Page images

lime Porte. Not long after the member of the commission who went directly from the United States had sailed, the account of the treaty of Adrianople, by which one of the objects in view was supposed to be secured, reached this country. The Black sea was understood to be opened to us. Under the supposition that this was the case, the additional facilities to be derived from the establishment of commercial regulations with the Porte were deemed of sufficient importance to requires a prosecution of the negotiation as originally contemplated. It was therefore persevered in, and resulted in a treaty, which will be forth with laid before the Senate.

By its provision a free passage is secured, without limitation of time, to the vessels of the United States to and from the Black sea, including the navigation thereof; and our trade with Turkey is placed on the footing of the most favored nation. The latter is an arrangement wholly independent of the treaty of Adrianople; and the former derives much value, not only from the increased security which, under any circumstances, it would give to the right in question, but from the fact ascertained in the course of the negotiation that, by the construction put upon the treaty by Turkey, the article relating to the passage of the Bosphorus is confined to nations having treaties with the Porte. The most friendly feelings appear to be entertained by the sultan, and an enlightened disposition is evinced by him to foster the intercourse between the two countries by the most liberal arrangements. This disposition it will be our duty and interest to cherish.

Our relations with Russia are of the most stable character. Respect for that empire, and confidence in its friendship toward the United States, have been so long entertained on our part, and so carefully cherished by the present emperor and his illustrious predecessor, as to have become incorporated with the public sentiment of the United States. No means will be left unemployed on my part to promote these salutary feelings, and those improvements of which the commercial intercourse between the two countries is susceptible, and which have derived increased importance from our treaty with the Sublime Porte.

I sincerely regret to inform you that our minister lately commissioned to that court, on whose distinguished talents and great experience in public affairs I placed great reliance, has been compelled by extreme indisposition to exercise a privilege which, in consideration of the extent to which his constitution had been impaired in the public service, was committed to his discretion,-of leaving temporarily his post for the advantage of a more genial climate.

If, as is to be hoped, the improvement of his health should be such as to justify him in doing so, he will repair to St. Petersburgh, and resume the discharge of his official duties. I have received the most satisfactory assurance that in the mean time the public interest in that quarter will be preserved from prejudice by the intercourse which he will continue through the secretary of legation, with the Russian cabinet.

You are apprized, although the fact has not been officially announced to the House of Representatives, that a treaty was, in the month of March last, concluded between the United States and Denmark, by which six hundred and fifty thousand dollars are secured to our citizens as an indemnity for spoliations upon their commerce in the years 1808, 1809, 1810, and 1811. This treaty was sanctioned by the Senate at the close of its last session, and it now becomes the duty of Congress to pass the necessary laws for the organization of the board of commissioners to distribute the indemnity


among the claimants. It is an agreeable circumstance of this adjustment, that iis terms are in conformity with the previously ascertained views of the claimants themselves, thus removing all pretence for a fulure agitation of the subject in any form.

The negotiations in regard to such points in our foreign relations as remain to be adjusted, have been actively prosecuted during the recess Material advances have been made, which are of a character to promise favorable results. Our country, by the blessing of God, is not in a silu:tion to invite aggression; and it will be our fault if she ever becomes so. Sincerely desirous to cultivate the most liberal and friendly relations with all; ever ready to fulfil our engagements with scrupulous fidelity; limiting our demands upon others to mere justice; holding ourselves ever ready to do unto them as we would wish to be done by; and avoiding even the appearance of undue partiality to any nation, it appears to me impossible that a simple and sincere application of our principles to our foreign relations, can fail to place them ultimately upon the footing on which it is our wish they should rest.

of the points referred to, the most prominent are our claims upon France for spoliations upon our commerce; similar claims upon Spain, together with embarrassments in the commercial intercourse between the two countries, which ought to be removed; the conclusion of the treaty of commerce and navigation with Mexico, which has been so long in suspense, as well as the final settlement of limits between ourselves and that republic; and finally, the arbitrament of the question between the United States and Great Britain in regard to the northeastern boundary.

The negotiation with France has been conducted by our minister with zeal and ability, and in all respects to my entire satisfaction. Although the prospect of a favorable termination was occasionally dimmed by coun. ter pretensions, to which the United States could not assent, he yet had strong hopes of being able to arrive at a satisfactory settlement with the late government. The negotiation has been renewed with the present authorities; and, sensible of the general and lively confidence of our citizens in the justice and magnanimity of regenerated France, I regret the more, not to have it in my power yet to announce the result so confidently anticipated. No ground, however, inconsistent with this expectation, has been taken, and I do not allow myself to doubt that justice will soon be done to us. The amount of the claims, the length of time they have remained unsatisfied, and their incontrovertible justice, make an earnest prosecution of them by this government an urgent duty. The illegality of the seizures and confiscations out of which they have arisen is not disputed; and whatever distinctions may have heretofore been set up, in regard to tbe liability of the existing government, it is quite clear that such considerations cannot now be interposed.

