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´╗┐Title: State of the Union Addresses of John Quincy Adams
Author: Adams, John Quincy
Language: English
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State of the Union Addresses of John Quincy Adams

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Dates of addresses by John Quincy Adams in this eBook:

   December 6, 1825
   December 5, 1826
   December 4, 1827
   December 2, 1828


State of the Union Address
John Quincy Adams
December 6, 1825

Fellow Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

In taking a general survey of the concerns of our beloved country, with
reference to subjects interesting to the common welfare, the first
sentiment which impresses itself upon the mind is of gratitude to the
Omnipotent Disposer of All Good for the continuance of the signal
blessings of His providence, and especially for that health which to an
unusual extent has prevailed within our borders, and for that abundance
which in the vicissitudes of the seasons has been scattered with
profusion over our land. Nor ought we less to ascribe to Him the glory
that we are permitted to enjoy the bounties of His hand in peace and
tranquillity--in peace with all the other nations of the earth, in
tranquillity among our selves. There has, indeed, rarely been a period
in the history of civilized man in which the general condition of the
Christian nations has been marked so extensively by peace and

Europe, with a few partial and unhappy exceptions, has enjoyed ten
years of peace, during which all her Governments, what ever the theory
of their constitutions may have been, are successively taught to feel
that the end of their institution is the happiness of the people, and
that the exercise of power among men can be justified only by the
blessings it confers upon those over whom it is extended.

During the same period our intercourse with all those nations has been
pacific and friendly; it so continues. Since the close of your last
session no material variation has occurred in our relations with any
one of them. In the commercial and navigation system of Great Britain
important changes of municipal regulation have recently been sanctioned
by acts of Parliament, the effect of which upon the interests of other
nations, and particularly upon ours, has not yet been fully developed.
In the recent renewal of the diplomatic missions on both sides between
the two Governments assurances have been given and received of the
continuance and increase of the mutual confidence and cordiality by
which the adjustment of many points of difference had already been
effected, and which affords the surest pledge for the ultimate
satisfactory adjustment of those which still remain open or may
hereafter arise.

The policy of the United States in their commercial intercourse with
other nations has always been of the most liberal character. In the
mutual exchange of their respective productions they have abstained
altogether from prohibitions; they have interdicted themselves the
power of laying taxes upon exports, and when ever they have favored
their own shipping by special preferences or exclusive privileges in
their own ports it has been only with a view to countervail similar
favors and exclusions granted by the nations with whom we have been
engaged in traffic to their own people or shipping, and to the
disadvantage of ours. Immediately after the close of the last war a
proposal was fairly made by the act of Congress of March 3rd, 1815, to
all the maritime nations to lay aside the system of retaliating
restrictions and exclusions, and to place the shipping of both parties
to the common trade on a footing of equality in respect to the duties
of tonnage and impost. This offer was partially and successively
accepted by Great Britain, Sweden, the Netherlands, the Hanseatic
cities, Prussia, Sardinia, the Duke of Oldenburg, and Russia. It was
also adopted, under certain modifications, in our late commercial
convention with France, and by the act of Congress of January 1st,
1824, it has received a new confirmation with all the nations who had
acceded to it, and has been offered again to all those who are or may
here after be willing to abide in reciprocity by it. But all these
regulations, whether established by treaty or by municipal enactments,
are still subject to one important restriction.

The removal of discriminating duties of tonnage and of impost is
limited to articles of the growth, produce, or manufacture of the
country to which the vessel belongs or to such articles as are most
usually first shipped from her ports. It will deserve the serious
consideration of Congress whether even this remnant of restriction may
not be safely abandoned, and whether the general tender of equal
competition made in the act of January 8th, 1824, maynot be extended to
include all articles of merchandise not prohibited, of what country so
ever they may be the produce or manufacture. Propositions of this
effect have already been made to us by more than one European
Government, and it is probable that if once established by legislation
or compact with any distinguished maritime state it would recommend
itself by the experience of its advantages to the general accession of

The convention of commerce and navigation between the United States and
France, concluded on June 24th, 1822, was, in the understanding and
intent of both parties, as appears upon its face, only a temporary
arrangement of the points of difference between them of the most
immediate and pressing urgency. It was limited in the first instance to
two years from January 10th, 1822, but with a proviso that it should
further continue in force 'til the conclusion of a general and
definitive treaty of commerce, unless terminated by a notice, six
months in advance, of either of the parties to the other. Its operation
so far as it extended has been mutually advantageous, and it still
continues in force by common consent. But it left unadjusted several
objects of great interest to the citizens and subjects of both
countries, and particularly a mass of claims to considerable amount of
citizens of the United States upon the Government of France of
indemnity for property taken or destroyed under circumstances of the
most aggravated and outrageous character. In the long period during
which continual and earnest appeals have been made to the equity and
magnanimity of France in behalf of these claims their justice has not
been, as it could not be, denied.

It was hoped that the accession of a new Sovereign to the throne would
have afforded a favorable opportunity for presenting them to the
consideration of his Government. They have been presented and urged
hither to without effect. The repeated and earnest representations of
our minister at the Court of France remain as yet even without an
answer. Were the demands of nations upon the justice of each other
susceptible of adjudication by the sentence of an impartial tribunal,
those to which I now refer would long since have been settled and
adequate indemnity would have been obtained.

There are large amounts of similar claims upon the Netherlands, Naples,
and Denmark. For those upon Spain prior to 1819 indemnity was, after
many years of patient forbearance, obtained; and those upon Sweden have
been lately compromised by a private settlement, in which the claimants
themselves have acquiesced. The Governments of Denmark and of Naples
have been recently reminded of those yet existing against them, nor
will any of them be forgotten while a hope may be indulged of obtaining
justice by the means within the constitutional power of the Executive,
and without resorting to those means of self-redress which, as well as
the time, circumstances, and occasion which may require them, are
within the exclusive competency of the Legislature.

It is with great satisfaction that I am enabled to bear witness to the
liberal spirit with which the Republic of Colombia has made
satisfaction for well-established claims of a similar character, and
among the documents now communicated to Congress will be distinguished
a treaty of commerce and navigation with that Republic, the
ratifications of which have been exchanged since the last recess of the
Legislature. The negotiation of similar treaties with all of the
independent South American States has been contemplated and may yet be
accomplished. The basis of them all, as proposed by the United States,
has been laid in two principles--the one of entire and unqualified
reciprocity, the other the mutual obligation of the parties to place
each other permanently upon the footing of the most favored nation.
These principles are, indeed, indispensable to the effectual
emancipation of the American hemisphere from the thralldom of
colonizing monopolies and exclusions, an event rapidly realizing in the
progress of human affairs, and which the resistance still opposed in
certain parts of Europe to the acknowledgment of the Southern American
Republics as independent States will, it is believed, contribute more
effectually to accomplish. The time has been, and that not remote, when
some of those States might, in their anxious desire to obtain a nominal
recognition, have accepted of a nominal independence, clogged with
burdensome conditions, and exclusive commercial privileges granted to
the nation from which they have separated to the disadvantage of all
others. They are all now aware that such concessions to any European
nation would be incompatible with that independence which they have
declared and maintained.

Among the measures which have been suggested to them by the new
relations with one another, resulting from the recent changes in their
condition, is that of assembling at the Isthmus of Panama a congress,
at which each of them should be represented, to deliberate upon objects
important to the welfare of all. The Republics of Colombia, of Mexico,
and of Central America have already deputed plenipotentiaries to such a
meeting, and they have invited the United States to be also represented
there by their ministers. The invitation has been accepted, and
ministers on the part of the United States will be commissioned to
attend at those deliberations, and to take part in them so far as may
be compatible with that neutrality from which it is neither our
intention nor the desire of the other American States that we should

The commissioners under the 7th article of the treaty of Ghent have so
nearly completed their arduous labors that, by the report recently
received from the agent on the part of the United States, there is
reason to expect that the commission will be closed at their next
session, appointed for May 22 of the ensuing year.

The other commission, appointed to ascertain the indemnities due for
slaves carried away from the United States after the close of the late
war, have met with some difficulty, which has delayed their progress in
the inquiry. A reference has been made to the British Government on the
subject, which, it may be hoped, will tend to hasten the decision of
the commissioners, or serve as a substitute for it.

Among the powers specifically granted to Congress by the Constitution
are those of establishing uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies
throughout the United States and of providing for organizing, arming,
and disciplining the militia and for governing such part of them as may
be employed in the services of the United States. The magnitude and
complexity of the interests affected by legislation upon these subjects
may account for the fact that, long and often as both of them have
occupied the attention and animated the debates of Congress, no systems
have yet been devised for fulfilling to the satisfaction of the
community the duties prescribed by these grants of power.

To conciliate the claim of the individual citizen to the enjoyment of
personal liberty, with the effective obligation of private contracts,
is the difficult problem to be solved by a law of bankruptcy. These are
objects of the deepest interest to society, affecting all that is
precious in the existence of multitudes of persons, many of them in the
classes essentially dependent and helpless, of the age requiring
nurture, and of the sex entitled to protection from the free agency of
the parent and the husband. The organization of the militia is yet more
indispensable to the liberties of the country. It is only by an
effective militia that we can at once enjoy the repose of peace and bid
defiance to foreign aggression; it is by the militia that we are
constituted an armed nation, standing in perpetual panoply of defense
in the presence of all the other nations of the earth. To this end it
would be necessary, if possible, so to shape its organization as to
give it a more united and active energy. There are laws establishing an
uniform militia throughout the United States and for arming and
equipping its whole body. But it is a body of dislocated members,
without the vigor of unity and having little of uniformity but the
name. To infuse into this most important institution the power of which
it is susceptible and to make it available for the defense of the Union
at the shortest notice and at the smallest expense possible of time, of
life, and of treasure are among the benefits to be expected from the
persevering deliberations of Congress.

Among the unequivocal indications of our national prosperity is the
flourishing state of our finances. The revenues of the present year,
from all their principal sources, will exceed the anticipations of the
last. The balance in the Treasury on the first of January last was a
little short of $2,000,000, exclusive of $2,500,000, being the moiety
of the loan of $5,000,000 authorized by the act of May 26th, 1824. The
receipts into the Treasury from the first of January to the 30th of
September, exclusive of the other moiety of the same loan, are
estimated at $16,500,000, and it is expected that those of the current
quarter will exceed $5,000,000, forming an aggregate of receipts of
nearly $22,000,000, independent of the loan. The expenditures of the
year will not exceed that sum more than $2,000,000. By those
expenditures nearly $8,000,000 of the principal of the public debt that
have been discharged.

More than $1,500,000 has been devoted to the debt of gratitude to the
warriors of the Revolution; a nearly equal sum to the construction of
fortifications and the acquisition of ordnance and other permanent
preparations of national defense; $500,000 to the gradual increase of
the Navy; an equal sum for purchases of territory from the Indians and
payment of annuities to them; and upward of $1,000,000 for objects of
internal improvement authorized by special acts of the last Congress.
If we add to these $4,000,000 for payment of interest upon the public
debt, there remains a sum of $7,000,000, which have defrayed the whole
expense of the administration of Government in its legislative,
executive, and judiciary departments, including the support of the
military and naval establishments and all the occasional contingencies
of a government coextensive with the Union.

The amount of duties secured on merchandise imported since the
commencement of the year is about $25,500,000, and that which will
accrue during the current quarter is estimated at $5,500,000; from
these $31,000,000, deducting the draw-backs, estimated at less than
$7,000,000, a sum exceeding $24,000,000 will constitute the revenue of
the year, and will exceed the whole expenditures of the year. The
entire amount of the public debt remaining due on the first of January
next will be short of $81,000,000.

By an act of Congress of the 3d of March last a loan of $12,000,000 was
authorized at 4.5%, or an exchange of stock to that amount of 4.5% for
a stock of 6%, to create a fund for extinguishing an equal amount of
the public debt, bearing an interest of 6%, redeemable in 1826. An
account of the measures taken to give effect to this act will be laid
before you by the Secretary of the Treasury. As the object which it had
in view has been but partially accomplished, it will be for the
consideration of Congress whether the power with which it clothed the
Executive should not be renewed at an early day of the present session,
and under what modifications.

The act of Congress of the 3d of March last, directing the Secretary of
the Treasury to subscribe, in the name and for the use of the United
States, for 1,500 shares of the capital stock of the Chesapeake and
Delaware Canal Company, has been executed by the actual subscription
for the amount specified; and such other measures have been adopted by
that officer, under the act, as the fulfillment of its intentions
requires. The latest accounts received of this important undertaking
authorize the belief that it is in successful progress.

The payments into the Treasury from the proceeds of the sales of the
public lands during the present year were estimated at $1,000,000. The
actual receipts of the first two quarters have fallen very little short
of that sum; it is not expected that the second half of the year will
be equally productive, but the income of the year from that source may
now be safely estimated at $1,500,000. The act of Congress of May 18th,
1824, to provide for the extinguishment of the debt due to the United
States by the purchasers of public lands, was limited in its operation
of relief to the purchaser to the 10th of April last. Its effect at the
end of the quarter during which it expired was to reduce that debt from
$10,000,000 to $7,000,000 By the operation of similar prior laws of
relief, from and since that of March 2d, 1821, the debt had been
reduced from upward of $22,000,000 to $10,000,000.

It is exceedingly desirable that it should be extinguished altogether;
and to facilitate that consummation I recommend to Congress the revival
for one year more of the act of May 18th, 1824, with such provisional
modification as may be necessary to guard the public interests against
fraudulent practices in the resale of the relinquished land.

The purchasers of public lands are among the most useful of our fellow
citizens, and since the system of sales for cash alone has been
introduced great indulgence has been justly extended to those who had
previously purchased upon credit. The debt which had been contracted
under the credit sales had become unwieldy, and its extinction was
alike advantageous to the purchaser and to the public. Under the system
of sales, matured as it has been by experience, and adapted to the
exigencies of the times, the lands will continue as they have become,
an abundant source of revenue; and when the pledge of them to the
public creditor shall have been redeemed by the entire discharge of the
national debt, the swelling tide of wealth with which they replenish
the common Treasury may be made to reflow in unfailing streams of
improvement from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.

The condition of the various branches of the public service resorting
from the Department of War, and their administration during the current
year, will be exhibited in the report of the Secretary of War and the
accompanying documents herewith communicated. The organization and
discipline of the Army are effective and satisfactory. To counteract
the prevalence of desertion among the troops it has been suggested to
withhold from the men a small portion of their monthly pay until the
period of their discharge; and some expedient appears to be necessary
to preserve and maintain among the officers so much of the art of
horsemanship as could scarcely fail to be found wanting on the possible
sudden eruption of a war, which should take us unprovided with a single
corps of cavalry.

The Military Academy at West Point, under the restrictions of a severe
but paternal superintendence, recommends itself more and more to the
patronage of the nation, and the numbers of meritorious officers which
it forms and introduces to the public service furnishes the means of
multiplying the undertakings of the public improvements to which their
acquirements at that institution are peculiarly adapted. The school of
artillery practice established at Fortress Monroe Hampton, Virginia is
well suited to the same purpose, and may need the aid of further
legislative provision to the same end. The reports of the various
officers at the head of the administrative branches of the military
service, connected with the quartering, clothing, subsistence, health,
and pay of the Army, exhibit the assiduous vigilance of those officers
in the performance of their respective duties, and the faithful
accountability which has pervaded every part of the system.

Our relations with the numerous tribes of aboriginal natives of this
country, scattered over its extensive surface and so dependent even for
their existence upon our power, have been during the present year
highly interesting. An act of Congress of May 25th, 1824, made an
appropriation to defray the expenses of making treaties of trade and
friendship with the Indian tribes beyond the Mississippi. An act of
March 3d, 1825, authorized treaties to be made with the Indians for
their consent to the making of a road from the frontier of Missouri to
that of New Mexico, and another act of the same date provided for
defraying the expenses of holding treaties with the Sioux, Chippeways,
Menomenees, Sauks, Foxes, etc., for the purpose of establishing
boundaries and promoting peace between said tribes.

The first and last objects of these acts have been accomplished, and
the second is yet in a process of execution. The treaties which since
the last session of Congress have been concluded with the several
tribes will be laid before the Senate for their consideration
conformably to the Constitution. They comprise large and valuable
acquisitions of territory, and they secure an adjustment of boundaries
and give pledges of permanent peace between several tribes which had
been long waging bloody wars against each other.

On the 12th of February last a treaty was signed at the Indian Springs
between commissioners appointed on the part of the United States and
certain chiefs and individuals of the Creek Nation of Indians, which
was received at the seat of Government only a very few days before the
close of the last session of Congress and of the late Administration.
The advice and consent of the Senate was given to it on the 3d of
March, too late for it to receive the ratification of the then
President of the United States; it was ratified on the 7th of March,
under the unsuspecting impression that it had been negotiated in good
faith and in the confidence inspired by the recommendation of the
Senate. The subsequent transactions in relation to this treaty will
form the subject of a separate communication.

The appropriations made by Congress for public works, as well in the
construction of fortifications as for purposes of internal improvement,
so far as they have been expended, have been faithfully applied. Their
progress has been delayed by the want of suitable officers for
superintending them. An increase of both the corps of engineers,
military and topographical, was recommended by my predecessor at the
last session of Congress. The reasons upon which that recommendation
was founded subsist in all their force and have acquired additional
urgency since that time. The Military Academy at West Point will
furnish from the cadets there officers well qualified for carrying this
measure into effect.

