« PreviousContinue »
the American sufferers, would have arrested the cruel career opened by its example. This was unhappily not the case.
In violation both of consistency and of humanity, American officers and noncommissioned officers, in double the number of the British soldiers confined here, were ordered into close confinement, with formal notice, that in the event of a retaliation for the death which might be inflicted on the prisoners of war sent to Great Britain for trial, the officers so confined would be put to death also. It was notified at the same time, that the commanders of the British fleets and armies on our coasts are instructed, in the same event, to proceed with a destructive severity against our towns and their inhabitants.
That no doubt might be left with the enemy of our adherence to the retaliatory resort imposed on us, a correspondent number of British officers, prisoners of war in our hands, were immediately put into close confinement, to abide the fate of those confined by the enemy; and the British government has been apprized of the determination of this government, to retaliate any other proceedings against us contrary to ihe legitimate modes of warfare.
It is as fortunate for the United States that they have it in their power to meet the enemy in this deplorable contest, as it is honourable to them, that they do not join in it but under the most imperious obligations, and with the humane purpose of effectuating a return to the establish. ed usages of war.
The views of the French government on the subjects which have been so long committed to negotiation, have received no elucidation since the close of your late ses. sion. The minister plenipotentiary of the United States at Paris had not been enabled, by proper opportunities, to press the objects of his mission, as prescribed by his instructions.
The militia being always to be regarded as the great bulwark of defence and security for free states, and the constitution having wisely committed to the national authority the use of that force, as the best provision against an unsafe military establishment, as well as a resource peculiarly adapted to a country having the extent and the exposure of the United States, I recommend to Congress a VOL. IV.
revision of the militia laws for the purpose of securing, more effectually, the services of all detachments called into the employment and placed under the government of the United States.
It will deserve the consideration of Congress also, whether, among other improvements in the militia laws, justice does not require a regulation, under due precautions, for defraying the expense incident to the first assembling as well as the subsequent movements of detachments called into the national service.
To give to our vessels of war, publick and private, the requisite advantage in their cruises, it is of much importance that they should have, both for themselves and their prizes, the 'ise of the ports and markets of friendly powers. With this view, I recommend to Congress the expediency of such legal provisions as may supply the defects, or remove the doubts of the executive authority to allow to the cruisers of other powers, at war with enemies of the United States, such use of the American ports as may correspond with the privileges allowed by such powers to American cruisers.
During the year ending on the 30th September last, the receipts into the treasury have exceeded ihirty-seven millions and a half of dollars, of which near twenty-four millions were the produce of loans. After meeting all the demands for the publick service, there remained in the treasury on that day near seven millions of dollars. Under the authority contained in the act of the 2d of August last, for borrowing seven millions and a half of dollars, that sum has been obtained on terms more favourable to the United States than those of the preceding loan made during the present year. Further sums to a considerable amount will be necessary to be obtained in the same way during the ensuing year'; and from the increased capital of the country, from the fidelity with which the publick engagements have been kept, and the publick credit maintained, it may be expected on good grounds that the necessary pecuniary supplies will not be wanting.
The expenses of the current year, from the multiplied operations falling within it, have necessarily been extensive. But on a just estimate of the campaign, in which the mass of them has been incurred, the cost will not be found disproportionate to the advantages which have been gain
ed. The campaign has indeed, in its latter stages in one quarter, been less favourable than was expected, but in addition to the importance of our naval success, the progress of the campaign has been filled with incidents bighly honourable to the American arms.
The attacks of the enemy on Craney island, on fort Meigs, on Sackett's harbour, and on Sandusky, have been vigorously and successfully repulsed; nor have they in any case succeeded on either frontier, excepting when directed against the peaceable dwellings of individuals, or villages unprepared or undefended.
