« PreviousContinue »
tainty of communication between them, it will be useless to incur, at these depots, the expense of similar machinery, especially that used in preparing the usual metallic and wooden furniture of vessels.
Another improvement would be effected, by dispensing altogether with the navy board, as now constituted, and substituting in its stead bureaus similar to those already existing in the war department. Each member of the board transferred to the head of a separate bureau, charged with specific duties, would feel, in its highest degree, that wholesome responsibility which cannot be divided without a far more than proportionate diminution of its force. Their valuable services would become still more so when sepa. rately appropriated to distinct portions of the great interests of the navy; to the prosperity of which each would be impelled to devote himself by the strongest motives. Under such an arrangement, every branch of this important service would assume a more simple and precise character; its efficiency would be increased, and scrupulous economy in the expenditure of public money promoted.
I would also recommend that the marine corps be merged in the artillery or infantry, as the best mode of curing the many defects in its organization. But little exceeding in number any of the regiments of infantry, that corps has, besides its lieutenant-colonel commandant, five brevet lieutenant-colonels, who receive the full pay and emoluments of their brevet rank, without rendering proportionate service. Details for marine service could as well be made from the infantry or artillery, there being no peculiar training requisite for it
With these improvements, and such others as zealous watchfulness and mature consideration may suggest, there can be little doubt that, under an energetic administration of its affairs, the navy may soon be made every thing that the nation wishes it to be. Its efficiency in the suppression of piracy in the West India seas, and wherever its squadrons have been employed in securing the interests of the country, will appear from the report of the secretary, to which I refer you for other interesting details. Among these I would bespeak the attention of Congress for the views presented in relation to the inequality between the army and navy as to the pay
of officers. No such inequality should prevail between these brave defenders of their country; and where it does exist, it is submitted to Congress whether it ought not to be rectified.
The report of the postmaster-general is referred to as exhibiting a highly satisfactory administration of that department. Abuses have been reformed, increased expedition in the transmission of the mail secured, and its reve nue much improved. In a political point of view, this department is chiefly important as affording the means of diffusing knowledge. It is to the body politic what the veins and arteries are to the natural—conveying rapidly and regularly to the remotest parts of the system, correct information of the operations of the government, and bringing back to it the wishes and feelings of the people. Through its agency, we have secured to ourselves the full enjoyment of the blessings of a free press.
In this general survey of our affairs, a subject of high importance presents itself in the present organization of the judiciary. An uniform operation of the federal government in the different states is certainly desirable; and, existing as they do in the Union, on the basis of perfect equality, each state has a right to expect that the benefiis conferred on the citizens of others should be extended to hers. The judicial system of the United States exists
in all its efficiency in only fifteen members of the Union; to three others, the circuit courts, which constitute an important part of that system, have been imperfectly extended; and to the remaining six, altogether denied. The effect has been, to withhold from the inhabitants of the latter the advantages afforded (by the supreme court) to their fellow citizens in other states, in the whole extent of the criminal, and much of the civil authority of the federal judiciary. That this state of things ought to be remedied, if it can be done consistently with the public welfare, is not to be doubted; neither is it to be disguised that the organization of our judicial system is at once a difficult and delicate task. To extend the circuit courts equally throughout the different parts of the Union, and, at the same time, to avoid such a multiplication of members as would encumber the supreme appellate tribunal, is the object desired. Perhaps it might be accomplished by dividing the circuit judges into two classes, and providing that the supreme court should be held by those classes alternately, the chief justice always presiding.
If an extension of the circuit court system to those states which do not now enjoy its benefits should be determined upon, it would of course be necessary to revise the present arrangement of the circuits; and even if that system should not be enlarged, such a revision is recommended.
A provision for taking the census of the people of the United States will, to ensure the completion of that work within a convenient time, claim the early attention of Congress.
The great and constant increase of business in the department of state forced itself
, at an early period, upon the attention of the executive. Thirteen years ago it was, in Mr. Madison's last message to Congress, made the subject of an earnest recommendation, which has been repeated by both of his successors; and my comparatively limited experience has satisfied me of its justness. It has arisen from many causes, not the least of which is the large addition that has been made to the family of independent nations, and the proportionate extension of our forcign relations. 'l'he remedy proposed was the establishment of a home department,-a measure which does not appear to have met the views of Congress, on account of its supposed tendency to increase, gradually and imperceptibly, the already too strong bias of the federal system toward the exercise of authority not delegated to it. I am not, therefore, disposed to revive the recommendation, but am not the less impressed with the importance of so organizing that department, that its secretary may devote more of his time to our foreign relations. Clearly satisfied that the public good would be promoted by some suitable provision on the subject, I respectfully invite your attention to it.
The charter of the Bank of the United States expires in 1836, and its stockholders will most probably apply for a renewal of their privileges. In order to avoid the evils resulting from precipitancy in a measure involving such important principles, and such deep pecuniary interests, I feel that I cannot, in justice to the parties interested, too soon present it to the deliberate consideration of the legislature and the people. Both the constitutionality and the expediency of the law creating this bank are well questioned by a large portion of our fellow citizens; and it must be admitted by all, that it has failed in the great end of establishing a uniform and sound currency.
Under these circumstances, if such an institution is deemed essential to the fiscal operations of the government, I submit to the wisdom of the legislature whether a national one, founded upon the credit of the government and its revenues, might not be devised, which would avoid all constitational difficulties, and at the same time secure all the advantages to the government and country that were expected to result from the present bank.
I cannot close this communication without bringing to your view the just claim of the representatives of Commodore Decatur, his officers and crew, arising from the re-capture of the frigate Philadelphia, under the heavy batteries of Tripoli. Although sensible, as a general rule, of the impropriety of executive interference under a government like ours, where every individual enjoys the right of directly petitioning Congress; yet, viewing this case as one of a very peculiar character, I deem it my duty to recommend it to your favorable consideration. Besides the justice of this claim, as corresponding to those which have been since recognised and satis fied, it is the fruit of a deed of patriotic and chivalrous daring, which infused life and confidence into our infant navy, and contributed, as much as any exploit in its history, to elevate our national character
. Public gratitude, therefore, stamps her seal upon it, and the meed should not be withheld which may hereafter operate as a stimulus to our gallant tars.
I now commend you, fellow citizens, to the guidance of Almighty God, with a full reliance on his merciful providence for the maintenance of our free institutions; and with an earnest supplication that whatever errors it may be my lot to commit, in discharging the arduous duties which have devolved on me, will find a remedy in the harmony and wisdom of your counsels.
MAYSVILLE ROAD VETO.
May 27, 1830. To the House of Representatives :
GENTLEMEN: I have maturely considered the bill proposing to authorize “a subscription of stock in the Maysville, Washington, Paris, and Lexington Turnpike-road Company," and now return the same to the House of Representatives, in which it originated, with my objections to its passage.
Sincerely friendly to the improvement of our country by means of roads and canals, I regret that any difference of opinion in the mode of contributing to it should exist between us; and if, in stating this difference, I go beyond what the occasion may be deemed to call for, I hope to find an apology in the great importance of the subject, an unfeigned respect for the high source from which ihis branch of it has emanated, and an anxious wish to be correctly understood by my constituents in the discharge of all my duties. Diversity of sentiment among public functionaries, actuated by the same general motives, on the character and tendency of particular measures, is an incident common to all governments, and the more to be expected in one which like ours owes its existence to the freedom of opinion, and must be upheld by the same influence. Controlled as we thus are by a higher tribunal, before which our respective acts will be canvassed with the indulgence due to the imperfections of our nature, and with that intelligence
and unbiased judgment' which are the true correctives of error, all that our responsibility demands is that the public good should be the measure of our views, dictating alike their frank expression and honest maintenance.
In the message which was presented to Congress at the opening of its present session, I endeavored to exhibit briefly my views upon the important and highly-interesting subject to which our attention is now to be directed. I was desirous of presenting to the representatives of the several states in Congress assembled, the inquiry whether some mode could not be devised which would reconcile the diversity of opinion concerning the powers of this government over the subject of internal improvements, and the manner in which these powers, if conferred by the constitution, ought to be exercised. The act which I am called upon to consider has therefore been passed with a knowledge of my viens on this question, as these are expressed in the message referred to. In that document the following suggestion will be found:
“ After the extinction of the public debt it is not probable that any adjustment of the tariff upon principles satisfactory to the people of the Union will, until a remote period, if ever, leave the government without a considerable surplus in the treasury beyond what may be required for its current service. As, then, the period approaches when the application of the revenue to the payment of debts will cease, the disposition of the sur plus will present a subject for the serious deliberation of Congress; and it may be fortunate for the country that it is yet to be decided. Considered in connection with the difficulties which have heretofore attended appropriations for purposes of internal improvement; and with those which this experience tells us will certainly arise, whenever power over such subjects may be exercised by the general government; it is hoped that it may lead to the adoption of some plan which will reconcile the diversified interests of the states, and strengthen the bonds which unite them. Every member of the Union, in peace and in war, will be benefited by the improvement of inland navigation, and the construction of highways in the several states. Let us then endeavor to obtain this benefit in a mode which will be satisfactory to all. That hitherto adopted has been deprecated as an infraction of the constitution by many of our fellow citizens, while by others it has been viewed as inexpedient. All feel that it has been employed at the expense of harmony in the legislative councils." And adverting to the constitutional power of Congress to make what I consider a proper disposition of the surplus revenue, I subjoin the following remarks: "To avoid these evils it appears to me that the most safe, just, and federal disposition which could be made of the surplus revenue would be its apportionment among the several states according to their ratio of representation; and should this measure not be found warranted by the constitution, that it would be expedient to propose to the states an amendment authorizing it.”
The constitutional power of the federal government to construct or promote works of internal improvement presents itself in two points of view: the first, as bearing upon the sovereignty of the states within whose limits their execution is contemplated, if jurisdiction of the territory which they may occupy be claimed as necessary to their preservation and use; the second, as asserting the simple right to appropriate money from the national treasury in aid of such works when undertaken by state authority surrendering the claim of jurisdiction. In the first view, the question of power
is an open one, and can be decided without the embarrassment attending the other, arising from the practice of the government. Although frequently and strenuously attempted, the power to this extent has never been exercised by the government in a single instance. It does not, in my opinion, possess it; and no bill, therefore, which admits it can receive
But in the other view of the power the question is differently situated. The ground taken at an early period of the government was,
that when ever money has been raised by the general authority, and is to be applied to a particular measure, a question arises whether the particular measure be within the enumerated authorities vested in Congress. If it be, the money requisite for it may be applied to it; if not, no such application can be made.” The document in which this principle was first advanced is of deservedly high authority, and should be held in grateful remembrance for its immediate agency in rescuing the country from much existing abuse, and for its conservative effect upon some of the most valuable principles of the constitution. The symmetry and purity of the government would doubtless have been better preserved if this restriction of the power of appropriation could have been maintained without weakening its ability to fulfil the general objects of its institution,—an effect so likely to attend its admission, notwithstanding its apparent fitness, that every subsequent administration of the government, embracing a period of thirty out of the forty-two years of its existence, has adopted a more enlarged construction of the power. It is not my purpose to detain you by a minute recital of the acts which sustain this assertion, but it is proper that I should notice some of the most prominent, in order that the reflections which they suggest to my mind may be better understood.
In the administration of Mr. Jefferson we have two examples of the exercise of the right of appropriation, which, in the considerations that led to their adoption, and in their effects upon the public mind, have had a greater agency in marking the character of the power than any subsequent events. I allude to the payment of fifteen millions of dollars for the purchase of Louisiana, and to the original appropriation for the construction of the Cumberland road; the latter act deriving much weight from the acquiescence and approbation of three of the most powerful of the original members of the confederacy, expressed through their respective legislatures
. Although the circumstances of the latter case may be such as to deprive so much of it as relates to the actual construction of the road of the force of an obligatory exposition of the constitution, it must nevertheless be admitted that so far as the mere appropriation of money is concerned, they present the principle in its most imposing aspect. No less than twenty-three different laws have been passed through all the forms of the constitution, appropriating upwards of two millions and a half of dollars out of the national treasury in support of that improvement, with the approbation of every president of the United States, including my predecessor, since its commencement.
Independently of the sanction given to appropriations for the Cumberland and other roads and objects, under this power, the administration of Mr. Madison was characterized by an act which furnishes the strongest evidence of his opinion of its extent. A bill was passed through both houses of Congress and presented for his approval, "setting apart and pledging certain funds for constructing roads and canals, and improving the navigation of