The Board of Engineers for Internal Improvement, appointed for carrying
into execution the act of Congress of April 30th, 1824, "to procure the
necessary surveys, plans, and estimates on the subject of roads and
canals", have been actively engaged in that service from the close of
the last session of Congress. They have completed the surveys necessary
for ascertaining the practicability of a canal from the Chesapeake Bay
to the Ohio River, and are preparing a full report on that subject,
which, when completed, will be laid before you. The same observation is
to be made with regard to the two other objects of national importance
upon which the Board have been occupied, namely, the accomplishment of
a national road from this city to New Orleans, and the practicability
of uniting the waters of Lake Memphramagog with Connecticut River and
the improvement of the navigation of that river. The surveys have been
made and are nearly completed. The report may be expected at an early
period during the present session of Congress.

The acts of Congress of the last session relative to the surveying,
marking, or laying out roads in the Territories of Florida, Arkansas,
and Michigan, from Missouri to Mexico, and for the continuation of the
Cumberland road, are, some of them, fully executed, and others in the
process of execution. Those for completing or commencing fortifications
have been delayed only so far as the Corps of Engineers has been
inadequate to furnish officers for the necessary superintendence of the
works. Under the act confirming the statutes of Virginia and Maryland
incorporating the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company, three
commissioners on the part of the United States have been appointed for
opening books and receiving subscriptions, in concert with a like
number of commissioners appointed on the part of each of those States.
A meeting of the commissioners has been postponed, to await the
definitive report of the board of engineers.

The light-houses and monuments for the safety of our commerce and
mariners, the works for the security of Plymouth Beach and for the
preservation of the islands in Boston Harbor, have received the
attention required by the laws relating to those objects respectively.
The continuation of the Cumberland road, the most important of them
all, after surmounting no inconsiderable difficulty in fixing upon the
direction of the road, has commenced under the most promising of
auspices, with the improvements of recent invention in the mode of
construction, and with advantage of a great reduction in the
comparative cost of the work.

The operation of the laws relating to the Revolutionary pensioners may
deserve the renewed consideration of Congress. The act of March 18th,
1818, while it made provision for many meritorious and indigent
citizens who had served in the War of Independence, opened a door to
numerous abuses and impositions. To remedy this the act of May 1st, 1820,
exacted proofs of absolute indigence, which many really in want were
unable and all susceptible of that delicacy which is allied to many
virtues must be deeply reluctant to give. The result has been that some
among the least deserving have been retained, and some in whom the
requisites both of worth and want were combined have been stricken from
the list. As the numbers of these venerable relics of an age gone by
diminish; as the decays of body, mind, and estate of those that survive
must in the common course of nature increase, should not a more liberal
portion of indulgence be dealt out to them? May not the want in most
instances be inferred from the demand when the service can be proved,
and may not the last days of human infirmity be spared the
mortification of purchasing a pittance of relief only by the exposure
of its own necessities? I submit to Congress the expediency of
providing for individual cases of this description by special
enactment, or of revising the act of May 1st, 1820, with a view to
mitigate the rigor of its exclusions in favor of persons to whom
charity now bestowed can scarcely discharge the debt of justice.

The portion of the naval force of the Union in actual service has been
chiefly employed on three stations--the Mediterranean, the coasts of
South America bordering on the Pacific Ocean, and the West Indies. An
occasional cruiser has been sent to range along the African shores most
polluted by the traffic of slaves; one armed vessel has been stationed
on the coast of our eastern boundary, to cruise along the fishing
grounds in Hudsons Bay and on the coast of Labrador, and the first
service of a new frigate has been performed in restoring to his native
soil and domestic enjoyments the veteran hero whose youthful blood and
treasure had freely flowed in the cause of our country's independence,
and whose whole life has been a series of services and sacrifices to
the improvement of his fellow men.

The visit of General Lafayette, alike honorable to himself and to our
country, closed, as it had commenced, with the most affecting
testimonials of devoted attachment on his part, and of unbounded
gratitude of this people to him in return. It will form here-after a
pleasing incident in the annals of our Union, giving to real history
the intense interest of romance and signally marking the unpurchasable
tribute of a great nation's social affections to the disinterested
champion of the liberties of human-kind.

The constant maintenance of a small squadron in the Mediterranean is a
necessary substitute for the humiliating alternative of paying tribute
for the security of our commerce in that sea, and for a precarious
peace, at the mercy of every caprice of four Barbary States, by whom it
was liable to be violated. An additional motive for keeping a
respectable force stationed there at this time is found in the maritime
war raging between the Greeks and the Turks, and in which the neutral
navigation of this Union is always in danger of outrage and
depredation. A few instances have occurred of such depredations upon
our merchant vessels by privateers or pirates wearing the Grecian flag,
but without real authority from the Greek or any other Government. The
heroic struggles of the Greeks themselves, in which our warmest
sympathies as free men and Christians have been engaged, have continued
to be maintained with vicissitudes of success adverse and favorable.

Similar motives have rendered expedient the keeping of a like force on
the coasts of Peru and Chile on the Pacific. The irregular and
convulsive character of the war upon the shores has been extended to
the conflicts upon the ocean. An active warfare has been kept up for
years with alternate success, though generally to the advantage of the
American patriots. But their naval forces have not always been under
the control of their own Governments. Blockades, unjustifiable upon any
acknowledged principles of international law, have been proclaimed by
officers in command, and though disavowed by the supreme authorities,
the protection of our own commerce against them has been made cause of
complaint and erroneous imputations against some of the most gallant
officers of our Navy. Complaints equally groundless have been made by
the commanders of the Spanish royal forces in those seas; but the most
effective protection to our commerce has been the flag and the firmness
of our own commanding officers.

The cessation of the war by the complete triumph of the patriot cause
has removed, it is hoped, all cause of dissension with one party and
all vestige of force of the other. But an unsettled coast of many
degrees of latitude forming a part of our own territory and a
flourishing commerce and fishery extending to the islands of the
Pacific and to China still require that the protecting power of the
Union should be displayed under its flag as well upon the ocean as upon
the land.

The objects of the West India Squadron have been to carry into
execution the laws for the suppression of the African slave trade; for
the protection of our commerce against vessels of piratical character,
though bearing commissions from either of the belligerent parties; for
its protection against open and unequivocal pirates. These objects
during the present year have been accomplished more effectually than at
any former period. The African slave trade has long been excluded from
the use of our flag, and if some few citizens of our country have
continued to set the laws of the Union as well as those of nature and
humanity at defiance by persevering in that abominable traffic, it has
been only by sheltering themselves under the banners of other nations
less earnest for the total extinction of the trade of ours.

The active, persevering, and unremitted energy of Captain Warrington
and of the officers and men under his command on that trying and
perilous service have been crowned with signal success, and are
entitled to the approbation of their country. But experience has shown
that not even a temporary suspension or relaxation from assiduity can
be indulged on that station without reproducing piracy and murder in
all their horrors; nor is it probably that for years to come our
immensely valuable commerce in those seas can navigate in security
without the steady continuance of an armed force devoted to its

It were, indeed, a vain and dangerous illusion to believe that in the
present or probable condition of human society a commerce so extensive
and so rich as ours could exist and be pursued in safety without the
continual support of a military marine--the only arm by which the power
of this Confederacy can be estimated or felt by foreign nations, and
the only standing military force which can never be dangerous to our
own liberties at home. A permanent naval peace establishment,
therefore, adapted to our present condition, and adaptable to that
gigantic growth with which the nation is advancing in its career, is
among the subjects which have already occupied the foresight of the
last Congress, and which will deserve your serious deliberations. Our
Navy, commenced at an early period of our present political
organization upon a scale commensurate with the incipient energies, the
scanty resources, and the comparative indigence of our infancy, was
even then found adequate to cope with all the powers of Barbary, save
the first, and with one of the principle maritime powers of Europe.

At a period of further advancement, but with little accession of
strength, it not only sustained with honor the most unequal of
conflicts, but covered itself and our country with unfading glory. But
it is only since the close of the late war that by the numbers and
force of the ships of which it was composed it could deserve the name
of a navy. Yet it retains nearly the same organization as when it
consisted only of five frigates. The rules and regulations by which it
is governed earnestly call for revision, and the want of a naval school
of instruction, corresponding with the Military Academy at West Point,
for the formation of scientific and accomplished officers, is felt with
daily increasing aggravation.

The act of Congress of May 26th, 1824, authorizing an examination and
survey of the harbor of Charleston, in South Carolina, of St. Marys, in
Georgia, and of the coast of Florida, and for other purposes, has been
executed so far as the appropriation would admit. Those of the 3d of
March last, authorizing the establishment of a navy yard and depot on
the coast of Florida, in the Gulf of Mexico, and authorizing the
building of ten sloops of war, and for other purposes, are in the
course of execution, for the particulars of which and other objects
connected with this Department I refer to the report of the Secretary
of the Navy, herewith communicated.

A report from the Post Master General is also submitted, exhibiting the
present flourishing condition of that Department. For the first time
for many years the receipts for the year ending on the first of July
last exceeded the expenditures during the same period to the amount of
more than $45,000. Other facts equally creditable to the administration
of this Department are that in two years from July 1st, 1823, an
improvement of more than $185,000 in its pecuniary affairs has been
realized; that in the same interval the increase of the transportation
of the mail has exceeded 1,500,000 miles annually, and that 1,040 new
post offices have been established. It hence appears that under
judicious management the income from this establishment may be relied
on as fully adequate to defray its expenses, and that by the
discontinuance of post roads altogether unproductive, others of more
useful character may be opened, 'til the circulation of the mail shall
keep pace with the spread of our population, and the comforts of
friendly correspondence, the exchanges of internal traffic, and the
lights of the periodical press shall be distributed to the remotest
corners of the Union, at a charge scarcely perceptible to any
individual, and without the cost of a dollar to the public Treasury.

Upon this first occasion of addressing the Legislature of the Union,
with which I have been honored, in presenting to their view the
execution so far as it has been effected of the measures sanctioned by
them for promoting the internal improvement of our country, I can not
close the communication without recommending to their calm and
persevering consideration the general principle in a more enlarged
extent. The great object of the institution of civil government is the
improvement of the condition of those who are parties to the social
compact, and no government, in what ever form constituted, can
accomplish the lawful ends of its institution but in proportion as it
improves the condition of those over whom it is established. Roads and
canals, by multiplying and facilitating the communications and
intercourse between distant regions and multitudes of men, are among
the most important means of improvement. But moral, political,
intellectual improvement are duties assigned by the Author of Our
Existence to social no less than to individual man.

For the fulfillment of those duties governments are invested with
power, and to the attainment of the end--the progressive improvement of
the condition of the governed--the exercise of delegated powers is a
duty as sacred and indispensable as the usurpation of powers not
granted is criminal and odious.

Among the first, perhaps the very first, instrument for the improvement
of the condition of men is knowledge, and to the acquisition of much of
the knowledge adapted to the wants, the comforts, and enjoyments of
human life public institutions and seminaries of learning are
essential. So convinced of this was the first of my predecessors in
this office, now first in the memory, as, living, he was first in the
hearts, of our country-men, that once and again in his addresses to the
Congresses with whom he cooperated in the public service he earnestly
recommended the establishment of seminaries of learning, to prepare for
all the emergencies of peace and war--a national university and a
military academy. With respect to the latter, had he lived to the
present day, in turning his eyes to the institution at West Point he
would have enjoyed the gratification of his most earnest wishes; but in
surveying the city which has been honored with his name he would have
seen the spot of earth which he had destined and bequeathed to the use
and benefit of his country as the site for a university still bare and

In assuming her station among the civilized nations of the earth it
would seem that our country had contracted the engagement to contribute
her share of mind, of labor, and of expense to the improvement of those
parts of knowledge which lie beyond the reach of individual
acquisition, and particularly to geographical and astronomical science.
Looking back to the history only of the half century since the
declaration of our independence, and observing the generous emulation
with which the Governments of France, Great Britain, and Russia have
devoted the genius, the intelligence, the treasures of their respective
nations to the common improvement of the species in these branches of
science, is it not incumbent upon us to inquire whether we are not
bound by obligations of a high and honorable character to contribute
our portion of energy and exertion to the common stock? The voyages of
discovery prosecuted in the course of that time at the expense of those
nations have not only redounded to their glory, but to the improvement
of human knowledge.

We have been partakers of that improvement and owe for it a sacred
debt, not only of gratitude, but of equal or proportional exertion in
the same common cause. Of the cost of these undertakings, if the mere
expenditures of outfit, equipment, and completion of the expeditions
were to be considered the only charges, it would be unworthy of a great
and generous nation to take a second thought. One hundred expeditions
of circumnavigation like those of Cook and La Prouse would not burden
the exchequer of the nation fitting them out so much as the ways and
means of defraying a single campaign in war. But if we take into
account the lives of those benefactors of man-kind of which their
services in the cause of their species were the purchase, how shall the
cost of those heroic enterprises be estimated, and what compensation
can be made to them or to their countries for them? Is it not by
bearing them in affectionate remembrance? Is it not still more by
imitating their example--by enabling country-men of our own to pursue
the same career and to hazard their lives in the same cause?

In inviting the attention of Congress to the subject of internal
improvements upon a view thus enlarged it is not my desire to recommend
the equipment of an expedition for circumnavigating the globe for
purposes of scientific research and inquiry. We have objects of useful
investigation nearer home, and to which our cares may be more
beneficially applied. The interior of our own territories has yet been
very imperfectly explored. Our coasts along many degrees of latitude
upon the shores of the Pacific Ocean, though much frequented by our
spirited commercial navigators, have been barely visited by our public
ships. The River of the West, first fully discovered and navigated by a
country-man of our own, still bears the name of the ship in which he
ascended its waters, and claims the protection of our armed national
flag at its mouth. With the establishment of a military post there or
at some other point of that coast, recommended by my predecessor and
already matured in the deliberations of the last Congress, I would
suggest the expediency of connecting the equipment of a public ship for
the exploration of the whole north-west coast of this continent.

The establishment of an uniform standard of weights and measures was
one of the specific objects contemplated in the formation of our
Constitution, and to fix that standard was on of the powers delegated
by express terms in that instrument to Congress. The Governments of
Great Britain and France have scarcely ceased to be occupied with
inquiries and speculations on the same subject since the existence of
our Constitution, and with them it has expanded into profound,
laborious, and expensive researches into the figure of the earth and
the comparative length of the pendulum vibrating seconds in various
latitudes from the equator to the pole. These researches have resulted
in the composition and publication of several works highly interesting
to the cause of science. The experiments are yet in the process of
performance. Some of them have recently been made on our own shores,
within the walls of one of our own colleges, and partly by one of our
own fellow citizens. It would be honorable to our country if the sequel
of the same experiments should be countenanced by the patronage of our
Government, as they have hitherto been by those of France and Britain.

Connected with the establishment of an university, or separate from it,
might be undertaken the erection of an astronomical observatory, with
provision for the support of an astronomer, to be in constant
attendance of observation upon the phenomena of the heavens, and for
the periodical publication of his observances. It is with no feeling of
pride as an American that the remark may be made that on the
comparatively small territorial surface of Europe there are existing
upward of 130 of these light-houses of the skies, while throughout the
whole American hemisphere there is not one. If we reflect a moment upon
the discoveries which in the last four centuries have been made in the
physical constitution of the universe by the means of these buildings
and of observers stationed in them, shall we doubt of their usefulness
to every nation? And while scarcely a year passes over our heads
without bringing some new astronomical discovery to light, which we
must fain receive at second hand from Europe, are we not cutting
ourselves off from the means of returning light for light while we have
neither observatory nor observer upon our half of the globe and the
earth revolves in perpetual darkness to our unsearching eyes?

When, on October 25th, 1791, the first President of the United States
announced to Congress the result of the first enumeration of the
inhabitants of this Union, he informed them that the returns gave the
pleasing assurance that the population of the United States bordered on
4,000,000 persons. At the distance of 30 years from that time the last
enumeration, five years since completed, presented a population
bordering on 10,000,000. Perhaps of all the evidence of a prosperous
and happy condition of human society the rapidity of the increase of
population is the most unequivocal. But the demonstration of our
prosperity rests not alone upon this indication.

Our commerce, our wealth, and the extent of our territories have
increased in corresponding proportions, and the number of independent
communities associated in our Federal Union has since that time nearly
doubled. The legislative representation of the States and people in the
two Houses of Congress has grown with the growth of their constituent
bodies. The House, which then consisted of 65 members, now numbers
upward of 200. The Senate, which consisted of 26 members, has now 48.
But the executive and, still more, the judiciary departments are yet in
a great measure confined to their primitive organization, and are now
not adequate to the urgent wants of a still growing community.

The naval armaments, which at an early period forced themselves upon
the necessities of the Union, soon led to the establishment of a
Department of the Navy. But the Departments of Foreign Affairs and of
the Interior, which early after the formation of the Government had
been united in one, continue so united to this time, to the
unquestionable detriment of the public service. The multiplication of
our relations with the nations and Governments of the Old World has
kept pace with that of our population and commerce, while within the
last ten years a new family of nations in our own hemisphere has arisen
among the inhabitants of the earth, with whom our intercourse,
commercial and political, would of itself furnish occupation to an
active and industrious department.

