« PreviousContinue »
compose much of the population of the province, a number have actually borne arms against the United States within their limits, some of whom, after having done so, have become prisoners of war and are now in our possession. The British commander in that province, nevertheless, with the sanction as appears of his government, thought proper to select from American prisoners of war, and send to Great Britain for trial as criminals, a number of individuals who had emigrated from the British dominions long prior to the state of war between the two nations, who had incorporated themselves into our political society in the modes recognised by the law and practice of Great Britain, and who were made prisoners of war under the banners of their adopted country, fighting for its rights and its safety.
The protection due to these citizens requiring an effectual interposition in their behalf, a like number of British prisoners of war were put into confinement, with a notification that they would experience whatever via lence might be committed on the American prisoners of war sent to Great Britain.
It was hoped that this necessary consequence of the step unadvisedly taken on the part of Great Britain would have led her government to reflect on the inconsistencies of its conduct, and that a sympathy with the British, if not with the American sufferers, would have arrested the cruel career opened by its example.
This was unhappily not the case. In violation both of consistency and of humanity, American officers and non-commissioned officers, in double the number of the British soldiers confined here, were ordered into close confinement, with formal notice that in the event of a retaliation for the death which might be inflicted on the prisoners of war sent to Great Britain for trial, the officers so confined would be put to death also. It was notified at the same time that the commanders of the British fleets and armies on our coasts are instructed, in the same event, to proceed with a destructive severity against our towns and their inhabitants.
That no doubt might be left with the enemy of our adherence to the retaliatory resort imposed on us, a correspondent number of British officers, prisoners of war in our hands, were immediately put into close confinement, to abide the fate of those confined by the enemy; and the British govern ment has been apprized of the determination of this government to retaliate any other proceedings against us contrary to the legitimate modes of warfare.
It is as fortunate for the United States that they have it in their power to meet the enemy in this deplorable contest, as it is honorable to them that they do not join in it but under the most imperious obligations, and with the humane purpose of effectuating a return to the established usages of war.
The views of the French government on the subjects which have been so long committed to negotiation have received no elucidation since the close of your late session. The minister plenipotentiary of the United States at Paris had not been enabled by proper opportunities to press the object of his mission as prescribed by his instructions.
The militia being always to be regarded as the great bulwark of defence and security for free states, and the constitution having wisely committed to the national authority a use of that force, as the best provision against an unsafe military establishment, as well as a resource peculiarly adapted to a country
having the extent and the exposure of the United States, I recommend to Congress a revision of the militia laws for the purpose of securing more effectually the services of all detachments called into the employment, and placed under the government of the United States.
It will deserve the consideration of Congress, also, whether among other improvements in the militia laws justice does not require a regulation, under due precautions, for defraying the expense incident to the first assembling as well as the subsequent movements of the detachments called into the national service.
To give our vessels of war, public and private, the requisite advantage in their cruises, it is of much importance that they should have, both for themselves and their prizes, the use of the ports and markets of friendly powers. With this view, I recommend to Congress the expediency of such legal provisions as may supply the defects or remove the doubts of the executive authority, to allow to the cruisers of other powers at war with the enemies of the United States such use of the American ports as may correspond with the privileges allowed by such powers to American cruisers.
During the year ending on the 30th of September last, the receipts into the treasury have exceeded thirty-seven millions and a half of dollars, of which near twenty-four millions were the produce of loans. After meeting all the demands for the public service, there remained in the treasury on that day near seven millions of dollars. Under the authority contained in the act of the 2d of August last, for borrowing seven millions and a half of dollars, that sum has been obtained on terms more favorable to the United States than those of the preceding loan made during the present year. Farther sums to a considerable amount will be necessary to be obtained in the same way during the ensu. ing year, and from the increased capital of the country, from the fidelity with which the public engagements have been kept, and the public credit maintained, it may be expected on good grounds that the necessary pecuniary supplies will not be wanting.
