Imagens das páginas

enlargement of the works, and the employment of a greater number of hands at the public armories, the supply of small arms, of an improving quality, appears to be annually increasing at a rate that, with those made on private contract, may be expected to go far towards providing for the public exigency. The act of Congress providing for the equipment of our vessels of war having been fully carried into execution, I refer to the statement of the Secretary of the Navy for the information which may be proper on that subject. To that statement is added a view of the transfers of appropriations, authorized by the act of the session preceding the last, and of the grounds on which the transfers were made. Whatever may be the course of your deliberations on the subject of our military establishments, I should fail in my duty in not recommending to your serious attention the importance of giving to our militia, the great bulwark of our security and resource of our power, an organization the best adapted to eventual situations, for which the United States ought to be prepared. The sums which had been previously accumulated in the treasury, together with the receipts during the year ending on the 30th of September last, (and amounting to more than nine millions of dollars,) have enabled us to fulfil all our engagements, and to defray the current expenses of government, without recurring to any loan. But the insecurity of our commerce, and the consequent diminution of the public revenue, will probably produce a deficiency in the receipts of the ensuing year, for which, and for other details, I refer to the statements which will be transmitted from the treasury. In the state which has been presented of our affairs with the great parties to a disastrous and protracted war, carried on in a mode equally injurious and unjust to the United States as a neutral nation, the wisdom of the national legislature will be again summoned to the important decision on the alternatives before them. That these will be met in a spirit worthy the councils of a nation conscious both of its rectitude and of its rights, and tareful as well of its hono as of its peace, I have an entire confidence. And that the result will be stamped by a unanimity becoming the occasion, and be supported by every portion of our citizens, with a patriotism enlightened and invigorated by experience, ought as little to be doubted. In the midst of the wrongs and vexations experienced from external causes, there is much room for congratulation on the prosperity and happiness flowing from our situation at home. The blessing of health has never been more universal. The fruits of the seasons, though in particular articles and districts short of their usual redundancy, are more than sufficient for our wants and our comforts. The face of our country everywhere presents the evidence of laudable enterprise, of extensive capital, and of durable improvement. In the cultivation of the materials, and the extension of useful manufactures, more especially in the general application to household fabrics, we behold a rapid diminution of our dependence on foreign supplies. Nor is it unworthy of reflection, 'that this revolution in our pursuits and habits is in no slight degree a consequence of those impolitic and arbitrary edicts, by which the contending nations, in endeavoring each of them to obstruct our trade with the other, have so far abridged our means of procuring the productions and manufactures, of which our own are now taking the place. Recollecting always, that, for every advantage which may contribute to distinguish our lot from that to which others are doomed by the unhappy spirit of the times, we are indebted to that Divine Providence whose goodness has been so remarkably extended to this rising nation, it becomes us to cherish a devout gratitude, and to implore from the same Omnipotent Source a blessing on the consultations and measures about to be undertaken for the welfare of our beloved country.

MARCH 5, 1817.

I should be destitute of feeling if I was not deeply af. sected by the strong proof which my fellow-citizens have given me of their confidence, in calling me to the high office, whose functions I am about to assume. As the expression of their good opinion of my conduct in the public service, I derive from it a gratification which those who are conscious of having done all that they could do to merit it, can alone feel. My sensibility is increased by a just estimate of the importance of the trust, and of the mature and extent of its duties; with the proper discharge of which the highest interests of a great and free people are intimately connected. Conscious of my own deficiency, I cannot enter on these duties without great anxiety for the result. From a just responsibility I will never shrink; calculating with confidence, that in my best efforts to promote the public welfare, my motives will always be duly appreciated, and my conduct be viewed with that candor and indulgence which I have experienced in other stations.

In commencing the duties of the chief executive office it has been the practice of the distinguished men who have gone before me, to explain the principles which would govern them in their respective administrations. In following their venerated example, my attention is naturally drawn to the great causes which have contributed, in a principal degree, to produce the present happy condition of the United States. They will best explain the nature of our duties, and shed much light on the policy which ought to be pursued in future.

From the commencement of our revolution to the present day, almost forty years have elapsed, and from the establishment of this constitution, twenty-eight. Through this whole term, the government has been what may emphatica..y be called, self-government: and what has been the effect : To whatever object we turn our attention whether it relates to our foreign or domestic concerns we find abundant cause to felicitate ourselves in the excellence of our institutions. During a period fraught with difficulties, and marked by very extraordinary events, the United States have flourished beyond exam ple. Their citizens, individually, have been happy, and the nation prosperous. Under this constitution our commerce has been wisely regulated with foreign nations, and between the states; new states have been admitted into our Union; our territory has been enlarged by fair and honorable treaty, and with great advantage to the original states; the states respectively protected by the national government, under a mild paternal system, against foreign dangers, and enjoying within their separate spheres, by a wise partition of power, a just proportion of the sovereignty, have improved their police, extended their settlements, and attained a strength and maturity which are the best proofs of wholesome laws well administered. And if we look to the condition of individuals, what a proud spectacle does it exhibit! On whom has oppression fallen in any quarter of our Union? Who has been deprived of any right of person or property Who restrained from offering his vows, in the mode which he prefers, to the Divine Author of his being It is well known that all these blessings have been enjoyed in their fullest extent; and I add, with peculiar satisfaction, that there has been no example of a capital punishment being inflicted on any one for the crime of high treason. Some who might admit the competency of our governmey to those beneficent duties, might doubt it in trials which put to the test its strength and efficiency as a member of the great community of nations. Here, too, experience has afforded us the most satisfactory proof in its favor. Just as this constitution was put into action. several of the principal states of Europe had become much agitated, and some of them seriously convulsed. Destructive wars ensued, which have of late only been terminated. In the course of these conflicts, the United States received great injury from several of the parties It was their interest to stand aloof from the contest, to demand justice from the party committing the injury and to caltivate, by a fair and honorable conduct, the friendship of all. War became at length inevitable, and the result has shown that our government is equal to that, the greatest of trials, under the most unfavorable circum

stances Of the virtue of the people, and of the heroic

exploits of the army, the navy, and the militia, I need not speak.

Such, then, is the happy government under which we live; a government adequate to every purpose for which the social compact is formed; a government elective in all its branches, under which every citizen may, by his merit, obtain the highest trust recognised by the constitution; which contains within it no cause of discord; none to put at variance one portion of the community with another; a government which protects every citizen in the full enjoyment of his rights, and is able to protect the nation against injustice from foreign powers.

Other considerations of the highest importance admonish us to cherish our union, and to cling to the government which supports it. Fortunate as we are in our political institutions, we have not been less so in other circumstances, on which our prosperity and happiness essentiall depend. Situated within the temperate zone, and o ing through many degrees of latitude along the Atlantic, the United States enjoy all the varieties of climate, and, every production incident to that portion of the globe. Penetrating, internally, to the great lakes and beyond the resources of the great rivers which communicate through our whole interior, no country was ever happier with respect to its domain. Blessed too with a fertile soil, our produce has always been very abundant, leaving, even :: years the least favorable, a surplus for the wants of our fellow-men in other countries. Such is our peculiar felicity, that there is not a part of our Union that is not particularly interested in preserving it. The great agricultural interest of our nation prospers under its protection. Local interests are not less fostered by iu. Our fellow-citizens of the north, engaged in navigation, find great encouragement in being made the favored carriers of the vast productions of the other portions of the United States while the inhabitants of these are amply recom

« AnteriorContinuar »