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

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James Buchanan

March 4, 1857, to March 4, 1861

James Buchanan

James Buchanan was born near Mercersburg, Pa., April 23, 1791. His
father, James Buchanan, a Scotch-Irish farmer, came from the county of
Donegal, Ireland, in 1783. His mother was Elizabeth Speer. The future
President was educated at a school in Mercersburg and at Dickinson
College, Pennsylvania, where he was graduated in 1809. Began to practice
law in Lancaster in 1812. His first public address was made at the age
of 23 on the occasion of a popular meeting in Lancaster after the
capture of Washington by the British in 1814. Although a Federalist and
with his party opposed to the war, he urged the enlistment of volunteers
for the defense of Baltimore, and was among the first to enroll his
name. In October, 1814, was elected to the legislature of Pennsylvania
for Lancaster County, and again elected in 1815. At the close of his
term in the legislature retired to the practice of the law, gaining
early distinction. In 1820 was elected to Congress to represent a
district composed of Lancaster, York, and Dauphin counties, and took
his seat in December, 1821. He was called a Federalist, but the party
distinctions of that time were not clearly defined, and Mr. Buchanan's
political principles as a national statesman were yet to be formed.
His first speech in Congress was made in January, 1822, sustaining the
Administration of President Monroe, and of John C. Calhoun, Secretary
of War, in particular, with reference to a military establishment.
President Monroe's veto, in May, 1822, of a bill imposing tolls for
the support of the Cumberland road, for which Mr. Buchanan had voted,
produced a strong effect upon his constitutional views, and he began to
perceive the dividing line between the Federal and the State powers. He
remained in the House of Representatives ten years--during Mr. Monroe's
second term, through the Administration of John Quincy Adams, and during
the first two years of Jackson's Administration. In December, 1829,
became chairman of the Judiciary Committee of the House. During Mr.
Adams's term the friends of the Administration began to take the name
of National Republicans, while the opposing party assumed the name of
Democrats. Mr. Buchanan was one of the leaders of the opposition in
the House of Representatives. Was always a strong supporter and warm
personal friend of General Jackson. In March 1831, at the close of the
Twenty-first Congress, it was Mr. Buchanan's wish to retire from public
life, but at the request of President Jackson he accepted the mission
to Russia; negotiated a commercial treaty with that country. August 8,
1833, left St. Petersburg, spent a short time in Paris and London, and
reached home in November. In 1834 was appointed one of the commissioners
on the part of Pennsylvania to arrange with commissioners from New
Jersey concerning the use of the waters of the Delaware River. December
6, 1834, was elected to the United States Senate to fill a vacancy, and
was reelected in January, 1837. Was conspicuous in the Senate as a
supporter of Jackson's financial policy throughout his Administration
and that of his successor, Mr. Van Buren, of the same party. In 1839
declined the office of Attorney-General, tendered by President Van
Buren. In 1843 was elected to the Senate for a third term, and in 1844
his name was brought forward as the Democratic candidate of Pennsylvania
for the Presidential nomination, but before the national convention met
he withdrew his name. At the beginning of the Administration of James
K. Polk became Secretary of State, and as such had a number of important
questions to deal with, including the settlement of the boundary between
Oregon Territory and the British possessions and the annexation of
Texas, which resulted in the Mexican War. On the accession of Mr. Taylor
to the Presidency Mr. Buchanan retired for a time from official life.
Was an unsuccessful candidate for the Presidential nomination before
the Democratic national convention June 1, 1852. In April, 1853, was
appointed minister to England by President Pierce; was recalled at his
own request in 1855. June 3, 1856, was nominated for President of the
United States by the Democratic national convention at Cincinnati, Ohio,
and on November 4, 1856, was elected, receiving 174 electoral votes to
114 for John C. Fremont and 8 for Millard Fillmore. Was inaugurated
March 4, 1857. In 1860 refused the use of his name for renomination.
At the conclusion of his term returned to his home at Wheatland, near
Lancaster, Pa. Died June 1, 1868, and was buried at Wheatland.


FELLOW-CITIZENS: I appear before you this day to take the solemn oath
"that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United
States and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend
the Constitution of the United States."

In entering upon this great office I must humbly invoke the God of our
fathers for wisdom and firmness to execute its high and responsible
duties in such a manner as to restore harmony and ancient friendship
among the people of the several States and to preserve our free
institutions throughout many generations. Convinced that I owe my
election to the inherent love for the Constitution and the Union which
still animates the hearts of the American people, let me earnestly ask
their powerful support in sustaining all just measures calculated to
perpetuate these, the richest political blessings which Heaven has ever
bestowed upon any nation. Having determined not to become a candidate
for reelection, I shall have no motive to influence my conduct in
administering the Government except the desire ably and faithfully to
serve my country and to live in the grateful memory of my countrymen.

We have recently passed through a Presidential contest in which the
passions of our fellow-citizens were excited to the highest degree by
questions of deep and vital importance; but when the people proclaimed
their will the tempest at once subsided and all was calm.

The voice of the majority, speaking in the manner prescribed by the
Constitution, was heard, and instant submission followed. Our own
country could alone have exhibited so grand and striking a spectacle
of the capacity of man for self-government.

What a happy conception, then, was it for Congress to apply this simple
rule, that the will of the majority shall govern, to the settlement of
the question of domestic slavery in the Territories! Congress is neither
"to legislate slavery into any Territory or State nor to exclude it
therefrom, but to leave the people thereof perfectly free to form and
regulate their domestic institutions in their own way, subject only to
the Constitution of the United States."

As a natural consequence, Congress has also prescribed that when the
Territory of Kansas shall be admitted as a State it "shall be received
into the Union with or without slavery, as their constitution may
prescribe at the time of their admission."

A difference of opinion has arisen in regard to the point of time when
the people of a Territory shall decide this question for themselves.

This is, happily, a matter of but little practical importance. Besides,
it is a judicial question, which legitimately belongs to the Supreme
Court of the United States, before whom it is now pending, and will, it
is understood, be speedily and finally settled. To their decision, in
common with all good citizens, I shall cheerfully submit, whatever this
may be, though it has ever been my individual opinion that under the
Nebraska-Kansas act the appropriate period will be when the number of
actual residents in the Territory shall justify the formation of a
constitution with a view to its admission as a State into the Union.
But be this as it may, it is the imperative and indispensable duty
of the Government of the United States to secure to every resident
inhabitant the free and independent expression of his opinion by his
vote. This sacred right of each individual must be preserved. That
being accomplished, nothing can be fairer than to leave the people of a
Territory free from all foreign interference to decide their own destiny
for themselves, subject only to the Constitution of the United States.

The whole Territorial question being thus settled upon the principle
of popular sovereignty--a principle as ancient as free government
itself--everything of a practical nature has been decided. No other
question remains for adjustment, because all agree that under the
Constitution slavery in the States is beyond the reach of any human
power except that of the respective States themselves wherein it exists.
May we not, then, hope that the long agitation on this subject is
approaching its end, and that the geographical parties to which it has
given birth, so much dreaded by the Father of his Country, will speedily
become extinct? Most happy will it be for the country when the public
mind shall be diverted from this question to others of more pressing and
practical importance. Throughout the whole progress of this agitation,
which has scarcely known any intermission for more than twenty years,
whilst it has been productive of no positive good to any human being it
has been the prolific source of great evils to the master, to the slave,
and to the whole country. It has alienated and estranged the people of
the sister States from each other, and has even seriously endangered the
very existence of the Union. Nor has the danger yet entirely ceased.
Under our system there is a remedy for all mere political evils in
the sound sense and sober judgment of the people. Time is a great
corrective. Political subjects which but a few years ago excited and
exasperated the public mind have passed away and are now nearly
forgotten. But this question of domestic slavery is of far graver
importance than any mere political question, because should the
agitation continue it may eventually endanger the personal safety of a
large portion of our countrymen where the institution exists. In that
event no form of government, however admirable in itself and however
productive of material benefits, can compensate for the loss of peace
and domestic security around the family altar. Let every Union-loving
man, therefore, exert his best influence to suppress this agitation,
which since the recent legislation of Congress is without any legitimate

It is an evil omen of the times that men have undertaken to calculate
the mere material value of the Union. Reasoned estimates have been
presented of the pecuniary profits and local advantages which would
result to different States and sections from its dissolution and of the
comparative injuries which such an event would inflict on other States
and sections. Even descending to this low and narrow view of the mighty
question, all such calculations are at fault. The bare reference to a
single consideration will be conclusive on this point. We at present
enjoy a free trade throughout our extensive and expanding country such
as the world has never witnessed. This trade is conducted on railroads
and canals, on noble rivers and arms of the sea, which bind together
the North and the South, the East and the West, of our Confederacy.
Annihilate this trade, arrest its free progress by the geographical
lines of jealous and hostile States, and you destroy the prosperity and
onward march of the whole and every part and involve all in one common
ruin. But such considerations, important as they are in themselves, sink
into insignificance when we reflect on the terrific evils which would
result from disunion to every portion of the Confederacy--to the North
not more than to the South, to the East not more than to the West. These
I shall not attempt to portray, because I feel an humble confidence that
the kind Providence which inspired our fathers with wisdom to frame the
most perfect form of government and union ever devised by man will not
suffer it to perish until it shall have been peacefully instrumental by
its example in the extension of civil and religious liberty throughout
the world.

Next in importance to the maintenance of the Constitution and the Union
is the duty of preserving the Government free from the taint or even the
suspicion of corruption. Public virtue is the vital spirit of republics,
and history proves that when this has decayed and the love of money has
usurped its place, although the forms of free government may remain for
a season, the substance has departed forever.

Our present financial condition is without a parallel in history.
No nation has ever before been embarrassed from too large a surplus
in its treasury. This almost necessarily gives birth to extravagant
legislation. It produces wild schemes of expenditure and begets a race
of speculators and jobbers, whose ingenuity is exerted in contriving and
promoting expedients to obtain public money. The purity of official
agents, whether rightfully or wrongfully, is suspected, and the
character of the government suffers in the estimation of the people.
This is in itself a very great evil.

The natural mode of relief from this embarrassment is to appropriate the
surplus in the Treasury to great national objects for which a clear
warrant can be found in the Constitution. Among these I might mention
the extinguishment of the public debt, a reasonable increase of the
Navy, which is at present inadequate to the protection of our vast
tonnage afloat, now greater than that of any other nation, as well as
to the defense of our extended seacoast.

It is beyond all question the true principle that no more revenue ought
to be collected from the people than the amount necessary to defray
the expenses of a wise, economical, and efficient administration of
the Government. To reach this point it was necessary to resort to a
modification of the tariff, and this has, I trust, been accomplished in
such a manner as to do as little injury as may have been practicable to
our domestic manufactures, especially those necessary for the defense
of the country. Any discrimination against a particular branch for the
purpose of benefiting favored corporations, individuals, or interests
would have been unjust to the rest of the community and inconsistent
with that spirit of fairness and equality which ought to govern in the
adjustment of a revenue tariff.

But the squandering of the public money sinks into comparative
insignificance as a temptation to corruption when compared with the
squandering of the public lands.

No nation in the tide of time has ever been blessed with so rich and
noble an inheritance as we enjoy in the public lands. In administering
this important trust, whilst it may be wise to grant portions of them
for the improvement of the remainder, yet we should never forget that it
is our cardinal policy to reserve these lands, as much as may be, for
actual settlers, and this at moderate prices. We shall thus not only
best promote the prosperity of the new States and Territories, by
furnishing them a hardy and independent race of honest and industrious
citizens, but shall secure homes for our children and our children's
children, as well as for those exiles from foreign shores who may seek
in this country to improve their condition and to enjoy the blessings of
civil and religious liberty. Such emigrants have done much to promote
the growth and prosperity of the country. They have proved faithful both
in peace and in war. After becoming citizens they are entitled, under
the Constitution and laws, to be placed on a perfect equality with
native-born citizens, and in this character they should ever be kindly

The Federal Constitution is a grant from the States to Congress of
certain specific powers, and the question whether this grant should be
liberally or strictly construed has more or less divided political
parties from the beginning. Without entering into the argument, I desire
to state at the commencement of my Administration that long experience
and observation have convinced me that a strict construction of the
powers of the Government is the only true, as well as the only safe,
theory of the Constitution. Whenever in our past history doubtful powers
have been exercised by Congress, these have never failed to produce
injurious and unhappy consequences. Many such instances might be adduced
if this were the proper occasion. Neither is it necessary for the public
service to strain the language of the Constitution, because all the
great and useful powers required for a successful administration of
the Government, both in peace and in war, have been granted, either
in express terms or by the plainest implication.

Whilst deeply convinced of these truths, I yet consider it clear that
under the war-making power Congress may appropriate money toward the
construction of a military road when this is absolutely necessary for
the defense of any State or Territory of the Union against foreign
invasion. Under the Constitution Congress has power "to declare war,"
"to raise and support armies," "to provide and maintain a navy," and to
call forth the militia to "repel invasions." Thus endowed, in an ample
manner, with the war-making power, the corresponding duty is required
that "the United States shall protect each of them [the States] against
invasion." Now, how is it possible to afford this protection to
California and our Pacific possessions except by means of a military
road through the Territories of the United States, over which men and
munitions of war may be speedily transported from the Atlantic States to
meet and to repel the invader? In the event of a war with a naval power
much stronger than our own we should then have no other available
access to the Pacific Coast, because such a power would instantly close
the route across the isthmus of Central America. It is impossible to
conceive that whilst the Constitution has expressly required Congress
to defend all the States it should yet deny to them, by any fair
construction, the only possible means by which one of these States can
be defended. Besides, the Government, ever since its origin, has been in
the constant practice of constructing military roads. It might also be
wise to consider whether the love for the Union which now animates our
fellow-citizens on the Pacific Coast may not be impaired by our neglect
or refusal to provide for them, in their remote and isolated condition,
the only means by which the power of the States on this side of the
Rocky Mountains can reach them in sufficient time to "protect" them
"against invasion." I forbear for the present from expressing an opinion
as to the wisest and most economical mode in which the Government can
lend its aid in accomplishing this great and necessary work. I believe
that many of the difficulties in the way, which now appear formidable,
will in a great degree vanish as soon as the nearest and best route
shall have been satisfactorily ascertained.

It may be proper that on this occasion I should make some brief remarks
in regard to our rights and duties as a member of the great family of
nations. In our intercourse with them there are some plain principles,
approved by our own experience, from which we should never depart. We
ought to cultivate peace, commerce, and friendship with all nations,
and this not merely as the best means of promoting our own material
interests, but in a spirit of Christian benevolence toward our
fellow-men, wherever their lot may be cast. Our diplomacy should be
direct and frank, neither seeking to obtain more nor accepting less than
is our due. We ought to cherish a sacred regard for the independence of
all nations, and never attempt to interfere in the domestic concerns
of any unless this shall be imperatively required by the great law of
self-preservation. To avoid entangling alliances has been a maxim of our
policy ever since the days of Washington, and its wisdom no one will
attempt to dispute. In short, we ought to do justice in a kindly spirit
to all nations and require justice from them in return.

It is our glory that whilst other nations have extended their dominions
by the sword we have never acquired any territory except by fair
purchase or, as in the case of Texas, by the voluntary determination of
a brave, kindred, and independent people to blend their destinies with
our own. Even our acquisitions from Mexico form no exception. Unwilling
to take advantage of the fortune of war against a sister republic, we
purchased these possessions under the treaty of peace for a sum which
was considered at the time a fair equivalent. Our past history forbids
that we shall in the future acquire territory unless this be sanctioned
by the laws of justice and honor. Acting on this principle, no nation
will have a right to interfere or to complain if in the progress of
events we shall still further extend our possessions. Hitherto in all
our acquisitions the people, under the protection of the American flag,
have enjoyed civil and religious liberty, as well as equal and just
laws, and have been contented, prosperous, and happy. Their trade with
the rest of the world has rapidly increased, and thus every commercial
nation has shared largely in their successful progress.

I shall now proceed to take the oath prescribed by the Constitution,
whilst humbly invoking the blessing of Divine Providence on this great

MARCH 4, 1857.


WASHINGTON, _December 8, 1857_.

_Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives_:

In obedience to the command of the Constitution, it has now become my
duty "to give to Congress information of the state of the Union and
recommend to their consideration such measures" as I judge to be
"necessary and expedient."

But first and above all, our thanks are due to Almighty God for the
numerous benefits which He has bestowed upon this people, and our united
prayers ought to ascend to Him that He would continue to bless our great
Republic in time to come as He has blessed it in time past. Since the
adjournment of the last Congress our constituents have enjoyed an
unusual degree of health. The earth has yielded her fruits abundantly
and has bountifully rewarded the toil of the husbandman. Our great
staples have commanded high prices, and up till within a brief period
our manufacturing, mineral, and mechanical occupations have largely
partaken of the general prosperity. We have possessed all the elements
of material wealth in rich abundance, and yet, notwithstanding all these
advantages, our country in its monetary interests is at the present
moment in a deplorable condition. In the midst of unsurpassed plenty in
all the productions of agriculture and in all the elements of national
wealth, we find our manufactures suspended, our public works retarded,
our private enterprises of different kinds abandoned, and thousands
of useful laborers thrown out of employment and reduced to want. The
revenue of the Government, which is chiefly derived from duties on
imports from abroad, has been greatly reduced, whilst the appropriations
made by Congress at its last session for the current fiscal year are
very large in amount.

Under these circumstances a loan may be required before the close of
your present session; but this, although deeply to be regretted, would
prove to be only a slight misfortune when compared with the suffering
and distress prevailing among the people. With this the Government can
not fail deeply to sympathize, though it may be without the power to
extend relief.

It is our duty to inquire what has produced such unfortunate results and
whether their recurrence can be prevented. In all former revulsions the
blame might have been fairly attributed to a variety of cooperating
causes, but not so upon the present occasion. It is apparent that our
existing misfortunes have proceeded solely from our extravagant and
vicious system of paper currency and bank credits, exciting the people
to wild speculations and gambling in stocks. These revulsions must
continue to recur at successive intervals so long as the amount of the
paper currency and bank loans and discounts of the country shall be left
to the discretion of 1,400 irresponsible banking institutions, which
from the very law of their nature will consult the interest of their
stockholders rather than the public welfare.

The framers of the Constitution, when they gave to Congress the power
"to coin money and to regulate the value thereof" and prohibited the
States from coining money, emitting bills of credit, or making anything
but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts, supposed they had
protected the people against the evils of an excessive and irredeemable
paper currency. They are not responsible for the existing anomaly that
a Government endowed with the sovereign attribute of coining money and
regulating the value thereof should have no power to prevent others
from driving this coin out of the country and filling up the channels
of circulation with paper which does not represent gold and silver.

It is one of the highest and most responsible duties of Government to
insure to the people a sound circulating medium, the amount of which
ought to be adapted with the utmost possible wisdom and skill to the
wants of internal trade and foreign exchanges. If this be either greatly
above or greatly below the proper standard, the marketable value of
every man's property is increased or diminished in the same proportion,
and injustice to individuals as well as incalculable evils to the
community are the consequence.

Unfortunately, under the construction of the Federal Constitution
which has now prevailed too long to be changed this important and
delicate duty has been dissevered from the coining power and virtually
transferred to more than 1,400 State banks acting independently of each
other and regulating their paper issues almost exclusively by a regard
to the present interest of their stockholders. Exercising the sovereign
power of providing a paper currency instead of coin for the country,
the first duty which these banks owe to the public is to keep in
their vaults a sufficient amount of gold and silver to insure the
convertibility of their notes into coin at all times and under all
circumstances. No bank ought ever to be chartered without such
restrictions on its business as to secure this result. All other
restrictions are comparatively vain. This is the only true touchstone,
the only efficient regulator of a paper currency--the only one which
can guard the public against overissues and bank suspensions. As a
collateral and eventual security, it is doubtless wise, and in all cases
ought to be required, that banks shall hold an amount of United States
or State securities equal to their notes in circulation and pledged for
their redemption. This, however, furnishes no adequate security against
overissues. On the contrary, it may be perverted to inflate the
currency. Indeed, it is possible by this means to convert all the debts
of the United States and State Governments into bank notes, without
reference to the specie required to redeem them. However valuable these
securities may be in themselves, they can not be converted into gold
and silver at the moment of pressure, as our experience teaches, in
sufficient time to prevent bank suspensions and the depreciation of
bank notes. In England, which is to a considerable extent a paper-money
country, though vastly behind our own in this respect, it was deemed
advisable, anterior to the act of Parliament of 1844, which wisely
separated the issue of notes from the banking department, for the Bank
of England always to keep on hand gold and silver equal to one-third of
its combined circulation and deposits. If this proportion was no more
than sufficient to secure the convertibility of its notes with the whole
of Great Britain and to some extent the continent of Europe as a field
for its circulation, rendering it almost impossible that a sudden and
immediate run to a dangerous amount should be made upon it, the same
proportion would certainly be insufficient under our banking system.
Each of our 1,400 banks has but a limited circumference for its
circulation, and in the course of a very few days the depositors and
note holders might demand from such a bank a sufficient amount in specie
to compel it to suspend, even although it had coin in its vaults equal
to one-third of its immediate liabilities. And yet I am not aware, with
the exception of the banks of Louisiana, that any State bank throughout
the Union has been required by its charter to keep this or any other
proportion of gold and silver compared with the amount of its combined
circulation and deposits. What has been the consequence? In a recent
report made by the Treasury Department on the condition of the banks
throughout the different States, according to returns dated nearest to
January, 1857, the aggregate amount of actual specie in their vaults is
$58,349,838, of their circulation $214,778,822, and of their deposits
$230,351,352. Thus it appears that these banks in the aggregate have
considerably less than one dollar in seven of gold and silver compared
with their circulation and deposits. It was palpable, therefore, that
the very first pressure must drive them to suspension and deprive the
people of a convertible currency, with all its disastrous consequences.
It is truly wonderful that they should have so long continued to
preserve their credit when a demand for the payment of one-seventh of
their immediate liabilities would have driven them into insolvency. And
this is the condition of the banks, notwithstanding that four hundred
millions of gold from California have flowed in upon us within the last
eight years, and the tide still continues to flow. Indeed, such has been
the extravagance of bank credits that the banks now hold a considerably
less amount of specie, either in proportion to their capital or to their
circulation and deposits combined, than they did before the discovery of
gold in California. Whilst in the year 1848 their specie in proportion
to their capital was more than equal to one dollar for four and a half,
in 1857 it does not amount to one dollar for every six dollars and
thirty-three cents of their capital. In the year 1848 the specie was
equal within a very small fraction to one dollar in five of their
circulation and deposits; in 1857 it is not equal to one dollar in
seven and a half of their circulation and deposits.

From this statement it is easy to account for our financial history for
the last forty years. It has been a history of extravagant expansions
in the business of the country, followed by ruinous contractions. At
successive intervals the best and most enterprising men have been
tempted to their ruin by excessive bank loans of mere paper credit,
exciting them to extravagant importations of foreign goods, wild
speculations, and ruinous and demoralizing stock gambling. When the
crisis arrives, as arrive it must, the banks can extend no relief to the
people. In a vain struggle to redeem their liabilities in specie they
are compelled to contract their loans and their issues, and at last,
in the hour of distress, when their assistance is most needed, they and
their debtors together sink into insolvency.

It is this paper system of extravagant expansion, raising the nominal
price of every article far beyond its real value when compared with
the cost of similar articles in countries whose circulation is wisely
regulated, which has prevented us from competing in our own markets with
foreign manufacturers, has produced extravagant importations, and has
counteracted the effect of the large incidental protection afforded
to our domestic manufactures by the present revenue tariff. But for
this the branches of our manufactures composed of raw materials,
the production of our own country--such as cotton, iron, and woolen
fabrics--would not only have acquired almost exclusive possession of
the home market, but would have created for themselves a foreign market
throughout the world.

Deplorable, however, as may be our present financial condition, we
may yet indulge in bright hopes for the future. No other nation has
ever existed which could have endured such violent expansions and
contractions of paper credits without lasting injury; yet the buoyancy
of youth, the energies of our population, and the spirit which never
quails before difficulties will enable us soon to recover from our
present financial embarrassments, and may even occasion us speedily
to forget the lesson which they have taught.

In the meantime it is the duty of the Government, by all proper means
within its power, to aid in alleviating the sufferings of the people
occasioned by the suspension of the banks and to provide against a
recurrence of the same calamity. Unfortunately, in either aspect of the
case it can do but little. Thanks to the independent treasury, the
Government has not suspended payment, as it was compelled to do by
the failure of the banks in 1837. It will continue to discharge its
liabilities to the people in gold and silver. Its disbursements in coin
will pass into circulation and materially assist in restoring a sound
currency. From its high credit, should we be compelled to make a
temporary loan, it can be effected on advantageous terms. This, however,
shall if possible be avoided, but if not, then the amount shall be
limited to the lowest practicable sum.

I have therefore determined that whilst no useful Government works
already in progress shall be suspended, new works not already commenced
will be postponed if this can be done without injury to the country.
Those necessary for its defense shall proceed as though there had been
no crisis in our monetary affairs.

But the Federal Government can not do much to provide against a
recurrence of existing evils. Even if insurmountable constitutional
objections did not exist against the creation of a national bank, this
would furnish no adequate preventive security. The history of the last
Bank of the United States abundantly proves the truth of this assertion.
Such a bank could not, if it would, regulate the issues and credits of
1,400 State banks in such a manner as to prevent the ruinous expansions
and contractions in our currency which afflicted the country throughout
the existence of the late bank, or secure us against future suspensions.
In 1825 an effort was made by the Bank of England to curtail the issues
of the country banks under the most favorable circumstances. The paper
currency had been expanded to a ruinous extent, and the bank put forth
all its power to contract it in order to reduce prices and restore the
equilibrium of the foreign exchanges. It accordingly commenced a system
of curtailment of its loans and issues, in the vain hope that the joint
stock and private banks of the Kingdom would be compelled to follow its
example. It found, however, that as it contracted they expanded, and at
the end of the process, to employ the language of a very high official
authority, "whatever reduction of the paper circulation was effected by
the Bank of England (in 1825) was more than made up by the issues of the
country banks."

But a bank of the United States would not, if it could, restrain the
issues and loans of the State banks, because its duty as a regulator
of the currency must often be in direct conflict with the immediate
interest of its stockholders. If we expect one agent to restrain or
control another, their interests must, at least in some degree, be
antagonistic. But the directors of a bank of the United States would
feel the same interest and the same inclination with the directors of
the State banks to expand the currency, to accommodate their favorites
and friends with loans, and to declare large dividends. Such has been
our experience in regard to the last bank.

After all, we must mainly rely upon the patriotism and wisdom of the
States for the prevention and redress of the evil. If they will afford
us a real specie basis for our paper circulation by increasing the
denomination of bank notes, first to twenty and afterwards to fifty
dollars; if they will require that the banks shall at all times keep on
hand at least one dollar of gold and silver for every three dollars
of their circulation and deposits, and if they will provide by a
self-executing enactment, which nothing can arrest, that the moment they
suspend they shall go into liquidation, I believe that such provisions,
with a weekly publication by each bank of a statement of its condition,
would go far to secure us against future suspensions of specie payments.

Congress, in my opinion, possess the power to pass a uniform bankrupt
law applicable to all banking institutions throughout the United
States, and I strongly recommend its exercise. This would make it the
irreversible organic law of each bank's existence that a suspension
of specie payments shall produce its civil death. The instinct of
self-preservation would then compel it to perform its duties in such
a manner as to escape the penalty and preserve its life.

The existence of banks and the circulation of bank paper are so
identified with the habits of our people that they can not at this day
be suddenly abolished without much immediate injury to the country.
If we could confine them to their appropriate sphere and prevent them
from administering to the spirit of wild and reckless speculation by
extravagant loans and issues, they might be continued with advantage
to the public.

But this I say, after long and much reflection: If experience shall
prove it to be impossible to enjoy the facilities which well-regulated
banks might afford without at the same time suffering the calamities
which the excesses of the banks have hitherto inflicted upon the
country, it would then be far the lesser evil to deprive them altogether
of the power to issue a paper currency and confine them to the functions
of banks of deposit and discount.

Our relations with foreign governments are upon the whole in a
satisfactory condition.

The diplomatic difficulties which existed between the Government of the
United States and that of Great Britain at the adjournment of the last
Congress have been happily terminated by the appointment of a British
minister to this country, who has been cordially received.

Whilst it is greatly to the interest, as I am convinced it is the
sincere desire, of the Governments and people of the two countries to
be on terms of intimate friendship with each other, it has been our
misfortune almost always to have had some irritating, if not dangerous,
outstanding question with Great Britain.

Since the origin of the Government we have been employed in negotiating
treaties with that power, and afterwards in discussing their true intent
and meaning. In this respect the convention of April 19, 1850, commonly
called the Clayton and Bulwer treaty, has been the most unfortunate
of all, because the two Governments place directly opposite and
contradictory constructions upon its first and most important article.
Whilst in the United States we believed that this treaty would place
both powers upon an exact equality by the stipulation that neither will
ever "occupy, or fortify, or colonize, or assume, or exercise any
dominion" over any part of Central America, it is contended by the
British Government that the true construction of this language has left
them in the rightful possession of all that portion of Central America
which was in their occupancy at the date of the treaty; in fact, that
the treaty is a virtual recognition on the part of the United States of
the right of Great Britain, either as owner or protector, to the whole
extensive coast of Central America, sweeping round from the Rio Hondo to
the port and harbor of San Juan de Nicaragua, together with the adjacent
Bay Islands, except the comparatively small portion of this between the
Sarstoon and Cape Honduras. According to their construction, the treaty
does no more than simply prohibit them from extending their possessions
in Central America beyond the present limits. It is not too much to
assert that if in the United States the treaty had been considered
susceptible of such a construction it never would have been negotiated
under the authority of the President, nor would it have received the
approbation of the Senate. The universal conviction in the United States
was that when our Government consented to violate its traditional and
time-honored policy and to stipulate with a foreign government never to
occupy or acquire territory in the Central American portion of our own
continent, the consideration for this sacrifice was that Great Britain
should, in this respect at least, be placed in the same position with
ourselves. Whilst we have no right to doubt the sincerity of the British
Government in their construction of the treaty, it is at the same time
my deliberate conviction that this construction is in opposition both
to its letter and its spirit.

Under the late Administration negotiations were instituted between
the two Governments for the purpose, if possible, of removing these
difficulties, and a treaty having this laudable object in view was
signed at London on the 17th October, 1856, and was submitted by the
President to the Senate on the following 10th of December. Whether
this treaty, either in its original or amended form, would have
accomplished the object intended without giving birth to new and
embarrassing complications between the two Governments, may perhaps
be well questioned. Certain it is, however, it was rendered much less
objectionable by the different amendments made to it by the Senate. The
treaty as amended was ratified by me on the 12th March, 1857, and was
transmitted to London for ratification by the British Government. That
Government expressed its willingness to concur in all the amendments
made by the Senate with the single exception of the clause relating to
Ruatan and the other islands in the Bay of Honduras. The article in the
original treaty as submitted to the Senate, after reciting that these
islands and their inhabitants "having been, by a convention bearing date
the 27th day of August, 1856, between Her Britannic Majesty and the
Republic of Honduras, constituted and declared a free territory under
the sovereignty of the said Republic of Honduras," stipulated that
"the two contracting parties do hereby mutually engage to recognize
and respect in all future time the independence and rights of the said
free territory as a part of the Republic of Honduras."

Upon an examination of this convention between Great Britain and
Honduras of the 27th August, 1856, it was found that whilst declaring
the Bay Islands to be "a free territory under the sovereignty of the
Republic of Honduras" it deprived that Republic of rights without which
its sovereignty over them could scarcely be said to exist. It divided
them from the remainder of Honduras and gave to their inhabitants a
separate government of their own, with legislative, executive, and
judicial officers elected by themselves. It deprived the Government of
Honduras of the taxing power in every form and exempted the people of
the islands from the performance of military duty except for their
own exclusive defense. It also prohibited that Republic from erecting
fortifications upon them for their protection, thus leaving them open
to invasion from any quarter; and, finally, it provided "that slavery
shall not at any time hereafter be permitted to exist therein."

Had Honduras ratified this convention, she would have ratified the
establishment of a state substantially independent within her own
limits, and a state at all times subject to British influence and
control. Moreover, had the United States ratified the treaty with Great
Britain in its original form, we should have been bound "to recognize
and respect in all future time" these stipulations to the prejudice of
Honduras. Being in direct opposition to the spirit and meaning of the
Clayton and Bulwer treaty as understood in the United States, the Senate
rejected the entire clause, and substituted in its stead a simple
recognition of the sovereign right of Honduras to these islands in
the following language:

The two contracting parties do hereby mutually engage to recognize and
respect the islands of Ruatan, Bonaco, Utila, Barbaretta, Helena, and
Morat, situate in the Bay of Honduras and off the coast of the Republic
of Honduras, as under the sovereignty and as part of the said Republic
of Honduras.

Great Britain rejected this amendment, assigning as the only reason that
the ratifications of the convention of the 27th August, 1856, between
her and Honduras had not been "exchanged, owing to the hesitation of
that Government." Had this been done, it is stated that "Her Majesty's
Government would have had little difficulty in agreeing to the
modification proposed by the Senate, which then would have had in effect
the same signification as the original wording." Whether this would have
been the effect, whether the mere circumstance of the exchange of the
ratifications of the British convention with Honduras prior in point
of time to the ratification of our treaty with Great Britain would "in
effect" have had "the same signification as the original wording," and
thus have nullified the amendment of the Senate, may well be doubted.
It is, perhaps, fortunate that the question has never arisen.

The British Government, immediately after rejecting the treaty as
amended, proposed to enter into a new treaty with the United States,
similar in all respects to the treaty which they had just refused to
ratify, if the United States would consent to add to the Senate's clear
and unqualified recognition of the sovereignty of Honduras over the Bay
Islands the following conditional stipulation:

Whenever and so soon as the Republic of Honduras shall have concluded
and ratified a treaty with Great Britain by which Great Britain shall
have ceded and the Republic of Honduras shall have accepted the said
islands, subject to the provisions and conditions contained in such

This proposition was, of course, rejected. After the Senate had refused
to recognize the British convention with Honduras of the 27th August,
1856, with full knowledge of its contents, it was impossible for me,
necessarily ignorant of "the provisions and conditions" which might be
contained in a future convention between the same parties, to sanction
them in advance.

The fact is that when two nations like Great Britain and the United
States, mutually desirous, as they are, and I trust ever may be,
of maintaining the most friendly relations with each other, have
unfortunately concluded a treaty which they understand in senses
directly opposite, the wisest course is to abrogate such a treaty by
mutual consent and to commence anew. Had this been done promptly,
all difficulties in Central America would most probably ere this have
been adjusted to the satisfaction of both parties. The time spent in
discussing the meaning of the Clayton and Bulwer treaty would have been
devoted to this praiseworthy purpose, and the task would have been the
more easily accomplished because the interest of the two countries in
Central America is identical, being confined to securing safe transits
over all the routes across the Isthmus.

Whilst entertaining these sentiments, I shall, nevertheless, not refuse
to contribute to any reasonable adjustment of the Central American
questions which is not practically inconsistent with the American
interpretation of the treaty. Overtures for this purpose have been
recently made by the British Government in a friendly spirit, which I
cordially reciprocate, but whether this renewed effort will result in
success I am not yet prepared to express an opinion. A brief period will

With France our ancient relations of friendship still continue to exist.
The French Government have in several recent instances, which need not
be enumerated, evinced a spirit of good will and kindness toward our
country, which I heartily reciprocate. It is, notwithstanding, much to
be regretted that two nations whose productions are of such a character
as to invite the most extensive exchanges and freest commercial
intercourse should continue to enforce ancient and obsolete restrictions
of trade against each other. Our commercial treaty with France is in
this respect an exception from our treaties with all other commercial
nations. It jealously levies discriminating duties both on tonnage and
on articles the growth, produce, or manufacture of the one country when
arriving in vessels belonging to the other.

More than forty years ago, on the 3d March, 1815, Congress passed an act
offering to all nations to admit their vessels laden with their national
productions into the ports of the United States upon the same terms
with our own vessels provided they would reciprocate to us similar
advantages. This act confined the reciprocity to the productions of
the respective foreign nations who might enter into the proposed
arrangement with the United States. The act of May 24, 1828, removed
this restriction and offered a similar reciprocity to all such vessels
without reference to the origin of their cargoes. Upon these principles
our commercial treaties and arrangements have been founded, except with
France, and let us hope that this exception may not long exist.

Our relations with Russia remain, as they have ever been, on the most
friendly footing. The present Emperor, as well as his predecessors, have
never failed when the occasion offered to manifest their good will to
our country, and their friendship has always been highly appreciated by
the Government and people of the United States.

With all other European Governments, except that of Spain, our relations
are as peaceful as we could desire. I regret to say that no progress
whatever has been made since the adjournment of Congress toward the
settlement of any of the numerous claims of our citizens against the
Spanish Government. Besides, the outrage committed on our flag by the
Spanish war frigate _Ferrolana_ on the high seas off the coast of
Cuba in March, 1855, by firing into the American mail steamer _El
Dorado_ and detaining and searching her, remains unacknowledged and
unredressed. The general tone and temper of the Spanish Government
toward that of the United States are much to be regretted. Our present
envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to Madrid has asked to
be recalled, and it is my purpose to send out a new minister to Spain
with special instructions on all questions pending between the two
Governments, and with a determination to have them speedily and amicably
adjusted if this be possible. In the meantime, whenever our minister
urges the just claims of our citizens on the notice of the Spanish
Government he is met with the objection that Congress has never made the
appropriation recommended by President Polk in his annual message of
December, 1847, "to be paid to the Spanish Government for the purpose of
distribution among the claimants in the _Amistad_ case." A similar
recommendation was made by my immediate predecessor in his message of
December, 1853, and entirely concurring with both in the opinion that
this indemnity is justly due under the treaty with Spain of the 27th
of October, 1795, I earnestly recommend such an appropriation to the
favorable consideration of Congress.

A treaty of friendship and commerce was concluded at Constantinople
on the 13th December, 1856, between the United States and Persia, the
ratifications of which were exchanged at Constantinople on the 13th
June, 1857, and the treaty was proclaimed by the President on the 18th
August, 1857. This treaty, it is believed, will prove beneficial to
American commerce. The Shah has manifested an earnest disposition to
cultivate friendly relations with our country, and has expressed a
strong wish that we should be represented at Teheran by a minister
plenipotentiary; and I recommend that an appropriation be made for
this purpose.

Recent occurrences in China have been unfavorable to a revision of the
treaty with that Empire of the 3d July, 1844, with a view to the
security and extension of our commerce. The twenty-fourth article of
this treaty stipulated for a revision of it in case experience should
prove this to be requisite, "in which case the two Governments will, at
the expiration of twelve years from the date of said convention, treat,
amicably concerning the same by means of suitable persons appointed to
conduct such negotiations." These twelve years expired on the 3d July,
1856, but long before that period it was ascertained that important
changes in the treaty were necessary, and several fruitless attempts
were made by the commissioner of the United States to effect these
changes. Another effort was about to be made for the same purpose by our
commissioner in conjunction with the ministers of England and France,
but this was suspended by the occurrence of hostilities in the Canton
River between Great Britain and the Chinese Empire. These hostilities
have necessarily interrupted the trade of all nations with Canton, which
is now in a state of blockade, and have occasioned a serious loss of
life and property. Meanwhile the insurrection within the Empire against
the existing imperial dynasty still continues, and it is difficult to
anticipate what will be the result.

Under these circumstances I have deemed it advisable to appoint a
distinguished citizen of Pennsylvania envoy extraordinary and minister
plenipotentiary to proceed to China and to avail himself of any
opportunities which may offer to effect changes in the existing treaty
favorable to American commerce. He left the United States for the place
of his destination in July last in the war steamer _Minnesota_. Special
ministers to China have also been appointed by the Governments of Great
Britain and France.

Whilst our minister has been instructed to occupy a neutral position
in reference to the existing hostilities at Canton, he will cordially
cooperate with the British and French ministers in all peaceful measures
to secure by treaty stipulations those just concessions to commerce
which the nations of the world have a right to expect and which China
can not long be permitted to withhold. From assurances received I
entertain no doubt that the three ministers will act in harmonious
concert to obtain similar commercial treaties for each of the powers
they represent.

We can not fail to feel a deep interest in all that concerns the welfare
of the independent Republics on our own continent, as well as of the
Empire of Brazil.

Our difficulties with New Granada, which a short time since bore so
threatening an aspect, are, it is to be hoped, in a fair train of
settlement in a manner just and honorable to both parties.

The isthmus of Central America, including that of Panama, is the great
highway between the Atlantic and Pacific over which a large portion of
the commerce of the world is destined to pass. The United States are
more deeply interested than any other nation in preserving the freedom
and security of all the communications across this isthmus. It is our
duty, therefore, to take care that they shall not be interrupted either
by invasions from our own country or by wars between the independent
States of Central America. Under our treaty with New Granada of the 12th
December, 1846, we are bound to guarantee the neutrality of the Isthmus
of Panama, through which the Panama Railroad passes, "as well as the
rights of sovereignty and property which New Granada has and possesses
over the said territory." This obligation is founded upon equivalents
granted by the treaty to the Government and people of the United States.

Under these circumstances I recommend to Congress the passage of an act
authorizing the President, in case of necessity, to employ the land and
naval forces of the United States to carry into effect this guaranty of
neutrality and protection. I also recommend similar legislation for the
security of any other route across the Isthmus in which we may acquire
an interest by treaty.

With the independent Republics on this continent it is both our duty and
our interest to cultivate the most friendly relations. We can never feel
indifferent to their fate, and must always rejoice in their prosperity.
Unfortunately both for them and for us, our example and advice have lost
much of their influence in consequence of the lawless expeditions which
have been fitted out against some of them within the limits of our
country. Nothing is better calculated to retard our steady material
progress or impair our character as a nation than the toleration of
such enterprises in violation of the law of nations.

It is one of the first and highest duties of any independent state
in its relations with the members of the great family of nations to
restrain its people from acts of hostile aggression against their
citizens or subjects. The most eminent writers on public law do not
hesitate to denounce such hostile acts as robbery and murder.

Weak and feeble states like those of Central America may not feel
themselves able to assert and vindicate their rights. The case would be
far different if expeditions were set on foot within our own territories
to make private war against a powerful nation. If such expeditions
were fitted out from abroad against any portion of our own country,
to burn down our cities, murder and plunder our people, and usurp our
Government, we should call any power on earth to the strictest account
for not preventing such enormities.

Ever since the Administration of General Washington acts of Congress
have been enforced to punish severely the crime of setting on foot a
military expedition within the limits of the United States to proceed
from thence against a nation or state with whom we are at peace. The
present neutrality act of April 20, 1818, is but little more than
a collection of preexisting laws. Under this act the President is
empowered to employ the land and naval forces and the militia "for
the purpose of preventing the carrying on of any such expedition or
enterprise from the territories and jurisdiction of the United States,"
and the collectors of customs are authorized and required to detain any
vessel in port when there is reason to believe she is about to take part
in such lawless enterprises.

When it was first rendered probable that an attempt would be made to get
up another unlawful expedition against Nicaragua, the Secretary of State
issued instructions to the marshals and district attorneys, which were
directed by the Secretaries of War and the Navy to the appropriate army
and navy officers, requiring them to be vigilant and to use their best
exertions in carrying into effect the provisions of the act of 1818.
Notwithstanding these precautions, the expedition has escaped from our
shores. Such enterprises can do no possible good to the country, but
have already inflicted much injury both on its interests and its
character. They have prevented peaceful emigration from the United
States to the States of Central America, which could not fail to prove
highly beneficial to all the parties concerned. In a pecuniary point of
view alone our citizens have sustained heavy losses from the seizure and
closing of the transit route by the San Juan between the two oceans.

The leader of the recent expedition was arrested at New Orleans, but
was discharged on giving bail for his appearance in the insufficient
sum of $2,000.

I commend the whole subject to the serious attention of Congress,
believing that our duty and our interest, as well as our national
character, require that we should adopt such measures as will be
effectual in restraining our citizens from committing such outrages.

I regret to inform you that the President of Paraguay has refused to
ratify the treaty between the United States and that State as amended by
the Senate, the signature of which was mentioned in the message of my
predecessor to Congress at the opening of its session in December, 1853.
The reasons assigned for this refusal will appear in the correspondence
herewith submitted.

It being desirable to ascertain the fitness of the river La Plata and
its tributaries for navigation by steam, the United States steamer
_Water Witch_ was sent thither for that purpose in 1853. This enterprise
was successfully carried on until February, 1855, when, whilst in the
peaceful prosecution of her voyage up the Parana River, the steamer
was fired upon by a Paraguayan fort. The fire was returned, but as
the _Water Witch_ was of small force and not designed for offensive
operations, she retired from the conflict. The pretext upon which the
attack was made was a decree of the President of Paraguay of October,
1854, prohibiting foreign vessels of war from navigating the rivers of
that State. As Paraguay, however, was the owner of but one bank of the
river of that name, the other belonging to Corientes, a State of the
Argentine Confederation, the right of its Government to expect that such
a decree would be obeyed can not be acknowledged. But the _Water Witch_
was not, properly speaking, a vessel of war. She was a small steamer
engaged in a scientific enterprise intended for the advantage of
commercial states generally. Under these circumstances I am constrained
to consider the attack upon her as unjustifiable and as calling for
satisfaction from the Paraguayan Government.

Citizens of the United States also who were established in business in
Paraguay have had their property seized and taken from them, and have
otherwise been treated by the authorities in an insulting and arbitrary
manner, which requires redress.

A demand for these purposes will be made in a firm but conciliatory
spirit. This will the more probably be granted if the Executive shall
have authority to use other means in the event of a refusal. This is
accordingly recommended.

It is unnecessary to state in detail the alarming condition of the
Territory of Kansas at the time of my inauguration. The opposing parties
then stood in hostile array against each other, and any accident might
have relighted the flames of civil war. Besides, at this critical moment
Kansas was left without a governor by the resignation of Governor Geary.

On the 19th of February previous the Territorial legislature had passed
a law providing for the election of delegates on the third Monday of
June to a convention to meet on the first Monday of September for the
purpose of framing a constitution preparatory to admission into the
Union. This law was in the main fair and just, and it is to be regretted
that all the qualified electors had not registered themselves and voted
under its provisions.

At the time of the election for delegates an extensive organization
existed in the Territory whose avowed object it was, if need be, to put
down the lawful government by force and to establish a government of
their own under the so-called Topeka constitution. The persons attached
to this revolutionary organization abstained from taking any part in the

The act of the Territorial legislature had omitted to provide for
submitting to the people the constitution which might be framed by the
convention, and in the excited state of public feeling throughout Kansas
an apprehension extensively prevailed that a design existed to force
upon them a constitution in relation to slavery against their will.
In this emergency it became my duty, as it was my unquestionable
right, having in view the union of all good citizens in support of the
Territorial laws, to express an opinion on the true construction of the
provisions concerning slavery contained in the organic act of Congress
of the 30th May, 1854. Congress declared it to be "the true intent and
meaning of this act not to legislate slavery into any Territory or
State, nor to exclude it therefrom, but to leave the people thereof
perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic institutions in their
own way." Under it Kansas, "when admitted as a State," was to "be
received into the Union with or without slavery, as their constitution
may prescribe at the time of their admission."

Did Congress mean by this language that the delegates elected to frame
a constitution should have authority finally to decide the question of
slavery, or did they intend by leaving it to the people that the people
of Kansas themselves should decide this question by a direct vote? On
this subject I confess I had never entertained a serious doubt, and
therefore in my instructions to Governor Walker of the 28th March last
I merely said that when "a constitution shall be submitted to the people
of the Territory they must be protected in the exercise of their right
of voting for or against that instrument, and the fair expression of the
popular will must not be interrupted by fraud or violence."

In expressing this opinion it was far from my intention to interfere
with the decision of the people of Kansas, either for or against
slavery. From this I have always carefully abstained. Intrusted with the
duty of taking "care that the laws be faithfully executed," my only
desire was that the people of Kansas should furnish to Congress the
evidence required by the organic act, whether for or against slavery,
and in this manner smooth their passage into the Union. In emerging from
the condition of Territorial dependence into that of a sovereign State
it was their duty, in my opinion, to make known their will by the votes
of the majority on the direct question whether this important domestic
institution should or should not continue to exist. Indeed, this was
the only possible mode in which their will could be authentically

The election of delegates to a convention must necessarily take place in
separate districts. From this cause it may readily happen, as has often
been the case, that a majority of the people of a State or Territory are
on one side of a question, whilst a majority of the representatives from
the several districts into which it is divided may be upon the other
side. This arises from the fact that in some districts delegates may
be elected by small majorities, whilst in others those of different
sentiments may receive majorities sufficiently great not only to
overcome the votes given for the former, but to leave a large majority
of the whole people in direct opposition to a majority of the delegates.
Besides, our history proves that influences may be brought to bear on
the representative sufficiently powerful to induce him to disregard the
will of his constituents. The truth is that no other authentic and
satisfactory mode exists of ascertaining the will of a majority of the
people of any State or Territory on an important and exciting question
like that of slavery in Kansas except by leaving it to a direct vote.
How wise, then, was it for Congress to pass over all subordinate and
intermediate agencies and proceed directly to the source of all
legitimate power under our institutions!

How vain would any other principle prove in practice! This may be
illustrated by the case of Kansas. Should she be admitted into the Union
with a constitution either maintaining or abolishing slavery against
the sentiment of the people, this could have no other effect than to
continue and to exasperate the existing agitation during the brief
period required to make the constitution conform to the irresistible
will of the majority.

The friends and supporters of the Nebraska and Kansas act, when
struggling on a recent occasion to sustain its wise provisions before
the great tribunal of the American people, never differed about its true
meaning on this subject. Everywhere throughout the Union they publicly
pledged their faith and their honor that they would cheerfully submit
the question of slavery to the decision of the _bona fide_ people of
Kansas, without any restriction or qualification whatever. All were
cordially united upon the great doctrine of popular sovereignty, which
is the vital principle of our free institutions. Had it then been
insinuated from any quarter that it would be a sufficient compliance
with the requisitions of the organic law for the members of a convention
thereafter to be elected to withhold the question of slavery from
the people and to substitute their own will for that of a legally
ascertained majority of all their constituents, this would have been
instantly rejected. Everywhere they remained true to the resolution
adopted on a celebrated occasion recognizing "the right of the people of
all the Territories, including Kansas and Nebraska, acting through the
legally and fairly expressed will of a majority of actual residents,
and whenever the number of their inhabitants justifies it, to form a
constitution with or without slavery and be admitted into the Union upon
terms of perfect equality with the other States."

The convention to frame a constitution for Kansas met on the first
Monday of September last. They were called together by virtue of an
act of the Territorial legislature, whose lawful existence had been
recognized by Congress in different forms and by different enactments.
A large proportion of the citizens of Kansas did not think proper to
register their names and to vote at the election for delegates; but an
opportunity to do this having been fairly afforded, their refusal to
avail themselves of their right could in no manner affect the legality
of the convention.

This convention proceeded to frame a constitution for Kansas, and
finally adjourned on the 7th day of November. But little difficulty
occurred in the convention except on the subject of slavery. The truth
is that the general provisions of our recent State constitutions are
so similar and, I may add, so excellent that the difference between
them is not essential. Under the earlier practice of the Government no
constitution framed by the convention of a Territory preparatory to its
admission into the Union as a State had been submitted to the people.
I trust, however, the example set by the last Congress, requiring that
the constitution of Minnesota "should be subject to the approval and
ratification of the people of the proposed State," may be followed on
future occasions. I took it for granted that the convention of Kansas
would act in accordance with this example, founded, as it is, on correct
principles, and hence my instructions to Governor Walker in favor of
submitting the constitution to the people were expressed in general and
unqualified terms.

In the Kansas-Nebraska act, however, this requirement, as applicable to
the whole constitution, had not been inserted, and the convention were
not bound by its terms to submit any other portion of the instrument to
an election except that which relates to the "domestic institution"
of slavery. This will be rendered clear by a simple reference to its
language. It was "not to legislate slavery into any Territory or State,
nor to exclude it therefrom, but to leave the people thereof perfectly
free to form and regulate their domestic institutions in their own way."
According to the plain construction of the sentence, the words "domestic
institutions" have a direct, as they have an appropriate, reference to
slavery. "Domestic institutions" are limited to the family The relation
between master and slave and a few others are "domestic institutions,"
and are entirely distinct from institutions of a political character.
Besides, there was no question then before Congress, nor, indeed, has
there since been any serious question before the people of Kansas or
the country, except that which relates to the "domestic institution"
of slavery.

The convention, after an angry and excited debate, finally determined,
by a majority of only two, to submit the question of slavery to the
people, though at the last forty-three of the fifty delegates present
affixed their signatures to the constitution.

A large majority of the convention were in favor of establishing slavery
in Kansas. They accordingly inserted an article in the constitution for
this purpose similar in form to those which had been adopted by other
Territorial conventions. In the schedule, however, providing for the
transition from a Territorial to a State government the question has
been fairly and explicitly referred to the people whether they will have
a constitution "with or without slavery." It declares that before the
constitution adopted by the convention "shall be sent to Congress for
admission into the Union as a State" an election shall be held to decide
this question, at which all the white male inhabitants of the Territory
above the age of 21 are entitled to vote. They are to vote by ballot,
and "the ballots cast at said election shall be indorsed 'constitution
with slavery' and 'constitution with no slavery.'" If there be a
majority in favor of the "constitution with slavery," then it is to
be transmitted to Congress by the president of the convention in its
original form; if, on the contrary, there shall be a majority in favor
of the "constitution with no slavery," "then the article providing for
slavery shall be stricken from the constitution by the president of this
convention;" and it is expressly declared that "no slavery shall exist
in the State of Kansas, except that the right of property in slaves now
in the Territory shall in no manner be interfered with;" and in that
event it is made his duty to have the constitution thus ratified
transmitted to the Congress of the United States for the admission of
the State into the Union.

At this election every citizen will have an opportunity of expressing
his opinion by his vote "whether Kansas shall be received into the
Union with or without slavery," and thus this exciting question may be
peacefully settled in the very mode required by the organic law. The
election will be held under legitimate authority, and if any portion of
the inhabitants shall refuse to vote, a fair opportunity to do so having
been presented, this will be their own voluntary act and they alone will
be responsible for the consequences.

Whether Kansas shall be a free or a slave State must eventually, under
some authority, be decided by an election; and the question can never
be more clearly or distinctly presented to the people than it is at the
present moment. Should this opportunity be rejected she may be involved
for years in domestic discord, and possibly in civil war, before she can
again make up the issue now so fortunately tendered and again reach the
point she has already attained.

Kansas has for some years occupied too much of the public attention.
It is high time this should be directed to far more important objects.
When once admitted into the Union, whether with or without slavery, the
excitement beyond her own limits will speedily pass away, and she will
then for the first time be left, as she ought to have been long since,
to manage her own affairs in her own way. If her constitution on the
subject of slavery or on any other subject be displeasing to a majority
of the people, no human power can prevent them from changing it within
a brief period. Under these circumstances it may well be questioned
whether the peace and quiet of the whole country are not of greater
importance than the mere temporary triumph of either of the political
parties in Kansas.

Should the constitution without slavery be adopted by the votes of the
majority, the rights of property in slaves now in the Territory are
reserved. The number of these is very small, but if it were greater the
provision would be equally just and reasonable. The slaves were brought
into the Territory under the Constitution of the United States and are
now the property of their masters. This point has at length been finally
decided by the highest judicial tribunal of the country, and this upon
the plain principle that when a confederacy of sovereign States acquire
a new territory at their joint expense both equality and justice demand
that the citizens of one and all of them shall have the right to take
into it whatsoever is recognized as property by the common Constitution.
To have summarily confiscated the property in slaves already in the
Territory would have been an act of gross injustice and contrary to the
practice of the older States of the Union which have abolished slavery.

A Territorial government was established for Utah by act of Congress
approved the 9th September, 1850, and the Constitution and laws of the
United States were thereby extended over it "so far as the same or any
provisions thereof may be applicable." This act provided for the
appointment by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the
Senate, of a governor (who was to be _ex officio_ superintendent of
Indian affairs), a secretary, three judges of the supreme court, a
marshal, and a district attorney. Subsequent acts provided for the
appointment of the officers necessary to extend our land and our Indian
system over the Territory. Brigham Young was appointed the first
governor on the 20th September, 1850, and has held the office ever
since. Whilst Governor Young has been both governor and superintendent
of Indian affairs throughout this period, he has been at the same time
the head of the church called the Latter-day Saints, and professes to
govern its members and dispose of their property by direct inspiration
and authority from the Almighty. His power has been, therefore, absolute
over both church and state.

The people of Utah almost exclusively belong to this church, and
believing with a fanatical spirit that he is governor of the Territory
by divine appointment, they obey his commands as if these were direct
revelations from Heaven. If, therefore, he chooses that his government
shall come into collision with the Government of the United States, the
members of the Mormon Church will yield implicit obedience to his will.
Unfortunately, existing facts leave but little doubt that such is his
determination. Without entering upon a minute history of occurrences,
it is sufficient to say that all the officers of the United States,
judicial and executive, with the single exception of two Indian agents,
have found it necessary for their own personal safety to withdraw from
the Territory, and there no longer remains any government in Utah but
the despotism of Brigham Young. This being the condition of affairs in
the Territory, I could not mistake the path of duty. As Chief Executive
Magistrate I was bound to restore the supremacy of the Constitution and
laws within its limits. In order to effect this purpose, I appointed a
new governor and other Federal officers for Utah and sent with them a
military force for their protection and to aid as a _posse comitatus_
in case of need in the execution of the laws.

With the religious opinions of the Mormons, as long as they remained
mere opinions, however deplorable in themselves and revolting to the
moral and religious sentiments of all Christendom, I had no right to
interfere. Actions alone, when in violation of the Constitution and
laws of the United States, become the legitimate subjects for the
jurisdiction of the civil magistrate. My instructions to Governor
Cumming have therefore been framed in strict accordance with these
principles. At their date a hope was indulged that no necessity might
exist for employing the military in restoring and maintaining the
authority of the law, but this hope has now vanished. Governor Young has
by proclamation declared his determination to maintain his power by
force, and has already committed acts of hostility against the United
States. Unless he should retrace his steps the Territory of Utah will be
in a state of open rebellion. He has committed these acts of hostility
notwithstanding Major Van Vliet, an officer of the Army, sent to Utah
by the Commanding General to purchase provisions for the troops, had
given him the strongest assurances of the peaceful intentions of the
Government, and that the troops would only be employed as a _posse
comitatus_ when called on by the civil authority to aid in the execution
of the laws.

There is reason to believe that Governor Young has long contemplated
this result. He knows that the continuance of his despotic power depends
upon the exclusion of all settlers from the Territory except those who
will acknowledge his divine mission and implicitly obey his will,
and that an enlightened public opinion there would soon prostrate
institutions at war with the laws both of God and man. He has therefore
for several years, in order to maintain his independence, been
industriously employed in collecting and fabricating arms and munitions
of war and in disciplining the Mormons for military service. As
superintendent of Indian affairs he has had an opportunity of tampering
with the Indian tribes and exciting their hostile feelings against the
United States. This, according to our information, he has accomplished
in regard to some of these tribes, while others have remained true to
their allegiance and have communicated his intrigues to our Indian
agents. He has laid in a store of provisions for three years, which
in case of necessity, as he informed Major Van Vliet, he will conceal,
"and then take to the mountains and bid defiance to all the powers of
the Government."

A great part of all this may be idle boasting, but yet no wise
government will lightly estimate the efforts which may be inspired by
such frenzied fanaticism as exists among the Mormons in Utah. This is
the first rebellion which has existed in our Territories, and humanity
itself requires that we should put it down in such a manner that it
shall be the last. To trifle with it would be to encourage it and to
render it formidable. We ought to go there with such an imposing force
as to convince these deluded people that resistance would be vain,
and thus spare the effusion of blood. We can in this manner best
convince them that we are their friends, not their enemies. In order to
accomplish this object it will be necessary, according to the estimate
of the War Department, to raise four additional regiments; and this I
earnestly recommend to Congress. At the present moment of depression in
the revenues of the country I am sorry to be obliged to recommend such a
measure; but I feel confident of the support of Congress, cost what it
may, in suppressing the insurrection and in restoring and maintaining
the sovereignty of the Constitution and laws over the Territory of Utah.

I recommend to Congress the establishment of a Territorial government
over Arizona, incorporating with it such portions of New Mexico as they
may deem expedient. I need scarcely adduce arguments in support of this
recommendation. We are bound to protect the lives and the property of
our citizens inhabiting Arizona, and these are now without any efficient
protection. Their present number is already considerable, and is rapidly
increasing, notwithstanding the disadvantages under which they labor.
Besides, the proposed Territory is believed to be rich in mineral and
agricultural resources, especially in silver and copper. The mails of
the United States to California are now carried over it throughout its
whole extent, and this route is known to be the nearest and believed to
be the best to the Pacific.

Long experience has deeply convinced me that a strict construction of
the powers granted to Congress is the only true, as well as the only
safe, theory of the Constitution. Whilst this principle shall guide my
public conduct, I consider it clear that under the war-making power
Congress may appropriate money for the construction of a military road
through the Territories of the United States when this is absolutely
necessary for the defense of any of the States against foreign invasion.
The Constitution has conferred upon Congress power "to declare war," "to
raise and support armies," "to provide and maintain a navy," and to call
forth the militia to "repel invasions." These high sovereign powers
necessarily involve important and responsible public duties, and among
them there is none so sacred and so imperative as that of preserving
our soil from the invasion of a foreign enemy. The Constitution has
therefore left nothing on this point to construction, but expressly
requires that "the United States shall protect each of them [the States]
against invasion." Now if a military road over our own Territories be
indispensably necessary to enable us to meet and repel the invader, it
follows as a necessary consequence not only that we possess the power,
but it is our imperative duty to construct such a road. It would be an
absurdity to invest a government with the unlimited power to make and
conduct war and at the same time deny to it the only means of reaching
and defeating the enemy at the frontier. Without such a road it is quite
evident we can not "protect" California and our Pacific possessions
"against invasion." We can not by any other means transport men and
munitions of war from the Atlantic States in sufficient time successfully
to defend these remote and distant portions of the Republic.

Experience has proved that the routes across the isthmus of Central
America are at best but a very uncertain and unreliable mode of
communication. But even if this were not the case, they would at once
be closed against us in the event of war with a naval power so much
stronger than our own as to enable it to blockade the ports at either
end of these routes. After all, therefore, we can only rely upon a
military road through our own Territories; and ever since the origin
of the Government Congress has been in the practice of appropriating
money from the public Treasury for the construction of such roads.

The difficulties and the expense of constructing a military railroad to
connect our Atlantic and Pacific States have been greatly exaggerated.
The distance on the Arizona route, near the thirty-second parallel of
north latitude, between the western boundary of Texas, on the Rio
Grande, and the eastern boundary of California, on the Colorado, from
the best explorations now within our knowledge, does not exceed 470
miles, and the face of the country is in the main favorable. For obvious
reasons the Government ought not to undertake the work itself by means
of its own agents. This ought to be committed to other agencies, which
Congress might assist, either by grants of land or money, or by both,
upon such terms and conditions as they may deem most beneficial for the
country. Provision might thus be made not only for the safe, rapid, and
economical transportation of troops and munitions of war, but also of
the public mails. The commercial interests of the whole country, both
East and West, would be greatly promoted by such a road, and, above all,
it would be a powerful additional bond of union. And although advantages
of this kind, whether postal, commercial, or political, can not confer
constitutional power, yet they may furnish auxiliary arguments in favor
of expediting a work which, in my judgment, is clearly embraced within
the war-making power.

For these reasons I commend to the friendly consideration of Congress
the subject of the Pacific Railroad, without finally committing myself
to any particular route.

The report of the Secretary of the Treasury will furnish a detailed
statement of the condition of the public finances and of the respective
branches of the public service devolved upon that Department of the
Government. By this report it appears that the amount of revenue
received from all sources into the Treasury during the fiscal year
ending the 30th June, 1857, was $68,631,513.67, which amount, with
the balance of $19,901,325.45 remaining in the Treasury at the
commencement of the year, made an aggregate for the service of the
year of $88,532,839.12.

The public expenditures for the fiscal year ending 30th June, 1857,
amounted to $70,822,724.85, of which $5,943,896.91 were applied to the
redemption of the public debt, including interest and premium, leaving
in the Treasury at the commencement of the present fiscal year, on the
1st July, 1857, $17,710,114.27.

The receipts into the Treasury for the first quarter of the present fiscal
year, commencing 1st July, 1857, were $20,929,819.81, and the estimated
receipts of the remaining three quarters to the 30th June, 1858,
are $36,750,000, making, with the balance before stated, an aggregate of
$75,389,934.08 for the service of the present fiscal year.

The actual expenditures during the first quarter of the present fiscal
year were $23,714,528.37, of which $3,895,232.39 were applied to the
redemption of the public debt, including interest and premium. The
probable expenditures of the remaining three quarters to 30th June,
1858, are $51,248,530.04, including interest on the public debt, making
an aggregate of $74,963,058.41, leaving an estimated balance in the
Treasury at the close of the present fiscal year of $426,875.67.

The amount of the public debt at the commencement of the present
fiscal year was $29,060,386.90.

The amount redeemed since the 1st of July was $3,895,232.39, leaving
a balance unredeemed at this time of $25,165,154.51.

The amount of estimated expenditures for the remaining three quarters
of the present fiscal year will in all probability be increased from
the causes set forth in the report of the Secretary. His suggestion,
therefore, that authority should be given to supply any temporary
deficiency by the issue of a limited amount of Treasury notes is
approved, and I accordingly recommend the passage of such a law.

As stated in the report of the Secretary, the tariff of March 3,
1857, has been in operation for so short a period of time and under
circumstances so unfavorable to a just development of its results as
a revenue measure that I should regard it as inexpedient, at least for
the present, to undertake its revision.

I transmit herewith the reports made to me by the Secretaries of War and
of the Navy, of the Interior, and of the Postmaster-General. They all
contain valuable and important information and suggestions, which I
commend to the favorable consideration of Congress.

I have already recommended the raising of four additional regiments, and
the report of the Secretary of War presents strong reasons proving this
increase of the Army under existing circumstances to be indispensable.

I would call the special attention of Congress to the recommendation of
the Secretary of the Navy in favor of the construction of ten small war
steamers of light draft. For some years the Government has been obliged
on many occasions to hire such steamers from individuals to supply its
pressing wants. At the present moment we have no armed vessel in the
Navy which can penetrate the rivers of China. We have but few which can
enter any of the harbors south of Norfolk, although many millions of
foreign and domestic commerce annually pass in and out of these harbors.
Some of our most valuable interests and most vulnerable points are thus
left exposed. This class of vessels of light draft, great speed, and
heavy guns would be formidable in coast defense. The cost of their
construction will not be great and they will require but a comparatively
small expenditure to keep them in commission. In time of peace they will
prove as effective as much larger vessels and more useful, One of them
should be at every station where we maintain a squadron, and three or
four should be constantly employed on our Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
Economy, utility, and efficiency combine to recommend them as almost
indispensable. Ten of these small vessels would be of incalculable
advantage to the naval service, and the whole cost of their construction
would not exceed $2,300,000, or $230,000 each.

The report of the Secretary of the Interior is worthy of grave
consideration. It treats of the numerous important and diversified
branches of domestic administration intrusted to him by law. Among
these the most prominent are the public lands and our relations with
the Indians.

Our system for the disposal of the public lands, originating with the
fathers of the Republic, has been improved as experience pointed the
way, and gradually adapted to the growth and settlement of our Western
States and Territories. It has worked well in practice. Already thirteen
States and seven Territories have been carved out of these lands, and
still more than a thousand millions of acres remain unsold. What a
boundless prospect this presents to our country of future prosperity
and power!

We have heretofore disposed of 363,862,464 acres of the public land.

Whilst the public lands, as a source of revenue, are of great
importance, their importance is far greater as furnishing homes for
a hardy and independent race of honest and industrious citizens who
desire to subdue and cultivate the soil. They ought to be administered
mainly with a view of promoting this wise and benevolent policy. In
appropriating them for any other purpose we ought to use even greater
economy than if they had been converted into money and the proceeds
were already in the public Treasury. To squander away this richest and
noblest inheritance which any people have ever enjoyed upon objects of
doubtful constitutionality or expediency would be to violate one of the
most important trusts ever committed to any people. Whilst I do not deny
to Congress the power, when acting _bona fide_ as a proprietor, to give
away portions of them for the purpose of increasing the value of the
remainder, yet, considering the great temptation to abuse this power,
we can not be too cautious in its exercise.

Actual settlers under existing laws are protected against other
purchasers at the public sales in their right of preemption to the
extent of a quarter section, or 160 acres, of land. The remainder may
then be disposed of at public or entered at private sale in unlimited

Speculation has of late years prevailed to a great extent in the public
lands. The consequence has been that large portions of them have become
the property of individuals and companies, and thus the price is greatly
enhanced to those who desire to purchase for actual settlement. In order
to limit the area of speculation as much as possible, the extinction of
the Indian title and the extension of the public surveys ought only to
keep pace with the tide of emigration.

If Congress should hereafter grant alternate sections to States
or companies, as they have done heretofore, I recommend that the
intermediate sections retained by the Government should be subject
to preemption by actual settlers.

It ought ever to be our cardinal policy to reserve the public lands as
much as may be for actual settlers, and this at moderate prices. We
shall thus not only best promote the prosperity of the new States and
Territories and the power of the Union, but shall secure homes for our
posterity for many generations.

The extension of our limits has brought within our jurisdiction many
additional and populous tribes of Indians, a large proportion of which
are wild, untractable, and difficult to control. Predatory and warlike
in their disposition and habits, it is impossible altogether to restrain
them from committing aggressions on each other, as well as upon our
frontier citizens and those emigrating to our distant States and
Territories. Hence expensive military expeditions are frequently
necessary to overawe and chastise the more lawless and hostile.

The present system of making them valuable presents to influence them to
remain at peace has proved ineffectual. It is believed to be the better
policy to colonize them in suitable localities where they can receive
the rudiments of education and be gradually induced to adopt habits of
industry. So far as the experiment has been tried it has worked well
in practice, and it will doubtless prove to be less expensive than the
present system.

The whole number of Indians within our territorial limits is believed
to be, from the best data in the Interior Department, about 325,000.

The tribes of Cherokees, Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Creeks settled in the
Territory set apart for them west of Arkansas are rapidly advancing in
education and in all the arts of civilization and self-government, and
we may indulge the agreeable anticipation that at no very distant day
they will be incorporated into the Union as one of the sovereign States.
It will be seen from the report of the Postmaster-General that the
Post-Office Department still continues to depend on the Treasury, as
it has been compelled to do for several years past, for an important
portion of the means of sustaining and extending its operations. Their
rapid growth and expansion are shown by a decennial statement of the
number of post-offices and the length of post-roads, commencing with the
year 1827. In that year there were 7,000 post-offices; in 1837, 11,177;
in 1847, 15,146, and in 1857 they number 26,586. In this year 1,725
post-offices have been established and 704 discontinued, leaving a
net increase of 1,021. The postmasters of 368 offices are appointed
by the President.

The length of post-roads in 1827 was 105,336 miles; in 1837, 141,242
miles; in 1847, 153,818 miles, and in the year 1857 there are 242,601
miles of post-road, including 22,530 miles of railroad on which the mails
are transported.

The expenditures of the Department for the fiscal year ending on the
30th June, 1857, as adjusted by the Auditor, amounted to $11,507,670.
To defray these expenditures there was to the credit of the Department
on the 1st July, 1856, the sum of $789,599; the gross revenue of the
year, including the annual allowances for the transportation of free
mail matter, produced $8,053,951, and the remainder was supplied by
the appropriation from the Treasury of $2,250,000 granted by the act of
Congress approved August 18, 1856, and by the appropriation of $666,883
made by the act of March 3, 1857, leaving $252,763 to be carried to the
credit of the Department in the accounts of the current year. I commend
to your consideration the report of the Department in relation to the
establishment of the overland mail route from the Mississippi River to
San Francisco, Cal. The route was selected with my full concurrence, as
the one, in my judgment, best calculated to attain the important objects
contemplated by Congress.

The late disastrous monetary revulsion may have one good effect should
it cause both the Government and the people to return to the practice of
a wise and judicious economy both in public and private expenditures.

An overflowing Treasury has led to habits of prodigality and
extravagance in our legislation. It has induced Congress to make large
appropriations to objects for which they never would have provided had
it been necessary to raise the amount of revenue required to meet them
by increased taxation or by loans. We are now compelled to pause in our
career and to scrutinize our expenditures with the utmost vigilance;
and in performing this duty I pledge my cooperation to the extent of
my constitutional competency.

It ought to be observed at the same time that true public economy does
not consist in withholding the means necessary to accomplish important
national objects intrusted to us by the Constitution, and especially
such as may be necessary for the common defense. In the present crisis
of the country it is our duty to confine our appropriations to objects
of this character, unless in cases where justice to individuals may
demand a different course. In all cases care ought to be taken that the
money granted by Congress shall be faithfully and economically applied.

Under the Federal Constitution "every bill which shall have passed the
House of Representatives and the Senate shall, before it become a law."
be approved and signed by the President; and if not approved, "he shall
return it with his objections to that House in which it shall have
originated." In order to perform this high and responsible duty,
sufficient time must be allowed the President to read and examine
every bill presented to him for approval. Unless this be afforded,
the Constitution becomes a dead letter in this particular, and, even
worse, it becomes a means of deception. Our constituents, seeing the
President's approval and signature attached to each act of Congress,
are induced to believe that he has actually performed his duty, when
in truth nothing is in many cases more unfounded.

From the practice of Congress such an examination of each bill as the
Constitution requires has been rendered impossible. The most important
business of each session is generally crowded into its last hours, and
the alternative presented to the President is either to violate the
constitutional duty which he owes to the people and approve bills which
for want of time it is impossible he should have examined, or by his
refusal to do this subject the country and individuals to great loss
and inconvenience. Besides, a practice has grown up of late years to
legislate in appropriation bills at the last hours of the session on new
and important subjects. This practice constrains the President either
to suffer measures to become laws which he does not approve or to
incur the risk of stopping the wheels of the Government by vetoing
an appropriation bill. Formerly such bills were confined to specific
appropriations for carrying into effect existing laws and the
well-established policy of the country, and little time was then
required by the President for their examination.

For my own part, I have deliberately determined that I shall approve no
bills which I have not examined, and it will be a case of extreme and
most urgent necessity which shall ever induce me to depart from this
rule. I therefore respectfully but earnestly recommend that the two
Houses would allow the President at least two days previous to the
adjournment of each session within which no new bill shall be presented
to him for approval. Under the existing joint rule one day is allowed,
but this rule has been hitherto so constantly suspended in practice
that important bills continue to be presented to him up till the very
last moments of the session. In a large majority of cases no great
public inconvenience can arise from the want of time to examine their
provisions, because the Constitution has declared that if a bill be
presented to the President within the last ten days of the session he
is not required to return it, either with an approval or with a veto,
"in which case it shall not be a law." It may then lie over and be taken
up and passed at the next session. Great inconvenience would only be
experienced in regard to appropriation bills, but, fortunately, under
the late excellent law allowing a salary instead of a per diem to
members of Congress the expense and inconvenience of a called session
will be greatly reduced.

I can not conclude without commending to your favorable consideration
the interest of the people of this District. Without a representative on
the floor of Congress, they have for this very reason peculiar claims
upon our just regard. To this I know, from my long acquaintance with
them, they are eminently entitled.



WASHINGTON, _December 8, 1857_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

Herewith I transmit to the Senate, for its consideration with a view to
ratification, a convention between the United States and His Majesty
the King of Denmark for the discontinuance of the Sound dues, signed in
this city on the 11th day of April last.


WASHINGTON, _December 10, 1857_.

_To the Senate and House of Representatives_:

I transmit a copy of a letter of the 30th of May last from the
commissioner of the United States in China, and of the decree and
regulation which accompanied it, for such revision thereof as Congress
may deem expedient, pursuant to the sixth section of the act approved
the 11th of August, 1848.


WASHINGTON, _December 17, 1857_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit to the Senate, for its consideration with a view to
ratification, a convention for the mutual delivery of criminals
fugitives from justice in certain cases, and for other purposes,
concluded at The Hague on the 21st day of August last, between the
United States and His Majesty the King of the Netherlands. The
instrument in this form embodies the Senate's amendments of the 16th of
February last to the convention between the same parties of the 29th of
May, 1856, and is in fact a mere copy of that instrument as amended by
the Senate. Pursuant to the usual course in such cases, the Senate's
amendments were not included in the text of the United States exchange
copy of the convention, but appeared in the act of ratification only.
As the Dutch Government objected to this, it is now proposed to
substitute the new convention herewith submitted.


WASHINGTON, _December 22, 1857_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

In answer to resolutions of the Senate of the 16th and 18th instant,
requesting correspondence and documents relative to the Territory of
Kansas, I transmit a report from the Secretary of State and the papers
by which it was accompanied.


WASHINGTON, _December 23, 1857_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I herewith transmit to the Senate a communication, dated on the 22d
instant, with the accompanying papers, received from the Department of
State, in compliance with a resolution adopted by the Senate on the
17th instant, requesting the President, if compatible with the public
interest, to communicate to that body copies of any correspondence which
may have taken place between the Department of State and the British and
French ministers on the subject of claims for losses alleged to have
been sustained by subjects of Great Britain and France at the
bombardment of Greytown.


WASHINGTON, _December 29, 1857_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

Herewith I transmit a report of the Secretary of State, with
accompanying documents,[1] in compliance with the resolution of the
Senate of the 18th instant.


[Footnote 1: Correspondence with the minister of Bremen relative to
claims for losses alleged to have been sustained by subjects of the
Hanse towns at the bombardment of Greytown.]

WASHINGTON, _January 5, 1858_.

_To the Senate_:

I transmit herewith, for the constitutional action of the Senate, a
treaty recently concluded with the Pawnee Indians, with accompanying


WASHINGTON, _January 6, 1858_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

In compliance with the resolution of the Senate of the 28th of February
last, requesting a communication of all the correspondence of John
W. Geary, late governor of the Territory of Kansas, not heretofore
communicated to Congress, I transmit a report from the Secretary of
State and the documents by which it was accompanied.


WASHINGTON, _January 6, 1858_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

In answer to the resolution of the Senate of the 18th of last month,
requesting certain information relative to the Territory of Kansas, I
transmit a report of the Secretary of State and the documents by which
it was accompanied.


WASHINGTON, _January 6, 1858_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I nominate Alexander W. Reynolds, late of the Quartermaster's Department
of the Army, to be assistant quartermaster with the rank of captain, to
date from August 5, 1847, and to take place on the Army Register next
below Captain S. Van Vliet, agreeably to the recommendation of the
Secretary of War.


WAR DEPARTMENT, _January 6, 1858_.


SIR: Under date of October 9, 1855, Captain A.W. Reynolds, assistant
quartermaster, was dismissed from the public service in virtue of the
third section of the act approved January 31, 1823.

Shortly afterwards suit was brought in the United States district court
for the eastern district of Pennsylvania for the purpose of recovering
the amounts alleged to be due the United States from Captain Reynolds,
and which were stated at $126,307.20. At the suggestion of the United
States district attorney, and with the consent of the Secretary of the
Treasury, the matter was referred for a full and careful reexamination
to three gentlemen, of whom one is understood to have been an
experienced clerk of the Treasury Department of the United States.
The verdict of the referees, fully concurred in by the United States
district attorney, subsequently confirmed by a jury, and according to
which judgment was rendered by the court, is that the United States are,
on the contrary, indebted to Captain Reynolds in the sum of $130.63.

In addition to this high judicial award in Captain Reynolds's favor,
numerous petitions have been received--from the district attorney, from
the referees who examined the case, from his brother officers of the
Army--all testifying to their assured belief in his perfect integrity,
no less than in his high character as a gentleman and a soldier, and
earnestly requesting of the President of the United States that he would
be pleased to reinstate him in the position which he formerly held in
the Quartermaster's Department of the Army.

Among the last description of petitions are many of the highest
officers, in rank as well as reputation, who served with Captain
Reynolds in New Mexico, the theater of his difficulties, and they
respectfully urge their conviction that were the President "cognizant,"
as many of them declare themselves to be, of the circumstances "under
which Captain Reynolds was made responsible for public property over
which he had no control," that he could feel no hesitation about
restoring him to the service.

In view of all which facts I have the honor to submit his case for your
consideration, and respectfully recommend that he be nominated for
restoration to his original rank and place in the Army.

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


_Secretary of War_.

WASHINGTON, _January 7, 1858_.

_To the House of Representatives_:

I transmit a report from the Secretary of State, in answer to
the resolution of the House of Representatives of the 4th instant,
requesting to be informed if any complaint had been made against our
Government by the Government of Nicaragua on account of the recent
arrest of William Walker and his followers by Captain Paulding within
the territory of that Republic.


WASHINGTON CITY, _January 7, 1858_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I herewith transmit to the Senate a report from the Secretary of the
Navy, with the accompanying documents, containing the information called
for by the resolution of the Senate of the 4th instant, requesting me
"to communicate to the Senate the correspondence, instructions, and
orders to the United States naval forces on the coast of Central America
connected with the arrest of William Walker and his associates," etc.

In submitting to the Senate the papers for which they have called I deem
it proper to make a few observations.

In capturing General Walker and his command after they had landed on
the soil of Nicaragua Commodore Paulding has, in my opinion, committed
a grave error. It is quite evident, however, from the communications
herewith transmitted that this was done from pure and patriotic motives
and in the sincere conviction that he was promoting the interest and
vindicating the honor of his country. In regard to Nicaragua, she has
sustained no injury by the act of Commodore Paulding. This has inured to
her benefit and relieved her from a dreaded invasion. She alone would
have any right to complain of the violation of her territory, and it is
quite certain she will never exercise this right. It unquestionably does
not lie in the mouth of her invaders to complain in her name that she
has been rescued by Commodore Paulding from their assaults. The error of
this gallant officer consists in exceeding his instructions and landing
his sailors and marines in Nicaragua, whether with or without her
consent, for the purpose of making war upon any military force whatever
which he might find in the country, no matter from whence they came.
This power certainly did not belong to him. Obedience to law and
conformity to instructions are the best and safest guides for all
officers, civil and military, and when they transcend these limits and
act upon their own personal responsibility evil consequences almost
inevitably follow.

Under these circumstances, when Marshal Rynders presented himself at the
State Department on the 29th ultimo with General Walker in custody, the
Secretary informed him "that the executive department of the Government
did not recognize General Walker as a prisoner, that it had no
directions to give concerning him, and that it is only through the
action of the judiciary that he could be lawfully held in custody to
answer any charges that might be brought against him."

In thus far disapproving the conduct of Commodore Paulding no inference
must be drawn that I am less determined than I have ever been to execute
the neutrality laws of the United States. This is my imperative
duty, and I shall continue to perform it by all the means which the
Constitution and the laws have placed in my power. My opinion of the
value and importance of these laws corresponds entirely with that
expressed by Mr. Monroe in his message to Congress of December 7, 1819.
That wise, prudent, and patriotic statesman says:

It is of the highest importance to our national character and
indispensable to the morality of our citizens that all violations of
our neutrality should be prevented. No door should be left open for the

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