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ten sloops of war, and for other purposes, are in the course of execution : for the particulars of which and other objects connected with this department, I refer to the report of the Secretary of the Navy herewith communicated.
A report from the Postmaster-general is also submitted, exhibiting the present flourishing condition of that department. For the first time for many years, the receipts for the year ending on the first of July last, exceeded the expenditures during the same period, to the amount of more than forty-five thousand dollars. Other facts, equally creditable to the administration of this department, are, that in two years from the first of July, 1823, an improvement of more than one hundred and eighty-five thousand dollars, in its pecuniary affairs, has been realized; that, in the same interval, the increase of the transportation of the mail has exceeded one million five hundred thousand miles annually ; and that one thousand and forty new post-offices have been established. It hence appears, that under judicious management, the income from this establishment may be relied on as fully adequate to defray its expenses ; and that, by the discontinuance of post roads, altogether unproductive, others of more useful character may be opened, till the circulation of the mail shall keep pace with the spread of our population, and the comforts of friendly correspondence, the exchanges of internal traffic, and the lights of the period. ical press, shall be distributed to the remotest corners of the Union, at a charge scarcely perceptible to any individual, and without the cost of a dollar to the public trea. sury.
Úpon this first occasion of addressing the legislature of the Union, with which I have been honored, in presenting to their view the execution, so far as it has been effected, of the measures sanctioned by them, for
promoting the internal improvement of our country, I cannot close the communication without recommending to their calm and persevering consideration the general prin. ciple in a more enlarged extent. The great object of the institution of civil government is the improvement of the condition of those who are parties to the social compact. And no government, in whatever form constituted, can accomplish the lawful ends of its institution, but in proportion as it improves the condition of those over whom it is established. Roads and canals, by mul. tiplying and facilitating the communications and intercourse between distant regions and multitudes of men, are among the most important means of improvement. But moral, political and intellectual improvement, are duties assigned by the Author of our existence, to social, no less than to individual man. For the fulfilment of those duties, governments are invested with power; and, to the attainment of the end, the progressive improvement of the condition of the governed, the exercise of delegated powers is a duty as sacred and indispensable, as the usurpation of powers not granted is criminal and odious. Among the first, perhaps the very first instrument for the improvement of the condition of men, is knowledge; and to the acquisition of much of the know. ledge adapted to the wants, the comforts, and enjoyments of human life, public institutions and seminaries of learning are essential. So convinced of this was the first of my predecessors in this office, now first in the memory as, living, he was first in the hearts of our coun. try, that once and again, in his addresses to the Con. gresses with whom he co-operated in the public service, he earnestly recommended the establishment of seminaries of learning, to prepare for all the emergencies of peace and war-a national university, and a military academy. With respect to the latter, had he lived to the present day, in turning his eyes to the institution at West Point, he would have enjoyed the gratification of his most earnest wishes. But, in surveying the city which has been honored with his name, he would have seen the spot of earth which he had destined and bequeathed to the use and benefit of his country as the site for a university, still bare and barren.
In assuming her station among the civilized nations of the earth, it would seem that our country had contracted the engagement to contribute her share of mind, of labor, and of expense, to the improvement of those parts of knowledge which lie beyond the reach of individual
same common cause.
acquisition; and particularly to geographical and astronomical science. Looking back to the history only of half the century since the declaration of our independence, and observing the generous emulation with which the governments of France, Great Britain, and Russia, have devoted the genius, the intelligence, the treasures of their respective nations, to the common improvement of the species in these branches of science, is it not incumbent upon us to inquire whether we are not bound by obligations of a high and honorable character to contribute our portion of energy and exertion to the common stock? The voyages of discovery prosecuted in the course of that time at the expense of those nations, have not only redounded to their glory, but to the improvement of human knowledge. We have been partakers of that improvement, and owe for it a sacred debt, not only of gratitude, but of equal and proportional exertion in the
Of the cost of these undertakings, if the mere expenditures of outfit, equipment, and completion of the expeditions, were to be considered the only charges, it would be unworthy of a great and generous nation to take a second thought. One hundred expeditions of circumnavigation, like those of Cook and La Perouse, would not burden the exchequer of the nation fitting them out, so much as the ways and means of defraying a single campaign in war. But if we take into the account the lives of those benefactors of mankind, of which their services in the cause of their species were the purchase, how shall the cost of those heroic enterprises be estimated ? And what compensation can be made to them, or to their countries for them? Is it not by bearing them in affectionate remembrance ? Is it not still more by imitating their example? by enabling countrymen of our own to pursue the same career, and to hazard their lives in the same cause?
