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- TO THE REGISTER OF DEBATES IN CONGRESS.
TWENTY-FIRST CONGRESS—FIRST SEssion.
List of Members of the Sonate and House of Representatives of the United States.
MAINE–John Holmes, Peleg Sprague.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
PENNSYLVANIA—James Buchanan, Richard Coul-
21st Cong. 1st SEss.]
Message of the President, at the Opening of the Session.
(SEN. AND H. or Reps.
MESSAGE OF THE PRESIDENT, . To BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS,
At the commencement of the First Session of the Twenty first Congress.
DECEMBER 8, 1829.
. Follow-Citizens of the Senate
It affords me pleasure to tender my friendly greetings to you on the occasion of your assembling at the Seat of Government, to enter upon the important duties to which you have been called by the voice of our countrymen. The task devolves on me, under a provision of the Constitution, to present to you, as the Federal Legislature of twenty-four sovereign States, and twelve millions of happy people, a view of our affairs; and to propose such measures as, in the discharge of my official functions, have suggested themselves as necessary to promote the objects of our Union.
In communicating with you, for the first time, it is, to me, a source of unfeigned satisfaction, calling for mutual gratulation and devout thanks to a benign Providence, that we are at Peace with all mankind, and that our coun. try exhibits the most cheering evidence of general welfare and progressive improvement. Turning our eyes to other Nations, our great desire is to see our brethren of the human race secured iu the blessings enjoyed by ourselves, and advancing in knowledge, in freedom, and in social happiness.
Our foreign relations, although in their general character pacific and friendly, presents subjects of difference between us and other Powers, of deep interest, as well to the country at large, as to many of our citizens. To effect an adjustment of these shall continue to be the ob. ject of my earnest endeavors; and notwithstanding the difficulties of the task, I do not allow myself to apprehend unfavorable results. Blessed as our country is with every thing which constitutes national strength, she is fully adequate to the maintenance of all her interests. In discharging the responsible trust confided to the Executive in this respect, it is my settled purpose to ask nothing that is not clearly right, and to submit to nothing that is wrong; and I flatter myself, that, supported by the other branches of the Government, and by the intelligence and patriotism of the People, we shall be able, under the protection of Providence, to cause all our just rights to be respected.
Of the unsettled matters between the United States and other Powers, the most prominent are those which have, for years, been the subject of negotiation with England, France, and Spain. The late periods at which our Ministers to those Governments left the United States, render it impossible, at this early day, to inform you of what has been done on the subjects with which they have been respectively charged. Relying upon the justice of our views in relation to the points committed to negotiation, and the reciprocal good feeling which characterizes our intercourse with those nations, we have the best reason to hope for a satisfactory adjustment of existing dif. ferences.
With Great Britain, alike distinguished in peace and war, we may look forward to years of peaceful, honorable, and elevated competition. Every thing in the condition and history of the two nations is calculated to inspire sentiments of mutual respect, and to carry conviction to the minds of both. that it is their policy to preserve the most cordial relations: Such are my own views, and it is not to be doubted that such are also the prevailing sentiments of our constituents. Although neither time nor opportunity has been afforded for a full development
of the policy which the present Cabinet of Great Britain
21st Cong. 1st Sess.]
Message of the President, at the Opening of the Session.
[SEN, AND H. of REPs.
rial limits, extensive population, and great power, high in the rank of nations, the United States have always found a steadfast friend. Although her recent invasion of Turkey awakened a lively sympathy for those who were exposed to the desolations of war, we cannot but anticipate that the result will prove favorable to the cause of civilization, and to the progress of human happiness. The treaty of peace, between these Powers, having been ratified, we cannot be insensible to the great benefit to be derived to the commerce of the United States, from unlocking the navigation of the Black Sea, a free passage into which is secured to all merchant vessels bound to ports of Russia under a flag at peace with the Porte. This advantage, enjoyed upon conditions, by most of the Powers of Europe, has hitherto been withheld from us. Dur ing the past Summer, an antecedent, but unsuccessful attempt to obtain it, was renewed, under circumstances which promised the most favorable results. Although these results have fortunately been thus in part attained, further facilities to the enjoyment of this new field for the enterprise of our citizens are, in my opinion, sufficiently desirable to ensure to them our most zealous attention. Our trade with Austria, although of secondary impor. tance, has been gradually increasing, and is now so extended as to deserve the fostering care of the Government. A negotiation, commenced and nearly completed with that Power by the late Administration, has been consummated by a treaty of amity, navigation, and commerce, which will be laid before the Senate, During the recess of Congress, our diplomatic relations with Portugal have been resumed. The peculiar state of things in that country caused a suspension of the recognition of the Representative who presented himself, until an opportunity was had to obtain from our official' organ there, information regarding the actual, and, as far as practicable, prospective condition of the authority by which the representative in question was appointed. This information being received, the application of the established rule of our Government, in like cases, was no longer withheld. Considerable advances have been made during the present year, in the adjustment of claims of our citizens upon Denmark for spoilations; but all that we have a right to demand from that Government, in their behalf, has not yet been conceded. From the liberal footing, however, upon which this subject has, with the approbation of the claimants, been placed by the Government, together with the uniformly just and friendly disposition which has been evinced by His Danish Majesty, there is a reasonable ground to hope that this single subject of difference will speedily be removed. Our relations with the Barbary Powers continue, as they have long been, of the most favorable character. The policy of keeping an adequate force in the Mediterranean, as security for the continuance of this tranquility, will be persevered in; as well as a similar one for the protection of our commerce and fisheries in the Pacific. The Southern Republics of our own hemisphere have not yet realized all the advantages for which they have been so long struggling. We trust, however, that the day is not distant when the restoration of peace and internal quiet, under permanent systems of Government, securing the liberty, and promoting the happiness of the citizens, will crown with complete success their long and arduous efforts in the cause of self-government, and ena ble us to salute them as friendly rivals in all that is truly great and glorious. The recent invasion of Mexico, and the effect thereby produced upon her domestic policy, must have a controlling influence upon the great question of South American emancipation. We have seen the fell spirit of civil dissention rebuked, and, perhaps, forever stifled in that republic, by the love of independence. If it be true, as
appearances strongly indicate, that the spirit of independence is the master spirit; and if a corresponding sentiment prevails in the other States, this devotion to liberty cannot be without a proper effect upon the councils of the mother country. The adoption, by Spain, of a pa. cific policy towards her former colonies—an event consoling to humanity, and a blessing to the world, in which she herself cannot fail largely to participate—may be most reasonably expected. The claims of our citizens upon the South American Governments, generally, are in a train of settlement; while the principal part of those upon Brazil have been adjusted : and a Decree in Council, ordering bonds to be issued by the Minister of the Treasury for their amount, has received the sanction of his Imperial Majesty. This event, together with the exchange of the ratifications of the Treaty negotiated and concluded in 1828, happily terminates all serious causes of difference with that Power. Measures have been taken to place our commercial relations with Peru upon a better footing than that upon which they have hitherto rested; and, if met by a proper disposition on the part of that Government, important benefits may be secured to both countries. Deeply interested as we are in the prosperity of our sister Republics, and more particularly in that of our immediate neighbor, it would be most gratifying to me, were I permitted to say, that the treatment which we have jof at her hands has been as universally friendly as the early and constant solicitude manifested by the United States for her success gave us a right to expect. . But it becomes my duty to inform you that prejudices, long in: dulged, by a portion of the inhabitants of Mexico against the Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States, have had an unfortunate influence upon the affairs of the two countries; and have diminished that usefulness to his own which was justly to be expected from his talents and zeal. To this cause, in a great degree, is to be imputed the failure of several measures equally interesting to both parties; but particularly that of the Mexican Government to ratify a treaty negotiated and concluded in its own capital and under its own eye. Under these circumstances, it appeared expedient to give to Mr. Poinsett the option either to return or not, as, in his judgment, the interest of his country might require; and instructions to that end were prepared ; but, before they could be dispatched, a communication was received from the Government of Mexico, through its Chargé d'Affaires here, requesting the recall of our Minister. This was promptly complied with ; and a representative, of a rank corresponding with that of the Mexi. can Diplomatic Agent near this Government was appointed. Our conduct towards that Republic has been uniformly of the most friendly character, and, having thus removed the only alleged obstacle to harmonious intercourse, I cannot but hope that an advantageous change will occur in our affairs. In justice to Mr. Poinsett, it is proper to say, that my immediate compliance with the application for his recall, and the appointment of a successor, are not to be ascribed to any evidence that the imputation of an improper interference by him, in the local politics of Mexico, was well founded; nor to a want of confidence in his talents or integrity; and to add, that the truth of that charge has never been affirmed by the Federal Government of Mexico, in its communications with this. I consider it one of the most urgent of my duties to bring to your attention the propriety of amending that part of our Constitution which relates to the election of President and Vice President. Our system of Govern; ment was, by its framers, deemed an experiment; and they, therefore, consistently provided a mode of remedying its defects. - - To the people belongs the right of electing their Ohio
Magistrate : it was never designed that their choice should, in any case, be defeated, either by the intervention of electoral colleges, or by the agency confided, under certain contingencies, to the House of Representatives. Experience proves, that, in proportion as agents to execute the will of the People are multiplied, there is danger of their wishes being frustrated. Some may be unfaithful: all are liable to err. So far, therefore, as the People can, with convenience, speak, it is safer for them to express their own will. The number of aspirants to the Presidency, and the diversity of the interests which may influence their claims, leave little reason to expect a choice in the first instance: and, in that event, the election must devolve on the House of Representatives, where, it is obvious, the will of the People may not always be ascertained; or, if ascertained, may not be regarded. From the mode of voting by States, the choice is to be made by twentyfour votes; and it may often occur, that one of these may be controlled by an individual representative. Honors and offices are at the disposal of the successful candidate. Repeated ballotings may make it apparent that a single individual holds the cast in his hand. May he not be tempted to name his reward | But even without corruption-supposing the probity of the Representative to be proof against the powerful motives by which he may be assailed—the will of the People is still constantly liable to be misrepresented. One may err from ignorance of the wishes of his constituents; another from a conviction that it is his duty to be governed by his own judgment of the fitness of the candidates: finally, although all were inflexibly honest—all accurately informed of the wishes of their constituents—yet, under the present mode of election, a minority may often elect the President; and when this happens, it may reasonably be expected that efforts will be made on the part of the majority to rectify this injurious operation of their institu. tions. But although no evil of this character should result from such a perversion of the first principle of our system—that the majority is to govern—it must be very certain that a President elected by a minority cannot enjoy the confidence necessary to the successful discharge of #. duties. In this, as in all other matters of public concern, policy requires that as few impediments as possible should exist to the free operation of the public will. Let us, then, endeavor so to amend our system, as that the office of Chief Magistrate may not be conferred upon any citizen but in pursuance of a fair expression of the will of the majority. I would therefore recommend such an amendment of the Constitution as may remove all intermediate agency in the election of President and Vice President. The mode may be so regulated as to preserve to each State its present relative weight in the election; and a failure in the first attempt may be provided for, by confining the second to a choice between the two highest candidates. In connection with such an amendment, it would seem advisable to limit the service of the Chief Magistrate to a single term, of either four or six years. If, however, it should not be adopted, it is worthy of consideration whether a provision disqualifying for office the Representatives in Congress on whom such an election may have devolved, would not be . While members of Congress can be constitutionally appointed to offices of trust and profit, it would be the practice, even under the most conscientious adherence to duty, to select them for such stations as they are believed to be better qualified to fill than other citizens; but the purity of our Government would doubtless be promoted by their exclusion from all appointments in the gift of the President in whose election they may have been officially concerned. The nature of the judicial office
and the necessity of securing in the Cabinet and in diplo: matic stations of the highest rank, the best talents and political experience, should, perhaps, except these from the exclusion. There are perhaps few men who can for any great length of time enjoy office and power without being more or less under the influence of feelings unfavorable to a faithful discharge of their public duties. Their integrity may be proof against improper considerations inmediately addressed to themselves; but they are apt to acquire a habit of looking with indifference upon the public interests, and of tolerating conduct from which an unpractised man would revolt. Office is considered as a species of property; and Government rather as a means of promoting individual interest, than as an instrument created solely for the service of the People. Corruption in some, and, in others, a perversion of correct feelings and principles, divert Government from its legitimate ends, and make it an engine for the support of the few at the expense of the many. The duties of all public officers are, or, at least, admit of being made, so plain and simple, that men of intelligence may readily qualify themselves for their performance; and I cannot but believe that more is lost by the long continuance of men in office, than is generally to be gained by their experience. I submit, therefore, to your consideration, whether the efficiency of the Government would not be promoted, and official industry and integrity better secured, by a general extension of the law which limits appointments to four ears. y In a country where offices are created solely for the benefit of the People, no one man has any more intrinsic right to official station than another. Offices were not established to give support to particular men, at the public expense. No individual wrong is therefore done by removal, since neither appointment to, nor continuance in office, is matter of right. The incumbent became an officer with a view to public benefits; and when these require his removal, they are not to be sacrificed to I. interests. It is the People, and they alone, who have a right to complain, when a bad officer is substituted for a good one. He who is removed has the same means of obtaining a living that are enjoyed by the millions who never held office. The proposed limitation would destroy the idea of property, now so generally connected with official station; and, although individual distress may be sometimes produced, it would, by promoting that rotation which constitutes a leading principle in the republican creed, give healthful action to the system. No very considerable change has occurred, during the recess of Congress, in the condition of either our Agriculture, Commerce, or Manufactures. The operation of the Tariff has not proved so injurious to the two former, nor as beneficial to the latter, as was anticipated. Importations of foreign goods have not been sensibly diminished, while domestic competition, under an illusive excitement, has increased the production much beyond the demand for home consumption. The consequenees have been low prices, temporary embarrassment, and partial loss. That such of our manufacturing establishments as are based upon capital, and are prudently managed, will survive the shock, and be ultimately profitable, there is no good reason to doubt. To regulate its conduct, so as to promote equally the prosperity of these three cardinal interests, is one of the most difficult tasks of Government; and it may be regretted that the complicated restrictions which now embarrass the intercourse of nations, could not by common consent be abolished, and commerce allowed to flow in those channels to which individual enterprise—always its surest guide—might direct it. But we must ever expect selfish legislation in other nations, and are therefore compelled to adapt our own to their regulations, in the man
ner best calculated to avoid serious injury, and to harmonize the conflicting interests of our agriculture, our commeree, and our manufactures. Under these impressions, I invite your attention to the existing Tariff, believing that some of its provisions require modification. The general rule to be applied in graduating the duties upon articles of foreign growth or manufacture, is that which will place our own in fair competition with those of other countries; and the inducements to advance even a step beyond this point, are controlling in regard to those articles which are of primary necessity in time of war. When we reflect upon the difficulty and delicacy of this operation, it is important that it should never be attempted but with the utmost caution. Frequent legislation in regard to any branch of industry, affecting its value, and by which its capital may be transferred to new channels, i. always be productive of hazardous speculation and oss. In deliberating, therefore, on these interesting subjects, local feelings and prejudices should be merged in the patriotic determination to promote the great interests of the whole. , All attempts to connect them with the party conflicts of the day, are necessarily injurions, and J. be o Our action upon them should be under the control of higher and purer motives. Legislation, subjected to such influences, can never be just, and will not long retain the sanction of a People whose active Patriotism is not bounded by sectional limits, nor insersible to that spirit of concession and forbearance which gave life to our political compact, and still sustains it. Discarding all caleulations of political ascendancy, the North, the South, the East, ...]”the West, should unite in diminishing any burthen, of which either may justly *†. The agricultural interest of our country is so essentially connected with every other, and so superior in importance to them all, that it is scarcely necessary to invite to it your particular attention. It is principally as manufactures and commerce tend to increase the value of agricultural productions, and to extend their application to the wants and comforts of society, that they deserve the fostering care of Government. . Looking forward to the period, not far distant, when a sinking fund will be no longer required, the duties on those articles of importation which cannot come in competition with our own productions, are the first that should engage the attention of Congress in the modification of the Tariff Of these, tea and coffee are the most prominent: they enter largely into the consumption of the country, and have become articles of neeessity to all classes. A reduction, therefore, of the existing duties, will be felt as a common benefit; but, like all other legislation connected with commerce, to be efficacious, and not injurious, it should be gradual and certain. The public prosperity is evinced in the inereased revenue, arising from the sales of the public lands, and in the steady maintenance of that produced by imposts and tonnage, notwithstanding the additional duties imposed by the act of 19th of May, 1828, and the unusual importations in the early part of that year. The balance in the Treasury on the 1st of January, 1829, was five millions nine hundred and seventy two thousand four hundred and thirty-five dollars and eighty-one eents The receipts of the current year are estimated at twentyfour millions six hundred and two thousand two hundred and thirty dollars, and the expenditures for the same tin e at twenty-six millions one hundred and sixty-four thousal d five hundred and niuety-five dollars; leaving a balance n the Treasury on the 1st of January next. of four millio, s four hundred and ten thousand and seventy dollars, eightyone cents. There will have been paid, on account of the public debt, during the present year, the sum of twelve milliol's
four hundred and five thousand and five dollars and eighty cents; reducing the whole debt of the Government, on the first of January next, to forty-eight millions five hundred and sixty-five thousand four hundred and six dollars and fifty cents, including seven millions of five per cent. stock, subscribed to the Bauk of the United States. The payment on account of the publie debt, made on the first of July last, was eight millions seven hundred and fifteen thousand four hundred and sixty-two dollars and eightyseven cents. It was apprehended that the sudden withdrawal of so large a sum from the banks in which it was deposited, at a time of unusual pressure in the money market, might cause much injury to the interests dependent on bank accommodations. But this evil was wholly averted by an early anticipation of it at the Treasury, aided by the judicious arrangements of the officers of the Bank of the United States. This state of the finances exhibits the resources of the nation in an aspect highly flattering to its industry and auspicious of the ability of Government, in a very short time, to extinguish the public debt. When this shall be done, our population will be relieved from a considerable portion of its present burthens, and will find, not only new motives to patriotic affection, but additional means for the display of individual enterprise. The fiscal power of the States will also be increased, and may be more extensively exerted in favor of education and other public objects, while ample means will remain in the Federal Government to promote the general weal, in all the modes permitted to its authority. After the extinction of the public debt it is not probable that any adjustment of the tariff, upon principles satisfactory to the People of the Union, will, until a remote period, if ever, leave the Government without a considerable surplus in the Treasury, beyond what may be required for its current service. As, then, the period approaches when the application of the revenue to the payment of debt will cease, the disposition of the surplus will present a subject for the serious deliberation of Congress; and it may be fortunate for the country that it is yet to be decided. Considered in connexion with the difficulties which have heretofore attended appropriations for purposes of internal improvement, and with those which this experience tells us will certainly arise, whenever power over such subjects may be exercised by the General Government, it is hoped that it may lead to the adoption of some plan which will reconcile the diversified interests of the States, and strengthen the bonds which unite"
them. Every member of the Union, in peace and in war,
will be benefited by the improvement of inland navigation and the construction of highways in the several States. Let us, then, endeavor to attain this benefit in a mode which will be satisfactory to all. That hitherto adopted has, by many of our fellow-citizens, been deprecated as an infraction of the Constitution, while, by others, it has been viewed as inexpedient. All feel that it has been employed at the expense of harmony in the legislative councils. To avoid these evils, it appears to me that the most safe, just, and federal disposition which could be made of the surplus revenue, . would be its apportionment among the several States according to their ratio of representation; and, should this measure not be found warranted by the Constitution, that it would be expedient to of: to the States an amendment authorizing it. I regard an appeal to the source of power, in cases of real doubt, and where its exercise is deemed indispensable to the general welfare, as among the most sacred of all our obligations. Upon this country, more than any other, has, in the providence of God, been cast the special guardianship of the great principle of adherence to written constitutions. If it fail here, all hope in regard to it will be extinguished. That this, was intended to be a Gov