Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

danger, must afford important commercial advantages to that harbor, and add greatly to its value as a naval station. The accurate survey of George's shoals, off the coast of Massachusetts, lately completed, will render comparatively safe a navigation hitherto considered dangerous.

Considerable additions have been made to the number of captains, commanders, lieutenants, surgeons and assistant surgeons in the navy. These additions were rendered necessary, by the increased number of vessels put in commission, to answer the exigencies of our growing commerce.

Your attention is respectfully invited to the various suggestions of the secretary, for the improvement of the naval service.

The report of the postmaster-general exhibits the progress and condition of the mail service. The operations of the post-office department constirute one of the most active elements of our national prosperity, and it is gratifying to observe with what vigor they are conducted. The mail routes of the United Stales cover an extent of about one hundred and forty-two thousand eight hundred and se ty-seven miles, having been increased about thirty-seven thousand one hundred and three miles within the last two years. The annual mail transportation on these routes is about thirtysix millions two hundred and twenty-eight thousand nine hundred and sixtytwo miles, having been increased about ten millions three hundred and fiftynine thousand four hundred and seventy-six miles within the same period. The number of post-offices has also been increased from ten thousand seven hundred and seventy, to twelve thousand and ninety-nine, very few of which receive the mails less than once a week, and a large portion of them daily. Contractors and postmasters in general are represented as attending to their duties with most commendable zeal and fidelity. The revenue of the department within the year ending on the 30th of June last, was four millions one hundred and thirty-seven thousand and fifty-six dollars, fifty-nine cents; and its liabilities accruing within the same time, were three millions three hundred and eighty thousand eight hundred and forty-seven dollars and seventy five cents. The increase of revenue over that of the preceding year, was seven hundred and eighty thousand one hundred and sixty-six dollars and forty-one cents. For many interesting details, I refer you to the report of the postmaster-general, with the accompanying paper. Your particular attention is invited to the necessity of providing a more safe and convenient building for the accommodation of that department.

I lay before Congress copies of reports, submitted in pursuance of a call made by me upon the heads of departments, for such suggestions as their experience might enable them to make, as to what farther legislative provisions may be advantageously adopted to secure the faithful application of public moneys to the objects for which they are appropriated; to prevent their misapplication or embezzlement by those entrusted with the expenditure of them; and generally to increase the security of the government against losses in their disbursement. It is needless to dilate on the importance of providing such new safeguards as are within the power of legislation to promote these ends; and I have little to add to the recommendations submited in the accompanying papers.

By law, the terms of service of our most important collecting and disbursing officers in the civil departments are limited to four years, and when reappointed, their bonds are required to be renewed. The safety of the public is much increased by this feature of the law, and there can be no doubt that its application to all officers entrusted with the collection or dis

bursement of the public money, whatever may be the tenure of their offices, would be equally beneficial. I therefore recommend, in addition to such of the suggestions presented by the heads of the departments as you may think useful, a general provision that all officers of the army or navy, or in the civil department, entrusted with the receipt or payment of the public money, and whose term of service is either unlimited or for a longer time than four years, be required to give bonds, with good and sufficient securities, at the expiration of every such period.

A change in the period of terminating the fiscal year, from the first of October to the first of April, has been frequently recommended, and appears to be desirable.

The distressing casualties in steamboats, which have so frequently happened, during the year, seem to evince the necessity of attempting to prevent them by means of severe provisions connected with their customhouse papers. This subject was submitted to the attention of Congress by the secretary of the treasury in his last annual report, and will be again noticed at the present session, with additional details. It will doubiless receive that early and careful consideration which its pressing importance appears to require.

Your attention has heretofore been frequently called to the affairs of the District of Columbia, and I should not again ask it, did not their entire dependence on Congress, give them a constant claim upon its notice. Separated by the constitution from the rest of the Union, limited in extent, and aided by no legislature of its own, it would seem to be a spot where a wise and uniform system of local government might have been easily adopted.

This district, however, unfortunately, has been left to linger behind the rest of the Union; its codes, civil and criminal, are not only very defective, but full of obsolete or inconvenient provisions; being formed of portions of two states, discrepancies in the laws prevail in different parts of the territory, small as it is; and although it was selected as the seat of the general government, the site of its public edifices, the depositary of its archives, and the residence of officers entrusted with large amounts of public property, and the management of public business, yet it has never been subjected to, or received, that special and comprehensive legislation which these circumstances peculiarly demand.

I am well aware of the various subjects of greater magnitude and immediate interest, that press themselves on the consideration of Congress; but I believe there is not one that appeals more directly to its justice, than a liberal and even generous attention to the interests of the District of Columbia, and a thorough and careful revision of its local ernment.

goy.

SECOND ANNUAL MESSAGE.

DECEMBER 4, 1838.

Fellow Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives :

I CONGRATULATE you on the favorable circumstances in the condition of our country, under which you reassemble for the performance of your

official duties. Though the anticipations of an abundant harvest have not everywhere been realized, yet, on the whole, the labors of the husbandman are rewarded with a bountiful return; industry prospers in its various channels of business and enterprise; general health again prevails through our vast diversity of climate; nothing threatens from abroad the continuance of external peace; nor has anything at home impaired the strength of those fraternal and domestic ties which constitute the only guaranty to the success and permanency of our happy Union, and which, formed in the hour of peril, have hitherto been honorably sustained through every vicissitude in our national affairs. These blessings, which evince the care and beneficence of Providence, call for our devout and fervent gratitude

We have not less reason to be grateful for other bounties bestowed by the same munificent hand, and more exclusively our own.

The present year closes the first half century of our federal institutions; and our system, differing from all others in the acknowledged practical and unlimited operation which it has for so long a period given to the sovereignty of the people, has now been fully tested by experience.

The constitution devised by our forefathers as the framework and bond of that system, then untried, has become a settled form of governinent; not only preserving and protecting the great principles upon which it was founded, but wonderfully promoting individual happiness and private interests. Though subject to change and entire revocation, whenever deemed inadequate to all these purposes. yet such is the wisdom of its construction, and so stable has been the public sentiment, that it remains unaltered, except in matters of detail, comparatively unimportant. It has proved amply sufficient for the various emergencies incident to our condition as a nation. A formidable foreign war; agitating collisions between domestic, and in some respects rival, sovereignties; temptations to interfere in the intestine commotions of neighboring countries; the dangerous influences that arise in periods of excessive prosperity; and the anti-republican tendencies of associated wealth,—these, with other trials not less formidable, have all been encountered, and thus far successfully resisted.

It was reserved for the American Union to test the advantages of a government entirely dependent on the continual exercise of the popular will; and our experience has shown that it is as beneficent in practice as it is just in theory. Each successive change made in our local institutions has contributed to extend the right of suffrage, has increased the direct influence of the mass of the community, given greater freedom to individual exertion, and restricted more and more the powers of government; yet the intelligence, prudence and patriotism of the people, have kept pace with the augmented responsibility. In no country has education been so widely diffused. Domes. tic peace has nowhere so largely reigned. The close bonds of social intercourse have in no instance prevailed with such harmony over a space so vast. All forms of religion have united, for the first time, to diffuse charity and piety, because, for the first time in the history of nations, all have been totally untranimelled, and absolutely free. The deepest recesses of the wilderness have been penetrated; yet, instead of the rudeness in the social condition consequent upon such adventures elsewhere, numerous communities have sprung up, already unrivalled in prosperity, general intelligence, internal tranquillity, and the wisdom of their political institutions. Internal improvements, the fruit of individual enterprise, fostered by the protection of the

states, has added new links to the confederation, and fresh rewards to provident industry. Doubtful questions of domestic policy have been quietly, settled by mutual forbearance; and agriculture, commerce, and manufactures, minister to each other. Taxation and public debt, the burdens which bear so heavily upon all other countries, have pressed with comparative lightness upon us. Without one entangling alliance, our friendship is prized by every nation; and the rights of our citizens are everywhere respected, because they are known to be guarded by a united, sensitive, and watchful people.

To this practical operation of our institutions, so evident and successful, we owe that increased attachment to them which is among the most cheering exhibitions of popular sentiment, and will prove their best security, in time to come, against foreign or domestic assault.

This review of the results of our institutions, for half a century, without exciting a spirit of vain exultation, should serve to impress upon us the great principles from which they have sprung; constant and direct supervision by the people over every public measure; strict forbearance on the part of the government from exercising any doubtful or disputed powers; and a constant abstinence from all interference with concerns which properly belong, and are best left to state regulations and individual enterprise.

