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you can regard it in no other light, it becomes my duty to call your
atten tion to such measures as the exigency of the case demands, if the claim of interfering in the communications between the different branches of our government shall be persisted in. This pretension is rendered the more unreasonable by the fact that the substance of the required explanation has been repeatedly and voluntarily given before it was insisted on as a condition—a condition the more humiliating because it is demanded as the equivalent of a pecuniary consideration. Does France desire only a declaration that we had no intention to obtain our rights by an address to her fears rather than to her justice? She has already had it, frankly and explicitly given by our minister accredited to her government, his act ratified by me, and my confirmation of it officially communicated by him, in his letter to the French minister of foreign affairs, on the 25th of April, 1835, and repeated by my published approval of that letter after the passage of the bill of indemnification. Does France want a degrading, servile repetition of this act, in terms which she shall dictate, and which will involve an acknowledgment of her assumed right to interfere in our domestic councils ? She will never obtain it. The spirit of the American people, the dignity of the legislature, and the firm resolve of their executive government, forbid it.
As the answer of the French minister to our chargé d'affaires at Paris, contains an allusion to a letter addressed by him to the representative of France at this place, it now becomes proper to lay before you
the corres. pondence bad between that functionary and the secretary of state relative to that letter, and to accompany the same with such explanations as will you
to understand the course of the executive in regard to it. Recurring to the historical statement made at the commencement of your session, of the origin and progress of our difficulties with France, it will be recollected that, on the return of our minister to the United States, I caused my official approval of the explanations he had given to the French minister of foreign affairs, to be made public. As the French government had noticed the message without its being officially communicated, it was not doubted that, if they were disposed to pay the money
due to us, they would notice any public explanation of the government of the United States in the same way.
But, contrary to these well-founded expectations, the French ministry did not take this fair opportunity to relieve themselves from their unfortunate position, and to do justice to the United States.
Whilst, however, the government of the United States was awaiting the movements of the French government, in perfect confidence that the difficulty was at an end, the secretary of state received a call from the French chargé d'affaires in Washington, who desired to read to him a letter he had received from the French minister of foreign affairs. He was asked whether he was instructed or directed to make any official communication, and replied that he was only authorized to read the letter, and furnish a copy if requested. The substance of its contents, it is presumed, may be gathered from Nos. 4 and 6, herewith transmitted. It was an attempt to make known to the government of the United States, privately, in what muner it could make explanations, apparently voluntary, but really diclated by France, acceptable to her, and thus obtain payment of the twentyfive millions of francs. No exception was taken to this mode of communication, which is often used to prepare the way for official intercourse,
but the suggestions made in it were in their substance wholly inadmissible. Not being in the shape of an official communication to this government, it did not admit of reply or official notice, nor could it safely be made the basis of any action by the executive or the legislature, and the secretary of state did not think proper to ask a copy, because he could have no use for it. Copies of papers, marked Nos. 9, 10, and 11, show an attempt on the part of the French chargé d'affaires, many weeks afterwards, to place a copy of this paper among the archives of this government, which, for obvious reasons, was not allowed to be done; but the assurance before given was repeated, that any official communication which he might be authorized to make in the accustomed form, would receive a prompt
and just consideration. The indiscretion of this attempt was made more manifest by the subsequent avowal of the French chargé d'affaires, that the object was to bring this letter before Congress and the American people. If foreign agents, on a subject of disagreement between their governments and this, wish to prefer an appeal to the American people
, they will hereafter, it is hoped, better appreciate their own rights, and the respect due to others, than to attempt to use the executive as the passive organ of their communications. It is due to the character of our institutions, that the diplomatic intercourse of this government should be conducted with the utmost directness and simplicity, and that, in all cases of importance, the communications received or made by the executive should assume the accustomed official form. It is only by insisting op this form, that foreign powers can be held 10 full responsibility; that their communications can be officially replied to; or that the advice or interference of the legislature can, with propriety, be invited by the President. This course is also best calculated, on the one hand, to shield that officer from unjust suspicions, and on the other, to subject this portion of his acts to public scrutiny; and if occasion should require it, to constitutional animadversion. It was the more necessary to adhere to these principles in the instance in question, inasmuch as, in addition to other important interests, it very intimately concerns the national honor; a matter in my judgment much too sacred to be made the subject of private and unofficial negotiation.
