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Fellow-Citizens of the Senale
and House of Representatives: The pleasure I have in congratulating you upon your return to your constitutional duties is much heightened by the satisfaction which the condition of our beloved country at this period justly inspires. The beneficent Author of all good has granted to us, during the present year, health, peace, and plenty, and numerous causes for joy in the wonderful success which attends the progress of our free institutions.
With a population unparalleled in its increase, and possessing a character which combines the hardihood of enterprise with the considerateness of wisdom, we see in every section of our happy country a steady improvement in the means of social intercourse, and correspondent effects upon the genius and laws of our extended republic.
The apparent exceptions to the harmony of the prospect are to be referred rather to inevitable diversities in the various interests which enter into the composition of so extensive a whole, than to any want of attachment to the Union-interests whose collisions serve only, in the end, to foster the spirit of conciliation and patriotism, so essential to the preservation of that Union, which, I most devoutly hope, is destined to prove imperishable.
In the midst of these blessings, we have recently witnessed changes in the condition of other nations, which may, in their consequences, call for the utmost vigilance, wisdom, and unanimity in our councils, and the exeroise of all the moderation and patriotism of our people.
The important modifications of their government, effected with so much courage and wisdom by the people of France, afford a happy presage of their future course, and have naturally elicited from the kindred feelings of this nation that spontaneous and universal burst of applause in which you have participated. In congratulating you, my fellow-citizens, upon an event so auspicious to the dearest interests of mankind, I do no more than respond to the voice of my country, without transcending, in the slightest degree, that salutary maxim of the illustrious Washington, which enjoins an abstinence from all interference with the internal affairs of other nations. From a people exercising, in the most unlimited degree, the right of self-government, and enjoying, as derived from this proud characteristic, under the favor of heaven, much of the happiness with which they are blessed; a people who can point in triumph to their free institutions, and challenge comparison with the fruits they bear, as well as with the moderation, intelligence, and energy, with which they are administered; from such a people, the deepest sympathy was to be expected in a struggle for the sacred principles of liberty, conducted in a spirit every way worthy of the cause, and crowned by a heroic moderation which has disarmed revolution of its terrors. Notwithstanding the strong assurances which the man whom we so sincerely love and justly admire has given to the world of the high character of the present King of the French, and which, if sustained to the end, will secure to him the proud appellation of Patriot King—it is not in his success, but in that of the great principle which has borne him to the throne-the paramount authority of the public will—that the American people rejoice.
I am happy to inform you that the anticipations which were indulged at the date of my last communication on the subject of our foreign affairs, have been fully realized in several important particulars.
An arrangement has been effected with Great Britain, in relation to the trade between the United States and her West India and North American colonies, which has settled a question that has for years afforded matter for contention and almost uninterrupted discussion, and has been the subject of no less than six negotiations, in a manner which promises results highly favorable to the parties.
The abstract right of Great Britain to monopolize the trade with her colonies, or to exclude us from a participation therein, has never been denied by the United States. But we have contended, and with reason, that if, at any time, Great Britain may desire the productions of this country, as necessary to her colonies, they must be received upon principles of just reciprocity; and further, that it is making an invidious and unfriendly distinetion, to open her colonial ports to the vessels of other nations, and close them against those of the United States.
Antecedently to 1794, a portion of our productions was admitted into the colonial islands of Great Britain, by particular concessions, limited to the term of one year, but renewed from year to year. In the transportation of these productions, however, our vessels were not allowed to engage; this being a privilege reserved to British shipping, by which alone our produce could be taken to the islands, and theirs brought to us in return. From Newloundland and her continental possessions, all our productions, as well as our vessels, were excluded, with occasional relaxations, by which, in seasons of distress, the former were admitted in British bottoms.
By the treaty of 1794, she offered to concede to us, for a limited time, the right of carrying to her West India possessions, in our vessels not exceeding seventy tons burthen, and upon the same terms as British vessels, any productions of the United States which British vessels might import therefrom. But this privilege was coupled with conditions which are supposed to have led to its rejection by the Senate; that is, that American vessels shouid land their return cargoes in the United States only; and, moreover, that they should, during the continuance of the privilege, be precluded from carrying molasses, sugar, coffee, cocoa, or cotton, either from those islands, or from the United States, to any other part of the world. Great Britain readily consented to expunge this article from the treaty; and subsequent attempts to arrange the terms of the trade, either by treaty stipulations or concerted legislation, having failed, it has been successively suspended and allowed, according to the varying legislation of the parties.
The following are the prominent points which have, in later years, separated the two Governments. Besides a restriction, whereby all importations into her colonies in American vessels are confined to our own products carried hence, a restriction to which it does not appear that we have ever objected, a leading object on the part of Great Britain has been to prevent us from becoming the carriers of British West India commodities to any other country than our own. On the part of the United States, it has been contended, 1st. That the subject should be regulated by treaty stipulation, in preference to separate legislation: 2d. That our productions, when imported into the colonies in question, should not be subject to higher duties than the productions of the mother country, or of her other colonial possessions; and, 3d. That our vessels should be allowed to participate in the circuitous trade between the United States and different parts of the British dominions.
The first point, after having been, for a long time, strenuously insisted upon by Great Britain, was given up by the act of Parliament of July, 1825; all vessels suffered to trade with the colonies being permitted to clear from thence with any articles which British vessels might export, and proceed to any part of the world, Great Britain and her dependencies alone excepted. On our part, each of the above points had, in succession, been explicitly abandoned in negotiations preceding that of which the result is now announced.
This arrangement secures to the United States every advantage asked by them, and which the state of the negotiation allowed us to insist upon. The trade will be placed upon a footing decidedly more favorable to this country than any on which it ever stood; and our commerce and navigation will enjoy, in the colonial ports of Great Britain, every privilege allowed to other nations.
That the prosperity of the country, so far as it depends on this trade, will be greatly promoted by the new arrangement, there can be no doubt. Independently of the more obvious advantages of an open and direct intercourse, its establishment will be attended with other consequences of a higher value. That which has been carried on since the mutual interdict under all the expense and inconvenience unavoidably incident to it, would have been insupportably onerous, had it not been, in a great degree, lightened by concerted evasions in the mode of making the transhipments at what are called the neutral ports. These indirections are inconsistent with the dignity of nations that have so many motives, not only to cherish feelings of mutual friendship, but to maintain such relations as will stimulate their respective citizens and subjects to efforts of direct, open, and honorable competition only; and preserve them from the influence of seductive and vitiating circumstances.
When your preliminary interposition was asked at the close of the last session, a copy of the instructions under which Mr. McLane has acted, together with the communications which had at that time passed between him and the British Government, was laid before you. Although there has not been any thing in the acts of the two Governments which requires secrecy, it was thought most proper, in the then state of the negotiation, to make that communication a confidential one. So soon, however, as the evidence of execution on the part of Great Britain is received, the whole matter shall be laid before you, when it will be seen that the apprehension which appears to have suggested one of the provisions of the act passed at your last session, that the restoration of the trade in question might be connected with other subjects, and was sought to be obtained at the sacrifice of the public interest in other particulars, was wholly unfounded; and that the change which has taken place in the views of the British Government has been induced by considerations as honorable to both parties as, I trust, the result will prove
This desirable result was, it will be seen, greatly promoted by the liberal and confiding provisions of the act of Congress of the last session, by which our ports were, upon the reception and annunciation, by the President, of the required assurance on the part of Great Britain, forthwith opened to her vessels, before the arrangement could be carried into effect on her part; pursuing, in this act of prospective legislation, a similar course to that adopted by Great Britain, in abolishing, by her act of Parliament, in 1825, a restriction then existing, and permitting our vessels to clear from the colonies, on their return voyages, for any foreign country whatever, before British vessels had been relieved from the restriction imposed by our law, of returning directly from the United States to the colonies-a restriction which she required and expected that we should abolish. Upon each occasion, a limited and temporary advantage has been given to the opposite party, but an advantage of no importance in comparison with the restoration of mutual confidence and good feeling, and the ultimate establishment of the trade upon fair principles.
It gives me unfeigned pleasure to assure you that this negotiation has been, throughout, characterised by the most frank and friendly spirit on the part of Great Britain, and concluded in a manner strongly indicative of a sincere desire to cultivate the best relations with the United States.
To recipro cate this disposition to the fullest extent of my ability, is a duty which I shail deem it a privilege to discharge. Although the result
is, itself, the best commentary on the services rendered to his country by our Minister at the court of St. James, it would be doing violence to my feelings were I to dismiss the subject without expressing
the very high sense I entertain of the talent and exertion which hay been displayed by him on the occasion.
The injury to the commerce of the United States resulting from the exclusion of our vessels from the Black sea, and the previous footing of mere sufferance upon which even the limited trade enjoyed by us with Turkey has hitherto been placed, have, for a long time, been a source of much solicitude to this Government; and several endeavors have been made to obtain a better state of things. Sensible of the importance of the object, I felt it my duty to leave no proper means unemployed to acquire for our flag the same privileges that are enjoyed by the principal powers of Europe. Commissioners were, consequently, appointed, to open a negotiation with the Sublime Porte. Not long after the member of the commission who went directly from the United States had sailed, the account of the treaty of Adrianople, by which one of the objects in view was supposed to be secured, reached this country. The Black sea was understood to be opened to us. Under the supposition that this was the case, the additional facilities to be derived from the establishment of commercial regulations with the Porte were deemed of sufficient importance to require a prosecution of the negotiation as originally contemplated. It was therefore persevered in, and resulted in a treaty, which will be forth with laid before the Senate.
By its provisions, a free passage is secured, without limitation of time, to the vessels of the United States, to and from the Black sea, including the navigation thereof; and our trade with Turkey is placed on the footing of the most favored nation. The latter is an arrangement wholly independent of the treaty of Adrianople; and the former derives much value, not only from the increased security which, under any circumstances, it would give to the right in question, but from the fact, ascertained in the course of the negotiation, that, by the construction put upon that treaty by Turkey, the article relating to the passage of the Bosphorus is confined to nations having treaties with the Porte. The most friendly feelings appear to be entertained by the Sultan, and an enlightened disposition is evinced by him to foster the intercourse beiween the two countries by the most liberal arrangements. This disposition it will be our duty and interest to cherish.
Our relations with Russia are of the most stable character. Respect for that empire, and confidence in its friendship towards the United States, have been so long entertained on our part, and so carefully cherished by the present Emperor and his illustrious predecessor, as to have become incorporated with the public sentiment of ihe United States. No means will be left unemployed on my part to promote these salutary feelings, and those improvements of which the commercial intercourse between the two countries is susceptible, and which have derived increased importance from our treaty with the Sublime Porte.
I sincerely regret to inform you that our Minister lately commissioned to that court, on whose distinguished talents and great experience in public affairs I place great reliance, has been compelled by extreme indisposition to exercise a privilege, which, in consideration of the extent to which his constitution had been impaired in the public service, was committed to his discretion-of leaving temporarily his post for the advantage of a more genial climate.
If, as it is to be hoped, the improvement of his health should be such as to justify him in doing so, he will repair to St. Petersburg, and resume the discharge of his official duties. I have received the most satisfactory assurances that, in the mean time, the public interest in that quarter will be preserved from prejudice, by the intercourse which he will continue, through the Secretary of Legation, with the Russian cabinet.
You are apprised, although the fact has not yet been officially announced to the House of Representatives, that a treaty was, in the month of March last, concluded between the United States and Denmark, by which $650,000 are secured to our citizens as an indemnity for spoliations upon their commerce in the years 1808, 1809, 1810, and 1811. This treaty was sanctioned by the Senate at the close of its last session, and it now becomes the duty of Congress to pass the necessary laws for the organization of the Board of Commissioners to distribute the indemnity among the claimants. agreeable circumstance in this adjustment, that the terms are in conformity with the previously ascertained views of the claimants themselves; thus removing all pretence for a future agitation of the subject in any form.
The negotiations in regard to such points in our foreign relations as remain to be adjusted, have been actively prosecuted during the recess. Material advances have been made, which are of a character to promise favorable results. Our country, by the blessing of God, is not in a situation to invite aggression; and it will be our fault if she ever becomes so. Sincerely desirous to cultivate the most liberal and friendly relations with all; ever ready to fulfil our engagements with scrupulous fidelity; limiting our demands upon others to mere justice; holding ourselves ever ready to do unto them as we would wish to be done by; and avoiding even the appearance of undue partiality to any nation, it appears to me impossible that a simple and sincere application of our principles to our foreign relations can fail to place them ultimately upon the footing on which it is our wish they should rest.
Of the points referred to, the most prominent are, our claims upon France for spoliations upon our commerce; similar claims upon Spain, together with embarrassments in the commercial intercourse between the two countries, which onght to be removed; the conclusion of the treaty of commerce and navigation with Mexico, which has been so long in suspense, as well as the final settlement of limits between ourselves and that republic; and, finally, the arbitrament of the question between the United States and Great Britain in regard to the northeastern boundary.
The negotiation with France has been conducted by our Minister with
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