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

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situated would not pay its fair value for land when by crossing the
Mississippi he could go upon the public lands and obtain a farm almost
without money and without price.

6. This bill will open one vast field for speculation. Men will not pay
$1.25 for lands when they can purchase them for one-fifth of that price.
Large numbers of actual settlers will be carried out by capitalists upon
agreements to give them half of the land for the improvement of the
other half. This can not be avoided. Secret agreements of this kind will
be numerous. In the entry of graduated lands the experience of the Land
Office justifies this objection.

7. We ought ever to maintain the most perfect equality between native
and naturalized citizens. They are equal, and ought always to remain
equal, before the laws. Our laws welcome foreigners to our shores, and
their rights will ever be respected. Whilst these are the sentiments on
which I have acted through life, it is not, in my opinion, expedient to
proclaim to all the nations of the earth that whoever shall arrive in
this country from a foreign shore and declare his intention to become a
citizen shall receive a farm of 160 acres at a cost of 25 or 20 cents
per acre if he will only reside on it and cultivate it. The invitation
extends to all, and if this bill becomes a law we may have numerous
actual settlers from China and other Eastern nations enjoying its
benefits on the great Pacific Slope. The bill makes a distinction in
favor of such persons over native and naturalized citizens. When applied
to such citizens, it is confined to such as are the heads of families,
but when applicable to persons of foreign birth recently arrived on our
shores there is no such restriction. Such persons need not be the heads
of families provided they have filed a declaration of intention to
become citizens. Perhaps this distinction was an inadvertence, but
it is, nevertheless, a part of the bill.

8. The bill creates an unjust distinction between persons claiming the
benefit of the preemption laws. Whilst it reduces the price of the land
to existing preemptors to 62-1/2 cents per acre and gives them a credit
on this sum for two years from the present date, no matter how long they
may have hitherto enjoyed the land, future preemptors will be compelled
to pay double this price per acre. There is no reason or justice in this

9. The effect of this bill on the public revenue must be apparent to
all. Should it become a law, the reduction of the price of land to
actual settlers to 25 cents per acre, with a credit of five years, and
the reduction of its price to existing preemptors to 62-1/2 cents per
acre, with a credit of two years, will so diminish the sale of other
public lands as to render the expectation of future revenue from that
source, beyond the expenses of survey and management, illusory. The
Secretary of the Interior estimated the revenue from the public lands
for the next fiscal year at $4,000,000, on the presumption that the
present land system would remain unchanged. Should this bill become
a law, he does not believe that $1,000,000 will be derived from this

10. This bill lays the ax at the root of our present admirable land
system. The public land is an inheritance of vast value to us and to
our descendants. It is a resource to which we can resort in the hour of
difficulty and danger. It has been managed heretofore with the greatest
wisdom under existing laws. In this management the rights of actual
settlers have been conciliated with the interests of the Government. The
price to all has been reduced from $2 per acre to $1.25 for fresh lands,
and the claims of actual settlers have been secured by our preemption
laws. Any man can now acquire a title in fee simple to a homestead of
80 acres, at the minimum price of $1.25 per acre, for $100. Should the
present system remain, we shall derive a revenue from the public lands
of $10,000,000 per annum, when the bounty-land warrants are satisfied,
without oppression to any human being. In time of war, when all other
sources of revenue are seriously impaired, this will remain intact.
It may become the best security for public loans hereafter, in times
of difficulty and danger, as it has been heretofore. Why should we
impair or destroy the system at the present moment? What necessity
exists for it?

The people of the United States have advanced with steady but rapid
strides to their present condition of power and prosperity. They have
been guided in their progress by the fixed principle of protecting the
equal rights of all, whether they be rich or poor. No agrarian sentiment
has ever prevailed among them. The honest poor man, by frugality and
industry, can in any part of our country acquire a competence for
himself and his family, and in doing this he feels that he eats the
bread of independence. He desires no charity, either from the Government
or from his neighbors. This bill, which proposes to give him land at an
almost nominal price out of the property of the Government, will go far
to demoralize the people and repress this noble spirit of independence.
It may introduce among us those pernicious social theories which have
proved so disastrous in other countries.



WASHINGTON, _March 28, 1860_.

_To the House of Representatives_:

After a delay which has afforded me ample time for reflection, and after
much and careful deliberation, I find myself constrained by an imperious
sense of duty, as a coordinate branch of the Federal Government, to
protest against the first two clauses of the first resolution adopted
by the House of Representatives on the 5th instant, and published in the
Congressional Globe on the succeeding day. These clauses are in the
following words:

_Resolved_, That a committee of five members be appointed by the Speaker
for the purpose, first, of investigating whether the President of the
United States or any other officer of the Government has, by money,
patronage, or other improper means, sought to influence the action of
Congress or any committee thereof for or against the passage of any law
appertaining to the rights of any State or Territory; and, second, also
to inquire into and investigate whether any officer or officers of the
Government have, by combination or otherwise, prevented or defeated, or
attempted to prevent or defeat, the execution of any law or laws now
upon the statute book, and whether the President has failed or refused
to compel the execution of any law thereof.

I confine myself exclusively to these two branches of the resolution,
because the portions of it which follow relate to alleged abuses in
post-offices, navy-yards, public buildings, and other public works
of the United States. In such cases inquiries are highly proper in
themselves and belong equally to the Senate and the House, as incident
to their legislative duties and being necessary to enable them to
discover and to provide the appropriate legislative remedies for any
abuses which may be ascertained. Although the terms of the latter
portion of the resolution are extremely vague and general, yet my sole
purpose in adverting to them at present is to mark the broad line of
distinction between the accusatory and the remedial clauses of this
resolution. The House of Representatives possess no power under the
Constitution over the first or accusatory portion of the resolution
except as an impeaching body, whilst over the last, in common with the
Senate, their authority as a legislative body is fully and cheerfully

It is solely in reference to the first or impeaching power that I
propose to make a few observations. Except in this single case, the
Constitution has invested the House of Representatives with no power,
no jurisdiction, no supremacy whatever over the President. In all other
respects he is quite as independent of them as they are of him. As a
coordinate branch of the Government he is their equal. Indeed, he is the
only direct representative on earth of the people of all and each of the
sovereign States. To them, and to them alone, is he responsible whilst
acting within the sphere of his constitutional duty, and not in any
manner to the House of Representatives. The people have thought proper
to invest him with the most honorable, responsible, and dignified office
in the world, and the individual, however unworthy, now holding this
exalted position, will take care, so far as in him lies, that their
rights and prerogatives shall never be violated in his person, but
shall pass to his successors unimpaired by the adoption of a dangerous
precedent. He will defend them to the last extremity against any
unconstitutional attempt, come from what quarter it may, to abridge
the constitutional rights of the Executive and render him subservient
to any human power except themselves.

The people have not confined the President to the exercise of executive
duties. They have also conferred upon him a large measure of legislative
discretion. No bill can become a law without his approval, as
representing the people of the United States, unless it shall pass after
his veto by a majority of two-thirds of both Houses. In his legislative
capacity he might, in common with the Senate and the House, institute an
inquiry to ascertain any facts which ought to influence his judgment in
approving or vetoing any bill.

This participation in the performance of legislative duties between the
coordinate branches of the Government ought to inspire the conduct of
all of them in their relations toward each other with mutual forbearance
and respect. At least each has a right to demand justice from the other.
The cause of complaint is that the constitutional rights and immunities
of the Executive have been violated in the person of the President.

The trial of an impeachment of the President before the Senate
on charges preferred and prosecuted against him by the House of
Representatives would be an imposing spectacle for the world. In
the result not only his removal from the Presidential office would be
involved, but, what is of infinitely greater importance to himself, his
character, both in the eyes of the present and of future generations,
might possibly be tarnished. The disgrace cast upon him would in some
degree be reflected upon the character of the American people, who
elected him. Hence the precautions adopted by the Constitution to
secure a fair trial. On such a trial it declares that "the Chief
Justice shall preside." This was doubtless because the framers of
the Constitution believed it to be possible that the Vice-President
might be biased by the fact that "in case of the removal of the
President from office ... the same shall devolve on the Vice-President."

The preliminary proceedings in the House in the case of charges which
may involve impeachment have been well and wisely settled by long
practice upon principles of equal justice both to the accused and to
the people. The precedent established in the case of Judge Peck, of
Missouri, in 1831, after a careful review of all former precedents,
will, I venture to predict, stand the test of time.

In that case Luke Edward Lawless, the accuser, presented a petition to
the House, in which he set forth minutely and specifically his causes of
complaint. He prayed "that the conduct and proceedings in this behalf of
said Judge Peck may be inquired into by your honorable body, and such
decision made thereon as to your wisdom and justice shall seem proper."
This petition was referred to the Judiciary Committee; such has ever
been deemed the appropriate committee to make similar investigations.
It is a standing committee, supposed to be appointed without reference
to any special case, and at all times is presumed to be composed of
the most eminent lawyers in the House from different portions of the
Union, whose acquaintance with judicial proceedings and whose habits of
investigation qualify them peculiarly for the task. No tribunal, from
their position and character, could in the nature of things be more
impartial. In the case of Judge Peck the witnesses were selected by the
committee itself, with a view to ascertain the truth of the charge.
They were cross-examined by him, and everything was conducted in such
a manner as to afford him no reasonable cause of complaint. In view of
this precedent, and, what is of far greater importance, in view of the
Constitution and the principles of eternal justice, in what manner
has the President of the United States been treated by the House of
Representatives? Mr. John Covode, a Representative from Pennsylvania, is
the accuser of the President. Instead of following the wise precedents
of former times, and especially that in the case of Judge Peck, and
referring the accusation to the Committee on the Judiciary, the House
have made my accuser one of my judges.

To make the accuser the judge is a violation of the principles of
universal justice, and is condemned by the practice of all civilized
nations. Every freeman must revolt at such a spectacle. I am to
appear before Mr. Covode, either personally or by a substitute, to
cross-examine the witnesses which he may produce before himself to
sustain his own accusations against me; and perhaps even this poor
boon may be denied to the President.

And what is the nature of the investigation which his resolution
proposes to institute? It is as vague and general as the English
language affords words in which to make it. The committee is to inquire,
not into any specific charge or charges, but whether the President has,
by "money, patronage, or other improper means, sought to influence,"
not the action of any individual member or members of Congress, but
"the action" of the entire body "of Congress" itself "or any committee
thereof." The President might have had some glimmering of the nature of
the offense to be investigated had his accuser pointed to the act or
acts of Congress which he sought to pass or to defeat by the employment
of "money, patronage, or other improper means." But the accusation
is bounded by no such limits. It extends to the whole circle of
legislation--to interference "for or against the passage of any law
appertaining to the rights of any State or Territory." And what law does
not appertain to the rights of some State or Territory? And what law or
laws has the President failed to execute? These might easily have been
pointed out had any such existed.

Had Mr. Lawless asked an inquiry to be made by the House whether Judge
Peck, in general terms, had not violated his judicial duties, without
the specification of any particular act, I do not believe there would
have been a single vote in that body in favor of the inquiry.

