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bloody wars, whose prosecution seems to have made part of their social system.
After the farther details of this arrangement are completed, with a very general supervision over them, they ought to be left to the progress of events. These, I indulge the hope, will secure their prosperity and improve ment, and a large portion of the moral debt we owe them will be paid.
The report of the secretary of the navy, showing the condition of that branch of the public service, is recommended to your special attention. It appears from it, that our naval force at present in commission, with all the activity which can be given to it
, is inadequate to the protection of our rapidly increasing cominerce. This consideration, and the more general one which regards this arın of the national defence as our best security against foreign aggression, strongly urge the continuance of the measures which promote its gradual enlargement, and speedy increase of the force which has been hitherto employed abroad and at home. You will perceive from the estimates which appear in the report of the secretary of the navy, that the expenditures necessary to this increase of its force, though of considerable amount, are small compared with the benefits which they will secure to the country.
As a means of strengthening this national arm, I also recommend to your particular attention the propriety of the suggestion which attracted the consideration of Congress at its last session, respecting the enlistment of boys at a suitable age in the service. In this manner, a nursery of skilful and able-bodied seamen can be established, which will be of the greatest importance. Next to the capacity to put afloat and arm the requisite number of ships, is the possession of the means to man them efficiently; and nothing seems better calculated to aid this object than the measure proposed
. As an auxiliary to the advantages derived from our extensive commercial marine, it would furnish us with a resource ample enough for all the exigencies which can be anticipated. Considering the state of our resources, it cannot be doubted that whatever provision the liberality and wisdom of Congress may now adopt, with a view to the perfect organization of this branch of our service, will meet the approbation of all classes of our citizens.
By the report of the postmaster-general, it appears that the revenue of that department during the year ending on the 30th day of June last, exceeded its accruing responsibilities, two hundred and thirty-six thousand two hundred and six dollars; and that the surplus of the present fiscal year is estimated at four hundred and seventy-six thousand two hundred and twentyseven dollars. It farther appears that the debt of the department, on the 1st day of July last, including the amount due to contractors for the quarter then just expired, was about one million and sixty-four thousand three hundred and eighty-one dollars, exceeding the available means about twentythree thousand and seven hundred dollars; and that on the 1st instant, about five hundred and ninety-seven thousand and seventy-seven dollars of this debt had been paid : four hundred and nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-one dollars of the postages accruing before July, and one hundred and eighty-seven thousand and eighty-six dollars out of postages accruing since. In these payments are included sixty-seven thousand dollars of the old debt due to banks. After making these payments, the department had seventy-three thousand dollars in bank on the ist instant. "The pleasing assurance is given that the department is entirely free from
embarrassment, and that by collections of outstanding balances, and using the current surplus, the remaining portion of the bank debt, and most of the other debt, will probably be paid in April next, leaving thereafter a heavy amount to be applied in extending the mail facilities of the country. Reserving a considerable sum for the improvement of existing mail routes, it is stated that the department will be able to sustain with perfect convenience an annual charge of three hundred thousand dollars for the support of new routes, to commence as soon as they can be established and put in operation.
The measures adopted by the postmaster-general to bring the means of the department into action, and to effect a speedy extinguishment of its debt, as well as to produce an efficient administration of its affairs, will be found detailed at length in hisable and luminous report. Aided by a re-organization on the principles suggested, and such salutary provisions in the laws regulating its administrative duties as the wisdom of Congress may devise or approve, that important department will soon attain a degree of usefulness proportioned to the increase of our population and the extension of our settlements.
Particular attention is solicited to that portion of the report of the postmaster-general which relates to the carriage of mails of the United States upon railroads constructed by private corporations under the authority of the several states. The reliance which the general government can place on those roads as a means of carrying on its operations, and the principles on which the use of them is to be obtained, cannot too soon be considered and settled.
Already does the spirit of monopoly begin to exhibit its natural propensities in aitempts to exact from the public, for services which it supposes cannot be obtained on other terms, the most extravagant compensation.
If these claims be persisted in, the question may arise whether a combination of citizens, acting under charters of incorporation from the states, can, by a direct refusal or the demand of an exorbitant price, exclude the United States from the use of the established channels of communication between the different sections of the country, and whether the United States cannot, without transcending their constitutional powers, secure to the postoffice department the use of those roads, by an act of Congress which shall provide within itself some equitable mode of adjusting the amount of compensation.
