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A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents: Polk by Compiled by James D. Richardson

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James K. Polk

March 4, 1845, to March 4, 1849

James K. Polk

JAMES KNOX POLK was born in Mecklenburg County, N.C., November 2, 1795.
He was a son of Samuel Polk, a farmer, whose father, Ezekiel, and his
brother, Colonel Thomas Polk, one of the signers of the Mecklenburg
Declaration of Independence, were sons of Robert Polk (or Pollock), who
was born in Ireland and emigrated to America. His mother was Jane,
daughter of James Knox, a resident of Iredell County, N.C., and a
captain in the War of the Revolution. His father removed to Tennessee in
the autumn of 1806, and settled in the valley of Duck River, a tributary
of the Tennessee, in a section that was erected the following year into
the county of Maury; he died in 1827. James was brought up on the farm;
was inclined to study, and was fond of reading. He was sent to school,
and had succeeded in mastering the English branches when ill health
compelled his removal. Was then placed with a merchant, but, having a
strong dislike to commercial pursuits, soon returned home, and in July,
1813, was given in charge of a private tutor. In 1815 entered the
sophomore class at the University of North Carolina. As a student he was
correct, punctual, and industrious. At his graduation in 1818 he was
officially acknowledged to be the best scholar in both the classics and
mathematics, and delivered the Latin salutatory. In 1847 the university
conferred upon him the degree of LL.D. In 1819 he entered the law office
of Felix Grundy, then at the head of the Tennessee bar. While pursuing
his legal studies he attracted the attention of Andrew Jackson, and an
intimacy was thus begun between the two men. In 1820 Mr. Polk was
admitted to the bar, and established himself at Columbia, the county
seat of Maury County. He attained immediate success, his career at the
bar only ending with his election to the governorship of Tennessee in
1839. Brought up as a Jeffersonian and early taking an interest in
politics, he was frequently heard in public as an exponent of the views
of his party. His style of oratory was so popular that his services soon
came to be in great demand, and he was not long in earning the title of
the "Napoleon of the Stump." His first public employment was that of
principal clerk of the senate of the State of Tennessee. In 1823 was
elected a member of that body. In January, 1824, he married Sarah,
daughter of Joel Childress, a merchant of Rutherford County, Tenn. In
August, 1825, he was elected to Congress from the Duck River district,
and reelected at every succeeding election till 1839, when he withdrew
from the contest to become a candidate for governor. With one or two
exceptions, he was the youngest member of the Nineteenth Congress. He
was prominently connected with every leading question, and upon all he
struck what proved to be the keynote for the action of his party. His
maiden speech was in defense of the proposed amendment to the
Constitution giving the choice of the President and Vice-President
directly to the people. It at once placed him in the front rank of
Congressional debaters. He opposed the appropriation for the Panama
mission, asked for by President Adams, contending that such action would
tend to involve the United States in a war with Spain and establish an
unfortunate precedent. In December, 1827, he was placed on the Committee
on Foreign Affairs, and afterwards was also appointed chairman of the
select committee to which was referred that portion of President Adams's
message calling attention to the probable accumulation of a surplus in
the Treasury after the anticipated extinguishment of the national debt.
As the head of the latter committee he made a report denying the
constitutional power of Congress to collect from the people for
distribution a surplus beyond the wants of the Government, and
maintaining that the revenue should be reduced to the requirements of
the public service. During the whole period of President Jackson's
Administration he was one of its leading supporters, and at times its
chief reliance. Early in 1833, as a member of the Ways and Means
Committee, he made a minority report unfavorable to the Bank of the
United States. During the entire contest between the bank and President
Jackson, caused by the removal of the deposits in October, 1833, Mr.
Polk, as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, supported the
Executive. He was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives in
December, 1835, and held that office till 1839. It was his fortune to
preside over the House at a period when party feelings were excited to
an unusual degree, and notwithstanding the fact that during the first
session more appeals were taken from his decisions than were ever known
before, he was uniformly sustained by the House, and frequently by
leading members of the Whig party. He gave to the Administration of
Martin Van Buren the same unhesitating support he had accorded to that
of President Jackson. On leaving Congress he became the candidate of the
Democrats of Tennessee for governor, and was elected by over 2,500
majority. He was an unsuccessful candidate for governor again in 1841
and 1843. In 1839 he was nominated by the legislatures of Tennessee and
other States for Vice-President of the United States, but Richard M.
Johnson, of Kentucky, was the choice of the great body of the Democratic
party, and was accordingly nominated. On May 27, 1844, Mr. Polk was
nominated for President of the United States by the national Democratic
convention at Baltimore, and on November 12 was elected, receiving about
40,000 majority on the popular vote, and 170 electoral votes to 105 that
were cast for Henry Clay. He was inaugurated March 4, 1845. Among the
important events of his Administration were the establishment of the
United States Naval Academy; the consummation of the annexation of
Texas; the admission of Texas, Iowa, and Wisconsin as States; the war
with Mexico, resulting in a treaty of peace, by which the United States
acquired New Mexico and Upper California; the treaty with Great Britain
settling the Oregon boundary; the establishment of the "warehouse
system;" the reenactment of the independent-treasury system; the passage
of the act establishing the Smithsonian Institution; the treaty with New
Granada, the thirty-fifth article of which secured for citizens of the
United States the right of way across the Isthmus of Panama; and the
creation of the Department of the Interior. He declined to become a
candidate for reelection, and at the conclusion of his term retired to
his home in Nashville. He died June 15, 1849, and was buried at Polk
Place, in Nashville. September 19, 1893, the remains were removed by the
State to Capitol Square.


FELLOW-CITIZENS: Without solicitation on my part, I have been chosen by
the free and voluntary suffrages of my countrymen to the most honorable
and most responsible office on earth. I am deeply impressed with
gratitude for the confidence reposed in me. Honored with this
distinguished consideration at an earlier period of life than any of my
fxpredecessors, I can not disguise the diffidence with which I am about
to enter on the discharge of my official duties.

If the more aged and experienced men who have filled the office of
President of the United States even in the infancy of the Republic
distrusted their ability to discharge the duties of that exalted
station, what ought not to be the apprehensions of one so much younger
and less endowed now that our domain extends from ocean to ocean, that
our people have so greatly increased in numbers, and at a time when so
great diversity of opinion prevails in regard to the principles and
policy which should characterize the administration of our Government?
Well may the boldest fear and the wisest tremble when incurring
responsibilities on which may depend our country's peace and prosperity,
and in some degree the hopes and happiness of the whole human family.

In assuming responsibilities so vast I fervently invoke the aid of that
Almighty Ruler of the Universe in whose hands are the destinies of
nations and of men to guard this Heaven-favored land against the
mischiefs which without His guidance might arise from an unwise public
policy. With a firm reliance upon the wisdom of Omnipotence to sustain
and direct me in the path of duty which I am appointed to pursue, I
stand in the presence of this assembled multitude of my countrymen to
take upon myself the solemn obligation "to the best of my ability to
preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."

A concise enumeration of the principles which will guide me in the
administrative policy of the Government is not only in accordance with
the examples set me by all my predecessors, but is eminently befitting
the occasion.

The Constitution itself, plainly written as it is, the safeguard of our
federative compact, the offspring of concession and compromise, binding
together in the bonds of peace and union this great and increasing
family of free and independent States, will be the chart by which I
shall be directed.

It will be my first care to administer the Government in the true spirit
of that instrument, and to assume no powers not expressly granted or
clearly implied in its terms. The Government of the United States is one
of delegated and limited powers, and it is by a strict adherence to the
clearly granted powers and by abstaining from the exercise of doubtful
or unauthorized implied powers that we have the only sure guaranty
against the recurrence of those unfortunate collisions between the
Federal and State authorities which have occasionally so much disturbed
the harmony of our system and even threatened the perpetuity of our
glorious Union.

"To the States, respectively, or to the people" have been reserved "the
powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution nor
prohibited by it to the States." Each State is a complete sovereignty
within the sphere of its reserved powers. The Government of the Union,
acting within the sphere of its delegated authority, is also a complete
sovereignty. While the General Government should abstain from the
exercise of authority not clearly delegated to it, the States should be
equally careful that in the maintenance of their rights they do not
overstep the limits of powers reserved to them. One of the most
distinguished of my predecessors attached deserved importance to "the
support of the State governments in all their rights, as the most
competent administration for our domestic concerns and the surest
bulwark against antirepublican tendencies," and to the "preservation of
the General Government in its whole constitutional vigor, as the sheet
anchor of our peace at home and safety abroad."

To the Government of the United States has been intrusted the exclusive
management of our foreign affairs. Beyond that it wields a few general
enumerated powers. It does not force reform on the States. It leaves
individuals, over whom it casts its protecting influence, entirely free
to improve their own condition by the legitimate exercise of all their
mental and physical powers. It is a common protector of each and all the
States; of every man who lives upon our soil, whether of native or
foreign birth; of every religious sect, in their worship of the Almighty
according to the dictates of their own conscience; of every shade of
opinion, and the most free inquiry; of every art, trade, and occupation
consistent with the laws of the States. And we rejoice in the general
happiness, prosperity, and advancement of our country, which have been
the offspring of freedom, and not of power.

This most admirable and wisest system of well-regulated self-government
among men ever devised by human minds has been tested by its successful
operation for more than half a century, and if preserved from the
usurpations of the Federal Government on the one hand and the exercise
by the States of powers not reserved to them on the other, will, I
fervently hope and believe, endure for ages to come and dispense the
blessings of civil and religious liberty to distant generations. To
effect objects so dear to every patriot I shall devote myself with
anxious solicitude. It will be my desire to guard against that most
fruitful source of danger to the harmonious action of our system which
consists in substituting the mere discretion and caprice of the
Executive or of majorities in the legislative department of the
Government for powers which have been withheld from the Federal
Government by the Constitution. By the theory of our Government
majorities rule, but this right is not an arbitrary or unlimited one. It
is a right to be exercised in subordination to the Constitution and in
conformity to it. One great object of the Constitution was to restrain
majorities from oppressing minorities or encroaching upon their just
rights. Minorities have a right to appeal to the Constitution as a
shield against such oppression.

That the blessings of liberty which our Constitution secures may be
enjoyed alike by minorities and majorities, the Executive has been
wisely invested with a qualified veto upon the acts of the Legislature.
It is a negative power, and is conservative in its character. It arrests
for the time hasty, inconsiderate, or unconstitutional legislation,
invites reconsideration, and transfers questions at issue between the
legislative and executive departments to the tribunal of the people.
Like all other powers, it is subject to be abused. When judiciously and
properly exercised, the Constitution itself may be saved from infraction
and the rights of all preserved and protected.

The inestimable value of our Federal Union is felt and acknowledged by
all. By this system of united and confederated States our people are
permitted collectively and individually to seek their own happiness in
their own way, and the consequences have been most auspicious. Since the
Union was formed the number of the States has increased from thirteen to
twenty-eight; two of these have taken their position as members of the
Confederacy within the last week. Our population has increased from
three to twenty millions. New communities and States are seeking
protection under its aegis, and multitudes from the Old World are
flocking to our shores to participate in its blessings. Beneath its
benign sway peace and prosperity prevail. Freed from the burdens and
miseries of war, our trade and intercourse have extended throughout the
world. Mind, no longer tasked in devising means to accomplish or resist
schemes of ambition, usurpation, or conquest, is devoting itself to
man's true interests in developing his faculties and powers and the
capacity of nature to minister to his enjoyments. Genius is free to
announce its inventions and discoveries, and the hand is free to
accomplish whatever the head conceives not incompatible with the rights
of a fellow-being. All distinctions of birth or of rank have been
abolished. All citizens, whether native or adopted, are placed upon
terms of precise equality. All are entitled to equal rights and equal
protection. No union exists between church and state, and perfect
freedom of opinion is guaranteed to all sects and creeds.

