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extent of about one hundred and forty-two thousand eight hundred and seventy-seven miles, having been increased about thirty-seven thousand one hundred and three miles, within the last two years.
The annual mail transportation on these routes is about 36,228,962 miles, having been increased about 10,359,476 iniles within the same period. The number of postoffices has also been increased from 10,770, to 12,099, very few of which receive the mails less than once a week, and a large portion of the daily. Contractors and post-masters in general are represented as attend. ing to their duties with most commendable zeal and fidelity.
The revenue of the department within the year ending on the 30th of June last, was $4,137,066 59; and its liabilities accruing within the same time, were $3,380,847 75. The increase of revenue over that of the preceding year, was $708,166 41.
For many interesting details, I refer you to the report of the postmaster-general, with the accompanying paper. Your particular attention is invited to the necessity of providing a more safe and convenient building for the accommodation of the department.
I lay before Congress copies of reports, submitted in pursuance of a call made by me upon the heads of departments, for such suggestions as their experience might enable them to make, as to what further legislative provisions may be advantageously adopted to secure the faithful application of public money to the objects for which they are appropriated; to prevent their misapplication or embezzlement by those intrusted with the expenditure of them; and generally to increase the security of the government against losses in their disbursement. It is needless to dilate on the importance of providing such new safeguards as are within the power of legislation to promote these ends; and I have little to add to the recommendations submitted in the accompanying papers.
By law, the terms of service of our most important collecting and disbursing officers in the civil departments, are limited to four years, and when re-appointed, their
bonds are required to be renewed. The safety of the public is much increased by this feature of the law, and there can be no doubt that its application to all officers intrusted with the collection or disbursement of the public money, whatever may be the tenure of their offices, would be equally beneficial. I therefore recommend, in addition to such of the suggestions presented by the heads of department as you may think useful, a general provision that all officers of the army or navy, or in the civil department, intrusted with the receipt or payment of the public money, and whose term of service is either unlimited or for a longer time than four years, be required to give bonds, with good and sufficient securities, at the expiration of every such period.
A change in the period of terminating the fiscal year, from the first of October to the first of April, has been frequently recommended, and appears to be desirable.
The distressing casualties in steamboats, which have so frequently happened, during the year, seem to evince the necessity of attempting to prevent them by means of severe provisions connected with their custom-house papers. This subject was submitted to the attention of Congress by the secretary of the treasury, in his last annual report, and will be again noticed at the present session, with additional details. It will doubtless receive that early and careful consideration which its pressing importance appears to require.
Your attention has heretofore been frequently called to the affairs of the District of Columbia, and I should pot again ask it, did not their entire dependence on Congress give them a constant claim upon its notice. Separated by the constitution from the rest of the Union, limited in extent, and aided by no legislature of its own, it would seem to be a spot where a wise and uniform system of local government might have been easily adopted.
This district, however, unfortunately, has been left to linger behind the rest of the Union; its codes, civil and criminal, are not only very defective, but full of obsolete or inconvenient provisions; being formed of portions of two states, discrepancies in the laws prevail in ditferent parts of the territory, small as it is; and although it was selected as the seat of the general government, the site of its public edifices, the depository of its archives, and the residence of officers intrusted with large amounts of public property, and the management of public business. yet it has never been subjected to, or received, that spe cial and comprehensive legislation which these circum stances peculiarly demand.
I am well aware of the various subjects of greater magnitude and immediate interest, that press themselves on the consideration of Congress; but I believe there is no one that appeals more directly to its justice, than a liberal and even generous attention to the interests of the District of Columbia, and a thorough and care al revi. sion of its local government.
MARCH 4 1841.
STORT Fellow-Citizens :
Called from a retirement which I had supposed was to continue for the residue of my life, to fill the Chief Executive office of this great and free nation, I appear before you, to take the oaths which the Constitution prescribes, as a necessary qualification for the performance of its du ties. And in obedience to a custom coeval with our go vernment and what I believe to be your expectations, I proceed to present to you a summary of the principles which will govern me in the discharge of the duties which I shall be called upon to perform
It was the remark of a Roman Consul, in an early pe. riod of that celebrated republic, that a most striking con trast was observable in the conduct of candidates for offices of power and trust, before and after obtaining themthey seldom carrying out, in the latter case, the pledges and promises made in the former. However much the world may have improved, in many respects, in the lapse