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there have been projects of partial confederacies to be erected upon the ruins of the Union, they have been scattered to the winds. If there have been dangerous attachments to one foreign nation, and antipathies against another, they have been extinguished. Ten years of peace, at home and abroad, have assuaged the animosities of political contention, and blended into harmony the most discordant elements of public opinion. There still remains one effort of magnanimity, one sacrifice of prejudice and passion, to be made by the individuals throughout the nation, who have heretofore followed the standard of political party. It is that of discarding every remnant of rancor against each other; of embracing as countrymen and friends; and of yielding to talents and virtue alone, that confidence which, in times of contention for principle, was bestowed only upon those who bore the badge of party communion.
The collisions of party spirit, which originate in speculative opinions, or in different views of administrative policy, are in theirnature transitory. Those which are founded on geographical divisions, adverse interests of soil, climate, and modes of domestic life, are more permanent, and therefore perhaps more dangerous. It is this which gives inestimable value to the character of our government, at once federal and national. It holds out to us a perpetual admonition to preserve alike, and with equal anxiety, the rights of each individual state in its own government, and the rights of the whole nation in that of the Union. Whatever is of domestic concealment, unconnected with the other members of the Union, or with foreign lands, belongs exclusively to the administration of the state governments. Whatsoever directly involves the rights and interests of the federative fraternity, or of foreign powers, is of the resort of this general government. The duties of both are obvious in the general principle, though sometimes perplexed with difficulties in the detail. To respect the rights of the state governments is the inviolable duty of that of the Union; the government of every state will feel its own obligation to respect and preserve the rights of the whole. The prejudices every where too commonly entertained against distant strangers are worn away, anil the jealousies of jarring interests are al layed by the composition and functions of the great na tional councils annually assembled from all quarters of the Union at this place. Here the distinguished men from every section of our country, while meeting to deliberate upon the great interests of those by whom they are deputed, learn to estimate the talents, and do justice to the virtues of each other. The harmony of the nation is promoted, and the whole Union is knit together by the sentiments of mutual respect, the habits of social intercourse, and the ties of personal friendship, formed between the representatives of its several parts, in the performance of their service at this metropolis.
Passing from this general review of the purposes and injunctions of the federal constitution, and their results, as indicating the first traces of the path of duty in the discharge of my public trust, I turn to the administration of my immediate predecessor, as the second. It has passed away in a period of profound peace: how much to the satisfaction of our country, and to the honor of our country's name, is known to you all. The great features of its policy, in general concurrence with the will of the legislature, have been—to cherish peace while preparing for defensive war; to yield exact justice to other nations, and maintain the rights of our own; to cherish the principles of freedom and of equal rights, wherever they were proclaimed; to dischai-ge with all possible promptitude the national debt; to reduce within the narrowest limits of efficiency the military force; to improve the organization and discipline of the army; to provide and Sup tain a school of military science; to extend equal protection to all the great interests of the nation; to promote the civilization of the Indian tribes; and to proceed in the great system of internal improvements within the limits of the constitutional power of the Union. Under the pledge of these promises, made by that eminent citizen, at the time of his first induction to this office, in his career of eight years, the internal taxes have been repealed; sixty millions of the public debt have been discharged; provision has been made for the comfort and relief of the aged and indigent among the surviving warriors of the revolution; the regular armed force has been reduced, and its constitution revised and perfected; the accountability for the expenditures of public moneys has been made more effective; the Floridas have been peaceably acquired, and our boundary has been extended to the Pacific ocean; the independence of the southern nations of this hemisphere has been recognized, and recommended by example and by counsel to the potentates of Europe . progress has been made in the defence of the country by fortifications, and the increase of the navy—towards tho effectual suppression of the African traffic in slaves—in alluring the aboriginal hunters of our land to the cultivation of the soil and of the mrnd—in exploring the interior regions of the Union, and in preparing, by scientific researches and surveys, for the further application of our national resources to the internal improvement of our country.