The constitution of the judiciary, experimental and imperfect as it was
even in the infancy of our existing Government, is yet more inadequate
to the administration of national justice at our present maturity. Nine
years have elapsed since a predecessor in this office, now not the
last, the citizen who, perhaps, of all others throughout the Union
contributed most to the formation and establishment of our
Constitution, in his valedictory address to Congress, immediately
preceding his retirement from public life, urgently recommended the
revision of the judiciary and the establishment of an additional
executive department. The exigencies of the public service and its
unavoidable deficiencies, as now in exercise, have added yearly
cumulative weight to the considerations presented by him as persuasive
to the measure, and in recommending it to your deliberations I am happy
to have the influence of this high authority in aid of the undoubting
convictions of my own experience.

The laws relating to the administration of the Patent Office are
deserving of much consideration and perhaps susceptible of some
improvement. The grant of power to regulate the action of Congress upon
this subject has specified both the end to be obtained and the means by
which it is to be effected, "to promote the progress of science and
useful arts by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the
exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries". If an
honest pride might be indulged in the reflection that on the records of
that office are already found inventions the usefulness of which has
scarcely been transcended in the annals of human ingenuity, would not
its exultation be allayed by the inquiry whether the laws have
effectively insured to the inventors the reward destined to them by the
Constitution--even a limited term of exclusive right to their

On December 24th, 1799, it was resolved by Congress that a marble
monument should be erected by the United States in the Capitol at the
city of Washington; that the family of General Washington should be
requested to permit his body to be deposited under it, and that the
monument be so designed as to commemorate the great events of his
military and political life. In reminding Congress of this resolution
and that the monument contemplated by it remains yet without execution,
I shall indulge only the remarks that the works at the Capitol are
approaching to completion; that the consent of the family, desired by
the resolution, was requested and obtained; that a monument has been
recently erected in this city over the remains of another distinguished
patriot of the Revolution, and that a spot has been reserved within the
walls where you are deliberating for the benefit of this and future
ages, in which the mortal remains may be deposited of him whose spirit
hovers over you and listens with delight to every act of the
representatives of his nation which can tend to exalt and adorn his and
their country.

The Constitution under which you are assembled is a charter of limited
powers. After full and solemn deliberation upon all or any of the
objects which, urged by an irresistible sense of my own duty, I have
recommended to your attention should you come to the conclusion that,
however desirable in themselves, the enactment of laws for effecting
them would transcend the powers committed to you by that venerable
instrument which we are all bound to support, let no consideration
induce you to assume the exercise of powers not granted to you by the

But if the power to exercise exclusive legislation in all cases what so
ever over the District of Columbia; if the power to lay and collect
taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts and provide for
the common defense and general welfare of the United States; if the
power to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the several
States and with the Indian tribes, to fix the standard of weights and
measures, to establish post offices and post roads, to declare war, to
raise and support armies, to provide and maintain a navy, to dispose of
and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or
other property belonging to the United States, and to make all laws
which shall be necessary and proper for carrying these powers into
execution--if these powers and others enumerated in the Constitution
may be effectually brought into action by laws promoting the
improvement of agriculture, commerce, and manufactures, the cultivation
and encouragement of the mechanic and of the elegant arts, the
advancement of literature, and the progress of the sciences, ornamental
and profound, to refrain from exercising them for the benefit of the
people themselves would be to hide in the earth the talent committed to
our charge--would be treachery to the most sacred of trusts.

The spirit of improvement is abroad upon the earth. It stimulates the
hearts and sharpens the faculties not of our fellow citizens alone, but
of the nations of Europe and of their rulers. While dwelling with
pleasing satisfaction upon the superior excellence of our political
institutions, let us not be unmindful that liberty is power; that the
nation blessed with the largest portion of liberty must in proportion
to its numbers be the most powerful nation upon earth, and that the
tenure of power by man is, in the moral purposes of his Creator, upon
condition that it shall be exercised to ends of beneficence, to improve
the condition of himself and his fellow men.

While foreign nations less blessed with that freedom which is power
than ourselves are advancing with gigantic strides in the career of
public improvement, were we to slumber in indolence or fold up our arms
and proclaim to the world that we are palsied by the will of our
constituents, would it not be to cast away the bounties of Providence
and doom ourselves to perpetual inferiority? In the course of the year
now drawing to its close we have beheld, under the auspices and at the
expense of one State of this Union, a new university unfolding its
portals to the sons of science and holding up the torch of human
improvement to eyes that seek the light. We have seen under the
persevering and enlightened enterprise of another State the waters of
our Western lakes mingle with those of the ocean. If undertakings like
these have been accomplished in the compass of a few years by the
authority of single members of our Confederation, can we, the
representative authorities of the whole Union, fall behind our fellow
servants in the exercise of the trust committed to us for the benefit
of our common sovereign by the accomplishment of works important to the
whole and to which neither the authority nor the resources of any one
State can be adequate?

Finally, fellow citizens, I shall await with cheering hope and faithful
cooperation the result of your deliberations, assured that, without
encroaching upon the powers reserved to the authorities of the
respective States or to the people, you will, with a due sense of your
obligations to your country and of the high responsibilities weighing
upon yourselves, give efficacy to the means committed to you for the
common good. And may He who searches the hearts of the children of men
prosper your exertions to secure the blessings of peace and promote the
highest welfare of your country.



State of the Union Address
John Quincy Adams
December 5, 1826

Fellow Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

The assemblage of the representatives of our Union in both Houses of
the Congress at this time occurs under circumstances calling for the
renewed homage of our grateful acknowledgments to the Giver of All
Good. With the exceptions incidental to the most felicitous condition
of human existence, we continue to be highly favored in all the
elements which contribute to individual comfort and to national
prosperity. In the survey of our extensive country we have generally to
observe abodes of health and regions of plenty. In our civil and
political relations we have peace without and tranquillity within our
borders. We are, as a people, increasing with unabated rapidity in
population, wealth, and national resources, and whatever differences of
opinion exist among us with regard to the mode and the means by which
we shall turn the beneficence of Heaven to the improvement of our own
condition, there is yet a spirit animating us all which will not suffer
the bounties of Providence to be showered upon us in vain, but will
receive them with grateful hearts, and apply them with unwearied hands
to the advancement of the general good.

Of the subjects recommended to Congress at their last session, some
were then definitively acted upon. Others, left unfinished, but partly
matured, will recur to your attention without needing a renewal of
notice from me. The purpose of this communication will be to present to
your view the general aspect of our public affairs at this moment and
the measures which have been taken to carry into effect the intentions
of the Legislature as signified by the laws then and heretofore

In our intercourse with the other nations of the earth we have still
the happiness of enjoying peace and a general good understanding,
qualified, however, in several important instances by collisions of
interest and by unsatisfied claims of justice, to the settlement of
which the constitutional interposition of the legislative authority may
become ultimately indispensable.

By the decease of the Emperor Alexander of Russia, which occurred
contemporaneously with the commencement of the last session of
Congress, the United States have been deprived of a long tried, steady,
and faithful friend. Born to the inheritance of absolute power and
trained in the school of adversity, from which no power on earth,
however absolute, is exempt, that monarch from his youth had been
taught to feel the force and value of public opinion and to be sensible
that the interests of his own Government would best be promoted by a
frank and friendly intercourse with this Republic, as those of his
people would be advanced by a liberal intercourse with our country. A
candid and confidential interchange of sentiments between him and the
Government of the United States upon the affairs of Southern America
took place at a period not long preceding his demise, and contributed
to fix that course of policy which left to the other Governments of
Europe no alternative but that of sooner or later recognizing the
independence of our southern neighbors, of which the example had by the
United States already been set.

The ordinary diplomatic communications between his successor, the
Emperor Nicholas, and the United States have suffered some interruption
by the illness, departure, and subsequent decease of his minister
residing here, who enjoyed, as he merited, the entire confidence of his
new sovereign, as he had eminently responded to that of his
predecessor. But we have had the most satisfactory assurances that the
sentiments of the reigning Emperor toward the United States are
altogether conformable to those which had so long and constantly
animated his imperial brother, and we have reason to hope that they
will serve to cement that harmony and good understanding between the
two nations which, founded in congenial interests, can not but result
in the advancement of the welfare and prosperity of both.

Our relations of commerce and navigation with France are, by the
operation of the convention of June 24th, 1822, with that nation, in a
state of gradual and progressive improvement. Convinced by all our
experience, no less than by the principles of fair and liberal
reciprocity which the United States have constantly tendered to all the
nations of the earth as the rule of commercial intercourse which they
would universally prefer, that fair and equal competition is most
conducive to the interests of both parties, the United States in the
negotiation of that convention earnestly contended for a mutual
renunciation of discriminating duties and charges in the ports of the
two countries. Unable to obtain the immediate recognition of this
principle in its full extent, after reducing the duties of
discrimination so far as was found attainable it was agreed that at the
expiration of two years from October 1st, 1822, when the convention was
to go into effect, unless a notice of six months on either side should
be given to the other that the convention itself must terminate, those
duties should be reduced one quarter, and that this reduction should be
yearly repeated, until all discrimination should cease, while the
convention itself should continue in force. By the effect of this
stipulation three quarters of the discriminating duties which had been
levied by each party upon the vessels of the other in its ports have
already been removed; and on the first of next October, should the
convention be still in force, the remaining one quarter will be
discontinued. French vessels laden with French produce will be received
in our ports on the same terms as our own, and ours in return will
enjoy the same advantages in the ports of France.

By these approximations to an equality of duties and of charges not
only has the commerce between the two countries prospered, but friendly
dispositions have been on both sides encouraged and promoted. They will
continue to be cherished and cultivated on the part of the United
States. It would have been gratifying to have had it in my power to add
that the claims upon the justice of the French Government, involving
the property and the comfortable subsistence of many of our fellow
citizens, and which have been so long and so earnestly urged, were in a
more promising train of adjustment than at your last meeting; but their
condition remains unaltered.

With the Government of the Netherlands the mutual abandonment of
discriminating duties had been regulated by legislative acts on both
sides. The act of Congress of April 20th, 1818, abolished all
discriminating duties of impost and tonnage upon the vessels and
produce of the Netherlands in the ports of the United States upon the
assurance given by the Government of the Netherlands that all such
duties operating against the shipping and commerce of the United States
in that Kingdom had been abolished. These reciprocal regulations had
continued in force several years when the discriminating principle was
resumed by the Netherlands in a new and indirect form by a bounty of
10% in the shape of a return of duties to their national vessels, and
in which those of the United States are not permitted to participate.
By the act of Congress of January 7th, 1824, all discriminating duties
in the United States were again suspended, so far as related to the
vessels and produce of the Netherlands, so long as the reciprocal
exemption should be extended to the vessels and produce of the United
States in the Netherlands. But the same act provides that in the event
of a restoration of discriminating duties to operate against the
shipping and commerce of the United States in any of the foreign
countries referred to therein the suspension of discriminating duties
in favor of the navigation of such foreign country should cease and all
the provisions of the acts imposing discriminating foreign tonnage and
impost duties in the United States should revive and be in full force
with regard to that nation.

In the correspondence with the Government of the Netherlands upon this
subject they have contended that the favor shown to their own shipping
by this bounty upon their tonnage is not to be considered a
discriminating duty; but it can not be denied that it produces all the
same effects. Had the mutual abolition been stipulated by treaty, such
a bounty upon the national vessels could scarcely have been granted
consistent with good faith. Yet as the act of Congress of January 7th,
1824 has not expressly authorized the Executive authority to determine
what shall be considered as a revival of discriminating duties by a
foreign government to the disadvantage of the United States, and as the
retaliatory measure on our part, however just and necessary, may tend
rather to that conflict of legislation which we deprecate than to that
concert to which we invite all commercial nations, as most conducive to
their interest and our own, I have thought it more consistent with the
spirit of our institutions to refer to the subject again to the
paramount authority of the Legislature to decide what measure the
emergency may require than abruptly by proclamation to carry into
effect the minatory provisions of the act of 1824.

During the last session of Congress treaties of amity, navigation, and
commerce were negotiated and signed at this place with the Government
of Denmark, in Europe, and with the Federation of Central America, in
this hemisphere. These treaties then received the constitutional
sanction of the Senate, by the advice and consent to their
ratification. They were accordingly ratified on the part of the United
States, and during the recess of Congress have been also ratified by
the other respective contracting parties. The ratifications have been
exchanged, and they have been published by proclamations, copies of
which are herewith communicated to Congress.

These treaties have established between the contracting parties the
principles of equality and reciprocity in their broadest and most
liberal extent, each party admitting the vessels of the other into its
ports, laden with cargoes the produce or manufacture of any quarter of
the globe, upon the payment of the same duties of tonnage and impost
that are chargeable upon their own. They have further stipulated that
the parties shall hereafter grant no favor of navigation or commerce to
any other nation which shall not upon the same terms be granted to each
other, and that neither party will impose upon articles of merchandise
the produce or manufacture of the other any other or higher duties than
upon the like articles being the produce or manufacture of any other
country. To these principles there is in the convention with Denmark an
exception with regard to the colonies of that Kingdom in the arctic
seas, but none with regard to her colonies in the West Indies.

In the course of the last summer the term to which our last commercial
treaty with Sweden was limited has expired. A continuation of it is in
the contemplation of the Swedish Government, and is believed to be
desirable on the part of the United States. It has been proposed by the
King of Sweden that pending the negotiation of renewal the expired
treaty should be mutually considered as still in force, a measure which
will require the sanction of Congress to be carried into effect on our
part, and which I therefore recommend to your consideration.

With Prussia, Spain, Portugal, and, in general, all the European powers
between whom and the United States relations of friendly intercourse
have existed their condition has not materially varied since the last
session of Congress. I regret not to be able to say the same of our
commercial intercourse with the colonial possessions of Great Britain
in America. Negotiations of the highest importance to our common
interests have been for several years in discussion between the two
Governments, and on the part of the United States have been invariably
pursued in the spirit of candor and conciliation. Interests of great
magnitude and delicacy had been adjusted by the conventions of 1815 and
1818, while that of 1822, mediated by the late Emperor Alexander, had
promised a satisfactory compromise of claims which the Government of
the United States, in justice to the rights of a numerous class of
their citizens, was bound to sustain.

But with regard to the commercial intercourse between the United States
and the British colonies in America, it has been hitherto found
impracticable to bring the parties to an understanding satisfactory to
both. The relative geographical position and the respective products of
nature cultivated by human industry had constituted the elements of a
commercial intercourse between the United States and British America,
insular and continental, important to the inhabitants of both
countries; but it had been interdicted by Great Britain upon a
principle heretofore practiced upon by the colonizing nations of
Europe, of holding the trade of their colonies each in exclusive
monopoly to herself.

After the termination of the late war this interdiction had been
revived, and the British Government declined including this portion of
our intercourse with her possessions in the negotiation of the
convention of 1815. The trade was then carried on exclusively in
British vessels 'til the act of Congress, concerning navigation, of
1818 and the supplemental act of 1820 met the interdict by a
corresponding measure on the part of the United States. These measures,
not of retaliation, but of necessary self defense, were soon succeeded
by an act of Parliament opening certain colonial ports to the vessels
of the United States coming directly from them, and to the importation
from them of certain articles of our produce burdened with heavy
duties, and excluding some of the most valuable articles of our
exports. The United States opened their ports to British vessels from
the colonies upon terms as exactly corresponding with those of the act
of Parliament as in the relative position of the parties could be made,
and a negotiation was commenced by mutual consent, with the hope on our
part that a reciprocal spirit of accommodation and a common sentiment
of the importance of the trade to the interests of the inhabitants of
the two countries between whom it must be carried on would ultimately
bring the parties to a compromise with which both might be satisfied.
With this view the Government of the United States had determined to
sacrifice something of that entire reciprocity which in all commercial
arrangements with foreign powers they are entitled to demand, and to
acquiesce in some inequalities disadvantageous to ourselves rather than
to forego the benefit of a final and permanent adjustment of this
interest to the satisfaction of Great Britain herself. The negotiation,
repeatedly suspended by accidental circumstances, was, however, by
mutual agreement and express assent, considered as pending and to be
speedily resumed.

In the mean time another act of Parliament, so doubtful and ambiguous
in its import as to have been misunderstood by the officers in the
colonies who were to carry it into execution, opens again certain
colonial ports upon new conditions and terms, with a threat to close
them against any nation which may not accept those terms as prescribed
by the British Government. This act, passed July, 1825, not
communicated to the Government of the United States, not understood by
the British officers of the customs in the colonies where it was to be
enforced, was never the less submitted to the consideration of Congress
at their last session. With the knowledge that a negotiation upon the
subject had long been in progress and pledges given of its resumption
at an early day, it was deemed expedient to await the result of that
negotiation rather than to subscribe implicitly to terms the import of
which was not clear and which the British authorities themselves in
this hemisphere were not prepared to explain.

