« PreviousContinue »
anxious desire which was felt that no individuals should be injured by so unforeseen an occurrence, and I rely on the regard of Congress for the equitable interests of our own citizens to adopt whatever farther provisions may be found requisite for a general remission of penalties involuntarily incurred.
The recall of the disavowed minister having been followed by the appointment of a successor, hopes were indulged that the new mission would contribute to alleviate the disappointment which had been produced, and to remove the causes which had so long embarrassed the good understanding of the two nations. It could not be doubted that it would at least be charged with conciliatory explanations of the steps which had been taken, and with proposals to be substituted for the rejected arrangement Reasonable and universal as this expectation was, it also has not been fulfilled. From the first official disclosures of the new minister it was found that he had received no authority to enter into explanations relative to either branch of the arrangement disavowed, nor any authority to substitute proposals as to that branch which concerned the British orders in council; and finally, that his proposals with respect to the other branch, the attack on the frigate Chesapeake, were founded on a presumption repeatedly declared to be inadmissible by the United States, thai the first step toward adjustment was due from them, the proposals at the same time omitting even a reference to the officer answerable for the murderous aggression, and asserting a claim not less contrary to the British laws and British practice than to the principles and obligations of the United States.
The corespondence between the department of state and this minister will show how unessentially the features presented in its commencement have been varied in its progress.
It will show also that, forgetting the respect due to all governments, he did not refrain from imputations on this, which required that no farther communications should be received from him. The necessity of this step will be made known to His Britannic Majesty through the minister plenipotentiary of the United States in London. And it would indicate a want of the confidence due to a government which so well understands and exacts what becomes foreign ministers near it, not to infer that the misconduct of its own representative will be viewed in the same light in which it has been regarded here. The British government will learn at the same time that a ready attention will be given to communications through any channel which may be substituted. be happy if the change in this respect should be accompanied by a favor. able revision of the unfriendly policy which has been so long pursued toward the United States.
With France, the other belligerent, whose trespasses on our commercial rights have long been the subject of our just remonstrances, the posture of our relations does not correspond with the measures taken on the part of the United States to effect a favorable change. The result of the several communications made to her government, in pursuance of the authorities vested by Congress in the executive, is contained in the correspondence of our minister at Paris now laid before you.
By some of the other belligerents, although professing just and amicable dispositions, injuries materially affecting our commerce have not been duly controlled or repressed. In these cases, the interpositions deemed proper on our part have not been omitted. But it well deserves the consideration
of the legislature how far both the safety and honor of the American flag may be consulted, by adequate provision against that collusive prostitution of it by individuals, unworthy of the American name, which has so much favored the real or pretended suspicions under which the honest commerce of their fellow citizens has suffered.
In relation to the powers on the coast of Barbary, nothing has occurred which is not of a nature rather to inspire confidence than distrust, as to the continuance of the existing amity. With our Indian neighbors, the just and benevolent system continued toward them has also preserved peace, and is more and more advancing habits favorable to their civilization and happiness.
From a statement which will be made by the secretary of war, it will be seen that the fortifications on our maritime frontier are in many of the ports completed, affording the defence which was contemplated, and that a farther time will be required to render complete the works in the harbor of New York, and in some other places. By the enlargement of the works and the employment of a greater number of hands at the public armories, the supply of small arms of an improving quality appears to be annually increasing at a rate that, with those made on private contract, may be expected to go far toward providing for the public exigency.
The act of Congress providing for the equipment of our vessels of war having been fully carried into execution, I refer to the statement of the secretary of the navy for the information which may be proper on that subject. To that statement is added a view of the transfers of appropriations authorized by the act of the session preceding the last, and of the grounds on which the transfers were made.
Whatever may be the course of your deliberations on the subject of our military establishments, I should fail in my duty in not recommending to your serious attention the importance of giving to our militia, the great bulwark of our security and resource of our power, an organization the best adapted to eventual situations for which the United States ought to be prepared.