On the other hand the movements of the American army have been followed by the reduction of York, and of forts George, Erie, and Malden; by the recovery of Detroit and the extinction of the Indian war in the west; and by the occupancy or command of a large portion of Upper Canada. Battles have also been fought on the borders of the St. Lawrence, which, though not accomplishing their entire objects, reflect honour on the discipline and prowess of our soldiery, the best auguries of eventual victory. In the same scale are to be placed the late successes in the south, over one of the most powerful, which had become one of the most hostile also, of the Indian tribes.
It would be improper to close this communication without expressing a thankfulness, in which all ought to unite, for the numerous blessings with which our beloved country continues to be favoured; for the abundance which overspreads our land, and the prevailing health of its inhabitants ; for the preservation of our internal tranquillity, and the stability of our free institutions; and above all for the light of divine truth, and the protection of every man's conscience in the enjoyment of it. And although among our blessings we cannot number an exemption from the evils of war; yet these will never be regarded as the greatest of evils, by the friends of liberty and of the rights of nations. Our country has before preferred them to the degraded condition which was the alternative, when the sword was drawn in the cause which gave birth to our national independence ; and none who contemplate the magnitude, and feel the value of that glorious event, will shrink from a struggle to maintain the
high and happy ground on which it placed the American people.
With all good citizens, the justice and necessity of resisting wrongs and usurpations no longer to be borne, will sufficiently outweigh the privations and sacrifices inseparable from a state of war. But it is a reflection, moreover, peculiarly consoling, that whilst wars are gene. rally aggravated by their baneful effects on the internal improvements and permanent prosperity of the nations engaged in them, such is the favoured situation of the United States, that the calamities of the contest into which they have been compelled to enter, are mitigated by improvements and advantages of which the contest itself is the source.
If the war has increased the interruptions of our commerce, it has at the same time cherished and multiplied our manufactures, so as to make us independent of all other countries for the more essential branches, for which we ought to be dependent on none; and is even rapidly giving them an extent which will create additional staples in our future intercourse with foreign markets.
If much treasure has been expended, no inconsiderable portion of it has been applied to objects durable in their valuc, and necessary to our permanent safety.
If the war has exposed us to increased spoliations on the ccean, and to predatory incursions on the land, it has de veloped the national means of retaliating the former, and of providing protection against the latter; demonstrating to all, that every blow aimed at our maritime independence is an impulse accelerating the growth of our mari.
By diffusing through the mass of the nation the elements of military discipline and instruction, by augmenting and distributing warlike preparations, applicable to future use, by evincing the zeal and valour with which they will be employed, and the cheerfulness with which every neces. sary burden will be borne; a greater respect for our rights and a longer duration of our future peace, are pro. mised, than could be expected without these proofs of the national character and resources.
The war has proved, moreover, that our free governa ment, like other free governments, though slow in its
early movements, acquires in its progress a force proportioned to its freedom; and that the union of these States, the guardian of the freedom and safety of all and of each, is strengthened by every occasion that puts it to the test.
In fine, the war, with all its vicissitudes, is illustrating the capacity and the destiny of the United States to be a great, a flourishing, and a powerful nation; worthy of the friendship which it is disposed to cultivate with all others; and authorized, by its own example, to require from allan observance of the laws of justice and reciprocity. Beyond these their claims have never extended; and in contending for these, we behold a subject for our congratulations, in the daily testimonies of increasing harmony throughout the nation, and may humbly repose our trust in the smiles of heaven on so righteous a cause.
FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
GRESS. Dec. 9, 1813.
The tendency of our commercial and navigation laws in their present state, to favour the enemy, and thereby prolong the war, is more and more developed by experience. Supplies of the most essential kinds find their way, not only to British ports and British armies at a distance, but the armies in our neighbourhood, with which our own are contending, derive from our ports and outlets, a subsistence attainable with difficulty, if at all, from other sources. Even the fleets and troops infesting our coasts and waters, are, by like supplies, accommodated and encouraged in their predatory and incursive warfare.
Abuses having a like tendency take place in our import trade. British fabricks and products find their way into our ports, under the name and from the ports of othe: