Page images

of tolls to keep them in repair, cannot be dispensed with. The Cumberland road should be an instructive admonition of the consequences of acting without this right. Year after year, contests are witnessed, growing out of efforts to obtain the necessary appropriations for completing and repairing this useful work. Whilst one Congress may claim and exercise the power, a succeeding one may deny it; and this fluctuation of opinion must be unavoidably fatal to any scheme which, from its extent, would promote the interests and elevate the character of the country. The experience of the past has shown that the opinion of Congress is subject to such fluctuations.

If it be the desire of the people that the agency of the federal government should be confined to the appropriation of money in aid of such undertakings, in virtue of state authorities, then the occasion, the manner, and the extent of the appropriations, should be made the subject of constitutional regulation. This is the more necessary, in order that they may be equitable among the several states; promote harmony between different sections of the Union and their representatives; preserve other parts of the constitution from being undermined by the exercise of doubtful powers, or the too great extension of those which are not so; and protect the whole subject against the deleterious influence of combinations to carry, by concert, measures which, considered by themselves, might meet but little countenance. That a constitutional adjustment of this power upon equitable principles is in the highest degree desirable, can scarcely be doubted; nor can it fail to be promoted by every sincere friend to the success of our political institutions. In no government are appeals to the source of power in cases of real doubt more suitable than in ours. No good motive can be assigned for the exercise of power by the constituted authorities, whilst those for whose benefit it is to be exercised have not conferred it, and may not be willing to confer it. It would seem to me that an honest application of the conceded powers of the general government to the advancement of the common weal, presents a sufficient scope to satisfy a reasonable ambition. The difficulty and supposed impracticability of obtaining an amendment of the constitution in this respect is, I firmly believe, in a great degree unfounded. The time has never yet been when the patriotism and intelligence of the Ameri can people were not fully equal to the greatest exigency; and it never will, when the subject calling forth their interposition is plainly presented to them. To do so with the questions involved in this bill, and to urge them to an early, zealous, and full consideration of their deep importance, is in my estimation among the highest of our duties.

A supposed connection between appropriations for internal improvement and the system of protecting duties, growing out of the anxieties of those more immediately interested in their success, has given rise to suggestions which it is proper I should notice on this occasion. My opinions on these subjects have never been concealed from those who had a right to know them. Those which I have entertained on the latter have frequently placed me in opposition to individuals as well as communities, whose claims upon my friendship and gratitude are of the strongest character; but I trust there has been nothing in my public life which has exposed me to the suspicion of being thought capable of sacrificing my views of duty to private considerations, however strong they may have been, or deep the regrets which they are capable of exciting.

As long as the encouragement of domestic manufactures is directed to national ends, it shall receive from me a temperate but steady support. There

is no necessary connection between it and the system of appropriations. On the contrary, it appears to me that the supposition of their dependence upon each other is calculated to excite the prejudices of the public against both. The former is sustained on the ground of its consistency with the letter and spirit of the constitution, of its origin being traced to the assent of all the parties to the original compact, and of its having the support and approbation of a majority of the people; on which account it is at least entitled to a fair experiment. The suggestions to which I have alluded refer to a forced continuance of the national debt, by means of large appropriations, as a substitute for the security which the system derives from the principles on which it has hitherto been sustained. Such a course would certainly indicate either an unreasonable distrust of the people, or a consciousness that the system does not possess sufficient soundness for its support, if left to their voluntary choice and its own merits. Those who suppose that any policy thus founded can be long upheld in this country, have looked upon its history with eyes very different from mine. This policy, like every other, must abide the will of the people, who will not be likely to allow any device, however specious, to conceal its character and tendency.

In presenting these opinions, I have spoken with the freedom and candor which I thought the occasion for their expression called for; and now respectfully return the bill which has been under consideration, for your farther deliberation and judgment.

DECEMBER 7, 1830.

Fellow Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

THE pleasure I have in congratulating you upon your return to your constitutional duties is much heightened by the satisfaction which the condition of our beloved country at this period justly inspires. The Beneficent Author of all good has granted to us, during the present year, health, peace, and plenty, and numerous causes for joy in the wonderful success which attends the progress of our free institutions.

With a population unparalleled in its increase, and possessing a character which combines the hardihood of enterprise with the considerateness of wisdom, we see in every section of our happy country a steady improvement in

means of social intercourse, and correspondent effects upon the genius and laws of our extended republic.

The apparent exceptions to the harmony of the prospect are to be referred rather to the inevitable diversities in the various interests which enter into the composition of so extensive a whole, than to any want of attachment to the Union,-interests whose collisions serve only, in the end, to foster the spirit of conciliation and patriotism, so essential to the preservation of that Union which I most devoutly hope is destined to prove imperishable.

In the midst of these blessings, we have recently witnessed changes in the condition of other nations which may, in their consequences, call for the utmost vigilance, wisdom, and unanimity in our councils, and the exercise of all the moderation and patriotism of our people.

The important modifications of their government, effected with so much courage and wisdom by the people of France, afford a happy presage of their future course, and have naturally elicited from the kindred feelings of this

nation that spontaneous and universal burst of applause in which you have participated. In congratulating you, my fellow citizens, upon an event so auspicious to the dearest interests of mankind, I do no more than respond to the voice of my country, without transcending in the slightest degree that salutary maxim of the illustrious Washington, which enjoins an absti nence from all interference with the internal affairs of other nations. From a people exercising in the most unlimited degree the right of self-government, and enjoying, as derived from this proud characteristic, under the favor of heaven, much of the happiness with which they are blessed: a people who can point in triumph to their free institutions, and challenge comparison with the fruits they bear, as well as with the moderation, intelligence, and energy, with which they are administered; from such a people the deepest sympathy was to be expected in a struggle for the sacred principles of liberty, conducted in a spirit every way worthy of the cause, and crowned by a heroic moderation which has disarmed revolution of its terrors. Notwithstanding the strong assurances which the man whom we so sincerely love and justly admire has given to the world of the high character of the present king of the French, and which, if sustained to the end, will secure to him the proud appellation of patriot king, it is not in his success, but in that of the great principle which has borne him to the throne-the paramount authority of the public will-that the American people rejoice.

I am happy to inform you that the anticipations which were indulged at the date of my last communication on the subject of our foreign affairs have been fully realized in several important particulars.

An arrangement has been effected with Great Britain, in relation to the trade between the United States and her West India and North American colonies, which has settled a question that has for years afforded matter for contention and almost uninterrupted discussion, and has been the subject of no less than six negotiations, in a manner which promises results highly favorable to the parties.

The abstract right of Great Britain to monopolize the trade with her colonies, or to exclude us from a participation therein, has never been denied by the United States. But we have contended, and with reason, that if at any time Great Britain may desire the productions of this country as neces sary to her colonies, they must be received upon principles of just recipro city; and farther, that it is making an invidious and unfriendly distinction to open her colonial ports to the vessels of other nations and close them against those of the United States.

Antecedently to 1794, a portion of our productions was admitted into the colonial islands of Great Britain, by particular concessions, limited to the term of one year, but renewed from year to year. In the transportation of these productions, however, our vessels were not allowed to engage this being a privilege reserved to British shipping, by which alone our produce could be taken to the islands, and theirs brought to us in re turn. From Newfoundland and her continental possessions all our productions, as well as our vessels, were excluded, with occasional relaxe tions, by which, in seasons of distress, the former were admitted in British bottoms.

By the treaty of 1794 she offered to concede to us, for a limited time, the right of carrying to her West India possessions, in our vessels not exceeding seventy tons burden, and upon the same terms as British vessels, any pro

[ocr errors]

ductions of the United States which British vessels might import therefrom. But this privilege was coupled with conditions which are supposed to have led to its rejection by the Senate; that is, that American vessels should land their return cargoes in the United States only; and moreover, that they should, during the continuance of the privilege, be precluded from carrying molasses, sugar, cocoa, or cotton, either from those islands or from the United States, to any other part of the world. Great Britain readily consented to expunge this article from the treaty; and subsequent attempts to arrange the terms of trade either by treaty stipulations or concerted legislation, having failed, it has been successively suspended and allowed according to the varying legislation of the parties.

The following are the prominent points which have in latter years separated the two governments. Besides a restriction whereby all importations into her colonies in American vessels are confined to our own products carried hence, a restriction to which it does not appear that we have ever objected, a leading object on the part of Great Britain has been to prevent us from becoming the carriers of British West India commodities to any other country than our own. On the part of the United States, it has been contended, Ist. That the subject should be regulated by treaty stipulations in preference to separate legislation; 2d. That our productions, when imported into the colonies in question, should not be subject to higher duties than the productions of the mother country, or of her other colonial possessions; and 3d. That our vessels should be allowed to participate in the circuitous trade between the United States and different parts of the British dominions.

The first point, after having been for a long time strenuously insisted upon by Great Britain, was given up by the act of parliament of July, 1825; all vessels suffered to trade with the colonies being permitted to clear from thence with any articles which British vessels might export, and proceed to any part of the world, Great Britain and her dependencies alone excepted. On our part, each of the above points had in succession been explicitly abandoned in negotiations preceding that of which the result is now announced.

This arrangement secures to the United States every advantage asked by them, and which the state of the negotiation allowed us to insist upon. The trade will be placed upon a footing decidedly more favorable to this country than any on which it ever stood; and our commerce and navigation will enjoy in the colonial ports of Great Britain every privilege allowed to other nations.

That the prosperity of the country, so far as it depends on this trade, will be greatly promoted by the new arrangement, there can be no doubt. Independently of the more obvious advantages of an open and direct intercourse, its establishment will be attended with other consequences of a higher value. That which has been carried on since the mutual interdict under all the expenses and inconvenience unavoidably incident to it, would have been insupportably onerous had it not been in a great degree lightened by concerted evasions in the mode of making the transhipments at what are called the neutral ports. These indirections are inconsistent with the dignity of nations that have so many motives not only to cherish feelings of mutual friendship, but to maintain such relations as will stimulate their respective citizens and subjects to efforts of direct, open, and honorable competition. only, and preserve them from the influence of seductive and vitiating cir


[ocr errors]

When your preliminary interposition was asked at the close of the last session, a copy of the instructions under which Mr. M'Lane has acted, together with the communications which had at that time passed between him and the British government, was laid before you. Although there has not been any thing in the acts of the two governments which requires secrecy, it was thought most proper, in the then state of the negotiation, to make that communication a confidential one. So soon, however, as the evidence of execution on the part of Great Britain is received, the whole matter shall be laid before you, when it will be seen that the apprehension which appears to have suggested one of the provisions of the act passed at your last session, that the restoration of the trade in question might be connected with other subjects, and was sought to be obtained at the sacrifice of the public interest in other particulars, was wholly unfounded; and that the change which has taken place in the views of the British government has been induced by considerations as honorable to both parties as I trust the result will prove beneficial.

This desirable result was, it will be seen, greatly promoted by the liberal and confiding provisions of the act of Congress of the last session, by which our ports were, upon the reception and annunciation by the president of the required assurance on the part of Great Britain, forthwith opened to her vessels, before the arrangement could be carried into effect on her part; pursuing in this act of prospective legislation a similar course to that adopted by Great Britain in abolishing, by her act of parliament in 1825, a restriction then existing, and permitting our vessels to clear from the colonies on their return voyages for any foreign country whatever, before British vessels had been relieved from the restriction imposed by our law, of returning directly from the United States to the colonies,-a restriction which she required and expected that we should abolish. Upon each occasion a limited and temporary advantage has been given to the opposite party, but an advantage of no importance in comparison with the restoration of a mutual confidence and good feeling, and the ultimate establishment of the trade upon fair principles.

It gives me unfeigned pleasure to assure you that this negotiation has been throughout characterized by the most frank and friendly spirit on the part of Great Britain, and concluded in a manner strongly indicative of a sincere desire to cultivate the best relations with the United States. To reciprocate this disposition to the fullest extent of my ability is a duty which I shall deem it a privilege to discharge.

Although the result is itself the best commentary on the services rendered to his country by our minister to the court of St. James, it would be doing violence to my feelings were I to dismiss the subject without expressing the very high sense I entertain of the talent and exertion which have been displayed by him on the occasion.

The injury to the commerce of the United States, resulting from the exclusion of our vessels from the Black sea, and the previous footing of mere suferance upon which even the limited trade enjoyed by us with Turkey has hitherto been placed, have for a long time been a source of much solicitude to this government, and several endeavors have been made to obtain a better state of things. Sensible of the importance of the object I felt it my duty to leave no proper means unemployed to acquire for our flag the same privileges that are enjoyed by the principal powers of Europe. Commissioners were consequently appointed to open a negotiation with the Sub

« PreviousContinue »