The expenses of the current year, from the multiplied operations falling within it, have necessarily been extensive. But, on a just estimate of the campaign in which the mass of them has been incurred, the cost will not be found disproportionate to the advantages which have been gained. The campaign has, indeed, in its latter stages in one quarter, been less favorable than was expected; but in addition to the importance of our naval success, the progress of the campaign has been filled with incidents highly honorable to the American arms.
The attacks of the enemy on Craney Island, on Fort Meigs, on Sackett's Harbor, and on Sandusky, have been vigorously and successfully repulsed ; nor have they in any case succeeded on either frontier, except when directed against the peaceable dwellings of individuals or villages unprepared or undefended.
On the other hand, the movements of the American army have been followed by the reduction of York, and of Forts George, Erie, and Malden; by the recovery of Detroit and the extinction of the Indian war in the west; and by the occupancy or command of a large portion of Upper Canada. Battles have also been fought on the borders of the St: Lawrence, which, though not accomplishing their entire objects, reflect honor on the discipline and prowess of our soldiery, the best auguries of eventual victory. In the same scale are to be placed the late successes in the south, over one of the
most powerful, which had become one of the most hostile also, of the Indian tribes.
It would be improper to close this communication without expressing a thankfulness, in which all ought to unite, for the numerous blessings with which our beloved country continues to be favored; for the abundance which overspreads our land, and the prevailing health of its inhabitants; for the preservation of our internal tranquillity, and the stability of our free institutions; and above all, for the light of Divine truth and the protection of every man's conscience in the enjoyment of it. And although among our blessings we cannot number an exemption from the evils of war, yet these will never be regarded as the greatest of evils by the friends of liberty and of the rights of nations. Our country has before preferred them to the degraded condition which was the alternative when the sword was drawn in the cause which gave birth to our national independence; and none who contemplate the magnitude and feel the value of that glorious event will shrink from a struggle to maintain the high and happy ground on which it placed the American people.
With all good citizens, the justice and necessity of resisting wrongs and usurpations no longer to be borne will sufficiently outweigh the privations and sacrifices inseparable from a state of war. But it is a reflection, moreover, peculiarly consoling, that while wars are generally aggravated by their baneful effects on the internal improvements and permanent prosperity of the nations engaged in them, such is the favored situation of the United States, that the calamities of the contest into which they have been compelled to enter are mitigated by improvements and advantages of which the contest itself is the source.
If the war has increased the interruptions of our commerce, it has at the same time cherished and multiplied our manufactures so as to make us independent of all other countries for the more essential branches for which we ought to be dependent on none; and is even rapidly giving them an extent which will create additional staples in our future intercourse with foreign markets.
If much treasure has been expended, no inconsiderable portion of it has been applied to objects durable in their value and necessary to our permanent safety
If the war has exposed us to increased spoliations on the ocean, and to predatory incursions on the land, it has developed the national means of retaliating the former, and of providing protection against the latter, demonstrating to all that every blow aimed at our maritime independence is an impulse accelerating the growth of our maritime power.
By diffusing through the mass of the nation the elements of military discipline and instruction; by augmenting and distributing warlike preparations applicable to future use; by evincing the zeal and valor with which they will be employed, and the cheerfulness with which every necessary burden will be borne, a greater respect for our rights and a longer duration of our future peace are promised than could be expected without these proofs of the national character and resources.
The war has proved, moreover, that our free government, like other free governments, though slow in its early movements, acquires in its progress a force proportioned to its freedom, and that the union of these states, the guardian of the freedom and safety of all and of each, is strengthened by every occasion that puts it to the test.
In fine, the war, with all its vicissitudes, is illustrating the capacity and the destiny of the United States to be a great, a flourishing, and a powerful nation, worthy of the friendship which it is disposed to cultivate with all others, and authorized by its own example to require from all an observance of the laws of justice and reciprocity. Beyond these, their claims have never extended, and in contending for these we behold a subject for our congratulations in the daily testimonies of increasing harmony throughout the nation, and may humbly repose our trust in the smiles of Heaven on so righteous a cause.
DECEMBER 9, 1813.
The tendency of our commercial and navigation laws in their present state to favor the enemy and thereby prolong the war, is more and more developed by experience. Supplies of the most essential kind find their way not only to British ports and British armies at a distance, but the armies in our neighborhood, with which our own are contending, derive from our ports and outlets a subsistence attainable with difficulty, if at all, from other sources. Even the fleets and troops infesting our coasts and waters are by like supplies accommodated and encouraged in their predatory and incursive warfare.
Abuses having a like tendency take place in our import trade. Britsh fabrics and products find their way into our ports under the name and from the ports of other countries, and often in British vessels disguised as neutrals by false colors and papers.
To these abusès it may be added, that illegal importations are openly made, with advantage to the violators of the law, produced by the undervaluations or other circumstances involved in the course of the judicial proceedings against them.
It is found, also, that the practice of ransoming is a cover for collusive captures, and a channel for intelligence advantageous to the enemy.
To remedy, as much as possible, these evils, I recommend
That all articles known to be derived, either not at all or in an immaterial degree only, from the productions of any other country than Great Britain, and particularly the extensive articles made of wool and cotton materials, and ardent spirits made from the cane, be expressly and absolutely prohibited, from whatever port or place, or in whatever vessels the same may be brought into the United States; and that all violations of the non-importation act be subjected to adequate penalties.
That among the proofs of the neutral and national character of foreign vessels it be required that the masters and supercargoes, and three fourths at least of the crew, be citizens or subjects of the country under whose flag the vessels sail.
That all persons concerned in collusive captures by the enemy, or in ransoming vessels or their cargoes from the enemy, be subjected to adequate penalties.
To shorten as much as possible the duration of the war, it is indispensable
that the enemy should feel all the pressure that can be given to it, and the restraints having that tendency will be borne with the greater cheerfulness by all good citizens, as the restraints will affect those most who are most ready to sacrifice the interests of their country in pursuit of their
FEBRUARY 26, 1814.
It has appeared that, at the recovery of the Michigan territory from the temporary possession of the enemy, the inhabitants thereof were left in so destitute and distressed a condition as to require from the public stores certain supplies essential to their subsistence, which have been prolonged under the same necessity which called for them.
The deplorable situation of the savages, thrown by the same event on the mercy and humanity of the American commander at Detroit, drew from the same source the means of saving them from perishing by famine; and in other places the appeals made by the wants and sufferings of that unhappy description of people have been equally imperious.
The necessity imposed by the conduct of the enemy in relation to the savages, of admitting their co-operation in some instances with our arms, has also involved occasional expense in supplying their wants; and it is possible that a perseverance of the enemy in their cruel policy may render a farther expense for the like purpose inevitable,
On these subjects an estimate from the department of war will be laid before Congress, and I recommend a suitable provision for them.
MARCH 31, 1814.
Taking into view the mutual interest which the United States and the foreign nations in amity with them have in a liberal commercial intercourse, and the extensive changes favorable thereto which have recently taken place -- taking into view, also, the important advantages which may otherwise result from adapting the state of our commercial laws to the circumstances now existing, I recommend to the consideration of Congress the expediency of authorizing, afetr a certain day, exportations (specie excepted) from the United States, and in vessels of the United States, and in vessels owned and navigated by the subjects of powers at peace with them; and a repeal of so much of our laws as prohibits the importation of articles not the property of enemies but produced or manufactured only within their dominions.
I recommend, also, as a more effectual safeguard and encouragement to our growing manufactures, that the additional duties on imports which are to expire at the end of one year after a peace with Great Britain, be prolonged to the end of two years after that event ; and that, in favor of our moneyed institutions, the exportation of specie be prohibited throughout the same period.