Since the time of the star-chamber and of general warrants there has
been no such proceeding in England.

The House of Representatives, the high impeaching power of the country,
without consenting to hear a word of explanation, have indorsed this
accusation against the President and made it their own act. They even
refused to permit a Member to inquire of the President's accuser what
were the specific charges against him. Thus, in this preliminary
accusation of "high crimes and misdemeanors" against a coordinate branch
of the Government, under the impeaching power, the House refused to hear
a single suggestion, even in regard to the correct mode of proceeding,
but without a moment's delay passed the accusatory resolutions under
the pressure of the previous question.

In the institution of a prosecution for any offense against the most
humble citizen--and I claim for myself no greater rights than he
enjoys--the constitutions of the United States and of the several States
require that he shall be informed in the very beginning of the nature
and cause of the accusation against him, in order to enable him to
prepare for his defense. There are other principles which I might
enumerate, not less sacred, presenting an impenetrable shield to protect
every citizen falsely charged with a criminal offense. These have been
violated in the prosecution instituted by the House of Representatives
against the executive branch of the Government. Shall the President
alone be deprived of the protection of these great principles which
prevail in every land where a ray of liberty penetrates the gloom of
despotism? Shall the Executive alone be deprived of rights which all
his fellow-citizens enjoy? The whole proceeding against him justifies
the fears of those wise and great men who, before the Constitution was
adopted by the States, apprehended that the tendency of the Government
was to the aggrandizement of the legislative at the expense of the
executive and judicial departments.

I again declare emphatically that I make this protest for no reason
personal to myself, and I do it with perfect respect for the House of
Representatives, in which I had the honor of serving as a member for
five successive terms. I have lived long in this goodly land, and have
enjoyed all the offices and honors which my country could bestow. Amid
all the political storms through which I have passed, the present is the
first attempt which has ever been made, to my knowledge, to assail my
personal or official integrity; and this as the time is approaching
when I shall voluntarily retire from the service of my country. I feel
proudly conscious that there is no public act of my life which will not
bear the strictest scrutiny. I defy all investigation. Nothing but the
basest perjury can sully my good name. I do not fear even this, because
I cherish an humble confidence that the gracious Being who has hitherto
defended and protected me against the shafts of falsehood and malice
will not desert me now when I have become "old and gray headed." I can
declare before God and my country that no human being (with an exception
scarcely worthy of notice) has at any period of my life dared to
approach me with a corrupt or dishonorable proposition, and until recent
developments it had never entered into my imagination that any person,
even in the storm of exasperated political excitement, would charge me
in the most remote degree with having made such a proposition to any
human being. I may now, however, exclaim in the language of complaint
employed by my first and greatest predecessor, that I have been abused
"in such exaggerated and indecent terms as could scarcely be applied
to a Nero, to a notorious defaulter, or even to a common pickpocket."

I do therefore, for the reasons stated and in the name of the people of
the several States, solemnly protest against these proceedings of the
House of Representatives, because they are in violation of the rights of
the coordinate executive branch of the Government and subversive of its
constitutional independence; because they are calculated to foster a
band of interested parasites and informers, ever ready, for their own
advantage, to swear before _ex parte_ committees to pretended private
conversations between the President and themselves, incapable from their
nature of being disproved, thus furnishing material for harassing him,
degrading him in the eyes of the country, and eventually, should he be a
weak or a timid man, rendering him subservient to improper influences in
order to avoid such persecutions and annoyances; because they tend to
destroy that harmonious action for the common good which ought to be
maintained, and which I sincerely desire to cherish, between coordinate
branches of the Government; and, finally, because, if unresisted, they
would establish a precedent dangerous and embarrassing to all my
successors, to whatever political party they might be attached.


WASHINGTON, _June 22, 1860_.

_To the House of Representatives_:

In my message to the House of Representatives of the 28th March last I
solemnly protested against the creation of a committee, at the head of
which was placed my accuser, for the purpose of investigating whether
the President had, "by money, patronage, or other improper means, sought
to influence the action of Congress or any committee thereof for or
against the passage of any law appertaining to the rights of any State
or Territory," I protested against this because it was destitute of any
specification; because it referred to no particular act to enable the
President to prepare for his defense; because it deprived him of the
constitutional guards which, in common with every citizen of the United
States, he possesses for his protection, and because it assailed his
constitutional independence as a coordinate branch of the Government.

There is an enlightened justice, as well as a beautiful symmetry, in
every part of the Constitution. This is conspicuously manifested in
regard to impeachments. The House of Representatives possesses "the
sole power of impeachment," the Senate "the sole power to try all
impeachments;" and the impeachable offenses are "treason, bribery, or
other high crimes or misdemeanors." The practice of the House from the
earliest times had been in accordance with its own dignity, the rights
of the accused, and the demands of justice. At the commencement of each
judicial investigation which might lead to an impeachment specific
charges were always preferred; the accused had an opportunity of
cross-examining the witnesses, and he was placed in full possession of
the precise nature of the offense which he had to meet. An impartial and
elevated standing committee was charged with this investigation, upon
which no member inspired with the ancient sense of honor and justice
would have served had he ever expressed an opinion against the accused.
Until the present occasion it was never deemed proper to transform the
accuser into the judge and to confer upon him the selection of his own

The charges made against me in vague and general terms were of such
a false and atrocious character that I did not entertain a moment's
apprehension for the result. They were abhorrent to every principle
instilled into me from my youth and every practice of my life, and I
did not believe it possible that the man existed who would so basely
perjure himself as to swear to the truth of any such accusations. In
this conviction I am informed I have not been mistaken.

In my former protest, therefore, I truly and emphatically declared
that it was made for no reason personal to myself, but because the
proceedings of the House were in violation of the rights of the
coordinate executive branch of the Government, subversive of its
constitutional independence, and if unresisted would establish
a precedent dangerous and embarrassing to all my successors.
Notwithstanding all this, if the committee had not transcended
the authority conferred upon it by the resolution of the House of
Representatives, broad and general as this was, I should have remained
silent upon the subject. What I now charge is that they have acted as
though they possessed unlimited power, and, without any warrant whatever
in the resolution under which they were appointed, have pursued a course
not merely at war with the constitutional rights of the Executive, but
tending to degrade the Presidential office itself to such a degree as to
render it unworthy of the acceptance of any man of honor or principle.

The resolution of the House, so far as it is accusatory of the
President, is confined to an inquiry whether he had used corrupt or
improper means to influence the action of Congress or any of its
committees on legislative measures pending before them--nothing more,
nothing less. I have not learned through the newspapers or in any other
mode that the committee have touched the other accusatory branch of the
resolution, charging the President with a violation of duty in failing
to execute some law or laws. This branch of the resolution is therefore
out of the question. By what authority, then, have the committee
undertaken to investigate the course of the President in regard to the
convention which framed the Lecompton constitution? By what authority
have they undertaken to pry into our foreign relations for the purpose
of assailing him on account of the instructions given by the Secretary
of State to our minister in Mexico relative to the Tehuantepec route?
By what authority have they inquired into the causes of removal from
office, and this from the parties themselves removed, with a view to
prejudice his character, notwithstanding this power of removal belongs
exclusively to the President under the Constitution, was so decided by
the First Congress in the year 1789, and has accordingly ever since been
exercised? There is in the resolution no pretext of authority for the
committee to investigate the question of the printing of the post-office
blanks; nor is it to be supposed that the House, if asked, would have
granted such an authority, because this question had been previously
committed to two other committees--one in the Senate and the other in
the House. Notwithstanding this absolute want of power, the committee
rushed into this investigation in advance of all other subjects.

The committee proceeded for months, from March 22, 1860, to examine _ex
parte_ and without any notice to myself into every subject which could
possibly affect my character. Interested and vindictive witnesses were
summoned and examined before them; and the first and only information of
their testimony which, in almost every instance, I received was obtained
from the publication of such portions of it as could injuriously affect
myself in the New York journals. It mattered not that these statements
were, so far as I have learned, disproved by the most respectable
witnesses who happened to be on the spot. The telegraph was silent
respecting these contradictions. It was a secret committee in regard
to the testimony in my defense, but it was public in regard to all the
testimony which could by possibility reflect on my character. The poison
was left to produce its effect upon the public mind, whilst the antidote
was carefully withheld.

In their examinations the committee violated the most sacred and
honorable confidences existing among men. Private correspondence,
which a truly honorable man would never even entertain a distant thought
of divulging, was dragged to light. Different persons in official and
confidential relations with myself, and with whom it was supposed I
might have held conversations the revelation of which would do me
injury, were examined. Even members of the Senate and members of my own
Cabinet, both my constitutional advisers, were called upon to testify,
for the purpose of discovering something, if possible, to my discredit.

The distribution of the patronage of the Government is by far the most
disagreeable duty of the President. Applicants are so numerous and their
applications are pressed with such eagerness by their friends, both in
and out of Congress, that the selection of one for any desirable office
gives offense to many. Disappointed applicants, removed officers, and
those who for any cause, real or imaginary, had become hostile to the
Administration presented themselves or were invited by a summons to
appear before the committee. These are the most dangerous witnesses.
Even with the best intentions they are so influenced by prejudice and
disappointment that they almost inevitably discolor truth. They swear to
their own version of private conversations with the President without
the possibility of contradiction. His lips are sealed, and he is left
at their mercy. He can not, as a coordinate branch of the Government,
appear before a committee of investigation to contradict the oaths of
such witnesses. Every coward knows that he can employ insulting language
against the President with impunity, and every false or prejudiced
witness can attempt to swear away his character before such a committee
without the fear of contradiction.

Thus for months, whilst doing my best at one end of the Avenue to
perform my high and responsible duties to the country, has there been a
committee of the House of Representatives in session at the other end of
the Avenue spreading a drag net, without the shadow of authority from
the House, over the whole Union, to catch any disappointed man willing
to malign my character; and all this in secret conclave. The lion's
mouth at Venice, into which secret denunciations were dropped, is an
apt illustration of the Covode committee. The star-chamber, tyrannical
and odious as it was, never proceeded in such a manner. For centuries
there has been nothing like it in any civilized country, except the
revolutionary tribunal of France in the days of Robespierre. Now I
undertake to state and to prove that should the proceedings of the
committee be sanctioned by the House and become a precedent for future
times the balance of the Constitution will be entirely upset, and there
will no longer remain the three coordinate and independent branches of
the Government--legislative, executive, and judicial. The worst fears of
the patriots and statesmen who framed the Constitution in regard to the
usurpations of the legislative on the executive and judicial branches
will then be realized. In the language of Mr. Madison, speaking on this
very subject in the forty-eighth number of the Federalist:

In a representative republic, where the executive magistracy is
carefully limited, both in the extent and duration of its power, and
where the legislative power is exercised by an assembly which is
inspired, by a supposed influence over the people, with an intrepid
confidence in its own strength, which is sufficiently numerous to feel
all the passions which actuate a multitude, yet not so numerous as to
be incapable of pursuing the objects of its passions by means which
reason prescribes, it is against the enterprising ambition of this
department that the people ought to indulge all their jealousy and
exhaust all their precautions.

And in the expressive and pointed language of Mr. Jefferson, when
speaking of the tendency of the legislative branch of Government to
usurp the rights of the weaker branches:

The concentrating these in the same hands is precisely the definition
of despotic government. It will be no alleviation that these powers
will be exercised by a plurality of hands, and not by a single one.
One hundred and seventy-three despots would surely be as oppressive
as one. Let those who doubt it turn their eyes on the Republic of
Venice. As little will it avail us that they are chosen by ourselves.
An elective despotism was not the government we fought for, but one
which should not only be founded on free principles, but in which the
powers of government should be so divided and balanced among several
bodies of magistracy as that no one could transcend their legal limits
without being effectually checked and controlled by the others.

Should the proceedings of the Covode committee become a precedent, both
the letter and spirit of the Constitution will be violated. One of the
three massive columns on which the whole superstructure rests will be
broken down. Instead of the Executive being a coordinate it will become
a subordinate branch of the Government. The Presidential office will
be dragged into the dust. The House of Representatives will then have
rendered the Executive almost necessarily subservient to its wishes,
instead of being independent. How is it possible that two powers in the
State can be coordinate and independent of each other if the one claims
and exercises the power to reprove and to censure all the official acts
and all the private conversations of the other, and this upon _ex parte_
testimony before a secret inquisitorial committee in short, to assume a
general censorship over the other? The idea is as absurd in public as
it would be in private life. Should the President attempt to assert and
maintain his own independence, future Covode committees may dragoon him
into submission by collecting the hosts of disappointed office hunters,
removed officers, and those who desire to live upon the public Treasury,
which must follow in the wake of every Administration, and they in
secret conclave will swear away his reputation. Under such circumstances
he must be a very bold man should he not surrender at discretion and
consent to exercise his authority according to the will of those
invested with this terrific power. The sovereign people of the several
States have elected him to the highest and most honorable office in
the world. He is their only direct representative in the Government.
By their Constitution they have made him Commander in Chief of their
Army and Navy. He represents them in their intercourse with foreign
nations. Clothed with their dignity and authority, he occupies a proud
position before all nations, civilized and savage. With the consent of
the Senate, he appoints all the important officers of the Government.
He exercises the veto power, and to that extent controls the legislation
of Congress. For the performance of these high duties he is responsible
to the people of the several States, and not in any degree to the House
of Representatives.

Shall he surrender these high powers, conferred upon him as the
representative of the American people for their benefit, to the House
to be exercised under their overshadowing influence and control? Shall
he alone of all the citizens of the United States be denied a fair
trial? Shall he alone not be "informed of the nature and cause of the
accusation" against him? Shall he alone not "be confronted with the
witnesses" against him? Shall the House of Representatives, usurping the
powers of the Senate, proceed to try the President through the agency of
a secret committee of the body, where it is impossible he can make any
defense, and then, without affording him an opportunity of being heard,
pronounce a judgment of censure against him? The very same rule might
be applied for the very same reason to every judge of every court of
the United States. From what part of the Constitution is this terrible
secret inquisitorial power derived? No such express power exists.
From which of the enumerated powers can it be inferred? It is true the
House can not pronounce the formal judgment against him of "removal
from office," but they can by their judgment of censure asperse his
reputation, and thus to the extent of their influence render the office
contemptible. An example is at hand of the reckless manner in which this
power of censure can be employed in high party times. The House on a
recent occasion have attempted to degrade the President by adopting the
resolution of Mr. John Sherman declaring that he, in conjunction with
the Secretary of the Navy, "by receiving and considering the party
relations of bidders for contracts and the effect of awarding contracts
upon pending elections, have set an example dangerous to the public
safety and deserving the reproof of this House."

It will scarcely be credited that the sole pretext for this vote of
censure was the simple fact that in disposing of the numerous letters
of every imaginable character which I daily receive I had in the usual
course of business referred a letter from Colonel Patterson, of
Philadelphia, in relation to a contract, to the attention of the
Secretary of the Navy, the head of the appropriate Department, without
expressing or intimating any opinion whatever on the subject; and to
make the matter if possible still plainer, the Secretary had informed
the committee that "_the President did not in any manner interfere in
this case, nor has he in any other case of contract since I have been
in the Department_." The absence of all proof to sustain this attempt
to degrade the President, whilst it manifests the venom of the shaft
aimed at him, has destroyed the vigor of the bow.

To return after this digression: Should the House, by the institution
of Covode committees, votes of censure, and other devices to harass the
President, reduce him to subservience to their will and render him their
creature, then the well-balanced Government which our fathers framed
will be annihilated. This conflict has already been commenced in earnest
by the House against the Executive. A bad precedent rarely, if ever,
dies. It will, I fear, be pursued in the time of my successors, no
matter what may be their political character. Should secret committees
be appointed with unlimited authority to range over all the words and
actions, and, if possible, the very thoughts, of the President with a
view to discover something in his past life prejudicial to his character
from parasites and informers, this would be an ordeal which scarcely any
mere man since the fall could endure. It would be to subject him to a
reign of terror from which the stoutest and purest heart might shrink.
I have passed triumphantly through this ordeal. My vindication is
complete. The committee have reported no resolution looking to an
impeachment against me; no resolution of censure; not even a resolution
pointing out any abuses in any of the Executive Departments of the
Government to be corrected by legislation. This is the highest
commendation which could be bestowed on the heads of these Departments.
The sovereign people of the States will, however, I trust, save my
successors, whoever they may be, from any such ordeal. They are frank,
bold, and honest. They detest delators and informers. I therefore, in
the name and as the representative of this great people, and standing
upon the ramparts of the Constitution which they "have ordained and
established," do solemnly protest against these unprecedented and
unconstitutional proceedings.

There was still another committee raised by the House on the 6th
March last, on motion of Mr. Hoard, to which I had not the slightest
objection. The resolution creating it was confined to specific charges,
which I have ever since been ready and willing to meet. I have at
all times invited and defied fair investigation upon constitutional
principles. I have received no notice that this committee have ever
proceeded to the investigation.

Why should the House of Representatives desire to encroach on the other
departments of the Government? Their rightful powers are ample for every
legitimate purpose. They are the impeaching body. In their legislative
capacity it is their most wise and wholesome prerogative to institute
rigid examinations into the manner in which all departments of the
Government are conducted, with a view to reform abuses, to promote
economy, and to improve every branch of administration. Should they
find reason to believe in the course of their examinations that any
grave offense had been committed by the President or any officer of
the Government rendering it proper, in their judgment, to resort to
impeachment, their course would be plain. They would then transfer the
question from their legislative to their accusatory jurisdiction, and
take care that in all the preliminary judicial proceedings preparatory
to the vote of articles of impeachment the accused should enjoy the
benefit of cross-examining the witnesses and all the other safeguards
with which the Constitution surrounds every American citizen.

If in a legislative investigation it should appear that the public
interest required the removal of any officer of the Government, no
President has ever existed who, after giving him a fair hearing, would
hesitate to apply the remedy.

This I take to be the ancient and well-established practice. An
adherence to it will best promote the harmony and the dignity of the
intercourse between the coordinate branches of the Government and render
us all more respectable both in the eyes of our own countrymen and of
foreign nations.





Whereas an extraordinary occasion has occurred rendering it necessary
and proper that the Senate of the United States shall be convened to
receive and act upon such communications as have been or may be made
to it on the part of the Executive:

Now, therefore, I, James Buchanan, President of the United States, do
issue this my proclamation, declaring that an extraordinary occasion
requires the Senate of the United States to convene for the transaction
of business at the Capitol, in the city of Washington, on the 26th day
of June instant, at 12 o'clock at noon of that day, of which all who
shall then be entitled to act as members of that body are hereby
required to take notice.


Given under my hand and the seal of the United States, at Washington,
this 25th day of June, A. D. 1860, and of the Independence of the United
States the eighty-fourth.


By the President:
_Secretary of State_.


WASHINGTON CITY, _December 3, 1860_.

_Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives_:

Throughout the year since our last meeting the country has been
eminently prosperous in all its material interests. The general health
has been excellent, our harvests have been abundant, and plenty smiles
throughout the land. Our commerce and manufactures have been prosecuted
with energy and industry, and have yielded fair and ample returns. In
short, no nation in the tide of time has ever presented a spectacle of
greater material prosperity than we have done until within a very recent

Why is it, then, that discontent now so extensively prevails, and the
Union of the States, which is the source of all these blessings, is
threatened with destruction?

The long-continued and intemperate interference of the Northern people
with the question of slavery in the Southern States has at length
produced its natural effects. The different sections of the Union are
now arrayed against each other, and the time has arrived, so much
dreaded by the Father of his Country, when hostile geographical parties
have been formed.

I have long foreseen and often forewarned my countrymen of the now
impending danger. This does not proceed solely from the claim on the
part of Congress or the Territorial legislatures to exclude slavery from
the Territories, nor from the efforts of different States to defeat the
execution of the fugitive-slave law. All or any of these evils might
have been endured by the South without danger to the Union (as others
have been) in the hope that time and reflection might apply the remedy.
The immediate peril arises not so much from these causes as from the
fact that the incessant and violent agitation of the slavery question
throughout the North for the last quarter of a century has at length
produced its malign influence on the slaves and inspired them with vague
notions of freedom. Hence a sense of security no longer exists around
the family altar. This feeling of peace at home has given place to
apprehensions of servile insurrections. Many a matron throughout the
South retires at night in dread of what may befall herself and children
before the morning. Should this apprehension of domestic danger, whether
real or imaginary, extend and intensify itself until it shall pervade
the masses of the Southern people, then disunion will become inevitable.
Self-preservation is the first law of nature, and has been implanted in
the heart of man by his Creator for the wisest purpose; and no political
union, however fraught with blessings and benefits in all other
respects, can long continue if the necessary consequence be to render
the homes and the firesides of nearly half the parties to it habitually
and hopelessly insecure. Sooner or later the bonds of such a union must
be severed. It is my conviction that this fatal period has not yet
arrived, and my prayer to God is that He would preserve the Constitution
and the Union throughout all generations.

But let us take warning in time and remove the cause of danger. It can
not be denied that for five and twenty years the agitation at the North
against slavery has been incessant. In 1835 pictorial handbills and
inflammatory appeals were circulated extensively throughout the South of
a character to excite the passions of the slaves, and, in the language
of General Jackson, "to stimulate them to insurrection and produce all
the horrors of a servile war." This agitation has ever since been
continued by the public press, by the proceedings of State and county
conventions and by abolition sermons and lectures. The time of Congress
has been occupied in violent speeches on this never-ending subject, and
appeals, in pamphlet and other forms, indorsed by distinguished names,
have been sent forth from this central point and spread broadcast over
the Union.

How easy would it be for the American people to settle the slavery
question forever and to restore peace and harmony to this distracted
country! They, and they alone, can do it. All that is necessary to
accomplish the object, and all for which the slave States have ever
contended, is to be let alone and permitted to manage their domestic
institutions in their own way. As sovereign States, they, and they
alone, are responsible before God and the world for the slavery existing
among them. For this the people of the North are not more responsible
and have no more right to interfere than with similar institutions in
Russia or in Brazil.

Upon their good sense and patriotic forbearance I confess I still
greatly rely. Without their aid it is beyond the power of any President,
no matter what may be his own political proclivities, to restore peace
and harmony among the States. Wisely limited and restrained as is his
power under our Constitution and laws, he alone can accomplish but
little for good or for evil on such a momentous question.

And this brings me to observe that the election of any one of our
fellow-citizens to the office of President does not of itself afford
just cause for dissolving the Union. This is more especially true if
his election has been effected by a mere plurality, and not a majority
of the people, and has resulted from transient and temporary causes,
which may probably never again occur. In order to justify a resort to
revolutionary resistance, the Federal Government must be guilty of "a
deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise" of powers not granted by
the Constitution. The late Presidential election, however, has been held
in strict conformity with its express provisions. How, then, can the
result justify a revolution to destroy this very Constitution? Reason,
justice, a regard for the Constitution, all require that we shall wait
for some overt and dangerous act on the part of the President elect
before resorting to such a remedy. It is said, however, that the
antecedents of the President elect have been sufficient to justify the
fears of the South that he will attempt to invade their constitutional
rights. But are such apprehensions of contingent danger in the future
sufficient to justify the immediate destruction of the noblest system of
government ever devised by mortals? From the very nature of his office
and its high responsibilities he must necessarily be conservative. The
stern duty of administering the vast and complicated concerns of this
Government affords in itself a guaranty that he will not attempt any
violation of a clear constitutional right.

After all, he is no more than the chief executive officer of the
Government. His province is not to make but to execute the laws.
And it is a remarkable fact in our history that, notwithstanding
the repeated efforts of the antislavery party, no single act has ever
passed Congress, unless we may possibly except the Missouri compromise,
impairing in the slightest degree the rights of the South to their
property in slaves; and it may also be observed, judging from present
indications, that no probability exists of the passage of such an act by
a majority of both Houses, either in the present or the next Congress.
Surely under these circumstances we ought to be restrained from present
action by the precept of Him who spake as man never spoke, that
"sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof," The day of evil may never
come unless we shall rashly bring it upon ourselves.

It is alleged as one cause for immediate secession that the Southern
States are denied equal rights with the other States in the common
Territories. But by what authority are these denied? Not by Congress,
which has never passed, and I believe never will pass, any act to
exclude slavery from these Territories; and certainly not by the Supreme
Court, which has solemnly decided that slaves are property, and, like
all other property, their owners have a right to take them into the
common Territories and hold them there under the protection of the

So far then, as Congress is concerned, the objection is not to anything
they have already done, but to what they may do hereafter. It will
surely be admitted that this apprehension of future danger is no good
reason for an immediate dissolution of the Union. It is true that the
Territorial legislature of Kansas, on the 23d February, 1860, passed in
great haste an act over the veto of the governor declaring that slavery
"is and shall be forever prohibited in this Territory." Such an act,
however, plainly violating the rights of property secured by the
Constitution, will surely be declared void by the judiciary whenever
it shall be presented in a legal form.

Only three days after my inauguration the Supreme Court of the United
States solemnly adjudged that this power did not exist in a Territorial
legislature. Yet such has been the factious temper of the times that the
correctness of this decision has been extensively impugned before the
people, and the question has given rise to angry political conflicts
throughout the country. Those who have appealed from this judgment of
our highest constitutional tribunal to popular assemblies would, if they
could, invest a Territorial legislature with power to annul the sacred
rights of property. This power Congress is expressly forbidden by the
Federal Constitution to exercise. Every State legislature in the Union
is forbidden by its own constitution to exercise it. It can not be
exercised in any State except by the people in their highest sovereign
capacity, when framing or amending their State constitution. In like
manner it can only be exercised by the people of a Territory represented
in a convention of delegates for the purpose of framing a constitution
preparatory to admission as a State into the Union. Then, and not until
then, are they invested with power to decide the question whether
slavery shall or shall not exist within their limits. This is an act of
sovereign authority, and not of subordinate Territorial legislation.
Were it otherwise, then indeed would the equality of the States in the
Territories be destroyed, and the rights of property in slaves would
depend not upon the guaranties of the Constitution, but upon the
shifting majorities of an irresponsible Territorial legislature. Such
a doctrine, from its intrinsic unsoundness, can not long influence any
considerable portion of our people, much less can it afford a good
reason for a dissolution of the Union.

The most palpable violations of constitutional duty which have yet been
committed consist in the acts of different State legislatures to defeat
the execution of the fugitive-slave law. It ought to be remembered,
however, that for these acts neither Congress nor any President can
justly be held responsible. Having been passed in violation of the
Federal Constitution, they are therefore null and void. All the courts,
both State and national, before whom the question has arisen have from
the beginning declared the fugitive-slave law to be constitutional. The
single exception is that of a State court in Wisconsin, and this has not
only been reversed by the proper appellate tribunal, but has met with
such universal reprobation that there can be no danger from it as a
precedent. The validity of this law has been established over and over
again by the Supreme Court of the United States with perfect unanimity.
It is founded upon an express provision of the Constitution, requiring
that fugitive slaves who escape from service in one State to another
shall be "delivered up" to their masters. Without this provision it is a
well-known historical fact that the Constitution itself could never have
been adopted by the Convention. In one form or other, under the acts of
1793 and 1850, both being substantially the same, the fugitive-slave
law has been the law of the land from the days of Washington until the
present moment. Here, then, a clear case is presented in which it will
be the duty of the next President, as it has been my own, to act with
vigor in executing this supreme law against the conflicting enactments
of State legislatures. Should he fail in the performance of this high
duty, he will then have manifested a disregard of the Constitution and
laws, to the great injury of the people of nearly one-half of the States
of the Union. But are we to presume in advance that he will thus violate
his duty? This would be at war with every principle of justice and of
Christian charity. Let us wait for the overt act. The fugitive-slave
law has been carried into execution in every contested case since the
commencement of the present Administration, though often, it is to
be regretted, with great loss and inconvenience to the master and
with considerable expense to the Government. Let us trust that the
State legislatures will repeal their unconstitutional and obnoxious
enactments. Unless this shall be done without unnecessary delay, it
is impossible for any human power to save the Union.

The Southern States, standing on the basis of the Constitution, have a
right to demand this act of justice from the States of the North. Should
it be refused, then the Constitution, to which all the States are
parties, will have been willfully violated by one portion of them in
a provision essential to the domestic security and happiness of the
remainder. In that event the injured States, after having first used all
peaceful and constitutional means to obtain redress, would be justified
in revolutionary resistance to the Government of the Union.

I have purposely confined my remarks to revolutionary resistance,
because it has been claimed within the last few years that any State,
whenever this shall be its sovereign will and pleasure, may secede from
the Union in accordance with the Constitution and without any violation
of the constitutional rights of the other members of the Confederacy;
that as each became parties to the Union by the vote of its own people
assembled in convention, so any one of them may retire from the Union
in a similar manner by the vote of such a convention.

In order to justify secession as a constitutional remedy, it must
be on the principle that the Federal Government is a mere voluntary
association of States, to be dissolved at pleasure by any one of the
contracting parties. If this be so, the Confederacy is a rope of sand,
to be penetrated and dissolved by the first adverse wave of public
opinion in any of the States. In this manner our thirty-three States
may, resolve themselves into as many petty, jarring, and hostile
republics, each one retiring from the Union without responsibility
whenever any sudden excitement might impel them to such a course.
By this process a Union might be entirely broken into fragments in
a few weeks which cost our forefathers many years of toil, privation,
and blood to establish.

Such a principle is wholly inconsistent with the history as well as the
character of the Federal Constitution. After it was framed with the
greatest deliberation and care it was submitted to conventions of the
people of the several States for ratification. Its provisions were
discussed at length in these bodies, composed of the first men of the
country. Its opponents contended that it conferred powers upon the
Federal Government dangerous to the rights of the States, whilst its
advocates maintained that under a fair construction of the instrument
there was no foundation for such apprehensions. In that mighty struggle
between the first intellects of this or any other country it never
occurred to any individual, either among its opponents or advocates,
to assert or even to intimate that their efforts were all vain labor,
because the moment that any State felt herself aggrieved she might
secede from the Union. What a crushing argument would this have proved
against those who dreaded that the rights of the States would be
endangered by the Constitution! The truth is that it was not until many
years after the origin of the Federal Government that such a proposition
was first advanced. It was then met and refuted by the conclusive
arguments of General Jackson, who in his message of the 16th of January,
1833, transmitting the nullifying ordinance of South Carolina to
Congress, employs the following language:

The right of the people of a single State to absolve themselves at will
and without the consent of the other States from their most solemn
obligations, and hazard the liberties and happiness of the millions
composing this Union, can not be acknowledged. Such authority is
believed to be utterly repugnant both to the principles upon which
the General Government is constituted and to the objects which it is
expressly formed to attain.

It is not pretended that any clause in the Constitution gives
countenance to such a theory. It is altogether founded upon inference;
not from any language contained in the instrument itself, but from the
sovereign character of the several States by which it was ratified.
But is it beyond the power of a State, like an individual, to yield a
portion of its sovereign rights to secure the remainder? In the language
of Mr. Madison, who has been called the father of the Constitution--

It was formed by the States; that is, by the people in each of
the States acting in their highest sovereign capacity, and formed,
consequently, by the same authority which formed the State
constitutions. ... Nor is the Government of the United States,
created by the Constitution, less a government, in the strict sense
of the term, within the sphere of its powers than the governments
created by the constitutions of the States are within their several
spheres. It is, like them, organized into legislative, executive,
and judiciary departments. It operates, like them, directly on
persons and things, and, like them, it has at command a physical
force for executing the powers committed to it.

It was intended to be perpetual, and not to be annulled at the pleasure
of any one of the contracting parties. The old Articles of Confederation
were entitled "Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union between the
States," and by the thirteenth article it is expressly declared that
"the articles of this Confederation shall be inviolably observed by
every State, and the Union shall be perpetual." The preamble to the
Constitution of the United States, having express reference to the
Articles of Confederation, recites that it was established "in order
to form a more perfect union." And yet it is contended that this "more
perfect union" does not include the essential attribute of perpetuity.

But that the Union was designed to be perpetual appears conclusively
from the nature and extent of the powers conferred by the Constitution
on the Federal Government. These powers embrace the very highest
attributes of national sovereignty. They place both the sword and the
purse under its control. Congress has power to make war and to make
peace, to raise and support armies and navies, and to conclude treaties
with foreign governments. It is invested with the power to coin money
and to regulate the value thereof, and to regulate commerce with foreign
nations and among the several States. It is not necessary to enumerate
the other high powers which have been conferred upon the Federal
Government. In order to carry the enumerated powers into effect,
Congress possesses the exclusive right to lay and collect duties on
imports, and, in common with the States, to lay and collect all other

But the Constitution has not only conferred these high powers upon
Congress, but it has adopted effectual means to restrain the States
from interfering with their exercise. For that purpose it has in
strong prohibitory language expressly declared that--

No State shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation;
grant letters of marque and reprisal; coin money; emit bills of
credit; make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment
of debts; pass any bill of attainder, _ex post facto_ law, or law
impairing the obligation of contracts.


No State shall without the consent of the Congress lay any imposts
or duties on imports or exports, except what may be absolutely
necessary for executing its inspection laws.

And if they exceed this amount the excess shall belong to the United
States. And--

No State shall without the consent of Congress lay any duty of
tonnage, keep troops or ships of war in time of peace, enter into
any agreement or compact with another State or with a foreign power,
or engage in war, unless actually invaded or in such imminent danger
as will not admit of delay.

In order still further to secure the uninterrupted exercise of these
high powers against State interposition, it is provided: that--

This Constitution and the laws of the United States which shall be
made in pursuance thereof, and all treaties made or which shall be
made under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme
law of the land, and the judges in every State shall be bound
thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any State to the
contrary notwithstanding.

The solemn sanction of religion has been superadded to the obligations
of official duty, and all Senators and Representatives of the United
States, all members of State legislatures, and all executive and
judicial officers, "both of the United States and of the several States,
shall be bound by oath or affirmation to support this Constitution."

In order to carry into effect these powers, the Constitution has
established a perfect Government in all its forms--legislative,
executive, and judicial; and this Government to the extent of its powers
acts directly upon the individual citizens of every State, and executes
its own decrees by the agency of its own officers. In this respect it
differs entirely from the Government under the old Confederation, which
was confined to making requisitions on the States in their sovereign
character. This left it in the discretion of each whether to obey or
to refuse, and they often declined to comply with such requisitions.
It thus became necessary for the purpose of removing this barrier and
"in order to form a more perfect union" to establish a Government which
could act directly upon the people and execute its own laws without the
intermediate agency of the States. This has been accomplished by the
Constitution of the United States. In short, the Government created by
the Constitution, and deriving its authority from the sovereign people
of each of the several States, has precisely the same right to exercise
its power over the people of all these States in the enumerated cases
that each one of them possesses over subjects not delegated to the
United States, but "reserved to the States respectively or to the

To the extent of the delegated powers the Constitution of the United
States is as much a part of the constitution of each State and is as
binding upon its people as though it had been textually inserted

This Government, therefore, is a great and powerful Government, invested
with all the attributes of sovereignty over the special subjects to
which its authority extends. Its framers never intended to implant
in its bosom the seeds of its own destruction, nor were they at its
creation guilty of the absurdity of providing for its own dissolution.
It was not intended by its framers to be the baseless fabric of a
vision, which at the touch of the enchanter would vanish into thin air,
but a substantial and mighty fabric, capable of resisting the slow decay
of time and of defying the storms of ages. Indeed, well may the jealous
patriots of that day have indulged fears that a Government of such high
powers might violate the reserved rights of the States, and wisely did
they adopt the rule of a strict construction of these powers to prevent
the danger. But they did not fear, nor had they any reason to imagine,
that the Constitution would ever be so interpreted as to enable any
State by her own act, and without the consent of her sister States,
to discharge her people from all or any of their federal obligations.

It may be asked, then, Are the people of the States without redress
against the tyranny and oppression of the Federal Government? By no
means. The right of resistance on the part of the governed against
the oppression of their governments can not be denied. It exists
independently of all constitutions, and has been exercised at all
periods of the world's history. Under it old governments have been
destroyed and new ones have taken their place. It is embodied in strong
and express language in our own Declaration of Independence. But the
distinction must ever be observed that this is revolution against an
established government, and not a voluntary secession from it by virtue
of an inherent constitutional right. In short, let us look the danger
fairly in the face. Secession is neither more nor less than revolution.
It may or it may not be a justifiable revolution, but still it is

What, in the meantime, is the responsibility and true position of the
Executive? He is bound by solemn oath, before God and the country,
"to take care that the laws be faithfully executed," and from this
obligation he can not be absolved by any human power. But what if
the performance of this duty, in whole or in part, has been rendered
impracticable by events over which he could have exercised no control?
Such at the present moment is the case throughout the State of South
Carolina so far as the laws of the United States to secure the
administration of justice by means of the Federal judiciary are
concerned. All the Federal officers within its limits through whose
agency alone these laws can be carried into execution have already
resigned. We no longer have a district judge, a district attorney,
or a marshal in South Carolina. In fact, the whole machinery of the
Federal Government necessary for the distribution of remedial justice
among the people has been demolished, and it would be difficult, if not
impossible, to replace it.

The only acts of Congress on the statute book bearing upon this subject
are those of February 28, 1795, and March 3, 1807. These authorize the
President, after he shall have ascertained that the marshal, with his
_posse comitatus_, is unable to execute civil or criminal process in
any particular case, to call forth the militia and employ the Army
and Navy to aid him in performing this service, having first by
proclamation commanded the insurgents "to disperse and retire peaceably
to their respective abodes within a limited time." This duty can not by
possibility be performed in a State where no judicial authority exists
to issue process, and where there is no marshal to execute it, and
where, even if there were such an officer, the entire population would
constitute one solid combination to resist him.

The bare enumeration of these provisions proves how inadequate they are
without further legislation to overcome a united opposition in a single
State, not to speak of other States who may place themselves in a
similar attitude. Congress alone has power to decide whether the present
laws can or can not be amended so as to carry out more effectually the
objects of the Constitution.

The same insuperable obstacles do not lie in the way of executing the
laws for the collection of the customs. The revenue still continues to
be collected as heretofore at the custom-house in Charleston, and should
the collector unfortunately resign a successor may be appointed to
perform this duty.

Then, in regard to the property of the United States in South Carolina.
This has been purchased for a fair equivalent, "by the consent of the
legislature of the State," "for the erection of forts, magazines,
arsenals," etc., and over these the authority "to exercise exclusive
legislation" has been expressly granted by the Constitution to Congress.
It is not believed that any attempt will be made to expel the United
States from this property by force; but if in this I should prove to be
mistaken, the officer in command of the forts has received orders to act
strictly on the defensive. In such a contingency the responsibility for
consequences would rightfully rest upon the heads of the assailants.

Apart from the execution of the laws, so far as this may be practicable,
the Executive has no authority to decide what shall be the relations
between the Federal Government and South Carolina. He has been invested
with no such discretion. He possesses no power to change the relations
heretofore existing between them, much less to acknowledge the
independence of that State. This would be to invest a mere executive
officer with the power of recognizing the dissolution of the confederacy
among our thirty-three sovereign States. It bears no resemblance to the
recognition of a foreign _de facto_ government, involving no such
responsibility. Any attempt to do this would, on his part, be a naked
act of usurpation. It is therefore my duty to submit to Congress the
whole question in all its bearings. The course of events is so rapidly
hastening forward that the emergency may soon arise when you may be
called upon to decide the momentous question whether you possess the
power by force of arms to compel a State to remain in the Union.
I should feel myself recreant to my duty were I not to express an
opinion on this important subject.

The question fairly stated is, Has the Constitution delegated to
Congress the power to coerce a State into submission which is attempting
to withdraw or has actually withdrawn from the Confederacy? If answered
in the affirmative, it must be on the principle that the power has been
conferred upon Congress to declare and to make war against a State.
After much serious reflection I have arrived at the conclusion that no
such power has been delegated to Congress or to any other department
of the Federal Government. It is manifest upon an inspection of the
Constitution that this is not among the specific and enumerated powers
granted to Congress, and it is equally apparent that its exercise is
not "necessary and proper for carrying into execution" any one of these
powers. So far from this power having been delegated to Congress, it was
expressly refused by the Convention which framed the Constitution. It
appears from the proceedings of that body that on the 31st May, 1787,
the clause "_authorizing an exertion of the force of the whole against
a delinquent State_" came up for consideration. Mr. Madison opposed it
in a brief but powerful speech, from which I shall extract but a single
sentence. He observed:

The use of force against a State would look more like a declaration
of war than an infliction of punishment, and would probably be
considered by the party attacked as a dissolution of all previous
compacts by which it might be bound.

Upon his motion the clause was unanimously postponed, and was never,
I believe, again presented. Soon afterwards, on the 8th June, 1787,
when incidentally adverting to the subject, he said: "Any government
for the United States formed on the supposed practicability of using
force against the unconstitutional proceedings of the States would
prove as visionary and fallacious as the government of Congress,"
evidently meaning the then existing Congress of the old Confederation.

Without descending to particulars, it may be safely asserted that the
power to make war against a State is at variance with the whole spirit
and intent of the Constitution. Suppose such a war should result in the
conquest of a State; how are we to govern it afterwards? Shall we hold
it as a province and govern it by despotic power? In the nature of
things, we could not by physical force control the will of the people
and compel them to elect Senators and Representatives to Congress and
to perform all the other duties depending upon their own volition and
required from the free citizens of a free State as a constituent member
of the Confederacy.

But if we possessed this power, would it be wise to exercise it under
existing circumstances? The object would doubtless be to preserve the
Union. War would not only present the most effectual means of destroying
it, but would vanish all hope of its peaceable reconstruction. Besides,
in the fraternal conflict a vast amount of blood and treasure would be
expended, rendering future reconciliation between the States impossible.
In the meantime, who can foretell what would be the sufferings and
privations of the people during its existence?

The fact is that our Union rests upon public opinion, and can never be
cemented by the blood of its citizens shed in civil war. If it can not
live in the affections of the people, it must one day perish. Congress
possesses many means of preserving it by conciliation, but the sword was
not placed in their hand to preserve it by force.

But may I be permitted solemnly to invoke my countrymen to pause and
deliberate before they determine to destroy this the grandest temple
which has ever been dedicated to human freedom since the world began?
It has been consecrated by the blood of our fathers, by the glories of
the past, and by the hopes of the future. The Union has already made us
the most prosperous, and ere long will, if preserved, render us the most
powerful, nation on the face of the earth. In every foreign region of
the globe the title of American citizen is held in the highest respect,
and when pronounced in a foreign land it causes the hearts of our
countrymen to swell with honest pride. Surely when we reach the brink
of the yawning abyss we shall recoil with horror from the last fatal

By such a dread catastrophe the hopes of the friends of freedom
throughout the world would be destroyed, and a long night of leaden
despotism would enshroud the nations. Our example for more than eighty
years would not only be lost, but it would be quoted as a conclusive
proof that man is unfit for self-government.

It is not every wrong--nay, it is not every grievous wrong--which
can justify a resort to such a fearful alternative. This ought to be
the last desperate remedy of a despairing people, after every other
constitutional means of conciliation had been exhausted. We should
reflect that under this free Government there is an incessant ebb and
flow in public opinion. The slavery question, like everything human,
will have its day. I firmly believe that it has reached and passed the
culminating point. But if in the midst of the existing excitement the
Union shall perish, the evil may then become irreparable.

Congress can contribute much to avert it by proposing and recommending
to the legislatures of the several States the remedy for existing evils
which the Constitution has itself provided for its own preservation.
This has been tried at different critical periods of our history, and
always with eminent success. It is to be found in the fifth article,
providing for its own amendment. Under this article amendments have
been proposed by two-thirds of both Houses of Congress, and have been
"ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States,"
and have consequently become parts of the Constitution. To this process
the country is indebted for the clause prohibiting Congress from passing
any law respecting an establishment of religion or abridging the freedom
of speech or of the press or of the right of petition. To this we
are also indebted for the bill of rights which secures the people
against any abuse of power by the Federal Government. Such were the
apprehensions justly entertained by the friends of State rights at
that period as to have rendered it extremely doubtful whether the
Constitution could have long survived without those amendments.

Again the Constitution was amended by the same process, after the
election of President Jefferson by the House of Representatives, in
February, 1803. This amendment was rendered necessary to prevent a
recurrence of the dangers which had seriously threatened the existence
of the Government during the pendency of that election. The article
for its own amendment was intended to secure the amicable adjustment
of conflicting constitutional questions like the present which might
arise between the governments of the States and that of the United
States. This appears from contemporaneous history. In this connection
I shall merely call attention to a few sentences in Mr. Madison's
justly celebrated report, in 1799, to the legislature of Virginia.
In this he ably and conclusively defended the resolutions of the
preceding legislature against the strictures of several other State
legislatures. These were mainly founded upon the protest of the Virginia
legislature against the "alien and sedition acts," as "palpable and
alarming infractions of the Constitution." In pointing out the peaceful
and constitutional remedies--and he referred to none other--to which the
States were authorized to resort on such occasions, he concludes by
saying that--

The legislatures of the States might have made a direct representation
to Congress with a view to obtain a rescinding of the two offensive
acts, or they might have represented to their respective Senators
in Congress their wish that two-thirds thereof would propose an
explanatory amendment to the Constitution; or two-thirds of themselves,
if such had been their option, might by an application to Congress
have obtained a convention for the same object.

This is the very course which I earnestly recommend in order to
obtain an "explanatory amendment" of the Constitution on the subject of
slavery. This might originate with Congress or the State legislatures,
as may be deemed most advisable to attain the object. The explanatory
amendment might be confined to the final settlement of the true
construction of the Constitution on three special points:

1. An express recognition of the right of property in slaves in the
States where it now exists or may hereafter exist.

2. The duty of protecting this right in all the common Territories
throughout their Territorial existence, and until they shall be
admitted as States into the Union, with or without slavery, as their
constitutions may prescribe.

3. A like recognition of the right of the master to have his slave who
has escaped from one State to another restored and "delivered up" to
him, and of the validity of the fugitive-slave law enacted for this
purpose, together with a declaration that all State laws impairing
or defeating this right are violations of the Constitution, and are
consequently null and void. It may be objected that this construction of
the Constitution has already been settled by the Supreme Court of the
United States, and what more ought to be required? The answer is that a
very large proportion of the people of the United States still contest
the correctness of this decision, and never will cease from agitation
and admit its binding force until clearly established by the people of
the several States in their sovereign character. Such an explanatory
amendment would, it is believed, forever terminate the existing
dissensions, and restore peace and harmony among the States.

It ought not to be doubted that such an appeal to the arbitrament
established by the Constitution itself would be received with favor by
all the States of the Confederacy. In any event, it ought to be tried
in a spirit of conciliation before any of these States shall separate
themselves from the Union.

When I entered upon the duties of the Presidential office, the aspect
neither of our foreign nor domestic affairs was at all satisfactory.
We were involved in dangerous complications with several nations,
and two of our Territories were in a state of revolution against the
Government. A restoration of the African slave trade had numerous and
powerful advocates. Unlawful military expeditions were countenanced by
many of our citizens, and were suffered, in defiance of the efforts of
the Government, to escape from our shores for the purpose of making war
upon the unoffending people of neighboring republics with whom we were
at peace. In addition to these and other difficulties, we experienced
a revulsion in monetary affairs soon after my advent to power of
unexampled severity and of ruinous consequences to all the great
interests of the country. When we take a retrospect of what was then
our condition and contrast this with its material prosperity at the
time of the late Presidential election, we have abundant reason to
return our grateful thanks to that merciful Providence which has never
forsaken us as a nation in all our past trials.

Our relations with Great Britain are of the most friendly character.
Since the commencement of my Administration the two dangerous questions
arising from the Clayton and Bulwer treaty and from the right of search
claimed by the British Government have been amicably and honorably

The discordant constructions of the Clayton and Bulwer treaty between
the two Governments, which at different periods of the discussion bore
a threatening aspect, have resulted in a final settlement entirely
satisfactory to this Government. In my last annual message I informed
Congress that the British Government had not then "completed treaty
arrangements with the Republics of Honduras and Nicaragua in pursuance
of the understanding between the two Governments. It is, nevertheless,
confidently expected that this good work will ere long be accomplished."
This confident expectation has since been fulfilled. Her Britannic
Majesty concluded a treaty with Honduras on the 28th November, 1859,
and with Nicaragua on the 28th August, 1860, relinquishing the Mosquito
protectorate. Besides, by the former the Bay Islands are recognized
as a part of the Republic of Honduras. It may be observed that the
stipulations of these treaties conform in every important particular
to the amendments adopted by the Senate of the United States to the
treaty concluded at London on the 17th October, 1856, between the two
Governments. It will be recollected that this treaty was rejected by the
British Government because of its objection to the just and important
amendment of the Senate to the article relating to Ruatan and the other
islands in the Bay of Honduras.

It must be a source of sincere satisfaction to all classes of our
fellow-citizens, and especially to those engaged in foreign commerce,
that the claim on the part of Great Britain forcibly to visit and search
American merchant vessels on the high seas in time of peace has been
abandoned. This was by far the most dangerous question to the peace of
the two countries which has existed since the War of 1812. Whilst it
remained open they might at any moment have been precipitated into a
war. This was rendered manifest by the exasperated state of public
feeling throughout our entire country produced by the forcible search of
American merchant vessels by British cruisers on the coast of Cuba in
the spring of 1858. The American people hailed with general acclaim the
orders of the Secretary of the Navy to our naval force in the Gulf of
Mexico "to protect all vessels of the United States on the high seas
from search or detention by the vessels of war of any other nation."
These orders might have produced an immediate collision between the
naval forces of the two countries. This was most fortunately prevented
by an appeal to the justice of Great Britain and to the law of nations
as expounded by her own most eminent jurists.

The only question of any importance which still remains open is the
disputed title between the two Governments to the island of San Juan,
in the vicinity of Washington Territory. As this question is still
under negotiation, it is not deemed advisable at the present moment
to make any other allusion to the subject.

The recent visit of the Prince of Wales, in a private character, to the
people of this country has proved to be a most auspicious event. In its
consequences it can not fail to increase the kindred and kindly feelings
which I trust may ever actuate the Government and people of both
countries in their political and social intercourse with each other.

With France, our ancient and powerful ally, our relations continue
to be of the most friendly character. A decision has recently been
made by a French judicial tribunal, with the approbation of the Imperial
Government, which can not fail to foster the sentiments of mutual
regard that have so long existed between the two countries. Under the
French law no person can serve in the armies of France unless he be
a French citizen. The law of France recognizing the natural right of
expatriation, it follows as a necessary consequence that a Frenchman by
the fact of having become a citizen of the United States has changed his
allegiance and has lost his native character. He can not therefore be
compelled to serve in the French armies in case he should return to his
native country. These principles were announced in 1852 by the French
minister of war and in two late cases have been confirmed by the French
judiciary. In these, two natives of France have been discharged from
the French army because they had become American citizens. To employ
the language of our present minister to France, who has rendered good
service on this occasion, "I do not think our French naturalized
fellow-citizens will hereafter experience much annoyance on this

I venture to predict that the time is not far distant when the other
continental powers will adopt the same wise and just policy which has
done so much honor to the enlightened Government of the Emperor. In any
event, our Government is bound to protect the rights of our naturalized
citizens everywhere to the same extent as though they had drawn their
first breath in this country. We can recognize no distinction between
our native and naturalized citizens.

Between the great Empire of Russia and the United States the mutual
friendship and regard which has so long existed still continues to
prevail, and if possible to increase. Indeed, our relations with that
Empire are all that we could desire. Our relations with Spain are now
of a more complicated, though less dangerous, character than they have
been for many years. Our citizens have long held and continue to hold
numerous claims against the Spanish Government. These had been ably
urged for a series of years by our successive diplomatic representatives
at Madrid, but without obtaining redress. The Spanish Government finally
agreed to institute a joint commission for the adjustment of these
claims, and on the 5th day of March, 1860, concluded a convention for
this purpose with our present minister at Madrid.

Under this convention what have been denominated the "Cuban claims,"
amounting to $128,635.54, in which more than 100 of our fellow-citizens
are interested, were recognized, and the Spanish Government agreed to
pay $100,000 of this amount "within three months following the exchange
of ratifications." The payment of the remaining $28,635.54 was to await
the decision of the commissioners for or against the _Amistad_ claim;
but in any event the balance was to be paid to the claimants either by
Spain or the United States. These terms, I have every reason to know,
are highly satisfactory to the holders of the Cuban claims. Indeed, they
have made a formal offer authorizing the State Department to settle
these claims and to deduct the amount of the _Amistad_ claim from the
sums which they are entitled to receive from Spain. This offer, of
course, can not be accepted. All other claims of citizens of the United
States against Spain, or the subjects of the Queen of Spain against the
United States, including the _Amistad_ claim, were by this convention
referred to a board of commissioners in the usual form. Neither the
validity of the _Amistad_ claim nor of any other claim against either
party, with the single exception of the Cuban claims, was recognized
by the convention. Indeed, the Spanish Government did not insist
that the validity of the _Amistad_ claim should be thus recognized,
notwithstanding its payment had been recommended to Congress by two
of my predecessors, as well as by myself, and an appropriation for
that purpose had passed the Senate of the United States.

They were content that it should be submitted to the board for
examination and decision like the other claims. Both Governments were
bound respectively to pay the amounts awarded to the several claimants
"at such times and places as may be fixed by and according to the tenor
of said awards."

I transmitted this convention to the Senate for their constitutional
action on the 3d of May, 1860, and on the 27th of the succeeding June
they determined that they would "not advise and consent" to its

These proceedings place our relations with Spain in an awkward and
embarrassing position. It is more than probable that the final
adjustment of these claims will devolve upon my successor.

I reiterate the recommendation contained in my annual message of
December, 1858, and repeated in that of December, 1859, in favor of the
acquisition of Cuba from Spain by fair purchase. I firmly believe that
such an acquisition would contribute essentially to the well-being
and prosperity of both countries in all future time, as well as prove
the certain means of immediately abolishing the African slave trade
throughout the world. I would not repeat this recommendation upon the
present occasion if I believed that the transfer of Cuba to the United
States upon conditions highly favorable to Spain could justly tarnish
the national honor of the proud and ancient Spanish monarchy. Surely no
person ever attributed to the first Napoleon a disregard of the national
honor of France for transferring Louisiana to the United States for
a fair equivalent, both in money and commercial advantages.

With the Emperor of Austria and the remaining continental powers of
Europe, including that of the Sultan, our relations continue to be of
the most friendly character.

The friendly and peaceful policy pursued by the Government of the United
States toward the Empire of China has produced the most satisfactory
results. The treaty of Tien-tsin of the 18th June, 1858, has been
faithfully observed by the Chinese authorities. The convention of the
8th November, 1858, supplementary to this treaty, for the adjustment
and satisfaction of the claims of our citizens on China referred to in
my last annual message, has been already carried into effect so far as
this was practicable. Under this convention the sum of 500,000 taels,
equal to about $700,000, was stipulated to be paid in satisfaction of
the claims of American citizens out of the one-fifth of the receipts
for tonnage, import, and export duties on American vessels at the ports
of Canton, Shanghai, and Fuchau, and it was "agreed that this amount
shall be in full liquidation of all claims of American citizens at the
various ports to this date." Debentures for this amount, to wit, 300,000
taels for Canton, 100,000 for Shanghai, and 100,000 for Fuchau, were
delivered, according to the terms of the convention, by the respective
Chinese collectors of the customs of these ports to the agent selected
by our minister to receive the same. Since that time the claims of our
citizens have been adjusted by the board of commissioners appointed for
that purpose under the act of March 3, 1859, and their awards, which
proved satisfactory to the claimants, have been approved by our
minister. In the aggregate they amount to the sum of $498,694.78. The
claimants have already received a large proportion of the sums awarded
to them out of the fund provided, and it is confidently expected that
the remainder will ere long be entirely paid. After the awards shall
have been satisfied there will remain a surplus of more than $200,000
at the disposition of Congress. As this will, in equity, belong to the
Chinese Government, would not justice require its appropriation to some
benevolent object in which the Chinese may be specially interested?

Our minister to China, in obedience to his instructions, has remained
perfectly neutral in the war between Great Britain and France and the
Chinese Empire, although, in conjunction with the Russian minister, he
was ever ready and willing, had the opportunity offered, to employ his
good offices in restoring peace between the parties. It is but an act of
simple justice, both to our present minister and his predecessor, to
state that they have proved fully equal to the delicate, trying, and
responsible positions in which they have on different occasions been

The ratifications of the treaty with Japan concluded at Yeddo on the
29th July, 1858, were exchanged at Washington on the 22d May last, and
the treaty itself was proclaimed on the succeeding day. There is good
reason to expect that under its protection and influence our trade and
intercourse with that distant and interesting people will rapidly

The ratifications of the treaty were exchanged with unusual
solemnity. For this purpose the Tycoon had accredited three of his
most distinguished subjects as envoys extraordinary and ministers
plenipotentiary, who were received and treated with marked distinction
and kindness, both by the Government and people of the United States.
There is every reason to believe that they have returned to their native
land entirely satisfied with their visit and inspired by the most
friendly feelings for our country. Let us ardently hope, in the language
of the treaty itself, that "there shall henceforward be perpetual peace
and friendship between the United States of America and His Majesty the
Tycoon of Japan and his successors."

With the wise, conservative, and liberal Government of the Empire of
Brazil our relations continue to be of the most amicable character.

The exchange of the ratifications of the convention with the Republic
of New Granada signed at Washington on the 10th of September, 1857, has
been long delayed from accidental causes for which neither party is
censurable. These ratifications were duly exchanged in this city on the
5th of November last. Thus has a controversy been amicably terminated
which had become so serious at the period of my inauguration as to
require me, on the 17th of April, 1857, to direct our minister to demand
his passports and return to the United States.

Under this convention the Government of New Granada has specially
acknowledged itself to be responsible to our citizens "for damages
which were caused by the riot at Panama on the 15th April, 1856." These
claims, together with other claims of our citizens which had been long
urged in vain, are referred for adjustment to a board of commissioners.
I submit a copy of the convention to Congress, and recommend the
legislation necessary to carry it into effect.

Persevering efforts have been made for the adjustment of the claims
of American citizens against the Government of Costa Rica, and I am
happy to inform you that these have finally prevailed. A convention was
signed at the city of San Jose on the 2d July last, between the minister
resident of the United States in Costa Rica and the plenipotentiaries of
that Republic, referring these claims to a board of commissioners and
providing for the payment of their awards. This convention will be
submitted immediately to the Senate for their constitutional action.

The claims of our citizens upon the Republic of Nicaragua have not yet
been provided for by treaty, although diligent efforts for this purpose
have been made by our minister resident to that Republic. These are
still continued, with a fair prospect of success.

Our relations with Mexico remain in a most unsatisfactory condition.
In my last two annual messages I discussed extensively the subject of
these relations, and do not now propose to repeat at length the facts
and arguments then presented. They proved conclusively that our citizens
residing in Mexico and our merchants trading thereto had suffered a
series of wrongs and outrages such as we have never patiently borne from
any other nation. For these our successive ministers, invoking the faith
of treaties, had in the name of their country persistently demanded
redress and indemnification, but without the slightest effect. Indeed,
so confident had the Mexican authorities become of our patient endurance
that they universally believed they might commit these outrages upon
American citizens with absolute impunity. Thus wrote our minister in
1856, and expressed the opinion that "nothing but a manifestation of
the power of the Government and of its purpose to punish these wrongs
will avail."

Afterwards, in 1857, came the adoption of a new constitution for Mexico,
the election of a President and Congress under its provisions, and the
inauguration of the President. Within one short month, however, this
President was expelled from the capital by a rebellion in the army, and
the supreme power of the Republic was assigned to General Zuloaga. This
usurper was in his turn soon compelled to retire and give place to
General Miramon.

Under the constitution which had thus been adopted Senor Juarez, as
chief justice of the supreme court, became the lawful President of the
Republic, and it was for the maintenance of the constitution and his
authority derived from it that the civil war commenced and still
continues to be prosecuted.

Throughout the year 1858 the constitutional party grew stronger and
stronger. In the previous history of Mexico a successful military
revolution at the capital had almost universally been the signal for
submission throughout the Republic. Not so on the present occasion.
A majority of the citizens persistently sustained the constitutional
Government. When this was recognized, in April, 1859, by the Government
of the United States, its authority extended over a large majority of
the Mexican States and people, including Vera Cruz and all the other
important seaports of the Republic. From that period our commerce with
Mexico began to revive, and the constitutional Government has afforded
it all the protection in its power.

Meanwhile the Government of Miramon still held sway at the capital and
over the surrounding country, and continued its outrages against the
few American citizens who still had the courage to remain within its
power. To cap the climax, after the battle of Tacubaya, in April, 1859,
General Marquez ordered three citizens of the United States, two of them
physicians, to be seized in the hospital at that place, taken out and
shot, without crime and without trial. This was done, notwithstanding
our unfortunate countrymen were at the moment engaged in the holy cause
of affording relief to the soldiers of both parties who had been wounded
in the battle, without making any distinction between them.

The time had arrived, in my opinion, when this Government was bound
to exert its power to avenge and redress the wrongs of our citizens
and to afford them protection in Mexico. The interposing obstacle was
that the portion of the country under the sway of Miramon could not be
reached without passing over territory under the jurisdiction of the
constitutional Government. Under these circumstances I deemed it my duty
to recommend to Congress in my last annual message the employment of
a sufficient military force to penetrate into the interior, where the
Government of Miramon was to be found, with or, if need be, without the
consent of the Juarez Government, though it was not doubted that this
consent could be obtained. Never have I had a clearer conviction on
any subject than of the justice as well as wisdom of such a policy.
No other alternative was left except the entire abandonment of our
fellow-citizens who had gone to Mexico under the faith of treaties
to the systematic injustice, cruelty, and oppression of Miramon's
Government. Besides, it is almost certain that the simple authority
to employ this force would of itself have accomplished all our objects
without striking a single blow. The constitutional Government would then
ere this have been established at the City of Mexico, and would have
been ready and willing to the extent of its ability to do us justice.

In addition--and I deem this a most important consideration--European
Governments would have been deprived of all pretext to interfere in the
territorial and domestic concerns of Mexico. We should thus have been
relieved from the obligation of resisting, even by force should this
become necessary, any attempt by these Governments to deprive our
neighboring Republic of portions of her territory--a duty from which
we could not shrink without abandoning the traditional and established
policy of the American people. I am happy to observe that, firmly
relying upon the justice and good faith of these Governments, there
is no present danger that such a contingency will happen.

Having discovered that my recommendations would not be sustained by
Congress, the next alternative was to accomplish in some degree,
if possible, the same objects by treaty stipulations with the
constitutional Government. Such treaties were accordingly concluded
by our late able and excellent minister to Mexico, and on the 4th of
January last were submitted to the Senate for ratification. As these
have not yet received the final action of that body, it would be
improper for me to present a detailed statement of their provisions.
Still, I may be permitted to express the opinion in advance that they
are calculated to promote the agricultural, manufacturing, and
commercial interests of the country and to secure our just influence
with an adjoining Republic as to whose fortunes and fate we can never
feel indifferent, whilst at the same time they provide for the payment
of a considerable amount toward the satisfaction of the claims of our
injured fellow-citizens.

At the period of my inauguration I was confronted in Kansas by a
revolutionary government existing under what is called the "Topeka
constitution." Its avowed object was to subdue the Territorial
government by force and to inaugurate what was called the "Topeka
government" in its stead. To accomplish this object an extensive
military organization was formed, and its command intrusted to the most
violent revolutionary leaders. Under these circumstances it became my
imperative duty to exert the whole constitutional power of the Executive
to prevent the flames of civil war from again raging in Kansas, which in
the excited state of the public mind, both North and South, might have
extended into the neighboring States. The hostile parties in Kansas had
been inflamed against each other by emissaries both from the North and
the South to a degree of malignity without parallel in our history.
To prevent actual collision and to assist the civil magistrates in
enforcing the laws, a strong detachment of the Army was stationed in
the Territory, ready to aid the marshal and his deputies when lawfully
called upon as a _posse comilatus_ in the execution of civil and
criminal process. Still, the troubles in Kansas could not have been
permanently settled without an election by the people.

The ballot box is the surest arbiter of disputes among freemen. Under
this conviction every proper effort was employed to induce the hostile
parties to vote at the election of delegates to frame a State
constitution, and afterwards at the election to decide whether Kansas
should be a slave or free State.

The insurgent party refused to vote at either, lest this might be
considered a recognition on their part of the Territorial government
established by Congress. A better spirit, however, seemed soon after
to prevail, and the two parties met face to face at the third election,
held on the first Monday of January, 1858, for members of the
legislature and State officers under the Lecompton constitution. The
result was the triumph of the antislavery party at the polls. This
decision of the ballot box proved clearly that this party were in the
majority, and removed the danger of civil war. From that time we have
heard little or nothing of the Topeka government, and all serious danger
of revolutionary troubles in Kansas was then at an end.

The Lecompton constitution, which had been thus recognized at this State
election by the votes of both political parties in Kansas, was
transmitted to me with the request that I should present it to Congress.
This I could not have refused to do without violating my clearest and
strongest convictions of duty. The constitution and all the proceedings
which preceded and followed its formation were fair and regular on their
face. I then believed, and experience has proved, that the interests of
the people of Kansas would have been best consulted by its admission
as a State into the Union, especially as the majority within a brief
period could have amended the constitution according to their will and
pleasure. If fraud existed in all or any of these proceedings, it was
not for the President but for Congress to investigate and determine the
question of fraud and what ought to be its consequences. If at the first
two elections the majority refused to vote, it can not be pretended
that this refusal to exercise the elective franchise could invalidate
an election fairly held under lawful authority, even if they had not
subsequently voted at the third election. It is true that the whole
constitution had not been submitted to the people, as I always desired;
but the precedents are numerous of the admission of States into the
Union without such submission. It would not comport with my present
purpose to review the proceedings of Congress upon the Lecompton
constitution. It is sufficient to observe that their final action has
removed the last vestige of serious revolutionary troubles. The
desperate band recently assembled under a notorious outlaw in the
southern portion of the Territory to resist the execution of the laws
and to plunder peaceful citizens will, I doubt not, be speedily subdued
and brought to justice.

Had I treated the Lecompton constitution as a nullity and refused
to transmit it to Congress, it is not difficult to imagine, whilst
recalling the position of the country at that moment, what would have
been the disastrous consequences, both in and out of the Territory,
from such a dereliction of duty on the part of the Executive.

Peace has also been restored within the Territory of Utah, which at the
commencement of my Administration was in a state of open rebellion. This
was the more dangerous, as the people, animated by a fanatical spirit
and intrenched within their distant mountain fastnesses, might have made
a long and formidable resistance. Cost what it might, it was necessary
to bring them into subjection to the Constitution and the laws. Sound
policy, therefore, as well as humanity, required that this object should
if possible be accomplished without the effusion of blood. This could
only be effected by sending a military force into the Territory
sufficiently strong to convince the people that resistance would be
hopeless, and at the same time to offer them a pardon for past offenses
on condition of immediate submission to the Government. This policy was
pursued with eminent success, and the only cause for regret is the heavy
expenditure required to march a large detachment of the Army to that
remote region and to furnish it subsistence.

Utah is now comparatively peaceful and quiet, and the military force has
been withdrawn, except that portion of it necessary to keep the Indians
in check and to protect the emigrant trains on their way to our Pacific

In my first annual message I promised to employ my best exertions in
cooperation with Congress to reduce the expenditures of the Government
within the limits of a wise and judicious economy. An overflowing
Treasury had produced habits of prodigality and extravagance which could
only be gradually corrected. The work required both time and patience.
I applied myself diligently to this task from the beginning and was
aided by the able and energetic efforts of the heads of the different
Executive Departments. The result of our labors in this good cause did
not appear in the sum total of our expenditures for the first two years,
mainly in consequence of the extraordinary expenditure necessarily
incurred in the Utah expedition and the very large amount of the
contingent expenses of Congress during this period. These greatly
exceeded the pay and mileage of the members. For the year ending June
30, 1858, whilst the pay and mileage amounted to $1,490,214, the
contingent expenses rose to $2,093,309.79; and for the year ending
June 30, 1859, whilst the pay and mileage amounted to $859,093.66, the
contingent expenses amounted to $1,431,565.78. I am happy, however,
to be able to inform you that during the last fiscal year, ending
June 30, 1860, the total expenditures of the Government in all its
branches--legislative, executive, and judicial--exclusive of the public
debt, were reduced to the sum of $55,402,465.46. This conclusively
appears from the books of the Treasury. In the year ending June 30,
1858, the total expenditure, exclusive of the public debt, amounted
to $71,901,129.77, and that for the year ending June 30, 1859, to
$66,346,226.13. Whilst the books of the Treasury show an actual
expenditure of $59,848,474.72 for the year ending June 30, 1860,
including $1,040,667.71 for the contingent expenses of Congress, there
must be deducted from this amount the sum of $4,296,009.26, with the
interest upon it of $150,000, appropriated by the act of February 15,
1860, "for the purpose of supplying the deficiency in the revenues and
defraying the expenses of the Post-Office Department for the year ending
June 30, 1859." This sum, therefore, justly chargeable to the year 1859,
must be deducted from the sum of $59,848,474.72 in order to ascertain
the expenditure for the year ending June 30, 1860, which leaves a
balance for the expenditures of that year of $55,402,465.46. The
interest on the public debt, including Treasury notes, for the same
fiscal year, ending June 30, 1860, amounted to $3,177,314.62, which,
added to the above sum of $55,402,465.46, makes the aggregate
of $58,579,780.08.

It ought in justice to be observed that several of the estimates from
the Departments for the year ending June 30, 1860, were reduced by
Congress below what was and still is deemed compatible with the public
interest. Allowing a liberal margin of $2,500,000 for this reduction and
for other causes, it may be safely asserted that the sum of $61,000,000,
or, at the most, $62,000,000, is amply sufficient to administer the
Government and to pay the interest on the public debt, unless contingent
events should hereafter render extraordinary expenditures necessary.

This result has been attained in a considerable degree by the care
exercised by the appropriate Departments in entering into public
contracts. I have myself never interfered with the award of any such
contract, except in a single case, with the Colonization Society,
deeming it advisable to cast the whole responsibility in each case on
the proper head of the Department, with the general instruction that
these contracts should always be given to the lowest and best bidder.
It has ever been my opinion that public contracts are not a legitimate
source of patronage to be conferred upon personal or political
favorites, but that in all such cases a public officer is bound to
act for the Government as a prudent individual would act for himself.

It is with great satisfaction I communicate the fact that since the date
of my last annual message not a single slave has been imported into
the United States in violation of the laws prohibiting the African
slave trade. This statement is founded upon a thorough examination and
investigation of the subject. Indeed, the spirit which prevailed some
time since among a portion of our fellow-citizens in favor of this
trade seems to have entirely subsided.

I also congratulate you upon the public sentiment which now exists
against the crime of setting on foot military expeditions within the
limits of the United States to proceed from thence and make war upon
the people of unoffending States with whom we are at peace. In this
respect a happy change has been effected since the commencement of my
Administration. It surely ought to be the prayer of every Christian
and patriot that such expeditions may never again receive countenance
in our country or depart from our shores.

It would be a useless repetition to do more than refer with earnest
commendation to my former recommendations in favor of the Pacific
railroad; of the grant of power to the President to employ the naval
force in the vicinity for the protection of the lives and property
of our fellow-citizens passing in transit over the different Central
American routes against sudden and lawless outbreaks and depredations,
and also to protect American merchant vessels, their crews and cargoes,
against violent and unlawful seizure and confiscation in the ports of
Mexico and the South American Republics when these may be in a disturbed
and revolutionary condition. It is my settled conviction that without
such a power we do not afford that protection to those engaged in the
commerce of the country which they have a right to demand.

I again recommend to Congress the passage of a law, in pursuance of
the provisions of the Constitution, appointing a day certain previous
to the 4th March in each year of an odd number for the election of
Representatives throughout all the States. A similar power has already
been exercised, with general approbation, in the appointment of the
same day throughout the Union for holding the election of electors for
President and Vice-President of the United States. My attention was
earnestly directed to this subject from the fact that the Thirty-fifth
Congress terminated on the 3d March, 1859, without making the necessary
appropriation for the service of the Post-Office Department. I was then
forced to consider the best remedy for this omission, and an immediate
call of the present Congress was the natural resort. Upon inquiry,
however, I ascertained that fifteen out of the thirty-three States
composing the Confederacy were without Representatives, and that
consequently these fifteen States would be disfranchised by such a call.
These fifteen States will be in the same condition on the 4th March
next. Ten of them can not elect Representatives, according to existing
State laws, until different periods, extending from the beginning
of August next until the months of October and November. In my last
message I gave warning that in a time of sudden and alarming danger
the salvation of our institutions might depend upon the power of the
President immediately to assemble a full Congress to meet the emergency.

It is now quite evident that the financial necessities of the Government
will require a modification of the tariff during your present session
for the purpose of increasing the revenue. In this aspect, I desire to
reiterate the recommendation contained in my last two annual messages
in favor of imposing specific instead of _ad valorem_ duties on all
imported articles to which these can be properly applied. From long
observation and experience I am convinced that specific duties
are necessary, both to protect the revenue and to secure to our
manufacturing interests that amount of incidental encouragement
which unavoidably results from a revenue tariff.

As an abstract proposition it may be admitted that _ad valorem_ duties
would in theory be the most just and equal. But if the experience of
this and of all other commercial nations has demonstrated that such
duties can not be assessed and collected without great frauds upon the
revenue, then it is the part of wisdom to resort to specific duties.
Indeed, from the very nature of an _ad valorem_ duty this must be the
result. Under it the inevitable consequence is that foreign goods will
be entered at less than their true value. The Treasury will therefore
lose the duty on the difference between their real and fictitious value,
and to this extent we are defrauded.

The temptations which _ad valorem_ duties present to a dishonest
importer are irresistible. His object is to pass his goods through the
custom-house at the very lowest valuation necessary to save them from
confiscation. In this he too often succeeds in spite of the vigilance,
of the revenue officers. Hence the resort to false invoices, one for the
purchaser and another for the custom-house, and to other expedients to
defraud the Government. The honest importer produces his invoice to the
collector, stating the actual price, at which he purchased the articles
abroad. Not so the dishonest importer and the agent of the foreign
manufacturer. And here it may be observed that a very large proportion
of the manufactures imported from abroad are consigned for sale to
commission merchants, who are mere agents employed by the manufacturers.
In such cases no actual sale has been made to fix their value. The
foreign manufacturer, if he be dishonest, prepares an invoice of the
goods, not at their actual value, but at the very lowest rate necessary
to escape detection. In this manner the dishonest importer and the
foreign manufacturer enjoy a decided advantage over the honest merchant.
They are thus enabled to undersell the fair trader and drive him from
the market. In fact the operation of this system has already driven from
the pursuits of honorable commerce many of that class of regular and
conscientious merchants whose character throughout the world is the
pride of our country.

The remedy for these evils, is to be found in specific duties, so
far as this may be practicable. They dispense with any inquiry at the
custom-house into the actual cost or value of the article, and it pays
the precise amount of duty previously fixed by law. They present no
temptations to the appraisers of foreign goods, who receive but small
salaries, and might by undervaluation in a few cases render themselves

Besides, specific duties best conform to the requisition in the
Constitution that "no preference shall be given by any regulation of
commerce or revenue to the ports of one State over those of another."
Under our _ad valorem_ system such preferences are to some extent
inevitable, and complaints have often been made that the spirit of this
provision has been violated by a lower appraisement of the same articles
at one port than at another.

An impression strangely enough prevails to some extent that specific
duties are necessarily protective duties. Nothing can be more
fallacious. Great Britain glories in free trade, and yet her whole
revenue from imports is at the present moment collected under a system
of specific duties. It is a striking fact in this connection that in the

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