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On the unexpected breaking out of hostilities in Florida, Alabama, and Georgia, it became necessary, in some cases, to take the property of indi. viduals for public use. Provision should be made by law for indemnifying the owners; and I would also respectfully suggest, whether some provision may not be made, consistently with the principles of our government, for the relief of the sufferers by Indian depredations, or by the operations of our own troops. No time was lost after the making of the requisite appropriations, in resuming the great national work of completing the unfinished fortifications on our sea-board, and of placing them in a proper state of defence. In consequence, however, of the very late day at which those bills were passed, but little progress could be made during the season which has just closed. A very large amount of the moneys granted at your last session accordingly remains unexpended; but as the work will be again resumed at the earliest moment in the coming spring, the balance of the existing appropriations, and in several cases which will be laid before you, with the proper estimates, farther sums for the like objects, may be usefully expended during the next year. The recommendations of an increase in the engineer corps, and for a re-organization of the topographical corps, ...i. you in my last annual message, derive additional strength from the great embarrassments experienced during the present year in those branches of the service, and under which they are now suffering. Several of the most important surveys and constructions, directed by recent laws, have been suspended in consequence of the want of adequate force in these corps. The like observations may be applied to the ordnance corps and the general staff, the operations of which, as they are now organized, must either be frequently interrupted, or performed by officers taken from the line of the army, to the great prejudice of the service. For a general view of the condition of the military academy, and of other branches of the military service not already noticed, as well as for fuller illustrations of those which have been mentioned, I refer you to the accom. panying documents; and among the various proposals contained therein, for legislative action, I would particularly notice the suggestion of the secretary of war, for the revision of the pay of the army, as entitled to your favorable regard. The national policy, founded alike in interest and in humanity, so long and so steadily pursued by this government, for the removal of the Indian tribes originally settled on this side of the Mississippi, to the west of that river, may be said to have been consummated by the conclusion of the late treaty with the Cherokees. The measures taken in the execution of that treaty, and in relation to our Indian affairs generally, will fully appear by referring to the accompanying papers. Without dwelling on the numerous and important topics embraced in them, I again invite your attention to the importance of providing a well digested and comprehensive system for the protection, supervision, and improvement of the various tribes now planted in the Indian country. The suggestions submitted by the commissioner of Indian affairs, and enforced by the secretary on this subject, and also in regard to the establishment of additional military posts in the Indian country, are entitled to your profound consideration. Both measures are neces. sary, for the double purpose of protecting the Indians from intestine war, and in other respects complying with our engagements to them, and of
securing our western frontier against incursions which otherwise will assuredly be made on it. The best hopes of humanity in regard to the aboriginal race, the welfare of our rapidly extending settlements, and the honor of the United States, are all deeply involved in the relations existing between this government and the emigrating tribes. I trust, therefore, that the various matters submitted in the accompanying documents in respect to those relations, will receive your early and mature deliberations; and that it may issue in the adoption of legislative measures adapted to the circumstances and duties of the present crisis.
You are referred to the report of the secretary of the navy for a satisfactory view of the operations of the department under his charge, during the present year. In the construction of vessels at the different navy-yards
, and in the employment of our ships and squadrons at sea, that branch of the service has been actively and usefully employed. While the siiuation of our commercial interests in the West Indies required a greater number than usual of armed vessels to be kept on that station, it is gratifying to perceive that the protection due to our commerce in other quarters of the world has not proved insufficient. Every effort has been made to facilitate the equip ment of the exploring expedition authorized by the act of the last session, but all the preparation necessary to enable it to sail has not yet been com. pleted. No means will be spared by the government to fit out the expedition on a scale corresponding with the liberal appropriation for the purpose, and with the elevated character of the objects which are to be effected
I beg leave to renew the recommendation made in my last annual message, respecting the enlistment of boys in our naval service; and 10 urge upon your attention the necessity of farther appropriations to increase the number of ships afloat, and to enlarge generally the capacity and force of the navy. The increase of our commerce, and our position in regard to the other powers of the world, will always make it our policy and interest to cherish the great naval resources of our coun:ry.
