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

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[From Statutes at Large (Little, Brown & Co.), Vol. XI, p. 781.]



Whereas by an act of Congress of the United States of the 24th of May,
1828, entitled "An act in addition to an act entitled 'An act concerning
discriminating duties of tonnage and impost' and to equalize the duties
on Prussian vessels and their cargoes," it is provided that, upon
satisfactory evidence being given to the President of the United States
by the government of any foreign nation that no discriminating duties of
tonnage or impost are imposed or levied in the ports of the said nation
upon vessels wholly belonging to citizens of the United States or upon
the produce, manufactures, or merchandise imported in the same from the
United States or from any foreign country, the President is hereby
authorized to issue his proclamation declaring that the foreign
discriminating duties of tonnage and impost within the United States are
and shall be suspended and discontinued so far as respects the vessels
of the said foreign nation and the produce, manufactures, or merchandise
imported into the United States in the same from the said foreign nation
or from any other foreign country, the said suspension to take effect
from the time of such notification being given to the President of the
United States and to continue so long as the reciprocal exemption of
vessels belonging to citizens of the United States and their cargoes,
as aforesaid, shall be continued, and no longer; and

Whereas satisfactory evidence has lately been received by me from His
Royal Highness the Grand Duke of Mechlenberg Schwerin, through an
official communication of Leon Herckenrath, his consul at Charleston,
in the United States, under date of the 13th April, 1835, that no
discriminating duties of tonnage or impost are imposed or levied in
the ports of the Grand Duchy of Mechlenberg Schwerin upon vessels
wholly belonging to citizens of the United States or upon the produce,
manufactures, or merchandise imported in the same from the United States
or from any foreign country:

Now, therefore, I, Andrew Jackson, President of the United States of
America, do hereby declare and proclaim that the foreign discriminating
duties of tonnage and impost within the United States are and shall be
suspended and discontinued so far as respects the vessels of the Grand
Duchy of Mechlenberg Schwerin and the produce, manufactures, or
merchandise imported into the United States in the same from the said
Grand Duchy or from any other foreign country, the said suspension to
take effect from the 13th day of April, 1835, above mentioned, and to
continue so long as the reciprocal exemption of vessels belonging to
citizens of the United States and their cargoes, as aforesaid, shall
be continued, and no longer.


Given under my hand at the city of Washington, the 28th day of April,
A.D. 1835, and of the Independence of the United States the fifty-ninth.


By the President:
_Secretary of State_.


WASHINGTON, _December 7, 1835_.

_Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives_:

In the discharge of my official duty the task again devolves upon
me of communicating with a new Congress. The reflection that the
representation of the Union has been recently renewed, and that the
constitutional term of its service will expire with my own, heightens
the solicitude with which I shall attempt to lay before it the state
of our national concerns and the devout hope which I cherish that its
labors to improve them may be crowned with success.

You are assembled at a period of profound interest to the American
patriot. The unexampled growth and prosperity of our country having
given us a rank in the scale of nations which removes all apprehension
of danger to our integrity and independence from external foes, the
career of freedom is before us, with an earnest from the past that if
true to ourselves there can be no formidable obstacle in the future
to its peaceful and uninterrupted pursuit. Yet, in proportion to the
disappearance of those apprehensions which attended our weakness, as
once contrasted with the power of some of the States of the Old World,
should we now be solicitous as to those which belong to the conviction
that it is to our own conduct we must look for the preservation of those
causes on which depend the excellence and the duration of our happy
system of government.

In the example of other systems founded on the will of the people we
trace to internal dissension the influences which have so often blasted
the hopes of the friends of freedom. The social elements, which were
strong and successful when united against external danger, failed
in the more difficult task of properly adjusting their own internal
organization, and thus gave way the great principle of self-government.
Let us trust that this admonition will never be forgotten by the
Government or the people of the United States, and that the testimony
which our experience thus far holds out to the great human family of the
practicability and the blessings of free government will be confirmed
in all time to come.

We have but to look at the state of our agriculture, manufactures, and
commerce and the unexampled increase of our population to feel the
magnitude of the trust committed to us. Never in any former period of
our history have we had greater reason than we now have to be thankful
to Divine Providence for the blessings of health and general prosperity.
Every branch of labor we see crowned with the most abundant rewards. In
every element of national resources and wealth and of individual comfort
we witness the most rapid and solid improvements. With no interruptions
to this pleasing prospect at home which will not yield to the spirit of
harmony and good will that so strikingly pervades the mass of the people
in every quarter, amidst all the diversity of interest and pursuits to
which they are attached, and with no cause of solicitude in regard to
our external affairs which will not, it is hoped, disappear before
the principles of simple justice and the forbearance that mark our
intercourse with foreign powers, we have every reason to feel proud
of our beloved country.

The general state of our foreign relations has not materially changed
since my last annual message.

In the settlement of the question of the northeastern boundary little
progress has been made. Great Britain has declined acceding to the
proposition of the United States, presented in accordance with the
resolution of the Senate, unless certain preliminary conditions were
admitted, which I deemed incompatible with a satisfactory and rightful
adjustment of the controversy. Waiting for some distinct proposal from
the Government of Great Britain, which has been invited, I can only
repeat the expression of my confidence that, with the strong mutual
disposition which I believe exists to make a just arrangement, this
perplexing question can be settled with a due regard to the well-founded
pretensions and pacific policy of all the parties to it. Events are
frequently occurring on the northeastern frontier of a character to
impress upon all the necessity of a speedy and definitive termination of
the dispute. This consideration, added to the desire common to both to
relieve the liberal and friendly relations so happily existing between
the two countries from all embarrassment, will no doubt have its just
influence upon both.

Our diplomatic intercourse with Portugal has been renewed, and it is
expected that the claims of our citizens, partially paid, will be fully
satisfied as soon as the condition of the Queen's Government will permit
the proper attention to the subject of them. That Government has, I am
happy to inform you, manifested a determination to act upon the liberal
principles which have marked our commercial policy. The happiest effects
upon the future trade between the United States and Portugal are
anticipated from it, and the time is not thought to be remote when a
system of perfect reciprocity will be established.

The installments due under the convention with the King of the Two
Sicilies have been paid with that scrupulous fidelity by which his whole
conduct has been characterized, and the hope is indulged that the
adjustment of the vexed question of our claims will be followed by a
more extended and mutually beneficial intercourse between the two

The internal contest still continues in Spain. Distinguished as
this struggle has unhappily been by incidents of the most sanguinary
character, the obligations of the late treaty of indemnification with us
have been, nevertheless, faithfully executed by the Spanish Government.

No provision having been made at the last session of Congress
for the ascertainment of the claims to be paid and the apportionment
of the funds under the convention made with Spain, I invite your early
attention to the subject. The public evidences of the debt have,
according to the terms of the convention and in the forms prescribed by
it, been placed in the possession of the United States, and the interest
as it fell due has been regularly paid upon them. Our commercial
intercourse with Cuba stands as regulated by the act of Congress.
No recent information has been received as to the disposition of the
Government of Madrid on this subject, and the lamented death of our
recently appointed minister on his way to Spain, with the pressure of
their affairs at home, renders it scarcely probable that any change is
to be looked for during the coming year. Further portions of the Florida
archives have been sent to the United States, although the death of one
of the commissioners at a critical moment embarrassed the progress of
the delivery of them. The higher officers of the local government have
recently shewn an anxious desire, in compliance with the orders from the
parent Government, to facilitate the selection and delivery of all we
have a right to claim.

Negotiations have been opened at Madrid for the establishment of a
lasting peace between Spain and such of the Spanish American Governments
of this hemisphere as have availed themselves of the intimation given
to all of them of the disposition of Spain to treat upon the basis of
their entire independence. It is to be regretted that simultaneous
appointments by all of ministers to negotiate with Spain had not been
made. The negotiation itself would have been simplified, and this
long-standing dispute, spreading over a large portion of the world,
would have been brought to a more speedy conclusion.

Our political and commercial relations with Austria, Prussia, Sweden,
and Denmark stand on the usual favorable bases. One of the articles of
our treaty with Russia in relation to the trade on the northwest coast
of America having expired, instructions have been given to our minister
at St. Petersburg to negotiate a renewal of it. The long and unbroken
amity between the two Governments gives every reason for supposing the
article will be renewed, if stronger motives do not exist to prevent
it than with our view of the subject can be anticipated here.

I ask your attention to the message of my predecessor at the opening
of the second session of the Nineteenth Congress, relative to our
commercial intercourse with Holland, and to the documents connected with
that subject, communicated to the House of Representatives on the 10th
of January, 1825, and 18th of January, 1827. Coinciding in the opinion
of my predecessor that Holland is not, under the regulations of her
present system, entitled to have her vessels and their cargoes received
into the United States on the footing of American vessels and cargoes as
regards duties of tonnage and impost, a respect for his reference of it
to the Legislature has alone prevented me from acting on the subject. I
should still have waited without comment for the action of Congress, but
recently a claim has been made by Belgian subjects to admission into our
ports for their ships and cargoes on the same footing as American, with
the allegation we could not dispute that our vessels received in their
ports the identical treatment shewn to them in the ports of Holland,
upon whose vessels no discrimination is made in the ports of the United
States. Giving the same privileges the Belgians expected the same
benefits---benefits that were, in fact, enjoyed when Belgium and Holland
were united under one Government. Satisfied with the justice of their
pretension to be placed on the same footing with Holland, I could not,
nevertheless, without disregard to the principle of our laws, admit
their claim to be treated as Americans, and at the same time a respect
for Congress, to whom the subject had long since been referred, has
prevented me from producing a just equality by taking from the vessels
of Holland privileges conditionally granted by acts of Congress,
although the condition upon which the grant was made has, in my
judgment, failed since 1822. I recommend, therefore, a review of the
act of 1824, and such a modification of it as will produce an equality
on such terms as Congress shall think best comports with our settled
policy and the obligations of justice to two friendly powers.

With the Sublime Porte and all the Governments on the coast of Barbary
our relations continue to be friendly. The proper steps have been taken
to renew our treaty with Morocco.

The Argentine Republic has again promised to send within the current
year a minister to the United States.

A convention with Mexico for extending the time for the appointment of
commissioners to run the boundary line has been concluded and will be
submitted to the Senate. Recent events in that country have awakened
the liveliest solicitude in the United States. Aware of the strong
temptations existing and powerful inducements held out to the citizens
of the United States to mingle in the dissensions of our immediate
neighbors, instructions have been given to the district attorneys of
the United States where indications warranted it to prosecute without
respect to persons all who might attempt to violate the obligations of
our neutrality, while at the same time it has been thought necessary to
apprise the Government of Mexico that we should require the integrity
of our territory to be scrupulously respected by both parties.

From our diplomatic agents in Brazil, Chile, Peru, Central America,
Venezuela, and New Granada constant assurances are received of the
continued good understanding with the Governments to which they are
severally accredited. With those Governments upon which our citizens
have valid and accumulating claims, scarcely an advance toward a
settlement of them is made, owing mainly to their distracted state or to
the pressure of imperative domestic questions. Our patience has been and
will probably be still further severely tried, but our fellow-citizens
whose interests are involved may confide in the determination of the
Government to obtain for them eventually ample retribution.

Unfortunately, many of the nations of this hemisphere are still
self-tormented by domestic dissensions. Revolution succeeds revolution;
injuries are committed upon foreigners engaged in lawful pursuits; much
time elapses before a government sufficiently stable is erected to
justify expectation of redress; ministers are sent and received, and
before the discussions of past injuries are fairly begun fresh troubles
arise; but too frequently new injuries are added to the old, to be
discussed together with the existing government after it has proved its
ability to sustain the assaults made upon it, or with its successor if
overthrown. If this unhappy condition of things continues much longer,
other nations will be under the painful necessity of deciding whether
justice to their suffering citizens does not require a prompt redress of
injuries by their own power, without waiting for the establishment of a
government competent and enduring enough to discuss and to make
satisfaction for them.

Since the last session of Congress the validity of our claims upon
France, as liquidated by the treaty of 1831, has been acknowledged by
both branches of her legislature, and the money has been appropriated
for their discharge; but the payment is, I regret to inform you, still

A brief recapitulation of the most important incidents in this
protracted controversy will shew how utterly untenable are the grounds
upon which this course is attempted to be justified.

On entering upon the duties of my station I found the United States an
unsuccessful applicant to the justice of France for the satisfaction of
claims the validity of which was never questionable, and has now been
most solemnly admitted by France herself. The antiquity of these claims,
their high justice, and the aggravating circumstances out of which they
arose are too familiar to the American people to require description.
It is sufficient to say that for a period of ten years and upward our
commerce was, with but little interruption, the subject of constant
aggressions on the part of France--aggressions the ordinary features of
which were condemnations of vessels and cargoes under arbitrary decrees,
adopted in contravention as well of the laws of nations as of treaty
stipulations, burnings on the high seas, and seizures and confiscations
under special imperial rescripts in the ports of other nations occupied
by the armies or under the control of France. Such it is now conceded
is the character of the wrongs we suffered--wrongs in many cases so
flagrant that even their authors never denied our right to reparation.
Of the extent of these injuries some conception may be formed from the
fact that after the burning of a large amount at sea and the necessary
deterioration in other cases by long detention the American property so
seized and sacrificed at forced sales, excluding what was adjudged to
privateers before or without condemnation, brought into the French
treasury upward of 24,000,000 francs, besides large custom-house duties.

The subject had already been an affair of twenty years' uninterrupted
negotiation, except for a short time when France was overwhelmed by
the military power of united Europe. During this period, whilst other
nations were extorting from her payment of their claims at the point of
the bayonet, the United States intermitted their demand for justice out
of respect to the oppressed condition of a gallant people to whom they
felt under obligations for fraternal assistance in their own days
of suffering and of peril. The bad effects of these protracted and
unavailing discussions, as well upon our relations with France as upon
our national character, were obvious, and the line of duty was to my
mind equally so. This was either to insist upon the adjustment of our
claims within a reasonable period or to abandon them altogether. I could
not doubt that by this course the interests and honor of both countries
would be best consulted. Instructions were therefore given in this
spirit to the minister who was sent out once more to demand reparation.
Upon the meeting of Congress in December, 1829, I felt it my duty to
speak of these claims and the delays of France in terms calculated to
call the serious attention of both countries to the subject. The then
French ministry took exception to the message on the ground of its
containing a menace, under which it was not agreeable to the French
Government to negotiate. The American minister of his own accord refuted
the construction which was attempted to be put upon the message and at
the same time called to the recollection of the French ministry that
the President's message was a communication addressed, not to foreign
governments, but to the Congress of the United States, in which it
was enjoined upon him by the Constitution to lay before that body
information of the state of the Union, comprehending its foreign as well
as its domestic relations, and that if in the discharge of this duty he
felt it incumbent upon him to summon the attention of Congress in due
time to what might be the possible consequences of existing difficulties
with any foreign government, he might fairly be supposed to do so under
a sense of what was due from him in a frank communication with another
branch of his own Government, and not from any intention of holding
a menace over a foreign power. The views taken by him received my
approbation, the French Government was satisfied, and the negotiation
was continued. It terminated in the treaty of July 4, 1831, recognizing
the justice of our claims in part and promising payment to the amount
of 25,000,000 francs in six annual installments.

The ratifications of this treaty were exchanged at Washington on the
2d of February, 1832, and in five days thereafter it was laid before
Congress, who immediately passed the acts necessary on our part to
secure to France the commercial advantages conceded to her in the
compact. The treaty had previously been solemnly ratified by the King of
the French in terms which are certainly not mere matters of form, and of
which the translation is as follows:

We, approving the above convention in all and each of the dispositions
which are contained in it, do declare, by ourselves as well as by our
heirs and successors, that it is accepted, approved, ratified, and
confirmed, and by these presents, signed by our hand, we do accept,
approve, ratify, and confirm it; promising, on the faith and word of a
king, to observe it and to cause it to be observed inviolably, without
ever contravening it or suffering it to be contravened, directly or
indirectly, for any cause or under any pretense whatsoever.

Official information of the exchange of ratifications in the
United States reached Paris whilst the Chambers were in session. The
extraordinary and to us injurious delays of the French Government in
their action upon the subject of its fulfillment have been heretofore
stated to Congress, and I have no disposition to enlarge upon them here.
It is sufficient to observe that the then pending session was allowed to
expire without even an effort to obtain the necessary appropriations;
that the two succeeding ones were also suffered to pass away without
anything like a serious attempt to obtain a decision upon the subject,
and that it was not until the fourth session, almost three years after
the conclusion of the treaty and more than two years after the exchange
of ratifications, that the bill for the execution of the treaty was
pressed to a vote and rejected.

In the meantime the Government of the United States, having full
confidence that a treaty entered into and so solemnly ratified by the
French King would be executed in good faith, and not doubting that
provision would be made for the payment of the first installment which
was to become due on the 2d day of February, 1833, negotiated a draft
for the amount through the Bank of the United States. When this draft
was presented by the holder with the credentials required by the treaty
to authorize him to receive the money, the Government of France allowed
it to be protested. In addition to the injury in the nonpayment of the
money by France, conformably to her engagement, the United States were
exposed to a heavy claim on the part of the bank under pretense of
damages, in satisfaction of which that institution seized upon and still
retains an equal amount of the public money. Congress was in session
when the decision of the Chambers reached Washington, and an immediate
communication of this apparently final decision of France not to fulfill
the stipulations of the treaty was the course naturally to be expected
from the President. The deep tone of dissatisfaction which pervaded the
public mind and the correspondent excitement produced in Congress by
only a general knowledge of the result rendered it more than probable
that a resort to immediate measures of redress would be the consequence
of calling the attention of that body to the subject. Sincerely desirous
of preserving the pacific relations which had so long existed between
the two countries, I was anxious to avoid this course if I could be
satisfied that by doing so neither the interests nor the honor of my
country would be compromitted. Without the fullest assurances upon that
point, I could not hope to acquit myself of the responsibility to be
incurred in suffering Congress to adjourn without laying the subject
before them. Those received by me were believed to be of that character.

That the feelings produced in the United States by the news of the
rejection of the appropriation would be such as I have described them
to have been was foreseen by the French Government, and prompt measures
were taken by it to prevent the consequences. The King in person
expressed through our minister at Paris his profound regret at the
decision of the Chambers, and promised to send forthwith a national
ship with dispatches to his minister here authorizing him to give such
assurances as would satisfy the Government and people of the United
States that the treaty would yet be faithfully executed by France.
The national ship arrived, and the minister received his instructions.
Claiming to act under the authority derived from them, he gave to this
Government in the name of his the most solemn assurances that as soon
after the new elections as the charter would permit the French
Chambers would be convened and the attempt to procure the necessary
appropriations renewed; that all the constitutional powers of the King
and his ministers should be put in requisition to accomplish the object,
and he was understood, and so expressly informed by this Government at
the time, to engage that the question should be pressed to a decision at
a period sufficiently early to permit information of the result to be
communicated to Congress at the commencement of their next session.
Relying upon these assurances, I incurred the responsibility, great
as I regarded it to be, of suffering Congress to separate without
communicating with them upon the subject.

The expectations justly founded upon the promises thus solemnly made to
this Government by that of France were not realized. The French Chambers
met on the 31st of July, 1834, soon after the election, and although our
minister in Paris urged the French ministry to bring the subject before
them, they declined doing so. He next insisted that the Chambers, if
prorogued without acting on the subject, should be reassembled at a
period so early that their action on the treaty might be known in
Washington prior to the meeting of Congress. This reasonable request
was not only declined, but the Chambers were prorogued to the 29th of
December, a day so late that their decision, however urgently pressed,
could not in all probability be obtained in time to reach Washington
before the necessary adjournment of Congress by the Constitution. The
reasons given by the ministry for refusing to convoke the Chambers at
an earlier period were afterwards shewn not to be insuperable by their
actual convocation on the 1st of December under a special call for
domestic purposes, which fact, however, did not become known to this
Government until after the commencement of the last session of Congress.

Thus disappointed in our just expectations, it became my imperative
duty to consult with Congress in regard to the expediency of a resort
to retaliatory measures in case the stipulations of the treaty should
not be speedily complied with, and to recommend such as in my judgment
the occasion called for. To this end an unreserved communication of the
case in all its aspects became indispensable. To have shrunk in making
it from saying all that was necessary to its correct understanding,
and that the truth would justify, for fear of giving offense to
others, would have been unworthy of us. To have gone, on the other
hand, a single step further for the purpose of wounding the pride of a
Government and people with whom we had so many motives for cultivating
relations of amity and reciprocal advantage would have been unwise and
improper. Admonished by the past of the difficulty of making even the
simplest statement of our wrongs without disturbing the sensibilities of
those who had by their position become responsible for their redress,
and earnestly desirous of preventing further obstacles from that source,
I went out of my way to preclude a construction of the message by which
the recommendation that was made to Congress might be regarded as a
menace to France in not only disavowing such a design, but in declaring
that her pride and her power were too well known to expect anything from
her fears. The message did not reach Paris until more than a month after
the Chambers had been in session, and such was the insensibility of the
ministry to our rightful claims and just expectations that our minister
had been informed that the matter when introduced would not be pressed
as a cabinet measure.

Although the message was not officially communicated to the French
Government, and notwithstanding the declaration to the contrary which
it contained, the French ministry decided to consider the conditional
recommendation of reprisals a menace and an insult which the honor of
the nation made it incumbent on them to resent. The measures resorted
to by them to evince their sense of the supposed indignity were the
immediate recall of their minister at Washington, the offer of passports
to the American minister at Paris, and a public notice to the
legislative Chambers that all diplomatic intercourse with the United
States had been suspended. Having in this manner vindicated the dignity
of France, they next proceeded to illustrate her justice. To this end a
bill was immediately introduced into the Chamber of Deputies proposing
to make the appropriations necessary to carry into effect the treaty.
As this bill subsequently passed into a law, the provisions of which
now constitute the main subject of difficulty between the two nations,
it becomes my duty, in order to place the subject before you in a clear
light, to trace the history of its passage and to refer with some
particularity to the proceedings and discussions in regard to it.

The minister of finance in his opening speech alluded to the measures
which had been adopted to resent the supposed indignity, and recommended
the execution of the treaty as a measure required by the honor and
justice of France. He as the organ of the ministry declared the message,
so long as it had not received the sanction of Congress, a mere
expression of the personal opinion of the President, for which neither
the Government nor people of the United States were responsible, and
that an engagement had been entered into for the fulfillment of which
the honor of France was pledged. Entertaining these views, the single
condition which the French ministry proposed to annex to the payment of
the money was that it should not be made until it was ascertained that
the Government of the United States had done nothing to injure the
interests of France, or, in other words, that no steps had been
authorized by Congress of a hostile character toward France.

What the disposition or action of Congress might be was then unknown to
the French cabinet; but on the 14th of January the Senate resolved that
it was at that time inexpedient to adopt any legislative measures in
regard to the state of affairs between the United States and France, and
no action on the subject had occurred in the House of Representatives.
These facts were known in Paris prior to the 28th of March, 1835, when
the committee to whom the bill of indemnification had been referred
reported it to the Chamber of Deputies. That committee substantially
reechoed the sentiments of the ministry, declared that Congress had set
aside the proposition of the President, and recommended the passage of
the bill without any other restriction than that originally proposed.
Thus was it known to the French ministry and Chambers that if the
position assumed by them, and which had been so frequently and solemnly
announced as the only one compatible with the honor of France, was
maintained and the bill passed as originally proposed, the money would
be paid and there would be an end of this unfortunate controversy.

But this cheering prospect was soon destroyed by an amendment introduced
into the bill at the moment of its passage, providing that the money
should not be paid until the French Government had received satisfactory
explanations of the President's message of the 2d December, 1834, and,
what is still more extraordinary, the president of the council of
ministers adopted this amendment and consented to its incorporation
in the bill. In regard to a supposed insult which had been formally
resented by the recall of their minister and the offer of passports
to ours, they now for the first time proposed to ask explanations.
Sentiments and propositions which they had declared could not justly
be imputed to the Government or people of the United States are set up
as obstacles to the performance of an act of conceded justice to that
Government and people. They had declared that the honor of France
required the fulfillment of the engagement into which the King had
entered, unless Congress adopted the recommendations of the message.
They ascertained that Congress did not adopt them, and yet that
fulfillment is refused unless they first obtain from the President
explanations of an opinion characterized by themselves as personal
and inoperative.

The conception that it was my intention to menace or insult the
Government of France is as unfounded as the attempt to extort from the
fears of that nation what her sense of justice may deny would be vain
and ridiculous. But the Constitution of the United States imposes on
the President the duty of laying before Congress the condition of the
country in its foreign and domestic relations, and of recommending such
measures as may in his opinion be required by its interests. From the
performance of this duty he can not be deterred by the fear of wounding
the sensibilities of the people or government of whom it may become
necessary to speak; and the American people are incapable of submitting
to an interference by any government on earth, however powerful, with
the free performance of the domestic duties which the Constitution has
imposed on their public functionaries. The discussions which intervene
between the several departments of our Government belong to ourselves,
and for anything said in them our public servants are only responsible
to their own constituents and to each other. If in the course of their
consultations facts are erroneously stated or unjust deductions are
made, they require no other inducement to correct them, however informed
of their error, than their love of justice and what is due to their own
character; but they can never submit to be interrogated upon the subject
as a matter of right by a foreign power. When our discussions terminate
in acts, our responsibility to foreign powers commences, not as
individuals, but as a nation. The principle which calls in question
the President for the language of his message would equally justify a
foreign power in demanding explanation of the language used in the
report of a committee or by a member in debate.

This is not the first time that the Government of France has taken
exception to the messages of American Presidents. President Washington
and the first President Adams in the performance of their duties to the
American people fell under the animadversions of the French Directory.
The objection taken by the ministry of Charles X, and removed by the
explanations made by our minister upon the spot, has already been
adverted to. When it was understood that the ministry of the present
King took exception to my message of last year, putting a construction
upon it which was disavowed on its face, our late minister at Paris,
in answer to the note which first announced a dissatisfaction with
the language used in the message, made a communication to the French
Government under date of the 29th of January, 1835,[14] calculated to
remove all impressions which an unreasonable susceptibility had created.
He repeated and called the attention of the French Government to the
disavowal contained in the message itself of any intention to intimidate
by menace; he truly declared that it contained and was intended to
contain no charge of ill faith against the King of the French, and
properly distinguished between the right to complain in unexceptionable
terms of the omission to execute an agreement and an accusation of
bad motives in withholding such execution, and demonstrated that the
necessary use of that right ought not to be considered as an offensive
imputation. Although this communication was made without instructions
and entirely on the minister's own responsibility, yet it was afterwards
made the act of this Government by my full approbation, and that
approbation was officially made known on the 25th of April, 1835, to
the French Government. It, however, failed to have any effect. The law,
after this friendly explanation, passed with the obnoxious amendment,
supported by the King's ministers, and was finally approved by the King.

The people of the United States are justly attached to a pacific
system in their intercourse with foreign nations. It is proper,
therefore, that they should know whether their Government has adhered
to it. In the present instance it has been carried to the utmost extent
that was consistent with a becoming self-respect. The note of the 29th
of January, to which I have before alluded, was not the only one which
our minister took upon himself the responsibility of presenting on the
same subject and in the same spirit. Finding that it was intended to
make the payment of a just debt dependent on the performance of a
condition which he knew could never be complied with, he thought it a
duty to make another attempt to convince the French Government that
whilst self-respect and regard to the dignity of other nations would
always prevent us from using any language that ought to give offense,
yet we could never admit a right in any foreign government to ask
explanations of or to interfere in any manner in the communications
which one branch of our public councils made with another; that in
the present case no such language had been used, and that this had
in a former note been fully and voluntarily stated, before it was
contemplated to make the explanation a condition; and that there might
be no misapprehension he stated the terms used in that note, and he
officially informed them that it had been approved by the President,
and that therefore every explanation which could reasonably be asked or
honorably given had been already made; that the contemplated measure
had been anticipated by a voluntary and friendly declaration, and was
therefore not only useless, but might be deemed offensive, and certainly
would not be complied with if annexed as a condition.

When this latter communication, to which I especially invite the
attention of Congress, was laid before me, I entertained the hope that
the means it was obviously intended to afford of an honorable and speedy
adjustment of the difficulties between the two nations would have been
accepted, and I therefore did not hesitate to give it my sanction and
full approbation. This was due to the minister who had made himself
responsible for the act, and it was published to the people of the
United States and is now laid before their representatives to shew
how far their Executive has gone in its endeavors to restore a good
understanding between the two countries. It would have been at any
time communicated to the Government of France had it been officially

The French Government having received all the explanation which honor
and principle permitted, and which could in reason be asked, it was
hoped it would no longer hesitate to pay the installments now due.
The agent authorized to receive the money was instructed to inform the
French minister of his readiness to do so. In reply to this notice he
was told that the money could not then be paid, because the formalities
required by the act of the Chambers had not been arranged.

Not having received any official information of the intentions of the
French Government, and anxious to bring, as far as practicable, this
unpleasant affair to a close before the meeting of Congress, that you
might have the whole subject before you, I caused our charge d'affaires
at Paris to be instructed to ask for the final determination of the
French Government, and in the event of their refusal to pay the
installments now due, without further explanations to return to the
United States.

The result of this last application has not yet reached us, but is daily
expected. That it may be favorable is my sincere wish. France having
now, through all the branches of her Government, acknowledged the
validity of our claims and the obligation of the treaty of 1831, and
there really existing no adequate cause for further delay, will at
length, it may be hoped, adopt the course which the interests of both
nations, not less than the principles of justice, so imperiously
require. The treaty being once executed on her part, little will remain
to disturb the friendly relations of the two countries--nothing, indeed,
which will not yield to the suggestions of a pacific and enlightened
policy and to the influence of that mutual good will and of those
generous recollections which we may confidently expect will then be
revived in all their ancient force. In any event, however, the principle
involved in the new aspect which has been given to the controversy is so
vitally important to the independent administration of the Government
that it can neither be surrendered nor compromitted without national
degradation. I hope it is unnecessary for me to say that such a
sacrifice will not be made through any agency of mine. The honor of my
country shall never be stained by an apology from me for the statement
of truth and the performance of duty; nor can I give any explanation
of my official acts except such as is due to integrity and justice
and consistent with the principles on which our institutions have
been framed. This determination will, I am confident, be approved
by my constituents. I have, indeed, studied their character to but
little purpose if the sum of 25,000,000 francs will have the weight
of a feather in the estimation of what appertains to their national
independence, and if, unhappily, a different impression should at any
time obtain in any quarter, they will, I am sure, rally round the
Government of their choice with alacrity and unanimity, and silence
forever the degrading imputation.

Having thus frankly presented to you the circumstances which since the
last session of Congress have occurred in this interesting and important
matter, with the views of the Executive in regard to them, it is at this
time only necessary to add that whenever the advices now daily expected
from our charge d'affaires shall have been received they will be made
the subject of a special communication.

The condition of the public finances was never more flattering than at
the present period.

Since my last annual communication all the remains of the public
debt have been redeemed, or money has been placed in deposit for this
purpose whenever the creditors choose to receive it. All the other
pecuniary engagements of the Government have been honorably and promptly
fulfilled, and there will be a balance in the Treasury at the close of
the present year of about $19,000,000. It is believed that after meeting
all outstanding and unexpended appropriations there will remain near
eleven millions to be applied to any new objects which Congress may
designate or to the more rapid execution of the works already in
progress. In aid of these objects, and to satisfy the current
expenditures of the ensuing year, it is estimated that there will
be received from various sources twenty millions more in 1836.

Should Congress make new appropriations in conformity with the estimates
which will be submitted from the proper Departments, amounting to about
twenty-four millions, still the available surplus at the close of the
next year, after deducting all unexpended appropriations, will probably
not be less than six millions. This sum can, in my judgment, be now
usefully applied to proposed improvements in our navy-yards, and to new
national works which are not enumerated in the present estimates or
to the more rapid completion of those already begun. Either would be
constitutional and useful, and would render unnecessary any attempt
in our present peculiar condition to divide the surplus revenue or to
reduce it any faster than will be effected by the existing laws. In
any event, as the annual report from the Secretary of the Treasury will
enter into details, shewing the probability of some decrease in the
revenue during the next seven years and a very considerable deduction in
1842, it is not recommended that Congress should undertake to modify the
present tariff so as to disturb the principles on which the compromise
act was passed. Taxation on some of the articles of general consumption
which are not in competition with our own productions may be no doubt so
diminished as to lessen to some extent the source of this revenue, and
the same object can also be assisted by more liberal provisions for the
subjects of public defense, which in the present state of our prosperity
and wealth may be expected to engage your attention. If, however, after
satisfying all the demands which can arise from these sources the
unexpended balance in the Treasury should still continue to increase,
it would be better to bear with the evil until the great changes
contemplated in our tariff laws have occurred and shall enable us to
revise the system with that care and circumspection which are due to
so delicate and important a subject.

It is certainly our duty to diminish as far as we can the burdens of
taxation and to regard all the restrictions which are imposed on the
trade and navigation of our citizens as evils which we shall mitigate
whenever we are not prevented by the adverse legislation and policy
of foreign nations or those primary duties which the defense and
independence of our country enjoin upon us. That we have accomplished
much toward the relief of our citizens by the changes which have
accompanied the payment of the public debt and the adoption of the
present revenue laws is manifest from the fact that compared with 1833
there is a diminution of near twenty-five millions in the last two
years, and that our expenditures, independently of those for the public
debt, have been reduced near nine millions during the same period. Let
us trust that by the continued observance of economy and by harmonizing
the great interests of agriculture, manufactures, and commerce much
more may be accomplished to diminish the burdens of government and to
increase still further the enterprise and the patriotic affection of all
classes of our citizens and all the members of our happy Confederacy.
As the data which the Secretary of the Treasury will lay before you in
regard to our financial resources are full and extended, and will afford
a safe guide in your future calculations, I think it unnecessary to
offer any further observations on that subject here.

Among the evidences of the increasing prosperity of the country, not
the least gratifying is that afforded by the receipts from the sales of
the public lands, which amount in the present year to the unexpected
sum of $11,000,000. This circumstance attests the rapidity with which
agriculture, the first and most important occupation of man, advances
and contributes to the wealth and power of our extended territory.
Being still of the opinion that it is our best policy, as far as we can
consistently with the obligations under which those lands were ceded to
the United States, to promote their speedy settlement, I beg leave to
call the attention of the present Congress to the suggestions I have
offered respecting it in my former messages.

The extraordinary receipts from the sales of the public lands invite
you to consider what improvements the land system, and particularly the
condition of the General Land Office, may require. At the time this
institution was organized, near a quarter of a century ago, it would
probably have been thought extravagant to anticipate for this period
such an addition to its business as has been produced by the vast
increase of those sales during the past and present years. It may also
be observed that since the year 1812 the land offices and surveying
districts have been greatly multiplied, and that numerous legislative
enactments from year to year since that time have imposed a great
amount of new and additional duties upon that office, while the want
of a timely application of force commensurate with the care and labor
required has caused the increasing embarrassment of accumulated arrears
in the different branches of the establishment.

These impediments to the expedition of much duty in the General Land
Office induce me to submit to your judgment whether some modification
of the laws relating to its organization, or an organization of a new
character, be not called for at the present juncture, to enable the
office to accomplish all the ends of its institution with a greater
degree of facility and promptitude than experience has proved to be
practicable under existing regulations. The variety of the concerns and
the magnitude and complexity of the details occupying and dividing the
attention of the Commissioner appear to render it difficult, if not
impracticable, for that officer by any possible assiduity to bestow on
all the multifarious subjects upon which he is called to act the ready
and careful attention due to their respective importance, unless the
Legislature shall assist him by a law providing, or enabling him to
provide, for a more regular and economical distribution of labor, with
the incident responsibility among those employed under his direction.
The mere manual operation of affixing his signature to the vast number
of documents issuing from his office subtracts so largely from the time
and attention claimed by the weighty and complicated subjects daily
accumulating in that branch of the public service as to indicate the
strong necessity of revising the organic law of the establishment. It
will be easy for Congress hereafter to proportion the expenditure on
account of this branch of the service to its real wants by abolishing
from time to time the offices which can be dispensed with.

The extinction of the public debt having taken place, there is no longer
any use for the offices of Commissioners of Loans and of the Sinking
Fund. I recommend, therefore, that they be abolished, and that proper
measures be taken for the transfer to the Treasury Department of any
funds, books, and papers connected with the operations of those offices,
and that the proper power be given to that Department for closing
finally any portion of their business which may remain to be settled.

It is also incumbent on Congress in guarding the pecuniary interests
of the country to discontinue by such a law as was passed in 1812 the
receipt of the bills of the Bank of the United States in payment of the
public revenue, and to provide for the designation of an agent whose
duty it shall be to take charge of the books and stock of the United
States in that institution, and to close all connection with it after
the 3d of March, 1836, when its charter expires. In making provision in
regard to the disposition of this stock it will be essential to define
clearly and strictly the duties and powers of the officer charged with
that branch of the public service.

It will be seen from the correspondence which the Secretary of the
Treasury will lay before you that notwithstanding the large amount
of the stock which the United States hold in that institution no
information has yet been communicated which will enable the Government
to anticipate when it can receive any dividends or derive any benefit
from it.

Connected with the condition of the finances and the flourishing state
of the country in all its branches of industry, it is pleasing to
witness the advantages which have been already derived from the recent
laws regulating the value of the gold coinage. These advantages will be
more apparent in the course of the next year, when the branch mints
authorized to be established in North Carolina, Georgia, and Louisiana
shall have gone into operation. Aided, as it is hoped they will be, by
further reforms in the banking systems of the States and by judicious
regulations on the part of Congress in relation to the custody of the
public moneys, it may be confidently anticipated that the use of gold
and silver as a circulating medium will become general in the ordinary
transactions connected with the labor of the country. The great
desideratum in modern times is an efficient check upon the power of
banks, preventing that excessive issue of paper whence arise those
fluctuations in the standard of value which render uncertain the rewards
of labor. It was supposed by those who established the Bank of the
United States that from the credit given to it by the custody of the
public moneys and other privileges and the precautions taken to guard
against the evils which the country had suffered in the bankruptcy of
many of the State institutions of that period we should derive from that
institution all the security and benefits of a sound currency and every
good end that was attainable under that provision of the Constitution
which authorizes Congress alone to coin money and regulate the value
thereof. But it is scarcely necessary now to say that these
anticipations have not been realized.

After the extensive embarrassment and distress recently produced by the
Bank of the United States, from which the country is now recovering,
aggravated as they were by pretensions to power which defied the public
authority, and which if acquiesced in by the people would have changed
the whole character of our Government, every candid and intelligent
individual must admit that for the attainment of the great advantages of
a sound currency we must look to a course of legislation radically
different from that which created such an institution.

In considering the means of obtaining so important an end we must set
aside all calculations of temporary convenience, and be influenced
by those only which are in harmony with the true character and the
permanent interests of the Republic. We must recur to first principles
and see what it is that has prevented the legislation of Congress and
the States on the subject of currency from satisfying the public
expectation and realizing results corresponding to those which have
attended the action of our system when truly consistent with the great
principle of equality upon which it rests, and with that spirit of
forbearance and mutual concession and generous patriotism which was
originally, and must ever continue to be, the vital element of our

On this subject I am sure that I can not be mistaken in ascribing our
want of success to the undue countenance which has been afforded to the
spirit of monopoly. All the serious dangers which our system has yet
encountered may be traced to the resort to implied powers and the use of
corporations clothed with privileges, the effect of which is to advance
the interests of the few at the expense of the many. We have felt but
one class of these dangers exhibited in the contest waged by the Bank
of the United States against the Government for the last four years.
Happily they have been obviated for the present by the indignant
resistance of the people, but we should recollect that the principle
whence they sprung is an ever-active one, which will not fail to renew
its efforts in the same and in other forms so long as there is a hope
of success, founded either on the inattention of the people or the
treachery of their representatives to the subtle progress of its
influence. The bank is, in fact, but one of the fruits of a system at
war with the genius of all our institutions--a system founded upon a
political creed the fundamental principle of which is a distrust of
the popular will as a safe regulator of political power, and whose
great ultimate object and inevitable result, should it prevail, is the
consolidation of all power in our system in one central government.
Lavish public disbursements and corporations with exclusive privileges
would be its substitutes for the original and as yet sound checks and
balances of the Constitution--the means by whose silent and secret
operation a control would be exercised by the few over the political
conduct of the many by first acquiring that control over the labor and
earnings of the great body of the people. Wherever this spirit has
effected an alliance with political power, tyranny and despotism have
been the fruit. If it is ever used for the ends of government, it has to
be incessantly watched, or it corrupts the sources of the public virtue
and agitates the country with questions unfavorable to the harmonious
and steady pursuit of its true interests.

We are now to see whether, in the present favorable condition of the
country, we can not take an effectual stand against this spirit of
monopoly, and practically prove in respect to the currency as well as
other important interests that there is no necessity for so extensive a
resort to it as that which has been heretofore practiced. The experience
of another year has confirmed the utter fallacy of the idea that the
Bank of the United States was necessary as a fiscal agent of the
Government. Without its aid as such, indeed, in despite of all the
embarrassment it was in its power to create, the revenue has been paid
with punctuality by our citizens, the business of exchange, both
foreign and domestic, has been conducted with convenience, and the
circulating medium has been greatly improved. By the use of the State
banks, which do not derive their charters from the General Government
and are not controlled by its authority, it is ascertained that the
moneys of the United States can be collected and disbursed without loss
or inconvenience, and that all the wants of the community in relation
to exchange and currency are supplied as well as they have ever been
before. If under circumstances the most unfavorable to the steadiness of
the money market it has been found that the considerations on which the
Bank of the United States rested its claims to the public favor were
imaginary and groundless, it can not be doubted that the experience of
the future will be more decisive against them.

It has been seen that without the agency of a great moneyed monopoly the
revenue can be collected and conveniently and safely applied to all the
purposes of the public expenditure. It is also ascertained that instead
of being necessarily made to promote the evils of an unchecked paper
system, the management of the revenue can be made auxiliary to the
reform which the legislatures of several of the States have already
commenced in regard to the suppression of small bills, and which has
only to be fostered by proper regulations on the part of Congress to
secure a practical return to the extent required for the security of
the currency to the constitutional medium. Severed from the Government
as political engines, and not susceptible of dangerous extension and
combination, the State banks will not be tempted, nor will they have the
power, which we have seen exercised, to divert the public funds from the
legitimate purposes of the Government. The collection and custody of
the revenue, being, on the contrary, a source of credit to them, will
increase the security which the States provide for a faithful execution
of their trusts by multiplying the scrutinies to which their operations
and accounts will be subjected. Thus disposed, as well from interest
as the obligations of their charters, it can not be doubted that such
conditions as Congress may see fit to adopt respecting the deposits in
these institutions, with a view to the gradual disuse, of the small
bills will be cheerfully complied with, and that we shall soon gain in
place of the Bank of the United States a practical reform in the whole
paper system of the country. If by this policy we can ultimately witness
the suppression of all bank bills below $20, it is apparent that gold
and silver will take their place and become the principal circulating
medium in the common business of the farmers and mechanics of the
country. The attainment of such a result will form an era in the history
of our country which will be dwelt upon with delight by every true
friend of its liberty and independence. It will lighten the great
tax which our paper system has so long collected from the earnings of
labor, and do more to revive and perpetuate those habits of economy and
simplicity which are so congenial to the character of republicans than
all the legislation which has yet been attempted.

To this subject I feel that I can not too earnestly invite the special
attention of Congress, without the exercise of whose authority the
opportunity to accomplish so much public good must pass unimproved.
Deeply impressed with its vital importance, the Executive has taken all
the steps within his constitutional power to guard the public revenue
and defeat the expectation which the Bank of the United States indulged
of renewing and perpetuating its monopoly on the ground of its necessity
as a fiscal agent and as affording a sounder currency than could be
obtained without such an institution. In the performance of this duty
much responsibility was incurred which would have been gladly avoided if
the stake which the public had in the question could have been otherwise
preserved. Although clothed with the legal authority and supported by
precedent, I was aware that there was in the act of the removal of the
deposits a liability to excite that sensitiveness to Executive power
which it is the characteristic and the duty of freemen to indulge; but
I relied on this feeling also, directed by patriotism and intelligence,
to vindicate the conduct which in the end would appear to have been
called for by the best interests of my country. The apprehensions
natural to this feeling that there may have been a desire, through the
instrumentality of that measure, to extend the Executive influence, or
that it may have been prompted by motives not sufficiently free from
ambition, were not overlooked. Under the operation of our institutions
the public servant who is called on to take a step of high
responsibility should feel in the freedom which gives rise to such
apprehensions his highest security. When unfounded the attention which
they arouse and the discussions they excite deprive those who indulge
them of the power to do harm; when just they but hasten the certainty
with which the great body of our citizens never fail to repel an attempt
to procure their sanction to any exercise of power inconsistent with the
jealous maintenance of their rights. Under such convictions, and
entertaining no doubt that my constitutional obligations demanded the
steps which were taken in reference to the removal of the deposits, it
was impossible for me to be deterred from the path of duty by a fear
that my motives could be misjudged or that political prejudices could
defeat the just consideration of the merits of my conduct. The result
has shewn how safe is this reliance upon the patriotic temper and
enlightened discernment of the people. That measure has now been before
them and has stood the test of all the severe analysis which its general
importance, the interests it affected, and the apprehensions it excited
were calculated to produce, and it now remains for Congress to consider
what legislation has become necessary in consequence.

I need only add to what I have on former occasions said on this subject
generally that in the regulations which Congress may prescribe
respecting the custody of the public moneys it is desirable that as
little discretion as may be deemed consistent with their safe-keeping
should be given to the executive agents. No one can be more deeply
impressed than I am with the soundness of the doctrine which restrains
and limits, by specific provisions, executive discretion, as far as it
can be done consistently with the preservation of its constitutional
character. In respect to the control over the public money this doctrine
is peculiarly applicable, and is in harmony with the great principle
which I felt I was sustaining in the controversy with the Bank of the
United States, which has resulted in severing to some extent a dangerous
connection between a moneyed and political power. The duty of the
Legislature to define, by clear and positive enactments, the nature and
extent of the action which it belongs to the Executive to superintend
springs out of a policy analogous to that which enjoins upon all the
branches of the Federal Government an abstinence from the exercise of
powers not clearly granted.

In such a Government, possessing only limited and specific powers, the
spirit of its general administration can not be wise or just when it
opposes the reference of all doubtful points to the great source of
authority, the States and the people, whose number and diversified
relations, securing them against the influences and excitements which
may mislead their agents, make them the safest depository of power.
In its application to the Executive, with reference to the legislative
branch of the Government, the same rule of action should make the
President ever anxious to avoid the exercise of any discretionary
authority which can be regulated by Congress. The biases which may
operate upon him will not be so likely to extend to the representatives
of the people in that body.

In my former messages to Congress I have repeatedly urged the
propriety of lessening the discretionary authority lodged in the
various Departments, but it has produced no effect as yet, except
the discontinuance of extra allowances in the Army and Navy and the
substitution of fixed salaries in the latter. It is believed that the
same principles could be advantageously applied in all cases, and would
promote the efficiency and economy of the public service, at the same
time that greater satisfaction and more equal justice would be secured
to the public officers generally.

The accompanying report of the Secretary of War will put you in
possession of the operations of the Department confided to his care
in all its diversified relations during the past year.

I am gratified in being able to inform you that no occurrence has
required any movement of the military force, except such as is common to
a state of peace. The services of the Army have been limited to their
usual duties at the various garrisons upon the Atlantic and inland
frontier, with the exceptions stated by the Secretary of War. Our small
military establishment appears to be adequate to the purposes for which
it is maintained, and it forms a nucleus around which any additional
force may be collected should the public exigencies unfortunately
require any increase of our military means.

The various acts of Congress which have been recently passed in relation
to the Army have improved its condition, and have rendered its
organization more useful and efficient. It is at all times in a state
for prompt and vigorous action, and it contains within itself the power
of extension to any useful limit, while at the same time it preserves
that knowledge, both theoretical and practical, which education and
experience alone can give, and which, if not acquired and preserved in
time of peace, must be sought under great disadvantages in time of war.

The duties of the Engineer Corps press heavily upon that branch of the
service, and the public interest requires an addition to its strength.
The nature of the works in which the officers are engaged renders
necessary professional knowledge and experience, and there is no economy
in committing to them more duties than they can perform or in assigning
these to other persons temporarily employed, and too often of necessity
without all the qualifications which such service demands. I recommend
this subject to your attention, and also the proposition submitted at
the last session of Congress and now renewed, for a reorganization of
the Topographical Corps. This reorganization can be effected without any
addition to the present expenditure and with much advantage to the
public service. The branch of duties which devolves upon these officers
is at all times interesting to the community, and the information
furnished by them is useful in peace and war.

Much loss and inconvenience have been experienced in consequence of
the failure of the bill containing the ordinary appropriations for
fortifications which passed one branch of the National Legislature at
the last session, but was lost in the other. This failure was the more
regretted not only because it necessarily interrupted and delayed the
progress of a system of national defense, projected immediately after
the last war and since steadily pursued, but also because it contained
a contingent appropriation, inserted in accordance with the views
of the Executive, in aid of this important object and other branches
of the national defense, some portions of which might have been most
usefully applied during the past season. I invite your early attention
to that part of the report of the Secretary of War which relates
to this subject, and recommend an appropriation sufficiently liberal
to accelerate the armament of the fortifications agreeably to the
proposition submitted by him, and to place our whole Atlantic seaboard
in a complete state of defense. A just regard to the permanent interests
of the country evidently requires this measure, but there are also other
reasons which at the present juncture give it peculiar force and make
it my duty to call to the subject your special consideration.

The present system of military education has been in operation
sufficiently long to test its usefulness, and it has given to the
Army a valuable body of officers. It is not alone in the improvement,
discipline, and operation of the troops that these officers are
employed. They are also extensively engaged in the administrative and
fiscal concerns of the various matters confided to the War Department;
in the execution of the staff duties usually appertaining to military
organization; in the removal of the Indians and in the disbursement of
the various expenditures growing out of our Indian relations; in the
formation of roads and in the improvement of harbors and rivers; in
the construction of fortifications, in the fabrication of much of the
_materiel_ required for the public defense, and in the preservation,
distribution, and accountability of the whole, and in other
miscellaneous duties not admitting of classification.

These diversified functions embrace very heavy expenditures of public
money, and require fidelity, science, and business habits in their
execution, and a system which shall secure these qualifications is
demanded by the public interest. That this object has been in a great
measure obtained by the Military Academy is shewn by the state of the
service and by the prompt accountability which has generally followed
the necessary advances. Like all other political systems, the present
mode of military education no doubt has its imperfections, both of
principle and practice; but I trust these can be improved by rigid
inspections and by legislative scrutiny without destroying the
institution itself.

Occurrences to which we as well as all other nations are liable, both
in our internal and external relations, point to the necessity of an
efficient organization of the militia. I am again induced by the
importance of the subject to bring it to your attention. To suppress
domestic violence and to repel foreign invasion, should these calamities
overtake us, we must rely in the first instance upon the great body of
the community whose will has instituted and whose power must support
the Government. A large standing military force is not consonant to the
spirit of our institutions nor to the feelings of our countrymen, and
the lessons of former days and those also of our own times shew the
danger as well as the enormous expense of these permanent and extensive
military organizations. That just medium which avoids an inadequate
preparation on one hand and the danger and expense of a large force on
the other is what our constituents have a right to expect from their
Government. This object can be attained only by the maintenance of
a small military force and by such an organization of the physical
strength of the country as may bring this power into operation whenever
its services are required. A classification of the population offers the
most obvious means of effecting this organization. Such a division may
be made as will be just to all by transferring each at a proper period
of life from one class to another and by calling first for the services
of that class, whether for instruction or action, which from age is
qualified for the duty and may be called to perform it with least
injury to themselves or to the public. Should the danger ever become so
imminent as to require additional force, the other classes in succession
would be ready for the call. And if in addition to this organization
voluntary associations were encouraged and inducements held out for
their formation, our militia would be in a state of efficient service.
Now, when we are at peace, is the proper time to digest and establish
a practicable system. The object is certainly worth the experiment and
worth the expense. No one appreciating the blessings of a republican
government can object to his share of the burden which such a plan may
impose. Indeed, a moderate portion of the national funds could scarcely
be better applied than in carrying into effect and continuing such an
arrangement, and in giving the necessary elementary instruction. We are
happily at peace with all the world. A sincere desire to continue so and
a fixed determination to give no just cause of offense to other nations
furnish, unfortunately, no certain grounds of expectation that this
relation will be uninterrupted. With this determination to give no
offense is associated a resolution, equally decided, tamely to submit
to none. The armor and the attitude of defense afford the best security
against those collisions which the ambition, or interest, or some other
passion of nations not more justifiable is liable to produce. In many
countries it is considered unsafe to put arms into the hands of the
people and to instruct them in the elements of military knowledge. That
fear can have no place here when it is recollected that the people are
the sovereign power. Our Government was instituted and is supported by
the ballot box, not by the musket. Whatever changes await it, still
greater changes must be made in our social institutions before our
political system can yield to physical force. In every aspect,
therefore, in which I can view the subject I am impressed with the
importance of a prompt and efficient organization of the militia.

The plan of removing the aboriginal people who yet remain within the
settled portions of the United States to the country west of the
Mississippi River approaches its consummation. It was adopted on the
most mature consideration of the condition of this race, and ought to
be persisted in till the object is accomplished, and prosecuted with
as much vigor as a just regard to their circumstances will permit, and
as fast as their consent can be obtained. All preceding experiments
for the improvement of the Indians have failed. It seems now to be an
established fact that they can not live in contact with a civilized
community and prosper. Ages of fruitless endeavors have at length
brought us to a knowledge of this principle of intercommunication with
them. The past we can not recall, but the future we can provide for.
Independently of the treaty stipulations into which we have entered with
the various tribes for the usufructuary rights they have ceded to us,
no one can doubt the moral duty of the Government of the United States
to protect and if possible to preserve and perpetuate the scattered
remnants of this race which are left within our borders. In the
discharge of this duty an extensive region in the West has been assigned
for their permanent residence. It has been divided into districts and
allotted among them. Many have already removed and others are preparing
to go, and with the exception of two small bands living in Ohio and
Indiana, not exceeding 1,500 persons, and of the Cherokees, all the
tribes on the east side of the Mississippi, and extending from Lake
Michigan to Florida, have entered into engagements which will lead
to their transplantation.

The plan for their removal and reestablishment is founded upon the
knowledge we have gained of their character and habits, and has been
dictated by a spirit of enlarged liberality. A territory exceeding in
extent that relinquished has been granted to each tribe. Of its
climate, fertility, and capacity to support an Indian population the
representations are highly favorable. To these districts the Indians are
removed at the expense of the United States, and with certain supplies
of clothing, arms, ammunition, and other indispensable articles; they
are also furnished gratuitously with provisions for the period of a year
after their arrival at their new homes. In that time, from the nature
of the country and of the products raised by them, they can subsist
themselves by agricultural labor, if they choose to resort to that mode
of life; if they do not they are upon the skirts of the great prairies,
where countless herds of buffalo roam, and a short time suffices to
adapt their own habits to the changes which a change of the animals
destined for their food may require. Ample arrangements have also been
made for the support of schools; in some instances council houses and
churches are to be erected, dwellings constructed for the chiefs, and
mills for common use. Funds have been set apart for the maintenance of
the poor; the most necessary mechanical arts have been introduced, and
blacksmiths, gunsmiths, wheelwrights, millwrights, etc., are supported
among them. Steel and iron, and sometimes salt, are purchased for them,
and plows and other farming utensils, domestic animals, looms, spinning
wheels, cards, etc., are presented to them. And besides these beneficial
arrangements, annuities are in all cases paid, amounting in some
instances to more than $30 for each individual of the tribe, and in all
cases sufficiently great, if justly divided and prudently expended, to
enable them, in addition to their own exertions, to live comfortably.
And as a stimulus for exertion, it is now provided by law that "in all
cases of the appointment of interpreters or other persons employed for
the benefit of the Indians a preference shall be given to persons of
Indian descent, if such can be found who are properly qualified for the
discharge of the duties."

Such are the arrangements for the physical comfort and for the moral
improvement of the Indians. The necessary measures for their political
advancement and for their separation from our citizens have not been
neglected. The pledge of the United States has been given by Congress
that the country destined for the residence of this people shall be
forever "secured and guaranteed to them." A country west of Missouri and
Arkansas has been assigned to them, into which the white settlements
are not to be pushed. No political communities can be formed in that
extensive region, except those which are established by the Indians
themselves or by the United States for them and with their concurrence.
A barrier has thus been raised for their protection against the
encroachment of our citizens, and guarding the Indians as far as
possible from those evils which have brought them to their present
condition. Summary authority has been given by law to destroy all ardent
spirits found in their country, without waiting the doubtful result
and slow process of a legal seizure. I consider the absolute and
unconditional interdiction of this article among these people as the
first and great step in their melioration. Halfway measures will answer
no purpose. These can not successfully contend against the cupidity
of the seller and the overpowering appetite of the buyer. And the
destructive effects of the traffic are marked in every page of the
history of our Indian intercourse.

Some general legislation seems necessary for the regulation of the
relations which will exist in this new state of things between the
Government and people of the United States and these transplanted
Indian tribes, and for the establishment among the latter, and with
their own consent, of some principles of intercommunication which their
juxtaposition will call for; that moral may be substituted for physical
force, the authority of a few and simple laws for the tomahawk, and that
an end may be put to those bloody wars whose prosecution seems to have
made part of their social system.

After the further details of this arrangement are completed, with a very
general supervision over them, they ought to be left to the progress of
events. These, I indulge the hope, will secure their prosperity and
improvement, and a large portion of the moral debt we owe them will
then be paid.

The report from the Secretary of the Navy, shewing the condition of that
branch of the public service, is recommended to your special attention.
It appears from it that our naval force at present in commission,
with all the activity which can be given to it, is inadequate to the
protection of our rapidly increasing commerce. This consideration and
the more general one which regards this arm of the national defense
as our best security against foreign aggressions strongly urge the
continuance of the measures which promote its gradual enlargement and a
speedy increase of the force which has been heretofore employed abroad
and at home. You will perceive from the estimates which appear in the
report of the Secretary of the Navy that the expenditures necessary to
this increase of its force, though of considerable amount, are small
compared with the benefits which they will secure to the country.

As a means of strengthening this national arm I also recommend to your
particular attention the propriety of the suggestion which attracted the
consideration of Congress at its last session, respecting the enlistment
of boys at a suitable age in the service. In this manner a nursery of
skillful and able-bodied seamen can be established, which will be of
the greatest importance. Next to the capacity to put afloat and arm the
requisite number of ships is the possession of the means to man them
efficiently, and nothing seems better calculated to aid this object than
the measure proposed. As an auxiliary to the advantages derived from our
extensive commercial marine, it would furnish us with a resource ample
enough for all the exigencies which can be anticipated. Considering the
state of our resources, it can not be doubted that whatever provision
the liberality and wisdom of Congress may now adopt with a view to the
perfect organization of this branch of our service will meet the
approbation of all classes of our citizens.

By the report of the Postmaster-General it appears that the revenue
of the Department during the year ending on the 30th day of June last
exceeded its accruing responsibilities $236,206, and that the surplus
of the present fiscal year is estimated at $476,227. It further appears
that the debt of the Department on the 1st day of July last, including
the amount due to contractors for the quarter then just expired, was
about $1,064,381, exceeding the available means about $23,700; and that
on the 1st instant about $597,077 of this debt had been paid--$409,991
out of postages accruing before July and $187,086 out of postages
accruing since. In these payments are included $67,000 of the old debt
due to banks. After making these payments the Department had $73,000
in bank on the 1st instant. The pleasing assurance is given that the
Department is entirely free from embarrassment, and that by collection
of outstanding balances and using the current surplus the remaining
portion of the bank debt and most of the other debt will probably be
paid in April next, leaving thereafter a heavy amount to be applied in
extending the mail facilities of the country. Reserving a considerable
sum for the improvement of existing mail routes, it is stated that the
Department will be able to sustain with perfect convenience an annual
charge of $300,000 for the support of new routes, to commence as soon
as they can be established and put in operation.

The measures adopted by the Postmaster-General to bring the means of
the Department into action and to effect a speedy extinguishment of its
debt, as well as to produce an efficient administration of its affairs,
will be found detailed at length in his able and luminous report. Aided
by a reorganization on the principles suggested and such salutary
provisions in the laws regulating its administrative duties as the
wisdom of Congress may devise or approve, that important Department will
soon attain a degree of usefulness proportioned to the increase of our
population and the extension of our settlements.

Particular attention is solicited to that portion of the report of the
Postmaster-General which relates to the carriage of the mails of the
United States upon railroads constructed by private corporations under
the authority of the several States. The reliance which the General
Government can place on those roads as a means of carrying on its
operations and the principles on which the use of them is to be obtained
can not too soon be considered and settled. Already does the spirit of
monopoly begin to exhibit its natural propensities in attempts to exact
from the public, for services which it supposes can not be obtained on
other terms, the most extravagant compensation. If these claims be
persisted in, the question may arise whether a combination of citizens,
acting under charters of incorporation from the States, can, by a direct
refusal or the demand of an exorbitant price, exclude the United States
from the use of the established channels of communication between the
different sections of the country, and whether the United States can
not, without transcending their constitutional powers, secure to the
Post-Office Department the use of those roads by an act of Congress
which shall provide within itself some equitable mode of adjusting the
amount of compensation. To obviate, if possible, the necessity of
considering this question, it is suggested whether it be not expedient
to fix by law the amounts which shall be offered to railroad companies
for the conveyance of the mails, graduated according to their average
weight, to be ascertained and declared by the Postmaster-General. It
is probable that a liberal proposition of that sort would be accepted.

In connection with these provisions in relation to the Post-Office
Department, I must also invite your attention to the painful excitement
produced in the South by attempts to circulate through the mails
inflammatory appeals addressed to the passions of the slaves, in prints
and in various sorts of publications, calculated to stimulate them to
insurrection and to produce all the horrors of a servile war. There is
doubtless no respectable portion of our countrymen who can be so far
misled as to feel any other sentiment than that of indignant regret at
conduct so destructive of the harmony and peace of the country, and so
repugnant to the principles of our national compact and to the dictates
of humanity and religion. Our happiness and prosperity essentially
depend upon peace within our borders, and peace depends upon the
maintenance in good faith of those compromises of the Constitution upon
which the Union is founded. It is fortunate for the country that the
good sense, the generous feeling, and the deep-rooted attachment of
the people of the nonslaveholding States to the Union and to their
fellow-citizens of the same blood in the South have given so strong
and impressive a tone to the sentiments entertained against the
proceedings of the misguided persons who have engaged in these
unconstitutional and wicked attempts, and especially against the
emissaries from foreign parts who have dared to interfere in this
matter, as to authorize the hope that those attempts will no longer
be persisted in. But if these expressions of the public will shall
not be sufficient to effect so desirable a result, not a doubt can be
entertained that the nonslaveholding States, so far from countenancing
the slightest interference with the constitutional rights of the South,
will be prompt to exercise their authority in suppressing so far as in
them lies whatever is calculated to produce this evil.

In leaving the care of other branches of this interesting subject
to the State authorities, to whom they properly belong, it is
nevertheless proper for Congress to take such measures as will prevent
the Post-Office Department, which was designed to foster an amicable
intercourse and correspondence between all the members of the
Confederacy, from being used as an instrument of an opposite character.
The General Government, to which the great trust is confided of
preserving inviolate the relations created among the States by the
Constitution, is especially bound to avoid in its own action anything
that may disturb them. I would therefore call the special attention of
Congress to the subject, and respectfully suggest the propriety of
passing such a law as will prohibit, under severe penalties, the
circulation in the Southern States, through the mail, of incendiary
publications intended to instigate the slaves to insurrection.

I felt it to be my duty in the first message which I communicated to
Congress to urge upon its attention the propriety of amending that part
of the Constitution which provides for the election of the President and
the Vice-President of the United States. The leading object which I had
in view was the adoption of some new provisions which would secure to
the people the performance of this high duty without any intermediate
agency. In my annual communications since I have enforced the same
views, from a sincere conviction that the best interests of the country
would be promoted by their adoption. If the subject were an ordinary
one, I should have regarded the failure of Congress to act upon it as an
indication of their judgment that the disadvantages which belong to the
present system were not so great as those which would result from any
attainable substitute that had been submitted to their consideration.
Recollecting, however, that propositions to introduce a new feature in
our fundamental laws can not be too patiently examined, and ought not to
be received with favor until the great body of the people are thoroughly
impressed with their necessity and value as a remedy for real evils,
I feel that in renewing the recommendation I have heretofore made on
this subject I am not transcending the bounds of a just deference to
the sense of Congress or to the disposition of the people. However much
we may differ in the choice of the measures which should guide the
administration of the Government, there can be but little doubt in the
minds of those who are really friendly to the republican features of
our system that one of its most important securities consists in the
separation of the legislative and executive powers at the same time that
each is held responsible to the great source of authority, which is
acknowledged to be supreme, in the will of the people constitutionally
expressed. My reflection and experience satisfy me that the framers of
the Constitution, although they were anxious to mark this feature as a
settled and fixed principle in the structure of the Government, did not
adopt all the precautions that were necessary to secure its practical
observance, and that we can not be said to have carried into complete
effect their intentions until the evils which arise from this organic
defect are remedied.

Considering the great extent of our Confederacy, the rapid increase of
its population, and the diversity of their interests and pursuits, it
can not be disguised that the contingency by which one branch of the
Legislature is to form itself into an electoral college can not become
one of ordinary occurrence without producing incalculable mischief. What
was intended as the medicine of the Constitution in extreme cases can
not be frequently used without changing its character and sooner or
later producing incurable disorder.

Every election by the House of Representatives is calculated to
lessen the force of that security which is derived from the distinct and
separate character of the legislative and executive functions, and while
it exposes each to temptations adverse to their efficiency as organs
of the Constitution and laws, its tendency will be to unite both in
resisting the will of the people, and thus give a direction to the
Government antirepublican and dangerous. All history tells us that
a free people should be watchful of delegated power, and should never
acquiesce in a practice which will diminish their control over it.
This obligation, so universal in its application to all the principles
of a republic, is peculiarly so in ours, where the formation of parties
founded on sectional interests is so much fostered by the extent of
our territory. These interests, represented by candidates for the
Presidency, are constantly prone, in the zeal of party and selfish
objects, to generate influences unmindful of the general good and
forgetful of the restraints which the great body of the people would
enforce if they were in no contingency to lose the right of expressing
their will. The experience of our country from the formation of the
Government to the present day demonstrates that the people can not too
soon adopt some stronger safeguard for their right to elect the highest
officers known to the Constitution than is contained in that sacred
instrument as it now stands.

It is my duty to call the particular attention of Congress to the
present condition of the District of Columbia. From whatever cause the
great depression has arisen which now exists in the pecuniary concerns
of this District, it is proper that its situation should be fully
understood and such relief or remedies provided as are consistent with
the powers of Congress. I earnestly recommend the extension of every
political right to the citizens of this District which their true
interests require, and which does not conflict with the provisions of
the Constitution. It is believed that the laws for the government of the
District require revisal and amendment, and that much good may be done
by modifying the penal code so as to give uniformity to its provisions.

Your attention is also invited to the defects which exist in the
judicial system of the United States. As at present organized the States
of the Union derive unequal advantages from the Federal judiciary, which
have been so often pointed out that I deem it unnecessary to repeat them
here. It is hoped that the present Congress will extend to all the
States that equality in respect to the benefits of the laws of the Union
which can only be secured by the uniformity and efficiency of the
judicial system.

With these observations on the topics of general interest which are
deemed worthy of your consideration, I leave them to your care, trusting
that the legislative measures they call for will be met as the wants and
the best interests of our beloved country demand.


[Footnote 14: For communication, see pp. 202-208.]

_Mr. Livingston to the Duke de Broglie_.


_Paris, April 25, 1835_.

His Excellency the Duc de Broglie, etc.,

_Minister Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs_.

SIR: About to return to my own country, I am unwilling to leave this
without adding one more effort to the many I have heretofore made to
restore to both that mutual good understanding which their best
interests require, and which probable events may interrupt and perhaps
permanently destroy.

From the correspondence and acts of His Majesty's Government since the
message of the President of the United States was known at Paris it is
evident that an idea is entertained of making the fulfillment of the
treaty of 1831 dependent on explanations to be given of the terms used
in the message, and withholding payment of an acknowledged debt until
satisfaction be given for a supposed indecorum in demanding it. The bare
possibility that this opinion might be entertained and acted upon by His
Majesty's Government renders it incumbent on me to state explicitly what
I understand to be the sentiments of mine on this subject.

Erroneous impressions, arising from the want of a proper attention to
the structure of our Government, to the duties of its Chief Magistrate,
to the principles it has adopted and its strict adherence to them in
similar cases, might raise expectations which could never be realized
and lead to measures destructive of all harmony between the parties.
This communication is made in full confidence that it is the wish of His
Majesty's Government, as it most sincerely is that of the President, to
avoid all measures of that description; and it is hoped, therefore, that
it will be received in the spirit by which it is dictated--that of
conciliation and peace.

The form of our Government and the functions of the President as
a component part of it have in their relation to this subject been
sufficiently explained in my previous correspondence, especially in
my letter to the Comte de Rigny of the 29th of January last. I have
therefore little to add to that part of my representation which is
drawn from the form of our Government and the duties of the President
in administering it. If these are fully understood, the principles of
action derived from them can not be mistaken.

The President, as the chief executive power, must have a free and
entirely unfettered communication with the coordinate powers of
Government. As the organ of intercourse with other nations, he is
the only source from which a knowledge of our relations with them
can be conveyed to the legislative branches. It results from this
that the utmost freedom from all restraint in the details into which
he is obliged to enter of international concerns and of the measures
in relation to them is essential to the proper performance of this
important part of his functions. He must exercise them without having
continually before him the fear of offending the susceptibility of the
powers whose conduct he is obliged to notice. In the performance of this
duty he is subject to public opinion and his own sense of propriety
for an indiscreet, to his constituents for a dangerous, and to his
constitutional judges for an illegal, exercise of the power, but to no
other censure, foreign or domestic. Were any foreign powers permitted to
scan the communications of the Executive, their complaints, whether real
or affected, would involve the country in continual controversies; for
the right being acknowledged, it would be a duty to exercise it by
demanding a disavowal of every phrase they might deem offensive and an
explanation of every word to which an improper interpretation could be
given. The principle, therefore, has been adopted that no foreign power
has a right to ask for explanations of anything that the President,
in the exercise of his functions, thinks proper to communicate to
Congress, or of any course he may advise them to pursue. This rule is
not applicable to the Government of the United States alone, but, in
common with it, to all those in which the constitutional powers are
distributed into different branches. No such nation desirous of avoiding
foreign influence or foreign interference in its councils; no such
nation possessing a due sense of its dignity and independence, can long
submit to the consequences of this interference. When these are felt, as
they soon will be, all must unite in repelling it, and acknowledge that
the United States are contending in a cause common to them all, and more
important to the liberal Governments of Europe than even to themselves;
for it is too obvious to escape the slightest attention that the
Monarchies of Europe by which they are surrounded will have all the
advantage of this supervision of the domestic councils of their
neighbors without being subject to it themselves. It is true that in
the representative Governments of Europe executive communications to
legislative bodies have not the extension that is given to them in the
United States, and that they are therefore less liable to attack on that
quarter; but they must not imagine themselves safe. In the opening
address, guarded as it commonly is, every proposition made by the
ministry, every resolution of either chamber, will offer occasions for
the jealous interference of national punctilio, for all occupy the same
grounds. No intercommunication of the different branches of Government
will be safe, and even the courts of justice will afford no sanctuary
for freedom of decision and of debate, and the susceptibility of foreign
powers must be consulted in all the departments of Government. Occasions
for intervention in the affairs of other countries are but too numerous
at present, without opening another door to encroachments; and it is no
answer to the argument to say that no complaints will be made but for
reasonable cause, and that of this, the nation complained of being the
judge, no evil can ensue. But this argument concedes the right of
examining the communications in question, which is denied. Allow it and
you will have frivolous as well as grave complaints to answer, and must
not only heal the wounds of a just national pride, but apply a remedy
to those of a morbid susceptibility. To show that my fear of the
progressive nature of these encroachments is not imaginary, I pray leave
to call your excellency's attention to the inclosed report from the
Secretary of State to the President. It is offered for illustration, not
for complaint; I am instructed to make none. Because the Government of
France has taken exceptions to the President's opening message, the
charge d'affaires of France thinks it his duty to protest against a
special communication, and to point out the particular passages in a
correspondence of an American minister with his own Government to the
publication of which he objects. If the principle I contest is just,
the charge d'affaires is right. He has done his duty as a vigilant
supervisor of the President's correspondence. If the principle is
admitted, every diplomatic agent at Washington will do the same, and we
shall have twenty censors of the correspondence of the Government and of
the public press. If the principle is correct, every communication which
the President makes in relation to our foreign affairs, either to the
Congress or to the public, ought in prudence to be previously submitted
to these ministers, in order to avoid disputes and troublesome and
humiliating explanations. If the principle be submitted to, neither
dignity nor independence is left to the nation. To submit even to
a discreet exercise of such a privilege would be troublesome and
degrading, and the inevitable abuse of it could not be borne. It must
therefore be resisted at the threshold, and its entrance forbidden
into the sanctuary of domestic consultations. But whatever may be the
principles of other governments, those of the United States are fixed;
the right will never be acknowledged, and any attempt to enforce it
will be repelled by the undivided energy of the nation.

I pray your excellency to observe that my argument does not deny a right
to all foreign powers of taking proper exceptions to the governmental
acts and language of another. It is to their interference in its
consultations, in its proceedings while yet in an inchoate state, that
we object. Should the President do an official executive act affecting
a foreign power, or use exceptionable language in addressing it through
his minister or through theirs; should a law be passed injurious to the
dignity of another nation--in all these and other similar cases a demand
for explanation would be respectfully received, and answered in the
manner that justice and a regard to the dignity of the complaining
nation would require.

After stating these principles, let me add that they have not only been
theoretically adopted, but that they have been practically asserted.
On two former occasions exceptions of the same nature were taken to the
President's message by the Government of France, and in neither did
they produce any other explanation than that derived from the nature
of our Government, and this seems on those occasions to have been
deemed sufficient, for in both cases the objections were virtually
abandoned--one when Messrs. Marshall, Gerry, and Pinckney were refused
to be received, and again in the negotiation between Prince Polignac and
Mr. Rives. In the former case, although the message of the President
was alleged as the cause of the refusal to receive the ministers, yet
without any such explanation their successors were honorably accredited.
In the latter case the allusion in the message to an apprehended
collision was excepted to, but the reference made by Mr. Rives to
the constitutional duties of the President seems to have removed the

Having demonstrated that the United States can not in any case permit
their Chief Magistrate to be questioned by any foreign government in
relation to his communications with the coordinate branches of his own,
it is scarcely necessary to consider the case of such an explanation
being required as the condition on which the fulfillment of a treaty or
any pecuniary advantage was to depend. The terms of such a proposition
need only be stated to show that it would be not only inadmissible, but
rejected as offensive to the nation to which it might be addressed.
In this case it would be unnecessary as well as inadmissible. France
has already received, by the voluntary act of the President, every
explanation the nicest sense of national honor could desire. That which
could not have been given to a demand, that which can never be given
on the condition now under discussion, a fortunate succession of
circumstances, as I shall proceed to shew, has brought about. Earnestly
desirous of restoring the good understanding between the two nations,
as soon as a dissatisfaction with the President's message was shewn
I suppressed every feeling which the mode of expressing that
dissatisfaction was calculated to produce, and without waiting for
instructions I hastened on my own responsibility to make a communication
to your predecessor in office on the subject. In this, under the reserve
that the President could not be called on for an explanation, I did
in fact give one that I thought would have removed all injurious

This is the first of the fortunate circumstances to which I have
alluded--fortunate in being made before any demand implying a right to
require it; fortunate in its containing, without any knowledge of the
precise parts of the message which gave offense, answers to all that
have since come to my knowledge. I can easily conceive that the
communication of which I speak, made, as I expressly stated, without
previous authority from my Government, might not have had the effect
which its matter was intended to produce, but it has since (as I have
now the honor to inform your excellency) received from the President his
full and unqualified approbation; but it is necessary to add that this
was given before he had any intimation of an intention to attach it
as a condition to the payment of the indemnity due by the treaty, given
not only when he was ignorant of any such intent, but when he was
informed by France that she intended to execute the treaty and saw by
the law which was introduced that it was not to be fettered by any such
condition. Thus that is already done by a voluntary act which could not
have been done when required as a right, still less when made, what will
unquestionably in the United States be considered degrading, as a
condition. At this time, sir, I would for no consideration enter into
the details I then did. If I could now so far forget what under present
circumstances would be due to the dignity of my country, I should be
disavowed, and deservedly disavowed, by the President. It is happy,
therefore, I repeat, that the good feeling of my country was evinced in
the manner I have stated at the only time when it could be done with
honor; and though present circumstances would forbid my making the
communication I then did, they do not prevent my referring to it for
the purpose of shewing that it contains, as I have stated it does,
everything that ought to have been satisfactory. Actual circumstances
enable me to do this now. Future events, which I need not explain, may
hereafter render it improper, and it may be nugatory unless accepted as
satisfactory before the occurrence of those events. Let it be examined
with the care which the importance of giving it a true construction
requires. The objections to the message, as far as I can understand,
for they have never been specified, are:

First. That it impeaches the good faith of His Majesty's Government.

Secondly. That it contains a menace of enforcing the performance of the
treaty by reprisals.

On the first head, were I now discussing the terms of the message
itself, it would be easy to shew that it contains no such charge.
The allegation that the stipulations of a treaty have not been complied
with, that engagements made by ministers have not been fulfilled,
couched in respectful terms, can never be deemed offensive, even when
expressly directed to the party whose infractions are complained of, and
consequently can never give cause for a demand of explanation; otherwise
it is evident that no consideration of national injuries could ever take
place. The message, critically examined on this point, contains nothing
more than such an enumeration of the causes of complaint. As to its
terms, the most fastidious disposition can not fasten on one that could
be excepted to. The first refusal and subsequent delay are complained
of, but no unworthy motives for either are charged or insinuated. On the
whole, if I were commissioned to explain and defend this part of the
message, I should say with the conviction of truth that it is impossible
to urge a complaint in milder or more temperate terms; but I am not
so commissioned. I am endeavoring to shew not only that every proper
explanation is given in my letter to M. de Rigny of the 29th of January
last, but that in express terms it declares that the sincerity of His
Majesty's Government in their desire to execute the treaty was not
doubted. Suffer me to draw your excellency's attention to the passages
alluded to. In discussing the nature of M. Serurier's engagement I say:

"It is clear, therefore, that more was required than the expression of
a desire on the part of His Majesty's ministers to execute the treaty,
_a desire the sincerity of which was never doubted, but which might be
unavailing, as its accomplishment depended on the vote of the

Again, in speaking of the delay which occurred in the month of December,
I say:

"It is referred to, I presume, in order to shew that it was produced by
a desire on the part of His Majesty's ministers the better to assure the
passage of the law. Of this, sir, I never had a doubt, and immediately
so advised my Government, and informed it, as was the fact, that I
perfectly acquiesced in the delay."

Thus it must be evident, not only that no offensive charge of ill faith
is made in the message, but that, as is expressly stated in the first
extract, full justice was done at Washington to the intentions of the
French Government. While the delay is complained of us a wrong, no
improper motives are attributed to the Government in causing it. Again,
sir, the whole tenor of that part of my letter which relates to the
inexecution of the promise made by M. Serurier, while it asserts the
construction put upon it by the President to be the true one, and
appeals to facts and circumstances to support that construction, yet it
avoids charging the French Government with any intentional violation, by
attributing their delay to an erroneous construction only; for in the
letter (I again quote literally) I say:

"I have entered into this detail with the object of showing that
although the ministers of the King, under the interpretation they seem
to have given to M. Serurier's promise, may have considered themselves
at liberty to defer the presentation of the law until the period
which they thought would best secure its success, yet the President,
interpreting that promise differently, feeling that in consequence of it
he had forborne to do what might be strictly called a duty, and seeing
that its performance had not taken place, could not avoid stating the
whole case clearly and distinctly to Congress."

Thus, sir, the President, in stating the acts of which he thought his
country had reason to complain, does not make a single imputation of
improper motive, and to avoid all misconstruction he offers a voluntary
declaration that none such were entertained.

The part of the message which seems to have caused the greatest
sensation in France is that in which, after a statement of the causes
of complaint, it enters into a consideration of the measures to obtain
redress which in similar cases are sanctioned by the laws of nations.
The complaint seems to be that, in a discussion it was impossible to
avoid, of the efficacy and convenience of each, a preference was given
to reprisals, considered as a remedial, not as a hostile, measure,
and this has been construed into a menace. If any explanations were
necessary on this head, they are given in the message itself. It is
there expressly disavowed, and the power and high character of France
are appealed to to shew that it never could be induced by threats to do
what its sense of justice denied. If the measure to which I have more
than once alluded should be resorted to, and the humiliation attending
a compliance with it could be endured; if it were possible under such
circumstances to give an explanation, what more could be required than
that which is contained in the message itself that it was not intended
as a menace? If the measure to which I alluded should be adopted and
submitted to, what would His Majesty's Government require? The disavowal
of any intent to influence the councils of France by threats? They have
it already. It forms a part of the very instrument which caused the
offense, and I will not do them the injustice to think that they could
form the offensive idea of requiring more. The necessity of discussing
the nature of the remedies for the nonexecution of the treaty, the
character and spirit in which it was done, are explained in my letter so
often referred to, and I pray your excellency to consider the concluding
part of it, beginning with the quotation I have last made. But if I
wanted any argument to shew that no explanation of this part of the
message was necessary or could be required, I should find it in the
opinion--certainly a just one--expressed by His Majesty's ministers,
that the recommendation of the President not having been adopted by the
other branches of the Government it was not a national act, and could
not be complained of as such. Nay, in the note presented by M. Serurier
to the Government at Washington and the measures which it announces (his
recall and the offer of my passports) the Government of His Majesty seem
to have done all that they thought its dignity required, for they at
the same time declare that the law providing for the payment will be
presented, but give no intimation of any previous condition and annex
none to the bill which they present. The account of dignity being thus
declared by this demonstration to be settled, it can not be supposed
that it will again be introduced as a set-off against an acknowledged
pecuniary balance. Before I conclude my observations on this part of the
subject it will be well to inquire in what light exceptions are taken
to this part of the message, whether as a menace generally or to the
particular measure proposed. In the first view, if every measure that
a Government having claims on another declares it must pursue if those
claims are not allowed (whatever may be the terms employed) is a menace,
it is necessary, and not objectionable unless couched in offensive
language; it is a fair declaration of what course the party making it
intends to pursue, and except in cases where pretexts were wanted for
a rupture have rarely been objected to, even when avowedly the act of
the nation, not, as in this case, a proposal made by one branch of its
Government to another. Instances of this are not wanting, but need not
be here enumerated. One, however, ought to be mentioned, because it is
intimately connected with the subject now under discussion. While the
commerce of the United States was suffering under the aggressions of the
two most powerful nations of the world the American Government, in this
sense of the word, menaced them both. It passed a law in express terms
declaring to them that unless they ceased their aggressions America
would hold no intercourse with them; that their ships would be seized if
they ventured into American ports; that the productions of their soil or
industry should be forfeited. Here was an undisguised menace in clear,
unequivocal terms, and of course, according to the argument against
which I contend, neither France nor England could deliberate under its
pressure without dishonor. Yet the Emperor of France, certainly an
unexceptionable judge of what the dignity of his country required, did
deliberate, did accept the condition, did repeal the Berlin and Milan
decrees, did not make any complaint of the act as a threat, though he
called it an injury. Great Britain, too, although at that time on not
very friendly terms with the United States, made no complaint that her
pride was offended. Her minister on the spot even made a declaration
that the obnoxious orders were repealed. It is true he was disavowed,
but the disavowal was accompanied by no objections to the law as a
threat. Should the objection be to the nature of the remedy proposed,
and that the recommendation of reprisals is the offensive part, it would
be easy to show that it stands on the same ground with any other remedy;
that it is not hostile in its nature; that it has been resorted to by
France to procure redress from other powers, and by them against her,
without producing war. But such an argument is not necessary. This is
not the case of a national measure, either of menace or action; it is a
recommendation only of one branch of Government to another, and France
has itself shown that a proposal of this nature could not be noticed as
an offense. In the year 1808 the Senate of the United States annexed to
the bill of nonintercourse a section which not only advised but actually
authorized the President to issue letters of marque and reprisal against
both France and England, if the one did not repeal the Berlin and Milan
decrees and the other did not revoke the orders in council. This clause
was not acceded to by the Representatives, but it was complete as the
act of the Senate; yet neither France nor England complained of it as
an indignity. Both powers had ministers on the spot, and the dignity of
neither seems to have been offended.

If the view I have now taken of the subject be correct; if I have
succeeded in conveying to His Majesty's ministers the conviction
I myself feel that no right exists in any foreign nation to ask
explanations of or even to notice any communications between the
different branches of our Government; that to admit it even in a single
instance would be a dangerous precedent and a derogation from national
dignity, and that in the present instance an explanation that ought to
be satisfactory has been voluntarily given, I have then demonstrated
that any measure founded on such supposed right is not only
inadmissible, but is totally unnecessary, and consequently that His
Majesty's ministers may at once declare that previous explanations given
by the minister of the United States, and subsequently approved by the
President, had satisfied them on the subject of the message.

The motives of my Government during the whole course of this
controversy have been misunderstood or not properly appreciated, and the
question is daily changing its character. A negotiation entered into for
procuring compensation to individuals involved no positive obligation
on their Governments to prosecute it to extremities. A solemn treaty,
ratified by the constitutional organs of the two powers, changed the
private into a public right. The Government acquires by it a perfect
right to insist on its stipulations. All doubts as to their justice seem
now to have been removed, and every objection to the payment of a debt
acknowledged to be just will be severely scrutinized by the impartial
world. What character will be given to a refusal to pay such a debt on
the allegation, whether well or ill founded, of an offense to national
honor it does not become me to say. The French nation are the last that
would ever appreciate national honor by any number of millions it could
withhold as a compensation for an injury offered to it. The United
States, commercial as they are, are the last that would settle such an
account. The proposition I allude to would be unworthy of both, and it
is sincerely to be hoped that it will never be made.

To avoid the possibility of misapprehension, I repeat that this
communication is made with the single view of apprising His Majesty's
Government of the consequences attending a measure which without such
notice they might be inclined to pursue; that although I am not
authorized to state what measures will be taken by the United States,
yet I speak confidently of the principles they have adopted, and have
no doubt they will never be abandoned.

This is the last communication I shall have the honor to make. It is
dictated by a sincere desire to restore a good intelligence, which
seems to be endangered by the very measure intended to consolidate it.
Whatever be the result, the United States may appeal to the world to
bear witness that in the assertion of the rights of their citizens and
the dignity of their Government they have never swerved from the respect
due to themselves and from that which they owe to the Government of

I pray your excellency to receive the assurance of the high
consideration with which I have the honor to be, your most obedient


_Mr. Livingston to Mr. Forsyth_.

WASHINGTON, _June 29, 1835_.


_Secretary of State, etc._

SIR: After having by my note to the Duke de Broglie dated the 25th April
last made a final effort to preserve a good understanding between the
United States and France by suggesting such means of accommodation as
I thought were consistent with the honor of the one country to offer and
of the other to accept, I determined to avail myself of the leave to
return which was given by your dispatch, No,--, rather than to remain,
as I had desired to do, in England waiting the result of my last
communication. This step having been approved by the President, I need
not here refer to the reasons which induced me to take it. Having
received my passports, I left Paris on the 29th of April. At the time
of my departure the note, of which a copy has been transmitted to you,
asking an explanation of the terms used in Mr. Serurier's communication

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