On inviting the attention of Congress on the subject of internal improvements, upon a view thus enlarged, it is not my design to recommend the equipment of an expedition for circumnavigating the globe for purposes of scientific research and inquiry. We have objects of nseful investigation nearer home, and to which our cares may be more beneficially applied. The imes.or of our own territories has yet been very imperfectly explored. Our coasts, along many degrees of latitude upon tho shores of the Pacific ocean, though much frequented by our spirited commercial navigators, have been barely visited by our public ships. The river of the west, first fully discovered and navigated by a countryman of our own, still bears the name of the ship in which he ascended its waters, and claims the protection of our armed national flag at its mouth. With the establishment of a military post there, or at some other point of that coast, recommended by my predecessor, and already matured in the deliberations of the last Congress, I would suggest the expediency of connecting the equipment of a public ship for the exploration of the whole north-west coast of this continent.
The establishment of a uniform standard of weights and measures, was one of the specific objects contemplated in the formation of our constitution ; and to fix that standard was one of the powers delegated by express terms, in that instrument, to Congress. The governments of Great Britain and France have scarcely ceased to be occupied with inquiries and speculations on the same subject, since the existence of our constitution; and with them it has expanded into profound, laborious, and expensive researches into the figure of the earth, and the comparative length of the pendulum vibrating seconds in various latitudes, from the equator to the pole. These researches have resulted in the composition and publication of several works highly interesting to the cause of science. The experiments are yet in the process of performance. Some of them have recently been made on our own shores, within the walls of one of our own colleges, and partly by one of our own fellow-citizens. It would be honorable to our country is the sequel of the same experiments should be countenanced by the patronage of our government, as they have hitherto been by those of France and Great Britain.
Connected with the establishment of a university, or separate from it, might be undertaken the erection Ö. an astronomical observatory, with provision for the support
of an astronomer, to be in constant attendance of observation upon the phenomena of the heavens ; and for the periodical publication of his observations. It is with no feeling of pride, as an American, that the remark may be made, that, on the comparatively small territorial surface of Europe, there are existing upwards of one hundred and thirty of these light-houses of the skies; while throughout the whole American hemisphere there is not one. If we reflect a moment upon the discoveries which, in the last four centuries, have been made in the physical constitution of the universe, by the means of these buildings, and of observers stationed in them, shall we doub: of their usefulness to every nation? And while scarcely a year passes over our heads without bringing some new astronomical discovery to light, which we must fain receive at second hand from Europe, are we not cutting ourselves off from the means of returning light for light, while we have neither observatory nor observer upon our half of the globe, and the earth revolves in perpetual darkness to our unsearching eyes?
When, on the 25th of October, 1791, the first President of the United States announced to Congress the result of the first enumeration of the inhabitants of this Union, he informed them that the returns gave the pleasing assurance that the population of the United States bordered on four millions of persons. At the distance of thirty years from that time, the last enumeration, five years since completed, presented a population bordering on ten millions. Perhaps of all the evidences of a prosperous and happy condition of human society, the rapidity of the increase of population is the most unequivocal. But the demonstration of our prosperity rests not alone upon
this indication. Our commerce, our wealth, and the extent of our territories have increased in corresponding proportions; and the number of independent communities, associated in our federal Union, has, since that time, nearly doubled. The legislative representation of the states and people, in the two houses of Congress, has grown with the growth of their constituent bodies. The House, which then consisted of sixty-five members, now numbers upwards of two hundred. The Senate,