« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
grants, consistent with a fair competition between them; but that competition should operate in the first sale to the advantage of the nation rather than of individuals. Great capitalists will derive all the benefit incident to their su perior wealth, under any mode of sale which may be adopted. But if, looking forward to the rise in the value of the public lands, they should have the opportunity of amassing, at a low price, vast bodies in their hands, the profit will accrue to them, and not to the public. They would also have the power, in that degree, to control the emigration and settlement in such a manner as their opinion of their respective interests might dictate. I submit the subject to the consideration of Congress, that such further provision may be made of the sale of the public lands, with a view to the public interest, should any be deemed expedient, as in their judgment may be best adapted to the object.
When we consider the vast extent of territory within the United States, the great amount and value of its productions, the connection of its parts, and other circumstances on which their prosperity and happiness depend, we cannot fail to entertain a high sense of the advantage to be derived from the facility which may be afforded in the intercourse between them, by means of good roads and canals. Never did a country of such vast extent offer equal inducements to improvements of this kind, nor ever were consequences of such magnitude involved in them. As this subject was acted on by Congress at the last session, and there may be a disposition to revive it at present, I have brought it into view for the purpose of communicating my sentiments on a very important circumstance connected with it, with that freedom and candor which a regard for the public interest and a proper respect for Congress require. A difference of opinion has existed from the first formation of our constitution to the present time, among our most enlightened and virtuous citizens, respecting the right of Congress to establish such a system of improvement. Taking into view the trust with which I am now honored, it would be improper after what has passed, that this discussion should be revived with an uncertainty of my opinion respecting the
right. Disregarding early impressions, I have bestowed on the subject all the deliberation which its great impor tance, and a just sense of my duty, required,
and the result is a settled conviction in my mind that Congress do not possess the right. It is not contained in any of the specified powers granted to Congress, nor can I consider it incidental to, or a necessary mean, viewed on the most liberal scale, for carrying into effect any of the powers which are specifically granted. In communicating this result, I cannot resist the obligation which I feel, to suggest to Congress the propriety of recommending to the states an adoption of an amendment to the constitution, which shall give to Congress the right in question. In cases of doubtful construction, especially of such vital interest, it comports with the nature and origin of our republican institutions, and will contribute much to preserve them, to apply to our constituents for an explicit grant of the power. We may confidently rely, that if it appears to their satisfaction that the power is necessary, it will be granted.
In this case, I am happy to observe, that experience has afforded the most ample proof of its utility, and that the benign spirit of conciliation and harmony, which now manifests itself throughout our Union, promises to such a recommendation the most prompt and favorable result. I think proper to suggest, also, in case this measure is adopted, that it be recommended to the states to include in the amendment sought, a right in Congress to institute, likewise, seminaries of learning, for the all-important purpose of diffusing knowledge among our fellowcitizens throughout the United States.
Our manufactures will require the continued atten. tion of Congress. The capital employed in them is con siderable, and the knowledge required in the machinery and fabric of all the most useful manufactures is of great value. Their preservation, which depends on due encouragement, is connected with the high interests of the nation.
Although the progress of the public buildings has been as favorable as circumstances have permitted, it is to be regretted the capitol is not yet in a state to receive you.
l'here is good cause to presume that the two wings, the ɔnly parts as yet commenced, will be prepared for that purpose the next session. The time seems now to have arrived, when this subject may be deemed worthy of the attention of Congress, on a scale adequate to national purposes. The completion of the middle building will be necessary to the convenient accommodation of Congress, of the committees, and various officers belonging to it. It is evident that the other public buildings are altogether insufficient for the accommodation of the several executive departments ; some of whom are much crowded, and even subject to the necessity of obtaining it in private buildings, at some distance from the head of the department, and with inconvenience to the management of the public business. Most nations have taken an interest and a pride in the improvement and ornament of their metropolis, and none were more conspicuous in that respect than the ancient republics. The policy which dictated the establishment of a permanent residence for the national government, and the spirit in which it was commenced and has been prosecuted, show that such improvement was thought worthy the attention of this nation. Its central position, between the northern and southern extremes of our Union, and its approach to the west, at the head of a great navigable river, which interlocks with the western waters, prove the wisdom of the councils which established it.
Nothing appears to be more reasonable and proper, than that convenient accommodation should be provided, on a well-digested plan, for the heads of the several departinents, and for the attorney-general; and it is believed that the public ground in the city, applied to these objects, will be found amply sufficient. I submit this subject to the consideration of Congress, that such pro vision may be made in it, as to them may seem proper.
In contemplating the happy situation of the United States, our attention is drawn, with peculiar interest, to the surviving officers and soldiers of our revolutionary army, who so eminently contributed, by their services, to lay its foundation. Most of those very meritorious citizens have paid the debt of nature and gone to repose. it is oelieved, that among the survivors there are some not provided for by existing laws, who are reduced to indi. gence, and even to real distress. These men have a claim on the gratitude of their country, and it will do honor to their country to provide for them. The lapse of a few years more, and the opportunity will be forever lost ; indeed, so long already has been the interval, that the number to be benefitted by any provision which may be made, will not be great.
It appearing in a satisfactory manner that the revenue arising from imposis and tonnage, and from the sale of public lands, will be fully adequate to the support of the civil government, of the present military and naval establishments, including the annual augmentation of the latter to the extent provided for, to the payment of the interests on the public debt, and to the extinguishment of it at the times authorized, without the aid of the internal taxes, I consider it my duty to recommend to Congress their repeal. To impose taxes when the public exigencies require them, is an obligation of the most sacred character, especially with a free people. The faithful fulfilmentof it is among the highest proofs of their virtue and ca. pacity for self-government. To dispense with taxes, when it may be done with perfect safety, is equally the duty of their representatives. In this instance, we have the satisfaction to know that they are imposed when the demand was imperious, and have been sustained with exemplary fidelity. I have to add, that however gratifying it may be to me, regarding the prosperous and happy condirion of our country, to recommend the repeal of these taxes at this time, I shall, nevertheless, be attentive to events, and should
any future emergency occur, be not less prompt to suggest such measures and burdens as may thien los requisite and proper.