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

Produced by Juliet Sutherland, David Garcia and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team. A COMPILATION OF THE MESSAGES AND PAPERS OF THE PRESIDENTS BY JAMES D. RICHARDSON John Tyler April 4, 1841, to March 4, 1848 John Tyler JOHN TYLER, second son of Judge John Tyler, governor of Virginia from 1808 to 1811, and Mary Armistead,
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  • 4/4/1841-4/3/1848
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Produced by Juliet Sutherland, David Garcia and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.



John Tyler

April 4, 1841, to March 4, 1848

John Tyler

JOHN TYLER, second son of Judge John Tyler, governor of Virginia from 1808 to 1811, and Mary Armistead, was born at Greenway, Charles City County, Va., March 29, 1790. He was graduated at William and Mary College in 1807. At college he showed a strong interest in ancient history; was also fond of poetry and music, and was a skillful performer on the violin. In 1809 he was admitted to the bar, and had already begun to obtain a good practice when he was elected to the legislature. Took his seat in that body in December, 1811. Was here a firm supporter of Mr. Madison’s Administration; and the war with Great Britain, which soon followed, afforded him an opportunity to become conspicuous as a forcible and persuasive orator. March 29, 1813, he married Letitia, daughter of Robert Christian, and a few weeks afterwards was called into the field at the head of a company of militia to take part in the defense of Richmond, threatened by the British. This military service lasted but a month. He was reelected to the legislature annually until, in November, 1816, he was chosen to fill a vacancy in the United States House of Representatives. Was reelected to the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Congresses. In 1821, his health being seriously impaired, he declined a reelection and retired to private life. In 1823 he was again elected to the Virginia legislature. Here he was a friend to the candidacy of William H. Crawford for the Presidency. In 1824 he was a candidate to fill a vacancy in the United States Senate, but was defeated. He opposed in 1825 the attempt to remove William and Mary College to Richmond, and was afterwards made successively rector and chancellor of the college, which prospered signally under his management. In December, 1825, he was chosen by the legislature to the governorship of Virginia, and in the following year was reelected by a unanimous vote. In December, 1826, the friends of Clay and Adams combined with the Democrats opposed to John Randolph and elected Mr. Tyler to the United States Senate. In February, 1830, after taking part in the Virginia convention for revising the State constitution, he returned to his seat in the Senate, and found himself first drawn toward Jackson by the veto message (May 27) upon the Maysville turnpike bill; supported Jackson in the Presidential election of 1832, but broke with the Administration on the question of the removal of the deposits from the United States Bank, and voted for Mr. Clay’s resolution to censure the President. He was nominated by the State-rights Whigs for Vice-President in 1835, and at the election on November 8, 1836, received 47 electoral votes; but no candidate having a majority of electoral votes, the Senate elected Richard M. Johnson, of Kentucky. The legislature of Virginia having instructed the Senators from that State to vote for expunging the resolutions of censure upon President Jackson, Mr. Tyler refused to obey the instructions, resigned his seat, and returned home February 29, 1836. On January 10, 1838, he was chosen president of the Virginia Colonization Society. In the spring of 1838 he was returned to the Virginia legislature. In January, 1839, he was a candidate for reelection to the United States Senate; the result was a deadlock, and the question was indefinitely postponed before any choice had been made. December 4, 1839, the Whig national convention, at Harrisburg, Pa., nominated him for Vice-President on the ticket with William Henry Harrison, and at the election on November 10, 1840, he was elected, receiving 234 electoral votes to 48 for Richard M. Johnson, of Kentucky. By the death of President Harrison April 4, 1841, Mr. Tyler became President of the United States. He took the oath of office on April 6. Among the more important events of his Administration were the “Ashburton treaty” with Great Britain, the termination of the Indian war in Florida, the passage of the resolutions by Congress providing for the annexation of Texas, and the treaty with China. On May 27, 1844, he was nominated for President at a convention in Baltimore, but although at first he accepted the nomination, he subsequently withdrew his name. On June 26, 1844, Mr. Tyler married Miss Julia Gardiner, of New York, his first wife having died September 9, 1842. After leaving the White House he took up his residence on his estate, Sherwood Forest, near Greenway, Va., on the bank of the James River. Was president of the Peace Convention held at Washington February 4, 1861. Afterwards, as a delegate to the Virginia State convention, he advocated the passage of an ordinance of secession. In May, 1861, he was unanimously elected a member of the provisional congress of the Confederate States. In the following autumn he was elected to the permanent congress, but died at Richmond January 18, 1862, before taking his seat, and was buried in Hollywood Cemetery, in that city.

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WASHINGTON, _April 9, 1841_.

_To the People of the United States_.

FELLOW-CITIZENS: Before my arrival at the seat of Government the painful communication was made to you by the officers presiding over the several Departments of the deeply regretted death of William Henry Harrison, late President of the United States. Upon him you had conferred your suffrages for the first office in your gift, and had selected him as your chosen instrument to correct and reform all such errors and abuses as had manifested themselves from time to time in the practical operation of the Government. While standing at the threshold of this great work he has by the dispensation of an all-wise Providence been removed from amongst us, and by the provisions of the Constitution the efforts to be directed to the accomplishing of this vitally important task have devolved upon myself. This same occurrence has subjected the wisdom and sufficiency of our institutions to a new test. For the first time in our history the person elected to the Vice-Presidency of the United States, by the happening of a contingency provided for in the Constitution, has had devolved upon him the Presidential office. The spirit of faction, which is directly opposed to the spirit of a lofty patriotism, may find in this occasion for assaults upon my Administration; and in succeeding, under circumstances so sudden and unexpected and to responsibilities so greatly augmented, to the administration of public affairs I shall place in the intelligence and patriotism of the people my only sure reliance. My earnest prayer shall be constantly addressed to the all-wise and all-powerful Being who made me, and by whose dispensation I am called to the high office of President of this Confederacy, understandingly to carry out the principles of that Constitution which I have sworn “to protect, preserve, and defend.”

The usual opportunity which is afforded to a Chief Magistrate upon his induction to office of presenting to his countrymen an exposition of the policy which would guide his Administration, in the form of an inaugural address, not having, under the peculiar circumstances which have brought me to the discharge of the high duties of President of the United States, been afforded to me, a brief exposition of the principles which will govern me in the general course of my administration of public affairs would seem to be due as well to myself as to you.

In regard to foreign nations, the groundwork of my policy will be justice on our part to all, submitting to injustice from none. While I shall sedulously cultivate the relations of peace and amity with one and all, it will be my most imperative duty to see that the honor of the country shall sustain no blemish. With a view to this, the condition of our military defenses will become a matter of anxious solicitude. The Army, which has in other days covered itself with renown, and the Navy, not inappropriately termed the right arm of the public defense, which has spread a light of glory over the American standard in all the waters of the earth, should be rendered replete with efficiency.

In view of the fact, well avouched by history, that the tendency of all human institutions is to concentrate power in the hands of a single man, and that their ultimate downfall has proceeded from this cause, I deem it of the most essential importance that a complete separation should take place between the sword and the purse. No matter where or how the public moneys shall be deposited, so long as the President can exert the power of appointing and removing at his pleasure the agents selected for their custody the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy is in fact the treasurer. A permanent and radical change should therefore be decreed. The patronage incident to the Presidential office, already great, is constantly increasing. Such increase is destined to keep pace with the growth of our population, until, without a figure of speech, an army of officeholders may be spread over the land. The unrestrained power exerted by a selfishly ambitious man in order either to perpetuate his authority or to hand it over to some favorite as his successor may lead to the employment of all the means within his control to accomplish his object. The right to remove from office, while subjected to no just restraint, is inevitably destined to produce a spirit of crouching servility with the official corps, which, in order to uphold the hand which feeds them, would lead to direct and active interference in the elections, both State and Federal, thereby subjecting the course of State legislation to the dictation of the chief executive officer and making the will of that officer absolute and supreme. I will at a proper time invoke the action of Congress upon this subject, and shall readily acquiesce in the adoption of all proper measures which are calculated to arrest these evils, so full of danger in their tendency. I will remove no incumbent from office who has faithfully and honestly acquitted himself of the duties of his office, except in such cases where such officer has been guilty of an active partisanship or by secret means–the less manly, and therefore the more objectionable–has given his official influence to the purposes of party, thereby bringing the patronage of the Government in conflict with the freedom of elections. Numerous removals may become necessary under this rule. These will be made by me through no acerbity of feeling–I have had no cause to cherish or indulge unkind feelings toward any–but my conduct will be regulated by a profound sense of what is due to the country and its institutions; nor shall I neglect to apply the same unbending rule to those of my own appointment. Freedom of opinion will be tolerated, the full enjoyment of the right of suffrage will be maintained as the birthright of every American citizen; but I say emphatically to the official corps, “Thus far and no farther.” I have dwelt the longer upon this subject because removals from office are likely often to arise, and I would have my countrymen to understand the principle of the Executive action.

In all public expenditures the most rigid economy should be resorted to, and, as one of its results, a public debt in time of peace be sedulously avoided. A wise and patriotic constituency will never object to the imposition of necessary burdens for useful ends, and true wisdom dictates the resort to such means in order to supply deficiencies in the revenue, rather than to those doubtful expedients which, ultimating in a public debt, serve to embarrass the resources of the country and to lessen its ability to meet any great emergency which may arise. All sinecures should be abolished. The appropriations should be direct and explicit, so as to leave as limited a share of discretion to the disbursing agents as may be found compatible with the public service. A strict responsibility on the part of all the agents of the Government should be maintained and peculation or defalcation visited with immediate expulsion from office and the most condign punishment.

The public interest also demands that if any war has existed between the Government and the currency it shall cease. Measures of a financial character now having the sanction of legal enactment shall be faithfully enforced until repealed by the legislative authority. But I owe it to myself to declare that I regard existing enactments as unwise and impolitic and in a high degree oppressive. I shall promptly give my sanction to any constitutional measure which, originating in Congress, shall have for its object the restoration of a sound circulating medium, so essentially necessary to give confidence in all the transactions of life, to secure to industry its just and adequate rewards, and to reestablish the public prosperity. In deciding upon the adaptation of any such measure to the end proposed, as well as its conformity to the Constitution, I shall resort to the fathers of the great republican school for advice and instruction, to be drawn from their sage views of our system of government and the light of their ever-glorious example.

The institutions under which we live, my countrymen, secure each person in the perfect enjoyment of all his rights. The spectacle is exhibited to the world of a government deriving its powers from the consent of the governed and having imparted to it only so much power as is necessary for its successful operation. Those who are charged with its administration should carefully abstain from all attempts to enlarge the range of powers thus granted to the several departments of the Government other than by an appeal to the people for additional grants, lest by so doing they disturb that balance which the patriots and statesmen who framed the Constitution designed to establish between the Federal Government and the States composing the Union. The observance of these rules is enjoined upon us by that feeling of reverence and affection which finds a place in the heart of every patriot for the preservation of union and the blessings of union–for the good of our children and our children’s children through countless generations. An opposite course could not fail to generate factions intent upon the gratification of their selfish ends, to give birth to local and sectional jealousies, and to ultimate either in breaking asunder the bonds of union or in building up a central system which would inevitably end in a bloody scepter and an iron crown.

In conclusion I beg you to be assured that I shall exert myself to carry the foregoing principles into practice during my administration of the Government, and, confiding in the protecting care of an everwatchful and overruling Providence, it shall be my first and highest duty to preserve unimpaired the free institutions under which we live and transmit them to those who shall succeed me in their full force and vigor.


[For proclamation of President Tyler recommending, in consequence of the death of President Harrison, a day of fasting and prayer, see p. 32.]


WASHINGTON, _June 1, 1841_.

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

FELLOW CITIZENS: You have been assembled in your respective halls of legislation under a proclamation bearing the signature of the illustrious citizen who was so lately called by the direct suffrages of the people to the discharge of the important functions of their chief executive office. Upon the expiration of a single month from the day of his installation he has paid the great debt of nature, leaving behind him a name associated with the recollection of numerous benefits conferred upon the country during a long life of patriotic devotion. With this public bereavement are connected other considerations which will not escape the attention of Congress. The preparations necessary for his removal to the seat of Government in view of a residence of four years must have devolved upon the late President heavy expenditures, which, if permitted to burthen the limited resources of his private fortune, may tend seriously to the embarrassment of his surviving family; and it is therefore respectfully submitted to Congress whether the ordinary principles of justice would not dictate the propriety of its legislative interposition. By the provisions of the fundamental law the powers and duties of the high station to which he was elected have devolved upon me, and in the dispositions of the representatives of the States and of the people will be found, to a great extent, a solution of the problem to which our institutions are for the first time subjected.

In entering upon the duties of this office I did not feel that it would be becoming in me to disturb what had been ordered by my lamented predecessor. Whatever, therefore, may have been my opinion originally as to the propriety of convening Congress at so early a day from that of its late adjournment, I found a new and controlling inducement not to interfere with the patriotic desires of the late President in the novelty of the situation in which I was so unexpectedly placed. My first wish under such circumstances would necessarily have been to have called to my aid in the administration of public affairs the combined wisdom of the two Houses of Congress, in order to take their counsel and advice as to the best mode of extricating the Government and the country from the embarrassments weighing heavily on both. I am, then, most happy in finding myself so soon after my accession to the Presidency surrounded by the immediate representatives of the States and people.

No important changes having taken place in our foreign relations since the last session of Congress, it is not deemed necessary on this occasion to go into a detailed statement in regard to them. I am happy to say that I see nothing to destroy the hope of being able to preserve peace, The ratification of the treaty with Portugal has been duly exchanged between the two Governments. This Government has not been inattentive to the interests of those of our citizens who have claims on the Government of Spain founded on express treaty stipulations, and a hope is indulged that the representations which have been made to that Government on this subject may lead ere long to beneficial results.

A correspondence has taken place between the Secretary of State and the minister of Her Britannic Majesty accredited to this Government on the subject of Alexander McLeod’s indictment and imprisonment, copies of which are herewith communicated to Congress.

In addition to what appears from these papers, it may be proper to state that Alexander McLeod has been heard by the supreme court of the State of New York on his motion to be discharged from imprisonment, and that the decision of that court has not as yet been pronounced.

The Secretary of State has addressed to me a paper upon two subjects interesting to the commerce of the country, which will receive my consideration, and which I have the honor to communicate to Congress.

So far as it depends on the course of this Government, our relations of good will and friendship will be sedulously cultivated with all nations. The true American policy will be found to consist in the exercise of a spirit of justice, to be manifested in the discharge of all our international obligations to the weakest of the family of nations as well as to the most powerful. Occasional conflicts of opinion may arise, but when the discussions incident to them are conducted in the language of truth and with a strict regard to justice the scourge of war will for the most part be avoided. The time ought to be regarded as having gone by when a resort to arms is to be esteemed as the only proper arbiter of national differences.

The census recently taken shows a regularly progressive increase in our population. Upon the breaking out of the War of the Revolution our numbers scarcely equaled 3,000,000 souls; they already exceed 17,000,000, and will continue to progress in a ratio which duplicates in a period of about twenty-three years. The old States contain a territory sufficient in itself to maintain a population of additional millions, and the most populous of the new States may even yet be regarded as but partially settled, while of the new lands on this side of the Rocky Mountains, to say nothing of the immense region which stretches from the base of those mountains to the mouth of the Columbia River, about 770,000,000 acres, ceded and unceded, still remain to be brought into market. We hold out to the people of other countries an invitation to come and settle among us as members of our rapidly growing family, and for the blessings which we offer them we require of them to look upon our country as their country and to unite with us in the great task of preserving our institutions and thereby perpetuating our liberties. No motive exists for foreign conquest; we desire but to reclaim our almost illimitable wildernesses and to introduce into their depths the lights of civilization. While we shall at all times be prepared to vindicate the national honor, our most earnest desire will be to maintain an unbroken peace.

In presenting the foregoing views I can not withhold the expression of the opinion that there exists nothing in the extension of our Empire over our acknowledged possessions to excite the alarm of the patriot for the safety of our institutions. The federative system, leaving to each State the care of its domestic concerns and devolving on the Federal Government those of general import, admits in safety of the greatest expansion; but at the same time I deem it proper to add that there will be found to exist at all times an imperious necessity for restraining all the functionaries of this Government within the range of their respective powers, thereby preserving a just balance between the powers granted to this Government and those reserved to the States and to the people.

From the report of the Secretary of the Treasury you will perceive that the fiscal means, present and accruing, are insufficient to supply the wants of the Government for the current year. The balance in the Treasury on the 4th day of March last not covered by outstanding drafts, and exclusive of trust funds, is estimated at $860,000. This includes the sum of $215,000 deposited in the Mint and its branches to procure metal for coining and in process of coinage, and which could not be withdrawn without inconvenience, thus leaving subject to draft in the various depositories the sum of $645,000. By virtue of two several acts of Congress the Secretary of the Treasury was authorized to issue on and after the 4th day of March last Treasury notes to the amount of $5,413,000, making an aggregate available fund of $6,058,000 on hand.

But this fund was chargeable, with outstanding Treasury notes redeemable in the current year and interest thereon, to the estimated amount of $5,280,000. There is also thrown upon the Treasury the payment of a large amount of demands accrued in whole or in part in former years, which will exhaust the available means of the Treasury and leave the accruing revenue, reduced as it is in amount, burthened with debt and charged with the current expenses of the Government.

The aggregate amount of outstanding appropriations on the 4th day of March last was $33,429,616.50, of which $24,210,000 will be required during the current year; and there will also be required for the use of the War Department additional appropriations to the amount of $2,511,132.98, the special objects of which will be seen by reference to the report of the Secretary of War. The anticipated means of the Treasury are greatly inadequate to this demand. The receipts from customs for the last three quarters of the last year and first quarter of the present year amounted to $12,100,000; the receipts for lands for the same time to $2,742,450, shewing an average revenue from both sources of $1,236,870 per month.

A gradual expansion of trade, growing out of a restoration of confidence, together with a reduction in the expenses of collecting and punctuality on the part of collecting officers, may cause an addition to the monthly receipts from the customs. They are estimated for the residue of the year from the 4th of March at $12,000,000. The receipts from the public lands for the same time are estimated at $2,500,000, and from miscellaneous sources at $170,000, making an aggregate of available fund within the year of $15,315,000, which will leave a probable deficit of $11,406,132.98. To meet this some temporary provision is necessary until the amount can be absorbed by the excess of revenues which are anticipated to accrue at no distant day.

There will fall due within the next three months Treasury notes of the issues of 1840, including interest, about $2,850,000. There is chargeable in the same period for arrearages for taking the Sixth Census $294,000, and the estimated expenditures for the current service are about $8,100,000, making the aggregate demand upon the Treasury prior to the 1st of September next about $11,340,000.

The ways and means in the Treasury and estimated to accrue within the above-named period consist of about $694,000 of funds available on the 28th ultimo, an unissued balance of Treasury notes authorized by the act of 1841 amounting to $1,955,000, and estimated receipts from all sources of $3,800,000, making an aggregate of about $6,450,000, and leaving a probable deficit on the 1st of September next of $4,845,000.

In order to supply the wants of the Government, an intelligent constituency, in view of their best interests, will without hesitation submit to all necessary burthens. But it is nevertheless important so to impose them as to avoid defeating the just expectations of the country growing out of preexisting laws. The act of the 2d of March, 1833, commonly called the “compromise act,” should not be altered except under urgent necessities, which are not believed at this time to exist. One year only remains to complete the series of reductions provided for by that law, at which time provisions made by the same law, and which then will be brought actively in aid of the manufacturing interests of the Union, will not fail to produce the most beneficial results. Under a system of discriminating duties imposed for purposes of revenue, in unison with the provisions of existing laws, it is to be hoped that our policy will in the future be fixed and permanent, so as to avoid those constant fluctuations which defeat the very objects they have in view. We shall thus best maintain a position which, while it will enable us the more readily to meet the advances of other countries calculated to promote our trade and commerce, will at the same time leave in our own hands the means of retaliating with greater effect unjust regulations.

In intimate connection with the question of revenue is that which makes provision for a suitable fiscal agent, capable of adding increased facilities in the collection and disbursement of the public revenues, rendering more secure their custody, and consulting a true economy in the great, multiplied, and delicate operations of the Treasury Department. Upon such an agent depends in an eminent degree the establishment of a currency of uniform value, which is of so great importance to all the essential interests of society, and on the wisdom to be manifested in its creation much depends. So intimately interwoven are its operations, not only with the interests of individuals, but of States, that it may be regarded to a great degree as controlling both. If paper be used as the chief medium of circulation, and the power be vested in the Government of issuing it at pleasure, either in the form of Treasury drafts or any other, or if banks be used as the public depositories, with liberty to regard all surpluses from day to day as so much added to their active capital, prices are exposed to constant fluctuations and industry to severe suffering. In the one case political considerations directed to party purposes may control, while excessive cupidity may prevail in the other. The public is thus constantly liable to imposition. Expansions and contractions may follow each other in rapid succession–the one engendering a reckless spirit of adventure and speculation, which embraces States as well as individuals, the other causing a fall in prices and accomplishing an entire change in the aspect of affairs. Stocks of all sorts rapidly decline, individuals are ruined, and States embarrassed even in their efforts to meet with punctuality the interest on their debts. Such, unhappily, is the condition of things now existing in the United States. These effects may readily be traced to the causes above referred to. The public revenues, being removed from the then Bank of the United States, under an order of a late President, were placed in selected State banks, which, actuated by the double motive of conciliating the Government and augmenting their profits to the greatest possible extent, enlarged extravagantly their discounts, thus enabling all other existing banks to do the same; large dividends were declared, which, stimulating the cupidity of capitalists, caused a rush to be made to the legislatures of the respective States for similar acts of incorporation, which by many of the States, under a temporary infatuation, were readily granted, and thus the augmentation of the circulating medium, consisting almost exclusively of paper, produced a most fatal delusion. An illustration derived from the land sales of the period alluded to will serve best to show the effect of the whole system. The average sales of the public lands for a period of ten years prior to 1834 had not much exceeded $2,000,000 per annum. In 1834 they attained in round numbers to the amount of $6,000,000; in the succeeding year of 1835 they reached $16,000,000, and the next year of 1836 they amounted to the enormous sum of $25,000,000, thus crowding into the short space of three years upward of twenty-three years’ purchase of the public domain. So apparent had become the necessity of arresting this course of things that the executive department assumed the highly questionable power of discriminating in the funds to be used in payment by different classes of public debtors–a discrimination which was doubtless designed to correct this most ruinous state of things by the exaction of specie in all payments for the public lands, but which could not at once arrest the tide which had so strongly set in. Hence the demands for specie became unceasing, and corresponding prostration rapidly ensued under the necessities created with the banks to curtail their discounts and thereby to reduce their circulation. I recur to these things with no disposition to censure preexisting Administrations of the Government, but simply in exemplification of the truth of the position which I have assumed. If, then, any fiscal agent which may be created shall be placed, without due restrictions, either in the hands of the administrators of the Government or those of private individuals, the temptation to abuse will prove to be resistless. Objects of political aggrandizement may seduce the first, and the promptings of a boundless cupidity will assail the last. Aided by the experience of the past, it will be the pleasure of Congress so to guard and fortify the public interests in the creation of any new agent as to place them, so far as human wisdom can accomplish it, on a footing of perfect security. Within a few years past three different schemes have been before the country. The charter of the Bank of the United States expired by its own limitations in 1836. An effort was made to renew it, which received the sanction of the two Houses of Congress, but the then President of the United States exercised his _veto_ power and the measure was defeated. A regard to truth requires me to say that the President was fully sustained in the course he had taken by the popular voice. His successor to the chair of state unqualifiedly pronounced his opposition to any new charter of a similar institution, and not only the popular election which brought him into power, but the elections through much of his term, seemed clearly to indicate a concurrence with him in sentiment on the part of the people. After the public moneys were withdrawn from the United States Bank they were placed in deposit with the State banks, and the result of that policy has been before the country. To say nothing as to the question whether that experiment was made under propitious or adverse circumstances, it may safely be asserted that it did receive the unqualified condemnation of most of its early advocates, and, it is believed, was also condemned by the popular sentiment. The existing subtreasury system does not seem to stand in higher favor with the people, but has recently been condemned in a manner too plainly indicated to admit of a doubt. Thus in the short period of eight years the popular voice may be regarded as having successively condemned each of the three schemes of finance to which I have adverted. As to the first, it was introduced at a time (1816) when the State banks, then comparatively few in number, had been forced to suspend specie payments by reason of the war which had previously prevailed with Great Britain. Whether if the United States Bank charter, which expired in 1811, had been renewed in due season it would have been enabled to continue specie payments during the war and the disastrous period to the commerce of the country which immediately succeeded is, to say the least, problematical, and whether the United States Bank of 1816 produced a restoration of specie payments or the same was accomplished through the instrumentality of other means was a matter of some difficulty at that time to determine. Certain it is that for the first years of the operation of that bank its course was as disastrous as for the greater part of its subsequent career it became eminently successful. As to the second, the experiment was tried with a redundant Treasury, which continued to increase until it seemed to be the part of wisdom to distribute the surplus revenue among the States, which, operating at the same time with the specie circular and the causes before adverted to, caused them to suspend specie payments and involved the country in the greatest embarrassment. And as to the third, if carried through all the stages of its transmutation from paper and specie to nothing but the precious metals, to say nothing of the insecurity of the public moneys, its injurious effects have been anticipated by the country in its unqualified condemnation. What is now to be regarded as the judgment of the American people on this whole subject I have no accurate means of determining but by appealing to their more immediate representatives. The late contest, which terminated in the election of General Harrison to the Presidency, was decided on principles well known and openly declared, and while the subtreasury received in the result the most decided condemnation, yet no other scheme of finance seemed to have been concurred in. To you, then, who have come more directly from the body of our common constituents, I submit the entire question, as best qualified to give a full exposition of their wishes and opinions. I shall be ready to concur with you in the adoption of such system as you may propose, reserving to myself the ultimate power of rejecting any measure which may, in my view of it, conflict with the Constitution or otherwise jeopardize the prosperity of the country–a power which I could not part with even if I would, but which I will not believe any act of yours will call into requisition.

I can not avoid recurring, in connection with this subject, to the necessity which exists for adopting some suitable measure whereby the unlimited creation of banks by the States may be corrected in future. Such result can be most readily achieved by the consent of the States, to be expressed in the form of a compact among themselves, which they can only enter into with the consent and approbation of this Government–a consent which might in the present emergency of the public demands justifiably be given by Congress in advance of any action by the States, as an inducement to such action, upon terms well defined by the act of tender. Such a measure, addressing itself to the calm reflection of the States, would find in the experience of the past and the condition of the present much to sustain it; and it is greatly to be doubted whether any scheme of finance can prove for any length of time successful while the States shall continue in the unrestrained exercise of the power of creating banking corporations. This power can only be limited by their consent.

With the adoption of a financial agency of a satisfactory character the hope may be indulged that the country may once more return to a state of prosperity. Measures auxiliary thereto, and in some measure inseparably connected with its success, will doubtless claim the attention of Congress. Among such, a distribution of the proceeds of the sales of the public lands, provided such distribution does not force upon Congress the necessity of imposing upon commerce heavier burthens than those contemplated by the act of 1833, would act as an efficient remedial measure by being brought directly in aid of the States. As one sincerely devoted to the task of preserving a just balance in our system of Government by the maintenance of the States in a condition the most free and respectable and in the full possession of all their power, I can no otherwise than feel desirous for their emancipation from the situation to which the pressure on their finances now subjects them. And while I must repudiate, as a measure founded in error and wanting constitutional sanction, the slightest approach to an assumption by this Government of the debts of the States, yet I can see in the distribution adverted to much to recommend it. The compacts between the proprietor States and this Government expressly guarantee to the States all the benefits which may arise from the sales. The mode by which this is to be effected addresses itself to the discretion of Congress as the trustee for the States, and its exercise after the most beneficial manner is restrained by nothing in the grants or in the Constitution so long as Congress shall consult that equality in the distribution which the compacts require. In the present condition of some of the States the question of distribution may be regarded as substantially a question between direct and indirect taxation. If the distribution be not made in some form or other, the necessity will daily become more urgent with the debtor States for a resort to an oppressive system of direct taxation, or their credit, and necessarily their power and influence, will be greatly diminished. The payment of taxes after the most inconvenient and oppressive mode will be exacted in place of contributions for the most part voluntarily made, and therefore comparatively unoppressive. The States are emphatically the constituents of this Government, and we should be entirely regardless of the objects held in view by them in the creation of this Government if we could be indifferent to their good. The happy effects of such a measure upon all the States would immediately be manifested. With the debtor States it would effect the relief to a great extent of the citizens from a heavy burthen of direct taxation, which presses with severity on the laboring classes, and eminently assist in restoring the general prosperity. An immediate advance would take place in the price of the State securities, and the attitude of the States would become once more, as it should ever be, lofty and erect. With States laboring under no extreme pressure from debt, the fund which they would derive from this source would enable them to improve their condition in an eminent degree. So far as this Government is concerned, appropriations to domestic objects approaching in amount the revenue derived from the land sales might be abandoned, and thus a system of unequal, and therefore unjust, legislation would be substituted by one dispensing equality to all the members of this Confederacy. Whether such distribution should be made directly to the States in the proceeds of the sales or in the form of profits by virtue of the operations of any fiscal agency having those proceeds as its basis, should such measure be contemplated by Congress, would well deserve its consideration. Nor would such disposition of the proceeds of the sales in any manner prevent Congress from time to time from passing all necessary preemption laws for the benefit of actual settlers, or from making any new arrangement as to the price of the public lands which might in future be esteemed desirable.

I beg leave particularly to call your attention to the accompanying report from the Secretary of War. Besides the present state of the war which has so long afflicted the Territory of Florida, and the various other matters of interest therein referred to, you will learn from it that the Secretary has instituted an inquiry into abuses, which promises to develop gross enormities in connection with Indian treaties which have been negotiated, as well as in the expenditures for the removal and subsistence of the Indians. He represents also other irregularities of a serious nature that have grown up in the practice of the Indian Department, which will require the appropriation of upward of $200,000 to correct, and which claim the immediate attention of Congress.

In reflecting on the proper means of defending the country we can not shut our eyes to the consequences which the introduction and use of the power of steam upon the ocean are likely to produce in wars between maritime states. We can not yet see the extent to which this power may be applied in belligerent operations, connecting itself as it does with recent improvements in the science of gunnery and projectiles; but we need have no fear of being left, in regard to these things, behind the most active and skillful of other nations if the genius and enterprise of our fellow-citizens receive proper encouragement and direction from Government.

True wisdom would nevertheless seem to dictate the necessity of placing in perfect condition those fortifications which are designed for the protection of our principal cities and roadsteads. For the defense of our extended maritime coast our chief reliance should be placed on our Navy, aided by those inventions which are destined to recommend themselves to public adoption, but no time should be lost in placing our principal cities on the seaboard and the Lakes in a state of entire security from foreign assault. Separated as we are from the countries of the Old World, and in much unaffected by their policy, we are happily relieved from the necessity of maintaining large standing armies in times of peace. The policy which was adopted by Mr. Monroe shortly after the conclusion of the late war with Great Britain of preserving a regularly organized staff sufficient for the command of a large military force should a necessity for one arise is founded as well in economy as in true wisdom. Provision is thus made, upon filling up the rank and file, which can readily be done on any emergency, for the introduction of a system of discipline both promptly and efficiently. All that is required in time of peace is to maintain a sufficient number of men to guard our fortifications, to meet any sudden contingency, and to encounter the first shock of war. Our chief reliance must be placed on the militia; they constitute the great body of national guards, and, inspired by an ardent love of country, will be found ready at all times and at all seasons to repair with alacrity to its defense. It will be regarded by Congress, I doubt not, at a suitable time as one of its highest duties to attend to their complete organization and discipline.

The state of the navy pension fund requires the immediate attention of Congress. By the operation of the act of the 3d of March, 1837, entitled “An act for the more equitable administration of the navy pension fund,” that fund has been exhausted. It will be seen from the accompanying report of the Commissioner of Pensions that there will be required for the payment of navy pensions on the 1st of July next $88,706.06-1/3, and on the 1st of January, 1842, the sum of $69,000. In addition to these sums, about $6,000 will be required to pay arrears of pensions which will probably be allowed between the 1st of July and the 1st of January, 1842, making in the whole $163,706.06-1/3. To meet these payments there is within the control of the Department the sum of $28,040, leaving a deficiency of $139,666.06-1/3. The public faith requires that immediate provision should be made for the payment of these sums.

In order to introduce into the Navy a desirable efficiency, a new system of accountability may be found to be indispensably necessary. To mature a plan having for its object the accomplishment of an end so important and to meet the just expectations of the country require more time than has yet been allowed to the Secretary at the head of the Department. The hope is indulged that by the time of your next regular session measures of importance in connection with this branch of the public service may be matured for your consideration.

Although the laws regulating the Post-Office Department only require from the officer charged with its direction to report at the usual annual session of Congress, the Postmaster-General has presented to me some facts connected with the financial condition of the Department which are deemed worthy the attention of Congress. By the accompanying report of that officer it appears the existing liabilities of that Department beyond the means of payment at its command can not be less than $500,000. As the laws organizing that branch of the public service confine the expenditure to its own revenues, deficiencies therein can not be presented under the usual estimates for the expenses of Government. It must therefore be left to Congress to determine whether the moneys now due the contractors shall be paid from the public Treasury or whether that Department shall continue under its present embarrassments. It will be seen by the report of the Postmaster-General that the recent lettings of contracts in several of the States have been made at such reduced rates of compensation as to encourage the belief that if the Department was relieved from existing difficulties its future operations might be conducted without any further call upon the general Treasury.

The power of appointing to office is one of a character the most delicate and responsible. The appointing power is evermore exposed to be led into error. With anxious solicitude to select the most trustworthy for official station, I can not be supposed to possess a personal knowledge of the qualifications of every applicant. I deem it, therefore, proper in this most public manner to invite on the part of the Senate a just scrutiny into the character and pretensions of every person I may bring to their notice in the regular form of a nomination for office. Unless persons every way trustworthy are employed in the public service, corruption and irregularity will inevitably follow. I shall with the greatest cheerfulness acquiesce in the decision of that body, and, regarding it as wisely constituted to aid the executive department in the performance of this delicate duty, I shall look to its “consent and advice” as given only in furtherance of the best interests of the country. I shall also at the earliest proper occasion invite the attention of Congress to such measures as in my judgment will be best calculated to regulate and control the Executive power in reference to this vitally important subject.

I shall also at the proper season invite your attention to the statutory enactments for the suppression of the slave trade, which may require to be rendered more efficient in their provisions. There is reason to believe that the traffic is on the increase. Whether such increase is to be ascribed to the abolition of slave labor in the British possessions in our vicinity and an attendant diminution in the supply of those articles which enter into the general consumption of the world, thereby augmenting the demand from other quarters, and thus calling for additional labor, it were needless to inquire. The highest considerations of public honor as well as the strongest promptings of humanity require a resort to the most vigorous efforts to suppress the trade.

In conclusion I beg to invite your particular attention to the interests of this District; nor do I doubt but that in a liberal spirit of legislation you will seek to advance its commercial as well as its local interests. Should Congress deem it to be its duty to repeal the existing subtreasury law, the necessity of providing a suitable place of deposit of the public moneys which may be required within the District must be apparent to all.

I have felt it due to the country to present the foregoing topics to your consideration and reflection. Others with which it might not seem proper to trouble you at an extraordinary session will be laid before you at a future day. I am happy in committing the important affairs of the country into your hands. The tendency of public sentiment, I am pleased to believe, is toward the adoption, in a spirit of union and harmony, of such measures as will fortify the public interests. To cherish such a tendency of public opinion is the task of an elevated patriotism. That differences of opinion as to the means of accomplishing these desirable objects should exist is reasonably to be expected. Nor can all be made satisfied with any system of measures; but I flatter myself with the hope that the great body of the people will readily unite in support of those whose efforts spring from a disinterested desire to promote their happiness, to preserve the Federal and State Governments within their respective orbits; to cultivate peace with all the nations of the earth on just and honorable grounds; to exact obedience to the laws; to intrench liberty and property in full security; and, consulting the most rigid economy, to abolish all useless expenses.



CITY OF WASHINGTON, _June 2, 1841_.

_To the Senate and House of Representatives_:

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


WASHINGTON, _June 17, 1841_.

_To the Senate of the United States_

I transmit to the Senate the inclosed communication[1] from the Secretary of State, in answer to a resolution of the Senate of the 12th instant.


[Footnote 1: Relating to the commissioners appointed to investigate the condition of the public works in Washington, D.C., and transmitting copy of the letter of instructions issued to them.]

WASHINGTON, _June 17, 1841_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit to the Senate the inclosed communication from the Secretary of State, in answer to a resolution of the Senate of the 12th instant.


DEPARTMENT OF STATE, _June 15, 1841_.


SIR: In answer to the resolution of the Senate of the 12th instant, calling for “any orders which may have been issued to the officers of the Army and Navy in relation to political offenses in elections,” etc., I inclose a copy of the circular letter addressed, under the direction of the President, by this Department to the heads of the other Departments, and know of no other order to which the resolution can be supposed to have reference.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,



DEPARTMENT OF STATE, _March 20, 1841_.

SIR: The President is of opinion that it is a great abuse to bring the patronage of the General Government into conflict with the freedom of elections, and that this abuse ought to be corrected wherever it may have been permitted to exist, and to be prevented for the future.