Immediately after the close of the last session of Congress one of our
most distinguished citizens was dispatched as envoy extraordinary and
minister plenipotentiary to Great Britain, furnished with instructions
which we could not doubt would lead to a conclusion of this long
controverted interest upon terms acceptable to Great Britain. Upon his
arrival, and before he had delivered his letters of credence, he was
bet by an order of the British council excluding from and after the
first of December now current the vessels of the United States from all
the colonial British ports excepting those immediately bordering on our
territories. In answer to his expostulations upon a measure thus
unexpected he is informed that according to the ancient maxims of
policy of European nations having colonies their trade is an exclusive
possession of the mother country; that all participation in it by other
nations is a boon or favor not forming a subject of negotiation, but to
be regulated by the legislative acts of the power owning the colony;
that the British Government therefore declines negotiating concerning
it, and that as the United States did not forthwith accept purely and
simply the terms offered by the act of Parliament of July, 1825, Great
Britain would not now admit the vessels of the United States even upon
the terms on which she has opened them to the navigation of other

We have been accustomed to consider the trade which we have enjoyed
with the British colonies rather as an interchange of mutual benefits
than as a mere favor received; that under every circumstance we have
given an ample equivalent. We have seen every other nation holding
colonies negotiate with other nations and grant them freely admission
to the colonies by treaty, and so far are the other colonizing nations
of Europe now from refusing to negotiate for trade with their colonies
that we ourselves have secured access to the colonies of more than one
of them by treaty. The refusal, however, of Great Britain to negotiate
leaves to the United States no other alternative than that of
regulating or interdicting altogether the trade on their part,
according as either measure may effect the interests of our own
country, and with that exclusive object I would recommend the whole
subject to your calm and candid deliberations.

It is hoped that our unavailing exertions to accomplish a cordial good
understanding on this interest will not have an unpropitious effect
upon the other great topics of discussion between the two Governments.
Our north-eastern and north-western boundaries are still unadjusted.
The commissioners under the 7th article of the treaty of Ghent have
nearly come to the close of their labors; nor can we renounce the
expectation, enfeebled as it is, that they may agree upon their report
to the satisfaction or acquiescence of both parties. The commission for
liquidating the claims for indemnity for slaves carried away after the
close of the war has been sitting, with doubtful prospects of success.
Propositions of compromise have, however, passed between the two
Governments, the result of which we flatter ourselves may yet prove
unsatisfactory. Our own dispositions and purposes toward Great Britain
are all friendly and conciliatory; nor can we abandon but with strong
reluctance the belief that they will ultimately meet a return, not of
favors, which we neither as nor desire, but of equal reciprocity and
good will.

With the American Governments of this hemisphere we continue to
maintain an intercourse altogether friendly, and between their nations
and ours that commercial interchange of which mutual benefit is the
source of mutual comfort and harmony the result is in a continual state
of improvement. The war between Spain and them since the total
expulsion of the Spanish military force from their continental
territories has been little more than nominal, and their internal
tranquillity, though occasionally menaced by the agitations which civil
wars never fail to leave behind them, has not been affected by any
serious calamity.

The congress of ministers from several of those nations which assembled
at Panama, after a short session there, adjourned to meet again at a
more favorable season in the neighborhood of Mexico. The decease of one
of our ministers on his way to the Isthmus, and the impediments of the
season, which delayed the departure of the other, deprived United
States of the advantage of being represented at the first meeting of
the congress. There is, however, no reason to believe that any
transactions of the congress were of a nature to affect injuriously the
interests of the United States or to require the interposition of our
ministers had they been present. Their absence has, indeed, deprived
United States of the opportunity of possessing precise and authentic
information of the treaties which were concluded at Panama; and the
whole result has confirmed me in the conviction of the expediency to
the United States of being represented at the congress. The surviving
member of the mission, appointed during your last session, has
accordingly proceeded to his destination, and a successor to his
distinguished and lamented associate will be nominated to the Senate. A
treaty of amity, navigation, and commerce has in the course of the last
summer been concluded by our minister plenipotentiary at Mexico with
the united states of that Confederacy, which will also be laid before
the Senate for their advice with regard to its ratification.

In adverting to the present condition of our fiscal concerns and to the
prospects of our revenue the first remark that calls our attention is
that they are less exuberantly prosperous than they were at the
corresponding period of the last year. The severe shock so extensively
sustained by the commercial and manufacturing interests in Great
Britain has not been without a perceptible recoil upon ourselves. A
reduced importation from abroad is necessarily succeeded by a reduced
return to the Treasury at home. The net revenue of the present year
will not equal that of the last, and the receipts of that which is to
come will fall short of those in the current year. The diminution,
however, is in part attributable to the flourishing condition of some
of our domestic manufactures, and so far is compensated by an
equivalent more profitable to the nation.

It is also highly gratifying to perceive that the deficiency in the
revenue, while it scarcely exceeds the anticipations of the last year's
estimate from the Treasury, has not interrupted the application of more
than $11 millions during the present year to the discharge of the
principal and interest of the debt, nor the reduction of upward of
$7,000,000 of the capital of the debt itself. The balance in the
Treasury on the first of January last was $5,201,650.43; the receipts
from that time to the 30th of September last were $19,585,932.50; the
receipts of the current quarter, estimated at $6,000,000, yield, with
the sums already received, a revenue of about $25,500,000 for the year;
the expenditures for the first 3 quarters of the year have amounted to
$18,714,226.66; the expenditures of the current quarter are expected,
including the $2,000,000 of the principal of the debt to be paid, to
balance the receipts; so that the expense of the year, amounting to
upward of $1,000,000 less than its income, will leave a proportionally
increased balance in the Treasury on January 1st, 1827, over that of
the first of January last; instead of $5,200,000 there will be

The amount of duties secured on merchandise imported from the commence
of the year 'til September 30 is estimated at $21,250,000, and the
amount that will probably accrue during the present quarter is
estimated at $4,250,000, making for the whole year $25,500,000, from
which the draw-backs being deducted will leave a clear revenue from the
customs receivable in the year 1827 of about $20,400,000, which, with
the sums to be received from the proceeds of public lands, the bank
dividends, and other incidental receipts, will form an aggregate of
about $23,000,000, a sum falling short of the whole expenses of the
present year little more than the portion of those expenditures applied
to the discharge of the public debt beyond the annual appropriation of
$10,000,000 by the act of March 3d, 1817. At the passage of that act
the public debt amounted to $123,500,000. On the first of January next
it will be short of $74,000,000. In the lapse of these 10 years
$50,000,000 of public debt, with the annual charge of upward of
$3,000,000 of interest upon them, have been extinguished. At the
passage of tat act, of the annual appropriation of $10,000,000,
$7,000,000 were absorbed in the payment of interest, and not more than
$3,000,000 went to reduce the capital of the debt. Of the same
$10,000,000, at this time scarcely $4,000,000 are applicable to the
interest and upward of $6,000,000 are effective in melting down the

Yet our experience has proved that a revenue consisting so largely of
imposts and tonnage ebbs and flows to an extraordinary extent, with all
the fluctuations incident to the general commerce of the world. It is
within our recollection that even in the compass of the same last ten
years the receipts of the Treasury were not adequate to the
expenditures of the year, and that in two successive years it was found
necessary to resort to loans to meet the engagements of the nation. The
returning tides of the succeeding years replenished the public coffers
until they have again begun to feel the vicissitude of a decline. To
produce these alternations of fullness and exhaustion the relative
operation of abundant or unfruitful seasons, the regulations of foreign
governments, political revolutions, the prosperous or decaying
condition of manufactures, commercial speculations, and many other
causes, not always to be traced, variously combine.

We have found the alternate swells and diminutions embracing periods of
from two to three years. The last period of depression to United States
was from 1819 to 1822. The corresponding revival was from 1823 to the
commencement of the present year. Still, we have no cause to apprehend
a depression comparable to that of the former period, or even to
anticipate a deficiency which will intrench upon the ability to apply
the annual $10 millions to the reduction of the debt. It is well for
us, however, to be admonished of the necessity of abiding by the maxims
of the most vigilant economy, and of resorting to all honorable and
useful expedients for pursuing with steady and inflexible perseverance
the total discharge of the debt.

Besides the $7,000,000 of the loans of 1813 which will have been
discharged in the course of the present year, there are $9,000,000
which by the terms of the contracts would have been and are now
redeemable. $13,000,000 more of the loan of 1814 will become redeemable
from and after the expiration of the present month, and $9,000,000
other from and after the close of the ensuing year. They constitute a
mass of $31,000,000, all bearing an interest of 6%, more than
$20,000,000 of which will be immediately redeemable, and the rest
within little more than a year. Leaving of this amount $15,000,000 to
continue at the interest of 6%, but to be paid off as far as shall be
found practicable in the years 1827 and 1828, there is scarcely a doubt
that the remaining $16,000,000 might within a few months be discharged
by a loan at not exceeding 5%, redeemable in the years 1829 and 1830.
By this operation a sum of nearly $500,000 may be saved to the nation,
and the discharge of the whole $31,000,000 within the four years may be
greatly facilitated if not wholly accomplished.

By an act of Congress of March 3d, 1825, a loan for the purpose now
referred to, or a subscription to stock, was authorized, at an interest
not exceeding 4.5%. But at that time so large a portion of the floating
capital of the country was absorbed in commercial speculations and so
little was left for investment in the stocks that the measure was but
partially successful. At the last session of Congress the condition of
the funds was still unpropitious to the measure; but the change so soon
afterwards occurred that, had the authority existed to redeem the $9
millions now redeemable by an exchange of stocks or a loan at 5%, it is
morally certain that it might have been effected, and with it a yearly
saving of $90,000.

With regard to the collection of the revenue of imposts, certain
occurrences have within the last year been disclosed in one or two of
our principal ports, which engaged the attention of Congress at their
last session and may hereafter require further consideration. Until
within a very few years the execution of the laws for raising the
revenue, like that of all our other laws, has been insured more by the
moral sense of the community than by the rigors of a jealous precaution
or by penal sanction. Confiding in the exemplary punctuality and
unsullied integrity of our importing merchants, a gradual relaxation
from the provisions of the collection laws, a close adherence to which
have caused inconvenience and expense to them, had long become
habitual, and indulgences had been extended universally because they
had never been abused. It may be worthy of your serious consideration
whether some further legislative provision may not be necessary to come
in aid of this state of unguarded security.

From the reports herewith communicated of the Secretaries of War and of
the Navy, with the subsidiary documents annexed to them, will be
discovered the present condition and administration of our military
establishment on the land and on the sea. The organization of the Army
having undergone no change since its reduction to the present peace
establishment in 1821, it remains only to observe that it is yet found
adequate to all the purposes for which a permanent armed force in time
of peace can be needed or useful. It may be proper to add that, from a
difference of opinion between the late President of the United States
and the Senate with regard to the construction of the act of Congress
of March 2d, 1821, to reduce and fix the military peace establishment
of the United States, it remains hitherto so far without execution that
no colonel has been appointed to command one of the regiments of
artillery. A supplementary or explanatory act of the Legislature
appears to be the only expedient practicable for removing the
difficulty of this appointment.

In a period of profound peace the conduct of the mere military
establishment forms but a very inconsiderable portion of the duties
devolving upon the administration of the Department of War. It will be
seen by the returns from the subordinate departments of the Army that
every branch of the service is marked with order, regularity, and
discipline; that from the commanding general through all the gradations
of superintendence the officers feel themselves to have been citizens
before they were soldiers, and that the glory of a republican army must
consist in the spirit of freedom, by which it is animated, and of
patriotism, by which it is impelled. It may be confidently stated that
the moral character of the Army is in a state of continual improvement,
and that all the arrangements for the disposal of its parts have a
constant reference to that end.

But to the War Department are attributed other duties, having, indeed,
relation to a future possible condition of war, but being purely
defensive, and in their tendency contributing rather to the security
and permanency of peace--the erection of the fortifications provided
for by Congress, and adapted to secure our shores from hostile
invasion; the distribution of the fund of public gratitude and justice
to the pensioners of the Revolutionary war; the maintenance of our
relations of peace and protection with the Indian tribes, and the
internal improvements and surveys for the location of roads and canals,
which during the last three sessions of Congress have engaged so much
of their attention, and may engross so large a share of their future
benefactions to our country.

By the act of April 30th, 1824, suggested and approved by my
predecessor, the sum of $30,000 was appropriated for the purpose of
causing to be made the necessary surveys, plans, and estimates of the
routes of such roads and canals as the President of the United States
might deem of national importance in a commercial or military point of
view, or necessary for the transportation of the public mail. The
surveys, plans, and estimates for each, when completed, will be laid
before Congress.

In execution of this act a board of engineers was immediately
instituted, and have been since most assiduously and constantly
occupied in carrying it into effect. The first object to which their
labors were directed, by order of the late President, was the
examination of the country between the tide waters of the Potomac, the
Ohio, and Lake Erie, to ascertain the practicability of a communication
between them, to designate the most suitable route for the same, and to
form plans and estimates in detail of the expense of execution.

On March 2d, 1825, they made their first report, which was immediately
communicated to Congress, and in which they declared that having
maturely considered the circumstances observed by them personally, and
carefully studied the results of such of the preliminary surveys as
were then completed, they were decidedly of opinion that the
communication was practicable.

At the last session of Congress, before the board of engineers were
enabled to make up their second report containing a general plan and
preparatory estimate for the work, the Committee of the House of
Representatives upon Roads and Canals closed the session with a report
expressing the hope that the plan and estimate of the board of
engineers might at this time be prepared, and that the subject be
referred to the early and favorable consideration of Congress at their
present session. That expected report of the board of engineers is
prepared, and will forthwith be laid before you.

Under the resolution of Congress authorizing the Secretary of War to
have prepared a complete system of cavalry tactics, and a system of
exercise and instruction of field artillery, for the use of the militia
of the United States, to be reported to Congress at the present
session, a board of distinguished officers of the Army and of the
militia has been convened, whose report will be submitted to you with
that of the Secretary of War. The occasion was thought favorable for
consulting the same board, aided by the results of a correspondence
with the governors of the several States and Territories and other
citizens of intelligence and experience, upon the acknowledged
defective condition of our militia system, and of the improvements of
which it is susceptible. The report of the board upon this subject is
also submitted for your consideration.

In the estimates of appropriations for the ensuing year upward of $5
millions will be submitted for the expenditures to be paid from the
Department of War. Less than two fifths of this will be applicable to
the maintenance and support of the Army. $1,500,000, in the form of
pensions, goes as a scarcely adequate tribute to the services and
sacrifices of a former age, and a more than equal sum invested in
fortifications, or for the preparations of internal improvement,
provides for the quiet, the comfort, and happier existence of the ages
to come. The appropriations to indemnify those unfortunate remnants of
another race unable alike to share in the enjoyments and to exist in
the presence of civilization, though swelling in recent years to a
magnitude burdensome to the Treasury, are generally not without their
equivalents in profitable value, or serve to discharge the Union from
engagements more burdensome than debt.

In like manner the estimate of appropriations for the Navy Department
will present an aggregate sum of upward of $3,000,000. About half of
these, however, covers the current expenditures of the Navy in actual
service, and half constitutes a fund of national property, the pledge
of our future glory and defense. It was scarcely one short year after
the close of the late war, and when the burden of its expenses and
charges was weighing heaviest upon the country, that Congress, by the
act of April 29th, 1816, appropriated $1,000,000 annually for eight
years to the gradual increase of the Navy. At a subsequent period this
annual appropriation was reduced to $500,000 for six years, of which
the present year is the last. A yet more recent appropriation the last
two years, for building ten sloops of war, has nearly restored the
original appropriation of 1816 of $1,000,000 for every year.

The result is before United States all. We have 12 line-of-battle
ships, 20 frigates, and sloops of war in proportion, which, with a few
months preparation, may present a line of floating fortifications along
the whole range of our coast ready to meet any invader who might
attempt to set foot upon our shores. Combining with a system of
fortifications upon the shores themselves, commenced about the same
time under the auspices of my immediate predecessor, and hitherto
systematically pursued, it has placed in our possession the most
effective sinews of war and has left us at once an example and a lesson
from which our own duties may be inferred.

The gradual increase of the Navy was the principle of which the act of
April 29th, 1816, was the first development. It was the introduction of
a system to act upon the character and history of our country for an
indefinite series of ages. It was a declaration of that Congress to
their constituents and to posterity that it was the destiny and the
duty of these confederated States to become in regular process of time
and by no petty advances a great naval power. That which they proposed
to accomplish in eight years is rather to be considered as the measure
of their means that the limitation of their design. They looked forward
for a term of years sufficient for the accomplishment of a definite
portion of their purpose, and they left to their successors to fill up
the canvas of which they had traced the large and prophetic outline.
The ships of the line and frigates which they had in contemplation will
be shortly completed. The time which they had allotted for the
accomplishment of the work has more than elapsed. It remains for your
consideration how their successors may contribute their portion of toil
and of treasure for the benefit of the succeeding age in the gradual
increase of our Navy.

There is perhaps no part of the exercise of the constitutional powers
of the Federal Government which has given more general satisfaction to
the people of the Union than this. The system has not been thus
vigorously introduced and hitherto sustained to be now departed from or
abandoned. In continuing to provide for the gradual increase of the
Navy it may not be necessary or expedient to add for the present any
more to the number of our ships; but should you deem it advisable to
continue the yearly appropriation of $0.5 millions to the same objects,
it may be profitably expended in a providing a supply of timber to be
seasoned and other materials for future use in the construction of
docks or in laying the foundations of a school for naval education, as
to the wisdom of Congress either of those measures may appear to claim
the preference.

Of the small portions of this Navy engaged in actual service during the
peace, squadrons have continued to be maintained in the Pacific Ocean,
in the West India seas, and in the Mediterranean, to which has been
added a small armament to cruise on the eastern coast of South America.
In all they have afforded protection to our commerce, have contributed
to make our country advantageously known to foreign nations, have
honorably employed multitudes of our sea men in the service of their
country, and have inured numbers of youths of the rising generation to
lives of manly hardihood and of nautical experience and skill.

The piracies with which the West India seas were for several years
infested have been totally suppressed, but in the Mediterranean they
have increased in a manner afflictive to other nations, and but for the
continued presence of our squadron would probably have been distressing
to our own.

The war which has unfortunately broken out between the Republic of
Buenos Ayres and the Brazilian Government has given rise to very great
irregularities among the naval officers of the latter, by whom
principles in relation to blockades and to neutral navigation have been
brought forward to which we can not subscribe and which our own
commanders have found it necessary to resist. From the friendly
disposition toward the United States constantly manifested by the
Emperor of Brazil, and the very useful and friendly commercial
intercourse between the United States and his dominions, we have reason
to believe that the just reparation demanded for the injuries sustained
by several of our citizens from some of his officers will not be
withheld. Abstracts from the recent dispatches of the commanders of our
several squadrons are communicated with the report of the Secretary of
the Navy to Congress.

A report from the Post Master General is likewise communicated,
presenting in a highly satisfactory manner the result of a vigorous,
efficient, and economical administration of that Department. The
revenue of the office, even of the year including the latter half of
1824 and the first half of 1825, had exceeded its expenditures by a sum
of more than $45,000. That of the succeeding year has been still more
productive. The increase of the receipts in the year preceding the
first of July last over that of the year before exceeds $136,000, and
the excess of the receipts over the expenditures of the year has
swollen from $45,000 to yearly $80,000.

During the same period contracts for additional transportation of the
mail in stages for about 260,000 miles have been made, and for 70,000
miles annually on horse back. 714 new post offices have been
established within the year, and the increase of revenue within the
last three years, as well as the augmentation of the transportation by
mail, is more than equal to the whole amount of receipts and of mail
conveyance at the commencement of the present century, when the seat of
the General Government was removed to this place. When we reflect that
the objects effected by the transportation of the mail are among the
choicest comforts and enjoyments of social life, it is pleasing to
observe that the dissemination of them to every corner of our country
has out-stripped in their increase even the rapid march of our

By the treaties with France and Spain, respectively ceding Louisiana
and the Floridas to the United States, provision was made for the
security of land titles derived from the Governments of those nations.
Some progress has been made under the authority of various acts of
Congress in the ascertainment and establishment of those titles, but
claims to a very large extent remain unadjusted. The public faith no
less than the just rights of individuals and the interest of the
community itself appears to require further provision for the speedy
settlement of those claims, which I therefore recommend to the care and
attention of the Legislature.

In conformity with the provisions of the act of May 20th, 1825, to
provide for erecting a penitentiary in the District of Columbia, and
for other purposes, three commissioners were appointed to select a site
for the erection of a penitentiary for the District, and also a site in
the county of Alexandria for a county jail, both of which objects have
been effected. The building of the penitentiary has been commenced, and
is in such a degree of forwardness as to promise that it will be
completed before the meeting of the next Congress. This consideration
points to the expediency of maturing at the present session a system
for the regulation and government of the penitentiary, and of defining
a system for the regulation and government of the penitentiary, and of
defining the class of offenses which shall be punishable by confinement
in this edifice.

In closing this communication I trust that it will not be deemed
inappropriate to the occasion and purposes upon which we are here
assembled to indulge a momentary retrospect, combining in a single
glance the period of our origin as a national confederation with that
of our present existence, at the precise interval of half a century
from each other. Since your last meeting at this place the 50th
anniversary of the day when our independence was declared has been
celebrated throughout our land, and on that day, while every heart was
bounding with joy and every voice was tuned to gratulation, amid the
blessings of freedom and independence which the sires of a former age
had handed down to their children, two of the principal actors in that
solemn scene--the hand that penned the ever memorable Declaration and
the voice that sustained it in debate--were by one summons, at the
distance of 700 miles from each other, called before the Judge of All
to account for their deeds done upon earth. They departed cheered by
the benedictions of their country, to whom they left the inheritance of
their fame and the memory of their bright example.

If we turn our thoughts to the condition of their country, in the
contrast of the first and last day of that half century, how
resplendent and sublime is the transition from gloom to glory! Then,
glancing through the same lapse of time, in the condition of the
individuals we see the first day marked with the fullness and vigor of
youth, in the pledge of their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred
honor to the cause of freedom and of man-kind; and on the last,
extended on the bed of death, with but sense and sensibility left to
breathe a last aspiration to Heaven of blessing upon their country, may
we not humbly hope that to them too it was a pledge of transition from
gloom to glory, and that while their mortal vestments were sinking into
the clod of the valley their emancipated spirits were ascending to the
bosom of their God!



State of the Union Address
John Quincy Adams
December 4, 1827

Fellow Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

A revolution of the seasons has nearly been completed since the
representatives of the people and States of this Union were last
assembled at this place to deliberate and to act upon the common
important interests of their constituents. In that interval the never
slumbering eye of a wise and beneficent Providence has continued its
guardian care over the welfare of our beloved country; the blessing of
health has continued generally to prevail throughout the land; the
blessing of peace with our brethren of the human race has been enjoyed
without interruption; internal quiet has left our fellow citizens in
the full enjoyment of all their rights and in the free exercise of all
their faculties, to pursue the impulse of their nature and the
obligation of their duty in the improvement of their own condition; the
productions of the soil, the exchanges of commerce, the vivifying
labors of human industry, have combined to mingle in our cup a portion
of enjoyment as large and liberal as the indulgence of Heaven has
perhaps ever granted to the imperfect state of man upon earth; and as
the purest of human felicity consists in its participation with others,
it is no small addition to the sum of our national happiness at this
time that peace and prosperity prevail to a degree seldom experienced
over the whole habitable globe, presenting, though as yet with painful
exceptions, a foretaste of that blessed period of promise when the lion
shall lie down with the lamb and wars shall be no more.

To preserve, to improve, and to perpetuate the sources and to direct in
their most effective channels the streams which contribute to the
public weal is the purpose for which Government was instituted. Objects
of deep importance to the welfare of the Union are constantly recurring
to demand the attention of the Federal Legislature, and they call with
accumulated interest at the first meeting of the two Houses after their
periodical renovation. To present to their consideration from time to
time subjects in which the interests of the nation are most deeply
involved, and for the regulation of which the legislative will is alone
competent, is a duty prescribed by the Constitution, to the performance
of which the first meeting of the new Congress is a period eminently
appropriate, and which it is now my purpose to discharge.

Our relations of friendship with the other nations of the earth,
political and commercial, have been preserved unimpaired, and the
opportunities to improve them have been cultivated with anxious and
unremitting attention. A negotiation upon subjects of high and delicate
interest with the Government of Great Britain has terminated in the
adjustment of some of the questions at issue upon satisfactory terms
and the postponement of others for future discussion and agreement.

The purposes of the convention concluded at St. Petersburg on July
12th, 1822, under the mediation of the late Emperor Alexander, have
been carried into effect by a subsequent convention, concluded at
London on November 13th, 1826, the ratifications of which were
exchanged at that place on February 6th, 1827. A copy of the
proclamations issued on March 19th, 1827, publishing this convention,
is herewith communicated to Congress. The sum of $1,204,960, therein
stipulated to be paid to the claimants of indemnity under the first
article of the treaty of Ghent, has been duly received, and the
commission instituted, conformably to the act of Congress of March 2d,
1827, for the distribution of the indemnity of the persons entitled to
receive it are now in session and approaching the consummation of their
labors. This final disposal of one of the most painful topics of
collision between the United States and Great Britain not only affords
an occasion of gratulation to ourselves, but has had the happiest
effect in promoting a friendly disposition and in softening asperities
upon other objects of discussion; nor ought it to pass without the
tribute of a frank and cordial acknowledgment of the magnanimity with
which an honorable nation, by the reparation of their own wrongs,
achieves a triumph more glorious than any field of blood can ever

The conventions of March 7th, 1815, and of October 20th, 1818, will
expire by their own limitation on October 20th, 1828. These have
regulated the direct commercial intercourse between the United States
and Great Britain upon terms of the most perfect reciprocity; and they
effected a temporary compromise of the respective rights and claims to
territory westward of the Rocky Mountains. These arrangements have been
continued for an indefinite period of time after the expiration of the
above mentioned conventions, leaving each party the liberty of
terminating them by giving twelve months' notice to the other.

The radical principle of all commercial intercourse between independent
nations is the mutual interest of both parties. It is the vital spirit
of trade itself; nor can it be reconciled to the nature of man or to
the primary laws of human society that any traffic should long be
willingly pursued of which all the advantages are on one side and all
the burdens on the other. Treaties of commerce have been found by
experience to be among the most effective instruments for promoting
peace and harmony between nations whose interests, exclusively
considered on either side, are brought into frequent collisions by
competition. In framing such treaties it is the duty of each party not
simply to urge with unyielding pertinacity that which suits its own
interest, but to concede liberally to that which is adapted to the
interest of the other.

To accomplish this, little more is generally required than a simple
observance of the rule of reciprocity, and were it possible for the
states-men of one nation by stratagem and management to obtain from
the weakness or ignorance of another an over-reaching treaty, such a
compact would prove an incentive to war rather than a bond of peace.

Our conventions with Great Britain are founded upon the principles of
reciprocity. The commercial intercourse between the two countries is
greater in magnitude and amount than between any two other nations on
the globe. It is for all purposes of benefit or advantage to both as
precious, and in all probability far more extensive, than if the
parties were still constituent parts of one and the same nation.
Treaties between such States, regulating the intercourse of peace
between them and adjusting interests of such transcendent importance to
both, which have been found in a long experience of years mutually
advantageous, should not be lightly cancelled or discontinued. Two
conventions for continuing in force those above mentioned have been
concluded between the plenipotentiaries of the two Governments on
August 6th, 1827, and will be forthwith laid before the Senate for the
exercise of their constitutional authority concerning them.

In the execution of the treaties of peace of November, 1782 and
September, 1783, between the United States and Great Britain, and which
terminated the war of our independence, a line of boundary was drawn as
the demarcation of territory between the two countries, extending over
nearly 20 degrees of latitude, and ranging over seas, lakes, and
mountains, then very imperfectly explored and scarcely opened to the
geographical knowledge of the age. In the progress of discovery and
settlement by both parties since that time several questions of
boundary between their respective territories have arisen, which have
been found of exceedingly difficult adjustment.

At the close of the last war with Great Britain four of these questions
pressed themselves upon the consideration of the negotiators of the
treaty of Ghent, but without the means of concluding a definitive
arrangement concerning them. They were referred to three separate
commissions consisting, of two commissioners, one appointed by each
party, to examine and decide upon their respective claims. In the event
of a disagreement between the commissioners, one appointed by each
party, to examine and decide upon their respective claims. In the event
of a disagreement between the commissioners it was provided that they
should make reports to their several Governments, and that the reports
should finally be referred to the decision of a sovereign the common
friend of both.

Of these commissions two have already terminated their sessions and
investigations, one by entire and the other by partial agreement. The
commissioners of the 5th article of the treaty of Ghent have finally
disagreed, and made their conflicting reports to their own Governments.
But from these reports a great difficulty has occurred in making up a
question to be decided by the arbitrator. This purpose has, however,
been effected by a 4th convention, concluded at London by the
plenipotentiaries of the two Governments on September 29th, 1827. It
will be submitted, together with the others, to the consideration of
the Senate.

While these questions have been pending incidents have occurred of
conflicting pretensions and of dangerous character upon the territory
itself in dispute between the two nations. By a common understanding
between the Governments it was agreed that no exercise of exclusive
jurisdiction by either party while the negotiation was pending should
change the state of the question of right to be definitively settled.
Such collision has, never the less, recently taken place by occurrences
the precise character of which has not yet been ascertained. A
communication from the governor of the State of Maine, with
accompanying documents, and a correspondence between the Secretary of
State and the minister of Great Britain on this subject are now
communicated. Measures have been taken to ascertain the state of the
facts more correctly by the employment of a special agent to visit the
spot where the alleged outrages have occurred, the result of those
inquiries, when received, will be transmitted to Congress.

While so many of the subjects of high interest to the friendly
relations between the two countries have been so far adjusted, it is a
matter of regret that their views respecting the commercial intercourse
between the United States and the British colonial possessions have not
equally approximated to a friendly agreement.

At the commencement of the last session of Congress they were informed
of the sudden and unexpected exclusion by the British Government of
access in vessels of the United States to all their colonial ports
except those immediately bordering upon our own territories. In the
amicable discussions which have succeeded the adoption of this measure
which, as it affected harshly the interests of the United States,
became subject of expostulation on our part, the principles upon which
its justification has been placed have been of a diversified character.
It has been at once ascribed to a mere recurrence to the old, long
established principle of colonial monopoly and at the same time to a
feeling of resentment because the offers of an act of Parliament
opening the colonial ports upon certain conditions had not been grasped
at with sufficient eagerness by an instantaneous conformity to them.

At a subsequent period it has been intimated that the new exclusion was
in resentment because a prior act of Parliament, of 1822, opening
certain colonial ports, under heavy and burdensome restrictions, to
vessels of the United States, had not been reciprocated by an admission
of British vessels from the colonies, and their cargoes, without any
restriction or discrimination what ever. But be the motive for the
interdiction what it may, the British Government have manifested no
disposition, either by negotiation or by corresponding legislative
enactments, to recede from it, and we have been given distinctly to
understand that neither of the bills which were under the consideration
of Congress at their last session would have been deemed sufficient in
their concessions to have been rewarded by any relaxation from the
British interdict. It is one of the inconveniences inseparably
connected with the attempt to adjust by reciprocal legislation
interests of this nature that neither party can know what would be
satisfactory to the other, and that after enacting a statute for the
avowed and sincere purpose of conciliation it will generally be found
utterly inadequate to the expectation of the other party, and will
terminate in mutual disappointment.

The session of Congress having terminated without any act upon the
subject, a proclamation was issued on March 17, 1827, conformably to
the provisions of the 6th section of the act of March 3rd, 1823
declaring the fact that the trade and intercourse authorized by the
British act of Parliament of June 24th, 1822, between the United States
and the British enumerated colonial ports had been by the subsequent
acts of Parliament of July 5th, 1825, and the order of council of July
27th, 1826 prohibited. The effect of this proclamation, by the terms of
the act under which it was issued, has been that each and every
provision of the act concerning navigation of April 18th, 1818, and of
the act supplementary thereto of May 15th, 1820, revived and is in full

Such, then is the present condition of the trade that, useful as it is
to both parties it can, with a single momentary exception, be carried
on directly by the vessels of neither. That exception itself is found
in a proclamation of the governor of the island of St. Christopher and
of the Virgin Islands, inviting for three months from August 28th, 1827
the importation of the articles of the produce of the United States
which constitute their export portion of this trade in the vessels of
all nations.

That period having already expired, the state of mutual interdiction
has again taken place. The British Government have not only declined
negotiation upon this subject, but by the principle they have assumed
with reference to it have precluded even the means of negotiation. It
becomes not the self respect of the United States either to solicit
gratuitous favors or to accept as the grant of a favor that for which
an ample equivalent is exacted. It remains to be determined by the
respective Governments whether the trade shall be opened by acts of
reciprocal legislation. It is, in the mean time, satisfactory to know
that apart from the inconvenience resulting from a disturbance of the
usual channels of trade no loss has been sustained by the commerce, the
navigation, or the revenue of the United States, and none of magnitude
is to be apprehended from this existing state of mutual interdict.

With the other maritime and commercial nations of Europe our
intercourse continues with little variation. Since the cessation by the
convention of June 24th, 1822, of all discriminating duties upon the
vessels of the United States and of France in either country our trade
with that nation has increased and is increasing. A disposition on the
part of France has been manifested to renew that negotiation, and in
acceding to the proposal we have expressed the wish that it might be
extended to other subjects upon which a good understanding between the
parties would be beneficial to the interests of both.

The origin of the political relations between the United States and
France is coeval with the first years of our independence. The memory
of it is interwoven with that of our arduous struggle for national
existence. Weakened as it has occasionally been since that time, it can
by us never be forgotten, and we should hail with exultation the moment
which should indicate a recollection equally friendly in spirit on the
part of France.

A fresh effort has recently been made by the minister of the United
States residing at Paris to obtain a consideration of the just claims
of citizens of the United States to the reparation of wrongs long since
committed, many of them frankly acknowledged and all of them entitled
upon every principle of justice to a candid examination. The proposal
last made to the French Government has been to refer the subject which
has formed an obstacle to this consideration to the determination of a
sovereign the common friend of both. To this offer no definitive answer
has yet been received, but the gallant and honorable spirit which has
at all times been the pride and glory of France will not ultimately
permit the demands of innocent sufferers to be extinguished in the mere
consciousness of the power to reject them.

A new treaty of amity, navigation, and commerce has been concluded with
the Kingdom of Sweden, which will be submitted to the Senate for their
advice with regard to its ratification. At a more recent date a
minister plenipotentiary from the Hanseatic Republics of Hamburg,
Lubeck, and Bremen has been received, charged with a special mission
for the negotiation of a treaty of amity and commerce between that
ancient and renowned league and the United States. This negotiation has
accordingly been commenced, and is now in progress, the result of which
will, if successful, be also submitted to the Senate for their

Since the accession of the Emperor Nicholas to the imperial throne of
all the Russias the friendly dispositions toward the United States so
constantly manifested by his predecessor have continued unabated, and
have been recently testified by the appointment of a minister
plenipotentiary to reside at this place. From the interest taken by
this Sovereign in behalf of the suffering Greeks and from the spirit
with which others of the great European powers are cooperating with him
the friends of freedom and of humanity may indulge the hope that they
will obtain relief from that most unequal of conflicts which they have
so long and so gallantly sustained; that they will enjoy the blessing
of self government, which by their sufferings in the cause of liberty
they have richly earned, and that their independence will be secured by
those liberal institutions of which their country furnished the
earliest examples in the history of man-kind, and which have
consecrated to immortal remembrance the very soil for which they are
now again profusely pouring forth their blood. The sympathies which the
people and Government of the United States have so warmly indulged with
their cause have been acknowledged by their Government in a letter of
thanks, which I have received from their illustrious President, a
translation of which is now communicated to Congress, the
representatives of that nation to whom this tribute of gratitude was
intended to be paid, and to whom it was justly due.

In the American hemisphere the cause of freedom and independence has
continued to prevail, and if signalized by none of those splendid
triumphs which had crowned with glory some of the preceding years it
has only been from the banishment of all external force against which
the struggle had been maintained. The shout of victory has been
superseded by the expulsion of the enemy over whom it could have been

Our friendly wishes and cordial good will, which have constantly
followed the southern nations of America in all the vicissitudes of
their war of independence, are succeeded by a solicitude equally ardent
and cordial that by the wisdom and purity of their institutions they
may secure to themselves the choicest blessings of social order and the
best rewards of virtuous liberty. Disclaiming alike all right and all
intention of interfering in those concerns which it is the prerogative
of their independence to regulate as to them shall seem fit, we hail
with joy every indication of their prosperity, of their harmony, of
their persevering and inflexible homage to those principles of freedom
and of equal rights which are alone suited to the genius and temper of
the American nations.

It has been, therefore, with some concern that we have observed
indications of intestine divisions in some of the Republics of the
south, and appearances of less union with one another than we believe
to be the interest of all. Among the results of this state of things
has been that the treaties concluded at Panama do not appear to have
been ratified by the contracting parties, and that the meeting of the
congress at Tacubaya has been indefinitely postponed. In accepting the
invitations to be represented at this congress, while a manifestation
was intended on the part of the United States of the most friendly
disposition toward the southern Republics by whom it had been proposed,
it was hoped that it would furnish an opportunity for bringing all the
nations of this hemisphere to the common acknowledgment and adoption of
the principles in the regulation of their internal relations which
would have secured a lasting peace and harmony between them and have
promoted the cause of mutual benevolence throughout the globe. But as
obstacles appear to have arisen to the reassembling of the congress,
one of the two ministers commissioned on the part of the United States
has returned to the bosom of his country, while the minister charged
with the ordinary mission to Mexico remains authorized to attend the
conferences of the congress when ever they may be resumed.

A hope was for a short time entertained that a treaty of peace actually
signed between the Government of Buenos Ayres and of Brazil would
supersede all further occasion for those collisions between belligerent
pretensions and neutral rights which are so commonly the result of
maritime war, and which have unfortunately disturbed the harmony of the
relations between the United States and the Brazilian Governments. At
their last session Congress were informed that some of the naval
officers of that Empire had advanced and practiced upon principles in
relation to blockades and to neutral navigation which we could not
sanction, and which our commanders found it necessary to resist. It
appears that they have not been sustained by the Government of Brazil
itself. Some of the vessels captured under the assumed authority of
these erroneous principles have been restored, and we trust that our
just expectations will be realized that adequate indemnity will be made
to all the citizens of the United States who have suffered by the
unwarranted captures which the Brazilian tribunals themselves have
pronounced unlawful.

In the diplomatic discussions at Rio de Janeiro of these wrongs
sustained by citizens of the United States and of others which seemed
as if emanating immediately from that Government itself the charge
d'affaires of the United States, under an impression that his
representations in behalf of the rights and interests of his country-
men were totally disregarded and useless, deemed it his duty, without
waiting for instructions, to terminate his official functions, to
demand his pass-ports, and return to the United States. This movement,
dictated by an honest zeal for the honor and interests of his country--
motives which operated exclusively on the mind of the officer who
resorted to it--has not been disapproved by me.

The Brazilian Government, however, complained of it as a measure for
which no adequate intentional cause had been given by them, and upon an
explicit assurance through their charge d'affaires residing here that a
successor to the late representative of the United States near that
Government, the appointment of whom they desired, should be received
and treated with the respect due to his character, and that indemnity
should be promptly made for all injuries inflicted on citizens of the
United States or their property contrary to the laws of nations, a
temporary commission as charge d'affaires to that country has been
issued, which it is hopes will entirely restore the ordinary diplomatic
intercourse between the two Governments and the friendly relations
between their respective nations.

Turning from the momentous concerns of our Union in its intercourse
with foreign nations to those of the deepest interest in the
administration of our internal affairs, we find the revenues of the
present year corresponding as nearly as might be expected with the
anticipations of the last, and presenting an aspect still more
favorable in the promise of the next.

The balance in the Treasury on January 1st, 1827 was $6,358,686.18. The
receipts from that day to September 30th, 1827, as near as the returns
of them yet received can show, amount to $16,886,581.32. The receipts
of the present quarter, estimated at $4,515,000, added to the above
form an aggregate of $21,400,000 of receipts.

The expenditures of the year may perhaps amount to $22,300,000
presenting a small excess over the receipts. But of these $22,000,000,
upward of $6,000,000 have been applied to the discharge of the
principal of the public debt, the whole amount of which, approaching
$74,000,000 on January 1st, 1827, will on January 1st, 1828 fall short
of $67,500,000. The balance in the Treasury on January 1st, 1828 it is
expected will exceed $5,450,000, a sum exceeding that of January 1st,
1825, though falling short of that exhibited on January 1st, 1827.

It was foreseen that the revenue of the present year 1827 would not
equal that of the last, which had itself been less than that of the
next preceding year. But the hope has been realized which was
entertained, that these deficiencies would in no wise interrupt the
steady operation of the discharge of the public debt by the annual
$10,000,000 devoted to that object by the act of March 3d, 1817.

The amount of duties secured on merchandise imported from the
commencement of the year until September 30th, 1827 is $21,226,000, and
the probably amount of that which will be secured during the remainder
of the year is $5,774,000, forming a sum total of $27,000,000. With the
allowances for draw-backs and contingent deficiencies which may occur,
though not specifically foreseen, we may safely estimate the receipts
of the ensuing year at $22,300,000--a revenue for the next equal to the
expenditure of the present year.

The deep solicitude felt by our citizens of all classes throughout the
Union for the total discharge of the public debt will apologize for the
earnestness with which I deem it my duty to urge this topic upon the
consideration of Congress--of recommending to them again the observance
of the strictest economy in the application of the public funds. The
depression upon the receipts of the revenue which had commenced with
the year 1826 continued with increased severity during the two first
quarters of the present year.

The returning tide began to flow with the third quarter, and, so far as
we can judge from experience, may be expected to continue through the
course of the ensuing year. In the mean time an alleviation from the
burden of the public debt will in the three years have been effected to
the amount of nearly $16,000,000, and the charge of annual interest
will have been reduced upward of $1,000,000. But among the maxims of
political economy which the stewards of the public moneys should never
suffer without urgent necessity to be transcended is that of keeping
the expenditures of the year within the limits of its receipts.

The appropriations of the two last years, including the yearly
$10,000,000 of the sinking fund, have each equaled the promised revenue
of the ensuing year. While we foresee with confidence that the public
coffers will be replenished from the receipts as fast as they will be
drained by the expenditures, equal in amount to those of the current
year, it should not be forgotten that they could ill suffer the
exhaustion of larger disbursements.

The condition of the Army and of all the branches of the public service
under the superintendence of the Secretary of War will be seen by the
report from that officer and the documents with which it is

During the last summer a detachment of the Army has been usefully and
successfully called to perform their appropriate duties. At the moment
when the commissioners appointed for carrying into execution certain
provisions of the treaty of August 19th, 1825, with various tribes of
the North Western Indians were about to arrive at the appointed place
of meeting the unprovoked murder of several citizens and other acts of
unequivocal hostility committed by a party of the Winnebago tribe, one
of those associated in the treaty, followed by indications of a
menacing character among other tribes of the same region, rendered
necessary an immediate display of the defensive and protective force of
the Union in that quarter.

It was accordingly exhibited by the immediate and concerted movements
of the governors of the State of Illinois and of the Territory of
Michigan, and competent levies of militia, under their authority, with
a corps of 700 men of United States troops, under the command of
General Atkinson, who, at the call of Governor Cass, immediately
repaired to the scene of danger from their station at St. Louis. Their
presence dispelled the alarms of our fellow citizens on those
disorders, and overawed the hostile purposes of the Indians. The
perpetrators of the murders were surrendered to the authority and
operation of our laws, and every appearance of purposed hostility from
those Indian tribes has subsided.

Although the present organization of the Army and the administration of
its various branches of service are, upon the whole, satisfactory, they
are yet susceptible of much improvement in particulars, some of which
have been heretofore submitted to the consideration of Congress, and
others are now first presented in the report of the Secretary of War.

The expediency of providing for additional numbers of officers in the
two corps of engineers will in some degree depend upon the number and
extent of the objects of national importance upon which Congress may
think it proper that surveys should be made conformably to the act of
April 30th, 1824. Of the surveys which before the last session of
Congress had been made under the authority of that act, reports were
made--Of the Board of Internal Improvement, on the Chesapeake and Ohio
Canal. On the continuation of the national road from Cumberland to the
tide waters within the District of Columbia. On the continuation of the
national road from Canton to Zanesville. On the location of the
national road from Zanesville to Columbus. On the continuation of the
same to the seat of government in Missouri. On a post road from
Baltimore to Philadelphia. Of a survey of Kennebec River (in part). On
a national road from Washington to Buffalo. On the survey of Saugatuck
Harbor and River. On a canal from Lake Pont Chartrain to the
Mississippi River. On surveys at Edgartown, Newburyport, and Hyannis
Harbor. On survey of La Plaisance Bay, in the Territory of Michigan.
And reports are now prepared and will be submitted to Congress--On
surveys of the peninsula of Florida, to ascertain the practicability of
a canal to connect the waters of the Atlantic with the Gulf of Mexico
across that peninsula; and also of the country between the bays of
Mobile and of Pensacola, with the view of connecting them together by a
canal. On surveys of a route for a canal to connect the waters of James
and Great Kenhawa rivers. On the survey of the Swash, in Pamlico Sound,
and that of Cape Fear, below the town of Wilmington, in North Carolina.
On the survey of the Muscle Shoals, in the Tennessee River, and for a
route for a contemplated communication between the Hiwassee and Coosa
rivers, in the State of Alabama. Other reports of surveys upon objects
pointed out by the several acts of Congress of the last and preceding
sessions are in the progress of preparation, and most of them may be
completed before the close of this session. All the officers of both
corps of engineers, with several other persons duly qualified, have
been constantly employed upon these services from the passage of the
act of April 30th, 1824, to this time.

Were no other advantage to accrue to the country from their labors than
the fund of topographical knowledge which they have collected and
communicated, that alone would have been a profit to the Union more
than adequate to all the expenditures which have been devoted to the
object; but the appropriations for the repair and continuation of the
Cumberland road, for the construction of various other roads, for the
removal of obstructions from the rivers and harbors, for the erection
of light houses, beacons, piers, and buoys, and for the completion of
canals undertaken by individual associations, but needing the
assistance of means and resources more comprehensive than individual
enterprise can command, may be considered rather as treasures laid up
from the contributions of the present age for the benefit of posterity
than as unrequited applications of the accruing revenues of the nation.

To such objects of permanent improvement to the condition of the
country, of real addition to the wealth as well as to the comfort of
the people by whose authority and resources they have been effected,
from $3,000,000 to $4,000,000 of the annual income of the nation have,
by laws enacted at the three most recent sessions of Congress, been
applied, without intrenching upon the necessities of the Treasury,
without adding a dollar to the taxes or debts of the community, without
suspending even the steady and regular discharge of the debts
contracted in former days, which within the same three years have been
diminished by the amount of nearly $16,000,000.

The same observations are in a great degree applicable to the
appropriations made for fortifications upon the coasts and harbors of
the United States, for the maintenance of the Military Academy at West
Point, and for the various objects under the superintendence of the
Department of the Navy. The report from the Secretary of the Navy and
those from the subordinate branches of both the military departments
exhibit to Congress in minute detail the present condition of the
public establishments dependent upon them, the execution of the acts of
Congress relating to them, and the views of the officers engaged in the
several branches of the service concerning the improvements which may
tend to their perfection.

The fortification of the coasts and the gradual increase and
improvement of the Navy are parts of a great system of national defense
which has been upward of ten years in progress, and which for a series
of years to come will continue to claim the constant and persevering
protection and superintendence of the legislative authority. Among the
measures which have emanated from these principles the act of the last
session of Congress for the gradual improvement of the Navy holds a
conspicuous place. The collection of timber for the future construction
of vessels of war, the preservation and reproduction of the species of
timber peculiarly adapted to that purpose, the construction of dry
docks for the use of the Navy, the erection of a marine railway for the
repair of the public ships, and the improvement of the navy yards for
the preservation of the public property deposited in them have all
received from the Executive the attention required by that act, and
will continue to receive it, steadily proceeding toward the execution
of all its purposes.

The establishment of a naval academy, furnishing the means of theoretic
instruction to the youths who devote their lives to the service of
their country upon the ocean, still solicits the sanction of the
Legislature. Practical seamanship and the art of navigation may be
acquired on the cruises of the squadrons which from time to time are
dispatched to distant seas, but a competent knowledge even of the art
of ship building, the higher mathematics, and astronomy; the literature
which can place our officers on a level of polished education with the
officers of other maritime nations; the knowledge of the laws,
municipal and national, which in their intercourse with foreign states
and their governments are continually called into operation, and, above
all, that acquaintance with the principles of honor and justice, with
the higher obligations of morals and of general laws, human and divine,
which constitutes the great distinction between the warrior-patriot and
the licensed robber and pirate--these can be systematically taught and
eminently acquired only in a permanent school, stationed upon the shore
and provided with the teachers, the instruments, and the books
conversant with and adapted to the communication of the principles of
these respective sciences to the youthful and inquiring mind.

The report from the Post Master General exhibits the condition of that
Department as highly satisfactory for the present and still more
promising for the future. Its receipts for the year ending July 1st,
1827 amounted to $1,473,551, and exceeded its expenditures by upward of
$100,000. It can not be an over sanguine estimate to predict that in
less than ten years, of which half have elapsed, the receipts will have
been more than doubled.

In the mean time a reduced expenditure upon established routes has kept
pace with increased facilities of public accommodation and additional
services have been obtained at reduced rates of compensation. Within
the last year the transportation of the mail in stages has been greatly
augmented. The number of post offices has been increased to 7,000, and
it may be anticipated that while the facilities of intercourse between
fellow citizens in person or by correspondence will soon be carried to
the door of every villager in the Union, a yearly surplus of revenue
will accrue which may be applied as the wisdom of Congress under the
exercise of their constitutional powers may devise for the further
establishment and improvement of the public roads, or by adding still
further to the facilities in the transportation of the mails. Of the
indications of the prosperous condition of our country, none can be
more pleasing than those presented by the multiplying relations of
personal and intimate intercourse between the citizens of the Union
dwelling at the remotest distances from each other.

Among the subjects which have heretofore occupied the earnest
solicitude and attention of Congress is the management and disposal of
that portion of the property of the nation which consists of the public
lands. The acquisition of them, made at the expense of the whole Union,
not only in treasury but in blood, marks a right of property in them
equally extensive. By the report and statements from the General Land
Office now communicated it appears that under the present Government of
the United States a sum little short of $33,000,000 has been paid from
the common Treasury for that portion of this property which has been
purchased from France and Spain, and for the extinction of the
aboriginal titles. The amount of lands acquired is near 260,000,000
acres, of which on January 1st, 1826, about 139,000,000 acres had been
surveyed, and little more than 19,000,000 acres had been sold. The
amount paid into the Treasury by the purchasers of the public lands
sold is not yet equal to the sums paid for the whole, but leaves a
small balance to be refunded. The proceeds of the sales of the lands
have long been pledged to the creditors of the nation, a pledge from
which we have reason to hope that they will in a very few years be

The system upon which this great national interest has been managed was
the result of long, anxious, and persevering deliberation. Matured and
modified by the progress of our population and the lessons of
experience, it has been hitherto eminently successful. More than nine
tenths of the lands still remain the common property of the Union, the
appropriation and disposal of which are sacred trusts in the hands of

Of the lands sold, a considerable part were conveyed under extended
credits, which in the vicissitudes and fluctuations in the value of
lands and of their produce became oppressively burdensome to the
purchasers. It can never be the interest or the policy of the nation to
wring from its own citizens the reasonable profits of their industry
and enterprise by holding them to the rigorous import of disastrous
engagements. In March, 1821, a debt of $22,000,000, due by purchasers
of the public lands, had accumulated, which they were unable to pay. An
act of Congress of March 2nd, 1821, came to their relief, and has been
succeeded by others, the latest being the act of May 4th, 1826, the
indulgent provisions of which expired on July 4th, 1827. The effect of
these laws has been to reduce the debt from the purchasers to a
remaining balance of about $4,300,000 due, more than three fifths of
which are for lands within the State of Alabama. I recommend to
Congress the revival and continuance for a further term of the
beneficent accommodations to the public debtors of that statute, and
submit to their consideration, in the same spirit of equity, the
remission, under proper discriminations, of the forfeitures of partial
payments on account of purchases of the public lands, so far as to
allow of their application to other payments.

