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

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This volume, the fifth of the series, comprises a period of twelve
years. It includes the four years' term of the Taylor-Fillmore
Administration and the full terms of Presidents Pierce and Buchanan.
This brings the history down to March 4, 1861, the beginning of the late
war between the States. These twelve years form an important and
eventful epoch in the affairs of our country, as they immediately
precede the war and cover the official utterances of the Executives
during this period. Some of the more important events and incidents of
these twelve years are the Bulwer-Clayton treaty with Great Britain for
a joint occupancy of the proposed ship canal through Central America;
the compromise measures of 1850; the admission of California, Minnesota,
Oregon, and Kansas as States; the Gadsden purchase, by which the United
States acquired 45,535 square miles of territory, being portions of
Arizona and New Mexico; the Kansas-Nebraska legislation; the famous Dred
Scott decision; the John Brown insurrection, and the disruption of the
Democratic party in the national campaign of 1860.

This volume contains several veto messages which are interesting. By
President Pierce, vetoes of "An act making a grant of public lands to
the several States for the benefit of indigent insane persons;" of six
acts relating to internal improvements; of an act for a subsidy for
ocean mails, and of an act for the ascertainment and allowance of French
spoliation claims. By President Buchanan, vetoes of an act granting
lands for agricultural purposes; of two acts relating to internal
improvements, and of a homestead act.

Interesting reading is furnished in the protests of President Buchanan
against the action of the House of Representatives in ordering the
appointment of a committee to investigate the conduct of the President.
The careful reader will find in this volume errors which the compiler
could not correct. For instance, on page 410 certain figures are given
from a report of the Postmaster-General, which when added do not produce
the total given. The error may arise from the failure to make the proper
addition, or it may be that the total is correct and that the figures
first given are incorrect. The original message contains the same error.
Similar errors occur elsewhere in the compilation. These matters are,
however, trivial and perhaps need not have been mentioned.

JULY 4, 1897.

Zachary Taylor

March 5, 1849, to July 9, 1850

Zachary Taylor

Zachary Taylor was born in Orange County, Va., November 24, 1784. He was
the third son of Richard Taylor, a colonel in the War of the Revolution,
who was conspicuous for his zeal and courage. In 1785 his father removed
to Kentucky, then a sparsely occupied county of Virginia, and made his
home near the present city of Louisville, where he died. Zachary had but
little opportunity for attending school in this new settlement, but was
surrounded during all the years of his childhood and early manhood by
conditions and circumstances well adapted to form the character
illustrated by his eventful career. In 1808 he was appointed a
Lieutenant in the Seventh Infantry, and in 1810 was promoted to the
grade of captain in the same regiment. The same year was married to Miss
Margaret Smith, of Maryland. For meritorious conduct in defending Fort
Harrison, on the Wabash River, against the Indians received the brevet
of major. In 1814 commanded in a campaign against hostile Indians and
their British allies on Rock River. Was made lieutenant-colonel of the
First Infantry in 1819, and in 1832 became full colonel of that
regiment, with headquarters at Fort Crawford, Prairie du Chien. Was
occupied with his regiment fighting the Indians in the Black Hawk and
other campaigns until 1836, when he was transferred to Florida for
service in the Seminole War. For gallant conduct there the next year
received the brevet of brigadier-general, and in 1838 was appointed to
the chief command in Florida. In 1840 was assigned to command the
southern division of the western department of the Army. About this time
he made his family home at Baton Rouge, La. In 1845 was ordered to the
defense of Texas, which had been annexed to the United States. He went
to Corpus Christi, and on March 8, 1846, advanced, and after some
fighting, in which he routed and drove the enemy across the Rio Grande,
on May 18 occupied Matamoras. He remained there for a short period,
obtaining reenforcements. In September fought the enemy at Monterey and
captured that town. The following February fought and won the battle of
Buena Vista. In the meantime, besides engagements less important, he had
won the victories of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma, which created
great enthusiasm throughout the Union. The terms of capitulation granted
by him to the enemy at Monterey were not approved by the Government at
Washington. Soon after the battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma
he received the rank of brevet major-general, and on June 27, 1846, was
appointed major-general and was commander in chief of all the American
forces in Mexico until Major-General Scott was ordered there in 1846.
The latter part of November returned to his home in Louisiana. Upon his
return to the United States he was received wherever he went with
popular demonstrations. Was nominated for President by the national
convention of the Whig party at Philadelphia on June 7, 1848, on the
fourth ballot, defeating General Scott, Mr. Clay, and Mr. Webster. At
the election on November 7 the Whig ticket (Taylor and Fillmore) was
successful, receiving 163 electoral votes, while the Democratic
candidates (Cass and Butler) each received 127 votes. He was inaugurated
March 5, 1849, and died in Washington City July 9, 1850. Was buried in
Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Ky.


Elected by the American people to the highest office known to our laws,
I appear here to take the oath prescribed by the Constitution, and, in
compliance with a time-honored custom, to address those who are now

The confidence and respect shown by my countrymen in calling me to be
the Chief Magistrate of a Republic holding a high rank among the nations
of the earth have inspired me with feelings of the most profound
gratitude; but when I reflect that the acceptance of the office which
their partiality has bestowed imposes the discharge of the most arduous
duties and involves the weightiest obligations, I am conscious that the
position which I have been called to fill, though sufficient to satisfy
the loftiest ambition, is surrounded by fearful responsibilities.
Happily, however, in the performance of my new duties I shall not be
without able cooperation. The legislative and judicial branches of the
Government present prominent examples of distinguished civil attainments
and matured experience, and it shall be my endeavor to call to my
assistance in the Executive Departments individuals whose talents,
integrity, and purity of character will furnish ample guaranties for the
faithful and honorable performance of the trusts to be committed to
their charge. With such aids and an honest purpose to do whatever is
right, I hope to execute diligently, impartially, and for the best
interests of the country the manifold duties devolved upon me.

In the discharge of these duties my guide will be the Constitution,
which I this day swear to "preserve, protect, and defend." For the
interpretation of that instrument I shall look to the decisions of the
judicial tribunals established by its authority and to the practice of
the Government under the earlier Presidents, who had so large a share in
its formation. To the example of those illustrious patriots I shall
always defer with reverence, and especially to his example who was by so
many titles "the Father of his Country."

To command the Army and Navy of the United States; with the advice and
consent of the Senate, to make treaties and to appoint ambassadors and
other officers; to give to Congress information of the state of the
Union and recommend such measures as he shall judge to be necessary; and
to take care that the laws shall be faithfully executed--these are the
most important functions intrusted to the President by the Constitution,
and it may be expected that I shall briefly indicate the principles
which will control me in their execution.

Chosen by the body of the people under the assurance that my
Administration would be devoted to the welfare of the whole country, and
not to the support of any particular section or merely local interest, I
this day renew the declarations I have heretofore made and proclaim my
fixed determination to maintain to the extent of my ability the
Government in its original purity and to adopt as the basis of my public
policy those great republican doctrines which constitute the strength of
our national existence.

In reference to the Army and Navy, lately employed with so much
distinction on active service, care shall be taken to insure the highest
condition of efficiency, and in furtherance of that object the military
and naval schools, sustained by the liberality of Congress, shall
receive the special attention of the Executive.

As American freemen we can not but sympathize in all efforts to extend
the blessings of civil and political liberty, but at the same time we
are warned by the admonitions of history and the voice of our own
beloved Washington to abstain from entangling alliances with foreign
nations. In all disputes between conflicting governments it is our
interest not less than our duty to remain strictly neutral, while our
geographical position, the genius of our institutions and our people,
the advancing spirit of civilization, and, above all, the dictates of
religion direct us to the cultivation of peaceful and friendly relations
with all other powers. It is to be hoped that no international question
can now arise which a government confident in its own strength and
resolved to protect its own just rights may not settle by wise
negotiation; and it eminently becomes a government like our own, founded
on the morality and intelligence of its citizens and upheld by their
affections, to exhaust every resort of honorable diplomacy before
appealing to arms. In the conduct of our foreign relations I shall
conform to these views, as I believe them essential to the best
interests and the true honor of the country.

The appointing power vested in the President imposes delicate and
onerous duties. So far as it is possible to be informed, I shall make
honesty, capacity, and fidelity indispensable prerequisites to the
bestowal of office, and the absence of either of these qualities shall
be deemed sufficient cause for removal.

It shall be my study to recommend such constitutional measures to
Congress as may be necessary and proper to secure encouragement and
protection to the great interests of agriculture, commerce, and
manufactures, to improve our rivers and harbors, to provide for the
speedy extinguishment of the public debt, to enforce a strict
accountability on the part of all officers of the Government and the
utmost economy in all public expenditures; but it is for the wisdom of
Congress itself, in which all legislative powers are vested by the
Constitution, to regulate these and other matters of domestic policy. I
shall look with confidence to the enlightened patriotism of that body to
adopt such measures of conciliation as may harmonize conflicting
interests and tend to perpetuate that Union which should be the
paramount object of our hopes and affections. In any action calculated
to promote an object so near the heart of everyone who truly loves his
country I will zealously unite with the coordinate branches of the

In conclusion I congratulate you, my fellow-citizens, upon the high
state of prosperity to which the goodness of Divine Providence has
conducted our common country. Let us invoke a continuance of the same
protecting care which has led us from small beginnings to the eminence
we this day occupy, and let us seek to deserve that continuance by
prudence and moderation in our councils, by well-directed attempts to
assuage the bitterness which too often marks unavoidable differences of
opinion, by the promulgation and practice of just and liberal
principles, and by an enlarged patriotism, which shall acknowledge no
limits but those of our own widespread Republic.

MARCH 5, 1849.


WASHINGTON, _March 13, 1849_.

_To the Senate of the United States:_

I herewith communicate to the Senate, in confidence, a report and
accompanying papers[1a] from the Secretary of State, in answer to its
resolution of the 12th instant.

[Footnote 1a: Instructions to United States minister at London relative
to further extension of reciprocity and equality in the laws of
navigation, and contemplating the opening of the coasting trade of the
United States to the vessels of other nations.]


WASHINGTON, _March 20, 1849_.

_To the Senate of the United States:_

In answer to the resolution of the Senate of yesterday, passed in
executive session, requesting a communication of certain papers relative
to the amendments made by the Senate to the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo,
I transmit a report from the Secretary of State and the documents by
which it was accompanied. It is desirable that the latter should be
returned to the Department of State.


WASHINGTON, _March 22, 1849_.

_To the Senate of the United States:_

In compliance with the request contained in the resolution of the Senate
yesterday, adopted in executive session, calling for certain papers in
relation to the amendments made by the Senate in the treaty of Guadalupe
Hidalgo, I transmit a report from the Secretary of State and the
documents by which it was accompanied.





There is reason to believe that an armed expedition is about to be
fitted out in the United States with an intention to invade the island
of Cuba or some of the Provinces of Mexico. The best information which
the Executive has been able to obtain points to the island of Cuba as
the object of this expedition. It is the duty of this Government to
observe the faith of treaties and to prevent any aggression by our
citizens upon the territories of friendly nations. I have therefore
thought it necessary and proper to issue this my proclamation to warn
all citizens of the United States who shall connect themselves with an
enterprise so grossly in violation of our laws and our treaty
obligations that they will thereby subject themselves to the heavy
penalties denounced against them by our acts of Congress and will
forfeit their claim to the protection of their country. No such persons
must expect the interference of this Government in any form on their
behalf, no matter to what extremities they may be reduced in consequence
of their conduct. An enterprise to invade the territories of a friendly
nation, set on foot and prosecuted within the limits of the United
States, is in the highest degree criminal, as tending to endanger the
peace and compromit the honor of this nation; and therefore I exhort all
good citizens, as they regard our national reputation, as they respect
their own laws and the laws of nations, as they value the blessings of
peace and the welfare of their country, to discountenance and prevent by
all lawful means any such enterprise; and I call upon every officer of
this Government, civil or military, to use all efforts in his power to
arrest for trial and punishment every such offender against the laws
providing for the performance of our sacred obligations to friendly

Given under my hand the 11th day of August, A.D. 1849, and the
seventy-fourth of the Independence of the United States.


By the President:
_Secretary of State_.





_Washington, June 19, 1849_.

I. The following orders of the President of the United States and
Secretary of War communicate to the Army the death of the late
ex-President, James K. Polk:

WASHINGTON, _June 19, 1849_.

The President with deep regret announces to the American people the
death of James K. Polk, late President of the United States, which
occurred at Nashville on the 15th instant.

A nation is suddenly called upon to mourn the loss of one the
recollection of whose long services in its councils will be forever
preserved on the tablets of history.

As a mark of respect to the memory of a citizen who has been
distinguished by the highest honors which his country could bestow, it
is ordered that the Executive Mansion and the several Departments at
Washington be immediately placed in mourning and all business be
suspended during to-morrow.

It is further ordered that the War and Navy Departments cause suitable
military and naval honors to be paid on this occasion to the memory of
the illustrious dead.


WAR DEPARTMENT, _June 19, 1849_.

The President of the United States with deep regret announces to the
Army the death of James K. Polk, our distinguished and honored

He died at Nashville the 15th instant, having but recently left the
theater of his high public duties at this capital and retired to his
home amid the congratulations of his fellow-citizens. He died in the
prime of life, after having received and enjoyed the highest honors of
the Republic.

His Administration was eventful. No branch of the Government will be
more intimately associated with it in history than the Army and its
glorious achievements. Accordingly, the President orders that
appropriate military honors shall be paid to his memory by the Army of
the United States.

The Adjutant-General will give the necessary instructions for carrying
into effect the foregoing orders.


_Secretary of War_.

II. On the day succeeding the arrival of this general order at each
military post the troops will be paraded at 10 o'clock a.m. and the
order read to them, after which all labors for the day will cease.

The national flag will be displayed at half-staff.

At dawn of day thirteen guns will be fired, and afterwards at intervals
of thirty minutes between the rising and setting sun a single gun, and
at the close of the day a national salute of thirty guns.

The officers of the Army will wear crape on the left arm and on their
swords and the colors of the several regiments will be put in mourning
for the period of six months.

By order:




WASHINGTON, _December 4, 1849_.

_Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:_

Sixty years have elapsed since the establishment of this Government, and
the Congress of the United States again assembles to legislate for an
empire of freemen. The predictions of evil prophets, who formerly
pretended to foretell the downfall of our institutions, are now
remembered only to be derided, and the United States of America at this
moment present to the world the most stable and permanent Government on

Such is the result of the labors of those who have gone before us. Upon
Congress will eminently depend the future maintenance of our system of
free government and the transmission of it unimpaired to posterity.

We are at peace with all the other nations of the world, and seek to
maintain our cherished relations of amity with them. During the past
year we have been blessed by a kind Providence with an abundance of the
fruits of the earth, and although the destroying angel for a time
visited extensive portions of our territory with the ravages of a
dreadful pestilence, yet the Almighty has at length deigned to stay his
hand and to restore the inestimable blessing of general health to a
people who have acknowledged His power, deprecated His wrath, and
implored His merciful protection.

While enjoying the benefits of amicable intercourse with foreign
nations, we have not been insensible to the distractions and wars which
have prevailed in other quarters of the world. It is a proper theme of
thanksgiving to Him who rules the destinies of nations that we have been
able to maintain amidst all these contests an independent and neutral
position toward all belligerent powers.

Our relations with Great Britain are of the most friendly character. In
consequence of the recent alteration of the British navigation acts,
British vessels, from British and other foreign ports, will under our
existing laws, after the 1st day of January next, be admitted to entry
in our ports with cargoes of the growth, manufacture, or production of
any part of the world on the same terms as to duties, imposts, and
charges as vessels of the United States with their cargoes, and our
vessels will be admitted to the same advantages in British ports,
entering therein on the same terms as British vessels. Should no order
in council disturb this legislative arrangement, the late act of the
British Parliament, by which Great Britain is brought within the terms
proposed by the act of Congress of the 1st of March, 1817, it is hoped
will be productive of benefit to both countries.

A slight interruption of diplomatic intercourse which occurred between
this Government and France, I am happy to say, has been terminated, and
our minister there has been received. It is therefore unnecessary to
refer now to the circumstances which led to that interruption. I need
not express to you the sincere satisfaction with which we shall welcome
the arrival of another envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary
from a sister Republic to which we have so long been, and still remain,
bound by the strongest ties of amity.

Shortly after I had entered upon the discharge of the Executive duties I
was apprised that a war steamer belonging to the German Empire was being
fitted out in the harbor of New York with the aid of some of our naval
officers, rendered under the permission of the late Secretary of the
Navy. This permission was granted during an armistice between that
Empire and the Kingdom of Denmark, which had been engaged in the
Schleswig-Holstein war. Apprehensive that this act of intervention on
our part might be viewed as a violation of our neutral obligations
incurred by the treaty with Denmark and of the provisions of the act of
Congress of the 20th of April, 1818, I directed that no further aid
should be rendered by any agent or officer of the Navy; and I instructed
the Secretary of State to apprise the minister of the German Empire
accredited to this Government of my determination to execute the law of
the United States and to maintain the faith of treaties with all
nations. The correspondence which ensued between the Department of State
and the minister of the German Empire is herewith laid before you. The
execution of the law and the observance of the treaty were deemed by me
to be due to the honor of the country, as well as to the sacred
obligations of the Constitution. I shall not fail to pursue the same
course should a similar case arise with any other nation. Having avowed
the opinion on taking the oath of office that in disputes between
conflicting foreign governments it is our interest not less than our
duty to remain strictly neutral, I shall not abandon it. You will
perceive from the correspondence submitted to you in connection with
this subject that the course adopted in this case has been properly
regarded by the belligerent powers interested in the matter.

Although a minister of the United States to the German Empire was
appointed by my predecessor in August, 1848, and has for a long time
been in attendance at Frankfort-on-the-Main, and although a minister
appointed to represent that Empire was received and accredited here, yet
no such government as that of the German Empire has been definitively
constituted. Mr. Donelson, our representative at Frankfort, remained
there several months in the expectation that a union of the German
States under one constitution or form of government might at length be
organized. It is believed by those well acquainted with the existing
relations between Prussia and the States of Germany that no such union
can be permanently established without her cooperation. In the event of
the formation of such a union and the organization of a central power in
Germany of which she should form a part, it would become necessary to
withdraw our minister at Berlin; but while Prussia exists as an
independent kingdom and diplomatic relations are maintained with her
there can be no necessity for the continuance of the mission to
Frankfort. I have therefore recalled Mr. Donelson and directed the
archives of the legation at Frankfort to be transferred to the American
legation at Berlin.

Having been apprised that a considerable number of adventurers were
engaged in fitting out a military expedition within the United States
against a foreign country, and believing from the best information I
could obtain that it was destined to invade the island of Cuba, I deemed
it due to the friendly relations existing between the United States and
Spain, to the treaty between the two nations, to the laws of the United
States, and, above all, to the American honor to exert the lawful
authority of this Government in suppressing the expedition and
preventing the invasion. To this end I issued a proclamation enjoining
it upon the officers of the United States, civil and military, to use
all lawful means within their power. A copy of that proclamation is
herewith submitted. The expedition has been suppressed. So long as the
act of Congress of the 20th of April, 1818, which owes its existence to
the law of nations and to the policy of Washington himself, shall remain
on our statute books, I hold it to be the duty of the Executive
faithfully to obey its injunctions.

While this expedition was in progress I was informed that a foreigner
who claimed our protection had been clandestinely and, as was supposed,
forcibly carried off in a vessel from New Orleans to the island of Cuba.
I immediately caused such steps to be taken as I thought necessary, in
case the information I had received should prove correct, to vindicate
the honor of the country and the right of every person seeking an asylum
on our soil to the protection of our laws. The person alleged to have
been abducted was promptly restored, and the circumstances of the case
are now about to undergo investigation before a judicial tribunal. I
would respectfully suggest that although the crime charged to have been
committed in this case is held odious, as being in conflict with our
opinions on the subject of national sovereignty and personal freedom,
there is no prohibition of it or punishment for it provided in any act
of Congress. The expediency of supplying this defect in our criminal
code is therefore recommended to your consideration.

I have scrupulously avoided any interference in the wars and contentions
which have recently distracted Europe. During the late conflict between
Austria and Hungary there seemed to be a prospect that the latter might
become an independent nation. However faint that prospect at the time
appeared, I thought it my duty, in accordance with the general sentiment
of the American people, who deeply sympathized with the Magyar patriots,
to stand prepared, upon the contingency of the establishment by her of a
permanent government, to be the first to welcome independent Hungary
into the family of nations. For this purpose I invested an agent then in
Europe with power to declare our willingness promptly to recognize her
independence in the event of her ability to sustain it. The powerful
intervention of Russia in the contest extinguished the hopes of the
struggling Magyars. The United States did not at any time interfere in
the contest, but the feelings of the nation were strongly enlisted in
the cause, and by the sufferings of a brave people, who had made a
gallant, though unsuccessful, effort to be free.

Our claims upon Portugal have been during the past year prosecuted with
renewed vigor, and it has been my object to employ every effort of
honorable diplomacy to procure their adjustment. Our late charge
d'affaires at Lisbon, the Hon. George W. Hopkins, made able and
energetic, but unsuccessful, efforts to settle these unpleasant matters
of controversy and to obtain indemnity for the wrongs which were the
subjects of complaint. Our present charge d'affaires at that Court will
also bring to the prosecution of these claims ability and zeal. The
revolutionary and distracted condition of Portugal in past times has
been represented as one of the leading causes of her delay in
indemnifying our suffering citizens.

But I must now say it is matter of profound regret that these claims
have not yet been settled. The omission of Portugal to do justice to the
American claimants has now assumed a character so grave and serious that
I shall shortly make it the subject of a special message to Congress,
with a view to such ultimate action as its wisdom and patriotism may

With Russia, Austria, Prussia, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, the
Netherlands, and the Italian States we still maintain our accustomed
amicable relations.

During the recent revolutions in the Papal States our charge d'affaires
at Rome has been unable to present his letter of credence, which,
indeed, he was directed by my predecessor to withhold until he should
receive further orders. Such was the unsettled condition of things in
those States that it was not deemed expedient to give him any
instructions on the subject of presenting his credential letter
different from those with which he had been furnished by the late
Administration until the 25th of June last, when, in consequence of the
want of accurate information of the exact state of things at that
distance from us, he was instructed to exercise his own discretion in
presenting himself to the then existing Government if in his judgment
sufficiently stable, or, if not, to await further events. Since that
period Rome has undergone another revolution, and he abides the
establishment of a government sufficiently permanent to justify him in
opening diplomatic intercourse with it.

With the Republic of Mexico it is our true policy to cultivate the most
friendly relations. Since the ratification of the treaty of Guadalupe
Hidalgo nothing has occurred of a serious character to disturb them. A
faithful observance of the treaty and a sincere respect for her rights
can not fail to secure the lasting confidence and friendship of that
Republic. The message of my predecessor to the House of Representatives
of the 8th of February last, communicating, in compliance with a
resolution of that body, a copy of a paper called a protocol, signed at
Queretaro on the 30th of May, 1848, by the commissioners of the United
States and the minister of foreign affairs of the Mexican Government,
having been a subject of correspondence between the Department of State
and the envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of that
Republic accredited to this Government, a transcript of that
correspondence is herewith submitted.

The commissioner on the part of the United States for marking the
boundary between the two Republics, though delayed in reaching San Diego
by unforeseen obstacles, arrived at that place within a short period
after the time required by the treaty, and was there joined by the
commissioner on the part of Mexico. They entered upon their duties, and
at the date of the latest intelligence from that quarter some progress
had been made in the survey. The expenses incident to the organization
of the commission and to its conveyance to the point where its
operations were to begin have so much reduced the fund appropriated by
Congress that a further sum, to cover the charges which must be incurred
during the present fiscal year, will be necessary. The great length of
frontier along which the boundary extends, the nature of the adjacent
territory, and the difficulty of obtaining supplies except at or near
the extremes of the line render it also indispensable that a liberal
provision should be made to meet the necessary charges during the fiscal
year ending on the 30th of June, 1851. I accordingly recommend this
subject to your attention.

In the adjustment of the claims of American citizens on Mexico, provided
for by the late treaty, the employment of counsel on the part of the
Government may become important for the purpose of assisting the
commissioners in protecting the interests of the United States. I
recommend this subject to the early and favorable consideration of

Complaints have been made in regard to the inefficiency of the means
provided by the Government of New Granada for transporting the United
States mail across the Isthmus of Panama, pursuant to our postal
convention with that Republic of the 6th of March, 1844. Our charge
d'affaires at Bogota has been directed to make such representations to
the Government of New Granada as will, it is hoped, lead to a prompt
removal of this cause of complaint.

The sanguinary civil war with which the Republic of Venezuela has for
some time past been ravaged has been brought to a close. In its progress
the rights of some of our citizens resident or trading there have been
violated. The restoration of order will afford the Venezuelan Government
an opportunity to examine and redress these grievances and others of
longer standing which our representatives at Caracas have hitherto
ineffectually urged upon the attention of that Government.

The extension of the coast of the United States on the Pacific and the
unexampled rapidity with which the inhabitants of California especially
are increasing in numbers have imparted new consequence to our relations
with the other countries whose territories border upon that ocean. It is
probable that the intercourse between those countries and our
possessions in that quarter, particularly with the Republic of Chili,
will become extensive and mutually advantageous in proportion as
California and Oregon shall increase in population and wealth. It is
desirable, therefore, that this Government should do everything in its
power to foster and strengthen its relations with those States, and that
the spirit of amity between us should be mutual and cordial.

I recommend the observance of the same course toward all other American
States. The United States stand as the great American power, to which,
as their natural ally and friend, they will always be disposed first to
look for mediation and assistance in the event of any collision between
them and any European nation. As such we may often kindly mediate in
their behalf without entangling ourselves in foreign wars or unnecessary
controversies. Whenever the faith of our treaties with any of them shall
require our interference, we must necessarily interpose.

A convention has been negotiated with Brazil providing for the
satisfaction of American claims on that Government, and it will be
submitted to the Senate. Since the last session of Congress we have
received an envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary from that
Empire, and our relations with it are founded upon the most amicable

Your attention is earnestly invited to an amendment of our existing laws
relating to the African slave trade with a view to the effectual
suppression of that barbarous traffic. It is not to be denied that this
trade is still in part carried on by means of vessels built in the
United States and owned or navigated by some of our citizens. The
correspondence between the Department of State and the minister and
consul of the United States at Rio de Janeiro, which has from time to
time been laid before Congress, represents that it is a customary device
to evade the penalties of our laws by means of sea letters. Vessels sold
in Brazil, when provided with such papers by the consul, instead of
returning to the United States for a new register proceed at once to the
coast of Africa for the purpose of obtaining cargoes of slaves. Much
additional information of the same character has recently been
transmitted to the Department of State. It has not been considered the
policy of our laws to subject an American citizen who in a foreign
country purchases a vessel built in the United States to the
inconvenience of sending her home for a new register before permitting
her to proceed on a voyage. Any alteration of the laws which might have
a tendency to impede the free transfer of property in vessels between
our citizens, or the free navigation of those vessels between different
parts of the world when employed in lawful commerce, should be well and
cautiously considered; but I trust that your wisdom will devise a method
by which our general policy in this respect may be preserved, and at the
same time the abuse of our flag by means of sea letters, in the manner
indicated, may be prevented.

Having ascertained that there is no prospect of the reunion of the five
States of Central America which formerly composed the Republic of that
name, we have separately negotiated with some of them treaties of amity
and commerce, which will be laid before the Senate.

A contract having been concluded with the State of Nicaragua by a
company composed of American citizens for the purpose of constructing a
ship canal through the territory of that State to connect the Atlantic
and Pacific oceans, I have directed the negotiation of a treaty with
Nicaragua pledging both Governments to protect those who shall engage
in and perfect the work. All other nations are invited by the State of
Nicaragua to enter into the same treaty stipulations with her; and the
benefit to be derived by each from such an arrangement will be the
protection of this great interoceanic communication against any power
which might seek to obstruct it or to monopolize its advantages. All
States entering into such a treaty will enjoy the right of passage
through the canal on payment of the same tolls. The work, if constructed
under these guaranties, will become a bond of peace instead of a subject
of contention and strife between the nations of the earth. Should the
great maritime States of Europe consent to this arrangement (and we have
no reason to suppose that a proposition so fair and honorable will be
opposed by any), the energies of their people and ours will cooperate in
promoting the success of the enterprise. I do not recommend any
appropriation from the National Treasury for this purpose, nor do I
believe that such an appropriation is necessary. Private enterprise, if
properly protected, will complete the work should it prove to be
feasible. The parties who have procured the charter from Nicaragua for
its construction desire no assistance from this Government beyond its
protection; and they profess that, having examined the proposed line of
communication, they will be ready to commence the undertaking whenever
that protection shall be extended to them. Should there appear to be
reason, on examining the whole evidence, to entertain a serious doubt of
the practicability of constructing such a canal, that doubt could be
speedily solved by an actual exploration of the route.

Should such a work be constructed under the common protection of all
nations, for equal benefits to all, it would be neither just nor
expedient that any great maritime state should command the
communication. The territory through which the canal may be opened ought
to be freed from the claims of any foreign power. No such power should
occupy a position that would enable it hereafter to exercise so
controlling an influence over the commerce of the world or to obstruct a
highway which ought to be dedicated to the common uses of mankind.

The routes across the Isthmus at Tehuantepec and Panama are also worthy
of our serious consideration. They did not fail to engage the attention
of my predecessor. The negotiator of the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was
instructed to offer a very large sum of money for the right of transit
across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. The Mexican Government did not accede
to the proposition for the purchase of the right of way, probably
because it had already contracted with private individuals for the
construction of a passage from the Guasacualco River to Tehuantepec. I
shall not renew any proposition to purchase for money a right which
ought to be equally secured to all nations on payment of a reasonable
toll to the owners of the improvement, who would doubtless be well
contented with that compensation and the guaranties of the maritime
states of the world in separate treaties negotiated with Mexico, binding
her and them to protect those who should construct the work. Such
guaranties would do more to secure the completion of the communication
through the territory of Mexico than any other reasonable consideration
that could be offered; and as Mexico herself would be the greatest
gainer by the opening of this communication between the Gulf and the
Pacific Ocean, it is presumed that she would not hesitate to yield her
aid in the manner proposed to accomplish an improvement so important to
her own best interests.

We have reason to hope that the proposed railroad across the Isthmus at
Panama will be successfully constructed under the protection of the late
treaty with New Granada, ratified and exchanged by my predecessor on the
10th day of June, 1848, which guarantees the perfect neutrality of the
Isthmus and the rights of sovereignty and property of New Granada over
that territory, "with a view that the free transit from ocean to ocean
may not be interrupted or embarrassed" during the existence of the
treaty. It is our policy to encourage every practicable route across the
isthmus which connects North and South America, either by railroad or
canal, which the energy and enterprise of our citizens may induce them
to complete, and I consider it obligatory upon me to adopt that policy,
especially in consequence of the absolute necessity of facilitating
intercourse with our possessions on the Pacific.

The position of the Sandwich Islands with reference to the territory of
the United States on the Pacific, the success of our persevering and
benevolent citizens who have repaired to that remote quarter in
Christianizing the natives and inducing them to adopt a system of
government and laws suited to their capacity and wants, and the use made
by our numerous whale ships of the harbors of the islands as places of
resort for obtaining refreshments and repairs all combine to render
their destiny peculiarly interesting to us. It is our duty to encourage
the authorities of those islands in their efforts to improve and elevate
the moral and political condition of the inhabitants, and we should make
reasonable allowances for the difficulties inseparable from this task.
We desire that the islands may maintain their independence and that
other nations should concur with us in this sentiment. We could in no
event be indifferent to their passing under the dominion of any other
power. The principal commercial states have in this a common interest,
and it is to be hoped that no one of them will attempt to interpose
obstacles to the entire independence of the islands.

The receipts into the Treasury for the fiscal year ending on the 30th of
June last were, in cash, $48,830,097.50, and in Treasury notes funded
$10,833,000, making an aggregate of $59,663,097.50; and the expenditures
for the same time were, in cash, $46,798,667.82, and in Treasury notes
funded $10,833,000, making an aggregate of $57,631,667.82.

The accounts and estimates which will be submitted to Congress in the
report of the Secretary of the Treasury show that there will probably
be a deficit occasioned by the expenses of the Mexican War and treaty on
the 1st day of July next of $5,828,121.66, and on the 1st day of July,
1851, of $10,547,092.73, making in the whole a probable deficit to be
provided for of $16,375,214.39. The extraordinary expenses of the war
with Mexico and the purchase of California and New Mexico exceed in
amount this deficit, together with the loans heretofore made for those
objects. I therefore recommend that authority be given to borrow
whatever sum may be necessary to cover that deficit. I recommend the
observance of strict economy in the appropriation and expenditure of
public money.

I recommend a revision of the existing tariff and its adjustment on a
basis which may augment the revenue. I do not doubt the right or duty of
Congress to encourage domestic industry, which is the great source of
national as well as individual wealth and prosperity. I look to the
wisdom and patriotism of Congress for the adoption of a system which may
place home labor at last on a sure and permanent footing and by due
encouragement of manufactures give a new and increased stimulus to
agriculture and promote the development of our vast resources and the
extension of our commerce. Believing that to the attainment of these
ends, as well as the necessary augmentation of the revenue and the
prevention of frauds, a system of specific duties is best adapted, I
strongly recommend to Congress the adoption of that system, fixing the
duties at rates high enough to afford substantial and sufficient
encouragement to our own industry and at the same time so adjusted as to
insure stability.

The question of the continuance of the subtreasury system is
respectfully submitted to the wisdom of Congress. If continued,
important modifications of it appear to be indispensable.

For further details and views on the above and other matters connected
with commerce, the finances, and revenue I refer to the report of the
Secretary of the Treasury.

No direct aid has been given by the General Government to the
improvement of agriculture except by the expenditure of small sums for
the collection and publication of agricultural statistics and for some
chemical analyses, which have been thus far paid for out of the patent
fund. This aid is, in my opinion, wholly inadequate. To give to this
leading branch of American industry the encouragement which it merits, I
respectfully recommend the establishment of an agricultural bureau, to
be connected with the Department of the Interior. To elevate the social
condition of the agriculturist, to increase his prosperity, and to
extend his means of usefulness to his country, by multiplying his
sources of information, should be the study of every statesman and a
primary object with every legislator.

No civil government having been provided by Congress for California, the
people of that Territory, impelled by the necessities of their political
condition, recently met in convention for the purpose of forming a
constitution and State government, which the latest advices give me
reason to suppose has been accomplished; and it is believed they will
shortly apply for the admission of California into the Union as a
sovereign State. Should such be the case, and should their constitution
be conformable to the requisitions of the Constitution of the United
States, I recommend their application to the favorable consideration of

The people of New Mexico will also, it is believed, at no very distant
period present themselves for admission into the Union. Preparatory to
the admission of California and New Mexico the people of each will have
instituted for themselves a republican form of government, "laying its
foundation in such principles and organizing its powers in such form as
to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness." By
awaiting their action all causes of uneasiness may be avoided and
confidence and kind feeling preserved. With a view of maintaining the
harmony and tranquillity so dear to all, we should abstain from the
introduction of those exciting topics of a sectional character which
have hitherto produced painful apprehensions in the public mind; and I
repeat the solemn warning of the first and most illustrious of my
predecessors against furnishing "any ground for characterizing parties
by geographical discriminations."

A collector has been appointed at San Francisco under the act of
Congress extending the revenue laws over California, and measures have
been taken to organize the custom-houses at that and the other ports
mentioned in that act at the earliest period practicable. The collector
proceeded overland, and advices have not yet been received of his
arrival at San Francisco. Meanwhile, it is understood that the customs
have continued to be collected there by officers acting under the
military authority, as they were during the Administration of my
predecessor. It will, I think, be expedient to confirm the collections
thus made, and direct the avails (after such allowances as Congress may
think fit to authorize) to be expended within the Territory or to be
paid into the Treasury for the purpose of meeting appropriations for the
improvement of its rivers and harbors.

A party engaged on the coast survey was dispatched to Oregon in January
last. According to the latest advices, they had not left California; and
directions have been given to them, as soon as they shall have fixed on
the sites of the two light-houses and the buoys authorized to be
constructed and placed in Oregon, to proceed without delay to make
reconnoissances of the most important points on the coast of California,
and especially to examine and determine on sites for light-houses on
that coast, the speedy erection of which is urgently demanded by our
rapidly increasing commerce.

I have transferred the Indian agencies from upper Missouri and Council
Bluffs to Santa Fe and Salt Lake, and have caused to be appointed
sub-agents in the valleys of the Gila, the Sacramento, and the San
Joaquin rivers. Still further legal provisions will be necessary for the
effective and successful extension of our system of Indian intercourse
over the new territories.

I recommend the establishment of a branch mint in California, as it
will, in my opinion, afford important facilities to those engaged in
mining, as well as to the Government in the disposition of the mineral

I also recommend that commissions be organized by Congress to examine
and decide upon the validity of the present subsisting land titles in
California and New Mexico, and that provision be made for the
establishment of offices of surveyor-general in New Mexico, California,
and Oregon and for the surveying and bringing into market the public
lands in those Territories. Those lands, remote in position and
difficult of access, ought to be disposed of on terms liberal to all,
but especially favorable to the early emigrants.

In order that the situation and character of the principal mineral
deposits in California may be ascertained, I recommend that a geological
and mineralogical exploration be connected with the linear surveys, and
that the mineral lands be divided into small lots suitable for mining
and be disposed of by sale or lease, so as to give our citizens an
opportunity of procuring a permanent right of property in the soil. This
would seem to be as important to the success of mining as of
agricultural pursuits.

The great mineral wealth of California and the advantages which its
ports and harbors and those of Oregon afford to commerce, especially
with the islands of the Pacific and Indian oceans and the populous
regions of eastern Asia, make it certain that there will arise in a few
years large and prosperous communities on our western coast. It
therefore becomes important that a line of communication, the best and
most expeditious which the nature of the country will admit, should be
opened within the territory of the United States from the navigable
waters of the Atlantic or the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific. Opinion, as
elicited and expressed by two large and respectable conventions lately
assembled at St. Louis and Memphis, points to a railroad as that which,
if practicable, will best meet the wishes and wants of the country. But
while this, if in successful operation, would be a work of great
national importance and of a value to the country which it would be
difficult to estimate, it ought also to be regarded as an undertaking of
vast magnitude and expense, and one which must, if it be indeed
practicable, encounter many difficulties in its construction and use.
Therefore, to avoid failure and disappointment; to enable Congress to
judge whether in the condition of the country through which it must pass
the work be feasible, and, if it be found so, whether it should be
undertaken as a national improvement or left to individual enterprise,
and in the latter alternative what aid, if any, ought to be extended to
it by the Government, I recommend as a preliminary measure a careful
reconnoissance of the several proposed routes by a scientific corps and
a report as to the practicability of making such a road, with an
estimate of the cost of its construction and support.

For further views on these and other matters connected with the duties
of the home department I refer you to the report of the Secretary of the

I recommend early appropriations for continuing the river and harbor
improvements which have been already begun, and also for the
construction of those for which estimates have been made, as well as for
examinations and estimates preparatory to the commencement of such
others as the wants of the country, and especially the advance of our
population over new districts and the extension of commerce, may render
necessary. An estimate of the amount which can be advantageously
expended within the next fiscal year under the direction of the Bureau
of Topographical Engineers accompanies the report of the Secretary of
War, to which I respectfully invite the attention of Congress.

The cession of territory made by the late treaty with Mexico has greatly
extended our exposed frontier and rendered its defense more difficult.
That treaty has also brought us under obligations to Mexico, to comply
with which a military force is requisite. But our military establishment
is not materially changed as to its efficiency from the condition in
which it stood before the commencement of the Mexican War. Some addition
to it will therefore be necessary, and I recommend to the favorable
consideration of Congress an increase of the several corps of the Army
at our distant Western posts, as proposed in the accompanying report of
the Secretary of War.

Great embarrassment has resulted from the effect upon rank in the Army
heretofore given to brevet and staff commissions. The views of the
Secretary of War on this subject are deemed important, and if carried
into effect will, it is believed, promote the harmony of the service.
The plan proposed for retiring disabled officers and providing an asylum
for such of the rank and file as from age, wounds, and other infirmities
occasioned by service have become unfit to perform their respective
duties is recommended as a means of increasing the efficiency of the
Army and as an act of justice due from a grateful country to the
faithful soldier.

The accompanying report of the Secretary of the Navy presents a full and
satisfactory account of the condition and operations of the naval
service during the past year. Our citizens engaged in the legitimate
pursuits of commerce have enjoyed its benefits. Wherever our national
vessels have gone they have been received with respect, our officers
have been treated with kindness and courtesy, and they have on all
occasions pursued a course of strict neutrality, in accordance with the
policy of our Government.

The naval force at present in commission is as large as is admissible
with the number of men authorized by Congress to be employed.

I invite your attention to the recommendation of the Secretary of the
Navy on the subject of a reorganization of the Navy in its various
grades of officers, and the establishing of a retired list for such of
the officers as are disqualified for active and effective service.
Should Congress adopt some such measure as is recommended, it will
greatly increase the efficiency of the Navy and reduce its expenditures.

I also ask your attention to the views expressed by him in reference to
the employment of war steamers and in regard to the contracts for the
transportation of the United States mails and the operation of the
system upon the prosperity of the Navy.

By an act of Congress passed August 14, 1848, provision was made for
extending post-office and mail accommodations to California and Oregon.
Exertions have been made to execute that law, but the limited provisions
of the act, the inadequacy of the means it authorizes, the ill
adaptation of our post-office laws to the situation of that country, and
the measure of compensation for services allowed by those laws, compared
with the prices of labor and rents in California, render those exertions
in a great degree ineffectual. More particular and efficient provision
by law is required on this subject.

The act of 1845 reducing postage has now, by its operation during four
years, produced results fully showing that the income from such reduced
postage is sufficient to sustain the whole expense of the service of the
Post-Office Department, not including the cost of transportation in mail
steamers on the lines from New York to Chagres and from Panama to
Astoria, which have not been considered by Congress as properly
belonging to the mail service.

It is submitted to the wisdom of Congress whether a further reduction of
postage should not now be made, more particularly on the letter
correspondence. This should be relieved from the unjust burden of
transporting and delivering the franked matter of Congress, for which
public service provision should be made from the Treasury. I confidently
believe that a change may safely be made reducing all single-letter
postage to the uniform rate of 5 cents, regardless of distance, without
thereby imposing any greater tax on the Treasury than would constitute a
very moderate compensation for this public service; and I therefore
respectfully recommend such a reduction. Should Congress prefer to
abolish the franking privilege entirely, it seems probable that no
demand on the Treasury would result from the proposed reduction of
postage. Whether any further diminution should now be made, or the
result of the reduction to 5 cents, which I have recommended, should be
first tested, is submitted to your decision.

Since the commencement of the last session of Congress a postal treaty
with Great Britain has been received and ratified, and such relations
have been formed by the post-office departments of the two countries in
pursuance of that treaty as to carry its provisions into full operation.
The attempt to extend this same arrangement through England to France
has not been equally successful, but the purpose has not been abandoned.

For a particular statement of the condition of the Post-Office
Department and other matters connected with that branch of the public
service I refer you to the report of the Postmaster-General.

By the act of the 3d of March, 1849, a board was constituted to make
arrangements for taking the Seventh Census, composed of the Secretary
of State, the Attorney-General, and the Postmaster-General; and it was
made the duty of this board "to prepare and cause to be printed such
forms and schedules as might be necessary for the full enumeration of
the inhabitants of the United States, and also proper forms and
schedules for collecting in statistical tables, under proper heads, such
information as to mines, agriculture, commerce, manufactures, education,
and other topics as would exhibit a full view of the pursuits, industry,
education, and resources of the country." The duties enjoined upon the
census board thus established having been performed, it now rests with
Congress to enact a law for carrying into effect the provision of the
Constitution which requires an actual enumeration of the people of the
United States within the ensuing year.

Among the duties assigned by the Constitution to the General Government
is one of local and limited application, but not on that account the
less obligatory. I allude to the trust committed to Congress as the
exclusive legislator and sole guardian of the interests of the District
of Columbia. I beg to commend these interests to your kind attention. As
the national metropolis the city of Washington must be an object of
general interest; and founded, as it was, under the auspices of him
whose immortal name it bears, its claims to the fostering care of
Congress present themselves with additional strength. Whatever can
contribute to its prosperity must enlist the feelings of its
constitutional guardians and command their favorable consideration.

Our Government is one of limited powers, and its successful
administration eminently depends on the confinement of each of its
coordinate branches within its own appropriate sphere. The first section
of the Constitution ordains that--

All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress
of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of

The Executive has authority to recommend (not to dictate) measures to
Congress. Having performed that duty, the executive department of the
Government can not rightfully control the decision of Congress on any
subject of legislation until that decision shall have been officially
submitted to the President for approval. The check provided by the
Constitution in the clause conferring the qualified veto will never be
exercised by me except in the cases contemplated by the fathers of the
Republic. I view it as an extreme measure, to be resorted to only in
extraordinary cases, as where it may become necessary to defend the
executive against the encroachments of the legislative power or to
prevent hasty and inconsiderate or unconstitutional legislation. By
cautiously confining this remedy within the sphere prescribed to it in
the cotemporaneous expositions of the framers of the Constitution, the
will of the people, legitimately expressed on all subjects of
legislation through their constitutional organs, the Senators and
Representatives of the United States, will have its full effect. As
indispensable to the preservation of our system of self-government, the
independence of the representatives of the States and the people is
guaranteed by the Constitution, and they owe no responsibility to any
human power but their constituents. By holding the representative
responsible only to the people, and exempting him from all other
influences, we elevate the character of the constituent and quicken his
sense of responsibility to his country. It is under these circumstances
only that the elector can feel that in the choice of the lawmaker he is
himself truly a component part of the sovereign power of the nation.
With equal care we should study to defend the rights of the executive
and judicial departments. Our Government can only be preserved in its
purity by the suppression and entire elimination of every claim or
tendency of one coordinate branch to encroachment upon another. With the
strict observance of this rule and the other injunctions of the
Constitution, with a sedulous inculcation of that respect and love for
the Union of the States which our fathers cherished and enjoined upon
their children, and with the aid of that overruling Providence which has
so long and so kindly guarded our liberties and institutions, we may
reasonably expect to transmit them, with their innumerable blessings, to
the remotest posterity.

But attachment to the Union of the States should be habitually fostered
in every American heart. For more than half a century, during which
kingdoms and empires have fallen, this Union has stood unshaken. The
patriots who formed it have long since descended to the grave; yet still
it remains, the proudest monument to their memory and the object of
affection and admiration with everyone worthy to bear the American name.
In my judgment its dissolution would be the greatest of calamities, and
to avert that should be the study of every American. Upon its
preservation must depend our own happiness and that of countless
generations to come. Whatever dangers may threaten it, I shall stand by
it and maintain it in its integrity to the full extent of the
obligations imposed and the powers conferred upon me by the



WASHINGTON, _December 17, 1849_.

_To the Senate of the United States:_

I transmit to the Senate, for its consideration with a view to
ratification, a convention between the United States and His Majesty the
Emperor of Brazil, signed at Rio de Janeiro on the 27th of January last,
providing for the adjustment of claims of citizens of the United States
on the Brazilian Government. A copy of a dispatch from Mr. Tod, the
United States minister at Rio de Janeiro, relative to the convention is
also herewith communicated. As it is understood that the Emperor's
ratification is ready to be exchanged for that of the United States, and
as the period limited for the exchange will expire on the 27th of next
month, it is desirable that the decision of the Senate in regard to the
instrument should be known as soon as may be convenient.


WASHINGTON, _December 21, 1849_.

_To the Senate of the United States:_

I transmit to the Senate, for its consideration with a view to
ratification, a treaty between the United States and His Majesty the
King of the Hawaiian Islands, yesterday concluded and signed in this
city on the part of the respective Governments by the Secretary of State
of the United States and by James Jackson Jarves, His Hawaiian Majesty's
special commissioner.


WASHINGTON, _December 27, 1849_.

_To the Senate and House of Representatives:_

In consequence of the unexpected delay in proceeding to business, I deem
it necessary to invite the immediate attention of Congress to so much of
the report of the Secretary of the Treasury as relates to the
appropriations required for the expenses of collecting the revenue for
the second half of the current fiscal year.


WASHINGTON, _January 4, 1850_.

_To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States:_

I herewith submit to you copies of a correspondence with the lady of Sir
John Franklin, relative to the well-known expedition under his command
to the arctic regions for the discovery of a northwest passage. On the
receipt of her first letter imploring the aid of the American Government
in a search for the missing ships engaged in an enterprise which
interested all civilized nations, I anxiously sought the means of
affording that assistance, but was prevented from accomplishing the
object I had in view in consequence of the want of vessels suitable to
encounter the perils of a proper exploration, the lateness of the
season, and the want of an appropriation by Congress to enable me to
furnish and equip an efficient squadron for that object. All that I
could do in compliance with a request which I was deeply anxious to
gratify was to cause the advertisements of reward promulged by the
British Government and the best information I could obtain as to the
means of finding the vessels under the command of Sir John Franklin to
be widely circulated among our whalers and seafaring men whose spirit
of enterprise might lead them to the inhospitable regions where that
heroic officer and his brave followers, who periled their lives in the
cause of science and for the benefit of the world, were supposed to be
imprisoned among the icebergs or wrecked upon a desert shore.

Congress being now in session, the propriety and expediency of an
appropriation for fitting out an expedition to proceed in search of the
missing ships, with their officers and crews, is respectfully submitted
to your consideration.


EXECUTIVE OFFICE, _January 14, 1850_.


SIR: I transmit herewith, to be laid before the Senate for its
constitutional action thereon, a treaty concluded with the half-breeds
of the Dacotah or Sioux Indians for lands reserved for them in the
treaty of July 15, 1830, with the Sioux and other Indians, with
accompanying papers.


WASHINGTON, _January 14, 1850_.

_To the Senate of the United States:_

I herewith transmit reports from the Secretary of State and the
Secretary of the Navy, containing the information called for by the
resolution of the Senate of the 7th instant, in relation to the
abduction[2a] of Rey, _alias_ Garcia, from New Orleans.

[Footnote 2a: By the Spanish consul at New Orleans.]


WASHINGTON, _January 14, 1850_.

_To the Senate of the United States:_

I transmit to the Senate, for their consideration, a copy of a
correspondence between the Department of State and the charge d'affaires
of Austria near this Government, on the subject of the convention for
the extension of certain stipulations contained in the treaty of
commerce and navigation of August 27, 1829, between the United States
and Austria, concluded and signed on the 8th of May, 1848, and submitted
to the Senate on the same day by my predecessor.


WASHINGTON, _January 23, 1850_.

_To the Senate of the United States:_

I transmit to the Senate, in answer to a resolution of that body
passed on the 17th instant, the accompanying reports of heads of
Departments, which contain all the official information in the
possession of the Executive asked for by the resolution.

On coming into office I found the military commandant of the Department
of California exercising the functions of civil governor in that
Territory, and left, as I was, to act under the treaty of Guadalupe
Hidalgo, without the aid of any legislative provision establishing a
government in that Territory, I thought it best not to disturb that
arrangement, made under my predecessor, until Congress should take some
action on that subject. I therefore did not interfere with the powers of
the military commandant, who continued to exercise the functions of
civil governor as before; but I made no such appointment, conferred no
such authority, and have allowed no increased compensation to the
commandant for his services.

With a view to the faithful execution of the treaty so far as lay in the
power of the Executive, and to enable Congress to act at the present
session with as full knowledge and as little difficulty as possible on
all matters of interest in these Territories, I sent the Hon. Thomas
Butler King as bearer of dispatches to California, and certain officers
to California and New Mexico, whose duties are particularly defined in
the accompanying letters of instruction addressed to them severally by
the proper Departments.

I did not hesitate to express to the people of those Territories my
desire that each Territory should, if prepared to comply with the
requisitions of the Constitution of the United States, form a plan of a
State constitution and submit the same to Congress with a prayer for
admission into the Union as a State, but I did not anticipate, suggest,
or authorize the establishment of any such government without the assent
of Congress, nor did I authorize any Government agent or officer to
interfere with or exercise any influence or control over the election of
delegates or over any convention in making or modifying their domestic
institutions or any of the provisions of their proposed constitution. On
the contrary, the instructions given by my orders were that all measures
of domestic policy adopted by the people of California must originate
solely with themselves; that while the Executive of the United States
was desirous to protect them in the formation of any government
republican in its character, to be at the proper time submitted to
Congress, yet it was to be distinctly understood that the plan of such a
government must at the same time be the result of their own deliberate
choice and originate with themselves, without the interference of the

I am unable to give any information as to laws passed by any supposed
government in California or of any census taken in either of the
Territories mentioned in the resolution, as I have no information on
those subjects.

As already stated, I have not disturbed the arrangements which I found
had existed under my predecessor.

In advising an early application by the people of these Territories for
admission as States I was actuated principally by an earnest desire to
afford to the wisdom and patriotism of Congress the opportunity of
avoiding occasions of bitter and angry dissensions among the people of
the United States.

Under the Constitution every State has the right of establishing and
from time to time altering its municipal laws and domestic institutions
independently of every other State and of the General Government,
subject only to the prohibitions and guaranties expressly set forth in
the Constitution of the United States. The subjects thus left
exclusively to the respective States were not designed or expected to
become topics of national agitation. Still, as under the Constitution
Congress has power to make all needful rules and regulations respecting
the Territories of the United States, every new acquisition of territory
has led to discussions on the question whether the system of involuntary
servitude which prevails in many of the States should or should not be
prohibited in that territory. The periods of excitement from this cause
which have heretofore occurred have been safely passed, but during the
interval, of whatever length, which may elapse before the admission of
the Territories ceded by Mexico as States it appears probable that
similar excitement will prevail to an undue extent.

Under these circumstances I thought, and still think, that it was my
duty to endeavor to put it in the power of Congress, by the admission of
California and New Mexico as States, to remove all occasion for the
unnecessary agitation of the public mind.

It is understood that the people of the western part of California have
formed a plan of a State constitution and will soon submit the same to
the judgment of Congress and apply for admission as a State. This course
on their part, though in accordance with, was not adopted exclusively in
consequence of, any expression of my wishes, inasmuch as measures
tending to this end had been promoted by the officers sent there by my
predecessor, and were already in active progress of execution before any
communication from me reached California. If the proposed constitution
shall, when submitted to Congress, be found to be in compliance with the
requisitions of the Constitution of the United States, I earnestly
recommend that it may receive the sanction of Congress.

The part of California not included in the proposed State of that name
is believed to be uninhabited, except in a settlement of our countrymen
in the vicinity of Salt Lake.

A claim has been advanced by the State of Texas to a very large portion
of the most populous district of the Territory commonly designated by
the name of New Mexico. If the people of New Mexico had formed a plan of
a State government for that Territory as ceded by the treaty of
Guadalupe Hidalgo, and had been admitted by Congress as a State, our
Constitution would have afforded the means of obtaining an adjustment of
the question of boundary with Texas by a judicial decision. At present,
however, no judicial tribunal has the power of deciding that question,
and it remains for Congress to devise some mode for its adjustment.
Meanwhile I submit to Congress the question whether it would be
expedient before such adjustment to establish a Territorial government,
which by including the district so claimed would practically decide the
question adversely to the State of Texas, or by excluding it would
decide it in her favor. In my opinion such a course would not be
expedient, especially as the people of this Territory still enjoy the
benefit and protection of their municipal laws originally derived from
Mexico and have a military force stationed there to protect them against
the Indians. It is undoubtedly true that the property, lives, liberties,
and religion of the people of New Mexico are better protected than they
ever were before the treaty of cession.

Should Congress, when California shall present herself for incorporation
into the Union, annex a condition to her admission as a State affecting
her domestic institutions contrary to the wishes of her people, and even
compel her temporarily to comply with it, yet the State could change her
constitution at any time after admission when to her it should seem
expedient. Any attempt to deny to the people of the State the right of
self-government in a matter which peculiarly affects themselves will
infallibly be regarded by them as an invasion of their rights, and, upon
the principles laid down in our own Declaration of Independence, they
will certainly be sustained by the great mass of the American people. To
assert that they are a conquered people and must as a State submit to
the will of their conquerors in this regard will meet with no cordial
response among American freemen. Great numbers of them are native
citizens of the United States, not inferior to the rest of our
countrymen in intelligence and patriotism, and no language of menace to
restrain them in the exercise of an undoubted right, substantially
guaranteed to them by the treaty of cession itself, shall ever be
uttered by me or encouraged and sustained by persons acting under my
authority. It is to be expected that in the residue of the territory
ceded to us by Mexico the people residing there will at the time of
their incorporation into the Union as a State settle all questions of
domestic policy to suit themselves.

No material inconvenience will result from the want for a short period
of a government established by Congress over that part of the territory
which lies eastward of the new State of California; and the reasons for
my opinion that New Mexico will at no very distant period ask for
admission into the Union are founded on unofficial information which, I
suppose, is common to all who have cared to make inquiries on that

Seeing, then, that the question which now excites such painful
sensations in the country will in the end certainly be settled by the
silent effect of causes independent of the action of Congress, I again
submit to your wisdom the policy recommended in my annual message of
awaiting the salutary operation of those causes, believing that we shall
thus avoid the creation of geographical parties and secure the harmony
of feeling so necessary to the beneficial action of our political
system. Connected, as the Union is, with the remembrance of past
happiness, the sense of present blessings, and the hope of future peace
and prosperity, every dictate of wisdom, every feeling of duty, and
every emotion of patriotism tend to inspire fidelity and devotion to it
and admonish us cautiously to avoid any unnecessary controversy which
can either endanger it or impair its strength, the chief element of
which is to be found in the regard and affection of the people for each


[A similar message, dated January 21, 1850, was sent to the House of
Representatives, in answer to a resolution of that body.]

WASHINGTON, _January 23, 1850_.

_To the Senate of the United States:_

I transmit to the Senate a copy of the convention between the United
States and His Majesty the Emperor of Brazil, providing for the
satisfaction of claims of citizens of the United States against the
Brazilian Government, signed at Rio de Janeiro on the 27th of January
last, and the ratifications of which were exchanged in this city on the
18th instant. It is desirable that Congress should prescribe the mode in
which the claims referred to are to be adjusted and the money stipulated
to be paid by Brazil shall be distributed amongst the claimants.
Extracts from dispatches of the minister of the United States at Rio de
Janeiro and a copy of a letter from an agent of claimants there are also
herewith communicated, to which your attention is invited. I have
authorized our minister to demand, receive, and give acquittances for
the amount payable by Brazil, and have caused him to be instructed to
remit the same to the Treasury of the United States.


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

WASHINGTON, _January 30, 1850 _.

_To the Senate of the United States:_

In reply to the resolution of the Senate of the 7th instant, requesting
of me all the official correspondence since the 4th of March last
between this Government and its military authorities at Santa Fe or with
the authorities of the State of Texas relating to the boundary or
occupation of Texas, and the reasons why the judicial authority of Texas
has not been recognized by the military authority at Santa Fe, I
herewith submit the accompanying reports, which contain the information
called for by the resolution.

I have not been informed of any acts of interference by the military
forces stationed at Santa Fe with the judicial authority of Texas
established or sought to be established there. I have received no
communication from the governor of Texas on any of the matters referred
to in the resolution. And I concur in the opinion expressed by my
predecessor in the letter addressed by the late Secretary of State to
the governor of Texas on the 12th day of February, 1847, that the
boundary between the State of Texas and the Territory of New Mexico "is
a subject which more properly belongs to the legislative than to the
executive branch of the Government."


WASHINGTON, _February 6, 1850_.

_To the Senate of the United States:_

In reply to the resolution of the Senate of the 28th ultimo, I have to
state that the resolution of the Senate of the 2d of March, 1849,
respecting James W. Schaumburg, was in April of that year submitted for
the opinion of the Attorney-General upon questions arising in the case.
No opinion had been given by him when it became necessary, prior to the
meeting of the Senate, to prepare the nominations for promotions in the
Army. The nomination of Lieutenant Ewell was then decided upon, after
due consideration was given to the resolution of the Senate of the 2d of
March, 1849.

I herewith submit a report from the Secretary of War, showing the
grounds upon which the decision above referred to was made.


WASHINGTON, _February 13, 1850_.

_To the Senate of the United States:_

I have received a resolution of the Senate of the 28th ultimo,
requesting the President of the United States "to cause to be laid
before the Senate, in open session if in his opinion consistent with the
public interest, otherwise in executive session, copies of all
instructions and communications of the late Secretary of State to our
late charge d'affaires to Guatemala and all dispatches and
communications from said charge d'affaires to the Department of State,
including any conventions or treaties he may have concluded with either
of the States composing the late Republic of Central America; and also
all correspondence between our said charge d'affaires and the Government
or representatives of either of said States; and also all instructions
and communications from the present Secretary of State to our late
charge d'affaires or our present charge d'affaires to either of said
States and all dispatches or communications from our charge d'affaires
to the Department of State, including any conventions or treaties he may
have concluded with either of said States; and also all correspondence
between the Department of State and either of said charges d'affaires
touching the so-called Kingdom of the Mosquitos and the right of way
from the Atlantic to the Pacific through Lake Nicaragua."

The information called for by this resolution will be cheerfully
communicated to the Senate as soon as it shall be found to be compatible
with the public interest.


WASHINGTON, _February 13, 1850_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States:_

I have received a resolution of the House of Representatives of the 24th
ultimo, requesting the President of the United States "to communicate to
that body (provided the publication thereof be not prejudicial to the
public interest) all such information as may be within the knowledge of
the executive department relative to the alleged extraordinary
proceedings of the English Government in the forcible seizure and
occupation of the island of Tigre, in the State of Nicaragua, Central
America; also all facts, circumstances, or communications within the
knowledge of the Executive relative to any seizure, occupation, or
attempted seizure or occupation, by the English Government of any port,
river, town, territory, or island belonging to or claimed by any of the
States of Central America; also that he be requested to communicate to
this House, if not incompatible with the public interest, all treaties
not heretofore published which may have been negotiated with any of the
States of Central America by any person acting by authority from the
late Administration or under the auspices of the present Executive." The
information called for by this resolution will be cheerfully
communicated to the House as soon as it shall be found compatible with
the public interest.


WASHINGTON, _February 13, 1850_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States:_

I transmit herewith to the House of Representatives, for the information
of that body, an authenticated copy of the constitution of the State of
California, received by me from General Riley.


WASHINGTON, _February 13, 1850_.

_To the Senate of the United States:_

I transmit herewith to the Senate, for the information of that body, an
authenticated copy of the constitution of California, received by me
from the Hon. William M. Gwyn.


WASHINGTON, _March 1, 1850_.

_To the Senate of the United States:_

In reply to the resolution of the Senate of the 12th ultimo, requesting
the President of the United States "to inform the Senate of the amount
of prize money paid into the Treasury in conformity with the eighteenth
section of the act of March 3, 1849," etc., I transmit herewith a report
from the Secretary of the Navy, with accompanying documents.


WASHINGTON, _March 4, 1850_.

_To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States:_

I herewith transmit to Congress copies of a recent correspondence
between the Department of State and the British minister at Washington,
relating to subjects[3a] which seem to require the consideration of the
legislative rather than the executive branch of the Government.

[Footnote 3a: Navigation laws and tariff on British productions.]


WASHINGTON, _March 6, 1850_.

_To the Senate of the United States:_

In answer to the inquiries contained in the resolution of the Senate of
the 4th instant, in relation to the appointment of postmasters by the
Postmaster-General, I send to the Senate herewith the letter of the
Postmaster-General furnishing the desired information.


MARCH 8, 1850.

_To the Senate of the United States:_

The Postmaster-General has this day communicated to me the letter
herewith transmitted, in addition to his communication by me sent to the
Senate on the 6th instant, in relation to the inquiries contained in the
resolution of the Senate as to the appointment of postmasters.


WASHINGTON, _March 19, 1850_.

_To the Senate of the United States:_

I transmit herewith, for the consideration and constitutional action of
the Senate, a communication from the Secretary of the Interior, covering
two treaties with Indians of New Mexico, one negotiated with the Navajo
tribe on the 9th of September last by Colonel John Washington, of the
Army, and J.S. Calhoun, United States Indian agent at Santa Fe, and the
other with the Utah tribe, negotiated by J.S. Calhoun on the 13th of
December last.


WASHINGTON, _March 19, 1850_.

_To the Senate of the United States:_

I herewith transmit to the Senate, for their advice in regard to its
ratification, "a general treaty of amity, navigation, and commerce"
between the United States of America and the State of Nicaragua,
concluded at Leon by E. George Squier, charge d'affaires of the United
States, on their part, and Senor Zepeda, on the part of the Republic of

I also transmit, for the advice of the Senate in regard to its
ratification, "a general treaty of amity, navigation, and commerce"
negotiated by Mr. Squier with the Republic of San Salvador.

I also transmit to the Senate a copy of the instructions to and
correspondence with the said charge d'affaires relating to those

I also transmit, for the advice of the Senate in regard to its
ratification, "a general treaty of peace, amity, commerce, and
navigation" negotiated by Elijah Hise, our late charge d'affaires, with
the State of Guatemala.

I also transmit, for the information of the Senate, a copy of a treaty
negotiated by Mr. Hise with the Government of Nicaragua on the 21st of
June last, accompanied by copies of his instructions from and
correspondence with the Department of State.

On the 12th day of November, 1847, Senor Buetrago, secretary of state
and of the affairs of war and foreign relations and domestic
administration of the Supreme Government of the State of Nicaragua,
addressed a letter from the Government House at Leon to Mr. Buchanan,
then Secretary of State of the United States, asking the friendly
offices of this Government to prevent an attack upon the town of San
Juan de Nicaragua, then contemplated by the British authorities as the
allies of the Mosquito King. That letter, a translation of which is
herewith sent, distinctly charges that--

The object of the British in taking this key of the continent is not
to protect the small tribe of the Mosquitos, but to establish their own
empire over the Atlantic extremity of the line, by which a canal
connecting the two oceans is most practicable, insuring to them the
preponderance on the American continent, as well as their direct
relations with Asia, the East Indies, and other important countries in
the world.

No answer appears to have been returned to this letter.

A communication was received by my predecessor from Don Jose Guerrero,
President and Supreme Director of the State of Nicaragua, dated the 15th
day of December, 1847, expressing his desire to establish relations of
amity and commerce with the United States, a translation of which
is herewith inclosed. In this the President of Nicaragua says:

My desire was carried to the utmost on seeing in your message at
the opening of the Twenty-ninth Congress of your Republic a sincere
profession of political faith in all respects conformable with the
principles professed by these States, determined, as they are, to
sustain with firmness the continental cause, the rights of Americans in
general, and the noninterference of European powers in their concerns.

This letter announces the critical situation in which Nicaragua was
placed and charges upon the Court of St. James a "well-known design to
establish colonies on the coast of Nicaragua and to render itself master
of the interoceanic canal, for which so many facilities are presented by
the isthmus in that State." No reply was made to this letter.

The British ships of war _Alarm_ and _Vixen_ arrived at San Juan de
Nicaragua on the 8th day of February, 1848, and on the 12th of that
month the British forces, consisting of 260 officers and men, attacked
and captured the post of Serapaqui, garrisoned, according to the British
statements, by about 200 soldiers, after a sharp action of one hour and
forty minutes.

On the 7th day of March, 1848, articles of agreement were concluded by
Captain Locke, on the part of Great Britain, with the commissioners of
the State of Nicaragua in the island of Cuba, in the Lake of Nicaragua,
a copy of which will be found in the correspondence relating to the
Mosquito Territory presented to and published by the House of Commons of
Great Britain on the 3d day of July, 1848, herewith submitted. A copy of
the same document will also be found accompanying the note of the
minister for foreign affairs of Nicaragua to the Secretary of State of
the United States under date the 17th March, 1848.

By the third article of the agreement it is provided that Nicaragua
"shall not disturb the inhabitants of San Juan, understanding that any
such act will be considered by Great Britain as a declaration of open
hostilities." By the sixth article it is provided that these articles of
agreement will not "hinder Nicaragua from soliciting by means of a
commissioner to Her Britannic Majesty a final arrangement of these

The communication from Senor Sebastian Salinas, the secretary of foreign
affairs of the State of Nicaragua, to Mr. Buchanan, the Secretary of
State of the United States, dated 17th March, 1848, a translation of
which is herewith submitted, recites the aggressions of Great Britain
and the seizure of a part of the Nicaraguan territory in the name of the
Mosquito King. No answer appears to have been given to this letter.

On the 28th day of October, 1847, Joseph W. Livingston was appointed by
this Government consul of the United States for the port of San Juan de
Nicaragua. On the 16th day of December, 1847, after having received his
exequatur from the Nicaraguan Government, he addressed a letter to Mr.
Buchanan, Secretary of State, a copy of which is herewith submitted,
representing that he had been informed that the English Government would
take possession of San Juan de Nicaragua in January, 1848.

In another letter, dated the 8th of April, 1848, Mr. Livingston states
that "at the request of the minister for foreign affairs of Nicaragua
he transmits a package of papers containing the correspondence relative
to the occupation of the port of San Juan by British forces in the name
of the Mosquito nation."

On the 3d day of June, 1848, Elijah Hise, being appointed charge
d'affaires of the United States to Guatemala, received his instructions,
a copy of which is herewith submitted. In these instructions the
following passages occur:

The independence as well as the interests of the nations on this
continent require that they should maintain the American system of
policy entirely distinct from that which prevails in Europe. To
suffer any interference on the part of the European Governments with
the domestic concerns of the American Republics and to permit them
to establish new colonies upon this continent would be to jeopard
their independence and to ruin their interests. These truths ought
everywhere throughout this continent to be impressed on the public
mind. But what can the United States do to resist such European
interference whilst the Spanish American Republics continue to weaken
themselves by division and civil war and deprive themselves of the
ability of doing anything for their own protection?

This last significant inquiry seems plainly to intimate that the United
States could do nothing to arrest British aggression while the Spanish
American Republics continue to weaken themselves by division and civil
war and deprive themselves of the ability of doing anything for their

These instructions, which also state the dissolution of the Central
American Republic, formerly composed of the five States of Nicaragua,
Costa Rica, Honduras, San Salvador, and Guatemala, and their continued
separation, authorize Mr. Hise to conclude treaties of commerce with the
Republics of Guatemala and San Salvador, but conclude with saying that
it was not deemed advisable to empower Mr. Hise to conclude a treaty
with either Nicaragua, Honduras, or Costa Rica until more full and
statistical information should have been communicated by him to the
Department in regard to those States than that which it possesses.

The States of Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Honduras are the only Central
American States whose consent or cooperation would in any event be
necessary for the construction of the ship canal contemplated between
the Pacific and Atlantic oceans by the way of Lake Nicaragua.

In pursuance of the sixth article of the agreement of the 7th of March,
1848, between the forces of Great Britain and the authorities of
Nicaragua, Senor Francisco Castillon was appointed commissioner from
Nicaragua to Great Britain, and on the 5th day of November, 1848, while
at Washington on his way to London, addressed a letter to the Secretary
of State, a translation of which is herewith submitted, asking this
Government to instruct its minister plenipotentiary residing in London
to sustain the right of Nicaragua to her territory claimed by Mosquito,
and especially to the port of San Juan, expressing the hope of Nicaragua
"that the Government of the Union, firmly adhering to its principle of
resisting all foreign intervention in America, would not hesitate to
order such steps to be taken as might be effective before things reached
a point in which the intervention of the United States would prove of no

To this letter also no answer appears to have been returned, and no
instructions were given to our minister in London in pursuance of the
request contained in it.

On the 3d day of March, 1847, Christopher Hempstead was appointed consul
at Belize, and an application was then made for his exequatur through
our minister in London, Mr. Bancroft. Lord Palmerston referred Mr.
Bancroft's application for an exequatur for Mr. Hempstead to the
colonial office. The exequatur was granted, and Mr. Hempstead, in a
letter to the Department of State bearing date the 12th day of February,
1848, a copy of which is herewith submitted, acknowledged the receipt of
his exequatur from Her Britannic Majesty, by virtue of which he has
discharged his consular functions. Thus far this Government has
recognized the existence of a British colony at Belize, within the
territory of Honduras. I have recalled the consul, and have appointed no
one to supply his place.

On the 26th day of May, 1848, Mr. Hempstead represented in a letter to
the Department of State that the Indians had "applied to Her Majesty's
superintendent at Belize for protection, and had desired him to take
possession of the territory which they occupied and take them under his
protection as British subjects;" and he added that in the event of the
success of their application "the British Government would then have
possession of the entire coast from Cape Conte to San Juan de
Nicaragua." In another letter, dated the 29th day of July, 1848, he

I have not a doubt but the designs of Her Majesty's officers here and
on the Mosquito shore are to obtain territory on this continent.

The receipt of this letter was regularly acknowledged on the 29th day of
August, 1848.

When I came into office I found the British Government in possession of
the port of San Juan, which it had taken by force of arms after we had
taken possession of California and while we were engaged in the
negotiation of a treaty for the cession of it, and that no official
remonstrance had been made by this Government against the aggression,
nor any attempt to resist it. Efforts were then being made by certain
private citizens of the United States to procure from the State of
Nicaragua by contract the right to cut the proposed ship canal by the
way of the river San Juan and the lakes of Nicaragua and Managua to
Realejo, on the Pacific Ocean. A company of American citizens entered
into such a contract with the State of Nicaragua. Viewing the canal as a
matter of great importance to the people of the United States, I
resolved to adopt the policy of protecting the work and binding the
Government of Nicaragua, through whose territory it would pass, also to
protect it. The instructions to E. George Squier, appointed by me charge
d'affaires to Guatemala on the 2d day of April, 1849, are herewith
submitted, as fully indicating the views which governed me in directing
a treaty to be made with Nicaragua. I considered the interference of the
British Government on this continent in seizing the port of San Juan,
which commanded the route believed to be the most eligible for the canal
across the Isthmus, and occupying it at the very moment when it was
known, as I believe, to Great Britain that we were engaged in the
negotiation for the purchase of California, as an unfortunate
coincidence, and one calculated to lead to the inference that she
entertained designs by no means in harmony with the interests of the
United States.

Seeing that Mr. Hise had been positively instructed to make no treaty,
not even a treaty of commerce, with Nicaragua, Costa Rica, or Honduras,
I had no suspicion that he would attempt to act in opposition to his
instructions, and in September last I was for the first time informed
that he had actually negotiated two treaties with the State of
Nicaragua, the one a treaty of commerce, the other a treaty for the
construction of the proposed ship canal, which treaties he brought with
him on his return home. He also negotiated a treaty of commerce with
Honduras; and in each of these treaties it is recited that he had full
powers for the purpose. He had no such powers, and the whole proceeding
on his part with reference to those States was not only unauthorized by
instructions, but in opposition to those he had received from my
predecessor and after the date of his letter of recall and the
appointment of his successor. But I have no evidence that Mr. Hise,
whose letter of recall (a copy of which is herewith submitted) bears
date the 2d day of May, 1849, had received that letter on the 21st day
of June, when he negotiated the treaty with Nicaragua. The difficulty of
communicating with him was so great that I have reason to believe he had
not received it. He did not acknowledge it.

The twelfth article of the treaty negotiated by Mr. Hise in effect
guarantees the perfect independence of the State of Nicaragua and her
sovereignty over her alleged limits from the Caribbean Sea to the
Pacific Ocean, pledging the naval and military power of the United
States to support it. This treaty authorizes the chartering of a
corporation by this Government to cut a canal outside of the limits of
the United States, and gives to us the exclusive right to fortify and
command it. I have not approved it, nor have I now submitted it for
ratification; not merely because of the facts already mentioned, but
because on the 31st day of December last Senor Edwardo Carcache, on
being accredited to this Government as charge d'affaires from the State
of Nicaragua, in a note to the Secretary of State, a translation of
which is herewith sent, declared that he was "only empowered to exchange
ratifications of the treaty concluded with Mr. Squier, and that the
special convention concluded at Guatemala by Mr. Hise, the charge
d'affaires of the United States, and Senor Selva, the commissioner of
Nicaragua, had been, as was publicly and universally known, disapproved

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