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contest. In producing such a determination, it cannot be doubted that the opinions of friendly powers who have taken no part in the controversy will have their merited influence.
It is of the highest importance to our national character, and indispensa ble to the morality of our citizens, that all violations of our neutrality should be prevented. No door should be left open for the evasion of our laws; no opportunity afforded to any who may be disposed to take advantage of it to compromit the interest or honor of the nation. It is submitted, therefore, to the consideration of Congress, whether it may not be advisable to revise the laws with a view to this desirable result.
It is submitted, also, whether it may not be advisable to designate by law the several ports or places along the coast at which only foreign ships of war and privateers may be admitted. The difficulty of sustaining the regu lations of our commerce, and of other important interests, from abuse, without such designation, furnishes a strong motive for this measure.
At the time of the negotiation for the renewal of the commercial convention between the United States and Great Britain, a hope had been entertained that an article might have been agreed upon mutually satisfactory to both countries, regulating upon principles of justice and reciprocity the commercial intercourse between the United States and the British possessions, as well in the West Indies as upon the continent of North America. The plenipotentiaries of the two governments not having been able to come to an agreement on this important interest, those of the United States reserved for the consideration of this government the proposals which had been presented to them as the ultimate offer on the part of the British government, and which they were not authorized to accept. On their transmission here, they were examined with due deliberation, and the result of which was a new effort to meet the views of the British government. The minister of the United States was instructed to make a farther proposal, which has not been accepted. It was, however, declined in an amicable manner. I recommend to the consideration of Congress whether farther prohibitory provisions in the laws relating to this intercourse may not be expedient. It is seen with interest, that although it has not been practicable as yet to agree in any arrangement of this important branch of their commerce, such is the disposition of the parties, that each will view any regulations which the other may make respecting it in the most friendly light.
By the fifth article of the convention, concluded on the 20th of October, 1818, it was stipulated that the differences which had arisen between the two governments, with regard to the true intent and meaning of the fifth article of the treaty of Ghent, in relation to the carrying away, by British officers, of slaves from the United States, after the exchange of the ratifications of the treaty of peace, should be referred to the decision of some friendly sovereign or state to be named for that purpose. The minister of the United States has been instructed to name to the British government a foreign sovereign, the common friend to both parties, for the decision of this question. The answer of that government to the proposal, when received, will indicate the farther measures to be pursued on the part of the United States. Although the pecuniary embarrassment which affected various parts the Union during the latter part of the preceding year have, during the present, been considerably augmented, and still continue to exist, the receipts into the treasury to the 30th of September last have amounted to nineteen
millions of dollars. After defraying the current expenses of the government, including the interest and reimbursement of the public debt, payable to that period, amounting to eighteen millions two hundred thousand dollars, there remained in the treasury on that day more than two millions five hundred thousand dollars, which, with the sums receivable during the remainder of the year, will exceed the current demands upon the treasury for the same period.
The causes which have tended to diminish the public receipts could not fail to have a corresponding effect upon the revenue which has accrued upon imposts and tonnage during the three first quarters of the present year. It is, however, ascertained that the duties which have been secured during that period exceed eighteen millions of dollars, and those of the whole year will probably amount to twenty-three millions of dollars.
For the probable receipts of the next year I refer you to the statements which will be transmitted from the treasury, which will enable you to judge whether farther provision be necessary.
The great reduction in the price of the principal articles of domestic growth, which has occurred during the present year, and the consequent fall in the price of labor, apparently so favorable to the success of domes tic manufacture, have not shielded them against other causes adverse to their prosperity. The pecuniary embarrassments which have so deeply affected the commercial interests of the nation have been no less adverse to our manufacturing establishments in several sections of the Union.
The great reduction of the currency which the banks have been constrained to make, in order to continue specie payments, and the vitiated character of it where such reductions have not been attempted, instead of placing within the reach of these establishments the pecuniary aid necessary to avail themselves of the advantages resulting from the reduction of the prices of the raw materials and of labor, have compelled the banks to withdraw from them a portion of the capital heretofore advanced to them. That aid which has been refused by the banks has not been obtained from other sources, owing to the loss of individual confidence from the failures which have recently occurred in some of our principal commercial cities.
An additional cause of the depression of these establishments may probably be found in pecuniary embarrassments which have recently affected those countries with which our commerce has been principally prosecuted. Their manufactures, for the want of a ready or profitable market at home, have been shipped by the manufacturers to the United States, and in many instances sold at price below their current value at the place of manufacture. Although this practice may from its nature be considered temporary or contingent, it is not on that account less injurious in its effects. Uniformity in the demand and price of an article is highly desirable to the domestic manufacturer.
It is deemed of great importance to give encouragement to our domestic manufactures. In what manner the evils adverted to may be remedied, and how far it may be practicable, in other respects, to afford to them farther encouragement, paying due regard to all the other great interests of the nation, is submitted to the wisdom of Congress.
The survey of the coast for the establishment of fortifications is now nearly completed, and considerable progress has been made in the collection of materials for the construction of fortifications in the gulf of Mexico and in the Chesapeake bay. The works on the eastern bank of the
Potomac below Alexandria, and on the Peapatch in the Delaware, are much advanced, and it is expected that the fortifications at the narrows, in the harbor of New York, will be completed the present year, To derive all the advantages contemplated from these fortifications, it was necessary that they should be judiciously posted, and constructed with a view to permanency. The progress hitherto has, therefore, been slow; but as the difficulties in parts hitherto the least explored and known are surmounted, it will in future be more rapid. As soon as the survey of the coast is completed, which it is expected will be done early in the next spring, the engineers employed in it will proceed to examine for like purposes the northern and northwestern frontiers.
The troops intended to occupy a station at the mouth of the St. Peter's on the Mississippi, have established themselves there, and those which were ordered to the mouth of the Yellowstone on the Missouri have ascended that river to the Council Bluffs, where they will remain until next spring, when they will proceed to the place of their destination. I have the satisfaction to state that this measure has been executed in amity with the Indian tribes, and that it promises to produce, in regard to them, all the advantages which were contemplated by it.
Much progress has likewise been made in the construction of ships of war, and in the collection of timber and other materials for ship building, It is not doubted that our navy will soon be augmented to the number, and placed in all respects on the footing, provided for by law.
The board, consisting of engineers and naval officers, have not yet made their final report of sites for two naval depots, as instructed, according to the resolution of March 18th and April 20th, 1818, but they have examined the coast therein designated, and their report is expected in the next month.
For the protection of our commerce in the Mediterranean, along the southern Atlantic coast, in the Pacific and Indian oceans, it has been found necessary to maintain a strong naval force, which it seems proper for the present to continue There is much reason to believe that if any portion of the squadron heretofore stationed in the Mediterranean should be withdrawn, our intercourse with the powers bordering on that sea would be much interrupted, if not altogether destroyed. Such, too, has been the growth of a spirit of piracy in the other quarters mentioned, by adventurers from every country, in abuse of the friendly flags which they have assumed, that not to protect our commerce there would be to abandon it as a prey to their rapacity. Due attention has likewise been paid to the suppression of the slave trade, in compliance with a law of the last session. Orders have been given to the commanders of all our public ships, to seize all vessels navigated under our flag engaged in that trade, and to bring them in, to be proceeded against in the manner prescribed by that law. It is hoped that these vigorous measures, supported by like acts by other nations, will soon terminate a commerce so disgraceful to the civilized world.
In the execution of the duty imposed by these acts, and of a high trust connected with it, it is with deep regret I have to state the loss which has been sustained by the death of Commodore Perry. His gallantry in a brilliant exploit in the late war added to the renown of his country. His death is deplored as a national misfortune.
FOURTH ANNUAL MESSAGE.
NOVEMBER 14, 1820.
Fellow Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:
IN communicating to you a just view of public affairs at the commencement of your present labors, I do it with great satisfaction, because, taking all circumstances into consideration which claim attention, I see much cause to rejoice in the felicity of our situation. In making this remark, I do not wish to be understood to imply that an unvaried prosperity is to be seen in every interest of this great community. In the progress of a nation inhabiting a territory of such vast extent and great variety of climate, every portion of which is engaged in foreign commerce, and liable to be affected in some degree by the changes which occur in the condition and regulations of foreign countries, it would be strange if the produce of our soil and the industry and enterprise of our fellow citizens received, at all times and in every quarter, an uniform and equal encouragement. This would be more than we would have a right to expect under circumstances the most favorable. Pressures on certain interests, it is admitted, have been felt; but allowing to these their greatest extent, they detract but little from the force of the remarks already made. In forming a just estimate of our present situation, it is proper to look at the whole in the outline as well as in the detail. A free, virtuous, and enlightened people know well the great principles and causes on which their happiness depends, and even those who suffer most occasionally in their transitory concerns, find great relief under their sufferings from the blessings which they otherwise enjoy, and in the consoling and animating hope which they administer. From whence do these pressures come? Not from a government which is founded by, administered for, and supported by the people. We trace them to the peculiar character of the epoch in which we live, and to the extraordinary occurrences which have signalized it. The convulsions with which several of the powers of Europe have been shaken, and the long and destructive wars in which all were engaged, with their sudden transition to a state of peace, presenting in the first instance unusual encouragement to our commerce, and withdrawing it in the second, even within its wonted limit, could not fail to be sensibly felt here. The station, too, which we had to support through this long conflict, compelled as we were, finally, to become a party to it with a principal power, and to make great exertions, suffer heavy losses, and to contract considerable debts, disturbing the ordinary course of affairs by augmenting to a vast amount the circulating medium, and thereby elevating at one time the price of every article above a just standard, and depressing it at another below it, had likewise its due effect.
It is manifest that the pressures of which we complain have proceeded in a great measure from these causes. When, then, we take into view the prosperous and happy condition of our country in all the great circumstances which constitute the felicity of a nation - every individual in the full enjoyment of all his rights-the Union blessed with plenty, and rapidly rising to greatness under a national government which operates with complete effect in every part without being felt in any, except by the ample protection which it affords, and under state governments which perform their equal share according to a wise distribution of power between them, in pro
moting the public happiness-it is impossible to behold so gratifying, so glorious a spectacle, without being penetrated with the most profound and grateful acknowledgments to the Supreme Author of all good for such manifold and inestimable blessings. Deeply impressed with these sentiments, I cannot regard the pressures to which I have adverted otherwise tha in the light of mild and instructive admonitions; warning us of dangers to be shunned in future; teaching us lessons of economy corresponding with the simplicity and purity of our institutions, and best adapted to their support; evincing the connection and dependence which the various parts. of our happy Union have on each other, thereby augmenting daily our social incorporation, and adding by its strong ties new strength and vigor to the political; opening a wider range, and with new encouragement, to the industry and enterprise of our fellow citizens at home and abroad; and more especially by the multiplied proofs which it has accumulated of the great perfection of our most excellent system of government, the powerful instruinent in the hands of an All-merciful Creator, in securing to us these blessings.
Happy as our situation is, it does not exempt us from solicitude and care for the future. On the contrary, as the blessings which we enjoy are great, proportionably great should be our vigilance, zeal, and activity to preserve them. Foreign wars may again expose us to new wrongs, which would impose on us new duties for which we ought to be prepared. The state of Europe is unsettled, and how long peace may be preserved is altogether uncertain; in addition to which, we have interests of our own to adjust, which will require particular attention. A correct view of our relations with each power will enable you to form a just idea of existing difficulties, and of the measures of precaution best adapted to them.
Respecting our relations with Spain, nothing explicit can now be communicated. On the adjournment of Congress in May last, the minister plenipotentiary of the United States at Madrid was instructed to inform the government of Spain, that if His Catholic Majesty should then ratify the treaty, this government would accept the ratification so far as to submit to the decision of the Senate the question whether such ratification should be received in exchange for that of the United States heretofore given. By letters from the minister of the United States to the secretary of state, it appears that a communication in conformity with his instructions had been made to the government of Spain, and that the Cortes had the subject under consideration. The result of the deliberations of that body, which is daily expected, will be made known to Congress as soon as it is received. The friendly sentiment which was expressed on the part of the United States, in the message of the 9th of May last, is still entertained for Spain. Among the causes of regret, however, which are inseparable from the delay attending this transaction, it is proper to state that satisfactory information has been received that measures have been recently adopted, by designing persons, to convert certain parts of the province of East Florida into depots for the reception of foreign goods, from whence to smuggle them into the United States. By opening a port within the limits of Florida, immediately on our boundary, where there was no settlement, the object could not be misunderstood. An early accommodation of differ ences will, it is hoped, prevent all such fraudulent and pernicious practices, and place the relations of the two countries on a very amicable and perma nent basis.