Huntingdon journal. (Huntingdon, Pa.) 1843-1859, December 10, 1850, Image 1

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Being suddently called, in the midst:, of the last
session of Congress, by a painful dispensation of
Divine Providence, to the responsible station which
I now hold! contented myself with such tommuni-
Cations to the Legislature as the exigency of the.
moment seemed to require. The country AVM
shrouded in mourning for the loss of its venerated
Chief Ma,gistrate, and all hearts were penetrated
with grief. Neither the time nor the occasion ap
peared to require or to justify, on my part, any
general expression of political opinions, or any an
nouncement of the principles which womb! govern
me in the discharge of the duties to the perfor
mance of which 1 had been so unexpectedly called.
I trust, therefore that it may not be deemed inap
propriate, if I avail myself of this opportunity of
the re-assembling of Congress to make known my
sentiments, in a general manner, in regard to the
policy which ought to be pursued by the Govern
ment, both in its intercourse with foreign nations,
and in its management and administration of inter
nal affairs.
Nations, like individuals in a stateof nature, are
equal and independent, possessing certain rights,
and owing certain duties to each other, arising from
their necessary and unavoidable relations; which
rights and duties there is no common human au
thority to protect and enforce. Still, they are
rights and duties, binding in morals, in conscience,
and in honor, although there is no tribunal to which
an injured party eau appeal but the disinterested
judgment of mankind, and ultimately the arbitra
ment of the sword.
Among the acknowledged rights of nations is
that which each possesses ofestablishing that form
of government which it may deem most conducive
to the happiness and prosperity of its own citizens;
of changing that form, us circumstances may re
quire; and of managing its internal affitirs accord
ing to its own will. The people of the United
States claim this right for themselves, and they
readily concede it to others. Hence it becomes an
imperative duty not to interfere in the government
of internal policy of others nations; and, although
we may sympathize with the unfortunate or the op
pressed, everywhere, in their struggles for freedom
our principles forbid us from taking any part in
such foreign contests. We make no wars to pro
mote or to prevent successions to thrones; to main
tain any theory of a balance of power; or to sup
press the actual government which any country
chooses to establish for itself. We instigate no re
volutions, nor suffer any hostile military expedi
tions to be fitted out in the United States to invade
tie territory or provinces of a friendly nation. The
great law of morality ought to have a national, as
well as a personal and individual, application. We
should act towards other nations as we wish diem
to act towards its; and justice and conscience should
form the rule of conduct between governments, in
stead of mere power, self-interest, or the desire of
aggrandizement. To maintain a strict neutrality
in foreign wars, to cultivate friendly relations, to
reciprocate every noble and generous act, and to ,
perform punctually and scrupulously every treaty
obligation—these are the ditties which we owe to
other States, and by the performance of which we
best entitle ourselves to like treatment from them;
or if that, in any case, he refused, we can enforce
otte own rights with justice and a clear conscience.
In our domestic policy, the Constitution will be
; and in questions of doubt, I shall look
for as interpretation to the judicial decisions of that
tribunal, which was established to expound it, and
to the imago of the Government, sanctioned by
the acquiescence of the country. I regard all its
provisions as equally binding. In all its parts it
is the will of the people, expressed in the most sol
emn form, and the constituted authorities are but
agents to carry that wilt into effect. Every pow-
er which it has grunted is to he exercised for the
public good ; but no pretence of utility, homiest con
viction, even, of what Might he expedient, can jus
tify the assumption of any power not granted. The
powers conferred upon the Government and their
distribution to the several departments, arc as
clearly expressed in that sacred instrument us the
imperfection of human language will allow; and I ,
deem it my first duty, not to question its wisdom,'
add to its provisions, evade its requirements, or
nullify its cbmtnands.
Ilion you, fellow-citizens, ns the representatives
of the States and the people, is wisely devolved the
legislative power. I shall comply with my duty,
in laying before you, from time to finis, any infor
mation calculated to enable you to discharge your
high and responsible trust, for the benefit of our
sommon constituents.
My opinions will he frankly expressed upon the
leading subjects of legislation; and if, which I do
not anticipate, ant- act should pass the two Houses
of Congress which should appear to me unconsti
tutional, or an encroachment on the just powers of
other departments, or with provisions hastily adop
ted, and likely to produce consequences injurious
and unforseen, I should not shrink from the duty
of returning it to you, with my reasons, fur your
further consideration. Beyond the due perfor
mance of these constitutionall obligations, both toy
respect for the legislature and my sense of propriety
will restrain me from any attempt to control orin
fluenc• your proceedings. With you is the power,
the honor, and the responsibility of the legislation
of the country.
The Government of the United States is a lim
ited Government. It is confined to the exercise of
powers expressly granted, and such others as may
be necessary for carrying those powers into effect ;
and it is at all times an especial duty to guard
against any infringement on the just rights of the
States. Over the objects and subjects intrusted to
Congress, its legislative authority is supreme.—
But here that authority ceases, and every citizen
who truly loves the Constitution, and desires the
continuence of its existence and its blessings, will
resolutely and firmly resist any interference in
those domestic aftitirs which the Constitution has
clearly and unequivocally left to the exclusive au
thority of the States. And every such citizen will
also deprecate useless irritation atnong the several
members °film Union, and all reproach and erimi
nation tending to alienate one portion of the coun
try from another. The beauty of our system of
Govenintent consists, and its safety and durability
must consist, in avoiding mutual collisions, and
encroachments, and in the regular separate action
of all, while each is revolving in its own distinct
The Constitution has made it the duty of the
President to take care that the laws be titithfully
executed. In a Government like ours, in which
all laws are passed by a majotity of the represen
tatives of the people, and these representatives are
chosen for such short periods, that any injurious
or obnoxious law can very soon be repealed, it
would appear unlikely that any great numbers
should lie timnd ready to resist the execution of the
laws. But it must be borne in mind that the coun
try is extensive, that there may he local interests
or prejudices rendering a law odious in ono part
which is not so in another, and that the thought
less and inconsiderate, misled by their passions,
or their imaginations, may be Induced madly to
resist each laws as they disapprove. Such persona
r' s
show recollect char, without law, there can be no
real practical liberty; that, when law is trampled
under foot, tyranny roles, whether it appears in
the form of n military despotism or of popular vio
lence. The law is the only sure protection of the
weak and the only efficient restraint upon the strong.
When impartially and faithfully aministered,. none
is beneath its protection, and none above its con
trol You, gentlemen, and the country may be
snowed; that to the utmost of my ability, and to
the extent of the power vested in me, I shall at all
times, and in all places, take care that the laws be
faithfully excented. In the discharge of this duty
solemnly unposed upon me by the Constitution,
and by my oath of office, I shall shrink from no
responsibility, and shall endeavor to meet events
as they may arise, with firmness, as well as with
prudence and discretion.
The appointing power is one of the most delicate
with which the Executive is invested. I regard it
as a sacred trust, to be exercised with the sole view
of advancing the prosperity and happiness of the
people. It Anil be my effort to elevate the stan
dard of official employment, by selecting for places
of importance individuals fitted for the posts to
which they are assigns, by their know. integrity
talents, and virtues. In so extensive a country,
with so great a population, and where few persons
appointed to office can be known to the appointing
power, mistakes will sometimes unavoidably hap
pen, and unfortunate appointments be made, not
withstanding the greatest care. In such eases, the
power of removal may be properly exercised ; and
neglect of duty or malfeasance in office will be no
more tolerated in individuals appointed by myself
than in those almnae(' by others.
I an Nippy in being ithle to say that no unfavor
able change tn our foreign relations has taken place
since the message at the opening of the last session
of Congress. We are at peace with all nations,
and we enjoy in nn eminent degree the blessings
of that peace, in n pmsperous and growing com
merce, and in all the forms of amicable national
intercourse. The unexampled growth of the coun
try, the present amount of its population ' and its
ample means of self-protection, assure for it the
respect of all nations ; while it is trusted that its
character for justice, and a regard to the rights of
other States, will cause that respect to be readily
and cheerfully paid. .
A convention was negotiated between the United
States nod Great Briton!, in April last, far facili
tating and protecting the const ruction an ship ca
nal between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans ' and
for other purposes. This instrument has since been
ratified by the contracting parties, the exchange
of ratifications has been effectea, and proclamation
thereof has been duly made.
In addition to the stipulations contained in this
convention, two other objects remain to he accom
plished between the contracting powers.
First, the designation and establishment of a free
port nt each end of the canal.
Second, an ngreement fixing the distance from
the shore within which belligerent maritime ope
rations shall not he carried on. On these points
there is little doubt that the two governments will
come to an understanding.
The company of citizens of the 'Coked States
who have aquired front the State of Nicaragua the
privilege of constructing a ship canal between the
two oceans, through the territory of that State,
hare made progress in their preliminary arrange
ments. The treaty between the United States and
Grdat Britain, of the 19th of April last, above re
ferred to, being now in operation, it is to be hoped
that the guaranties which it offers will be sufficient
to secure the completion of the work with all practi
cable expedition. It is obvious that this result
would be indefinitely postponed, if any other than
peaceable measures, for she purpose of harmoni
zing conflicting claims to territory in that quarter,
should be adopted. It will consequently be my
endeavor to cause any further negotiations on the
part of this Government, which may be requisite
for the purpose, to he so conducted as to bring
them to a speedy and successful close.
Some unavoidable delay has occurred, arising
from distance and the difficulty of intercourse be
tween this Government and that of Nicaragua?
butt, as inteligence has just been received of the
appointment of an Envoy Extraordinary and Min
ister Plenipotentiary of that Government to reside
at Washington, whose arrival may soon be ex
pected, it is hoped thud no further impediments
will he experienced in the prompt transaction of
business between the two Governments.
Citizens of the United States have undertaken
the connexion of the two oceans by means of a
railroad across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec,'unde•
grants of the Mexican Government to a citizen of
that Republic. It is understood that a thorough
survey of the coarse of the communication is in
preparation, mud there is every reason to expect
that it trill be prosecuted with characteristic ener
gy, especially when that Government shall have
consented to such stipulations with the government
of the United States as may be necessary to im
part a feeling of security to those who may embark
their property in the enterprise. Negotiations aro
pending for the accomplishment of that object, and
a hope is confidently entertained that, when the
Government of Mexico shall become duly sensible
of the advantages which that country cannot fail
to derive from the work, awl learn that the Gov
ernment of the United States desires that the right
of sovereignty of Mexico in the Isthmus shall re
main unimpaired, the stipulations refibrred to trill
be agreed to wkh alacrity.
By the last advices ti•sun Mexico it would ap
pear, however, that that Government entertains
strong objections to some of the stipulations which
the parties concerned in the project of tho railroad
deem necessary for their protection and •security.
Further consideration, it is to be hoped, or some
modification of terms, may yet reconcile the dif
ferences existing between the two Govermnents
in this respect.
Fresh instructions have recently bee► given to
the Minister of the United States in Mexico, who
is prosecuting the subject with promptitude and
Although the negotiations with Portugal, for
the payment of claims of the citizens of the United
States against the Government, have not yet re
sulted in a formal treaty, yet a propositon made
by the Government of Portugal for the final ad
justment and payment of those claims, has recent
ly been accepted on the part of the United States.
It gives me pleasure to say that Mr. Clay, to
whom the negotiation on the part of the United
States had been entrusted, discharged the duties
of his appointment with ability and discretion, act
ing always within the the instructions of his Gov
It is expected that a regular convention will he
immediately negotiated for carrying the agree
ment between the two Governments into effect.
Tho commisioner appointed under the act of
Congress for carrying into effect the convention
with Brazil, of the 27th of January, 1849, has en
tered upon the performance of the duties imposed
upon him by that net. It is hoped that those duties
may be completed within the time which it pro
senbes. The documents, however, which the im
perial Government, by the third article of conven
tion, stipulates to furnish to the Government of the
United States, have not yet been received. As it
Is presumed that those documents will be essen-
tial for the correct disposition of the claims, it may
become necessary for Congress to extend the pe
riod limited for the duration of the commission.—
The sum stipulated by the 4th article of the con ,
vention to be paid to this Government haS been
The collection in the ports of the United States
of discriminating duties upon the vessels of Chili
and their cargoes has been suspended, pursuant to
the provisions of the act of Congress of the 24th of
May, 1828. It is to be hoped that this measure
will impart a fresh impulse to the commerce be
tween the two counties, which of late, and especi
ally since our acquisition of California, has, to the
mutual advantage of the parties, been much aug
Peruvian guano has become so desirable an ar
ticle to the agricultural interest of the United States
that it is the duty of the Government to employ
all the means properly in its power for the purpose
of causing that article to be imported into the
country at a reasonable price. Nothing will be
omitted on my part towards accomplishing this de
' sirable cud. lam persuaded that in removing any
restraints on this traffic, the Peruvian government
wilt promote its own best interests, while it will
afibnl a proof of a friendly disposition towards this
country, which will be duly appreciated.
The treaty between the United States and His
Majesty the King of the Hawaiian Islands, which
has recently been made public, will it is believed,
have a beneficial effect upon the relations between
the two countries.
The relations between those parts of the Island
of St. Domingo, which were formerly colonies of
Spain and France, respectively, are still in an un
settled condition. The proximity of that Island
to the United States, and the delicate questions in
volved in the existing controversy there render it
desirable that it should be permanently & speedily
adjusted. The interests of humanity and of gene
ral commerce also demand this ; and as intima
tions of the sane sentiment have been received
from other Governments, it is hoped that some
plan may soon be devised to effect the object in a
manner likely to give general satisfaction. The
Government of the United States will not fail, by
the exercise of all proper friendly offices, to do all
in its power to put an end to the destructive war
which has raged between the different parts of the
Island, and to secure to them both the benefits of
peace and commerce.
I refer you to the report of the Secretary of the
Treasury for a detailed statement of the finances.
The total receipts into the Treasury for the vear
ending 30th June last, were forty-seven millions
four hundred twenty-one thousand seven hundred
and forty eight dollars and ninety cents, ($47,421,-
The total expenditures during the same period
were forty three millions two thousand one hun
dred and sixty-eight dollars and ninety cent5(43,002,168
(43,002,168 90.)
The public debt has been reduced, since the last
annual report from the Treasury Department, four
hundred and ninety-five thousand two hundred and
seventy-six dollars and seventy-nine cents, (495,-
276 79.)
By the 10th section of tl et 4 of 28th January,
1847, the proceeds of the sales of the public lands
were pledged for the interest and principal of the
public debt. The great amount of those lands
subsequently granted by Congress for military
bounties, will, it is believed, very nearly supply
the public demand for several years to come, and
but little reliance can therefore be placed ou that
hitherto fruitful source of revenue.
Aside from the permanent annual expenditures,
which have necessarilylargely increased, a portion
of the public debt, amounting to eight million sev
enty-five thousand nine hundred' and eighty-six
dollars and fitly-nine cents, ($8,075,986 59) tenet
be provided for within the next two fiscal years.
It is most desirable that these accruing demands
should be met without resorting to new loans.
All experience has demonstrated the wisdom
and policy of raising a large portion of revenue for
the support of Government from duties on goods
imported. The power to lay these duties is un
questionable, and its chief object, of course, is to
replenish the treasury. But it; in doing this, an
incidental advantage may be gained by encoura
ging the industry of our own citizens, it is our
duty to avail ourselves of that advantage.
A duty laid upon an article which cannot be
produced in this country—such as tea or coffee—
adds to the cost of the article, and is chiefly or
wholly paid by the consumer. But a duty laid
upon an article which may be produced hpre, stim
ulates the skill and industry of our own country to
produce the same article, which is brought into the
market in competition with the foreign article, and
the importer is thus compelled to reduce his price
to that at which the domestic article can be sold,
thereby throwing a part of the duty upon the pro
ducer of the foreign article. The continuance of
this process creates the skill, and invites the capi
sal, which finally enables us to produce the article
much cheaper than it could have been procured
from abroad, thereby benofitting both the produ
cer and the consumer at house. The consequence
of this is, that the artisan, and the agriculturalist,
are brought together, each affords a ready market
for the produce of the other, the whole country be
comes prosperous ; and the ability to produce every
necessary of Mb renders us independent iu war as
well as in peace.
A high iariff can never he permanent, It will
cause dissatisfaction, and will be changed. It ex
cludes competition, and thereby invites the invest
ment of capital in manufactures to such excess,
that when changed it brings distress, bankruptcy,
and ruin, upon all who have been misled by its
faithless protection. What the manufficturer wants
is uniformity and permanency, that he may feel a
confidence that ho is not to be ruined by sudden
changes. But to make a tariff smiths-in and per
manent, it is not only necessary that the law should
not be altered, list that the duty should not fluctu
ate. To ctlbet this, all duties should be specific,
wherever the nature of the article is such as to ad
mit of it. Ad valorem duties fluctuate with the
price, and otter strong temptations to fraud and
perjury. Specific duties, on the contrary, are
equal and uniform in all ports, and at all times,
and oiler a strong inducement to the importer to
bring the best article, as he pays no more duty up
on that, than upon one of inferior quality. I there
fore strongly recommend a modification of the pre
sent tariff, which has prostrated some of our most
important and necessary manufactures, and that
specific duties be imposed sufficient to raise the re
quisite revenue, making such discrimination in th
vor of the industrial pursuits of our owu country as
to encourage home production, without excluding
foreign competition. It is also important that an
unfortunate provision in the present tariff, whirls
imposes a much higher duty upon the raw material
that enters into our manuthetures than upon the
manuthetured article, should be remedied.
The pipers accompanying the report of the Se
cretary of the Treasury, will disclose frauds at
tempted upon the revenue, in variety and amount
so great, as to justify the conclusion that it is im
possible, under any system of ad valorem duties
levied upon the foreign cost or value of tho arti
cles, to secure an honest observance and an effec
tual administration of the laws. The fraudulent
devices to evade the law, which have been (leteetcd
by the vigilance °idle appraisers, Mare no room
to doubt that simile impositions not discovered, to
a large amount, have been successfully practised,
Since the enactment of the law now in force. This
state of things has already had a prejudicial influ
ence upon those engaged in threign commerce.—
It has a tendency to drive the honest trailer from
the business of importing, and to throw that im
portant branch of employment into the hands of
unscrupulous and dishonest men, who are alike re
gardless of law and the obligations of an oath.—
By these means, the plain intentions of Congress,
as expressed in the law, are daily defeated. Every
motive of policy and duty, therefore, impel me to
ask the earnest attention of Congress to this sub
ject. If Congress should deem it utiniso to at
tempt any important changes in the system of le
vying ditties, at this session, it will beconie
pensable to the protection of the revenue that such
remedies, as, in the judgement of Congress, may
mitigate the evils complained of, should be at once
As before stated, specific duties would, in my
opinion, afford the most perfect remedy for this
evil; hut if you should not concur in this view,
then, as a partial remedy, I beg leave respectfully
to recommend that, instead of taking the invoice
of the article abroad as a means of determining its
value here, the correctness of which invoice it is
in many cases impossible to verify, the law be so
changed as to require a home valuation or apprai
sal, to be regulated in such tnanner as to give, as
far as practicable, uniformity in the several ports.
There being no mint in California, I am inform
ed that the laborers in the mines are compelled to
dispose of their gold dust at a large discount.—
This appears to me to he a heavy and unjust tax
upon the labor of those employed in extracting
this precious metal; and I doubt not you will be
disposed, at the earliest period possible, to relieve
them from it by the establishment of a mint. In
the meantime, as an assayer's office is established
there, I would respectfully submit, for your con
sideration, the propriety of author izing gold bul
lion, which has been assayed and stamped, to be
received in payment of Government dues. I can
not conceive that the treasury would suffer any
loss by such a provision, which will at once raise
bullion to its par value, and thereby save (if I inn
rightly informed) many millions of dollars to the
laborers, which are now paid in brokerage to con
vert this precious metal into available funds. This
discount upon .their hard earnings is a heavy tax,
and every effort should be made by the govern
ment to relieve them from so great a burden.
. . -...—...
More than three-fourths of oar population are
engaged in the cultivation of the soil. The com
mercial, manufacturing and navigating interests
are all, to a Brest extent, dependent on the agri
cultural. It is, therefore, the most important in
terest of the nation, and has a just claim to the
tbstering care and protection of the government, so
far as they can be extended consistently with the
provisions of the Constitution. As this cannot be
done by the ordinary modes of legislation, I res
pectfully recommend the establishment of an Ag
ricultural Bureau, to be charged with the _duty of
giving to this leading branch of American industry
the encouragement wbleh stV4well deserves. In
view of the immense mineral resources of our coun
try, provision should also be made for the employ
ment of a competent mineralogist and chemist,
who should be required, under the direction of the
head of the bureau, to collect specimens of the va
rious minerals of our country, and to ascertain, by
careful analysis, their respective elements and
properties, and their adaptation to useful purpos
es. He should also be required to examine and
report upon the qualities of different soils, mid the
manures best calculated to improve their product
iveness. By publishing the results of such expe
riments, with suitable explanations, and by the
collection and distribution of rare seeds and plants
with instructions as to the best system of cultiva
tion, much may be done to promote this great nit
: tional interest.
In compliance with the act of Congress, passed
on the 23d of May, 1850, providing, among other
things, for taking the seventh census, a superin
tendent was appointed, and all other measures a
dopted, which were deemed necessary to ensure
the prompt and faithful performance of that duty.
The appropriation :fficady made will, it is believed,
be sufficient to de!'r.ty the whole expense of the
work; but further legislation may be necessary in
regard to the compensation of .some of the mar
shals of the Territories. It will also be proper to
make provision by law, at an early day, for the!
publication of such abstracts of the returns, as the
Public interests may require.
The unprecedented growth of our Territories on '
the Pacific in wealth and population, and the con
sequent increase of their social anti commercial
relations with the Atlantic States, seem to render
it the duty of the government to use all its consti
tutional power to improve the means of intercourse
with them. The importance of opening "a lino of
communication, the best and most expeditions of
which the nature of the country will admit," be
tween the valley of the Mississippi and the Pacific,
was brought to your notice by my predecessor, in
his annual message; and as the reasons which he
presented in favor of the measure still exist in full
force, I beg leave to call your attention to them,
and to repeat the recommendations then made by
The uncertainty which exists in regard to the
validity of land titles in California, is a subject
which demands your early consideration. Large
bodies of land in that State are claimed under
grants said to have been made by authority of the
Spanish and Mexican Governments. Many of
these have not been perfected, others have been
revoked, and some are believed to be fraudulent.
But until they shall have been judicially investiga
ted, they will continue to retard the settlement and
improvement of the country. I, therefore, res
pectfully recommend, that provision be made, by
law, for the appointment of commissioners to ex
amine all such claims, with a view to their final
I also beg leave to call your attention to the
'propriety of extending, at an early day, our system
of land laws, with such modifications an may be
necessary over the State of California and the ter
ritories of Utah and New Mexico. The mineral
lands of California will, of course, form an excep
tion to any general system which may be adopted.
Various methods of disposing of them have been
suggested. I was at first inclined to thvor the
system of leasing, as it seemed to promise the
largest revenues to the government and to afford
the best security against monopolies; but further
reflection, and our experience in leasing the lead
mines and selling lands upon credit, have brought
my mind to the conclusion that there would be
great difficulty iu collecting the rents, and that the
relation of debtor and creditor, between the citi
zens and the government, would be attended with
many mischievous consequences. 1 therefore re
commend that, instead of retaining the mineral
lauds under the permanent control of the govern
went, they be divided into small parcels and sold,
under such restrictions, s.a to quantity and time,
RS will manse the best price, and guard most effec
tually against combinations of capitalists to obtain
The annexation of Texas, and the acquisition of
CaWenn° and New Mexico, have given increased
° t * ittrl'‘‘qr
A „7/
importune° to our Indian relations. The various
tribes brought under our jurisdiction by these en
largements of our boundaries arc estimated to run
brnee n population of one hundred and twenty-four
Texas and New Mexico are surrounded by pow
erful tribes of Indians, who are a solute of con
stant terror and annoyance to the inhabitimis.—
Separating into small predatory bands, and always
mounted, thq, overrun the country, devastating
farms, destroying crops, driving off whole herdsof
cattle, and occasionally tnurdering the inhabitants
orcarrying them into captivity. The great rondo
leading into the country are infested with than,
whereby - travelling is rendered extremely danger
ous, and immigration is almost entirely arrestot.
' The Mexican frontier, which, by the 11th article
of the treaty of Guadeloupe Hidalgo, we are bound
to protect against thu Indians within our border,
is exposed to these incursions equally with one
own. The military force stationed in that coun
try, (although forming a large , proportion of the
army,) is represented as ent irely' inadequate to
our own protection mid the fulfilment of our treaty
stipulations with Mexico. The prinrip:d dMicien
cy is in cavalry, and I recommend that Congress
should, at as early a period at practicable, provide
for the raising of one or more regiments of ntount-
ed men.
For further suggestions on this snbject, end oth
ers connected with our domestic interests, and the
defence of our frontiers, I refer you to the reports
of the Secretary of the Interior and of the Secre
tary of War.
I commend also to your favorable consideration
the suggestion contained in the last-mentioned re
port, and in the letter of the generid-in-chief, re
lative to the establishment of an asylum for the
relief of disabled and destitute soldiers. This sub
ject appeals so strongly to your sympathies, that
it would be superfluous in me to say anythh.g more
than barely to express my cordial approbation of
the proposed object.
The Navy continues to give protection to our
commerce and other national interests in the dif
ferent quarters of' the globe, and, wish the excep
tion of n single steamer on the Sentient Lakes,
the vessels in commission are distributed in six
different squadrons.
The report of the head of that department will
exhibit the services of these squadrons, and of the
several vessels employed in earls during the past
year. It is a source of gratification that, while
they have been'constantly prepared for anv hostile
emergency, they have everywherethet with tin re
spect and courtesy, due as well to the dignity as to
the peaceful dispositions and just purposes of the
The two brigantines accepted by the Govern
ment from a generous citizen of Now York, e o
placed under the command of en officer of the Na
vy, to proceed to the Arctic seas in quest of the
British commander, Sir John Franklin, and his
companions, in compliance with the act of Con
gress, approved in May last, had, wba•o last heard
from, penetrated into a high northern latitude;
hut the success of this noble and humane enter
prise is yet uncertain.
I Invite your attention to the view of our pres
ent naval establishment and resources, presented
in the report of the Secretary of the Navy, and the
suggestions therein made for its improvement, to
gether with the naval policy recommended for the
security of our Pacific Coast, and the protection
and extension of our commerce with Eastern Asia.
Our facilities for a large• participation in the trade
of the East, by means of our recent settlements on
the shores of the Pacific, aro too obvious to be
overlooked or disregarded.
The 'questions in relation to rank in the nrmy
and navy, and relative rank between officers of
the two branches of the service, presented to the
Executive by certain resolutions of the House of
Representatives, at the last session of Congress,
have been submitted to a board of officers in earls
brands of the service, and their report may be ex
peeled at an early day.
I also earnestly recommend the enactment of a
law authorising officers of the army and navy to
he retired from the service when incompetent for
its vigorous and active duties, taking care to make
suitable provision fur those who have faithfully
served their country, and awarding distinctions, by
retaining in appropriate commands those who have
been particularly conspicuous for gallantry and
good conduct. While the obligation of the coun
try to maintain and honor those who, to the ex
clusion (stuffier pursuits, have devoted themselves
to its arduous service, this obligation should not
be permitted to interfere with the efficiency of the
service itself.
• I am gratified in being able to state, that the
estimate of expenditures for the navy in the ensu
ing year, are less, by more than one million of dol
lars, than those of the present, excepting the ap
propriation which may become necessary for the
construction of a dock on the coast of the Pacific,
propositions for which arc now being considered,
and on which a special report may be expected
early in your present session.
There is en evident justness in the suggestion of
the same report, that appropriations for the naval
service proper, should be separated flora those for
fixed and permanent objects, such es building
dockland navy yards, and the fixtures attached;
and from the extraordinary objects under the care
of the Department, which, however important, are
not essentially naval.
A revision" of the code for the government of
the navy seems to require the immediate console
ration of Congress. Its system of crimes and
punishments had undergone no change for half a
century, until the last session, though its defects
have been often and ably pointed out, and the ab
olition of a particular species of corporeal punish
ment, which then took place, without providing any
substitute, has left the service in a state of defec
tiveness, which calls for prompt correction. I
therefore recommend that the whole subject be re
vised, without delay, and such a system establish
ed for the enforcement ordiscipline, us shall be at
once humane and effectual.
The accompanying report of the Postmaster
General, presents a satislitetory view of the opera
dons aml condition of that department.
At the close of the last fiscal vear, the length of
the inland mail routes in the United States (not
embracing the service in Oregon and California)
was one hundred and seventy-eight thousand six
hundred anti seventy-two miles ; the annual trans
portation thereon tbrty-six million five hundred
and Petty one thousand four hundred and twenty
three miles ; and the annual cost of spelt transpor
tation two millions seven hundred mid twenty-four
thousand four hundred and twenty-six dollars.
The increase of the annual transportation over
that of the preceding year, was three millions nine
hundred and ninety-seven thousand three hundred
and fifty-four miles, and the increase in cost was
three hundrt d and forty-two thousand four hundred
and forty dollars.
The number of poet offices in the United States
on the first day of July lust, was eighteen thousand
four hundred and seventeen—being an increase of
sixteen hundred and seventy during the preeeding
The gross revenues of the Department for the
fiscal year ending June 30th, MO, amounted to
five millions five hundred and fifty-two thousand
VOL. XV.---NO. 48.
I nine hundred nod seseuty-one dollars end fort?
eight cents, including the annual appropriation of
two hundred thousand dollars for the flanked mat
ter of the departments, end excluding the foreign
postages collected for and payable to the British
The expenditures for the sonic period were five
udllions two hundred and twelve thousand nine
hundred and fifty-three dollars and forty-three cents
—leaving a halanee of revenue over expenditures.
of throe hundred and forty thousand and eighteen
dollars and live cents.
I am happy to find that the fiscal condition of
the Department is such us to justify the Postman•
ter General is reccommending the reduction of our
inland letter postage to three cents the single letter
when prepaid, and five cents when not prepaid.—
He also recommends that the prepaid rate shall
be reduced to two cents whenever the revenues of
the Department, after the reduction ; shall exceed
its expenditures by more than fire percent. for two
consecutive years; that the postage upon Califor
nia and other letters sent by our ocean steamers
shall be much reduced, and tbkkt the rates of post
age on newspapers, paunpidets, periodicals, and
other printed matter shall be modified, and sumo
reduction thereon made.