These are some of the blessings secured to our happy land by our Federal
Union. To perpetuate them it is our sacred duty to preserve it. Who
shall assign limits to the achievements of free minds and free hands
under the protection of this glorious Union? No treason to mankind since
the organization of society would be equal in atrocity to that of him
who would lift his hand to destroy it. He would overthrow the noblest
structure of human wisdom, which protects himself and his fellow-man. He
would stop the progress of free government and involve his country
either in anarchy or despotism. He would extinguish the fire of liberty,
which warms and animates the hearts of happy millions and invites all
the nations of the earth to imitate our example. If he say that error
and wrong are committed in the administration of the Government, let him
remember that nothing human can be perfect, and that under no other
system of government revealed by Heaven or devised by man has reason
been allowed so free and broad a scope to combat error. Has the sword of
despots proved to be a safer or surer instrument of reform in government
than enlightened reason? Does he expect to find among the ruins of this
Union a happier abode for our swarming millions than they now have under
it? Every lover of his country must shudder at the thought of the
possibility of its dissolution, and will be ready to adopt the patriotic
sentiment, "Our Federal Union--it must be preserved." To preserve it the
compromises which alone enabled our fathers to form a common
constitution for the government and protection of so many States and
distinct communities, of such diversified habits, interests, and
domestic institutions, must be sacredly and religiously observed. Any
attempt to disturb or destroy these compromises, being terms of the
compact of union, can lead to none other than the most ruinous and
disastrous consequences.

It is a source of deep regret that in some sections of our country
misguided persons have occasionally indulged in schemes and agitations
whose object is the destruction of domestic institutions existing in
other sections--institutions which existed at the adoption of the
Constitution and were recognized and protected by it. All must see that
if it were possible for them to be successful in attaining their object
the dissolution of the Union and the consequent destruction of our happy
form of government must speedily follow.

I am happy to believe that at every period of our existence as a nation
there has existed, and continues to exist, among the great mass of our
people a devotion to the Union of the States which will shield and
protect it against the moral treason of any who would seriously
contemplate its destruction. To secure a continuance of that devotion
the compromises of the Constitution must not only be preserved, but
sectional jealousies and heartburnings must be discountenanced, and all
should remember that they are members of the same political family,
having a common destiny. To increase the attachment of our people to the
Union, our laws should be just. Any policy which shall tend to favor
monopolies or the peculiar interests of sections or classes must operate
to the prejudice of the interests of their fellow-citizens, and should
be avoided. If the compromises of the Constitution be preserved, if
sectional jealousies and heartburnings be discountenanced, if our laws
be just and the Government be practically administered strictly within
the limits of power prescribed to it, we may discard all apprehensions
for the safety of the Union.

With these views of the nature, character, and objects of the Government
and the value of the Union, I shall steadily oppose the creation of
those institutions and systems which in their nature tend to pervert it
from its legitimate purposes and make it the instrument of sections,
classes, and individuals. We need no national banks or other extraneous
institutions planted around the Government to control or strengthen it
in opposition to the will of its authors. Experience has taught us how
unnecessary they are as auxiliaries of the public authorities--how
impotent for good and how powerful for mischief.

Ours was intended to be a plain and frugal government, and I shall
regard it to be my duty to recommend to Congress and, as far as the
Executive is concerned, to enforce by all the means within my power the
strictest economy in the expenditure of the public money which may be
compatible with the public interests.

A national debt has become almost an institution of European monarchies.
It is viewed in some of them as an essential prop to existing
governments. Melancholy is the condition of that people whose government
can be sustained only by a system which periodically transfers large
amounts from the labor of the many to the coffers of the few. Such a
system is incompatible with the ends for which our republican Government
was instituted. Under a wise policy the debts contracted in our
Revolution and during the War of 1812 have been happily extinguished. By
a judicious application of the revenues not required for other necessary
purposes, it is not doubted that the debt which has grown out of the
circumstances of the last few years may be speedily paid off.

I congratulate my fellow-citizens on the entire restoration of the
credit of the General Government of the Union and that of many of the
States. Happy would it be for the indebted States if they were freed
from their liabilities, many of which were incautiously contracted.
Although the Government of the Union is neither in a legal nor a moral
sense bound for the debts of the States, and it would be a violation of
our compact of union to assume them, yet we can not but feel a deep
interest in seeing all the States meet their public liabilities and pay
off their just debts at the earliest practicable period. That they will
do so as soon as it can be done without imposing too heavy burdens on
their citizens there is no reason to doubt. The sound moral and
honorable feeling of the people of the indebted States can not be
questioned, and we are happy to perceive a settled disposition on their
part, as their ability returns after a season of unexampled pecuniary
embarrassment, to pay off all just demands and to acquiesce in any
reasonable measures to accomplish that object.

One of the difficulties which we have had to encounter in the practical
administration of the Government consists in the adjustment of our
revenue laws and the levy of the taxes necessary for the support of
Government. In the general proposition that no more money shall be
collected than the necessities of an economical administration shall
require all parties seem to acquiesce. Nor does there seem to be any
material difference of opinion as to the absence of right in the
Government to tax one section of country, or one class of citizens, or
one occupation, for the mere profit of another. "Justice and sound
policy forbid the Federal Government to foster one branch of industry to
the detriment of another, or to cherish the interests of one portion to
the injury of another portion of our common country." I have heretofore
declared to my fellow-citizens that "in my judgment it is the duty of
the Government to extend, as far as it may be practicable to do so, by
its revenue laws and all other means within its power, fair and just
protection to all the great interests of the whole Union, embracing
agriculture, manufactures, the mechanic arts, commerce, and navigation."
I have also declared my opinion to be "in favor of a tariff for
revenue," and that "in adjusting the details of such a tariff I have
sanctioned such moderate discriminating duties as would produce the
amount of revenue needed and at the same time afford reasonable
incidental protection to our home industry," and that I was "opposed to
a tariff for protection merely, and not for revenue."

The power "to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises" was
an indispensable one to be conferred on the Federal Government, which
without it would possess no means of providing for its own support.
In executing this power by levying a tariff of duties for the support
of Government, the raising of _revenue_ should be the _object_ and
_protection_ the _incident_. To reverse this principle and make
_protection_ the _object_ and _revenue_ the _incident_ would be to
inflict manifest injustice upon all other than the protected interests.
In levying duties for revenue it is doubtless proper to make such
discriminations within the _revenue principle_ as will afford incidental
protection to our home interests. Within the revenue limit there is a
discretion to discriminate; beyond that limit the rightful exercise
of the power is not conceded. The incidental protection afforded to
our home interests by discriminations within the revenue range it is
believed will be ample. In making discriminations all our home interests
should as far as practicable be equally protected. The largest portion
of our people are agriculturists. Others are employed in manufactures,
commerce, navigation, and the mechanic arts. They are all engaged
in their respective pursuits, and their joint labors constitute the
national or home industry. To tax one branch of this home industry for
the benefit of another would be unjust. No one of these interests can
rightfully claim an advantage over the others, or to be enriched by
impoverishing the others. All are equally entitled to the fostering care
and protection of the Government. In exercising a sound discretion in
levying discriminating duties within the limit prescribed, care should
be taken that it be done in a manner not to benefit the wealthy few at
the expense of the toiling millions by taxing _lowest_ the luxuries of
life, or articles of superior quality and high price, which can only be
consumed by the wealthy, and _highest_ the necessaries of life, or
articles of coarse quality and low price, which the poor and great mass
of our people must consume. The burdens of government should as far as
practicable be distributed justly and equally among all classes of our
population. These general views, long entertained on this subject,
I have deemed it proper to reiterate. It is a subject upon which
conflicting interests of sections and occupations are supposed to exist,
and a spirit of mutual concession and compromise in adjusting its
details should be cherished by every part of our widespread country as
the only means of preserving harmony and a cheerful acquiescence of all
in the operation of our revenue laws. Our patriotic citizens in every
part of the Union will readily submit to the payment of such taxes as
shall be needed for the support of their Government, whether in peace or
in war, if they are so levied as to distribute the burdens as equally as
possible among them.

The Republic of Texas has made known her desire to come into our Union,
to form a part of our Confederacy and enjoy with us the blessings of
liberty secured and guaranteed by our Constitution. Texas was once a
part of our country--was unwisely ceded away to a foreign power--is now
independent, and possesses an undoubted right to dispose of a part or
the whole of her territory and to merge her sovereignty as a separate
and independent state in ours. I congratulate my country that by an act
of the late Congress of the United States the assent of this Government
has been given to the reunion, and it only remains for the two countries
to agree upon the terms to consummate an object so important to both.

I regard the question of annexation as belonging exclusively to the
United States and Texas. They are independent powers competent to
contract, and foreign nations have no right to interfere with them or
to take exceptions to their reunion. Foreign powers do not seem to
appreciate the true character of our Government. Our Union is a
confederation of independent States, whose policy is peace with each
other and all the world. To enlarge its limits is to extend the
dominions of peace over additional territories and increasing millions.
The world has nothing to fear from military ambition in our Government.
While the Chief Magistrate and the popular branch of Congress are
elected for short terms by the suffrages of those millions who must
in their own persons bear all the burdens and miseries of war, our
Government can not be otherwise than pacific. Foreign powers should
therefore look on the annexation of Texas to the United States not as
the conquest of a nation seeking to extend her dominions by arms and
violence, but as the peaceful acquisition of a territory once her own,
by adding another member to our confederation, with the consent of that
member, thereby diminishing the chances of war and opening to them new
and ever-increasing markets for their products.

To Texas the reunion is important, because the strong protecting arm of
our Government would be extended over her, and the vast resources of her
fertile soil and genial climate would be speedily developed, while the
safety of New Orleans and of our whole southwestern frontier against
hostile aggression, as well as the interests of the whole Union, would
be promoted by it.

In the earlier stages of our national existence the opinion prevailed
with some that our system of confederated States could not operate
successfully over an extended territory, and serious objections have at
different times been made to the enlargement of our boundaries. These
objections were earnestly urged when we acquired Louisiana. Experience
has shown that they were not well founded. The title of numerous Indian
tribes to vast tracts of country has been extinguished; new States have
been admitted into the Union; new Territories have been created and
our jurisdiction and laws extended over them. As our population has
expanded, the Union has been cemented and strengthened. As our
boundaries have been enlarged and our agricultural population has
been spread over a large surface, our federative system has acquired
additional strength and security. It may well be doubted whether it
would not be in greater danger of overthrow if our present population
were confined to the comparatively narrow limits of the original
thirteen States than it is now that they are sparsely settled over a
more expanded territory. It is confidently believed that our system may
be safely extended to the utmost bounds of our territorial limits, and
that as it shall be extended the bonds of our Union, so far from being
weakened, will become stronger.

