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´╗┐Title: A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents - Volume 4, part 1: William Henry Harrison
Author: Richardson, James D. (James Daniel), 1843-1914
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents - Volume 4, part 1: William Henry Harrison" ***













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Copyright 1897


Prefatory Note

In historic value this volume is equal to, if it does not surpass, any
one of the series which has preceded it. It comprises the eight years of
our history from March 4, 1841, to March 4, 1849, and includes the four
years' term of Harrison and Tyler and also the term of James K. Polk.
During the first half of this period the death of President Harrison
occurred, when for the first time under the Constitution the
Vice-President succeeded to the office of President. As a matter of
public interest, several papers relating to the death of President
Harrison are inserted. A number of highly interesting vetoes of
President Tyler appear, among which are two vetoing bills chartering a
United States bank and two vetoing tariff measures. During President
Tyler's Administration the protective tariff act of 1842 was passed; the
subtreasury law was repealed; the treaty with Great Britain of August 9,
1842, was negotiated, settling the northeastern-boundary controversy,
and providing for the final suppression of the African slave trade and
for the surrender of fugitive criminals; and acts establishing a uniform
system of bankruptcy and providing for the distribution of the sales of
the public lands were passed. The treaty of annexation between the
United States and the Republic of Texas was negotiated, but was rejected
by the Senate.

During the Administration of President Polk Texas was finally annexed to
the United States; Texas, Iowa, and Wisconsin were admitted into the
Union; the Oregon boundary was settled; the independent-treasury system
was reenacted; the Naval Academy was established; acts were passed
establishing the Smithsonian Institution and creating the Department of
the Interior; the war with Mexico was successfully fought, and the
territory known as New Mexico and Upper California was acquired. The
acquisition of territory by Mr. Polk's Administration added to the
United States California and New Mexico and portions of Colorado, Utah,
and Nevada, a territory containing in all 1,193,061 square miles, or
over 763,000,000 acres, and constituting a country more than half as
large as all that held by the Republic before he became President. This
addition to our domain was the next largest in area ever made. It was
exceeded only by the purchase by President Jefferson of the Louisiana
Territory, in which was laid so deep the foundation of the country's
growth and grandeur. If our country had not already attained that rank
by the acquisition of the Louisiana Territory, the further additions
made by Mr. Polk's Administration advanced it at once to a continental
power of assured strength and boundless promise.


APRIL 27, 1897.

William Henry Harrison

March 4 to April 4, 1841

William Henry Harrison

William Henry Harrison, third and youngest son of Benjamin Harrison, one
of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, was born at Berkeley,
Charles City County, Va., February 9, 1773. Was educated at Hampden
Sidney College, Virginia, and began the study of medicine, but before he
had finished it accounts of Indian outrages on the western frontier led
him to enter the Army, and he was commissioned an ensign in the First
Infantry on August 16, 1791; joined his regiment at Fort Washington,
Ohio. Was appointed lieutenant June 2, 1792, and afterwards joined the
Army under General Anthony Wayne, and was made aid-de-camp to the
commanding officer. For his services in the expedition, in December,
1793, that erected Fort Recovery he was thanked by name in general
orders. Participated in the engagements with the Indians that began on
June 30, 1794, and was complimented by General Wayne for gallantry in
the victory on the Miami on August 20. On May 15, 1797, was made captain
and given the command of Fort Washington. While there he married Anna,
daughter of John Cleves Symmes. Resigned his commission on June 1, 1798,
peace having been made with the Indians, and was immediately appointed
by President John Adams secretary of the Northwest Territory, but in
October, 1799, resigned to take his seat as Territorial Delegate in
Congress. During his term part of the Northwest Territory was formed
into the Territory of Indiana, including the present States of Indiana,
Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, and he was appointed its governor and
superintendent of Indian affairs, which he accepted, and resigned his
seat in Congress. Was reappointed successively by Presidents Jefferson
and Madison. He organized the legislature at Vincennes in 1805. Held
frequent councils with the Indians, and succeeded in averting many
outbreaks. On September 30, 1809, concluded a treaty with several tribes
by which they sold to the United States about 3,000,000 acres of land on
the Wabash and White rivers. This and former treaties were condemned by
Tecumseh and other chiefs, and an outbreak became imminent, which was
averted by the conciliatory course of the governor. In the spring of
1811 Indian depredations became frequent, and Governor Harrison
recommended the establishment of a military post at Tippecanoe, and the
Government consented. On September 26 Harrison marched from Vincennes
with about 900 men, including 350 regular infantry, completed Fort
Harrison, near the site of Terre Haute, Ind., on October 28, and leaving
a garrison there pressed on toward Tippecanoe. On November 6, when near
that town, was met by messengers demanding a parley, and a council was
proposed for the next day. At 4 o'clock the following morning a fierce
attack was made by the savages; at daybreak the Indians were driven from
the field. For this victory he was highly complimented by President
Madison in his message of December 18, 1811, and was also thanked by the
legislatures of Kentucky and Indiana. On August 25, 1812, soon after war
was declared against Great Britain, was commissioned major-general of
the militia of Kentucky, though not a citizen of that State. On August
22, 1812, was commissioned a brigadier-general in the Regular Army, and
later was appointed to the chief command of the Northwestern army, with
instructions to act in all cases according to his own discretion and
judgment. No latitude as great as this had been given to any commander
since Washington. On March 2, 1813, was commissioned a major-general.
Was in command of Fort Meigs when General Proctor, with a force of
British troops and Indians, laid unsuccessful siege to it from April 28
to May 9, 1813. Transporting his army to Canada, he fought the battle of
the Thames on October 5, defeating General Proctor's army of 800
regulars and 1,200 Indians, the latter led by the celebrated Tecumseh,
who was killed. This battle, together with Perry's victory on Lake Erie,
gave the United States possession of the chain of lakes above Erie and
put an end to the war in uppermost Canada. For this victory he was
praised by President Madison in his annual message to Congress and by
the legislatures of the different States. Through a misunderstanding
with General John Armstrong, Secretary of War, he resigned his
commission in the Army May 31, 1814. In 1814, and again in 1815, he was
appointed on commissions that concluded Indian treaties, and in 1816 was
chosen to Congress to fill a vacancy, serving till 1819. On March 30,
1818, Congress unanimously voted him a gold medal for his victory of the
Thames. In 1819 he was chosen to the senate of Ohio, and in 1822 was an
unsuccessful candidate for Congress. In 1824 was a Presidential elector,
voting for Henry Clay, and in the same year was sent to the United
States Senate, and succeeded Andrew Jackson as chairman of the Committee
on Military Affairs. He resigned in 1828, having been appointed by
President John Quincy Adams minister to the United States of Colombia.
He was recalled at the outset of Jackson's Administration, and retired
to his farm at North Bend, near Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1835 was nominated
for the Presidency by Whig State conventions in Pennsylvania, New York,
Ohio, and other States, but at the election on November 8, 1836, was
defeated by Martin Van Buren, receiving only 73 electoral votes to the
latter's 170. December 4, 1839, he was nominated for the Presidency by
the national Whig convention at Harrisburg, Pa., and was elected on
November 10, 1840, receiving 234 electoral votes to Van Buren's 60. Was
inaugurated March 4, 1841. Called Congress to meet in extra session on
May 31. He died on Sunday morning, April 4, 1841. His body was interred
in the Congressional Cemetery at Washington, but in June, 1841, it was
removed to North Bend and placed in a tomb overlooking the Ohio River.


Called from a retirement which I had supposed was to continue for the
residue of my life to fill the chief executive office of this great and
free nation, I appear before you, fellow-citizens, to take the oaths
which the Constitution prescribes as a necessary qualification for the
performance of its duties; and in obedience to a custom coeval with our
Government and what I believe to be your expectations I proceed to
present to you a summary of the principles which will govern me in the
discharge of the duties which I shall be called upon to perform.

