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Title: State of the Union Address (1790-2001)
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Title: Complete State of the Union Addresses from 1790 to the Present

Author: Various

Release Date: February, 2004  [EBook #5050]
[Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule]
[This file was first posted on April 11, 2002]
[Date last updated: December 16, 2004]

Edition: 11

Language: English

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The addresses are separated by three asterisks: ***


  George Washington, State of the Union Address, January 8, 1790
  George Washington, State of the Union Address, December 8, 1790
  George Washington, State of the Union Address, October 25, 1791
  George Washington, State of the Union Address, November 6, 1792
  George Washington, State of the Union Address, December 3, 1793
  George Washington, State of the Union Address, November 19, 1794
  George Washington, State of the Union Address, December 8, 1795
  George Washington, State of the Union Address, December 7, 1796
  John Adams, State of the Union Address, November 22, 1797
  John Adams, State of the Union Address, December 8, 1798
  John Adams, State of the Union Address, December 3, 1799
  John Adams, State of the Union Address, November 11, 1800
  Thomas Jefferson, State of the Union Address, December 8, 1801
  Thomas Jefferson, State of the Union Address, December 15, 1802
  Thomas Jefferson, State of the Union Address, October 17, 1803
  Thomas Jefferson, State of the Union Address, November 8, 1804
  Thomas Jefferson, State of the Union Address, December 3, 1805
  Thomas Jefferson, State of the Union Address, December 2, 1806
  Thomas Jefferson, State of the Union Address, October 27, 1807
  Thomas Jefferson, State of the Union Address, November 8, 1808
  James Madison, State of the Union Address, November 29, 1809
  James Madison, State of the Union Address, December 5, 1810
  James Madison, State of the Union Address, November 5, 1811
  James Madison, State of the Union Address, November 4, 1812
  James Madison, State of the Union Address, December 7, 1813
  James Madison, State of the Union Address, September 20, 1814
  James Madison, State of the Union Address, December 5, 1815
  James Madison, State of the Union Address, December 3, 1816
  James Monroe, State of the Union Address, December 12, 1817
  James Monroe, State of the Union Address, November 16, 1818
  James Monroe, State of the Union Address, December 7, 1819
  James Monroe, State of the Union Address, November 14, 1820
  James Monroe, State of the Union Address, December 3, 1821
  James Monroe, State of the Union Address, December 3, 1822
  James Monroe, State of the Union Address, December 2, 1823
  James Monroe, State of the Union Address, December 7, 1824
  John Quincy Adams, State of the Union Address, December 6, 1825
  John Quincy Adams, State of the Union Address, December 5, 1826
  John Quincy Adams, State of the Union Address, December 4, 1827
  John Quincy Adams, State of the Union Address, December 2, 1828
  Andrew Jackson, State of the Union Address, December 8, 1829
  Andrew Jackson, State of the Union Address, December 6, 1830
  Andrew Jackson, State of the Union Address, December 6, 1831
  Andrew Jackson, State of the Union Address, December 4, 1832
  Andrew Jackson, State of the Union Address, December 3, 1833
  Andrew Jackson, State of the Union Address, December 1, 1834
  Andrew Jackson, State of the Union Address, December 7, 1835
  Andrew Jackson, State of the Union Address, December 5, 1836
  Martin van Buren, State of the Union Address, December 5, 1837
  Martin van Buren, State of the Union Address, December 3, 1838
  Martin van Buren, State of the Union Address, December 2, 1839
  Martin van Buren, State of the Union Address, December 5, 1840
  John Tyler, State of the Union Address, December 7, 1841
  John Tyler, State of the Union Address, December 6, 1842
  John Tyler, State of the Union Address, December 1843
  John Tyler, State of the Union Address, December 3, 1844
  James Polk, State of the Union Address, December 2, 1845
  James Polk, State of the Union Address, December 8, 1846
  James Polk, State of the Union Address, December 7, 1847
  James Polk, State of the Union Address, December 5, 1848
  Zachary Taylor, State of the Union Address, December 4, 1849
  Millard Fillmore, State of the Union Address, December 2, 1850
  Millard Fillmore, State of the Union Address, December 2, 1851
  Millard Fillmore, State of the Union Address, December 6, 1852
  Franklin Pierce, State of the Union Address, December 5, 1853
  Franklin Pierce, State of the Union Address, December 4, 1854
  Franklin Pierce, State of the Union Address, December 31, 1855
  Franklin Pierce, State of the Union Address, December 2, 1856
  James Buchanan, State of the Union Address, December 8, 1857
  James Buchanan, State of the Union Address, December 6, 1858
  James Buchanan, State of the Union Address, December 19, 1859
  James Buchanan, State of the Union Address, December 3, 1860
  Abraham Lincoln, State of the Union Address, December 3, 1861
  Abraham Lincoln, State of the Union Address, December 1, 1862
  Abraham Lincoln, State of the Union Address, December 8, 1863
  Abraham Lincoln, State of the Union Address, December 6, 1864
  Andrew Johnson, State of the Union Address, December 4, 1865
  Andrew Johnson, State of the Union Address, December 3, 1866
  Andrew Johnson, State of the Union Address, December 3, 1867
  Andrew Johnson, State of the Union Address, December 9, 1868
  Ulysses S. Grant, State of the Union Address, December 6, 1869
  Ulysses S. Grant, State of the Union Address, December 5, 1870
  Ulysses S. Grant, State of the Union Address, December 4, 1871
  Ulysses S. Grant, State of the Union Address, December 2, 1872
  Ulysses S. Grant, State of the Union Address, December 1, 1873
  Ulysses S. Grant, State of the Union Address, December 7, 1874
  Ulysses S. Grant, State of the Union Address, December 7, 1875
  Ulysses S. Grant, State of the Union Address, December 5, 1876
  Rutherford B. Hayes, State of the Union Address, December 3, 1877
  Rutherford B. Hayes, State of the Union Address, December 2, 1878
  Rutherford B. Hayes, State of the Union Address, December 1, 1879
  Rutherford B. Hayes, State of the Union Address, December 6, 1880
  Chester A. Arthur, State of the Union Address, December 6, 1881
  Chester A. Arthur, State of the Union Address, December 4, 1882
  Chester A. Arthur, State of the Union Address, December 4, 1883
  Chester A. Arthur, State of the Union Address, December 1, 1884
  Grover Cleveland, State of the Union Address, December 8, 1885
  Grover Cleveland, State of the Union Address, December 6, 1886
  Grover Cleveland, State of the Union Address, December 6, 1887
  Grover Cleveland, State of the Union Address, December 3, 1888
  Benjamin Harrison, State of the Union Address, December 3, 1889
  Benjamin Harrison, State of the Union Address, December 1, 1890
  Benjamin Harrison, State of the Union Address, December 9, 1891
  Benjamin Harrison, State of the Union Address, December 6, 1892
  William McKinley, State of the Union Address, December 6, 1897
  William McKinley, State of the Union Address, December 5, 1898
  William McKinley, State of the Union Address, December 5, 1899
  William McKinley, State of the Union Address, December 3, 1900
  Theodore Roosevelt, State of the Union Address, December 3, 1901
  Theodore Roosevelt, State of the Union Address, December 2, 1902
  Theodore Roosevelt, State of the Union Address, December 7, 1903
  Theodore Roosevelt, State of the Union Address, December 6, 1904
  Theodore Roosevelt, State of the Union Address, December 5, 1905
  Theodore Roosevelt, State of the Union Address, December 3, 1906
  Theodore Roosevelt, State of the Union Address, December 3, 1907
  Theodore Roosevelt, State of the Union Address, December 8, 1908
  William H. Taft, State of the Union Address, December 7, 1909
  William H. Taft, State of the Union Address, December 6, 1910
  William H. Taft, State of the Union Address, December 5, 1911
  William H. Taft, State of the Union Address, December 3, 1912
  Woodrow Wilson, State of the Union Address, December 2, 1913
  Woodrow Wilson, State of the Union Address, December 8, 1914
  Woodrow Wilson, State of the Union Address, December 7, 1915
  Woodrow Wilson, State of the Union Address, December 5, 1916
  Woodrow Wilson, State of the Union Address, December 4, 1917
  Woodrow Wilson, State of the Union Address, December 2, 1918
  Woodrow Wilson, State of the Union Address, December 2, 1919
  Woodrow Wilson, State of the Union Address, December 7, 1920
  Warren Harding, State of the Union Address, December 6, 1921
  Warren Harding, State of the Union Address, December 8, 1922
  Calvin Coolidge, State of the Union Address, December 6, 1923
  Calvin Coolidge, State of the Union Address, December 3, 1924
  Calvin Coolidge, State of the Union Address, December 8, 1925
  Calvin Coolidge, State of the Union Address, December 7, 1926
  Calvin Coolidge, State of the Union Address, December 6, 1927
  Calvin Coolidge, State of the Union Address, December 4, 1928
  Herbert Hoover, State of the Union Address, December 3, 1929
  Herbert Hoover, State of the Union Address, December 2, 1930
  Herbert Hoover, State of the Union Address, December 8, 1931
  Herbert Hoover, State of the Union Address, December 6, 1932
  Franklin D. Roosevelt, State of the Union Address, January 3, 1934
  Franklin D. Roosevelt, State of the Union Address, January 4, 1935
  Franklin D. Roosevelt, State of the Union Address, January 3, 1936
  Franklin D. Roosevelt, State of the Union Address, January 6, 1937
  Franklin D. Roosevelt, State of the Union Address, January 3, 1938
  Franklin D. Roosevelt, State of the Union Address, January 4, 1939
  Franklin D. Roosevelt, State of the Union Address, January 3, 1940
  Franklin D. Roosevelt, State of the Union Address, January 6, 1941
  Franklin D. Roosevelt, State of the Union Address, January 6, 1942
  Franklin D. Roosevelt, State of the Union Address, January 7, 1943
  Franklin D. Roosevelt, State of the Union Address, January 11, 1944
  Franklin D. Roosevelt, State of the Union Address, January 6, 1945
  Harry S. Truman, State of the Union Address, January 21, 1946
  Harry S. Truman, State of the Union Address, January 6, 1947
  Harry S. Truman, State of the Union Address, January 7, 1948
  Harry S. Truman, State of the Union Address, January 5, 1949
  Harry S. Truman, State of the Union Address, January 4, 1950
  Harry S. Truman, State of the Union Address, January 8, 1951
  Harry S. Truman, State of the Union Address, January 9, 1952
  Harry S. Truman, State of the Union Address, January 7, 1953
  Dwight D. Eisenhower, State of the Union Address, February 2, 1953
  Dwight D. Eisenhower, State of the Union Address, January 7, 1954
  Dwight D. Eisenhower, State of the Union Address, January 6, 1955
  Dwight D. Eisenhower, State of the Union Address, January 5, 1956
  Dwight D. Eisenhower, State of the Union Address, January 10, 1957
  Dwight D. Eisenhower, State of the Union Address, January 9, 1958
  Dwight D. Eisenhower, State of the Union Address, January 9, 1959
  Dwight D. Eisenhower, State of the Union Address, January 7, 1960
  Dwight D. Eisenhower, State of the Union Address, January 12, 1961
  John F. Kennedy, State of the Union Address, January 30, 1961
  John F. Kennedy, State of the Union Address, January 11, 1962
  John F. Kennedy, State of the Union Address, January 14, 1963
  Lyndon B. Johnson, State of the Union Address, January 8, 1964
  Lyndon B. Johnson, State of the Union Address, January 4, 1965
  Lyndon B. Johnson, State of the Union Address, January 12, 1966
  Lyndon B. Johnson, State of the Union Address, January 10, 1967
  Lyndon B. Johnson, State of the Union Address, January 17, 1968
  Lyndon B. Johnson, State of the Union Address, January 14, 1969
  Richard Nixon, State of the Union Address, January 22, 1970
  Richard Nixon, State of the Union Address, January 22, 1971
  Richard Nixon, State of the Union Address, January 20, 1972
  Richard Nixon, State of the Union Address, February 2, 1973
  Richard Nixon, State of the Union Address, January 30, 1974
  Gerald R. Ford, State of the Union Address, January 15, 1975
  Gerald R. Ford, State of the Union Address, January 19, 1976
  Gerald R. Ford, State of the Union Address, January 12, 1977
  Jimmy Carter, State of the Union Address, January 19, 1978
  Jimmy Carter, State of the Union Address, January 25, 1979
  Jimmy Carter, State of the Union Address, January 21, 1980
  Jimmy Carter, State of the Union Address, January 16, 1981
  Ronald Reagan, State of the Union Address, January 26, 1982
  Ronald Reagan, State of the Union Address, January 25, 1983
  Ronald Reagan, State of the Union Address, January 25, 1984
  Ronald Reagan, State of the Union Address, February 6, 1985
  Ronald Reagan, State of the Union Address, February 4, 1986
  Ronald Reagan, State of the Union Address, January 27, 1987
  Ronald Reagan, State of the Union Address, January 25, 1988
  George H.W. Bush, State of the Union Address, January 31, 1990
  George H.W. Bush, State of the Union Address, January 29, 1991
  George H.W. Bush, State of the Union Address, January 28, 1992
  William J. Clinton, State of the Union Address, January 25, 1994
  William J. Clinton, State of the Union Address, January 24, 1995
  William J. Clinton, State of the Union Address, January 23, 1996
  William J. Clinton, State of the Union Address, February 4, 1997
  William J. Clinton, State of the Union Address, January 27, 1998
  William J. Clinton, State of the Union Address, January 19, 1999
  William J. Clinton, State of the Union Address, January 27, 2000
  George W. Bush, State of the Union Address, January 29, 2002


State of the Union Address
George Washington
January 8, 1790

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

I embrace with great satisfaction the opportunity which now presents itself
of congratulating you on the present favorable prospects of our public
affairs. The recent accession of the important state of North Carolina to
the Constitution of the United States (of which official information has
been received), the rising credit and respectability of our country, the
general and increasing good will toward the government of the Union, and
the concord, peace, and plenty with which we are blessed are circumstances
auspicious in an eminent degree to our national prosperity.

In resuming your consultations for the general good you can not but derive
encouragement from the reflection that the measures of the last session
have been as satisfactory to your constituents as the novelty and
difficulty of the work allowed you to hope. Still further to realize their
expectations and to secure the blessings which a gracious Providence has
placed within our reach will in the course of the present important session
call for the cool and deliberate exertion of your patriotism, firmness, and

Among the many interesting objects which will engage your attention that of
providing for the common defense will merit particular regard. To be
prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.

A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end a
uniform and well-digested plan is requisite; and their safety and interest
require that they should promote such manufactories as tend to render them
independent of others for essential, particularly military, supplies.

The proper establishment of the troops which may be deemed indispensable
will be entitled to mature consideration. In the arrangements which may be
made respecting it it will be of importance to conciliate the comfortable
support of the officers and soldiers with a due regard to economy.

There was reason to hope that the pacific measures adopted with regard to
certain hostile tribes of Indians would have relieved the inhabitants of
our southern and western frontiers from their depredations, but you will
perceive from the information contained in the papers which I shall direct
to be laid before you (comprehending a communication from the Commonwealth
of Virginia) that we ought to be prepared to afford protection to those
parts of the Union, and, if necessary, to punish aggressors.

The interests of the United States require that our intercourse with other
nations should be facilitated by such provisions as will enable me to
fulfill my duty in that respect in the manner which circumstances may
render most conducive to the public good, and to this end that the
compensation to be made to the persons who may be employed should,
according to the nature of their appointments, be defined by law, and a
competent fund designated for defraying the expenses incident to the
conduct of foreign affairs.

Various considerations also render it expedient that the terms on which
foreigners may be admitted to the rights of citizens should be speedily
ascertained by a uniform rule of naturalization.

Uniformity in the currency, weights, and measures of the United States is
an object of great importance, and will, I am persuaded, be duly attended

The advancement of agriculture, commerce, and manufactures by all proper
means will not, I trust, need recommendation; but I can not forbear
intimating to you the expediency of giving effectual encouragement as well
to the introduction of new and useful inventions from abroad as to the
exertions of skill and genius in producing them at home, and of
facilitating the intercourse between the distant parts of our country by a
due attention to the post-office and post-roads.

Nor am I less persuaded that you will agree with me in opinion that there
is nothing which can better deserve your patronage than the promotion of
science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of
public happiness. In one in which the measures of government receive their
impressions so immediately from the sense of the community as in ours it is
proportionably essential.

To the security of a free constitution it contributes in various ways--by
convincing those who are intrusted with the public administration that
every valuable end of government is best answered by the enlightened
confidence of the people, and by teaching the people themselves to know and
to value their own rights; to discern and provide against invasions of
them; to distinguish between oppression and the necessary exercise of
lawful authority; between burthens proceeding from a disregard to their
convenience and those resulting from the inevitable exigencies of society;
to discriminate the spirit of liberty from that of licentiousness--
cherishing the first, avoiding the last--and uniting a speedy but
temperate vigilance against encroachments, with an inviolable respect to
the laws.

Whether this desirable object will be best promoted by affording aids to
seminaries of learning already established, by the institution of a
national university, or by any other expedients will be well worthy of a
place in the deliberations of the legislature.

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives:

I saw with peculiar pleasure at the close of the last session the
resolution entered into by you expressive of your opinion that an adequate
provision for the support of the public credit is a matter of high
importance to the national honor and prosperity. In this sentiment I
entirely concur; and to a perfect confidence in your best endeavors to
devise such a provision as will be truly with the end I add an equal
reliance on the cheerful cooperation of the other branch of the

It would be superfluous to specify inducements to a measure in which the
character and interests of the United States are so obviously so deeply
concerned, and which has received so explicit a sanction from your

Gentlemen of the Senate and House of Representatives:

I have directed the proper officers to lay before you, respectively, such
papers and estimates as regard the affairs particularly recommended to your
consideration, and necessary to convey to you that information of the state
of the Union which it is my duty to afford.

The welfare of our country is the great object to which our cares and
efforts ought to be directed, and I shall derive great satisfaction from a
cooperation with you in the pleasing though arduous task of insuring to our
fellow citizens the blessings which they have a right to expect from a
free, efficient, and equal government.


State of the Union Address
George Washington
December 8, 1790

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

In meeting you again I feel much satisfaction in being able to repeat my
congratulations on the favorable prospects which continue to distinguish
our public affairs. The abundant fruits of another year have blessed our
country with plenty and with the means of a flourishing commerce.

The progress of public credit is witnessed by a considerable rise of
American stock abroad as well as at home, and the revenues allotted for
this and other national purposes have been productive beyond the
calculations by which they were regulated. This latter circumstance is the
more pleasing, as it is not only a proof of the fertility of our resources,
but as it assures us of a further increase of the national respectability
and credit, and, let me add, as it bears an honorable testimony to the
patriotism and integrity of the mercantile and marine part of our citizens.
The punctuality of the former in discharging their engagements has been

In conformity to the powers vested in me by acts of the last session, a
loan of 3,000,000 florins, toward which some provisional measures had
previously taken place, has been completed in Holland. As well the celerity
with which it has been filled as the nature of the terms (considering the
more than ordinary demand for borrowing created by the situation of Europe)
give a reasonable hope that the further execution of those powers may
proceed with advantage and success. The Secretary of the Treasury has my
directions to communicate such further particulars as may be requisite for
more precise information.

Since your last sessions I have received communications by which it appears
that the district of Kentucky, at present a part of Virginia, has concurred
in certain propositions contained in a law of that State, in consequence of
which the district is to become a distinct member of the Union, in case the
requisite sanction of Congress be added. For this sanction application is
now made. I shall cause the papers on this very transaction to be laid
before you.

The liberality and harmony with which it has been conducted will be found
to do great honor to both the parties, and the sentiments of warm
attachment to the Union and its present Government expressed by our fellow
citizens of Kentucky can not fail to add an affectionate concern for their
particular welfare to the great national impressions under which you will
decide on the case submitted to you.

It has been heretofore known to Congress that frequent incursions have been
made on our frontier settlements by certain banditti of Indians from the
northwest side of the Ohio. These, with some of the tribes dwelling on and
near the Wabash, have of late been particularly active in their
depredations, and being emboldened by the impunity of their crimes and
aided by such parts of the neighboring tribes as could be seduced to join
in their hostilities or afford them a retreat for their prisoners and
plunder, they have, instead of listening to the humane invitations and
overtures made on the part of the United States, renewed their violences
with fresh alacrity and greater effect. The lives of a number of valuable
citizens have thus been sacrificed, and some of them under circumstances
peculiarly shocking, whilst others have been carried into a deplorable

These aggravated provocations rendered it essential to the safety of the
Western settlements that the aggressors should be made sensible that the
Government of the Union is not less capable of punishing their crimes than
it is disposed to respect their rights and reward their attachments. As
this object could not be effected by defensive measures, it became
necessary to put in force the act which empowers the President to call out
the militia for the protection of the frontiers, and I have accordingly
authorized an expedition in which the regular troops in that quarter are
combined with such drafts of militia as were deemed sufficient. The event
of the measure is yet unknown to me. The Secretary of War is directed to
lay before you a statement of the information on which it is founded, as
well as an estimate of the expense with which it will be attended.

The disturbed situation of Europe, and particularly the critical posture of
the great maritime powers, whilst it ought to make us the more thankful for
the general peace and security enjoyed by the United States, reminds us at
the same time of the circumspection with which it becomes us to preserve
these blessings. It requires also that we should not overlook the tendency
of a war, and even of preparations for a war, among the nations most
concerned in active commerce with this country to abridge the means, and
thereby at least enhance the price, of transporting its valuable
productions to their markets. I recommend it to your serious reflections
how far and in what mode it may be expedient to guard against
embarrassments from these contingencies by such encouragements to our own
navigation as will render our commerce and agriculture less dependent on
foreign bottoms, which may fail us in the very moments most interesting to
both of these great objects. Our fisheries and the transportation of our
own produce offer us abundant means for guarding ourselves against this

Your attention seems to be not less due to that particular branch of our
trade which belongs to the Mediterranean. So many circumstances unite in
rendering the present state of it distressful to us that you will not think
any deliberations misemployed which may lead to its relief and protection.

The laws you have already passed for the establishment of a judiciary
system have opened the doors of justice to all descriptions of persons. You
will consider in your wisdom whether improvements in that system may yet be
made, and particularly whether an uniform process of execution on sentences
issuing from the Federal courts be not desirable through all the States.

The patronage of our commerce, of our merchants and sea men, has called for
the appointment of consuls in foreign countries. It seems expedient to
regulate by law the exercise of that jurisdiction and those functions which
are permitted them, either by express convention or by a friendly
indulgence, in the places of their residence. The consular convention, too,
with His Most Christian Majesty has stipulated in certain cases the aid of
the national authority to his consuls established here. Some legislative
provision is requisite to carry these stipulations into full effect.

The establishment of the militia, of a mint, of standards of weights and
measures, of the post office and post roads are subjects which I presume
you will resume of course, and which are abundantly urged by their own

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives:

The sufficiency of the revenues you have established for the objects to
which they are appropriated leaves no doubt that the residuary provisions
will be commensurate to the other objects for which the public faith stands
now pledged. Allow me, moreover, to hope that it will be a favorite policy
with you, not merely to secure a payment of the interest of the debt
funded, but as far and as fast as the growing resources of the country will
permit to exonerate it of the principal itself. The appropriation you have
made of the Western land explains your dispositions on this subject, and I
am persuaded that the sooner that valuable fund can be made to contribute,
along with the other means, to the actual reduction of the public debt the
more salutary will the measure be to every public interest, as well as the
more satisfactory to our constituents.

Gentlemen of the Senate and House of Representatives:

In pursuing the various and weighty business of the present session I
indulge the fullest persuasion that your consultation will be equally
marked with wisdom and animated by the love of your country. In whatever
belongs to my duty you shall have all the cooperation which an undiminished
zeal for its welfare can inspire. It will be happy for us both, and our
best reward, if, by a successful administration of our respective trusts,
we can make the established Government more and more instrumental in
promoting the good of our fellow citizens, and more and more the object of
their attachment and confidence.



State of the Union Address
George Washington
October 25, 1791

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

"In vain may we expect peace with the Indians on our frontiers so long as a
lawless set of unprincipled wretches can violate the rights of hospitality,
or infringe the most solemn treaties, without receiving the punishment they
so justly merit."

I meet you upon the present occasion with the feelings which are naturally
inspired by a strong impression of the prosperous situations of our common
country, and by a persuasion equally strong that the labors of the session
which has just commenced will, under the guidance of a spirit no less
prudent than patriotic, issue in measures conducive to the stability and
increase of national prosperity.

Numerous as are the providential blessings which demand our grateful
acknowledgments, the abundance with which another year has again rewarded
the industry of the husbandman is too important to escape recollection.

Your own observations in your respective situations will have satisfied you
of the progressive state of agriculture, manufactures, commerce, and
navigation. In tracing their causes you will have remarked with particular
pleasure the happy effects of that revival of confidence, public as well as
private, to which the Constitution and laws of the United States have so
eminently contributed; and you will have observed with no less interest new
and decisive proofs of the increasing reputation and credit of the nation.
But you nevertheless can not fail to derive satisfaction from the
confirmation of these circumstances which will be disclosed in the several
official communications that will be made to you in the course of your

The rapid subscriptions to the Bank of the United States, which completed
the sum allowed to be subscribed in a single day, is among the striking and
pleasing evidences which present themselves, not only of confidence in the
Government, but of resource in the community.

In the interval of your recess due attention has been paid to the execution
of the different objects which were specially provided for by the laws and
resolutions of the last session.

Among the most important of these is the defense and security of the
western frontiers. To accomplish it on the most humane principles was a
primary wish.

Accordingly, at the same time the treaties have been provisionally
concluded and other proper means used to attach the wavering and to confirm
in their friendship the well-disposed tribes of Indians, effectual measures
have been adopted to make those of a hostile description sensible that a
pacification was desired upon terms of moderation and justice.

Those measures having proved unsuccessful, it became necessary to convince
the refractory of the power of the United States to punish their
depredations. Offensive operations have therefore been directed, to be
conducted, however, as consistently as possible with the dictates of

Some of these have been crowned with full success and others are yet
depending. The expeditions which have been completed were carried on under
the authority and at the expense of the United States by the militia of
Kentucky, whose enterprise, intrepidity, and good conduct are entitled of
peculiar commendation.

Overtures of peace are still continued to the deluded tribes, and
considerable numbers of individuals belonging to them have lately renounced
all further opposition, removed from their former situations, and placed
themselves under the immediate protection of the United States.

It is sincerely to be desired that all need of coercion in future may cease
and that an intimate intercourse may succeed, calculated to advance the
happiness of the Indians and to attach them firmly to the United States.

In order to this it seems necessary--That they should experience the
benefits of an impartial dispensation of justice. That the mode of
alienating their lands, the main source of discontent and war, should be so
defined and regulated as to obviate imposition and as far as may be
practicable controversy concerning the reality and extent of the
alienations which are made. That commerce with them should be promoted
under regulations tending to secure an equitable deportment toward them,
and that such rational experiments should be made for imparting to them the
blessings of civilization as may from time to time suit their condition.
That the Executive of the United States should be enabled to employ the
means to which the Indians have been long accustomed for uniting their
immediate interests with the preservation of peace. And that efficacious
provision should be made for inflicting adequate penalties upon all those
who, by violating their rights, shall infringe the treaties and endanger
the peace of the Union. A system corresponding with the mild principles of
religion and philanthropy toward an unenlightened race of men, whose
happiness materially depends on the conduct of the United States, would be
as honorable to the national character as conformable to the dictates of
sound policy.

The powers specially vested in me by the act laying certain duties on
distilled spirits, which respect the subdivisions of the districts into
surveys, the appointment of officers, and the assignment of compensations,
have likewise been carried into effect. In a manner in which both materials
and experience were wanting to guide the calculation it will be readily
conceived that there must have been difficulty in such an adjustment of the
rates of compensation as would conciliate a reasonable competency with a
proper regard to the limits prescribed by the law. It is hoped that the
circumspection which has been used will be found in the result to have
secured the last of the two objects; but it is probable that with a view
to the first in some instances a revision of the provision will be found

The impressions with which this law has been received by the community have
been upon the whole such as were to be expected among enlightened and
well-disposed citizens from the propriety and necessity of the measure. The
novelty, however, of the tax in a considerable part of the United States
and a misconception of some of its provisions have given occasion in
particular places to some degree of discontent; but it is satisfactory to
know that this disposition yields to proper explanations and more just
apprehensions of the true nature of the law, and I entertain a full
confidence that it will in all give way to motives which arise out of a
just sense of duty and a virtuous regard to the public welfare.

If there are any circumstances in the law which consistently with its main
design may be so varied as to remove any well-intentioned objections that
may happen to exist, it will consist with a wise moderation to make the
proper variations. It is desirable on all occasions to unite with a steady
and firm adherence to constitutional and necessary acts of Government the
fullest evidence of a disposition as far as may be practicable to consult
the wishes of every part of the community and to lay the foundations of the
public administration in the affections of the people.

Pursuant to the authority contained in the several acts on that subject, a
district of 10 miles square for the permanent seat of the Government of the
United States has been fixed and announced by proclamation, which district
will comprehend lands on both sides of the river Potomac and the towns of
Alexandria and Georgetown. A city has also been laid out agreeably to a
plan which will be placed before Congress, and as there is a prospect,
favored by the rate of sales which have already taken place, of ample funds
for carrying on the necessary public buildings, there is every expectation
of their due progress.

The completion of the census of the inhabitants, for which provision was
made by law, has been duly notified (excepting one instance in which the
return has been informal, and another in which it has been omitted or
miscarried), and the returns of the officers who were charged with this
duty, which will be laid before you, will give you the pleasing assurance
that the present population of the United States borders on 4,000,000

It is proper also to inform you that a further loan of 2,500,000 florins
has been completed in Holland, the terms of which are similar to those of
the one last announced, except as to a small reduction of charges. Another,
on like terms, for 6,000,000 florins, had been set on foot under
circumstances that assured an immediate completion.

Gentlemen of the Senate:

Two treaties which have been provisionally concluded with the Cherokees and
Six Nations of Indians will be laid before you for your consideration and

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives:

In entering upon the discharge of your legislative trust you must
anticipate with pleasure that many of the difficulties necessarily incident
to the first arrangements of a new government for an extensive country have
been happily surmounted by the zealous and judicious exertions of your
predecessors in cooperation with the other branch of the Legislature. The
important objects which remain to be accomplished will, I am persuaded, be
conducted upon principles equally comprehensive and equally well calculated
of the advancement of the general weal.

The time limited for receiving subscriptions to the loans proposed by the
act making provision for the debt of the United States having expired,
statements from the proper department will as soon as possible apprise you
of the exact result. Enough, however, is known already to afford an
assurance that the views of that act have been substantially fulfilled. The
subscription in the domestic debt of the United States has embraced by far
the greatest proportion of that debt, affording at the same time proof of
the general satisfaction of the public creditors with the system which has
been proposed to their acceptance and of the spirit of accommodation to the
convenience of the Government with which they are actuated. The
subscriptions in the debts of the respective States as far as the
provisions of the law have permitted may be said to be yet more general.
The part of the debt of the United States which remains unsubscribed will
naturally engage your further deliberations.

It is particularly pleasing to me to be able to announce to you that the
revenues which have been established promise to be adequate to their
objects, and may be permitted, if no unforeseen exigency occurs, to
supersede for the present the necessity of any new burthens upon our

An object which will claim your early attention is a provision for the
current service of the ensuing year, together with such ascertained demands
upon the Treasury as require to be immediately discharged, and such
casualties as may have arisen in the execution of the public business, for
which no specific appropriation may have yet been made; of all which a
proper estimate will be laid before you.

Gentlemen of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

I shall content myself with a general reference to former communications
for several objects upon which the urgency of other affairs has hitherto
postponed any definitive resolution. Their importance will recall them to
your attention, and I trust that the progress already made in the most
arduous arrangements of the Government will afford you leisure to resume
them to advantage.

These are, however, some of them of which I can not forbear a more
particular mention. These are the militia, the post office and post roads,
the mint, weights and measures, a provision for the sale of the vacant
lands of the United States.

The first is certainly an object of primary importance whether viewed in
reference to the national security to the satisfaction of the community or
to the preservation of order. In connection with this the establishment of
competent magazines and arsenals and the fortification of such places as
are peculiarly important and vulnerable naturally present themselves to
consideration. The safety of the United States under divine protection
ought to rest on the basis of systematic and solid arrangements, exposed as
little as possible to the hazards of fortuitous circumstances.

The importance of the post office and post roads on a plan sufficiently
liberal and comprehensive, as they respect the expedition, safety, and
facility of communication, is increased by their instrumentality in
diffusing a knowledge of the laws and proceedings of the Government, which,
while it contributes to the security of the people, serves also to guard
them against the effects of misrepresentation and misconception. The
establishment of additional cross posts, especially to some of the
important points in the Western and Northern parts of the Union, can not
fail to be of material utility.

The disorders in the existing currency, and especially the scarcity of
small change, a scarcity so peculiarly distressing to the poorer classes,
strongly recommend the carrying into immediate effect the resolution
already entered into concerning the establishment of a mint. Measures have
been taken pursuant to that resolution for procuring some of the most
necessary artists, together with the requisite apparatus.

An uniformity in the weights and measures of the country is among the
important objects submitted to you by the Constitution, and if it can be
derived from a standard at once invariable and universal, must be no less
honorable to the public councils than conducive to the public convenience.

A provision for the sale of the vacant lands of the United States is
particularly urged, among other reasons, by the important considerations
that they are pledged as a fund for reimbursing the public debt; that if
timely and judiciously applied they may save the necessity of burthening
our citizens with new taxes for the extinguishment of the principal; and
that being free to discharge the principal but in a limited proportion, no
opportunity ought to be lost for availing the public of its right.



State of the Union Address
George Washington
November 6, 1792

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

It is some abatement of the satisfaction with which I meet you on the
present occasion that, in felicitating you on a continuance of the national
prosperity generally, I am not able to add to it information that the
Indian hostilities which have for some time past distressed our
Northwestern frontier have terminated.

You will, I am persuaded, learn with no less concern than I communicate it
that reiterated endeavors toward effecting a pacification have hitherto
issued only in new and outrageous proofs of persevering hostility on the
part of the tribes with whom we are in contest. An earnest desire to
procure tranquillity to the frontier, to stop the further effusion of
blood, to arrest the progress of expense, to forward the prevalent wish of
the nation for peace has led to strenuous efforts through various channels
to accomplish these desirable purposes; in making which efforts I consulted
less my own anticipations of the event, or the scruples which some
considerations were calculated to inspire, than the wish to find the object
attainable, or if not attainable, to ascertain unequivocally that such is
the case.

A detail of the measures which have been pursued and of their consequences,
which will be laid before you, while it will confirm to you the want of
success thus far, will, I trust, evince that means as proper and as
efficacious as could have been devised have been employed. The issue of
some of them, indeed, is still depending, but a favorable one, though not
to be despaired of, is not promised by anything that has yet happened.

In the course of the attempts which have been made some valuable citizens
have fallen victims to their zeal for the public service. A sanction
commonly respected even among savages has been found in this instance
insufficient to protect from massacre the emissaries of peace. It will, I
presume, be duly considered whether the occasion does not call for an
exercise of liberality toward the families of the deceased.

It must add to your concern to be informed that, besides the continuation
of hostile appearances among the tribes north of the Ohio, some threatening
symptoms have of late been revived among some of those south of it.

A part of the Cherokees, known by the name of Chickamaugas, inhabiting five
villages on the Tennessee River, have long been in the practice of
committing depredations on the neighboring settlements.

It was hoped that the treaty of Holston, made with the Cherokee Nation in
July, 1791, would have prevented a repetition of such depredations; but the
event has not answered this hope. The Chickamaugas, aided by some banditti
of another tribe in their vicinity, have recently perpetrated wanton and
unprovoked hostilities upon the citizens of the United States in that
quarter. The information which has been received on this subject will be
laid before you. Hitherto defensive precautions only have been strictly
enjoined and observed.

It is not understood that any breach of treaty or aggression whatsoever on
the part of the United States or their citizens is even alleged as a
pretext for the spirit of hostility in this quarter.

I have reason to believe that every practicable exertion has been made
(pursuant to the provision by law for that purpose) to be prepared for the
alternative of a prosecution of the war in the event of a failure of
pacific overtures. A large proportion of the troops authorized to be raised
have been recruited, though the number is still incomplete, and pains have
been taken to discipline and put them in condition for the particular kind
of service to be performed. A delay of operations (besides being dictated
by the measures which were pursuing toward a pacific termination of the
war) has been in itself deemed preferable to immature efforts. A statement
from the proper department with regard to the number of troops raised, and
some other points which have been suggested, will afford more precise
information as a guide to the legislative consultations, and among other
things will enable Congress to judge whether some additional stimulus to
the recruiting service may not be advisable.

In looking forward to the future expense of the operations which may be
found inevitable I derive consolation from the information I receive that
the product of the revenues for the present year is likely to supersede the
necessity of additional burthens on the community for the service of the
ensuing year. This, however, will be better ascertained in the course of
the session, and it is proper to add that the information alluded to
proceeds upon the supposition of no material extension of the spirit of

I can not dismiss the subject of Indian affairs without again recommending
to your consideration the expediency of more adequate provision for giving
energy to the laws throughout our interior frontier and for restraining the
commission of outrages upon the Indians, without which all pacific plans
must prove nugatory. To enable, by competent rewards, the employment of
qualified and trusty persons to reside among them as agents would also
contribute to the preservation of peace and good neighborhood. If in
addition to these expedients an eligible plan could be devised for
promoting civilization among the friendly tribes and for carrying on trade
with them upon a scale equal to their wants and under regulations
calculated to protect them from imposition and extortion, its influence in
cementing their interest with ours could not but be considerable.

The prosperous state of our revenue has been intimated. This would be still
more the case were it not for the impediments which in some places continue
to embarrass the collection of the duties on spirits distilled within the
United States. These impediments have lessened and are lessening in local
extent, and, as applied to the community at large, the contentment with the
law appears to be progressive.

But symptoms of increased opposition having lately manifested themselves in
certain quarters, I judged a special interposition on my part proper and
advisable, and under this impression have issued a proclamation warning
against all unlawful combinations and proceedings having for their object
or tending to obstruct the operation of the law in question, and announcing
that all lawful ways and means would be strictly put in execution for
bringing to justice the infractors thereof and securing obedience thereto.

Measures have also been taken for the prosecution of offenders, and
Congress may be assured that nothing within constitutional and legal limits
which may depend upon me shall be wanting to assert and maintain the just
authority of the laws. In fulfilling this trust I shall count entirely upon
the full cooperation of the other departments of the Government and upon
the zealous support of all good citizens.

I can not forbear to bring again into the view of the Legislature the
subject of a revision of the judiciary system. A representation from the
judges of the Supreme Court, which will be laid before you, points out some
of the inconveniences that are experienced. In the course of the execution
of the laws considerations arise out of the structure of the system which
in some cases tend to relax their efficacy. As connected with this subject,
provisions to facilitate the taking of bail upon processes out of the
courts of the United States and a supplementary definition of offenses
against the Constitution and laws of the Union and of the punishment for
such offenses will, it is presumed, be found worthy of particular

Observations on the value of peace with other nations are unnecessary. It
would be wise, however, by timely provisions to guard against those acts of
our own citizens which might tend to disturb it, and to put ourselves in a
condition to give that satisfaction to foreign nations which we may
sometimes have occasion to require from them. I particularly recommend to
your consideration the means of preventing those aggressions by our
citizens on the territory of other nations, and other infractions of the
law of nations, which, furnishing just subject of complaint, might endanger
our peace with them; and, in general, the maintenance of a friendly
intercourse with foreign powers will be presented to your attention by the
expiration of the law for that purpose, which takes place, if not renewed,
at the close of the present session.

In execution of the authority given by the Legislature measures have been
taken for engaging some artists from abroad to aid in the establishment of
our mint. Others have been employed at home. Provision has been made of the
requisite buildings, and these are now putting into proper condition for
the purposes of the establishment. There has also been a small beginning in
the coinage of half dimes, the want of small coins in circulation calling
the first attention to them.

The regulation of foreign coins in correspondency with the principles of
our national coinage, as being essential to their due operation and to
order in our money concerns, will, I doubt not, be resumed and completed.

It is represented that some provisions in the law which establishes the
post office operate, in experiment, against the transmission of news papers
to distant parts of the country. Should this, upon due inquiry, be found to
be the fact, a full conviction of the importance of facilitating the
circulation of political intelligence and information will, I doubt not,
lead to the application of a remedy.

The adoption of a constitution for the State of Kentucky has been notified
to me. The Legislature will share with me in the satisfaction which arises
from an event interesting to the happiness of the part of the nation to
which it relates and conducive to the general order.

It is proper likewise to inform you that since my last communication on the
subject, and in further execution of the acts severally making provision
for the public debt and for the reduction thereof, three new loans have
been effected, each for 3,000,000 florins--one at Antwerp, at the annual
interest of 4.5%, with an allowance of 4% in lieu of all charges, in the
other 2 at Amsterdam, at the annual interest of 4%, with an allowance of
5.5% in one case and of 5% in the other in lieu of all charges. The rates
of these loans and the circumstances under which they have been made are
confirmations of the high state of our credit abroad.

Among the objects to which these funds have been directed to be applied,
the payment of the debts due to certain foreign officers, according to the
provision made during the last session, has been embraced.

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives:

I entertain a strong hope that the state of the national finances is now
sufficiently matured to enable you to enter upon a systematic and effectual
arrangement for the regular redemption and discharge of the public debt,
according to the right which has been reserved to the Government. No
measure can be more desirable, whether viewed with an eye to its intrinsic
importance or to the general sentiment and wish of the nation.

Provision is likewise requisite for the reimbursement of the loan which has
been made of the Bank of the United States, pursuant to the eleventh
section of the act by which it is incorporated. In fulfilling the public
stipulations in this particular it is expected a valuable saving will be

Appropriations for the current service of the ensuing year and for such
extraordinaries as may require provision will demand, and I doubt not will
engage, your early attention.

Gentlemen of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

I content myself with recalling your attention generally to such objects,
not particularized in my present, as have been suggested in my former
communications to you.

Various temporary laws will expire during the present session. Among these,
that which regulates trade and intercourse with the Indian tribes will
merit particular notice.

The results of your common deliberations hitherto will, I trust, be
productive of solid and durable advantages to our constituents, such as, by
conciliating more and more their ultimate suffrage, will tend to strengthen
and confirm their attachment to that Constitution of Government upon which,
under Divine Providence, materially depend their union, their safety, and
their happiness.

Still further to promote and secure these inestimable ends there is nothing
which can have a more powerful tendency than the careful cultivation of
harmony, combined with a due regard to stability, in the public councils.



State of the Union Address
George Washington
December 3, 1793

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

Since the commencement of the term for which I have been again called into
office no fit occasion has arisen for expressing to my fellow citizens at
large the deep and respectful sense which I feel of the renewed testimony
of public approbation. While on the one hand it awakened my gratitude for
all those instances of affectionate partiality with which I have been
honored by my country, on the other it could not prevent an earnest wish
for that retirement from which no private consideration should ever have
torn me. But influenced by the belief that my conduct would be estimated
according to its real motives, and that the people, and the authorities
derived from them, would support exertions having nothing personal for
their object, I have obeyed the suffrage which commanded me to resume the
Executive power; and I humbly implore that Being on whose will the fate of
nations depends to crown with success our mutual endeavors for the general

As soon as the war in Europe had embraced those powers with whom the United
States have the most extensive relations there was reason to apprehend that
our intercourse with them might be interrupted and our disposition for
peace drawn into question by the suspicions too often entertained by
belligerent nations. It seemed, therefore, to be my duty to admonish our
citizens of the consequences of a contraband trade and of hostile acts to
any of the parties, and to obtain by a declaration of the existing legal
state of things an easier admission of our right to the immunities
belonging to our situation. Under these impressions the proclamation which
will be laid before you was issued.

In this posture of affairs, both new and delicate, I resolved to adopt
general rules which should conform to the treaties and assert the
privileges of the United States. These were reduced into a system, which
will be communicated to you. Although I have not thought of myself at
liberty to forbid the sale of the prizes permitted by our treaty of
commerce with France to be brought into our ports, I have not refused to
cause them to be restored when they were taken within the protection of our
territory, or by vessels commissioned or equipped in a warlike form within
the limits of the United States.

It rests with the wisdom of Congress to correct, improve, or enforce this
plan of procedure; and it will probably be found expedient to extend the
legal code and the jurisdiction of the courts of the United States to many
cases which, though dependent on principles already recognized, demand some
further provisions.

Where individuals shall, within the United States, array themselves in
hostility against any of the powers at war, or enter upon military
expeditions or enterprises within the jurisdiction of the United States, or
usurp and exercise judicial authority within the United States, or where
the penalties on violations of the law of nations may have been
indistinctly marked, or are inadequate--these offenses can not receive too
early and close an attention, and require prompt and decisive remedies.

Whatsoever those remedies may be, they will be well administered by the
judiciary, who possess a long-established course of investigation,
effectual process, and officers in the habit of executing it.

In like manner, as several of the courts have doubted, under particular
circumstances, their power to liberate the vessels of a nation at peace,
and even of a citizen of the United States, although seized under a false
color of being hostile property, and have denied their power to liberate
certain captures within the protection of our territory, it would seem
proper to regulate their jurisdiction in these points. But if the Executive
is to be the resort in either of the two last-mentioned cases, it is hoped
that he will be authorized by law to have facts ascertained by the courts
when for his own information he shall request it.

I can not recommend to your notice measures for the fulfillment of our
duties to the rest of the world without again pressing upon you the
necessity of placing ourselves in a condition of complete defense and of
exacting from them the fulfillment of their duties toward us. The United
States ought not to indulge a persuasion that, contrary to the order of
human events, they will forever keep at a distance those painful appeals to
arms with which the history of every other nation abounds. There is a rank
due to the United States among nations which will be withheld, if not
absolutely lost, by the reputation of weakness. If we desire to avoid
insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of
the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known
that we are at all times ready for war. The documents which will be
presented to you will shew the amount and kinds of arms and military stores
now in our magazines and arsenals; and yet an addition even to these
supplies can not with prudence be neglected, as it would leave nothing to
the uncertainty of procuring warlike apparatus in the moment of public

Nor can such arrangements, with such objects, be exposed to the censure or
jealousy of the warmest friends of republican government. They are
incapable of abuse in the hands of the militia, who ought to possess a
pride in being the depository of the force of the Republic, and may be
trained to a degree of energy equal to every military exigency of the
United States. But it is an inquiry which can not be too solemnly pursued,
whether the act "more effectually to provide for the national defense by
establishing an uniform militia throughout the United States" has organized
them so as to produce their full effect; whether your own experience in the
several States has not detected some imperfections in the scheme, and
whether a material feature in an improvement of it ought not to be to
afford an opportunity for the study of those branches of the military art
which can scarcely ever be attained by practice alone.

The connection of the United States with Europe has become extremely
interesting. The occurrences which relate to it and have passed under the
knowledge of the Executive will be exhibited to Congress in a subsequent

When we contemplate the war on our frontiers, it may be truly affirmed that
every reasonable effort has been made to adjust the causes of dissension
with the Indians north of the Ohio. The instructions given to the
commissioners evince a moderation and equity proceeding from a sincere love
of peace, and a liberality having no restriction but the essential
interests and dignity of the United States. The attempt, however, of an
amicable negotiation having been frustrated, the troops have marched to act
offensively. Although the proposed treaty did not arrest the progress of
military preparation, it is doubtful how far the advance of the season,
before good faith justified active movements, may retard them during the
remainder of the year. From the papers and intelligence which relate to
this important subject you will determine whether the deficiency in the
number of troops granted by law shall be compensated by succors of militia,
or additional encouragements shall be proposed to recruits.

An anxiety has been also demonstrated by the Executive for peace with the
Creeks and the Cherokees. The former have been relieved with corn and with
clothing, and offensive measures against them prohibited during the recess
of Congress. To satisfy the complaints of the latter, prosecutions have
been instituted for the violences committed upon them. But the papers which
will be delivered to you disclose the critical footing on which we stand in
regard to both those tribes, and it is with Congress to pronounce what
shall be done.

After they shall have provided for the present emergency, it will merit
their most serious labors to render tranquillity with the savages permanent
by creating ties of interest. Next to a rigorous execution of justice on
the violators of peace, the establishment of commerce with the Indian
nations in behalf of the United States is most likely to conciliate their
attachment. But it ought to be conducted without fraud, without extortion,
with constant and plentiful supplies, with a ready market for the
commodities of the Indians and a stated price for what they give in payment
and receive in exchange. Individuals will not pursue such a traffic unless
they be allured by the hope of profit; but it will be enough for the United
States to be reimbursed only. Should this recommendation accord with the
opinion of Congress, they will recollect that it can not be accomplished by
any means yet in the hands of the Executive.

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives:

The commissioners charged with the settlement of accounts between the
United States and individual States concluded their important function
within the time limited by law, and the balances struck in their report,
which will be laid before Congress, have been placed on the books of the

On the first day of June last an installment of 1,000,000 florins became
payable on the loans of the United States in Holland. This was adjusted by
a prolongation of the period of reimbursement in nature of a new loan at an
interest of 5% for the term of ten years, and the expenses of this
operation were a commission of 3%.

The first installment of the loan of $2,000,000 from the Bank of the United
States has been paid, as was directed by law. For the second it is
necessary that provision be made.

No pecuniary consideration is more urgent than the regular redemption and
discharge of the public debt. On none can delay be more injurious or an
economy of time more valuable.

The productiveness of the public revenues hitherto has continued to equal
the anticipations which were formed of it, but it is not expected to prove
commensurate with all the objects which have been suggested. Some auxiliary
provisions will therefore, it is presumed, be requisite, and it is hoped
that these may be made consistently with a due regard to the convenience of
our citizens, who can not but be sensible of the true wisdom of
encountering a small present addition to their contributions to obviate a
future accumulation of burthens.

But here I can not forbear to recommend a repeal of the tax on the
transportation of public prints. There is no resource so firm for the
Government of the United States as the affections of the people, guided by
an enlightened policy; and to this primary good nothing can conduce more
than a faithful representation of public proceedings, diffused without
restraint throughout the United States.

An estimate of the appropriations necessary for the current service of the
ensuing year and a statement of a purchase of arms and military stores made
during the recess will be presented to Congress.

Gentlemen of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

The several subjects to which I have now referred open a wide range to your
deliberations and involve some of the choicest interests of our common
country. Permit me to bring to your remembrance the magnitude of your task.
Without an unprejudiced coolness the welfare of the Government may be
hazarded; without harmony as far as consists with freedom of sentiment its
dignity may be lost. But as the legislative proceedings of the United
States will never, I trust, be reproached for the want of temper or of
candor, so shall not the public happiness languish from the want of my
strenuous and warmest cooperation.



State of the Union Address
George Washington
November 19, 1794

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

When we call to mind the gracious indulgence of Heaven by which the
American people became a nation; when we survey the general prosperity of
our country, and look forward to the riches, power, and happiness to which
it seems destined, with the deepest regret do I announce to you that during
your recess some of the citizens of the United States have been found
capable of insurrection. It is due, however, to the character of our
Government and to its stability, which can not be shaken by the enemies of
order, freely to unfold the course of this event.

During the session of the year 1790 it was expedient to exercise the
legislative power granted by the Constitution of the United States "to lay
and collect excises". In a majority of the States scarcely an objection was
heard to this mode of taxation. In some, indeed, alarms were at first
conceived, until they were banished by reason and patriotism. In the four
western counties of Pennsylvania a prejudice, fostered and imbittered by
the artifice of men who labored for an ascendency over the will of others
by the guidance of their passions, produced symptoms of riot and violence.

It is well known that Congress did not hesitate to examine the complaints
which were presented, and to relieve them as far as justice dictated or
general convenience would permit. But the impression which this moderation
made on the discontented did not correspond with what it deserved. The arts
of delusion were no longer confined to the efforts of designing
individuals. The very forbearance to press prosecutions was misinterpreted
into a fear of urging the execution of the laws, and associations of men
began to denounce threats against the officers employed. From a belief that
by a more formal concert their operation might be defeated, certain
self-created societies assumed the tone of condemnation. Hence, while the
greater part of Pennsylvania itself were conforming themselves to the acts
of excise, a few counties were resolved to frustrate them. It is now
perceived that every expectation from the tenderness which had been
hitherto pursued was unavailing, and that further delay could only create
an opinion of impotency or irresolution in the Government. Legal process
was therefore delivered to the marshal against the rioters and delinquent

No sooner was he understood to be engaged in this duty than the vengeance
of armed men was aimed at his person and the person and property of the
inspector of the revenue. They fired upon the marshal, arrested him, and
detained him for some time as a prisoner. He was obliged, by the jeopardy
of his life, to renounce the service of other process on the west side of
the Allegheny Mountain, and a deputation was afterwards sent to him to
demand a surrender of that which he had served. A numerous body repeatedly
attacked the house of the inspector, seized his papers of office, and
finally destroyed by fire his buildings and whatsoever they contained. Both
of these officers, from a just regard to their safety, fled to the seat of
Government, it being avowed that the motives to such outrages were to
compel the resignation of the inspector, to withstand by force of arms the
authority of the United States, and thereby to extort a repeal of the laws
of excise and an alteration in the conduct of Government.

Upon testimony of these facts an associate justice of the Supreme Court of
the United States notified to me that "in the counties of Washington and
Allegheny, in Pennsylvania, laws of the United States were opposed, and the
execution thereof obstructed, by combinations too powerful to be suppressed
by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings or by the powers vested in
the marshal of that district".

On this call, momentous in the extreme, I sought and weighted what might
best subdue the crisis. On the one hand the judiciary was pronounced to be
stripped of its capacity to enforce the laws; crimes which reached the very
existence of social order were perpetrated without control; the friends of
Government were insulted, abused, and overawed into silence or an apparent
acquiescence; and to yield to the treasonable fury of so small a portion of
the United States would be to violate the fundamental principle of our
Constitution, which enjoins that the will of the majority shall prevail. On
the other, to array citizen against citizen, to publish the dishonor of
such excesses, to encounter the expense and other embarrassments of so
distant an expedition, were steps too delicate, too closely interwoven with
many affecting considerations, to be lightly adopted.

I postponed, therefore, the summoning of the militia immediately into the
field, but I required them to be held in readiness, that if my anxious
endeavors to reclaim the deluded and to convince the malignant of their
danger should be fruitless, military force might be prepared to act before
the season should be too far advanced.

My proclamation of the 7th of August last was accordingly issued, and
accompanied by the appointment of commissioners, who were charged to
repair to the scene of insurrection. They were authorized to confer
with any bodies of men or individuals. They were instructed to be
candid and explicit in stating the sensations which had been excited in the
Executive, and his earnest wish to avoid a resort to coercion; to
represent, however, that, without submission, coercion must be the resort;
but to invite them, at the same time, to return to the demeanor of faithful
citizens, by such accommodations as lay within the sphere of Executive
power. Pardon, too, was tendered to them by the Government of the United
States and that of Pennsylvania, upon no other condition than a
satisfactory assurance of obedience to the laws.

Although the report of the commissioners marks their firmness and
abilities, and must unite all virtuous men, by shewing that the means of
conciliation have been exhausted, all of those who had committed or abetted
the tumults did not subscribe the mild form which was proposed as the
atonement, and the indications of a peaceable temper were neither
sufficiently general nor conclusive to recommend or warrant the further
suspension of the march of the militia.

Thus the painful alternative could not be discarded. I ordered the militia
to march, after once more admonishing the insurgents in my proclamation of
the 25th of September last.

It was a task too difficult to ascertain with precision the lowest degree
of force competent to the quelling of the insurrection. From a respect,
indeed, to economy and the ease of my fellow citizens belonging to the
militia, it would have gratified me to accomplish such an estimate. My very
reluctance to ascribe too much importance to the opposition, had its extent
been accurately seen, would have been a decided inducement to the smallest
efficient numbers. In this uncertainty, therefore, I put into motion fifteen
thousand men, as being an army which, according to all human calculation,
would be prompt and adequate in every view, and might, perhaps, by rendering
resistance desperate, prevent the effusion of blood. Quotas had been
assigned to the States of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia,
the governor of Pennsylvania having declared on this occasion an opinion
which justified a requisition to the other States.

As commander in chief of the militia when called into the actual service of
the United States, I have visited the places of general rendezvous to
obtain more exact information and to direct a plan for ulterior movements.
Had there been room for a persuasion that the laws were secure from
obstruction; that the civil magistrate was able to bring to justice such of
the most culpable as have not embraced the proffered terms of amnesty, and
may be deemed fit objects of example; that the friends to peace and good
government were not in need of that aid and countenance which they ought
always to receive, and, I trust, ever will receive, against the vicious and
turbulent, I should have caught with avidity the opportunity of restoring
the militia to their families and homes. But succeeding intelligence has
tended to manifest the necessity of what has been done, it being now
confessed by those who were not inclined to exaggerate the ill conduct of
the insurgents that their malevolence was not pointed merely to a
particular law, but that a spirit inimical to all order has actuated many
of the offenders. If the state of things had afforded reason for the
continuance of my presence with the army, it would not have been
withholden. But every appearance assuring such an issue as will redound to
the reputation and strength of the United States, I have judged it most
proper to resume my duties at the seat of Government, leaving the chief
command with the governor of Virginia.

Still, however, as it is probable that in a commotion like the present,
whatsoever may be the pretense, the purposes of mischief and revenge may
not be laid aside, the stationing of a small force for a certain period in
the four western counties of Pennsylvania will be indispensable, whether we
contemplate the situation of those who are connected with the execution of
the laws or of others who may have exposed themselves by an honorable
attachment to them. Thirty days from the commencement of this session being
the legal limitation of the employment of the militia, Congress can not be
too early occupied with this subject.

Among the discussions which may arise from this aspect of our affairs, and
from the documents which will be submitted to Congress, it will not escape
their observation that not only the inspector of the revenue, but other
officers of the United States in Pennsylvania have, from their fidelity in
the discharge of their functions, sustained material injuries to their
property. The obligation and policy of indemnifying them are strong and
obvious. It may also merit attention whether policy will not enlarge this
provision to the retribution of other citizens who, though not under the
ties of office, may have suffered damage by their generous exertions for
upholding the Constitution and the laws. The amount, even if all the
injured were included, would not be great, and on future emergencies the
Government would be amply repaid by the influence of an example that he who
incurs a loss in its defense shall find a recompense in its liberality.

While there is cause to lament that occurrences of this nature should have
disgraced the name or interrupted the tranquillity of any part of our
community, or should have diverted to a new application any portion of the
public resources, there are not wanting real and substantial consolations
for the misfortune. It has demonstrated that our prosperity rests on solid
foundations, by furnishing an additional proof that my fellow citizens
understand the true principles of government and liberty; that they feel
their inseparable union; that notwithstanding all the devices which have
been used to sway them from their interest and duty, they are not as ready
to maintain the authority of the laws against licentious invasions as they
were to defend their rights against usurpation. It has been a spectacle
displaying to the highest advantage of republican government to behold the
most and the least wealthy of our citizens standing in the same ranks as
private soldiers, preeminently distinguished by being the army of the
Constitution--undeterred by a march of 300 miles over rugged mountains, by
approach of an inclement season, or by any other discouragement. Nor ought
I to omit to acknowledge the efficacious and patriotic cooperation which I
have experienced from the chief magistrates of the States to which my
requisitions have been addressed.

To every description of citizens, let praise be given, but let them
persevere in their affectionate vigilance over that precious depository of
American happiness, the Constitution of the United States. Let them cherish
it, too, for the sake of those who, from every clime, are daily seeking a
dwelling in our land. And when in the calm moments of reflection they shall
have retraced the origin and progress of the insurrection, let them
determine whether it has not been fomented by combinations of men who,
careless of consequences and disregarding the unerring truth that those who
rouse can not always appease a civil convulsion, have disseminated, from an
ignorance or perversion of facts, suspicions, jealousies, and accusations
of the whole Government.

Having thus fulfilled the engagement which I took when I entered into
office, "to the best of my ability to preserve, protect, and defend the
Constitution of the United States", on you, gentlemen, and the people by
whom you are deputed, I rely for support.

In the arrangement to which the possibility of a similar contingency will
naturally draw your attention it ought not to be forgotten that the militia
laws have exhibited such striking defects as could not have been supplied
by the zeal of our citizens. Besides the extraordinary expense and waste,
which are not the least of the defects, every appeal to those laws is
attended with a doubt on its success.

The devising and establishing of a well regulated militia would be a
genuine source of legislative honor and a perfect title to public
gratitude. I therefore entertain a hope that the present session will not
pass without carrying to its full energy the power of organizing, arming,
and disciplining the militia, and thus providing, in the language of the
Constitution, for calling them forth to execute the laws of the Union,
suppress insurrections, and repel invasions.

As auxiliary to the state of our defense, to which Congress can never too
frequently recur, they will not omit to inquire whether the fortifications
which have been already licensed by law be commensurate with our

The intelligence from the army under the command of General Wayne is a
happy presage to our military operations against the hostile Indians north
of the Ohio. From the advices which have been forwarded, the advance which
he has made must have damped the ardor of the savages and weakened their
obstinacy in waging war against the United States. And yet, even at this
late hour, when our power to punish them can not be questioned, we shall
not be unwilling to cement a lasting peace upon terms of candor, equity,
and good neighborhood.

Toward none of the Indian tribes have overtures of friendship been spared.
The Creeks in particular are covered from encroachment by the imposition of
the General Government and that of Georgia. From a desire also to remove
the discontents of the Six Nations, a settlement mediated at Presque Isle,
on Lake Erie, has been suspended, and an agent is now endeavoring to
rectify any misconception into which they may have fallen. But I can not
refrain from again pressing upon your deliberations the plan which I
recommended at the last session for the improvement of harmony with all the
Indians within our limits by the fixing and conducting of trading houses
upon the principles then expressed.

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives:

The time which has elapsed since the commencement of our fiscal measures
has developed our pecuniary resources so as to open the way for a definite
plan for the redemption of the public debt. It is believed that the result
is such as to encourage Congress to consummate this work without delay.
Nothing can more promote the permanent welfare of the nation and nothing
would be more grateful to our constituents. Indeed, whatsoever is
unfinished of our system of public credit can not be benefited by
procrastination; and as far as may be practicable we ought to place that
credit on grounds which can not be disturbed, and to prevent that
progressive accumulation of debt which must ultimately endanger all

An estimate of the necessary appropriations, including the expenditures
into which we have been driven by the insurrection, will be submitted to

Gentlemen of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

The Mint of the United States has entered upon the coinage of the precious
metals, and considerable sums of defective coins and bullion have been
lodged with the Director by individuals. There is a pleasing prospect that
the institution will at no remote day realize the expectation which was
originally formed of its utility.

In subsequent communications certain circumstances of our intercourse with
foreign nations will be transmitted to Congress. However, it may not be
unseasonable to announce that my policy in our foreign transactions has
been to cultivate peace with all the world; to observe the treaties with
pure and absolute faith; to check every deviation from the line of
impartiality; to explain what may have been misapprehended and correct what
may have been injurious to any nation, and having thus acquired the right,
to lose no time in acquiring the ability to insist upon justice being done
to ourselves.

Let us unite, therefore, in imploring the Supreme Ruler of Nations to
spread his holy protection over these United States; to turn the
machinations of the wicked to the confirming of our Constitution; to enable
us at all times to root out internal sedition and put invasion to flight;
to perpetuate to our country that prosperity which his goodness has already
conferred, and to verify the anticipations of this Government being a
safeguard of human rights.



State of the Union Address
George Washington
December 8, 1795

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

I trust I do not deceive myself when I indulge the persuasion that I have
never met you at any period when more than at the present the situation of
our public affairs has afforded just cause for mutual congratulation, and
for inviting you to join with me in profound gratitude to the Author of all
Good for the numerous and extraordinary blessings we enjoy.

The termination of the long, expensive, and distressing war in which we
have been engaged with certain Indians northwest of the Ohio is placed in
the option of the United States by a treaty which the commander of our army
has concluded provisionally with the hostile tribes in that region.

In the adjustment of the terms the satisfaction of the Indians was deemed
worthy no less of the policy than of the liberality of the United States as
the necessary basis of durable tranquillity. The object, it is believed,
has been fully attained. The articles agreed upon will immediately be laid
before the Senate for their consideration.

The Creek and Cherokee Indians, who alone of the Southern tribes had
annoyed our frontiers, have lately confirmed their preexisting treaties
with us, and were giving evidence of a sincere disposition to carry them
into effect by the surrender of the prisoners and property they had taken.
But we have to lament that the fair prospect in this quarter has been once
more clouded by wanton murders, which some citizens of Georgia are
represented to have recently perpetrated on hunting parties of the Creeks,
which have again subjected that frontier to disquietude and danger, which
will be productive of further expense, and may occasion more effusion of
blood. Measures are pursuing to prevent or mitigate the usual consequences
of such outrages, and with the hope of their succeeding at least to avert
general hostility.

A letter from the Emperor of Morocco announces to me his recognition of our
treaty made with his father, the late Emperor, and consequently the
continuance of peace with that power. With peculiar satisfaction I add that
information has been received from an agent deputed on our part to Algiers
importing that the terms of the treaty with the Dey and Regency of that
country had been adjusted in such a manner as to authorize the expectation
of a speedy peace and the restoration of our unfortunate fellow citizens
from a grievous captivity.

The latest advices from our envoy at the Court of Madrid give, moreover,
the pleasing information that he had assurances of a speedy and
satisfactory conclusion of his negotiation. While the event depending upon
unadjusted particulars can not be regarded as ascertained, it is agreeable
to cherish the expectation of an issue which, securing amicably very
essential interests of the United States, will at the same time lay the
foundation of lasting harmony with a power whose friendship we have
uniformly and sincerely desired to cultivate.

Though not before officially disclosed to the House of Representatives,
you, gentlemen, are all apprised that a treaty of amity, commerce, and
navigation has been negotiated with Great Britain, and that the Senate have
advised and consented to its ratification upon a condition which excepts
part of one article. Agreeably thereto, and to the best judgment I was able
to form of the public interest after full and mature deliberation, I have
added my sanction. The result on the part of His Britannic Majesty is
unknown. When received, the subject will without delay be placed before

This interesting summary of our affairs with regard to the foreign powers
between whom and the United States controversies have subsisted, and with
regard also to those of our Indian neighbors with whom we have been in a
state of enmity or misunderstanding, opens a wide field for consoling and
gratifying reflections. If by prudence and moderation on every side the
extinguishment of all the causes of external discord which have heretofore
menaced our tranquillity, on terms compatible with our national rights and
honor, shall be the happy result, how firm and how precious a foundation
will have been laid for accelerating, maturing, and establishing the
prosperity of our country.

Contemplating the internal situation as well as the external relations of
the United States, we discover equal cause for contentment and
satisfaction. While many of the nations of Europe, with their American
dependencies, have been involved in a contest unusually bloody, exhausting,
and calamitous, in which the evils of foreign war have been aggravated by
domestic convulsion and insurrection; in which many of the arts most useful
to society have been exposed to discouragement and decay; in which scarcity
of subsistence has imbittered other sufferings; while even the
anticipations of a return of the blessings of peace and repose are alloyed
by the sense of heavy and accumulating burthens, which press upon all the
departments of industry and threaten to clog the future springs of
government, our favored country, happy in a striking contrast, has enjoyed
tranquillity--a tranquillity the more satisfactory because maintained at
the expense of no duty. Faithful to ourselves, we have violated no
obligation to others.

Our agriculture, commerce, and manufactures prosper beyond former example,
the molestations of our trade (to prevent a continuance of which, however,
very pointed remonstrances have been made) being overbalanced by the
aggregate benefits which it derives from a neutral position. Our population
advances with a celerity which, exceeding the most sanguine calculations,
proportionally augments our strength and resources, and guarantees our
future security.

Every part of the Union displays indications of rapid and various
improvement; and with burthens so light as scarcely to be perceived, with
resources fully adequate to our present exigencies, with governments
founded on the genuine principles of rational liberty, and with mild and
wholesome laws, is it too much to say that our country exhibits a spectacle
of national happiness never surpassed, if ever before equaled?

Placed in a situation every way so auspicious, motives of commanding force
impel us, with sincere acknowledgment to Heaven and pure love to our
country, to unite our efforts to preserve, prolong, and improve our immense
advantages. To cooperate with you in this desirable work is a fervent and
favorite wish of my heart.

It is a valuable ingredient in the general estimate of our welfare that the
part of our country which was lately the scene of disorder and insurrection
now enjoys the blessings of quiet and order. The misled have abandoned
their errors, and pay the respect to our Constitution and laws which is due
from good citizens to the public authorities of the society. These
circumstances have induced me to pardon generally the offenders here
referred to, and to extend forgiveness to those who had been adjudged to
capital punishment. For though I shall always think it a sacred duty to
exercise with firmness and energy the constitutional powers with which I am
vested, yet it appears to me no less consistent with the public good than
it is with my personal feelings to mingle in the operations of Government
every degree of moderation and tenderness which the national justice,
dignity, and safety may permit.

Gentlemen: Among the objects which will claim your attention in the course
of the session, a review of our military establishment is not the least
important. It is called for by the events which have changed, and may be
expected still further to change, the relative situation of our frontiers.
In this review you will doubtless allow due weight to the considerations
that the questions between us and certain foreign powers are not yet
finally adjusted, that the war in Europe is not yet terminated, and that
our Western posts, when recovered, will demand provision for garrisoning
and securing them. A statement of our present military force will be laid
before you by the Department of War.

With the review of our Army establishment is naturally connected that of
the militia. It will merit inquiry what imperfections in the existing plan
further experience may have unfolded. The subject is of so much moment in
my estimation as to excite a constant solicitude that the consideration of
it may be renewed until the greatest attainable perfection shall be
accomplished. Time is wearing away some advantages for forwarding the
object, while none better deserves the persevering attention of the public

While we indulge the satisfaction which the actual condition of our Western
borders so well authorizes, it is necessary that we should not lose sight
of an important truth which continually receives new confirmations, namely,
that the provisions heretofore made with a view to the protection of the
Indians from the violences of the lawless part of our frontier inhabitants
are insufficient. It is demonstrated that these violences can now be
perpetrated with impunity, and it can need no argument to prove that unless
the murdering of Indians can be restrained by bringing the murderers to
condign punishment, all the exertions of the Government to prevent
destructive retaliations by the Indians will prove fruitless and all our
present agreeable prospects illusory. The frequent destruction of innocent
women and children, who are chiefly the victims of retaliation, must
continue to shock humanity, and an enormous expense to drain the Treasury
of the Union.

To enforce upon the Indians the observance of justice it is indispensable
that there shall be competent means of rendering justice to them. If these
means can be devised by the wisdom of Congress, and especially if there can
be added an adequate provision for supplying the necessities of the Indians
on reasonable terms (a measure the mention of which I the more readily
repeat, as in all the conferences with them they urge it with solicitude),
I should not hesitate to entertain a strong hope of rendering our
tranquillity permanent. I add with pleasure that the probability even of
their civilization is not diminished by the experiments which have been
thus far made under the auspices of Government. The accomplishment of this
work, if practicable, will reflect undecaying luster on our national
character and administer the most grateful consolations that virtuous minds
can know.

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives:

The state of our revenue, with the sums which have been borrowed and
reimbursed pursuant to different acts of Congress, will be submitted from
the proper Department, together with an estimate of the appropriations
necessary to be made for the service of the ensuing year.

Whether measures may not be advisable to reinforce the provision of the
redemption of the public debt will naturally engage your examination.
Congress have demonstrated their sense to be, and it were superfluous to
repeat mine, that whatsoever will tend to accelerate the honorable
extinction of our public debt accords as much with the true interest of our
country as with the general sense of our constituents.

Gentlemen of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

The statements which will be laid before you relative to the Mint will shew
the situation of that institution and the necessity of some further
legislative provisions for carrying the business of it more completely into
effect, and for checking abuses which appear to be arising in particular

The progress in providing materials for the frigates and in building them,
the state of the fortifications of our harbors, the measures which have
been pursued for obtaining proper sites for arsenals and for replenishing
our magazines with military stores, and the steps which have been taken
toward the execution of the law for opening a trade with the Indians will
likewise be presented for the information of Congress.

Temperate discussion of the important subjects which may arise in the
course of the session and mutual forbearance where there is a difference of
opinion are too obvious and necessary for the peace, happiness, and welfare
of our country to need any recommendation of mine.



State of the Union Address
George Washington
December 7, 1796

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

In recurring to the internal situation of our country since I had last the
pleasure to address you, I find ample 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 insure 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 can not 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

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 preexisting 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 Brittanic Majesty necessarily
procrastinated the reception of the posts stipulated to be delivered beyond
the date assigned for that event. As soon, however, as the Governor-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, Michilimackinac, 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 3rd commissioner. The whole met at St. Andrew's, 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 at Boston in August,
1797, for the final decision of the question.

Other commissioners appointed on the part of the United States, agreeably
to the 7th article of the treaty with Great Britain, relative to captures
and condemnation of vessels and other property, met the commissioners of
His Britannic Majesty in London in August last, when John Trumbull, esq.,
was chosen by lot for the 5th 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 6th 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 Catholic
Majesty's provinces of East and West Florida should meet at the Natchez
before the expiration of 6 months after the exchange of the ratifications,
which was effected at Aranjuez on the 25th day of April; and the
troops of His Catholic Majesty occupying any posts within the limits of
the United States were within the same time 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
Catholic 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 sea-men, 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. The agent 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 further provision
necessary. The actual liberation of all our citizens who were prisoners in
Algiers, while it gratifies every feeling of 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 promises them at no distant period the requisite supply of
sea-men, and their means in other respects favor the undertaking. It is an
encouragement, likewise, that their particular situation will give weight
and influence to a moderate naval force in their hands. Will it not, then,
be advisable to begin without delay to provide and lay up the materials for
the building and equipping of ships of war, and to proceed in the work by
degrees, in proportion as our resources shall render it practicable without
inconvenience, so that a future war of Europe may not find our commerce in
the same unprotected state in which it was found by the present?

Congress have repeatedly, and not without success, directed their attention
to the encouragement of manufactures. The object is of too much consequence
not to insure a continuance of their efforts in every way which shall
appear eligible. As a general rule, manufactures on public account are
inexpedient; but where the state of things in a country leaves little hope
that certain branches of manufacture will for a great length of time
obtain, when these are of a nature essential to the furnishing and
equipping of the public force in time of war, are not establishments for
procuring them on public account to the extent of the ordinary demand for
the public service recommended by strong considerations of national policy
as an exception to the general rule?

Ought our country to remain in such cases dependent on foreign supply,
precarious because liable to be interrupted? If the necessary article
should in this mode cost more in time of peace, will not the security and
independence thence arising form an ample compensation?

Establishments of this sort, commensurate only with the calls of the public
service in time of peace, will in time of war easily be extended in
proportion to the exigencies of the Government, and may even perhaps be
made to yield a surplus for the supply of our citizens at large, so as to
mitigate the privations from the interruption of their trade. If adopted,
the plan ought to exclude all those branches which are already, or likely
soon to be, established in the country, in order that there may be no danger
of interference with pursuits of individual industry.

It will not be doubted that with reference either to individual or national
welfare agriculture is of primary importance. In proportion as nations
advance in population and other circumstances of maturity this truth
becomes more apparent, and renders the cultivation of the soil more and
more an object of public patronage. Institutions for promoting it grow up,
supported by the public purse; and to what object can it be dedicated with
greater propriety?

Among the means which have been employed to this end none have been
attended with greater success than the establishment of boards (composed of
proper characters) charged with collecting and diffusing information, and
enabled by premiums and small pecuniary aids to encourage and assist a
spirit of discovery and improvement. This species of establishment
contributes doubly to the increase of improvement by stimulating to
enterprise and experiment, and by drawing to a common center the results
everywhere of individual skill and observation, and spreading them thence
over the whole nation. Experience accordingly has shewn that they are very
cheap instruments of immense national benefits.

I have heretofore proposed to the consideration of Congress the expediency
of establishing a national university and also a military academy. The
desirableness of both these institutions has so constantly increased with
every new view I have taken of the subject that I can not omit the
opportunity of once for all recalling your attention to them.

The assembly to which I address myself is too enlightened not to be fully
sensible how much a flourishing state of the arts and sciences contributes
to national prosperity and reputation.

True it is that our country, much to its honor, contains many seminaries of
learning highly repeatable and useful; but the funds upon which they rest
are too narrow to command the ablest professors in the different
departments of liberal knowledge for the institution contemplated, though
they would be excellent auxiliaries.

Amongst the motives to such an institution, the assimilation of the
principles, opinions, and manners of our country-men by the common
education of a portion of our youth from every quarter well deserves
attention. The more homogenous our citizens can be made in these
particulars the greater will be our prospect of permanent union; and a
primary object of such a national institution should be the education of
our youth in the science of government. In a republic what species of
knowledge can be equally important and what duty more pressing on its
legislature than to patronize a plan for communicating it to those who are
to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?

The institution of a military academy is also recommended by cogent
reasons. However pacific the general policy of a nation may be, it ought
never to be without an adequate stock of military knowledge for
emergencies. The first would impair the energy of its character, and both
would hazard its safety or expose it to greater evils when war could not be
avoided; besides that, war might often not depend upon its own choice. In
proportion as the observance of pacific maxims might exempt a nation from
the necessity of practicing the rules of the military art ought to be its
care in preserving and transmitting, by proper establishments, the
knowledge of that art.

Whatever argument may be drawn from particular examples superficially
viewed, a thorough examination of the subject will evince that the art of
war is at once comprehensive and complicated, that it demands much previous
study, and that the possession of it in its most improved and perfect state
is always of great moment to the security of a nation. This, therefore,
ought to be a serious care of every government, and for this purpose an
academy where a regular course of instruction is given is an obvious
expedient which different nations have successfully employed.

The compensation to the officers of the United States in various instances,
and in none more than in respect to the most important stations, appear to
call for legislative revision. The consequences of a defective provision
are of serious import to the Government. If private wealth is to supply the
defect of public retribution, it will greatly contract the sphere within
which the selection of character for office is to be made, and will
proportionally diminish the probability of a choice of men able as well as
upright. Besides that, it should be repugnant to the vital principles of
our Government virtually to exclude from public trusts talents and virtue
unless accompanied by wealth.

While in our external relations some serious inconveniences and
embarrassments have been overcome and others lessened, it is with much pain
and deep regret I mention that circumstances of a very unwelcome nature
have lately occurred. Our trade has suffered and is suffering extensive
injuries in the West Indies from the cruisers and agents of the French
Republic, and communications have been received from its minister here
which indicate the danger of a further disturbance of our commerce by its
authority, and which are in other respects far from agreeable.

It has been my constant, sincere, and earnest wish, in conformity with that
of our nation, to maintain cordial harmony and a perfectly friendly
understanding with that Republic. This wish remains unabated, and I shall
persevere in the endeavor to fulfill it to the utmost extent of what shall
be consistent with a just and indispensable regard to the rights and honor
of our country; nor will I easily cease to cherish the expectation that a
spirit of justice, candor, and friendship on the part of the Republic will
eventually insure success.

In pursuing this course, however, I can not forget what is due to the
character of our Government and nation, or to a full and entire confidence
in the good sense, patriotism, self-respect, and fortitude of my

I reserve for a special message a more particular communication on this
interesting subject.

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives:

I have directed an estimate of the appropriations necessary for the service
of the ensuing year to be submitted from the proper Department, with a view
of the public receipts and expenditures to the latest period to which an
account can be prepared.

It is with satisfaction I am able to inform you that the revenues of the
United States continue in a state of progressive improvement.

A reenforcement of the existing provisions for discharging our public debt
was mentioned in my address at the opening of the last session. Some
preliminary steps were taken toward it, the maturing of which will no doubt
engage your zealous attention during the present. I will only add that it
will afford me a heart-felt satisfaction to concur in such further measures
as will ascertain to our country the prospect of a speedy extinguishment of
the debt. Posterity may have cause to regret if from any motive intervals
of tranquillity are left unimproved for accelerating this valuable end.

Gentlemen of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

My solicitude to see the militia of the United States placed on an
efficient establishment has been so often and so ardently expressed that I
shall but barely recall the subject to your view on the present occasion,
at the same time that I shall submit to your inquiry whether our harbors
are yet sufficiently secured.

The situation in which I now stand for the last time, in the midst of the
representatives of the people of the United States, naturally recalls the
period when the administration of the present form of government commenced,
and I can not omit the occasion to congratulate you and my country on the
success of the experiment, nor to repeat my fervent supplications to the
Supreme Ruler of the Universe and Sovereign Arbiter of Nations that His
providential care may still be extended to the United States, that the
virtue and happiness of the people may be preserved, and that the
Government which they have instituted for the protection of their liberties
may be perpetual.



State of the Union Address
John Adams
November 22, 1797

Gentlemen of the Senate and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives:

I was for some time apprehensive that it would be necessary, on account of
the contagious sickness which afflicted the city of Philadelphia, to
convene the National Legislature at some other place. This measure it was
desirable to avoid, because it would occasion much public inconvenience and
a considerable public expense and add to the calamities of the inhabitants
of this city, whose sufferings must have excited the sympathy of all their
fellow citizens. Therefore, after taking measures to ascertain the state
and decline of the sickness, I postponed my determination, having hopes,
now happily realized, that, without hazard to the lives or health of the
members, Congress might assemble at this place, where it was next by law to
meet. I submit, however, to your consideration whether a power to postpone
the meeting of Congress, without passing the time fixed by the Constitution
upon such occasions, would not be a useful amendment to the law of 1794.

Although I can not yet congratulate you on the reestablishment of peace in
Europe and the restoration of security to the persons and properties of our
citizens from injustice and violence at sea, we have, nevertheless,
abundant cause of gratitude to the source of benevolence and influence for
interior tranquillity and personal security, for propitious seasons,
prosperous agriculture, productive fisheries, and general improvements,
and, above all, for a rational spirit of civil and religious liberty and a
calm but steady determination to support our sovereignty, as well as our
moral and our religious principles, against all open and secret attacks.

Our envoys extraordinary to the French Republic embarked--one in July, the
other in August--to join their colleague in Holland. I have received
intelligence of the arrival of both of them in Holland, from whence they
all proceeded on their journeys to Paris within a few days of the 19th of
September. Whatever may be the result of this mission, I trust that nothing
will have been omitted on my part to conduct the negotiation to a
successful conclusion, on such equitable terms as may be compatible with
the safety, honor and interest of the United States. Nothing, in the mean
time, will contribute so much to the preservation of peace and the
attainment of justice as manifestation of that energy and unanimity of
which on many former occasions the people of the United States have given
such memorable proofs, and the exertion of those resources for national
defense which a beneficent Providence has kindly placed within their

It may be confidently asserted that nothing has occurred since the
adjournment of Congress which renders inexpedient those precautionary
measures recommended by me to the consideration of the two Houses at the
opening of your late extraordinary session. If that system was then
prudent, it is more so now, as increasing depredations strengthen the
reasons for its adoption.

Indeed, whatever may be the issue of the negotiation with France, and
whether the war in Europe is or is not to continue, I hold it most certain
that permanent tranquillity and order will not soon be obtained. The state
of society has so long been disturbed, the sense of moral and religious
obligations so much weakened, public faith and national honor have been so
impaired, respect to treaties has been so diminished, and the law of
nations has lost so much of its force, while pride, ambition, avarice and
violence have been so long unrestrained, there remains no reasonable ground
on which to raise an expectation that a commerce without protection or
defense will not be plundered.

The commerce of the United States is essential, if not to their existence,
at least to their comfort, their growth, prosperity, and happiness. The
genius, character, and habits of the people are highly commercial. Their
cities have been formed and exist upon commerce. Our agriculture,
fisheries, arts, and manufactures are connected with and depend upon it. In
short, commerce has made this country what it is, and it can not be
destroyed or neglected without involving the people in poverty and
distress. Great numbers are directly and solely supported by navigation.
The faith of society is pledged for the preservation of the rights of
commercial and sea faring no less than of the other citizens. Under this
view of our affairs, I should hold myself guilty of a neglect of duty if I
forbore to recommend that we should make every exertion to protect our
commerce and to place our country in a suitable posture of defense as the
only sure means of preserving both.

I have entertained an expectation that it would have been in my power at
the opening of this session to have communicated to you the agreeable
information of the due execution of our treaty with His Catholic Majesty
respecting the withdrawing of his troops from our territory and the
demarcation of the line of limits, but by the latest authentic intelligence
Spanish garrisons were still continued within our country, and the running
of the boundary line had not been commenced. These circumstances are the
more to be regretted as they can not fail to affect the Indians in a manner
injurious to the United States. Still, however, indulging the hope that the
answers which have been given will remove the objections offered by the
Spanish officers to the immediate execution of the treaty, I have judged it
proper that we should continue in readiness to receive the posts and to run
the line of limits. Further information on this subject will be
communicated in the course of the session.

In connection with this unpleasant state of things on our western frontier
it is proper for me to mention the attempts of foreign agents to alienate
the affections of the Indian nations and to excite them to actual
hostilities against the United States. Great activity has been exerted by
those persons who have insinuated themselves among the Indian tribes
residing within the territory of the United States to influence them to
transfer their affections and force to a foreign nation, to form them into
a confederacy, and prepare them for war against the United States. Although
measures have been taken to counteract these infractions of our rights, to
prevent Indian hostilities, and to preserve entire their attachment to the
United States, it is my duty to observe that to give a better effect to
these measures and to obviate the consequences of a repetition of such
practices a law providing adequate punishment for such offenses may be

The commissioners appointed under the 5th article of the treaty of amity,
commerce, and navigation between the United States and Great Britain to
ascertain the river which was truly intended under the name of the river
St. Croix mentioned in the treaty of peace, met at Passamaquoddy Bay in
1796 October, and viewed the mouths of the rivers in question and the
adjacent shores and islands, and, being of opinion that actual surveys of
both rivers to their sources were necessary, gave to the agents of the two
nations instructions for that purpose, and adjourned to meet at Boston in
August. They met, but the surveys requiring more time than had been
supposed, and not being then completed, the commissioners again adjourned,
to meet at Providence, in the State of Rhode Island, in June next, when we
may expect a final examination and decision.

The commissioners appointed in pursuance of the 6th article of the treaty
met at Philadelphia in May last to examine the claims of British subjects
for debts contracted before the peace and still remaining due to them from
citizens or inhabitants of the United States. Various causes have hitherto
prevented any determinations, but the business is now resumed, and
doubtless will be prosecuted without interruption.

Several decisions on the claims of citizens of the United States for losses
and damages sustained by reason of irregular and illegal captures or
condemnations of their vessels or other property have been made by the
commissioners in London conformably to the 7th article of the treaty. The
sums awarded by the commissioners have been paid by the British Government.
A considerable number of other claims, where costs and damages, and not
captured property, were the only objects in question, have been decided by
arbitration, and the sums awarded to the citizens of the United States have
also been paid.

The commissioners appointed agreeably to the 21st article of our treaty
with Spain met at Philadelphia in the summer past to examine and decide on
the claims of our citizens for losses they have sustained in consequence of
their vessels and cargoes having been taken by the subjects of His Catholic
Majesty during the late war between Spain and France. Their sittings have
been interrupted, but are now resumed.

The United States being obligated to make compensation for the losses and
damages sustained by British subjects, upon the award of the commissioners
acting under the 6th article of the treaty with Great Britain, and for the
losses and damages sustained by British subjects by reason of the capture
of their vessels and merchandise taken within the limits and jurisdiction
of the United States and brought into their ports, or taken by vessels
originally armed in ports of the United States, upon the awards of the
commissioners acting under the 7th article of the same treaty, it is
necessary that provision be made for fulfilling these obligations.

The numerous captures of American vessels by the cruisers of the French
Republic and of some by those of Spain have occasioned considerable
expenses in making and supporting the claims of our citizens before their
tribunals. The sums required for this purpose have in divers instances been
disbursed by the consuls of the United States. By means of the same
captures great numbers of our sea men have been thrown ashore in foreign
countries, destitute of all means of subsistence, and the sick in
particular have been exposed to grievous sufferings. The consuls have in
these cases also advanced moneys for their relief. For these advances they
reasonably expect reimbursements from the United States.

The consular act relative to sea men requires revision and amendment. The
provisions for their support in foreign countries and for their return are
found to be inadequate and ineffectual. Another provision seems necessary
to be added to the consular act. Some foreign vessels have been discovered
sailing under the flag of the United States and with forged papers. It
seldom happens that the consuls can detect this deception, because they
have no authority to demand an inspection of the registers and sea

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives:

It is my duty to recommend to your serious consideration those objects
which by the Constitution are placed particularly within your sphere--the
national debts and taxes.

Since the decay of the feudal system, by which the public defense was
provided for chiefly at the expense of individuals, the system of loans has
been introduced, and as no nation can raise within the year by taxes
sufficient sums for its defense and military operations in time of war the
sums loaned and debts contracted have necessarily become the subjects of
what have been called funding systems. The consequences arising from the
continual accumulation of public debts in other countries ought to admonish
us to be careful to prevent their growth in our own. The national defense
must be provided for as well as the support of Government; but both should
be accomplished as much as possible by immediate taxes, and as little as
possible by loans.

The estimates for the service of the ensuing year will by my direction be
laid before you.

Gentlemen of the Senate and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives:

We are met together at a most interesting period. The situations of the
principal powers of Europe are singular and portentous. Connected with some
by treaties and with all by commerce, no important event there can be
indifferent to us. Such circumstances call with peculiar importunity not
less for a disposition to unite in all those measures on which the honor,
safety, and prosperity of our country depend than for all the exertions of
wisdom and firmness.

In all such measures you may rely on my zealous and hearty concurrence.


State of the Union Address
John Adams
December 8, 1798

Gentlemen of the Senate and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives:

While with reverence and resignation we contemplate the dispensations of
Divine Providence in the alarming and destructive pestilence with which
several of our cities and towns have been visited, there is cause for
gratitude and mutual congratulations that the malady has disappeared and
that we are again permitted to assemble in safety at the seat of Government
for the discharge of our important duties. But when we reflect that this
fatal disorder has within a few years made repeated ravages in some of our
principal sea ports, and with increased malignancy, and when we consider
the magnitude of the evils arising from the interruption of public and
private business, whereby the national interests are deeply affected, I
think it my duty to invite the Legislature of the Union to examine the
expediency of establishing suitable regulations in aid of the health laws
of the respective States; for these being formed on the idea that
contagious sickness may be communicated through the channels of commerce,
there seems to be a necessity that Congress, who alone can regulate trade,
should frame a system which, while it may tend to preserve the general
health, may be compatible with the interests of commerce and the safety of
the revenue.

While we think on this calamity and sympathize with the immediate
sufferers, we have abundant reason to present to the Supreme Being our
annual oblations of gratitude for a liberal participation in the ordinary
blessings of His providence. To the usual subjects of gratitude I can not
omit to add one of the first importance to our well being and safety; I mean
that spirit which has arisen in our country against the menaces and
aggression of a foreign nation. A manly sense of national honor, dignity,
and independence has appeared which, if encouraged and invigorated by every
branch of the Government, will enable us to view undismayed the enterprises
of any foreign power and become the sure foundation of national prosperity
and glory.

The course of the transactions in relation to the United States and France
which have come to my knowledge during your recess will be made the subject
of a future communication. That communication will confirm the ultimate
failure of the measures which have been taken by the Government of the
United States toward an amicable adjustment of differences with that power.
You will at the same time perceive that the French Government appears
solicitous to impress the opinion that it is averse to a rupture with this
country, and that it has in a qualified manner declared itself willing to
receive a minister from the United States for the purpose of restoring a
good understanding. It is unfortunate for professions of this kind that
they should be expressed in terms which may countenance the inadmissible
pretension of a right to prescribe the qualifications which a minister from
the United States should possess, and that while France is asserting the
existence of a disposition on her part to conciliate with sincerity the
differences which have arisen, the sincerity of a like disposition on the
part of the United States, of which so many demonstrative proofs have been
given, should even be indirectly questioned.

It is also worthy of observation that the decree of the Directory alleged
to be intended to restrain the depredations of French cruisers on our
commerce has not given, and can not give, any relief. It enjoins them to
conform to all the laws of France relative to cruising and prizes, while
these laws are themselves the sources of the depredations of which we have
so long, so justly, and so fruitlessly complained.

The law of France enacted in January last, which subjects to capture and
condemnation neutral vessels and their cargoes if any portion of the latter
are of British fabric or produce, although the entire property belong to
neutrals, instead of being rescinded has lately received a confirmation by
the failure of a proposition for its repeal. While this law, which is an
unequivocal act of war on the commerce of the nations it attacks, continues
in force those nations can see in the French Government only a power
regardless of their essential rights, of their independence and
sovereignty; and if they possess the means they can reconcile nothing with
their interest and honor but a firm resistance.

Hitherto, therefore, nothing is discoverable in the conduct of France which
ought to change or relax our measures of defense. On the contrary, to
extend and invigorate them is our true policy. We have no reason to regret
that these measures have been thus far adopted and pursued, and in
proportion as we enlarge our view of the portentous and incalculable
situation of Europe we shall discover new and cogent motives for the full
development of our energies and resources.

But in demonstrating by our conduct that we do not fear war in the
necessary protection of our rights and honor we shall give no room to infer
that we abandon the desire of peace. An efficient preparation for war can
alone insure peace. It is peace that we have uniformly and perseveringly
cultivated, and harmony between us and France may be restored at her
option. But to send another minister without more determinate assurances
that he would be received would be an act of humiliation to which the
United States ought not to submit. It must therefore be left with France
(if she is indeed desirous of accommodation) to take the requisite steps.

The United States will steadily observe the maxims by which they have
hitherto been governed. They will respect the sacred rights of embassy; and
with a sincere disposition on the part of France to desist from hostility,
to make reparation for the injuries heretofore inflicted on our commerce,
and to do justice in future, there will be no obstacle to the restoration
of a friendly intercourse.

In making to you this declaration I give a pledge to France and the world
that the Executive authority of this country still adheres to the humane
and pacific policy which has invariably governed its proceedings, in
conformity with the wishes of the other branches of the Government and of
the people of the United States. But considering the late manifestations of
her policy toward foreign nations, I deem it a duty deliberately and
solemnly to declare my opinion that whether we negotiate with her or not,
vigorous preparations for war will be alike indispensable. These alone will
give to us an equal treaty and insure its observance.

Among the measures of preparation which appear expedient, I take the
liberty to recall your attention to the naval establishment. The beneficial
effects of the small naval armament provided under the acts of the last
session are known and acknowledged. Perhaps no country ever experienced
more sudden and remarkable advantages from any measure of policy than we
have derived from the arming for our maritime protection and defense.

We ought without loss of time to lay the foundation for an increase of our
Navy to a size sufficient to guard our coast and protect our trade. Such a
naval force as it is doubtless in the power of the United States to create
and maintain would also afford to them the best means of general defense by
facilitating the safe transportation of troops and stores to every part of
our extensive coast. To accomplish this important object, a prudent
foresight requires that systematic measures be adopted for procuring at all
times the requisite timber and other supplies. In what manner this shall be
done I leave to your consideration.

I will now advert, gentlemen, to some matters of less moment, but proper to
be communicated to the National Legislature.

After the Spanish garrisons had evacuated the posts they occupied at the
Natchez and Walnut Hills the commissioner of the United States commences
his observations to ascertain the point near the Mississippi which
terminated the northernmost part of the 31st degree of north latitude. From
thence he proceeded to run the boundary line between the United States and
Spain. He was afterwards joined by the Spanish commissioner, when the work
of the former was confirmed, and they proceeded together to the demarcation
of the line.

Recent information renders it probable that the Southern Indians, either
instigated to oppose the demarcation or jealous of the consequences of
suffering white people to run a line over lands to which the Indian title
had not been extinguished, have ere this time stopped the progress of the
commissioners; and considering the mischiefs which may result from
continuing the demarcation in opposition to the will of the Indian tribes,
the great expense attending it, and that the boundaries which the
commissioners have actually established probably extend at least as far as
the Indian title has been extinguished, it will perhaps become expedient
and necessary to suspend further proceedings by recalling our

The commissioners appointed in pursuance of the 5th article of the treaty
of amity, commerce, and navigation between the United States and His
Britannic Majesty to determine what river was truly intended under the name
of the river St. Croix mentioned in the treaty of peace, and forming a part
of the boundary therein described, have finally decided that question. On
the 25th of October they made their declaration that a river called
Scoodiac, which falls into Passamaquoddy Bay at its northwestern quarter,
was the true St. Croix intended in the treaty of peace, as far as its great
fork, where one of its streams comes from the westward and the other from
the northward, and that the latter stream is the continuation of the St.
Croix to its source.

This decision, it is understood, will preclude all contention among the
individual claimants, as it seems that the Scoodiac and its northern branch
bound the grants of land which have been made by the respective adjoining

A subordinate question, however, it has been suggested, still remains to be
determined. Between the mouth of the St. Croix as now settled and what is
usually called the Bay of Fundy lie a number of valuable islands. The
commissioners have not continued the boundary line through any channel of
these islands, and unless the bay of Passamaquoddy be a part of the Bay of
Fundy this further adjustment of boundary will be necessary, but it is
apprehended that this will not be a matter of any difficulty.

Such progress has been made in the examination and decision of cases of
captures and condemnations of American vessels which were the subject of
the 7th article of the treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation between
the United States and Great Britain that it is supposed the commissioners
will be able to bring their business to a conclusion in August of the
ensuing year.

The commissioners acting under the 25th article of the treaty between the
United States and Spain have adjusted most of the claims of our citizens
for losses sustained in consequence of their vessels and cargoes having
been taken by the subjects of His Catholic Majesty during the late war
between France and Spain.

Various circumstances have concurred to delay the execution of the law for
augmenting the military establishment, among these the desire of obtaining
the fullest information to direct the best selection of officers. As this
object will now be speedily accomplished, it is expected that the raising
and organizing of the troops will proceed without obstacle and with

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives:

I have directed an estimate of the appropriations which will be necessary
for the service of the ensuing year to be laid before you, accompanied with
a view of the public receipts and expenditures to a recent period.

It will afford you satisfaction to infer the great extent and solidity of
the public resources from the prosperous state of the finances,
notwithstanding the unexampled embarrassments which have attended commerce.
When you reflect on the conspicuous examples of patriotism and liberality
which have been exhibited by our mercantile fellow citizens, and how great
a proportion of the public resources depends on their enterprise, you will
naturally consider whether their convenience can not be promoted and
reconciled with the security of the revenue by a revision of the system by
which the collection is at present regulated.

During your recess measures have been steadily pursued for effecting the
valuations and returns directed by the act of the last session, preliminary
to the assessment and collection of a direct tax. No other delays or
obstacles have been experienced except such as were expected to arise from
the great extent of our country and the magnitude and novelty of the
operation, and enough has been accomplished to assure a fulfillment of the
views of the Legislature.

Gentlemen of the Senate and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives:

I can not close this address without once more adverting to our political
situation and inculcating the essential importance of uniting in the
maintenance of our dearest interests; and I trust that by the temper and
wisdom of your proceedings and by a harmony of measures we shall secure to
our country that weight and respect to which it is so justly entitled.


State of the Union Address
John Adams
December 3, 1799

Gentlemen of the Senate and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives:

It is with peculiar satisfaction that I meet the 6th Congress of the United
States of America. Coming from all parts of the Union at this critical and
interesting period, the members must be fully possessed of the sentiments
and wishes of our constituents.

The flattering prospects of abundance from the labors of the people by land
and by sea; the prosperity of our extended commerce, notwithstanding
interruptions occasioned by the belligerent state of a great part of the
world; the return of health, industry, and trade to those cities which have
lately been afflicted with disease, and the various and inestimable
advantages, civil and religious, which, secured under our happy frame of
government, are continued to us unimpaired, demand of the whole American
people sincere thanks to a benevolent Deity for the merciful dispensations
of His providence.

But while these numerous blessings are recollected, it is a painful duty to
advert to the ungrateful return which has been made for them by some of the
people in certain counties of Pennsylvania, where, seduced by the arts and
misrepresentations of designing men, they have openly resisted the law
directing the valuation of houses and lands. Such defiance was given to the
civil authority as rendered hopeless all further attempts by judicial
process to enforce the execution of the law, and it became necessary to
direct a military force to be employed, consisting of some companies of
regular troops, volunteers, and militia, by whose zeal and activity, in
cooperation with the judicial power, order and submission were restored and
many of the offenders arrested. Of these, some have been convicted of
misdemeanors, and others, charged with various crimes, remain to be tried.

To give due effect to the civil administration of Government and to insure
a just execution of the laws, a revision and amendment of the judiciary
system is indispensably necessary. In this extensive country it can not but
happen that numerous questions respecting the interpretation of the laws
and the rights and duties of officers and citizens must arise. On the one
hand, the laws should be executed; on the other, individuals should be
guarded from oppression. Neither of these objects is sufficiently assured
under the present organization of the judicial department. I therefore
earnestly recommend the subject to your serious consideration.

Persevering in the pacific and humane policy which had been invariably
professed and sincerely pursued by the Executive authority of the United
States, when indications were made on the part of the French Republic of a
disposition to accommodate the existing differences between the two
countries, I felt it to be my duty to prepare for meeting their advances by
a nomination of ministers upon certain conditions which the honor of our
country dictated, and which its moderation had given it a right to

The assurances which were required of the French Government previous to the
departure of our envoys have been given through their minister of foreign
relations, and I have directed them to proceed on their mission to Paris.
They have full power to conclude a treaty, subject to the constitutional
advice and consent of the Senate. The characters of these gentlemen are
sure pledges to their country that nothing incompatible with its honor or
interest, nothing inconsistent with our obligations of good faith or
friendship to any other nation, will be stipulated.

It appearing probable from the information I received that our commercial
intercourse with some ports in the island of St. Domingo might safely be
renewed, I took such steps as seemed to me expedient to ascertain that
point. The result being satisfactory, I then, in conformity with the act of
Congress on the subject, directed the restraints and prohibitions of that
intercourse to be discontinued on terms which were made known by
proclamation. Since the renewal of this intercourse our citizens trading to
those ports, with their property, have been duly respected, and
privateering from those ports has ceased.

In examining the claims of British subjects by the commissioners at
Philadelphia, acting under the 6th article of the treaty of amity,
commerce, and navigation with Great Britain, a difference of opinion on
points deemed essential in the interpretation of that article has arisen
between the commissioners appointed by the United States and the other
members of that board, from which the former have thought it their duty to
withdraw. It is sincerely to be regretted that the execution of an article
produced by a mutual spirit of amity and justice should have been thus
unavoidably interrupted. It is, however, confidently expected that the same
spirit of amity and the same sense of justice in which it originated will
lead to satisfactory explanations.

In consequence of the obstacles to the progress of the commission in
Philadelphia, His Britannic Majesty has directed the commissioners
appointed by him under the 7th article of the treaty relating to the
British captures of American vessels to withdraw from the board sitting in
London, but with the express declaration of his determination to fulfill
with punctuality and good faith the engagements which His Majesty has
contracted by his treaty with the United States, and that they will be
instructed to resume their functions whenever the obstacles which impede
the progress of the commission at Philadelphia shall be removed. It being
in like manner my sincere determination, so far as the same depends on me,
that with equal punctuality and good faith the engagements contracted by
the United States in their treaties with His Britannic Majesty shall be
fulfilled, I shall immediately instruct our minister at London to endeavor
to obtain the explanation necessary to a just performance of those
engagements on the part of the United States. With such dispositions on
both sides, I can not entertain a doubt that all difficulties will soon be
removed and that the two boards will then proceed and bring the business
committed to them respectively to a satisfactory conclusion.

The act of Congress relative to the seat of the Government of the United
States requiring that on the 1st Monday of December next it should be
transferred from Philadelphia to the District chosen for its permanent
seat, it is proper for me to inform you that the commissioners appointed to
provide suitable buildings for the accommodation of Congress and of the
President and of the public offices of the Government have made a report of
the state of the buildings designed for those purposes in the city of
Washington, from which they conclude that the removal of the seat of
Government to that place at the time required will be practicable and the
accommodation satisfactory. Their report will be laid before you.

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives:

I shall direct the estimates of the appropriations necessary for the
service of the ensuing year, together with an account of the revenue and
expenditure, to be laid before you. During a period in which a great
portion of the civilized world has been involved in a war unusually
calamitous and destructive, it was not to be expected that the United
States could be exempted from extraordinary burthens. Although the period
is not arrived when the measures adopted to secure our country against
foreign attacks can be renounced, yet it is alike necessary for the honor
of the Government and the satisfaction of the community that an exact
economy should be maintained. I invite you, gentlemen, to investigate the
different branches of the public expenditure. The examination will lead to
beneficial retrenchments or produce a conviction of the wisdom of the
measures to which the expenditure relates.

Gentlemen of the Senate and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives:

At a period like the present, when momentous changes are occurring and
every hour is preparing new and great events in the political world, when a
spirit of war is prevalent in almost every nation with whose affairs the
interests of the United States have any connection, unsafe and precarious
would be our situation were we to neglect the means of maintaining our just
rights. The result of the mission to France is uncertain; but however it
may terminate, a steady perseverance in a system of national defense
commensurate with our resources and the situation of our country is an
obvious dictate of wisdom; for, remotely as we are placed from the
belligerent nations, and desirous as we are, by doing justice to all, to
avoid offense to any, nothing short of the power of repelling aggressions
will secure to our country a rational prospect of escaping the calamities
of war or national degradation. As to myself, it is my anxious desire so to
execute the trust reposed in me as to render the people of the United
States prosperous and happy. I rely with entire confidence on your
cooperation in objects equally your care, and that our mutual labors will
serve to increase and confirm union among our fellow citizens and an
unshaken attachment to our Government.


State of the Union Address
John Adams
November 11, 1800

Gentlemen of the Senate and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives:

Immediately after the adjournment of Congress at their last session in
Philadelphia I gave directions, in compliance with the laws, for the
removal of the public offices, records, and property. These directions have
been executed, and the public officers have since resided and conducted the
ordinary business of the Government in this place.

I congratulate the people of the United States on the assembling of
Congress at the permanent seat of their Government, and I congratulate you,
gentlemen, on the prospect of a residence not to be changed. Although there
is cause to apprehend that accommodations are not now so complete as might
be wished, yet there is great reason to believe that this inconvenience
will cease with the present session.

It would be unbecoming the representatives of this nation to assemble for
the first time in this solemn temple without looking up to the Supreme
Ruler of the Universe and imploring His blessing.

May this territory be the residence of virtue and happiness! In this city
may that piety and virtue, that wisdom and magnanimity, that constancy and
self-government, which adorned the great character whose name it bears be
forever held in veneration! Here and throughout our country may simple
manners, pure morals, and true religion flourish forever!

It is with you, gentlemen, to consider whether the local powers over the
District of Columbia vested by the Constitution in the Congress of the
United States shall be immediately exercised. If in your opinion this
important trust ought now to be executed, you can not fail while performing
it to take into view the future probable situation of the territory for the
happiness of which you are about to provide. You will consider it as the
capital of a great nation advancing with unexampled rapidity in arts, in
commerce, in wealth, and in population, and possessing within itself those
energies and resources which, if not thrown away or lamentably misdirected,
will secure to it a long course of prosperity and self-government.

In compliance with a law of the last session of Congress, the officers and
soldiers of the temporary army have been discharged. It affords real
pleasure to recollect the honorable testimony they gave of the patriotic
motives which brought them into the service of their country, by the
readiness and regularity with which they returned to the station of private

It is in every point of view of such primary importance to carry the laws
into prompt and faithful execution, and to render that part of the
administration of justice which the Constitution and laws devolve on the
Federal courts as convenient to the people as may consist with their
present circumstances, that I can not omit once more to recommend to your
serious consideration the judiciary system of the United States. No subject
is more interesting than this to the public happiness, and to none can
those improvements which may have been suggested by experience be more
beneficially applied.

A treaty of amity and commerce with the King of Prussia has been concluded
and ratified. The ratifications have been exchanged, and I have directed
the treaty to be promulgated by proclamation.

The difficulties which suspended the execution of the 6th article of our
treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation with Great Britain have not yet
been removed. The negotiation on this subject is still depending. As it
must be for the interest and honor of both nations to adjust this
difference with good faith, I indulge confidently the expectation that the
sincere endeavors of the Government of the United States to bring it to an
amicable termination will not be disappointed.

The envoys extraordinary and ministers plenipotentiary from the United
States to France were received by the First Consul with the respect due to
their character, and 3 persons with equal powers were appointed to treat
with them. Although at the date of the last official intelligence the
negotiation had not terminated, yet it is to be hoped that our efforts to
effect an accommodation will at length meet with a success proportioned to
the sincerity with which they have been so often repeated.

While our best endeavors for the preservation of harmony with all nations
will continue to be used, the experience of the world and our own
experience admonish us of the insecurity of trusting too confidently to
their success. We can not, without committing a dangerous imprudence,
abandon those measures of self protection which are adapted to our
situation and to which, notwithstanding our pacific policy, the violence
and injustice of others may again compel us to resort. While our vast
extent of sea coast, the commercial and agriculture habits of our people,
the great capital they will continue to trust on the ocean, suggest the
system of defense which will be most beneficial to ourselves, our distance
from Europe and our resources for maritime strength will enable us to
employ it with effect. Seasonable and systematic arrangements, so far as
our resources will justify, for a navy adapted to defensive war, and which
may in case of necessity be quickly brought into use, seem to be as much
recommended by a wise and true economy as by a just regard for our future
tranquillity, for the safety of our shores, and for the protection of our
property committed to the ocean.

The present Navy of the United States, called suddenly into existence by a
great national exigency, has raised us in our own esteem, and by the
protection afforded to our commerce has effected to the extent of our
expectations the objects for which it was created.

In connection with a navy ought to be contemplated the fortification of
some of our principal sea ports and harbors. A variety of considerations,
which will readily suggest themselves, urge an attention to this measure of
precaution. To give security to our principal ports considerable sums have
already been expended, but the works remain incomplete. It is for Congress
to determine whether additional appropriations shall be made in order to
render competent to the intended purposes the fortifications which have
been commenced.

The manufacture of arms within the United States still invites the
attention of the National Legislature. At a considerable expense to the
public this manufacture has been brought to such a state of maturity as,
with continued encouragement, will supersede the necessity of future
importations from foreign countries.

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives:

I shall direct the estimates of the appropriations necessary for the
ensuing year, together with an account of the public revenue and
expenditure to a late period, to be laid before you. I observe with much
satisfaction that the product of the revenue during the present year has
been more considerable than during any former equal period. This result
affords conclusive evidence of the great resources of this country and of
the wisdom and efficiency of the measures which have been adopted by
Congress for the protection of commerce and preservation of public credit.

Gentlemen of the Senate and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives:

As one of the grand community of nations, our attention is irresistibly
drawn to the important scenes which surround us. If they have exhibited an
uncommon portion of calamity, it is the province of humanity to deplore and
of wisdom to avoid the causes which may have produced it. If, turning our
eyes homeward, we find reason to rejoice at the prospect which presents
itself; if we perceive the interior of our country prosperous, free, and
happy; if all enjoy in safety, under the protection of laws emanating only
from the general will, the fruits of their own labor, we ought to fortify
and cling to those institutions which have been the source of such real
felicity and resist with unabating perseverance the progress of those
dangerous innovations which may diminish their influence.

To your patriotism, gentlemen, has been confided the honorable duty of
guarding the public interests; and while the past is to your country a sure
pledge that it will be faithfully discharged, permit me to assure you that
your labors to promote the general happiness will receive from me the most
zealous cooperation.


State of the Union Address
Thomas Jefferson
December 8, 1801

Fellow Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

It is a circumstance of sincere gratification to me that on meeting the
great council of our nation I am able to announce to them on grounds of
reasonable certainty that the wars and troubles which have for so many
years afflicted our sister nations have at length come to an end, and that
the communications of peace and commerce are once more opening among them.
Whilst we devoutly return thanks to the beneficent Being who has been
pleased to breathe into them the spirit of conciliation and forgiveness, we
are bound with peculiar gratitude to be thankful to Him that our own peace
has been preserved through so perilous a season, and ourselves permitted
quietly to cultivate the earth and to practice and improve those arts which
tend to increase our comforts. The assurances, indeed, of friendly
disposition received from all the powers with whom we have principle
relations had inspired a confidence that our peace with them would not have
been disturbed. But a cessation of irregularities which had affected the
commerce of neutral nations and of the irritations and injuries produced by
them can not but add to this confidence, and strengthens at the same time
the hope that wrongs committed on unoffending friends under a pressure of
circumstances will now be reviewed with candor, and will be considered as
founding just claims of retribution for the past and new assurance for the

Among our Indian neighbors also a spirit of peace and friendship generally
prevails, and I am happy to inform you that the continued efforts to
introduce among them the implements and the practice of husbandry and the
household arts have not been without success; that they are becoming more
and more sensible of the superiority of this dependence for clothing and
subsistence over the precarious resources of hunting and fishing, and
already we are able to announce that instead of that constant diminution of
their numbers produced by their wars and their wants, some of them begin to
experience an increase of population.

To this state of general peace with which we have been blessed, one only
exception exists. Tripoli, the least considerable of the Barbary States,
had come forward with demands unfounded either in right or in compact, and
had permitted itself to denounce war on our failure to comply before a
given day. The style of the demand admitted but one answer.

I sent a small squadron of frigates into the Mediterranean, with assurances
to that power of our sincere desire to remain in peace, but with orders to
protect our commerce against the threatened attack. The measure was
seasonable and salutary. The Bey had already declared war. His cruisers
were out. Two had arrived at Gibraltar. Our commerce in the Mediterranean
was blockaded and that of the Atlantic in peril.

The arrival of our squadron dispelled the danger. One of the Tripolitan
cruisers having fallen in with and engaged the small schooner Enterprise,
commanded by Lieutenant Sterret, which had gone as a tender to our larger
vessels, was captured, after a heavy slaughter of her men, without the loss
of a single one on our part. The bravery exhibited by our citizens on that
element will, I trust, be a testimony to the world that it is not the want
of that virtue which makes us seek their peace, but a conscientious desire
to direct the energies of our nation to the multiplication of the human
race, and not to its destruction. Unauthorized by the Constitution, without
the sanction of Congress, to go beyond the line of defense, the vessel,
being disabled from committing further hostilities, was liberated with its

The Legislature will doubtless consider whether, by authorizing measures of
offense also, they will place our force on an equal footing with that of
its adversaries. I communicate all material information on this subject,
that in the exercise of this important function confided by the
Constitution to the Legislature exclusively their judgment may form itself
on a knowledge and consideration of every circumstance of weight.

I wish I could say that our situation with all the other Barbary States was
entirely satisfactory. Discovering that some delays had taken place in the
performance of certain articles stipulated by us, I thought it my duty, by
immediate measures for fulfilling them, to vindicate to ourselves the right
of considering the effect of departure from stipulation on their side. From
the papers which will be laid before you you will be enabled to judge
whether our treaties are regarded by them as fixing at all the measure of
their demands or as guarding from the exercise of force our vessels within
their power, and to consider how far it will be safe and expedient to leave
our affairs with them in their present posture.

I lay before you the result of the census lately taken of our inhabitants,
to a conformity with which we are now to reduce the ensuing ration of
representation and taxation. You will perceive that the increase of numbers
during the last 10 years, proceeding in geometric ratio, promises a
duplication in little more than 22 years. We contemplate this rapid growth
and the prospect it holds up to us, not with a view to the injuries it may
enable us to do others in some future day, but to the settlement of the
extensive country still remaining vacant within our limits to the
multiplication of men susceptible of happiness, educated in the love of
order, habituated to self-government, and valuing its blessings above all

Other circumstances, combined with the increase of numbers, have produced
an augmentation of revenue arising from consumption in a ratio far beyond
that of population alone; and though the changes in foreign relations now
taking place so desirably for the whole world may for a season affect this
branch of revenue, yet weighing all probabilities of expense as well as of
income, there is reasonable ground of confidence that we may now safely
dispense with all the internal taxes, comprehending excise, stamps,
auctions, licenses, carriages, and refined sugars, to which the postage on
news papers may be added to facilitate the progress of information, and
that the remaining sources of revenue will be sufficient to provide for the
support of Government, to pay the interest of the public debts, and to
discharge the principals within shorter periods than the laws or the
general expectation had contemplated.

War, indeed, and untoward events may change this prospect of things and
call for expenses which imposts could not meet; but sound principles will
not justify our taxing the industry of our fellow citizens to accumulate
treasure for wars to happen we know not when, and which might not, perhaps,
happen but from the temptations offered by that treasure.

These views, however, of reducing our burthens are formed on the
expectation that a sensible and at the same time a salutary reduction may
take place in our habitual expenditures. For this purpose those of the
civil Government, the Army, and Navy will need revisal.

When we consider that this Government is charged with the external and
mutual relations only of these States; that the States themselves have
principal care of our persons, our property, and our reputation,
constituting the great field of human concerns, we may well doubt whether
our organization is not too complicated, too expensive; whether offices and
officers have not been multiplied unnecessarily and sometimes injuriously
to the service they were meant to promote.

I will cause to be laid before you an essay toward a statement of those
who, under public employment of various kinds, draw money from the Treasury
or from our citizens. Time has not permitted a perfect enumeration, the
ramifications of office being too multiplied and remote to be completely
traced in a first trial.

Among those who are dependent on Executive discretion I have begun the
reduction of what was deemed unnecessary. The expenses of diplomatic agency
have been considerably diminished. The inspectors of internal revenue who
were found to obstruct the accountability of the institution have been
discontinued. Several agencies created by Executive authorities, on
salaries fixed by that also, have been suppressed, and should suggest the
expediency of regulating that power by law, so as to subject its exercises
to legislative inspection and sanction.

Other reformations of the same kind will be pursued with that caution which
is requisite in removing useless things, not to injure what is retained.
But the great mass of public offices is established by law, and therefore
by law alone can be abolished. Should the Legislature think it expedient to
pass this roll in review and try all its parts by the test of public
utility, they may be assured of every aid and light which Executive
information can yield.

Considering the general tendency to multiply offices and dependencies and
to increase expense to the ultimate term of burthen which the citizen can
bear, it behooves us to avail ourselves of every occasion which presents
itself for taking off the surcharge, that it never may be seen here that
after leaving to labor the smallest portion of its earnings on which it can
subsist, Government shall itself consume the whole residue of what it was
instituted to guard.

In our care, too, of the public contributions intrusted to our direction it
would be prudent to multiply barriers against their dissipation by
appropriating specific sums to every specific purpose susceptible of
definition; by disallowing all applications of money varying from the
appropriation in object or transcending it in amount; by reducing the
undefined field of contingencies and thereby circumscribing discretionary
powers over money, and by bringing back to a single department all
accountabilities for money, where the examinations may be prompt,
efficacious, and uniform.

An account of the receipts and expenditures of the last year, as prepared
by the Secretary of the Treasury, will, as usual, be laid before you. The
success which has attended the late sales of the public lands shews that
with attention they may be made an important source of receipt. Among the
payments those made in discharge of the principal and interest of the
national debt will shew that the public faith has been exactly maintained.
To these will be added an estimate of appropriations necessary for the
ensuing year. This last will, of course, be affected by such modifications
of the system of expense as you shall think proper to adopt.

A statement has been formed by the Secretary of War, on mature
consideration, of all the posts and stations where garrisons will be
expedient and of the number of men requisite for each garrison. The whole
amount is considerably short of the present military establishment. For the
surplus no particular use can be pointed out.

For defense against invasion their number is as nothing, nor is it
conceived needful or safe that a standing army should be kept up in time of
peace for that purpose. Uncertain as we must ever be of the particular
point in our circumference where an enemy may choose to invade us, the only
force which can be ready at every point and competent to oppose them is the
body of the neighboring citizens as formed into a militia. On these,
collected from the parts most convenient in numbers proportioned to the
invading force, it is best to rely not only to meet the first attack, but if
it threatens to be permanent to maintain the defense until regulars may be
engaged to relieve them. These considerations render it important that we
should at every session continue to amend the defects which from time to
time shew themselves in the laws for regulating the militia until they are
sufficiently perfect. Nor should we now or at any time separate until we
say we have done everything for the militia which we could do were an enemy
at our door.

The provision of military stores on hand will be laid before you, that you
may judge of the additions still requisite.

With respect to the extent to which our naval preparations should be
expected to appear, but just attention to the circumstances of every part
of the Union will doubtless reconcile all. A small force will probably
continue to be wanted for actual service in the Mediterranean. Whatever
annual sum beyond that you may think proper to appropriate to naval
preparations would perhaps be better employed in providing those articles
which may be kept without waste or consumption, and be in readiness when
any exigence calls them into use. Progress has been made, as will appear by
papers now communicated, in providing materials for 74-gun ships as
directed by law.

How far the authority given by the Legislature for procuring and
establishing sites for naval purposes has been perfectly understood and
pursued in the execution admits of some doubt. A statement of the expenses
already incurred on that subject is now laid before you. I have in certain
cases suspended or slackened these expenditures, that the Legislature might
determine whether so many yards are necessary as have been contemplated.

The works at this place are among those permitted to go on, and 5 of the 7
frigates directed to be laid up have been brought and laid up here, where,
besides the safety of their position, they are under the eye of the
Executive Administration, as well as of its agents, and where yourselves
also will be guided by your own view in the legislative provisions
respecting them which may from time to time be necessary. They are
preserved in such condition, as well the vessels as whatever belongs to
them, as to be at all times ready for sea on a short warning. Two others
are yet to be laid up so soon as they shall have received the repairs
requisite to put them also into sound condition. As a superintending
officer will be necessary at each yard, his duties and emoluments, hitherto
fixed by the Executive, will be a more proper subject for legislation. A
communication will also be made of our progress in the execution of the law
respecting the vessels directed to be sold.

The fortifications of our harbors, more or less advanced, present
considerations of great difficulty. While some of them are on a scale
sufficiently proportioned to the advantages of their position, to the
efficacy of their protection, and the importance of the points within it,
others are so extensive, will cost so much in their first erection, so much
in their maintenance, and require such a force to garrison them as to make
it questionable what is best now to be done. A statement of those commenced
or projected, of the expenses already incurred, and estimates of their
future cost, as far as can be foreseen, shall be laid before you, that you
may be enabled to judge whether any alteration is necessary in the laws
respecting this subject.

Agriculture, manufactures, commerce, and navigation, the four pillars of our
prosperity, are then most thriving when left most free to individual
enterprise. Protection from casual embarrassments, however, may sometimes
be seasonably interposed. If in the course of your observations or
inquiries they should appear to need any aid within the limits of our
constitutional powers, your sense of their importance is a sufficient
assurance they will occupy your attention. We can not, indeed, but all feel
an anxious solicitude for the difficulties under which our carrying trade
will soon be placed. How far it can be relieved, otherwise than by time, is
a subject of important consideration.

The judiciary system of the United States, and especially that portion of
it recently erected, will of course present itself to the contemplation of
Congress, and, that they may be able to judge of the proportion which the
institution bears on the business it has to perform, I have caused to be
procured from the several States and now lay before Congress an exact
statement of all the causes decided since the first establishment of the
courts, and of those which were depending when additional courts and judges
were brought in to their aid.

And while on the judiciary organization it will be worthy your
consideration whether the protection of the inestimable institution of
juries has been extended to all the cases involving the security of our
persons and property. Their impartial selection also being essential to
their value, we ought further to consider whether that is sufficiently
secured in those States where they are named by a marshal depending on
Executive will or designated by the court or by officers dependent on

I can not omit recommending a revisal of the laws on the subject of
naturalization. Considering the ordinary chances of human life, a denial of
citizenship under a residence of 14 years is a denial to a great proportion
of those who ask it, and controls a policy pursued from their first
settlement by many of these States, and still believed of consequence to
their prosperity; and shall we refuse to the unhappy fugitives from
distress that hospitality which the savages of the wilderness extended to
our fathers arriving in this land? Shall oppressed humanity find no asylum
on this globe? The Constitution indeed has wisely provided that for
admission to certain offices of important trust a residence shall be
required sufficient to develop character and design. But might not the
general character and capabilities of a citizen be safely communicated to
everyone manifesting a bona fide purpose of embarking his life and fortunes
permanently with us, with restrictions, perhaps, to guard against the
fraudulent usurpation of our flag, an abuse which brings so much
embarrassment and loss on the genuine citizen and so much danger to the
nation of being involved in war that no endeavor should be spared to detect
and suppress it?

These, fellow citizens, are the matters respecting the state of the nation
which I have thought of importance to be submitted to your consideration at
this time. Some others of less moment or not yet ready for communication
will be the subject of separate messages. I am happy in this opportunity of
committing the arduous affairs of our Government to the collected wisdom of
the Union. Nothing shall be wanting on my part to inform as far as in my
power the legislative judgment, nor to carry that judgment into faithful

The prudence and temperance of your discussions will promote within your
own walls that conciliation which so much befriends rational conclusion,
and by its example will encourage among our constituents that progress of
opinion which is tending to unite them in object and in will. That all
should be satisfied with any one order of things is not to be expected; but
I indulge the pleasing persuasion that the great body of our citizens will
cordially concur in honest and disinterested efforts which have for their
object to preserve the General and State Governments in their
constitutional form and equilibrium; to maintain peace abroad, and order
and obedience to the laws at home; to establish principles and practices of
administration favorable to the security of liberty and property, and to
reduce expenses to what is necessary for the useful purposes of Government.


State of the Union Address
Thomas Jefferson
December 15, 1802

To the Senate and House of Representatives:

When we assemble together, fellow citizens, to consider the state of our
beloved country, our just attentions are first drawn to those pleasing
circumstances which mark the goodness of that Being from whose favor they
flow and the large measure of thankfulness we owe for His bounty. Another
year has come around, and finds us still blessed with peace and friendship
abroad; law, order, and religion at home; good affection and harmony with
our Indian neighbors; our burthens lightened, yet our income sufficient for
the public wants, and the produce of the year great beyond example. These,
fellow citizens, are the circumstances under which we meet, and we remark
with special satisfaction those which under the smiles of Providence result
from the skill, industry, and order of our citizens, managing their own
affairs in their own way and for their own use, unembarrassed by too much
regulation, unoppressed by fiscal exactions.

On the restoration of peace in Europe that portion of the general carrying
trade which had fallen to our share during the war was abridged by the
returning competition of the belligerent powers. This was to be expected,
and was just. But in addition we find in some parts of Europe monopolizing
discriminations, which in the form of duties tend effectually to prohibit
the carrying thither our own produce in our own vessels. From existing
amities and a spirit of justice it is hoped that friendly discussion will
produce a fair and adequate reciprocity. But should false calculations of
interest defeat our hope, it rests with the Legislature to decide whether
they will meet inequalities abroad with countervailing inequalities at
home, or provide for the evil in any other way.

It is with satisfaction I lay before you an act of the British Parliament
anticipating this subject so far as to authorize a mutual abolition of the
duties and countervailing duties permitted under the treaty of 1794. It
shows on their part a spirit of justice and friendly accommodation which it
is our duty and our interest to cultivate with all nations. Whether this
would produce a due equality in the navigation between the two countries is
a subject for your consideration.

Another circumstance which claims attention as directly affecting the very
source of our navigation is the defect or the evasion of the law providing
for the return of sea men, and particularly of those belonging to vessels
sold abroad. Numbers of them, discharged in foreign ports, have been thrown
on the hands of our consuls, who, to rescue them from the dangers into
which their distresses might plunge them and save them to their country,
have found it necessary in some cases to return them at the public charge.

The cession of the Spanish Province of Louisiana to France, which took
place in the course of the late war, will, if carried into effect, make a
change in the aspect of our foreign relations which will doubtless have
just weight in any deliberations of the Legislature connected with that

There was reason not long since to apprehend that the warfare in which we
were engaged with Tripoli might be taken up by some other of the Barbary
Powers. A reenforcement, therefore, was immediately ordered to the vessels
already there. Subsequent information, however, has removed these
apprehensions for the present. To secure our commerce in that sea with the
smallest force competent, we have supposed it best to watch strictly the
harbor of Tripoli. Still, however, the shallowness of their coast and the
want of smaller vessels on our part has permitted some cruisers to escape
unobserved, and to one of these an American vessel unfortunately fell prey.
The captain, one American sea man, and two others of color remain prisoners
with them unless exchanged under an agreement formerly made with the
Bashaw, to whom, on the faith of that, some of his captive subjects had
been restored.

The convention with the State of Georgia has been ratified by their
legislature, and a repurchase from the Creeks has been consequently made of
a part of the Talasscee country. In this purchase has been also
comprehended a part of the lands within the fork of Oconee and Oakmulgee
rivers. The particulars of the contract will be laid before Congress so
soon as they shall be in a state for communication.

In order to remove every ground of difference possible with our Indian
neighbors, I have proceeded in the work of settling with them and marking
the boundaries between us. That with the Choctaw Nation is fixed in one
part and will be through the whole within a short time. The country to
which their title had been extinguished before the Revolution is sufficient
to receive a very respectable population, which Congress will probably see
the expediency of encouraging so soon as the limits shall be declared. We
are to view this position as an outpost of the United States, surrounded by
strong neighbors and distant from its support; and how far that monopoly
which prevents population should here be guarded against and actual
habitation made a condition of the continuance of title will be for your
consideration. A prompt settlement, too, of all existing rights and claims
within this territory presents itself as a preliminary operation.

In that part of the Indiana Territory which includes Vincennes the lines
settled with the neighboring tribes fix the extinction of their title at a
breadth of 24 leagues from east to west and about the same length parallel
with and including the Wabash. They have also ceded a tract of 4 miles
square, including the salt springs near the mouth of that river.

In the Department of Finance it is with pleasure I inform you, that the
receipts of external duties for the last 12 months have exceeded those of
any former year, and that the ration of increase has been also greater than
usual. This has enabled us to answer all the regular exigencies of
Government, to pay from the Treasury within one year upward of $8 millions,
principal and interest, of the public debt, exclusive of upward of $1
million paid by the sale of bank stock, and making in the whole a
reduction of nearly $5.5 millions of principal, and to have now in the
Treasury $4.5 millions which are in a course of application to the
further discharge of debt and current demands. Experience, too, so far,
authorizes us to believe, if no extraordinary event supervenes, and the
expenses which will be actually incurred shall not be greater than were
contemplated by Congress at their last session, that we shall not be
disappointed in the expectations then formed. But nevertheless, as the
effect of peace on the amount of duties is not yet fully ascertained, it
is the more necessary to practice every useful economy and to incur no
expense which may be avoided without prejudice.

The collection of the internal taxes having been completed in some of the
States, the officers employed in it are of course out of commission. In
others they will be so shortly. But in a few, where the arrangements for
the direct tax had been retarded, it will be some time before the system is
closed. It has not yet been thought necessary to employ the agent
authorized by an act of the last session for transacting business in Europe
relative to debts and loans. Nor have we used the power confided by the
same act of prolonging the foreign debt by reloans, and of redeeming
instead thereof an equal sum of the domestic debt. Should, however, the
difficulties of remittance on so large a scale render it necessary at any
time, the power shall be executed and the money thus employed abroad shall,
in conformity with that law, be faithfully applied here in an equivalent
extinction of domestic debt.

When effects so salutary result from the plans you have already sanctioned;
when merely by avoiding false objects of expense we are able, without a
direct tax, without internal taxes, and without borrowing to make large and
effectual payments toward the discharge of our public debt and the
emancipation of our posterity from that mortal canker, it is an
encouragement, fellow citizens, of the highest order to proceed as we have
begun in substituting economy for taxation, and in pursuing what is useful
for a nation placed as we are, rather than what is practiced by others
under different circumstances. And when so ever we are destined to meet
events which shall call forth all the energies of our country-men, we have
the firmest reliance on those energies and the comfort of leaving for calls
like these the extraordinary resources of loans and internal taxes. In the
mean time, by payments of the principal of our debt, we are liberating
annually portions of the external taxes and forming from them a growing
fund still further to lessen the necessity of recurring to extraordinary

The usual account of receipts and expenditures for the last year, with an
estimate of the expenses of the ensuing one, will be laid before you by the
Secretary of the Treasury.

No change being deemed necessary in our military establishment, an estimate
of its expenses for the ensuing year on its present footing, as also of the
sums to be employed in fortifications and other objects within that
department, has been prepared by the Secretary of War, and will make a part
of the general estimates which will be presented you.

Considering that our regular troops are employed for local purposes, and
that the militia is our general reliance for great and sudden emergencies,
you will doubtless think this institution worthy of a review, and give it
those improvements of which you find it susceptible.

Estimates for the Naval Department, prepared by the Secretary of the Navy,
for another year will in like manner be communicated with the general
estimates. A small force in the Mediterranean will still be necessary to
restrain the Tripoline cruisers, and the uncertain tenure of peace with
some other of the Barbary Powers may eventually require that force to be
augmented. The necessity of procuring some smaller vessels for that service
will raise the estimate, but the difference in their maintenance will soon
make it a measure of economy.

Presuming it will be deemed expedient to expend annually a convenient sum
toward providing the naval defense which our situation may require, I can
not but recommend that the first appropriations for that purpose may go to
the saving what we already possess. No cares, no attentions, can preserve
vessels from rapid decay which lie in water and exposed to the sun. These
decays require great and constant repairs, and will consume, if continued,
a great portion of the moneys destined to naval purposes. To avoid this
waste of our resources it is proposed to add to our navy-yard here a dock
within which our present vessels may be laid up dry and under cover from
the sun. Under these circumstances experience proves that works of wood
will remain scarcely at all affected by time. The great abundance of
running water which this situation possesses, at heights far above the
level of the tide, if employed as is practiced for lock navigation,
furnishes the means for raising and laying up our vessels on a dry and
sheltered bed. And should the measure be found useful here, similar
depositories for laying up as well as for building and repairing vessels
may hereafter be undertaken at other navy-yards offering the same means.
The plans and estimates of the work, prepared by a person of skill and
experience, will be presented to you without delay, and from this it will
be seen that scarcely more than has been the cost of one vessel is necessary
to save the whole, and that the annual sum to be employed toward its
completion may be adapted to the views of the Legislature as to naval
expenditure. To cultivate peace and maintain commerce and navigation in all
their lawful enterprises; to foster our fisheries as nurseries of
navigation and for the nurture of man, and protect the manufactures adapted
to our circumstances; to preserve the faith of the nation by an exact
discharge of its debts and contracts, expend the public money with the same
care and economy we would practice with our own, and impose on our citizens
no unnecessary burthens; to keep in all things within the pale of our
constitutional powers, and cherish the federal union as the only rock of
safety--these, fellow citizens, are the land-marks by which we are to
guide ourselves in all proceedings. By continuing to make these the rule of
our action we shall endear to our country-men the true principles of their
Constitution and promote an union of sentiment and of action equally
auspicious to their happiness and safety. On my part, you may count on a
cordial concurrence in every measure for the public good and on all the
information I possess which may enable you to discharge to advantage the
high functions with which you are invested by your country.



State of the Union Address
Thomas Jefferson
October 17, 1803

To The Senate and House of Representatives of the United States:

In calling you together, fellow citizens, at an earlier day than was
contemplated by the act of the last session of Congress, I have not been
insensible to the personal inconveniences necessarily resulting from an
unexpected change in your arrangements, but matters of great public
concernment have rendered this call necessary, and the interests you feel
in these will supersede in your minds all private considerations.

Congress witnessed at their late session the extraordinary agitation
produced in the public mind by the suspension of our right of deposit at
the port of New Orleans, no assignment of another place having been made
according to treaty. They were sensible that the continuance of that
privation would be more injurious to our nation than any consequences which
could flow from any mode of redress, but reposing just confidence in the
good faith of the Government whose officer had committed the wrong,
friendly and reasonable representations were resorted to, and the right of
deposit was restored.

Previous, however, to this period we had not been unaware of the danger to
which our peace would be perpetually exposed whilst so important a key to
the commerce of the Western country remained under foreign power.
Difficulties, too, were presenting themselves as to the navigation of other
streams which, arising within our territories, pass through those adjacent.
Propositions had therefore been authorized for obtaining on fair conditions
the sovereignty of New Orleans and of other possessions in that quarter
interesting to our quiet to such extent as was deemed practicable, and the
provisional appropriation of $2 millions to be applied and accounted
for by the President of the United States, intended as part of the price,
was considered as conveying the sanction of Congress to the acquisition
proposed. The enlightened Government of France saw with just discernment
the importance to both nations of such liberal arrangements as might best
and permanently promote the peace, friendship, and interests of both, and
the property and sovereignty of all Louisiana which had been restored to
them have on certain conditions been transferred to the United States by
instruments bearing date the 30th of April last. When these shall have
received the constitutional sanction of the Senate, they will without delay
be communicated to the Representatives also for the exercise of their
functions as to those conditions which are within the powers vested by the
Constitution in Congress.

Whilst the property and sovereignty of the Mississippi and its waters
secure an independent outlet for the produce of the Western States and an
uncontrolled navigation through their whole course, free from collision
with other powers and the dangers to our peace from that source, the
fertility of the country, its climate and extent, promise in due season
important aids to our Treasury, an ample provision for our posterity, and a
wide spread for the blessings of freedom and equal laws.

With the wisdom of Congress it will rest to take those ulterior measures
which may be necessary for the immediate occupation and temporary
government of the country; for its incorporation into our Union; for
rendering the change of government a blessing to our newly adopted
brethren; for securing to them the rights of conscience and of property;
for confirming to the Indian inhabitants their occupancy and
self-government, establishing friendly and commercial relations with them,
and for ascertaining the geography of the country acquired. Such materials,
for your information, relative to its affairs in general as the short space
of time has permitted me to collect will be laid before you when the
subject shall be in a state for your consideration.

Another important acquisition of territory has also been made since the
last session of Congress. The friendly tribe of Kaskaskia Indians, with
which we have never had a difference, reduced by the wars and wants of
savage life to a few individuals unable to defend themselves against the
neighboring tribes, has transferred its country to the United States,
reserving only for its members what is sufficient to maintain them in an
agricultural way. The considerations stipulated are that we shall extend to
them our patronage and protection and give them certain annual aids in
money, in implements of agriculture, and other articles of their choice.
This country, among the most fertile within our limits, extending along the
Mississippi from the mouth of the Illinois to and up to the Ohio, though
not so necessary as a barrier since the acquisition of the other bank, may
yet be well worthy of being laid open to immediate settlement, as its
inhabitants may descend with rapidity in support of the lower country
should future circumstances expose that to foreign enterprise. As the
stipulations in this treaty involve matters with the competence of both
Houses only, it will be laid before Congress as soon as the Senate shall
have advised its ratification.

With many of the other Indian tribes improvements in agriculture and
household manufacture are advancing, and with all our peace and friendship
are established on grounds much firmer than heretofore. The measure adopted
of establishing trading houses among them and of furnishing them
necessaries in exchange for their commodities at such moderate prices as
leave no gain, but cover us from loss, has the most conciliatory and useful
effect on them, and is that which will best secure their peace and good

The small vessels authorized by Congress with a view to the Mediterranean
service have been sent into that sea, and will be able more effectually to
confine the Tripoline cruisers within their harbors and supersede the
necessity of convoy to our commerce in that quarter. They will sensibly
lessen the expenses of that service the ensuing year.

A further knowledge of the ground in the northeastern and northwestern
angles of the United States has evinced that the boundaries established by
the treaty of Paris between the British territories and ours in those parts
were too imperfectly described to be susceptible of execution. It has
therefore been thought worthy of attention for preserving and cherishing
the harmony and useful intercourse subsisting between the two nations to
remove by timely arrangements what unfavorable incidents might otherwise
render a ground of future misunderstanding. A convention has therefore been
entered into which provides for a practicable demarcation of those limits
to the satisfaction of both parties.

An account of the receipts and expenditures of the year ending the 30th of
September last, with the estimates for the service of the ensuing year,
will be laid before you by the Secretary of the Treasury so soon as the
receipts of the last quarter shall be returned from the more distant
States. It is already ascertained that the amount paid into the Treasury
for that year has been between $11 millions and $12 millions, and that the
revenue accrued during the same term exceeds the sum counted on as
sufficient for our current expenses and to extinguish the public debt
within the period heretofore proposed.

The amount of debt paid for the same year is about $3.1 millions exclusive
of interest, and making, with the payment of the preceding year, a
discharge of more than $8.5 millions of the principal of that debt,
besides the accruing interest; and there remain in the Treasury nearly
$6 millions. Of these, $880 thousands have been reserved for payment of
the first installment due under the British convention of January 8th,
1802, and $2 millions are what have been before mentioned as placed by
Congress under the power and accountability of the President toward the
price of New Orleans and other territories acquired, which, remaining
untouched, are still applicable to that object and go in diminution of
the sum to be funded for it.

Should the acquisition of Louisiana be constitutionally confirmed and
carried into effect, a sum of nearly $13 millions will then be added to
our public debt, most of which is payable after fifteen years, before
which term the present existing debts will all be discharged by the
established operation of the sinking fund. When we contemplate the
ordinary annual augmentation of impost from increasing population and
wealth, the augmentation of the same revenue by its extension to the new
acquisition, and the economies which may still be introduced into our
public expenditures, I can not but hope that Congress in reviewing
their resources will find means to meet the intermediate interest of
this additional debt without recurring to new taxes, and applying to this
object only the ordinary progression of our revenue. Its extraordinary
increase in times of foreign war will be the proper and sufficient fund
for any measures of safety or precaution which that state of things may
render necessary in our neutral position.

Remittances for the installments of our foreign debt having been found
practicable without loss, it has not been thought expedient to use the
power given by a former act of Congress of continuing them by reloans, and
of redeeming instead thereof equal sums of domestic debt, although no
difficulty was found in obtaining that accommodation.

The sum of $50 thousands appropriated by Congress for providing gun boats
remains unexpended. The favorable and peaceable turn of affairs on the
Mississippi rendered an immediate execution of that law unnecessary, and
time was desirable in order that the institution of that branch of our
force might begin on models the most approved by experience. The same
issue of events dispensed with a resort to the appropriation of $1.5
millions, contemplated for purposes which were effected by happier means.

We have seen with sincere concern the flames of war lighted up again in
Europe, and nations with which we have the most friendly and useful
relations engaged in mutual destruction. While we regret the miseries in
which we see others involved, let us bow with gratitude to that kind
Providence which, inspiring with wisdom and moderation our late legislative
councils while placed under the urgency of the greatest wrongs guarded us
from hastily entering into the sanguinary contest and left us only to look
on and pity its ravages.

These will be heaviest on those immediately engaged. Yet the nations
pursuing peace will not be exempt from all evil.

In the course of this conflict let it be our endeavor, as it is our
interest and desire, to cultivate the friendship of the belligerent nations
by every act of justice and of innocent kindness; to receive their armed
vessels with hospitality from the distresses of the sea, but to administer
the means of annoyance to none; to establish in our harbors such a police
as may maintain law and order; to restrain our citizens from embarking
individually in a war in which their country takes no part; to punish
severely those persons, citizens or alien, who shall usurp the cover of our
flag for vessels not entitled to it, infecting thereby with suspicion those
of real Americans and committing us into controversies for the redress of
wrongs not our own; to exact from every nation the observance toward our
vessels and citizens of those principles and practices which all civilized
people acknowledge; to merit the character of a just nation, and maintain
that of an independent one, preferring every consequence to insult and
habitual wrong. Congress will consider whether the existing laws enable us
efficaciously to maintain this course with our citizens in all places and
with others while within the limits of our jurisdiction, and will give them
the new modifications necessary for these objects. Some contraventions of
right have already taken place, both within our jurisdictional limits and
on the high seas. The friendly disposition of the Governments from whose
agents they have proceeded, as well as their wisdom and regard for justice,
leave us in reasonable expectation that they will be rectified and
prevented in future, and that no act will be countenanced by them which
threatens to disturb our friendly intercourse.

Separated by a wide ocean from the nations of Europe and from the political
interests which entangle them together, with productions and wants which
render our commerce and friendship useful to them and theirs to us, it can
not be the interest of any to assail us, nor ours to disturb them. We
should be most unwise, indeed, were we to cast away the singular blessings
of the position in which nature has placed us, the opportunity she has
endowed us with of pursuing, at a distance from foreign contentions, the
paths of industry, peace, and happiness, of cultivating general friendship,
and of bringing collisions of interest to the umpirage of reason rather
than of force.

How desirable, then, must it be in a Government like ours to see its
citizens adopt individually the views, the interests, and the conduct which
their country should pursue, divesting themselves of those passions and
partialities which tend to lessen useful friendships and to embarrass and
embroil us in the calamitous scenes of Europe. Confident, fellow citizens,
that you will duly estimate the importance of neutral dispositions toward
the observance of neutral conduct, that you will be sensible how much it is
our duty to look on the bloody arena spread before us with commiseration
indeed, but with no other wish than to see it closed, I am persuaded you
will cordially cherish these dispositions in all discussions among
yourselves and in all communications with your constituents; and I
anticipate with satisfaction the measures of wisdom which the great
interests now committed to you will give you an opportunity of providing,
and myself that of approving and carrying into execution with the fidelity
I owe to my country.



State of the Union Address
Thomas Jefferson
November 8, 1804

The Senate and House of Representatives of the United States:

To a people, fellow citizens, who sincerely desire the happiness and
prosperity of other nations; to those who justly calculate that their own
well-being is advanced by that of the nations with which they have
intercourse, it will be a satisfaction to observe that the war which was
lighted up in Europe a little before our last meeting has not yet extended
its flames to other nations, nor been marked by the calamities which
sometimes stain the foot-steps of war. The irregularities, too, on the
ocean, which generally harass the commerce of neutral nations, have, in
distant parts, disturbed ours less than on former occasions; but in the
American seas they have been greater from peculiar causes, and even within
our harbors and jurisdiction infringements on the authority of the laws
have been committed which have called for serious attention. The friendly
conduct of the Governments from whose officers and subjects these acts have
proceeded, in other respects and in places more under their observation and
control, gives us confidence that our representations on this subject will
have been properly regarded.

While noticing the irregularities committed on the ocean by others, those
on our own part should not be omitted nor left unprovided for. Complaints
have been received that persons residing within the United States have
taken on themselves to arm merchant vessels and to force a commerce into
certain ports and countries in defiance of the laws of those countries.
That individuals should undertake to wage private war, independently of the
authority of their country, can not be permitted in a well-ordered society.
Its tendency to produce aggression on the laws and rights of other nations
and to endanger the peace of our own is so obvious that I doubt not you
will adopt measures for restraining it effectually in future.

Soon after the passage of the act of the last session authorizing the
establishment of a district and port of entry on the waters of the Mobile
we learnt that its object was misunderstood on the part of Spain. Candid
explanations were immediately given and assurances that, reserving our
claims in that quarter as a subject of discussion and arrangement with
Spain, no act was meditated in the mean time inconsistent with the peace
and friendship existing between the two nations, and that conformably to
these intentions would be the execution of the law. That Government had,
however, thought proper to suspend the ratification of the convention of
1802; but the explanations which would reach them soon after, and still
more the confirmation of them by the tenor of the instrument establishing
the port and district, may reasonably be expected to replace them in the
dispositions and views of the whole subject which originally dictated the

I have the satisfaction to inform you that the objections which had been
urged by that Government against the validity of our title to the country
of Louisiana have been withdrawn, its exact limits, however, remaining
still to be settled between us; and to this is to be added that, having
prepared and delivered the stock created in execution of the convention of
Paris of April 30th, 1803, in consideration of the cession of that
country, we have received from the Government of France an acknowledgment,
in due form, of the fulfillment of that stipulation.

With the nations of Europe in general our friendship and intercourse are
undisturbed, and from the Governments of the belligerent powers especially
we continue to receive those friendly manifestations which are justly due
to an honest neutrality and to such good offices consistent with that as we
have opportunities of rendering.

The activity and success of the small force employed in the Mediterranean
in the early part of the present year, the reenforcements sent into that
sea, and the energy of the officers having command in the several vessels
will, I trust, by the sufferings of war, reduce the barbarians of Tripoli
to the desire of peace on proper terms. Great injury, however, ensues to
ourselves, as well as to others interested, from the distance to which
prizes must be brought for adjudication and from the impracticability of
bringing hither such as are not sea worthy.

The Bey of Tunis having made requisitions unauthorized by our treaty, their
rejection has produced from him some expressions of discontent, but to
those who expect us to calculate whether a compliance with unjust demands
will not cost us less than a war we must leave as a question of calculation
for them also whether to retire from unjust demands will not cost them less
than a war. We can do to each other very sensible injuries by war, but the
mutual advantages of peace make that the best interest of both.

Peace and intercourse with the other powers on the same coast continue on
the footing on which they are established by treaty.

In pursuance of the act providing for the temporary government of
Louisiana, the necessary officers for the Territory of Orleans were
appointed in due time to commence the exercise of their functions on the
first day of October. The distance, however, of some of them and
indispensable previous arrangements may have retarded its commencement in
some of its parts. The form of government thus provided having been
considered but as temporary, and open to such future improvements as
further information of the circumstances of our brethren there might
suggest, it will of course be subject to your consideration.

In the district of Louisiana it has been thought best to adopt the division
into subordinate districts which had been established under its former
government. These being five in number, a commanding officer has been
appointed to each, according to the provisions of the law, and so soon as
they can be at their stations that district will also be in its due state
of organization. In the mean time, their places are supplied by the
officers before commanding there, and the function of the governor and
judges of Indiana having commenced, the government, we presume, is
proceeding in its new form. The lead mines in that district offer so rich a
supply of that metal as to merit attention. The report now communicated
will inform you of their state and of the necessity of immediate inquiry
into their occupation and titles.

With the Indian tribes established within our newly acquired limits, I have
deemed it necessary to open conferences for the purpose of establishing a
good understanding and neighborly relations between us. So far as we have
yet learned, we have reason to believe that their dispositions are
generally favorable and friendly; and with these dispositions on their
part, we have in our own hands means which can not fail us for preserving
their peace and friendship. By pursuing an uniform course of justice toward
them, by aiding them in all the improvements which may better their
condition, and especially by establishing a commerce on terms which shall
be advantageous to them and only not losing to us, and so regulated as that
no incendiaries of our own or any other nation may be permitted to disturb
the natural effects of our just and friendly offices, we may render
ourselves so necessary to their comfort and prosperity that the protection
of our citizens from their disorderly members will become their interest
and their voluntary care. Instead, therefore, of an augmentation of
military force proportioned to our extension of frontier, I propose a
moderate enlargement of the capital employed in that commerce as a more
effectual, economical, and humane instrument for preserving peace and good
neighborhood with them.

On this side of the Mississippi an important relinquishment of native title
has been received from the Delawares. That tribe, desiring to extinguish in
their people the spirit of hunting and to convert superfluous lands into
the means of improving what they retain, has ceded to us all the country
between the Wabash and Ohio south of and including the road from the rapids
toward Vincennes, for which they are to receive annuities in animals and
implements for agriculture and in other necessaries. This acquisition is
important, not only for its extent and fertility, but as fronting three
hundred miles on the Ohio, and near half that on the Wabash. The produce
of the settled country descending those rivers will no longer pass in
review of the Indian frontier but in a small portion, and, with the
cession heretofore made by the Kaskaskias, nearly consolidates our
possessions north of the Ohio, in a very respectable breadth--from Lake
Erie to the Mississippi. The Piankeshaws having some claim to the country
ceded by the Delawares, it has been thought best to quiet that by fair
purchase also. So soon as the treaties on this subject shall have received
their constitutional sanctions they shall be laid before both houses.

The act of Congress of February 28th, 1803, for building and employing a
number of gun boats, is now in a course of execution to the extent there
provided for. The obstacle to naval enterprise which vessels of this
construction offer for our sea port towns, their utility toward supporting
within our waters the authority of the laws, the promptness with which they
will be manned by the sea men and militia of the place in the moment they
are wanting, the facility of their assembling from different parts of the
coast to any point where they are required in greater force than ordinary,
the economy of their maintenance and preservation from decay when not in
actual service, and the competence of our finances to this defensive
provision without any new burthen are considerations which will have due
weight with Congress in deciding on the expediency of adding to their
number from year to year, as experience shall test their utility, until all
our important harbors, by these and auxiliary means, shall be secured
against insult and opposition to the laws.

No circumstance has arisen since your last session which calls for any
augmentation of our regular military force. Should any improvement occur in
the militia system, that will be always seasonable.

Accounts of the receipts and expenditures of the last year, with estimates
for the ensuing one, will as usual be laid before you.

The state of our finances continues to fulfill our expectations. $11.5
millions, received in the course of the year ending the 30th of September
last, have enabled us, after meeting all the ordinary expenses of the
year, to pay upward of $3.6 millions of the public debt, exclusive of
interest. This payment, with those of the two preceding years, has
extinguished upward of $12 millions of the principal and a greater sum
of interest within that period, and by a proportionate diminution of
interest renders already sensible the effect of the growing sum yearly
applicable to the discharge of the principal.

It is also ascertained that the revenue accrued during the last year
exceeds that of the preceding, and the probable receipts of the ensuing
year may safely be relied on as sufficient, with the sum already in the
Treasury, to meet all the current demands of the year, to discharge upward
of $3.5 millions of the engagements incurred under the British and French
conventions, and to advance in the further redemption of the funded debt as
rapidly as had been contemplated.

These, fellow citizens, are the principal matters which I have thought it
necessary at this time to communicate for your consideration and attention.
Some others will be laid before you in the course of the session; but in
the discharge of the great duties confided to you by our country you will
take a broader view of the field of legislation.

Whether the great interests of agriculture, manufactures, commerce, or
navigation can within the pale of your constitutional powers be aided in
any of their relations; whether laws are provided in all cases where they
are wanting; whether those provided are exactly what they should be; whether
any abuses take place in their administration, or in that of the public
revenues; whether the organization of the public agents or of the public
force is perfect in all its parts; in fine, whether anything can be done to
advance the general good, are questions within the limits of your functions
which will necessarily occupy your attention. In these and all other
matters which you in your wisdom may propose for the good of our country,
you may count with assurance on my hearty cooperation and faithful



State of the Union Address
Thomas Jefferson
December 3, 1805

The Senate and House of Representatives of the United States:

At a moment when the nations of Europe are in commotion and arming against
each other, and when those with whom we have principal intercourse are
engaged in the general contest, and when the countenance of some of them
toward our peaceable country threatens that even that may not be unaffected
by what is passing on the general theater, a meeting of the representatives
of the nation in both Houses of Congress has become more than usually
desirable. Coming from every section of our country, they bring with them
the sentiments and the information of the whole, and will be enabled to
give a direction to the public affairs which the will and the wisdom of the
whole will approve and support.

In taking a view of the state of our country we in the first place notice
the late affliction of two of our cities under the fatal fever which in
latter times has occasionally visited our shores. Providence in His
goodness gave it an early termination on this occasion and lessened the
number of victims which have usually fallen before it. In the course of the
several visitations by this disease it has appeared that it is strictly
local, incident to cities and on the tide waters only, incommunicable in
the country either by persons under the disease or by goods carried from
diseased places; that its access is with the autumn and it disappears with
the early frosts.

These restrictions within narrow limits of time and space give security
even to our maritime cities during three quarter of the year, and to the
country always. Although from these facts it appears unnecessary, yet to
satisfy the fears of foreign nations and cautions on their part not to be
complained of in a danger whose limits are yet unknown to them I have
strictly enjoined on the officers at the head of the customs to certify
with exact truth for every vessel sailing for a foreign port the state of
health respecting this fever which prevails at the place from which she
sails. Under every motive from character and duty to certify the truth, I
have no doubt they have faithfully executed this injunction. Much real
injury has, however, been sustained from a propensity to identify with this
endemic and to call by the same name fevers of very different kinds, which
have been known at all times and in all countries, and never have been
placed among those deemed contagious.

As we advance in our knowledge of this disease, as facts develop the source
from which individuals receive it, the State authorities charged with the
care of the public health, and Congress with that of the general commerce,
will become able to regulate with effect their respective functions in
these departments. The burthen of quarantines is felt at home as well as
abroad; their efficacy merits examination. Although the health laws of the
States should be found to need no present revisal by Congress, yet commerce
claims that their attention be ever awake to them.

Since our last meeting the aspect of our foreign relations has considerably
changed. Our coasts have been infested and our harbors watched by private
armed vessels, some of them without commissions, some with illegal
commissions, others with those of legal form, but committing practical acts
beyond the authority of their commissions. They have captured in the very
entrance of our harbors, as well as on the high seas, not only the vessels
of our friends coming to trade with us, but our own also. They have carried
them off under pretense of legal adjudication, but not daring to approach a
court of justice, they have plundered and sunk them by the way or in
obscure places where no evidence could arise against them, maltreated the
crews, and abandoned them in boats in the open sea or on desert shores
without food or clothing. These enormities appearing to be unreached by any
control of their sovereigns, I found it necessary to equip a force to
cruise within our own seas, to arrest all vessels of these descriptions
found hovering on our coasts within the limits of the Gulf Stream and to
bring the offenders in for trial as pirates.

The same system of hovering on our coasts and harbors under color of
seeking enemies has been also carried on by public armed ships to the great
annoyance and oppression of our commerce. New principles, too, have been
interpolated into the law of nations, founded neither in justice nor in the
usage or acknowledgment of nations. According to these a belligerent takes
to itself a commerce with its own enemy which it denies to a neutral on the
ground of its aiding that enemy in the war; but reason revolts at such
inconsistency, and the neutral having equal right with the belligerent to
decide the question, the interests of our constituents and the duty of
maintaining the authority of reason, the only umpire between just nations,
impose on us the obligation of providing an effectual and determined
opposition to a doctrine so injurious to the rights of peaceable nations.
Indeed, the confidence we ought to have in the justice of others still
countenances the hope that a sounder view of those rights will of itself
induce from every belligerent a more correct observance of them.

With Spain our negotiations for a settlement of differences have not had a
satisfactory issue. Spoliations during a former war, for which she had
acknowledged herself responsible, have been refused to be compensated but
on conditions affecting other claims in no wise connected with them. Yet
the same practices are renewed in the present war and are already of great
amount. On the Mobile, our commerce passing through that river continues to
be obstructed by arbitrary duties and vexatious searches. Propositions for
adjusting amicably the boundaries of Louisiana have not been acceded to.
While, however, the right is unsettled, we have avoided changing the state
of things by taking new posts or strengthening ourselves in the disputed
territories, in the hope that the other power would not by a contrary
conduct oblige us to meet their example and endanger conflicts of authority,
the issue of which may not be easily controlled. But in this hope we
have now reason to lessen our confidence.

Inroads have been recently made into the Territories of Orleans and the
Mississippi, our citizens have been seized and their property plundered in
the very parts of the former which had been actually delivered up by Spain,
and this by the regular officers and soldiers of that Government. I have
therefore found it necessary at length to give orders to our troops on that
frontier to be in readiness to protect our citizens, and to repel by arms
any similar aggressions in future. Other details necessary for your full
information of the state of things between this country and that shall be
the subject of another communication.

In reviewing these injuries from some of the belligerent powers the
moderation, the firmness, and the wisdom of the Legislature will be called
into action. We ought still to hope that time and a more correct estimate
of interest as well as of character will produce the justice we are bound
to expect, but should any nation deceive itself by false calculations, and
disappoint that expectation, we must join in the unprofitable contest of
trying which party can do the other the most harm.

Some of these injuries may perhaps admit a peaceable remedy. Where that is
competent it is always the most desirable. But some of them are of a nature
to be met by force only, and all of them may lead to it. I can not,
therefore, but recommend such preparations as circumstances call for.

The first object is to place our sea port towns out of the danger of
insult. Measures have been already taken for furnishing them with heavy
cannon for the service of such land batteries as may make a part of their
defense against armed vessels approaching them. In aid of these it is
desirable we should have a competent number of gun boats, and the number,
to be competent, must be considerable. If immediately begun, they may be in
readiness for service at the opening of the next season.

Whether it will be necessary to augment our land forces will be decided by
occurrences probably in the course of your session. In the mean time you
will consider whether it would not be expedient for a state of peace as
well as of war so to organize or class the militia as would enable us on
any sudden emergency to call for the services of the younger portions,
unencumbered with the old and those having families. Upward of three
hundred thousand able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 26 years,
which the last census shews we may now count within our limits, will
furnish a competent number for offense or defense in any point where they
may be wanted, and will give time for raising regular forces after the
necessity of them shall become certain; and the reducing to the early
period of life all its active service can not but be desirable to our
younger citizens of the present as well as future times, in as much as it
engages to them in more advanced age a quiet and undisturbed repose in
the bosom of their families. I can not, then, but earnestly recommend to
your early consideration the expediency of so modifying our militia
system as, by a separation of the more active part from that which is
less so, we may draw from it when necessary an efficient corps fit for
real and active service, and to be called to it in regular rotation.

Considerable provision has been made under former authorities from Congress
of material for the construction of ships of war of 74 guns. These
materials are on hand subject to the further will of the Legislature.

An immediate prohibition of the exportation of arms and ammunition is also
submitted to your determination.

Turning from these unpleasant views of violence and wrong, I congratulate
you on the liberation of our fellow citizens who were stranded on the coast
of Tripoli and made prisoners of war. In a government bottomed on the will
of all the life and liberty of every individual citizen become interesting
to all.

In the treaty, therefore, which has concluded our warfare with that State
an article for the ransom of our citizens has been agreed to. An operation
by land by a small band of our country-men and others, engaged for the
occasion in conjunction with the troops of the ex-Bashaw of that country,
gallantly conducted by our late consul, Eaton, and their successful
enterprise on the city of Derne, contributed doubtless to the impression
which produced peace, and the conclusion of this prevented opportunities of
which the officers and men of our squadron destined for Tripoli would have
availed themselves to emulate the acts of valor exhibited by their brethren
in the attack of the last year. Reflecting with high satisfaction on the
distinguished bravery displayed whenever occasions permitted it in the late
Mediterranean service, I think it would be an useful encouragement as well
as a just reward to make an opening for some present promotion by enlarging
our peace establishment of captains and lieutenants.

With Tunis some misunderstandings have arisen not yet sufficiently
explained, but friendly discussions with their ambassador recently arrived
and a mutual disposition to do whatever is just and reasonable can not fail
of dissipating these, so that we may consider our peace on that coast,
generally, to be on as sound a footing as it has been at any preceding
time. Still, it will not be expedient to withdraw immediately the whole of
our force from that sea.

The law providing for a naval peace establishment fixes the number of
frigates which shall be kept in constant service in time of peace, and
prescribes that they shall be manned by not more than two-thirds of their
complement of sea men and ordinary sea men. Whether a frigate may be
trusted to two-thirds only of her proper complement of men must depend on
the nature of the service on which she is ordered; that may sometimes, for
her safety as well as to insure her object, require her fullest complement.
In adverting to this subject Congress will perhaps consider whether the
best limitation on the Executive discretion in this case would not be by
the number of sea men which may be employed in the whole service rather
than by the number of vessels. Occasions oftener arise for the employment
of small than of large vessels, and it would lessen risk as well as
expense to be authorized to employ them of preference. The limitation
suggested by the number of sea men would admit a selection of vessels
best adapted to the service.

Our Indian neighbors are advancing, many of them with spirit, and others
beginning to engage in the pursuits of agriculture and household
manufacture. They are becoming sensible that the earth yields subsistence
with less labor and more certainty than the forest, and find it their
interest from time to time to dispose of parts of their surplus and waste
lands for the means of improving those they occupy and of subsisting their
families while they are preparing their farms. Since your last session the
Northern tribes have sold to us the lands between the Connecticut Reserve
and the former Indian boundary and those on the Ohio from the same boundary
to the rapids and for a considerable depth inland. The Chickasaws and
Cherokees have sold us the country between and adjacent to the two
districts of Tennessee, and the Creeks the residue of their lands in the
fork of the Ocmulgee up to the Ulcofauhatche. The three former purchases
are important, in as much as they consolidate disjoined parts of our
settled country and render their intercourse secure; and the second
particularly so, as, with the small point on the river which we expect is
by this time ceded by the Piankeshaws, it completes our possession of the
whole of both banks of the Ohio from its source to near its mouth, and the
navigation of that river is thereby rendered forever safe to our citizens
settled and settling on its extensive waters. The purchase from the Creeks,
too, has been for some time particularly interesting to the State of

The several treaties which have been mentioned will be submitted to both
Houses of Congress for the exercise of their respective functions.

Deputations now on their way to the seat of Government from various nations
of Indians inhabiting the Missouri and other parts beyond the Mississippi
come charged with assurances of their satisfaction with the new relations
in which they are placed with us, of their dispositions to cultivate our
peace and friendship, and their desire to enter into commercial intercourse
with us. A state of our progress in exploring the principal rivers of that
country, and of the information respecting them hitherto obtained, will be
communicated as soon as we shall receive some further relations which we
have reason shortly to expect.

The receipts of the Treasury during the year ending on the 30th day of
September last have exceeded the sum of $13 millions, which, with not
quite $5 millions in the Treasury at the beginning of the year, have
enabled us after meeting other demands to pay nearly $2 millions of the
debt contracted under the British treaty and convention, upward of $4
millions of principal of the public debt, and $4 millions of interest.
These payments, with those which had been made in three years and a half
preceding, have extinguished of the funded debt nearly $18 millions of
principal. Congress by their act of November 10th, 1803, authorized us to
borrow $1.75 millions toward meeting the claims of our citizens assumed by
the convention with France. We have not, however, made use of this
authority, because the sum of $4.5 millions, which remained in the
Treasury on the same 30th day of September last, with the receipts of
which we may calculate on for the ensuing year, besides paying the annual
sum of $8 millions appropriated to the funded debt and meeting all the
current demands which may be expected, will enable us to pay the whole
sum of $3.75 millions assumed by the French convention and still leave
us a surplus of nearly $1 million at our free disposal. Should you
concur in the provisions of arms and armed vessels recommended by the
circumstances of the times, this surplus will furnish the means of doing

On this first occasion of addressing Congress since, by the choice of my
constituents, I have entered on a second term of administration, I embrace
the opportunity to give this public assurance that I will exert my best
endeavors to administer faithfully the executive department, and will
zealously cooperate with you in every measure which may tend to secure the
liberty, property, and personal safety of our fellow citizens, and to
consolidate the republican forms and principles of our Government.

In the course of your session you shall receive all the aid which I can
give for the dispatch of public business, and all the information necessary
for your deliberations, of which the interests of our own country and the
confidence reposed in us by others will admit a communication.



State of the Union Address
Thomas Jefferson
December 2, 1806

The Senate and House of Representatives of the United States:

It would have given me, fellow citizens, great satisfaction to announce in
the moment of your meeting that the difficulties in our foreign relations
existing at the time of your last separation had been amicably and justly
terminated. I lost no time in taking those measures which were most likely
to bring them to such a termination--by special missions charged with such
powers and instructions as in the event of failure could leave no
imputation on either our moderation or forbearance. The delays which have
since taken place in our negotiations with the British Government appear to
have proceeded from causes which do not forbid the expectation that during
the course of the session I may be enabled to lay before you their final
issue. What will be that of the negotiations for settling our differences
with Spain nothing which had taken place at the date of the last dispatches
enables us to pronounce. On the western side of the Mississippi she
advanced in considerable force, and took post at the settlement of Bayou
Pierre, on the Red River. This village was originally settled by France,
was held by her as long as she held Louisiana, and was delivered to Spain
only as a part of Louisiana. Being small, insulated, and distant, it was
not observed at the moment of redelivery to France and the United States
that she continued a guard of half a dozen men which had been stationed
there. A proposition, however, having been lately made by our commander in
chief to assume the Sabine River as a temporary line of separation between
the troops of the two nations until the issue of our negotiations shall be
known, this has been referred by the Spanish commandant to his superior,
and in the mean time he has withdrawn his force to the western side of the
Sabine River. The correspondence on this subject now communicated will
exhibit more particularly the present state of things in that quarter.

The nature of that country requires indispensably that an unusual
proportion of the force employed there should be cavalry or mounted
infantry. In order, therefore, that the commanding officer might be enabled
to act with effect, I had authorized him to call on the governors of
Orleans and Mississippi for a corps of five hundred volunteer cavalry.
The temporary arrangement he has proposed may perhaps render this
unnecessary; but I inform you with great pleasure of the promptitude with
which the inhabitants of those Territories have tendered their services in
defense of their country. It has done honor to themselves, entitled them
to the confidence of their fellow citizens in every part of the Union,
and must strengthen the general determination to protect them
efficaciously under all circumstances which may occur.

Having received information that in another part of the United States a
great number of private individuals were combining together, arming and
organizing themselves contrary to law, to carry on a military expedition
against the territories of Spain, I thought it necessary, by proclamation
as well as by special orders, to take measures for preventing and
suppressing this enterprise, for seizing the vessels, arms, and other means
provided for it, and for arresting and bringing to justice its authors and
abettors. It was due to that good faith which ought ever to be the rule of
action in public as well as in private transactions, it was due to good
order and regular government, that while the public force was acting
strictly on defensive and merely to protect our citizens from aggression
the criminal attempts of private individuals to decide for their country
the question of peace or war by commencing active and unauthorized
hostilities should be promptly and efficaciously suppressed.

Whether it will be necessary to enlarge our regular forces will depend on
the result of our negotiations with Spain; but as it is uncertain when that
result will be known, the provisional measures requisite for that, and to
meet any pressure intervening in that quarter, will be a subject for your
early consideration.

The possession of both banks of the Mississippi reducing to a single point
the defense of that river, its waters, and the country adjacent, it becomes
highly necessary to provide for that point a more adequate security. Some
position above its mouth, commanding the passage of the river, should be
rendered sufficiently strong to cover the armed vessels which may be
stationed there for defense, and in conjunction with them to present an
insuperable obstacle to any force attempting to pass. The approaches to the
city of New Orleans from the eastern quarter also will require to be
examined and more effectually guarded. For the internal support of the
country the encouragement of a strong settlement on the western side of the
Mississippi, within reach of New Orleans, will be worthy the consideration
of the Legislature.

The gun boats authorized by an act of the last session are so advanced that
they will be ready for service in the ensuing spring. Circumstances
permitted us to allow the time necessary for their more solid construction.
As a much larger number will still be wanting to place our sea port towns
and waters in that state of defense to which we are competent and they
entitled, a similar appropriation for a further provision for them is
recommended for the ensuing year.

A further appropriation will also be necessary for repairing fortifications
already established and the erection of such other works as may have real
effect in obstructing the approach of an enemy to our sea port towns, or
their remaining before them.

In a country whose constitution is derived from the will of the people,
directly expressed by their free suffrages; where the principal executive
functionaries and those of the legislature are renewed by them at short
periods; where under the character of jurors they exercise in person the
greatest portion of the judiciary powers; where the laws are consequently
so formed and administered as to bear with equal weight and favor on all,
restraining no man in the pursuits of honest industry and securing to
everyone the property which that acquires, it would not be supposed that
any safe-guards could be needed against insurrection or enterprise on the
public peace or authority. The laws, however, aware that these should not
be trusted to moral restraints only, have wisely provided punishment for
these crimes when committed. But would it not be salutary to give also the
means of preventing their commission? Where an enterprise is meditated by
private individuals against a foreign nation in amity with the United
States, powers of prevention to a certain extent are given by the laws.
Would they not be as reasonable and useful where the enterprise preparing
is against the United States? While adverting to this branch of law it is
proper to observe that in enterprises meditated against foreign nations the
ordinary process of binding to the observance of the peace and good
behavior, could it be extended to acts to be done out of the jurisdiction
of the United States, would be effectual in some cases where the offender
is able to keep out of sight every indication of his purpose which could
draw on him the exercise of the powers now given by law.

The States on the coast of Barbary seem generally disposed at present to
respect our peace and friendship; with Tunis alone some uncertainty
remains. Persuaded that it is our interest to maintain our peace with them
on equal terms or not at all, I propose to send in due time a reenforcement
into the Mediterranean unless previous information shall show it to be

We continue to receive proofs of the growing attachment of our Indian
neighbors and of their dispositions to place all their interests under the
patronage of the United States. These dispositions are inspired by their
confidence in our justice and in the sincere concern we feel for their
welfare; and as long as we discharge these high and honorable functions
with the integrity and good faith which alone can entitle us to their
continuance we may expect to reap the just reward in their peace and

The expedition of Messrs. Lewis and Clarke for exploring the river Missouri
and the best communication from that to the Pacific Ocean has had all the
success which could have been expected. They have traced the Missouri
nearly to its source, descended the Columbia to the Pacific Ocean,
ascertained with accuracy the geography of that interesting communication
across our continent, learnt the character of the country, of its commerce
and inhabitants; and it is but justice to say that Messrs. Lewis and Clarke
and their brave companions have by this arduous service deserved well of
their country.

The attempt to explore the Red River, under the direction of Mr. Freeman,
though conducted with a zeal and prudence meriting entire approbation, has
not been equally successful. After proceeding up it about six hundred
miles, nearly as far as the French settlements had extended while the
country was in their possession, our geographers were obliged to return
without completing their work.

Very useful additions have also been made to our knowledge of the
Mississippi by Lieutenant Pike, who has ascended it to its source, and
whose journal and map, giving the details of his journey, will shortly be
ready for communication to both Houses of Congress. Those of Messrs. Lewis,
Clarke, and Freeman will require further time to be digested and prepared.
These important surveys, in addition to those before possessed, furnish
materials for commencing an accurate map of the Mississippi and its western
waters. Some principal rivers, however, remain still to be explored, toward
which the authorization of Congress by moderate appropriations will be

I congratulate you, fellow citizens, on the approach of the period at which
you may interpose your authority constitutionally to withdraw the citizens
of the United States from all further participation in those violations of
human rights which have been so long continued on the unoffending
inhabitants of Africa, and which the morality, the reputation, and the best
of our country have long been eager to proscribe. Although no law you may
pass can take prohibitory effect until the first day of the year 1808,
yet the intervening period is not too long to prevent by timely notice
expeditions which can not be completed before that day.

The receipts at the Treasury during the year ending on the 30th day of
September last have amounted to near $15 millions, which have enabled us,
after meeting the current demands, to pay $2.7 millions of the American
claims in part of the price of Louisiana; to pay of the funded debt upward
of $3 millions of principal and nearly $4 millions of interest, and, in
addition, to reimburse in the course of the present month near $2
millions of 5.5% stock. These payments and reimbursements of the funded
debt, with those which had been made in the four years and a half
preceding, will at the close of the present year have extinguished upward
of $23 millions of principal.

The duties composing the Mediterranean fund will cease by law at the end of
the present session. Considering, however, that they are levied chiefly on
luxuries and that we have an impost on salt, a necessary of life, the free
use of which otherwise is so important, I recommend to your consideration
the suppression of the duties on salt and the continuation of the
Mediterranean fund instead thereof for a short time, after which that also
will become unnecessary for any purpose now within contemplation.

When both of these branches of revenue shall in this way be relinquished
there will still ere long be an accumulation of moneys in the Treasury
beyond the installments of public debt which we are permitted by contract
to pay. They can not then, without a modification assented to by the public
creditors, be applied to the extinguishment of this debt and the complete
liberation of our revenues, the most desirable of all objects. Nor, if our
peace continues, will they be wanting for any other existing purpose. The
question therefore now comes forward, To what other objects shall these
surpluses be appropriated, and the whole surplus of impost, after the
entire discharge of the public debt, and during those intervals when the
purposes of war shall not call for them? Shall we suppress the impost and
give that advantage to foreign over domestic manufactures? On a few
articles of more general and necessary use the suppression in due season
will doubtless be right, but the great mass of the articles on which impost
is paid are foreign luxuries, purchased by those only who are rich enough
to afford themselves the use of them.

Their patriotism would certainly prefer its continuance and application to
the great purposes of the public education, roads, rivers, canals, and such
other objects of public improvement as it may be thought proper to add to
the constitutional enumeration of Federal powers. By these operations new
channels of communications will be opened between the States, the lines of
separation will disappear, their interests will be identified, and their
union cemented by new and indissoluble ties. Education is here placed among
the articles of public care, not that it would be proposed to take its
ordinary branches out of the hands of private enterprise, which manages so
much better all the concerns to which it is equal, but a public institution
can alone supply those sciences which though rarely called for are yet
necessary to complete the circle, all the parts of which contribute to the
improvement of the country and some of them to its preservation.

The subject is now proposed for the consideration of Congress, because if
approved by the time the State legislatures shall have deliberated on this
extension of the Federal trusts, and the laws shall be passed and other
arrangements made for their execution, the necessary funds will be on hand
and without employment.

I suppose an amendment to the Constitution, by consent of the States,
necessary, because the objects now recommended are not among those
enumerated in the Constitution, and to which it permits the public moneys
to be applied.

The present consideration of a national establishment for education
particularly is rendered proper by this circumstance also, that if
Congress, approving the proposition, shall yet think it more eligible to
found it on a donation of lands, they have it now in their power to endow
it with those which will be among the earliest to produce the necessary
income. This foundation would have the advantage of being independent of
war, which may suspend other improvements by requiring for its own purposes
the resources destined for them.

This, fellow citizens, is the state of the public interests at the present
moment and according to the information now possessed. But such is the
situation of the nations of Europe and such, too, the predicament in which
we stand with some of them that we can not rely with certainty on the
present aspect of our affairs, that may change from moment to moment during
the course of your session or after you shall have separated.

Our duty is, therefore, to act upon things as they are and to make a
reasonable provision for whatever they may be. Were armies to be raised
whenever a speck of war is visible in our horizon, we never should have
been without them. Our resources would have been exhausted on dangers which
have never happened, instead of being reserved for what is really to take
place. A steady, perhaps a quickened, pace in preparation for the defense
of our sea port towns and waters; an early settlement of the most exposed
and vulnerable parts of our country; a militia so organized that its
effective portions can be called to any point in the Union, or volunteers
instead of them to serve a sufficient time, are means which may always be
ready, yet never preying on our resources until actually called into use.
They will maintain the public interests while a more permanent force shall
be in course of preparation. But much will depend on the promptitude with
which these means can be brought into activity. If war be forced upon us,
in spite of our long and vain appeals to the justice of nations, rapid and
vigorous movements in its outset will go far toward securing us in its
course and issue, and toward throwing its burthens on those who render
necessary the resort from reason to force.

The result of our negotiations, or such incidents in their course as may
enable us to infer their probable issue; such further movements also on our
western frontiers as may shew whether war is to be pressed there while
negotiation is protracted elsewhere, shall be communicated to you from time
to time as they become known to me, with whatever other information I
possess or may receive, which may aid your deliberations on the great
national interests committed to your charge.



State of the Union Address
Thomas Jefferson
October 27, 1807

The Senate and House of Representatives of the United States:

Circumstances, fellow citizens, which seriously threatened the peace of our
country have made it a duty to convene you at an earlier period than usual.
The love of peace so much cherished in the bosoms of our citizens, which
has so long guided the proceedings of their public councils and induced
forbearance under so many wrongs, may not insure our continuance in the
quiet pursuits of industry. The many injuries and depredations committed on
our commerce and navigation upon the high seas for years past, the
successive innovations on those principles of public law which have been
established by the reason and usage of nations as the rule of their
intercourse and the umpire and security of their rights and peace, and all
the circumstances which induced the extraordinary mission to London are
already known to you.

The instructions given to our ministers were framed in the sincerest spirit
of amity and moderation. They accordingly proceeded, in conformity
therewith, to propose arrangements which might embrace and settle all the
points in difference between us, which might bring us to a mutual
understanding on our neutral and national rights and provide for a
commercial intercourse on conditions of some equality. After long and
fruitless endeavors to effect the purposes of their mission and to obtain
arrangements within the limits of their instructions, they concluded to
sign such as could be obtained and to send them for consideration, candidly
declaring to the other negotiators at the same time that they were acting
against their instructions, and that their Government, therefore, could not
be pledged for ratification.

Some of the articles proposed might have been admitted on a principle of
compromise, but others were too highly disadvantageous, and no sufficient
provision was made against the principal source of the irritations and
collisions which were constantly endangering the peace of the two nations.
The question, therefore, whether a treaty should be accepted in that form
could have admitted but of one decision, even had no declarations of the
other party impaired our confidence in it. Still anxious not to close the
door against friendly adjustment, new modifications were framed and further
concessions authorized than could before have been supposed necessary; and
our ministers were instructed to resume their negotiations on these

On this new reference to amicable discussion we were reposing in
confidence, when on the 22nd day of June last by a formal order from a
British admiral the frigate Chesapeake, leaving her port for a distant
service, was attacked by one of those vessels which had been lying in our
harbors under the indulgences of hospitality, was disabled from proceeding,
had several of her crew killed and four taken away. On this outrage no
commentaries are necessary. Its character has been pronounced by the
indignant voices of our citizens with an emphasis and unanimity never
exceeded. I immediately, by proclamation, interdicted our harbors and
waters to all British armed vessels, forbade intercourse with them, and
uncertain how far hostilities were intended, and the town of Norfolk,
indeed, being threatened with immediate attack, a sufficient force was
ordered for the protection of that place, and such other preparations
commenced and pursued as the prospect rendered proper. An armed vessel of
the United States was dispatched with instructions to our ministers at
London to call on that Government for the satisfaction and security
required by the outrage. A very short interval ought now to bring the
answer, which shall be communicated to you as soon as received; then also,
or as soon after as the public interests shall be found to admit, the
unratified treaty and proceedings relative to it shall be made known to

The aggression thus begun has been continued on the part of the British
commanders by remaining within our waters in defiance of the authority of
the country, by habitual violations of its jurisdiction, and at length by
putting to death one of the persons whom they had forcibly taken from on
board the Chesapeake. These aggravations necessarily lead to the policy
either of never admitting an armed vessel into our harbors or of
maintaining in every harbor such an armed force as may constrain obedience
to the laws and protect the lives and property of our citizens against
their armed guests; but the expense of such a standing force and its
inconsistence with our principles dispense with those courtesies which
would necessarily call for it, and leave us equally free to exclude the
navy, as we are the army, of a foreign power from entering our limits.

To former violations of maritime rights another is now added of very
extensive effect. The Government of that nation has issued an order
interdicting all trade by neutrals between ports not in amity with them;
and being now at war with nearly every nation on the Atlantic and
Mediterranean seas, our vessels are required to sacrifice their cargoes at
the first port they touch or to return home without the benefit of going to
any other market. Under this new law of the ocean our trade on the
Mediterranean has been swept away by seizures and condemnations, and that
in other seas is threatened with the same fate.

Our differences with Spain remain still unsettled, no measure having been
taken on her part since my last communications to Congress to bring them to
a close. But under a state of things which may favor reconsideration they
have been recently pressed, and an expectation is entertained that they may
now soon be brought to an issue of some sort. With their subjects on our
borders no new collisions have taken place nor seem immediately to be
apprehended. To our former grounds of complaint has been added a very
serious one, as you will see by the decree a copy of which is now
communicated. Whether this decree, which professes to be conformable to
that of the French Government of November 21st, 1806, heretofore
communicated to Congress, will also be conformed to that in its
construction and application in relation to the United States had not
been ascertained at the date of our last communications. These, however,
gave reason to expect such a conformity.

