Part 5 out of 11
Representatives among the several States according to the Sixth Census,"
and have caused the same to be deposited in the office of the Secretary
of State, accompanied by an exposition of my reasons for giving to it my
[Transmitted to the House of Representatives by the Secretary of State
in compliance with a resolution of that body.]
WASHINGTON, _June 25,1842_.
A BILL entitled "An act for an apportionment of Representatives among
the several States according to the Sixth Census," approved June 25, 1842.
In approving this bill I feel it due to myself to say, as well that my
motives for signing it may be rightly understood as that my opinions may
not be liable to be misconstrued or quoted hereafter erroneously as a
precedent, that I have not proceeded so much upon a _clear and decided
opinion of my own_ respecting the constitutionality or policy of the
entire act as from respect to the declared will of the two Houses of
In yielding _my doubts_ to the matured opinion of Congress I have
followed the advice of the first Secretary of State to the first
President of the United States and the example set by that illustrious
citizen upon a memorable occasion.
When I was a member of either House of Congress I acted under the
conviction that _to doubt_ as to the constitutionality of a law was
sufficient to induce me to give my vote against it; but I have not been
able to bring myself to believe that _a doubtful opinion_ of the Chief
Magistrate ought to outweigh the solemnly pronounced opinion of the
representatives of the people and of the States.
One of the prominent features of the bill is that which purports
to be mandatory on the States to form districts for the choice of
Representatives to Congress, in single districts. That Congress itself
has power by law to alter State regulations respecting the manner of
holding elections for Representatives is clear, but its power to command
the States to make new regulations or alter their existing regulations
is the question upon which I have felt deep and strong doubts. I have
yielded those doubts, however, to the opinion of the Legislature, giving
effect to their enactment as far as depends on my approbation, and
leaving questions which may arise hereafter, if unhappily such should
arise, to be settled by full consideration of the several provisions of
the Constitution and the laws and the authority of each House to judge
of the elections, returns, and qualifications of its own members.
Similar considerations have operated with me in regard to the
representation of fractions above a moiety of the representative number,
and where such moiety exceeds 30,000--a question on which a diversity of
opinion has existed from the foundation of the Government. The provision
recommends itself from its nearer approximation to equality than would
be found in the application of a common and simple divisor to the
entire population of each State, and corrects in a great degree those
inequalities which are destined at the recurrence of each succeeding
census so greatly to augment.
In approving the bill I flatter myself that a disposition will be
perceived on my part to concede to the opinions of Congress in a matter
which may conduce to the good of the country and the stability of its
institutions, upon which my own opinion is not clear and decided.
But it seemed to me due to the respectability of opinion against the
constitutionality of the bill, as well as to the real difficulties
of the subject, which no one feels more sensibly than I do, that the
reasons which have determined me should be left on record.
WASHINGTON, _July 1, 1842_.
_To the Senate of the United States_:
In pursuance of the suggestions contained in the accompanying letter
from the Secretary of the Navy and of my own convictions of their
propriety, I transmit to the Senate the report made by Lieutenant
Wilkes, commander of the exploring expedition, relative to the Oregon
Territory. Having due regard to the negotiations now pending between
this Government and the Government of Great Britain through its special
envoy, I have thought it proper to communicate the report confidentially
to the Senate.
WASHINGTON, _July 2, 1842_.
_To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States_:
I submit to Congress the printed copy of certain resolutions of the
legislature of the State of Louisiana, accompanied by a letter from the
Senators and Representatives from that State, and also a letter from the
Solicitor of the Treasury and Commissioner of the General Land Office,
requesting and recommending that a suit in ejectment may be authorized
and directed in order to test the validity of a grant made on the 20th
of June, 1797, by the Baron de Carondelet, Governor-General of
Louisiana, to the Marquis de Maison Rouge.
The magnitude of this claim renders it highly desirable that a speedy
termination should be put to all contest concerning it, and I therefore
recommend that Congress shall authorize such proceedings as may be best
calculated to bring it to a close.
WASHINGTON, _July 9, 1842_.
_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:
In compliance with the resolution of the House of Representatives of
the 21st ultimo, requesting information relative to proceedings of this
Government in the case of George Johnson, a citizen of the United States
aggrieved by acts of authorities of the Republic of Uruguay, I transmit
a report from the Secretary of State with the accompanying Papers.
WASHINGTON, _July 14, 1842_.
_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:
In answer to the resolution of the House of Representatives of the 12th
instant, requesting copies of papers upon the subject of the relations
between the United States and the Mexican Republic, I transmit a report
from the Secretary of State and the documents by which it was
WASHINGTON, _July 14, 1842_.
_To the Senate of the United States_:
In compliance with the resolution of the Senate of the 11th instant,
calling for the recent correspondence between the Republic of Mexico and
this Government in relation to Texas, I transmit a report from the
Secretary of State, with the accompanying documents.
WASHINGTON, _July 20, 1842_.
_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:
In further compliance with the resolution of the House of
Representatives of the 29th of April last, I transmit herewith a
supplemental and additional report of William M. Steuart, one of the
commissioners appointed to investigate the affairs of the New York
custom-house, which has recently been received, and which, like the
reports of the commissioners heretofore communicated to the House, I
have not had an opportunity to examine. For the reason stated in my
message to the House of the 30th of April last, I shall abstain, as I
have done hitherto, from recommending any specific measures which might
be suggested by an examination of the various reports on the subject.
WASHINGTON, _July 22, 1842_.
_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:
In answer to the resolution of the House of Representatives of the
13th instant, upon the subject of the relations between the United
States and the Republic of Texas, I transmit a report from the Secretary
of State. My last communication to Congress relating to that Republic
was my message of the 30th of March last, suggesting the expediency
of legislative provisions for improving the trade and facilitating
the intercourse by post between the United States and Texas. The
report of the Secretary of State is accompanied by a copy of all the
correspondence between the two Governments since that period which it
would be compatible with the public interest to communicate to the
House of Representatives at this time.
WASHINGTON, _August 8, 1842_.
_To the Senate of the United States_:
In the communication made to the Senate on the 13th of June, in answer
to its resolution of the 2d of March last, there appears to have been,
among other papers, sundry letters addressed to the Department of State
by certain claimants or their agents containing reflections upon the
character of the umpire appointed by His Prussian Majesty pursuant to
the convention between the United States and the Mexican Republic of the
11th of April, 1839. As the call was for all communications which had
been addressed to the Department of State by any of the claimants under
that convention relative to the proceedings and progress of the mixed
commission, the copies were prepared and submitted without attracting
the attention either of the head of the Department or myself. If those
letters had been noticed, their transmission to the Senate, if
transmitted at all, would have been accompanied by a disclaimer on the
part of the Executive of any intention to approve such charges. The
Executive has no complaint to make against the conduct or decisions of
the highly respectable person appointed by his sovereign umpire between
the American and Mexican commissioners.
WASHINGTON, _August 10, 1842_.
_To the Senate of the United States_:
In compliance with your resolution of the 18th July, I herewith transmit
a letter from the Acting Secretary of the Treasury and a report from the
Commissioner of Public Buildings, together with the accompanying
[Footnote 78: Relating to the macadamizing of Pennsylvania Avenue,
WASHINGTON, _August 11, 1842_.
_To the Senate of the United States_:
I have the satisfaction to communicate to the Senate the results of
the negotiations recently had in this city with the British minister,
special and extraordinary.
These results comprise--
First. A treaty to settle and define the boundaries between the
territories of the United States and the possessions of Her Britannic
Majesty in North America, for the suppression of the African slave
trade, and the surrender of criminals fugitive from justice in certain
Second. A correspondence on the subject of the interference of the
colonial authorities of the British West Indies with American merchant
vessels driven by stress of weather or carried by violence into the
ports of those colonies.
Third. A correspondence upon the subject of the attack and destruction
of the steamboat _Caroline_.
Fourth. A correspondence on the subject of impressment.
If this treaty shall receive the approbation of the Senate, it will
terminate a difference respecting boundary which has long subsisted
between the two Governments, has been the subject of several ineffectual
attempts at settlement, and has sometimes led to great irritation, not
without danger of disturbing the existing peace. Both the United States
and the States more immediately concerned have entertained no doubt of
the validity of the American title to all the territory which has been
in dispute, but that title was controverted and the Government of the
United States had agreed to make the dispute a subject of arbitration.
One arbitration had been actually had, but had failed to settle the
controversy, and it was found at the commencement of last year that a
correspondence had been in progress between the two Governments for a
joint commission, with an ultimate reference to an umpire or arbitrator
with authority to make a final decision. That correspondence, however,
had been retarded by various occurrences, and had come to no definite
result when the special mission of Lord Ashburton was announced. This
movement on the part of England afforded in the judgment of the
Executive a favorable opportunity for making an attempt to settle this
long-existing controversy by some agreement or treaty without further
reference to arbitration.
It seemed entirely proper that if this purpose were entertained
consultation should be had with the authorities of the States of
Maine and Massachusetts. Letters, therefore, of which copies are
herewith communicated, were addressed to the governors of those States,
suggesting that commissioners should be appointed by each of them,
respectively, to repair to this city and confer with the authorities
of this Government on a line by agreement or compromise, with its
equivalents and compensations. This suggestion was met by both States
in a spirit of candor and patriotism and promptly complied with.
Four commissioners on the part of Maine and three on the part of
Massachusetts, all persons of distinction and high character, were duly
appointed and commissioned and lost no time in presenting themselves at
the seat of the Government of the United States. These commissioners
have been in correspondence with this Government during the period of
the discussions; have enjoyed its confidence and freest communications;
have aided the general object with their counsel and advice, and in the
end have unanimously signified their assent to the line proposed in the
Ordinarily it would be no easy task to reconcile and bring together such
a variety of interests in a matter in itself difficult and perplexed,
but the efforts of the Government in attempting to accomplish this
desirable object have been seconded and sustained by a spirit of
accommodation and conciliation on the part of the States concerned,
to which much of the success of these efforts is to be ascribed.
Connected with the settlement of the line of the northeastern boundary,
so far as it respects the States of Maine and Massachusetts, is the
continuation of that line along the highlands to the northwesternmost
head of Connecticut River. Which of the sources of that stream is
entitled to this character has been matter of controversy and of some
interest to the State of New Hampshire. The King of the Netherlands
decided the main branch to be the northwesternmost head of the
Connecticut. This did not satisfy the claim of New Hampshire. The line
agreed to in the present treaty follows the highlands to the head of
Halls Stream and thence down that river, embracing the whole claim of
New Hampshire and establishing her title to 100,000 acres of territory
more than she would have had by the decision of the King of the
By the treaty of 1783 the line is to proceed down the Connecticut
River to the forty-fifth degree of north latitude, and thence west by
that parallel till it strikes the St. Lawrence. Recent examinations
having ascertained that the line heretofore received as the true line of
latitude between those points was erroneous, and that the correction of
this error would not only leave on the British side a considerable tract
of territory heretofore supposed to belong to the States of Vermont and
New York, but also Rouses Point, the site of a military work of the
United States, it has been regarded as an object of importance not only
to establish the rights and jurisdiction of those States up to the line
to which they have been considered to extend, but also to comprehend
Rouses Point within the territory of the United States. The
relinquishment by the British Government of all the territory south of
the line heretofore considered to be the true line has been obtained,
and the consideration for this relinquishment is to inure by the
provisions of the treaty to the States of Maine and Massachusetts.
The line of boundary, then, from the source of the St. Croix to the St.
Lawrence, so far as Maine and Massachusetts are concerned, is fixed by
their own consent and for considerations satisfactory to them, the chief
of these considerations being the privilege of transporting the lumber
and agricultural products grown and raised in Maine on the waters of the
St. Johns and its tributaries down that river to the ocean free from
imposition or disability. The importance of this privilege, perpetual
in its terms, to a country covered at present by pine forests of great
value, and much of it capable hereafter of agricultural improvement, is
not a matter upon which the opinion of intelligent men is likely to be
So far as New Hampshire is concerned, the treaty secures all that she
requires, and New York and Vermont are quieted to the extent of their
claim and occupation. The difference which would be made in the northern
boundary of these two States by correcting the parallel of latitude may
be seen on Tanner's maps (1836), new atlas, maps Nos. 6 and 9.
From the intersection of the forty-fifth degree of north latitude
with the St. Lawrence and along that river and the lakes to the water
communication between Lake Huron and Lake Superior the line was
definitively agreed on by the commissioners of the two Governments
under the sixth article of the treaty of Ghent; but between this
last-mentioned point and the Lake of the Woods the commissioners acting
under the seventh article of that treaty found several matters of
disagreement, and therefore made no joint report to their respective
Governments. The first of these was Sugar Island, or St. Georges Island,
lying in St. Marys River, or the water communication between Lakes Huron
and Superior. By the present treaty this island is embraced in the
territories of the United States. Both from soil and position it is
regarded as of much value.
Another matter of difference was the manner of extending the line from
the point at which the commissioners arrived, north of Isle Royale,
in Lake Superior, to the Lake of the Woods. The British commissioner
insisted on proceeding to Fond du Lac, at the southwest angle of the
lake, and thence by the river St. Louis to the Rainy Lake. The American
commissioner supposed the true course to be to proceed by way of the Dog
River. Attempts were made to compromise this difference, but without
success. The details of these proceedings are found at length in the
printed separate reports of the commissioners.
From the imperfect knowledge of this remote country at the date of
the treaty of peace, some of the descriptions in that treaty do not
harmonize with its natural features as now ascertained. "Long Lake" is
nowhere to be found under that name. There is reason for supposing,
however, that the sheet of water intended by that name is the estuary
at the mouth of Pigeon River. The present treaty therefore adopts that
estuary and river, and afterwards pursues the usual route across the
height of land by the various portages and small lakes till the line
reaches Rainy Lake, from which the commissioners agreed on the extension
of it to its termination in the northwest angle of the Lake of the
Woods. The region of country on and near the shore of the lake between
Pigeon River on the north and Fond du Lac and the river St. Louis on
the south and west, considered valuable as a mineral region, is thus
included within the United States. It embraces a territory of 4,000,000
acres northward of the claim set up by the British commissioner under
the treaty of Ghent. From the height of land at the head of Pigeon River
westerly to the Rainy Lake the country is understood to be of little
value, being described by surveyors and marked on the map as a region
of rock and water.
From the northwest angle of the Lake of the Woods, which is found to be
in latitude 45 deg. 23' 55" north, existing treaties require the line to be
run due south to its intersection with the forty-fifth parallel, and
thence along that parallel to the Rocky Mountains.
After sundry informal communications with the British minister upon the
subject of the claims of the two countries to territory west of the
Rocky Mountains, so little probability was found to exist of coming
to any agreement on that subject at present that it was not thought
expedient to make it one of the subjects of formal negotiation to be
entered upon between this Government and the British minister as part
of his duties under his special mission.
By the treaty of 1783 the line of division along the rivers and lakes
from the place where the forty-fifth parallel of north latitude strikes
the St. Lawrence to the outlet of Lake Superior is invariably to be
drawn through the middle of such waters, and not through the middle of
their main channels. Such a line, if extended according to the literal
terms of the treaty, would, it is obvious, occasionally intersect
islands. The manner in which the commissioners of the two Governments
dealt with this difficult subject may be seen in their reports. But
where the line thus following the middle of the river or water course
did not meet with islands, yet it was liable sometimes to leave the only
practicable navigable channel altogether on one side. The treaty made no
provision for the common use of the waters by the citizens and subjects
of both countries.
It has happened, therefore, in a few instances that the use of the river
in particular places would be greatly diminished to one party or the
other if in fact there was not a choice in the use of channels and
passages. Thus at the Long Sault, in the St. Lawrence--a dangerous
passage, practicable only for boats--the only safe run is between the
Long Sault Islands and Barnharts Island (all which belong to the United
States) on one side and the American shore on the other. On the other
hand, by far the best passage for vessels of any depth of water from
Lake Erie into the Detroit River is between Bois Blanc, a British
island, and the Canadian shore. So again, there are several channels or
passages, of different degrees of facility and usefulness, between the
several islands in the river St. Clair at or near its entry into the
lake of that name. In these three cases the treaty provides that all the
several passages and channels shall be free and open to the use of the
citizens and subjects of both parties.
The treaty obligations subsisting between the two countries for the
suppression of the African slave trade and the complaints made to this
Government within the last three or four years, many of them but too
well founded, of the visitation, seizure, and detention of American
vessels on that coast by British cruisers could not but form a delicate
and highly important part of the negotiations which have now been held.
The early and prominent part which the Government of the United States
has taken for the abolition of this unlawful and inhuman traffic is well
known. By the tenth article of the treaty of Ghent it is declared that
the traffic in slaves is irreconcilable with the principles of humanity
and justice, and that both His Majesty and the United States are
desirous of continuing their efforts to promote its entire abolition;
and it is thereby agreed that both the contracting parties shall use
their best endeavors to accomplish so desirable an object. The
Government of the United States has by law declared the African slave
trade piracy, and at its suggestion other nations have made similar
enactments. It has not been wanting in honest and zealous efforts, made
in conformity with the wishes of the whole country, to accomplish the
entire abolition of the traffic in slaves upon the African coast, but
these efforts and those of other countries directed to the same end have
proved to a considerable degree unsuccessful. Treaties are known to have
been entered into some years ago between England and France by which the
former power, which usually maintains a large naval force on the African
station, was authorized to seize and bring in for adjudication vessels
found engaged in the slave trade under the French flag.
It is known that in December last a treaty was signed in London by the
representatives of England, France, Russia, Prussia, and Austria having
for its professed object a strong and united effort of the five
powers to put an end to the traffic. This treaty was not officially
communicated to the Government of the United States, but its provisions
and stipulations are supposed to be accurately known to the public.
It is understood to be not yet ratified on the part of France.
No application or request has been made to this Government to become
party to this treaty, but the course it might take in regard to it has
excited no small degree of attention and discussion in Europe, as the
principle upon which it is founded and the stipulations which it
contains have caused warm animadversions and great political excitement.
In my message at the commencement of the present session of Congress
I endeavored to state the principles which this Government supports
respecting the right of search and the immunity of flags. Desirous of
maintaining those principles fully, at the same time that existing
obligations should be fulfilled, I have thought it most consistent with
the honor and dignity of the country that it should execute its own laws
and perform its own obligations by its own means and its own power.
The examination or visitation of the merchant vessels of one nation
by the cruisers of another for any purpose except those known and
acknowledged by the law of nations, under whatever restraints or
regulations it may take place, may lead to dangerous results. It is far
better by other means to supersede any supposed necessity or any motive
for such examination or visit. Interference with a merchant vessel by an
armed cruiser is always a delicate proceeding, apt to touch the point of
national honor as well as to affect the interests of individuals. It has
been thought, therefore, expedient, not only in accordance with the
stipulations of the treaty of Ghent, but at the same time as removing
all pretext on the part of others for violating the immunities of the
American flag upon the seas, as they exist and are defined by the law
of nations, to enter into the articles now submitted to the Senate.
The treaty which I now submit to you proposes no alteration, mitigation,
or modification of the rules of the law of nations. It provides simply
that each of the two Governments shall maintain on the coast of Africa
a sufficient squadron to enforce separately and respectively the laws,
rights, and obligations of the two countries for the suppression of the
Another consideration of great importance has recommended this mode of
fulfilling the duties and obligations of the country. Our commerce along
the western coast of Africa is extensive, and supposed to be increasing.
There is reason to think that in many cases those engaged in it have met
with interruptions and annoyances caused by the jealousy and instigation
of rivals engaged in the same trade. Many complaints on this subject
have reached the Government. A respectable naval force on the coast is
the natural resort and security against further occurrences of this
The surrender to justice of persons who, having committed high crimes,
seek an asylum in the territories of a neighboring nation would seem to
be an act due to the cause of general justice and properly belonging to
the present state of civilization and intercourse. The British Provinces
of North America are separated from the States of the Union by a line of
several thousand miles, and along portions of this line the amount of
population on either side is quite considerable, while the passage of
the boundary is always easy.
Offenders against the law on the one side transfer themselves to the
other. Sometimes, with great difficulty, they are brought to justice,
but very often they wholly escape. A consciousness of immunity from the
power of avoiding justice in this way instigates the unprincipled and
reckless to the commission of offenses, and the peace and good
neighborhood of the border are consequently often disturbed.
In the case of offenders fleeing from Canada into the United States,
the governors of States are often applied to for their surrender, and
questions of a very embarrassing nature arise from these applications.
It has been thought highly important, therefore, to provide for the
whole case by a proper treaty stipulation. The article on the subject
in the proposed treaty is carefully confined to such offenses as all
mankind agree to regard as heinous and destructive of the security of
life and property. In this careful and specific enumeration of crimes
the object has been to exclude all political offenses or criminal
charges arising from wars or intestine commotions. Treason, misprision
of treason, libels, desertion from military service, and other offenses
of similar character are excluded.
And lest some unforeseen inconvenience or unexpected abuse should arise
from the stipulation rendering its continuance in the opinion of one or
both of the parties not longer desirable, it is left in the power of
either to put an end to it at will.
The destruction of the steamboat _Caroline_ at Schlosser four or five
years ago occasioned no small degree of excitement at the time, and
became the subject of correspondence between the two Governments. That
correspondence, having been suspended for a considerable period, was
renewed in the spring of the last year, but no satisfactory result
having been arrived at, it was thought proper, though the occurrence
had ceased to be fresh and recent, not to omit attention to it
on the present occasion. It has only been so far discussed in the
correspondence now submitted as it was accomplished by a violation of
the territory of the United States. The letter of the British minister,
while he attempts to justify that violation upon the ground of a
pressing and overruling necessity, admitting, nevertheless, that
even if justifiable an apology was due for it, and accompanying this
acknowledgment with assurances of the sacred regard of his Government
for the inviolability of national territory, has seemed to me sufficient
to warrant forbearance from any further remonstrance against what took
place as an aggression on the soil and territory of the country. On the
subject of the interference of the British authorities in the West
Indies, a confident hope is entertained that the correspondence which
has taken place, showing the grounds taken by this Government and the
engagements entered into by the British minister, will be found such as
to satisfy the just expectation of the people of the United States.
The impressment of seamen from merchant vessels of this country by
British cruisers, although not practiced in time of peace, and therefore
not at present a productive cause of difference and irritation, has,
nevertheless, hitherto been so prominent a topic of controversy and is
so likely to bring on renewed contentions at the first breaking out of a
European war that it has been thought the part of wisdom now to take it
into serious and earnest consideration. The letter from the Secretary of
State to the British minister explains the ground which the Government
has assumed and the principles which it means to uphold. For the defense
of these grounds and the maintenance of these principles the most
perfect reliance is placed on the intelligence of the American people
and on their firmness and patriotism in whatever touches the honor of
the country or its great and essential interests.
[The following are inserted because they pertain to the treaty
transmitted with the message of President Tyler immediately preceding.]
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
_Washington, August 3, 1848_.
_To the Senate of the United States_:
The Secretary of State has the honor to transmit to the Senate, in
compliance with a resolution adopted by it on the 29th ultimo, a copy of
_joint report_ of the commissioners under the treaty of Washington of
August 9, 1842, together with a copy of the report of the American
commissioner transmitting the same to the State Department.
_Mr. Smith to Mr. Buchanan_.
WASHINGTON, _April 20, 1848_.
SIR: In presenting to you the joint report of the commissioners
appointed under the treaty of Washington of August 9, 1842, to survey
and mark the line of boundary between the United States and the British
Provinces, which I have the honor herewith most respectfully to submit,
I have to perform the painful duty of informing you that the maps of
that line and of the adjacent country, which had been elaborately
constructed by the scientific corps on the part of the United States,
and contained upon 100 sheets of drawing paper of the largest size,
together with the tables of the survey, have been destroyed by the
conflagration of the building in which they were contained. This house
had been occupied by Major James D. Graham, the head of the scientific
corps and principal astronomer of the American commission, as his office
until his departure for Mexico. All the maps, drawings, and tables had
been completed and duly authenticated by the joint commissioners, and
were ready to be deposited with their joint report under their hands and
seals in the archives of this Government. Of this I had the honor to
inform you in my letter of the 24th ultimo.
I can hardly express the pain which this unfortunate event has
occasioned me. But I can not perceive that any imputation of blame can
properly be attached to any officer of the commission. The care and
custody of all the work of the United States scientific corps were
properly placed in charge of Major Graham, as the head of that corps,
who had had the immediate direction and superintendence of it from the
first organization of the commission. He required the maps and tables
at his office for reference and revision in the progress of the
astronomical work. Upon his departure for Mexico he placed Lieutenant
A.W. Whipple in his rooms with an injunction to guard with the utmost
care the valuable property of the commission. On the day after he left
the city, and when for the first time informed of the fact, I called
upon Lieutenant Whipple and requested him to have all the maps,
drawings, and tables ready to be turned over to the State Department on
the following day. On the 24th ultimo I acquainted you with that fact.
No censure can possibly be attributed to Lieutenant Whipple, whose great
care and attention to all his duties have been on all occasions highly
distinguished. He escaped from the fire with scarcely an article of his
dress, and his loss in money and clothing is at least $1,000. Major
Graham has lost his valuable library, together with personal effects
to a large amount. The fire was communicated from the basement of the
house, and by no effort could anything be saved.
There are tracings of the maps upon "tissue paper," without the
topography, in the State of Maine, but they are not signed by the
The field books of the engineers were, fortunately, not in Major
Graham's office, and are preserved.
Duplicates of the maps, duly authenticated, have been placed in the
British archives at London, which, although they have not the topography
of the country so fully laid down upon them as it was upon our own,
represent with equal exactness the survey of the boundary itself. Should
it be deemed expedient by this Government to procure copies of them,
access to those archives for that purpose would undoubtedly be
permitted, and the object accomplished at small expense, and when
completed these copies could be authenticated by the joint commissioners
in accordance with the provisions of the treaty.
I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient and humble
_Report of the joint commission of boundary appointed under the treaty
of Washington of August 9, 1842_.
The undersigned, commissioners appointed under the treaty of Washington
to trace and mark the boundary, as directed by that treaty, between the
British possessions in North America and the United States--that is to
say, James Bucknall Bucknall Estcourt, lieutenant-colonel in the British
army, appointed commissioner by Her Britannic Majesty, and Albert Smith,
appointed commissioner by the President of the United States--having
accomplished the duty assigned to them, do now, in accordance with the
directions of the said treaty, submit the following report and the
accompanying maps, jointly signed, to their respective Governments.
In obedience to the terms of the treaty, the undersigned met at Bangor,
in the State of Maine, on the 1st day of May, 1843, where they produced
and verified the authority under which they each were respectively to
act. They then adjourned, because the weather was not sufficiently open
for taking the field, to the 1st of the following month (June), and
agreed to meet again at that time at Houlton.
Accordingly, they did meet at that place, and began their operations.
It may be desirable to state at the outset that for the sake of
convenience the whole line of boundary marked by the undersigned has
been divided in the mention made of the different portions into the
following grand divisions, viz:
"North line," from the source of the St. Croix to the intersection of
the St. John.
"River St. John," from the intersection of the north line to the mouth
of the St. Francis.
"River St. Francis," from its mouth to the outlet of Lake Pohenagamook.
"Southwest line," from the outlet of Lake Pohenagamook to the Northwest
Branch of the St. John.
"South line," from the Northwest Branch to the parallel of latitude 46 deg.
25' on the Southwest Branch.
"Southwest Branch," from the parallel 46 deg. 25' to its source.
"Highlands," from the source of the Southwest Branch of the St. John to
the source of Halls Stream.
"Halls Stream," from its source to the intersection of the line of
Valentine and Collins.
"West line," from Halls Stream to the St. Lawrence near St. Regis, along
the line of Valentine and Collins.
To return to the narration of operations:
The exploring line of Colonel Bouchette and Mr. Johnson, as directed by
the treaty, was traced from the monument at the source of the St. Croix
to the intersection of the St. John.
The monument found at the source of the St. Croix, as described in the
report of Colonel Bouchette and Mr. Johnson, and the course of their
exploring line, was traced by blazes or marks upon the trees.
An old line, cut out by the assistant surveyors of Colonel Bouchette and
Mr. Johnson, was also found, which terminated about half a mile north
of the South Branch of the Meduxnikeag, where, by records to which the
undersigned referred, they ascertained that it had been abandoned
because of its deviation from the exploring line of Colonel Bouchette
and Mr. Johnson.
After the exploration and re-marking of the north line it was cut out 30
feet wide. The same was afterwards done in all parts where the boundary
passed through woodland. After thus opening the north line it was
surveyed, and iron posts were erected at intervals to mark it.
The general bearing of the line was rather to the west of the meridian
of the monument at the source of the St. Croix. The precise line laid
down by the undersigned was determined by successive courses, of which
each was made to be as long as was convenient, provided it did not pass
out of the opening of 30 feet.
At each angle of deflection an iron monument was erected, and placed
anglewise with the line. Other monuments were erected at the crossing of
roads, rivers, and at every mile, commencing from the source of the St.
Croix. Those which were not intended to mark angles of deflection were
placed square with the line.
At the intersection of the St. John by the north line the river is deep
and broad. The boundary runs up the middle of the channel of the river,
as indicated by the maps, dividing the islands as follows:
No. 1. Ryan's Island................................ United States.
No. 2. King's Island................................ United States.
No. 3. Les Trois Isles.............................. United States.
No. 4. La Septieme Isle............................. United States.
No. 5. Quissibis.................................... Great Britain.
No. 6. La Grand Isle................................ United States.
No. 7. Thibideau's Islands.......................... United States.
No. 8. Madawaska Islands............................ Great Britain.
No. 9. Joseph Michaud's three islands............... United States.
No. 10. Pine Island.................................. Great Britain.
No. 11. Baker's }
Dagle's } islands ........................... Great Britain.
No. 12. Kennedy's Island............................. Great Britain.
No. 13. Crock's }
Cranberry } islands......................... Great Britain.
No. 14. Savage's Island.............................. United States.
No. 15. Wheelock's Island............................ United States.
No. 16. Caton's Island............................... United States.
No. 17. Honeywell's Island........................... United States.
No. 18. Savage and Johnson's Island.................. United States.
No. 19. Grew's Island................................ United States.
No. 20. Kendall's Island............................. Great Britain.
The islands were distributed to Great Britain or to the United States,
as they were found to be on the right or left of the deep channel. There
was but one doubtful case, La Septieme Isle, and that was apportioned to
the United States because the majority of the owners were ascertained to
reside on the United States side of the river.
Monuments were erected upon the islands, marking them for Great Britain
or the United States, as the case may have been.
After leaving the St. John the boundary enters the St. Francis, dividing
the islands at the mouth of that river in the manner shown in the maps.
It then runs up the St. Francis, through the middle of the lakes upon
it, to the outlet of Lake Pohenagamook, the third large lake from the
mouth of the river. At the outlet a large monument has been erected.
In order to determine the point on the Northwest Branch to which the
treaty directed that a straight line should be run from the outlet of
Lake Pohenagamook, a survey of that stream was made, and also of the
main St. John in the neighborhood of the mouth of the Northwest Branch,
and a line was cut between the St. John and the point on the Northwest
Branch ascertained by the survey to be 10 miles in the nearest direction
from it, and the distance was afterwards verified by chaining.
It was ascertained also, in accordance with the provisions of the
treaty, by a triangulation of the country toward the highlands dividing
the waters of the St. Lawrence and of the St. John, that more than 7
miles intervened between the point selected on the Northwest Branch and
the crest of the dividing ridge. A large iron monument was afterwards
erected on the point thus selected, and the space around was cleared and
sown with grass seed. It is a short distance below the outlet of Lake
The outlet of Lake Pohenagamook and the point on the Northwest Branch
designated by the treaty having been thus ascertained and marked, in the
spring of 1844 a straight line was run between them. Along that line,
which passes entirely through forest, monuments were erected at every
mile, at the crossings of the principal streams and rivers, and at the
tops of those hills where a transit instrument had been set up to test
the straightness of the line.
As soon as the parallel of latitude 46 deg. 25' had been determined on the
Southwest Branch, in the early part of the summer of 1844, a straight
line was drawn from the boundary point on the Northwest Branch to a
large monument erected on the left bank of the Southwest Branch where it
is intersected by the parallel of latitude 46 deg. 25'. The line so drawn
crosses the Southwest Branch once before it reaches the parallel of
latitude 46 deg. 25', and at about half a mile distance from that parallel.
There also a large monument has been set up on the left bank.
From the intersection of the parallel 46 deg. 25' the boundary ascends the
Southwest Branch, passes through a lake near its head, and so up a small
stream which falls into the lake from the west to the source of that
stream, which has been selected as the source of the Southwest Branch.
On the Southwest Branch there are two principal forks, at each of
which two monuments have been erected, one on each bank of the river
immediately above the forks and upon the branch established as the
boundary. The maps point out their positions. At the mouth of the small
stream selected as the source of the Southwest Branch a monument has
been erected upon a delta formed by two small outlets. Above those
outlets three other monuments have been placed at intervals upon the
Upon the crest of the dividing ridge, very close to the source of the
Southwest Branch, a large monument has been erected. It is the first
point in the highlands, and from it the boundary runs along the crest
in a southerly direction, passing near to the southeastern shore of the
Portage Lake, and so on to a large monument erected on a small eminence
on the east side of the Kennebec road. Thence it passes through a
dwelling house called Tachereau's, which was standing there at the time
the line was run; so, by a tortuous course, it runs to the top of Sandy
Stream Mountain; thence, inclining to the southwest, it runs over Hog
Back the First, as shown in the maps; thence toward Hog Back the Second,
which it leaves on the north side. Further on, at the head of Leech
Lake, there is a stream which divides its waters and flows both into
Canada and into the United States. The boundary has been made to run up
that stream a short distance from the fork where the waters divide to a
second fork; thence between the streams which unite to form that fork,
and then to ascend again the dividing ridge. A monument has been erected
at the fork first mentioned, where the waters divide.
As the boundary approaches the valley of Spider River it bends to the
southeast, and, by a wide circuit over high and steep hills, it turns
the head of Spider River; thence it bends to the northwest until it
approaches within about 4 miles of Lake Megantic; thence it turns again
south, having the valley of Arnolds River on the right and of Dead River
on the left. It leaves Gasford Mountain in Canada, threads its way over
very high ground between the head of Arnolds River and the tributaries
of the Magalloway; inclines then to the north, so to the west, over very
rocky, mountainous, and difficult country, leaving Gipps Peak in the
United States, and turns by a sharp angle at Saddle Back to the south.
After that it again inclines to the west, and then to the south, and
again to the west, and passes the head of the Connecticut. About 3 miles
and a half east of the head of the Connecticut there is a division of
waters similar to that described near Leech Lake. The boundary runs down
a stream from near its source to the fork where it divides, and then
again follows the dividing ridge. The spot is noted on the map.
After the boundary has passed the head of the Connecticut it runs to the
northwest, descending into very low, swampy ground between the heads of
Indian Stream and the tributaries of the St. Francis. Thus it passes on,
bending again to the south of west, over a high hill, to the source of
Iron monuments have been erected at intervals along the highlands from
the source of the Southwest Branch of the St. John to the source of
Halls Stream, the position of each of which is shown upon the maps.
From the source of Halls Stream the boundary descends that river,
dividing the islands, which are, however, merely unimportant alluvial
deposits, in the manner indicated by the maps until it reaches the
intersection of that stream by the line formerly run by Valentine and
Collins as the forty-fifth degree of north latitude.
At that point a large monument has been erected on the right and a small
one on the left bank of the stream. Monuments have also been erected
along the bank of this stream, as indicated on the maps.
The line of Valentine and Collins was explored and found by the blazes
still remaining in the original forest.
Upon cutting into those blazes it was seen that deep seated in the tree
there was a scar, the surface of the original blaze, slightly decayed,
and upon counting the rings (which indicate each year's growth of the
tree) it was found that the blazes dated back to 1772, 1773, and 1774.
The line of Valentine and Collins was run in 1771, 1772, 1773, and 1774.
The coincidence of the dates of the blazes with those of the above line,
confirmed by the testimony of the people of the country, satisfied the
undersigned that the line they had found was that mentioned in the
treaty. Along this portion of the boundary, which is known as the
forty-fifth degree of Valentine and Collins, and which extends from
Halls Stream to St. Regis, there are several interruptions to the blazes
in those parts where clearings have been made, and there the authentic
marks of the precise situation of the old line have been lost. In those
cases the undersigned have drawn the boundary line straight from the
original blazes on the one side of a clearing to the original blazes on
the other side of the same clearing.
It can not be positively stated that the line as it has been traced
through those clearings precisely coincides with the old line, but the
undersigned believe that it does not differ materially from it; nor have
they had the means of determining a nearer or a surer approximation.
Along this line, at every point of deflection, an iron monument has been
erected; also at the crossing of rivers, lakes, and roads. Those which
mark deflections are placed, as on the "north line," anglewise with the
line; all the others are placed square with it. The maps show the
position of each.
On the eastern shore of Lake Memphremagog an astronomical station was
established, and on a large flat rock of granite, which happened to lie
between the astronomical station and the boundary, was cut the following
422 feet north.
595 feet south
_British Boundary Commission_
A mark was cut upon the stone, as indicated by the dot upon the meridian
line above, from which these measurements were made.
At Rouses Point a monument of wrought stone was set up at the
intersection of the boundary by the meridian of the transit instrument
used there by Major Graham, and an inscription was cut upon it stating
the latitude and longitude, the names of the observer and his assistant,
the names of the commissioners, and the territories divided.
To mark the position of the instruments used at the following
astronomical stations along the west line, two monuments within a few
feet of each other have been erected at each station, and they have been
placed on the boundary line due north or south of the instrument, as the
case may have been.
The stations are: Lake Memphremagog, Richford, John McCoy's, Trout River.
The boundary along the west line, though very far from being a straight
line, is generally about half a mile north of the true parallel of
latitude 45 deg. from Halls Stream to Rouses Point. At about 28 miles west
of Rouses Point it, however, crosses that parallel to the south until it
reaches Chateaugay River, where it bends northward, and, crossing the
parallel again about 4 miles east of St. Regis, it strikes the St.
Lawrence 151 feet north of 45 deg.. At that point a large monument has been
erected on the bank of the St. Lawrence. Two large monuments have also
been erected, one on either side of the river Richelieu near Rouses
No marks of the old line were to be found about St. Regis. It was
therefore agreed to run a line due west from the last blaze which should
be found in the woods on the east side of St. Regis. That blaze occurred
about 1 mile east of the St. Regis River.
The maps, which exhibit the boundary on a scale of 4 inches to 1 statute
mile, consist of 62 consecutive sheets of antiquarian paper as
constructed by the British and of 61 as constructed by the American
commission. A general map has also been constructed on a scale of 8
miles to 1 inch by the British and of 10 miles to 1 inch by the American
commission, upon which the before-mentioned sheets are represented.
The following portions of the boundary have been laid down by the
British commission, on detached maps, on a scale of 12 inches to 1 mile,
which have been signed by both commissioners:
Grand Falls of the St. John, including the intersection of that
river by the north line; islands of the St. John; the outlet of Lake
Pohenagamook; the turning point of the boundary on the Northwest Branch
of the St. John; the intersection of the Southwest Branch by the
parallel of latitude 46 deg. 25'; the source of the Southwest Branch; the
source of Halls Stream; the intersection of Halls Stream by the west
line; Rouses Point; St. Regis; Derby.
But similar maps have not been prepared by the American commission,
because during the interval between the finishing of the maps of the
British commission and those of the American it was thought that the
maps already constructed upon a scale of 4 inches to 1 mile represented
the boundary with sufficient clearness and accuracy.
The astronomical observations were begun at the Grand Falls early in
June, 1843, and were carried up the St. John River to the Northwest
Branch by a chain of stations, which, together with the results
obtained, are tabulated in the appendix accompanying this report.
From the valley of the St. John an astronomical connection was made with
Quebec, and thence to Montreal, and so to Rouses Point. From Rouses
Point a connection was obtained with Cambridge University, near Boston.
The astronomical stations on the west line were: Intersection of Halls
Stream by the west line, Lake Memphremagog, Richford, Rouses Point, John
McCoy's, Trout River, St. Regis.
Latitude was also obtained at an astronomical station established for
the purpose at the head of the Connecticut.
Volumes containing the astronomical observations of both commissions are
herewith submitted. From them it will be observed that the results for
absolute longitude obtained by the British and American astronomers do
not agree. It being a difference in no way affecting the survey of the
boundary line, the undersigned do not feel called upon to attempt to
reconcile it. The data upon which those results are based may be seen
in the volumes of observations accompanying this report.
In the appendix will be found, in a tabular form, the following:
An abstract of the survey of the boundary along the north line; an
abstract of the survey of the boundary along the southwest line; an
abstract of the survey of the boundary along the south line; an abstract
of the survey of the boundary along the highlands; an abstract of
the survey of the boundary along the west line; the position of the
monuments erected on the Southwest Branch of the St. John and on Halls
Stream; the distribution of the islands of the St. John and the
monuments on them; the guide lines and offsets run by each commission
for the survey of the highlands; the azimuths of verification for the
survey of the highlands; the latitudes and longitudes obtained from the
astronomical observations; the comparative longitudes obtained, and the
methods used for the purpose.
Upon comparing the maps of the two commissions it will be seen that the
American commission numbers two monuments more than the British. Those
are to be found, one on the "Fourth Island," in the river St. John, and
the other on the highlands between the source of the Southwest Branch of
the river St. John and the Kennebec road.
On the maps of the British commission representing the "west line" the
name of the town of "_Derby_" has been improperly placed north of the
line instead of south of it. Also, on the same maps the direction of
Salmon River, near the western extremity of the "west line," has been
incorrectly laid down from the boundary line northward. A direction has
been given to it northeasterly instead of northwesterly.
The above two corrections the British commissioner is authorized to make
on his maps after his return to England.
To avoid unnecessary delay in making their joint report, the undersigned
have attached their signatures to the maps, although the lettering
of some of the astronomical stations upon the maps of the American
commission, as well as the alterations before mentioned in the maps of
the British commission, are yet to be made; but in the maps of both the
boundary has been laid down accurately and definitively, and the
undersigned engage that it shall not be altered in any respect.
In conclusion the undersigned have the honor to report that the line of
boundary described in the foregoing statement has been run, marked, and
surveyed, and the accompanying maps faithfully constructed from that
The undersigned take leave to add that the most perfect harmony has
subsisted between the two commissions from first to last, and that no
differences have arisen between the undersigned in the execution of the
duties intrusted to them.
Signed and sealed in duplicate, at the city of Washington, this 28th day
of June, A.D. 1847.
J.B. BUCKNALL ESTCOURT, [SEAL.]
_Lieutenant-Colonel, Her Britannic Majesty's Commissioner_.
ALBERT SMITH, [SEAL.]
_United States Commissioner_.
NOTE.--The astronomical computations of the American commission not
being completed, and it being unnecessary to defer the signing of the
report on that account, the American commissioner engages to transmit
them, with any other papers or tables not yet finished, as soon as they
shall be so, to the British commissioner, through the American minister
resident in London, to whom, upon delivery of the documents, the British
commissioner will give a receipt, to be transmitted to the American
J. B. BUCKNALL ESTCOURT,
_Lieutenant-Colonel, H.B.M. Commissioner of Boundary_.
_United States Commissioner_.
WASHINGTON, _August 18, 1842_.
_To the Senate of the United States_:
I transmit to the Senate, for its consideration with a view to its
ratification, a treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation with the
Republic of Texas, negotiated at the seat of Government of the United
States between the Secretary of State, duly empowered for that purpose,
and the charge d'affaires of that Republic.
In forming the first commercial treaty between the two Governments an
anxious desire has been felt to introduce such provisions as should
promote the interests of both countries. The immediate proximity of
Texas to the United States and the consequent facility of intercourse,
the nature of its principal agricultural production, and the relations
which both countries bear to several large rivers which are boundaries
between them, and which in some part of their course run within the
territories of both, have caused peculiarities of condition and
interests which it has been necessary to guard.
The treaty provides that Texas shall enjoy a right of deposit for such
of her productions as may be introduced into the United States for
exportation, but upon the condition that the Executive of the United
States may prescribe such regulations as may be necessary for the proper
enjoyment of the privilege within our territory. It was thought no more
than reasonable to grant this facility to the trade of Texas, under such
conditions as seem best calculated to guard against abuse or
The treaty further provides that raw cotton may be imported from either
country into the other free of duties. In general it is not wise to
enter into treaty stipulations respecting duties of import; they are
usually much better left to the operation of general laws. But there are
circumstances existing in this case which have been thought to justify a
departure from the general rule, and the addition of it to the number of
instances, not large, in which regulations of duties of imports have
been made the subject of national compact.
The United States consume large quantities of raw cotton, but they are
exporters of the article to a still greater extent. Texas, for the
present at least, exports her whole crop. These exportations are, in
general, to the same foreign markets, and it is supposed to be of no
considerable importance to the American producer whether he meets the
Texan product at home or abroad.
On the other hand, it is thought that a useful commercial intercourse
would be promoted in several ways by receiving the raw cotton of Texas
at once into the United States free of duty. The tendency of such a
measure is to bring to the United States, in the first instance, Texan
cotton ultimately destined to European markets. The natural effect of
this, it is supposed, will be to increase the business of the cities of
the United States to the extent of this importation and exportation,
and to secure a further degree of employment to the navigation of the
country. But these are by no means all the benefits which may be
reasonably expected from the arrangement. Texas, at least for a
considerable time to come, must import all the manufactured articles
and much of the supplies and provisions necessary for her use and
consumption. These commodities she will be likely to obtain, if to be
had, in the markets of the country in which she disposes of her main
annual product. The manufactures of the North and East, therefore, and
the grain and provisions of the Western States are likely to find in
Texas a demand, increased by whatever augments intercourse between the
two countries, and especially by whatever tends to give attraction to
the cities of the United States as marts for the sale of her great and
principal article of export.
As a security, however, against unforeseen results or occurrences,
it has been thought advisable to give this article of the treaty a
limitation of five years.
WASHINGTON, _August 23, 1842_.
_To the Senate of the United States_:
A resolution of the Senate of the 21st of June last requested the
President to communicate to the Senate, so far as he might deem it
compatible with the public interests, what measures, if any, had been
taken to obtain the recognition by the Mexican Government of such claims
of American citizens as were laid before the late joint commission, but
were not finally acted on by it, and the satisfaction of such claims as
were admitted by said commission; also whether any facts had come to his
knowledge calculated to induce a belief that any such claims had been
rejected in consequence of the evidence thereof having been withheld
by the Mexican Government, its officers or agents, and any other
information which he might deem it expedient to communicate relative
to said claims; and another resolution of the 6th instant requested
the President, so far as he might deem it compatible with the public
service, to communicate to the Senate the measures taken to obtain the
performance of the stipulations contained in the convention with Mexico
in relation to the awards made by the commissioners and umpire under
In the present state of the correspondence and of the relations between
the two Governments on these important subjects it is not deemed
consistent with the public interest to communicate the information
requested. The business engages earnest attention, and will be made the
subject of a full communication to Congress at the earliest practicable
WASHINGTON, _August 24, 1842_.
_To the Senate of the United States_:
On the 15th day of April, 1842, in virtue of the sentence of a
court-martial regularly convened under orders from the Secretary of the
Navy, which received my approval, John H. Clack, who was a captain in
the Navy, was dismissed the service. Since the confirmation of that
sentence a letter has been addressed by Mr. Paulding, late Secretary
of the Navy, to Captain Clack, which leads to the belief that he had
analyzed the charges made against Captain Clack, and for reasons which
appeared to him satisfactory and which, according to his letter, he
indorsed on the charges, disposed of the case by refusing to submit it
to a court-martial.
Notwithstanding a diligent search has been made for this document, none
such can be found; but the only paper in the office having reference
to this subject is a letter addressed by Mr. Paulding to Lieutenant
Buchanan, a copy of which, together with the original of that of Mr. P.
to Captain C., is herewith communicated. I felt it, however, every way
due to the high character of Mr. Paulding to consider the fact stated by
him to be as well sustained by his declaration to that effect as if the
record was found, and as the court-martial would not have been ordered
by the present Secretary with the knowledge of the fact stated by Mr.
Paulding, since it would have been improper to have reopened a case once
finally disposed of, I have felt that it was alike due to the general
service of the Navy as to Mr. Clack to nominate him for reappointment
to the service.
I therefore nominate John H. Clack to be a captain in the Navy of the
WASHINGTON, _August 25, 1842_.
_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:
In answer to the resolution of the House of Representatives of the
11th of June last, upon the subject of claims of citizens of the United
States against the Government of the Mexican Republic, I transmit a
report from the Secretary of State and a copy of the report of the
commissioners on the part of the United States under the late convention
between the United States and that Republic.
WASHINGTON, _June 29, 1842_.
_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:
I return the bill, which originated in the House of Representatives,
entitled "An act to extend for a limited period the present laws for
laying and collecting duties on imports," with the following objections:
It suspends--in other words, abrogates for the time--the provision of
the act of 1833, commonly called the "compromise act." The only ground
on which this departure from the solemn adjustment of a great and
agitating question seems to have been regarded as expedient is the
alleged necessity of establishing by legislative enactments rules and
regulations for assessing the duties to be levied on imports after the
30th June according to the home valuation, and yet the bill expressly
provides that "if before the 1st of August there be no further
legislation upon the subject, the laws for laying and collecting duties
shall be the same as though this act had not been passed." In other
words, that the act of 1833, imperfect as it is considered, shall in
that case continue to be and to be executed under such rules and
regulations as previous statutes had prescribed or had enabled the
executive department to prescribe for that purpose, leaving the supposed
chasm in the revenue laws just as it was before.
I am certainly far from being disposed to deny that additional
legislation upon the subject is very desirable; on the contrary, the
necessity, as well as difficulty, of establishing uniformity in the
appraisements to be made in conformity with the true intention of that
act was brought to the notice of Congress in my message to Congress at
the opening of its present session. But however sensible I may be of
the embarrassments to which the Executive, in the absence of all aid
from the superior wisdom of the Legislature, will be liable in the
enforcement of the existing laws, I have not, with the sincerest wish to
acquiesce in its expressed will, been able to persuade myself that the
exigency of the occasion is so great as to justify me in signing the
bill in question with my present views of its character and effects. The
existing laws, as I am advised, are sufficient to authorize and enable
the collecting officers, under the directions of the Secretary of the
Treasury, to levy the duties imposed by the act of 1833.
That act was passed under peculiar circumstances, to which it is not
necessary that I should do more than barely allude. Whatever maybe,
in theory, its character, I have always regarded it as importing the
highest moral obligation. It has now existed for nine years unchanged in
any essential particular, with as general acquiescence, it is believed,
of the whole country as that country has ever manifested for any of her
wisely established institutions. It has insured to it the repose which
always flows from truly wise and moderate counsels--a repose the more
striking because of the long and angry agitations which preceded it.
This salutary law proclaims in express terms the principle which, while
it led to the abandonment of a scheme of indirect taxation founded on a
false basis and pushed to dangerous excess, justifies any enlargement
of duties that may be called for by the real exigencies of the public
service. It provides "that duties shall be laid for the purpose of
raising such revenue as may be necessary to an economical administration
of the Government." It is therefore in the power of Congress to lay
duties as high as its discretion may dictate for the necessary uses of
the Government without infringing upon the objects of the act of 1833.
I do not doubt that the exigencies of the Government do require an
increase of the tariff of duties above 20 per cent, and I as little
doubt that Congress may, above as well as below that rate, so
discriminate as to give incidental protection to manufacturing industry,
thus to make the burdens which it is compelled to impose upon the people
for the purposes of Government productive of a double benefit. This
most of the reasonable opponents of protective duties seem willing to
concede, and, if we may judge from the manifestations of public opinion
in all quarters, this is all that the manufacturing interests really
require. I am happy in the persuasion that this double object can be
most easily and effectually accomplished at the present juncture without
any departure from the spirit and principle of the statute in question.
The manufacturing classes have now an opportunity which may never occur
again of permanently identifying their interests with those of the whole
country, and making them, in the highest sense of the term, a national
concern. The moment is propitious to the interests of the whole country
in the introduction of harmony among all its parts and all its several
interests. The same rate of imposts, and no more, as will most surely
reestablish the public credit will secure to the manufacturer all the
protection he ought to desire, with every prospect of permanence and
stability which the hearty acquiescence of the whole country on a
reasonable system can hold out to him.
But of this universal acquiescence, and the harmony and confidence and
the many other benefits that will certainly result from it, I regard
the suspension of the law for distributing the proceeds of the sales
of the public lands as an indispensable condition. This measure is, in
my judgment, called for by a large number, if not a great majority, of
the people of the United States; by the state of the public credit and
finances; by the critical posture of our various foreign relations;
and, above all, by that most sacred of all duties--public faith. The
act of September last, which provides for the distribution, couples it
inseparably with the condition that it shall cease--first, in case of
war; second, as soon and so long as the rate of duties shall for any
reason whatever be raised above 20 per cent. Nothing can be more clear,
express, or imperative than this language. It is in vain to allege that
a deficit in the Treasury was known to exist and that means were taken
to supply this deficit by loan when the act was passed. It is true that
a loan was authorized at the same session during which the distribution
law was passed, but the most sanguine of the friends of the two measures
entertained no doubt but that the loan would be eagerly sought after and
taken up by capitalists and speedily reimbursed by a country destined,
as they hoped, soon to enjoy an overflowing prosperity. The very terms
of the loan, making it redeemable _in three years_, demonstrate this
beyond all cavil. Who at the time foresaw or imagined the possibility of
the present real state of things, when a nation that has paid off her
whole debt since the last peace, while all the other great powers have
been increasing theirs, and whose resources, already so great, are yet
but in the infancy of their development, should be compelled to haggle
in the money market for a paltry sum not equal to one year's revenue
upon her economical system? If the distribution law is to be
indefinitely suspended, according not only to its own terms, but by
universal consent, in the case of war, wherein are the actual exigencies
of the country or the moral obligation to provide for them less under
present circumstances than they could be were we actually involved in
war? It appears to me to be the indispensable duty of all concerned in
the administration of public affairs to see that a state of things so
humiliating and so perilous should not last a moment longer than is
absolutely unavoidable. Much less excusable should we be in parting
with any portion of our available means, at least until the demands
of the Treasury are fully supplied. But besides the urgency of such
considerations, the fact is undeniable that the distribution act could
not have become a law without the guaranty in the proviso of the act
This connection, thus meant to be inseparable, is severed by the bill
presented to me. The bill violates the principle of the acts of 1833 and
September, 1841, by suspending the first and rendering for a time the
last inoperative. Duties above 20 per cent are proposed to be levied,
and yet the _proviso_ in the distribution act is disregarded. The
proceeds of the sales are to be distributed on the 1st of August, so
that, while the duties proposed to be enacted exceed 20 per cent, no
suspension of the distribution to the States is permitted to take place.
To abandon the principle for a month is to open the way for its total
abandonment. If such is not meant, why postpone at all? Why not let the
distribution take place on the 1st of July if the law so directs (which,
however, is regarded as questionable)? But why not have limited the
provision to that effect? Is it for the accommodation of the Treasury?
I see no reason to believe that the Treasury will be in better condition
to meet the payment on the 1st of August than on the 1st of July.
The bill assumes that a distribution of the proceeds of the public
lands is, by existing laws, to be made on the 1st day of July, 1842,
notwithstanding there has been an imposition of duties on imports
exceeding 20 per cent up to that day, and directs it to be made on the
1st of August next. It seems to me very clear that this conclusion is
equally erroneous and dangerous, as it would divert from the Treasury a
fund sacredly pledged for the general purposes of the Government in the
event of a rate of duty above 20 per cent being found necessary for an
economical administration of the Government.
The bill under consideration is designed only as a temporary measure;
and thus a temporary measure, passed merely for the convenience of
Congress, is made to affect the vital principle of an important act.
If the proviso of the act of September, 1841, can be suspended for the
whole period of a temporary law, why not for the whole period of a
permanent law? In fact, a doubt may be well entertained, according to
strict legal rules, whether the condition, having been thus expressly
suspended by this bill and rendered inapplicable to a case where it
would otherwise have clearly applied, will not be considered as ever
after satisfied and gone. Without expressing any decided opinion on this
point, I see enough in it to justify me in adhering to the law as it
stands in preference to subjecting a condition so vitally affecting the
peace of the country, and so solemnly enacted at a momentous crisis, and
so steadfastly adhered to ever since, and so replete, if adhered to,
with good to every interest of the country, to doubtful or captious
In discharging the high duties thus imposed on me by the Constitution I
repeat to the House my entire willingness to cooperate in all financial
measures, constitutional and proper, which in its wisdom it may judge
necessary and proper to reestablish the credit of the Government.
I believe that the proceeds of the sales of the public lands being
restored to the Treasury--or, more properly speaking, the proviso of
the act of September, 1841, being permitted to remain in full force--a
tariff of duties may easily be adjusted, which, while it will yield a
revenue sufficient to maintain the Government in vigor by restoring its
credit, will afford ample protection and infuse a new life into all our
manufacturing establishments. The condition of the country calls for
such legislation, and it will afford me the most sincere pleasure to
cooperate in it.
WASHINGTON, _August 9, 1842_.
_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:
It is with unfeigned regret that I find myself under the necessity of
returning to the House of Representatives with my objections a bill
entitled "An act to provide revenue from imports, and to change and
modify existing laws imposing duties on imports, and for other
purposes." Nothing can be more painful to any individual called upon to
perform the Chief Executive duties under our limited Constitution than
to be constrained to withhold his assent from an important measure
adopted by the Legislature. Yet he would neither fulfill the high
purposes of his station nor consult the true interests or the solemn
will of the people--the common constituents of both branches of the
Government--by yielding his well-considered, most deeply fixed, and
repeatedly declared opinions on matters of great public concernment to
those of a coordinate department without requesting that department
seriously to reexamine the subject of their difference. The exercise of
some independence of judgment in regard to all acts of legislation is
plainly implied in the responsibility of approving them. At all times
a duty, it becomes a peculiarly solemn and imperative one when the
subjects passed upon by Congress happen to involve, as in the present
instance, the most momentous issues, to affect variously the various
parts of a great country, and to have given rise in all quarters to such
a conflict of opinion as to render it impossible to conjecture with any
certainty on which side the majority really is. Surely if the pause for
reflection intended by the wise authors of the Constitution by referring
the subject back to Congress for reconsideration be ever expedient and
necessary it is precisely such a case as the present.
On the subject of distributing the proceeds of the sales of the public
lands in the existing state of the finances it has been my duty to make
known my settled convictions on various occasions during the present
session of Congress. At the opening of the extra session, upward of
twelve months ago, sharing fully in the general hope of returning
prosperity and credit, I recommended such a distribution, but that
recommendation was even then expressly coupled with the condition that
the duties on imports should not exceed the rate of 20 per cent provided
by the compromise act of 1833. These hopes were not a little encouraged
and these views strengthened by the report of Mr. Ewing, then Secretary
of the Treasury, which was shortly thereafter laid before Congress, in
which he recommended the imposition of duties at the rate of 20 per cent
_ad valorem_ on all free articles, with specified exceptions, and stated
"if this measure be adopted there will be received in the Treasury from
customs in the last quarter of the present year (1841) $5,300,000; in
all of the year 1842, about $22,500,000; and in the year 1843, after the
final reduction under the act of March 2, 1833, about $20,800,000;" and
It is believed that after the heavy expenditures required by the public
service in the present year shall have been provided for, the revenues
which will accrue from that or a nearly approximate rate of duty will
be sufficient to defray the expenses of the Government and leave a
surplus to be annually applied to the gradual payment of the national
debt, leaving the proceeds of _the public lands_ to be disposed of as
Congress shall see fit.
I was most happy that Congress at the time seemed entirely to concur in
the recommendations of the Executive, and, anticipating the correctness
of the Secretary's conclusions, and in view of an actual surplus, passed
the distribution act of the 4th September last, wisely limiting its
operation by two conditions having reference, both of them, to a
possible state of the Treasury different from that which had been
anticipated by the Secretary of the Treasury and to the paramount
necessities of the public service. It ordained that "if at any time
during the existence of that act there should be an imposition of duties
on imports inconsistent with the provision of the act of the 2d March,
1833, and beyond the rate of duties fixed by that act, to wit, 20 per
cent on the value of such imports or any of them, then the distribution
should be suspended, and should continue so suspended until that cause
should be removed," By a previous clause it had, in a like spirit of
wise and cautious patriotism, provided for another case, in which all
are even now agreed, that the proceeds of the sales of the public lands
should be used for the defense of the country. It was enacted that the
act should continue and be in force until otherwise provided by law,
unless the United States should become involved in war with any foreign
power, in which event, from the commencement of hostilities, the act
should be suspended until the cessation of hostilities.
Not long after the opening of the present session of Congress the
unprecedented and extraordinary difficulties that have recently
embarrassed the finances of the country began to assume a serious
aspect. It soon became quite evident that the hopes under which the act
of 4th September was passed, and which alone justified it in the eyes
either of Congress who imposed or of the Executive who approved, the
first of the two conditions just recited were not destined to be
fulfilled. Under the pressure, therefore, of the embarrassments which
had thus unexpectedly arisen it appeared to me that the course to be
pursued had been clearly marked out for the Government by that act
itself. The condition contemplated in it as requiring a suspension of
its operation had occurred. It became necessary in the opinions of all
to raise the rate of duties upon imports above 20 per cent; and with a
view both to provide available means to meet present exigencies and to
lay the foundation for a successful negotiation of a loan, I felt it
incumbent on me to urge upon Congress to raise the duties accordingly,
imposing them in a spirit of a wise discrimination for the twofold
object of affording ample revenue for the Government and incidental
protection to the various branches of domestic industry. I also pressed,
in the most emphatic but respectful language I could employ, the
necessity of making the land sales available to the Treasury, as the
basis of public credit. I did not think that I could stand excused, much
less justified, before the people of the United States, nor could I
reconcile it to myself to recommend the imposition of additional taxes
upon them without at the same time urging the employment of all the
legitimate means of the Government toward satisfying its wants. These
opinions were communicated in advance of any definitive action of
Congress on the subject either of the tariff or land sales, under a high
sense of public duty and in compliance with an express injunction of the
Constitution, so that if a collision, extremely to be deprecated, as
such collisions always are, has seemingly arisen between the executive
and legislative branches of the Government, it has assuredly not been
owing to any capricious interference or to any want of a plain and frank
declaration of opinion on the part of the former. Congress differed in
its views with those of the Executive, as it had undoubtedly a right to
do, and passed a bill virtually for a time repealing the proviso of the
act of the 4th September, 1841. The bill was returned to the House in
which it originated with my objections to its becoming a law. With a
view to prevent, if possible, an open disagreement of opinion on a point
so important, I took occasion to declare that I regarded it as an
indispensable prerequisite to an increase of duties above 20 per cent
that the act of the 4th September should remain unrepealed in its
provisions. My reasons for that opinion were elaborately set forth
in the message which accompanied the return of the bill, which no
constitutional majority appears to have been found for passing into
The bill which is now before me proposes in its twenty-seventh section
the total repeal of one of the provisos in the act of September,
and, while it increases the duties above 20 per cent, directs an
unconditional distribution of the land proceeds. I am therefore
subjected a second time in the period of a few days to the necessity of
either giving my approval to a measure which, in my deliberate judgment,
is in conflict with great public interests or of returning it to the
House in which it originated with my objections. With all my anxiety for
the passage of a law which would replenish an exhausted Treasury and
furnish a sound and healthy encouragement to mechanical industry, I can
not consent to do so at the sacrifice of the peace and harmony of the
country and the clearest convictions of public duty.
For some of the reasons which have brought me to this conclusion I refer
to my previous messages to Congress, and briefly subjoin the following:
1. The bill unites two subjects which, so far from having any affinity
to one another, are wholly incongruous in their character. It is both a
revenue and an appropriation bill. It thus imposes on the Executive, in
the first place, the necessity of either approving that which he would
reject or rejecting that which he might otherwise approve. This is a
species of constraint to which the judgment of the Executive ought not,
in my opinion, to be subjected. But that is not my only objection to the
act in its present form. The union of subjects wholly dissimilar in
their character in the same bill, if it grew into a practice, would not
fail to lead to consequences destructive of all wise and conscientious
legislation. Various measures, each agreeable only to a small minority,
might by being thus united--and the more the greater chance of
success--lead to the passing of laws of which no single provision could
if standing alone command a majority in its favor.
2. While the Treasury is in a state of extreme embarrassment,
requiring every dollar which it can make available, and when the
Government has not only to lay additional taxes, but to borrow money
to meet pressing demands, the bill proposes to give away a fruitful
source of revenue--which is the same thing as raising money by loan
and taxation--not to meet the wants of the Government, but for
distribution--a proceeding which I must regard as highly impolitic,
if not unconstitutional.
A brief review of the present condition of the public finances will
serve to illustrate the true condition of the Treasury and exhibit
its actual necessities:
On the 5th of August (Friday last) there was
in the Treasury, in round numbers $2,150,000
Necessary to be retained to meet trust funds $360,000
Interest on public debt due in October 80,000
To redeem Treasury notes and pay the interest 100,000
Land distribution under the act of the 4th of
September, 1841 640,000
Leaving an available amount of 970,000
The Navy Department had drawn requisitions on the Treasury at that time
to meet debts actually due, among which are bills under protest for
$1,414,000, thus leaving an actual deficit of $444,000.
There was on hand about $100,000 of unissued Treasury notes, assisted by
the accruing revenue (amounting to about $150,000 per week, exclusive of
receipts on unpaid bonds), to meet requisitions for the Army and the
demands of the civil list.
The withdrawal of the sum of $640,000 to be distributed among the
States, so soon as the statements and accounts can be made up and
completed, by virtue of the provisions of the act of the 4th of
September last (of which nearly a moiety goes to a few States, and only
about $383,000 is to be divided among all the States), while it adds
materially to the embarrassments of the Treasury, affords to the States
no decided relief.
No immediate relief from this state of things is anticipated unless
(what would most deeply be deplored) the Government could be reconciled
to the negotiation of loans already authorized by law at a rate of
discount ruinous in itself and calculated most seriously to affect the
public credit. So great is the depression of trade that even if the
present bill were to become a law and prove to be productive some time
would elapse before sufficient supplies would flow into the Treasury,
while in the meantime its embarrassments would be continually augmented
by the semiannual distribution of the land proceeds.
Indeed, there is but too much ground to apprehend that even if this bill
were permitted to become a law--alienating, as it does, the proceeds of
the land sales--an actual deficit in the Treasury would occur, which
would more than probably involve the necessity of a resort to direct
Let it be also remarked that $5,500,000 of the public debt becomes
redeemable in about two years and a half, which at any sacrifice must
be met, while the Treasury is always liable to demands for the payment
of outstanding Treasury notes. Such is the gloomy picture which our
financial department now presents, and which calls for the exercise of a
rigid economy in the public expenditures and the rendering available of
all the means within the control of the Government. I most respectfully
submit whether this is a time to give away the proceeds of the land
sales when the public lands constitute a fund which of all others may be
made most useful in sustaining the public credit. Can the Government be
generous and munificent to others when every dollar it can command is
necessary to supply its own wants? And if Congress would not hesitate
to suffer the provisions of the act of 4th September last to remain
unrepealed in case the country was involved in war, is not the necessity
for such a course now just as imperative as it would be then?
3. A third objection remains to be urged, which would be sufficient in
itself to induce me to return the bill to the House with my objections.
By uniting two subjects so incongruous as tariff and distribution it
inevitably makes the fate of the one dependent upon that of the other
in future contests of party. Can anything be more fatal to the merchant
or manufacturer than such an alliance? What they most of all require
is a system of moderate duties so arranged as to withdraw the tariff
question, as far as possible, completely from the arena of political
contention. Their chief want is permanency and stability. Such an
increase of the tariff I believe to be necessary in order to meet the
economical expenditures of Government. Such an increase, made in the
spirit of moderation and judicious discrimination, would, I have no
doubt, be entirely satisfactory to the great majority of the American
people. In the way of accomplishing a measure so salutary and so
imperatively demanded by every public interest, the legislative
department will meet with a cordial cooperation on the part of the
Executive. This is all that the manufacturer can desire, and it would be
a burden readily borne by the people. But I can not too earnestly repeat
that in order to be beneficial it must be permanent, and in order to be
permanent it must command general acquiescence. But can such permanency
be justly hoped for if the tariff question be coupled with that of
distribution, as to which a serious conflict of opinion exists among the
States and the people, and which enlists in its support a bare majority,
if, indeed, there be a majority, of the two Houses of Congress? What
permanency or stability can attach to a measure which, warring upon
itself, gives away a fruitful source of revenue at the moment it
proposes a large increase of taxes on the people? Is the manufacturer
prepared to stake himself and his interests upon such an issue?
I know that it is urged (but most erroneously, in my opinion) that
instability is just as apt to be produced by retaining the public lands
as a source of revenue as from any other cause, and this is ascribed to
a constant fluctuation, as it is said, in the amount of sales. If there
were anything in this objection, it equally applies to every imposition
of duties on imports. The amount of revenue annually derived from duties
is constantly liable to change. The regulations of foreign governments,
the varying productiveness of other countries, periods of excitement
in trade, and a great variety of other circumstances are constantly
arising to affect the state of commerce, foreign and domestic, and, of
consequence, the revenue levied upon it. The sales of the public domain
in ordinary times are regulated by fixed laws which have their basis in
a demand increasing only in the ratio of the increase of population.
In recurring to the statistics connected with this subject it will be
perceived that for a period of ten years preceding 1834 the average
amount of land sales did not exceed $2,000,000. For the increase which
took place in 1834, 1835, and 1836 we are to look to that peculiar
condition of the country which grew out of one of the most extraordinary
excitements in business and speculation that has ever occurred in the
history of commerce and currency. It was the fruit of a wild spirit of
adventure engendered by a vicious system of credits, under the evils of
which the country is still laboring, and which it is fondly hoped will
not soon recur. Considering the vast amount of investments made by
private individuals in the public lands during those three years, and
which equaled $43,000,000 (equal to more than twenty years' purchase),
taking the average of sales of the ten preceding years, it may be safely
asserted that the result of the public-land sales can hold out nothing
to alarm the manufacturer with the idea of instability in the revenues
and consequently in the course of the Government.
Under what appears to me, therefore, the soundest considerations of
public policy, and in view of the interests of every branch of domestic
industry, I return you the bill with these my objections to its becoming
I take occasion emphatically to repeat my anxious desire to cooperate
with Congress in the passing of a law which, while it shall assist in
supplying the wants of the Treasury and reestablish public credit, shall
afford to the manufacturing interests of the country all the incidental
protection they require.
After all, the effect of what I do is substantially to call on Congress
to reconsider the subject. If on such reconsideration a majority of
two-thirds of both Houses should be in favor of this measure, it will
become a law notwithstanding my objections. In a case of clear and
manifest error on the part of the President the presumption of the
Constitution is that such majorities will be found. Should they be
so found in this case, having conscientiously discharged my own duty
I shall cheerfully acquiesce in the result.
[Footnote 79: The House of Representatives ordered that it be not
entered on the Journal.]
WASHINGTON, _August 30, 1842_.
_To the House of Representatives_:
By the Constitution of the United States it is provided that "every bill
which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate
shall before it become a law be presented to the President of the United
States; _if he approve_, he _shall_ sign it; but if _not_, he _shall_
return it with his objections to that House in which it shall have
originated, who shall enter the objections at large upon the Journal
and proceed to reconsider it."
In strict compliance with the positive obligation thus imposed upon me
by the Constitution, not having been able to bring myself to approve a
bill which originated in the House of Representatives entitled "An act
to provide revenue from imports, and to change and modify existing laws
imposing duties on imports, and for other purposes," I returned the same
to the House with my objections to its becoming a law. These objections,
which had entirely satisfied my own mind of the great impolicy, if not
unconstitutionality, of the measure, were presented in the most
respectful and even deferential terms. I would not have been so far
forgetful of what was due from one department of the Government to
another as to have intentionally employed in my official intercourse
with the House any language that could be in the slightest degree
offensive to those to whom it was addressed. If in assigning my
objections to the bill I had so far forgotten what was due to the
House of Representatives as to impugn its motives in passing the bill,
I should owe, not only to that House, but to the country, the most
profound apology. Such departure from propriety is, however, not
complained of in any proceeding which the House has adopted. It has,
on the contrary, been expressly made a subject of remark, and almost
of complaint, that the language in which my dissent was couched was
studiously guarded and cautious.
Such being the character of the official communication in question,
I confess I was wholly unprepared for the course which has been pursued
in regard to it. In the exercise of its power to regulate its own
proceedings the House for the first time, it is believed, in the history
of the Government thought proper to refer the message to a select
committee of its own body for the purpose, as my respect for the
House would have compelled me to infer, of deliberately weighing the
objections urged against the bill by the Executive with a view to its
own judgment upon the question of the final adoption or rejection of
Of the temper and feelings in relation to myself of some of the members
selected for the performance of this duty I have nothing to say.
That was a matter entirely within the discretion of the House of
Representatives. But that committee, taking a different view of its duty
from that which I should have supposed had led to its creation, instead
of confining itself to the objections urged against the bill availed
itself of the occasion formally to arraign the motives of the President
for others of his acts since his induction into office. In the absence
of all proof and, as I am bound to declare, against all law or precedent
in parliamentary proceedings, and at the same time in a manner which
it would be difficult to reconcile with the comity hitherto sacredly
observed in the intercourse between independent and coordinate
departments of the Government, it has assailed my whole official conduct
without the shadow of a pretext for such assault, and, stopping short
of impeachment, has charged me, nevertheless, with offenses declared
to deserve impeachment.
Had the extraordinary report which the committee thus made to the
House been permitted to remain without the sanction of the latter,
I should not have uttered a regret or complaint upon the subject.
But unaccompanied as it is by any particle of testimony to support the
charges it contains, without a deliberate examination, almost without
any discussion, the House of Representatives has been pleased to adopt
it as its own, and thereby to become my accuser before the country and
before the world. The high character of such an accuser, the gravity of
the charges which have been made, and the judgment pronounced against me
by the adoption of the report upon a distinct and separate vote of the
House leave me no alternative but to enter my solemn protest against
this proceeding as unjust to myself as a man, as an invasion of my
constitutional powers as Chief Magistrate of the American people, and as
a violation in my person of rights secured to every citizen by the laws
and the Constitution. That Constitution has intrusted to the House
of Representatives the sole power of impeachment. Such impeachment
is required to be tried before the most august tribunal known to
our institutions. The Senate of the United States, composed of the
representatives of the sovereignty of the States, is converted into a
hall of justice, and in order to insure the strictest observance of the
rules of evidence and of legal procedure the Chief Justice of the United
States, the highest judicial functionary of the land, is required to
preside over its deliberations. In the presence of such a judicatory the
voice of faction is presumed to be silent, and the sentence of guilt or
innocence is pronounced under the most solemn sanctions of religion, of
honor, and of law. To such a tribunal does the Constitution authorize
the House of Representatives to carry up its accusations against any
chief of the executive department whom it may believe to be guilty of
high crimes and misdemeanors. Before that tribunal the accused is
confronted with his accusers, and may demand the privilege, which the
justice of the common law secures to the humblest citizen, of a full,
patient, and impartial inquiry into the facts, upon the testimony of
witnesses rigidly cross-examined and deposing in the face of day.
If such a proceeding had been adopted toward me, unjust as I should
certainly have regarded it, I should, I trust, have met with a becoming
constancy a trial as painful as it would have been undeserved. I would
have manifested by a profound submission to the laws of my country my
perfect faith in her justice, and, relying on the purity of my motives
and the rectitude of my conduct, should have looked forward with
confidence to a triumphant refutation in the presence of that country
and by the solemn judgment of such a tribunal not only of whatever
charges might have been formally preferred against me, but of all the
calumnies of which I have hitherto been the unresisting victim. As
it is, I have been accused without evidence and condemned without a
hearing. As far as such proceedings can accomplish it, I am deprived of
public confidence in the administration of the Government and denied
even the boast of a good name--a name transmitted to me from a patriot
father, prized as my proudest inheritance, and carefully preserved for
those who are to come after me as the most precious of all earthly
possessions. I am not only subjected to imputations affecting my
character as an individual, but am charged with offenses against the
country so grave and so heinous as to deserve public disgrace and
disfranchisement. I am charged with violating pledges which I never
gave, and, because I execute what I believe to be the law, with usurping
powers not conferred by law, and, above all, with using the powers
conferred upon the President by the Constitution from corrupt motives
and for unwarrantable ends. And these charges are made without any
particle of evidence to sustain them, and, as I solemnly affirm,
without any foundation in truth.
Why is a proceeding of this sort adopted at this time? Is the occasion
for it found in the fact that having been elected to the second office
under the Constitution by the free and voluntary suffrages of the
people, I have succeeded to the first according to the express
provisions of the fundamental law of the same people? It is true that
the succession of the Vice-President to the Chief Magistracy has never
occurred before and that all prudent and patriotic minds have looked
on this new trial of the wisdom and stability of our institutions with
a somewhat anxious concern. I have been made to feel too sensibly
the difficulties of my unprecedented position not to know all that is
intended to be conveyed in the reproach cast upon a President without
a party. But I found myself placed in this most responsible station
by no usurpation or contrivance of my own. I was called to it, under
Providence, by the supreme law of the land and the deliberately declared
will of the people. It is by these that I have been clothed with the
high powers which they have seen fit to confide to their Chief Executive
and been charged with the solemn responsibility under which those powers
are to be exercised. It is to them that I hold myself answerable as a
moral agent for a free and conscientious discharge of the duties which
they have imposed upon me. It is not as an individual merely that I am
now called upon to resist the encroachments of unconstitutional power.
I represent the executive authority of the people of the United States,
and it is in their name, whose mere agent and servant I am, and whose
will declared in their fundamental law I dare not, even were I inclined,
to disobey, that I protest against every attempt to break down the
undoubted constitutional power of this department without a solemn
amendment of that fundamental law.
I am determined to uphold the Constitution in this as in other
respects to the utmost of my ability and in defiance of all personal
consequences. What may happen to an individual is of little importance,
but the Constitution of the country, or any one of its great and clear
principles and provisions, is too sacred to be surrendered under any
circumstances whatever by those who are charged with its protection and
defense. Least of all should he be held guiltless who, placed at the
head of one of the great departments of the Government, should shrink
from the exercise of its unquestionable authority on the most important
occasions and should consent without a struggle to efface all the
barriers so carefully erected by the people to control and circumscribe
the powers confided to their various agents. It may be desirable, as the
majority of the House of Representatives has declared it is, that no
such checks upon the will of the Legislature should be suffered to
continue. This is a matter for the people and States to decide, but
until they shall have decided it I shall feel myself bound to execute,
without fear or favor, the law as it has been written by our
I protest against this whole proceeding of the House of Representatives
as _ex parte_ and extrajudicial. I protest against it as subversive of
the common right of all citizens to be condemned only upon a fair and
impartial trial, according to law and evidence, before the country.
I protest against it as destructive of all the comity of intercourse
between the departments of this Government, and destined sooner or
later to lead to conflicts fatal to the peace of the country and the
integrity of the Constitution. I protest against it in the name of that
Constitution which is not only my own shield of protection and defense,
but that of every American citizen. I protest against it in the name of
the people, by whose will I stand where I do, by whose authority I
exercised the power which I am charged with having usurped, and to whom
I am responsible for a firm and faithful discharge according to my own
convictions of duty of the high stewardship confided to me by them.
I protest against it in the name of all regulated liberty and all
limited government as a proceeding tending to the utter destruction
of the checks and balances of the Constitution and the accumulating
in the hands of the House of Representatives, or a bare majority of
Congress for the time being, an uncontrolled and despotic power. And
I respectfully ask that this my protest may be entered upon the Journal
of the House of Representatives as a solemn and formal declaration for
all time to come against the injustice and unconstitutionality of such