Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

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

Part 8 out of 11

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.2 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

future commercial intercourse all apprehension of embarrassment.
The King of the Netherlands has also, in further illustration of
his character for justice and of his desire to remove every cause of
dissatisfaction, made compensation for an American vessel captured in
1800 by a French privateer, and carried into Curacoa, where the proceeds
were appropriated to the use of the colony, then, and for a short time
after, under the dominion of Holland.

The death of the late Sultan has produced no alteration in our
relations with Turkey. Our newly appointed minister resident has reached
Constantinople, and I have received assurances from the present ruler
that the obligations of our treaty and those of friendship will be
fulfilled by himself in the same spirit that actuated his illustrious
father.

I regret to be obliged to inform you that no convention for the
settlement of the claims of our citizens upon Mexico has yet been
ratified by the Government of that country. The first convention formed
for that purpose was not presented by the President of Mexico for the
approbation of its Congress, from a belief that the King of Prussia,
the arbitrator in case of disagreement in the joint commission to be
appointed by the United States and Mexico, would not consent to take
upon himself that friendly office. Although not entirely satisfied with
the course pursued by Mexico, I felt no hesitation in receiving in the
most conciliatory spirit the explanation offered, and also cheerfully
consented to a new convention, in order to arrange the payments
proposed to be made to our citizens in a manner which, while equally
just to them, was deemed less onerous and inconvenient to the Mexican
Government. Relying confidently upon the intentions of that Government,
Mr. Ellis was directed to repair to Mexico, and diplomatic intercourse
has been resumed between the two countries. The new convention has, he
informs us, been recently submitted by the President of that Republic
to its Congress under circumstances which promise a speedy ratification,
a result which I can not allow myself to doubt.

Instructions have been given to the commissioner of the United States
under our convention with Texas for the demarcation of the line which
separates us from that Republic. The commissioners of both Governments
met in New Orleans in August last. The joint commission was organized,
and adjourned to convene at the same place on the 12th of October. It
is presumed to be now in the performance of its duties.

The new Government of Texas has shown its desire to cultivate friendly
relations with us by a prompt reparation for injuries complained of in
the cases of two vessels of the United States.

With Central America a convention has been concluded for the renewal of
its former treaty with the United States. This was not ratified before
the departure of our late charge d'affaires from that country, and the
copy of it brought by him was not received before the adjournment of the
Senate at the last session. In the meanwhile, the period limited for
the exchange of ratifications having expired, I deemed it expedient, in
consequence of the death of the charge d'affaires, to send a special
agent to Central America to close the affairs of our mission there and
to arrange with the Government an extension of the time for the exchange
of ratifications.

The commission created by the States which formerly composed the
Republic of Colombia for adjusting the claims against that Government
has by a very unexpected construction of the treaty under which it acts
decided that no provision was made for those claims of citizens of the
United States which arose from captures by Colombian privateers and were
adjudged against the claimants in the judicial tribunals. This decision
will compel the United States to apply to the several Governments
formerly united for redress. With all these--New Granada, Venezuela,
and Ecuador--a perfectly good understanding exists. Our treaty with
Venezuela is faithfully carried into execution, and that country, in
the enjoyment of tranquillity, is gradually advancing in prosperity
under the guidance of its present distinguished President, General Paez.
With Ecuador a liberal commercial convention has lately been concluded,
which will be transmitted to the Senate at an early day.

With the great American Empire of Brazil our relations continue
unchanged, as does our friendly intercourse with the other Governments
of South America--the Argentine Republic and the Republics of Uruguay,
Chili, Peru, and Bolivia. The dissolution of the Peru-Bolivian
Confederation may occasion some temporary inconvenience to our citizens
in that quarter, but the obligations on the new Governments which have
arisen out of that Confederation to observe its treaty stipulations will
no doubt be soon understood, and it is presumed that no indisposition
will exist to fulfill those which it contracted with the United States.

The financial operations of the Government during the present year have,
I am happy to say, been very successful. The difficulties under which
the Treasury Department has labored, from known defects in the existing
laws relative to the safe-keeping of the public moneys, aggravated by
the suspension of specie payments by several of the banks holding public
deposits or indebted to public officers for notes received in payment of
public dues, have been surmounted to a very gratifying extent. The large
current expenditures have been punctually met, and the faith of the
Government in all its pecuniary concerns has been scrupulously
maintained.

The nineteen millions of Treasury notes authorized by the act of
Congress of 1837, and the modifications thereof with a view to the
indulgence of merchants on their duty bonds and of the deposit banks
in the payment of public moneys held by them, have been so punctually
redeemed as to leave less than the original ten millions outstanding at
any one time, and the whole amount unredeemed now falls short of three
millions. Of these the chief portion is not due till next year, and
the whole would have been already extinguished could the Treasury have
realized the payments due to it from the banks. If those due from them
during the next year shall be punctually made, and if Congress shall
keep the appropriations within the estimates, there is every reason to
believe that all the outstanding Treasury notes can be redeemed and the
ordinary expenses defrayed without imposing on the people any additional
burden, either of loans or increased taxes.

To avoid this and to keep the expenditures within reasonable bounds is
a duty second only in importance to the preservation of our national
character and the protection of our citizens in their civil and
political rights. The creation in time of peace of a debt likely to
become permanent is an evil for which there is no equivalent. The
rapidity with which many of the States are apparently approaching
to this condition admonishes us of our own duties in a manner too
impressive to be disregarded. One, not the least important, is to keep
the Federal Government always in a condition to discharge with ease and
vigor its highest functions should their exercise be required by any
sudden conjuncture of public affairs--a condition to which we are always
exposed and which may occur when it is least expected. To this end
it is indispensable that its finances should be untrammeled and its
resources as far as practicable unencumbered. No circumstance could
present greater obstacles to the accomplishment of these vitally
important objects than the creation of an onerous national debt. Our
own experience and also that of other nations have demonstrated the
unavoidable and fearful rapidity with which a public debt is increased
when the Government has once surrendered itself to the ruinous practice
of supplying its supposed necessities by new loans. The struggle,
therefore, on our part to be successful must be made at the threshold.
To make our efforts effective, severe economy is necessary. This is the
surest provision for the national welfare, and it is at the same time
the best preservative of the principles on which our institutions rest.
Simplicity and economy in the affairs of state have never failed to
chasten and invigorate republican principles, while these have been
as surely subverted by national prodigality, under whatever specious
pretexts it may have been introduced or fostered.

These considerations can not be lost upon a people who have never been
inattentive to the effect of their policy upon the institutions they
have created for themselves, but at the present moment their force is
augmented by the necessity which a decreasing revenue must impose. The
check lately given to importations of articles subject to duties, the
derangements in the operations of internal trade, and especially the
reduction gradually taking place in our tariff of duties, all tend
materially to lessen our receipts; indeed, it is probable that the
diminution resulting from the last cause alone will not fall short of
$5,000,000 in the year 1842, as the final reduction of all duties to
20 per cent then takes effect. The whole revenue then accruing from
the customs and from the sales of public lands, if not more, will
undoubtedly be wanted to defray the necessary expenses of the Government
under the most prudent administration of its affairs. These are
circumstances that impose the necessity of rigid economy and require its
prompt and constant exercise. With the Legislature rest the power and
duty of so adjusting the public expenditure as to promote this end.
By the provisions of the Constitution it is only in consequence of
appropriations made by law that money can be drawn from the Treasury.
No instance has occurred since the establishment of the Government in
which the Executive, though a component part of the legislative power,
has interposed an objection to an appropriation bill on the sole ground
of its extravagance. His duty in this respect has been considered
fulfilled by requesting such appropriations only as the public service
may be reasonably expected to require. In the present earnest direction
of the public mind toward this subject both the Executive and the
Legislature have evidence of the strict responsibility to which they
will be held; and while I am conscious of my own anxious efforts to
perform with fidelity this portion of my public functions, it is
a satisfaction to me to be able to count on a cordial cooperation
from you.

At the time I entered upon my present duties our ordinary disbursements,
without including those on account of the public debt, the Post-Office,
and the trust funds in charge of the Government, had been largely
increased by appropriations for the removal of the Indians, for
repelling Indian hostilities, and for other less urgent expenses which
grew out of an overflowing Treasury. Independent of the redemption of
the public debt and trusts, the gross expenditures of seventeen and
eighteen millions in 1834 and 1835 had by these causes swelled to
twenty-nine millions in 1836, and the appropriations for 1837, made
previously to the 4th of March, caused the expenditure to rise to the
very large amount of thirty-three millions. We were enabled during the
year 1838, notwithstanding the continuance of our Indian embarrassments,
somewhat to reduce this amount, and that for the present year (1839)
will not in all probability exceed twenty-six millions, or six millions
less than it was last year. With a determination, so far as depends
on me, to continue this reduction, I have directed the estimates for
1840 to be subjected to the severest scrutiny and to be limited to the
absolute requirements of the public service. They will be found less
than the expenditures of 1839 by over $5,000,000.

The precautionary measures which will be recommended by the Secretary
of the Treasury to protect faithfully the public credit under the
fluctuations and contingencies to which our receipts and expenditures
are exposed, and especially in a commercial crisis like the present,
are commended to your early attention.

On a former occasion your attention was invited to various
considerations in support of a preemption law in behalf of the settlers
on the public lands, and also of a law graduating the prices for such
lands as had long been in the market unsold in consequence of their
inferior quality. The execution of the act which was passed on the first
subject has been attended with the happiest consequences in quieting
titles and securing improvements to the industrious, and it has also
to a very gratifying extent been exempt from the frauds which were
practiced under previous preemption laws. It has at the same time, as
was anticipated, contributed liberally during the present year to the
receipts of the Treasury.

The passage of a graduation law, with the guards before recommended,
would also, I am persuaded, add considerably to the revenue for several
years, and prove in other respects just and beneficial.

Your early consideration of the subject is therefore once more earnestly
requested.

The present condition of the defenses of our principal seaports and
navy-yards, as represented by the accompanying report of the Secretary
of War, calls for the early and serious attention of Congress; and, as
connecting itself intimately with this subject, I can not recommend too
strongly to your consideration the plan submitted by that officer for
the organization of the militia of the United States.

In conformity with the expressed wishes of Congress, an attempt was
made in the spring to terminate the Florida war by negotiation. It is
to be regretted that these humane intentions should have been frustrated
and that the effort to bring these unhappy difficulties to a
satisfactory conclusion should have failed; but after entering into
solemn engagements with the commanding general, the Indians, without any
provocation, recommenced their acts of treachery and murder. The renewal
of hostilities in that Territory renders it necessary that I should
recommend to your favorable consideration the plan which will be
submitted to you by the Secretary of War, in order to enable that
Department to conduct them to a successful issue.

Having had an opportunity of personally inspecting a portion of the
troops during the last summer, it gives me pleasure to bear testimony to
the success of the effort to improve their discipline by keeping them
together in as large bodies as the nature of our service will permit.
I recommend, therefore, that commodious and permanent barracks be
constructed at the several posts designated by the Secretary of War.
Notwithstanding the high state of their discipline and excellent police,
the evils resulting to the service from the deficiency of company
officers were very apparent, and I recommend that the staff officers be
permanently separated from the line.

The Navy has been usefully and honorably employed in protecting the
rights and property of our citizens wherever the condition of affairs
seemed to require its presence. With the exception of one instance,
where an outrage, accompanied by murder, was committed on a vessel of
the United States while engaged in a lawful commerce, nothing is known
to have occurred to impede or molest the enterprise of our citizens on
that element, where it is so signally displayed. On learning this daring
act of piracy, Commodore Reed proceeded immediately to the spot, and
receiving no satisfaction, either in the surrender of the murderers or
the restoration of the plundered property, inflicted severe and merited
chastisement on the barbarians.

It will be seen by the report of the Secretary of the Navy respecting
the disposition of our ships of war that it has been deemed necessary to
station a competent force on the coast of Africa to prevent a fraudulent
use of our flag by foreigners.

Recent experience has shown that the provisions in our existing laws
which relate to the sale and transfer of American vessels while abroad
are extremely defective. Advantage has been taken of these defects
to give to vessels wholly belonging to foreigners and navigating the
ocean an apparent American ownership. This character has been so well
simulated as to afford them comparative security in prosecuting the
slave trade--a traffic emphatically denounced in our statutes, regarded
with abhorrence by our citizens, and of which the effectual suppression
is nowhere more sincerely desired than in the United States. These
circumstances make it proper to recommend to your early attention a
careful revision of these laws, so that without impeding the freedom
and facilities of our navigation or impairing an important branch of
our industry connected with it the integrity and honor of our flag may
be carefully preserved. Information derived from our consul at Havana
showing the necessity of this was communicated to a committee of the
Senate near the close of the last session, but too late, as it appeared,
to be acted upon. It will be brought to your notice by the proper
Department, with additional communications from other sources.

The latest accounts from the exploring expedition represent it as
proceeding successfully in its objects and promising results no less
useful to trade and navigation than to science.

The extent of post-roads covered by mail service on the 1st of July last
was about 133,999 miles and the rate of annual transportation upon them
34,496,878 miles. The number of post-offices on that day was 12,780 and
on the 30th ultimo 13,028.

The revenue of the Post-Office Department for the year ending with the
30th of June last was $4,476,638, exhibiting an increase over the
preceding year of $241,560. The engagements and liabilities of the
Department for the same period are $4,624,117.

The excess of liabilities over the revenue for the last two years
has been met out of the surplus which had previously accumulated.
The cash on hand on the 30th ultimo was about $206,701.95, and the
current income of the Department varies very little from the rate of
current expenditures. Most of the service suspended last year has been
restored, and most of the new routes established by the act of 7th July,
1838, have been set in operation, at an annual cost of $136,963.
Notwithstanding the pecuniary difficulties of the country, the revenue
of the Department appears to be increasing, and unless it shall be
seriously checked by the recent suspension of payment by so many of the
banks it will be able not only to maintain the present mail service,
but in a short time to extend it. It is gratifying to witness the
promptitude and fidelity with which the agents of this Department
in general perform their public duties.

Some difficulties have arisen in relation to contracts for the
transportation of the mails by railroad and steamboat companies. It
appears that the maximum of compensation provided by Congress for the
transportation of the mails upon railroads is not sufficient to induce
some of the companies to convey them at such hours as are required for
the accommodation of the public. It is one of the most important duties
of the General Government to provide and maintain for the use of the
people of the States the best practicable mail establishment. To arrive
at that end it is indispensable that the Post-Office Department shall
be enabled to control the hours at which the mails shall be carried
over railroads, as it now does over all other roads. Should serious
inconveniences arise from the inadequacy of the compensation now
provided by law, or from unreasonable demands by any of the railroad
companies, the subject is of such general importance as to require
the prompt attention of Congress.

In relation to steamboat lines, the most efficient remedy is obvious
and has been suggested by the Postmaster-General. The War and Navy
Departments already employ steamboats in their service; and although
it is by no means desirable that the Government should undertake the
transportation of passengers or freight as a business, there can be no
reasonable objection to running boats, temporarily, whenever it may be
necessary to put down attempts at extortion, to be discontinued as soon
as reasonable contracts can be obtained.

The suggestions of the Postmaster-General relative to the inadequacy
of the legal allowance to witnesses in cases of prosecutions for mail
depredations merit your serious consideration. The safety of the mails
requires that such prosecutions shall be efficient, and justice to the
citizen whose time is required to be given to the public demands not
only that his expenses shall be paid, but that he shall receive a
reasonable compensation.

The reports from the War, Navy, and Post-Office Departments will
accompany this communication, and one from the Treasury Department
will be presented to Congress in a few days.

For various details in respect to the matters in charge of these
Departments I would refer you to those important documents, satisfied
that you will find in them many valuable suggestions which will be found
well deserving the attention of the Legislature.

From a report made in December of last year by the Secretary of State
to the Senate, showing the trial docket of each of the circuit courts
and the number of miles each judge has to travel in the performance of
his duties, a great inequality appears in the amount of labor assigned
to each judge. The number of terms to be held in each of the courts
composing the ninth circuit, the distances between the places at which
they sit and from thence to the seat of Government, are represented to
be such as to render it impossible for the judge of that circuit to
perform in a manner corresponding with the public exigencies his term
and circuit duties. A revision, therefore, of the present arrangement of
the circuit seems to be called for and is recommended to your notice.

I think it proper to call your attention to the power assumed by
Territorial legislatures to authorize the issue of bonds by corporate
companies on the guaranty of the Territory. Congress passed a law in
1836 providing that no act of a Territorial legislature incorporating
banks should have the force of law until approved by Congress, but acts
of a very exceptionable character previously passed by the legislature
of Florida were suffered to remain in force, by virtue of which bonds
may be issued to a very large amount by those institutions upon the
faith of the Territory. A resolution, intending to be a joint one,
passed the Senate at the same session, expressing the sense of Congress
that the laws in question ought not to be permitted to remain in force
unless amended in many material respects; but it failed in the House of
Representatives for want of time, and the desired amendments have not
been made. The interests involved are of great importance, and the
subject deserves your early and careful attention.

The continued agitation of the question relative to the best mode of
keeping and disbursing the public money still injuriously affects the
business of the country. The suspension of specie payments in 1837
rendered the use of deposit banks as prescribed by the act of 1836 a
source rather of embarrassment than aid, and of necessity placed the
custody of most of the public money afterwards collected in charge of
the public officers. The new securities for its safety which this
required were a principal cause of my convening an extra session of
Congress, but in consequence of a disagreement between the two Houses
neither then nor at any subsequent period has there been any legislation
on the subject. The effort made at the last session to obtain the
authority of Congress to punish the use of public money for private
purposes as a crime--a measure attended under other governments with
signal advantage--was also unsuccessful, from diversities of opinion in
that body, notwithstanding the anxiety doubtless felt by it to afford
every practicable security. The result of this is still to leave the
custody of the public money without those safeguards which have been for
several years earnestly desired by the Executive, and as the remedy is
only to be found in the action of the Legislature it imposes on me the
duty of again submitting to you the propriety of passing a law providing
for the safe-keeping of the public moneys, and especially to ask that
its use for private purposes by any officers intrusted with it may be
declared to be a felony, punishable with penalties proportioned to the
magnitude of the offense.

These circumstances, added to known defects in the existing laws and
unusual derangement in the general operations of trade, have during
the last three years much increased the difficulties attendant on the
collection, keeping, and disbursement of the revenue, and called forth
corresponding exertions from those having them in charge. Happily these
have been successful beyond expectation. Vast sums have been collected
and disbursed by the several Departments with unexpected cheapness and
ease, transfers have been readily made to every part of the Union,
however distant, and defalcations have been far less than might have
been anticipated from the absence of adequate legal restraints. Since
the officers of the Treasury and Post-Office Departments were charged
with the custody of most of the public moneys received by them there
have been collected $66,000,000, and, excluding the case of the late
collector at New York, the aggregate amount of losses sustained in the
collection can not, it is believed, exceed $60,000. The defalcation
of the late collector at that city, of the extent and circumstances
of which Congress have been fully informed, ran through all the modes
of keeping the public money that have been hitherto in use, and was
distinguished by an aggravated disregard of duty that broke through
the restraints of every system, and can not, therefore, be usefully
referred to as a test of the comparative safety of either. Additional
information will also be furnished by the report of the Secretary of
the Treasury, in reply to a call made upon that officer by the House
of Representatives at the last session requiring detailed information
on the subject of defaults by public officers or agents under each
Administration from 1789 to 1837. This document will be submitted to
you in a few days. The general results (independent of the Post-Office,
which is kept separately and will be stated by itself), so far as they
bear upon this subject, are that the losses which have been and are
likely to be sustained by any class of agents have been the greatest by
banks, including, as required in the resolution, their depreciated paper
received for public dues; that the next largest have been by disbursing
officers, and the least by collectors and receivers. If the losses on
duty bonds are included, they alone will be threefold those by both
collectors and receivers. Our whole experience, therefore, furnishes the
strongest evidence that the desired legislation of Congress is alone
wanting to insure in those operations the highest degree of security
and facility. Such also appears to have been the experience of other
nations. From the results of inquiries made by the Secretary of the
Treasury in regard to the practice among them I am enabled to state
that in twenty-two out of twenty-seven foreign governments from which
undoubted information has been obtained the public moneys are kept in
charge of public officers. This concurrence of opinion in favor of
that system is perhaps as great as exists on any question of internal
administration.

In the modes of business and official restraints on disbursing officers
no legal change was produced by the suspension of specie payments. The
report last referred to will be found to contain also much useful
information in relation to this subject.

I have heretofore assigned to Congress my reasons for believing that
the establishment of an independent National Treasury, as contemplated
by the Constitution, is necessary to the safe action of the Federal
Government. The suspension of specie payments in 1837 by the banks
having the custody of the public money showed in so alarming a degree
our dependence on those institutions for the performance of duties
required by law that I then recommended the entire dissolution of that
connection. This recommendation has been subjected, as I desired it
should be, to severe scrutiny and animated discussion, and I allow
myself to believe that notwithstanding the natural diversities of
opinion which may be anticipated on all subjects involving such
important considerations, it has secured in its favor as general a
concurrence of public sentiment as could be expected on one of such
magnitude.

Recent events have also continued to develop new objections to such a
connection. Seldom is any bank, under the existing system and practice,
able to meet on demand all its liabilities for deposits and notes in
circulation. It maintains specie payments and transacts a profitable
business only by the confidence of the public in its solvency, and
whenever this is destroyed the demands of its depositors and note
holders, pressed more rapidly than it can make collections from its
debtors, force it to stop payment. This loss of confidence, with its
consequences, occurred in 1837, and afforded the apology of the banks
for their suspension. The public then acquiesced in the validity of the
excuse, and while the State legislatures did not exact from them their
forfeited charters, Congress, in accordance with the recommendation of
the Executive, allowed them time to pay over the public money they held,
although compelled to issue Treasury notes to supply the deficiency thus
created.

It now appears that there are other motives than a want of public
confidence under which the banks seek to justify themselves in a refusal
to meet their obligations. Scarcely were the country and Government
relieved in a degree from the difficulties occasioned by the general
suspension of 1837 when a partial one, occurring within thirty months
of the former, produced new and serious embarrassments, though it had
no palliation in such circumstances as were alleged in justification
of that which had previously taken place. There was nothing in the
condition of the country to endanger a well-managed banking institution;
commerce was deranged by no foreign war; every branch of manufacturing
industry was crowned with rich rewards, and the more than usual
abundance of our harvests, after supplying our domestic wants, had left
our granaries and storehouses filled with a surplus for exportation.
It is in the midst of this that an irredeemable and depreciated paper
currency is entailed upon the people by a large portion of the banks.
They are not driven to it by the exhibition of a loss of public
confidence or of a sudden pressure from their depositors or note
holders, but they excuse themselves by alleging that the current of
business and exchange with foreign countries, which draws the precious
metals from their vaults, would require in order to meet it a larger
curtailment of their loans to a comparatively small portion of the
community than it will be convenient for them to bear or perhaps safe
for the banks to exact. The plea has ceased to be one of necessity.
Convenience and policy are now deemed sufficient to warrant these
institutions in disregarding their solemn obligations. Such conduct
is not merely an injury to individual creditors, but it is a wrong to
the whole community, from whose liberality they hold most valuable
privileges, whose rights they violate, whose business they derange, and
the value of whose property they render unstable and insecure. It must
be evident that this new ground for bank suspensions, in reference to
which their action is not only disconnected with, but wholly independent
of, that of the public, gives a character to their suspensions more
alarming than any which they exhibited before, and greatly increases
the impropriety of relying on the banks in the transactions of the
Government.

A large and highly respectable portion of our banking institutions are,
it affords me unfeigned pleasure to state, exempted from all blame on
account of this second delinquency. They have, to their great credit,
not only continued to meet their engagements, but have even repudiated
the grounds of suspension now resorted to. It is only by such a course
that the confidence and good will of the community can be preserved, and
in the sequel the best interests of the institutions themselves
promoted.

New dangers to the banks are also daily disclosed from the extension
of that system of extravagant credit of which they are the pillars.
Formerly our foreign commerce was principally founded on an exchange
of commodities, including the precious metals, and leaving in its
transactions but little foreign debt. Such is not now the case. Aided
by the facilities afforded by the banks, mere credit has become too
commonly the basis of trade. Many of the banks themselves, not content
with largely stimulating this system among others, have usurped the
business, while they impair the stability, of the mercantile community;
they have become borrowers instead of lenders; they establish their
agencies abroad; they deal largely in stocks and merchandise; they
encourage the issue of State securities until the foreign market is
glutted with them; and, unsatisfied with the legitimate use of their own
capital and the exercise of their lawful privileges, they raise by large
loans additional means for every variety of speculation. The disasters
attendant on this deviation from the former course of business in this
country are now shared alike by banks and individuals to an extent of
which there is perhaps no previous example in the annals of our country.
So long as a willingness of the foreign lender and a sufficient export
of our productions to meet any necessary partial payments leave the flow
of credit undisturbed all appears to be prosperous, but as soon as it
is checked by any hesitation abroad or by an inability to make payment
there in our productions the evils of the system are disclosed. The
paper currency, which might serve for domestic purposes, is useless
to pay the debt due in Europe. Gold and silver are therefore drawn in
exchange for their notes from the banks. To keep up their supply of coin
these institutions are obliged to call upon their own debtors, who pay
them principally in their own notes, which are as unavailable to them as
they are to the merchants to meet the foreign demand. The calls of the
banks, therefore, in such emergencies of necessity exceed that demand,
and produce a corresponding curtailment of their accommodations and
of the currency at the very moment when the state of trade renders it
most inconvenient to be borne. The intensity of this pressure on the
community is in proportion to the previous liberality of credit and
consequent expansion of the currency. Forced sales of property are made
at the time when the means of purchasing are most reduced, and the worst
calamities to individuals are only at last arrested by an open violation
of their obligations by the banks--a refusal to pay specie for their
notes and an imposition upon the community of a fluctuating and
depreciated currency.

These consequences are inherent in the present system. They are not
influenced by the banks being large or small, created by National
or State Governments. They are the results of the irresistible laws
of trade or credit. In the recent events, which have so strikingly
illustrated the certain effects of these laws, we have seen the bank
of the largest capital in the Union, established under a national
charter, and lately strengthened, as we were authoritatively informed,
by exchanging that for a State charter with new and unusual
privileges--in a condition, too, as it was said, of entire soundness
and great prosperity--not merely unable to resist these effects, but
the first to yield to them.

Nor is it to be overlooked that there exists a chain of necessary
dependence among these institutions which obliges them to a great extent
to follow the course of others, notwithstanding its injustice to their
own immediate creditors or injury to the particular community in which
they are placed. This dependence of a bank, which is in proportion to
the extent of its debts for circulation and deposits, is not merely on
others in its own vicinity, but on all those which connect it with the
center of trade. Distant banks may fail without seriously affecting
those in our principal commercial cities, but the failure of the latter
is felt at the extremities of the Union. The suspension at New York in
1837 was everywhere, with very few exceptions, followed as soon as it
was known. That recently at Philadelphia immediately affected the banks
of the South and West in a similar manner. This dependence of our whole
banking system on the institutions in a few large cities is not found
in the laws of their organization, but in those of trade and exchange.
The banks at that center, to which currency flows and where it is
required in payments for merchandise, hold the power of controlling
those in regions whence it comes, while the latter possess no means
of restraining them; so that the value of individual property and the
prosperity of trade through the whole interior of the country are made
to depend on the good or bad management of the banking institutions in
the great seats of trade on the seaboard.

But this chain of dependence does not stop here. It does not terminate
at Philadelphia or New York. It reaches across the ocean and ends in
London, the center of the credit system. The same laws of trade which
give to the banks in our principal cities power over the whole banking
system of the United States subject the former, in their turn, to the
money power in Great Britain. It is not denied that the suspension of
the New York banks in 1837, which was followed in quick succession
throughout the Union, was produced by an application of that power, and
it is now alleged, in extenuation of the present condition of so large
a portion of our banks, that their embarrassments have arisen from the
same cause.

From this influence they can not now entirely escape, for it has its
origin in the credit currencies of the two countries; it is strengthened
by the current of trade and exchange which centers in London, and is
rendered almost irresistible by the large debts contracted there by our
merchants, our banks, and our States. It is thus that an introduction of
a new bank into the most distant of our villages places the business of
that village within the influence of the money power in England; it is
thus that every new debt which we contract in that country seriously
affects our own currency and extends over the pursuits of our citizens
its powerful influence. We can not escape from this by making new banks,
great or small, State or national. The same chains which bind those
now existing to the center of this system of paper credit must equally
fetter every similar institution we create. It is only by the extent to
which this system has been pushed of late that we have been made fully
aware of its irresistible tendency to subject our own banks and
currency to a vast controlling power in a foreign land, and it adds
a new argument to those which illustrate their precarious situation.
Endangered in the first place by their own mismanagement and again by
the conduct of every institution which connects them with the center of
trade in our own country, they are yet subjected beyond all this to the
effect of whatever measures policy, necessity, or caprice may induce
those who control the credits of England to resort to. I mean not
to comment upon these measures, present or past, and much less to
discourage the prosecution of fair commercial dealing between the two
countries, based on reciprocal benefits; but it having now been made
manifest that the power of inflicting these and similar injuries is by
the resistless law of a credit currency and credit trade equally capable
of extending their consequences through all the ramifications of our
banking system, and by that means indirectly obtaining, particularly
when our banks are used as depositories of the public moneys, a
dangerous political influence in the United States, I have deemed it my
duty to bring the subject to your notice and ask for it your serious
consideration.

Is an argument required beyond the exposition of these facts to show
the impropriety of using our banking institutions as depositories of
the public money? Can we venture not only to encounter the risk of
their individual and mutual mismanagement, but at the same time to place
our foreign and domestic policy entirely under the control of a foreign
moneyed interest? To do so is to impair the independence of our
Government, as the present credit system has already impaired the
independence of our banks; it is to submit all its important operations,
whether of peace or war, to be controlled or thwarted, at first by our
own banks and then by a power abroad greater than themselves. I can not
bring myself to depict the humiliation to which this Government and
people might be sooner or later reduced if the means for defending their
rights are to be made dependent upon those who may have the most
powerful of motives to impair them.

Nor is it only in reference to the effect of this state of things on the
independence of our Government or of our banks that the subject presents
itself for consideration; it is to be viewed also in its relations to
the general trade of our country. The time is not long passed when a
deficiency of foreign crops was thought to afford a profitable market
for the surplus of our industry, but now we await with feverish anxiety
the news of the English harvest, not so much from motives of commendable
sympathy, but fearful lest its anticipated failure should narrow the
field of credit there. Does not this speak volumes to the patriot? Can
a system be beneficent, wise, or just which creates greater anxiety for
interests dependent on foreign credit than for the general prosperity of
our own country and the profitable exportation of the surplus produce of
our labor?

