By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

´╗┐Title: State of the Union Addresses (1790-2006)
Author: United States. Presidents
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "State of the Union Addresses (1790-2006)" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

The addresses are separated by three asterisks: ***

Complete State of the Union Addresses,
from 1790 to 2006


  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 6, 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, February 27, 2001
  George W. Bush, State of the Union Address, September 20, 2001
  George W. Bush, State of the Union Address, January 29, 2002
  George W. Bush, State of the Union Address, January 28, 2003
  George W. Bush, State of the Union Address, January 20, 2004
  George W. Bush, State of the Union Address, February 2, 2005
  George W. Bush, State of the Union Address, January 31, 2006


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 wisdom.

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,

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

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

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 to.

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 exemplary.

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 captivity.

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 evil.

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

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

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

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 deliberations.

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 humanity.

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

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 advisable.

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 persons.

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 ratification.

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

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 hostility.

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 attention.

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

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

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

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 happiness.

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

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

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 danger.

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 communication.

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 distillers.

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

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 exigencies.

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

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 governments.

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

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 Congress.

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 councils.

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 quarters.

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 Government.

The meeting of the deputies from the Creek Nation at Colerain, in the
State of Georgia, which had for a principal object the purchase of a
parcel of their land by that State, broke up without its being
accomplished, the nation having previous to their departure instructed
them against making any sale. The occasion, however, has been improved
to confirm by a new treaty with the Creeks their 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

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

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

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 country-men.

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 power.

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

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 necessary.

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

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 letters.

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

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 Governments.

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

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 effect.

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

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


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

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 citizens.

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

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

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 future.

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 crew.

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 price.

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

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

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 execution.

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 subject.

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 resources.

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



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

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

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 will.

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

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

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 convention.

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 execution.



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

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

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

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

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

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 Georgia.

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

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



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 unnecessary.

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 friendship.

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 requisite.

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

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

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 grounds.

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 you.

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 nation.

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

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

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

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 obstructed.

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

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 independence.

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

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

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 happiness.

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 prepared.

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

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 cited.

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 perform.

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

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

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 trade.

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 States.

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 important.

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 establishment.

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 laws.

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

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

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 aggression.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 anticipated.

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 confidence.

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 expected.

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

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 instruments.

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 Britain.

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

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 war.

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 cruisers.

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 undefended.

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 tribes.

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

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

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 lake.

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

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 cruisers.

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 notes.

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 exposed.

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

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

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 States.

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 gratitude.

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

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 object.

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

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

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

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 millions.

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 measures.

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

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 prevented.

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 millions.

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 Congress.

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 object.

When we consider the vast extent of territory within the United States,
the great amount and value of its productions, the connection of its
parts, and other circumstances on which their prosperity and happiness
depend, we 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

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 States.

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

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 repeal.

To impose taxes when the public exigencies require them is an obligation
of the most sacred character, especially with a free people. The
faithful 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


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

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

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 themselves.

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 cause.

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 millions.

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

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

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 prepared.

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

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 diminished.

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

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

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 statement.

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 failed.

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

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 ratification?

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 nation.

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

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

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

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 States.

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

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 frontiers.

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

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 duty.

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 Government.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 equally.

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 commencement.

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 productions.

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

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 devoted.

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 $1,538,266.69.

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 it.

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

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 objection.

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 delay.

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 increased.

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

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 construction.

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 parties.

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 Legislature.

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 purpose.

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

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

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

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 nation.

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

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

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 belongs.

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 force.

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


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

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 result.

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

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

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 other.

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 Government.

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

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

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 employed.

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 restored.

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

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 appointed.

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 spectators.

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

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 States.

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 none.

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 inconsiderable.

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 impracticable.

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 them?


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

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

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 forever.

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 satisfactory.

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 Senate.

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

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 accomplished.

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

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

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 Secretary.

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 population.

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

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 purposes.

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

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

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 Universe.


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

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 all.

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 depart.

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

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

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

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

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 protection.

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 barren.

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

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 enacted.

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

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

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 $6,400,000.

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 capital.

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

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

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 population.

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

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

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



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 bestow.

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

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

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 force.

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

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 consideration.

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 achieved.

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 accompanied.

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

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 redeemed.

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



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

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 us.

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 extinguished.

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

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

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 parricide.

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

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

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

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

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

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 country.

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

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

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

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

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 respected.

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

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

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

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

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 modification.

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

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 business.

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

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

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 policy.

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

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 population.

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 commerce.

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

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 it.

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 recommended.

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 Republic.

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

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

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 individuals.

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

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

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

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

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 support.

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 ancestors.

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

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 carried.

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

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

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 inspection.

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 eternal.


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 respect.

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

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 footing.

With Spain our differences up to February 22d, 1819 were settled by the
treaty o