Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

of the true wisdom of encountering a small present addition to their contributions, to obviate a future accumulation of burdens.

But here I cannot forbear to recommend a repeal of the tax on the transportation of public prints. There is no resource so firm for the government of the United States, as the affections of the people, guided by an enlightened policy; and to this primary good, nothing can conduce more than a faithful representation of public proceedings, diffused without restraint throughout the United States.

An estimate of the appropriations necessary for the current service of the ensuing year, and a statement of a purchase of arms and military stores made during the recess, will be presented to Congress. GENTLEMEN OF THE SENATE

AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, The several subjects, to which I have now referred, open a wide range to your deliberations, and involve some of the choicest interests of our common country. Permit me to bring to your remembrance the magnitude of your task. Without an unprejudiced coolness, the welfare of the government may be hazarded; without harmony, as far as consists with freedom of sentiment, its dignity may be lost. But as the legislative proceedings of the United States will never, I trust, be reproached for the want of temper or candor; so shall not the public happiness languish from the want of my strenuous and warmest coöperations.

GEORGE WASHINGTON.

REPLY TO THE ANSWER OF THE SENATE.

GENTLEMEN,

The pleasure expressed by the Senate, on my reelection to the station which I fill, commands my sincere and warmest acknowledgments. If this be an event, which promises the smallest addition to the happiness of our country, as it is my duty, so shall it be my study, to realize the expectation.

The decided approbation, which the Proclamation now receives from your House, by completing the proof, that this measure is considered as manifesting a vigilant attention to the welfare of the United States, brings with it a peculiar gratification to my mind.

The other important subjects, which have been communicated to you, will, I am confident, receive a due discussion, and the result will, I trust, prove fortunate to the United States.

GEORGE WASHINGTON.

REPLY TO THE ANSWER OF THE HOUSE OF

REPRESENTATIVES.

GENTLEMEN, I shall not affect to conceal the cordial satisfaction, which I derive from the address of the House of Representatives. Whatsoever those services may be, which you have sanctioned by your favor, it is a sufficient reward, that they have been accepted as they were meant. For the fulfilment of your anticipations of the future, I can give no other assurance, than that the motives, which you approve, shall continue unchanged.

It is truly gratifying to me to learn, that the Proclamation has been considered as a seasonable guard

against the interruption of the public peace. Nor can I doubt, that the subjects which I have recommended to your attention, as depending on legislative provisions, will receive a discussion suited to their importance. With every reason, then, it may be expected, that your deliberations, under the Divine blessing, will be matured to the honor and happiness of the United States.

GEORGE WASHINGTON.

SPEECH
TO BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS,

NoveMBER 1971, 1794.

Fellow-CitizENS OF THE SENATE

AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, When we call to mind the gracious indulgence of Heaven, by which the American people became a nation; when we survey the general prosperity of our country, and look forward to the riches, power, and happiness, to which it seems destined ; with the deepest regret do I announce to you, that, during your recess, some of the citizens of the United States have been found capable of an insurrection. It is due, however, to the character of our government, and to its stability, which cannot be shaken by the enemies of order, freely to unfold the course of this event.

During the session of the year 1790, it was expedient to exercise the legislative power, granted by the constitution of the United States, “ to lay and collect excises.” In a majority of the States, scarcely an objection was made to this mode of taxation. In some, indeed, alarms were at first conceived, until they

were banished by reason and patriotism. In the four western counties of Pennsylvania, a prejudice, fostered and embittered by the artifice of men, who labored for an ascendency over the will of others by the guidance of their passions, produced symptoms of riot and violence. It is well known, that Congress did not hesitate to examine the complaints which were presented, and to relieve them, as far as justice dictated, or general convenience would permit. But the impression, which this moderation made on the discontented, did not correspond with what it deserved; the arts of delusion were no longer confined to the efforts of designing individuals.

The very forbearance to press prosecutions was misinterpreted into a fear of urging the execution of the laws; and associations of men began to denounce threats against the officers employed. From a belief, that, by a more formal concert, their operation might be defeated, certain self-created societies assumed the tone of condemnation. Hence, while the greater part of Pennsylvania itself were conforming themselves to the acts of excise, a few counties were resolved to frustrate them. It was now perceived, that every expectation from the tenderness, which had hitherto been pursued, was unavailing, and that further delay could only create an opinion of impotency or irresolution in the government. Legal process was, therefore, delivered to the marshal, against the rioters and delinquent distillers.

No sooner was he understood to be engaged in this duty, than the vengeance of armed men was aimed at his person, and the person and property of the inspector of the revenue. They fired upon the marshal, arrested him, and detained him for some time as a prisoner. He was obliged, by the jeopardy of his life, to renounce the service of other process on the west side of the Allegany Mountain ; and a deputation was afterwards sent to him to demand a surrender of that which he had served. A numerous body repeatedly attacked the house of the inspector, seized his papers of office, and finally destroyed, by fire, his buildings, and whatsoever they contained. Both of these officers, from a just regard to their safety, fled to the seat of government; it being avowed, that the motives to such outrages were to compel the resignation of the inspector, to withstand, by force of arms, the authority of the United States, and thereby to extort a repeal of the laws of excise, and an alteration in the conduct of government.

Upon the testimony of these facts, an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States notified to me, that “in the counties of Washington and Allegany, in Pennsylvania, laws of the United States were opposed, and the execution thereof obstructed, by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested in the marshal of that district.” On this call, momentous in the extreme, I sought and weighed what might best subdue the crisis. On the one hand, the judiciary was pronounced to be stripped of its capacity to enforce the laws ; crimes, which reached the very existence of social order, were perpetrated without control; the friends of government were insulted, abused, and overawed into silence or an apparent acquiescence; and to yield to the treasonable fury of so small a portion of the United States would be to violate the fundamental principle of our constitution, which enjoins, that the will of the majority shall prevail. On the other, to array citizen against citizen, to publish the dishonor of such excesses, to

« AnteriorContinuar »