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The commercial relations between the United States and the British colonies in the West Indies and on this continent, have undergone no change, the British government still preferring to leave that commerce under the restriction heretofore imposed on it on each side. It is satisfacfactory to recollect that the restraints resorted to by the United States were defensive only, intended to prevent a monopoly, under British regulations, in favor of Great Britain, as it likewise is to know that the experiment is advancing in a spirit of amity between the parties.
The question depending between the United States and Great Britain, respecting the construction of the first article of the treaty of Ghent, has been referred by both governments to the decision of the emperor of Russia, who has accepted the umpirage.
An attempt has been made with the government of France to regulate, by treaty, the commerce between the two countries, on the principle of reciprocity and equality. By the last communication from the minister plenipotentiary of the United States at Paris, to whom full power had been given, we learn that the negotiation had been commenced there, but serious difficulties having occurred, the French government had resolved to transfer it to the United States, for which purpose the minister plenipotentiary of France had been ordered to repair to this city, and whose arrival might soon be expected. It is hoped that this important interest may be arranged on just conditions and in a manner equally satisfactory to both parties. It is submitted to Congress to decide, until such arrangement is made, how far it may be proper, on the principle of the act of the last session which augmented the tonnage duty on French vessels, to adopt other measures for carrying more completely into effect the policy of that act.
The act referred to, which imposed new tonnage on French vessels, having been in force from and after the first day of July, it has happened that several vessels of that nation, which had been despatched from France before its existence was known, have entered the ports of the United States, and been subject to its operation, without that previous notice which the general spirit of our laws gives to individuals in similar cases. The object of that law having been merely to countervail inequalities which existed to the disadvantage of the United States in their commercial intercourse with France, it is submitted also to the consideration of Congress, whether, in the spirit of amity and conciliation which it is no less the inclination than the policy of the United States to preserve in their intercourse with other powers, it may not be improper to extend relief to the individuals interested in those cases, by exempting from the operation of the law all those vessels which have entered our ports without having had the means of previously knowing the existence of the additional duty.
The contest between Spain and the colonies, according to the most authentic information, is maintained by the latter with improved success. The unfortunate divisions which were known to exist some time since at Buenos Ayres, it is understood, still prevail. In no part of South America has Spain made any impression on the colonies, while in many parts, and particularly in Venezuela and New Grenada, the colonies have gained strength and acquired reputation, both for the management of a war in which they have been successful and for the order of the internal administration. The late change in the government of Spain, by the re-establishment of the constitution of 1812, is an event which promises to be favorable
to the revolution. Under the authority of the Cortes, the Congress of Angostura was invited to open a negotiation for the settlement of differences between the parties, to which it was replied, that they would willingly open the negotiation, provided the acknowledgment of their independence was made its basis, but not otherwise. Of farther proceedings between them we are uninformed. No facts are known to this government to warrant the belief that any of the powers of Europe will take a part in the contest; whence it may be inferred, considering all circumstances which must have weight in producing the result, that an adjustment will finally take place on the basis proposed by the colonies. To promote that result by friendly counsels with other powers, including Spain herself, has been the uniform policy of this government.
In looking to the internal concerns of our country, you will, I am persuaded, derive much satisfaction from a view of the several objects to which, in the discharge of your official duties, your attention will be drawn. Among these, none hold a more important place than the public revenue, from the direct operation of the power by which it is raised on the people, and by its influence in giving effect to every other power of the govern ment. The revenue depends on the resources of the country, and the facility by which the amount required is raised, is a strong proof of the extent of the resources and of the efficiency of the government. A few prominent facts will place this great interest in a just light before you. On the 30th of September, 1815, the funded and floating debt of the United States was estimated at one hundred and nineteen millions six hundred and thirty-five thousand five hundred and fifty-eight dollars. If to this sum be added the amount of five per cent. stock subscribed to the Bank of the United States, the amount of Mississippi stock, and of the stock which was issued subsequently to that date, the balances ascertained to be due to certain states for military services, and to individuals for supplies furnished and services rendered during the late war, the public debt may be estimated as amounting, at that date, and as afterwards liquidated, to one hundred and fifty-eight millions seven hundred and thirteen thousand and forty-nine dollars. On the 30th of September, 1820, it amounted to ninety-one millions one hundred and ninety-three thousand eight hundred and eightythree dollars, having been reduced, in that interval, by payments of sixtysix millions eight hundred and seventy-nine thousand one hundred and sixty-five dollars. During this term the expenses of the government of the United States were likewise defrayed in every branch of the civil, military, and naval establishments; the public edifices in this city have been rebuilt, with considerable additions; extensive fortifications have been commenced and are in a train of execution; permanent arsenals and maga zines have been erected in various parts of the Union; our navy has been considerably augmented, and the ordnance, munitions of war, and stores of the army and navy, which were much exhausted during the war, have been replenished.
By the discharge of so large a portion of the public debt, and the execution of such extensive and important operations, in so short a time, a just estimate may be formed of the great extent of our national resources. The demonstration is the more complete and gratifying, when it is recol lected that the direct tax and excise were repealed soon after the termination of the late war, and that the revenue applied to these purposes has been derived almost wholly from other sources.
The receipts into the treasury, from every source, to the 30th of September last, have amounted to sixteen millions seven hundred and ninety-four thousand one hundred and seven dollars and sixty-six cents; while the public expenditures to the same period amounted to sixteen millions eight hundred and seventy-one thousand five hundred and thirty-four dollars and seventy two cents; leaving in the treasury, on that day, a sum estimated at one million nine hundred and fifty thousand dollars. For the probable receipts of the following year I refer you to the statement which will be transmitted from the treasury.
The sum of three millions of dollars, authorized to be raised by loan by an act of the last session of Congress, has been obtained upon terms advantageous to the government, indicating not only an increased confidence in the faith of the nation, but the existence of a large amount of capital seeking that mode of investment, at a rate of interest not exceeding five per centum per annum.
It is proper to add, that there is now due to the treasury, for the sale of public lands, twenty two millions nine hundred and ninety-six thousand five hundred and forty-five dollars. In bringing this subject to view, I consider it my duty to submit to Congress whether it may not be advisable to extend to the purchasers of these lands, in consideration of the unfavorable change which has occurred since the sales, a reasonable indulgence. It is known that the purchases were made when the price of every article had risen to its greatest height, and that the instalments are becoming due at a period of great depression. It is presumed that some plan may be devised by the wisdom of Congress, compatible with the public interest, which would afford great relief to these purchasers.
Considerable progress has been made, during the present season, in examining the coast and its various bays and other inlets; in the collection of materials and in the construction of fortifications for the defence of the Union, at several of the positions at which it has been decided to erect such works. At Mobile Point and Dauphin Island, and at the Rigolets, leading to lake Pontchartrain, materials to a considerable amount have been collected, and all the necessary preparations made for the commencement of the works. At Old Point Comfort, at the mouth of James river, and at the Rip-Raps, on the opposite shore in the Chesapeake bay, materials to a vast amount have been collected; and at the Old Point some progress has been made in the construction of the fortification, whic is on a very extensive scale. The work at Fort Washington, on this river, will be completed early in next spring, and that on the Peapatch, in the Delaware, in the course of the next season. Fort Diamond, at the Narrows, in the harbor of New York, will be finished this year. The works at Boston, New York, Baltimore, Norfolk, Charleston, and Niagara, have been in part repaired; and the Coast of North Carolina, extending south to cape Fear, has been examined, as have likewise other parts of the coast eastward of Boston. Great exertions have been made to push forward these works with the utmost despatch possible; but when their extent is considered, with the important purposes for which they are intended, the defence of the whole coast, and in consequence, of the whole interior, and that they are to last for ages, it will be manifest that a welldigested plan founded on military principles, connecting the whole together, combining security with economy, could not be prepared without repeated examinations of the most exposed and difficult parts, and that it
would also take considerable time to collect the materials at the several points where they would be required. From all the light that has been shed on this subject, I am satisfied that every favorable anticipation which has been formed of this great undertaking will be verified, and that when completed, it will afford very great if not complete protection to our Atlantic frontier in the event of another war; a protection sufficient to counterbalance, in a single campaign, with an enemy powerful at sea, the expense of all these works, without taking into the estimate the saving of the lives of so many of our citizens, the protection of our towns and other property, or the tendency of such works to prevent war.
Our military positions have been maintained at Belle Point on the Arkansas, at Council Bluff on the Missouri, at St. Peter's on the Missis sippi, and at Green Bay on the upper lakes. Commodious barracks have already been erected at most of these posts, with such works as were necessary for their defence. Progress has also been made in opening communications between them, and in raising supplies at each for the support of the troops by their own labor, particularly those most remote.
With the Indians peace has been preserved, and a progress made in carrying into effect the act of Congress making an appropriation for their civilization, with a prospect of favorable results. As connected equally with both these objects, our trade with those tribes is thought to merit the attention of Congress. In their original state, game is their sustenance and war their occupation, and if they find no employment from civilized powers they destroy each other. Left to themselves, their extirpation is inevitable. By a judicious regulation of our trade with them, we supply their wants, administer to their comforts, and gradually, as the game retires, draw them to us. By maintaining posts far in the interior, we acquire a more thorough and direct control over them, without which it is confidently believed that a complete change in their manners can never be accomplished. By such posts, aided by a proper regulation of our trade with them, and a judicious civil administration over them, to be provided for by law, we shall, it is presumed, be enabled not only to protect our own settlements from their savage incursions, and to preserve peace among the several tribes, but accomplish also the great purpose of their civilization.
Considerable progress has also been made in the construction of ships of war, some of which have been launched in the course of the present year.
Our peace with the powers on the coast of Barbary has been preserved, but we owe it altogether to the presence of our squadron in the Mediterranean. It has been found equally necessary to employ some of our vessels for the protection of our commerce in the Indian sea, the Pacific, and along the Atlantic coast. The interests which we have depending in those quarters, which have been much improved of late, are of great extent and of high importance to the nation, as well as to the parties concerned, and would undoubtedly suffer if such protection was not extended to them. In execution of the law of last session, for the suppression of the slave trade, some of our public ships have also been employed on the coast of Africa, where several captures have already been made of vessels engaged in that disgraceful traffic.
FIFTH ANNUAL MESSAGE.
DECEMBER 3, 1821.
To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States:
THE progress of our affairs since the last session has been such as may justly be claimed and expected under a government deriving all its powers from an enlightened people, and under laws formed by their representatives, on great consideration, for the sole purpose of promoting the welfare and happiness of their constituents. In the execution of those laws, and of the powers vested by the constitution in the executive, unremitted attention has been paid to the great objects to which they extend. In the concerns which are exclusively internal, there is good cause to be satisfied with the result. The laws have had their due operation and effect. In those relating to foreign powers, I am happy to state that peace and amity are preserved with all, by a strict observance on both sides of the rights of each. In matters touching our commercial intercourse, where a difference of opinion has existed as to the conditions on which it should be placed, each party has pursued its own policy, without giving just cause of offence to the other. In this annual communication, especially when it is addressed to a new Congress, the whole scope of our political concerns naturally comes into view, that errors, if such have been committed, may be corrected; that defects which have become manifest may be remedied; and on the other hand, that measures which were adopted on due deliberation, and which experience has shown are just in themselves and essential to the public welfare, should be persevered in and supported. In performing this necessary and very important duty, I shall endeavor to place before you, on its merits, every subject that is thought to be entitled to your particular attention, in as distinct and clear a light as I may be able.
By an act of the 3d of March, 1815, so much of the several acts as imposed higher duties on the tonnage of foreign vessels, and on the manufactures and productions of foreign nations, when imported into the United States in foreign vessels, than when imported in vessels of the United States, were repealed, so far as respected the manufactured productions of the nation to which such vessels belonged, on the condition that the repeal should take effect only in favor of any foreign nation, when the executive should be satisfied that such discriminating duties to the disadvantage of the United States had likewise been repealed by such nation. By this act, a proposition was made to all nations to place our commerce with each on a basis which it was presumed would be acceptable to all. Every nation was allowed to bring its manufactures and productions into our ports, and to take the manufactures and productions of the United States back to their ports, in their own vessels, on the same conditions that they might be transported in vessels of the United States; and in return, it was required that a like accommodation should be granted to the vessels of the United States in the ports of other powers. The articles to be admitted or prohibited on either side, formed no part of the proposed arrangement. Each party would retain the right to admit or prohibit such articles from the other as it thought proper, and on its own conditions.
When the nature of the commerce between the United States and every