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

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WASHINGTON, _February 7, 1855_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit to the Senate, for its advice with regard to ratification,
a convention for the mutual extradition of fugitives from justice in
certain cases between the United States and His Majesty the King of
Hanover, signed by the plenipotentiaries of the two Governments at
London on the 18th of January last. An extract from a dispatch of Mr.
Buchanan to the Secretary of State relative to the convention is also
herewith communicated.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

WASHINGTON, _February 7, 1855_.

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

I communicate to Congress herewith a letter and accompanying papers from
the Secretary of the Interior, of the 5th instant, on the subject of the
colonization of the Indians in the State of California, and recommend
that the appropriation therein asked for may be made.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

WASHINGTON, _February 7, 1855_.

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

I communicate to Congress the accompanying letter from the Secretary of
the Interior, with its inclosure, on the subject of a treaty between the
United States and the Chippewa Indians of Lake Superior, and recommend
that the appropriation therein asked for may be made.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

WASHINGTON, _February 9, 1855_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I communicate to the Senate herewith a report from the Secretary of
the Treasury, and also one from the Secretary of the Interior, with
accompanying papers, containing information called for by the resolution
adopted by the Senate on the 30th ultimo, respecting the advance of
public moneys to the marshal of the United States for the western
district of Arkansas.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

WASHINGTON, _February 9, 1855_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I herewith communicate to the Senate, for its constitutional action
thereon, the articles of convention and agreement between the Choctaw
and Chickasaw tribes of Indians made on the 4th day of November, 1854,
at Doaksville, near Fort Towson, Choctaw Nation.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

WASHINGTON, _February 12, 1855_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

The resolution of the Senate of the 11th of December last, requesting a
copy of the official correspondence relative to the late difficulties
between the consul of France at San Francisco and the authorities of the
United States in California, has been under consideration, and it was
hoped that the negotiations on the subject might have been brought to
a close, so as to have obviated any objection to a compliance with the
resolution at this session of Congress. Those negotiations, however, are
still pending, but I entertain a confident expectation that the affair
will be definitely and satisfactorily adjusted prior to the next
session.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

WASHINGTON, _February 14, 1855_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit to the Senate, for its consideration with a view to
ratification, a convention between the United States and His Majesty the
King of the Netherlands, upon the subject of the admission of the United
States consuls into the ports of the Dutch colonies.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

WASHINGTON, _February 14, 1855_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit to the Senate, for its consideration with a view to
ratification, a convention between the United States and His Majesty
the King of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, relative to the rights of
neutrals during war.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

WASHINGTON, _February 17, 1855_.

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

I communicate herewith a letter[41] of the Secretary of the Interior and
accompanying paper, for the consideration of Congress.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

[Footnote 41: Recommending an appropriation to supply a deficit in the
amount held on Indian account, caused by the failure of Selden, Withers
& Co., with whom it was deposited.]

WASHINGTON, _February 19, 1855_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit herewith, for the constitutional action of the Senate,
a treaty made on the 15th day of November, 1854, by Joel Palmer,
superintendent of Indian affairs, on the part of the United States, and
the chiefs and headmen of the Rogue River Indians in Oregon Territory.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

WASHINGTON, _February 19, 1855_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit herewith, for the constitutional action of the Senate, a
treaty made by Isaac I. Stevens, governor and superintendent of Indian
affairs in Washington Territory, on the part of the United States,
and the chiefs, headmen, and delegates of the Nesqually, Puyallup,
Steilacoom, Squawksin, S'Homamish, Ste'h-chass, F'peeksin, Squi-aitl,
and Sa-heh-wamish tribes and bands of Indians occupying the lands lying
around the head of Pugets Sound and the adjacent inlets in Washington
Territory.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

WASHINGTON, _February 19, 1855_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit herewith, for the constitutional action of the Senate, two
treaties, one made on the 18th day of November, 1854, by Joel Palmer,
superintendent of Indian affairs, on the part of the United States, and
the chiefs and headmen of the Quil-si-eton and Na-hel-ta bands of the
Chasta tribe of Indians, the Cow-non-ti-co, Sa-cher-i-ton, and Na-al-ye
bands of Scotans, and the Grave Creek band of Umpqua Indians in Oregon
Territory; the other, made on the 29th of November, 1854, by Joel
Palmer, superintendent of Indian affairs, on the part of the United
States, and the chiefs and headmen of the confederated bands of the
Umpqua tribe of Indians and the Calaponas, residing in Umpqua Valley,
Oregon Territory.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

WASHINGTON, _February 21, 1855_.

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

I communicate to Congress a communication of this date from the
Secretary of the Interior, with the accompanying paper, and recommend
that the appropriation[42] therein asked for be made.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

[Footnote 42: For extending and improving the culvert running from the
United States Capitol Grounds down the center of South Capitol street
toward the canal.]

WASHINGTON, _February 22, 1855_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

In compliance with the resolution of the Senate of the 21st instant, I
transmit a report from the Secretary of State, inclosing a copy of the
letter[43] addressed to the Department of State on the 17th November,
1852, by Mr. Joaquin J. de Osma, envoy extraordinary and minister
plenipotentiary of the Republic of Peru.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

[Footnote 43: Proposing a settlement of the Lobos Islands controversy.]

WASHINGTON, _February 23, 1855_.

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

I communicate to Congress herewith a communication of this date from the
Secretary of the Interior, with accompanying estimates, and recommend
that the appropriation[44] therein asked for be made.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

[Footnote 44: To fulfill treaty stipulations with the Wyandotte Indians.]

WASHINGTON, _February 24, 1855_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

In compliance with the resolution of the Senate of the 22d instant,
I transmit a report from the Secretary of State, together with the copy
of a communication from Francis W. Rice,[45] therein referred to.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

[Footnote 45: Late United States consul at Acapulco, relative to outrages
committed upon him by authorities of Mexico.]

WASHINGTON, _February 26, 1855_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit herewith a report of the Secretary of the Navy, in compliance
with a resolution of the Senate of the 20th instant, requesting the
President "to communicate to the Senate a copy of the order issued by
the Navy Department to the officer in command of the Home Squadron in
pursuance of which the United States sloop of war _Albany_ was ordered
on her last cruise to Carthagena and Aspinwall, etc.; also of the orders
given by such officer to Commander Gerry to proceed upon such cruise,
and also of any reports or letters from the captain of the _Albany_ on
the necessity of repairs to said vessel."

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

WASHINGTON, _February 27, 1855_.

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

I transmit to Congress herewith a communication of this date from the
Secretary of the Interior, and recommend that the appropriation[46]
therein asked for be made.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

[Footnote 46: For surveying public lands in the northern part of
Minnesota Territory acquired from the Chippewa Indians.]

WASHINGTON, _February 27, 1855_.

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

I communicate herewith, for the consideration of Congress, a letter of
this date from the Secretary of the Interior, and accompanying paper,
recommending certain appropriations[47] on account of the Indian service.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

[Footnote 47: For running the boundary line between the Chickasaw and
Choctaw nations of Indians and for negotiations with the Menominee
Indians.]

WASHINGTON, _February 27, 1855_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I communicate to the Senate herewith, for its constitutional action
thereon, a treaty made in this city on the 22d instant between the
United States and the Mississippi, the Pillager, and the Lake
Winnibigoshish bands of Chippewa Indians.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

WASHINGTON, _February 28, 1855_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

For eminent services in the late war with Mexico, I nominate
Major-General Winfield Scott, of the Army of the United States, to be
lieutenant-general by brevet in the same, to take rank as such from
March 29, 1847, the day on which the United States forces under his
command captured Vera Cruz and the castle of San Juan de Ulua.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

WASHINGTON, _February 28, 1855_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I communicate to the Senate herewith, for its constitutional action
thereon, a treaty made and concluded in this city on the 27th day of
February, 1855, between George W. Manypenny, commissioner on the part of
the United States, and the chiefs and delegates of the Winnebago tribe
of Indians.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

WASHINGTON, _March 1, 1855_.

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

I communicate to Congress herewith a copy of an act of the legislature
of the State of Texas, approved the 11th of February, 1854, making
partial provision for running and marking the boundary line between the
said State and the territories of the United States from the point where
the said line leaves the Red River to its intersection with the Rio
Grande, and appropriating $10,000 toward carrying the same into effect,
when the United States shall have made provision by the enactment of
a law for the appointment of the necessary officers to join in the
execution of said survey.

It will be perceived from the accompanying papers that the early
demarcation of said boundary line is urgently desired on the part of
Texas, and, acquiescing in the importance thereof, I recommend that
provision be made by law for the appointment of officers to act in
conjunction with those to be appointed by the State of Texas, and that
the sum of $10,000 at least be appropriated for the payment of their
salaries and necessary incidental expenses.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

WASHINGTON, _March 2, 1855_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I communicate to the Senate herewith, for its constitutional action
thereon, the articles of a treaty negotiated on the 4th of January,
1855, between Joel Palmer, superintendent of Indian affairs in Oregon,
and the chiefs of certain confederated tribes of Indians residing in the
Willamette Valley of Oregon.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

EXECUTIVE MANSION, _March 2, 1855_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I herewith submit a report of the Secretary of War, containing all the
information that can now be furnished in reply to the resolution of the
Senate of the 28th ultimo, requesting "a statement of the number of
muskets, rifles, and other arms and equipments delivered to the State
arsenals, respectively, the number remaining on hand, and the number
sold and accounted for; also, the date and amount of such sales."

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

WASHINGTON, _March 2, 1855_.