With the other nations of Europe our harmony has been uninterrupted, and
commerce and friendly intercourse have been maintained on their usual

Our peace with the several states on the coast of Barbary appears as firm
as at any former period and as likely to continue as that of any other

Among our Indian neighbors in the northwestern quarter some fermentation
was observed soon after the late occurrences, threatening the continuance
of our peace. Messages were said to be interchanged and tokens to be
passing, which usually denote a state of restless among them, and the
character of the agitators pointed to the sources of excitement. Measures
were immediately taken for providing against that danger; instructions were
given to require explanations, and, with assurances of our continued
friendship, to admonish the tribes to remain quiet at home, taking no part
in quarrels not belonging to them. As far as we are yet informed, the
tribes in our vicinity, who are most advanced in the pursuits of industry,
are sincerely disposed to adhere to their friendship with us and to their
peace with all others, while those more remote do not present appearances
sufficiently quiet to justify the intermission of military precaution on
our part.

The great tribes on our southwestern quarter, much advanced beyond the
others in agriculture and household arts, appear tranquil and identifying
their views with ours in proportion to their advancement. With the whole of
these people, in every quarter, I shall continue to inculcate peace and
friendship with all their neighbors and perseverance in those occupations
and pursuits which will best promote their own well-being.

The appropriations of the last session for the defense of our sea port
towns and harbors were made under expectation that a continuance of our
peace would permit us to proceed in that work according to our convenience.
It has been thought better to apply the sums then given toward the defense
of New York, Charleston, and New Orleans chiefly, as most open and most
likely first to need protection, and to leave places less immediately in
danger to the provisions of the present session.

The gun boats, too, already provided have on a like principle been chiefly
assigned to New York, New Orleans, and the Chesapeake. Whether our movable
force on the water, so material in aid of the defensive works on the land,
should be augmented in this or any other form is left to the wisdom of the
Legislature. For the purpose of manning these vessels in sudden attacks on
our harbors it is a matter for consideration whether the sea men of the
United States may not justly be formed into a special militia, to be called
on for tours of duty in defense of the harbors where they shall happen to
be, the ordinary militia of the place furnishing that portion which may
consist of landsmen.

The moment our peace was threatened I deemed it indispensable to secure a
greater provision of those articles of military stores with which our
magazines were not sufficiently furnished. To have awaited a previous and
special sanction by law would have lost occasions which might not be
retrieved. I did not hesitate, therefore, to authorize engagements for such
supplements to our existing stock as would render it adequate to the
emergencies threatening us, and I trust that the Legislature, feeling the
same anxiety for the safety of our country, so materially advanced by this
precaution, will approve, when done, what they would have seen so important
to be done if then assembled. Expenses, also unprovided for, arose out of
the necessity of calling all our gun boats into actual service for the
defense of our harbors; all of which accounts will be laid before you.

Whether a regular army is to be raised, and to what extent, must depend on
the information so shortly expected. In the mean time I have called on the
States for quotas of militia, to be in readiness for present defense, and
have, moreover, encouraged the acceptance of volunteers; and I am happy to
inform you that these have offered themselves with great alacrity in every
part of the Union. They are ordered to be organized and ready at a
moment's warning to proceed on any service to which they may be
called, and every preparation within the Executive powers has been made to
insure us the benefit of early exertions.

I informed Congress at their last session of the enterprises against the
public peace which were believed to be in preparation by Aaron Burr and his
associates, of the measures taken to defeat them and to bring the offenders
to justice. Their enterprises were happily defeated by the patriotic
exertions of the militia whenever called into action, by the fidelity of
the Army, and energy of the commander in chief in promptly arranging the
difficulties presenting themselves on the Sabine, repairing to meet those
arising on the Mississippi, and dissipating before their explosion plots
engendering there. I shall think it my duty to lay before you the
proceedings and the evidence publicly exhibited on the arraignment of the
principal offenders before the circuit court of Virginia.

You will be enabled to judge whether the defect was in the testimony, in
the law, or in the administration of the law; and wherever it shall be
found, the Legislature alone can apply or originate the remedy. The framers
of our Constitution certainly supposed they had guarded as well their
Government against destruction by treason as their citizens against
oppression under pretense of it, and if these ends are not attained it is
of importance to inquire by what means more effectual they may be secured.

The accounts of the receipts of revenue during the year ending on the 30th
day of September last being not yet made up, a correct statement will be
hereafter transmitted from the Treasury. In the mean time, it is
ascertained that the receipts have amounted to near $16 millions, which,
with the $5.5 millions in the Treasury at the beginning of the year, have
enabled us, after meeting the current demands and interest incurred, to
pay more than $4 millions of the principal of our funded debt. These
payments, with those of the preceding five and a half years, have
extinguished of the funded debt $25.5 millions, being the whole which
could be paid or purchased within the limits of the law and of our
contracts, and have left us in the Treasury $8.5 millions.

A portion of this sum may be considered as a commencement of accumulation
of the surpluses of revenue which, after paying the installments of debt as
they shall become payable, will remain without any specific object. It may
partly, indeed, be applied toward completing the defense of the exposed
points of our country, on such a scale as shall be adapted to our
principles and circumstances. This object is doubtless among the first
entitled to attention in such a state of our finances, and it is one which,
whether we have peace or war, will provide security where it is due.
Whether what shall remain of this, with the future surpluses, may be
usefully applied to purposes already authorized or more usefully to others
requiring new authorities, or how otherwise they shall be disposed of, are
questions calling for the notice of Congress, unless, indeed, they shall be
superseded by a change in our public relations now awaiting the
determination of others. Whatever be that determination, it is a great
consolation that it will become known at a moment when the supreme council
of the nation is assembled at its post, and ready to give the aids of its
wisdom and authority to whatever course the good of our country shall then
call us to pursue.

Matters of minor importance will be the subjects of future communications,
and nothing shall be wanting on my part which may give information or
dispatch to the proceedings of the Legislature in the exercise of their
high duties, and at a moment so interesting to the public welfare.



State of the Union Address
Thomas Jefferson
November 8, 1808

The Senate and House of Representatives of the United States:

It would have been a source, fellow citizens, of much gratification if our
last communications from Europe had enabled me to inform you that the
belligerent nations, whose disregard of neutral rights has been so
destructive to our commerce, had become awakened to the duty and true
policy of revoking their unrighteous edicts. That no means might be omitted
to produce this salutary effect, I lost no time in availing myself of the
act authorizing a suspension, in whole or in part, of the several embargo
laws. Our ministers at London and Paris were instructed to explain to the
respective Governments there our disposition to exercise the authority in
such manner as would withdraw the pretext on which the aggressions were
originally founded and open the way for a renewal of that commercial
intercourse which it was alleged on all sides had been reluctantly

As each of those Governments had pledged its readiness to concur in
renouncing a measure which reached its adversary through the incontestable
rights of neutrals only, and as the measure had been assumed by each as a
retaliation for an asserted acquiescence in the aggression of the other, it
was reasonably expected that the occasion would have been seized by both
for evincing the sincerity of their professions, and for restoring to the
commerce of the United States its legitimate freedom. The instructions to
our ministers with respect to the different belligerents were necessarily
modified with a reference to their different circumstances, and to the
condition annexed by law to the Executive power of suspension, requiring a
decree of security to our commerce which would not result from a repeal of
the decrees of France. Instead of a pledge, therefore, of a suspension of
the embargo as to her in case of such a repeal, it was presumed that a
sufficient inducement might be found in other considerations, and
particularly in the change produced by a compliance with our just demands
by one belligerent and a refusal by the other in the relations between the
other and the United States.

To Great Britain, whose power on the ocean is so ascendant, it was deemed
not inconsistent with that condition to state explicitly that on her
rescinding her orders in relation to the United States their trade would be
opened with her, and remain shut to her enemy in case of his failure to
rescind his decrees also. From France no answer has been received, nor any
indication that the requisite change in her decrees is contemplated. The
favorable reception of the proposition to Great Britain was the less to be
doubted, as her orders of council had not only been referred for their
vindication to an acquiescence on the part of the United States no longer
to be pretended, but as the arrangement proposed, whilst it resisted the
illegal decrees of France, involved, moreover, substantially the precise
advantages professedly aimed at by the British orders. The arrangement has
nevertheless been rejected.

This candid and liberal experiment having thus failed, and no other event
having occurred on which a suspension of the embargo by the Executive was
authorized, it necessarily remains in the extent originally given to it. We
have the satisfaction, however, to reflect that in return for the
privations imposed by the measure, and which our fellow citizens in general
have borne with patriotism, it has had the important effects of saving our
mariners and our vast mercantile property, as well as of affording time for
prosecuting the defensive and provisional measures called for by the
occasion. It has demonstrated to foreign nations the moderation and
firmness which govern our councils, and to our citizens the necessity of
uniting in support of the laws and the rights of their country, and has
thus long frustrated those usurpations and spoliations which, if resisted,
involved war; if submitted to, sacrificed a vital principle of our national

Under a continuance of the belligerent measures which, in defiance of laws
which consecrate the rights of neutrals, overspread the ocean with danger,
it will rest with the wisdom of Congress to decide on the course best
adapted to such a state of things; and bringing with them, as they do, from
every part of the Union the sentiments of our constituents, my confidence
is strengthened that in forming this decision they will, with an unerring
regard to the essential rights and interests of the nation, weigh and
compare the painful alternatives out of which a choice is to be made. Nor
should I do justice to the virtues which on other occasions have marked the
character of our fellow citizens if I did not cherish an equal confidence
that the alternative chosen, whatever it may be, will be maintained with
all the fortitude and patriotism which the crisis ought to inspire.

The documents containing the correspondences on the subject of the foreign
edicts against our commerce, with the instructions given to our ministers
at London and Paris, are now laid before you.

The communications made to Congress at their last session explained the
posture in which the close of the discussions relating to the attack by a
British ship of war on the frigate Chesapeake left a subject on which the
nation had manifested so honorable a sensibility. Every view of what had
passed authorized a belief that immediate steps would be taken by the
British Government for redressing a wrong which the more it was
investigated appeared the more clearly to require what had not been
provided for in the special mission. It is found that no steps have been
taken for the purpose. On the contrary, it will be seen in the documents
laid before you that the inadmissible preliminary which obstructed the
adjustment is still adhered to, and, moreover, that it is now brought into
connection with the distinct and irrelative case of the orders in council.
The instructions which had been given to our minister at London with a view
to facilitate, if necessary, the reparation claimed by the United States
are included in the documents communicated.

Our relations with the other powers of Europe have undergone no material
changes since your last session. The important negotiations with Spain
which had been alternately suspended and resumed necessarily experience a
pause under the extraordinary and interesting crisis which distinguishes
her internal situation.

With the Barbary Powers we continue in harmony, with the exception of an
unjustifiable proceeding of the Dey of Algiers toward our consul to that
Regency. Its character and circumstances are now laid before you, and will
enable you to decide how far it may, either now or hereafter, call for any
measures not within the limits of the Executive authority.

With our Indian neighbors the public peace has been steadily maintained.
Some instances of individual wrong have, as at other times, taken place,
but in no wise implicating the will of the nation. Beyond the Mississippi
the Ioways, the Sacs and the Alabamas have delivered up for trial and
punishment individuals from among themselves accused of murdering citizens
of the United States. On this side of the Mississippi the Creeks are
exerting themselves to arrest offenders of the same kind, and the Choctaws
have manifested their readiness and desire for amicable and just
arrangements respecting depredations committed by disorderly persons of
their tribe. And, generally, from a conviction that we consider them as a
part of ourselves, and cherish with sincerity their rights and interests,
the attachment of the Indian tribes is gaining strength daily--is
extending from the nearer to the more remote, and will amply requite us for
the justice and friendship practiced toward them. Husbandry and household
manufacture are advancing among them more rapidly with the Southern than
Northern tribes, from circumstances of soil and climate, and one of the two
great divisions of the Cherokee Nation have now under consideration to
solicit the citizenship of the United States, and to be identified with us
in laws and government in such progressive manner as we shall think best.

In consequence of the appropriations of the last session of Congress for
the security of our sea port towns and harbors, such works of defense have
been erected as seemed to be called for by the situation of the several
places, their relative importance, and the scale of expense indicated by
the amount of the appropriation. These works will chiefly be finished in
the course of the present season, except at New York and New Orleans, where
most was to be done; and although a great proportion of the last
appropriation has been expended on the former place, yet some further views
will be submitted to Congress for rendering its security entirely adequate
against naval enterprise. A view of what has been done at the several
places, and of what is proposed to be done, shall be communicated as soon
as the several reports are received.

Of the gun boats authorized by the act of December last, it has been
thought necessary to build only one hundred and three in the present year.
These, with those before possessed, are sufficient for the harbors and
waters most exposed, and the residents will require little time for their
construction when it shall be deemed necessary.

Under the act of the last session for raising an additional military force
so many officers were immediately appointed as were necessary for carrying
on the business of recruiting, and in proportion as it advanced others have
been added. We have reason to believe their success has been satisfactory,
although such returns have not yet been received as enable me to present
you a statement of the numbers engaged.

I have not thought it necessary in the course of the last season to call
for any general detachments of militia or of volunteers under the laws
passed for that purpose. For the ensuing season, however, they will be
required to be in readiness should their service be wanted. Some small and
special detachments have been necessary to maintain the laws of embargo on
that portion of our northern frontier which offered peculiar facilities for
evasion, but these were replaced as soon as it could be done by bodies of
new recruits. By the aid of these and of the armed vessels called into
service in other quarters the spirit of disobedience and abuse, which
manifested itself early and with sensible effect while we were unprepared
to meet it, has been considerably repressed.

Considering the extraordinary character of the times in which we live, our
attention should unremittingly be fixed on the safety of our country. For a
people who are free, and who mean to remain so, a well organized and armed
militia is their best security. It is therefore incumbent on us at every
meeting to revise the condition of the militia, and to ask ourselves if it
is prepared to repel a powerful enemy at every point of our territories
exposed to invasion. Some of the States have paid a laudable attention to
this object, but every degree of neglect is to be found among others.
Congress alone having the power to produce an uniform state of preparation
in this great organ of defense, the interests which they so deeply feel in
their own and their country's security will present this as among the most
important objects of their deliberation.

Under the acts of March 11th and April 23rd respecting arms, the
difficulty of procuring them from abroad during the present situation
and dispositions of Europe induced us to direct our whole efforts to the
means of internal supply. The public factories have therefore been
enlarged, additional machineries erected, and, in proportion as
artificers can be found or formed, their effect, already more than
doubled, may be increased so as to keep pace with the yearly increase
of the militia. The annual sums appropriated by the latter have been
directed to the encouragement of private factories of arms, and contracts
have been entered into with individual undertakers to nearly the amount
of the first year's appropriation.

The suspension of our foreign commerce, produced by the injustice of the
belligerent powers and the consequent losses and sacrifices of our citizens
are subjects of just concern. The situation into which we have thus been
forced has impelled us to apply a portion of our industry and capital to
internal manufactures and improvements. The extent of this conversion is
daily increasing, and little doubt remains that the establishments formed
and forming will, under the auspices of cheaper materials and subsistence,
the freedom of labor from taxation with us, and of protecting duties and
prohibitions, become permanent. The commerce with the Indians, too, within
our own boundaries is likely to receive abundant aliment from the same
internal source, and will secure to them peace and the progress of
civilization, undisturbed by practices hostile to both.

The accounts of the receipts and expenditures during the year ending the
30th of September last being not yet made up, a correct statement will
hereafter be transmitted from the Treasury. In the mean time it is
ascertained that the receipts have amounted to near $18 millions, which,
with the $8.5 millions in the Treasury at the beginning of the year, have
enabled us, after meeting the current demands and interest incurred, to
pay $2.3 millions of the principal of our funded debt, and left us in
the Treasury on that day near $14 millions. Of these, $5.35 millions will
be necessary to pay what will be due on the 1st day of January next, which
will complete the reimbursement of the 8% stock. These payments, with
those made in the six and a half years preceding, will have extinguished
$33.58 millions of the principal of the funded debt, being the whole which
could be paid or purchased within the limits of the law and of our
contracts, and the amount of principal thus discharged will have liberated
the revenue from about $2 millions of interest and added that sum annually
to the disposable surplus.

The probable accumulation of the surpluses of revenue beyond what can be
applied to the payment of the public debt whenever the freedom and safety
of our commerce shall be restored merits the consideration of Congress.
Shall it lie unproductive in the public vaults? Shall the revenue be
reduced? Or shall it not rather be appropriated to the improvements of
roads, canals, rivers, education, and other great foundations of prosperity
and union under the powers which Congress may already possess or such
amendment to the Constitution as may be approved by the States? While
uncertain of the course of things, the time may be advantageously employed
in obtaining the powers necessary for a system of improvement, should that
be thought best.

Availing myself of this the last occasion which will occur of addressing
the two Houses of the Legislature at their meeting, I can not omit the
expression of my sincere gratitude for the repeated proofs of confidence
manifested to me by themselves and their predecessors since my call to the
administration and the many indulgences experienced at their hands. These
same grateful acknowledgements are due to my fellow citizens generally,
whose support has been my great encouragement under all embarrassments. In
the transaction of their business I can not have escaped error. It is
incident to our imperfect nature. But I may say with truth my errors have
been of the understanding, not of intention, and that the advancement of
their rights and interests has been the constant motive for every measure.
On these considerations I solicit their indulgence. Looking forward with
anxiety to future destinies, I trust that in their steady character,
unshaken by difficulties, in their love of liberty, obedience to law, and
support of the public authorities, I see a sure guaranty of the permanence
of our Republic; and, retiring from the charge of their affairs, I carry
with me the consolation of a firm persuasion that Heaven has in store for
our beloved country long ages to come of prosperity and happiness.



State of the Union Address
James Madison
November 29, 1809

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

At the period of our last meeting I had the satisfaction of communicating
an adjustment with one of the principal belligerent nations, highly
important in itself, and still more so as presaging a more extended
accommodation. It is with deep concern I am now to inform you that the
favorable prospect has been over-clouded by a refusal of the British
Government to abide by the act of its minister plenipotentiary, and by its
ensuing policy toward the United States as seen through the communications
of the minister sent to replace him.

Whatever pleas may be urged for a disavowal of engagements formed by
diplomatic functionaries in cases where by the terms of the engagements a
mutual ratification is reserved, or where notice at the time may have been
given of a departure from instructions, or in extraordinary cases
essentially violating the principles of equity, a disavowal could not have
been apprehended in a case where no such notice or violation existed, where
no such ratification was reserved, and more especially where, as is now in
proof, an engagement to be executed without any such ratification was
contemplated by the instructions given, and where it had with good faith
been carried into immediate execution on the part of the United States.

These considerations not having restrained the British Government from
disavowing the arrangement by virtue of which its orders in council were to
be revoked, and the event authorizing the renewal of commercial intercourse
having thus not taken place, it necessarily became a question of equal
urgency and importance whether the act prohibiting that intercourse was not
to be considered as remaining in legal force. This question being, after
due deliberation, determined in the affirmative, a proclamation to that
effect was issued. It could not but happen, however, that a return to this
state of things from that which had followed an execution of the
arrangement by the United States would involve difficulties. With a view to
diminish these as much as possible, the instructions from the Secretary of
the Treasury now laid before you were transmitted to the collectors of the
several ports. If in permitting British vessels to depart without giving
bonds not to proceed to their own ports it should appear that the tenor of
legal authority has not been strictly pursued, it is to be ascribed to the
anxious desire which was felt that no individuals should be injured by so
unforeseen an occurrence; and I rely on the regard of Congress for the
equitable interests of our own citizens to adopt whatever further
provisions may be found requisite for a general remission of penalties
involuntarily incurred.

The recall of the disavowed minister having been followed by the
appointment of a successor, hopes were indulged that the new mission would
contribute to alleviate the disappointment which had been produced, and to
remove the causes which had so long embarrassed the good understanding of
the two nations. It could not be doubted that it would at least be charged
with conciliatory explanations of the step which had been taken and with
proposals to be substituted for the rejected arrangement.

Reasonable and universal as this expectation was, it also has not been
fulfilled. From the first official disclosures of the new minister it was
found that he had received no authority to enter into explanations relative
to either branch of the arrangement disavowed nor any authority to
substitute proposals as to that branch which concerned the British orders
in council, and, finally, that his proposals with regard to the other
branch, the attack on the frigate Chesapeake, were founded on a
presumption repeatedly declared to be inadmissible by the United States,
that the first step toward adjustment was due from them, the proposals
at the same time omitting even a reference to the officer answerable for
the murderous aggression, and asserting a claim not less contrary to the
British laws and British practice than to the principles and obligations
of the United States.

The correspondence between the Department of State and this minister will
show how unessentially the features presented in its commencement have been
varied in its progress. It will show also that, forgetting the respect due
to all governments, he did not refrain from imputations on this, which
required that no further communications should be received from him. The
necessity of this step will be made known to His Britannic Majesty through
the minister plenipotentiary of the United States in London; and it would
indicate a want of the confidence due to a Government which so well
understands and exacts what becomes foreign ministers near it not to infer
that the misconduct of its own representative will be viewed in the same
light in which it has been regarded here. The British Government will learn
at the same time that a ready attention will be given to communications
through any channel which may be substituted. It will be happy if the
change in this respect should be accompanied by a favorable revision of the
unfriendly policy which has been so long pursued toward the United States.

With France, the other belligerent, whose trespasses on our commercial
rights have long been the subject of our just remonstrances, the posture of
our relations does not correspond with the measures taken on the part of
the United States to effect a favorable change. The result of the several
communications made to her Government, in pursuance of the authorities
vested by Congress in the Executive, is contained in the correspondence of
our minister at Paris now laid before you.

By some of the other belligerents, although professing just and amicable
dispositions, injuries materially affecting our commerce have not been duly
controlled or repressed. In these cases the interpositions deemed proper on
our part have not been omitted. But it well deserves the consideration of
the Legislature how far both the safety and the honor of the American flag
may be consulted, by adequate provisions against that collusive
prostitution of it by individuals unworthy of the American name which has
so much flavored the real or pretended suspicions under which the honest
commerce of their fellow citizens has suffered.

In relation to the powers on the coast of Barbary, nothing has occurred
which is not of a nature rather to inspire confidence than distrust as to
the continuance of the existing amity. With our Indian neighbors, the just
and benevolent system continued toward them has also preserved peace, and
is more and more advancing habits favorable to their civilization and

From a statement which will be made by the Secretary of War it will be seen
that the fortifications on our maritime frontier are in many of the ports
completed, affording the defense which was contemplated, and that a further
time will be required to render complete the works in the harbor of New
York and in some other places. By the enlargement of the works and the
employment of a greater number of hands at the public armories the supply
of small arms of an improving quality appears to be annually increasing at
a rate that, with those made on private contract, may be expected to go far
toward providing for the public exigency.

The act of Congress providing for the equipment of our vessels of war
having been fully carried into execution, I refer to the statement of the
Secretary of the Navy for the information which may be proper on that
subject. To that statement is added a view of the transfers of
appropriations authorized by the act of the session preceding the last and
of the grounds on which the transfers were made.

Whatever may be the course of your deliberations on the subject of our
military establishments, I should fail in my duty in not recommending to
your serious attention the importance of giving to our militia, the great
bulwark of our security and resource of our power, an organization best
adapted to eventual situations for which the United States ought to be

The sums which had been previously accumulated in the Treasury, together
with the receipts during the year ending on the 30th of September last (and
amounting to more than $9 millions), have enabled us to fulfill all our
engagements and to defray the current expenses of Government without
recurring to any loan. But the insecurity of our commerce and the
consequent diminution of the public revenue will probably produce a
deficiency in the receipts of the ensuing year, for which and for other
details I refer to the statements which will be transmitted from the

In the state which has been presented of our affairs with the great parties
to a disastrous and protracted war, carried on in a mode equally injurious
and unjust to the United States as a neutral nation, the wisdom of the
National Legislature will be again summoned to the important decision on
the alternatives before them. That these will be met in a spirit worthy the
councils of a nation conscious both of its rectitude and of its rights, and
careful as well of its honor as of its peace, I have an entire confidence;
and that the result will be stamped by a unanimity becoming the occasion,
and be supported by every portion of our citizens with a patriotism
enlightened and invigorated by experience, ought as little to be doubted.

In the midst of the wrongs and vexations experienced from external causes
there is much room for congratulation on the prosperity and happiness
flowing from our situation at home. The blessing of health has never been
more universal. The fruits of the seasons, though in particular articles
and districts short of their usual redundancy, are more than sufficient for
our wants and our comforts. The face of our country ever presents evidence
of laudable enterprise, of extensive capital, and of durable improvement.
In a cultivation of the materials and the extension of useful manufactures,
more especially in the general application to household fabrics, we behold
a rapid diminution of our dependence on foreign supplies. Nor is it
unworthy of reflection that this revolution in our pursuits and habits is
in no slight degree a consequence of those impolitic and arbitrary edicts
by which the contending nations, in endeavoring each of them to obstruct
our trade with the other, have so far abridged our means of procuring the
productions and manufactures of which our own are now taking the place.

Recollecting always that for every advantage which may contribute to
distinguish our lot from that to which others are doomed by the unhappy
spirit of the times we are indebted to that Divine Providence whose
goodness has been so remarkably extended to this rising nation, it becomes
us to cherish a devout gratitude, and to implore from the same omnipotent
source a blessing on the consultations and measures about to be undertaken
for the welfare of our beloved country.


State of the Union Address
James Madison
December 5, 1810

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

The embarrassments which have prevailed in our foreign relations, and so
much employed the deliberations of Congress, make it a primary duty in
meeting you to communicate whatever may have occurred in that branch of our
national affairs.

The act of the last session of Congress concerning the commercial
intercourse between the United States and Great Britain and France and
their dependencies having invited in a new form a termination of their
edicts against our neutral commerce, copies of the act were immediately
forwarded to our ministers at London and Paris, with a view that its object
might be within the early attention of the French and British Governments.

By the communication received through our minister at Paris it appeared
that knowledge of the act by the French Government was followed by a
declaration that the Berlin and Milan decrees were revoked, and would cease
to have effect on the first day of November ensuing. These being the only
known edicts of France within the description of the act, and the
revocation of them being such that they ceased at that date to violate our
neutral commerce, the fact, as prescribed by law, was announced by a
proclamation bearing date the 2nd of November.

It would have well accorded with the conciliatory views indicated by this
proceeding on the part of France to have extended them to all the grounds
of just complaint which now remain unadjusted with the United States. It
was particularly anticipated that, as a further evidence of just
dispositions toward them, restoration would have been immediately made of
the property of our citizens under a misapplication of the principle of
reprisals combined with a misconstruction of a law of the United States.
This expectation has not been fulfilled.

From the British Government no communication on the subject of the act has
been received. To a communication from our minister at London of a
revocation by the French Government of its Berlin and Milan decrees it was
answered that the British system would be relinquished as soon as the
repeal of the French decrees should have actually taken effect and the
commerce of neutral nations have been restored to the condition in which it
stood previously to the promulgation of those decrees. This pledge,
although it does not necessarily import, does not exclude the intention of
relinquishing, along with the others in council, the practice of those
novel blockades which have a like effect of interrupting our neutral
commerce, and this further justice to the United States is the rather to be
looked for, in as much as the blockades in question, being not more
contrary to the established law of nations than inconsistent with the rules
of blockade formally recognized by Great Britain herself, could have no
alleged basis other than the plea of retaliation alleged as the basis of
the orders in council.

Under the modification of the original orders of November, 1807, into the
orders of April, 1809, there is, indeed, scarcely a nominal distinction
between the orders and the blockades. One of those illegitimate blockades,
bearing date in May, 1806, having been expressly avowed to be still
unrescinded, and to be in effect comprehended in the orders in council, was
too distinctly brought within the purview of the act of Congress not to be
comprehended in the explanation of the requisites to a compliance with it.
The British Government was accordingly apprised by our minister near it
that such was the light in which the subject was to be regarded.

On the other important subjects depending between the United States and the
Government no progress has been made from which an early and satisfactory
result can be relied on.

In this new posture of our relations with those powers the consideration of
Congress will be properly turned to a removal of doubts which may occur in
the exposition and of difficulties in the execution of the act above

The commerce of the United States with the north of Europe, heretofore much
vexed by licentious cruisers, particularly under the Danish flag, has
latterly been visited with fresh and extensive depredations. The measures
pursued in behalf of our injured citizens not having obtained justice for
them, a further and more formal interposition with the Danish Government is
contemplated. The principles which have been maintained by that Government
in relation to neutral commerce, and the friendly professions of His Danish
Majesty toward the United States, are valuable pledges in favor of a
successful issue.

Among the events growing out of the state of the Spanish Monarchy, our
attention was imperiously attracted to the change developing itself in that
portion of West Florida which, though of right appertaining to the United
States, had remained in the possession of Spain awaiting the result of
negotiations for its actual delivery to them. The Spanish authority was
subverted and a situation produced exposing the country to ulterior events
which might essentially affect the rights and welfare of the Union. In such
a conjuncture I did not delay the interposition required for the occupancy
of the territory west of the river Perdido, to which the title of the
United States extends, and to which the laws provided for the Territory of
Orleans are applicable. With this view, the proclamation of which a copy is
laid before you was confided to the governor of that Territory to be
carried into effect. The legality and necessity of the course pursued
assure me of the favorable light in which it will present itself to the
Legislature, and of the promptitude with which they will supply whatever
provisions may be due to the essential rights and equitable interests of
the people thus brought into the bosom of the American family.

Our amity with the powers of Barbary, with the exception of a recent
occurrence at Tunis, of which an explanation is just received, appears to
have been uninterrupted and to have become more firmly established.

With the Indian tribes also the peace and friendship of the United States
are found to be so eligible that the general disposition to preserve both
continues to gain strength.

I feel particular satisfaction in remarking that an interior view of our
country presents us with grateful proofs of its substantial and increasing
prosperity. To a thriving agriculture and the improvements related to it is
added a highly interesting extension of useful manufactures, the combined
product of professional occupations and of household industry. Such indeed
is the experience of economy as well as of policy in these substitutes for
supplies heretofore obtained by foreign commerce that in a national view
the change is justly regarded as of itself more than a recompense for those
privations and losses resulting from foreign injustice which furnished the
general impulse required for its accomplishment. How far it may be
expedient to guard the infancy of this improvement in the distribution of
labor by regulations of the commercial tariff is a subject which can not
fail to suggest itself to your patriotic reflections.

It will rest with the consideration of Congress also whether a provident as
well as fair encouragement would not be given to our navigation by such
regulations as would place it on a level of competition with foreign
vessels, particularly in transporting the important and bulky productions
of our own soil. The failure of equality and reciprocity in the existing
regulations on this subject operates in our ports as a premium to foreign
competitors, and the inconvenience must increase as these may be multiplied
under more favorable circumstances by the more than countervailing
encouragements now given them by the laws of their respective countries.

Whilst it is universally admitted that a well-instructed people alone can
be permanently a free people, and whilst it is evident that the means of
diffusing and improving useful knowledge form so small a proportion of the
expenditures for national purposes, I can not presume it to be unseasonable
to invite your attention to the advantages of superadding to the means of
education provided by the several States a seminary of learning instituted
by the National Legislature within the limits of their exclusive
jurisdiction, the expense of which might be defrayed or reimbursed out of
the vacant grounds which have accrued to the nation within those limits.

Such an institution, though local in its legal character, would be
universal in its beneficial effects. By enlightening the opinions, by
expanding the patriotism, and by assimilating the principles, the
sentiments, and the manners of those who might resort to this temple of
science, to be redistributed in due time through every part of the
community, sources of jealousy and prejudice would be diminished, the
features of national character would be multiplied, and greater extent
given to social harmony. But, above all, a well-constituted seminary in
the center of the nation is recommended by the consideration that the
additional instruction emanating from it would contribute not less to
strengthen the foundations than to adorn the structure of our free and
happy system of government.

Among the commercial abuses still committed under the American flag, and
leaving in force my former reference to that subject, it appears that
American citizens are instrumental in carrying on a traffic in enslaved
Africans, equally in violation of the laws of humanity and in defiance of
those of their own country. The same just and benevolent motives which
produced interdiction in force against this criminal conduct will doubtless
be felt by Congress in devising further means of suppressing the evil.

In the midst of uncertainties necessarily connected with the great
interests of the United States, prudence requires a continuance of our
defensive and precautionary arrangement. The Secretary of War and Secretary
of the Navy will submit the statements and estimates which may aid Congress
in their ensuing provisions for the land and naval forces. The statements
of the latter will include a view of the transfers of appropriations in the
naval expenditures and in the grounds on which they were made.

The fortifications for the defense of our maritime frontier have been
prosecuted according to the plan laid down in 1808. The works, with some
exceptions, are completed and furnished with ordnance. Those for the
security of the city of New York, though far advanced toward completion,
will require a further time and appropriation. This is the case with a few
others, either not completed or in need of repairs.

The improvements in quality and quantity made in the manufacture of cannon
and small arms, both at the public armories and private factories, warrant
additional confidence in the competency of these resources for supplying
the public exigencies.

These preparations for arming the militia having thus far provided for one
of the objects contemplated by the power vested in Congress with respect
to that great bulwark of the public safety, it is for their consideration
whether further provisions are not requisite for the other contemplated
objects of organization and discipline. To give to this great mass of
physical and moral force the efficiency which it merits, and is capable of
receiving, it is indispensable that they should be instructed and practiced
in the rules by which they are to be governed. Toward an accomplishment of
this important work I recommend for the consideration of Congress the
expediency of instituting a system which shall in the first instance call
into the field at the public expense and for a given time certain portions
of the commissioned and non-commissioned officers. The instruction and
discipline thus acquired would gradually diffuse through the entire body of
the militia that practical knowledge and promptitude for active service
which are the great ends to be pursued. Experience has left no doubt either
of the necessity or of the efficacy of competent military skill in those
portions of an army in fitting it for the final duties which it may have to

The Corps of Engineers, with the Military Academy, are entitled to the
early attention of Congress. The buildings at the seat fixed by law for the
present Academy are so far in decay as not to afford the necessary
accommodation. But a revision of the law is recommended, principally with a
view to a more enlarged cultivation and diffusion of the advantages of such
institutions, by providing professorships for all the necessary branches of
military instruction, and by the establishment of an additional academy at
the seat of Government or elsewhere. The means by which war, as well for
defense as for offense, are now carried on render these schools of the more
scientific operations an indispensable part of every adequate system.

Even among nations whose large standing armies and frequent wars afford
every other opportunity of instruction these establishments are found to be
indispensable for the due attainment of the branches of military science
which require a regular course of study and experiment. In a government
happily without the other opportunities seminaries where the elementary
principles of the art of war can be taught without actual war, and without
the expense of extensive and standing armies, have the precious advantage
of uniting an essential preparation against external danger with a
scrupulous regard to internal safety. In no other way, probably, can a
provision of equal efficacy for the public defense be made at so little
expense or more consistently with the public liberty.

The receipts into the Treasury during the year ending on the 30th of
September last (and amounting to more than $8.5 millions) have exceeded
the current expenses of the Government, including the interest on the
public debt. For the purpose of reimbursing at the end of the year $3.75
millions of the principal, a loan, as authorized by law, had been
negotiated to that amount, but has since been reduced to $2.75 millions,
the reduction being permitted by the state of the Treasury, in which there
will be a balance remaining at the end of the year estimated at $2
millions. For the probable receipts of the next year and other details I
refer to statements which will be transmitted from the Treasury, and which
will enable you to judge what further provisions may be necessary for the
ensuing years.

Reserving for future occasions in the course of the session whatever other
communications may claim your attention, I close the present by expressing
my reliance, under the blessing of Divine Providence, on the judgement and
patriotism which will guide your measures at a period particularly calling
for united councils and flexible exertions for the welfare of our country,
and by assuring you of the fidelity and alacrity with which my cooperation
will be afforded.


State of the Union Address
James Madison
November 5, 1811

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

In calling you together sooner than a separation from your homes would
otherwise have been required I yielded to considerations drawn from the
posture of our foreign affairs, and in fixing the present for the time of
your meeting regard was had to the probability of further developments of
the policy of the belligerent powers toward this country which might the
more unite the national councils in the measures to be pursued.

At the close of the last session of Congress it was hoped that the
successive confirmations of the extinction of the French decrees, so far as
they violated our neutral commerce, would have induced the Government of
Great Britain to repeal its orders in council, and thereby authorize a
removal of the existing obstructions to her commerce with the United

Instead of this reasonable step toward satisfaction and friendship between
the two nations, the orders were, at a moment when least to have been
expected, put into more rigorous execution; and it was communicated through
the British envoy just arrived that whilst the revocation of the edicts of
France, as officially made known to the British Government, was denied to
have taken place, it was an indispensable condition of the repeal of the
British orders that commerce should be restored to a footing that would
admit the productions and manufactures of Great Britain, when owned by
neutrals, into markets shut against them by her enemy, the United States
being given to understand that in the mean time a continuance of their
nonimportation act would lead to measures of retaliation.

At a later date it has indeed appeared that a communication to the British
Government of fresh evidence of the repeal of the French decrees against
our neutral trade was followed by an intimation that it had been
transmitted to the British plenipotentiary here in order that it might
receive full consideration in the depending discussions. This communication
appears not to have been received; but the transmission of it hither,
instead of founding on it an actual repeal of the orders or assurances that
the repeal would ensue, will not permit us to rely on any effective change
in the British cabinet. To be ready to meet with cordiality satisfactory
proofs of such a change, and to proceed in the mean time in adapting our
measures to the views which have been disclosed through that minister will
best consult our whole duty.

In the unfriendly spirit of those disclosures indemnity and redress for
other wrongs have continued to be withheld, and our coasts and the mouths
of our harbors have again witnessed scenes not less derogatory to the
dearest of our national rights than vexation to the regular course of our

Among the occurrences produced by the conduct of British ships of war
hovering on our coasts was an encounter between one of them and the
American frigate commanded by Captain Rodgers, rendered unavoidable on the
part of the latter by a fire commenced without cause by the former, whose
commander is therefore alone chargeable with the blood unfortunately shed
in maintaining the honor of the American flag. The proceedings of a court
of inquiry requested by Captain Rodgers are communicated, together with
the correspondence relating to the occurrence, between the Secretary of
State and His Britannic Majesty's envoy. To these are added the several
correspondences which have passed on the subject of the British orders in
council, and to both the correspondence relating to the Floridas, in which
Congress will be made acquainted with the interposition which the
Government of Great Britain has thought proper to make against the
proceeding of the United States.

The justice and fairness which have been evinced on the part of the United
States toward France, both before and since the revocation of her decrees,
authorized an expectation that her Government would have followed up that
measure by all such others as were due to our reasonable claims, as well as
dictated by its amicable professions. No proof, however, is yet given of an
intention to repair the other wrongs done to the United States, and
particularly to restore the great amount of American property seized and
condemned under edicts which, though not affecting our neutral relations,
and therefore not entering into questions between the United States and
other belligerents, were nevertheless founded in such unjust principles
that the reparation ought to have been prompt and ample.

In addition to this and other demands of strict right on that nation, the
United States have much reason to be dissatisfied with the rigorous and
unexpected restrictions to which their trade with the French dominions has
been subjected, and which, if not discontinued, will require at least
corresponding restrictions on importations from France into the United

On all those subjects our minister plenipotentiary lately sent to Paris has
carried with him the necessary instructions, the result of which will be
communicated to you, by ascertaining the ulterior policy of the French
Government toward the United States, will enable you to adapt to it that of
the United States toward France.

Our other foreign relations remain without unfavorable changes. With Russia
they are on the best footing of friendship. The ports of Sweden have
afforded proofs of friendly dispositions toward our commerce in the
councils of that nation also, and the information from our special minister
to Denmark shews that the mission had been attended with valuable effects
to our citizens, whose property had been so extensively violated and
endangered by cruisers under the Danish flag.

Under the ominous indications which commanded attention it became a duty to
exert the means committed to the executive department in providing for the
general security. The works of defense on our maritime frontier have
accordingly been prosecuted with an activity leaving little to be added for
the completion of the most important ones, and, as particularly suited for
cooperation in emergencies, a portion of the gun boats have in particular
harbors been ordered into use. The ships of war before in commission, with
the addition of a frigate, have been chiefly employed as a cruising guard
to the rights of our coast, and such a disposition has been made of our
land forces as was thought to promise the services most appropriate and

In this disposition is included a force consisting of regulars and militia,
embodied in the Indiana Territory and marched toward our northwestern
frontier. This measure was made requisite by several murders and
depredations committed by Indians, but more especially by the menacing
preparations and aspect of a combination of them on the Wabash, under the
influence and direction of a fanatic of the Shawanese tribe. With these
exceptions the Indian tribes retain their peaceable dispositions toward us,
and their usual pursuits.

I must now add that the period is arrived which claims from the legislative
guardians of the national rights a system of more ample provisions for
maintaining them. Notwithstanding the scrupulous justice, the protracted
moderation, and the multiplied efforts on the part of the United States to
substitute for the accumulating dangers to the peace of the two countries
all the mutual advantages of reestablished friendship and confidence, we
have seen that the British cabinet perseveres not only in withholding a
remedy for other wrongs, so long and so loudly calling for it, but in the
execution, brought home to the threshold of our territory, of measures
which under existing circumstances have the character as well as the effect
of war on our lawful commerce.

With this evidence of hostile inflexibility in trampling on rights which no
independent nation can relinquish, Congress will feel the duty of putting
the United States into an armor and an attitude demanded by the crisis, and
corresponding with the national spirit and expectations.

I recommend, accordingly, that adequate provisions be made for filling the
ranks and prolonging the enlistments of the regular troops; for an
auxiliary force to be engaged for a more limited term; for the acceptance
of volunteer corps, whose patriotic ardor may court a participation in
urgent services; for detachments as they may be wanted of other portions of
the militia, and for such a preparation of the great body as will
proportion its usefulness to its intrinsic capacities. Nor can the occasion
fail to remind you of the importance of those military seminaries which in
every event will form a valuable and frugal part of our military

The manufacture of cannon and small arms has proceeded with due success,
and the stock and resources of all the necessary munitions are adequate to
emergencies. It will not be inexpedient, however, for Congress to authorize
an enlargement of them.

Your attention will of course be drawn to such provisions on the subject of
our naval force as may be required for the services to which it may be best
adapted. I submit to Congress the seasonableness also of an authority to
augment the stock of such materials as are imperishable in their nature, or
may not at once be attainable.

In contemplating the scenes which distinguish this momentous epoch, and
estimating their claims to our attention, it is impossible to overlook
those developing themselves among the great communities which occupy the
southern portion of our own hemisphere and extend into our neighborhood. An
enlarged philanthropy and an enlightened forecast concur in imposing on the
national councils an obligation to take a deep interest in their destinies,
to cherish reciprocal sentiments of good will, to regard the progress of
events, and not to be unprepared for whatever order of things may be
ultimately established.

Under another aspect of our situation the early attention of Congress will
be due to the expediency of further guards against evasions and infractions
of our commercial laws. The practice of smuggling, which is odious
everywhere, and particularly criminal in free governments, where, the laws
being made by all for the good of all, a fraud is committed on every
individual as well as on the state, attains its utmost guilt when it blends
with a pursuit of ignominious gain a treacherous subserviency, in the
transgressors, to a foreign policy adverse to that of their own country. It
is then that the virtuous indignation of the public should be enabled to
manifest itself through the regular animadversions of the most competent

To secure greater respect to our mercantile flag, and to the honest
interests which it covers, it is expedient also that it be made punishable
in our citizens to accept licenses from foreign governments for a trade
unlawfully interdicted by them to other American citizens, or to trade
under false colors or papers of any sort.

A prohibition is equally called for against the acceptance by our citizens
of special licenses to be used in a trade with the United States, and
against the admission into particular ports of the United States of vessels
from foreign countries authorized to trade with particular ports only.

Although other subjects will press more immediately on your deliberations,
a portion of them can not but be well bestowed on the just and sound policy
of securing to our manufactures the success they have attained, and are
still attaining, in some degree, under the impulse of causes not permanent,
and to our navigation, the fair extent of which is at present abridged by
the unequal regulations of foreign governments.

Besides the reasonableness of saving our manufactures from sacrifices which
a change of circumstances might bring on them, the national interest
requires that, with regard to such articles at least as belong to our
defense and our primary wants, we should not be left in unnecessary
dependence on external supplies. And whilst foreign governments adhere to
the existing discriminations in their ports against our navigation, and
an equality or lesser discrimination is enjoyed by their navigation in
our ports, the effect can not be mistaken, because it has been seriously
felt by our shipping interests; and in proportion as this takes place the
advantages of an independent conveyance of our products to foreign
markets and of a growing body of mariners trained by their occupations for
the service of their country in times of danger must be diminished.

The receipts into the Treasury during the year ending on the 30th day of
September last have exceeded $13.5 millions, and have enabled us to defray
the current expenses, including the interest on the public debt, and to
reimburse more than $5 millions of the principal without recurring to the
loan authorized by the act of the last session. The temporary loan
obtained in the latter end of the year 1810 has also been reimbursed, and
is not included in that amount.

The decrease of revenue arising from the situation of our commerce, and the
extraordinary expenses which have and may become necessary, must be taken
into view in making commensurate provisions for the ensuing year; and I
recommend to your consideration the propriety of insuring a sufficiency of
annual revenue at least to defray the ordinary expenses of Government, and
to pay the interest on the public debt, including that on new loans which
may be authorized.

I can not close this communication without expressing my deep sense of the
crisis in which you are assembled, my confidence in a wise and honorable
result to your deliberations, and assurances of the faithful zeal with
which my cooperating duties will be discharged, invoking at the same time
the blessing of Heaven on our beloved country and on all the means that may
be employed in vindicating its rights and advancing its welfare.


State of the Union Address
James Madison
November 4, 1812

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

On our present meeting it is my first duty to invite your attention to the
providential favors which our country has experienced in the unusual degree
of health dispensed to its inhabitants, and in the rich abundance with
which the earth has rewarded the labors bestowed on it. In the successful
cultivation of other branches of industry, and in the progress of general
improvement favorable to the national prosperity, there is just occasion
also for our mutual congratulations and thankfulness.

With these blessings are necessarily mingled the pressures and vicissitudes
incident to the state of war into which the United States have been forced
by the perseverance of a foreign power in its system of injustice and

Previous to its declaration it was deemed proper, as a measure of
precaution and forecast, that a considerable force should be placed in the
Michigan Territory with a general view to its security, and, in the event
of war, to such operations in the uppermost Canada as would intercept the
hostile influence of Great Britain over the savages, obtain the command of
the lake on which that part of Canada borders, and maintain cooperating
relations with such forces as might be most conveniently employed against
other parts.

Brigadier-General Hull was charged with this provisional service, having
under his command a body of troops composed of regulars and of volunteers
from the State of Ohio. Having reached his destination after his knowledge
of the war, and possessing discretionary authority to act offensively, he
passed into the neighboring territory of the enemy with a prospect of easy
and victorious progress. The expedition, nevertheless, terminated
unfortunately, not only in a retreat to the town and fort of Detroit, but
in the surrender of both and of the gallant corps commanded by that
officer. The causes of this painful reverse will be investigated by a
military tribunal.

A distinguishing feature in the operations which preceded and followed this
adverse event is the use made by the enemy of the merciless savages under
their influence. Whilst the benevolent policy of the United States
invariably recommended peace and promoted civilization among that wretched
portion of the human race, and was making exertions to dissuade them from
taking either side in the war, the enemy has not scrupled to call to his
aid their ruthless ferocity, armed with the horrors of those instruments of
carnage and torture which are known to spare neither age nor sex. In this
outrage against the laws of honorable war and against the feelings sacred
to humanity the British commanders can not resort to a plea of retaliation,
for it is committed in the face of our example. They can not mitigate it by
calling it a self-defense against men in arms, for it embraces the most
shocking butcheries of defenseless families. Nor can it be pretended that
they are not answerable for the atrocities perpetrated, since the savages
are employed with a knowledge, and even with menaces, that their fury could
not be controlled. Such is the spectacle which the deputed authorities of a
nation boasting its religion and morality have not been restrained from
presenting to an enlightened age.

The misfortune at Detroit was not, however, without a consoling effect. It
was followed by signal proofs that the national spirit rises according to
the pressure on it. The loss of an important post and of the brave men
surrendered with it inspired everywhere new ardor and determination. In the
States and districts least remote it was no sooner known than every citizen
was ready to fly with his arms at once to protect his brethren against the
blood-thirsty savages let loose by the enemy on an extensive frontier, and
to convert a partial calamity into a source of invigorated efforts. This
patriotic zeal, which it was necessary rather to limit than excite, has
embodied an ample force from the States of Kentucky and Ohio and from parts
of Pennsylvania and Virginia. It is placed, with the addition of a few
regulars, under the command of Brigadier-General Harrison, who possesses
the entire confidence of his fellow soldiers, among whom are citizens, some
of them volunteers in the ranks, not less distinguished by their political
stations than by their personal merits. The greater portion of this force
is proceeding in relieving an important frontier post, and in several
incidental operations against hostile tribes of savages, rendered
indispensable by the subserviency into which they had been seduced by the
enemy--a seduction the more cruel as it could not fail to impose a
necessity of precautionary severities against those who yielded to it.

At a recent date an attack was made on a post of the enemy near Niagara by
a detachment of the regular and other forces under the command of
Major-General Van Rensselaer, of the militia of the State of New York. The
attack, it appears, was ordered in compliance with the ardor of the troops,
who executed it with distinguished gallantry, and were for a time
victorious; but not receiving the expected support, they were compelled to
yield to reenforcements of British regulars and savages. Our loss has been
considerable, and is deeply to be lamented. That of the enemy, less
ascertained, will be the more felt, as it includes among the killed the
commanding general, who was also the governor of the Province, and was
sustained by veteran troops from unexperienced soldiers, who must daily
improve in the duties of the field.

Our expectation of gaining the command of the Lakes by the invasion of
Canada from Detroit having been disappointed, measures were instantly taken
to provide on them a naval force superior to that of the enemy. From the
talents and activity of the officer charged with this object everything
that can be done may be expected. Should the present season not admit of
complete success, the progress made will insure for the next a naval
ascendancy where it is essential to our permanent peace with and control
over the savages.

Among the incidents to the measures of the war I am constrained to advert
to the refusal of the governors of Maine and Connecticut to furnish the
required detachments of militia toward the defense of the maritime
frontier. The refusal was founded on a novel and unfortunate exposition of
the provisions of the Constitution relating to the militia. The
correspondences which will be laid before you contain the requisite
information on the subject. It is obvious that if the authority of the
United States to call into service and command the militia for the public
defense can be thus frustrated, even in a state of declared war and of
course under apprehensions of invasion preceding war, they are not one
nation for the purpose most of all requiring it, and that the public safety
may have no other resource than in those large and permanent military
establishments which are forbidden by the principles of our free
government, and against the necessity of which the militia were meant to be
a constitutional bulwark.

On the coasts and on the ocean the war has been as successful as
circumstances inseparable from its early stages could promise. Our public
ships and private cruisers, by their activity, and, where there was
occasion, by their intrepidity, have made the enemy sensible of the
difference between a reciprocity of captures and the long confinement of
them to their side. Our trade, with little exception, has safely reached
our ports, having been much favored in it by the course pursued by a
squadron of our frigates under the command of Commodore Rodgers, and in the
instance in which skill and bravery were more particularly tried with those
of the enemy the American flag had an auspicious triumph. The frigate
Constitution, commanded by Captain Hull, after a close and short engagement
completely disabled and captured a British frigate, gaining for that
officer and all on board a praise which can not be too liberally bestowed,
not merely for the victory actually achieved, but for that prompt and cool
exertion of commanding talents which, giving to courage its highest
character, and to the force applied its full effect, proved that more could
have been done in a contest requiring more.

Anxious to abridge the evils from which a state of war can not be exempt, I
lost no time after it was declared in conveying to the British Government
the terms on which its progress might be arrested, without awaiting the
delays of a formal and final pacification, and our charge d'affaires at
London was at the same time authorized to agree to an armistice founded
upon them. These terms required that the orders in council should be
repealed as they affected the United States, without a revival of blockades
violating acknowledged rules, and that there should be an immediate
discharge of American sea men from British ships, and a stop to impressment
from American ships, with an understanding that an exclusion of the sea men
of each nation from the ships of the other should be stipulated, and that
the armistice should be improved into a definitive and comprehensive
adjustment of depending controversies.

Although a repeal of the orders susceptible of explanations meeting the
views of this Government had taken place before this pacific advance was
communicated to that of Great Britain, the advance was declined from an
avowed repugnance to a suspension of the practice of impressments during
the armistice, and without any intimation that the arrangement proposed
with regard to sea men would be accepted. Whether the subsequent
communications from this Government, affording an occasion for
reconsidering the subject on the part of Great Britain, will be viewed
in a more favorable light or received in a more accommodating spirit
remains to be known. It would be unwise to relax our measures in any
respect on a presumption of such a result.

The documents from the Department of State which relate to this subject
will give a view also of the propositions for an armistice which have been
received here, one of them from the authorities at Halifax and in Canada,
the other from the British Government itself through Admiral Warren, and of
the grounds on which neither of them could be accepted.

Our affairs with France retain the posture which they held at my last
communications to you. Notwithstanding the authorized expectations of an
early as well as favorable issue to the discussions on foot, these have
been procrastinated to the latest date. The only intervening occurrence
meriting attention is the promulgation of a French decree purporting to be
a definitive repeal of the Berlin and Milan decrees. This proceeding,
although made the ground of the repeal of the British orders in council, is
rendered by the time and manner of it liable to many objections.

The final communications from our special minister to Denmark afford
further proofs of the good effects of his mission, and of the amicable
disposition of the Danish Government. From Russia we have the satisfaction
to receive assurances of continued friendship, and that it will not be
affected by the rupture between the United States and Great Britain. Sweden
also professes sentiments favorable to the subsisting harmony.

With the Barbary Powers, excepting that of Algiers, our affairs remain on
the ordinary footing. The consul-general residing with that Regency has
suddenly and without cause been banished, together with all the American
citizens found there. Whether this was the transitory effect of capricious
despotism or the first act of predetermined hostility is not ascertained.
Precautions were taken by the consul on the latter supposition.

The Indian tribes not under foreign instigations remain at peace, and
receive the civilizing attentions which have proved so beneficial to them.

With a view to that vigorous prosecution of the war to which our national
faculties are adequate, the attention of Congress will be particularly
drawn to the insufficiency of existing provisions for filling up the
military establishment. Such is the happy condition of our country, arising
from the facility of subsistence and the high wages for every species of
occupation, that notwithstanding the augmented inducements provided at the
last session, a partial success only has attended the recruiting service.
The deficiency has been necessarily supplied during the campaign by other
than regular troops, with all the inconveniences and expense incident to
them. The remedy lies in establishing more favorably for the private
soldier the proportion between his recompense and the term of his
enlistment, and it is a subject which can not too soon or too seriously be
taken into consideration.

The same insufficiency has been experienced in the provisions for
volunteers 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 sea port
towns under a similar organization would not be a provident addition to the
means of their defense.

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
distance of separate commands which the course of the war and the
advantage of the service have required.

And I can not press too strongly on the earliest attention of the
Legislature the importance of the reorganization 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, further
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 powers vested in the Treasury Department to mitigate forfeitures
without previously affording to Congress an opportunity of making on the
subject such provision 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 $16.5 millions, which have been sufficient
to defray all the demands on the Treasury to that day, including a
necessary reimbursement of near $3 millions of the principal of the
public debt. In these receipts is included a sum of near $5.85 millions,
received on account of the loans authorized by the acts of the last
session; the whole sum actually obtained on loan amounts to $11 millions,
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

The situation of our country, fellow citizens, is not without its
difficulties, though it abounds in animating considerations, of which the
view here presented of our pecuniary resources is 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

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 hope of averting it was extinguished by the transfer
of the British scepter into new hands clinging to former councils, and
until declarations were reiterated to the last hour, through 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 obtaining it.


State of the Union Address
James Madison
December 7, 1813

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

In meeting you at the present interesting conjuncture it would have been
highly satisfactory if I could have communicated a favorable result to the
mission charged with negotiations for restoring peace. It was a just
expectation, from the respect due to the distinguished Sovereign who had
invited them by his offer of mediation, from the readiness with which the
invitation was accepted on the part of the United States, and from the
pledge to be found in an act of their Legislature for the liberality which
their plenipotentiaries would carry into the negotiations, that no time
would be lost by the British Government in embracing the experiment for
hastening a stop to the effusion of blood. A prompt and cordial acceptance
of the mediation on that side was the less to be doubted, as it was of a
nature not to submit rights or pretensions on either side to the decision
of an umpire, but to afford merely an opportunity, honorable and desirable
to both, for discussing and, if possible, adjusting them for the interest
of both.

The British cabinet, either mistaking our desire of peace for a dread of
British power or misled by other fallacious calculations, has disappointed
this reasonable anticipation. No communications from our envoys having
reached us, no information on the subject has been received from that
source; but it is known that the mediation was declined in the first
instance, and there is no evidence, notwithstanding the lapse of time, that
a change of disposition in the British councils has taken place or is to be

Under such circumstances a nation proud of its rights and conscious of its
strength has no choice but an exertion of the one in support of the other.

To this determination the best encouragement is derived from the success
with which it has pleased the Almighty to bless our arms both on the land
and on the water.

Whilst proofs have been continued of the enterprise and skill of our
cruisers, public and private, on the ocean, and a trophy gained in the
capture of a British by an American vessel of war, after an action giving
celebrity to the name of the victorious commander, the great inland waters
on which the enemy were also to be encountered have presented achievements
of our naval arms as brilliant in their character as they have been
important in their consequences.

On Lake Erie, the squadron under command of Captain Perry having met the
British squadron of superior force, a sanguinary conflict ended in the
capture of the whole. The conduct of that officer, adroit as it was daring,
and which was so well seconded by his comrades, justly entitles them to the
admiration and gratitude of their country, and will fill an early page in
its naval annals with a victory never surpassed in luster, however much it
may have been in magnitude.

On Lake Ontario the caution of the British commander, favored by
contingencies, frustrated the efforts of the American commander to bring on
a decisive action. Captain Chauncey was able, however, to establish an
ascendancy on that important theater, and to prove by the manner in which
he effected everything possible that opportunities only were wanted for a
more shining display of his own talents and the gallantry of those under
his command.

The success on Lake Erie having opened a passage to the territory of the
enemy, the officer commanding the Northwestern army transferred the war
thither, and rapidly pursuing the hostile troops, fleeing with their savage
associates, forced a general action, which quickly terminated in the
capture of the British and dispersion of the savage force.

This result is signally honorable to Major-General Harrison, by whose
military talents it was prepared; to Colonel Johnson and his mounted
volunteers, whose impetuous onset gave a decisive blow to the ranks of the
enemy, and to the spirit of the volunteer militia, equally brave and
patriotic, who bore an interesting part in the scene; more especially to
the chief magistrate of Kentucky, at the head of them, whose heroism
signalized in the war which established the independence of his country,
sought at an advanced age a share in hardships and battles for maintaining
its rights and its safely.

The effect of these successes has been to rescue the inhabitants of
Michigan from their oppressions, aggravated by gross infractions of
the capitulation which subjected them to a foreign power; to alienate
the savages of numerous tribes from the enemy, by whom they were
disappointed and abandoned, and to relieve an extensive region of country
from a merciless warfare which desolated its frontiers and imposed on its
citizens the most harassing services.

In consequences of our naval superiority on Lake Ontario and the
opportunity afforded by it for concentrating our forces by water,
operations which had been provisionally planned were set on foot against
the possessions of the enemy on the St. Lawrence. Such, however, was the
delay produced in the first instance by adverse weather of unusual violence
and continuance and such the circumstances attending the final movements of
the army, that the prospect, at one time so favorable, was not realized.

The cruelty of the enemy in enlisting the savages into a war with a nation
desirous of mutual emulation in mitigating its calamities has not been
confined to any one quarter. Wherever they could be turned against us no
exertions to effect it have been spared. On our southwestern border the
Creek tribes, who, yielding to our persevering endeavors, were gradually
acquiring more civilized habits, became the unfortunate victims of
seduction. A war in that quarter has been the consequence, infuriated by a
bloody fanaticism recently propagated among them. It was necessary to crush
such a war before it could spread among the contiguous tribes and before it
could favor enterprises of the enemy into that vicinity. With this view a
force was called into the service of the United States from the States of
Georgia and Tennessee, which, with the nearest regular troops and other
corps from the Massachussets Territory, might not only chastise the savages
into present peace but make a lasting impression on their fears.

The progress of the expedition, as far as is yet known, corresponds with
the martial zeal with which it was espoused, and the best hopes of a
satisfactory issue are authorized by the complete success with which a
well-planned enterprise was executed against a body of hostile savages by a
detachment of the volunteer militia of Tennessee, under the gallant
command of General Coffee, and by a still more important victory over a
larger body of them, gained under the immediate command of Major-General
Jackson, an officer equally distinguished for his patriotism and his
military talents.

The systematic perseverance of the enemy in courting the aid of the savages
in all quarters had the natural effect of kindling their ordinary
propensity to war into a passion, which, even among those best disposed
toward the United States, was ready, if not employed on our side, to be
turned against us. A departure from our protracted forbearance to accept
the services tendered by them has thus been forced upon us. But in yielding
to it the retaliation has been mitigated as much as possible, both in its
extent and in its character, stopping far short of the example of the
enemy, who owe the advantages they have occasionally gained in battle
chiefly to the number of their savage associates, and who have not
controlled them either from their usual practice of indiscriminate
massacre on defenseless inhabitants or from scenes of carnage without a
parallel on prisoners to the British arms, guarded by all the laws of
humanity and of honorable war. For these enormities the enemy are equally
responsible, whether with the power to prevent them they want the will or
with the knowledge of a want of power they still avail themselves of such

In other respects the enemy are pursuing a course which threatens
consequences most afflicting to humanity.

A standing law of Great Britain naturalizes, as is well known, all aliens
complying with conditions limited to a shorter period than those required
by the United States, and naturalized subjects are in war employed by her
Government in common with native subjects. In a contiguous British Province
regulations promulgated since the commencement of the war compel citizens
of the United States being there under certain circumstances to bear arms,
whilst of the native emigrants from the United States, who compose much of
the population of the Province, a number have actually borne arms against
the United States within their limits, some of whom, after having done so,
have become prisoners of war, and are now in our possession. The British
commander in that Province, nevertheless, with the sanction, as appears, of
his Government, thought proper to select from American prisoners of war and
send to Great Britain for trial as criminals a number of individuals who
had emigrated from the British dominions long prior to the state of war
between the two nations, who had incorporated themselves into our
political society in the modes recognized by the law and the practice of
Great Britain, and who were made prisoners of war under the banners of
their adopted country, fighting for its rights and its safety.

The protection due to these citizens requiring an effectual interposition
in their behalf, a like number of British prisoners of war were put into
confinement, with a notification that they would experience whatever
violence might be committed on the American prisoners of war sent to Great

It was hoped that this necessary consequence of the step unadvisedly taken
on the part of Great Britain would have led her Government to reflect on
the inconsistencies of its conduct, and that a sympathy with the British,
if not with the American, sufferers would have arrested the cruel career
opened by its example.

This was unhappily not the case. In violation both of consistency and of
humanity, American officers and non-commissioned officers in double the
number of the British soldiers confined here were ordered into close
confinement, with formal notice that in the event of a retaliation for the
death which might be inflicted on the prisoners of war sent to Great
Britain for trial the officers so confined would be put to death also. It
was notified at the same time that the commanders of the British fleets and
armies on our coasts are instructed in the same event to proceed with a
destructive severity against our towns and their inhabitants.

That no doubt might be left with the enemy of our adherence to the
retaliatory resort imposed on us, a correspondent number of British
officers, prisoners of war in our hands, were immediately put into close
confinement to abide the fate of those confined by the enemy, and the
British Government was apprised of the determination of this Government to
retaliate any other proceedings against us contrary to the legitimate modes
of warfare.

It is fortunate for the United States that they have it in their power to
meet the enemy in this deplorable contest as it is honorable to them that
they do not join in it but under the most imperious obligations, and with
the humane purpose of effectuating a return to the established usages of

The views of the French Government on the subjects which have been so long
committed to negotiation have received no elucidation since the close of
your late session. The minister plenipotentiary of the United States at
Paris had not been enabled by proper opportunities to press the objects of
his mission as prescribed by his instructions.

The militia being always to be regarded as the great bulwark of defense and
security for free states, and the Constitution having wisely committed to
the national authority a use of that force as the best provision against an
unsafe military establishment, as well as a resource peculiarly adapted to
a country having the extent and the exposure of the United States, I
recommend to Congress a revision of the militia laws for the purpose of
securing more effectually the services of all detachments called into the
employment and placed under the Government of the United States.

It will deserve the consideration of Congress also whether among other
improvements in the militia laws justice does not require a regulation,
under due precautions, for defraying the expense incident to the first
assembling as well as the subsequent movements of detachments called into
the national service.

To give to our vessels of war, public and private, the requisite advantage
in their cruises, it is of much importance that they should have, both for
themselves and their prizes, the use of the ports and markets of friendly
powers. With this view, I recommend to Congress the expediency of such
legal provisions as may supply the defects or remove the doubts of the
Executive authority, to allow to the cruisers of other powers at war with
enemies of the United States such use of the American ports as may
correspond with the privileges allowed by such powers to American

During the year ending on the 30th of September last the receipts into the
Treasury have exceeded $37.5 millions, of which near $24 millions were the
produce of loans. After meeting all demands for the public service there
remained in the Treasury on that day near $7 millions. Under the
authority contained in the act of the 2nd of August last for borrowing
$7.5 millions, that sum has been obtained on terms more favorable to the
United States than those of the preceding loans made during the present
year. Further sums to a considerable amount will be necessary to be
obtained in the same way during the ensuing year, and from the increased
capital of the country, from the fidelity with which the public
engagements have been kept and the public credit maintained, it may be
expected on good grounds that the necessary pecuniary supplies will
not be wanting.

The expenses of the current year, from the multiplied operations falling
within it, have necessarily been extensive; but on a just estimate of the
campaign in which the mass of them has been incurred the cost will not be
found disproportionate to the advantages which have been gained. The
campaign has, indeed, in its latter stages in one quarter been less
favorable than was expected, but in addition to the importance of our naval
success the progress of the campaign has been filled with incidents highly
honorable to the American arms.

The attacks of the enemy on Craney Island, on Fort Meigs, on Sacketts
Harbor, and on Sandusky have been vigorously and successfully repulsed; nor
have they in any case succeeded on either frontier excepting when directed
against the peaceable dwellings of individuals or villages unprepared or

On the other hand, the movements of the American Army have been followed by
the reduction of York, and of Forts George, Erie, and Malden; by the
recovery of Detroit and the extinction of the Indian war in the West, and
by the occupancy or command of a large portion of Upper Canada. Battles
have also been fought on the borders of the St. Lawrence, which, though not
accomplishing their entire objects, reflect honor on the discipline and
prowess of our soldiery, the best auguries of eventual victory. In the same
scale are to be placed the late successes in the South over one of the most
powerful, which had become one of the most hostile also, of the Indian

It would be improper to close this communication without expressing a
thankfulness in which all ought to unite for the abundance; for the
preservation of our internal tranquillity, and the stability of our free
institutions, and, above all, for the light of divine truth and the
protection of every man's conscience in the enjoyment of it. And although
among our blessings we can not number an exemption from the evils of war,
yet these will never be regarded as the greatest of evils by the friends of
liberty and of the rights of nations. Our country has before preferred them
to the degraded condition which was the alternative when the sword was
drawn in the cause which gave birth to our national independence, and none
who contemplate the magnitude and feel the value of that glorious event
will shrink from a struggle to maintain the high and happy ground on which
it placed the American people.

With all good citizens the justice and necessity of resisting wrongs and
usurpations no longer to be borne will sufficiently outweigh the privations
and sacrifices inseparable from a state of war. But it is a reflection,
moreover, peculiarly consoling, that, whilst wars are generally aggravated
by their baneful effects on the internal improvements and permanent
prosperity of the nations engaged in them, such is the favored situation of
the United States that the calamities of the contest into which they have
been compelled to enter are mitigated by improvements and advantages of
which the contest itself is the source.

If the war has increased the interruptions of our commerce, it has at the
same time cherished and multiplied our manufactures so as to make us
independent of all other countries for the more essential branches for
which we ought to be dependent on none, and is even rapidly giving them an
extent which will create additional staples in our future intercourse with
foreign markets.

If much treasure has been expended, no inconsiderable portion of it has
been applied to objects durable in their value and necessary to our
permanent safety.

If the war has exposed us to increased spoliations on the ocean and to
predatory incursions on the land, it has developed the national means of
retaliating the former and of providing protection against the latter,
demonstrating to all that every blow aimed at our maritime independence is
an impulse accelerating the growth of our maritime power.

By diffusing through the mass of the nation the elements of military
discipline and instruction; by augmenting and distributing warlike
preparations applicable to future use; by evincing the zeal and valor with
which they will be employed and the cheerfulness with which every necessary
burden will be borne, a greater respect for our rights and a longer
duration of our future peace are promised than could be expected without
these proofs of the national character and resources.

The war has proved moreover that our free Government, like other free
governments, though slow in its early movements, acquires in its progress a
force proportioned to its freedom, and that the union of these States, the
guardian of the freedom and safety of all and of each, is strengthened by
every occasion that puts it to the test.

In fine, the war, with all its vicissitudes, is illustrating the capacity
and the destiny of the United States to be a great, a flourishing, and a
powerful nation, worthy of the friendship which it is disposed to cultivate
with all others, and authorized by its own example to require from all an
observance of the laws of justice and reciprocity. Beyond these their
claims have never extended, and in contending for these we behold a subject
for our congratulations in the daily testimonies of increasing harmony
throughout the nation, and may humbly repose our trust in the smiles of
Heaven on so righteous a cause.


State of the Union Address
James Madison
September 20, 1814

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

Notwithstanding the early day which had been fixed for your session of the
present year, I was induced to call you together still sooner, as well that
any inadequacy in the existing provisions for the wants of the Treasury
might be supplied as that no delay might happen in providing for the result
of the negotiations on foot with Great Britain, whether it should require
arrangements adapted to a return of peace or further and more effective
provisions for prosecuting the war.

That result is not yet known. If, on the one hand, the repeal of the orders
in council and the general pacification in Europe, which withdrew the
occasion on which impressments from American vessels were practiced,
suggest expectations that peace and amity may be reestablished, we are
compelled, on the other hand, by the refusal of the British Government to
accept the offered mediation of the Emperor of Russia, by the delays in
giving effect to its own proposal of a direct negotiation, and, above all,
by the principles and manner in which the war is now avowedly carried on to
infer that a spirit of hostility is indulged more violent than ever against
the rights and prosperity of this country.

This increased violence is best explained by the two important
circumstances that the great contest in Europe for an equilibrium
guaranteeing all its States against the ambition of any has been closed
without any check on the over-bearing power of Great Britain on the ocean,
and it has left in her hands disposable armaments, with which, forgetting
the difficulties of a remote war with a free people, and yielding to the
intoxication of success, with the example of a great victim to it before
her eyes, she cherishes hopes of still further aggrandizing a power already
formidable in its abuses to the tranquillity of the civilized and
commercial world.

But whatever may have inspired the enemy with these more violent purposes,
the public councils of a nation more able to maintain than it was to
require its independence, and with a devotion to it rendered more ardently
by the experience of its blessings, can never deliberate but on the means
most effectual for defeating the extravagant views or unwarrantable
passions with which alone the war can now be pursued against us.

In the events of the present campaign the enemy, with all his augmented
means and wanton use of them, has little ground for exultation, unless he
can feel it in the success of his recent enterprises against this
metropolis and the neighboring town of Alexandria, from both of which his
retreats were as precipitate as his attempts were bold and fortunate. In
his other incursions on our Atlantic frontier his progress, often checked
and chastised by the martial spirit of the neighboring citizens, has had
more effect in distressing individuals and in dishonoring his arms than in
promoting any object of legitimate warfare; and in the two instances
mentioned, however deeply to be regretted on our part, he will find in his
transient success, which interrupted for a moment only the ordinary
business at the seat of Government, no compensation for the loss of
character with the world by his violations of private property and by his
destruction of public edifices protected as monuments of the arts by the
laws of civilized warfare.

On our side we can appeal to a series of achievements which have given new
luster to the American arms. Besides the brilliant incidents in the minor
operations of the campaign, the splendid victories gained on the Canadian
side of the Niagara by the American forces under Major-General Brown and
Brigadiers Scott and Gaines have gained for these heroes and their
emulating companions the most unfading laurels, and, having triumphantly
tested the progressive discipline of the American soldiery, have taught the
enemy that the longer he protracts his hostile efforts the more certain and
decisive will be his final discomfiture.

On our southern border victory has continued also to follow the American
standard. The bold and skillful operations of Major-General Jackson,
conducting troops drawn from the militia of the States least distant,
particularly Tennessee, have subdued the principal tribes of hostile
savages, and, by establishing a peace with them, preceded by recent and
exemplary chastisement, has best guarded against the mischief of their
cooperations with the British enterprises which may be planned against that
quarter of our country. Important tribes of Indians on our northwestern
frontier have also acceded to stipulations which bind them to the interests
of the United States and to consider our enemy as theirs also.

In the recent attempt of the enemy on the city of Baltimore, defended by
militia and volunteers, aided by a small body of regulars and sea men, he
was received with a spirit which produced a rapid retreat to his ships,
whilst concurrent attack by a large fleet was successfully resisted by the
steady and well-directed fire of the fort and batteries opposed to it.

In another recent attack by a powerful force on our troops at Plattsburg,
of which regulars made a part only, the enemy, after a perseverance for
many hours, was finally compelled to seek safety in a hasty retreat, with
our gallant bands pressing upon them.

On the Lakes, so much contested throughout the war, the great exertions for
the command made on our part have been well repaid. On Lake Ontario our
squadron is now and has been for some time in a condition to confine that
of the enemy to his own port, and to favor the operations of our land
forces on that frontier.

A part of the squadron on Lake Erie has been extended into Lake Huron, and
has produced the advantage of displaying our command on that lake also. One
object of the expedition was the reduction of Mackinaw, which followed with
the loss of a few brave men, among whom was an officer justly distinguished
for his gallant exploits. The expedition, ably conducted by both the land
and the naval commanders, was otherwise highly valuable in its effects.

On Lake Champlain, where our superiority had for some time been undisputed,
the British squadron lately came into action with the American, commanded
by Captain Macdonough. It issued in the capture of the whole of the enemy's
ships. The best praise for this officer and his intrepid comrades is in the
likeness of his triumph to the illustrious victory which immortalized
another officer and established at a critical moment our command of another

On the ocean the pride of our naval arms had been amply supported. A second
frigate has indeed fallen into the hands of the enemy, but the loss is
hidden in the blaze of heroism with which she was defended. Captain Porter,
who commanded her, and whose previous career had been distinguished by
daring enterprise and by fertility of genius, maintained a sanguinary
contest against two ships, one of them superior to his own, and under other
severe disadvantages, 'til humanity tore down the colors which valor had
nailed to the mast. This officer and his brave comrades have added much to
the rising glory of the American flag, and have merited all the effusions
of gratitude which their country is ever ready to bestow on the champions
of its rights and of its safety.

Two smaller vessels of war have also become prizes to the enemy, but by a
superiority of force which sufficiently vindicates the reputation of their
commanders, whilst two others, one commanded by Captain Warrington, the
other by Captain Blakely, have captured British ships of the same class
with a gallantry and good conduct which entitle them and their companions
to a just share in the praise of their country.

In spite of the naval force of the enemy accumulated on our coasts, our
private cruisers also have not ceased to annoy his commerce and to bring
their rich prizes into our ports, contributing thus, with other proofs, to
demonstrate the incompetency and illegality of a blockade the proclamation
of which is made the pretext for vexing and discouraging the commerce of
neutral powers with the United States.

To meet the extended and diversified warfare adopted by the enemy, great
bodies of militia have been taken into service for the public defense, and
great expenses incurred. That the defense everywhere may be both more
convenient and more economical, Congress will see the necessity of
immediate measures for filling the ranks of the Regular Army and of
enlarging the provision for special corps, mounted and unmounted, to be
engaged for longer periods of service than are due from the militia. I
earnestly renew, at the same time, a recommendation of such changes in the
system of the militia as, by classing and disciplining for the most prompt
and active service the portions most capable of it, will give to that great
resource for the public safety all the requisite energy and efficiency.

The moneys received into the Treasury during the nine months ending on the
30th day of June last amounted to $32 millions, of which near $11 millions
were the proceeds of the public revenue and the remainder derived from
loans. The disbursements for public expenditures during the same period
exceeded $34 millions, and left in the Treasury on the first day of July
near $5 millions. The demands during the remainder of the present year
already authorized by Congress and the expenses incident to an extension
of the operations of the war will render it necessary that large sums
should be provided to meet them.

From this view of the national affairs Congress will be urged to take up
without delay as well the subject of pecuniary supplies as that of military
force, and on a scale commensurate with the extent and the character which
the war has assumed. It is not to be disguised that the situation of our
country calls for its greatest efforts.

Our enemy is powerful in men and in money, on the land and on the water.
Availing himself of fortuitous advantages, he is aiming with his undivided
force a deadly blow at our growing prosperity, perhaps at our national
existence. He has avowed his purpose of trampling on the usages of
civilized warfare, and given earnests of it in the plunder and wanton
destruction of private property. In his pride of maritime dominion and in
his thirst of commercial monopoly he strikes with peculiar animosity at the
progress of our navigation and of our manufactures. His barbarous policy
has not even spared those monuments of the arts and models of taste with
which our country had enriched and embellished its infant metropolis. From
such an adversary hostility in its greatest force and in its worst forms
may be looked for.

The American people will face it with the undaunted spirit which in their
revolutionary struggle defeated his unrighteous projects. His threats and
his barbarities, instead of dismay, will kindle in every bosom an
indignation not to be extinguished but in the disaster and expulsion of
such cruel invaders.

In providing the means necessary the National Legislature will not distrust
the heroic and enlightened patriotism of its constituents. They will
cheerfully and proudly bear every burden of every kind which the safety and
honor of the nation demand. We have seen them everywhere paying their
taxes, direct and indirect, with the greatest promptness and alacrity. We
see them rushing with enthusiasm to the scenes where danger and duty call.
In offering their blood they give the surest pledge that no other tribute
will be withheld.

Having forborne to declare war until to other aggressions had been added
the capture of near one thousand American vessels and the impressment of
thousands of American sea faring citizens, and until a final declaration
had been made by the Government of Great Britain that her hostile orders
against our commerce would not be revoked but on conditions as impossible
as unjust, whilst it was known that these orders would not otherwise
cease but with a war which had lasted nearly twenty years, and which,
according to appearances at that time, might last as many more; having
manifested on every occasion and in every proper mode a sincere desire to
arrest the effusion of blood and meet our enemy on the ground of justice
and reconciliation, our beloved country, in still opposing to his
persevering hostility all its energies, with an undiminished disposition
toward peace and friendship on honorable terms, must carry with it the
good wishes of the impartial world and the best hopes of support from an
omnipotent and kind Providence.


State of the Union Address
James Madison
December 5, 1815

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

I have the satisfaction on our present meeting of being able to communicate
the successful termination of the war which had been commenced against the
United States by the Regency of Algiers. The squadron in advance on that
service, under Commodore Decatur, lost not a moment after its arrival in
the Mediterranean in seeking the naval force of the enemy then cruising in
that sea, and succeeded in capturing two of his ships, one of them the
principal ship, commanded by the Algerine admiral. The high character of
the American commander was brilliantly sustained on the occasion which
brought his own ship into close action with that of his adversary, as was
the accustomed gallantry of all the officers and men actually engaged.
Having prepared the way by this demonstration of American skill and
prowess, he hastened to the port of Algiers, where peace was promptly
yielded to his victorious force.

In the terms stipulated the rights and honor of the United States were
particularly consulted by a perpetual relinquishment on the part of the Dey
of all pretensions to tribute from them. The impressions which have thus
been made, strengthened as they will have been by subsequent transactions
with the Regencies of Tunis and of Tripoli by the appearance of the larger
force which followed under Commodore Bainbridge, the chief in command of
the expedition, and by the judicious precautionary arrangements left by him
in that quarter, afford a reasonable prospect of future security for the
valuable portion of our commerce which passes within reach of the Barbary

It is another source of satisfaction that the treaty of peace with Great
Britain has been succeeded by a convention on the subject of commerce
concluded by the plenipotentiaries of the two countries. In this result a
disposition is manifested on the part of that nation corresponding with the
disposition of the United States, which it may be hoped will be improved
into liberal arrangements on other subjects on which the parties have
mutual interests, or which might endanger their future harmony. Congress
will decide on the expediency of promoting such a sequel by giving effect
to the measure of confining the American navigation to American sea men--a
measure which, at the same time that it might have that conciliatory
tendency, would have the further advantage of increasing the independence
of our navigation and the resources for our maritime defense.

In conformity with the articles in the treaty of Ghent relating to the
Indians, as well as with a view to the tranquillity of our western and
northwestern frontiers, measures were taken to establish an immediate peace
with the several tribes who had been engaged in hostilities against the
United States. Such of them as were invited to Detroit acceded readily to a
renewal of the former treaties of friendship. Of the other tribes who were
invited to a station on the Mississippi the greater number have also
accepted the peace offered to them. The residue, consisting of the more
distant tribes or parts of tribes, remain to be brought over by further
explanations, or by such other means as may be adapted to the dispositions
they may finally disclose.

The Indian tribes within and bordering on the southern frontier, whom a
cruel war on their part had compelled us to chastise into peace, have
latterly shown a restlessness which has called for preparatory measures for
repressing it, and for protecting the commissioners engaged in carrying the
terms of the peace into execution.

The execution of the act for fixing the military peace establishment has
been attended with difficulties which even now can only be overcome by
legislative aid. The selection of officers, the payment and discharge of
the troops enlisted for the war, the payment of the retained troops and
their reunion from detached and distant stations, the collection and
security of the public property in the Quartermaster, Commissary, and
Ordnance departments, and the constant medical assistance required in
hospitals and garrisons rendered a complete execution of the act
impracticable on the 1st of May, the period more immediately contemplated.
As soon, however, as circumstances would permit, and as far as it has been
practicable consistently with the public interests, the reduction of the
Army has been accomplished; but the appropriations for its pay and for
other branches of the military service having proved inadequate, the
earliest attention to that subject will be necessary; and the expediency of
continuing upon the peace establishment the staff officers who have
hitherto been provisionally retained is also recommended to the
consideration of Congress.

In the performance of the Executive duty upon this occasion there has not
been wanting a just sensibility to the merits of the American Army during
the late war; but the obvious policy and design in fixing an efficient
military peace establishment did not afford an opportunity to distinguish
the aged and infirm on account of their past services nor the wounded and
disabled on account of their present sufferings.

The extent of the reduction, indeed, unavoidably involved the exclusion of
many meritorious officers of every rank from the service of their country;
and so equal as well as so numerous were the claims to attention that a
decision by the standard of comparative merit could seldom be attained.
Judged, however, in candor by a general standard of positive merit, the
Army Register will, it is believed, do honor to the establishment, while
the case of those officers whose names are not included in it devolves with
the strongest interest upon the legislative authority for such provisions
as shall be deemed the best calculated to give support and solace to the
veteran and the invalid, to display the beneficence as well as the justice
of the Government, and to inspire a martial zeal for the public service
upon every future emergency.

Although the embarrassments arising from the want of an uniform national
currency have not been diminished since the adjournment of Congress, great
satisfaction has been derived in contemplating the revival of the public
credit and the efficiency of the public resources. The receipts into the
Treasury from the various branches of revenue during the nine months ending
on the 30th of September last have been estimated at $12.5 millions; the
issues of Treasury notes of every denomination during the same period
amounted to the sum of $14 millions, and there was also obtained upon loan
during the same period a sum of $9 millions, of which the sum of $6
millions was subscribed in cash and the sum of $3 millions in Treasury

With these means, added to the sum of $1.5 millions, being the balance of
money in the Treasury on the 1st day of January, there has been paid
between the 1st of January and the 1st of October on account of the
appropriations of the preceding and of the present year (exclusively of
the amount of the Treasury notes subscribed to the loan and of the amount
redeemed in the payment of duties and taxes) the aggregate sum of $33.5
millions, leaving a balance then in the Treasury estimated at the sum of
$3 millions. Independent, however of the arrearages due for military
services and supplies, it is presumed that a further sum of $5 millions,
including the interest on the public debt payable on the 1st of January
next, will be demanded at the Treasury to complete the expenditures of
the present year, and for which the existing ways and means will
sufficiently provide.

The national debt, as it was ascertained on the 1st of October last,
amounted in the whole to the sum of $120 millions, consisting of the
unredeemed balance of the debt contracted before the late war ($39
millions), the amount of the funded debt contracted in consequence of the
war ($64 millions), and the amount of the unfunded and floating debt,
including the various issues of Treasury notes, $17 millions, which is in
gradual course of payment.

There will probably be some addition to the public debt upon the
liquidation of various claims which are depending, and a conciliatory
disposition on the part of Congress may lead honorably and advantageously
to an equitable arrangement of the militia expenses incurred by the several
States without the previous sanction or authority of the Government of the
United States; but when it is considered that the new as well as the old
portion of the debt has been contracted in the assertion of the national
rights and independence, and when it is recollected that the public
expenditures, not being exclusively bestowed upon subjects of a transient
nature, will long be visible in the number and equipments of the American
Navy, in the military works for the defense of our harbors and our
frontiers, and in the supplies of our arsenals and magazines the amount
will bear a gratifying comparison with the objects which have been
attained, as well as with the resources of the country.

The arrangements of the finances with a view to the receipts and
expenditures of a permanent peace establishment will necessarily enter into
the deliberations of Congress during the present session. It is true that
the improved condition of the public revenue will not only afford the means
of maintaining the faith of the Government with its creditors inviolate,
and of prosecuting successfully the measures of the most liberal policy,
but will also justify an immediate alleviation of the burdens imposed by
the necessities of the war.

It is, however, essential to every modification of the finances that the
benefits of an uniform national currency should be restored to the
community. The absence of the precious metals will, it is believed, be a
temporary evil, but until they can again be rendered the general medium of
exchange it devolves on the wisdom of Congress to provide a substitute
which shall equally engage the confidence and accommodate the wants of the
citizens throughout the Union. If the operation of the State banks can not
produce this result, the probable operation of a national bank will merit
consideration; and if neither of these expedients be deemed effectual it
may become necessary to ascertain the terms upon which the notes of the
Government (no longer required as an instrument of credit) shall be issued
upon motives of general policy as a common medium of circulation.

Notwithstanding the security for future repose which the United States
ought to find in their love of peace and their constant respect for the
rights of other nations, the character of the times particularly inculcates
the lesson that, whether to prevent or repel danger, we ought not to be
unprepared for it. This consideration will sufficiently recommend to
Congress a liberal provision for the immediate extension and gradual
completion of the works of defense, both fixed and floating, on our
maritime frontier, and an adequate provision for guarding our inland
frontier against dangers to which certain portions of it may continue to be

As an improvement in our military establishment, it will deserve the
consideration of Congress whether a corps of invalids might not be so
organized and employed as at once to aid in the support of meritorious
individuals excluded by age or infirmities from the existing establishment,
and to procure to the public the benefit of their stationary services and
of their exemplary discipline.

I recommend also an enlargement of the Military Academy already
established, and the establishment of others in other sections of the
Union; and I can not press too much on the attention of Congress such a
classification and organization of the militia as will most effectually
render it the safeguard of a free state. If experience has shewn in the
recent splendid achievements of militia the value of this resource for the
public defense, it has shewn also the importance of that skill in the use
of arms and that familiarity with the essential rules of discipline which
can not be expected from the regulations now in force.

With this subject is intimately connected the necessity of accommodating
the laws in every respect to the great object of enabling the political
authority of the Union to employ promptly and effectually the physical
power of the Union in the cases designated by the Constitution.

The signal services which have been rendered by our Navy and the capacities
it has developed for successful cooperation in the national defense will
give to that portion of the public force its full value in the eyes of
Congress, at an epoch which calls for the constant vigilance of all
governments. To preserve the ships now in a sound state, to complete those
already contemplated, to provide amply the imperishable materials for
prompt augmentations, and to improve the existing arrangements into more
advantageous establishments for the construction, the repairs, and the
security of vessels of war is dictated by the soundest policy.

In adjusting the duties on imports to the object of revenue the influence
of the tariff on manufactures will necessarily present itself for
consideration. However wise the theory may be which leaves to the sagacity
and interest of individuals the application of their industry and
resources, there are in this as in other cases exceptions to the general
rule. Besides the condition which the theory itself implies of reciprocal
adoption by other nations, experience teaches that so many circumstances
must concur in introducing and maturing manufacturing establishments,
especially of the more complicated kinds, that a country may remain long
without them, although sufficiently advanced and in some respects even
peculiarly fitted for carrying them on with success. Under circumstances
giving a powerful impulse to manufacturing industry it has made among us a
progress and exhibited an efficiency which justify the belief that with a
protection not more than is due to the enterprising citizens whose
interests are now at stake it will become at an early day not only safe
against occasional competitions from abroad, but a source of domestic
wealth and even of external commerce.

In selecting the branches more especially entitled to the public patronage
a preference is obviously claimed by such as will relieve the United States
from a dependence on foreign supplies, ever subject to casual failures, for
articles necessary for the public defense or connected with the primary
wants of individuals. It will be an additional recommendation of particular
manufactures where the materials for them are extensively drawn from our
agriculture, and consequently impart and insure to that great fund of
national prosperity and independence an encouragement which can not fail to
be rewarded.

Among the means of advancing the public interest the occasion is a proper
one for recalling the attention of Congress to the great importance of
establishing throughout our country the roads and canals which can best be
executed under the national authority. No objects within the circle of
political economy so richly repay the expense bestowed on them; there are
none the utility of which is more universally ascertained and acknowledged;
none that do more honor to the governments whose wise and enlarged
patriotism duly appreciates them. Nor is there any country which presents a
field where nature invites more the art of man to complete her own work for
his accommodation and benefit.

These considerations are strengthened, moreover, by the political effect of
these facilities for intercommunication in bringing and binding more
closely together the various parts of our extended confederacy. Whilst the
States individually, with a laudable enterprise and emulation, avail
themselves of their local advantages by new roads, by navigable canals, and
by improving the streams susceptible of navigation, the General Government
is the more urged to similar undertakings, requiring a national
jurisdiction and national means, by the prospect of thus systematically
completing so inestimable a work; and it is a happy reflection that any
defect of constitutional authority which may be encountered can be supplied
in a mode which the Constitution itself has providently pointed out.

The present is a favorable season also for bringing again into view the
establishment of a national seminary of learning within the District of
Columbia, and with means drawn from the property therein, subject to the
authority of the General Government. Such an institution claims the
patronage of Congress as a monument of their solicitude for the advancement
of knowledge, without which the blessings of liberty can not be fully
enjoyed or long preserved; as a model instructive in the formation of other
seminaries; as a nursery of enlightened preceptors, and as a central resort
of youth and genius from every part of their country, diffusing on their
return examples of those national feelings, those liberal sentiments, and
those congenial manners which contribute cement to our Union and strength
to the great political fabric of which that is the foundation.

In closing this communication I ought not to repress a sensibility, in
which you will unite, to the happy lot of our country and to the goodness
of a superintending Providence, to which we are indebted for it. Whilst
other portions of mankind are laboring under the distresses of war or
struggling with adversity in other forms, the United States are in the
tranquil enjoyment of prosperous and honorable peace. In reviewing the
scenes through which it has been attained we can rejoice in the proofs
given that our political institutions, founded in human rights and framed
for their preservation, are equal to the severest trials of war, as well
adapted to the ordinary periods of repose.

As fruits of this experience and of the reputation acquired by the American
arms on the land and on the water, the nation finds itself possessed of a
growing respect abroad and of a just confidence in itself, which are among
the best pledges for its peaceful career. Under other aspects of our
country the strongest features of its flourishing condition are seen in a
population rapidly increasing on a territory as productive as it is
extensive; in a general industry and fertile ingenuity which find their
ample rewards, and in an affluent revenue which admits a reduction of the
public burdens without withdrawing the means of sustaining the public
credit, of gradually discharging the public debt, of providing for the
necessary defensive and precautionary establishments, and of patronizing in
every authorized mode undertakings conducive to the aggregate wealth and
individual comfort of our citizens.

It remains for the guardians of the public welfare to persevere in that
justice and good will toward other nations which invite a return of these
sentiments toward the United States; to cherish institutions which
guarantee their safety and their liberties, civil and religious; and to
combine with a liberal system of foreign commerce an improvement of the
national advantages and a protection and extension of the independent
resources of our highly favored and happy country.

In all measures having such objects my faithful cooperation will be


State of the Union Address
James Madison
December 3, 1816

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

In reviewing the present state of our country, our attention cannot be
withheld from the effect produced by peculiar seasons which have very
generally impaired the annual gifts of the earth and threatened scarcity in
particular districts. Such, however, is the variety of soils, of climates,
and of products within our extensive limits that the aggregate resources
for subsistence are more than sufficient for the aggregate wants. And as
far as an economy of consumption, more than usual, may be necessary, our
thankfulness is due to Providence for what is far more than a compensation,
in the remarkable health which has distinguished the present year.

Amidst the advantages which have succeeded the peace of Europe, and that of
the United States with Great Britain, in a general invigoration of industry
among us and in the extension of our commerce, the value of which is more
and more disclosing itself to commercial nations, it is to be regretted
that a depression is experienced by particular branches of our manufactures
and by a portion of our navigation. As the first proceeds in an essential
degree from an excess of imported merchandise, which carries a check in its
own tendency, the cause in its present extent can not be very long in
duration. The evil will not, however, be viewed by Congress without a
recollection that manufacturing establishments, if suffered to sink too low
or languish too long, may not revive after the causes shall have ceased,
and that in the vicissitudes of human affairs situations may recur in which
a dependence on foreign sources for indispensable supplies may be among the
most serious embarrassments.

The depressed state of our navigation is to be ascribed in a material
degree to its exclusion from the colonial ports of the nation most
extensively connected with us in commerce, and from the indirect operation
of that exclusion.

Previous to the late convention at London between the United States and
Great Britain the relative state of the navigation laws of the two
countries, growing out of the treaty of 1794, had given to the British
navigation a material advantage over the American in the intercourse
between the American ports and British ports in Europe. The convention of
London equalized the laws of the two countries relating to those ports,
leaving the intercourse between our ports and the ports of the British
colonies subject, as before, to the respective regulations of the parties.
The British Government enforcing now regulations which prohibit a trade
between its colonies and the United States in American vessels, whilst they
permit a trade in British vessels, the American navigation loses
accordingly, and the loss is augmented by the advantage which is given to
the British competition over the American in the navigation between our
ports and British ports in Europe by the circuitous voyages enjoyed by the
one and not enjoyed by the other.

The reasonableness of the rule of reciprocity applied to one branch of the
commercial intercourse has been pressed on our part as equally applicable
to both branches; but it is ascertained that the British cabinet declines
all negotiation on the subject, with a disavowal, however, of any
disposition to view in an unfriendly light whatever countervailing
regulations the United States may oppose to the regulations of which they
complain. The wisdom of the Legislature will decide on the course which,
under these circumstances, is prescribed by a joint regard to the amicable
relations between the two nations and to the just interests of the United

I have the satisfaction to state, generally, that we remain in amity with
foreign powers.

An occurrence has indeed taken place in the Gulf of Mexico which, if
sanctioned by the Spanish Government, may make an exception as to that
power. According to the report of our naval commander on that station, one
of our public armed vessels was attacked by an over-powering force under a
Spanish commander, and the American flag, with the officers and crew,
insulted in a manner calling for prompt reparation. This has been demanded.
In the mean time a frigate and a smaller vessel of war have been ordered
into that Gulf for the protection of our commerce. It would be improper to
omit that the representative of His Catholic Majesty in the United States
lost no time in giving the strongest assurances that no hostile order could
have emanated from his Government, and that it will be as ready to do as to
expect whatever the nature of the case and the friendly relations of the
two countries shall be found to require.

The posture of our affairs with Algiers at the present moment is not known.
The Dey, drawing pretexts from circumstances for which the United States
were not answerable, addressed a letter to this Government declaring the
treaty last concluded with him to have been annulled by our violation of
it, and presenting as the alternative war or a renewal of the former
treaty, which stipulated, among other things, an annual tribute. The
answer, with an explicit declaration that the United States preferred war
to tribute, required his recognition and observance of the treaty last
made, which abolishes tribute and the slavery of our captured citizens. The
result of the answer has not been received. Should he renew his warfare on
our commerce, we rely on the protection it will find in our naval force
actually in the Mediterranean.

With the other Barbary States our affairs have undergone no change.

The Indian tribes within our limits appear also disposed to remain at
peace. From several of them purchases of lands have been made particularly
favorable to the wishes and security of our frontier settlements, as well
as to the general interests of the nation. In some instances the titles,
though not supported by due proof, and clashing those of one tribe with the
claims of another, have been extinguished by double purchases, the
benevolent policy of the United States preferring the augmented expense to
the hazard of doing injustice or to the enforcement of justice against a
feeble and untutored people by means involving or threatening an effusion
of blood.

I am happy to add that the tranquillity which has been restored among the
tribes themselves, as well as between them and our own population, will
favor the resumption of the work of civilization which had made an
encouraging progress among some tribes, and that the facility is increasing
for extending that divided and individual ownership, which exists now in
movable property only, to the soil itself, and of thus establishing in the
culture and improvement of it the true foundation for a transit from the
habits of the savage to the arts and comforts of social life.

As a subject of the highest importance to the national welfare, I must
again earnestly recommend to the consideration of Congress a reorganization
of the militia on a plan which will form it into classes according to the
periods of life more or less adapted to military services. An efficient
militia is authorized and contemplated by the Constitution and required by
the spirit and safety of free government. The present organization of our
militia is universally regarded as less efficient than it ought to be made,
and no organization can be better calculated to give to it its due force
than a classification which will assign the foremost place in the defense
of the country to that portion of its citizens whose activity and animation
best enable them to rally to its standard. Besides the consideration that a
time of peace is the time when the change can be made with most convenience
and equity, it will now be aided by the experience of a recent war in which
the militia bore so interesting a part.

Congress will call to mind that no adequate provision has yet been made for
the uniformity of weights and measures also contemplated by the
Constitution. The great utility of a standard fixed in its nature and
founded on the easy rule of decimal proportions is sufficiently obvious. It
led the Government at an early stage to preparatory steps for introducing
it, and a completion of the work will be a just title to the public

The importance which I have attached to the establishment of a university
within this District on a scale and for objects worthy of the American
nation induces me to renew my recommendation of it to the favorable
consideration of Congress. And I particularly invite again their attention
to the expediency of exercising their existing powers, and, where
necessary, of resorting to the prescribed mode of enlarging them, in order
to effectuate a comprehensive system of roads and canals, such as will have
the effect of drawing more closely together every part of our country by
promoting intercourse and improvements and by increasing the share of every
part in the common stock of national prosperity.

Occurrences having taken place which shew that the statutory provisions for
the dispensation of criminal justice are deficient in relation both to
places and to persons under the exclusive cognizance of the national
authority, an amendment of the law embracing such cases will merit the
earliest attention of the Legislature. It will be a seasonable occasion
also for inquiring how far legislative interposition may be further
requisite in providing penalties for offenses designated in the
Constitution or in the statutes, and to which either no penalties are
annexed or none with sufficient certainty. And I submit to the wisdom of
Congress whether a more enlarged revisal of the criminal code be not
expedient for the purpose of mitigating in certain cases penalties which
were adopted into it antecedent to experiment and examples which justify
and recommend a more lenient policy.

The United States, having been the first to abolish within the extent of
their authority the transportation of the natives of Africa into slavery,
by prohibiting the introduction of slaves and by punishing their citizens
participating in the traffic, can not but be gratified at the progress made
by concurrent efforts of other nations toward a general suppression of so
great an evil. They must feel at the same time the greater solicitude to
give the fullest efficacy to their own regulations. With that view, the
interposition of Congress appears to be required by the violations and
evasions which it is suggested are chargeable on unworthy citizens who
mingle in the slave trade under foreign flags and with foreign ports, and
by collusive importations of slaves into the United States through
adjoining ports and territories. I present the subject to Congress with a
full assurance of their disposition to apply all the remedy which can be
afforded by an amendment of the law. The regulations which were intended to
guard against abuses of a kindred character in the trade between the
several States ought also to be rendered more effectual for their humane

To these recommendations I add, for the consideration of Congress, the
expediency of a remodification of the judiciary establishment, and of an
additional department in the executive branch of the Government.

The first is called for by the accruing business which necessarily swells
the duties of the Federal courts, and by the great and widening space
within which justice is to be dispensed by them. The time seems to have
arrived which claims for members of the Supreme Court a relief from
itinerary fatigues, incompatible as well with the age which a portion of
them will always have attained as with the researches and preparations
which are due to their stations and to the juridical reputation of their
country. And considerations equally cogent require a more convenient
organization of the subordinate tribunals, which may be accomplished
without an objectionable increase of the number or expense of the judges.

The extent and variety of executive business also accumulating with the
progress of our country and its growing population call for an additional
department, to be charged with duties now over-burdening other departments
and with such as have not been annexed to any department.

The course of experience recommends, as another improvement in the
executive establishment, that the provision for the station of
Attorney-General, whose residence at the seat of Government, official
connections with it, and the management of the public business before the
judiciary preclude an extensive participation in professional emoluments,
be made more adequate to his services and his relinquishments, and that,
with a view to his reasonable accommodation and to a proper depository of
his official opinions and proceedings, there be included in the provision
the usual appurtenances to a public office.

In directing the legislative attention to the state of the finances it is a
subject of great gratification to find that even within the short period
which has elapsed since the return of peace the revenue has far exceeded
all the current demands upon the Treasury, and that under any probable
diminution of its future annual products which the vicissitudes of commerce
may occasion it will afford an ample fund for the effectual and early
extinguishment of the public debt. It has been estimated that during the
year 1816 the actual receipts of revenue at the Treasury, including the
balance at the commencement of the year, and excluding the proceeds of
loans and Treasury notes, will amount to about the sum of $47 millions;
that during the same year the actual payments at the Treasury, including
the payment of the arrearages of the War Department as well as the payment
of a considerable excess beyond the annual appropriations, will amount to
about the sum of $38 millions, and that consequently at the close of the
year there will be a surplus in the Treasury of about the sum of $9

The operations of the Treasury continued to be obstructed by difficulties
arising from the condition of the national currency, but they have
nevertheless been effectual to a beneficial extent in the reduction of the
public debt and the establishment of the public credit. The floating debt
of Treasury notes and temporary loans will soon be entirely discharged. The
aggregate of the funded debt, composed of debts incurred during the wars of
1776 and 1812, has been estimated with reference to the first of January
next at a sum not exceeding $110 millions. The ordinary annual expenses of
the Government for the maintenance of all its institutions, civil,
military, and naval, have been estimated at a sum greater than $20
millions, and the permanent revenue to be derived from all the existing
sources has been estimated at a sum of $25 millions.

Upon this general view of the subject it is obvious that there is only
wanting to the fiscal prosperity of the Government the restoration of an
uniform medium of exchange. The resources and the faith of the nation,
displayed in the system which Congress has established, insure respect and
confidence both at home and abroad. The local accumulations of the revenue
have already enabled the Treasury to meet the public engagements in the
local currency of most of the States, and it is expected that the same
cause will produce the same effect throughout the Union; but for the
interests of the community at large, as well as for the purposes of the
Treasury, it is essential that the nation should possess a currency of
equal value, credit, and use wherever it may circulate. The Constitution
has intrusted Congress exclusively with the power of creating and
regulating a currency of that description, and the measures which were
taken during the last session in execution of the power give every promise
of success. The Bank of the United States has been organized under auspices
the most favorable, and can not fail to be an important auxiliary to those

For a more enlarged view of the public finances, with a view of the
measures pursued by the Treasury Department previous to the resignation of
the late Secretary, I transmit an extract from the last report of that
officer. Congress will perceive in it ample proofs of the solid foundation
on which the financial prosperity of the nation rests, and will do justice
to the distinguished ability and successful exertions with which the duties
of the Department were executed during a period remarkable for its
difficulties and its peculiar perplexities.

The period of my retiring from the public service being at little distance,
I shall find no occasion more proper than the present for expressing to my
fellow citizens my deep sense of the continued confidence and kind support
which I have received from them. My grateful recollection of these
distinguished marks of their favorable regard can never cease, and with the
consciousness that, if I have not served my country with greater ability, I
have served it with a sincere devotion will accompany me as a source of
unfailing gratification.

Happily, I shall carry with me from the public theater other sources, which
those who love their country most will best appreciate. I shall behold it
blessed with tranquillity and prosperity at home and with peace and respect
abroad. I can indulge the proud reflection that the American people have
reached in safety and success their 40th year as an independent nation;
that for nearly an entire generation they have had experience of their
present Constitution, the off-spring of their undisturbed deliberations and
of their free choice; that they have found it to bear the trials of adverse
as well as prosperous circumstances; to contain in its combination of the
federate and elective principles a reconcilement of public strength with
individual liberty, of national power for the defense of national rights
with a security against wars of injustice, of ambition, and vain-glory in
the fundamental provision which subjects all questions of war to the will
of the nation itself, which is to pay its costs and feel its calamities.
Nor is it less a peculiar felicity of this Constitution, so dear to us all,
that it is found to be capable, without losing its vital energies, of
expanding itself over a spacious territory with the increase and expansion
of the community for whose benefit it was established.

And may I not be allowed to add to this gratifying spectacle that I shall
read in the character of the American people, in their devotion to true
liberty and to the Constitution which is its palladium, sure presages that
the destined career of my country will exhibit a Government pursuing the
public good as its sole object, and regulating its means by the great
principles consecrated in its charter and by those moral principles to
which they are so well allied; a Government which watches over the purity
of elections, the freedom of speech and of the press, the trial by jury,
and the equal interdict against encroachments and compacts between religion
and the state; which maintains inviolably the maxims of public faith, the
security of persons and property, and encourages in every authorized mode
the general diffusion of knowledge which guarantees to public liberty its
permanency and to those who possess the blessing the true enjoyment of it;
a Government which avoids intrusions on the internal repose of other
nations, and repels them from its own; which does justice to all nations
with a readiness equal to the firmness with which it requires justice from
them; and which, whilst it refines its domestic code from every ingredient
not congenial with the precepts of an enlightened age and the sentiments of
a virtuous people, seeks by appeals to reason and by its liberal examples
to infuse into the law which governs the civilized world a spirit which may
diminish the frequency or circumscribe the calamities of war, and meliorate
the social and beneficent relations of peace; a Government, in a word,
whose conduct within and without may bespeak the most noble of ambitions--
that of promoting peace on earth and good will to man.

These contemplations, sweetening the remnant of my days, will animate my
prayers for the happiness of my beloved country, and a perpetuity of the
institutions under which it is enjoyed.


State of the Union Address
James Monroe
December 12, 1817

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

At no period of our political existence had we so much cause to felicitate
ourselves at the prosperous and happy condition of our country. The
abundant fruits of the earth have filled it with plenty. An extensive and
profitable commerce has greatly augmented our revenue. The public credit
has attained an extraordinary elevation. Our preparations for defense in
case of future wars, from which, by the experience of all nations, we ought
not to expect to be exempted, are advancing under a well-digested system
with all the dispatch which so important a work will admit. Our free
Government, founded on the interest and affections of the people, has
gained and is daily gaining strength. Local jealousies are rapidly yielding
to more generous, enlarged, and enlightened views of national policy. For
advantages so numerous and highly important it is our duty to unite in
grateful acknowledgements to that Omnipotent Being from whom they are
derived, and in unceasing prayer that He will endow us with virtue and
strength to maintain and hand them down in their utmost purity to our
latest posterity.

I have the satisfaction to inform you that an arrangement which had been
commenced by my predecessor with the British Government for the reduction
of the naval force by Great Britain and the United States on the Lakes has
been concluded, by which it is provided that neither party shall keep in
service on Lake Champlain more than one vessel, on Lake Ontario more than
one, and on Lake Erie and the upper lakes more than two, to be armed each
with one cannon only, and that all the other armed vessels of both parties,
of which an exact list is interchanged, shall be dismantled. It is also
agreed that the force retained shall be restricted in its duty to the
internal purposes of each party, and that the arrangement shall remain in
force until six months shall have expired after notice given by one of the
parties to the other of its desire that it should terminate. By this
arrangement useless expense on both sides and, what is of still greater
importance, the danger of collision between armed vessels in those inland
waters, which was great, is prevented.

I have the satisfaction also to state that the commissioners under the
fourth article of the treaty of Ghent, to whom it was referred to decide to
which party the several islands in the bay of Passamaquoddy belonged under
the treaty of 1783, have agreed in a report, by which all the islands in
the possession of each party before the late war have been decreed to it.
The commissioners acting under the other articles of the treaty of Ghent
for the settlement of boundaries have also been engaged in the discharge of
their respective duties, but have not yet completed them.

The difference which arose between the two Governments under that treaty
respecting the right of the US to take and cure fish on the coast of the
British provinces north of our limits, which had been secured by the treaty
of 1783, is still in negotiation. The proposition made by this Government
to extend to the colonies of Great Britain the principle of the convention
of London, by which the commerce between the ports of the United States
and British ports in Europe had been placed on a footing of equality, has
been declined by the British Government. This subject having been thus
amicably discussed between the two Governments, and it appearing that
the British Government is unwilling to depart from its present
regulations, it remains for Congress to decide whether they will make
any other regulations in consequence thereof for the protection and
improvement of our navigation.

The negotiation with Spain for spoliations on our commerce and the
settlement of boundaries remains essentially in the state it held by the
communications that were made to Congress by my predecessor. It has been
evidently the policy of the Spanish Government to keep the negotiation
suspended, and in this the United States have acquiesced, from an amicable
disposition toward Spain and in the expectation that her Government would,
from a sense of justice, finally accede to such an arrangement as would be
equal between the parties. A disposition has been lately shown by the
Spanish Government to move in the negotiation, which has been met by this
Government, and should the conciliatory and friendly policy which has
invariably guided our councils be reciprocated, a just and satisfactory
arrangement may be expected. It is proper, however, to remark that no
proposition has yet been made from which such a result can be presumed.

It was anticipated at an early stage that the contest between Spain and the
colonies would become highly interesting to the United States. It was
natural that our citizens should sympathize in events which affected their
neighbors. It seemed probable also that the prosecution of the conflict
along our coast and in contiguous countries would occasionally interrupt
our commerce and otherwise affect the persons and property of our citizens.
These anticipations have been realized. Such injuries have been received
from persons acting under authority of both the parties, and for which
redress has in most instances been withheld.

Through every stage of the conflict the United States have maintained an
impartial neutrality, giving aid to neither of the parties in men, money,
ships, or munitions of war. They have regarded the contest not in the light
of an ordinary insurrection or rebellion, but as a civil war between
parties nearly equal, having as to neutral powers equal rights. Our ports
have been open to both, and every article the fruit of our soil or of the
industry of our citizens which either was permitted to take has been
equally free to the other. Should the colonies establish their
independence, it is proper now to state that this Government neither seeks
nor would accept from them any advantage in commerce or otherwise which
will not be equally open to all other nations. The colonies will in that
event become independent states, free from any obligation to or connection
with us which it may not then be their interest to form on the basis of a
fair reciprocity.

In the summer of the present year an expedition was set on foot against
East Florida by persons claiming to act under the authority of some of the
colonies, who took possession of Amelia Island, at the mouth of the St.
Marys River, near the boundary of the State of Georgia. As this Province
lies eastward of the Mississippi, and is bounded by the United States and
the ocean on every side, and has been a subject of negotiation with the
Government of Spain as an indemnity for losses by spoliation or in exchange
for territory of equal value westward of the Mississippi, a fact well known
to the world, it excited surprise that any countenance should be given to
this measure by any of the colonies.

As it would be difficult to reconcile it with the friendly relations
existing between the United States and the colonies, a doubt was
entertained whether it had been authorized by them, or any of them. This
doubt has gained strength by the circumstances which have unfolded
themselves in the prosecution of the enterprise, which have marked it as a
mere private, unauthorized adventure. Projected and commenced with an
incompetent force, reliance seems to have been placed on what might be
drawn, in defiance of our laws, from within our limits; and of late, as
their resources have failed, it has assumed a more marked character of
unfriendliness to us, the island being made a channel for the illicit
introduction of slaves from Africa into the United States, an asylum for
fugitive slaves from the neighboring States, and a port for smuggling of
every kind.

A similar establishment was made at an earlier period by persons of the
same description in the Gulf of Mexico at a place called Galvezton, within
the limits of the United States, as we contend, under the cession of
Louisiana. This enterprise has been marked in a more signal manner by all
the objectionable circumstances which characterized the other, and more
particularly by the equipment of privateers which have annoyed our
commerce, and by smuggling. These establishments, if ever sanctioned by any
authority whatever, which is not believed, have abused their trust and
forfeited all claim to consideration. A just regard for the rights and
interests of the United States required that they should be suppressed, and
orders have been accordingly issued to that effect. The imperious
considerations which produced this measure will be explained to the parties
whom it may in any degree concern.

To obtain correct information on every subject in which the United States
are interested; to inspire just sentiments in all persons in authority, on
either side, of our friendly disposition so far as it may comport with an
impartial neutrality, and to secure proper respect to our commerce in every
port and from every flag, it has been thought proper to send a ship of war
with three distinguished citizens along the southern coast with these
purposes. With the existing authorities, with those in the possession of
and exercising the sovereignty, must the communication be held; from them
alone can redress for past injuries committed by persons acting under them
be obtained; by them alone can the commission of the like in future be

Our relations with the other powers of Europe have experienced no essential
change since the last session. In our intercourse with each due attention
continues to be paid to the protection of our commerce, and to every other
object in which the United States are interested. A strong hope is
entertained that, by adhering to the maxims of a just, a candid, and
friendly policy, we may long preserve amicable relations with all the
powers of Europe on conditions advantageous and honorable to our country.

With the Barbary States and the Indian tribes our pacific relations have
been preserved.

In calling your attention to the internal concerns of our country the view
which they exhibit is peculiarly gratifying. The payments which have been
made into the Treasury show the very productive state of the public
revenue. After satisfying the appropriations made by law for the support of
the civil Government and of the military and naval establishments,
embracing suitable provision for fortifications and for the gradual
increase of the Navy, paying the interest of the public debt, and
extinguishing more than $18 millions of the principal, within the present
year, it is estimated that a balance of more than $6 millions will remain
in the Treasury on the first day of January applicable to the current
service of the ensuing year.

The payments into the Treasury during the year 1818 on account of imposts
and tonnage, resulting principally from duties which have accrued in the
present year, may be fairly estimated at $20 millions; the internal
revenues at $2.5 millions; the public lands at $1.5 millions; bank
dividends and incidental receipts at $500,000; making in the whole $24.5

The annual permanent expenditure for the support of the civil Government
and of the Army and Navy, as now established by law, amounts to $11.8
millions, and for the sinking fund to $10 millions, making in the whole
$21.8 millions, leaving an annual excess of revenue beyond the expenditure
of $2.7 millions, exclusive of the balance estimated to be in the Treasury
on the first day of January, 1818.

In the present state of the Treasury the whole of the Louisiana debt may be
redeemed in the year 1819, after which, if the public debt continues as it
now is, above par, there will be annually about $5 millions of the sinking
fund unexpended until the year 1825, when the loan of 1812 and the stock
created by funding Treasury notes will be redeemable.

It is also estimated that the Mississippi stock will be discharged during
the year 1819 from the proceeds of the public lands assigned to that
object, after which the receipts from those lands will annually add to the
public revenue the sum of $1.5 millions, making the permanent annual
revenue amount to $26 millions, and leaving an annual excess of revenue
after the year 1819 beyond the permanent authorized expenditure of more
than $4 millions.

By the last returns to the Department of War the militia force of the
several States may be estimated at 800,000 men--infantry, artillery, and
cavalry. Great part of this force is armed, and measures are taken to arm
the whole. An improvement in the organization and discipline of the militia
is one of the great objects which claims the unremitted attention of

The regular force amounts nearly to the number required by law, and is
stationed along the Atlantic and inland frontiers.

Of the naval force it has been necessary to maintain strong squadrons in
the Mediterranean and in the Gulf of Mexico.

From several of the Indian tribes inhabiting the country bordering on Lake
Erie purchases have been made of lands on conditions very favorable to the
United States, and, as it is presumed, not less so to the tribes

By these purchases the Indian title, with moderate reservations, has been
extinguished to the whole of the land within the limits of the State of
Ohio, and to a part of that in the Michigan Territory and of the State of
Indiana. From the Cherokee tribe a tract has been purchased in the State of
Georgia and an arrangement made by which, in exchange for lands beyond the
Mississippi, a great part, if not the whole, of the land belonging to that
tribe eastward of that river in the States of North Carolina, Georgia, and
Tennessee, and in the Alabama Territory will soon be acquired. By these
acquisitions, and others that may reasonably be expected soon to follow, we
shall be enabled to extend our settlements from the inhabited parts of the
State of Ohio along Lake Erie into the Michigan Territory, and to connect
our settlements by degrees through the State of Indiana and the Illinois
Territory to that of Missouri. A similar and equally advantageous effect
will soon be produced to the south, through the whole extent of the States
and territory which border on the waters emptying into the Mississippi and
the Mobile.

In this progress, which the rights of nature demand and nothing can
prevent, marking a growth rapid and gigantic, it is our duty to make new
efforts for the preservation, improvement, and civilization of the native
inhabitants. The hunter state can exist only in the vast uncultivated
desert. It yields to the more dense and compact form and greater force of
civilized population; and of right it ought to yield, for the earth was
given to mankind to support the greatest number of which it is capable, and
no tribe or people have a right to withhold from the wants of others more
than is necessary for their own support and comfort.

It is gratifying to know that the reservations of land made by the treaties
with the tribes on Lake Erie were made with a view to individual ownership
among them and to the cultivation of the soil by all, and that an annual
stipend has been pledged to supply their other wants. It will merit the
consideration of Congress whether other provision not stipulated by treaty
ought to be made for these tribes and for the advancement of the liberal
and humane policy of the United States toward all the tribes within our
limits, and more particularly for their improvement in the arts of
civilized life.

Among the advantages incident to these purchases, and to those which have
preceded, the security which may thereby be afforded to our inland
frontiers is peculiarly important. With a strong barrier, consisting of our
own people, thus planted on the Lakes, the Mississippi, and the Mobile,
with the protection to be derived from the regular force, Indian
hostilities, if they do not altogether cease, will henceforth lose their
terror. Fortifications in those quarters to any extent will not be
necessary, and the expense of attending them may be saved. A people
accustomed to the use of firearms only, as the Indian tribes are, will shun
even moderate works which are defended by cannon. Great fortifications will
therefore be requisite only in future along the coast and at some points in
the interior connected with it. On these will the safety of our towns and
the commerce of our great rivers, from the Bay of Fundy to the Mississippi,
depend. On these, therefore, should the utmost attention, skill, and labor
be bestowed.

A considerable and rapid augmentation in the value of all the public lands,
proceeding from these and other obvious cases, may henceforward be
expected. The difficulties attending early emigrations will be dissipated
even in the most remote parts. Several new States have been admitted into
our Union to the west and south, and Territorial governments, happily
organized, established over every other portion in which there is vacant
land for sale. In terminating Indian hostilities, as must soon be done, in
a formidable shape at least, the emigration, which has heretofore been
great, will probably increase, and the demand for land and the augmentation
in its value be in like proportion.

The great increase of our population throughout the Union will alone
produce an important effect, and in no quarter will it be so sensibly felt
as in those in contemplation. The public lands are a public stock, which
ought to be disposed of to the best advantage for the nation. The nation
should therefore derive the profit proceeding from the continual rise in
their value. Every encouragement should be given to the emigrants
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 the benefit incident to their superior 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 this subject
to the consideration of Congress, that such further provision may be made
in 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

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 can
not 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 the
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 importance 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 means, viewed on the most liberal scale, for carrying into effect
any of the powers which are specifically granted.

In communicating this result I can not resist the obligation which I feel
to suggest to Congress the propriety of recommending to the States the
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
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 always 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 fellow-citizens throughout the United

Our manufactories will require the continued attention of Congress. The
capital employed in them is considerable, and the knowledge acquired 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 that the Capitol is not
yet in a state to receive you. There is good cause to presume that the two
wings, the only parts as yet commenced, will be prepared for that purpose
at the next session. The time seems now to have arrived when this subject
may be deemed worthy 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
offices 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 subjected 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 Departments 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 further provision 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 believed that among the survivors
there are some not provided for by existing laws, who are reduced to
indigence 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 imposts
and tonnage and from the sale of the 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 interest of 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

To impose taxes when the public exigencies require them is an obligation of
the most sacred character, especially with a free people. The faithful
fulfillment of it is among the highest proofs of their value and capacity
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 were 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 condition 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 then be requisite and proper.


State of the Union Address
James Monroe
November 16, 1818

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

The auspicious circumstances under which you will commence the duties of
the present session will lighten the burdens inseparable from the high
trust committed to you. The fruits of the earth have been unusually
abundant, commerce has flourished, the revenue has exceeded the most
favorable anticipation, and peace and amity are preserved with foreign
nations on conditions just and honorable to our country. For these
inestimable blessings we can not but be grateful to that Providence which
watches over the destiny of nations.

As the term limited for the operation of the commercial convention with
Great Britain will expire early in the month of July next, and it was
deemed important that there should be no interval during which that portion
of our commerce which was provided for by that convention should not be
regulated, either by arrangement between the two Governments or by the
authority of Congress, the minister of the United States at London was
instructed early in the last summer to invite the attention of the British
Government to the subject, with a view to that object. He was instructed to
propose also that the negotiation which it was wished to open might extend
to the general commerce of the two countries, and to every other interest
and unsettled difference between them in the hope that an arrangement might
be made on principles of reciprocal advantage which might comprehend and
provide in a satisfactory manner for all these high concerns.

I have the satisfaction to state that the proposal was received by the
British Government in the spirit which prompted it, and that a negotiation
has been opened at London embracing all these objects. On full
consideration of the great extent and magnitude of the trust it was thought
proper to commit it to not less than two of our distinguished citizens, and
in consequence the envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of the
United States at Paris has been associated with our envoy extraordinary and
minister plenipotentiary at London, to both of whom corresponding
instructions have been given, and they are now engaged in the discharge of
its duties. It is proper to add that to prevent any inconvenience resulting
from the delay incident to a negotiation on so many important subjects it
was agreed before entering on it that the existing convention should be
continued for a term not less than eight years.

Our relations with Spain remain nearly in the state in which they were at
the close of the last session. The convention of 1802, providing for the
adjustment of a certain portion of the claims of our citizens for injuries
sustained by spoliation, and so long suspended by the Spanish Government,
has at length been ratified by it, but no arrangement has yet been made for
the payment of another portion of like claims, not less extensive or well
founded, or for other classes of claims, or for the settlement of
boundaries. These subjects have again been brought under consideration in
both countries, but no agreement has been entered into respecting them.

In the mean time events have occurred which clearly prove the ill effect of
the policy which that Government has so long pursued on the friendly
relations of the two countries, which it is presumed is at least of as much
importance to Spain as to the United States to maintain. A state of things
has existed in the Floridas the tendency of which has been obvious to all
who have paid the slightest attention to the progress of affairs in that
quarter. Throughout the whole of those Provinces to which the Spanish title
extends the Government of Spain has scarcely been felt. Its authority has
been confined almost exclusively to the walls of Pensacola and St.
Augustine, within which only small garrisons have been maintained.
Adventurers from every country, fugitives from justice, and absconding
slaves have found an asylum there. Several tribes of Indians, strong in the
number of their warriors, remarkable for their ferocity, and whose
settlements extend to our limits, inhabit those Provinces.

These different hordes of people, connected together, disregarding on the
one side the authority of Spain, and protected on the other by an imaginary
line which separates Florida from the United States, have violated our laws
prohibiting the introduction of slaves, have practiced various frauds on
our revenue, and committed every kind of outrage on our peaceable citizens
which their proximity to us enabled them to perpetrate.

The invasion of Amelia Island last year by a small band of adventurers, not
exceeding one hundred and fifty in number, who wrested it from the
inconsiderable Spanish force stationed there, and held it several months,
during which a single feeble effort only was made to recover it, which
failed, clearly proves how completely extinct the Spanish authority had
become, as the conduct of those adventurers while in possession of the
island as distinctly shows the pernicious purposes for which their
combination had been formed.

This country had, in fact, become the theater of every species of lawless
adventure. With little population of its own, the Spanish authority almost
extinct, and the colonial governments in a state of revolution, having no
pretension to it, and sufficiently employed in their own concerns, it was
in great measure derelict, and the object of cupidity to every adventurer.
A system of buccaneering was rapidly organizing over it which menaced in
its consequences the lawful commerce of every nation, and particularly the
United States, while it presented a temptation to every people, on whose
seduction its success principally depended.

In regard to the United States, the pernicious effect of this unlawful
combination was not confined to the ocean; the Indian tribes have
constituted the effective force in Florida. With these tribes these
adventurers had formed at an early period a connection with a view to avail
themselves of that force to promote their own projects of accumulation and
aggrandizement. It is to the interference of some of these adventurers, in
misrepresenting the claims and titles of the Indians to land and in
practicing on their savage propensities, that the Seminole war is
principally to be traced. Men who thus connect themselves with savage
communities and stimulate them to war, which is always attended on their
part with acts of barbarity the most shocking, deserve to be viewed in a
worse light than the savages. They would certainly have no claim to an
immunity from the punishment which, according to the rules of warfare
practiced by the savages, might justly be inflicted on the savages

If the embarrassments of Spain prevented her from making an indemnity to
our citizens for so long a time from her treasury for their losses by
spoliation and otherwise, it was always in her power to have provided it by
the cession of this territory. Of this her Government has been repeatedly
apprised, and the cession was the more to have been anticipated as Spain
must have known that in ceding it she would likewise relieve herself from
the important obligation secured by the treaty of 1795 and all other
compromitments respecting it. If the United States, from consideration of
these embarrassments, declined pressing their claims in a spirit of
hostility, the motive ought at least to have been duly appreciated by the
Government of Spain. It is well known to her Government that other powers
have made to the United States an indemnity for like losses sustained by
their citizens at the same epoch.

There is nevertheless a limit beyond which this spirit of amity and
forbearance can in no instance be justified. If it was proper to rely on
amicable negotiation for an indemnity for losses, it would not have been so
to have permitted the inability of Spain to fulfill her engagements and to
sustain her authority in the Floridas to be perverted by foreign
adventurers and savages to purposes so destructive to the lives of our
fellow citizens and the highest interests of the United States.

The right of self defense never ceases. It is among the most sacred, and
alike necessary to nations and to individuals, and whether the attack be
made by Spain herself or by those who abuse her power, its obligation is
not the less strong.

The invaders of Amelia Island had assumed a popular and respected title
under which they might approach and wound us. As their object was
distinctly seen, and the duty imposed on the Executive by an existing law
was profoundly felt, that mask was not permitted to protect them. It was
thought incumbent on the United States to suppress the establishment, and
it was accordingly done. The combination in Florida for the unlawful
purposes stated, the acts perpetrated by that combination, and, above all,
the incitement of the Indians to massacre our fellow citizens of every age
and of both sexes, merited a like treatment and received it.

In pursuing these savages to an imaginary line in the woods it would have
been the height of folly to have suffered that line to protect them. Had
that been done the war could never cease. Even if the territory had been
exclusively that of Spain and her power complete over it, we had a right by
the law of nations to follow the enemy on it and to subdue him there. But
the territory belonged, in a certain sense at least, to the savage enemy
who inhabited it; the power of Spain had ceased to exist over it, and
protection was sought under her title by those who had committed on our
citizens hostilities which she was bound by treaty to have prevented, but
had not the power to prevent. To have stopped at that line would have given
new encouragement to these savages and new vigor to the whole combination
existing there in the prosecution of all its pernicious purposes.

In suppressing the establishment at Amelia Island no unfriendliness was
manifested toward Spain, because the post was taken from a force which had
wrested it from her. The measure, it is true, was not adopted in concert
with the Spanish Government or those in authority under it, because in
transactions connected with the war in which Spain and the colonies are
engaged it was thought proper in doing justice to the United States to
maintain a strict impartiality toward both the belligerent parties without
consulting or acting in concert with either. It gives me pleasure to state
that the Governments of Buenos Ayres and Venezuela, whose names were
assumed, have explicitly disclaimed all participation in those measures,
and even the knowledge of them until communicated by this Government, and
have also expressed their satisfaction that a course of proceedings had
been suppressed which if justly imputable to them would dishonor their

In authorizing Major-General Jackson to enter Florida in pursuit of the
Seminoles care was taken not to encroach on the rights of Spain. I regret
to have to add that in executing this order facts were disclosed respecting
the conduct of the officers of Spain in authority there in encouraging the
war, furnishing munitions of war and other supplies to carry it on, and in
other acts not less marked which evinced their participation in the hostile
purposes of that combination and justified the confidence with which it
inspired the savages that by those officers they would be protected.

A conduct so incompatible with the friendly relations existing between the
two countries, particularly with the positive obligations of the 5th
article of the treaty of 1795, by which Spain was bound to restrain, even
by force, those savages from acts of hostility against the United States,
could not fail to excite surprise. The commanding general was convinced
that he should fail in his object, that he should in effect accomplish
nothing, if he did not deprive those savages of the resource on which they
had calculated and of the protection on which they had relied in making the
war. As all the documents relating to this occurrence will be laid before
Congress, it is not necessary to enter into further detail respecting it.

Although the reasons which induced Major-General Jackson to take these
posts were duly appreciated, there was nevertheless no hesitation in
deciding on the course which it became the Government to pursue. As there
was reason to believe that the commanders of these posts had violated their
instructions, there was no disposition to impute to their Government a
conduct so unprovoked and hostile. An order was in consequence issued to
the general in command there to deliver the posts--Pensacola
unconditionally to any person duly authorized to receive it, and St. Marks,
which is in the heart of the Indian country, on the arrival of a competent
force to defend it against those savages and their associates.

In entering Florida to suppress this combination no idea was entertained of
hostility to Spain, and however justifiable the commanding general was, in
consequence of the misconduct of the Spanish officers, in entering St.
Marks and Pensacola to terminate it by proving to the savages and their
associates that they should not be protected even there, yet the amicable
relations existing between the United States and Spain could not be altered
by that act alone. By ordering the restitution of the posts those relations
were preserved. To a change of them the power of the Executive is deemed
incompetent; it is vested in Congress only.

By this measure, so promptly taken, due respect was shown to the Government
of Spain. The misconduct of her officers has not been imputed to her. She
was enabled to review with candor her relations with the United States and
her own situation, particularly in respect to the territory in question,
with the dangers inseparable from it, and regarding the losses we have
sustained for which indemnity has been so long withheld, and the injuries
we have suffered through that territory, and her means of redress, she was
likewise enabled to take with honor the course best calculated to do
justice to the United States and to promote her own welfare.

Copies of the instructions to the commanding general, of his correspondence
with the Secretary of War, explaining his motives and justifying his
conduct, with a copy of the proceedings of the courts-martial in the trial
of Arbuthnot and Ambristie, and of the correspondence between the Secretary
of State and the minister plenipotentiary of Spain near this Government,
and of the minister plenipotentiary of the United States at Madrid with the
Government of Spain, will be laid before Congress.

The civil war which has so long prevailed between Spain and the Provinces
in South America still continues, without any prospect of its speedy
termination. The information respecting the condition of those countries
which has been collected by the commissioners recently returned from thence
will be laid before Congress in copies of their reports, with such other
information as has been received from other agents of the United States.

It appears from these communications that the Government at Buenos Ayres
declared itself independent in July, 1816, having previously exercised the
power of an independent Government, though in the name of the King of
Spain, from the year 1810; that the Banda Oriental, Entre Rios, and
Paraguay, with the city of Santa Fee, all of which are also independent,
are unconnected with the present Government of Buenos Ayres; that Chili has
declared itself independent and is closely connected with Buenos Ayres;
that Venezuela has also declared itself independent, and now maintains the
conflict with various success; and that the remaining parts of South
America, except Monte Video and such other portions of the eastern bank of
the La Plata as are held by Portugal, are still in the possession of Spain
or in a certain degree under her influence.

By a circular note addressed by the ministers of Spain to the allied
powers, with whom they are respectively accredited, it appears that the
allies have undertaken to mediate between Spain and the South American
Provinces, and that the manner and extent of their interposition would be
settled by a congress which was to have met at Aix-la-Chapelle in September
last. From the general policy and course of proceeding observed by the
allied powers in regard to this contest it is inferred that they will
confine their interposition to the expression of their sentiments,
abstaining from the application of force. I state this impression that
force will not be applied with the greater satisfaction because it is a
course more consistent with justice and likewise authorizes a hope that the
calamities of the war will be confined to the parties only, and will be of
shorter duration.

From the view taken of this subject, founded on all the information that we
have been able to obtain, there is good cause to be satisfied with the
course heretofore pursued by the United States in regard to this contest,
and to conclude that it is proper to adhere to it, especially in the
present state of affairs.

I have great satisfaction in stating that our relations with France,
Russia, and other powers continue on the most friendly basis.

In our domestic concerns we have ample cause of satisfaction. The receipts
into the Treasury during the three first quarters of the year have exceeded
$17 millions.

After satisfying all the demands which have been made under existing
appropriations, including the final extinction of the old 6% stock and the
redemption of a moiety of the Louisiana debt, it is estimated that there
will remain in the Treasury on the 1st day of January next more than $2

It is ascertained that the gross revenue which has accrued from the customs
during the same period amounts to $21 millions, and that the revenue of
the whole year may be estimated at not less than $26 millions. The sale
of the public lands during the year has also greatly exceeded, both in
quantity and price, that of any former year, and there is just reason to
expect a progressive improvement in that source of revenue.

It is gratifying to know that although the annual expenditure has been
increased by the act of the last session of Congress providing for
Revolutionary pensions to an amount about equal to the proceeds of the
internal duties which were then repealed, the revenue for the ensuing year
will be proportionally augmented, and that whilst the public expenditure
will probably remain stationary, each successive year will add to the
national resources by the ordinary increase of our population and by the
gradual development of our latent sources of national prosperity.

The strict execution of the revenue laws, resulting principally from the
salutary provisions of the act of the 20th of April last amending the
several collection laws, has, it is presumed, secured to domestic
manufactures all the relief that can be derived from the duties which have
been imposed upon foreign merchandise for their protection. Under the
influence of this relief several branches of this important national
interest have assumed greater activity, and although it is hoped that
others will gradually revive and ultimately triumph over every obstacle,
yet the expediency of granting further protection is submitted to your

The measures of defense authorized by existing laws have been pursued with
the zeal and activity due to so important an object, and with all the
dispatch practicable in so extensive and great an undertaking. The survey
of our maritime and inland frontiers has been continued, and at the points
where it was decided to erect fortifications the work has been commenced,
and in some instances considerable progress has been made. In compliance
with resolutions of the last session, the Board of Commissioners were
directed to examine in a particular manner the parts of the coast therein
designated and to report their opinion of the most suitable sites for two
naval depots. This work is in a train of execution. The opinion of the
Board on this subject, with a plan of all the works necessary to a general
system of defense so far as it has been formed, will be laid before
Congress in a report from the proper department as soon as it can be

In conformity with the appropriations of the last session, treaties have
been formed with the Quapaw tribe of Indians, inhabiting the country on the
Arkansaw, and the Great and Little Osages north of the White River; with
the tribes in the State of Indiana; with the several tribes within the
State of Ohio and the Michigan Territory, and with the Chickasaws, by which
very extensive cessions of territory have been made to the United States.
Negotiations are now depending with the tribes in the Illinois Territory
and with the Choctaws, by which it is expected that other extensive
cessions will be made. I take great interest in stating that the cessions
already made, which are considered so important to the United States, have
been obtained on conditions very satisfactory to the Indians.

With a view to the security of our inland frontiers, it has been thought
expedient to establish strong posts at the mouth of Yellow Stone River and
at the Mandan village on the Missouri, and at the mouth of St. Peters on
the Mississippi, at no great distance from our northern boundaries. It can
hardly be presumed while such posts are maintained in the rear of the
Indian tribes that they will venture to attack our peaceable inhabitants. A
strong hope is entertained that this measure will likewise be productive of
much good to the tribes themselves, especially in promoting the great
object of their civilization.

Experience has clearly demonstrated that independent savage communities can
not long exist within the limits of a civilized population. The progress of
the latter has almost invariably terminated in the extinction of the
former, especially of the tribes belonging to our portion of this
hemisphere, among whom loftiness of sentiment and gallantry in action have
been conspicuous. To civilize them, and even to prevent their extinction,
it seems to be indispensable that their independence as communities should
cease, and that the control of the United States over them should be
complete and undisputed. The hunter state will then be more easily
abandoned, and recourse will be had to the acquisition and culture of land
and to other pursuits tending to dissolve the ties which connect them
together as a savage community and to give a new character to every
individual. I present this subject to the consideration of Congress on the
presumption that it may be found expedient and practicable to adopt some
benevolent provisions, having these objects in view, relative to the tribes
within our settlements.

It has been necessary during the present year to maintain a strong naval
force in the Mediterranean and in the Gulf of Mexico, and to send some
public ships along the southern coast and to the Pacific Ocean. By these
means amicable relations with the Barbary Powers have been preserved, our
commerce has been protected, and our rights respected. The augmentation of
our Navy is advancing with a steady progress toward the limit contemplated
by law.

I communicate with great satisfaction the accession of another State
(Illinois) to our Union, because I perceive from the proof afforded by the
additions already made the regular progress and sure consummation of a
policy of which history affords no example, and of which the good effect
can not be too highly estimated. By extending our Government on the
principles of our Constitution over the vast territory within our limits,
on the Lakes and the Mississippi and its numerous streams, new life and
vigor are infused into every part of our system. By increasing the number
of the States the confidence of the State governments in their own security
is increased and their jealousy of the National Government proportionally

The impracticability of one consolidated Government for this great and
growing nation will be more apparent and will be universally admitted.
Incapable of exercising local authority except for general purposes, the
General Government will no longer be dreaded. In those cases of a local
nature and for all the great purposes for which it was instituted its
authority will be cherished. Each Government will acquire new force and a
greater freedom of action within its proper sphere.

Other inestimable advantages will follow. Our produce will be augmented to
an incalculable amount in articles of the greatest value for domestic use
and foreign commerce. Our navigation will in like degree be increased, and
as the shipping of the Atlantic States will be employed in the
transportation of the vast produce of the Western country, even those parts
of the United States which are most remote from each other will be further
bound together by the strongest ties which mutual interest can create.

The situation of this District, it is thought, requires the attention of
Congress. By the Constitution the power of legislation is exclusively
vested in the Congress of the United States. In the exercise of this power,
in which the people have no participation, Congress legislate in all cases
directly on the local concerns of the District. As this is a departure, for
a special purpose, from the general principles of our system, it may merit
consideration whether an arrangement better adapted to the principles of
our Government and to the particular interests of the people may not be
devised which will neither infringe the Constitution nor affect the object
which the provision in question was intended to secure. The growing
population, already considerable, and the increasing business of the
District, which it is believed already interferes with the deliberations of
Congress on great national concerns, furnish additional motives for
recommending this subject to your consideration.

When we view the great blessings with which our country has been favored,
those which we now enjoy, and the means which we possess of handing them
down unimpaired to our latest posterity, our attention is irresistibly
drawn to the source from whence they flow. Let us, then, unite in offering
our most grateful acknowledgments for these blessings to the Divine Author
of All Good.


State of the Union Address
James Monroe
December 7, 1819

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

The public buildings being advanced to a stage to afford accommodation for
Congress, I offer you my sincere congratulations on the recommencement of
your duties in the Capitol.

In bringing you to view the incidents most deserving attention which have
occurred since your last session, I regret to have to state that several of
our principal cities have suffered by sickness, that an unusual drought has
prevailed in the Middle and Western States, and that a derangement has been
felt in some of our moneyed institutions which has proportionably affected
their credit. I am happy, however, to have it in my power to assure you
that the health of our cities is now completely restored; that the produce
of the year, though less abundant than usual, will not only be amply
sufficient for home consumption, but afford a large surplus for the supply
of the wants of other nations, and that the derangement in the circulating
paper medium, by being left to those remedies which its obvious causes
suggested and the good sense and virtue of our fellow citizens supplied,
has diminished.

Having informed Congress, on the 27th of February last, that a treaty of
amity, settlement, and limits had been concluded in this city between the
United States and Spain, and ratified by the competent authorities of the
former, full confidence was entertained that it would have been ratified by
His Catholic Majesty with equal promptitude and a like earnest desire to
terminate on the conditions of that treaty the differences which had so
long existed between the two countries. Every view which the subject
admitted of was thought to have justified this conclusion.

Great losses had been sustained by citizens of the United States from
Spanish cruisers more than 20 years before, which had not been redressed.
These losses had been acknowledged and provided for by a treaty as far back
as the year 1802, which, although concluded at Madrid, was not then
ratified by the Government of Spain, nor since, until the last year, when
it was suspended by the late treaty, a more satisfactory provision to both
parties, as was presumed, having been made for them. Other differences had
arisen in this long interval, affecting their highest interests, which were
likewise provided for by this last treaty.

The treaty itself was formed on great consideration and a thorough
knowledge of all circumstances, the subject matter of every article having
been for years under discussion and repeated references having been made by
the minister of Spain to his Government on the points respecting which the
greatest difference of opinion prevailed. It was formed by a minister duly
authorized for the purpose, who had represented his Government in the
United States and been employed in this long-protracted negotiation
several years, and who, it is not denied, kept strictly within the letter
of his instructions. The faith of Spain was therefore pledged, under
circumstances of peculiar force and solemnity, for its ratification.

On the part of the United States this treaty was evidently acceded to in a
spirit of conciliation and concession. The indemnity for injuries and
losses so long before sustained, and now again acknowledged and provided
for, was to be paid by them without becoming a charge on the treasury of
Spain. For territory ceded by Spain other territory of great value, to
which our claim was believed to be well founded, was ceded by the United
States, and in a quarter more interesting to her. This cession was
nevertheless received as the means of indemnifying our citizens in a
considerable sum, the presumed amount of their losses.

Other considerations of great weight urged the cession of this territory by
Spain. It was surrounded by the Territories of the United States on every
side except on that of the ocean. Spain had lost her authority over it,
and, falling into the hands of adventurers connected with the savages, it
was made the means of unceasing annoyance and injury to our Union in many
of its most essential interests. By this cession, then, Spain ceded a
territory in reality of no value to her and obtained concessions of the
highest importance by the settlement of long-standing differences with the
United States affecting their respective claims and limits, and likewise
relieved herself from the obligation of a treaty relating to it which she
had failed to fulfill, and also from the responsibility incident to the
most flagrant and pernicious abuses of her rights where she could not
support her authority.

It being known that the treaty was formed under these circumstances, not a
doubt was entertained that His Catholic Majesty would have ratified it
without delay. I regret to have to state that this reasonable expectation
has been disappointed; that the treaty was not ratified within the time
stipulated and has not since been ratified. As it is important that the
nature and character of this unexpected occurrence should be distinctly
understood, I think it my duty to communicate to you all the facts and
circumstances in my possession relating to it.

Anxious to prevent all future disagreement with Spain by giving the most
prompt effect to the treaty which had been thus concluded, and particularly
by the establishment of a Government in Florida which should preserve order
there, the minister of the United States who had been recently appointed to
His Catholic Majesty, and to whom the ratification by his Government had
been committed to be exchanged for that of Spain, was instructed to
transmit the latter to the Department of State as soon as obtained, by a
public ship subjected to his order for the purpose.

Unexpected delay occurring in the ratification by Spain, he requested to be
informed of the cause. It was stated in reply that the great importance of
the subject, and a desire to obtain explanations on certain points which
were not specified, had produced the delay, and that an envoy would be
dispatched to the United States to obtain such explanations of this
Government. The minister of the United States offered to give full
explanation on any point on which it might be desired, which proposal was
declined. Having communicated this result to the Department of State in
August last, he was instructed, notwithstanding the disappointment and
surprise which it produced, to inform the Government of Spain that if the
treaty should be ratified and transmitted here at any time before the
meeting of Congress it would be received and have the same effect as if it
had been ratified in due time.

This order was executed, the authorized communication was made to the
Government of Spain, and by its answer, which has just been received, we
are officially made acquainted for the first time with the causes which
have prevented the ratification of the treaty by His Catholic Majesty. It
is alleged by the minister of Spain that his Government had attempted to
alter one of the principal articles of the treaty by a declaration which
the minister of the United States had been ordered to present when he
should deliver the ratification by his Government in exchange for that of
Spain, and of which he gave notice, explanatory of the sense in which that
article was understood. It is further alleged that this Government had
recently tolerated or protected an expedition from the United States
against the Province of Texas. These two imputed acts are stated as the
reasons which have induced His Catholic Majesty to withhold his
ratification from the treaty, to obtain explanations respecting which it is
repeated that an envoy would be forthwith dispatched to the United States.
How far these allegations will justify the conduct of the Government of
Spain will appear on a view of the following facts and the evidence which
supports them:

It will be seen by the documents transmitted herewith that the declaration
mentioned relates to a clause in the 8th article concerning certain grants
of land recently made by His Catholic Majesty in Florida, which it was
understood had conveyed all the lands which until then had been ungranted;
it was the intention of the parties to annul these latter grants, and that
clause was drawn for that express purpose and for none other. The date of
these grants was unknown, but it was understood to be posterior to that
inserted in the article; indeed, it must be obvious to all that if that
provision in the treaty had not the effect of annulling these grants, it
would be altogether nugatory. Immediately after the treaty was concluded
and ratified by this Government an intimation was received that these
grants were of anterior date to that fixed on by the treaty and that they
would not, of course, be affected by it. The mere possibility of such a
case, so inconsistent with the intention of the parties and the meaning of
the article, induced this Government to demand an explanation on the
subject, which was immediately granted, and which corresponds with this

With regard to the other act alleged, that this Government had tolerated
or protected an expedition against Texas, it is utterly without
foundation. Every discountenance has invariably been given to any such
attempt within the limits of the United States, as is fully evinced by the
acts of the Government and the proceedings of the courts. There being
cause, however, to apprehend, in the course of the last summer, that some
adventurers entertained views of the kind suggested, the attention of the
constituted authorities in that quarter was immediately drawn to them,
and it is known that the project, whatever it might be, has utterly

These facts will, it is presumed, satisfy every impartial mind that the
Government of Spain had no justifiable cause for declining to ratify the
treaty. A treaty concluded in conformity with instructions is obligatory,
in good faith, in all its stipulations, according to the true intent and
meaning of the parties. Each party is bound to ratify it. If either could
set it aside without the consent of the other, there would be no longer any
rules applicable to such transactions between nations.

By this proceeding the Government of Spain has rendered to the United
States a new and very serious injury. It has been stated that a minister
would be sent to ask certain explanations of this Government; but if such
were desired, why were they not asked within the time limited for the

Is it contemplated to open a new negotiation respecting any of the articles
or conditions of the treaty? If that were done, to what consequences might
it not lead? At what time and in what manner would a new negotiation
terminate? By this proceeding Spain has formed a relation between the two
countries which will justify any measures on the part of the United States
which a strong sense of injury and a proper regard for the rights and
interests of the nation may dictate.

In the course to be pursued these objects should be constantly held in view
and have their due weight. Our national honor must be maintained, and a new
and a distinguished proof be afforded of that regard for justice and
moderation which has invariably governed the councils of this free people.
It must be obvious to all that if the United States had been desirous of
making conquests, or had been even willing to aggrandize themselves in that
way, they could have had no inducement to form this treaty. They would have
much cause for gratulation at the course which has been pursued by Spain.
An ample field for ambition is open before them, but such a career is not
consistent with the principles of their Government nor the interests of the

From a full view of all circumstances, it is submitted to the consideration
of Congress whether it will not be proper for the United States to carry
the conditions of the treaty into effect in the same manner as if it had
been ratified by Spain, claiming on their part all its advantages and
yielding to Spain those secured to her. By pursuing this course we shall
rest on the sacred ground of right, sanctioned in the most solemn manner by
Spain herself by a treaty which she was bound to ratify, for refusing to do
which she must incur the censure of other nations, even those most friendly
to her, while by confining ourselves within that limit we can not fail to
obtain their well-merited approbation.

We must have peace on a frontier where we have been so long disturbed; our
citizens must be indemnified for losses so long since sustained, and for
which indemnity has been so unjustly withheld from them. Accomplishing
these great objects, we obtain all that is desirable.

But His Catholic Majesty has twice declared his determination to send a
minister to the United States to ask explanations on certain points and to
give them respecting his delay to ratify the treaty. Shall we act by taking
the ceded territory and proceeding to execute the other conditions of the
treaty before this minister arrives and is heard?

This is a case which forms a strong appeal to the candor, the magnanimity,
and the honor of this people. Much is due to courtesy between nations. By a
short delay we shall lose nothing, for, resting on the ground of immutable
truth and justice, we can not be diverted from our purpose.

It ought to be presumed that the explanations which may be given to the
minister of Spain will be satisfactory, and produce the desired result. In
any event, the delay for the purpose mentioned, being a further
manifestation of the sincere desire to terminate in the most friendly
manner all differences with Spain, can not fail to be duly appreciated by
His Catholic Majesty as well as by other powers. It is submitted,
therefore, whether it will not be proper to make the law proposed for
carrying the conditions of the treaty into effect, should it be adopted,
contingent; to suspend its operation, upon the responsibility of the
Executive, in such manner as to afford an opportunity for such friendly
explanations as may be desired during the present session of Congress.

I communicate to Congress a copy of the treaty and of the instructions to
the minister of the United States at Madrid respecting it; of his
correspondence with the minister of Spain, and of such other documents as
may be necessary to give a full view of the subject.

In the course which the Spanish Government have on this occasion thought
proper to pursue it is satisfactory to know that they have not been
countenanced by any other European power. On the contrary, the opinion and
wishes both of France and Great Britain have not been withheld either from
the United States or from Spain, and have been unequivocal in favor of the
ratification. There is also reason to believe that the sentiments of the
Imperial Government of Russia have been the same, and that they have also
been made known to the cabinet of Madrid.

In the civil war existing between Spain and the Spanish Provinces in this
hemisphere the greatest care has been taken to enforce the laws intended to
preserve an impartial neutrality. Our ports have continued to be equally
open to both parties and on the same conditions, and our citizens have been
equally restrained from interfering in favor of either to the prejudice of
the other. The progress of the war, however has operated manifestly in
favor of the colonies. Buenos Ayres still maintains unshaken the
independence which it declared in 1816, and has enjoyed since 1810. Like
success has also lately attended Chili and the Provinces north of the La
Plata bordering on it, and likewise Venezuela.

This contest has from its commencement been very interesting to other
powers, and to none more so than to the United States. A virtuous people
may and will confine themselves within the limit of a strict neutrality;
but it is not in their power to behold a conflict so vitally important to
their neighbors without the sensibility and sympathy which naturally belong
to such a case. It has been the steady purpose of this Government to
prevent that feeling leading to excess, and it is very gratifying to have
it in my power to state that so strong has been the sense throughout the
whole community of what was due to the character and obligations of the
nation that very few examples of a contrary kind have occurred.

The distance of the colonies from the parent country and the great extent
of their population and resources gave them advantages which it was
anticipated at a very early period would be difficult for Spain to
surmount. The steadiness, consistency, and success with which they have
pursued their object, as evinced more particularly by the undisturbed
sovereignty which Buenos Ayres has so long enjoyed, evidently give them a
strong claim to the favorable consideration of other nations. These
sentiments on the part of the United States have not been withheld from
other powers, with whom it is desirable to act in concert. Should it become
manifest to the world that the efforts of Spain to subdue these Provinces
will be fruitless, it may be presumed that the Spanish Government itself
will give up the contest. In producing such a determination it can not be
doubted that the opinion of friendly powers who have taken no part in the
controversy will have their merited influence.

It is of the highest importance to our national character and indispensable
to the morality of our citizens that all violations of our neutrality
should be prevented. No door should be left open for the evasion of our
laws, no opportunity afforded to any who may be disposed to take advantage
of it to compromit the interest or the honor of the nation. It is
submitted, therefore, to the consideration of Congress whether it may not
be advisable to revise the laws with a view to this desirable result.

It is submitted also whether it may not be proper to designate by law the
several ports or places along the coast at which only foreign ships of war
and privateers may be admitted. The difficulty of sustaining the
regulations of our commerce and of other important interests from abuse
without such designation furnishes a strong motive for this measure.

At the time of the negotiation for the renewal of the commercial convention
between the United States and Great Britain a hope had been entertained
that an article might have been agreed upon mutually satisfactory to both
countries, regulating upon principles of justice and reciprocity the
commercial intercourse between the United States and the British
possessions as well in the West Indies as upon the continent of North
America. The plenipotentiaries of the two Governments not having been able
to come to an agreement on this important interest, those of the United
States reserved for the consideration of this Government the proposals
which had been presented to them as the ultimate offer on the part of the
British Government, and which they were not authorized to accept. On their
transmission here they were examined with due deliberation, the result of
which was a new effort to meet the views of the British Government. The
minister of the United States was instructed to make a further proposal,
which has not been accepted. It was, however, declined in an amicable
manner. I recommend to the consideration of Congress whether further
prohibitory provisions in the laws relating to this intercourse may not be
expedient. It is seen with interest that although it has not been
practicable as yet to agree in any arrangement of this important branch of
their commerce, such is the disposition of the parties that each will view
any regulations which the other may make respecting it in the most friendly

By the 5th article of the convention concluded on October 20th, 1818, it
was stipulated that the differences which have arisen between the two
Governments with respect to the true intent and meaning of the 5th article
of the treaty of Ghent, in relation to the carrying away by British
officers of slaves from the United States after the exchange of the
ratifications of the treaty of peace, should be referred to the decision of
some friendly sovereign or state to be named for that purpose. The minister
of the United States has been instructed to name to the British Government
a foreign sovereign, the common friend to both parties, for the decision of
this question. The answer of that Government to the proposal when received
will indicate the further measures to be pursued on the part of the United

Although the pecuniary embarrassments which affected various parts of the
Union during the latter part of the preceding year have during the present
been considerably augmented, and still continue to exist, the receipts into
the Treasury to the 30th of September last have amounted to $19 millions.
After defraying the current expenses of the Government, including the
Interest and reimbursement of the public debt payable to that period,
amounting to $18.2 millions, there remained in the Treasury on that day
more than $2.5 millions, which, with the sums receivable during the
remainder of the year, will exceed the current demands upon the Treasury
for the same period.

The causes which have tended to diminish the public receipts could not fail
to have a corresponding effect upon the revenue which has accrued upon
imposts and tonnage during the three first quarters of the present year. It
is, however, ascertained that the duties which have been secured during
that period exceed $18 millions, and those of the whole year will probably
amount to $23 millions.

For the probable receipts of the next year I refer you to the statements
which will be transmitted from the Treasury, which will enable you to judge
whether further provision be necessary.

The great reduction in the price of the principal articles of domestic
growth which has occurred during the present year, and the consequent fall
in the price of labor, apparently so favorable to the success of domestic
manufactures, have not shielded them against other causes adverse to their
prosperity. The pecuniary embarrassments which have so deeply affected the
commercial interests of the nation have been no less adverse to our
manufacturing establishments in several sections of the Union.

The great reduction of the currency which the banks have been constrained
to make in order to continue specie payments, and the vitiated character of
it where such reductions have not been attempted, instead of placing within
the reach of these establishments the pecuniary aid necessary to avail
themselves of the advantages resulting from the reduction in the prices of
the raw materials and of labor, have compelled the banks to withdraw from
them a portion of the capital heretofore advanced to them. That aid which
has been refused by the banks has not been obtained from other sources,
owing to the loss of individual confidence from the frequent failures which
have recently occurred in some of our principal commercial cities.

An additional cause for the depression of these establishments may probably
be found in the pecuniary embarrassments which have recently affected those
countries with which our commerce has been principally prosecuted. Their
manufactures, for the want of a ready or profitable market at home, have
been shipped by the manufacturers to the United States, and in many
instances sold at a price below their current value at the place of
manufacture. Although this practice may from its nature be considered
temporary or contingent, it is not on that account less injurious in its
effects. Uniformity in the demand and price of an article is highly
desirable to the domestic manufacturer.

It is deemed of great importance to give encouragement to our domestic
manufacturers. In what manner the evils which have been adverted to may be
remedied, and how far it may be practicable in other respects to afford to
them further encouragement, paying due regard to the other great interests
of the nation, is submitted to the wisdom of Congress.

The survey of the coast for the establishment of fortifications is now
nearly completed, and considerable progress has been made in the collection
of materials for the construction of fortifications in the Gulf of Mexico
and in the Chesapeake Bay. The works on the eastern bank of the Potomac
below Alexandria and on the Pea Patch, in the Delaware, are much advanced,
and it is expected that the fortifications at the Narrows, in the harbor of
New York, will be completed the present year. To derive all the advantages
contemplated from these fortifications it was necessary that they should be
judiciously posted, and constructed with a view to permanence. The progress
hitherto has therefore been slow; but as the difficulties in parts
heretofore the least explored and known are surmounted, it will in future
be more rapid. As soon as the survey of the coast is completed, which it is
expected will be done early in the next spring, the engineers employed in
it will proceed to examine for like purposes the northern and northwestern

The troops intended to occupy a station at the mouth of the St. Peters, on
the Mississippi, have established themselves there, and those who were
ordered to the mouth of the Yellow Stone, on the Missouri, have ascended
that river to the Council Bluff, where they will remain until the next
spring, when they will proceed to the place of their destination. I have
the satisfaction to state that this measure has been executed in amity with
the Indian tribes, and that it promises to produce, in regard to them, all
the advantages which were contemplated by it.

Much progress has likewise been made in the construction of ships of war
and in the collection of timber and other materials for ship building. It
is not doubted that our Navy will soon be augmented to the number and
placed in all respects on the footing provided for by law.

The Board, consisting of engineers and naval officers, have not yet made
their final report of sites for two naval depots, as instructed according
to the resolutions of March 18th, 1818 and April 20th, 1818, but they
have examined the coast therein designated, and their report is expected
in the next month.

For the protection of our commerce in the Mediterranean, along the southern
Atlantic coast, in the Pacific and Indian oceans, it has been found
necessary to maintain a strong naval force, which it seems proper for the
present to continue. There is much reason to believe that if any portion of
the squadron heretofore stationed in the Mediterranean should be withdrawn
our intercourse with the powers bordering on that sea would be much
interrupted, if not altogether destroyed. Such, too, has been the growth of
a spirit of piracy in the other quarters mentioned, by adventurers from
every country, in abuse of the friendly flags which they have assumed, that
not to protect our commerce there would be to abandon it as a prey to
their rapacity.

Due attention has likewise been paid to the suppression of the slave trade,
in compliance with a law of the last session. Orders have been given to the
commanders of all our public ships to seize all vessels navigated under our
flag engaged in that trade, and to bring them in to be proceeded against in
the manner prescribed by the law. It is hoped that these vigorous measures,
supported by like acts by other nations, will soon terminate a commerce so
disgraceful to the civilized world.

In the execution of the duty imposed by these acts, and of a high trust
connected with it, it is with deep regret I have to state the loss which
has been sustained by the death of Commodore Perry. His gallantry in a
brilliant exploit in the late war added to the renown of his country. His
death is deplored as a national misfortune.


State of the Union Address
James Monroe
November 14, 1820

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

In communicating to you a just view of public affairs at the commencement
of your present labors, I do it with great satisfaction, because, taking
all circumstances into consideration which claim attention, I see much
cause to rejoice in the felicity of our situation. In making this remark I
do not wish to be understood to imply that an unvaried prosperity is to be
seen in every interest of this great community. In the progress of a nation
inhabiting a territory of such vast extent and great variety of climate,
every portion of which is engaged in foreign commerce and liable to be
affected in some degree by the changes which occur in the condition and
regulations of foreign countries, it would be strange if the produce of our
soil and the industry and enterprise of our fellow citizens received at all
times and in every quarter an uniform and equal encouragement. This would
be more than we would have a right to expect under circumstances the most

Pressures on certain interests, it is admitted, have been felt; but
allowing to these their greatest extent, they detract but little from the
force of the remarks already made. In forming a just estimate of our
present situation it is proper to look at the whole in the outline as well
as in the detail. A free, virtuous, and enlightened people know well the
great principles and causes on which their happiness depends, and even
those who suffer most occasionally in their transitory concerns find great
relief under their sufferings from the blessings which they otherwise enjoy
and in the consoling and animating hope which they administer.

From whence do these pressures come? Not from a Government which is founded
by, administered for, and supported by the people. We trace them to the
peculiar character of the epoch in which we live, and to the extraordinary
occurrences which have signalized it. The convulsions with which several of
the powers of Europe have been shaken and the long and destructive wars in
which all were engaged, with their sudden transition to a state of peace,
presenting in the first instance unusual encouragement to our commerce and
withdrawing it in the second even within its wonted limit, could not fail
to be sensibly felt here. The station, too, which we had to support through
this long conflict, compelled as we were finally to become a party to it
with a principal power, and to make great exertions, suffer heavy losses,
and to contract considerable debts, disturbing the ordinary course of
affairs by augmenting to a vast amount the circulating medium, and thereby
elevating at one time the price of every article above a just standard and
depressing it at another below it, had likewise its due effect.

It is manifest that the pressures of which we complain have proceeded in a
great measure from these causes. When, then, we take into view the
prosperous and happy condition of our country in all the great
circumstances which constitute the felicity of a nation--every individual
in the full enjoyment of all his rights, the Union blessed with plenty and
rapidly rising to greatness under a National Government which operates with
complete effect in every part without being felt in any except by the ample
protection which it affords, and under State governments which perform
their equal share, according to a wise distribution of power between them,
in promoting the public happiness--it is impossible to behold so
gratifying, so glorious a spectacle without being penetrated with the most
profound and grateful acknowledgments to the Supreme Author of All Good for
such manifold and inestimable blessings.

Deeply impressed with these sentiments, I can not regard the pressures to
which I have adverted otherwise than in the light of mild and instructive
admonitions, warning us of dangers to be shunned in future, teaching us
lessons of economy corresponding with the simplicity and purity of our
institutions and best adapted to their support, evincing the connection and
dependence which the various parts of our happy Union have on each other,
thereby augmenting daily our social incorporation and adding by its strong
ties new strength and vigor to the political; opening a wider range, and
with new encouragement, to the industry and enterprise of our fellow
citizens at home and abroad, and more especially by the multiplied proofs
which it has accumulated of the great perfection of our most excellent
system of Government, the powerful instrument in the hands of our
All-merciful Creator in securing to us these blessings.

Happy as our situation is, it does not exempt us from solicitude and care
for the future. On the contrary, as the blessings which we enjoy are great,
proportionably great should be our vigilance, zeal, and activity to
preserve them. Foreign wars may again expose us to new wrongs, which would
impose on us new duties for which we ought to be prepared. The state of
Europe is unsettled, and how long peace may be preserved is altogether
uncertain; in addition to which we have interests of our own to adjust
which will require particular attention. A correct view of our relations
with each power will enable you to form a just idea of existing
difficulties, and of the measures of precaution best adapted to them.

Respecting our relations with Spain nothing explicit can now be
communicated. On the adjournment of Congress in May last the minister
plenipotentiary of the United States at Madrid was instructed to inform the
Government of Spain that if His Catholic Majesty should then ratify the
treaty this Government would accept the ratification so far as to submit to
the decision of the Senate the question whether such ratification should be
received in exchange for that of the United States heretofore given.

By letters from the minister of the United States to the Secretary of State
it appears that a communication in conformity with his instructions had
been made to the Government of Spain, and that the Cortes had the subject
under consideration. The result of the deliberations of that body, which is
daily expected, will be made known to Congress as soon as it is received.
The friendly sentiment which was expressed on the part of the United States
in the message of the 9th of May last is still entertained for Spain.

Among the causes of regret, however, which are inseparable from the delay
attending this transaction it is proper to state that satisfactory
information has been received that measures have been recently adopted by
designing persons to convert certain parts of the Province of East Florida
into depots for the reception of foreign goods, from whence to smuggle them
into the United States. By opening a port within the limits of Florida,
immediately on our boundary where there was no settlement, the object could
not be misunderstood. An early accommodation of differences will, it is
hoped, prevent all such fraudulent and pernicious practices, and place the
relations of the two countries on a very amicable and permanent basis.

The commercial relations between the United States and the British colonies
in the West Indies and on this continent have undergone no change, the
British Government still preferring to leave that commerce under the
restriction heretofore imposed on it on each side. It is satisfactory to
recollect that the restraints resorted to by the United States were
defensive only, intended to prevent a monopoly under British regulations in
favor of Great Britain, as it likewise is to know that the experiment is
advancing in a spirit of amity between the parties.

The question depending between the United States and Great Britain
respecting the construction of the first article of the treaty of Ghent has
been referred by both Governments to the decision of the Emperor of Russia,
who has accepted the umpirage.

An attempt has been made with the Government of France to regulate by
treaty the commerce between the two countries on the principle of
reciprocity and equality. By the last communication from the minister
plenipotentiary of the United States at Paris, to whom full power had been
given, we learn that the negotiation has been commenced there; but serious
difficulties having occurred, the French Government had resolved to
transfer it to the United States, for which purpose the minister
plenipotentiary of France had been ordered to repair to this city, and
whose arrival might soon be expected. It is hoped that this important
interest may be arranged on just conditions and in a manner equally
satisfactory to both parties. It is submitted to Congress to decide, until
such arrangement is made, how far it may be proper, on the principle of the
act of the last session which augmented the tonnage duty on French vessels,
to adopt other measures for carrying more completely into effect the policy
of that act.

The act referred to, which imposed new tonnage on French vessels, having
been in force from and after the first day of July, it has happened that
several vessels of that nation which had been dispatched from France before
its existence was known have entered the ports of the United States, and
been subject to its operation, without that previous notice which the
general spirit of our laws gives to individuals in similar cases. The
object of that law having been merely to countervail the inequalities which
existed to the disadvantage of the United States in their commercial
intercourse with France, it is submitted also to the consideration of
Congress whether, in the spirit of amity and conciliation which it is no
less the inclination than the policy of the United States to preserve in
their intercourse with other powers, it may not be proper to extend relief
to the individuals interested in those cases by exempting from the
operation of the law all those vessels which have entered our ports without
having had the means of previously knowing the existence of the additional

The contest between Spain and the colonies, according to the most authentic
information, is maintained by the latter with improved success. The
unfortunate divisions which were known to exist some time since at Buenos
Ayres it is understood still prevail. In no part of South America has Spain
made any impression on the colonies, while in many parts, and particularly
in Venezuela and New Grenada, the colonies have gained strength and
acquired reputation, both for the management of the war in which they have
been successful and for the order of the internal administration.

The late change in the Government of Spain, by the reestablishment of the
constitution of 1812, is an event which promises to be favorable to the
revolution. Under the authority of the Cortes the Congress of Angostura was
invited to open a negotiation for the settlement of differences between the
parties, to which it was replied that they would willingly open the
negotiation provided the acknowledgment of their independence was made its
basis, but not otherwise.

No facts are known to this Government to warrant the belief that any of the
powers of Europe will take part in the contest, whence it may be inferred,
considering all circumstances which must have weight in producing the
result, that an adjustment will finally take place on the basis proposed by
the colonies. To promote that result by friendly counsels with other
powers, including Spain herself, has been the uniform policy of this

In looking to the internal concerns of our country you will, I am
persuaded, derive much satisfaction from a view of the several objects to
which, in the discharge of your official duties, your attention will be
drawn. Among these none holds a more important place than the public
revenue, from the direct operation of the power by which it is raised on
the people, and by its influence in giving effect to every other power of
the Government. The revenue depends on the resources of the country, and
the facility by which the amount required is raised is a strong proof of
the extent of the resources and of the efficiency of the Government.

A few prominent facts will place this great interest in a just light before
you. On September 30th, 1815, the funded and floating debt of the United
States was estimated at $119,635,558. If to this sum be added the amount
of 5% stock subscribed to the Bank of the United States, the amount of
Mississippi stock and of the stock which was issued subsequently to that
date, and as afterwards liquidated, to $158,713,049.

On September 30th, 1820, it amounted to $91,993,883, having been reduced
in that interval by payments $66,879,165. During this term the expenses
of the Government of the United States were likewise defrayed in every
branch of the civil, military, and naval establishments; the public
edifices in this city have been rebuilt with considerable additions;
extensive fortifications have been commenced, and are in a train of
execution; permanent arsenals and magazines have been erected in various
parts of the Union; our Navy has been considerably augmented, and the
ordnance, munitions of war, and stores of the Army and Navy, which were
much exhausted during the war, have been replenished.

By the discharge of so large a proportion of the public debt and the
execution of such extensive and important operations in so short a time a
just estimate may be formed of the great extent of our national resources.
The demonstration is the more complete and gratifying when it is
recollected that the direct tax and excise were repealed soon after the
termination of the late war, and that the revenue applied to these purposes
has been derived almost wholly from other sources.

The receipts into the Treasury from every source to the 30th of September
last have amounted to $16,794,107.66, whilst the public expenditures to the
same period amounted to $16,871,534.72, leaving in the Treasury on that day
a sum estimated at $1.95 millions. For the probable receipts of the
following year I refer you to the statement which will be transmitted from
the Treasury.

The sum of $3 millions authorized to be raised by loan by an act of the
last session of Congress has been obtained upon terms advantageous to the
Government, indicating not only an increased confidence in the faith of the
nation, but the existence of a large amount of capital seeking that mode of
investment at a rate of interest not exceeding 5% per annum.

It is proper to add that there is now due to the Treasury for the sale of
public lands $22,996,545. In bringing this subject to view I consider it my
duty to submit to Congress whether it may not be advisable to extend to the
purchasers of these lands, in consideration of the unfavorable change which
has occurred since the sales, a reasonable indulgence. It is known that the
purchases were made when the price of every article had risen to its
greatest height, and the installments are becoming due at a period of great
depression. It is presumed that some plan may be devised by the wisdom of
Congress, compatible with the public interest, which would afford great
relief to these purchasers.

Considerable progress has been made during the present season in examining
the coast and its various bays and other inlets, in the collection of
materials, and in the construction of fortifications for the defense of the
Union at several of the positions at which it has been decided to erect
such works. At Mobile Point and Dauphin Island, and at the Rigolets,
leading to Lake Pontchartrain, materials to a considerable amount have been
collected, and all the necessary preparations made for the commencement of
the works. At Old Point Comfort, at the mouth of the James River, and at
the Rip-Rap, on the opposite shore in the Chesapeake Bay, materials to a
vast amount have been collected; and at the Old Point some progress has
been made in the construction of the fortification, which is on a very
extensive scale. The work at Fort Washington, on this river, will be
completed early in the next spring, and that on the Pea Patch, in the
Delaware, in the course of the next season. Fort Diamond, at the Narrows,
in the harbor of New York, will be finished this year. The works at
Boston, New York, Baltimore, Norfolk, Charleston, and Niagara have been
in part repaired, and the coast of North Carolina, extending south to
Cape Fear, has been examined, as have likewise other parts of the coast
eastward of Boston.

Great exertions have been made to push forward these works with the utmost
dispatch possible; but when their extent is considered, with the important
purposes for which they are intended--the defense of the whole coast, and,
in consequence, of the whole interior--and that they are to last for ages,
it will be manifest that a well-digested plan, founded on military
principles, connecting the whole together, combining security with economy,
could not be prepared without repeated examinations of the most exposed and
difficult parts, and that it would also take considerable time to collect
the materials at the several points where they would be required.

From all the light that has been shed on this subject I am satisfied that
every favorable anticipation which has been formed of this great
undertaking will be verified, and that when completed it will afford very
great if not complete protection to our Atlantic frontier in the event of
another war--protection sufficient to counterbalance in a single campaign
with an enemy powerful at sea the expense of all these works, without
taking into the estimate the saving of the lives of so many of our
citizens, the protection of our towns and other property, or the tendency
of such works to prevent war.

Our military positions have been maintained at Belle Point, on the
Arkansas, at Council Bluffs, on the Missouri, at St. Peters, on the
Mississippi, and at Green Bay, on the upper Lakes. Commodious barracks have
already been erected at most of these posts, with such works as were
necessary for their defense. Progress has also been made in opening
communications between them and in raising supplies at each for the support
of the troops by their own labor, particularly those most remote.

With the Indians peace has been preserved and a progress made in carrying
into effect the act of Congress making an appropriation for their
civilization, with the prospect of favorable results. As connected equally
with both these objects, our trade with those tribes is thought to merit
the attention of Congress.

In their original state game is their sustenance and war their occupation,
and if they find no employment from civilized powers they destroy each
other. Left to themselves their extirpation is inevitable.

By a judicious regulation of our trade with them we supply their wants,
administer to their comforts, and gradually, as the game retires, draw them
to us. By maintaining posts far in the interior we acquire a more thorough
and direct control over them, without which it is confidently believed that
a complete change in their manners can never be accomplished. By such
posts, aided by a proper regulation of our trade with them and a judicious
civil administration over them, to be provided for by law, we shall, it is
presumed, be enabled not only to protect our own settlements from their
savage incursions and preserve peace among the several tribes, but
accomplish also the great purpose of their civilization.

Considerable progress has also been made in the construction of ships of
war, some of which have been launched in the course of the present year.

Our peace with the powers on the coast of Barbary has been preserved, but
we owe it altogether to the presence of our squadron in the Mediterranean.
It has been found equally necessary to employ some of our vessels for the
protection of our commerce in the Indian Sea, the Pacific, and along the
Atlantic coast. The interests which we have depending in those quarters,
which have been much improved of late, are of great extent and of high
importance to the nation as well as to the parties concerned, and would
undoubtedly suffer if such protection was not extended to them. In
execution of the law of the last session for the suppression of the slave
trade some of our public ships have also been employed on the coast of
Africa, where several captures have already been made of vessels engaged in
that disgraceful traffic.


State of the Union Address
James Monroe
December 3, 1821

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

The progress of our affairs since the last session has been such as may
justly be claimed and expected under a Government deriving all its powers
from an enlightened people, and under laws formed by their representatives,
on great consideration, for the sole purpose of promoting the welfare and
happiness of their constituents. In the execution of those laws and of the
powers vested by the Constitution in the Executive, unremitted attention
has been paid to the great objects to which they extend.

In the concerns which are exclusively internal there is good cause to be
satisfied with the result. The laws have had their due operation and

In those relating to foreign powers, I am happy to state that peace and
amity are preserved with all by a strict observance on both sides of the
rights of each.

In matters touching our commercial intercourse, where a difference of
opinion has existed as to the conditions on which it should be placed, each
party has pursued its own policy without giving just cause of offense to
the other.

In this annual communication, especially when it is addressed to a new
Congress, the whole scope of our political concerns naturally comes into
view, that errors, if such have been committed, may be corrected; that
defects which have become manifest may be remedied; and, on the other hand,
that measures which were adopted on due deliberation, and which experience
has shewn are just in themselves and essential to the public welfare,
should be persevered in and supported. In performing this necessary and
very important duty I shall endeavor to place before you on its merits
every subject that is thought to be entitled to your particular attention
in as distinct and clear a light as I may be able.

By an act of March 3rd, 1815, so much of the several acts as imposed higher
duties on the tonnage of foreign vessels and on the manufactures and
productions of foreign nations when imported into the United States in
foreign vessels than when imported in vessels of the United States were
repealed so far as respected the manufactures and productions of the nation
to which such vessels belonged, on the condition that the repeal should
take effect only in favor of any foreign nation when the Executive should
be satisfied that such discriminating duties to the disadvantage of the
United States had likewise been repealed by such nation.

By this act a proposition was made to all nations to place our commerce
with each on a basis which it was presumed would be acceptable to all.
Every nation was allowed to bring its manufactures and productions into our
ports and to take the manufactures and productions of the United States
back to their ports in their own vessels on the same conditions that they
might be transported in vessels of the United States, and in return it was
required that a like accommodation should be granted to the vessels of the
United States in the ports of other powers. The articles to be admitted or
prohibited on either side formed no part of the proposed arrangement. Each
party would retain the right to admit or prohibit such articles from the
other as it thought proper, and on its own conditions.

When the nature of the commerce between the United States and every other
country was taken into view, it was thought that this proposition would be
considered fair, and even liberal, by every power. The exports of the
United States consist generally of articles of the first necessity and of
rude materials in demand for foreign manufactories, of great bulk,
requiring for their transportation many vessels, the return for which in
the manufactures and productions of any foreign country, even when disposed
of there to advantage, may be brought in a single vessel. This observation
is the more especially applicable to those countries from which
manufactures alone are imported, but it applies in great extent to the
European dominions of every European power and in a certain extent to all
the colonies of those powers. By placing, then, the navigation precisely on
the same ground in the transportation of exports and imports between the
United States and other countries it was presumed that all was offered
which could be desired. It seemed to be the only proposition which could be
devised which would retain even the semblance of equality in our favor.

Many considerations of great weight gave us a right to expect that this
commerce should be extended to the colonies as well as to the European
dominions of other powers. With the latter, especially with countries
exclusively manufacturing, the advantage was manifestly on their side. An
indemnity for that loss was expected from a trade with the colonies, and
with the greater reason as it was known that the supplies which the
colonies derived from us were of the highest importance to them, their
labor being bestowed with so much greater profit in the culture of other
articles; and because, likewise, the articles of which those supplies
consisted, forming so large a proportion of the exports of the United
States, were never admitted into any of the ports of Europe except in cases
of great emergency to avert a serious calamity.

When no article is admitted which is not required to supply the wants of
the party admitting it, and admitted then not in favor of any particular
country to the disadvantage of others, but on conditions equally applicable
to all, it seems just that the articles thus admitted and invited should be
carried thither in the vessels of the country affording such supply and
that the reciprocity should be found in a corresponding accommodation on
the other side. By allowing each party to participate in the transportation
of such supplies on the payment of equal tonnage a strong proof was
afforded of an accommodating spirit. To abandon to it the transportation of
the whole would be a sacrifice which ought not to be expected. The demand
in the present instance would be the more unreasonable in consideration of
the great inequality existing in the trade with the parent country.

Such was the basis of our system as established by the act of 1815 and such
its true character. In the year in which this act was passed a treaty was
concluded with Great Britain, in strict conformity with its principles, in
regard to her European dominions. To her colonies, however, in the West
Indies and on this continent it was not extended, the British Government
claiming the exclusive supply of those colonies, and from our own ports,
and of the productions of the colonies in return in her own vessels. To
this claim the United States could not assent, and in consequence each
party suspended the intercourse in the vessels of the other by a
prohibition which still exists.

The same conditions were offered to France, but not accepted. Her
Government has demanded other conditions more favorable to her navigation,
and which should also give extraordinary encouragement to her manufactures
and productions in ports of the United States. To these it was thought
improper to accede, and in consequence the restrictive regulations which
had been adopted on her part, being countervailed on the part of the United
States, the direct commerce between the two countries in the vessels of
each party has been in great measure suspended. It is much to be regretted
that, although a negotiation has been long pending, such is the diversity
of views entertained on the various points which have been brought into
discussion that there does not appear to be any reasonable prospect of its
early conclusion.

It is my duty to state, as a cause of very great regret, that very serious
differences have occurred in this negotiation respecting the construction
of the 8th article of the treaty of 1803, by which Louisiana was ceded to
the United States, and likewise respecting the seizure of the Apollo, in
1820, for a violation of our revenue laws. The claim of the Government of
France has excited not less surprise than concern, because there does not
appear to be a just foundation for it in either instance. By the 8th
article of the treaty referred to it is stipulated that after the
expiration of twelve years, during which time it was provided by the 7th or
preceding article that the vessels of France and Spain should be admitted
into the ports of the ceded territory without paying higher duties on
merchandise or tonnage on the vessels than such as were paid by citizens of
the United States, the ships of France should forever afterwards be placed
on the footing of the most favored nation.

By the obvious construction of this article it is presumed that it was
intended that no favor should be granted to any power in those ports to
which France should not be forthwith entitled, nor should any accommodation
be allowed to another power on conditions to which she would not also be
entitled on the same conditions. Under this construction no favor or
accommodation could be granted to any power to the prejudice of France. By
allowing the equivalent allowed by those powers she would always stand in
those ports on the footing of the most favored nation.

But if this article should be so construed as that France should enjoy, of
right, and without paying the equivalent, all the advantages of such
conditions as might be allowed to other powers in return for important
concessions made by them, then the whole character of the stipulations
would be changed. She would not be placed on the footing of the most
favored nation, but on a footing held by no other nation. She would enjoy
all advantages allowed to them in consideration of like advantages allowed
to us, free from every and any condition whatever.

As little cause has the Government of France to complain of the seizure of
the Apollo and the removal of other vessels from the waters of the St.
Marys. It will not be denied that every nation has a right to regulate its
commercial system as it thinks fit and to enforce the collection of its
revenue, provided it be done without an invasion of the rights of other
powers. The violation of its revenue laws is an offense which all nations
punish, the punishment of which gives no just cause of complaint to the
power to which the offenders belong, provided it be extended to all

In this case every circumstance which occurred indicated a fixed purpose to
violate our revenue laws. Had the party intended to have pursued a fair
trade he would have entered the port of some other power, landed his goods
at the custom house according to law, and re-shipped and sent them in the
vessel of such power, or of some other power which might lawfully bring
them, free from such duties, to a port of the United States. But the
conduct of the party in this case was altogether different. He entered the
river St. Marys, the boundary line between the United States and Florida,
and took his position on the Spanish side, on which in the whole extent of
the river there was no town, no port or custom house, and scarcely any
settlement. His purpose, therefore, was not to sell his goods to the
inhabitants of Florida, but to citizens of the United States, in exchange
for their productions, which could not be done without a direct and
palpable breach of our laws. It is known that a regular systematic plan had
been formed by certain persons for the violation of our revenue system,
which made it the more necessary to check the proceeding in its

That the unsettled bank of a river so remote from the Spanish garrisons and
population could give no protection to any party in such a practice is
believed to be in strict accord with the law of nations. It would not have
comported with a friendly policy in Spain herself to have established a
custom house there, since it could have subserved no other purpose than to
elude our revenue law. But the Government of Spain did not adopt that
measure. On the contrary, it is understood that the Captain-General of
Cuba, to whom an application to that effect was made by these adventurers,
had not acceded to it.

The condition of those Provinces for many years before they were ceded to
the United States need not now be dwelt on. Inhabited by different tribes
of Indians and an inroad for every kind of adventurer, the jurisdiction of
Spain may be said to have been almost exclusively confined to her
garrisons. It certainly could not extend to places where she had no
authority. The rules, therefore, applicable to settled countries governed
by laws could not be deemed so to the deserts of Florida and to the
occurrences there.

It merits attention also that the territory had been ceded to the United
States by a treaty the ratification of which had not been refused, and
which has since been performed. Under any circumstances, therefore, Spain
became less responsible for such acts committed there, and the United
States more at liberty to exercise authority to prevent so great a
mischief. The conduct of this Government has in every instance been
conciliatory and friendly to France. The construction of our revenue law in
its application to the cases which have formed the ground of such serious
complaint on her part and the order to the collector of St. Marys, in
accord with it, were given two years before these cases occurred, and in
reference to a breach which was attempted by the subjects of another power.
The application, therefore, to the cases in question was inevitable. As
soon as the treaty by which these Provinces were ceded to the United States
was ratified, and all danger of further breach of our revenue laws ceased,
an order was given for the release of the vessel which had been seized and
for the dismission of the libel which had been instituted against her.

The principles of this system of reciprocity, founded on the law of
March 3rd, 1815, have been since carried into effect with the Kingdoms of
the Netherlands, Sweden, Prussia, and with Hamburg, Lubeck, and Oldenburg,
with a provision made by subsequent laws in regard to the Netherlands,
Prussia, Hamburg, and Bremen that such produce and manufactures as could
only be, or most usually were, first shipped from the ports of those
countries, the same being imported in vessels wholly belonging to their
subjects, should be considered and admitted as their own manufactures and

The Government of Norway has by an ordinance opened the ports of that part
of the dominions of the King of Sweden to the vessels of the United States
upon the payment of no other or higher duties than are paid by Norwegian
vessels, from whatever place arriving and with whatever articles laden.
They have requested the reciprocal allowance for the vessels of Norway in
the ports of the United States. As this privilege is not within the scope
of the act of March 3rd, 1815, and can only be granted by Congress, and as
it may involve the commercial relations of the United States with other
nations, the subject is submitted to the wisdom of Congress.

I have presented thus fully to your view our commercial relations with
other powers, that, seeing them in detail with each power, and knowing the
basis on which they rest, Congress may in its wisdom decide whether any
change ought to be made, and, if any, in what respect. If this basis is
unjust or unreasonable, surely it ought to be abandoned; but if it be just
and reasonable, and any change in it will make concessions subversive of
equality and tending in its consequences to sap the foundations of our
prosperity, then the reasons are equally strong for adhering to the ground
already taken, and supporting it by such further regulations as may appear
to be proper, should any additional support be found necessary.

The question concerning the construction of the first article of the treaty
of Ghent has been, by a joint act of the representatives of the United
States and of Great Britain at the Court of St. Petersburg, submitted to
the decision of His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Russia. The result of
that submission has not yet been received. The commissioners under the 5th
article of that treaty not having been able to agree upon their decision,
their reports to the two Governments, according to the provisions of the
treaty, may be expected at an early day.

With Spain the treaty of February 22nd, 1819, has been partly carried into
execution. Possession of East and West Florida has been given to the
United States, but the officers charged with that service by an order
from His Catholic Majesty, delivered by his minister to the Secretary of
State, and transmitted by a special agent to the Captain-General of Cuba,
to whom it was directed and in whom the Government of those Provinces
was vested, have not only omitted, in contravention of the order of their
Sovereign, the performance of the express stipulation to deliver over the
archives and documents relating to the property and sovereignty of those
Provinces, all of which it was expected would have been delivered either
before or when the troops were withdrawn, but defeated since every effort
of the United States to obtain them, especially those of the greatest
importance. This omission has given rise to several incidents of a painful
nature, the character of which will be fully disclosed by the documents
which will be hereafter communicated.

In every other circumstance of the law of the 3rd of March last, for
carrying into effect that treaty, has been duly attended to. For the
execution of that part which preserved in force, for the Government of the
inhabitants for the term specified, all the civil, military, and judicial
powers exercised by the existing Government of those Provinces an adequate
number of officers, as was presumed, were appointed, and ordered to their
respective stations. Both Provinces were formed into one Territory, and a
governor appointed for it; but in consideration of the pre-existing
division and of the distance and difficulty of communication between
Pensacola, the residence of the governor of West Florida, and St.
Augustine, that of the governor of East Florida, at which places the
inconsiderable population of each Province was principally collected, two
secretaries were appointed, the one to reside at Pensacola and the other at
St. Augustine.

Due attention was likewise paid to the execution of the laws of the United
States relating to the revenue and the slave trade, which were extended to
these Provinces. The whole Territory was divided into three collection
districts, that part lying between the river St. Marys and Cape Florida
forming one, that from the Cape to the Apalachicola another, and that from
the Apalachicola to the Perdido the third. To these districts the usual
number of revenue officers were appointed; and to secure the due operation
of these laws one judge and a district attorney were appointed to reside at
Pensacola, and likewise one judge and a district attorney to reside at St.
Augustine, with a specified boundary between them; and one marshal for the
whole, with authority to appoint a deputy.

In carrying this law into effect, and especially that part relating to the
powers of the existing Government of those Provinces, it was thought
important, in consideration of the short term for which it was to operate
and the radical change which would be made at the approaching session of
Congress, to avoid expense, to make no appointment which should not be
absolutely necessary to give effect to those powers, to withdraw none of
our citizens from their pursuits, whereby to subject the Government to
claims which could not be gratified and the parties to losses which it
would be painful to witness.

It has been seen with much concern that in the performance of these duties
a collision arose between the governor of the Territory and the judge
appointed for the western district. It was presumed that the law under
which this transitory Government was organized, and the commissions which
were granted to the officers who were appointed to execute each branch of
the system, and to which the commissions were adapted, would have been
understood in the same sense by them in which they were understood by the
Executive. Much allowance is due to officers employed in each branch of
this system, and the more so as there is good cause to believe that each
acted under the conviction that he possessed the power which he undertook
to exercise. Of the officer holding the principal station, I think it
proper to observe that he accepted it with reluctance, in compliance with
the invitation given him, and from a high sense of duty to his country,
being willing to contribute to the consummation of an event which would
insure complete protection to an important part of our Union, which had
suffered much from incursion and invasion, and to the defense of which his
very gallant and patriotic services had been so signally and usefully

From the intrinsic difficulty of executing laws deriving their origin from
different sources, and so essentially different in many important
circumstances, the advantage, and indeed the necessity, of establishing as
soon as practicable a well-organized Government over that Territory on the
principles of our system is apparent. This subject is therefore recommended
to the early consideration of Congress.

In compliance with an injunction of the law of the 3rd of March last, three
commissioners have also been appointed and a board organized for carrying
into effect the 11th article of the treaty above recited, making provision
for the payment of such of our citizens as have well-founded claims on
Spain of the character specified by that treaty. This board has entered on
its duties and made some progress therein. The commissioner and surveyor of
His Catholic Majesty, provided for by the 4th article of the treaty, have
not yet arrived in the United States, but are soon expected. As soon as
they do arrive corresponding appointments will be made and every facility
be afforded for the due execution of this service.

The Government of His Most Faithful Majesty since the termination of the
last session of Congress has been removed from Rio de Janeiro to Lisbon,
where a revolution similar to that which had occurred in the neighboring
Kingdom of Spain had in like manner been sanctioned by the accepted and
pledged faith of the reigning monarch. The diplomatic intercourse between
the United States and the Portuguese dominions, interrupted by this
important event, has not yet been resumed, but the change of internal
administration having already materially affected the commercial
intercourse of the United States with the Portuguese dominions, the renewal
of the public missions between the two countries appears to be desirable at
an early day.

It is understood that the colonies in South America have had great success
during the present year in the struggle for their independence. The new
Government of Colombia has extended its territories and considerably
augmented its strength, and at Buenos Ayres, where civil dissensions had
for some time before prevailed, greater harmony and better order appear to
have been established. Equal success has attended their efforts in the
Provinces on the Pacific. It has long been manifest that it would be
impossible for Spain to reduce these colonies by force, and equally so that
no conditions short of their independence would be satisfactory to them. It
may therefore be presumed, and it is earnestly hoped, that the Government
of Spain, guided by enlightened and liberal councils, will find it to
comport with its interests and due to its magnanimity to terminate this
exhausting controversy on that basis. To promote this result by friendly
counsel with the Government of Spain will be the object of the Government
of the United States.

In conducting the fiscal operations of the year it has been found necessary
to carry into full effect the act of the last session of Congress
authorizing a loan of $5 millions. This sum has been raised at an average
premium of $5.59 per centum upon stock bearing an interest at the rate of
5% per annum, redeemable at the option of the Government after January
1st, 1835.

There has been issued under the provisions of this act $4,735,296.30 of 5%
stock, and there has been or will be redeemed during the year $3,197,030.71
of Louisiana 6% deferred stock and Mississippi stock. There has therefore
been an actual increase of the public debt contracted during the year of

The receipts into the Treasury from the first of January to the 30th of
September last have amounted to $16,219,197.70, which, with the balance of
$1,198,461.21 in the Treasury on the former day, make the aggregate sum of
$17,417,658.91. The payments from the Treasury during the same period have
amounted to $15,655,288.47, leaving in the Treasury on the last-mentioned
day the sum of $1,762,370.44. It is estimated that the receipts of the 4th
quarter of the year will exceed the demands which will be made on the
Treasury during the same period, and that the amount in the Treasury on the
30th of September last will be increased on the first day of January next.

At the close of the last session it was anticipated that the progressive
diminution of the public revenue in 1819 and 1820, which had been the
result of the languid state of our foreign commerce in those years, had in
the latter year reached its extreme point of depression. It has, however,
been ascertained that that point was reached only at the termination of the
first quarter of the present year. From that time until the 30th of
September last the duties secured have exceeded those of the corresponding
quarters of the last year $1.172 millions, whilst the amount of debentures
issued during the three first quarters of this year is $952,000 less than
that of the same quarters of the last year.

There are just grounds to believe that the improvement which has occurred
in the revenue during the last-mentioned period will not only be
maintained, but that it will progressively increase through the next and
several succeeding years, so as to realize the results which were presented
upon that subject by the official reports of the Treasury at the
commencement of the last session of Congress.

Under the influence of the most unfavorable circumstances the revenue for
the next and subsequent years to the year 1825 will exceed the demands at
present authorized by law.

It may fairly be presumed that under the protection given to domestic
manufactures by the existing laws we shall become at no distant period a
manufacturing country on an extensive scale. Possessing as we do the raw
materials in such vast amount, with a capacity to augment them to an
indefinite extent; raising within the country aliment of every kind to an
amount far exceeding the demand for home consumption, even in the most
unfavorable years, and to be obtained always at a very moderate price;
skilled also, as our people are, in the mechanic arts and in every
improvement calculated to lessen the demand for and the price of labor, it
is manifest that their success in every branch of domestic industry may and
will be carried, under the encouragement given by the present duties, to an
extent to meet any demand which under a fair competition may be made upon

A considerable increase of domestic manufactures, by diminishing the
importation of foreign, will probably tend to lessen the amount of the
public revenue. As, however, a large proportion of the revenue which is
derived from duties is raised from other articles than manufactures, the
demand for which will increase with our population, it is believed that a
fund will still be raised from that source adequate to the greater part of
the public expenditures, especially as those expenditures, should we
continue to be blessed with peace, will be diminished by the completion of
the fortifications, dock yards, and other public works, by the augmentation
of the Navy to the point to which it is proposed to carry it, and by the
payment of the public debt, including pensions for military services.

It can not be doubted that the more complete our internal resources and the
less dependent we are on foreign powers for every national as well as
domestic purpose the greater and more stable will be the public felicity.
By the increase of domestic manufactures will the demand for the rude
materials at home be increased, and thus will the dependence of the several
parts of our Union on each other and the strength of the Union itself be
proportionably augmented.

In this process, which is very desirable, and inevitable under the existing
duties, the resources which obviously present themselves to supply a
deficiency in the revenue, should it occur, are the interests which may
derive the principal benefit from the change. If domestic manufactures are
raised by duties on foreign, the deficiency in the fund necessary for
public purposes should be supplied by duties on the former.

At the last session it seemed doubtful whether the revenue derived from the
present sources would be adequate to all the great purposes of our Union,
including the construction of our fortifications, the augmentation of the
Navy, and the protection of our commerce against the dangers to which it is
exposed. Had the deficiency been such as to subject us to the necessity
either to abandon those measures of defense or to resort to the other means
for adequate funds, the course presented to the adoption of a virtuous and
enlightened people appeared to be a plain one. It must be gratifying to all
to know that this necessity does not exist. Nothing, however, in
contemplation of such important objects, which can be easily provided for,
should be left to hazard. It is thought that the revenue may receive an
augmentation from the existing sources, and in a manner to aid our
manufactures, without hastening prematurely the result which has been
suggested. It is believed that a moderate additional duty on certain
articles would have that effect, without being liable to any serious

The examination of the whole coast, for the construction of permanent
fortifications, from St. Croix to the Sabine, with the exception of part of
the territory lately acquired, will be completed in the present year, as
will be the survey of the Mississippi, under the resolution of the House of
Representatives, from the mouth of the Ohio to the ocean, and likewise of
the Ohio from Louisville to the Mississippi. A progress corresponding with
the sums appropriated has also been made in the construction of these
fortifications at the ports designated. As they will form a system of
defense for the whole maritime frontier, and in consequence for the
interior, and are to last for ages, the greatest care has been taken to fix
the position of each work and to form it on such a scale as will be
adequate to the purpose intended by it. All the inlets and assailable parts
of our Union have been minutely examined, and positions taken with a view
to the best effect, observing in every instance a just regard for economy.
Doubts, however, being entertained as to the propriety of the position and
extent of the work at Dauphine Island, further progress in it was suspended
soon after the last session of Congress, and an order given to the Board of
Engineers and Naval Commissioners to make a further and more minute
examination of it in both respects, and to report the result without

Due progress has been made in the construction of vessels of war according
to the law providing for the gradual augmentation of the Navy, and to the
extent of existing appropriations. The vessels authorized by the act of
1820 have all been completed and are now in actual service. None of the
larger ships have been or will be launched for the present, the object
being to protect all which may not be required for immediate service from
decay by suitable buildings erected over them.

A squadron has been maintained, as heretofore, in the Mediterranean, by
means whereof peace has been preserved with the Barbary Powers. This
squadron has been reduced the present year to as small a force as is
compatible with the fulfillment of the object intended by it. From past
experience and the best information respecting the views of those powers it
is distinctly understood that should our squadron be withdrawn they would
soon recommence their hostilities and depredations upon our commerce. Their
fortifications have lately been rebuilt and their maritime force

It has also been found necessary to maintain a naval force on the Pacific
for the protection of the very important interests of our citizens engaged
in commerce and the fisheries in that sea. Vessels have likewise been
employed in cruising along the Atlantic coast, in the Gulf of Mexico, on
the coast of Africa, and in the neighboring seas. In the latter many
piracies have been committed on our commerce, and so extensive was becoming
the range of those unprincipled adventurers that there was cause to
apprehend, without a timely and decisive effort to suppress them, the worst
consequences would ensue. Fortunately, a considerable check has been given
to that spirit by our cruisers, who have succeeded in capturing and
destroying several of their vessels. Nevertheless, it is considered an
object of high importance to continue these cruises until the practice is
entirely suppressed.

Like success has attended our efforts to suppress the slave trade. Under
the flag of the United States and the sanction of their papers the trade
may be considered as entirely suppressed, and if any of our citizens are
engaged in it under the flags and papers of other powers, it is only from a
respect of those powers that these offenders are not seized and brought
home to receive the punishment which the laws inflict. If every other power
should adopt the same policy and pursue the same vigorous means for
carrying it into effect, the trade could no longer exist.

Deeply impressed with the blessings which we enjoy, and of which we have
such manifold proofs, my mind is irresistibly drawn to that Almighty Being,
the great source from whence they proceed and to whom our most grateful
acknowledgments are due.


State of the Union Address
James Monroe
December 3, 1822

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

Many causes unite to make your present meeting peculiarly interesting to
out constituents. The operation of our laws on the various subjects to
which they apply, with the amendments which they occasionally require,
imposes annually an important duty on the representatives of a free

Our system has happily advanced to such maturity that I am not aware that
your cares in that respect will be augmented. Other causes exist which are
highly interesting to the whole civilized world and to no portion of it
more so, in certain views, than to the United States. Of these causes and
of their bearing on the interests of our Union I shall communicate the
sentiments which I have formed with that freedom which a sense of duty
dictates. It is proper, however, to invite your attention in the first
instance to those concerns respecting which legislative provision is
thought to be particularly urgent.

On the 24th of June last a convention of navigation and commerce was
concluded in this city between the United States and France by ministers
duly authorized for the purpose. The sanction of the Executive having been
given to this convention under a conviction that, taking all its
stipulations into view, it rested essentially on a basis of reciprocal and
equal advantage, I deemed it my duty, in compliance with the authority
vested in the Executive by the second section of the act of the last
session of the 6th of May, concerning navigation, to suspend by
proclamation until the end of the next session of Congress the operation of
the act entitled "An act to impose a new tonnage duty on French ships and
vessels, and for other purposes", and to suspend likewise all other duties
on French vessels or the goods imported in them which exceeded the duties
on American vessels and on similar goods imported in them. I shall submit
this convention forthwith to the Senate for its advice and consent as to
the ratification.

Since your last session the prohibition which had been imposed on the
commerce between the United States and the British colonies in the West
Indies and on this continent has likewise been removed. Satisfactory
evidence having been adduced that the ports of those colonies had been
opened to the vessels of the United States by an act of the British
Parliament bearing date on the 24th of June last, on the conditions
specified therein, I deemed it proper, in compliance with the provision of
the first section of the act of the last session above recited, to declare,
by proclamation bearing date on the 24th of August last, that the ports of
the United States should thenceforward and until the end of the next
session of Congress be opened to the vessels of Great Britain employed in
that trade, under the limitation specified in that proclamation.

A doubt was entertained whether the act of Congress applied to the British
colonies on this continent as well as to those in the West Indies, but as
the act of Parliament opened the intercourse equally with both, and it was
the manifest intention of Congress, as well as the obvious policy of the
United States, that the provisions of the act of Parliament should be met
in equal extent on the part of the United States, and as also the act of
Congress was supposed to vest in the President some discretion in the
execution of it, I thought it advisable to give it a corresponding

Should the constitutional sanction of the Senate be given to the
ratification of the convention with France, legislative provisions will be
necessary to carry it fully into effect, as it likewise will be to continue
in force, on such conditions as may be deemed just and proper, the
intercourse which has been opened between the United States and the British
colonies. Every light in the possession of the Executive will in due time
be communicated on both subjects.

Resting essentially on a basis of reciprocal and equal advantage, it has
been the object of the Executive in transactions with other powers to meet
the propositions of each with a liberal spirit, believing that thereby the
interest of our country would be most effectually promoted. This course has
been systematically pursued in the late occurrences with France and Great
Britain, and in strict accord with the views of the Legislature. A
confident hope is entertained that by the arrangement thus commenced with
each all differences respecting navigation and commerce with the dominions
in question will be adjusted, and a solid foundation be laid for an active
and permanent intercourse which will prove equally advantageous to both

The decision of His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Russia on the question
submitted to him by the United States and Great Britain, concerning the
construction of the first article of the treaty of Ghent, has been
received. A convention has since been concluded between the parties, under
the mediation of His Imperial Majesty, to prescribe the mode by which that
article shall be carried into effect in conformity with that decision. I
shall submit this convention to the Senate for its advice and consent as to
the ratification, and, if obtained, shall immediately bring the subject
before Congress for such provisions as may require the interposition of the

In compliance with an act of the last session a Territorial Government has
been established in Florida on the principles of our system. By this act
the inhabitants are secured in the full enjoyment of their rights and
liberties, and to admission into the Union, with equal participation in the
Government with the original States on the conditions heretofore prescribed
to other Territories. By a clause in the 9th article of the treaty with
Spain, by which that Territory was ceded to the United States, it is
stipulated that satisfaction shall be made for the injuries, if any, which
by process of law shall be established to have been suffered by the Spanish
officers and individual Spanish inhabitants by the late operations of our
troops in Florida. No provision having yet been made to carry that
stipulation into effect, it is submitted to the consideration of Congress
whether it will not be proper to vest the competent power in the district
court at Pensacola, or in some tribunal to be specially organized for the

The fiscal operations of the year have been more successful than had been
anticipated at the commencement of the last session of Congress.

The receipts into the Treasury during the three first quarters of the year
have exceeded the sum of $14.745 millions. The payments made at the
Treasury during the same period have exceeded $12.279 millions, leaving
the Treasury on the 30th day of September last, including $1,168,592.24
which were in the Treasury on the first day of January last, a sum
exceeding $4.128 millions.

Besides discharging all demands for the current service of the year,
including the interest and reimbursement of the public debt, the 6% stock
of 1796, amounting to $80,000, has been redeemed. It is estimated that,
after defraying the current expenses of the present quarter and redeeming
the $2 millions of 6% stock of 1820, there will remain in the Treasury on
the first of January next nearly $3 millions. It is estimated that the
gross amount of duties which have been secured from the first of January
to the 30th of September last has exceeded $19.5 millions, and the amount
for the whole year will probably not fall short of $23 millions.

Of the actual force in service under the present military establishment,
the posts at which it is stationed, and the condition of each post, a
report from the Secretary of War which is now communicated will give a
distinct idea. By like reports the state of the Academy at West Point will
be seen, as will be the progress which has been made on the fortifications
along the coast and at the national armories and arsenals.

The organization of the several corps composing the Army is such as to
admit its expansion to a great extent in case of emergency, the officers
carrying with them all the light which they possess to the new corps to
which they might be appointed.

With the organization of the staff there is equal cause to be satisfied. By
the concentration of every branch with its chief in this city, in the
presence of the Department, and with a grade in the chief military station
to keep alive and cherish a military spirit, the greatest promptitude in
the execution of orders, with the greatest economy and efficiency, are
secured. The same view is taken of the Military Academy. Good order is
preserved in it, and the youth are well instructed in every science
connected with the great objects of the institution. They are also well
trained and disciplined in the practical parts of the profession. It has
been always found difficult to control the ardor inseparable from that
early age in such manner as to give it a proper direction. The rights of
manhood are too often claimed prematurely, in pressing which too far the
respect which is due to age and the obedience necessary to a course of
study and instruction in every such institution are sometimes lost sight
of. The great object to be accomplished is the restraint of that ardor by
such wise regulations and Government as, by directing all the energies of
the youthful mind to the attainment of useful knowledge, will keep it
within a just subordination and at the same time elevate it to the highest
purposes. This object seems to be essentially obtained in this institution,
and with great advantage to the Union.

The Military Academy forms the basis, in regard to science, on which the
military establishment rests. It furnishes annually, after due examination
and on the report of the academic staff, many well-informed youths to fill
the vacancies which occur in the several corps of the Army, while others
who retire to private life carry with them such attainments as, under the
right reserved to the several States to appoint the officers and to train
the militia, will enable them, by affording a wider field for selection, to
promote the great object of the power vested in Congress of providing for
the organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia. Thus by the mutual
and harmonious cooperation of the two governments in the execution of a
power divided between them, an object always to be cherished, the
attainment of a great result, on which our liberties may depend, can not
fail to be secured. I have to add that in proportion as our regular force
is small should the instruction and discipline of the militia, the great
resource on which we rely, be pushed to the utmost extent that
circumstances will admit.

A report from the Secretary of the Navy will communicate the progress which
has been made in the construction of vessels of war, with other interesting
details respecting the actual state of the affairs of that Department. It
has been found necessary for the protection of our commerce to maintain the
usual squadrons on the Mediterranean, the Pacific, and along the Atlantic
coast, extending the cruises of the latter into the West Indies, where
piracy, organized into a system, has preyed on the commerce of every
country trading thither. A cruise has also been maintained on the coast of
Africa, when the season would permit, for the suppression of the slave
trade, and orders have been given to the commanders of all our public ships
to seize our own vessels, should they find any engaging in that trade, and
to bring them in for adjudication.

In the West Indies piracy is of recent date, which may explain the cause
why other powers have not combined against it. By the documents
communicated it will be seen that the efforts of the United States to
suppress it have had a very salutary effect. The benevolent provision of
the act under which the protection has been extended alike to the commerce
of other nations can not fail to be duly appreciated by them.

In compliance with the act of the last session entitled "An act to abolish
the United States trading establishments", agents were immediately
appointed and instructed, under the direction of the Secretary of the
Treasury, to close the business of the trading houses among the Indian
tribes and to settle the accounts of the factors and sub-factors engaged
in that trade, and to execute in all other respects the injunction of that
act in the mode prescribed therein. A final report of their proceedings
shall be communicated to Congress as soon as it is received.

It is with great regret I have to state that a serious malady has deprived
us of many valuable citizens of Pensacola and checked the progress of some
of those arrangements which are important to the Territory. This effect has
been sensibly felt in respect to the Indians who inhabit that Territory,
consisting of the remnants of the several tribes who occupy the middle
ground between St. Augustine and Pensacola, with extensive claims but
undefined boundaries. Although peace is preserved with those Indians, yet
their position and claims tend essentially to interrupt the intercourse
between the eastern and western parts of the Territory, on which our
inhabitants are principally settled. It is essential to the growth and
prosperity of the Territory, as well as to the interests of the Union, that
those Indians should be removed, by special compact with them, to some
other position or concentration within narrower limits where they are. With
the limited means in the power of the Executive, instructions were given to
the governor to accomplish this object so far as it might be practicable,
which was prevented by the distressing malady referred to. To carry it
fully into effect in either mode additional funds will be necessary, to the
provision of which the powers of Congress are competent. With a view to
such provision as may be deemed proper, the subject is submitted to your
consideration, and in the interim further proceedings are suspended.

It appearing that so much of the act entitled "An act regulating the staff
of the Army", which passed on April 14, 1818, as relates to the
commissariat will expire in April next, and the practical operation of
that department having evinced its great utility, the propriety of its
renewal is submitted to your consideration.

The view which has been taken of the probable productiveness of the lead
mines, connected with the importance of the material to the public defense,
makes it expedient that they should be managed with peculiar care. It is
therefore suggested whether it will not comport with the public interest to
provide by law for the appointment of an agent skilled in mineralogy to
superintend them, under the direction of the proper department.

It is understood that the Cumberland road, which was constructed at great
expense, has already suffered from the want of that regular superintendence
and of those repairs which are indispensable to the preservation of such a
work. This road is of incalculable advantage in facilitating the
intercourse between the Western and the Atlantic States. Through the whole
country from the northern extremity of Lake Erie to the Mississippi, and
from all the waters which empty into each, finds an easy and direct
communication to the seat of Government, and thence to the Atlantic. The
facility which it affords to all military and commercial operations, and
also to those of the Post Office Department, can not be estimated too
highly. This great work is likewise an ornament and an honor to the

Believing that a competent power to adopt and execute a system of internal
improvement has not been granted to Congress, but that such a power,
confined to great national purposes and with proper limitations, would be
productive of eminent advantage to our Union, I have thought it advisable
that an amendment of the Constitution to that effect should be recommended
to the several States.

A bill which assumed the right to adopt and execute such a system having
been presented for my signature at the last session, I was compelled, from
the view which I had taken of the powers of the General Government, to
negative it, on which occasion I thought it proper to communicate the
sentiments which I had formed, on mature consideration, on the whole
subject. To that communication, in all the views in which the great
interest to which it relates may be supposed to merit your attention, I
have now to refer. Should Congress, however, deem it improper to recommend
such an amendment, they have, according to my judgment, the right to keep
the road in repair by providing for the superintendence of it and
appropriating the money necessary for repairs. Surely if they had the right
to appropriate money to make the road they have a right to appropriate it
to preserve the road from ruin. From the exercise of this power no danger
is to be apprehended.

Under our happy system the people are the sole and exclusive fountain of
power. Each Government originates from them, and to them alone, each to its
proper constituents, are they respectively and solely responsible for the
faithful discharge of their duties within their constitutional limits; and
that the people will confine their public agents of every station to the
strict line of their constitutional duties there is no cause of doubt.

Having, however, communicated my sentiments to Congress at the last session
fully in the document to which I have referred, respecting the right of
appropriation as distinct from the right of jurisdiction and sovereignty
over the territory in question, I deem it improper to enlarge on the
subject here.

From the best information I have been able to obtain it appears that our
manufactures, though depressed immediately after the peace, have
considerably increased, and are still increasing, under the encouragement
given them by the tariff of 1816 and by subsequent laws. Satisfied I am,
whatever may be the abstract doctrine in favor of unrestricted commerce,
provided all nations would concur in it and it was not liable to be
interrupted by war, which has never occurred and can not be expected, that
there are other strong reasons applicable to our situation and relations
with other countries which impose on us the obligation to cherish and
sustain our manufactures.

Satisfied, however, I likewise am that the interest of every part of our
Union, even of those most benefitted by manufactures, requires that this
subject should be touched with the greatest caution, and a critical
knowledge of the effect to be produced by the slightest change. On full
consideration of the subject in all its relations I am persuaded that a
further augmentation may now be made of the duties on certain foreign
articles in favor of our own and without affecting injuriously any other
interest. For more precise details I refer you to the communications which
were made to Congress during the last session.

So great was the amount of accounts for moneys advanced during the late
war, in addition to others of a previous date which in the regular
operations of the Government necessarily remained unsettled, that it
required a considerable length of time for their adjustment. By a report
from the first Comptroller of the Treasury it appears that on March 4th,
1817, the accounts then unsettled amounted to $103,068,876.41, of which on
September 30th, 1822, $93,175,396.56 had been settled, leaving on that day
a balance unsettled of $9,893,479.85. That there have been drawn from the
Treasury, in paying the public debt and sustaining the Government in all
its operations and disbursements, since March 4th, 1817, $157,199,380.96,
the accounts for which have been settled to the amount of $137,501,451.12,
leaving a balance unsettled of $19,697,929.84. For precise details
respecting each of these balances I refer to the report of the Comptroller
and the documents which accompany it.

From this view it appears that our commercial differences with France and
Great Britain have been placed in a train of amicable arrangement on
conditions fair and honorable in both instances to each party; that our
finances are in a very productive state, our revenue being at present fully
competent to all the demands upon it; that our military force is well
organized in all its branches and capable of rendering the most important
service in case of emergency that its number will admit of; that due
progress has been made, under existing appropriations, in the construction
of fortifications and in the operations of the Ordnance Department; that
due progress has in like manner been made in the construction of ships of
war; that our Navy is in the best condition, felt and respected in every
sea in which it is employed for the protection of our commerce; that our
manufactures have augmented in amount and improved in quality; that great
progress has been made in the settlement of accounts and in the recovery of
the balances due by individuals, and that the utmost economy is secured and
observed in every Department of the Administration. Other objects will
likewise claim your attention, because from the station which the United
States hold as a member of the great community of nations they have rights
to maintain, duties to perform, and dangers to encounter.

A strong hope was entertained that peace would ere this have been concluded
between Spain and the independent governments south of the United States in
this hemisphere. Long experience having evinced the competency of those
governments to maintain the independence which they had declared, it was
presumed that the considerations which induced their recognition by the
United States would have had equal weight with other powers, and that Spain
herself, yielding to those magnanimous feelings of which her history
furnishes so many examples, would have terminated on that basis a
controversy so unavailing and at the same time so destructive. We still
cherish the hope that this result will not long be postponed.

Sustaining our neutral position and allowing to each party while the war
continues equal rights, it is incumbent on the United States to claim of
each with equal rigor the faithful observance of our rights according to
the well-known law of nations. From each, therefore, a like cooperation is
expected in the suppression of the piratical practice which has grown out
of this war and of blockades of extensive coasts on both seas, which,
considering the small force employed to sustain them, have not the
slightest foundation to rest on.

Europe is still unsettled, and although the war long menaced between Russia
and Turkey has not broken out, there is no certainty that the differences
between those powers will be amicably adjusted. It is impossible to look to
the oppressions of the country respecting which those differences arose
without being deeply affected. The mention of Greece fills the mind with
the most exalted sentiments and arouses in our bosoms the best feelings of
which our nature is susceptible. Superior skill and refinement in the arts,
heroic gallantry in action, disinterested patriotism, enthusiastic zeal and
devotion in favor of public and personal liberty are associated with our
recollections of ancient Greece. That such a country should have been
overwhelmed and so long hidden, as it were, from the world under a gloomy
despotism has been a cause of unceasing and deep regret to generous minds
for ages past. It was natural, therefore, that the reappearance of those
people in their original character, contending in favor of their liberties,
should produce that great excitement and sympathy in their favor which have
been so signally displayed throughout the United States. A strong hope is
entertained that these people will recover their independence and resume
their equal station among the nations of the earth.

A great effort has been made in Spain and Portugal to improve the condition
of the people, and it must be very consoling to all benevolent minds to see
the extraordinary moderation with which it has been conducted. That it may
promote the happiness of both nations is the ardent wish of this whole
people, to the expression of which we confine ourselves; for whatever may
be the feelings or sentiments which every individual under our Government
has a right to indulge and express, it is nevertheless a sacred maxim,
equally with the Government and people, that the destiny of every
independent nation in what relates to such improvements of right belongs
and ought to be left exclusively to themselves.

Whether we reason from the late wars or from those menacing symptoms which
now appear in Europe, it is manifest that if a convulsion should take place
in any of those countries it will proceed from causes which have no
existence and are utterly unknown in these States, in which there is but
one order, that of the people, to whom the sovereignty exclusively

Should war break out in any of those countries who can foretell the extent
to which it may be carried or the desolation which it may spread? Exempt as
we are from these causes, our internal tranquillity is secure; and distant
as we are from the troubled scene, and faithful to first principles in
regard to other powers, we might reasonably presume that we should not be
molested by them. This, however, ought not to be calculated on as certain.
Unprovoked injuries are often inflicted and even the peculiar felicity of
our situation might with some be a cause for excitement and aggression.

The history of the late wars in Europe furnishes a complete demonstration
that no system of conduct, however correct in principle, can protect
neutral powers from injury from any party; that a defenseless position and
distinguished love of peace are the surest invitations to war, and that
there is no way to avoid it other than by being always prepared and willing
for just cause to meet it. If there be a people on earth whose more
especial duty it is to be at all times prepared to defend the rights with
which they are blessed, and to surpass all others in sustaining the
necessary burthens, and in submitting to sacrifices to make such
preparations, it is undoubtedly the people of these States.

When we see that a civil war of the most frightful character rages from the
Adriatic to the Black Sea; that strong symptoms of war appear in other
parts, proceeding from causes which, should it break out, may become
general and be of long duration; that the war still continues between Spain
and the independent governments, her late Provinces, in this hemisphere;
that it is likewise menaced between Portugal and Brazil, in consequence of
the attempt of the latter to dismember itself from the former, and that a
system of piracy of great extent is maintained in the neighboring seas,
which will require equal vigilance and decision to suppress it, the reasons
for sustaining the attitude which we now hold and for pushing forward all
our measures of defense with the utmost vigor appear to me to acquire new

The United States owe to the world a great example, and, by means thereof,
to the cause of liberty and humanity a generous support. They have so far
succeeded to the satisfaction of the virtuous and enlightened of every
country. There is no reason to doubt that their whole movement will be
regulated by a sacred regard to principle, all our institutions being
founded on that basis. The ability to support our own cause under any trial
to which it may be exposed is the great point on which the public
solicitude rests.

It has been often charged against free governments that they have neither
the foresight nor the virtue to provide at the proper season for great
emergencies; that their course is improvident and expensive; that war will
always find them unprepared, and, whatever may be its calamities, that its
terrible warnings will be disregarded and forgotten as soon as peace
returns. I have full confidence that this charge so far as relates to the
United States will be shewn to be utterly destitute of truth.


State of the Union Address
James Monroe
December 2, 1823

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

Many important subjects will claim your attention during the present
session, of which I shall endeavor to give, in aid of your deliberations, a
just idea in this communication. I undertake this duty with diffidence,
from the vast extent of the interests on which I have to treat and of their
great importance to every portion of our Union. I enter on it with zeal
from a thorough conviction that there never was a period since the
establishment of our Revolution when, regarding the condition of the
civilized world and its bearing on us, there was greater necessity for
devotion in the public servants to their respective duties, or for virtue,
patriotism, and union in our constituents.

Meeting in you a new Congress, I deem it proper to present this view of
public affairs in greater detail than might otherwise be necessary. I do
it, however, with peculiar satisfaction, from a knowledge that in this
respect I shall comply more fully with the sound principles of our

The people being with us exclusively the sovereign, it is indispensable
that full information be laid before them on all important subjects, to
enable them to exercise that high power with complete effect. If kept in
the dark, they must be incompetent to it. We are all liable to error, and
those who are engaged in the management of public affairs are more subject
to excitement and to be led astray by their particular interests and
passions than the great body of our constituents, who, living at home in
the pursuit of their ordinary avocations, are calm but deeply interested
spectators of events and of the conduct of those who are parties to them.

To the people every department of the Government and every individual in
each are responsible, and the more full their information the better they
can judge of the wisdom of the policy pursued and of the conduct of each in
regard to it. From their dispassionate judgment much aid may always be
obtained, while their approbation will form the greatest incentive and most
gratifying reward for virtuous actions, and the dread of their censure the
best security against the abuse of their confidence. Their interests in all
vital questions are the same, and the bond, by sentiment as well as by
interest, will be proportionably strengthened as they are better informed
of the real state of public affairs, especially in difficult conjunctures.
It is by such knowledge that local prejudices and jealousies are
surmounted, and that a national policy extending its fostering care and
protection to all the great interests of our Union, is formed and steadily
adhered to.

A precise knowledge of our relations with foreign powers as respects our
negotiations and transactions with each is thought to be particularly
necessary. Equally necessary is it that we should form a just estimate of
our resources, revenue, and progress in every kind of improvement connected
with the national prosperity and public defense. It is by rendering justice
to other nations that we may expect it from them. It is by our ability to
resent injuries and redress wrongs that we may avoid them.

The commissioners under the 5th article of the treaty of Ghent, having
disagreed in their opinions respecting that portion of the boundary between
the Territories of the United States and of Great Britain the establishment
of which had been submitted to them, have made their respective reports in
compliance with that article, that the same might be referred to the
decision of a friendly power. It being manifest, however, that it would be
difficult, if not impossible, for any power to perform that office without
great delay and much inconvenience to itself, a proposal has been made by
this Government, and acceded to by that of Great Britain, to endeavor to
establish that boundary by amicable negotiation.

It appearing from long experience that no satisfactory arrangement could be
formed of the commercial intercourse between the United States and the
British colonies in this hemisphere by legislative acts while each party
pursued its own course without agreement or concert with the other, a
proposal has been made to the British Government to regulate this commerce
by treaty, as it has been to arrange in like manner the just claim of the
citizens of the United States inhabiting the States and Territories
bordering on the lakes and rivers which empty into the St. Lawrence to the
navigation of that river to the ocean. For these and other objects of high
importance to the interests of both parties a negotiation has been opened
with the British Government which it is hoped will have a satisfactory

The commissioners under the 6th and 7th articles of the treaty of Ghent
having successfully closed their labors in relation to the 6th, have
proceeded to the discharge of those relating to the 7th. Their progress in
the extensive survey required for the performance of their duties justifies
the presumption that it will be completed in the ensuing year.

The negotiation which had been long depending with the French Government on
several important subjects, and particularly for a just indemnity for
losses sustained in the late wars by the citizens of the United States
under unjustifiable seizures and confiscations of their property, has not
as yet had the desired effect. As this claim rests on the same principle
with others which have been admitted by the French Government, it is not
perceived on what just ground it can be rejected. A minister will be
immediately appointed to proceed to France and resume the negotiation on
this and other subjects which may arise between the two nations.

At the proposal of the Russian Imperial Government, made through the
minister of the Emperor residing here, a full power and instructions have
been transmitted to the minister of the United States at St. Petersburg to
arrange by amicable negotiation the respective rights and interests of the
two nations on the North West coast of this continent. A similar proposal
had been made by His Imperial Majesty to the Government of Great Britain,
which has likewise been acceded to. The Government of the United States has
been desirous by this friendly proceeding of manifesting the great value
which they have invariably attached to the friendship of the Emperor and
their solicitude to cultivate the best understanding with his Government.
In the discussions to which this interest has given rise and in the
arrangements by which they may terminate the occasion has been judged
proper for asserting, as a principle in which the rights and interests of
the United States are involved, that the American continents, by the free
and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are
henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any
European powers.

Since the close of the last session of Congress the commissioners and
arbitrators for ascertaining and determining the amount of indemnification
which may be due to citizens of the United States under the decision of His
Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Russia, in conformity to the convention
concluded at St. Petersburg on July 12th, 1822, have assembled in this
city, and organized themselves as a board for the performance of the
duties assigned to them by that treaty. The commission constituted under
the 11th article of the treaty of February 22nd, 1819, between the United
States and Spain is also in session here, and as the term of three years
limited by the treaty for the execution of the trust will expire before
the period of the next regular meeting of Congress, the attention of the
Legislature will be drawn to the measures which may be necessary to
accomplish the objects for which the commission was instituted.

In compliance with a resolution of the House of Representatives adopted at
their last session, instructions have been given to all the ministers of
the United States accredited to the powers of Europe and America to propose
the proscription of the African slave trade by classing it under the
denomination, and inflicting on its perpetrators the punishment, of piracy.
Should this proposal be acceded to, it is not doubted that this odious and
criminal practice will be promptly and entirely suppressed. It is earnestly
hoped that it will be acceded to, from the firm belief that it is the most
effectual expedient that can be adopted for the purpose.

At the commencement of the recent war between France and Spain it was
declared by the French Government that it would grant no commissions to
privateers, and that neither the commerce of Spain herself nor of neutral
nations should be molested by the naval force of France, except in the
breach of a lawful blockade. This declaration, which appears to have been
faithfully carried into effect, concurring with principles proclaimed and
cherished by the United States from the first establishment of their
independence, suggested the hope that the time had arrived when the
proposal for adopting it as a permanent and invariable rule in all future
maritime wars might meet the favorable consideration of the great European
powers. Instructions have accordingly been given to our ministers with
France, Russia, and Great Britain to make those proposals to their
respective Governments, and when the friends of humanity reflect on the
essential amelioration to the condition of the human race which would
result from the abolition of private war on the sea and on the great
facility by which it might be accomplished, requiring only the consent of a
few sovereigns, an earnest hope is indulged that these overtures will meet
with an attention animated by the spirit in which they were made, and that
they will ultimately be successful.

The ministers who were appointed to the Republics of Colombia and Buenos
Ayres during the last session of Congress proceeded shortly afterwards to
their destinations. Of their arrival there official intelligence has not
yet been received. The minister appointed to the Republic of Chile will
sail in a few days. An early appointment will also be made to Mexico. A
minister has been received from Colombia, and the other Governments have
been informed that ministers, or diplomatic agents of inferior grade, would
be received from each, accordingly as they might prefer the one or the

The minister appointed to Spain proceeded soon after his appointment for
Cadiz, the residence of the Sovereign to whom he was accredited. In
approaching that port the frigate which conveyed him was warned off by the
commander of the French squadron by which it was blockaded and not
permitted to enter, although apprised by the captain of the frigate of the
public character of the person whom he had on board, the landing of whom
was the sole object of his proposed entry. This act, being considered an
infringement of the rights of ambassadors and of nations, will form a just
cause of complaint to the Government of France against the officer by whom
it was committed.

The actual condition of the public finances more than realizes the
favorable anticipations that were entertained of it at the opening of the
last session of Congress. On the first of January there was a balance in
the Treasury of $4,237,427.55. From that time to the 30th of September the
receipts amounted to upward of $16.1 millions, and the expenditures to
$11.4 millions. During the 4th quarter of the year it is estimated that
the receipts will at least equal the expenditures, and that there will
remain in the Treasury on the first day of January next a surplus of
nearly $9 millions.

On January 1st, 1825, a large amount of the war debt and a part of the
Revolutionary debt become redeemable. Additional portions of the former
will continue to become redeemable annually until the year 1835. it is
believed, however, that if the United States remain at peace the whole of
that debt may be redeemed by the ordinary revenue of those years during
that period under the provision of the act of March 3rd, 1817, creating the
sinking fund, and in that case the only part of the debt that will remain
after the year 1835 will be the $7 millions of 5% stock subscribed to the
Bank of the United States, and the 3% Revolutionary debt, amounting to
$13,296,099.06, both of which are redeemable at the pleasure of the

The state of the Army in its organization and discipline has been gradually
improving for several years, and has now attained a high degree of
perfection. The military disbursements have been regularly made and the
accounts regularly and promptly rendered for settlement. The supplies of
various descriptions have been of good quality, and regularly issued at all
of the posts. A system of economy and accountability has been introduced
into every branch of the service which admits of little additional
improvement. This desirable state has been attained by the act reorganizing
the staff of the Army, passed on April 14th, 1818.

The moneys appropriated for fortifications have been regularly and
economically applied, and all the works advanced as rapidly as the amount
appropriated would admit. Three important works will be completed in the
course of this year--that is, Fort Washington, Fort Delaware, and the
fort at the Rigolets, in Louisiana.

The Board of Engineers and the Topographical Corps have been in constant
and active service in surveying the coast and projecting the works
necessary for its defense.

The Military Academy has attained a degree of perfection in its discipline
and instruction equal, as is believed, to any institution of its kind in
any country.

The money appropriated for the use of the Ordnance Department has been
regularly and economically applied. The fabrication of arms at the national
armories and by contract with the Department has been gradually improving
in quality and cheapness. It is believed that their quality is now such as
to admit of but little improvement.

The completion of the fortifications renders it necessary that there should
be a suitable appropriation for the purpose of fabricating the cannon and
carriages necessary for those works.

Under the appropriation of $5,000 for exploring the Western waters for the
location of a site for a Western armory, a commission was constituted,
consisting of Colonel McRee, Colonel Lee, and Captain Talcott, who have
been engaged in exploring the country. They have not yet reported the
result of their labors, but it is believed that they will be prepared to do
it at an early part of the session of Congress.

During the month of June last General Ashley and his party, who were
trading under a license from the Government, were attacked by the Ricarees
while peaceably trading with the Indians at their request. Several of the
party were killed and wounded and their property taken or destroyed.

Colonel Leavenworth, who commanded Fort Atkinson, at the Council Bluffs,
the most western post, apprehending that the hostile spirit of the Ricarees
would extend to other tribes in that quarter, and that thereby the lives of
the traders on the Missouri and the peace of the frontier would be
endangered, took immediate measures to check the evil.

With a detachment of the regiment stationed at the Bluffs he successfully
attacked the Ricaree village, and it is hoped that such an impression has
been made on them as well as on the other tribes on the Missouri as will
prevent a recurrence of future hostility.

The report of the Secretary of War, which is herewith transmitted, will
exhibit in greater detail the condition of the Department in its various
branches, and the progress which has been made in its administration during
the three first quarters of the year.

I transmit a return of the militia of the several States according to the
last reports which have been made by the proper officers in each to the
Department of War. By reference to this return it will be seen that it is
not complete, although great exertions have been made to make it so. As the
defense and even the liberties of the country must depend in times of
imminent danger on the militia, it is of the highest importance that it be
well organized, armed, and disciplined throughout the Union.

The report of the Secretary of War shews the progress made during the three
first quarters of the present year by the application of the fund
appropriated for arming the militia. Much difficulty is found in
distributing the arms according to the act of Congress providing for it
from the failure of the proper departments in many of the States to make
regular returns. The act of May 12, 1820 provides that the system of
tactics and regulations of the various corps of the Regular Army shall be
extended to the militia. This act has been very imperfectly executed from
the want of uniformity in the organization of the militia, proceeding from
the defects of the system itself, and especially in its application to that
main arm of the public defense. It is thought that this important subject
in all its branches merits the attention of Congress.

The report of the Secretary of the Navy, which is now communicated,
furnishes an account of the administration of that Department for the three
first quarters of the present year, with the progress made in augmenting
the Navy, and the manner in which the vessels in commission have been

The usual force has been maintained in the Mediterranean Sea, the Pacific
Ocean, and along the Atlantic coast, and has afforded the necessary
protection to our commerce in those seas.

In the West Indies and the Gulf of Mexico our naval force has been
augmented by the addition of several small vessels provided for by the "act
authorizing an additional naval force for the suppression of piracy",
passed by Congress at their last session. That armament has been eminently
successful in the accomplishment of its object. The piracies by which our
commerce in the neighborhood of the island of Cuba had been afflicted have
been repressed and the confidence of our merchants in a great measure

The patriotic zeal and enterprise of Commodore Porter, to whom the command
of the expedition was confided, has been fully seconded by the officers and
men under his command. And in reflecting with high satisfaction on the
honorable manner in which they have sustained the reputation of their
country and its Navy, the sentiment is alloyed only by a concern that in
the fulfillment of that arduous service the diseases incident to the season
and to the climate in which it was discharged have deprived the nation of
many useful lives, and among them of several officers of great promise.

In the month of August a very malignant fever made its appearance at
Thompsons Island, which threatened the destruction of our station there.
Many perished, and the commanding officer was severely attacked. Uncertain
as to his fate and knowing that most of the medical officers had been
rendered incapable of discharging their duties, it was thought expedient to
send to that post an officer of rank and experience, with several skilled
surgeons, to ascertain the origin of the fever and the probability of its
recurrence there in future seasons; to furnish every assistance to those
who were suffering, and, if practicable, to avoid the necessity of
abandoning so important a station. Commodore Rodgers, with a promptitude
which did him honor, cheerfully accepted that trust, and has discharged it
in the manner anticipated from his skill and patriotism. Before his arrival
Commodore Porter, with the greater part of the squadron, had removed from
the island and returned to the United States in consequence of the
prevailing sickness. Much useful information has, however, been obtained as
to the state of the island and great relief afforded to those who had been
necessarily left there.

Although our expedition, cooperating with an invigorated administration of
the government of the island of Cuba, and with the corresponding active
exertions of a British naval force in the same seas, have almost entirely
destroyed the unlicensed piracies from that island, the success of our
exertions has not been equally effectual to suppress the same crime, under
other pretenses and colors, in the neighboring island of Porto Rico. They
have been committed there under the abusive issue of Spanish commissions.

At an early period of the present year remonstrances were made to the
governor of that island, by an agent who was sent for the purpose, against
those outrages on the peaceful commerce of the United States, of which many
had occurred. That officer, professing his own want of authority to make
satisfaction for our just complaints, answered only by a reference of them
to the Government of Spain. The minister of the United States to that court
was specially instructed to urge the necessity of immediate and effectual
interposition of that Government, directing restitution and indemnity for
wrongs already committed and interdicting the repetition of them. The
minister, as has been seen, was debarred access to the Spanish Government,
and in the mean time several new cases of flagrant outrage have occurred,
and citizens of the United States in the island of Porto Rico have
suffered, and others been threatened with assassination for asserting their
unquestionable rights even before the lawful tribunals of the country.

The usual orders have been given to all our public ships to seize American
vessels in the slave trade and bring them in for adjudication, and I have
the gratification to state that not one so employed has been discovered,
and there is good reason to believe that our flag is now seldom, if at all,
disgraced by that traffic.

It is a source of great satisfaction that we are always enabled to recur to
the conduct of our Navy with price and commendation. As a means of national
defense it enjoys the public confidence, and is steadily assuming
additional importance. It is submitted whether a more efficient and equally
economical organization of it might not in several respects be effected. It
is supposed that higher grades than now exist by law would be useful. They
would afford well-merited rewards to those who have long and faithfully
served their country, present the best incentives to good conduct, and the
best means of insuring a proper discipline; destroy the inequality in that
respect between military and naval services, and relieve our officers from
many inconveniences and mortifications which occur when our vessels meet
those of other nations, ours being the only service in which such grades do
not exist.

A report of the Post Master-General, which accompanies this communication,
will shew the present state of the Post-Office Department and its general
operations for some years past.

There is established by law 88,600 miles of post roads, on which the mail
is now transported 85,700 miles, and contracts have been made for its
transportation on all the established routes, with one or two exceptions.
There are 5,240 post offices in the Union, and as many post masters. The
gross amount of postage which accrued from July 1st, 1822 to July 1st,
1823 was $1,114,345.12. During the same period the expenditures of the
Post-Office Department amounted to $1,169,885.51 and consisted of the
following items, viz: Compensation to post masters, $353,995.98;
incidental expenses, $30,866.37; transportation of the mail, $784,600.08;
payments into the Treasury, $423.08. On the first of July last there was
due to the Department from post masters $135,245.28; from late post
masters and contractors, $256,749.31; making a total amount of balances
due to the Department of $391,994.59.

These balances embrace all delinquencies of post masters and contractors
which have taken place since the organization of the Department. There was
due by the Department to contractors on the first of July last $26,548.64.

The transportation of the mail within five years past has been greatly
extended, and the expenditures of the Department proportionably increased.
Although the postage which has accrued within the last three years has
fallen short of the expenditures $262,821.46, it appears that collections
have been made from the outstanding balances to meet the principal part of
the current demands.

It is estimated that not more than $250,000 of the above balances can be
collected, and that a considerable part of this sum can only be realized by
a resort to legal process. Some improvements in the receipts for postage is
expected. A prompt attention to the collection of moneys received by post
masters, it is believed, will enable the Department to continue its
operations without aid from the Treasury, unless the expenditures shall be
increased by the establishment of new mail routes.

A revision of some parts of the post office law may be necessary; and it is
submitted whether it would not be proper to provide for the appointment of
post masters, where the compensation exceeds a certain amount, by
nomination to the Senate, as other officers of the General Government are

Having communicated my views to Congress at the commencement of the last
session respecting the encouragement which ought to be given to our
manufactures and the principle on which it should be founded, I have only
to add that those views remain unchanged, and that the present state of
those countries with which we have the most immediate political relations
and greatest commercial intercourse tends to confirm them. Under this
impression I recommend a review of the tariff for the purpose of affording
such additional protection to those articles which we are prepared to
manufacture, or which are more immediately connected with the defense and
independence of the country.

The actual state of the public accounts furnishes additional evidence of
the efficiency of the present system of accountability in relation to the
public expenditure. Of the moneys drawn from the Treasury since
March 4th, 1817, the sum remaining unaccounted for on the 30th of September
last is more than $1.5 millions less than on the 30th of September
preceding; and during the same period a reduction of nearly $1 million
has been made in the amount of the unsettled accounts for moneys advanced
previously to March 4th, 1817. It will be obvious that in proportion as
the mass of accounts of the latter description is diminished by settlement
the difficulty of settling the residue is increased from the consideration
that in many instances it can be obtained only by legal process. For more
precise details on this subject I refer to a report from the first
Comptroller of the Treasury.

The sum which was appropriated at the last session for the repairs of the
Cumberland road has been applied with good effect to that object. A final
report has not been received from the agent who was appointed to
superintend it. As soon as it is received it shall be communicated to

Many patriotic and enlightened citizens who have made the subject an object
of particular investigation have suggested an improvement of still greater
importance. They are of the opinion that the waters of the Chesapeake and
Ohio may be connected together by one continued canal, and at an expense
far short of the value and importance of the object to be obtained. If this
could be accomplished it is impossible to calculate the beneficial
consequences which would result from it.

A great portion of the produce of the very fertile country through which it
would pass would find a market through that channel. Troops might be moved
with great facility in war, with cannon and every kind of munition, and in
either direction. Connecting the Atlantic with the Western country in a
line passing through the seat of the National Government, it would
contribute essentially to strengthen the bond of union itself.

Believing as I do that Congress possess the right to appropriate money for
such a national object (the jurisdiction remaining to the States through
which the canal would pass), I submit it to your consideration whether it
may not be advisable to authorize by an adequate appropriation the
employment of a suitable number of the officers of the Corps of Engineers
to examine the unexplored ground during the next season and to report their
opinion thereon. It will likewise be proper to extend their examination to
the several routes through which the waters of the Ohio may be connected by
canals with those of Lake Erie.

As the Cumberland road will require annual repairs, and Congress have not
thought it expedient to recommend to the States an amendment to the
Constitution for the purpose of vesting in the United States a power to
adopt and execute a system of internal improvement, it is also submitted to
your consideration whether it may not be expedient to authorize the
Executive to enter into an arrangement with the several States through
which the road passes to establish tolls, each within its limits, for the
purpose of defraying the expense of future repairs and of providing also by
suitable penalties for its protection against future injuries.

The act of Congress of May 7th, 1822, appropriated the sum of $22,700 for
the purpose of erecting two piers as a shelter for vessels from ice near
Cape Henlopen, Delaware Bay. To effect the object of the act the officers
of the Board of Engineers, with Commodore Bainbridge, were directed to
prepare plans and estimates of piers sufficient to answer the purpose
intended by the act. It appears by their report, which accompanies the
documents from the War Department, that the appropriation is not adequate
to the purpose intended; and as the piers would be of great service both to
the navigation of the Delaware Bay and the protection of vessels on the
adjacent parts of the coast, I submit for the consideration of Congress
whether additional and sufficient appropriations should not be made.

The Board of Engineers were also directed to examine and survey the
entrance of the harbor of the port of Presqu'isle, in Pennsylvania, in
order to make an estimate of the expense of removing the obstructions
to the entrance, with a plan of the best mode of effecting the same, under
the appropriation for that purpose by act of Congress passed 3rd of March
last. The report of the Board accompanies the papers from the War
Department, and is submitted for the consideration of Congress.

A strong hope has been long entertained, founded on the heroic struggle of
the Greeks, that they would succeed in their contest and resume their equal
station among the nations of the earth. It is believed that the whole
civilized world take a deep interest in their welfare. Although no power
has declared in their favor, yet none according to our information, has
taken part against them. Their cause and their name have protected them
from dangers which might ere this have overwhelmed any other people. The
ordinary calculations of interest and of acquisition with a view to
aggrandizement, which mingles so much in the transactions of nations, seem
to have had no effect in regard to them. From the facts which have come to
our knowledge there is good cause to believe that their enemy has lost
forever all dominion over them; that Greece will become again an
independent nation. That she may obtain that rank is the object of our most
ardent wishes.

It was stated at the commencement of the last session that a great effort
was then making in Spain and Portugal to improve the condition of the
people of those countries, and that it appeared to be conducted with
extraordinary moderation. It need scarcely be remarked that the result has
been so far very different from what was then anticipated. Of events in
that quarter of the globe, with which we have so much intercourse and from
which we derive our origin, we have always been anxious and interested

The citizens of the United States cherish sentiments the most friendly in
favor of the liberty and happiness of their fellow men on that side of the
Atlantic. In the wars of the European powers in matters relating to
themselves we have never taken any part, nor does it comport with our
policy so to do.

It is only when our rights are invaded or seriously menaced that we resent
injuries or make preparation for our defense. With the movements in this
hemisphere we are of necessity more immediately connected, and by causes
which must be obvious to all enlightened and impartial observers.

The political system of the allied powers is essentially different in this
respect from that of America. This difference proceeds from that which
exists in their respective Governments; and to the defense of our own,
which has been achieved by the loss of so much blood and treasure, and
matured by the wisdom of their most enlightened citizens, and under which
we have enjoyed unexampled felicity, this whole nation is devoted.

We owe it, therefore, to candor and to the amicable relations existing
between the United States and those powers to declare that we should
consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of
this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing
colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered and
shall not interfere, but with the Governments who have declared their
independence and maintained it, and whose independence we have, on great
consideration and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any
interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any
other manner their destiny, by any European power in any other light than
as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United

In the war between those new Governments and Spain we declared our
neutrality at the time of their recognition, and to this we have adhered,
and shall continue to adhere, provided no change shall occur which, in the
judgment of the competent authorities of this Government, shall make a
corresponding change on the part of the United States indispensable to
their security.

The late events in Spain and Portugal shew that Europe is still unsettled.
Of this important fact no stronger proof can be adduced than that the
allied powers should have thought it proper, on any principle satisfactory
to themselves, to have interposed by force in the internal concerns of
Spain. To what extent such interposition may be carried, on the same
principle, is a question in which all independent powers whose governments
differ from theirs are interested, even those most remote, and surely none
more so than the United States.

Our policy in regard to Europe, which was adopted at an early stage of the
wars which have so long agitated that quarter of the globe, nevertheless
remains the same, which is, not to interfere in the internal concerns of
any of its powers; to consider the government de facto as the legitimate
government for us; to cultivate friendly relations with it, and to preserve
those relations by a frank, firm, and manly policy, meeting in all
instances the just claims of every power, submitting to injuries from

But in regard to those continents circumstances are eminently and
conspicuously different. It is impossible that the allied powers should
extend their political system to any portion of either continent without
endangering our peace and happiness; nor can anyone believe that our
southern brethren, if left to themselves, would adopt it of their own
accord. It is equally impossible, therefore, that we should behold such
interposition in any form with indifference. If we look to the comparative
strength and resources of Spain and those new Governments, and their
distance from each other, it must be obvious that she can never subdue
them. It is still the true policy of the United States to leave the parties
to themselves, in the hope that other powers will pursue the same course.

If we compare the present condition of our Union with its actual state at
the close of our Revolution, the history of the world furnishes no example
of a progress in improvement in all the important circumstances which
constitute the happiness of a nation which bears any resemblance to it. At
the first epoch our population did not exceed 3,000,000. By the last census
it amounted to about 10,000,000, and, what is more extraordinary, it is
almost altogether native, for the immigration from other countries has been

At the first epoch half the territory within our acknowledged limits was
uninhabited and a wilderness. Since then new territory has been acquired of
vast extent, comprising within it many rivers, particularly the
Mississippi, the navigation of which to the ocean was of the highest
importance to the original States. Over this territory our population has
expanded in every direction, and new States have been established almost
equal in number to those which formed the first bond of our Union. This
expansion of our population and accession of new States to our Union have
had the happiest effect on all its highest interests.

That it has eminently augmented our resources and added to our strength and
respectability as a power is admitted by all, but it is not in these
important circumstances only that this happy effect is felt. It is manifest
that by enlarging the basis of our system and increasing the number of
States the system itself has been greatly strengthened in both its
branches. Consolidation and disunion have thereby been rendered equally

Each Government, confiding in its own strength, has less to apprehend from
the other, and in consequence each, enjoying a greater freedom of action,
is rendered more efficient for all the purposes for which it was

It is unnecessary to treat here of the vast improvement made in the system
itself by the adoption of this Constitution and of its happy effect in
elevating the character and in protecting the rights of the nation as well
as individuals. To what, then, do we owe these blessings? It is known to
all that we derive them from the excellence of our institutions. Ought we
not, then, to adopt every measure which may be necessary to perpetuate


State of the Union Address
James Monroe
December 7, 1824

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

The view which I have now to present to you of our affairs, foreign and
domestic, realizes the most sanguine anticipations which have been
entertained of the public prosperity. If we look to the whole, our growth
as a nation continues to be rapid beyond example; if to the States which
compose it, the same gratifying spectacle is exhibited. Our expansion over
the vast territory within our limits has been great, without indicating any
decline in those sections from which the emigration has been most
conspicuous. We have daily gained strength by a native population in every
quarter--a population devoted to our happy system of government and
cherishing the bond of union with internal affection.

Experience has already shewn that the difference of climate and of
industry, proceeding from that cause, inseparable from such vast domains,
and which under other systems might have a repulsive tendency, can not fail
to produce with us under wise regulations the opposite effect. What one
portion wants the other may supply; and this will be most sensibly felt by
the parts most distant from each other, forming thereby a domestic market
and an active intercourse between the extremes and throughout every portion
of our Union.

Thus by a happy distribution of power between the National and State
Governments, Governments which rest exclusively on the sovereignty of the
people and are fully adequate to the great purposes for which they were
respectively instituted, causes which might otherwise lead to dismemberment
operate powerfully to draw us closer together.

In every other circumstance a correct view of the actual state of our Union
must be equally gratifying to our constituents. Our relations with foreign
powers are of a friendly character, although certain interesting
differences remain unsettled with some. Our revenue under the mild system
of impost and tonnage continues to be adequate to all the purposes of the
Government. Our agriculture, commerce, manufactures, and navigation
flourish. Our fortifications are advancing in the degree authorized by
existing appropriations to maturity, and due progress is made in the
augmentation of the Navy to the limit prescribed for it by law. For these
blessings we owe to Almighty God, from whom we derive them, and with
profound reverence, our most grateful and unceasing acknowledgments.

In adverting to our relations with foreign powers, which are always an
object of the highest importance, I have to remark that of the subjects
which have been brought into discussion with them during the present
Administration some have been satisfactorily terminated, others have been
suspended, to be resumed hereafter under circumstances more favorable to
success, and others are still in negotiation, with the hope that they may
be adjusted with mutual accommodation to the interests and to the
satisfaction of the respective parties. It has been the invariable object
of this Government to cherish the most friendly relations with every power,
and on principles and conditions which might make them permanent. A
systematic effort has been made to place our commerce with each power on a
footing of perfect reciprocity, to settle with each in a spirit of candor
and liberality all existing differences, and to anticipate and remove so
far as it might be practicable all causes of future variance.

It having been stipulated by the 7th article of the convention of
navigation and commerce which was concluded on June 24th, 1822, between the
United States and France, that the said convention should continue in force
for two years from the first of October of that year, and for an indefinite
term afterwards, unless one of the parties should declare its intention to
renounce it, in which event it should cease to operate at the end of six
months from such declaration, and no such intention having been announced,
the convention having been found advantageous to both parties, it has since
remained, and still remains, in force.

At the time when that convention was concluded many interesting subjects
were left unsettled, and particularly our claim to indemnity for
spoliations which were committed on our commerce in the late wars. For
these interests and claims it was in the contemplation of the parties to
make provision at a subsequent day by a more comprehensive and definitive
treaty. The object has been duly attended to since by the Executive, but as
yet it has not been accomplished.

It is hoped that a favorable opportunity will present itself for opening a
negotiation which may embrace and arrange all existing differences and
every other concern in which they have a common interest upon the accession
of the present King of France, an event which has occurred since the close
of the last session of Congress.

With Great Britain our commercial intercourse rests on the same footing
that it did at the last session. By the convention of 1815, the commerce
between the United States and the British dominions in Europe and the East
Indies was arranged on a principle of reciprocity. That convention was
confirmed and continued in force, with slight exceptions, by a subsequent
treaty for the term of ten years from October 20th, 1818, the date of
the latter.

The trade with the British colonies in the West Indies has not as yet been
arranged, by treaty or otherwise, to our satisfaction. An approach to that
result has been made by legislative acts, whereby many serious impediments
which had been raised by the parties in defense of their respective claims
were removed. An earnest desire exists, and has been manifested on the part
of this Government, to place the commerce with the colonies, likewise, on a
footing of reciprocal advantage, and it is hoped that the British
Government, seeing the justice of the proposal and its importance to the
colonies, will ere long accede to it.

The commissioners who were appointed for the adjustment of the boundary
between the territories of the United States and those of Great Britain,
specified in the 5th article of the treaty of Ghent, having disagreed in
their decision, and both Governments having agreed to establish that
boundary by amicable negotiation between them, it is hoped that it may be
satisfactorily adjusted in that mode. The boundary specified by the 6th
article has been established by the decision of the commissioners. From the
progress made in that provided for by the 7th, according to a report
recently received, there is good cause to presume that it will be settled
in the course of the ensuing year.

It is a cause of serious regret that no arrangement has yet been finally
concluded between the two Governments to secure by joint cooperation the
suppression of the slave trade. It was the object of the British Government
in the early stages of the negotiation to adopt a plan for the suppression
which should include the concession of the mutual right of search by the
ships of war of each party of the vessels of the other for suspected
offenders. This was objected to by this Government on the principle that as
the right of search was a right of war of a belligerent toward a neutral
power it might have an ill effect to extend it by treaty, to an offense
which had been made comparatively mild, to a time of peace.

Anxious, however, for the suppression of this trade, it was thought
advisable, in compliance with a resolution of the House of Representatives,
founded on an act of Congress, to propose to the British Government an
expedient which should be free from that objection and more effectual for
the object, by making it piratical. In that mode the enormity of the crime
would place the offenders out of the protection of their Government, and
involve no question of search or other question between the parties
touching their respective rights. It was believed, also, that it would
completely suppress the trade in the vessels of both parties, and by their
respective citizens and subjects in those of other powers, with whom it was
hoped that the odium which would thereby be attached to it would produce a
corresponding arrangement, and by means thereof its entire extirpation

A convention to this effect was concluded and signed in London on
March 13th, 1824, by plenipotentiaries duly authorized by both
Governments, to the ratification of which certain obstacles have arisen
which are not yet entirely removed. The difference between the parties
still remaining has been reduced to a point not of sufficient magnitude,
as is presumed, to be permitted to defeat an object so near to the heart
of both nations and so desirable to the friends of humanity throughout
the world. As objections, however, to the principle recommended by the
House of Representatives, or at least to the consequences inseparable
from it, and which are understood to apply to the law, have been raised,
which may deserve a reconsideration of the whole subject, I have thought
it proper to suspend the conclusion of a new convention until the
definitive sentiments of Congress may be ascertained. The documents
relating to the negotiation are with that intent submitted to your

Our commerce with Sweden has been placed on a footing of perfect
reciprocity by treaty, and with Russia, the Netherlands, Prussia, the free
Hanseatic cities, the Dukedom of Oldenburg, and Sardinia by internal
regulations on each side, founded on mutual agreement between the
respective Governments.

The principles upon which the commercial policy of the United States is
founded are to be traced to an early period. They are essentially connected
with those upon which their independence was declared, and owe their origin
to the enlightened men who took the lead in our affairs at that important
epoch. They are developed in their first treaty of commerce with France of
February 6th, 1778, and by a formal commission which was instituted
Immediately after the conclusion of their Revolutionary struggle, for the
purpose of negotiating treaties of commerce with every European power. The
first treaty of the United States with Prussia, which was negotiated by
that commission, affords a signal illustration of those principles. The act
of Congress of March 3rd, 1815, adopted immediately after the return of a
general peace, was a new overture to foreign nations to establish our
commercial relations with them on the basis of free and equal reciprocity.
That principle has pervaded all the acts of Congress and all the
negotiations of the Executive on the subject.

A convention for the settlement of important questions in relation to the
North West coast of this continent and its adjoining seas was concluded and
signed at St. Petersburg on the 5th day of April last by the minister
plenipotentiary of the United States and plenipotentiaries of the Imperial
Government of Russia. It will immediately be laid before the Senate for the
exercise of the constitutional authority of that body with reference to its
ratification. It is proper to add that the manner in which this negotiation
was invited and conducted on the part of the Emperor has been very

The great and extraordinary changes which have happened in the Governments
of Spain and Portugal within the last two years, without seriously
affecting the friendly relations which under all of them have been
maintained with those powers by the United States, have been obstacles to
the adjustment of the particular subjects of discussion which have arisen
with each. A resolution of the Senate adopted at their last session called
for information as to the effect produced upon our relations with Spain by
the recognition on the part of the United States of the independent South
American Governments. The papers containing that information are now
communicated to Congress.

A charge d'affaires has been received from the independent Government of
Brazil. That country, heretofore a colonial possession of Portugal, had
some years since been proclaimed by the Sovereign of Portugal himself an
independent Kingdom. Since his return to Lisbon a revolution in Brazil has
established a new Government there with an imperial title, at the head of
which is placed a prince, in whom the regency had been vested by the King
at the time of his departure. There is reason to expect that by amicable
negotiation the independence of Brazil will ere long be recognized by
Portugal herself.

With the remaining powers of Europe, with those on the coast of Barbary,
and with all the new South American States our relations are of a friendly
character. We have ministers plenipotentiary residing with the Republics of
Colombia and Chile, and have received ministers of the same rank from
Columbia, Guatemala, Buenos Ayres, and Mexico. Our commercial relations
with all those States are mutually beneficial and increasing. With the
Republic of Colombia a treaty of commerce has been formed, of which a copy
is received and the original daily expected. A negotiation for a like
treaty would have been commenced with Buenos Ayres had it not been
prevented by the indisposition and lamented decease of Mr. Rodney, our
minister there, and to whose memory the most respectful attention has been
shewn by the Government of that Republic. An advantageous alteration in our
treaty with Tunis has been obtained by our consular agent residing there,
the official document of which when received will be laid before the

The attention of the Government has been drawn with great solicitude to
other subjects, and particularly to that relating to a state of maritime
war, involving the relative rights of neutral and belligerent in such wars.
Most of the difficulties which we have experienced and of the losses which
we have sustained since the establishment of our independence have
proceeded from the unsettled state of those rights and the extent to which
the belligerent claim has been carried against the neutral party.

It is impossible to look back on the occurrences of the late wars in
Europe, and to behold the disregard which was paid to our rights as a
neutral power, and the waste which was made of our commerce by the parties
to those wars by various acts of their respective Governments, and under
the pretext by each that the other had set the example, without great
mortification and a fixed purpose never to submit to the like in future. An
attempt to remove those causes of possible variance by friendly negotiation
and on just principles which should be applicable to all parties could, it
was presumed, be viewed by none other than as a proof of an earnest desire
to preserve those relations with every power.

In the late war between France and Spain a crisis occurred in which it
seemed probable that all controvertible principles involved in such wars
might be brought into discussion and settled to the satisfaction of all
parties. Propositions having this object in view have been made to the
Governments of Great Britain, France, Russia, and of other powers, which
have been received in a friendly manner by all, but as yet no treaty has
been formed with either for its accomplishment. The policy will, it is
presumed, be persevered in, and in the hope that it may be successful.

It will always be recollected that with one of the parties to those wars
and from whom we received those injuries, we sought redress by war. From
the other, by whose then reigning Government our vessels were seized in
port as well as at sea and their cargoes confiscated, indemnity has been
expected, but has not yet been rendered. It was under the influence of the
latter that our vessels were likewise seized by the Governments of Spain,
Holland, Denmark, Sweden, and Naples, and from whom indemnity has been
claimed and is still expected, with the exception of Spain, by whom it has
been rendered.

With both parties we had abundant cause of war, but we had no alternative
but to resist that which was most powerful at sea and pressed us nearest at
home. With this all differences were settled by a treaty, founded on
conditions fair and honorable to both, and which has been so far executed
with perfect good faith. It has been earnestly hoped that the other would
of its own accord, and from a sentiment of justice and conciliation, make
to our citizens the indemnity to which they are entitled, and thereby
remove from our relations any just cause of discontent on our side.

It is estimated that the receipts into the Treasury during the current
year, exclusive of loans, will exceed $18.5 millions, which, with the
sum remaining in the Treasury at the end of the last year, amounting
to $9,463,922.81 will, after discharging the current disbursements of
the year, the interest on the public debt, and upward of $11,633,011.52
of the principal, leave a balance of more than $3 millions in the Treasury
on the first day of January next.

A larger amount of the debt contracted during the late war, bearing an
interest of 6%, becoming redeemable in the course of the ensuing year than
could be discharged by the ordinary revenue, the act of the 26th of May
authorized a loan of $5 millions at 4.5% to meet the same. By this
arrangement an annual saving will accrue to the public of $75,000.

Under the act of the 24th of May last a loan of $5 millions was authorized,
In order to meet the awards under the Florida treaty, which was negotiated
at par with the Bank of the United States at 4.5%, the limit of interest
fixed by the act. By this provision the claims of our citizens who had
sustained so great a loss by spoliations, and from whom indemnity had been
so long withheld, were promptly paid. For these advances the public will
be amply repaid at no distant day by the sale of the lands in Florida. Of
the great advantages resulting from the acquisition of the Territory in
other respects too high an estimate can not be formed.

It is estimated that the receipts into the Treasury during the year 1825
will be sufficient to meet the disbursements of the year, including the
sum of $10 millions, which is annually appropriated by the act of
constituting the sinking fund to the payment of the principal and interest
of the public debt.

The whole amount of the public debt on the first of January next may be
estimated at $86 millions, inclusive of $2.5 millions of the loan
authorized by the act of the 26th of May last. In this estimate is
included a stock of $7 millions, issued for the purchase of that amount
of the capital stock of the Bank of the United States, and which, as the
stock of the bank still held by the Government will at least be fully
equal to its reimbursement, ought not to be considered as constituting
a part of the public debt.

Estimating, then, the whole amount of the public debt at $79 millions
and regarding the annual receipts and expenditures of the Government, a
well-founded hope may be entertained that, should no unexpected event
occur, the whole of the public debt may be discharged in the course of
ten years, and the Government be left at liberty thereafter to apply such
portion of the revenue as may not be necessary for current expenses to
such other objects as may be most conducive to the public security and
welfare. That the sums applicable to these objects will be very
considerable may be fairly concluded when it is recollected that a
large amount of the public revenue has been applied since the late
war to the construction of the public buildings in this city; to the
erection of fortifications along the coast and of arsenals in different
parts of the Union; to the augmentation of the Navy; to the extinguishment
of the Indian title to large tracts of fertile territory; to the
acquisition of Florida; to pensions to Revolutionary officers and
soldiers, and to invalids of the late war.

On many of these objects the expense will annually be diminished and cease
at no distant period on most of them.

On the 1st of January, 1817, the public debt amounted to $123,491,965.16,
and, notwithstanding the large sums which have been applied to these
objects, it has been reduced since that period $37,446,961.78. The last
portion of the public debt will be redeemable on January 1st, 1835, and,
while there is the best reason to believe that the resources of the
Government will be continually adequate to such portions of it as may
become due in the interval, it is recommended to Congress to seize every
opportunity which may present itself to reduce the rate of interest on
every part thereof. The high state of the public credit and the great
abundance of money are at this time very favorable to such a result. It
must be very gratifying to our fellow citizens to witness this flourishing
state of the public finances when it is recollected that no burthen
whatever has been imposed upon them.

The military establishment in all its branches, in the performance of the
various duties assigned to each, justifies the favorable view which was
presented of the efficiency of its organization at the last session. All
the appropriations have been regularly applied to the objects intended by
Congress, and so far as the disbursements have been made the accounts have
been rendered and settled without loss to the public.

The condition of the Army itself, as relates to the officers and men, in
science and discipline is highly respectable. The Military Academy, on
which the Army essentially rests, and to which it is much indebted for this
state of improvement, has attained, in comparison with any other
institution of a like kind, a high degree of perfection.

Experience, however, has shewn that the dispersed condition of the corps of
artillery is unfavorable to the discipline of that important branch of the
military establishment. To remedy this inconvenience, eleven companies have
been assembled at the fortification erected at Old Point Comfort as a
school for artillery instruction, with intention as they shall be perfected
in the various duties of that service to order them to other posts, and, to
supply their places with other companies for instruction in like manner. In
this mode a complete knowledge of the science and duties of this arm will
be extended throughout the whole corps of artillery. But to carry this
object fully into effect will require the aid of Congress, to obtain which
the subject is now submitted to your consideration.

Of the progress which has been made in the construction of fortifications
for the permanent defense of our maritime frontier, according to the plan
decided on and to the extent of the existing appropriations, the report of
the Secretary of War, which is herewith communicated, will give a detailed
account. Their final completion can not fail to give great additional
security to that frontier, and to diminish proportionably the expense of
defending it in the event of war.

The provisions in several acts of Congress of the last session for the
improvement of the navigation of the Mississippi and the Ohio, of the
harbor of Presqu'isle, on Lake Erie, and the repair of the Plymouth beach
are in a course of regular execution; and there is reason to believe that
the appropriation in each instance will be adequate to the object. To carry
these improvements fully into effect, the superintendence of them has been
assigned to officers of the Corps of Engineers.

Under the act of 30th April last, authorizing the President to cause a
survey to be made, with the necessary plans and estimates, of such roads
and canals as he might deem of national importance in a commercial or
military point of view, or for the transportation of the mail, a board has
been instituted, consisting of two distinguished officers of the Corps of
Engineers and a distinguished civil engineer, with assistants, who have
been actively employed in carrying into effect the object of the act. They
have carefully examined the route between the Potomac and the Ohio rivers;
between the latter and Lake Erie; between the Alleghany and the
Susquehannah; and the routes between the Delaware and the Raritan,
Barnstable and Buzzards Bay, and between Boston Harbor and Narraganset Bay.
Such portion of the Corps of Topographical Engineers as could be spared
from the survey of the coast has been employed in surveying the very
important route between the Potomac and the Ohio. Considerable progress has
been made in it, but the survey can not be completed until the next season.
It is gratifying to add, from the view already taken, that there is good
cause to believe that this great national object may be fully

It is contemplated to commence early in the next season the execution of
the other branch of the act--that which relates to roads--and with the
survey of a route from this city, through the Southern States, to New
Orleans, the importance of which can not be too highly estimated. All the
officers of both the corps of engineers who could be spared from other
services have been employed in exploring and surveying the routes for
canals. To digest a plan for both objects for the great purposes specified
will require a thorough knowledge of every part of our Union and of the
relation of each part to the others and of all to the seat of the General
Government. For such a digest it will be necessary that the information be
full, minute, and precise.

With a view to these important objects, I submit to the consideration of
the Congress the propriety of enlarging both the corps of engineers--the
military and topographical. It need scarcely be remarked that the more
extensively these corps are engaged in the improvement of their country, in
the execution of the powers of Congress, and in aid of the States in such
improvements as lie beyond that limit, when such aid is desired, the
happier the effect will be in many views of which the subject is
perceptible. By profiting of their science the works will always be well
executed, and by giving to the officers such employment our Union will
derive all the advantage, in peace as well as in war, from their talents
and services which they can afford. In this mode, also, the military will
be incorporated with the civil, and unfounded and injurious distinctions
and prejudices of every kind be done away. To the corps themselves this
service can not fail to be equally useful, since by the knowledge they
would thus acquire they would be eminently better qualified in the event of
war for the great purposes for which they were instituted.

Our relations with the Indian tribes within our limits have not been
materially changed during the year. The hostile disposition evinced by
certain tribes on the Missouri during the last year still continues, and
has extended in some degree to those on the Upper Mississippi and the Upper
Lakes. Several parties of our citizens have been plundered and murdered by
those tribes. In order to establish relations of friendship with them,
Congress at the last session made an appropriation for treaties with them
and for the employment of a suitable military escort to accompany and
attend the commissioners at the places appointed for the negotiations. This
object has not been effected. The season was too far advanced when the
appropriation was made and the distance too great to permit it, but
measures have been taken, and all the preparations will be completed to
accomplish it at an early period in the next season.

Believing that the hostility of the tribes, particularly on the Upper
Mississippi and the Lakes, is in no small degree owing to the wars which
are carried on between the tribes residing in that quarter, measures have
been taken to bring about a general peace among them, which, if successful,
will not only tend to the security of our citizens, but be of great
advantage to the Indians themselves.

With the exception of the tribes referred to, our relations with all the
others are on the same friendly footing, and it affords me great
satisfaction to add that they are making steady advances in civilization
and the improvement of their condition. Many of the tribes have already
made great progress in the arts of civilized life. This desirable result
has been brought about by the humane and persevering policy of the
Government, and particularly by means of the appropriation for the
civilization of the Indians. There have been established under the
provisions of this act 32 schools, containing 916 scholars, who are well
instructed in several branches of literature, and likewise in agriculture
and the ordinary arts of life.

Under the appropriation to authorize treaties with the Creeks and Quaupaw
Indians commissioners have been appointed and negotiations are now pending,
but the result is not yet known.

For more full information respecting the principle which has been adopted
for carrying into effect the act of Congress authorizing surveys, with
plans and estimates for canals and roads, and on every other branch of duty
incident to the Department of War, I refer you to the report of the

The squadron in the Mediterranean has been maintained in the extent which
was proposed in the report of the Secretary of the Navy of the last year,
and has afforded to our commerce the necessary protection in that sea.
Apprehending, however, that the unfriendly relations which have existed
between Algiers and some of the powers of Europe might be extended to us,
it has been thought expedient to augment the force there, and in
consequence the North Carolina, a ship of the line, has been prepared, and
will sail in a few days to join it.

The force employed in the Gulf of Mexico and in the neighboring seas for
the suppression of piracy has likewise been preserved essentially in the
state in which it was during the last year. A persevering effort has been
made for the accomplishment of that object, and much protection has thereby
been afforded to our commerce, but still the practice is far from being
suppressed. From every view which has been taken of the subject it is
thought that it will be necessary rather to augment than to diminish our
force in that quarter.

There is reason to believe that the piracies now complained of are
committed by bands of robbers who inhabit the land, and who, by preserving
good intelligence with the towns and seizing favorable opportunities, rush
forth and fall on unprotected merchant vessels, of which they make an easy
prey. The pillage thus taken they carry to their lurking places, and
dispose of afterwards at prices tending to seduce the neighboring

This combination is understood to be of great extent, and is the more to be
deprecated because the crime of piracy is often attended with the murder of
the crews, these robbers knowing if any survived their lurking places would
be exposed and they be caught and punished. That this atrocious practice
should be carried to such extent is cause of equal surprise and regret. It
is presumed that it must be attributed to the relaxed and feeble state of
the local governments, since it is not doubted, from the high character of
the governor of Cuba, who is well known and much respected here, that if he
had the power he would promptly suppress it. Whether those robbers should
be pursued on the land, the local authorities be made responsible for these
atrocities, or any other measure be resorted to to suppress them, is
submitted to the consideration of Congress.

In execution of the laws for the suppression of the slave trade a vessel
has been occasionally sent from that squadron to the coast of Africa with
orders to return thence by the usual track of the slave ships, and to seize
any of our vessels which might be engaged in that trade. None have been
found, and it is believed that none are thus employed. It is well known,
however, that the trade still exists under other flags.

The health of our squadron while at Thompsons Island has been much better
during the present than it was the last season. Some improvements have been
made and others are contemplated there which, it is believed, will have a
very salutary effect.

On the Pacific, our commerce has much increased, and on that coast, as well
as on that sea, the United States have many important interests which
require attention and protection. It is thought that all the considerations
which suggested the expediency of placing a squadron on that sea operate
with augmented force for maintaining it there, at least in equal extent.

For detailed information respecting the state of our maritime force on each
sea, the improvement necessary to be made on either in the organization of
the naval establishment generally, and of the laws for its better
government I refer you to the report of the Secretary of the Navy, which is
herewith communicated.

The revenue of the Post Office Department has received a considerable
augmentation in the present year. The current receipts will exceed the
expenditures, although the transportation of the mail within the year has
been much increased. A report of the Post Master General, which is
transmitted, will furnish in detail the necessary information respecting
the administration and present state of this Department.

In conformity with a resolution of Congress of the last session, an
invitation was given to General Lafayette to visit the United States, with
an assurance that a ship of war should attend at any port of France which
he might designate, to receive and convey him across the Atlantic, whenever
it might be convenient for him to sail. He declined the offer of the public
ship from motives of delicacy, but assured me that he had long intended and
would certainly visit our Union in the course of the present year.

In August last he arrived at New York, where he was received with the
warmth of affection and gratitude to which his very important and
disinterested services and sacrifices in our Revolutionary struggle so
eminently entitled him. A corresponding sentiment has since been manifested
in his favor throughout every portion of our Union, and affectionate
invitations have been given him to extend his visits to them. To these he
has yielded all the accommodation in his power. At every designated point
of rendezvous the whole population of the neighboring country has been
assembled to greet him, among whom it has excited in a peculiar manner the
sensibility of all to behold the surviving members of our Revolutionary
contest, civil and military, who had shared with him in the toils and
dangers of the war, many of them in a decrepit state. A more interesting
spectacle, it is believed, was never witnessed, because none could be
founded on purer principles, none proceed from higher or more disinterested
motives. That the feelings of those who had fought and bled with him in a
common cause should have been much excited was natural.

There are, however, circumstances attending these interviews which pervaded
the whole community and touched the breasts of every age, even the youngest
among us. There was not an individual present who had not some relative who
had not partaken in those scenes, nor an infant who had not heard the
relation of them. But the circumstance which was most sensibly felt, and
which his presence brought forcibly to the recollection of all, was the
great cause in which we were engaged and the blessings which we have
derived from our success in it.

The struggle was for independence and liberty, public and personal, and in
this we succeeded. The meeting with one who had borne so distinguished a
part in that great struggle, and from such lofty and disinterested motives,
could not fail to affect profoundly every individual and of every age. It
is natural that we should all take a deep interest in his future welfare,
as we do. His high claims on our Union are felt, and the sentiment
universal that they should be met in a generous spirit. Under these
impressions I invite your attention to the subject, with a view that,
regarding his very important services, losses, and sacrifices, a provision
may be made and tendered to him which shall correspond with the sentiments
and be worthy the character of the American people.

In turning our attention to the condition of the civilized world, in which
the United States have always taken a deep interest, it is gratifying to
see how large a portion of it is blessed with peace. The only wars which
now exist within that limit are those between Turkey and Greece, in Europe,
and between Spain and the new Governments, our neighbors, in this
hemisphere. In both these wars the cause of independence, of liberty and
humanity, continues to prevail.

The success of Greece, when the relative population of the contending
parties is considered, commands our admiration and applause, and that it
has had a similar effect with the neighboring powers is obvious. The
feeling of the whole civilized world is excited in a high degree in their
favor. May we not hope that these sentiments, winning on the hearts of
their respective Governments, may lead to a more decisive result; that they
may produce an accord among them to replace Greece on the ground which she
formerly held, and to which her heroic exertions at this day so eminently
entitle her?

With respect to the contest to which our neighbors are a party, it is
evident that Spain as a power is scarcely felt in it. These new States had
completely achieved their independence before it was acknowledged by the
United States, and they have since maintained it with little foreign
pressure. The disturbances which have appeared in certain portions of that
vast territory have proceeded from internal causes, which had their origin
in their former Governments and have not yet been thoroughly removed.

It is manifest that these causes are daily losing their effect, and that
these new States are settling down under Governments elective and
representative in every branch, similar to our own. In this course we
ardently wish them to persevere, under a firm conviction that it will
promote their happiness. In this, their career, however, we have not
interfered, believing that every people have a right to institute for
themselves the government which, in their judgment, may suit them best.

Our example is before them, of the good effect of which, being our
neighbors, they are competent judges, and to their judgment we leave it, in
the expectation that other powers will pursue the same policy. The deep
interest which we take in their independence, which we have acknowledged,
and in their enjoyment of all the rights incident thereto, especially in
the very important one of instituting their own Governments, has been
declared, and is known to the world.

Separated as we are from Europe by the great Atlantic Ocean, we can have no
concern in the wars of the European Governments nor in the causes which
produce them. The balance of power between them, into whichever scale it
may turn in its various vibrations, can not affect us. It is the interest
of the United States to preserve the most friendly relations with every
power and on conditions fair, equal, and applicable to all.

But in regard to our neighbors our situation is different. It is impossible
for the European Governments to interfere in their concerns, especially in
those alluded to, which are vital, without affecting us; indeed, the motive
which might induce such interference in the present state of the war
between the parties, if a war it may be called, would appear to be equally
applicable to us. It is gratifying to know that some of the powers with
whom we enjoy a very friendly intercourse, and to whom these views have
been communicated, have appeared to acquiesce in them.

The augmentation of our population with the expansion of our Union and
increased number of States have produced effects in certain branches of our
system which merit the attention of Congress. Some of our arrangements, and
particularly the judiciary establishment, were made with a view to the
original thirteen States only. Since then the United States have acquired
a vast extent of territory; eleven new States have been admitted into the
Union, and Territories have been laid off for three others, which will
likewise be admitted at no distant day.

An organization of the Supreme Court which assigns the judges any portion
of the duties which belong to the inferior, requiring their passage over so
vast a space under any distribution of the States that may now be made, if
not impracticable in the execution, must render it impossible for them to
discharge the duties of either branch with advantage to the Union. The
duties of the Supreme Court would be of great importance if its decisions
were confined to the ordinary limits of other tribunals, but when it is
considered that this court decides, and in the last resort, on all the
great questions which arise under our Constitution, involving those between
the United States individually, between the States and the United States,
and between the latter and foreign powers, too high an estimate of their
importance can not be formed. The great interests of the nation seem to
require that the judges of the Supreme Court should be exempted from every
other duty than those which are incident to that high trust. The
organization of the inferior courts would of course be adapted to
circumstances. It is presumed that such an one might be formed as would
secure an able and faithful discharge of their duties, and without any
material augmentation of expense.

The condition of the aborigines within our limits, and especially those who
are within the limits of any of the States, merits likewise particular
attention. Experience has shown that unless the tribes be civilized they
can never be incorporated into our system in any form whatever. It has
likewise shown that in the regular augmentation of our population with the
extension of our settlements their situation will become deplorable, if
their extinction is not menaced.

Some well-digested plan which will rescue them from such calamities is due
to their rights, to the rights of humanity, and to the honor of the nation.
Their civilization is indispensable to their safety, and this can be
accomplished only by degrees. The process must commence with the infant
state, through whom some effect may be wrought on the parental.
Difficulties of the most serious character present themselves to the
attainment of this very desirable result on the territory on which they now
reside. To remove them from it by force, even with a view to their own
security and happiness, would be revolting to humanity and utterly
unjustifiable. Between the limits of our present States and Territories and
the Rocky Mountains and Mexico there is a vast territory to which they
might be invited with inducements which might be successful. It is thought
if that territory should be divided into districts by previous agreement
with the tribes now residing there and civil governments be established in
each, with schools for every branch of instruction in literature and the
arts of civilized life, that all the tribes now within our limits might
gradually be drawn there. The execution of this plan would necessarily be
attended with expense, and that not inconsiderable, but it is doubted
whether any other can be devised which would be less liable to that
objection or more likely to succeed.

In looking to the interests which the United States have on the Pacific
Ocean and on the western coast of this continent, the propriety of
establishing a military post at the mouth of the Columbia River, or at some
other point in that quarter within our acknowledged limits, is submitted to
the consideration of Congress. Our commerce and fisheries on that sea and
along the coast have much increased and are increasing. It is thought that
a military post, to which our ships of war might resort, would afford
protection to every interest, and have a tendency to conciliate the tribes
to the North West, with whom our trade is extensive. It is thought also
that by the establishment of such a post the intercourse between our
Western States and Territories and the Pacific and our trade with the
tribes residing in the interior on each side of the Rocky Mountains would
be essentially promoted. To carry this object into effect the appropriation
of an adequate sum to authorize the employment of a frigate, with an
officer of the Corps of Engineers, to explore the mouth of the Columbia
River and the coast contiguous thereto, to enable the Executive to make
such establishment at the most suitable point, is recommended to Congress.

It is thought that attention is also due to the improvement of this city.
The communication between the public buildings and in various other parts
and the grounds around those buildings require it. It is presumed also that
the completion of the canal from the Tiber to the Eastern Branch would have
a very salutary effect. Great exertions have been made and expenses
incurred by the citizens in improvements of various kinds; but those which
are suggested belong exclusively to the Government, or are of a nature to
require expenditures beyond their resources. The public lots which are
still for sale would, it is not doubted, be more than adequate for these

From the view above presented it is manifest that the situation of the
United States is in the highest degree prosperous and happy. There is no
object which as a people we can desire which we do not possess or which is
not within our reach. Blessed with governments the happiest which the world
ever knew, with no distinct orders in society or divided interests in any
portion of the vast territory over which their dominion extends, we have
every motive to cling together which can animate a virtuous and enlightened
people. The great object is to preserve these blessings, and to hand them
down to the latest posterity.

Our experience ought to satisfy us that our progress under the most correct
and provident policy will not be exempt from danger. Our institutions form
an important epoch in the history of the civilized world. On their
preservation and in their utmost purity everything will depend. Extending
as our interests do to every part of the inhabited globe and to every sea
to which our citizens are carried by their industry and enterprise, to
which they are invited by the wants of others, and have a right to go, we
must either protect them in the enjoyment of their rights or abandon them
in certain events to waste and desolation.

Our attitude is highly interesting as relates to other powers, and
particularly to our southern neighbors. We have duties to perform with
regard to all to which we must be faithful. To every kind of danger we
should pay the most vigilant and unceasing attention, remove the cause
where it may be practicable, and be prepared to meet it when inevitable.

Against foreign danger the policy of the Government seems to be already
settled. The events of the late war admonished us to make our maritime
frontier impregnable by a well-digested chain of fortifications, and to
give efficient protection to our commerce by augmenting our Navy to a
certain extent, which has been steadily pursued, and which it is incumbent
upon us to complete as soon as circumstances will permit. In the event of
war it is on the maritime frontier that we shall be assailed. It is in that
quarter, therefore, that we should be prepared to meet the attack. It is
there that our whole force will be called into action to prevent the
destruction of our towns and the desolation and pillage of the interior.

To give full effect to this policy great improvements will be
indispensable. Access to those works by every practicable communication
should be made easy and in every direction. The intercourse between every
part of our Union should also be promoted and facilitated by the exercise
of those powers which may comport with a faithful regard to the great
principles of our Constitution. With respect to internal causes, those
great principles point out with equal certainty the policy to be pursued.

Resting on the people as our Governments do, State and National, with
well-defined powers, it is of the highest importance that they severally
keep within the limits prescribed to them. Fulfilling that sacred duty, it
is of equal importance that the movement between them be harmonious, and in
case of any disagreement, should any such occur, a calm appeal be made to
the people, and that their voice be heard and promptly obeyed. Both
Governments being instituted for the common good, we can not fail to
prosper while those who made them are attentive to the conduct of their
representatives and control their measures. In the pursuit of these great
objects let a generous spirit and national views and feelings be indulged,
and let every part recollect that by cherishing that spirit and improving
the condition of the others in what relates to their welfare the general
interest will not only be promoted, but the local advantage be reciprocated
by all.

I can not conclude this communication, the last of the kind which I shall
have to make, without recollecting with great sensibility and heart felt
gratitude the many instances of the public confidence and the generous
support which I have received from my fellow citizens in the various trusts
with which I have been honored. Having commenced my service in early youth,
and continued it since with few and short intervals, I have witnessed the
great difficulties to which our Union has been surmounted. From the present
prosperous and happy state I derive a gratification which I can not
express. That these blessings may be preserved and perpetuated will be the
object of my fervent and unceasing prayers to the Supreme Ruler of the


State of the Union Address
John Quincy Adams
December 6, 1825

Fellow Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

In taking a general survey of the concerns of our beloved country, with
reference to subjects interesting to the common welfare, the first
sentiment which impresses itself upon the mind is of gratitude to the
Omnipotent Disposer of All Good for the continuance of the signal
blessings of His providence, and especially for that health which to an
unusual extent has prevailed within our borders, and for that abundance
which in the vicissitudes of the seasons has been scattered with
profusion over our land. Nor ought we less to ascribe to Him the glory
that we are permitted to enjoy the bounties of His hand in peace and
tranquillity--in peace with all the other nations of the earth, in
tranquillity among our selves. There has, indeed, rarely been a period
in the history of civilized man in which the general condition of the
Christian nations has been marked so extensively by peace and

Europe, with a few partial and unhappy exceptions, has enjoyed ten
years of peace, during which all her Governments, what ever the theory
of their constitutions may have been, are successively taught to feel
that the end of their institution is the happiness of the people, and
that the exercise of power among men can be justified only by the
blessings it confers upon those over whom it is extended.

During the same period our intercourse with all those nations has been
pacific and friendly; it so continues. Since the close of your last
session no material variation has occurred in our relations with any
one of them. In the commercial and navigation system of Great Britain
important changes of municipal regulation have recently been sanctioned
by acts of Parliament, the effect of which upon the interests of other
nations, and particularly upon ours, has not yet been fully developed.
In the recent renewal of the diplomatic missions on both sides between
the two Governments assurances have been given and received of the
continuance and increase of the mutual confidence and cordiality by
which the adjustment of many points of difference had already been
effected, and which affords the surest pledge for the ultimate
satisfactory adjustment of those which still remain open or may
hereafter arise.

The policy of the United States in their commercial intercourse with
other nations has always been of the most liberal character. In the
mutual exchange of their respective productions they have abstained
altogether from prohibitions; they have interdicted themselves the
power of laying taxes upon exports, and when ever they have favored
their own shipping by special preferences or exclusive privileges in
their own ports it has been only with a view to countervail similar
favors and exclusions granted by the nations with whom we have been
engaged in traffic to their own people or shipping, and to the
disadvantage of ours. Immediately after the close of the last war a
proposal was fairly made by the act of Congress of March 3rd, 1815, to
all the maritime nations to lay aside the system of retaliating
restrictions and exclusions, and to place the shipping of both parties
to the common trade on a footing of equality in respect to the duties
of tonnage and impost. This offer was partially and successively
accepted by Great Britain, Sweden, the Netherlands, the Hanseatic
cities, Prussia, Sardinia, the Duke of Oldenburg, and Russia. It was
also adopted, under certain modifications, in our late commercial
convention with France, and by the act of Congress of January 1st,
1824, it has received a new confirmation with all the nations who had
acceded to it, and has been offered again to all those who are or may
here after be willing to abide in reciprocity by it. But all these
regulations, whether established by treaty or by municipal enactments,
are still subject to one important restriction.

The removal of discriminating duties of tonnage and of impost is
limited to articles of the growth, produce, or manufacture of the
country to which the vessel belongs or to such articles as are most
usually first shipped from her ports. It will deserve the serious
consideration of Congress whether even this remnant of restriction may
not be safely abandoned, and whether the general tender of equal
competition made in the act of January 8th, 1824, maynot be extended to
include all articles of merchandise not prohibited, of what country so
ever they may be the produce or manufacture. Propositions of this
effect have already been made to us by more than one European
Government, and it is probable that if once established by legislation
or compact with any distinguished maritime state it would recommend
itself by the experience of its advantages to the general accession of

The convention of commerce and navigation between the United States and
France, concluded on June 24th, 1822, was, in the understanding and
intent of both parties, as appears upon its face, only a temporary
arrangement of the points of difference between them of the most
immediate and pressing urgency. It was limited in the first instance to
two years from January 10th, 1822, but with a proviso that it should
further continue in force 'til the conclusion of a general and
definitive treaty of commerce, unless terminated by a notice, six
months in advance, of either of the parties to the other. Its operation
so far as it extended has been mutually advantageous, and it still
continues in force by common consent. But it left unadjusted several
objects of great interest to the citizens and subjects of both
countries, and particularly a mass of claims to considerable amount of
citizens of the United States upon the Government of France of
indemnity for property taken or destroyed under circumstances of the
most aggravated and outrageous character. In the long period during
which continual and earnest appeals have been made to the equity and
magnanimity of France in behalf of these claims their justice has not
been, as it could not be, denied.

It was hoped that the accession of a new Sovereign to the throne would
have afforded a favorable opportunity for presenting them to the
consideration of his Government. They have been presented and urged
hither to without effect. The repeated and earnest representations of
our minister at the Court of France remain as yet even without an
answer. Were the demands of nations upon the justice of each other
susceptible of adjudication by the sentence of an impartial tribunal,
those to which I now refer would long since have been settled and
adequate indemnity would have been obtained.

There are large amounts of similar claims upon the Netherlands, Naples,
and Denmark. For those upon Spain prior to 1819 indemnity was, after
many years of patient forbearance, obtained; and those upon Sweden have
been lately compromised by a private settlement, in which the claimants
themselves have acquiesced. The Governments of Denmark and of Naples
have been recently reminded of those yet existing against them, nor
will any of them be forgotten while a hope may be indulged of obtaining
justice by the means within the constitutional power of the Executive,
and without resorting to those means of self-redress which, as well as
the time, circumstances, and occasion which may require them, are
within the exclusive competency of the Legislature.

It is with great satisfaction that I am enabled to bear witness to the
liberal spirit with which the Republic of Colombia has made
satisfaction for well-established claims of a similar character, and
among the documents now communicated to Congress will be distinguished
a treaty of commerce and navigation with that Republic, the
ratifications of which have been exchanged since the last recess of the
Legislature. The negotiation of similar treaties with all of the
independent South American States has been contemplated and may yet be
accomplished. The basis of them all, as proposed by the United States,
has been laid in two principles--the one of entire and unqualified
reciprocity, the other the mutual obligation of the parties to place
each other permanently upon the footing of the most favored nation.
These principles are, indeed, indispensable to the effectual
emancipation of the American hemisphere from the thralldom of
colonizing monopolies and exclusions, an event rapidly realizing in the
progress of human affairs, and which the resistance still opposed in
certain parts of Europe to the acknowledgment of the Southern American
Republics as independent States will, it is believed, contribute more
effectually to accomplish. The time has been, and that not remote, when
some of those States might, in their anxious desire to obtain a nominal
recognition, have accepted of a nominal independence, clogged with
burdensome conditions, and exclusive commercial privileges granted to
the nation from which they have separated to the disadvantage of all
others. They are all now aware that such concessions to any European
nation would be incompatible with that independence which they have
declared and maintained.

Among the measures which have been suggested to them by the new
relations with one another, resulting from the recent changes in their
condition, is that of assembling at the Isthmus of Panama a congress,
at which each of them should be represented, to deliberate upon objects
important to the welfare of all. The Republics of Colombia, of Mexico,
and of Central America have already deputed plenipotentiaries to such a
meeting, and they have invited the United States to be also represented
there by their ministers. The invitation has been accepted, and
ministers on the part of the United States will be commissioned to
attend at those deliberations, and to take part in them so far as may
be compatible with that neutrality from which it is neither our
intention nor the desire of the other American States that we should

The commissioners under the 7th article of the treaty of Ghent have so
nearly completed their arduous labors that, by the report recently
received from the agent on the part of the United States, there is
reason to expect that the commission will be closed at their next
session, appointed for May 22 of the ensuing year.

The other commission, appointed to ascertain the indemnities due for
slaves carried away from the United States after the close of the late
war, have met with some difficulty, which has delayed their progress in
the inquiry. A reference has been made to the British Government on the
subject, which, it may be hoped, will tend to hasten the decision of
the commissioners, or serve as a substitute for it.

Among the powers specifically granted to Congress by the Constitution
are those of establishing uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies
throughout the United States and of providing for organizing, arming,
and disciplining the militia and for governing such part of them as may
be employed in the services of the United States. The magnitude and
complexity of the interests affected by legislation upon these subjects
may account for the fact that, long and often as both of them have
occupied the attention and animated the debates of Congress, no systems
have yet been devised for fulfilling to the satisfaction of the
community the duties prescribed by these grants of power.

To conciliate the claim of the individual citizen to the enjoyment of
personal liberty, with the effective obligation of private contracts,
is the difficult problem to be solved by a law of bankruptcy. These are
objects of the deepest interest to society, affecting all that is
precious in the existence of multitudes of persons, many of them in the
classes essentially dependent and helpless, of the age requiring
nurture, and of the sex entitled to protection from the free agency of
the parent and the husband. The organization of the militia is yet more
indispensable to the liberties of the country. It is only by an
effective militia that we can at once enjoy the repose of peace and bid
defiance to foreign aggression; it is by the militia that we are
constituted an armed nation, standing in perpetual panoply of defense
in the presence of all the other nations of the earth. To this end it
would be necessary, if possible, so to shape its organization as to
give it a more united and active energy. There are laws establishing an
uniform militia throughout the United States and for arming and
equipping its whole body. But it is a body of dislocated members,
without the vigor of unity and having little of uniformity but the
name. To infuse into this most important institution the power of which
it is susceptible and to make it available for the defense of the Union
at the shortest notice and at the smallest expense possible of time, of
life, and of treasure are among the benefits to be expected from the
persevering deliberations of Congress.

Among the unequivocal indications of our national prosperity is the
flourishing state of our finances. The revenues of the present year,
from all their principal sources, will exceed the anticipations of the
last. The balance in the Treasury on the first of January last was a
little short of $2,000,000, exclusive of $2,500,000, being the moiety
of the loan of $5,000,000 authorized by the act of May 26th, 1824. The
receipts into the Treasury from the first of January to the 30th of
September, exclusive of the other moiety of the same loan, are
estimated at $16,500,000, and it is expected that those of the current
quarter will exceed $5,000,000, forming an aggregate of receipts of
nearly $22,000,000, independent of the loan. The expenditures of the
year will not exceed that sum more than $2,000,000. By those
expenditures nearly $8,000,000 of the principal of the public debt that
have been discharged.

More than $1,500,000 has been devoted to the debt of gratitude to the
warriors of the Revolution; a nearly equal sum to the construction of
fortifications and the acquisition of ordnance and other permanent
preparations of national defense; $500,000 to the gradual increase of
the Navy; an equal sum for purchases of territory from the Indians and
payment of annuities to them; and upward of $1,000,000 for objects of
internal improvement authorized by special acts of the last Congress.
If we add to these $4,000,000 for payment of interest upon the public
debt, there remains a sum of $7,000,000, which have defrayed the whole
expense of the administration of Government in its legislative,
executive, and judiciary departments, including the support of the
military and naval establishments and all the occasional contingencies
of a government coextensive with the Union.

The amount of duties secured on merchandise imported since the
commencement of the year is about $25,500,000, and that which will
accrue during the current quarter is estimated at $5,500,000; from
these $31,000,000, deducting the draw-backs, estimated at less than
$7,000,000, a sum exceeding $24,000,000 will constitute the revenue of
the year, and will exceed the whole expenditures of the year. The
entire amount of the public debt remaining due on the first of January
next will be short of $81,000,000.

By an act of Congress of the 3d of March last a loan of $12,000,000 was
authorized at 4.5%, or an exchange of stock to that amount of 4.5% for
a stock of 6%, to create a fund for extinguishing an equal amount of
the public debt, bearing an interest of 6%, redeemable in 1826. An
account of the measures taken to give effect to this act will be laid
before you by the Secretary of the Treasury. As the object which it had
in view has been but partially accomplished, it will be for the
consideration of Congress whether the power with which it clothed the
Executive should not be renewed at an early day of the present session,
and under what modifications.

The act of Congress of the 3d of March last, directing the Secretary of
the Treasury to subscribe, in the name and for the use of the United
States, for 1,500 shares of the capital stock of the Chesapeake and
Delaware Canal Company, has been executed by the actual subscription
for the amount specified; and such other measures have been adopted by
that officer, under the act, as the fulfillment of its intentions
requires. The latest accounts received of this important undertaking
authorize the belief that it is in successful progress.

The payments into the Treasury from the proceeds of the sales of the
public lands during the present year were estimated at $1,000,000. The
actual receipts of the first two quarters have fallen very little short
of that sum; it is not expected that the second half of the year will
be equally productive, but the income of the year from that source may
now be safely estimated at $1,500,000. The act of Congress of May 18th,
1824, to provide for the extinguishment of the debt due to the United
States by the purchasers of public lands, was limited in its operation
of relief to the purchaser to the 10th of April last. Its effect at the
end of the quarter during which it expired was to reduce that debt from
$10,000,000 to $7,000,000 By the operation of similar prior laws of
relief, from and since that of March 2d, 1821, the debt had been
reduced from upward of $22,000,000 to $10,000,000.

It is exceedingly desirable that it should be extinguished altogether;
and to facilitate that consummation I recommend to Congress the revival
for one year more of the act of May 18th, 1824, with such provisional
modification as may be necessary to guard the public interests against
fraudulent practices in the resale of the relinquished land.

The purchasers of public lands are among the most useful of our fellow
citizens, and since the system of sales for cash alone has been
introduced great indulgence has been justly extended to those who had
previously purchased upon credit. The debt which had been contracted
under the credit sales had become unwieldy, and its extinction was
alike advantageous to the purchaser and to the public. Under the system
of sales, matured as it has been by experience, and adapted to the
exigencies of the times, the lands will continue as they have become,
an abundant source of revenue; and when the pledge of them to the
public creditor shall have been redeemed by the entire discharge of the
national debt, the swelling tide of wealth with which they replenish
the common Treasury may be made to reflow in unfailing streams of
improvement from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.

The condition of the various branches of the public service resorting
from the Department of War, and their administration during the current
year, will be exhibited in the report of the Secretary of War and the
accompanying documents herewith communicated. The organization and
discipline of the Army are effective and satisfactory. To counteract
the prevalence of desertion among the troops it has been suggested to
withhold from the men a small portion of their monthly pay until the
period of their discharge; and some expedient appears to be necessary
to preserve and maintain among the officers so much of the art of
horsemanship as could scarcely fail to be found wanting on the possible
sudden eruption of a war, which should take us unprovided with a single
corps of cavalry.

The Military Academy at West Point, under the restrictions of a severe
but paternal superintendence, recommends itself more and more to the
patronage of the nation, and the numbers of meritorious officers which
it forms and introduces to the public service furnishes the means of
multiplying the undertakings of the public improvements to which their
acquirements at that institution are peculiarly adapted. The school of
artillery practice established at Fortress Monroe Hampton, Virginia is
well suited to the same purpose, and may need the aid of further
legislative provision to the same end. The reports of the various
officers at the head of the administrative branches of the military
service, connected with the quartering, clothing, subsistence, health,
and pay of the Army, exhibit the assiduous vigilance of those officers
in the performance of their respective duties, and the faithful
accountability which has pervaded every part of the system.

Our relations with the numerous tribes of aboriginal natives of this
country, scattered over its extensive surface and so dependent even for
their existence upon our power, have been during the present year
highly interesting. An act of Congress of May 25th, 1824, made an
appropriation to defray the expenses of making treaties of trade and
friendship with the Indian tribes beyond the Mississippi. An act of
March 3d, 1825, authorized treaties to be made with the Indians for
their consent to the making of a road from the frontier of Missouri to
that of New Mexico, and another act of the same date provided for
defraying the expenses of holding treaties with the Sioux, Chippeways,
Menomenees, Sauks, Foxes, etc., for the purpose of establishing
boundaries and promoting peace between said tribes.

The first and last objects of these acts have been accomplished, and
the second is yet in a process of execution. The treaties which since
the last session of Congress have been concluded with the several
tribes will be laid before the Senate for their consideration
conformably to the Constitution. They comprise large and valuable
acquisitions of territory, and they secure an adjustment of boundaries
and give pledges of permanent peace between several tribes which had
been long waging bloody wars against each other.

On the 12th of February last a treaty was signed at the Indian Springs
between commissioners appointed on the part of the United States and
certain chiefs and individuals of the Creek Nation of Indians, which
was received at the seat of Government only a very few days before the
close of the last session of Congress and of the late Administration.
The advice and consent of the Senate was given to it on the 3d of
March, too late for it to receive the ratification of the then
President of the United States; it was ratified on the 7th of March,
under the unsuspecting impression that it had been negotiated in good
faith and in the confidence inspired by the recommendation of the
Senate. The subsequent transactions in relation to this treaty will
form the subject of a separate communication.

The appropriations made by Congress for public works, as well in the
construction of fortifications as for purposes of internal improvement,
so far as they have been expended, have been faithfully applied. Their
progress has been delayed by the want of suitable officers for
superintending them. An increase of both the corps of engineers,
military and topographical, was recommended by my predecessor at the
last session of Congress. The reasons upon which that recommendation
was founded subsist in all their force and have acquired additional
urgency since that time. The Military Academy at West Point will
furnish from the cadets there officers well qualified for carrying this
measure into effect.

The Board of Engineers for Internal Improvement, appointed for carrying
into execution the act of Congress of April 30th, 1824, "to procure the
necessary surveys, plans, and estimates on the subject of roads and
canals", have been actively engaged in that service from the close of
the last session of Congress. They have completed the surveys necessary
for ascertaining the practicability of a canal from the Chesapeake Bay
to the Ohio River, and are preparing a full report on that subject,
which, when completed, will be laid before you. The same observation is
to be made with regard to the two other objects of national importance
upon which the Board have been occupied, namely, the accomplishment of
a national road from this city to New Orleans, and the practicability
of uniting the waters of Lake Memphramagog with Connecticut River and
the improvement of the navigation of that river. The surveys have been
made and are nearly completed. The report may be expected at an early
period during the present session of Congress.

The acts of Congress of the last session relative to the surveying,
marking, or laying out roads in the Territories of Florida, Arkansas,
and Michigan, from Missouri to Mexico, and for the continuation of the
Cumberland road, are, some of them, fully executed, and others in the
process of execution. Those for completing or commencing fortifications
have been delayed only so far as the Corps of Engineers has been
inadequate to furnish officers for the necessary superintendence of the
works. Under the act confirming the statutes of Virginia and Maryland
incorporating the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company, three
commissioners on the part of the United States have been appointed for
opening books and receiving subscriptions, in concert with a like
number of commissioners appointed on the part of each of those States.
A meeting of the commissioners has been postponed, to await the
definitive report of the board of engineers.

The light-houses and monuments for the safety of our commerce and
mariners, the works for the security of Plymouth Beach and for the
preservation of the islands in Boston Harbor, have received the
attention required by the laws relating to those objects respectively.
The continuation of the Cumberland road, the most important of them
all, after surmounting no inconsiderable difficulty in fixing upon the
direction of the road, has commenced under the most promising of
auspices, with the improvements of recent invention in the mode of
construction, and with advantage of a great reduction in the
comparative cost of the work.

The operation of the laws relating to the Revolutionary pensioners may
deserve the renewed consideration of Congress. The act of March 18th,
1818, while it made provision for many meritorious and indigent
citizens who had served in the War of Independence, opened a door to
numerous abuses and impositions. To remedy this the act of May 1st, 1820,
exacted proofs of absolute indigence, which many really in want were
unable and all susceptible of that delicacy which is allied to many
virtues must be deeply reluctant to give. The result has been that some
among the least deserving have been retained, and some in whom the
requisites both of worth and want were combined have been stricken from
the list. As the numbers of these venerable relics of an age gone by
diminish; as the decays of body, mind, and estate of those that survive
must in the common course of nature increase, should not a more liberal
portion of indulgence be dealt out to them? May not the want in most
instances be inferred from the demand when the service can be proved,
and may not the last days of human infirmity be spared the
mortification of purchasing a pittance of relief only by the exposure
of its own necessities? I submit to Congress the expediency of
providing for individual cases of this description by special
enactment, or of revising the act of May 1st, 1820, with a view to
mitigate the rigor of its exclusions in favor of persons to whom
charity now bestowed can scarcely discharge the debt of justice.

The portion of the naval force of the Union in actual service has been
chiefly employed on three stations--the Mediterranean, the coasts of
South America bordering on the Pacific Ocean, and the West Indies. An
occasional cruiser has been sent to range along the African shores most
polluted by the traffic of slaves; one armed vessel has been stationed
on the coast of our eastern boundary, to cruise along the fishing
grounds in Hudsons Bay and on the coast of Labrador, and the first
service of a new frigate has been performed in restoring to his native
soil and domestic enjoyments the veteran hero whose youthful blood and
treasure had freely flowed in the cause of our country's independence,
and whose whole life has been a series of services and sacrifices to
the improvement of his fellow men.

The visit of General Lafayette, alike honorable to himself and to our
country, closed, as it had commenced, with the most affecting
testimonials of devoted attachment on his part, and of unbounded
gratitude of this people to him in return. It will form here-after a
pleasing incident in the annals of our Union, giving to real history
the intense interest of romance and signally marking the unpurchasable
tribute of a great nation's social affections to the disinterested
champion of the liberties of human-kind.

The constant maintenance of a small squadron in the Mediterranean is a
necessary substitute for the humiliating alternative of paying tribute
for the security of our commerce in that sea, and for a precarious
peace, at the mercy of every caprice of four Barbary States, by whom it
was liable to be violated. An additional motive for keeping a
respectable force stationed there at this time is found in the maritime
war raging between the Greeks and the Turks, and in which the neutral
navigation of this Union is always in danger of outrage and
depredation. A few instances have occurred of such depredations upon
our merchant vessels by privateers or pirates wearing the Grecian flag,
but without real authority from the Greek or any other Government. The
heroic struggles of the Greeks themselves, in which our warmest
sympathies as free men and Christians have been engaged, have continued
to be maintained with vicissitudes of success adverse and favorable.

Similar motives have rendered expedient the keeping of a like force on
the coasts of Peru and Chile on the Pacific. The irregular and
convulsive character of the war upon the shores has been extended to
the conflicts upon the ocean. An active warfare has been kept up for
years with alternate success, though generally to the advantage of the
American patriots. But their naval forces have not always been under
the control of their own Governments. Blockades, unjustifiable upon any
acknowledged principles of international law, have been proclaimed by
officers in command, and though disavowed by the supreme authorities,
the protection of our own commerce against them has been made cause of
complaint and erroneous imputations against some of the most gallant
officers of our Navy. Complaints equally groundless have been made by
the commanders of the Spanish royal forces in those seas; but the most
effective protection to our commerce has been the flag and the firmness
of our own commanding officers.

The cessation of the war by the complete triumph of the patriot cause
has removed, it is hoped, all cause of dissension with one party and
all vestige of force of the other. But an unsettled coast of many
degrees of latitude forming a part of our own territory and a
flourishing commerce and fishery extending to the islands of the
Pacific and to China still require that the protecting power of the
Union should be displayed under its flag as well upon the ocean as upon
the land.

The objects of the West India Squadron have been to carry into
execution the laws for the suppression of the African slave trade; for
the protection of our commerce against vessels of piratical character,
though bearing commissions from either of the belligerent parties; for
its protection against open and unequivocal pirates. These objects
during the present year have been accomplished more effectually than at
any former period. The African slave trade has long been excluded from
the use of our flag, and if some few citizens of our country have
continued to set the laws of the Union as well as those of nature and
humanity at defiance by persevering in that abominable traffic, it has
been only by sheltering themselves under the banners of other nations
less earnest for the total extinction of the trade of ours.

The active, persevering, and unremitted energy of Captain Warrington
and of the officers and men under his command on that trying and
perilous service have been crowned with signal success, and are
entitled to the approbation of their country. But experience has shown
that not even a temporary suspension or relaxation from assiduity can
be indulged on that station without reproducing piracy and murder in
all their horrors; nor is it probably that for years to come our
immensely valuable commerce in those seas can navigate in security
without the steady continuance of an armed force devoted to its

It were, indeed, a vain and dangerous illusion to believe that in the
present or probable condition of human society a commerce so extensive
and so rich as ours could exist and be pursued in safety without the
continual support of a military marine--the only arm by which the power
of this Confederacy can be estimated or felt by foreign nations, and
the only standing military force which can never be dangerous to our
own liberties at home. A permanent naval peace establishment,
therefore, adapted to our present condition, and adaptable to that
gigantic growth with which the nation is advancing in its career, is
among the subjects which have already occupied the foresight of the
last Congress, and which will deserve your serious deliberations. Our
Navy, commenced at an early period of our present political
organization upon a scale commensurate with the incipient energies, the
scanty resources, and the comparative indigence of our infancy, was
even then found adequate to cope with all the powers of Barbary, save
the first, and with one of the principle maritime powers of Europe.

At a period of further advancement, but with little accession of
strength, it not only sustained with honor the most unequal of
conflicts, but covered itself and our country with unfading glory. But
it is only since the close of the late war that by the numbers and
force of the ships of which it was composed it could deserve the name
of a navy. Yet it retains nearly the same organization as when it
consisted only of five frigates. The rules and regulations by which it
is governed earnestly call for revision, and the want of a naval school
of instruction, corresponding with the Military Academy at West Point,
for the formation of scientific and accomplished officers, is felt with
daily increasing aggravation.

The act of Congress of May 26th, 1824, authorizing an examination and
survey of the harbor of Charleston, in South Carolina, of St. Marys, in
Georgia, and of the coast of Florida, and for other purposes, has been
executed so far as the appropriation would admit. Those of the 3d of
March last, authorizing the establishment of a navy yard and depot on
the coast of Florida, in the Gulf of Mexico, and authorizing the
building of ten sloops of war, and for other purposes, are in the
course of execution, for the particulars of which and other objects
connected with this Department I refer to the report of the Secretary
of the Navy, herewith communicated.

A report from the Post Master General is also submitted, exhibiting the
present flourishing condition of that Department. For the first time
for many years the receipts for the year ending on the first of July
last exceeded the expenditures during the same period to the amount of
more than $45,000. Other facts equally creditable to the administration
of this Department are that in two years from July 1st, 1823, an
improvement of more than $185,000 in its pecuniary affairs has been
realized; that in the same interval the increase of the transportation
of the mail has exceeded 1,500,000 miles annually, and that 1,040 new
post offices have been established. It hence appears that under
judicious management the income from this establishment may be relied
on as fully adequate to defray its expenses, and that by the
discontinuance of post roads altogether unproductive, others of more
useful character may be opened, 'til the circulation of the mail shall
keep pace with the spread of our population, and the comforts of
friendly correspondence, the exchanges of internal traffic, and the
lights of the periodical press shall be distributed to the remotest
corners of the Union, at a charge scarcely perceptible to any
individual, and without the cost of a dollar to the public Treasury.

Upon this first occasion of addressing the Legislature of the Union,
with which I have been honored, in presenting to their view the
execution so far as it has been effected of the measures sanctioned by
them for promoting the internal improvement of our country, I can not
close the communication without recommending to their calm and
persevering consideration the general principle in a more enlarged
extent. The great object of the institution of civil government is the
improvement of the condition of those who are parties to the social
compact, and no government, in what ever form constituted, can
accomplish the lawful ends of its institution but in proportion as it
improves the condition of those over whom it is established. Roads and
canals, by multiplying and facilitating the communications and
intercourse between distant regions and multitudes of men, are among
the most important means of improvement. But moral, political,
intellectual improvement are duties assigned by the Author of Our
Existence to social no less than to individual man.

For the fulfillment of those duties governments are invested with
power, and to the attainment of the end--the progressive improvement of
the condition of the governed--the exercise of delegated powers is a
duty as sacred and indispensable as the usurpation of powers not
granted is criminal and odious.

Among the first, perhaps the very first, instrument for the improvement
of the condition of men is knowledge, and to the acquisition of much of
the knowledge adapted to the wants, the comforts, and enjoyments of
human life public institutions and seminaries of learning are
essential. So convinced of this was the first of my predecessors in
this office, now first in the memory, as, living, he was first in the
hearts, of our country-men, that once and again in his addresses to the
Congresses with whom he cooperated in the public service he earnestly
recommended the establishment of seminaries of learning, to prepare for
all the emergencies of peace and war--a national university and a
military academy. With respect to the latter, had he lived to the
present day, in turning his eyes to the institution at West Point he
would have enjoyed the gratification of his most earnest wishes; but in
surveying the city which has been honored with his name he would have
seen the spot of earth which he had destined and bequeathed to the use
and benefit of his country as the site for a university still bare and

In assuming her station among the civilized nations of the earth it
would seem that our country had contracted the engagement to contribute
her share of mind, of labor, and of expense to the improvement of those
parts of knowledge which lie beyond the reach of individual
acquisition, and particularly to geographical and astronomical science.
Looking back to the history only of the half century since the
declaration of our independence, and observing the generous emulation
with which the Governments of France, Great Britain, and Russia have
devoted the genius, the intelligence, the treasures of their respective
nations to the common improvement of the species in these branches of
science, is it not incumbent upon us to inquire whether we are not
bound by obligations of a high and honorable character to contribute
our portion of energy and exertion to the common stock? The voyages of
discovery prosecuted in the course of that time at the expense of those
nations have not only redounded to their glory, but to the improvement
of human knowledge.

We have been partakers of that improvement and owe for it a sacred
debt, not only of gratitude, but of equal or proportional exertion in
the same common cause. Of the cost of these undertakings, if the mere
expenditures of outfit, equipment, and completion of the expeditions
were to be considered the only charges, it would be unworthy of a great
and generous nation to take a second thought. One hundred expeditions
of circumnavigation like those of Cook and La Prouse would not burden
the exchequer of the nation fitting them out so much as the ways and
means of defraying a single campaign in war. But if we take into
account the lives of those benefactors of man-kind of which their
services in the cause of their species were the purchase, how shall the
cost of those heroic enterprises be estimated, and what compensation
can be made to them or to their countries for them? Is it not by
bearing them in affectionate remembrance? Is it not still more by
imitating their example--by enabling country-men of our own to pursue
the same career and to hazard their lives in the same cause?

In inviting the attention of Congress to the subject of internal
improvements upon a view thus enlarged it is not my desire to recommend
the equipment of an expedition for circumnavigating the globe for
purposes of scientific research and inquiry. We have objects of useful
investigation nearer home, and to which our cares may be more
beneficially applied. The interior of our own territories has yet been
very imperfectly explored. Our coasts along many degrees of latitude
upon the shores of the Pacific Ocean, though much frequented by our
spirited commercial navigators, have been barely visited by our public
ships. The River of the West, first fully discovered and navigated by a
country-man of our own, still bears the name of the ship in which he
ascended its waters, and claims the protection of our armed national
flag at its mouth. With the establishment of a military post there or
at some other point of that coast, recommended by my predecessor and
already matured in the deliberations of the last Congress, I would
suggest the expediency of connecting the equipment of a public ship for
the exploration of the whole north-west coast of this continent.

The establishment of an uniform standard of weights and measures was
one of the specific objects contemplated in the formation of our
Constitution, and to fix that standard was on of the powers delegated
by express terms in that instrument to Congress. The Governments of
Great Britain and France have scarcely ceased to be occupied with
inquiries and speculations on the same subject since the existence of
our Constitution, and with them it has expanded into profound,
laborious, and expensive researches into the figure of the earth and
the comparative length of the pendulum vibrating seconds in various
latitudes from the equator to the pole. These researches have resulted
in the composition and publication of several works highly interesting
to the cause of science. The experiments are yet in the process of
performance. Some of them have recently been made on our own shores,
within the walls of one of our own colleges, and partly by one of our
own fellow citizens. It would be honorable to our country if the sequel
of the same experiments should be countenanced by the patronage of our
Government, as they have hitherto been by those of France and Britain.

Connected with the establishment of an university, or separate from it,
might be undertaken the erection of an astronomical observatory, with
provision for the support of an astronomer, to be in constant
attendance of observation upon the phenomena of the heavens, and for
the periodical publication of his observances. It is with no feeling of
pride as an American that the remark may be made that on the
comparatively small territorial surface of Europe there are existing
upward of 130 of these light-houses of the skies, while throughout the
whole American hemisphere there is not one. If we reflect a moment upon
the discoveries which in the last four centuries have been made in the
physical constitution of the universe by the means of these buildings
and of observers stationed in them, shall we doubt of their usefulness
to every nation? And while scarcely a year passes over our heads
without bringing some new astronomical discovery to light, which we
must fain receive at second hand from Europe, are we not cutting
ourselves off from the means of returning light for light while we have
neither observatory nor observer upon our half of the globe and the
earth revolves in perpetual darkness to our unsearching eyes?

When, on October 25th, 1791, the first President of the United States
announced to Congress the result of the first enumeration of the
inhabitants of this Union, he informed them that the returns gave the
pleasing assurance that the population of the United States bordered on
4,000,000 persons. At the distance of 30 years from that time the last
enumeration, five years since completed, presented a population
bordering on 10,000,000. Perhaps of all the evidence of a prosperous
and happy condition of human society the rapidity of the increase of
population is the most unequivocal. But the demonstration of our
prosperity rests not alone upon this indication.

Our commerce, our wealth, and the extent of our territories have
increased in corresponding proportions, and the number of independent
communities associated in our Federal Union has since that time nearly
doubled. The legislative representation of the States and people in the
two Houses of Congress has grown with the growth of their constituent
bodies. The House, which then consisted of 65 members, now numbers
upward of 200. The Senate, which consisted of 26 members, has now 48.
But the executive and, still more, the judiciary departments are yet in
a great measure confined to their primitive organization, and are now
not adequate to the urgent wants of a still growing community.

The naval armaments, which at an early period forced themselves upon
the necessities of the Union, soon led to the establishment of a
Department of the Navy. But the Departments of Foreign Affairs and of
the Interior, which early after the formation of the Government had
been united in one, continue so united to this time, to the
unquestionable detriment of the public service. The multiplication of
our relations with the nations and Governments of the Old World has
kept pace with that of our population and commerce, while within the
last ten years a new family of nations in our own hemisphere has arisen
among the inhabitants of the earth, with whom our intercourse,
commercial and political, would of itself furnish occupation to an
active and industrious department.

The constitution of the judiciary, experimental and imperfect as it was
even in the infancy of our existing Government, is yet more inadequate
to the administration of national justice at our present maturity. Nine
years have elapsed since a predecessor in this office, now not the
last, the citizen who, perhaps, of all others throughout the Union
contributed most to the formation and establishment of our
Constitution, in his valedictory address to Congress, immediately
preceding his retirement from public life, urgently recommended the
revision of the judiciary and the establishment of an additional
executive department. The exigencies of the public service and its
unavoidable deficiencies, as now in exercise, have added yearly
cumulative weight to the considerations presented by him as persuasive
to the measure, and in recommending it to your deliberations I am happy
to have the influence of this high authority in aid of the undoubting
convictions of my own experience.

The laws relating to the administration of the Patent Office are
deserving of much consideration and perhaps susceptible of some
improvement. The grant of power to regulate the action of Congress upon
this subject has specified both the end to be obtained and the means by
which it is to be effected, "to promote the progress of science and
useful arts by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the
exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries". If an
honest pride might be indulged in the reflection that on the records of
that office are already found inventions the usefulness of which has
scarcely been transcended in the annals of human ingenuity, would not
its exultation be allayed by the inquiry whether the laws have
effectively insured to the inventors the reward destined to them by the
Constitution--even a limited term of exclusive right to their

On December 24th, 1799, it was resolved by Congress that a marble
monument should be erected by the United States in the Capitol at the
city of Washington; that the family of General Washington should be
requested to permit his body to be deposited under it, and that the
monument be so designed as to commemorate the great events of his
military and political life. In reminding Congress of this resolution
and that the monument contemplated by it remains yet without execution,
I shall indulge only the remarks that the works at the Capitol are
approaching to completion; that the consent of the family, desired by
the resolution, was requested and obtained; that a monument has been
recently erected in this city over the remains of another distinguished
patriot of the Revolution, and that a spot has been reserved within the
walls where you are deliberating for the benefit of this and future
ages, in which the mortal remains may be deposited of him whose spirit
hovers over you and listens with delight to every act of the
representatives of his nation which can tend to exalt and adorn his and
their country.

The Constitution under which you are assembled is a charter of limited
powers. After full and solemn deliberation upon all or any of the
objects which, urged by an irresistible sense of my own duty, I have
recommended to your attention should you come to the conclusion that,
however desirable in themselves, the enactment of laws for effecting
them would transcend the powers committed to you by that venerable
instrument which we are all bound to support, let no consideration
induce you to assume the exercise of powers not granted to you by the

But if the power to exercise exclusive legislation in all cases what so
ever over the District of Columbia; if the power to lay and collect
taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts and provide for
the common defense and general welfare of the United States; if the
power to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the several
States and with the Indian tribes, to fix the standard of weights and
measures, to establish post offices and post roads, to declare war, to
raise and support armies, to provide and maintain a navy, to dispose of
and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or
other property belonging to the United States, and to make all laws
which shall be necessary and proper for carrying these powers into
execution--if these powers and others enumerated in the Constitution
may be effectually brought into action by laws promoting the
improvement of agriculture, commerce, and manufactures, the cultivation
and encouragement of the mechanic and of the elegant arts, the
advancement of literature, and the progress of the sciences, ornamental
and profound, to refrain from exercising them for the benefit of the
people themselves would be to hide in the earth the talent committed to
our charge--would be treachery to the most sacred of trusts.

The spirit of improvement is abroad upon the earth. It stimulates the
hearts and sharpens the faculties not of our fellow citizens alone, but
of the nations of Europe and of their rulers. While dwelling with
pleasing satisfaction upon the superior excellence of our political
institutions, let us not be unmindful that liberty is power; that the
nation blessed with the largest portion of liberty must in proportion
to its numbers be the most powerful nation upon earth, and that the
tenure of power by man is, in the moral purposes of his Creator, upon
condition that it shall be exercised to ends of beneficence, to improve
the condition of himself and his fellow men.

While foreign nations less blessed with that freedom which is power
than ourselves are advancing with gigantic strides in the career of
public improvement, were we to slumber in indolence or fold up our arms
and proclaim to the world that we are palsied by the will of our
constituents, would it not be to cast away the bounties of Providence
and doom ourselves to perpetual inferiority? In the course of the year
now drawing to its close we have beheld, under the auspices and at the
expense of one State of this Union, a new university unfolding its
portals to the sons of science and holding up the torch of human
improvement to eyes that seek the light. We have seen under the
persevering and enlightened enterprise of another State the waters of
our Western lakes mingle with those of the ocean. If undertakings like
these have been accomplished in the compass of a few years by the
authority of single members of our Confederation, can we, the
representative authorities of the whole Union, fall behind our fellow
servants in the exercise of the trust committed to us for the benefit
of our common sovereign by the accomplishment of works important to the
whole and to which neither the authority nor the resources of any one
State can be adequate?

Finally, fellow citizens, I shall await with cheering hope and faithful
cooperation the result of your deliberations, assured that, without
encroaching upon the powers reserved to the authorities of the
respective States or to the people, you will, with a due sense of your
obligations to your country and of the high responsibilities weighing
upon yourselves, give efficacy to the means committed to you for the
common good. And may He who searches the hearts of the children of men
prosper your exertions to secure the blessings of peace and promote the
highest welfare of your country.



State of the Union Address
John Quincy Adams
December 5, 1826

Fellow Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

The assemblage of the representatives of our Union in both Houses of
the Congress at this time occurs under circumstances calling for the
renewed homage of our grateful acknowledgments to the Giver of All
Good. With the exceptions incidental to the most felicitous condition
of human existence, we continue to be highly favored in all the
elements which contribute to individual comfort and to national
prosperity. In the survey of our extensive country we have generally to
observe abodes of health and regions of plenty. In our civil and
political relations we have peace without and tranquillity within our
borders. We are, as a people, increasing with unabated rapidity in
population, wealth, and national resources, and whatever differences of
opinion exist among us with regard to the mode and the means by which
we shall turn the beneficence of Heaven to the improvement of our own
condition, there is yet a spirit animating us all which will not suffer
the bounties of Providence to be showered upon us in vain, but will
receive them with grateful hearts, and apply them with unwearied hands
to the advancement of the general good.

Of the subjects recommended to Congress at their last session, some
were then definitively acted upon. Others, left unfinished, but partly
matured, will recur to your attention without needing a renewal of
notice from me. The purpose of this communication will be to present to
your view the general aspect of our public affairs at this moment and
the measures which have been taken to carry into effect the intentions
of the Legislature as signified by the laws then and heretofore

In our intercourse with the other nations of the earth we have still
the happiness of enjoying peace and a general good understanding,
qualified, however, in several important instances by collisions of
interest and by unsatisfied claims of justice, to the settlement of
which the constitutional interposition of the legislative authority may
become ultimately indispensable.

By the decease of the Emperor Alexander of Russia, which occurred
contemporaneously with the commencement of the last session of
Congress, the United States have been deprived of a long tried, steady,
and faithful friend. Born to the inheritance of absolute power and
trained in the school of adversity, from which no power on earth,
however absolute, is exempt, that monarch from his youth had been
taught to feel the force and value of public opinion and to be sensible
that the interests of his own Government would best be promoted by a
frank and friendly intercourse with this Republic, as those of his
people would be advanced by a liberal intercourse with our country. A
candid and confidential interchange of sentiments between him and the
Government of the United States upon the affairs of Southern America
took place at a period not long preceding his demise, and contributed
to fix that course of policy which left to the other Governments of
Europe no alternative but that of sooner or later recognizing the
independence of our southern neighbors, of which the example had by the
United States already been set.

The ordinary diplomatic communications between his successor, the
Emperor Nicholas, and the United States have suffered some interruption
by the illness, departure, and subsequent decease of his minister
residing here, who enjoyed, as he merited, the entire confidence of his
new sovereign, as he had eminently responded to that of his
predecessor. But we have had the most satisfactory assurances that the
sentiments of the reigning Emperor toward the United States are
altogether conformable to those which had so long and constantly
animated his imperial brother, and we have reason to hope that they
will serve to cement that harmony and good understanding between the
two nations which, founded in congenial interests, can not but result
in the advancement of the welfare and prosperity of both.

Our relations of commerce and navigation with France are, by the
operation of the convention of June 24th, 1822, with that nation, in a
state of gradual and progressive improvement. Convinced by all our
experience, no less than by the principles of fair and liberal
reciprocity which the United States have constantly tendered to all the
nations of the earth as the rule of commercial intercourse which they
would universally prefer, that fair and equal competition is most
conducive to the interests of both parties, the United States in the
negotiation of that convention earnestly contended for a mutual
renunciation of discriminating duties and charges in the ports of the
two countries. Unable to obtain the immediate recognition of this
principle in its full extent, after reducing the duties of
discrimination so far as was found attainable it was agreed that at the
expiration of two years from October 1st, 1822, when the convention was
to go into effect, unless a notice of six months on either side should
be given to the other that the convention itself must terminate, those
duties should be reduced one quarter, and that this reduction should be
yearly repeated, until all discrimination should cease, while the
convention itself should continue in force. By the effect of this
stipulation three quarters of the discriminating duties which had been
levied by each party upon the vessels of the other in its ports have
already been removed; and on the first of next October, should the
convention be still in force, the remaining one quarter will be
discontinued. French vessels laden with French produce will be received
in our ports on the same terms as our own, and ours in return will
enjoy the same advantages in the ports of France.

By these approximations to an equality of duties and of charges not
only has the commerce between the two countries prospered, but friendly
dispositions have been on both sides encouraged and promoted. They will
continue to be cherished and cultivated on the part of the United
States. It would have been gratifying to have had it in my power to add
that the claims upon the justice of the French Government, involving
the property and the comfortable subsistence of many of our fellow
citizens, and which have been so long and so earnestly urged, were in a
more promising train of adjustment than at your last meeting; but their
condition remains unaltered.

With the Government of the Netherlands the mutual abandonment of
discriminating duties had been regulated by legislative acts on both
sides. The act of Congress of April 20th, 1818, abolished all
discriminating duties of impost and tonnage upon the vessels and
produce of the Netherlands in the ports of the United States upon the
assurance given by the Government of the Netherlands that all such
duties operating against the shipping and commerce of the United States
in that Kingdom had been abolished. These reciprocal regulations had
continued in force several years when the discriminating principle was
resumed by the Netherlands in a new and indirect form by a bounty of
10% in the shape of a return of duties to their national vessels, and
in which those of the United States are not permitted to participate.
By the act of Congress of January 7th, 1824, all discriminating duties
in the United States were again suspended, so far as related to the
vessels and produce of the Netherlands, so long as the reciprocal
exemption should be extended to the vessels and produce of the United
States in the Netherlands. But the same act provides that in the event
of a restoration of discriminating duties to operate against the
shipping and commerce of the United States in any of the foreign
countries referred to therein the suspension of discriminating duties
in favor of the navigation of such foreign country should cease and all
the provisions of the acts imposing discriminating foreign tonnage and
impost duties in the United States should revive and be in full force
with regard to that nation.

In the correspondence with the Government of the Netherlands upon this
subject they have contended that the favor shown to their own shipping
by this bounty upon their tonnage is not to be considered a
discriminating duty; but it can not be denied that it produces all the
same effects. Had the mutual abolition been stipulated by treaty, such
a bounty upon the national vessels could scarcely have been granted
consistent with good faith. Yet as the act of Congress of January 7th,
1824 has not expressly authorized the Executive authority to determine
what shall be considered as a revival of discriminating duties by a
foreign government to the disadvantage of the United States, and as the
retaliatory measure on our part, however just and necessary, may tend
rather to that conflict of legislation which we deprecate than to that
concert to which we invite all commercial nations, as most conducive to
their interest and our own, I have thought it more consistent with the
spirit of our institutions to refer to the subject again to the
paramount authority of the Legislature to decide what measure the
emergency may require than abruptly by proclamation to carry into
effect the minatory provisions of the act of 1824.

During the last session of Congress treaties of amity, navigation, and
commerce were negotiated and signed at this place with the Government
of Denmark, in Europe, and with the Federation of Central America, in
this hemisphere. These treaties then received the constitutional
sanction of the Senate, by the advice and consent to their
ratification. They were accordingly ratified on the part of the United
States, and during the recess of Congress have been also ratified by
the other respective contracting parties. The ratifications have been
exchanged, and they have been published by proclamations, copies of
which are herewith communicated to Congress.

These treaties have established between the contracting parties the
principles of equality and reciprocity in their broadest and most
liberal extent, each party admitting the vessels of the other into its
ports, laden with cargoes the produce or manufacture of any quarter of
the globe, upon the payment of the same duties of tonnage and impost
that are chargeable upon their own. They have further stipulated that
the parties shall hereafter grant no favor of navigation or commerce to
any other nation which shall not upon the same terms be granted to each
other, and that neither party will impose upon articles of merchandise
the produce or manufacture of the other any other or higher duties than
upon the like articles being the produce or manufacture of any other
country. To these principles there is in the convention with Denmark an
exception with regard to the colonies of that Kingdom in the arctic
seas, but none with regard to her colonies in the West Indies.

In the course of the last summer the term to which our last commercial
treaty with Sweden was limited has expired. A continuation of it is in
the contemplation of the Swedish Government, and is believed to be
desirable on the part of the United States. It has been proposed by the
King of Sweden that pending the negotiation of renewal the expired
treaty should be mutually considered as still in force, a measure which
will require the sanction of Congress to be carried into effect on our
part, and which I therefore recommend to your consideration.

With Prussia, Spain, Portugal, and, in general, all the European powers
between whom and the United States relations of friendly intercourse
have existed their condition has not materially varied since the last
session of Congress. I regret not to be able to say the same of our
commercial intercourse with the colonial possessions of Great Britain
in America. Negotiations of the highest importance to our common
interests have been for several years in discussion between the two
Governments, and on the part of the United States have been invariably
pursued in the spirit of candor and conciliation. Interests of great
magnitude and delicacy had been adjusted by the conventions of 1815 and
1818, while that of 1822, mediated by the late Emperor Alexander, had
promised a satisfactory compromise of claims which the Government of
the United States, in justice to the rights of a numerous class of
their citizens, was bound to sustain.

But with regard to the commercial intercourse between the United States
and the British colonies in America, it has been hitherto found
impracticable to bring the parties to an understanding satisfactory to
both. The relative geographical position and the respective products of
nature cultivated by human industry had constituted the elements of a
commercial intercourse between the United States and British America,
insular and continental, important to the inhabitants of both
countries; but it had been interdicted by Great Britain upon a
principle heretofore practiced upon by the colonizing nations of
Europe, of holding the trade of their colonies each in exclusive
monopoly to herself.

After the termination of the late war this interdiction had been
revived, and the British Government declined including this portion of
our intercourse with her possessions in the negotiation of the
convention of 1815. The trade was then carried on exclusively in
British vessels 'til the act of Congress, concerning navigation, of
1818 and the supplemental act of 1820 met the interdict by a
corresponding measure on the part of the United States. These measures,
not of retaliation, but of necessary self defense, were soon succeeded
by an act of Parliament opening certain colonial ports to the vessels
of the United States coming directly from them, and to the importation
from them of certain articles of our produce burdened with heavy
duties, and excluding some of the most valuable articles of our
exports. The United States opened their ports to British vessels from
the colonies upon terms as exactly corresponding with those of the act
of Parliament as in the relative position of the parties could be made,
and a negotiation was commenced by mutual consent, with the hope on our
part that a reciprocal spirit of accommodation and a common sentiment
of the importance of the trade to the interests of the inhabitants of
the two countries between whom it must be carried on would ultimately
bring the parties to a compromise with which both might be satisfied.
With this view the Government of the United States had determined to
sacrifice something of that entire reciprocity which in all commercial
arrangements with foreign powers they are entitled to demand, and to
acquiesce in some inequalities disadvantageous to ourselves rather than
to forego the benefit of a final and permanent adjustment of this
interest to the satisfaction of Great Britain herself. The negotiation,
repeatedly suspended by accidental circumstances, was, however, by
mutual agreement and express assent, considered as pending and to be
speedily resumed.

In the mean time another act of Parliament, so doubtful and ambiguous
in its import as to have been misunderstood by the officers in the
colonies who were to carry it into execution, opens again certain
colonial ports upon new conditions and terms, with a threat to close
them against any nation which may not accept those terms as prescribed
by the British Government. This act, passed July, 1825, not
communicated to the Government of the United States, not understood by
the British officers of the customs in the colonies where it was to be
enforced, was never the less submitted to the consideration of Congress
at their last session. With the knowledge that a negotiation upon the
subject had long been in progress and pledges given of its resumption
at an early day, it was deemed expedient to await the result of that
negotiation rather than to subscribe implicitly to terms the import of
which was not clear and which the British authorities themselves in
this hemisphere were not prepared to explain.

Immediately after the close of the last session of Congress one of our
most distinguished citizens was dispatched as envoy extraordinary and
minister plenipotentiary to Great Britain, furnished with instructions
which we could not doubt would lead to a conclusion of this long
controverted interest upon terms acceptable to Great Britain. Upon his
arrival, and before he had delivered his letters of credence, he was
bet by an order of the British council excluding from and after the
first of December now current the vessels of the United States from all
the colonial British ports excepting those immediately bordering on our
territories. In answer to his expostulations upon a measure thus
unexpected he is informed that according to the ancient maxims of
policy of European nations having colonies their trade is an exclusive
possession of the mother country; that all participation in it by other
nations is a boon or favor not forming a subject of negotiation, but to
be regulated by the legislative acts of the power owning the colony;
that the British Government therefore declines negotiating concerning
it, and that as the United States did not forthwith accept purely and
simply the terms offered by the act of Parliament of July, 1825, Great
Britain would not now admit the vessels of the United States even upon
the terms on which she has opened them to the navigation of other

We have been accustomed to consider the trade which we have enjoyed
with the British colonies rather as an interchange of mutual benefits
than as a mere favor received; that under every circumstance we have
given an ample equivalent. We have seen every other nation holding
colonies negotiate with other nations and grant them freely admission
to the colonies by treaty, and so far are the other colonizing nations
of Europe now from refusing to negotiate for trade with their colonies
that we ourselves have secured access to the colonies of more than one
of them by treaty. The refusal, however, of Great Britain to negotiate
leaves to the United States no other alternative than that of
regulating or interdicting altogether the trade on their part,
according as either measure may effect the interests of our own
country, and with that exclusive object I would recommend the whole
subject to your calm and candid deliberations.

It is hoped that our unavailing exertions to accomplish a cordial good
understanding on this interest will not have an unpropitious effect
upon the other great topics of discussion between the two Governments.
Our north-eastern and north-western boundaries are still unadjusted.
The commissioners under the 7th article of the treaty of Ghent have
nearly come to the close of their labors; nor can we renounce the
expectation, enfeebled as it is, that they may agree upon their report
to the satisfaction or acquiescence of both parties. The commission for
liquidating the claims for indemnity for slaves carried away after the
close of the war has been sitting, with doubtful prospects of success.
Propositions of compromise have, however, passed between the two
Governments, the result of which we flatter ourselves may yet prove
unsatisfactory. Our own dispositions and purposes toward Great Britain
are all friendly and conciliatory; nor can we abandon but with strong
reluctance the belief that they will ultimately meet a return, not of
favors, which we neither as nor desire, but of equal reciprocity and
good will.

With the American Governments of this hemisphere we continue to
maintain an intercourse altogether friendly, and between their nations
and ours that commercial interchange of which mutual benefit is the
source of mutual comfort and harmony the result is in a continual state
of improvement. The war between Spain and them since the total
expulsion of the Spanish military force from their continental
territories has been little more than nominal, and their internal
tranquillity, though occasionally menaced by the agitations which civil
wars never fail to leave behind them, has not been affected by any
serious calamity.

The congress of ministers from several of those nations which assembled
at Panama, after a short session there, adjourned to meet again at a
more favorable season in the neighborhood of Mexico. The decease of one
of our ministers on his way to the Isthmus, and the impediments of the
season, which delayed the departure of the other, deprived United
States of the advantage of being represented at the first meeting of
the congress. There is, however, no reason to believe that any
transactions of the congress were of a nature to affect injuriously the
interests of the United States or to require the interposition of our
ministers had they been present. Their absence has, indeed, deprived
United States of the opportunity of possessing precise and authentic
information of the treaties which were concluded at Panama; and the
whole result has confirmed me in the conviction of the expediency to
the United States of being represented at the congress. The surviving
member of the mission, appointed during your last session, has
accordingly proceeded to his destination, and a successor to his
distinguished and lamented associate will be nominated to the Senate. A
treaty of amity, navigation, and commerce has in the course of the last
summer been concluded by our minister plenipotentiary at Mexico with
the united states of that Confederacy, which will also be laid before
the Senate for their advice with regard to its ratification.

In adverting to the present condition of our fiscal concerns and to the
prospects of our revenue the first remark that calls our attention is
that they are less exuberantly prosperous than they were at the
corresponding period of the last year. The severe shock so extensively
sustained by the commercial and manufacturing interests in Great
Britain has not been without a perceptible recoil upon ourselves. A
reduced importation from abroad is necessarily succeeded by a reduced
return to the Treasury at home. The net revenue of the present year
will not equal that of the last, and the receipts of that which is to
come will fall short of those in the current year. The diminution,
however, is in part attributable to the flourishing condition of some
of our domestic manufactures, and so far is compensated by an
equivalent more profitable to the nation.

It is also highly gratifying to perceive that the deficiency in the
revenue, while it scarcely exceeds the anticipations of the last year's
estimate from the Treasury, has not interrupted the application of more
than $11 millions during the present year to the discharge of the
principal and interest of the debt, nor the reduction of upward of
$7,000,000 of the capital of the debt itself. The balance in the
Treasury on the first of January last was $5,201,650.43; the receipts
from that time to the 30th of September last were $19,585,932.50; the
receipts of the current quarter, estimated at $6,000,000, yield, with
the sums already received, a revenue of about $25,500,000 for the year;
the expenditures for the first 3 quarters of the year have amounted to
$18,714,226.66; the expenditures of the current quarter are expected,
including the $2,000,000 of the principal of the debt to be paid, to
balance the receipts; so that the expense of the year, amounting to
upward of $1,000,000 less than its income, will leave a proportionally
increased balance in the Treasury on January 1st, 1827, over that of
the first of January last; instead of $5,200,000 there will be

The amount of duties secured on merchandise imported from the commence
of the year 'til September 30 is estimated at $21,250,000, and the
amount that will probably accrue during the present quarter is
estimated at $4,250,000, making for the whole year $25,500,000, from
which the draw-backs being deducted will leave a clear revenue from the
customs receivable in the year 1827 of about $20,400,000, which, with
the sums to be received from the proceeds of public lands, the bank
dividends, and other incidental receipts, will form an aggregate of
about $23,000,000, a sum falling short of the whole expenses of the
present year little more than the portion of those expenditures applied
to the discharge of the public debt beyond the annual appropriation of
$10,000,000 by the act of March 3d, 1817. At the passage of that act
the public debt amounted to $123,500,000. On the first of January next
it will be short of $74,000,000. In the lapse of these 10 years
$50,000,000 of public debt, with the annual charge of upward of
$3,000,000 of interest upon them, have been extinguished. At the
passage of tat act, of the annual appropriation of $10,000,000,
$7,000,000 were absorbed in the payment of interest, and not more than
$3,000,000 went to reduce the capital of the debt. Of the same
$10,000,000, at this time scarcely $4,000,000 are applicable to the
interest and upward of $6,000,000 are effective in melting down the

Yet our experience has proved that a revenue consisting so largely of
imposts and tonnage ebbs and flows to an extraordinary extent, with all
the fluctuations incident to the general commerce of the world. It is
within our recollection that even in the compass of the same last ten
years the receipts of the Treasury were not adequate to the
expenditures of the year, and that in two successive years it was found
necessary to resort to loans to meet the engagements of the nation. The
returning tides of the succeeding years replenished the public coffers
until they have again begun to feel the vicissitude of a decline. To
produce these alternations of fullness and exhaustion the relative
operation of abundant or unfruitful seasons, the regulations of foreign
governments, political revolutions, the prosperous or decaying
condition of manufactures, commercial speculations, and many other
causes, not always to be traced, variously combine.

We have found the alternate swells and diminutions embracing periods of
from two to three years. The last period of depression to United States
was from 1819 to 1822. The corresponding revival was from 1823 to the
commencement of the present year. Still, we have no cause to apprehend
a depression comparable to that of the former period, or even to
anticipate a deficiency which will intrench upon the ability to apply
the annual $10 millions to the reduction of the debt. It is well for
us, however, to be admonished of the necessity of abiding by the maxims
of the most vigilant economy, and of resorting to all honorable and
useful expedients for pursuing with steady and inflexible perseverance
the total discharge of the debt.

Besides the $7,000,000 of the loans of 1813 which will have been
discharged in the course of the present year, there are $9,000,000
which by the terms of the contracts would have been and are now
redeemable. $13,000,000 more of the loan of 1814 will become redeemable
from and after the expiration of the present month, and $9,000,000
other from and after the close of the ensuing year. They constitute a
mass of $31,000,000, all bearing an interest of 6%, more than
$20,000,000 of which will be immediately redeemable, and the rest
within little more than a year. Leaving of this amount $15,000,000 to
continue at the interest of 6%, but to be paid off as far as shall be
found practicable in the years 1827 and 1828, there is scarcely a doubt
that the remaining $16,000,000 might within a few months be discharged
by a loan at not exceeding 5%, redeemable in the years 1829 and 1830.
By this operation a sum of nearly $500,000 may be saved to the nation,
and the discharge of the whole $31,000,000 within the four years may be
greatly facilitated if not wholly accomplished.

By an act of Congress of March 3d, 1825, a loan for the purpose now
referred to, or a subscription to stock, was authorized, at an interest
not exceeding 4.5%. But at that time so large a portion of the floating
capital of the country was absorbed in commercial speculations and so
little was left for investment in the stocks that the measure was but
partially successful. At the last session of Congress the condition of
the funds was still unpropitious to the measure; but the change so soon
afterwards occurred that, had the authority existed to redeem the $9
millions now redeemable by an exchange of stocks or a loan at 5%, it is
morally certain that it might have been effected, and with it a yearly
saving of $90,000.

With regard to the collection of the revenue of imposts, certain
occurrences have within the last year been disclosed in one or two of
our principal ports, which engaged the attention of Congress at their
last session and may hereafter require further consideration. Until
within a very few years the execution of the laws for raising the
revenue, like that of all our other laws, has been insured more by the
moral sense of the community than by the rigors of a jealous precaution
or by penal sanction. Confiding in the exemplary punctuality and
unsullied integrity of our importing merchants, a gradual relaxation
from the provisions of the collection laws, a close adherence to which
have caused inconvenience and expense to them, had long become
habitual, and indulgences had been extended universally because they
had never been abused. It may be worthy of your serious consideration
whether some further legislative provision may not be necessary to come
in aid of this state of unguarded security.

From the reports herewith communicated of the Secretaries of War and of
the Navy, with the subsidiary documents annexed to them, will be
discovered the present condition and administration of our military
establishment on the land and on the sea. The organization of the Army
having undergone no change since its reduction to the present peace
establishment in 1821, it remains only to observe that it is yet found
adequate to all the purposes for which a permanent armed force in time
of peace can be needed or useful. It may be proper to add that, from a
difference of opinion between the late President of the United States
and the Senate with regard to the construction of the act of Congress
of March 2d, 1821, to reduce and fix the military peace establishment
of the United States, it remains hitherto so far without execution that
no colonel has been appointed to command one of the regiments of
artillery. A supplementary or explanatory act of the Legislature
appears to be the only expedient practicable for removing the
difficulty of this appointment.

In a period of profound peace the conduct of the mere military
establishment forms but a very inconsiderable portion of the duties
devolving upon the administration of the Department of War. It will be
seen by the returns from the subordinate departments of the Army that
every branch of the service is marked with order, regularity, and
discipline; that from the commanding general through all the gradations
of superintendence the officers feel themselves to have been citizens
before they were soldiers, and that the glory of a republican army must
consist in the spirit of freedom, by which it is animated, and of
patriotism, by which it is impelled. It may be confidently stated that
the moral character of the Army is in a state of continual improvement,
and that all the arrangements for the disposal of its parts have a
constant reference to that end.

But to the War Department are attributed other duties, having, indeed,
relation to a future possible condition of war, but being purely
defensive, and in their tendency contributing rather to the security
and permanency of peace--the erection of the fortifications provided
for by Congress, and adapted to secure our shores from hostile
invasion; the distribution of the fund of public gratitude and justice
to the pensioners of the Revolutionary war; the maintenance of our
relations of peace and protection with the Indian tribes, and the
internal improvements and surveys for the location of roads and canals,
which during the last three sessions of Congress have engaged so much
of their attention, and may engross so large a share of their future
benefactions to our country.

By the act of April 30th, 1824, suggested and approved by my
predecessor, the sum of $30,000 was appropriated for the purpose of
causing to be made the necessary surveys, plans, and estimates of the
routes of such roads and canals as the President of the United States
might deem of national importance in a commercial or military point of
view, or necessary for the transportation of the public mail. The
surveys, plans, and estimates for each, when completed, will be laid
before Congress.

In execution of this act a board of engineers was immediately
instituted, and have been since most assiduously and constantly
occupied in carrying it into effect. The first object to which their
labors were directed, by order of the late President, was the
examination of the country between the tide waters of the Potomac, the
Ohio, and Lake Erie, to ascertain the practicability of a communication
between them, to designate the most suitable route for the same, and to
form plans and estimates in detail of the expense of execution.

On March 2d, 1825, they made their first report, which was immediately
communicated to Congress, and in which they declared that having
maturely considered the circumstances observed by them personally, and
carefully studied the results of such of the preliminary surveys as
were then completed, they were decidedly of opinion that the
communication was practicable.

At the last session of Congress, before the board of engineers were
enabled to make up their second report containing a general plan and
preparatory estimate for the work, the Committee of the House of
Representatives upon Roads and Canals closed the session with a report
expressing the hope that the plan and estimate of the board of
engineers might at this time be prepared, and that the subject be
referred to the early and favorable consideration of Congress at their
present session. That expected report of the board of engineers is
prepared, and will forthwith be laid before you.

Under the resolution of Congress authorizing the Secretary of War to
have prepared a complete system of cavalry tactics, and a system of
exercise and instruction of field artillery, for the use of the militia
of the United States, to be reported to Congress at the present
session, a board of distinguished officers of the Army and of the
militia has been convened, whose report will be submitted to you with
that of the Secretary of War. The occasion was thought favorable for
consulting the same board, aided by the results of a correspondence
with the governors of the several States and Territories and other
citizens of intelligence and experience, upon the acknowledged
defective condition of our militia system, and of the improvements of
which it is susceptible. The report of the board upon this subject is
also submitted for your consideration.

In the estimates of appropriations for the ensuing year upward of $5
millions will be submitted for the expenditures to be paid from the
Department of War. Less than two fifths of this will be applicable to
the maintenance and support of the Army. $1,500,000, in the form of
pensions, goes as a scarcely adequate tribute to the services and
sacrifices of a former age, and a more than equal sum invested in
fortifications, or for the preparations of internal improvement,
provides for the quiet, the comfort, and happier existence of the ages
to come. The appropriations to indemnify those unfortunate remnants of
another race unable alike to share in the enjoyments and to exist in
the presence of civilization, though swelling in recent years to a
magnitude burdensome to the Treasury, are generally not without their
equivalents in profitable value, or serve to discharge the Union from
engagements more burdensome than debt.

In like manner the estimate of appropriations for the Navy Department
will present an aggregate sum of upward of $3,000,000. About half of
these, however, covers the current expenditures of the Navy in actual
service, and half constitutes a fund of national property, the pledge
of our future glory and defense. It was scarcely one short year after
the close of the late war, and when the burden of its expenses and
charges was weighing heaviest upon the country, that Congress, by the
act of April 29th, 1816, appropriated $1,000,000 annually for eight
years to the gradual increase of the Navy. At a subsequent period this
annual appropriation was reduced to $500,000 for six years, of which
the present year is the last. A yet more recent appropriation the last
two years, for building ten sloops of war, has nearly restored the
original appropriation of 1816 of $1,000,000 for every year.

The result is before United States all. We have 12 line-of-battle
ships, 20 frigates, and sloops of war in proportion, which, with a few
months preparation, may present a line of floating fortifications along
the whole range of our coast ready to meet any invader who might
attempt to set foot upon our shores. Combining with a system of
fortifications upon the shores themselves, commenced about the same
time under the auspices of my immediate predecessor, and hitherto
systematically pursued, it has placed in our possession the most
effective sinews of war and has left us at once an example and a lesson
from which our own duties may be inferred.

The gradual increase of the Navy was the principle of which the act of
April 29th, 1816, was the first development. It was the introduction of
a system to act upon the character and history of our country for an
indefinite series of ages. It was a declaration of that Congress to
their constituents and to posterity that it was the destiny and the
duty of these confederated States to become in regular process of time
and by no petty advances a great naval power. That which they proposed
to accomplish in eight years is rather to be considered as the measure
of their means that the limitation of their design. They looked forward
for a term of years sufficient for the accomplishment of a definite
portion of their purpose, and they left to their successors to fill up
the canvas of which they had traced the large and prophetic outline.
The ships of the line and frigates which they had in contemplation will
be shortly completed. The time which they had allotted for the
accomplishment of the work has more than elapsed. It remains for your
consideration how their successors may contribute their portion of toil
and of treasure for the benefit of the succeeding age in the gradual
increase of our Navy.

There is perhaps no part of the exercise of the constitutional powers
of the Federal Government which has given more general satisfaction to
the people of the Union than this. The system has not been thus
vigorously introduced and hitherto sustained to be now departed from or
abandoned. In continuing to provide for the gradual increase of the
Navy it may not be necessary or expedient to add for the present any
more to the number of our ships; but should you deem it advisable to
continue the yearly appropriation of $0.5 millions to the same objects,
it may be profitably expended in a providing a supply of timber to be
seasoned and other materials for future use in the construction of
docks or in laying the foundations of a school for naval education, as
to the wisdom of Congress either of those measures may appear to claim
the preference.

Of the small portions of this Navy engaged in actual service during the
peace, squadrons have continued to be maintained in the Pacific Ocean,
in the West India seas, and in the Mediterranean, to which has been
added a small armament to cruise on the eastern coast of South America.
In all they have afforded protection to our commerce, have contributed
to make our country advantageously known to foreign nations, have
honorably employed multitudes of our sea men in the service of their
country, and have inured numbers of youths of the rising generation to
lives of manly hardihood and of nautical experience and skill.

The piracies with which the West India seas were for several years
infested have been totally suppressed, but in the Mediterranean they
have increased in a manner afflictive to other nations, and but for the
continued presence of our squadron would probably have been distressing
to our own.

The war which has unfortunately broken out between the Republic of
Buenos Ayres and the Brazilian Government has given rise to very great
irregularities among the naval officers of the latter, by whom
principles in relation to blockades and to neutral navigation have been
brought forward to which we can not subscribe and which our own
commanders have found it necessary to resist. From the friendly
disposition toward the United States constantly manifested by the
Emperor of Brazil, and the very useful and friendly commercial
intercourse between the United States and his dominions, we have reason
to believe that the just reparation demanded for the injuries sustained
by several of our citizens from some of his officers will not be
withheld. Abstracts from the recent dispatches of the commanders of our
several squadrons are communicated with the report of the Secretary of
the Navy to Congress.

A report from the Post Master General is likewise communicated,
presenting in a highly satisfactory manner the result of a vigorous,
efficient, and economical administration of that Department. The
revenue of the office, even of the year including the latter half of
1824 and the first half of 1825, had exceeded its expenditures by a sum
of more than $45,000. That of the succeeding year has been still more
productive. The increase of the receipts in the year preceding the
first of July last over that of the year before exceeds $136,000, and
the excess of the receipts over the expenditures of the year has
swollen from $45,000 to yearly $80,000.

During the same period contracts for additional transportation of the
mail in stages for about 260,000 miles have been made, and for 70,000
miles annually on horse back. 714 new post offices have been
established within the year, and the increase of revenue within the
last three years, as well as the augmentation of the transportation by
mail, is more than equal to the whole amount of receipts and of mail
conveyance at the commencement of the present century, when the seat of
the General Government was removed to this place. When we reflect that
the objects effected by the transportation of the mail are among the
choicest comforts and enjoyments of social life, it is pleasing to
observe that the dissemination of them to every corner of our country
has out-stripped in their increase even the rapid march of our

By the treaties with France and Spain, respectively ceding Louisiana
and the Floridas to the United States, provision was made for the
security of land titles derived from the Governments of those nations.
Some progress has been made under the authority of various acts of
Congress in the ascertainment and establishment of those titles, but
claims to a very large extent remain unadjusted. The public faith no
less than the just rights of individuals and the interest of the
community itself appears to require further provision for the speedy
settlement of those claims, which I therefore recommend to the care and
attention of the Legislature.

In conformity with the provisions of the act of May 20th, 1825, to
provide for erecting a penitentiary in the District of Columbia, and
for other purposes, three commissioners were appointed to select a site
for the erection of a penitentiary for the District, and also a site in
the county of Alexandria for a county jail, both of which objects have
been effected. The building of the penitentiary has been commenced, and
is in such a degree of forwardness as to promise that it will be
completed before the meeting of the next Congress. This consideration
points to the expediency of maturing at the present session a system
for the regulation and government of the penitentiary, and of defining
a system for the regulation and government of the penitentiary, and of
defining the class of offenses which shall be punishable by confinement
in this edifice.

In closing this communication I trust that it will not be deemed
inappropriate to the occasion and purposes upon which we are here
assembled to indulge a momentary retrospect, combining in a single
glance the period of our origin as a national confederation with that
of our present existence, at the precise interval of half a century
from each other. Since your last meeting at this place the 50th
anniversary of the day when our independence was declared has been
celebrated throughout our land, and on that day, while every heart was
bounding with joy and every voice was tuned to gratulation, amid the
blessings of freedom and independence which the sires of a former age
had handed down to their children, two of the principal actors in that
solemn scene--the hand that penned the ever memorable Declaration and
the voice that sustained it in debate--were by one summons, at the
distance of 700 miles from each other, called before the Judge of All
to account for their deeds done upon earth. They departed cheered by
the benedictions of their country, to whom they left the inheritance of
their fame and the memory of their bright example.

If we turn our thoughts to the condition of their country, in the
contrast of the first and last day of that half century, how
resplendent and sublime is the transition from gloom to glory! Then,
glancing through the same lapse of time, in the condition of the
individuals we see the first day marked with the fullness and vigor of
youth, in the pledge of their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred
honor to the cause of freedom and of man-kind; and on the last,
extended on the bed of death, with but sense and sensibility left to
breathe a last aspiration to Heaven of blessing upon their country, may
we not humbly hope that to them too it was a pledge of transition from
gloom to glory, and that while their mortal vestments were sinking into
the clod of the valley their emancipated spirits were ascending to the
bosom of their God!



State of the Union Address
John Quincy Adams
December 4, 1827

Fellow Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

A revolution of the seasons has nearly been completed since the
representatives of the people and States of this Union were last
assembled at this place to deliberate and to act upon the common
important interests of their constituents. In that interval the never
slumbering eye of a wise and beneficent Providence has continued its
guardian care over the welfare of our beloved country; the blessing of
health has continued generally to prevail throughout the land; the
blessing of peace with our brethren of the human race has been enjoyed
without interruption; internal quiet has left our fellow citizens in
the full enjoyment of all their rights and in the free exercise of all
their faculties, to pursue the impulse of their nature and the
obligation of their duty in the improvement of their own condition; the
productions of the soil, the exchanges of commerce, the vivifying
labors of human industry, have combined to mingle in our cup a portion
of enjoyment as large and liberal as the indulgence of Heaven has
perhaps ever granted to the imperfect state of man upon earth; and as
the purest of human felicity consists in its participation with others,
it is no small addition to the sum of our national happiness at this
time that peace and prosperity prevail to a degree seldom experienced
over the whole habitable globe, presenting, though as yet with painful
exceptions, a foretaste of that blessed period of promise when the lion
shall lie down with the lamb and wars shall be no more.

To preserve, to improve, and to perpetuate the sources and to direct in
their most effective channels the streams which contribute to the
public weal is the purpose for which Government was instituted. Objects
of deep importance to the welfare of the Union are constantly recurring
to demand the attention of the Federal Legislature, and they call with
accumulated interest at the first meeting of the two Houses after their
periodical renovation. To present to their consideration from time to
time subjects in which the interests of the nation are most deeply
involved, and for the regulation of which the legislative will is alone
competent, is a duty prescribed by the Constitution, to the performance
of which the first meeting of the new Congress is a period eminently
appropriate, and which it is now my purpose to discharge.

Our relations of friendship with the other nations of the earth,
political and commercial, have been preserved unimpaired, and the
opportunities to improve them have been cultivated with anxious and
unremitting attention. A negotiation upon subjects of high and delicate
interest with the Government of Great Britain has terminated in the
adjustment of some of the questions at issue upon satisfactory terms
and the postponement of others for future discussion and agreement.

The purposes of the convention concluded at St. Petersburg on July
12th, 1822, under the mediation of the late Emperor Alexander, have
been carried into effect by a subsequent convention, concluded at
London on November 13th, 1826, the ratifications of which were
exchanged at that place on February 6th, 1827. A copy of the
proclamations issued on March 19th, 1827, publishing this convention,
is herewith communicated to Congress. The sum of $1,204,960, therein
stipulated to be paid to the claimants of indemnity under the first
article of the treaty of Ghent, has been duly received, and the
commission instituted, conformably to the act of Congress of March 2d,
1827, for the distribution of the indemnity of the persons entitled to
receive it are now in session and approaching the consummation of their
labors. This final disposal of one of the most painful topics of
collision between the United States and Great Britain not only affords
an occasion of gratulation to ourselves, but has had the happiest
effect in promoting a friendly disposition and in softening asperities
upon other objects of discussion; nor ought it to pass without the
tribute of a frank and cordial acknowledgment of the magnanimity with
which an honorable nation, by the reparation of their own wrongs,
achieves a triumph more glorious than any field of blood can ever

The conventions of March 7th, 1815, and of October 20th, 1818, will
expire by their own limitation on October 20th, 1828. These have
regulated the direct commercial intercourse between the United States
and Great Britain upon terms of the most perfect reciprocity; and they
effected a temporary compromise of the respective rights and claims to
territory westward of the Rocky Mountains. These arrangements have been
continued for an indefinite period of time after the expiration of the
above mentioned conventions, leaving each party the liberty of
terminating them by giving twelve months' notice to the other.

The radical principle of all commercial intercourse between independent
nations is the mutual interest of both parties. It is the vital spirit
of trade itself; nor can it be reconciled to the nature of man or to
the primary laws of human society that any traffic should long be
willingly pursued of which all the advantages are on one side and all
the burdens on the other. Treaties of commerce have been found by
experience to be among the most effective instruments for promoting
peace and harmony between nations whose interests, exclusively
considered on either side, are brought into frequent collisions by
competition. In framing such treaties it is the duty of each party not
simply to urge with unyielding pertinacity that which suits its own
interest, but to concede liberally to that which is adapted to the
interest of the other.

To accomplish this, little more is generally required than a simple
observance of the rule of reciprocity, and were it possible for the
states-men of one nation by stratagem and management to obtain from
the weakness or ignorance of another an over-reaching treaty, such a
compact would prove an incentive to war rather than a bond of peace.

Our conventions with Great Britain are founded upon the principles of
reciprocity. The commercial intercourse between the two countries is
greater in magnitude and amount than between any two other nations on
the globe. It is for all purposes of benefit or advantage to both as
precious, and in all probability far more extensive, than if the
parties were still constituent parts of one and the same nation.
Treaties between such States, regulating the intercourse of peace
between them and adjusting interests of such transcendent importance to
both, which have been found in a long experience of years mutually
advantageous, should not be lightly cancelled or discontinued. Two
conventions for continuing in force those above mentioned have been
concluded between the plenipotentiaries of the two Governments on
August 6th, 1827, and will be forthwith laid before the Senate for the
exercise of their constitutional authority concerning them.

In the execution of the treaties of peace of November, 1782 and
September, 1783, between the United States and Great Britain, and which
terminated the war of our independence, a line of boundary was drawn as
the demarcation of territory between the two countries, extending over
nearly 20 degrees of latitude, and ranging over seas, lakes, and
mountains, then very imperfectly explored and scarcely opened to the
geographical knowledge of the age. In the progress of discovery and
settlement by both parties since that time several questions of
boundary between their respective territories have arisen, which have
been found of exceedingly difficult adjustment.

At the close of the last war with Great Britain four of these questions
pressed themselves upon the consideration of the negotiators of the
treaty of Ghent, but without the means of concluding a definitive
arrangement concerning them. They were referred to three separate
commissions consisting, of two commissioners, one appointed by each
party, to examine and decide upon their respective claims. In the event
of a disagreement between the commissioners, one appointed by each
party, to examine and decide upon their respective claims. In the event
of a disagreement between the commissioners it was provided that they
should make reports to their several Governments, and that the reports
should finally be referred to the decision of a sovereign the common
friend of both.

Of these commissions two have already terminated their sessions and
investigations, one by entire and the other by partial agreement. The
commissioners of the 5th article of the treaty of Ghent have finally
disagreed, and made their conflicting reports to their own Governments.
But from these reports a great difficulty has occurred in making up a
question to be decided by the arbitrator. This purpose has, however,
been effected by a 4th convention, concluded at London by the
plenipotentiaries of the two Governments on September 29th, 1827. It
will be submitted, together with the others, to the consideration of
the Senate.

While these questions have been pending incidents have occurred of
conflicting pretensions and of dangerous character upon the territory
itself in dispute between the two nations. By a common understanding
between the Governments it was agreed that no exercise of exclusive
jurisdiction by either party while the negotiation was pending should
change the state of the question of right to be definitively settled.
Such collision has, never the less, recently taken place by occurrences
the precise character of which has not yet been ascertained. A
communication from the governor of the State of Maine, with
accompanying documents, and a correspondence between the Secretary of
State and the minister of Great Britain on this subject are now
communicated. Measures have been taken to ascertain the state of the
facts more correctly by the employment of a special agent to visit the
spot where the alleged outrages have occurred, the result of those
inquiries, when received, will be transmitted to Congress.

While so many of the subjects of high interest to the friendly
relations between the two countries have been so far adjusted, it is a
matter of regret that their views respecting the commercial intercourse
between the United States and the British colonial possessions have not
equally approximated to a friendly agreement.

At the commencement of the last session of Congress they were informed
of the sudden and unexpected exclusion by the British Government of
access in vessels of the United States to all their colonial ports
except those immediately bordering upon our own territories. In the
amicable discussions which have succeeded the adoption of this measure
which, as it affected harshly the interests of the United States,
became subject of expostulation on our part, the principles upon which
its justification has been placed have been of a diversified character.
It has been at once ascribed to a mere recurrence to the old, long
established principle of colonial monopoly and at the same time to a
feeling of resentment because the offers of an act of Parliament
opening the colonial ports upon certain conditions had not been grasped
at with sufficient eagerness by an instantaneous conformity to them.

At a subsequent period it has been intimated that the new exclusion was
in resentment because a prior act of Parliament, of 1822, opening
certain colonial ports, under heavy and burdensome restrictions, to
vessels of the United States, had not been reciprocated by an admission
of British vessels from the colonies, and their cargoes, without any
restriction or discrimination what ever. But be the motive for the
interdiction what it may, the British Government have manifested no
disposition, either by negotiation or by corresponding legislative
enactments, to recede from it, and we have been given distinctly to
understand that neither of the bills which were under the consideration
of Congress at their last session would have been deemed sufficient in
their concessions to have been rewarded by any relaxation from the
British interdict. It is one of the inconveniences inseparably
connected with the attempt to adjust by reciprocal legislation
interests of this nature that neither party can know what would be
satisfactory to the other, and that after enacting a statute for the
avowed and sincere purpose of conciliation it will generally be found
utterly inadequate to the expectation of the other party, and will
terminate in mutual disappointment.

The session of Congress having terminated without any act upon the
subject, a proclamation was issued on March 17, 1827, conformably to
the provisions of the 6th section of the act of March 3rd, 1823
declaring the fact that the trade and intercourse authorized by the
British act of Parliament of June 24th, 1822, between the United States
and the British enumerated colonial ports had been by the subsequent
acts of Parliament of July 5th, 1825, and the order of council of July
27th, 1826 prohibited. The effect of this proclamation, by the terms of
the act under which it was issued, has been that each and every
provision of the act concerning navigation of April 18th, 1818, and of
the act supplementary thereto of May 15th, 1820, revived and is in full

Such, then is the present condition of the trade that, useful as it is
to both parties it can, with a single momentary exception, be carried
on directly by the vessels of neither. That exception itself is found
in a proclamation of the governor of the island of St. Christopher and
of the Virgin Islands, inviting for three months from August 28th, 1827
the importation of the articles of the produce of the United States
which constitute their export portion of this trade in the vessels of
all nations.

That period having already expired, the state of mutual interdiction
has again taken place. The British Government have not only declined
negotiation upon this subject, but by the principle they have assumed
with reference to it have precluded even the means of negotiation. It
becomes not the self respect of the United States either to solicit
gratuitous favors or to accept as the grant of a favor that for which
an ample equivalent is exacted. It remains to be determined by the
respective Governments whether the trade shall be opened by acts of
reciprocal legislation. It is, in the mean time, satisfactory to know
that apart from the inconvenience resulting from a disturbance of the
usual channels of trade no loss has been sustained by the commerce, the
navigation, or the revenue of the United States, and none of magnitude
is to be apprehended from this existing state of mutual interdict.

With the other maritime and commercial nations of Europe our
intercourse continues with little variation. Since the cessation by the
convention of June 24th, 1822, of all discriminating duties upon the
vessels of the United States and of France in either country our trade
with that nation has increased and is increasing. A disposition on the
part of France has been manifested to renew that negotiation, and in
acceding to the proposal we have expressed the wish that it might be
extended to other subjects upon which a good understanding between the
parties would be beneficial to the interests of both.

The origin of the political relations between the United States and
France is coeval with the first years of our independence. The memory
of it is interwoven with that of our arduous struggle for national
existence. Weakened as it has occasionally been since that time, it can
by us never be forgotten, and we should hail with exultation the moment
which should indicate a recollection equally friendly in spirit on the
part of France.

A fresh effort has recently been made by the minister of the United
States residing at Paris to obtain a consideration of the just claims
of citizens of the United States to the reparation of wrongs long since
committed, many of them frankly acknowledged and all of them entitled
upon every principle of justice to a candid examination. The proposal
last made to the French Government has been to refer the subject which
has formed an obstacle to this consideration to the determination of a
sovereign the common friend of both. To this offer no definitive answer
has yet been received, but the gallant and honorable spirit which has
at all times been the pride and glory of France will not ultimately
permit the demands of innocent sufferers to be extinguished in the mere
consciousness of the power to reject them.

A new treaty of amity, navigation, and commerce has been concluded with
the Kingdom of Sweden, which will be submitted to the Senate for their
advice with regard to its ratification. At a more recent date a
minister plenipotentiary from the Hanseatic Republics of Hamburg,
Lubeck, and Bremen has been received, charged with a special mission
for the negotiation of a treaty of amity and commerce between that
ancient and renowned league and the United States. This negotiation has
accordingly been commenced, and is now in progress, the result of which
will, if successful, be also submitted to the Senate for their

Since the accession of the Emperor Nicholas to the imperial throne of
all the Russias the friendly dispositions toward the United States so
constantly manifested by his predecessor have continued unabated, and
have been recently testified by the appointment of a minister
plenipotentiary to reside at this place. From the interest taken by
this Sovereign in behalf of the suffering Greeks and from the spirit
with which others of the great European powers are cooperating with him
the friends of freedom and of humanity may indulge the hope that they
will obtain relief from that most unequal of conflicts which they have
so long and so gallantly sustained; that they will enjoy the blessing
of self government, which by their sufferings in the cause of liberty
they have richly earned, and that their independence will be secured by
those liberal institutions of which their country furnished the
earliest examples in the history of man-kind, and which have
consecrated to immortal remembrance the very soil for which they are
now again profusely pouring forth their blood. The sympathies which the
people and Government of the United States have so warmly indulged with
their cause have been acknowledged by their Government in a letter of
thanks, which I have received from their illustrious President, a
translation of which is now communicated to Congress, the
representatives of that nation to whom this tribute of gratitude was
intended to be paid, and to whom it was justly due.

In the American hemisphere the cause of freedom and independence has
continued to prevail, and if signalized by none of those splendid
triumphs which had crowned with glory some of the preceding years it
has only been from the banishment of all external force against which
the struggle had been maintained. The shout of victory has been
superseded by the expulsion of the enemy over whom it could have been

Our friendly wishes and cordial good will, which have constantly
followed the southern nations of America in all the vicissitudes of
their war of independence, are succeeded by a solicitude equally ardent
and cordial that by the wisdom and purity of their institutions they
may secure to themselves the choicest blessings of social order and the
best rewards of virtuous liberty. Disclaiming alike all right and all
intention of interfering in those concerns which it is the prerogative
of their independence to regulate as to them shall seem fit, we hail
with joy every indication of their prosperity, of their harmony, of
their persevering and inflexible homage to those principles of freedom
and of equal rights which are alone suited to the genius and temper of
the American nations.

It has been, therefore, with some concern that we have observed
indications of intestine divisions in some of the Republics of the
south, and appearances of less union with one another than we believe
to be the interest of all. Among the results of this state of things
has been that the treaties concluded at Panama do not appear to have
been ratified by the contracting parties, and that the meeting of the
congress at Tacubaya has been indefinitely postponed. In accepting the
invitations to be represented at this congress, while a manifestation
was intended on the part of the United States of the most friendly
disposition toward the southern Republics by whom it had been proposed,
it was hoped that it would furnish an opportunity for bringing all the
nations of this hemisphere to the common acknowledgment and adoption of
the principles in the regulation of their internal relations which
would have secured a lasting peace and harmony between them and have
promoted the cause of mutual benevolence throughout the globe. But as
obstacles appear to have arisen to the reassembling of the congress,
one of the two ministers commissioned on the part of the United States
has returned to the bosom of his country, while the minister charged
with the ordinary mission to Mexico remains authorized to attend the
conferences of the congress when ever they may be resumed.

A hope was for a short time entertained that a treaty of peace actually
signed between the Government of Buenos Ayres and of Brazil would
supersede all further occasion for those collisions between belligerent
pretensions and neutral rights which are so commonly the result of
maritime war, and which have unfortunately disturbed the harmony of the
relations between the United States and the Brazilian Governments. At
their last session Congress were informed that some of the naval
officers of that Empire had advanced and practiced upon principles in
relation to blockades and to neutral navigation which we could not
sanction, and which our commanders found it necessary to resist. It
appears that they have not been sustained by the Government of Brazil
itself. Some of the vessels captured under the assumed authority of
these erroneous principles have been restored, and we trust that our
just expectations will be realized that adequate indemnity will be made
to all the citizens of the United States who have suffered by the
unwarranted captures which the Brazilian tribunals themselves have
pronounced unlawful.

In the diplomatic discussions at Rio de Janeiro of these wrongs
sustained by citizens of the United States and of others which seemed
as if emanating immediately from that Government itself the charge
d'affaires of the United States, under an impression that his
representations in behalf of the rights and interests of his country-
men were totally disregarded and useless, deemed it his duty, without
waiting for instructions, to terminate his official functions, to
demand his pass-ports, and return to the United States. This movement,
dictated by an honest zeal for the honor and interests of his country--
motives which operated exclusively on the mind of the officer who
resorted to it--has not been disapproved by me.

The Brazilian Government, however, complained of it as a measure for
which no adequate intentional cause had been given by them, and upon an
explicit assurance through their charge d'affaires residing here that a
successor to the late representative of the United States near that
Government, the appointment of whom they desired, should be received
and treated with the respect due to his character, and that indemnity
should be promptly made for all injuries inflicted on citizens of the
United States or their property contrary to the laws of nations, a
temporary commission as charge d'affaires to that country has been
issued, which it is hopes will entirely restore the ordinary diplomatic
intercourse between the two Governments and the friendly relations
between their respective nations.

Turning from the momentous concerns of our Union in its intercourse
with foreign nations to those of the deepest interest in the
administration of our internal affairs, we find the revenues of the
present year corresponding as nearly as might be expected with the
anticipations of the last, and presenting an aspect still more
favorable in the promise of the next.

The balance in the Treasury on January 1st, 1827 was $6,358,686.18. The
receipts from that day to September 30th, 1827, as near as the returns
of them yet received can show, amount to $16,886,581.32. The receipts
of the present quarter, estimated at $4,515,000, added to the above
form an aggregate of $21,400,000 of receipts.

The expenditures of the year may perhaps amount to $22,300,000
presenting a small excess over the receipts. But of these $22,000,000,
upward of $6,000,000 have been applied to the discharge of the
principal of the public debt, the whole amount of which, approaching
$74,000,000 on January 1st, 1827, will on January 1st, 1828 fall short
of $67,500,000. The balance in the Treasury on January 1st, 1828 it is
expected will exceed $5,450,000, a sum exceeding that of January 1st,
1825, though falling short of that exhibited on January 1st, 1827.

It was foreseen that the revenue of the present year 1827 would not
equal that of the last, which had itself been less than that of the
next preceding year. But the hope has been realized which was
entertained, that these deficiencies would in no wise interrupt the
steady operation of the discharge of the public debt by the annual
$10,000,000 devoted to that object by the act of March 3d, 1817.

The amount of duties secured on merchandise imported from the
commencement of the year until September 30th, 1827 is $21,226,000, and
the probably amount of that which will be secured during the remainder
of the year is $5,774,000, forming a sum total of $27,000,000. With the
allowances for draw-backs and contingent deficiencies which may occur,
though not specifically foreseen, we may safely estimate the receipts
of the ensuing year at $22,300,000--a revenue for the next equal to the
expenditure of the present year.

The deep solicitude felt by our citizens of all classes throughout the
Union for the total discharge of the public debt will apologize for the
earnestness with which I deem it my duty to urge this topic upon the
consideration of Congress--of recommending to them again the observance
of the strictest economy in the application of the public funds. The
depression upon the receipts of the revenue which had commenced with
the year 1826 continued with increased severity during the two first
quarters of the present year.

The returning tide began to flow with the third quarter, and, so far as
we can judge from experience, may be expected to continue through the
course of the ensuing year. In the mean time an alleviation from the
burden of the public debt will in the three years have been effected to
the amount of nearly $16,000,000, and the charge of annual interest
will have been reduced upward of $1,000,000. But among the maxims of
political economy which the stewards of the public moneys should never
suffer without urgent necessity to be transcended is that of keeping
the expenditures of the year within the limits of its receipts.

The appropriations of the two last years, including the yearly
$10,000,000 of the sinking fund, have each equaled the promised revenue
of the ensuing year. While we foresee with confidence that the public
coffers will be replenished from the receipts as fast as they will be
drained by the expenditures, equal in amount to those of the current
year, it should not be forgotten that they could ill suffer the
exhaustion of larger disbursements.

The condition of the Army and of all the branches of the public service
under the superintendence of the Secretary of War will be seen by the
report from that officer and the documents with which it is

During the last summer a detachment of the Army has been usefully and
successfully called to perform their appropriate duties. At the moment
when the commissioners appointed for carrying into execution certain
provisions of the treaty of August 19th, 1825, with various tribes of
the North Western Indians were about to arrive at the appointed place
of meeting the unprovoked murder of several citizens and other acts of
unequivocal hostility committed by a party of the Winnebago tribe, one
of those associated in the treaty, followed by indications of a
menacing character among other tribes of the same region, rendered
necessary an immediate display of the defensive and protective force of
the Union in that quarter.

It was accordingly exhibited by the immediate and concerted movements
of the governors of the State of Illinois and of the Territory of
Michigan, and competent levies of militia, under their authority, with
a corps of 700 men of United States troops, under the command of
General Atkinson, who, at the call of Governor Cass, immediately
repaired to the scene of danger from their station at St. Louis. Their
presence dispelled the alarms of our fellow citizens on those
disorders, and overawed the hostile purposes of the Indians. The
perpetrators of the murders were surrendered to the authority and
operation of our laws, and every appearance of purposed hostility from
those Indian tribes has subsided.

Although the present organization of the Army and the administration of
its various branches of service are, upon the whole, satisfactory, they
are yet susceptible of much improvement in particulars, some of which
have been heretofore submitted to the consideration of Congress, and
others are now first presented in the report of the Secretary of War.

The expediency of providing for additional numbers of officers in the
two corps of engineers will in some degree depend upon the number and
extent of the objects of national importance upon which Congress may
think it proper that surveys should be made conformably to the act of
April 30th, 1824. Of the surveys which before the last session of
Congress had been made under the authority of that act, reports were
made--Of the Board of Internal Improvement, on the Chesapeake and Ohio
Canal. On the continuation of the national road from Cumberland to the
tide waters within the District of Columbia. On the continuation of the
national road from Canton to Zanesville. On the location of the
national road from Zanesville to Columbus. On the continuation of the
same to the seat of government in Missouri. On a post road from
Baltimore to Philadelphia. Of a survey of Kennebec River (in part). On
a national road from Washington to Buffalo. On the survey of Saugatuck
Harbor and River. On a canal from Lake Pont Chartrain to the
Mississippi River. On surveys at Edgartown, Newburyport, and Hyannis
Harbor. On survey of La Plaisance Bay, in the Territory of Michigan.
And reports are now prepared and will be submitted to Congress--On
surveys of the peninsula of Florida, to ascertain the practicability of
a canal to connect the waters of the Atlantic with the Gulf of Mexico
across that peninsula; and also of the country between the bays of
Mobile and of Pensacola, with the view of connecting them together by a
canal. On surveys of a route for a canal to connect the waters of James
and Great Kenhawa rivers. On the survey of the Swash, in Pamlico Sound,
and that of Cape Fear, below the town of Wilmington, in North Carolina.
On the survey of the Muscle Shoals, in the Tennessee River, and for a
route for a contemplated communication between the Hiwassee and Coosa
rivers, in the State of Alabama. Other reports of surveys upon objects
pointed out by the several acts of Congress of the last and preceding
sessions are in the progress of preparation, and most of them may be
completed before the close of this session. All the officers of both
corps of engineers, with several other persons duly qualified, have
been constantly employed upon these services from the passage of the
act of April 30th, 1824, to this time.

Were no other advantage to accrue to the country from their labors than
the fund of topographical knowledge which they have collected and
communicated, that alone would have been a profit to the Union more
than adequate to all the expenditures which have been devoted to the
object; but the appropriations for the repair and continuation of the
Cumberland road, for the construction of various other roads, for the
removal of obstructions from the rivers and harbors, for the erection
of light houses, beacons, piers, and buoys, and for the completion of
canals undertaken by individual associations, but needing the
assistance of means and resources more comprehensive than individual
enterprise can command, may be considered rather as treasures laid up
from the contributions of the present age for the benefit of posterity
than as unrequited applications of the accruing revenues of the nation.

To such objects of permanent improvement to the condition of the
country, of real addition to the wealth as well as to the comfort of
the people by whose authority and resources they have been effected,
from $3,000,000 to $4,000,000 of the annual income of the nation have,
by laws enacted at the three most recent sessions of Congress, been
applied, without intrenching upon the necessities of the Treasury,
without adding a dollar to the taxes or debts of the community, without
suspending even the steady and regular discharge of the debts
contracted in former days, which within the same three years have been
diminished by the amount of nearly $16,000,000.

The same observations are in a great degree applicable to the
appropriations made for fortifications upon the coasts and harbors of
the United States, for the maintenance of the Military Academy at West
Point, and for the various objects under the superintendence of the
Department of the Navy. The report from the Secretary of the Navy and
those from the subordinate branches of both the military departments
exhibit to Congress in minute detail the present condition of the
public establishments dependent upon them, the execution of the acts of
Congress relating to them, and the views of the officers engaged in the
several branches of the service concerning the improvements which may
tend to their perfection.

The fortification of the coasts and the gradual increase and
improvement of the Navy are parts of a great system of national defense
which has been upward of ten years in progress, and which for a series
of years to come will continue to claim the constant and persevering
protection and superintendence of the legislative authority. Among the
measures which have emanated from these principles the act of the last
session of Congress for the gradual improvement of the Navy holds a
conspicuous place. The collection of timber for the future construction
of vessels of war, the preservation and reproduction of the species of
timber peculiarly adapted to that purpose, the construction of dry
docks for the use of the Navy, the erection of a marine railway for the
repair of the public ships, and the improvement of the navy yards for
the preservation of the public property deposited in them have all
received from the Executive the attention required by that act, and
will continue to receive it, steadily proceeding toward the execution
of all its purposes.

The establishment of a naval academy, furnishing the means of theoretic
instruction to the youths who devote their lives to the service of
their country upon the ocean, still solicits the sanction of the
Legislature. Practical seamanship and the art of navigation may be
acquired on the cruises of the squadrons which from time to time are
dispatched to distant seas, but a competent knowledge even of the art
of ship building, the higher mathematics, and astronomy; the literature
which can place our officers on a level of polished education with the
officers of other maritime nations; the knowledge of the laws,
municipal and national, which in their intercourse with foreign states
and their governments are continually called into operation, and, above
all, that acquaintance with the principles of honor and justice, with
the higher obligations of morals and of general laws, human and divine,
which constitutes the great distinction between the warrior-patriot and
the licensed robber and pirate--these can be systematically taught and
eminently acquired only in a permanent school, stationed upon the shore
and provided with the teachers, the instruments, and the books
conversant with and adapted to the communication of the principles of
these respective sciences to the youthful and inquiring mind.

The report from the Post Master General exhibits the condition of that
Department as highly satisfactory for the present and still more
promising for the future. Its receipts for the year ending July 1st,
1827 amounted to $1,473,551, and exceeded its expenditures by upward of
$100,000. It can not be an over sanguine estimate to predict that in
less than ten years, of which half have elapsed, the receipts will have
been more than doubled.

In the mean time a reduced expenditure upon established routes has kept
pace with increased facilities of public accommodation and additional
services have been obtained at reduced rates of compensation. Within
the last year the transportation of the mail in stages has been greatly
augmented. The number of post offices has been increased to 7,000, and
it may be anticipated that while the facilities of intercourse between
fellow citizens in person or by correspondence will soon be carried to
the door of every villager in the Union, a yearly surplus of revenue
will accrue which may be applied as the wisdom of Congress under the
exercise of their constitutional powers may devise for the further
establishment and improvement of the public roads, or by adding still
further to the facilities in the transportation of the mails. Of the
indications of the prosperous condition of our country, none can be
more pleasing than those presented by the multiplying relations of
personal and intimate intercourse between the citizens of the Union
dwelling at the remotest distances from each other.

Among the subjects which have heretofore occupied the earnest
solicitude and attention of Congress is the management and disposal of
that portion of the property of the nation which consists of the public
lands. The acquisition of them, made at the expense of the whole Union,
not only in treasury but in blood, marks a right of property in them
equally extensive. By the report and statements from the General Land
Office now communicated it appears that under the present Government of
the United States a sum little short of $33,000,000 has been paid from
the common Treasury for that portion of this property which has been
purchased from France and Spain, and for the extinction of the
aboriginal titles. The amount of lands acquired is near 260,000,000
acres, of which on January 1st, 1826, about 139,000,000 acres had been
surveyed, and little more than 19,000,000 acres had been sold. The
amount paid into the Treasury by the purchasers of the public lands
sold is not yet equal to the sums paid for the whole, but leaves a
small balance to be refunded. The proceeds of the sales of the lands
have long been pledged to the creditors of the nation, a pledge from
which we have reason to hope that they will in a very few years be

The system upon which this great national interest has been managed was
the result of long, anxious, and persevering deliberation. Matured and
modified by the progress of our population and the lessons of
experience, it has been hitherto eminently successful. More than nine
tenths of the lands still remain the common property of the Union, the
appropriation and disposal of which are sacred trusts in the hands of

Of the lands sold, a considerable part were conveyed under extended
credits, which in the vicissitudes and fluctuations in the value of
lands and of their produce became oppressively burdensome to the
purchasers. It can never be the interest or the policy of the nation to
wring from its own citizens the reasonable profits of their industry
and enterprise by holding them to the rigorous import of disastrous
engagements. In March, 1821, a debt of $22,000,000, due by purchasers
of the public lands, had accumulated, which they were unable to pay. An
act of Congress of March 2nd, 1821, came to their relief, and has been
succeeded by others, the latest being the act of May 4th, 1826, the
indulgent provisions of which expired on July 4th, 1827. The effect of
these laws has been to reduce the debt from the purchasers to a
remaining balance of about $4,300,000 due, more than three fifths of
which are for lands within the State of Alabama. I recommend to
Congress the revival and continuance for a further term of the
beneficent accommodations to the public debtors of that statute, and
submit to their consideration, in the same spirit of equity, the
remission, under proper discriminations, of the forfeitures of partial
payments on account of purchases of the public lands, so far as to
allow of their application to other payments.

There are various other subjects of deep interest to the whole Union
which have heretofore been recommended to the consideration of
Congress, as well by my predecessors as, under the impression of the
duties devolving upon me, by myself. Among these are the debt, rather
of justice than gratitude, to the surviving warriors of the
Revolutionary war; the extension of the judicial administration of the
Federal Government to those extensive since the organization of the
present judiciary establishment, now constitute at least one third of
its territory, power, and population; the formation of a more effective
and uniform system for the government of the militia, and the
amelioration in some form or modification of the diversified and often
oppressive codes relating to insolvency. Amidst the multiplicity of
topics of great national concernment which may recommend themselves to
the calm and patriotic deliberations of the Legislature, it may suffice
to say that on these and all other measures which may receive their
sanction my hearty cooperation will be given, conformably to the duties
enjoined upon me and under the sense of all the obligations prescribed
by the Constitution.



State of the Union Address
John Quincy Adams
December 2, 1828

Fellow Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

If the enjoyment in profusion of the bounties of Providence forms a
suitable subject of mutual gratulation and grateful acknowledgment, we
are admonished at this return of the season when the representatives of
the nation are assembled to deliberate upon their concerns to offer up
the tribute of fervent and grateful hearts for the never failing
mercies of Him who ruleth over all. He has again favored us with
healthful seasons and abundant harvests; He has sustained us in peace
with foreign countries and in tranquillity within our borders; He has
preserved us in the quiet and undisturbed possession of civil and
religious liberty; He has crowned the year with His goodness, imposing
on us no other condition than of improving for our own happiness the
blessings bestowed by His hands, and, in the fruition of all His
favors, of devoting his faculties with which we have been endowed by
Him to His glory and to our own temporal and eternal welfare.

In the relations of our Federal Union with our brethren of the human
race the changes which have occurred since the close of your last
session have generally tended to the preservation of peace and to the
cultivation of harmony. Before your last separation a war had unhappily
been kindled between the Empire of Russia, one of those with which our
intercourse has been no other than a constant exchange of good offices,
and that of the Ottoman Porte, a nation from which geographical
distance, religious opinions and maxims of government on their part
little suited to the formation of those bonds of mutual benevolence
which result from the benefits of commerce had department us in a
state, perhaps too much prolonged, of coldness and alienation.

The extensive, fertile, and populous dominions of the Sultan belong
rather to the Asiatic than the European division of the human family.
They enter but partially into the system of Europe, nor have their wars
with Russia and Austria, the European States upon which they border,
for more than a century past disturbed the pacific relations of those
States with the other great powers of Europe. Neither France nor
Prussia nor Great Britain has ever taken part in them, nor is it to be
expected that they will at this time. The declaration of war by Russia
has received the approbation or acquiescence of her allies, and we may
indulge the hope that its progress and termination will be signalized
by the moderation and forbearance no less than by the energy of the
Emperor Nicholas, and that it will afford the opportunity for such
collateral agency in behalf of the suffering Greeks as will secure to
them ultimately the triumph of humanity and of freedom.

The state of our particular relations with France has scarcely varied
in the course of the present year. The commercial intercourse between
the two countries has continued to increase for the mutual benefit of
both. The claims of indemnity to numbers of our fellow citizens for
depredations upon their property, heretofore committed during the
revolutionary governments, remain unadjusted, and still form the
subject of earnest representation and remonstrance. Recent advices from
the minister of the United States at Paris encourage the expectation
that the appeal to the justice of the French Government will ere long
receive a favorable consideration.

The last friendly expedient has been resorted to for the decision of
the controversy with Great Britain relating to the north-eastern
boundary of the United States. By an agreement with the British
Government, carrying into effect the provisions of the 5th article of
the treaty of Ghent, and the convention of September 29th, 1827, His
Majesty the King of the Netherlands has by common consent been selected
as the umpire between the parties. The proposal to him to accept the
designation for the performance of this friendly office will be made at
an early day, and the United States, relying upon the justice of their
cause, will cheerfully commit the arbitrament of it to a prince equally
distinguished for the independence of his spirit, his indefatigable
assiduity to the duties of his station, and his inflexible personal

Our commercial relations with Great Britain will deserve the serious
consideration of Congress and the exercise of a conciliatory and
forbearing spirit in the policy of both Governments. The state of them
has been materially changed by the act of Congress, passed at their
last session, in alteration of several acts imposing duties on imports,
and by acts of more recent date of the British Parliament. The effect
of the interdiction of direct trade, commenced by Great Britain and
reciprocated by the United States, has been, as was to be foreseen,
only to substitute different channels for an exchange of commodities
indispensable to the colonies and profitable to a numerous class of our
fellow citizens. The exports, the revenue, the navigation of the United
States have suffered no diminution by our exclusion from direct access
to the British colonies. The colonies pay more dearly for the
necessaries of life which their Government burdens with the charges of
double voyages, freight, insurance, and commission, and the profits of
our exports are somewhat impaired and more injuriously transferred from
one portion of our citizens to another.

The resumption of this old and otherwise exploded system of colonial
exclusion has not secured to the shipping interest of Great Britain the
relief which, at the expense of the distant colonies and of the United
States, it was expected to afford. Other measures have been resorted to
more pointedly bearing upon the navigation of the United States, and
more pointedly bearing upon the navigation of the United States, and
which, unless modified by the construction given to the recent acts of
Parliament, will be manifestly incompatible with the positive
stipulations of the commercial convention existing between the two
countries. That convention, however, may be terminated with 12 months'
notice, at the option of either party.

A treaty of amity, navigation, and commerce between the United States
and His Majesty the Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary and Bohemia,
has been prepared for signature by the Secretary of State and by the
Baron de Lederer, intrusted with full powers of the Austrian
Government. Independently of the new and friendly relations which may
be thus commenced with one of the most eminent and powerful nations of
the earth, the occasion has been taken in it, as in other recent
treaties concluded by the United States, to extend those principles of
liberal intercourse and of fair reciprocity which intertwine with the
exchanges of commerce the principles of justice and the feelings of
mutual benevolence.

This system, first proclaimed to the world in the first commercial
treaty ever concluded by the United States--that of February 6th, 1778,
with France--has been invariably the cherished policy of our Union. It
is by treaties of commerce alone that it can be made ultimately to
prevail as the established system of all civilized nations. With this
principle our fathers extended the hand of friendship to every nation
of the globe, and to this policy our country has ever since adhered.
What ever of regulation in our laws has ever been adopted unfavorable
to the interest of any foreign nation has been essentially defensive
and counteracting to similar regulations of theirs operating against

Immediately after the close of the War of Independence commissioners
were appointed by the Congress of the Confederation authorized to
conclude treaties with every nation of Europe disposed to adopt them.
Before the wars of the French Revolution such treaties had been
consummated with the United Netherlands, Sweden, and Prussia. During
those wars treaties with Great Britain and Spain had been effected, and
those with Prussia and France renewed. In all these some concessions to
the liberal principles of intercourse proposed by the United States had
been obtained; but as in all the negotiations they came occasionally in
collision with previous internal regulations or exclusive and excluding
compacts of monopoly with which the other parties had been trammeled,
the advances made in them toward the freedom of trade were partial and
imperfect. Colonial establishments, chartered companies, and ship
building influence pervaded and encumbered the legislation of all the
great commercial states; and the United States, in offering free trade
and equal privilege to all, were compelled to acquiesce in many
exceptions with each of the parties to their treaties, accommodated to
their existing laws and anterior agreements.

The colonial system by which this whole hemisphere was bound has fallen
into ruins, totally abolished by revolutions converting colonies into
independent nations throughout the two American continents, excepting a
portion of territory chiefly at the northern extremity of our own, and
confined to the remnants of dominion retained by Great Britain over the
insular archipelago, geographically the appendages of our part of the
globe. With all the rest we have free trade, even with the insular
colonies of all the European nations, except Great Britain. Her
Government also had manifested approaches to the adoption of a free and
liberal intercourse between her colonies and other nations, though by a
sudden and scarcely explained revulsion the spirit of exclusion has
been revived for operation upon the United States alone.

The conclusion of our last treaty of peace with Great Britain was
shortly afterwards followed by a commercial convention, placing the
direct intercourse between the two countries upon a footing of more
equal reciprocity than had ever before been admitted. The same
principle has since been much further extended by treaties with France,
Sweden, Denmark, the Hanseatic cities, Prussia, in Europe, and with the
Republics of Colombia and of Central America, in this hemisphere. The
mutual abolition of discriminating duties and charges upon the
navigation and commercial intercourse between the parties is the
general maxim which characterizes them all. There is reason to expect
that it will at no distant period be adopted by other nations, both of
Europe and America, and to hope that by its universal prevalence one of
the fruitful sources of wars of commercial competition will be

Among the nations upon whose Governments many of our fellow citizens
have had long-pending claims of indemnity for depredations upon their
property during a period when the rights of neutral commerce were
disregarded was that of Denmark. They were soon after the events
occurred the subject of a special mission from the United States, at
the close of which the assurance was given by His Danish Majesty that
at a period of more tranquillity and of less distress they would be
considered, examined, and decided upon in a spirit of determined
purpose for the dispensation of justice. I have much pleasure in
informing Congress that the fulfillment of this honorable promise is
now in progress; that a small portion of the claims has already been
settled to the satisfaction of the claimants, and that we have reason
to hope that the remainder will shortly be placed in a train of
equitable adjustment. This result has always been confidently expected,
from the character of personal integrity and of benevolence which the
Sovereign of the Danish dominions has through every vicissitude of
fortune maintained.

The general aspect of the affairs of our neighboring American nations
of the south has been rather of approaching than of settled
tranquillity. Internal disturbances have been more frequent among them
than their common friends would have desired. Our intercourse with all
has continued to be that of friendship and of mutual good will.
Treaties of commerce and of boundaries with the United Mexican States
have been negotiated, but, from various successive obstacles, not yet
brought to a final conclusion.

The civil war which unfortunately still prevails in the Republics of
Central America has been unpropitious to the cultivation of our
commercial relations with them; and the dissensions and revolutionary
changes in the Republics of Colombia and of Peru have been seen with
cordial regret by us, who would gladly contribute to the happiness of
both. It is with great satisfaction, however, that we have witnessed
the recent conclusion of a peace between the Governments of Buenos
Ayres and of Brazil, and it is equally gratifying to observe that
indemnity has been obtained for some of the injuries which our fellow
citizens had sustained in the latter of those countries. The rest are
in a train of negotiation, which we hope may terminate to mutual
satisfaction, and that it may be succeeded by a treaty of commerce and
navigation, upon liberal principles, propitious to a great and growing
commerce, already important to the interests of our country.

The condition and prospects of the revenue are more favorable than our
most sanguine expectations had anticipated. The balance in the Treasury
on January 1st, 1828, exclusive of the moneys received under the
convention of November 13th, 1826, with Great Britain, was
$5,861,972.83. The receipts into the Treasury from January 1st, 1828 to
September 30th, 1828, so far as they have been ascertained to form the
basis of an estimate, amount to $18,633,580.27, which, with the
receipts of the present quarter, estimated at $5,461,283.40, form an
aggregate of receipts during the year of $24,094,863.67. The
expenditures of the year may probably amount to $25,637,111.63, and
leave in the Treasury on January 1st, 1829 the sum of $5,125,638.14.

The receipts of the present year have amounted to near $2,000,000 more
than was anticipated at the commencement of the last session of

The amount of duties secured on importations from the first of January
to the 30th of September was about $22,997,000, and that of the
estimated accruing revenue is $5,000,000, forming an aggregate for the
year of near $28,000,000. This is $1,000,000 more than the estimate
last December for the accruing revenue of the present year, which, with
allowances for draw-backs and contingent deficiencies, was expected to
produce an actual revenue of $22,300,000. Had these only been realized
the expenditures of the year would have been also proportionally
reduced, for of these $24,000,000 received upward of $9,000,000 have
been applied to the extinction of public debt, bearing an interest of
6% a year, and of course reducing the burden of interest annually
payable in future by the amount of more than $500,000. The payments on
account of interest during the current year exceed $3,000,000,
presenting an aggregate of more than $12,000,000 applied during the
year to the discharge of the public debt, the whole of which remaining
due on January 1st, 1829 will amount only to $58,362,135.78.

That the revenue of the ensuing year will not fall short of that
received in the one now expiring there are indications which can
scarcely prove deceptive. In our country an uniform experience of 40
years has shown that what ever the tariff of duties upon articles
imported from abroad has been, the amount of importations has always
borne an average value nearly approaching to that of the exports,
though occasionally differing in the balance, some times being more and
some times less. It is, indeed, a general law of prosperous commerce
that the real value of exports should by a small, and only a small,
balance exceed that of imports, that balance being a permanent addition
to the wealth of the nation.

The extent of the prosperous commerce of the nation must be regulated
by the amount of its exports, and an important addition to the value of
these will draw after it a corresponding increase of importations. It
has happened in the vicissitudes of the seasons that the harvests of
all Europe have in the late summer and autumn fallen short of their
usual average. A relaxation of the interdict upon the importation of
grain and flour from abroad has ensued, a propitious market has been
opened to the granaries of our country, and a new prospect of reward
presented to the labors of the husband-man, which for several years has
been denied. This accession to the profits of agriculture in the middle
and western portions of our Union is accidental and temporary. It may
continue only for a single year. It may be, as has been often
experienced in the revolutions of time, but the first of several scanty
harvests in succession. We may consider it certain that for the
approaching year it has added an item of large amount to the value of
our exports and that it will produce a corresponding increase of
importations. It may therefore confidently be foreseen that the revenue
of 1829 will equal and probably exceed that of 1828, and will afford
the means of extinguishing $10,000,000 more of the principal of the
public debt.

This new element of prosperity to that part of our agricultural
industry which is occupied in producing the first article of human
subsistence is of the most cheering character to the feelings of
patriotism. Proceeding from a cause which humanity will view with
concern, the sufferings of scarcity in distant lands, it yields a
consolatory reflection that this scarcity is in no respect attributable
to us; that it comes from the dispensation of Him who ordains all in
wisdom and goodness, and who permits evil itself only as an instrument
of good; that, far from contributing to this scarcity, our agency will
be applied only to the alleviation of its severity, and that in pouring
forth from the abundance of our own garners the supplies which will
partially restore plenty to those who are in need we shall ourselves
reduce our stores and add to the price of our own bread, so as in some
degree to participate in the wants which it will be the good fortune of
our country to relieve.

The great interests of an agricultural, commercial, and manufacturing
nation are so linked in union together that no permanent cause of
prosperity to one of them can operate without extending its influence
to the others. All these interests are alike under the protecting power
of the legislative authority, and the duties of the representative
bodies are to conciliate them in harmony together.

So far as the object of taxation is to raise a revenue for discharging
the debts and defraying the expenses of the community, its operation
should be adapted as much as possible to suit the burden with equal
hand upon all in proportion with their ability of bearing it without
oppression. But the legislation of one nation is some times
intentionally made to bear heavily upon the interests of another. That
legislation, adapted, as it is meant to be, to the special interests of
its own people, will often press most unequally upon the several
component interests of its neighbors.

Thus the legislation of Great Britain, when, as has recently been
avowed, adapted to the depression of a rival nation, will naturally
abound with regulations to interdict upon the productions of the soil
or industry of the other which come in competition with its own, and
will present encouragement, perhaps even bounty, to the raw material of
the other State which it can not produce itself, and which is essential
for the use of its manufactures, competitors in the markets of the
world with those of its commercial rival.

Such is the state of commercial legislation of Great Britain as it
bears upon our interests. It excludes with interdicting duties all
importation (except in time of approaching famine) of the great staple
of production of our Middle and Western States; it proscribes with
equal rigor the bulkier lumber and live stock of the same portion and
also of the Northern and Eastern part of our Union. It refuses even the
rice of the South unless aggravated with a charge of duty upon the
Northern carrier who brings it to them. But the cotton, indispensable
for their looms, they will receive almost duty free to weave it into a
fabric for our own wear, to the destruction of our own manufactures,
which they are enabled thus to under-sell.

Is the self-protecting energy of this nation so helpless that there
exists in the political institutions of our country no power to
counter-act the bias of this foreign legislation; that the growers of
grain must submit to this exclusion from the foreign markets of their
produce; that the shippers must dismantle their ships, the trade of the
North stagnate at the wharves, and the manufacturers starve at their
looms, while the whole people shall pay tribute to foreign industry to
be clad in a foreign garb; that the Congress of the Union are impotent
to restore the balance in favor of native industry destroyed by the
statutes of another realm?

More just and generous sentiments will, I trust, prevail. If the tariff
adopted at the last session of Congress shall be found by experience to
bear oppressively upon the interests of any one section of the Union,
it ought to be, and I can not doubt will be, so modified as to
alleviate its burden. To the voice of just complaint from any portion
of their constituents the representatives of the States and of the
people will never turn away their ears.

But so long as the duty of the foreign shall operate only as a bounty
upon the domestic article; while the planter and the merchant and the
shepherd and the husbandman shall be found thriving in their
occupations under the duties imposed for the protection of domestic
manufactures, they will not repine at the prosperity shared with
themselves by their fellow citizens of other professions, nor denounce
as violations of the Constitution the deliberate acts of Congress to
shield from the wrongs of foreigns the native industry of the Union.

While the tariff of the last session of Congress was a subject of
legislative deliberation it was foretold by some of its opposers that
one of its necessary consequences would be to impair the revenue. It is
yet too soon to pronounce with confidence that this prediction was
erroneous. The obstruction of one avenue of trade not unfrequently
opens an issue to another. The consequence of the tariff will be to
increase the exportation and to diminish the importation of some
specific articles; but by the general law of trade the increase of
exportation of one article will be followed by an increased importation
of others, the duties upon which will supply the deficiencies which the
diminished importation would otherwise occasion. The effect of taxation
upon revenue can seldom be foreseen with certainty. It must abide the
test of experience.

As yet no symptoms of diminution are perceptible in the receipts of the
Treasury. As yet little addition of cost has even been experienced upon
the articles burdened with heavier duties by the last tariff. The
domestic manufacturer supplies the same or a kindred article at a
diminished price, and the consumer pays the same tribute to the labor
of his own country-man which he must otherwise have paid to foreign
industry and toil.

The tariff of the last session was in its details not acceptable to the
great interests of any portion of the Union, not even to the interest
which it was specially intended to subserve. Its object was to balance
the burdens upon native industry imposed by the operation of foreign
laws, but not to aggravate the burdens of one section of the Union by
the relief afforded to another. To the great principle sanctioned by
that act--one of those upon which the Constitution itself was formed--I
hope and trust the authorities of the Union will adhere. But if any of
the duties imposed by the act only relieve the manufacturer by
aggravating the burden of the planter, let a careful revisal of its
provisions, enlightened by the practical experience of its effects, be
directed to retain those which impart protection to native industry and
remove or supply the place of those which only alleviate one great
national interest by the depression of another.

The United States of America and the people of every State of which
they are composed are each of them sovereign powers. The legislative
authority of the whole is exercised by Congress under authority granted
them in the common Constitution. The legislative power of each State is
exercised by assemblies deriving their authority from the constitution
of the State. Each is sovereign within its own province. The
distribution of power between them presupposes that these authorities
will move in harmony with each other. The members of the State and
General Governments are all under oath to support both, and allegiance
is due to the one and to the other. The case of a conflict between
these two powers has not been supposed, nor has any provision been made
for it in our institutions; as a virtuous nation of ancient times
existed more than five centuries without a law for the punishment of

More than once, however, in the progress of our history have the people
and the legislatures of one or more States, in moments of excitement,
been instigated to this conflict; and the means of effecting this
impulse have been allegations that the acts of Congress to be resisted
were unconstitutional. The people of no one State have ever delegated
to their legislature the power of pronouncing an act of Congress
unconstitutional, but they have delegated to them powers by the
exercise of which the execution of the laws of Congress within the
State may be resisted. If we suppose the case of such conflicting
legislation sustained by the corresponding executive and judicial
authorities, patriotism and philanthropy turn their eyes from the
condition in which the parties would be placed, and from that of the
people of both, which must be its victims.

The reports from the Secretary of War and the various subordinate
offices of the resort of that Department present an exposition of the
public administration of affairs connected with them through the course
of the current year. The present state of the Army and the distribution
of the force of which it is composed will be seen from the report of
the Major General. Several alterations in the disposal of the troops
have been found expedient in the course of the year, and the discipline
of the Army, though not entirely free from exception, has been
generally good.

The attention of Congress is particularly invited to that part of the
report of the Secretary of War which concerns the existing system of
our relations with the Indian tribes. At the establishment of the
Federal Government under the present Constitution of the United States
the principle was adopted of considering them as foreign and
independent powers and also as proprietors of lands. They were,
moreover, considered as savages, whom it was our policy and our duty to
use our influence in converting to Christianity and in bringing within
the pale of civilization.

As independent powers, we negotiated with them by treaties; as
proprietors, we purchased of them all the lands which we could prevail
upon them to sell; as brethren of the human race, rude and ignorant, we
endeavored to bring them to the knowledge of religion and letters. The
ultimate design was to incorporate in our own institutions that portion
of them which could be converted to the state of civilization. In the
practice of European States, before our Revolution, they had been
considered as children to be governed; as tenants at discretion, to be
dispossessed as occasion might require; as hunters to be indemnified by
trifling concessions for removal from the grounds from which their game
was extirpated. In changing the system it would seem as if a full
contemplation of the consequences of the change had not been taken.

We have been far more successful in the acquisition of their lands than
in imparting to them the principles or inspiring them with the spirit
of civilization. But in appropriating to ourselves their hunting
grounds we have brought upon ourselves the obligation of providing them
with subsistence; and when we have had the rare good fortune of
teaching them the arts of civilization and the doctrines of
Christianity we have unexpectedly found them forming in the midst of
ourselves communities claiming to be independent of ours and rivals of
sovereignty within the territories of the members of our Union. This
state of things requires that a remedy should be provided--a remedy
which, while it shall do justice to those unfortunate children of
nature, may secure to the members of our confederation their rights of
sovereignty and of soil. As the outline of a project to that effect,
the views presented in the report of the Secretary of War are
recommended to the consideration of Congress.

The report from the Engineer Department presents a comprehensive view
of the progress which has been made in the great systems promotive of
the public interest, commenced and organized under authority of
Congress, and the effects of which have already contributed to the
security, as they will hereafter largely contribute to the honor and
dignity, of the nation.

The first of these great systems is that of fortifications, commenced
immediately after the close of our last war, under the salutary
experience which the events of that war had impressed upon our country-
men of its necessity. Introduced under the auspices of my immediate
predecessor, it has been continued with the persevering and liberal
encouragement of the Legislature, and, combined with corresponding
exertions for the gradual increase and improvement of the Navy,
prepares for our extensive country a condition of defense adapted to
any critical emergency which the varying course of events may bring
forth. Our advances in these concerted systems have for the last ten
years been steady and progressive, and in a few years more will be so
completed as to leave no cause for apprehension that our sea coast will
ever again offer a theater of hostile invasion.

The next of these cardinal measures of policy is the preliminary to
great and lasting works of public improvement in the surveys of roads,
examination for the course of canals, and labors for the removal of the
obstructions of rivers and harbors, first commenced by the act of
Congress of April 30th, 1824.

The report exhibits in one table the funds appropriated at the last and
preceding sessions of Congress for all these fortifications, surveys,
and works of public improvement, the manner in which these funds have
been applied, the amount expended upon the several works under
construction, and the further sums which may be necessary to complete
them; in a second, the works projected by the Board of Engineers which
have not been commenced, and the estimate of their cost; in a third,
the report of the annual Board of Visitors at the Military Academy at
West Point.

For thirteen fortifications erecting on various points of our Atlantic
coast, from Rhode Island to Louisiana, the aggregate expenditure of the
year has fallen little short of $1,000,000. For the preparation of five
additional reports of reconnoissances and surveys since the last
session of Congress, for the civil construction upon 37 different
public works commenced, eight others for which specific appropriations
have been made by acts of Congress, and twenty other incipient surveys
under the authority given by the act of April 30th, 1824, about
$1,000,000 more has been drawn from the Treasury.

To these $2,000,000 is to be added the appropriation of $250,000 to
commence the erection of a break-water near the mouth of the Delaware
River, the subscriptions to the Delaware and Chesapeake, the Louisville
and Portland, the Dismal Swamp, and the Chesapeake and Ohio canals, the
large donations of lands to the States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and
Alabama for objects of improvements within those States, and the sums
appropriated for light-houses, buoys, and piers on the coast; and a
full view will be taken of the munificence of the nation in the
application of its resources to the improvement of its own condition.

Of these great national under-takings the Academy at West Point is
among the most important in itself and the most comprehensive in its
consequences. In that institution a part of the revenue of the nation
is applied to defray the expense of educating a competent portion of
her youth chiefly to the knowledge and the duties of military life. It
is the living armory of the nation. While the other works of
improvement enumerated in the reports now presented to the attention of
Congress are destined to ameliorate the face of nature, to multiply the
facilities of communication between the different parts of the Union,
to assist the labors, increase the comforts, and enhance the enjoyments
of individuals, the instruction acquired at West Point enlarges the
dominion and expands the capacities of the mind. Its beneficial results
are already experienced in the composition of the Army, and their
influence is felt in the intellectual progress of society. The
institution is susceptible still of great improvement from benefactions
proposed by several successive Boards of Visitors, to whose earnest and
repeated recommendations I cheerfully add my own.

With the usual annual reports from the Secretary of the Navy and the
Board of Commissioners will be exhibited to the view of Congress the
execution of the laws relating to that department of the public
service. The repression of piracy in the West Indian and in the Grecian
seas has been effectually maintained, with scarcely any exception.
During the war between the Governments of Buenos Ayres and of Brazil
frequent collisions between the belligerent acts of power and the
rights of neutral commerce occurred. Licentious blockades, irregularly
enlisted or impressed sea men, and the property of honest commerce
seized with violence, and even plundered under legal pretenses, are
disorders never separable from the conflicts of war upon the ocean.

With a portion of them the correspondence of our commanders on the
eastern aspect of the South American coast and among the islands of
Greece discover how far we have been involved. In these the honor of
our country and the rights of our citizens have been asserted and
vindicated. The appearance of new squadrons in the Mediterranean and
the blockade of the Dardanelles indicate the danger of other obstacles
to the freedom of commerce and the necessity of keeping our naval force
in those seas. To the suggestions repeated in the report of the
Secretary of the Navy, and tending to the permanent improvement of this
institution, I invite the favorable consideration of Congress.

A resolution of the House of Representatives requesting that one of our
small public vessels should be sent to the Pacific Ocean and South Sea
to examine the coasts, islands, harbors, shoals, and reefs in those
seas, and to ascertain their true situation and description, has been
put in a train of execution. The vessel is nearly ready to depart. The
successful accomplishment of the expedition may be greatly facilitated
by suitable legislative provisions, and particularly by an
appropriation to defray its necessary expense. The addition of a 2nd,
and perhaps a 3rd, vessel, with a slight aggravation of the cost, would
contribute much to the safety of the citizens embarked on this under-
taking, the results of which may be of the deepest interest to our

With the report of the Secretary of the Navy will be submitted, in
conformity to the act of Congress of March 3d, 1827, for the gradual
improvement of the Navy of the United States, statements of the
expenditures under that act and of the measures for carrying the same
into effect. Every section of that statute contains a distinct
provision looking to the great object of the whole--the gradual
improvement of the Navy. Under its salutary sanction stores of ship
timber have been procured and are in process of seasoning and
preservation for the future uses of the Navy. Arrangements have been
made for the preservation of the live oak timber growing on the lands
of the United States, and for its reproduction, to supply at future and
distant days the waste of that most valuable material for ship building
by the great consumption of it yearly for the commercial as well as for
the military marine of our country.

The construction of the two dry docks at Charlestown and at Norfolk is
making satisfactory progress toward a durable establishment. The
examinations and inquiries to ascertain the practicability and
expediency of a marine railway at Pensacola, though not yet
accomplished, have been postponed but to be more effectually made. The
navy yards of the United States have been examined, and plans for their
improvement and the preservation of the public property therein at
Portsmouth, Charlestown, Philadelphia, Washington, and Gosport, and to
which two others are to be added, have been prepared and received my
sanction; and no other portion of my public duties has been performed
with a more intimate conviction of its importance to the future welfare
and security of the Union.

With the report from the Post Master General is exhibited a comparative
view of the gradual increase of that establishment, from five to five
years, since 1792 'til this time in the number of post offices, which
has grown from less than 200 to nearly 8,000; in the revenue yielded by
them, which from $67,000 has swollen to upward of $1,500,000, and in
the number of miles of post roads, which from 5,642 have multiplied to
114,536. While in the same period of time the population of the Union
has about thrice doubled, the rate of increase of these offices is
nearly 40, and of the revenue and of traveled miles from 20 to 25 for
one. The increase of revenue within the last five years has been nearly
equal to the whole revenue of the Department in 1812.

The expenditures of the Department during the year which ended on July
1st, 1828 have exceeded the receipts by a sum of about $25,000. The
excess has been occasioned by the increase of mail conveyances and
facilities to the extent of near 800,000 miles. It has been supplied by
collections from the post masters of the arrearages of preceding years.
While the correct principle seems to be that the income levied by the
Department should defray all its expenses, it has never been the policy
of this Government to raise from this establishment any revenue to be
applied to any other purposes. The suggestion of the Post Master
General that the insurance of the safe transmission of moneys by the
mail might be assumed by the Department for a moderate and competent
remuneration will deserve the consideration of Congress.

A report from the commissioner of the public buildings in this city
exhibits the expenditures upon them in the course of the current year.
It will be seen that the humane and benevolent intentions of Congress
in providing, by the act of May 20th, 1826, for the erection of a
penitentiary in this District have been accomplished. The authority of
further legislation is now required for the removal to this tenement of
the offenders against the laws sentenced to atone by personal
confinement for their crimes, and to provide a code for their
employment and government while thus confined.

The commissioners appointed, conformably to the act of March 2d, 1827,
to provide for the adjustment of claims of persons entitled to
indemnification under the first article of the treaty of Ghent, and for
the distribution among such claimants of the sum paid by the Government
of Great Britain under the convention of November 13th, 1826, closed
their labors on August 30th, 1828 last by awarding to the claimants the
sum of $1,197,422.18, leaving a balance of $7,537.82, which was
distributed ratably amongst all the claimants to whom awards had been
made, according to the directions of the act.

The exhibits appended to the report from the Commissioner of the
General Land Office present the actual condition of that common
property of the Union. The amount paid into the Treasury from the
proceeds of lands during the year 1827 and for the first half of 1828
falls little short of $2,000,000. The propriety of further extending
the time for the extinguishment of the debt due to the United States by
the purchasers of the public lands, limited by the act of March 21st,
1828 to July 4th, 1829, will claim the consideration of Congress, to
whose vigilance and careful attention the regulation, disposal, and
preservation of this great national inheritance has by the people of
the United States been intrusted.

Among the important subjects to which the attention of the present
Congress has already been invited, and which may occupy their further
and deliberate discussion, will be the provision to be made for taking
the 5th census of enumeration of the inhabitants of the United States.
The Constitution of the United States requires that this enumeration
should be made within every term of ten years, and the date from which
the last enumeration commenced was the first Monday of August of the
year 1820.

The laws under which the former enumerations were taken were enacted at
the session of Congress immediately preceding the operation; but
considerable inconveniences were experienced from the delay of
legislation to so late a period. That law, like those of the preceding
enumerations, directed that the census should be taken by the marshals
of the several districts and Territories of the Union under
instructions from the Secretary of State. The preparation and
transmission to the marshals of those instructions required more time
than was then allowed between the passage of the law and the day when
the enumeration was to commence. The term of six months limited for the
returns of the marshals was also found even then too short, and must be
more so now, when an additional population of at least 3,000,000 must
be presented upon the returns.

As they are to be made at the short session of Congress, it would, as
well as from other considerations, be more convenient to commence the
enumeration from an earlier period of the year than the first of
August. The most favorable season would be the spring.

On a review of the former enumerations it will be found that the plan
for taking every census has contained many improvements upon that of
its predecessor. The last is still susceptible of much improvement. The
3rd Census was the first at which any account was taken of the
manufactures of the country. It was repeated at the last enumeration,
but the returns in both cases were necessarily very imperfect. They
must always be so, resting, of course, only upon the communications
voluntarily made by individuals interested in some of the manufacturing
establishments. Yet they contained much valuable information, and may
by some supplementary provision of the law be rendered more effective.

The columns of age, commencing from infancy, have hitherto been
confined to a few periods, all under the number of 45 years. Important
knowledge would be obtained by extending these columns, in intervals of
ten years, to the utmost boundaries of human life. The labor of taking
them would be a trifling addition to that already prescribed, and the
result would exhibit comparative tables of longevity highly interesting
to the country. I deem it my duty further to observe that much of the
imperfections in the returns of the last and perhaps of preceding
enumerations proceeded from the inadequateness of the compensations
allowed to the marshals and their assistants in taking them.

In closing this communication it only remains for me to assure the
Legislature of my continued earnest wish for the adoption of measures
recommended by me heretofore and yet to be acted on by them, and of the
cordial concurrence on my part in every constitutional provision which
may receive their sanction during the session tending to the general



State of the Union Address
Andrew Jackson
December 8, 1829

Fellow Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

It affords me pleasure to tender my friendly greetings to you on the
occasion of your assembling at the seat of Government to enter upon the
important duties to which you have been called by the voice of our
country-men. The task devolves on me, under a provision of the
Constitution, to present to you, as the Federal Legislature of 24
sovereign States and 12,000,000 happy people, a view of our affairs,
and to propose such measures as in the discharge of my official
functions have suggested themselves as necessary to promote the objects
of our Union.

In communicating with you for the first time it is to me a source of
unfeigned satisfaction, calling for mutual gratulation and devout
thanks to a benign Providence, that we are at peace with all man-kind,
and that our country exhibits the most cheering evidence of general
welfare and progressive improvement. Turning our eyes to other nations,
our great desire is to see our brethren of the human race secured in
the blessings enjoyed by ourselves, and advancing in knowledge, in
freedom, and in social happiness.

Our foreign relations, although in their general character pacific and
friendly, present subjects of difference between us and other powers of
deep interest as well to the country at large as to many of our
citizens. To effect an adjustment of these shall continue to be the
object of my earnest endeavors, and not with standing the difficulties
of the task, I do not allow myself to apprehend unfavorable results.
Blessed as our country is with every thing which constitutes national
strength, she is fully adequate to the maintenance of all her
interests. In discharging the responsible trust confided to the
Executive in this respect it is my settled purpose to ask nothing that
is not clearly right and to submit to nothing that is wrong; and I
flatter myself that, supported by the other branches of the Government
and by the intelligence and patriotism of the people, we shall be able,
under the protection of Providence, to cause all our just rights to be

Of the unsettled matters between the United States and other powers,
the most prominent are those which have for years been the subject of
negotiation with England, France, and Spain. The late periods at which
our ministers to those Governments left the United States render it
impossible at this early day to inform you of what has been done on the
subjects with which they have been respectively charged. Relying upon
the justice of our views in relation to the points committed to
negotiation and the reciprocal good feeling which characterizes our
intercourse with those nations, we have the best reason to hope for a
satisfactory adjustment of existing differences.

With Great Britain, alike distinguished in peace and war, we may look
forward to years of peaceful, honorable, and elevated competition.
Every thing in the condition and history of the two nations is
calculated to inspire sentiments of mutual respect and to carry
conviction to the minds of both that it is their policy to preserve the
most cordial relations. Such are my own views, and it is not to be
doubted that such are also the prevailing sentiments of our
constituents. Although neither time nor opportunity has been afforded
for a full development of the policy which the present cabinet of Great
Britain designs to pursue toward this country, I indulge the hope that
it will be of a just and pacific character; and if this anticipation be
realized we may look with confidence to a speedy and acceptable
adjustment of our affairs.

Under the convention for regulating the reference to arbitration of the
disputed points of boundary under the 5th article of the treaty of
Ghent, the proceedings have hitherto been conducted in that spirit of
candor and liberality which ought ever to characterize the acts of
sovereign States seeking to adjust by the most unexceptionable means
important and delicate subjects of contention. The first sentiments of
the parties have been exchanged, and the final replication on our part
is in a course of preparation. This subject has received the attention
demanded by its great and peculiar importance to a patriotic member of
this Confederacy. The exposition of our rights already made is such as,
from the high reputation of the commissioners by whom it has been
prepared, we had a right to expect. Our interests at the Court of the
Sovereign who has evinced his friendly disposition by assuming the
delicate task of arbitration have been committed to a citizen of the
State of Maine, whose character, talents, and intimate acquaintance
with the subject eminently qualify him for so responsible a trust. With
full confidence in the justice of our cause and in the probity,
intelligence, and uncompromising independence of the illustrious
arbitrator, we can have nothing to apprehend from the result.

From France, our ancient ally, we have a right to expect that justice
which becomes the sovereign of a powerful, intelligent, and magnanimous
people. The beneficial effects produced by the commercial convention of
1822, limited as are its provisions, are too obvious not to make a
salutary impression upon the minds of those who are charged with the
administration of her Government. Should this result induce a
disposition to embrace to their full extent the wholesome principles
which constitute our commercial policy, our minister to that Court will
be found instructed to cherish such a disposition and to aid in
conducting it to useful practical conclusions. The claims of our
citizens for depredations upon their property, long since committed
under the authority, and in many instances by the express direction, of
the then existing Government of France, remain unsatisfied, and must
therefore continue to furnish a subject of unpleasant discussion and
possible collision between the two Governments. I cherish, however, a
lively hope, founded as well on the validity of those claims and the
established policy of all enlightened governments as on the known
integrity of the French Monarch, that the injurious delays of the past
will find redress in the equity of the future. Our minister has been
instructed to press these demands on the French Government with all the
earnestness which is called for by their importance and irrefutable
justice, and in a spirit that will evince the respect which is due to
the feelings of those from whom the satisfaction is required.

Our minister recently appointed to Spain has been authorized to assist
in removing evils alike injurious to both countries, either by
concluding a commercial convention upon liberal and reciprocal terms or
by urging the acceptance in their full extent of the mutually
beneficial provisions of our navigation acts. He has also been
instructed to make a further appeal to the justice of Spain, in behalf
of our citizens, for indemnity for spoliations upon our commerce
committed under her authority--an appeal which the pacific and liberal
course observed on our part and a due confidence in the honor of that
Government authorize us to expect will not be made in vain.

With other European powers our intercourse is on the most friendly
footing. In Russia, placed by her territorial limits, extensive
population, and great power high in the rank of nations, the United
States have always found a steadfast friend. Although her recent
invasion of Turkey awakened a lively sympathy for those who were
exposed to the desolation of war, we can not but anticipate that the
result will prove favorable to the cause of civilization and to the
progress of human happiness. The treaty of peace between these powers
having been ratified, we can not be insensible to the great benefit to
be derived by the commerce of the United States from unlocking the
navigation of the Black Sea, a free passage into which is secured to
all merchant vessels bound to ports of Russia under a flag at peace
with the Porte. This advantage, enjoyed upon conditions by most of the
powers of Europe, has hitherto been withheld from us. During the past
summer an antecedent but unsuccessful attempt to obtain it was renewed
under circumstances which promised the most favorable results. Although
these results have fortunately been thus in part attained, further
facilities to the enjoyment of this new field for the enterprise of our
citizens are, in my opinion, sufficiently desirable to insure to them
our most zealous attention.

Our trade with Austria, although of secondary importance, has been
gradually increasing, and is now so extended as to deserve the
fostering care of the Government. A negotiation, commenced and nearly
completed with that power by the late Administration, has been
consummated by a treaty of amity, navigation, and commerce, which will
be laid before the Senate.

During the recess of Congress our diplomatic relations with Portugal
have been resumed. The peculiar state of things in that country caused
a suspension of the recognition of the representative who presented
himself until an opportunity was had to obtain from our official organ
there information regarding the actual and, as far as practicable,
prospective condition of the authority by which the representative in
question was appointed. This information being received, the
application of the established rule of our Government in like cases was
no longer withheld.

Considerable advances have been made during the present year in the
adjustment of claims of our citizens upon Denmark for spoliations, but
all that we have a right to demand from that Government in their behalf
has not yet been conceded. From the liberal footing, however, upon
which this subject has, with the approbation of the claimants, been
placed by the Government, together with the uniformly just and friendly
disposition which has been evinced by His Danish Majesty, there is a
reasonable ground to hope that this single subject of difference will
speedily be removed.

Our relations with the Barbary Powers continue, as they have long been,
of the most favorable character. The policy of keeping an adequate
force in the Mediterranean, as security for the continuance of this
tranquillity, will be persevered in, as well as a similar one for the
protection of our commerce and fisheries in the Pacific.

The southern Republics of our own hemisphere have not yet realized all
the advantages for which they have been so long struggling. We trust,
however, that the day is not distant when the restoration of peace and
internal quiet, under permanent systems of government, securing the
liberty and promoting the happiness of the citizens, will crown with
complete success their long and arduous efforts in the cause of
self-government, and enable us to salute them as friendly rivals in all
that is truly great and glorious.

The recent invasion of Mexico, and the effect thereby produced upon her
domestic policy, must have a controlling influence upon the great
question of South American emancipation. We have seen the fell spirit
of civil dissension rebuked, and perhaps for ever stifled, in that
Republic by the love of independence. If it be true, as appearances
strongly indicate, the spirit of independence is the master spirit, and
if a corresponding sentiment prevails in the other States, this
devotion to liberty can not be without a proper effect upon the
counsels of the mother country. The adoption by Spain of a pacific
policy toward her former colonies--an event consoling to humanity, and
a blessing to the world, in which she herself can not fail largely to
participate--may be most reasonably expected.

The claims of our citizens upon the South American Governments
generally are in a train of settlement, while the principal part of
those upon Brazil have been adjusted, and a decree in council ordering
bonds to be issued by the minister of the treasury for their amount has
received the sanction of His Imperial Majesty. This event, together
with the exchange of the ratifications of the treaty negotiated and
concluded in 1828, happily terminates all serious causes of difference
with that power.

Measures have been taken to place our commercial relations with Peru
upon a better footing than that upon which they have hitherto rested,
and if met by a proper disposition on the part of that Government
important benefits may be secured to both countries.

Deeply interested as we are in the prosperity of our sister Republics,
and more particularly in that of our immediate neighbor, it would be
most gratifying to me were I permitted to say that the treatment which
we have received at her hands has been as universally friendly as the
early and constant solicitude manifested by the United States for her
success gave us a right to expect. But it becomes my duty to inform you
that prejudices long indulged by a portion of the inhabitants of Mexico
against the envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of the
United States have had an unfortunate influence upon the affairs of the
two countries, and have diminished that usefulness to his own which was
justly to be expected from his talents and zeal. To this cause, in a
great degree, is to be imputed the failure of several measures equally
interesting to both parties, but particularly that of the Mexican
Government to ratify a treaty negotiated and concluded in its own
capital and under its own eye. Under these circumstances it appeared
expedient to give to Mr. Poinsett the option either to return or not,
as in his judgment the interest of his country might require, and
instructions to that end were prepared; but before they could be
dispatched a communication was received from the Government of Mexico,
through its charge d'affaires here, requesting the recall of our
minister. This was promptly complied with, and a representative of a
rank corresponding with that of the Mexican diplomatic agent near this
Government was appointed. Our conduct toward that Republic has been
uniformly of the most friendly character, and having thus removed the
only alleged obstacle to harmonious intercourse, I can not but hope
that an advantageous change will occur in our affairs.

In justice to Mr. Poinsett it is proper to say that my immediate
compliance with the application for his recall and the appointment of a
successor are not to be ascribed to any evidence that the imputation of
an improper interference by him in the local politics of Mexico was
well founded, nor to a want of confidence in his talents or integrity,
and to add that the truth of the charges has never been affirmed by the
federal Government of Mexico in its communications with us.

I consider it one of the most urgent of my duties to bring to your
attention the propriety of amending that part of the Constitution which
relates to the election of President and Vice-President. Our system of
government was by its framers deemed an experiment, and they therefore
consistently provided a mode of remedying its defects.

To the people belongs the right of electing their Chief Magistrate; it
was never designed that their choice should in any case be defeated,
either by the intervention of electoral colleges or by the agency
confided, under certain contingencies, to the House of Representatives.
Experience proves that in proportion as agents to execute the will of
the people are multiplied there is danger of their wishes being
frustrated. Some may be unfaithful; all are liable to err. So far,
therefore, as the people can with convenience speak, it is safer for
them to express their own will.

The number of aspirants to the Presidency and the diversity of the
interests which may influence their claims leave little reason to
expect a choice in the first instance, and in that event the election
must devolve on the House of Representatives, where it is obvious the
will of the people may not be always ascertained, or, if ascertained,
may not be regarded. From the mode of voting by States the choice is to
be made by 24 votes, and it may often occur that one of these will be
controlled by an individual Representative. Honors and offices are at
the disposal of the successful candidate. Repeated ballotings may make
it apparent that a single individual holds the cast in his hand. May he
not be tempted to name his reward?

But even without corruption, supposing the probity of the
Representative to be proof against the powerful motives by which it may
be assailed, the will of the people is still constantly liable to be
misrepresented. One may err from ignorance of the wishes of his
constituents; another from a conviction that it is his duty to be
governed by his own judgment of the fitness of the candidates; finally,
although all were inflexibly honest, all accurately informed of the
wishes of their constituents, yet under the present mode of election a
minority may often elect a President, and when this happens it may
reasonably be expected that efforts will be made on the part of the
majority to rectify this injurious operation of their institutions. But
although no evil of this character should result from such a perversion
of the first principle of our system--that the majority is to
govern--it must be very certain that a President elected by a minority
can not enjoy the confidence necessary to the successful discharge of
his duties.

In this as in all other matters of public concern policy requires that
as few impediments as possible should exist to the free operation of
the public will. Let us, then, endeavor so to amend our system that the
office of Chief Magistrate may not be conferred upon any citizen but in
pursuance of a fair expression of the will of the majority.

I would therefore recommend such an amendment of the Constitution as
may remove all intermediate agency in the election of the President and
Vice-President. The mode may be so regulated as to preserve to each
State its present relative weight in the election, and a failure in the
first attempt may be provided for by confining the second to a choice
between the two highest candidates. In connection with such an
amendment it would seem advisable to limit the service of the Chief
Magistrate to a single term of either four or six years. If, however,
it should not be adopted, it is worthy of consideration whether a
provision disqualifying for office the Representatives in Congress on
whom such an election may have devolved would not be proper.

While members of Congress can be constitutionally appointed to offices
of trust and profit it will be the practice, even under the most
conscientious adherence to duty, to select them for such stations as
they are believed to be better qualified to fill than other citizens;
but the purity of our Government would doubtless be promoted by their
exclusion from all appointments in the gift of the President, in whose
election they may have been officially concerned. The nature of the
judicial office and the necessity of securing in the Cabinet and in
diplomatic stations of the highest rank the best talents and political
experience should, perhaps, except these from the exclusion.

There are, perhaps, few men who can for any great length of time enjoy
office and power without being more or less under the influence of
feelings unfavorable to the faithful discharge of their public duties.
Their integrity may be proof against improper considerations
immediately addressed to themselves, but they are apt to acquire a
habit of looking with indifference upon the public interests and of
tolerating conduct from which an unpracticed man would revolt. Office
is considered as a species of property, and government rather as a
means of promoting individual interests than as an instrument created
solely for the service of the people. Corruption in some and in others
a perversion of correct feelings and principles divert government from
its legitimate ends and make it an engine for the support of the few at
the expense of the many. The duties of all public officers are, or at
least admit of being made, so plain and simple that men of intelligence
may readily qualify themselves for their performance; and I can not but
believe that more is lost by the long continuance of men in office than
is generally to be gained by their experience. I submit, therefore, to
your consideration whether the efficiency of the Government would not
be promoted and official industry and integrity better secured by a
general extension of the law which limits appointments to four years.

In a country where offices are created solely for the benefit of the
people no one man has any more intrinsic right to official station than
another. Offices were not established to give support to particular men
at the public expense. No individual wrong is, therefore, done by
removal, since neither appointment to nor continuance in office is a
matter of right. The incumbent became an officer with a view to public
benefits, and when these require his removal they are not to be
sacrificed to private interests. It is the people, and they alone, who
have a right to complain when a bad officer is substituted for a good
one. He who is removed has the same means of obtaining a living that
are enjoyed by the millions who never held office. The proposed
limitation would destroy the idea of property now so generally
connected with official station, and although individual distress may
be some times produced, it would, by promoting that rotation which
constitutes a leading principle in the republican creed, give healthful
action to the system.

No very considerable change has occurred during the recess of Congress
in the condition of either our agriculture, commerce, or manufactures.
The operation of the tariff has not proved so injurious to the two
former or as beneficial to the latter as was anticipated. Importations
of foreign goods have not been sensibly diminished, while domestic
competition, under an illusive excitement, has increased the production
much beyond the demand for home consumption. The consequences have been
low prices, temporary embarrassment, and partial loss. That such of our
manufacturing establishments as are based upon capital and are
prudently managed will survive the shock and be ultimately profitable
there is no good reason to doubt.

To regulate its conduct so as to promote equally the prosperity of
these three cardinal interests is one of the most difficult tasks of
Government; and it may be regretted that the complicated restrictions
which now embarrass the intercourse of nations could not by common
consent be abolished, and commerce allowed to flow in those channels to
which individual enterprise, always its surest guide, might direct it.
But we must ever expect selfish legislation in other nations, and are
therefore compelled to adapt our own to their regulations in the manner
best calculated to avoid serious injury and to harmonize the
conflicting interests of our agriculture, our commerce, and our
manufactures. Under these impressions I invite your attention to the
existing tariff, believing that some of its provisions require

The general rule to be applied in graduating the duties upon articles
of foreign growth or manufacture is that which will place our own in
fair competition with those of other countries; and the inducements to
advance even a step beyond this point are controlling in regard to
those articles which are of primary necessity in time of war. When we
reflect upon the difficulty and delicacy of this operation, it is
important that it should never be attempted but with the utmost
caution. Frequent legislation in regard to any branch of industry,
affecting its value, and by which its capital may be transferred to new
channels, must always be productive of hazardous speculation and loss.

In deliberating, therefore, on these interesting subjects local
feelings and prejudices should be merged in the patriotic determination
to promote the great interests of the whole. All attempts to connect
them with the party conflicts of the day are necessarily injurious, and
should be discountenanced. Our action upon them should be under the
control of higher and purer motives. Legislation subjected to such
influences can never be just, and will not long retain the sanction of
a people whose active patriotism is not bounded by sectional limits nor
insensible to that spirit of concession and forbearance which gave life
to our political compact and still sustains it. Discarding all
calculations of political ascendancy, the North, the South, the East,
and the West should unite in diminishing any burthen of which either
may justly complain.

The agricultural interest of our country is so essentially connected
with every other and so superior in importance to them all that it is
scarcely necessary to invite to it your particular attention. It is
principally as manufactures and commerce tend to increase the value of
agricultural productions and to extend their application to the wants
and comforts of society that they deserve the fostering care of

Looking forward to the period, not far distant, when a sinking fund
will no longer be required, the duties on those articles of importation
which can not come in competition with our own productions are the
first that should engage the attention of Congress in the modification
of the tariff. Of these, tea and coffee are the most important. They
enter largely into the consumption of the country, and have become
articles of necessity to all classes. A reduction, therefore, of the
existing duties will be felt as a common benefit, but like all other
legislation connected with commerce, to be efficacious and not
injurious it should be gradual and certain.

The public prosperity is evinced in the increased revenue arising from
the sales of the public lands and in the steady maintenance of that
produced by imposts and tonnage, not withstanding the additional duties
imposed by the act of May 19th, 1828, and the unusual importations in
the early part of that year.

The balance in the Treasury on January 1st, 1829 was $5,972,435.81. The
receipts of the current year are estimated at $24,602,230 and the
expenditures for the same time at $26,164,595, leaving a balance in the
Treasury on January 1st, 1830 of $4,410,070.81.

There will have been paid on account of the public debt during the
present year the sum of $12,405,005.80, reducing the whole debt of the
Government on January 1st, 1830 to $48,565,406.50, including $7 millions
of the 5% stock subscribed to the Bank of the United States. The payment
on account of public debt made on July 1st, 1829 was $8,715,462.87. It was
apprehended that the sudden withdrawal of so large a sum from the banks
in which it was deposited, at a time of unusual pressure in the money
market, might cause much injury to the interests dependent on bank
accommodations. But this evil was wholly averted by an early
anticipation of it at the Treasury, aided by the judicious arrangements
of the officers of the Bank of the United States.

This state of the finances exhibits the resources of the nation in an
aspect highly flattering to its industry and auspicious of the ability
of Government in a very short time to extinguish the public debt. When
this shall be done our population will be relieved from a considerable
portion of its present burthens, and will find not only new motives to
patriotic affection, but additional means for the display of individual
enterprise. The fiscal power of the States will also be increased, and
may be more extensively exerted in favor of education and other public
objects, while ample means will remain in the Federal Government to
promote the general weal in all the modes permitted to its authority.

After the extinction of the public debt it is not probable that any
adjustment of the tariff upon principles satisfactory to the people of
the Union will until a remote period, if ever, leave the Government
without a considerable surplus in the Treasury beyond what may be
required for its current service. As, then, the period approaches when
the application of the revenue to the payment of debt will cease, the
disposition of the surplus will present a subject for the serious
deliberation of Congress; and it may be fortunate for the country that
it is yet to be decided.

Considered in connection with the difficulties which have heretofore
attended appropriations for purposes of internal improvement, and with
those which this experience tells us will certainly arise when ever
power over such subjects may be exercised by the Central Government, it
is hoped that it may lead to the adoption of some plan which will
reconcile the diversified interests of the States and strengthen the
bonds which unite them. Every member of the Union, in peace and in war,
will be benefited by the improvement of inland navigation and the
construction of high ways in the several States. Let us, then, endeavor
to attain this benefit in a mode which will be satisfactory to all.
That hitherto adopted has by many of our fellow citizens been
deprecated as an infraction of the Constitution, while by others it has
been viewed as inexpedient. All feel that it has been employed at the
expense of harmony in the legislative councils.

To avoid these evils it appears to me that the most safe, just, and
federal disposition which could be made of the surplus revenue would be
its apportionment among the several States according to their ratio of
representation, and should this measure not be found warranted by the
Constitution that it would be expedient to propose to the States an
amendment authorizing it. I regard an appeal to the source of power in
cases of real doubt, and where its exercise is deemed indispensable to
the general welfare, as among the most sacred of all our obligations.

Upon this country more than any other has, in the providence of God,
been cast the special guardianship of the great principle of adherence
to written constitutions. If it fail here, all hope in regard to it
will be extinguished.

That this was intended to be a government of limited and specific, and
not general, powers must be admitted by all, and it is our duty to
preserve for it the character intended by its framers. If experience
points out the necessity for an enlargement of these powers, let us
apply for it to those for whose benefit it is to be exercised, and not
under-mine the whole system by a resort to over-strained constructions.
The scheme has worked well. It has exceeded the hopes of those who
devised it, and become an object of admiration to the world. We are
responsible to our country and to the glorious cause of self-government
for the preservation of so great a good.

The great mass of legislation relating to our internal affairs was
intended to be left where the Federal Convention found it--in the State
governments. Nothing is clearer, in my view, than that we are chiefly
indebted for the success of the Constitution under which we are now
acting to the watchful and auxiliary operation of the State
authorities. This is not the reflection of a day, but belongs to the
most deeply rooted convictions of my mind. I can not, therefore, too
strongly or too earnestly, for my own sense of its importance, warn you
against all encroachments upon the legitimate sphere of State
sovereignty. Sustained by its healthful and invigorating influence the
federal system can never fall.

In the collection of the revenue the long credits authorized on goods
imported from beyond the Cape of Good Hope are the chief cause of the
losses at present sustained. If these were shortened to 6, 9, and 12
months, and ware-houses provided by Government sufficient to receive
the goods offered in deposit for security and for debenture, and if the
right of the United States to a priority of payment out of the estates
of its insolvent debtors were more effectually secured, this evil would
in a great measure be obviated. An authority to construct such houses
is therefore, with the proposed alteration of the credits, recommended
to your attention.

It is worthy of notice that the laws for the collection and security of
the revenue arising from imposts were chiefly framed when the rates of
duties on imported goods presented much less temptation for illicit
trade than at present exists. There is reason to believe that these
laws are in some respects quite insufficient for the proper security of
the revenue and the protection of the interests of those who are
disposed to observe them. The injurious and demoralizing tendency of a
successful system of smuggling is so obvious as not to require comment,
and can not be too carefully guarded against. I therefore suggest to
Congress the propriety of adopting efficient measures to prevent this
evil, avoiding, however, as much as possible, every unnecessary
infringement of individual liberty and embarrassment of fair and lawful

On an examination of the records of the Treasury I have been forcibly
struck with the large amount of public money which appears to be
outstanding. Of the sum thus due from individuals to the Government a
considerable portion is undoubtedly desperate, and in many instances
has probably been rendered so by remissness in the agents charged with
its collection. By proper exertions a great part, however, may yet be
recovered; and what ever may be the portions respectively belonging to
these two classes, it behooves the Government to ascertain the real
state of the fact. This can be done only by the prompt adoption of
judicious measures for the collection of such as may be made available.
It is believed that a very large amount has been lost through the
inadequacy of the means provided for the collection of debts due to the
public, and that this inadequacy lies chiefly in the want of legal
skill habitually and constantly employed in the direction of the agents
engaged in the service. It must, I think, be admitted that the
supervisory power over suits brought by the public, which is now vested
in an accounting officer of the Treasury, not selected with a view to
his legal knowledge, and encumbered as he is with numerous other
duties, operates unfavorably to the public interest.

It is important that this branch of the public service should be
subjected to the supervision of such professional skill as will give it
efficiency. The expense attendant upon such a modification of the
executive department would be justified by the soundest principles of
economy. I would recommend, therefore, that the duties now assigned to
the agent of the Treasury, so far as they relate to the superintendence
and management of legal proceedings on the part of the United States,
be transferred to the Attorney General, and that this officer be placed
on the same footing in all respects as the heads of the other
Departments, receiving like compensation and having such subordinate
officers provided for his Department as may be requisite for the
discharge of these additional duties. The professional skill of the
Attorney General, employed in directing the conduct of marshals and
district attorneys, would hasten the collection of debts now in suit
and hereafter save much to the Government. It might be further extended
to the superintendence of all criminal proceedings for offenses against
the United States. In making this transfer great care should be taken,
however, that the power necessary to the Treasury Department be not
impaired, one of its greatest securities consisting in control over all
accounts until they are audited or reported for suit.

In connection with the foregoing views I would suggest also an inquiry
whether the provisions of the act of Congress authorizing the discharge
of the persons of the debtors to the Government from imprisonment may
not, consistently with the public interest, be extended to the release
of the debt where the conduct of the debtor is wholly exempt from the
imputation of fraud. Some more liberal policy than that which now
prevails in reference to this unfortunate class of citizens is
certainly due to them, and would prove beneficial to the country. The
continuance of the liability after the means to discharge it have been
exhausted can only serve to dispirit the debtor; or, where his
resources are but partial, the want of power in the Government to
compromise and release the demand instigates to fraud as the only
resource for securing a support to his family. He thus sinks into a
state of apathy, and becomes a useless drone in society or a vicious
member of it, if not a feeling witness of the rigor and inhumanity of
his country. All experience proves that oppressive debt is the bane of
enterprise, and it should be the care of a republic not to exert a
grinding power over misfortune and poverty.

Since the last session of Congress numerous frauds on the Treasury have
been discovered, which I thought it my duty to bring under the
cognizance of the United States court for this district by a criminal
prosecution. It was my opinion and that of able counsel who were
consulted that the cases came within the penalties of the act of the
17th Congress approved March 3d, 1823, providing for punishment of
frauds committed on the Government of the United States. Either from
some defect in the law or in its administration every effort to bring
the accused to trial under its provisions proved ineffectual, and the
Government was driven to the necessity of resorting to the vague and
inadequate provisions of the common law. It is therefore my duty to
call your attention to the laws which have been passed for the
protection of the Treasury. If, indeed, there be no provision by which
those who may be unworthily intrusted with its guardianship can be
punished for the most flagrant violation of duty, extending even to the
most fraudulent appropriation of the public funds to their own use, it
is time to remedy so dangerous an omission; or if the law has been
perverted from its original purposes, and criminals deserving to be
punished under its provisions have been rescued by legal subtleties, it
ought to be made so plain by amendatory provisions as to baffle the
arts of perversion and accomplish the ends of its original enactment.

In one of the most flagrant causes the court decided that the
prosecution was barred by the statute which limits prosecutions for
fraud to two years. In this case all the evidences of the fraud, and,
indeed, all knowledge that a fraud had been committed, were in
possession of the party accused until after the two years had elapsed.
Surely the statute ought not to run in favor of any man while he
retains all the evidences of his crime in his own possession, and least
of all in favor of a public officer who continues to defraud the
Treasury and conceal the transaction for the brief term of two years. I
would therefore recommend such an alteration of the law as will give
the injured party and the Government two years after the disclosure of
the fraud or after the accused is out of office to commence their

In connection with this subject I invite the attention of Congress to a
general and minute inquiry into the condition of the Government, with a
view to ascertain what offices can be dispensed with, what expenses
retrenched, and what improvements may be made in the organization of
its various parts to secure the proper responsibility of public agents
and promote efficiency and justice in all its operations.

The report of the Secretary of War will make you acquainted with the
condition of our Army, fortifications, arsenals, and Indian affairs.
The proper discipline of the Army, the training and equipment of the
militia, the education bestowed at West Point, and the accumulation of
the means of defense applicable to the naval force will tend to prolong
the peace we now enjoy, and which every good citizen, more especially
those who have felt the miseries of even a successful warfare, must
ardently desire to perpetuate.

The returns from the subordinate branches of this service exhibit a
regularity and order highly creditable to its character. Both officers
and soldiers seem imbued with a proper sense of duty, and conform to
the restraints of exact discipline with that cheerfulness which becomes
the profession of arms. There is need, however, of further legislation
to obviate the inconveniences specified in the report under
consideration, to some of which it is proper that I should call your
particular attention.

The act of Congress of March 2d, 1821, to reduce and fix the military
establishment, remaining unexecuted as it regards the command of one of
the regiments of artillery, can not now be deemed a guide to the
Executive in making the proper appointment. An explanatory act,
designating the class of officers out of which the grade is to be
filled--whether from the military list as existing prior to the act of
1821 or from it as it has been fixed by that act--would remove this
difficulty. It is also important that the laws regulating the pay and
emoluments of officers generally should be more specific than they now
are. Those, for example, in relation to the Pay Master and Surgeon
General assign to them an annual salary of $2.500, but are silent as to
allowances which in certain exigencies of the service may be deemed
indispensable to the discharge of their duties. This circumstance has
been the authority for extending to them various allowances at
different times under former Administrations, but no uniform rule has
been observed on the subject. Similar inconveniences exist in other
cases, in which the construction put upon the laws by the public
accountants may operate unequally, produce confusion, and expose
officers to the odium of claiming what is not their due.

I recommend to your fostering care, as one of our safest means of
national defense, the Military Academy. This institution has already
exercised the happiest influence upon the moral and intellectual
character of our Army; and such of the graduates as from various causes
may not pursue the profession of arms will be scarcely less useful as
citizens. Their knowledge of the military art will be advantageously
employed in the militia service, and in a measure secure to that class
of troops the advantages which in this respect belong to standing

I would also suggest a review of the pension law, for the purpose of
extending its benefits to every Revolutionary soldier who aided in
establishing our liberties, and who is unable to maintain himself in
comfort. These relics of the War of Independence have strong claims
upon their country's gratitude and bounty. The law is defective in not
embracing within its provisions all those who were during the last war
disabled from supporting themselves by manual labor. Such an amendment
would add but little to the amount of pensions, and is called for by
the sympathies of the people as well as by considerations of sound

It will be perceived that a large addition to the list of pensioners
has been occasioned by an order of the late Administration, departing
materially from the rules which had previously prevailed. Considering
it an act of legislation, I suspended its operation as soon as I was
informed that it had commenced. Before this period, however,
applications under the new regulation had been preferred to the number
of 154, of which, on March 27, the date of its revocation, 87 were
admitted. For the amount there was neither estimate nor appropriation;
and besides this deficiency, the regular allowances, according to the
rules which have heretofore governed the Department, exceed the
estimate of its late Secretary by about $50,000, for which an
appropriation is asked.

Your particular attention is requested to that part of the report of
the Secretary of War which relates to the money held in trust for the
Seneca tribe of Indians. It will be perceived that without legislative
aid the Executive can not obviate the embarrassments occasioned by the
diminution of the dividends on that fund, which originally amounted to
$100,000, and has recently been invested in United States 3% stock.

The condition and ulterior destiny of the Indian tribes within the
limits of some of our States have become objects of much interest and
importance. It has long been the policy of Government to introduce
among them the arts of civilization, in the hope of gradually
reclaiming them from a wandering life. This policy has, however, been
coupled with another wholly incompatible with its success. Professing a
desire to civilize and settle them, we have at the same time lost no
opportunity to purchase their lands and thrust them farther into the
wilderness. By this means they have not only been kept in a wandering
state, but been led to look upon us as unjust and indifferent to their
fate. Thus, though lavish in its expenditures upon the subject,
Government has constantly defeated its own policy, and the Indians in
general, receding farther and farther to the west, have retained their
savage habits. A portion, however, of the Southern tribes, having
mingled much with the whites and made some progress in the arts of
civilized life, have lately attempted to erect an independent
government within the limits of Georgia and Alabama. These States,
claiming to be the only sovereigns within their territories, extended
their laws over the Indians, which induced the latter to call upon the
United States for protection.

Under these circumstances the question presented was whether the
General Government had a right to sustain those people in their
pretensions. The Constitution declares that "no new State shall be
formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other State" without
the consent of its legislature. If the General Government is not
permitted to tolerate the erection of a confederate State within the
territory of one of the members of this Union against her consent, much
less could it allow a foreign and independent government to establish
itself there.

Georgia became a member of the Confederacy which eventuated in our
Federal Union as a sovereign State, always asserting her claim to
certain limits, which, having been originally defined in her colonial
charter and subsequently recognized in the treaty of peace, she has
ever since continued to enjoy, except as they have been circumscribed
by her own voluntary transfer of a portion of her territory to the
United States in the articles of cession of 1802. Alabama was admitted
into the Union on the same footing with the original States, with
boundaries which were prescribed by Congress.

There is no constitutional, conventional, or legal provision which
allows them less power over the Indians within their borders than is
possessed by Maine or New York. Would the people of Maine permit the
Penobscot tribe to erect an independent government within their State?
And unless they did would it not be the duty of the General Government
to support them in resisting such a measure? Would the people of New
York permit each remnant of the six Nations within her borders to
declare itself an independent people under the protection of the United
States? Could the Indians establish a separate republic on each of
their reservations in Ohio? And if they were so disposed would it be
the duty of this Government to protect them in the attempt? If the
principle involved in the obvious answer to these questions be
abandoned, it will follow that the objects of this Government are
reversed, and that it has become a part of its duty to aid in
destroying the States which it was established to protect.

Actuated by this view of the subject, I informed the Indians inhabiting
parts of Georgia and Alabama that their attempt to establish an
independent government would not be countenanced by the Executive of
the United States, and advised them to emigrate beyond the Mississippi
or submit to the laws of those States.

Our conduct toward these people is deeply interesting to our national
character. Their present condition, contrasted with what they once
were, makes a most powerful appeal to our sympathies. Our ancestors
found them the uncontrolled possessors of these vast regions. By
persuasion and force they have been made to retire from river to river
and from mountain to mountain, until some of the tribes have become
extinct and others have left but remnants to preserve for a while their
once terrible names. Surrounded by the whites with their arts of
civilization, which by destroying the resources of the savage doom him
to weakness and decay, the fate of the Mohegan, the Narragansett, and
the Delaware is fast over-taking the Choctaw, the Cherokee, and the
Creek. That this fate surely awaits them if they remain within the
limits of the States does not admit of a doubt. Humanity and national
honor demand that every effort should be made to avert so great a
calamity. It is too late to inquire whether it was just in the United
States to include them and their territory within the bounds of new
States, whose limits they could control. That step can not be retraced.
A State can not be dismembered by Congress or restricted in the
exercise of her constitutional power. But the people of those States
and of every State, actuated by feelings of justice and a regard for
our national honor, submit to you the interesting question whether
something can not be done, consistently with the rights of the States,
to preserve this much-injured race.  As a means of effecting this end I
suggest for your consideration the propriety of setting apart an ample
district west of the Mississippi, and without the limits of any State
or Territory now formed, to be guaranteed to the Indian tribes as long
as they shall occupy it, each tribe having a distinct control over the
portion designated for its use. There they may be secured in the
enjoyment of governments of their own choice, subject to no other
control from the United States than such as may be necessary to
preserve peace on the frontier and between the several tribes. There
the benevolent may endeavor to teach them the arts of civilization,
and, by promoting union and harmony among them, to raise up an
interesting commonwealth, destined to perpetuate the race and to attest
the humanity and justice of this Government.

This emigration should be voluntary, for it would be as cruel as unjust
to compel the aborigines to abandon the graves of their fathers and
seek a home in a distant land. But they should be distinctly informed
that if they remain within the limits of the States they must be
subject to their laws. In return for their obedience as individuals
they will without doubt be protected in the enjoyment of those
possessions which they have improved by their industry. But it seems to
me visionary to suppose that in this state of things claims can be
allowed on tracts of country on which they have neither dwelt nor made
improvements, merely because they have seen them from the mountain or
passed them in the chase. Submitting to the laws of the States, and
receiving, like other citizens, protection in their persons and
property, they will ere long become merged in the mass of our

The accompanying report of the Secretary of the Navy will make you
acquainted with the condition and useful employment of that branch of
our service during the present year. Constituting as it does the best
standing security of this country against foreign aggression, it claims
the especial attention of Government. In this spirit the measures which
since the termination of the last war have been in operation for its
gradual enlargement were adopted, and it should continue to be
cherished as the off-spring of our national experience. It will be
seen, however, that not withstanding the great solicitude which has
been manifested for the perfect organization of this arm and the
liberality of the appropriations which that solicitude has suggested,
this object has in many important respects not been secured.

In time of peace we have need of no more ships of war than are
requisite to the protection of our commerce. Those not wanted for this
object must lay in the harbors, where without proper covering they
rapidly decay, and even under the best precautions for their
preservation must soon become useless. Such is already the case with
many of our finest vessels, which, though unfinished, will now require
immense sums of money to be restored to the condition in which they
were when committed to their proper element.

On this subject there can be but little doubt that our best policy
would be to discontinue the building of ships of the first and second
class, and look rather to the possession of ample materials, prepared
for the emergencies of war, than to the number of vessels which we can
float in a season of peace, as the index of our naval power. Judicious
deposits in navy yards of timber and other materials, fashioned under
the hands of skillful work-men and fitted for prompt application to
their various purposes, would enable us at all times to construct
vessels as fast as they can be manned, and save the heavy expense of
repairs, except to such vessels as must be employed in guarding our

The proper points for the establishment of these yards are indicated
with so much force in the report of the Navy Board that in recommending
it to your attention I deem it unnecessary to do more than express my
hearty concurrence in their views. The yard in this District, being
already furnished with most of the machinery necessary for ship
building, will be competent to the supply of the two selected by the
Board as the best for the concentration of materials, and, from the
facility and certainty of communication between them, it will be
useless to incur at those depots the expense of similar machinery,
especially that used in preparing the usual metallic and wooden
furniture of vessels.

Another improvement would be effected by dispensing altogether with the
Navy Board as now constituted, and substituting in its stead bureaux
similar to those already existing in the War Department. Each member of
the Board, transferred to the head of a separate bureau charged with
specific duties, would feel in its highest degree that wholesome
responsibility which can not be divided without a far more than
proportionate diminution of its force. Their valuable services would
become still more so when separately appropriated to distinct portions
of the great interests of the Navy, to the prosperity of which each
would be impelled to devote himself by the strongest motives. Under
such an arrangement every branch of this important service would assume
a more simple and precise character, its efficiency would be increased,
and scrupulous economy in the expenditure of public money promoted.

I would also recommend that the Marine Corps be merged in the artillery
or infantry, as the best mode of curing the many defects in its
organization. But little exceeding in number any of the regiments of
infantry, that corps has, besides its lieutenant-colonel commandant,
five brevet lieutenant-colonels, who receive the full pay and
emoluments of their brevet rank, without rendering proportionate
service. Details for marine service could as well be made from the
artillery or infantry, there being no peculiar training requisite for

With these improvements, and such others as zealous watchfulness and
mature consideration may suggest, there can be little doubt that under
an energetic administration of its affairs the Navy may soon be made
every thing that the nation wishes it to be. Its efficiency in the
suppression of piracy in the West India seas, and wherever its
squadrons have been employed in securing the interests of the country,
will appear from the report of the Secretary, to which I refer you for
other interesting details. Among these I would bespeak the attention of
Congress for the views presented in relation to the inequality between
the Army and Navy as to the pay of officers. No such inequality should
prevail between these brave defenders of their country, and where it
does exist it is submitted to Congress whether it ought not to be

The report of the Post Master General is referred to as exhibiting a
highly satisfactory administration of that Department. Abuses have been
reformed, increased expedition in the transportation of the mail
secured, and its revenue much improved. In a political point of view
this Department is chiefly important as affording the means of
diffusing knowledge. It is to the body politic what the veins and
arteries are to the natural--conveying rapidly and regularly to the
remotest parts of the system correct information of the operations of
the Government, and bringing back to it the wishes and feelings of the
people. Through its agency we have secured to ourselves the full
enjoyment of the blessings of a free press.

In this general survey of our affairs a subject of high importance
presents itself in the present organization of the judiciary. An
uniform operation of the Federal Government in the different States is
certainly desirable, and existing as they do in the Union on the basis
of perfect equality, each State has a right to expect that the benefits
conferred on the citizens of others should be extended to hers. The
judicial system of the United States exists in all its efficiency in
only fifteen members of the Union; to three others the circuit courts,
which constitute an important part of that system, have been
imperfectly extended, and to the remaining six altogether denied. The
effect has been to withhold from the inhabitants of the latter the
advantages afforded (by the Supreme Court) to their fellow citizens in
other States in the whole extent of the criminal and much of the civil
authority of the Federal judiciary. That this state of things ought to
be remedied, if it can be done consistently with the public welfare, is
not to be doubted. Neither is it to be disguised that the organization
of our judicial system is at once a difficult and delicate task. To
extend the circuit courts equally throughout the different parts of the
Union, and at the same time to avoid such a multiplication of members
as would encumber the supreme appellate tribunal, is the object
desired. Perhaps it might be accomplished by dividing the circuit
judges into two classes, and providing that the Supreme Court should be
held by these classes alternately, the Chief Justice always presiding.

