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´╗┐Title: State of the Union Addresses
Author: Johnson, Andrew
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 Andrew Johnson

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Dates of addresses by Andrew Johnson in this eBook:

   December 4, 1865
   December 3, 1866
   December 3, 1867
   December 9, 1868


State of the Union Address
Andrew Johnson
December 4, 1865

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

To express gratitude to God in the name of the people for the
preservation of the United States is my first duty in addressing you.
Our thoughts next revert to the death of the late President by an act
of parricidal treason. The grief of the nation is still fresh. It finds
some solace in the consideration that he lived to enjoy the highest
proof of its confidence by entering on the renewed term of the Chief
Magistracy to which he had been elected; that he brought the civil war
substantially to a close; that his loss was deplored in all parts of
the Union, and that foreign nations have rendered justice to his
memory. His removal cast upon me a heavier weight of cares than ever
devolved upon any one of his predecessors. To fulfill my trust I need
the support and confidence of all who are associated with me in the
various departments of Government and the support and confidence of the
people. There is but one way in which I can hope to gain their
necessary aid. It is to state with frankness the principles which guide
my conduct, and their application to the present state of affairs, well
aware that the efficiency of my labors will in a great measure depend
on your and their undivided approbation.

The Union of the United States of America was intended by its authors
to last as long as the States themselves shall last. "The Union shall
be perpetual" are the words of the Confederation. "To form a more
perfect Union," by an ordinance of the people of the United States, is
the declared purpose of the Constitution. The hand of Divine Providence
was never more plainly visible in the affairs of men than in the
framing and the adopting of that instrument. It is beyond comparison
the greatest event in American history, and, indeed, is it not of all
events in modern times the most pregnant with consequences for every
people of the earth? The members of the Convention which prepared it
brought to their work the experience of the Confederation, of their
several States, and of other republican governments, old and new; but
they needed and they obtained a wisdom superior to experience. And when
for its validity it required the approval of a people that occupied a
large part of a continent and acted separately in many distinct
conventions, what is more wonderful than that, after earnest contention
and long discussion, all feelings and all opinions were ultimately
drawn in one way to its support? The Constitution to which life was
thus imparted contains within itself ample resources for its own
preservation. It has power to enforce the laws, punish treason, and
insure domestic tranquillity. In case of the usurpation of the
government of a State by one man or an oligarchy, it becomes a duty of
the United States to make good the guaranty to that State of a
republican form of government, and so to maintain the homogeneousness
of all. Does the lapse of time reveal defects? A simple mode of
amendment is provided in the Constitution itself, so that its
conditions can always be made to conform to the requirements of
advancing civilization. No room is allowed even for the thought of a
possibility of its coming to an end. And these powers of
self-preservation have always been asserted in their complete integrity
by every patriotic Chief Magistrate by Jefferson and Jackson not less
than by Washington and Madison. The parting advice of the Father of his
Country, while yet President, to the people of the United States was
that the free Constitution, which was the work of their hands, might be
sacredly maintained; and the inaugural words of President Jefferson
held up "the preservation of the General Government in its whole
constitutional vigor as the sheet anchor of our peace at home and
safety abroad." The Constitution is the work of "the people of the
United States," and it should be as indestructible as the people.

It is not strange that the framers of the Constitution, which had no
model in the past, should not have fully comprehended the excellence of
their own work. Fresh from a struggle against arbitrary power, many
patriots suffered from harassing fears of an absorption of the State
governments by the General Government, and many from a dread that the
States would break away from their orbits. But the very greatness of
our country should allay the apprehension of encroachments by the
General Government. The subjects that come unquestionably within its
jurisdiction are so numerous that it must ever naturally refuse to be
embarrassed by questions that lie beyond it. Were it otherwise the
Executive would sink beneath the burden, the channels of justice would
be choked, legislation would be obstructed by excess, so that there is
a greater temptation to exercise some of the functions of the General
Government through the States than to trespass on their rightful
sphere. The "absolute acquiescence in the decisions of the majority"
was at the beginning of the century enforced by Jefferson as "the vital
principle of republics;" and the events of the last four years have
established, we will hope forever, that there lies no appeal to force.

The maintenance of the Union brings with it "the support of the State
governments in all their rights," but it is not one of the rights of
any State government to renounce its own place in the Union or to
nullify the laws of the Union. The largest liberty is to be maintained
in the discussion of the acts of the Federal Government, but there is
no appeal from its laws except to the various branches of that
Government itself, or to the people, who grant to the members of the
legislative and of the executive departments no tenure but a limited
one, and in that manner always retain the powers of redress.

"The sovereignty of the States" is the language of the Confederacy, and
not the language of the Constitution. The latter contains the emphatic
words--This Constitution and the laws of the United States which shall
be made in pursuance thereof, and all treaties made or which shall be
made under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law
of the land, and the judges in every State shall be bound thereby,
anything in the constitution or laws of any State to the contrary
notwithstanding. Certainly the Government of the United States is a
limited government, and so is every State government a limited
government. With us this idea of limitation spreads through every form
of administration--general, State, and municipal--and rests on the
great distinguishing principle of the recognition of the rights of man.
The ancient republics absorbed the individual in the state--prescribed
his religion and controlled his activity. The American system rests on
the assertion of the equal right of every man to life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness, to freedom of conscience, to the culture and
exercise of all his faculties. As a consequence the State government is
limited--as to the General Government in the interest of union, as to
the individual citizen in the interest of freedom.

States, with proper limitations of power, are essential to the
existence of the Constitution of the United States. At the very
commencement, when we assumed a place among the powers of the earth,
the Declaration of Independence was adopted by States; so also were the
Articles of Confederation: and when "the people of the United States"
ordained and established the Constitution it was the assent of the
States, one by one, which gave it vitality. In the event, too, of any
amendment to the Constitution, the proposition of Congress needs the
confirmation of States. Without States one great branch of the
legislative government would be wanting. And if we look beyond the
letter of the Constitution to the character of our country, its
capacity for comprehending within its jurisdiction a vast continental
empire is due to the system of States. The best security for the
perpetual existence of the States is the "supreme authority" of the
Constitution of the United States. The perpetuity of the Constitution
brings with it the perpetuity of the States; their mutual relation
makes us what we are, and in our political system their connection is
indissoluble. The whole can not exist without the parts, nor the parts
without the whole. So long as the Constitution of the United States
endures, the States will endure. The destruction of the one is the
destruction of the other; the preservation of the one is the
preservation of the other.

I have thus explained my views of the mutual relations of the
Constitution and the States, because they unfold the principles on
which I have sought to solve the momentous questions and overcome the
appalling difficulties that met me at the very commencement of my
Administration. It has been my steadfast object to escape from the sway
of momentary passions and to derive a healing policy from the
fundamental and unchanging principles of the Constitution.

I found the States suffering from the effects of a civil war.
Resistance to the General Government appeared to have exhausted itself.
The United States had recovered possession of their forts and arsenals,
and their armies were in the occupation of every State which had
attempted to secede. Whether the territory within the limits of those
States should be held as conquered territory, under military authority
emanating from the President as the head of the Army, was the first
question that presented itself for decision.

Now military governments, established for an indefinite period, would
have offered no security for the early suppression of discontent, would
have divided the people into the vanquishers and the vanquished, and
would have envenomed hatred rather than have restored affection. Once
established, no precise limit to their continuance was conceivable.
They would have occasioned an incalculable and exhausting expense.
Peaceful emigration to and from that portion of the country is one of
the best means that can be thought of for the restoration of harmony,
and that emigration would have been prevented; for what emigrant from
abroad, what industrious citizen at home, would place himself willingly
under military rule? The chief persons who would have followed in the
train of the Army would have been dependents on the General Government
or men who expected profit from the miseries of their erring
fellow-citizens. The powers of patronage and rule which would have been
exercised under the President, over a vast and populous and naturally
wealthy region are greater than, unless under extreme necessity, I
should be willing to intrust to any one man. They are such as, for
myself, I could never, unless on occasions of great emergency, consent
to exercise. The willful use of such powers, if continued through a
period of years, would have endangered the purity of the general
administration and the liberties of the States which remained loyal.

Besides, the policy of military rule over a conquered territory would
have implied that the States whose inhabitants may have taken part in
the rebellion had by the act of those inhabitants ceased to exist. But
the true theory is that all pretended acts of secession were from the
beginning null and void. The States can not commit treason nor screen
the individual citizens who may have committed treason any more than
they can make valid treaties or engage in lawful commerce with any
foreign power. The States attempting to secede placed themselves in a
condition where their vitality was impaired, but not extinguished;
their functions suspended, but not destroyed.

But if any State neglects or refuses to perform its offices there is
the more need that the General Government should maintain all its
authority and as soon as practicable resume the exercise of all its
functions. On this principle I have acted, and have gradually and
quietly, and by almost imperceptible steps, sought to restore the
rightful energy of the General Government and of the States. To that
end provisional governors have been appointed for the States,
conventions called, governors elected, legislatures assembled, and
Senators and Representatives chosen to the Congress of the United
States. At the same time the courts of the United States, as far as
could be done, have been reopened, so that the laws of the United
States may be enforced through their agency. The blockade has been
removed and the custom-houses reestablished in ports of entry, so that
the revenue of the United States may be collected. The Post-Office
Department renews its ceaseless activity, and the General Government is
thereby enabled to communicate promptly with its officers and agents.
The courts bring security to persons and property; the opening of the
ports invites the restoration of industry and commerce; the post-office
renews the facilities of social intercourse and of business. And is it
not happy for us all that the restoration of each one of these
functions of the General Government brings with it a blessing to the
States over which they are extended? Is it not a sure promise of
harmony and renewed attachment to the Union that after all that has
happened the return of the General Government is known only as a

I know very well that this policy is attended with some risk; that for
its success it requires at least the acquiescence of the States which
it concerns; that it implies an invitation to those States, by renewing
their allegiance to the United States, to resume their functions as
States of the Union. But it is a risk that must be taken. In the choice
of difficulties it is the smallest risk; and to diminish and if
possible to remove all danger, I have felt it incumbent on me to assert
one other power of the General Government--the power of pardon. As no
State can throw a defense over the crime of treason, the power of
pardon is exclusively vested in the executive government of the United
States. In exercising that power I have taken every precaution to
connect it with the clearest recognition of the binding force of the
laws of the United States and an unqualified acknowledgment of the
great social change of condition in regard to slavery which has grown
out of the war.

The next step which I have taken to restore the constitutional
relations of the States has been an invitation to them to participate
in the high office of amending the Constitution. Every patriot must
wish for a general amnesty at the earliest epoch consistent with public
safety. For this great end there is need of a concurrence of all
opinions and the spirit of mutual conciliation. All parties in the late
terrible conflict must work together in harmony. It is not too much to
ask, in the name of the whole people, that on the one side the plan of
restoration shall proceed in conformity with a willingness to cast the
disorders of the past into oblivion, and that on the other the evidence
of sincerity in the future maintenance of the Union shall be put beyond
any doubt by the ratification of the proposed amendment to the
Constitution, which provides for the abolition of slavery forever
within the limits of our country. So long as the adoption of this
amendment is delayed, so long will doubt and jealousy and uncertainty
prevail. This is the measure which will efface the sad memory of the
past; this is the measure which will most certainly call population and
capital and security to those parts of the Union that need them most.
Indeed, it is not too much to ask of the States which are now resuming
their places in the family of the Union to give this pledge of
perpetual loyalty and peace. Until it is done the past, however much we
may desire it, will not be forgotten, The adoption of the amendment
reunites us beyond all power of disruption; it heals the wound that is
still imperfectly closed: it removes slavery, the element which has so
long perplexed and divided the country; it makes of us once more a
united people, renewed and strengthened, bound more than ever to mutual
affection and support.

The amendment to the Constitution being adopted, it would remain for
the States whose powers have been so long in abeyance to resume their
places in the two branches of the National Legislature, and thereby
complete the work of restoration. Here it is for you, fellow-citizens
of the Senate, and for you, fellow-citizens of the House of
Representatives, to judge, each of you for yourselves, of the
elections, returns, and qualifications of your own members.

The full assertion of the powers of the General Government requires the
holding of circuit courts of the United States within the districts
where their authority has been interrupted. In the present posture of
our public affairs strong objections have been urged to holding those
courts in any of the States where the rebellion has existed; and it was
ascertained by inquiry, that the circuit court of the United States
would not be held within the district of Virginia during the autumn or
early winter, nor until Congress should have "an opportunity to
consider and act on the whole subject." To your deliberations the
restoration of this branch of the civil authority of the United States
is therefore necessarily referred, with the hope that early provision
will be made for the resumption of all its functions. It is manifest
that treason, most flagrant in character, has been committed. Persons
who are charged with its commission should have fair and impartial
trials in the highest civil tribunals of the country, in order that the
Constitution and the laws may be fully vindicated, the truth dearly
established and affirmed that treason is a crime, that traitors should
be punished and the offense made infamous, and, at the same time, that
the question may be judicially settled, finally and forever, that no
State of its own will has the right to renounce its place in the Union.

The relations of the General Government toward the 4,000,000
inhabitants whom the war has called into freedom have engaged my most
serious consideration. On the propriety of attempting to make the
freedmen electors by the proclamation of the Executive I took for my
counsel the Constitution itself, the interpretations of that instrument
by its authors and their contemporaries, and recent legislation by
Congress. When, at the first movement toward independence, the Congress
of the United States instructed the several States to institute
governments of their own, they left each State to decide for itself the
conditions for the enjoyment of the elective franchise. During the
period of the Confederacy there continued to exist a very great
diversity in the qualifications of electors in the several States, and
even within a State a distinction of qualifications prevailed with
regard to the officers who were to be chosen. The Constitution of the
United States recognizes these diversities when it enjoins that in the
choice of members of the House of Representatives of the United States
"the electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for
electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislature." After
the formation of the Constitution it remained, as before, the uniform
usage for each State to enlarge the body of its electors according to
its own judgment, and under this system one State after another has
proceeded to increase the number of its electors, until now universal
suffrage, or something very near it, is the general rule. So fixed was
this reservation of power in the habits of the people and so
unquestioned has been the interpretation of the Constitution that
during the civil war the late President never harbored the
purpose--certainly never avowed the purpose--of disregarding it; and in
the acts of Congress during that period nothing can be found which,
during the continuance of hostilities much less after their close,
would have sanctioned any departure by the Executive from a policy
which has so uniformly obtained. Moreover, a concession of the elective
franchise to the freedmen by act of the President of the United States
must have been extended to all colored men, wherever found, and so must
have established a change of suffrage in the Northern, Middle, and
Western States, not less than in the Southern and Southwestern. Such an
act would have created a new class of voters, and would have been an
assumption of power by the President which nothing in the Constitution
or laws of the United States would have warranted.

On the other hand, every danger of conflict is avoided when the
settlement of the question is referred to the several States. They can,
each for itself, decide on the measure, and whether it is to be adopted
at once and absolutely or introduced gradually and with conditions. In
my judgment the freedmen, if they show patience and manly virtues, will
sooner obtain a participation in the elective franchise through the
States than through the General Government, even if it had power to
intervene. When the tumult of emotions that have been raised by the
suddenness of the social change shall have subsided, it may prove that
they will receive the kindest usage from some of those on whom they
have heretofore most closely depended.

But while I have no doubt that now, after the close of the war, it is
not competent for the General Government to extend the elective
franchise in the several States, it is equally clear that good faith
requires the security of the freedmen in their liberty and their
property, their right to labor, and their right to claim the just
return of their labor. I can not too strongly urge a dispassionate
treatment of this subject, which should be carefully kept aloof from
all party strife. We must equally avoid hasty assumptions of any
natural impossibility for the two races to live side by side in a state
of mutual benefit and good will. The experiment involves us in no
inconsistency; let us, then, go on and make that experiment in good
faith, and not be too easily disheartened. The country is in need of
labor, and the freedmen are in need of employment, culture, and
protection. While their right of voluntary migration and expatriation
is not to be questioned, I would not advise their forced removal and
colonization. Let us rather encourage them to honorable and useful
industry, where it may be beneficial to themselves and to the country;
and, instead of hasty anticipations of the certainty of failure, let
there be nothing wanting to the fair trial of the experiment. The
change in their condition is the substitution of labor by contract for
the status of slavery. The freedman can not fairly be accused of
unwillingness to work so long as a doubt remains about his freedom of
choice in his pursuits and the certainty of his recovering his
stipulated wages. In this the interests of the employer and the
employed coincide. The employer desires in his workmen spirit and
alacrity, and these can be permanently secured in no other way. And if
the one ought to be able to enforce the contract, so ought the other.
The public interest will be best promoted if the several States will
provide adequate protection and remedies for the freedmen. Until this
is in some way accomplished there is no chance for the advantageous use
of their labor, and the blame of ill success will not rest on them.

I know that sincere philanthropy is earnest for the immediate
realization of its remotest aims; but time is always an element in
reform. It is one of the greatest acts on record to have brought
4,000,000 people into freedom. The career of free industry must be
fairly opened to them, and then their future prosperity and condition
must, after all, rest mainly on themselves. If they fail, and so perish
away, let us be careful that the failure shall not be attributable to
any denial of justice. In all that relates to the destiny of the
freedmen we need not be too anxious to read the future; many incidents
which, from a speculative point of view, might raise alarm will quietly
settle themselves. Now that slavery is at an end, or near its end, the
greatness of its evil in the point of view of public economy becomes
more and more apparent. Slavery was essentially a monopoly of labor,
and as such locked the States where it prevailed against the incoming
of free industry. Where labor was the property of the capitalist, the
white man was excluded from employment, or had but the second best
chance of finding it; and the foreign emigrant turned away from the
region where his condition would be so precarious. With the destruction
of the monopoly free labor will hasten from all pans of the civilized
world to assist in developing various and immeasurable resources which
have hitherto lain dormant. The eight or nine States nearest the Gulf
of Mexico have a soil of exuberant fertility, a climate friendly to
long life, and can sustain a denser population than is found as yet in
any part of our country. And the future influx of population to them
will be mainly from the North or from the most cultivated nations in
Europe. From the sufferings that have attended them during our late
struggle let us look away to the future, which is sure to be laden for
them with greater prosperity than has ever before been known. The
removal of the monopoly of slave labor is a pledge that those regions
will be peopled by a numerous and enterprising population, which will
vie with any in the Union in compactness, inventive genius, wealth, and

Our Government springs from and was made for the people--not the people
for the Government. To them it owes allegiance; from them it must
derive its courage, strength, and wisdom. But while the Government is
thus bound to defer to the people, from whom it derives its existence,
it should, from the very consideration of its origin, be strong in its
power of resistance to the establishment of inequalities. Monopolies,
perpetuities, and class legislation are contrary to the genius of free
government, and ought not to be allowed. Here there is no room for
favored classes or monopolies; the principle of our Government is that
of equal laws and freedom of industry. Wherever monopoly attains a
foothold, it is sure to be a source of danger, discord, and trouble. We
shall but fulfill our duties as legislators by according "equal and
exact justice to all men," special privileges to none. The Government
is subordinate to the people; but, as the agent and representative of
the people, it must be held superior to monopolies, which in themselves
ought never to be granted, and which, where they exist, must be
subordinate and yield to the Government.

The Constitution confers on Congress the right to regulate commerce
among the several States. It is of the first necessity, for the
maintenance of the Union, that that commerce should be free and
unobstructed. No State can be justified in any device to tax the
transit of travel and commerce between States. The position of many
States is such that if they were allowed to take advantage of it for
purposes of local revenue the commerce between States might be
injuriously burdened, or even virtually prohibited. It is best, while
the country is still young and while the tendency to dangerous
monopolies of this kind is still feeble, to use the power of Congress
so as to prevent any selfish impediment to the free circulation of men
and merchandise. A tax on travel and merchandise in their transit
constitutes one of the worst forms of monopoly, and the evil is
increased if coupled with a denial of the choice of route. When the
vast extent of our country is considered, it is plain that every
obstacle to the free circulation of commerce between the States ought
to be sternly guarded against by appropriate legislation within the
limits of the Constitution.

The report of the Secretary of the Interior explains the condition of
the public lands, the transactions of the Patent Office and the Pension
Bureau, the management of our Indian affairs, the progress made in the
construction of the Pacific Railroad, and furnishes information in
reference to matters of local interest in the District of Columbia. It
also presents evidence of the successful operation of the homestead
act, under the provisions of which 1,160,533 acres of the public lands
were entered during the last fiscal year--more than one-fourth of the
whole number of acres sold or otherwise disposed of during that period.
It is estimated that the receipts derived from this source are
sufficient to cover the expenses incident to the survey and disposal of
the lands entered under this act, and that payments in cash to the
extent of from 40 to 50 per cent will be made by settlers who may thus
at any time acquire title before the expiration of the period at which
it would otherwise vest. The homestead policy was established only
after long and earnest resistance; experience proves its wisdom. The
lands in the hands of industrious settlers, whose labor creates wealth
and contributes to the public resources, are worth more to the United
States than if they had been reserved as a solitude for future

The lamentable events of the last four years and the sacrifices made by
the gallant men of our Army and Navy have swelled the records of the
Pension Bureau to an unprecedented extent. On the 30th day of June last
the total number of pensioners was 85,986, requiring for their annual
pay, exclusive of expenses, the sum of $8,023,445. The number of
applications that have been allowed since that date will require a
large increase of this amount for the next fiscal year. The means for
the payment of the stipends due under existing laws to our disabled
soldiers and sailors and to the families of such as have perished in
the service of the country will no doubt be cheerfully and promptly
granted. A grateful people will not hesitate to sanction any measures
having for their object the relief of soldiers mutilated and families
made fatherless in the efforts to preserve our national existence.

The report of the Postmaster-General presents an encouraging exhibit of
the operations of the Post-Office Department during the year. The
revenues of the past year, from the loyal States alone, exceeded the
maximum annual receipts from all the States previous to the rebellion
in the sum of $6,038,091; and the annual average increase of revenue
during the last four years, compared with the revenues of the four
years immediately preceding the rebellion, was $3,533,845. The revenues
of the last fiscal year amounted to $14,556,158 and the expenditures to
$13,694,728, leaving a surplus of receipts over expenditures of
$861,430. Progress has been made in restoring the postal service in the
Southern States. The views presented by the Postmaster-General against
the policy of granting subsidies to the ocean mail steamship lines upon
established routes and in favor of continuing the present system, which
limits the compensation for ocean service to the postage earnings, are
recommended to the careful consideration of Congress.

It appears from the report of the Secretary of the Navy that while at
the commencement of the present year there were in commission 530
vessels of all classes and descriptions, armed with 3,000 guns and
manned by 51,000 men, the number of vessels at present in commission is
117, with 830 guns and 12,128 men. By this prompt reduction of the
naval forces the expenses of the Government have been largely
diminished, and a number of vessels purchased for naval purposes from
the merchant marine have been returned to the peaceful pursuits of
commerce. Since the suppression of active hostilities our foreign
squadrons have been reestablished, and consist of vessels much more
efficient than those employed on similar service previous to the
rebellion. The suggestion for the enlargement of the navy-yards, and
especially for the establishment of one in fresh water for ironclad
vessels, is deserving of consideration, as is also the recommendation
for a different location and more ample grounds for the Naval Academy.

In the report of the Secretary of War a general summary is given of the
military campaigns of 1864 and 1865, ending in the suppression of armed
resistance to the national authority in the insurgent States. The
operations of the general administrative bureaus of the War Department
during the past year are detailed and an estimate made of the
appropriations that will be required for military purposes in the
fiscal year commencing the 1st day of July, 1866. The national military
force on the 1st of May, 1865, numbered 1,000,516 men. It is proposed
to reduce the military establishment to a peace footing, comprehending
50,000 troops of all arms, organized so as to admit of an enlargement
by filling up the ranks to 82,600 if the circumstances of the country
should require an augmentation of the Army. The volunteer force has
already been reduced by the discharge from service of over 800,000
troops, and the Department is proceeding rapidly in the work of further
reduction. The war estimates are reduced from $516,240,131 to
$33,814,461, which amount, in the opinion of the Department, is
adequate for a peace establishment. The measures of retrenchment in
each bureau and branch of the service exhibit a diligent economy worthy
of commendation. Reference is also made in the report to the necessity
of providing for a uniform militia system and to the propriety of
making suitable provision for wounded and disabled officers and

The revenue system of the country is a subject of vital interest to its
honor and prosperity, and should command the earnest consideration of
Congress. The Secretary of the Treasury will lay before you a full and
detailed report of the receipts and disbursements of the last fiscal
year, of the first quarter of the present fiscal year, of the probable
receipts and expenditures for the other three quarters, and the
estimates for the year following the 30th of June, 1866. I might
content myself with a reference to that report, in which you will find
all the information required for your deliberations and decision, but
the paramount importance of the subject so presses itself on my own
mind that I can not but lay before you my views of the measures which
are required for the good character, and I might almost say for the
existence, of this people. The life of a republic lies certainly in the
energy, virtue, and intelligence of its citizens; but it is equally
true that a good revenue system is the life of an organized government.
I meet you at a time when the nation has voluntarily burdened itself
with a debt unprecedented in our annals. Vast as is its amount, it
fades away into nothing when compared with the countless blessings that
will be conferred upon our country and upon man by the preservation of
the nation's life. Now, on the first occasion of the meeting of
Congress since the return of peace, it is of the utmost importance to
inaugurate a just policy, which shall at once be put in motion, and
which shall commend itself to those who come after us for its
continuance. We must aim at nothing less than the complete effacement
of the financial evils that necessarily followed a state of civil war.
We must endeavor to apply the earliest remedy to the deranged state of
the currency, and not shrink from devising a policy which, with-out
being oppressive to the people, shall immediately begin to effect a
reduction of the debt, and, if persisted in, discharge it fully within
a definitely fixed number of years.

It is our first duty to prepare in earnest for our recovery from the
ever-increasing evils of an irredeemable currency without a sudden
revulsion, and yet without untimely procrastination. For that end we
must each, in our respective positions, prepare the way. I hold it the
duty of the Executive to insist upon frugality in the expenditures, and
a sparing economy is itself a great national resource. Of the banks to
which authority has been given to issue notes secured by bonds of the
United States we may require the greatest moderation and prudence, and
the law must be rigidly enforced when its limits are exceeded. We may
each one of us counsel our active and enterprising countrymen to be
constantly on their guard, to liquidate debts contracted in a paper
currency, and by conducting business as nearly as possible on a system
of cash payments or short credits to hold themselves prepared to return
to the standard of gold and silver. To aid our fellow-citizens in the
prudent management of their monetary affairs, the duty devolves on us
to diminish by law the amount of paper money now in circulation. Five
years ago the bank-note circulation of the country amounted to not much
more than two hundred millions; now the circulation, bank and national,
exceeds seven hundred millions. The simple statement of the fact
recommends more strongly than any words of mine could do the necessity
of our restraining this expansion. The gradual reduction of the
currency is the only measure that can save the business of the country
from disastrous calamities, and this can be almost imperceptibly
accomplished by gradually funding the national circulation in
securities that may be made redeemable at the pleasure of the

Our debt is doubly secure--first in the actual wealth and still greater
undeveloped resources of the country, and next in the character of our
institutions. The most intelligent observers among political economists
have not failed to remark that the public debt of a country is safe in
proportion as its people are free; that the debt of a republic is the
safest of all. Our history confirms and establishes the theory, and is,
I firmly believe, destined to give it a still more signal illustration.
The secret of this superiority springs not merely from the fact that in
a republic the national obligations are distributed more widely through
countless numbers in all classes of society; it has its root in the
character of our laws. Here all men contribute to the public welfare
and bear their fair share of the public burdens. During the war, under
the impulses of patriotism, the men of the great body of the people,
without regard to their own comparative want of wealth, thronged to our
armies and filled our fleets of war, and held themselves ready to offer
their lives for the public good. Now, in their turn, the property and
income of the country should bear their just proportion of the burden
of taxation, while in our impost system, through means of which
increased vitality is incidentally imparted to all the industrial
interests of the nation, the duties should be so adjusted as to fall
most heavily on articles of luxury leaving the necessaries of life as
free from taxation as the absolute wants of the Government economically
administered will justify. No favored class should demand freedom from
assessment, and the taxes should be so distributed as not to fall
unduly on the poor, but rather on the accumulated wealth of the
country. We should look at the national debt just as it is--not as a
national blessing, but as a heavy burden on the industry of the
country, to be discharged without unnecessary delay.

It is estimated by the Secretary of the Treasury that the expenditures
for the fiscal year ending the 30th of June, 1866, will exceed the
receipts $112,194,947. It is gratifying, however, to state that it is
also estimated that the revenue for the year ending the 30th of June,
1867, will exceed the expenditures in the sum of $111,682,818. This
amount, or so much as may be deemed sufficient for the purpose, may be
applied to the reduction of the public debt, which on the 31st day of
October, 1865, was $2,740,854,750. Every reduction will diminish the
total amount of interest to be paid, and so enlarge the means of still
further reductions, until the whole shall be liquidated; and this, as
will be seen from the estimates of the Secretary of the Treasury, may
be accomplished by annual payments even within a period not exceeding
thirty years. I have faith that we shall do all this within a
reasonable time; that as we have amazed the world by the suppression of
a civil war which was thought to be beyond the control of any
government, so we shall equally show the superiority of our
institutions by the prompt and faithful discharge of our national

The Department of Agriculture under its present direction is
accomplishing much in developing and utilizing the vast agricultural
capabilities of the country, and for information respecting the details
of its management reference is made to the annual report of the

I have dwelt thus fully on our domestic affairs because of their
transcendent importance. Under any circumstances our great extent of
territory and variety of climate, producing almost everything that is
necessary for the wants and even the comforts of man, make us
singularly independent of the varying policy of foreign powers and
protect us against every temptation to "entangling alliances," while at
the present moment the reestablishment of harmony and the strength that
comes from harmony will be our best security against "nations who feel
power and forget right." For myself, it has been and it will be my
constant aim to promote peace and amity with all foreign nations and
powers, and I have every reason to believe that they all, without
exception, are animated by the same disposition. Our relations with the
Emperor of China, so recent in their origin, are most friendly. Our
commerce with his dominions is receiving new developments, and it is
very pleasing to find that the Government of that great Empire
manifests satisfaction with our policy and reposes just confidence in
the fairness which marks our intercourse. The unbroken harmony between
the United States and the Emperor of Russia is receiving a new support
from an enterprise designed to carry telegraphic lines across the
continent of Asia, through his dominions, and so to connect us with all
Europe by a new channel of intercourse. Our commerce with South America
is about to receive encouragement by a direct line of mail steamships
to the rising Empire of Brazil. The distinguished party of men of
science who have recently left our country to make a scientific
exploration of the natural history and rivers and mountain ranges of
that region have received from the Emperor that generous welcome which
was to have been expected from his constant friendship for the United
States and his well-known zeal in promoting the advancement of
knowledge. A hope is entertained that our commerce with the rich and
populous countries that border the Mediterranean Sea may be largely
increased. Nothing will be wanting on the part of this Government to
extend the protection of our flag over the enterprise of our
fellow-citizens. We receive from the powers in that region assurances
of good will; and it is worthy of note that a special envoy has brought
us messages of condolence on the death of our late Chief Magistrate
from the Bey of Tunis, whose rule includes the old dominions of
Carthage, on the African coast.

Our domestic contest, now happily ended, has left some traces in our
relations with one at least of the great maritime powers. The formal
accordance of belligerent rights to the insurgent States was
unprecedented, and has not been justified by the issue. But in the
systems of neutrality pursued by the powers which made that concession
there was a marked difference. The materials of war for the insurgent
States were furnished, in a great measure, from the workshops of Great
Britain, and British ships, manned by British subjects and prepared for
receiving British armaments, sallied from the ports of Great Britain to
make war on American commerce under the shelter of a commission from
the insurgent States. These ships, having once escaped from British
ports, ever afterwards entered them in every part of the world to
refit, and so to renew their depredations. The consequences of this
conduct were most disastrous to the States then in rebellion,
increasing their desolation and misery by the prolongation of our civil
contest. It had, moreover, the effect, to a great extent, to drive the
American flag from the sea, and to transfer much of our shipping and
our commerce to the very power whose subjects had created the necessity
for such a change. These events took place before I was called to the
administration of the Government. The sincere desire for peace by which
I am animated led me to approve the proposal, already made, to submit
the question which had thus arisen between the countries to
arbitration. These questions are of such moment that they must have
commanded the attention of the great powers, and are so interwoven with
the peace and interests of every one of them as to have insured an
impartial decision. I regret to inform you that Great Britain declined
the arbitrament, but, on the other hand, invited us to the formation of
a joint commission to settle mutual claims between the two countries,
from which those for the depredations before mentioned should be
excluded. The proposition, in that very unsatisfactory form, has been

The United States did not present the subject as an impeachment of the
good faith of a power which was professing the most friendly
dispositions, but as involving questions of public law of which the
settlement is essential to the peace of nations; and though pecuniary
reparation to their injured citizens would have followed incidentally
on a decision against Great Britain, such compensation was not their
primary object. They had a higher motive, and it was in the interests
of peace and justice to establish important principles of international
law. The correspondence will be placed before you. The ground on which
the British minister rests his justification is, substantially, that
the municipal law of a nation and the domestic interpretations of that
law are the measure of its duty as a neutral, and I feel bound to
declare my opinion before you and before the world that that
justification can not be sustained before the tribunal of nations. At
the same time; I do not advise to any present attempt at redress by
acts of legislation. For the future, friendship between the two
countries must rest on the basis of mutual justice.

From the moment of the establishment of our free Constitution the
civilized world has been convulsed by revolutions in the interests of
democracy or of monarchy, but through all those revolutions the United
States have wisely and firmly refused to become propagandists of
republicanism. It is the only government suited to our condition; but
we have never sought to impose it on others, and we have consistently
followed the advice of Washington to recommend it only by the careful
preservation and prudent use of the blessing. During all the
intervening period the policy of European powers and of the United
States has, on the whole, been harmonious. Twice, indeed, rumors of the
invasion of some parts of America in the interest of monarchy have
prevailed; twice my predecessors have had occasion to announce the
views of this nation in respect to such interference. On both occasions
the remonstrance of the United States was respected from a deep
conviction on the part of European Governments that the system of
noninterference and mutual abstinence from propagandism was the true
rule for the two hemispheres. Since those times we have advanced in
wealth and power, but we retain the same purpose to leave the nations
of Europe to choose their own dynasties and form their own systems of
government. This consistent moderation may justly demand a
corresponding moderation. We should regard it as a great calamity to
ourselves, to the cause of good government, and to the peace of the
world should any European power challenge the American people, as it
were, to the defense of republicanism against foreign interference. We
can not foresee and are unwilling to consider what opportunities might
present themselves, what combinations might offer to protect ourselves
against designs inimical to our form of government. The United States
desire to act in the future as they have ever acted heretofore; they
never will be driven from that course but by the aggression of European
powers, and we rely on the wisdom and justice of those powers to
respect the system of noninterference which has so long been sanctioned
by time, and which by its good results has approved itself to both

The correspondence between the United States and France in reference to
questions which have become subjects of discussion between the two
Governments will at a proper time be laid before Congress.

When, on the organization of our Government under the Constitution, the
President of the United States delivered his inaugural address to the
two Houses of Congress, he said to them, and through them to the
country and to mankind, that--The preservation of the sacred fire of
liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are
justly considered, perhaps, as deeply, as finally, staked on the
experiment intrusted to the hands of the American people. And the House
of Representatives answered Washington by the voice of Madison: We
adore the Invisible Hand which has led the American people, through so
many difficulties, to cherish a conscious responsibility for the
destiny of republican liberty. More than seventy-six years have glided
away since these words were spoken; the United States have passed
through severer trials than were foreseen; and now, at this new epoch
in our existence as one nation, with our Union purified by sorrows and
strengthened by conflict and established by the virtue of the people,
the greatness of the occasion invites us once more to repeat with
solemnity the pledges of our fathers to hold ourselves answerable
before our fellow-men for the success of the republican form of
government. Experience has proved its sufficiency in peace and in war;
it has vindicated its authority through dangers and afflictions, and
sudden and terrible emergencies, which would have crushed any system
that had been less firmly fixed in the hearts of the people. At the
inauguration of Washington the foreign relations of the country were
few and its trade was repressed by hostile regulations; now all the
civilized nations of the globe welcome our commerce, and their
governments profess toward us amity. Then our country felt its way
hesitatingly along an untried path, with States so little bound
together by rapid means of communication as to be hardly known to one
another, and with historic traditions extending over very few years;
now intercourse between the States is swift and intimate; the
experience of centuries has been crowded into a few generations, and
has created an intense, indestructible nationality. Then our
jurisdiction did not reach beyond the inconvenient boundaries of the
territory which had achieved independence; now, through cessions of
lands, first colonized by Spain and France, the country has acquired a
more complex character, and has for its natural limits the chain of
lakes, the Gulf of Mexico, and on the east and the west the two great
oceans. Other nations were wasted by civil wars for ages before they
could establish for themselves the necessary degree of unity; the
latent conviction that our form of government is the best ever known to
the world has enabled us to emerge from civil war within four years
with a complete vindication of the constitutional authority of the
General Government and with our local liberties and State institutions

The throngs of emigrants that crowd to our shores are witnesses of the
confidence of all peoples in our permanence. Here is the great land of
free labor, where industry is blessed with unexampled rewards and the
bread of the workingman is sweetened by the consciousness that the
cause of the country "is his own cause, his own safety, his own
dignity." Here everyone enjoys the free use of his faculties and the
choice of activity as a natural right. Here, under the combined
influence of a fruitful soil, genial climes, and happy institutions,
population has increased fifteen-fold within a century. Here, through
the easy development of boundless resources, wealth has increased with
twofold greater rapidity than numbers, so that we have become secure
against the financial vicissitudes of other countries and, alike in
business and in opinion, are self-centered and truly independent. Here
more and more care is given to provide education for everyone born on
our soil. Here religion, released from political connection with the
civil government, refuses to subserve the craft of statesmen, and
becomes in its independence the spiritual life of the people. Here
toleration is extended to every opinion, in the quiet certainty that
truth needs only a fair field to secure the victory. Here the human
mind goes forth unshackled in the pursuit of science, to collect stores
of knowledge and acquire an ever-increasing mastery over the forces of
nature. Here the national domain is offered and held in millions of
separate freeholds, so that our fellow-citizens, beyond the occupants
of any other part of the earth, constitute in reality a people. Here
exists the democratic form of government; and that form of government,
by the confession of European statesmen, "gives a power of which no
other form is capable, because it incorporates every man with the state
and arouses everything that belongs to the soul."

Where in past history does a parallel exist to the public happiness
which is within the reach of the people of the United States? Where in
any part of the globe can institutions be found so suited to their
habits or so entitled to their love as their own free Constitution?
Every one of them, then, in whatever part of the land he has his home,
must wish its perpetuity. Who of them will not now acknowledge, in the
words of Washington, that "every step by which the people of the United
States have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to
have been distinguished by some token of providential agency"? Who will
not join with me in the prayer that the Invisible Hand which has led us
through the clouds that gloomed around our path will so guide us onward
to a perfect restoration of fraternal affection that we of this day may
be able to transmit our great inheritance of State governments in all
their rights, of the General Government in its whole constitutional
vigor, to our posterity, and they to theirs through countless


State of the Union Address
Andrew Johnson
December 3, 1866

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

After a brief interval the Congress of the United States resumes its
annual legislative labors. An all-wise and merciful Providence has
abated the pestilence which visited our shores, leaving its calamitous
traces upon some portions of our country. Peace, order, tranquillity,
and civil authority have been formally declared to exist throughout the
whole of the United States. In all of the States civil authority has
superseded the coercion of arms, and the people, by their voluntary
action, are maintaining their governments in full activity and complete
operation. The enforcement of the laws is no longer "obstructed in any
State by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary
course of judicial proceedings," and the animosities engendered by the
war are rapidly yielding to the beneficent influences of our free
institutions and to the kindly effects of unrestricted social and
commercial intercourse. An entire restoration of fraternal feeling must
be the earnest wish of every patriotic heart; and we will have
accomplished our grandest national achievement when, forgetting the sad
events of the past and remembering only their instructive lessons, we
resume our onward career as a free, prosperous, and united people.

In my message of the 4th of December, 1865, Congress was informed of
the measures which had been instituted by the Executive with a view to
the gradual restoration of the States in which the insurrection
occurred to their relations with the General Government. Provisional
governors had been appointed, conventions called, governors elected,
legislatures assembled, and Senators and Representatives chosen to the
Congress of the United States. Courts had been opened for the
enforcement of laws long in abeyance. The blockade had been removed,
custom-houses reestablished, and the internal-revenue laws put in
force, in order that the people might contribute to the national
income. Postal operations had been renewed, and efforts were being made
to restore them to their former condition of efficiency. The States
themselves had been asked to take Dart in the high function of amending
the Constitution, and of thus sanctioning the extinction of African
slavery as one of the legitimate results of our internecine struggle.

Having progressed thus far, the executive department found that it had
accomplished nearly all that was within the scope of its constitutional
authority. One thing, however, yet remained to be done before the work
of restoration could be completed, and that was the admission to
Congress of loyal Senators and Representatives from the States whose
people had rebelled against the lawful authority of the General
Government. This question devolved upon the respective Houses, which by
the Constitution are made the judges of the elections, returns, and
qualifications of their own members, and its consideration at once
engaged the attention of Congress.

In the meantime the executive department--no other plan having been
proposed by Congress--continued its efforts to perfect, as far as was
practicable, the restoration of the proper relations between the
citizens of the respective States, the States, and the Federal
Government, extending from time to time, as the public interests seemed
to require, the judicial, revenue, and postal systems of the country.
With the advice and consent of the Senate, the necessary officers were
appointed and appropriations made by Congress for the payment of their
salaries. The proposition to amend the Federal Constitution, so as to
prevent the existence of slavery within the United States or any place
subject to their jurisdiction, was ratified by the requisite number of
States, and on the 18th day of December, 1865, it was officially
declared to have become valid as a part of the Constitution of the
United States. All of the States in which the insurrection had existed
promptly amended their constitutions so as to make them conform to the
great change thus effected in the organic law of the land; declared
null and void all ordinances and laws of secession; repudiated all
pretended debts and obligations created for the revolutionary purposes
of the insurrection, and proceeded in good faith to the enactment of
measures for the protection and amelioration of the condition of the
colored race. Congress, however, yet hesitated to admit any of these
States to representation, and it was not until toward the close of the
eighth month of the session that an exception was made in favor of
Tennessee by the admission of her Senators and Representatives.

I deem it a subject of profound regret that Congress has thus far
failed to admit to seats loyal Senators and Representatives from the
other States whose inhabitants, with those of Tennessee, had engaged in
the rebellion. Ten States--more than one-fourth of the whole
number--remain without representation; the seats of fifty members in
the House of Representatives and of twenty members in the Senate are
yet vacant, not by their own consent, not by a failure of election, but
by the refusal of Congress to accept their credentials. Their
admission, it is believed, would have accomplished much toward the
renewal and strengthening of our relations as one people and removed
serious cause for discontent on the part of the inhabitants of those
States. It would have accorded with the great principle enunciated in
the Declaration of American Independence that no people ought to bear
the burden of taxation and yet be denied the right of representation.
It would have been in consonance with the express provisions of the
Constitution that "each State shall have at least one Representative"
and "that no State, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal
suffrage in the Senate." These provisions were intended to secure to
every State and to the people of every State the right of
representation in each House of Congress; and so important was it
deemed by the framers of the Constitution that the equality of the
States in the Senate should be preserved that not even by an amendment
of the Constitution can any State, without its consent, be denied a
voice in that branch of the National Legislature.

It is true it has been assumed that the existence of the States was
terminated by the rebellious acts of their inhabitants, and that, the
insurrection having been suppressed, they were thenceforward to be
considered merely as conquered territories. The legislative, executive,
and judicial departments of the Government have, however, with Heat
distinctness and uniform consistency, refused to sanction an assumption
so incompatible with the nature of our republican system and with the
professed objects of the war. Throughout the recent legislation of
Congress the undeniable fact makes itself apparent that these ten
political communities are nothing less than States of this Union. At
the very commencement of the rebellion each House declared, with a
unanimity as remarkable as it was significant, that the war was not
"waged upon our part in any spirit of oppression, nor for any purpose
of conquest or subjugation, nor purpose of overthrowing or interfering
with the rights or established institutions of those States, but to
defend and maintain the supremacy of the Constitution and all laws made
in pursuance thereof, and to preserve the Union, with all the dignity,
equality, and rights of the several States unimpaired; and that as soon
as these objects" were "accomplished the war ought to cease." In some
instances Senators were permitted to continue their legislative
functions, while in other instances Representatives were elected and
admitted to seats after their States had formally declared their right
to withdraw from the Union and were endeavoring to maintain that right
by force of arms. All of the States whose people were in insurrection,
as States, were included in the apportionment of the direct tax of
$20,000,000 annually laid upon the United States by the act approved
5th August, 1861. Congress, by the act of March 4, 1862, and by the
apportionment of representation thereunder also recognized their
presence as States in the Union; and they have, for judicial purposes,
been divided into districts, as States alone can be divided. The same
recognition appears in the recent legislation in reference to
Tennessee, which evidently rests upon the fact that the functions of
the State were not destroyed by the rebellion, but merely suspended;
and that principle is of course applicable to those States which, like
Tennessee, attempted to renounce their places in the Union.

The action of the executive department of the Government upon this
subject has been equally definite and uniform, and the purpose of the
war was specifically stated in the proclamation issued by my
predecessor on the 22d day of September, 1862. It was then solemnly
proclaimed and declared "that hereafter, as heretofore, the war will be
prosecuted for the object of practically restoring the constitutional
relation between the United States and each of the States and the
people thereof in which States that relation is or may be suspended or

The recognition of the States by the judicial department of the
Government has also been dear and conclusive in all proceedings
affecting them as States had in the Supreme, circuit, and district
courts. In the admission of Senators and Representatives from any and
all of the States there can be no just ground of apprehension that
persons who are disloyal will be clothed with the powers of
legislation, for this could not happen when the Constitution and the
laws are enforced by a vigilant and faithful Congress. Each House is
made the "judge of the elections, returns, and qualifications of its
own members," and may, "with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a
member." When a Senator or Representative presents his certificate of
election, he may at once be admitted or rejected; or, should there be
any question as to his eligibility, his credentials may be referred for
investigation to the appropriate committee. If admitted to a seat, it
must be upon evidence satisfactory to the House of which he thus
becomes a member that he possesses the requisite constitutional and
legal qualifications. If refused admission as a member for want of due
allegiance to the Government and returned to his constituents, they are
admonished that none but persons loyal to the United States will be
allowed a voice in the legislative councils of the nation, and the
political power and moral influence of Congress are thus effectively
exerted in the interests of loyalty to the Government and fidelity to
the Union. Upon this question, so vitally affecting the restoration of
the Union and the permanency of our present form of government, my
convictions, heretofore expressed, have undergone no change, but, on
the contrary, their correctness has been confirmed by reflection and
time. If the admission of loyal members to seats in the respective
Houses of Congress was wise and expedient a year ago, it is no less
wise and expedient now. If this anomalous condition is right now--if in
the exact condition of these States at the present time it is lawful to
exclude them from representation--I do not see that the question will
be changed by the efflux of time. Ten years hence, if these States
remain as they are, the right of representation will be no stronger,
the right of exclusion will be no weaker.

The Constitution of the United States makes it the duty of the
President to recommend to the consideration of Congress "such measures
as he shall judge necessary and expedient." I know of no measure more
imperatively demanded by every consideration of national interest,
sound policy, and equal justice than the admission of loyal members
from the now unrepresented States. This would consummate the work of
restoration and exert a most salutary influence in the reestablishment
of peace, harmony, and fraternal feeling. It would tend greatly to
renew the confidence of the American people in the vigor and stability
of their institutions. It would bind us more closely together as a
nation and enable us to show to the world the inherent and recuperative
power of a government founded upon the will of the people and
established upon the principles of liberty, justice, and intelligence.
Our increased strength and enhanced prosperity would irrefragably
demonstrate the fallacy of the arguments against free institutions
drawn from our recent national disorders by the enemies of republican
government. The admission of loyal members from the States now excluded
from Congress, by allaying doubt and apprehension, would turn capital
now awaiting an opportunity for investment into the channels of trade
and industry. It would alleviate the present troubled condition of
those States, and by inducing emigration aid in the settlement of
fertile regions now uncultivated and lead to an increased production of
those staples which have added so greatly to the wealth of the nation
and commerce of the world. New fields of enterprise would be opened to
our progressive people and soon the devastations of war would be
repaired and all traces of our domestic differences effaced from the
minds of our countrymen.

In our efforts to preserve "the unity of government which constitutes
as one people" by restoring the States to the condition which they held
prior to the rebellion, we should be cautious, lest, having rescued our
nation from perils of threatened disintegration, we resort to
consolidation, and in the end absolute despotism, as a remedy for the
recurrence of similar troubles. The war having terminated, and with it
all occasion for the exercise of powers of doubtful constitutionality,
we should hasten to bring legislation within the boundaries prescribed
by the Constitution and to return to the ancient landmarks established
by our fathers for the guidance of succeeding generations. The
constitution which at any time exists till changed by an explicit and
authentic act of the whole people is sacredly obligatory upon all. If
in the opinion of the people the distribution or modification of the
constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected
by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates; but let
there be no change by usurpation, for it is the customary weapon by
which free governments are destroyed.  Washington spoke these words to
his countrymen when, followed by their love and gratitude, he
voluntarily retired from the cares of public life. "To keep in all
things within the pale of our constitutional powers and cherish the
Federal Union as the only rock of safety" were prescribed by Jefferson
as rules of action to endear to his "countrymen the true principles of
their Constitution and promote a union of sentiment and action, equally
auspicious to their happiness and safety." Jackson held that the action
of the General Government should always be strictly confined to the
sphere of its appropriate duties, and justly and forcibly urged that
our Government is not to be maintained nor our Union preserved "by
invasions of the rights and powers of the several States. In thus
attempting to make our General Government strong we make it weak. Its
true strength consists in leaving individuals and States as much as
possible to themselves; in making itself felt, not in its power, but in
its beneficence; not in its control, but in its protection; not in
binding the States more closely to the center, but leaving each to move
unobstructed in its proper constitutional orbit." These are the
teachings of men whose deeds and services have made them illustrious,
and who, long since withdrawn from the scenes of life, have left to
their country the rich legacy of their example, their wisdom, and their
patriotism. Drawing fresh inspiration from their lessons, let us
emulate them in love of country and respect for the Constitution and
the laws.

The report of the Secretary of the Treasury affords much information
respecting the revenue and commerce of the country. His views upon the
currency and with reference to a proper adjustment of our revenue
system, internal as well as impost, are commended to the careful
consideration of Congress. In my last annual message I expressed my
general views upon these subjects. I need now only call attention to
the necessity of carrying into every department of the Government a
system of rigid accountability, thorough retrenchment, and wise
economy. With no exceptional nor unusual expenditures, the oppressive
burdens of taxation can be lessened by such a modification of our
revenue laws as will be consistent with the public faith and the
legitimate and necessary wants of the Government.

The report presents a much more satisfactory condition of our finances
than one year ago the most sanguine could have anticipated. During the
fiscal year ending the 30th June, 1865 (the last year of the war), the
public debt was increased $941,902,537, and on the 31st of October,
1865, it amounted to $2,740,854,750. On the 31st day of October, 1866,
it had been reduced to $2,552,310,006, the diminution during a period
of fourteen months, commencing September 1, 1865, and ending October
31, 1866, having been $206,379,565. In the last annual report on the
state of the finances it was estimated that during the three quarters
of the fiscal year ending the 30th of June last the debt would be
increased $112,194,947. During that period, however, it was reduced
$31,196,387, the receipts of the year having been $89,905,905 more and
the expenditures $200,529,235 less than the estimates. Nothing could
more clearly indicate than these statements the extent and availability
of the national resources and the rapidity and safety with which under
our form of government, great military and naval establishments can be
disbanded and expenses reduced from a war to a peace footing.

During the fiscal year ending June 30, 1866, the receipts were
$558,032,620 and the expenditures $520,750,940, leaving an available
surplus of $37,281,680. It is estimated that the receipts for the
fiscal year ending the 30th June, 1867, will be $475,061.386, and that
the expenditures will reach the sum of $316,428,078, leaving in the
Treasury a surplus of $158,633,308. For the fiscal year ending June 30,
1886, it is estimated that the receipts will amount to $436,000,000 and
that the expenditures will be $350,247,641, showing an excess of
$85,752,359 in favor of the Government. These estimated receipts may be
diminished by a reduction of excise and import duties, but after all
necessary reductions shall have been made the revenue of the present
and of following years will doubtless be sufficient to cover all
legitimate charges upon the Treasury and leave a large annual surplus
to be applied to the payment of the principal of the debt. There seems
now to be no good reason why taxes may not be reduced as the country
advances in population and wealth, and yet the debt be extinguished
within the next quarter of a century.

The report of the Secretary of War furnishes valuable and important
information in reference to the operations of his Department during the
past year. Few volunteers now remain in the service, and they are being
discharged as rapidly as they can be replaced by regular troops. The
Army has been promptly paid, carefully provided with medical treatment,
well sheltered and subsisted, and is to be furnished with
breech-loading small arms. The military strength of the nation has been
unimpaired by the discharge of volunteers, the disposition of
unserviceable or perishable stores, and the retrenchment of
expenditure. Sufficient war material to meet any emergency has been
retained, and from the disbanded volunteers standing ready to respond
to the national call large armies can be rapidly organized, equipped,
and concentrated. Fortifications on the coast and frontier have
received or are being prepared for more powerful armaments; lake
surveys and harbor and river improvements are in course of energetic
prosecution. Preparations have been made for the payment of the
additional bounties authorized during the recent session of Congress,
under such regulations as will protect the Government from fraud and
secure to the honorably discharged soldier the well-earned reward of
his faithfulness and gallantry. More than 6,000 maimed soldiers have
received artificial limbs or other surgical apparatus, and 41 national
cemeteries, containing the remains of 104,526 Union soldiers, have
already been established. The total estimate of military appropriations
is $25,205,669.

It is stated in the report of the Secretary of the Navy that the naval
force at this time consists of 278 vessels, armed with 2,351 guns. Of
these, 115 vessels, carrying 1,029 guns, are in commission, distributed
chiefly among seven squadrons. The number of men in the service is
13,600. Great activity and vigilance have been displayed by all the
squadrons, and their movements have been judiciously and efficiently
arranged in such manner as would best promote American commerce and
protect the rights and interests of our countrymen abroad. The vessels
unemployed are undergoing repairs or are laid up until their services
may be required. Most of the ironclad fleet is at League Island, in the
vicinity of Philadelphia, a place which, until decisive action should
be taken by Congress, was selected by the Secretary of the Navy as the
most eligible location for that class of vessels. It is important that
a suitable public station should be provided for the ironclad fleet. It
is intended that these vessels shall be in proper condition for any
emergency, and it is desirable that the bill accepting League Island
for naval purposes, which passed the House of Representatives at its
last session, should receive final action at an early period, in order
that there may be a suitable public station for this class of vessels,
as well as a navy-yard of area sufficient for the wants of the service
on the Delaware River. The naval pension fund amounts to $11,750,000,
having been increased $2,750,000 during the year. The expenditures of
the Department for the fiscal year ending 30th June last were
$43,324,526, and the estimates for the coming year amount to
$23,568,436. Attention is invited to the condition of our seamen and
the importance of legislative measures for their relief and
improvement. The suggestions in behalf of this deserving class of our
fellow-citizens are earnestly recommended to the favorable attention of

The report of the Postmaster-General presents a most satisfactory
condition of the postal service and submits recommendations which
deserve the consideration of Congress. The revenues of the Department
for the year ending June 30, 1866, were $14,386,986 and the
expenditures $15,352,079, showing an excess of the latter of $965,093.
In anticipation of this deficiency, however, a special appropriation
was made by Congress in the act approved July 28, 1866. Including the
standing appropriation of $700,000 for free mail matter as a legitimate
portion of the revenues, yet remaining unexpended, the actual
deficiency for the past year is only $265,093--a sum within $51,141 of
the amount estimated in the annual report of 1864. The decrease of
revenue compared with the previous year was 1 1/5 per cent, and the
increase of expenditures, owing principally to the enlargement of the
mail service in the South, was 12 per cent. On the 30th of June last
there were in operation 6,930 mail routes, with an aggregate length of
180,921 miles, an aggregate annual transportation of 71,837,914 miles,
and an aggregate annual cost, including all expenditures, of
$8,410,184. The length of railroad routes is 32,092 miles and the
annual transportation 30,609,467 miles. The length of steamboat routes
is 14,346 miles and the annual transportation 3,411,962 miles. The mail
service is rapidly increasing throughout the whole country, and its
steady extension in the Southern States indicates their constantly
improving condition. The growing importance of the foreign service also
merits attention. The post-office department of Great Britain and our
own have agreed upon a preliminary basis for a new postal convention,
which it is believed will prove eminently beneficial to the commercial
interests of the United States, inasmuch as it contemplates a reduction
of the international letter postage to one-half the existing rates: a
reduction of postage with all other countries to and from which
correspondence is transmitted in the British mail, or in closed mails
through the United Kingdom; the establishment of uniform and reasonable
charges for the sea and territorial transit of correspondence in closed
mails; and an allowance to each post-office department of the right to
use all mail communications established under the authority of the
other for the dispatch of correspondence, either in open or closed
mails, on the same terms as those applicable to the inhabitants of the
country providing the means of transmission.

The report of the Secretary of the Interior exhibits the condition of
those branches of the public service which are committed to his
supervision. During the last fiscal year 4,629,312 acres of public land
were disposed of, 1,892,516 acres of which were entered under the
homestead act. The policy originally adopted relative to the public
lands has undergone essential modifications. Immediate revenue, and not
their rapid settlement, was the cardinal feature of our land system.
Long experience and earnest discussion have resulted in the conviction
that the early development of our agricultural resources and the
diffusion of an energetic population over our vast territory are
objects of far greater importance to the national growth and prosperity
than the proceeds of the sale of the land to the highest bidder in open
market. The preemption laws confer upon the pioneer who complies with
the terms they impose the privilege of purchasing a limited portion of
"unoffered lands" at the minimum price. The homestead enactments
relieve the settler from the payment of purchase money, and secure him
a permanent home upon the condition of residence for a term of years.
This liberal policy invites emigration from the Old and from the more
crowded portions of the New World. Its propitious results are
undoubted, and will be more signally manifested when time shall have
given to it a wider development.

Congress has made liberal grants of public land to corporations in aid
of the construction of railroads and other internal improvements.
Should this policy hereafter prevail, more stringent provisions will be
required to secure a faithful application of the fund. The title to the
lands should not pass, by patent or otherwise, but remain in the
Government and subject to its control until some portion of the road
has been actually built. Portions of them might then from time to time
be conveyed to the corporation, but never in a greater ratio to the
whole quantity embraced by the grant than the completed parts bear to
the entire length of the projected improvement. This restriction would
not operate to the prejudice of any undertaking conceived in good faith
and executed with reasonable energy, as it is the settled practice to
withdraw from market the lands falling within the operation of such
grants, and thus to exclude the inception of a subsequent adverse
right. A breach of the conditions which Congress may deem proper to
impose should work a forfeiture of claim to the lands so withdrawn but
unconveyed, and of title to the lands conveyed which remain unsold.

Operations on the several lines of the Pacific Railroad have been
prosecuted with unexampled vigor and success. Should no unforeseen
causes of delay occur, it is confidently anticipated that this great
thoroughfare will be completed before the expiration of the period
designated by Congress.

During the last fiscal year the amount paid to pensioners, including
the expenses of disbursement, was $13,459,996, and 50,177 names were
added to the pension rolls. The entire number of pensioners June 30,
1866, was 126,722. This fact furnishes melancholy and striking proof of
the sacrifices made to vindicate the constitutional authority of the
Federal Government and to maintain inviolate the integrity of the Union
They impose upon us corresponding obligations. It is estimated that
$33,000,000 will be required to meet the exigencies of this branch of
the service during the next fiscal year.

Treaties have been concluded with the Indians, who, enticed into armed
opposition to our Government at the outbreak of the rebellion, have
unconditionally submitted to our authority and manifested an earnest
desire for a renewal of friendly relations.

During the year ending September 30, 1866, 8,716 patents for useful
inventions and designs were issued, and at that date the balance in the
Treasury to the credit of the patent fund was $228,297.

As a subject upon which depends an immense amount of the production and
commerce of the country, I recommend to Congress such legislation as
may be necessary for the preservation of the levees of the Mississippi
River. It is a matter of national importance that early steps should be
taken, not only to add to the efficiency of these barriers against
destructive inundations, but for the removal of all obstructions to the
free and safe navigation of that great channel of trade and commerce.

The District of Columbia under existing laws is not entitled to that
representation in the national councils which from our earliest history
has been uniformly accorded to each Territory established from time to
time within our limits. It maintains peculiar relations to Congress, to
whom the Constitution has granted the power of exercising exclusive
legislation over the seat of Government. Our fellow-citizens residing
in the District, whose interests are thus confided to the special
guardianship of Congress, exceed in number the population of several of
our Territories, and no just reason is perceived why a Delegate of
their choice should not be admitted to a seat in the House of
Representatives. No mode seems so appropriate and effectual of enabling
them to make known their peculiar condition and wants and of securing
the local legislation adapted to them. I therefore recommend the
passage of a law authorizing the electors of the District of Columbia
to choose a Delegate, to be allowed the same rights and privileges as a
Delegate representing a Territory. The increasing enterprise and rapid
progress of improvement in the District are highly gratifying, and I
trust that the efforts of the municipal authorities to promote the
prosperity of the national metropolis will receive the efficient and
generous cooperation of Congress.

The report of the Commissioner of Agriculture reviews the operations of
his Department during the past year, and asks the aid of Congress in
its efforts to encourage those States which, scourged by war, are now
earnestly engaged in the reorganization of domestic industry.

It is a subject of congratulation that no foreign combinations against
our domestic peace and safety or our legitimate influence among the
nations have been formed or attempted. While sentiments of
reconciliation, loyalty, and patriotism have increased at home, a more
just consideration of our national character and rights has been
manifested by foreign nations.

The entire success of the Atlantic telegraph between the coast of
Ireland and the Province of Newfoundland is an achievement which has
been justly celebrated in both hemispheres as the opening of an era in
the progress of civilization. There is reason to expect that equal
success will attend and even greater results follow the enterprise for
connecting the two continents through the Pacific Ocean by the
projected line of telegraph between Kamchatka and the Russian
possessions in America.

The resolution of Congress protesting against pardons by foreign
governments of persons convicted of infamous offenses on condition of
emigration to our country has been communicated to the states with
which we maintain intercourse, and the practice, so justly the subject
of complaint on our part, has not been renewed.

The congratulations of Congress to the Emperor of Russia upon his
escape from attempted assassination have been presented to that humane
and enlightened ruler and received by him with expressions of grateful

The Executive, warned of an attempt by Spanish American adventurers to
induce the emigration of freedmen of the United States to a foreign
country, protested against the project as one which, if consummated,
would reduce them to a bondage even more oppressive than that from
which they have just been relieved. Assurance has been received from
the Government of the State in which the plan was matured that the
proceeding will meet neither its encouragement nor approval. It is a
question worthy of your consideration whether our laws upon this
subject are adequate to the prevention or punishment of the crime thus

In the month of April last, as Congress is aware, a friendly
arrangement was made between the Emperor of France and the President of
the United States for the withdrawal from Mexico of the French
expeditionary military forces. This withdrawal was to be effected in
three detachments, the first of which, it was understood, would leave
Mexico in November, now past, the second in March next, and the third
and last in November, 1867. Immediately upon the completion of the
evacuation the French Government was to assume the same attitude of
nonintervention in regard to Mexico as is held by the Government of the
United States. Repeated assurances have been given by the Emperor since
that agreement that he would complete the promised evacuation within
the period mentioned, or sooner.

It was reasonably expected that the proceedings thus contemplated would
produce a crisis of great political interest in the Republic of Mexico.
The newly appointed minister of the United States, Mr. Campbell, was
therefore sent forward on the 9th day of November last to assume his
proper functions as minister plenipotentiary of the United States to
that Republic. It was also thought expedient that he should be attended
in the vicinity of Mexico by the Lieutenant-General of the Army of the
United States, with the view of obtaining such information as might be
important to determine the course to be pursued by the United States in
reestablishing and maintaining necessary and proper intercourse with
the Republic of Mexico. Deeply interested in the cause of liberty and
humanity, it seemed an obvious duty on our part to exercise whatever
influence we possessed for the restoration and permanent establishment
in that country of a domestic and republican form of government.

Such was the condition of our affairs in regard to Mexico when, on the
22d of November last, official information was received from Paris that
the Emperor of France had some time before decided not to withdraw a
detachment of his forces in the month of November past, according to
engagement, but that this decision was made with the purpose of
withdrawing the whole of those forces in the ensuing spring. Of this
determination, however, the United States had not received any notice
or intimation, and so soon as the information was received by the
Government care was taken to make known its dissent to the Emperor of

I can not forego the hope that France will reconsider the subject and
adopt some resolution in regard to the evacuation of Mexico which will
conform as nearly as practicable with the existing engagement, and thus
meet the just expectations of the United States. The papers relating to
the subject will be laid before you. It is believed that with the
evacuation of Mexico by the expeditionary forces no subject for serious
differences between France and the United States would remain. The
expressions of the Emperor and people of France warrant a hope that the
traditionary friendship between the two countries might in that case be
renewed and permanently restored.

A claim of a citizen of the United States for indemnity for spoliations
committed on the high seas by the French authorities in the exercise of
a belligerent power against Mexico has been met by the Government of
France with a proposition to defer settlement until a mutual convention
for the adjustment of all claims of citizens and subjects of both
countries arising out of the recent wars on this continent shall be
agreed upon by the two countries. The suggestion is not deemed
unreasonable, but it belongs to Congress to direct the manner in which
claims for indemnity by foreigners as well as by citizens of the United
States arising out of the late civil war shall be adjudicated and
determined. I have no doubt that the subject of all such claims will
engage your attention at a convenient and proper time.

It is a matter of regret that no considerable advance has been made
toward an adjustment of the differences between the United States and
Great Britain arising out of the depredations upon our national
commerce and other trespasses committed during our civil war by British
subjects, in violation of international law and treaty obligations. The
delay, however, may be believed to have resulted in no small degree
from the domestic situation of Great Britain. An entire change of
ministry occurred in that country during the last session of
Parliament. The attention of the new ministry was called to the subject
at an early day, and there is some reason to expect that it will now be
considered in a becoming and friendly spirit. The importance of an
early disposition of the question can not be exaggerated. Whatever
might be the wishes of the two Governments, it is manifest that good
will and friendship between the two countries can not be established
until a reciprocity in the practice of good faith and neutrality shall
be restored between the respective nations.

On the 6th of June last, in violation of our neutrality laws, a
military expedition and enterprise against the British North American
colonies was projected and attempted to be carried on within the
territory and jurisdiction of the United States. In obedience to the
obligation imposed upon the Executive by the Constitution to see that
the laws are faithfully executed, all citizens were warned by
proclamation against taking part in or aiding such unlawful
proceedings, and the proper civil, military, and naval officers were
directed to take all necessary measures for the enforcement of the
laws. The expedition failed, but it has not been without its painful
consequences. Some of our citizens who, it was alleged, were engaged in
the expedition were captured, and have been brought to trial as for a
capital offense in the Province of Canada. Judgment and sentence of
death have been pronounced against some, while others have been
acquitted. Fully believing in the maxim of government that severity of
civil punishment for misguided persons who have engaged in
revolutionary attempts which have disastrously failed is unsound and
unwise, such representations have been made to the British Government
in behalf of the convicted persons as, being sustained by an
enlightened and humane judgment, will, it is hoped, induce in their
cases an exercise of clemency and a judicious amnesty to all who were
engaged in the movement. Counsel has been employed by the Government to
defend citizens of the United States on trial for capital offenses in
Canada, and a discontinuance of the prosecutions which were instituted
in the courts of the United States against those who took part in the
expedition has been directed.

I have regarded the expedition as not only political in its nature, but
as also in a great measure foreign from the United States in its
causes, character, and objects. The attempt was understood to be made
in sympathy with an insurgent party in Ireland, and by striking at a
British Province on this continent was designed to aid in obtaining
redress for political grievances which, it was assumed, the people of
Ireland had suffered at the hands of the British Government during a
period of several centuries. The persons engaged in it were chiefly
natives of that country, some of whom had, while others had not, become
citizens of the United States under our general laws of naturalization.
Complaints of misgovernment in Ireland continually engage the attention
of the British nation, and so great an agitation is now prevailing in
Ireland that the British Government have deemed it necessary to suspend
the writ of habeas corpus in that country. These circumstances must
necessarily modify the opinion which we might otherwise have
entertained in regard to an expedition expressly prohibited by our
neutrality laws. So long as those laws remain upon our statute books
they should be faithfully executed, and if they operate harshly,
unjustly, or oppressively Congress alone can apply the remedy by their
modification or repeal.

Political and commercial interests of the United States are not
unlikely to be affected in some degree by events which are transpiring
in the eastern regions of Europe, and the time seems to have come when
our Government ought to have a proper diplomatic representation in

This Government has claimed for all persons not convicted or accused or
suspected of crime an absolute political right of self-expatriation and
a choice of new national allegiance. Most of the European States have
dissented from this principle, and have claimed a right to hold such of
their subjects as have emigrated to and been naturalized in the United
States and afterwards returned on transient visits to their native
countries to the performance of military service in like manner as
resident subjects. Complaints arising from the claim in this respect
made by foreign states have heretofore been matters of controversy
between the United States and some of the European powers, and the
irritation consequent upon the failure to settle this question
increased during the war in which Prussia, Italy, and Austria were
recently engaged. While Great Britain has never acknowledged the right
of expatriation, she has not for some years past practically insisted
upon the opposite doctrine. France has been equally forbearing, and
Prussia has proposed a compromise, which, although evincing increased
liberality, has not been accepted by the United States. Peace is now
prevailing everywhere in Europe, and the present seems to be a
favorable time for an assertion by Congress of the principle so long
maintained by the executive department that naturalization by one state
fully exempts the native-born subject of any other state from the
performance of military service under any foreign government, so long
as he does not voluntarily renounce its rights and benefits.

In the performance of a duty imposed upon me by the Constitution I have
thus submitted to the representatives of the States and of the people
such information of our domestic and foreign affairs as the public
interests seem to require. Our Government is now undergoing its most
trying ordeal, and my earnest prayer is that the peril may be
successfully and finally passed without impairing its original strength
and symmetry. The interests of the nation are best to be promoted by
the revival of fraternal relations, the complete obliteration of our
past differences, and the reinauguration of all the pursuits of peace.
Directing our efforts to the early accomplishment of these great ends,
let us endeavor to preserve harmony between the coordinate departments
of the Government, that each in its proper sphere may cordially
cooperate with the other in securing the maintenance of the
Constitution, the preservation of the Union, and the perpetuity of our
free institutions.


State of the Union Address
Andrew Johnson
December 3, 1867

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

The continued disorganization of the Union, to which the President has
so often called the attention of Congress, is yet a subject of profound
and patriotic concern. We may, however, find some relief from that
anxiety in the reflection that the painful political situation,
although before untried by ourselves, is not new in the experience of
nations. Political science, perhaps as highly perfected in our own time
and country as in any other, has not yet disclosed any means by which
civil wars can be absolutely prevented. An enlightened nation, however,
with a wise and beneficent constitution of free government, may
diminish their frequency and mitigate their severity by directing all
its proceedings in accordance with its fundamental law.

When a civil war has been brought to a close, it is manifestly the
first interest and duty of the state to repair the injuries which the
war has inflicted, and to secure the benefit of the lessons it teaches
as fully and as speedily as possible. This duty was, upon the
termination of the rebellion, promptly accepted not only by the
executive department, but by the insurrectionary States themselves, and
restoration in the first moment of peace was believed to be as easy and
certain as it was indispensable. The expectations, however, then so
reasonably and confidently entertained were disappointed by legislation
from which I felt constrained by my obligations to the Constitution to
withhold my assent.

It is therefore a source of profound regret that in complying with the
obligation imposed upon the President by the Constitution to give to
Congress from time to time information of the state of the Union I am
unable to communicate any definitive adjustment satisfactory to the
American people, of the questions which since the close of the
rebellion have agitated the public mind. On the contrary, candor
compels me to declare that at this time there is no Union as our
fathers understood the term, and as they meant it to be understood by
us. The Union which they established can exist only where all the
States are represented in both Houses of Congress; where one State is
as free as another to regulate its internal concerns according to its
own will, and where the laws of the central Government, strictly
confined to matters of national jurisdiction, apply with equal force to
all the people of every section. That such is not the present "state of
the Union" is a melancholy fact, and we must all acknowledge that the
restoration of the States to their proper legal relations with the
Federal Government and with one another, according to the terms of the
original compact, would be the greatest temporal blessing which God, in
His kindest providence, could bestow upon this nation. It becomes our
imperative duty to consider whether or not it is impossible to effect
this most desirable consummation.  The Union and the Constitution are
inseparable. As long as one is obeyed by all parties, the other will be
preserved; and if one is destroyed, both must perish together. The
destruction of the Constitution will be followed by other and still
greater calamities. It was ordained not only to form a more perfect
union between the States, but to "establish justice, insure domestic
tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general
welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our
posterity." Nothing but implicit obedience to its requirements in all
parts of the country will accomplish these great ends. Without that
obedience we can look forward only to continual outrages upon
individual rights, incessant breaches of the public peace, national
weakness, financial dishonor, the total loss of our prosperity, the
general corruption of morals, and the final extinction of popular
freedom. To save our country from evils so appalling as these, we
should renew our efforts again and again.

To me the process of restoration seems perfectly plain and simple. It
consists merely in a faithful application of the Constitution and laws.
The execution of the laws is not now obstructed or opposed by physical
force. There is no military or other necessity, real or pretended,
which can prevent obedience to the Constitution, either North or South.
All the rights and all the obligations of States and individuals can be
protected and enforced by means perfectly consistent with the
fundamental law. The courts may be everywhere open, and if open their
process would be unimpeded. Crimes against the United States can be
prevented or punished by the proper judicial authorities in a manner
entirely practicable and legal. There is therefore no reason why the
Constitution should not be obeyed, unless those who exercise its powers
have determined that it shall be disregarded and violated. The mere
naked will of this Government, or of some one or more of its branches,
is the only obstacle that can exist to a perfect union of all the

On this momentous question and some of the measures growing out of it I
have had the misfortune to differ from Congress, and have expressed my
convictions without reserve, though with becoming deference to the
opinion of the legislative department. Those convictions are not only
unchanged, but strengthened by subsequent events and further reflection
The transcendent importance of the subject will be a sufficient excuse
for calling your attention to some of the reasons which have so
strongly influenced my own judgment. The hope that we may all finally
concur in a mode of settlement consistent at once with our true
interests and with our sworn duties to the Constitution is too natural
and too just to be easily relinquished.

It is clear to my apprehension that the States lately in rebellion are
still members of the National Union. When did they cease to be so? The
"ordinances of secession" adopted by a portion (in most of them a very
small portion) of their citizens were mere nullities. If we admit now
that they were valid and effectual for the purpose intended by their
authors, we sweep from under our feet the whole ground upon which we
justified the war. Were those States afterwards expelled from the Union
by the war? The direct contrary was averred by this Government to be
its purpose, and was so understood by all those who gave their blood
and treasure to aid in its prosecution. It can not be that a successful
war, waged for the preservation of the Union, had the legal effect of
dissolving it. The victory of the nation's arms was not the disgrace of
her policy; the defeat of secession on the battlefield was not the
triumph of its lawless principle. Nor could Congress, with or without
the consent of the Executive, do anything which would have the effect,
directly or indirectly, of separating the States from each other. To
dissolve the Union is to repeal the Constitution which holds it
together, and that is a power which does not belong to any department
of this Government, or to all of them united.

This is so plain that it has been acknowledged by all branches of the
Federal Government. The Executive (my predecessor as well as myself)
and the heads of all the Departments have uniformly acted upon the
principle that the Union is not only undissolved, but indissoluble.
Congress submitted an amendment of the Constitution to be ratified by
the Southern States, and accepted their acts of ratification as a
necessary and lawful exercise of their highest function. If they were
not States, or were States out of the Union, their consent to a change
in the fundamental law of the Union would have been nugatory, and
Congress in asking it committed a political absurdity. The judiciary
has also given the solemn sanction of its authority to the same view of
the case. The judges of the Supreme Court have included the Southern
States in their circuits, and they are constantly, in banc and
elsewhere, exercising jurisdiction which does not belong to them unless
those States are States of the Union.

If the Southern States are component parts of the Union, the
Constitution is the supreme law for them, as it is for all the other
States. They are bound to obey it, and so are we. The right of the
Federal Government, which is clear and unquestionable, to enforce the
Constitution upon them implies the correlative obligation on our part
to observe its limitations and execute its guaranties. Without the
Constitution we are nothing; by, through, and under the Constitution we
are what it makes us. We may doubt the wisdom of the law, we may not
approve of its provisions, but we can not violate it merely because it
seems to confine our powers within limits narrower than we could wish.
It is not a question of individual or class or sectional interest, much
less of party predominance, but of duty--of high and sacred duty--which
we are all sworn to perform. If we can not support the Constitution
with the cheerful alacrity of those who love and believe in it, we must
give to it at least the fidelity of public servants who act under
solemn obligations and commands which they dare not disregard.

The constitutional duty is not the only one which requires the States
to be restored. There is another consideration which, though of minor
importance, is yet of great weight. On the 22d day of July, 1861,
Congress declared by an almost unanimous vote of both Houses that the
war should be conducted solely for the purpose of preserving the Union
and maintaining the supremacy of the Federal Constitution and laws,
without impairing the dignity, equality, and rights of the States or of
individuals, and that when this was done the war should cease. I do not
say that this declaration is personally binding on those who joined in
making it, any more than individual members of Congress are personally
bound to pay a public debt created under a law for which they voted.
But it was a solemn public, official pledge of the national honor, and
I can not imagine upon what grounds the repudiation of it is to be
justified. If it be said that we are not bound to keep faith with
rebels, let it be remembered that this promise was not made to rebels
only. Thousands of true men in the South were drawn to our standard by
it, and hundreds of thousands in the North gave their lives in the
belief that it would be carried out. It was made on the day after the
first great battle of the war had been fought and lost. All patriotic
and intelligent men then saw the necessity of giving such an assurance,
and believed that without it the war would end in disaster to our
cause. Having given that assurance in the extremity of our peril, the
violation of it now, in the day of our power, would be a rude rending
of that good faith which holds the moral world together; our country
would cease to have any claim upon the confidence of men; it would make
the war not only a failure, but a fraud.

Being sincerely convinced that these views are correct, I would be
unfaithful to my duty if I did not recommend the repeal of the acts of
Congress which place ten of the Southern States under the domination of
military masters. If calm reflection shall satisfy a majority of your
honorable bodies that the acts referred to are not only a violation of
the national faith, but in direct conflict with the Constitution, I
dare not permit myself to doubt that you will immediately strike them
from the statute book.

To demonstrate the unconstitutional character of those acts I need do
no more than refer to their general provisions. It must be seen at once
that they are not authorized. To dictate what alterations shall be made
in the constitutions of the several States; to control the elections of
State legislators and State officers, members of Congress and electors
of President and Vice-President, by arbitrarily declaring who shall
vote and who shall be excluded from that privilege; to dissolve State
legislatures or prevent them from assembling; to dismiss judges and
other civil functionaries of the State and appoint others without
regard to State law; to organize and operate all the political
machinery of the States; to regulate the whole administration of their
domestic and local affairs according to the mere will of strange and
irresponsible agents, sent among them for that purpose--these are
powers not granted to the Federal Government or to any one of its
branches. Not being granted, we violate our trust by assuming them as
palpably as we would by acting in the face of a positive interdict; for
the Constitution forbids us to do whatever it does not affirmatively
authorize, either by express words or by clear implication. If the
authority we desire to use does not come to us through the
Constitution, we can exercise it only by usurpation, and usurpation is
the most dangerous of political crimes. By that crime the enemies of
free government in all ages have worked out their designs against
public liberty and private right. It leads directly and immediately to
the establishment of absolute rule, for undelegated power is always
unlimited and unrestrained.

The acts of Congress in question are not only objectionable for their
assumption of ungranted power, but many of their provisions are in
conflict with the direct prohibitions of the Constitution. The
Constitution commands that a republican form of government shall be
guaranteed to all the States; that no person shall be deprived of life,
liberty, or property without due process of law, arrested without a
judicial warrant, or punished without a fair trial before an impartial
jury; that the privilege of habeas corpus shall not be denied in time
of peace, and that no bill of attainder shall be passed even against a
single individual. Yet the system of measures established by these acts
of Congress does totally subvert and destroy the form as well as the
substance of republican government in the ten States to which they
apply. It binds them hand and foot in absolute slavery, and subjects
them to a strange and hostile power, more unlimited and more likely to
be abused than any other now known among civilized men. It tramples
down all those rights in which the essence of liberty consists, and
which a free government is always most careful to protect. It denies
the habeas corpus and the trial by jury. Personal freedom, property,
and life, if assailed by the passion, the prejudice, or the rapacity of
the ruler, have no security whatever. It has the effect of a bill of
attainder or bill of pains and penalties, not upon a few individuals,
but upon whole masses, including the millions who inhabit the subject
States, and even their unborn children. These wrongs, being expressly
forbidden, can not be constitutionally inflicted upon any portion of
our people, no matter how they may have come within our jurisdiction,
and no matter whether they live in States, Territories, or districts.

I have no desire to save from the proper and just consequences of their
great crime those who engaged in rebellion against the Government, but
as a mode of punishment the measures under consideration are the most
unreasonable that could be invented. Many of those people are perfectly
innocent; many kept their fidelity to the Union untainted to the last;
many were incapable of any legal offense; a large proportion even of
the persons able to bear arms were forced into rebellion against their
will, and of those who are guilty with their own consent the degrees of
guilt are as various as the shades of their character and temper. But
these acts of Congress confound them all together in one common doom.
Indiscriminate vengeance upon classes, sects, and parties, or upon
whole communities, for offenses committed by a portion of them against
the governments to which they owed obedience was common in the
barbarous ages of the world; but Christianity and civilization have
made such progress that recourse to a punishment so cruel and unjust
would meet with the condemnation of all unprejudiced and right-minded
men. The punitive justice of this age, and especially of this country,
does not consist in stripping whole States of their liberties and
reducing all their people, without distinction, to the condition of
slavery. It deals separately with each individual, confines itself to
the forms of law, and vindicates its own purity by an impartial
examination of every case before a competent judicial tribunal. If this
does not satisfy all our desires with regard to Southern rebels, let us
console ourselves by reflecting that a free Constitution, triumphant in
war and unbroken in peace, is worth far more to us and our children
than the gratification of any present feeling.

I am aware it is assumed that this system of government for the
Southern States is not to be perpetual. It is true this military
government is to be only provisional, but it is through this temporary
evil that a greater evil is to be made perpetual. If the guaranties of
the Constitution can be broken provisionally to serve a temporary
purpose, and in a part only of the country, we can destroy them
everywhere and for all time. Arbitrary measures often change, but they
generally change for the worse. It is the curse of despotism that it
has no halting place. The intermitted exercise of its power brings no
sense of security to its subjects, for they can never know what more
they will be called to endure when its red right hand is armed to
plague them again. Nor is it possible to conjecture how or where power,
unrestrained by law, may seek its next victims. The States that are
still free may be enslaved at any moment; for if the Constitution does
not protect all, it protects none.

It is manifestly and avowedly the object of these laws to confer upon
Negroes the privilege of voting and to disfranchise such a number of
white citizens as will give the former a clear majority at all
elections in the Southern States. This, to the minds of some persons,
is so important that a violation of the Constitution is justified as a
means of bringing it about. The morality is always false which excuses
a wrong because it proposes to accomplish a desirable end. We are not
permitted to do evil that good may come. But in this case the end
itself is evil, as well as the means. The subjugation of the States to
Negro domination would be worse than the military despotism under which
they are now suffering. It was believed beforehand that the people
would endure any amount of military oppression for any length of time
rather than degrade themselves by subjection to the Negro race.
Therefore they have been left without a choice. Negro suffrage was
established by act of Congress, and the military officers were
commanded to superintend the process of clothing the Negro race with
the political privileges torn from white men.

The blacks in the South are entitled to be well and humanely governed,
and to have the protection of just laws for all their rights of person
and property. If it were practicable at this time to give them a
Government exclusively their own, under which they might manage their
own affairs in their own way, it would become a grave question whether
we ought to do so, or whether common humanity would not require us to
save them from themselves. But under the circumstances this is only a
speculative point. It is not proposed merely that they shall govern
themselves, but that they shall rule the white race, make and
administer State laws, elect Presidents and members of Congress, and
shape to a greater or less extent the future destiny of the whole
country. Would such a trust and power be safe in such hands?

The peculiar qualities which should characterize any people who are fit
to decide upon the management of public affairs for a great state have
seldom been combined. It is the glory of white men to know that they
have had these qualities in sufficient measure to build upon this
continent a great political fabric and to preserve its stability for
more than ninety years, while in every other part of the world all
similar experiments have failed. But if anything can be proved by known
facts, if all reasoning upon evidence is not abandoned, it must be
acknowledged that in the progress of nations Negroes have shown less
capacity for government than any other race of people. No independent
government of any form has ever been successful in their hands. On the
contrary, wherever they have been left to their own devices they have
shown a constant tendency to relapse into barbarism. In the Southern
States, however, Congress has undertaken to confer upon them the
privilege of the ballot. Just released from slavery, it may be doubted
whether as a class they know more than their ancestors how to organize
and regulate civil society. Indeed, it is admitted that the blacks of
the South are not only regardless of the rights of property, but so
utterly ignorant of public affairs that their voting can consist in
nothing more than carrying a ballot to the place where they are
directed to deposit it. I need not remind you that the exercise of the
elective franchise is the highest attribute of an American citizen, and
that when guided by virtue, intelligence, patriotism, and a proper
appreciation of our free institutions it constitutes the true basis of
a democratic form of government, in which the sovereign power is lodged
in the body of the people. A trust artificially created, not for its
own sake, but solely as a means of promoting the general welfare, its
influence for good must necessarily depend upon the elevated character
and true allegiance of the elector. It ought, therefore, to be reposed
in none except those who are fitted morally and mentally to administer
it well; for if conferred upon persons who do not justly estimate its
value and who are indifferent as to its results, it will only serve as
a means of placing power in the hands of the unprincipled and
ambitious, and must eventuate in the complete destruction of that
liberty of which it should be the most powerful conservator. I have
therefore heretofore urged upon your attention the great danger--to be
apprehended from an untimely extension of the elective franchise to any
new class in our country, especially when the large majority of that
class, in wielding the power thus placed in their hands, can not be
expected correctly to comprehend the duties and responsibilities which
pertain to suffrage. Yesterday, as it were, 4,000,000 persons were held
in a condition of slavery that had existed for generations; to-day they
are freemen and are assumed by law to be citizens. It can not be
presumed, from their previous condition of servitude, that as a class
they are as well informed as to the nature of our Government as the
intelligent foreigner who makes our land the home of his choice. In the
case of the latter neither a residence of five years and the knowledge
of our institutions which it gives nor attachment to the principles of
the Constitution are the only conditions upon which he can be admitted
to citizenship; he must prove in addition a good moral character, and
thus give reasonable ground for the belief that he will be faithful to
the obligations which he assumes as a citizen of the Republic. Where a
people--the source of all political power--speak by their suffrages
through the instrumentality of the ballot box, it must be carefully
guarded against the control of those who are corrupt in principle and
enemies of free institutions, for it can only become to our political
and social system a safe conductor of healthy popular sentiment when
kept free from demoralizing influences. Controlled through fraud and
usurpation by the designing, anarchy and despotism must inevitably
follow. In the hands of the patriotic and worthy our Government will be
preserved upon the principles of the Constitution inherited from our
fathers. It follows, therefore, that in admitting to the ballot box a
new class of voters not qualified for the exercise of the elective
franchise we weaken our system of government instead of adding to its
strength and durability.

I yield to no one in attachment to that rule of general suffrage which
distinguishes our policy as a nation. But there is a limit, wisely
observed hitherto, which makes the ballot a privilege and a trust, and
which requires of some classes a time suitable for probation and
preparation. To give it indiscriminately to a new class, wholly
unprepared by previous habits and opportunities to perform the trust
which it demands, is to degrade it, and finally to destroy its power,
for it may be safely assumed that no political truth is better
established than that such indiscriminate and all-embracing extension
of popular suffrage must end at last in its destruction. I repeat the
expression of my willingness to join in any plan within the scope of
our constitutional authority which promises to better the condition of
the Negroes in the South, by encouraging them in industry, enlightening
their minds, improving their morals, and giving protection to all their
just rights as freedmen. But the transfer of our political inheritance
to them would, in my opinion, be an abandonment of a duty which we owe
alike to the memory of our fathers and the rights of our children.

The plan of putting the Southern States wholly and the General
Government partially into the hands of Negroes is proposed at a time
peculiarly unpropitious. The foundations of society have been broken up
by civil war. Industry must be reorganized, justice reestablished,
public credit maintained, and order brought out of confusion. To
accomplish these ends would require all the wisdom and virtue of the
great men who formed our institutions originally. I confidently believe
that their descendants will be equal to the arduous task before them,
but it is worse than madness to expect that Negroes will perform it for
us. Certainly we ought not to ask their assistance till we despair of
our own competency.

The great difference between the two races in physical, mental, and
moral characteristics will prevent an amalgamation or fusion of them
together in one homogeneous mass. If the inferior obtains the
ascendency over the other, it will govern with reference only to its
own interests for it will recognize no common interest--and create such
a tyranny as this continent has never yet witnessed. Already the
Negroes are influenced by promises of confiscation and plunder. They
are taught to regard as an enemy every white man who has any respect
for the rights of his own race. If this continues it must become worse
and worse, until all order will be subverted, all industry cease, and
the fertile fields of the South grow up into a wilderness. Of all the
dangers which our nation has yet encountered, none are equal to those
which must result from the success of the effort now making to
Africanize the half of our country.

I would not put considerations of money in competition with justice and
right; but the expenses incident to "reconstruction" under the system
adopted by Congress aggravate what I regard as the intrinsic wrong of
the measure itself. It has cost uncounted millions already, and if
persisted in will add largely to the weight of taxation, already too
oppressive to be borne without just complaint, and may finally reduce
the Treasury of the nation to a condition of bankruptcy. We must not
delude ourselves. It will require a strong standing army and probably
more than $200,000,000 per annum to maintain the supremacy of Negro
governments after they are established. The sum thus thrown away would,
if properly used, form a sinking fund large enough to pay the whole
national debt in less than fifteen years. It is vain to hope that
Negroes will maintain their ascendency themselves. Without military
power they are wholly incapable of holding in subjection the white
people of the South.

I submit to the judgment of Congress whether the public credit may not
be injuriously affected by a system of measures like this. With our
debt and the vast private interests which are complicated with it, we
can not be too cautious of a policy which might by possibility impair
the confidence of the world in our Government. That confidence can only
be retained by carefully inculcating the principles of justice and
honor on the popular mind and by the most scrupulous fidelity to all
our engagements of every sort. Any serious breach of the organic law,
persisted in for a considerable time, can not but create fears for the
stability of our institutions. Habitual violation of prescribed rules,
which we bind ourselves to observe, must demoralize the people. Our
only standard of civil duty being set at naught, the sheet anchor of
our political morality is lost, the public conscience swings from its
moorings and yields to every impulse of passion and interest. If we
repudiate the Constitution, we will not be expected to care much for
mere pecuniary obligations. The violation of such a pledge as we made
on the 22d day of July, 1861, will assuredly diminish the market value
of our other promises. Besides, if we acknowledge that the national
debt was created, not to hold the States in the Union, as the taxpayers
were led to suppose, but to expel them from it and hand them over to be
governed by Negroes, the moral duty to pay it may seem much less clear.
I say it may seem so, for I do not admit that this or any other
argument in favor of repudiation can be entertained as sound; but its
influence on some classes of minds may well be apprehended. The
financial honor of a great commercial nation, largely indebted and with
a republican form of government administered by agents of the popular
choice, is a thing of such delicate texture and the destruction of it
would be followed by such unspeakable calamity that every true patriot
must desire to avoid whatever might expose it to the slightest danger.

The great interests of the country require immediate relief from these
enactments. Business in the South is paralyzed by a sense of general
insecurity, by the terror of confiscation, and the dread of Negro
supremacy. The Southern trade, from which the North would have derived
so great a profit under a government of law, still languishes, and can
never be revived until it ceases to be fettered by the arbitrary power
which makes all its operations unsafe. That rich country--the richest
in natural resources the world ever saw--is worse than lost if it be
not soon placed under the protection of a free constitution. Instead of
being, as it ought to be, a source of wealth and power, it will become
an intolerable burden upon the rest of the nation.

Another reason for retracing our steps will doubtless be seen by
Congress in the late manifestations of public opinion upon this
subject. We live in a country where the popular will always enforces
obedience to itself, sooner or later. It is vain to think of opposing
it with anything short of legal authority backed by overwhelming force.
It can not have escaped your attention that from the day on which
Congress fairly and formally presented the proposition to govern the
Southern States by military force, with a view to the ultimate
establishment of Negro supremacy, every expression of the general
sentiment has been more or less adverse to it. The affections of this
generation can not be detached from the institutions of their
ancestors. Their determination to preserve the inheritance of free
government in their own hands and transmit it undivided and unimpaired
to their own posterity is too strong to be successfully opposed. Every
weaker passion will disappear before that love of liberty and law for
which the American people are distinguished above all others in the

How far the duty of the President "to preserve, protect, and defend the
Constitution" requires him to go in opposing an unconstitutional act of
Congress is a very serious and important question, on which I have
deliberated much and felt extremely anxious to reach a proper
conclusion. Where an act has been passed according to the forms of the
Constitution by the supreme legislative authority, and is regularly
enrolled among the public statutes of the country, Executive resistance
to it, especially in times of high party excitement, would be likely to
produce violent collision between the respective adherents of the two
branches of the Government. This would be simply civil war, and civil
war must be resorted to only as the last remedy for the worst of evils.
Whatever might tend to provoke it should be most carefully avoided. A
faithful and conscientious magistrate will concede very much to honest
error, and something even to perverse malice, before he will endanger
the public peace; and he will not adopt forcible measures, or such as
might lead to force, as long as those which are peaceable remain open
to him or to his constituents. It is true that cases may occur in which
the Executive would be compelled to stand on its rights, and maintain
them regardless of all consequences. If Congress should pass an act
which is not only in palpable conflict with the Constitution, but will
certainly, if carried out, produce immediate and irreparable injury to
the organic structure of the Government, and if there be neither
judicial remedy for the wrongs it inflicts nor power in the people to
protect themselves without the official aid of their elected
defender--if, for instance, the legislative department should pass an
act even through all the forms of law to abolish a coordinate
department of the Government--in such a case the President must take
the high responsibilities of his office and save the life of the nation
at all hazards. The so-called reconstruction acts, though as plainly
unconstitutional as any that can be imagined, were not believed to be
within the class last mentioned. The people were not wholly disarmed of
the power of self-defense. In all the Northern States they still held
in their hands the sacred right of the ballot, and it was safe to
believe that in due time they would come to the rescue of their own
institutions. It gives me pleasure to add that the appeal to our common
constituents was not taken in vain, and that my confidence in their
wisdom and virtue seems not to have been misplaced.

It is well and publicly known that enormous frauds have been
perpetrated on the Treasury and that colossal fortunes have been made
at the public expense. This species of corruption has increased, is
increasing, and if not diminished will soon bring us into total ruin
and disgrace. The public creditors and the taxpayers are alike
interested in an honest administration of the finances, and neither
class will long endure the large-handed robberies of the recent past.
For this discreditable state of things there are several causes. Some
of the taxes are so laid as to present an irresistible temptation to
evade payment. The great sums which officers may win by connivance at
fraud create a pressure which is more than the virtue of many can
withstand, and there can be no doubt that the open disregard of
constitutional obligations avowed by some of the highest and most
influential men in the country has greatly weakened the moral sense of
those who serve in subordinate places. The expenses of the United
States, including interest on the public debt, are more than six times
as much as they were seven years ago. To collect and disburse this vast
amount requires careful supervision as well as systematic vigilance.
The system, never perfected, was much disorganized by the
"tenure-of-office bill," which has almost destroyed official
accountability. The President may be thoroughly convinced that an
officer is incapable, dishonest, or unfaithful to the Constitution, but
under the law which I have named the utmost he can do is to complain to
the Senate and ask the privilege of supplying his place with a better
man. If the Senate be regarded as personally or politically hostile to
the President, it is natural, and not altogether unreasonable, for the
officer to expect that it will take his part as far as possible,
restore him to his place, and give him a triumph over his Executive
superior. The officer has other chances of impunity arising from
accidental defects of evidence, the mode of investigating it, and the
secrecy of the hearing. It is not wonderful that official malfeasance
should become bold in proportion as the delinquents learn to think
themselves safe. I am entirely persuaded that under such a rule the
President can not perform the great duty assigned to him of seeing the
laws faithfully executed, and that it disables him most especially from
enforcing that rigid accountability which is necessary to the due
execution of the revenue laws.

The Constitution invests the President with authority to decide whether
a removal should be made in any given case; the act of Congress
declares in substance that he shall only accuse such as he supposes to
be unworthy of their trust. The Constitution makes him sole judge in
the premises, but the statute takes away his jurisdiction, transfers it
to the Senate, and leaves him nothing but the odious and sometimes
impracticable duty of becoming a prosecutor. The prosecution is to be
conducted before a tribunal whose members are not, like him,
responsible to the whole people, but to separate constituent bodies,
and who may hear his accusation with great disfavor. The Senate is
absolutely without any known standard of decision applicable to such a
case. Its judgment can not be anticipated, for it is not governed by
any rule. The law does not define what shall be deemed good cause for
removal. It is impossible even to conjecture what may or may not be so
considered by the Senate. The nature of the subject forbids clear
proof. If the charge be incapacity, what evidence will support it?
Fidelity to the Constitution may be understood or misunderstood in a
thousand different ways, and by violent party men, in violent party
times, unfaithfulness to the Constitution may even come to be
considered meritorious. If the officer be accused of dishonesty, how
shall it be made out? Will it be inferred from acts unconnected with
public duty, from private history, or from general reputation, or must
the President await the commission of an actual misdemeanor in office?
Shall he in the meantime risk the character and interest of the nation
in the hands of men to whom he can not give his confidence? Must he
forbear his complaint until the mischief is done and can not be
prevented? If his zeal in the public service should impel him to
anticipate the overt act, must he move at the peril of being tried
himself for the offense of slandering his subordinate? In the present
circumstances of the country someone must be held responsible for
official delinquency of every kind. It is extremely difficult to say
where that responsibility should be thrown if it be not left where it
has been placed by the Constitution. But all just men will admit that
the President ought to be entirely relieved from such responsibility if
he can not meet it by reason of restrictions placed by law upon his

The unrestricted power of removal from office is a very great one to be
trusted even to a magistrate chosen by the general suffrage of the
whole people and accountable directly to them for his acts. It is
undoubtedly liable to abuse, and at some periods of our history perhaps
has been abused. If it be thought desirable and constitutional that it
should be so limited as to make the President merely a common informer
against other public agents, he should at least be permitted to act in
that capacity before some open tribunal, independent of party politics,
ready to investigate the merits of every case, furnished with the means
of taking evidence, and bound to decide according to established rules.
This would guarantee the safety of the accuser when he acts in good
faith, and at the same time secure the rights of the other party. I
speak, of course, with all proper respect for the present Senate, but
it does not seem to me that any legislative body can be so constituted
as to insure its fitness for these functions.

It is not the theory of this Government that public offices are the
property of those who hold them. They are given merely as a trust for
the public benefit, sometimes for a fixed period, sometimes during good
behavior, but generally they are liable to be terminated at the
pleasure of the appointing power, which represents the collective
majesty and speaks the will of the people. The forced retention in
office of a single dishonest person may work great injury to the public
interests. The danger to the public service comes not from the power to
remove, but from the power to appoint. Therefore it was that the
framers of the Constitution left the power of removal unrestricted,
while they gave the Senate a fight to reject all appointments which in
its opinion were not fit to be made. A little reflection on this
subject will probably satisfy all who have the good of the country at
heart that our best course is to take the Constitution for our guide,
walk in the path marked out by the founders of the Republic, and obey
the rules made sacred by the observance of our great predecessors.

The present condition of our finances and circulating medium is one to
which your early consideration is invited.

The proportion which the currency of any country should bear to the
whole value of the annual produce circulated by its means is a question
upon which political economists have not agreed. Nor can it be
controlled by legislation, but must be left to the irrevocable laws
which everywhere regulate commerce and trade. The circulating medium
will ever irresistibly flow to those points where it is in greatest
demand. The law of demand and supply is as unerring as that which
regulates the tides of the ocean; and, indeed, currency, like the
tides, has its ebbs and flows throughout the commercial world.

At the beginning of the rebellion the bank-note circulation of the
country amounted to not much more than $200,000,000; now the
circulation of national-bank notes and those known as "legal-tenders"
is nearly seven hundred millions. While it is urged by some that this
amount should be increased, others contend that a decided reduction is
absolutely essential to the best interests of the country. In view of
these diverse opinions, it may be well to ascertain the real value of
our paper issues when compared with a metallic or convertible currency.
For this purpose let us inquire how much gold and silver could be
purchased by the seven hundred millions of paper money now in
circulation. Probably not more than half the amount of the latter,
showing that when our paper currency is compared with gold and silver
its commercial value is compressed into three hundred and fifty
millions. This striking fact makes it the obvious duty of the
Government, as early as may be consistent with the principles of sound
political economy, to take such measures as will enable the holder of
its notes and those of the national banks to convert them without loss
into specie or its equivalent. A reduction of our paper circulating
medium need not necessarily follow. This, however, would depend upon
the law of demand and supply, though it should be borne in mind that by
making legal-tender and bank notes convertible into coin or its
equivalent their present specie value in the hands of their holders
would be enhanced 100 per cent.

Legislation for the accomplishment of a result so desirable is demanded
by the highest public considerations. The Constitution contemplates
that the circulating medium of the country shall be uniform in quality
and value. At the time of the formation of that instrument the country
had just emerged from the War of the Revolution, and was suffering from
the effects of a redundant and worthless paper currency. The sages of
that period were anxious to protect their posterity from the evils that
they themselves had experienced. Hence in providing a circulating
medium they conferred upon Congress the power to coin money and
regulate the value thereof, at the same time prohibiting the States
from making anything but gold and silver a tender in payment of debts.

The anomalous condition of our currency is in striking contrast with
that which was originally designed. Our circulation now embraces,
first, notes of the national banks, which are made receivable for all
dues to the Government, excluding imposts, and by all its creditors,
excepting in payment of interest upon its bonds and the securities
themselves; second, legal-tender notes, issued by the United States,
and which the law requires shall be received as well in payment of all
debts between citizens as of all Government dues, excepting imposts;
and, third, gold and silver coin. By the operation of our present
system of finance, however, the metallic currency, when collected, is
reserved only for one class of Government creditors, who, holding its
bonds, semiannually receive their interest in coin from the National
Treasury. They are thus made to occupy an invidious position, which may
be used to strengthen the arguments of those who would bring into
disrepute the obligations of the nation. In the payment of all its
debts the plighted faith of the Government should be inviolably
maintained. But while it acts with fidelity toward the bondholder who
loaned his money that the integrity of the Union might be preserved, it
should at the same time observe good faith with the great masses of the
people, who, having rescued the Union from the perils of rebellion, now
bear the burdens of taxation, that the Government may be able to
fulfill its engagements. There is no reason which will be accepted as
satisfactory by the people why those who defend us on the land and
protect us on the sea; the pensioner upon the gratitude of the nation,
bearing the scars and wounds received while in its service; the public
servants in the various Departments of the Government; the farmer who
supplies the soldiers of the Army and the sailors of the Navy; the
artisan who toils in the nation's workshops, or the mechanics and
laborers who build its edifices and construct its forts and vessels of
war, should, in payment of their just and hard-earned dues, receive
depreciated paper, while another class of their countrymen, no more
deserving, are paid in coin of gold and silver. Equal and exact justice
requires that all the creditors of the Government should be paid in a
currency possessing a uniform value. This can only be accomplished by
the restoration of the currency to the standard established by the
Constitution; and by this means we would remove a discrimination which
may, if it has not already done so, create a prejudice that may become
deep rooted and widespread and imperil the national credit.

The feasibility of making our currency correspond with the
constitutional standard may be seen by reference to a few facts derived
from our commercial statistics.

The production of precious metals in the United States from 1849 to
1857, inclusive, amounted to $579,000,000; from 1858 to 1860,
inclusive, to $137,500,000, and from 1861 to 1867, inclusive, to
$457,500,000--making the grand aggregate of products since 1849
$1,174,000,000. The amount of specie coined from 1849 to 1857
inclusive, was $439,000,000; from 1858 to 1860, inclusive,
$125,000,000, and from 1861 to 1867, inclusive, $310,000,000--making
the total coinage since 1849 $874,000,000. From 1849 to 1857,
inclusive, the net exports of specie amounted to $271,000,000; from
1858 to 1860, inclusive, to $148,000,000, and from 1861 to 1867,
inclusive, $322,000,000--making the aggregate of net exports since 1849
$741,000,000. These figures show an excess of product over net exports
of $433,000,000. There are in the Treasury $111,000,000 in coin,
something more than $40,000,000 in circulation on the Pacific Coast,
and a few millions in the national and other banks--in all about
$160,000,000. This, however, taking into account the specie in the
country prior to 1849 leaves more than $300,000,000 which have not been
accounted for by exportation, and therefore may yet remain in the

These are important facts and show how completely the inferior currency
will supersede the better, forcing it from circulation among the masses
and causing it to be exported as a mere article of trade, to add to the
money capital of foreign lands. They show the necessity of retiring our
paper money, that the return of gold and silver to the avenues of trade
may be invited and a demand created which will cause the retention at
home of at least so much of the productions of our rich and
inexhaustible gold-bearing fields as may be sufficient for purposes of
circulation. It is unreasonable to expect a return to a sound currency
so long as the Government by continuing to issue irredeemable notes
fills the channels of circulation with depreciated paper.
Notwithstanding a coinage by our mints, since 1849, of $874,000,000,
the people are now strangers to the currency which was designed for
their use and benefit, and specimens of the precious metals bearing the
national device are seldom seen, except when produced to gratify the
interest excited by their novelty. If depreciated paper is to be
continued as the permanent currency of the country, and all our coin is
to become a mere article of traffic and speculation, to the enhancement
in price of all that is indispensable to the comfort of the people, it
would be wise economy to abolish our mints thus saving the nation the
care and expense incident to such establishments, and let all our
precious metals be exported in bullion. The time has come, however,
when the Government and national banks should be required to take the
most efficient steps and make all necessary arrangements for a
resumption of specie payments at the earliest practicable period.
Specie payments having been once resumed by the Government and banks,
all notes or bills of paper issued by either of a less denomination
than $20 should by law be excluded from circulation, so that the people
may have the benefit and convenience of a gold and silver currency
which in all their business transactions will be uniform in value at
home and abroad. Every man of property or industry, every man who
desires to preserve what he honestly possesses or to obtain what he can
honestly earn, has a direct interest in maintaining a safe circulating
medium--such a medium as shall be real and substantial, not liable to
vibrate with opinions, not subject to be blown up or blown down by the
breath of speculation, but to be made stable and secure. A disordered
currency is one of the greatest political evils. It undermines the
virtues necessary for the support of the social system and encourages
propensities destructive of its happiness; it wars against industry,
frugality, and economy, and it fosters the evil spirits of extravagance
and speculation. It has been asserted by one of our profound and most
gifted statesmen that--Of all the contrivances for cheating the
laboring classes of mankind, none has been more effectual than that
which deludes them with paper money. This is the most effectual of
inventions to fertilize the rich man's fields by the sweat of the poor
man's brow. Ordinary tyranny, oppression, excessive taxation--these
bear lightly on the happiness of the mass of the community compared
with a fraudulent currency and the robberies committed by depreciated
paper. Our own history has recorded for our instruction enough, and
more than enough, of the demoralizing tendency, the injustice, and the
intolerable oppression on the virtuous and well disposed of a degraded
paper currency authorized by law or in any way countenanced by
government. It is one of the most successful devices, in times of peace
or war, expansions or revulsions, to accomplish the transfer of all the
precious metals from the great mass of the people into the hands of the
few, where they are hoarded in secret places or deposited in strong
boxes under bolts and bars, while the people are left to endure all the
inconvenience, sacrifice, and demoralization resulting from the use of
a depreciated and worthless paper money.

The condition of our finances and the operations of our revenue system
are set forth and fully explained in the able and instructive report of
the Secretary of the Treasury. On the 30th of June, 1866, the public
debt amounted to $2,783,425,879; on the 30th of June last it was
$2,692,199,215, showing a reduction during the fiscal year of
$91,226,664. During the fiscal year ending June 30, 1867, the receipts
were $490,634,010 and the expenditures $346,729,129, leaving an
available surplus of $143,904,880. It is estimated that the receipts
for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1868, will be $417,161,928 and that
the expenditures will reach the sum of $393,269,226, leaving in the
Treasury a surplus of $23,892,702. For the fiscal year ending June 30,
1869, it is estimated that the receipts will amount to $381,000,000 and
that the expenditures will be $372,000,000, showing an excess of
$9,000,000 in favor of the Government.

The attention of Congress is earnestly invited to the necessity of a
thorough revision of our revenue system. Our internal-revenue laws and
impost system should be so adjusted as to bear most heavily on articles
of luxury, leaving the necessaries of life as free from taxation as may
be consistent with the real wants of the Government, economically
administered. Taxation would not then fall unduly on the man of
moderate means; and while none would be entirely exempt from
assessment, all, in proportion to their pecuniary abilities, would
contribute toward the support of the State. A modification of the
internal-revenue system, by a large reduction in the number of articles
now subject to tax, would be followed by results equally advantageous
to the citizen and the Government. It would render the execution of the
law less expensive and more certain, remove obstructions to industry,
lessen the temptations to evade the law, diminish the violations and
frauds perpetrated upon its provisions, make its operations less
inquisitorial, and greatly reduce in numbers the army of taxgatherers
created by the system, who "take from the mouth of honest labor the
bread it has earned." Retrenchment, reform, and economy should be
carried into every branch of the public service, that the expenditures
of the Government may be reduced and the people relieved from
oppressive taxation; a sound currency should be restored, and the
public faith in regard to the national debt sacredly observed. The
accomplishment of these important results, together with the
restoration of the Union of the States upon the principles of the
Constitution, would inspire confidence at home and abroad in the
stability of our institutions and bring to the nation prosperity,
peace, and good will.

The report of the Secretary of War ad interim exhibits the operations
of the Army and of the several bureaus of the War Department. The
aggregate strength of our military force on the 30th of September last
was 56,315. The total estimate for military appropriations is
$77,124,707, including a deficiency in last year's appropriation of
$13,600,000. The payments at the Treasury on account of the service of
the War Department from January 1 to October 29, 1867--a period of ten
months--amounted to $109,807,000. The expenses of the military
establishment, as well as the numbers of the Army, are now three times
as great as they have ever been in time of peace, while the
discretionary, power is vested in the Executive to add millions to this
expenditure by an increase of the Army to the maximum strength allowed
by the law.

The comprehensive report of the Secretary of the Interior furnishes
interesting information in reference to the important branches of the
public service connected with his Department. The menacing attitude of
some of the warlike bands of Indians inhabiting the district of country
between the Arkansas and Platte rivers and portions of Dakota Territory
required the presence of a large military force in that region.
Instigated by real or imaginary grievances, the Indians occasionally
committed acts of barbarous violence upon emigrants and our frontier
settlements; but a general Indian war has been providentially averted.
The commissioners under the act of 20th July, 1867, were invested with
full power to adjust existing difficulties, negotiate treaties with the
disaffected bands, and select for them reservations remote from the
traveled routes between the Mississippi and the Pacific. They entered
without delay upon the execution of their trust, but have not yet made
any official report of their proceedings. It is of vital importance
that our distant Territories should be exempt from Indian outbreaks,
and that the construction of the Pacific Railroad, an object of
national importance, should not be interrupted by hostile tribes. These
objects, as well as the material interests and the moral and
intellectual improvement of the Indians, can be most effectually
secured by concentrating them upon portions of country set apart for
their exclusive use and located at points remote from our highways and
encroaching white settlements.

Since the commencement of the second session of the Thirty-ninth
Congress 510 miles of road have been constructed on the main line and
branches of the Pacific Railway. The line from Omaha is rapidly
approaching the eastern base of the Rocky Mountains, while the terminus
of the last section of constructed road in California, accepted by the
Government on the 24th day of October last, was but 11 miles distant
from the summit of the Sierra Nevada. The remarkable energy evinced by
the companies offers the strongest assurance that the completion of the
road from Sacramento to Omaha will not be long deferred.

During the last fiscal year 7,041,114 acres of public land were
disposed of, and the cash receipts from sales and fees exceeded by
one-half million dollars the sum realized from those sources during the
preceding year. The amount paid to pensioners, including expenses of
disbursements, was $18,619,956, and 36,482 names were added to the
rolls. The entire number of pensioners on the 30th of June last was
155,474. Eleven thousand six hundred and fifty-five patents and designs
were issued during the year ending September 30, 1867, and at that date
the balance in the Treasury to the credit of the patent fund was

The report of the Secretary of the Navy states that we have seven
squadrons actively and judiciously employed, under efficient and able
commanders, in protecting the persons and property of American
citizens, maintaining the dignity and power of the Government, and
promoting the commerce and business interests of our countrymen in
every part of the world. Of the 238 vessels composing the present Navy
of the United States, 56, carrying 507 guns, are in squadron service.
During the year the number of vessels in commission has been reduced
12, and there are 13 less on squadron duty than there were at the date
of the last report. A large number of vessels were commenced and in the
course of construction when the war terminated, and although Congress
had made the necessary appropriations for their completion, the
Department has either suspended work upon them or limited the slow
completion of the steam vessels, so as to meet the contracts for
machinery made with private establishments. The total expenditures of
the Navy Department for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1867, were
$31,034,011. No appropriations have been made or required since the
close of the war for the construction and repair of vessels, for steam
machinery, ordnance, provisions and clothing, fuel, hemp, etc., the
balances under these several heads having been more than sufficient for
current expenditures. It should also be stated to the credit of the
Department that, besides asking no appropriations for the above objects
for the last two years, the Secretary of the Navy, on the 30th of
September last, in accordance with the act of May 1, 1820, requested
the Secretary of the Treasury to carry to the surplus fund the sum of
$65,000.000, being the amount received from the sales of vessels and
other war property and the remnants of former appropriations.

The report of the Postmaster-General shows the business of the
Post-Office Department and the condition of the postal service in a
very favorable light, and the attention of Congress is called to its
practical recommendations. The receipts of the Department for the year
ending June 30, 1867, including all special appropriations for sea and
land service and for free mail matter, were $19,978,693. The
expenditures for all purposes were $19,235,483, leaving an unexpended
balance in favor of the Department of $743,210, which can be applied
toward the expenses of the Department for the current year. The
increase of postal revenue, independent of specific appropriations, for
the year 1867 over that of 1866 was $850,040. The increase of revenue
from the sale of stamps and stamped envelopes was $783,404. The
increase of expenditures for 1867 over those of the previous year was
owing chiefly to the extension of the land and ocean mail service.
During the past year new postal conventions have been ratified and
exchanged with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland,
Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the North German Union, Italy,
and the colonial government at Hong Kong, reducing very largely the
rates of ocean and land postages to and from and within those

The report of the Acting Commissioner of Agriculture concisely presents
the condition, wants, and progress of an interest eminently worthy the
fostering care of Congress, and exhibits a large measure of useful
results achieved during the year to which it refers.

The reestablishment of peace at home and the resumption of extended
trade, travel, and commerce abroad have served to increase the number
and variety of questions in the Department for Foreign Affairs. None of
these questions, however, have seriously disturbed our relations with
other states.

The Republic of Mexico, having been relieved from foreign intervention,
is earnestly engaged in efforts to reestablish her constitutional
system of government. A good understanding continues to exist between
our Government and the Republics of Hayti and San Domingo, and our
cordial relations with the Central and South American States remain
unchanged. The tender, made in conformity with a resolution of
Congress, of the good offices of the Government with a view to an
amicable adjustment of peace between Brazil and her allies on one side
and Paraguay on the other, and between Chile and her allies on the one
side and Spain on the other, though kindly received, has in neither
case been fully accepted by the belligerents. The war in the valley of
the Parana is still vigorously maintained. On the other hand, actual
hostilities between the Pacific States and Spain have been more than a
year suspended. I shall, on any proper occasion that may occur, renew
the conciliatory recommendations which have been already made. Brazil,
with enlightened sagacity and comprehensive statesmanship, has opened
the great channels of the Amazon and its tributaries to universal
commerce. One thing more seems needful to assure a rapid and cheering
progress in South America. I refer to those peaceful habits without
which states and nations can not in this age well expect material
prosperity or social advancement.

The Exposition of Universal Industry at Paris has passed, and seems to
have fully realized the high expectations of the French Government. If
due allowance be made for the recent political derangement of industry
here, the part which the United States has borne in this exhibition of
invention and art may be regarded with very high satisfaction. During
the exposition a conference was held of delegates from several nations,
the United States being one, in which the inconveniences of commerce
and social intercourse resulting from the diverse standards of money
value were very fully discussed, and plans were developed for
establishing by universal consent a common principle for the coinage of
gold. These conferences are expected to be renewed, with the attendance
of many foreign states not hitherto represented. A report of these
interesting proceedings will be submitted to Congress, which will, no
doubt, justly appreciate the great object and be ready to adopt any
measure which may tend to facilitate its ultimate accomplishment.

On the 25th of February, 1862, Congress declared by law that Treasury
notes, without interest, authorized by that act should be legal tender
in payment of all debts, public and private, within the United States.
An annual remittance of $30,000, less stipulated expenses, accrues to
claimants under the convention made with Spain in 1834. These
remittances, since the passage of that act, have been paid in such
notes. The claimants insist that the Government ought to require
payment in coin. The subject may be deemed worthy of your attention.

No arrangement has yet been reached for the settlement of our claims
for British depredations upon the commerce of the United States. I have
felt it my duty to decline the proposition of arbitration made by Her
Majesty's Government, because it has hitherto been accompanied by
reservations and limitations incompatible with the rights, interest,
and honor of our country. It is not to be apprehended that Great
Britain will persist in her refusal to satisfy these just and
reasonable claims, which involve the sacred principle of
nonintervention--a principle henceforth not more important to the
United States than to all other commercial nations.

The West India islands were settled and colonized by European States
simultaneously with the settlement and colonization of the American
continent. Most of the colonies planted here became independent nations
in the close of the last and the beginning of the present century. Our
own country embraces communities which at one period were colonies of
Great Britain, France, Spain, Holland, Sweden, and Russia. The people
in the West Indies, with the exception of those of the island of Hayti,
have neither attained nor aspired to independence, nor have they become
prepared for self-defense. Although possessing considerable commercial
value, they have been held by the several European States which
colonized or at some time conquered them, chiefly for purposes of
military and naval strategy in carrying out European policy and designs
in regard to this continent. In our Revolutionary War ports and harbors
in the West India islands were used by our enemy, to the great injury
and embarrassment of the United States. We had the same experience in
our second war with Great Britain. The same European policy for a long
time excluded us even from trade with the West Indies, while we were at
peace with all nations. In our recent civil war the rebels and their
piratical and blockade-breaking allies found facilities in the same
ports for the work, which they too successfully accomplished, of
injuring and devastating the commerce which we are now engaged in
rebuilding. We labored especially under this disadvantage, that
European steam vessels employed by our enemies found friendly shelter,
protection, and supplies in West Indian ports, while our naval
operations were necessarily carried on from our own distant shores.
There was then a universal feeling of the want of an advanced naval
outpost between the Atlantic coast and Europe. The duty of obtaining
such an outpost peacefully and lawfully, while neither doing nor
menacing injury to other states, earnestly engaged the attention of the
executive department before the close of the war, and it has not been
lost sight of since that time. A not entirely dissimilar naval want
revealed itself during the same period on the Pacific coast. The
required foothold there was fortunately secured by our late treaty with
the Emperor of Russia, and it now seems imperative that the more
obvious necessities of the Atlantic coast should not be less carefully
provided for. A good and convenient port and harbor, capable of easy
defense, will supply that want. With the possession of such a station
by the United States, neither we nor any other American nation need
longer apprehend injury or offense from any transatlantic enemy. I
agree with our early statesmen that the West Indies naturally gravitate
to, and may be expected ultimately to be absorbed by, the continental
States, including our own. I agree with them also that it is wise to
leave the question of such absorption to this process of natural
political gravitation. The islands of St. Thomas and St. John, which
constitute a part of the group called the Virgin Islands, seemed to
offer us advantages immediately desirable, while their acquisition
could be secured in harmony with the principles to which I have
alluded. A treaty has therefore been concluded with the King of Denmark
for the cession of those islands, and will be submitted to the Senate
for consideration.

It will hardly be necessary to call the attention of Congress to the
subject of providing for the payment to Russia of the sum stipulated in
the treaty for the cession of Alaska. Possession having been formally
delivered to our commissioner, the territory remains for the present in
care of a military force, awaiting such civil organization as shall be
directed by Congress.

The annexation of many small German States to Prussia and the
reorganization of that country under a new and liberal constitution
have induced me to renew the effort to obtain a just and prompt
settlement of the long-vexed question concerning the claims of foreign
states for military service from their subjects naturalized in the
United States.

In connection with this subject the attention of Congress is
respectfully called to a singular and embarrassing conflict of laws.
The executive department of this Government has hitherto uniformly
held, as it now holds, that naturalization in conformity with the
Constitution and laws of the United States absolves the recipient from
his native allegiance. The courts of Great Britain hold that allegiance
to the British Crown is indefensible, and is not absolved by our laws
of naturalization. British judges cite courts and law authorities of
the United States in support of that theory against the position held
by the executive authority of the United States. This conflict
perplexes the public mind concerning the rights of naturalized citizens
and impairs the national authority abroad. I called attention to this
subject in my last annual message, and now again respectfully appeal to
Congress to declare the national will unmistakably upon this important

The abuse of our laws by the clandestine prosecution of the African
slave trade from American ports or by American citizens has altogether
ceased, and under existing circumstances no apprehensions of its
renewal in this part of the world are entertained. Under these
circumstances it becomes a question whether we shall not propose to Her
Majesty's Government a suspension or discontinuance of the stipulations
for maintaining a naval force for the suppression of that trade.


State of the Union Address
Andrew Johnson
December 9, 1868

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

Upon the reassembling of Congress it again becomes my duty to call your
attention to the state of the Union and to its continued disorganized
condition under the various laws which have been passed upon the
subject of reconstruction.

It may be safely assumed as an axiom in the government of states that
the greatest wrongs inflicted upon a people are caused by unjust and
arbitrary legislation, or by the unrelenting decrees of despotic
rulers, and that the timely revocation of injurious and oppressive
measures is the greatest good that can be conferred upon a nation. The
legislator or ruler who has the wisdom and magnanimity to retrace his
steps when convinced of error will sooner or later be rewarded with the
respect and gratitude of an intelligent and patriotic people.

Our own history, although embracing a period less than a century,
affords abundant proof that most, if not all, of our domestic troubles
are directly traceable to violations of the organic law and excessive
legislation. The most striking illustrations of this fact are furnished
by the enactments of the past three years upon the question of
reconstruction. After a fair trial they have substantially failed and
proved pernicious in their results, and there seems to be no good
reason why they should longer remain upon the statute book. States to
which the Constitution guarantees a republican form of government have
been reduced to military dependencies in each of which the people have
been made subject to the arbitrary will of the commanding general.
Although the Constitution requires that each State shall be represented
in Congress, Virginia, Mississippi, and Texas are yet excluded from the
two Houses, and, contrary to the express provisions of that instrument
were denied participation in the recent election for a President and
Vice-President of the United States. The attempt to place the white
population under the domination of persons of color in the South has
impaired, if not destroyed, the kindly relations that had previously
existed between them: and mutual distrust has engendered a feeling of
animosity which leading in some instances to collision and bloodshed,
has prevented that cooperation between the two races so essential to
the success of industrial enterprise in the Southern States. Nor have
the inhabitants of those States alone suffered from the disturbed
condition of affairs growing out of these Congressional enactments. The
entire Union has been agitated by grave apprehensions of troubles which
might again involve the peace of the nation; its interests have been
injuriously affected by the derangement of business and labor, and the
consequent want of prosperity throughout that portion of the country.

The Federal Constitution--the magna charta of American rights, under
whose wise and salutary provisions we have successfully conducted all
our domestic and foreign affairs, sustained ourselves in peace and in
war, and become a great nation among the powers of the earth--must
assuredly be now adequate to the settlement of questions growing out of
the civil war, waged alone for its vindication. This great fact is made
most manifest by the condition of the country when Congress assembled
in the month of December, 1865. Civil strife had ceased, the spirit of
rebellion had spent its entire force, in the Southern States the people
had warmed into national life, and throughout the whole country a
healthy reaction in public sentiment had taken place. By the
application of the simple yet effective provisions of the Constitution
the executive department, with the voluntary aid of the States, had
brought the work of restoration as near completion as was within the
scope of its authority, and the nation was encouraged by the prospect
of an early and satisfactory adjustment of all its difficulties.
Congress, however, intervened, and, refusing to perfect the work so
nearly consummated, declined to admit members from the unrepresented
States, adopted a series of measures which arrested the progress of
restoration, frustrated all that had been so successfully accomplished,
and, after three years of agitation and strife, has left the country
further from the attainment of union and fraternal feeling than at the
inception of the Congressional plan of reconstruction. It needs no
argument to show that legislation which has produced such baneful
consequences should be abrogated, or else made to conform to the
genuine principles of republican government.

Under the influence of party passion and sectional prejudice, other
acts have been passed not warranted by the Constitution. Congress has
already been made familiar with my views respecting the
"tenure-of-office bill." Experience has proved that its repeal is
demanded by the best interests of the country, and that while it
remains in force the President can not enjoin that rigid accountability
of public officers so essential to an honest and efficient execution of
the laws. Its revocation would enable the executive department to
exercise the power of appointment and removal in accordance with the
original design of the Federal Constitution.

The act of March 2, 1867, making appropriations for the support of the
Army for the year ending June 30, 1868, and for other purposes,
contains provisions which interfere with the President's constitutional
functions as Commander in Chief of the Army and deny to States of the
Union the right to protect themselves by means of their own militia.
These provisions should be at once annulled; for while the first might,
in times of great emergency, seriously embarrass the Executive in
efforts to employ and direct the common strength of the nation for its
protection and preservation, the other is contrary to the express
declaration of the Constitution that "a well-regulated militia being
necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to
keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

It is believed that the repeal of all such laws would be accepted by
the American people as at least a partial return to the fundamental
principles of the Government, and an indication that hereafter the
Constitution is to be made the nation's safe and unerring guide. They
can be productive of no permanent benefit to the country, and should
not be permitted to stand as so many monuments of the deficient wisdom
which has characterized our recent legislation.

The condition of our finances demands the early and earnest
consideration of Congress. Compared with the growth of our population,
the public expenditures have reached an amount unprecedented in our

The population of the United States in 1790 was nearly 4,000,000
people. Increasing each decade about 33 per cent, it reached in 1860
31,000,000, an increase of 700 per cent on the population in 1790. In
1869 it is estimated that it will reach 38,000,000, or an increase of
868 per cent in seventy-nine years.

The annual expenditures of the Federal Government in 1791 were
$4,200,000; in 1820, $18.200,000; in 1850, forty-one millions; in 1860,
sixty-three millions; in 1865, nearly thirteen hundred millions; and in
1869 it is estimated by the Secretary of the Treasury, in his last
annual report, that they will be three hundred and seventy-two

By comparing the public disbursements of 1869, as estimated, with those
of 1791, it will be seen that the increase of expenditure since the
beginning of the Government has been 8,618 per cent, while the increase
of the population for the same period was only 868 per cent. Again, the
expenses of the Government in 1860, the year of peace immediately
preceding the war, were only sixty--three millions, while in 1869, the
year of peace three years after the war it is estimated they will be
three hundred and seventy-two millions, an increase of 489 per cent,
while the increase of population was only 21 per cent for the same

These statistics further show that in 1791 the annual national
expenses, compared with the population, were little more than $1 per
capita, and in 1860 but $2 per capita; while in 1869 they will reach
the extravagant sum of $9.78 per capita.

It will be observed that all these statements refer to and exhibit the
disbursements of peace periods. It may, therefore, be of interest to
compare the expenditures of the three war periods--the war with Great
Britain, the Mexican War, and the War of the Rebellion.

In 1814 the annual expenses incident to the War of 1812 reached their
highest amount--about thirty-one millions--while our population
slightly exceeded 8,000,000, showing an expenditure of only $3.80 per
capita. In 1847 the expenditures growing out of the war with Mexico
reached fifty-five millions, and the population about 21,000,000,
giving only $2.60 per capita for the war expenses of that year. In 1865
the expenditures called for by the rebellion reached the vast amount of
twelve hundred and ninety millions, which, compared with a population
of 34,000,000, gives $38.20 per capita.

From the 4th day of March, 1789, to the 30th of June, 1861, the entire
expenditures of the Government were $1,700,000,000. During that period
we were engaged in wars with Great Britain and Mexico, and were
involved in hostilities with powerful Indian tribes; Louisiana was
purchased from France at a cost of $15,000,000; Florida was ceded to us
by Spain for five millions; California was acquired from Mexico for
fifteen millions, and the territory of New Mexico was obtained from
Texas for the sum of ten millions. Early in 1861 the War of the
Rebellion commenced; and from the 1st of July of that year to the 30th
of June, 1865, the public expenditures reached the enormous aggregate
of thirty-three hundred millions. Three years of peace have intervened,
and during that time the disbursements of the Government have
successively been five hundred and twenty millions, three hundred and
forty-six millions, and three hundred and ninety-three millions. Adding
to these amounts three hundred and seventy-two millions, estimated as
necessary for the fiscal year ending the 30th of June, 1869, we obtain
a total expenditure of $1,600,000,000 during the four years immediately
succeeding the war, or nearly as much as was expended during the
seventy-two years that preceded the rebellion and embraced the
extraordinary expenditures already named.

These startling facts clearly illustrate the necessity of retrenchment
in all branches of the public service. Abuses which were tolerated
during the war for the preservation of the nation will not be endured
by the people, now that profound peace prevails. The receipts from
internal revenues and customs have during the past three years
gradually diminished, and the continuance of useless and extravagant
expenditures will involve us in national bankruptcy, or else make
inevitable an increase of taxes already too onerous and in many
respects obnoxious on account of their inquisitorial character. One
hundred millions annually are expended for the military force, a large
portion of which is employed in the execution of laws both unnecessary
and unconstitutional; one hundred and fifty millions are required each
year to pay the interest on the public debt: an army of taxgatherers
impoverishes the nation, and public agents, placed by Congress beyond
the control of the Executive, divert from their legitimate purposes
large sums of money which they collect from the people in the name of
the Government. Judicious legislation and prudent economy can alone
remedy defects and avert evils which, if suffered to exist, can not
fail to diminish confidence in the public councils and weaken the
attachment and respect of the people toward their political
institutions. Without proper care the small balance which it is
estimated will remain in the Treasury at the close of the present
fiscal year will not be realized, and additional millions be added to a
debt which is now enumerated by billions.

It is shown by the able and comprehensive report of the Secretary of
the Treasury that the receipts for the fiscal year ending June 30,
1868, were $405,638,083, and that the expenditures for the same period
were $377,340,284, leaving in the Treasury a surplus of $28,297,798. It
is estimated that the receipts during the present fiscal year, ending
June 30, 1869, will be $341,392,868 and the expenditures $336,152,470,
showing a small balance of $5,240,398 in favor of the Government. For
the fiscal year ending June 30, 1870, it is estimated that the receipts
will amount to $327,000,000 and the expenditures to $303,000,000,
leaving an estimated surplus of $24,000,000.

It becomes proper in this connection to make a brief reference to our
public indebtedness, which has accumulated with such alarming rapidity
and assumed such colossal proportions.

In 1789, when the Government commenced operations under the Federal
Constitution, it was burdened with an indebtedness of $75,000,000,
created during the War of the Revolution. This amount had been reduced
to $45,000,000 when, in 1812, war was declared against Great Britain.
The three years' struggle that followed largely increased the national
obligations, and in 1816 they had attained the sum of $127,000,000.
Wise and economical legislation, however, enabled the Government to pay
the entire amount within a period of twenty years, and the
extinguishment of the national debt filled the land with rejoicing and
was one of the great events of President Jackson's Administration.
After its redemption a large fund remained in the Treasury, which was
deposited for safe-keeping with the several States. on condition that
it should be returned when required by the public wants. In 1849--the
year after the termination of an expensive war with Mexico--we found
ourselves involved in a debt of $64,000,000; and this was the amount
owed by the Government in 1860, just prior to the outbreak of the
rebellion. In the spring of 1861 our civil war commenced. Each year of
its continuance made an enormous addition to the debt: and when in the
spring of 1865, the nation successfully emerged from the conflict, the
obligations of the Government had reached the immense sum of
$2.873,992,909. The Secretary of the Treasury shows that on the 1st day
of November, 1867, this amount had been reduced to $2,491,504,450; but
at the same time his report exhibits an increase during the past year
of $35,625,102, for the debt on the 1st day of November last is stated
to have been $2,527,129,552. It is estimated by the Secretary that the
returns for the past month will add to our liabilities the further sum
of $11,000,000, making a total increase during thirteen months of

In my message to Congress December 4, 1865, it was suggested that a
policy should be devised which, without being oppressive to the people,
would at once begin to effect a reduction of the debt, and, if
persisted in, discharge it fully within a definite number of years. The
Secretary of the Treasury forcibly recommends legislation of this
character, and justly urges that the longer it is deferred the more
difficult must become its accomplishment. We should follow the wise
precedents established in 1789 and 1816, and without further delay make
provision for the payment of our obligations at as early a period as
may be practicable. The fruits of their labors should be enjoyed by our
citizens rather than used to build up and sustain moneyed monopolies in
our own and other lands. Our foreign debt is already computed by the
Secretary of the Treasury at $850,000,000; citizens of foreign
countries receive interest upon a large portion of our securities, and
American taxpayers are made to contribute large sums for their support.
The idea that such a debt is to become permanent should be at all times
discarded as involving taxation too heavy to be borne, and payment once
in every sixteen years, at the present rate of interest, of an amount
equal to the original sum. This vast debt, if permitted to become
permanent and increasing, must eventually be gathered into the hands of
a few, and enable them to exert a dangerous and controlling power in
the affairs of the Government. The borrowers would become servants to
the lenders, the lenders the masters of the people. We now pride
ourselves upon having given freedom to 4,000,000 of the colored race;
it will then be our shame that 40,000,000 of people, by their own
toleration of usurpation and profligacy, have suffered themselves to
become enslaved, and merely exchanged slave owners for new taskmasters
in the shape of bondholders and taxgatherers. Besides, permanent debts
pertain to monarchical governments, and, tending to monopolies,
perpetuities, and class legislation, are totally irreconcilable with
free institutions introduced into our republican system, they would
gradually but surely sap its foundations, eventually subvert our
governmental fabric, and erect upon its ruins a moneyed aristocracy. It
is our sacred duty to transmit unimpaired to our posterity the
blessings of liberty which were bequeathed to us by the founders of the
Republic. and by our example teach those who are to follow us carefully
to avoid the dangers which threaten a free and independent people.

Various plans have been proposed for the payment of the public debt.
However they may have varied as to the time and mode in which it should
be redeemed, there seems to be a general concurrence as to the
propriety and justness of a reduction in the present rate of interest.
The Secretary of the Treasury in his report recommends 5 per cent;
Congress, in a bill passed prior to adjournment on the 27th of July
last, agreed upon 4 and 4 1/2 per cent; while by many 3 per cent has
been held to be an amply sufficient return for the investment. The
general impression as to the exorbitancy of the existing rate of
interest has led to an inquiry in the public mind respecting the
consideration which the Government has actually received for its bonds,
and the conclusion is becoming prevalent that the amount which it
obtained was in real money three or four hundred per cent less than the
obligations which it issued in return. It can not be denied that we are
paying an extravagant percentage for the use of the money borrowed,
which was paper currency, greatly depreciated below the value of coin.
This fact is made apparent when we consider that bondholders receive
from the Treasury upon each dollar they own in Government securities 6
per cent in gold, which is nearly or quite equal to 9 per cent in
currency; that the bonds are then converted into capital for the
national banks, upon which those institutions issue their circulation,
bearing 6 per cent interest; and that they are exempt from taxation by
the Government and the States, and thereby enhanced 2 per cent in the
hands of the holders. We thus have an aggregate of 17 per cent which
may be received upon each dollar by the owners of Government
securities. A system that produces such results is justly regarded as
favoring a few at the expense of the many, and has led to the further
inquiry whether our bondholders, in view of the large profits which
they have enjoyed, would themselves be averse to a settlement of our
indebtedness upon a plan which would yield them a fair remuneration and
at the same time be just to the taxpayers of the nation. Our national
credit should be sacredly observed, but in making provision for our
creditors we should not forget what is due to the masses of the people.
It may be assumed that the holders of our securities have already
received upon their bonds a larger amount than their original
investment, measured by a gold standard. Upon this statement of facts
it would seem but just and equitable that the 6 per cent interest now
paid by the Government should be applied to the reduction of the
principal in semiannual installments, which in sixteen years and eight
months would liquidate the entire national debt. Six per cent in gold
would at present rates be equal to 9 per cent in currency, and
equivalent to the payment of the debt one and a half times in a
fraction less than seventeen years. This, in connection with all the
other advantages derived from their investment, would afford to the
public creditors a fair and liberal compensation for the use of their
capital, and with this they should be satisfied. The lessons of the
past admonish the lender that it is not well to be over-anxious in
exacting from the borrower rigid compliance with the letter of the

If provision be made for the payment of the indebtedness of the
Government in the manner suggested, our nation will rapidly recover its
wonted prosperity. Its interests require that some measure should be
taken to release the large amount of capital invested in the securities
of the Government. It is not now merely unproductive, but in taxation
annually consumes $150,000,000, which would otherwise be used by our
enterprising people in adding to the wealth of the nation. Our
commerce, which at one time successfully rivaled that of the great
maritime powers, has rapidly diminished, and our industrial interests
are in a depressed and languishing condition. The development of our
inexhaustible resources is checked, and the fertile fields of the South
are becoming waste for want of means to till them. With the release of
capital, new life would be infused into the paralyzed energies of our
people and activity and vigor imparted to every branch of industry. Our
people need encouragement in their efforts to recover from the effects
of the rebellion and of injudicious legislation, and it should be the
aim of the Government to stimulate them by the prospect of an early
release from the burdens which impede their prosperity. If we can not
take the burdens from their shoulders, we should at least manifest a
willingness to help to bear them.

In referring to the condition of the circulating medium, I shall merely
reiterate substantially that portion of my last annual message which
relates to that subject.

The proportion which the currency of any country should bear to the
whole value of the annual produce circulated by its means is a question
upon which political economists have not agreed. Nor can it be
controlled by legislation, but must be left to the irrevocable laws
which everywhere regulate commerce and trade. The circulating medium
will ever irresistibly flow to those points where it is in greatest
demand. The law of demand and supply is as unerring as that which
regulates the tides of the ocean; and, indeed, currency, like the
tides, has its ebbs and flows throughout the commercial world.

At the beginning of the rebellion the bank-note circulation of the
country amounted to not much more than $200,000,000; now the
circulation of national-bank notes and those known as "legal-tenders"
is nearly seven hundred millions. While it is urged by some that this
amount should be increased, others contend that a decided reduction is
absolutely essential to the best interests of the country. In view of
these diverse opinions, it may be well to ascertain the real value of
our paper issues when compared with a metallic or convertible currency.
For this purpose let us inquire how much gold and silver could be
purchased by the seven hundred millions of paper money now in
circulation. Probably not more than half the amount of the latter;
showing that when our paper currency is compared with gold and silver
its commercial value is compressed into three hundred and fifty
millions. This striking fact makes it the obvious duty of the
Government, as early as may be consistent with the principles of sound
political economy, to take such measures as will enable the holders of
its notes and those of the national banks to convert them, without
loss, into specie or its equivalent. A reduction of our paper
circulating medium need not necessarily follow. This, however, would
depend upon the law of demand and supply, though it should be borne in
mind that by making legal-tender and bank notes convertible into coin
or its equivalent their present specie value in the hands of their
holders would be enhanced 100 per cent.

Legislation for the accomplishment of a result so desirable is demanded
by the highest public considerations. The Constitution contemplates
that the circulating medium of the country shall be uniform in quality
and value. At the time of the formation of that instrument the country
had just emerged from the War of the Revolution, and was suffering from
the effects of a redundant and worthless paper currency. The sages of
that period were anxious to protect their posterity from the evils
which they themselves had experienced. Hence in providing a circulating
medium they conferred upon Congress the power to coin money and
regulate the value thereof, at the same time prohibiting the States
from making anything but gold and silver a tender in payment of debts.

The anomalous condition of our currency is in striking contrast with
that which was originally designed. Our circulation now embraces,
first, notes of the national banks, which are made receivable for all
dues to the Government, excluding imposts, and by all its creditors,
excepting in payment of interest upon its bonds and the securities
themselves; second, legal tender, issued by the United States, and
which the law requires shall be received as well in payment of all
debts between citizens as of all Government dues, excepting imposts;
and, third, gold and silver coin. By the operation of our present
system of finance however, the metallic currency, when collected, is
reserved only for one class of Government creditors, who, holding its
bonds, semiannually receive their interest in coin from the National
Treasury. There is no reason which will be accepted as satisfactory by
the people why those who defend us on the land and protect us on the
sea; the pensioner upon the gratitude of the nation, bearing the scars
and wounds received while in its service; the public servants in the
various departments of the Government; the farmer who supplies the
soldiers of the Army and the sailors of the Navy; the artisan who toils
in the nation's workshops, or the mechanics and laborers who build its
edifices and construct its forts and vessels of war, should, in payment
of their just and hard-earned dues, receive depreciated paper, while
another class of their countrymen, no more deserving are paid in coin
of gold and silver. Equal and exact justice requires that all the
creditors of the Government should be paid in a currency possessing a
uniform value. This can only be accomplished by the restoration of the
currency to the standard established by the Constitution, and by this
means we would remove a discrimination which may, if it has not already
done so, create a prejudice that may become deep-rooted and widespread
and imperil the national credit.

The feasibility of making our currency correspond with the
constitutional standard may be seen by reference to a few facts derived
from our commercial statistics.

The aggregate product of precious metals in the United States from 1849
to 1867 amounted to $1,174,000,000, while for the same period the net
exports of specie were $741,000,000. This shows an excess of product
over net exports of $433,000,000. There are in the Treasury
$103,407,985 in coin; in circulation in the States on the Pacific Coast
about $40,000,000, and a few millions in the national and other
banks--in all less than $160,000,000. Taking into consideration the
specie in the country prior to 1849 and that produced since 1867, and
we have more than $300,000,000 not accounted for by exportation or by
returns of the Treasury, and therefore most probably remaining in the

These are important facts, and show how completely the inferior
currency will supersede the better, forcing it from circulation among
the masses and causing it to be exported as a mere article of trade, to
add to the money capital of foreign lands. They show the necessity of
retiring our paper money, that the return of gold and silver to the
avenues of trade may be invited and a demand created which will cause
the retention at home of at least so much of the productions of our
rich and inexhaustible gold-bearing fields as may be sufficient for
purposes of circulation. It is unreasonable to expect a return to a
sound currency so long as the Government and banks, by continuing to
issue irredeemable notes, fill the channels of circulation with
depreciated paper. Notwithstanding a coinage by our mints since 1849 of
$874,000,000, the people are now strangers to the currency which was
designed for their use and benefit, and specimens of the precious
metals bearing the national device are seldom seen, except when
produced to gratify the interest excited by their novelty. If
depreciated paper is to be continued as the permanent currency of the
country, and all our coin is to become a mere article of traffic and
speculation to the enhancement in price of all that is indispensable to
the comfort of the people, it would be wise economy to abolish our
mints, thus saving the nation the care and expense incident to such
establishments, and let our precious metals be exported in bullion. The
time has come, however, when the Government and national banks should
be required to take the most efficient steps and make all necessary
arrangements for a resumption of specie payments. Let specie payments
once be earnestly inaugurated by the Government and banks, and the
value of the paper circulation would directly approximate a specie

Specie payments having been resumed by the Government and banks, all
notes or bills of paper issued by either of a less denomination than
$20 should by law be excluded from circulation, so that the people may
have the benefit and convenience of a gold and silver currency which in
all their business transactions will be uniform in value at home and
abroad. Every man of property or industry, every man who desires to
preserve what he honestly possesses or to obtain what he can honestly
earn, has a direct interest in maintaining a safe circulating
medium--such a medium as shall be real and substantial, not liable to
vibrate with opinions, not subject to be blown up or blown down by the
breath of speculation, but to be made stable and secure. A disordered
currency is one of the greatest political evils. It undermines the
virtues necessary for the support of the social system and encourages
propensities destructive of its happiness; it wars against industry,
frugality, and economy, and it fosters the evil spirits of extravagance
and speculation. It has been asserted by one of our profound and most
gifted statesmen that--Of all the contrivances for cheating the
laboring classes of mankind, none has been more effectual than that
which deludes them with paper money. This is the most effectual of
inventions to fertilize the rich man's fields by the sweat of the poor
man's brow. Ordinary tyranny, oppression, excessive taxation--these
bear lightly on the happiness of the mass of the community compared
with a fraudulent currency and the robberies committed by depreciated
paper. Our own history has recorded for our instruction enough, and
more than enough, of the demoralizing tendency, the injustice, and the
intolerable oppression on the virtuous and well-disposed of a degraded
paper currency authorized by law or in any way countenanced by
government. It is one of the most successful devices, in times of peace
or war, of expansions or revulsions, to accomplish the transfer of all
the precious metals from the great mass of the people into the hands of
the few, where they are hoarded in secret places or deposited under
bolts and bars, while the people are left to endure all the
inconvenience, sacrifice, and demoralization resulting from the use of
depreciated and worthless paper.

The Secretary of the Interior in his report gives valuable information
in reference to the interests confided to the supervision of his
Department, and reviews the operations of the Land Office, Pension
Office, Patent Office, and Indian Bureau.

During the fiscal year ending June 30. 1868, 6,655,700 acres of public
land were disposed of. The entire cash receipts of the General Land
Office for the same period were $1,632,745, being greater by $284,883
than the amount realized from the same sources during the previous
year. The entries under the homestead law cover 2,328,923 acres, nearly
one-fourth of which was taken under the act of June 21, 1866, which
applies only to the States of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana,
Arkansas, and Florida.

On the 30th of June, 1868, 169,643 names were borne on the pension
rolls, and during the year ending on that day the total amount paid for
pensions, including the expenses of disbursement, was $24,010,982,
being $5,391,025 greater than that expended for like purposes during
the preceding year.

During the year ending the 30th of September last the expenses of the
Patent Office exceeded the receipts by $171, and, including reissues
and designs, 14,153 patents were issued.

Treaties with various Indian tribes have been concluded, and will be
submitted to the Senate for its constitutional action. I cordially
sanction the stipulations which provide for reserving lands for the
various tribes, where they may be encouraged to abandon their nomadic
habits and engage in agricultural and industrial pursuits. This policy,
inaugurated many years since, has met with signal success whenever it
has been pursued in good faith and with becoming liberality by the
United States. The necessity for extending it as far as practicable in
our relations with the aboriginal population is greater now than at any
preceding period. Whilst we furnish subsistence and instruction to the
Indians and guarantee the undisturbed enjoyment of their treaty rights,
we should habitually insist upon the faithful observance of their
agreement to remain within their respective reservations. This is the
only mode by which collisions with other tribes and with the whites can
be avoided and the safety of our frontier settlements secured.

The companies constructing the railway from Omaha to Sacramento have
been most energetically engaged in prosecuting the work, and it is
believed that the line will be completed before the expiration of the
next fiscal year. The 6 per cent bonds issued to these companies
amounted on the 5th instant to $44,337,000, and additional work had
been performed to the extent of $3,200,000.

The Secretary of the Interior in August last invited my attention to
the report of a Government director of the Union Pacific Railroad
Company who had been specially instructed to examine the location,
construction, and equipment of their road. I submitted for the opinion
of the Attorney-General certain questions in regard to the authority of
the Executive which arose upon this report and those which had from
time to time been presented by the commissioners appointed to inspect
each successive section of the work. After carefully considering the
law of the case, he affirmed the right of the Executive to order, if
necessary, a thorough revision of the entire road. Commissioners were
thereupon appointed to examine this and other lines, and have recently
submitted a statement of their investigations, of which the report of
the Secretary of the Interior furnishes specific information.

The report of the Secretary of War contains information of interest and
importance respecting the several bureaus of the War Department and the
operations of the Army. The strength of our military force on the 30th
of September last was 48,000 men, and it is computed that by the 1st of
January next this number will be decreased to 43,000. It is the opinion
of the Secretary of War that within the next year a considerable
diminution of the infantry force may be made without detriment to the
interests of the country; and in view of the great expense attending
the military peace establishment and the absolute necessity of
retrenchment wherever it can be applied, it is hoped that Congress will
sanction the reduction which his report recommends. While in 1860
sixteen thousand three hundred men cost the nation $16,472,000, the sum
of $65,682,000 is estimated as necessary for the support of the Army
during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1870. The estimates of the War
Department for the last two fiscal years were, for 1867, $33,814,461,
and for 1868 $25,205,669. The actual expenditures during the same
periods were, respectively, $95,224,415 and $123,246,648. The estimate
submitted in December last for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1869,
was $77,124,707; the expenditures for the first quarter, ending the
30th of September last, were $27,219,117, and the Secretary of the
Treasury gives $66,000,000 as the amount which will probably be
required during the remaining three quarters, if there should be no
reduction of the Army--making its aggregate cost for the year
considerably in excess of ninety-three millions. The difference between
the estimates and expenditures for the three fiscal years which have
been named is thus shown to be $175,545,343 for this single branch of
the public service.

The report of the Secretary of the Navy exhibits the operations of that
Department and of the Navy during the year. A considerable reduction of
the force has been effected. There are 42 vessels, carrying 411 guns,
in the six squadrons which are established in different parts of the
world. Three of these vessels are returning to the United States and 4
are used as storeships, leaving the actual cruising force 35 vessels,
carrying 356 guns. The total number of vessels in the Navy is 206,
mounting 1,743 guns. Eighty-one vessels of every description are in
use, armed with 696 guns. The number of enlisted men in the service,
including apprentices, has been reduced to 8,500. An increase of
navy-yard facilities is recommended as a measure which will in the
event of war be promotive of economy and security. A more thorough and
systematic survey of the North Pacific Ocean is advised in view of our
recent acquisitions, our expanding commerce, and the increasing
intercourse between the Pacific States and Asia. The naval pension
fund, which consists of a moiety of the avails of prizes captured
during the war, amounts to $14,000,000. Exception is taken to the act
of 23d July last, which reduces the interest on the fund loaned to the
Government by the Secretary, as trustee, to 3 per cent instead of 6 per
cent, which was originally stipulated when the investment was made. An
amendment of the pension laws is suggested to remedy omissions and
defects in existing enactments. The expenditures of the Department
during the last fiscal year were $20,120,394, and the estimates for the
coming year amount to $20,993,414.

The Postmaster-General's report furnishes a full and clear exhibit of
the operations and condition of the postal service. The ordinary postal
revenue for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1868. was $16,292,600, and
the total expenditures, embracing all the service for which special
appropriations have been made by Congress, amounted to $22,730,592,
showing an excess of expenditures of $6,437,991. Deducting from the
expenditures the sum of $1,896,525, the amount of appropriations for
ocean-steamship and other special service, the excess of expenditures
was $4,541,466. By using an unexpended balance in the Treasury of
$3,800,000 the actual sum for which a special appropriation is required
to meet the deficiency is $741,466. The causes which produced this
large excess of expenditure over revenue were the restoration of
service in the late insurgent States and the putting into operation of
new service established by acts of Congress, which amounted within the
last two years and a half to about 48,700 miles--equal to more than
one-third of the whole amount of the service at the close of the war.
New postal conventions with Great Britain, North Germany, Belgium, the
Netherlands, Switzerland, and Italy, respectively, have been carried
into effect. Under their provisions important improvements have
resulted in reduced rates of international postage and enlarged mail
facilities with European countries. The cost of the United States
transatlantic ocean mail service since January 1, 1868, has been
largely lessened under the operation of these new conventions, a
reduction of over one-half having been effected under the new
arrangements for ocean mail steamship service which went into effect on
that date. The attention of Congress is invited to the practical
suggestions and recommendations made in his report by the

No important question has occurred during the last year in our
accustomed cordial and friendly intercourse with Costa Rica, Guatemala,
Honduras, San Salvador, France, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland,
Portugal, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, Rome, Greece,
Turkey, Persia, Egypt, Liberia, Morocco, Tripoli, Tunis, Muscat, Siam,
Borneo, and Madagascar.

Cordial relations have also been maintained with the Argentine and the
Oriental Republics. The expressed wish of Congress that our national
good offices might be tendered to those Republics, and also to Brazil
and Paraguay, for bringing to an end the calamitous war which has so
long been raging in the valley of the La Plata, has been assiduously
complied with and kindly acknowledged by all the belligerents. That
important negotiation, however, has thus far been without result.

Charles A. Washburn, late United States minister to Paraguay, having
resigned, and being desirous to return to the United States, the
rear-admiral commanding the South Atlantic Squadron was early directed
to send a ship of war to Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay, to receive
Mr. Washburn and his family and remove them from a situation which was
represented to be endangered by faction and foreign war. The Brazilian
commander of the allied invading forces refused permission to the Wasp
to pass through the blockading forces, and that vessel returned to its
accustomed anchorage. Remonstrance having been made against this
refusal, it was promptly overruled, and the Wasp therefore resumed her
errand, received Mr. Washburn and his family, and conveyed them to a
safe and convenient seaport. In the meantime an excited controversy had
arisen between the President of Paraguay and the late United States
minister, which, it is understood, grew out of his proceedings in
giving asylum in the United States legation to alleged enemies of that
Republic. The question of the right to give asylum is one always
difficult and often productive of great embarrassment. In states well
organized and established, foreign powers refuse either to concede or
exercise that right, except as to persons actually belonging to the
diplomatic service. On the other hand, all such powers insist upon
exercising the right of asylum in states where the law of nations is
not fully acknowledged, respected, and obeyed.

The President of Paraguay is understood to have opposed to Mr.
Washburn's proceedings the injurious and very improbable charge of
personal complicity in insurrection and treason. The correspondence,
however, has not yet reached the United States.

Mr. Washburn, in connection with this controversy, represents that two
United States citizens attached to the legation were arbitrarily seized
at his side, when leaving the capital of Paraguay, committed to prison,
and there subjected to torture for the purpose of procuring confessions
of their own criminality and testimony to support the President's
allegation against the United States minister. Mr. McMahon, the newly
appointed minister to Paraguay, having reached the La Plata, has been
instructed to proceed without delay to Asuncion, there to investigate
the whole subject. The rear-admiral commanding the United States South
Atlantic Squadron has been directed to attend the new minister with a
proper naval force to sustain such just demands as the occasion may
require, and to vindicate the rights of the United States citizens
referred to and of any others who may be exposed to danger in the
theater of war. With these exceptions, friendly relations have been
maintained between the United States and Brazil and Paraguay.

Our relations during the past year with Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, and
Chile have become especially friendly and cordial. Spain and the
Republics of Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador have expressed their
willingness to accept the mediation of the United States for
terminating the war upon the South Pacific coast. Chile has not finally
declared upon the question. In the meantime the conflict has
practically exhausted itself, since no belligerent or hostile movement
has been made by either party during the last two years, and there are
no indications of a present purpose to resume hostilities on either
side. Great Britain and France have cordially seconded our proposition
of mediation, and I do not forego the hope that it may soon be accepted
by all the belligerents and lead to a secure establishment of peace and
friendly relations between the Spanish American Republics of the
Pacific and Spain--a result which would be attended with common
benefits to the belligerents and much advantage to all commercial
nations. I communicate, for the consideration of Congress, a
correspondence which shows that the Bolivian Republic has established
the extremely liberal principle of receiving into its citizenship any
citizen of the United States, or of any other of the American
Republics, upon the simple condition of voluntary registry.

The correspondence herewith submitted will be found painfully replete
with accounts of the ruin and wretchedness produced by recent
earthquakes, of unparalleled severity, in the Republics of Peru,
Ecuador, and Bolivia. The diplomatic agents and naval officers of the
United States who were present in those countries at the time of those
disasters furnished all the relief in their power to the sufferers, and
were promptly rewarded with grateful and touching acknowledgments by
the Congress of Peru. An appeal to the charity of our fellow-citizens
has been answered by much liberality. In this connection I submit an
appeal which has been made by the Swiss Republic, whose Government and
institutions are kindred to our own, in behalf of its inhabitants, who
are suffering extreme destitution, produced by recent devastating

Our relations with Mexico during the year have been marked by an
increasing growth of mutual confidence. The Mexican Government has not
yet acted upon the three treaties celebrated here last summer for
establishing the rights of naturalized citizens upon a liberal and just
basis, for regulating consular powers, and for the adjustment of mutual

All commercial nations, as well as all friends of republican
institutions, have occasion to regret the frequent local disturbances
which occur in some of the constituent States of Colombia. Nothing has
occurred, however, to affect the harmony and cordial friendship which
have for several years existed between that youthful and vigorous
Republic and our own.

Negotiations are pending with a view to the survey and construction of
a ship canal across the Isthmus of Darien, under the auspices of the
United States. I hope to be able to submit the results of that
negotiation to the Senate during its present session.

The very liberal treaty which was entered into last year by the United
States and Nicaragua has been ratified by the latter Republic.

Costa Rica, with the earnestness of a sincerely friendly neighbor,
solicits a reciprocity of trade, which I commend to the consideration
of Congress.

The convention created by treaty between the United States and
Venezuela in July, 1865, for the mutual adjustment of claims, has been
held, and its decisions have been received at the Department of State.
The heretofore-recognized Government of the United States of Venezuela
has been subverted. A provisional government having been instituted
under circumstances which promise durability, it has been formally

I have been reluctantly obliged to ask explanation and satisfaction for
national injuries committed by the President of Hayti. The political
and social condition of the Republics of Hayti and St. Domingo is very
unsatisfactory and painful. The abolition of slavery, which has been
carried into effect throughout the island of St. Domingo and the entire
West Indies, except the Spanish islands of Cuba and Porto Rico, has
been followed by a profound popular conviction of the rightfulness of
republican institutions and an intense desire to secure them. The
attempt, however, to establish republics there encounters many
obstacles, most of which may be supposed to result from long-indulged
habits of colonial supineness and dependence upon European monarchical
powers. While the United States have on all occasions professed a
decided unwillingness that any part of this continent or of its
adjacent islands shall be made a theater for a new establishment of
monarchical power, too little has been done by us, on the other hand,
to attach the communities by which we are surrounded to our own
country, or to lend even a moral support to the efforts they are so
resolutely and so constantly making to secure republican institutions
for themselves. It is indeed a question of grave consideration whether
our recent and present example is not calculated to check the growth
and expansion of free principles, and make those communities distrust,
if not dread, a government which at will consigns to military
domination States that are integral parts of our Federal Union, and,
while ready to resist any attempts by other nations to extend to this
hemisphere the monarchical institutions of Europe, assumes to establish
over a large portion of its people a rule more absolute, harsh, and
tyrannical than any known to civilized powers.

The acquisition of Alaska was made with the view of extending national
jurisdiction and republican principles in the American hemisphere.
Believing that a further step could be taken in the same direction, I
last year entered into a treaty with the King of Denmark for the
purchase of the islands of St. Thomas and St. John, on the best terms
then attainable, and with the express consent of the people of those
islands. This treaty still remains under consideration in the Senate. A
new convention has been entered into with Denmark, enlarging the time
fixed for final ratification of the original treaty.

Comprehensive national policy would seem to sanction the acquisition
and incorporation into our Federal Union of the several adjacent
continental and insular communities as speedily as it can be done
peacefully, lawfully, and without any violation of national justice,
faith, or honor. Foreign possession or control of those communities has
hitherto hindered the growth and impaired the influence of the United
States. Chronic revolution and anarchy there would be equally
injurious. Each one of them, when firmly established as an independent
republic, or when incorporated into the United States, would be a new
source of strength and power. Conforming my Administration to these
principles, I have or no occasion lent support or toleration to
unlawful expeditions set on foot upon the plea of republican
propagandism or of national extension or aggrandizement. The necessity,
however, of repressing such unlawful movements clearly indicates the
duty which rests upon us of adapting our legislative action to the new
circumstances of a decline of European monarchical power and influence
and the increase of American republican ideas, interests, and

It can not be long before it will become necessary for this Government
to lend some effective aid to the solution of the political and social
problems which are continually kept before the world by the two
Republics of the island of St. Domingo, and which are now disclosing
themselves more distinctly than heretofore in the island of Cuba. The
subject is commended to your consideration with all the more
earnestness because I am satisfied that the time has arrived when even
so direct a proceeding as a proposition for an annexation of the two
Republics of the island of St. Domingo would not only receive the
consent of the people interested, but would also give satisfaction to
all other foreign nations.

I am aware that upon the question of further extending our possessions
it is apprehended by some that our political system can not
successfully be applied to an area more extended than our continent;
but the conviction is rapidly gaining ground in the American mind that
with the increased facilities for intercommunication between all
portions of the earth the principles of free government, as embraced in
our Constitution, if faithfully maintained and carried out, would prove
of sufficient strength and breadth to comprehend within their sphere
and influence the civilized nations of the world.

The attention of the Senate and of Congress is again respectfully
invited to the treaty for the establishment of commercial reciprocity
with the Hawaiian Kingdom entered into last year, and already ratified
by that Government. The attitude of the United States toward these
islands is not very different from that in which they stand toward the
West Indies. It is known and felt by the Hawaiian Government and people
that their Government and institutions are feeble and precarious; that
the United States, being so near a neighbor, would be unwilling to see
the islands pass under foreign control. Their prosperity is continually
disturbed by expectations and alarms of unfriendly political
proceedings, as well from the United States as from other foreign
powers. A reciprocity treaty, while it could not materially diminish
the revenues of the United States, would be a guaranty of the good will
and forbearance of all nations until the people of the islands shall of
themselves, at no distant day, voluntarily apply for admission into the

The Emperor of Russia has acceded to the treaty negotiated here in
January last for the security of trade-marks in the interest of
manufacturers and commerce. I have invited his attention to the
importance of establishing, now while it seems easy and practicable, a
fair and equal regulation of the vast fisheries belonging to the two
nations in the waters of the North Pacific Ocean.

The two treaties between the United States and Italy for the regulation
of consular powers and the extradition of criminals, negotiated and
ratified here during the last session of Congress, have been accepted
and confirmed by the Italian Government. A liberal consular convention
which has been negotiated with Belgium will be submitted to the Senate.
The very important treaties which were negotiated between the United
States and North Germany and Bavaria for the regulation of the rights
of naturalized citizens have been duly ratified and exchanged, and
similar treaties have been entered into with the Kingdoms of Belgium
and Wurtemberg and with the Grand Duchies of Baden and Hesse-Darmstadt.
I hope soon to be able to submit equally satisfactory conventions of
the same character now in the course of negotiation with the respective
Governments of Spain, Italy, and the Ottoman Empire.

Examination of claims against the United States by the Hudsons Bay
Company and the Puget Sound Agricultural Company, on account of certain
possessory rights in the State of Oregon and Territory of Washington,
alleged by those companies in virtue of provisions of the treaty
between the United States and Great Britain of June 15, 1846, has been
diligently prosecuted, under the direction of the joint international
commission to which they were submitted for adjudication by treaty
between the two Governments of July 1, 1863, and will, it is expected,
be concluded at an early day.

No practical regulation concerning colonial trade and the fisheries can
be accomplished by treaty between the United States and Great Britain
until Congress shall have expressed their judgment concerning the
principles involved. Three other questions, however, between the United
States and Great Britain remain open for adjustment. These are the
mutual rights of naturalized citizens, the boundary question involving
the title to the island of San Juan, on the Pacific coast, and mutual
claims arising since the year 1853 of the citizens and subjects of the
two countries for injuries and depredations committed under the
authority of their respective Governments. Negotiations upon these
subjects are pending, and I am not without hope of being able to lay
before the Senate, for its consideration during the present session,
protocols calculated to bring to an end these justly exciting and
long-existing controversies.

We are not advised of the action of the Chinese Government upon the
liberal and auspicious treaty which was recently celebrated with its
plenipotentiaries at this capital.

Japan remains a theater of civil war, marked by religious incidents and
political severities peculiar to that long-isolated Empire. The
Executive has hitherto maintained strict neutrality among the
belligerents, and acknowledges with pleasure that it has been frankly
and fully sustained in that course by the enlightened concurrence and
cooperation of the other treaty powers, namely Great Britain, France,
the Netherlands, North Germany, and Italy.

Spain having recently undergone a revolution marked by extraordinary
unanimity and preservation of order, the provisional government
established at Madrid has been recognized, and the friendly intercourse
which has so long happily existed between the two countries remains

I renew the recommendation contained in my communication to Congress
dated the 18th July last--a copy of which accompanies this message that
the judgment of the people should be taken on the propriety of so
amending the Federal Constitution that it shall provide--

First. For an election of President and Vice-President by a direct vote
of the people, instead of through the agency of electors, and making
them ineligible for reelection to a second term.

Second. For a distinct designation of the person who shall discharge
the duties of President in the event of a vacancy in that office by the
death, resignation, or removal of both the President and

Third. For the election of Senators of the United States directly by
the people of the several States, instead of by the legislatures; and

Fourth. For the limitation to a period of years of the terms of Federal

Profoundly impressed with the propriety of making these important
modifications in the Constitution, I respectfully submit them for the
early and mature consideration of Congress. We should, as far as
possible, remove all pretext for violations of the organic law, by
remedying such imperfections as time and experience may develop, ever
remembering that "the constitution which at any time exists until
changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people is
sacredly obligatory upon all."

In the performance of a duty imposed upon me by the Constitution, I
have thus communicated to Congress information of the state of the
Union and recommended for their consideration such measures as have
seemed to me necessary and expedient. If carried into effect, they will
hasten the accomplishment of the great and beneficent purposes for
which the Constitution was ordained, and which it comprehensively
states were "to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure
domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the
general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and
our posterity." In Congress are vested all legislative powers, and upon
them devolves the responsibility as well for framing unwise and
excessive laws as for neglecting to devise and adopt measures
absolutely demanded by the wants of the country. Let us earnestly hope
that before the expiration of our respective terms of service, now
rapidly drawing to a close, an all-wise Providence will so guide our
counsels as to strengthen and preserve the Federal Unions, inspire
reverence for the Constitution, restore prosperity and happiness to our
whole people, and promote "on earth peace, good will toward men."

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