Full information of the state of our foreign affairs having been recently, on different occasions, submitted to Congress, I deem it necessary now to bring to your notice such events as have subsequently occurred, or are of such importance as to require particular attention.

The most amicable dispositions continue to be exhibited by all the nations with whom the government and citizens of the United States have an habitual intercourse. At the date of my last annual message, Mexico was the only nation which could not be included in so gratifying a reference to our foreign relations.

I am happy to be now able to inform you that an advance has been made toward the adjustment of our difficulties with that republic, and the restora. tion of the customary good-feeling between the two nations. This important change has been effected by conciliatory negotiations that have resulted in the conclusion of a treaty between the iwo governments which, when ratified, will refer to the arbitrament of a friendly power all the subjects of controversy between us growing out of injuries to individuals. There is, at present, also, reason to believe that an equitable settlement of all disputed points will be attained without farther difficulty or unnecessary delay, and thus authorize the free resumption of diplomatic intercourse with our

With respect to the northeastern boundary of the United States, no official correspondence between this government and that of Great Britain has passed since that communicated to Congress, toward the close of their last session. The offer to negotiate a convention for the appointment of a joint commission of survey and exploration, I am, however, assured will be met by her majesty's government in a conciliatory and friendly spirit, and instructions to enable the British minister here to conclude such an arrangement will be transmitted to him without needless delay. It is hoped and expected that those instructions will be of a liberal character, and that this negotiation, if successful, will prove to be an important step toward the satisfactory and final adjustment of the controversy.

I had hoped that the respect for the laws and regard for the peace and

sister republic.

honor of their own country, which has ever characterized the citizens of the United States, would have prevented any portion of them from using any means to promote insurrection in the territory of a power with which we are at peace, and with which the United States are desirous of main. taining the most friendly relations. I regret deeply, however, to be obliged to inform you that this has not been the case. Information has been given to me, derived from official and other sources, that many citizens of the United States have associated together to make hostile incursions from our territory into Canada, and to aid and abet insurrection there, in violation of the obligations and laws of the United States, and in open disregard of their own duties as citizens. This information has been in part confirmed, by a hostile invasion actually made by citizens of the United States, in conjunction with Canadians and others, and accompanied by a forcible seizure of the property of our citizens, and an application thereof to the prosecution of military operations against the authorities and people of Canada.

The results of these criminal assaults upon the peace and order of a neighboring country have been, as was to be expected, fatally destructive to the misguided or deluded persons engaged in them, and highly injurious to those in whose behalf they are professed to have been undertaken. The authorities in Canada, from intelligence received of such intended movements among our citizens, have felt themselves obliged to take precautionary measures against them, have actually embodied the militia, and assumed an attitude to repel an invasion to which they believed the colonies were exposed from the United States. A state of feeling on both sides of the frontier had thus been produced, which called for prompt and vigorous interference. If an insurrection existed in Canada, the amicable dispositions of the United States toward Great Britain, as well as their duty to themselves, would lead them to maintain a strict neutrality, and to restrain their citizens from all violations of the laws which have been passed for its enforcement. But this government recognises a still higher obligation to repress all attempts on the part of its citizens to disturb the peace of a country where order prevails, or has been re-established. Depredations by our citizens upon nations at peace with the United States, or combinations for committing them, have at all times been regarded by the American government and people with the greatest abhorrence. Military incursions by our citi. zens into countries so situated, and the commission of acts of violence on the members thereof, in order to effect a change in its government, or under any pretext whatever, have, from the commencement of our government, been held equally criminal on the part of those engaged in them, and as much deserving punishment as would be the disturbance of the public peace by the perpetration of similar acts within our own territory.

By no country or persons have these invaluable principles of international law — principles, the strict observance of which is so indispensable to the preservation of social order in the world - been more earnestly cherished or sacredly respected than by those great and good men who first declared, and finally established, the independence of our own country. They promulgated and maintained them at an early and critical period in our history; they were subsequently embodied in legislative enactments of highly penal cha: racter, the faithful enforcement of which has hitherto been, and will, I trust, always continue to be, regarded as a duty inseparably associated with the maintenance of our national honor. That the people of the United States should feel an interest in the spread of political institutions as free as they

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »