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the most complete effect, and to advance, in all other respects, the best, interests of our country, will be the object of my constant and zealous exertions.
Never did a government commence under auspices so favorable, nor ever was success so complete. If we look to the history of other nations, ancient or modern, we find no example of a growth so rapid, so gigantic, of a people so prosperous and happy. In contemplating what we have still to perform, the heart of every citizen must expand with joy when he reflects how near our government has approached to perfection; that in respect to it we have no essential improvement to make; that the great object is to preserve it in the essential principles and features which characterize it
, and that that is to be done by preserving the virtue and enlightening the minds of the people; and as a security against foreign dangers, to adopt such arrangements as are indispensable to the support of our independence, our rights and liberties. If we persevere in the career in which we have advanced so far, and in the path already traced, we cannot fail, under the favor of a gracious Providence, to attain the high destiny which seems to await us.
In the administration of the illustrious men who have preceded me in this high station, with some of whom I have been connected by the closest ties from early life, examples are presented which will always be found highly instructive and useful to their successors. From these I shall endeavor to derive all the advantages which they may afford. Of my immediate predecessor, under whom so important a portion of this great and successful experiment has been made, I shall be pardoned for expressing my earnest wishes that he may long enjoy in his retirement the affections of a grateful country, the best reward of exalted talents and the most faithful and meritorious services. Relying on the aid to be derived from the other departments of government, I enter on the trust to which I have been called by the suffrages of my fellow citizens, with my fervent prayers to the Almighty that he will be graciously pleased to continue to us that protection which he has already so conspicuously displayed in our favor.
FIRST ANNUAL MESSAGE.
DECEMBER 2, 1817.
Ar no period of our political existence had we so much cause to felicitate ourselves at the prosperous and happy condition of our country. The abundant'fruits of the earth have filled it with plenty. An extensive and profitable commerce has greatly augmented our revenue. The public credit has attained an extraordinary elevation. Our preparation for defence, in case of future wars, from which, by the experience of all nations, we ought expect to be exempted, are advancing, under a well digested system, with all the despatch which so important a work will admit
. Our free government, founded on the interests and affections of the people, has gained and is daily gaining strength. Local jealousies are rapidly yielding to more generous, enlarged, and enlightened views of national policy. For advantages so numerous and highly important, it is our duty to unite in grateful acknowledg. ments to that Omnipotent Being from whom they are derived, and in
unceasing prayer that he will endow us with virtue and strength to maintain and hand them down, in their utmost purity, to our latest posterity.
I have the satisfaction to inform you that an arrangement which had been commenced by my predecessor, with the British government, for the reduction of the naval force, by Great Britain and the United States, on the lakes, has been concluded; by which it is provided, that neither party shall. keep in service on lake Champlain more than one vessel; on lake Ontario, more than one; on lake Erie and the upper lakes, more than two; to be armed, each with one cannon only, and that all the other armed vessels of both parties, of which an exact list is interchanged, shall be dismantled. It is also agreed that the force retained shall be restricted in its duty to the internal
purposes of each party; and that the arrangement shall remain in force until six months shall have expired after notice having been given by one of the parties to the other of its desire that it should terminate
. By this arrangement, useless expense on both sides, and what is of still greater importance, the danger of collision between armed vessels in those inland waters, which was great, is prevented.
I have the satisfaction also to state, that the commissioners under the fourth article of the treaty of Ghent, to whom it was referred to decide to which party the several islands in the Bay of Passamaquoddy belonged, under the treaty of one thousand seven hundred and eighty-three, have agreed in a report, by which all the islands in the possession of each party before the late war have been decreed to it. The commissioners acting under the other articles of the treaty of Ghent, for the settlement of boundaries, have also been engaged in the discharge of their respective duties, but have not yet completed them. The difference which arose between the two governments, under that treaty, respecting the right of the United States to take and cure fish on the coast of the British provinces, north of our limits, which had been secured by the treaty of one thousand seven hundred and eightythree, is still in negotiation. The proposition made by this government to extend to the colonies of Great Britain the principle of the convention of London, by which the commerce between the ports of the United States and British ports in Europe had been placed on a footing of equality, has been declined by the British government. This subject having been thus amicably discussed between the two governments, and it appearing that the British government is unwilling to depart from its present regulations, it remains for Congress to decide whether they will make any other regulations in consequence thereof for the protection and improvement of our navigation.
The negotiation with Spain, for spoliations on our commerce and the settlements of boundaries, remains essentially in the state it held in the communications that were made to Congress by my predecessor. It has been evidently the policy of the Spanish government to keep the negotiation suspended, and in this the United States have acquiesced, from an amicable disposition toward Spain and in the expectation that her government would, from a sense of justice, finally accede to such an arrangement as would be equal between the parties. A disposition has been lately shown by the Spanish government to move in the negotiation, which has been met by this government, and should the conciliatory and friendly policy which has invariably guided our councils be reciprocated, a just and satisfactory arrangement may be expected. It is proper, however, to remark that no proposition has yet been made from which such a result can be presumed.
It was anticipated, at an early stage, that the contest between Spain and the colonies would become highly interesting to the United States. It was natural that our citizens should sympathize in events which affected their neighbors. It seemed probable, also, that the prosecution of the conflict, along our coast and in contiguous countries, would occcasionally interrupt our commerce and otherwise affect the persons and property of our citizens. These anticipations have been realized. Such injuries have been received from persons acting under the authority of both the parties, and for which redress has in most instances been with
held. Through every stage of the conflict, the United States have maintained an impartial neutrality, giving aid to neither of the parties in men, money, ships, or munitions of war. They have regarded the contest not in the light of an ordinary insurrection or rebellion, but as a civil war between parties nearly equal, having, as to neutral powers, equal rights. Our ports have been open to both, and every article, the fruit of our soil or of the industry of our citizens, which either was permitted to take, has been equally free to the other. Should the colonies establish their independence, it is proper now to state, that this government neither seeks nor would accept from them any advantage in commerce or otherwise which will not be equally open to all other nations. The colonies will in that event become independent states, free from any obligation to, or connection with us, which it may not then be their interest to form on the basis of a fair reciprocity.
In the summer of the present year, an expedition was set on foot against East Florida by persons claiming to act under the authority of some of the colonies, who took possession of Amelia Island, at the mouth of St. Mary's river, near the boundary of the state of Georgia. As the province lies eastward of the Mississippi, and is bounded by the United States and the ocean on every side, and has been a subject of negotiation with the government of Spain, as an indemnity for losses by spoliation or in exchange for territory of equal value westward of the Mississippi, a fact well known to the world, it excited surprise that any countenance should be given to this measure by any of the colonies. As it would be difficult to reconcile it with the friendly relations existing between the United States and the colonies, a doubt was entertained whether it had been authorized by them or any of them. This doubt has gained strength by the circumstances which have unfolded themselves in the prosecution of the enterprise, which have marked it as a mere private unauthorized adventure. Projected and commenced with an incompetent force, reliance seems to have been placed on what might be drawn, in defiance of our laws, from within our limits; and of late, as their resources have failed, it has assumed a more marked character of unfriendliness to us, the island being made a channel for the illicit introduction of slaves from Africa into the United States, an asylum for fugitive slaves from the neighboring states, and a port for smuggling of every kind.
A similar establishment was made, at an earlier period, by persons of the same description, in the Gulf of Mexico, at a place called Galveston, within the limits of the United States, as we contend, under the cession of Louisiana. This enterprise has been marked in a more signal manner by all the objec. tionable circumstances which characterized the other, and more particularly by the equipment of privateers which have annoyed our commerce and by smuggling. These establishments, if ever sanctioned by any authority whatever, which is not believed, have abused their trust and forfeited all claim to consideration. A just regard for the rights and interests of the
United States required that they should be suppressed, and orders have accordingly been issued to that effect
. The imperious considerations which produced this measure will be explained to the parties whom it may in any degree concern.
To obtain correct information on every subject in which the United States are interested; to inspire just sentiments in all persons in authority, on either side, of our friendly disposition, so far as it may comport with an impartial neutrality, and to secure proper respect to our commerce in every port and from every flag, it has been thought proper to send a ship of war, with three distinguished citizens, along the southern coast, with instructions to touch at such ports as they may find most expedient for these purposes. With the existing authorities, with those in the possession of and exercising the sovereignty, must the commmunication be held; from them alone can redress for past injuries committed by persons acting under them be obtained; by them alone can the commission of the like in future be prevented.
Our relations with the other powers of Europe have experienced no essential change since the last session. In our intercourse with each, due attention continues to be paid to the protection of our commerce and to every other object in which the United States are interested. A strong hope is entertained, that by adhering to the maxims of a just, a candid and friendly policy, we may long preserve amicable relations with all the powers of Europe, on conditions advantageous and honorable to our country.
With the Barbary states and the Indian tribes, our pacific relations have been preserved.
In calling your attention to the internal concerns of our country, tủe view which they exbibit is peculiarly gratifying. The payments which have been made into the treasury show the very productive state of the public revenue. After satisfying the appropriations made by law for the support of the civil government and of the military and naval establishments, embracing suitable provision for fortification and for the gradual increase of the navy, paying the interest of the public debt and extinguishing more than eighteen millions of the principal, within the present year, it is estimated that a balance of more than six millions of dollars will remain in the treasury on the first day of January, applicable to the current service of the ensuing year.
The payments into the treasury during the year one thousand eight hun. dred and eighteen, on account of imports and tonnage, resulting principally from duties
which have accrued in the present year, may be fairly estimated at twenty millions of dollars; internal revenues, at two millions five hundred thousand; public lands, at one million five hundred thousand; bank dividends and incidental receipts, at five hundred thousand; making, in the whole, twenty-four millions and five hundred thousand dollars.
The annual permanent expenditure for the support of the civil government, and of the army and navy, as now established by law, amounts to eleven millions eight hundred thousand dollars; and for the sinking fund, to ten millions ; making, in the whole, twenty-one millions eight hundred thousand dollars; leaving an annual excess of revenue, beyond the expenditure, of two millions seven hundred thousand dollars, exclusive of the balance estimated to be in the treasury on the 1st day of January, one thousand eight hundred and eighteen.
In the present state of the treasury, the whole of the Louisiana debt may be redeemed in the year 1819; after which, if the public debt continues as it now is, above par, there will be annually about five millions of the sinking fund unexpended, until the year 1825, when the loan of 1812 and the stock created by funding treasury notes will be redeemable.
It is also estimated that the Mississippi stock will be discharged during the year 1819 from the proceeds of the public lands assigned to that object
, after which the receipts from those lands will annually add to the public revenue the sum of one million five hundred thousand dollars, making the permanent annual revenue amount to twenty-six millions of dollars, and leaving an annual excess of revenue, after the year 1819, beyond the permanent authorized expenditure, of more than four millions of dollars.
By the last returns to the department of war, the militia force of the seve ral states may be estimated at eight hundred thousand men, infantry, artillery, and cavalry: Great part of this force is armed, and measures are taken to arm the whole. An improvement in the organization and discipline of the militia is one of the great objects which claims the unremitted attention of Congress.
The regular force amounts nearly to the number required by law, and is stationed along the Atlantic and inland frontiers.
Of the naval force, it has been necessary to maintain strong squadrons in the Mediterranean and in the Gulf of Mexico.
From several of the Indian tribes inhabiting the country bordering on lake Erie, purchases have been made of lands on conditions very favorable to the United States, and it is presumed not less so to the tribes themselves.
By these purchases the Indian title, with moderate reservations, has been extinguished to the whole of the land within the state of Ohio, and to a great part of that in Michigan territory and of the state of Indiana. From the Cherokee tribe a trace has been purchased in the state of Georgia, and an arrangement made by which, in exchange for lands beyond the Mississippi
, a great part if not the whole of the land belonging to the tribe, eastward of that river, in the state of North Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee, and in the Alabama territory, will soon be acquired. By these acquisitions, and others that may reasonably be expected soon to follow, we shall be enabled to extend our settlements from the inhabited parts of the state of Ohio, along lake Erie, into the Michigan territory, and to connect our settlements by degrees, through the state of Indiana and the Illinois territory, to that of Missouri. A similar and equally advantageous effect will soon be produced to the south, through the whole extent of the states and territory which border on the waters emptying into the Mississippi and the Mobile. In this progress, which the rights of nature demand and nothing can prevent, marking a growth rapid and gigantic, it is our duty to make new efforts for the preservation, improvement, and civilization of the native inhabitants. The hunter state can exist only in the vast uncultivated desert. It yields to the more dense and compact form, and greater force of civilized population; and of right it ought to yield, for the earth was given to mankind to support the greatest number of which it is capable, and no tribe or people have a right to withhold from the wants of others more than is necessary for their own support and comfort. It is gratifying to know that the reservation of land made by the treaties with the tribes on lake Erie, were made with a view to individual ownership among them, and to the cultivation of the soil by all, and that an annual stipend has been pledged to supply their other wants