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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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If the right of preemption be thus extended, it will embrace a large and
meritorious class of our citizens. It will increase the number of small
freeholders upon our borders, who will be enabled thereby to educate
their children and otherwise improve their condition, while they will be
found at all times, as they have ever proved themselves to be in the
hour of danger to their country, among our hardiest and best volunteer
soldiers, ever ready to attend to their services in cases of emergencies
and among the last to leave the field as long as an enemy remains to be
encountered. Such a policy will also impress these patriotic pioneer
emigrants with deeper feelings of gratitude for the parental care of
their Government, when they find their dearest interests secured to them
by the permanent laws of the land and that they are no longer in danger
of losing their homes and hard-earned improvements by being brought into
competition with a more wealthy class of purchasers at the land sales.

The attention of Congress was invited at their last and the preceding
session to the importance of establishing a Territorial government over
our possessions in Oregon, and it is to be regretted that there was no
legislation on the subject. Our citizens who inhabit that distant region
of country are still left without the protection of our laws, or any
regularly organized government. Before the question of limits and
boundaries of the Territory of Oregon was definitely settled, from the
necessity of their condition the inhabitants had established a temporary
government of their own. Besides the want of legal authority for
continuing such a government, it is wholly inadequate to protect them in
their rights of person and property, or to secure to them the enjoyment
of the privileges of other citizens, to which they are entitled under
the Constitution of the United States. They should have the right of
suffrage, be represented in a Territorial legislature and by a Delegate
in Congress, and possess all the rights and privileges which citizens of
other portions of the territories of the United States have heretofore
enjoyed or may now enjoy.

Our judicial system, revenue laws, laws regulating trade and intercourse
with the Indian tribes, and the protection of our laws generally should
be extended over them.

In addition to the inhabitants in that Territory who had previously
emigrated to it, large numbers of our citizens have followed them during
the present year, and it is not doubted that during the next and
subsequent years their numbers will be greatly increased.

Congress at its last session established post routes leading to Oregon,
and between different points within that Territory, and authorized the
establishment of post-offices at "Astoria and such other places on the
coasts of the Pacific within the territory of the United States as the
public interests may require." Post-offices have accordingly been
established, deputy postmasters appointed, and provision made for the
transportation of the mails.

The preservation of peace with the Indian tribes residing west of the
Rocky Mountains will render it proper that authority should be given by
law for the appointment of an adequate number of Indian agents to reside
among them.

I recommend that a surveyor-general's office be established in that
Territory, and that the public lands be surveyed and brought into market
at an early period.

I recommend also that grants, upon liberal terms, of limited quantities
of the public lands be made to all citizens of the United States who
have emigrated, or may hereafter within a prescribed period emigrate, to
Oregon and settle upon them. These hardy and adventurous citizens, who
have encountered the dangers and privations of a long and toilsome
journey, and have at length found an abiding place for themselves and
their families upon the utmost verge of our western limits, should be
secured in the homes which they have improved by their labor.

I refer you to the accompanying report of the Secretary of War for a
detailed account of the operations of the various branches of the public
service connected with the Department under his charge. The duties
devolving on this Department have been unusually onerous and responsible
during the past year, and have been discharged with ability and success.

Pacific relations continue to exist with the various Indian tribes, and
most of them manifest a strong friendship for the United States. Some
depredations were committed during the past year upon our trains
transporting supplies for the Army, on the road between the western
border of Missouri and Santa Fe. These depredations, which are supposed
to have been committed by bands from the region of New Mexico, have been
arrested by the presence of a military force ordered out for that
purpose. Some outrages have been perpetrated by a portion of the
northwestern bands upon the weaker and comparatively defenseless
neighboring tribes. Prompt measures were taken to prevent such
occurrences in future.

Between 1,000 and 2,000 Indians, belonging to several tribes, have been
removed during the year from the east of the Mississippi to the country
allotted to them west of that river as their permanent home, and
arrangements have been made for others to follow.

Since the treaty of 1846 with the Cherokees the feuds among them appear
to have subsided, and they have become more united and contented than
they have been for many years past. The commissioners appointed in
pursuance of the act of June 27, 1846, to settle claims arising under
the treaty of 1835-36 with that tribe have executed their duties, and
after a patient investigation and a full and fair examination of all the
cases brought before them closed their labors in the month of July last.
This is the fourth board of commissioners which has been organized under
this treaty. Ample opportunity has been afforded to all those interested
to bring forward their claims. No doubt is entertained that impartial
justice has been done by the late board, and that all valid claims
embraced by the treaty have been considered and allowed. This result and
the final settlement to be made with this tribe under the treaty of
1846, which will be completed and laid before you during your session,
will adjust all questions of controversy between them and the United
States and produce a state of relations with them simple, well defined,
and satisfactory.

Under the discretionary authority conferred by the act of the 3d of
March last the annuities due to the various tribes have been paid during
the present year to the heads of families instead of to their chiefs or
such persons as they might designate, as required by the law previously
existing. This mode of payment has given general satisfaction to the
great body of the Indians. Justice has been done to them, and they are
grateful to the Government for it. A few chiefs and interested persons
may object to this mode of payment, but it is believed to be the only
mode of preventing fraud and imposition from being practiced upon the
great body of common Indians, constituting a majority of all the tribes.

It is gratifying to perceive that a number of the tribes have recently
manifested an increased interest in the establishment of schools among
them, and are making rapid advances in agriculture, some of them
producing a sufficient quantity of food for their support and in some
cases a surplus to dispose of to their neighbors. The comforts by which
those who have received even a very limited education and have engaged
in agriculture are surrounded tend gradually to draw off their less
civilized brethren from the precarious means of subsistence by the chase
to habits of labor and civilization.

The accompanying report of the Secretary of the Navy presents a
satisfactory and gratifying account of the condition and operations of
the naval service during the past year. Our commerce has been pursued
with increased activity and with safety and success in every quarter of
the globe under the protection of our flag, which the Navy has caused to
be respected in the most distant seas.

In the Gulf of Mexico and in the Pacific the officers and men of our
squadrons have displayed distinguished gallantry and performed valuable
services. In the early stages of the war with Mexico her ports on both
coasts were blockaded, and more recently many of them have been captured
and held by the Navy. When acting in cooperation with the land forces,
the naval officers and men have performed gallant and distinguished
services on land as well as on water, and deserve the high commendation
of the country.

While other maritime powers are adding to their navies large numbers of
war steamers, it was a wise policy on our part to make similar additions
to our Navy. The four war steamers authorized by the act of the 3d of
March, 1847, are in course of construction.

In addition to the four war steamers authorized by this act, the
Secretary of the Navy has, in pursuance of its provisions, entered into
contracts for the construction of five steamers to be employed in the
transportation of the United States mail "from New York to New Orleans,
touching at Charleston, Savannah, and Havana, and from Havana to
Chagres;" for three steamers to be employed in like manner from Panama
to Oregon, "so as to connect with the mail from Havana to Chagres across
the Isthmus;" and for five steamers to be employed in like manner from
New York to Liverpool. These steamers will be the property of the
contractors, but are to be built "under the superintendence and
direction of a naval constructor in the employ of the Navy Department,
and to be so constructed as to render them convertible at the least
possible expense into war steamers of the first class." A prescribed
number of naval officers, as well as a post-office agent, are to be on
board of them, and authority is reserved to the Navy Department at all
times to "exercise control over said steamships" and "to have the right
to take them for the exclusive use and service of the United States upon
making proper compensation to the contractors therefor."

Whilst these steamships will be employed in transporting the mails of
the United States coastwise and to foreign countries upon an annual
compensation to be paid to the owners, they will be always ready, upon
an emergency requiring it, to be converted into war steamers; and the
right reserved to take them for public use will add greatly to the
efficiency and strength of this description of our naval force. To the
steamers authorized under contracts made by the Secretary of the Navy
should be added five other steamers authorized under contracts made in
pursuance of laws by the Postmaster-General, making an addition, in the
whole, of eighteen war steamers subject to be taken for public use. As
further contracts for the transportation of the mail to foreign
countries may be authorized by Congress, this number may be enlarged
indefinitely.

The enlightened policy by which a rapid communication with the various
distant parts of the globe is established, by means of American-built
sea steamers, would find an ample reward in the increase of our commerce
and in making our country and its resources more favorably known abroad;
but the national advantage is still greater--of having our naval
officers made familiar with steam navigation and of having the privilege
of taking the ships already equipped for immediate service at a moment's
notice, and will be cheaply purchased by the compensation to be paid for
the transportation of the mail in them over and above the postages
received.

A just national pride, no less than our commercial interests, would Seem
to favor the policy of augmenting the number of this description of
vessels. They can be built in our country cheaper and in greater numbers
than in any other in the world.

I refer you to the accompanying report of the Postmaster-General for a
detailed and satisfactory account of the condition and operations of
that Department during the past year. It is gratifying to find that
within so short a period after the reduction in the rates of postage,
and notwithstanding the great increase of mail service, the revenue
received for the year will be sufficient to defray all the expenses, and
that no further aid will be required from the Treasury for that purpose.

The first of the American mail steamers authorized by the act of the 3d
of March, 1845, was completed and entered upon the service on the 1st of
June last, and is now on her third voyage to Bremen and other
intermediate ports. The other vessels authorized under the provisions of
that act are in course of construction, and will be put upon the line as
soon as completed. Contracts have also been made for the transportation
of the mail in a steamer from Charleston to Havana.

A reciprocal and satisfactory postal arrangement has been made by the
Postmaster-General with the authorities of Bremen, and no difficulty is
apprehended in making similar arrangements with all other powers with
which we may have communications by mail steamers, except with Great
Britain.

On the arrival of the first of the American steamers bound to Bremen at
Southampton, in the month of June last, the British post-office directed
the collection of discriminating postages on all letters and other
mailable matter which she took out to Great Britain or which went into
the British post-office on their way to France and other parts of
Europe. The effect of the order of the British post-office is to subject
all letters and other matter transported by American steamers to double
postage, one postage having been previously paid on them to the United
States, while letters transported in British steamers are subject to pay
but a single postage. This measure was adopted with the avowed object of
protecting the British line of mail steamers now running between Boston
and Liverpool, and if permitted to continue must speedily put an end to
the transportation of all letters and other matter by American steamers
and give to British steamers a monopoly of the business. A just and fair
reciprocity is all that we desire, and on this we must insist. By our
laws no such discrimination is made against British steamers bringing
letters into our ports, but all letters arriving in the United States
are subject to the same rate of postage, whether brought in British or
American vessels. I refer you to the report of the Postmaster-General
for a full statement of the facts of the case and of the steps taken by
him to correct this inequality. He has exerted all the power conferred
upon him by the existing laws.

The minister of the United States at London has brought the subject to
the attention of the British Government, and is now engaged in
negotiations for the purpose of adjusting reciprocal postal arrangements
which shall be equally just to both countries. Should he fail in
concluding such arrangements, and should Great Britain insist on
enforcing the unequal and unjust measure she has adopted, it will become
necessary to confer additional powers on the Postmaster-General in order
to enable him to meet the emergency and to put our own steamers on an
equal footing with British steamers engaged in transporting the mails
between the two countries, and I recommend that such powers be
conferred.

In view of the existing state of our country, I trust it may not be
inappropriate, in closing this communication, to call to mind the words
of wisdom and admonition of the first and most illustrious of my
predecessors in his Farewell Address to his countrymen.

That greatest and best of men, who served his country so long and loved
it so much, foresaw with "serious concern" the danger to our Union of
"characterizing parties by _geographical_ discriminations--_Northern_
and _Southern_, _Atlantic_ and _Western_--whence designing men may
endeavor to excite a belief that there is a real difference of local
interests and views," and warned his countrymen against it.

So deep and solemn was his conviction of the importance of the Union and
of preserving harmony between its different parts, that he declared to
his countrymen in that address:

It is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense
value of your national union to your collective and individual
happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable
attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of
the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its
preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest
even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned, and indignantly
frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion
of our country from the rest or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now
link together the various parts.

After the lapse of half a century these admonitions of Washington fall
upon us with all the force of truth. It _is_ difficult to estimate the
"immense value" of our glorious Union of confederated States, to which
we are so much indebted for our growth in population and wealth and for
all that constitutes us a great and a happy nation. How unimportant are
all our differences of opinion upon minor questions of public policy
compared with its preservation, and how scrupulously should we avoid all
agitating topics which may tend to distract and divide us into
contending parties, separated by geographical lines, whereby it may be
weakened or endangered.

Invoking the blessing of the Almighty Ruler of the Universe upon your
deliberations, it will be my highest duty, no less than my sincere
pleasure, to cooperate with you in all measures which may tend to
promote the honor and enduring welfare of our common country.

JAMES K. POLK.

SPECIAL MESSAGES.

WASHINGTON, _December 20, 1847_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I herewith communicate to the Senate, for their consideration and advice
with regard to its ratification, a convention between the United States
and the Swiss Confederation, signed in this city by their respective
plenipotentiaries on the 18th day of May last, for the mutual abolition
of the _droit d'aubaine_ and of taxes on emigration.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _December 21, 1847_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I submit herewith, for the consideration and constitutional action of
the Senate, two treaties with the Chippewa Indians of Lake Superior and
the Upper Mississippi, for a portion of the lands possessed by those
Indians west of the Mississippi River. The treaties are accompanied by
communications from the Secretary of War and Commissioner of Indian
Affairs, which fully explain their nature and objects.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _December 22, 1847_.

_To the Senate and House of Representatives_:

I communicate herewith a report of the Secretary of the Navy, containing
a statement of the measures which have been taken in execution of the
act of 3d March last, relating to the construction of floating dry docks
at Pensacola, Philadelphia, and Kittery.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _January 4, 1848_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

I communicate herewith a report of the Secretary of War, with
accompanying documents, being in addition to a report made on the 27th
of February, 1847, in answer to a resolution of the House of
Representatives of the 1st of that month, requesting the President "to
communicate to the House of Representatives all the correspondence with
General Taylor since the commencement of hostilities with Mexico which
has not yet been published, and the publication of which may not be
deemed detrimental to the public service; also the correspondence of the
Quartermaster-General in relation to transportation for General Taylor's
Army; also the reports of Brigadier-Generals Hamer and Quitman of the
operations of their respective brigades on the 21st of September last"
(1846).

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _January 12, 1848_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

I have carefully considered the resolution of the House of
Representatives of the 4th instant, requesting the President to
communicate to that House "any instructions which may have been given to
any of the officers of the Army or Navy of the United States, or other
persons, in regard to the return of President General Lopez de Santa
Anna, or any other Mexican, to the Republic of Mexico prior or
subsequent to the order of the President or Secretary of War issued in
January, 1846, for the march of the Army from the Nueces River, across
the 'stupendous deserts' which intervene, to the Rio Grande; that the
date of all such instructions, orders, and correspondence be set forth,
together with the instructions and orders issued to Mr. Slidell at any
time prior or subsequent to his departure for Mexico as minister
plenipotentiary of the United States to that Republic;" and requesting
the President also to "communicate all the orders and correspondence of
the Government in relation to the return of General Paredes to Mexico."

I transmit herewith reports from the Secretary of State, the Secretary
of War, and the Secretary of the Navy, with the documents accompanying
the same, which contain all the information in the possession of the
Executive which it is deemed compatible with the public interests to
communicate.

For further information relating to the return of Santa Anna to Mexico I
refer you to my annual message of December 8, 1846. The facts and
considerations stated in that message induced the order of the Secretary
of the Navy to the commander of our squadron in the Gulf of Mexico a
copy of which is herewith communicated. This order was issued
simultaneously with the order to blockade the coasts of Mexico, both
bearing date the 13th of May, 1846, the day on which the existence of
the war with Mexico was recognized by Congress. It was issued solely
upon the views of policy presented in that message, and without any
understanding on the subject, direct or indirect, with Santa Anna or any
other person.

General Paredes evaded the vigilance of our combined forces by land and
sea, and made his way back to Mexico from the exile into which he had
been driven, landing at Vera Cruz after that city and the castle of San
Juan de Ulloa were in our military occupation, as will appear from the
accompanying reports and documents.

The resolution calls for the "instructions and orders issued to Mr.
Slidell at any time prior or subsequent to his departure for Mexico as
minister plenipotentiary of the United States to that Republic." The
customary and usual reservation contained in calls of either House of
Congress upon the Executive for information relating to our intercourse
with foreign nations has been omitted in the resolution before me. The
call of the House is unconditional. It is that the information requested
be communicated, and thereby be made public, whether in the opinion of
the Executive (who is charged by the Constitution with the duty of
conducting negotiations with foreign powers) such information, when
disclosed, would be prejudicial to the public interest or not. It has
been a subject of serious deliberation with me whether I could,
consistently with my constitutional duty and my sense of the public
interests involved and to be affected by it, violate an important
principle, always heretofore held sacred by my predecessors, as I should
do by a compliance with the request of the House. President Washington,
in a message to the House of Representatives of the 30th of March, 1796,
declined to comply with a request contained in a resolution of that
body, to lay before them "a copy of the instructions to the minister of
the United States who negotiated the treaty with the King of Great
Britain, together with the correspondence and other documents relative
to that treaty, excepting such of the said papers as any existing
negotiation may render improper to be disclosed." In assigning his
reasons for declining to comply with the call he declared that--

The nature of foreign negotiations requires caution, and their success
must often depend on secrecy; and even when brought to a conclusion a
full disclosure of all the measures, demands, or eventual concessions
which may have been proposed or contemplated would be extremely
impolitic; for this might have a pernicious influence on future
negotiations, or produce immediate inconveniences, perhaps danger and
mischief, in relation to other powers. The necessity of such caution and
secrecy was one cogent reason for vesting the power of making treaties
in the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate, the
principle on which that body was formed confining it to a small number
of members. To admit, then, a right in the House of Representatives to
demand and to have as a matter of course all the papers respecting a
negotiation with a foreign power would be to establish a dangerous
precedent.

In that case the instructions and documents called for related to a
treaty which had been concluded and ratified by the President and
Senate, and the negotiations in relation to it had been terminated.
There was an express reservation, too, "excepting" from the call all
such papers as related to "any existing negotiations" which it might be
improper to disclose. In that case President Washington deemed it to be
a violation of an important principle, the establishment of a "dangerous
precedent," and prejudicial to the public interests to comply with the
call of the House. Without deeming it to be necessary on the present
occasion to examine or decide upon the other reasons assigned by him for
his refusal to communicate the information requested by the House, the
one which is herein recited is in my judgment conclusive in the case
under consideration.

Indeed, the objections to complying with the request of the House
contained in the resolution before me are much stronger than those which
existed in the case of the resolution in 1796. This resolution calls for
the "instructions and orders" to the minister of the United States to
Mexico which relate to negotiations which have not been terminated, and
which may be resumed. The information called for respects negotiations
which the United States offered to open with Mexico immediately
preceding the commencement of the existing war. The instructions given
to the minister of the United States relate to the differences between
the two countries out of which the war grew and the terms of adjustment
which we were prepared to offer to Mexico in our anxiety to prevent the
war. These differences still remain unsettled, and to comply with the
call of the House would be to make public through that channel, and to
communicate to Mexico, now a public enemy engaged in war, information
which could not fail to produce serious embarrassment in any future
negotiation between the two countries. I have heretofore communicated to
Congress all the correspondence of the minister of the United States to
Mexico which in the existing state of our relations with that Republic
can, in my judgment, be at this time communicated without serious injury
to the public interest.

Entertaining this conviction, and with a sincere desire to furnish any
information which may be in possession of the executive department, and
which either House of Congress may at any time request, I regard it to
be my constitutional right and my solemn duty under the circumstances of
this case to decline a compliance with the request of the House
contained in their resolution.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _January 21, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I herewith communicate to the Senate, for its consideration, a declaration
of the Government of the Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, bearing
date at the city of Schwerin on the 9th December, 1847, acceding
substantially to the stipulations of our treaty of commerce and
navigation with Hanover of the 10th June, 1846.

Under the twelfth article of this treaty--

The United States agree to extend all the advantages and privileges
contained in the stipulations of the present treaty to one or more of
the other States of the Germanic Confederation which may wish to accede
to them, by means of an official exchange of declarations, provided that
such State or States shall confer similar favors upon the said United
States to those conferred by the Kingdom of Hanover, and observe and be
subject to the same conditions, stipulations, and obligations.

This declaration of the Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin is submitted
to the Senate, because in its eighth and eleventh articles it is not the
same in terms with the corresponding articles of our treaty with
Hanover. The variations, however, are deemed unimportant, while the
admission of our "paddy," or rice in the husk, into Mecklenburg-Schwerin
free of import duty is an important concession not contained in the
Hanoverian treaty. Others might be mentioned, which will appear upon
inspection. Still, as the stipulations in the two articles just
mentioned in the declaration are not the same as those contained in the
corresponding articles of our treaty with Hanover, I deem it proper to
submit this declaration to the Senate for their consideration before
issuing a proclamation to give it effect.

I also communicate a dispatch from the special agent on the part of the
United States, which accompanied the declaration.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _January 24, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

In compliance with the request of the Senate in their resolution of the
13th instant, I herewith communicate a report from the Secretary of War,
with the accompanying correspondence, containing the information called
for, in relation to forced contributions in Mexico.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _January 31, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit herewith a report from the Secretary of War, containing the
information called for in the resolution of the Senate of the 20th
instant, in relation to General Orders, No. 376,[16] issued by General
Scott at headquarters, Mexico, bearing date the 15th December last.

JAMES K. POLK.

[Footnote 16: Relating to the levying of taxes and duties upon Mexican
products, etc., for the support of the United States Army in Mexico.]

WASHINGTON, _January 31, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I communicate herewith a report of the Secretary of War, with the
accompanying documents, in answer to the resolution of the Senate of the
24th instant, requesting to be furnished with "copies of the letters,
reports, or other communications which are referred to in the letter
of General Zachary Taylor dated at New Orleans, 20th July, 1845, and
addressed to the Secretary of War, and which are so referred to as
containing the views of General Taylor, previously communicated, in
regard to the line proper to be occupied at that time by the troops of
the United States; and any similar communication from any officer of the
Army on the same subject."

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _February 2, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

In answer to a resolution of the Senate of the 13th January, 1848,
calling for information on the subject of the negotiation between the
commissioner of the United States and the commissioners of Mexico during
the suspension of hostilities after the battles of Contreras and
Churubusco, I transmit a report from the Secretary of State and the
documents which accompany it.

I deem it proper to add that the invitation from the commissioner of the
United States to submit the proposition of boundary referred to in his
dispatch (No. 15) of the 4th of September, 1847, herewith communicated,
was unauthorized by me, and was promptly disapproved; and this
disapproval was communicated to the commissioner of the United States
with the least possible delay.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _February 3, 1848_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

In compliance with the request of the House of Representatives contained
in their resolution of the 31st of January, 1848, I communicate herewith
a report of the Secretary of War, transmitting "a copy of General
Taylor's answer[17] to the letter dated January 27, 1847," addressed to
him by the Secretary of War.

JAMES K. POLK.

[Footnote 17: Relating to the publication of a letter from General Taylor
to General Gaines concerning the operations of the United States forces
in Mexico.]

WASHINGTON, _February 8, 1848_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

In compliance with the resolution of the House of Representatives of the
31st January last, I communicate herewith the report of the Secretary of
State, accompanied by "the documents and correspondence not already
published relating to the final adjustment of the difficulties between
Great Britain and the United States concerning rough rice and paddy."

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _February 10, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

In answer to the resolution of the Senate of the 1st instant, requesting
to be informed whether "any taxes, duties, or imposts" have been "laid
and collected upon goods and merchandise belonging to citizens of the
United States exported by such citizens from the United States to
Mexico, and, if so, what is the rate of such duties, and what amount has
been collected, and also by what authority of law the same have been
laid and collected," I refer the Senate to my annual message of the 7th
of December last, in which I informed Congress that orders had been
given to our military and naval commanders in Mexico to adopt the
policy, as far as practicable, of levying military contributions upon
the enemy for the support of our Army.

As one of the modes adopted for levying such contributions, it was
stated in that message that--

On the 31st of March last I caused an order to be issued to our military
and naval commanders to levy and collect a military contribution upon
all vessels and merchandise which might enter any of the ports of Mexico
in our military occupation, and to apply such contributions toward
defraying the expenses of the war. By virtue of the right of conquest
and the laws of war, the conqueror, consulting his own safety or
convenience, may either exclude foreign commerce altogether from all
such ports or permit it upon such terms and conditions as he may
prescribe. Before the principal ports of Mexico were blockaded by our
Navy the revenue derived from import duties under the laws of Mexico was
paid into the Mexican treasury. After these ports had fallen into our
military possession the blockade was raised and commerce with them
permitted upon prescribed terms and conditions. They were opened to the
trade of all nations upon the payment of duties more moderate in their
amount than those which had been previously levied by Mexico, and the
revenue, which was formerly paid into the Mexican treasury, was directed
to be collected by our military and naval officers and applied to the
use of our Army and Navy. Care was taken that the officers, soldiers,
and sailors of our Army and Navy should be exempted from the operations
of the order, and, as the merchandise imported upon which the order
operated must be consumed by Mexican citizens, the contributions exacted
were in effect the seizure of the public revenues of Mexico and the
application of them to our own use. In directing this measure the object
was to compel the enemy to contribute as far as practicable toward the
expenses of the war.

A copy of the order referred to, with the documents accompanying it, has
been communicated to Congress.

The order operated upon the vessels and merchandise of all nations,
whether belonging to citizens of the United States or to foreigners,
arriving in any of the ports in Mexico in our military occupation. The
contributions levied were a tax upon Mexican citizens, who were the
consumers of the merchandise imported. But for the permit or license
granted by the order all vessels and merchandise belonging to citizens
of the United States were necessarily excluded from all commerce with
Mexico from the commencement of the war. The coasts and ports of Mexico
were ordered to be placed under blockade on the day Congress declared
the war to exist, and by the laws of nations the blockade applied to the
vessels of the United States as well as to the vessels of all other
nations. Had no blockade been declared, or had any of our merchant
vessels entered any of the ports of Mexico not blockaded, they would
have been liable to be seized and condemned as lawful prize by the
Mexican authorities. When the order was issued, it operated as a
privilege to the vessels of the United States as well as to those of
foreign countries to enter the ports held by our arms upon prescribed
terms and conditions. It was altogether optional with citizens of the
United States and foreigners to avail themselves of the privileges
granted upon the terms prescribed.

Citizens of the United States and foreigners have availed themselves of
these privileges.

No principle is better established than that a nation at war has the
right of shifting the burden off itself and imposing it on the enemy by
exacting military contributions. The mode of making such exactions must
be left to the discretion of the conqueror, but it should be exercised
in a manner conformable to the rules of civilized warfare.

The right to levy these contributions is essential to the successful
prosecution of war in an enemy's country, and the practice of nations
has been in accordance with this principle. It is as clearly necessary
as the right to fight battles, and its exercise is often essential to
the subsistence of the army.

Entertaining no doubt that the military right to exclude commerce
altogether from the ports of the enemy in our military occupation
included the minor right of admitting it under prescribed conditions,
it became an important question at the date of the order whether there
should be a discrimination between vessels and cargoes belonging to
citizens of the United States and vessels and cargoes belonging to
neutral nations.

Had the vessels and cargoes belonging to citizens of the United States
been admitted without the payment of any duty, while a duty was levied
on foreign vessels and cargoes, the object of the order would have been
defeated. The whole commerce would have been conducted in American
vessels, no contributions could have been collected, and the enemy would
have been furnished with goods without the exaction from him of any
contribution whatever, and would have been thus benefited by our
military occupation, instead of being made to feel the evils of the war.
In order to levy these contributions and to make them available for the
support of the Army, it became, therefore, absolutely necessary that
they should be collected upon imports into Mexican ports, whether in
vessels belonging to citizens of the United States or to foreigners.

It was deemed proper to extend the privilege to vessels and their
cargoes belonging to neutral nations. It has been my policy since the
commencement of the war with Mexico to act justly and liberally toward
all neutral nations, and to afford to them no just cause of complaint;
and we have seen the good consequences of this policy by the general
satisfaction which it has given.

In answer to the inquiry contained in the resolution as to the rates of
duties imposed, I refer you to the documents which accompanied my annual
message of the 7th of December last, which contain the information.

From the accompanying reports of the Secretary of War and the Secretary
of the Navy it will be seen that the contributions have been collected
on all vessels and cargoes, whether American or foreign; but the returns
to the Departments do not show with exactness the amounts collected on
American as distinguishable from foreign vessels and merchandise.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _February 10, 1848_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

In answer to the resolution of the House of Representatives of the 7th
instant, I transmit herewith a report from the Secretary of State.

No communication has been received from Mexico "containing propositions
from the Mexican authorities or commissioners for a treaty of peace,"
except the "counter projet" presented by the Mexican commissioners to
the commissioners of the United States on the 6th of September last,
a copy of which, with the documents accompanying it, I communicated
to the Senate of the United States on the 2d instant. A copy of my
communication to the Senate embracing this "projet" is herewith
communicated.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _February 14, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit, for the consideration of the Senate with a view to
ratification, a treaty of peace, friendship, commerce, and navigation
between the United States and the Republic of Peru, concluded and signed
in this city on the 9th instant by the Secretary of State and the
minister plenipotentiary of Peru, in behalf of their respective
Governments. I also transmit a copy of the correspondence between them
which led to the treaty.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _February 15, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I communicate herewith a report of the Secretary of War, together with
the accompanying report of the Adjutant-General, in answer to the
resolution of the Senate of the 7th instant, calling for information in
regard to the order or law by virtue of which certain words "in relation
to the promotion of cadets have been inserted in the Army Register of
the United States, page 45, in the year 1847."

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _February 22, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I lay before the Senate, for their consideration and advice as to its
ratification, a treaty of peace, friendship, limits, and settlement,
signed at the city of Guadalupe Hidalgo on the 2d day of February, 1848,
by N.P. Trist on the part of the United States, and by plenipotentiaries
appointed for that purpose on the part of the Mexican Government.

I deem it to be my duty to state that the recall of Mr. Trist as
commissioner of the United States, of which Congress was informed in my
annual message, was dictated by a belief that his continued presence
with the Army could be productive of no good, but might do much harm by
encouraging the delusive hopes and false impressions of the Mexicans,
and that his recall would satisfy Mexico that the United States had no
terms of peace more favorable to offer. Directions were given that any
propositions for peace which Mexico might make should be received and
transmitted by the commanding general of our forces to the United
States.

It was not expected that Mr. Trist would remain in Mexico or continue in
the exercise of the functions of the office of commissioner after he
received his letter of recall. He has, however, done so, and the
plenipotentiaries of the Government of Mexico, with a knowledge of the
fact, have concluded with him this treaty. I have examined it with a
full sense of the extraneous circumstances attending its conclusion and
signature, which might be objected to, but conforming as it does
substantially on the main questions of boundary and indemnity to the
terms which our commissioner, when he left the United States in April
last, was authorized to offer, and animated as I am by the spirit which
has governed all my official conduct toward Mexico, I have felt it to be
my duty to submit it to the Senate for their consideration with a view
to its ratification.

To the tenth article of the treaty there are serious objections, and no
instructions given to Mr. Trist contemplated or authorized its
insertion. The public lands within the limits of Texas belong to that
State, and this Government has no power to dispose of them or to change
the conditions of grants already made. All valid titles to lands within
the other territories ceded to the United States will remain unaffected
by the change of sovereignty; and I therefore submit that this article
should not be ratified as a part of the treaty.

There may be reason to apprehend that the ratification of the
"additional and secret article" might unreasonably delay and embarrass
the final action on the treaty by Mexico. I therefore submit whether
that article should not be rejected by the Senate.

If the treaty shall be ratified as proposed to be amended, the cessions
of territory made by it to the United States as indemnity, the provision
for the satisfaction of the claims of our injured citizens, and the
permanent establishment of the boundary of one of the States of the
Union are objects gained of great national importance, while the
magnanimous forbearance exhibited toward Mexico, it is hoped, may insure
a lasting peace and good neighborhood between the two countries.

I communicate herewith a copy of the instructions given to Mr. Slidell
in November, 1845, as envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary
to Mexico; a copy of the instructions given to Mr. Trist in April last,
and such of the correspondence of the latter with the Department of
State, not heretofore communicated to Congress, as will enable the
Senate to understand the action which has been had with a view to the
adjustment of our difficulties with Mexico.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _February 28, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

In answer to the resolution of the Senate of the 24th instant,
requesting to be informed whether the active operations of the Army of
the United States in Mexico have been, and now are, suspended, and, if
so, by whose agency and in virtue of what authority such armistice has
been effected, I have to state that I have received no information
relating to the subject other than that communicated to the Senate with
my executive message of the 22d instant.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _February 29, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

In compliance with the resolution of the Senate passed in "executive
session" on yesterday, requesting the President "to communicate to the
Senate, _in confidence_, the entire correspondence between Mr. Trist and
the Mexican commissioners from the time of his arrival in Mexico until
the time of the negotiation of the treaty submitted to the Senate; and
also the entire correspondence between Mr. Trist and the Secretary of
State in relation to his negotiations with the Mexican commissioners;
also all the correspondence between General Scott and the Government and
between General Scott and Mr. Trist since the arrival of Mr. Trist in
Mexico which may be in the possession of the Government," I transmit
herewith the correspondence called for. These documents are very
voluminous, and presuming that the Senate desired them in reference to
early action on the treaty with Mexico submitted to the consideration of
that body by my message of the 22d instant, the originals of several of
the letters of Mr. Trist are herewith, communicated, in order to save
the time which would necessarily be required to make copies of them.
These original letters, it is requested, may be returned when the Senate
shall have no further use for them.

The letters of Mr. Trist to the Secretary of State, and especially such
of them as bear date subsequent to the receipt by him of his letter of
recall as commissioner, it will be perceived, contain much matter that
is impertinent, irrelevant, and highly exceptionable. Four of these
letters, bearing date, respectively, the 29th December, 1847, January
12, January 22, and January 25, 1848, have been received since the
treaty was submitted to the Senate. In the latter it is stated that the
Mexican commissioners who signed the treaty derived "their full powers,
bearing date on the 30th December, 1847, from the President _ad interim_
of the Republic (General Anaya), constitutionally elected to that office
in November by the Sovereign Constituent Congress" of Mexico. It is
impossible that I can approve the conduct of Mr. Trist in disobeying the
positive orders of his Government contained in the letter recalling him,
or do otherwise than condemn much of the matter with which he has chosen
to encumber his voluminous correspondence. Though all of his acts since
his recall might have been disavowed by his Government, yet Mexico can
take no such exception. The treaty which the Mexican commissioners have
negotiated with him, with a full knowledge on their part that he had
been recalled from his mission, _is_ binding on Mexico.

Looking at the actual condition of Mexico, and believing that if the
present treaty be rejected the war will probably be continued at great
expense of life and treasure for an indefinite period, and considering
that the terms, with the exceptions mentioned in my message of the 22d
instant, conform substantially, so far as relates to the main question
of boundary, to those authorized by me in April last, I considered it to
be my solemn duty to the country, uninfluenced by the exceptionable
conduct of Mr. Trist, to submit the treaty to the Senate with a
recommendation that it be ratified, with the modifications suggested.

Nothing contained in the letters received from Mr. Trist since it was
submitted to the Senate has changed my opinion on the subject.

The resolution also calls for "all the correspondence between General
Scott and the Government since the arrival of Mr. Trist in Mexico." A
portion of that correspondence, relating to Mr. Trist and his mission,
accompanies this communication. The remainder of the "correspondence
between General Scott and the Government" relates mainly, if not
exclusively, to military operations. A part of it was communicated to
Congress with my annual message, and the whole of it will be sent to the
Senate if it shall be desired by that body. As coming within the purview
of the resolution, I also communicate copies of the letters of the
Secretary of War to Major-General Butler in reference to Mr. Trist's
remaining at the headquarters of the Army in the assumed exercise of his
powers of commissioner.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _March 2, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

In answer to a resolution of the Senate of the 3d of January, 1848, I
communicate herewith a report from the Secretary of State, with the
accompanying documents, containing the correspondence of Mr. Wise, late
minister of the United States at the Court of Brazil, relating to the
subject of the slave trade.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _March 2, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I communicate herewith a report of the Secretary of War, with the
accompanying documents, in answer to the resolution of the Senate of the
28th February, 1848, requesting the President to communicate "any
information he may at any time have received of the desire of any
considerable portion of the people of any of the States of Mexico to be
incorporated within the limits of any territory to be acquired from the
Republic of Mexico, and particularly that he communicate any late
proposition which has been made to that effect through General Wool or
any other military officer in Mexico."

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _March 7, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I lay before the Senate a letter of the 12th February, 1848, from N.P.
Trist, together with the authenticated map of the United Mexican States
and of the plan of the port of San Diego, referred to in the fifth
article of the treaty "of peace, friendship, limits, and settlement
between the United States of America and the Mexican Republic," which
treaty was transmitted to the Senate with my message of the 22d ultimo.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _March 8, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

In answer to the resolution of the Senate of this date, requesting the
President "to inform the Senate of the terms of the authority given to
Mr. Trist to draw for the $3,000,000 authorized by the act of the 2d of
March, 1847," I communicate herewith a report from the Secretary of
State, with the accompanying documents, which contain the information
called for.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _March 8, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

In answer to the resolution of the Senate of this date, requesting the
President to communicate to that body, "confidentially, any additional
dispatches which may have been received from Mr. Trist, and especially
those which are promised by him in his letter to Mr. Buchanan of the 2d
of February last, if the same have been received," I have to state that
all the dispatches which have been received from Mr. Trist have been
heretofore communicated to the Senate.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _March 10, 1848_.

_To the House of Representatives_:

I transmit herewith reports from the Secretary of State and the
Secretary of War, with the accompanying documents, in compliance with
the resolution of the House of Representatives of the 7th February,
1848, requesting the President to communicate to that House "copies of
all correspondence between the Secretary of War and Major-General Scott,
and between the Secretary of War and Major-General Taylor, and between
Major-General Scott and N.P. Trist, late commissioner of the United
States to Mexico, and between the latter and Secretary of State, which
has not heretofore been published, and the publication of which may not
be incompatible with the public interest."

JAMES K. POLK.

_To the House of Representatives_:

I communicate herewith a copy of the constitution of State government
formed by a convention of the people of the Territory of Wisconsin in
pursuance of the act of Congress of August 6, 1846, entitled "An act to
enable the people of Wisconsin Territory to form a constitution and
State government, and for the admission of such State into the Union."

I communicate also the documents accompanying the constitution, which
have been transmitted to me by the president of the convention.

JAMES K. POLK.

MARCH 16, 1848.

WASHINGTON, _March 18, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

Sudden and severe indisposition has prevented, and may for an indefinite
period continue to prevent, Ambrose H. Sevier, recently appointed
commissioner to Mexico, from departing on his mission. The public
interest requires that a diplomatic functionary should proceed without
delay to Mexico, bearing with him the treaty between the United States
and the Mexican Republic, lately ratified, with amendments, by and with
the advice and consent of the Senate of the United States. It is deemed
proper, with this view, to appoint an associate commissioner, with full
powers to act separately or jointly with Mr. Sevier.

I therefore nominate Nathan Clifford, of the State of Maine, to be a
commissioner, with the rank of envoy extraordinary and minister
plenipotentiary, of the United States to the Mexican Republic.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _March 22, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit herewith a report from the Secretary of State, with the
accompanying documents, in compliance with the resolution of the Senate
of the 24th January, 1848, requesting the President to communicate to
the Senate, if not inconsistent with the public interest, the
correspondence of Mr. Wise, late minister of the United States at the
Court of Brazil, with the Department of State of the United States.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _March 24, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

In answer to the resolution of the Senate of the 17th instant,
requesting the President to transmit to that body "a copy of a dispatch
to the United States consul at Monterey, T.O. Larkin, esq., forwarded in
November, 1845, by Captain Gillespie, of the Marine Corps, and which was
by him destroyed before entering the port of Vera Cruz, if a
communication of the same be not, in his opinion, incompatible with the
public interests," I communicate herewith a report of the Secretary of
State, with a copy of the dispatch referred to. The resolution of the
Senate appears to have been passed in legislative session. Entertaining
the opinion that the publication of this dispatch at this time will not
be "compatible with the public interests," but unwilling to withhold
from the Senate information deemed important by that body, I communicate
a copy of it to the Senate in executive session.

JAMES K. POLK.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

I transmit herewith a report from the Secretary of State, with the
accompanying documents, in compliance with the resolution of the House
of Representatives of the 8th instant, calling for "any correspondence
which may have recently taken place with the British Government relative
to the adoption of principles of reciprocity in the trade and shipping
of the two countries."

JAMES K. POLK.

MARCH 24, 1848.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit herewith a report of the Secretary of State, with
accompanying documents, in compliance with the resolution of the Senate
of the 17th instant, requesting the President to communicate to that
body "copies of the correspondence between the minister of the United
States at London and any authorities of the British Government in
relation to a postal arrangement between the two countries."

JAMES K. POLK.

MARCH 27, 1848.

WASHINGTON, _April 3, 1848_.

_To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States_:

I communicate to Congress, for their information, a copy of a dispatch,
with the accompanying documents, received at the Department of State
from the envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of the United
States at Paris, giving official information of the overthrow of the
French Monarchy, and the establishment in its stead of a "provisional
government based on republican principles."

This great event occurred suddenly, and was accomplished almost without
bloodshed. The world has seldom witnessed a more interesting or sublime
spectacle than the peaceful rising of the French people, resolved to
secure for themselves enlarged liberty, and to assert, in the majesty of
their strength, the great truth that in this enlightened age man is
capable of governing himself.

The prompt recognition of the new Government by the representative of
the United States at the French Court meets my full and unqualified
approbation, and he has been authorized in a suitable manner to make
known this fact to the constituted authorities of the French Republic.

Called upon to act upon a sudden emergency, which could not have been
anticipated by his instructions, he judged rightly of the feelings and
sentiments of his Government and of his countrymen, when, in advance of
the diplomatic representatives of other countries, he was the first to
recognize, so far as it was in his power, the free Government
established by the French people.

The policy of the United States has ever been that of nonintervention in
the domestic affairs of other countries, leaving to each to establish
the form of government of its own choice. While this wise policy will be
maintained toward France, now suddenly transformed from a monarchy into
a republic, all our sympathies are naturally enlisted on the side of a
great people who, imitating our example, have resolved to be free. That
such sympathy should exist on the part of the people of the United
States with the friends of free government in every part of the world,
and especially in France, is not remarkable. We can never forget that
France was our early friend in our eventful Revolution, and generously
aided us in shaking off a foreign yoke and becoming a free and
independent people.

We have enjoyed the blessings of our system of well-regulated
self-government for near three-fourths of a century, and can properly
appreciate its value. Our ardent and sincere congratulations are
extended to the patriotic people of France upon their noble and thus far
successful efforts to found for their future government liberal
institutions similar to our own.

It is not doubted that under the benign influence of free institutions
the enlightened statesmen of republican France will find it to be for
her true interests and permanent glory to cultivate with the United
States the most liberal principles of international intercourse and
commercial reciprocity, whereby the happiness and prosperity of both
nations will be promoted.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _April 7, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

In answer to a resolution of the Senate of the 29th of March, 1848,
I transmit herewith a report of the Secretary of War, with the
accompanying documents, containing the information called for, relative
to the services of Captain McClellan's company of Florida volunteers in
the year 1840.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _April 7, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I communicate herewith a report of the Secretary of War, transmitting a
copy of the proceedings of the general court-martial in the case of
Lieutenant-Colonel Fremont, called for by a resolution of the Senate of
the 29th February, 1848.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _April 10, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I communicate herewith a report of the Secretary of State, together with
a copy of the correspondence between the Secretary of State and "the
Brazilian charge d'affaires at Washington," called for by the resolution
of the Senate of the 28th of March, 1848.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _April 13, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

In answer to the resolution of the Senate of the 28th of March, 1848, I
communicate herewith a report of the Secretary of War, transmitting a
report of the head of the Ordnance Bureau, with the accompanying papers,
relative to "the repeating firearms invented by Samuel Colt."

Such is the favorable opinion entertained of the value of this arm,
particularly for a mounted corps, that the Secretary of War, as will be
seen by his report, has contracted with Mr. Colt for 2,000 of his
pistols. He has offered to contract for an additional number at liberal
prices, but the inventor is unwilling to furnish them at the prices
offered.

The invention for the construction of these arms being patented, the
United States can not manufacture them at the Government armories
without a previous purchase of the right so to do. The right to use his
patent by the United States the inventor is unwilling to dispose of at a
price deemed reasonable.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _April 25, 1848_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

I communicate herewith a report of the Secretary of War, with
accompanying documents, submitted by him as embracing the papers and the
correspondence[18] between the Secretary of War and Major-General Scott,
called for by the resolution of the House of Representatives of the 17th
instant.

JAMES K. POLK.

[Footnote 18: Relating to the conduct of the war in Mexico and the
recall of General Scott from the command of the Army.]

WASHINGTON, _April 29, 1848_.

_To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States_:

I submit for the consideration of Congress several communications
received at the Department of State from Mr. Justo Sierra, commissioner
of Yucatan, and also a communication from the Governor of that State,
representing the condition of extreme suffering to which their country
has been reduced by an insurrection of the Indians within its limits,
and asking the aid of the United States.

These communications present a case of human suffering and misery which
can not fail to excite the sympathies of all civilized nations. From
these and other sources of information it appears that the Indians of
Yucatan are waging a war of extermination against the white race. In
this civil war they spare neither age nor sex, but put to death,
indiscriminately, all who fall within their power. The inhabitants,
panic stricken and destitute of arms, are flying before their savage
pursuers toward the coast, and their expulsion from their country or
their extermination would seem to be inevitable unless they can obtain
assistance from abroad.

In this condition they have, through their constituted authorities,
implored the aid of this Government to save them from destruction,
offering in case this should be granted to transfer the "dominion and
sovereignty of the peninsula" to the United States. Similar appeals for
aid and protection have been made to the Spanish and the English
Governments.

Whilst it is not my purpose to recommend the adoption of any measure
with a view to the acquisition of the "dominion and sovereignty" over
Yucatan, yet, according to our established policy, we could not consent
to a transfer of this "dominion and sovereignty" either to Spain, Great
Britain, or any other European power. In the language of President
Monroe in his message of December, 1823--

We should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to
any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety.

In my annual message of December, 1845, I declared that--

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.

Our own security requires that the established policy thus announced
should guide our conduct, and this applies with great force to the
peninsula of Yucatan. It is situate in the Gulf of Mexico, on the North
American continent, and, from its vicinity to Cuba, to the capes of
Florida, to New Orleans, and, indeed, to our whole southwestern coast,
it would be dangerous to our peace and security if it should become a
colony of any European nation.

We have now authentic information that if the aid asked from the United
States be not granted such aid will probably be obtained from some
European power, which may hereafter assert a claim to "dominion and
sovereignty" over Yucatan.

Our existing relations with Yucatan are of a peculiar character, as will
be perceived from the note of the Secretary of State to their
commissioner dated on the 24th of December last, a copy of which is
herewith transmitted. Yucatan has never declared her independence, and
we treated her as a State of the Mexican Republic. For this reason we
have never officially received her commissioner; but whilst this is the
case, we have to a considerable extent recognized her as a neutral in
our war with Mexico. Whilst still considering Yucatan as a portion of
Mexico, if we had troops to spare for this purpose I would deem it
proper, during the continuance of the war with Mexico, to occupy and
hold military possession of her territory and to defend the white
inhabitants against the incursions of the Indians, in the same way that
we have employed our troops in other States of the Mexican Republic in
our possession in repelling the attacks of savages upon the inhabitants
who have maintained their neutrality in the war. But, unfortunately, we
can not at the present time, without serious danger, withdraw our forces
from other portions of the Mexican territory now in our occupation and
send them to Yucatan. All that can be done under existing circumstances
is to employ our naval forces in the Gulf not required at other points
to afford them relief; but it is not to be expected that any adequate
protection can thus be afforded, as the operations of such naval forces
must of necessity be confined to the coast.

I have considered it proper to communicate the information contained in
the accompanying correspondence, and I submit to the wisdom of Congress
to adopt such measures as in their judgment may be expedient to prevent
Yucatan from becoming a colony of any European power, which in no event
could be permitted by the United States, and at the same time to rescue
the white race from extermination or expulsion from their country.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _May 5, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I communicate herewith a report from the Secretary of State, together
with the correspondence "between the Secretary of State and Don Justo
Sierra, the representative of Yucatan," called for by the resolution of
the Senate of the 4th instant.

I communicate also additional documents relating to the same subject.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _May 8, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I communicate herewith a report of the Secretary of War, together with
the accompanying documents, in compliance with the resolution of the
Senate of the 25th April, requesting the President to cause to be sent
to the Senate a copy of the opinion of the Attorney-General, with copies
of the accompanying papers, on the claim made by the Choctaw Indians for
$5,000, with interest thereon from the date of the transfer, being the
difference between the cost of the stock and the par value thereof
transferred to them by the Chickasaws under the convention of the 17th
of January, 1837.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _May 9, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

In answer to the resolution of the Senate of the 8th instant, requesting
further information in relation to the condition of Yucatan, I transmit
herewith a report of the Secretary of the Navy, with the accompanying
copies of communications from officers of the Navy on the subject.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _May 9, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I herewith communicate to the Senate, for their consideration with a
view to its ratification, a convention for the extension of certain
stipulations[19] contained in the treaty of commerce and navigation of
August 27, 1829, between the United States and Austria, concluded and
signed in this city on the 8th instant by the respective
plenipotentiaries.

JAMES K. POLK.

[Footnote 19: Relating to disposal of property, etc.]

WASHINGTON, _May 15, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I communicate herewith a report from the Secretary of the Navy, together
with the accompanying documents, in compliance with the resolution of
the Senate of the 13th instant, requesting information as to the
measures taken for the protection of the white population of Yucatan by
the naval forces of the United States.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _May 19, 1848_.

_To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States_:

I transmit for the information of Congress a communication from the
Secretary of War and a report from the Commissioner of Indian Affairs,
showing the result of the settlement required by the treaty of August,
1846, with the Cherokees, and the appropriations requisite to carry the
provisions of that treaty into effect.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _May 29, 1848_.

_To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States_:

I lay before Congress the accompanying memorial and papers, which have
been transmitted to me, by a special messenger employed for that
purpose, by the governor and legislative assembly of Oregon Territory,
who constitute the temporary government which the inhabitants of that
distant region of our country have, from the necessity of their
condition, organized for themselves. The memorialists are citizens of
the United States. They express ardent attachment to their native land,
and in their present perilous and distressed situation they earnestly
invoke the aid and protection of their Government.

They represent that "the proud and powerful tribes of Indians" residing
in their vicinity have recently raised "the war whoop and crimsoned
their tomahawks in the blood of their citizens;" that they apprehend
that "many of the powerful tribes inhabiting the upper valley of the
Columbia have formed an alliance for the purpose of carrying on
hostilities against their settlements;" that the number of the white
population is far inferior to that of the savages; that they are
deficient in arms and money, and fear that they do not possess strength
to repel the "attack of so formidable a foe and protect their families
and property from violence and rapine." They conclude their appeal to
the Government of the United States for relief by declaring:

If it be at all the intention of our honored parent to spread her
guardian wing over her sons and daughters in Oregon, she surely will not
refuse to do it now, when they are struggling with all the ills of a
weak and temporary government, and when perils are daily thickening
around them and preparing to burst upon their heads. When the ensuing
summer's sun shall have dispelled the snow from the mountains, we shall
look with glowing hope and restless anxiety for the coming of your laws
and your arms.

In my message of the 5th of August, 1846, communicating "a copy of the
convention for the settlement and adjustment of the Oregon boundary,"
I recommended to Congress that "provision should be made by law, at
the earliest practicable period, for the organization of a Territorial
government in Oregon." In my annual message of December, 1846, and again
in December, 1847, this recommendation was repeated.

The population of Oregon is believed to exceed 12,000 souls, and it is
known that it will be increased by a large number of emigrants during
the present season. The facts set forth in the accompanying memorial and
papers show that the dangers to which our fellow-citizens are exposed
are so imminent that I deem it to be my duty again to impress on
Congress the strong claim which the inhabitants of that distant country
have to the benefit of our laws and to the protection of our Government.

I therefore again invite the attention of Congress to the subject, and
recommend that laws be promptly passed establishing a Territorial
government and granting authority to raise an adequate volunteer force
for the defense and protection of its inhabitants. It is believed that a
regiment of mounted men, with such additional force as may be raised in
Oregon, will be sufficient to afford the required protection. It is
recommended that the forces raised for this purpose should engage to
serve for twelve months, unless sooner discharged. No doubt is
entertained that, with proper inducements in land bounties, such a force
can be raised in a short time. Upon the expiration of their service many
of them will doubtless desire to remain in the country and settle upon
the land which they may receive as bounty. It is deemed important that
provision be made for the appointment of a suitable number of Indian
agents to reside among the various tribes in Oregon, and that
appropriations be made to enable them to treat with these tribes with a
view to restore and preserve peace between them and the white
inhabitants.

Should the laws recommended be promptly passed, the measures for their
execution may be completed during the present season, and before the
severity of winter will interpose obstacles in crossing the Rocky
Mountains. If not promptly passed, a delay of another year will be the
consequence, and may prove destructive to the white settlements in
Oregon.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _May 31, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit herewith reports from the Secretary of State and the
Secretary of the Navy, with the accompanying correspondence, which
contains the information called for by the Senate in their resolution of
the 30th instant, relating to the existing condition of affairs in
Yucatan.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _June 12, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I communicate herewith a report of the Secretary of State, together with
the accompanying documents, in compliance with the resolution of the
Senate of the 31st ultimo, "requesting the President to communicate the
correspondence not heretofore communicated between the Secretary of
State and the minister of the United States at Paris since the recent
change in the Government of France."

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _June 23, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I communicate herewith a report of the Secretary of War, with the
accompanying documents, in answer to a resolution of the Senate of the
21st instant, requesting the President to communicate to the Senate, in
executive session, as early as practicable, the papers heretofore in the
possession of the Senate and returned to the War Department, together
with a statement from the Adjutant-General of the Army as to the merits
or demerits of the claim of James W. Schaumburg to be restored to rank
in the Army.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _July 5, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I submit herewith, for such action as the Senate shall deem proper, a
report of the Secretary of War, suggesting a discrepancy between the
resolutions of the Senate of the 15th and the 27th ultimo, advising and
consenting to certain appointments and promotions in the Army of the
United States.

JAMES K. POLK.

WAR DEPARTMENT,

_Washington, July 1, 1848_.

The PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

SIR: I have the honor to submit herewith a report from the
Adjutant-General of the Army, inviting attention to a difficulty arising
from the terms of certain confirmations made by the resolutions of the
Senate of the 15th and 27th ultimo, the former advising and consenting
to the reappointment of Captain Edward Deas, Fourth Artillery, who had
been dismissed the service, and the latter advising and consenting to
the promotion of First Lieutenant Joseph Roberts to be captain, _vice_
Deas, dismissed, and Second Lieutenant John A. Brown to be first
lieutenant, _vice_ Roberts, promoted.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

W.L. MARCY,
_Secretary of War_.

ADJUTANT-GENERAL'S OFFICE,
_Washington, June 29, 1848_.

Hon. W.L. MARCY,
_Secretary of War_.

SIR: In a list of confirmations of regular promotions just received from
the Senate, dated the 27th instant, it is observed, under the heading
"Fourth Regiment of Artillery," that First Lieutenant Joseph Roberts is
confirmed as a captain, _vice_ Deas, dismissed, and Second Lieutenant
John A. Brown as first lieutenant, _vice_ Roberts, promoted.

The President, having decided to reinstate Captain Deas, nominated him
for restoration to the Senate the 12th instant, withdrawing, as the
records show, at the same time the names of Lieutenants Roberts and
Brown. This nomination of Captain Deas was confirmed the 15th of June,
and he has been commissioned accordingly. I respectfully bring this
matter to your notice under the impression that as the resolutions of
June 15 and June 27 conflict with each other it may be the wish of the
Senate to reconcile them by rescinding that portion of the latter which
advises and consents to the promotions of Lieutenants Roberts and Brown.

Respectfully submitted.

R. JONES,
_Adjutant-General_.

WASHINGTON, _July 6, 1848_.

_To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States_:

I lay before Congress copies of a treaty of peace, friendship, limits,
and settlement between the United States and the Mexican Republic, the
ratifications of which were duly exchanged at the city of Queretaro, in
Mexico, on the 30th day of May, 1848.

The war in which our country was reluctantly involved, in the necessary
vindication of the national rights and honor, has been thus terminated,
and I congratulate Congress and our common constituents upon the
restoration of an honorable peace.

The extensive and valuable territories ceded by Mexico to the United
States constitute indemnity for the past, and the brilliant achievements
and signal successes of our arms will be a guaranty of security for the
future, by convincing all nations that our rights must be respected. The
results of the war with Mexico have given to the United States a
national character abroad which our country never before enjoyed. Our
power and our resources have become known and are respected throughout
the world, and we shall probably be saved from the necessity of engaging
in another foreign war for a long series of years. It is a subject of
congratulation that we have passed through a war of more than two years'
duration with the business of the country uninterrupted, with our
resources unexhausted, and the public credit unimpaired.

I communicate for the information of Congress the accompanying documents
and correspondence, relating to the negotiation and ratification of the
treaty.

Before the treaty can be fully executed on the part of the United States
legislation will be required.

It will be proper to make the necessary appropriations for the payment
of the $12,000,000 stipulated by the twelfth article to be paid to
Mexico in four equal annual installments. Three million dollars were
appropriated by the act of March 3, 1847, and that sum was paid to the
Mexican Government after the exchange of the ratifications of the
treaty.

The fifth article of the treaty provides that--

In order to designate the boundary line with due precision upon
authoritative maps, and to establish upon the ground landmarks which
shall show the limits of both Republics as described in the present
article, the two Governments shall each appoint a commissioner and a
surveyor, who, before the expiration of one year from the date of the
exchange of ratifications of this treaty, shall meet at the port of San
Diego and proceed to run and mark the said boundary in its whole course
to the mouth of the Rio Bravo del Norte.

It will be necessary that provision should be made by law for the
appointment of a commissioner and surveyor on the part of the United
States to act in conjunction with a commissioner and surveyor appointed
by Mexico in executing the stipulations of this article.

It will be proper also to provide by law for the appointment of a "board
of commissioners" to adjudicate and decide upon all claims of our
citizens against the Mexican Government, which by the treaty have been
assumed by the United States.

New Mexico and Upper California have been ceded by Mexico to the United
States, and now constitute a part of our country. Embracing nearly ten
degrees of latitude, lying adjacent to the Oregon Territory, and
extending from the Pacific Ocean to the Rio Grande, a mean distance of
nearly 1,000 miles, it would be difficult to estimate the value of these
possessions to the United States. They constitute of themselves a
country large enough for a great empire, and their acquisition is second
only in importance to that of Louisiana in 1803. Rich in mineral and
agricultural resources, with a climate of great salubrity, they embrace
the most important ports on the whole Pacific coast of the continent of
North America. The possession of the ports of San Diego and Monterey and
the Bay of San Francisco will enable the United States to command the
already valuable and rapidly increasing commerce of the Pacific. The
number of our whale ships alone now employed in that sea exceeds 700,
requiring more than 20,000 seamen to navigate them, while the capital
invested in this particular branch of commerce is estimated at not less
than $40,000,000. The excellent harbors of Upper California will under
our flag afford security and repose to our commercial marine, and
American mechanics will soon furnish ready means of shipbuilding and
repair, which are now so much wanted in that distant sea.

By the acquisition of these possessions we are brought into immediate
proximity with the west coast of America, from Cape Horn to the Russian
possessions north of Oregon, with the islands of the Pacific Ocean, and
by a direct voyage in steamers we will be in less than thirty days of
Canton and other ports of China.

In this vast region, whose rich resources are soon to be developed by
American energy and enterprise, great must be the augmentation of our
commerce, and with it new and profitable demands for mechanic labor in
all its branches and new and valuable markets for our manufactures and
agricultural products.

While the war has been conducted with great humanity and forbearance and
with complete success on our part, the peace has been concluded on terms
the most liberal and magnanimous to Mexico. In her hands the territories
now ceded had remained, and, it is believed, would have continued to
remain, almost unoccupied, and of little value to her or to any other
nation, whilst as a part of our Union they will be productive of vast
benefits to the United States, to the commercial world, and the general
interests of mankind.

The immediate establishment of Territorial governments and the extension
of our laws over these valuable possessions are deemed to be not only
important, but indispensable to preserve order and the due
administration of justice within their limits, to afford protection to
the inhabitants, and to facilitate the development of the vast resources
and wealth which their acquisition has added to our country.

The war with Mexico having terminated, the power of the Executive to
establish or to continue temporary civil governments over these
territories, which existed under the laws of nations whilst they were
regarded as conquered provinces in our military occupation, has ceased.
By their cession to the United States Mexico has no longer any power
over them, and until Congress shall act the inhabitants will be without
any organized government. Should they be left in this condition,
confusion and anarchy will be likely to prevail.

Foreign commerce to a considerable amount is now carried on in the ports
of Upper California, which will require to be regulated by our laws. As
soon as our system shall be extended over this commerce, a revenue of
considerable amount will be at once collected, and it is not doubted
that it will be annually increased. For these and other obvious reasons
I deem it to be my duty earnestly to recommend the action of Congress on
the subject at the present session.

In organizing governments over these territories, fraught with such vast
advantages to every portion of our Union, I invoke that spirit of
concession, conciliation, and compromise in your deliberations in which
the Constitution was framed, in which it should be administered, and
which is so indispensable to preserve and perpetuate the harmony and
union of the States. We should never forget that this Union of
confederated States was established and cemented by kindred blood and by
the common toils, sufferings, dangers, and triumphs of all its parts,
and has been the ever-augmenting source of our national greatness and of
all our blessings.

There has, perhaps, been no period since the warning so impressively
given to his countrymen by Washington to guard against geographical
divisions and sectional parties which appeals with greater force than
the present to the patriotic, sober-minded, and reflecting of all
parties and of all sections of our country. Who can calculate the value
of our glorious Union? It is a model and example of free government to
all the world, and is the star of hope and haven of rest to the
oppressed of every clime. By its preservation we have been rapidly
advanced as a nation to a height of strength, power, and happiness
without a parallel in the history of the world. As we extend its
blessings over new regions, shall we be so unwise as to endanger its
existence by geographical divisions and dissensions?

With a view to encourage the early settlement of these distant
possessions, I recommend that liberal grants of the public lands be
secured to all our citizens who have settled or may in a limited period
settle within their limits.

In execution of the provisions of the treaty, orders have been issued to
our military and naval forces to evacuate without delay the Mexican
Provinces, cities, towns, and fortified places in our military
occupation, and which are not embraced in the territories ceded to the
United States. The Army is already on its way to the United States. That
portion of it, as well regulars as volunteers, who engaged to serve
during the war with Mexico will be discharged as soon as they can be
transported or marched to convenient points in the vicinity of their
homes. A part of the Regular Army will be employed in New Mexico and
Upper California to afford protection to the inhabitants and to guard
our interests in these territories.

The old Army, as it existed before the commencement of the war with
Mexico, especially if authority be given to fill up the rank and file of
the several corps to the maximum number authorized during the war, it is
believed, will be a sufficient force to be retained in service during a
period of peace. A few additional officers in the line and staff of the
Army have been authorized, and these, it is believed, will be necessary
in the peace establishment, and should be retained in the service.

The number of the general officers may be reduced, as vacancies occur by
the casualties of the service, to what it was before the war.

While the people of other countries who live under forms of government
less free than our own have been for ages oppressed by taxation to
support large standing armies in periods of peace, our experience has
shown that such establishments are unnecessary in a republic. Our
standing army is to be found in the bosom of society. It is composed of
free citizens, who are ever ready to take up arms in the service of
their country when an emergency requires it. Our experience in the war
just closed fully confirms the opinion that such an army may be raised
upon a few weeks' notice, and that our citizen soldiers are equal to any
troops in the world. No reason, therefore, is perceived why we should
enlarge our land forces and thereby subject the Treasury to an annual
increased charge. Sound policy requires that we should avoid the
creation of a large standing army in a period of peace. No public
exigency requires it. Such armies are not only expensive and
unnecessary, but may become dangerous to liberty.

Besides making the necessary legislative provisions for the execution of
the treaty and the establishment of Territorial governments in the ceded
country, we have, upon the restoration of peace, other important duties
to perform. Among these I regard none as more important than the
adoption of proper measures for the speedy extinguishment of the
national debt. It is against sound policy and the genius of our
institutions that a public debt should be permitted to exist a day
longer than the means of the Treasury will enable the Government to pay
it off. We should adhere to the wise policy laid down by President
Washington, of "avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by
shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertions in time of
peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars have occasioned, not
ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burthen which we ourselves
ought to bear."

At the commencement of the present Administration the public debt
amounted to $17,788,799.62. In consequence of the war with Mexico, it
has been necessarily increased, and now amounts to $65,778,450.41,
including the stock and Treasury notes which may yet be issued under the
act of January 28, 1847, and the $16,000,000 loan recently negotiated
under the act of March 31, 1848.

In addition to the amount of the debt, the treaty stipulates that
$12,000,000 shall be paid to Mexico, in four equal annual installments
of $3,000,000 each, the first of which will fall due on the 30th day of
May, 1849. The treaty also stipulates that the United States shall
"assume and pay" to our own citizens "the claims already liquidated and
decided against the Mexican Republic," and "all claims not heretofore
decided against the Mexican Government," "to an amount not exceeding
three and a quarter millions of dollars." The "liquidated" claims of
citizens of the United States against Mexico, as decided by the joint
board of commissioners under the convention between the United States
and Mexico of the 11th of April, 1839, amounted to $2,026,139.68. This
sum was payable in twenty equal annual installments. Three of them have
been paid to the claimants by the Mexican Government and two by the
United States, leaving to be paid of the principal of the liquidated
amount assumed by the United States the sum of $1,519,604.76, together
with the interest thereon. These several amounts of "liquidated" and
unliquidated claims assumed by the United States, it is believed, may be
paid as they fall due out of the accruing revenue, without the issue of
stock or the creation of any additional public debt.

I can not too strongly recommend to Congress the importance of
husbanding all our national resources, of limiting the public
expenditures to necessary objects, and of applying all the surplus at
any time in the Treasury to the redemption of the debt. I recommend that
authority be vested in the Executive by law to anticipate the period of
reimbursement of such portion of the debt as may not be now redeemable,
and to purchase it at par, or at the premium which it may command in the
market, in all cases in which that authority has not already been
granted. A premium has been obtained by the Government on much the
larger portion of the loans, and if when the Government becomes a
purchaser of its own stock it shall command a premium in the market,
it will be sound policy to pay it rather than to pay the semiannual
interest upon it. The interest upon the debt, if the outstanding
Treasury notes shall be funded, from the end of the last fiscal year
until it shall fall due and be redeemable will be very nearly equal to
the principal, which must itself be ultimately paid.

Without changing or modifying the present tariff of duties, so great has
been the increase of our commerce under its benign operation that the
revenue derived from that source and from the sales of the public lands
will, it is confidently believed, enable the Government to discharge
annually several millions of the debt and at the same time possess the
means of meeting necessary appropriations for all other proper objects.
Unless Congress shall authorize largely increased expenditures for
objects not of absolute necessity, the whole public debt existing before
the Mexican war and that created during its continuance may be paid off
without any increase of taxation on the people long before it falls due.

Upon the restoration of peace we should adopt the policy suited to a
state of peace. In doing this the earliest practicable payment of the
public debt should be a cardinal principle of action. Profiting by the
experience of the past, we should avoid the errors into which the
country was betrayed shortly after the close of the war with Great
Britain in 1815. In a few years after that period a broad and
latitudinous construction of the powers of the Federal Government
unfortunately received but too much countenance. Though the country was
burdened with a heavy public debt, large, and in some instances
unnecessary and extravagant, expenditures were authorized by Congress.

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