It will be perceived that this letter of the French minister of foreign affairs was read to the secretary of state on the 11th of September last This was the first authentic indication of the specific views of the French government, received by the government of the United States after the passage of the bill of indemnification. Inasmuch as the letter had been written before the official notice of my approval of Mr. Livingston's last explanation and remonstrance could have reached Paris, just ground of hope was lefi as has been before stated, that the French government, on receiving that isformation, in the same manner as the alleged offensive message had reached them, would desist from their extraordinary demand, and pay the money at once. To give them an opportunity to do so, and, at all events, to elicit their final determination, and the ground they intended to occupy, the instructions were given to our chargé d'affaires, which were adverted to at the commencement of the present session of Congress. The result, as you have seen, is a demand of an official written expression of regrets, and a direct explanation addressed to France, with a distinct intimation that this is a sine quâ non.
Mr. Barton having, in pursuance of his instructions, returned to the United
States, and the chargé d'affaires of France having been recalled, all diplomatic intercourse between the two countries is suspended,
- a state of things originating in an unreasonable susceptibility on the part of the French government, and rendered necessary on our part by their resusal to perform engagements contained in a treaty, from the faithful performance of which by us they are to this day enjoying many important commercial advantages.
It is time that this unequal position of affairs should cease, and that legislative action should be brought to sustain executive exertion in such measures as the case requires. While France persists in her refusal to comply with the terms of a treaty, the object of which was, by removing all causes of mutual complaint, to renew ancient feelings of friendship, and to unite the two nations in the bonds of amity and of a mutually beneficial commerce, she cannot justly complain if we adopt such peaceful remedies as the law of nations and the circumstances of the case may authorize and demand. Of the nature of these remedies I have heretofore had occasion to speak, and, in reference to a particular contingency, to express my conviction that reprisals would be best adapted to the emergency then contemplated. Since that period, France, by all the departments of her government, has acknowledged the validity of our claims, and the obligations of the treaty, and bas appropriated the moneys which are necessary to its execution; and though payment is with held on grounds vitally important to our existence as an independent nation, it is not to be believed that she can have determined permanently to retain a position so utterly indefensible. In the altered state of the questions in controversy, under all existing circumstances, it appears to me, that until such a determination shall have become evident, it will be proper and sufficient to retaliate her present refusal to , comply with her engagements, by prohibiting the introduction of French products and the entry of French vessels into our ports. Between this and the interdiction of all commercial intercourse, or other remedies, you, as the representatives of the people, must determine. I recommend the former in the present posture of our affairs, as being the least injurious to our commerce, and as attended with the least difficulty of returning to the usual state of friendly intercourse, if the government of France shall render us the justice that is due, and also as a proper preliminary step to stronger measures, should their adoption be rendered necessary by subsequent events.
The return of our chargé d'affaires is attended with public notices of Daval preparations on the part of France, destined for our seas. Of the cause and intent of these armaments I have no authentic information, nor any other means of judging, except such as are common to yourselves and to the public; but whatever may be their object, we are not at liberty to regard them as unconnected with the measures which hostile movements on the part of France may compel us to pursue. They at least deserve to be met by adequate preparation on our part
, and I therefore strongly urge large and speedy appropriations for the increase of the navy, and the completion of our coast defences.
If this array of military force be really designed to affect the action of the government and the people of the United States, on the questions now pending between the two nations, then indeed would it be dishonorable to pause a moment on the alternative which such a state of things would present to us.
Come what may, the explanation which France demands
can never be accorded; and no armament, however powerful and imposing, at a distance or on our coast, will, I trust, deter us from discharging the high duties which we owe to our constituents, our national character, and to the world. The House of Representatives, at the close of the last session of Congress
, unanimously resolved that the treaty of the 4th of July, 1831, should be maintained, and its execution insisted on by the United States. It is due to the welfare of the human race, not less than to our own interests and honor, that this resolution should at all hazards be adhered to. If, after so signal an example as that given by the American people, during their long-protracted difficulties with France, of forbearance under accumulated wrongs, and of generous confidence in her ultimate return to justice, she shall now be permitted to withhold from us the tardy and imperfect indemnification which, after years of remonstrance and discussion, had at length been solemnly agreed on by the treaty of 1831, and to set at naught the obligations it imposes, the United States will not be the only sufferers. The efforts of humanity and religion to substitute the appeals of justice and the arbitrament of reason, for the coercive remedies usually resorted to by injured nations, will receive little encouragement from such an issue. By the selection and enforcement of such lawful and expedient measures as may be necessary to prevent a result so injurious to ourselves, and so fatal to the hopes of the philanthropist, we shall therefore not only preserve the pecuniary interests of our citizens, the independence of our government, and the honor of our country, but do much, it may be hoped, to vindicate the faith of treaties, and to promote the general interests of peace, civilization, and improvement.
EIGHTH ANNUAL MESSAGE.
DECEMBER 6, 1836.
ADDRESSING to you the last annual message I shall ever present to the Congress of the United States, it is a source of the most heartfelt satisfaction to be able to congratulate you on the high state of prosperity which our beloved country has attained. With no causes at home or abroad to lessen the confidence with which we look to the future for continuing proofs of the capacity of our free institutions to produce all the fruits of good government, the general condition of our affairs may well excite our national pride.
I cannot avoid congratulating you and my country, particularly on the success of the efforts made during my administration by the executive and legislature, in conformity with the sincere, constant, and earnest desire of the people, to maintain peace, and establish cordial relations with all foreign powers. Our gratitude is due to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, and I invite you to unite with me in offering to him fervent supplications, that his providential care may ever be extended to these who follow us, enabling them to avoid the dangers and the horrors of war, consistently with a just and indispensable regard to the rights and honor of our country. But
although the present state of our foreign affairs, standing without important change as they did when you separated in July last, is flattering in the extreme, I regret to say, that many questions of an interesting nature, at issue with other powers, are yet unadjusted. Among the most prominent of these is that of the northeastern boundary. With an undiminished confidence in the sincere desire of his Britannic majesty's government to adjust that ques. tion, I am not yet in possession of the precise grounds upon which it proposes a satisfactory adjustment.
With France, our diplomatic relations have been resumed, and under circumstances which attest the disposition of both governments to preserve a mutually beneficial intercourse, and foster those amicable feelings which are so strongly required by the true interests of the two countries. With Russia, Austria, Prussia, Naples, Sweden, and Denmark, the best understanding exists, and our commercial intercourse is gradually expanding itself with them. It is encou
ouraged in all these countries, except Naples, by their mutually advantageous and liberal treaty stipulations with us.
The claims of our citizens on Portugal are adınitted to be just, but provision for the payment of them has been unfortunately delayed by frequent political changes in that kingdom.
The blessings of peace have not been secured by Spain. Our connections with that country are on the best footing, with the exception of the burdens still imposed upon our commerce with her possessions out of Europe.
The claims of American citizens for losses sustained at the bombardment of Antwerp, have been presented to the governments of Holland and Belgium, and will be pressed, in due season, to settlement.
With Brazil, and all our neighbors of this continent, we continue to maintain relations of amity and concord, extending our commerce with them as far as the resources of the people and the policy of their government will permit us. The just and long-standing claims of our citizens upon some of them are yet sources of dissatisfaction and complaint. No danger is apprehended, however, that they will not be peacefully, although tardily, acknowledged and paid by all, unless the irritating effect of her struggle with Texas should unfortunately make our immediate neighbor, Mexico, an exception.
It is already known to you, by the correspondence between the two governments communicated at your last session, that our conduct in relation to that struggle is regulated by the same principles that governed us in the dispute between Spain and Mexico herself, and I trust that it will be found on the most severe scrutiny, that our acts have strictly corresponded with our professions. That the inhabitants of the United States should feel strong prepossessions for the one party is not surprising. But this circumstance should, of itself, teach us great caution, lest it lead us into the great error of suffering public policy to be regulated by partiality or prejudice; and there are considerations connected with the possible result of this contest between the two parties of so much delicacy and importance to the United States, that our character requires that we should neither anticipate events nor attempt to control them. The known desire of the Texians to become a part of our system, although its gratification depends upon the reconcilement of various and conflicting interests, necessarily a work of time, and uncertain in itself, is calculated to expose our conduct to misconstruction in the eyes of the world. There are already those who, indifferent