There are various other subjects of deep interest to the whole Union
which have heretofore been recommended to the consideration of
Congress, as well by my predecessors as, under the impression of the
duties devolving upon me, by myself. Among these are the debt, rather
of justice than gratitude, to the surviving warriors of the
Revolutionary war; the extension of the judicial administration of the
Federal Government to those extensive since the organization of the
present judiciary establishment, now constitute at least one third of
its territory, power, and population; the formation of a more effective
and uniform system for the government of the militia, and the
amelioration in some form or modification of the diversified and often
oppressive codes relating to insolvency. Amidst the multiplicity of
topics of great national concernment which may recommend themselves to
the calm and patriotic deliberations of the Legislature, it may suffice
to say that on these and all other measures which may receive their
sanction my hearty cooperation will be given, conformably to the duties
enjoined upon me and under the sense of all the obligations prescribed
by the Constitution.



State of the Union Address
John Quincy Adams
December 2, 1828

Fellow Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

If the enjoyment in profusion of the bounties of Providence forms a
suitable subject of mutual gratulation and grateful acknowledgment, we
are admonished at this return of the season when the representatives of
the nation are assembled to deliberate upon their concerns to offer up
the tribute of fervent and grateful hearts for the never failing
mercies of Him who ruleth over all. He has again favored us with
healthful seasons and abundant harvests; He has sustained us in peace
with foreign countries and in tranquillity within our borders; He has
preserved us in the quiet and undisturbed possession of civil and
religious liberty; He has crowned the year with His goodness, imposing
on us no other condition than of improving for our own happiness the
blessings bestowed by His hands, and, in the fruition of all His
favors, of devoting his faculties with which we have been endowed by
Him to His glory and to our own temporal and eternal welfare.

In the relations of our Federal Union with our brethren of the human
race the changes which have occurred since the close of your last
session have generally tended to the preservation of peace and to the
cultivation of harmony. Before your last separation a war had unhappily
been kindled between the Empire of Russia, one of those with which our
intercourse has been no other than a constant exchange of good offices,
and that of the Ottoman Porte, a nation from which geographical
distance, religious opinions and maxims of government on their part
little suited to the formation of those bonds of mutual benevolence
which result from the benefits of commerce had department us in a
state, perhaps too much prolonged, of coldness and alienation.

The extensive, fertile, and populous dominions of the Sultan belong
rather to the Asiatic than the European division of the human family.
They enter but partially into the system of Europe, nor have their wars
with Russia and Austria, the European States upon which they border,
for more than a century past disturbed the pacific relations of those
States with the other great powers of Europe. Neither France nor
Prussia nor Great Britain has ever taken part in them, nor is it to be
expected that they will at this time. The declaration of war by Russia
has received the approbation or acquiescence of her allies, and we may
indulge the hope that its progress and termination will be signalized
by the moderation and forbearance no less than by the energy of the
Emperor Nicholas, and that it will afford the opportunity for such
collateral agency in behalf of the suffering Greeks as will secure to
them ultimately the triumph of humanity and of freedom.

The state of our particular relations with France has scarcely varied
in the course of the present year. The commercial intercourse between
the two countries has continued to increase for the mutual benefit of
both. The claims of indemnity to numbers of our fellow citizens for
depredations upon their property, heretofore committed during the
revolutionary governments, remain unadjusted, and still form the
subject of earnest representation and remonstrance. Recent advices from
the minister of the United States at Paris encourage the expectation
that the appeal to the justice of the French Government will ere long
receive a favorable consideration.

The last friendly expedient has been resorted to for the decision of
the controversy with Great Britain relating to the north-eastern
boundary of the United States. By an agreement with the British
Government, carrying into effect the provisions of the 5th article of
the treaty of Ghent, and the convention of September 29th, 1827, His
Majesty the King of the Netherlands has by common consent been selected
as the umpire between the parties. The proposal to him to accept the
designation for the performance of this friendly office will be made at
an early day, and the United States, relying upon the justice of their
cause, will cheerfully commit the arbitrament of it to a prince equally
distinguished for the independence of his spirit, his indefatigable
assiduity to the duties of his station, and his inflexible personal

Our commercial relations with Great Britain will deserve the serious
consideration of Congress and the exercise of a conciliatory and
forbearing spirit in the policy of both Governments. The state of them
has been materially changed by the act of Congress, passed at their
last session, in alteration of several acts imposing duties on imports,
and by acts of more recent date of the British Parliament. The effect
of the interdiction of direct trade, commenced by Great Britain and
reciprocated by the United States, has been, as was to be foreseen,
only to substitute different channels for an exchange of commodities
indispensable to the colonies and profitable to a numerous class of our
fellow citizens. The exports, the revenue, the navigation of the United
States have suffered no diminution by our exclusion from direct access
to the British colonies. The colonies pay more dearly for the
necessaries of life which their Government burdens with the charges of
double voyages, freight, insurance, and commission, and the profits of
our exports are somewhat impaired and more injuriously transferred from
one portion of our citizens to another.

The resumption of this old and otherwise exploded system of colonial
exclusion has not secured to the shipping interest of Great Britain the
relief which, at the expense of the distant colonies and of the United
States, it was expected to afford. Other measures have been resorted to
more pointedly bearing upon the navigation of the United States, and
more pointedly bearing upon the navigation of the United States, and
which, unless modified by the construction given to the recent acts of
Parliament, will be manifestly incompatible with the positive
stipulations of the commercial convention existing between the two
countries. That convention, however, may be terminated with 12 months'
notice, at the option of either party.

A treaty of amity, navigation, and commerce between the United States
and His Majesty the Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary and Bohemia,
has been prepared for signature by the Secretary of State and by the
Baron de Lederer, intrusted with full powers of the Austrian
Government. Independently of the new and friendly relations which may
be thus commenced with one of the most eminent and powerful nations of
the earth, the occasion has been taken in it, as in other recent
treaties concluded by the United States, to extend those principles of
liberal intercourse and of fair reciprocity which intertwine with the
exchanges of commerce the principles of justice and the feelings of
mutual benevolence.

This system, first proclaimed to the world in the first commercial
treaty ever concluded by the United States--that of February 6th, 1778,
with France--has been invariably the cherished policy of our Union. It
is by treaties of commerce alone that it can be made ultimately to
prevail as the established system of all civilized nations. With this
principle our fathers extended the hand of friendship to every nation
of the globe, and to this policy our country has ever since adhered.
What ever of regulation in our laws has ever been adopted unfavorable
to the interest of any foreign nation has been essentially defensive
and counteracting to similar regulations of theirs operating against

Immediately after the close of the War of Independence commissioners
were appointed by the Congress of the Confederation authorized to
conclude treaties with every nation of Europe disposed to adopt them.
Before the wars of the French Revolution such treaties had been
consummated with the United Netherlands, Sweden, and Prussia. During
those wars treaties with Great Britain and Spain had been effected, and
those with Prussia and France renewed. In all these some concessions to
the liberal principles of intercourse proposed by the United States had
been obtained; but as in all the negotiations they came occasionally in
collision with previous internal regulations or exclusive and excluding
compacts of monopoly with which the other parties had been trammeled,
the advances made in them toward the freedom of trade were partial and
imperfect. Colonial establishments, chartered companies, and ship
building influence pervaded and encumbered the legislation of all the
great commercial states; and the United States, in offering free trade
and equal privilege to all, were compelled to acquiesce in many
exceptions with each of the parties to their treaties, accommodated to
their existing laws and anterior agreements.

The colonial system by which this whole hemisphere was bound has fallen
into ruins, totally abolished by revolutions converting colonies into
independent nations throughout the two American continents, excepting a
portion of territory chiefly at the northern extremity of our own, and
confined to the remnants of dominion retained by Great Britain over the
insular archipelago, geographically the appendages of our part of the
globe. With all the rest we have free trade, even with the insular
colonies of all the European nations, except Great Britain. Her
Government also had manifested approaches to the adoption of a free and
liberal intercourse between her colonies and other nations, though by a
sudden and scarcely explained revulsion the spirit of exclusion has
been revived for operation upon the United States alone.

The conclusion of our last treaty of peace with Great Britain was
shortly afterwards followed by a commercial convention, placing the
direct intercourse between the two countries upon a footing of more
equal reciprocity than had ever before been admitted. The same
principle has since been much further extended by treaties with France,
Sweden, Denmark, the Hanseatic cities, Prussia, in Europe, and with the
Republics of Colombia and of Central America, in this hemisphere. The
mutual abolition of discriminating duties and charges upon the
navigation and commercial intercourse between the parties is the
general maxim which characterizes them all. There is reason to expect
that it will at no distant period be adopted by other nations, both of
Europe and America, and to hope that by its universal prevalence one of
the fruitful sources of wars of commercial competition will be

Among the nations upon whose Governments many of our fellow citizens
have had long-pending claims of indemnity for depredations upon their
property during a period when the rights of neutral commerce were
disregarded was that of Denmark. They were soon after the events
occurred the subject of a special mission from the United States, at
the close of which the assurance was given by His Danish Majesty that
at a period of more tranquillity and of less distress they would be
considered, examined, and decided upon in a spirit of determined
purpose for the dispensation of justice. I have much pleasure in
informing Congress that the fulfillment of this honorable promise is
now in progress; that a small portion of the claims has already been
settled to the satisfaction of the claimants, and that we have reason
to hope that the remainder will shortly be placed in a train of
equitable adjustment. This result has always been confidently expected,
from the character of personal integrity and of benevolence which the
Sovereign of the Danish dominions has through every vicissitude of
fortune maintained.

The general aspect of the affairs of our neighboring American nations
of the south has been rather of approaching than of settled
tranquillity. Internal disturbances have been more frequent among them
than their common friends would have desired. Our intercourse with all
has continued to be that of friendship and of mutual good will.
Treaties of commerce and of boundaries with the United Mexican States
have been negotiated, but, from various successive obstacles, not yet
brought to a final conclusion.

The civil war which unfortunately still prevails in the Republics of
Central America has been unpropitious to the cultivation of our
commercial relations with them; and the dissensions and revolutionary
changes in the Republics of Colombia and of Peru have been seen with
cordial regret by us, who would gladly contribute to the happiness of
both. It is with great satisfaction, however, that we have witnessed
the recent conclusion of a peace between the Governments of Buenos
Ayres and of Brazil, and it is equally gratifying to observe that
indemnity has been obtained for some of the injuries which our fellow
citizens had sustained in the latter of those countries. The rest are
in a train of negotiation, which we hope may terminate to mutual
satisfaction, and that it may be succeeded by a treaty of commerce and
navigation, upon liberal principles, propitious to a great and growing
commerce, already important to the interests of our country.

The condition and prospects of the revenue are more favorable than our
most sanguine expectations had anticipated. The balance in the Treasury
on January 1st, 1828, exclusive of the moneys received under the
convention of November 13th, 1826, with Great Britain, was
$5,861,972.83. The receipts into the Treasury from January 1st, 1828 to
September 30th, 1828, so far as they have been ascertained to form the
basis of an estimate, amount to $18,633,580.27, which, with the
receipts of the present quarter, estimated at $5,461,283.40, form an
aggregate of receipts during the year of $24,094,863.67. The
expenditures of the year may probably amount to $25,637,111.63, and
leave in the Treasury on January 1st, 1829 the sum of $5,125,638.14.

The receipts of the present year have amounted to near $2,000,000 more
than was anticipated at the commencement of the last session of

The amount of duties secured on importations from the first of January
to the 30th of September was about $22,997,000, and that of the
estimated accruing revenue is $5,000,000, forming an aggregate for the
year of near $28,000,000. This is $1,000,000 more than the estimate
last December for the accruing revenue of the present year, which, with
allowances for draw-backs and contingent deficiencies, was expected to
produce an actual revenue of $22,300,000. Had these only been realized
the expenditures of the year would have been also proportionally
reduced, for of these $24,000,000 received upward of $9,000,000 have
been applied to the extinction of public debt, bearing an interest of
6% a year, and of course reducing the burden of interest annually
payable in future by the amount of more than $500,000. The payments on
account of interest during the current year exceed $3,000,000,
presenting an aggregate of more than $12,000,000 applied during the
year to the discharge of the public debt, the whole of which remaining
due on January 1st, 1829 will amount only to $58,362,135.78.

That the revenue of the ensuing year will not fall short of that
received in the one now expiring there are indications which can
scarcely prove deceptive. In our country an uniform experience of 40
years has shown that what ever the tariff of duties upon articles
imported from abroad has been, the amount of importations has always
borne an average value nearly approaching to that of the exports,
though occasionally differing in the balance, some times being more and
some times less. It is, indeed, a general law of prosperous commerce
that the real value of exports should by a small, and only a small,
balance exceed that of imports, that balance being a permanent addition
to the wealth of the nation.

The extent of the prosperous commerce of the nation must be regulated
by the amount of its exports, and an important addition to the value of
these will draw after it a corresponding increase of importations. It
has happened in the vicissitudes of the seasons that the harvests of
all Europe have in the late summer and autumn fallen short of their
usual average. A relaxation of the interdict upon the importation of
grain and flour from abroad has ensued, a propitious market has been
opened to the granaries of our country, and a new prospect of reward
presented to the labors of the husband-man, which for several years has
been denied. This accession to the profits of agriculture in the middle
and western portions of our Union is accidental and temporary. It may
continue only for a single year. It may be, as has been often
experienced in the revolutions of time, but the first of several scanty
harvests in succession. We may consider it certain that for the
approaching year it has added an item of large amount to the value of
our exports and that it will produce a corresponding increase of
importations. It may therefore confidently be foreseen that the revenue
of 1829 will equal and probably exceed that of 1828, and will afford
the means of extinguishing $10,000,000 more of the principal of the
public debt.

This new element of prosperity to that part of our agricultural
industry which is occupied in producing the first article of human
subsistence is of the most cheering character to the feelings of
patriotism. Proceeding from a cause which humanity will view with
concern, the sufferings of scarcity in distant lands, it yields a
consolatory reflection that this scarcity is in no respect attributable
to us; that it comes from the dispensation of Him who ordains all in
wisdom and goodness, and who permits evil itself only as an instrument
of good; that, far from contributing to this scarcity, our agency will
be applied only to the alleviation of its severity, and that in pouring
forth from the abundance of our own garners the supplies which will
partially restore plenty to those who are in need we shall ourselves
reduce our stores and add to the price of our own bread, so as in some
degree to participate in the wants which it will be the good fortune of
our country to relieve.

The great interests of an agricultural, commercial, and manufacturing
nation are so linked in union together that no permanent cause of
prosperity to one of them can operate without extending its influence
to the others. All these interests are alike under the protecting power
of the legislative authority, and the duties of the representative
bodies are to conciliate them in harmony together.

So far as the object of taxation is to raise a revenue for discharging
the debts and defraying the expenses of the community, its operation
should be adapted as much as possible to suit the burden with equal
hand upon all in proportion with their ability of bearing it without
oppression. But the legislation of one nation is some times
intentionally made to bear heavily upon the interests of another. That
legislation, adapted, as it is meant to be, to the special interests of
its own people, will often press most unequally upon the several
component interests of its neighbors.

Thus the legislation of Great Britain, when, as has recently been
avowed, adapted to the depression of a rival nation, will naturally
abound with regulations to interdict upon the productions of the soil
or industry of the other which come in competition with its own, and
will present encouragement, perhaps even bounty, to the raw material of
the other State which it can not produce itself, and which is essential
for the use of its manufactures, competitors in the markets of the
world with those of its commercial rival.

Such is the state of commercial legislation of Great Britain as it
bears upon our interests. It excludes with interdicting duties all
importation (except in time of approaching famine) of the great staple
of production of our Middle and Western States; it proscribes with
equal rigor the bulkier lumber and live stock of the same portion and
also of the Northern and Eastern part of our Union. It refuses even the
rice of the South unless aggravated with a charge of duty upon the
Northern carrier who brings it to them. But the cotton, indispensable
for their looms, they will receive almost duty free to weave it into a
fabric for our own wear, to the destruction of our own manufactures,
which they are enabled thus to under-sell.