The sums which had been previously accumulated in the treasury, together with the receipts during the year ending on the 30th of September last, (and amounting to more than nine millions of dollars,) have enabled us to fulfil all our engagements and to defray the current expenses of government without recurring to any loan. But the insecurity of our commerce, and the consequent diminution of the public revenue will probably produce a deficiency in the receipts of the ensuing year, for which, and for other details, I refer to the statements which will be transmitted from the treasury:
In the state which has been presented of our affairs with the great parties to a disastrous and protracted war, carried on in a mode equally injurious and unjust to the United States as a neutral nation, the wisdom of the national legislature will be again summoned to the important decision on the alternatives before them. That these will be met in a spirit worthy the councils of a nation conscious both of its rectitude and of its rights, and careful as well of its honor as of its peace, I have an entire confidence. And that the result will be stamped by a unanimity becoming the occasion, and be supported by every portion of our citizens with a patriotism enlightened and invigorated by experience, ought as little to be doubted.
In the midst of the wrongs and vexations experienced from external
causes, there is much room for congratulation on the prosperity and happiness flowing from our situation at home. The blessing of health has never been more universal. The fruits of the seasons, though in particular articles and districts short of their usual redundancy, are more than sufficient for our wants and our comforts. The face of our country every where presents the evidence of laudable enterprise, of extensive capital, and of durable improvement. In a cultivation of the materials and the extension of useful manufactures, more especially in the general application to household fabrics, we behold a rapid diminution of our dependence on foreign supplies. Nor is it unworthy of reflection that this revolution in our pursuits and habits is in no slight degree a consequence of those impolitic and arbitrary edicts by which the contending nations, in endeavoring each of them to obstruct our trade with the other, have so far abridged our means of procuring the productions and manufactures of which our own are now taking the place.
Recollecting always, that for every advantage which may contribute to distinguish our lot from that to which others are doomed by the unhappy spirit of the times, we are indebted to that Divine Providence whose goodness has been so remarkably extended to this rising nation, it becomes us to cherish a devout gratitude, and to implore from the same Omnipotent Source a blessing on the consultations and measures about to be undertaken for the welfare of our beloved country.
SECOND ANNUAL MESSAGE.
DECEMBER 5, 1810.
The embarrassments which have prevailed in our foreign relations, and so much employed the deliberations of Congress, make it a primary duty in meeting you to communicate whatever may have occurred in that branch of our national affairs.
The act of the last session of Congress, concerning the commercial intercourse between the United States and Great Britain and France, and their dependencies, having invited in a new form a termination of their edicts against our neutral commerce, copies of the act were immediately forwarded to our ministers at London and Paris, with a view that its object might be within the early attention of the French and British governments
. By the communication received through our minister at Paris, it appeared that a knowledge of the act by the French government was fol. lowed by a declaration that the Berlin and Milan decrees were revoked, and would cease to have effect on the first day of November ensuing. These being the only known edicts of France within the description of the act, and the revocation of them being such that they ceased at that date to violate our neutral commerce, the fact, as prescribed by law, was announced by a proclamation bearing date the second day of November.
It would have well accorded with the conciliatory views indicated by this proceeding on the part of France, to have extended them to all the grounds of just complaint which now remain unadjusted with the United States. It was particularly anticipated that as a farther evidence of just dispositions toward them, restoration would have been immediately made
of the property of our citizens seized under misapplication of the principle of reprisals combined with a misconstruction of the law of the United States. This expectation has not been fulfilled.
From the British government no communication on the subject of the act has been received. To a communication from our minister at London of a revocation by the French government of its Berlin and Milan decrees it was answered, that the British system would be relinquished as soon as the repeal of the French decrees should have actually taken effect, and the commerce of neutral nations have been restored to the condition in which it stood previously to the promulgation of those decrees. This pledge, although it does not necessarily import, does not exclude the intention of relinquishing, along with the orders in council, the practice of those novel blockades which have a like effect of interrupting our neutral commerce; and this farther justice to the United States is the rather to be looked for, inasmuch as the blockades in question, being not more contrary to the established law of nations than inconsistent with the rules of blockade formally recognised by Great Britain herself, could have no alleged basis other than the plea of retaliation alleged as the basis of the orders in council. Under the modification of the original orders of November, 1807, into the orders of April, 1809, there is indeed scarcely a nominal distinction between the orders and the blockades. One of those illegitimate blockades, bearing date in May, 1806, having been expressly avowed to be still unrescinded, and to be in effect comprehended in the orders in council, was too distinctly brought within the purview of the act of Congress not to be comprehended in the explanation of the requisites to a compliance with it. The British government was accordingly apprized by our minister near it that such was the light in which the subject was to be regarded.