It was the remark of a Roman consul in an early period of that
celebrated Republic that a most striking contrast was observable in the
conduct of candidates for offices of power and trust before and after
obtaining them, they seldom carrying out in the latter case the pledges
and promises made in the former. However much the world may have
improved in many respects in the lapse of upward of two thousand years
since the remark was made by the virtuous and indignant Roman, I fear
that a strict examination of the annals of some of the modern elective
governments would develop similar instances of violated confidence.

Although the fiat of the people has gone forth proclaiming me the Chief
Magistrate of this glorious Union, nothing upon their part remaining to
be done, it may be thought that a motive may exist to keep up the
delusion under which they may be supposed to have acted in relation to
my principles and opinions; and perhaps there may be some in this
assembly who have come here either prepared to condemn those I shall now
deliver, or, approving them, to doubt the sincerity with which they are
now uttered. But the lapse of a few months will confirm or dispel their
fears. The outline of principles to govern and measures to be adopted by
an Administration not yet begun will soon be exchanged for immutable
history, and I shall stand either exonerated by my countrymen or classed
with the mass of those who promised that they might deceive and
flattered with the intention to betray. However strong may be my present
purpose to realize the expectations of a magnanimous and confiding
people, I too well understand the dangerous temptations to which I shall
be exposed from the magnitude of the power which it has been the
pleasure of the people to commit to my hands not to place my chief
confidence upon the aid of that Almighty Power which has hitherto
protected me and enabled me to bring to favorable issues other important
but still greatly inferior trusts heretofore confided to me by my

The broad foundation upon which our Constitution rests being the
people--a breath of theirs having made, as a breath can unmake, change,
or modify it--it can be assigned to none of the great divisions of
government but to that of democracy. If such is its theory, those who
are called upon to administer it must recognize as its leading principle
the duty of shaping their measures so as to produce the greatest good to
the greatest number. But with these broad admissions, if we would
compare the sovereignty acknowledged to exist in the mass of our people
with the power claimed by other sovereignties, even by those which have
been considered most purely democratic, we shall find a most essential
difference. All others lay claim to power limited only by their own
will. The majority of our citizens, on the contrary, possess a
sovereignty with an amount of power precisely equal to that which has
been granted to them by the parties to the national compact, and nothing
beyond. We admit of no government by divine right, believing that so far
as power is concerned the Beneficent Creator has made no distinction
amongst men; that all are upon an equality, and that the only legitimate
right to govern is an express grant of power from the governed. The
Constitution of the United States is the instrument containing this
grant of power to the several departments composing the Government. On
an examination of that instrument it will be found to contain
declarations of power granted and of power withheld. The latter is also
susceptible of division into power which the majority had the right to
grant, but which they did not think proper to intrust to their agents,
and that which they could not have granted, not being possessed by
themselves. In other words, there are certain rights possessed by each
individual American citizen which in his compact with the others he has
never surrendered. Some of them, indeed, he is unable to surrender,
being, in the language of our system, unalienable. The boasted privilege
of a Roman citizen was to him a shield only against a petty provincial
ruler, whilst the proud democrat of Athens would console himself under a
sentence of death for a supposed violation of the national faith--which
no one understood and which at times was the subject of the mockery of
all--or the banishment from his home, his family, and his country with
or without an alleged cause, that it was the act not of a single tyrant
or hated aristocracy, but of his assembled countrymen. Far different is
the power of our sovereignty. It can interfere with no one's faith,
prescribe forms of worship for no one's observance, inflict no
punishment but after well-ascertained guilt, the result of investigation
under rules prescribed by the Constitution itself. These precious
privileges, and those scarcely less important of giving expression to
his thoughts and opinions, either by writing or speaking, unrestrained
but by the liability for injury to others, and that of a full
participation in all the advantages which flow from the Government, the
acknowledged property of all, the American citizen derives from no
charter granted by his fellow-man. He claims them because he is himself
a man, fashioned by the same Almighty hand as the rest of his species
and entitled to a full share of the blessings with which He has endowed
them. Notwithstanding the limited sovereignty possessed by the people of
the United States and the restricted grant of power to the Government
which they have adopted, enough has been given to accomplish all the
objects for which it was created. It has been found powerful in war, and
hitherto justice has been administered, an intimate union effected,
domestic tranquillity preserved, and personal liberty secured to the
citizen. As was to be expected, however, from the defect of language and
the necessarily sententious manner in which the Constitution is written,
disputes have arisen as to the amount of power which it has actually
granted or was intended to grant.

This is more particularly the case in relation to that part of the
instrument which treats of the legislative branch, and not only as
regards the exercise of powers claimed under a general clause giving
that body the authority to pass all laws necessary to carry into effect
the specified powers, but in relation to the latter also. It is,
however, consolatory to reflect that _most_ of the instances of
alleged departure from the letter or spirit of the Constitution have
ultimately received the sanction of a majority of the people. And the
fact that many of our statesmen most distinguished for talent and
patriotism have been at one time or other of their political career on
both sides of each of the most warmly disputed questions forces upon us
the inference that the errors, if errors there were, are attributable to
the intrinsic difficulty in many instances of ascertaining the
intentions of the framers of the Constitution rather than the influence
of any sinister or unpatriotic motive. But the great danger to our
institutions does not appear to me to be in a usurpation by the
Government of power not granted by the people, but by the accumulation
in one of the departments of that which was assigned to others. Limited
as are the powers which have been granted, still enough have been
granted to constitute a despotism if concentrated in one of the
departments. This danger is greatly heightened, as it has been always
observable that men are less jealous of encroachments of one department
upon another than upon their own reserved rights. When the Constitution
of the United States first came from the hands of the Convention which
formed it, many of the sternest republicans of the day were alarmed at
the extent of the power which had been granted to the Federal
Government, and more particularly of that portion which had been
assigned to the executive branch. There were in it features which
appeared not to be in harmony with their ideas of a simple
representative democracy or republic, and knowing the tendency of power
to increase itself, particularly when exercised by a single individual,
predictions were made that at no very remote period the Government would
terminate in virtual monarchy. It would not become me to say that the
fears of these patriots have been already realized; but as I sincerely
believe that the tendency of measures and of men's opinions for some
years past has been in that direction, it is, I conceive, strictly
proper that I should take this occasion to repeat the assurances I have
heretofore given of my determination to arrest the progress of that
tendency if it really exists and restore the Government to its pristine
health and vigor, as far as this can be effected by any legitimate
exercise of the power placed in my hands.

I proceed to state in as summary a manner as I can my opinion of the
sources of the evils which have been so extensively complained of and
the correctives which may be applied. Some of the former are
unquestionably to be found in the defects of the Constitution; others,
in my judgment, are attributable to a misconstruction of some of its
provisions. Of the former is the eligibility of the same individual to a
second term of the Presidency. The sagacious mind of Mr. Jefferson early
saw and lamented this error, and attempts have been made, hitherto
without success, to apply the amendatory power of the States to its
correction. As, however, one mode of correction is in the power of every
President, and consequently in mine, it would be useless, and perhaps
invidious, to enumerate the evils of which, in the opinion of many of
our fellow-citizens, this error of the sages who framed the Constitution
may have been the source and the bitter fruits which we are still to
gather from it if it continues to disfigure our system. It may be
observed, however, as a general remark, that republics can commit no
greater error than to adopt or continue any feature in their systems of
government which may be calculated to create or increase the love of
power in the bosoms of those to whom necessity obliges them to commit
the management of their affairs; and surely nothing is more likely to
produce such a state of mind than the long continuance of an office of
high trust. Nothing can be more corrupting, nothing more destructive of
all those noble feelings which belong to the character of a devoted
republican patriot. When this corrupting passion once takes possession
of the human mind, like the love of gold it becomes insatiable. It is
the never-dying worm in his bosom, grows with his growth and strengthens
with the declining years of its victim. If this is true, it is the part
of wisdom for a republic to limit the service of that officer at least
to whom she has intrusted the management of her foreign relations, the
execution of her laws, and the command of her armies and navies to a
period so short as to prevent his forgetting that he is the accountable
agent, not the principal; the servant, not the master. Until an
amendment of the Constitution can be effected public opinion may secure
the desired object. I give my aid to it by renewing the pledge
heretofore given that under no circumstances will I consent to serve
a second term.

But if there is danger to public liberty from the acknowledged defects
of the Constitution in the want of limit to the continuance of the
Executive power in the same hands, there is, I apprehend, not much less
from a misconstruction of that instrument as it regards the powers
actually given. I can not conceive that by a fair construction any or
either of its provisions would be found to constitute the President a
part of the legislative power. It can not be claimed from the power to
recommend, since, although enjoined as a duty upon him, it is a
privilege which he holds in common with every other citizen; and
although there may be something more of confidence in the propriety of
the measures recommended in the one case than in the other, in the
obligations of ultimate decision there can be no difference. In the
language of the Constitution, "all the legislative powers" which it
grants "are vested in the Congress of the United States." It would be a
solecism in language to say that any portion of these is not included in
the whole.

It may be said, indeed, that the Constitution has given to the Executive
the power to annul the acts of the legislative body by refusing to them
his assent. So a similar power has necessarily resulted from that
instrument to the judiciary, and yet the judiciary forms no part of the
Legislature. There is, it is true, this difference between these grants
of power: The Executive can put his negative upon the acts of the
Legislature for other cause than that of want of conformity to the
Constitution, whilst the judiciary can only declare void those which
violate that instrument. But the decision of the judiciary is final in
such a case, whereas in every instance where the veto of the Executive
is applied it may be overcome by a vote of two-thirds of both Houses of
Congress. The negative upon the acts of the legislative by the executive
authority, and that in the hands of one individual, would seem to be an
incongruity in our system. Like some others of a similar character,
however, it appears to be highly expedient, and if used only with the
forbearance and in the spirit which was intended by its authors it may
be productive of great good and be found one of the best safeguards to
the Union. At the period of the formation of the Constitution the
principle does not appear to have enjoyed much favor in the State
governments. It existed but in two, and in one of these there was a
plural executive. If we would search for the motives which operated upon
the purely patriotic and enlightened assembly which framed the
Constitution for the adoption of a provision so apparently repugnant to
the leading democratic principle that the majority should govern, we
must reject the idea that they anticipated from it any benefit to the
ordinary course of legislation. They knew too well the high degree of
intelligence which existed among the people and the enlightened
character of the State legislatures not to have the fullest confidence
that the two bodies elected by them would be worthy representatives of
such constituents, and, of course, that they would require no aid in
conceiving and maturing the measures which the circumstances of the
country might require. And it is preposterous to suppose that a thought
could for a moment have been entertained that the President, placed at
the capital, in the center of the country, could better understand the
wants and wishes of the people than their own immediate representatives,
who spend a part of every year among them, living with them, often
laboring with them, and bound to them by the triple tie of interest,
duty, and affection. To assist or control Congress, then, in its
ordinary legislation could not, I conceive, have been the motive for
conferring the veto power on the President. This argument acquires
additional force from the fact of its never having been thus used by the
first six Presidents--and two of them were members of the Convention,
one presiding over its deliberations and the other bearing a larger
share in consummating the labors of that august body than any other
person. But if bills were never returned to Congress by either of the
Presidents above referred to upon the ground of their being inexpedient
or not as well adapted as they might be to the wants of the people, the
veto was applied upon that of want of conformity to the Constitution or
because errors had been committed from a too hasty enactment.

There is another ground for the adoption of the veto principle, which
had probably more influence in recommending it to the Convention than
any other. I refer to the security which it gives to the just and
equitable action of the Legislature upon all parts of the Union. It
could not but have occurred to the Convention that in a country so
extensive, embracing so great a variety of soil and climate, and
consequently of products, and which from the same causes must ever
exhibit a great difference in the amount of the population of its
various sections, calling for a great diversity in the employments of
the people, that the legislation of the majority might not always justly
regard the rights and interests of the minority, and that acts of this
character might be passed under an express grant by the words of the
Constitution, and therefore not within the competency of the judiciary
to declare void; that however enlightened and patriotic they might
suppose from past experience the members of Congress might be, and
however largely partaking, in the general, of the liberal feelings of
the people, it was impossible to expect that bodies so constituted
should not sometimes be controlled by local interests and sectional
feelings. It was proper, therefore, to provide some umpire from whose
situation and mode of appointment more independence and freedom from
such influences might be expected. Such a one was afforded by the
executive department constituted by the Constitution. A person elected
to that high office, having his constituents in every section, State,
and subdivision of the Union, must consider himself bound by the most
solemn sanctions to guard, protect, and defend the rights of all and of
every portion, great or small, from the injustice and oppression of the
rest. I consider the veto power, therefore, given by the Constitution to
the Executive of the United States solely as a conservative power, to be
used only, first, to protect the Constitution from violation; Secondly,
the people from the effects of hasty legislation where their will has
been probably disregarded or not well understood, and, thirdly, to
prevent the effects of combinations violative of the rights of
minorities. In reference to the second of these objects I may observe
that I consider it the right and privilege of the people to decide
disputed points of the Constitution arising from the general grant of
power to Congress to carry into effect the powers expressly given; and I
believe with Mr. Madison that "repeated recognitions under varied
circumstances in acts of the legislative, executive, and judicial
branches of the Government, accompanied by indications in different
modes of the concurrence of the general will of the nation," as
affording to the President sufficient authority for his considering such
disputed points as settled.

Upward of half a century has elapsed since the adoption of the present
form of government. It would be an object more highly desirable than the
gratification of the curiosity of speculative statesmen if its precise
situation could be ascertained, a fair exhibit made of the operations of
each of its departments, of the powers which they respectively claim and
exercise, of the collisions which have occurred between them or between
the whole Government and those of the States or either of them. We could
then compare our actual condition after fifty years' trial of our system
with what it was in the commencement of its operations and ascertain
whether the predictions of the patriots who opposed its adoption or the
confident hopes of its advocates have been best realized. The great
dread of the former seems to have been that the reserved powers of the
States would be absorbed by those of the Federal Government and a
consolidated power established, leaving to the States the shadow only of
that independent action for which they had so zealously contended and on
the preservation of which they relied as the last hope of liberty.
Without denying that the result to which they looked with so much
apprehension is in the way of being realized, it is obvious that they
did not clearly see the mode of its accomplishment. The General
Government has seized upon none of the reserved rights of the States. As
far as any open warfare may have gone, the State authorities have amply
maintained their rights. To a casual observer our system presents no
appearance of discord between the different members which compose it.
Even the addition of many new ones has produced no jarring. They move in
their respective orbits in perfect harmony with the central head and
with each other. But there is still an undercurrent at work by which, if
not seasonably checked, the worst apprehensions of our anti-federal
patriots will be realized, and not only will the State authorities be
overshadowed by the great increase of power in the executive department
of the General Government, but the character of that Government, if not
its designation, be essentially and radically changed. This state of
things has been in part effected by causes inherent in the Constitution
and in part by the never-failing tendency of political power to increase
itself. By making the President the sole distributer of all the
patronage of the Government the framers of the Constitution do not
appear to have anticipated at how short a period it would become a
formidable instrument to control the free operations of the State
governments. Of trifling importance at first, it had early in Mr.
Jefferson's Administration become so powerful as to create great alarm
in the mind of that patriot from the potent influence it might exert in
controlling the freedom of the elective franchise. If such could have
then been the effects of its influence, how much greater must be the
danger at this time, quadrupled in amount as it certainly is and more
completely under the control of the Executive will than their
construction of their powers allowed or the forbearing characters of all
the early Presidents permitted them to make. But it is not by the extent
of its patronage alone that the executive department has become
dangerous, but by the use which it appears may be made of the appointing
power to bring under its control the whole revenues of the country. The
Constitution has declared it to be the duty of the President to see that
the laws are executed, and it makes him the Commander in Chief of the
Armies and Navy of the United States. If the opinion of the most
approved writers upon that species of mixed government which in modern
Europe is termed _monarchy_ in contradistinction to _despotism_
is correct, there was wanting no other addition to the powers of our
Chief Magistrate to stamp a monarchical character on our Government
but the control of the public finances; and to me it appears strange
indeed that anyone should doubt that the entire control which the
President possesses over the officers who have the custody of the
public money, by the power of removal with or without cause, does, for
all mischievous purposes at least, virtually subject the treasure also
to his disposal. The first Roman Emperor, in his attempt to seize the
sacred treasure, silenced the opposition of the officer to whose charge
it had been committed by a significant allusion to his sword. By a
selection of political instruments for the care of the public money a
reference to their commissions by a President would be quite as
effectual an argument as that of Caesar to the Roman knight. I am not
insensible of the great difficulty that exists in drawing a proper plan
for the safe-keeping and disbursement of the public revenues, and I know
the importance which has been attached by men of great abilities and
patriotism to the divorce, as it is called, of the Treasury from the
banking institutions. It is not the divorce which is complained of, but
the unhallowed union of the Treasury with the executive department,
which has created such extensive alarm. To this danger to our republican
institutions and that created by the influence given to the Executive
through the instrumentality of the Federal officers I propose to apply
all the remedies which may be at my command. It was certainly a great
error in the framers of the Constitution not to have made the officer at
the head of the Treasury Department entirely independent of the
Executive. He should at least have been removable only upon the demand
of the popular branch of the Legislature. I have determined never to
remove a Secretary of the Treasury without communicating all the
circumstances attending such removal to both Houses of Congress.

The influence of the Executive in controlling the freedom of the
elective franchise through the medium of the public officers can be
effectually checked by renewing the prohibition published by Mr.
Jefferson forbidding their interference in elections further than giving
their own votes, and their own independence secured by an assurance of
perfect immunity in exercising this sacred privilege of freemen under
the dictates of their own unbiased judgments. Never with my consent
shall an officer of the people, compensated for his services out of
their pockets, become the pliant instrument of Executive will.

There is no part of the means placed in the hands of the Executive which
might be used with greater effect for unhallowed purposes than the
control of the public press. The maxim which our ancestors derived from
the mother country that "the freedom of the press is the great bulwark
of civil and religious liberty" is one of the most precious legacies
which they have left us. We have learned, too, from our own as well as
the experience of other countries, that golden shackles, by whomsoever
or by whatever pretense imposed, are as fatal to it as the iron bonds of
despotism. The presses in the necessary employment of the Government
should never be used "to clear the guilty or to varnish crime." A decent
and manly examination of the acts of the Government should be not only
tolerated, but encouraged.

Upon another occasion I have given my opinion at some length upon the
impropriety of Executive interference in the legislation of
Congress--that the article in the Constitution making it the duty of the
President to communicate information and authorizing him to recommend
measures was not intended to make him the source in legislation, and, in
particular, that he should never be looked to for schemes of finance. It
would be very strange, indeed, that the Constitution should have
strictly forbidden one branch of the Legislature from interfering in the
origination of such bills and that it should be considered proper that
an altogether different department of the Government should be permitted
to do so. Some of our best political maxims and opinions have been drawn
from our parent isle. There are others, however, which can not be
introduced in our system without singular incongruity and the production
of much mischief, and this I conceive to be one. No matter in which of
the houses of Parliament a bill may originate nor by whom introduced--a
minister or a member of the opposition--by the fiction of law, or rather
of constitutional principle, the sovereign is supposed to have prepared
it agreeably to his will and then submitted it to Parliament for their
advice and consent. Now the very reverse is the case here, not only with
regard to the principle, but the forms prescribed by the Constitution.
The principle certainly assigns to the only body constituted by the
Constitution (the legislative body) the power to make laws, and the
forms even direct that the enactment should be ascribed to them. The
Senate, in relation to revenue bills, have the right to propose
amendments, and so has the Executive by the power given him to return
them to the House of Representatives with his objections. It is in his
power also to propose amendments in the existing revenue laws, suggested
by his observations upon their defective or injurious operation. But the
delicate duty of devising schemes of revenue should be left where the
Constitution has placed it--with the immediate representatives of the
people. For similar reasons the mode of keeping the public treasure
should be prescribed by them, and the further removed it may be from the
control of the Executive the more wholesome the arrangement and the more
in accordance with republican principle.

Connected with this subject is the character of the currency. The idea
of making it exclusively metallic, however well intended, appears to me
to be fraught with more fatal consequences than any other scheme having
no relation to the personal rights of the citizens that has ever been
devised. If any single scheme could produce the effect of arresting at
once that mutation of condition by which thousands of our most indigent
fellow-citizens by their industry and enterprise are raised to the
possession of wealth, that is the one. If there is one measure better
calculated than another to produce that state of things so much
deprecated by all true republicans, by which the rich are daily adding
to their hoards and the poor sinking deeper into penury, it is an
exclusive metallic currency. Or if there is a process by which the
character of the country for generosity and nobleness of feeling may be
destroyed by the great increase and necessary toleration of usury, it is
an exclusive metallic currency.

Amongst the other duties of a delicate character which the President is
called upon to perform is the supervision of the government of the
Territories of the United States. Those of them which are destined to
become members of our great political family are compensated by their
rapid progress from infancy to manhood for the partial and temporary
deprivation of their political rights. It is in this District only where
American citizens are to be found who under a settled policy are
deprived of many important political privileges without any inspiring
hope as to the future. Their only consolation under circumstances of
such deprivation is that of the devoted exterior guards of a camp--that
their sufferings secure tranquillity and safety within. Are there any of
their countrymen who would subject them to greater sacrifices, to any
other humiliations than those essentially necessary to the security of
the object for which they were thus separated from their
fellow-citizens? Are their rights alone not to be guaranteed by the
application of those great principles upon which all our constitutions
are founded? We are told by the greatest of British orators and
statesmen that at the commencement of the War of the Revolution the most
stupid men in England spoke of "their American subjects." Are there,
indeed, citizens of any of our States who have dreamed _of their
subjects_ in the District of Columbia? Such dreams can never be
realized by any agency of mine. The people of the District of Columbia
are not the subjects of the people of the States, but free American
citizens. Being in the latter condition when the Constitution was
formed, no words used in that instrument could have been intended to
deprive them of that character. If there is anything in the great
principle of unalienable rights so emphatically insisted upon in our
Declaration of Independence, they could neither make nor the United
States accept a surrender of their liberties and become the
_subjects_--in other words, the slaves--of their former
fellow-citizens. If this be true--and it will scarcely be denied by
anyone who has a correct idea of his own rights as an American
citizen--the grant to Congress of exclusive jurisdiction in the District
of Columbia can be interpreted, so far as respects the aggregate people
of the United States, as meaning nothing more than to allow to Congress
the controlling power necessary to afford a free and safe exercise of
the functions assigned to the General Government by the Constitution. In
all other respects the legislation of Congress should be adapted to
their peculiar position and wants and be conformable with their
deliberate opinions of their own interests.

I have spoken of the necessity of keeping the respective departments of
the Government, as well as all the other authorities of our country,
within their appropriate orbits. This is a matter of difficulty, in some
cases, as the powers which they respectively claim are often not defined
by any distinct lines. Mischievous, however, in their tendencies as
collisions of this kind may be, those which arise between the respective
communities which for certain purposes compose one nation are much more
so, for no such nation can long exist without the careful culture of
those feelings of confidence and affection which are the effective bonds
to union between free and confederated states. Strong as is the tie of
interest, it has been often found ineffectual. Men blinded by their
passions have been known to adopt measures for their country in direct
opposition to all the suggestions of policy. The alternative, then, is
to destroy or keep down a bad passion by creating and fostering a good
one, and this seems to be the corner stone upon which our American
political architects have reared the fabric of our Government. The
cement which was to bind it and perpetuate its existence was the
affectionate attachment between all its members, To insure the
continuance of this feeling, produced at first by a community of
dangers, of sufferings, and of interests, the advantages of each were
made accessible to all. No participation in any good possessed by any
member of our extensive Confederacy, except in domestic government, was
withheld from the citizen of any other member. By a process attended
with no difficulty, no delay, no expense but that of removal, the
citizen of one might become the citizen of any other, and successively
of the whole. The lines, too, separating powers to be exercised by the
citizens of one State from those of another seem to be so distinctly
drawn as to leave no room for misunderstanding. The citizens of each
State unite in their persons all the privileges which that character
confers and all that they may claim as citizens of the United States,
but in no case can the same persons at the same time act as the citizen
of two separate States, and _he is therefore positively precluded from
any interference with the reserved powers of any State but that of which
he is for the time being a citizen_. He may, indeed, offer to the
citizens of other States his advice as to their management, and the form
in which it is tendered is left to his own discretion and sense of
propriety. It may be observed, however, that organized associations of
citizens requiring compliance with their wishes too much resemble the
_recommendations_ of Athens to her allies, supported by an armed
and powerful fleet. It was, indeed, to the ambition of the leading
States of Greece to control the domestic concerns of the others that the
destruction of that celebrated Confederacy, and subsequently of all its
members, is mainly to be attributed, and it is owing to the absence of
that spirit that the Helvetic Confederacy has for so many years been
preserved. Never has there been seen in the institutions of the separate
members of any confederacy more elements of discord. In the principles
and forms of government and religion, as well as in the circumstances of
the several Cantons, so marked a discrepancy was observable as to
promise anything but harmony in their intercourse or permanency in their
alliance, and yet for ages neither has been interrupted. Content with
the positive benefits which their union produced, with the independence
and safety from foreign aggression which it secured, these sagacious
people respected the institutions of each other, however repugnant to
their own principles and prejudices.

Our Confederacy, fellow-citizens, can only be preserved by the same
forbearance. Our citizens must be content with the exercise of the
powers with which the Constitution clothes them. The attempt of those of
one State to control the domestic institutions of another can only
result in feelings of distrust and jealousy, the certain harbingers of
disunion, violence, and civil war, and the ultimate destruction of our
free institutions. Our Confederacy is perfectly illustrated by the terms
and principles governing a common copartnership. There is a fund of
power to be exercised under the direction of the joint councils of the
allied members, but that which has been reserved by the individual
members is intangible by the common Government or the individual members
composing it. To attempt it finds no support in the principles of our

It should be our constant and earnest endeavor mutually to cultivate a
spirit of concord and harmony among the various parts of our
Confederacy. Experience has abundantly taught us that the agitation by
citizens of one part of the Union of a subject not confided to the
General Government, but exclusively under the guardianship of the local
authorities, is productive of no other consequences than bitterness,
alienation, discord, and injury to the very cause which is intended to
be advanced. Of all the great interests which appertain to our country,
that of union--cordial, confiding, fraternal union--is by far the most
important, since it is the only true and sure guaranty of all others.

In consequence of the embarrassed state of business and the currency,
some of the States may meet with difficulty in their financial concerns.
However deeply we may regret anything imprudent or excessive in the
engagements into which States have entered for purposes of their own, it
does not become us to disparage the State governments, nor to discourage
them from making proper efforts for their own relief. On the contrary,
it is our duty to encourage them to the extent of our constitutional
authority to apply their best means and cheerfully to make all necessary
sacrifices and submit to all necessary burdens to fulfill their
engagements and maintain their credit, for the character and credit of
the several States form a part of the character and credit of the whole
country. The resources of the country are abundant, the enterprise and
activity of our people proverbial, and we may well hope that wise
legislation and prudent administration by the respective governments,
each acting within its own sphere, will restore former prosperity.

Unpleasant and even dangerous as collisions may sometimes be between the
constituted authorities of the citizens of our country in relation to
the lines which separate their respective jurisdictions, the results can
be of no vital injury to our institutions if that ardent patriotism,
that devoted attachment to liberty, that spirit of moderation and
forbearance for which our countrymen were once distinguished, continue
to be cherished. If this continues to be the ruling passion of our
souls, the weaker feeling of the mistaken enthusiast will be corrected,
the Utopian dreams of the scheming politician dissipated, and the
complicated intrigues of the demagogue rendered harmless. The spirit of
liberty is the sovereign balm for every injury which our institutions
may receive. On the contrary, no care that can be used in the
construction of our Government, no division of powers, no distribution
of checks in its several departments, will prove effectual to keep us a
free people if this spirit is suffered to decay; and decay it will
without constant nurture. To the neglect of this duty the best
historians agree in attributing the ruin of all the republics with whose
existence and fall their writings have made us acquainted. The same
causes will ever produce the same effects, and as long as the love of
power is a dominant passion of the human bosom, and as long as the
understandings of men can be warped and their affections changed by
operations upon their passions and prejudices, so long will the
liberties of a people depend on their own constant attention to its
preservation. The danger to all well-established free governments arises
from the unwillingness of the people to believe in its existence or from
the influence of designing men diverting their attention from the
quarter whence it approaches to a source from which it can never come.
This is the old trick of those who would usurp the government of their
country. In the name of democracy they speak, warning the people against
the influence of wealth and the danger of aristocracy. History, ancient
and modern, is full of such examples. Caesar became the master of the
Roman people and the senate under the pretense of supporting the
democratic claims of the former against the aristocracy of the latter;
Cromwell, in the character of protector of the liberties of the people,
became the dictator of England, and Bolivar possessed himself of
unlimited power with the title of his country's liberator. There is, on
the contrary, no instance on record of an extensive and well-established
republic being changed into an aristocracy. The tendencies of all such
governments in their decline is to monarchy, and the antagonist
principle to liberty there is the spirit of faction--a spirit which
assumes the character and in times of great excitement imposes itself
upon the people as the genuine spirit of freedom, and, like the false
Christs whose coming was foretold by the Savior, seeks to, and were it
possible would, impose upon the true and most faithful disciples of
liberty. It is in periods like this that it behooves the people to be
most watchful of those to whom they have intrusted power. And although
there is at times much difficulty in distinguishing the false from the
true spirit, a calm and dispassionate investigation will detect the
counterfeit, as well by the character of its operations as the results
that are produced. The true spirit of liberty, although devoted,
persevering, bold, and uncompromising in principle, that secured is mild
and tolerant and scrupulous as to the means it employs, whilst the
spirit of party, assuming to be that of liberty, is harsh, vindictive,
and intolerant, and totally reckless as to the character of the allies
which it brings to the aid of its cause. When the genuine spirit of
liberty animates the body of a people to a thorough examination of their
affairs, it leads to the excision of every excrescence which may have
fastened itself upon any of the departments of the government, and
restores the system to its pristine health and beauty. But the reign of
an intolerant spirit of party amongst a free people seldom fails to
result in a dangerous accession to the executive power introduced and
established amidst unusual professions of devotion to democracy.

The foregoing remarks relate almost exclusively to matters connected
with our domestic concerns. It may be proper, however, that I should
give some indications to my fellow-citizens of my proposed course of
conduct in the management of our foreign relations. I assure them,
therefore, that it is my intention to use every means in my power to
preserve the friendly intercourse which now so happily subsists with
every foreign nation, and that although, of course, not well informed as
to the state of pending negotiations with any of them, I see in the
personal characters of the sovereigns, as well as in the mutual
interests of our own and of the governments with which our relations are
most intimate, a pleasing guaranty that the harmony so important to the
interests of their subjects as well as of our citizens will not be
interrupted by the advancement of any claim or pretension upon their
part to which our honor would not permit us to yield. Long the defender
of my country's rights in the field, I trust that my fellow-citizens
will not see in my earnest desire to preserve peace with foreign powers
any indication that their rights will ever be sacrificed or the honor of
the nation tarnished by any admission on the part of their Chief
Magistrate unworthy of their former glory. In our intercourse with our
aboriginal neighbors the same liberality and justice which marked the
course prescribed to me by two of my illustrious predecessors when
acting under their direction in the discharge of the duties of
superintendent and commissioner shall be strictly observed. I can
conceive of no more sublime spectacle, none more likely to propitiate an
impartial and common Creator, than a rigid adherence to the principles
of justice on the part of a powerful nation in its transactions with a
weaker and uncivilized people whom circumstances have placed at its

Before concluding, fellow-citizens, I must say something to you on the
subject of the parties at this time existing in our country. To me it
appears perfectly clear that the interest of that country requires that
the violence of the spirit by which those parties are at this time
governed must be greatly mitigated, if not entirely extinguished, or
consequences will ensue which are appalling to be thought of.

If parties in a republic are necessary to secure a degree of vigilance
sufficient to keep the public functionaries within the bounds of law and
duty, at that point their usefulness ends. Beyond that they become
destructive of public virtue, the parent of a spirit antagonist to that
of liberty, and eventually its inevitable conqueror. We have examples of
republics where the love of country and of liberty at one time were the
dominant passions of the whole mass of citizens, and yet, with the
continuance of the name and forms of free government, not a vestige of
these qualities remaining in the bosoms of any one of its citizens. It
was the beautiful remark of a distinguished English writer that "in the
Roman senate Octavius had a party and Antony a party, but the
Commonwealth had none." Yet the senate continued to meet in the temple
of liberty to talk of the sacredness and beauty of the Commonwealth and
gaze at the statues of the elder Brutus and of the Curtii and Decii, and
the people assembled in the forum, not, as in the days of Camillus and
the Scipios, to cast their free votes for annual magistrates or pass
upon the acts of the senate, but to receive from the hands of the
leaders of the respective parties their share of the spoils and to shout
for one or the other, as those collected in Gaul or Egypt and the lesser
Asia would furnish the larger dividend. The spirit of liberty had fled,
and, avoiding the abodes of civilized man, had sought protection in the
wilds of Scythia or Scandinavia; and so under the operation of the same
causes and influences it will fly from our Capitol and our forums. A
calamity so awful, not only to our country, but to the world, must be
deprecated by every patriot and every tendency to a state of things
likely to produce it immediately checked. Such a tendency has
existed--does exist. Always the friend of my countrymen, never their
flatterer, it becomes my duty to say to them from this high place to
which their partiality has exalted me that there exists in the land a
spirit hostile to their best interests--hostile to liberty itself. It is
a spirit contracted in its views, selfish in its objects. It looks to
the aggrandizement of a few even to the destruction of the interests of
the whole. The entire remedy is with the people. Something, however, may
be effected by the means which they have placed in my hands. It is union
that we want, not of a party for the sake of that party, but a union of
the whole country for the sake of the whole country, for the defense of
its interests and its honor against foreign aggression, for the defense
of those principles for which our ancestors so gloriously contended. As
far as it depends upon me it shall be accomplished. All the influence
that I possess shall be exerted to prevent the formation at least of an
Executive party in the halls of the legislative body. I wish for the
support of no member of that body to any measure of mine that does not
satisfy his judgment and his sense of duty to those from whom he holds
his appointment, nor any confidence in advance from the people but that
asked for by Mr. Jefferson, "to give firmness and effect to the legal
administration of their affairs."

I deem the present occasion sufficiently important and solemn to justify
me in expressing to my fellow-citizens a profound reverence for the
Christian religion and a thorough conviction that sound morals,
religious liberty, and a just sense of religious responsibility are
essentially connected with all true and lasting happiness; and to that
good Being who has blessed us by the gifts of civil and religious
freedom, who watched over and prospered the labors of our fathers and
has hitherto preserved to us institutions far exceeding in excellence
those of any other people, let us unite in fervently commending every
interest of our beloved country in all future time.

Fellow-citizens, being fully invested with that high office to which the
partiality of my countrymen has called me, I now take an affectionate
leave of you. You will bear with you to your homes the remembrance of
the pledge I have this day given to discharge all the high duties of my
exalted station according to the best of my ability, and I shall enter
upon their performance with entire confidence in the support of a just
and generous people.

MARCH 4, 1841.


  March 5, 1841.
_To the Senate of the United States_:

I hereby withdraw all nominations made to the Senate on or before the 3d
instant and which were not definitely acted on at the close of its
session on that day.



[From Statutes at Large (Little, Brown & Co.), Vol. XI, p. 786.]



Whereas sundry important and weighty matters, principally growing out of
the condition of the revenue and finances of the country, appear to me
to call for the consideration of Congress at an earlier day, than its
next annual session, and thus form an extraordinary occasion, such as
renders necessary, in my judgment, the convention of the two Houses as
soon as may be practicable:

I do therefore by this my proclamation convene the two Houses of
Congress to meet in the Capitol, at the city of Washington, on the last
Monday, being the 31st day, of May next; and I require the respective
Senators and Representatives then and there to assemble, in order to
receive such information respecting the state of the Union as may be
given to them and to devise and adopt such measures as the good of the
country may seem to them, in the exercise of their wisdom and
discretion, to require.

In testimony whereof I have caused the seal of the United States to be
hereunto affixed, and signed the same with my hand.


Done at the city of Washington, the 17th day of March, A.D. 1841, and of
the Independence of the United States the sixty-fifth.


  By the President:
      _Secretary of State_.



[From the Daily National Intelligencer, April 5, 1841.]

WASHINGTON, _April 4, 1841_.

An all-wise Providence having suddenly removed from this life William
Henry Harrison, late President of the United States, we have thought it
our duty, in the recess of Congress and in the absence of the
Vice-President from the seat of Government, to make this afflicting
bereavement known to the country by this declaration under our hands.

He died at the President's house, in this city, this 4th day of April,
A.D. 1841, at thirty minutes before 1 o'clock in the morning.

The people of the United States, overwhelmed, like ourselves, by an
event so unexpected and so melancholy, will derive consolation from
knowing that his death was calm and resigned, as his life has been
patriotic, useful, and distinguished, and that the last utterance of his
lips expressed a fervent desire for the perpetuity of the Constitution
and the preservation of its true principles. In death, as in life, the
happiness of his country was uppermost in his thoughts.

  _Secretary of State_.
  _Secretary of the Treasury_.
  _Secretary of War_.

[The Secretary of the Navy was absent from the city.]


[From the Daily National Intelligencer, April 5, 1841.]

  WASHINGTON, _April 4, 1841_.
  _Vice-President of the United States_.

Sir: It has become our most painful duty to inform you that William
Henry Harrison, late President of the United States, has departed this

This distressing event took place this day at the President's mansion,
in this city, at thirty minutes before 1 in the morning.

We lose no time in dispatching the chief clerk in the State Department
as a special messenger to bear you these melancholy tidings.

We have the honor to be, with the highest regard, your obedient

  _Secretary of State_.
  _Secretary of the Treasury_.
  _Secretary of War_.


[From official records in the State Department.]

  _Washington, April 4, 1841_.

Sir: It has become my most painful duty to announce to you the decease
of William Henry Harrison, late President of the United States.

This afflicting event took place this day at the Executive Mansion, in
this city, at thirty minutes before 1 o'clock in the morning.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,



[From official records in the State Department.]

  _Washington, April 5, 1841_.

Sir: It is my great misfortune to be obliged to inform you of an event
not less afflicting to the people of the United States than distressing
to my own feelings and the feelings of all those connected with the

The President departed this life yesterday at thirty minutes before
1 o'clock in the morning.

You are respectfully invited to attend the funeral ceremonies, which
will take place on Wednesday next, and with the particular arrangements
for which you will be made acquainted in due time.

Not doubting your sympathy and condolence with the Government and people
of the country on this bereavement, I have the honor to be, sir, with
high consideration, your obedient servant,



[From official records in the War Department.]

  _Washington April 5, 1841_.

It is with feelings of the deepest sorrow that the Secretary of War
announces to the Army the death of the President of the United States.
William Henry Harrison is no more. His long and faithful services in
many subordinate but important stations, his recent elevation to the
highest in honor and power, and the brief term allotted to him in the
enjoyment of it are circumstances of themselves which must awaken the
liveliest sympathy in every bosom. But these are personal
considerations; the dispensation is heaviest and most afflicting on
public grounds. This great calamity has befallen the country at a period
of general anxiety for its present, and some apprehension for its
future, condition--at a time when it is most desirable that all its high
offices should be filled and all its high trusts administered in
harmony, wisdom, and vigor. The generosity of character of the deceased,
the conspicuous honesty of his principles and purposes, together with
the skill and firmness with which he maintained them in all situations,
had won for him the affection and confidence of his countrymen; but at
the moment when by their voice he was raised to a station in the
discharge of the powers and duties of which the most beneficent results
might justly have been anticipated from his great experience, his sound
judgment, the high estimation in which he was held by the people, and
his unquestioned devotion to the Constitution and to the Union, it has
pleased an all-wise but mysterious Providence to remove him suddenly
from that and every other earthly employment.

While the officers and soldiers of the Army share in the general grief
which these considerations so naturally and irresistibly inspire, they
will doubtless be penetrated with increased sensibility and feel a
deeper concern in testifying in the manner appropriate to them the full
measure of a nation's gratitude for the eminent services of the departed
patriot and in rendering just and adequate honors to his memory because
he was himself a soldier, and an approved one, receiving his earliest
lessons in a camp, and, when in riper years called to the command of
armies, illustrating the profession of arms by his personal qualities
and contributing largely by his successes to the stock of his country's

It is to be regretted that the suddenness of the emergency has made it
necessary to announce this sad event in the absence of the
Vice-President from the seat of Government; but the greatest confidence
is felt that he will cordially approve the sentiments expressed, and
that he will in due time give directions for such further marks of
respect not prescribed by the existing regulations of the Army as may be
demanded by the occasion.

JOHN BELL, _Secretary of War_.


    _Washington, April 7, 1841_.

The death of the President of the United States having been officially
announced from the War Department, the Major-General Commanding in Chief
communicates to the Army the melancholy intelligence with feelings of
the most profound sorrow. The long, arduous, and faithful military
services in which President Harrison has been engaged since the first
settlement of the Western country, from the rank of a subaltern to that
of a commander in chief, are too well known to require a recital of them
here. It is sufficient to point to the fields of Tippecanoe, the banks
of the Miami, and the Thames, in Upper Canada, to recall to many of the
soldiers of the present Army the glorious results of some of his
achievements against the foes of his country, both savage and civilized.

The Army has on former occasions been called upon to mourn the loss of
distinguished patriots who have occupied the Presidential chair, but
this is the first time since the adoption of the Constitution it has to
lament the demise of a President while in the actual exercise of the
high functions of the Chief Magistracy of the Union.

The members of the Army, in common with their fellow-citizens of all
classes, deeply deplore this national bereavement; but although they
have lost a friend ever ready to protect their interests, his bright
example in the paths of honor and glory still remains for their

The funeral honors directed to be paid by the troops in paragraph 523 of
the General Regulations will be duly observed, and the troops at the
several stations will be paraded at 10 o'clock a.m., when this order
will be read, after which all labors for the day will cease; the
national flag will be displayed at half-staff; at dawn of day thirteen
guns will be fired, besides the half-hour guns as directed by the
Regulations, and at the close of the day a national salute. The
standards, guidons, and colors of the several regiments will be put in
mourning for the period of six months, and the officers will wear the
usual badge of mourning on the left arm above the elbow and on the hilt
of the sword for the same period.

By order of Alexander Macomb, Major-General Commanding in Chief:
  R. JONES, _Adjutant-General_.


[From official records in the Navy Department.]


NAVY DEPARTMENT, _April 5, 1841_.

The Department announces to the officers of the Navy and Marine Corps
the death of William Henry Harrison, late President of the United
States, which occurred at the Executive Mansion, in the city of
Washington, on the morning of the 4th instant, and directs that, uniting
with their fellow-citizens in the manifestations of their respect for
the exalted character and eminent public services of the illustrious
deceased, and of their sense of the bereavement the country has
sustained by this afflicting dispensation of Providence, they wear the
usual badge of mourning for six months.

The Department further directs that funeral honors be paid him at each
of the navy-yards and on board each of the public vessels in commission
by firing twenty-six minute guns, commencing at 12 o'clock m., on the
day after the receipt of this order, and by wearing their flags at
half-mast for one week.

_Acting Secretary of the Navy_.


[From official records in the State Department.]

WASHINGTON, _April 4, 1841_.

The circumstances in which we are placed by the death of the President
render it indispensable for us, in the recess of Congress and in the
absence of the Vice-President, to make arrangements for the funeral
solemnities. Having consulted with the family and personal friends of
the deceased, we have concluded that the funeral be solemnized on
Wednesday, the 7th instant, at 12 o'clock. The religious services to be
performed according to the usage of the Episcopal Church, in which
church the deceased most usually worshiped. The body to be taken from
the President's house to the Congress Burying Ground, accompanied by a
military and a civic procession, and deposited in the receiving tomb.

The military arrangements to be under the direction of Major-General
Macomb, the General Commanding in Chief the Army of the United States,
and Major-General Walter Jones, of the militia of the District of

Commodore Morris, the senior captain in the Navy now in the city, to
have the direction of the naval arrangements.

The marshal of the District to have the direction of the civic
procession, assisted by the mayors of Washington, Georgetown, and
Alexandria, the clerk of the Supreme Court of the United States, and
such other citizens as they may see fit to call to their aid.

John Quincy Adams, ex-President of the United States, members of
Congress now in the city or its neighborhood, all the members of the
diplomatic body resident in Washington, and all officers of Government
and citizens generally are invited to attend.

And it is respectfully recommended to the officers of Government that
they wear the usual badge of mourning.

  _Secretary of State_.
  _Secretary of the Treasury_.
  _Secretary of War_.

[The Secretary of the Navy was absent from the city.]

[From official records in the War Department.]


WASHINGTON, _April 5, 1841_.

The foregoing notice from the heads of the Executive Departments of the
Government informs you what a signal calamity has befallen us in the
death of the President of the United States, and the prominent part
assigned you in those funeral honors which may bespeak a nation's
respect to the memory of a departed patriot and statesman, whose virtue
and talents as a citizen and soldier had achieved illustrious services,
and whose sudden death has disappointed the expectation of still more
important benefits to his country.

With a view to carry into effect the views of these high officers of
Government in a manner befitting the occasion and honorable to the
militia corps of this District, I request the general and field
officers, the general staff, and the commandants of companies to
assemble at my house to-morrow, Tuesday, April 6, precisely at 10
o'clock, to report the strength and equipment of the several corps of
the militia and to receive final instructions for parade and arrangement
in the military part of the funeral procession.

The commandants of such militia corps from the neighboring States as
desire to unite in the procession are respectfully invited to report to
me as soon as practicable their intention, with a view to arrange them
in due and uniform order as a part of the general military escort.

The detail of these arrangements, to which all the military accessories,
both of the regulars and militia, are expected to conform, will be
published in due time for the information of all.

For the present it is deemed sufficient to say that the whole military
part of the procession, including the regular troops of every arm and
denomination and all the militia corps, whether of this District or
of the States, will be consolidated in one column of escort, whereof
Major-General Macomb, Commander of the Army of the United States,
will take the general command, and Brigadier-General Roger Jones,
Adjutant-General of the Army of the United States, will act as
adjutant-general and officer of the day.

_Maj. Gen., Comdg. the Militia of the District of Columbia_.

  _Washington, April 6, 1841_.

The Major-General Commanding the Army of the United States and the
major-general commanding the militia of the District of Columbia, having
been charged by the executive officers of the Government with the
military arrangements for the funeral honors to be paid to the patriot
and illustrious citizen, William Henry Harrison, late President of the
United States, direct the following order of arrangement:


(In column of march.)


Battalion of Baltimore volunteers.
Company of Annapolis volunteers.
Battalion of Washington volunteers.


United States Marine Corps.

Corps of commissioned officers of the Baltimore volunteers, headed by a


Squadron of Georgetown Light Dragoons.


Troop of United States light artillery.

Dismounted officers of volunteers, Marine Corps, Navy, and Army in the
order named.

Mounted officers of volunteers, Marine Corps, Navy, and Army in the
order named.

Major-General Walter Jones, commanding the militia.


Major-General Macomb, Commanding the Army.



United States marshal for the District of Columbia and clerk of the
Supreme Court.

The mayors of Washington, Georgetown, and Alexandria.

Clergy of the District of Columbia and elsewhere.

Physicians to the President.

Funeral car with the corpse.

_Pallbearers_.--R. Cutts, esq., for Maine; Hon. J.B. Moore, for New
Hampshire; Hon. C. Gushing, Massachusetts; M. St. C. Clarke, esq., Rhode
Island; W.B. Lloyd, esq., Connecticut; Hon. Hiland Hall, Vermont;
General John Granger, New York; Hon. G.C. Washington, New Jersey; M.
Willing, esq., Pennsylvania; Hon. A. Naudain, Delaware; David Hoffman,
esq., Maryland; Major Camp, Virginia; Hon. E.D. White, North Carolina;
John Carter, esq., South Carolina; General D.L. Clinch, Georgia; Th.
Crittenden, esq., Kentucky; Colonel Rogers, Tennessee; Mr. Graham, Ohio;
M. Durald, esq., Louisiana; General Robert Hanna, Indiana; Anderson
Miller, esq., Mississippi; D.G. Garnsey, esq., Illinois; Dr. Perrine,
Alabama; Major Russell, Missouri; A.W. Lyon, esq., Arkansas; General
Howard, Michigan; Hon. J.D. Doty, Wisconsin; Hon. C. Downing, Florida;
Hon. W.B. Carter, Iowa; R. Smith, esq., District of Columbia.

Family and relatives of the late President.

The President of the United States and heads of Departments.

Ex-President Adams.

The Chief Justice and associate justices of the Supreme Court and
district judges of the United States.

The President of the Senate _pro tempore_ and Secretary.

Senators and officers of the Senate.

Foreign ministers and suites.

United States and Mexican commissioners for the adjustment of claims
under the convention with Mexico.

Members of the House of Representatives, and officers.

Governors of States and Territories and members of State legislatures.

Judges of the circuit and criminal courts of the District of Columbia,
with the members of the bar and officers of the courts.

The judges of the several States.

The Comptrollers of the Treasury, Auditors, Treasurer, Register,
Solicitor, and Commissioners of Land Office, Pensions, Indian Affairs,
Patents, and Public Buildings.

The clerks, etc., of the several Departments, preceded by their
respective chief clerks, and all other civil officers of the Government.

Officers of the Revolution.

Officers and soldiers of the late war who served under the command of
the late President.

Corporate authorities of Washington.

Corporate authorities of Georgetown.

Corporate authorities of Alexandria.

Such societies and fraternities as may wish to join the procession,
to report to the marshal of the District, who will assign them their
respective positions.

Citizens and strangers.

The troops designated to form the escort will assemble in the avenue
north of the President's house, and form line precisely at 11 o'clock
a.m. on Wednesday, the 7th instant, with its right (Captain Ringgold's
troop of light artillery) resting opposite the western gate.

The procession will move precisely at 12 o'clock m., when minute guns
will be fired by detachments of artillery stationed near St. John's
church and the City Hall, and by the Columbian Artillery at the Capitol.
At the same hour the bells of the several churches in Washington,
Georgetown, and Alexandria will be tolled.

At sunrise to-morrow, the 7th instant, a Federal salute will be fired
from the military stations in the vicinity of Washington, minute guns
between the hours of 12 and 3, and a national salute at the setting of
the sun.

The usual badge of mourning will be worn on the left arm and on the hilt
of the sword.

The Adjutant-General of the Army is charged with the military
arrangements of the day, aided by the Assistant Adjutants-General on
duty at the Headquarters of the Army.

The United States marshal of the District has the direction of the civic
procession, assisted by the mayors of the cities of the District and the
clerk of the Supreme Court of the United States.

By order:
    _Adjutant-General United States Army_.


[From official records, written on parchment, in the State Department.]

WASHINGTON, _April 4, A.D. 1841_.

William Henry Harrison, President of the United States, departed this
life at the President's house, in this city, this morning, being Sunday,
the 4th day of April, A.D. 1841, at thirty minutes before 1 o'clock in
the morning; we whose names are hereunto subscribed being in the house,
and some of us in his immediate presence, at the time of his decease.

  _Mayor of Washington_.
  _Secretary of State_.
  _Attending Physician_.
  _Secretary of the Treasury_.
  _Consulting Physician_.
  _Secretary of War_.
  _Rector of St. John's Church_.
  _Marshal of the District of Columbia_.
  _Clerk of Supreme Court U.S._
  _Chief Clerk in the State Dept_.
  _Of the President's Family_.

Let this be duly recorded and placed among the rolls.

  _Secretary of State_.

Recorded in Domestic Letter Book by--


[From the Daily National Intelligencer, April 5, 1841.]

WASHINGTON, _April 4, 1841_.

  _Secretary of State_.

Dear Sir: In compliance with the request made to us by yourself and the
other gentlemen of the Cabinet, the attending and consulting physicians
have drawn up the abstract of a report on the President's case, which I
herewith transmit to you.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

  _Attending Physician_.

On Saturday, March 27, 1841, President Harrison, after several days'
previous indisposition, was seized with a chill and other symptoms of
fever. The next day pneumonia, with congestion of the liver and
derangement of the stomach and bowels, was ascertained to exist. The age
and debility of the patient, with the immediate prostration, forbade a
resort to general blood letting. Topical depletion, blistering, and
appropriate internal remedies subdued in a great measure the disease of
the lungs and liver, but the stomach and intestines did not regain a
healthy condition. Finally, on the 3d of April, at 3 o'clock p. m.,
profuse diarrhea came on, under which he sank at thirty minutes to 1
o'clock on the morning of the 4th.

The last words uttered by the President, as heard by Dr. Worthington,
were these: "Sir, I wish you to understand the true principles of the
Government. I wish them carried out. I ask nothing more."

  _Attending Physician_.
J.C. HALL, M.D.,
  _Consulting Physicians_.


[From the Daily National Intelligencer, April 7, 1841.]

I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of
President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability
preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

APRIL 6, 1841.

[Footnote A: The Secretary of the Navy was absent from the city.]

  _City and County of Washington, ss_:

I, William Cranch, chief judge of the circuit court of the District of
Columbia, certify that the above-named John Tyler personally appeared
before me this day, and although he deems himself qualified to perform
the duties and exercise the powers and office of President on the death
of William Henry Harrison, late President of the United States, without
any other oath than that which he has taken as Vice-President, yet as
doubts may _arise_, and for greater caution, took and subscribed
the foregoing oath before me.

APRIL 6, 1841.




WASHINGTON, _April 13, 1841_.

When a Christian people feel themselves to be overtaken by a great
public calamity, it becomes them to humble themselves under the
dispensation of Divine Providence, to recognize His righteous government
over the children of men, to acknowledge His goodness in time past, as
well as their own unworthiness, and to supplicate His merciful
protection for the future.

The death of William Henry Harrison, late President of the United
States, so soon after his elevation to that high office, is a
bereavement peculiarly calculated to be regarded as a heavy affliction
and to impress all minds with a sense of the uncertainty of human things
and of the dependence of nations, as well as individuals, upon our
Heavenly Parent.

I have thought, therefore, that I should be acting in conformity with
the general expectation and feelings of the community in recommending,
as I now do, to the people of the United States of every religious
denomination that, according to their several modes and forms of
worship, they observe a day of fasting and prayer by such religious
services as may be suitable on the occasion; and I recommend Friday, the
14th day of May next, for that purpose, to the end that on that day we
may all with one accord join in humble and reverential approach to Him
in whose hands we are, invoking Him to inspire us with a proper spirit
and temper of heart and mind under these frowns of His providence and
still to bestow His gracious benedictions upon our Government and our


[For "A resolution manifesting the sensibility of Congress upon
the event of the death of William Henry Harrison, late President of
the United States," see p. 55.]

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents - Volume 4, part 1: William Henry Harrison" ***

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