None can fail to see the danger to our safety and future peace if Texas
remains an independent state or becomes an ally or dependency of some
foreign nation more powerful than herself. Is there one among our
citizens who would not prefer perpetual peace with Texas to occasional
wars, which so often occur between bordering independent nations? Is
there one who would not prefer free intercourse with her to high duties
on all our products and manufactures which enter her ports or cross
her frontiers? Is there one who would not prefer an unrestricted
communication with her citizens to the frontier obstructions which must
occur if she remains out of the Union? Whatever is good or evil in the
local institutions of Texas will remain her own whether annexed to the
United States or not. None of the present States will be responsible for
them any more than they are for the local institutions of each other.
They have confederated together for certain specified objects. Upon the
same principle that they would refuse to form a perpetual union with
Texas because of her local institutions our forefathers would have been
prevented from forming our present Union. Perceiving no valid objection
to the measure and many reasons for its adoption vitally affecting the
peace, the safety, and the prosperity of both countries, I shall on the
broad principle which formed the basis and produced the adoption of our
Constitution, and not in any narrow spirit of sectional policy, endeavor
by all constitutional, honorable, and appropriate means to consummate
the expressed will of the people and Government of the United States by
the reannexation of Texas to our Union at the earliest practicable

Nor will it become in a less degree my duty to assert and maintain by
all constitutional means the right of the United States to that portion
of our territory which lies beyond the Rocky Mountains. Our title to the
country of the Oregon is "clear and unquestionable," and already are our
people preparing to perfect that title by occupying it with their wives
and children. But eighty years ago our population was confined on the
west by the ridge of the Alleghanies. Within that period--within the
lifetime, I might say, of some of my hearers--our people, increasing to
many millions, have filled the eastern valley of the Mississippi,
adventurously ascended the Missouri to its headsprings, and are already
engaged in establishing the blessings of self-government in valleys of
which the rivers flow to the Pacific. The world beholds the peaceful
triumphs of the industry of our emigrants. To us belongs the duty of
protecting them adequately wherever they may be upon our soil. The
jurisdiction of our laws and the benefits of our republican institutions
should be extended over them in the distant regions which they have
selected for their homes. The increasing facilities of intercourse will
easily bring the States, of which the formation in that part of our
territory can not be long delayed, within the sphere of our federative
Union. In the meantime every obligation imposed by treaty or
conventional stipulations should be sacredly respected.

In the management of our foreign relations it will be my aim to observe
a careful respect for the rights of other nations, while our own will be
the subject of constant watchfulness. Equal and exact justice should
characterize all our intercourse with foreign countries. All alliances
having a tendency to jeopard the welfare and honor of our country or
sacrifice any one of the national interests will be studiously avoided,
and yet no opportunity will be lost to cultivate a favorable
understanding with foreign governments by which our navigation and
commerce may be extended and the ample products of our fertile soil, as
well as the manufactures of our skillful artisans, find a ready market
and remunerating prices in foreign countries.

In taking "care that the laws be faithfully executed," a strict
performance of duty will be exacted from all public officers. From
those officers, especially, who are charged with the collection and
disbursement of the public revenue will prompt and rigid accountability
be required. Any culpable failure or delay on their part to account for
the moneys intrusted to them at the times and in the manner required by
law will in every instance terminate the official connection of such
defaulting officer with the Government.

Although in our country the Chief Magistrate must almost of necessity be
chosen by a party and stand pledged to its principles and measures, yet
in his official action he should not be the President of a part only,
but of the whole people of the United States. While he executes the laws
with an impartial hand, shrinks from no proper responsibility, and
faithfully carries out in the executive department of the Government the
principles and policy of those who have chosen him, he should not be
unmindful that our fellow-citizens who have differed with him in opinion
are entitled to the full and free exercise of their opinions and
judgments, and that the rights of all are entitled to respect and

Confidently relying upon the aid and assistance of the coordinate
departments of the Government in conducting our public affairs, I enter
upon the discharge of the high duties which have been assigned me by the
people, again humbly supplicating that Divine Being who has watched over
and protected our beloved country from its infancy to the present hour
to continue His gracious benedictions upon us, that we may continue to
be a prosperous and happy people.

MARCH 4, 1845.


WASHINGTON, _March 15, _1845.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I have received and maturely considered the two resolutions adopted by
the Senate in executive session on the 12th instant, the first
requesting the President to communicate information to the Senate (in
confidence) of any steps which have been taken, if any were taken, by
the late President in execution of the resolution of Congress entitled
"A joint resolution for the annexation of Texas to the United States,"
and if any such steps have been taken, then to inform the Senate whether
anything has been done by him to counteract, suspend, or reverse the
action of the late President in the premises; and the second requesting
the President "to inform the Senate what communications have been made
by the Mexican minister in consequence of the proceedings of Congress
and the Executive in relation to Texas."

With the highest respect for the Senate and a sincere desire to furnish
all the information requested by the first resolution, I yet entertain
strong apprehensions lest such a communication might delay and
ultimately endanger the success of the great measure which Congress so
earnestly sought to accomplish by the passage of the "joint resolution
for the annexation of Texas to the United States." The initiatory
proceedings which have been adopted by the Executive to give effect to
this resolution can not, therefore, in my judgment, at this time and
under existing circumstances, be communicated without injury to the
public interest.

In conformity with the second resolution, I herewith transmit to the
Senate the copy of a note, dated on the 6th instant, addressed by
General Almonte, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of the
Mexican Republic, to the Hon. John C. Calhoun, late Secretary of State,
which is the only communication that has been made by the Mexican
minister to the Department of State since the passage of the joint
resolution of Congress for the annexation of Texas; and I also transmit
a copy of the answer of the Secretary of State to this note of the
Mexican minister.



WASHINGTON CITY, _June 16, 1845_.

Andrew Jackson is no more. He departed this life on Sunday, the 8th
instant, full of days and full of honors. His country deplores his loss,
and will ever cherish his memory. Whilst a nation mourns it is proper
that business should be suspended, at least for one day, in the
Executive Departments, as a tribute of respect to the illustrious dead.

I accordingly direct that the Departments of State, the Treasury, War,
the Navy, the Post-Office, the office of the Attorney-General, and the
Executive Mansion be instantly put into mourning, and that they be
closed during the whole day to-morrow.





_Washington, June 16, 1845_.

The following general order of the President, received through the War
Department, announces to the Army the death of the illustrious
ex-President, General Andrew Jackson:


WASHINGTON, _June 16, 1845_.

The President of the United States with heartfelt sorrow announces to
the Army, the Navy, and the Marine Corps the death of Andrew Jackson. On
the evening of Sunday, the 8th day of June, about 6 o'clock, he resigned
his spirit to his Heavenly Father. The nation, while it learns with
grief the death of its most illustrious citizen, finds solace in
contemplating his venerable character and services. The Valley of the
Mississippi beheld in him the bravest and wisest and most fortunate of
its defenders; the country raised him to the highest trusts in military
and in civil life with a confidence that never abated and an affection
that followed him in undiminished vigor to retirement, watched over his
latest hours, and pays its tribute at his grave. Wherever his lot was
cast he appeared among those around him first in natural endowments and
resources, not less than first in authority and station. The power of
his mind impressed itself on the policy of his country, and still lives,
and will live forever in the memory of its people. Child of a forest
region and a settler of the wilderness, his was a genius which, as it
came to the guidance of affairs, instinctively attached itself to
general principles, and inspired by the truth which his own heart
revealed to him in singleness and simplicity, he found always a response
in the breast of his countrymen. Crowned with glory in war, in his whole
career as a statesman he showed himself the friend and lover of peace.
With an American heart, whose throbs were all for republican freedom and
his native land, he yet longed to promote the widest intercourse and
most intimate commerce between the many nations of mankind. He was the
servant of humanity. Of a vehement will, he was patient in council,
deliberating long, hearing all things, yet in the moment of action
deciding with rapidity. Of a noble nature and incapable of disguise, his
thoughts lay open to all around him and won their confidence by his
ingenuous frankness. His judgment was of that solidity that he ever
tempered vigor with prudence. The flushings of anger could never cloud
his faculties, but rather kindled and lighted them up, quickening their
energy without disturbing their balance. In war his eye at a glance
discerned his plans with unerring sagacity; in peace he proposed
measures with an instinctive wisdom of which the inspirations were
prophecy. In discipline stern, in a just resolution inflexible, he was
full of the gentlest affections, ever ready to solace the distressed and
to relieve the needy, faithful to his friends, fervid for his country.
Indifferent to other rewards, he aspired throughout life to an honorable
fame, and so loved his fellow-men that he longed to dwell in their
affectionate remembrance. Heaven gave him length of days and he filled
them with deeds of greatness. He was always happy--happy in his youth,
which shared the achievement of our national independence; happy in his
after years, which beheld the Valley of the West cover itself with the
glory of free and ever-increasing States; happy in his age, which saw
the people multiply from two to twenty millions and freedom and union
make their pathway from the Atlantic to the Pacific; thrice happy in
death, for while he believed the liberties of his country imperishable
and was cheered by visions of its constant advancement, he departed from
this life in a full hope of a blessed immortality through the merits and
atonement of the Redeemer.

Officers of the Army, the Navy, and the Marine Corps will wear crape on
the left arm and on their swords and the colors of the several regiments
will be put in mourning for the period of six months. At the naval
stations and the public vessels in commission the flags will be worn at
half-mast for one week, and on the day after this order is received
twenty-one minute guns will be fired, beginning at 12 o'clock.

At each military station the day after the reception of this order the
national flag will be displayed at half-staff from sunrise to sunset,
thirteen guns will be fired at daybreak, half-hour guns during the day,
and at the close of the day a general salute. The troops will be paraded
at 10 o'clock and this order read to them, on which the labors of the
day will cease.

Let the virtues of the illustrious dead retain their influence, and when
energy and courage are called to trial emulate his example.

_Acting Secretary of War, and Secretary of the Navy_.

By order:


WASHINGTON, _December 2, 1845_.

_Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives_:

It is to me a source of unaffected satisfaction to meet the
representatives of the States and the people in Congress assembled, as
it will be to receive the aid of their combined wisdom in the
administration of public affairs. In performing for the first time the
duty imposed on me by the Constitution of giving to you information of
the state of the Union and recommending to your consideration such
measures as in my judgment are necessary and expedient, I am happy that
I can congratulate you on the continued prosperity of our country. Under
the blessings of Divine Providence and the benign influence of our free
institutions, it stands before the world a spectacle of national

With our unexampled advancement in all the elements of national
greatness, the affection of the people is confirmed for the Union of the
States and for the doctrines of popular liberty which lie at the
foundation of our Government.

It becomes us in humility to make our devout acknowledgments to the
Supreme Ruler of the Universe for the inestimable civil and religious
blessings with which we are favored.

In calling the attention of Congress to our relations with foreign
powers, I am gratified to be able to state that though with some of them
there have existed since your last session serious causes of irritation
and misunderstanding, yet no actual hostilities have taken place.
Adopting the maxim in the conduct of our foreign affairs "to ask nothing
that is not right and submit to nothing that is wrong," it has been my
anxious desire to preserve peace with all nations, but at the same time
to be prepared to resist aggression and maintain all our just rights.

In pursuance of the joint resolution of Congress "for annexing Texas to
the United States," my predecessor, on the 3d day of March, 1845,
elected to submit the first and second sections of that resolution to
the Republic of Texas as an overture on the part of the United States
for her admission as a State into our Union. This election I approved,
and accordingly the charge d'affaires of the United States in Texas,
under instructions of the 10th of March, 1845, presented these sections
of the resolution for the acceptance of that Republic. The executive
government, the Congress, and the people of Texas in convention have
successively complied with all the terms and conditions of the joint
resolution. A constitution for the government of the State of Texas,
formed by a convention of deputies, is herewith laid before Congress. It
is well known, also, that the people of Texas at the polls have accepted
the terms of annexation and ratified the constitution. I communicate to
Congress the correspondence between the Secretary of State and our
charge d'affaires in Texas, and also the correspondence of the latter
with the authorities of Texas, together with the official documents
transmitted by him to his own Government. The terms of annexation which
were offered by the United States having been accepted by Texas, the
public faith of both parties is solemnly pledged to the compact of their
union. Nothing remains to consummate the event but the passage of an act
by Congress to admit the State of Texas into the Union upon an equal
footing with the original States. Strong reasons exist why this should
be done at an early period of the session. It will be observed that by
the constitution of Texas the existing government is only continued
temporarily till Congress can act, and that the third Monday of the
present month is the day appointed for holding the first general
election. On that day a governor, a lieutenant-governor, and both
branches of the legislature will be chosen by the people. The President
of Texas is required, immediately after the receipt of official
information that the new State has been admitted into our Union by
Congress, to convene the legislature, and upon its meeting the existing
government will be superseded and the State government organized.
Questions deeply interesting to Texas, in common with the other States,
the extension of our revenue laws and judicial system over her people
and territory, as well as measures of a local character, will claim the
early attention of Congress, and therefore upon every principle of
republican government she ought to be represented in that body without
unnecessary delay. I can not too earnestly recommend prompt action on
this important subject. As soon as the act to admit Texas as a State
shall be passed the union of the two Republics will be consummated by
their own voluntary consent.

This accession to our territory has been a bloodless achievement. No arm
of force has been raised to produce the result. The sword has had no
part in the victory. We have not sought to extend our territorial
possessions by conquest, or our republican institutions over a reluctant
people. It was the deliberate homage of each people to the great
principle of our federative union. If we consider the extent of
territory involved in the annexation, its prospective influence on
America, the means by which it has been accomplished, springing purely
from the choice of the people themselves to share the blessings of our
union, the history of the world may be challenged to furnish a parallel.
The jurisdiction of the United States, which at the formation of the
Federal Constitution was bounded by the St. Marys on the Atlantic, has
passed the capes of Florida and been peacefully extended to the Del
Norte. In contemplating the grandeur of this event it is not to be
forgotten that the result was achieved in despite of the diplomatic
interference of European monarchies. Even France, the country which had
been our ancient ally, the country which has a common interest with us
in maintaining the freedom of the seas, the country which, by the
cession of Louisiana, first opened to us access to the Gulf of Mexico,
the country with which we have been every year drawing more and more
closely the bonds of successful commerce, most unexpectedly, and to our
unfeigned regret, took part in an effort to prevent annexation and to
impose on Texas, as a condition of the recognition of her independence
by Mexico, that she would never join herself to the United States. We
may rejoice that the tranquil and pervading influence of the American
principle of self-government was sufficient to defeat the purposes of
British and French interference, and that the almost unanimous voice of
the people of Texas has given to that interference a peaceful and
effective rebuke. From this example European Governments may learn how
vain diplomatic arts and intrigues must ever prove upon this continent
against that system of self-government which seems natural to our soil,
and which will ever resist foreign interference.

Toward Texas I do not doubt that a liberal and generous spirit will
actuate Congress in all that concerns her interests and prosperity, and
that she will never have cause to regret that she has united her "lone
star" to our glorious constellation.

I regret to inform you that our relations with Mexico since your last
session have not been of the amicable character which it is our desire
to cultivate with all foreign nations. On the 6th day of March last the
Mexican envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to the United
States made a formal protest in the name of his Government against the
joint resolution passed by Congress "for the annexation of Texas to the
United States," which he chose to regard as a violation of the rights of
Mexico, and in consequence of it he demanded his passports. He was
informed that the Government of the United States did not consider this
joint resolution as a violation of any of the rights of Mexico, or that
it afforded any just cause of offense to his Government; that the
Republic of Texas was an independent power, owing no allegiance to
Mexico and constituting no part of her territory or rightful sovereignty
and jurisdiction. He was also assured that it was the sincere desire of
this Government to maintain with that of Mexico relations of peace and
good understanding. That functionary, however, notwithstanding these
representations and assurances, abruptly terminated his mission and
shortly afterwards left the country. Our envoy extraordinary and
minister plenipotentiary to Mexico was refused all official intercourse
with that Government, and, after remaining several months, by the
permission of his own Government he returned to the United States. Thus,
by the acts of Mexico, all diplomatic intercourse between the two
countries was suspended.

Since that time Mexico has until recently occupied an attitude of
hostility toward the United States--has been marshaling and organizing
armies, issuing proclamations, and avowing the intention to make war on
the United States, either by an open declaration or by invading Texas.
Both the Congress and convention of the people of Texas invited this
Government to send an army into that territory to protect and defend
them against the menaced attack. The moment the terms of annexation
offered by the United States were accepted by Texas the latter became so
far a part of our own country as to make it our duty to afford such
protection and defense. I therefore deemed it proper, as a precautionary
measure, to order a strong squadron to the coasts of Mexico and to
concentrate an efficient military force on the western frontier of
Texas. Our Army was ordered to take position in the country between the
Nueces and the Del Norte, and to repel any invasion of the Texan
territory which might be attempted by the Mexican forces. Our squadron
in the Gulf was ordered to cooperate with the Army. But though our Army
and Navy were placed in a position to defend our own and the rights of
Texas, they were ordered to commit no act of hostility against Mexico
unless she declared war or was herself the aggressor by striking the
first blow. The result has been that Mexico has made no aggressive
movement, and our military and naval commanders have executed their
orders with such discretion that the peace of the two Republics has not
been disturbed. Texas had declared her independence and maintained it by
her arms for more than nine years. She has had an organized government
in successful operation during that period. Her separate existence as an
independent state had been recognized by the United States and the
principal powers of Europe. Treaties of commerce and navigation had been
concluded with her by different nations, and it had become manifest to
the whole world that any further attempt on the part of Mexico to
conquer her or overthrow her Government would be vain. Even Mexico
herself had become satisfied of this fact, and whilst the question of
annexation was pending before the people of Texas during the past summer
the Government of Mexico, by a formal act, agreed to recognize the
independence of Texas on condition that she would not annex herself to
any other power. The agreement to acknowledge the independence of Texas,
whether with or without this condition, is conclusive against Mexico.
The independence of Texas is a fact conceded by Mexico herself, and she
had no right or authority to prescribe restrictions as to the form of
government which Texas might afterwards choose to assume. But though
Mexico can not complain of the United States on account of the
annexation of Texas, it is to be regretted that serious causes of
misunderstanding between the two countries continue to exist, growing
out of unredressed injuries inflicted by the Mexican authorities and
people on the persons and property of citizens of the United States
through a long series of years. Mexico has admitted these injuries, but
has neglected and refused to repair them. Such was the character of the
wrongs and such the insults repeatedly offered to American citizens and
the American flag by Mexico, in palpable violation of the laws of
nations and the treaty between the two countries of the 5th of April,
1831, that they have been repeatedly brought to the notice of Congress
by my predecessors. As early as the 6th of February, 1837, the President
of the United States declared in a message to Congress that--

The length of time since some of the injuries have been committed, the
repeated and unavailing applications for redress, the wanton character
of some of the outrages upon the property and persons of our citizens,
upon the officers and flag of the United States, independent of recent
insults to this Government and people by the late extraordinary Mexican
minister, would justify in the eyes of all nations immediate war.

He did not, however, recommend an immediate resort to this extreme
measure, which, he declared, "should not be used by just and generous
nations, confiding in their strength for injuries committed, if it can
be honorably avoided," but, in a spirit of forbearance, proposed that
another demand be made on Mexico for that redress which had been so long
and unjustly withheld. In these views committees of the two Houses of
Congress, in reports made to their respective bodies, concurred. Since
these proceedings more than eight years have elapsed, during which, in
addition to the wrongs then complained of, others of an aggravated
character have been committed on the persons and property of our
citizens. A special agent was sent to Mexico in the summer of 1838 with
full authority to make another and final demand for redress. The demand
was made; the Mexican Government promised to repair the wrongs of which
we complained, and after much delay a treaty of indemnity with that view
was concluded between the two powers on the 11th of April, 1839, and was
duly ratified by both Governments. By this treaty a joint commission was
created to adjudicate and decide on the claims of American citizens on
the Government of Mexico. The commission was organized at Washington on
the 25th day of August, 1840. Their time was limited to eighteen months,
at the expiration of which they had adjudicated and decided claims
amounting to $2,026,139.68 in favor of citizens of the United States
against the Mexican Government, leaving a large amount of claims
undecided. Of the latter the American commissioners had decided in favor
of our citizens claims amounting to $928,627.88, which were left unacted
on by the umpire authorized by the treaty. Still further claims,
amounting to between three and four millions of dollars, were submitted
to the board too late to be considered, and were left undisposed of. The
sum of $2,026,139.68, decided by the board, was a liquidated and
ascertained debt due by Mexico to the claimants, and there was no
justifiable reason for delaying its payment according to the terms of
the treaty. It was not, however, paid. Mexico applied for further
indulgence, and, in that spirit of liberality and forbearance which has
ever marked the policy of the United States toward that Republic, the
request was granted, and on the 30th of January, 1843, a new treaty was
concluded. By this treaty it was provided that the interest due on the
awards in favor of claimants under the convention of the 11th of April,
1839, should be paid on the 30th of April, 1843, and that--

The principal of the said awards and the interest accruing thereon
shall be paid in five years, in equal installments every three months,
the said term of five years to commence on the 30th day of April, 1843,

The interest due on the 30th day of April, 1843, and the three first of
the twenty installments have been paid. Seventeen of these installments
remain unpaid, seven of which are now due.

The claims which were left undecided by the joint commission, amounting
to more than $3,000,000, together with other claims for spoliations on
the property of our citizens, were subsequently presented to the Mexican
Government for payment, and were so far recognized that a treaty
providing for their examination and settlement by a joint commission was
concluded and signed at Mexico on the 20th day of November, 1843. This
treaty was ratified by the United States with certain amendments to
which no just exception could have been taken, but it has not yet
received the ratification of the Mexican Government. In the meantime our
citizens, who suffered great losses--and some of whom have been reduced
from affluence to bankruptcy--are without remedy unless their rights be
enforced by their Government. Such a continued and unprovoked series of
wrongs could never have been tolerated by the United States had they
been committed by one of the principal nations of Europe. Mexico was,
however, a neighboring sister republic, which, following our example,
had achieved her independence, and for whose success and prosperity all
our sympathies were early enlisted. The United States were the first to
recognize her independence and to receive her into the family of
nations, and have ever been desirous of cultivating with her a good
understanding. We have therefore borne the repeated wrongs she has
committed with great patience, in the hope that a returning sense of
justice would ultimately guide her councils and that we might, if
possible, honorably avoid any hostile collision with her. Without the
previous authority of Congress the Executive possessed no power to adopt
or enforce adequate remedies for the injuries we had suffered, or to do
more than to be prepared to repel the threatened aggression on the part
of Mexico. After our Army and Navy had remained on the frontier and
coasts of Mexico for many weeks without any hostile movement on her
part, though her menaces were continued, I deemed it important to put an
end, if possible, to this state of things. With this view I caused steps
to be taken in the month of September last to ascertain distinctly and
in an authentic form what the designs of the Mexican Government
were--whether it was their intention to declare war, or invade Texas, or
whether they were disposed to adjust and settle in an amicable manner
the pending differences between the two countries. On the 9th of
November an official answer was received that the Mexican Government
consented to renew the diplomatic relations which had been suspended in
March last, and for that purpose were willing to accredit a minister
from the United States. With a sincere desire to preserve peace and
restore relations of good understanding between the two Republics, I
waived all ceremony as to the manner of renewing diplomatic intercourse
between them, and, assuming the initiative, on the 10th of November a
distinguished citizen of Louisiana was appointed envoy extraordinary and
minister plenipotentiary to Mexico, clothed with full powers to adjust
and definitively settle all pending differences between the two
countries, including those of boundary between Mexico and the State of
Texas. The minister appointed has set out on his mission and is probably
by this time near the Mexican capital. He has been instructed to bring
the negotiation with which he is charged to a conclusion at the earliest
practicable period, which it is expected will be in time to enable me to
communicate the result to Congress during the present session. Until
that result is known I forbear to recommend to Congress such ulterior
measures of redress for the wrongs and injuries we have so long borne as
it would have been proper to make had no such negotiation been

Congress appropriated at the last session the sum of $275,000 for the
payment of the April and July installments of the Mexican indemnities
for the year 1844:

Provided it shall be ascertained to the satisfaction of the American
Government that said installments have been paid by the Mexican
Government to the agent appointed by the United States to receive the
same in such manner as to discharge all claim on the Mexican Government,
and said agent to be delinquent in remitting the money to the United

The unsettled state of our relations with Mexico has involved this
subject in much mystery. The first information in an authentic form from
the agent of the United States, appointed under the Administration of my
predecessor, was received at the State Department on the 9th of November
last. This is contained in a letter, dated the 17th of October,
addressed by him to one of our citizens then in Mexico with a view of
having it communicated to that Department. From this it appears that the
agent on the 20th of September, 1844, gave a receipt to the treasury of
Mexico for the amount of the April and July installments of the
indemnity. In the same communication, however, he asserts that he had
not received a single dollar in cash, but that he holds such securities
as warranted him at the time in giving the receipt, and entertains no
doubt but that he will eventually obtain the money. As these
installments appear never to have been actually paid by the Government
of Mexico to the agent, and as that Government has not, therefore, been
released so as to discharge the claim, I do not feel myself warranted in
directing payment to be made to the claimants out of the Treasury
without further legislation. Their case is undoubtedly one of much
hardship, and it remains for Congress to decide whether any, and what,
relief ought to be granted to them. Our minister to Mexico has been
instructed to ascertain the facts of the case from the Mexican
Government in an authentic and official form and report the result with
as little delay as possible.

My attention was early directed to the negotiation which on the 4th
of March last I found pending at Washington between the United States
and Great Britain on the subject of the Oregon Territory. Three several
attempts had been previously made to settle the questions in dispute
between the two countries by negotiation upon the principle of compromise,
but each had proved unsuccessful. These negotiations took place
at London in the years 1818, 1824, and 1826--the two first under the
Administration of Mr. Monroe and the last under that of Mr. Adams.

The negotiation of 1818, having failed to accomplish its object,
resulted in the convention of the 20th of October of that year. By the
third article of that convention it was--

Agreed that any country that may be claimed by either party on the
northwest coast of America westward of the Stony Mountains shall,
together with its harbors, bays, and creeks, and the navigation of all
rivers within the same, be free and open for the term of ten years from
the date of the signature of the present convention to the vessels,
citizens, and subjects of the two powers; it being well understood that
this agreement is not to be construed to the prejudice of any claim
which either of the two high contracting parties may have to any part of
the said country, nor shall it be taken to affect the claims of any
other power or state to any part of the said country, the only object of
the high contracting parties in that respect being to prevent disputes
and differences amongst themselves.

The negotiation of 1824 was productive of no result, and the convention
of 1818 was left unchanged.

The negotiation of 1826, having also failed to effect an adjustment by
compromise, resulted in the convention of August 6, 1827, by which it
was agreed to continue in force for an indefinite period the provisions
of the third article of the convention of the 20th of October, 1818; and
it was further provided that--

It shall be competent, however, to either of the contracting parties,
in case either should think fit, at any time after the 20th of October,
1828, on giving due notice of twelve months to the other contracting
party, to annul and abrogate this convention; and it shall in such case
be accordingly entirely annulled and abrogated after the expiration of
the said term of notice.

In these attempts to adjust the controversy the parallel of the
forty-ninth degree of north latitude had been offered by the United
States to Great Britain, and in those of 1818 and 1826, with a further
concession of the free navigation of the Columbia River south of that
latitude. The parallel of the forty-ninth degree from the Rocky
Mountains to its intersection with the northeasternmost branch of the
Columbia, and thence down the channel of that river to the sea, had been
offered by Great Britain, with an addition of a small detached territory
north of the Columbia. Each of these propositions had been rejected by
the parties respectively. In October, 1843, the envoy extraordinary and
minister plenipotentiary of the United States in London was authorized
to make a similar offer to those made in 1818 and 1826. Thus stood the
question when the negotiation was shortly afterwards transferred to
Washington, and on the 23d of August, 1844, was formally opened under
the direction of my immediate predecessor. Like all the previous
negotiations, it was based upon principles of "compromise," and the
avowed purpose of the parties was "to treat of the respective claims of
the two countries to the Oregon Territory with the view to establish a
permanent boundary between them westward of the Rocky Mountains to the
Pacific Ocean."

Accordingly, on the 26th of August, 1844, the British plenipotentiary
offered to divide the Oregon Territory by the forty-ninth parallel of
north latitude from the Rocky Mountains to the point of its intersection
with the northeasternmost branch of the Columbia River, and thence down
that river to the sea, leaving the free navigation of the river to be
enjoyed in common by both parties, the country south of this line to
belong to the United States and that north of it to Great Britain. At
the same time he proposed in addition to yield to the United States a
detached territory north of the Columbia extending along the Pacific and
the Straits of Fuca from Bulfinchs Harbor, inclusive, to Hoods Canal,
and to make free to the United States any port or ports south of
latitude 49 deg. which they might desire, either on the mainland or on
Quadra and Vancouvers Island. With the exception of the free ports, this
was the same offer which had been made by the British and rejected by
the American Government in the negotiation of 1826. This proposition was
properly rejected by the American plenipotentiary on the day it was
submitted. This was the only proposition of compromise offered by the
British plenipotentiary. The proposition on the part of Great Britain
having been rejected, the British plenipotentiary requested that a
proposal should be made by the United States for "an equitable
adjustment of the question." When I came into office I found this to be
the state of the negotiation. Though entertaining the settled conviction
that the British pretensions of title could not be maintained to any
portion of the Oregon Territory upon any principle of public law
recognized by nations, yet in deference to what had been done by my
predecessors, and especially in consideration that propositions of
compromise had been thrice made by two preceding Administrations to
adjust the question on the parallel of 49 deg., and in two of them yielding
to Great Britain the free navigation of the Columbia, and that the
pending negotiation had been commenced on the basis of compromise, I
deemed it to be my duty not abruptly to break it off. In consideration,
too, that under the conventions of 1818 and 1827 the citizens and
subjects of the two powers held a joint occupancy of the country, I was
induced to make another effort to settle this long-pending controversy
in the spirit of moderation which had given birth to the renewed
discussion. A proposition was accordingly made, which was rejected by
the British plenipotentiary, who, without submitting any other
proposition, suffered the negotiation on his part to drop, expressing
his trust that the United States would offer what he saw fit to call
"some further proposal for the settlement of the Oregon question more
consistent with fairness and equity and with the reasonable expectations
of the British Government." The proposition thus offered and rejected
repeated the offer of the parallel of 49 deg. of north latitude, which had
been made by two preceding Administrations, but without proposing to
surrender to Great Britain, as they had done, the free navigation of the
Columbia River. The right of any foreign power to the free navigation of
any of our rivers through the heart of our country was which I was
unwilling to concede. I also embraced a provision to make free to Great
Britain any port or ports on the cap of Quadra and Vancouvers Island
south of this parallel. Had this been a new question, coming under
discussion for the first time, this proposition would not have been
made. The extraordinary and wholly inadmissible demands of the British
Government and the rejection of the proposition made in deference alone
to what had been done by my predecessors and the implied obligation
which their acts seemed to impose afford satisfactory evidence that no
compromise which the United States ought to accept can be effected. With
this conviction the proposition of compromise which had been made and
rejected was by my direction subsequently withdrawn and our title to the
whole Oregon Territory asserted, and, as is believed, maintained by
irrefragable facts and arguments.

The civilized world will see in these proceedings a spirit of liberal
concession on the part of the United States, and this Government will be
relieved from all responsibility which may follow the failure to settle
the controversy.

All attempts at compromise having failed, it becomes the duty of
Congress to consider what measures it may be proper to adopt for the
security and protection of our citizens now inhabiting or who may
hereafter inhabit Oregon, and for the maintenance of our just title to
that Territory. In adopting measures for this purpose care should be
taken that nothing be done to violate the stipulations of the convention
of 1827, which is still in force. The faith of treaties, in their letter
and spirit, has ever been, and, I trust, will ever be, scrupulously
observed by the United States. Under that convention a year's notice is
required to be given by either party to the other before the joint
occupancy shall terminate and before either can rightfully assert or
exercise exclusive jurisdiction over any portion of the territory. This
notice it would, in my judgment, be proper to give, and I recommend that
provision be made by law for giving it accordingly, and terminating in
this manner the convention of the 6th of August, 1827.

It will become proper for Congress to determine what legislation they
can in the meantime adopt without violating this convention. Beyond all
question the protection of our laws and our jurisdiction, civil and
criminal, ought to be immediately extended over our citizens in Oregon.
They have had just cause to complain of our long neglect in this
particular, and have in consequence been compelled for their own
security and protection to establish a provisional government for
themselves. Strong in their allegiance and ardent in their attachment to
the United States, they have been thus cast upon their own resources.
They are anxious that our laws should be extended over them, and I
recommend that this be done by Congress with as little delay as possible
in the full extent to which the British Parliament have proceeded in
regard to British subjects in that Territory by their act of July 2,
1821, "for regulating the fur trade and establishing a criminal and
civil jurisdiction within certain parts of North America." By this act
Great Britain extended her laws and jurisdiction, civil and criminal,
over her subjects engaged in the fur trade in that Territory. By it the
courts of the Province of Upper Canada were empowered to take cognizance
of causes civil and criminal. Justices of the peace and other judicial
officers were authorized to be appointed in Oregon with power to execute
all process issuing from the courts of that Province, and to "sit and
hold courts of record for the trial of criminal offenses and
misdemeanors" not made the subject of capital punishment, and also of
civil cases where the cause of action shall not "exceed in value the
amount or sum of L200."

Subsequent to the date of this act of Parliament a grant was made from
the "British Crown" to the Hudsons Bay Company of the exclusive trade
with the Indian tribes in the Oregon Territory, subject to a reservation
that it shall not operate to the exclusion "of the subjects of any
foreign states who, under or by force of any convention for the time
being between us and such foreign states, respectively, may be entitled
to and shall be engaged in the said trade." It is much to be regretted
that while under this act British subjects have enjoyed the protection
of British laws and British judicial tribunals throughout the whole of
Oregon, American citizens in the same Territory have enjoyed no such
protection from their Government. At the same time, the result
illustrates the character of our people and their institutions. In spite
of this neglect they have multiplied, and their number is rapidly
increasing in that Territory. They have made no appeal to arms, but have
peacefully fortified themselves in their new homes by the adoption of
republican institutions for themselves, furnishing another example of
the truth that self-government is inherent in the American breast and
must prevail. It is due to them that they should be embraced and
protected by our laws. It is deemed important that our laws regulating
trade and intercourse with the Indian tribes east of the Rocky Mountains
should be extended to such tribes as dwell beyond them. The increasing
emigration to Oregon and the care and protection which is due from the
Government to its citizens in that distant region make it our duty, as
it is our interest, to cultivate amicable relations with the Indian
tribes of that Territory. For this purpose I recommend that provision be
made for establishing an Indian agency and such subagencies as may be
deemed necessary beyond the Rocky Mountains.

For the protection of emigrants whilst on their way to Oregon against
the attacks of the Indian tribes occupying the country through which
they pass, I recommend that a suitable number of stockades and
blockhouse forts be erected along the usual route between our frontier
settlements on the Missouri and the Rocky Mountains, and that an
adequate force of mounted riflemen be raised to guard and protect them
on their journey. The immediate adoption of these recommendations by
Congress will not violate the provisions of the existing treaty. It will
be doing nothing more for American citizens than British laws have long
since done for British subjects in the same territory.

It requires several months to perform the voyage by sea from the
Atlantic States to Oregon, and although we have a large number of whale
ships in the Pacific, but few of them afford an opportunity of
interchanging intelligence without great delay between our settlements
in that distant region and the United States. An overland mail is
believed to be entirely practicable, and the importance of establishing
such a mail at least once a month is submitted to the favorable
consideration of Congress.

It is submitted to the wisdom of Congress to determine whether at their
present session, and until after the expiration of the year's notice,
any other measures may be adopted consistently with the convention of
1827 for the security of our rights and the government and protection of
our citizens in Oregon. That it will ultimately be wise and proper to
make liberal grants of land to the patriotic pioneers who amidst
privations and dangers lead the way through savage tribes inhabiting the
vast wilderness intervening between our frontier settlements and Oregon,
and who cultivate and are ever ready to defend the soil, I am fully
satisfied. To doubt whether they will obtain such grants as soon as the
convention between the United States and Great Britain shall have ceased
to exist would be to doubt the justice of Congress; but, pending the
year's notice, it is worthy of consideration whether a stipulation to
this effect may be made consistently with the spirit of that convention.

The recommendations which I have made as to the best manner of securing
our rights in Oregon are submitted to Congress with great deference.
Should they in their wisdom devise any other mode better calculated to
accomplish the same object, it shall meet with my hearty concurrence.

At the end of the year's notice, should Congress think it proper to make
provision for giving that notice, we shall have reached a period when
the national rights in Oregon must either be abandoned or firmly
maintained. That they can not be abandoned without a sacrifice of both
national honor and interest is too clear to admit of doubt.

Oregon is a part of the North American continent, to which, it is
confidently affirmed, the title of the United States is the best now in
existence. For the grounds on which that title rests I refer you to the
correspondence of the late and present Secretary of State with the
British plenipotentiary during the negotiation. The British proposition
of compromise, which would make the Columbia the line south of 49 deg., with
a trifling addition of detached territory to the United States north of
that river, and would leave on the British side two-thirds of the whole
Oregon Territory, including the free navigation of the Columbia and all
the valuable harbors on the Pacific, can never for a moment be
entertained by the United States without an abandonment of their just
and clear territorial rights, their own self-respect, and the national
honor. For the information of Congress, I communicate herewith the
correspondence which took place between the two Governments during the
late negotiation.

The rapid extension of our settlements over our territories heretofore
unoccupied, the addition of new States to our Confederacy, the expansion
of free principles, and our rising greatness as a nation are attracting
the attention of the powers of Europe, and lately the doctrine has been
broached in some of them of a "balance of power" on this continent to
check our advancement. The United States, sincerely desirous of
preserving relations of good understanding with all nations, can not in
silence permit any European interference on the North American
continent, and should any such interference be attempted will be ready
to resist it at any and all hazards.

It is well known to the American people and to all nations that this
Government has never interfered with the relations subsisting between
other governments. We have never made ourselves parties to their wars or
their alliances; we have not sought their territories by conquest; we
have not mingled with parties in their domestic struggles; and believing
our own form of government to be the best, we have never attempted to
propagate it by intrigues, by diplomacy, or by force. We may claim on
this continent a like exemption from European interference. The nations
of America are equally sovereign and independent with those of Europe.
They possess the same rights, independent of all foreign interposition,
to make war, to conclude peace, and to regulate their internal affairs.
The people of the United States can not, therefore, view with
indifference attempts of European powers to interfere with the
independent action of the nations on this continent. The American system
of government is entirely different from that of Europe. Jealousy among
the different sovereigns of Europe, lest any one of them might become
too powerful for the rest, has caused them anxiously to desire the
establishment of what they term the "balance of power." It can not be
permitted to have any application on the North American continent, and
especially to the United States. We must ever maintain the principle
that the people of this continent alone have the right to decide their
own destiny. Should any portion of them, constituting an independent
state, propose to unite themselves with our Confederacy, this will be a
question for them and us to determine without any foreign interposition.
We can never consent that European powers shall interfere to prevent
such a union because it might disturb the "balance of power" which they
may desire to maintain upon this continent. Near a quarter of a century
ago the principle was distinctly announced to the world, in the annual
message of one of my predecessors, that--

The American continents, by the free and independent condition which
they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered
as subjects for future colonization by any European powers.

This principle will apply with greatly increased force should any
European power attempt to establish any new colony in North America. In
the existing circumstances of the world the present is deemed a proper
occasion to reiterate and reaffirm the principle avowed by Mr. Monroe
and to state my cordial concurrence in its wisdom and sound policy. The
reassertion of this principle, especially in reference to North America,
is at this day but the promulgation of a policy which no European power
should cherish the disposition to resist. Existing rights of every
European nation should be respected, but it is due alike to our safety
and our interests that the efficient protection of our laws should be
extended over our whole territorial limits, and that it should be
distinctly announced to the world as our settled policy that no future
European colony or dominion shall with our consent be planted or
established on any part of the North American continent.

A question has recently arisen under the tenth article of the subsisting
treaty between the United States and Prussia. By this article the
consuls of the two countries have the right to sit as judges and
arbitrators "in such differences as may arise between the captains and
crews of the vessels belonging to the nation whose interests are
committed to their charge without the interference of the local
authorities, unless the conduct of the crews or of the captain should
disturb the order or tranquillity of the country, or the said consuls
should require their assistance to cause their decisions to be carried
into effect or supported."

The Prussian consul at New Bedford in June, 1844, applied to Mr. Justice
Story to carry into effect a decision made by him between the captain
and crew of the Prussian ship _Borussia_, but the request was refused on
the ground that without previous legislation by Congress the judiciary
did not possess the power to give effect to this article of the treaty.
The Prussian Government, through their minister here, have complained of
this violation of the treaty, and have asked the Government of the
United States to adopt the necessary measures to prevent similar
violations hereafter. Good faith to Prussia, as well as to other nations
with whom we have similar treaty stipulations, requires that these
should be faithfully observed. I have deemed it proper, therefore, to
lay the subject before Congress and to recommend such legislation as may
be necessary to give effect to these treaty obligations.

By virtue of an arrangement made between the Spanish Government and that
of the United States in December, 1831, American vessels, since the 20th
of April, 1832, have been admitted to entry in the ports of Spain,
including those of the Balearic and Canary islands, on payment of the
same tonnage duty of 5 cents per ton, as though they had been Spanish
vessels; and this whether our vessels arrive in Spain directly from the
United States or indirectly from any other country. When Congress, by
the act of 13th July, 1832, gave effect to this arrangement between the
two Governments, they confined the reduction of tonnage duty merely to
Spanish vessels "coming from a port in Spain," leaving the former
discriminating duty to remain against such vessels coming from a port in
any other country. It is manifestly unjust that whilst American vessels
arriving in the ports of Spain from other countries pay no more duty
than Spanish vessels, Spanish vessels arriving in the ports of the
United States from other countries should be subjected to heavy
discriminating tonnage duties. This is neither equality nor reciprocity,
and is in violation of the arrangement concluded in December, 1831,
between the two countries. The Spanish Government have made repeated and
earnest remonstrances against this inequality, and the favorable
attention of Congress has been several times invoked to the subject by
my predecessors. I recommend, as an act of justice to Spain, that this
inequality be removed by Congress and that the discriminating duties
which have been levied under the act of the 13th of July, 1832, on
Spanish vessels coming to the United States from any other foreign
country be refunded. This recommendation does not embrace Spanish
vessels arriving in the United States from Cuba and Porto Rico, which
will still remain subject to the provisions of the act of June 30, 1834,
concerning tonnage duty on such vessels. By the act of the 14th of July,
1832, coffee was exempted from duty altogether. This exemption was
universal, without reference to the country where it was produced or the
national character of the vessel in which it was imported. By the tariff
act of the 30th of August, 1842, this exemption from duty was restricted
to coffee imported in American vessels from the place of its production,
whilst coffee imported under all other circumstances was subjected to a
duty of 20 per cent _ad valorem_. Under this act and our existing treaty
with the King of the Netherlands Java coffee imported from the European
ports of that Kingdom into the United States, whether in Dutch or
American vessels, now pays this rate of duty. The Government of the
Netherlands complains that such a discriminating duty should have been
imposed on coffee the production of one of its colonies, and which is
chiefly brought from Java to the ports of that Kingdom and exported from
thence to foreign countries. Our trade with the Netherlands is highly
beneficial to both countries and our relations with them have ever been
of the most friendly character. Under all the circumstances of the case,
I recommend that this discrimination should be abolished and that the
coffee of Java imported from the Netherlands be placed upon the same
footing with that imported directly from Brazil and other countries
where it is produced.

Under the eighth section of the tariff act of the 30th of August, 1842,
a duty of 15 cents per gallon was imposed on port wine in casks, while
on the red wines of several other countries, when imported in casks, a
duty of only 6 cents per gallon was imposed. This discrimination, so far
as regarded the port wine of Portugal, was deemed a violation of our
treaty with that power, which provides that--

No higher or other duties shall be imposed on the importation into
the United States of America of any article the growth, produce, or
manufacture of the Kingdom and possessions of Portugal than such as
are or shall be payable on the like article being the growth, produce,
or manufacture of any other foreign country.

Accordingly, to give effect to the treaty as well as to the intention of
Congress, expressed in a proviso to the tariff act itself, that nothing
therein contained should be so construed as to interfere with subsisting
treaties with foreign nations, a Treasury circular was issued on the
16th of July, 1844, which, among other things, declared the duty on the
port wine of Portugal, in casks, under the existing laws and treaty to
be 6 cents per gallon, and directed that the excess of duties which had
been collected on such wine should be refunded. By virtue of another
clause in the same section of the act it is provided that all imitations
of port or any other wines "shall be subject to the duty provided for
the genuine article." Imitations of port wine, the production of France,
are imported to some extent into the United States, and the Government
of that country now claims that under a correct construction of the act
these imitations ought not to pay a higher duty than that imposed upon
the original port wine of Portugal. It appears to me to be unequal and
unjust that French imitations of port wine should be subjected to a duty
of 15 cents, while the more valuable article from Portugal should pay a
duty of 6 cents only per gallon. I therefore recommend to Congress such
legislation as may be necessary to correct the inequality.

The late President, in his annual message of December last, recommended
an appropriation to satisfy the claims of the Texan Government against
the United States, which had been previously adjusted so far as the
powers of the Executive extend. These claims arose out of the act of
disarming a body of Texan troops under the command of Major Snively by
an officer in the service of the United States, acting under the orders
of our Government, and the forcible entry into the custom-house at
Bryarlys Landing, on Red River, by certain citizens of the United States
and taking away therefrom the goods seized by the collector of the
customs as forfeited under the laws of Texas. This was a liquidated debt
ascertained to be due to Texas when an independent state. Her acceptance
of the terms of annexation proposed by the United States does not
discharge or invalidate the claim. I recommend that provision be made
for its payment.

The commissioner appointed to China during the special session of the
Senate in March last shortly afterwards set out on his mission in the
United States ship _Columbus_. On arriving at Rio de Janeiro on his
passage the state of his health had become so critical that by the
advice of his medical attendants he returned to the United States early
in the month of October last. Commodore Biddle, commanding the East
India Squadron, proceeded on his voyage in the _Columbus_, and was
charged by the commissioner with the duty of exchanging with the proper
authorities the ratifications of the treaty lately concluded with the
Emperor of China. Since the return of the commissioner to the United
States his health has been much improved, and he entertains the
confident belief that he will soon be able to proceed on his mission.

Unfortunately, differences continue to exist among some of the nations
of South America which, following our example, have established their
independence, while in others internal dissensions prevail. It is
natural that our sympathies should be warmly enlisted for their welfare;
that we should desire that all controversies between them should be
amicably adjusted and their Governments administered in a manner to
protect the rights and promote the prosperity of their people. It is
contrary, however, to our settled policy to interfere in their
controversies, whether external or internal.

I have thus adverted to all the subjects connected with our foreign
relations to which I deem it necessary to call your attention. Our
policy is not only peace with all, but good will toward all the powers
of the earth. While we are just to all, we require that all shall be
just to us. Excepting the differences with Mexico and Great Britain, our
relations with all civilized nations are of the most satisfactory
character. It is hoped that in this enlightened age these differences
may be amicably adjusted.

The Secretary of the Treasury in his annual report to Congress will
communicate a full statement of the condition of our finances. The
imports for the fiscal year ending on the 30th of June last were of the
value of $117,254,564, of which the amount exported was $15,346,830,
leaving a balance of $101,907,734 for domestic consumption. The exports
for the same year were of the value of $114,646,606, of which the amount
of domestic articles was $99,299,776. The receipts into the Treasury
during the same year were $29,769,133.56, of which there were derived
from customs $27,528,112.70, from sales of public lands $2,077,022.30,
and from incidental and miscellaneous sources $163,998.56. The
expenditures for the same period were $29,968,206.98, of which
$8,588,157.62 were applied to the payment of the public debt. The
balance in the Treasury on the 1st of July last was $7,658,306.22. The
amount of the public debt remaining unpaid on the 1st of October last
was $17,075,445.52. Further payments of the public debt would have been
made, in anticipation of the period of its reimbursement under the
authority conferred upon the Secretary of the Treasury by the acts of
July 21, 1841, and of April 15, 1842, and March 3, 1843, had not the
unsettled state of our relations with Mexico menaced hostile collision
with that power. In view of such a contingency it was deemed prudent to
retain in the Treasury an amount unusually large for ordinary purposes.

A few years ago our whole national debt growing out of the Revolution
and the War of 1812 with Great Britain was extinguished, and we
presented to the world the rare and noble spectacle of a great and
growing people who had fully discharged every obligation. Since that
time the existing debt has been contracted, and, small as it is in
comparison with the similar burdens of most other nations, it should be
extinguished at the earliest practicable period. Should the state of the
country permit, and especially if our foreign relations interpose no
obstacle, it is contemplated to apply all the moneys in the Treasury as
they accrue, beyond what is required for the appropriations by Congress,
to its liquidation. I cherish the hope of soon being able to
congratulate the country on its recovering once more the lofty position
which it so recently occupied. Our country, which exhibits to the world
the benefits of self-government, in developing all the sources of
national prosperity owes to mankind the permanent example of a nation
free from the blighting influence of a public debt.

The attention of Congress is invited to the importance of making
suitable modifications and reductions of the rates of duty imposed by
our present tariff laws. The object of imposing duties on imports should
be to raise revenue to pay the necessary expenses of Government.
Congress may undoubtedly, in the exercise of a sound discretion,
discriminate in arranging the rates of duty on different articles, but
the discriminations should be within the revenue standard and be made
with the view to raise money for the support of Government.

It becomes important to understand distinctly what is meant by a revenue
standard the maximum of which should not be exceeded in the rates of
duty imposed. It is conceded, and experience proves, that duties may be
laid so high as to diminish or prohibit altogether the importation of
any given article, and thereby lessen or destroy the revenue which at
lower rates would be derived from its importation. Such duties exceed
the revenue rates and are not imposed to raise money for the support of
Government. If Congress levy a duty for revenue of 1 per cent on a given
article, it will produce a given amount of money to the Treasury and
will incidentally and necessarily afford protection or advantage to the
amount of 1 per cent to the home manufacturer of a similar or like
article over the importer. If the duty be raised to 10 per cent, it will
produce a greater amount of money and afford greater protection. If it
be still raised to 20, 25, or 30 per cent, and if as it is raised the
revenue derived from it is found to be increased, the protection or
advantage will also be increased; but if it be raised to 31 per cent,
and it is found that the revenue produced at that rate is less than at
30 per cent, it ceases to be a revenue duty. The precise point in the
ascending scale of duties at which it is ascertained from experience
that the revenue is greatest is the maximum rate of duty which can be
laid for the _bona fide_ purpose of collecting money for the support of
Government. To raise the duties higher than that point, and thereby
diminish the amount collected, is to levy them for protection merely,
and not for revenue. As long, then, as Congress may gradually increase
the rate of duty on a given article, and the revenue is increased by
such increase of duty, they are within the revenue standard. When they
go beyond that point, and as they increase the duties, the revenue is
diminished or destroyed; the act ceases to have for its object the
raising of money to support Government, but is for protection merely. It
does not follow that Congress should levy the highest duty on all
articles of import which they will bear within the revenue standard, for
such rates would probably produce a much larger amount than the
economical administration of the Government would require. Nor does it
follow that the duties on all articles should be at the same or a
horizontal rate. Some articles will bear a much higher revenue duty than
others. Below the maximum of the revenue standard Congress may and ought
to discriminate in the rates imposed, taking care so to adjust them on
different articles as to produce in the aggregate the amount which, when
added to the proceeds of the sales of public lands, may be needed to pay
the economical expenses of the Government.

In levying a tariff of duties Congress exercise the taxing power, and
for purposes of revenue may select the objects of taxation. They may
exempt certain articles altogether and permit their importation free of
duty. On others they may impose low duties. In these classes should be
embraced such articles of necessity as are in general use, and
especially such as are consumed by the laborer and poor as well as by
the wealthy citizen. Care should be taken that all the great interests
of the country, including manufactures, agriculture, commerce,
navigation, and the mechanic arts, should, as far as may be practicable,
derive equal advantages from the incidental protection which a just
system of revenue duties may afford. Taxation, direct or indirect, is a
burden, and it should be so imposed as to operate as equally as may be
on all classes in the proportion of their ability to bear it. To make
the taxing power an actual benefit to one class necessarily increases
the burden of the others beyond their proportion, and would be
manifestly unjust. The terms "protection to domestic industry" are of
popular import, but they should apply under a just system to all the
various branches of industry in our country. The farmer or planter who
toils yearly in his fields is engaged in "domestic industry," and is as
much entitled to have his labor "protected" as the manufacturer, the man
of commerce, the navigator, or the mechanic, who are engaged also in
"domestic industry" in their different pursuits. The joint labors of all
these classes constitute the aggregate of the "domestic industry" of the
nation, and they are equally entitled to the nation's "protection." No
one of them can justly claim to be the exclusive recipient of
"protection," which can only be afforded by increasing burdens on the
"domestic industry" of the others.

If these views be correct, it remains to inquire how far the tariff act
of 1842 is consistent with them. That many of the provisions of that act
are in violation of the cardinal principles here laid down all must
concede. The rates of duty imposed by it on some articles are
prohibitory and on others so high as greatly to diminish importations
and to produce a less amount of revenue than would be derived from lower
rates. They operate as "protection merely" to one branch of "domestic
industry" by taxing other branches.

By the introduction of minimums, or assumed and false values, and by the
imposition of specific duties the injustice and inequality of the act of
1842 in its practical operations on different classes and pursuits are
seen and felt. Many of the oppressive duties imposed by it under the
operation of these principles range from 1 per cent to more than 200 per
cent. They are prohibitory on some articles and partially so on others,
and bear most heavily on articles of common necessity and but lightly on
articles of luxury. It is so framed that much the greatest burden which
it imposes is thrown on labor and the poorer classes, who are least able
to bear it, while it protects capital and exempts the rich from paying
their just proportion of the taxation required for the support of
Government. While it protects the capital of the wealthy manufacturer
and increases his profits, it does not benefit the operatives or
laborers in his employment, whose wages have not been increased by it.
Articles of prime necessity or of coarse quality and low price, used by
the masses of the people, are in many instances subjected by it to heavy
taxes, while articles of finer quality and higher price, or of luxury,
which can be used only by the opulent, are lightly taxed. It imposes
heavy and unjust burdens on the farmer, the planter, the commercial man,
and those of all other pursuits except the capitalist who has made his
investments in manufactures. All the great interests of the country are
not as nearly as may be practicable equally protected by it.

The Government in theory knows no distinction of persons or classes, and
should not bestow upon some favors and privileges which all others may
not enjoy. It was the purpose of its illustrious founders to base the
institutions which they reared upon the great and unchanging principles
of justice and equity, conscious that if administered in the spirit in
which they were conceived they would be felt only by the benefits which
they diffused, and would secure for themselves a defense in the hearts
of the people more powerful than standing armies and all the means and
appliances invented to sustain governments founded in injustice and

The well-known fact that the tariff act of 1842 was passed by a majority
of one vote in the Senate and two in the House of Representatives, and
that some of those who felt themselves constrained, under the peculiar
circumstances existing at the time, to vote in its favor, proclaimed its
defects and expressed their determination to aid in its modification on
the first opportunity, affords strong and conclusive evidence that it
was not intended to be permanent, and of the expediency and necessity of
its thorough revision.

In recommending to Congress a reduction of the present rates of duty and
a revision and modification of the act of 1842, I am far from
entertaining opinions unfriendly to the manufacturers. On the contrary,
I desire to see them prosperous as far as they can be so without
imposing unequal burdens on other interests. The advantage under any
system of indirect taxation, even within the revenue standard, must be
in favor of the manufacturing interest, and of this no other interest
will complain.

I recommend to Congress the abolition of the minimum principle, or
assumed, arbitrary, and false values, and of specific duties, and the
substitution in their place of _ad valorem_ duties as the fairest and
most equitable indirect tax which can be imposed. By the _ad valorem_
principle all articles are taxed according to their cost or value, and
those which are of inferior quality or of small cost bear only the just
proportion of the tax with those which are of superior quality or
greater cost. The articles consumed by all are taxed at the same rate. A
system of _ad valorem_ revenue duties, with proper discriminations and
proper guards against frauds in collecting them, it is not doubted will
afford ample incidental advantages to the manufacturers and enable them
to derive as great profits as can be derived from any other regular
business. It is believed that such a system strictly within the revenue
standard will place the manufacturing interests on a stable footing and
inure to their permanent advantage, while it will as nearly as may be
practicable extend to all the great interests of the country the
incidental protection which can be afforded by our revenue laws. Such a
system, when once firmly established, would be permanent, and not be
subject to the constant complaints, agitations, and changes which must
ever occur when duties are not laid for revenue, but for the "protection
merely" of a favored interest.

In the deliberations of Congress on this subject it is hoped that a
spirit of mutual concession and compromise between conflicting interests
may prevail, and that the result of their labors may be crowned with the
happiest consequences.

By the Constitution of the United States it is provided that "no money
shall be drawn from the Treasury but in consequence of appropriations
made by law." A public treasury was undoubtedly contemplated and
intended to be created, in which the public money should be kept from
the period of collection until needed for public uses. In the collection
and disbursement of the public money no agencies have ever been employed
by law except such as were appointed by the Government, directly
responsible to it and under its control. The safe-keeping of the public
money should be confided to a public treasury created by law and under
like responsibility and control. It is not to be imagined that the
framers of the Constitution could have intended that a treasury should
be created as a place of deposit and safe-keeping of the public money
which was irresponsible to the Government. The first Congress under the
Constitution, by the act of the 2d of September, 1789, "to establish the
Treasury Department," provided for the appointment of a Treasurer, and
made it his duty "to receive and keep the moneys of the United States"
and "at all times to submit to the Secretary of the Treasury and the
Comptroller, or either of them, the inspection of the moneys in his

That banks, national or State, could not have been intended to be used
as a substitute for the Treasury spoken of in the Constitution as
keepers of the public money is manifest from the fact that at that time
there was no national bank, and but three or four State banks, of
limited capital, existed in the country. Their employment as
depositories was at first resorted to to a limited extent, but with no
avowed intention of continuing them permanently in place of the Treasury
of the Constitution. When they were afterwards from time to time
employed, it was from motives of supposed convenience. Our experience
has shown that when banking corporations have been the keepers of the
public money, and been thereby made in effect the Treasury, the
Government can have no guaranty that it can command the use of its own
money for public purposes. The late Bank of the United States proved to
be faithless. The State banks which were afterwards employed were
faithless. But a few years ago, with millions of public money in their
keeping, the Government was brought almost to bankruptcy and the public
credit seriously impaired because of their inability or indisposition to
pay on demand to the public creditors in the only currency recognized by
the Constitution. Their failure occurred in a period of peace, and great
inconvenience and loss were suffered by the public from it. Had the
country been involved in a foreign war, that inconvenience and loss
would have been much greater, and might have resulted in extreme public
calamity. The public money should not be mingled with the private funds
of banks or individuals or be used for private purposes. When it is
placed in banks for safe-keeping, it is in effect loaned to them without
interest, and is loaned by them upon interest to the borrowers from
them. The public money is converted into banking capital, and is used
and loaned out for the private profit of bank stockholders, and when
called for, as was the case in 1837, it may be in the pockets of the
borrowers from the banks instead of being in the public Treasury
contemplated by the Constitution. The framers of the Constitution could
never have intended that the money paid into the Treasury should be thus
converted to private use and placed beyond the control of the

Banks which hold the public money are often tempted by a desire of gain
to extend their loans, increase their circulation, and thus stimulate,
if not produce, a spirit of speculation and extravagance which sooner or
later must result in ruin to thousands. If the public money be not
permitted to be thus used, but be kept in the Treasury and paid out to
the public creditors in gold and silver, the temptation afforded by its
deposit with banks to an undue expansion of their business would be
checked, while the amount of the constitutional currency left in
circulation would be enlarged by its employment in the public
collections and disbursements, and the banks themselves would in
consequence be found in a safer and sounder condition. At present State
banks are employed as depositories, but without adequate regulation of
law whereby the public money can be secured against the casualties and
excesses, revulsions, suspensions, and defalcations to which from
overissues, overtrading, an inordinate desire for gain, or other causes
they are constantly exposed. The Secretary of the Treasury has in all
cases when it was practicable taken collateral security for the amount
which they hold, by the pledge of stocks of the United States or such of
the States as were in good credit. Some of the deposit banks have given
this description of security and others have declined to do so.

Entertaining the opinion that "the separation of the moneys of the
Government from banking institutions is indispensable for the safety of
the funds of the Government and the rights of the people," I recommend
to Congress that provision be made by law for such separation, and that
a constitutional treasury be created for the safe-keeping of the public
money. The constitutional treasury recommended is designed as a secure
depository for the public money, without any power to make loans or
discounts or to issue any paper whatever as a currency or circulation.
I can not doubt that such a treasury as was contemplated by the
Constitution should be independent of all banking corporations.
The money of the people should be kept in the Treasury of the people
created by law, and be in the custody of agents of the people chosen by
themselves according to the forms of the Constitution--agents who are
directly responsible to the Government, who are under adequate bonds and
oaths, and who are subject to severe punishments for any embezzlement,
private use, or misapplication of the public funds, and for any failure
in other respects to perform their duties. To say that the people or
their Government are incompetent or not to be trusted with the custody
of their own money in their own Treasury, provided by themselves, but
must rely on the presidents, cashiers, and stockholders of banking
corporations, not appointed by them nor responsible to them, would be
to concede that they are incompetent for self-government.

In recommending the establishment of a constitutional treasury in which
the public money shall be kept, I desire that adequate provision be made
by law for its safety and that all Executive discretion or control over
it shall be removed, except such as may be necessary in directing its
disbursement in pursuance of appropriations made by law.

Under our present land system, limiting the minimum price at which the
public lands can be entered to $1.25 per acre, large quantities of lands
of inferior quality remain unsold because they will not command that
price. From the records of the General Land Office it appears that of
the public lands remaining unsold in the several States and Territories
in which they are situated, 39,105,577 acres have been in the market
subject to entry more than twenty years, 49,638,644 acres for more than
fifteen years, 73,074,600 acres for more than ten years, and 106,176,961
acres for more than five years. Much the largest portion of these lands
will continue to be unsalable at the minimum price at which they are
permitted to be sold so long as large territories of lands from which
the more valuable portions have not been selected are annually brought
into market by the Government. With the view to the sale and settlement
of these inferior lands, I recommend that the price be graduated and
reduced below the present minimum rate, confining the sales at the
reduced prices to settlers and cultivators, in limited quantities. If
graduated and reduced in price for a limited term to $1 per acre, and
after the expiration of that period for a second and third term to lower
rates, a large portion of these lands would be purchased, and many
worthy citizens who are unable to pay higher rates could purchase homes
for themselves and their families. By adopting the policy of graduation
and reduction of price these inferior lands will be sold for their real
value, while the States in which they lie will be freed from the
inconvenience, if not injustice, to which they are subjected in
consequence of the United States continuing to own large quantities of
the public lands within their borders not liable to taxation for the
support of their local governments.

I recommend the continuance of the policy of granting preemptions in its
most liberal extent to all those who have settled or may hereafter
settle on the public lands, whether surveyed or unsurveyed, to which the
Indian title may have been extinguished at the time of settlement. It
has been found by experience that in consequence of combinations of
purchasers and other causes a very small quantity of the public lands,
when sold at public auction, commands a higher price than the minimum
rates established by law. The settlers on the public lands are, however,
but rarely able to secure their homes and improvements at the public
sales at that rate, because these combinations, by means of the capital
they command and their superior ability to purchase, render it
impossible for the settler to compete with them in the market. By
putting down all competition these combinations of capitalists and
speculators are usually enabled to purchase the lands, including the
improvements of the settlers, at the minimum price of the Government,
and either turn them out of their homes or extort from them, according
to their ability to pay, double or quadruple the amount paid for them to
the Government. It is to the enterprise and perseverance of the hardy
pioneers of the West, who penetrate the wilderness with their families,
suffer the dangers, the privations, and hardships attending the
settlement of a new country, and prepare the way for the body of
emigrants who in the course of a few years usually follow them, that we
are in a great degree indebted for the rapid extension and
aggrandizement of our country.

Experience has proved that no portion of our population are more
patriotic than the hardy and brave men of the frontier, or more ready to
obey the call of their country and to defend her rights and her honor
whenever and by whatever enemy assailed. They should be protected from
the grasping speculator and secured, at the minimum price of the public
lands, in the humble homes which they have improved by their labor. With
this end in view, all vexatious or unnecessary restrictions imposed upon
them by the existing preemption laws should be repealed or modified. It
is the true policy of the Government to afford facilities to its
citizens to become the owners of small portions of our vast public
domain at low and moderate rates.

The present system of managing the mineral lands of the United States is
believed to be radically defective. More than 1,000,000 acres of the
public lands, supposed to contain lead and other minerals, have been
reserved from sale, and numerous leases upon them have been granted to
individuals upon a stipulated rent. The system of granting leases has
proved to be not only unprofitable to the Government, but unsatisfactory
to the citizens who have gone upon the lands, and must, if continued,
lay the foundation of much future difficulty between the Government and
the lessees. According to the official records, the amount of rents
received by the Government for the years 1841, 1842, 1843, and 1844 was
$6,354.74, while the expenses of the system during the same period,
including salaries of superintendents, agents, clerks, and incidental
expenses, were $26,111.11, the income being less than one-fourth of the
expenses. To this pecuniary loss may be added the injury sustained by
the public in consequence of the destruction of timber and the careless
and wasteful manner of working the mines. The system has given rise to
much litigation between the United States and individual citizens,
producing irritation and excitement in the mineral region, and involving
the Government in heavy additional expenditures. It is believed that
similar losses and embarrassments will continue to occur while the
present system of leasing these lands remains unchanged. These lands are
now under the superintendence and care of the War Department, with the
ordinary duties of which they have no proper or natural connection. I
recommend the repeal of the present system, and that these lands be
placed under the superintendence and management of the General Land
Office, as other public lands, and be brought into market and sold upon
such terms as Congress in their wisdom may prescribe, reserving to the
Government an equitable percentage of the gross amount of mineral
product, and that the preemption principle be extended to resident
miners and settlers upon them at the minimum price which may be
established by Congress.

I refer you to the accompanying report of the Secretary of War for
information respecting the present situation of the Army and its
operations during the past year, the state of our defenses, the
condition of the public works, and our relations with the various Indian
tribes within our limits or upon our borders. I invite your attention to
the suggestions contained in that report in relation to these prominent
objects of national interest. When orders were given during the past
summer for concentrating a military force on the western frontier of
Texas, our troops were widely dispersed and in small detachments,
occupying posts remote from each other. The prompt and expeditious
manner in which an army embracing more than half our peace establishment
was drawn together on an emergency so sudden reflects great credit on
the officers who were intrusted with the execution of these orders, as
well as upon the discipline of the Army itself. To be in strength to
protect and defend the people and territory of Texas in the event Mexico
should commence hostilities or invade her territories with a large army,
which she threatened, I authorized the general assigned to the command

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