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

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clouds should be thrown over it, more especially by excesses on the
part of our own citizens.

While our population is advancing with a celerity which exceeds the most
sanguine calculations; while every part of the United States displays
indications of rapid and various improvement; while we are in the
enjoyment of protection and security by mild and wholesome laws,
administered by governments founded on the genuine principles of
rational liberty, a secure foundation will be laid for accelerating,
maturing, and establishing the prosperity of our country if, by treaty
and amicable negotiation, all those causes of external discord which
heretofore menaced our tranquillity shall be extinguished on terms
compatible with our national rights and honor and with our Constitution
and great commercial interests.

Among the various circumstances in our internal situation none can be
viewed with more satisfaction and exultation than that the late scene of
disorder and insurrection has been completely restored to the enjoyment
of order and repose. Such a triumph of reason and of law is worthy of
the free Government under which it happened, and was justly to be hoped
from the enlightened and patriotic spirit which pervades and actuates
the people of the United States.

In contemplating that spectacle of national happiness which our
country exhibits, and of which you, sir, have been pleased to make an
interesting summary, permit us to acknowledge and declare the very great
share which your zealous and faithful services have contributed to it,
and to express the affectionate attachment which we feel for your

The several interesting subjects which you recommend to our
consideration will receive every degree of attention which is due
to them; and whilst we feel the obligation of temperance and mutual
indulgence in all our discussions, we trust and pray that the result
to the happiness and welfare of our country may correspond with the
pure affection we bear to it.

DECEMBER 16, 1795.


GENTLEMEN: Coming as you do from all parts of the United States,
I receive great satisfaction from the concurrence of your testimony
in the justness of the interesting summary of our national happiness
which, as the result of my inquiries, I presented to your view. The
sentiments we have mutually expressed of profound gratitude to the
source of those numerous blessings, the Author of all Good, are pledges
of our obligations to unite our sincere and zealous endeavors, as the
instruments of Divine Providence, to preserve and perpetuate them.

Accept, gentlemen, my thanks for your declaration that to my agency you
ascribe the enjoyment of a great share of these benefits. So far as my
services contribute to the happiness of my country, the acknowledgment
thereof by my fellow-citizens and their affectionate attachment will
ever prove an abundant reward.


DECEMBER 17, 1795.


UNITED STATES, _December 9, 1795_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate_:

I lay before you, for your consideration, a treaty of peace which has
been negotiated by General Wayne, on behalf of the United States, with
all the late hostile tribes of Indians northwest of the river Ohio,
together with the instructions which were given to General Wayne and
the proceedings at the place of treaty.


UNITED STATES, _December 21, 1795_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate_:

Herewith I transmit, for your information and consideration, the
original letter from the Emperor of Morocco, recognizing the treaty of
peace and friendship between the United States and his father, the late
Emperor, accompanied with a translation thereof, and various documents
relating to the negotiation by which the recognition was effected.


UNITED STATES, _January 4, 1796_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate and of the House of Representatives_:

A letter from the minister plenipotentiary of the French Republic,
received on the 22d of the last month, covered an address, dated the
21st of October, 1794, from the committee of public safety to the
Representatives of the United States in Congress, and also informed me
that he was instructed by the committee to present to the United States
the colors of France. I thereupon proposed to receive them last Friday,
the first day of the new year, a day of general joy and congratulation.
On that day the minister of the French Republic delivered the colors,
with an address, to which I returned an answer. By the latter Congress
will see that I have informed the minister that the colors will be
deposited with the archives of the United States. But it seemed to
me proper previously to exhibit to the two Houses of Congress these
evidences of the continued friendship of the French Republic, together
with the sentiments expressed by me on the occasion in behalf of the
United States. They are herewith communicated.


UNITED STATES, _January 8, 1796_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate and of the House of Representatives_:

I transmit to you a memorial of the commissioners appointed by virtue
of an act entitled "An act for establishing the temporary and permanent
seat of the Government of the United States," on the subject of the
public buildings under their direction.

Since locating a district for the permanent seat of the Government of
the United States, as heretofore announced to both Houses of Congress,
I have accepted the grants of money and of land stated in the memorial
of the commissioners. I have directed the buildings therein mentioned
to be commenced on plans which I deemed consistent with the liberality
of the grants and proper for the purposes intended.

I have not been inattentive to this important business intrusted by the
Legislature to my care. I have viewed the resources placed in my hands,
and observed the manner in which they have been applied. The progress is
pretty fully detailed in the memorial from the commissioners, and one
of them attends to give further information if required. In a case new
and arduous, like the present, difficulties might naturally be expected.
Some have occurred, but they are in a great degree surmounted, and I
have no doubt, if the remaining resources are properly cherished, so
as to prevent the loss of property by hasty and numerous sales, that all
the buildings required for the accommodation of the Government of the
United States may be completed in season without aid from the Federal
Treasury. The subject is therefore recommended to the consideration of
Congress, and the result will determine the measures which I shall cause
to be pursued with respect to the property remaining unsold.


UNITED STATES, _January 29, 1796_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate and of the House of Representatives_:

I send herewith for the information of Congress:

First. An act of the legislature of the State of Rhode Island, ratifying
an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to prevent suits
in certain cases against a State.

Second. An act of the State of North Carolina making the like

Third. An act of the State of North Carolina, assenting to the purchase
by the United States of a sufficient quantity of land on Shell Castle
Island for the purpose of erecting a beacon thereon, and ceding the
jurisdiction thereof to the United States.

Fourth. A copy from the journal of proceedings of the governor in his
executive department of the territory of the United States northwest
of the river Ohio from July 1 to December 31, 1794.

Fifth. A copy from the records of the executive proceedings of the same
governor from January 1 to June 30, 1795; and

Sixth and seventh. A copy of the journal of the proceedings of the
governor in his executive department of the territory of the United
States south of the river Ohio from September 1, 1794, to September
1, 1795.

Eighth. The acts of the first and second sessions of the general
assembly of the same territory.


UNITED STATES, _January 29, 1796_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate and of the House of Representatives_:

In pursuance of the authority vested in the President of the United
States by an act of Congress passed the 3d of March last, to reduce the
weights of the copper coin of the United States whenever he should think
it for the benefit of the United States, provided that the reduction
should not exceed 2 pennyweights in each cent, and in the like
proportion in a half cent, I have caused the same to be reduced since
the 27th of last December, to wit, 1 pennyweight and 16 grains in each
cent, and in the like proportion in a half cent; and I have given notice
thereof by proclamation.

By the letter of the judges of the circuit court of the United States,
held at Boston in June last, and the inclosed application of the
underkeeper of the jail at that place, of which copies are herewith
transmitted, Congress will perceive the necessity of making a suitable
provision for the maintenance of prisoners committed to the jails of
the several States under the authority of the United States.


UNITED STATES, _February 2, 1796_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate and of the House of Representatives_:

I transmit herewith the copy of a letter, dated the 19th of December
last, from Governor Blount to the Secretary of War, stating the avowed
and daring designs of certain persons to take possession of the lands
belonging to the Cherokees, and which the United States have by treaty
solemnly guaranteed to that nation. The injustice of such intrusions and
the mischievous consequences which must necessarily result therefrom
demand that effectual provision be made to prevent them.


UNITED STATES, _February 15, 1796_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate_:

Herewith I transmit, for your consideration and advice, a treaty of
peace and amity, concluded on the 5th day of last September by Joseph
Donaldson, Jr., on the part of the United States, with the Dey of
Algiers, for himself, his Divan, and his subjects.

The instructions and other necessary papers relative to this negotiation
are also sent herewith, for the information of the Senate.


UNITED STATES, _February 26, 1796_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate_:

I send herewith the treaty concluded on the 27th of October last between
the United States and Spain by their respective plenipotentiaries.

The communications to the Senate referred to in my message of the 16th
of December, 1793, contain the instructions to the commissioners of
the United States, Messrs. Carmichael and Short, and various details
relative to the negotiations with Spain. Herewith I transmit copies of
the documents authorizing Mr. Pinckney, the envoy extraordinary from
the United States to the Court of Spain, to conclude the negotiation
agreeably to the original instructions above mentioned, and to adjust
the claims of the United States for the spoliations committed by the
armed vessels of His Catholic Majesty on the commerce of our citizens.

The numerous papers exhibiting the progress of the negotiation under the
conduct of Mr. Pinckney, being in the French and Spanish languages, will
be communicated to the Senate as soon as the translations which appear
necessary shall be completed.


UNITED STATES, _March 1, 1796_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate and of the House of Representatives_:

The treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation concluded between the
United States of America and His Britannic Majesty having been duly
ratified, and the ratifications having been exchanged at London on the
28th day of October, 1795, I have directed the same to be promulgated,
and herewith transmit a copy thereof for the information of Congress.


UNITED STATES, _March 8, 1796_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate and of the House of Representatives_:

I send herewith, for the information of Congress, the treaty concluded
between the United States and the Dey and Regency of Algiers.


UNITED STATES, _March 15, 1796_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate and of the House of Representatives_:

By the ninth section of the act entitled "An act to provide a naval
armament" it is enacted "that if a peace shall take place between the
United States and the Regency of Algiers, that no further proceedings
be had under this act."

The peace which is here contemplated having taken place, it is incumbent
upon the Executive to suspend all orders respecting the building of the
frigates, procuring materials for them, or preparing materials already
obtained, which may be done without intrenching upon contracts or
agreements made and entered into before this event.

But inasmuch as the loss which the public would incur might be
considerable from dissipation of workmen, from certain works or
operations being suddenly dropped or left unfinished, and from the
derangement in the whole system consequent upon an immediate suspension
of all proceedings under it, I have therefore thought advisable, before
taking such a step, to submit the subject to the Senate and House of
Representatives, that such measures may be adopted in the premises
as may best comport with the public interest.


UNITED STATES, _March 25, 1796_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate and of the House of Representatives_:

I send herewith, for your information, the translation of a letter from
the minister plenipotentiary of the French Republic to the Secretary of
State, announcing the peace made by the Republic with the Kings of
Prussia and Spain, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, and the Landgrave of Hesse
Cassel, and that the republican constitution decreed by the National
Convention had been accepted by the people of France and was in
operation. I also send you a copy of the answer given by my direction to
this communication from the French minister. My sentiments therein
expressed I am persuaded will harmonize with yours and with those of all
my fellow-citizens.


UNITED STATES, _March 29, 1796_.

_Gentlemen of the House of Representatives_:

I send herewith a copy of the treaty of friendship, limits, and
navigation, concluded on the 27th of October last, between the United
States and His Catholic Majesty. This treaty has been ratified by me
agreeably to the Constitution, and the ratification has been dispatched
for Spain, where it will doubtless be immediately ratified by His
Catholic Majesty.

This early communication of the treaty with Spain has become necessary
because it is stipulated in the third article that commissioners for
running the boundary line between the territory of the United States and
the Spanish colonies of East and West Florida shall meet at the Natchez
before the expiration of six months from the ratification; and as that
period will undoubtedly arrive before the next meeting of Congress,
the House will see the necessity of making provision in their present
session for the object here mentioned. It will also be necessary to
provide for the expense to be incurred in executing the twenty-first
article of the treaty, to enable our fellow-citizens to obtain with as
little delay as possible compensation for the losses they have sustained
by the capture of their vessels and cargoes by the subjects of His
Catholic Majesty during the late war between France and Spain.

Estimates of the moneys necessary to be provided for the purposes of
this and several other treaties with foreign nations and the Indian
tribes will be laid before you by the proper Department.


UNITED STATES, _March 30, 1796_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

With the utmost attention I have considered your resolution of the
24th instant, requesting me to lay before your House a copy of the
instructions to the minister of the United States who negotiated the
treaty with the King of Great Britain, together with the correspondence
and other documents relative to that treaty, excepting such of the said
papers as any existing negotiation may render improper to be disclosed.

In deliberating upon this subject it was impossible for me to lose sight
of the principle which some have avowed in its discussion, or to avoid
extending my views to the consequences which must flow from the
admission of that principle.

I trust that no part of my conduct has ever indicated a disposition to
withhold any information which the Constitution has enjoined upon the
President as a duty to give, or which could be required of him by either
House of Congress as a right; and with truth I affirm that it has been,
as it will continue to be while I have the honor to preside in the
Government, my constant endeavor to harmonize with the other branches
thereof so far as the trust delegated to me by the people of the United
States and my sense of the obligation it imposes to "preserve, protect,
and defend the Constitution" will permit.

The nature of foreign negotiations requires caution, and their success
must often depend on secrecy; and even when brought to a conclusion a
full disclosure of all the measures, demands, or eventual concessions
which may have been proposed or contemplated would be extremely
impolitic; for this might have a pernicious influence on future
negotiations, or produce immediate inconveniences, perhaps danger and
mischief, in relation to other powers. The necessity of such caution and
secrecy was one cogent reason for vesting the power of making treaties
in the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate, the
principle on which that body was formed confining it to a small number
of members. To admit, then, a right in the House of Representatives
to demand and to have as a matter of course all the papers respecting
a negotiation with a foreign power would be to establish a dangerous

It does not occur that the inspection of the papers asked for can
be relative to any purpose under the cognizance of the House of
Representatives, except that of an impeachment, which the resolution
has not expressed. I repeat that I have no disposition to withhold any
information which the duty of my station will permit or the public good
shall require to be disclosed; and, in fact, all the papers affecting
the negotiation with Great Britain were, laid before the Senate when
the treaty itself was communicated for their consideration and advice.

The course which the debate has taken on the resolution of the House
leads to some observations on the mode of making treaties under the
Constitution of the United States.

Having been a member of the General Convention, and knowing the
principles on which the Constitution was formed, I have ever entertained
but one opinion on this subject; and from the first establishment of the
Government to this moment my conduct has exemplified that opinion--that
the power of making treaties is exclusively vested in the President,
by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, provided two-thirds
of the Senators present concur; and that every treaty so made and
promulgated thenceforward became the law of the land. It is thus that
the treaty-making power has been understood by foreign nations, and
in all the treaties made with them _we_ have declared and _they_ have
believed that, when ratified by the President, with the advice and
consent of the Senate, they became obligatory. In this construction
of the Constitution every House of Representatives has heretofore
acquiesced, and until the present time not a doubt or suspicion has
appeared, to my knowledge, that this construction was not the true one.
Nay, they have more than acquiesced; for till now, without controverting
the obligation of such treaties, they have made all the requisite
provisions for carrying them into effect.

There is also reason to believe that this construction agrees with
the opinions entertained by the State conventions when they were
deliberating on the Constitution, especially by those who objected to it
because there was not required in _commercial treaties_ the consent of
two-thirds of the whole number of the members of the Senate instead of
two-thirds of the Senators present, and because in treaties respecting
territorial and certain other rights and claims the concurrence of
three-fourths of the whole number of the members of both Houses,
respectively, was not made necessary.

It is a fact declared by the General Convention and universally
understood that the Constitution of the United States was the result
of a spirit of amity and mutual concession; and it is well known
that under this influence the smaller States were admitted to an equal
representation in the Senate with the larger States, and that this
branch of the Government was invested with great powers, for on the
equal participation of those powers the sovereignty and political
safety of the smaller States were deemed essentially to depend.

If other proofs than these and the plain letter of the Constitution
itself be necessary to ascertain the point under consideration, they
may be found in the journals of the General Convention, which I have
deposited in the office of the Department of State. In those journals
it will appear that a proposition was made "that no treaty should be
binding on the United States which was not ratified by a law," and
that the proposition was explicitly rejected.

As, therefore, it is perfectly clear to my understanding that the assent
of the House of Representatives is not necessary to the validity of a
treaty; as the treaty with Great Britain exhibits in itself all the
objects requiring legislative provision, and on these the papers called
for can throw no light, and as it is essential to the due administration
of the Government that the boundaries fixed by the Constitution between
the different departments should be preserved, a just regard to the
Constitution and to the duty of my office, under all the circumstances
of this case, forbids a compliance with your request.


UNITED STATES, _March 31, 1776_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate_:

The treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation between the United States
and Great Britain requiring that commissioners should be appointed
to fix certain boundaries between the territories of the contracting
parties, and to ascertain the losses and damages represented to have
been sustained by their respective citizens and subjects, as set forth
in the fifth, sixth, and seventh articles of the treaty, in order to
carry those articles into execution I nominate as commissioners on
the part of the United States:

For the purpose mentioned in the fifth article, Henry Knox, of

For the purpose mentioned in the sixth article, Thomas Fitzsimons,
of Pennsylvania, and James Innes, of Virginia; and

For the purposes mentioned in the seventh article, Christopher Gore,
of Massachusetts, and William Pinckney, of Maryland.


UNITED STATES, _April 8, 1796_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate and of the House of Representatives_:

By an act of Congress passed on the 26th of May, 1790, it was declared
that the inhabitants of the territory of the United States south of the
river Ohio should enjoy all the privileges, benefits, and advantages set
forth in the ordinance of Congress for the government of the territory
of the United States northwest of the river Ohio, and that the
government of the said territory south of the Ohio should be similar to
that which was then exercised in the territory northwest of the Ohio,
except so far as was otherwise provided in the conditions expressed in
an act of Congress passed the 2d of April, 1790, entitled "An act to
accept a cession of the claims of the State of North Carolina to a
certain district of western territory."

Among the privileges, benefits, and advantages thus secured to the
inhabitants of the territory south of the river Ohio appear to be the
right of forming a permanent constitution and State government, and of
admission as a State, by its Delegates, into the Congress of the United
States, on an equal footing with the original States in all respects
whatever, when it should have therein 60,000 free inhabitants; provided
the constitution and government so to be formed should be republican,
and in conformity to the principles contained in the articles of the
said ordinance.

As proofs of the several requisites to entitle the territory south of
the river Ohio to be admitted as a State into the Union, Governor Blount
has transmitted a return of the enumeration of its inhabitants and a
printed copy of the constitution and form of government on which they
have agreed, which, with his letters accompanying the same, are herewith
laid before Congress.


UNITED STATES, _April 28, 1796_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate and of the House of Representatives_:

Herewith I lay before you a letter from the Attorney-General of the
United States, relative to compensation to the attorneys of the United
States in the several districts, which is recommended to your


UNITED STATES, _May 2, 1796_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate_:

Some time last year Jeremiah Wadsworth was authorized to hold a treaty
with the Cohnawaga Indians, styling themselves the Seven Nations of
Canada, to enable the State of New York to extinguish, by purchase, a
claim which the said Indians had set up to a parcel of land lying within
that State. The negotiation having issued without effecting its object,
and the State of New York having requested a renewal of the negotiation,
and the Indians having come forward with an application on the same
subject, I now nominate Jeremiah Wadsworth to be a commissioner to
hold a treaty with the Cohnawaga Indians, styling themselves the Seven
Nations of Canada, for the purpose of enabling the State of New York
to extinguish the aforesaid claim.


UNITED STATES, _May 5, 1796_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate_:

I lay before you, for your consideration and advice, an explanatory
article proposed to be added to the treaty of amity, commerce, and
navigation between the United States and Great Britain, together with a
copy of the full power to the Secretary of State to negotiate the same.


UNITED STATES, _May 25, 1796_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate and of the House of Representatives_:

The measures now in operation for taking possession of the posts of
Detroit and Michilimackinac render it proper that provision should be
made for extending to these places and any others alike circumstanced
the civil authority of the Northwestern Territory. To do this will
require an expense to defray which the ordinary salaries of the governor
and secretary of that Territory appear to be incompetent.

The forming of a new county, or new counties, and the appointment of the
various officers, which the just exercise of government must require,
will oblige the governor and secretary to visit those places, and to
spend considerable time in making the arrangements necessary for
introducing and establishing the Government of the United States.
Congress will consider what provision will in this case be proper.


UNITED STATES, _May 28, 1796_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate and of the House of Representatives_:

The extraordinary expenses to be incurred in the present year in
supporting our foreign intercourse I find will require a provision
beyond the ordinary appropriation and the additional $20,000 already

I have directed an estimate to be made, which is sent herewith, and
will exhibit the deficiency for which an appropriation appears to be



UNITED STATES, _December 7, 1796_.

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

In recurring to the internal situation of our country since I had
last the pleasure to address you, I find ample reason for a renewed
expression of that gratitude to the Ruler of the Universe which a
continued series of prosperity has so often and so justly called forth.

The acts of the last session which required special arrangements have
been as far as circumstances would admit carried into operation.

Measures calculated to insure a continuance of the friendship of the
Indians and to preserve peace along the extent of our interior frontier
have been digested and adopted. In the framing of these care has been
taken to guard on the one hand our advanced settlements from the
predatory incursions of those unruly individuals who can not be
restrained by their tribes, and on the other hand to protect the rights
secured to the Indians by treaty--to draw them nearer to the civilized
state and inspire them with correct conceptions of the power as well
as justice of the Government.

The meeting of the deputies from the Creek Nation at Colerain, in the
State of Georgia, which had for a principal object the purchase of
a parcel of their land by that State, broke up without its being
accomplished, the nation having previous to their departure instructed
them against making any sale. The occasion, however, has been improved
to confirm by a new treaty with the Creeks their preexisting engagements
with the United States, and to obtain their consent to the establishment
of trading houses and military posts within their boundary, by means of
which their friendship and the general peace may be more effectually

The period during the late session at which the appropriation was passed
for carrying into effect the treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation
between the United States and His Britannic Majesty necessarily
procrastinated the reception of the posts stipulated to be delivered
beyond the date assigned for that event. As soon, however, as the
Governor-General of Canada could be addressed with propriety on the
subject, arrangements were cordially and promptly concluded for their
evacuation, and the United States took possession of the principal of
them, comprehending Oswego, Niagara, Detroit, Michilimackinac, and Fort
Miami, where such repairs and additions have been ordered to be made as
appeared indispensable.

The commissioners appointed on the part of the United States and of
Great Britain to determine which is the river St. Croix mentioned in the
treaty of peace of 1783, agreed in the choice of Egbert Benson, esq., of
New York, for the third commissioner. The whole met at St. Andrews, in
Passamaquoddy Bay, in the beginning of October, and directed surveys to
be made of the rivers in dispute; but deeming it impracticable to have
these surveys completed before the next year, they adjourned to meet
at Boston in August, 1797, for the final decision of the question.

Other commissioners appointed on the part of the United States,
agreeably to the seventh article of the treaty with Great Britain,
relative to captures and condemnation of vessels and other property,
met the commissioners of His Britannic Majesty in London in August last,
when John Trumbull, esq., was chosen by lot for the fifth commissioner.
In October following the board were to proceed to business. As yet there
has been no communication of commissioners on the part of Great Britain
to unite with those who have been appointed on the part of the United
States for carrying into effect the sixth article of the treaty.

The treaty with Spain required that the commissioners for running
the boundary line between the territory of the United States and His
Catholic Majesty's provinces of East and West Florida should meet at the
Natchez before the expiration of six months after the exchange of the
ratifications, which was effected at Aranjuez on the 25th day of April;
and the troops of His Catholic Majesty occupying any posts within the
limits of the United States were within the same period to be withdrawn.
The commissioner of the United States therefore commenced his journey
for the Natchez in September, and troops were ordered to occupy the
posts from which the Spanish garrisons should be withdrawn. Information
has been recently received of the appointment of a commissioner on the
part of His Catholic Majesty for running the boundary line, but none of
any appointment for the adjustment of the claims of our citizens whose
vessels were captured by the armed vessels of Spain.

In pursuance of the act of Congress passed in the last session for the
protection and relief of American seamen, agents were appointed, one to
reside in Great Britain and the other in the West Indies. The effects of
the agency in the West Indies are not yet fully ascertained, but those
which have been communicated afford grounds to believe the measure will
be beneficial. The agent destined to reside in Great Britain declining
to accept the appointment, the business has consequently devolved on the
minister of the United States in London, and will command his attention
until a new agent shall be appointed.

After many delays and disappointments arising out of the European war,
the final arrangements for fulfilling the engagements made to the Dey
and Regency of Algiers will in all present appearance be crowned with
success, but under great, though inevitable, disadvantages in the
pecuniary transactions occasioned by that war, which will render further
provision necessary. The actual liberation of all our citizens who were
prisoners in Algiers, while it gratifies every feeling heart, is itself
an earnest of a satisfactory termination of the whole negotiation.
Measures are in operation for effecting treaties with the Regencies
of Tunis and Tripoli.

To an active external commerce the protection of a naval force is
indispensable. This is manifest with regard to wars in which a State
is itself a party. But besides this, it is in our own experience that
the most sincere neutrality is not a sufficient guard against the
depredations of nations at war. To secure respect to a neutral flag
requires a naval force organized and ready to vindicate it from insult
or aggression. This may even prevent the necessity of going to war by
discouraging belligerent powers from committing such violations of
the rights of the neutral party as may, first or last, leave no other
option. From the best information I have been able to obtain it would
seem as if our trade to the Mediterranean without a protecting force
will always be insecure and our citizens exposed to the calamities
from which numbers of them have but just been relieved.

These considerations invite the United States to look to the means, and
to set about the gradual creation of a navy. The increasing progress of
their navigation promises them at no distant period the requisite supply
of seamen, and their means in other respects favor the undertaking. It
is an encouragement, likewise, that their particular situation will give
weight and influence to a moderate naval force in their hands. Will it
not, then, be advisable to begin without delay to provide and lay up the
materials for the building and equipping of ships of war, and to proceed
in the work by degrees, in proportion as our resources shall render it
practicable without inconvenience, so that a future war of Europe may
not find our commerce in the same unprotected state in which it was
found by the present?

Congress have repeatedly, and not without success, directed their
attention to the encouragement of manufactures. The object is of too
much consequence not to insure a continuance of their efforts in every
way which shall appear eligible. As a general rule, manufactures on
public account are inexpedient; but where the state of things in a
country leaves little hope that certain branches of manufacture will for
a great length of time obtain, when these are of a nature essential to
the furnishing and equipping of the public force in time of war, are
not establishments for procuring them on public account to the extent
of the ordinary demand for the public service recommended by strong
considerations of national policy as an exception to the general
rule? Ought our country to remain in such cases dependent on foreign
supply, precarious because liable to be interrupted? If the necessary
article should in this mode cost more in time of peace, will not the
security and independence thence arising form an ample compensation?
Establishments of this sort, commensurate only with the calls of the
public service in time of peace, will in time of war easily be extended
in proportion to the exigencies of the Government, and may even perhaps
be made to yield a surplus for the supply of our citizens at large, so
as to mitigate the privations from the interruption of their trade. If
adopted, the plan ought to exclude all those branches which are already,
or likely soon to be, established in the country, in order that there
may be no danger of interference with pursuits of individual industry.

It will not be doubted that with reference either to individual or
national welfare agriculture is of primary importance. In proportion as
nations advance in population and other circumstances of maturity this
truth becomes more apparent, and renders the cultivation of the soil
more and more an object of public patronage. Institutions for promoting
it grow up, supported by the public purse; and to what object can it
be dedicated with greater propriety? Among the means which have been
employed to this end none have been attended with greater success than
the establishment of boards (composed of proper characters) charged
with collecting and diffusing information, and enabled by premiums and
small pecuniary aids to encourage and assist a spirit of discovery and
improvement. This species of establishment contributes doubly to the
increase of improvement by stimulating to enterprise and experiment,
and by drawing to a common center the results everywhere of individual
skill and observation, and spreading them thence over the whole nation.
Experience accordingly has shewn that they are very cheap instruments
of immense national benefits.

I have heretofore proposed to the consideration of Congress the
expediency of establishing a national university and also a military
academy. The desirableness of both these institutions has so constantly
increased with every new view I have taken of the subject that I can not
omit the opportunity of once for all recalling your attention to them.

The assembly to which I address myself is too enlightened not to be
fully sensible how much a flourishing state of the arts and sciences
contributes to national prosperity and reputation.

True it is that our country, much to its honor, contains many seminaries
of learning highly respectable and useful; but the funds upon which they
rest are too narrow to command the ablest professors in the different
departments of liberal knowledge for the institution contemplated,
though they would be excellent auxiliaries.

Amongst the motives to such an institution, the assimilation of the
principles, opinions, and manners of our countrymen by the common
education of a portion of our youth from every quarter well deserves
attention. The more homogeneous our citizens can be made in these
particulars the greater will be our prospect of permanent union; and a
primary object of such a national institution should be the education of
our youth in the science of _government_. In a republic what species of
knowledge can be equally important and what duty more pressing on its
legislature than to patronize a plan for communicating it to those who
are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?

The institution of a military academy is also recommended by cogent
reasons. However pacific the general policy of a nation may be, it
ought never to be without an adequate stock of military knowledge for
emergencies. The first would impair the energy of its character, and
both would hazard its safety or expose it to greater evils when war
could not be avoided; besides that, war might often not depend upon
its own choice. In proportion as the observance of pacific maxims might
exempt a nation from the necessity of practicing the rules of the
military art ought to be its care in preserving and transmitting, by
proper establishments, the knowledge of that art. Whatever argument
may be drawn from particular examples superficially viewed, a thorough
examination of the subject will evince that the art of war is at once
comprehensive and complicated, that it demands much previous study, and
that the possession of it in its most improved and perfect state is
always of great moment to the security of a nation. This, therefore,
ought to be a serious care of every government, and for this purpose
an academy where a regular course of instruction is given is an obvious
expedient which different nations have successfully employed.

The compensations to the officers of the United States in various
instances, and in none more than in respect to the most important
stations, appear to call for legislative revision. The consequences of a
defective provision are of serious import to the Government. If private
wealth is to supply the defect of public retribution, it will greatly
contract the sphere within which the selection of character for office
is to be made, and will proportionally diminish the probability of
a choice of men able as well as upright. Besides that, it would be
repugnant to the vital principles of our Government virtually to exclude
from public trusts talents and virtue unless accompanied by wealth.

While in our external relations some serious inconveniences and
embarrassments have been overcome and others lessened, it is with much
pain and deep regret I mention that circumstances of a very unwelcome
nature have lately occurred. Our trade has suffered and is suffering
extensive injuries in the West Indies from the cruisers and agents of
the French Republic, and communications have been received from its
minister here which indicate the danger of a further disturbance of our
commerce by its authority, and which are in other respects far from

It has been my constant, sincere, and earnest wish, in conformity with
that of our nation, to maintain cordial harmony and a perfectly friendly
understanding with that Republic. This wish remains unabated, and I
shall persevere in the endeavor to fulfill it to the utmost extent of
what shall be consistent with a just and indispensable regard to the
rights and honor of our country; nor will I easily cease to cherish the
expectation that a spirit of justice, candor, and friendship on the part
of the Republic will eventually insure success.

In pursuing this course, however, I can not forget what is due to
the character of our Government and nation, or to a full and entire
confidence in the good sense, patriotism, self-respect, and fortitude
of my countrymen.

I reserve for a special message a more particular communication on this
interesting subject.

_Gentlemen of the House of Representatives_:

I have directed an estimate of the appropriations necessary for the
service of the ensuing year to be submitted from the proper Department,
with a view of the public receipts and expenditures to the latest period
to which an account can be prepared.

It is with satisfaction I am able to inform you that the revenues of the
United States continue in a state of progressive improvement.

A reenforcement of the existing provisions for discharging our public
debt was mentioned in my address at the opening of the last session.
Some preliminary steps were taken toward it, the maturing of which will
no doubt engage your zealous attention during the present. I will only
add that it will afford me a heartfelt satisfaction to concur in such
further measures as will ascertain to our country the prospect of a
speedy extinguishment of the debt. Posterity may have cause to regret
if from any motive intervals of tranquillity are left unimproved for
accelerating this valuable end.

_Gentlemen of the Senate and of the House of Representatives_:

My solicitude to see the militia of the United States placed on an
efficient establishment has been so often and so ardently expressed
that I shall but barely recall the subject to your view on the present
occasion, at the same time that I shall submit to your inquiry whether
our harbors are yet sufficiently secured.

The situation in which I now stand for the last time, in the midst
of the representatives of the people of the United States, naturally
recalls the period when the administration of the present form of
government commenced, and I can not omit the occasion to congratulate
you and my country on the success of the experiment, nor to repeat my
fervent supplications to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe and Sovereign
Arbiter of Nations that His providential care may still be extended to
the United States, that the virtue and happiness of the people may be
preserved, and that the Government which they have instituted for the
protection of their liberties may be perpetual,



We thank you, sir, for your faithful and detailed exposure of the
existing situation of our country, and we sincerely join in sentiments
of gratitude to an overruling Providence for the distinguished share of
public prosperity and private happiness which the people of the United
States so peculiarly enjoy.

We are fully sensible of the advantages that have resulted from the
adoption of measures (which you have successfully carried into effect)
to preserve peace, cultivate friendship, and promote civilization
amongst the Indian tribes on the Western frontiers. Feelings of humanity
and the most solid political interests equally encourage the continuance
of this system.

We observe with pleasure that the delivery of the military posts lately
occupied by the British forces within the territory of the United States
was made with cordiality and promptitude as soon as circumstances would
admit, and that the other provisions of our treaties with Great Britain
and Spain that were objects of eventual arrangement are about being
carried into effect with entire harmony and good faith.

The unfortunate but unavoidable difficulties that opposed a timely
compliance with the terms of the Algerine treaty are much to be
lamented, as they may occasion a temporary suspension of the advantages
to be derived from a solid peace with that power and a perfect security
from its predatory warfare. At the same time, the lively impressions
that affected the public mind on the redemption of our captive
fellow-citizens afford the most laudable incentive to our exertions
to remove the remaining obstacles.

We perfectly coincide with you in opinion that the importance of our
commerce demands a naval force for its protection against foreign insult
and depredation, and our solicitude to attain that object will be always
proportionate to its magnitude.

The necessity of accelerating the establishment of certain useful
manufactures by the intervention of legislative aid and protection and
the encouragement due to agriculture by the creation of boards (composed
of intelligent individuals) to patronize this primary pursuit of society
are subjects which will readily engage our most serious attention.

A national university may be converted to the most useful purposes. The
science of legislation being so essentially dependent on the endowments
of the mind, the public interests must receive effectual aid from the
general diffusion of knowledge, and the United States will assume a
more dignified station among the nations of the earth by the successful
cultivation of the higher branches of literature.

A military academy may be likewise rendered equally important. To aid
and direct the physical force of the nation by cherishing a military
spirit, enforcing a proper sense of discipline, and inculcating a
scientific system of tactics is consonant to the soundest maxims of
public policy. Connected with and supported by such an establishment
a well-regulated militia, constituting the natural defense of the
country, would prove the most effectual as well as economical
preservative of peace.

We can not but consider with serious apprehensions the inadequate
compensations of the public officers, especially of those in the more
important stations. It is not only a violation of the spirit of a
public contract, but is an evil so extensive in its operation and so
destructive in its consequences that we trust it will receive the most
pointed legislative attention.

We sincerely lament that, whilst the conduct of the United States has
been uniformly impressed with the character of equity, moderation, and
love of peace in the maintenance of all their foreign relationships, our
trade should be so harassed by the cruisers and agents of the Republic
of France throughout the extensive departments of the West Indies.

Whilst we are confident that no cause of complaint exists that could
authorize an interruption of our tranquillity or disengage that Republic
from the bonds of amity, cemented by the faith of treaties, we can not
but express our deepest regrets that official communications have been
made to you indicating a more serious disturbance of our commerce.
Although we cherish the expectation that a sense of justice and a
consideration of our mutual interests will moderate their councils, we
are not unmindful of the situation in which events may place us, nor
unprepared to adopt that system of conduct which, compatible with the
dignity of a respectable nation, necessity may compel us to pursue.

We cordially acquiesce in the reflection that the United States, under
the operation of the Federal Government, have experienced a most rapid
aggrandizement and prosperity as well political as commercial.

Whilst contemplating the causes that produce this auspicious result, we
must acknowledge the excellence of the constitutional system and the
wisdom of the legislative provisions; but we should be deficient in
gratitude and justice did we not attribute a great portion of these
advantages to the virtue, firmness, and talents of your Administration,
which have been conspicuously displayed in the most trying time and on
the most critical occasions. It is therefore with the sincerest regret
that we now receive an official notification of your intentions to
retire from the public employments of your country.

When we review the various scenes of your public life, so long and so
successfully devoted to the most arduous services, civil and military,
as well during the struggles of the American Revolution as the
convulsive periods of a recent date, we can not look forward to your
retirement without our warmest affections and most anxious regards
accompanying you, and without mingling with our fellow-citizens at large
in the sincerest wishes for your personal happiness that sensibility and
attachment can express.

The most effectual consolation that can offer for the loss we are about
to sustain arises from the animating reflection that the influence of
your example will extend to your successors, and the United States thus
continue to enjoy an able, upright, and energetic administration.


_Vice-President of the United States and President of the Senate_.

DECEMBER 10, 1796.


GENTLEMEN: It affords me great satisfaction to find in your address a
concurrence in sentiment with me on the various topics which I presented
for your information and deliberation, and that the latter will receive
from you an attention proportioned to their respective importance.

For the notice you take of my public services, civil and military, and
your kind wishes for my personal happiness, I beg you to accept my
cordial thanks. Those services, and greater had I possessed ability to
render them, were due to the unanimous calls of my country, and its
approbation is my abundant reward.

When contemplating the period of my retirement, I saw virtuous and
enlightened men among whom I relied on the discernment and patriotism
of my fellow-citizens to make the proper choice of, a successor--men
who would require no influential example to insure to the United States
"an able, upright, and energetic administration." To such men I shall
cheerfully yield the palm of genius and talents to serve our common
country; but at the same time I hope I may be indulged in expressing the
consoling reflection (which consciousness suggests), and to bear it with
me to my grave, that none can serve it with purer intentions than I have
done or with a more disinterested zeal.


DECEMBER 12, 1796.


SIR: The House of Representatives have attended to your communication
respecting the state of our country with all the sensibility that the
contemplation of the subject and a sense of duty can inspire.

We are gratified by the information that measures calculated to insure
a continuance of the friendship of the Indians and to maintain the
tranquillity of the Western frontier have been adopted, and we indulge
the hope that these, by impressing the Indian tribes with more correct
conceptions of the justice as well as power of the United States, will
be attended with success.

While we notice with satisfaction the steps that you have taken in
pursuance of the late treaties with several foreign nations, the
liberation of our citizens who were prisoners at Algiers is a subject
of peculiar felicitation. We shall cheerfully cooperate in any further
measures that shall appear on consideration to be requisite.

We have ever concurred with you in the most sincere and uniform
disposition to preserve our neutral relations inviolate, and it is of
course with anxiety and deep regret we hear that any interruption of
our harmony with the French Republic has occurred, for we feel with you
and with our constituents the cordial and unabated wish to maintain a
perfectly friendly understanding with that nation. Your endeavors to
fulfill that wish, and by all honorable means to preserve peace, and
to restore that harmony and affection which have heretofore so happily
subsisted between the French Republic and the United States, can not
fail, therefore, to interest our attention. And while we participate in
the full reliance you have expressed on the patriotism, self-respect,
and fortitude of our countrymen, we cherish the pleasing hope that a
mutual spirit of justice and moderation will insure the success of your

The various subjects of your communication will respectively meet with
the attention that is due to their importance.

When we advert to the internal situation of the United States, we deem
it equally natural and becoming to compare the present period with
that immediately antecedent to the operation of the Government, and to
contrast it with the calamities in which the state of war still involves
several of the European nations, as the reflections deduced from both
tend to justify as well as to excite a warmer admiration of our free
Constitution, and to exalt our minds to a more fervent and grateful
sense of piety toward Almighty God for the beneficence of His
providence, by which its administration has been hitherto so remarkably
distinguished. And while we entertain a grateful conviction that your
wise, firm, and patriotic Administration has been signally conducive to
the success of the present form of government, we can not forbear to
express the deep sensations of regret with which we contemplate your
intended retirement from office.

As no other suitable occasion may occur, we can not suffer the present
to pass without attempting to disclose some of the emotions which it can
not fail to awaken.

The gratitude and admiration of your countrymen are still drawn to the
recollection of those resplendent virtues and talents which were so
eminently instrumental to the achievement of the Revolution, and of
which that glorious event will ever be the memorial. Your obedience to
the voice of duty and your country when you quitted reluctantly a second
time the retreat you had chosen and first accepted the Presidency
afforded a new proof of the devotedness of your zeal in its service and
an earnest of the patriotism and success which have characterized your
Administration. As the grateful confidence of the citizens in the
virtues of their Chief Magistrate has essentially contributed to that
success, we persuade ourselves that the millions whom we represent
participate with us in the anxious solicitude of the present occasion.

Yet we can not be unmindful that your moderation and magnanimity, twice
displayed by retiring from your exalted stations, afford examples no
less rare and instructive to mankind than valuable to a republic.

Although we are sensible that this event of itself completes the luster
of a character already conspicuously unrivaled by the coincidence of
virtue, talents, success, and public estimation, yet we conceive we owe
it to you, sir, and still more emphatically to ourselves and to our
nation (of the language of whose hearts we presume to think ourselves
at this moment the faithful interpreters), to express the sentiments
with which it is contemplated.

The spectacle of a free and enlightened nation offering, by its
Representatives, the tribute of unfeigned approbation to its first
citizen, however novel and interesting it may be, derives all its luster
(a luster which accident or enthusiasm could not bestow, and which
adulation would tarnish) from the transcendent merit of which it is
the voluntary testimony.

May you long enjoy that liberty which is so dear to you, and to which
your name will ever be so dear. May your own virtues and a nation's
prayers obtain the happiest sunshine for the decline of your days and
the choicest of future blessings. For our country's sake, for the sake
of republican liberty, it is our earnest wish that your example may be
the guide of your successors, and thus, after being the ornament and
safeguard of the present age, become the patrimony of our descendants.

DECEMBER 15, 1796.


GENTLEMEN: To a citizen whose views were unambitious, who preferred the
shade and tranquillity of private life to the splendor and solicitude
of elevated stations, and whom the voice of duty and his country could
alone have drawn from his chosen retreat, no reward for his public
services can be so grateful as public approbation, accompanied by a
consciousness that to render those services useful to that country has
been his single aim; and when this approbation is expressed by the
Representatives of a free and enlightened nation, the reward will admit
of no addition. Receive, gentlemen, my sincere and affectionate thanks
for this signal testimony that my services have been acceptable and
useful to my country. The strong confidence of my fellow-citizens, while
it animated all my actions, insured their zealous cooperation, which
rendered those services successful. The virtue and wisdom of my
successors, joined with the patriotism and intelligence of the citizens
who compose the other branches of Government, I firmly trust will
lead them to the adoption of measures which, by the beneficence of
Providence, will give stability to our system of government, add to its
success, and secure to ourselves and to posterity that liberty which is
to all of us so dear.

While I acknowledge with pleasure the sincere and uniform disposition
of the House of Representatives to preserve our neutral relations
inviolate, and with them deeply regret any degree of interruption of
our good understanding with the French Republic, I beg you, gentlemen,
to rest assured that my endeavors will be earnest and unceasing by all
honorable means to preserve peace and to restore that harmony and
affection which have heretofore so happily subsisted between our two
nations; and with you I cherish the pleasing hope that a mutual spirit
of justice and moderation will crown those endeavors with success.

I shall cheerfully concur in the beneficial measures which your
deliberations shall mature on the various subjects demanding your
attention; and while directing your labors to advance the real interests
of our country, you receive its blessings. With perfect sincerity my
individual wishes will be offered for your present and future felicity.


DECEMBER 16, 1796.


UNITED STATES, _January 4, 1797_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate_:

I lay before you for your consideration a treaty which has been
negotiated and concluded on the 29th day of June last by Benjamin
Hawkins, Andrew Pickens, and George Clymer, commissioners on behalf
of the United States, with the Creek Indians, together with the
instructions which were given to the said commissioners and the
proceedings at the place of treaty.

I submit also the proceedings and result of a treaty, held at the city
of New York, on behalf of the State of New York, with certain nations or
tribes of Indians denominating themselves the Seven Nations of Canada.


UNITED STATES, _January 9, 1797_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate and of the House of Representatives_:

Herewith I lay before you in confidence reports from the Departments of
State and the Treasury, by which you will see the present situation of
our affairs with the Dey and Regency of Algiers.


UNITED STATES, _January 19, 1797_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate and of the House of Representatives_:

At the opening of the present session of Congress I mentioned that some
circumstances of an unwelcome nature had lately occurred in relation
to France; that our trade had suffered, and was suffering, extensive
injuries in the West Indies from the cruisers and agents of the French
Republic, and that communications had been received from its minister
here which indicated danger of a further disturbance of our commerce by
its authority, and that were in other respects far from agreeable, but
that I reserved for a special message a more particular communication
on this interesting subject. This communication I now make.

The complaints of the French minister embraced most of the transactions
of our Government in relation to France from an early period of the
present war, which, therefore, it was necessary carefully to review.
A collection has been formed of letters and papers relating to those
transactions, which I now lay before you, with a letter to Mr. Pinckney,
our minister at Paris, containing an examination of the notes of the
French minister and such information as I thought might be useful to
Mr. Pinckney in any further representations he might find necessary to
be made to the French Government. The immediate object of his mission
was to make to that Government such explanations of the principles and
conduct of our own as, by manifesting our good faith, might remove all
jealousy and discontent and maintain that harmony and good understanding
with the French Republic which it has been my constant solicitude to
preserve. A government which required only a knowledge of the _truth_
to justify its measures could not but be anxious to have this fully
and frankly displayed.


UNITED STATES, _March 2, 1797_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate_:

Application having been made to me to permit a treaty to be held with
the Seneca Nation of Indians to effect the purchase of a parcel of their
land under a preemption right derived from the State of Massachusetts
and situated within the State of New York, and it appearing to me
reasonable that such opportunity should be afforded, provided the
negotiation shall be conducted at the expense of the applicant, and at
the desire and with the consent of the Indians, always considering these
as prerequisites, I now nominate Isaac Smith to be a commissioner to
hold a treaty with the Seneca Nation for the aforesaid purpose.



UNITED STATES, _February 28, 1797_.

_Gentlemen of the House of Representatives_:

Having maturely considered the bill to alter and amend an act entitled
"An act to ascertain and fix the military establishment of the United
States," which was presented to me on the 22d day of this month, I now
return it to the House of Representatives, in which it originated, with
my objections:

First. If the bill passes into a law, the two companies of light
dragoons will be from that moment _legally_ out of service, though they
will afterwards continue _actually_ in service; and for their services
during this interval, namely, from the time of _legal_ to the time of
_actual_ discharge, it will not be lawful to pay them, unless some
future provision be made by law. Though they may be discharged at the
pleasure of Congress, in justice they ought to receive their pay, not
only to the time of passing the law, but at least to the time of their
actual discharge.

Secondly. It will be inconvenient and injurious to the public to dismiss
the light dragoons as soon as notice of the law can be conveyed to them,
one of the companies having been lately destined to a necessary and
important service.

Thirdly. The companies of light dragoons consist of 126 noncommissioned
officers and privates, who are bound to serve as dismounted dragoons
when ordered so to do. They have received in bounties about $2,000. One
of them is completely equipped, and above half of the noncommissioned
officers and privates have yet to serve more than one-third of the time
of their enlistment; and besides, there will in the course of the year
be a considerable deficiency in the complement of infantry intended to
be continued. Under these circumstances, to discharge the dragoons does
not seem to comport with economy.

Fourthly. It is generally agreed that some cavalry, either militia or
regular, will be necessary; and according to the best information I have
been able to obtain, it is my opinion that the latter will be less
expensive and more useful than the former in preserving peace between
the frontier settlers and the Indians, and therefore a part of the
military establishment should consist of cavalry.



[From Senate Journal, vol. 2, p. 397.]

MARCH 1, 1797.

_To the Vice-President and Senators of the United States, respectively_.

SIR: It appearing to me proper that the Senate of the United States
should be convened on Saturday, the 4th of March instant, you are
desired to attend in the Chamber of the Senate on that day, at 10
o'clock in the forenoon, to receive any communications which the
President of the United States may then lay before you touching
their interests.



UNITED STATES, _September 17, 1796_.

_Friends and Fellow-Citizens:_

The period for a new election of a citizen to administer the Executive
Government of the United States being not far distant, and the time
actually arrived when your thoughts must be employed in designating the
person who is to be clothed with that important trust, it appears to me
proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of
the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I have
formed to decline being considered among the number of those out of whom
a choice is to be made.

I beg you at the same time to do me the justice to be assured that
this resolution has not been taken without a strict regard to all
the considerations appertaining to the relation which binds a dutiful
citizen to his country; and that in withdrawing the tender of service,
which silence in my situation might imply, I am influenced by no
diminution of zeal for your future interest, no deficiency of grateful
respect for your past kindness, but am supported by a full conviction
that the step is compatible with both.

The acceptance of and continuance hitherto in the office to which
your suffrages have twice called me have been a uniform sacrifice of
inclination to the opinion of duty and to a deference for what appeared
to be your desire. I constantly hoped that it would have been much
earlier in my power, consistently with motives which I was not at
liberty to disregard, to return to that retirement from which I had been
reluctantly drawn. The strength of my inclination to do this previous
to the last election had even led to the preparation of an address to
declare it to you; but mature reflection on the then perplexed and
critical posture of our affairs with foreign nations and the unanimous
advice of persons entitled to my confidence impelled me to abandon the
idea. I rejoice that the state of your concerns, external as well as
internal, no longer renders the pursuit of inclination incompatible
with the sentiment of duty or propriety, and am persuaded, whatever
partiality may be retained for my services, that in the present
circumstances of our country you will not disapprove my determination
to retire.

The impressions with which I first undertook the arduous trust were
explained on the proper occasion. In the discharge of this trust I
will only say that I have, with good intentions, contributed toward the
organization and administration of the Government the best exertions
of which a very fallible judgment was capable. Not unconscious in the
outset of the inferiority of my qualifications, experience in my own
eyes, perhaps still more in the eyes of others, has strengthened the
motives to diffidence of myself; and every day the increasing weight
of years admonishes me more and more that the shade of retirement
is as necessary to me as it will be welcome. Satisfied that if any
circumstances have given peculiar value to my services they were
temporary, I have the consolation to believe that, while choice and
prudence invite me to quit the political scene, patriotism does not
forbid it.

In looking forward to the moment which is intended to terminate the
career of my political life my feelings do not permit me to suspend the
deep acknowledgment of that debt of gratitude which I owe to my beloved
country for the many honors it has conferred upon me; still more for
the steadfast confidence with which it has supported me, and for the
opportunities I have thence enjoyed of manifesting my inviolable
attachment by services faithful and persevering, though in usefulness
unequal to my zeal. If benefits have resulted to our country from
these services, let it always be remembered to your praise and as an
instructive example in our annals that under circumstances in which
the passions, agitated in every direction, were liable to mislead;
amidst appearances sometimes dubious; vicissitudes of fortune often
discouraging; in situations in which not unfrequently want of success
has countenanced the spirit of criticism, the constancy of your support
was the essential prop of the efforts and a guaranty of the plans by
which they were effected. Profoundly penetrated with this idea, I shall
carry it with me to my grave as a strong incitement to unceasing vows
that Heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens of its beneficence;
that your union and brotherly affection may be perpetual; that the free
Constitution which is the work of your hands may be sacredly maintained;
that its administration in every department may be stamped with wisdom
and virtue; that, in fine, the happiness of the people of these States,
under the auspices of liberty, may be made complete by so careful a
preservation and so prudent a use of this blessing as will acquire to
them the glory of recommending it to the applause, the affection, and
adoption of every nation which is yet a stranger to it.

Here, perhaps, I ought to stop. But a solicitude for your welfare which
can not end but with my life, and the apprehension of danger natural to
that solicitude, urge me on an occasion like the present to offer to
your solemn contemplation and to recommend to your frequent review some
sentiments which are the result of much reflection, of no inconsiderable
observation, and which appear to me all important to the permanency of
your felicity as a people. These will be offered to you with the more
freedom as you can only see in them the disinterested warnings of a
parting friend, who can possibly have no personal motive to bias his
counsel. Nor can I forget as an encouragement to it your indulgent
reception of my sentiments on a former and not dissimilar occasion.

Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of your
hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm
the attachment.

The unity of government which constitutes you one people is also now
dear to you. It is justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice of
your real independence, the support of your tranquillity at home, your
peace abroad, of your safety, of your prosperity, of that very liberty
which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee that from
different causes and from different quarters much pains will be taken,
many artifices employed, to weaken in your minds the conviction of this
truth, as this is the point in your political fortress against which the
batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and
actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of
infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of
your national union to your collective and individual happiness; that
you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it;
accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of
your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with
jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion
that it can in any event be abandoned, and indignantly frowning upon the
first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country
from the rest or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together
the various parts.

For this you have every inducement of sympathy and interest. Citizens
by birth or choice of a common country, that country has a right to
concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to
you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of
patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations.
With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners,
habits, and political principles. You have in a common cause fought and
triumphed together. The independence and liberty you possess are the
work of joint councils and joint efforts, of common dangers, sufferings,
and successes.

But these considerations, however powerfully they address themselves
to your sensibility, are greatly outweighed by those which apply more
immediately to your interest. Here every portion of our country finds
the most commanding motives for carefully guarding and preserving the
union of the whole.

The _North_, in an unrestrained intercourse with the _South_, protected
by the equal laws of a common government, finds in the productions
of the latter great additional resources of maritime and commercial
enterprise and precious materials of manufacturing industry. The
_South_, in the same intercourse, benefiting by the same agency of the
_North_, sees its agriculture grow and its commerce expand. Turning
partly into its own channels the seamen of the _North_, it finds its
particular navigation invigorated; and while it contributes in different
ways to nourish and increase the general mass of the national
navigation, it looks forward to the protection of a maritime strength
to which itself is unequally adapted. The _East_, in a like intercourse
with the _West_, already finds, and in the progressive improvement of
interior communications by land and water will more and more find,
a valuable vent for the commodities which it brings from abroad or
manufactures at home. The _West_ derives from the _East_ supplies
requisite to its growth and comfort, and what is perhaps of still
greater consequence, it must of necessity owe the _secure_ enjoyment
of indispensable _outlets_ for its own productions to the weight,
influence, and the future maritime strength of the Atlantic side of
the Union, directed by an indissoluble community of interest as _one
nation_. Any other tenure by which the _West_ can hold this essential
advantage, whether derived from its own separate strength or from an
apostate and unnatural connection with any foreign power, must be
intrinsically precarious.

While, then, every part of our country thus feels an immediate and
particular interest in union, all the parts combined can not fail to
find in the united mass of means and efforts greater strength, greater
resource, proportionably greater security from external danger, a less
frequent interruption of their peace by foreign nations, and what is
of inestimable value, they must derive from union an exemption from
those broils and wars between themselves which so frequently afflict
neighboring countries not tied together by the same governments, which
their own rivalships alone would be sufficient to produce, but which
opposite foreign alliances, attachments, and intrigues would stimulate
and imbitter. Hence, likewise, they will avoid the necessity of those
overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government,
are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as
particularly hostile to republican liberty. In this sense it is that
your union ought to be considered as a main prop of your liberty, and
that the love of the one ought to endear to you the preservation of
the other.

These considerations speak a persuasive language to every reflecting
and virtuous mind, and exhibit the continuance of the union as a
primary object of patriotic desire. Is there a doubt whether a common
government can embrace so large a sphere? Let experience solve it.
To listen to mere speculation in such a case were criminal. We are
authorized to hope that a proper organization of the whole, with the
auxiliary agency of governments for the respective subdivisions, will
afford a happy issue to the experiment. It is well worth a fair and full
experiment. With such powerful and obvious motives to union affecting
all parts of our country, while experience shall not have demonstrated
its impracticability, there will always be reason to distrust the
patriotism of those who in any quarter may endeavor to weaken
its bands.

In contemplating the causes which may disturb our union it occurs as
matter of serious concern that any ground should have been furnished for
characterizing parties by _geographical_ discriminations--_Northern_ and
_Southern, Atlantic_ and _Western_--whence designing men may endeavor
to excite a belief that there is a real difference of local interests
and views, One of the expedients of party to acquire influence within
particular districts is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other
districts. You can not shield yourselves too much against the jealousies
and heartburnings which spring from these misrepresentations; they tend
to render alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by
fraternal affection. The inhabitants of our Western country have lately
had a useful lesson on this head. They have seen in the negotiation by
the Executive and in the unanimous ratification by the Senate of the
treaty with Spain, and in the universal satisfaction at that event
throughout the United States, a decisive proof how unfounded were the
suspicions propagated among them of a policy in the General Government
and in the Atlantic States unfriendly to their interests in regard to
the Mississippi. They have been witnesses to the formation of two
treaties--that with Great Britain and that with Spain--which secure to
them everything they could desire in respect to our foreign relations
toward confirming their prosperity. Will it not be their wisdom to rely
for the preservation of these advantages on the union by which they were
procured? Will they not henceforth be deaf to those advisers, if such
there are, who would sever them from their brethren and connect them
with aliens?

To the efficacy and permanency of your union a government for the whole
is indispensable. No alliances, however strict, between the parts can be
an adequate substitute. They must inevitably experience the infractions
and interruptions which all alliances in all times have experienced.
Sensible of this momentous truth, you have improved upon your first
essay by the adoption of a Constitution of Government better calculated
than your former for an intimate union and for the efficacious
management of your common concerns. This Government, the offspring of
our own choice, uninfluenced and unawed, adopted upon full investigation
and mature deliberation, completely free in its principles, in the
distribution of its powers, uniting security with energy, and containing
within itself a provision for its own amendment, has a just claim to
your confidence and your support. Respect for its authority, compliance
with its laws, acquiescence in its measures, are duties enjoined by the
fundamental maxims of true liberty. The basis of our political systems
is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of
government. But the constitution which at any time exists till changed
by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people is sacredly
obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the
people to establish government presupposes the duty of every individual
to obey the established government.

All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations
and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real
design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation
and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this
fundamental principle and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize
faction; to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put in the
place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often
a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community, and,
according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the
public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous
projects of faction rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome
plans, digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.

However combinations or associations of the above description may now
and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time
and things to become potent engines by which cunning, ambitious, and
unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people, and
to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards
the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.