The report of the postmaster-general presents a gratifying picture of the condition of the post-office depariment. Its revenues for the year ending the 30th of June last were three millions three hundred and ninety-eight thousand four hundred and fifty-five dollars and nineteen cents, showing an increase of revenue over that of the preceding year, of four hundred and four thousand eight hundred and seventy-eight dollars and fifty-three cents, or more than thirteen per cent. The expenditures for the same year were two millions seven hundred and fifty-five thousand six hundred and twenty: three dollars and seventy-six cents, exhibiting a surplus of six hundred and forty-two thousand eight hundred and thirty-one dollars forty-three cents. The department has been redeemed from embarrassment and debt; has accumulated a surplus exceeding half a million of dollars; has largely extended, and is preparing still farther to extend, the mail service; and recommends a reduction of postages equal to about twenty per cent. It is practising upon the great principle which should control every branch of our government of rendering to the public the greatest good possible with the least possible taxation to the people.
The scale of postages suggested by the postmaster-general, recommends itself, not only by the reduction it proposes, but by the simplicity of its arrangement, its conformity with the federal currency, and the improrement it will introduce into the accounts of the department and its agents.
Your particular attention is invited to the subject of mail contracts with railroad companies. The present laws providing for the ...'. of contracts are based upon the presumption that competition among bidders will secure the service at a fair price. But on most of the railroad lines, there is no competition in that kind of transportation, and advertising is therefore useless. No contract can now be made with them, except such as shall be negotiated before the time of offering or afterwards, and the power of the postmaster-general to pay them high prices is practically without limitation. It would be a relief to him, and no doubt would conduce to the public interest, to prescribe by law some equitable basis upon which such contracts shall rest, and restrict him by a fixed rule of allowance. Under a liberal act of that sort, he would undoubtedly be able to secure the services of most of the railroad companies, and the interest of the department would be thus advanced. The correspondence between the people of the United States and the European nations, and particularly with the British islands, has become very extensive, and requires the interposition of Congress to give it security. No obstacle is perceived to an interchange of mails between New York and Liverpool, or other foreign ports, as proposed by the postmaster-general. On the contrary it promises, by the security it will afford, to facilitate commercial transactions, and give rise to an enlarged intercourse among the people of different nations, which cannot but have a happy effect. Through the city of New York, most of the correspondence between the Canadas and Europe is now carried on, and urgent representations have been received from the head of the provincial post-office, asking the interposition of the United States to guard it from the accidents and losses to which it is now subjected. Some legislation appears to be called for, as well by our own interest, as by comity to the adjoining British provinces. The expediency of providing a fire-proof building for the important books and papers of the post-office department is worthy of consideration. In the present condition of our treasury, it is neither necessary nor wise to leave essential public interests exposed to so much danger, when they can so readily be made secure. There are weighty considerations in the location of a new building for that department, in favor of placing it near the other executive buildings. The important subjects of a survey of the coast, and the manufacture of a standard of weights and measures for the different custom-houses, have been in progress for some years, under the general direction of the executive, and the immediate superintendence of a gentleman possessing high scientific attainments. At the last session of Congress, the making of a set of weights and measures for each state in the Union was added to the others by a joint resolution. The care and correspondence as to all these subjects have been devolved on the treasury department during the last year. A special report from the secretary of the treasury will soon be communicated to Congress, which will show what has been accomplished as to the whole—the number and compensation of the persons now employed in these duties, and the progress expected to be made during the ensuing year—with a copy of the various correspondence deemed necessary to throw light on the subjects which seem to require additional legislation. Claims have been made for retrospective allowances in behalf of the superintendent and some of his assistants, which I did not feel justified in granting; other claims have been
made for large increases in compensation, which, under all the circumstanees of the several cases, I declined making without the express sanction of Congress. In order to obtain that sanction, the subject was, at the last session, on my suggestion, and by request of the immediate superintendent, submitted by the treasury department to the committee of commerce of the House of Representatives. But no legislative action having taken place, the early attention of Congress is now invited to the enactment of some express and detailed provisions in relation to the various claims made for the past, and to the compensation and allowances deemed proper for the future.
