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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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President should be unanimous in opposition to it, whereas the veto of
the President may be overruled by a vote of two-thirds of both Houses
of Congress or by the people at the polls.

It is obvious that to preserve the system established by the
Constitution each of the coordinate branches of the Government--the
executive, legislative, and judicial--must be left in the exercise of
its appropriate powers. If the executive or the judicial branch be
deprived of powers conferred upon either as checks on the legislative,
the preponderance of the latter will become disproportionate and
absorbing and the others impotent for the accomplishment of the great
objects for which they were established. Organized, as they are, by the
Constitution, they work together harmoniously for the public good. If
the Executive and the judiciary shall be deprived of the constitutional
powers invested in them, and of their due proportions, the equilibrium
of the system must be destroyed, and consolidation, with the most
pernicious results, must ensue--a consolidation of unchecked, despotic
power, exercised by majorities of the legislative branch.

The executive, legislative, and judicial each constitutes a separate
coordinate department of the Government, and each is independent of
the others. In the performance of their respective duties under the
Constitution neither can in its legitimate action control the others.
They each act upon their several responsibilities in their respective
spheres. But if the doctrines now maintained be correct, the executive
must become practically subordinate to the legislative, and the
judiciary must become subordinate to both the legislative and the
executive; and thus the whole power of the Government would be merged in
a single department. Whenever, if ever, this shall occur, our glorious
system of well-regulated self-government will crumble into ruins, to be
succeeded, first by anarchy, and finally by monarchy or despotism. I am
far from believing that this doctrine is the sentiment of the American
people; and during the short period which remains in which it will
be my duty to administer the executive department it will be my aim to
maintain its independence and discharge its duties without infringing
upon the powers or duties of either of the other departments of the
Government.

The power of the Executive veto was exercised by the first and most
illustrious of my predecessors and by four of his successors who
preceded me in the administration of the Government, and it is believed
in no instance prejudicially to the public interests. It has never been
and there is but little danger that it ever can be abused. No President
will ever desire unnecessarily to place his opinion in opposition to
that of Congress. He must always exercise the power reluctantly, and
only in cases where his convictions make it a matter of stern duty,
which he can not escape. Indeed, there is more danger that the
President, from the repugnance he must always feel to come in collision
with Congress, may fail to exercise it in cases where the preservation
of the Constitution from infraction, or the public good, may demand it
than that he will ever exercise it unnecessarily or wantonly.

During the period I have administered the executive department of
the Government great and important questions of public policy, foreign
and domestic, have arisen, upon which it was my duty to act. It may,
indeed, be truly said that my Administration has fallen upon eventful
times. I have felt most sensibly the weight of the high responsibilities
devolved upon me. With no other object than the public good, the
enduring fame, and permanent prosperity of my country, I have pursued
the convictions of my own best judgment. The impartial arbitrament of
enlightened public opinion, present and future, will determine how far
the public policy I have maintained and the measures I have from time
to time recommended may have tended to advance or retard the public
prosperity at home and to elevate or depress the estimate of our
national character abroad.

Invoking the blessings of the Almighty upon your deliberations at your
present important session, my ardent hope is that in a spirit of harmony
and concord you may be guided to wise results, and such as may redound
to the happiness, the honor, and the glory of our beloved country.

JAMES K. POLK.

SPECIAL MESSAGES.

WASHINGTON, _December 12, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I nominate Second Lieutenant Ulysses S. Grant (since promoted first
lieutenant), of the Fourth Regiment of Infantry, to be first lieutenant
by brevet for gallant and meritorious services in the battle of
Chapultepec, September 13, 1847, as proposed in the accompanying
communication from the Secretary of War.

JAMES K. POLK.

WAR DEPARTMENT, _December_ 11, _1848_.

The PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

SIR: The brevet of captain conferred on Second Lieutenant Ulysses S.
Grant (since promoted first lieutenant), of the Fourth Regiment of
Infantry, and confirmed by the Senate on the 13th of July, 1848, "for
gallant and meritorious conduct in the battle of Chapultepec, September
13, 1847," being the result of a misapprehension as to the grade held by
that officer on the 13th of September, 1847 (he being then a second
lieutenant), I have to propose that the brevet of captain be canceled
and that the brevet of first lieutenant "for gallant and meritorious
services in the battle of Chapultepec, September 13, 1847," be conferred
in lieu thereof.

I am, sir, with great respect, your obedient servant,

W.L. MARCY.

WASHINGTON, _December 12, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit herewith, for the consideration and advice of the Senate with
regard to its ratification, a treaty concluded on the 6th of August,
1848, by L.E. Powell, on the part of the United States, and the chiefs
and headmen of the confederated bands of the Pawnee Indians, together
with a report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs and other papers
explanatory of the same.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _December 12, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit herewith, for the consideration and advice of the Senate with
regard to its ratification, a treaty concluded on the 18th of October,
1848, by William Medill, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, on the part of
the United States, and the chiefs and headmen of the Menomonee Indians,
together with a report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs and other
papers explanatory of the same.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _December 27, 1848_.

