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

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M. VAN BUREN.

WAR DEPARTMENT, _June 27, 1840_.

The PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

SIR: I have the honor to transmit herewith a report of the Commanding
General, embracing the substance of the answers of the several
officers who were applied to to furnish the information required by a
resolution of the Senate of the 12th March last, referred by you to this
Department, requesting the President to communicate to the Senate, if in
his judgment compatible with the public interests, any information which
may be in the possession of the Government, or which can be conveniently
obtained, of the military and naval preparations of the British
authorities on the northern frontier of the United States from Lake
Superior to the Atlantic Ocean, distinguishing the permanent from the
temporary and field works, and particularly by noticing those which are
within the claimed limits of the United States.

This report and a letter of General Scott on the subject, which was
transmitted to the Senate on the 27th of March last, furnish all the
information the Department is in possession of in relation to the
requirements of the above resolution.

Very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

J.R. POINSETT.

HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY,

_Washington, June 26, 1840_.

The SECRETARY OF WAR.

SIR: I have the honor to report that in obedience to your instructions
letters have been addressed to the various officers who it was supposed
might be able to procure the information required by the resolution of
the Senate of the 12th of March, to wit: "_Resolved,_ That the President
of the United States be requested to communicate to the Senate, if in
his judgment compatible with the public interest, any information which
maybe in possession of the Government, or which can be conveniently
obtained, of the military and naval preparations of the British
authorities on the northern frontier of the United States from Lake
Superior to the Atlantic Ocean, distinguishing the permanent from the
temporary and field works, and particularly by noting those which are
within the claimed limits of the United States." In answer to the letter
addressed to him on the subject, and with regard to the Senate's
resolution as far as relates to "military preparations of the British
authorities on the northern frontier of the United States," General
Scott communicates the following facts: That he has paid but little
attention to the forts and barracks erected by the British authorities
near the borders of Maine _above_ Frederickton, in New Brunswick, or in
Upper Canada _above_ Cornwall, being of the fixed opinion that all such
structures would be of little or no military value to either of the
parties in the event of a new war between the United States and Great
Britain; that he was last summer at the foot of Lake Superior, and
neither saw nor heard of any British fort or barracks on the St. Marys
River; that between Lakes Huron and Brie the British have three sets of
barracks--one at Windsor, opposite to Detroit; one at Sandwich, a little
lower down; and the third at Malden, 18 miles below the first--all built
of sawed logs, strengthened by blockhouses, loopholes, etc.; that Malden
has long been a military post, with slight defenses; these have been
recently strengthened. The works at Sandwich and Windsor have also,
he thinks, been erected within the last six or eight months. That near
the mouth of the Niagara the British have two small forts--George and
Mississauga; both existed during the last war; the latter may be termed
a permanent work. Slight barracks have been erected within the last two
years on the same side near the Falls and at Chippewa, with breastworks
at the latter place, but nothing, he believes, above the work first
named on the Niagara which can be termed a fort.

That since the commencement of recent troubles and (consequent thereon)
within our own limits Fort William Henry, at Kingston, and Fort
Wellington, opposite to Ogdensburg (old works), have both been
strengthened within themselves, besides the addition of dependencies.
These forts may be called permanent. That on the St. Lawrence below
Prescott, and confronting our territory, he knows of no other military
post. Twelve miles above, at Brockville, there may be temporary barracks
and breastworks; that he knows that of late Brockville has been a
military station.

That in the system of defenses on the approaches to Montreal the Isle
aux Noix, a few miles below our line, and in the outlet of Lake
Champlain, stands at the head. This island contains within itself
a system of permanent works of great strength; on them the British
Government has from time to time expended much skill and labor.

That Odletown, near our line, on the western side of Lake Champlain,
has been a station for a body of Canadian militia for two years,
to guard the neighborhood from refugee incendiaries from our side.
He thinks that barracks have been erected there for the accommodation of
those troops, and also at a station, with the like object, near Alburgh,
Vt. He believes that there are no important British forts or extensive
British barracks on our borders from Vermont to Maine. In respect to
such structures on the disputed territory, that Governor Fairfield's
published letters contain fuller information than has reached him
through any other channel; that he has heard of no new military
preparations by the British authorities on the St. Croix or
Passamaquoddy Bay.

That among such preparations, perhaps he ought not to omit the fact
that Great Britain, besides numerous corps of well-organized and
well-instructed militia, has at this time within her North American
Provinces more than 20,000 of her best regular troops. The whole of
those forces might be brought to the verge of our territory in a few
days. Two-thirds of that regular force has arrived out since the spring
of 1838. General Scott states that he has had the honor to report
directly to the Secretary of War with regard to the naval force recently
maintained upon the American lakes by Great Britain. In answer to a
similar letter to that addressed to General Scott, General Brady writes
from Detroit that the only permanent work of which he has any knowledge
is the one at Fort Malden, which has in the last year been thoroughly
repaired, and good substantial barracks of wood have been erected within
the works, sufficient, he thinks, to contain six if not eight hundred
men; that the timber on the island of Bois Blanc has been partly taken
off and three small blockhouses erected on the island. These are all the
military improvements he knows of between the mouth of Detroit River and
the outlet of Lake Superior. That temporary barracks of wood capable of
containing perhaps 150 men have been erected opposite to Detroit; that
some British militia are stationed along the St. Clair River.

Colonel Bankhead writes that of the military and naval preparations of
the British on the northern frontier of the United States, he can only
state that Fort Mississauga, nearly opposite our Fort Niagara, has been
enlarged and strengthened; that permanent and extensive barracks were
commenced last summer at Toronto and are probably completed by this
time, and that a large vessel for a steamer was being constructed last
fall at Niagara City by and for the service of the Government; that
the British Government has on Lake Ontario a steamboat commanded and
officered by officers of the navy, and is commissioned, he presumes,
as a Government vessel; that the authorities of Upper Canada had last
summer in their service on Lake Erie two steamboats, which were at first
hired from citizens of Buffalo, but which they subsequently purchased,
as he was informed.

Lieutenant-Colonel Crane writes from Buffalo that the only military work
in that vicinity undergoing repairs (within his knowledge) is Fort
Mississauga, at the mouth of the Niagara River, on the Canada side,
which the English have been repairing and extending for two years past,
and it is believed to be now in a very efficient state; that there have
been rumors of armed steamers being built or building at Chippewa, but
on inquiry he could learn of none except the ordinary steamboats for the
navigation of the lakes. It has been said, however, that one is building
on Lake Ontario by the English, and intended for the revenue service,
but he does not know what truth there is in this statement.

Lieutenant-Colonel Pierce reports from Plattsburg that he has no
knowledge of any military or naval preparations of the British
authorities on the line of frontier adjacent to his command, comprising
what is generally called the Lake Champlain frontier, except the
introduction of troops at Odletown and Napierville, near the boundary
line between New York and Canada, on the west side of the lake, and also
the establishment of a line of posts from Missisquoi Bay, on the east
side of the lake, along and near to the Vermont frontier as far as the
Connecticut River, the erection of a new barrack and fieldwork at St.
John, and the repairs and armament of the Isle aux Noix, with increased
force at both of these posts; that none of the positions so occupied by
British troops are within the claimed limits of the United States; that
these military preparations (it has been heretofore understood) have
been made by the British authorities to suppress rebellion and
insurrection among the Canadian population.

Captain Johnson reports from Fort Brady that he has heard nothing on
the subject of the resolution but mere rumors, and that there is no
appearance of any works going up anywhere on the Canada side of the
St. Marys River. The files of the Adjutant-General's Office have been
examined, but no further information has been elicited.

Respectfully submitted,

ALEX. MACOMB,

_Major-General_.

WASHINGTON, _June 29, 1840_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

I transmit herewith a communication of the Secretary of War, accompanied
by a report of the Commanding General of the Army, embracing all the
information which can be obtained in answer to a resolution of the House
of Representatives of the 6th of April, 1840, requesting to be furnished
with any information in possession of the executive department showing
the military preparation of Great Britain by introducing troops into
Canada or New Brunswick or erecting or repairing fortifications on our
northern or northeastern boundary or by preparing naval armaments on any
of the great northern lakes, and what preparations, if any, have been
made by this Government to put the United States, and especially those
frontiers, in a posture of defense against Great Britain in case of war.

M. VAN BUREN.

WASHINGTON CITY, _June 29, 1840_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

I transmit the inclosed report of the Secretary of War, with
accompanying documents, furnishing all the information the Department
has been able to obtain in relation to any violation of or desire on the
part of Great Britain to annul the agreement entered into between that
Government and the United States in the month of April, 1817, relative
to the naval force to be maintained upon the American lakes, called for
by a resolution of the House of Representatives of the 9th March last.

M. VAN BUREN.

Hon. R.M. JOHNSON,

_President of the Senate_.

SIR: I transmit herewith to the Senate a statement from the Secretary of
the Navy of the transfers which have been made since the commencement of
the present year from different appropriations for the naval service to
other appropriations for the same service, which had become necessary
for the public interests.

The law under which these transfers were made conveys no authority for
refunding the different amounts which may be transferred. On the
contrary, so soon as the appropriations for the year shall pass and the
means be furnished for refunding these sums the repayments would be
prohibited by the law of 3d March, 1809, in relation to general
transfers.

Some authority to refund the amounts which may be transferred under
the law of 30th of June, 1834, seems so obviously indispensable to any
beneficial exercise of the power which it grants that its omission may
be presumed to have been accidental.

The subject is respectfully referred to the consideration of Congress
for such action as they may deem proper to accomplish the restoration of
these transfers, and thus confirm the original appropriations as they
are established by Congress, instead of leaving their expenditure
discretionary with the Executive.

M. VAN BUREN.

JULY 2, 1840.

[The same message was addressed to the Speaker of the House of
Representatives.]

WASHINGTON, _July 20, 1840_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit herewith, in reply to the resolution of the Senate of the
11th March last, a report[81] from the Secretary of War, accompanied
by a communication and other documents from the Commissioner of
Indian Affairs.

M. VAN BUREN.

[Footnote 81: Relating to purchases of Indian lands since the
establishment of the Federal Government.]

JULY 25, 1840.

The President of the United States, in pursuance of a resolution of
the Senate of the 20th instant, herewith transmits to the honorable
Secretary of the Senate a copy of the report of Captain M.C. Perry
in relation to the light-houses of England and France.

M. VAN BUREN.

EXECUTIVE ORDER.

WASHINGTON CITY, _March 31, 1840_.

The President of the United States, finding that different rules prevail
at different places as well in respect to the hours of labor by persons
employed on the public works under the immediate authority of himself
and the Departments as also in relation to the different classes of
workmen, and believing that much inconvenience and dissatisfaction would
be removed by adopting a uniform course, hereby directs that all such
persons, whether laborers or mechanics, be required to work only the
number of hours prescribed by the ten-hour system.

M. VAN BUREN.

FOURTH ANNUAL MESSAGE.

WASHINGTON, _December 5, 1840_.

_Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives_:

Our devout gratitude is due to the Supreme Being for having graciously
continued to our beloved country through the vicissitudes of another
year the invaluable blessings of health, plenty, and peace. Seldom
has this favored land been so generally exempted from the ravages of
disease or the labor of the husbandman more amply rewarded, and never
before have our relations with other countries been placed on a more
favorable basis than that which they so happily occupy at this critical
conjuncture in the affairs of the world. A rigid and persevering
abstinence from all interference with the domestic and political
relations of other States, alike due to the genius and distinctive
character of our Government and to the principles by which it is
directed; a faithful observance in the management of our foreign
relations of the practice of speaking plainly, dealing justly, and
requiring truth and justice in return as the best conservatives of
the peace of nations; a strict impartiality in our manifestations of
friendship in the commercial privileges we concede and those we require
from others--these, accompanied by a disposition as prompt to maintain
in every emergency our own rights as we are from principle averse to the
invasion of those of others, have given to our country and Government a
standing in the great family of nations of which we have just cause to
be proud and the advantages of which are experienced by our citizens
throughout every portion of the earth to which their enterprising and
adventurous spirit may carry them. Few, if any, remain insensible to
the value of our friendship or ignorant of the terms on which it can
be acquired and by which it can alone be preserved.

A series of questions of long standing, difficult in their adjustment
and important in their consequences, in which the rights of our citizens
and the honor of the country were deeply involved, have in the course of
a few years (the most of them during the successful Administration of my
immediate predecessor) been brought to a satisfactory conclusion; and
the most important of those remaining are, I am happy to believe, in a
fair way of being speedily and satisfactorily adjusted.

With all the powers of the world our relations are those of honorable
peace. Since your adjournment nothing serious has occurred to interrupt
or threaten this desirable harmony. If clouds have lowered above the
other hemisphere, they have not cast their portentous shadows upon our
happy shores. Bound by no entangling alliances, yet linked by a common
nature and interest with the other nations of mankind, our aspirations
are for the preservation of peace, in whose solid and civilizing
triumphs all may participate with a generous emulation. Yet it behooves
us to be prepared for any event and to be always ready to maintain those
just and enlightened principles of national intercourse for which this
Government has ever contended. In the shock of contending empires it
is only by assuming a resolute bearing and clothing themselves with
defensive armor that neutral nations can maintain their independent
rights.

The excitement which grew out of the territorial controversy between
the United States and Great Britain having in a great measure subsided,
it is hoped that a favorable period is approaching for its final
settlement. Both Governments must now be convinced of the dangers with
which the question is fraught, and it must be their desire, as it is
their interest, that this perpetual cause of irritation should be
removed as speedily as practicable. In my last annual message you were
informed that the proposition for a commission of exploration and survey
promised by Great Britain had been received, and that a counter project,
including also a provision for the certain and final adjustment of
the limits in dispute, was then before the British Government for its
consideration. The answer of that Government, accompanied by additional
propositions of its own, was received through its minister here since
your separation. These were promptly considered, such as were deemed
correct in principle and consistent with a due regard to the just rights
of the United States and of the State of Maine concurred in, and the
reasons for dissenting from the residue, with an additional suggestion
on our part, communicated by the Secretary of State to Mr. Fox. That
minister, not feeling himself sufficiently instructed upon some of the
points raised in the discussion, felt it to be his duty to refer the
matter to his own Government for its further decision. Having now been
for some time under its advisement, a speedy answer may be confidently
expected. From the character of the points still in difference and the
undoubted disposition of both parties to bring the matter to an early
conclusion, I look with entire confidence to a prompt and satisfactory
termination of the negotiation. Three commissioners were appointed
shortly after the adjournment of Congress under the act of the last
session providing for the exploration and survey of the line which
separates the States of Maine and New Hampshire from the British
Provinces. They have been actively employed until their progress was
interrupted by the inclemency of the season, and will resume their
labors as soon as practicable in the ensuing year.

It is understood that their respective examinations will throw new light
upon the subject in controversy and serve to remove any erroneous
impressions which may have been made elsewhere prejudicial to the rights
of the United States. It was, among other reasons, with a view of
preventing the embarrassments which in our peculiar system of government
impede and complicate negotiations involving the territorial rights of a
State that I thought it my duty, as you have been informed on a previous
occasion, to propose to the British Government, through its minister at
Washington, that early steps should be taken to adjust the points of
difference on the line of boundary from the entrance of Lake Superior to
the most northwestern point of the Lake of the Woods by the arbitration
of a friendly power in conformity with the seventh article of the treaty
of Ghent. No answer has yet been returned by the British Government to
this proposition.

With Austria, France, Prussia, Russia, and the remaining powers of
Europe I am happy to inform you our relations continue to be of the most
friendly character. With Belgium a treaty of commerce and navigation,
based upon liberal principles of reciprocity and equality, was concluded
in March last, and, having been ratified by the Belgian Government, will
be duly laid before the Senate. It is a subject of congratulation that
it provides for the satisfactory adjustment of a long-standing question
of controversy, thus removing the only obstacle which could obstruct the
friendly and mutually advantageous intercourse between the two nations.
A messenger has been dispatched with the Hanoverian treaty to Berlin,
where, according to stipulation, the ratifications are to be exchanged.
I am happy to announce to you that after many delays and difficulties a
treaty of commerce and navigation between the United States and Portugal
was concluded and signed at Lisbon on the 26th of August last by the
plenipotentiaries of the two Governments. Its stipulations are founded
upon those principles of mutual liberality and advantage which the
United States have always sought to make the basis of their intercourse
with foreign powers, and it is hoped they will tend to foster and
strengthen the commercial intercourse of the two countries.

Under the appropriation of the last session of Congress an agent has
been sent to Germany for the purpose of promoting the interests of our
tobacco trade.

The commissioners appointed under the convention for the adjustment
of claims of citizens of the United States upon Mexico having met and
organized at Washington in August last, the papers in the possession of
the Government relating to those claims were communicated to the board.
The claims not embraced by that convention are now the subject of
negotiation between the two Governments through the medium of our
minister at Mexico.

Nothing has occurred to disturb the harmony of our relations with the
different Governments of South America. I regret, however, to be obliged
to inform you that the claims of our citizens upon the late Republic of
Colombia have not yet been satisfied by the separate Governments into
which it has been resolved.

The charge d'affaires of Brazil having expressed the intention of
his Government not to prolong the treaty of 1828, it will cease to be
obligatory upon either party on the 12th day of December, 1841, when the
extensive commercial intercourse between the United States and that vast
Empire will no longer be regulated by express stipulations.

It affords me pleasure to communicate to you that the Government of
Chili has entered into an agreement to indemnify the claimants in the
case of the _Macedonian_ for American property seized in 1819, and to
add that information has also been received which justifies the hope of
an early adjustment of the remaining claims upon that Government.

The commissioners appointed in pursuance of the convention between the
United States and Texas for marking the boundary between them have,
according to the last report received from our commissioner, surveyed
and established the whole extent of the boundary north along the western
bank of the Sabine River from its entrance into the Gulf of Mexico to
the thirty-second degree of north latitude. The commission adjourned
on the 16th of June last, to reassemble on the 1st of November for the
purpose of establishing accurately the intersection of the thirty-second
degree of latitude with the western bank of the Sabine and the meridian
line thence to Red River. It is presumed that the work will be concluded
in the present season.

The present sound condition of their finances and the success with which
embarrassments in regard to them, at times apparently insurmountable,
have been overcome are matters upon which the people and Government of
the United States may well congratulate themselves. An overflowing
Treasury, however it may be regarded as an evidence of public
prosperity, is seldom conducive to the permanent welfare of any people,
and experience has demonstrated its incompatibility with the salutary
action of political institutions like those of the United States. Our
safest reliance for financial efficiency and independence has, on the
contrary, been found to consist in ample resources unencumbered with
debt, and in this respect the Federal Government occupies a singularly
fortunate and truly enviable position.

When I entered upon the discharge of my official duties in March, 1837,
the act for the distribution of the surplus revenue was in a course
of rapid execution. Nearly $28,000,000 of the public moneys were, in
pursuance of its provisions, deposited with the States in the months of
January, April, and July of that year. In May there occurred a general
suspension of specie payments by the banks, including, with very few
exceptions, those in which the public moneys were deposited and upon
whose fidelity the Government had unfortunately made itself dependent
for the revenues which had been collected from the people and were
indispensable to the public service.

This suspension and the excesses in banking and commerce out of which it
arose, and which were greatly aggravated by its occurrence, made to a
great extent unavailable the principal part of the public money then on
hand, suspended the collection of many millions accruing on merchants'
bonds, and greatly reduced the revenue arising from customs and the
public lands. These effects have continued to operate in various degrees
to the present period, and in addition to the decrease in the revenue
thus produced two and a half millions of duties have been relinquished
by two biennial reductions under the act of 1833, and probably as much
more upon the importation of iron for railroads by special legislation.

Whilst such has been our condition for the last four years in relation
to revenue, we have during the same period been subjected to an
unavoidable continuance of large extraordinary expenses necessarily
growing out of past transactions, and which could not be immediately
arrested without great prejudice to the public interest. Of these, the
charge upon the Treasury in consequence of the Cherokee treaty alone,
without adverting to others arising out of Indian treaties, has already
exceeded $5,000,000; that for the prosecution of measures for the
removal of the Seminole Indians, which were found in progress, has been
nearly fourteen millions, and the public buildings have required the
unusual sum of nearly three millions.

It affords me, however, great pleasure to be able to say that from
the commencement of this period to the present day every demand upon
the Government, at home or abroad, has been promptly met. This has
been done not only without creating a permanent debt or a resort to
additional taxation in any form, but in the midst of a steadily
progressive reduction of existing burdens upon the people, leaving
still a considerable balance of available funds which will remain in
the Treasury at the end of the year. The small amount of Treasury notes,
not exceeding $4,500,000, still outstanding, and less by twenty-three
millions than the United States have in deposit with the States, is
composed of such only as are not yet due or have not been presented
for payment. They may be redeemed out of the accruing revenue if the
expenditures do not exceed the amount within which they may, it is
thought, be kept without prejudice to the public interest, and the
revenue shall prove to be as large as may justly be anticipated.

Among the reflections arising from the contemplation of these
circumstances, one, not the least gratifying, is the consciousness that
the Government had the resolution and the ability to adhere in every
emergency to the sacred obligations of law, to execute all its contracts
according to the requirements of the Constitution, and thus to present
when most needed a rallying point by which the business of the whole
country might be brought back to a safe and unvarying standard--a result
vitally important as well to the interests as to the morals of the
people. There can surely now be no difference of opinion in regard
to the incalculable evils that would have arisen if the Government at
that critical moment had suffered itself to be deterred from upholding
the only true standard of value, either by the pressure of adverse
circumstances or the violence of unmerited denunciation. The manner
in which the people sustained the performance of this duty was highly
honorable to their fortitude and patriotism. It can not fail to
stimulate their agents to adhere under all circumstances to the line of
duty and to satisfy them of the safety with which a course really right
and demanded by a financial crisis may in a community like ours be
pursued, however apparently severe its immediate operation.

The policy of the Federal Government in extinguishing as rapidly as
possible the national debt, and subsequently in resisting every
temptation to create a new one, deserves to be regarded in the same
favorable light. Among the many objections to a national debt, the
certain tendency of public securities to concentrate ultimately in the
coffers of foreign stockholders is one which is every day gathering
strength. Already have the resources of many of the States and the
future industry of their citizens been indefinitely mortgaged to the
subjects of European Governments to the amount of twelve millions
annually to pay the constantly accruing interest on borrowed money--a
sum exceeding half the ordinary revenues of the whole United States.
The pretext which this relation affords to foreigners to scrutinize the
management of our domestic affairs, if not actually to intermeddle with
them, presents a subject for earnest attention, not to say of serious
alarm. Fortunately, the Federal Government, with the exception of an
obligation entered into in behalf of the District of Columbia, which
must soon be discharged, is wholly exempt from any such embarrassment.
It is also, as is believed, the only Government which, having fully and
faithfully paid all its creditors, has also relieved itself entirely
from debt. To maintain a distinction so desirable and so honorable to
our national character should be an object of earnest solicitude. Never
should a free people, if it be possible to avoid it, expose themselves
to the necessity of having to treat of the peace, the honor, or the
safety of the Republic with the governments of foreign creditors, who,
however well disposed they may be to cultivate with us in general
friendly relations, are nevertheless by the law of their own condition
made hostile to the success and permanency of political institutions
like ours. Most humiliating may be the embarrassments consequent upon
such a condition. Another objection, scarcely less formidable, to the
commencement of a new debt is its inevitable tendency to increase in
magnitude and to foster national extravagance. He has been an
unprofitable observer of events who needs at this day to be admonished
of the difficulties which a government habitually dependent on loans
to sustain its ordinary expenditures has to encounter in resisting
the influences constantly exerted in favor of additional loans; by
capitalists, who enrich themselves by government securities for amounts
much exceeding the money they actually advance--a prolific source of
individual aggrandizement in all borrowing countries; by stockholders,
who seek their gains in the rise and fall of public stocks; and by
the selfish importunities of applicants for appropriations for works
avowedly for the accommodation of the public, but the real objects of
which are too frequently the advancement of private interests. The known
necessity which so many of the States will be under to impose taxes
for the payment of the interest on their debts furnishes an additional
and very cogent reason why the Federal Government should refrain from
creating a national debt, by which the people would be exposed to
double taxation for a similar object. We possess within ourselves
ample resources for every emergency, and we may be quite sure that
our citizens in no future exigency will be unwilling to supply the
Government with all the means asked for the defense of the country.
In time of peace there can, at all events, be no justification for the
creation of a permanent debt by the Federal Government. Its limited
range of constitutional duties may certainly under such circumstances be
performed without such a resort. It has, it is seen, been avoided during
four years of greater fiscal difficulties than have existed in a similar
period since the adoption of the Constitution, and one also remarkable
for the occurrence of extraordinary causes of expenditures.

But to accomplish so desirable an object two things are indispensable:
First, that the action of the Federal Government be kept within
the boundaries prescribed by its founders, and, secondly, that all
appropriations for objects admitted to be constitutional, and the
expenditure of them also, be subjected to a standard of rigid but
well-considered and practical economy. The first depends chiefly on
the people themselves--the opinions they form of the true construction
of the Constitution and the confidence they repose in the political
sentiments of those they select as their representatives in the Federal
Legislature; the second rests upon the fidelity with which their more
immediate representatives and other public functionaries discharge the
trusts committed to them. The duty of economizing the expenses of the
public service is admitted on all hands; yet there are few subjects upon
which there exists a wider difference of opinion than is constantly
manifested in regard to the fidelity with which that duty is discharged.
Neither diversity of sentiment nor even mutual recriminations upon a
point in respect to which the public mind is so justly sensitive can
well be entirely avoided, and least so at periods of great political
excitement. An intelligent people, however, seldom fail to arrive in the
end at correct conclusions in such a matter. Practical economy in the
management of public affairs can have no adverse influence to contend
with more powerful than a large surplus revenue, and the unusually
large appropriations for 1837 may without doubt, independently of the
extraordinary requisitions for the public service growing out of the
state of our Indian relations, be in no inconsiderable degree traced
to this source. The sudden and rapid distribution of the large surplus
then in the Treasury and the equally sudden and unprecedentedly severe
revulsion in the commerce and business of the country, pointing with
unerring certainty to a great and protracted reduction of the revenue,
strengthened the propriety of the earliest practicable reduction of the
public expenditures.

But to change a system operating upon so large a surface and applicable
to such numerous and diversified interests and objects was more than the
work of a day. The attention of every department of the Government was
immediately and in good faith directed to that end, and has been so
continued to the present moment. The estimates and appropriations for
the year 1838 (the first over which I had any control) were somewhat
diminished. The expenditures of 1839 were reduced $6,000,000. Those of
1840, exclusive of disbursements for public debt and trust claims, will
probably not exceed twenty-two and a half millions, being between two
and three millions less than those of the preceding year and nine or
ten millions less than those of 1837. Nor has it been found necessary
in order to produce this result to resort to the power conferred by
Congress of postponing certain classes of the public works, except by
deferring expenditures for a short period upon a limited portion of
them, and which postponement terminated some time since--at the moment
the Treasury Department by further receipts from the indebted banks
became fully assured of its ability to meet them without prejudice to
the public service in other respects. Causes are in operation which
will, it is believed, justify a still further reduction, without injury
to any important national interest. The expenses of sustaining the
troops employed in Florida have been gradually and greatly reduced
through the persevering efforts of the War Department, and a reasonable
hope may be entertained that the necessity for military operations in
that quarter will soon cease. The removal of the Indians from within
our settled borders is nearly completed. The pension list, one of the
heaviest charges upon the Treasury, is rapidly diminishing by death.
The most costly of our public buildings are either finished or nearly
so, and we may, I think, safely promise ourselves a continued exemption
from border difficulties.

The available balance in the Treasury on the 1st of January next is
estimated at $1,500,000. This sum, with the expected receipts from all
sources during the next year, will, it is believed, be sufficient to
enable the Government to meet every engagement and have a suitable
balance in the Treasury at the end of the year, if the remedial measures
connected with the customs and the public lands heretofore recommended
are adopted and the new appropriations by Congress shall not carry the
expenditures beyond the official estimates.

The new system established by Congress for the safe-keeping of the
public money, prescribing the kind of currency to be received for the
public revenue and providing additional guards and securities against
losses, has now been several months in operation. Although it might be
premature upon an experience of such limited duration to form a definite
opinion in regard to the extent of its influences in correcting many
evils under which the Federal Government and the country have hitherto
suffered, especially those that have grown out of banking expansions, a
depreciated currency, and official defalcations, yet it is but right to
say that nothing has occurred in the practical operation of the system
to weaken in the slightest degree, but much to strengthen, the confident
anticipations of its friends. The grounds of these have been heretofore
so fully explained as to require no recapitulation. In respect to the
facility and convenience it affords in conducting the public service,
and the ability of the Government to discharge through its agency every
duty attendant on the collection, transfer, and disbursement of the
public money with promptitude and success, I can say with confidence
that the apprehensions of those who felt it to be their duty to oppose
its adoption have proved to be unfounded. On the contrary, this branch
of the fiscal affairs of the Government has been, and it is believed may
always be, thus carried on with every desirable facility and security.
A few changes and improvements in the details of the system, without
affecting any principles involved in it, will be submitted to you by the
Secretary of the Treasury, and will, I am sure, receive at your hands
that attention to which they may on examination be found to be entitled.

I have deemed this brief summary of our fiscal affairs necessary
to the due performance of a duty specially enjoined upon me by the
Constitution. It will serve also to illustrate more fully the principles
by which I have been guided in reference to two contested points in our
public policy which were earliest in their development and have been
more important in their consequences than any that have arisen under
our complicated and difficult, yet admirable, system of government.
I allude to a national debt and a national bank. It was in these that the
political contests by which the country has been agitated ever since the
adoption of the Constitution in a great measure originated, and there is
too much reason to apprehend that the conflicting interests and opposing
principles thus marshaled will continue as heretofore to produce similar
if not aggravated consequences.

Coming into office the declared enemy of both, I have earnestly
endeavored to prevent a resort to either.

The consideration that a large public debt affords an apology, and
produces in some degree a necessity also, for resorting to a system
and extent of taxation which is not only oppressive throughout, but is
likewise so apt to lead in the end to the commission of that most odious
of all offenses against the principles of republican government, the
prostitution of political power, conferred for the general benefit,
to the aggrandizement of particular classes and the gratification of
individual cupidity, is alone sufficient, independently of the weighty
objections which have already been urged, to render its creation and
existence the sources of bitter and unappeasable discord. If we add
to this its inevitable tendency to produce and foster extravagant
expenditures of the public moneys, by which a necessity is created for
new loans and new burdens on the people, and, finally, refer to the
examples of every government which has existed for proof, how seldom it
is that the system, when once adopted and implanted in the policy of a
country, has failed to expand itself until public credit was exhausted
and the people were no longer able to endure its increasing weight, it
seems impossible to resist the conclusion that no benefits resulting
from its career, no extent of conquest, no accession of wealth to
particular classes, nor any nor all its combined advantages, can
counterbalance its ultimate but certain results--a splendid government
and an impoverished people.

If a national bank was, as is undeniable, repudiated by the framers of
the Constitution as incompatible with the rights of the States and the
liberties of the people; if from the beginning it has been regarded by
large portions of our citizens as coming in direct collision with that
great and vital amendment of the Constitution which declares that all
powers not conferred by that instrument on the General Government are
reserved to the States and to the people; if it has been viewed by them
as the first great step in the march of latitudinous construction, which
unchecked would render that sacred instrument of as little value as an
unwritten constitution, dependent, as it would alone be, for its meaning
on the interested interpretation of a dominant party, and affording no
security to the rights of the minority--if such is undeniably the case,
what rational grounds could have been conceived for anticipating aught
but determined opposition to such an institution at the present day.

Could a different result have been expected when the consequences which
have flowed from its creation, and particularly from its struggles to
perpetuate its existence, had confirmed in so striking a manner the
apprehensions of its earliest opponents; when it had been so clearly
demonstrated that a concentrated money power, wielding so vast a capital
and combining such incalculable means of influence, may in those
peculiar conjunctures to which this Government is unavoidably exposed
prove an overmatch for the political power of the people themselves;
when the true character of its capacity to regulate according to its
will and its interests and the interests of its favorites the value and
production of the labor and property of every man in this extended
country had been so fully and fearfully developed; when it was notorious
that all classes of this great community had, by means of the power and
influence it thus possesses, been infected to madness with a spirit of
heedless speculation; when it had been seen that, secure in the support
of the combination of influences by which it was surrounded, it could
violate its charter and set the laws at defiance with impunity; and
when, too, it had become most apparent that to believe that such an
accumulation of powers can ever be granted without the certainty of
being abused was to indulge in a fatal delusion?

To avoid the necessity of a permanent debt and its inevitable
consequences I have advocated and endeavored to carry into effect the
policy of confining the appropriations for the public service to such
objects only as are clearly within the constitutional authority of the
Federal Government; of excluding from its expenses those improvident and
unauthorized grants of public money for works of internal improvement
which were so wisely arrested by the constitutional interposition of my
predecessor, and which, if they had not been so checked, would long
before this time have involved the finances of the General Government
in embarrassments far greater than those which are now experienced by
any of the States; of limiting all our expenditures to that simple,
unostentatious, and economical administration of public affairs which is
alone consistent with the character of our institutions; of collecting
annually from the customs, and the sales of public lands a revenue fully
adequate to defray all the expenses thus incurred; but under no pretense
whatsoever to impose taxes upon the people to a greater amount than was
actually necessary to the public service conducted upon the principles
I have stated.

In lieu of a national bank or a dependence upon banks of any
description for the management of our fiscal affairs, I recommended
the adoption of the system which is now in successful operation.
That system affords every requisite facility for the transaction of
the pecuniary concerns of the Government; will, it is confidently
anticipated, produce in other respects many of the benefits which have
been from time to time expected from the creation of a national bank,
but which have never been realized; avoid the manifold evils inseparable
from such an institution; diminish to a greater extent than could be
accomplished by any other measure of reform the patronage of the Federal
Government--a wise policy in all governments, but more especially so in
one like ours, which works well only in proportion as it is made to rely
for its support upon the unbiased and unadulterated opinions of its
constituents; do away forever all dependence on corporate bodies either
in the raising, collecting, safekeeping, or disbursing the public
revenues, and place the Government equally above the temptation of
fostering a dangerous and unconstitutional institution at home or the
necessity of adapting its policy to the views and interests of a still
more formidable money power abroad.

It is by adopting and carrying out these principles under circumstances
the most arduous and discouraging that the attempt has been made, thus
far successfully, to demonstrate to the people of the United States that
a national bank at all times, and a national debt except it be incurred
at a period when the honor and safety of the nation demand the temporary
sacrifice of a policy which should only be abandoned in such exigencies,
are not merely unnecessary, but in direct and deadly hostility to the
principles of their Government and to their own permanent welfare.

The progress made in the development of these positions appears in the
preceding sketch of the past history and present state of the financial
concerns of the Federal Government. The facts there stated fully
authorize the assertion that all the purposes for which this Government
was instituted have been accomplished during four years of greater
pecuniary embarrassment than were ever before experienced in time of
peace, and in the face of opposition as formidable as any that was ever
before arrayed against the policy of an Administration; that this has
been done when the ordinary revenues of the Government were generally
decreasing as well from the operation of the laws as the condition
of the country, without the creation of a permanent public debt or
incurring any liability other than such as the ordinary resources of
the Government will speedily discharge, and without the agency of a
national bank.

If this view of the proceedings of the Government for the period it
embraces be warranted by the facts as they are known to exist; if the
Army and Navy have been sustained to the full extent authorized by law,
and which Congress deemed sufficient for the defense of the country and
the protection of its rights and its honor; if its civil and diplomatic
service has been equally sustained; if ample provision has been made for
the administration of justice and the execution of the laws; if the
claims upon public gratitude in behalf of the soldiers of the Revolution
have been promptly met and faithfully discharged; if there have been no
failures in defraying the very large expenditures growing out of that
long-continued and salutary policy of peacefully removing the Indians to
regions of comparative safety and prosperity; if the public faith has at
all times and everywhere been most scrupulously maintained by a prompt
discharge of the numerous, extended, and diversified claims on the
Treasury--if all these great and permanent objects, with many others
that might be stated, have for a series of years, marked by peculiar
obstacles and difficulties, been successfully accomplished without a
resort to a permanent debt or the aid of a national bank, have we not
a right to expect that a policy the object of which has been to sustain
the public service independently of either of these fruitful sources of
discord will receive the final sanction of a people whose unbiased and
fairly elicited judgment upon public affairs is never ultimately wrong?

That embarrassments in the pecuniary concerns of individuals of
unexampled extent and duration have recently existed in this as in other
commercial nations is undoubtedly true. To suppose it necessary now
to trace these reverses to their sources would be a reflection on the
intelligence of my fellow-citizens. Whatever may have been the obscurity
in which the subject was involved during the earlier stages of the
revulsion, there can not now be many by whom the whole question is not
fully understood.

Not deeming it within the constitutional powers of the General
Government to repair private losses sustained by reverses in business
having no connection with the public service, either by direct
appropriations from the Treasury or by special legislation designed to
secure exclusive privileges and immunities to individuals or classes
in preference to or at the expense of the great majority necessarily
debarred from any participation in them, no attempt to do so has been
either made, recommended, or encouraged by the present Executive.

It is believed, however, that the great purposes for the attainment of
which the Federal Government was instituted have not been lost sight
of. Intrusted only with certain limited powers, cautiously enumerated,
distinctly specified, and defined with a precision and clearness which
would seem to defy misconstruction, it has been my constant aim to
confine myself within the limits so clearly marked out and so carefully
guarded. Having always been of opinion that the best preservative of
the union of the States is to be found in a total abstinence from the
exercise of all doubtful powers on the part of the Federal Government
rather than in attempts to assume them by a loose construction of the
Constitution or an ingenious perversion of its words, I have endeavored
to avoid recommending any measure which I had reason to apprehend would,
in the opinion even of a considerable minority of my fellow-citizens, be
regarded as trenching on the rights of the States or the provisions of
the hallowed instrument of our Union. Viewing the aggregate powers of
the Federal Government as a voluntary concession of the States, it
seemed to me that such only should be exercised as were at the time
intended to be given.

I have been strengthened, too, in the propriety of this course by the
conviction that all efforts to go beyond this tend only to produce
dissatisfaction and distrust, to excite jealousies, and to provoke
resistance. Instead of adding strength to the Federal Government, even
when successful they must ever prove a source of incurable weakness by
alienating a portion of those whose adhesion is indispensable to the
great aggregate of united strength and whose voluntary attachment is
in my estimation far more essential to the efficiency of a government
strong in the best of all possible strength--the confidence and
attachment of all those who make up its constituent elements.

Thus believing, it has been my purpose to secure to the whole people and
to every member of the Confederacy, by general, salutary, and equal laws
alone, the benefit of those republican institutions which it was the end
and aim of the Constitution to establish, and the impartial influence
of which is in my judgment indispensable to their preservation. I can
not bring myself to believe that the lasting happiness of the people,
the prosperity of the States, or the permanency of their Union can be
maintained by giving preference or priority to any class of citizens
in the distribution of benefits or privileges, or by the adoption
of measures which enrich one portion of the Union at the expense of
another; nor can I see in the interference of the Federal Government
with the local legislation and reserved rights of the States a remedy
for present or a security against future dangers.

The first, and assuredly not the least, important step toward relieving
the country from the condition into which it had been plunged by
excesses in trade, banking, and credits of all kinds was to place the
business transactions of the Government itself on a solid basis, giving
and receiving in all cases value for value, and neither countenancing
nor encouraging in others that delusive system of credits from which it
has been found so difficult to escape, and which has left nothing behind
it but the wrecks that mark its fatal career.

That the financial affairs of the Government are now and have been
during the whole period of these wide-spreading difficulties conducted
with a strict and invariable regard to this great fundamental principle,
and that by the assumption and maintenance of the stand thus taken on
the very threshold of the approaching crisis more than by any other
cause or causes whatever the community at large has been shielded from
the incalculable evils of a general and indefinite suspension of specie
payments, and a consequent annihilation for the whole period it might
have lasted of a just and invariable standard of value, will, it is
believed, at this period scarcely be questioned.

A steady adherence on the part of the Government to the policy which has
produced such salutary results, aided by judicious State legislation
and, what is not less important, by the industry, enterprise,
perseverance, and economy of the American people, can not fail to raise
the whole country at an early period to a state of solid and enduring
prosperity, not subject to be again overthrown by the suspension of
banks or the explosion of a bloated credit system. It is for the people
and their representatives to decide whether or not the permanent welfare
of the country (which all good citizens equally desire, however widely
they may differ as to the means of its accomplishment) shall be in this
way secured, or whether the management of the pecuniary concerns of the
Government, and by consequence to a great extent those of individuals
also, shall be carried back to a condition of things which fostered
those contractions and expansions of the currency and those reckless
abuses of credit from the baleful effects of which the country has so
deeply suffered--a return that can promise in the end no better results
than to reproduce the embarrassments the Government has experienced, and
to remove from the shoulders of the present to those of fresh victims
the bitter fruits of that spirit of speculative enterprise to which our
countrymen are so liable and upon which the lessons of experience are so
unavailing. The choice is an important one, and I sincerely hope that it
may be wisely made.

A report from the Secretary of War, presenting a detailed view of the
affairs of that Department, accompanies this communication.

The desultory duties connected with the removal of the Indians, in
which the Army has been constantly engaged on the northern and western
frontiers and in Florida, have rendered it impracticable to carry into
full effect the plan recommended by the Secretary for improving its
discipline. In every instance where the regiments have been concentrated
they have made great progress, and the best results may be anticipated
from a continuance of this system. During the last season a part of the
troops have been employed in removing Indians from the interior to the
territory assigned them in the West--a duty which they have performed
efficiently and with praiseworthy humanity--and that portion of them
which has been stationed in Florida continued active operations there
throughout the heats of summer.

The policy of the United States in regard to the Indians, of which a
succinct account is given in my message of 1838, and of the wisdom and
expediency of which I am fully satisfied, has been continued in active
operation throughout the whole period of my Administration. Since the
spring of 1837 more than 40,000 Indians have been removed to their new
homes west of the Mississippi, and I am happy to add that all accounts
concur in representing the result of this measure as eminently
beneficial to that people.

The emigration of the Seminoles alone has been attended with serious
difficulty and occasioned bloodshed, hostilities having been commenced
by the Indians in Florida under the apprehension that they would be
compelled by force to comply with their treaty stipulations. The
execution of the treaty of Paynes Landing, signed in 1832, but not
ratified until 1834, was postponed at the solicitation of the Indians
until 1836, when they again renewed their agreement to remove peaceably
to their new homes in the West. In the face of this solemn and renewed
compact they broke their faith and commenced hostilities by the massacre
of Major Dade's command, the murder of their agent, General Thompson,
and other acts of cruel treachery. When this alarming and unexpected
intelligence reached the seat of Government, every effort appears to
have been made to reenforce General Clinch, who commanded the troops
then in Florida. General Eustis was dispatched with reenforcements from
Charleston, troops were called out from Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia,
and General Scott was sent to take the command, with ample powers and
ample means. At the first alarm General Gaines organized a force at
New Orleans, and without waiting for orders landed in Florida, where
he delivered over the troops he had brought with him to General Scott.

Governor Call was subsequently appointed to conduct a summer campaign,
and at the close of it was replaced by General Jesup. These events
and changes took place under the Administration of my predecessor.
Notwithstanding the exertions of the experienced officers who had
command there for eighteen months, on entering upon the administration
of the Government I found the Territory of Florida a prey to Indian
atrocities. A strenuous effort was immediately made to bring those
hostilities to a close, and the army under General Jesup was reenforced
until it amounted to 10,000 men, and furnished with abundant supplies
of every description. In this campaign a great number of the enemy
were captured and destroyed, but the character of the contest only
was changed. The Indians, having been defeated in every engagement,
dispersed in small bands throughout the country and became an
enterprising, formidable, and ruthless banditti. General Taylor, who
succeeded General Jesup, used his best exertions to subdue them, and was
seconded in his efforts by the officers under his command; but he too
failed to protect the Territory from their depredations. By an act
of signal and cruel treachery they broke the truce made with them by
General Macomb, who was sent from Washington for the purpose of carrying
into effect the expressed wishes of Congress, and have continued their
devastations ever since. General Armistead, who was in Florida when
General Taylor left the army by permission, assumed the command, and
after active summer operations was met by propositions for peace, and
from the fortunate coincidence of the arrival in Florida at the same
period of a delegation from the Seminoles who are happily settled west
of the Mississippi and are now anxious to persuade their countrymen to
join them there hopes were for some time entertained that the Indians
might be induced to leave the Territory without further difficulty.
These hopes have proved fallacious and hostilities have been renewed
throughout the whole of the Territory. That this contest has endured so
long is to be attributed to causes beyond the control of the Government.
Experienced generals have had the command of the troops, officers and
soldiers have alike distinguished themselves for their activity,
patience, and enduring courage, the army has been constantly furnished
with supplies of every description, and we must look for the causes
which have so long procrastinated the issue of the contest in the
vast extent of the theater of hostilities, the almost insurmountable
obstacles presented by the nature of the country, the climate, and
the wily character of the savages.

The sites for marine hospitals on the rivers and lakes which I was
authorized to select and cause to be purchased have all been designated,
but the appropriation not proving sufficient, conditional arrangements
only have been made for their acquisition. It is for Congress to decide
whether these conditional purchases shall be sanctioned and the humane
intentions of the law carried into full effect.

The Navy, as will appear from the accompanying report of the Secretary,
has been usefully and honorably employed in the protection of our
commerce and citizens in the Mediterranean, the Pacific, on the coast of
Brazil, and in the Gulf of Mexico. A small squadron, consisting of the
frigate _Constellation_ and the sloop of war _Boston_, under Commodore
Kearney, is now on its way to the China and Indian seas for the purpose
of attending to our interests in that quarter, and Commander Aulick, in
the sloop of war _Yorktown_, has been instructed to visit the Sandwich
and Society islands, the coasts of New Zealand and Japan, together with
other ports and islands frequented by our whale ships, for the purpose
of giving them countenance and protection should they be required. Other
smaller vessels have been and still are employed in prosecuting the
surveys of the coast of the United States directed by various acts of
Congress, and those which have been completed will shortly be laid
before you.

The exploring expedition at the latest date was preparing to leave the
Bay of Islands, New Zealand, in further prosecution of objects which
have thus far been successfully accomplished. The discovery of a new
continent, which was first seen in latitude 66 deg. 2' south, longitude 154 deg.
27' east, and afterwards in latitude 66 deg. 31' south, longitude 153 deg. 40'
east, by Lieutenants Wilkes and Hudson, for an extent of 1,800 miles,
but on which they were prevented from landing by vast bodies of ice
which encompassed it, is one of the honorable results of the enterprise.
Lieutenant Wilkes bears testimony to the zeal and good conduct of his
officers and men, and it is but justice to that officer to state that
he appears to have performed the duties assigned him with an ardor,
ability, and perseverance which give every assurance of an honorable
issue to the undertaking.

The report of the Postmaster-General herewith transmitted will exhibit
the service of that Department the past year and its present condition.
The transportation has been maintained during the year to the full
extent authorized by the existing laws; some improvements have been
effected which the public interest seemed urgently to demand, but not
involving any material additional expenditure; the contractors have
generally performed their engagements with fidelity; the postmasters,
with few exceptions, have rendered their accounts and paid their
quarterly balances with promptitude, and the whole service of the
Department has maintained the efficiency for which it has for several
years been distinguished.

The acts of Congress establishing new mail routes and requiring more
expensive services on others and the increasing wants of the country
have for three years past carried the expenditures something beyond the
accruing revenues, the excess having been met until the past year by
the surplus which had previously accumulated. That surplus having been
exhausted and the anticipated increase in the revenue not having been
realized owing to the depression in the commercial business of the
country, the finances of the Department exhibit a small deficiency at
the close of the last fiscal year. Its resources, however, are ample,
and the reduced rates of compensation for the transportation service
which may be expected on the future lettings from the general reduction
of prices, with the increase of revenue that may reasonably be
anticipated from the revival of commercial activity, must soon place
the finances of the Department in a prosperous condition.

Considering the unfavorable circumstances which have existed during the
past year, it is a gratifying result that the revenue has not declined
as compared with the preceding year, but, on the contrary, exhibits a
small increase, the circumstances referred to having had no other effect
than to check the expected income.

It will be seen that the Postmaster-General suggests certain
improvements in the establishment designed to reduce the weight of the
mails, cheapen the transportation, insure greater regularity in the
service, and secure a considerable reduction in the rates of letter
postage--an object highly desirable. The subject is one of general
interest to the community, and is respectfully recommended to your
consideration.

The suppression of the African slave trade has received the continued
attention of the Government. The brig _Dolphin_ and schooner _Grampus_
have been employed during the last season on the coast of Africa for the
purpose of preventing such portions of that trade as were said to be
prosecuted under the American flag. After cruising off those parts of
the coast most usually resorted to by slavers until the commencement
of the rainy season, these vessels returned to the United States for
supplies, and have since been dispatched on a similar service.

From the reports of the commanding officers it appears that the trade is
now principally carried on under Portuguese colors, and they express the
opinion that the apprehension of their presence on the slave coast has
in a great degree arrested the prostitution of the American flag to this
inhuman purpose. It is hoped that by continuing to maintain this force
in that quarter and by the exertions of the officers in command much
will be done to put a stop to whatever portion of this traffic may have
been carried on under the American flag and to prevent its use in a
trade which, while it violates the laws, is equally an outrage on the
rights of others and the feelings of humanity. The efforts of the
several Governments who are anxiously seeking to suppress this traffic
must, however, be directed against the facilities afforded by what are
now recognized as legitimate commercial pursuits before that object can
be fully accomplished.

Supplies of provisions, water casks, merchandise, and articles connected
with the prosecution of the slave trade are, it is understood, freely
carried by vessels of different nations to the slave factories, and the
effects of the factors are transported openly from one slave station to
another without interruption or punishment by either of the nations to
which they belong engaged in the commerce of that region. I submit
to your judgments whether this Government, having been the first to
prohibit by adequate penalties the slave trade, the first to declare it
piracy, should not be the first also to forbid to its citizens all trade
with the slave factories on the coast of Africa, giving an example to
all nations in this respect which if fairly followed can not fail to
produce the most effective results in breaking up those dens of
iniquity.

M. VAN BUREN.

SPECIAL MESSAGES.

WASHINGTON, _December 7, 1840_.

Hon. R.M.T. HUNTER,

_Speaker of the House of Representatives_.

SIR: I herewith transmit a letter from the Secretary of the Navy, in
relation to the navy pension fund, to which the attention of Congress is
invited, and recommend an immediate appropriation of $151,352.39 to meet
the payment of pensions becoming due on and after the 1st of January,
1841.

M. VAN BUREN.

WASHINGTON, _December 10, 1840_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit, for the action of the Senate, a communication from the
Secretary of War, on the subject of the transfer of Chickasaw stock to
the Choctaw tribe, which the accompanying papers explain.

M. VAN BUREN.

WAR DEPARTMENT, _December 10, 1840_.

The PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

SIR: I have the honor to lay before you a communication from the
Commissioner of Indian Affairs, relative to the transfer of $500,000
Chickasaw stock to the Choctaws in execution of the compact of 17th
January, 1837, between those tribes, that if you think it advisable you
may assent to the proposed transfer and lay the matter before the Senate
for the sanction of that body.

Very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

J.R. POINSETT.

WAR DEPARTMENT, OFFICE INDIAN AFFAIRS,

_December, 1840_.

Hon. J.R. POINSETT,

_Secretary of War_.

SIR: A compact was made on the 17th January, 1837, "subject to the
approval of the President and Senate of the United States," which it
received from the former on the 24th March, 1837, in conformity with
the resolution of the Senate of 25th February, between the Choctaw and
Chickasaw tribes of Indians, of which I have the honor to inclose a copy.

By this instrument the right to occupy a portion of the Choctaw country
west of the Mississippi was, with certain privileges, secured to the
Chickasaws, who agreed to pay therefor $530,000, of which $30,000
were paid in 1837, and the remaining $500,000 it was agreed should be
invested under the direction of the Government of the United States
and that the interest should be paid annually to the Choctaws.

There being no money to place in the hands of the United States,
but a very large amount of Chickasaw stock under the direction of the
Treasury, the reasonable desire of the Choctaws that this large fund
belonging to them should be put in their own names on the books of the
Government can be gratified by a transfer of so much of the stock to the
Secretary of War for their use, upon which the interest will be received
and paid over to them. This will be an execution of the agreement of the
parties. A sale of stocks to raise the money and then a reinvestment of
it according to the letter of the compact ought not to be resorted to on
account of their present low price in the market.

In considering this subject in the course of the autumn the thirteenth
article of the treaty of 24th May, 1834, with the Chickasaws was
adverted to, by which it is provided: "If the Chickasaws shall be so
fortunate as to procure a home within the limits of the United States,
it is agreed that, with the consent of the President and Senate, so much
of their invested stock as may be necessary to the purchase of a country
for them to settle in shall be permitted to them to be sold, or the
United States will advance the necessary amount upon a guaranty and
pledge of an equal amount of their stocks." The compact before referred
to having been ratified by the President and Senate, it was doubted
whether that was not a virtual consent to the application of so much
of the stock as would be required to pay for the land and privileges
contracted for by the said compact, and an authority for the transfer
of it. The question was referred to the Attorney-General, who was of
opinion that the transfer could not be legally made without the assent
of the President and Senate to the particular act.

I have therefore respectfully to request that you will lay the matter
before the President, that if he concurs in the propriety of so doing he
may give his own and ask the consent of the Senate to the proposed
proceeding.

Very respectfully, your most obedient,

T. HARTLEY CRAWFORD.

WASHINGTON, _December 10, 1840_.

_To the Senate_:

I communicate a report[82] of the Secretary of State, with the documents
accompanying it, in compliance with the resolution of the Senate of the
20th of July last.

M. VAN BUREN.

[Footnote 82: Relating to sales and donations of public lots in
Washington, D.C.]

WASHINGTON, _December 21, 1840_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit herewith, for the consideration of the Senate with a view to
its ratification, a treaty of commerce and navigation between the United
States of America and His Majesty the King of the Belgians, signed at
Washington on the 29th day of March, 1840.

M. VAN BUREN.

WASHINGTON, _December 23, 1840_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

Herewith I transmit a communication[83] from the Secretary of the
Treasury and also copies of certain papers accompanying it, which are
believed to embrace the information contemplated by a resolution of the
House of Representatives of the 17th instant.

M. VAN BUREN.

[Footnote 83: Relating to the suspension of appropriations made at the
last session of Congress.]

WASHINGTON, _December 28, 1840_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

I herewith transmit to the House of Representatives a report[84] from
the Secretary of State, with accompanying papers, in answer to their
resolution of the 21st instant.

M. VAN BUREN.

[Footnote 84: Transmitting correspondence with Great Britain relative
to the burning of the steamboat _Caroline_ at Schlosser, N.Y., December
29, 1837.]

WASHINGTON, _December 28, 1840_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit herewith, for the consideration of the Senate with a view to
its ratification, a treaty of commerce and navigation between the United
States and Portugal, signed at Lisbon on the 26th day of August, 1840,
and certain letters relating thereto, of which a list is annexed.

M. VAN BUREN.

WASHINGTON, _December 20, 1840_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

I herewith transmit to the House of Representatives a report[85] from
the Secretary of State, with accompanying papers, in answer to their
resolution of the 23d instant.

M. VAN BUREN.

[Footnote 85: Transmitting correspondence with Great Britain relative to
proceedings on the part of that Government which may have a tendency to
interrupt our commerce with China.]

WASHINGTON, _January 2, 1841_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

I think proper to communicate to the House of Representatives, in further
answer to their resolution of the 21st ultimo, the correspondence which
has since occurred between the Secretary of State and the British
minister on the same subject.

M. VAN BUREN.

_Mr. Fox to Mr. Forsyth_.

WASHINGTON, _December 29, 1840_.

Hon. JOHN FORSYTH, etc.

SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the
26th instant, in which, in reply to a letter which I had addressed to
you on the 13th, you acquaint me that the President is not prepared to
comply with my demand for the liberation of Mr. Alexander McLeod, of
Upper Canada, now imprisoned at Lockport, in the State of New York, on
a pretended charge of murder and arson, as having been engaged in the
destruction of the piratical steamboat _Caroline_ on the 29th of
December, 1837.

I learn with deep regret that such is the decision of the President of
the United States, for I can not but foresee the very grave and serious
consequences that must ensue if, besides the injury already inflicted
upon Mr. McLeod of a vexatious and unjust imprisonment, any further harm
should be done to him in the progress of this extraordinary proceeding.

I have lost no time in forwarding to Her Majesty's Government in England
the correspondence that has taken place, and I shall await the further
orders of Her Majesty's Government with respect to the important
question which that correspondence involves.

But I feel it my duty not to close this communication without
likewise testifying my vast regret and surprise at the expressions which
I find repeated in your letter with reference to the destruction of the
steamboat _Caroline_. I had confidently hoped that the first erroneous
impression of the character of that event, imposed upon the mind of the
United States Government by partial and exaggerated representations,
would long since have been effaced by a more strict and accurate
examination of the facts. Such an investigation must even yet,
I am willing to believe, lead the United States Government to the
same conviction with which Her Majesty's authorities on the spot
were impressed--that the act was one, in the strictest sense, of
self-defense, rendered absolutely necessary by the circumstances of the
occasion for the safety and protection of Her Majesty's subjects, and
justified by the same motives and principles which upon similar and
well-known occasions have governed the conduct of illustrious officers
of the United States. The steamboat _Caroline_ was a hostile vessel
engaged in piratical war against Her Majesty's people, hired from
her owners for that express purpose, and known to be so beyond the
possibility of doubt. The place where the vessel was destroyed was
nominally, it is true, within the territory of a friendly power, but the
friendly power had been deprived through overbearing piratical violence
of the use of its proper authority over that portion of territory. The
authorities of New York had not even been able to prevent the artillery
of the State from being carried off publicly at midday to be used as
instruments of war against Her Majesty's subjects. It was under such
circumstances, which it is to be hoped will never recur, that the
vessel was attacked by a party of Her Majesty's people, captured, and
destroyed. A remonstrance against the act in question has been addressed
by the United States to Her Majesty's Government in England. I am not
authorized to pronounce the decision of Her Majesty's Government upon
that remonstrance, but I have felt myself bound to record in the
meantime the above opinion, in order to protest in the most solemn
manner against the spirited and loyal conduct of a party of Her
Majesty's officers and people being qualified, through an unfortunate
misapprehension, as I believe, of the facts, with the appellation of
outrage or of murder.

I avail myself of this occasion to renew to you the assurance of my
distinguished consideration.

H.S. FOX.

_Mr. Forsyth to Mr. Fox_.

DEPARTMENT OF STATE,

_Washington, December 31, 1840_.

SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the
29th instant, in reply to mine of the 26th, on the subject of the arrest
and detention of Alexander McLeod as one of the perpetrators of the
outrage committed in New York when the steamboat _Caroline_ was seized
and burnt. Full evidence of that outrage has been presented to Her
Britannic Majesty's Government with a demand for redress, and of course
no discussion of the circumstances here can be either useful or proper,
nor can I suppose it to be your desire to invite it. I take leave of the
subject with this single remark, that the opinion so strongly expressed
by you on the facts and principles involved in the demand for reparation
on Her Majesty's Government by the United States would hardly have been
hazarded had you been possessed of the carefully collected testimony
which has been presented to your Government in support of that demand.

I avail myself of the occasion to renew to you the assurance of my
distinguished consideration.

JOHN FORSYTH.

WASHINGTON, _January 4, 1841_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I submit herewith a treaty concluded with the Miami Indians for the
cession of their lands in the State of Indiana. The circumstances
attending this negotiation are fully set forth in the accompanying
communication from the Secretary of War. Although the treaty was
concluded without positive instructions and the usual official
preliminaries, its terms appear to be so advantageous and the
acquisition of these lands are deemed so desirable by reason of their
importance to the State of Indiana and the Government, as well as on
account of the Indians themselves, who will be greatly benefited by
their removal west, that I have thought it advisable to submit it to
the action of the Senate.

M. VAN BUREN.

WAR DEPARTMENT, _January 4, 1841_.

The PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

SIR: I have the honor to transmit herewith a treaty concluded with the
Miami Indians of the State of Indiana, to be laid before the Senate for
their ratification if upon due consideration of the circumstances under
which this treaty was negotiated you should think proper to do so. These
circumstances are fully and correctly set forth in the accompanying
communication from the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, to which I beg
leave respectfully to refer you.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

J.R. POINSETT.

WAR DEPARTMENT, OFFICE INDIAN AFFAIRS,

_December 29, 1840_.

Hon. J.R. POINSETT,

_Secretary of War_.

SIR: A treaty made with the Miami tribe of Indians in the State of
Indiana on the 28th day of November last for the residue of their lands
in that State has been unexpectedly received.

Great anxiety has been manifested by the citizens of Indiana and made
known by their representatives in both Houses of Congress that a cession
of the Miami land should be procured, and it seems to have been met by
a correspondent disposition on the part of the leading men among the
Indians. On the 25th May last a communication was received from General
Samuel Milroy, subagent, etc., expressing the belief that the Miamies
would treat and that their principal chief was desirous before the close
of his life, now drawing near, to effect a negotiation, as in his
opinion the emigration or extinction of the tribe were the alternatives
before them, and suggesting that the most judicious course would be to
conduct the business informally at the annuity payment. In reply he was
informed on the 2d July that the Department did not open negotiations
for the purchase of Indian lands unless thereto previously authorized by
Congress, and that at the request of a portion of the representation of
Indiana an estimate had been furnished of the sum that would be required
to hold a treaty, and that if the presumed intention of obtaining the
estimate should be realized an effort would be made to execute the
purpose for which the appropriation would be obtained. (Extracts from
these letters, so far as they relate to the subject, are herewith sent,
marked A.[86]) On the 31st July he renewed the subject, accompanied by
an extract of a letter of 22d July to himself from Allen Hamilton, esq.,
the confidential friend of Chief Richardville, urging the propriety of
a negotiation. (B.[86])

On the 12th August, no appropriation having been made by Congress, a
letter was addressed to you by the Hon. O.H. Smith, of the Senate of the
United States from Indiana, inclosing a letter from Mr. Hamilton, dated
on the 11th, urging the vast importance of treating with the Miamies,
as well to them as to the State, and giving the reasons which in the
judgment of both led to the conclusion that their particular case should
form an exception to the general rule that obtains in regard of Indian
treaties, and recommending strongly the appointment of General Milroy as
a suitable person to conduct the negotiation. A communication of similar
character (except the last feature), dated 20th August, was received
from Mr. Milroy. The letter of the Hon. Mr. Smith was referred by you to
this office, and on the 27th August, after a conference with you on the
subject, I replied that exceptions to the rule stated might under very
peculiar circumstances exist, but that as the Senate certainly, and
it was believed the House too, had rejected an application for an
appropriation, the opening of a negotiation might be considered to be
opposed to an expression of legislative opinion. In answer to the
suggestion that little or perhaps no expense need be incurred, as the
treaty could be made at the payment of the annuities, it was remarked
that the consideration money must necessarily be large, as the Miami
lands were very valuable, and an appropriation of it required, which
Congress might be disinclined to grant after what had happened; that it
was therefore deemed advisable to decline treating, and that perhaps a
future application for legislative sanction might be more successful.
Of this letter a copy was sent to General Milroy as a reply on the
subject in hand to his communication of 31st July, and his letter of
20th August was further answered on 2d September. (C.[86])

In consequence of the representations referred to, and probably others
which did not reach me, you addressed me an unofficial note on 14th
September, suggesting that Allen Hamilton, esq., might at the payment
of the annuities make an arrangement with the Miamies that would be
"gratifying to the people as well as beneficial to the service."
With this expressed wish of the head of the Department, and after
consultation with you, I wrote unofficial letters to General Samuel
Milroy and to Allen Hamilton, esq., on the 18th September, setting forth
the views of the Department as hereinbefore expressed in regard of
precedent legislative sanction and the importance to Indiana of treating
with the Miamies, whose disposition to cede their remaining lands on
just and equitable terms might not continue. It was thought, however, to
be in keeping with the rule adopted to ascertain informally from the
Miamies what they would be willing to take for their lands when it was
their pleasure to emigrate, etc. It was doubted whether it would be
judicious to reduce the terms to writing, however informally, on account
of the difficulty there might be in convincing the Indians that it was
not a treaty, although it was desirable, if it could be safely done,
that it should be so; and they were informed that a report from them
would answer "all my purposes, as my object is to be able to say to each
branch of Congress upon what terms the Miami lands can be had by the
United States, so that if the terms are approved the necessary law may
be passed." It was suggested that the annuity payment would afford a
good opportunity for procuring the information desired, which it was
expected could be had without any expense, for which there were no
funds, and that if there were it would not be proper to expend them
in the way proposed. (D.[86])

I desire to state the facts as they exist so fully as to exhibit
precisely what has been the action of the Department, without going into
more detail than may be necessary, and therefore annex extracts and
copies of the papers referred to instead of embodying them in this
communication.

On the 28th day of November last a treaty was concluded by Messrs.
Samuel Milroy and Allen Hamilton with "the chiefs, warriors, and headmen
of the Miami tribe of Indians," which was received here on the 19th
instant, accompanied by a letter explanatory of the treaty and stating
it to have been made by "the undersigned, acting under instructions
contained in your unofficial letter dated September 18, 1840;" that it
was made at the annuity payment, when "the views and instructions of the
Department" were "communicated to the Miami Indians in full council,"
and that "after full consideration of the subject they decided to reduce
to treaty form a proposition or the terms upon which they would consent
to cede their remaining lands in Indiana to the United States, subject,
as they understand it, to the approval of the Department and the
approval and ratification of the President and Senate of the United
States before being of any binding force or efficiency as a treaty."
With the original treaty I send a copy of the explanatory letter and of
a communication from General Milroy giving the reasons for the money
provisions made for the chief Richardville and the family of Chief
Godfrey. (E.[86])

It will be thus seen that the negotiation of a treaty was not
authorized; but if in the opinion of the President and Senate it shall
be advisable to adopt and confirm it, I do not see any legal objection
to such a course. The quantity of land ceded is estimated at about
500,000 acres, for which the consideration is fixed at $550,000, or
$1.10 per acre, of which $250,000 are payable presently and the balance
in annual payments of $15,000, which will be discharged in twenty years.
In addition, we will be bound to remove them west of the Mississippi
within five years, the period stipulated for their emigration, and to
subsist them for one year after their arrival. These are the chief
provisions in which the United States are interested. By the second (it
is called in the treaty now submitted the "22," which, if the President
should decide to lay it before the Senate, can be corrected by that
body) article of the treaty of 6th November, 1838, there is reserved
from the cession contained in that instrument 10 miles square for the
band of Ma-to-sin-ia, in regard of which the seventh article says:

"It is further stipulated that the United States convey by patent to
Me-shing-go-me-zia, son of Ma-to-sin-ia, the tract of land reserved by
the twenty-second article of the treaty of 6th of November, 1838, to
the band of Ma-to-sin-ia."

This is a change as to the title of a reservation heretofore sanctioned
and not now ceded, and so far as the United States are concerned does
not vary the aspect of the present compact. There are reserved to the
chief Richardville seven sections of land, and to him and the family of
the deceased chief Godfrey are to be paid, respectively, considerable
sums of money, which it seems from the statement of General Milroy were
debts due to them and acknowledged by the tribe.

The treaty of November, 1838, which was ratified on the 8th February,
1839, extinguished the Indian title to about 177,000 acres of land and
cost the United States $335,680, or nearly $2 per acre. Measured by this
price the present arrangement would seem to be very advantageous. It is
stated by Messrs. Milroy and Hamilton that more favorable terms will not
be assented to by the Miamies under any circumstances, and considering
the great importance of the adoption of this compact, however
irregularly made, to the State of Indiana, as well as the belief that
any postponement will probably swallow up what remains to these Indians
in debts which they most improvidently contract and the conviction that
nothing can save them from moral ruin but their removal west, I think
it would be judicious in all views of the matter to adopt and ratify
this treaty, and respectfully recommend that it, with the accompanying
papers, be laid before the President, and, if he and you concur in my
views, that the sanction of it by the Senate be asked.

Respectfully submitted,

T. HARTLEY CRAWFORD.

[Footnote 86: Omitted.]

WASHINGTON, _January 5, 1841_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I communicate to the Senate sundry papers,[87] in further answer to its
resolution of the 30th of December, 1839, which have been received from
the governor of Florida since the adjournment of the last session of
Congress.

M. VAN BUREN.

[Footnote 87: Relating to bonds of the Territory of Florida.]

WASHINGTON, _January 6, 1841_.

Hon. R.M. JOHNSON,

_President of the Senate_.

SIR: The report of the Secretary of War herewith and the accompanying
documents are respectfully submitted in reply to the resolution of the
Senate of June 30, 1840, calling for information in relation to the
number of soldiers enlisted in the late war and entitled to bounty
land, etc.

M. VAN BUREN.

WASHINGTON, _January 7, 1841_.

Hon. R.M. JOHNSON,

_President of the Senate_.

SIR: The communication of the Secretary of War and the accompanying
report of the colonel of Topographical Engineers are respectfully
submitted in reply to the resolution of the 15th of June last, calling
for a plan and estimate for the improvement of Pennsylvania avenue west
of the President's square and for the construction of a stone bridge
across Rock Creek, etc.

M. VAN BUREN.

WASHINGTON, _January 18, 1841_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I herewith transmit to the Senate, in reply to their resolution of
the 20th of July last, a report from the Secretary of State, with
accompanying papers.[88]

M. VAN BUREN.

[Footnote 88: Correspondence imputing malpractices to N.P. Trust,
American consul at Havana, in regard to granting papers to vessels
engaged in the slave trade, etc.]

WASHINGTON, _January 19, 1841_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

I herewith transmit to the House of Representatives a report, with
accompanying papers,[89] from the Secretary of State, in answer to
the resolution of the House of the 16th of December last.

M. VAN BUREN.

[Footnote 89: Relating to the origin of any political relations between
the United States and the Empire of China, etc.]

WASHINGTON, _January 22, 1841_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

I transmit herewith to the House of Representatives of the United States
a report from the Director of the Mint, exhibiting the operations of
that institution during the year 1840, and I have to invite the special
attention of Congress to that part of the Director's report in relation
to the overvaluation given to the gold in foreign coins by the act of
Congress of June 28, 1834, "regulating the value of certain foreign gold
coin within the United States."

Applications have been frequently made at the Mint for copies of medals
voted at different times by Congress to the officers who distinguished
themselves in the War of the Revolution and in the last war (the dies
for which are deposited in the Mint), and it is submitted to Congress
whether authority shall be given to the Mint to strike off copies of
those medals, in bronze or other metal, to supply those persons making
application for them, at a cost not to exceed the actual expense of
striking them off.

M. VAN BUREN.

WASHINGTON, _January 29, 1841_.

_To the Senate and House of Representatives_:

By the report of the Secretary of State herewith communicated and the
accompanying papers it appears that an additional appropriation is
necessary if it should be the pleasure of Congress that the preparatory
exploration and survey of the northeastern boundary of the United States
should be completed.

M. VAN BUREN.

WASHINGTON, _February 1, 1841_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I respectfully transmit herewith a report and accompanying documents
from the Secretary of War, in answer to a resolution of the 22d of
December, 1840, requesting the President to transmit to the Senate any
information in his possession relative to the survey directed by the act
of the 12th of June, 1838, entitled "An act to ascertain and designate
the boundary line between the State of Michigan and Territory of
Wiskonsin."

M. VAN BUREN.

WASHINGTON, _February 8, 1841_.

_To the Senate and House of Representatives_:

I transmit herewith the copy of a report from the commissioners for the
exploration and survey of the northeastern boundary, in addition to the
documents sent to Congress, with reference to a further appropriation
for the completion of the duty intrusted to the commission.

M. VAN BUREN.

_Report of the commissioners appointed by the President of the United
States under the act of Congress of 20th July, 1840, for the purpose of
exploring and surveying the boundary line between the States of Maine
and New Hampshire and the British Provinces_.

NEW YORK, _January 6, 1842_.

Hon. JOHN FORSYTE,

_Secretary of State_.

SIR: The commissioners, having assembled in this city in conformity
with your orders under date of 29th of July, beg leave respectfully
to report--

That the extent of country and the great length of the boundary line
included in the objects of their commission would have rendered it
impossible to have completed the task assigned them within the limits of
a single season. In addition to this physical impossibility, the work of
the present year was entered upon under circumstances very unfavorable
for making any great progress. The law under which they have acted was
passed at the last period of a protracted session, when nearly half
of the season during which working parties can be kept in the field
had elapsed; and although no delay took place in the appointment of
commissioners to carry it into effect, the organization of the board was
not effected, in consequence of the refusal of one of the commissioners
and the agent to accept of their nomination. The commissioners, acting
under these disadvantages, have done all that lay in their power to
accomplish the greatest practicable extent of work, and have obtained
many results which can not but be important in the examination of the
vexed and important question which has been committed to them; but after
having fully and maturely considered the subject and interchanged the
results of their respective operations they have come to the conclusion
that it would be premature to embody the partial results which they have
attained in a general report for the purpose of being laid before the
political and scientific world. The meridian line of the St. Croix
has not been carried to a distance of more than 50 miles from the
monument at the source of that river, and the operations of the other
commissioners, although they have covered a wide extent of country,
have fulfilled but one part of the duty assigned them, namely, that of
exploration; while even in the parts explored actual surveys will be
necessary for the purpose of presenting the question in such form as can
admit of no cavil. In particular, the results of the examination of the
most northern part of the line appear to differ in some points from the
conclusions of the late British commission. Satisfied that the latter
have been reached in too hasty a manner and without a sufficient time
having been expended upon comparative observations, they are cautioned
by this example against committing a like error. In respect to the
argumentative part of the report of the British commissioners, the duty
of furnishing a prompt and immediate reply to such parts of it as rest
upon the construction of treaties and the acts of diplomacy has been
rendered far less important than it might at one time have appeared by
the publication of the more important parts of the argument laid before
the King of the Netherlands as umpire. This argument, the deliberate
and studied work of men who well understood the subject, is a full
exposition of the grounds on which the claim of the United States to the
whole of the disputed territory rests. It has received the sanction of
successive Administrations of opposite politics, and may therefore be
considered, in addition to its original official character, as approved
by the whole nation. To this publication your commission beg leave to
refer as embodying an argument which may be styled unanswerable.

The operations of the parties under the command of the several
commissioners were as follows:

The party under the direction of Professor Renwick left Portland in
detachments on the 26th and 27th of August. The place of general
rendezvous was fixed at Woodstock, or, failing that, at the Grand Falls
of the St. John. The commissary of the party proceeded as speedily as
possible to Oldtown, in order to procure boats and engage men. Professor
Renwick passed by land through Brunswick, Gardiner, and Augusta. At
the former place barometer No. 1 was compared with that of Professor
Cleaveland, at Gardiner with that of Hallowel Gardiner, esq.; and
arrangements were made with them to keep registers, to be used as
corresponding observations with those of the expedition. At Augusta some
additional articles of equipment were obtained from the authorities of
the State, but the barometer which it had been hoped might have been
procured was found to be unfit for service. At Houlton two tents and
a number of knapsacks, with some gunpowder, were furnished by the
politeness of General Bustis from the Government stores.

The boats and all the stores reached Woodstock on the 3d September, and
all the party were collected except one engineer, who had been left
behind at Bangor in the hopes of obtaining another barometer. A bateau
was therefore left to bring him on. The remainder of the boats were
loaded, and the party embarked on the St. John on the morning of the
4th of September. This, the main body, reached the Grand Falls at noon
on the 8th of September. The remaining bateau, with the engineer, arrived
the next evening, having ascended the rapids of the St. John in a time
short beyond precedent. On its arrival it was found that the barometer,
on whose receipt reliance had been placed, had not been completed in
time, and although, as was learnt afterwards, it had been committed as
soon as finished by the maker to the care of Major Graham, the other
commissioners felt compelled to set out before he had joined them. The
want of this barometer, in which defects observed in the others had been
remedied, was of no little detriment.

A delay of eighteen days had occurred in Portland in consequence of the
refusal of Messrs. Cleavelaud and Jarvis to accept their appointments,
and it was known from the experience of the commissioners sent out in
1838 by the State of Maine that it would require at least three weeks
to reach the line claimed by the United States from Bangor. It was
therefore imperative to push forward, unless the risk of having the
whole of the operations of this party paralyzed by the setting in of
winter was to be encountered. It was also ascertained at the Grand Falls
that the streams which were to be ascended were always shallow and
rapid, and that at the moment they were extremely low, so that the boats
would not carry more stores than would be consumed within the time
required to reach the region assigned to Professor Renwick as his share
of the duty and return. It became, therefore, necessary, as it had been
before feared it must, to be content with an exploration instead of a
close and accurate survey. Several of the men employed had been at the
northern extremity of the meridian line, but their knowledge was limited
to that single object. Inquiry was carefully made for guides through the
country between the sources of the Grande Fourche of Restigouche and of
Tuladi, but none were to be found. One Indian only had passed from the
head of Green River to the Grande Fourche, but his knowledge was limited
to a single path, in a direction not likely to shed any light on the
object of the commission. He was, however, engaged. The French hunters
of Madawaska had never penetrated beyond the sources of Green River, and
the Indians who formerly resided on the upper waters of the St. John
were said to have abandoned the country for more than twelve years.

The party was now divided into four detachments, the first to proceed
down the Restigouche to the tide of the Bay of Chaleurs, the second to
ascend the Grande Fourche of Restigouche to its source, the third to be
stationed on Green River Mountain, the fourth to convey the surplus
stores and heavy baggage to Lake Temiscouata and thence to ascend the
Tuladi and Abagusquash to the highest accessible point of the latter.
It was resolved that the second and fourth detachments should endeavor
to cross the country and meet each other, following as far as possible
the height of land. A general rendezvous was again fixed at Lake
Temiscouata.

In compliance with this plan, the first and second detachments ascended
the Grande River together, crossed the Wagansis portage, and reached the
confluence of the Grande Fourche and southwest branch of Restigouche.

The first detachment then descended the united stream, returned by the
same course to the St. John, and reached the portage at Temiscouata on
the 7th October. All the intended objects of the detachment were happily
accomplished.

The second detachment, under the personal direction of the commissioner,
reached the junction of the north and south branches of the Grande
Fourche on the 22d September. Two engineers, with two men to carry
provisions, were then dispatched to cross the country to the meridian
line, and thence to proceed westward to join the detachment at Kedgwick
Lake. This duty was performed and many valuable observations obtained,
but an accident, by which the barometer was broken, prevented all the
anticipated objects of the mission from being accomplished.

All the stores which could possibly be spared were now placed in a depot
at the junction of the south branch, and the commissioner proceeded with
the boats thus lightened toward Kedgwick Lake. The lightening of the
boats was rendered necessary in consequence of the diminution of the
volume of the river and the occurrence of falls, over which it would
have been impossible to convey them when fully loaded. For want of a
guide, a branch more western than that which issues from the lake was
entered. One of the boats was therefore sent round into the lake to

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