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

I transmit to Congress herewith a communication of this date from the
Secretary of the Interior, with accompanying papers,[48] and recommend
that the appropriations therein asked for be made.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

[Footnote 48: Estimates of appropriations necessary for carrying out the
bounty-land law.]

WASHINGTON, _March 2, 1855_.

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

I transmit to Congress herewith a communication of this date from the
Secretary of the Interior, with its inclosure,[49] and recommend that the
appropriations therein asked for be made.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

[Footnote 49: Additional estimate of appropriations necessary for pay of
Indian agents.]

WASHINGTON, _March 3, 1855_.

_To the House of Representatives_:

I transmit herewith to the House of Representatives a report from the
Secretary of State, with accompanying documents,[50] in answer to their
resolutions of the 30th of January and 23d February last.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

[Footnote 50: Correspondence relative to the causes disturbing the
friendly relations between Spain and the United States and instructions
to United States diplomatic agents relative to the same; correspondence
relative to Cuba, etc.]

VETO MESSAGES.

WASHINGTON, _February 17, 1855_.

_To the House of Representatives_:

I have received and carefully considered the bill entitled "An act
to provide for the ascertainment of claims of American citizens for
spoliations committed by the French prior to the 31st of July, 1801,"
and in the discharge of a duty imperatively enjoined on me by the
Constitution I return the same with my objections to the House of
Representatives, in which it originated.

In the organization of the Government of the United States the
legislative and executive functions were separated and placed in
distinct hands. Although the President is required from time to time
to recommend to the consideration of Congress such measures as he shall
judge necessary and expedient, his participation in the formal business
of legislation is limited to the single duty, in a certain contingency,
of demanding for a bill a particular form of vote prescribed by the
Constitution before it can become a law. He is not invested with power
to defeat legislation by an absolute veto, but only to restrain it, and
is charged with the duty, in case he disapproves a measure, of invoking
a second and a more deliberate and solemn consideration of it on the
part of Congress. It is not incumbent on the President to sign a bill
as a matter of course, and thus merely to authenticate the action of
Congress, for he must exercise intelligent judgment or be faithless to
the trust reposed in him. If he approve a bill, he shall sign it, but
if not he shall return it with his objections to that House in which
it shall have originated for such further action as the Constitution
demands, which is its enactment, if at all, not by a bare numerical
majority, as in the first instance, but by a constitutional majority
of two-thirds of both Houses.

While the Constitution thus confers on the legislative bodies the
complete power of legislation in all cases, it proceeds, in the spirit
of justice, to provide for the protection of the responsibility of the
President. It does not compel him to affix the signature of approval to
any bill unless it actually have his approbation; for while it requires
him to sign if he approve, it, in my judgment, imposes upon him the duty
of withholding his signature if he do not approve. In the execution of
his official duty in this respect he is not to perform a mere mechanical
part, but is to decide and act according to conscientious convictions of
the rightfulness or wrongfulness of the proposed law. In a matter as to
which he is doubtful in his own mind he may well defer to the majority
of the two Houses. Individual members of the respective Houses, owing to
the nature, variety, and amount of business pending, must necessarily
rely for their guidance in many, perhaps most, cases, when the matters
involved are not of popular interest, upon the investigation of
appropriate committees, or, it may be, that of a single member, whose
attention has been particularly directed to the subject. For similar
reasons, but even to a greater extent, from the number and variety of
subjects daily urged upon his attention, the President naturally relies
much upon the investigation had and the results arrived at by the two
Houses, and hence those results, in large classes of cases, constitute
the basis upon which his approval rests. The President's responsibility
is to the whole people of the United States, as that of a Senator is to
the people of a particular State, that of a Representative to the people
of a State or district; and it may be safely assumed that he will not
resort to the clearly defined and limited power of arresting legislation
and calling for reconsideration of any measure except in obedience
to requirements of duty. When, however, he entertains a decisive and
fixed conclusion, not merely of the unconstitutionality, but of the
impropriety, or injustice in other respects, of any measure, if he
declare that he approves it he is false to his oath, and he deliberately
disregards his constitutional obligations.

I cheerfully recognize the weight of authority which attaches to the
action of a majority of the two Houses. But in this case, as in some
others, the framers of our Constitution, for wise considerations of
public good, provided that nothing less than a two-thirds vote of one
or both of the Houses of Congress shall become effective to bind the
coordinate departments of the Government, the people, and the several
States. If there be anything of seeming invidiousness in the official
right thus conferred on the President, it is in appearance only, for the
same right of approving or disapproving a bill, according to each one's
own judgment, is conferred on every member of the Senate and of the
House of Representatives.

It is apparent, therefore, that the circumstances must be extraordinary
which would induce the President to withhold approval from a bill
involving no violation of the Constitution. The amount of the claims
proposed to be discharged by the bill before me, the nature of the
transactions in which those claims are alleged to have originated,
the length of time during which they have occupied the attention of
Congress and the country, present such an exigency. Their history
renders it impossible that a President who has participated to any
considerable degree in public affairs could have failed to form
respecting them a decided opinion upon what he would deem satisfactory
grounds. Nevertheless, instead of resting on former opinions, it has
seemed to me proper to review and more carefully examine the whole
subject, so as satisfactorily to determine the nature and extent of my
obligations in the premises.

I feel called upon at the threshold to notice an assertion, often
repeated, that the refusal of the United States to satisfy these claims
in the manner provided by the present bill rests as a stain on the
justice of our country. If it be so, the imputation on the public honor
is aggravated by the consideration that the claims are coeval with the
present century, and it has been a persistent wrong during that whole
period of time. The allegation is that private property has been taken
for public use without just compensation, in violation of express
provision of the Constitution, and that reparation has been withheld
and justice denied until the injured parties have for the most part
descended to the grave. But it is not to be forgotten or overlooked that
those who represented the people in different capacities at the time
when the alleged obligations were incurred, and to whom the charge of
injustice attaches in the first instance, have also passed away and
borne with them the special information which controlled their decision
and, it may be well presumed, constituted the justification of their
acts.

If, however, the charge in question be well founded, although its
admission would inscribe on our history a page which we might desire
most of all to obliterate, and although, if true, it must painfully
disturb our confidence in the justice and the high sense of moral and
political responsibility of those whose memories we have been taught
to cherish with so much reverence and respect, still we have only one
course of action left to us, and that is to make the most prompt and
ample reparation in our power and consign the wrong as far as may be
to forgetfulness.

But no such heavy sentence of condemnation should be lightly passed upon
the sagacious and patriotic men who participated in the transactions out
of which these claims are supposed to have arisen, and who, from their
ample means of knowledge of the general subject in its minute details
and from their official position, are peculiarly responsible for
whatever there is of wrong or injustice in the decisions of the
Government.

Their justification consists in that which constitutes the objection to
the present bill, namely, the absence of any indebtedness on the part
of the United States. The charge of denial of justice in this case, and
consequent stain upon our national character, has not yet been indorsed
by the American people. But if it were otherwise, this bill, so far from
relieving the past, would only stamp on the present a more deep and
indelible stigma. It admits the justice of the claims, concedes that
payment has been wrongfully withheld for fifty years, and then proposes
not to pay them, but to compound with the public creditors by providing
that, whether the claims shall be presented or not, whether the sum
appropriated shall pay much or little of what shall be found due, the
law itself shall constitute a perpetual bar to all future demands. This
is not, in my judgment, the way to atone for wrongs if they exist, nor
to meet subsisting obligations.

If new facts, not known or not accessible during the Administration of
Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Madison, or Mr. Monroe, had since been brought to
light, or new sources of information discovered, this would greatly
relieve the subject of embarrassment. But nothing of this nature has
occurred.

That those eminent statesmen had the best means of arriving at a correct
conclusion no one will deny. That they never recognized the alleged
obligation on the part of the Government is shown by the history of
their respective Administrations. Indeed, it stands not as a matter of
controlling authority, but as a fact of history, that these claims have
never since our existence as a nation been deemed by any President
worthy of recommendation to Congress.

Claims to payment can rest only on the plea of indebtedness on the part
of the Government. This requires that it should be shown that the United
States have incurred liability to the claimants, either by such acts as
deprived them of their property or by having actually taken it for
public use without making just compensation for it.

The first branch of the proposition--that on which an equitable claim
to be indemnified by the United States for losses sustained might
rest--requires at least a cursory examination of the history of the
transactions on which the claims depend. The first link which in the
chain of events arrests attention is the treaties of alliance and of
amity and commerce between the United States and France negotiated in
1778. By those treaties peculiar privileges were secured to the armed
vessels of each of the contracting parties in the ports of the other,
the freedom of trade was greatly enlarged, and mutual obligations were
incurred by each to guarantee to the other their territorial possessions
in America.

In 1792-93, when war broke out between France and Great Britain, the
former claimed privileges in American ports which our Government did
not admit as deducible from the treaties of 1778, and which it was held
were in conflict with obligations to the other belligerent powers. The
liberal principle of one of the treaties referred to--that free ships
make free goods, and that subsistence and supplies were not contraband
of war unless destined to a blockaded port--was found, in a commercial
view, to operate disadvantageously to France as compared with her enemy,
Great Britain, the latter asserting, under the law of nations, the right
to capture as contraband supplies when bound for an enemy's port.

Induced mainly, it is believed, by these considerations, the Government
of France decreed on the 9th of May, 1793, the first year of the war,
that "the French people are no longer permitted to fulfill toward the
neutral powers in general the vows they have so often manifested, and
which they constantly make for the full and entire liberty of commerce
and navigation," and, as a counter measure to the course of Great
Britain, authorized the seizure of neutral vessels bound to an enemy's
port in like manner as that was done by her great maritime rival.
This decree was made to act retrospectively, and to continue until the
enemies of France should desist from depredations on the neutral vessels
bound to the ports of France. Then followed the embargo, by which our
vessels were detained in Bordeaux; the seizure of British goods on
board of our ships, and of the property of American citizens under the
pretense that it belonged to English subjects, and the imprisonment of
American citizens captured on the high seas.

Against these infractions of existing treaties and violations of our
rights as a neutral power we complained and remonstrated. For the
property of our injured citizens we demanded that due compensation
should be made, and from 1793 to 1797 used every means, ordinary and
extraordinary, to obtain redress by negotiation. In the last-mentioned
year these efforts were met by a refusal to receive a minister sent
by our Government with special instructions to represent the amicable
disposition of the Government and people of the United States and their
desire to remove jealousies and to restore confidence by showing that
the complaints against them were groundless. Failing in this, another
attempt to adjust all differences between the two Republics was made in
the form of an extraordinary mission, composed of three distinguished
citizens, but the refusal to receive was offensively repeated, and thus
terminated this last effort to preserve peace and restore kind relations
with our early friend and ally, to whom a debt of gratitude was due
which the American people have never been willing to depreciate or to
forget. Years of negotiation had not only failed to secure indemnity
for our citizens and exemption from further depredation, but these
long-continued efforts had brought upon the Government the suspension
of diplomatic intercourse with France and such indignities as to induce
President Adams, in his message of May 16, 1797, to Congress, convened
in special session, to present it as the particular matter for their
consideration and to speak of it in terms of the highest indignation.
Thenceforward the action of our Government assumed a character which
clearly indicates that hope was no longer entertained from the amicable
feeling or justice of the Government of France, and hence the subsequent
measures were those of force.

On the 28th of May, 1798, an act was passed for the employment of the
Navy of the United States against "armed vessels of the Republic of
France," and authorized their capture if "found hovering on the coast
of the United States for the purpose of committing depredations on the
vessels belonging to the citizens thereof;" on the 18th of June, 1798,
an act was passed prohibiting commercial intercourse with France under
the penalty of the forfeiture of the vessels so employed; on the 25th
of June, the same year, an act to arm the merchant marine to oppose
searches, capture aggressors, and recapture American vessels taken by
the French; on the 28th of June, same year, an act for the condemnation
and sale of French vessels captured by authority of the act of 28th of
May preceding; on the 27th of July, same year, an act abrogating the
treaties and the convention which had been concluded between the United
States and France, and declaring "that the same shall not henceforth
be regarded as legally obligatory on the Government or citizens of the
United States;" on the 9th of the same month an act was passed which
enlarged the limits of the hostilities then existing by authorizing our
public vessels to capture armed vessels of France wherever found upon
the high seas, and conferred power on the President to issue commissions
to private armed vessels to engage in like service.

These acts, though short of a declaration of war, which would put ail
the citizens of each country in hostility with those of the other, were,
nevertheless, actual war, partial in its application, maritime in its
character, but which required the expenditure of much of our public
treasure and much of the blood of our patriotic citizens, who, in
vessels but little suited to the purposes of war, went forth to battle
on the high seas for the rights and security of their fellow-citizens
and to repel indignities offered to the national honor.

It is not, then, because of any failure to use all available means,
diplomatic and military, to obtain reparation that liability for private
claims can have been incurred by the United States, and if there is any
pretense for such liability it must flow from the action, not from the
neglect, of the United States. The first complaint on the part of France
was against the proclamation of President Washington of April 22, 1793.
At that early period in the war which involved Austria, Prussia,
Sardinia, the United Netherlands, and Great Britain on the one part and
France on the other, the great and wise man who was the Chief Executive,
as he was and had been the guardian of our then infant Republic,
proclaimed that "the duty and interest of the United States require that
they should with sincerity and good faith adopt and pursue a conduct
friendly and impartial toward the belligerent powers." This attitude of
neutrality, it was pretended, was in disregard of the obligations of
alliance between the United States and France. And this, together with
the often-renewed complaint that the stipulations of the treaties of
1778 had not been observed and executed by the United States, formed the
pretext for the series of outrages upon our Government and its citizens
which finally drove us to seek redress and safety by an appeal to force.
The treaties of 1778, so long the subject of French complaints, are now
understood to be the foundation upon which are laid these claims of
indemnity from the United States for spoliations committed by the French
prior to 1800. The act of our Government which abrogated not only the
treaties of 1778, but also the subsequent consular convention of 1788,
has already been referred to, and it may be well here to inquire what
the course of France was in relation thereto. By the decrees of 9th of
May, 1793, 7th of July, 1796, and 2d of March, 1797, the stipulations
which were then and subsequently most important to the United States
were rendered wholly inoperative. The highly injurious effects which
these decrees are known to have produced show how vital were the
provisions of treaty which they violated, and make manifest the
incontrovertible right of the United States to declare, as the
consequence of these acts of the other contracting party, the treaties
at an end.

The next step in this inquiry is whether the act declaring the treaties
null and void was ever repealed, or whether by any other means the
treaties were ever revived so as to be either the subject or the source
of national obligation. The war which has been described was terminated
by the treaty of Paris of 1800, and to that instrument it is necessary
to turn to find how much of preexisting obligations between the two
Governments outlived the hostilities in which they had been engaged.
By the second article of the treaty of 1800 it was declared that the
ministers plenipotentiary of the two parties not being able to agree
respecting the treaties of alliance, amity, and commerce of 1778 and the
convention of 1788, nor upon the indemnities mutually due or claimed,
the parties will negotiate further on these subjects at a convenient
time; and until they shall have agreed upon these points the said
treaties and convention shall have no operation.

When the treaty was submitted to the Senate of the United States, the
second article was disagreed to and the treaty amended by striking it
out and inserting a provision that the convention then made should
continue in force eight years from the date of ratification, which
convention, thus amended, was accepted by the First Consul of France,
with the addition of a note explanatory of his construction of the
convention, to the effect that by the retrenchment of the second article
the two States renounce the respective pretensions which were the object
of the said article.

It will be perceived by the language of the second article, as
originally framed by the negotiators, that they had found themselves
unable to adjust the controversies on which years of diplomacy and of
hostilities had been expended, and that they were at last compelled to
postpone the discussion of those questions to that most indefinite
period, a "convenient time." All, then, of these subjects which was
revived by the convention was the right to renew, when it should be
convenient to the parties, a discussion which had already exhausted
negotiation, involved the two countries in a maritime war, and on which
the parties had approached no nearer to concurrence than they were when
the controversy began.

The obligations of the treaties of 1778 and the convention of 1788 were
mutual, and estimated to be equal. But however onerous they may have
been to the United States, they had been abrogated, and were not revived
by the convention of 1800, but expressly spoken of as suspended until an
event which could only occur by the pleasure of the United States. It
seems clear, then, that the United States were relieved of no obligation
to France by the retrenchment of the second article of the convention,
and if thereby France was relieved of any valid claims against her the
United States received no consideration in return, and that if private
property was taken by the United States from their own citizens it was
not for public use. But it is here proper to inquire whether the United
States did relieve France from valid claims against her on the part of
citizens of the United States, and did thus deprive them of their
property.

The complaints and counter complaints of the two Governments had been
that treaties were violated and that both public and individual rights
and interests had been sacrificed. The correspondence of our ministers
engaged in negotiations, both before and after the convention of 1800,
sufficiently proves how hopeless was the effort to obtain full indemnity
from France for injuries inflicted on our commerce from 1793 to 1800,
unless it should be by an account in which the rival pretensions of the
two Governments should each be acknowledged and the balance struck
between them.

It is supposable, and may be inferred from the contemporaneous history
as probable, that had the United States agreed in 1800 to revive the
treaties of 1778 and 1788 with the construction which France had placed
upon them, that the latter Government would, on the other hand, have
agreed to make indemnity for those spoliations which were committed
under the pretext that the United States were faithless to the
obligations of the alliance between the two countries.

Hence the conclusion that the United States did not sacrifice private
rights or property to get rid of public obligations, but only refused to
reassume public obligations for the purpose of obtaining the recognition
of the claims of American citizens on the part of France.

All those claims which the French Government was willing to admit were
carefully provided for elsewhere in the convention, and the declaration
of the First Consul, which was appended in his additional note, had no
other application than to the claims which had been mutually made by the
Governments, but on which they had never approximated to an adjustment.
In confirmation of the fact that our Government did not intend to cease
from the prosecution of the just claims of our citizens against France,
reference is here made to the annual message of President Jefferson of
December 8, 1801, which opens with expressions of his gratification at
the restoration of peace among sister nations; and, after speaking of
the assurances received from all nations with whom we had principal
relations and of the confidence thus inspired that our peace with them
would not have been disturbed if they had continued at war with each
other, he proceeds to say:

But a cessation of irregularities which had affected the commerce of
neutral nations, and of the irritations and injuries produced by them,
can not but add to this confidence, and strengthens at the same time the
hope that wrongs committed on unoffending friends under a pressure of
circumstances will now be reviewed with candor, and will be considered
as founding just claims of retribution for the past and new assurance
for the future.

The zeal and diligence with which the claims of our citizens against
France were prosecuted appear in the diplomatic correspondence of the
three years next succeeding the convention of 1800, and the effect of
these efforts is made manifest in the convention of 1803, in which
provision was made for payment of a class of cases the consideration of
which France had at all previous periods refused to entertain, and which
are of that very class which it has been often assumed were released by
striking out the second article of the convention of 1800. This is shown
by reference to the preamble and to the fourth and fifth articles of the
convention of 1803, by which were admitted among the debts due by France
to citizens of the United States the amounts chargeable for "prizes made
at sea in which the appeal has been properly lodged within the time
mentioned in the said convention of the 30th of September, 1800;" and
this class was further defined to be only "captures of which the council
of prizes shall have ordered restitution, it being well understood that
the claimant can not have recourse to the United States otherwise than
he might have had to the French Republic, and only in case of the
insufficiency of the captors."

If, as was affirmed on all hands, the convention of 1803 was intended
to close all questions between the Governments of France and the United
States, and 20,000,000 francs were set apart as a sum which might
exceed, but could not fall short of, the debts due by France to the
citizens of the United States, how are we to reconcile the claim now
presented with the estimates made by those who were of the time and
immediately connected with the events, and whose intelligence and
integrity have in no small degree contributed to the character and
prosperity of the country in which we live? Is it rational to assume
that the claimants who now present themselves for indemnity by the
United States represent debts which would have been admitted and paid by
France but for the intervention of the United States? And is it possible
to escape from the effect of the voluminous evidence tending to
establish the fact that France resisted all these claims; that it was
only after long and skillful negotiation that the agents of the United
States obtained the recognition of such of the claims as were provided
for in the conventions of 1800 and 1803? And is it not conclusive
against any pretensions of possible success on the part of the
claimants, if left unaided to make their applications to France, that
the only debts due to American citizens which have been paid by France
are those which were assumed by the United States as part of the
consideration in the purchase of Louisiana?

There is little which is creditable either to the judgment or patriotism
of those of our fellow-citizens who at this day arraign the justice,
the fidelity, or love of country of the men who founded the Republic in
representing them as having bartered away the property of individuals to
escape from public obligations, and then to have withheld from them just
compensation. It has been gratifying to me in tracing the history of
these claims to find that ample evidence exists to refute an accusation
which would impeach the purity, the justice, and the magnanimity of the
illustrious men who guided and controlled the early destinies of the
Republic.

I pass from this review of the history of the subject, and, omitting
many substantial objections to these claims, proceed to examine somewhat
more closely the only grounds upon which they can by possibility be
maintained.

Before entering on this it may be proper to state distinctly certain
propositions which it is admitted on all hands are essential to prove
the obligations of the Government.

First. That at the date of the treaty of September 30, 1800, these
claims were valid and subsisting as against France.

Second. That they were released or extinguished by the United States in
that treaty and by the manner of its ratification.

Third. That they were so released or extinguished for a consideration
valuable to the Government, but in which the claimants had no more
interest than any other citizens.

The convention between the French Republic and the United States of
America signed at Paris on the 30th day of September, 1800, purports
in the preamble to be founded on the equal desire of the First Consul
(Napoleon Bonaparte) and the President of the United States to terminate
the differences which have arisen between the two States. It declares,
in the first place, that there shall be firm, inviolable, and universal
peace and a true and sincere friendship between the French Republic and
the United States. Next it proceeds, in the second, third, fourth, and
fifth articles, to make provision in sundry respects, having reference
to past differences and the transition from the state of war between the
two countries to that of general and permanent peace. Finally, in the
residue of the twenty-seventh article, it stipulates anew the conditions
of amity and intercourse, commercial and political, thereafter to exist,
and, of course, to be substituted in place of the previous conditions of
the treaties of alliance and of commerce and the consular convention,
which are thus tacitly but unequivocally recognized as no longer in
force, but in effect abrogated, either by the state of war or by the
political action of the two Republics.

Except in so far as the whole convention goes to establish the fact that
the previous treaties were admitted on both sides to be at an end, none
of the articles are directly material to the present question save the
following:

ART. II. The ministers plenipotentiary of the two parties not being able
to agree at present respecting the treaty of alliance of 6th February,
1778, the treaty of amity and commerce of the same date, and the
convention of 14th of November, 1788, nor upon the indemnities mutually
due or claimed, the parties will negotiate further on these subjects at
a convenient time; and until they may have agreed upon these points the
said treaties and convention shall have no operation, and the relations
of the two countries shall be regulated as follows:

* * * * *

ART. V. The debts contracted by one of the two nations with individuals
of the other, or by the individuals of one with the individuals of the
other, shall be paid, or the payment may be prosecuted, in the same
manner as if there had been no misunderstanding between the two States.
But this clause shall not extend to indemnities claimed on account of
captures or confiscations.

On this convention being submitted to the Senate of the United States,
they consented and advised to its ratification with the following
proviso:

_Provided_, That the second article be expunged, and that the following
article be added or inserted: It is agreed that the present convention
shall be in force for the term of eight years from the time of the
exchange of ratifications.

The spirit and purpose of this change are apparent and unmistakable.
The convention as signed by the respective plenipotentiaries did not
adjust all the points of controversy. Both nations, however, desired the
restoration of peace. Accordingly, as to those matters in the relations
of the two countries concerning which they could agree, they did agree
for the time being; and as to the rest, concerning which they could not
agree, they suspended and postponed further negotiation.

They abandoned no pretensions, they relinquished no right on either
side, but simply adjourned the question until "a convenient time."
Meanwhile, and until the arrival of such convenient time, the relations
of the two countries were to be regulated by the stipulations of the
convention.

Of course the convention was on its face a temporary and provisional
one, but in the worst possible form of prospective termination. It was
to cease at a convenient time. But how should that convenient time be
ascertained? It is plain that such a stipulation, while professedly not
disposing of the present controversy, had within itself the germ of a
fresh one, for the two Governments might at any moment fall into dispute
on the question whether that convenient time had or had not arrived.
The Senate of the United States anticipated and prevented this question
by the only possible expedient; that is, the designation of a precise
date. This being done, the remaining parts of the second article became
superfluous and useless, for as all the provisions of the convention
would expire in eight years, it would necessarily follow that
negotiations must be renewed within that period, more especially as the
operation of the amendment which covered the whole convention was that
even the stipulation of peace in the first article became temporary and
expired in eight years, whereas that article, and that article alone,
was permanent according to the original tenor of the convention.

The convention thus amended, being submitted to the First Consul, was
ratified by him, his act of acceptance being accompanied with the
following declaratory note:

The Government of the United States having added in its ratification
that the convention should be in force for the space of eight years, and
having omitted the second article, the Government of the French Republic
consents to accept, ratify, and confirm the above convention with the
addition importing that the convention shall be in force for the space
of eight years and with the retrenchment of the second article:
_Provided_, That by this retrenchment the two States renounce the
respective pretensions which are the object of the said article.

The convention, as thus ratified by the First Consul, having been again
submitted to the Senate of the United States, that body resolved that
"they considered the convention as fully ratified," and returned the
same to the President for promulgation, and it was accordingly
promulgated in the usual form by President Jefferson.

Now it is clear that in simply resolving that "they considered the
convention as fully ratified" the Senate did in fact abstain from any
express declaration of dissent or assent to the construction put by the
First Consul on the retrenchment of the second article. If any inference
beyond this can be drawn from their resolution, it is that they regarded
the proviso annexed by the First Consul to his declaration of acceptance
as foreign to the subject, as nugatory, or as without consequence or
effect. Notwithstanding this proviso, they considered the ratification
as full. If the new proviso made any change in the previous import of
the convention, then it was not full; and in considering it a full
ratification they in substance deny that the proviso did in any respect
change the tenor of the convention.

By the second article, as it originally stood, neither Republic had
relinquished its existing rights or pretensions, either as to other
previous treaties or the indemnities mutually due or claimed, but
only deferred the consideration of them to a convenient time. By the
amendment of the Senate of the United States that convenient time,
instead of being left indefinite, was fixed at eight years; but no
right or pretension of either party was surrendered or abandoned.

If the Senate erred in assuming that the proviso added by the First
Consul did not affect the question, then the transaction would amount
to nothing more than to have raised a new question, to be disposed of
on resuming the negotiations, namely, the question whether the proviso
of the First Consul did or not modify or impair the effect of the
convention as it had been ratified by the Senate.

That such, and such only, was the true meaning and effect of the
transaction; that it was not, and was not intended to be, a
relinquishment by the United States of any existing claim on France, and
especially that it was not an abandonment of any claims of individual
citizens, nor the set off of these against any conceded national
obligations to France, is shown by the fact that President Jefferson did
at once resume and prosecute to successful conclusion negotiations to
obtain from France indemnification for the claims of citizens of the
United States existing at the date of that convention; for on the 30th
of April, 1803, three treaties were concluded at Paris between the
United States of America and the French Republic, one of which embraced
the cession of Louisiana; another stipulated for the payment of
60,000,000 francs by the United States to France; and a third provided
that, for the satisfaction of sums due by France to citizens of the
United States at the conclusion of the convention of September 30, 1800,
and in express compliance with the second and fifth articles thereof,
a further sum of 20,000,000 francs should be appropriated and paid by
the United States. In the preamble to the first of these treaties, which
ceded Louisiana, it is set forth that--

The President of the United States of America and the First Consul of
the French Republic, in the name of the French people, desiring to
remove all source of misunderstanding relative to objects of discussion
mentioned in the second and fifth articles of the convention of the 8th
Vendemiaire, an 9 (30th September, 1800), relative to the rights claimed
by the United States in virtue of the treaty concluded at Madrid the
27th of October, 1795, between His Catholic Majesty and the said United
States, and willing to strengthen the union and friendship which at the
time of the said convention was happily reestablished between the two
nations, have respectively named their plenipotentiaries, ... who ...
have agreed to the following articles.

Here is the most distinct and categorical declaration of the two
Governments that the matters of claim in the second article of the
convention of 1800 had not been ceded away, relinquished, or set off,
but they were still subsisting subjects of demand against France. The
same declaration appears in equally emphatic language in the third of
these treaties, bearing the same date, the preamble of which recites
that--

The President of the United States of America and the First Consul of
the French Republic, in the name of the French people, having by a
treaty of this date terminated all difficulties relative to Louisiana
and established on a solid foundation the friendship which unites the
two nations, and being desirous, in compliance with the second and fifth
articles of the convention of the 8th Vendemiaire, ninth year of the
French Republic (30th September, 1800), to secure the payment of the
sums due by France to the citizens of the United States, have appointed
plenipotentiaries--

who agreed to the following among other articles:

ART. I. The debts due by France to citizens of the United States,
contracted before the 8th of Vendemiaire, ninth year of the French
Republic (30th September, 1800), shall be paid according to the
following regulations, with interest at 6 per cent, to commence from
the periods when the accounts and vouchers were presented to the
French Government.

ART. II. The debts provided for by the preceding article are those whose
result is comprised in the conjectural note annexed to the present
convention, and which, with the interest, can not exceed the sum of
20,000,000 francs. The claims comprised in the said note which fall
within the exceptions of the following articles shall not be admitted
to the benefit of this provision.

* * * * *

ART. IV. It is expressly agreed that the preceding articles shall
comprehend no debts but such as are due to citizens of the United States
who have been and are yet creditors of France for supplies, for
embargoes, and prizes made at sea in which the appeal has been properly
lodged within the time mentioned in the said convention, 8th
Vendemiaire, ninth year (30th September, 1800).

ART. V. The preceding articles shall apply only, first, to captures of
which the council of prizes shall have ordered restitution, it being
well understood that the claimant can not have recourse to the United
States otherwise than he might have had to the Government of the French
Republic, and only in case of insufficiency of the captors; second, the
debts mentioned in the said fifth article of the convention, contracted
before the 8th Vendemiaire, an 9 (30th September, 1800), the payment of
which has been heretofore claimed of the actual Government of France
and for which the creditors have a right to the protection of the
United States; the said fifth article does not comprehend prizes whose
condemnation has been or shall be confirmed. It is the express intention
of the contracting parties not to extend the benefit of the present
convention to reclamations of American citizens who shall have
established houses of commerce in France, England, or other countries
than the United States, in partnership with foreigners, and who by
that reason and the nature of their commerce ought to be regarded as
domiciliated in the places where such houses exist. All agreements and
bargains concerning merchandise which shall not be the property of
American citizens are equally excepted from the benefit of the said
convention, saving, however, to such persons their claims in like manner
as if this treaty had not been made.

* * * * *

ART. XII. In case of claims for debts contracted by the Government of
France with citizens of the United States since the 8th Vendemiaire,
ninth year (30th September, 1800), not being comprised in this
convention, may be pursued, and the payment demanded in the same manner
as if it had not been made.

Other articles of the treaty provide for the appointment of agents to
liquidate the claims intended to be secured, and for the payment of them
as allowed at the Treasury of the United States. The following is the
concluding clause of the tenth article:

The rejection of any claim shall have no other effect than to exempt
the United States from the payment of it, the French Government
reserving to itself the right to decide definitively on such claim so
far as it concerns itself.

Now, from the provisions of the treaties thus collated the following
deductions undeniably follow, namely:

First. Neither the second article of the convention of 1800, as it
originally stood, nor the retrenchment of that article, nor the proviso
in the ratification by the First Consul, nor the action of the Senate of
the United States thereon, was regarded by either France or the United
States as the renouncement of any claims of American citizens against
France.

Second. On the contrary, in the treaties of 1803 the two Governments
took up the question precisely where it was left on the day of the
signature of that of 1800, without suggestion on the part of France that
the claims of our citizens were excluded by the retrenchment of the
second article or the note of the First Consul, and proceeded to make
ample provision for such as France could be induced to admit were justly
due, and they were accordingly discharged in full, with interest, by the
United States in the stead and behalf of France.

Third. The United States, not having admitted in the convention of
1800 that they were under any obligations to France by reason of the
abrogation of the treaties of 1778 and 1788, persevered in this view of
the question by the tenor of the treaties of 1803, and therefore had no
such national obligation to discharge, and did not, either in purpose
or in fact, at any time undertake to discharge themselves from any such
obligation at the expense and with the property of individual citizens
of the United States.

Fourth. By the treaties of 1803 the United States obtained from France
the acknowledgment and payment, as part of the indemnity for the cession
of Louisiana, of claims of citizens of the United States for spoliations,
so far as France would admit her liability in the premises; but even then
the United States did not relinquish any claim of American citizens not
provided for by those treaties; so far from it, to the honor of France be
it remembered, she expressly reserved to herself the right to reconsider
any rejected claims of citizens of the United States.

Fifth. As to claims of citizens of the United States against France,
which had been the subject of controversy between the two countries
prior to the signature of the convention of 1800, and the further
consideration of which was reserved for a more convenient time by the
second article of that convention, for these claims, and these only,
provision was made in the treaties of 1803, all other claims being
expressly excluded by them from their scope and purview.

It is not to be overlooked, though not necessary to the conclusion,
that by the convention between France and the United States of the
4th of July, 1831, complete provision was made for the liquidation,
discharge, and payment on both sides of all claims of citizens of either
against the other for unlawful seizures, captures, sequestrations, or
destructions of the vessels, cargoes, or other property, without any
limitation of time, so as in terms to run back to the date of the
last preceding settlement, at least to that of 1803, if not to the
commencement of our national relations with France.

This review of the successive treaties between France and the United
States has brought my mind to the undoubting conviction that while
the United States have in the most ample and the completest manner
discharged their duty toward such of their citizens as may have been at
any time aggrieved by acts of the French Government, so also France has
honorably discharged herself of all obligations in the premises toward
the United States. To concede what this bill assumes would be to impute
undeserved reproach both to France and to the United States.

I am, of course, aware that the bill proposes only to provide
indemnification for such valid claims of citizens of the United States
against France as shall not have been stipulated for and embraced in
any of the treaties enumerated. But in excluding all such claims it
excludes all, in fact, for which, during the negotiations, France could
be persuaded to agree that she was in any wise liable to the United
States or our citizens. What remains? And for what is five millions
appropriated? In view of what has been said there would seem to be no
ground on which to raise a liability of the United States, unless it be
the assumption that the United States are to be considered the insurer
and the guarantor of all claims, of whatever nature, which any
individual citizen may have against a foreign nation.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

WASHINGTON, _March 3_, [_1855_.]

_To the House of Representatives_:

I return herewith to the House of Representatives, in which it
originated, the bill entitled "An act making appropriations for
the transportation of the United States mail, by ocean steamers and
otherwise, during the fiscal years ending the 30th of June, 1855, and
the 30th of June, 1856," with a brief statement of the reasons which
prevent its receiving my approval. The bill provides, among other
things, that--

The following sums be, and the same are hereby, appropriated, to be
paid out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, for
the year ending the 30th of June, 1856:

For transportation of the mails from New York to Liverpool and back,
$858,000; and that the proviso contained in the first section of the
act entitled "An act to supply deficiencies in the appropriations for
the service of the fiscal year ending the 30th of June, 1852," approved
the 21st of July, 1852, be, and the same is hereby, repealed:
_Provided_, That Edward K. Collins and his associates shall proceed
with all due diligence to build another steamship, in accordance with
the terms of their contract, and have the same ready for the mail
service in two years from and after the passage of this act; and if the
said steamship is not ready within the time above mentioned, by reason
of any neglect or want of diligence on their part, then the said Edward
K. Collins and his associates shall carry the United States mails
between New York and Liverpool from the expiration of the said two
years, every fortnight, free of any charge to the Government, until the
new steamship shall have commenced the said mail service.

The original contract was predicated upon the proposition of E.K.
Collins of March 6, 1846, made with abundant means of knowledge as to
the advantages and disadvantages of the terms which he then submitted
for the acceptance of the Government. The proposition was in the
following terms:

WASHINGTON, _March 6, 1846_.

E.K. Collins and his associates propose to carry the United States mail
between New York and Liverpool twice each month during eight months of
the year and once a month during the other four months for the sum of
$385,000 per annum, payable quarterly. For this purpose they will agree
to build five steamships of not less than 2,000 tons measurement and of
1,000 horsepower each, which vessels shall be built for great speed and
sufficiently strong for war purposes.

Four of said vessels to be ready for service in eighteen months from
the signing of the contract. The fifth vessel to be built as early as
possibly practicable, and when not employed in the mail service to be
subject to the orders of the Government for carrying dispatches, for
which service a fair compensation is to be paid. Contract to be for
the term of ten years. It is also proposed to secure to the United
States the privilege of purchasing said steamships whenever they
may be required for public purposes, at a fair valuation, to be
ascertained by appraisers appointed by the United States and by the
owners.

EDWARD K. COLLINS.

The act of March 3, 1847, provides--

That from and immediately after the passage of this act it shall
be the duty of the Secretary of the Navy to accept, on the part of
the Government of the United States, the proposals of E.K. Collins
and his associates, of the city of New York, submitted to the
Postmaster-General, and dated at Washington, March 6, 1846, for
the transportation of the United States mail between New York and
Liverpool, and to contract with the said E.K. Collins and his
associates for the faithful fulfillment of the stipulations therein
contained, and in accordance with the provisions of this act.

And under this proposition and enactment the original contract was
made.

According to the terms of that contract the parties were to receive from
the United States for twenty round trips each year the sum of $19,250
the trip, or $385,000 per annum; and they were to construct and provide
five ships of a stipulated size and quality for the performance of this
or other service for the Government.

Of the ships contracted for, only four have been furnished--the
_Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic_, and _Baltic_--and the present bill proposes
to dispense entirely with the original condition of a fifth ship, by
only requiring the construction of one, which would but supply the
place of the _Arctic_, recently lost by peril of the sea. Certain minor
conditions involving expense to the contractors, among which was one
for the accommodation and subsistence of a certain number of passed
midshipmen on each vessel, had previously been dispensed with on the
part of the United States.

By act of Congress of July 21, 1852, the amount of compensation to
the contractors was increased from $19,250 to $33,000 a trip and the
number of trips from twenty to twenty-six each year, making the whole
compensation $858,000 per annum. During the period of time from the
commencement of the service of these contractors, on the 27th of April,
1850, to the end of the last fiscal year, June 30, 1854, the sum paid
to them by the United States amounted to $2,620,906, without reckoning
public money advanced on loan to aid them in the construction of the
ships; while the whole amount of postages derived to the Department has
been only $734,056, showing an excess of expenditure above receipts of
$1,886,440 to the charge of the Government. In the meantime, in addition
to the payments from the Treasury, the parties have been in the
enjoyment of large receipts from the transportation of passengers and
merchandise, the profits of which are in addition to the amount allowed
by the United States.

It does not appear that the liberal conditions heretofore enjoyed by
the parties were less than a proper compensation for the service to be
performed, including whatever there may have been of hazard in a new
undertaking, nor that any hardship can be justly alleged calling for
relief on the part of the Government.

On the other hand, the construction of five ships of great speed,
and sufficiently strong for war purposes, and the services of passed
midshipmen on board of them, so as thus to augment the contingent force
and the actual efficiency of the Navy, were among the inducements of the
Government to enter into the contract.

The act of July 21, 1852, provides "that it shall be in the power of
Congress at any time after the 31st day of December, 1854, to terminate
the arrangement for the additional allowance herein provided for upon
giving six months' notice;" and it will be seen that, with the exception
of the six additional trips required by the act of July 21, 1852, there
has been no departure from the original engagement but to relieve
the contractors from obligation, and yet by the act last named the
compensation was increased from $385,000 to $858,000, with no other
protection to the public interests provided than the right which
Congress reserved to itself to terminate the contract, so far as this
increased compensation was concerned, after six months' notice. This
last provision, certainly a primary consideration for the more generous
action of the Government, the present bill proposes to repeal, so as to
leave Congress no power to terminate the new arrangement.

To this repeal the objections are, in my mind, insuperable, because in
terms it deprives the United States of all future discretion as to the
increased service and compensation, whatever changes may occur in the
art of navigation, its expenses, or the policy and political condition
of the country. The gravity of this objection is enhanced by other
considerations. While the contractors are to be paid a compensation
nearly double the rate of the original contract, they are exempted from
several of its conditions, which has the effect of adding still more to
that rate; while the further advantage is conceded to them of placing
their new privileges beyond the control even of Congress.

It will be regarded as a less serious objection than that already
stated, but one which should not be overlooked, that the privileges
bestowed upon the contractors are without corresponding advantages to
the Government, which receives no sufficient pecuniary or other return
for the immense outlay involved, which could obtain the same service of
other parties at less cost, and which, if the bill becomes a law, will
pay them a large amount of public money without adequate consideration;
that is, will in effect confer a gratuity whilst nominally making
provision for the transportation of the mails of the United States.

To provide for making a donation of such magnitude and to give to the
arrangement the character of permanence which this bill proposes would
be to deprive commercial enterprise of the benefits of free competition
and to establish a monopoly in violation of the soundest principles of
public policy and of doubtful compatibility with the Constitution.

I am, of course, not unmindful of the fact that the bill comprises
various other appropriations which are more or less important to the
public interests, for which reason my objections to it are communicated
at the first meeting of the House following its presentation to me, in
the hope that by amendment to bills now pending or otherwise suitable
provision for all the objects in question may be made before the
adjournment of Congress.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

PROCLAMATIONS.

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

A PROCLAMATION.

Whereas by an act of the Congress of the United States approved the
5th day of August, 1854, entitled "An act to carry into effect a
treaty between the United States and Great Britain signed on the 5th
day of June, 1854," it is provided that whenever the President of the
United States shall receive satisfactory evidence that the Imperial
Parliament of Great Britain and the Provincial Parliaments of Canada,
New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edwards Island have passed laws
on their part to give full effect to the provisions of the said treaty,
he is authorized to issue his proclamation declaring that he has such
evidence; and

Whereas satisfactory information has been received by me that the
Imperial Parliament of Great Britain and the Provincial Parliaments
of Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edwards Island have
passed laws on their part to give full effect to the provisions of the
treaty aforesaid:

Now, therefore, I, Franklin Pierce, President of the United States
of America, do hereby declare and proclaim that from this date the
following articles, being the growth and produce of the said Provinces
of Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edwards Island, to
wit: Grain, flour, and breadstuffs of all kinds; animals of all kinds;
fresh, smoked, and salted meats; cotton wool, seeds and vegetables,
undried fruits, dried fruits, fish of all kinds, products of fish and
all other creatures living in the water, poultry, eggs; hides, furs,
skins, or tails, undressed; stone or marble in its crude or unwrought
state, slate, butter, cheese, tallow, lard, horns, manures, ores of
metals of all kinds, coal, pitch, tar, turpentine, ashes; timber and
lumber of all kinds, round, hewed, and sawed, unmanufactured in whole
or in part; firewood; plants, shrubs, and trees; pelts, wool, fish oil,
rice, broom corn, and bark; gypsum, ground or unground; hewn or wrought
or unwrought burr or grind stones; dyestuffs; flax, hemp, and tow,
unmanufactured; unmanufactured tobacco, rags--shall be introduced into
the United States free of duty so long as the said treaty shall remain
in force, subject, however, to be suspended in relation to the trade
with Canada on the condition mentioned in the fourth article of the said
treaty, and that all the other provisions of the said treaty shall go
into effect and be observed on the part of the United States.

Given under my hand, at the city of Washington, the 16th day of March,
A.D. 1855, and of the Independence of the United States the
seventy-ninth.

[SEAL.]

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

By the President:
W.L. MARCY,
_Secretary of State_.

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

A PROCLAMATION.

Whereas the act of Congress of the 28th of September, 1850, entitled "An
act to create additional collection districts in the State of California
and to change the existing district therein, and to modify the existing
collection districts in the United States," extends to merchandise
warehoused under bond the privilege of being exported to the British
North American Provinces adjoining the United States in the manner
prescribed in the act of Congress of the 3d of March, 1845, which
designates certain frontier ports through which merchandise may be
exported, and further provides "that such other ports situated on the
frontiers of the United States adjoining the British North American
Provinces as may hereafter be found expedient may have extended to them
the like privileges on the recommendation of the Secretary of the
Treasury and proclamation duly made by the President of the United
States specially designating the ports to which the aforesaid privileges
are to be extended:"

Now, therefore, I, Franklin Pierce, President of the United States of
America, in accordance with the recommendation of the Secretary of the
Treasury, do hereby declare and proclaim that the ports of Rouses Point,
Cape Vincent, Suspension Bridge, and Dunkirk, in the State of New York;
Swanton, Alburg, and Island Pond, in the State of Vermont; Toledo, in
the State of Ohio; Chicago, in the State of Illinois; Milwaukee, in the
State of Wisconsin; Michilimackinac, in the State of Michigan; Eastport,
in the State of Maine; and Pembina, in the Territory of Minnesota, are
and shall be entitled to all the privileges in regard to the exportation
of merchandise in bond to the British North American Provinces adjoining
the United States which are extended to the ports enumerated in the
seventh section of the act of Congress of the 3d of March, 1845,
aforesaid, from and after the date of this proclamation.

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

Done at the city of Washington, this 2d day of July, A.D. 1855, and of
the Independence of the United States of America the seventy-ninth.

[SEAL]

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

By the President:
W.L. MARCY,
_Secretary of State_.

THIRD ANNUAL MESSAGE.

WASHINGTON, _December 31, 1855_.

_Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives_:

The Constitution of the United States provides that Congress shall
assemble annually on the first Monday of December, and it has been usual
for the President to make no communication of a public character to the
Senate and House of Representatives until advised of their readiness to
receive it. I have deferred to this usage until the close of the first
month of the session, but my convictions of duty will not permit me
longer to postpone the discharge of the obligation enjoined by the
Constitution upon the President "to give to the Congress information of
the state of the Union and recommend to their consideration such
measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient."

It is matter of congratulation that the Republic is tranquilly advancing
in a career of prosperity and peace.

Whilst relations of amity continue to exist between the United States
and all foreign powers, with some of them grave questions are depending
which may require the consideration of Congress.

Of such questions, the most important is that which has arisen out of
the negotiations with Great Britain in reference to Central America.

By the convention concluded between the two Governments on the 19th of
April, 1850, both parties covenanted that "neither will ever" "occupy,
or fortify, or colonize, or assume or exercise any dominion over
Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the Mosquito Coast, or any part of Central
America."