The commercial intercourse between the two countries is susceptible of highly advantageous improvements; but the sense of this injury has had, and must continue to have, a very unfavorable influence upon them. From its satisfactory adjustment, not only a firm and cordial friendship, but a progressive development of all their relations may be expected. It is therefore my earnest hope that this old and vexatious subject of difference may be speedily removed.

I feel that my confidence in our appeal to the motives which should go vern a just and magnanimous nation, is alike warranted by the character of

the French people, and by the high voucher we possess for the enlarged views and pure integrity of the monarch who now presides over their councils, and nothing shall be wanting on my part to meet any manifestation of the spirit we anticipate in one of corresponding frankness and liberality.

The subjects of difference with Spain have been brought to the view of that government by our minister there, with much force and propriety; and the strongest assurances have been received of their early and favorable consideration.

The steps which remained to place the matter in controversy between Great Britain and the United States fairly before the arbitrator have all been taken in the same liberal and friendly spirit which characterized those before announced. Recent events have doubtless served to delay the decision, but our minister at the court of the distinguished arbitrator has been assured that it will be made within the time contemplated by the treaty.

I am particularly gratified in being able to state that a decidedly favorable, and, as I hope, lasting change has been effected in our relations with the neighboring republic of Mexico. The unfortunate and unfounded suspicions in regard to our disposition, which it became my painful duty to advert to on a former occasion, have been, I believe, entirely removed, and the government of Mexico has been made to understand the real character of the wishes and views of this in regard to that country. The consequence is, the establishment of friendship and mutual confidence. Such are the assurances which I have received, and I see no cause to doubt their sincerity.

I had reason to expect the conclusion of a commercial treaty with Mexico in season for communication on the present occasion. Circumstances which are not explained, but which I am persuaded are not the result of an indisposition on her part to enter into it, have produced the delay.

There was reason to fear, in the course of last summer, that the harmony of our relations might be disturbed by the acts of certain claimants, under Mexican grants, of territory which has hitherto been under our jurisdiction. The co-operation of the representative of Mexico near this government was asked on the occasion, and was readily afforded. Instructions and advice have been given to the governor of Arkansas and the officers in command in the adjoining Mexican state, by which it is hoped the quiet of that frontier will be preserved, until a final settlement of the dividing line shall have removed all ground of controversy.

The exchange of ratifications of the treaty concluded last year with Austria has not yet taken place. The delay has been occasioned by the nonarrival of the ratification of that govenment within the time prescribed by the treaty. Renewed authority has been asked for by the representative of Austria; and, in the mean time, the rapidly increasing trade and navigation between the two countries have been placed upon the most liberal footing of our navigation acts.

Several alleged depredations have been recently committed on our commerce by the national vessels of Portugal. They have been made the subject of immediate remonstrance and reclamation. I am nos yet possessed of sufficieut information to express a definitive opinion of their character, but expect soon to receive it. ' No proper means shall be omitted to obtain for our citizens all the redress to which they may appear to be entitled.

Almost at the moment of the adjournment of your last session, two bills, the one entitled "An act for making appropiations for building lighthouses, light-boats, beacons, and monuments, placing buoys, and for improving harbors and directing surveys," and the other, “ An act to authorize a subscription for stock in the Louisville and Portland Canal Company," were submitted for my approval. It was not possible, within the time allowed me, before the close of the session, to give these bills the consideration which was due to their character and importance, and I was compelled to retain them for that purpose. I now avail myself of this early opportunity to return them to the houses in which they respectively originated, with the reasons which, after mature deliberation, compel me to withhold my approval.

The practice of defraying out of the treasury of the United States the expenses incurred by the establishment and support of light-houses beacons, buoys, and public piers, within the bays, inlets, harbors, and ports within the United States, to render the navigation thereof safe and easy, is coeval with the adoption of the constitution, and has been continued without interruption or dispute.

As our foreign commerce increased, and was extended into the interior of the country, by the establishment of ports of entry and delivery upon our navigable rivers, the sphere of those expenditures received a corresponding enlargement, Light-houses, beacons, buoys, public piers, and the removal of sand-bars, sawyers, and other partial or temporary impediments in the navagable rivers and harbors, which were embraced in the revenue districts from time to time established by law, were authorized upon the same principle, and the expense defrayed in the same manner. That these expenses have at times been extravagant and disproportionate, it is very probable. The circumstances under which they are incurred are well calculated to lead to such a result, unless their application is subjected to the closest scrutiny. The local advantages arising from the disbursement of public money too frequently, it is to be feared, invite appropriations for objects of this character, that are neither necessary or useful.

The number of light-house keepers is already very large, and the bill before me proposes to add to it fifty-one more, of various descriptions. From representations upon the subject which are understood to be entitled to respect, I am induced to believe that there has not only been great improvidence in the past expenditures of the government upon these objects, but that the security of navigation has, in some instances, been diminished by the multiplication of light-houses, and consequent change of lights, upon the coast. It is in this, as in other respects, our duty to avoid all unnecessary expense, as well as every increase of patronage not called for by the public service. But, in the discharge of that duty in this particular, it must not be forgotten that, in relation to our foreign commerce, the burden and benefit of protecting and accommodating it necessarily go together, and must do so as long as the public revenue is drawn from the people through the customhouse. It is indisputable that whatever gives facility and security to navi gation, cheapens imports: and all who consume them are alike interested in whatever produces this effect. If they consume, they ought, as they now do, to pay ; otherwise they do not pay. The consumer, in the most inland state, derives the same advantage from every necessary and prudent expenditure for the facility and security of our foreign commerce and navigation, that he does i ho resides in a maritime state. Local expenditures have not of themselves a correspondent operation.

From a bill making direct appropriations for such objects, I should not

have withheld my assent. The one now returned does so in several par. iculars, but it also contains appropriations for surveys of a local character which I cannot approve. It gives me satisfaction to find that no serious inconvenience has arisen from withholding my approval from this bill; nor will it, I trust, be cause of regret that an opportunity will be thereby afforded for Congress to review its provisions under circumstances better calculated for full investigation than those under which it was passed.

In speaking of direct appropriations, I mean not to include a practice which has obtained, to some extent, and to which I have, in one instance, in a different capacity, given my assent,—that of subscribing to the stock of private associations. Positive experience, and a more thorough consideration, of the subject, have convinced me of the impropriety as well as inexpediency of such investments. All improvements effected by the funds of the nation for general use should be open to the enjoyment of all our fellow citizens, exempt from the payment of tolls, or any innposition of that character. The practice of thus mingling the concerns of the government with those of the states or of individuals, is inconsistent with the object of its institution, and highly impolitic. The successful operation of the federal system can only be preserved by confining it to the few and simple, but yet important, objects for which it was designed.

A different practice, if allowed to progress, would ultimately change the character of this government, by consolidating into one the general and state guvein nents, which were intended to be kept for ever distinct. I cannot perceive how bills authorizing such subscriptions can be otherwise regarded than as bills for revenue, and consequently subject to the rule in that respect prescribed by the constitution. If the interest of the government in private companies is subordinate to that of individuals, the management and control of a portion of the public funds is delegated to an authority unknown to the constitution, and beyond the supervision of our constituents; if superior, its officers and agents will be constantly exposed to imputations of favoritism and oppression. Direct prejudice to the public interest

, or an alienation of the affections and respect of portions of the people, may, therefore, in addition to the general discredit resulting to the government from embarking with its constituents in pecuniary speculations, be looked for as the probable fruit of such associations. It is no answer to this objection to say that the extent of consequences like these cannot be great from a limited and small number of investments: because experience in other matters teaches us, and we are not at liberty to disregard ils admonitions, ihat, unless an entire stop be put to the n, it will soon be impossible to prevent their accumulation, until they are spread over the whole country, and made to

many of the private and appropriate concerns of individuals. The

power which the general government would acquire within the several states by becoming the principal stockholder in corporations, controlling every canal and each sixty or hun ired miles of every important road, and giving a proportionate vote in all their elections, is almosi inconceivable, and, in my view, dangerous to the liberties of the people.

This mode of aiding such works is, also, in its nature deceptive, and in many cases conducive to improvidence in the administration of the national funds

. Appropriations will be obtain:d with much greater facility, and granted with less security to the public interest, when the measure is thus disguised, than when definite and direct expenditures of money are asked for. The interests of the nation would doubtless be better served by avoid


« PreviousContinue »