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teers made by an act of the last session. The recompense for the service required in this case is still less attractive than in the other; and although patriotism alone has sent into the field some valuable corps of that description, those alone who can afford the sacrifice can be reasonably expected to yield to that impulse.
It will merit consideration, also, whether, as auxiliary to the security of our frontiers, corps may not be advantageously organized, with a restriction of their services to particular districts convenient to them; and whether the local and occasional services of mariners and others in the seaport towns, under a similar organization, would not be a provident addition to the means of their defence.
I recommend a provision for an increase of the general officers of the army, the deficiency of which has been illustrated by the number and dis tance of separate commands, which the course of the war and the advantage of the service have required.
And I cannot press too strongly on the earliest attention of the legislature the importance of the re-organization of the staff establishment, with a view to render more distinct and definite the relations and responsibilities of its several departments. That there is room for improvements which will materially promote both economy and success in what appertains to the army and the war, is equally inculcated by the examples of other countries and by the experience of our own.
A revision of the militia laws, for the purpose of rendering them more systematic and better adapting them to emergencies of the war, is at this time particularly desirable.
Of the additional ships authorized to be fitted for service, two will be shortly ready to sail, a third is under repair, and delay will be avoided in the repair of the residue. Of the appropriations for the purchase of materials for ship building the greater part has been applied to that object, and the purchase will be continued with the balance.
The enterprising spirit which has characterized our naval force and its success, both in restraining insults and depredations on our coasts and in reprisals on the enemy, will not fail to recommend an enlargement of it.
There being reason to believe that the act prohibiting the acceptance of British licenses is not a sufficient guard against the use of them, for purposes favorable to the interests and views of the enemy, farther provisions on that subject are highly important. Nor is it less so, that penal enactments should be provided for cases of corrupt and perfidious intercourse with the enemy, not amounting to treason nor yet embraced by any statutory provisions.
A considerable number of American vessels which were in England when the revocation of the orders in council took place, were laden with British manufactures under an erroneous impression that the non-importation act would immediately cease to operate, and have arrived in the United States. It did not appear proper to exercise, on unforeseen cases of such magnitude, the ordinary powers vested in the treasury department to mitigate forfeitures, without previously affording to Congress an opportunity of making on the subject such provisions as they may think proper. In their decision they will doubtless equally consult what is due to equitable considerations and to the public interest.
The receipts into the treasury during the year ending on the 30th of September last, have exceeded sixteen millions and a half of dollars, which have been sufficient to defray all the demands on the treasury to that day,
including a necessary reimbursement of near three millions of the principal of the public debt. In these receipts is included a sum of near five millions eight hundred and fifty thousand dollars, received on account of the loans authorized by the acts of the last session; the whole sum actually obtained on loans amounts to eleven millions of dollars, the residue of which, being receivable subsequent to the 30th of September last, will, together with the current revenue, enable us to defray all the expenses of this year.
The duties on the late unexpected importations of British manufactures will render the revenue of the ensuing year more productive than could have been anticipated.
The situation of our country, fellow citizens, is not without its difficulty, though it abounds in animating considerations of which the view here presented of our pecuniary resources in an example. With more than one nation we have serious and unsettled controversies; and with one, powerful in the means and habits of war, we are at war. The spirit and strength of the nation are nevertheless equal to the support of all its rights, and to carry it through all its trials. They can be met in that confidence. Above all, we have the inestimable consolation of knowing that the war in which we are actually engaged is a war neither of ambition nor of vain glory; that it is waged, not in violation of the rights of others but in the maintenance of our own; that it was preceded by a patience without example, under wrongs accumulating without end; and that it was finally not declared until every bope of averting it was extinguished by the transfer of the British sceptre into new hands clinging to former councils, and until declarations were reiterated to the last hour, though the British envoy here, that the hostile edicts against our commercial rights and our maritime independence would not be revoked; nay, that they could not be revoked without violating the obligations of Great Britain to other powers, as well as to her own interests. To have shrunk under such circumstances from manly resistance, would have been a degradation blasting our best and proudest hopes; it would have struck us from the high rank where the virtuous struggles of our fathers had placed us, and have betrayed the magnificent legacy which we hold in trust for future generations. It would have acknowledged, (that on the element which forms three fourths of the globe we inhabit
, and where all independent nations have equal and common rights, the American people were not an independent people, but colonists and vassals
. It was at this moment and with such an alternative that war was chosen. The nation felt the necessity of it, and called for it. The appeal was accordingly made, in a just cause, to the just and all powerful Being who holds in his hand the chain of events and the destiny of nations. It remains only, that faithful to ourselves, entangled in no connections with the views of other powers, and ever ready to accept peace from the hand of justice, we prosecute the war with united counsels and with the ample faculties of the nation, until peace be so obtained, and as the only means, under the divine blessing, of speedily obiaining it.