The circumstances to which I have thus adverted appear to me to afford
weighty reasons, developed by late events, to be added to those which
I have on former occasions offered when submitting to your better
knowledge and discernment the propriety of separating the custody of the
public money from banking institutions. Nor has anything occurred to
lessen, in my opinion, the force of what has been heretofore urged.
The only ground on which that custody can be desired by the banks is
the profitable use which they may make of the money. Such use would
be regarded in individuals as a breach of trust or a crime of great
magnitude, and yet it may be reasonably doubted whether, first and last,
it is not attended with more mischievous consequences when permitted to
the former than to the latter. The practice of permitting the public
money to be used by its keepers, as here, is believed to be peculiar to
this country and to exist scarcely anywhere else. To procure it here
improper influences are appealed to, unwise connections are established
between the Government and vast numbers of powerful State institutions,
other motives than the public good are brought to bear both on the
executive and legislative departments, and selfish combinations leading
to special legislation are formed. It is made the interest of banking
institutions and their stockholders throughout the Union to use their
exertions for the increase of taxation and the accumulation of a surplus
revenue, and while an excuse is afforded the means are furnished for
those excessive issues which lead to extravagant trading and speculation
and are the forerunners of a vast debt abroad and a suspension of the
banks at home.

Impressed, therefore, as I am with the propriety of the funds of the
Government being withdrawn from the private use of either banks or
individuals, and the public money kept by duly appointed public agents,
and believing as I do that such also is the judgment which discussion,
reflection, and experience have produced on the public mind, I leave the
subject with you. It is, at all events, essential to the interests of
the community and the business of the Government that a decision should
be made.

Most of the arguments that dissuade us from employing banks in the
custody and disbursement of the public money apply with equal force to
the receipt of their notes for public dues. The difference is only in
form. In one instance the Government is a creditor for its deposits, and
in the other for the notes it holds. They afford the same opportunity
for using the public moneys, and equally lead to all the evils attendant
upon it, since a bank can as safely extend its discounts on a deposit
of its notes in the hands of a public officer as on one made in its own
vaults. On the other hand, it would give to the Government no greater
security, for in case of failure the claim of the note holder would be
no better than that of a depositor.

I am aware that the danger of inconvenience to the public and
unreasonable pressure upon sound banks have been urged as objections
to requiring the payment of the revenue in gold and silver. These
objections have been greatly exaggerated. From the best estimates we may
safely fix the amount of specie in the country at $85,000,000, and the
portion of that which would be employed at any one time in the receipts
and disbursements of the Government, even if the proposed change were
made at once, would not, it is now, after fuller investigation, believed
exceed four or five millions. If the change were gradual, several
years would elapse before that sum would be required, with annual
opportunities in the meantime to alter the law should experience prove
it to be oppressive or inconvenient. The portions of the community on
whose business the change would immediately operate are comparatively
small, nor is it believed that its effect would be in the least unjust
or injurious to them.

In the payment of duties, which constitute by far the greater portion of
the revenue, a very large proportion is derived from foreign commission
houses and agents of foreign manufacturers, who sell the goods consigned
to them generally at auction, and after paying the duties out of the
avails remit the rest abroad in specie or its equivalent. That the
amount of duties should in such cases be also retained in specie can
hardly be made a matter of complaint. Our own importing merchants,
by whom the residue of the duties is paid, are not only peculiarly
interested in maintaining a sound currency, which the measure in
question will especially promote, but are from the nature of their
dealings best able to know when specie will be needed and to procure
it with the least difficulty or sacrifice. Residing, too, almost
universally in places where the revenue is received and where the drafts
used by the Government for its disbursements must concentrate, they have
every opportunity to obtain and use them in place of specie should it be
for their interest or convenience. Of the number of these drafts and the
facilities they may afford, as well as of the rapidity with which the
public funds are drawn and disbursed, an idea may be formed from the
fact that of nearly $20,000,000 paid to collectors and receivers during
the present year the average amount in their hands at any one time has
not exceeded a million and a half, and of the fifteen millions received
by the collector of New York alone during the present year the average
amount held by him subject to draft during each week has been less than
half a million.

The ease and safety of the operations of the Treasury in keeping the
public money are promoted by the application of its own drafts to the
public dues. The objection arising from having them too long outstanding
might be obviated and they yet made to afford to merchants and banks
holding them an equivalent for specie, and in that way greatly lessen
the amount actually required. Still less inconvenience will attend the
requirement of specie in purchases of public lands. Such purchases,
except when made on speculation, are in general but single transactions,
rarely repeated by the same person; and it is a fact that for the
last year and a half, during which the notes of sound banks have been
received, more than a moiety of these payments has been voluntarily made
in specie, being a larger proportion than would have been required in
three years under the graduation proposed.

It is, moreover, a principle than which none is better settled by
experience that the supply of the precious metals will always be found
adequate to the uses for which they are required. They abound in
countries where no other currency is allowed. In our own States, where
small notes are excluded, gold and silver supply their place. When
driven to their hiding places by bank suspensions, a little firmness in
the community soon restores them in a sufficient quantity for ordinary
purposes. Postage and other public dues have been collected in coin
without serious inconvenience even in States where a depreciated paper
currency has existed for years, and this, with the aid of Treasury
notes for a part of the time, was done without interruption during the
suspension of 1837. At the present moment the receipts and disbursements
of the Government are made in legal currency in the largest portion of
the Union. No one suggests a departure from this rule, and if it can now
be successfully carried out it will be surely attended with even less
difficulty when bank notes are again redeemed in specie.

Indeed, I can not think that a serious objection would anywhere be
raised to the receipt and payment of gold and silver in all public
transactions were it not from an apprehension that a surplus in the
Treasury might withdraw a large portion of it from circulation and lock
it up unprofitably in the public vaults. It would not, in my opinion,
be difficult to prevent such an inconvenience from occurring; but the
authentic statements which I have already submitted to you in regard
to the actual amount in the public Treasury at any one time during the
period embraced in them and the little probability of a different state
of the Treasury for at least some years to come seem to render it
unnecessary to dwell upon it. Congress, moreover, as I have before
observed, will in every year have an opportunity to guard against it
should the occurrence of any circumstances lead us to apprehend injury
from this source. Viewing the subject in all its aspects, I can not
believe that any period will be more auspicious than the present for the
adoption of all measures necessary to maintain the sanctity of our own
engagements and to aid in securing to the community that abundant supply
of the precious metals which adds so much to their prosperity and gives
such increased stability to all their dealings.

In a country so commercial as ours banks in some form will probably
always exist, but this serves only to render it the more incumbent on
us, notwithstanding the discouragements of the past, to strive in our
respective stations to mitigate the evils they produce; to take from
them as rapidly as the obligations of public faith and a careful
consideration of the immediate interests of the community will permit
the unjust character of monopolies; to check, so far as may be
practicable, by prudent legislation those temptations of interest and
those opportunities for their dangerous indulgence which beset them on
every side, and to confine them strictly to the performance of their
paramount duty--that of aiding the operations of commerce rather than
consulting their own exclusive advantage. These and other salutary
reforms may, it is believed, be accomplished without the violation of
any of the great principles of the social compact, the observance of
which is indispensable to its existence, or interfering in any way with
the useful and profitable employment of real capital.

Institutions so framed have existed and still exist elsewhere, giving
to commercial intercourse all necessary facilities without inflating or
depreciating the currency or stimulating speculation. Thus accomplishing
their legitimate ends, they have gained the surest guaranty for their
protection and encouragement in the good will of the community. Among
a people so just as ours the same results could not fail to attend a
similar course. The direct supervision of the banks belongs, from the
nature of our Government, to the States who authorize them. It is to
their legislatures that the people must mainly look for action on that
subject. But as the conduct of the Federal Government in the management
of its revenue has also a powerful, though less immediate, influence
upon them, it becomes our duty to see that a proper direction is given
to it. While the keeping of the public revenue in a separate and
independent treasury and of collecting it in gold and silver will have
a salutary influence on the system of paper credit with which all banks
are connected, and thus aid those that are sound and well managed, it
will at the same time sensibly check such as are otherwise by at once
withholding the means of extravagance afforded by the public funds and
restraining them from excessive issues of notes which they would be
constantly called upon to redeem.

I am aware it has been urged that this control may be best attained and
exerted by means of a national bank. The constitutional objections
which I am well known to entertain would prevent me in any event from
proposing or assenting to that remedy; but in addition to this, I can
not after past experience bring myself to think that it can any longer
be extensively regarded as effective for such a purpose. The history of
the late national bank, through all its mutations, shows that it was
not so. On the contrary, it may, after a careful consideration of the
subject, be, I think, safely stated that at every period of banking
excess it took the lead; that in 1817 and 1818, in 1823, in 1831, and
in 1834 its vast expansions, followed by distressing contractions, led
to those of the State institutions. It swelled and maddened the tides of
the banking system, but seldom allayed or safely directed them. At a few
periods only was a salutary control exercised, but an eager desire, on
the contrary, exhibited for profit in the first place; and if afterwards
its measures were severe toward other institutions, it was because its
own safety compelled it to adopt them. It did not differ from them in
principle or in form; its measures emanated from the same spirit of
gain; it felt the same temptation to overissues; it suffered from and
was totally unable to avert those inevitable laws of trade by which it
was itself affected equally with them; and at least on one occasion, at
an early day, it was saved only by extraordinary exertions from the same
fate that attended the weakest institution it professed to supervise.
In 1837 it failed equally with others in redeeming its notes (though
the two years allowed by its charter for that purpose had not expired),
a large amount of which remains to the present time outstanding. It is
true that, having so vast a capital and strengthened by the use of all
the revenues of the Government, it possessed more power; but while it
was itself by that circumstance freed from the control which all banks
require, its paramount object and inducement were left the same--to
make the most for its stockholders, not to regulate the currency of the
country. Nor has it, as far as we are advised, been found to be greatly
otherwise elsewhere. The national character given to the Bank of England
has not prevented excessive fluctuations in their currency, and it
proved unable to keep off a suspension of specie payments, which lasted
for nearly a quarter of a century. And why should we expect it to be
otherwise? A national institution, though deriving its charter from a
different source than the State banks, is yet constituted upon the same
principles, is conducted by men equally exposed to temptation, and is
liable to the same disasters, with the additional disadvantage that
its magnitude occasions an extent of confusion and distress which the
mismanagement of smaller institutions could not produce. It can scarcely
be doubted that the recent suspension of the United States Bank of
Pennsylvania, of which the effects are felt not in that State alone, but
over half the Union, had its origin in a course of business commenced
while it was a national institution, and there is no good reason for
supposing that the same consequences would not have followed had it
still derived its powers from the General Government. It is in vain,
when the influences and impulses are the same, to look for a difference
in conduct or results. By such creations we do, therefore, but increase
the mass of paper credit and paper currency, without checking their
attendant evils and fluctuations. The extent of power and the efficiency
of organization which we give, so far from being beneficial, are in
practice positively injurious. They strengthen the chain of dependence
throughout the Union, subject all parts more certainly to common
disaster, and bind every bank more effectually in the first instance
to those of our commercial cities, and in the end to a foreign power.
In a word, I can not but believe that, with the full understanding of
the operations of our banking system which experience has produced,
public sentiment is not less opposed to the creation of a national bank
for purposes connected with currency and commerce than for those
connected with the fiscal operations of the Government.

Yet the commerce and currency of the country are suffering evils from
the operations of the State banks which can not and ought not to be
overlooked. By their means we have been flooded with a depreciated
paper, which it was evidently the design of the framers of the
Constitution to prevent when they required Congress to "coin money and
regulate the value of foreign coins," and when they forbade the States
"to coin money, emit bills of credit, make anything but gold and silver
a tender in payment of debts," or "pass any law impairing the obligation
of contracts." If they did not guard more explicitly against the present
state of things, it was because they could not have anticipated that the
few banks then existing were to swell to an extent which would expel to
so great a degree the gold and silver for which they had provided from
the channels of circulation, and fill them with a currency that defeats
the objects they had in view. The remedy for this must chiefly rest with
the States from whose legislation it has sprung. No good that might
accrue in a particular case from the exercise of powers not obviously
conferred on the General Government would authorize its interference or
justify a course that might in the slightest degree increase at the
expense of the States the power of the Federal authorities; nor do
I doubt that the States will apply the remedy. Within the last few
years events have appealed to them too strongly to be disregarded.
They have seen that the Constitution, though theoretically adhered to,
is subverted in practice; that while on the statute books there is no
legal tender but gold and silver, no law impairing the obligations of
contracts, yet that in point of fact the privileges conferred on banking
corporations have made their notes the currency of the country; that the
obligations imposed by these notes are violated under the impulses of
interest or convenience, and that the number and power of the persons
connected with these corporations or placed under their influence give
them a fearful weight when their interest is in opposition to the spirit
of the Constitution and laws. To the people it is immaterial whether
these results are produced by open violations of the latter or by the
workings of a system of which the result is the same. An inflexible
execution even of the existing statutes of most of the States would
redress many evils now endured, would effectually show the banks the
dangers of mismanagement which impunity encourages them to repeat,
and would teach all corporations the useful lesson that they are the
subjects of the law and the servants of the people. What is still
wanting to effect these objects must be sought in additional
legislation, or, if that be inadequate, in such further constitutional
grants or restrictions as may bring us back into the path from which
we have so widely wandered.

In the meantime it is the duty of the General Government to cooperate
with the States by a wise exercise of its constitutional powers and
the enforcement of its existing laws. The extent to which it may do so
by further enactments I have already adverted to, and the wisdom of
Congress may yet enlarge them. But above all, it is incumbent upon us
to hold erect the principles of morality and law, constantly executing
our own contracts in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution,
and thus serving as a rallying point by which our whole country may be
brought back to that safe and honored standard.

Our people will not long be insensible to the extent of the burdens
entailed upon them by the false system that has been operating on
their sanguine, energetic, and industrious character, nor to the means
necessary to extricate themselves from these embarrassments. The weight
which presses upon a large portion of the people and the States is
an enormous debt, foreign and domestic. The foreign debt of our
States, corporations, and men of business can scarcely be less than
$200,000,000, requiring more than $10,000,000 a year to pay the
interest. This sum has to be paid out of the exports of the country,
and must of necessity cut off imports to that extent or plunge the
country more deeply in debt from year to year. It is easy to see that
the increase of this foreign debt must augment the annual demand on
the exports to pay the interest, and to the same extent diminish the
imports, and in proportion to the enlargement of the foreign debt and
the consequent increase of interest must be the decrease of the import
trade. In lieu of the comforts which it now brings us we might have
our gigantic banking institutions and splendid, but in many instances
profitless, railroads and canals absorbing to a great extent in interest
upon the capital borrowed to construct them the surplus fruits of
national industry for years to come, and securing to posterity no
adequate return for the comforts which the labors of their hands might
otherwise have secured. It is not by the increase of this debt that
relief is to be sought, but in its diminution. Upon this point there
is, I am happy to say, hope before us; not so much in the return of
confidence abroad, which will enable the States to borrow more money, as
in a change of public feeling at home, which prompts our people to pause
in their career and think of the means by which debts are to be paid
before they are contracted. If we would escape embarrassment, public and
private, we must cease to run in debt except for objects of necessity
or such as will yield a certain return. Let the faith of the States,
corporations, and individuals already pledged be kept with the most
punctilious regard. It is due to our national character as well as
to justice that this should on the part of each be a fixed principle
of conduct. But it behooves us all to be more chary in pledging it
hereafter. By ceasing to run in debt and applying the surplus of our
crops and incomes to the discharge of existing obligations, buying less
and selling more, and managing all affairs, public and private, with
strict economy and frugality, we shall see our country soon recover from
a temporary depression, arising not from natural and permanent causes,
but from those I have enumerated, and advance with renewed vigor in her
career of prosperity.

Fortunately for us at this moment, when the balance of trade is greatly
against us and the difficulty of meeting it enhanced by the disturbed
state of our money affairs, the bounties of Providence have come to
relieve us from the consequences of past errors. A faithful application
of the immense results of the labors of the last season will afford
partial relief for the present, and perseverance in the same course will
in due season accomplish the rest. We have had full experience in times
past of the extraordinary results which can in this respect be brought
about in a short period by the united and well-directed efforts of a
community like ours. Our surplus profits, the energy and industry of our
population, and the wonderful advantages which Providence has bestowed
upon our country in its climate, its various productions, indispensable
to other nations, will in due time afford abundant means to perfect the
most useful of those objects for which the States have been plunging
themselves of late in embarrassment and debt, without imposing on
ourselves or our children such fearful burdens.

But let it be indelibly engraved on our minds that relief is not to be
found in expedients. Indebtedness can not be lessened by borrowing more
money or by changing the form of the debt. The balance of trade is not
to be turned in our favor by creating new demands upon us abroad. Our
currency can not be improved by the creation of new banks or more issues
from those which now exist. Although these devices sometimes appear to
give temporary relief, they almost invariably aggravate the evil in the
end. It is only by retrenchment and reform--by curtailing public and
private expenditures, by paying our debts, and by reforming our banking
system--that we are to expect effectual relief, security for the future,
and an enduring prosperity. In shaping the institutions and policy of
the General Government so as to promote as far as it can with its
limited powers these important ends, you may rely on my most cordial
cooperation.

That there should have been in the progress of recent events doubts in
many quarters and in some a heated opposition to every change can not
surprise us. Doubts are properly attendant on all reform, and it is
peculiarly in the nature of such abuses as we are now encountering to
seek to perpetuate their power by means of the influence they have been
permitted to acquire. It is their result, if not their object, to gain
for the few an ascendency over the many by securing to them a monopoly
of the currency, the medium through which most of the wants of mankind
are supplied; to produce throughout society a chain of dependence which
leads all classes to look to privileged associations for the means of
speculation and extravagance; to nourish, in preference to the manly
virtues that give dignity to human nature, a craving desire for
luxurious enjoyment and sudden wealth, which renders those who seek
them dependent on those who supply them; to substitute for republican
simplicity and economical habits a sickly appetite for effeminate
indulgence and an imitation of that reckless extravagance which
impoverished and enslaved the industrious people of foreign lands, and
at last to fix upon us, instead of those equal political rights the
acquisition of which was alike the object and supposed reward of our
Revolutionary struggle, a system of exclusive privileges conferred by
partial legislation. To remove the influences which had thus gradually
grown up among us, to deprive them of their deceptive advantages, to
test them by the light of wisdom and truth, to oppose the force which
they concentrate in their support--all this was necessarily the work of
time, even among a people so enlightened and pure as that of the United
States. In most other countries, perhaps, it could only be accomplished
through that series of revolutionary movements which are too often found
necessary to effect any great and radical reform; but it is the crowning
merit of our institutions that they create and nourish in the vast
majority of our people a disposition and a power peaceably to remedy
abuses which have elsewhere caused the effusion of rivers of blood and
the sacrifice of thousands of the human race. The result thus far is
most honorable to the self-denial, the intelligence, and the patriotism
of our citizens; it justifies the confident hope that they will carry
through the reform which has been so well begun, and that they will go
still further than they have yet gone in illustrating the important
truth that a people as free and enlightened as ours will, whenever
it becomes necessary, show themselves to be indeed capable of
self-government by voluntarily adopting appropriate remedies for every
abuse, and submitting to temporary sacrifices, however great, to insure
their permanent welfare.

My own exertions for the furtherance of these desirable objects have
been bestowed throughout my official career with a zeal that is
nourished by ardent wishes for the welfare of my country, and by an
unlimited reliance on the wisdom that marks its ultimate decision on all
great and controverted questions. Impressed with the solemn obligations
imposed upon me by the Constitution, desirous also of laying before my
fellow-citizens, with whose confidence and support I have been so highly
honored, such measures as appear to me conducive to their prosperity,
and anxious to submit to their fullest consideration the grounds upon
which my opinions are formed, I have on this as on preceding occasions
freely offered my views on those points of domestic policy that seem
at the present time most prominently to require the action of the
Government. I know that they will receive from Congress that full and
able consideration which the importance of the subjects merits, and
I can repeat the assurance heretofore made that I shall cheerfully and
readily cooperate with you in every measure that will tend to promote
the welfare of the Union.

M. VAN BUREN.

SPECIAL MESSAGES.

CITY OF WASHINGTON, _December 4, 1839_.

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

I transmit herewith a report from the Secretary of the Treasury,
exhibiting certain transfers of appropriations that have been made in
that Department in pursuance of the powers vested in the President of
the United States by the act of Congress of the 3d of March, 1809,
entitled "An act further to amend the several acts for the establishment
and regulation of the Treasury, War, and Navy Departments."

M. VAN BUREN.

CITY OF WASHINGTON, _December 4, 1839_.

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

I transmit herewith a report from the Secretary of War, which exhibits
certain transfers of appropriations made in the War Department under the
authority conferred upon the President of the United States by the acts
of Congress of March 3, 1809, and May 1, 1820, passed in addition to and
to amend the several acts for the establishment and regulation of the
Treasury, War, and Navy Departments.

