace on a frontier where we have been so long disturbed; our citizens must be indemnified for losses so long since sustained, and for which indemnity has been so unjustly withheld from them. Accomplishing these great objects we obtain all that is desirable
. But His Catholic Majesty has twice declared his determination to send a minister to the United States, to ask explanations on certain points, and to give them respecting his delay to ratify the treaty. Shall we act by taking the ceded territory and proceeding to execute the other conditions of the treaty before this minister arrives and is heard? This is a case which forms & strong appeal to the candor, the magnanimity, and honor of this people
. Much is due to courtesy between nations. By a short delay we shall lose nothing; for, resting on the ground of immutable truth and justice, we cannot be diverted from our purpose. It ought to be presumed that the explanations which may be given to the minister of Spain will be satisfactory and
produce the desired result
. In any event, the delay for the purpose mentioned being a farther manifestation of the sincere desire to terminate, in the most friendly manner, all differences with Spain, cannot fail to be duly appreciated by His Catholic Majesty as well as by other powers. It is submitted, therefore, whether it be proper to make the law proposed for carrying the conditions of the treaty into effect, should it be adopted, contingent; to suspend its operations, upon the responsibility of the executive, in such manner as to afford an opportunity for such friendly explanations as may be desired during the present session of Congress.
I communicate to Congress a copy of the treaty and of the instructions to the minister of the United States at Madrid, respecting it; of his correspondence with the minister of Spain, and of such other documents as may be necessary to give a full view of the subject.
In the course which the Spanish government have on this occasion thought proper to pursue, it is satisfactory to know that they have not been countenanced by any European power. On the contrary, the opinion and wishes both of France and Great Britain have not been withheld either from the United States or from Spain, and have been unequivocal in favor of the ratification. There is also reason to believe that the sentiments of the imperial government of Russia have been the same, and that they have also been made known to the cabinet of Madrid.
In the civil war existing between Spain and the Spanish provinces in this hemisphere, the greatest care has been taken to enforce the laws intended to preserve an impartial neutrality. Our ports have been equally open to both parties, and on the same conditions, and our citizens have been equally restrained from interfering in favor of either, to the prejudice of the other. The progress of the war, however, has operated manifestly in favor of the colonies. Buenos Ayres still maintains unshaken the independence which it declared in 1816, and has enjoyed since 1810. Like success has attended Chili and the provinces north of the La Plata bordering on it, and likewise Venezuela
This contest has from its commencement been very interesting to other powers, and to none more so than to the United States. A virtuous people may and will confine themselves within the limits of a strict neutrality; but it is not in their power to behold a conflict so vitally important to their neighbors without the sensibility and sympathy which naturally belong to such a case. It has been the steady purpose of this government to prevent that feeling leading to excess, and it is very gratifying to have it in my power to state, that so strong has been the sense, throughout the whole community, of what was due to the character and obligations of the nation, that few examples of a contrary kind have occurred.
The distance of the colonies from the parent country, and the great extent of their population and resources, gave them advantages which it was anticipated at a very early period it would be difficult for Spain to surmount. The steadiness, consistency, and success with which they have pursued their object, as evinced more particularly by the undisputed sovereignty which Buenos Ayres has so long enjoyed, evidently give them a strong claim to the favorable consideration of other nations. These sentiments, on the part of the United States, have not been withheld from other powers, with whom it is desirable to act in concert. Should it become manifest to the world that the efforts of Spain to subdue those provinces will be fruitless, it may be presumed that the Spanish government itself will give up the