DECEMBER 12, 1812.
I TRANSMIT to Congress copies of a letter to the secretary of the navy from Captain Decatur of the frigate United States, reporting his combat and
capture of the British frigate Macedonian. Too much praise cannot be bestowed on that officer and his companions on board, for the consummate skill and conspicuous valor by which this trophy has been added to the naval arms of the United States.
I transmit also a letter from Captain Jones, who commanded the sloop of war Wasp, reporting his capture of the British sloop of war Frolic, after a close action, in which other brilliant titles will be seen to the public admiration and praise.
A nation, feeling what it owes to itself and to its citizens, could never abandon to arbitrary violence on the ocean a class of them which give such examples of capacity and courage in defending their rights on that element; examples which ought to impress on the enemy, however brave and power ful, preference of justice and peace to hostility against a country whose prosperous career may be accelerated but cannot be prevented by the assaults made on it.
FEBRUARY 22, 1813.
I Lay before Congress a letter, with accompanying documents, from Captain Bainbridge, now commanding the United States frigate the Constitution, reporting his capture and destruction of the British frigate the Jara. The circumstances and the issue of this combat afford another example of the professional skill and heroic spirit which prevail in our naval service. The signal display of both by Captain Bainbridge, his officers, and crew, command the highest praise.
This being a second instance in which the condition of the captured ship, by rendering it impossible to get her into port, has barred a contemplated reward of successful valor, I recommend to the consideration of Congress the equity and propriety of a general provision, allowing in such cases, both past and future, a fair proportion of the value which would accrue to the captors on the safe arrival and sale of the prize.
FEBRUARY 24, 1813.
To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States :
I Lay before Congress copies of a proclamation of the British lieutenant. governor of the Island of Bermuda, which has appeared under circumstances leaving no doubt of its authenticity. It recites a British order in council of the 26th of October last, providing for the supply of the British West Indies and other colonial possessions, by a trade under special licenses; and is accompanied by a circular instruction to the colonial governors, which confines licensed importations from ports of the United States to the ports of the eastern states exclusively.
The government of Great Britain had already introduced into her commerce during war, a system which, at once violating the rights of other
nations and resting on a mass of perjury and forgery unknown to other times, was making an unfortunate progress in undermining those principles of morality and religion which are the best foundation of national happiness.
The policy now proclaimed to the world introduces into her modes of warfare a system equally distinguished by the deformity of its features and the depravity of its character; having for its object to dissolve the ties of 'allegiance and the sentiments of loyalty in the adversary nation, and to seduce and separate its component parts the one from the other.
The general tendency of these demoralizing and disorganizing contrivances will be reprobated by the civilized and Christian world, and the insulting attempt on the virtue, the honor, the patriotism, and the fidelity of our brethren of the eastern states, will not fail to call forth all their indignation and resentment, and to attach more and more all the states to that happy union and constitution against which such insidious and malignant artifices are directed.
The better to guard, nevertheless, against the effect of individual cupidity and treachery, and to turn the corrupt projects of the enemy against himself
, I recommend to the consideration of Congress the expediency of an effectual prohibition of any trade whatever by citizens or inhabitants of the United States under special licenses, whether relating to persons or ports, and in aid thereof a prohibition of all exportations from the United States in foreign bottoms, few of which are actually employed, whilst multiplying counterfeits of their flags and papers are covering and encouraging the navigation of the enemy.
