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sixty-seven thousand two hundred dollars, directed by the act of the 23d of June, 1836, to be deposited with the states in October next. if so deposited, will be subject under the law to be recalled if needed, to de fray existing appropriations; and as it is now evident that the whole, or the principal part of it
, will be wanted for that purpose, it appears most proper that the deposite should be with held. Until the amount can be collected from the banks, treasury notes may be temporarily issued, to be gradually redeemed as it is received.
I am aware that this course may be productive of inconvenience to many of the states. Relying upon the acts of Congress which held out to them the strong probability, if not the certainty, of receiving this instalment, they have in sonie instances adopted measures with which its retention may seriously interfere. That such a condition of things should have occurred is much to be regretted. It is not the least among the unfortunate results of the disasters of the times; and it is for Congress to devise a fit remedy, if there be one.
The money being indispensable to the wants of the treasury, it is difficult to conceive upon what principle of justice or expediency its application to that object can be avoided. To recall any portions of the sums already deposited with the states, would be more inconvenient and less efficient. To burden the country with increased taxation, when there is in fact a large surplus revenue, would be unjust and unwise ; 10 raise moneys by loans under such circumstances, and thus to commence a new national debt, would scarcely be sanctioned by the American people.
The plan proposed will be adequate to all our fiscal operations during the remainder of the year. Should it be adopted, the treasury, aided by the ample resources of the country, will be able to discharge, punctually, every pecuniary obligation. For the future, all that is needed will be that caution and forbearance in appropriations which the diminution of the revenue re. quires, and which the complete accomplishment and great forwardness of many expensive national undertakings renders equally consistent with prudence and patriotic liberality.
The preceding suggestions and recommendations are submitted, in the belief that their adoption by Congress will enable the executive department to conduct our fiscal concerns with success, so far as their manage ment has been committed to it. Whilst the objects and the means proposed to attain them are within its constitutional powers and appropriate duties
, they will
, at the same time, it is hoped, by their necessary operation, afford essential aid in the transaction of individual concerns, and thus yield relief to the people at large, in a form adapted to the nature of our government Those ivho look to the action of this government for specific aid to the citizen to relieve embarrassments arising from losses by revulsions in commerce and credit, lose sight of the ends for which it was created, and the powers with which it is clothed. It was established to give security to us all, in our lawful and honorable pursuits
, under the lasting safeguard of republican institutions. It was not intended to confer special favors on individuals, or on any classes of them; to create systems of agriculture, manufactures, or trade; or to engage in them, either separately or in connection with individual citizens or organized associations. If its operations were to be directed for the benefit of any une class, equivalent favors must in justice be extended to the rest ; and ihe attempt to bestow such favors with an equal hand, or even to select those who should most deserve them, would never be successful.
All communities are apt to look to government for too much. Even in our own country, where its powers and duties are so strictly limited, we are prone to do so, especially at periods of sudden embarrassment and distress. But this ought not to be. The framers of our excellent constitution, and the people who approved it with calm and sagacious deliberation, acted at the time on a sounder principle. They wisely judged that the less government interferes with private pursuits, the better for the general prosperity. It is not its legitimate object to make men rich, or to repair, by direct grants of money or legislation in favor of particular pursuits, losses not incurred in the public service. This would be substantially to use the property of some for the benefit of others. But its real duty—that duty, the performance of which makes a good government the most precious of human blessings—is to enact and enforce a system of general laws commensurate with, but not exceeding, the objects of its establishment, and to leave every citizen and every interest to reap, under its benign protection, the reward of virtue, industry, and prudence.
I cannot doubt that on this, as on all similar occasions, the federal government will find its agency most conducive to the security and happiness of the people, when limited to the exercise of its conceded powers. In never assuming, even for a well-meant object, such powers as were not de. signed to be conferred upon it, we shall, in reality, do most for the general welfare. To avoid every unnecessary interference with the pursuits of the citizen, will result in more benefit than to adopt measures wbich could only assist limited interests, and are eagerly, but perhaps naturally, sought for, under the pressure of temporary circumstances. " If, therefore, I refrain from suggesting to Congress any specific plan for regulating the exchanges of the country, relieving mercantile embarrassments, or interfering with the ordinary operations of foreign or domestic commerce, it is from a conviction that such measures are not within the constitutional province of the general government, and that their adoption would not promote the real and permanent welfare of those they might be designed to aid.
