Page images

cember, 1891, it had increased to $1,577, 262,070, or $24.38 per capita. The offer of the Secretary of the Treasury to the holders of the 4%2 per cent bonds to extend the time of redemption, at the option of the Government, at an interest of 2 per cent, was accepted by the holders of about one-half the amount, and the unextended bonds are being redeemed on presentation.

The report of the Secretary of War exhibits the results of an intelligent, progressive, and business-like administration of a Department which has been too much regarded as one of mere routine. The separation of Secretary Proctor from the Department by reason of his appointment as a Senator from the State of Vermont is a source of great regret to me and to his colleagues in the Cabinet, as I am sure it will be to all those who have had business with the Department while under his charge.

In the administration of army affairs some especially good work has been accomplished. The efforts of the Secretary to reduce the percentage of desertions by removing the causes that promoted it have been so successful as to enable him to report for the last year a lower percentage of desertion than has been before reached in the history of the Army. The resulting money saving is considerable, but the improvement in the morale of the enlisted men is the most valuable incident of the reforms which have brought about this result.

The work of securing sites for shore batteries for harbor defense and the manufacture of mortars and guns of high power to equip them have made good progress during the year. The preliminary work of tests and plans, which so long delayed a start, is now out of the way. Some guns have been completed, and with an enlarged shop and a more complete equipment at Watervliet the Army will soon be abreast of the Navy in gun construction. Whatever unavoidable causes of delay may arise, there should be none from delayed or insufficient appropriations. We shall be greatly embarrassed in the proper distribution and use of naval vessels until adequate shore defenses are provided for our harbors.

I concur in the recommendation of the Secretary that the threebattalion organization be adopted for the infantry. The adoption of a smokeless powder and of a modern rifle equal in range, precision, and rapidity of fire to the best now in use will, I hope, not be longer delayed.

The project of enlisting Indians and organizing them into separate companies upon the same basis as other soldiers was made the subject of very careful study by the Secretary and received my approval. Seven companies have been completely organized and seven more are in process of organization. The results of six months' training have more than realized the higliest anticipations. The men are readily brought under discipline, acquire the drill with facility, and show great pride in the right discharge of their duties and perfect loyalty to their officers, who declare that they would take them into action with confidence. The discipline, order, and cleanliness of the military posts will have a wholesome and elevating influence upon the men enlisted, and through them upon their tribes, while a more friendly feeling for the whites and a greater respect for the Government will certainly be promoted.

The great work done in the Record and Pension Division of the War Department by Major Ainsworth, of the Medical Corps, and the clerks under him, is entitled to honorable mention. Taking up the work with nearly 41,000 cases behind, he closed the last fiscal year without a single case left over, though the new cases had increased 52 per cent in number over the previous year by reason of the pension legislation of the last Congress.

I concur in the recommendation of the Attorney-General that the right in felony cases to a review by the Supreme Court be limited. It would seem that personal liberty would have a safe guaranty if the right of review in cases involving only fine and imprisonment were limited to the circuit court of appeals, unless a constitutional question should in some way be involved.

The judges of the Court of Private Land Claims, provided for by the act of March 3, 1891, have been appointed and the court organized. It is now possible to give early relief to communities long repressed in their development by unsettled land titles and to establish the possession and right of settlers whose lands have been rendered valueless by adverse and unfounded claims.

The act of July 9, 1888, provided for the incorporation and management of a reforin school for girls in the District of Columbia ; but it has remained inoperative for the reason that no appropriation has been made for construction or maintenance. The need of such an institution is very urgent. Many girls could be saved from depraved lives by the wholesome influences and restraints of such a school. I recommend that the necessary appropriation be made for a site and for construction.

The enforcement by the Treasury Department of the law prohibiting the coming of Chinese to the United States has been effective as to such as seek to land from vessels entering our ports. The result has been to divert the travel to vessels entering the ports of British Columbia, whence passage into the United States at obscure points along the Dominion boundary is easy.

A very considerable number of Chinese laborers have, during the past year, entered the United States from Canada and Mexico.

The officers of the Treasury Department and of the Department of Justice have used every means at their command to intercept this immigration ; but the impossibility of perfectly guarding our extended frontier is apparent. The Dominion Government collects a head tax of $50 from every Chinaman entering Canada, and thus derives a considerable revenue from those who only use its ports to reach a position of advantage to evade our exclusion laws. There seems to be satisfactory evidence that the business of passing Chinamen through Canada to the United States is organized and quite active. The Department of Justice has construed the laws to require the return of any Chinaman found to be unlawfully in this country to China as the country from which he came, notwithstand

, ing the fact that he came by way of Canada ; but several of the district courts have, in cases brought before them, overruled this view of the law and decided that such persons must be returned to Canada. This construction robs the law of all effectiveness, even if the decrees could be executed, for the men returned can the next day recross our border. But the only appropriation made is for sending them back to China, and the Canadian officials refuse to allow them to reënter Canada without the payment of the $50 head tax. I recommend such legislation as will remedy these defects in the law.