Toward the preservation of your Government and the permanency of
your present happy state, it is requisite not only that you steadily
discountenance irregular oppositions to its acknowledged authority,
but also that you resist with care the spirit of innovation upon its
principles, however specious the pretexts. One method of assault may be
to effect in the forms of the Constitution alterations which will impair
the energy of the system, and thus to undermine what can not be directly
overthrown. In all the changes to which you may be invited remember that
time and habit are at least as necessary to fix the true character of
governments as of other human institutions; that experience is the
surest standard by which to test the real tendency of the existing
constitution of a country; that facility in changes upon the credit
of mere hypothesis and opinion exposes to perpetual change, from the
endless variety of hypothesis and opinion; and remember especially that
for the efficient management of your common interests in a country so
extensive as ours a government of as much vigor as is consistent with
the perfect security of liberty is indispensable. Liberty itself will
find in such a government, with powers properly distributed and
adjusted, its surest guardian. It is, indeed, little else than a
name where the government is too feeble to withstand the enterprises
of faction, to confine each member of the society within the limits
prescribed by the laws, and to maintain all in the secure and tranquil
enjoyment of the rights of person and property. I have already intimated
to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to
the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a
more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against
the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having
its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under
different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled,
or repressed; but in those of the popular form it is seen in its
greatest rankness and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the
spirit of revenge natural to party dissension, which in different ages
and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself
a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and
permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually
incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute
power of an individual, and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing
faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this
disposition to the purposes of his own elevation on the ruins of
public liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless
ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual
mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the
interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public
administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies
and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another;
foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign
influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the
government itself through the channels of party passion. Thus the
policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and
will of another.

There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks
upon the administration of the government, and serve to keep alive the
spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in
governments of a monarchical cast patriotism may look with indulgence,
if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular
character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be
encouraged. From their natural tendency it is certain there will always
be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose; and there being
constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public
opinion to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it
demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame,
lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country
should inspire caution in those intrusted with its administration to
confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres,
avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach
upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers
of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of
government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power
and proneness to abuse it which predominates in the human heart is
sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position. The necessity
of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing
and distributing it into different depositories, and constituting each
the guardian of the public weal against invasions by the others, has
been evinced by experiments ancient and modern, some of them in our
country and under our own eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary
as to institute them. If in the opinion of the people the distribution
or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong,
let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution
designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this in
one instance may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon
by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always
greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit
which the use can at any time yield.

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity,
religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man
claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great
pillars of human happiness--these firmest props of the duties of men
and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought
to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their
connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked,
Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if
the sense of religious obligation _desert_ the oaths which are the
instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with
caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without
religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education
on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us
to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious

It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring
of popular government. The rule indeed extends with more or less force
to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it
can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the
fabric? Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions
for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure
of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that
public opinion should be enlightened.

As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public
credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as
possible, avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but
remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger
frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it; avoiding
likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions
of expense, but by vigorous exertions in time of peace to discharge
the debts which unavoidable wars have occasioned, not ungenerously
throwing upon posterity the burthen which we ourselves ought to bear.
The execution of these maxims belongs to your representatives; but it
is necessary that public opinion should cooperate. To facilitate to
them the performance of their duty it is essential that you should
practically bear in mind that toward the payment of debts there must
be revenue; that to have revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes
can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant;
that the intrinsic embarrassment inseparable from the selection of the
proper objects (which is always a choice of difficulties), ought to
be a decisive motive for a candid construction of the conduct of
the Government in making it, and for a spirit of acquiescence in the
measures for obtaining revenue which the public exigencies may at
any time dictate.

Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and
harmony with all. Religion and morality enjoin this conduct. And can it
be that good policy does not equally enjoin it? It will be worthy of a
free, enlightened, and at no distant period a great nation to give to
mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided
by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt that in the course
of time and things the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any
temporary advantages which might be lost by a steady adherence to it?
Can it be that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of
a nation with its virtue? The experiment, at least, is recommended by
every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered
impossible by its vices?

In the execution of such a plan nothing is more essential than that
permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations and
passionate attachments for others should be excluded, and that in place
of them just and amicable feelings toward all should be cultivated. The
nation which indulges toward another an habitual hatred or an habitual
fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to
its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its
duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another disposes
each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight
causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable when accidental
or trifling occasions of dispute occur.

Hence frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests.
The nation prompted by ill will and resentment sometimes impels to
war the government contrary to the best calculations of policy. The
government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts
through passion what reason would reject. At other times it makes the
animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility, instigated
by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace
often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of nations has been the victim.

So, likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces
a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the
illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common
interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other,
betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of
the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also
to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others,
which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions by
unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by
exciting jealousy, ill will, and a disposition to retaliate in the
parties from whom equal privileges are withheld; and it gives to
ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the
favorite nation) facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their
own country without odium, sometimes even with popularity, gilding
with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable
deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good the
base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments
are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent
patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic
factions, to practice the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion,
to influence or awe the public councils! Such an attachment of a small
or weak toward a great and powerful nation dooms the former to be
the satellite of the latter. Against the insidious wiles of foreign
influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy
of a free people ought to be _constantly_ awake, since history and
experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes
of republican government. But that jealousy, to be useful, must be
impartial, else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be
avoided, instead of a defense against it. Excessive partiality for one
foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they
actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even
second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist
the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious,
while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the
people to surrender their interests.

The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is,
in extending our commercial relations to have with them as little
_political_ connection as possible. So far as we have already formed
engagements let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let
us stop.

Europe has a set of primary interests which to us have none or a very
remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies,
the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence,
therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial
ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics or the ordinary
combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.

Our detached, and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue
a different course. If we remain one people, under an efficient
government, the period is not far off when we may defy material injury
from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will
cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon to be scrupulously
respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making
acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation;
when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice,
shall counsel.

Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own
to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that
of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of
European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice?

It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any
portion of the foreign world, so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty
to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing
infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable
to public than to private affairs that honesty is always the best
policy. I repeat, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their
genuine sense. But in my opinion it is unnecessary and would be unwise
to extend them.

Taking care always to keep ourselves by suitable establishments on
a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary
alliances for extraordinary emergencies.

Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations are recommended by policy,
humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy should hold an
equal and impartial hand, neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors
or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing
and diversifying by gentle means the streams of commerce, but forcing
nothing; establishing with powers so disposed, in order to give trade a
stable course, to define the rights of our merchants, and to enable the
Government to support them, conventional rules of intercourse, the best
that present circumstances and mutual opinion will permit, but temporary
and liable to be from time to time abandoned or varied as experience and
circumstances shall dictate; constantly keeping in view that it is folly
in one nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it
must pay with a portion of its independence for whatever it may accept
under that character; that by such acceptance it may place itself in the
condition of having given equivalents for nominal favors, and yet of
being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no
greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation
to nation. It is an illusion which experience must cure, which a just
pride ought to discard.

In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and
affectionate friend I dare not hope they will make the strong and
lasting impression I could wish--that they will control the usual
current of the passions or prevent our nation from running the course
which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations. But if I may even
flatter myself that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some
occasional good--that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury
of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to
guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism--this hope will be
a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare by which they
have been dictated.

How far in the discharge of my official duties I have been guided by
the principles which have been delineated the public records and other
evidences of my conduct must witness to you and to the world. To myself,
the assurance of my own conscience is that I have at least believed
myself to be guided by them.

In relation to the still subsisting war in Europe my proclamation
of the 22d of April, 1793, is the index to my plan. Sanctioned by your
approving voice and by that of your representatives in both Houses of
Congress, the spirit of that measure has continually governed me,
uninfluenced by any attempts to deter or divert me from it.

After deliberate examination, with the aid of the best lights I
could obtain, I was well satisfied that our country, under all the
circumstances of the case, had a right to take, and was bound in duty
and interest to take, a neutral position. Having taken it, I determined
as far as should depend upon me to maintain it with moderation,
perseverance, and firmness.

The considerations which respect the right to hold this conduct it is
not necessary on this occasion to detail. I will only observe that,
according to my understanding of the matter, that right, so far from
being denied by any of the belligerent powers, has been virtually
admitted by all.

The duty of holding a neutral conduct may be inferred, without anything
more, from the obligation which justice and humanity impose on every
nation, in cases in which it is free to act, to maintain inviolate the
relations of peace and amity toward other nations.

The inducements of interest for observing that conduct will best be
referred to your own reflections and experience. With me a predominant
motive has been to endeavor to gain time to our country to settle and
mature its yet recent institutions, and to progress without interruption
to that degree of strength and consistency which is necessary to give
it, humanly speaking, the command of its own fortunes.

Though in reviewing the incidents of my Administration I am unconscious
of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not
to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever
they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the
evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me the hope that
my country will never cease to view them with indulgence, and that,
after forty-five years of my life dedicated to its service with an
upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned
to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.

Relying on its kindness in this as in other things, and actuated by that
fervent love toward it which is so natural to a man who views in it the
native soil of himself and his progenitors for several generations,
I anticipate with pleasing expectation that retreat in which I promise
myself to realize without alloy the sweet enjoyment of partaking in the
midst of my fellow-citizens the benign influence of good laws under a

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