To obviate, if possible, the necessity of considering this question, it is suggested whether it be not expedient to fix by law the amounts which shall be offered to railroad companies for the conveyance of the mails, graduated according to their average weight, to be ascertained and declared by the postmaster-general. It is probable that a liberal proposition of that sort would be accepted.
In connection with these provisions in relation to the post-office department, I must also invite your attention to the painful excitement produced in the south, by attempts to circulate, through the mails, inflammatory appeals addressed to the passions of the slaves, in prints, and in various sorts of publications, calculated to stimulate them to insurrection, and to produce all the horrors of a servile war.
There is, doubtless, no respectable portion of our countrymen who can be so far misled as to feel any other sentiment than that of indignant regret at conduct so destructive of the harmony and peace of the country, and so
repugnant to the principles of our national compact, and to the dictates of humanity and religion. Our happiness and prosperity essentially depend upon peace within our borders — and peace depends upon the maintenance, in good faith, of those compromises of the constitution upon which the Union is founded. It is fortunate for the country that the good sense, the generous feeling, and the deep-rooted attachment of the people of the nonslaveholding states to the Union, and to their fellow citizens of the same blood in the south, have given so strong and impressive a tone to the sentiments entertained against the proceedings of the misguided persons who have engaged in these unconstitutional and wicked attempts, and especially against ihe emissaries from foreign parts who have dared to interfere in this maiter, as to authorize the hope that those attempts will no longer be persisted in. But if these expressions of the public will shall not be sufficient 10 effeci so desirable a result, not a doubt can be entertained, that the non-slaveholding states, so far from countenancing the slightest interference with the constitutional rights of the south, will be prompt to exercise their authority in suppressing, so far as in them lies, whatever is calculated to produce this evil.
In leaving the care of other branches of this interesting subject to the state authorities, to whom they properly belong, it is nevertheless proper for Congress to take such measures as will prevent the post-office department, which was designed to foster an amicable intercourse and
correspond ence between all the members of the confederacy, from being used as an instrument of an opposite character. The general government, to which the great trust is confided of preserving in violate the relations created among the states by the constitution, is especially bound to avoid in its own action, anything that may disturb them." I would, therefore, call the special attention of Congress to the subject, and respectfully suggest the propriety of passing such a law as will prohibit, under severe penalties, the circulation in the southern states, through the mail, of incendiary publications intended to instigate the slaves to insurrection.
I felt it to be my duty, in the first message which I communicated to Congress, to urge upon its attention the propriety of amending that part of the constitution which provides for the election of the President and VicePresident of the United States. The leading object which I had in view was the adoption of some new provisions which would secure to the people the performance of this high duty without any intermediate agency. In my annual communications since, I have enforced the same views, from a sincere conviction that the best interests of the country would be promoted by their adoption. If the subject were an ordinary one, I should have regarded the failure of Congress to act upon it, as an indication of their judgment that the disadvantages which belong to the present system were not so great as those which would result from any attainable substitute that had been submitted to their consideration. Recollecting, however, that propositions to introduce a new feature in our fundamental laws cannot be ico patiently examined, and ought not to be received with favor until the great body of the people are thoroughly impressed with their necessity and value, as a remedy for real evils, I feel that in renewing the recommendation I have heretofore made on this subject, I am not transcending the bounds of a just deference to the sense of Congress, or to the disposition of the people
. However much we may differ in the choice of the measures which should guide the administration of the government, there can be but little doubt in
the minds of those who are really friendly to the republican features of our system, that one of its most important securities consists in the separation of the legislative and the executive powers, at the same time that each is held responsible to the great source of authority, which is acknowledged to be supreme, in the will of the people constitutionally expressed. My reflection and experience satisfy me that the framers of the constitution, although they were anxious to mark this feature as a settled and fixed principle in the structure of the government, did not adopt all the precautions that were necessary to secure its practical observance, and that we cannot be said to have carried into complete effect their intentions until the evils which arise from this organic defect are remedied.
Considering the great extent of our confederacy, the rapid increase of its population, and the diversity of their interests and pursuits
, it cannot be disguised that the contingency by which one branch of the legislature is to form itself into an electoral college, cannot become one of ordinary occurrence without producing incalculable mischief. What was intended as the medicine of the constitution in extreme cases, cannot be frequently used without changing its character, and sooner or later producing incurable disorder.
Every election by the House of Representatives is calculated to lessen the force of that security which is derived from the distinct and separate character of the legislative and executive function, and while it exposes each to temptations adverse to their efficiency as organs of the constitution and laws, its tendency will be to unite both in resisting the will of the people, and thus give a direction to the government anti-republican and dangerous. All history tells us that a free people should bewatchful of delegated power, and should never acquiesce in a practice which shall diminish their control over it. This obligation, so universal in its application to all the principles of a republic, is peculiarly so in ours, where the formation of parties founded on sectional interests, is so much fostered by the extent of our territory. These interests, represented by candidates for the presidency, are constantly prone, in the zeal of party and selfish objects, to generate influences unmindsul of the general good, and forgetful of the restraints which the great body of the people would enforce, if they were in no contingency to use the right of expressing their will. The experience of our country, from the formation of the government to the present day, demonstrates that the people cannot too soon adopt some stronger safeguard for their right to elect the highest officers known to the constitution, than is contained in that sacred instrument as it now stands.
It is my duty to call the particular attention of Congress to the present condition of the District of Columbia. From whatever cause the great depression has arisen which now exists in the pecuniary concerns of this district, it is proper that its situation should be fully understood, and such relief or remedies provided as are consistent with the powers of Congress. I earnestly recommend the extension of every political right to the citizens of the district which their true interests require, and which does not conflict with the provisions of the constitution. It is believed that the laws for the government of the district require revisal and amendinent, and that much good may be done by modifying the penal code, so as to give uniformity to its provisions.
Your atiention is also invited to the defects which exist in the judicial. system of the United States. As at present organized, the states of the
Union derive unequal advantages from the federal judiciary, which have been so often pointed out, that I deem it unnecessary to repeat them here. It is hoped that the present Congress will extend to all the states that equality in respect to the benefits of the laws of the Union which can only be secured by the uniformity and efficiency of the judicial system.
With these observations on the topics of general interest which are deemed worthy of your consideration, I leave them to your care, trusting that the legislative measures they call for will be met as the wants and the best interests of our beloved country demand.
JANUARY 15, 1836.
To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States :
Gentlemen: In my message at the opening of your session, I informed you that our chargé d'affaires at Paris had been instructed to ask for the final determination of the French government, in relation to the payment of the indemnification secured by the treaty of the 4th of July, 1831, and that, when advices on the result should be received, it would be made the subject of a special communication. In execution of this design, I now transmit to you
papers numbered from 1 to 13, inclusive, containing, among other things, the correspondence on this subject between our chargé d'affaires and the French minister of foreign affairs, from which it will be seen, that France requires as a condition precedent to the execution of a treaty unconditionally ratified, and 10 the payment of a debt acknowledged by all the branches of her government to be due, that certain explanations shall be made of which she dictates the terms. These terms are such as that government has already been officially informed cannot be complied with; and if persisted in, they must be considered as a deliberate refusal on the part of France to fulfil engagements, binding by the laws of nations, and held sacred by the whole civilized world. The nature of the act which France requires from this government, is clearly set forth in the letter of the French minister, marked No. 4. We will pay the money, says he, when the government of the United States is ready on its part to declare to us, by addressing its claim to us officially, in writing, that it regrets the misunderstanding which has arisen between the tico countries ; that this misunderstanding is founded on a mistake; that it nerer entered into its intention to call to question the good faith of the French government, nor to take a menacing attitude toward France ; and he adds, “ if the government of the United States does not give this assurance, we shall be obliged to think that this misunderstanding is not the result of error." In the letter marked No. 6, the French minister also remarks that, “ the government of the United States knows that upon itself depends henceforward the execution of the treaty of July 4, 1831."
Obliged, by the precise language thus used by the French minister, to view it as a peremptory refusal to execute the treaty, except on terms incompatible with the honor and independence of the United States, and persuaded that, on considering the correspondence now submitted to you,