In previous messages I have called the attention of Congress to the necessity of so extending the jurisdiction of the United States courts as to make triable therein any felony committed while in the act of violating a law of the United States. These courts can not have that independence and effectiveness which the Constitution contemplates so long as the felonious killing of court officers, jurors, and witnesses in the discharge of their duties, or by reason of their acts as such, is only cognizable in the State courts. The work done by the Attorney-General and the officers of his Department, even under the present inadequate legislation, has produced some notable results in the interest of law and order.

The Attorney-General and also the Commissioners of the District of Columbia call attention to the defectiveness and inadequacy of the laws relating to crimes against chastity in the District of Columbia. A stringent code upon this subject has been provided by Congress for Utah, and it is a matter of surprise that the needs of this District should have been so long overlooked.

In the report of the Postmaster-General some very gratifying results are exhibited and many betterments of the service suggested. A perusal of the report gives abundant evidence that the supervision and direction of the postal system have been characterized by an intelligent and conscientious desire to improve the service. The revenues of the Department show an increase of over five millions of dollars, with a deficiency for the year 1892 of less than four millions of dollars, while the estimate for the year 1893 shows a surplus of receipts over expenditures.

Ocean-mail post-offices have been established upon the steamers of the North German Lloyd and Hamburg lines, saving, by the distribution on shipboard, from two to fourteen hours' time in the delivery of mail at the port of entry and often much more than this in the delivery at interior places. So thoroughly has this system, initiated by Germany and the United States, evidenced its usefulness that it can not be long before it is installed upon all the great ocean mail-carrying steamships.

Eight thousand miles of new postal service has been established upon railroads, the car distribution to sub-stations in the great cities has been increased about 12 per cent, while the percentage of errors in distribution has, during the past year, been reduced over onehalf. An appropriation was given by the last Congress for the purpose of making some experiments in free delivery in the smaller cities and towns. The results of these experiments have been so satisfactory that the Postmaster-General recommends, and I concur in the recommendation, that the free-delivery system be at once extended to towns of 5,000 population. His discussion of the inadequate facilities extended under our present system to rural communities and his suggestions with a view to give these communities a fuller participation in the benefits of the postal service are worthy of your careful consideration. It is not just that the farmer, who receives his mail at a neighboring town, should not only be compelled to send to the post-office for it, but to pay a considerable rent for a box in which to place it or to wait his turn at a generaldelivery window, while the city resident has his mail brought to his door. It is stated that over 54,000 neighborhoods are, under the present system, receiving mail at post-offices where money orders and postal notes are not issued. The extension of this system to these communities is especially desirable, as the patrons of such offices are not possessed of the other facilities offered in more populous communities for the transmission of small sums of money.

I have, in a message to the preceding Congress, expressed my views

as to a modified use of the telegraph in connection with the postal service.

In pursuance of the ocean-mail law of March 3, 1891, and after a most careful study of the whole subject and frequent conferences with shipowners, boards of trade, and others, advertisements were issued by the Postmaster-General for 53 lines of ocean-mail service: 10 to Great Britain and the Continent, 27 to South America, 3 to China and Japan, 4 to Australia and the Pacific Islands, 7 to the West Indies, and 2 to Mexico. It was not, of course, expected that bids for all these lines would be received or that service upon them all would be contracted for. It was intended, in furtherance of the act, to secure as many new lines as possible, while including in the list most or all of the foreign lines now occupied by American ships. It was hoped that a line to England and perhaps one to the Continent would be secured; but the outlay required to equip such lines wholly with new ships of the first class and the difficulty of establishing new lines in competition with those already established deterred bidders whose interest had been enlisted. It is hoped that a way may yet be found of overcoming these difficulties. The Brazil Steamship Company, by reason of a miscalculation as to the speed of its vessels, was not able to bid under the terms of the advertisement. The policy of the Department was to secure from the established lines an improved service as a condition of giving to them the benefits of the law. This in all instances has been attained. The Postmaster-General estimates that an expenditure in American shipyards of about ten millions of dollars will be necessary to enable the bidders to construct the ships called for by the service which they have accepted. I do not think there is any reason for discouragement or for any turning back from the policy of this legislation. Indeed, a good beginning has been made, and, as the subject is further considered and understood by capitalists and shipping people, new lines will be ready to meet future proposals, and we may date from the passage of this law the revival of American shipping interests and the recovery of a fair share of the carrying trade of the world. We were receiving for foreign postage nearly two millions of dollars under the old system and the outlay for ocean-mail service did not exceed $600,000 per annum. It is estimated by the Postmaster-General that, if all the contracts proposed are completed, it will require $247,354 for this year, in addition to the appropriation for sea and inland postage already in the estimates, and that for the next fiscal year, ending June 30, 1893, there would probably be needed about $560,000.

« PreviousContinue »