It was the undoubted understanding of the United States in making this
treaty that all the present States of the former Republic of Central
America and the entire territory of each would thenceforth enjoy
complete independence, and that both contracting parties engaged equally
and to the same extent, for the present and for the future, that if
either then had any claim of right in Central America such claim and all
occupation or authority under it were unreservedly relinquished by the
stipulations of the convention, and that no dominion was thereafter to
be exercised or assumed in any part of Central America by Great Britain
or the United States.

This Government consented to restrictions in regard to a region of
country wherein we had specific and peculiar interests only upon the
conviction that the like restrictions were in the same sense obligatory
on Great Britain. But for this understanding of the force and effect of
the convention it would never have been concluded by us.

So clear was this understanding on the part of the United States that in
correspondence contemporaneous with the ratification of the convention
it was distinctly expressed that the mutual covenants of nonoccupation
were not intended to apply to the British establishment at the Balize.
This qualification is to be ascribed to the fact that, in virtue of
successive treaties with previous sovereigns of the country, Great
Britain had obtained a concession of the right to cut mahogany or
dye-woods at the Balize, but with positive exclusion of all domain
or sovereignty; and thus it confirms the natural construction and
understood import of the treaty as to all the rest of the region
to which the stipulations applied.

It, however, became apparent at an early day after entering upon the
discharge of my present functions that Great Britain still continued in
the exercise or assertion of large authority in all that part of Central
America commonly called the Mosquito Coast, and covering the entire
length of the State of Nicaragua and a part of Costa Rica; that she
regarded the Balize as her absolute domain and was gradually extending
its limits at the expense of the State of Honduras, and that she had
formally colonized a considerable insular group known as the Bay
Islands, and belonging of right to that State.

All these acts or pretensions of Great Britain, being contrary to the
rights of the States of Central America and to the manifest tenor of her
stipulations with the United States as understood by this Government,
have been made the subject of negotiation through the American minister
in London. I transmit herewith the instructions to him on the subject
and the correspondence between him and the British secretary for foreign
affairs, by which you will perceive that the two Governments differ
widely and irreconcilably as to the construction of the convention and
its effect on their respective relations to Central America.

Great Britain so construes the convention as to maintain unchanged all
her previous pretensions over the Mosquito Coast and in different parts
of Central America. These pretensions as to the Mosquito Coast are
founded on the assumption of political relation between Great Britain
and the remnant of a tribe of Indians on that coast, entered into at a
time when the whole country was a colonial possession of Spain. It can
not be successfully controverted that by the public law of Europe and
America no possible act of such Indians or their predecessors could
confer on Great Britain any political rights.

Great Britain does not allege the assent of Spain as the origin of her
claims on the Mosquito Coast. She has, on the contrary, by repeated and
successive treaties renounced and relinquished all pretensions of her
own and recognized the full and sovereign rights of Spain in the most
unequivocal terms. Yet these pretensions, so without solid foundation
in the beginning and thus repeatedly abjured, were at a recent period
revived by Great Britain against the Central American States, the
legitimate successors to all the ancient jurisdiction of Spain in that
region. They were first applied only to a defined part of the coast of
Nicaragua, afterwards to the whole of its Atlantic coast, and lastly to
a part of the coast of Costa Rica, and they are now reasserted to this
extent notwithstanding engagements to the United States.

On the eastern coast of Nicaragua and Costa Rica the interference of
Great Britain, though exerted at one time in the form of military
occupation of the port of San Juan del Norte, then in the peaceful
possession of the appropriate authorities of the Central American
States, is now presented by her as the rightful exercise of a
protectorship over the Mosquito tribe of Indians.

But the establishment at the Balize, now reaching far beyond its
treaty limits into the State of Honduras, and that of the Bay Islands,
appertaining of right to the same State, are as distinctly colonial
governments as those of Jamaica or Canada, and therefore contrary to the
very letter, as well as the spirit, of the convention with the United
States as it was at the time of ratification and now is understood by
this Government.

The interpretation which the British Government thus, in assertion
and act, persists in ascribing to the convention entirely changes
its character. While it holds us to all our obligations, it in a
great measure releases Great Britain from those which constituted the
consideration of this Government for entering into the convention. It
is impossible, in my judgment, for the United States to acquiesce in
such a construction of the respective relations of the two Governments
to Central America.

To a renewed call by this Government upon Great Britain to abide by and
carry into effect the stipulations of the convention according to its
obvious import by withdrawing from the possession or colonization of
portions of the Central American States of Honduras, Nicaragua, and
Costa Rica, the British Government has at length replied, affirming that
the operation of the treaty is prospective only and did not require
Great Britain to abandon or contract any possessions held by her in
Central America at the date of its conclusion.

This reply substitutes a partial issue in the place of the general one
presented by the United States. The British Government passes over the
question of the rights of Great Britain, real or supposed, in Central
America, and assumes that she had such rights at the date of the treaty
and that those rights comprehended the protectorship of the Mosquito
Indians, the extended jurisdiction and limits of the Balize, and the
colony of the Bay Islands, and thereupon proceeds by implication to
infer that if the stipulations of the treaty be merely future in effect
Great Britain may still continue to hold the contested portions of
Central America. The United States can not admit either the inference
or the premises. We steadily deny that at the date of the treaty Great
Britain had any possessions there other than the limited and peculiar
establishment at the Balize, and maintain that if she had any they were
surrendered by the convention.

This Government, recognizing the obligations of the treaty, has, of
course, desired to see it executed in good faith by both parties, and
in the discussion, therefore, has not looked to rights which we might
assert independently of the treaty in consideration of our geographical
position and of other circumstances which create for us relations to the
Central American States different from those of any government of
Europe.

The British Government, in its last communication, although well knowing
the views of the United States, still declares that it sees no reason
why a conciliatory spirit may not enable the two Governments to overcome
all obstacles to a satisfactory adjustment of the subject.

Assured of the correctness of the construction of the treaty constantly
adhered to by this Government and resolved to insist on the rights
of the United States, yet actuated also by the same desire which is
avowed by the British Government, to remove all causes of serious
misunderstanding between two nations associated by so many ties of
interest and kindred, it has appeared to me proper not to consider
an amicable solution of the controversy hopeless.

There is, however, reason to apprehend that with Great Britain in the
actual occupation of the disputed territories, and the treaty therefore
practically null so far as regards our rights, this international
difficulty can not long remain undetermined without involving in serious
danger the friendly relations which it is the interest as well as the
duty of both countries to cherish and preserve. It will afford me
sincere gratification if future efforts shall result in the success
anticipated heretofore with more confidence than the aspect of the case
permits me now to entertain.

One other subject of discussion between the United States and Great
Britain has grown out of the attempt, which the exigencies of the war in
which she is engaged with Russia induced her to make, to draw recruits
from the United States.

It is the traditional and settled policy of the United States to
maintain impartial neutrality during the wars which from time to time
occur among the great powers of the world. Performing all the duties of
neutrality toward the respective belligerent states, we may reasonably
expect them not to interfere with our lawful enjoyment of its benefits.
Notwithstanding the existence of such hostilities, our citizens retained
the individual right to continue all their accustomed pursuits, by land
or by sea, at home or abroad, subject only to such restrictions in this
relation as the laws of war, the usage of nations, or special treaties
may impose; and it is our sovereign right that our territory and
jurisdiction shall not be invaded by either of the belligerent parties
for the transit of their armies, the operations of their fleets, the
levy of troops for their service, the fitting out of cruisers by or
against either, or any other act or incident of war. And these
undeniable rights of neutrality, individual and national, the United
States will under no circumstances surrender.

In pursuance of this policy, the laws of the United States do not
forbid their citizens to sell to either of the belligerent powers
articles contraband of war or take munitions of war or soldiers on
board their private ships for transportation; and although in so doing
the individual citizen exposes his property or person to some of the
hazards of war, his acts do not involve any breach of national neutrality
nor of themselves implicate the Government. Thus, during the progress
of the present war in Europe, our citizens have, without national
responsibility therefor, sold gunpowder and arms to all buyers,
regardless of the destination of those articles. Our merchantmen have
been, and still continue to be, largely employed by Great Britain and by
France in transporting troops, provisions, and munitions of war to the
principal seat of military operations and in bringing home their sick
and wounded soldiers; but such use of our mercantile marine is not
interdicted either by the international or by our municipal law, and
therefore does not compromit our neutral relations with Russia.

But our municipal law, in accordance with the law of nations,
peremptorily forbids not only foreigners, but our own citizens, to fit
out within the United States a vessel to commit hostilities against any
state with which the United States are at peace, or to increase the
force of any foreign armed vessel intended for such hostilities against
a friendly state.

Whatever concern may have been felt by either of the belligerent powers
lest private armed cruisers or other vessels in the service of one might
be fitted out in the ports of this country to depredate on the property
of the other, all such fears have proved to be utterly groundless. Our
citizens have been withheld from any such act or purpose by good faith
and by respect for the law.

While the laws of the Union are thus peremptory in their prohibition of
the equipment or armament of belligerent cruisers in our ports, they
provide not less absolutely that no person shall, within the territory
or jurisdiction of the United States, enlist or enter himself, or hire
or retain another person to enlist or enter himself, or to go beyond the
limits or jurisdiction of the United States with intent to be enlisted
or entered, in the service of any foreign state, either as a soldier or
as a marine or seaman on board of any vessel of war, letter of marque,
or privateer. And these enactments are also in strict conformity with
the law of nations, which declares that no state has the right to raise
troops for land or sea service in another state without its consent, and
that, whether forbidden by the municipal law or not, the very attempt to
do it without such consent is an attack on the national sovereignty.

