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´╗┐Title: State of the Union Addresses
Author: Fillmore, Millard
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 Millard Fillmore

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Dates of addresses by Millard Fillmore in this eBook:

  December 2, 1850
  December 2, 1851
  December 6, 1852


State of the Union Address
Millard Fillmore
December 2, 1850

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

Being suddenly called in the midst of the last session of Congress by a
painful dispensation of Divine Providence to the responsible station which
I now hold, I contented myself with such communications to the Legislature
as the exigency of the moment seemed to require. The country was shrouded
in mourning for the loss of its venerable Chief Magistrate and all hearts
were penetrated with grief. Neither the time nor the occasion appeared to
require or to justify on my part any general expression of political
opinions or any announcement of the principles which would govern me in the
discharge of the duties to the performance of which I had been so
unexpectedly called. I trust, therefore, that it may not be deemed
inappropriate if I avail myself of this opportunity of the reassembling of
Congress to make known my sentiments in a general manner in regard to the
policy which ought to be pursued by the Government both in its intercourse
with foreign nations and its management and administration of internal

Nations, like individuals in a state of nature, are equal and independent,
possessing certain rights and owing certain duties to each other, arising
from their necessary and unavoidable relations; which rights and duties
there is no common human authority to protect and enforce. Still, they are
rights and duties, binding in morals, in conscience, and in honor, although
there is no tribunal to which an injured party can appeal but the
disinterested judgment of mankind, and ultimately the arbitrament of the

Among the acknowledged rights of nations is that which each possesses of
establishing that form of government which it may deem most conducive to
the happiness and prosperity of its own citizens, of changing that form as
circumstances may require, and of managing its internal affairs according
to its own will. The people of the United States claim this right for
themselves, and they readily concede it to others. Hence it becomes an
imperative duty not to interfere in the government or internal policy of
other nations; and although we may sympathize with the unfortunate or the
oppressed everywhere in their struggles for freedom, our principles forbid
us from taking any part in such foreign contests. We make no wars to
promote or to prevent successions to thrones, to maintain any theory of a
balance of power, or to suppress the actual government which any country
chooses to establish for itself. We instigate no revolutions, nor suffer
any hostile military expeditions to be fitted out in the United States to
invade the territory or provinces of a friendly nation. The great law of
morality ought to have a national as well as a personal and individual
application. We should act toward other nations as we wish them to act
toward us, and justice and conscience should form the rule of conduct
between governments, instead of mere power, self interest, or the desire of
aggrandizement. To maintain a strict neutrality in foreign wars, to
cultivate friendly relations, to reciprocate every noble and generous act,
and to perform punctually and scrupulously every treaty obligation--these
are the duties which we owe to other states, and by the performance of
which we best entitle ourselves to like treatment from them; or, if that,
in any case, be refused, we can enforce our own rights with justice and a
clear conscience.

In our domestic policy the Constitution will be my guide, and in questions
of doubt I shall look for its interpretation to the judicial decisions of
that tribunal which was established to expound it and to the usage of the
Government, sanctioned by the acquiescence of the country. I regard all its
provisions as equally binding. In all its parts it is the will of the
people expressed in the most solemn form, and the constituted authorities
are but agents to carry that will into effect. Every power which it has
granted is to be exercised for the public good; but no pretense of utility,
no honest conviction, even, of what might be expedient, can justify the
assumption of any power not granted. The powers conferred upon the
Government and their distribution to the several departments are as clearly
expressed in that sacred instrument as the imperfection of human language
will allow, and I deem it my first duty not to question its wisdom, add to
its provisions, evade its requirements, or nullify its commands.

Upon you, fellow-citizens, as the representatives of the States and the
people, is wisely devolved the legislative power. I shall comply with my
duty in laying before you from time to time any information calculated to
enable you to discharge your high and responsible trust for the benefit of
our common constituents.

My opinions will be frankly expressed upon the leading subjects of
legislation; and if--which I do not anticipate--any act should pass the two
Houses of Congress which should appear to me unconstitutional, or an
encroachment on the just powers of other departments, or with provisions
hastily adopted and likely to produce consequences injurious and
unforeseen, I should not shrink from the duty of returning it to you, with
my reasons, for your further consideration. Beyond the due performance of
these constitutional obligations, both my respect for the Legislature and
my sense of propriety will restrain me from any attempt to control or
influence your proceedings. With you is the power, the honor, and the
responsibility of the legislation of the country.

The Government of the United States is a limited Government. It is confined
to the exercise of powers expressly granted and such others as may be
necessary for carrying those powers into effect; and it is at all times an
especial duty to guard against any infringement on the just rights of the
States. Over the objects and subjects intrusted to Congress its legislative
authority is supreme. But here that authority ceases, and every citizen who
truly loves the Constitution and desires the continuance of its existence
and its blessings will resolutely and firmly resist any interference in
those domestic affairs which the Constitution has dearly and unequivocally
left to the exclusive authority of the States. And every such citizen will
also deprecate useless irritation among the several members of the Union
and all reproach and crimination tending to alienate one portion of the
country from another. The beauty of our system of government consists, and
its safety and durability must consist, in avoiding mutual collisions and
encroachments and in the regular separate action of all, while each is
revolving in its own distinct orbit.

The Constitution has made it the duty of the President to take care that
the laws be faithfully executed. In a government like ours, in which all
laws are passed by a majority of the representatives of the people, and
these representatives are chosen for such short periods that any injurious
or obnoxious law can very soon be repealed, it would appear unlikely that
any great numbers should be found ready to resist the execution of the
laws. But it must be borne in mind that the country is extensive; that
there may be local interests or prejudices rendering a law odious in one
part which is not so in another, and that the thoughtless and
inconsiderate, misled by their passions or their imaginations, may be
induced madly to resist such laws as they disapprove. Such persons should
recollect that without law there can be no real practical liberty; that
when law is trampled under foot tyranny rules, whether it appears in the
form of a military despotism or of popular violence. The law is the only
sure protection of the weak and the only efficient restraint upon the
strong. When impartially and faithfully administered, none is beneath its
protection and none above its control. You, gentlemen, and the country may
be assured that to the utmost of my ability and to the extent of the power
vested in me I shall at all times and in all places take care that the laws
be faithfully executed. In the discharge of this duty, solemnly imposed
upon me by the Constitution and by my oath of office, I shall shrink from
no responsibility, and shall endeavor to meet events as they may arise with
firmness, as well as with prudence and discretion.

The appointing power is one of the most delicate with which the Executive
is invested. I regard it as a sacred trust, to be exercised with the sole
view of advancing the prosperity and happiness of the people. It shall be
my effort to elevate the standard of official employment by selecting for
places of importance individuals fitted for the posts to which they are
assigned by their known integrity, talents, and virtues. In so extensive a
country, with so great a population, and where few persons appointed to
office can be known to the appointing power, mistakes will sometimes
unavoidably happen and unfortunate appointments be made notwithstanding the
greatest care. In such cases the power of removal may be properly
exercised; and neglect of duty or malfeasance in office will be no more
tolerated in individuals appointed by myself than in those appointed by
others. I am happy in being able to say that no unfavorable change in our
foreign relations has taken place since the message at the opening of the
last session of Congress. We are at peace with all nations and we enjoy in
an eminent degree the blessings of that peace in a prosperous and growing
commerce and in all the forms of amicable national intercourse. The
unexampled growth of the country, the present amount of its population, and
its ample means of self-protection assure for it the respect of all
nations, while it is trusted that its character for justice and a regard to
the rights of other States will cause that respect to be readily and
cheerfully paid.

A convention was negotiated between the United States and Great Britain in
April last for facilitating and protecting the construction of a ship canal
between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and for other purposes. The
instrument has since been ratified by the contracting parties, the exchange
of ratifications has been effected, and proclamation thereof has been duly

In addition to the stipulations contained in this convention, two other
objects remain to be accomplished between the contracting powers: First.
The designation and establishment of a free port at each end of the canal.

Second. An agreement fixing the distance from the shore within which
belligerent maritime operations shall not be carried on. On these points
there is little doubt that the two Governments will come to an

The company of citizens of the United States who have acquired from the
State of Nicaragua the privilege of constructing a ship canal between the
two oceans through the territory of that State have made progress in their
preliminary arrangements. The treaty between the United States and Great
Britain of the 19th of April last, above referred to, being now in
operation, it is to be hoped that the guaranties which it offers will be
sufficient to secure the completion of the work with all practicable
expedition. It is obvious that this result would be indefinitely postponed
if any other than peaceful measures for the purpose of harmonizing
conflicting claims to territory in that quarter should be adopted. It will
consequently be my endeavor to cause any further negotiations on the part
of this Government which may be requisite for this purpose to be so
conducted as to bring them to a speedy and successful close.

Some unavoidable delay has occurred, arising from distance and the
difficulty of intercourse between this Government and that of Nicaragua,
but as intelligence has just been received of the appointment of an envoy
extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of that Government to reside at
Washington, whose arrival may soon be expected, it is hoped that no further
impediments will be experienced in the prompt transaction of business
between the two Governments.

Citizens of the United States have undertaken the connection of the two
oceans by means of a railroad across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, under
grants of the Mexican Government to a citizen of that Republic. It is
understood that a thorough survey of the course of the communication is in
preparation, and there is every reason to expect that it will be prosecuted
with characteristic energy, especially when that Government shall have
consented to such stipulations with the Government of the United States as
may be necessary to impart a feeling of security to those who may embark
their property in the enterprise. Negotiations are pending for the
accomplishment of that object, and a hope is confidently entertained that
when the Government of Mexico shall become duly sensible of the advantages
which that country can not fail to derive from the work, and learn that the
Government of the United States desires that the right of sovereignty of
Mexico in the Isthmus shall remain unimpaired, the stipulations referred to
will be agreed to with alacrity.

By the last advices from Mexico it would appear, however, that that
Government entertains strong objections to some of the stipulations which
the parties concerned in the project of the railroad deem necessary for
their protection and security. Further consideration, it is to be hoped, or
some modification of terms, may yet reconcile the differences existing
between the two Governments in this respect.

Fresh instructions have recently been given to the minister of the United
States in Mexico, who is prosecuting the subject with promptitude and

Although the negotiations with Portugal for the payment of claims of
citizens of the United States against that Government have not yet resulted
in a formal treaty, yet a proposition, made by the Government of Portugal
for the final adjustment and payment of those claims, has recently been
accepted on the part of the United States. It gives me pleasure to say that
Mr. Clay, to whom the negotiation on the part of the United States had been
intrusted, discharged the duties of his appointment with ability and
discretion, acting always within the instructions of his Government.

It is expected that a regular convention will be immediately negotiated for
carrying the agreement between the two Governments into effect. The
commissioner appointed under the act of Congress for carrying into effect
the convention with Brazil of the 27th of January, 1849, has entered upon
the performance of the duties imposed upon him by that act. It is hoped
that those duties may be completed within the time which it prescribes. The
documents, however, which the Imperial Government, by the third article of
the convention, stipulates to furnish to the Government of the United
States have not yet been received. As it is presumed that those documents
will be essential for the correct disposition of the claims, it may become
necessary for Congress to extend the period limited for the duration of the
commission. The sum stipulated by the fourth article of the convention to
be paid to this Government has been received.

The collection in the ports of the United States of discriminating duties
upon the vessels of Chili and their cargoes has been suspended, pursuant to
the provisions of the act of Congress of the 24th of May, 1828. It is to be
hoped that this measure will impart a fresh impulse to the commerce between
the two countries, which of late, and especially since our acquisition of
California, has, to the mutual advantage of the parties, been much

Peruvian guano has become so desirable an article to the agricultural
interest of the United States that it is the duty of the Government to
employ all the means properly in its power for the purpose of causing that
article to be imported into the country at a reasonable price. Nothing will
be omitted on my part toward accomplishing this desirable end. I am
persuaded that in removing any restraints on this traffic the Peruvian
Government will promote its own best interests, while it will afford a
proof of a friendly disposition toward this country, which will be duly

The treaty between the United States and His Majesty the King of the
Hawaiian Islands, which has recently been made public, will, it is
believed, have a beneficial effect upon the relations between the two

The relations between those parts of the island of St. Domingo which were
formerly colonies of Spain and France, respectively, are still in an
unsettled condition. The proximity of that island to the United States and
the delicate questions involved in the existing controversy there render it
desirable that it should be permanently and speedily adjusted. The
interests of humanity and of general commerce also demand this; and as
intimations of the same sentiment have been received from other
governments, it is hoped that some plan may soon be devised to effect the
object in a manner likely to give general satisfaction. The Government of
the United States will not fail, by the exercise of all proper friendly
offices, to do all in its power to put an end to the destructive war which
has raged between the different parts of the island and to secure to them
both the benefits of peace and commerce.

I refer you to the report of the Secretary of the Treasury for a detailed
statement of the finances.

The total receipts into the Treasury for the year ending 30th of June last
were $47,421,748.90. The total expenditures during the same period were
$43,002,168.90. The public debt has been reduced since the last annual
report from the Treasury Department $495,276.79.

By the nineteenth section of the act of 28th January, 1847, the proceeds of
the sales of the public lands were pledged for the interest and principal
of the public debt. The great amount of those lands subsequently granted by
Congress for military bounties will, it is believed, very nearly supply the
public demand for several years to come, and but little reliance can,
therefore, be placed on that hitherto fruitful source of revenue. Aside
from the permanent annual expenditures, which have necessarily largely
increased, a portion of the public debt, amounting to $8,075,986.59, must
be provided for within the next two fiscal years. It is most desirable that
these accruing demands should be met without resorting to new loans.

All experience has demonstrated the wisdom and policy of raising a large
portion of revenue for the support of Government from duties on goods
imported. The power to lay these duties is unquestionable, and its chief
object, of course, is to replenish the Treasury. But if in doing this an
incidental advantage may be gained by encouraging the industry of our own
citizens, it is our duty to avail ourselves of that advantage.

A duty laid upon an article which can not be produced in this country, such
as tea or coffee, adds to the cost of the article, and is chiefly or wholly
paid by the consumer. But a duty laid upon an article which may be produced
here stimulates the skill and industry of our own country to produce the
same article, which is brought into the market in competition with the
foreign article, and the importer is thus compelled to reduce his price to
that at which the domestic article can be sold, thereby throwing a part of
the duty upon the producer of the foreign article. The continuance of this
process creates the skill and invites the capital which finally enable us
to produce the article much cheaper than it could have been procured from
abroad, thereby benefiting both the producer and the consumer at home. The
consequence of this is that the artisan and the agriculturist are brought
together, each affords a ready market for the produce of the other, the
whole country becomes prosperous, and the ability to produce every
necessary of life renders us independent in war as well as in peace.

A high tariff can never be permanent. It will cause dissatisfaction, and
will be changed. It excludes competition, and thereby invites the
investment of capital in manufactures to such excess that when changed it
brings distress, bankruptcy, and ruin upon all who have been misled by its
faithless protection. What the manufacturer wants is uniformity and
permanency, that he may feel a confidence that he is not to be ruined by
sudden exchanges. But to make a tariff uniform and permanent it is not only
necessary that the laws should not be altered, but that the duty should not
fluctuate. To effect this all duties should be specific wherever the nature
of the article is such as to admit of it. Ad valorem duties fluctuate with
the price and offer strong temptations to fraud and perjury. Specific
duties, on the contrary, are equal and uniform in all ports and at all
times, and offer a strong inducement to the importer to bring the best
article, as he pays no more duty upon that than upon one of inferior
quality. I therefore strongly recommend a modification of the present
tariff, which has prostrated some of our most important and necessary
manufactures, and that specific duties be imposed sufficient to raise the
requisite revenue, making such discriminations in favor of the industrial
pursuits of our own country as to encourage home production without
excluding foreign competition. It is also important that an unfortunate
provision in the present tariff, which imposes a much higher duty upon the
raw material that enters into our manufactures than upon the manufactured
article, should be remedied.

The papers accompanying the report of the Secretary of the Treasury will
disclose frauds attempted upon the revenue, in variety and amount so great
as to justify the conclusion that it is impossible under any system of ad
valorem duties levied upon the foreign cost or value of the article to
secure an honest observance and an effectual administration of the laws.
The fraudulent devices to evade the law which have been detected by the
vigilance of the appraisers leave no room to doubt that similar impositions
not discovered, to a large amount, have been successfully practiced since
the enactment of the law now in force. This state of things has already had
a prejudicial influence upon those engaged in foreign commerce. It has a
tendency to drive the honest trader from the business of importing and to
throw that important branch of employment into the hands of unscrupulous
and dishonest men, who are alike regardless of law and the obligations of
an oath. By these means the plain intentions of Congress, as expressed in
the law, are daily defeated. Every motive of policy and duty, therefore,
impels me to ask the earnest attention of Congress to this subject. If
Congress should deem it unwise to attempt any important changes in the
system of levying duties at this session, it will become indispensable to
the protection of the revenue that such remedies as in the judgment of
Congress may mitigate the evils complained of should be at once applied.

As before stated, specific duties would, in my opinion, afford the most
perfect remedy for this evil; but if you should not concur in this view,
then, as a partial remedy, I beg leave respectfully to recommend that
instead of taking the invoice of the article abroad as a means of
determining its value here, the correctness of which invoice it is in many
cases impossible to verify, the law be so changed as to require a home
valuation or appraisal, to be regulated in such manner as to give, as far
as practicable, uniformity in the several ports.

There being no mint in California, I am informed that the laborers in the
mines are compelled to dispose of their gold dust at a large discount. This
appears to me to be a heavy and unjust tax upon the labor of those employed
in extracting this precious metal, and I doubt not you will be disposed at
the earliest period possible to relieve them from it by the establishment
of a mint. In the meantime, as an assayer's office is established there, I
would respectfully submit for your consideration the propriety of
authorizing gold bullion which has been assayed and stamped to be received
in payment of Government dues. I can not conceive that the Treasury would
suffer any loss by such a provision, which will at once raise bullion to
its par value, and thereby save (if I am rightly informed) many millions of
dollars to the laborers which are now paid in brokerage to convert this
precious metal into available funds. This discount upon their hard earnings
is a heavy tax, and every effort should be made by the Government to
relieve them from so great a burden.

More than three-fourths of our population are engaged in the cultivation of
the soil. The commercial, manufacturing, and navigating interests are all
to a great extent dependent on the agricultural. It is therefore the most
important interest of the nation, and has a just claim to the fostering
care and protection of the Government so far as they can be extended
consistently with the provisions of the Constitution. As this can not be
done by the ordinary modes of legislation, I respectfully recommend the
establishment of an agricultural bureau, to be charged with the duty of
giving to this leading branch of American industry the encouragement which
it so well deserves. In view of the immense mineral resources of our
country, provision should also be made for the employment of a competent
mineralogist and chemist, who should be required, under the direction of
the head of the bureau, to collect specimens of the various minerals of our
country and to ascertain by careful analysis their respective elements and
properties and their adaptation to useful purposes. He should also be
required to examine and report upon the qualities of different soils and
the manures best calculated to improve their productiveness. By publishing
the results of such experiments, with suitable explanations, and by the
collection and distribution of rare seeds and plants, with instructions as
to the best system of cultivation, much may be done to promote this great
national interest.

In compliance with the act of Congress passed on the 23d of May, 1850,
providing, among other things, for taking the Seventh Census, a
superintendent was appointed and all other measures adopted which were
deemed necessary to insure the prompt and faithful performance of that
duty. The appropriation already made will, it is believed, be sufficient to
defray the whole expense of the work, but further legislation may be
necessary in regard to the compensation of some of the marshals of the
Territories. It will also be proper to make provision by law at an early
day for the publication of such abstracts of the returns as the public
interests may require.

The unprecedented growth of our territories on the Pacific in wealth and
population and the consequent increase of their social and commercial
relations with the Atlantic States seem to render it the duty of the
Government to use all its constitutional power to improve the means of
intercourse with them. The importance of opening "a line of communication,
the best and most expeditious of which the nature of the country will
admit," between the Valley of the Mississippi and the Pacific was brought
to your notice by my predecessor in his annual message; and as the reasons
which he presented in favor of the measure still exist in full force, I beg
leave to call your attention to them and to repeat the recommendations then
made by him.

The uncertainty which exists in regard to the validity of land titles in
California is a subject which demands your early consideration. Large
bodies of land in that State are claimed under grants said to have been
made by authority of the Spanish and Mexican Governments. Many of these
have not been perfected, others have been revoked, and some are believed to
be fraudulent. But until they shall have been judicially investigated they
will continue to retard the settlement and improvement of the country. I
therefore respectfully recommend that provision be made by law for the
appointment of commissioners to examine all such claims with a view to
their final adjustment.

I also beg leave to call your attention to the propriety of extending at an
early day our system of land laws, with such modifications as may be
necessary, over the State of California and the Territories of Utah and New
Mexico. The mineral lands of California will, of course, form an exception
to any general system which may be adopted. Various methods of disposing of
them have been suggested. I was at first inclined to favor the system of
leasing, as it seemed to promise the largest revenue to the Government and
to afford the best security against monopolies; but further reflection and
our experience in leasing the lead mines and selling lands upon credit have
brought my mind to the conclusion that there would be great difficulty in
collecting the rents, and that the relation of debtor and creditor between
the citizens and the Government would be attended with many mischievous
consequences. I therefore recommend that instead of retaining the mineral
lands under the permanent control of the Government they be divided into
small parcels and sold, under such restrictions as to quantity and time as
will insure the best price and guard most effectually against combinations
of capitalists to obtain monopolies.

The annexation of Texas and the acquisition of California and New Mexico
have given increased importance to our Indian relations. The various tribes
brought under our jurisdiction by these enlargements of our boundaries are
estimated to embrace a population of 124,000. Texas and New Mexico are
surrounded by powerful tribes of Indians, who are a source of constant
terror and annoyance to the inhabitants. Separating into small predatory
bands, and always mounted, they overrun the country, devastating farms,
destroying crops, driving off whole herds of cattle, and occasionally
murdering the inhabitants or carrying them into captivity. The great roads
leading into the country are infested with them, whereby traveling is
rendered extremely dangerous and immigration is almost entirely arrested.
The Mexican frontier, which by the eleventh article of the treaty of
Guadalupe Hidalgo we are bound to protect against the Indians within our
border, is exposed to these incursions equally with our own. The military
force stationed in that country, although forming a large proportion of the
Army, is represented as entirely inadequate to our own protection and the
fulfillment of our treaty stipulations with Mexico. The principal
deficiency is in cavalry, and I recommend that Congress should, at as early
a period as practicable, provide for the raising of one or more regiments
of mounted men.

For further suggestions on this subject and others connected with our
domestic interests and the defense of our frontier, I refer you to the
reports of the Secretary of the Interior and of the Secretary of War.

I commend also to your favorable consideration the suggestion contained in
the last-mentioned report and in the letter of the General in Chief
relative to the establishment of an asylum for the relief of disabled and
destitute soldiers. This subject appeals so strongly to your sympathies
that it would be superfluous in me to say anything more than barely to
express my cordial approbation of the proposed object.

The Navy continues to give protection to our commerce and other national
interests in the different quarters of the globe, and, with the exception
of a single steamer on the Northern lakes, the vessels in commission are
distributed in six different squadrons.

The report of the head of that Department will exhibit the services of
these squadrons and of the several vessels employed in each during the past
year. It is a source of gratification that, while they have been constantly
prepared for any hostile emergency, they have everywhere met with the
respect and courtesy due as well to the dignity as to the peaceful
dispositions and just purposes of the nation.

The two brigantines accepted by the Government from a generous citizen of
New York and placed under the command of an officer of the Navy to proceed
to the Arctic Seas in quest of the British commander Sir John Franklin and
his companions, in compliance with the act of Congress approved in May
last, had when last heard from penetrated into a high northern latitude;
but the success of this noble and humane enterprise is yet uncertain.

I invite your attention to the view of our present naval establishment and
resources presented in the report of the Secretary of the Navy, and the
suggestions therein made for its improvement, together with the naval
policy recommended for the security of our Pacific Coast and the protection
and extension of our commerce with eastern Asia. Our facilities for a
larger participation in the trade of the East, by means of our recent
settlements on the shores of the Pacific, are too obvious to be overlooked
or disregarded.

The questions in relation to rank in the Army and Navy and relative rank
between officers of the two branches of the service, presented to the
Executive by certain resolutions of the House of Representatives at the
last session of Congress, have been submitted to a board of officers in
each branch of the service, and their report may be expected at an early

I also earnestly recommend the enactment of a law authorizing officers of
the Army and Navy to be retired from the service when incompetent for its
vigorous and active duties, taking care to make suitable provision for
those who have faithfully served their country and awarding distinctions by
retaining in appropriate commands those who have been particularly
conspicuous for gallantry and good conduct. While the obligation of the
country to maintain and honor those who, to the exclusion of other
pursuits, have devoted themselves to its arduous service is acknowledged,
this obligation should not be permitted to interfere with the efficiency of
the service itself.

I am gratified in being able to state that the estimates of expenditure for
the Navy in the ensuing year are less by more than $1,000,000 than those of
the present, excepting the appropriation which may become necessary for the
construction of a dock on the coast of the Pacific, propositions for which
are now being considered and on which a special report may be expected
early in your present session.

There is an evident justness in the suggestion of the same report that
appropriations for the naval service proper should be separated from those
for fixed and permanent objects, such as building docks and navy yards and
the fixtures attached, and from the extraordinary objects under the care of
the Department which, however important, are not essentially naval.

A revision of the code for the government of the Navy seems to require the
immediate consideration of Congress. Its system of crimes and punishments
had undergone no change for half a century until the last session, though
its defects have been often and ably pointed out; and the abolition of a
particular species of corporal punishment, which then took place, without
providing any substitute, has left the service in a state of defectiveness
which calls for prompt correction. I therefore recommend that the whole
subject be revised without delay and such a system established for the
enforcement of discipline as shall be at once humane and effectual.

The accompanying report of the Postmaster-General presents a satisfactory
view of the operations and condition of that Department. At the close of
the last fiscal year the length of the inland mail routes in the United
States (not embracing the service in Oregon and California) was 178,672
miles, the annual transportation thereon 46,541,423 miles, and the annual
cost of such transportation $2,724,426. The increase of the annual
transportation over that of the preceding year was 3,997,354 miles and the
increase in cost was $342,440. The number of post-offices in the United
States on the 1st day of July last was 18,417, being an increase of 1,670
during the preceding year.

The gross revenues of the Department for the fiscal year ending June 30,
1850, amounted to $5,552,971.48, including the annual appropriation of
$200,000 for the franked matter of the Departments and excluding the
foreign postages collected for and payable to the British Government.

The expenditures for the same period were $5,212,953.43, leaving a balance
of revenue over expenditures of $340,018.05.

I am happy to find that the fiscal condition of the Department is such as
to justify the Postmaster-General in recommending the reduction of our
inland letter postage to 3 cents the single letter when prepaid and 5 cents
when not prepaid. He also recommends that the prepaid rate shall be reduced
to 2 cents whenever the revenues of the Department, after the reduction,
shall exceed its expenditures by more than 5 per cent for two consecutive
years; that the postage upon California and other letters sent by our ocean
steamers shall be much reduced, and that the rates of postage on
newspapers, pamphlets, periodicals, and other printed matter shall be
modified and some reduction thereon made.

It can not be doubted that the proposed reductions will for the present
diminish the revenues of the Department. It is believed that the
deficiency, after the surplus already accumulated shall be exhausted, may
be almost wholly met either by abolishing the existing privileges of
sending free matter through the mails or by paying out of the Treasury to
the Post-Office Department a sum equivalent to the postage of which it is
deprived by such privileges. The last is supposed to be the preferable
mode, and will, if not entirely, so nearly supply that deficiency as to
make any further appropriation that may be found necessary so
inconsiderable as to form no obstacle to the proposed reductions.

I entertain no doubt of the authority of Congress to make appropriations
for leading objects in that class of public works comprising what are
usually called works of internal improvement. This authority I suppose to
be derived chiefly from the power of regulating commerce with foreign
nations and among the States and the power of laying and collecting
imposts. Where commerce is to be carried on and imposts collected there
must be ports and harbors as well as wharves and custom-houses. If ships
laden with valuable cargoes approach the shore or sail along the coast,
light-houses are necessary at suitable points for the protection of life
and property. Other facilities and securities for commerce and navigation
are hardly less important; and those clauses of the Constitution,
therefore, to which I have referred have received from the origin of the
Government a liberal and beneficial construction. Not only have
light-houses, buoys, and beacons been established and floating lights
maintained, but harbors have been cleared and improved, piers constructed,
and even breakwaters for the safety of shipping and sea walls to protect
harbors from being filled up and rendered useless by the action of the
ocean, have been erected at very great expense. And this construction of
the Constitution appears the more reasonable from the consideration that if
these works, of such evident importance and utility, are not to be
accomplished by Congress they can not be accomplished at all. By the
adoption of the Constitution the several States voluntarily parted with the
power of collecting duties of imposts in their own ports, and it is not to
be expected that they should raise money by internal taxation, direct or
indirect, for the benefit of that commerce the revenues derived from which
do not, either in whole or in part, go into their own treasuries. Nor do I
perceive any difference between the power of Congress to make
appropriations for objects of this kind on the ocean and the power to make
appropriations for similar objects on lakes and rivers, wherever they are
large enough to bear on their waters an extensive traffic. The magnificent
Mississippi and its tributaries and the vast lakes of the North and
Northwest appear to me to fall within the exercise of the power as justly
and as clearly as the ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. It is a mistake to
regard expenditures judiciously made for these objects as expenditures for
local purposes. The position or sight of the work is necessarily local, but
its utility is general. A ship canal around the Falls of St. Mary of less
than a mile in length, though local in its construction, would yet be
national in its purpose and its benefits, as it would remove the only
obstruction to a navigation of more than 1,000 miles, affecting several
States, as well as our commercial relations with Canada. So, too, the
breakwater at the mouth of the Delaware is erected, not for the exclusive
benefit of the States bordering on the bay and river of that name, but for
that of the whole coastwise navigation of the United States and, to a
considerable extent, also of foreign commerce. If a ship be lost on the bar
at the entrance of a Southern port for want of sufficient depth of water,
it is very likely to be a Northern ship; and if a steamboat be sunk in any
part of the Mississippi on account of its channel not having been properly
cleared of obstructions, it may be a boat belonging to either of eight or
ten States. I may add, as somewhat remarkable, that among all the
thirty-one States there is none that is not to a greater or less extent
bounded on the ocean, or the Gulf of Mexico, or one of the Great Lakes, or
some navigable river.

In fulfilling our constitutional duties, fellow-citizens, on this subject,
as in carrying into effect all other powers conferred by the Constitution,
we should consider ourselves as deliberating and acting for one and the
same country, and bear constantly in mind that our regard and our duty are
due not to a particular part only, but to the whole.

I therefore recommend that appropriations be made for completing such works
as have been already begun and for commencing such others as may seem to
the wisdom of Congress to be of public and general importance.

The difficulties and delays incident to the settlement of private claims by
Congress amount in many cases to a denial of justice. There is reason to
apprehend that many unfortunate creditors of the Government have thereby
been unavoidably ruined. Congress has so much business of a public
character that it is impossible it should give much attention to mere
private claims, and their accumulation is now so great that many claimants
must despair of ever being able to obtain a hearing. It may well be doubted
whether Congress, from the nature of its organization, is properly
constituted to decide upon such cases. It is impossible that each member
should examine the merits of every claim on which he is compelled to vote,
and it is preposterous to ask a judge to decide a case which he has never
heard. Such decisions may, and frequently must, do injustice either to the
claimant or the Government, and I perceive no better remedy for this
growing evil than the establishment of some tribunal to adjudicate upon
such claims. I beg leave, therefore, most respectfully to recommend that
provision be made by law for the appointment of a commission to settle all
private claims against the United States; and as an ex parte hearing must
in all contested cases be very unsatisfactory, I also recommend the
appointment of a solicitor, whose duty it shall be to represent the
Government before such commission and protect it against all illegal,
fraudulent, or unjust claims which may be presented for their adjudication.
This District, which has neither voice nor vote in your deliberations,
looks to you for protection and aid, and I commend all its wants to your
favorable consideration, with a full confidence that you will meet them not
only with justice, but with liberality. It should be borne in mind that in
this city, laid out by Washington and consecrated by his name, is located
the Capitol of our nation, the emblem of our Union and the symbol of our
greatness. Here also are situated all the public buildings necessary for
the use of the Government, and all these are exempt from taxation. It
should be the pride of Americans to render this place attractive to the
people of the whole Republic and convenient and safe for the transaction of
the public business and the preservation of the public records. The
Government should therefore bear a liberal proportion of the burdens of all
necessary and useful improvements. And as nothing could contribute more to
the health, comfort, and safety of the city and the security of the public
buildings and records than an abundant supply of pure water, I respectfully
recommend that you make such provisions for obtaining the same as in your
wisdom you may deem proper.

The act, passed at your last session, making certain propositions to Texas
for settling the disputed boundary between that State and the Territory of
New Mexico was, immediately on its passage, transmitted by express to the
governor of Texas, to be laid by him before the general assembly for its
agreement thereto. Its receipt was duly acknowledged, but no official
information has yet been received of the action of the general assembly
thereon. It may, however, be very soon expected, as, by the terms of the
propositions submitted they were to have been acted upon on or before the
first day of the present month.

It was hardly to have been expected that the series of measures passed at
your last session with the view of healing the sectional differences which
had sprung from the slavery and territorial questions should at once have
realized their beneficent purpose. All mutual concession in the nature of a
compromise must necessarily be unwelcome to men of extreme opinions. And
though without such concessions our Constitution could not have been
formed, and can not be permanently sustained, yet we have seen them made
the subject of bitter controversy in both sections of the Republic. It
required many months of discussion and deliberation to secure the
concurrence of a majority of Congress in their favor. It would be strange
if they had been received with immediate approbation by people and States
prejudiced and heated by the exciting controversies of their
representatives. I believe those measures to have been required by the
circumstances and condition of the country. I believe they were necessary
to allay asperities and animosities that were rapidly alienating one
section of the country from another and destroying those fraternal
sentiments which are the strongest supports of the Constitution. They were
adopted in the spirit of conciliation and for the purpose of conciliation.
I believe that a great majority of our fellow citizens sympathize in that
spirit and that purpose, and in the main approve and are prepared in all
respects to sustain these enactments. I can not doubt that the American
people, bound together by kindred blood and common traditions, still
cherish a paramount regard for the Union of their fathers, and that they
are ready to rebuke any attempt to violate its integrity, to disturb the
compromises on which it is based, or to resist the laws which have been
enacted under its authority.

The series of measures to which I have alluded are regarded by me as a
settlement in principle and substance--a final settlement of the dangerous
and exciting subjects which they embraced. Most of these subjects, indeed,
are beyond your reach, as the legislation which disposed of them was in its
character final and irrevocable. It may be presumed from the opposition
which they all encountered that none of those measures was free from
imperfections, but in their mutual dependence and connection they formed a
system of compromise the most conciliatory and best for the entire country
that could be obtained from conflicting sectional interests and opinions.

For this reason I recommend your adherence to the adjustment established by
those measures until time and experience shall demonstrate the necessity of
further legislation to guard against evasion or abuse.

By that adjustment we have been rescued from the wide and boundless
agitation that surrounded us, and have a firm, distinct, and legal ground
to rest upon. And the occasion, I trust, will justify me in exhorting my
countrymen to rally upon and maintain that ground as the best, if not the
only, means of restoring peace and quiet to the country and maintaining
inviolate the integrity of the Union.

And now, fellow-citizens, I can not bring this communication to a close
without invoking you to join me in humble and devout thanks to the Great
Ruler of Nations for the multiplied blessings which He has graciously
bestowed upon us. His hand, so often visible in our preservation, has
stayed the pestilence, saved us from foreign wars and domestic
disturbances, and scattered plenty throughout the land.

Our liberties, religions and civil, have been maintained, the fountains of
knowledge have all been kept open, and means of happiness widely spread and
generally enjoyed greater than have fallen to the lot of any other nation.
And while deeply penetrated with gratitude for the past, let us hope that
His all-wise providence will so guide our counsels as that they shall
result in giving satisfaction to our constituents, securing the peace of
the country, and adding new strength to the united Government under which
we live.


State of the Union Address
Millard Fillmore
December 2, 1851

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

I congratulate you and our common constituency upon the favorable auspices
under which you meet for your first session. Our country is at peace with
all the world. The agitation which for a time threatened to disturb the
fraternal relations which make us one people is fast subsiding, and a year
of general prosperity and health has crowned the nation with unusual
blessings. None can look back to the dangers which are passed or forward to
the bright prospect before us without feeling a thrill of gratification, at
the same time that he must be impressed with a grateful sense of our
profound obligations to a beneficent Providence, whose paternal care is so
manifest in the happiness of this highly favored land.

Since the close of the last Congress certain Cubans and other foreigners
resident in the United States, who were more or less concerned in the
previous invasion of Cuba, instead of being discouraged by its failure have
again abused the hospitality of this country by making it the scene of the
equipment of another military expedition against that possession of Her
Catholic Majesty, in which they were countenanced, aided, and joined by
citizens of the United States. On receiving intelligence that such designs
were entertained, I lost no time in issuing such instructions to the proper
officers of the United States as seemed to be called for by the occasion.
By the proclamation a copy of which is herewith submitted I also warned
those who might be in danger of being inveigled into this scheme of its
unlawful character and of the penalties which they would incur. For some
time there was reason to hope that these measures had sufficed to prevent
any such attempt. This hope, however, proved to be delusive. Very early in
the morning of the 3d of August a steamer called the Pampero departed from
New Orleans for Cuba, having on board upward of 400 armed men with evident
intentions to make war upon the authorities of the island. This expedition
was set on foot in palpable violation of the laws of the United States. Its
leader was a Spaniard, and several of the chief officers and some others
engaged in it were foreigners. The persons composing it, however, were
mostly citizens of the United States.

Before the expedition set out, and probably before it was organized, a
slight insurrectionary movement, which appears to have been soon
suppressed, had taken place in the eastern quarter of Cuba. The importance
of this movement was, unfortunately, so much exaggerated in the accounts of
it published in this country that these adventurers seem to have been led
to believe that the Creole population of the island not only desired to
throw off the authority of the mother country, but had resolved upon that
step and had begun a well-concerted enterprise for effecting it. The
persons engaged in the expedition were generally young and ill informed.
The steamer in which they embarked left New Orleans stealthily and without
a clearance. After touching at Key West, she proceeded to the coast of
Cuba, and on the night between the 11th and 12th of August landed the
persons on board at Playtas, within about 20 leagues of Havana.

The main body of them proceeded to and took possession of an inland village
6 leagues distant, leaving others to follow in charge of the baggage as
soon as the means of transportation could be obtained. The latter, having
taken up their line of march to connect themselves with the main body, and
having proceeded about 4 leagues into the country, were attacked on the
morning of the 13th by a body of Spanish troops, and a bloody conflict
ensued, after which they retreated to the place of disembarkation, where
about 50 of them obtained boats and reembarked therein. They were, however,
intercepted among the keys near the shore by a Spanish steamer cruising on
the coast, captured and carried to Havana, and after being examined before
a military court were sentenced to be publicly executed, and the sentence
was carried into effect on the 16th of August.

On receiving information of what had occurred Commodore Foxhall A. Parker
was instructed to proceed in the steam frigate Saranac to Havana and
inquire into the charges against the persons executed, the circumstances
under which they were taken, and whatsoever referred to their trial and
sentence. Copies of the instructions from the Department of State to him
and of his letters to that Department are herewith submitted.

According to the record of the examination, the prisoners all admitted the
offenses charged against them, of being hostile invaders of the island. At
the time of their trial and execution the main body of the invaders was
still in the field making war upon the Spanish authorities and Spanish
subjects. After the lapse of some days, being overcome by the Spanish
troops, they dispersed on the 24th of August. Lopez, their leader, was
captured some days after, and executed on the 1st of September. Many of his
remaining followers were killed or died of hunger and fatigue, and the rest
were made prisoners. Of these none appear to have been tried or executed.
Several of them were pardoned upon application of their friends and others,
and the rest, about 160 in number, were sent to Spain. Of the final
disposition made of these we have no official information.

Such is the melancholy result of this illegal and ill-fated expedition.
Thus thoughtless young men have been induced by false and fraudulent
representations to violate the law of their country through rash and
unfounded expectations of assisting to accomplish political revolutions in
other states, and have lost their lives in the undertaking. Too severe a
judgment can hardly be passed by the indignant sense of the community upon
those who, being better informed themselves, have yet led away the ardor of
youth and an ill-directed love of political liberty. The correspondence
between this Government and that of Spain relating to this transaction is
herewith communicated.

Although these offenders against the laws have forfeited the protection of
their country, yet the Government may, so far as consistent with its
obligations to other countries and its fixed purpose to maintain and
enforce the laws, entertain sympathy for their unoffending families and
friends, as well as a feeling of compassion for themselves. Accordingly, no
proper effort has been spared and none will be spared to procure the
release of such citizens of the United States engaged in this unlawful
enterprise as are now in confinement in Spain; but it is to be hoped that
such interposition with the Government of that country may not be
considered as affording any ground of expectation that the Government of
the United States will hereafter feel itself under any obligation of duty
to intercede for the liberation or pardon of such persons as are flagrant
offenders against the law of nations and the laws of the United States.
These laws must be executed. If we desire to maintain our respectability
among the nations of the earth, it behooves us to enforce steadily and
sternly the neutrality acts passed by Congress and to follow as far as may
be the violation of those acts with condign punishment.

But what gives a peculiar criminality to this invasion of Cuba is that,
under the lead of Spanish subjects and with the aid of citizens of the
United States, it had its origin with many in motives of cupidity. Money
was advanced by individuals, probably in considerable amounts, to purchase
Cuban bonds, as they have been called, issued by Lopez, sold, doubtless, at
a very large discount, and for the payment of which the public lands and
public property of Cuba, of whatever kind, and the fiscal resources of the
people and government of that island, from whatever source to be derived,
were pledged, as well as the good faith of the government expected to be
established. All these means of payment, it is evident, were only to be
obtained by a process of bloodshed, war, and revolution. None will deny
that those who set on foot military expeditions against foreign states by
means like these are far more culpable than the ignorant and the
necessitous whom they induce to go forth as the ostensible parties in the
proceeding. These originators of the invasion of Cuba seem to have
determined with coolness and system upon an undertaking which should
disgrace their country, violate its laws, and put to hazard the lives of
ill-informed and deluded men. You will consider whether further legislation
be necessary to prevent the perpetration of such offenses in future.

No individuals have a right to hazard the peace of the country or to
violate its laws upon vague notions of altering or reforming governments in
other states. This principle is not only reasonable in itself and in
accordance with public law, but is ingrafted into the codes of other
nations as well as our own. But while such are the sentiments of this
Government, it may be added that every independent nation must be presumed
to be able to defend its possessions against unauthorized individuals
banded together to attack them. The Government of the United States at all
times since its establishment has abstained and has sought to restrain the
citizens of the country from entering into controversies between other
powers, and to observe all the duties of neutrality. At an early period of
the Government, in the Administration of Washington, several laws were
passed for this purpose. The main provisions of these laws were reenacted
by the act of April, 1818, by which, amongst other things, it was declared

If any person shall, within the territory or jurisdiction of the United
States, begin, or set on foot, or provide or prepare the means for, any
military expedition or enterprise to be carried on from thence against the
territory or dominions of any foreign prince or state, or of any colony,
district, or people, with whom the United States are at peace, every person
so offending shall be deemed guilty of a high misdemeanor, and shall be
fined not exceeding $3,000 and imprisoned not more than three years.

And this law has been executed and enforced to the full extent of the power
of the Government from that day to this.

In proclaiming and adhering to the doctrine of neutrality and
nonintervention, the United States have not followed the lead of other
civilized nations; they have taken the lead themselves and have been
followed by others. This was admitted by one of the most eminent of modern
British statesmen, who said in Parliament, while a minister of the Crown,
"that if he wished for a guide in a system of neutrality he should take
that laid down by America in the days of Washington and the secretaryship
of Jefferson;" and we see, in fact, that the act of Congress of 1818 was
followed the succeeding year by an act of the Parliament of England
substantially the same in its general provisions. Up to that time there had
been no similar law in England, except certain highly penal statutes passed
in the reign of George II, prohibiting English subjects from enlisting in
foreign service, the avowed object of which statutes was that foreign
armies, raised for the purpose of restoring the house of Stuart to the
throne, should not be strengthened by recruits from England herself.

All must see that difficulties may arise in carrying the laws referred to
into execution in a country now having 3,000 or 4,000 miles of seacoast,
with an infinite number of ports and harbors and small inlets, from some of
which unlawful expeditious may suddenly set forth, without the knowledge of
Government, against the possessions of foreign states.

"Friendly relations with all, but entangling alliances with none," has long
been a maxim with us. Our true mission is not to propagate our opinions or
impose upon other countries our form of government by artifice or force,
but to teach by example and show by our success, moderation, and justice
the blessings of self-government and the advantages of free institutions.
Let every people choose for itself and make and alter its political
institutions to suit its own condition and convenience. But while we avow
and maintain this neutral policy ourselves, we are anxious to see the same
forbearance on the part of other nations whose forms of government are
different from our own. The deep interest which we feel in the spread of
liberal principles and the establishment of free governments and the
sympathy with which we witness every struggle against oppression forbid
that we should be indifferent to a case in which the strong arm of a
foreign power is invoked to stifle public sentiment and repress the spirit
of freedom in any country.

The Governments of Great Britain and France have issued orders to their
naval commanders on the West India station to prevent, by force if
necessary, the landing of adventurers from any nation on the island of Cuba
with hostile intent. The copy of a memorandum of a conversation on this
subject between the charge d'affaires of Her Britannic Majesty and the
Acting Secretary of State and of a subsequent note of the former to the
Department of State are herewith submitted, together with a copy of a note
of the Acting Secretary of State to the minister of the French Republic and
of the reply of the latter on the same subject. These papers will acquaint
you with the grounds of this interposition of two leading commercial powers
of Europe, and with the apprehensions, which this Government could not fail
to entertain, that such interposition, if carried into effect, might lead
to abuses in derogation of the maritime rights of the United States. The
maritime rights of the United States are founded on a firm, secure, and
well-defined basis; they stand upon the ground of national independence and
public law, and will be maintained in all their full and just extent. The
principle which this Government has heretofore solemnly announced it still
adheres to, and will maintain under all circumstances and at all hazards.
That principle is that in every regularly documented merchant vessel the
crew who navigate it and those on board of it will find their protection in
the flag which is over them. No American ship can be allowed to be visited
or searched for the purpose of ascertaining the character of individuals on
board, nor can there be allowed any watch by the vessels of any foreign
nation over American vessels on the coast of the United States or the seas
adjacent thereto. It will be seen by the last communication from the
British charge d'affaires to the Department of State that he is authorized
to assure the Secretary of State that every care will be taken that in
executing the preventive measures against the expeditions which the United
States Government itself has denounced as not being entitled to the
protection of any government no interference shall take place with the
lawful commerce of any nation.

In addition to the correspondence on this subject herewith submitted,
official information has been received at the Department of State of
assurances by the French Government that in the orders given to the French
naval forces they were expressly instructed, in any operations they might
engage in, to respect the flag of the United States wherever it might
appear, and to commit no act of hostility upon any vessel or armament under
its protection.

Ministers and consuls of foreign nations are the means and agents of
communication between us and those nations, and it is of the utmost
importance that while residing in the country they should feel a perfect
security so long as they faithfully discharge their respective duties and
are guilty of no violation of our laws. This is the admitted law of nations
and no country has a deeper interest in maintaining it than the United
States. Our commerce spreads over every sea and visits every clime, and our
ministers and consuls are appointed to protect the interests of that
commerce as well as to guard the peace of the country and maintain the
honor of its flag. But how can they discharge these duties unless they be
themselves protected? And if protected it must be by the laws of the
country in which they reside. And what is due to our own public
functionaries residing in foreign nations is exactly the measure of what is
due to the functionaries of other governments residing here. As in war the
bearers of flags of truce are sacred, or else wars would be interminable,
so in peace ambassadors, public ministers, and consuls, charged with
friendly national intercourse, are objects of especial respect and
protection, each according to the rights belonging to his rank and station.
In view of these important principles, it is with deep mortification and
regret I announce to you that during the excitement growing out of the
executions at Havana the office of Her Catholic Majesty's consul at New
Orleans was assailed by a mob, his property destroyed, the Spanish flag
found in the office carried off and torn in pieces, and he himself induced
to flee for his personal safety, which he supposed to be in danger. On
receiving intelligence of these events I forthwith directed the attorney of
the United States residing at New Orleans to inquire into the facts and the
extent of the pecuniary loss sustained by the consul, with the intention of
laying them before you, that you might make provision for such indemnity to
him as a just regard for the honor of the nation and the respect which is
due to a friendly power might, in your judgment, seem to require. The
correspondence upon this subject between the Secretary of State and Her
Catholic Majesty's minister plenipotentiary is herewith transmitted.

The occurrence at New Orleans has led me to give my attention to the state
of our laws in regard to foreign ambassadors, ministers, and consuls. I
think the legislation of the country is deficient in not providing
sufficiently either for the protection or the punishment of consuls. I
therefore recommend the subject to the consideration of Congress.

Your attention is again invited to the question of reciprocal trade between
the United States and Canada and other British possessions near our
frontier. Overtures for a convention upon this subject have been received
from Her Britannic Majesty's minister plenipotentiary, but it seems to be
in many respects preferable that the matter should be regulated by
reciprocal legislation. Documents are laid before you showing the terms
which the British Government is willing to offer and the measures which it
may adopt if some arrangement upon this subject shall not be made.

From the accompanying copy of a note from the British legation at
Washington and the reply of the Department of State thereto it will appear
that Her Britannic Majesty's Government is desirous that a part of the
boundary line between Oregon and the British possessions should be
authoritatively marked out, and that an intention was expressed to apply to
Congress for an appropriation to defray the expense thereof on the part of
the United States. Your attention to this subject is accordingly invited
and a proper appropriation recommended. A convention for the adjustment of
claims of citizens of the United States against Portugal has been concluded
and the ratifications have been exchanged. The first installment of the
amount to be paid by Portugal fell due on the 30th of September last and
has been paid. The President of the French Republic, according to the
provisions of the convention, has been selected as arbiter in the case of
the General Armstrong, and has signified that he accepts the trust and the
high satisfaction he feels in acting as the common friend of two nations
with which France is united by sentiments of sincere and lasting amity.

The Turkish Government has expressed its thanks for the kind reception
given to the Sultan's agent, Amin Bey, on the occasion of his recent visit
to the United States. On the 28th of February last a dispatch was addressed
by the Secretary of State to Mr. Marsh, the American minister at
Constantinople, instructing him to ask of the Turkish Government permission
for the Hungarians then imprisoned within the dominions of the Sublime
Porte to remove to this country. On the 3d of March last both Houses of
Congress passed a resolution requesting the President to authorize the
employment of a public vessel to convey to this country Louis Kossuth and
his associates in captivity. The instruction above referred to was complied
with, and the Turkish Government having released Governor Kossuth and his
companions from prison, on the 10th of September last they embarked on
board of the United States steam frigate Mississippi, which was selected to
carry into effect the resolution of Congress. Governor Kossuth left the
Mississippi at Gibraltar for the purpose of making a visit to England, and
may shortly be expected in New York. By communications to the Department of
State he has expressed his grateful acknowledgments for the interposition
of this Government in behalf of himself and his associates. This country
has been justly regarded as a safe asylum for those whom political events
have exiled from their own homes in Europe. and it is recommended to
Congress to consider in what manner Governor Kossuth and his companions,
brought hither by its authority, shall be received and treated.

It is earnestly to be hoped that the differences which have for some time
past been pending between the Government of the French Republic and that of
the Sandwich Islands may be peaceably and durably adjusted so as to secure
the independence of those islands. Long before the events which have of
late imparted so much importance to the possessions of the United States on
the Pacific we acknowledged the independence of the Hawaiian Government.
This Government was first in taking that step, and several of the leading
powers of Europe immediately followed. We were influenced in this measure
by the existing and prospective importance of the islands as a place of
refuge and refreshment for our vessels engaged in the whale fishery, and by
the consideration that they lie in the course of the great trade which must
at no distant day be carried on between the western coast of North America
and eastern Asia.

We were also influenced by a desire that those islands should not pass
under the control of any other great maritime state, but should remain in
an independent condition, and so be accessible and useful to the commerce
of all nations. I need not say that the importance of these considerations
has been greatly enhanced by the sudden and vast development which the
interests of the United States have attained in California and Oregon, and
the policy heretofore adopted in regard to those islands will be steadily

It is gratifying, not only to those who consider the commercial interests
of nations, but also to all who favor the progress of knowledge and the
diffusion of religion, to see a community emerge from a savage state and
attain such a degree of civilization in those distant seas. It is much to
be deplored that the internal tranquillity of the Mexican Republic should
again be seriously disturbed, for since the peace between that Republic and
the United States it had enjoyed such comparative repose that the most
favorable anticipations for the future might with a degree of confidence
have been indulged. These, however, have been thwarted by the recent
outbreak in the State of Tamaulipas, on the right bank of the Rio Bravo.
Having received information that persons from the United States had taken
part in the insurrection, and apprehending that their example might be
followed by others, I caused orders to be issued for the purpose of
preventing any hostile expeditions against Mexico from being set on foot in
violation of the laws of the United States. I likewise issued a
proclamation upon the subject, a copy of which is herewith laid before you.
This appeared to be rendered imperative by the obligations of treaties and
the general duties of good neighborhood.

In my last annual message I informed Congress that citizens of the United
States had undertaken the connection of the two oceans by means of a
railroad across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, under a grant of the Mexican
Government to a citizen of that Republic, and that this enterprise would
probably be prosecuted with energy whenever Mexico should consent to such
stipulations with the Government of the United States as should impart a
feeling of security to those who should invest their property in the
enterprise. A convention between the two Governments for the accomplishment
of that end has been ratified by this Government, and only awaits the
decision of the Congress and the Executive of that Republic.

Some unexpected difficulties and delays have arisen in the ratification of
that convention by Mexico, but it is to be presumed that her decision will
be governed by just and enlightened views, as well of the general
importance of the object as of her own interests and obligations.

In negotiating upon this important subject this Government has had in view
one, and only one, object. That object has been, and is, the construction
or attainment of a passage from ocean to ocean, the shortest and the best
for travelers and merchandise, and equally open to all the world. It has
sought to obtain no territorial acquisition, nor any advantages peculiar to
itself; and it would see with the greatest regret that Mexico should oppose
any obstacle to the accomplishment of an enterprise which promises so much
convenience to the whole commercial world and such eminent advantages to
Mexico herself. Impressed with these sentiments and these convictions, the
Government will continue to exert all proper efforts to bring about the
necessary arrangement with the Republic of Mexico for the speedy completion
of the work. For some months past the Republic of Nicaragua has been the
theater of one of those civil convulsions from which the cause of free
institutions and the general prosperity and social progress of the States
of Central America have so often and so severely suffered. Until quiet
shall have been restored and a government apparently stable shall have been
organized, no advance can prudently be made in disposing of the questions
pending between the two countries.

I am happy to announce that an interoceanic communication from the mouth of
the St. John to the Pacific has been so far accomplished as that passengers
have actually traversed it and merchandise has been transported over it,
and when the canal shall have been completed according to the original plan
the means of communication will be further improved. It is understood that
a considerable part of the railroad across the Isthmus of Panama has been
completed, and that the mail and passengers will in future be conveyed
thereon. Whichever of the several routes between the two oceans may
ultimately prove most eligible for travelers to and from the different
States on the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico and our coast on the Pacific,
there is little reason to doubt that all of them will be useful to the
public, and will liberally reward that individual enterprise by which alone
they have been or are expected to be carried into effect. Peace has been
concluded between the contending parties in the island of St. Domingo, and,
it is hoped, upon a durable basis. Such is the extent of our commercial
relations with that island that the United States can not fail to feel a
strong interest in its tranquillity. The office of commissioner to China
remains unfilled. Several persons have been appointed, and the place has
been offered to others, all of whom have declined its acceptance on the
ground of the inadequacy of the compensation. The annual allowance by law
is $6,000, and there is no provision for any outfit. I earnestly recommend
the consideration of this subject to Congress. Our commerce with China is
highly important, and is becoming more and more so in consequence of the
increasing intercourse between our ports on the Pacific Coast and eastern
Asia. China is understood to be a country in which living is very
expensive, and I know of no reason why the American commissioner sent
thither should not be placed, in regard to compensation, on an equal
footing with ministers who represent this country at the Courts of Europe.

By reference to the report of the Secretary of the Treasury it will be seen
that the aggregate receipts for the last fiscal year amounted to
$52,312,979.87, which, with the balance in the Treasury on the 1st July,
1850, gave as the available means for the year the sum of $58,917,524.36.

The total expenditures for the same period were $48,005,878.68. The total
imports for the year ending June 30, 1851, were $215,725,995, of which
there were in specie $4,967,901. The exports for the same period were
$217,517,130, of which there were of domestic products $178,546,555;
foreign goods reexported, $9,738,695; specie, $29,231,880.

Since the 1st of December last the payments in cash on account of the
public debt, exclusive of interest, have amounted to $7,501,456.56, which,
however, includes the sum of $3,242,400, paid under the twelfth article of
the treaty with Mexico, and the further sum of $2,591,213.45, being the
amount of awards to American citizens under the late treaty with Mexico,
for which the issue of stock was authorized, but which was paid in cash
from the Treasury.

The public debt on the 20th ultimo, exclusive of the stock authorized to be
issued to Texas by the act of 9th September, 1850, was $62,560,395.26.

The receipts for the next fiscal year are estimated at $51,800,000, which,
with the probable unappropriated balance in the Treasury on the 30th June
next, will give as the probable available means for that year the sum of

It has been deemed proper, in view of the large expenditures consequent
upon the acquisition of territory from Mexico, that the estimates for the
next fiscal year should be laid before Congress in such manner as to
distinguish the expenditures so required from the otherwise ordinary
demands upon the Treasury.

The total expenditures for the next fiscal year are estimated at
$42,892,299.19, of which there is required for the ordinary purposes of the
Government, other than those consequent upon the acquisition of our new
territories, and deducting the payments on account of the public debt, the
sum of $33,343,198.08, and for the purposes connected, directly or
indirectly, with those territories and in the fulfillment of the
obligations of the Government contracted in consequence of their
acquisition the sum of $9,549,101.11.

If the views of the Secretary of the Treasury in reference to the
expenditures required for these territories shall be met by corresponding
action on the part of Congress, and appropriations made in accordance
therewith, there will be an estimated unappropriated balance in the
Treasury on the 30th June, 1853, of $20,366,443.90 wherewith to meet that
portion of the public debt due on the 1st of July following, amounting to
$6,237,931.35, as well as any appropriations which may be made beyond the

In thus referring to the estimated expenditures on account of our newly
acquired territories, I may express the hope that Congress will concur with
me in the desire that a liberal course of policy may be pursued toward
them, and that every obligation, express or implied, entered into in
consequence of their acquisition shall be fulfilled by the most liberal
appropriations for that purpose.

The values of our domestic exports for the last fiscal year, as compared
with those of the previous year, exhibit an increase of $43,646,322. At
first view this condition of our trade with foreign nations would seem to
present the most flattering hopes of its future prosperity. An examination
of the details of our exports, however, will show that the increased value
of our exports for the last fiscal year is to be found in the high price of
cotton which prevailed during the first half of that year, which price has
since declined about one-half.

The value of our exports of breadstuffs and provisions, which it was
supposed the incentive of a low tariff and large importations from abroad
would have greatly augmented, has fallen from $68,701,921 in 1847 to
$26,051,373 in 1850 and to $21,948,653 in 1851, with a strong probability,
amounting almost to a certainty, of a still further reduction in the
current year.

The aggregate values of rice exported during the last fiscal year, as
compared with the previous year, also exhibit a decrease, amounting to
$460,917, which, with a decline in the values of the exports of tobacco for
the same period, make an aggregate decrease in these two articles of

The policy which dictated a low rate of duties on foreign merchandise, it
was thought by those who promoted and established it, would tend to benefit
the farming population of this country by increasing the demand and raising
the price of agricultural products in foreign markets.

The foregoing facts, however, seem to show incontestably that no such
result has followed the adoption of this policy. On the contrary,
notwithstanding the repeal of the restrictive corn laws in England, the
foreign demand for the products of the American farmer has steadily
declined, since the short crops and consequent famine in a portion of
Europe have been happily replaced by full crops and comparative abundance
of food.

It will be seen by recurring to the commercial statistics for the past year
that the value of our domestic exports has been increased in the single
item of raw cotton by $40,000,000 over the value of that export for the
year preceding. This is not due to any increased general demand for that
article, but to the short crop of the preceding year, which created an
increased demand and an augmented price for the crop of last year. Should
the cotton crop now going forward to market be only equal in quantity to
that of the year preceding and be sold at the present prices, then there
would be a falling off in the value of our exports for the present fiscal
year of at least $40,000,000 compared with the amount exported for the year
ending 30th June, 1851.

The production of gold in California for the past year seems to promise a
large supply of that metal from that quarter for some time to come. This
large annual increase of the currency of the world must be attended with
its usual results. These have been already partially disclosed in the
enhancement of prices and a rising spirit of speculation and adventure,
tending to overtrading, as well at home as abroad. Unless some salutary
check shall be given to these tendencies it is to be feared that
importations of foreign goods beyond a healthy demand in this country will
lead to a sudden drain of the precious metals from us, bringing with it, as
it has done in former times, the most disastrous consequences to the
business and capital of the American people.

The exports of specie to liquidate our foreign debt during the past fiscal
year have been $24,963,979 over the amount of specie imported. The exports
of specie during the first quarter of the present fiscal year have been
$14,651,827. Should specie continue to be exported at this rate for the
remaining three quarters of this year, it will drain from our metallic
currency during the year ending 30th June, 1852, the enormous amount of

In the present prosperous condition of the national finances it will become
the duty of Congress to consider the best mode of paying off the public
debt. If the present and anticipated surplus in the Treasury should not be
absorbed by appropriations of an extraordinary character, this surplus
should be employed in such way and under such restrictions as Congress may
enact in extinguishing the outstanding debt of the nation.

By reference to the act of Congress approved 9th September, 1850, it will
be seen that, in consideration of certain concessions by the State of
Texas, it is provided that--

The United States shall pay to the State of Texas the sum of $10,000,000 in
a stock bearing 5 per cent interest and redeemable at the end of fourteen
years, the interest payable half-yearly at the Treasury of the United

In the same section of the law it is further provided--

That no more than five millions of said stock shall be issued until the
creditors of the State holding bonds and other certificates of stock of
Texas, for which duties on imports were specially pledged, shall first file
at the Treasury of the United States releases of all claims against the
United States for or on account of said bonds or certificates, in such form
as shall be prescribed by the Secretary of the Treasury and approved by the
President of the United States.

The form of release thus provided for has been prescribed by the Secretary
of the Treasury and approved. It has been published in all the leading
newspapers in the commercial cities of the United States, and all persons
holding claims of the kind specified in the foregoing proviso were required
to file their releases (in the form thus prescribed) in the Treasury of the
United States on or before the 1st day of October, 1851. Although this
publication has been continued from the 25th day of March, 1851, yet up to
the 1st of October last comparatively few releases had been filed by the
creditors of Texas.

The authorities of the State of Texas, at the request of the Secretary of
the Treasury, have furnished a schedule of the public debt of that State
created prior to her admission into the Union, with a copy of the laws
under which each class was contracted. I have, from the documents furnished
by the State of Texas, determined the classes of claims which in my
judgment fall within the provisions of the act of Congress of the 9th of
September, 1850.

On being officially informed of the acceptance by Texas of the propositions
contained in the act referred to I caused the stock to be prepared, and the
five millions which are to be issued unconditionally, bearing an interest
of 5 per cent from the 1st day of January, 1851, have been for some time
ready to be delivered to the State of Texas. The authorities of Texas up to
the present time have not authorized anyone to receive this stock, and it
remains in the Treasury Department subject to the order of Texas. The
releases required by law to be deposited in the Treasury not having been
filed there, the remaining five millions have not been issued. This last
amount of the stock will be withheld from Texas until the conditions upon
which it is to be delivered shall be complied with by the creditors of that
State, unless Congress shall otherwise direct by a modification of the

In my last annual message, to which I respectfully refer, I stated briefly
the reasons which induced me to recommend a modification of the present
tariff by converting the ad valorem into a specific duty wherever the
article imported was of such a character as to permit it, and that such a
discrimination should be made in favor of the industrial pursuits of our
own country as to encourage home production without excluding foreign

The numerous frauds which continue to be practiced upon the revenue by
false invoices and undervaluations constitute an unanswerable reason for
adopting specific instead of ad valorem duties in all cases where the
nature of the commodity does not forbid it. A striking illustration of
these frauds will be exhibited in the report of the Secretary of the
Treasury, showing the custom-house valuation of articles imported under a
former law, subject to specific duties, when there was no inducement to
undervaluation, and the custom-house valuations of the same articles under
the present system of ad valorem duties, so greatly reduced as to leave no
doubt of the existence of the most flagrant abuses under the existing laws.
This practical evasion of the present law, combined with the languishing
condition of some of the great interests of the country, caused by over
importations and consequent depressed prices, and with the failure in
obtaining a foreign market for our increasing surplus of breadstuffs and
provisions, has induced me again to recommend a modification of the
existing tariff. The report of the Secretary of the Interior, which
accompanies this communication, will present a condensed statement of the
operations of that important Department of the Government.

It will be seen that the cash sales of the public lands exceed those of the
preceding year, and that there is reason to anticipate a still further
increase, notwithstanding the large donations which have been made to many
of the States and the liberal grants to individuals as a reward for
military services. This fact furnishes very gratifying evidence of the
growing wealth and prosperity of our country.

Suitable measures have been adopted for commencing the survey of the public
lands in California and Oregon. Surveying parties have been organized and
some progress has been made in establishing the principal base and meridian
lines. But further legislation and additional appropriations will be
necessary before the proper subdivisions can be made and the general land
system extended over those remote parts of our territory.

On the 3d of March last an act was passed providing for the appointment of
three commissioners to settle private land claims in California. Three
persons were immediately appointed, all of whom, however, declined
accepting the office in consequence of the inadequacy of the compensation.
Others were promptly selected, who for the same reason also declined, and
it was not until late in the season that the services of suitable persons
could be secured. A majority of the commissioners convened in this city on
the 10th of September last, when detailed instructions were given to them
in regard to their duties. Their first meeting for the transaction of
business will be held in San Francisco on the 8th day of the present

I have thought it proper to refer to these facts, not only to explain the
causes of the delay in filling the commission, but to call your attention
to the propriety of increasing the compensation of the commissioners. The
office is one of great labor and responsibility, and the compensation
should be such as to command men of a high order of talents and the most
unquestionable integrity.

The proper disposal of the mineral lands of California is a subject
surrounded by great difficulties. In my last annual message I recommended
the survey and sale of them in small parcels under such restrictions as
would effectually guard against monopoly and speculation; but upon further
information, and in deference to the opinions of persons familiar with the
subject, I am inclined to change that recommendation and to advise that
they be permitted to remain as at present, a common field, open to the
enterprise and industry of all our citizens, until further experience shall
have developed the best policy to be ultimately adopted in regard to them.
It is safer to suffer the inconveniences that now exist for a short period
than by premature legislation to fasten on the country a system founded in
error, which may place the whole subject beyond the future control of

The agricultural lands should, however, be surveyed and brought into market
with as little delay as possible, that the titles may become settled and
the inhabitants stimulated to make permanent improvements and enter on the
ordinary pursuits of life. To effect these objects it is desirable that the
necessary provision be made by law for the establishment of land offices in
California and Oregon and for the efficient prosecution of the surveys at
an early day.

Some difficulties have occurred in organizing the Territorial governments
of New Mexico and Utah, and when more accurate information shall be
obtained of the causes a further communication will be made on that

In my last annual communication to Congress I recommended the establishment
of an agricultural bureau, and I take this occasion again to invoke your
favorable consideration of the subject.

Agriculture may justly be regarded as the great interest of our people.
Four-fifths of our active population are employed in the cultivation of the
soil, and the rapid expansion of our settlements over new territory is
daily adding to the number of those engaged in that vocation. Justice and
sound policy, therefore, alike require that the Government should use all
the means authorized by the Constitution to promote the interests and
welfare of that important class of our fellow-citizens. And yet it is a
singular fact that whilst the manufacturing and commercial interests have
engaged the attention of Congress during a large portion of every session
and our statutes abound in provisions for their protection and
encouragement, little has yet been done directly for the advancement of
agriculture. It is time that this reproach to our legislation should be
removed, and I sincerely hope that the present Congress will not close
their labors without adopting efficient means to supply the omissions of
those who have preceded them.

An agricultural bureau, charged with the duty of collecting and
disseminating correct information as to the best modes of cultivation and
of the most effectual means of preserving and restoring the fertility of
the soil and of procuring and distributing seeds and plants and other
vegetable productions, with instructions in regard to the soil, climate,
and treatment best adapted to their growth, could not fail to be, in the
language of Washington in his last annual message to Congress, a "very
cheap instrument of immense national benefit."

Regarding the act of Congress approved 28th September, 1850, granting
bounty lands to persons who had been engaged in the military service of the
country, as a great measure of national justice and munificence, an anxious
desire has been felt by the officers intrusted with its immediate execution
to give prompt effect to its provisions. All the means within their control
were therefore brought into requisition to expedite the adjudication of
claims, and I am gratified to be able to state that near 100,000
applications have been considered and about 70,000 warrants issued within
the short space of nine months. If adequate provision be made by law to
carry into effect the recommendations of the Department, it is confidently
expected that before the close of the next fiscal year all who are entitled
to the benefits of the act will have received their warrants.

The Secretary of the Interior has suggested in his report various
amendments of the laws relating to pensions and bounty lands for the
purpose of more effectually guarding against abuses and frauds on the
Government, to all of which I invite your particular attention. The large
accessions to our Indian population consequent upon the acquisition of New
Mexico and California and the extension of our settlements into Utah and
Oregon have given increased interest and importance to our relations with
the aboriginal race. No material change has taken place within the last
year in the condition and prospects of the Indian tribes who reside in the
Northwestern Territory and west of the Mississippi River. We are at peace
with all of them, and it will be a source of pleasure to you to learn that
they are gradually advancing in civilization and the pursuits of social

Along the Mexican frontier and in California and Oregon there have been
occasional manifestations of unfriendly feeling and some depredations
committed. I am satisfied, however, that they resulted more from the
destitute and starving condition of the Indians than from any settled
hostility toward the whites. As the settlements of our citizens progress
toward them, the game, upon which they mainly rely for subsistence, is
driven off or destroyed, and the only alternative left to them is
starvation or plunder. It becomes us to consider, in view of this condition
of things, whether justice and humanity, as well as an enlightened economy,
do not require that instead of seeking to punish them for offenses which
are the result of our own policy toward them we should not provide for
their immediate wants and encourage them to engage in agriculture and to
rely on their labor instead of the chase for the means of support.

Various important treaties have been negotiated with different tribes
during the year, by which their title to large and valuable tracts of
country has been extinguished, all of which will at the proper time be
submitted to the Senate for ratification.

The joint commission under the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo has been
actively engaged in running and marking the boundary line between the
United States and Mexico. It was stated in the last annual report of the
Secretary of the Interior that the initial point on the Pacific and the
point of junction of the Gila with the Colorado River had been determined
and the intervening line, about 150 miles in length, run and marked by
temporary monuments. Since that time a monument of marble has been erected
at the initial point, and permanent landmarks of iron have been placed at
suitable distances along the line.

The initial point on the Rio Grande has also been fixed by the
commissioners, at latitude 32 degrees 22', and at the date of the last
communication the survey of the line had been made thence westward about
150 miles to the neighborhood of the copper mines. The commission on our
part was at first organized on a scale which experience proved to be
unwieldy and attended with unnecessary expense. Orders have therefore been
issued for the reduction of the number of persons employed within the
smallest limits consistent with the safety of those engaged in the service
and the prompt and efficient execution of their important duties.

Returns have been received from all the officers engaged in taking the
census in the States and Territories except California. The superintendent
employed to make the enumeration in that State has not yet made his full
report, from causes, as he alleges, beyond his control. This failure is
much to be regretted, as it has prevented the Secretary of the Interior
from making the decennial apportionment of Representatives among the
States, as required by the act approved May 23, 1850. It is hoped, however,
that the returns will soon be received, and no time will then be lost in
making the necessary apportionment and in transmitting the certificates
required by law.

The Superintendent of the Seventh Census is diligently employed, under the
direction of the Secretary of the Interior, in classifying and arranging in
tabular form all the statistical information derived from the returns of
the marshals, and it is believed that when the work shall be completed it
will exhibit a more perfect view of the population, wealth, occupations,
and social condition of a great country than has ever been presented to the
world. The value of such a work as the basis of enlightened legislation can
hardly be overestimated, and I earnestly hope that Congress will lose no
time in making the appropriations necessary to complete the classifications
and to publish the results in a style worthy of the subject and of our
national character.

The want of a uniform fee bill, prescribing the compensation to be allowed
district attorneys, clerks, marshals, and commissioners in civil and
criminal cases, is the cause of much vexation, injustice, and complaint. I
would recommend a thorough revision of the laws on the whole subject and
the adoption of a tariff of fees which, as far as practicable, should be
uniform, and prescribe a specific compensation for every service which the
officer may be required to perform. This subject will be fully presented in
the report of the Secretary of the Interior. In my last annual message I
gave briefly my reasons for believing that you possessed the constitutional
power to improve the harbors of our Great Lakes and seacoast and the
navigation of our principal rivers, and recommended that appropriations
should be made for completing such works as had already been commenced and
for commencing such others as might seem to the wisdom of Congress to be of
public and general importance. Without repeating the reasons then urged, I
deem it my duty again to call your attention to this important subject. The
works on many of the harbors were left in an unfinished state, and
consequently exposed to the action of the elements, which is fast
destroying them. Great numbers of lives and vast amounts of property are
annually lost for want of safe and convenient harbors on the Lakes. None
but those who have been exposed to that dangerous navigation can fully
appreciate the importance of this subject. The whole Northwest appeals to
you for relief, and I trust their appeal will receive due consideration at
your hands.

The same is in a measure true in regard to some of the harbors and inlets
on the seacoast.

The unobstructed navigation of our large rivers is of equal importance. Our
settlements are now extending to the sources of the great rivers which
empty into and form a part of the Mississippi, and the value of the public
lands in those regions would be greatly enhanced by freeing the navigation
of those waters from obstructions. In view, therefore, of this great
interest, I deem it my duty again to urge upon Congress to make such
appropriations for these improvements as they may deem necessary.

The surveys of the Delta of the Mississippi, with a view to the prevention
of the overflows that have proved so disastrous to that region of country,
have been nearly completed, and the reports thereof are now in course of
preparation and will shortly be laid before you.

The protection of our southwestern frontier and of the adjacent Mexican
States against the Indian tribes within our border has claimed my earnest
and constant attention. Congress having failed at the last session to adopt
my recommendation that an additional regiment of mounted men specially
adapted to that service should be raised, all that remained to be done was
to make the best use of the means at my disposal. Accordingly, all the
troops adapted to that service that could properly be spared from other
quarters have been concentrated on that frontier and officers of high
reputation selected to command them. A new arrangement of the military
posts has also been made, whereby the troops are brought nearer to the
Mexican frontier and to the tribes they are intended to overawe.

Sufficient time has not yet elapsed to realize all the benefits that are
expected to result from these arrangements, but I have every reason to hope
that they will effectually check their marauding expeditions. The nature of
the country, which furnishes little for the support of an army and abounds
in places of refuge and concealment, is remarkably well adapted to this
predatory warfare, and we can scarcely hope that any military force,
combined with the greatest vigilance, can entirely suppress it.

By the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo we are bound to protect the territory of
Mexico against the incursions of the savage tribes within our border "with
equal diligence and energy" as if the same were made within our territory
or against our citizens. I have endeavored to comply as far as possible
with this provision of the treaty. Orders have been given to the officers
commanding on that frontier to consider the Mexican territory and its
inhabitants as equally with our own entitled to their protection, and to
make all their plans and arrangements with a view to the attainment of this
object. Instructions have also been given to the Indian commissioners and
agents among these tribes in all treaties to make the clauses designed for
the protection of our own citizens apply also to those of Mexico. I have no
reason to doubt that these instructions have been fully carried into
effect; nevertheless, it is probable that in spite of all our efforts some
of the neighboring States of Mexico may have suffered, as our own have,
from depredations by the Indians.

To the difficulties of defending our own territory, as above mentioned, are
superadded, in defending that of Mexico, those that arise from its
remoteness, from the fact that we have no right to station our troops
within her limits and that there is no efficient military force on the
Mexican side to cooperate with our own.

So long as this shall continue to be the case the number and activity of
our troops will rather increase than diminish the evil, as the Indians will
naturally turn toward that country where they encounter the least
resistance. Yet these troops are necessary to subdue them and to compel
them to make and observe treaties. Until this shall have been done neither
country will enjoy any security from their attacks.

The Indians in California, who had previously appeared of a peaceable
character and disposed to cultivate the friendship of the whites, have
recently committed several acts of hostility. As a large portion of the
reenforcements sent to the Mexican frontier were drawn from the Pacific,
the military force now stationed there is considered entirely inadequate to
its defense. It can not be increased, however, without an increase of the
Army, and I again recommend that measure as indispensable to the protection
of the frontier.

I invite your attention to the suggestions on this subject and on others
connected with his Department in the report of the Secretary of War. The
appropriations for the support of the Army during the current fiscal year
ending 30th June next were reduced far below the estimate submitted by the
Department. The consequence of this reduction is a considerable deficiency,
to which I invite your early attention. The expenditures of that Department
for the year ending 30th June last were $9,060,268.58, The estimates for
the year commencing 1st July next and ending June 30, 1853, are
$7,898,775.83, showing a reductions of $1,161,492.75, The board of
commissioners to whom the management of the affairs of the military asylum
created by the act of 3d March last was intrusted have selected a site for
the establishment of an asylum in the vicinity of this city, which has been
approved by me subject to the production of a satisfactory title.

The report of the Secretary of the Navy will exhibit the condition of the
public service under the supervision of that Department. Our naval force
afloat during the present year has been actively and usefully employed in
giving protection to our widely extended and increasing commerce and
interests in the various quarters of the globe, and our flag has everywhere
afforded the security and received the respect inspired by the justice and
liberality of our intercourse and the dignity and power of the nation.

The expedition commanded by Lieutenant De Haven, dispatched in search of
the British commander Sir John Franklin and his companions in the Arctic
Seas, returned to New York in the month of October, after having undergone
great peril and suffering from an unknown and dangerous navigation and the
rigors of a northern climate, without any satisfactory information of the
objects of their search, but with new contributions to science and
navigation from the unfrequented polar regions. The officers and men of the
expedition having been all volunteers for this service and having so
conducted it as to meet the entire approbation of the Government, it is
suggested, as an act of grace and generosity, that the same allowance of
extra pay and emoluments be extended to them that were made to the officers
and men of like rating in the late exploring expedition to the South Seas.

I earnestly recommend to your attention the necessity of reorganizing the
naval establishment, apportioning and fixing the number of officers in each
grade, providing some mode of promotion to the higher grades of the Navy
having reference to merit and capacity rather than seniority or date of
entry into the service, and for retiring from the effective list upon
reduced pay those who may be incompetent to the performance of active duty.
As a measure of economy, as well as of efficiency, in this arm of the
service, the provision last mentioned is eminently worthy of your

The determination of the questions of relative rank between the sea
officers and civil officers of the Navy, and between officers of the Army
and Navy, in the various grades of each, will also merit your attention.
The failure to provide any substitute when corporal punishment was
abolished for offenses in the Navy has occasioned the convening of numerous
courts-martial upon the arrival of vessels in port, and is believed to have
had an injurious effect upon the discipline and efficiency of the service.
To moderate punishment from one grade to another is among the humane
reforms of the age, but to abolish one of severity, which applied so
generally to offenses on shipboard, and provide nothing in its stead is to
suppose a progress of improvement in every individual among seamen which is
not assumed by the Legislature in respect to any other class of men. It is
hoped that Congress, in the ample opportunity afforded by the present
session, will thoroughly investigate this important subject, and establish
such modes of determining guilt and such gradations of punishment as are
consistent with humanity and the personal rights of individuals, and at the
same time shall insure the most energetic and efficient performance of duty
and the suppression of crime in our ships of war.

The stone dock in the navy-yard at New York, which was ten years in process
of construction, has been so far finished as to be surrendered up to the
authorities of the yard. The dry dock at Philadelphia is reported as
completed, and is expected soon to be tested and delivered over to the
agents of the Government. That at Portsmouth, N. H., is also nearly ready
for delivery; and a contract has been concluded, agreeably to the act of
Congress at its last session, for a floating sectional dock on the Bay of
San Francisco. I invite your attention to the recommendation of the
Department touching the establishment of a navy-yard in conjunction with
this dock on the Pacific. Such a station is highly necessary to the
convenience and effectiveness of our fleet in that ocean, which must be
expected to increase with the growth of commerce and the rapid extension of
our whale fisheries over its waters.

The Naval Academy at Annapolis, under a revised and improved system of
regulations, now affords opportunities of education and instruction to the
pupils quite equal, it is believed, for professional improvement, to those
enjoyed by the cadets in the Military Academy. A large class of acting
midshipmen was received at the commencement of the last academic term, and
a practice ship has been attached to the institution to afford the amplest
means for regular instruction in seamanship, as well as for cruises during
the vacations of three or four months in each year.

The advantages of science in nautical affairs have rarely been more
strikingly illustrated than in the fact, stated in the report of the Navy
Department, that by means of the wind and current charts projected and
prepared by Lieutenant Maury, the Superintendent of the Naval Observatory,
the passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific ports of our country has been
shortened by about forty days.

The estimates for the support of the Navy and Marine Corps the ensuing
fiscal year will be found to be $5,856,472.19, the estimates for the
current year being $5,900,621.

The estimates for special objects under the control of this Department
amount to $2,684,220.89, against $2,210,980 for the present year, the
increase being occasioned by the additional mail service on the Pacific
Coast and the construction of the dock in California, authorized at the
last session of Congress, and some slight additions under the head of
improvements and repairs in navy-yards, buildings, and machinery. I deem it
of much importance to a just economy and a correct understanding of naval
expenditures that there should be an entire separation of the
appropriations for the support of the naval service proper from those for
permanent improvements at navy-yards and stations and from ocean steam mail
service and other special objects assigned to the supervision of this

The report of the Postmaster-General, herewith communicated, presents an
interesting view of the progress, operations, and condition of his

At the close of the last fiscal year the length of mail routes within the
United States was 196,290 miles, the annual transportation thereon
53,272,252 miles, and the annual cost of such transportation $3,421,754.

The length of the foreign mail routes is estimated at 18,349 miles and the
annual transportation thereon at 615,206 miles. The annual cost of this
service is $1,472,187, of which $448,937 are paid by the Post-Office
Department and $1,023,250 are paid through the Navy Department.

The annual transportation within the United States, excluding the service
in California and Oregon, which is now for the first time reported and
embraced in the tabular statements of the Department, exceeds that of the
preceding year 6,162,855 miles, at an increased cost of $547,110.

The whole number of post-offices in the United States on the 30th day of
June last was 19,796. There were 1,698 post-offices established and 256
discontinued during the year.

The gross revenues of the Department for the fiscal year, including the
appropriations for the franked matter of Congress, of the Departments, and
officers of Government, and excluding the foreign postages collected for
and payable to the British post-office, amounted to $6,727,866.78.

The expenditures for the same period, excluding $20,599.49, paid under an
award of the Auditor, in pursuance of a resolution of the last Congress,
for mail service on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers in 1832 and 1833, and
the amount paid to the British post-office for foreign postages collected
for and payable to that office, amounted to $6,024,566.79, leaving a
balance of revenue over the proper expenditures of the year of

The receipts for postages during the year, excluding the foreign postages
collected for and payable to the British post-office, amounted to
$6,345,747.21, being an increase of $997,610.79, or 18.65 per cent, over
the like receipts for the preceding year.

The reduction of postage under the act of March last did not take effect
until the commencement of the present fiscal year. The accounts for the
first quarter under the operation of the reduced rates will not be settled
before January next, and no reliable estimate of the receipts for the
present year can yet be made. It is believed, however, that they will fall
far short of those of the last year. The surplus of the revenues now on
hand is, however, so large that no further appropriation from the Treasury
in aid of the revenues of the Department is required for the current fiscal
year, but an additional appropriation for the year ending June 30, 1853,
will probably be found necessary when the receipts of the first two
quarters of the fiscal year are fully ascertained.

In his last annual report the Postmaster-General recommended a reduction of
postage to rates which he deemed as low as could be prudently adopted
unless Congress was prepared to appropriate from the Treasury for the
support of the Department a sum more than equivalent to the mail services
performed by it for the Government. The recommendations of the
Postmaster-General in respect to letter postage, except on letters from and
to California and Oregon, were substantially adopted by the last Congress.
He now recommends adherence to the present letter rates and advises against
a further reduction until justified by the revenue of the Department.

He also recommends that the rates of postage on printed matter be so
revised as to render them more simple and more uniform in their operation
upon all classes of printed matter. I submit the recommendations of the
report to your favorable consideration.

The public statutes of the United States have now been accumulating for
more than sixty years, and, interspersed with private acts, are scattered
through numerous volumes, and, from the cost of the whole, have become
almost inaccessible to the great mass of the community. They also exhibit
much of the incongruity and imperfection of hasty legislation. As it seems
to be generally conceded that there is no "common law" of the United States
to supply the defects of their legislation, it is most important that that
legislation should be as perfect as possible, defining every power intended
to be conferred, every crime intended to be made punishable, and
prescribing the punishment to be inflicted. In addition to some particular
cases spoken of more at length, the whole criminal code is now lamentably
defective. Some offenses are imperfectly described and others are entirely
omitted, so that flagrant crimes may be committed with impunity. The scale
of punishment is not in all cases graduated according to the degree and
nature of the offense, and is often rendered more unequal by the different
modes of imprisonment or penitentiary confinement in the different States.

Many laws of a permanent character have been introduced into appropriation
bills, and it is often difficult to determine whether the particular clause
expires with the temporary act of which it is a part or continues in force.
It has also frequently happened that enactments and provisions of law have
been introduced into bills with the title or general subject of which they
have little or no connection or relation. In this mode of legislation so
many enactments have been heaped upon each other, and often with but little
consideration, that in many instances it is difficult to search out and
determine what is the law.

The Government of the United States is emphatically a government of written
laws. The statutes should therefore, as far as practicable, not only be
made accessible to all, but be expressed in language so plain and simple as
to be understood by all and arranged in such method as to give perspicuity
to every subject. Many of the States have revised their public acts with
great and manifest benefit, and I recommend that provision be made by law
for the appointment of a commission to revise the public statutes of the
United States, arranging them in order, supplying deficiencies, correcting
incongruities, simplifying their language, and reporting them to Congress
for its action.

An act of Congress approved 30th September, 1850, contained a provision for
the extension of the Capitol according to such plan as might be approved by
the President, and appropriated $100,000 to be expended under his direction
by such architect as he should appoint to execute the same. On examining
the various plans which had been submitted by different architects in
pursuance of an advertisement by a committee of the Senate no one was found
to be entirely satisfactory, and it was therefore deemed advisable to
combine and adopt the advantages of several.

The great object to be accomplished was to make such an addition as would
afford ample and convenient halls for the deliberations of the two Houses
of Congress, with sufficient accommodations for spectators and suitable
apartments for the committees and officers of the two branches of the
Legislature. It was also desirable not to mar the harmony and beauty of the
present structure, which, as a specimen of architecture, is so universally
admired. Keeping these objects in view, I concluded to make the addition by
wings, detached from the present building, yet connected with it by
corridors. This mode of enlargement will leave the present Capitol
uninjured and afford great advantages for ventilation and the admission of
light, and will enable the work to progress without interrupting the
deliberations of Congress. To carry this plan into effect I have appointed
an experienced and competent architect. The corner stone was laid on the
4th day of July last with suitable ceremonies, since which time the work
has advanced with commendable rapidity, and the foundations of both wings
are now nearly complete.

I again commend to your favorable regard the interests of the District of
Columbia, and deem it only necessary to remind you that although its
inhabitants have no voice in the choice of Representatives in Congress,
they are not the less entitled to a just and liberal consideration in your
legislation. My opinions on this subject were more fully expressed in my
last annual communication.

Other subjects were brought to the attention of Congress in my last annual
message, to which I would respectfully refer. But there was one of more
than ordinary interest, to which I again invite your special attention. I
allude to the recommendation for the appointment of a commission to settle
private claims against the United States. Justice to individuals, as well
as to the Government, imperatively demands that some more convenient and
expeditious mode than an appeal to Congress should be adopted.

It is deeply to be regretted that in several instances officers of the
Government, in attempting to execute the law for the return of fugitives
from labor, have been openly resisted and their efforts frustrated and
defeated by lawless and violent mobs; that in one case such resistance
resulted in the death of an estimable citizen, and in others serious injury
ensued to those officers and to individuals who were using their endeavors
to sustain the laws. Prosecutions have been instituted against the alleged
offenders so far as they could be identified, and are still pending. I have
regarded it as my duty in these cases to give all aid legally in my power
to the enforcement of the laws, and I shall continue to do so wherever and
whenever their execution may be resisted.

The act of Congress for the return of fugitives from labor is one required
and demanded by the express words of the Constitution. The Constitution
declares that--No person held to service or labor in one State, under the
laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or
regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be
delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be
due. This constitutional provision is equally obligatory upon the
legislative, the executive, and judicial departments of the Government, and
upon every citizen of the United States.

Congress, however, must from necessity first act upon the subject by
prescribing the proceedings necessary to ascertain that the person is a
fugitive and the means to be used for his restoration to the claimant. This
was done by an act passed during the first term of President Washington,
which was amended by that enacted by the last Congress, and it now remains
for the executive and judicial departments to take care that these laws be
faithfully executed. This injunction of the Constitution is as peremptory
and as binding as any other; it stands exactly on the same foundation as
that clause which provides for the return of fugitives from justice, or
that which declares that no bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be
passed, or that which provides for an equality of taxation according to the
census, or the clause declaring that all duties shall be uniform throughout
the United States, or the important provision that the trial of all crimes
shall be by jury. These several articles and clauses of the Constitution,
all resting on the same authority, must stand or fall together. Some
objections have been urged against the details of the act for the return of
fugitives from labor, but it is worthy of remark that the main opposition
is aimed against the Constitution itself, and proceeds from persons and
classes of persons many of whom declare their wish to see that Constitution
overturned. They avow their hostility to any law which shall give full and
practical effect to this requirement of the Constitution. Fortunately, the
number of these persons is comparatively small, and is believed to be daily
diminishing; but the issue which they present is one which involves the
supremacy and even the existence of the Constitution.

Cases have heretofore arisen in which individuals have denied the binding
authority of acts of Congress, and even States have proposed to nullify
such acts upon the ground that the Constitution was the supreme law of the
land, and that those acts of Congress were repugnant to that instrument;
but nullification is now aimed not so much against particular laws as being
inconsistent with the Constitution as against the Constitution itself, and
it is not to be disguised that a spirit exists, and has been actively at
work, to rend asunder this Union, which is our cherished inheritance from
our Revolutionary fathers.

In my last annual message I stated that I considered the series of measures
which had been adopted at the previous session in reference to the
agitation growing out of the Territorial and slavery questions as a final
settlement in principle and substance of the dangerous and exciting
subjects which they embraced, and I recommended adherence to the adjustment
established by those measures until time and experience should demonstrate
the necessity of further legislation to guard against evasion or abuse. I
was not induced to make this recommendation because I thought those
measures perfect, for no human legislation can be perfect. Wide differences
and jarring opinions can only be reconciled by yielding something on all
sides, and this result had been reached after an angry conflict of many
months, in which one part of the country was arrayed against another, and
violent convulsion seemed to be imminent. Looking at the interests of the
whole country, I felt it to be my duty to seize upon this compromise as the
best that could be obtained amid conflicting interests and to insist upon
it as a final settlement, to be adhered to by all who value the peace and
welfare of the country. A year has now elapsed since that recommendation
was made. To that recommendation I still adhere, and I congratulate you and
the country upon the general acquiescence in these measures of peace which
has been exhibited in all parts of the Republic. And not only is there this
general acquiescence in these measures, but the spirit of conciliation
which has been manifested in regard to them in all parts of the country has
removed doubts and uncertainties in the minds of thousands of good men
concerning the durability of our popular institutions and given renewed
assurance that our liberty and our Union may subsist together for the
benefit of this and all succeeding generations.


State of the Union Address
Millard Fillmore
December 6, 1852

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

The brief space which has elapsed since the close of your last session has
been marked by no extraordinary political event. The quadrennial election
of Chief Magistrate has passed off with less than the usual excitement.
However individuals and parties may have been disappointed in the result,
it is, nevertheless, a subject of national congratulation that the choice
has been effected by the independent suffrages of a free people,
undisturbed by those influences which in other countries have too often
affected the purity of popular elections.

Our grateful thanks are due to an all-merciful Providence, not only for
staying the pestilence which in different forms has desolated some of our
cities, but for crowning the labors of the husbandman with an abundant
harvest and the nation generally with the blessings of peace and

Within a few weeks the public mind has been deeply affected by the death of
Daniel Webster, filling at his decease the office of Secretary of State.
His associates in the executive government have sincerely sympathized with
his family and the public generally on this mournful occasion. His
commanding talents, his great political and professional eminence, his
well-tried patriotism, and his long and faithful services in the most
important public trusts have caused his death to be lamented throughout the
country and have earned for him a lasting place in our history. In the
course of the last summer considerable anxiety was caused for a short time
by an official intimation from the Government of Great Britain that orders
had been given for the protection of the fisheries upon the coasts of the
British provinces in North America against the alleged encroachments of the
fishing vessels of the United States and France. The shortness of this
notice and the season of the year seemed to make it a matter of urgent
importance. It was at first apprehended that an increased naval force had
been ordered to the fishing grounds to carry into effect the British
interpretation of those provisions in the convention of 1818 in reference
to the true intent of which the two Governments differ. It was soon
discovered that such was not the design of Great Britain, and satisfactory
explanations of the real objects of the measure have been given both here
and in London.

The unadjusted difference, however, between the two Governments as to the
interpretation of the first article of the convention of 1818 is still a
matter of importance. American fishing vessels, within nine or ten years,
have been excluded from waters to which they had free access for
twenty-five years after the negotiation of the treaty. In 1845 this
exclusion was relaxed so far as concerns the Bay of Fundy, but the just and
liberal intention of the home Government, in compliance with what we think
the true construction of the convention, to open all the other outer bays
to our fishermen was abandoned in consequence of the opposition of the
colonies. Notwithstanding this, the United States have, since the Bay of
Fundy was reopened to our fishermen in 1845, pursued the most liberal
course toward the colonial fishing interests. By the revenue law of 1846
the duties on colonial fish entering our ports were very greatly reduced,
and by the warehousing act it is allowed to be entered in bond without
payment of duty. In this way colonial fish has acquired the monopoly of the
export trade in our market and is entering to some extent into the home
consumption. These facts were among those which increased the sensibility
of our fishing interest at the movement in question. These circumstances
and the incidents above alluded to have led me to think the moment
favorable for a reconsideration of the entire subject of the fisheries on
the coasts of the British Provinces, with a view to place them upon a more
liberal footing of reciprocal privilege. A willingness to meet us in some
arrangement of this kind is understood to exist on the part of Great
Britain, with a desire on her part to include in one comprehensive
settlement as well this subject as the commercial intercourse between the
United States and the British Provinces. I have thought that, whatever
arrangements may be made on these two subjects, it is expedient that they
should be embraced in separate conventions. The illness and death of the
late Secretary of State prevented the commencement of the contemplated
negotiation. Pains have been taken to collect the information required for
the details of such an arrangement. The subject is attended with
considerable difficulty. If it is found practicable to come to an agreement
mutually acceptable to the two parties, conventions may be concluded in the
course of the present winter. The control of Congress over all the
provisions of such an arrangement affecting the revenue will of course be

The affairs of Cuba formed a prominent topic in my last annual message.
They remain in an uneasy condition, and a feeling of alarm and irritation
on the part of the Cuban authorities appears to exist. This feeling has
interfered with the regular commercial intercourse between the United
States and the island and led to some acts of which we have a fight to
complain. But the Captain-General of Cuba is clothed with no power to treat
with foreign governments, nor is he in any degree under the control of the
Spanish minister at Washington. Any communication which he may hold with an
agent of a foreign power is informal and matter of courtesy. Anxious to put
an end to the existing inconveniences (which seemed to rest on a
misconception), I directed the newly appointed minister to Mexico to visit
Havana on his way to Vera Cruz. He was respectfully received by the
Captain-General, who conferred with him freely on the recent occurrences,
but no permanent arrangement was effected.

In the meantime the refusal of the Captain-Generalto allow passengers and
the mail to be landed in certain cases, for a reason which does not
furnish, in the opinion of this Government, even a good presumptive ground
for such prohibition, has been made the subject of a serious remonstrance
at Madrid, and I have no reason to doubt that due respect will be paid by
the Government of Her Catholic Majesty to the representations which our
minister has been instructed to make on the subject.

It is but justice to the Captain-General to add that his conduct toward the
steamers employed to carry the mails of the United States to Havana has,
with the exceptions above alluded to, been marked with kindness and
liberality, and indicates no general purpose of interfering with the
commercial correspondence and intercourse between the island and this

Early in the present year official notes were received from the ministers
of France and England inviting the Government of the United States to
become a party with Great Britain and France to a tripartite convention, in
virtue of which the three powers should severally and collectively disclaim
now and for the future all intention to obtain possession of the island of
Cuba, and should bind themselves to discountenance all attempts to that
effect on the part of any power or individual whatever. This invitation has
been respectfully declined, for reasons which it would occupy too much
space in this communication to state in detail, but which led me to think
that the proposed measure would be of doubtful constitutionality,
impolitic, and unavailing. I have, however, in common with several of my
predecessors, directed the ministers of France and England to be assured
that the United States entertain no designs against Cuba, but that, on the
contrary, I should regard its incorporation into the Union at the present
time as fraught with serious peril.

Were this island comparatively destitute of inhabitants or occupied by a
kindred race, I should regard it, if voluntarily ceded by Spain, as a most
desirable acquisition. But under existing circumstances I should look upon
its incorporation into our Union as a very hazardous measure. It would
bring into the Confederacy a population of a different national stock,
speaking a different language, and not likely to harmonize with the other
members. It would probably affect in a prejudicial manner the industrial
interests of the South, and it might revive those conflicts of opinion
between the different sections of the country which lately shook the Union
to its center, and which have been so happily compromised.

The rejection by the Mexican Congress of the convention which had been
concluded between that Republic and the United States for the protection of
a transit way across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and of the interests of
those citizens of the United States who had become proprietors of the
rights which Mexico had conferred on one of her own citizens in regard to
that transit has thrown a serious obstacle in the way of the attainment of
a very desirable national object. I am still willing to hope that the
differences on the subject which exist, or may hereafter arise, between the
Governments will be amicably adjusted. This subject, however, has already
engaged the attention of the Senate of the United States, and requires no
further comment in this communication.

The settlement of the question respecting the port of San Juan de Nicaragua
and of the controversy between the Republics of Costa Rica and Nicaragua in
regard to their boundaries was considered indispensable to the commencement
of the ship canal between the two oceans, which was the subject of the
convention between the United States and Great Britain of the 19th of
April, 1850. Accordingly, a proposition for the same purposes, addressed to
the two Governments in that quarter and to the Mosquito Indians, was agreed
to in April last by the Secretary of State and the minister of Her
Britannic Majesty. Besides the wish to aid in reconciling the differences
of the two Republics, I engaged in the negotiation from a desire to place
the great work of a ship canal between the two oceans under one
jurisdiction and to establish the important port of San Juan de Nicaragua
under the government of a civilized power. The proposition in question was
assented to by Costs Rica and the Mosquito Indians. It has not proved
equally acceptable to Nicaragua, but it is to be hoped that the further
negotiations on the subject which are in train will be carried on in that
spirit of conciliation and compromise which ought always to prevail on such
occasions, and that they will lead to a satisfactory result.

I have the satisfaction to inform you that the executive government of
Venezuela has acknowledged some claims of citizens of the United States
which have for many years past been urged by our charge d'affaires at
Caracas. It is hoped that the same sense of justice will actuate the
Congress of that Republic in providing the means for their payment.

The recent revolution in Buenos Ayres and the Confederated States having
opened the prospect of an improved state of things in that quarter, the
Governments of Great Britain and France determined to negotiate with the
chief of the new confederacy for the free access of their commerce to the
extensive countries watered by the tributaries of the La Plata; and they
gave a friendly notice of this purpose to the United States, that we might,
if we thought proper, pursue the same course. In compliance with this
invitation, our minister at Rio Janeiro and our charge d'affaires at
Buenos Ayres have been fully authorized to conclude treaties with the newly
organized confederation or the States composing it. The delays which have
taken place in the formation of the new government have as yet prevented
the execution of those instructions, but there is every reason to hope that
these vast countries will be eventually opened to our commerce.

A treaty of commerce has been concluded between the United States and the
Oriental Republic of Uruguay, which will be laid before the Senate. Should
this convention go into operation, it will open to the commercial
enterprise of our citizens a country of great extent and unsurpassed in
natural resources, but from which foreign nations have hitherto been almost
wholly excluded.

The correspondence of the late Secretary of State with the Peruvian charge
d'affaires relative to the Lobos Islands was communicated to Congress
toward the close of the last session. Since that time, on further
investigation of the subject, the doubts which had been entertained of the
title of Peru to those islands have been removed, and I have deemed it just
that the temporary wrong which had been unintentionally done her from want
of information should be repaired by an unreserved acknowledgment of her

I have the satisfaction to inform you that the course pursued by Peru has
been creditable to the liberality of her Government. Before it was known by
her that her title would be acknowledged at Washington, her minister of
foreign affairs had authorized our charge d'affaires at Lima to announce
to the American vessels which had gone to the Lobos for guano that the
Peruvian Government was willing to freight them on its own account. This
intention has been carried into effect by the Peruvian minister here by an
arrangement which is believed to be advantageous to the parties in

Our settlements on the shores of the Pacific have already given a great
extension, and in some respects a new direction, to our commerce in that
ocean. A direct and rapidly increasing intercourse has sprung up with
eastern Asia. The waters of the Northern Pacific, even into the Arctic Sea,
have of late years been frequented by our whalemen. The application of
steam to the general purposes of navigation is becoming daily more common,
and makes it desirable to obtain fuel and other necessary supplies at
convenient points on the route between Asia and our Pacific shores. Our
unfortunate countrymen who from time to time suffer shipwreck on the coasts
of the eastern seas are entitled to protection. Besides these specific
objects, the general prosperity of our States on the Pacific requires that
an attempt should be made to open the opposite regions of Asia to a
mutually beneficial intercourse. It is obvious that this attempt could be
made by no power to so great advantage as by the United States, whose
constitutional system excludes every idea of distant colonial dependencies.
I have accordingly been led to order an appropriate naval force to Japan,
under the command of a discreet and intelligent officer of the highest rank
known to our service. He is instructed to endeavor to obtain from the
Government of that country some relaxation of the inhospitable and
antisocial system which it has pursued for about two centuries. He has been
directed particularly to remonstrate in the strongest language against the
cruel treatment to which our shipwrecked mariners have often been subjected
and to insist that they shall be treated with humanity. He is instructed,
however, at the same time, to give that Government the amplest assurances
that the objects of the United States are such, and such only, as I have
indicated, and that the expedition is friendly and peaceful.
Notwithstanding the jealousy with which the Governments of eastern Asia
regard all overtures from foreigners, I am not without hopes of a
beneficial result of the expedition. Should it be crowned with success, the
advantages will not be confined to the United States, but, as in the case
of China, will be equally enjoyed by all the other maritime powers. I have
much satisfaction in stating that in all the steps preparatory to this
expedition the Government of the United States has been materially aided by
the good offices of the King of the Netherlands, the only European power
having any commercial relations with Japan.

In passing from this survey of our foreign relations, I invite the
attention of Congress to the condition of that Department of the Government
to which this branch of the public business is intrusted. Our intercourse
with foreign powers has of late years greatly increased, both in
consequence of our own growth and the introduction of many new states into
the family of nations. In this way the Department of State has become
overburdened. It has by the recent establishment of the Department of the
Interior been relieved of some portion of the domestic business. If the
residue of the business of that kind--such as the distribution of
Congressional documents, the keeping, publishing, and distribution of the
laws of the United States, the execution of the copyright law, the subject
of reprieves and pardons, and some other subjects relating to interior
administration--should be transferred from the Department of State, it
would unquestionably be for the benefit of the public service. I would also
suggest that the building appropriated to the State Department is not
fireproof; that there is reason to think there are defects in its
construction, and that the archives of the Government in charge of the
Department, with the precious collections of the manuscript papers of
Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, Madison, and Monroe, are exposed to
destruction by fire. A similar remark may be made of the buildings
appropriated to the War and Navy Departments.

The condition of the Treasury is exhibited in the annual report from that

The cash receipts into the Treasury for the fiscal year ending the 30th
June last, exclusive of trust funds, were $49,728,386.89, and the
expenditures for the same period, likewise exclusive of trust funds, were
$46,007,896.20, of which $9,455,815.83 was on account of the principal and
interest of the public debt, including the last installment of the
indemnity to Mexico under the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, leaving a
balance of $14,632,136.37 in the Treasury on the 1st day of July last.
Since this latter period further purchases of the principal of the public
debt have been made to the extent of $2,456,547.49, and the surplus in the
Treasury will continue to be applied to that object whenever the stock can
be procured within the limits as to price authorized by law.

The value of foreign merchandise imported during the last fiscal year was
$207,240,101, and the value of domestic productions exported was
$149,861,911, besides $17,204,026 of foreign merchandise exported, making
the aggregate of the entire exports $167,065,937. Exclusive of the above,
there was exported $42,507,285 in specie, and imported from foreign ports

In my first annual message to Congress I called your attention to what
seemed to me some defects in the present tariff, and recommended such
modifications as in my judgment were best adapted to remedy its evils and
promote the prosperity of the country. Nothing has since occurred to change
my views on this important question.

Without repeating the arguments contained in my former message in favor of
discriminating protective duties, I deem it my duty to call your attention
to one or two other considerations affecting this subject. The first is the
effect of large importations of foreign goods upon our currency. Most of
the gold of California, as fast as it is coined, finds its way directly to
Europe in payment for goods purchased. In the second place, as our
manufacturing establishments are broken down by competition with
foreigners, the capital invested in them is lost, thousands of honest and
industrious citizens are thrown out of employment, and the farmer, to that
extent, is deprived of a home market for the sale of his surplus produce.
In the third place, the destruction of our manufactures leaves the
foreigner without competition in our market, and he consequently raises the
price of the article sent here for sale, as is now seen in the increased
cost of iron imported from England. The prosperity and wealth of every
nation must depend upon its productive industry. The farmer is stimulated
to exertion by finding a ready market for his surplus products, and
benefited by being able to exchange them without loss of time or expense of
transportation for the manufactures which his comfort or convenience
requires. This is always done to the best advantage where a portion of the
community in which he lives is engaged in other pursuits. But most
manufactures require an amount of capital and a practical skill which can
not be commanded unless they be protected for a time from ruinous
competition from abroad. Hence the necessity of laying those duties upon
imported goods which the Constitution authorizes for revenue in such a
manner as to protect and encourage the labor of our own citizens. Duties,
however, should not be fixed at a rate so high as to exclude the foreign
article, but should be so graduated as to enable the domestic manufacturer
fairly to compete with the foreigner in our own markets, and by this
competition to reduce the price of the manufactured article to the consumer
to the lowest rate at which it can be produced. This policy would place the
mechanic by the side of the farmer, create a mutual interchange of their
respective commodities, and thus stimulate the industry of the whole
country and render us independent of foreign nations for the supplies
required by the habits or necessities of the people.

Another question, wholly independent of protection, presents itself, and
that is, whether the duties levied should be upon the value of the article
at the place of shipment, or, where it is practicable, a specific duty,
graduated according to quantity, as ascertained by weight or measure. All
our duties are at present ad valorem. A certain percentage is levied on the
price of the goods at the port of shipment in a foreign country. Most
commercial nations have found it indispensable, for the purpose of
preventing fraud and perjury, to make the duties specific whenever the
article is of such a uniform value in weight or measure as to justify such
a duty. Legislation should never encourage dishonesty or crime. It is
impossible that the revenue officers at the port where the goods are
entered and the duties paid should know with certainty what they cost in
the foreign country. Yet the law requires that they should levy the duty
according to such cost. They are therefore compelled to resort to very
unsatisfactory evidence to ascertain what that cost was. They take the
invoice of the importer, attested by his oath, as the best evidence of
which the nature of the case admits. But everyone must see that the invoice
may be fabricated and the oath by which it is supported false, by reason of
which the dishonest importer pays a part only of the duties which are paid
by the honest one, and thus indirectly receives from the Treasury of the
United States a reward for his fraud and perjury. The reports of the
Secretary of the Treasury heretofore made on this subject show conclusively
that these frauds have been practiced to a great extent. The tendency is to
destroy that high moral character for which our merchants have long been
distinguished, to defraud the Government of its revenue, to break down the
honest importer by a dishonest competition, and, finally, to transfer the
business of importation to foreign and irresponsible agents, to the great
detriment of our own citizens. I therefore again most earnestly recommend
the adoption of specific duties wherever it is practicable, or a home
valuation, to prevent these frauds.

I would also again call your attention to the fact that the present tariff
in some cases imposes a higher duty upon the raw material imported than
upon the article manufactured from it, the consequence of which is that the
duty operates to the encouragement of the foreigner and the discouragement
of our own citizens.

For full and detailed information in regard to the general condition of our
Indian affairs, I respectfully refer you to the report of the Secretary of
the Interior and the accompanying documents.

The Senate not having thought proper to ratify the treaties which have been
negotiated with the tribes of Indians in California and Oregon, our
relations with them have been left in a very unsatisfactory condition.

In other parts of our territory particular districts of country have been
set apart for the exclusive occupation of the Indians, and their right to
the lands within those limits has been acknowledged and respected. But in
California and Oregon there has been no recognition by the Government of
the exclusive right of the Indians to any part of the country. They are
therefore mere tenants at sufferance, and liable to be driven from place to
place at the pleasure of the whites.

The treaties which have been rejected proposed to remedy this evil by
allotting to the different tribes districts of country suitable to their
habits of life and sufficient for their support. This provision, more than
any other, it is believed, led to their rejection; and as no substitute for
it has been adopted by Congress, it has not been deemed advisable to
attempt to enter into new treaties of a permanent character, although no
effort has been spared by temporary arrangements to preserve friendly
relations with them.

If it be the desire of Congress to remove them from the country altogether,
or to assign to them particular districts more remote from the settlements
of the whites, it will be proper to set apart by law the territory which
they are to occupy and to provide the means necessary for removing them to
it. Justice alike to our own citizens and to the Indians requires the
prompt action of Congress on this subject. The amendments proposed by the
Senate to the treaties which were negotiated with the Sioux Indians of
Minnesota have been submitted to the tribes who were parties to them, and
have received their assent. A large tract of valuable territory has thus
been opened for settlement and cultivation, and all danger of collision
with these powerful and warlike bands has been happily removed.

The removal of the remnant of the tribe of Seminole Indians from Florida
has long been a cherished object of the Government, and it is one to which
my attention has been steadily directed. Admonished by past experience of
the difficulty and cost of the attempt to remove them by military force,
resort has been had to conciliatory measures. By the invitation of the
Commissioner of Indian Affairs, several of the principal chiefs recently
visited Washington, and whilst here acknowledged in writing the obligation
of their tribe to remove with the least possible delay. Late advices from
the special agent of the Government represent that they adhere to their
promise, and that a council of their people has been called to make their
preliminary arrangements. A general emigration may therefore be confidently
expected at an early day.

The report from the General Land Office shows increased activity in its
operations. The survey of the northern boundary of Iowa has been completed
with unexampled dispatch. Within the last year 9,522,953 acres of public
land have been surveyed and 8,032,463 acres brought into market.

Acres In the last fiscal year there were sold 1,553,071 Located with
bounty-land warrants 3,201,314 Located with other certificates 115,682
Making a total of 4,870,067

In addition there were--Reported under swamp-land grants 5,219,188 For
internal improvements, railroads, etc 3,025,920 Making an aggregate of
13,115,175 Being an increase of the amount sold and located under land
warrants of 569,220 acres over the previous year. The whole amount thus
sold, located under land warrants, reported under swamp-land grants, and
selected for internal improvements exceeds that of the previous year by
3,342,372 acres; and the sales would without doubt have been much larger
but for the extensive reservations for railroads in Missouri, Mississippi,
and Alabama.

Acres For the quarter ending 30th September, 1852, there were sold 243,255
Located with bounty-land warrants 1,387,116 Located with other certificates
15,649 Reported under swamp-land grants 2,485,233 Making an aggregate for
the quarter of 4,131,253

Much the larger portion of the labor of arranging and classifying the
returns of the last census has been finished, and it will now devolve upon
Congress to make the necessary provision for the publication of the results
in such form as shall be deemed best. The apportionment of representation
on the basis of the new census has been made by the Secretary of the
Interior in conformity with the provisions of law relating to that subject,
and the recent elections have been made in accordance with it.

I commend to your favorable regard the suggestion contained in the report
of the Secretary of the Interior that provision be made by law for the
publication and distribution, periodically, of an analytical digest of all
the patents which have been or may hereafter be granted for useful
inventions and discoveries, with such descriptions and illustrations as may
be necessary to present an intelligible view of their nature and operation.
The cost of such publication could easily be defrayed out of the patent
fund, and I am persuaded that it could be applied to no object more
acceptable to inventors and beneficial to the public at large.

An appropriation of $100,000 having been made at the last session for the
purchase of a suitable site and for the erection, furnishing, and fitting
up of an asylum for the insane of the District of Columbia and of the Army
and Navy of the United States, the proper measures have been adopted to
carry this beneficent purpose into effect.

By the latest advices from the Mexican boundary commission it appears that
the survey of the river Gila from its continence with the Colorado to its
supposed intersection with the western line of New Mexico has been
completed. The survey of the Rio Grande has also been finished from the
point agreed on by the commissioners as "the point where it strikes the
southern boundary of New Mexico" to a point 135 miles below Eagle Pass,
which is about two-thirds of the distance along the course of the river to
its mouth.

The appropriation which was made at the last session of Congress for the
continuation of the survey is subject to the following proviso: Provided,
That no part of this appropriation shall be used or expended until it shall
be made satisfactorily to appear to the President of the United States that
the southern boundary of New Mexico is not established by the commissioner
and surveyor of the United States farther north of the town called "Paso"
than the same is laid down in Disturnell's map, which is added to the

My attention was drawn to this subject by a report from the Department of
the Interior, which reviewed all the facts of the case and submitted for my
decision the question whether under existing circumstances any part of the
appropriation could be lawfully used or expended for the further
prosecution of the work. After a careful consideration of the subject I
came to the conclusion that it could not, and so informed the head of that
Department. Orders were immediately issued by him to the commissioner and
surveyor to make no further requisitions on the Department, as they could
not be paid, and to discontinue all operations on the southern line of New
Mexico. But as the Department had no exact information as to the amount of
provisions and money which remained unexpended in the hands of the
commissioner and surveyor, it was left discretionary with them to continue
the survey down the Rio Grande as far as the means at their disposal would
enable them or at once to disband the commission. A special messenger has
since arrived from the officer in charge of the survey on the river with
information that the funds subject to his control were exhausted and that
the officers and others employed in the service were destitute alike of the
means of prosecuting the work and of returning to their homes.

The object of the proviso was doubtless to arrest the survey of the
southern and western lines of New Mexico, in regard to which different
opinions have been expressed; for it is hardly to be supposed that there
could be any objection to that part of the line which extends along the
channel of the Rio Grande. But the terms of the law are so broad as to
forbid the use of any part of the money for the prosecution of the work, or
even for the payment to the officers and agents of the arrearages of pay
which are justly due to them.

I earnestly invite your prompt attention to this subject, and recommend a
modification of the terms of the proviso, so as to enable the Department to
use as much of the appropriation as will be necessary to discharge the
existing obligations of the Government and to complete the survey of the
Rio Grande to its mouth.

It will also be proper to make further provision by law for the fulfillment
of our treaty with Mexico for running and marking the residue of the
boundary line between the two countries.

Permit me to invite your particular attention to the interests of the
District of Columbia, which are confided by the Constitution to your
peculiar care.

Among the measures which seem to me of the greatest importance to its
prosperity are the introduction of a copious supply of water into the city
of Washington and the construction of suitable bridges across the Potomac
to replace those which were destroyed by high water in the early part of
the present year.

At the last session of Congress an appropriation was made to defray the
cost of the surveys necessary for determining the best means of affording
an unfailing supply of good and wholesome water. Some progress has been
made in the survey, and as soon as it is completed the result will be laid
before you.

Further appropriations will also be necessary for grading and paving the
streets and avenues and inclosing and embellishing the public grounds
within the city of Washington.

I commend all these objects, together with the charitable institutions of
the District, to your favorable regard. Every effort has been made to
protect our frontier and that of the adjoining Mexican States from the
incursions of the Indian tribes. Of about 11,000 men of which the Army is
composed, nearly 8,000 are employed in the defense of the newly acquired
territory (including Texas) and of emigrants proceeding thereto. I am
gratified to say that these efforts have been unusually successful. With
the exception of some partial outbreaks in California and Oregon and
occasional depredations on a portion of the Rio Grande, owing, it is
believed, to the disturbed state of that border region, the inroads of the
Indians have been effectually restrained.

Experience has shown, however, that whenever the two races are brought into
contact collisions will inevitably occur. To prevent these collisions the
United States have generally set apart portions of their territory for the
exclusive occupation of the Indian tribes. A difficulty occurs, however, in
the application of this policy to Texas. By the terms of the compact by
which that State was admitted into the Union she retained the ownership of
all the vacant lands within her limits. The government of that State, it is
understood, has assigned no portion of her territory to the Indians, but as
fast as her settlements advance lays it off into counties and proceeds to
survey and sell it. This policy manifestly tends not only to alarm and
irritate the Indians, but to compel them to resort to plunder for
subsistence. It also deprives this Government of that influence and control
over them without which no durable peace can ever exist between them and
the whites. I trust, therefore, that a due regard for her own interests,
apart from considerations of humanity and justice, will induce that State
to assign a small portion of her vast domain for the provisional occupancy
of the small remnants of tribes within her borders, subject, of course, to
her ownership and eventual jurisdiction. If she should fail to do this, the
fulfillment of our treaty stipulations with Mexico and our duty to the
Indians themselves will, it is feared, become a subject of serious
embarrassment to the Government. It is hoped, however, that a timely and
just provision by Texas may avert this evil.

No appropriations for fortifications were made at the two last sessions of
Congress. The cause of this omission is probably to be found in a growing
belief that the system of fortifications adopted in 1816, and heretofore
acted on, requires revision.

The subject certainly deserves full and careful investigation, but it
should not be delayed longer than can be avoided. In the meantime there are
certain works which have been commenced, some of them nearly completed,
designed to protect our principal seaports from Boston to New Orleans and a
few other important points. In regard to the necessity for these works, it
is believed that little difference of opinion exists among military men. I
therefore recommend that the appropriations necessary to prosecute them be

I invite your attention to the remarks on this subject and on others
connected with his Department contained in the accompanying report of the
Secretary of War.

Measures have been taken to carry into effect the law of the last session
making provision for the improvement of certain rivers and harbors, and it
is believed that the arrangements made for that purpose will combine
efficiency with economy. Owing chiefly to the advanced season when the act
was passed, little has yet been done in regard to many of the works beyond
making the necessary preparations. With respect to a few of the
improvements, the sums already appropriated will suffice to complete them;
but most of them will require additional appropriations. I trust that these
appropriations will be made, and that this wise and beneficent policy, so
auspiciously resumed, will be continued. Great care should be taken,
however, to commence no work which is not of sufficient importance to the
commerce of the country to be viewed as national in its character. But
works which have been commenced should not be discontinued until completed,
as otherwise the sums expended will in most cases be lost.

The report from the Navy Department will inform you of the prosperous
condition of the branch of the public service committed to its charge. It
presents to your consideration many topics and suggestions of which I ask
your approval. It exhibits an unusual degree of activity in the operations
of the Department during the past year. The preparations for the Japan
expedition, to which I have already alluded; the arrangements made for the
exploration and survey of the China Seas, the Northern Pacific, and
Behrings Straits; the incipient measures taken toward a reconnoissance of
the continent of Africa eastward of Liberia; the preparation for an early
examination of the tributaries of the river La Plata, which a recent decree
of the provisional chief of the Argentine Confederation has opened to
navigation--all these enterprises and the means by which they are proposed
to be accomplished have commanded my full approbation, and I have no doubt
will be productive of most useful results.

Two officers of the Navy were heretofore instructed to explore the whole
extent of the Amazon River from the confines of Peru to its mouth. The
return of one of them has placed in the possession of the Government an
interesting and valuable account of the character and resources of a
country abounding in the materials of commerce, and which if opened to the
industry of the world will prove an inexhaustible fund of wealth. The
report of this exploration will be communicated to you as soon as it is

Among other subjects offered to your notice by the Secretary of the Navy, I
select for special commendation, in view of its connection with the
interests of the Navy, the plan submitted by him for the establishment of a
permanent corps of seamen and the suggestions he has presented for the
reorganization of the Naval Academy.

In reference to the first of these, I take occasion to say that I think it
will greatly improve the efficiency of the service, and that I regard it as
still more entitled to favor for the salutary influence it must exert upon
the naval discipline, now greatly disturbed by the increasing spirit of
insubordination resulting from our present system. The plan proposed for
the organization of the seamen furnishes a judicious substitute for the law
of September, 1850, abolishing corporal punishment, and satisfactorily
sustains the policy of that act under conditions well adapted to maintain
the authority of command and the order and security of our ships. It is
believed that any change which proposes permanently to dispense with this
mode of punishment should be preceded by a system of enlistment which shall
supply the Navy with seamen of the most meritorious class, whose good
deportment and pride of character may preclude all occasion for a resort to
penalties of a harsh or degrading nature. The safety of a ship and her crew
is often dependent upon immediate obedience to a command, and the authority
to enforce it must be equally ready. The arrest of a refractory seaman in
such moments not only deprives the ship of indispensable aid, but imposes a
necessity for double service on others, whose fidelity to their duties may
be relied upon in such an emergency. The exposure to this increased and
arduous labor since the passage of the act of 1850 has already had, to a
most observable and injurious extent, the effect of preventing the
enlistment of the best seamen in the Navy. The plan now suggested is
designed to promote a condition of service in which this objection will no
longer exist. The details of this plan may be established in great part, if
not altogether, by the Executive under the authority of existing laws, but
I have thought it proper, in accordance with the suggestion of the
Secretary of the Navy, to submit it to your approval.

The establishment of a corps of apprentices for the Navy, or boys to be
enlisted until they become of age, and to be employed under such
regulations as the Navy Department may devise, as proposed in the report, I
cordially approve and commend to your consideration; and I also concur in
the suggestion that this system for the early training of seamen may be
most usefully ingrafted upon the service of our merchant marine. The other
proposition of the report to which I have referred--the reorganization of
the Naval Academy--I recommend to your attention as a project worthy of
your encouragement and support. The valuable services already rendered by
this institution entitle it to the continuance of your fostering care.

Your attention is respectfully called to the report of the Postmaster
General for the detailed operation of his Department during the last fiscal
year, from which it will be seen that the receipts from postages for that
time were less by $1,431,696 than for the preceding fiscal year, being a
decrease of about 23 per cent.

This diminution is attributable to the reduction in the rates of postage
made by the act of March 3, 1851, which reduction took effect at the
commencement of the last fiscal year.

Although in its operation during the last year the act referred to has not
fulfilled the predictions of its friends by increasing the correspondence
of the country in proportion to the reduction of postage, I should,
nevertheless, question the policy of returning to higher rates. Experience
warrants the expectation that as the community becomes accustomed to cheap
postage correspondence will increase. It is believed that from this cause
and from the rapid growth of the country in population and business the
receipts of the Department must ultimately exceed its expenses, and that
the country may safely rely upon the continuance of the present cheap rate
of postage.

In former messages I have, among other things, respectfully recommended to
the consideration of Congress the propriety and necessity of further
legislation for the protection and punishment of foreign consuls residing
in the United States; to revive, with certain modifications, the act of
10th March, 1838, to restrain unlawful military expeditions against the
inhabitants of conterminous states or territories; for the preservation and
protection from mutilation or theft of the papers, records, and archives of
the nation; for authorizing the surplus revenue to be applied to the
payment of the public debt in advance of the time when it will become due;
for the establishment of land offices for the sale of the public lands in
California and the Territory of Oregon; for the construction of a road from
the Mississippi Valley to the Pacific Ocean; for the establishment of a
bureau of agriculture for the promotion of that interest, perhaps the most
important in the country; for the prevention of frauds upon the Government
in applications for pensions and bounty lands; for the establishment of a
uniform fee bill, prescribing a specific compensation for every service
required of clerks, district attorneys, and marshals; for authorizing an
additional regiment of mounted men for the defense of our frontiers against
the Indians and for fulfilling our treaty stipulations with Mexico to
defend her citizens against the Indians "with equal diligence and energy as
our own;" for determining the relative rank between the naval and civil
officers in our public ships and between the officers of the Army and Navy
in the various grades of each; for reorganizing the naval establishment by
fixing the number of officers in each grade, and providing for a retired
list upon reduced pay of those unfit for active duty; for prescribing and
regulating punishments in the Navy; for the appointment of a commission to
revise the public statutes of the United States by arranging them in order,
supplying deficiencies, correcting incongruities, simplifying their
language, and reporting them to Congress for its final action; and for the
establishment of a commission to adjudicate and settle private claims
against the United States. I am not aware, however, that any of these
subjects have been finally acted upon by Congress. Without repeating the
reasons for legislation on these subjects which have been assigned in
former messages, I respectfully recommend them again to your favorable

I think it due to the several Executive Departments of this Government to
bear testimony to the efficiency and integrity with which they are
conducted. With all the careful superintendence which it is possible for
the heads of those Departments to exercise, still the due administration
and guardianship of the public money must very much depend on the
vigilance, intelligence, and fidelity of the subordinate officers and
clerks, and especially on those intrusted with the settlement and
adjustment of claims and accounts. I am gratified to believe that they have
generally performed their duties faithfully and well. They are appointed to
guard the approaches to the public Treasury, and they occupy positions that
expose them to all the temptations and seductions which the cupidity of
peculators and fraudulent claimants can prompt them to employ. It will be
but a wise precaution to protect the Government against that source of
mischief and corruption, as far as it can be done, by the enactment of all
proper legal penalties. The laws in this respect are supposed to be
defective, and I therefore deem it my duty to call your attention to the
subject and to recommend that provision be made by law for the punishment
not only of those who shall accept bribes, but also of those who shall
either promise, give, or offer to give to any of those officers or clerks a
bribe or reward touching or relating to any matter of their official action
or duty.

It has been the uniform policy of this Government, from its foundation to
the present day, to abstain from all interference in the domestic affairs
of other nations. The consequence has been that while the nations of Europe
have been engaged in desolating wars our country has pursued its peaceful
course to unexampled prosperity and happiness. The wars in which we have
been compelled to engage in defense of the rights and honor of the country
have been, fortunately, of short duration. During the terrific contest of
nation against nation which succeeded the French Revolution we were enabled
by the wisdom and firmness of President Washington to maintain our
neutrality. While other nations were drawn into this wide-sweeping
whirlpool, we sat quiet and unmoved upon our own shores. While the flower
of their numerous armies was wasted by disease or perished by hundreds of
thousands upon the battlefield, the youth of this favored land were
permitted to enjoy the blessings of peace beneath the paternal roof. While
the States of Europe incurred enormous debts, under the burden of which
their subjects still groan, and which must absorb no small part of the
product of the honest industry of those countries for generations to come,
the United States have once been enabled to exhibit the proud spectacle of
a nation free from public debt, and if permitted to pursue our prosperous
way for a few years longer in peace we may do the same again.

But it is now said by some that this policy must be changed. Europe is no
longer separated from us by a voyage of months, but steam navigation has
brought her within a few days' sail of our shores. We see more of her
movements and take a deeper interest in her controversies. Although no one
proposes that we should join the fraternity of potentates who have for ages
lavished the blood and treasure of their subjects in maintaining "the
balance of power," yet it is said that we ought to interfere between
contending sovereigns and their subjects for the purpose of overthrowing
the monarchies of Europe and establishing in their place republican
institutions. It is alleged that we have heretofore pursued a different
course from a sense of our weakness, but that now our conscious strength
dictates a change of policy, and that it is consequently our duty to mingle
in these contests and aid those who are struggling for liberty.

This is a most seductive but dangerous appeal to the generous sympathies of
freemen. Enjoying, as we do, the blessings of a free Government, there is
no man who has an American heart that would not rejoice to see these
blessings extended to all other nations. We can not witness the struggle
between the oppressed and his oppressor anywhere without the deepest
sympathy for the former and the most anxious desire for his triumph.
Nevertheless, is it prudent or is it wise to involve ourselves in these
foreign wars? Is it indeed true that we have heretofore refrained from
doing so merely from the degrading motive of a conscious weakness? For the
honor of the patriots who have gone before us, I can not admit it. Men of
the Revolution, who drew the sword against the oppressions of the mother
country and pledged to Heaven "their lives, their fortunes, and their
sacred honor" to maintain their freedom, could never have been actuated by
so unworthy a motive. They knew no weakness or fear where right or duty
pointed the way, and it is a libel upon their fair fame for us, while we
enjoy the blessings for which they so nobly fought and bled, to insinuate
it. The truth is that the course which they pursued was dictated by a stern
sense of international justice, by a statesmanlike prudence and a
far-seeing wisdom, looking not merely to the present necessities but to the
permanent safety and interest of the country. They knew that the world is
governed less by sympathy than by reason and force; that it was not
possible for this nation to become a "propagandist" of free principles
without arraying against it the combined powers of Europe, and that the
result was more likely to be the overthrow of republican liberty here than
its establishment there. History has been written in vain for those who can
doubt this. France had no sooner established a republican form of
government than she manifested a desire to force its blessings on all the
world. Her own historian informs us that, hearing of some petty acts of
tyranny in a neighboring principality, "the National Convention declared
that she would afford succor and fraternity to all nations who wished to
recover their liberty, and she gave it in charge to the executive power to
give orders to the generals of the French armies to aid all citizens who
might have been or should be oppressed in the cause of liberty." Here was
the false step which led to her subsequent misfortunes. She soon found
herself involved in war with all the rest of Europe. In less than ten years
her Government was changed from a republic to an empire, and finally, after
shedding rivers of blood, foreign powers restored her exiled dynasty and
exhausted Europe sought peace and repose in the unquestioned ascendency of
monarchical principles. Let us learn wisdom from her example. Let us
remember that revolutions do not always establish freedom. Our own free
institutions were not the offspring of our Revolution. They existed before.
They were planted in the free charters of self-government under which the
English colonies grew up, and our Revolution only freed us from the
dominion of a foreign power whose government was at variance with those
institutions. But European nations have had no such training for
self-government, and every effort to establish it by bloody revolutions has
been, and must without that preparation continue to be, a failure. Liberty
unregulated by law degenerates into anarchy, which soon becomes the most
horrid of all despotisms. Our policy is wisely to govern ourselves, and
thereby to set such an example of national justice, prosperity, and true
glory as shall teach to all nations the blessings of self-government and
the unparalleled enterprise and success of a free people.

We live in an age of progress, and ours is emphatically a country of
progress. Within the last half century the number of States in this Union
has nearly doubled, the population has almost quadrupled, and our
boundaries have been extended from the Mississippi to the Pacific. Our
territory is checkered over with railroads and furrowed with canals. The
inventive talent of our country is excited to the highest pitch, and the
numerous applications for patents for valuable improvements distinguish
this age and this people from all others. The genius of one American has
enabled our commerce to move against wind and tide and that of another has
annihilated distance in the transmission of intelligence. The whole country
is full of enterprise. Our common schools are diffusing intelligence among
the people and our industry is fast accumulating the comforts and luxuries
of life. This is in part owing to our peculiar position, to our fertile
soil and comparatively sparse population; but much of it is also owing to
the popular institutions under which we live, to the freedom which every
man feels to engage in any useful pursuit according to his taste or
inclination, and to the entire confidence that his person and property will
be protected by the laws. But whatever may be the cause of this
unparalleled growth in population, intelligence, and wealth, one tiring is
clear--that the Government must keep pace with the progress of the people.
It must participate in their spirit of enterprise, and while it exacts
obedience to the laws and restrains all unauthorized invasions of the
rights of neighboring states, it should foster and protect home industry
and lend its powerful strength to the improvement of such means of
intercommunication as are necessary to promote our internal commerce and
strengthen the ties which bind us together as a people.

It is not strange, however much it may be regretted, that such an
exuberance of enterprise should cause some individuals to mistake change
for progress and the invasion of the rights of others for national prowess
and glory. The former are constantly agitating for some change in the
organic law, or urging new and untried theories of human rights. The latter
are ever ready to engage in any wild crusade against a neighboring people,
regardless of the justice of the enterprise and without looking at the
fatal consequences to ourselves and to the cause of popular government.
Such expeditions, however, are often stimulated by mercenary individuals,
who expect to share the plunder or profit of the enterprise without
exposing themselves to danger, and are led on by some irresponsible
foreigner, who abuses the hospitality of our own Government by seducing the
young and ignorant to join in his scheme of personal ambition or revenge
under the false and delusive pretense of extending the area of freedom.
These reprehensible aggressions but retard the true progress of our nation
and tarnish its fair fame. They should therefore receive the indignant
frowns of every good citizen who sincerely loves his country and takes a
pride in its prosperity and honor. Our Constitution, though not perfect, is
doubtless the best that ever was formed. Therefore let every proposition to
change it be well weighed and, if found beneficial, cautiously adopted.
Every patriot will rejoice to see its authority so exerted as to advance
the prosperity and honor of the nation, whilst he will watch with jealousy
any attempt to mutilate this charter of our liberties or pervert its powers
to acts of aggression or injustice. Thus shall conservatism and progress
blend their harmonious action in preserving the form and spirit of the
Constitution and at the same time carry forward the great improvements of
the country with a rapidity and energy which freemen only can display.

In closing this my last annual communication, permit me, fellow-citizens,
to congratulate you on the prosperous condition of our beloved country.
Abroad its relations with all foreign powers are friendly, its rights are
respected, and its high place in the family of nations cheerfully
recognized. At home we enjoy an amount of happiness, public and private,
which has probably never fallen to the lot of any other people. Besides
affording to our own citizens a degree of prosperity of which on so large a
scale I know of no other instance, our country is annually affording a
refuge and a home to multitudes, altogether without example, from the Old

We owe these blessings, under Heaven, to the happy Constitution and
Government which were bequeathed to us by our fathers, and which it is our
sacred duty to transmit in all their integrity to our children. We must all
consider it a great distinction and privilege to have been chosen by the
people to bear a part in the administration of such a Government. Called by
an unexpected dispensation to its highest trust at a season of
embarrassment and alarm, I entered upon its arduous duties with extreme
diffidence. I claim only to have discharged them to the best of an humble
ability, with a single eye to the public good, and it is with devout
gratitude in retiring from office that I leave the country in a state of
peace and prosperity.

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