He therefore directs that information be given to all officers and agents in your department of the public service that partisan interference in popular elections, whether of State officers or officers of this Government, and for whomsoever or against whomsoever it may be exercised, or the payment of any contribution or assessment on salaries, or official compensation for party or election purposes, will be regarded by him as cause of removal.

It is not intended that any officer shall be restrained in the free and proper expression and maintenance of his opinions respecting public men or public measures, or in the exercise to the fullest degree of the constitutional right of suffrage. But persons employed under the Government and paid for their services out of the public Treasury are not expected to take an active or officious part in attempts to influence the minds or votes of others, such conduct being deemed inconsistent with the spirit of the Constitution and the duties of public agents acting under it; and the President is resolved, so far as depends upon him, that while the exercise of the elective franchise by the people shall be free from undue influences of official station and authority, opinion shall also be free among the officers and agents of the Government.

The President wishes it further to be announced and distinctly understood that from all collecting and disbursing officers promptitude in rendering accounts and entire punctuality in paying balances will be rigorously exacted. In his opinion it is time to return in this respect to the early practice of the Government, and to hold any degree of delinquency on the part of those intrusted with the public money just cause of immediate removal. He deems the severe observance of this rule to be essential to the public service, as every dollar lost to the Treasury by unfaithfulness in office creates a necessity for a new charge upon the people.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,


WASHINGTON, D.C., _June 18, 1841_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit to the Senate a report from the Secretary of the Navy, with accompanying documents,[2] in answer to their resolution of the 12th instant.


[Footnote 2: Correspondence of the minister in England with the officers of the Mediterranean Squadron, in consequence of which the squadron left that station, and the dispatches of Captain Bolton to the Secretary of the Navy connected with that movement.]

WASHINGTON, _June, 1841_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I have the honor to transmit to the Senate the accompanying letter[3] from the Secretary of the Treasury, in pursuance of its resolution of the 8th instant.


[Footnote 3: Relating to allowances since March 4, 1841, of claims arising under the invasion of East Florida in 1812.]

WASHINGTON, _June 22, 1841_.

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

I have the honor to submit the accompanying correspondence between myself and the Hon. J. Burnet, J.C. Wright, and others, who arrived some days ago in this city as a committee on behalf of the people of Cincinnati for the purpose, with the assent of the family, of removing the remains of the late President of the United States to North Bend for interment. I have thought it to be my duty thus to apprise Congress of the contemplated proceedings.


WASHINGTON CITY, _June 16, 1841_.


DEAR SIR: The undersigned were appointed by the citizens and the city council of Cincinnati and by many of the surviving soldiers of the late war to apply to the widow and family of our distinguished fellow-citizen, the late President of the United States, for permission to remove his remains from the city of Washington to the State of Ohio for interment. They have made the application directed, and have received permission to perform that sacred trust. They have now the honor of reporting to you their arrival in this city, and of asking your approbation of the measure contemplated and your cooperation in carrying it into effect.

We are fully aware of the high estimate you placed on the talents and virtues of our lamented friend and fellow-citizen, the late Chief Magistrate of the Union, whose friendship and confidence you possessed many years. We saw the tear fall from your eye and mingle with the tears of the nation when the inscrutable will of Heaven removed him from us.

Knowing these things, we approach you with confidence, well assured that you will justly appreciate our motive for undertaking the mournful duty we have been deputed to perform, and that the same kind feeling which has marked your course through life will prompt you on this occasion to afford us your countenance, and, if necessary, your cooperation.

If it meet your approbation, the committee will do themselves the honor of waiting upon you at the President’s house at any hour you may please to designate.

With high respect, we are, your friends and fellow-citizens,


WASHINGTON, _June 17, 1841_.


GENTLEMEN: Your letter of the 16th was duly handed me, and I lose no time in responding to the feelings and sentiments which you have expressed for yourselves and those you represent, and which you have correctly ascribed to me in regard to the lamented death of the late President. As a citizen I respected him; as a patriot I honored him; as a friend he was near and dear to me. That the people of Cincinnati should desire to keep watch over his remains by entombing them near their city is both natural and becoming; that the entire West, where so many evidences of his public usefulness are to be found, should unite in the same wish was to have been expected; and that the surviving soldiers of his many battles, led on by him to victory and to glory, should sigh to perform the last melancholy duties to the remains of their old commander is fully in consonance with the promptings of a noble and generous sympathy. I could not, if I was authorized to do so, oppose myself to their wishes. I might find something to urge on behalf of his native State in my knowledge of his continued attachment to her through the whole period of his useful life; in the claims of his relatives there, whose desire it would be that the mortal remains of the illustrious son should sleep under the same turf with those of his distinguished father, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence; in the wish of the citizens of his native county to claim all that is now left of him for whom they so lately cast their almost unanimous suffrage; to say nothing of my own feelings, allied as I am by blood to many of his near relatives, and with our names so closely associated in much connected with the late exciting political contest. These considerations might present some reasonable ground for opposing your wishes; but the assent which has been given by his respected widow and nearest relatives to the request of the people of Cincinnati admits of no opposition on my part, neither in my individual nor official character.

I shall feel it to be my duty, however, to submit our correspondence to the two Houses of Congress, now in session, but anticipating no effort from that quarter to thwart the wishes expressed by yourselves in consonance with those of the widow and nearest relatives of the late President. I readily promise you my cooperation toward enabling you to fulfill the sacred trust which brought you to this city.

I tender to each of you, gentlemen, my cordial salutations.


[NOTE.–The remains of the late President of the United States were removed from Washington to North Bend, Ohio, June 26, 1841.]

WASHINGTON, _June 29, 1841_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

In compliance with the resolution of the Senate of the 14th instant, I have the honor to submit the accompanying reports from the Secretary of State and Secretary of the Treasury, which embrace all the information possessed by the executive department upon that subject.[4]


[Footnote 4: Payment or assumption of State stocks by the General Government.]

WASHINGTON, _June 30, 1841_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

The accompanying memorial in favor of the passage of a bankrupt law, signed by nearly 3,000 of the inhabitants of the city of New York, has been forwarded to me, attended by a request that I would submit it to the consideration of Congress. I can not waive a compliance with a request urged upon me by so large and respectable a number of my fellow-citizens. That a bankrupt law, carefully guarded against fraudulent practices and embracing as far as practicable all classes of society–the failure to do which has heretofore constituted a prominent objection to the measure–would afford extensive relief I do not doubt. The distress incident to the derangements of some years past has visited large numbers of our fellow-citizens with hopeless insolvency, whose energies, both mental and physical, by reason of the load of debt pressing upon them, are lost to the country. Whether Congress shall deem it proper to enter upon the consideration of this subject at its present extraordinary session it will doubtless wisely determine. I have fulfilled my duty to the memorialists in submitting their petition to your consideration.


WASHINGTON, _July 1, 1841_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I have the honor herewith to submit to the Senate the copy of a letter addressed by myself to Mrs. Harrison in compliance with the resolutions of Congress, and her reply thereto.


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

WASHINGTON, _June 13, 1841_.


MY DEAR MADAM: The accompanying resolutions, adopted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States, will convey to you an expression of the deep sympathy felt by the representatives of the States and of the people in the sad bereavement which yourself and the country have sustained in the death of your illustrious husband. It may now be justly considered that the public archives constitute his enduring monument, on which are inscribed in characters not to be effaced the proudest evidences of public gratitude for services rendered and of sorrow for his death. A great and united people shed their tears over the bier of a devoted patriot and distinguished public benefactor.

In conveying to you, my dear madam, the profound respect of the two Houses of Congress for your person and character, and their sincere condolence on the late afflicting dispensation of Providence, permit me to mingle my feelings with theirs and to tender you my fervent wishes for your health, happiness, and long life.


A RESOLUTION manifesting the sensibility of Congress upon the event of the death of William Henry Harrison, late President of the United States.

The melancholy event of the death of William Henry Harrison, the late President of the United States, having occurred during the recess of Congress, and the two Houses sharing in the general grief and desiring to manifest their sensibility upon the occasion of that public bereavement: Therefore,

_Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled_, That the chairs of the President of the Senate and of the Speaker of the House of Representatives be shrouded in black during the residue of the session, and that the President _pro tempore_ of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the members and officers of both Houses wear the usual badge of mourning for thirty days.

_Resolved_, That the President of the United States be requested to transmit a copy of these resolutions to Mrs. Harrison, and to assure her of the profound respect of the two Houses of Congress for her person and character, and of their sincere condolence on the late afflicting dispensation of Providence.

NORTH BEND, _June 24, 1841_.

His Excellency JOHN TYLER,

_President United States, Washington City, D.C._

DEAR SIR: I have received with sentiments of deep emotion the resolutions of the Senate and House of Representatives which you have done me the honor of forwarding, relative to the decease of my lamented husband.

I can not sufficiently express the thanks I owe to the nation and its assembled representatives for their condolence, so feelingly expressed, of my individual calamity and the national bereavement; but, mingling my tears with the sighs of the many patriots of the land, pray to Heaven for the enduring happiness and prosperity of our beloved country.


WASHINGTON, _July 3, 1841_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

In compliance with a resolution of the Senate of the 9th instant [ultimo], I communicate to that body a report from the Secretary of State, conveying copies of the correspondence,[5] which contains all the information called for by said resolution.


[Footnote 5: Relating to the duties levied on American tobacco imported into the States composing the German Commercial and Custom-House Union.]

WASHINGTON, _July 9, 1841_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit a report from the Secretary of State, in answer to the resolution of the Senate of the 2d instant, calling for information as to the progress and actual condition of the commission[6] under the convention with the Mexican Republic.


[Footnote 6: Appointed under the convention of April 11, 1839, for adjusting the claims of citizens of the United States upon the Republic of Mexico.]

WASHINGTON, _July, 14, 1841_.

_To the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives_:

In compliance with a resolution of the House of Representatives of the 21st ultimo, I have the honor to submit the accompanying communication[7] from the Secretary of State.


[Footnote 7: Transmitting correspondence with Great Britain relative to the seizure of American vessels by British armed cruisers under the pretense that they were engaged in the slave trade; also correspondence with N.P. Trist, United States consul at Habana, upon the subject of the slave trade, etc.]

WASHINGTON, _July 16, 1841_.

_To the House of Representatives_:

I herewith transmit to the House of Representatives, in reply to their resolution of the 21st ultimo, a report[8] from the Secretary of State, with accompanying papers.


[Footnote 8: Stating that there is no correspondence in his office showing that any American citizens are British prisoners of state in Van Diemens Land; transmitting correspondence with the British minister on the subject of the detention or imprisonment of citizens of the United States on account of occurrences in Canada, instructions issued to the special agent appointed to inquire into such detention or imprisonment, and report of said special agent.]

WASHINGTON, _July 19, 1841_.

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

The act of Congress of the 10th of March, 1838, entitled “An act supplementary to an act entitled ‘An act in addition to the act for the punishment of certain crimes against the United States and to repeal the acts therein mentioned,’ approved 20th of April, 1818,” expired by its own limitation on the 10th of March, 1840. The object of this act was to make further provision for preventing military expeditions or enterprises against the territory or dominions of any prince or state or of any colony, district, or people conterminous with the United States and with whom they are at peace, contrary to the act of April 20, 1818, entitled “An act in addition to the act for the punishment of certain crimes against the United States and to repeal the acts therein mentioned.”

The act of Congress of March 10, 1838, appears to have had a very salutary effect, and it is respectfully recommended to Congress that it be now revived or its provisions be reenacted.


WASHINGTON, _July 27, 1841_.

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

I transmit herewith to Congress a communication from the Secretary of State, on the subject of appropriations required for outfits and salaries of diplomatic agents of the United States.


WASHINGTON, _August 2, 1841_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

On the 18th of February, 1832, the House of Representatives adopted a resolution in the following words:

_Resolved_, That the President of the United States be authorized to employ Horatio Greenough, of Massachusetts, to execute in marble a full-length pedestrian statue of Washington, to be placed in the center of the Rotunda of the Capitol; the head to be a copy of Houdon’s Washington, and the accessories to be left to the judgment of the artist.

On the 23d of the same month the Secretary of State, by direction of the President, addressed to Mr. Greenough a letter of instructions for carrying into effect the resolution of the House.

On the 14th of July, 1832, an appropriation of the sum of $5,000 was made “to enable the President of the United States to contract with a skillful artist to execute in marble a pedestrian statue of George Washington, to be placed in the center of the Rotunda of the Capitol,” and several appropriations were made at the succeeding sessions in furtherance of the same object.

Mr. Greenough, having been employed upon the work for several years at Florence, completed it some months ago.

By a resolution of Congress of the 27th of May, 1840, it was directed “that the Secretary of the Navy be authorized and instructed to take measures for the importation and erection of the statue of Washington by Greenough.” In pursuance of this authority the Navy Department held a correspondence with Commodore Hull, commanding on the Mediterranean station, who entered into an agreement with the owners or master of the ship _Sea_ for the transportation of the statue to the United States. This ship, with the statue on board, arrived in this city on the 31st ultimo, and now lies at the navy-yard.

As appropriations have become necessary for the payment of the freight and other expenses, I communicate to Congress such papers as may enable it to judge of the amount required.


AUGUST 3, 1841.


_Speaker of the House of Representatives_.

SIR: I herewith transmit a communication[9] received from the Postmaster-General, to which I would invite the attention of Congress.


[Footnote 9: Asking for a further appropriation for completing the new General Post-Office building.]

AUGUST 3, 1841.

_To the House of Representatives_:

I herewith transmit a report from the Secretary of the Treasury, to whom I referred the resolution of the House calling for a communication[10] addressed to him by the French minister.


[Footnote 10: Relating to the commerce and navigation between France and the United States.]

WASHINGTON, _August 6, 1841_.

_To the House of Representatives_:

In compliance with a resolution of the House of Representatives of the 16th of July, 1841, I communicate reports[11] from the several Executive Departments, containing the information requested by said resolution.


[Footnote 11: Transmitting list of officers deriving their appointments from the nomination of the President and the concurrence of the Senate who were removed from office since March 4, 1841, and also those who were removed from March 4, 1829, to March 4, 1841.]

WASHINGTON, _August 25, 1841_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I herewith transmit to the Senate, in pursuance of their resolution of the 22d ultimo, copies of the several reports of the commissioners appointed in March last to examine into certain matters connected with the public buildings in this city and the conduct of those employed in their erection.


WASHINGTON, _August 27, 1841_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

I transmit herewith a letter from the Secretary of the Treasury, bearing date this day, with the accompanying papers, in answer to the resolution of the House of Representatives of the 16th ultimo, relative to removals from office, etc.

These statements should have accompanied those from the other Departments on the same subject transmitted in my message to the House on the 7th ultimo,[12] but which have been delayed for reasons stated in the letter of the Secretary of the Treasury above referred to.


[Footnote 12: Not found. Evidently refers to message of August 6, 1841, on preceding page.]

WASHINGTON, D.C., _September 1, 1841_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I submit to the Senate, for its consideration and constitutional action, a treaty concluded at Oeyoowasha, on Minneesota (or St. Peters) River, in the Territory of Iowa, on the 31st day of July last, between James Duane Doty, commissioner on the part of the United States, and the Seeseeahto, Wofpato, and Wofpakoota bands of the Dakota (or Sioux) Nation of Indians.

The accompanying communication from the Secretary of War fully sets forth the considerations which have called for the negotiation of this treaty, and which have induced me to recommend its confirmation, with such exceptions and modifications as the Senate may advise.


DEPARTMENT OF WAR, _August 31, 1841_.


SIR: I transmit herewith a treaty concluded with certain bands of the Dahcota Nation of Indians, commonly called Sioux, which has been received at this Department from His Excellency James D. Doty, governor of Wisconsin, who was appointed a commissioner on the part of the United States for the purpose of negotiating the treaty; and I desire to submit the following facts and opinions inducing me to request its favorable consideration:

It was known on my entering upon the duties of the Department of War that some provision must speedily be made for the Winnebago Indians in the Northwest. By the treaty with those Indians in 1837 it was provided that they should move temporarily upon a narrow strip of country west of the Mississippi River, called the neutral ground, from the object of its purchase in 1830. That strip of country is only 40 miles in width, 20 miles of it having been purchased from the Sac and Fox Indians and 20 miles from the Sioux, the object of the purchase having been to place a barrier between those tribes, which had been for many years at war and parties of which were continually meeting and destroying each other upon or adjacent to the country purchased.

When the delegation of Winnebago chiefs was in Washington negotiating a sale of all their lands east of the Mississippi River, in 1837, a permanent location for those Indians was not fixed upon, and a temporary expedient was adopted, and acceded to by the Indians, by which they agreed, within eight months from the ratification of the treaty, to move upon and occupy a portion of the neutral ground until they should select a permanent home.

Owing to the small extent of country thus temporarily assigned to the Winnebagoes, utterly destitute of all preparation for the reception of them, slenderly supplied with game, and, above all, the circumstance that the Sac and Fox Indians were continually at war with the Sioux, the object of the purchase having utterly failed, the neutral ground, so called, proving literally the fighting ground of the hostile tribes–owing to all these circumstances the Winnebagoes were extremely reluctant to comply with the treaty. It was in part a dictate of humanity to give them more time for removal than that allotted in the treaty, in the hope of effecting their permanent removal beyond the Missouri or elsewhere; but as no steps were taken to select their future home, and as the white settlers in Wisconsin were fast crowding upon the Indians, overrunning the country, as usual, in search of town sites, water privileges, and farming districts, it became absolutely necessary to make some efforts toward carrying the treaty into effect. Owing to the excited state of the Indians and the apprehension of disturbance, the Eighth Regiment of Infantry, in 1840, more than two years, instead of eight months, after the ratification of the treaty, was ordered upon the Winnebago frontier, the greater part of the Fifth Regiment being already there, and in the presence of that force the Indians were required to comply with the treaty. They reluctantly removed from the banks of the Wisconsin River and crossed the Mississippi, but did not go to that portion of the neutral ground agreed upon, which commenced 20 miles from the river, but instead of it they spread themselves along the bank of the Mississippi, some of them recrossing that river and ascending the Chippewa and Black rivers. Only a small portion of the tribe has yet removed to the portion of the neutral ground assigned to them, and it is perhaps fortunate that local attachments have not been formed, since, from the position of the country, it was not and never could have been intended as their permanent home.

After a careful examination of the country in the Northwest the importance of providing for the Winnebago Indians, though immediate, became secondary in a more national and wider prospect of benefits in future years by arrangements which presented themselves to my mind as not only practicable, but of easy accomplishment.

A glance at the map and at the efforts hitherto made in emigration will show an extensive body of Indians accumulated upon the Southwestern frontier, and, looking to the numbers yet to be emigrated from within the circle of territory soon to become States of the American Union, it will appear upon very many considerations to be of the utmost importance to separate the Indians and to interpose a barrier between the masses which are destined to be placed upon the western frontier, instead of accumulating them within limits enabling them to unite and in concert spread desolation over the States of Missouri and Arkansas to, perhaps, the banks of the Mississippi.

Entertaining these views, it was determined to open negotiations with the Sioux Indians north and northwest of the purchase of 1830, the neutral ground, so called, with the purpose of purchasing sufficient territory beyond the reasonable limits of Iowa to provide a resting place for the Winnebagoes, intending to treat also with the Sac and Fox Indians and with the Potawatamies north of the State of Missouri, and thus enable our citizens to expand west of the Missouri River north of the State.

It is difficult to state in a condensed report all the reasons now imperatively urging the adoption of these measures. Besides the absolute necessity of providing a home for the Winnebagoes, the citizens of Iowa and of Missouri are crowding upon the territory of the Sac and Fox Indians and already producing those irritations which in former times have led to bloody wars. It is not to be for a moment concealed that our enterprising and hardy population must and will occupy the territory adjacent to that purchased in 1837 from the Sacs and Foxes, and the only possible mode of its being done in peace is by another purchase from those Indians. But the position of the Potawatamies will then become relatively what that of the Sac and Fox Indians now is, with the difference that access to their country by the Missouri River will hasten its occupancy by our people. The only mode of guarding against future collision, near at hand if not provided against, is by emigrating not only the Sac and Fox Indians, but also the Potawatamies.

Great efforts have been made to induce those Indians, as also the Winnebagoes, to move south of the Missouri, but without effect, their opposition to it being apparently insurmountable, the Potawatamies expressing the most decided aversion to it on being urged to join other bands of Potawatamies on the Marais de Cygne, declaring that they would rather at once go to California, being determined not to unite with those bands, but to maintain an independence of them. By the purchase from the Sioux no doubt is entertained that their prejudices may be advantageously accommodated, for among the objects in contemplation before adverted to it is to my mind of primary importance so to dispose of those Indians as to enable this Government to interpose a State between the Northern and Southern Indians along the Missouri River, and thus, by dividing the Indians on the frontier and separating the divisions, prevent a combination and concert of action which future progress in civilization might otherwise enable them to effect in the prosecution of revenge for real or imagined grievances.

Great importance is attached to this view of the subject, but scarcely less to the means provided by the treaty for inducing the remnants of other Northern tribes to remove to a climate congenial to their habits and disposition.

From the earliest efforts at emigration certain Northern Indians have strenuously objected to a removal south of the Missouri on account of the climate; and where tribes have been induced to dispose of all right to live east of the Mississippi within the United States, many individuals, dreading their southern destination, have wandered to the north and are now living in Canada, annually in the receipt of presents from the British Government, and will be ready without doubt to side with that power in any future conflict with this Government. In this manner considerable numbers of the Delawares and Shawnees and other Indians have disappeared from our settlements–a fact of great importance, and which I apprehend has not been heretofore sufficiently considered. There are many Potawatamies and Ottawas, as also Winnebagoes and Menomonees, who may be easily induced to move into Canada by seductive bribes, in the use of which the British Government has always displayed a remarkable foresight.

Of the Chippewas and Ottawas now in the northern part of Michigan it is believed there are over 5,000 under treaty obligations to remove to the Southwest, the greater portion of whom openly declared their determination to cross the line into Canada and put themselves under the protection of the British Government in preference to a removal to that country. These Indians may be accommodated by the arrangements in contemplation, not only to their own satisfaction, but under circumstances promising the greatest permanent advantages to the United States, and separating them from all inducements and even the possibility of entering the British service. I am not without hope, also, that through this treaty some suitable and acceptable arrangement may be made with the New York Indians by which they may be removed with safety to themselves and benefit to the people of that State. The very peculiar situation of these Indians is well known; that while they are under treaty obligation to remove, the treaty being by the Constitution the supreme law of the land and perfecting in this instance the title of the land they occupy in a private land company, there is yet every reason to sympathize with them and the highest moral inducements for extending every possible relief to them within the legitimate powers of the Government. I have been assured from sources entitled to my fullest confidence that although these Indians have hitherto expressed the most decided aversion to a removal south of the Missouri, there will probably be no difficulty in persuading them to occupy a more northern region in the West. I have every reason for believing that a benevolent interest in their behalf among a portion of our own people, which, it is supposed, has heretofore presented an obstacle to their emigration, will be exerted to effect their removal if a portion of the Sioux country can be appropriated to them.

It will be perceived, therefore, that a multitude of objects thus rest upon the success of this one treaty, now submitted for examination and approbation.

Of the Sioux Indians I will but remark that they occupy an immense country spreading from the Mississippi north of the neutral ground west and northwest, crossing the Missouri River more than 1,200 miles above the city of St. Louis. They are divided into bands, which have various names, the generic name for the whole being the Dahcota Nation. These bands, though speaking a common language, are independent in their occupancy of portions of country, and separate treaties may be made with them. Treaties are already subsisting with some of the bands both on the Mississippi and Missouri. The treaty now submitted is believed to be advantageous, and from its provisions contemplates the reduction of those wandering Indians from their nomadic habits to those of an agricultural people.

If some of the provisions seem not such as might be desired, it will be recollected that many interests have to be accommodated in framing an Indian treaty which can only be fully known to the commissioner, who derives his information directly from the Indians in the country which is the object of the purchase.

It is proper to add that I had instructed the commissioner expressly not to take into consideration what are called traders’ claims, in the hope of correcting a practice which, it is believed, has been attended with mischievous consequences; but the commissioner has by a letter of explanations fully satisfied me that in this instance it was absolutely necessary to accommodate those claims as an indispensable means of obtaining the assent of the Indians to the treaty. This results, doubtless, from their dependence upon the traders for articles, in a measure necessaries, which are for the most part furnished without competition, and of the proper value of which the Indians are ignorant.

To compensate in some degree for the article in this treaty providing for the payment of traders’ claims, very judicious guards are introduced into the treaty, calculated effectually to exclude that source of interest adverse to the Government in all future time within the purchase under this treaty.

There are other articles in the treaty which I have not been able fully to realize as judicious or necessary, but for reasons already stated they deserve respectful consideration.

Notwithstanding the article stipulating that a rejection of any of the provisions of the treaty should render the whole null and void, I would respectfully recommend such modified acceptance of the treaty as in the wisdom of the Senate may seem just and proper, conditioned upon the assent of the Indians subsequently to be obtained, the Senate making provision for its reference back to the Indians if necessary.

It will be seen that the treaty provides for a power of regulation in the Indian Territory by the United States Government under circumstances not hitherto attempted, presenting an opportunity for an experiment well worthy of mature consideration.

I ought not to dismiss this subject without adverting to one other important consideration connected with the integrity of our Northwest Indians and Territory. The Sioux treaty will effectually withdraw from British influence all those who are a party to it by making them stipendiaries of the United States and by operating a change in their wandering habits and establishing them at known and fixed points under the observation of Government agents, and as the British can only have access to that region by the way of Fond du Lac, one or two small military posts in a direction west and south from that point, it is believed, will completely control all intercourse with the Indians in that section of country.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


WASHINGTON, _September 6, 1841_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I have the honor, in compliance with the resolution of the Senate of the 8th June, to communicate a letter[13] from the Secretary of the Treasury and the correspondence accompanying it.


[Footnote 13: Relating to the deposits of public moneys in banks by disbursing officers and agents.]

WASHINGTON, _September 13, 1841_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

In compliance with a resolution of the Senate of the 14th July last, I communicate to the Senate a report from the Secretary of State, accompanied by copies of the correspondence[14] called for by said resolution.


[Footnote 14: Relating to the origin, progress, and conclusion of the treaty of November 26, 1838, between Sardinia and the United States.]


WASHINGTON, _August 16, 1841_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

The bill entitled “An act to incorporate the subscribers to the Fiscal Bank of the United States,” which originated in the Senate, has been considered by me with a sincere desire to conform my action in regard to it to that of the two Houses of Congress. By the Constitution it is made my duty either to approve the bill by signing it or to return it with my objections to the House in which it originated. I can not conscientiously give it my approval, and I proceed to discharge the duty required of me by the Constitution–to give my reasons for disapproving.

The power of Congress to create a national bank to operate _per se_ over the Union has been a question of dispute from the origin of the Government. Men most justly and deservedly esteemed for their high intellectual endowments, their virtue, and their patriotism have in regard to it entertained different and conflicting opinions; Congresses have differed; the approval of one President has been followed by the disapproval of another; the people at different times have acquiesced in decisions both for and against. The country has been and still is deeply agitated by this unsettled question. It will suffice for me to say that my own opinion has been uniformly proclaimed to be against the exercise of any such power by this Government. On all suitable occasions during a period of twenty-five years the opinion thus entertained has been unreservedly expressed. I declared it in the legislature of my native State; in the House of Representatives of the United States it has been openly vindicated by me; in the Senate Chamber, in the presence and hearing of many who are at this time members of that body, it has been affirmed and reaffirmed in speeches and reports there made and by votes there recorded; in popular assemblies I have unhesitatingly announced it, and the last public declaration which I made–and that but a short time before the late Presidential election–I referred to my previously expressed opinions as being those then entertained by me. With a full knowledge of the opinions thus entertained and never concealed, I was elected by the people Vice-President of the United States. By the occurrence of a contingency provided for in the Constitution and arising under an impressive dispensation of Providence I succeeded to the Presidential office. Before entering upon the duties of that office I took an oath that I would “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Entertaining the opinions alluded to and having taken this oath, the Senate and the country will see that I could not give my sanction to a measure of the character described without surrendering all claim to the respect of honorable men, all confidence on the part of the people, all self-respect, all regard for moral and religious obligations, without an observance of which no government can be prosperous and no people can be happy. It would be to commit a crime which I would not willfully commit to gain any earthly reward, and which would justly subject me to the ridicule and scorn of all virtuous men.