SPECIAL SESSION. - MESSAGE.
May 25, 1813.
At an early day after the close of the last session of Congress, an offer was formally communicated from his Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Russia, of his mediation, as the common friend of the United States and Great Britain, for the purpose of facilitating a peace between them. The high character of the Emperor Alexander being a satisfactory pledge for the sincerity and impartiality of his offer, it was immediately accepted; and as a farther proof of the disposition on the part of the United States to meet their adversary in honorable experiments for terminating the war, it was determined to avoid intermediate delays, incident to the distance of the parties, by a definitive provision for the contemplated negotiation. Three of our eminent citizens were accordingly commissioned, with the requisite powers to conclude a treaty of peace with persons clothed with like powers on the part of Great Britain. They are authorized also to enter into such conventional regulations of the commerce between the two countries as may be mutually advantageous. The two envoys, who were in the United States at the time of their appointment, have proceeded to join their colleague already at St. Petersburgh.
The envoys have received another commission, authorizing them to conclude with Russia a treaty of commerce, with a view to strengthen the amicable relations and improve the beneficial intercourse between the two countries.
The issue of this friendly interposition of the Russian emperor, and this pacific manifestation on the part of the United States, time only can decide. That the sentiments of Great Britain toward that sovereign will have produced an acceptance of his offered mediation must be presumed. That no adequate motives exist to prefer a continuance of war with the United States to the terms on which they are willing to close it, is certain. The British cabinet also must be sensible, that with respect to the important question of impressment, on which the war so essentially turns, a search for or seizure of British persons or property on board neutral vessels, the high seas, is not a belligerent right derived from the law of nations, and it is obvious that no visit or search, or use of force for any purpose, on board the vessels of one independent power on the high seas, can in war or peace be sanctioned by the laws or authority of another power. It is equally obvious, that for the purpose of preserving to each state its seafaring members, by excluding them from the vessels of the other, the mode heretofore proposed by the United States and now exacted by them as an article of municipal policy, cannot for a moment be compared with the mode practised by Great Britain without a conviction of its title to preference, inasmuch as the latter leaves the discrimination between the mariners of the two nations to officers exposed by unavoidable bias as well as by a defect of evidence to a wrong decision, under circumstances precluding, for the most part, the enforcement of controlling penalties, and where a wrong decision, besides the irreparable violation of the sacred rights of persons, might frustrate the plans and profits of entire voyages; whereas the mode assumed by the United States guards, with studied fairness and efficacy, against errors in such cases, and avoids the effect of casual errors on the safety of navigation and the success of mercantile expeditions.
If the reasonableness of expectations drawn from these considerations could guaranty their fulfilment, a just peace would not be distant. But it becomes the wisdom of the national legislature to keep in mind the true policy, or rather the indispensable obligation, of adapting its measures to the supposition that the only course to that happy event is in the vigorous employment of the resources of war. And painful as the reflection is, this duty is particularly enforced by the spirit and manner in which the war continues to be waged by the enemy, who, uninfluenced by the unvaried examples of humanity set them, are adding to the savage füry of it on one frontier a system of plunder and conflagration on the other, equally forbidden by re spect for national character and by the established rules of civilized warfare
. As an encouragment to perseverance and invigorated exertions to bring the contest to a happy result, I have the satisfaction of being able to appeal to the auspicious progress of our arms both by land and on the water.
In continuation of the brilliant achievements of our infant navy, a signal triumph bas been gained by Captain Lawrence and his companions in the Hornet sloop of war, which destroyed a British sloop of war with a celerity so unexampled, and with a slaughter of the enemy so disproportionate to the loss in the Hornet, as to claim for the conquerors the highest praise, and the full recompense provided by Congress in the preceding cases. Our public ships of war in general, as well as the private armed vessels, have continued also their activity and success against the commerce of the enemy, and by their vigilance and address have greatly frustrated the efforts of the hostile squadrons distributed along our coasts to intercept them in returning into port and resuming their cruises.