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´╗┐Title: State of the Union Addresses
Author: Monroe, James
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 James Monroe

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Dates of addresses by James Monroe in this eBook:

  December 12, 1817
  November 16, 1818
  December 7, 1819
  November 14, 1820
  December 3, 1821
  December 3, 1822
  December 2, 1823
  December 7, 1824


State of the Union Address
James Monroe
December 12, 1817

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The great increase of our population throughout the Union will alone
produce an important effect, and in no quarter will it be so sensibly felt
as in those in contemplation. The public lands are a public stock, which
ought to be disposed of to the best advantage for the nation. The nation
should therefore derive the profit proceeding from the continual rise in
their value. Every encouragement should be given to the emigrants
consistent with a fair competition between them, but that competition
should operate in the first sale to the advantage of the nation rather than
of individuals.

Great capitalists will derive the benefit incident to their superior wealth
under any mode of sale which may be adopted, but if, looking forward to the
rise in the value of the public lands, they should have the opportunity of
amassing at a low price vast bodies in their hands, the profit will accrue
to them and not to the public. They would also have the power in that
degree to control the emigration and settlement in such a manner as their
opinion of their respective interests might dictate. I submit this subject
to the consideration of Congress, that such further provision may be made
in the sale of the public lands, with a view to the public interest, should
any be deemed expedient, as in their judgment may be best adapted to the

When we consider the vast extent of territory within the United States, the
great amount and value of its productions, the connection of its parts, and
other circumstances on which their prosperity and happiness depend, we can
not fail to entertain a high sense of the advantage to be derived from the
facility which may be afforded in the intercourse between them by means of
good roads and canals. Never did a country of such vast extent offer equal
inducements to improvements of this kind, nor ever were consequences of
such magnitude involved in them. As this subject was acted on by Congress
at the last session, and there may be a disposition to revive it at the
present, I have brought it into view for the purpose of communicating my
sentiments on a very important circumstance connected with it with that
freedom and candor which a regard for the public interest and a proper
respect for Congress require.

A difference of opinion has existed from the first formation of our
Constitution to the present time among our most enlightened and virtuous
citizens respecting the right of Congress to establish such a system of
improvement. Taking into view the trust with which I am now honored, it
would be improper after what has passed that this discussion should be
revived with an uncertainty of my opinion respecting the right.
Disregarding early impressions I have bestowed on the subject all the
deliberation which its great importance and a just sense of my duty
required, and the result is a settled conviction in my mind that Congress
do not possess the right. It is not contained in any of the specified
powers granted to Congress, nor can I consider it incidental to or a
necessary means, viewed on the most liberal scale, for carrying into effect
any of the powers which are specifically granted.

In communicating this result I can not resist the obligation which I feel
to suggest to Congress the propriety of recommending to the States the
adoption of an amendment to the Constitution which shall give to Congress
the right in question. In cases of doubtful construction, especially of
such vital interest, it comports with the nature and origin of our
institutions, and will contribute much to preserve them, to apply to our
constituents for an explicit grant of the power. We may confidently rely
that if it appears to their satisfaction that the power is necessary, it
will always be granted.

In this case I am happy to observe that experience has afforded the most
ample proof of its utility, and that the benign spirit of conciliation and
harmony which now manifests itself throughout our Union promises to such a
recommendation the most prompt and favorable result. I think proper to
suggest also, in case this measure is adopted, that it be recommended to
the States to include in the amendment sought a right in Congress to
institute likewise seminaries of learning, for the all-important purpose of
diffusing knowledge among our fellow-citizens throughout the United

Our manufactories will require the continued attention of Congress. The
capital employed in them is considerable, and the knowledge acquired in the
machinery and fabric of all the most useful manufactures is of great value.
Their preservation, which depends on due encouragement, is connected with
the high interests of the nation.

Although the progress of the public buildings has been as favorable as
circumstances have permitted, it is to be regretted that the Capitol is not
yet in a state to receive you. There is good cause to presume that the two
wings, the only parts as yet commenced, will be prepared for that purpose
at the next session. The time seems now to have arrived when this subject
may be deemed worthy the attention of Congress on a scale adequate to
national purposes. The completion of the middle building will be necessary
to the convenient accommodation of Congress, of the committees, and various
offices belonging to it.

It is evident that the other public buildings are altogether insufficient
for the accommodation of the several Executive Departments, some of whom
are much crowded and even subjected to the necessity of obtaining it in
private buildings at some distance from the head of the Department, and
with inconvenience to the management of the public business.

Most nations have taken an interest and a pride in the improvement and
ornament of their metropolis, and none were more conspicuous in that
respect than the ancient republics. The policy which dictated the
establishment of a permanent residence for the National Government and the
spirit in which it was commenced and has been prosecuted show that such
improvement was thought worthy the attention of this nation. Its central
position, between the northern and southern extremes of our Union, and its
approach to the west at the head of a great navigable river which
interlocks with the Western waters, prove the wisdom of the councils which
established it.

Nothing appears to be more reasonable and proper than that convenient
accommodation should be provided on a well-digested plan for the heads of
the several Departments and for the Attorney-General, and it is believed
that the public ground in the city applied to these objects will be found
amply sufficient. I submit this subject to the consideration of Congress,
that such further provision may be made in it as to them may seem proper.

In contemplating the happy situation of the United States, our attention
is drawn with peculiar interest to the surviving officers and soldiers of
our Revolutionary army, who so eminently contributed by their services to
lay its foundation. Most of those very meritorious citizens have paid the
debt of nature and gone to repose. It is believed that among the survivors
there are some not provided for by existing laws, who are reduced to
indigence and even to real distress. These men have a claim on the
gratitude of their country, and it will do honor to their country to
provide for them. The lapse of a few years more and the opportunity will be
forever lost; indeed, so long already has been the interval that the number
to be benefitted by any provision which may be made will not be great.

It appearing in a satisfactory manner that the revenue arising from imposts
and tonnage and from the sale of the public lands will be fully adequate to
the support of the civil Government, of the present military and naval
establishments, including the annual augmentation of the latter to the
extent provided for, to the payment of the interest of the public debt, and
to the extinguishment of it at the times authorized, without the aid of the
internal taxes, I consider it my duty to recommend to Congress their

To impose taxes when the public exigencies require them is an obligation of
the most sacred character, especially with a free people. The faithful
fulfillment of it is among the highest proofs of their value and capacity
for self-government. To dispense with taxes when it may be done with
perfect safety is equally the duty of their representatives.

In this instance we have the satisfaction to know that they were imposed
when the demand was imperious, and have been sustained with exemplary
fidelity. I have to add that however gratifying it may be to me regarding
the prosperous and happy condition of our country to recommend the repeal
of these taxes at this time, I shall nevertheless be attentive to events,
and, should any future emergency occur, be not less prompt to suggest such
measures and burdens as may then be requisite and proper.


State of the Union Address
James Monroe
November 16, 1818

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


State of the Union Address
James Monroe
December 7, 1819

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


State of the Union Address
James Monroe
November 14, 1820

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


State of the Union Address
James Monroe
December 3, 1821

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

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

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

In those relating to foreign powers, I am happy to state that peace and
amity are preserved with all by a strict observance on both sides of the
rights of each.

In matters touching our commercial intercourse, where a difference of
opinion has existed as to the conditions on which it should be placed, each
party has pursued its own policy without giving just cause of offense to
the other.

In this annual communication, especially when it is addressed to a new
Congress, the whole scope of our political concerns naturally comes into
view, that errors, if such have been committed, may be corrected; that
defects which have become manifest may be remedied; and, on the other hand,
that measures which were adopted on due deliberation, and which experience
has shewn are just in themselves and essential to the public welfare,
should be persevered in and supported. In performing this necessary and
very important duty I shall endeavor to place before you on its merits
every subject that is thought to be entitled to your particular attention
in as distinct and clear a light as I may be able.

By an act of March 3rd, 1815, so much of the several acts as imposed higher
duties on the tonnage of foreign vessels and on the manufactures and
productions of foreign nations when imported into the United States in
foreign vessels than when imported in vessels of the United States were
repealed so far as respected the manufactures and productions of the nation
to which such vessels belonged, on the condition that the repeal should
take effect only in favor of any foreign nation when the Executive should
be satisfied that such discriminating duties to the disadvantage of the
United States had likewise been repealed by such nation.

By this act a proposition was made to all nations to place our commerce
with each on a basis which it was presumed would be acceptable to all.
Every nation was allowed to bring its manufactures and productions into our
ports and to take the manufactures and productions of the United States
back to their ports in their own vessels on the same conditions that they
might be transported in vessels of the United States, and in return it was
required that a like accommodation should be granted to the vessels of the
United States in the ports of other powers. The articles to be admitted or
prohibited on either side formed no part of the proposed arrangement. Each
party would retain the right to admit or prohibit such articles from the
other as it thought proper, and on its own conditions.

When the nature of the commerce between the United States and every other
country was taken into view, it was thought that this proposition would be
considered fair, and even liberal, by every power. The exports of the
United States consist generally of articles of the first necessity and of
rude materials in demand for foreign manufactories, of great bulk,
requiring for their transportation many vessels, the return for which in
the manufactures and productions of any foreign country, even when disposed
of there to advantage, may be brought in a single vessel. This observation
is the more especially applicable to those countries from which
manufactures alone are imported, but it applies in great extent to the
European dominions of every European power and in a certain extent to all
the colonies of those powers. By placing, then, the navigation precisely on
the same ground in the transportation of exports and imports between the
United States and other countries it was presumed that all was offered
which could be desired. It seemed to be the only proposition which could be
devised which would retain even the semblance of equality in our favor.

Many considerations of great weight gave us a right to expect that this
commerce should be extended to the colonies as well as to the European
dominions of other powers. With the latter, especially with countries
exclusively manufacturing, the advantage was manifestly on their side. An
indemnity for that loss was expected from a trade with the colonies, and
with the greater reason as it was known that the supplies which the
colonies derived from us were of the highest importance to them, their
labor being bestowed with so much greater profit in the culture of other
articles; and because, likewise, the articles of which those supplies
consisted, forming so large a proportion of the exports of the United
States, were never admitted into any of the ports of Europe except in cases
of great emergency to avert a serious calamity.

When no article is admitted which is not required to supply the wants of
the party admitting it, and admitted then not in favor of any particular
country to the disadvantage of others, but on conditions equally applicable
to all, it seems just that the articles thus admitted and invited should be
carried thither in the vessels of the country affording such supply and
that the reciprocity should be found in a corresponding accommodation on
the other side. By allowing each party to participate in the transportation
of such supplies on the payment of equal tonnage a strong proof was
afforded of an accommodating spirit. To abandon to it the transportation of
the whole would be a sacrifice which ought not to be expected. The demand
in the present instance would be the more unreasonable in consideration of
the great inequality existing in the trade with the parent country.

Such was the basis of our system as established by the act of 1815 and such
its true character. In the year in which this act was passed a treaty was
concluded with Great Britain, in strict conformity with its principles, in
regard to her European dominions. To her colonies, however, in the West
Indies and on this continent it was not extended, the British Government
claiming the exclusive supply of those colonies, and from our own ports,
and of the productions of the colonies in return in her own vessels. To
this claim the United States could not assent, and in consequence each
party suspended the intercourse in the vessels of the other by a
prohibition which still exists.

The same conditions were offered to France, but not accepted. Her
Government has demanded other conditions more favorable to her navigation,
and which should also give extraordinary encouragement to her manufactures
and productions in ports of the United States. To these it was thought
improper to accede, and in consequence the restrictive regulations which
had been adopted on her part, being countervailed on the part of the United
States, the direct commerce between the two countries in the vessels of
each party has been in great measure suspended. It is much to be regretted
that, although a negotiation has been long pending, such is the diversity
of views entertained on the various points which have been brought into
discussion that there does not appear to be any reasonable prospect of its
early conclusion.

It is my duty to state, as a cause of very great regret, that very serious
differences have occurred in this negotiation respecting the construction
of the 8th article of the treaty of 1803, by which Louisiana was ceded to
the United States, and likewise respecting the seizure of the Apollo, in
1820, for a violation of our revenue laws. The claim of the Government of
France has excited not less surprise than concern, because there does not
appear to be a just foundation for it in either instance. By the 8th
article of the treaty referred to it is stipulated that after the
expiration of twelve years, during which time it was provided by the 7th or
preceding article that the vessels of France and Spain should be admitted
into the ports of the ceded territory without paying higher duties on
merchandise or tonnage on the vessels than such as were paid by citizens of
the United States, the ships of France should forever afterwards be placed
on the footing of the most favored nation.

By the obvious construction of this article it is presumed that it was
intended that no favor should be granted to any power in those ports to
which France should not be forthwith entitled, nor should any accommodation
be allowed to another power on conditions to which she would not also be
entitled on the same conditions. Under this construction no favor or
accommodation could be granted to any power to the prejudice of France. By
allowing the equivalent allowed by those powers she would always stand in
those ports on the footing of the most favored nation.

But if this article should be so construed as that France should enjoy, of
right, and without paying the equivalent, all the advantages of such
conditions as might be allowed to other powers in return for important
concessions made by them, then the whole character of the stipulations
would be changed. She would not be placed on the footing of the most
favored nation, but on a footing held by no other nation. She would enjoy
all advantages allowed to them in consideration of like advantages allowed
to us, free from every and any condition whatever.

As little cause has the Government of France to complain of the seizure of
the Apollo and the removal of other vessels from the waters of the St.
Marys. It will not be denied that every nation has a right to regulate its
commercial system as it thinks fit and to enforce the collection of its
revenue, provided it be done without an invasion of the rights of other
powers. The violation of its revenue laws is an offense which all nations
punish, the punishment of which gives no just cause of complaint to the
power to which the offenders belong, provided it be extended to all

In this case every circumstance which occurred indicated a fixed purpose to
violate our revenue laws. Had the party intended to have pursued a fair
trade he would have entered the port of some other power, landed his goods
at the custom house according to law, and re-shipped and sent them in the
vessel of such power, or of some other power which might lawfully bring
them, free from such duties, to a port of the United States. But the
conduct of the party in this case was altogether different. He entered the
river St. Marys, the boundary line between the United States and Florida,
and took his position on the Spanish side, on which in the whole extent of
the river there was no town, no port or custom house, and scarcely any
settlement. His purpose, therefore, was not to sell his goods to the
inhabitants of Florida, but to citizens of the United States, in exchange
for their productions, which could not be done without a direct and
palpable breach of our laws. It is known that a regular systematic plan had
been formed by certain persons for the violation of our revenue system,
which made it the more necessary to check the proceeding in its

That the unsettled bank of a river so remote from the Spanish garrisons and
population could give no protection to any party in such a practice is
believed to be in strict accord with the law of nations. It would not have
comported with a friendly policy in Spain herself to have established a
custom house there, since it could have subserved no other purpose than to
elude our revenue law. But the Government of Spain did not adopt that
measure. On the contrary, it is understood that the Captain-General of
Cuba, to whom an application to that effect was made by these adventurers,
had not acceded to it.

The condition of those Provinces for many years before they were ceded to
the United States need not now be dwelt on. Inhabited by different tribes
of Indians and an inroad for every kind of adventurer, the jurisdiction of
Spain may be said to have been almost exclusively confined to her
garrisons. It certainly could not extend to places where she had no
authority. The rules, therefore, applicable to settled countries governed
by laws could not be deemed so to the deserts of Florida and to the
occurrences there.

It merits attention also that the territory had been ceded to the United
States by a treaty the ratification of which had not been refused, and
which has since been performed. Under any circumstances, therefore, Spain
became less responsible for such acts committed there, and the United
States more at liberty to exercise authority to prevent so great a
mischief. The conduct of this Government has in every instance been
conciliatory and friendly to France. The construction of our revenue law in
its application to the cases which have formed the ground of such serious
complaint on her part and the order to the collector of St. Marys, in
accord with it, were given two years before these cases occurred, and in
reference to a breach which was attempted by the subjects of another power.
The application, therefore, to the cases in question was inevitable. As
soon as the treaty by which these Provinces were ceded to the United States
was ratified, and all danger of further breach of our revenue laws ceased,
an order was given for the release of the vessel which had been seized and
for the dismission of the libel which had been instituted against her.

The principles of this system of reciprocity, founded on the law of
March 3rd, 1815, have been since carried into effect with the Kingdoms of
the Netherlands, Sweden, Prussia, and with Hamburg, Lubeck, and Oldenburg,
with a provision made by subsequent laws in regard to the Netherlands,
Prussia, Hamburg, and Bremen that such produce and manufactures as could
only be, or most usually were, first shipped from the ports of those
countries, the same being imported in vessels wholly belonging to their
subjects, should be considered and admitted as their own manufactures and

The Government of Norway has by an ordinance opened the ports of that part
of the dominions of the King of Sweden to the vessels of the United States
upon the payment of no other or higher duties than are paid by Norwegian
vessels, from whatever place arriving and with whatever articles laden.
They have requested the reciprocal allowance for the vessels of Norway in
the ports of the United States. As this privilege is not within the scope
of the act of March 3rd, 1815, and can only be granted by Congress, and as
it may involve the commercial relations of the United States with other
nations, the subject is submitted to the wisdom of Congress.

I have presented thus fully to your view our commercial relations with
other powers, that, seeing them in detail with each power, and knowing the
basis on which they rest, Congress may in its wisdom decide whether any
change ought to be made, and, if any, in what respect. If this basis is
unjust or unreasonable, surely it ought to be abandoned; but if it be just
and reasonable, and any change in it will make concessions subversive of
equality and tending in its consequences to sap the foundations of our
prosperity, then the reasons are equally strong for adhering to the ground
already taken, and supporting it by such further regulations as may appear
to be proper, should any additional support be found necessary.

The question concerning the construction of the first article of the treaty
of Ghent has been, by a joint act of the representatives of the United
States and of Great Britain at the Court of St. Petersburg, submitted to
the decision of His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Russia. The result of
that submission has not yet been received. The commissioners under the 5th
article of that treaty not having been able to agree upon their decision,
their reports to the two Governments, according to the provisions of the
treaty, may be expected at an early day.

With Spain the treaty of February 22nd, 1819, has been partly carried into
execution. Possession of East and West Florida has been given to the
United States, but the officers charged with that service by an order
from His Catholic Majesty, delivered by his minister to the Secretary of
State, and transmitted by a special agent to the Captain-General of Cuba,
to whom it was directed and in whom the Government of those Provinces
was vested, have not only omitted, in contravention of the order of their
Sovereign, the performance of the express stipulation to deliver over the
archives and documents relating to the property and sovereignty of those
Provinces, all of which it was expected would have been delivered either
before or when the troops were withdrawn, but defeated since every effort
of the United States to obtain them, especially those of the greatest
importance. This omission has given rise to several incidents of a painful
nature, the character of which will be fully disclosed by the documents
which will be hereafter communicated.

In every other circumstance of the law of the 3rd of March last, for
carrying into effect that treaty, has been duly attended to. For the
execution of that part which preserved in force, for the Government of the
inhabitants for the term specified, all the civil, military, and judicial
powers exercised by the existing Government of those Provinces an adequate
number of officers, as was presumed, were appointed, and ordered to their
respective stations. Both Provinces were formed into one Territory, and a
governor appointed for it; but in consideration of the pre-existing
division and of the distance and difficulty of communication between
Pensacola, the residence of the governor of West Florida, and St.
Augustine, that of the governor of East Florida, at which places the
inconsiderable population of each Province was principally collected, two
secretaries were appointed, the one to reside at Pensacola and the other at
St. Augustine.

Due attention was likewise paid to the execution of the laws of the United
States relating to the revenue and the slave trade, which were extended to
these Provinces. The whole Territory was divided into three collection
districts, that part lying between the river St. Marys and Cape Florida
forming one, that from the Cape to the Apalachicola another, and that from
the Apalachicola to the Perdido the third. To these districts the usual
number of revenue officers were appointed; and to secure the due operation
of these laws one judge and a district attorney were appointed to reside at
Pensacola, and likewise one judge and a district attorney to reside at St.
Augustine, with a specified boundary between them; and one marshal for the
whole, with authority to appoint a deputy.

In carrying this law into effect, and especially that part relating to the
powers of the existing Government of those Provinces, it was thought
important, in consideration of the short term for which it was to operate
and the radical change which would be made at the approaching session of
Congress, to avoid expense, to make no appointment which should not be
absolutely necessary to give effect to those powers, to withdraw none of
our citizens from their pursuits, whereby to subject the Government to
claims which could not be gratified and the parties to losses which it
would be painful to witness.

It has been seen with much concern that in the performance of these duties
a collision arose between the governor of the Territory and the judge
appointed for the western district. It was presumed that the law under
which this transitory Government was organized, and the commissions which
were granted to the officers who were appointed to execute each branch of
the system, and to which the commissions were adapted, would have been
understood in the same sense by them in which they were understood by the
Executive. Much allowance is due to officers employed in each branch of
this system, and the more so as there is good cause to believe that each
acted under the conviction that he possessed the power which he undertook
to exercise. Of the officer holding the principal station, I think it
proper to observe that he accepted it with reluctance, in compliance with
the invitation given him, and from a high sense of duty to his country,
being willing to contribute to the consummation of an event which would
insure complete protection to an important part of our Union, which had
suffered much from incursion and invasion, and to the defense of which his
very gallant and patriotic services had been so signally and usefully

From the intrinsic difficulty of executing laws deriving their origin from
different sources, and so essentially different in many important
circumstances, the advantage, and indeed the necessity, of establishing as
soon as practicable a well-organized Government over that Territory on the
principles of our system is apparent. This subject is therefore recommended
to the early consideration of Congress.

In compliance with an injunction of the law of the 3rd of March last, three
commissioners have also been appointed and a board organized for carrying
into effect the 11th article of the treaty above recited, making provision
for the payment of such of our citizens as have well-founded claims on
Spain of the character specified by that treaty. This board has entered on
its duties and made some progress therein. The commissioner and surveyor of
His Catholic Majesty, provided for by the 4th article of the treaty, have
not yet arrived in the United States, but are soon expected. As soon as
they do arrive corresponding appointments will be made and every facility
be afforded for the due execution of this service.

The Government of His Most Faithful Majesty since the termination of the
last session of Congress has been removed from Rio de Janeiro to Lisbon,
where a revolution similar to that which had occurred in the neighboring
Kingdom of Spain had in like manner been sanctioned by the accepted and
pledged faith of the reigning monarch. The diplomatic intercourse between
the United States and the Portuguese dominions, interrupted by this
important event, has not yet been resumed, but the change of internal
administration having already materially affected the commercial
intercourse of the United States with the Portuguese dominions, the renewal
of the public missions between the two countries appears to be desirable at
an early day.

It is understood that the colonies in South America have had great success
during the present year in the struggle for their independence. The new
Government of Colombia has extended its territories and considerably
augmented its strength, and at Buenos Ayres, where civil dissensions had
for some time before prevailed, greater harmony and better order appear to
have been established. Equal success has attended their efforts in the
Provinces on the Pacific. It has long been manifest that it would be
impossible for Spain to reduce these colonies by force, and equally so that
no conditions short of their independence would be satisfactory to them. It
may therefore be presumed, and it is earnestly hoped, that the Government
of Spain, guided by enlightened and liberal councils, will find it to
comport with its interests and due to its magnanimity to terminate this
exhausting controversy on that basis. To promote this result by friendly
counsel with the Government of Spain will be the object of the Government
of the United States.

In conducting the fiscal operations of the year it has been found necessary
to carry into full effect the act of the last session of Congress
authorizing a loan of $5 millions. This sum has been raised at an average
premium of $5.59 per centum upon stock bearing an interest at the rate of
5% per annum, redeemable at the option of the Government after January
1st, 1835.

There has been issued under the provisions of this act $4,735,296.30 of 5%
stock, and there has been or will be redeemed during the year $3,197,030.71
of Louisiana 6% deferred stock and Mississippi stock. There has therefore
been an actual increase of the public debt contracted during the year of

The receipts into the Treasury from the first of January to the 30th of
September last have amounted to $16,219,197.70, which, with the balance of
$1,198,461.21 in the Treasury on the former day, make the aggregate sum of
$17,417,658.91. The payments from the Treasury during the same period have
amounted to $15,655,288.47, leaving in the Treasury on the last-mentioned
day the sum of $1,762,370.44. It is estimated that the receipts of the 4th
quarter of the year will exceed the demands which will be made on the
Treasury during the same period, and that the amount in the Treasury on the
30th of September last will be increased on the first day of January next.

At the close of the last session it was anticipated that the progressive
diminution of the public revenue in 1819 and 1820, which had been the
result of the languid state of our foreign commerce in those years, had in
the latter year reached its extreme point of depression. It has, however,
been ascertained that that point was reached only at the termination of the
first quarter of the present year. From that time until the 30th of
September last the duties secured have exceeded those of the corresponding
quarters of the last year $1.172 millions, whilst the amount of debentures
issued during the three first quarters of this year is $952,000 less than
that of the same quarters of the last year.

There are just grounds to believe that the improvement which has occurred
in the revenue during the last-mentioned period will not only be
maintained, but that it will progressively increase through the next and
several succeeding years, so as to realize the results which were presented
upon that subject by the official reports of the Treasury at the
commencement of the last session of Congress.

Under the influence of the most unfavorable circumstances the revenue for
the next and subsequent years to the year 1825 will exceed the demands at
present authorized by law.

It may fairly be presumed that under the protection given to domestic
manufactures by the existing laws we shall become at no distant period a
manufacturing country on an extensive scale. Possessing as we do the raw
materials in such vast amount, with a capacity to augment them to an
indefinite extent; raising within the country aliment of every kind to an
amount far exceeding the demand for home consumption, even in the most
unfavorable years, and to be obtained always at a very moderate price;
skilled also, as our people are, in the mechanic arts and in every
improvement calculated to lessen the demand for and the price of labor, it
is manifest that their success in every branch of domestic industry may and
will be carried, under the encouragement given by the present duties, to an
extent to meet any demand which under a fair competition may be made upon

A considerable increase of domestic manufactures, by diminishing the
importation of foreign, will probably tend to lessen the amount of the
public revenue. As, however, a large proportion of the revenue which is
derived from duties is raised from other articles than manufactures, the
demand for which will increase with our population, it is believed that a
fund will still be raised from that source adequate to the greater part of
the public expenditures, especially as those expenditures, should we
continue to be blessed with peace, will be diminished by the completion of
the fortifications, dock yards, and other public works, by the augmentation
of the Navy to the point to which it is proposed to carry it, and by the
payment of the public debt, including pensions for military services.

It can not be doubted that the more complete our internal resources and the
less dependent we are on foreign powers for every national as well as
domestic purpose the greater and more stable will be the public felicity.
By the increase of domestic manufactures will the demand for the rude
materials at home be increased, and thus will the dependence of the several
parts of our Union on each other and the strength of the Union itself be
proportionably augmented.

In this process, which is very desirable, and inevitable under the existing
duties, the resources which obviously present themselves to supply a
deficiency in the revenue, should it occur, are the interests which may
derive the principal benefit from the change. If domestic manufactures are
raised by duties on foreign, the deficiency in the fund necessary for
public purposes should be supplied by duties on the former.

At the last session it seemed doubtful whether the revenue derived from the
present sources would be adequate to all the great purposes of our Union,
including the construction of our fortifications, the augmentation of the
Navy, and the protection of our commerce against the dangers to which it is
exposed. Had the deficiency been such as to subject us to the necessity
either to abandon those measures of defense or to resort to the other means
for adequate funds, the course presented to the adoption of a virtuous and
enlightened people appeared to be a plain one. It must be gratifying to all
to know that this necessity does not exist. Nothing, however, in
contemplation of such important objects, which can be easily provided for,
should be left to hazard. It is thought that the revenue may receive an
augmentation from the existing sources, and in a manner to aid our
manufactures, without hastening prematurely the result which has been
suggested. It is believed that a moderate additional duty on certain
articles would have that effect, without being liable to any serious

The examination of the whole coast, for the construction of permanent
fortifications, from St. Croix to the Sabine, with the exception of part of
the territory lately acquired, will be completed in the present year, as
will be the survey of the Mississippi, under the resolution of the House of
Representatives, from the mouth of the Ohio to the ocean, and likewise of
the Ohio from Louisville to the Mississippi. A progress corresponding with
the sums appropriated has also been made in the construction of these
fortifications at the ports designated. As they will form a system of
defense for the whole maritime frontier, and in consequence for the
interior, and are to last for ages, the greatest care has been taken to fix
the position of each work and to form it on such a scale as will be
adequate to the purpose intended by it. All the inlets and assailable parts
of our Union have been minutely examined, and positions taken with a view
to the best effect, observing in every instance a just regard for economy.
Doubts, however, being entertained as to the propriety of the position and
extent of the work at Dauphine Island, further progress in it was suspended
soon after the last session of Congress, and an order given to the Board of
Engineers and Naval Commissioners to make a further and more minute
examination of it in both respects, and to report the result without

Due progress has been made in the construction of vessels of war according
to the law providing for the gradual augmentation of the Navy, and to the
extent of existing appropriations. The vessels authorized by the act of
1820 have all been completed and are now in actual service. None of the
larger ships have been or will be launched for the present, the object
being to protect all which may not be required for immediate service from
decay by suitable buildings erected over them.

A squadron has been maintained, as heretofore, in the Mediterranean, by
means whereof peace has been preserved with the Barbary Powers. This
squadron has been reduced the present year to as small a force as is
compatible with the fulfillment of the object intended by it. From past
experience and the best information respecting the views of those powers it
is distinctly understood that should our squadron be withdrawn they would
soon recommence their hostilities and depredations upon our commerce. Their
fortifications have lately been rebuilt and their maritime force

It has also been found necessary to maintain a naval force on the Pacific
for the protection of the very important interests of our citizens engaged
in commerce and the fisheries in that sea. Vessels have likewise been
employed in cruising along the Atlantic coast, in the Gulf of Mexico, on
the coast of Africa, and in the neighboring seas. In the latter many
piracies have been committed on our commerce, and so extensive was becoming
the range of those unprincipled adventurers that there was cause to
apprehend, without a timely and decisive effort to suppress them, the worst
consequences would ensue. Fortunately, a considerable check has been given
to that spirit by our cruisers, who have succeeded in capturing and
destroying several of their vessels. Nevertheless, it is considered an
object of high importance to continue these cruises until the practice is
entirely suppressed.

Like success has attended our efforts to suppress the slave trade. Under
the flag of the United States and the sanction of their papers the trade
may be considered as entirely suppressed, and if any of our citizens are
engaged in it under the flags and papers of other powers, it is only from a
respect of those powers that these offenders are not seized and brought
home to receive the punishment which the laws inflict. If every other power
should adopt the same policy and pursue the same vigorous means for
carrying it into effect, the trade could no longer exist.

Deeply impressed with the blessings which we enjoy, and of which we have
such manifold proofs, my mind is irresistibly drawn to that Almighty Being,
the great source from whence they proceed and to whom our most grateful
acknowledgments are due.


State of the Union Address
James Monroe
December 3, 1822

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

Many causes unite to make your present meeting peculiarly interesting to
out constituents. The operation of our laws on the various subjects to
which they apply, with the amendments which they occasionally require,
imposes annually an important duty on the representatives of a free

Our system has happily advanced to such maturity that I am not aware that
your cares in that respect will be augmented. Other causes exist which are
highly interesting to the whole civilized world and to no portion of it
more so, in certain views, than to the United States. Of these causes and
of their bearing on the interests of our Union I shall communicate the
sentiments which I have formed with that freedom which a sense of duty
dictates. It is proper, however, to invite your attention in the first
instance to those concerns respecting which legislative provision is
thought to be particularly urgent.

On the 24th of June last a convention of navigation and commerce was
concluded in this city between the United States and France by ministers
duly authorized for the purpose. The sanction of the Executive having been
given to this convention under a conviction that, taking all its
stipulations into view, it rested essentially on a basis of reciprocal and
equal advantage, I deemed it my duty, in compliance with the authority
vested in the Executive by the second section of the act of the last
session of the 6th of May, concerning navigation, to suspend by
proclamation until the end of the next session of Congress the operation of
the act entitled "An act to impose a new tonnage duty on French ships and
vessels, and for other purposes", and to suspend likewise all other duties
on French vessels or the goods imported in them which exceeded the duties
on American vessels and on similar goods imported in them. I shall submit
this convention forthwith to the Senate for its advice and consent as to
the ratification.

Since your last session the prohibition which had been imposed on the
commerce between the United States and the British colonies in the West
Indies and on this continent has likewise been removed. Satisfactory
evidence having been adduced that the ports of those colonies had been
opened to the vessels of the United States by an act of the British
Parliament bearing date on the 24th of June last, on the conditions
specified therein, I deemed it proper, in compliance with the provision of
the first section of the act of the last session above recited, to declare,
by proclamation bearing date on the 24th of August last, that the ports of
the United States should thenceforward and until the end of the next
session of Congress be opened to the vessels of Great Britain employed in
that trade, under the limitation specified in that proclamation.

A doubt was entertained whether the act of Congress applied to the British
colonies on this continent as well as to those in the West Indies, but as
the act of Parliament opened the intercourse equally with both, and it was
the manifest intention of Congress, as well as the obvious policy of the
United States, that the provisions of the act of Parliament should be met
in equal extent on the part of the United States, and as also the act of
Congress was supposed to vest in the President some discretion in the
execution of it, I thought it advisable to give it a corresponding

Should the constitutional sanction of the Senate be given to the
ratification of the convention with France, legislative provisions will be
necessary to carry it fully into effect, as it likewise will be to continue
in force, on such conditions as may be deemed just and proper, the
intercourse which has been opened between the United States and the British
colonies. Every light in the possession of the Executive will in due time
be communicated on both subjects.

Resting essentially on a basis of reciprocal and equal advantage, it has
been the object of the Executive in transactions with other powers to meet
the propositions of each with a liberal spirit, believing that thereby the
interest of our country would be most effectually promoted. This course has
been systematically pursued in the late occurrences with France and Great
Britain, and in strict accord with the views of the Legislature. A
confident hope is entertained that by the arrangement thus commenced with
each all differences respecting navigation and commerce with the dominions
in question will be adjusted, and a solid foundation be laid for an active
and permanent intercourse which will prove equally advantageous to both

The decision of His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Russia on the question
submitted to him by the United States and Great Britain, concerning the
construction of the first article of the treaty of Ghent, has been
received. A convention has since been concluded between the parties, under
the mediation of His Imperial Majesty, to prescribe the mode by which that
article shall be carried into effect in conformity with that decision. I
shall submit this convention to the Senate for its advice and consent as to
the ratification, and, if obtained, shall immediately bring the subject
before Congress for such provisions as may require the interposition of the

In compliance with an act of the last session a Territorial Government has
been established in Florida on the principles of our system. By this act
the inhabitants are secured in the full enjoyment of their rights and
liberties, and to admission into the Union, with equal participation in the
Government with the original States on the conditions heretofore prescribed
to other Territories. By a clause in the 9th article of the treaty with
Spain, by which that Territory was ceded to the United States, it is
stipulated that satisfaction shall be made for the injuries, if any, which
by process of law shall be established to have been suffered by the Spanish
officers and individual Spanish inhabitants by the late operations of our
troops in Florida. No provision having yet been made to carry that
stipulation into effect, it is submitted to the consideration of Congress
whether it will not be proper to vest the competent power in the district
court at Pensacola, or in some tribunal to be specially organized for the

The fiscal operations of the year have been more successful than had been
anticipated at the commencement of the last session of Congress.

The receipts into the Treasury during the three first quarters of the year
have exceeded the sum of $14.745 millions. The payments made at the
Treasury during the same period have exceeded $12.279 millions, leaving
the Treasury on the 30th day of September last, including $1,168,592.24
which were in the Treasury on the first day of January last, a sum
exceeding $4.128 millions.

Besides discharging all demands for the current service of the year,
including the interest and reimbursement of the public debt, the 6% stock
of 1796, amounting to $80,000, has been redeemed. It is estimated that,
after defraying the current expenses of the present quarter and redeeming
the $2 millions of 6% stock of 1820, there will remain in the Treasury on
the first of January next nearly $3 millions. It is estimated that the
gross amount of duties which have been secured from the first of January
to the 30th of September last has exceeded $19.5 millions, and the amount
for the whole year will probably not fall short of $23 millions.

Of the actual force in service under the present military establishment,
the posts at which it is stationed, and the condition of each post, a
report from the Secretary of War which is now communicated will give a
distinct idea. By like reports the state of the Academy at West Point will
be seen, as will be the progress which has been made on the fortifications
along the coast and at the national armories and arsenals.

The organization of the several corps composing the Army is such as to
admit its expansion to a great extent in case of emergency, the officers
carrying with them all the light which they possess to the new corps to
which they might be appointed.

With the organization of the staff there is equal cause to be satisfied. By
the concentration of every branch with its chief in this city, in the
presence of the Department, and with a grade in the chief military station
to keep alive and cherish a military spirit, the greatest promptitude in
the execution of orders, with the greatest economy and efficiency, are
secured. The same view is taken of the Military Academy. Good order is
preserved in it, and the youth are well instructed in every science
connected with the great objects of the institution. They are also well
trained and disciplined in the practical parts of the profession. It has
been always found difficult to control the ardor inseparable from that
early age in such manner as to give it a proper direction. The rights of
manhood are too often claimed prematurely, in pressing which too far the
respect which is due to age and the obedience necessary to a course of
study and instruction in every such institution are sometimes lost sight
of. The great object to be accomplished is the restraint of that ardor by
such wise regulations and Government as, by directing all the energies of
the youthful mind to the attainment of useful knowledge, will keep it
within a just subordination and at the same time elevate it to the highest
purposes. This object seems to be essentially obtained in this institution,
and with great advantage to the Union.

The Military Academy forms the basis, in regard to science, on which the
military establishment rests. It furnishes annually, after due examination
and on the report of the academic staff, many well-informed youths to fill
the vacancies which occur in the several corps of the Army, while others
who retire to private life carry with them such attainments as, under the
right reserved to the several States to appoint the officers and to train
the militia, will enable them, by affording a wider field for selection, to
promote the great object of the power vested in Congress of providing for
the organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia. Thus by the mutual
and harmonious cooperation of the two governments in the execution of a
power divided between them, an object always to be cherished, the
attainment of a great result, on which our liberties may depend, can not
fail to be secured. I have to add that in proportion as our regular force
is small should the instruction and discipline of the militia, the great
resource on which we rely, be pushed to the utmost extent that
circumstances will admit.

A report from the Secretary of the Navy will communicate the progress which
has been made in the construction of vessels of war, with other interesting
details respecting the actual state of the affairs of that Department. It
has been found necessary for the protection of our commerce to maintain the
usual squadrons on the Mediterranean, the Pacific, and along the Atlantic
coast, extending the cruises of the latter into the West Indies, where
piracy, organized into a system, has preyed on the commerce of every
country trading thither. A cruise has also been maintained on the coast of
Africa, when the season would permit, for the suppression of the slave
trade, and orders have been given to the commanders of all our public ships
to seize our own vessels, should they find any engaging in that trade, and
to bring them in for adjudication.

In the West Indies piracy is of recent date, which may explain the cause
why other powers have not combined against it. By the documents
communicated it will be seen that the efforts of the United States to
suppress it have had a very salutary effect. The benevolent provision of
the act under which the protection has been extended alike to the commerce
of other nations can not fail to be duly appreciated by them.

In compliance with the act of the last session entitled "An act to abolish
the United States trading establishments", agents were immediately
appointed and instructed, under the direction of the Secretary of the
Treasury, to close the business of the trading houses among the Indian
tribes and to settle the accounts of the factors and sub-factors engaged
in that trade, and to execute in all other respects the injunction of that
act in the mode prescribed therein. A final report of their proceedings
shall be communicated to Congress as soon as it is received.

It is with great regret I have to state that a serious malady has deprived
us of many valuable citizens of Pensacola and checked the progress of some
of those arrangements which are important to the Territory. This effect has
been sensibly felt in respect to the Indians who inhabit that Territory,
consisting of the remnants of the several tribes who occupy the middle
ground between St. Augustine and Pensacola, with extensive claims but
undefined boundaries. Although peace is preserved with those Indians, yet
their position and claims tend essentially to interrupt the intercourse
between the eastern and western parts of the Territory, on which our
inhabitants are principally settled. It is essential to the growth and
prosperity of the Territory, as well as to the interests of the Union, that
those Indians should be removed, by special compact with them, to some
other position or concentration within narrower limits where they are. With
the limited means in the power of the Executive, instructions were given to
the governor to accomplish this object so far as it might be practicable,
which was prevented by the distressing malady referred to. To carry it
fully into effect in either mode additional funds will be necessary, to the
provision of which the powers of Congress are competent. With a view to
such provision as may be deemed proper, the subject is submitted to your
consideration, and in the interim further proceedings are suspended.

It appearing that so much of the act entitled "An act regulating the staff
of the Army", which passed on April 14, 1818, as relates to the
commissariat will expire in April next, and the practical operation of
that department having evinced its great utility, the propriety of its
renewal is submitted to your consideration.

The view which has been taken of the probable productiveness of the lead
mines, connected with the importance of the material to the public defense,
makes it expedient that they should be managed with peculiar care. It is
therefore suggested whether it will not comport with the public interest to
provide by law for the appointment of an agent skilled in mineralogy to
superintend them, under the direction of the proper department.

It is understood that the Cumberland road, which was constructed at great
expense, has already suffered from the want of that regular superintendence
and of those repairs which are indispensable to the preservation of such a
work. This road is of incalculable advantage in facilitating the
intercourse between the Western and the Atlantic States. Through the whole
country from the northern extremity of Lake Erie to the Mississippi, and
from all the waters which empty into each, finds an easy and direct
communication to the seat of Government, and thence to the Atlantic. The
facility which it affords to all military and commercial operations, and
also to those of the Post Office Department, can not be estimated too
highly. This great work is likewise an ornament and an honor to the

Believing that a competent power to adopt and execute a system of internal
improvement has not been granted to Congress, but that such a power,
confined to great national purposes and with proper limitations, would be
productive of eminent advantage to our Union, I have thought it advisable
that an amendment of the Constitution to that effect should be recommended
to the several States.

A bill which assumed the right to adopt and execute such a system having
been presented for my signature at the last session, I was compelled, from
the view which I had taken of the powers of the General Government, to
negative it, on which occasion I thought it proper to communicate the
sentiments which I had formed, on mature consideration, on the whole
subject. To that communication, in all the views in which the great
interest to which it relates may be supposed to merit your attention, I
have now to refer. Should Congress, however, deem it improper to recommend
such an amendment, they have, according to my judgment, the right to keep
the road in repair by providing for the superintendence of it and
appropriating the money necessary for repairs. Surely if they had the right
to appropriate money to make the road they have a right to appropriate it
to preserve the road from ruin. From the exercise of this power no danger
is to be apprehended.

Under our happy system the people are the sole and exclusive fountain of
power. Each Government originates from them, and to them alone, each to its
proper constituents, are they respectively and solely responsible for the
faithful discharge of their duties within their constitutional limits; and
that the people will confine their public agents of every station to the
strict line of their constitutional duties there is no cause of doubt.

Having, however, communicated my sentiments to Congress at the last session
fully in the document to which I have referred, respecting the right of
appropriation as distinct from the right of jurisdiction and sovereignty
over the territory in question, I deem it improper to enlarge on the
subject here.

From the best information I have been able to obtain it appears that our
manufactures, though depressed immediately after the peace, have
considerably increased, and are still increasing, under the encouragement
given them by the tariff of 1816 and by subsequent laws. Satisfied I am,
whatever may be the abstract doctrine in favor of unrestricted commerce,
provided all nations would concur in it and it was not liable to be
interrupted by war, which has never occurred and can not be expected, that
there are other strong reasons applicable to our situation and relations
with other countries which impose on us the obligation to cherish and
sustain our manufactures.

Satisfied, however, I likewise am that the interest of every part of our
Union, even of those most benefitted by manufactures, requires that this
subject should be touched with the greatest caution, and a critical
knowledge of the effect to be produced by the slightest change. On full
consideration of the subject in all its relations I am persuaded that a
further augmentation may now be made of the duties on certain foreign
articles in favor of our own and without affecting injuriously any other
interest. For more precise details I refer you to the communications which
were made to Congress during the last session.

So great was the amount of accounts for moneys advanced during the late
war, in addition to others of a previous date which in the regular
operations of the Government necessarily remained unsettled, that it
required a considerable length of time for their adjustment. By a report
from the first Comptroller of the Treasury it appears that on March 4th,
1817, the accounts then unsettled amounted to $103,068,876.41, of which on
September 30th, 1822, $93,175,396.56 had been settled, leaving on that day
a balance unsettled of $9,893,479.85. That there have been drawn from the
Treasury, in paying the public debt and sustaining the Government in all
its operations and disbursements, since March 4th, 1817, $157,199,380.96,
the accounts for which have been settled to the amount of $137,501,451.12,
leaving a balance unsettled of $19,697,929.84. For precise details
respecting each of these balances I refer to the report of the Comptroller
and the documents which accompany it.

From this view it appears that our commercial differences with France and
Great Britain have been placed in a train of amicable arrangement on
conditions fair and honorable in both instances to each party; that our
finances are in a very productive state, our revenue being at present fully
competent to all the demands upon it; that our military force is well
organized in all its branches and capable of rendering the most important
service in case of emergency that its number will admit of; that due
progress has been made, under existing appropriations, in the construction
of fortifications and in the operations of the Ordnance Department; that
due progress has in like manner been made in the construction of ships of
war; that our Navy is in the best condition, felt and respected in every
sea in which it is employed for the protection of our commerce; that our
manufactures have augmented in amount and improved in quality; that great
progress has been made in the settlement of accounts and in the recovery of
the balances due by individuals, and that the utmost economy is secured and
observed in every Department of the Administration. Other objects will
likewise claim your attention, because from the station which the United
States hold as a member of the great community of nations they have rights
to maintain, duties to perform, and dangers to encounter.

A strong hope was entertained that peace would ere this have been concluded
between Spain and the independent governments south of the United States in
this hemisphere. Long experience having evinced the competency of those
governments to maintain the independence which they had declared, it was
presumed that the considerations which induced their recognition by the
United States would have had equal weight with other powers, and that Spain
herself, yielding to those magnanimous feelings of which her history
furnishes so many examples, would have terminated on that basis a
controversy so unavailing and at the same time so destructive. We still
cherish the hope that this result will not long be postponed.

Sustaining our neutral position and allowing to each party while the war
continues equal rights, it is incumbent on the United States to claim of
each with equal rigor the faithful observance of our rights according to
the well-known law of nations. From each, therefore, a like cooperation is
expected in the suppression of the piratical practice which has grown out
of this war and of blockades of extensive coasts on both seas, which,
considering the small force employed to sustain them, have not the
slightest foundation to rest on.

Europe is still unsettled, and although the war long menaced between Russia
and Turkey has not broken out, there is no certainty that the differences
between those powers will be amicably adjusted. It is impossible to look to
the oppressions of the country respecting which those differences arose
without being deeply affected. The mention of Greece fills the mind with
the most exalted sentiments and arouses in our bosoms the best feelings of
which our nature is susceptible. Superior skill and refinement in the arts,
heroic gallantry in action, disinterested patriotism, enthusiastic zeal and
devotion in favor of public and personal liberty are associated with our
recollections of ancient Greece. That such a country should have been
overwhelmed and so long hidden, as it were, from the world under a gloomy
despotism has been a cause of unceasing and deep regret to generous minds
for ages past. It was natural, therefore, that the reappearance of those
people in their original character, contending in favor of their liberties,
should produce that great excitement and sympathy in their favor which have
been so signally displayed throughout the United States. A strong hope is
entertained that these people will recover their independence and resume
their equal station among the nations of the earth.

A great effort has been made in Spain and Portugal to improve the condition
of the people, and it must be very consoling to all benevolent minds to see
the extraordinary moderation with which it has been conducted. That it may
promote the happiness of both nations is the ardent wish of this whole
people, to the expression of which we confine ourselves; for whatever may
be the feelings or sentiments which every individual under our Government
has a right to indulge and express, it is nevertheless a sacred maxim,
equally with the Government and people, that the destiny of every
independent nation in what relates to such improvements of right belongs
and ought to be left exclusively to themselves.

Whether we reason from the late wars or from those menacing symptoms which
now appear in Europe, it is manifest that if a convulsion should take place
in any of those countries it will proceed from causes which have no
existence and are utterly unknown in these States, in which there is but
one order, that of the people, to whom the sovereignty exclusively

Should war break out in any of those countries who can foretell the extent
to which it may be carried or the desolation which it may spread? Exempt as
we are from these causes, our internal tranquillity is secure; and distant
as we are from the troubled scene, and faithful to first principles in
regard to other powers, we might reasonably presume that we should not be
molested by them. This, however, ought not to be calculated on as certain.
Unprovoked injuries are often inflicted and even the peculiar felicity of
our situation might with some be a cause for excitement and aggression.

The history of the late wars in Europe furnishes a complete demonstration
that no system of conduct, however correct in principle, can protect
neutral powers from injury from any party; that a defenseless position and
distinguished love of peace are the surest invitations to war, and that
there is no way to avoid it other than by being always prepared and willing
for just cause to meet it. If there be a people on earth whose more
especial duty it is to be at all times prepared to defend the rights with
which they are blessed, and to surpass all others in sustaining the
necessary burthens, and in submitting to sacrifices to make such
preparations, it is undoubtedly the people of these States.

When we see that a civil war of the most frightful character rages from the
Adriatic to the Black Sea; that strong symptoms of war appear in other
parts, proceeding from causes which, should it break out, may become
general and be of long duration; that the war still continues between Spain
and the independent governments, her late Provinces, in this hemisphere;
that it is likewise menaced between Portugal and Brazil, in consequence of
the attempt of the latter to dismember itself from the former, and that a
system of piracy of great extent is maintained in the neighboring seas,
which will require equal vigilance and decision to suppress it, the reasons
for sustaining the attitude which we now hold and for pushing forward all
our measures of defense with the utmost vigor appear to me to acquire new

The United States owe to the world a great example, and, by means thereof,
to the cause of liberty and humanity a generous support. They have so far
succeeded to the satisfaction of the virtuous and enlightened of every
country. There is no reason to doubt that their whole movement will be
regulated by a sacred regard to principle, all our institutions being
founded on that basis. The ability to support our own cause under any trial
to which it may be exposed is the great point on which the public
solicitude rests.

It has been often charged against free governments that they have neither
the foresight nor the virtue to provide at the proper season for great
emergencies; that their course is improvident and expensive; that war will
always find them unprepared, and, whatever may be its calamities, that its
terrible warnings will be disregarded and forgotten as soon as peace
returns. I have full confidence that this charge so far as relates to the
United States will be shewn to be utterly destitute of truth.


State of the Union Address
James Monroe
December 2, 1823

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

Many important subjects will claim your attention during the present
session, of which I shall endeavor to give, in aid of your deliberations, a
just idea in this communication. I undertake this duty with diffidence,
from the vast extent of the interests on which I have to treat and of their
great importance to every portion of our Union. I enter on it with zeal
from a thorough conviction that there never was a period since the
establishment of our Revolution when, regarding the condition of the
civilized world and its bearing on us, there was greater necessity for
devotion in the public servants to their respective duties, or for virtue,
patriotism, and union in our constituents.

Meeting in you a new Congress, I deem it proper to present this view of
public affairs in greater detail than might otherwise be necessary. I do
it, however, with peculiar satisfaction, from a knowledge that in this
respect I shall comply more fully with the sound principles of our

The people being with us exclusively the sovereign, it is indispensable
that full information be laid before them on all important subjects, to
enable them to exercise that high power with complete effect. If kept in
the dark, they must be incompetent to it. We are all liable to error, and
those who are engaged in the management of public affairs are more subject
to excitement and to be led astray by their particular interests and
passions than the great body of our constituents, who, living at home in
the pursuit of their ordinary avocations, are calm but deeply interested
spectators of events and of the conduct of those who are parties to them.

To the people every department of the Government and every individual in
each are responsible, and the more full their information the better they
can judge of the wisdom of the policy pursued and of the conduct of each in
regard to it. From their dispassionate judgment much aid may always be
obtained, while their approbation will form the greatest incentive and most
gratifying reward for virtuous actions, and the dread of their censure the
best security against the abuse of their confidence. Their interests in all
vital questions are the same, and the bond, by sentiment as well as by
interest, will be proportionably strengthened as they are better informed
of the real state of public affairs, especially in difficult conjunctures.
It is by such knowledge that local prejudices and jealousies are
surmounted, and that a national policy extending its fostering care and
protection to all the great interests of our Union, is formed and steadily
adhered to.

A precise knowledge of our relations with foreign powers as respects our
negotiations and transactions with each is thought to be particularly
necessary. Equally necessary is it that we should form a just estimate of
our resources, revenue, and progress in every kind of improvement connected
with the national prosperity and public defense. It is by rendering justice
to other nations that we may expect it from them. It is by our ability to
resent injuries and redress wrongs that we may avoid them.

The commissioners under the 5th article of the treaty of Ghent, having
disagreed in their opinions respecting that portion of the boundary between
the Territories of the United States and of Great Britain the establishment
of which had been submitted to them, have made their respective reports in
compliance with that article, that the same might be referred to the
decision of a friendly power. It being manifest, however, that it would be
difficult, if not impossible, for any power to perform that office without
great delay and much inconvenience to itself, a proposal has been made by
this Government, and acceded to by that of Great Britain, to endeavor to
establish that boundary by amicable negotiation.

It appearing from long experience that no satisfactory arrangement could be
formed of the commercial intercourse between the United States and the
British colonies in this hemisphere by legislative acts while each party
pursued its own course without agreement or concert with the other, a
proposal has been made to the British Government to regulate this commerce
by treaty, as it has been to arrange in like manner the just claim of the
citizens of the United States inhabiting the States and Territories
bordering on the lakes and rivers which empty into the St. Lawrence to the
navigation of that river to the ocean. For these and other objects of high
importance to the interests of both parties a negotiation has been opened
with the British Government which it is hoped will have a satisfactory

The commissioners under the 6th and 7th articles of the treaty of Ghent
having successfully closed their labors in relation to the 6th, have
proceeded to the discharge of those relating to the 7th. Their progress in
the extensive survey required for the performance of their duties justifies
the presumption that it will be completed in the ensuing year.

The negotiation which had been long depending with the French Government on
several important subjects, and particularly for a just indemnity for
losses sustained in the late wars by the citizens of the United States
under unjustifiable seizures and confiscations of their property, has not
as yet had the desired effect. As this claim rests on the same principle
with others which have been admitted by the French Government, it is not
perceived on what just ground it can be rejected. A minister will be
immediately appointed to proceed to France and resume the negotiation on
this and other subjects which may arise between the two nations.

At the proposal of the Russian Imperial Government, made through the
minister of the Emperor residing here, a full power and instructions have
been transmitted to the minister of the United States at St. Petersburg to
arrange by amicable negotiation the respective rights and interests of the
two nations on the North West coast of this continent. A similar proposal
had been made by His Imperial Majesty to the Government of Great Britain,
which has likewise been acceded to. The Government of the United States has
been desirous by this friendly proceeding of manifesting the great value
which they have invariably attached to the friendship of the Emperor and
their solicitude to cultivate the best understanding with his Government.
In the discussions to which this interest has given rise and in the
arrangements by which they may terminate the occasion has been judged
proper for asserting, as a principle in which the rights and interests of
the United States are involved, that the American continents, by the free
and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are
henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any
European powers.

Since the close of the last session of Congress the commissioners and
arbitrators for ascertaining and determining the amount of indemnification
which may be due to citizens of the United States under the decision of His
Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Russia, in conformity to the convention
concluded at St. Petersburg on July 12th, 1822, have assembled in this
city, and organized themselves as a board for the performance of the
duties assigned to them by that treaty. The commission constituted under
the 11th article of the treaty of February 22nd, 1819, between the United
States and Spain is also in session here, and as the term of three years
limited by the treaty for the execution of the trust will expire before
the period of the next regular meeting of Congress, the attention of the
Legislature will be drawn to the measures which may be necessary to
accomplish the objects for which the commission was instituted.

In compliance with a resolution of the House of Representatives adopted at
their last session, instructions have been given to all the ministers of
the United States accredited to the powers of Europe and America to propose
the proscription of the African slave trade by classing it under the
denomination, and inflicting on its perpetrators the punishment, of piracy.
Should this proposal be acceded to, it is not doubted that this odious and
criminal practice will be promptly and entirely suppressed. It is earnestly
hoped that it will be acceded to, from the firm belief that it is the most
effectual expedient that can be adopted for the purpose.

At the commencement of the recent war between France and Spain it was
declared by the French Government that it would grant no commissions to
privateers, and that neither the commerce of Spain herself nor of neutral
nations should be molested by the naval force of France, except in the
breach of a lawful blockade. This declaration, which appears to have been
faithfully carried into effect, concurring with principles proclaimed and
cherished by the United States from the first establishment of their
independence, suggested the hope that the time had arrived when the
proposal for adopting it as a permanent and invariable rule in all future
maritime wars might meet the favorable consideration of the great European
powers. Instructions have accordingly been given to our ministers with
France, Russia, and Great Britain to make those proposals to their
respective Governments, and when the friends of humanity reflect on the
essential amelioration to the condition of the human race which would
result from the abolition of private war on the sea and on the great
facility by which it might be accomplished, requiring only the consent of a
few sovereigns, an earnest hope is indulged that these overtures will meet
with an attention animated by the spirit in which they were made, and that
they will ultimately be successful.

The ministers who were appointed to the Republics of Colombia and Buenos
Ayres during the last session of Congress proceeded shortly afterwards to
their destinations. Of their arrival there official intelligence has not
yet been received. The minister appointed to the Republic of Chile will
sail in a few days. An early appointment will also be made to Mexico. A
minister has been received from Colombia, and the other Governments have
been informed that ministers, or diplomatic agents of inferior grade, would
be received from each, accordingly as they might prefer the one or the

The minister appointed to Spain proceeded soon after his appointment for
Cadiz, the residence of the Sovereign to whom he was accredited. In
approaching that port the frigate which conveyed him was warned off by the
commander of the French squadron by which it was blockaded and not
permitted to enter, although apprised by the captain of the frigate of the
public character of the person whom he had on board, the landing of whom
was the sole object of his proposed entry. This act, being considered an
infringement of the rights of ambassadors and of nations, will form a just
cause of complaint to the Government of France against the officer by whom
it was committed.

The actual condition of the public finances more than realizes the
favorable anticipations that were entertained of it at the opening of the
last session of Congress. On the first of January there was a balance in
the Treasury of $4,237,427.55. From that time to the 30th of September the
receipts amounted to upward of $16.1 millions, and the expenditures to
$11.4 millions. During the 4th quarter of the year it is estimated that
the receipts will at least equal the expenditures, and that there will
remain in the Treasury on the first day of January next a surplus of
nearly $9 millions.

On January 1st, 1825, a large amount of the war debt and a part of the
Revolutionary debt become redeemable. Additional portions of the former
will continue to become redeemable annually until the year 1835. it is
believed, however, that if the United States remain at peace the whole of
that debt may be redeemed by the ordinary revenue of those years during
that period under the provision of the act of March 3rd, 1817, creating the
sinking fund, and in that case the only part of the debt that will remain
after the year 1835 will be the $7 millions of 5% stock subscribed to the
Bank of the United States, and the 3% Revolutionary debt, amounting to
$13,296,099.06, both of which are redeemable at the pleasure of the

The state of the Army in its organization and discipline has been gradually
improving for several years, and has now attained a high degree of
perfection. The military disbursements have been regularly made and the
accounts regularly and promptly rendered for settlement. The supplies of
various descriptions have been of good quality, and regularly issued at all
of the posts. A system of economy and accountability has been introduced
into every branch of the service which admits of little additional
improvement. This desirable state has been attained by the act reorganizing
the staff of the Army, passed on April 14th, 1818.

The moneys appropriated for fortifications have been regularly and
economically applied, and all the works advanced as rapidly as the amount
appropriated would admit. Three important works will be completed in the
course of this year--that is, Fort Washington, Fort Delaware, and the
fort at the Rigolets, in Louisiana.

The Board of Engineers and the Topographical Corps have been in constant
and active service in surveying the coast and projecting the works
necessary for its defense.

The Military Academy has attained a degree of perfection in its discipline
and instruction equal, as is believed, to any institution of its kind in
any country.

The money appropriated for the use of the Ordnance Department has been
regularly and economically applied. The fabrication of arms at the national
armories and by contract with the Department has been gradually improving
in quality and cheapness. It is believed that their quality is now such as
to admit of but little improvement.

The completion of the fortifications renders it necessary that there should
be a suitable appropriation for the purpose of fabricating the cannon and
carriages necessary for those works.

Under the appropriation of $5,000 for exploring the Western waters for the
location of a site for a Western armory, a commission was constituted,
consisting of Colonel McRee, Colonel Lee, and Captain Talcott, who have
been engaged in exploring the country. They have not yet reported the
result of their labors, but it is believed that they will be prepared to do
it at an early part of the session of Congress.

During the month of June last General Ashley and his party, who were
trading under a license from the Government, were attacked by the Ricarees
while peaceably trading with the Indians at their request. Several of the
party were killed and wounded and their property taken or destroyed.

Colonel Leavenworth, who commanded Fort Atkinson, at the Council Bluffs,
the most western post, apprehending that the hostile spirit of the Ricarees
would extend to other tribes in that quarter, and that thereby the lives of
the traders on the Missouri and the peace of the frontier would be
endangered, took immediate measures to check the evil.

With a detachment of the regiment stationed at the Bluffs he successfully
attacked the Ricaree village, and it is hoped that such an impression has
been made on them as well as on the other tribes on the Missouri as will
prevent a recurrence of future hostility.

The report of the Secretary of War, which is herewith transmitted, will
exhibit in greater detail the condition of the Department in its various
branches, and the progress which has been made in its administration during
the three first quarters of the year.

I transmit a return of the militia of the several States according to the
last reports which have been made by the proper officers in each to the
Department of War. By reference to this return it will be seen that it is
not complete, although great exertions have been made to make it so. As the
defense and even the liberties of the country must depend in times of
imminent danger on the militia, it is of the highest importance that it be
well organized, armed, and disciplined throughout the Union.

The report of the Secretary of War shews the progress made during the three
first quarters of the present year by the application of the fund
appropriated for arming the militia. Much difficulty is found in
distributing the arms according to the act of Congress providing for it
from the failure of the proper departments in many of the States to make
regular returns. The act of May 12, 1820 provides that the system of
tactics and regulations of the various corps of the Regular Army shall be
extended to the militia. This act has been very imperfectly executed from
the want of uniformity in the organization of the militia, proceeding from
the defects of the system itself, and especially in its application to that
main arm of the public defense. It is thought that this important subject
in all its branches merits the attention of Congress.

The report of the Secretary of the Navy, which is now communicated,
furnishes an account of the administration of that Department for the three
first quarters of the present year, with the progress made in augmenting
the Navy, and the manner in which the vessels in commission have been

The usual force has been maintained in the Mediterranean Sea, the Pacific
Ocean, and along the Atlantic coast, and has afforded the necessary
protection to our commerce in those seas.

In the West Indies and the Gulf of Mexico our naval force has been
augmented by the addition of several small vessels provided for by the "act
authorizing an additional naval force for the suppression of piracy",
passed by Congress at their last session. That armament has been eminently
successful in the accomplishment of its object. The piracies by which our
commerce in the neighborhood of the island of Cuba had been afflicted have
been repressed and the confidence of our merchants in a great measure

The patriotic zeal and enterprise of Commodore Porter, to whom the command
of the expedition was confided, has been fully seconded by the officers and
men under his command. And in reflecting with high satisfaction on the
honorable manner in which they have sustained the reputation of their
country and its Navy, the sentiment is alloyed only by a concern that in
the fulfillment of that arduous service the diseases incident to the season
and to the climate in which it was discharged have deprived the nation of
many useful lives, and among them of several officers of great promise.

In the month of August a very malignant fever made its appearance at
Thompsons Island, which threatened the destruction of our station there.
Many perished, and the commanding officer was severely attacked. Uncertain
as to his fate and knowing that most of the medical officers had been
rendered incapable of discharging their duties, it was thought expedient to
send to that post an officer of rank and experience, with several skilled
surgeons, to ascertain the origin of the fever and the probability of its
recurrence there in future seasons; to furnish every assistance to those
who were suffering, and, if practicable, to avoid the necessity of
abandoning so important a station. Commodore Rodgers, with a promptitude
which did him honor, cheerfully accepted that trust, and has discharged it
in the manner anticipated from his skill and patriotism. Before his arrival
Commodore Porter, with the greater part of the squadron, had removed from
the island and returned to the United States in consequence of the
prevailing sickness. Much useful information has, however, been obtained as
to the state of the island and great relief afforded to those who had been
necessarily left there.

Although our expedition, cooperating with an invigorated administration of
the government of the island of Cuba, and with the corresponding active
exertions of a British naval force in the same seas, have almost entirely
destroyed the unlicensed piracies from that island, the success of our
exertions has not been equally effectual to suppress the same crime, under
other pretenses and colors, in the neighboring island of Porto Rico. They
have been committed there under the abusive issue of Spanish commissions.

At an early period of the present year remonstrances were made to the
governor of that island, by an agent who was sent for the purpose, against
those outrages on the peaceful commerce of the United States, of which many
had occurred. That officer, professing his own want of authority to make
satisfaction for our just complaints, answered only by a reference of them
to the Government of Spain. The minister of the United States to that court
was specially instructed to urge the necessity of immediate and effectual
interposition of that Government, directing restitution and indemnity for
wrongs already committed and interdicting the repetition of them. The
minister, as has been seen, was debarred access to the Spanish Government,
and in the mean time several new cases of flagrant outrage have occurred,
and citizens of the United States in the island of Porto Rico have
suffered, and others been threatened with assassination for asserting their
unquestionable rights even before the lawful tribunals of the country.

The usual orders have been given to all our public ships to seize American
vessels in the slave trade and bring them in for adjudication, and I have
the gratification to state that not one so employed has been discovered,
and there is good reason to believe that our flag is now seldom, if at all,
disgraced by that traffic.

It is a source of great satisfaction that we are always enabled to recur to
the conduct of our Navy with price and commendation. As a means of national
defense it enjoys the public confidence, and is steadily assuming
additional importance. It is submitted whether a more efficient and equally
economical organization of it might not in several respects be effected. It
is supposed that higher grades than now exist by law would be useful. They
would afford well-merited rewards to those who have long and faithfully
served their country, present the best incentives to good conduct, and the
best means of insuring a proper discipline; destroy the inequality in that
respect between military and naval services, and relieve our officers from
many inconveniences and mortifications which occur when our vessels meet
those of other nations, ours being the only service in which such grades do
not exist.

A report of the Post Master-General, which accompanies this communication,
will shew the present state of the Post-Office Department and its general
operations for some years past.

There is established by law 88,600 miles of post roads, on which the mail
is now transported 85,700 miles, and contracts have been made for its
transportation on all the established routes, with one or two exceptions.
There are 5,240 post offices in the Union, and as many post masters. The
gross amount of postage which accrued from July 1st, 1822 to July 1st,
1823 was $1,114,345.12. During the same period the expenditures of the
Post-Office Department amounted to $1,169,885.51 and consisted of the
following items, viz: Compensation to post masters, $353,995.98;
incidental expenses, $30,866.37; transportation of the mail, $784,600.08;
payments into the Treasury, $423.08. On the first of July last there was
due to the Department from post masters $135,245.28; from late post
masters and contractors, $256,749.31; making a total amount of balances
due to the Department of $391,994.59.

These balances embrace all delinquencies of post masters and contractors
which have taken place since the organization of the Department. There was
due by the Department to contractors on the first of July last $26,548.64.

The transportation of the mail within five years past has been greatly
extended, and the expenditures of the Department proportionably increased.
Although the postage which has accrued within the last three years has
fallen short of the expenditures $262,821.46, it appears that collections
have been made from the outstanding balances to meet the principal part of
the current demands.

It is estimated that not more than $250,000 of the above balances can be
collected, and that a considerable part of this sum can only be realized by
a resort to legal process. Some improvements in the receipts for postage is
expected. A prompt attention to the collection of moneys received by post
masters, it is believed, will enable the Department to continue its
operations without aid from the Treasury, unless the expenditures shall be
increased by the establishment of new mail routes.

A revision of some parts of the post office law may be necessary; and it is
submitted whether it would not be proper to provide for the appointment of
post masters, where the compensation exceeds a certain amount, by
nomination to the Senate, as other officers of the General Government are

Having communicated my views to Congress at the commencement of the last
session respecting the encouragement which ought to be given to our
manufactures and the principle on which it should be founded, I have only
to add that those views remain unchanged, and that the present state of
those countries with which we have the most immediate political relations
and greatest commercial intercourse tends to confirm them. Under this
impression I recommend a review of the tariff for the purpose of affording
such additional protection to those articles which we are prepared to
manufacture, or which are more immediately connected with the defense and
independence of the country.

The actual state of the public accounts furnishes additional evidence of
the efficiency of the present system of accountability in relation to the
public expenditure. Of the moneys drawn from the Treasury since
March 4th, 1817, the sum remaining unaccounted for on the 30th of September
last is more than $1.5 millions less than on the 30th of September
preceding; and during the same period a reduction of nearly $1 million
has been made in the amount of the unsettled accounts for moneys advanced
previously to March 4th, 1817. It will be obvious that in proportion as
the mass of accounts of the latter description is diminished by settlement
the difficulty of settling the residue is increased from the consideration
that in many instances it can be obtained only by legal process. For more
precise details on this subject I refer to a report from the first
Comptroller of the Treasury.

The sum which was appropriated at the last session for the repairs of the
Cumberland road has been applied with good effect to that object. A final
report has not been received from the agent who was appointed to
superintend it. As soon as it is received it shall be communicated to

Many patriotic and enlightened citizens who have made the subject an object
of particular investigation have suggested an improvement of still greater
importance. They are of the opinion that the waters of the Chesapeake and
Ohio may be connected together by one continued canal, and at an expense
far short of the value and importance of the object to be obtained. If this
could be accomplished it is impossible to calculate the beneficial
consequences which would result from it.

A great portion of the produce of the very fertile country through which it
would pass would find a market through that channel. Troops might be moved
with great facility in war, with cannon and every kind of munition, and in
either direction. Connecting the Atlantic with the Western country in a
line passing through the seat of the National Government, it would
contribute essentially to strengthen the bond of union itself.

Believing as I do that Congress possess the right to appropriate money for
such a national object (the jurisdiction remaining to the States through
which the canal would pass), I submit it to your consideration whether it
may not be advisable to authorize by an adequate appropriation the
employment of a suitable number of the officers of the Corps of Engineers
to examine the unexplored ground during the next season and to report their
opinion thereon. It will likewise be proper to extend their examination to
the several routes through which the waters of the Ohio may be connected by
canals with those of Lake Erie.

As the Cumberland road will require annual repairs, and Congress have not
thought it expedient to recommend to the States an amendment to the
Constitution for the purpose of vesting in the United States a power to
adopt and execute a system of internal improvement, it is also submitted to
your consideration whether it may not be expedient to authorize the
Executive to enter into an arrangement with the several States through
which the road passes to establish tolls, each within its limits, for the
purpose of defraying the expense of future repairs and of providing also by
suitable penalties for its protection against future injuries.

The act of Congress of May 7th, 1822, appropriated the sum of $22,700 for
the purpose of erecting two piers as a shelter for vessels from ice near
Cape Henlopen, Delaware Bay. To effect the object of the act the officers
of the Board of Engineers, with Commodore Bainbridge, were directed to
prepare plans and estimates of piers sufficient to answer the purpose
intended by the act. It appears by their report, which accompanies the
documents from the War Department, that the appropriation is not adequate
to the purpose intended; and as the piers would be of great service both to
the navigation of the Delaware Bay and the protection of vessels on the
adjacent parts of the coast, I submit for the consideration of Congress
whether additional and sufficient appropriations should not be made.

The Board of Engineers were also directed to examine and survey the
entrance of the harbor of the port of Presqu'isle, in Pennsylvania, in
order to make an estimate of the expense of removing the obstructions
to the entrance, with a plan of the best mode of effecting the same, under
the appropriation for that purpose by act of Congress passed 3rd of March
last. The report of the Board accompanies the papers from the War
Department, and is submitted for the consideration of Congress.

A strong hope has been long entertained, founded on the heroic struggle of
the Greeks, that they would succeed in their contest and resume their equal
station among the nations of the earth. It is believed that the whole
civilized world take a deep interest in their welfare. Although no power
has declared in their favor, yet none according to our information, has
taken part against them. Their cause and their name have protected them
from dangers which might ere this have overwhelmed any other people. The
ordinary calculations of interest and of acquisition with a view to
aggrandizement, which mingles so much in the transactions of nations, seem
to have had no effect in regard to them. From the facts which have come to
our knowledge there is good cause to believe that their enemy has lost
forever all dominion over them; that Greece will become again an
independent nation. That she may obtain that rank is the object of our most
ardent wishes.

It was stated at the commencement of the last session that a great effort
was then making in Spain and Portugal to improve the condition of the
people of those countries, and that it appeared to be conducted with
extraordinary moderation. It need scarcely be remarked that the result has
been so far very different from what was then anticipated. Of events in
that quarter of the globe, with which we have so much intercourse and from
which we derive our origin, we have always been anxious and interested

The citizens of the United States cherish sentiments the most friendly in
favor of the liberty and happiness of their fellow men on that side of the
Atlantic. In the wars of the European powers in matters relating to
themselves we have never taken any part, nor does it comport with our
policy so to do.

It is only when our rights are invaded or seriously menaced that we resent
injuries or make preparation for our defense. With the movements in this
hemisphere we are of necessity more immediately connected, and by causes
which must be obvious to all enlightened and impartial observers.

The political system of the allied powers is essentially different in this
respect from that of America. This difference proceeds from that which
exists in their respective Governments; and to the defense of our own,
which has been achieved by the loss of so much blood and treasure, and
matured by the wisdom of their most enlightened citizens, and under which
we have enjoyed unexampled felicity, this whole nation is devoted.

We owe it, therefore, to candor and to the amicable relations existing
between the United States and those powers to declare that we should
consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of
this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing
colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered and
shall not interfere, but with the Governments who have declared their
independence and maintained it, and whose independence we have, on great
consideration and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any
interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any
other manner their destiny, by any European power in any other light than
as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United

In the war between those new Governments and Spain we declared our
neutrality at the time of their recognition, and to this we have adhered,
and shall continue to adhere, provided no change shall occur which, in the
judgment of the competent authorities of this Government, shall make a
corresponding change on the part of the United States indispensable to
their security.

The late events in Spain and Portugal shew that Europe is still unsettled.
Of this important fact no stronger proof can be adduced than that the
allied powers should have thought it proper, on any principle satisfactory
to themselves, to have interposed by force in the internal concerns of
Spain. To what extent such interposition may be carried, on the same
principle, is a question in which all independent powers whose governments
differ from theirs are interested, even those most remote, and surely none
more so than the United States.

Our policy in regard to Europe, which was adopted at an early stage of the
wars which have so long agitated that quarter of the globe, nevertheless
remains the same, which is, not to interfere in the internal concerns of
any of its powers; to consider the government de facto as the legitimate
government for us; to cultivate friendly relations with it, and to preserve
those relations by a frank, firm, and manly policy, meeting in all
instances the just claims of every power, submitting to injuries from

But in regard to those continents circumstances are eminently and
conspicuously different. It is impossible that the allied powers should
extend their political system to any portion of either continent without
endangering our peace and happiness; nor can anyone believe that our
southern brethren, if left to themselves, would adopt it of their own
accord. It is equally impossible, therefore, that we should behold such
interposition in any form with indifference. If we look to the comparative
strength and resources of Spain and those new Governments, and their
distance from each other, it must be obvious that she can never subdue
them. It is still the true policy of the United States to leave the parties
to themselves, in the hope that other powers will pursue the same course.

If we compare the present condition of our Union with its actual state at
the close of our Revolution, the history of the world furnishes no example
of a progress in improvement in all the important circumstances which
constitute the happiness of a nation which bears any resemblance to it. At
the first epoch our population did not exceed 3,000,000. By the last census
it amounted to about 10,000,000, and, what is more extraordinary, it is
almost altogether native, for the immigration from other countries has been

At the first epoch half the territory within our acknowledged limits was
uninhabited and a wilderness. Since then new territory has been acquired of
vast extent, comprising within it many rivers, particularly the
Mississippi, the navigation of which to the ocean was of the highest
importance to the original States. Over this territory our population has
expanded in every direction, and new States have been established almost
equal in number to those which formed the first bond of our Union. This
expansion of our population and accession of new States to our Union have
had the happiest effect on all its highest interests.

That it has eminently augmented our resources and added to our strength and
respectability as a power is admitted by all, but it is not in these
important circumstances only that this happy effect is felt. It is manifest
that by enlarging the basis of our system and increasing the number of
States the system itself has been greatly strengthened in both its
branches. Consolidation and disunion have thereby been rendered equally

Each Government, confiding in its own strength, has less to apprehend from
the other, and in consequence each, enjoying a greater freedom of action,
is rendered more efficient for all the purposes for which it was

It is unnecessary to treat here of the vast improvement made in the system
itself by the adoption of this Constitution and of its happy effect in
elevating the character and in protecting the rights of the nation as well
as individuals. To what, then, do we owe these blessings? It is known to
all that we derive them from the excellence of our institutions. Ought we
not, then, to adopt every measure which may be necessary to perpetuate


State of the Union Address
James Monroe
December 7, 1824

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

The view which I have now to present to you of our affairs, foreign and
domestic, realizes the most sanguine anticipations which have been
entertained of the public prosperity. If we look to the whole, our growth
as a nation continues to be rapid beyond example; if to the States which
compose it, the same gratifying spectacle is exhibited. Our expansion over
the vast territory within our limits has been great, without indicating any
decline in those sections from which the emigration has been most
conspicuous. We have daily gained strength by a native population in every
quarter--a population devoted to our happy system of government and
cherishing the bond of union with internal affection.

Experience has already shewn that the difference of climate and of
industry, proceeding from that cause, inseparable from such vast domains,
and which under other systems might have a repulsive tendency, can not fail
to produce with us under wise regulations the opposite effect. What one
portion wants the other may supply; and this will be most sensibly felt by
the parts most distant from each other, forming thereby a domestic market
and an active intercourse between the extremes and throughout every portion
of our Union.

Thus by a happy distribution of power between the National and State
Governments, Governments which rest exclusively on the sovereignty of the
people and are fully adequate to the great purposes for which they were
respectively instituted, causes which might otherwise lead to dismemberment
operate powerfully to draw us closer together.

In every other circumstance a correct view of the actual state of our Union
must be equally gratifying to our constituents. Our relations with foreign
powers are of a friendly character, although certain interesting
differences remain unsettled with some. Our revenue under the mild system
of impost and tonnage continues to be adequate to all the purposes of the
Government. Our agriculture, commerce, manufactures, and navigation
flourish. Our fortifications are advancing in the degree authorized by
existing appropriations to maturity, and due progress is made in the
augmentation of the Navy to the limit prescribed for it by law. For these
blessings we owe to Almighty God, from whom we derive them, and with
profound reverence, our most grateful and unceasing acknowledgments.

In adverting to our relations with foreign powers, which are always an
object of the highest importance, I have to remark that of the subjects
which have been brought into discussion with them during the present
Administration some have been satisfactorily terminated, others have been
suspended, to be resumed hereafter under circumstances more favorable to
success, and others are still in negotiation, with the hope that they may
be adjusted with mutual accommodation to the interests and to the
satisfaction of the respective parties. It has been the invariable object
of this Government to cherish the most friendly relations with every power,
and on principles and conditions which might make them permanent. A
systematic effort has been made to place our commerce with each power on a
footing of perfect reciprocity, to settle with each in a spirit of candor
and liberality all existing differences, and to anticipate and remove so
far as it might be practicable all causes of future variance.

It having been stipulated by the 7th article of the convention of
navigation and commerce which was concluded on June 24th, 1822, between the
United States and France, that the said convention should continue in force
for two years from the first of October of that year, and for an indefinite
term afterwards, unless one of the parties should declare its intention to
renounce it, in which event it should cease to operate at the end of six
months from such declaration, and no such intention having been announced,
the convention having been found advantageous to both parties, it has since
remained, and still remains, in force.

At the time when that convention was concluded many interesting subjects
were left unsettled, and particularly our claim to indemnity for
spoliations which were committed on our commerce in the late wars. For
these interests and claims it was in the contemplation of the parties to
make provision at a subsequent day by a more comprehensive and definitive
treaty. The object has been duly attended to since by the Executive, but as
yet it has not been accomplished.

It is hoped that a favorable opportunity will present itself for opening a
negotiation which may embrace and arrange all existing differences and
every other concern in which they have a common interest upon the accession
of the present King of France, an event which has occurred since the close
of the last session of Congress.

With Great Britain our commercial intercourse rests on the same footing
that it did at the last session. By the convention of 1815, the commerce
between the United States and the British dominions in Europe and the East
Indies was arranged on a principle of reciprocity. That convention was
confirmed and continued in force, with slight exceptions, by a subsequent
treaty for the term of ten years from October 20th, 1818, the date of
the latter.

The trade with the British colonies in the West Indies has not as yet been
arranged, by treaty or otherwise, to our satisfaction. An approach to that
result has been made by legislative acts, whereby many serious impediments
which had been raised by the parties in defense of their respective claims
were removed. An earnest desire exists, and has been manifested on the part
of this Government, to place the commerce with the colonies, likewise, on a
footing of reciprocal advantage, and it is hoped that the British
Government, seeing the justice of the proposal and its importance to the
colonies, will ere long accede to it.

The commissioners who were appointed for the adjustment of the boundary
between the territories of the United States and those of Great Britain,
specified in the 5th article of the treaty of Ghent, having disagreed in
their decision, and both Governments having agreed to establish that
boundary by amicable negotiation between them, it is hoped that it may be
satisfactorily adjusted in that mode. The boundary specified by the 6th
article has been established by the decision of the commissioners. From the
progress made in that provided for by the 7th, according to a report
recently received, there is good cause to presume that it will be settled
in the course of the ensuing year.

It is a cause of serious regret that no arrangement has yet been finally
concluded between the two Governments to secure by joint cooperation the
suppression of the slave trade. It was the object of the British Government
in the early stages of the negotiation to adopt a plan for the suppression
which should include the concession of the mutual right of search by the
ships of war of each party of the vessels of the other for suspected
offenders. This was objected to by this Government on the principle that as
the right of search was a right of war of a belligerent toward a neutral
power it might have an ill effect to extend it by treaty, to an offense
which had been made comparatively mild, to a time of peace.

Anxious, however, for the suppression of this trade, it was thought
advisable, in compliance with a resolution of the House of Representatives,
founded on an act of Congress, to propose to the British Government an
expedient which should be free from that objection and more effectual for
the object, by making it piratical. In that mode the enormity of the crime
would place the offenders out of the protection of their Government, and
involve no question of search or other question between the parties
touching their respective rights. It was believed, also, that it would
completely suppress the trade in the vessels of both parties, and by their
respective citizens and subjects in those of other powers, with whom it was
hoped that the odium which would thereby be attached to it would produce a
corresponding arrangement, and by means thereof its entire extirpation

A convention to this effect was concluded and signed in London on
March 13th, 1824, by plenipotentiaries duly authorized by both
Governments, to the ratification of which certain obstacles have arisen
which are not yet entirely removed. The difference between the parties
still remaining has been reduced to a point not of sufficient magnitude,
as is presumed, to be permitted to defeat an object so near to the heart
of both nations and so desirable to the friends of humanity throughout
the world. As objections, however, to the principle recommended by the
House of Representatives, or at least to the consequences inseparable
from it, and which are understood to apply to the law, have been raised,
which may deserve a reconsideration of the whole subject, I have thought
it proper to suspend the conclusion of a new convention until the
definitive sentiments of Congress may be ascertained. The documents
relating to the negotiation are with that intent submitted to your

Our commerce with Sweden has been placed on a footing of perfect
reciprocity by treaty, and with Russia, the Netherlands, Prussia, the free
Hanseatic cities, the Dukedom of Oldenburg, and Sardinia by internal
regulations on each side, founded on mutual agreement between the
respective Governments.

The principles upon which the commercial policy of the United States is
founded are to be traced to an early period. They are essentially connected
with those upon which their independence was declared, and owe their origin
to the enlightened men who took the lead in our affairs at that important
epoch. They are developed in their first treaty of commerce with France of
February 6th, 1778, and by a formal commission which was instituted
Immediately after the conclusion of their Revolutionary struggle, for the
purpose of negotiating treaties of commerce with every European power. The
first treaty of the United States with Prussia, which was negotiated by
that commission, affords a signal illustration of those principles. The act
of Congress of March 3rd, 1815, adopted immediately after the return of a
general peace, was a new overture to foreign nations to establish our
commercial relations with them on the basis of free and equal reciprocity.
That principle has pervaded all the acts of Congress and all the
negotiations of the Executive on the subject.

A convention for the settlement of important questions in relation to the
North West coast of this continent and its adjoining seas was concluded and
signed at St. Petersburg on the 5th day of April last by the minister
plenipotentiary of the United States and plenipotentiaries of the Imperial
Government of Russia. It will immediately be laid before the Senate for the
exercise of the constitutional authority of that body with reference to its
ratification. It is proper to add that the manner in which this negotiation
was invited and conducted on the part of the Emperor has been very

The great and extraordinary changes which have happened in the Governments
of Spain and Portugal within the last two years, without seriously
affecting the friendly relations which under all of them have been
maintained with those powers by the United States, have been obstacles to
the adjustment of the particular subjects of discussion which have arisen
with each. A resolution of the Senate adopted at their last session called
for information as to the effect produced upon our relations with Spain by
the recognition on the part of the United States of the independent South
American Governments. The papers containing that information are now
communicated to Congress.

A charge d'affaires has been received from the independent Government of
Brazil. That country, heretofore a colonial possession of Portugal, had
some years since been proclaimed by the Sovereign of Portugal himself an
independent Kingdom. Since his return to Lisbon a revolution in Brazil has
established a new Government there with an imperial title, at the head of
which is placed a prince, in whom the regency had been vested by the King
at the time of his departure. There is reason to expect that by amicable
negotiation the independence of Brazil will ere long be recognized by
Portugal herself.

With the remaining powers of Europe, with those on the coast of Barbary,
and with all the new South American States our relations are of a friendly
character. We have ministers plenipotentiary residing with the Republics of
Colombia and Chile, and have received ministers of the same rank from
Columbia, Guatemala, Buenos Ayres, and Mexico. Our commercial relations
with all those States are mutually beneficial and increasing. With the
Republic of Colombia a treaty of commerce has been formed, of which a copy
is received and the original daily expected. A negotiation for a like
treaty would have been commenced with Buenos Ayres had it not been
prevented by the indisposition and lamented decease of Mr. Rodney, our
minister there, and to whose memory the most respectful attention has been
shewn by the Government of that Republic. An advantageous alteration in our
treaty with Tunis has been obtained by our consular agent residing there,
the official document of which when received will be laid before the

The attention of the Government has been drawn with great solicitude to
other subjects, and particularly to that relating to a state of maritime
war, involving the relative rights of neutral and belligerent in such wars.
Most of the difficulties which we have experienced and of the losses which
we have sustained since the establishment of our independence have
proceeded from the unsettled state of those rights and the extent to which
the belligerent claim has been carried against the neutral party.

It is impossible to look back on the occurrences of the late wars in
Europe, and to behold the disregard which was paid to our rights as a
neutral power, and the waste which was made of our commerce by the parties
to those wars by various acts of their respective Governments, and under
the pretext by each that the other had set the example, without great
mortification and a fixed purpose never to submit to the like in future. An
attempt to remove those causes of possible variance by friendly negotiation
and on just principles which should be applicable to all parties could, it
was presumed, be viewed by none other than as a proof of an earnest desire
to preserve those relations with every power.

In the late war between France and Spain a crisis occurred in which it
seemed probable that all controvertible principles involved in such wars
might be brought into discussion and settled to the satisfaction of all
parties. Propositions having this object in view have been made to the
Governments of Great Britain, France, Russia, and of other powers, which
have been received in a friendly manner by all, but as yet no treaty has
been formed with either for its accomplishment. The policy will, it is
presumed, be persevered in, and in the hope that it may be successful.

It will always be recollected that with one of the parties to those wars
and from whom we received those injuries, we sought redress by war. From
the other, by whose then reigning Government our vessels were seized in
port as well as at sea and their cargoes confiscated, indemnity has been
expected, but has not yet been rendered. It was under the influence of the
latter that our vessels were likewise seized by the Governments of Spain,
Holland, Denmark, Sweden, and Naples, and from whom indemnity has been
claimed and is still expected, with the exception of Spain, by whom it has
been rendered.

With both parties we had abundant cause of war, but we had no alternative
but to resist that which was most powerful at sea and pressed us nearest at
home. With this all differences were settled by a treaty, founded on
conditions fair and honorable to both, and which has been so far executed
with perfect good faith. It has been earnestly hoped that the other would
of its own accord, and from a sentiment of justice and conciliation, make
to our citizens the indemnity to which they are entitled, and thereby
remove from our relations any just cause of discontent on our side.

It is estimated that the receipts into the Treasury during the current
year, exclusive of loans, will exceed $18.5 millions, which, with the
sum remaining in the Treasury at the end of the last year, amounting
to $9,463,922.81 will, after discharging the current disbursements of
the year, the interest on the public debt, and upward of $11,633,011.52
of the principal, leave a balance of more than $3 millions in the Treasury
on the first day of January next.

A larger amount of the debt contracted during the late war, bearing an
interest of 6%, becoming redeemable in the course of the ensuing year than
could be discharged by the ordinary revenue, the act of the 26th of May
authorized a loan of $5 millions at 4.5% to meet the same. By this
arrangement an annual saving will accrue to the public of $75,000.

Under the act of the 24th of May last a loan of $5 millions was authorized,
In order to meet the awards under the Florida treaty, which was negotiated
at par with the Bank of the United States at 4.5%, the limit of interest
fixed by the act. By this provision the claims of our citizens who had
sustained so great a loss by spoliations, and from whom indemnity had been
so long withheld, were promptly paid. For these advances the public will
be amply repaid at no distant day by the sale of the lands in Florida. Of
the great advantages resulting from the acquisition of the Territory in
other respects too high an estimate can not be formed.

It is estimated that the receipts into the Treasury during the year 1825
will be sufficient to meet the disbursements of the year, including the
sum of $10 millions, which is annually appropriated by the act of
constituting the sinking fund to the payment of the principal and interest
of the public debt.

The whole amount of the public debt on the first of January next may be
estimated at $86 millions, inclusive of $2.5 millions of the loan
authorized by the act of the 26th of May last. In this estimate is
included a stock of $7 millions, issued for the purchase of that amount
of the capital stock of the Bank of the United States, and which, as the
stock of the bank still held by the Government will at least be fully
equal to its reimbursement, ought not to be considered as constituting
a part of the public debt.

Estimating, then, the whole amount of the public debt at $79 millions
and regarding the annual receipts and expenditures of the Government, a
well-founded hope may be entertained that, should no unexpected event
occur, the whole of the public debt may be discharged in the course of
ten years, and the Government be left at liberty thereafter to apply such
portion of the revenue as may not be necessary for current expenses to
such other objects as may be most conducive to the public security and
welfare. That the sums applicable to these objects will be very
considerable may be fairly concluded when it is recollected that a
large amount of the public revenue has been applied since the late
war to the construction of the public buildings in this city; to the
erection of fortifications along the coast and of arsenals in different
parts of the Union; to the augmentation of the Navy; to the extinguishment
of the Indian title to large tracts of fertile territory; to the
acquisition of Florida; to pensions to Revolutionary officers and
soldiers, and to invalids of the late war.

On many of these objects the expense will annually be diminished and cease
at no distant period on most of them.

On the 1st of January, 1817, the public debt amounted to $123,491,965.16,
and, notwithstanding the large sums which have been applied to these
objects, it has been reduced since that period $37,446,961.78. The last
portion of the public debt will be redeemable on January 1st, 1835, and,
while there is the best reason to believe that the resources of the
Government will be continually adequate to such portions of it as may
become due in the interval, it is recommended to Congress to seize every
opportunity which may present itself to reduce the rate of interest on
every part thereof. The high state of the public credit and the great
abundance of money are at this time very favorable to such a result. It
must be very gratifying to our fellow citizens to witness this flourishing
state of the public finances when it is recollected that no burthen
whatever has been imposed upon them.

The military establishment in all its branches, in the performance of the
various duties assigned to each, justifies the favorable view which was
presented of the efficiency of its organization at the last session. All
the appropriations have been regularly applied to the objects intended by
Congress, and so far as the disbursements have been made the accounts have
been rendered and settled without loss to the public.

The condition of the Army itself, as relates to the officers and men, in
science and discipline is highly respectable. The Military Academy, on
which the Army essentially rests, and to which it is much indebted for this
state of improvement, has attained, in comparison with any other
institution of a like kind, a high degree of perfection.

Experience, however, has shewn that the dispersed condition of the corps of
artillery is unfavorable to the discipline of that important branch of the
military establishment. To remedy this inconvenience, eleven companies have
been assembled at the fortification erected at Old Point Comfort as a
school for artillery instruction, with intention as they shall be perfected
in the various duties of that service to order them to other posts, and, to
supply their places with other companies for instruction in like manner. In
this mode a complete knowledge of the science and duties of this arm will
be extended throughout the whole corps of artillery. But to carry this
object fully into effect will require the aid of Congress, to obtain which
the subject is now submitted to your consideration.

Of the progress which has been made in the construction of fortifications
for the permanent defense of our maritime frontier, according to the plan
decided on and to the extent of the existing appropriations, the report of
the Secretary of War, which is herewith communicated, will give a detailed
account. Their final completion can not fail to give great additional
security to that frontier, and to diminish proportionably the expense of
defending it in the event of war.

The provisions in several acts of Congress of the last session for the
improvement of the navigation of the Mississippi and the Ohio, of the
harbor of Presqu'isle, on Lake Erie, and the repair of the Plymouth beach
are in a course of regular execution; and there is reason to believe that
the appropriation in each instance will be adequate to the object. To carry
these improvements fully into effect, the superintendence of them has been
assigned to officers of the Corps of Engineers.

Under the act of 30th April last, authorizing the President to cause a
survey to be made, with the necessary plans and estimates, of such roads
and canals as he might deem of national importance in a commercial or
military point of view, or for the transportation of the mail, a board has
been instituted, consisting of two distinguished officers of the Corps of
Engineers and a distinguished civil engineer, with assistants, who have
been actively employed in carrying into effect the object of the act. They
have carefully examined the route between the Potomac and the Ohio rivers;
between the latter and Lake Erie; between the Alleghany and the
Susquehannah; and the routes between the Delaware and the Raritan,
Barnstable and Buzzards Bay, and between Boston Harbor and Narraganset Bay.
Such portion of the Corps of Topographical Engineers as could be spared
from the survey of the coast has been employed in surveying the very
important route between the Potomac and the Ohio. Considerable progress has
been made in it, but the survey can not be completed until the next season.
It is gratifying to add, from the view already taken, that there is good
cause to believe that this great national object may be fully

It is contemplated to commence early in the next season the execution of
the other branch of the act--that which relates to roads--and with the
survey of a route from this city, through the Southern States, to New
Orleans, the importance of which can not be too highly estimated. All the
officers of both the corps of engineers who could be spared from other
services have been employed in exploring and surveying the routes for
canals. To digest a plan for both objects for the great purposes specified
will require a thorough knowledge of every part of our Union and of the
relation of each part to the others and of all to the seat of the General
Government. For such a digest it will be necessary that the information be
full, minute, and precise.

With a view to these important objects, I submit to the consideration of
the Congress the propriety of enlarging both the corps of engineers--the
military and topographical. It need scarcely be remarked that the more
extensively these corps are engaged in the improvement of their country, in
the execution of the powers of Congress, and in aid of the States in such
improvements as lie beyond that limit, when such aid is desired, the
happier the effect will be in many views of which the subject is
perceptible. By profiting of their science the works will always be well
executed, and by giving to the officers such employment our Union will
derive all the advantage, in peace as well as in war, from their talents
and services which they can afford. In this mode, also, the military will
be incorporated with the civil, and unfounded and injurious distinctions
and prejudices of every kind be done away. To the corps themselves this
service can not fail to be equally useful, since by the knowledge they
would thus acquire they would be eminently better qualified in the event of
war for the great purposes for which they were instituted.

Our relations with the Indian tribes within our limits have not been
materially changed during the year. The hostile disposition evinced by
certain tribes on the Missouri during the last year still continues, and
has extended in some degree to those on the Upper Mississippi and the Upper
Lakes. Several parties of our citizens have been plundered and murdered by
those tribes. In order to establish relations of friendship with them,
Congress at the last session made an appropriation for treaties with them
and for the employment of a suitable military escort to accompany and
attend the commissioners at the places appointed for the negotiations. This
object has not been effected. The season was too far advanced when the
appropriation was made and the distance too great to permit it, but
measures have been taken, and all the preparations will be completed to
accomplish it at an early period in the next season.

Believing that the hostility of the tribes, particularly on the Upper
Mississippi and the Lakes, is in no small degree owing to the wars which
are carried on between the tribes residing in that quarter, measures have
been taken to bring about a general peace among them, which, if successful,
will not only tend to the security of our citizens, but be of great
advantage to the Indians themselves.

With the exception of the tribes referred to, our relations with all the
others are on the same friendly footing, and it affords me great
satisfaction to add that they are making steady advances in civilization
and the improvement of their condition. Many of the tribes have already
made great progress in the arts of civilized life. This desirable result
has been brought about by the humane and persevering policy of the
Government, and particularly by means of the appropriation for the
civilization of the Indians. There have been established under the
provisions of this act 32 schools, containing 916 scholars, who are well
instructed in several branches of literature, and likewise in agriculture
and the ordinary arts of life.

Under the appropriation to authorize treaties with the Creeks and Quaupaw
Indians commissioners have been appointed and negotiations are now pending,
but the result is not yet known.

For more full information respecting the principle which has been adopted
for carrying into effect the act of Congress authorizing surveys, with
plans and estimates for canals and roads, and on every other branch of duty
incident to the Department of War, I refer you to the report of the

The squadron in the Mediterranean has been maintained in the extent which
was proposed in the report of the Secretary of the Navy of the last year,
and has afforded to our commerce the necessary protection in that sea.
Apprehending, however, that the unfriendly relations which have existed
between Algiers and some of the powers of Europe might be extended to us,
it has been thought expedient to augment the force there, and in
consequence the North Carolina, a ship of the line, has been prepared, and
will sail in a few days to join it.

The force employed in the Gulf of Mexico and in the neighboring seas for
the suppression of piracy has likewise been preserved essentially in the
state in which it was during the last year. A persevering effort has been
made for the accomplishment of that object, and much protection has thereby
been afforded to our commerce, but still the practice is far from being
suppressed. From every view which has been taken of the subject it is
thought that it will be necessary rather to augment than to diminish our
force in that quarter.

There is reason to believe that the piracies now complained of are
committed by bands of robbers who inhabit the land, and who, by preserving
good intelligence with the towns and seizing favorable opportunities, rush
forth and fall on unprotected merchant vessels, of which they make an easy
prey. The pillage thus taken they carry to their lurking places, and
dispose of afterwards at prices tending to seduce the neighboring

This combination is understood to be of great extent, and is the more to be
deprecated because the crime of piracy is often attended with the murder of
the crews, these robbers knowing if any survived their lurking places would
be exposed and they be caught and punished. That this atrocious practice
should be carried to such extent is cause of equal surprise and regret. It
is presumed that it must be attributed to the relaxed and feeble state of
the local governments, since it is not doubted, from the high character of
the governor of Cuba, who is well known and much respected here, that if he
had the power he would promptly suppress it. Whether those robbers should
be pursued on the land, the local authorities be made responsible for these
atrocities, or any other measure be resorted to to suppress them, is
submitted to the consideration of Congress.

In execution of the laws for the suppression of the slave trade a vessel
has been occasionally sent from that squadron to the coast of Africa with
orders to return thence by the usual track of the slave ships, and to seize
any of our vessels which might be engaged in that trade. None have been
found, and it is believed that none are thus employed. It is well known,
however, that the trade still exists under other flags.

The health of our squadron while at Thompsons Island has been much better
during the present than it was the last season. Some improvements have been
made and others are contemplated there which, it is believed, will have a
very salutary effect.

On the Pacific, our commerce has much increased, and on that coast, as well
as on that sea, the United States have many important interests which
require attention and protection. It is thought that all the considerations
which suggested the expediency of placing a squadron on that sea operate
with augmented force for maintaining it there, at least in equal extent.

For detailed information respecting the state of our maritime force on each
sea, the improvement necessary to be made on either in the organization of
the naval establishment generally, and of the laws for its better
government I refer you to the report of the Secretary of the Navy, which is
herewith communicated.

The revenue of the Post Office Department has received a considerable
augmentation in the present year. The current receipts will exceed the
expenditures, although the transportation of the mail within the year has
been much increased. A report of the Post Master General, which is
transmitted, will furnish in detail the necessary information respecting
the administration and present state of this Department.

In conformity with a resolution of Congress of the last session, an
invitation was given to General Lafayette to visit the United States, with
an assurance that a ship of war should attend at any port of France which
he might designate, to receive and convey him across the Atlantic, whenever
it might be convenient for him to sail. He declined the offer of the public
ship from motives of delicacy, but assured me that he had long intended and
would certainly visit our Union in the course of the present year.

In August last he arrived at New York, where he was received with the
warmth of affection and gratitude to which his very important and
disinterested services and sacrifices in our Revolutionary struggle so
eminently entitled him. A corresponding sentiment has since been manifested
in his favor throughout every portion of our Union, and affectionate
invitations have been given him to extend his visits to them. To these he
has yielded all the accommodation in his power. At every designated point
of rendezvous the whole population of the neighboring country has been
assembled to greet him, among whom it has excited in a peculiar manner the
sensibility of all to behold the surviving members of our Revolutionary
contest, civil and military, who had shared with him in the toils and
dangers of the war, many of them in a decrepit state. A more interesting
spectacle, it is believed, was never witnessed, because none could be
founded on purer principles, none proceed from higher or more disinterested
motives. That the feelings of those who had fought and bled with him in a
common cause should have been much excited was natural.

There are, however, circumstances attending these interviews which pervaded
the whole community and touched the breasts of every age, even the youngest
among us. There was not an individual present who had not some relative who
had not partaken in those scenes, nor an infant who had not heard the
relation of them. But the circumstance which was most sensibly felt, and
which his presence brought forcibly to the recollection of all, was the
great cause in which we were engaged and the blessings which we have
derived from our success in it.

The struggle was for independence and liberty, public and personal, and in
this we succeeded. The meeting with one who had borne so distinguished a
part in that great struggle, and from such lofty and disinterested motives,
could not fail to affect profoundly every individual and of every age. It
is natural that we should all take a deep interest in his future welfare,
as we do. His high claims on our Union are felt, and the sentiment
universal that they should be met in a generous spirit. Under these
impressions I invite your attention to the subject, with a view that,
regarding his very important services, losses, and sacrifices, a provision
may be made and tendered to him which shall correspond with the sentiments
and be worthy the character of the American people.

In turning our attention to the condition of the civilized world, in which
the United States have always taken a deep interest, it is gratifying to
see how large a portion of it is blessed with peace. The only wars which
now exist within that limit are those between Turkey and Greece, in Europe,
and between Spain and the new Governments, our neighbors, in this
hemisphere. In both these wars the cause of independence, of liberty and
humanity, continues to prevail.

The success of Greece, when the relative population of the contending
parties is considered, commands our admiration and applause, and that it
has had a similar effect with the neighboring powers is obvious. The
feeling of the whole civilized world is excited in a high degree in their
favor. May we not hope that these sentiments, winning on the hearts of
their respective Governments, may lead to a more decisive result; that they
may produce an accord among them to replace Greece on the ground which she
formerly held, and to which her heroic exertions at this day so eminently
entitle her?

With respect to the contest to which our neighbors are a party, it is
evident that Spain as a power is scarcely felt in it. These new States had
completely achieved their independence before it was acknowledged by the
United States, and they have since maintained it with little foreign
pressure. The disturbances which have appeared in certain portions of that
vast territory have proceeded from internal causes, which had their origin
in their former Governments and have not yet been thoroughly removed.

It is manifest that these causes are daily losing their effect, and that
these new States are settling down under Governments elective and
representative in every branch, similar to our own. In this course we
ardently wish them to persevere, under a firm conviction that it will
promote their happiness. In this, their career, however, we have not
interfered, believing that every people have a right to institute for
themselves the government which, in their judgment, may suit them best.

Our example is before them, of the good effect of which, being our
neighbors, they are competent judges, and to their judgment we leave it, in
the expectation that other powers will pursue the same policy. The deep
interest which we take in their independence, which we have acknowledged,
and in their enjoyment of all the rights incident thereto, especially in
the very important one of instituting their own Governments, has been
declared, and is known to the world.

Separated as we are from Europe by the great Atlantic Ocean, we can have no
concern in the wars of the European Governments nor in the causes which
produce them. The balance of power between them, into whichever scale it
may turn in its various vibrations, can not affect us. It is the interest
of the United States to preserve the most friendly relations with every
power and on conditions fair, equal, and applicable to all.

But in regard to our neighbors our situation is different. It is impossible
for the European Governments to interfere in their concerns, especially in
those alluded to, which are vital, without affecting us; indeed, the motive
which might induce such interference in the present state of the war
between the parties, if a war it may be called, would appear to be equally
applicable to us. It is gratifying to know that some of the powers with
whom we enjoy a very friendly intercourse, and to whom these views have
been communicated, have appeared to acquiesce in them.

The augmentation of our population with the expansion of our Union and
increased number of States have produced effects in certain branches of our
system which merit the attention of Congress. Some of our arrangements, and
particularly the judiciary establishment, were made with a view to the
original thirteen States only. Since then the United States have acquired
a vast extent of territory; eleven new States have been admitted into the
Union, and Territories have been laid off for three others, which will
likewise be admitted at no distant day.

An organization of the Supreme Court which assigns the judges any portion
of the duties which belong to the inferior, requiring their passage over so
vast a space under any distribution of the States that may now be made, if
not impracticable in the execution, must render it impossible for them to
discharge the duties of either branch with advantage to the Union. The
duties of the Supreme Court would be of great importance if its decisions
were confined to the ordinary limits of other tribunals, but when it is
considered that this court decides, and in the last resort, on all the
great questions which arise under our Constitution, involving those between
the United States individually, between the States and the United States,
and between the latter and foreign powers, too high an estimate of their
importance can not be formed. The great interests of the nation seem to
require that the judges of the Supreme Court should be exempted from every
other duty than those which are incident to that high trust. The
organization of the inferior courts would of course be adapted to
circumstances. It is presumed that such an one might be formed as would
secure an able and faithful discharge of their duties, and without any
material augmentation of expense.

The condition of the aborigines within our limits, and especially those who
are within the limits of any of the States, merits likewise particular
attention. Experience has shown that unless the tribes be civilized they
can never be incorporated into our system in any form whatever. It has
likewise shown that in the regular augmentation of our population with the
extension of our settlements their situation will become deplorable, if
their extinction is not menaced.

Some well-digested plan which will rescue them from such calamities is due
to their rights, to the rights of humanity, and to the honor of the nation.
Their civilization is indispensable to their safety, and this can be
accomplished only by degrees. The process must commence with the infant
state, through whom some effect may be wrought on the parental.
Difficulties of the most serious character present themselves to the
attainment of this very desirable result on the territory on which they now
reside. To remove them from it by force, even with a view to their own
security and happiness, would be revolting to humanity and utterly
unjustifiable. Between the limits of our present States and Territories and
the Rocky Mountains and Mexico there is a vast territory to which they
might be invited with inducements which might be successful. It is thought
if that territory should be divided into districts by previous agreement
with the tribes now residing there and civil governments be established in
each, with schools for every branch of instruction in literature and the
arts of civilized life, that all the tribes now within our limits might
gradually be drawn there. The execution of this plan would necessarily be
attended with expense, and that not inconsiderable, but it is doubted
whether any other can be devised which would be less liable to that
objection or more likely to succeed.

In looking to the interests which the United States have on the Pacific
Ocean and on the western coast of this continent, the propriety of
establishing a military post at the mouth of the Columbia River, or at some
other point in that quarter within our acknowledged limits, is submitted to
the consideration of Congress. Our commerce and fisheries on that sea and
along the coast have much increased and are increasing. It is thought that
a military post, to which our ships of war might resort, would afford
protection to every interest, and have a tendency to conciliate the tribes
to the North West, with whom our trade is extensive. It is thought also
that by the establishment of such a post the intercourse between our
Western States and Territories and the Pacific and our trade with the
tribes residing in the interior on each side of the Rocky Mountains would
be essentially promoted. To carry this object into effect the appropriation
of an adequate sum to authorize the employment of a frigate, with an
officer of the Corps of Engineers, to explore the mouth of the Columbia
River and the coast contiguous thereto, to enable the Executive to make
such establishment at the most suitable point, is recommended to Congress.

It is thought that attention is also due to the improvement of this city.
The communication between the public buildings and in various other parts
and the grounds around those buildings require it. It is presumed also that
the completion of the canal from the Tiber to the Eastern Branch would have
a very salutary effect. Great exertions have been made and expenses
incurred by the citizens in improvements of various kinds; but those which
are suggested belong exclusively to the Government, or are of a nature to
require expenditures beyond their resources. The public lots which are
still for sale would, it is not doubted, be more than adequate for these

From the view above presented it is manifest that the situation of the
United States is in the highest degree prosperous and happy. There is no
object which as a people we can desire which we do not possess or which is
not within our reach. Blessed with governments the happiest which the world
ever knew, with no distinct orders in society or divided interests in any
portion of the vast territory over which their dominion extends, we have
every motive to cling together which can animate a virtuous and enlightened
people. The great object is to preserve these blessings, and to hand them
down to the latest posterity.

Our experience ought to satisfy us that our progress under the most correct
and provident policy will not be exempt from danger. Our institutions form
an important epoch in the history of the civilized world. On their
preservation and in their utmost purity everything will depend. Extending
as our interests do to every part of the inhabited globe and to every sea
to which our citizens are carried by their industry and enterprise, to
which they are invited by the wants of others, and have a right to go, we
must either protect them in the enjoyment of their rights or abandon them
in certain events to waste and desolation.

Our attitude is highly interesting as relates to other powers, and
particularly to our southern neighbors. We have duties to perform with
regard to all to which we must be faithful. To every kind of danger we
should pay the most vigilant and unceasing attention, remove the cause
where it may be practicable, and be prepared to meet it when inevitable.

Against foreign danger the policy of the Government seems to be already
settled. The events of the late war admonished us to make our maritime
frontier impregnable by a well-digested chain of fortifications, and to
give efficient protection to our commerce by augmenting our Navy to a
certain extent, which has been steadily pursued, and which it is incumbent
upon us to complete as soon as circumstances will permit. In the event of
war it is on the maritime frontier that we shall be assailed. It is in that
quarter, therefore, that we should be prepared to meet the attack. It is
there that our whole force will be called into action to prevent the
destruction of our towns and the desolation and pillage of the interior.

To give full effect to this policy great improvements will be
indispensable. Access to those works by every practicable communication
should be made easy and in every direction. The intercourse between every
part of our Union should also be promoted and facilitated by the exercise
of those powers which may comport with a faithful regard to the great
principles of our Constitution. With respect to internal causes, those
great principles point out with equal certainty the policy to be pursued.

Resting on the people as our Governments do, State and National, with
well-defined powers, it is of the highest importance that they severally
keep within the limits prescribed to them. Fulfilling that sacred duty, it
is of equal importance that the movement between them be harmonious, and in
case of any disagreement, should any such occur, a calm appeal be made to
the people, and that their voice be heard and promptly obeyed. Both
Governments being instituted for the common good, we can not fail to
prosper while those who made them are attentive to the conduct of their
representatives and control their measures. In the pursuit of these great
objects let a generous spirit and national views and feelings be indulged,
and let every part recollect that by cherishing that spirit and improving
the condition of the others in what relates to their welfare the general
interest will not only be promoted, but the local advantage be reciprocated
by all.

I can not conclude this communication, the last of the kind which I shall
have to make, without recollecting with great sensibility and heart felt
gratitude the many instances of the public confidence and the generous
support which I have received from my fellow citizens in the various trusts
with which I have been honored. Having commenced my service in early youth,
and continued it since with few and short intervals, I have witnessed the
great difficulties to which our Union has been surmounted. From the present
prosperous and happy state I derive a gratification which I can not
express. That these blessings may be preserved and perpetuated will be the
object of my fervent and unceasing prayers to the Supreme Ruler of the

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

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