_To the House of Representatives_:

In compliance with the resolution of the House of the 11th instant,
requesting the President to inform that body "whether he has received
any information that American citizens have been imprisoned or arrested
by British authorities in Ireland, and, if so, what have been the causes
thereof and what steps have been taken for their release, and if not, in
his opinion, inconsistent with public interest to furnish this House
with copies of all correspondence in relation thereto," I communicate
herewith a report of the Secretary of State, together with the
accompanying correspondence upon the subject.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _December 27, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I communicate herewith, in compliance with the request contained in the
resolution of the Senate of the 19th instant, a report of the Secretary
of the Treasury, with the accompanying statement, prepared by the
Register of the Treasury, which exhibits the annual amount appropriated
on account of the Coast Survey from the commencement of said Survey.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _January 2, 1849_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

In answer to the resolution of the House of Representatives of the 18th
of December, 1848, requesting information "under what law or provision
of the Constitution, or by what other authority," the Secretary of the
Treasury, with the "sanction and approval" of the President, established
"a tariff of duties in the ports of the Mexican Republic during the war
with Mexico," and "by what legal, constitutional, or other authority"
the "revenue thus derived" was appropriated to "the support of the Army
in Mexico," I refer the House to my annual message of the 7th of
December, 1847, to my message to the Senate of the 10th of February,
1848, responding to a call of that body, a copy of which is herewith
communicated, and to my message to the House of Representatives of the
24th of July, 1848, responding to a call of that House. The resolution
assumes that the Secretary of the Treasury "established a tariff of
duties in the ports of the Mexican Republic." The contributions
collected in this mode were not established by the Secretary of the
Treasury, but by a military order issued by the President through the
War and Navy Departments. For his information the President directed the
Secretary of the Treasury to prepare and report to him a scale of
duties. That report was made, and the President's military order of the
31st of March, 1847, was based upon it. The documents communicated to
Congress with my annual message of December, 1847, show the true
character of that order.

The authority under which military contributions were exacted and
collected from the enemy and applied to the support of our Army during
the war with Mexico was stated in the several messages referred to. In
the first of these messages I informed Congress 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.

It was also stated in that message that--

Measures have recently been adopted by which the internal as well as the
external revenues of Mexico in all places in our military occupation
will be seized and appropriated to the use of our Army and Navy.

The policy of levying upon the enemy contributions in every form
consistently with the laws of nations, which it may be practicable for
our military commanders to adopt, should, in my judgment, be rigidly
enforced, and orders to this effect have accordingly been given. By such
a policy, at the same time that our own Treasury will be relieved from a
heavy drain, the Mexican people will be made to feel the burdens of the
war, and, consulting their own interests, may be induced the more
readily to requite their rulers to accede to a just peace.

In the same message I informed Congress that the amount of the "loan"
which would be required for the further prosecution of the war might be
"reduced by whatever amount of expenditures can be saved by military
contributions collected in Mexico," and that "the most rigorous measures
for the augmentation of these contributions have been directed, and a
very considerable sum is expected from that source." The Secretary of
the Treasury, in his annual report of that year, in making his estimate
of the amount of loan which would probably be required, reduced the sum
in consideration of the amount which would probably be derived from
these contributions, and Congress authorized the loan upon this reduced
estimate.

In the message of the 10th of February, 1848, to the Senate, it was
stated that--

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.

In the message to the House of Representatives of the 24th of July,
1848, it was stated that--

It is from the same source of authority that we derive the unquestioned
right, after the war has been declared by Congress, to blockade the
ports and coasts of the enemy, to capture his towns, cities, and
provinces, and to levy contributions upon him for the support of our
Army. Of the same character with these is the right to subject to our
temporary military government the conquered territories of our enemy.
They are all belligerent rights, and their exercise is as essential to
the successful prosecution of a foreign war as the right to fight
battles.

By the Constitution the power to "declare war" is vested in Congress,
and by the same instrument it is provided that "the President shall be
Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States" and that
"he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed."

When Congress have exerted their power by declaring war against a
foreign nation, it is the duty of the President to prosecute it. The
Constitution has prescribed no particular mode in which he shall perform
this duty. The manner of conducting the war is not defined by the
Constitution. The term _war_ used in that instrument has a
well-understood meaning among nations. That meaning is derived from the
laws of nations, a code which is recognized by all civilized powers as
being obligatory in a state of war. The power is derived from the
Constitution and the manner of exercising it is regulated by the laws of
nations. When Congress have declared war, they in effect make it the
duty of the President in prosecuting it, by land and sea, to resort to
all the modes and to exercise all the powers and rights which other
nations at war possess. He is invested with the same power in this
respect as if he were personally present commanding our fleets by sea or
our armies by land. He may conduct the war by issuing orders for
fighting battles, besieging and capturing cities, conquering and holding
the provinces of the enemy, or by capturing his vessels and other
property on the high seas. But these are not the only modes of
prosecuting war which are recognized by the laws of nations and to which
he is authorized to resort. The levy of contributions on the enemy is a
right of war well established and universally acknowledged among
nations, and one which every belligerent possessing the ability may
properly exercise. The most approved writers on public law admit and
vindicate this right as consonant with reason, justice, and humanity.

No principle is better established than that--

We have a right to deprive our enemy of his possessions, of everything
which may augment his strength and enable him to make war. This everyone
endeavors to accomplish in the manner most suitable to him. Whenever we
have an opportunity we seize on the enemy's property and convert it to
our own use, and thus, besides diminishing the enemy's power, we augment
our own and obtain at least a partial indemnification or equivalent,
either for what constitutes the subject of the war or for the expenses
and losses incurred in its prosecution. In a word, we do ourselves
justice.

"Instead of the custom of pillaging the open country and defenseless
places," the levy of contributions has been "substituted."

Whoever carries on a just war has a right to make the enemy's country
contribute to the support of his army and toward defraying all the
charges of the war. Thus he obtains a part of what is due to him, and
the enemy's subjects, by consenting to pay the sum demanded, have their
property secured from pillage and the country is preserved.

These principles, it is believed, are uncontroverted by any civilized
nation in modern times. The public law of nations, by which they are
recognized, has been held by our highest judicial tribunal as a code
which is applicable to our "situation" in a state of war and binding on
the United States, while in admiralty and maritime cases it is often the
governing rule. It is in a just war that a nation has the "right to make
the enemy's country contribute to the support of his army." Not doubting
that our late war with Mexico was just on the part of the United States,
I did not hesitate when charged by the Constitution with its prosecution
to exercise a power common to all other nations, and Congress was duly
informed of the mode and extent to which that power had been and would
be exercised at the commencement of their first session thereafter.

Upon the declaration of war against Mexico by Congress the United States
were entitled to all the rights which any other nation at war would have
possessed. These rights could only be demanded and enforced by the
President, whose duty it was, as "Commander in Chief of the Army and
Navy of the United States," to execute the law of Congress which
declared the war. In the act declaring war Congress provided for raising
men and money to enable the President "to prosecute it to a speedy and
successful termination." Congress prescribed no mode of conducting it,
but left the President to prosecute it according to the laws of nations
as his guide. Indeed, it would have been impracticable for Congress to
have provided for all the details of a campaign.

The mode of levying contributions must necessarily be left to the
discretion of the conqueror, subject to be exercised, however, in
conformity with the laws of nations. It may be exercised by requiring
a given sum or a given amount of provisions to be furnished by the
authorities of a captured city or province; it may be exercised by
imposing an internal tax or a tax on the enemy's commerce, whereby he
may be deprived of his revenues, and these may be appropriated to the
use of the conqueror. The latter mode was adopted by the collection of
duties in the ports of Mexico in our military occupation during the late
war with that Republic.

So well established is the military right to do this under the laws of
nations that our military and naval officers commanding our forces on
the theater of war adopted the same mode of levying contributions from
the enemy before the order of the President of the 31st of March, 1847,
was issued. The general in command of the Army at Vera Cruz, upon his
own view of his powers and duties, and without specific instructions to
that effect, immediately after the capture of that city adopted this
mode. By his order of the 28th of March, 1847, heretofore communicated
to the House of Representatives, he directed a "temporary and moderate
tariff of duties to be established." Such a tariff was established, and
contributions were collected under it and applied to the uses of our
Army. At a still earlier period the same power was exercised by the
naval officers in command of our squadron on the Pacific coast. ...
Not doubting the authority to resort to this mode, the order of the 31st
of March, 1847, was issued, and was in effect but a modification of the
previous orders of these officers, by making the rates of contribution
uniform and directing their collection in all the ports of the enemy in
our military occupation and under our temporary military government.

The right to levy contributions upon the enemy in the form of import and
export duties in his ports was sanctioned by the treaty of peace with
Mexico. By that treaty both Governments recognized ... and confirmed
the exercise of that right. By its provisions "the customhouses at all
the ports occupied by the forces of the United States" were, upon the
exchange of ratifications, to be delivered up to the Mexican
authorities, "together with all bonds and evidences of debt for duties
on importations and exportations _not yet fallen due_;" and "all duties
on imports and on exports collected at such custom-houses or elsewhere
in Mexico by authority of the United States" before the ratification of
the treaty by the Mexican Government were to be retained by the United
States, and only the net amount of the duties collected after this
period was to be "delivered to the Mexican Government." By its
provisions also all merchandise "imported previously to the restoration
of the custom-houses to the Mexican authorities" or "exported from any
Mexican port whilst in the occupation of the forces of the United
States" was protected from confiscation and from the payment of any
import or export duties to the Mexican Government, even although the
importation of such merchandise "be prohibited by the Mexican tariff."
The treaty also provides that should the custom-houses be surrendered to
the Mexican authorities in less than sixty days from the date of its
signature, the rates of duty on merchandise imposed by the United States
were in that event to survive the war until the end of this period; and
in the meantime Mexican custom-house officers were bound to levy no
other duties thereon "than the duties established by the tariff found in
force at such custom-houses at the time of the restoration of the same."
The "tariff found in force at such custom-houses," which is recognized
and sustained by this stipulation, was that established by the military
order of the 31st of March, 1847, as a mode of levying and collecting
military contributions from the enemy.

The right to blockade the ports and coasts of the enemy in war is no
more provided for or prescribed by the Constitution than the right
to levy and collect contributions from him in the form of duties or
otherwise, and yet it has not been questioned that the President had the
power after war had been declared by Congress to order our Navy to
blockade the ports and coasts of Mexico. The right in both cases exists
under the laws of nations. If the President can not order military
contributions to be collected without an act of Congress, for the same
reason he can not order a blockade; nor can he direct the enemy's
vessels to be captured on the high seas; nor can he order our military
and naval officers to invade the enemy's country, conquer, hold, and
subject to our military government his cities and provinces; nor can he
give to our military and naval commanders orders to perform many other
acts essential to success in war.

If when the City of Mexico was captured the commander of our forces had
found in the Mexican treasury public money which the enemy had provided
to support his army, can it be doubted that he possessed the right to
seize and appropriate it for the use of our own Army? If the money
captured from the enemy could have been thus lawfully seized and
appropriated, it would have been by virtue of the laws of war,
recognized by all civilized nations; and by the same authority the
sources of revenue and of supply of the enemy may be cut off from him,
whereby he may be weakened and crippled in his means of continuing or
waging the war. If the commanders of our forces, while acting under the
orders of the President, in the heart of the enemy's country and
surrounded by a hostile population, possess none of these essential and
indispensable powers of war, but must halt the Army at every step of its
progress and wait for an act of Congress to be passed to authorize them
to do that which every other nation has the right to do by virtue of the
laws of nations, then, indeed, is the Government of the United States in
a condition of imbecility and weakness, which must in all future time
render it impossible to prosecute a foreign war in an enemy's country
successfully or to vindicate the national rights and the national honor
by war.

The contributions levied were collected in the enemy's country, and were
ordered to be "applied" in the enemy's country "toward defraying the
expenses of the war," and the appropriations made by Congress for that
purpose were thus relieved, and considerable balances remained undrawn
from the Treasury. The amount of contributions remaining unexpended at
the close of the war, as far as the accounts of collecting and
disbursing officers have been settled, have been paid into the Treasury
in pursuance of an order for that purpose, except the sum "applied
toward the payment of the first installment due under the treaty with
Mexico," as stated in my last annual message, for which an appropriation
had been made by Congress. The accounts of some of these officers, as
stated in the report of the Secretary of War accompanying that message,
will require legislation before they can be finally settled.

In the late war with Mexico it is confidently believed that the levy of
contributions and the seizure of the sources of public revenue upon
which the enemy relied to enable him to continue the war essentially
contributed to hasten peace. By those means the Government and people of
Mexico were made to feel the pressure of the war and to realize that if
it were protracted its burdens and inconveniences must be borne by
themselves. Notwithstanding the great success of our arms, it may well
be doubted whether an honorable peace would yet have been obtained but
for the very contributions which were exacted.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _January 4, 1849_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit to the Senate, for their consideration and advice with regard
to its ratification, a convention between the United States of America
and the Government of Her Britannic Majesty, for the improvement of the
communication by post between their respective territories, concluded
and signed at London on the 15th December last, together with an
explanatory dispatch from our minister at that Court.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _January 29, 1849_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I communicate herewith a report of the Secretary of State, with the
accompanying documents, in answer to a resolution of the Senate of the
21st December, 1848, requesting the President "to communicate to the
Senate (if, in his opinion, not incompatible with the public service) a
copy of the dispatches transmitted to the Secretary of State in August
last by the resident minister at Rio de Janeiro in reference to the
service and general conduct of Commodore G.W. Storer, commander in chief
of the United States naval forces on the coast of Brazil."

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _January 29, 1849_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

I communicate herewith reports from the Secretary of War and the
Secretary of the Navy, together with the accompanying documents, in
answer to a resolution of the House of Representatives of December 20,
1848, requesting the President "to communicate to the House the amount
of moneys and property received during the late war with the Republic of
Mexico at the different ports of entry, or in any other way within her
limits, and in what manner the same has been expended or appropriated."

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _February 1, 1849_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I communicate herewith reports from the Secretary of State, the
Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of War, and the Secretary of
the Navy, together with the accompanying documents, in answer to a
resolution of the Senate of the 15th January, 1849, "that the petition
and papers of John B. Emerson be referred to the President of the United
States, and that he be requested to cause a report thereon to be made to
the Senate, wherein the public officer making such report shall state
in what cases, if any, the United States have used or employed the
invention of said Emerson contrary to law, and, further, whether any
compensation therefor is justly due to said Emerson, and, if so, to what
amount in each case."

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _February 5, 1849_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit herewith, for the consideration and advice of the Senate with
regard to its ratification, a treaty concluded on the 24th day of
November, 1848, by Morgan L. Martin and Albert G. Ellis, commissioners
on the part of the United States, and the sachem, councilors, and
headmen of the Stockbridge tribe of Indians, together with a report of
the Commissioner of Indian Affairs and other papers explanatory of the
same.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _February 8, 1849_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

In reply to the resolutions of the House of Representatives of the 5th
instant, I communicate herewith a report from the Secretary of State,
accompanied with all the documents and correspondence relating to the
treaty of peace concluded between the United States and Mexico at
Guadalupe Hidalgo on the 2d February, 1848, and to the amendments of the
Senate thereto, as requested by the House in the said resolutions.

Amongst the documents transmitted will be found a copy of the
instructions given to the commissioners of the United States who took to
Mexico the treaty as amended by the Senate and ratified by the President
of the United States. In my message to the House of Representatives of
the 29th of July, 1848, I gave as my reason for declining to furnish
these instructions in compliance with a resolution of the House that "in
my opinion it would be inconsistent with the public interests to give
publicity to them at the present time." Although it may still be doubted
whether giving them publicity in our own country, and, as a necessary
consequence, in Mexico, may not have a prejudicial influence on our
public interests, yet, as they have been again called for by the House,
and called for in connection with other documents, to the correct
understanding of which they are indispensable, I have deemed it my duty
to transmit them.

I still entertain the opinion expressed in the message referred to,
that--

As a general rule applicable to all our important negotiations with
foreign powers, it could not fail to be prejudicial to the public
interests to publish the instructions to our ministers until some time
had elapsed after the conclusion of such negotiations.

In these instructions of the 18th of March, 1848, it will be perceived
that--

The task was assigned to the commissioners of the United States of
consummating the treaty of peace, which was signed at Guadalupe Hidalgo
on the 2d day of February last, between the United States and the
Mexican Republic, and which on the 10th of March last was ratified by
the Senate with amendments.

They were informed that--

This brief statement will indicate to you clearly the line of your duty.
You are not sent to Mexico for the purpose of negotiating any new
treaty, or of changing in any particular the ratified treaty which you
will bear with you. None of the amendments adopted by the Senate can be
rejected or modified except by the authority of that body. Your whole
duty will, then, consist in using every honorable effort to obtain from
the Mexican Government a ratification of the treaty in the form in which
it has been ratified by the Senate, and this with the least practicable
delay. ... For this purpose it may, and most probably will, become
necessary that you should explain to the Mexican minister for foreign
affairs, or to the authorized agents of the Mexican Government, the
reasons which have influenced the Senate in adopting these several
amendments to the treaty. This duty you will perform as much as possible
by personal conferences. Diplomatic notes are to be avoided unless in
case of necessity. These might lead to endless discussions and
indefinite delay. Besides, they could not have any practical result, as
your mission is confined to procuring a ratification from the Mexican
Government of the treaty as it came from the Senate, and does not extend
to the slightest modification in any of its provisions.

The commissioners were sent to Mexico to procure the ratification of
the treaty _as amended by the Senate_. Their instructions confined them
to this point. It was proper that the amendments to the treaty adopted
by the United States should be explained to the Mexican Government, and
explanations were made by the Secretary of State in his letter of the
18th of March, 1848, to the Mexican minister for foreign affairs,
under my direction. This dispatch was communicated to Congress with my
message of the 6th of July last, communicating the treaty of peace,
and published by their order. This dispatch was transmitted by our
commissioners from the City of Mexico to the Mexican Government, then at
Queretaro, on the 17th of April, 1848, and its receipt acknowledged on
the 19th of the same month. During the whole time that the treaty, as
amended, was before the Congress of Mexico these explanations of the
Secretary of State, and these alone, were before them.

The President of Mexico, on these explanations, on the 8th day of May,
1848, submitted the amended treaty to the Mexican Congress, and on the
25th of May that Congress approved the treaty as amended, without
modification or alteration. The final action of the Mexican Congress
had taken place before the commissioners of the United States had been
officially received by the Mexican authorities, or held any conference
with them, or had any other communication on the subject of the treaty
except to transmit the letter of the Secretary of State.

In their dispatch transmitted to Congress with my message of the 6th of
July last, communicating the treaty of peace, dated "City of Queretaro,
May 25, 1848, 9 o'clock p.m.," the commissioners say:

We have the satisfaction to inform you that we reached this city this
afternoon at about 5 o'clock, and that the treaty, as amended by the
Senate of the United States, passed the Mexican Senate about the hour of
our arrival by a vote of 33 to 5. It having previously passed the House
of Deputies, nothing now remains but to exchange the ratifications of
the treaty.

On the next day (the 26th of May) the commissioners were for the first
time presented to the President of the Republic and their credentials
placed in his hands. On this occasion the commissioners delivered an
address to the President of Mexico, and he replied. In their dispatch of
the 30th of May the commissioners say:

We inclose a copy of our address to the President, and also a copy of
his reply. Several conferences afterwards took place between Messrs.
Rosa, Cuevas, Conto, and ourselves, which it is not thought necessary to
recapitulate, as we inclose a copy of the protocol, which contains the
substance of the conversations. We have now the satisfaction to announce
that the exchange of ratifications was effected to-day.

This dispatch was communicated with my message of the 6th of July last,
and published by order of Congress.

The treaty, as amended by the Senate of the United States, with the
accompanying papers and the evidence that in that form it had been
ratified by Mexico, was received at Washington on the 4th day of July,
1848, and immediately proclaimed as the supreme law of the land. On the
6th of July I communicated to Congress the ratified treaty, with such
accompanying documents as were deemed material to a full understanding
of the subject, to the end that Congress might adopt the legislation
necessary and proper to carry the treaty into effect. Neither the
address of the commissioners, nor the reply of the President of
Mexico on the occasion of their presentation, nor the memorandum of
conversations embraced in the paper called a protocol, nor the
correspondence now sent, were communicated, because they were not
regarded as in any way material; and in this I conformed to the
practice of our Government. It rarely, if ever, happens that all the
correspondence, and especially the instructions to our ministers, is
communicated. Copies of these papers are now transmitted, as being
within the resolutions of the House calling for all such "correspondence
as appertains to said treaty."

When these papers were received at Washington, peace had been restored,
the first installment of three millions paid to Mexico, the blockades
were raised, the City of Mexico evacuated, and our troops on their
return home. The war was at an end, and the treaty, as ratified by the
United States, was binding on both parties, and already executed in a
great degree. In this condition of things it was not competent for the
President alone, or for the President and Senate, or for the President,
Senate, and House of Representatives combined, to abrogate the treaty,
to annul the peace and restore a state of war, except by a solemn
declaration of war.

Had the protocol varied the treaty as amended by the Senate of the
United States, it would have had no binding effect.

It was obvious that the commissioners of the United States did not
regard the protocol as in any degree a part of the treaty, nor as
modifying or altering the treaty as amended by the Senate. They
communicated it as the substance of conversations held after the Mexican
Congress had ratified the treaty, and they knew that the approval of the
Mexican Congress was as essential to the validity of a treaty in all its
parts as the advice and consent of the Senate of the United States. They
knew, too, that they had no authority to alter or modify the treaty in
the form in which it had been ratified by the United States, but that,
if failing to procure the ratification of the Mexican Government
otherwise than with amendments, their duty, imposed by express
instructions, was to ask of Mexico to send without delay a commissioner
to Washington to exchange ratifications here if the amendments of the
treaty proposed by Mexico, on being submitted, should be adopted by the
Senate of the United States.

I was equally well satisfied that the Government of Mexico had agreed to
the treaty as amended by the Senate of the United States, and did not
regard the protocol as modifying, enlarging, or diminishing its terms or
effect. The President of that Republic, in submitting the amended treaty
to the Mexican Congress, in his message on the 8th day of May, 1848,
said:

If the treaty could have been submitted to your deliberation precisely
as it came from the hands of the plenipotentiaries, my satisfaction at
seeing the war at last brought to an end would not have been lessened as
it this day is in consequence of the modifications introduced into it by
the Senate of the United States, and which have received the sanction of
the President. ... At present it is sufficient for us to say to you
that if in the opinion of the Government justice had not been evinced
on the part of the Senate and Government of the United States in
introducing such modifications, it is presumed, on the other hand, that
they are not of such importance that they should set aside the treaty.
I believe, on the contrary, that it ought to be ratified upon the same
terms in which it has already received the sanction of the American
Government. My opinion is also greatly strengthened by the fact that a
new negotiation is neither expected nor considered, possible. Much less
could another be brought forward upon a basis more favorable for the
Republic.

The deliberations of the Mexican Congress, with no explanation before
that body from the United States except the letter of the Secretary of
State, resulted in the ratification of the treaty, as recommended by the
President of that Republic, in the form in which it had been amended and
ratified by the United States. The conversations embodied in the paper
called a protocol took place after the action of the Mexican Congress
was complete, and there is no reason to suppose that the Government of
Mexico ever submitted the protocol to the Congress, or ever treated or
regarded it as in any sense a new negotiation, or as operating any
modification or change of the amended treaty. If such had been its
effect, it was a nullity until approved by the Mexican Congress; and
such approval was never made or intimated to the United States. In the
final consummation of the ratification of the treaty by the President of
Mexico no reference is made to it. On the contrary, this ratification,
which was delivered to the commissioners of the United States, and is
now in the State Department, contains a full and explicit recognition of
the amendments of the Senate just as they had been communicated to that
Government by the Secretary of State and been afterwards approved by the
Mexican Congress. It declares that--

Having seen and examined the said treaty and the modifications made by
the Senate of the United States of America, and having given an account
thereof to the General Congress, conformably to the requirement in the
fourteenth paragraph of the one hundred and tenth article of the federal
constitution of these United States, that body has thought proper to
approve of the said treaty, with the modifications thereto, in all their
parts; and in consequence thereof, exerting the power granted to me by
the constitution, I accept, ratify, and confirm the said treaty with its
modifications, and promise, in the name of the Mexican Republic, to
fulfill and observe it, and to cause it to be fulfilled and observed.

Upon an examination of this protocol, when it was received with the
ratified treaty, I did not regard it as material or as in any way
attempting to modify or change the treaty as it had been amended by the
Senate of the United States.

The first explanation which it contains is:

That the American Government, by suppressing the ninth article of the
treaty of Guadalupe and substituting the third article of the treaty of
Louisiana, did not intend to diminish in any way what was agreed upon
by the aforesaid article (ninth) in favor of the inhabitants of the
territories ceded by Mexico. Its understanding is that all of that
agreement is contained in the third article of the treaty of Louisiana.
In consequence, all the privileges and guaranties--civil, political,
and religious--which would have been possessed by the inhabitants of
the ceded territories if the ninth article of the treaty had been
retained will be enjoyed by them without any difference under the
article which has been substituted.

The ninth article of the original treaty stipulated for the
incorporation of the Mexican inhabitants of the ceded territories and
their admission into the Union "as soon as possible, according to the
principles of the Federal Constitution, to the enjoyment of all the
rights of citizens of the United States." It provided also that in the
meantime they should be maintained in the enjoyment of their liberty,
their property, and their civil rights now vested in them according to
the Mexican laws. It secured to them similar political rights with the
inhabitants of the other Territories of the United States, and at least
equal to the inhabitants of Louisiana and Florida when they were in a
Territorial condition. It then proceeded to guarantee that ecclesiastics
and religious corporations should be protected in the discharge of the
offices of their ministry and the enjoyment of their property of every
kind, whether individual or corporate, and, finally, that there should
be a free communication between the Catholics of the ceded territories
and their ecclesiastical authorities "even although such authority
should reside within the limits of the Mexican Republic as defined by
this treaty."

The ninth article of the treaty, as adopted by the Senate, is much more
comprehensive in its terms and explicit in its meaning, and it clearly
embraces in comparatively few words all the guaranties inserted in the
original article. It is as follows:

Mexicans who, in the territories aforesaid, shall not preserve the
character of citizens of the Mexican Republic, conformably with what
is stipulated in the preceding article, shall be incorporated into the
Union of the United States and be admitted at the proper time (to be
judged of by the Congress of the United States) to the enjoyment of all
the rights of citizens of the United States, according to the principles
of the Constitution, and in the meantime shall be maintained and
protected in the free enjoyment of their liberty and property and
secured in the free exercise of their religion without restriction.

This article, which was substantially copied from the Louisiana treaty,
provides equally with the original article for the admission of these
inhabitants into the Union, and in the meantime, whilst they shall
remain in a Territorial state, by one sweeping provision declares that
they "shall be maintained and protected in the free enjoyment of their
liberty and property and secured in the free exercise of their religion
without restriction."

This guaranty embraces every kind of property, whether held by
ecclesiastics or laymen, whether belonging to corporations or
individuals. It secures to these inhabitants the free exercise of their
religion without restriction, whether they choose to place themselves
under the spiritual authority of pastors resident within the Mexican
Republic or the ceded territories. It was, it is presumed, to place this
construction beyond all question that the Senate superadded the words
"without restriction" to the religious guaranty contained in the
corresponding article of the Louisiana treaty. Congress itself does not
possess the power under the Constitution to make any law prohibiting the
free exercise of religion.

If the ninth article of the treaty, whether in its original or amended
form, had been entirely omitted in the treaty, all the rights and
privileges which either of them confers would have been secured to the
inhabitants of the ceded territories by the Constitution and laws of the
United States.

The protocol asserts that "the American Government, by suppressing the
tenth article of the treaty of Guadalupe, did not in any way intend to
annul the grants of lands made by Mexico in the ceded territories;" that
"these grants, notwithstanding the suppression of the article of the
treaty, preserve the legal value which they may possess; and the
grantees may cause their legitimate titles to be acknowledged before the
American tribunals;" and then proceeds to state that, "conformably to
the law of the United States, legitimate titles to every description of
property, personal and real, existing in the ceded territories are those
which were legitimate titles under the Mexican law in California and New
Mexico up to the 13th of May, 1846, and in Texas up to the 2d of March,
1836." The former was the date of the declaration of war against Mexico
and the latter that of the declaration of independence by Texas.

The objection to the tenth article of the original treaty was not that
it protected legitimate titles, which our laws would have equally
protected without it, but that it most unjustly attempted to resuscitate
grants which had become a mere nullity by allowing the grantees the same
period after the exchange of the ratifications of the treaty to which
they had been originally entitled after the date of their grants for the
purpose of performing the conditions on which they had been made. In
submitting the treaty to the Senate I had recommended the rejection of
this article. That portion of it in regard to lands in Texas did not
receive a single vote in the Senate. This information was communicated
by the letter of the Secretary of State to the minister for foreign
affairs of Mexico, and was in possession of the Mexican Government
during the whole period the treaty was before the Mexican Congress; and
the article itself was reprobated in that letter in the strongest terms.
Besides, our commissioners to Mexico had been instructed that--

Neither the President nor the Senate of the United States can ever
consent to ratify any treaty containing the tenth article of the treaty
of Guadalupe Hidalgo, in favor of grantees of land in Texas or
elsewhere.

And again:

Should the Mexican Government persist in retaining this article, then
all prospect of immediate peace is ended; and of this you may give
them an absolute assurance.

On this point the language of the protocol is free from ambiguity, but
if it were otherwise is there any individual American or Mexican who
would place such a construction upon it as to convert it into a vain
attempt to revive this article, which had been so often and so solemnly
condemned? Surely no person could for one moment suppose that either the
commissioners of the United States or the Mexican minister for foreign
affairs ever entertained the purpose of thus setting at naught the
deliberate decision of the President and Senate, which had been
communicated to the Mexican Government with the assurance that their
abandonment of this obnoxious article was essential to the restoration
of peace.

But the meaning of the protocol is plain. It is simply that the
nullification of this article was not intended to destroy valid,
legitimate titles to land which existed and were in full force
independently of the provisions and without the aid of this article.
Notwithstanding it has been expunged from the treaty, these grants were
to "preserve the legal value which they may possess." The refusal to
revive grants which had become extinct was not to invalidate those which
were in full force and vigor. That such was the clear understanding of
the Senate of the United States, and this in perfect accordance with the
protocol, is manifest from the fact that whilst they struck from the
treaty this unjust article, they at the same time sanctioned and
ratified the last paragraph of the eighth article of the treaty, which
declares that--

In the said territories property of every kind now belonging to Mexicans
not established there shall be inviolably respected. The present owners,
the heirs of these, and all Mexicans who may hereafter acquire said
property by contract shall enjoy with respect to it guaranties equally
ample as if the same belonged to citizens of the United States.

Without any stipulation in the treaty to this effect, all such valid
titles under the Mexican Government would have been protected under the
Constitution and laws of the United States.

The third and last explanation contained in the protocol is that--

The Government of the United States, by suppressing the concluding
paragraph of article 12 of the treaty, did not intend to deprive the
Mexican Republic of the free and unrestrained faculty of ceding,
conveying, or transferring at any time (as it may judge best) the sum of
the $12,000,000 which the same Government of the United States is to
deliver in the places designated by the amended article.

The concluding paragraph of the original twelfth article, thus
suppressed by the Senate, is in the following language:

Certificates in proper form for the said installments, respectively,
in such sums as shall be desired by the Mexican Government, and
transferable by it, shall be delivered to the said Government by that
of the United States.

From this bare statement, of facts the meaning of the protocol is
obvious. Although the Senate had declined to create a Government stock
for the $12,000,000, and issue transferable certificates for the amount
in such sums as the Mexican Government might desire, yet they could not
have intended thereby to deprive that Government of the faculty which
every creditor possesses of transferring for his own benefit the
obligation of his debtor, whatever this may be worth, according to his
will and pleasure.

It can not be doubted that the twelfth article of the treaty as it
now stands contains a positive obligation, "in consideration of the
extension acquired by the boundaries of the United States," to pay to
the Mexican Republic $12,000,000 in four equal annual installments of
three millions each. This obligation may be assigned by the Mexican
Government to any person whatever, but the assignee in such case would
stand in no better condition than the Government. The amendment of the
Senate prohibiting the issue of a Government transferable stock for the
amount produces this effect and no more.

The protocol contains nothing from which it can be inferred that the
assignee could rightfully demand the payment of the money in case the
consideration should fail which is stated on the face of the obligation.

With this view of the whole protocol, and considering that the
explanations which it contained were in accordance with the treaty, I
did not deem it necessary to take any action upon the subject. Had it
varied from the terms of the treaty as amended by the Senate, although
it would even then have been a nullity in itself, yet duty might have
required that I should make this fact known to the Mexican Government,
This not being the case, I treated it in the same manner I would have
done had these explanations been made verbally by the commissioners to
the Mexican minister for foreign affairs and communicated in a dispatch
to the State Department.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _February 9, 1849_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

In compliance with the resolution of the Senate of the 6th instant,
requesting the President to cause to be laid before that body, in
"executive or open session, in his discretion, any instructions given to
Ambrose H. Sevier and Nathan Clifford, commissioned as ministers
plenipotentiary on the part of the United States to the Government of
Mexico, or to either of said ministers, prior to the ratification by the
Government of Mexico of the treaty of peace between the United States
and that Republic," and certain correspondence and other papers
specified in the said resolution, I communicate herewith a report from
the Secretary of State, together with copies of the documents called
for.

Having on the 8th instant, in compliance with a resolution of the House
of Representatives in its terms more comprehensive than that of the
Senate, communicated these and all other papers appertaining to the same
subject, with a message to that House, this communication is made to the
Senate in "open" and not in "executive" session.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _February 12, 1849_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I communicate herewith a report from the Secretary of the Treasury, with
the accompanying documents, in answer to the resolution of the Senate of
December 28, 1848, requesting "to be informed of the number of vessels
annually employed in the Coast Survey, and the annual cost thereof, and
out of what fund they were paid; also the number of persons annually
employed in said Survey who were not of the Army and Navy of the United
States; also the amount of money received by the United States for maps
and charts made under such Survey and sold under the act of 1844."

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _February 14, 1849_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit herewith a report from the Secretary of War, together with
the accompanying papers, in compliance with a resolution of the Senate
of the 12th instant, requesting the President to communicate to that
body the proceedings under the act of Congress of the last session to
compensate R.M. Johnson for the erection of certain buildings for the
use of the Choctaw academy; also the evidence of the cost of said
buildings.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _February 23, 1849_.

_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 a resolution of
the Senate of the 23d ultimo, requesting the President "to transmit
to the Senate, so far as is consistent with the public service, any
correspondence between the Department of State and the Spanish
authorities in the island of Cuba relating to the imprisonment in
said island of William Henry Rush, a citizen of the United States."

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _February 27, 1849_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I communicate herewith a report from the Secretary of State, in
compliance with a resolution of the Senate of the 3d ultimo, requesting
the President to communicate to the Senate a list of all the treaties of
commerce and navigation between the United States and foreign nations
conferring upon the vessels of such nations the right of trading between
the United States and the rest of the world in the productions of every
country upon the same terms with American vessels, with the date of
the proclamation of such treaties; also a list of the proclamations
conferring similar rights upon the vessels of foreign nations issued by
the President of the United States under the provisions of the first
section of the act entitled "An act in addition to an act entitled
'An act concerning discriminating duties on tonnage and impost and to
equalize the duties on Prussian vessels and their cargoes,'" approved
May 24, 1828.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _March 2, 1849_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

I communicate herewith a report of the Secretary of State, together
with the accompanying papers, in compliance with the resolution of the
House of Representatives of the 23d of December, 1848, requesting the
President "to cause to be transmitted to the House, if compatible with
the public interest, the correspondence of George W. Gordon, late, and
Gorham Parks, the present, consul of the United States at Rio de
Janeiro, with the Department of State on the subject of the African
slave trade; also any unpublished correspondence on the same subject
by the Hon. Henry A. Wise, our late minister to Brazil."

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _March 2, 1849_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States:_

I communicate herewith a report of the Secretary of State, together with
the accompanying papers, in compliance with the resolution of the House
of Representatives of the 20th ultimo, requesting the President to
communicate to that House a list of all consuls, vice-consuls, and
commercial agents now in the service of the United States, their
residence, distinguishing such as are citizens of the United States from
such as are not, and to inform the said House whether regular returns
of their fees and perquisites and the tonnage and commerce of the
United States within their respective consulates or agencies have been
regularly made by each, and to communicate the amount of such fees and
perquisites for certain years therein specified, together with the
number of vessels and amount of tonnage which entered and cleared within
each of the consulates and agencies for the same period; also the number
of seamen of the United States who have been provided for and sent home
from each of the said consulates for the time aforesaid.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _March 2, 1849_.

_To the Senate of the United States:_

I herewith transmit a communication from the Secretary of the Treasury,
accompanying a report from the Solicitor of the Treasury presenting a
view of the operations of that office since its organization.

JAMES K. POLK.

PROCLAMATIONS.

[From Senate Journal, Thirtieth Congress, second session, p. 349.]

WASHINGTON, _January 2, 1849_.

_To the Senators of the United States, respectively_.

SIR: Objects interesting to the United States requiring that the Senate
should be in session on Monday, the 5th of March next, to receive and
act upon such communications as may be made to it on the part of the
Executive, your attention in the Senate Chamber, in this city, on that
day at 10 o'clock in the forenoon is accordingly requested.

JAMES K. POLK.

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

A PROCLAMATION.

Whereas by an act of the Congress of the United States of the 10th
January, 1849, entitled "An act to extend certain privileges to the town
of Whitehall, in the State of New York," the President of the United
States, on the recommendation of the Secretary of the Treasury, is
authorized to extend to the town of Whitehall the same privileges as are
conferred on certain ports named in the seventh section of an act
entitled "An act allowing drawback upon foreign merchandise exported in
the original packages to Chihuahua and Santa Fe, in Mexico, and to the
British North American Provinces adjoining the United States," passed 3d
March, 1845, in the manner prescribed by the proviso contained in said
section; and

Whereas the Secretary of the Treasury has duly recommended to me the
extension of the privileges of the law aforesaid to the port of
Whitehall, in the collection district of Champlain, in the State of New
York:

Now, therefore, I, James K. Polk, President of the United States of
America, do hereby declare and proclaim that the port of Whitehall, in
the collection district of Champlain, in the State of New York, is and
shall be entitled to all the privileges extended to the other ports
enumerated in the seventh section of the act aforesaid from and after
the date of this proclamation.

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of
the United States to be affixed.

[SEAL.]

Done at the city of Washington, this 2d day of March, A.D. 1849, and of
the Independence of the United States of America the seventy-third.

JAMES K. POLK.

By the President:
JAMES BUCHANAN,
_Secretary of State_.

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