If an extension of the circuit court system to those States which do
not now enjoy its benefits should be determined upon, it would of
course be necessary to revise the present arrangement of the circuits;
and even if that system should not be enlarged, such a revision is

A provision for taking the census of the people of the United States
will, to insure the completion of that work within a convenient time,
claim the early attention of Congress.

The great and constant increase of business in the Department of State
forced itself at an early period upon the attention of the Executive.
Thirteen years ago it was, in Mr. Madison's last message to Congress,
made the subject of an earnest recommendation, which has been repeated
by both of his successors; and my comparatively limited experience has
satisfied me of its justness. It has arisen from many causes, not the
least of which is the large addition that has been made to the family
of independent nations and the proportionate extension of our foreign
relations. The remedy proposed was the establishment of a home
department--a measure which does not appear to have met the views of
Congress on account of its supposed tendency to increase, gradually and
imperceptibly, the already too strong bias of the federal system toward
the exercise of authority not delegated to it. I am not, therefore,
disposed to revive the recommendation, but am not the less impressed
with the importance of so organizing that Department that its Secretary
may devote more of his time to our foreign relations. Clearly satisfied
that the public good would be promoted by some suitable provision on
the subject, I respectfully invite your attention to it.

The charter of the Bank of the United States expires in 1836, and its
stock holders will most probably apply for a renewal of their
privileges. In order to avoid the evils resulting from precipitancy in
a measure involving such important principles and such deep pecuniary
interests, I feel that I can not, in justice to the parties interested,
too soon present it to the deliberate consideration of the Legislature
and the people. Both the constitutionality and the expediency of the
law creating this bank are well questioned by a large portion of our
fellow citizens, and it must be admitted by all that it has failed in
the great end of establishing an uniform and sound currency.

Under these circumstances, if such an institution is deemed essential
to the fiscal operations of the Government, I submit to the wisdom of
the Legislature whether a national one, founded upon the credit of the
Government and its revenues, might not be devised which would avoid all
constitutional difficulties and at the same time secure all the
advantages to the Government and country that were expected to result
from the present bank.

I can not close this communication without bringing to your view the
just claim of the representatives of Commodore Decatur, his officers
and crew, arising from the recapture of the frigate Philadelphia under
the heavy batteries of Tripoli. Although sensible, as a general rule,
of the impropriety of Executive interference under a Government like
ours, where every individual enjoys the right of directly petitioning
Congress, yet, viewing this case as one of very peculiar character, I
deem it my duty to recommend it to your favorable consideration.
Besides the justice of this claim, as corresponding to those which have
been since recognized and satisfied, it is the fruit of a deed of
patriotic and chivalrous daring which infused life and confidence into
our infant Navy and contributed as much as any exploit in its history
to elevate our national character. Public gratitude, therefore, stamps
her seal upon it, and the meed should not be withheld which may here
after operate as a stimulus to our gallant tars.

I now commend you, fellow citizens, to the guidance of Almighty God,
with a full reliance on His merciful providence for the maintenance of
our free institutions, and with an earnest supplication that what ever
errors it may be my lot to commit in discharging the arduous duties
which have devolved on me will find a remedy in the harmony and wisdom
of your counsels.


State of the Union Address
Andrew Jackson
December 6, 1830

Fellow Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

The pleasure I have in congratulating you upon your return to your
constitutional duties is much heightened by the satisfaction which the
condition of our beloved country at this period justly inspires. The
beneficent Author of All Good has granted to us during the present year
health, peace, and plenty, and numerous causes for joy in the wonderful
success which attends the progress of our free institutions.

With a population unparalleled in its increase, and possessing a
character which combines the hardihood of enterprise with the
considerateness of wisdom, we see in every section of our happy country
a steady improvement in the means of social intercourse, and
correspondent effects upon the genius and laws of our extended

The apparent exceptions to the harmony of the prospect are to be
referred rather to inevitable diversities in the various interests
which enter into the composition of so extensive a whole than any want
of attachment to the Union--interests whose collisions serve only in
the end to foster the spirit of conciliation and patriotism so
essential to the preservation of that Union which I most devoutly hope
is destined to prove imperishable.

In the midst of these blessings we have recently witnessed changes in
the conditions of other nations which may in their consequences call
for the utmost vigilance, wisdom, and unanimity in our councils, and
the exercise of all the moderation and patriotism of our people.

The important modifications of their Government, effected with so much
courage and wisdom by the people of France, afford a happy presage of
their future course, and have naturally elicited from the kindred
feelings of this nation that spontaneous and universal burst of
applause in which you have participated. In congratulating you, my
fellow citizens, upon an event so auspicious to the dearest interests
of man-kind I do no more than respond to the voice of my country,
without transcending in the slightest degree that salutary maxim of the
illustrious Washington which enjoins an abstinence from all
interference with the internal affairs of other nations. From a people
exercising in the most unlimited degree the right of self-government,
and enjoying, as derived from this proud characteristic, under the
favor of Heaven, much of the happiness with which they are blessed; a
people who can point in triumph to their free institutions and
challenge comparison with the fruits they bear, as well as with the
moderation, intelligence, and energy with which they are administered--
from such a people the deepest sympathy was to be expected in a
struggle for the sacred principles of liberty, conducted in a spirit
every way worthy of the cause, and crowned by a heroic moderation which
has disarmed revolution of its terrors. Not withstanding the strong
assurances which the man whom we so sincerely love and justly admire
has given to the world of the high character of the present King of the
French, and which if sustained to the end will secure to him the proud
appellation of Patriot King, it is not in his success, but in that of
the great principle which has borne him to the throne--the paramount
authority of the public will--that the American people rejoice.

I am happy to inform you that the anticipations which were indulged at
the date of my last communication on the subject of our foreign affairs
have been fully realized in several important particulars.

An arrangement has been effected with Great Britain in relation to the
trade between the United States and her West India and North American
colonies which has settled a question that has for years afforded
matter for contention and almost uninterrupted discussion, and has been
the subject of no less than six negotiations, in a manner which
promises results highly favorable to the parties.

The abstract right of Great Britain to monopolize the trade with her
colonies or to exclude us from a participation therein has never been
denied by the United States. But we have contended, and with reason,
that if at any time Great Britain may desire the productions of this
country as necessary to her colonies they must be received upon
principles of just reciprocity, and, further, that it is making an
invidious and unfriendly distinction to open her colonial ports to the
vessels of other nations and close them against those of the United

Antecedently to 1794 a portion of our productions was admitted into the
colonial islands of Great Britain by particular concessions, limited to
the term of one year, but renewed from year to year. In the
transportation of these productions, however, our vessels were not
allowed to engage, this being a privilege reserved to British shipping,
by which alone our produce could be taken to the islands and theirs
brought to us in return. From Newfoundland and her continental
possessions all our productions, as well as our vessels, were excluded,
with occasional relaxations, by which, in seasons of distress, the
former were admitted in British bottoms.

By the treaty of 1794 she offered to concede to us for a limited time
the right of carrying to her West India possessions in our vessels not
exceeding 70 tons burthen, and upon the same terms as British vessels,
any productions of the United States which British vessels might import
therefrom. But this privilege was coupled with conditions which are
supposed to have led to its rejection by the Senate; that is, that
American vessels should land their return cargoes in the United States
only, and, moreover, that they should during the continuance of the
privilege be precluded from carrying molasses, sugar, coffee, cocoa, or
cotton either from those islands or from the United States to any other
part of the world. Great Britain readily consented to expunge this
article from the treaty, and subsequent attempts to arrange the terms
of the trade either by treaty stipulations or concerted legislation
have failed, it has been successively suspended and allowed according
to the varying legislation of the parties.

The following are the prominent points which have in later years
separated the two Governments: Besides a restriction whereby all
importations into her colonies in American vessels are confined to our
own products carried hence, a restriction to which it does not appear
that we have ever objected, a leading object on the part of Great
Britain has been to prevent us from becoming the carriers of British
West India commodities to any other country than our own. On the part
of the United States it has been contended, first, that the subject
should be regulated by treaty stipulation in preference to separate
legislation; second, that our productions, when imported into the
colonies in question, should not be subject to higher duties than the
productions of the mother country or of her other colonial possessions,
and, 3rd, that our vessels should be allowed to participate in the
circuitous trade between the United States and different parts of the
British dominions.

The first point, after having been for a long time strenuously insisted
upon by Great Britain, was given up by the act of Parliament of July,
1825, all vessels suffered to trade with the colonies being permitted
to clear from thence with any articles which British vessels might
export and proceed to any part of the world, Great Britain and her
dependencies alone excepted. On our part each of the above points had
in succession been explicitly abandoned in negotiations preceding that
of which the result is now announced.

This arrangement secures to the United States every advantage asked by
them, and which the state of the negotiation allowed us to insist upon.
The trade will be placed upon a footing decidedly more favorable to
this country than any on which it ever stood, and our commerce and
navigation will enjoy in the colonial ports of Great Britain every
privilege allowed to other nations.

That the prosperity of the country so far as it depends on this trade
will be greatly promoted by the new arrangement there can be no doubt.
Independently of the more obvious advantages of an open and direct
intercourse, its establishment will be attended with other consequences
of a higher value. That which has been carried on since the mutual
interdict under all the expense and inconvenience unavoidably incident
to it would have been insupportably onerous had it not been in a great
degree lightened by concerted evasions in the mode of making the
transshipments at what are called the neutral ports. These indirections
are inconsistent with the dignity of nations that have so many motives
not only to cherish feelings of mutual friendship, but to maintain such
relations as will stimulate their respective citizens and subjects to
efforts of direct, open, and honorable competition only, and preserve
them from the influence of seductive and vitiating circumstances.

When your preliminary interposition was asked at the close of the last
session, a copy of the instructions under which Mr. McLane has acted,
together with the communications which had at that time passed between
him and the British Government, was laid before you. Although there has
not been any thing in the acts of the two Governments which requires
secrecy, it was thought most proper in the then state of the
negotiation to make that communication a confidential one. So soon,
however, as the evidence of execution on the part of Great Britain is
received the whole matter shall be laid before you, when it will be
seen that the apprehension which appears to have suggested one of the
provisions of the act passed at your last session, that the restoration
of the trade in question might be connected with other subjects and was
sought to be obtained at the sacrifice of the public interest in other
particulars, was wholly unfounded, and that the change which has taken
place in the views of the British Government has been induced by
considerations as honorable to both parties as I trust the result will
prove beneficial.

This desirable result was, it will be seen, greatly promoted by the
liberal and confiding provisions of the act of Congress of the last
session, by which our ports were upon the reception and annunciation by
the President of the required assurance on the part of Great Britain
forthwith opened to her vessels before the arrangement could be carried
into effect on her part, pursuing in this act of prospective
legislation a similar course to that adopted by Great Britain in
abolishing, by her act of Parliament in 1825, a restriction then
existing and permitting our vessels to clear from the colonies on their
return voyages for any foreign country whatever before British vessels
had been relieved from the restriction imposed by our law of returning
directly from the United States to the colonies, a restriction which
she required and expected that we should abolish. Upon each occasion a
limited and temporary advantage has been given to the opposite party,
but an advantage of no importance in comparison with the restoration of
mutual confidence and good feeling, and the ultimate establishment of
the trade upon fair principles.

It gives me unfeigned pleasure to assure you that this negotiation has
been throughout characterized by the most frank and friendly spirit on
the part of Great Britain, and concluded in a manner strongly
indicative of a sincere desire to cultivate the best relations with the
United States. To reciprocate this disposition to the fullest extent of
my ability is a duty which I shall deem it a privilege to discharge.

Although the result is itself the best commentary on the services
rendered to his country by our minister at the Court of St. James, it
would be doing violence to my feelings were I to dismiss the subject
without expressing the very high sense I entertain of the talent and
exertion which have been displayed by him on the occasion.

The injury to the commerce of the United States resulting from the
exclusion of our vessels from the Black Sea and the previous footing of
mere sufferance upon which even the limited trade enjoyed by us with
Turkey has hitherto been placed have for a long time been a source of
much solicitude to this Government, and several endeavors have been
made to obtain a better state of things. Sensible of the importance of
the object, I felt it my duty to leave no proper means unemployed to
acquire for our flag the same privileges that are enjoyed by the
principal powers of Europe. Commissioners were consequently appointed
to open a negotiation with the Sublime Porte. Not long after the member
of the commission who went directly from the United States had sailed,
the account of the treaty of Adrianople, by which one of the objects in
view was supposed to be secured, reached this country. The Black Sea
was understood to be opened to us. Under the supposition that this was
the case, the additional facilities to be derived from the
establishment of commercial regulations with the Porte were deemed of
sufficient importance to require a prosecution of the negotiation as
originally contemplated. It was therefore persevered in, and resulted
in a treaty, which will be forthwith laid before the Senate.

By its provisions a free passage is secured, without limitations of
time, to the vessels of the United States to and from the Black Sea,
including the navigation thereof, and our trade with Turkey is placed
on the footing of the most favored nation. The latter is an arrangement
wholly independent of the treaty of Adrianople, and the former derives
much value, not only from the increased security which under any
circumstances it would give to the right in question, but from the
fact, ascertained in the course of the negotiation, that by the
construction put upon that treaty by Turkey the article relating to the
passage of the Bosphorus is confined to nations having treaties with
the Porte. The most friendly feelings appear to be entertained by the
Sultan, and an enlightened disposition is evinced by him to foster the
intercourse between the two countries by the most liberal arrangements.
This disposition it will be our duty and interest to cherish.

Our relations with Russia are of the most stable character. Respect for
that Empire and confidence in its friendship toward the United States
have been so long entertained on our part and so carefully cherished by
the present Emperor and his illustrious predecessor as to have become
incorporated with the public sentiment of the United States. No means
will be left unemployed on my part to promote these salutary feelings
and those improvements of which the commercial intercourse between the
two countries is susceptible, and which have derived increased
importance from our treaty with the Sublime Porte.

I sincerely regret to inform you that our minister lately commissioned
to that Court, on whose distinguished talents and great experience in
public affairs I place great reliance, has been compelled by extreme
indisposition to exercise a privilege which, in consideration of the
extent to which his constitution had been impaired in the public
service, was committed to his discretion--of leaving temporarily his
post for the advantage of a more genial climate.

If, as it is to be hoped, the improvement of his health should be such
as to justify him in doing so, he will repair to St. Petersburg and
resume the discharge of his official duties. I have received the most
satisfactory assurances that in the mean time the public interest in
that quarter will be preserved from prejudice by the intercourse which
he will continue through the secretary of legation with the Russian

You are apprised, although the fact has not yet been officially
announced to the House of Representatives, that a treaty was in the
month of March last concluded between the United States, and Denmark,
by which $650 thousand are secured to our citizens as an indemnity for
spoliations upon their commerce in the years 1808, 1809, 1810, and
1811. This treaty was sanctioned by the Senate at the close of its last
session, and it now becomes the duty of Congress to pass the necessary
laws for the organization of the board of commissioners to distribute
the indemnity among the claimants. It is an agreeable circumstance in
this adjustment that the terms are in conformity with the previously
ascertained views of the claimants themselves, thus removing all
pretense for a future agitation of the subject in any form.

The negotiations in regard to such points in our foreign relations as
remain to be adjusted have been actively prosecuted during the recess.
Material advances have been made, which are of a character to promise
favorable results. Our country, by the blessing of God, is not in a
situation to invite aggression, and it will be our fault if she ever
becomes so. Sincerely desirous to cultivate the most liberal and
friendly relations with all; ever ready to fulfill our engagements with
scrupulous fidelity; limiting our demands upon others to mere justice;
holding ourselves ever ready to do unto them as we would wish to be
done by, and avoiding even the appearance of undue partiality to any
nation, it appears to me impossible that a simple and sincere
application of our principles to our foreign relations can fail to
place them ultimately upon the footing on which it is our wish they
should rest.

Of the points referred to, the most prominent are our claims upon
France for spoliations upon our commerce; similar claims upon Spain,
together with embarrassments in the commercial intercourse between the
two countries which ought to be removed; the conclusion of the treaty
of commerce and navigation with Mexico, which has been so long in
suspense, as well as the final settlement of limits between ourselves
and that Republic, and, finally, the arbitrament of the question
between the United States and Great Britain in regard to the
north-eastern boundary.

The negotiation with France has been conducted by our minister with
zeal and ability, and in all respects to my entire satisfaction.
Although the prospect of a favorable termination was occasionally
dimmed by counter pretensions to which the United States could not
assent, he yet had strong hopes of being able to arrive at a
satisfactory settlement with the late Government. The negotiation has
been renewed with the present authorities, and, sensible of the general
and lively confidence of our citizens in the justice and magnanimity of
regenerated France, I regret the more not to have it in my power yet to
announce the result so confidently anticipated. No ground, however,
inconsistent with this expectation has yet been taken, and I do not
allow myself to doubt that justice will soon be done us. The amount of
the claims, the length of time they have remained unsatisfied, and
their incontrovertible justice make an earnest prosecution of them by
this Government an urgent duty. The illegality of the seizures and
confiscations out of which they have arisen is not disputed, and what
ever distinctions may have heretofore been set up in regard to the
liability of the existing Government it is quite clear that such
considerations can not now be interposed.

The commercial intercourse between the two countries is susceptible of
highly advantageous improvements, but the sense of this injury has had,
and must continue to have, a very unfavorable influence upon them. From
its satisfactory adjustment not only a firm and cordial friendship, but
a progressive development of all their relations, may be expected. It
is, therefore, my earnest hope that this old and vexatious subject of
difference may be speedily removed.

I feel that my confidence in our appeal to the motives which should
govern a just and magnanimous nation is alike warranted by the
character of the French people and by the high voucher we possess for
the enlarged views and pure integrity of the Monarch who now presides
over their councils, and nothing shall be wanting on my part to meet
any manifestation of the spirit we anticipate in one of corresponding
frankness and liberality.

The subjects of difference with Spain have been brought to the view of
that Government by our minister there with much force and propriety,
and the strongest assurances have been received of their early and
favorable consideration.

The steps which remained to place the matter in controversy between
Great Britain and the United States fairly before the arbitrator have
all been taken in the same liberal and friendly spirit which
characterized those before announced. Recent events have doubtless
served to delay the decision, but our minister at the Court of the
distinguished arbitrator has been assured that it will be made within
the time contemplated by the treaty.

I am particularly gratified in being able to state that a decidedly
favorable, and, as I hope, lasting, change has been effected in our
relations with the neighboring Republic of Mexico. The unfortunate and
unfounded suspicions in regard to our disposition which it became my
painful duty to advert to on a former occasion have been, I believe,
entirely removed, and the Government of Mexico has been made to
understand the real character of the wishes and views of this in regard
to that country. The consequences is the establishment of friendship
and mutual confidence. Such are the assurances I have received, and I
see no cause to doubt their sincerity.

I had reason to expect the conclusion of a commercial treaty with
Mexico in season for communication on the present occasion.
Circumstances which are not explained, but which I am persuaded are not
the result of an indisposition on her part to enter into it, have
produced the delay.

There was reason to fear in the course of the last summer that the
harmony of our relations might be disturbed by the acts of certain
claimants, under Mexican grants, of territory which had hitherto been
under our jurisdiction. The cooperation of the representative of Mexico
near this Government was asked on the occasion and was readily
afforded. Instructions and advice have been given to the governor of
Arkansas and the officers in command in the adjoining Mexican State by
which it is hoped the quiet of that frontier will be preserved until a
final settlement of the dividing line shall have removed all ground of

The exchange of ratifications of the treaty concluded last year with
Austria has not yet taken place. The delay has been occasioned by the
non-arrival of the ratification of that Government within the time
prescribed by the treaty. Renewed authority has been asked for by the
representative of Austria, and in the mean time the rapidly increasing
trade and navigation between the two countries have been placed upon
the most liberal footing of our navigation acts.

Several alleged depredations have been recently committed on our
commerce by the national vessels of Portugal. They have been made the
subject of immediate remonstrance and reclamation. I am not yet
possessed of sufficient information to express a definitive opinion of
their character, but expect soon to receive it. No proper means shall
be omitted to obtain for our citizens all the redress to which they may
appear to be entitled.

Almost at the moment of the adjournment of your last session two
bills--the one entitled "An act for making appropriations for building
light houses, light boats, beacons, and monuments, placing buoys, and
for improving harbors and directing surveys", and the other "An act to
authorize a subscription for stock in the Louisville and Portland Canal
Company"--were submitted for my approval. It was not possible within
the time allowed for me before the close of the session to give to
these bills the consideration which was due to their character and
importance, and I was compelled to retain them for that purpose. I now
avail myself of this early opportunity to return them to the Houses in
which they respectively originated with the reasons which, after mature
deliberation, compel me to withhold my approval.

The practice of defraying out of the Treasury of the United States the
expenses incurred by the establishment and support of light houses,
beacons, buoys, and public piers within the bays, inlets, harbors, and
ports of the United States, to render the navigation thereof safe and
easy, is coeval with the adoption of the Constitution, and has been
continued without interruption or dispute.

As our foreign commerce increased and was extended into the interior of
the country by the establishment of ports of entry and delivery upon
our navigable rivers the sphere of those expenditures received a
corresponding enlargement. Light houses, beacons, buoys, public piers,
and the removal of sand bars, sawyers, and other partial or temporary
impediments in the navigable rivers and harbors which were embraced in
the revenue districts from time to time established by law were
authorized upon the same principle and the expense defrayed in the same
manner. That these expenses have at times been extravagant and
disproportionate is very probable. The circumstances under which they
are incurred are well calculated to lead to such a result unless their
application is subjected to the closest scrutiny. The local advantages
arising from the disbursement of public money too frequently, it is to
be feared, invite appropriations for objects of this character that are
neither necessary nor useful.

The number of light house keepers is already very large, and the bill
before me proposes to add to it 51 more of various descriptions. From
representations upon the subject which are understood to be entitled to
respect I am induced to believe that there has not only been great
improvidence in the past expenditures of the Government upon these
objects, but that the security of navigation has in some instances been
diminished by the multiplication of light houses and consequent change
of lights upon the coast. It is in this as in other respects our duty
to avoid all unnecessary expense, as well as every increase of
patronage not called for by the public service.

But in the discharge of that duty in this particular it must not be
forgotten that in relation to our foreign commerce the burden and
benefit of protecting and accommodating it necessarily go together, and
must do so as long as the public revenue is drawn from the people
through the custom house. It is indisputable that whatever gives
facility and security to navigation cheapens imports and all who
consume them are alike interested in what ever produces this effect. If
they consume, they ought, as they now do, to pay; otherwise they do not
pay. The consumer in the most inland State derives the same advantage
from every necessary and prudent expenditure for the facility and
security of our foreign commerce and navigation that he does who
resides in a maritime State. Local expenditures have not of themselves
a corresponding operation.

From a bill making direct appropriations for such objects I should
not have withheld my assent. The one now returned does so in several
particulars, but it also contains appropriations for surveys of local
character, which I can not approve. It gives me satisfaction to find
that no serious inconvenience has arisen from withholding my approval
from this bill; nor will it, I trust, be cause of regret that an
opportunity will be thereby afforded for Congress to review its
provisions under circumstances better calculated for full investigation
than those under which it was passed.

In speaking of direct appropriations I mean not to include a practice
which has obtained to some extent, and to which I have in one instance,
in a different capacity, given my assent--that of subscribing to the
stock of private associations. Positive experience and a more thorough
consideration of the subject have convinced me of the impropriety as
well as inexpediency of such investments. All improvements effected by
the funds of the nation for general use should be open to the enjoyment
of all our fellow citizens, exempt from the payment of tolls or any
imposition of that character. The practice of thus mingling the
concerns of the Government with those of the States or of individuals
is inconsistent with the object of its institution and highly impolite.
The successful operation of the federal system can only be preserved by
confining it to the few and simple, but yet important, objects for
which it was designed.

A different practice, if allowed to progress, would ultimately change
the character of this Government by consolidating into one the General
and State Governments, which were intended to be kept for ever
distinct. I can not perceive how bills authorizing such subscriptions
can be otherwise regarded than as bills for revenue, and consequently
subject to the rule in that respect prescribed by the Constitution. If
the interest of the Government in private companies is subordinate to
that of individuals, the management and control of a portion of the
public funds is delegated to an authority unknown to the Constitution
and beyond the supervision of our constituents; if superior, its
officers and agents will be constantly exposed to imputations of
favoritism and oppression. Direct prejudice the public interest or an
alienation of the affections and respect of portions of the people may,
therefore, in addition to the general discredit resulting to the
Government from embarking with its constituents in pecuniary
stipulations, be looked for as the probable fruit of such associations.
It is no answer to this objection to say that the extent of
consequences like these can not be great from a limited and small
number of investments, because experience in other matters teaches
us--and we are not at liberty to disregard its admonitions--that unless
an entire stop be put to them it will soon be impossible to prevent
their accumulation until they are spread over the whole country and
made to embrace many of the private and appropriate concerns of

The power which the General Government would acquire within the several
States by becoming the principal stock-holder in corporations,
controlling every canal and each 60 or 100 miles of every important
road, and giving a proportionate vote in all their elections, is almost
inconceivable, and in my view dangerous to the liberties of the people.

This mode of aiding such works is also in its nature deceptive, and in
many cases conducive to improvidence in the administration of the
national funds. Appropriations will be obtained with much greater
facility and granted with less security to the public interest when the
measure is thus disguised than when definite and direct expenditures of
money are asked for. The interests of the nation would doubtless be
better served by avoiding all such indirect modes of aiding particular
objects. In a government like ours more especially should all public
acts be, as far as practicable, simple, undisguised, and intelligible,
that they may become fit subjects for the approbation to animadversion
of the people.

The bill authorizing a subscription to the Louisville and Portland
Canal affords a striking illustration of the difficulty of withholding
additional appropriations for the same object when the first erroneous
step has been taken by instituting a partnership between the Government
and private companies. It proposes a third subscription on the part of
the United States, when each preceding one was at the time regarded as
the extent of the aid which Government was to render to that work; and
the accompanying bill for light houses, etc., contains an appropriation
for a survey of the bed of the river, with a view to its improvement by
removing the obstruction which the canal is designed to avoid. This
improvement, if successful, would afford a free passage of the river
and render the canal entirely useless. To such improvidence is the
course of legislation subject in relation to internal improvements on
local matters, even with the best intentions on the part of Congress.

Although the motives which have influenced me in this matter may be
already sufficiently stated, I am, never the less, induced by its
importance to add a few observations of a general character.

In my objections to the bills authorizing subscriptions to the
Maysville and Rockville road companies I expressed my views fully in
regard to the power of Congress to construct roads and canals within a
State of to appropriate money for improvements of a local character. I
at the same time intimated me belief that the right to make
appropriations for such as were of a national character had been so
generally acted upon and so long acquiesced in by the Federal and State
Governments and the constituents of each as to justify its exercise on
the ground of continued and uninterrupted usage, but that it was, never
the less, highly expedient that appropriations even of that character
should, with the exception made at the time, be deferred until the
national debt is paid, and that in the mean while some general rule for
the action of the Government in that respect ought to be established.

These suggestions were not necessary to the decision of the question
then before me, and were, I readily admit, intended to awake the
attention and draw forth the opinion and observations of our
constituents upon a subject of the highest importance to their
interests, and one destined to exert a powerful influence upon the
future operations of our political system. I know of no tribunal to
which a public man in this country, in a case of doubt and difficulty,
can appeal with greater advantage or more propriety than the judgment
of the people; and although I must necessarily in the discharge of my
official duties be governed by the dictates of my own judgment, I have
no desire to conceal my anxious wish to conform as far as I can to the
views of those for whom I act.

All irregular expressions of public opinion are of necessity attended
with some doubt as to their accuracy, but making full allowances on
that account I can not, I think, deceive myself in believing that the
acts referred to, as well as the suggestions which I allowed myself to
make in relation to their bearing upon the future operations of the
Government, have been approved by the great body of the people. That
those whose immediate pecuniary interests are to be affected by
proposed expenditures should shrink from the application of a rule
which prefers their more general and remote interests to those which
are personal and immediate is to be expected. But even such objections
must from the nature of our population be but temporary in their
duration, and if it were otherwise our course should be the same, for
the time is yet, I hope, far distant when those intrusted with power to
be exercised for the good of the whole will consider it either honest
or wise to purchase local favors at the sacrifice of principle and
general good.

So understanding public sentiment, and thoroughly satisfied that the
best interests of our common country imperiously require that the
course which I have recommended in this regard should be adopted, I
have, upon the most mature consideration, determined to pursue it.

It is due to candor, as well as to my own feelings, that I should
express the reluctance and anxiety which I must at all times experience
in exercising the undoubted right of the Executive to withhold his
assent from bills on other grounds than their constitutionality. That
this right should not be exercised on slight occasions all will admit.
It is only in matters of deep interest, when the principle involved may
be justly regarded as next in importance to infractions of the
Constitution itself, that such a step can be expected to meet with the
approbation of the people. Such an occasion do I conscientiously
believe the present to be.

In the discharge of this delicate and highly responsible duty I am
sustained by the reflection that the exercise of this power has been
deemed consistent with the obligation of official duty by several of my
predecessors, and by the persuasion, too, that what ever liberal
institutions may have to fear from the encroachments of Executive
power, which has been every where the cause of so much strife and
bloody contention, but little danger is to be apprehended from a
precedent by which that authority denies to itself the exercise of
powers that bring in their train influence and patronage of great
extent, and thus excludes the operation of personal interests, every
where the bane of official trust.

I derive, too, no small degree of satisfaction from the reflection that
if I have mistaken the interests and wishes of the people the
Constitution affords the means of soon redressing the error by
selecting for the place their favor has bestowed upon me a citizen
whose opinions may accord with their own. I trust, in the mean time,
the interests of the nation will be saved from prejudice by a rigid
application of that portion of the public funds which might otherwise
be applied to different objects to that highest of all our obligations,
the payment of the public debt, and an opportunity be afforded for the
adoption of some better rule for the operations of the Government in
this matter than any which has hitherto been acted upon.

Profoundly impressed with the importance of the subject, not merely as
relates to the general prosperity of the country, but to the safety of
the federal system, I can not avoid repeating my earnest hope that all
good citizens who take a proper interest in the success and harmony of
our admirable political institutions, and who are incapable of desiring
to convert an opposite state of things into means for the gratification
of personal ambition, will, laying aside minor considerations and
discarding local prejudices, unite their honest exertions to establish
some fixed general principle which shall be calculated to effect the
greatest extent of public good in regard to the subject of internal
improvement, and afford the least ground for sectional discontent.

The general grounds of my objection to local appropriations have been
heretofore expressed, and I shall endeavor to avoid a repetition of
what has been already urged--the importance of sustaining the State
sovereignties as far as is consistent with the rightful action of the
Federal Government, and of preserving the greatest attainable harmony
between them. I will now only add an expression of my conviction--a
conviction which every day's experience serves to confirm--that the
political creed which inculcates the pursuit of those great objects as
a paramount duty is the true faith, and one to which we are mainly
indebted for the present success of the entire system, and to which we
must alone look for its future stability.

That there are diversities in the interests of the different States
which compose this extensive Confederacy must be admitted. Those
diversities arising from situation, climate, population, and pursuits
are doubtless, as it is natural they should be, greatly exaggerated by
jealousies and that spirit of rivalry so inseparable from neighboring
communities. These circumstances make it the duty of those who are
intrusted with the management of its affairs to neutralize their
effects as far as practicable by making the beneficial operation of the
Federal Government as equal and equitable among the several States as
can be done consistently with the great ends of its institution.

It is only necessary to refer to undoubted facts to see how far the
past acts of the Government upon the subject under consideration have
fallen short of this object. The expenditures heretofore made for
internal improvements amount to upward of $5 millions, and have been
distributed in very unequal proportions amongst the States. The
estimated expense of works of which surveys have been made, together
with that of others projected and partially surveyed, amounts to more
than $96 millions.

That such improvements, on account of particular circumstances, may be
more advantageously and beneficially made in some States than in others
is doubtless true, but that they are of a character which should
prevent an equitable distribution of the funds amongst the several
States is not to be conceded. The want of this equitable distribution
can not fail to prove a prolific source of irritation among the States.

We have it constantly before our eyes that professions of superior zeal
in the cause of internal improvement and a disposition to lavish the
public funds upon objects of this character are daily and earnestly put
forth by aspirants to power as constituting the highest claims to the
confidence of the people. Would it be strange, under such
circumstances, and in times of great excitement, that grants of this
description should find their motives in objects which may not accord
with the public good? Those who have not had occasion to see and regret
the indication of a sinister influence in these matters in past times
have been more fortunate than myself in their observation of the course
of public affairs. If to these evils be added the combinations and
angry contentions to which such a course of things gives rise, with
their baleful influences upon the legislation of Congress touching the
leading and appropriate duties of the Federal Government, it was but
doing justice to the character of our people to expect the severe
condemnation of the past which the recent exhibitions of public
sentiment has evinced.

Nothing short of a radical change in the action of the Government upon
the subject can, in my opinion, remedy the evil. If, as it would be
natural to expect, the States which have been least favored in past
appropriations should insist on being redressed in those here after to
be made, at the expense of the States which have so largely and
disproportionately participated, we have, as matters now stand, but
little security that the attempt would do more than change the
inequality from one quarter to another.

Thus viewing the subject, I have heretofore felt it my duty to
recommend the adoption of some plan for the distribution of the surplus
funds, which may at any time remain in the Treasury after the national
debt shall have been paid, among the States, in proportion to the
number of their Representatives, to be applied by them to objects of
internal improvement.

Although this plan has met with favor in some portions of the Union, it
has also elicited objections which merit deliberate consideration. A
brief notice of these objections here will not, therefore, I trust, be
regarded as out of place.

They rest, as far as they have come to my knowledge, on the following
grounds: first, an objection to the ration of distribution; second, an
apprehension that the existence of such a regulation would produce
improvident and oppressive taxation to raise the funds for
distribution; 3rd, that the mode proposed would lead to the
construction of works of a local nature, to the exclusion of such as
are general and as would consequently be of a more useful character;
and, last, that it would create a discreditable and injurious
dependence on the part of the State governments upon the Federal power.

Of those who object to the ration of representatives as the basis of
distribution, some insist that the importations of the respective
States would constitute one that would be more equitable; and others
again, that the extent of their respective territories would furnish a
standard which would be more expedient and sufficiently equitable. The
ration of representation presented itself to my mind, and it still
does, as one of obvious equity, because of its being the ratio of
contribution, whether the funds to be distributed be derived from the
customs or from direct taxation. It does not follow, however, that its
adoption is indispensable to the establishment of the system proposed.
There may be considerations appertaining to the subject which would
render a departure, to some extent, from the rule of contribution
proper. Nor is it absolutely necessary that the basis of distribution
be confined to one ground. It may, if in the judgment of those whose
right it is to fix it it be deemed politic and just to give it that
character, have regard to several.

In my first message I stated it to be my opinion that "it is not
probably that any adjustment of the tariff upon principles satisfactory
to the people of the Union will until a remote period, if ever, leave
the Government without a considerable surplus in the Treasury beyond
what may be required for its current surplus". I have had no cause to
change that opinion, but much to confirm it. Should these expectations
be realized, a suitable fund would thus be produced for the plan under
consideration to operate upon, and if there be no such fund its
adoption will, in my opinion, work no injury to any interest; for I can
not assent to the justness of the apprehension that the establishment
of the proposed system would tend to the encouragement of improvident
legislation of the character supposed. What ever the proper authority
in the exercise of constitutional power shall at any time here after
decide to be for the general good will in that as in other respects
deserve and receive the acquiescence and support of the whole country,
and we have ample security that every abuse of power in that regard by
agents of the people will receive a speedy and effectual corrective at
their hands. The views which I take of the future, founded on the
obvious and increasing improvement of all classes of our fellow
citizens in intelligence and in public and private virtue, leave me
without much apprehension on that head.

I do not doubt that those who come after us will be as much alive as we
are to the obligation upon all the trustees of political power to
exempt those for whom they act from all unnecessary burthens, and as
sensible of the great truth that the resources of the nation beyond
those required for immediate and necessary purposes of Government can
no where be so well deposited as in the pockets of the people.

It may some times happen that the interests of particular States would
not be deemed to coincide with the general interest in relation to
improvements within such States. But if the danger to be apprehended
from this source is sufficient to require it, a discretion might be
reserved to Congress to direct to such improvements of a general
character as the States concerned might not be disposed to unite in,
the application of the quotas of those States, under the restriction of
confining to each State the expenditure of its appropriate quota. It
may, however, be assumed as a safe general rule that such improvements
as serve to increase the prosperity of the respective States in which
they are made, by giving new facilities to trade, and thereby
augmenting the wealth and comfort of their inhabitants, constitute the
surest mode of conferring permanent and substantial advantages upon the
whole. The strength as well as the true glory of the Confederacy is
founded on the prosperity and power of the several independent
sovereignties of which it is composed and the certainty with which they
can be brought into successful active cooperation through the agency of
the Federal Government.

It is, more over, within the knowledge of such as are at all conversant
with public affairs that schemes of internal improvement have from time
to time been proposed which, from their extent and seeming
magnificence, were readily regarded as of national concernment, but
which upon fuller consideration and further experience would now be
rejected with great unanimity.

That the plan under consideration would derive important advantages
from its certainty, and that the moneys set apart for these purposes
would be more judiciously applied and economically expended under the
direction of the State legislatures, in which every part of each State
is immediately represented, can not, I think, be doubted. In the new
States particularly, where a comparatively small population is
scattered over an extensive surface, and the representation in Congress
consequently very limited, it is natural to expect that the
appropriations made by the Federal Government would be more likely to
be expended in the vicinity of those numbers through whose immediate
agency they were obtained than if the funds were placed under the
control of the legislature, in which every county of the State has its
own representative. This supposition does not necessarily impugn the
motives of such Congressional representatives, nor is it so intended.
We are all sensible of the bias to which the strongest minds and purest
hearts are, under such circumstances, liable. In respect to the last
objection--its probable effect upon the dignity and independence of
State governments--it appears to me only necessary to state the case as
it is, and as it would be if the measure proposed were adopted, to show
that the operation is most likely to be the very reverse of that which
the objection supposes.

In the one case the State would receive its quota of the national
revenue for domestic use upon a fixed principle as a matter of right,
and from a fund to the creation of which it had itself contributed its
fair proportion. Surely there could be nothing derogatory in that. As
matters now stand the States themselves, in their sovereign character,
are not unfrequently petitioners at the bar of the Federal Legislature
for such allowances out of the National Treasury as it may comport with
their pleasure or sense of duty to bestow upon them. It can not require
argument to prove which of the two courses is most compatible with the
efficiency or respectability of the State governments.

But all these are matters for discussion and dispassionate
consideration. That the desired adjustment would be attended with
difficulty affords no reason why it should not be attempted. The
effective operation of such motives would have prevented the adoption
of the Constitution under which we have so long lived and under the
benign influence of which our beloved country has so signally
prospered. The framers of that sacred instrument had greater
difficulties to overcome, and they did overcome them. The patriotism of
the people, directed by a deep conviction of the importance of the
Union, produced mutual concession and reciprocal forbearance. Strict
right was merged in a spirit of compromise, and the result has
consecrated their disinterested devotion to the general weal. Unless
the American people have degenerated, the same result can be again
effected when ever experience points out the necessity of a resort to
the same means to uphold the fabric which their fathers have reared.

It is beyond the power of man to make a system of government like ours
or any other operate with precise equality upon States situated like
those which compose this Confederacy; nor is inequality always
injustice. Every State can not expect to shape the measures of the
General Government to suit its own particular interests. The causes
which prevent it are seated in the nature of things, and can not be
entirely counteracted by human means. Mutual forbearance becomes,
therefore, a duty obligatory upon all, and we may, I am confident,
count upon a cheerful compliance with this high injunction on the part
of our constituents. It is not to be supposed that they will object to
make such comparatively inconsiderable sacrifices for the preservation
of rights and privileges which other less favored portions of the world
have in vain waded through seas of blood to acquire.

Our course is a safe one if it be but faithfully adhered to.
Acquiescence in the constitutionally expressed will of the majority,
and the exercise of that will in a spirit of moderation, justice, and
brotherly kindness, will constitute a cement which would for ever
preserve our Union. Those who cherish and inculcate sentiments like
these render a most essential service to their country, while those who
seek to weaken their influence are, how ever conscientious and praise
worthy their intentions, in effect its worst enemies.

If the intelligence and influence of the country, instead of laboring
to foment sectional prejudices, to be made subservient to party
warfare, were in good faith applied to the eradication of causes of
local discontent, by the improvement of our institutions and by
facilitating their adaptation to the condition of the times, this task
would prove one of less difficulty. May we not hope that the obvious
interests of our common country and the dictates of an enlightened
patriotism will in the end lead the public mind in that direction?

After all, the nature of the subject does not admit of a plan wholly
free from objection. That which has for some time been in operation is,
perhaps, the worst that could exist, and every advance that can be made
in its improvement is a matter eminently worthy of your most deliberate

It is very possible that one better calculated to effect the objects in
view may yet be devised. If so, it is to be hoped that those who
disapprove the past and dissent from what is proposed for the future
will feel it their duty to direct their attention to it, as they must
be sensible that unless some fixed rule for the action of the Federal
Government in this respect is established the course now attempted to
be arrested will be again resorted to. Any mode which is calculated to
give the greatest degree of effect and harmony to our legislation upon
the subject, which shall best serve to keep the movements of the
Federal Government within the sphere intended by those who modeled and
those who adopted it, which shall lead to the extinguishment of the
national debt in the shortest period and impose the lightest burthens
upon our constituents, shall receive from me a cordial and firm

Among the objects of great national concern I can not omit to press
again upon your attention that part of the Constitution which regulates
the election of President and Vice-President. The necessity for its
amendment is made so clear to my mind by observation of its evils and
by the many able discussions which they have elicited on the floor of
Congress and elsewhere that I should be wanting to my duty were I to
withhold another expression of my deep solicitude on the subject. Our
system fortunately contemplates a recurrence to first principles,
differing in this respect from all that have preceded it, and securing
it, I trust, equally against the decay and the commotions which have
marked the progress of other governments.

Our fellow citizens, too, who in proportion to their love of liberty
keep a steady eye upon the means of sustaining it, do not require to be
reminded of the duty they owe to themselves to remedy all essential
defects in so vital a part of their system. While they are sensible
that every evil attendant upon its operation is not necessarily
indicative of a bad organization, but may proceed from temporary
causes, yet the habitual presence, or even a single instance, of evils
which can be clearly traced to an organic defect will not, I trust, be
over-looked through a too scrupulous veneration for the work of their

The Constitution was an experiment committed to the virtue and
intelligence of the great mass of our country-men, in whose ranks the
framers of it themselves were to perform the part of patriotic
observation and scrutiny, and if they have passed from the stage of
existence with an increased confidence in its general adaptation to our
condition we should learn from authority so high the duty of fortifying
the points in it which time proves to be exposed rather than be
deterred from approaching them by the suggestions of fear or the
dictates of misplaced reverence.

A provision which does not secure to the people a direct choice of
their Chief Magistrate, but has a tendency to defeat their will,
presented to my mind such an inconsistence with the general spirit of
our institutions that I was indeed to suggest for your consideration
the substitute which appeared to me at the same time the most likely to
correct the evil and to meet the views of our constituents. The most
mature reflection since has added strength to the belief that the best
interests of our country require the speedy adoption of some plan
calculated to effect this end. A contingency which some times places it
in the power of a single member of the House of Representatives to
decide an election of so high and solemn a character is unjust to the
people, and becomes when it occurs a source of embarrassment to the
individuals thus brought into power and a cause of distrust of the
representative body.

Liable as the Confederacy is, from its great extent, to parties founded
upon sectional interests, and to a corresponding multiplication of
candidates for the Presidency, the tendency of the constitutional
reference to the House of Representatives is to devolve the election
upon that body in almost every instance, and, what ever choice may then
be made among the candidates thus presented to them, to swell the
influence of particular interests to a degree inconsistent with the
general good. The consequences of this feature of the Constitution
appear far more threatening to the peace and integrity of the Union
than any which I can conceive as likely to result from the simple
legislative action of the Federal Government.

It was a leading object with the framers of the Constitution to keep as
separate as possible the action of the legislative and executive
branches of the Government. To secure this object nothing is more
essential than to preserve the former from all temptations of private
interest, and therefore so to direct the patronage of the latter as not
to permit such temptations to be offered. Experience abundantly
demonstrates that every precaution in this respect is a valuable
safe-guard of liberty, and one which my reflections upon the tendencies
of our system incline me to think should be made still stronger.

It was for this reason that, in connection with an amendment of the
Constitution removing all intermediate agency in the choice of the
President, I recommended some restrictions upon the re-eligibility of
that officer and upon the tenure of offices generally. The reason still
exists, and I renew the recommendation with an increased confidence
that its adoption will strengthen those checks by which the
Constitution designed to secure the independence of each department of
the Government and promote the healthful and equitable administration
of all the trusts which it has created.

The agent most likely to contravene this design of the Constitution is
the Chief Magistrate. In order, particularly, that his appointment may
as far as possible be placed beyond the reach of any improper
influences; in order that he may approach the solemn responsibilities
of the highest office in the gift of a free people uncommitted to any
other course than the strict line of constitutional duty, and that the
securities for this independence may be rendered as strong as the
nature of power and the weakness of its possessor will admit, I can not
too earnestly invite your attention to the propriety of promoting such
an amendment of the Constitution as will render him ineligible after
one term of service.

It gives me pleasure to announce to Congress that the benevolent policy
of the Government, steadily pursued for nearly 30 years, in relation to
the removal of the Indians beyond the white settlements is approaching
to a happy consummation. Two important tribes have accepted the
provision made for their removal at the last session of Congress, and
it is believed that their example will induce the remaining tribes also
to seek the same obvious advantages.

The consequences of a speedy removal will be important to the United
States, to individual States, and to the Indians themselves. The
pecuniary advantages which it promises to the Government are the least
of its recommendations. It puts an end to all possible danger of
collision between the authorities of the General and State Governments
on account of the Indians. It will place a dense and civilized
population in large tracts of country now occupied by a few savage
hunters. By opening the whole territory between Tennessee on the north
and Louisiana on the south to the settlement of the whites it will
incalculably strengthen the south west frontier and render the adjacent
States strong enough to repel future invasions without remote aid. It
will relieve the whole State of Mississippi and the western part of
Alabama of Indian occupancy, and enable those States to advance rapidly
in population, wealth, and power. It will separate the Indians from
immediate contact with settlements of whites; free them from the power
of the States; enable them to pursue happiness in their own way and
under their own rude institutions; will retard the progress of decay,
which is lessening their numbers, and perhaps cause them gradually,
under the protection of the Government and through the influence of
good counsels, to cast off their savage habits and become an
interesting, civilized, and Christian community. These consequences,
some of them so certain and the rest so probable, make the complete
execution of the plan sanctioned by Congress at their last session an
object of much solicitude.

Toward the aborigines of the country no one can indulge a more friendly
feeling than myself, or would go further in attempting to reclaim them
from their wandering habits and make them a happy, prosperous people. I
have endeavored to impress upon them my own solemn convictions of the
duties and powers of the General Government in relation to the State
authorities. For the justice of the laws passed by the States within
the scope of their reserved powers they are not responsible to this
Government. As individuals we may entertain and express our opinions of
their acts, but as a Government we have as little right to control them
as we have to prescribe laws for other nations.

With a full understanding of the subject, the Choctaw and the Chickasaw
tribes have with great unanimity determined to avail themselves of the
liberal offers presented by the act of Congress, and have agreed to
remove beyond the Mississippi River. Treaties have been made with them,
which in due season will be submitted for consideration. In negotiating
these treaties they were made to understand their true condition, and
they have preferred maintaining their independence in the Western
forests to submitting to the laws of the States in which they now
reside. These treaties, being probably the last which will ever be made
with them, are characterized by great liberality on the part of the
Government. They give the Indians a liberal sum in consideration of
their removal, and comfortable subsistence on their arrival at their
new homes. If it be their real interest to maintain a separate
existence, they will there be at liberty to do so without the
inconveniences and vexations to which they would unavoidably have been
subject in Alabama and Mississippi.

Humanity has often wept over the fate of the aborigines of this
country, and Philanthropy has been long busily employed in devising
means to avert it, but its progress has never for a moment been
arrested, and one by one have many powerful tribes disappeared from the
earth. To follow to the tomb the last of his race and to tread on the
graves of extinct nations excite melancholy reflections. But true
philanthropy reconciles the mind to these vicissitudes as it does to
the extinction of one generation to make room for another. In the
monuments and fortifications of an unknown people, spread over the
extensive regions of the West, we behold the memorials of a once
powerful race, which was exterminated of has disappeared to make room
for the existing savage tribes. Nor is there any thing in this which,
upon a comprehensive view of the general interests of the human race,
is to be regretted. Philanthropy could not wish to see this continent
restored to the condition in which it was found by our forefathers.
What good man would prefer a country covered with forests and ranged by
a few thousand savages to our extensive Republic, studded with cities,
towns, and prosperous farms, embellished with all the improvements
which art can devise or industry execute, occupied by more than
12,000,000 happy people, and filled with all the blessings of liberty,
civilization, and religion?

The present policy of the Government is but a continuation of the same
progressive change by a milder process. The tribes which occupied the
countries now constituting the Eastern States were annihilated or have
melted away to make room for the whites. The waves of population and
civilization are rolling to the westward, and we now propose to acquire
the countries occupied by the red men of the South and West by a fair
exchange, and, at the expense of the United States, to send them to a
land where their existence may be prolonged and perhaps made perpetual.

Doubtless it will be painful to leave the graves of their fathers; but
what do they more than our ancestors did or than our children are now
doing? To better their condition in an unknown land our forefathers
left all that was dear in earthly objects. Our children by thousands
yearly leave the land of their birth to seek new homes in distant
regions. Does Humanity weep at these painful separations from every
thing, animate and inanimate, with which the young heart has become
entwined? Far from it. It is rather a source of joy that our country
affords scope where our young population may range unconstrained in
body or in mind, developing the power and faculties of man in their
highest perfection.

These remove hundreds and almost thousands of miles at their own
expense, purchase the lands they occupy, and support themselves at
their new homes from the moment of their arrival. Can it be cruel in
this Government when, by events which it can not control, the Indian is
made discontented in his ancient home to purchase his lands, to give
him a new and extensive territory, to pay the expense of his removal,
and support him a year in his new abode? How many thousands of our own
people would gladly embrace the opportunity of removing to the West on
such conditions! If the offers made to the Indians were extended to
them, they would be hailed with gratitude and joy.

And is it supposed that the wandering savage has a stronger attachment
to his home than the settled, civilized Christian? Is it more
afflicting to him to leave the graves of his fathers than it is to our
brothers and children? Rightly considered, the policy of the General
Government toward the red man is not only liberal, but generous. He is
unwilling to submit to the laws of the States and mingle with their
population. To save him from this alternative, or perhaps utter
annihilation, the General Government kindly offers him a new home, and
proposes to pay the whole expense of his removal and settlement.

In the consummation of a policy originating at an early period, and
steadily pursued by every Administration within the present century--so
just to the States and so generous to the Indians--the Executive feels
it has a right to expect the cooperation of Congress and of all good
and disinterested men. The States, moreover, have a right to demand it.
It was substantially a part of the compact which made them members of
our Confederacy. With Georgia there is an express contract; with the
new States an implied one of equal obligation. Why, in authorizing
Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi, and Alabama to form
constitutions and become separate States, did Congress include within
their limits extensive tracts of Indian lands, and, in some instances,
powerful Indian tribes? Was it not understood by both parties that the
power of the States was to be coextensive with their limits, and that
with all convenient dispatch the General Government should extinguish
the Indian title and remove every obstruction to the complete
jurisdiction of the State governments over the soil? Probably not one
of those States would have accepted a separate existence--certainly it
would never have been granted by Congress--had it been understood that
they were to be confined for ever to those small portions of their
nominal territory the Indian title to which had at the time been

It is, therefore, a duty which this Government owes to the new States
to extinguish as soon as possible the Indian title to all lands which
Congress themselves have included within their limits. When this is
done the duties of the General Government in relation to the States and
the Indians within their limits are at an end. The Indians may leave
the State or not, as they choose. The purchase of their lands does not
alter in the least their personal relations with the State government.
No act of the General Government has ever been deemed necessary to give
the States jurisdiction over the persons of the Indians. That they
possess by virtue of their sovereign power within their own limits in
as full a manner before as after the purchase of the Indian lands; nor
can this Government add to or diminish it.

May we not hope, therefore, that all good citizens, and none more
zealously than those who think the Indians oppressed by subjection to
the laws of the States, will unite in attempting to open the eyes of
those children of the forest to their true condition, and by a speedy
removal to relieve them from all the evils, real or imaginary, present
or prospective, with which they may be supposed to be threatened.

Among the numerous causes of congratulation the condition of our impost
revenue deserves special mention, in as much as it promises the means
of extinguishing the public debt sooner than was anticipated, and
furnishes a strong illustration of the practical effects of the present
tariff upon our commercial interests.

The object of the tariff is objected to by some as unconstitutional,
and it is considered by almost all as defective in many of its parts.

The power to impose duties on imports originally belonged to the
several States. The right to adjust those duties with a view to the
encouragement of domestic branches of industry is so completely
incidental to that power that it is difficult to suppose the existence
of the one without the other. The States have delegated their whole
authority over imports to the General Government without limitation or
restriction, saving the very inconsiderable reservation relating to
their inspection laws. This authority having thus entirely passed from
the States, the right to exercise it for the purpose of protection does
not exist in them, and consequently if it be not possessed by the
General Government it must be extinct. Our political system would thus
present the anomaly of a people stripped of the right to foster their
own industry and to counteract the most selfish and destructive policy
which might be adopted by foreign nations. This sure can not be the
case. This indispensable power thus surrendered by the States must be
within the scope of the authority on the subject expressly delegated to

In this conclusion I am confirmed as well by the opinions of Presidents
Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe, who have each repeatedly
recommended the exercise of this right under the Constitution, as by
the uniform practice of Congress, the continued acquiescence of the
States, and the general understanding of the people.

The difficulties of a more expedient adjustment of the present tariff,
although great, are far from being insurmountable. Some are unwilling
to improve any of its parts because they would destroy the whole;
others fear to touch the objectionable parts lest those they approve
should be jeoparded. I am persuaded that the advocates of these
conflicting views do injustice to the American people and to their
representatives. The general interest is the interest of each, and my
confidence is entire that to insure the adoption of such modifications
of the tariff as the general interest requires it is only necessary
that that interest should be understood.

It is an infirmity of our nature to mingle our interests and prejudices
with the operation of our reasoning powers, and attribute to the
objects of our likes and dislikes qualities they do not possess and
effects they can not produce. The effects of the present tariff are
doubtless over-rated, both in its evils and in its advantages. By one
class of reasoners the reduced price of cotton and other agricultural
products is ascribed wholly to its influence, and by another the
reduced price of manufactured articles.

The probability is that neither opinion approaches the truth, and that
both are induced by that influence of interests and prejudices to which
I have referred. The decrease of prices extends throughout the
commercial world, embracing not only the raw material and the
manufactured article, but provisions and lands. The cause must
therefore be deeper and more pervading than the tariff of the United
States. It may in a measure be attributable to the increased value of
the precious metals, produced by a diminution of the supply and an
increase in the demand, while commerce has rapidly extended itself and
population has augmented. The supply of gold and silver, the general
medium of exchange, has been greatly interrupted by civil convulsions
in the countries from which they are principally drawn. A part of the
effect, too, is doubtless owing to an increase of operatives and
improvements in machinery. But on the whole it is questionable whether
the reduction in the price of lands, produce, and manufactures has been
greater than the appreciation of the standard of value.

While the chief object of duties should be revenue, they may be so
adjusted as to encourage manufactures. In this adjustment, however, it
is the duty of the Government to be guided by the general good. Objects
of national importance alone ought to be protected. Of these the
productions of our soil, our mines, and our work shops, essential to
national defense, occupy the first rank. What ever other species of
domestic industry, having the importance to which I have referred, may
be expected, after temporary protection, to compete with foreign labor
on equal terms merit the same attention in a subordinate degree.

The present tariff taxes some of the comforts of life unnecessarily
high; it undertakes to protect interests too local and minute to
justify a general exaction, and it also attempts to force some kinds of
manufactures for which the country is not ripe. Much relief will be
derived in some of these respects from the measures of your last

The best as well as fairest mode of determining whether from any just
considerations a particular interest ought to receive protection would
be to submit the question singly for deliberation. If after
due examination of its merits, unconnected with extraneous
considerations--such as a desire to sustain a general system or to
purchase support for a different interest--it should enlist in its
favor a majority of the representatives of the people, there can be
little danger of wrong or injury in adjusting the tariff with reference
to its protective effect. If this obviously just principle were
honestly adhered to, the branches of industry which deserve protection
would be saved from the prejudice excited against them when that
protection forms part of a system by which portions of the country feel
or conceive themselves to be oppressed. What is incalculably more
important, the vital principle of our system--that principle which
requires acquiescence in the will of the majority--would be secure from
the discredit and danger to which it is exposed by the acts of
majorities founded not on identity of conviction, but on combinations
of small minorities entered into for the purpose of mutual assistance
in measures which, resting solely on their own merits, could never be

I am well aware that this is a subject of so much delicacy, on account
of the extended interests in involves, as to require that it should be
touched with the utmost caution, and that while an abandonment of the
policy in which it originated--a policy coeval with our Government, and
pursued through successive Administrations--is neither to be expected
or desired, the people have a right to demand, and have demanded, that
it be so modified as to correct abuses and obviate injustice.

That our deliberations on this interesting subject should be
uninfluenced by those partisan conflicts that are incident to free
institutions is the fervent wish of my heart. To make this great
question, which unhappily so much divides and excites the public mind,
subservient to the short-sighted views of faction, must destroy all
hope of settling it satisfactorily to the great body of the people and
for the general interest. I can not, therefore, in taking leave of the
subject, too earnestly for my own feelings or the common good warn you
against the blighting consequences of such a course.

According to the estimates at the Treasury Department, the receipts in
the Treasury during the present year will amount to $24,161,018, which
will exceed by about $300,000 the estimate presented in the last annual
report of the Secretary of the Treasury. The total expenditure during
the year, exclusive of public debt, is estimated at $13,742,311, and
the payment on account of public debt for the same period will have
been $11,354,630, leaving a balance in the Treasury on January 1st,
1831 of $4,819,781.

In connection with the condition of our finances, it affords me
pleasure to remark that judicious and efficient arrangements have been
made by the Treasury Department for securing the pecuniary
responsibility of the public officers and the more punctual payment of
the public dues. The Revenue Cutter Service has been organized and
placed on a good footing, and aided by an increase of inspectors at
exposed points, and regulations adopted under the act of May, 1830, for
the inspection and appraisement of merchandise, has produced much
improvement in the execution of the laws and more security against the
commission of frauds upon the revenue. Abuses in the allowances for
fishing bounties have also been corrected, and a material saving in
that branch of the service thereby effected. In addition to these
improvements the system of expenditure for sick sea men belonging to
the merchant service has been revised, and being rendered uniform and
economical the benefits of the fund applicable to this object have been
usefully extended.

The prosperity of our country is also further evinced by the increased
revenue arising from the sale of public lands, as will appear from the
report of the Commissioner of the General Land Office and the documents
accompanying it, which are herewith transmitted. I beg leave to draw
your attention to this report, and to the propriety of making early
appropriations for the objects which it specifies.

Your attention is again invited to the subjects connected with that
portion of the public interests intrusted to the War Department. Some
of them were referred to in my former message, and they are presented
in detail in the report of the Secretary of War herewith submitted. I
refer you also to the report of that officer for a knowledge of the
state of the Army, fortifications, arsenals, and Indian affairs, all of
which it will be perceived have been guarded with zealous attention and
care. It is worthy of your consideration whether the armaments
necessary for the fortifications on our maritime frontier which are now
or shortly will be completed should not be in readiness sooner than the
customary appropriations will enable the Department to provide them.
This precaution seems to be due to the general system of fortification
which has been sanctioned by Congress, and is recommended by that maxim
of wisdom which tells us in peace to prepare for war.

I refer you to the report of the Secretary of the Navy for a highly
satisfactory account of the manner in which the concerns of that
Department have been conducted during the present year. Our position in
relation to the most powerful nations of the earth, and the present
condition of Europe, admonish us to cherish this arm of our national
defense with peculiar care. Separated by wide seas from all those
Governments whose power we might have reason to dread, we have nothing
to apprehend from attempts at conquest. It is chiefly attacks upon our
commerce and harrassing in-roads upon our coast against which we have
to guard. A naval force adequate to the protection of our commerce,
always afloat, with an accumulation of the means to give it a rapid
extension in case of need, furnishes the power by which all such
aggressions may be prevented or repelled. The attention of the
Government has therefore been recently directed more to preserving the
public vessels already built and providing materials to be placed in
depot for future use than to increasing their number. With the aid of
Congress, in a few years the Government will be prepared in case of
emergency to put afloat a powerful navy of new ships almost as soon as
old ones could be repaired.

The modifications in this part of the service suggested in my last
annual message, which are noticed more in detail in the report of the
Secretary of the Navy, are again recommended to your serious attention.

The report of the Post Master General in like manner exhibits a
satisfactory view of the important branch of the Government under his
charge. In addition to the benefits already secured by the operations
of the Post Office Department, considerable improvements within the
present year have been made by an increase in the accommodation
afforded by stage coaches, and in the frequency and celerity of the
mail between some of the most important points of the Union.

Under the late contracts improvements have been provided for the
southern section of the country, and at the same time an annual saving
made of upward of $72,000. Not with standing the excess of expenditure
beyond the current receipts for a few years past, necessarily incurred
in the fulfillment of existing contracts and in the additional expenses
between the periods of contracting to meet the demands created by the
rapid growth and extension of our flourishing country, yet the
satisfactory assurance is given that the future revenue of the
Department will be sufficient to meets its extensive engagements. The
system recently introduced that subjects its receipts and disbursements
to strict regulation has entirely fulfilled its designs. It gives full
assurance of the punctual transmission, as well as the security of the
funds of the Department. The efficiency and industry of its officers
and the ability and energy of contractors justify an increased
confidence in its continued prosperity.

The attention of Congress was called on a former occasion to the
necessity of such a modification in the office of Attorney General of
the United States as would render it more adequate to the wants of the
public service. This resulted in the establishment of the office of
Solicitor of the Treasury, and the earliest measures were taken to give
effect to the provisions of the law which authorized the appointment of
that officer and defined his duties. But it is not believed that this
provision, however useful in itself, is calculated to supersede the
necessity of extending the duties and powers of the Attorney General's
Office. On the contrary, I am convinced that the public interest would
be greatly promoted by giving to that officer the general
superintendence of the various law agents of the Government, and of all
law proceedings, whether civil or criminal, in which the United States
may be interested, allowing him at the same time such compensation as
would enable him to devote his undivided attention to the public
business. I think such a provision is alike due to the public and to
the officer.

Occasions of reference from the different Executive Departments to the
Attorney General are of frequent occurrence, and the prompt decision of
the questions so referred tends much to facilitate the dispatch of
business in those Departments. The report of the Secretary of the
Treasury hereto appended shows also a branch of the public service not
specifically intrusted to any officer which might be advantageously
committed to the Attorney General. But independently of those
considerations this office is now one of daily duty. It was originally
organized and its compensation fixed with a view to occasional service,
leaving to the incumbent time for the exercise of his profession in
private practice. The state of things which warranted such an
organization no longer exists. The frequent claims upon the services of
this officer would render his absence from the seat of Government in
professional attendance upon the courts injurious to the public
service, and the interests of the Government could not fail to be
promoted by charging him with the general superintendence of all its
legal concerns.

Under a strong conviction of the justness of these suggestions, I
recommend it to Congress to make the necessary provisions for giving
effect to them, and to place the Attorney General in regard to
compensation on the same footing with the heads of the several
Executive Departments. To this officer might also be intrusted a
cognizance of the cases of insolvency in public debtors, especially if
the views which I submitted on this subject last year should meet the
approbation of Congress--to which I again solicit your attention.

Your attention is respectfully invited to the situation of the District
of Columbia. Placed by the Constitution under the exclusive
jurisdiction and control of Congress, this District is certainly
entitled to a much greater share of its consideration than it has yet
received. There is a want of uniformity in its laws, particularly in
those of a penal character, which increases the expense of their
administration and subjects the people to all the inconveniences which
result from the operation of different codes in so small a territory.
On different sides of the Potomac the same offense is punishable in
unequal degrees, and the peculiarities of many of the early laws of
Maryland and Virginia remain in force, not with standing their
repugnance in some cases to the improvements which have superseded them
in those States.

Besides a remedy for these evils, which is loudly called for, it is
respectfully submitted whether a provision authorizing the election of
a delegate to represent the wants of the citizens of this District on
the floor of Congress is not due to them and to the character of our
Government. No principles of freedom, and there is none more important
than that which cultivates a proper relation between the governors and
the governed. Imperfect as this must be in this case, yet it is
believed that it would be greatly improved by a representation in
Congress with the same privileges that are allowed to the other
Territories of the United States.

The penitentiary is ready for the reception of convicts, and only
awaits the necessary legislation to put it into operation, as one
object of which I beg leave to recall your attention to the propriety
of providing suitable compensation for the officers charged with its

The importance of the principles involved in the inquiry whether it
will be proper to recharter the Bank of the United States requires that
I should again call the attention of Congress to the subject. Nothing
has occurred to lessen in any degree the dangers which many of our
citizens apprehend from that institution as at present organized. In
the spirit of improvement and compromise which distinguishes our
country and its institutions it becomes us to inquire whether it be not
possible to secure the advantages afforded by the present bank through
the agency of a Bank of the United States so modified in its principles
and structures as to obviate constitutional and other objections.

It is thought practicable to organize such a bank with the necessary
officers as a branch of the Treasury Department, based on the public
and individual deposits, without power to make loans or purchase
property, which shall remit the funds of the Government, and the
expense of which may be paid, if thought advisable, by allowing its
officers to sell bills of exchange to private individuals at a moderate
premium. Not being a corporate body, having no stock holders, debtors,
or property, and but few officers, it would not be obnoxious to the
constitutional objections which are urged against the present bank; and
having no means to operate on the hopes, fears, or interests of large
masses of the community, it would be shorn of the influence which makes
that bank formidable. The States would be strengthened by having in
their hands the means of furnishing the local paper currency through
their own banks, while the Bank of the United States, though issuing no
paper, would check the issues of the State banks by taking their notes
in deposit and for exchange only so long as they continue to be
redeemed with specie. In times of public emergency the capacities of
such an institution might be enlarged by legislative provisions.

These suggestions are made not so much as a recommendation as with a
view of calling the attention of Congress to the possible modifications
of a system which can not continue to exist in its present form without
occasional collisions with the local authorities and perpetual
apprehensions and discontent on the part of the States and the people.

In conclusion, fellow citizens, allow me to invoke in behalf of your
deliberations that spirit of conciliation and disinterestedness which
is the gift of patriotism. Under an over-ruling and merciful Providence
the agency of this spirit has thus far been signalized in the
prosperity and glory of our beloved country. May its influence be


State of the Union Address
Andrew Jackson
December 6, 1831

Fellow Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

The representation of the people has been renewed for the 22nd time
since the Constitution they formed has been in force. For near half a
century the Chief Magistrates who have been successively chosen have
made their annual communications of the state of the nation to its
representatives. Generally these communications have been of the most
gratifying nature, testifying an advance in all the improvements of
social and all the securities of political life. But frequently and
justly as you have been called on to be grateful for the bounties of
Providence, at few periods have they been more abundantly or
extensively bestowed than at the present; rarely, if ever, have we had
greater reason to congratulate each other on the continued and
increasing prosperity of our beloved country.

Agriculture, the first and most important occupation of man, has
compensated the labors of the husband-man with plentiful crops of all
the varied products of our extensive country. Manufactures have been
established in which the funds of the capitalist find a profitable
investment, and which give employment and subsistence to a numerous and
increasing body of industrious and dexterous mechanics. The laborer is
rewarded by high wages in the construction of works of internal
improvement, which are extending with unprecedented rapidity. Science
is steadily penetrating the recesses of nature and disclosing her
secrets, while the ingenuity of free minds is subjecting the elements
to the power of man and making each new conquest auxiliary to his
comfort. By our mails, whose speed is regularly increased and whose
routes are every year extended, the communication of public
intelligence and private business is rendered frequent and safe; the
intercourse between distant cities, which it formerly required weeks to
accomplish, is now effected in a few days; and in the construction of
rail roads and the application of steam power we have a reasonable
prospect that the extreme parts of our country will be so much
approximated and those most isolated by the obstacles of nature
rendered so accessible as to remove an apprehension some times
entertained that the great extent of the Union would endanger its
permanent existence.

If from the satisfactory view of our agriculture, manufactures, and
internal improvements we turn to the state of our navigation and trade
with foreign nations and between the States, we shall scarcely find
less cause for gratulation. A beneficent Providence has provided for
their exercise and encouragement an extensive coast, indented by
capacious bays, noble rivers, inland seas; with a country productive of
every material for ship building and every commodity for gainful
commerce, and filled with a population active, intelligent,
well-informed, and fearless of danger. These advantages are not
neglected, and an impulse has lately been given to commercial
enterprise, which fills our ship yards with new constructions,
encourages all the arts and branches of industry connected with them,
crowds the wharves of our cities with vessels, and covers the most
distant seas with our canvas.

Let us be grateful for these blessings to the beneficent Being who has
conferred them, and who suffers us to indulge a reasonable hope of
their continuance and extension, while we neglect not the means by
which they may be preserved. If we may dare to judge of His future
designs by the manner in which His past favors have been bestowed, He
has made our national prosperity to depend on the preservation of our
liberties, our national force on our Federal Union, and our individual
happiness on the maintenance of our State rights and wise institutions.
If we are prosperous at home and respected abroad, it is because we are
free, united, industrious, and obedient to the laws. While we continue
so we shall by the blessing of Heaven go on in the happy career we have
begun, and which has brought us in the short period of our political
existence from a population of 3,000,000 to 13,000,000; from 13
separate colonies to 24 united States; from weakness to strength; from
a rank scarcely marked in the scale of nations to a high place in their

This last advantage is one that has resulted in a great degree from the
principles which have guided our intercourse with foreign powers since
we have assumed an equal station among them, and hence the annual
account which the Executive renders to the country of the manner in
which that branch of his duties has been fulfilled proves instructive
and salutary.

The pacific and wise policy of our Government kept us in a state of
neutrality during the wars that have at different periods since our
political existence been carried on by other powers; but this policy,
while it gave activity and extent to our commerce, exposed it in the
same proportion to injuries from the belligerent nations. Hence have
arisen claims of indemnity for those injuries. England, France, Spain,
Holland, Sweden, Denmark, Naples, and lately Portugal had all in a
greater or less degree infringed our neutral rights. Demands for
reparation were made upon all. They have had in all, and continue to
have in some, cases a leading influence on the nature of our relations
with the powers on whom they were made.

Of the claims upon England it is unnecessary to speak further than to
say that the state of things to which their prosecution and denial gave
rise has been succeeded by arrangements productive of mutual good
feeling and amicable relations between the two countries, which it is
hoped will not be interrupted. One of these arrangements is that
relating to the colonial trade which was communicated to Congress at
the last session; and although the short period during which it has
been in force will not enable me to form an accurate judgment of its
operation, there is every reason to believe that it will prove highly
beneficial. The trade thereby authorized has employed to September
30th, 1831 upward of 30 thousand tons of American and 15 thousand tons
of foreign shipping in the outward voyages, and in the inward nearly an
equal amount of American and 20 thousand only of foreign tonnage.
Advantages, too, have resulted to our agricultural interests from the
state of the trade between Canada and our Territories and States
bordering or the St. Lawrence and the Lakes which may prove more than
equivalent to the loss sustained by the discrimination made to favor
the trade of the northern colonies with the West Indies.

After our transition from the state of colonies to that of an
independent nation many points were found necessary to be settled
between us and Great Britain. Among them was the demarcation of
boundaries not described with sufficient precision in the treaty of
peace. Some of the lines that divide the States and Territories of the
United States from the British Provinces have been definitively fixed.

That, however, which separates us from the Provinces of Canada and New
Brunswick to the North and the East was still in dispute when I came
into office, but I found arrangements made for its settlement over
which I had no control. The commissioners who had been appointed under
the provisions of the treaty of Ghent having been unable to agree, a
convention was made with Great Britain by my immediate predecessor in
office, with the advice and consent of the Senate, by which it was
agreed "that the points of difference which have arisen in the
settlement of the boundary line between the American and British
dominions, as described in the 5th article of the treaty of Ghent,
shall be referred, as therein provided, to some friendly sovereign or
State, who shall be invited to investigate and make a decision upon
such points of difference"; and the King of the Netherlands having by
the late President and His Britannic Majesty been designated as such
friendly sovereign, it became my duty to carry with good faith the
agreement so made into full effect. To this end I caused all the
measures to be taken which were necessary to a full exposition of our
case to the sovereign arbiter, and nominated as minister
plenipotentiary to his Court a distinguished citizen of the State most
interested in the question, and who had been one of the agents
previously employed for settling the controversy.

On January 10th, 1831 His Majesty the King of the Netherlands delivered
to the plenipotentiaries of the United States and of Great Britain his
written opinion on the case referred to him. The papers in relation to
the subject will be communicated by a special message to the proper
branch of the Government with the perfect confidence that its wisdom
will adopt such measures as will secure an amicable settlement of the
controversy without infringing any constitutional right of the States
immediately interested.

It affords me satisfaction to inform you that suggestions made by my
direction to the charge d'affaires of His Britannic Majesty to this
Government have had their desired effect in producing the release of
certain American citizens who were imprisoned for setting up the
authority of the State of Maine at a place in the disputed territory
under the actual jurisdiction of His Britannic Majesty. From this and
the assurances I have received of the desire of the local authorities
to avoid any cause of collision I have the best hopes that a good
understanding will be kept up until it is confirmed by the final
disposition of the subject.

The amicable relations which now subsist between the United States and
Great Britain, the increasing intercourse between their citizens, and
the rapid obliteration of unfriendly prejudices to which former events
naturally gave rise concurred to present this as a fit period for
renewing our endeavors to provide against the recurrence of causes of
irritation which in the event of war between Great Britain and any
other power would inevitably endanger our peace. Animated by the
sincerest desire to avoid such a state of things, and peacefully to
secure under all possible circumstances the rights and honor of the
country, I have given such instructions to the minister lately sent to
the Court of London as will evince that desire, and if met by a
correspondent disposition, which we can not doubt, will put an end to
causes of collision which, without advantage to either, tend to
estrange from each other two nations who have every motive to preserve
not only peace, but an intercourse of the most amicable nature.

In my message at the opening of the last session of Congress I
expressed a confident hope that the justice of our claims upon France,
urged as they were with perseverance and signal ability by our minister
there, would finally be acknowledged. This hope has been realized. A
treaty has been signed which will immediately be laid before the Senate
for its approbation, and which, containing stipulations that require
legislative acts, must have the concurrence of both houses before it
can be carried into effect.

By it the French Government engage to pay a sum which, if not quite
equal to that which may be found due to our citizens, will yet, it is
believed, under all circumstances, be deemed satisfactory by those
interested. The offer of a gross sum instead of the satisfaction of
each individual claim was accepted because the only alternatives were a
rigorous exaction of the whole amount stated to be due on each claim,
which might in some instances be exaggerated by design, in other
over-rated through error, and which, therefore, it would have been both
ungracious and unjust to have insisted on; or a settlement by a mixed
commission, to which the French negotiators were very averse, and which
experience in other cases had shewn to be dilatory and often wholly
inadequate to the end.

A comparatively small sum is stipulated on our part to go to the
extinction of all claims by French citizens on our Government, and a
reduction of duties on our cotton and their wines has been agreed on as
a consideration for the renunciation of an important claim for
commercial privileges under the construction they gave to the treaty
for the cession of Louisiana.

Should this treaty receive the proper sanction, a source of irritation
will be stopped that has for so many years in some degree alienated
from each other two nations who, from interest as well as the
remembrance of early associations, ought to cherish the most friendly
relations; an encouragement will be given for perseverance in the
demands of justice by this new proof that if steadily pursued they will
be listened to, and admonition will be offered to those powers, if any,
which may be inclined to evade them that they will never be abandoned;
above all, a just confidence will be inspired in our fellow citizens
that their Government will exert all the powers with which they have
invested it in support of their just claims upon foreign nations; at
the same time that the frank acknowledgment and provision for the
payment of those which were addressed to our equity, although
unsupported by legal proof, affords a practical illustration of our
submission to the divine rule of doing to others what we desire they
should do unto us.

Sweden and Denmark having made compensation for the irregularities
committed by their vessels or in their ports to the perfect
satisfaction of the parties concerned, and having renewed the treaties
of commerce entered into with them, our political and commercial
relations with those powers continue to be on the most friendly

With Spain our differences up to February 22d, 1819 were settled by the
treaty of Washington of that date, but at a subsequent period our
commerce with the States formerly colonies of Spain on the continent of
America was annoyed and frequently interrupted by her public and
private armed ships. They captured many of our vessels prosecuting a
lawful commerce and sold them and their cargoes, and at one time to our
demands for restoration and indemnity opposed the allegation that they
were taken in the violation of a blockade of all the ports of those
States. This blockade was declaratory only, and the inadequacy of the
force to maintain it was so manifest that this allegation was varied to
a charge of trade in contraband of war. This, in its turn, was also
found untenable, and the minister whom I sent with instructions to
press for the reparation that was due to our injured fellow citizens
has transmitted an answer to his demand by which the captures are
declared to have been legal, and are justified because the independence
of the States of America never having been acknowledged by Spain she
had a right to prohibit trade with them under her old colonial laws.
This ground of defense was contradictory, not only to those which had
been formerly alleged, but to the uniform practice and established laws
of nations, and had been abandoned by Spain herself in the convention
which granted indemnity to British subjects for captures made at the
same time, under the same circumstances, and for the same allegations
with those of which we complain.

I, however, indulge the hope that further reflection will lead to other
views, and feel confident that when His Catholic Majesty shall be
convinced of the justice of the claims his desire to preserve friendly
relations between the two countries, which it is my earnest endeavor to
maintain, will induce him to accede to our demand. I have therefore
dispatched a special messenger with instructions to our minister to
bring the case once more to his consideration, to the end that if
(which I can not bring myself to believe) the same decision (that can
not but be deemed an unfriendly denial of justice) should be persisted
in the matter may before your adjournment be laid before you, the
constitutional judges of what is proper to be done when negotiation for
redress of injury fails.

The conclusion of a treaty for indemnity with France seemed to present
a favorable opportunity to renew our claims of a similar nature on
other powers, and particularly in the case of those upon Naples, more
especially as in the course of former negotiations with that power our
failure to induce France to render us justice was used as an argument
against us. The desires of the merchants, who were the principal
sufferers, have therefore been acceded to, and a mission has been
instituted for the special purpose of obtaining for them a reparation
already too long delayed. This measure having been resolved on, it was
put in execution without waiting for the meeting of Congress, because
the state of Europe created an apprehension of events that might have
rendered our application ineffectual.

Our demands upon the Government of the two Sicilies are of a peculiar
nature. The injuries on which they are founded are not denied, nor are
the atrocity and perfidy under which those injuries were perpetrated
attempted to be extenuated. The sole ground on which indemnity has been
refused is the alleged illegality of the tenure by which the monarch
who made the seizures held his crown. This defense, always unfounded in
any principle of the law of nations, now universally abandoned, even by
those powers upon whom the responsibility for the acts of past rulers
bore the most heavily, will unquestionably be given up by His Sicilian
Majesty, whose counsels will receive an impulse from that high sense of
honor and regard to justice which are said to characterize him; and I
feel the fullest confidence that the talents of the citizen
commissioned for that purpose will place before him the just claims of
our injured citizens in such as light as will enable me before your
adjournment to announce that they have been adjusted and secured.
Precise instructions to the effect of bringing the negotiation to a
speedy issue have been given, and will be obeyed.

In the late blockade of Terceira some of the Portuguese fleet captured
several of our vessels and committed other excesses, for which
reparation was demanded, and I was on the point of dispatching an armed
force to prevent any recurrence of a similar violence and protect our
citizens in the prosecution of their lawful commerce when official
assurances, on which I relied, made the sailing of the ships
unnecessary. Since that period frequent promises have been made that
full indemnity shall be given for the injuries inflicted and the losses
sustained. In the performance there has been some, perhaps unavoidable,
delay; but I have the fullest confidence that my earnest desire that
this business may at once be closed, which our minister has been
instructed strongly to express, will very soon be gratified. I have the
better ground for this hope from the evidence of a friendly disposition
which that Government has shown an actual reduction in the duty on rice
the produce of our Southern States, authorizing the anticipation that
this important article of our export will soon be admitted on the same
footing with that produced by the most favored nation.

With the other powers of Europe we have fortunately had no cause of
discussions for the redress of injuries. With the Empire of the Russias
our political connection is of the most friendly and our commercial of
the most liberal kind. We enjoy the advantages of navigation and trade
given to the most favored nation, but it has not yet suited their
policy, or perhaps has not been found convenient from other
considerations, to give stability and reciprocity to those privileges
by a commercial treaty. The ill health of the minister last year
charged with making a proposition for that arrangement did not permit
him to remain at St. Petersburg, and the attention of that Government
during the whole of the period since his departure having been occupied
by the war in which it was engaged, we have been assured that nothing
could have been effected by his presence. A minister will soon be
nominated, as well to effect this important object as to keep up the
relations of amity and good understanding of which we have received so
many assurances and proofs from His Imperial Majesty and the Emperor
his predecessor.

The treaty with Austria is opening to us an important trade with the
hereditary dominions of the Emperor, the value of which has been
hitherto little known, and of course not sufficiently appreciated.
While our commerce finds an entrance into the south of Germany by means
of this treaty, those we have formed with the Hanseatic towns and
Prussia and others now in negotiation will open that vast country to
the enterprising spirit of our merchants on the north--a country
abounding in all the materials for a mutually beneficial commerce,
filled with enlightened and industrious inhabitants, holding an
important place in the politics of Europe, and to which we owe so many
valuable citizens. The ratification of the treaty with the Porte was
sent to be exchanged by the gentleman appointed our charge d'affaires
to that Court. Some difficulties occurred on his arrival, but at the
date of his last official dispatch he supposed they had been obviated
and that there was every prospect of the exchange being speedily

This finishes the connected view I have thought it proper to give of
our political and commercial relations in Europe. Every effort in my
power will be continued to strengthen and extend them by treaties
founded on principles of the most perfect reciprocity of interest,
neither asking nor conceding any exclusive advantage, but liberating as
far as it lies in my power the activity and industry of our fellow
citizens from the shackles which foreign restrictions may impose.

To China and the East Indies our commerce continues in its usual
extent, and with increased facilities which the credit and capital of
our merchants afford by substituting bills for payments in specie. A
daring outrage having been committed in those seas by the plunder of
one of our merchant-men engaged in the pepper trade at a port in
Sumatra, and the piratical perpetrators belonging to tribes in such a
state of society that the usual course of proceedings between civilized
nations could not be pursued, I forthwith dispatched a frigate with
orders to require immediate satisfaction for the injury and indemnity
to the sufferers.

Few changes have taken place in our connections with the independent
States of America since my last communication to Congress. The
ratification of a commercial treaty with the United Republics of Mexico
has been for some time under deliberation in their Congress, but was
still undecided at the date of our last dispatches. The unhappy civil
commotions that have prevailed there were undoubtedly the cause of the
delay, but as the Government is now said to be tranquillized we may
hope soon to receive the ratification of the treaty and an arrangement
for the demarcation of the boundaries between us. In the mean time, an
important trade has been opened with mutual benefit from St. Louis, in
the State of Missouri, by caravans to the interior Provinces of Mexico.
This commerce is protected in its progress through the Indian countries
by the troops of the United States, which have been permitted to escort
the caravans beyond our boundaries to the settled part of the Mexican

From Central America I have received assurances of the most friendly
kind and a gratifying application for our good offices to remove a
supposed indisposition toward that Government in a neighboring State.
This application was immediately and successfully complied with. They
gave us also the pleasing intelligence that differences which had
prevailed in their internal affairs had been peaceably adjusted. Our
treaty with this Republic continues to be faithfully observed, and
promises a great and beneficial commerce between the two countries--a
commerce of the greatest importance if the magnificent project of a
ship canal through the dominions of that State from the Atlantic to the
Pacific Ocean, now in serious contemplation, shall be executed.

I have great satisfaction in communicating the success which has
attended the exertions of our minister in Colombia to procure a very
considerable reduction in the duties on our flour in that Republic.
Indemnity also has been stipulated for injuries received by our
merchants from illegal seizures, and renewed assurances are given that
the treaty between the two countries shall be faithfully observed.

Chili and Peru seem to be still threatened with civil commotions, and
until they shall be settled disorders may naturally be apprehended,
requiring the constant presence of a naval force in the Pacific Ocean
to protect our fisheries and guard our commerce.

The disturbances that took place in the Empire of Brazil previously to
and immediately consequent upon the abdication of the late Emperor
necessarily suspended any effectual application for the redress of some
past injuries suffered by our citizens from that Government, while they
have been the cause of others, in which all foreigners seem to have
participated. Instructions have been given to our minister there to
press for indemnity due for losses occasioned by these irregularities,
and to take care of our fellow citizens shall enjoy all the privileges
stipulated in their favor by the treaty lately made between the two
powers, all which the good intelligence that prevails between our
minister at Rio Janeiro and the Regency gives us the best reason to

I should have placed Buenos Ayres in the list of South American powers
in respect to which nothing of importance affecting us was to be
communicated but for occurrences which have lately taken place at the
Falkland Islands, in which the name of that Republic has been used to
cover with a show of authority acts injurious to our commerce and to
the property and liberty of our fellow citizens. In the course of the
present year one of our vessels, engaged in the pursuit of a trade
which we have always enjoyed without molestation, has been captured by
a band acting, as they pretend, under the authority of the Government
of Buenos Ayres. I have therefore given orders for the dispatch of an
armed vessel to join our squadron in those seas and aid in affording
all lawful protection to our trade which shall be necessary, and shall
without delay send a minister to inquire into the nature of the
circumstances and also of the claim, if any, that is set up by that
Government to those islands. In the mean time, I submit the case to the
consideration of Congress, to the end that they may clothe the
Executive with such authority and means as they may deem necessary for
providing a force adequate to the complete protection of our fellow
citizens fishing and trading in those seas.

This rapid sketch of our foreign relations, it is hoped, fellow
citizens, may be of some use in so much of your legislation as may bear
on that important subject, while it affords to the country at large a
source of high gratification in the contemplation of our political and
commercial connection with the rest of the world. At peace with all;
having subjects of future difference with few, and those susceptible of
easy adjustment; extending our commerce gradually on all sides and on
none by any but the most liberal and mutually beneficial means, we may,
by the blessing of Providence, hope for all that national prosperity
which can be derived from an intercourse with foreign nations, guided
by those eternal principles of justice and reciprocal good will which
are binding as well upon States as the individuals of whom they are

I have great satisfaction in making this statement of our affairs,
because the course of our national policy enables me to do it without
any indiscreet exposure of what in other governments is usually
concealed from the people. Having none but a straight-forward, open
course to pursue, guided by a single principle that will bear the
strongest light, we have happily no political combinations to form, no
alliances to entangle us, no complicated interests to consult, and in
subjecting all we have done to the consideration of our citizens and to
the inspection of the world we give no advantage to other nations and
lay ourselves open to no injury.

It may not be improper to add that to preserve this state of things and
give confidence to the world in the integrity of our designs all our
consular and diplomatic agents are strictly enjoined to examine well
every cause of complaint preferred by our citizens, and while they urge
with proper earnestness those that are well founded, to countenance
none that are unreasonable or unjust, and to enjoin on our merchants
and navigators the strictest obedience to the laws of the countries to
which they resort, and a course of conduct in their dealings that may
support the character of our nation and render us respected abroad.

Connected with this subject, I must recommend a revisal of our consular
laws. Defects and omissions have been discovered in their operation
that ought to be remedied and supplied. For your further information on
this subject I have directed a report to be made by the Secretary of
State, which I shall hereafter submit to your consideration.

The internal peace and security of our confederated States is the next
principal object of the General Government. Time and experience have
proved that the abode of the native Indian within their limits is
dangerous to their peace and injurious to himself. In accordance with
my recommendation at a former session of Congress, an appropriation of
$500 thousand was made to aid the voluntary removal of the various
tribes beyond the limits of the States. At the last session I had the
happiness to announce that the Chickasaws and Choctaws had accepted the
generous offer of the Government and agreed to remove beyond the
Mississippi River, by which the whole of the State of Mississippi and
the western part of Alabama will be freed from Indian occupancy and
opened to a civilized population. The treaties with these tribes are in
a course of execution, and their removal, it is hoped, will be
completed in the course of 1832.

At the request of the authorities of Georgia the registration of
Cherokee Indians for emigration has been resumed, and it is confidently
expected that half, if not two-third, of that tribe will follow the
wise example of their more westerly brethren. Those who prefer
remaining at their present homes will hereafter be governed by the laws
of Georgia, as all her citizens are, and cease to be the objects of
peculiar care on the part of the General Government.

During the present year the attention of the Government has been
particularly directed to those tribes in the powerful and growing State
of Ohio, where considerable tracts of the finest lands were still
occupied by the aboriginal proprietors. Treaties, either absolute or
conditional, have been made extinguishing the whole Indian title to the
reservations in that State, and the time is not distant, it is hoped,
when Ohio will be no longer embarrassed with the Indian population. The
same measures will be extended to Indiana as soon as there is reason to
anticipate success. It is confidently believed that perseverance for a
few years in the present policy of the Government will extinguish the
Indian title to all lands lying within the States composing our Federal
Union, and remove beyond their limits every Indian who is not willing
to submit to their laws.

Thus will all conflicting claims to jurisdiction between the States and
the Indian tribes be put to rest. It is pleasing to reflect that
results so beneficial, not only to the States immediately concerned,
but to the harmony of the Union, will have been accomplished by
measures equally advantageous to the Indians. What the native savages
become when surrounded by a dense population and by mixing with the
whites may be seen in the miserable remnants of a few Eastern tribes,
deprived of political and civil rights, forbidden to make contracts,
and subjected to guardians, dragging out a wretched existence, without
excitement, without hope, and almost without thought.

But the removal of the Indians beyond the limits and jurisdiction of
the States does not place them beyond the reach of philanthropic aid
and Christian instruction. On the contrary, those whom philanthropy or
religion may induce to live among them in their new abode will be more
free in the exercise of their benevolent functions than if they had
remained within the limits of the States, embarrassed by their internal
regulations. Now subject to no control but the superintending agency of
the General Government, exercised with the sole view of preserving
peace, they may proceed unmolested in the interesting experiment of
gradually advancing a community of American Indians from barbarism to
the habits and enjoyments of civilized life.

Among the happiest effects of the improved relations of our Republic
has been an increase of trade, producing a corresponding increase of
revenue beyond the most sanguine anticipations of the Treasury

The state of the public finances will be fully shown by the Secretary
of the Treasury in the report which he will presently lay before you. I
will here, however, congratulate you upon their prosperous condition.
The revenue received in the present year will not fall short of
$27,700,000, and the expenditures for all objects other than the public
debt will not exceed $14,700,000. The payment on account of the
principal and interest of the debt during the year will exceed
$16,500,000, a greater sum than has been app