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Title: State of the Union Addresses
Author: Tyler, John
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "State of the Union Addresses" ***

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State of the Union Addresses of John Tyler

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Dates of addresses by John Tyler in this eBook:

  December 7, 1841
  December 6, 1842
  December 1843
  December 3, 1844


State of the Union Address
John Tyler
December 7, 1841

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

In coming together, fellow-citizens, to enter again upon the discharge of
the duties with which the people have charged us severally, we find great
occasion to rejoice in the general prosperity of the country. We are in the
enjoyment of all the blessings of civil and religious liberty, with
unexampled means of education, knowledge, and improvement. Through the year
which is now drawing to a close peace has been in our borders and plenty in
our habitations, and although disease has visited some few portions of the
land with distress and mortality, yet in general the health of the people
has been preserved, and we are all called upon by the highest obligations
of duty to renew our thanks and our devotion to our Heavenly Parent, who
has continued to vouchsafe to us the eminent blessings which surround us
and who has so signally crowned the year with His goodness. If we find
ourselves increasing beyond example in numbers, in strength, in wealth, in
knowledge, in everything which promotes human and social happiness, let us
ever remember our dependence for all these on the protection and merciful
dispensations of Divine Providence.

Since your last adjournment Alexander McLeod, a British subject who was
indicted for the murder of an American citizen, and whose case has been the
subject of a correspondence heretofore communicated to you, has been
acquitted by the verdict of an impartial and intelligent jury, and has
under the judgment of the court been regularly discharged.

Great Britain having made known to this Government that the expedition
which was fitted out from Canada for the destruction of the steamboat
Caroline in the winter of 1837, and which resulted in the destruction of
said boat and in the death of an American citizen, was undertaken by orders
emanating from the authorities of the British Government in Canada, and
demanding the discharge of McLeod upon the ground that if engaged in that
expedition he did but fulfill the orders of his Government, has thus been
answered in the only way in which she could be answered by a government the
powers of which are distributed among its several departments by the
fundamental law. Happily for the people of Great Britain, as well as those
of the United States, the only mode by which an individual arraigned for a
criminal offense before the courts of either can obtain his discharge is by
the independent action of the judiciary and by proceedings equally familiar
to the courts of both countries.

If in Great Britain a power exists in the Crown to cause to be entered a
nolle prosequi, which is not the case with the Executive power of the
United States upon a prosecution pending in a State court, yet there no
more than here can the chief executive power rescue a prisoner from custody
without an order of the proper tribunal directing his discharge. The
precise stage of the proceedings at which such order may be made is a
matter of municipal regulation exclusively, and not to be complained of by
any other government. In cases of this kind a government becomes
politically responsible only when its tribunals of last resort are shown to
have rendered unjust and injurious judgments in matters not doubtful. To
the establishment and elucidation of this principle no nation has lent its
authority more efficiently than Great Britain. Alexander McLeod, having his
option either to prosecute a writ of error from the decision of the supreme
court of New York, which had been rendered upon his application for a
discharge, to the Supreme Court of the United States, or to submit his case
to the decision of a jury, preferred the latter, deeming it the readiest
mode of obtaining his liberation; and the result has fully sustained the
wisdom of his choice. The manner in which the issue submitted was tried
will satisfy the English Government that the principles of justice will
never fail to govern the enlightened decision of an American tribunal. I
can not fail, however, to suggest to Congress the propriety, and in some
degree the necessity, of making such provisions by law, so far as they may
constitutionally do so, for the removal at their commencement and at the
option of the party of all such cases as may hereafter arise, and which may
involve the faithful observance and execution of our international
obligations, from the State to the Federal judiciary. This Government, by
our institutions, is charged with the maintenance of peace and the
preservation of amicable relations with the nations of the earth, and ought
to possess without question all the reasonable and proper means of
maintaining the one and preserving the other. While just confidence is felt
in the judiciary of the States, yet this Government ought to be competent
in itself for the fulfillment of the high duties which have been devolved
upon it under the organic law by the States themselves.

In the month of September a party of armed men from Upper Canada invaded
the territory of the United States and forcibly seized upon the person of
one Grogan, and under circumstances of great harshness hurriedly carried
him beyond the limits of the United States and delivered him up to the
authorities of Upper Canada. His immediate discharge was ordered by those
authorities upon the facts of the case being brought to their knowledge--a
course of procedure which was to have been expected from a nation with whom
we are at peace, and which was not more due to the rights of the United
States than to its own regard for justice. The correspondence which passed
between the Department of State and the British envoy, Mr. Fox, and with
the governor of Vermont, as soon as the facts had been made known to this
department, are herewith communicated.

I regret that it is not in my power to make known to you an equally
satisfactory conclusion in the case of the Caroline steamer, with the
circumstances connected with the destruction of which, in December, 1837,
by an armed force fitted out in the Province of Upper Canada, you are
already made acquainted. No such atonement as was due for the public wrong
done to the United States by this invasion of her territory, so wholly
irreconcilable with her rights as an independent power, has yet been made.
In the view taken by this Government the inquiry whether the vessel was in
the employment of those who were prosecuting an unauthorized war against
that Province or was engaged by the owner in the business of transporting
passengers to and from Navy Island in hopes of private gain, which was most
probably the case, in no degree alters the real question at issue between
the two Governments. This Government can never concede to any foreign
government the power, except in a case of the most urgent and extreme
necessity, of invading its territory, either to arrest the persons or
destroy the property of those who may have violated the municipal laws of
such foreign government or have disregarded their obligations arising under
the law of nations. The territory of the United States must be regarded as
sacredly secure against all such invasions until they shall voluntarily
acknowledge their inability to acquit themselves of their duties to others.
And in announcing this sentiment I do but affirm a principle which no
nation on earth would be more ready to vindicate at all hazards than the
people and Government of Great Britain. If upon a full investigation of all
the facts it shall appear that the owner of the Caroline was governed by a
hostile intent or had made common cause with those who were in the
occupancy of Navy Island, then so far as he is concerned there can be no
claim to indemnity for the destruction of his boat which this Government
would feel itself bound to prosecute, since he would have acted not only in
derogation of the rights of Great Britain, but in clear violation of the
laws of the United States; but that is a question which, however settled,
in no manner involves the higher consideration of the violation of
territorial sovereignty and jurisdiction. To recognize it as an admissible
practice that each Government in its turn, upon any sudden and unauthorized
outbreak which, on a frontier the extent of which renders it impossible for
either to have an efficient force on every mile of it, and which outbreak,
therefore, neither may be able to suppress in a day, may take vengeance
into its own hands, and without even a remonstrance, and in the absence of
any pressing or overruling necessity may invade the territory of the other,
would inevitably lead to results equally to be deplored by both. When
border collisions come to receive the sanction or to be made on the
authority of either Government general war must be the inevitable result.
While it is the ardent desire of the United States to cultivate the
relations of peace with all nations and to fulfill all the duties of good
neighborhood toward those who possess territories adjoining their own, that
very desire would lead them to deny the right of any foreign power to
invade their boundary with an armed force. The correspondence between the
two Governments on this subject will at a future day of your session be
submitted to your consideration; and in the meantime I can not but indulge
the hope that the British Government will see the propriety of renouncing
as a rule of future action the precedent which has been set in the affair
at Schlosser.

I herewith submit the correspondence which has recently taken place between
the American minister at the Court of St. James, Mr. Stevenson, and the
minister of foreign affairs of that Government on the right claimed by that
Government to visit and detain vessels sailing under the American flag and
engaged in prosecuting lawful commerce in the African seas. Our commercial
interests in that region have experienced considerable increase and have
become an object of much importance, and it is the duty of this Government
to protect them against all improper and vexatious interruption. However
desirous the United States may be for the suppression of the slave trade,
they can not consent to interpolations into the maritime code at the mere
will and pleasure of other governments. We deny the right of any such
interpolation to any one or all the nations of the earth without our
consent. We claim to have a voice in all amendments or alterations of that
code, and when we are given to understand, as in this instance, by a
foreign government that its treaties with other nations can not be executed
without the establishment and enforcement of new principles of maritime
police, to be applied without our consent, we must employ a language
neither of equivocal import or susceptible of misconstruction. American
citizens prosecuting a lawful commerce in the African seas under the flag
of their country are not responsible for the abuse or unlawful use of that
flag by others; nor can they rightfully on account of any such alleged
abuses be interrupted, molested, or detained while on the ocean, and if
thus molested and detained while pursuing honest voyages in the usual way
and violating no law themselves they are unquestionably entitled to
indemnity. This Government has manifested its repugnance to the slave trade
in a manner which can not be misunderstood. By its fundamental law it
prescribed limits in point of time to its continuance, and against its own
citizens who might so far forget the rights of humanity as to engage in
that wicked traffic it has long since by its municipal laws denounced the
most condign punishment. Many of the States composing this Union had made
appeals to the civilized world for its suppression long before the moral
sense of other nations had become shocked by the iniquities of the traffic.
Whether this Government should now enter into treaties containing mutual
stipulations upon this subject is a question for its mature deliberation.
Certain it is that if the right to detain American ships on the high seas
can be justified on the plea of a necessity for such detention arising out
of the existence of treaties between other nations, the same plea may, be
extended and enlarged by the new stipulations of new treaties to which the
United States may not be a party. This Government will not cease to urge
upon that of Great Britain full and ample remuneration for all losses,
whether arising from detention or otherwise, to which American citizens
have heretofore been or may hereafter be subjected by the exercise of
rights which this Government can not recognize as legitimate and proper.
Nor will I indulge a doubt but that the sense of justice of Great Britain
will constrain her to make retribution for any wrong or loss which any
American citizen engaged in the prosecution of lawful commerce may have
experienced at the hands of her cruisers or other public authorities. This
Government, at the same time, will relax no effort to prevent its citizens,
if there be any so disposed, from prosecuting a traffic so revolting to the
feelings of humanity. It seeks to do no more than to protect the fair and
honest trader from molestation and injury; but while the enterprising
mariner engaged in the pursuit of an honorable trade is entitled to its
protection, it will visit with condign punishment others of an opposite

I invite your attention to existing laws for the suppression of the African
slave trade, and recommend all such alterations as may give to them greater
force and efficacy. That the American flag is grossly abused by the
abandoned and profligate of other nations is but too probable. Congress has
not long since had this subject under its consideration, and its importance
well justifies renewed and anxious attention.

I also communicate herewith the copy of a correspondence between Mr.
Stevenson and Lord Palmerston upon the subject, so interesting to several
of the Southern States, of the rice duties, which resulted honorably to the
justice of Great Britain and advantageously to the United States.

At the opening of the last annual session the President informed Congress
of the progress which had then been made in negotiating a convention
between this Government and that of England with a view to the final
settlement of the question of the boundary between the territorial limits
of the two countries. I regret to say that little further advancement of
the object has been accomplished since last year, but this is owing to
circumstances no way indicative of any abatement of the desire of both
parties to hasten the negotiation to its conclusion and to settle the
question in dispute as early as possible. In the course of the session it
is my hope to be able to announce some further degree of progress toward
the accomplishment of this highly desirable end.

The commission appointed by this Government for the exploration and survey
of the line of boundary separating the States of Maine and New Hampshire
from the conterminous British Provinces is, it is believed, about to close
its field labors and is expected soon to report the results of its
examinations to the Department of State. The report, when received, will be
laid before Congress.

The failure on the part of Spain to pay with punctuality the interest due
under the convention of 1834 for the settlement of claims between the two
countries has made it the duty of the Executive to call the particular
attention of that Government to the subject. A disposition has been
manifested by it, which is believed to be entirely sincere, to fulfill its
obligations in this respect so soon as its internal condition and the state
of its finances will permit. An arrangement is in progress from the result
of which it is trusted that those of our citizens who have claims under the
convention will at no distant day receive the stipulated payments.

A treaty of commerce and navigation with Belgium was concluded and signed
at Washington on the 29th of March, 1840, and was duly sanctioned by the
Senate of the United States. The treaty was ratified by His Belgian
Majesty, but did not receive the approbation of the Belgian Chambers within
the time limited by its terms, and has therefore become void.

This occurrence assumes the graver aspect from the consideration that in
1833 a treaty negotiated between the two Governments and ratified on the
part of the United States failed to be ratified on the part of Belgium. The
representative of that Government at Washington informs the Department of
State that he has been instructed to give explanations of the causes which
occasioned delay in the approval of the late treaty by the legislature, and
to express the regret of the King at the occurrence.

The joint commission under the convention with Texas to ascertain the true
boundary between the two countries has concluded its labors, but the final
report of the commissioner of the United States has not been received. It
is understood, however, that the meridian line as traced by the commission
lies somewhat farther east than the position hitherto generally assigned to
it, and consequently includes in Texas some part of the territory which had
been considered as belonging to the States of Louisiana and Arkansas.

The United States can not but take a deep interest in whatever relates to
this young but growing Republic. Settled principally by emigrants from the
United States, we have the happiness to know that the great principles of
civil liberty are there destined to flourish under wise institutions and
wholesome laws, and that through its example another evidence is to be
afforded of the capacity of popular institutions to advance the prosperity,
happiness, and permanent glory of the human race. The great truth that
government was made for the people and not the people for government has
already been established in the practice and by the example of these United
States, and we can do no other than contemplate its further exemplification
by a sister republic with the deepest interest.

Our relations with the independent States of this hemisphere, formerly
under the dominion of Spain, have not undergone any material change within
the past year. The incessant sanguinary conflicts in or between those
countries are to be greatly deplored as necessarily tending to disable them
from performing their duty as members of the community of nations and
rising to the destiny which the position and natural resources of many of
them might lead them justly to anticipate, as constantly giving occasion
also, directly or indirectly, for complaints on the part of our citizens
who resort thither for purposes of commercial intercourse, and as retarding
reparation for wrongs already committed, some of which are by no means of
recent date.

The failure of the Congress of Ecuador to hold a session at the time
appointed for that purpose, in January last, will probably render abortive
a treaty of commerce with that Republic, which was signed at Quito on the
13th of June, 1839, and had been duly ratified on our part, but which
required the approbation of that body prior to its ratification by the
Ecuadorian Executive.

A convention which has been concluded with the Republic of Peru, providing
for the settlement of certain claims of citizens of the United States upon
the Government of that Republic, will be duly submitted to the Senate.

The claims of our citizens against the Brazilian Government originating
from captures and other causes are still unsatisfied. The United States
have, however, so uniformly shown a disposition to cultivate relations of
amity with that Empire that it is hoped the unequivocal tokens of the same
spirit toward us which an adjustment of the affairs referred to would
afford will be given without further avoidable delay.

The war with the Indian tribes on the peninsula of Florida has during the
last summer and fall been prosecuted with untiring activity and zeal. A
summer campaign was resolved upon as the best mode of bringing it to a
close. Our brave officers and men who have been engaged in that service
have suffered toils and privations and exhibited an energy which in any
other war would have won for them unfading laurels. In despite of the
sickness incident to the climate, they have penetrated the fastnesses of
the Indians, broken up their encampments, and harassed them unceasingly.
Numbers have been captured, and still greater numbers have surrendered and
have been transported to join their brethren on the lands elsewhere
allotted to them by the Government, and a strong hope is entertained that
under the conduct of the gallant officer at the head of the troops in
Florida that troublesome and expensive war is destined to a speedy
termination. With all the other Indian tribes we are enjoying the blessings
of peace. Our duty as well as our best interests prompts us to observe in
all our intercourse with them fidelity in fulfilling our engagements, the
practice of strict justice, as well as the constant exercise of acts of
benevolence and kindness. These are the great instruments of civilization,
and through the use of them alone can the untutored child of the forest be
induced to listen to its teachings.

The Secretary of State, on whom the acts of Congress have devolved the duty
of directing the proceedings for the taking of the sixth census or
enumeration of the inhabitants of the United States, will report to the two
Houses the progress of that work. The enumeration of persons has been
completed, and exhibits a grand total of 17,069,453, making an increase
over the census of 1830 of 4,202,646 inhabitants, and showing a gain in a
ratio exceeding 32 1/2 per cent for the last ten years.

From the report of the Secretary of the Treasury you will be informed of
the condition of the finances. The balance in the Treasury on the 1st of
January last, as stated in the report of the Secretary of the Treasury
submitted to Congress at the extra session, was $987,345.03. The receipts
into the Treasury during the first three quarters of this year from all
sources amount to $23,467,072.52; the estimated receipts for the fourth
quarter amount to $6,943,095.25, amounting to $30,410,167.77, and making
with the balance in the Treasury on the 1st of January last $31,397,512.80.
The expenditures for the first three quarters of this year amount to
$24,734,346.97. The expenditures for the fourth quarter as estimated will
amount to $7,290,723.73, thus making a total of $32,025,070.70, and leaving
a deficit to be provided for on the 1st of January next of about

Of the loan of $12,000,000 which was authorized by Congress at its late
session only $5,432,726.88 have been negotiated. The shortness of time
which it had to run has presented no inconsiderable impediment in the way
of its being taken by capitalists at home, while the same cause would have
operated with much greater force in the foreign market. For that reason the
foreign market has not been resorted to; and it is now submitted whether it
would not be advisable to amend the law by making what remains undisposed
of payable at a more distant day.

Should it be necessary, in any view that Congress may take of the subject,
to revise the existing tariff of duties, I beg leave to say that in the
performance of that most delicate operation moderate counsels would seem to
be the wisest. The Government under which it is our happiness to live owes
its existence to the spirit of compromise which prevailed among its
framers; jarring and discordant opinions could only have been reconciled by
that noble spirit of patriotism which prompted conciliation and resulted in
harmony. In the same spirit the compromise bill, as it is commonly called,
was adopted at the session of 1833. While the people of no portion of the
Union will ever hesitate to pay all necessary taxes for the support of
Government, yet an innate repugnance exists to the imposition of burthens
not really necessary for that object. In imposing duties, however, for the
purposes of revenue a right to discriminate as to the articles on which the
duty shall be laid, as well as the amount, necessarily and most properly
exists; otherwise the Government would be placed in the condition of having
to levy the same duties upon all articles, the productive as well as the
unproductive. The slightest duty upon some might have the effect of causing
their importation to cease, whereas others, entering extensively into the
consumption of the country, might bear the heaviest without any sensible
diminution in the amount imported. So also the Government may be justified
in so discriminating by reference to other considerations of domestic
policy connected with our manufactures. So long as the duties shall be laid
with distinct reference to the wants of the Treasury no well-rounded
objection can exist against them. It might be esteemed desirable that no
such augmentation of the taxes should take place as would have the effect
of annulling the land-proceeds distribution act of the last session, which
act is declared to be inoperative the moment the duties are increased
beyond 20 per cent, the maximum rate established by the compromise act.
Some of the provisions of the compromise act, which will go into effect on
the 30th day of June next, may, however, be found exceedingly inconvenient
in practice under any regulations that Congress may adopt. I refer more
particularly to that relating to the home valuation. A difference in value
of the same articles to some extent will necessarily exist at different
ports, but that is altogether insignificant when compared with the
conflicts in valuation which are likely to arise from the differences of
opinion among the numerous appraisers of merchandise. In many instances the
estimates of value must be conjectural, and thus as many different rates of
value may be established as there are appraisers. These differences in
valuation may also be increased by the inclination which, without the
slightest imputation on their honesty, may arise on the part of the
appraisers in favor of their respective ports of entry. I recommend this
whole subject to the consideration of Congress with a single additional
remark. Certainty and permanency in any system of governmental policy are
in all respects eminently desirable, but more particularly is this true in
all that affects trade and commerce, the operations of which depend much
more on the certainty of their returns and calculations which embrace
distant periods of time than on high bounties or duties, which are liable
to constant fluctuations.

At your late session I invited your attention to the condition of the
currency and exchanges and urged the necessity of adopting such measures as
were consistent with the constitutional competency of the Government in
order to correct the unsoundness of the one and, as far as practicable, the
inequalities of the other. No country can be in the enjoyment of its full
measure of prosperity without the presence of a medium of exchange
approximating to uniformity of value. What is necessary as between the
different nations of the earth is also important as between the inhabitants
of different parts of the same country. With the first the precious metals
constitute the chief medium of circulation, and such also would be the case
as to the last but for inventions comparatively modern, which have
furnished in place of gold and silver a paper circulation. I do not propose
to enter into a comparative analysis of the merits of the two systems. Such
belonged more properly to the period of the introduction of the paper
system. The speculative philosopher might find inducements to prosecute the
inquiry, but his researches could only lead him to conclude that the paper
system had probably better never have been introduced and that society
might have been much happier without it. The practical statesman has a very
different task to perform. He has to look at things as they are, to take
them as he finds them, to supply deficiencies and to prune excesses as far
as in him lies. The task of furnishing a corrective for derangements of the
paper medium with us is almost inexpressibly great. The power exerted by
the States to charter banking corporations, and which, having been carried
to a great excess, has filled the country with, in most of the States, an
irredeemable paper medium, is an evil which in some way or other requires a
corrective. The rates at which bills of exchange are negotiated between
different parts of the country furnish an index of the value of the local
substitute for gold and silver, which is in many parts so far depreciated
as not to be received except at a large discount in payment of debts or in
the purchase of produce. It could earnestly be desired that every bank not
possessing the means of resumption should follow the example of the late
United States Bank of Pennsylvania and go into liquidation rather than by
refusing to do so to continue embarrassments in the way of solvent
institutions, thereby augmenting the difficulties incident to the present
condition of things. Whether this Government, with due regard to the rights
of the States, has any power to constrain the banks either to resume specie
payments or to force them into liquidation, is an inquiry which will not
fail to claim your consideration. In view of the great advantages which are
allowed the corporators, not among the least of which is the authority
contained in most of their charters to make loans to three times the amount
of their capital, thereby often deriving three times as much interest on
the same amount of money as any individual is permitted by law to receive,
no sufficient apology can be urged for a long-continued suspension of
specie payments. Such suspension is productive of the greatest detriment to
the public by expelling from circulation the precious metals and seriously
hazarding the success of any effort that this Government can make to
increase commercial facilities and to advance the public interests.

This is the more to be regretted and the indispensable necessity for a
sound currency becomes the more manifest when we reflect on the vast amount
of the internal commerce of the country. Of this we have no statistics nor
just data for forming adequate opinions. But there can be no doubt but that
the amount of transportation coastwise by sea, and the transportation
inland by railroads and canals, and by steamboats and other modes of
conveyance over the surface of our vast rivers and immense lakes, and the
value of property carried and interchanged by these means form a general
aggregate to which the foreign commerce of the country, large as it is,
makes but a distant approach.

In the absence of any controlling power over this subject, which, by
forcing a general resumption of specie payments, would at once have the
effect of restoring a sound medium of exchange and would leave to the
country but little to desire, what measure of relief falling within the
limits of our constitutional competency does it become this Government to
adopt? It was my painful duty at your last session, under the weight of
most solemn obligations, to differ with Congress on the measures which it
proposed for my approval, and which it doubtless regarded as corrective of
existing evils. Subsequent reflection and events since occurring have only
served to confirm me in the opinions then entertained and frankly
expressed. I must be permitted to add that no scheme of governmental policy
unaided by individual exertions can be available for ameliorating the
present condition of things. Commercial modes of exchange and a good
currency are but the necessary means of commerce and intercourse, not the
direct productive sources of wealth. Wealth can only be accumulated by the
earnings of industry and the savings of frugality, and nothing can be more
ill judged than to look to facilities in borrowing or to a redundant
circulation for the power of discharging pecuniary obligations. The country
is full of resources and the people fall of energy, and the great and
permanent remedy for present embarrassments must be sought in industry,
economy, the observance of good faith, and the favorable influence of time.
In pursuance of a pledge given to you in my last message to Congress, which
pledge I urge as an apology for adventuring to present you the details of
any plan, the Secretary of the Treasury will be ready to submit to you,
should you require it, a plan of finance which, while it throws around the
public treasure reasonable guards for its protection and rests on powers
acknowledged in practice to exist from the origin of the Government, will
at the same time furnish to the country a sound paper medium and afford all
reasonable facilities for regulating the exchanges. When submitted, you
will perceive in it a plan amendatory of the existing laws in relation to
the Treasury Department, subordinate in all respects to the will of
Congress directly and the will of the people indirectly, self-sustaining
should it be found in practice to realize its promises in theory, and
repealable at the pleasure of Congress. It proposes by effectual restraints
and by invoking the true spirit of our institutions to separate the purse
from the sword, or, more properly to speak, denies any other control to the
President over the agents who may be selected to carry it into execution
but what may be indispensably necessary to secure the fidelity of such
agents, and by wise regulations keeps plainly apart from each other private
and public funds. It contemplates the establishment of a board of control
at the seat of government, with agencies at prominent commercial points or
wherever else Congress shall direct, for the safe-keeping and disbursement
of the public moneys and a substitution at the option of the public
creditor of Treasury notes in lieu of gold and silver. It proposes to limit
the issues to an amount not to exceed $15,000,000 without the express
sanction of the legislative power. It also authorizes the receipt of
individual deposits of gold and silver to a limited amount, and the
granting certificates of deposit divided into such sums as may be called
for by the depositors. It proceeds a step further and authorizes the
purchase and sale of domestic bills and drafts resting on a real and
substantial basis, payable at sight or having but a short time to run, and
drawn on places not less than 100 miles apart, which authority, except in
so far as may be necessary for Government purposes exclusively, is only to
be exerted upon the express condition that its exercise shall not be
prohibited by the State in which the agency is situated. In order to cover
the expenses incident to the plan, it will be authorized to receive
moderate premiums for certificates issued on deposits and on bills bought
and sold, and thus, as far as its dealings extend, to furnish facilities to
commercial intercourse at the lowest possible rates and to subduct from the
earnings of industry the least possible sum. It uses the State banks at a
distance from the agencies as auxiliaries without imparting any power to
trade in its name. It is subjected to such guards and restraints as have
appeared to be necessary. It is the creature of law and exists only at the
pleasure of the Legislature. It is made to rest on an actual specie basis
in order to redeem the notes at the places of issue, produces no dangerous
redundancy of circulation, affords no temptation to speculation, is
attended by no inflation of prices, is equable in its operation, makes the
Treasury notes (which it may use along with the certificates of deposit and
the notes of specie-paying banks) convertible at the place where collected,
receivable in payment of Government dues, and without violating any
principle of the Constitution affords the Government and the people such
facilities as are called for by the wants of both. Such, it has appeared to
me, are its recommendations, and in view of them it will be submitted,
whenever you may require it, to your consideration.

I am not able to perceive that any fair and candid objection can be urged
against the plan, the principal outlines of which I have thus presented. I
can not doubt but that the notes which it proposes to furnish at the
voluntary option of the public creditor, issued in lieu of the revenue and
its certificates of deposit, will be maintained at an equality with gold
and silver everywhere. They are redeemable in gold and silver on demand at
the places of issue. They are receivable everywhere in payment of
Government dues. The Treasury notes are limited to an amount of one-fourth
less than the estimated annual receipts of the Treasury, and in addition
they rest upon the faith of the Government for their redemption. If all
these assurances are not sufficient to make them available, then the idea,
as it seems to me, of furnishing a sound paper medium of exchange may be
entirely abandoned.

If a fear be indulged that the Government may be tempted to run into excess
in its issues at any future day, it seems to me that no such apprehension
can reasonably be entertained until all confidence in the representatives
of the States and of the people, as well as of the people themselves, shall
be lost. The weightiest considerations of policy require that the
restraints now proposed to be thrown around the measure should not for
light causes be removed. To argue against any proposed plan its liability
to possible abuse is to reject every expedient, since everything dependent
on human action is liable to abuse. Fifteen millions of Treasury notes may
be issued as the maximum, but a discretionary power is to be given to the
board of control under that sum, and every consideration will unite in
leading them to feel their way with caution. For the first eight years of
the existence of the late Bank of the United States its circulation barely
exceeded $4,000,000, and for five of its most prosperous years it was about
equal to $16,000,000; furthermore, the authority given to receive private
deposits to a limited amount and to issue certificates in such sums as may
be called for by the depositors may so far fill up the channels of
circulation as greatly to diminish the necessity of any considerable issue
of Treasury notes. A restraint upon the amount of private deposits has
seemed to be indispensably necessary from an apprehension, thought to be
well founded, that in any emergency of trade confidence might be so far
shaken in the banks as to induce a withdrawal from them of private deposits
with a view to insure their unquestionable safety when deposited with the
Government, which might prove eminently disastrous to the State banks. Is
it objected that it is proposed to authorize the agencies to deal in bills
of exchange? It is answered that such dealings are to be carried on at the
lowest possible premium, are made to rest on an unquestionably sound basis,
are designed to reimburse merely the expenses which would otherwise devolve
upon the Treasury, and are in strict subordination to the decision of the
Supreme Court in the case of the Bank of Augusta against Earle, and other
reported cases, and thereby avoids all conflict with State jurisdiction,
which I hold to be indispensably requisite. It leaves the banking
privileges of the States without interference, looks to the Treasury and
the Union, and while furnishing every facility to the first is careful of
the interests of the last. But above all, it is created by law, is
amendable by law, and is repealable by law, and, wedded as I am to no
theory, but looking solely to the advancement of the public good, I shall
be among the very first to urge its repeal if it be found not to subserve
the purposes and objects for which it may be created. Nor will the plan be
submitted in any overweening confidence in the sufficiency of my own
judgment, but with much greater reliance on the wisdom and patriotism of
Congress. I can not abandon this subject without urging upon you in the
most emphatic manner, whatever may be your action on the suggestions which
I have felt it to be my duty to submit, to relieve the Chief Executive
Magistrate, by any and all constitutional means, from a controlling power
over the public Treasury. If in the plan proposed, should you deem it
worthy of your consideration, that separation is not as complete as you may
desire, you will doubtless amend it in that particular. For myself, I
disclaim all desire to have any control over the public moneys other than
what is indispensably necessary to execute the laws which you may pass.

Nor can I fail to advert in this connection to the debts which many of the
States of the Union have contracted abroad and under which they continue to
labor. That indebtedness amounts to a sum not less than $200,000,000, and
which has been retributed to them for the most part in works of internal
improvement which are destined to prove of vast importance in ultimately
advancing their prosperity and wealth. For the debts thus contracted the
States are alone responsible. I can do not more than express the belief
that each State will feel itself bound by every consideration of honor as
well as of interest to meet its engagements with punctuality. The failure,
however, of any one State to do so should in no degree affect the credit of
the rest, and the foreign capitalist will have no just cause to experience
alarm as to all other State stocks because any one or more of the States
may neglect to provide with punctuality the means of redeeming their
engagements. Even such States, should there be any, considering the great
rapidity with which their resources are developing themselves, will not
fail to have the means at no very distant day to redeem their obligations
to the uttermost farthing; nor will I doubt but that, in view of that
honorable conduct which has evermore governed the States and the people of
the Union, they will each and all resort to every legitimate expedient
before they will forego a faithful compliance with their obligations.

From the report of the Secretary of War and other reports accompanying it
you will be informed of the progress which has been made in the
fortifications designed for the protection of our principal cities,
roadsteads, and inland frontier during the present year, together with
their true state and condition. They will be prosecuted to completion with
all the expedition which the means placed by Congress at the disposal of
the Executive will allow.

I recommend particularly to your consideration that portion of the
Secretary's report which proposes the establishment of a chain of military
posts from Council Bluffs to some point on the Pacific Ocean within our
limits. The benefit thereby destined to accrue to our citizens engaged in
the fur trade over that wilderness region, added to the importance of
cultivating friendly relations with savage tribes inhabiting it, and at the
same time of giving protection to our frontier settlements and of
establishing the means of safe intercourse between the American settlements
at the mouth of the Columbia River and those on this side of the Rocky
Mountains, would seem to suggest the importance of carrying into effect the
recommendations upon this head with as little delay as may be practicable.

The report of the Secretary of the Navy will place you in possession of the
present condition of that important arm of the national defense. Every
effort will be made to add to its efficiency, and I can not too strongly
urge upon you liberal appropriations to that branch of the public service.
Inducements of the weightiest character exist for the adoption of this
course of policy. Our extended and otherwise exposed maritime frontier
calls for protection, to the furnishing of which an efficient naval force
is indispensable. We look to no foreign conquests, nor do we propose to
enter into competition with any other nation for supremacy on the ocean;
but it is due not only to the honor but to the security of the people of
the United States that no nation should be permitted to invade our waters
at pleasure and subject our towns and villages to conflagration or pillage.
Economy in all branches of the public service is due from all the public
agents to the people, but parsimony alone would suggest the withholding of
the necessary means for the protection of our domestic firesides from
invasion and our national honor from disgrace. I would most earnestly
recommend to Congress to abstain from all appropriations for objects not
absolutely necessary; but I take upon myself, without a moment of
hesitancy, all the responsibility of recommending the increase and prompt
equipment of that gallant Navy which has lighted up every sea with its
victories and spread an imperishable glory over the country.

The report of the Postmaster-General will claim your particular attention,
not only because of the valuable suggestions which it contains, but because
of the great importance which at all times attaches to that interesting
branch of the public service. The increased expense of transporting the
mail along the principal routes necessarily claims the public attention,
and has awakened a corresponding solicitude on the part of the Government.
The transmission of the mail must keep pace with those facilities of
intercommunication which are every day becoming greater through the
building of railroads and the application of steam power, but it can not be
disguised that in order to do so the Post-Office Department is subjected to
heavy exactions. The lines of communication between distant parts of the
Union are to a great extent occupied by railroads, which, in the nature of
things, possess a complete monopoly, and the Department is therefore liable
to heavy and unreasonable charges. This evil is destined to great increase
in future, and some timely measure may become necessary to guard against

I feel it my duty to bring under your consideration a practice which has
grown up in the administration of the Government, and which, I am deeply
convinced, ought to be corrected. I allude to the exercise of the power
which usage rather than reason has vested in the Presidents of removing
incumbents from office in order to substitute others more in favor with the
dominant party. My own conduct in this respect has been governed by a
conscientious purpose to exercise the removing power only in cases of
unfaithfulness or inability, or in those in which its exercise appeared
necessary in order to discountenance and suppress that spirit of active
partisanship on the part of holders of office which not only withdraws them
from the steady and impartial discharge of their official duties, but
exerts an undue and injurious influence over elections and degrades the
character of the Government itself, inasmuch as it exhibits the Chief
Magistrate as being a party through his agents in the secret plots or open
workings of political parties.

In respect to the exercise of this power nothing should be left to
discretion which may safely be regulated by law, and it is of high
importance to restrain as far as possible the stimulus of personal
interests in public elections. Considering the great increase which has
been made in public offices in the last quarter of a century and the
probability of further increase, we incur the hazard of witnessing violent
political contests, directed too often to the single object of retaining
office by those who are in or obtaining it by those who are out. Under the
influence of these convictions I shall cordially concur in any
constitutional measure for regulating and, by regulating, restraining the
power of removal.

I suggest for your consideration the propriety of making without further
delay some specific application of the funds derived under the will of Mr.
Smithson, of England, for the diffusion of knowledge, and which have
heretofore been vested in public stocks until such time as Congress should
think proper to give them a specific direction. Nor will you, I feel
confident, permit any abatement of the principal of the legacy to be made
should it turn out that the stocks in which the investments have been made
have undergone a depreciation.

In conclusion I commend to your care the interests of this District, for
which you are the exclusive legislators. Considering that this city is the
residence of the Government and for a large part of the year of Congress,
and considering also the great cost of the public buildings and the
propriety of affording them at all times careful protection, it seems not
unreasonable that Congress should contribute toward the expense of an
efficient police.


State of the Union Address
John Tyler
December 6, 1842

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

We have continued reason to express our profound gratitude to the Great
Creator of All Things for numberless benefits conferred upon us as a
people. Blessed with genial seasons, the husbandman has his garners filled
with abundance, and the necessaries of life, not to speak of its luxuries,
abound in every direction. While in some other nations steady and
industrious labor can hardly find the means of subsistence, the greatest
evil which we have to encounter is a surplus of production beyond the home
demand, which seeks, and with difficulty finds, a partial market in other
regions. The health of the country, with partial exceptions, has for the
past year been well preserved, and under their free and wise institutions
the United States are rapidly advancing toward the consummation of the high
destiny which an overruling Providence seems to have marked out for them.
Exempt from domestic convulsion and at peace with all the world, we are
left free to consult as to the best means of securing and advancing the
happiness of the people. Such are the circumstances under which you now
assemble in your respective chambers and which should lead us to unite in
praise and thanksgiving to that great Being who made us and who preserves
us as a nation.

I congratulate you, fellow-citizens, on the happy change in the aspect of
our foreign affairs since my last annual message. Causes of complaint at
that time existed between the United States and Great Britain which,
attended by irritating circumstances, threatened most seriously the public
peace. The difficulty of adjusting amicably the questions at issue between
the two countries was in no small degree augmented by the lapse of time
since they had their origin. The opinions entertained by the Executive on
several of the leading topics in dispute were frankly set forth in the
message at the opening of your late session. The appointment of a special
minister by Great Britain to the United States with power to negotiate upon
most of the points of difference indicated a desire on her part amicably to
adjust them, and that minister was met by the Executive in the same spirit
which had dictated his mission. The treaty consequent thereon having been
duly ratified by the two Governments, a copy, together with the
correspondence which accompanied it, is herewith communicated. I trust that
whilst you may see in it nothing objectionable, it may be the means of
preserving for an indefinite period the amicable relations happily existing
between the two Governments. The question of peace or war between the
United States and Great Britain is a question of the deepest interest, not
only to themselves, but to the civilized world, since it is scarcely
possible that a war could exist between them without endangering the peace
of Christendom. The immediate effect of the treaty upon ourselves will be
felt in the security afforded to mercantile enterprise, which, no longer
apprehensive of interruption, adventures its speculations in the most
distant seas, and, freighted with the diversified productions of every
land, returns to bless our own. There is nothing in the treaty which in the
slightest degree compromits the honor or dignity of either nation. Next to
the settlement of the boundary line, which must always be a matter of
difficulty between states as between individuals, the question which seemed
to threaten the greatest embarrassment was that connected with the African
slave trade.

By the tenth article of the treaty of Ghent it was expressly declared

Whereas the traffic in slaves is irreconcilable with the principles of
humanity and justice, and whereas both His Majesty and the United States
are desirous of continuing their efforts to promote its entire abolition,
it is hereby agreed that both the contracting parties shall use their best
endeavors to accomplish so desirable an object.

In the enforcement of the laws and treaty stipulations of Great Britain a
practice had threatened to grow up on the part of its cruisers of
subjecting to visitation ships sailing under the American flag, which,
while it seriously involved our maritime rights, would subject to vexation
a branch of our trade which was daily increasing, and which required the
fostering care of Government. And although Lord Aberdeen in his
correspondence with the American envoys at London expressly disclaimed all
right to detain an American ship on the high seas, even if found with a
cargo of slaves on board, and restricted the British pretension to a mere
claim to visit and inquire, yet it could not well be discerned by the
Executive of the United States how such visit and inquiry could be made
without detention on the voyage and consequent interruption to the trade.
It was regarded as the right of search presented only in a new form and
expressed in different words, and I therefore felt it to be my duty
distinctly to declare in my annual message to Congress that no such
concession could be made, and that the United States had both the will and
the ability to enforce their own laws and to protect their flag from being
used for purposes wholly forbidden by those laws and obnoxious to the moral
censure of the world. Taking the message as his letter of instructions, our
then minister at Paris felt himself required to assume the same ground in a
remonstrance which he felt it to be his duty to present to Mr. Guizot, and
through him to the King of the French, against what has been called the
"quintuple treaty;" and his conduct in this respect met with the approval
of this Government. In close conformity with these views the eighth article
of the treaty was framed; which provides "that each nation shall keep
afloat in the African seas a force not less than 80 guns, to act separately
and apart, under instructions from their respective Governments, and for
the enforcement of their respective laws and obligations." From this it
will be seen that the ground assumed in the message has been fully
maintained at the same time that the stipulations of the treaty of Ghent
are to be carried out in good faith by the two countries, and that all
pretense is removed for interference with our commerce for any purpose
whatever by a foreign government. While, therefore, the United States have
been standing up for the freedom of the seas, they have not thought proper
to make that a pretext for avoiding a fulfillment of their treaty
stipulations or a ground for giving countenance to a trade reprobated by
our laws. A similar arrangement by the other great powers could not fail to
sweep from the ocean the slave trade without the interpolation of any new
principle into the maritime code. We may be permitted to hope that the
example thus set will be followed by some if not all of them. We thereby
also afford suitable protection to the fair trader in those seas, thus
fulfilling at the same time the dictates of a sound policy and complying
with the claims of justice and humanity.

It would have furnished additional cause for congratulation if the treaty
could have embraced all subjects calculated in future to lead to a
misunderstanding between the two Governments. The Territory of the United
States commonly called the Oregon Territory, lying on the Pacific Ocean
north of the forty-second degree of latitude, to a portion of which Great
Britain lays claim, begins to attract the attention of our fellow-citizens,
and the tide of population which has reclaimed what was so lately an
unbroken wilderness in more contiguous regions is preparing to flow over
those vast districts which stretch from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific
Ocean. In advance of the acquirement of individual rights to these lands,
sound policy dictates that every effort should be resorted to by the two
Governments to settle their respective claims. It became manifest at an
early hour of the late negotiations that any attempt for the time being
satisfactorily to determine those rights would lead to a protracted
discussion, which might embrace in its failure other more pressing matters,
and the Executive did not regard it as proper to waive all the advantages
of an honorable adjustment of other difficulties of great magnitude and
importance because this, not so immediately pressing, stood in the way.
Although the difficulty referred to may not for several years to come
involve the peace of the two countries, yet I shall not delay to urge on
Great Britain the importance of its early settlement. Nor will other
matters of commercial importance to the two countries be overlooked, and I
have good reason to believe that it will comport with the policy of
England, as it does with that of the United States, to seize upon this
moment, when most of the causes of irritation have passed away, to cement
the peace and amity of the two countries by wisely removing all grounds of
probable future collision.

With the other powers of Europe our relations continue on the most amicable
footing. Treaties now existing with them should be rigidly observed, and
every opportunity compatible with the interests of the United States should
be seized upon to enlarge the basis of commercial intercourse. Peace with
all the world is the true foundation of our policy, which can only be
rendered permanent by the practice of equal and impartial justice to all.
Our great desire should be to enter only into that rivalry which looks to
the general good in the cultivation of the sciences, the enlargement of the
field for the exercise of the mechanical arts, and the spread of
commerce--that great civilizer--to every land and sea. Carefully abstaining
from interference in all questions exclusively referring themselves to the
political interests of Europe, we may be permitted to hope an equal
exemption from the interference of European Governments in what relates to
the States of the American continent.

On the 23d of April last the commissioners on the part of the United States
under the convention with the Mexican Republic of the 11th of April, 1839,
made to the proper Department a final report in relation to the proceedings
of the commission. From this it appears that the total amount awarded to
the claimants by the commissioners and the umpire appointed under that
convention was $2,026,079.68. The arbiter having considered that his
functions were required by the convention to terminate at the same time
with those of the commissioners, returned to the board, undecided for want
of time, claims which had been allowed by the American commissioners to the
amount of $928,620.88. Other claims, in which the amount sought to be
recovered was $3,336,837.05, were submitted to the board too late for its
consideration. The minister of the United States at Mexico has been duly
authorized to make demand for payment of the awards according to the terms
of the convention and the provisions of the act of Congress of the 12th of
June, 1840. He has also been instructed to communicate to that Government
the expectations of the Government of the United States in relation to
those claims which were not disposed of according to the provisions of the
convention, and all others of citizens of the United States against the
Mexican Government. He has also been furnished with other instructions, to
be followed by him in case the Government of Mexico should not find itself
in a condition to make present payment of the amount of the awards in
specie or its equivalent.

I am happy to be able to say that information which is esteemed favorable
both to a just satisfaction of the awards and a reasonable provision for
other claims has been recently received from Mr. Thompson, the minister of
the United States, who has promptly and efficiently executed the
instructions of his Government in regard to this important subject.

The citizens of the United States who accompanied the late Texan expedition
to Santa Fe, and who were wrongfully taken and held as prisoners of war in
Mexico, have all been liberated.

A correspondence has taken place between the Department of State and the
Mexican minister of foreign affairs upon the complaint of Mexico that
citizens of the United States were permitted to give aid to the inhabitants
of Texas in the war existing between her and that Republic. Copies of this
correspondence are herewith communicated to Congress, together with copies
of letters on the same subject addressed to the diplomatic corps at Mexico
by the American minister and the Mexican secretary of state.

Mexico has thought proper to reciprocate the mission of the United States
to that Government by accrediting to this a minister of the same rank as
that of the representative of the United States in Mexico. From the
circumstances connected with his mission favorable results are anticipated
from it. It is so obviously for the interest of both countries as neighbors
and friends that all just causes of mutual dissatisfaction should be
removed that it is to be hoped neither will omit or delay the employment of
any practicable and honorable means to accomplish that end.

The affairs pending between this Government and several others of the
States of this hemisphere formerly under the dominion of Spain have again
within the past year been materially obstructed by the military revolutions
and conflicts in those countries.

The ratifications of the treaty between the United States and the Republic
of Ecuador of the 13th of June, 1839, have been exchanged, and that
instrument has been duly promulgated on the part of this Government. Copies
are now communicated to Congress with a view to enable that body to make
such changes in the laws applicable to our intercourse with that Republic
as may be deemed requisite.

Provision has been made by the Government of Chile for the payment of the
claim on account of the illegal detention of the brig Warrior at Coquimbo
in 1820. This Government has reason to expect that other claims of our
citizens against Chile will be hastened to a final and satisfactory close.

The Empire of Brazil has not been altogether exempt from those convulsions
which so constantly afflict the neighboring republics. Disturbances which
recently broke out are, however, now understood to be quieted. But these
occurrences, by threatening the stability of the governments, or by causing
incessant and violent changes in them or in the persons who administer
them, tend greatly to retard provisions for a just indemnity for losses and
injuries suffered by individual subjects or citizens of other states. The
Government of the United States will feel it to be its duty, however, to
consent to no delay not unavoidable in making satisfaction for wrongs and
injuries sustained by its own citizens. Many years having in some cases
elapsed, a decisive and effectual course of proceeding will be demanded of
the respective governments against whom claims have been preferred.

The vexatious, harassing, and expensive war which so long prevailed with
the Indian tribes inhabiting the peninsula of Florida has happily been
terminated, whereby our Army has been relieved from a service of the most
disagreeable character and the Treasury from a large expenditure. Some
casual outbreaks may occur, such as are incident to the close proximity of
border settlers and the Indians, but these, as in all other cases, may be
left to the care of the local authorities, aided when occasion may require
by the forces of the United States. A sufficient number of troops will be
maintained in Florida so long as the remotest apprehensions of danger shall
exist, yet their duties will be limited rather to the garrisoning of the
necessary posts than to the maintenance of active hostilities. It is to be
hoped that a territory so long retarded in its growth will now speedily
recover from the evils incident to a protracted war, exhibiting in the
increased amount of its rich productions true evidences of returning wealth
and prosperity. By the practice of rigid justice toward the numerous Indian
tribes residing within our territorial limits and the exercise of a
parental vigilance over their interests, protecting them against fraud and
intrusion, and at the same time using every proper expedient to introduce
among them the arts of civilized life, we may fondly hope not only to wean
them from their love of war, but to inspire them with a love for peace and
all its avocations. With several of the tribes great progress in civilizing
them has already been made. The schoolmaster and the missionary are found
side by side, and the remnants of what were once numerous and powerful
nations may yet be preserved as the builders up of a new name for
themselves and their posterity.

The balance in the Treasury on the 1st of January, 1842, exclusive of the
amount deposited with the States, trust funds, and indemnities, was
$230,483.68. The receipts into the Treasury during the three first quarters
of the present year from all sources amount to $26,616,593.78, of which
more than fourteen millions were received from customs and about one
million from the public lands. The receipts for the fourth quarter are
estimated at nearly eight millions, of which four millions are expected
from customs and three millions and a half from loans and Treasury notes.
The expenditures of the first three quarters of the present year exceed
twenty-six millions, and those estimated for the fourth quarter amount to
about eight millions; and it is anticipated there will be a deficiency of
half a million on the 1st of January next, but that the amount of
outstanding warrants (estimated at $800,000) will leave an actual balance
of about $224,000 in the Treasury. Among the expenditures of this year are
more than eight millions for the public debt and about $600,000 on account
of the distribution to the States of the proceeds of sales of the public

The present tariff of duties was somewhat hastily and hurriedly passed near
the close of the late session of Congress. That it should have defects can
therefore be surprising to no one. To remedy such defects as may be found
to exist in any of its numerous provisions will not fail to claim your
serious attention. It may well merit inquiry whether the exaction of all
duties in cash does not call for the introduction of a system which has
proved highly beneficial in countries where it has been adopted. I refer to
the warehousing system. The first and most prominent effect which it would
produce would be to protect the market alike against redundant or deficient
supplies of foreign fabrics, both of which in the long run are injurious as
well to the manufacturer as the importer. The quantity of goods in store
being at all times readily known, it would enable the importer with an
approach to accuracy to ascertain the actual wants of the market and to
regulate himself accordingly. If, however, he should fall into error by
importing an excess above the public wants, he could readily correct its
evils by availing himself of the benefits and advantages of the system thus
established. In the storehouse the goods imported would await the demand of
the market and their issues would be governed by the fixed principles of
demand and supply. Thus an approximation would be made to a steadiness and
uniformity of price, which if attainable would conduce to the decided
advantage of mercantile and mechanical operations.

The apprehension may be well entertained that without something to
ameliorate the rigor of cash payments the entire import trade may fall into
the hands of a few wealthy capitalists in this country and in Europe. The
small importer, who requires all the money he can raise for investments
abroad, and who can but ill afford to pay the lowest duty, would have to
subduct in advance a portion of his funds in order to pay the duties, and
would lose the interest upon the amount thus paid for all the time the
goods might remain unsold, which might absorb his profits. The rich
capitalist, abroad as well as at home, would thus possess after a short
time an almost exclusive monopoly of the import trade, and laws designed
for the benefit of all would thus operate for the benefit of a few--a
result wholly uncongenial with the spirit of our institutions and
antirepublican in all its tendencies. The warehousing system would enable
the importer to watch the market and to select his own time for offering
his goods for sale. A profitable portion of the carrying trade in articles
entered for the benefit of drawback must also be most seriously affected
without the adoption of some expedient to relieve the cash system. The
warehousing system would afford that relief, since the carrier would have a
safe recourse to the public storehouses and might without advancing the
duty reship within some reasonable period to foreign ports. A further
effect of the measure would be to supersede the system of drawbacks,
thereby effectually protecting the Government against fraud, as the right
of debenture would not attach to goods after their withdrawal from the
public stores.

In revising the existing tariff of duties, should you deem it proper to do
so at your present session, I can only repeat the suggestions and
recommendations which upon several occasions I have heretofore felt it to
be my duty to offer to Congress. The great primary and controlling interest
of the American people is union--union not only in the mere forms of
government, forms which may be broken, but union rounded in an attachment
of States and individuals for each other. This union in sentiment and
feeling can only be preserved by the adoption of that course of policy
which, neither giving exclusive benefits to some nor imposing unnecessary
burthens upon others, shall consult the interests of all by pursuing a
course of moderation and thereby seeking to harmonize public opinion, and
causing the people everywhere to feel and to know that the Government is
careful of the interests of all alike. Nor is there any subject in regard
to which moderation, connected with a wise discrimination, is more
necessary than in the imposition of duties on imports. Whether reference be
had to revenue, the primary object in the imposition of taxes, or to the
incidents which necessarily flow from their imposition, this is entirely
true. Extravagant duties defeat their end and object, not only by exciting
in the public mind an hostility to the manufacturing interests, but by
inducing a system of smuggling on an extensive scale and the practice of
every manner of fraud upon the revenue, which the utmost vigilance of
Government can not effectually suppress. An opposite course of policy would
be attended by results essentially different, of which every interest of
society, and none more than those of the manufacturer, would reap important
advantages. Among the most striking of its benefits would be that derived
from the general acquiescence of the country in its support and the
consequent permanency and stability which would be given to all the
operations of industry. It can not be too often repeated that no system of
legislation can be wise which is fluctuating and uncertain. No interest can
thrive under it. The prudent capitalist will never adventure his capital in
manufacturing establishments, or in any other leading pursuit of life, if
there exists a state of uncertainty as to whether the Government will
repeal to-morrow what it has enacted to-day. Fitful profits, however high,
if threatened with a ruinous reduction by a vacillating policy on the part
of Government, will scarcely tempt him to trust the money which he has
acquired by a life of labor upon the uncertain adventure. I therefore, in
the spirit of conciliation, and influenced by no other desire than to
rescue the great interests of the country from the vortex of political
contention, and in the discharge of the high and solemn duties of the place
which I now occupy, recommend moderate duties, imposed with a wise
discrimination as to their several objects, as being not only most likely
to be durable, but most advantageous to every interest of society.

The report of the Secretary of the War Department exhibits a very full and
satisfactory account of the various and important interests committed to
the charge of that officer. It is particularly gratifying to find that the
expenditures for the military service are greatly reduced in amount--that a
strict system of economy has been introduced into the service and the
abuses of past years greatly reformed. The fortifications on our maritime
frontier have been prosecuted with much vigor, and at many points our
defenses are in a very considerable state of forwardness. The suggestions
in reference to the establishment of means of communication with our
territories on the Pacific and to the surveys so essential to a knowledge
of the resources of the intermediate country are entitled to the most
favorable consideration. While I would propose nothing inconsistent with
friendly negotiations to settle the extent of our claims in that region,
yet a prudent forecast points out the necessity of such measures as may
enable us to maintain our rights. The arrangements made for preserving our
neutral relations on the boundary between us and Texas and keeping in check
the Indians in that quarter will be maintained so long as circumstances may
require. For several years angry contentions have grown out of the
disposition directed by law to be made of the mineral lands held by the
Government in several of the States. The Government is constituted the
landlord, and the Citizens of the States wherein lie the lands are its
tenants. The relation is an unwise one, and it would be much more conducive
of the public interest that a sale of the lands should be made than that
they should remain in their present condition. The supply of the ore would
be more abundantly and certainly furnished when to be drawn from the
enterprise and the industry of the proprietor than under the present

The recommendations of the Secretary in regard to the improvements of the
Western waters and certain prominent harbors on the Lakes merit, and I
doubt not will receive, your serious attention. The great importance of
these subjects to the prosperity of the extensive region referred to and
the security of the whole country in time of war can not escape
observation. The losses of life and property which annually occur in the
navigation of the Mississippi alone because of the dangerous obstructions
in the river make a loud demand upon Congress for the adoption of efficient
measures for their removal.

The report of the Secretary of the Navy will bring you acquainted with that
important branch of the public defenses. Considering the already vast and
daily increasing commerce of the country, apart from the exposure to
hostile inroad of an extended seaboard, all that relates to the Navy is
calculated to excite particular attention. Whatever tends to add to its
efficiency without entailing unnecessary charges upon the Treasury is well
worthy of your serious consideration. It will be seen that while an
appropriation exceeding by more than a million the appropriations of the
current year is asked by the Secretary, yet that in this sum is proposed to
be included $400,000 for the purchase of clothing, which when once expended
will be annually reimbursed by the sale of the clothes, and will thus
constitute a perpetual fund without any new appropriation to the same
object. To this may also be added $50,000 asked to cover the arrearages of
past years and $250,000 in order to maintain a competent squadron on the
coast of Africa; all of which when deducted will reduce the expenditures
nearly within the limits of those of the current year. While, however, the
expenditures will thus remain very nearly the same as of the antecedent
year, it is proposed to add greatly to the operations of the marine, and in
lieu of only 25 ships in commission and but little in the way of building,
to keep with the same expenditure 41 vessels afloat and to build 12 ships
of a small class.

A strict system of accountability is established and great pains are taken
to insure industry, fidelity, and economy in every department of duty.
Experiments have been instituted to test the quality of various materials,
particularly copper, iron, and coal, so as to prevent fraud and

It will appear by the report of the Postmaster-General that the great point
which for several years has been so much desired has during the current
year been fully accomplished. The expenditures of the Department for
current service have been brought within its income without lessening its
general usefulness. There has been an increase of revenue equal to $166,000
for the year 1842 over that of 1841, without, as it is believed, any
addition having been made to the number of letters and newspapers
transmitted through the mails. The post-office laws have been honestly
administered, and fidelity has been observed in accounting for and paying
over by the subordinates of the Department the moneys which have been
received. For the details of the service I refer you to the report.

I flatter myself that the exhibition thus made of the condition of the
public administration will serve to convince you that every proper
attention has been paid to the interests of the country by those who have
been called to the heads of the different Departments. The reduction in the
annual expenditures of the Government already accomplished furnishes a sure
evidence that economy in the application of the public moneys is regarded
as a paramount duty.

At peace with all the world, the personal liberty of the citizen sacredly
maintained and his rights secured under political institutions deriving all
their authority from the direct sanction of the people, with a soil fertile
almost beyond example and a country blessed with every diversity of climate
and production, what remains to be done in order to advance the happiness
and prosperity of such a people? Under ordinary circumstances this inquiry
could readily be answered. The best that probably could be done for a
people inhabiting such a country would be to fortify their peace and
security in the prosecution of their various pursuits by guarding them
against invasion from without and violence from within. The rest for the
greater part might be left to their own energy and enterprise. The chief
embarrassments which at the moment exhibit themselves have arisen from
overaction, and the most difficult task which remains to be accomplished is
that of correcting and overcoming its effects. Between the years 1833 and
1838 additions were made to bank capital and bank issues, in the form of
notes designed for circulation, to an extent enormously great. The question
seemed to be not how the best currency could be provided, but in what
manner the greatest amount of bank paper could be put in circulation. Thus
a vast amount of what was called money--since for the time being it
answered the purposes of money--was thrown upon the country, an overissue
which was attended, as a necessary consequence, by an extravagant increase
of the prices of all articles of property, the spread of a speculative
mania all over the country, and has finally ended in a general indebtedness
on the part of States and individuals, the prostration of public and
private credit, a depreciation in the market value of real and personal
estate, and has left large districts of country almost entirely without any
circulating medium. In view of the fact that in 1830 the whole bank-note
circulation within the United States amounted to but $61,323,898, according
to the Treasury statements, and that an addition had been made thereto of
the enormous sum of $88,000,000 in seven years (the circulation on the 1st
of January, 1837, being stated at $149,185,890), aided by the great
facilities afforded in obtaining loans from European capitalists, who were
seized with the same speculative mania which prevailed in the United
States, and the large importations of funds from abroad--the result of
stock sales and loans--no one can be surprised at the apparent but
unsubstantial state of prosperity which everywhere prevailed over the land;
and as little cause of surprise should be felt at the present prostration
of everything and the ruin which has befallen so many of our
fellow-citizens in the sudden withdrawal from circulation of so large an
amount of bank issues since 1837--exceeding, as is believed, the amount
added to the paper currency for a similar period antecedent to 1837--it
ceases to be a matter of astonishment that such extensive shipwreck should
have been made of private fortunes or that difficulties should exist in
meeting their engagements on the part of the debtor States; apart from
which, if there be taken into account the immense losses sustained in the
dishonor of numerous banks, it is less a matter of surprise that insolvency
should have visited many of our fellow-citizens than that so many should
have escaped the blighting influences of the times.

In the solemn conviction of these truths and with an ardent desire to meet
the pressing necessities of the country, I felt it to be my duty to cause
to be submitted to you at the commencement of your last session the plan of
an exchequer, the whole power and duty of maintaining which in purity and
vigor was to be exercised by the representatives of the people and the
States, and therefore virtually by the people themselves. It was proposed
to place it under the control and direction of a Treasury board to consist
of three commissioners, whose duty it should be to see that the law of its
creation was faithfully executed and that the great end of supplying a
paper medium of exchange at all times convertible into gold and silver
should be attained. The board thus constituted was given as much permanency
as could be imparted to it without endangering the proper share of
responsibility which should attach to all public agents. In order to insure
all the advantages of a well-matured experience, the commissioners were to
hold their offices for the respective periods of two, four, and six years,
thereby securing at all times in the management of the exchequer the
services of two men of experience; and to place them in a condition to
exercise perfect independence of mind and action it was provided that their
removal should only take place for actual incapacity or infidelity to the
trust, and to be followed by the President with an exposition of the causes
of such removal, should it occur. It was proposed to establish subordinate
boards in each of the States, under the same restrictions and limitations
of the power of removal, which, with the central board, should receive,
safely keep, and disburse the public moneys. And in order to furnish a
sound paper medium of exchange the exchequer should retain of the revenues
of the Government a sum not to exceed $5,000,000 in specie, to be set apart
as required by its operations, and to pay the public creditor at his own
option either in specie or Treasury notes of denominations not less than $5
nor exceeding $100, which notes should be redeemed at the several places of
issue, and to be receivable at all times and everywhere in payment of
Government dues, with a restraint upon such issue of bills that the same
should not exceed the maximum of $15,000,000. In order to guard against all
the hazards incident to fluctuations in trade, the Secretary of the
Treasury was invested with authority to issue $5,000,000 of Government
stock, should the same at any time be regarded as necessary in order to
place beyond hazard the prompt redemption of the bills which might be
thrown into circulation; thus in fact making the issue of $15,000,000 of
exchequer bills rest substantially on $10,000,000, and keeping in
circulation never more than one and one-half dollars for every dollar in
specie. When to this it is added that the bills are not only everywhere
receivable in Government dues, but that the Government itself would be
bound for their ultimate redemption, no rational doubt can exist that the
paper which the exchequer would furnish would readily enter into general
circulation and be maintained at all times at or above par with gold and
silver, thereby realizing the great want of the age and fulfilling the
wishes of the people. In order to reimburse the Government the expenses of
the plan, it was proposed to invest the exchequer with the limited
authority to deal in bills of exchange (unless prohibited by the State in
which an agency might be situated) having only thirty days to run and
resting on a fair and bona fide basis. The legislative will on this point
might be so plainly announced as to avoid all pretext for partiality or
favoritism. It was furthermore proposed to invest this Treasury agent with
authority to receive on deposit to a limited amount the specie funds of
individuals and to grant certificates therefor to be redeemed on
presentation, under the idea, which is believed to be well founded, that
such certificates would come in aid of the exchequer bills in supplying a
safe and ample paper circulation. Or if in place of the contemplated
dealings in exchange the exchequer should be authorized not only to
exchange its bills for actual deposits of specie, but, for specie or its
equivalent, to sell drafts, charging therefor a small but reasonable
premium, I can not doubt but that the benefits of the law would be speedily
manifested in the revival of the credit, trade, and business of the whole
country. Entertaining this opinion, it becomes my duty to urge its adoption
upon Congress by reference to the strongest considerations of the public
interests, with such alterations in its details as Congress may in its
wisdom see fit to make.

I am well aware that this proposed alteration and amendment of the laws
establishing the Treasury Department has encountered various objections,
and that among others it has been proclaimed a Government bank of fearful
and dangerous import. It is proposed to confer upon it no extraordinary
power. It purports to do no more than pay the debts of the Government with
the redeemable paper of the Government, in which respect it accomplishes
precisely what the Treasury does daily at this time in issuing to the
public creditors the Treasury notes which under law it is authorized to
issue. It has no resemblance to an ordinary bank, as it furnishes no
profits to private stockholders and lends no capital to individuals. If it
be objected to as a Government bank and the objection be available, then
should all the laws in relation to the Treasury be repealed and the
capacity of the Government to collect what is due to it or pay what it owes
be abrogated.

This is the chief purpose of the proposed exchequer, and surely if in the
accomplishment of a purpose so essential it affords a sound circulating
medium to the country and facilities to trade it should be regarded as no
slight recommendation of it to public consideration. Properly guarded by
the provisions of law, it can run into no dangerous evil, nor can any abuse
arise under it but such as the Legislature itself will be answerable for if
it be tolerated, since it is but the creature of the law and is susceptible
at all times of modification, amendment, or repeal at the pleasure of
Congress. I know that it has been objected that the system would be liable
to be abused by the Legislature, by whom alone it could be abused, in the
party conflicts of the day; that such abuse would manifest itself in a
change of the law which would authorize an excessive issue of paper for the
purpose of inflating prices and winning popular favor. To that it may be
answered that the ascription of such a motive to Congress is altogether
gratuitous and inadmissible. The theory of our institutions would lead us
to a different conclusion. But a perfect security against a proceeding so
reckless would be found to exist in the very nature of things. The
political party which should be so blind to the true interests of the
country as to resort to such an expedient would inevitably meet with final
overthrow in the fact that the moment the paper ceased to be convertible
into specie or otherwise promptly redeemed it would become worthless, and
would in the end dishonor the Government, involve the people in ruin and
such political party in hopeless disgrace. At the same time, such a view
involves the utter impossibility of furnishing any currency other than that
of the precious metals; for if the Government itself can not forego the
temptation of excessive paper issues what reliance can be placed in
corporations upon whom the temptations of individual aggrandizement would
most strongly operate? The people would have to blame none but themselves
for any injury that might arise from a course so reckless, since their
agents would be the wrongdoers and they the passive spectators.

There can be but three kinds of public currency--first, gold and silver;
second, the paper of State institutions; or, third, a representative of the
precious metals provided by the General Government or under its authority.
The subtreasury system rejected the last in any form, and as it was
believed that no reliance could be placed on the issues of local
institutions for the purposes of general circulation it necessarily and
unavoidably adopted specie as the exclusive currency for its own use; and
this must ever be the case unless one of the other kinds be used. The
choice in the present state of public sentiment lies between an exclusive
specie currency on the one hand and Government issues of some kind on the
other. That these issues can not be made by a chartered institution is
supposed to be conclusively settled. They must be made, then, directly by
Government agents. For several years past they have been thus made in the
form of Treasury notes, and have answered a valuable purpose. Their
usefulness has been limited by their being transient and temporary; their
ceasing to bear interest at given periods necessarily causes their speedy
return and thus restricts their range of circulation, and being used only
in the disbursements of Government they can not reach those points where
they are most required. By rendering their use permanent, to the moderate
extent already mentioned, by offering no inducement for their return and by
exchanging them for coin and other values, they will constitute to a
certain extent the general currency so much needed to maintain the internal
trade of the country. And this is the exchequer plan so far as it may
operate in furnishing a currency.

I can not forego the occasion to urge its importance to the credit of the
Government in a financial point of view. The great necessity of resorting
to every proper and becoming expedient in order to place the Treasury on a
footing of the highest respectability is entirely obvious. The credit of
the Government may be regarded as the very soul of the Government itself--a
principle of vitality without which all its movements are languid and all
its operations embarrassed. In this spirit the Executive felt itself bound
by the most imperative sense of duty to submit to Congress at its last
session the propriety of making a specific pledge of the land fund as the
basis for the negotiation of the loans authorized to be contracted. I then
thought that such an application of the public domain would without doubt
have placed at the command of the Government ample funds to relieve the
Treasury from the temporary embarrassments under which it labored. American
credit has suffered a considerable shock in Europe from the large
indebtedness of the States and the temporary inability of some of them to
meet the interest on their debts. The utter and disastrous prostration of
the United States Bank of Pennsylvania had contributed largely to increase
the sentiment of distrust by reason of the loss and ruin sustained by the
holders of its stock, a large portion of whom were foreigners and many of
whom were alike ignorant of our political organization and of our actual

It was the anxious desire of the Executive that in the effort to negotiate
the loan abroad the American negotiator might be able to point the money
lender to the fund mortgaged for the redemption of the principal and
interest of any loan he might contract, and thereby vindicate the
Government from all suspicion of bad faith or inability to meet its
engagements. Congress differed from the Executive in this view of the
subject. It became, nevertheless, the duty of the Executive to resort to
every expedient in its power to do so.

After a failure in the American market a citizen of high character and
talent was sent to Europe, with no better success; and thus the mortifying
spectacle has been presented of the inability of this Government to obtain
a loan so small as not in the whole to amount to more than one-fourth of
its ordinary annual income, at a time when the Governments of Europe,
although involved in debt and with their subjects heavily burthened with
taxation, readily obtained loans of any amount at a greatly reduced rate of
interest. It would be unprofitable to look further into this anomalous
state of things, but I can not conclude without adding that for a
Government which has paid off its debts of two wars with the largest
maritime power of Europe, and now owing a debt which is almost next to
nothing when compared with its boundless resources--a Government the
strongest in the world, because emanating from the popular will and firmly
rooted in the affections of a great and free people, and whose fidelity to
its engagements has never been questioned--for such a Government to have
tendered to the capitalists of other countries an opportunity for a small
investment in its stock, and yet to have failed, implies either the most
unfounded distrust in its good faith or a purpose to obtain which the
course pursued is the most fatal which could have been adopted. It has now
become obvious to all men that the Government must look to its own means
for supplying its wants, and it is consoling to know that these means are
altogether adequate for the object. The exchequer, if adopted, will greatly
aid in bringing about this result. Upon what I regard as a well-rounded
supposition that its bills would be readily sought for by the public
creditors and that the issue would in a short time reach the maximum of
$15,000,000, it is obvious that $10,000,000 would thereby be added to the
available means of the Treasury without cost or charge. Nor can I fail to
urge the great and beneficial effects which would be produced in aid of all
the active pursuits of life. Its effects upon the solvent State banks,
while it would force into liquidation those of an opposite character
through its weekly settlements, would be highly beneficial; and with the
advantages of a sound currency the restoration of confidence and credit
would follow with a numerous train of blessings. My convictions are most
strong that these benefits would flow from the adoption of this measure;
but if the result should be adverse there is this security in connection
with it--that the law creating it may be repealed at the pleasure of the
Legislature without the slightest implication of its good faith.

I recommend to Congress to take into consideration the propriety of
reimbursing a fine imposed on General Jackson at New Orleans at the time of
the attack and defense of that city, and paid by him. Without designing any
reflection on the judicial tribunal which imposed the fine, the remission
at this day may be regarded as not unjust or inexpedient. The voice of the
civil authority was heard amidst the glitter of arms and obeyed by those
who held the sword, thereby giving additional luster to a memorable
military achievement. If the laws were offended, their majesty was fully
vindicated; and although the penalty incurred and paid is worthy of little
regard in a pecuniary point of view, it can hardly be doubted that it would
be gratifying to the war-worn veteran, now in retirement and in the winter
of his days, to be relieved from the circumstances in which that judgment
placed him. There are cases in which public functionaries may be called on
to weigh the public interest against their own personal hazards, and if the
civil law be violated from praiseworthy motives or an overruling sense of
public danger and public necessity punishment may well be restrained within
that limit which asserts and maintains the authority of the law and the
subjection of the military to the civil power. The defense of New Orleans,
while it saved a city from the hands of the enemy, placed the name of
General Jackson among those of the greatest captains of the age and
illustrated one of the brightest pages of our history. Now that the causes
of excitement existing at the time have ceased to operate, it is believed
that the remission of this fine and whatever of gratification that
remission might cause the eminent man who incurred and paid it would be in
accordance with the general feeling and wishes of the American people.

I have thus, fellow-citizens, acquitted myself of my duty under the
Constitution by laying before you as succinctly as I have been able the
state of the Union and by inviting your attention to measures of much
importance to the country. The executive will most zealously unite its
efforts with those of the legislative department in the accomplishment of
all that is required to relieve the wants of a common constituency or
elevate the destinies of a beloved country.


State of the Union Address
John Tyler
December 1843

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

If any people ever had cause to render up thanks to the Supreme Being for
parental care and protection extended to them in all the trials and
difficulties to which they have been from time to time exposed, we
certainly are that people. From the first settlement of our forefathers on
this continent, through the dangers attendant upon the occupation of a
savage wilderness, through a long period of colonial dependence, through
the War of the Revolution, in the wisdom which led to the adoption of the
existing forms of republican government, in the hazards incident to a war
subsequently waged with one of the most powerful nations of the earth, in
the increase of our population, in the spread of the arts and sciences, and
in the strength and durability conferred on political institutions
emanating from the people and sustained by their will, the superintendence
of an overruling Providence has been plainly visible. As preparatory,
therefore, to entering once more upon the high duties of legislation, it
becomes us humbly to acknowledge our dependence upon Him as our guide and
protector and to implore a continuance of His parental watchfulness over
our beloved country. We have new cause for the expression of our gratitude
in the preservation of the health of our fellow-citizens, with some partial
and local exceptions, during the past season, for the abundance with which
the earth has yielded up its fruits to the labors of the husbandman, for
the renewed activity which has been imparted to commerce, for the revival
of trade in all its departments, for the increased rewards attendant on the
exercise of the mechanic arts, for the continued growth of our population
and the rapidly reviving prosperity of the whole country. I shall be
permitted to exchange congratulations with you, gentlemen of the two Houses
of Congress, on these auspicious circumstances, and to assure you in
advance of my ready disposition to concur with you in the adoption of all
such measures as shall be calculated to increase the happiness of our
constituents and to advance the glory of our common country.

Since the last adjournment of Congress the Executive has relaxed no effort
to render indestructible the relations of amity which so happily exist
between the United States and other countries. The treaty lately concluded
with Great Britain has tended greatly to increase the good understanding
which a reciprocity of interests is calculated to encourage, and it is most
ardently to be hoped that nothing may transpire to interrupt the relations
of amity which it is so obviously the policy of both nations to cultivate.
A question of much importance still remains to be adjusted between them.
The territorial limits of the two countries relation to what is commonly
known as the Oregon Territory still remain in dispute. The United States
would be at all times indisposed to aggrandize itself at the expense of any
other nation; but while they would be restrained by principles of honor,
which should govern the conduct of nations as well as that of individuals,
from setting up a demand for territory which does not belong to them, they
would as unwillingly sent to a surrender of their rights. After the most
rigid and, as far as practicable, unbiased examination of the subject, the
United States have always contended that their rights appertain to the
entire region of country lying on the Pacific and embraced within 42°
and 54° 40' of north latitude. This claim being controverted by Great
Britain, those who have preceded the present Executive--actuated, no doubt,
by an earnest desire to adjust the matter upon terms mutually satisfactory
to both countries--have caused to be submitted to the British Government
propositions for settlement and final adjustment, which, however, have not
proved heretofore acceptable to it. Our minister at London has, under
instructions, again brought the subject to the consideration of that
Government, and while nothing will be done to compromise the rights or
honor of the United States, every proper expedient will be resorted to in
order to bring the negotiation now in the progress of resumption to a
speedy and happy termination. In the meantime it is proper to remark that
many of our citizens are either already established in the Territory or are
on their way thither for the purpose of forming permanent settlements,
while others are preparing to follow; and in view of these facts I must
repeat the recommendation contained in previous messages for the
establishment of military posts at such places on the line of travel as
will furnish security and protection to our hardy adventurers against
hostile tribes of Indians inhabiting those extensive regions. Our laws
should also follow them, so modified as the circumstances of the case may
seem to require. Under the influence of our free system of government new
republics are destined to spring up at no distant day on the shores of the
Pacific similar in policy and in feeling to those existing on this side of
the Rocky Mountains, and giving a wider and more extensive spread to the
principles of civil and religious liberty.

I am happy to inform you that the cases which have from time to time arisen
of the detention of American vessels by British cruisers on the coast of
Africa under pretense of being engaged in the slave trade have been placed
in a fair train of adjustment. In the case of the William and Francis full
satisfaction will be allowed. In the cases of the Tygris and Seamew the
British Government admits that satisfaction is due. In the case of the
Jones the sum accruing from the sale of that vessel and cargo will be paid
to the owners, while I can not but flatter myself that full indemnification
will be allowed for all damages sustained by the detention of the vessel;
and in the case of the Douglas Her Majesty's Government has expressed its
determination to make indemnification. Strong hopes are therefore
entertained that most, if not all, of these cases will be speedily
adjusted. No new cases have arisen since the ratification of the treaty of
Washington, and it is confidently anticipated that the slave trade, under
the operation of the eighth article of that treaty, will be altogether

The occasional interruption experienced by our fellow-citizens engaged in
the fisheries on the neighboring coast of Nova Scotia has not failed to
claim the attention of the Executive. Representations upon this subject
have been made, but as yet no definitive answer to those representations
has been received from the British Government.

Two other subjects of comparatively minor importance, but nevertheless of
too much consequence to be neglected, remain still to be adjusted between
the two countries. By the treaty between the United States and Great
Britain of July, 1815, it is provided that no higher duties shall be levied
in either country on articles imported from the other than on the same
articles imported from any other place. In 1836 rough rice by act of
Parliament was admitted from the coast of Africa into Great Britain on the
payment of a duty of 1 penny a quarter, while the same article from all
other countries, including the United States, was subjected to the payment
of a duty of 20 shillings a quarter. Our minister at London has from time
to time brought this subject to the attention of the British Government,
but so far without success. He is instructed to renew his representations
upon it.

Some years since a claim was preferred against the British Government on
the part of certain American merchants for the return of export duties paid
by them on shipments of woolen goods to the United States after the duty on
similar articles exported to other countries had been repealed, and
consequently in contravention of the commercial convention between the two
nations securing to us equality in such cases. The principle on which the
claim rests has long since been virtually admitted by Great Britain, but
obstacles to a settlement have from time to time been interposed, so that a
large portion of the amount claimed has not yet been refunded. Our minister
is now engaged in the prosecution of the claim, and I can not but persuade
myself that the British Government will no longer delay its adjustment.

I am happy to be able to say that nothing has occurred to disturb in any
degree the relations of amity which exist between the United States and
France, Austria, and Russia, as well as with the other powers of Europe,
since the adjournment of Congress. Spain has been agitated with internal
convulsions for many years, from the effects of which, it is hoped, she is
destined speedily to recover, when, under a more liberal system of
commercial policy on her part, our trade with her may again fill its old
and, so far as her continental possessions are concerned, its almost
forsaken channels, thereby adding to the mutual prosperity of the two

The Germanic Association of Customs and Commerce, which since its
establishment in 1833 has been steadily growing in power and importance,
and consists at this time of more than twenty German States, and embraces a
population of 27,000,000 people united for all fire purposes of commercial
intercourse with each other and with foreign states, offers to the latter
the most valuable exchanges on principles more liberal than are offered in
the fiscal system of any other European power. From its origin the
importance of the German union has never been lost sight of by the United
States. The industry, morality, and other valuable qualities of the German
nation have always been well known and appreciated. On this subject I
invite the attention of Congress to the report of the Secretary of State,
from which it will be seen that while our cotton is admitted free of duty
and the duty on rice has been much reduced (which has already led to a
greatly increased consumption), a strong disposition has been recently
evinced by that great body to reduce, upon certain conditions, their
present duty upon tobacco. This being the first intimation of a concession
on this interesting subject ever made by any European power, I can not but
regard it as well calculated to remove the only impediment which has so far
existed to the most liberal commercial intercourse between us and them. In
this view our minister at Berlin, who has heretofore industriously pursued
the subject, has been instructed to enter upon the negotiation of a
commercial treaty, which, while it will open new advantages to the
agricultural interests of the United States and a more free and expanded
field for commercial operations, will affect injuriously no existing
interest of the Union. Should the negotiation be crowned with success, its
results will be communicated to both Houses of Congress.

I communicate herewith certain dispatches received from our minister at
Mexico, and also a correspondence which has recently occurred between the
envoy from that Republic and the Secretary of State. It must but be
regarded as not a little extraordinary that the Government of Mexico, in
anticipation of a public discussion (which it has been pleased to infer
from newspaper publications as likely to take place in Congress, relating
to the annexation of Texas to the United States), should have so far
anticipated the result of such discussion as to have announced its
determination to visit any such anticipated decision by a formal
declaration of war against the United States. If designed to prevent
Congress from introducing that question as a fit subject for its calm
deliberation and final judgment, the Executive has no reason to doubt that
it will entirely fail of its object. The representatives of a brave and
patriotic people will suffer no apprehension of future consequences to
embarrass them in the course of their proposed deliberations, nor will the
executive department of the Government fail for any such cause to discharge
its whole duty to the country.

The war which has existed for so long a time between Mexico and Texas has
since the battle of San Jacinto consisted for the most part of predatory
incursions, which, while they have been attended with much of suffering to
individuals and have kept the borders of the two countries in a state of
constant alarm, have failed to approach to any definitive result. Mexico
has fitted out no formidable armament by land or by sea for the subjugation
of Texas. Eight years have now elapsed since Texas declared her
independence of Mexico, and during that time she has been recognized as a
sovereign power by several of the principal civilized states. Mexico,
nevertheless, perseveres in her plans of reconquest, and refuses to
recognize her independence. The predatory incursions to which I have
alluded have been attended in one instance with the breaking up of the
courts of justice, by the seizing upon the persons of the judges, jury, and
officers of the court and dragging them along with unarmed, and therefore
noncombatant, citizens into a cruel and oppressive bondage, thus leaving
crime to go unpunished and immorality to pass unreproved. A border warfare
is evermore to be deprecated, and over such a war as has existed for so
many years between these two States humanity has had great cause to lament.
Nor is such a condition of things to be deplored only because of the
individual suffering attendant upon it. The effects are far more extensive.
The Creator of the Universe has given man the earth for his resting place
and its fruits for his subsistence. Whatever, therefore, shall make the
first or any part of it a scene of desolation affects injuriously his
heritage and may be regarded as a general calamity. Wars may sometimes be
necessary, but all nations have a common interest in bringing them speedily
to a close. The United States have an immediate interest in seeing an end
put to the state of hostilities existing between Mexico and Texas. They are
our neighbors, of the same continent, with whom we are not only desirous of
cultivating the relations of amity, but of the most extended commercial
intercourse, and to practice all the rites of a neighborhood hospitality.
Our own interests are involved in the matter, since, however neutral may be
our course of policy, we can not hope to escape the effects of a spirit of
jealousy on the part of both of the powers. Nor can this Government be
indifferent to the fact that a warfare such as is waged between those two
nations is calculated to weaken both powers and finally to render them--and
especially the weaker of the two--the subjects of interference on the part
of stronger and more powerful nations, who, intent only on advancing their
own peculiar views, may sooner or later attempt to bring about a compliance
with terms as the condition of their interposition alike derogatory to the
nation granting them and detrimental to the interests of the United States.
We could not be expected quietly to permit any such interference to our
disadvantage. Considering that Texas is separated from the United States by
a mere geographical line; that her territory, in the opinion of many, down
to a late period formed a portion of the territory of the United States;
that it is homogeneous in its population and pursuits with adjoining
States, makes contributions to the commerce of the world in the same
articles with them, and that most of her inhabitants have been citizens of
the United States, speak the same language, and live under similar
political institutions with ourselves, this Government is bound by every
consideration of interest as well as of sympathy to see that she shall be
left free to act, especially in regard to her domestic affairs, unawed by
force and unrestrained by the policy or views of other countries. In full
view of all these considerations, the Executive has not hesitated to
express to the Government of Mexico how deeply it deprecated a continuance
of the war and how anxiously it desired to witness its termination. I can
not but think that it becomes the United States, as the oldest of the
American Republics, to hold a language to Mexico upon this subject of an
unambiguous character. It is time that this war had ceased. There must be a
limit to all wars, and if the parent state after an eight years' struggle
has failed to reduce to submission a portion of its subjects standing out
in revolt against it, and who have not only proclaimed themselves to be
independent, but have been recognized as such by other powers, she ought
not to expect that other nations will quietly look on, to their obvious
injury, upon a protraction of hostilities. These United States threw off
their colonial dependence and established independent governments, and
Great Britain, after having wasted her energies in the attempt to subdue
them for a less period than Mexico has attempted to subjugate Texas, had
the wisdom and justice to acknowledge their independence, thereby
recognizing the obligation which rested on her as one of the family of
nations. An example thus set by one of the proudest as well as most
powerful nations of the earth it could in no way disparage Mexico to
imitate. While, therefore, the Executive would deplore any collision with
Mexico or any disturbance of the friendly relations which exist between the
two countries, it can not permit that Government to control its policy,
whatever it may be, toward Texas, but will treat her--as by the recognition
of her independence the United States have long since declared they would
do--as entirely independent of Mexico. The high obligations of public duty
may enforce from the constituted authorities of the United States a policy
which the course persevered in by Mexico will have mainly contributed to
produce, and the Executive in such a touting they will with confidence
throw itself upon the patriotism of the people to sustain the Government in
its course of action.

Measures of an unusual character have recently been adopted by the Mexican
Government, calculated in no small degree to affect the trade of other
nations with Mexico and to operate injuriously to the United States. All
foreigners, by a decree of the 23d day of September, and after six months
from the day of its promulgation, are forbidden to carry on the business of
selling by retail any goods within the confines of Mexico. Against this
decree our minister has not failed to remonstrate.

The trade heretofore carried on by our citizens with Santa Fe, in which
much capital was already invested and which was becoming of daily
increasing importance, has suddenly been arrested by a decree of virtual
prohibition on the part of the Mexican Government. Whatever may be the
right of Mexico to prohibit any particular course of trade to the citizens
or subjects of foreign powers, this late procedure, to say the least of it,
wears a harsh and unfriendly aspect.

The installments on the claims recently settled by the convention with
Mexico have been punctually paid as they have fallen due, and our minister
is engaged in urging the establishment of a new commission in pursuance of
the convention for the settlement of unadjusted claims.

With the other American States our relations of amity and good will have
remained uninterrupted. Our minister near the Republic of New Granada has
succeeded in effecting an adjustment of the claim upon that Government for
the schooner By Chance, which had been pending for many years. The claim
for the brig Morris, which had its origin during the existence of the
Republic of Colombia, and indemnification for which since the dissolution
of that Republic has devolved upon its several members, will be urged with
renewed zeal.

I have much pleasure in saying that the Government of Brazil has adjusted
the claim upon that Government in the case of the schooner John S. Bryan,
and that sanguine hopes are entertained that the same spirit of justice
will influence its councils in arriving at an early decision upon the
remaining claims, thereby removing all cause of dissension between two
powers whose interests are to some extent interwoven with each other.

Our minister at Chili has succeeded in inducing a recognition by that
Government of the adjustment effected by his predecessor of the first claim
in the case of the Macedonian. The first installment has been received by
the claimants in the United States.

Notice of the exchange of ratifications of the treaty with Peru, which will
take place at Lima, has not yet reached this country, but is shortly
expected to be received, when the claims upon that Republic will doubtless
be liquidated and paid.

In consequence of a misunderstanding between this Government and that of
Buenos Ayres, occurring several years ago, this Government has remained
unrepresented at that Court, while a minister from it has been constantly
resident here. The causes of irritation have in a great measure passed
away, and it is in contemplation, in view of important interests which have
grown up in that country, at some early period during the present session
of Congress, with the concurrence of the Senate, to restore diplomatic
relations between the two countries.

Under the provisions of an act of Congress of the last session a minister
was dispatched from the United States to China in August of the present
year, who, from the latest accounts we have from him, was at Suez, in
Egypt, on the 25th of September last, on his route to China.

In regard to the Indian tribes residing within our jurisdictional limits,
the greatest vigilance of the Government has been exerted to preserve them
at peace among themselves and to inspire them with feelings of confidence
in the justice of this Government and to cultivate friendship with the
border inhabitants. This has happily succeeded to a great extent, but it is
a subject of regret that they suffer themselves in some instances to be
imposed upon by artful and designing men and this notwithstanding all
efforts of the Government to prevent it.

The receipts into the Treasury for the calendar year 1843, exclusive of
loans, were little more than $ 18,000,000, and the expenditures, exclusive
of the payments on the public debt, will have been about $23,000,000. By
the act of 1842 a new arrangement of the fiscal year was made, so that it
should commence on the 1st day of July in each year. The accounts and
estimates for the current fiscal year will show that the loans and Treasury
notes made and issued before the close of the last Congress to meet the
anticipated deficiency have not been entirely adequate. Although on the 1st
of October last there was a balance in the Treasury, in consequence of the
provisions thus made, of $3,914,082.77, yet the appropriations already made
by Congress will absorb that balance and leave a probable deficiency of
$2,000,000 at the close of the present fiscal year. There are outstanding
Treasury notes to about the amount of $4,600,000, and should they be
returned upon the Treasury during the fiscal year they will require
provision for their redemption. I do not, however, regard this as probable,
since they have obviously entered into the currency of the country and will
continue to form a portion of it if the system now adopted be continued.
The loan of 1841, amounting to $5,672,976.88, falls due on the 1st day of
January, 1845, and must be provided for or postponed by a new loan; and
unless the resources of revenue should be materially increased by you there
will be a probable deficiency for the service of the fiscal year ending
June 30, 1845, of upward of $4,000,000.

The delusion incident to an enormously excessive paper circulation, which
gave a fictitious value to everything and stimulated adventure and
speculation to an extravagant extent, has been happily succeeded by the
substitution of the precious metals and paper promptly redeemable in
specie; and thus false values have disappeared and a sounder condition of
things has been introduced. This transition, although intimately connected
with the prosperity of the country, has nevertheless been attended with
much embarrassment to the Government in its financial concerns. So long as
the foreign importers could receive payment for their cargoes in a currency
of greatly less value than that in Europe, but fully available here in the
purchase of our agricultural productions (their profits being immeasurably
augmented by the operation), the shipments were large and the revenues of
the Government became superabundant. But the change in the character of the
circulation from a nominal and apparently real value in the first stage of
its existence to an obviously depreciated value in its second, so that it
no longer answered the purposes of exchange or barter, and its ultimate
substitution by a sound metallic and paper circulation combined, has been
attended by diminished importations and a consequent falling off in the
revenue. This has induced Congress, from 1837, to resort to the expedient
of issuing Treasury notes, and finally of funding them, in order to supply
deficiencies. I can not, however, withhold the remark that it is in no way
compatible with the dignity of the Government that a public debt should be
created in time of peace to meet the current expenses of the Government, or
that temporary expedients should be resorted to an hour longer than it is
possible to avoid them. The Executive can do no more than apply the means
which Congress places in its hands for the support of Government, and,
happily for the good of the country and for the preservation of its
liberties, it possesses no power to levy exactions on the people or to
force from them contributions to the public revenue in any form. It can
only recommend such measures as may in its opinion be called for by the
wants of the public service to Congress, with whom alone rests the power to
"lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises." This duty has upon
several occasions heretofore been performed. The present condition of
things gives flattering promise that trade and commerce are rapidly
reviving, and, fortunately for the country, the sources of revenue have
only to be opened in order to prove abundant.

While we can anticipate no considerable increase in the proceeds of the
sales of the public lands, for reasons perfectly obvious to all, for
several years to come, yet the public lands can not otherwise than be
regarded as the foundation of the public credit. With so large a body of
the most fertile lands in the world under the control and at the disposal
of this Government, no one can reasonably doubt the entire ability to meet
its engagements under every emergency. In seasons of trial and difficulty
similar to those through which we are passing the capitalist makes his
investments in the Government cut stocks with the most assured confidence
of ultimate reimbursement; and whatever may be said of a period of great
financial prosperity, such as existed for some years after 1833, I should
regard it as suicidal in a season of financial embarrassment either to
alienate the lands themselves or the proceeds arising from their sales. The
first and paramount duty of those to whom may be intrusted the
administration of public affairs is to guard the public credit. In
reestablishing the credit of this central Government the readiest and most
obvious mode is taken to restore the credit of the States. The extremities
can only be made sound by producing a healthy action in the central
Government, and the history of the present day fully establishes the fact
that an increase in the value of the stocks of this Government will in a
great majority of instances be attended by an increase in the value of the
stocks of the States. It should therefore be a matter of general
congratulation that amidst all the embarrassments arising from surrounding
circumstances the credit of the Government should have been so fully
restored that it has been enabled to effect a loan of $7,000,000 to redeem
that amount of Treasury notes on terms more favorable than any that have
been offered for many years. And the 6 per cent stock which was created in
1842 has advanced in the hands of the holders nearly 20 per cent above its
par value. The confidence of the people in the integrity of their
Government has thus been signally manifested. These opinions relative to
the public lands do not in any manner conflict with the observance of the
most liberal policy toward those of our fellow-citizens who press forward
into the wilderness and are the pioneers in the work of its reclamation. In
securing to all such their rights of preemption the Government performs but
an act of retributive justice for sufferings encountered and hardships
endured, and finds ample remuneration in the comforts which its policy
insures and the happiness which it imparts.

Should a revision of the tariff with a view to revenue become necessary in
the estimation of Congress, I doubt not you will approach the subject with
a just and enlightened regard to the interests of the whole Union. The
principles and views which I have heretofore had occasion to submit remain
unchanged. It can, however, never be too often repeated that the prominent
interest of every important pursuit of life requires for success permanency
and stability in legislation. These can only be attained by adopting as the
basis of action moderation in all things, which is as indispensably
necessary to secure the harmonious action of the political as of the animal
system. In our political organization no one section of the country should
desire to have its supposed interests advanced at the sacrifice of all
others, but union, being the great interest, equally precious to all,
should be fostered and sustained by mutual concessions and the cultivation
of that spirit of compromise from which the Constitution itself proceeded.

You will be informed by the report from the Treasury Department of the
measures taken under the act of the last session authorizing the reissue of
Treasury notes in lieu of those then outstanding. The system adopted in
pursuance of existing laws seems well calculated to save the country a
large amount of interest, while it affords conveniences and obviates
dangers and expense in the transmission of funds to disbursing agents. I
refer you also to that report for the means proposed by the Secretary to
increase the revenue, and particularly to that portion of it which relates
to the subject of the warehousing system, which I earnestly urged upon
Congress at its last session and as to the importance of which my opinion
has undergone no change.

In view of the disordered condition of the currency at the time and the
high rates of exchange between different parts of the country, I felt it to
be incumbent on me to present to the consideration of your predecessors a
proposition conflicting in no degree with the Constitution or with the
rights of the States and having the sanction (not in detail, but in
principle) of some of the eminent men who have preceded me in the Executive
office. That proposition contemplated the issuing of Treasury notes of
denominations of not less than $5 nor more than $100, to be employed in the
payment of the obligations of the Government in lieu of gold and silver at
the option of the public creditor, and to an amount not exceeding
$15,000,000. It was proposed to make them receivable everywhere and to
establish at various points depositories of gold and silver to be held in
trust for the redemption of such notes, so as to insure their
convertibility into specie. No doubt was entertained that such notes would
have maintained a par value with gold and silver, thus furnishing a paper
currency of equal value over the Union, thereby meeting the just
expectations of the people and fulfilling the duties of a parental
government. Whether the depositories should be permitted to sell or
purchase bills under very limited restrictions, together with all its other
details, was submitted to the wisdom of Congress and was regarded as of
secondary importance. I thought then and think now that such an arrangement
would have been attended with the happiest results. The whole matter of the
currency would have been placed where by the Constitution it was designed
to be placed--under the immediate supervision and control of Congress. The
action of the Government would have been independent of all corporations,
and the same eye which rests unceasingly on the specie currency and guards
it against adulteration would also have rested on the paper currency, to
control and regulate its issues and protect it against depreciation. The
same reasons which would forbid Congress from parting with the power over
the coinage would seem to operate with nearly equal force hi regard to any
substitution for the precious metals in the form of a circulating medium.
Paper when substituted for specie constitutes a standard of value by which
the operations of society are regulated, and whatsoever causes its
depreciation affects society to an extent nearly, if not quite, equal to
the adulteration of the coin. Nor can I withhold the remark that its
advantages contrasted with a bank of the United States, apart from the fact
that a bank was esteemed as obnoxious to the public sentiment as well on
the score of expediency as of constitutionality, appeared to me to be
striking and obvious. The relief which a bank would afford by an issue of
$15,000,000 of its notes, judging from the experience of the late United
States Bank, would not have occurred in less than fifteen years, whereas
under the proposed arrangement the relief arising from the issue of
$15,000,000 of Treasury notes would have been consummated in one year, thus
furnishing in one-fifteenth part of the time in which a bank could have
accomplished it a paper medium of exchange equal in amount to the real
wants of the country at par value with gold and silver. The saving to the
Government would have been equal to all the interest which it has had to
pay on Treasury notes of previous as well as subsequent issues, thereby
relieving the Government and at the same time affording relief to the
people. Under all the responsibilities attached to the station which I
occupy, and in redemption of a pledge given to the last Congress at the
close of its first session, I submitted the suggestion to its consideration
at two consecutive sessions. The recommendation, however, met with no favor
at its hands. While I am free to admit that the necessities of the times
have since become greatly ameliorated and that there is good reason to hope
that the country is safely and rapidly emerging from the difficulties and
embarrassments which everywhere surrounded it in 1841, yet I can not but
think that its restoration to a sound and healthy condition would be
greatly expedited by a resort to the expedient in a modified form.

The operations of the Treasury now rest upon the act of 1789 and the
resolution of 1816, and those laws have been so administered as to produce
as great a quantum of good to the country as their provisions are capable
of yielding. If there had been any distinct expression of opinion going to
show that public sentiment is averse to the plan, either as heretofore
recommended to Congress or in a modified form, while my own opinion in
regard to it would remain unchanged I should be very far from again
presenting it to your consideration. The Government has originated with the
States and the people, for their own benefit and advantage, and it would be
subversive of the foundation principles of the political edifice which they
have reared to persevere in a measure which in their mature judgments they
had either repudiated or condemned. The will of our constituents clearly
expressed should be regarded as the light to guide our footsteps, the true
difference between a monarchical or aristocratical government and a
republic being that in the first the will of the few prevails over the will
of the many, while in the last the will of the many should be alone

The report of the Secretary of War will bring you acquainted with the
condition of that important branch of the public service. The Army may be
regarded, in consequence of the small number of the rank and file in each
company and regiment, as little more than a nucleus around which to rally
the military force of the country in case of war, and yet its services in
preserving the peace of the frontiers are of a most important nature. In
all cases of emergency the reliance of the country is properly placed in
the militia of the several States, and it may well deserve the
consideration of Congress whether a new and more perfect organization might
not be introduced, looking mainly to the volunteer companies of the Union
for the present and of easy application to the great body of the militia in
time of war.

The expenditures of the War Department have been considerably reduced in
the last two years. Contingencies, however, may arise which would call for
the filling up of the regiments with a full complement of men and make it
very desirable to remount the corps of dragoons, which by an act of the
last Congress was directed to be dissolved.

I refer you to the accompanying report of the Secretary for information in
relation to the Navy of the United States. While every effort has been and
will continue to be made to retrench all superfluities and lop off all
excrescences which from time to time may have grown up, yet it has not been
regarded as wise or prudent to recommend any material change in the annual
appropriations. The interests which are involved are of too important a
character to lead to the recommendation of any other than a liberal policy.
Adequate appropriations ought to be made to enable the Executive to fit out
all the ships that are now in a course of building or that require repairs
for active service in the shortest possible time should any emergency arise
which may require it. An efficient navy, while it is the cheapest means of
public defense, enlists in its support the feelings of pride and confidence
which brilliant deeds and heroic valor have heretofore served to strengthen
and confirm.

I refer you particularly to that part of the Secretary's report which has
reference to recent experiments in the application of steam and in the
construction of our war steamers, made under the superintendence of
distinguished officers of the Navy. In addition to other manifest
improvements in the construction of the steam engine and application of the
motive power which has rendered them more appropriate to the uses of ships
of war, one of those officers has brought into use a power which makes the
steamship most formidable either for attack or defense. I can not too
strongly recommend this subject to your consideration and do not hesitate
to express my entire conviction of its great importance.

I call your particular attention also to that portion of the Secretary's
report which has reference to the act of the late session of Congress which
prohibited the transfer of any balance of appropriation from other heads of
appropriation to that for building, equipment, and repair. The repeal of
that prohibition will enable the Department to give renewed employment to a
large class of workmen who have been necessarily discharged in consequence
of the want of means to pay them--a circumstance attended, especially at
this season of the year, with much privation and suffering.

It gives me great pain to announce to you the loss of the steamship the
Missouri by fire in the Bay of Gibraltar, where she had stopped to renew
her supplies of coal on her voyage to Alexandria, with Mr. Cushing, the
American minister to China, on board. There is ground for high commendation
of the officers and men for the coolness and intrepidity and perfect
submission to discipline evinced under the most trying circumstances.
Surrounded by a raging fire, which the utmost exertions could not subdue,
and which threatened momentarily the explosion of her well-supplied
magazines, the officers exhibited no signs of fear and the men obeyed every
order with alacrity. Nor was she abandoned until the last gleam of hope of
saving her had expired. It is well worthy of your consideration whether the
losses sustained by the officers and crew in this unfortunate affair should
not be reimbursed to them.

I can not take leave of this painful subject without adverting to the aid
rendered upon the occasion by the British authorities at Gibraltar and the
commander, officers, and crew of the British ship of the line the Malabar,
which was lying at the time in the bay. Everything that generosity or
humanity could dictate was promptly performed. It is by such acts of good
will by one to another of the family of nations that fraternal feelings are
nourished and the blessings of permanent peace secured.

The report of the Postmaster-General will bring you acquainted with the
operations of that Department during the past year, and will suggest to you
such modifications of the existing laws as in your opinion the exigencies
of the public service may require. The change which the country has
undergone of late years in the mode of travel and transportation has
afforded so many facilities for the transmission of mail matter out of the
regular mail as to require the greatest vigilance and circumspection in
order to enable the officer at the head of the Department to restrain the
expenditures within the income. There is also too much reason to fear that
the franking privilege has run into great abuse. The Department,
nevertheless, has been conducted with the greatest vigor, and has attained
at the least possible expense all the useful objects for which it was

In regard to all the Departments, I am quite happy in the belief that
nothing has been left undone which was called for by a true spirit of
economy or by a system of accountability rigidly enforced. This is in some
degree apparent from the fact that the Government has sustained no loss by
the default of any of its agents. In the complex, but at the same time
beautiful, machinery of our system of government, it is not a matter of
surprise that some remote agency may have failed for an instant to fulfill
its desired office; but I feel confident in the assertion that nothing has
occurred to interrupt the harmonious action of the Government itself, and
that, while the laws have been executed with efficiency and vigor, the
rights neither of States nor individuals have been trampled on or

In the meantime the country has been steadily advancing in all that
contributes to national greatness. The tide of population continues
unbrokenly to flow into the new States and Territories, where a refuge is
found not only for our native-born fellow-citizens, but for emigrants from
all parts of the civilized world, who come among us to partake of the
blessings of our free institutions and to aid by their labor to swell the
current of our wealth and power.

It is due to every consideration of public policy that the lakes and rivers
of the West should receive all such attention at the hands of Congress as
the Constitution will enable it to bestow. Works in favorable and proper
situations on the Lakes would be found to be as indispensably necessary, in
case of war, to carry on safe and successful naval operations as
fortifications on the Atlantic seaboard. The appropriation made by the last
Congress for the improvement of the navigation of the Mississippi River has
been diligently and efficiently applied.

I can not close this communication, gentlemen, without recommending to your
most favorable consideration the interests of this District. Appointed by
the Constitution its exclusive legislators, and forming in this particular
the only anomaly in our system of government--of the legislative body being
elected by others than those for whose advantage they are to legislate--you
will feel a superadded obligation to look well into their condition and to
leave no cause for complaint or regret. The seat of Government of our
associated republics can not but be regarded as worthy of your parental

In connection with its other interests, as well as those of the whole
country, I recommend that at your present session you adopt such measures
in order to carry into effect the Smithsonian bequest as in your judgment
will be best calculated to consummate the liberal intent of the testator.

When, under a dispensation of Divine Providence, I succeeded to the
presidential office, the state of public affairs was embarrassing and
critical. To add to the irritation consequent upon a long-standing
controversy with one of the most powerful nations of modern times,
involving not only questions of boundary (which under the most favorable
circumstances are always embarrassing), but at the same time important and
high principles of maritime law, border controversies between the citizens
and subjects of the two countries had engendered a state of feeling and of
conduct which threatened the most calamitous consequences. The hazards
incident to this state of things were greatly heightened by the arrest and
imprisonment of a subject of Great Britain, who, acting (as it was alleged)
as a part of a military force, had aided in the commission of an act
violative of the territorial jurisdiction of the United States and
involving the murder of a citizen, of the State of New York. A large amount
of claims against the Government of Mexico remained unadjusted and a war of
several years' continuance with the savage tribes of Florida still
prevailed, attended with the desolation of a large portion of that
beautiful Territory and with the sacrifice of many valuable lives. To
increase the embarrassments of the Government, individual and State credit
had been nearly stricken down and confidence in the General Government was
so much impaired that-loans of a small amount could only be negotiated at a
considerable sacrifice. As a necessary consequence of the blight which had
fallen on commerce and mechanical industry, the ships of the one were
thrown out of employment and the operations of the other had been greatly
diminished. Owing to the condition of the currency, exchanges between
different parts of the country had become ruinously high and trade had to
depend on a depreciated paper currency in conducting its transactions. I
shall be permitted to congratulate the country that under an overruling
Providence peace was preserved without a sacrifice of the national honor;
the war in Florida was brought to a speedy termination; a large portion of
the claims on Mexico have been fully adjudicated and are in a course of
payment, while justice has been rendered to us in other matters by other
nations; confidence between man and man is in a great measure restored and
the credit of this Government fully and perfectly reestablished; commerce
is becoming more and more extended in its operations and manufacturing and
mechanical industry once more reap the rewards of skill and labor honestly
applied; the operations of trade rest on a sound currency and the rates of
exchange are reduced to their lowest amount.

In this condition of things I have felt it to be my duty to bring to your
favorable consideration matters of great interest in their present and
ultimate results; and the only desire which I feel in connection with the
future is and will continue to be to leave the country prosperous and its
institutions unimpaired.


State of the Union Address
John Tyler
December 3, 1844

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

We have continued cause for expressing our gratitude to the Supreme Ruler
of the Universe for the benefits and blessings which our country, under His
kind providence, has enjoyed during the past year. Notwithstanding the
exciting scenes through which we have passed, nothing has occurred to
disturb the general peace or to derange the harmony of our political
system. The great moral spectacle has been exhibited of a nation
approximating in number to 20,000,000 people having performed the high and
important function of electing their Chief Magistrate for the term of four
years without the commission of any acts of violence or the manifestation
of a spirit of insubordination to the laws. The great and inestimable right
of suffrage has been exercised by all who were invested with it under the
laws of the different States in a spirit dictated alone by a desire, in the
selection of the agent, to advance the interests of the country and to
place beyond jeopardy the institutions under which it is our happiness to
live. That the deepest interest has been manifested by all our countrymen
in the result of the election is not less true than highly creditable to
them. Vast multitudes have assembled from time to time at various places
for the purpose of canvassing the merits and pretensions of those who were
presented for their suffrages, but no armed soldiery has been necessary to
restrain within proper limits the popular zeal or to prevent violent
outbreaks. A principle much more controlling was found in the love of order
and obedience to the laws, which, with mere individual exceptions,
everywhere possesses the American mind, and controls with an influence far
more powerful than hosts of armed men. We can not dwell upon this picture
without recognizing in it that deep and devoted attachment on the part of
the people to the institutions under which we live which proclaims their
perpetuity. The great objection which has always prevailed against the
election by the people of their chief executive officer has been the
apprehension of tumults and disorders which might involve in ruin the
entire Government. A security against this is found not only in the fact
before alluded to, trot in the additional fact that we live under a
Confederacy embracing already twenty-six States, no one of which has power
to control the election. The popular vote in each State is taken at the
time appointed by the laws, and such vote is announced by the electoral
college without reference to the decision of other States. The right of
suffrage and the mode of conducting the election are regulated by the laws
of each State, and the election is distinctly federative in all its
prominent features. Thus it is that, unlike what might be the results under
a consolidated system, riotous proceedings, should they prevail, could only
affect the elections in single States without disturbing to any dangerous
extent the tranquillity of others. The great experiment of a political
confederation each member of which is supreme as to all matters
appertaining to its local interests and its internal peace and happiness,
while by a voluntary compact with others it confides to the united power of
all the protection of its citizens in matters not domestic has been so far
crowned with complete success. The world has witnessed its rapid growth in
wealth and population, and under the guide and direction of a
superintending Providence the developments of the past may be regarded but
as the shadowing forth of the mighty future. In the bright prospects of
that future we shall find, as patriots and philanthropists, the highest
inducements to cultivate and cherish a love of union and to frown down
every measure or effort which may be made to alienate the States or the
people of the States in sentiment and feeling from each other. A rigid and
close adherence to the terms of our political compact and, above all, a
sacred observance of the guaranties of the Constitution will preserve union
on a foundation which can not be shaken, while personal liberty is placed
beyond hazard or jeopardy. The guaranty of religious freedom, of the
freedom of the press, of the liberty of speech, of the trial by jury, of
the habeas corpus, and of the domestic institutions of each of the States,
leaving the private citizen in the full exercise of the high and ennobling
attributes of his nature and to each State the privilege (which can only be
judiciously exerted by itself) of consulting the means best calculated to
advance its own happiness--these are the great and important guaranties of
the Constitution which the lovers of liberty must cherish and the advocates
of union must ever cultivate. Preserving these and avoiding all
interpolations by forced construction under the guise of an imagined
expediency upon the Constitution, the influence of our political system is
destined to be as actively and as beneficially felt on the distant shores
of the Pacific as it is now on those of the Atlantic Ocean. The only
formidable impediments in the way of its successful expansion (time and
space) are so far in the progress of modification by the improvements of
the age as to render no longer speculative the ability of representatives
from that remote region to come up to the Capitol, so that their
constituents shall participate in all the benefits of Federal legislation.
Thus it is that in the progress of time the inestimable principles of civil
liberty will be enjoyed by millions yet unborn and the great benefits of
our system of government be extended to now distant and uninhabited
regions. In view of the vast wilderness yet to be reclaimed, we may well
invite the lover of freedom of every land to take up his abode among us and
assist us in the great work of advancing the standard of civilization and
giving a wider spread to the arts and refinements of cultivated life. Our
prayers should evermore be offered up to the Father of the Universe for His
wisdom to direct us in the path of our duty so as to enable us to
consummate these high purposes.

One of the strongest objections which has been urged against confederacies
by writers on government is the liability of the members to be tampered
with by foreign governments or the people of foreign states, either in
their local affairs or in such as affected the peace of others or
endangered the safety of the whole confederacy. We can not hope to be
entirely exempt from such attempts on our peace and safety. The United
States are becoming too important in population and resources not to
attract the observation of other nations. It therefore may in the progress
of time occur that opinions entirely abstract in the States which they may
prevail and in no degree affecting their domestic institutions may be
artfully but secretly encouraged with a view to undermine the Union. Such
opinions may become the foundation of political parties, until at last the
conflict of opinion, producing an alienation of friendly feeling among the
people of the different States, may involve in general destruction the
happy institutions under which we live. It should ever be borne in mind
that what is true in regard to individuals is equally so in regard to
states. An interference of one in the affairs of another is the fruitful
cause of family dissensions and neighborhood disputes, and the same cause
affects the peace, happiness, and prosperity of states. It may be most
devoutly hoped that the good sense of the American people will ever be
ready to repel all such attempts should they ever be made.

There has been no material change in our foreign relations since my last
annual message to Congress. With all the powers of Europe we continue on
the most friendly terms. Indeed, it affords me much satisfaction to state
that at no former period has the peace of that enlightened and important
quarter of the globe ever been, apparently, more firmly established. The
conviction that peace is the true policy of nations would seem to be
growing and becoming deeper amongst the enlightened everywhere, and there
is no people who have a stronger interest in cherishing the sentiments and
adopting the means of preserving and giving it permanence than those of the
United States. Amongst these, the first and most effective are, no doubt,
the strict observance of justice and the honest and punctual fulfillment of
all engagements. But it is not to be forgotten that in the present state of
the world it is no less necessary to be ready to enforce their observance
and fulfillment in reference to ourselves than to observe and fulfill them
on our part in regard to others.

Since the close of your last session a negotiation has been formally
entered upon between the Secretary of State and Her Britannic Majesty's
minister plenipotentiary and envoy extraordinary residing at Washington
relative to the rights of their respective nations in and over the Oregon
Territory. That negotiation is still pending. Should it during your session
be brought to a definitive conclusion, the result will be promptly
communicated to Congress. I would, however, again call your attention to
the recommendations contained in previous messages designed to protect and
facilitate emigration to that Territory. The establishment of military
posts at suitable points upon the extended line of land travel would enable
our citizens to emigrate in comparative safety to the fertile regions below
the Falls of the Columbia, and make the provision of the existing
convention for the joint occupation of the territory by subjects of Great
Britain and the citizens of the United States more available than
heretofore to the latter. These posts would constitute places of rest for
the weary emigrant, where he would be sheltered securely against the danger
of attack from the Indians and be enabled to recover from the exhaustion of
a long line of travel. Legislative enactments should also be made which
should spread over him the aegis of our laws, so as to afford protection to
his person and property when he shall have reached his distant home. In
this latter respect the British Government has been much more careful of
the interests of such of her people as are to be found in that country than
the United States. She has made necessary provision for their security and
protection against the acts of the viciously disposed and lawless, and her
emigrant reposes in safety under the panoply of her laws. Whatever may be
the result of the pending negotiation, such measures are necessary. It will
afford me the greatest pleasure to witness a happy and favorable
termination to the existing negotiation upon terms compatible with the
public honor, and the best efforts of the Government will continue to be
directed to this end.

It would have given me the highest gratification in this my last annual
communication to Congress to have been able to announce to you the complete
and entire settlement and adjustment of other matters in difference between
the United States and the Government of Her Britannic Majesty, which were
adverted to in a previous message. It is so obviously the interest of both
countries, in respect to the large and valuable commerce which exists
between them, that all causes of complaint, however inconsiderable, should
be with the greatest promptitude removed that it must be regarded as cause
of regret that any unnecessary delays should be permitted to intervene. It
is true that in a pecuniary point of view the matters alluded to are
altogether insignificant in amount when compared with the ample resources
of that great nation, but they nevertheless, more particularly that limited
class which arise under seizures and detentions of American ships on the
coast of Africa upon the mistaken supposition indulged in at the time the
wrong was committed of their being engaged in the slave trade, deeply
affect the sensibilities of this Government and people. Great Britain,
having recognized her responsibility to repair all such wrongs by her
action in other cases, leaves nothing to be regretted upon the subject as
to all cases arising prior to the treaty of Washington than the delay in
making suitable reparation in such of them as fall plainly within the
principle of others which she has long since adjusted. The injury inflicted
by delays in the settlement of these claims falls with severity upon the
individual claimants and makes a strong appeal to her magnanimity and sense
of justice for a speedy settlement. Other matters arising out of the
construction of existing treaties also remain unadjusted, and will continue
to be urged upon her attention.

The labors of the joint commission appointed by the two Governments to run
the dividing line established by the treaty of Washington were,
unfortunately, much delayed in the commencement of the season by the
failure of Congress at its last session to make a timely appropriation of
funds to meet the expenses of the American party, and by other causes. The
United States commissioner, however, expresses his expectation that by
increased diligence and energy the party will be able to make up for lost

We continue to receive assurances of the most friendly feelings on the part
of all the other European powers, with each and all of whom it is so
obviously our interest to cultivate the most amicable relations; nor can I
anticipate the occurrence of any event which would be likely in any degree
to disturb those relations. Russia, the great northern power, under the
judicious sway of her Emperor, is constantly advancing in the road of
science and improvement, while France, guided by the counsels of her wise
Sovereign, pursues a course calculated to consolidate the general peace.
Spain has obtained a breathing spell of some duration from the internal
convulsions which have through so many years marred her prosperity, while
Austria, the Netherlands, Prussia, Belgium, and the other powers of Europe
reap a rich harvest of blessings from the prevailing peace.

I informed the two Houses of Congress in my message of December last that
instructions had been given to Mr. Wheaton, our minister at Berlin, to
negotiate a treaty with the Germanic States composing the Zollverein if it
could be done, stipulating, as far as it was practicable to accomplish it,
for a reduction of the heavy and onerous duties levied on our tobacco and
other leading articles of agricultural production, and yielding in return
on our part a reduction of duties on such articles the product of their
industry as should not come into competition, or but a limited one, with
articles the product of our manufacturing industry. The Executive in giving
such instructions considered itself as acting in strict conformity with the
wishes of Congress as made known through several measures which it had
adopted, all directed to the accomplishment of this important result. The
treaty was therefore negotiated, by which essential reductions were secured
in the duties levied by the Zollverein on tobacco, rice, and lard,
accompanied by a stipulation for the admission of raw cotton free of duty;
in exchange for which highly important concessions a reduction of duties
imposed by the laws of the United States on a variety of articles, most of
which were admitted free of all duty under the act of Congress commonly
known as the compromise law, and but few of which were produced in the
United States, was stipulated for on our part. This treaty was communicated
to the Senate at an early day of its last session, but not acted upon until
near its close, when, for the want (as I am bound to presume) of full time
to consider it, it was laid upon the table. This procedure had the effect
of virtually rejecting it, in consequence of a stipulation contained in the
treaty that its ratifications should be exchanged on or before a day which
has already passed. The Executive, acting upon the fair inference that the
Senate did not intend its absolute rejection, gave instructions to our
minister at Berlin to reopen the negotiation so far as to obtain an
extension of time for the exchange of ratifications. I regret, however, to
say that his efforts in this respect have been unsuccessful. I am
nevertheless not without hope that the great advantages which were intended
to be secured by the treaty may yet be realized.

I am happy to inform you that Belgium has, by an "arrete royale" issued in
July last, assimilated the flag of the United States to her own, so far as
the direct trade between the two countries is concerned. This measure will
prove of great service to our shipping interest, the trade having
heretofore been carried on chiefly in foreign bottoms. I flatter myself
that she will speedily resort to a modification of her system relating to
the tobacco trade, which would decidedly benefit the agriculture of the
United States and operate to the mutual advantage of both countries.

No definitive intelligence has yet been received from our minister of the
conclusion of a treaty with the Chinese Empire, but enough is known to
induce the strongest hopes that the mission will be crowned with success.

With Brazil our relations continue on the most friendly footing. The
commercial intercourse between that growing Empire and the United States is
becoming daily of greater importance to both, and it is to the interest of
both that the firmest relations of amity and good will should continue to
be cultivated between them.

The Republic of New Granada still withholds, notwithstanding the most
persevering efforts have been employed by our charge d'affaires, Mr.
Blackford, to produce a different result, indemnity in the case of the brig
Morris; and the Congress of Venezuela, although an arrangement has been
effected between our minister and the minister of foreign affairs of that
Government for the payment of $18,000 in discharge of its liabilities in
the same case, has altogether neglected to make provision for its payment.
It is to be hoped that a sense of justice will soon induce a settlement of
these claims.

Our late minister to Chili, Mr. Pendleton, has returned to the United
States without having effected an adjustment in the second claim of the
Macedonian, which is delayed on grounds altogether frivolous and untenable.
Mr. Pendleton's successor has been directed to urge the claim in the
strongest terms, and, in the event of a failure to obtain a prompt
adjustment, to report the fact to the Executive at as early a day as
possible, so that the whole matter may be communicated to Congress.

At your last session I submitted to the attention of Congress the
convention with the Republic of Peru of the 17th March, 1841, providing for
the adjustment of the claims of citizens of the United States against that
Republic, but no definitive action was taken upon the subject. I again
invite to it your attention and prompt action.

In my last annual message I felt it to be my duty to make known to
Congress, in terms both plain and emphatic, my opinion in regard to the war
which has so long existed between Mexico and Texas which since the battle
of San Jacinto has consisted altogether of predatory incursions, attended
by circumstances revolting to humanity. I repeat now what I then said, that
after eight years of feeble and ineffectual efforts to reconquer Texas it
was time that the war should have ceased. The United States have a direct
interest in the question. The contiguity of the two nations to our
territory was but too well calculated to involve our peace. Unjust
suspicions were engendered in the mind of one or the other of the
belligerents against us, and as a necessary consequence American interests
were made to suffer and our peace became daily endangered; in addition to
which it must have been obvious to all that the exhaustion produced by the
war subjected both Mexico and Texas to the interference of other powers,
which, without the interposition of this Government, might eventuate in the
most serious injury to the United States. This Government from time to time
exerted its friendly offices to bring about a termination of hostilities
upon terms honorable alike to both the belligerents. Its efforts in this
behalf proved unavailing. Mexico seemed almost without an object to
persevere in the war, and no other alternative was left the Executive but
to take advantage of the well-known dispositions of Texas and to invite her
to enter into a treaty for annexing her territory to that of the United

Since your last session Mexico has threatened to renew the war, and has
either made or proposes to make formidable preparations for invading Texas.
She has issued decrees and proclamations, preparatory to the commencement
of hostilities, full of threats revolting to humanity, and which if carried
into effect would arouse the attention of all Christendom. This new
demonstration of feeling, there is too much reason to believe, has been
produced in consequence of the negotiation of the late treaty of annexation
with Texas. The Executive, therefore, could not be indifferent to such
proceedings, and it felt it to be due as well to itself as to the honor of
the country that a strong representation should be made to the Mexican
Government upon the subject. This was accordingly done, as will be seen by
the copy of the accompanying dispatch from the Secretary of State to the
United States envoy at Mexico. Mexico has no right to jeopard the peace of
the world by urging any longer a useless and fruitless contest. Such a
condition of things would not be tolerated on the European continent. Why
should it be on this? A war of desolation, such as is now threatened by
Mexico, can not be waged without involving our peace and tranquillity. It
is idle to believe that such a war could be looked upon with indifference
by our own citizens inhabiting adjoining States; and our neutrality would
be violated in despite of all efforts on the part of the Government to
prevent it. The country is settled by emigrants from the United States
under invitations held out to them by Spain and Mexico. Those emigrants
have left behind them friends and relatives, who would not fail to
sympathize with them in their difficulties, and who would be led by those
sympathies to participate in their struggles, however energetic the action
of the Government to prevent it. Nor would the numerous and formidable
bands of Indians--the most warlike to be found in any land--which
occupy the extensive regions contiguous to the States of Arkansas and
Missouri, and who are in possession of large tracts of country within the
limits of Texas, be likely to remain passive. The inclinations of those
numerous tribes lead them invariably to war whenever pretexts exist.

Mexico had no just ground of displeasure against this Government or people
for negotiating the treaty. What interest of hers was affected by the
treaty? She was despoiled of nothing, since Texas was forever lost to her.
The independence of Texas was recognized by several of the leading powers
of the earth. She was free to treat, free to adopt her own line of policy,
free to take the course which she believed was best calculated to secure
her happiness.

Her Government and people decided on annexation to the United States, and
the Executive saw in the acquisition of such a territory the means of
advancing their permanent happiness and glory. What principle of good
faith, then, was violated? What rule of political morals trampled under
foot? So far as Mexico herself was concerned, the measure should have been
regarded by her as highly beneficial. Her inability to reconquer Texas had
been exhibited, I repeat, by eight (now nine) years of fruitless and
ruinous contest. In the meantime Texas has been growing in population and
resources. Emigration has flowed into her territory from all parts of the
world in a current which continues to increase in strength. Mexico requires
a permanent boundary between that young Republic and herself. Texas at no
distant day, if she continues separate and detached from the United States,
will inevitably seek to consolidate her strength by adding to her domain
the contiguous Provinces of Mexico. The spirit of revolt from the control
of the central Government has heretofore manifested itself in some of those
Provinces, and it is fair to infer that they would be inclined to take the
first favorable opportunity to proclaim their independence and to form
close alliances with Texas. The war would thus be endless, or if cessations
of hostilities should occur they would only endure for a season. The
interests of Mexico, therefore, could in nothing be better consulted than
in a peace with her neighbors which would result in the establishment of a
permanent boundary. Upon the ratification of the treaty the Executive was
prepared to treat with her on the most liberal basis. Hence the boundaries
of Texas were left undefined by the treaty. The Executive proposed to
settle these upon terms that all the world should have pronounced just and
reasonable. No negotiation upon that point could have been undertaken
between the United States and Mexico in advance of the ratification of the
treaty. We should have had no right, no power, no authority, to have
conducted such a negotiation, and to have undertaken it would have been an
assumption equally revolting to the pride of Mexico and Texas and
subjecting us to the charge of arrogance, while to have proposed in advance
of annexation to satisfy Mexico for any contingent interest she might have
in Texas would have been to have treated Texas not as an independent power,
but as a mere dependency of Mexico. This assumption could not have been
acted on by the Executive without setting at defiance your own solemn
declaration that that Republic was an independent State. Mexico had, it is
true, threatened war against the United States in the event the treaty of
annexation was ratified. The Executive could not permit itself to be
influenced by this threat. It represented in this the spirit of our people,
who are ready to sacrifice much for peace, but nothing to intimidation. A
war under any circumstances is greatly to be deplored, and the United
States is the last nation to desire it; but if, as the condition of peace,
it be required of us to forego the unquestionable right of treating with an
independent power of our own continent upon matters highly interesting to
both, and that upon a naked and unsustained pretension of claim by a third
power to control the free will of the power with whom we treat, devoted as
we may be to peace and anxious to cultivate friendly relations with the
whole world, the Executive does not hesitate to say that the people of the
United States would be ready to brave all consequences sooner than submit
to such condition. But no apprehension of war was entertained by the
Executive, and I must express frankly the opinion that had the treaty been
ratified by the Senate it would have been followed by a prompt settlement,
to the entire satisfaction of Mexico, of every matter in difference between
the two countries. Seeing, then, that new preparations for hostile invasion
of Texas were about to be adopted by Mexico, and that these were brought
about because Texas had adopted the suggestions of the Executive upon the
subject of annexation, it could not passively have folded its arms and
permitted a war, threatened to be accompanied by every act that could mark
a barbarous age, to be waged against her because she had done so.

Other considerations of a controlling character influenced the course of
the Executive. The treaty which had thus been negotiated had failed to
receive the ratification of the Senate. One of the chief objections which
was urged against it was found to consist in the fact that the question of
annexation had not been submitted to the ordeal of public opinion in the
United States. However untenable such an objection was esteemed to be, in
view of the unquestionable power of the Executive to negotiate the treaty
and the great and lasting interests involved in the question, I felt it to
be my duty to submit the whole subject to Congress as the best expounders
of popular sentiment. No definitive action having been taken on the subject
by Congress, the question referred itself directly to the decision of the
States and people. The great popular election which has just terminated
afforded the best opportunity of ascertaining the will of the States and
the people upon it. Pending that issue it became the imperative duty of the
Executive to inform Mexico that the question of annexation was still before
the American people, and that until their decision was pronounced any
serious invasion of Texas would be regarded as an attempt to forestall
their judgment and could not be looked upon with indifference. I am most
happy to inform you that no such invasion has taken place; and I trust that
whatever your action may be upon it Mexico will see the importance of
deciding the matter by a resort to peaceful expedients in preference to
those of arms. The decision of the people and the States on this great and
interesting subject has been decisively manifested. The question of
annexation has been presented nakedly to their consideration. By the treaty
itself all collateral and incidental issues which were calculated to divide
and distract the public councils were carefully avoided. These were left to
the wisdom of the future to determine. It presented, I repeat, the isolated
question of annexation, and in that form it has been submitted to the
ordeal of public sentiment. A controlling majority of the people and a
large majority of the States have declared in favor of immediate
annexation. Instructions have thus come up to both branches of Congress
from their respective constituents in terms the most emphatic. It is the
will of both the people and the States that Texas shall be annexed to the
Union promptly and immediately. It may be hoped that in carrying into
execution the public will thus declared all collateral issues may be
avoided. Future Legislatures can best decide as to the number of States
which should be formed out of the territory when the time has arrived for
deciding that question. So with all others. By the treaty the United States
assumed the payment of the debts of Texas to an amount not exceeding
$10,000,000, to be paid, with the exception of a sum falling short of
$400,000, exclusively out of the proceeds of the sales of her public lands.
We could not with honor take the lands without assuming the full payment of
all incumbencies upon them.

Nothing has occurred since your last session to induce a doubt that the
dispositions of Texas remain unaltered. No intimation of an altered
determination on the part of her Government and people has been furnished
to the Executive. She still desires to throw herself under the protection
of our laws and to partake of the blessings of our federative system, while
every American interest would seem to require it. The extension of our
coastwise and foreign trade to an amount almost incalculable, the
enlargement of the market for our manufactures, a constantly growing market
for our agricultural productions, safety to our frontiers, and additional
strength and stability to the Union--these are the results which would
rapidly develop themselves upon the consummation of the measure of
annexation. In such event I will not doubt but that Mexico would find her
true interest to consist in meeting the advances of this Government in a
spirit of amity. Nor do I apprehend any serious complaint from any other
quarter; no sufficient ground exists for such complaint. We should
interfere in no respect with the rights of any other nation. There can not
be gathered from the act any design on our part to do so with their
possessions on this continent. We have interposed no impediments in the way
of such acquisitions of territory, large and extensive as many of them are,
as the leading powers of Europe have made from time to time in every part
of the world. We seek no conquest made by war. No intrigue will have been
resorted to or acts of diplomacy essayed to accomplish the annexation of
Texas. Free and independent herself, she asks to be received into our
Union. It is a question for our own decision whether she shall be received
or not.

The two Governments having already agreed through their respective organs
on the terms of annexation, I would recommend their adoption by Congress in
the form of a joint resolution or act to be perfected and made binding on
the two countries when adopted in like manner by the Government of Texas.

In order that the subject may be fully presented in all its bearings, the
correspondence which has taken place in reference to it since the
adjournment of Congress between the United States, Texas, and Mexico is
herewith transmitted.

The amendments proposed by the Senate to the convention concluded between
the United States and Mexico on the 20th of November, 1843, have been
transmitted through our minister for the concurrence of the Mexican
Government, but, although urged thereto, no action has yet been had on the
subject, nor has any answer been given which would authorize a favorable
conclusion in the future.

The decree of September, 1843, in relation to the retail trade, the order
for the expulsion of foreigners, and that of a more recent date in regard
to passports--all which are considered as in violation of the treaty of
amity and commerce between the two countries--have led to a correspondence
of considerable length between the minister for foreign relations and our
representatives at Mexico, but without any satisfactory result. They remain
still unadjusted, and many and serious inconveniences have already resulted
to our citizens in consequence of them.

Questions growing out of the act of disarming a body of Texan troops under
the command of Major Snively by an officer in the service of the United
States, acting under the orders of our Government, and the forcible entry
into the custom-house at Bryarlys Landing, on Red River, by certain
citizens of the United States, and taking away therefrom the goods seized
by the collector of the customs as forfeited under the laws of Texas, have
been adjusted so far as the powers of the Executive extend. The
correspondence between the two Governments in reference to both subjects
will be found amongst the accompanying documents. It contains a full
statement of all the facts and circumstances, with the views taken on both
sides and the principles on which the questions have been adjusted. It
remains for Congress to make the necessary appropriation to carry the
arrangement into effect, which I respectfully recommend.

The greatly improved condition of the Treasury affords a subject for
general congratulation. The paralysis which had fallen on trade and
commerce, and which subjected the Government to the necessity of resorting
to loans and the issue of Treasury notes to a large amount, has passed
away, and after the payment of upward of $7,000,000 on account of the
interest, and in redemption of more than $5,000,000 of the public debt
which falls due on the 1st of January next, and setting apart upward of
$2,000,000 for the payment of outstanding Treasury notes and meeting an
installment of the debts of the corporate cities of the District of
Columbia, an estimated surplus of upward of $7,000,000 over and above the
existing appropriations will remain in the Treasury at the close of the
fiscal year. Should the Treasury notes continue outstanding as heretofore,
that surplus will be considerably augmented. Although all interest has
ceased upon them and the Government has invited their return to the
Treasury, yet they remain outstanding, affording great facilities to
commerce, and establishing the fact that under a well-regulated system of
finance the Government has resources within itself which render it
independent in time of need, not only of private loans, but also of bank

The only remaining subject of regret is that the remaining stocks of the
Government do not fall due at an earlier day, since their redemption would
be entirely within its control. As it is, it may be well worthy the
consideration of Congress whether the law establishing the sinking fund
(under the operation of which the debts of the Revolution and last war with
Great Britain were to a great extent extinguished) should not, with proper
modifications, so as to prevent an accumulation of surpluses, and limited
in amount to a specific sum, be reenacted. Such provision, which would
authorize the Government to go into the market for a purchase of its own
stock on fair terms, would serve to maintain its credit at the highest
point and prevent to a great extent those fluctuations in the price of its
securities which might under other circumstances affect its credit. No
apprehension of this sort is at this moment entertained, since the stocks
of the Government, which but two years ago were offered for sale to
capitalists at home and abroad at a depreciation, and could find no
purchasers, are now greatly above par in the hands of the holders; but a
wise and prudent forecast admonishes us to place beyond the reach of
contingency the public credit.

It must also be a matter of unmingled gratification that under the existing
financial system (resting upon the act of 1789 and the resolution of 1816)
the currency of the country has attained a state of perfect soundness; and
the rates of exchange between different parts of the Union, which in 1841
denoted by their enormous amount the great depreciation and, in fact,
worthlessness of the currency in most of the States, are now reduced to
little more than the mere expense of transporting specie from place to
place and the risk incident to the operation. In a new country like that of
the United States, where so many inducements are held out for speculation,
the depositories of the surplus revenue, consisting of banks of any
description, when it reaches any considerable amount, require the closest
vigilance on the part of the Government. All banking institutions, under
whatever denomination they may pass, are governed by an almost exclusive
regard to the interest of the stockholders. That interest consists in the
augmentation of profits in the form of dividends, and a large surplus
revenue intrusted to their custody is but too apt to lead to excessive
loans and to extravagantly large issues of paper. As a necessary
consequence prices are nominally increased and the speculative mania very
soon seizes upon the public mind. A fictitious state of prosperity for a
season exists, and, in the language of the day, money becomes plenty.
Contracts are entered into by individuals resting on this unsubstantial
state of things, but the delusion speedily passes away and the country is
overrun with an indebtedness so weighty as to overwhelm many and to visit
every department of industry with great and ruinous embarrassment. The
greatest vigilance becomes necessary on the part of Government to guard
against this state of things. The depositories must be given distinctly to
understand that the favors of the Government will be altogether withdrawn,
or substantially diminished, if its revenues shall be regarded as additions
to their banking capital or as the foundation of an enlarged circulation.

The Government, through its revenue, has at all times an important part to
perform in connection with the currency, and it greatly depends upon its
vigilance and care whether the country be involved in embarrassments
similar to those which it has had recently to encounter, or, aided by the
action of the Treasury, shall be preserved in a sound and healthy

The dangers to be guarded against are greatly augmented by too large a
surplus of revenue. When that surplus greatly exceeds in amount what shall
be required by a wise and prudent forecast to meet unforeseen
contingencies, the Legislature itself may come to be seized with a
disposition to indulge in extravagant appropriations to objects many of
which may, and most probably would, be found to conflict with the
Constitution. A fancied expediency is elevated above constitutional
authority, and a reckless and wasteful extravagance but too certainly

The important power of taxation, which when exercised in its most
restricted form is a burthen on labor and production, is resorted to under
various pretexts for purposes having no affinity to the motives which
dictated its grant, and the extravagance of Government stimulates
individual extravagance until the spirit of a wild and ill-regulated
speculation involves one and all in its unfortunate results. In view of
such fatal consequences, it may be laid down as an axiom rounded in moral
and political truth that no greater taxes should be imposed than are
necessary for an economical administration of the Government, and that
whatever exists beyond should be reduced or modified. This doctrine does in
no way conflict with the exercise of a sound discrimination in the
selection of the articles to be taxed, which a due regard to the public
weal would at all times suggest to the legislative mind. It leaves the
range of selection undefined; and such selection should always be made with
an eye to the great interests of the country. Composed as is the Union of
separate and independent States, a patriotic Legislature will not fail in
consulting the interests of the parts to adopt such course as will be best
calculated to advance the harmony of the whole, and thus insure that
permanency in the policy of the Government without which all efforts to
advance the public prosperity are vain and fruitless.

This great and vitally important task rests with Congress, and the
Executive can do no more than recommend the general principles which should
govern in its execution.

I refer you to the report of the Secretary of War for an exhibition of the
condition of the Army, and recommend to you as well worthy your best
consideration many of the suggestions it contains. The Secretary in no
degree exaggerates the great importance of pressing forward without delay
in the work of erecting and finishing the fortifications to which he
particularly alludes. Much has been done toward placing our cities and
roadsteads in a state of security against the hazards of hostile attack
within the last four years; but considering the new elements which have
been of late years employed in the propelling of ships and the formidable
implements of destruction which have been brought into service, we can not
be too active or vigilant in preparing and perfecting the means of defense.
I refer you also to his report for a full statement of the condition of the
Indian tribes within our jurisdiction. The Executive has abated no effort
in carrying into effect the well-established policy of the Government which
contemplates a removal of all the tribes residing within the limits of the
several States beyond those limits, and it is now enabled to congratulate
the country at the prospect of an early consummation of this object. Many
of the tribes have already made great progress in the arts of civilized
life, and through the operation of the schools established among them,
aided by the efforts of the pious men of various religious denominations
who devote themselves to the task of their improvement, we may fondly hope
that the remains of the formidable tribes which were once masters of this
country will in their transition from the savage state to a condition of
refinement and cultivation add another bright trophy to adorn the labors of
a well-directed philanthropy.

The accompanying report of the Secretary of the Navy will explain to you
the situation of that branch of the service. The present organization of
the Department imparts to its operations great efficiency, but I concur
fully in the propriety of a division of the Bureau of Construction,
Equipment, Increase, and Repairs into two bureaus. The subjects as now
arranged are incongruous, and require to a certain extent information and
qualifications altogether dissimilar.

The operations of the squadron on the coast of Africa have been conducted
with all due attention to the object which led to its origination, and I am
happy to say that the officers and crews have enjoyed the best possible
health under the system adopted by the officer in command. It is believed
that the United States is the only nation which has by its laws subjected
to the punishment of death as pirates those who may be engaged in the slave
trade. A similar enactment on the part of other nations would not fail to
be attended by beneficial results.

In consequence of the difficulties which have existed in the way of
securing titles for the necessary grounds, operations have not yet been
commenced toward the establishment of the navy-yard at Memphis. So soon as
the title is perfected no further delay will be permitted to intervene. It
is well worthy of your consideration whether Congress should not direct the
establishment of a ropewalk in connection with the contemplated navy-yard,
as a measure not only of economy, but as highly useful and necessary. The
only establishment of the sort now connected with the service is located at
Boston, and the advantages of a similar establishment convenient to the
hemp-growing region must be apparent to all.

The report of the Secretary presents other matters to your consideration of
an important character in connection with the service.

In referring you to the accompanying report of the Postmaster-General it
affords me continued cause of gratification to be able to advert to the
fact that the affairs of the Department for the last four years have been
so conducted as from its unaided resources to meet its large expenditures.
On my coming into office a debt of nearly $500,000 existed against the
Department, which Congress discharged by an appropriation from the
Treasury. The Department on the 4th of March next will be found, under the
management of its present efficient head, free of debt or embarrassment,
which could only have been done by the observance and practice of the
greatest vigilance and economy. The laws have contemplated throughout that
the Department should be self-sustained, but it may become necessary, with
the wisest regard to the public interests, to introduce amendments and
alterations in the system.

There is a strong desire manifested in many quarters so to alter the tariff
of letter postage as to reduce the amount of tax at present imposed. Should
such a measure be carried into effect to the full extent desired, it can
not well be doubted but that for the first years of its operation a
diminished revenue would be collected, the supply of which would
necessarily constitute a charge upon the Treasury. Whether such a result
would be desirable it will be for Congress in its wisdom to determine. It
may in general be asserted as true that radical alterations in any system
should rather be brought about gradually than by sudden changes and by
pursuing this prudent policy in the reduction of letter postage the
Department might still sustain itself through the revenue which would
accrue by the increase of letters. The state and condition of the public
Treasury has heretofore been such as to have precluded the recommendation
of any material change. The difficulties upon this head have, however,
ceased, and a larger discretion is now left to the Government.

I can not too strongly urge the policy of authorizing the establishment of
a line of steamships regularly to ply between this country and foreign
ports and upon our own waters for the transportation of the mail. The
example of the British Government is well worthy of imitation in this
respect. The belief is strongly entertained that the emoluments arising
from the transportation of mail matter to foreign countries would operate
of itself as an inducement to cause individual enterprise to undertake that
branch of the task, and the remuneration of the Government would consist in
the addition readily made to our steam navy in case of emergency by the
ships so employed. Should this suggestion meet your approval, the propriety
of placing such ships under the command of experienced officers of the Navy
will not escape your observation. The application of steam to the purposes
of naval warfare cogently recommends an extensive steam marine as important
in estimating the defenses of the country. Fortunately this may be obtained
by us to a great extent without incurring any large amount of expenditure.
Steam vessels to be engaged in the transportation of the mails on our
principal water courses, lakes, and ports of our coast could also be so
constructed as to be efficient as war vessels when needed, and would of
themselves constitute a formidable force in order to repel attacks from
abroad.. We can not be blind to the fact that other nations have already
added large numbers of steamships to their naval armaments and that this
new and powerful agent is destined to revolutionize the condition of the
world. It becomes the United States, therefore, looking to their security,
to adopt a similar policy, and the plan suggested will enable them to do so
at a small comparative cost.

I take the greatest pleasure in bearing testimony to the zeal and untiring
industry which has characterized the conduct of the members of the
Executive Cabinet. Each in his appropriate sphere has rendered me the most
efficient aid in carrying on the Government, and it will not, I trust,
appear out of place for me to bear this public testimony. The cardinal
objects which should ever be held in view by those intrusted with the
administration of public affairs are rigidly, and without favor or
affection, so to interpret the national will expressed in the laws as that
injustice should be done to none, justice to all. This has been the rule
upon which they have acted, and thus it is believed that few cases, if any,
exist wherein our fellow-citizens, who from time to time have been drawn to
the seat of Government for the settlement of their transactions with the
Government, have gone away dissatisfied. Where the testimony has been
perfected and was esteemed satisfactory their claims have been promptly
audited, and this in the absence of all favoritism or partiality. The
Government which is not just to its own people can neither claim their
affection nor the respect of the world. At the same time, the Closest
attention has been paid to those matters which relate more immediately to
the great concerns of the country. Order and efficiency in each branch of
the public service have prevailed, accompanied by a system of the most
rigid responsibility on the part of the receiving and disbursing agents.
The fact, in illustration of the truth of this remark, deserves to be
noticed that the revenues of the Government, amounting in the last four
years to upward of $120,000,000, have been collected and disbursed through
the numerous governmental agents without the loss by default of any amount
worthy of serious commentary.

The appropriations made by Congress for the improvement of the rivers of
the West and of the harbors on the Lakes are in a course of judicious
expenditure under suitable agents, and are destined, it is to be hoped, to
realize all the benefits designed to be accomplished by Congress. I can
not, however, sufficiently impress upon Congress the great importance of
withholding appropriations from improvements which are not ascertained by
previous examination and survey to be necessary for the shelter and
protection of trade from the dangers of stores and tempests. Without this
precaution the expenditures are but too apt to inure to the benefit of
individuals, without reference to the only consideration which can render
them constitutional--the public interests and the general good.

I can not too earnestly urge upon you the interests of this District, over
which by the Constitution Congress has exclusive jurisdiction. It would be
deeply to be regretted should there be at any time ground to complain of
neglect on the part of a community which, detached as it is from the
parental care of the States of Virginia and Maryland, can only expect aid
from Congress as its local legislature. Amongst the subjects which claim
your attention is the prompt organization of an asylum for the insane who
may be found from time to time sojourning within the District. Such course
is also demanded by considerations which apply to branches of the public
service. For the necessities in this behalf I invite your particular
attention to the report of the Secretary of the Navy.

I have thus, gentlemen of the two Houses of Congress, presented you a true
and faithful picture of the condition of public affairs, both foreign and
domestic. The wants of the public service are made known to you, and
matters of no ordinary importance are urged upon your consideration. Shall
I not be permitted to congratulate you on the happy auspices under which
you have assembled and at the important change in the condition of things
which has occurred in the last three years? During that period questions
with foreign powers of vital importance to the peace of our country have
been settled and adjusted. A desolating and wasting war with savage tribes
has been brought to a close. The internal tranquillity of the country,
threatened by agitating questions, has been preserved. The credit of the
Government, which had experienced a temporary embarrassment, has been
thoroughly restored. Its coffers, which for a season were empty, have been
replenished. A currency nearly uniform in its value has taken the place of
one depreciated and almost worthless. Commerce and manufactures, which had
suffered in common with every other interest, have once more revived, and
the whole country exhibits an aspect of prosperity and happiness. Trade and
barter, no longer governed by a wild and speculative mania, rest upon a
solid and substantial footing, and the rapid growth of our cities in every
direction bespeaks most strongly the favorable circumstances by which we
are surrounded. My happiness in the retirement which shortly awaits me is
the ardent hope which I experience that this state of prosperity is neither
deceptive nor destined to be short lived, and that measures which have not
yet received its sanction, but which I can not but regard as closely
connected with the honor, the glory, and still more enlarged prosperity of
the country, are destined at an early day to receive the approval of
Congress. Under these circumstances and with these anticipations I shall
most gladly leave to others more able than myself the noble and pleasing
task of sustaining the public prosperity. I shall carry with me into
retirement the gratifying reflection that as my sole object throughout has
been to advance the public good I may not entirely have failed in
accomplishing it; and this gratification is heightened in no small degree
by the fact that when under a deep and abiding sense of duty I have found
myself constrained to resort to the qualified veto it has neither been
followed by disapproval on the part of the people nor weakened in any
degree their attachment to that great conservative feature of our

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