Such being the public rights and the municipal law of the United States,
no solicitude on the subject was entertained by this Government when,
a year since, the British Parliament passed an act to provide for the
enlistment of foreigners in the military service of Great Britain.
Nothing on the face of the act or in its public history indicated that
the British Government proposed to attempt recruitment in the United
States, nor did it ever give intimation of such intention to this
Government. It was matter of surprise, therefore, to find subsequently
that the engagement of persons within the United States to proceed to
Halifax, in the British Province of Nova Scotia, and there enlist in the
service of Great Britain, was going on extensively, with little or no
disguise. Ordinary legal steps were immediately taken to arrest and
punish parties concerned, and so put an end to acts infringing the
municipal law and derogatory to our sovereignty. Meanwhile suitable
representations on the subject were addressed to the British Government.

Thereupon it became known, by the admission of the British Government
itself, that the attempt to draw recruits from this country originated
with it, or at least had its approval and sanction; but it also appeared
that the public agents engaged in it had "stringent instructions" not to
violate the municipal law of the United States.

It is difficult to understand how it should have been supposed that
troops could be raised here by Great Britain without violation of the
municipal law. The unmistakable object of the law was to prevent every
such act which if performed must be either in violation of the law or in
studied evasion of it, and in either alternative the act done would be
alike injurious to the sovereignty of the United States.

In the meantime the matter acquired additional importance by the
recruitments in the United States not being discontinued, and the
disclosure of the fact that they were prosecuted upon a systematic plan
devised by official authority; that recruiting rendezvous had been
opened in our principal cities and depots for the reception of recruits
established on our frontier, and the whole business conducted under the
supervision and by the regular cooperation of British officers, civil
and military, some in the North American Provinces and some in the
United States. The complicity of those officers in an undertaking which
could only be accomplished by defying our laws, throwing suspicion over
our attitude of neutrality, and disregarding our territorial rights is
conclusively proved by the evidence elicited on the trial of such of
their agents as have been apprehended and convicted. Some of the
officers thus implicated are of high official position, and many of them
beyond our jurisdiction, so that legal proceedings could not reach the
source of the mischief.

These considerations, and the fact that the cause of complaint was not a
mere casual occurrence, but a deliberate design, entered upon with full
knowledge of our laws and national policy and conducted by responsible
public functionaries, impelled me to present the case to the British
Government, in order to secure not only a cessation of the wrong, but
its reparation. The subject is still under discussion, the result of
which will be communicated to you in due time.

I repeat the recommendation submitted to the last Congress, that
provision be made for the appointment of a commissioner, in connection
with Great Britain, to survey and establish the boundary line which
divides the Territory of Washington from the contiguous British
possessions. By reason of the extent and importance of the country
in dispute, there has been imminent danger of collision between the
subjects of Great Britain and the citizens of the United States,
including their respective authorities, in that quarter. The prospect of
a speedy arrangement has contributed hitherto to induce on both sides
forbearance to assert by force what each claims as a right. Continuance
of delay on the part of the two Governments to act in the matter will
increase the dangers and difficulties of the controversy.

Misunderstanding exists as to the extent, character, and value of the
possessory rights of the Hudsons Bay Company and the property of the
Pugets Sound Agricultural Company reserved in our treaty with Great
Britain relative to the Territory of Oregon. I have reason to believe
that a cession of the rights of both companies to the United States,
which would be the readiest means of terminating all questions, can be
obtained on reasonable terms, and with a view to this end I present the
subject to the attention of Congress.

The colony of Newfoundland, having enacted the laws required by the
treaty of the 5th of June, 1854, is now placed on the same footing in
respect to commercial intercourse with the United States as the other
British North American Provinces.

The commission which that treaty contemplated, for determining the
rights of fishery in rivers and mouths of rivers on the coasts of
the United States and the British North American Provinces, has been
organized, and has commenced its labors, to complete which there are
needed further appropriations for the service of another season.

In pursuance of the authority conferred by a resolution of the Senate of
the United States passed on the 3d of March last, notice was given to
Denmark on the 14th day of April of the intention of this Government
to avail itself of the stipulation of the subsisting convention of
friendship, commerce, and navigation between that Kingdom and the United
States whereby either party might after ten years terminate the same at
the expiration of one year from the date of notice for that purpose.

The considerations which led me to call the attention of Congress to
that convention and induced the Senate to adopt the resolution referred
to still continue in full force. The convention contains an article
which, although it does not directly engage the United States to submit
to the imposition of tolls on the vessels and cargoes of Americans
passing into or from the Baltic Sea during the continuance of the
treaty, yet may by possibility be construed as implying such submission.
The exaction of those tolls not being justified by any principle of
international law, it became the right and duty of the United States to
relieve themselves from the implication of engagement on the subject,
so as to be perfectly free to act in the premises in such way as their
public interests and honor shall demand.

I remain of the opinion that the United States ought not to submit to
the payment of the Sound dues, not so much because of their amount,
which is a secondary matter, but because it is in effect the recognition
of the right of Denmark to treat one of the great maritime highways of
nations as a close sea, and prevent the navigation of it as a privilege,
for which tribute may be imposed upon those who have occasion to use it.

This Government on a former occasion, not unlike the present, signalized
its determination to maintain the freedom of the seas and of the great
natural channels of navigation. The Barbary States had for a long time
coerced the payment of tribute from all nations whose ships frequented
the Mediterranean. To the last demand of such payment made by them the
United States, although suffering less by their depredations than many
other nations, returned the explicit answer that we preferred war to
tribute, and thus opened the way to the relief of the commerce of the
world from an ignominious tax, so long submitted to by the more powerful
nations of Europe.

If the manner of payment of the Sound dues differ from that of the
tribute formerly conceded to the Barbary States, still their exaction
by Denmark has no better foundation in right. Each was in its origin
nothing but a tax on a common natural right, extorted by those who were
at that time able to obstruct the free and secure enjoyment of it, but
who no longer possess that power.

Denmark, while resisting our assertion of the freedom of the Baltic
Sound and Belts, has indicated a readiness to make some new arrangement
on the subject, and has invited the governments interested, including
the United States, to be represented in a convention to assemble for the
purpose of receiving and considering a proposition which she intends to
submit for the capitalization of the Sound dues and the distribution of
the sum to be paid as commutation among the governments according to
the respective proportions of their maritime commerce to and from the
Baltic. I have declined, in behalf of the United States, to accept this
invitation, for the most cogent reasons. One is that Denmark does not
offer to submit to the convention the question of her right to levy the
Sound dues. The second is that if the convention were allowed to take
cognizance of that particular question, still it would not be competent
to deal with the great international principle involved, which affects
the right in other cases of navigation and commercial freedom, as well
as that of access to the Baltic. Above all, by the express terms of the
proposition it is contemplated that the consideration of the Sound dues
shall be commingled with and made subordinate to a matter wholly
extraneous--the balance of power among the Governments of Europe.

While, however, rejecting this proposition and insisting on the right
of free transit into and from the Baltic, I have expressed to Denmark
a willingness on the part of the United States to share liberally with
other powers in compensating her for any advantages which commerce shall
hereafter derive from expenditures made by her for the improvement and
safety of the navigation of the Sound or Belts.

I lay before you herewith sundry documents on the subject, in which my
views are more fully disclosed. Should no satisfactory arrangement be
soon concluded, I shall again call your attention to the subject, with
recommendation of such measures as may appear to be required in order to
assert and secure the rights of the United States, so far as they are
affected by the pretensions of Denmark.

I announce with much gratification that since the adjournment of the
last Congress the question then existing between this Government and
that of France respecting the French consul at San Francisco has been
satisfactorily determined, and that the relations of the two Governments
continue to be of the most friendly nature.

A question, also, which has been pending for several years between
the United States and the Kingdom of Greece, growing out of the
sequestration by public authorities of that country of property
belonging to the present American consul at Athens, and which had been
the subject of very earnest discussion heretofore, has recently been
settled to the satisfaction of the party interested and of both
Governments.

With Spain peaceful relations are still maintained, and some progress
has been made in securing the redress of wrongs complained of by this
Government. Spain has not only disavowed and disapproved the conduct
of the officers who illegally seized and detained the steamer _Black
Warrior_ at Havana, but has also paid the sum claimed as indemnity for
the loss thereby inflicted on citizens of the United States.

In consequence of a destructive hurricane which visited Cuba in 1844,
the supreme authority of that island issued a decree permitting the
importation for the period of six months of certain building materials
and provisions free of duty, but revoked it when about half the period
only had elapsed, to the injury of citizens of the United States who had
proceeded to act on the faith of that decree. The Spanish Government
refused indemnification to the parties aggrieved until recently, when it
was assented to, payment being promised to be made so soon as the amount
due can be ascertained.

Satisfaction claimed for the arrest and search of the steamer _El
Dorado_ has not yet been accorded, but there is reason to believe that
it will be; and that case, with others, continues to be urged on the
attention of the Spanish Government. I do not abandon the hope of
concluding with Spain some general arrangement which, if it do not
wholly prevent the recurrence of difficulties in Cuba, will render them
less frequent, and, whenever they shall occur, facilitate their more
speedy settlement.

The interposition of this Government has been invoked by many of its
citizens on account of injuries done to their persons and property for
which the Mexican Republic is responsible. The unhappy situation of that
country for some time past has not allowed its Government to give due
consideration to claims of private reparation, and has appeared to

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