I deem it entirely unnecessary at this time to enter upon the reasons which have brought my mind to the convictions I feel and entertain on this subject. They have been over and over again repeated. If some of those who have preceded me in this high office have entertained and avowed different opinions, I yield all confidence that their convictions were sincere. I claim only to have the same measure meted out to myself. Without going further into the argument, I will say that in looking to the powers of this Government to collect, safely keep, and disburse the public revenue, and incidentally to regulate the commerce and exchanges, I have not been able to satisfy myself that the establishment by this Government of a bank of discount in the ordinary acceptation of that term was a necessary means or one demanded by propriety to execute those powers. What can the local discounts of the bank have to do with the collecting, safe-keeping, and disbursing of the revenue? So far as the mere discounting of paper is concerned, it is quite immaterial to this question whether the discount is obtained at a State bank or a United States bank. They are both equally local, both beginning and both ending in a local accommodation. What influence have local discounts granted by any form of bank in the regulating of the currency and the exchanges? Let the history of the late United States Bank aid us in answering this inquiry.

For several years after the establishment of that institution it dealt almost exclusively in local discounts, and during that period the country was for the most part disappointed in the consequences anticipated from its incorporation. A uniform currency was not provided, exchanges were not regulated, and little or nothing was added to the general circulation, and in 1820 its embarrassments had become so great that the directors petitioned Congress to repeal that article of the charter which made its notes receivable everywhere in payment of the public dues. It had up to that period dealt to but a very small extent in exchanges, either foreign or domestic, and as late as 1823 its operations in that line amounted to a little more than $7,000,000 per annum. A very rapid augmentation soon after occurred, and in 1833 its dealings in the exchanges amounted to upward of $100,000,000, including the sales of its own drafts; and all these immense transactions were effected without the employment of extraordinary means. The currency of the country became sound, and the negotiations in the exchanges were carried on at the lowest possible rates. The circulation was increased to more than $22,000,000 and the notes of the bank were regarded as equal to specie all over the country, thus showing almost conclusively that it was the capacity to deal in exchanges, and not in local discounts, which furnished these facilities and advantages. It may be remarked, too, that notwithstanding the immense transactions of the bank in the purchase of exchange, the losses sustained were merely nominal, while in the line of discounts the suspended debt was enormous and proved most disastrous to the bank and the country. Its power of local discount has in fact proved to be a fruitful source of favoritism and corruption, alike destructive to the public morals and to the general weal.

The capital invested in banks of discount in the United States, created by the States, at this time exceeds $350,000,000, and if the discounting of local paper could have produced any beneficial effects the United States ought to possess the soundest currency in the world; but the reverse is lamentably the fact.

Is the measure now under consideration of the objectionable character to which I have alluded? It is clearly so unless by the sixteenth fundamental article of the eleventh section it is made otherwise. That article is in the following words:

The directors of the said corporation shall establish one competent office of discount and deposit in any State in which two thousand shares shall have been subscribed or may be held, whenever, upon application of the legislature of such State, Congress may by law require the same. And the said directors may also establish one or more competent offices of discount and deposit in any Territory or District of the United States, and in any State with the assent of such State, and when established the said office or offices shall be only withdrawn or removed by the said directors prior to the expiration of this charter with the previous assent of Congress: _Provided_, In respect to any State which shall not, at the first session of the legislature thereof held after the passage of this act, by resolution or other usual legislative proceeding, unconditionally assent or dissent to the establishment of such office or offices within it, such assent of the said State shall be thereafter presumed: _And provided, nevertheless_, That whenever it shall become necessary and proper for carrying into execution any of the powers granted by the Constitution to establish an office or offices in any of the States whatever, and the establishment thereof shall be directed by law, it shall be the duty of the said directors to establish such office or offices accordingly.

It will be seen that by this clause the directors are invested with the fullest power to establish a branch in any State which has yielded its assent; and having once established such branch, it shall not afterwards be withdrawn except by order of Congress. Such assent is to be _implied_ and to have the force and sanction of an actually expressed assent, “provided, in respect to any State which shall not, at _the first session_ of the legislature thereof held after the passage of this act, by _resolution_ or _other usual legislative proceeding, unconditionally_ assent or dissent to the establishment of such office or offices within it, such assent of said State shall be thereafter presumed.” The assent or dissent is to be expressed _unconditionally at the first session of the legislature, by some formal legislative act;_ and if not so expressed its assent is to be _implied_, and the directors are thereupon invested with power, at such time thereafter as they may please, to establish branches, which can not afterwards be withdrawn except by resolve of Congress. No matter what may be the cause which may operate with the legislature, which either prevents it from speaking or addresses itself to its wisdom, to induce delay, its assent is to be implied. This iron rule is to give way to no circumstances; it is unbending and inflexible. It is the language of the master to the vassal; an unconditional answer is claimed forthwith, and delay, postponement, or incapacity to answer produces an implied assent which is ever after irrevocable. Many of the State elections have already taken place without any knowledge on the part of the people that such a question was to come up. The representatives may desire a submission of the question to their constituents preparatory to final action upon it, but this high privilege is denied; whatever may be the motives and views entertained by the representatives of the people to induce delay, their assent is to be presumed, and is ever afterwards binding unless their dissent shall be unconditionally expressed at their first session after the passage of this bill into a law. They may by formal resolution declare the question of assent or dissent to be undecided and postponed, and yet, in opposition to their express declaration to the contrary, their assent is to be implied. Cases innumerable might be cited to manifest the irrationality of such an inference. Let one or two in addition suffice. The popular branch of the legislature may express its dissent by an unanimous vote, and its resolution may be defeated by a tie vote of the senate, and yet the assent is to be implied. Both branches of the legislature may concur in a resolution of decided dissent, and yet the governor may exert the _veto_ power conferred on him by the State constitution, and their legislative action be defeated, and yet the assent of the legislative authority is implied, and the directors of this contemplated institution are authorized to establish a branch or branches in such State whenever they may find it conducive to the interest of the stockholders to do so; and having once established it they can under no circumstances withdraw it except by act of Congress. The State may afterwards protest against such unjust inference, but its authority is gone. Its assent is implied by its failure or inability to act at its first session, and its voice can never afterwards be heard. To inferences so violent and, as they seem to me, irrational I can not yield my consent. No court of justice would or could sanction them without reversing all that is established in judicial proceeding by introducing presumptions at variance with fact and inferences at the expense of reason. A State in a condition of duress would be _presumed_ to speak as an individual manacled and in prison might be presumed to be in the enjoyment of freedom. Far better to say to the States boldly and frankly, Congress wills and submission is demanded.

It may be said that the directors may not establish branches under such circumstances; but this is a question of power, and this bill invests them with full authority to do so. If the legislature of New York or Pennsylvania or any other State should be found to be in such condition as I have supposed, could there be any security furnished against such a step on the part of the directors? Nay, is it not fairly to be presumed that this proviso was introduced for the sole purpose of meeting the contingency referred to? Why else should it have been introduced? And I submit to the Senate whether it can be believed that any State would be likely to sit quietly down under such a state of things. In a great measure of public interest their patriotism may be successfully appealed to, but to infer their assent from circumstances at war with such inference I can not but regard as calculated to excite a feeling at fatal enmity with the peace and harmony of the country. I must therefore regard this clause as asserting the power to be in Congress to establish offices of discount in a State not only without its assent, but against its dissent, and so regarding it I can not sanction it. On general principles the right in Congress to prescribe terms to any State implies a superiority of power and control, deprives the transaction of all pretense to compact between them, and terminates, as we have seen, in the total abrogation of freedom of action on the part of the States. But, further, the State may express, after the most solemn form of legislation, its dissent, which may from time to time thereafter be repeated in full view of its own interest, which can never be separated from the wise and beneficent operation of this Government, and yet Congress may by virtue of the last proviso overrule its law, and upon grounds which to such State will appear to rest on a constructive necessity and propriety and nothing more. I regard the bill as asserting for Congress the right to incorporate a United States bank with power and right to establish offices of discount and deposit in the several States of this Union with or without their consent–a principle to which I have always heretofore been opposed and which can never obtain my sanction; and waiving all other considerations growing out of its other provisions, I return it to the House in which it originated with these my objections to its approval.


WASHINGTON, _September 9, 1841_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

It is with extreme regret that I feel myself constrained by the duty faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and to the best of my ability to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States” to return to the House in which it originated the bill “to provide for the better collection, safe-keeping, and disbursement of the public revenue by means of a corporation to be styled the Fiscal Corporation of the United States,” with my written objections.

In my message sent to the Senate on the 16th day of August last, returning the bill “to incorporate the subscribers to the Fiscal Bank of the United States,” I distinctly declared that my own opinion had been uniformly proclaimed to be against the exercise “of the power of Congress to create a national bank to operate _per se_ over the Union,” and, entertaining that opinion, my main objection to that bill was based upon the highest moral and religious obligations of conscience and the Constitution. I readily admit that whilst the qualified _veto_ with which the Chief Magistrate is invested should be regarded and was intended by the wise men who made it a part of the Constitution as a great conservative principle of our system, without the exercise of which on important occasions a mere representative majority might urge the Government in its legislation beyond the limits fixed by its framers