M. VAN BUREN.

WASHINGTON, _December 11, 1839_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit for the consideration and advice of the Senate a treaty
concluded on the 3d day of September last with the Stockbridge and
Munsee tribes of Indians, with a report from the Secretary of War and
other documents in relation to it.

M. VAN BUREN.

WASHINGTON, _December 12, 1839_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I nominate the persons named in the accompanying list for promotion and
appointment in the Army to the several grades annexed to their names, as
proposed by the Secretary of War.

M. VAN BUREN.

WAR DEPARTMENT, _December 11, 1839_.

The PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

SIR: In submitting the accompanying list[55] of promotions and
appointments, which I respectfully recommend for your approval, I beg
leave to call your attention to that part of it which relates to the
Quartermaster's Department.

The seventh section of the act of 2d of March, 1821, fixing the
military peace establishment, provides "that there shall be one
Quartermaster-General; that there shall be two quartermasters with
the rank, pay, and emoluments of majors of cavalry, and ten assistant
quartermasters, who shall, in addition to their pay in the line, receive
a sum not less than ten nor more than twenty dollars per month, to be
regulated by the Secretary of War."

The third section of the act of the 18th May, 1826, provides for "two
additional quartermasters and ten assistant quartermasters, to be taken
from the line of the Army, who shall have the same rank and compensation
as are provided for like grades by the act of the 2d March, 1821," above
quoted; that is to say, the two additional quartermasters shall have the
"rank, pay, and emoluments of majors of cavalry," and the ten additional
assistant quartermasters "shall, in addition to their pay in the line,
receive a sum not less than $10 nor more than $20 per month."

The ninth section of the act of the 5th July, 1838, provides "that the
President of the United States be authorized, by and with the advice and
consent of the Senate, to add to the Quartermaster's Department not
exceeding two assistant quartermasters-general with the rank of colonel,
two deputy quartermasters-general with the rank of lieutenant-colonel,
and eight assistant quartermasters with the rank of captain; that the
assistant quartermasters now in service shall have the same rank as is
provided by this act for those hereby authorized: ... _Provided_, That
all the appointments in the Quartermaster's Department shall be made
from the Army, ... and that promotions in said Department shall take
place as in regiments and corps."

These are believed to be the only laws now in force which provide for
the organization of the Quartermaster's Department, and they are here
cited with a view to a full and clear understanding of the question of
precedence of rank between certain officers of that Department.

Prior to the act of the 5th of July, 1838, last quoted, the assistant
quartermasters were selected from the several regiments of the line to
perform duty in the Quartermaster's Department. They were never
commissioned in the Department; they merely received letters of
appointment as assistant quartermasters, and were allowed the additional
pay provided by the act of the 2d March, 1821, and 16th May, 1826. They
held no rank in the Department separate from their rank in the line, and
were liable to be returned to their regiments according to the wants of
the service or at the pleasure of the President. In completing the
organization of the Department provided by the act of 5th July. 1838,
several officers were selected from regiments for appointment as
assistant quartermasters whose lineal rank was greater than that held by
the assistant quartermasters then doing duty in the Department, and on
the 7th of July, the list being nearly completed, it was submitted to
the Senate for confirmation. All the assistant quartermasters thus
submitted to the Senate were confirmed to take rank from the 7th of
July, and in the order they were nominated, which was according to their
seniority in the line and agreeably to what was conceived to be the
intention of the law. Had the opposite course been pursued, the
lieutenants serving in the Department must either have outranked some of
the captains selected or else the selections must have been confined
altogether to the subaltern officers of the Army. It will appear,
therefore, that the relative rank of these officers has been properly
settled, both by a fair construction of the law and the long-established
regulation of the service which requires that "in cases where
commissions of the same grade and date interfere a retrospect is to be
had to former commissions in actual service at the time of appointment."
But as several of the assistant quartermasters who were doing duty in
the Department prior to the act of the 5th of July, 1838, have felt
themselves aggrieved by this construction of the law, and have urged a
consideration of their claims to priority of rank, I have felt it my
duty to lay their communications before you, with a view to their being
submitted to the Senate with the accompanying list,[55] should you think
proper to do so.

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

J.R. POINSETT.

[Footnote 55: Omitted.]

WASHINGTON, _December 17, 1839_.

Hon. WM. R. KING,

_President of the Senate_.

SIR: I transmit herewith a report made to me by the Secretary of the
Treasury, with accompanying documents, in regard to some difficulties
which have occurred concerning the kind of papers deemed necessary to be
provided by law for the use and protection of American vessels engaged
in the whale fisheries, and would respectfully invite the consideration
of Congress to some new legislation on a subject of so much interest and
difficulty.

M. VAN BUREN.

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

WASHINGTON CITY, _December 23, 1839_.

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

I herewith communicate to Congress copies of a letter from the governor
of Iowa to the Secretary of State and of the documents transmitted with
it, on the subject of a dispute respecting the boundary line between
that Territory and the State of Missouri. The disagreement as to the
extent of their respective jurisdictions has produced a state of
such great excitement that I think it necessary to invite your early
attention to the report of the commissioner appointed to run the line
in question under the act of the 18th of June, 1838, which was sent
to both Houses of Congress by the Secretary of State on the 30th of
January last.

M. VAN BUREN.

DECEMBER 24, 1839.

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

I transmit herewith to Congress a report from the Secretary of State,
on the subject of the law providing for taking the Sixth Census of the
United States, to which I invite your early attention.

M. VAN BUREN.

WASHINGTON, _December 28, 1839_.

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

I herewith transmit a report from the Secretary of the Treasury, in
relation to the employment of steam vessels in the Revenue-Cutter
Service, and recommend the subject to the special and favorable
consideration of Congress.

M. VAN BUREN.

WASHINGTON, _December 30, 1839_.

_To the Senate and House of Representatives_:

I transmit to Congress copies of a communication from Governor Lucas,
and of additional documents, in relation to the disputed boundary line
between the Territory of Iowa and the State of Missouri.

M. VAN BUREN.

WASHINGTON, _December 31, 1839_.

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

I communicate to Congress a report from the Secretary of State, in
relation to applications on the part of France for the extension to
vessels coming from the colonies of French Guiana and Senegal of the
benefits granted by the act of the 9th of May, 1828, to vessels of the
same nation coming from the islands of Guadaloupe and Martinique, and
for the repayment of duties levied in the district of Newport upon the
French ship _Alexandre_ and part of her cargo. The circumstances under
which these duties were demanded being, as stated by the Secretary
of the Treasury, of a character to entitle the parties to relief,
I recommend the adoption of the necessary legislative provisions to
authorize their repayment. I likewise invite your attention to the
evidence contained in the accompanying documents as to the treatment of
our vessels in the port of Cayenne, which will doubtless be found by
Congress such as to authorize the application to French vessels coming
from that colony of the liberal principles of reciprocity which have
hitherto governed the action of the legislature in analogous cases.

M. VAN BUREN.

WASHINGTON, _January 6, 1840_.

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

I herewith communicate to Congress copies of a communication received
from the chief magistrate of the State of Maryland in respect to the
cession to that State of the interest of the General Government in
the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. Having no authority to enter into the
proposed negotiation, I can only submit the subject to the consideration
of Congress. That body will, I am confident, give to it a careful and
favorable consideration and adopt such measures in the premises within
their competency as will be just to the State of Maryland and to all the
other interests involved.

M. VAN BUREN.

WASHINGTON CITY, _January 8, 1840_.

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

I transmit herewith for your consideration and action a communication
from the Secretary of War, which is accompanied by documents from the
military and topographical engineer bureaus, referred to in his late
annual report as relating to the system of internal improvement carried
on by the General Government, and showing the operations during the past
year in that branch of the public service intrusted to the topographical
bureau.

M. VAN BUREN.

WASHINGTON CITY, _January 8, 1840_.

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

In addition to the papers accompanying my messages of the 23d and
30th ultimo, I communicate to Congress a copy of a letter, with its
inclosure, since received at the Department of State from the governor
of Iowa, in relation to the disputed boundary between that Territory and
the State of Missouri.

M. VAN BUREN.

WASHINGTON CITY, _January 8, 1840_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

In compliance with a resolution that passed the Senate the 30th ultimo,
calling for information as to the banks which had recently suspended
specie payments and those which had resumed, as well as the cases where
they had refused payment of the public demands in specie, with several
other particulars, I requested the different Departments to prepare
reports on the whole subject so far as connected with the business with
each.

Having received an answer from the Treasury Department which, with the
documents annexed, will probably cover most of the inquiries, I herewith
submit the same to your consideration, and will present the reports from
the other Departments so soon as they are completed.

M. VAN BUREN.

WASHINGTON, _January 10, 1840_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit herewith, in compliance with a resolution of the 30th
ultimo, the proceedings of the court of inquiry in the case of
Lieutenant-Colonel Brant,[56] held at St. Louis in November last, and
the papers connected therewith, together with a copy of that officer's
resignation.

The report of the Secretary of War which accompanies these papers
contains the reasons for withholding the proceedings of the
court-martial.

M. VAN BUREN.

[Footnote 56: Relating to his administration of the affairs of the
Quartermaster's Department at St. Louis.]

WASHINGTON, _January 11, 1840_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit to the Senate, in compliance with its resolutions of the 30th
ultimo, two reports of the Secretary of State, containing the answers of
the Commissioner of Patents and the disbursing agent of the Department
of State to the inquiries embraced in said resolutions.[57]

M. VAN BUREN.

[Footnote 57: Relating to the sale or exchange of Government drafts,
etc.]

WASHINGTON, _January 11, 1840_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit herewith a report and statement of the Secretary of the
Treasury, furnishing the information called for by the resolution of the
30th ultimo, in relation to the amount of money drawn from the Treasury
in each of the five years preceding the commencement of the present
session of Congress, except the amount drawn under the special pension
laws. The statement showing the amount, it will be seen from the
accompanying communication of the Secretary of War, will take some
little time, but will be prepared as early as possible and transmitted.