It is farther respectfully recommended that, such being the inconvenience of attention to these duties by the chief magistrate, and such the great pres. sute of business on the treasury department, the general supervision of the coast survey, and the completion of the weigh's and measures, if the works are kept united, should be devolved on a board of officers, organized especially for that purpose, or on the navy board attached to the navy department.
All my experience and reflection confirm the conviction I have so often expressed to Congress in favor of an amendment of the constitution which will prevent, in any event, the election of the President and Vice-President of the United States devolving on the House of Representatives and the Senate; and I therefore beg leave again to solicit your attention to the subject. There were various other suggestions in my last annual message not acted upon, particularly that relating to the want of uniformity in the laws of the District of Columbia, that are deemed worthy of your favorable consideration.
Before concluding this paper, I think it due to the various executive departments to bear testimony to their prosperous condition, and to the ability and integrity with which they have been conducted. It has been my aim to enforce in all of them a vigilant and faithful discharge of the public business, and it is gratifying to me to believe that there is no just cause of complaint from any quarter at the manner in which they have sulfilled the objects of their creation.
Having now finished the observations deemed proper on this, the last occasion I shall have of communicating with the two Houses of Congress at their meeting, I cannot omit an expression of the gratitude which is due to the great body of my fellow citizens, in whose partiality and indulgence I have found encouragement and support in the many difficult and trying scenes through which it has been my lot to pass during my public career
. Though deeply sensible that my exertions have not been crowned with a success corresponding to the degree of 'favor bestowed upon me, I am sure that they will be considered as having been directed by an earnest desire to promote the good of my country; and I am consoled by the persuasion, that whatever errors have been committed, will find a corrective in the intelligence and patriotism of those who will succeed us. All that has occurred during my administration is calculated to inspire me with increased confidence in the stability of our institutions; and should I be spared to enter upon that retirement which is so suitable to my age and infirm health, and so much desired by me in other respects, I shall not cease to invoke that beneficent Being, to whose providence we are already so signally indebied, for the continuance of his blessings on our beloved country.
MESSAGE IN RELATION TO TEXAS.
DECEMBER 21, 1836.
To the Senate of the United States :
During the last session, information was given to Congress by the executive, that measures had been taken to ascertain the political, military, and civil condition of Texas." I now submit for your consideration, extracts from the report of the agent who had been appointed to collect it, relative to the condition of that country.
No steps have been taken by the executive toward the acknowledgment of the independence of Texas; and the whole subject would have been left without farther remark on the information now given to Congress, were it not that the two Houses at their last session, acting separately, passed resolutions that the independence of Texas ought to be acknowledged by the United States, whenever satisfactory information should be received that it had in successful operation a civil government, capable of performing the duties, and fulfilling the obligations of an independent power." of interest in the question of the independence of Texas, and indication of the views of Congress, make it proper that I should, somewhat in detail, present the considerations that have governed the executive in continuing
occupy the ground previously taken in the contest between Mexico and Texas.
The acknowledgment of a new state as independent, and entitled to a place in the family of nations, is at all times an act of great delicacy and responsibility; but more especially so when such state has forcibly separated itself from another, of which it had formed an integral part, and which still claims dominion over it. A premature recognition under these circumstances, if not looked upon as justifiable cause of war, is always liable to be regarded as a proof of an unfriendly spirit to one of the contending parties. All questions relative to the government of foreign nations, whether of the old or new world, have been treated by the United States as questions of fact only, and our predecessors have cautiously abstained from deciding upon them until the clearest evidence was in their possession, to enable them not only to decide correctly, but to shield their decisions from every unworthy imputation. In all the contests that have arisen out of the revolutions of France; out of the disputes relating to the crowns of Portugal and Spain; out of the separation of the American possessions of both from the European governments, and out of the numerous and constantly occurring struggles for dominion in Spanish America, 30 wisely consistent with our just principles has been the action of our government, that we have, under the most critical circumstances, avoided all censure, and encountered no other evil than that produced by a transient estrangement of good-will in those against whom we have been by force of evidence compelled to decide.
It has thus made known to the world, that the uniform policy and practice of the United States is to avoid all interference in disputes which merely relate to the internal government of other nations, and eventually to recognise the authority of the prevailing party without reference to our particular interests and views, or to the merits of the original controversy. Public opinion here is so firmly established and well understood in favor of this