The difficulties and distresses of the times, though unquestionably great, are limited in their extent, and cannot be regarded as affecting the permanent prosperity of the nation. Arising, in a great degree, from the transactions of foreign and domestic commerce, it is upon them that they have chiefly fallen. The great agricultural interest has, in many parts of the country, suffered comparatively little; and, as if Providence intended to display the munificence of its goodness at the moment of our greatest need, and in direct contrast to the evils occasioned by the waywardness of man, we have been blessed throughout our extended territory with a season of general health and of uncommon fruitfulness. The proceeds of our great staple will soon furnish the means of liquidating debts at home and abroad, and contribute equally to the revival of commercial activity, and the restoration of commercial credit. The banks, established avowedly for its support, deriving their profits from it, and resting under obligations to it which cannot be overlooked, will feel at once the necessity and justice of uniting their energies with those of the mercantile interest.
The suspension of specie payments, at such a time and under such circumstances as we have lately witnessed, could not be other than a tempo. rary measure; and we can scarcely err in believing that the period must soon arrive when all that are solvent will redeem their issues in gold and silver. Dealings abroad naturally depend on resources and prosperity at
home. If the debt of our merchants bas accumulated, or their credit is impaired, these are fluctuations always incident to extensive or extravagant mercantile transactions. But the ultimate security of such obligations does not admit of question. They are guarantied by the resources of a country, the fruits of whose industry afford abundant means of ample liquidation, and by the evident interest of every merchant to sustain a credit hitherto high, by promptly applying these means for its preservation.
I deeply regret that events have occurred which require me to ask your consideration of such serious topics. I could have wished that, in making my first communication to the assembled representatives of my country, I had nothing to dwell upon but the history of our unalloyed prosperity. Since it is otherwise, we can only feel more deeply the responsibility of the respective trusts that have been confided to us, and under the pressure of difficulties, unite in invoking the guidance and aid of the Supreme Ruler of nations, and in laboring with zealous resolution to overcome the difficulties by which we are environed.
It is, under such circumstances, a high gratification to know, by long experience, that we act for a people to whom the truth, however unpromising, can always be spoken with safety; for the trial of whose patriotism no emergency is too severe, and who are sure never to desert a public function ary honestly laboring for the public good. It seems just that they should receive, without delay, any aid in their embarrassments which your deliberations can afford. Coming directly from the midst of them, and knowing the course of events in every section of our country, from you may best be learned as well the extent and nature of these embarrassments, as the most desirable measure of relief.
I am aware, however, that it is not proper to detain you at present, any longer than may be demanded by the special objects for which you are convened. To them, therefore, I have confined my communication; and be lieving it would not be our own wish to extend your deliberations beyond them, 1 reserve till the usual period of your annual meeting, that general information of the state of the Union which the constitution requires me to give.
FIRST ANNUAL MESSAGE.
DECEMBER 4, 1837.
Fellor Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives :
We have reason to renew the expression of our devout gratitude to the Giver of all good for his benign protection. Our country presents on every side the evidences of that continued favor under whose auspices it has gradually risen from a few feeble and dependent colonies to a prosperous and powerful confederacy. We are blessed with domestic tranquillity and all the elements of national prosperity. The pestilence which, invading for a time some flourishing portions of our Union, interrupted the general prevalence of unusual health, has happily been limited in extent and arrested in its fatal career. The industry and prudence of our citizens are gradually relieving them from the pecuniary embarrassments under which portions of them have labored; judicious legislation and the natural and
boundless resources of the country have afforded wise and timely aid to private enterprise; and the activity always characteristic of our people has already in a great degree resumed its usual and profitable channels.
The condition of our foreign relations has not materially changed since the last annual message of my predecessor. We remain at peace with all nations; and no effort on my part, consistent with the preservation of our rights and the honor of our country, shall be spared to maintain a position so consonant to our institutions. We have faithfully sustained the foreign policy with which the United States, under the guidance of their first President, took their stand in the family of nations,-that of regulating their intercourse with other powers by the approved principles of private life; asking and according equal rights and equal privileges; rendering and demanding justice in all cases; advancing their own and discussing the pretensions of others, with candor, directness and sincerity; appealing at all times to reason, but never yielding to force, nor seeking to acquire anything for themselves by its exercise.