M. VAN BUREN.

WASHINGTON, _January 13, 1840_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I again submit to you the amended treaty of June 11, 1838, with the
New York Indians. It is accompanied by minutes of the proceedings of
a council held with them at Cattaraugus on the 13th and 14th days of
August, 1839, at which were present on the part of the United States the
Secretary of War and on the part of the State of Massachusetts General
H.A.S. Dearborn, its commissioner; by various documentary testimony, and
by a memorial presented in behalf of the several committees on Indian
concerns appointed by the four yearly meetings of Friends of Genesee,
New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. In the latter document the
memorialists not only insist upon the irregularity and illegality of the
negotiation, but urge a variety of considerations which appear to them
to be very conclusive against the policy of the removal itself. The
motives by which they have been induced to take so deep an interest
in the subject are frankly set forth, and are doubtless of the most
beneficent character. They have, however, failed to remove my decided
conviction that the proposed removal, if it can be accomplished by
proper means, will be alike beneficial to the Indians, to the State
in which the land is situated, and to the more general interest of
the United States upon the subject of Indian affairs.

The removal of the New York Indians is not only important to the tribes
themselves, but to an interesting portion of western New York, and
especially to the growing city of Buffalo, which is surrounded by lands
occupied by the Senecas. To the Indians themselves it presents the only
prospect of preservation. Surrounded as they are by all the influences
which work their destruction, by temptation they can not resist and
artifices they can not counteract, they are rapidly declining, and,
notwithstanding the philanthropic efforts of the Society of Friends,
it is believed that where they are they must soon become extinct; and
to this portion of our country the extraordinary spectacle is presented
of densely populated and highly improved settlements inhabited by
industrious, moral, and respectable citizens, divided by a wilderness
on one side of which is a city of more than 20,000 souls, whose
advantageous position in every other respect and great commercial
prospects would insure its rapid increase in population and wealth
if not retarded by the circumstance of a naturally fertile district
remaining a barren waste in its immediate vicinity. Neither does it
appear just to those who are entitled to the fee simple of the land,
and who have paid a part of the purchase money, that they should suffer
from the waste which is constantly committed upon their reversionary
rights and the great deterioration of the land consequent upon such
depredations without any corresponding advantage to the Indian
occupants.

The treaty, too, is recommended by the liberality of its provisions.
The cession contained in the first article embraces the right, title,
and interest secured to "the Six Nations of the New York Indians and
St. Regis tribe" in lands at Green Bay by the Menomonee treaty of 8th
February, 1831, the supplement thereto of 17th of same month, and the
conditions upon which they were ratified by the Senate, except a tract
on which a part of the New York Indians now reside. The Menomonee treaty
assigned them 500,000 acres, coupled with the original condition that
they should remove to them within three years after the date of the
treaty, modified by the supplement so as to empower the President to
prescribe the term within which they should remove to the Green Bay
lands, and that if they neglected to do so within the period limited
so much of the land as should be unoccupied by them at the termination
thereof should revert to the United States. To these lands the New
York Indians claimed title, which was resisted, and, for quieting
the controversy, by the treaty of 1831 the United States paid a large
consideration; and it will be seen that by using the power given in the
treaty the Executive might put an end to the Indian claim. Instead of
this harsher measure, for a grant of all their interest in Wisconsin,
which, deducting the land in the actual occupancy of New York Indians,
amounts to about 435,000 acres, the treaty as amended by the Senate
gives 1,824,000 acres of lands in the West and the sum of $400,000 for
their removal and subsistence, for education and agricultural purposes,
the erection of mills and the necessary houses, and the promotion of
the mechanic arts. Besides, there are special money provisions for the
Cayugas, the Onondagas, the Oneidas of New York, the Tuscaroras, and
St. Regis Indians, and an engagement to receive from Ogden and Fellows
for the Senecas $202,000; to invest $100,000 of this sum in safe stocks
and to distribute $102,000 among the owners of improvements in New York
according to an appraisement; to sell for the Tuscaroras 5,000 acres
of land they hold in Niagara County, N.Y., and to invest the proceeds,
exclusive of what may be received for improvements, "the income from
which shall be paid to the nation at their new homes annually, and the
money which shall be received for improvements on said lands shall
be paid to the owners of the improvements when the lands are sold."
These are the substantial parts of the treaty, and are so careful of
Indian advantage that one might suppose they would be satisfactory to
those most anxious for their welfare. The right they cede could be
extinguished by a course that treaty provisions justify and authorize.
So long as they persevere in their determination to remain in New York
it is of no service to them, and for this naked right it is seen what
the United States propose to give them besides the sum of $202,000,
which will be due from the purchasers of their occupant right to the
Senecas, and $9,600 to the Tuscaroras for their title to 1,920 acres
of land in Ontario County, N.Y., exclusive of the 5,000 acres above
mentioned.

But whilst such are my views in respect to the measure itself, and while
I shall feel it to be my duty to labor for its accomplishment by the
proper use of all the means that are or shall be placed at my disposal
by Congress, I am at the same time equally desirous to avoid the use of
any which are inconsistent with those principles of benevolence and
justice which I on a former occasion endeavored to show have in the main
characterized the dealings of the Federal Government with the Indian
tribes from the Administration of President Washington to the present
time. The obstacles to the execution of the treaty grow out of the
following considerations: The amended treaty was returned to me by your
body at the close of its last session, accompanied by a resolution
setting forth that "whenever the President of the United States shall be
satisfied that the assent of the Seneca tribe of Indians has been given
to the amended treaty of June 11, 1838, with the New York Indians,
according to the true intent and meaning of the resolution of the 11th
of June, 1838, the Senate recommend that the President make proclamation
of said treaty and carry the same into effect." The resolution of the
11th of June, 1838, provided that "the said treaty shall have no force
or effect whatever as relates to any of the said tribes, nations, or
bands of New York Indians, nor shall it be understood that the Senate
have assented to any of the contracts connected with it until the same,
with the amendments herein proposed, is submitted and fully explained
by the commissioner of the United States to each of the said tribes or
bands separately assembled in council, and they have given their free
and voluntary consent thereto." The amended treaty was submitted to the
chiefs of the several tribes and its provisions explained to them in
council. A majority of the chiefs of each of the tribes of New York
Indians signed the treaty in council, except the Senecas. Of them only
16 signed in council, 13 signed at the commissioner's office, and 2, who
were confined by indisposition, at home. This was reported to the War
Department in October, 1838, and in January, 1839, a final return of
the proceedings of the commissioner was made, by which it appeared that
41 signatures of chiefs, including 6 out of the 8 sachems of the nation,
had been affixed to the treaty. The number of chiefs of the Seneca
Nation entitled to act for the people is variously estimated from
74 to 80, and by some at a still higher number. Thus it appears that,
estimating the number of chiefs at 80--and it is believed there are at
least that number--there was only a bare majority of them who signed the
treaty, and only 16 gave their assent to it in council. The Secretary of
War was under these circumstances directed to meet the chiefs of the New
York Indians in council, in order to ascertain, if possible, the views
of the several tribes, and especially of the Senecas, in relation to
the amended treaty. He did so in the month of August last, and the
minutes of the proceedings of that council are herewith submitted.
Much opposition was manifested by a party of the Senecas, and from some
cause or other some of the chiefs of the other tribes who had in former
councils consented to the treaty appeared to be now opposed to it.
Documents were presented showing that some of the Seneca chiefs had
received assurances of remuneration from the proprietors of the land,
provided they assented to the treaty and used their influence to obtain
that of the nation, while testimony was offered on the other side to
prove that many had been deterred from signing and taking part in favor
of the treaty by threats of violence, which, from the late intelligence
of the cruel murders committed upon the signers of the Cherokee treaty,
produced a panic among the partisans of that now under consideration.
Whatever may have been the means used by those interested in the fee
simple of these lands to obtain the assent of Indians, it appears from
the disinterested and important testimony of the commissioner appointed
by the State of Massachusetts that the agent of the Government acted
throughout with the utmost fairness, and General Dearborn declares
himself to be perfectly satisfied that were it not for the unremitted
and disingenuous exertions of a certain number of white men who are
actuated by their private interests, to induce the chiefs not to assent
to the treaty, it would immediately have been approved by an immense
majority--an opinion which he reiterated at Cattaraugus. Statements were
presented to the Secretary of War at Cattaraugus to show that a vast
majority of the New York Indians were adverse to the treaty, but no
reasonable doubt exists that the same influence which obtained this
expression of opinion would, if exerted with equal zeal on the other
side, have produced a directly opposite effect and shown a large
majority in favor of emigration. But no advance toward obtaining the
assent of the Seneca tribe to the amended treaty in council was made,
nor can the assent of a majority of them in council be now obtained.
In the report of the committee of the Senate, upon the subject of this
treaty, of the 28th of February last it is stated as follows:

But it is in vain to contend that the signatures of the last ten, which
were obtained on the second mission, or of the three who have sent on
their assent lately, is such a signing as was contemplated by the
resolution of the Senate. It is competent, however, for the Senate to
waive the usual and customary forms in this instance and consider the
signatures of these last thirteen as good as though they had been
obtained in open council. But the committee can not recommend the
adoption of such a practice in making treaties, for divers good reasons,
which must be obvious to the Senate; and among those reasons against
these secret individual negotiations is the distrust created that the
chiefs so acting are doing what a majority of their people do not
approve of, or else that they are improperly acted upon by bribery or
threats or unfair influences. In this case we have most ample
illustrations. Those opposed to the treaty accuse several of those who
signed their assent to the amended treaty with having been bribed, and
in at least one instance they make out the charge very clearly.

Although the committee, being four in number, were unable to agree upon
any recommendation to the Senate, it does not appear that there was any
diversity of opinion amongst them in regard to this part of the report.
The provision of the resolution of the Senate of the 11th of June,
1838, requiring the assent of each of the said tribes of Indians to
the amended treaty to be given in council, and which was also made a
condition precedent to the recommendation to me of the Senate of the 2d
of March, 1839, to carry the same into effect, has not, therefore, been
complied with as it respects the Seneca tribe.

It is, however, insisted by the advocates for the execution of the
treaty that it was the intention of the Senate by their resolution of
the 2d of March, 1839, to waive so much of the requirement of that
of the 11th of June, 1838, as made it necessary that the assent of
the different tribes should be given in council. This assumption is
understood to be founded upon the circumstances that the fact that
only sixteen of the chiefs had given their assent in that form had
been distinctly communicated to the Senate before the passage of the
resolution of the 2d of March, and that instead of being a majority that
number constituted scarcely one-fifth of the whole number of chiefs, and
it is hence insisted that unless the Senate had so intended there would
have been no use in sending the amended treaty to the President with the
advice contained in that resolution. This has not appeared to me to be
a necessary deduction from the foregoing facts, as the Senate may have
contemplated that the assent of the tribe in the form first required
should be thereafter obtained, and before the treaty was executed, and
the phraseology of the resolution, viz, "that whenever the President
shall be satisfied," etc., goes far to sustain this construction. The
interpretation of the acts of the Senate set up by the advocates for the
treaty is, moreover, in direct opposition to the disclaimer contained in
the report of the committee which has been adverted to. It is at best an
inference only, in respect to the truth of which the Senate can alone
speak with certainty, and which could not with propriety be regarded
as justifying the desired action in relation to the execution of the
treaty.