Is the self-protecting energy of this nation so helpless that there
exists in the political institutions of our country no power to
counter-act the bias of this foreign legislation; that the growers of
grain must submit to this exclusion from the foreign markets of their
produce; that the shippers must dismantle their ships, the trade of the
North stagnate at the wharves, and the manufacturers starve at their
looms, while the whole people shall pay tribute to foreign industry to
be clad in a foreign garb; that the Congress of the Union are impotent
to restore the balance in favor of native industry destroyed by the
statutes of another realm?

More just and generous sentiments will, I trust, prevail. If the tariff
adopted at the last session of Congress shall be found by experience to
bear oppressively upon the interests of any one section of the Union,
it ought to be, and I can not doubt will be, so modified as to
alleviate its burden. To the voice of just complaint from any portion
of their constituents the representatives of the States and of the
people will never turn away their ears.

But so long as the duty of the foreign shall operate only as a bounty
upon the domestic article; while the planter and the merchant and the
shepherd and the husbandman shall be found thriving in their
occupations under the duties imposed for the protection of domestic
manufactures, they will not repine at the prosperity shared with
themselves by their fellow citizens of other professions, nor denounce
as violations of the Constitution the deliberate acts of Congress to
shield from the wrongs of foreigns the native industry of the Union.

While the tariff of the last session of Congress was a subject of
legislative deliberation it was foretold by some of its opposers that
one of its necessary consequences would be to impair the revenue. It is
yet too soon to pronounce with confidence that this prediction was
erroneous. The obstruction of one avenue of trade not unfrequently
opens an issue to another. The consequence of the tariff will be to
increase the exportation and to diminish the importation of some
specific articles; but by the general law of trade the increase of
exportation of one article will be followed by an increased importation
of others, the duties upon which will supply the deficiencies which the
diminished importation would otherwise occasion. The effect of taxation
upon revenue can seldom be foreseen with certainty. It must abide the
test of experience.

As yet no symptoms of diminution are perceptible in the receipts of the
Treasury. As yet little addition of cost has even been experienced upon
the articles burdened with heavier duties by the last tariff. The
domestic manufacturer supplies the same or a kindred article at a
diminished price, and the consumer pays the same tribute to the labor
of his own country-man which he must otherwise have paid to foreign
industry and toil.

The tariff of the last session was in its details not acceptable to the
great interests of any portion of the Union, not even to the interest
which it was specially intended to subserve. Its object was to balance
the burdens upon native industry imposed by the operation of foreign
laws, but not to aggravate the burdens of one section of the Union by
the relief afforded to another. To the great principle sanctioned by
that act--one of those upon which the Constitution itself was formed--I
hope and trust the authorities of the Union will adhere. But if any of
the duties imposed by the act only relieve the manufacturer by
aggravating the burden of the planter, let a careful revisal of its
provisions, enlightened by the practical experience of its effects, be
directed to retain those which impart protection to native industry and
remove or supply the place of those which only alleviate one great
national interest by the depression of another.

The United States of America and the people of every State of which
they are composed are each of them sovereign powers. The legislative
authority of the whole is exercised by Congress under authority granted
them in the common Constitution. The legislative power of each State is
exercised by assemblies deriving their authority from the constitution
of the State. Each is sovereign within its own province. The
distribution of power between them presupposes that these authorities
will move in harmony with each other. The members of the State and
General Governments are all under oath to support both, and allegiance
is due to the one and to the other. The case of a conflict between
these two powers has not been supposed, nor has any provision been made
for it in our institutions; as a virtuous nation of ancient times
existed more than five centuries without a law for the punishment of

More than once, however, in the progress of our history have the people
and the legislatures of one or more States, in moments of excitement,
been instigated to this conflict; and the means of effecting this
impulse have been allegations that the acts of Congress to be resisted
were unconstitutional. The people of no one State have ever delegated
to their legislature the power of pronouncing an act of Congress
unconstitutional, but they have delegated to them powers by the
exercise of which the execution of the laws of Congress within the
State may be resisted. If we suppose the case of such conflicting
legislation sustained by the corresponding executive and judicial
authorities, patriotism and philanthropy turn their eyes from the
condition in which the parties would be placed, and from that of the
people of both, which must be its victims.

The reports from the Secretary of War and the various subordinate
offices of the resort of that Department present an exposition of the
public administration of affairs connected with them through the course
of the current year. The present state of the Army and the distribution
of the force of which it is composed will be seen from the report of
the Major General. Several alterations in the disposal of the troops
have been found expedient in the course of the year, and the discipline
of the Army, though not entirely free from exception, has been
generally good.

The attention of Congress is particularly invited to that part of the
report of the Secretary of War which concerns the existing system of
our relations with the Indian tribes. At the establishment of the
Federal Government under the present Constitution of the United States
the principle was adopted of considering them as foreign and
independent powers and also as proprietors of lands. They were,
moreover, considered as savages, whom it was our policy and our duty to
use our influence in converting to Christianity and in bringing within
the pale of civilization.

As independent powers, we negotiated with them by treaties; as
proprietors, we purchased of them all the lands which we could prevail
upon them to sell; as brethren of the human race, rude and ignorant, we
endeavored to bring them to the knowledge of religion and letters. The
ultimate design was to incorporate in our own institutions that portion
of them which could be converted to the state of civilization. In the
practice of European States, before our Revolution, they had been
considered as children to be governed; as tenants at discretion, to be
dispossessed as occasion might require; as hunters to be indemnified by
trifling concessions for removal from the grounds from which their game
was extirpated. In changing the system it would seem as if a full
contemplation of the consequences of the change had not been taken.

We have been far more successful in the acquisition of their lands than
in imparting to them the principles or inspiring them with the spirit
of civilization. But in appropriating to ourselves their hunting
grounds we have brought upon ourselves the obligation of providing them
with subsistence; and when we have had the rare good fortune of
teaching them the arts of civilization and the doctrines of
Christianity we have unexpectedly found them forming in the midst of
ourselves communities claiming to be independent of ours and rivals of
sovereignty within the territories of the members of our Union. This
state of things requires that a remedy should be provided--a remedy
which, while it shall do justice to those unfortunate children of
nature, may secure to the members of our confederation their rights of
sovereignty and of soil. As the outline of a project to that effect,
the views presented in the report of the Secretary of War are
recommended to the consideration of Congress.

The report from the Engineer Department presents a comprehensive view
of the progress which has been made in the great systems promotive of
the public interest, commenced and organized under authority of
Congress, and the effects of which have already contributed to the
security, as they will hereafter largely contribute to the honor and
dignity, of the nation.

The first of these great systems is that of fortifications, commenced
immediately after the close of our last war, under the salutary
experience which the events of that war had impressed upon our country-
men of its necessity. Introduced under the auspices of my immediate
predecessor, it has been continued with the persevering and liberal
encouragement of the Legislature, and, combined with corresponding
exertions for the gradual increase and improvement of the Navy,
prepares for our extensive country a condition of defense adapted to
any critical emergency which the varying course of events may bring
forth. Our advances in these concerted systems have for the last ten
years been steady and progressive, and in a few years more will be so
completed as to leave no cause for apprehension that our sea coast will
ever again offer a theater of hostile invasion.

The next of these cardinal measures of policy is the preliminary to
great and lasting works of public improvement in the surveys of roads,
examination for the course of canals, and labors for the removal of the
obstructions of rivers and harbors, first commenced by the act of
Congress of April 30th, 1824.

The report exhibits in one table the funds appropriated at the last and
preceding sessions of Congress for all these fortifications, surveys,
and works of public improvement, the manner in which these funds have
been applied, the amount expended upon the several works under
construction, and the further sums which may be necessary to complete
them; in a second, the works projected by the Board of Engineers which
have not been commenced, and the estimate of their cost; in a third,
the report of the annual Board of Visitors at the Military Academy at
West Point.

For thirteen fortifications erecting on various points of our Atlantic
coast, from Rhode Island to Louisiana, the aggregate expenditure of the
year has fallen little short of $1,000,000. For the preparation of five
additional reports of reconnoissances and surveys since the last
session of Congress, for the civil construction upon 37 different
public works commenced, eight others for which specific appropriations
have been made by acts of Congress, and twenty other incipient surveys
under the authority given by the act of April 30th, 1824, about
$1,000,000 more has been drawn from the Treasury.

To these $2,000,000 is to be added the appropriation of $250,000 to
commence the erection of a break-water near the mouth of the Delaware
River, the subscriptions to the Delaware and Chesapeake, the Louisville
and Portland, the Dismal Swamp, and the Chesapeake and Ohio canals, the
large donations of lands to the States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and
Alabama for objects of improvements within those States, and the sums
appropriated for light-houses, buoys, and piers on the coast; and a
full view will be taken of the munificence of the nation in the
application of its resources to the improvement of its own condition.

Of these great national under-takings the Academy at West Point is
among the most important in itself and the most comprehensive in its
consequences. In that institution a part of the revenue of the nation
is applied to defray the expense of educating a competent portion of
her youth chiefly to the knowledge and the duties of military life. It
is the living armory of the nation. While the other works of
improvement enumerated in the reports now presented to the attention of
Congress are destined to ameliorate the face of nature, to multiply the
facilities of communication between the different parts of the Union,
to assist the labors, increase the comforts, and enhance the enjoyments
of individuals, the instruction acquired at West Point enlarges the
dominion and expands the capacities of the mind. Its beneficial results
are already experienced in the composition of the Army, and their
influence is felt in the intellectual progress of society. The
institution is susceptible still of great improvement from benefactions
proposed by several successive Boards of Visitors, to whose earnest and
repeated recommendations I cheerfully add my own.

With the usual annual reports from the Secretary of the Navy and the
Board of Commissioners will be exhibited to the view of Congress the
execution of the laws relating to that department of the public
service. The repression of piracy in the West Indian and in the Grecian
seas has been effectually maintained, with scarcely any exception.
During the war between the Governments of Buenos Ayres and of Brazil
frequent collisions between the belligerent acts of power and the
rights of neutral commerce occurred. Licentious blockades, irregularly
enlisted or impressed sea men, and the property of honest commerce
seized with violence, and even plundered under legal pretenses, are
disorders never separable from the conflicts of war upon the ocean.

With a portion of them the correspondence of our commanders on the
eastern aspect of the South American coast and among the islands of
Greece discover how far we have been involved. In these the honor of
our country and the rights of our citizens have been asserted and
vindicated. The appearance of new squadrons in the Mediterranean and
the blockade of the Dardanelles indicate the danger of other obstacles
to the freedom of commerce and the necessity of keeping our naval force
in those seas. To the suggestions repeated in the report of the
Secretary of the Navy, and tending to the permanent improvement of this
institution, I invite the favorable consideration of Congress.

A resolution of the House of Representatives requesting that one of our
small public vessels should be sent to the Pacific Ocean and South Sea
to examine the coasts, islands, harbors, shoals, and reefs in those
seas, and to ascertain their true situation and description, has been
put in a train of execution. The vessel is nearly ready to depart. The
successful accomplishment of the expedition may be greatly facilitated
by suitable legislative provisions, and particularly by an
appropriation to defray its necessary expense. The addition of a 2nd,
and perhaps a 3rd, vessel, with a slight aggravation of the cost, would
contribute much to the safety of the citizens embarked on this under-
taking, the results of which may be of the deepest interest to our

With the report of the Secretary of the Navy will be submitted, in
conformity to the act of Congress of March 3d, 1827, for the gradual
improvement of the Navy of the United States, statements of the
expenditures under that act and of the measures for carrying the same
into effect. Every section of that statute contains a distinct
provision looking to the great object of the whole--the gradual
improvement of the Navy. Under its salutary sanction stores of ship
timber have been procured and are in process of seasoning and
preservation for the future uses of the Navy. Arrangements have been
made for the preservation of the live oak timber growing on the lands
of the United States, and for its reproduction, to supply at future and
distant days the waste of that most valuable material for ship building
by the great consumption of it yearly for the commercial as well as for
the military marine of our country.

The construction of the two dry docks at Charlestown and at Norfolk is
making satisfactory progress toward a durable establishment. The
examinations and inquiries to ascertain the practicability and
expediency of a marine railway at Pensacola, though not yet
accomplished, have been postponed but to be more effectually made. The
navy yards of the United States have been examined, and plans for their
improvement and the preservation of the public property therein at
Portsmouth, Charlestown, Philadelphia, Washington, and Gosport, and to
which two others are to be added, have been prepared and received my
sanction; and no other portion of my public duties has been performed
with a more intimate conviction of its importance to the future welfare
and security of the Union.

With the report from the Post Master General is exhibited a comparative
view of the gradual increase of that establishment, from five to five
years, since 1792 'til this time in the number of post offices, which
has grown from less than 200 to nearly 8,000; in the revenue yielded by
them, which from $67,000 has swollen to upward of $1,500,000, and in
the number of miles of post roads, which from 5,642 have multiplied to
114,536. While in the same period of time the population of the Union
has about thrice doubled, the rate of increase of these offices is
nearly 40, and of the revenue and of traveled miles from 20 to 25 for
one. The increase of revenue within the last five years has been nearly
equal to the whole revenue of the Department in 1812.

The expenditures of the Department during the year which ended on July
1st, 1828 have exceeded the receipts by a sum of about $25,000. The
excess has been occasioned by the increase of mail conveyances and
facilities to the extent of near 800,000 miles. It has been supplied by
collections from the post masters of the arrearages of preceding years.
While the correct principle seems to be that the income levied by the
Department should defray all its expenses, it has never been the policy
of this Government to raise from this establishment any revenue to be
applied to any other purposes. The suggestion of the Post Master
General that the insurance of the safe transmission of moneys by the
mail might be assumed by the Department for a moderate and competent
remuneration will deserve the consideration of Congress.

A report from the commissioner of the public buildings in this city
exhibits the expenditures upon them in the course of the current year.
It will be seen that the humane and benevolent intentions of Congress
in providing, by the act of May 20th, 1826, for the erection of a
penitentiary in this District have been accomplished. The authority of
further legislation is now required for the removal to this tenement of
the offenders against the laws sentenced to atone by personal
confinement for their crimes, and to provide a code for their
employment and government while thus confined.

The commissioners appointed, conformably to the act of March 2d, 1827,
to provide for the adjustment of claims of persons entitled to
indemnification under the first article of the treaty of Ghent, and for
the distribution among such claimants of the sum paid by the Government
of Great Britain under the convention of November 13th, 1826, closed
their labors on August 30th, 1828 last by awarding to the claimants the
sum of $1,197,422.18, leaving a balance of $7,537.82, which was
distributed ratably amongst all the claimants to whom awards had been
made, according to the directions of the act.

The exhibits appended to the report from the Commissioner of the
General Land Office present the actual condition of that common
property of the Union. The amount paid into the Treasury from the
proceeds of lands during the year 1827 and for the first half of 1828
falls little short of $2,000,000. The propriety of further extending
the time for the extinguishment of the debt due to the United States by
the purchasers of the public lands, limited by the act of March 21st,
1828 to July 4th, 1829, will claim the consideration of Congress, to
whose vigilance and careful attention the regulation, disposal, and
preservation of this great national inheritance has by the people of
the United States been intrusted.

Among the important subjects to which the attention of the present
Congress has already been invited, and which may occupy their further
and deliberate discussion, will be the provision to be made for taking
the 5th census of enumeration of the inhabitants of the United States.
The Constitution of the United States requires that this enumeration
should be made within every term of ten years, and the date from which
the last enumeration commenced was the first Monday of August of the
year 1820.

The laws under which the former enumerations were taken were enacted at
the session of Congress immediately preceding the operation; but
considerable inconveniences were experienced from the delay of
legislation to so late a period. That law, like those of the preceding
enumerations, directed that the census should be taken by the marshals
of the several districts and Territories of the Union under
instructions from the Secretary of State. The preparation and
transmission to the marshals of those instructions required more time
than was then allowed between the passage of the law and the day when
the enumeration was to commence. The term of six months limited for the
returns of the marshals was also found even then too short, and must be
more so now, when an additional population of at least 3,000,000 must
be presented upon the returns.

As they are to be made at the short session of Congress, it would, as
well as from other considerations, be more convenient to commence the
enumeration from an earlier period of the year than the first of
August. The most favorable season would be the spring.

On a review of the former enumerations it will be found that the plan
for taking every census has contained many improvements upon that of
its predecessor. The last is still susceptible of much improvement. The
3rd Census was the first at which any account was taken of the
manufactures of the country. It was repeated at the last enumeration,
but the returns in both cases were necessarily very imperfect. They
must always be so, resting, of course, only upon the communications
voluntarily made by individuals interested in some of the manufacturing
establishments. Yet they contained much valuable information, and may
by some supplementary provision of the law be rendered more effective.

The columns of age, commencing from infancy, have hitherto been
confined to a few periods, all under the number of 45 years. Important
knowledge would be obtained by extending these columns, in intervals of
ten years, to the utmost boundaries of human life. The labor of taking
them would be a trifling addition to that already prescribed, and the
result would exhibit comparative tables of longevity highly interesting
to the country. I deem it my duty further to observe that much of the
imperfections in the returns of the last and perhaps of preceding
enumerations proceeded from the inadequateness of the compensations
allowed to the marshals and their assistants in taking them.

In closing this communication it only remains for me to assure the
Legislature of my continued earnest wish for the adoption of measures
recommended by me heretofore and yet to be acted on by them, and of the
cordial concurrence on my part in every constitutional provision which
may receive their sanction during the session tending to the general


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