In this brief outline of the promise and performance of my immediate predecessor, the line of duty for his successor is clearly delineated. To pursue to their consummation those purposes of improvement in our common condition, instituted or recommended by him, will embrace the whole sphere of my obligations. To the topic of internal improvement, emphatically urged by him at his inauguration, I recur with peculiar satisfaction. It is that from which I am convinced that the unborn millions of our posterity, who are in future ages to people this continent, will derive their most fervent gratitude to the founders of the Union; that in which the beneficent action of its government will be most deeply felt and acknowledged. The magnificence and splendor of their public works are among the imperishable glories of the ancient republics. The road* and aqueducts of Rome have been the admiration of all after-ages, and have survived thousands of years, after all her conquests have been swallowed up in despotism, or become the spoil of barbarians. Some diversity of opinion has prevailed with regard to the powers of Congress for legislation upon objects 6f this nature. The mostrespectful deference is due to doubts, originating in pure patriotism, and sustained by venerated authority. But nearly twenty years have passed since the construction of the first national road was commenced. The autbority for its construction was then unquestioned. To how many thousands of our countrymen has it proved a benefit? To what single individual has it eveT proved an injury 1 Repeated, liberal and candid discussions in the legislature have conciliated the sentiments, and approximated the opinions of enlightened minds, upon the question of constitutional power. I cannot but hope that, by the same process of friendly, patient, and persevering deliberation, all constitutional objections will ultimately be removed. The extent and limitation of the powers of the general government, in relation to this transcendently important interest, will be settled and acknowledged to the common satisfaction of all; and every speculative scruple will be solved by a practical public blessing.
Fellow-citizens, you are acquainted with the peculiar circumstances of the recent elections, which have resulted in affording me the opportunity of addressing you at this time. You have heard the exposition of the principles which will direct roe in the fulfilment of the high and solemn trust imposed upon me in this station. Less possessed of your confidence in advance than any of my predecessors, I am deeply conscious of the prospect that I shall stand, more and oftener, in need of your indulgence. Intentions, upright and pure; a heart devoted to the welfare of our country, and the unceasing application of the faculties allotted to me to her service, are all the pledges that I can give to the faithful performance of the arduous duties I am to undertake. To the guidance of the legislative councils; to the assistance of the executive and subordinate departments; to the friendly cooperation of the respective state governments; to the candid and liberal support of the people, so far as it may be deserved by honest industry and zeal, I shall look for whatever success may attend my public service: and knowing that, except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain, with fervent supplications for his favor, to his overruling providence I commit, with humble but fearless confidence, my own fate and the future destinies of my country.
J. Q. ADAMS' FIRST ANNUAL MESSAGE,
December 6, 1825
To the Senate, and
House of Representatives of the United States: In taking a general survey of the concerns of our beloved country, with reference to subjects interesting to the common welfare, the first sentiment which impresses itself upon the mind, is of gratitude to the Omnipotent Disposer of all good, for the continuance of the signal blessings of his providence, and especially for that health, which, to an unusual extent, has prevailed within our borders; and for that abundance which, in the vicissitudes of the seasons, has been scattered with profusion over our land. Nor ought we less to ascribe to Him the glory, that we are permitted to enjoy the bounties of his hand in peace and tranquillity—in peace with all the other nations of the earth, in tranquillity amongourselves. There has, indeed, rarely been a period in the history of civilized man, in which the general condition of the Christian nations has been marked so extensively by peace and prosperity.
Europe, with a few partial and unhappy exceptions, has enjoyed ten years of peace, during which all her governments, whatever the theory of their constitutions may have been, are successively taught to feel that the end of their institutions is the happiness of the people, and that the exercise of power among men can be justified only by the blessings it confers upon those over whom it is extended.
During the same period, our intercourse with all those nations has been pacific and friendly; it so continues. Since the close of your late session, no material variation has occurred in our relations with any one of them. In the commercial and navigation system of Great Britain, important changes of municipal regulations have recently been sanctioned by the acts of parliament, the effect of which upon the interests of other nations, and particularly upon ours, has not yet been fully developed. In the