« AnteriorContinuar »
gress in the arts of civilized life, have lately attempted to erect an independent government within the limits of Georgia and Alabama. These states, claiming to be the only sovereigns within their territories, extended their laws over the Indians; which induced the latter to call upon the United States for protection. Under these circumstances, the question presented was, whether the general government had a right to sustain those people in their pretensions. The constitution declares, that “no new state shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other state,” without the consent of its legislature. If the general government is not permitted to tolerate the erection of a confederate state within the territory of one of the members of this Union, against her consent, much less could it allow a foreign and independent government to establish itself there. Georgia became a member of the confederacy which eventuated in our federal union, as a sovereign state, always asserting her claim to certain limits; which having been originally defined in her colonial charter, and subsequently recognised in the treaty of peace, she has ever since continued to enjoy, except as they have been circumscribed by her own voluntary transfer of a portion of her territory to the United States, in the articles of cession of 1802. Alabama was admitted into the Union on the same footing with the original states, with boun daries which were prescribed by Congress. There is no constitutional, conventional, or legal provision, which allows them less power over the Indians within their borders, than is possessed by Maine or New York. Would the people of Maine permit the Penobscot tribe to erect an independent government within their state 2 And unless they did, would it not be the duty of the general government to support them in resisting such a measure ? Would the people of New York permit each remnant of the Six Nations within her borders, to declare itself an independent people under the protection of the United States ? Could the Indians establish a separate republic in each of their reservations in Ohio 2 And if they were so disposed, would it be the duty of this government to protect them in the attempt : If the principle involved in the obvious answer to these questions be abandoned, it will follow that the objects of this government are reversed; and that it has become a part of its duty to aid in destroying the states which it was established to protect. Actuated by this view of the subject, I informed the Indians inhabiting parts of Georgia and Alabama, that their attempt to establish an independent government would not be countenanced by the executive of the United States; and advised them to emigrate beyond the Mississippi, or submit to the laws of those states. ur conduct towards these people is deeply interesting to our national character. Their present condition, contrasted with what they once were, makes a most powerful appeal to our sympathies. Our ancestors found them the uncontrolled possessors of these vast regions. By persuasion and force they have been made to retire from river to river, and from mountain to mountain, until some of the tribes have become extinct, and others have left but remnants, to preserve, for a while, their onée terrible names. Surrounded by the whites, with their arts of civilization, which, by destroying the resources of the savage, doom him to weakness and decay; the fate of the Mohegan, the Narragansett, and the Delaware, is fast overtaking the Choctaw, the Cherokee, and the Creek. That this sate surely awaits them, if they remain within the limits of the states, does not admit .# a doubt. Humanity and national honor demand that every effort should be made to avert so great a calamity. It is too late to inquire whether it was just in the United States to include them and their territory within the bounds of new states whose limits they could control. That step cannot be retraced. A state cannot be dismembered by Congress, or restricted in the exercise of her constitutional power. But the people of those states, and of every state, actuated by feelings of justice and a regard for our national honor, submit to you the interesting question, whether something cannot be done, consistently with the rights of the states, to preserve this much injured race. As a means of effecting this end, I suggest for your consideration the propriety of setting apart an ample dis
trict west of the Mississippi, and without the limits of any state or territory now formed, to be guarantled to the Indian tribes, as long as they shall occupy it; each tribe having a distinct control over the portion designated for its use. There, they may be secured in the enjoyment of governments of their own choice, subject to no other control from the United States than such as may be necessary to preserve peace on the frontier, and between the several tribes. There, the benevolent may endeavor to teach them the arts of civilization; and, by promoting union and harmony among them, to raise up an interesting commonwealth, destined to perpetuate the race, and to attest the humanity and justice of this government. This emigration should be voluntary, for it would be as cruel as unjust to compel the aborigines to abandon the graves of their fathers, and seek a home in a distant land. But they should be distinctly informed that, if they remain within the limits of the states, they must be subject to their laws. In return for their obedience as individuals, they will, without doubt, be protected in the enjoyment of those possessions which they have improved by their industry. But it seems to me visionary to suppose, that in this state of things, claims can be allowed on tracts of country on which they have neither dwelt nor made improvements, merely because they have seen them from the mountain, or passed them in the chase. Submitting to the laws of the states, and receiving, like other citizens, protection in their persons and property,’. they will ere long become merged in the mass of our population. The accompanying report of the Secretary of the Navy will make you acquainted with the condition and useful employment of that branch of our service during the present year. Constituting, as it does, the best standing security of this country against foreign aggression, it claims the especial attention of government. In this spirit, the measures which, since the termination of the last war, have been in operation for its gradual enlargement, were adopted; and it should continue to be cherished as the offspring of our national experience. It will be seen, however that notwithstanding the gre it solicitude which
has been manifested for the perfect organization of this arm, and the liberality of the appropriations which that solicitude has suggest od, this object has, in many important respects, not beer, secured. In time of peace, we have need of no more ships of war ...han are requisite to the protection of our commerce. Those not wanted for this object, must lay in the harbors, where, without proper covering, they rapidly decay; and even under the best precautions for their preservation, must soon become useless. Such is already the case with many of our finest vessels; which, though unfinished, will now require immense sums of money to be restored to the condition in which they were then committed to their proper element. On this subject there can be little doubt that our best policy would be to discontinue the building of the first and second class, and look rather to the possession of ample materials, prepared for the emergencies of war, than to the number of vessels which we can float in a season of peace, as an index of our naval power. . Judicious deposits in the navy-yards, of timber and other materials, fashioned under the hands of skilful workmen, and fitted for prompt application to their various purposes, would enable us, at all times, to construct vessels as fast as they can be manned; and save the heavy expense of repairs, except to such vessels as must be employed in guarding our commerce. The proper points for the establishment of these yards are indicated with so much force in the report of the Navy Board, that, in recommending it to your attention, I deem it unnecessary to do more than express my hearty concurrence in their views. The yard in this district, being already furnished with most of the machinery necessary for ship-building, will be competent to the supply of the two selected by the board as the best for the concentration of materials; and from the facility and certainty of communication between them, it will be useless to incur, at those depots, the expense of similar machinery, especially that used in preparing the usual metallic and wooden furniture of vessels. Another improvement would be effected by dispensing altogether with the Navy Board, as now constituted, and substituting, in its stead, bureaus similar to those already existing in the War Department. Each member of the board, transferred to the head of a separate bureau charged with specific duties, would feel, in its highest degree, that wholesome responsibility which cannot be divided without a far more proportionate diminution of its force. Their valuable services would become still more so when separately appropriated to distinct portions of the great interests of the navy; to the prosperity of which each would be impelled to devote himself by the strongest motives. Under such an arrangement, every branch of this important service would assume a more simple and precise character; its efficiency would be increased, and scrupulous economy in the expenditure of public money promoted.
I would also recommend that the marine corps be merged in the artillery or infantry, as the best mode of curing the many defects of its organization. But little exceeding in number any of the regiments of infantry, that corps has, besides its lieutenant-colonel commandant, five brevet lieutenant-colonels, who receive the full pay and emoluments of their brevet rank, without rendering proportionate service. Details for marine service could as well be made from the artillery or infantry—there being no peculiar training requisite for it.
With these improvements, and such others as zealous watchfulness and mature consideration may suggest there can be little doubt that, upder an energetic admin-, istration of its affairs, the navy may soon be made everything that the nation wishes it to be. Its efficiency in the suppression of piracy in the West India seas, and wherever its squadrons have been employed in securing the interests of the country, will appear from the report of the secretary, to which I refer you for other interesting details. Among these I would bespeak the attention of Congress for the views presented in relation to the inequality between the army and navy as to the pay of officers. No such inequality should prevail between these brave defenders of their country; and where it does cxist, it is submitted to Congress whether it ought not te be rectified.