It cannot be doubted that the proposed reduc
tions will, for the present, diminish the revenues of
the Department. It is believed that the deficien
cy, after the surplus already accumulated shall he
exhausted, tufty be inmost wholly met either by
abolishing the existing privileges of sending free
mutter through the mails, or by pitying out of the
Treasury to the Post Office Department a sum
equivalent to the poste.„, of which it is deprived by
such privileges. The lest is supposed to be the
preferable mode, and will, if not entirely, so near
ly supply that deficiency as to make any further ap
propriation that may be tintud necessary so ineon_
siderable as to thim nu obstacle to the proposed
I entertain no doubt of the authority of Congress
to make appropriations for leading objects in that
class &public works comprising what are usually
called works of internal improvements. This au
thority, 1 suppose to be derived chiefly front thu
power of regulating commerce with foreign na
tions, and among the States, and the power of
laying and collecting imposts. Where commerce
is to be carried on, and imposts collected, there
must be ports and harbors, as well as wharves aid
custom houses. If ships, laden with valuable car
goes, approach the shore, or suit along the CORO,
light-houses are necessary, at suitable points, for
the protection of life and property. Other facili
ties and securities fur commerce and navigation,
are hardly less important; and those clauses of tl
Constitution, therefore, to which I have referred,
have received, from the origin of the government,
a liberal end beneficial construction. Not only
have light houses, buovs, and beacons, been estab
lished, and floating lights maintained, bat harbors
have been cleared and improved, piers construct
ed, and even breakwaters fur the safety of ship
ping, and sea-walls, to protect harbors from being
filled up, .d rendered Useless by the action of the
ocean, have been erected at very great expense.--,
And this construction of the Constitution appears
the more reasonable from the consideration, that
if these works of such evident importance and util
ity, are not to be accomplished by Congress, they,
cannot lie accomplished at all. By the adoption
of the Constitution, the several States voluntarily
Parted with the power of collecting duties of im
post in their own ports; and it is not to be expect
ed that they should raise money by internal taxa
tion, direct or indirect, for the benefit of that com
merce, the revenues derived from which do not,
either in whole or in part, go into their own trea
suries. Nor do I perceive tiny difference between
the power of Congress to make appropriations for
objects of this kind on the ocean, mid the power to
make appropriations thr similar objects oil lakes
mid rivers, wherever they tire largo enough to bear
on their waters an extensive traffic. The unigni ,
ficent Mississippi • and its tributaries, and the vast
lakes of the north and the north-west, appear to
me to fall within the exercise of the power, as
justly and as clearly as the Ocean and the Cuff of
Mexico. It is a mistake to regard expenditures
judiciously made for these objects, as expenditures
for local purposes. The position, or site of thu
work, is necessarily local; but its utility is gener
al. A ship canal around the Falls of St. Mary, of
less than a mile in length, though local in its con
struction, would yet be national in its purpose and
its benefits, as it would remove the only obstrue,
tion to a navigation of more than a thousand utiles,
affecting several States, as well as our commercial
relations with Canada. .So, too, the Breakwater
at the mouth of the Delaware is erected, not for
the exclusive benefit of the States bordering ou
the bay and river of that name, but for that of the
whole coastwise navigation of the United States,
and, to a considerable extent also, of foreign cool
ineree. If a ship be lost on the bar at the entrance
of a southern port, for want of sufficient depth of
water, it is very likely to be a northern ship ; and
if a steiunboat be stink in any part of the Missis
sippi, on account of its channel not having been
properly cleared of obstructions, it may be a boat
belonging to either of eight or ten States. I may
add, as somewhat remarkable, that among till the •
I • thirtv-ono States, there is none that is not, to a
greater or less extent, hounded by the Ocean, or
the Gulf of Mexico, or our of die great Lakes, or
sonic navigable river.
In fulfilling our constitutional ditties, fellow-eiti-'
sent, on this subject, as in carrying into effect all
other powers conferred by the Constitution, we
should consider ourselves as deliberating and
for one and the same country, and bear con
stantly in mind, that our regard and our duty are
duo, not to a particular part only, but to the whole.
I therefore recommit,' that appropriations be
made for completing such works ns have peen al
ready begun, sad for comencing such others as may ,
seem to the wisdom of Congress to be of public and
general importance.
The difficulties and delays, incident to the settle.'
ment of private claims by Co gress amount in ma
ny cases to a denial ofjustice. 'There is retl6oll to ,
apprehend that many unfortunate creditors of the
Government have thereby been unavoidab:,y ruin
ed. Congress has so mucL business of a p u bli c
character that it is tmpossible it should give mach
attention to mere private claims, and their aect
ululation is now 80 groat that many claimants must
despair of even being able to obtain a hearing.
It may well be doubted whether Congress, from
the nature of its organization, is properly constitu
ted to decide upon such cases. It it impossible.
that each member should examine the merits of
every aloha on which he is compelled to vote ; and
it is preposterous to ask a judge to decide a CM
which he has never beard. Such decisions may,
and frequently must du injustire either to the elai
taunt or the Government and I perceive no better
remedy for this growing evil than the establish.
ment of some tribunal to adjudicate upon such
elan.. 1 beg leave, thereof, most respectfully, to
recommend that provision be made by law fur the
appointment of a commission to settle all private ,
claims agilinst the United States; and, as an as
parte hearing must in all contested cases ?e
unsatisfactory, I also recotnmend eitt appointmerf
of a Solicitor, whose duty it shall he to represent
the Government before such commission, and pro,