On the other important subjects depending between the United States and that government, no progress has been made from which an early and satisfactory result can be relied on. In this new posture of our relations with those
powers, the consideration of Congress will be properly turned to a removal of doubts which may occur in the exposition, and of difficulties in the execution, of the act above cited,
The commerce of the United States with the north of Europe, heretofore much voxed by licentious cruisers, particularly under the Danish flag, has latterly been visited with fresh and extensive depredations. The measures pursued in behalf of our injured citizens not having obtained justice for them, a farther and more formal interposition with the Danish government is contemplated. The principles which have been maintained by that government in relation to neutral commerce, and the friendly professions of His Danish Majesty toward the United States, are valuable pledges in favor of a successful issue.
Among the events growing out of the state of the Spanish monarchy, our attention was imperiously attracted to the change developing itself in that portion of West Florida which, though of right appertaining to the United States, had remained in the possession of Spain, awaiting the result of negotiations for its actual delivery to them. The Spanish authority was subverted, and a situation produced exposing the country to ulterior events which might essentially affect the rights and welfare of the Union. In such a conjuncture I did not delay the interpositions required for the occupancy of the territory west of the river Perdido, to which the title of the United
States extends, and to which the laws provided for the territory of Orleans are applicable. With this view, the proclamation of which a copy is laid before you was confided to the governor of that territory to be carried into effect. The legality and necessity of the course pursued assure me of the favorable light in which it will present itself to the legislature, and of the promptitude with which they will supply whatever provisions may be due to the essential rights and equitable interests of the people thus brought into the bosom of the American family.
Our amity with the powers of Barbary, with the exception of a recent occurrence at Tunis, of which an explanation is just received appears to have been uninterrupted and to have become more firmly established.
With the Indian tribes, also, the peace and friendship of the United States are found to be so eligible, that the general disposition to preserve both continues to gain strength.
I feel particular satisfaction in remarking that an interior view of our country presents us with grateful proofs of its substantial and increasing prosperity. To a thriving agriculture, and the improvements relating to it, is added a highly interesting extension of useful manufactures, the combined product of professional occupations and of household industry. Such, indeed, is the experience of economy, as well as of policy, in these substitutes for supplies heretofore obtained by foreign commerce, that in a national view the change is justly regarded as of itself more than a recompense for those privations and losses resulting from foreign injustice which furnished the general impulse required for its accomplishment. How far it may be expedient to guard the infancy of this improvement in the distribution of labor by regulations of the commercial tariff
, is a subject which cannot fail to suggest itself to your patriotic reflections.
It will rest with the consideration of Congress, also, whether a provident as well as fair encouragement would not be given to our navigation by such regulations as would place it on a level of competition with foreign vessels, particularly in transporting the important and bulky productions of our own soil
. The failure of equality and reciprocity in the existing regulations on this subject operates in our ports as a premium to foreign competitors; and the inconvenience must increase as these may be multiplied, under more favorable circumstances, by the more than countervailing encouragements now given them by the laws of their respective countries.
Whilst it is universally admitted that a well instructed people alone can be permanently a free people, and whilst it is evident that the means of diffusing and improving useful knowledge form so small a proportion of the expenditures for national purposes, I cannot presume it to be unseasonable to invite your attention to the advantages of superadding to the means of education provided by the several states a seminary of learning instituted by the national legislature, within the limits of their exclusive jurisdiction, the expense of which might be defrayed or reimbursed out of the vacant grounds which have accrued to the nation within those limits.
Such an institution, though local in its legal character, would be unirersal in its beneficial effects. By enlightening the opinions, by expanding the patriotism, and by assimilating the principles, the sentiments, and the manners of those who might resort to this temple of science, to be redistributed in due time through every part of the community, sources of jealousy and prejudice would be diminished, the features of national character would be multiplied, and greater extent given to social harmony. But above all, a