A rigid adherence to this policy has left this government with scarcely a claim upon its justice for injuries arising from acts committed by its authority. The most imposing and perplexing of those of the United States upon foreign governments for aggressions upon our citizens, were disposed of by my predecessor. Independently of the benefits conferred upon our citizens by restoring to the mercantile community so many millions of which they had been wrongfully divested, a great service was also rendered to his country by the satisfactory adjustment of so many ancient and irritating subjects of contention ; and it reflects no ordinary credit on his successful administration of public affairs, that this great object was accomplished without compromising, on any occasion, either the honor or the peace of the nation.
With European powers, no new subjects of difficulty have arisen; and those which were under discussion, although not terminated, do not present a more unfavorable aspect for the future preservation of that good understanding which it has ever been our desire to cultivate.
Of pending questions, the most important is that which exists with the government of Great Britain, in respect to our northeastern boundary. It is with unfeigned regret that the people of the United States must look back upon the abortive efforts made by the executive, for a period of more than half a century, to determine what no nation should suffer long to remain in dispute, the true line which divides its possessions from those of other powers. The nature of the settlements on the borders of the United States, and of the neighboring territory, was for a season such, that this perhaps was not indispensable to a faithful performance of the duties of the federal government.
Time has, however, changed this state of things, and has brought about a condition of affairs in which the true interests of both countries imperatively require that this question should be put at rest. It is not to be disguised that, with full confidence often expressed, in the desire of the British government to terminale it, we are apparently as far from its adjustment as we were at the time of signing the treaty of peace in 1783. The sole result of long-pending negotiations, and a perplexing arbitration, appears to be a conviction, on its part, that a conventional line must be adopted, from the impossibility of ascertaining the true one according to the description contained in that treaty. Without coinciding in this opinion, which is not thought to be well founded, my predecessor gave the strongest proof of the
earnest desire of the United States to terminate satisfactorily this dispute
, by proposing the substitution of a conventional line, if the consent of the states interested in the question could be oblained.
To this proposition no answer has yet been received. The attention of the British government, however, has been earnestly invited to the subject
, and its reply cannot, I am confident, be much longer delayed. The general relations between Great Britain and the United States are of the most friendly character, and I am well satisfied of the sincere disposition of iba government to maintain them upon the present footing. This disposition has also, I am persuaded, become more general with the people of England than at any previous period. It is scarcely necessary to say 10 you, how cordially it is reciprocated by the government and the people of the United States. The conviction which must be common to all of the injurious consequences that result from keeping open this irritating question, and the certainty that its final settlement cannot be much longer deferred, will
, I trust, lead to an early and satisfactory adjustment. At your last session laid before you the recent communications between the two governments, and between this government and that of the state of Maine, in whose solicitude concerning a subject in which she has so deep an interest, every portion of the Union participates.
The feelings produced by a temporary interruption of those harmonious relations between France and the United States which are due as well to the recollection of former times, as to a correct appreciation of existing interests, have been happily succeeded by a cordial disposition on both sides to cultivate an active friendship in their future intercourse. The opinion, undoubtedly correct, and steadily entertained by us, that the commercial relations at present existing between the two countries are susceptible of great and reciprocally beneficial improvements, is obviously gaining ground in France; and I am assured of the disposition of that government to favor the accomplishment of such an object. This disposition shall be met in a proper spirit on our part. The few and comparatively unimportant ques. tions that remain to be adjusted between us can, I have no doubt, be settled with entire satisfaction and without difficulty.
Between Russia and the United States, sentiments of good-will continue to be mutually cherished. Our minister, recently accredited to that court, has been received with a frankness and cordiality, and with evidences of respect for his country, which leave us no room to doubt the preservation in future of those amicable and liberal relations which have so long and so uninterruptedly existed between the two countries. On the few subjects under discussion between us, an early and just decision is confidently anticipated. A correspondence has been opened with the government of Austria
, for the establishment of diplomatic relations, in conformity with the wishes of Congress, as indicated by an appropriation act of the session of 1837, and arrangements made for the purpose, which will be duly carried into effect.
With Austria and Prussia, and with the states of the German Empire, now.composing with the latter the Commercial League, our political rela: tions are of the most friendly character, while our commercial intercourse is gradually extending, with benefit to all who are engaged in it.
Civil war yet rages in Spain, producing intense suffering to its own peo ple, and to other nations inconvenience and regret. Our citizens who have claims upon that country will be prejudiced for a time by the condition of