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tion which the duty of my station will permit, or the publick good shall require, to be disclosed; and, in fact, all the papers affecting the negotiation with Great Britain, were laid before the Senate, when the treaty itself was communicated for their consideration and advice.
The course which the debate has taken on the resolution of the House, leads to some observations on the mode of making treaties under the constitution of the United States.
Having been a member of the General Convention, and knowing the principles on which the constitution was formed, I have ever entertained but one opinion on this subject; and from the first establishment of the government to this moment, my conduct has exemplified that opinion, that the power of making treaties is exclusively vested in the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur; and that every treaty so made and promulgated, thenceforward became the law of the land. It is thus that the treaty making power has been understood by foreign nations; and in all the treaties made with them, we have declared, and they have believed, that when ratified by the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate, they became obligatory. In this construction of the constitution, every House of Representatives has here: tofore acquiesced; and until the present time, not a doubt or suspicion has appeared to my knowledge, that this construction was not the true one. Nay, they have more than acquiesced; for till now, without controverting the obligation of such treaties, they have made all the requisite provisions for carrying them into effect.
There is also reason to believe that this construction agrees with the opinions entertained by the state conventions, when they were deliberating on the constitution; especially by those who objected to it, because there was not required in commercial treaties the consent of twothirds of the whole number of the members of the Senate, instead of two-thirds of the Senators present; and because in treaties respecting territorial and certain other rights and claims, the concurrence of three-fourths of the whole number of the members of both Houses respectively was not made necessary.
It is a fact declared by the General Convention, and universally understood, that the constitution of the United States was the result of a spirit of amity and mutual cona cession. And it is well known that under this influence, the smaller states were admitted to an equal representation in the Senate, with the larger states; and that this branch of the government was invested with great powers ; for on the equal participation of those powers the sovereignty and political safety of the smaller states were deemed es. sentially to depend.
If other proofs than these, and the plain letter of the constitution itself, be necessary to ascertain the point under consideration, they may be found in the journals of the General Convention, which I have deposited in the office of the department of state. In those journals it will appear that a proposition was made, “ that no treaty should be binding on the United States which was not ratified by a law; and that the proposition was explicitly rejected.
As, therefore, it is perfectly clear to my understanding, that the assent of the House of Representatives is not ne. cessary to the validity of a treaty; as the treaty with Great Britain exhibits, in itself, all the objects requiring legislative provision, and on these the papers called for can throw no light; and as it is essential to the due administration of the government, that the boundaries fixed by the constitution between the different departments, should be preserved-a just regard to the constitution, and to the duty of my office, under all the circumstances of this case, forbid a compliance with your request.
OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES TO BOTH
HOUSES OF CONGRESS. DEC. 7, 1796.
Fellow citizens of the Senate,
and of the House of Representatives, In recurring to the internal situation of our country, 'since I had last the pleasure to address you, I find ample VOL. II.
reason for a renewed expression of that gratitude to the Ruler of the Universe, which a continued series of prosperity has so often and so justly called forth.
The acts of the last session, which required special arrangements, have been, as far as circumstances would admit; carried into operation.
Measures calculated to ensure a continuance of the friendship of the Indians, and to preserve peace along the extent of our interior frontier, have been digested and adopted. In the framing of these, care has been taken to guard, on the one hand, our advanced settlements from the predatory incursions of those unruly individuals who cannot be restrained by their tribes ; and on the other hand, to protect the rights secured to the Indians by treaty; to draw them nearer to the civilized state; and inspire them with correct conceptions of the power, as well as justice of the government.
The meeting of the deputies from the Creek nation at Colerain, in the state of Georgia, which had for a principal object the purchase of a parcel of their land by that state, broke up without its being accomplished; the nation having, previous to their departure, instructed them against making any sale: the occasion, however, has been improved, to confirm by a new treaty with the Creeks, their pre-existing engagements with the United States ; and to obtain their consent to the establishment of trading houses, and military posts within their boundary ; by means of which, their friendship, and the general peace may be more effectually secured.
The period during the late session at which the appropriation was passed for carrying into effect the treaty of amity, commerce and navigation between the United States and his Britannick majesty, necessarily procrastinated the reception of the posts stipulated to be delivered, beyond the date assigned for that event. As soon, however, as the governour general of Canada could be addressed with propriety on the subject, arrangements were cordially and promptly concluded for their evacuation, and the United States took possession of the principal of "them, comprehending Oswego, Niagara, Detroit, Michellimakinac and Fort Miami, where such repairs and additions have been ordered to be made, as appeared indispensable,
The commissioners appointed on the part of the United States and of Great Britain, to determine which is the river St. Croix mentioned in the treaty of peace of 1783, agreed in the choice of Egbert Benson, Esq. of New York, for the third commissioner. The whole met at St. Andrews, in Passamaquoddy bay, in the beginning of October; and directed surveys to be made of the rivers in dispute ; but deeming it impracticable to have these surveys completed before the next year, they adjourned, to meet in Boston, in August, 1797, for the final decision of the question.
Other commissioners appointed on the part of the United States, agreeably to the seventh article of the treaty with Great Britain, relative to captures and condemnation of vessels and other property, met the commissioners of his Britannick majesty, in London, in August last, when John Trumbull, Esq. was chosen by lot, for the fifth commissioner. In October following, the board were to proceed to business. As yet, there has been no communication of commissioners on the part of Great Britain, to unite with those who have been appointed on the part of the United States, for carrying into effect the sixth article of the treaty.
The treaty with Spain required that the commissioners for running the boundary line between the territory of the United States and his Catholick majesty's provinces of East and West Florida, should meet at the Natchez before the expiration of six months after the exchange of the ratifications, which was effected at Aranjuez, on the twenty-fifth day of April; and the troops of his Catholick majesty occupying any posts within the limits of the United States, were, within the same period to be withdrawn. The commissioner of the United States therefore commenced his journey for the Natchez in September; and troops were ordered to occupy the posts from which the Spanish garrisons should be withdrawn. Information has been recently received of the appointment of a commissioner on the part of his Catholick majesty for running the boundary line; but none of any appointment for the adjustment of the claims of our citizens whose vessels were captured by the armed vessels of Spain.
In pursuance of the act of Congress passed in the last session, for the protection and relief of American seamen, agents were appointed, one to reside in Great Britain.
and the other in the West Indies. The effects of the agency in the West Indies are not yet fully ascertained; but those which have been communicated afford grounds to believe the measure will be beneficial. destined to reside in Great Britain, 'declining to accept the appointment, the business has consequently devolved on the minister of the United States in London, and will command his attention, until a new agent shall be appointed.
After many delays and disappointments, arising out of the European war, the final arrangements for fulfilling the engagements made to the dey and regency of Algiers, will, in all present appearance, be crowned with success; but under great, though inevitable disadvantages, in the pecuniary transactions, occasioned by that war, which will render a further provision necessary. The actual liberation of all our citizens, who were prisoners in Algiers, while it gratifies every feeling heart, is itself an earnest of a satisfactory termination of the
whole negotiation. Measures are in operation for effecting treaties with the regencies of Tunis and Tripoli.
To an active external commerce, the protection of a naval force is indispensable. This is manifest with regard to wars in which a state is itself a party. But besides this, it is in our own experience, that the most sincere neutrality is not a sufficient guard against the depredations of nations at war. To secure respect to a neutral flag, requires a naval force, organized and ready to vindicate it from insult or aggression. This may even prevent the necessity of going to war, by discouraging belligerent powers from committing such violations of the rights of the neutral party, as may, first or last, leave no other option. From the best information I have been able to obtain, it would seem as if our trade to the Mediterranean, without a protecting force, will always be insecure, and our citizens exposed to the calamities from which numbers of them have but just been relieved.
These considerations invite the United States to look to the means, and to set about the gradual creation of a navy. The increasing progress of their navigation proalises them, at no distant period, the requisite supply of scamen; and their means, in other respecis, favour the undertaking. It is an encouragement, likewise, that their