This measure is further objected to on the ground of improper
inducements held out to the assenting chiefs by the agents of the
proprietors of the lands, which, it is insisted, ought to invalidate
the treaty if even the requirement that the assent of the chiefs should
be given in council was dispensed with. Documentary evidence upon
this subject was laid before you at the last session, and is again
communicated, with additional evidence upon the same point. The charge
appears by the proceedings of the Senate to have been investigated by
your committee, but no conclusion upon the subject formed other than
that which is contained in the extract from the report of the committee
I have referred to, and which asserts that at least in one instance the
charge of bribery has been clearly made out. That improper means have
been employed to obtain the assent of the Seneca chiefs there is every
reason to believe, and I have not been able to satisfy myself that
I can, consistently with the resolution of the Senate of the 2d of
March, 1839, cause the treaty to be carried into effect in respect to
the Seneca tribe.

You will perceive that this treaty embraces the Six Nations of New York
Indians, occupying different reservations, but bound together by common
ties, and it will be expedient to decide whether in the event of that
part of it which concerns the Senecas being rejected it shall be
considered valid in relation to the other tribes, or whether the whole
confederacy shall share one fate. In the event of the Senate not
advising the ratification of the amended treaty, I invite your attention
to the proposal submitted by the dissentients to authorize a division
of the lands, so that those who prefer it may go West and enjoy the
advantages of a permanent home there, and of their proportion of the
annuities now payable, as well as of the several pecuniary and other
beneficiary provisions of the amended treaty.

M. VAN BUREN.

WASHINGTON CITY, _January 17, 1840_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit herewith a communication and statement from the Secretary
of War, containing the balance of the information, not heretofore
furnished, called for by a resolution of the 30th ultimo, in relation
to the amount of money drawn from the Treasury during the five years
immediately preceding the commencement of the present session of
Congress, in consequence of the legislation of that body upon private
claims.

M. VAN BUREN.

WASHINGTON, _January 20, 1840_.

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

I transmit a report from the Secretary of State, explaining the causes
which have prevented a compliance with the resolution of Congress for
the distribution of the Biennial Register.

M. VAN BUREN.

WASHINGTON, _January, 1840_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit to the Senate, for their consideration with a view to its
ratification, a treaty of peace, friendship, navigation, and commerce
between the United States of America and the Republic of Ecuador, signed
at Quito on the 13th day of June last. With a view to enable the Senate
to understand the motives which led to this compact, the progress of
its negotiation, and the grounds upon which it was concluded, I also
communicate a copy of the instructions from the Secretary of State to
Mr. Pickett in relation to it, and the original official dispatches of
the latter. It is requested that the dispatches may be returned when
the convention shall have been disposed of by the Senate.

M. VAN BUREN.

WASHINGTON, _January 21, 1840_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit to the Senate, in compliance with the request of the governor
of Massachusetts, a copy of a letter addressed to him by one of the
chiefs of the Seneca tribe of Indians in the State of New York, written
on behalf of that portion of the tribe opposed to the treaty of Buffalo.

M. VAN BUREN.

WASHINGTON, _January 22, 1840_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

In compliance with the resolution of the Senate of the 17th instant,
I communicate a report and documents from the Secretary of State and
a report from the Secretary of War.[58]

M. VAN BUREN.

[Footnote 58: Transmitting correspondence with the British Government
on the subject of the northeastern boundary and the jurisdiction of the
disputed territory; also with the governor of Maine and the minister of
Great Britain relative to the invasion of Maine, etc.]

WASHINGTON, _January 23, 1840_.

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

I herewith transmit a communication from the Secretary of the Treasury,
inclosing a letter addressed to him from the Solicitor of the Treasury,
and have to invite the earliest attention of Congress to the subject
contained therein.[59]

M. VAN BUREN.

[Footnote 59: Relating to the discharge of liens and incumbrances upon
real estate which has or may become the property of the United States.]

WASHINGTON, _January 25, 1840_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

The accompanying report[60] from the Secretary of State is, with its
inclosures, communicated to the Senate in compliance with their
resolution of the 14th instant.

M. VAN BUREN.

[Footnote 60: Relating to the compensation by Great Britain in the case
of the brigs _Enterprise, Encomium_, and _Comet_, slaves on board which
were forcibly seized and detained by local authorities of Bermuda and
Bahama islands.]

WASHINGTON, _January 25, 1840_.

The PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE.

SIR: I transmit a report from the Secretary of the Navy, containing
information required by a resolution of the Senate of the 2d of March,
1839, in relation to the military and naval defenses of the United
States.

M. VAN BUREN.

WASHINGTON CITY, _January 28, 1840_.

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

I present for your information a communication from the Secretary of
War, accompanied by a report and documents from the Chief Engineer, in
relation to certain works[61] under the superintendence of that officer
during the past year. These documents were intended as a supplement to
the annual report of the Chief Engineer, which was laid before Congress
at the commencement of the session.

M. VAN BUREN.

[Footnote 61: Operations in the Missouri, Arkansas, Ohio, and
Mississippi rivers, etc.]

WASHINGTON, _January 29, 1840_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I herewith transmit to the Senate, with reference to their resolutions
of the 17th instant, copies of two official notes which have passed
subsequently to the date of my message of the 22d between the Secretary
of State and the British minister at Washington, containing additional
information in answer to the resolutions referred to.

M. VAN BUREN.

_Mr. Fox to Mr. Forsyth_.

WASHINGTON, _January 26, 1840_.

Hon. JOHN FORSYTH, etc.:

The undersigned, Her Britannic Majesty's envoy extraordinary and
minister plenipotentiary, has the honor to acquaint Mr. Forsyth,
Secretary of State of the United States, that since the date of his
last official note, of the 12th instant, he has been furnished by Her
Majesty's authorities in North America with more correct information
than he then possessed respecting certain reported movements of British
troops within the disputed territory, which formed the subject of a part
of that official note, as well as of the two official notes addressed by
the Secretary of State to the undersigned on the 24th of December and
on the 16th of the present month. The same reported movements of troops
were referred to in a recent message from the governor of Maine to
the legislature of the State, and also in a published official letter
addressed by the governor of Maine to the President of the United States
on the 23d of December.

It appears from accurate information now in the possession of the
undersigned that the governor of Maine and through him the President
and General Government of the United States have been misinformed as to
the facts. In the first place, no reenforcement has been marched to the
British post at the Lake Temiscouata; the only change occurring there
has been the relief of a detachment of Her Majesty's Twenty-fourth
Regiment by a detachment of equal force of the Eleventh Regiment, this
force of one company being now stationed at the Temiscouata post, as
it always has been, for the necessary purpose of protecting the stores
and accommodations provided for the use of Her Majesty's troops who
may be required, as heretofore, to march by that route to and from the
Provinces of Canada and New Brunswick. In the second place, it is not
true that the British authorities either have built or are building
barracks on both sides of the St. John River or at the mouth of the
Madawaska River; no new barracks have in fact been built anywhere.
In the third place, Her Majesty's authorities are not concentrating a
military force at the Grand Falls; the same trifling force of sixteen
men is now stationed at the post of the Grand Falls which has been
stationed there for the last twelvemonth. It was perhaps, however,
needless for the undersigned to advert to this last matter at all,
as the post of the Grand Falls is beyond the bounds of the disputed
territory and within the acknowledged limits of New Brunswick.

The undersigned, while conveying the above information upon a matter of
fact to the Secretary of State of the United States, takes occasion to
repeat distinctly his former declaration that there exists no intention
on the part of Her Majesty's authorities to infringe the terms of those
provisional agreements which were entered into at the beginning of
last year so long as there is reason to trust that the same will be
faithfully adhered to by the opposite party; but it is the duty of
the undersigned at the same time clearly to state that Her Majesty's
authorities in North America, taking into view the attitude assumed by
the State of Maine with reference to the boundary question, will, as
at present advised, be governed entirely by circumstances in adopting
such measures of defense and protection (whether along the confines of
the disputed territory or within that portion of it where, it has been
before explained, the authority of Great Britain, according to the
existing agreements, was not to be interfered with) as may seem to them
necessary for guarding against or for promptly repelling the further
acts of hostile aggression over the whole of the disputed territory
which it appears to be the avowed design of the State of Maine sooner
or later to attempt.

For the undersigned has to observe that not only is the extensive
system of encroachment which was denounced and remonstrated against by
the undersigned in his official note of the 2d of last November still
carried on and persisted in by armed bands employed by the authorities
of Maine in the districts above the Aroostook and Fish rivers, but that
acts, as above stated, of a character yet more violent and obnoxious to
the rights of Great Britain and more dangerous to the preservation of
the general peace are with certainty meditated by the inhabitants of
that State. The existence of such designs has for months past been
a matter of notoriety by public report. Those designs were plainly
indicated in the recent message of the governor of Maine to the
legislature of the State, and they are avowed in more explicit terms
in the letter addressed to the President of the United States by the
governor of Maine on the 21st of November, which letter has within
the last few days been communicated to Congress and published.

The undersigned, it is true, has been assured by the Secretary of State,
in his note of the 16th instant, that the General Government see no
reason to doubt the disposition of the governor of Maine to adhere to
the existing arrangements and to avoid all acts tending to render more
difficult and distant the final adjustment of the boundary question;
but in face of the above clear indications of the intentions of Maine as
given out by the parties themselves the Secretary of State has not given
to the undersigned any adequate assurance that Maine will be constrained
to desist from carrying those intentions into effect if, contrary to the
expectation of the General Government, the legislature or the executive
of the State should think fit to make the attempt.

The undersigned not only preserves the hope, but he entertains the
firm belief, that if the duty of negotiating the boundary question be
left in the hands of the two national Governments, to whom alone of
right it belongs, the difficulty of conducting the negotiation to an
amicable issue will not be found so great as has been by many persons
apprehended. But the case will become wholly altered if the people
of the State of Maine, who, though interested in the result, are not
charged with the negotiation, shall attempt to interrupt it by violence.

Her Majesty's authorities in North America have on their part no desire
or intention to interfere with the course of the pending negotiation by

Book of the day: