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

Part 7 out of 9

The consequence was that the payment of the debt was postponed for more
than twenty years, and even then it was only accomplished by the stern
will and unbending policy of President Jackson, who made its payment a
leading measure of his Administration. He resisted the attempts which
were made to divert the public money from that great object and apply it
in wasteful and extravagant expenditures for other objects, some of them
of more than doubtful constitutional authority and expediency.

If the Government of the United States shall observe a proper economy in
its expenditures, and be confined in its action to the conduct of our
foreign relations and to the few general objects of its care enumerated
in the Constitution, leaving all municipal and local legislation to the
States, our greatness as a nation, in moral and physical power and in
wealth and resources, can not be calculated.

By pursuing this policy oppressive measures, operating unequally and
unjustly upon sections and classes, will be avoided, and the people,
having no cause of complaint, will pursue their own interests under the
blessings of equal laws and the protection of a just and paternal
Government. By abstaining from the exercise of all powers not clearly
conferred, the current of our glorious Union, now numbering thirty
States, will be strengthened as we grow in age and increase in
population, and our future destiny will be without a parallel or example
in the history of nations.


WASHINGTON, _July 7, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

For the reasons mentioned in the accompanying letter of the Secretary of
War, I ask that the date in the promotion of Captain W.J. Hardee, Second
Dragoons, to be major by brevet for gallant and meritorious conduct in
the affair at Madellin, Mexico, be changed to the 25th of March, 1847,
the day on which the action occurred.



_Washington, July 7, 1848_.


SIR: Captain W.J. Hardee, Second Dragoons, has been promoted to be major
by brevet for gallant and meritorious conduct in the affair at Madellin,
Mexico, to date from the 26th of March, 1847. As this affair took place
on the 25th of that month, I respectfully recommend that the Senate be
asked to change the date of Captain Hardee's brevet rank so as to
correspond with the date of the action, to wit, the 25th of March, 1847.
Brevets which have been conferred upon other officers in the same affair
take the latter date.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

_Secretary of War_.

WASHINGTON, _July 12, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

In compliance with a resolution of the Senate, of the 21st June, 1848, I
herewith communicate to the Senate a report of the Secretary of War,
with the accompanying documents, containing the proceedings of a court
of inquiry which convened at Saltillo, Mexico, January 12, 1848, and
which was instituted for the purpose of obtaining full information
relative to an alleged mutiny in the camp of Buena Vista, Mexico, on or
about the 15th of August, 1847.


WASHINGTON, _July 14, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

In compliance with the resolution of the Senate of July 13, 1848, I
transmit herewith a report of the Secretary of War and accompanying
documents, containing all the proceedings of the two courts of inquiry
in the case of Major-General Pillow, the one commenced and terminated in
Mexico, the other commenced in Mexico and terminated in the United


WASHINGTON, _July 24, 1848_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

In answer to the resolutions of the House of Representatives of the 10th
instant, requesting information in relation to New Mexico and
California, I communicate herewith reports from the Secretary of State,
the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of War, and the Secretary
of the Navy, with the documents which accompany the same. These reports
and documents contain information upon the several points of inquiry
embraced by the resolutions. "The proper limits and boundaries of New
Mexico and California" are delineated on the map referred to in the late
treaty with Mexico, an authentic copy of which is herewith transmitted;
and all the additional information upon that subject, and also the most
reliable information in respect to the population of these respective
Provinces, which is in the possession of the Executive will be found in
the accompanying report of the Secretary of State.

The resolutions request information in regard to the existence of civil
governments in New Mexico and California, their "form and character," by
"whom instituted," by "what authority," and how they are "maintained and

In my message of December 22, 1846, in answer to a resolution of the
House of Representatives calling for information "in relation to the
establishment or organization of civil government in any portion of the
territory of Mexico which has or might be taken possession of by the
Army or Navy of the United States," I communicated the orders which had
been given to the officers of our Army and Navy, and stated the general
authority upon which temporary military governments had been established
over the conquered portion of Mexico then in our military occupation.

The temporary governments authorized were instituted by virtue of the
rights of war. The power to declare war against a foreign country, and
to prosecute it according to the general laws of war, as sanctioned by
civilized nations, it will not be questioned, exists under our
Constitution. When Congress has declared that war exists with a foreign
nation, "the general laws of war apply to our situation," and it becomes
the duty of the President, as the constitutional "Commander in Chief of
the Army and Navy of the United States," to prosecute it.

In prosecuting a foreign war thus duly declared by Congress, we have the
right, by "conquest and military occupation," to acquire possession of
the territories of the enemy, and, during the war, to "exercise the
fullest rights of sovereignty over it." The sovereignty of the enemy is
in such case "suspended," and his laws can "no longer be rightfully
enforced" over the conquered territory "or be obligatory upon the
inhabitants who remain and submit to the conqueror. By the surrender the
inhabitants pass under a temporary allegiance" to the conqueror, and are
"bound by such laws, and such only, as" he may choose to recognize and
impose. "From the nature of the case, no other laws could be obligatory
upon them, for where there is no protection or allegiance or sovereignty
there can be no claim to obedience." These are well-established
principles of the laws of war, as recognized and practiced by civilized
nations, and they have been sanctioned by the highest judicial tribunal
of our own country.

The orders and instructions issued to the officers of our Army and Navy,
applicable to such portions of the Mexican territory as had been or
might be conquered by our arms, were in strict conformity to these
principles. They were, indeed, ameliorations of the rigors of war upon
which we might have insisted. They substituted for the harshness of
military rule something of the mildness of civil government, and were
not only the exercise of no excess of power, but were a relaxation in
favor of the peaceable inhabitants of the conquered territory who had
submitted to our authority, and were alike politic and humane.

It is from the same source of authority that we derive the unquestioned
right, after the war has been declared by Congress, to blockade the
ports and coasts of the enemy, to capture his towns, cities, and
provinces, and to levy contributions upon him for the support of our
Army. Of the same character with these is the right to subject to our
temporary military government the conquered territories of our enemy.
They are all belligerent rights, and their exercise is as essential to
the successful prosecution of a foreign war as the right to fight

New Mexico and Upper California were among the territories conquered and
occupied by our forces, and such temporary governments were established
over them. They were established by the officers of our Army and Navy in
command, in pursuance of the orders and instructions accompanying my
message to the House of Representatives of December 22, 1846. In their
form and detail, as at first established, they exceeded in some
respects, as was stated in that message, the authority which had been
given, and instructions for the correction of the error were issued in
dispatches from the War and Navy Departments of the 11th of January,
1847, copies of which are herewith transmitted. They have been
maintained and supported out of the military exactions and contributions
levied upon the enemy, and no part of the expense has been paid out of
the Treasury of the United States.

In the routine of duty some of the officers of the Army and Navy who
first established temporary governments in California and New Mexico
have been succeeded in command by other officers, upon whom light duties
devolved; and the agents employed or designated by them to conduct the
temporary governments have also, in some instances, been superseded by
others. Such appointments for temporary civil duty during our military
occupation were made by the officers in command in the conquered
territories, respectively.

On the conclusion and exchange of ratifications of a treaty of peace
with Mexico, which was proclaimed on the 4th instant, these temporary
governments necessarily ceased to exist. In the instructions to
establish a temporary government over New Mexico, no distinction was
made between that and the other Provinces of Mexico which might be
conquered and held in our military occupation.

The Province of New Mexico, according to its ancient boundaries, as
claimed by Mexico, lies on both sides of the Rio Grande. That part of it
on the east of that river was in dispute when the war between the United
States and Mexico commenced. Texas, by a successful revolution in April,
1836, achieved, and subsequently maintained, her independence. By an act
of the Congress of Texas passed in December, 1836, her western boundary
was declared to be the Rio Grande from its mouth to its source, and
thence due north to the forty-second degree of north latitude. Though
the Republic of Texas, by many acts of sovereignty which she asserted
and exercised, some of which were stated in my annual message of
December, 1846, had established her clear title to the country west of
the Nueces, and bordering upon that part of the Rio Grande which lies
below the Province of New Mexico, she had never conquered or reduced to
actual possession and brought under her Government and laws that part of
New Mexico lying east of the Rio Grande, which she claimed to be within
her limits. On the breaking out of the war we found Mexico in possession
of this disputed territory. As our Army approached Sante Fe (the capital
of New Mexico) it was found to be held by a governor under Mexican
authority, with an armed force collected to resist our advance. The
inhabitants were Mexicans, acknowledging allegiance to Mexico. The
boundary in dispute was the line between the two countries engaged in
actual war, and the settlement of it of necessity depended on a treaty
of peace. Finding the Mexican authorities and people in possession, our
forces conquered them, and extended military rule over them and the
territory which they actually occupied, in lieu of the sovereignty which
was displaced. It was not possible to disturb or change the practical
boundary line in the midst of the war, when no negotiation for its
adjustment could be opened, and when Texas was not present, by her
constituted authorities, to establish and maintain government over a
hostile Mexican population who acknowledged no allegiance to her. There
was, therefore, no alternative left but to establish and maintain
military rule during the war over the conquered people in the disputed
territory who had submitted to our arms, or to forbear the exercise of
our belligerent rights and leave them in a state of anarchy and without

Whether the country in dispute rightfully belonged to Mexico or to
Texas, it was our right in the first case, and our duty as well as our
right in the latter, to conquer and hold it. Whilst this territory was
in our possession as conquerors, with a population hostile to the United
States, which more than once broke out in open insurrection, it was our
unquestionable duty to continue our military occupation of it until the
conclusion of the war, and to establish over it a military government,
necessary for our own security as well as for the protection of the
conquered people.

By the joint resolution of Congress of March 1, 1845, "for annexing
Texas to the United States," the "adjustment of all questions of
boundary which may arise with other governments" was reserved to this
Government. When the conquest of New Mexico was consummated by our arms,
the question of boundary remained still unadjusted. Until the exchange
of the ratifications of the late treaty, New Mexico never became an
undisputed portion of the United States, and it would therefore have
been premature to deliver over to Texas that portion of it on the east
side of the Rio Grande, to which she asserted a claim. However just the
right of Texas may have been to it, that right had never been reduced
into her possession, and it was contested by Mexico.

By the cession of the whole of New Mexico, on both sides of the Rio
Grande, to the United States, the question of disputed boundary, so far
as Mexico is concerned, has been settled, leaving the question as to the
true limits of Texas in New Mexico to be adjusted between that State and
the United States.

Under the circumstances existing during the pendency of the war, and
while the whole of New Mexico, as claimed by our enemy, was in our
military occupation, I was not unmindful of the rights of Texas to that
portion of it which she claimed to be within her limits. In answer to a
letter from the governor of Texas dated on the 4th of January, 1847, the
Secretary of State, by my direction, informed him in a letter of the
12th of February, 1847, that in the President's annual message of
December, 1846--

You have already perceived that New Mexico is at present in the
temporary occupation of the troops of the United States, and the
government over it is military in its character. It is merely such a
government as must exist under the laws of nations and of war to
preserve order and protect the rights of the inhabitants, and will cease
on the conclusion of a treaty of peace with Mexico. Nothing, therefore,
can be more certain than that this temporary government, resulting from
necessity, can never injuriously affect the right which the President
believes to be justly asserted by Texas to the whole territory on this
side of the Rio Grande whenever the Mexican claim to it shall have been
extinguished by treaty. But this is a subject which more properly
belongs to the legislative than the executive branch of the Government.

The result of the whole is that Texas had asserted a right to that part
of New Mexico east of the Rio Grande, which is believed, under the acts
of Congress for the annexation and admission of Texas into the Union as
a State, and under the constitution and laws of Texas, to be well
founded; but this right had never been reduced to her actual possession
and occupancy. The General Government, possessing exclusively the
war-making power, had the right to take military possession of this
disputed territory, and until the title to it was perfected by a treaty
of peace it was their duty to hold it and to establish a temporary
military government over it for the preservation of the conquest itself,
the safety of our Army, and the security of the conquered inhabitants.

The resolutions further request information whether any persons have
been tried and condemned for "treason against the United States in that
part of New Mexico lying east of the Rio Grande since the same has been
in the occupancy of our Army," and, if so, before "what tribunal" and
"by what authority of law such tribunal was established." It appears
that after the territory in question was "in the occupancy of our Army"
some of the conquered Mexican inhabitants, who had at first submitted to
our authority, broke out in open insurrection, murdering our soldiers
and citizens and committing other atrocious crimes. Some of the
principal offenders who were apprehended were tried and condemned by a
tribunal invested with civil and criminal jurisdiction, which had been
established in the conquered country by the military officer in command.
That the offenders deserved the punishment inflicted upon them there is
no reason to doubt, and the error in the proceedings against them
consisted in designating and describing their crimes as "treason against
the United States." This error was pointed out, and its recurrence
thereby prevented, by the Secretary of War in a dispatch to the officer
in command in New Mexico dated on the 26th of June, 1847, a copy of
which, together with copies of all communications relating to the
subject which have been received at the War Department, is herewith

The resolutions call for information in relation to the quantity of the
public lands acquired within the ceded territory, and "how much of the
same is within the boundaries of Texas as defined by the act of the
Congress of the Republic of Texas of the 19th day of December, 1836." No
means of making an accurate estimate on the subject is in the possession
of the executive department. The information which is possessed will be
found in the accompanying report of the Secretary of the Treasury.

The country ceded to the United States lying west of the Rio Grande, and
to which Texas has no title, is estimated by the commissioner of the
General Land Office to contain 526,078 square miles, or 336,689,920

The period since the exchange of ratifications of the treaty has been
too short to enable the Government to have access to or to procure
abstracts or copies of the land titles issued by Spain or by the
Republic of Mexico. Steps will be taken to procure this information at
the earliest practicable period. It is estimated, as appears from the
accompanying report of the Secretary of the Treasury, that much the
larger portion of the land within the territories ceded remains vacant
and unappropriated, and will be subject to be disposed of by the United
States. Indeed, a very inconsiderable portion of the land embraced in
the cession, it is believed, has been disposed of or granted either by
Spain or Mexico.

What amount of money the United States may be able to realize from the
sales of these vacant lands must be uncertain, but it is confidently
believed that with prudent management, after making liberal grants to
emigrants and settlers, it will exceed the cost of the war and all the
expenses to which we have been subjected in acquiring it.

The resolutions also call for "the evidence, or any part thereof, that
the 'extensive and valuable territories ceded by Mexico to the United
States constitute indemnity for the past.'"

The immense value of the ceded country does not consist alone in the
amount of money for which the public lands may be sold. If not a dollar
could be realized from the sale of these lands, the cession of the
jurisdiction over the country and the fact that it has become a part of
our Union and call not be made subject to any European power constitute
ample "indemnity for the past" in the immense value and advantages which
its acquisition must give to the commercial, navigating, manufacturing,
and agricultural interests of our country.

The value of the public lands embraced within the limits of the ceded
territory, great as that value may be, is far less important to the
people of the United States than the sovereignty over the country. Most
of our States contain no public lands owned by the United States, and
yet the sovereignty and jurisdiction over them is of incalculable
importance to the nation. In the State of New York the United States is
the owner of no public lands, and yet two-thirds of our whole revenue is
collected at the great port of that State, and within her limits is
found about one-seventh of our entire population. Although none of the
future cities on our coast of California may ever rival the city of New
York in wealth, population, and business, yet that important cities will
grow up on the magnificent harbors of that coast, with a rapidly
increasing commerce and population, and yielding a large revenue, would
seem to be certain. By the possession of the safe and capacious harbors
on the Californian coast we shall have great advantages in securing the
rich commerce of the East, and shall thus obtain for our products new
and increased markets and greatly enlarge our coasting and foreign
trade, as well as augment our tonnage and revenue.

These great advantages, far more than the simple value of the public
lands in the ceded territory, "constitute our indemnity for the past."


WASHINGTON, _July 28, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I have received from the Senate the "convention for the mutual delivery
of criminals, fugitives from justice, in certain cases, concluded on the
29th of January, 1845, between the United States on the one part and
Prussia and other States of the German Confederation on the other part,"
with a copy of their resolution of the 21st of June last, advising and
consenting to its ratification, with an amendment extending the period
for the exchange of ratifications until the 28th of September, 1848.

I have taken this subject into serious and deliberate consideration, and
regret that I can not ratify this convention, in conformity with the
advice of the Senate, without violating my convictions of duty. Having
arrived at this conclusion, I deem it proper and respectful, considering
the peculiar circumstances of the present case and the intimate
relations which the Constitution has established between the President
and Senate, to make known to you the reasons which influence me to come
to this determination.

On the 16th of December, 1845, I communicated this convention to the
Senate for its consideration, at the same time stating my objections to
the third article. I deemed this to be a more proper and respectful
course toward the Senate, as well as toward Prussia and the other
parties to it, than if I had withheld it and disapproved it altogether.
Had the Senate concurred with me in opinion and rejected the third
article, then the convention thus amended would have conformed to our
treaties of extradition with Great Britain and France.

But the Senate did not act upon it within the period limited for the
exchange of ratifications. From this I concluded that they had concurred
with me in opinion in regard to the third article, and had for this and
other reasons deemed it proper to take no proceedings upon the
convention. After this date, therefore, I considered the affair as

Upon the presumption that this was the fact, new negotiations upon the
subject were commenced, and several conferences were held between the
Secretary of State and the Prussian minister. These resulted in a
protocol signed at the Department of State on the 27th of April, 1847,
in which the Secretary proposed either that the two Governments might
agree to extend the time for the exchange of ratifications, and thus
revive the convention, provided the Prussian Government would previously
intimate its consent to the omission of the third article, or he
"expressed his willingness immediately to conclude with Mr. Gerolt a new
convention, if he possessed the requisite powers from his Government,
embracing all the provisions contained in that of the 29th January,
1845, with the exception of the third article. To this Mr. Gerolt
observed that he had no powers to conclude such a convention, but would
submit the propositions of Mr. Buchanan to the Prussian Government for
further instructions."

Mr. Gerolt has never yet communicated in writing to the Department of
State the answer of his Government to these propositions, but the
Secretary of State, a few months after the date of the protocol, learned
from him in conversation that they insisted upon the third article of
the convention as a _sine qua non_. Thus the second negotiation had
finally terminated by a disagreement between the parties, when, more
than a year afterwards, on the 21st June, 1848, the Senate took the
original convention into consideration and ratified it, retaining the
third article.

After the second negotiation with the Prussian Government, in which the
objections to the third article were stated, as they had been previously
in my message of the 16th December, 1845, a strong additional difficulty
was interposed to the ratification of the convention; but I might
overcome this difficulty if my objections to the third article had not
grown stronger by further reflection. For a statement of them in detail
I refer you to the accompanying memorandum, prepared by the Secretary of
State by my direction.

I can not believe that the sovereign States of this Union, whose
administration of justice would be almost exclusively affected by such a
convention, will ever be satisfied with a treaty of extradition under
which if a German subject should commit murder or any other high crime
in New York or New Orleans, and could succeed in escaping to his own
country, he would thereby be protected from trial and punishment under
the jurisdiction of our State laws which he had violated. It is true, as
has been stated, that the German States, acting upon a principle
springing from the doctrine of perpetual allegiance, still assert the
jurisdiction of trying and punishing their subjects for crimes committed
in the United States or any other portion of the world. It must,
however, be manifest that individuals throughout our extended country
would rarely, if ever, follow criminals to Germany with the necessary
testimony for the purpose of prosecuting them to conviction before
German courts for crimes committed in the United States.

On the other hand, the Constitution and laws of the United States, as
well as of the several States, would render it impossible that crimes
committed by our citizens in Germany could be tried and punished in any
portion of this Union.

But if no other reason existed for withholding my ratification from this
treaty, the great change which has recently occurred in the organization
of the Government of the German States would be sufficient. By the last
advices we learn that the German Parliament, at Frankfort, have already
established a federal provisional Executive for all the States of
Germany, and have elected the Archduke John of Austria to be
"Administrator of the Empire." One of the attributes of this Executive
is "to represent the Confederation in its relations with foreign nations
and to appoint diplomatic agents, ministers, and consuls." Indeed, our
minister at Berlin has already suggested the propriety of his transfer
to Frankfort. In case this convention with nineteen of the thirty-nine
German States should be ratified, this could amount to nothing more than
a proposition on the part of the Senate and President to these nineteen
States who were originally parties to the convention to negotiate anew
on the subject of extradition. In the meantime a central German
Government has been provisionally established, which extinguishes the
right of these separate parties to enter into negotiations with foreign
Governments on subjects of several interest to the whole.

Admitting such a treaty as that which has been ratified by the Senate to
be desirable, the obvious course would now be to negotiate with the
General Government of Germany. A treaty concluded with it would embrace
all the thirty-nine States of Germany, and its authority, being
coextensive with the Empire, fugitives from justice found in any of
these States would be surrendered up on the requisition of our minister
at Frankfort. This would be more convenient and effectual than to
address such separate requisitions to each of the nineteen German States
with which the convention was concluded.

I communicate herewith, for the information of the Senate, copies of a
dispatch from our minister at Berlin and a communication from our consul
at Darmstadt.


WASHINGTON, _July 29, 1848_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

In answer to the resolution of the House of Representatives of the 17th
instant, requesting the President "to communicate, if not inconsistent
with the public interests, copies of all instructions given to the Hon.
Ambrose H. Sevier and Nathan Clifford, commissioners appointed to
conduct negotiations for the ratification of the treaty lately concluded
between the United States and the Republic of Mexico," I have to state
that in my opinion it would be "inconsistent with the public interests"
to give publicity to these instructions at the present time.

I avail myself of this occasion to observe that, as a general rule
applicable to all our important negotiations with foreign powers, it
could not fail to be prejudicial to the public interest to publish the
instructions to our ministers until some time had elapsed after the
conclusion of such negotiations.

In the present case the object of the mission of our commissioners to
Mexico has been accomplished. The treaty, as amended by the Senate of
the United States, has been ratified. The ratifications have been
exchanged and the treaty has been proclaimed as the supreme law of the
land. No contingency occurred which made it either necessary or proper
for our commissioners to enter upon any negotiations with the Mexican
Government further than to urge upon that Government the ratification of
the treaty in its amended form.


WASHINGTON, _July 31, 1848_

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I communicate herewith a report from the Secretary of State, containing
the information called for by the resolution of the Senate of the 24th
of April, 1848, in relation "to the claim of the owners of the ship
_Miles_, of Warren, in the State of Rhode Island, upon the Government of
Portugal for the payment of a cargo of oil taken by the officers and
applied to the uses of that Government."


WASHINGTON, _July 31, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

In compliance with the resolution of the Senate of the 28th instant,
requesting the President to communicate to that body, "in confidence, if
not inconsistent with the public interest, what steps, if any, have been
taken by the Executive to extinguish the rights of the Hudsons Bay and
Puget Sound Land Company within the Territory of Oregon, and such
communications, if any, which may have been received from the British
Government in relation to this subject," I communicate herewith a report
from the Secretary of State, with the accompanying documents.


WASHINGTON, _August 1, 1848_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

I communicate herewith a report from the Secretary of War, containing
the information called for by the resolution of the House of
Representatives of the 17th July, 1848, in relation to the number of
Indians in Oregon, California, and New Mexico, the number of military
posts, the number of troops which will be required in each, and "the
whole military force which should constitute the peace establishment."

I have seen no rfeason to change the opinion expressed in my message to
Congress of the 6th July, 1848, transmitting the treaty of peace with
Mexico, that "the old Army, as it existed before the commencement of the
war with Mexico, especially if authority be given to fill up the rank
and file of the several corps to the maximum number authorized during
the war, will be a sufficient force to be retained in service during a
period of peace."

The old Army consists of fifteen regiments. By the act of the 13th of
May, 1846, the President was authorized, by "voluntary enlistments, to
increase the number of privates in each or any of the companies of the
existing regiments of dragoons, artillery, and infantry to any number
not exceeding 100," and to "reduce the same to 64 when the exigencies
requiring the present increase shall cease." Should this act remain in
force, the maximum number of the rank and file of the Army authorized by
it would be over 16,000 men, exclusive of officers. Should the authority
conferred by this act be continued, it would depend on the exigencies of
the service whether the number of the rank and file should be increased,
and, if so, to what amount beyond the minimum number of 64 privates to a

Allowing 64 privates to a company, the Army would be over 10,000 men,
exclusive of commissioned and noncommissioned officers, a number which,
it is believed, will be sufficient; but, as a precautionary measure, it
is deemed expedient that the Executive should possess the power of
increasing the strength of the respective corps should the exigencies of
the service be such as to require it. Should these exigencies not call
for such increase, the discretionary power given by the act to the
President will not be exercised.

It will be seen from the report of the Secretary of War that a portion
of the forces will be employed in Oregon, New Mexico, and Upper
California; a portion for the protection of the Texas frontier adjoining
the Mexican possessions, and bordering on the territory occupied by the
Indian tribes within her limits. After detailing the force necessary for
these objects, it is believed a sufficient number of troops will remain
to afford security and protection to our Indian frontiers in the West
and Northwest and to occupy with sufficient garrisons the posts on our
northern and Atlantic borders.

I have no reason at present to believe that any increase of the number
of regiments or corps will be required during a period of peace.


WASHINGTON, _August 3, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I communicate herewith a report from the Secretary of War, together with
the accompanying documents, in compliance with the resolution of the
Senate of the 24th July, 1848, requesting the President "to transmit to
the Senate the proceedings of the two courts of inquiry in the case of
Major-General Pillow, the one commenced and terminated in Mexico, and
the other commenced in Mexico and terminated in the United States."


WASHINGTON, _August 5, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I nominate Andrew J. Donelson, of Tennessee, to be envoy extraordinary
and minister plenipotentiary of the United States to the Federal
Government of Germany.

In submitting this nomination I transmit, for the information of the
Senate, an official dispatch received from the consul of the United
States at Darmstadt, dated July 10, 1848. I deem it proper also to state
that no such diplomatic agent as that referred to by the consul has been
appointed by me. Mr. Deverre, the person alluded to, is unknown to me
and has no authority to represent this Government in any capacity


WASHINGTON, _August 5, 1848_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

I communicate herewith a report from the Secretary of War, together with
the accompanying documents, in compliance with a resolution of the House
of Representatives of the 17th of July, 1848, requesting the President
to communicate to the House of Representatives "a copy of the
proceedings of the court of inquiry in Mexico touching the matter which
led to the dismissal from the public service of Lieutenants Joseph S.
Pendee and George E.B. Singletary, of the North Carolina regiment of
volunteers, and all the correspondence between the War Department and
Generals Taylor and Wool in relation to the same."


WASHINGTON, _August 8, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

In reply to the resolution of the Senate of the 7th instant, requesting
the President to inform that body "whether he has any information that
any citizen or citizens of the United States is or are now preparing or
intending to prepare within the United States an expedition to
revolutionize by force any part of the Republic of Mexico, or to assist
in so doing, and, if he has, what is the extent of such preparation, and
whether he has or is about to take any steps to arrest the same," I have
to state that the Executive is not in possession of any information of
the character called for by the resolution.

The late treaty of peace with Mexico has been and will be faithfully
observed on our part.


WASHINGTON, _August 8, 1848_.

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

It affords me satisfaction to communicate herewith, for the information
of Congress, copies of a decree adopted by the National Assembly of
France in response to the resolution of the Congress of the United
States passed on the 13th of April last, "tendering the congratulations
of the American to the French people upon the success of their recent
efforts to consolidate the principles of liberty in a republican form of


WASHINGTON, _August 10, 1848_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I communicate herewith a report of the Secretary of the Navy, together
with the accompanying documents, in answer to a resolution of the Senate
of the 18th July, 1848, requesting the President to communicate to that
body "any information which may be in the possession of the Executive
relating to the seizure or capture of the American ship _Admittance_ on
the coast of California by a vessel of war of the United States, and
whether any, and what, proceedings have occurred in regard to said
vessel or her cargo, and to furnish the Senate with copies of all
documents, papers, and communications in the possession of the Executive
relating to the same."


WASHINGTON, _August 10, 1848_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

I communicate herewith reports from the Secretary of the Treasury and
the Secretary of War, together with the accompanying documents, in
answer to a resolution of the House of Representatives of the 17th of
July, 1848, requesting the President to inform that body what amount of
public moneys had been respectively paid to Lewis Cass and Zachary
Taylor from the time of their first entrance into the public service up
to this time, distinguishing between regular and extra compensation;
that he also state what amount of extra compensation has been claimed by
either; the items composing the same; when filed; when and by whom
allowed; if disallowed, when and by whom; the reasons for such
disallowance; and whether or not any items so disallowed were
subsequently presented for payment, and, if allowed, when and by whom.


WASHINGTON, _August 14, 1848_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

When the President has given his official sanction to a bill which has
passed Congress, usage requires that he shall notify the House in which
it originated of that fact. The mode of giving this notification has
been by an oral message delivered by his private secretary.

Having this day approved and signed an act entitled "An act to establish
the Territorial government of Oregon," I deem it proper, under the
existing circumstances, to communicate the fact in a more solemn form.
The deeply interesting and protracted discussions which have taken place
in both Houses of Congress and the absorbing interest which the subject
has excited throughout the country justify, in my judgment, this
departure from the form of notice observed in other cases. In this
communication with a coordinate branch of the Government, made proper by
the considerations referred to, I shall frankly and without reserve
express the reasons which have constrained me not to withhold my
signature from the bill to establish a government over Oregon, even
though the two territories of New Mexico and California are to be left
for the present without governments. None doubt that it is proper to
establish a government in Oregon. Indeed, it has been too long delayed.
I have made repeated recommendations to Congress to this effect. The
petitions of the people of that distant region have been presented to
the Government, and ought not to be disregarded. To give to them a
regularly organized government and the protection of our laws, which, as
citizens of the United States, they claim, is a high duty on our part,
and one which we are bound to perform, unless there be controlling
reasons to prevent it.

In the progress of all governments questions of such transcendent
importance occasionally arise as to cast in the shade all those of a
mere party character. But one such question can now be agitated in this
country, and this may endanger our glorious Union, the source of our
greatness and all our political blessings. This question is slavery.
With the slaveholding States this does not embrace merely the rights of
property, however valuable, but it ascends far higher, and involves the
domestic peace and security of every family.

The fathers of the Constitution, the wise and patriotic men who laid the
foundation of our institutions, foreseeing the danger from this quarter,
acted in a spirit of compromise and mutual concession on this dangerous
and delicate subject, and their wisdom ought to be the guide of their
successors. Whilst they left to the States exclusively the question of
domestic slavery within their respective limits, they provided that
slaves who might escape into other States not recognizing the
institution of slavery shall be "delivered up on the claim of the party
to whom such service or labor may be due."

Upon this foundation the matter rested until the Missouri question

In December, 1819, application was made to Congress by the people of the
Missouri Territory for admission into the Union as a State. The
discussion upon the subject in Congress involved the question of
slavery, and was prosecuted with such violence as to produce excitements
alarming to every patriot in the Union. But the good genius of
conciliation, which presided at the birth of our institutions, finally
prevailed, and the Missouri compromise was adopted. The eighth section
of the act of Congress of the 6th of March, 1820, "to authorize the
people of the Missouri Territory to form a constitution and State
government," etc., provides:

That in all that territory ceded by France to the United States under
the name of Louisiana which lies north of 36 degrees 30 minutes north
latitude, not included within the limits of the State contemplated by
this act, slavery and involuntary servitude, otherwise than in the
punishment of crimes, whereof the parties shall have been duly
convicted, shall be, and is hereby, forever prohibited: _Provided
always_, That any person escaping into the same from whom labor or
service is lawfully claimed in any State or Territory of the United
States, such fugitive may be lawfully reclaimed and conveyed to the
person claiming his or her labor or service as aforesaid.

This compromise had the effect of calming the troubled waves and
restoring peace and good will throughout the States of the Union.

The Missouri question had excited intense agitation of the public mind,
and threatened to divide the country into geographical parties,
alienating the feelings of attachment which each portion of our Union
should bear to every other. The compromise allayed the excitement,
tranquilized the popular mind, and restored confidence and fraternal
feelings. Its authors were hailed as public benefactors.

I do not doubt that a similar adjustment of the questions which now
agitate the public mind would produce the same happy results. If the
legislation of Congress on the subject of the other Territories shall
not be adopted in a spirit of conciliation and compromise, it is
impossible that the country can be satisfied or that the most disastrous
consequences shall fail to ensue.

When Texas was admitted into the Union, the same spirit of compromise
which guided our predecessors in the admission of Missouri a quarter of
a century before prevailed without any serious opposition. The joint
resolution for annexing Texas to the United States, approved March 1,
1845, provides that--

Such States as may be formed out of that portion of said territory lying
south of 36 degrees 30 minutes north latitude, commonly known as the
Missouri compromise line, shall be admitted into the Union with or
without slavery, as the people of each State asking admission may
desire; and in such State or States as shall be formed out of said
territory north of the Missouri compromise line slavery or involuntary
servitude (except for crime) shall be prohibited.

The Territory of Oregon lies far north of 36 degrees 30 minutes, the
Missouri and Texas compromise line. Its southern boundary is the
parallel of 42 degrees, leaving the intermediate distance to be 330
geographical miles. And it is because the provisions of this bill are
not inconsistent with the laws of the Missouri compromise, if extended
from the Rio Grande to the Pacific Ocean, that I have not felt at
liberty to withhold my sanction. Had it embraced territories south of
that compromise, the question presented for my consideration would have
been of a far different character, and my action upon it must have
corresponded with my convictions.

Ought we now to disturb the Missouri and Texas compromises? Ought we at
this late day, in attempting to annul what has been so long established
and acquiesced in, to excite sectional divisions and jealousies, to
alienate the people of different portions of the Union from each other,
and to endanger the existence of the Union itself?

From the adoption of the Federal Constitution, during a period of sixty
years, our progress as a nation has been without example in the annals
of history. Under the protection of a bountiful Providence, we have
advanced with giant strides in the career of wealth and prosperity. We
have enjoyed the blessings of freedom to a greater extent than any other
people, ancient or modern, under a Government which has preserved order
and secured to every citizen life, liberty, and property. We have now
become an example for imitation to the whole world. The friends of
freedom in every clime point with admiration to our institutions. Shall
we, then, at the moment when the people of Europe are devoting all their
energies in the attempt to assimilate their institutions to our own,
peril all our blessings by despising the lessons of experience and
refusing to tread in the footsteps which our fathers have trodden? And
for what cause would we endanger our glorious Union? The Missouri
compromise contains a prohibition of slavery throughout all that vast
region extending twelve and a half degrees along the Pacific, from the
parallel of 36 degrees 30 minutes to that of 49 degrees, and east from
that ocean to and beyond the summit of the Rocky Mountains. Why, then,
should our institutions be endangered because it is proposed to submit
to the people of the remainder of our newly acquired territory lying
south of 36 degrees 30 minutes, embracing less than four degrees of
latitude, the question whether, in the language of the Texas compromise,
they "shall be admitted [as a State] into the Union with or without
slavery." Is this a question to be pushed to such extremities by excited
partisans on the one side or the other, in regard to our newly acquired
distant possessions on the Pacific, as to endanger the Union of thirty
glorious States, which constitute our Confederacy? I have an abiding
confidence that the sober reflection and sound patriotism of the people
of all the States will bring them to the conclusion that the dictate of
wisdom is to follow the example of those who have gone before us, and
settle this dangerous question on the Missouri compromise, or some other
equitable compromise which would respect the rights of all and prove
satisfactory to the different portions of the Union.

Holding as a sacred trust the Executive authority for the whole Union,
and bound to guard the rights of all, I should be constrained by a sense
of duty to withhold my official sanction from any measure which would
conflict with these important objects.

I can not more appropriately close this message than by quoting from the
Farewell Address of the Father of his Country. His warning voice can
never be heard in vain by the American people. If the spirit of prophecy
had distinctly presented to his view more than a half century ago the
present distracted condition of his country, the language which he then
employed could not have been more appropriate than it is to the present
occasion. He declared:

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.

* * * * *

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

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.



[Footnote 20: Pocket veto.]

WASHINGTON, _December 15, 1847_.

_To the House of Representatives_:

On the last day of the last session of Congress a bill entitled "An act
to provide for continuing certain works in the Territory of Wisconsin,
and for other purposes," which had passed both Houses, was presented to
me for my approval. I entertained insuperable objections to its becoming
a law, but the short period of the session which remained afforded me no
sufficient opportunity to prepare my objections and communicate them
with the bill to the House of Representatives, in which it originated.
For this reason the bill was retained, and I deem it proper now to state
my objections to it.

Although from the title of the bill it would seem that its main object
was to make provision for continuing certain works already commenced in
the Territory of Wisconsin, it appears on examination of its provisions
that it contains only a single appropriation of $6,000 to be applied
within that Territory, while it appropriates more than half a million of
dollars for the improvement of numerous harbors and rivers lying within,
the limits and jurisdiction of several of the States of the Union.

At the preceding session of Congress it became my duty to return with my
objections to the House in which it originated a bill making similar
appropriations and involving like principles, and the views then
expressed remain unchanged.

The circumstances under which this heavy expenditure of public money was
proposed were of imposing weight in determining upon its expediency.
Congress had recognized the existence of war with Mexico, and to
prosecute it to "a speedy and successful termination" had made
appropriations exceeding our ordinary revenues. To meet the emergency
and provide for the expenses of the Government, a loan of $23,000,000
was authorized at the same session, which has since been negotiated. The
practical effect of this bill, had it become a law, would have been to
add the whole amount appropriated by it to the national debt. It would,
in fact, have made necessary an additional loan to that amount as
effectually as if in terms it had required the Secretary of the Treasury
to borrow the money therein appropriated. The main question in that
aspect is whether it is wise, while all the means and credit of the
Government are needed to bring the existing war to an honorable close,
to impair the one and endanger the other by borrowing money to be
expended in a system of internal improvements capable of an expansion
sufficient to swallow up the revenues not only of our own country, but
of the civilized world? It is to be apprehended that by entering upon
such a career at this moment confidence at home and abroad in the wisdom
and prudence of the Government would be so far impaired as to make it
difficult, without an immediate resort to heavy taxation, to maintain
the public credit and to preserve the honor of the nation and the glory
of our arms in prosecuting the existing war to a successful conclusion.
Had this bill become a law, it is easy to foresee that largely increased
demands upon the Treasury would have been made at each succeeding
session of Congress for the improvements of numerous other harbors,
bays, inlets, and rivers of equal importance with those embraced by its
provisions. Many millions would probably have been added to the
necessary amount of the war debt, the annual interest on which must also
have been borrowed, and finally a permanent national debt been fastened
on the country and entailed on posterity.

The policy of embarking the Federal Government in a general system of
internal improvements had its origin but little more than twenty years
ago. In a very few years the applications to Congress for appropriations
in furtherance of such objects exceeded $200,000,000. In this alarming
crisis President Jackson refused to approve and sign the Maysville road
bill, the Wabash River bill, and other bills of similar character. His
interposition put a check upon the new policy of throwing the cost of
local improvements upon the National Treasury, preserved the revenues of
the nation for their legitimate objects, by which he was enabled to
extinguish the then existing public debt and to present to an admiring
world the unprecedented spectacle in modern times of a nation free from
debt and advancing to greatness with unequaled strides under a
Government which was content to act within its appropriate sphere in
protecting the States and individuals in their own chosen career of
improvement and of enterprise. Although the bill under consideration
proposes no appropriation ior a road or canal, it is not easy to
perceive the difference in principle or mischievous tendency between
appropriations for making roads and digging canals and appropriations to
deepen rivers and improve harbors. All are alike within the limits and
jurisdiction of the States, and rivers and harbors alone open an abyss
of expenditure sufficient to swallow up the wealth of the nation and
load it with a debt which may fetter its energies and tax its industry
for ages to come.

The experience of several of the States, as well as that of the United
States, during the period that Congress exercised the power of
appropriating the public money for internal improvements is full of
eloquent warnings. It seems impossible, in the nature of the subject, as
connected with local representation, that the several objects presented
for improvement shall be weighed according to their respective merits
and appropriations confined to those whose importance would justify a
tax on the whole community to effect their accomplishment.

In some of the States systems of internal improvements have been
projected, consisting of roads and canals, many of which, taken
separately, were not of sufficient public importance to justify a tax on
the entire population of the State to effect their construction, and yet
by a combination of local interests, operating on a majority of the
legislature, the whole have been authorized and the States plunged into
heavy debts. To an extent so ruinous has this system of legislation been
carried in some portions of the Union that the people have found it
necessary to their own safety and prosperity to forbid their
legislatures, by constitutional restrictions, to contract public debts
for such purposes without their immediate consent.

If the abuse of power has been so fatal in the States, where the systems
of taxation are direct and the representatives responsible at short
periods to small masses of constituents, how much greater danger of
abuse is to be apprehended in the General Government, whose revenues are
raised by indirect taxation and whose functionaries are responsible to
the people in larger masses and for longer terms.

Regarding only objects of improvement of the nature of those embraced in
this bill, how inexhaustible we shall find them. Let the imagination run
along our coast from the river St. Croix to the Rio Grande and trace
every river emptying into the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico to its source;
let it coast along our lakes and ascend all their tributaries; let it
pass to Oregon and explore all its bays, inlets, and streams; and then
let it raise the curtain of the future and contemplate the extent of
this Republic and the objects of improvement it will embrace as it
advances to its high destiny, and the mind will be startled at the
immensity and danger of the power which the principle of this bill

Already our Confederacy consists of twenty-nine States. Other States may
at no distant period be expected to be formed on the west of our present
settlements. We own an extensive country in Oregon, stretching many
hundreds of miles from east to west and seven degrees of latitude from
south to north. By the admission of Texas into the Union we have
recently added many hundreds of miles to our seacoast. In all this vast
country, bordering on the Atlantic and Pacific, there are many thousands
of bays, inlets, and rivers equally entitled to appropriations for their
improvement with the objects embraced in this bill.

We have seen in our States that the interests of individuals or
neighborhoods, combining against the general interest, have involved
their governments in debts and bankruptcy; and when the system prevailed
in the General Government, and was checked by President Jackson, it had
begun to be considered the highest merit in a member of Congress to be
able to procure appropriations of public money to be expended within his
district or State, whatever might be the object. We should be blind to
the experience of the past if we did not see abundant evidences that if
this system of expenditure is to be indulged in combinations of
individual and local interests will be found strong enough to control
legislation, absorb the revenues of the country, and plunge the
Government into a hopeless indebtedness.

What is denominated a harbor by this system does not necessarily mean a
bay, inlet, or arm of the sea on the ocean or on our lake shores, on the
margin of which may exist a commercial city or town engaged in foreign
or domestic trade, but is made to embrace waters, where there is not
only no such city or town, but no commerce of any kind. By it a bay or
sheet of shoal water is called a _harbor_, and appropriations demanded
from Congress to deepen it with a View to draw commerce to it or to
enable individuals to build up a town or city on its margin upon
speculation and for their own private advantage.

What is denominated a river which may be improved in the system is
equally undefined in its meaning. It may be the Mississippi or it may be
the smallest and most obscure and unimportant stream bearing the name of
river which is to be found in any State in the Union.

Such a system is subject, moreover, to be perverted to the
accomplishment of the worst of political purposes. During the few years
it was in full operation, and which immediately preceded the veto of
President Jackson of the Maysville road bill, instances were numerous of
public men seeking to gain popular favor by holding out to the people
interested in particular localities the promise of large disbursements
of public money. Numerous reconnoissances and surveys were made during
that period for roads and canals through many parts of the Union, and
the people in the vicinity of each were led to believe that their
property would be enhanced in value and they themselves be enriched by
the large expenditures which they were promised by the advocates of the
system should be made from the Federal Treasury in their neighborhood.
Whole sections of the country were thus sought to be influenced, and the
system was fast becoming one not only of profuse and wasteful
expenditure, but a potent political engine.

If the power to improve a harbor be admitted, it is not easy to perceive
how the power to deepen every inlet on the ocean or the lakes and make
harbors where there are none can be denied. If the power to clear out or
deepen the channel of rivers near their mouths be admitted, it is not
easy to perceive how the power to improve them to their fountain head
and make them navigable to their sources can be denied. Where shall the
exercise of the power, if it be assumed, stop? Has Congress the power
when an inlet is deep enough to admit a schooner to deepen it still
more, so that it will admit ships of heavy burden, and has it not the
power when an inlet will admit a boat to make it deep enough to admit a
schooner? May it improve rivers deep enough already to float ships and
steamboats, and has it no power to improve those which are navigable
only for flatboats and barges? May the General Government exercise power
and jurisdiction over the soil of a State consisting of rocks and sand
bars in the beds of its rivers, and may it not excavate a canal around
its waterfalls or across its lands for precisely the same object?

Giving to the subject the most serious and candid consideration of which
my mind is capable, I can not perceive any intermediate grounds. The
power to improve harbors and rivers for purposes of navigation, by
deepening or clearing out, by dams and sluices, by locking or canalling,
must be admitted without any other limitation than the discretion of
Congress, or it must be denied altogether. If it be admitted, how broad
and how susceptible of enormous abuses is the power thus vested in the
General Government! There is not an inlet of the ocean or the Lakes, not
a river, creek, or streamlet within the States, which is not brought for
this purpose within the power and jurisdiction of the General

Speculation, disguised under the cloak of public good, will call on
Congress to deepen shallow inlets, that it may build up new cities on
their shores, or to make streams navigable which nature has closed by
bars and rapids, that it may sell at a profit its lands upon their
banks. To enrich neighborhoods by spending within them the moneys of the
nation will be the aim and boast of those who prize their local
interests above the good of the nation, and millions upon millions will
be abstracted by tariffs and taxes from the earnings of the whole people
to foster speculation and subserve the objects of private ambition.

Such a system could not be administered with any approach to equality
among the several States and sections of the Union. There is no equality
among them in the objects of expenditure, and if the funds were
distributed according to the merits of those objects some would be
enriched at the expense of their neighbors. But a greater practical evil
would be found in the art and industry by which appropriations would be
sought and obtained. The most artful and industrious would be the most
successful. The true interests of the country would be lost sight of in
an annual scramble for the contents of the Treasury, and the Member of
Congress who could procure the largest appropriations to be expended in
his district would claim the reward of victory from his enriched
constituents. The necessary consequence would be sectional discontents
and heartburnings, increased taxation, and a national debt never to be

In view of these portentous consequences, I can not but think that this
course of legislation should be arrested, even were there nothing to
forbid it in the fundamental laws of our Union. This conclusion is
fortified by the fact that the Constitution itself indicates a process
by which harbors and rivers within the States may be improved--a process
not susceptible of the abuses necessarily to flow from the assumption of
the power to improve them by the General Government, just in its
operation, and actually practiced upon, without complaint or
interruption, during more than thirty years from the organization of the
present Government.

The Constitution provides that "no State shall, without the consent of
Congress, lay any duty of tonnage." With the "consent" of Congress, such
duties may be levied, collected, and expended by the States. We are not
left in the dark as to the objects of this reservation of power to the
States. The subject was fully considered by the Convention that framed
the Constitution. It appears in Mr. Madison's report of the proceedings
of that body that one object of the reservation was that the States
should not be restrained from laying duties of tonnage for the purpose
of clearing harbors. Other objects were named in the debates, and among
them the support of seamen. Mr. Madison, treating on this subject in the
Federalist, declares that--

The restraint on the power of the States over imports and exports is
enforced by all the arguments which prove the necessity of submitting
the regulation of trade to the Federal councils. It is needless,
therefore, to remark further on this head than that the manner in which
the restraint is qualified seems well calculated at once to secure to
the States a reasonable discretion in providing for the conveniency of
their imports and exports, and to the United States a reasonable check
against the abuse of this discretion.

The States may lay tonnage duties for clearing harbors, improving
rivers, or for other purposes, but are restrained from abusing the
power, because before such duties can take effect the "consent" of
Congress must be obtained. Here is a safe provision for the improvement
of harbors and rivers in the reserved powers of the States and in the
aid they may derive from duties of tonnage levied with the consent of
Congress. Its safeguards are, that both the State legislatures and
Congress have to concur in the act of raising the funds; that they are
in every instance to be levied upon the commerce of those ports which
are to profit by the proposed improvement; that no question of
conflicting power or jurisdiction is involved; that the expenditure,
being in the hands of those who are to pay the money and be immediately
benefited, will be more carefully managed and more productive of good
than if the funds were drawn from the National Treasury and disbursed by
the officers of the General Government; that such a system will carry
with it no enlargement of Federal power and patronage, and leave the
States to be the sole judges of their own wants and interests, with only
a conservative negative in Congress upon any abuse of the power which
the States may attempt.

Under this wise system the improvement of harbors and rivers was
commenced, or rather continued, from the organization of the Government
under the present Constitution. Many acts were passed by the several
States levying duties of tonnage, and many were passed by Congress
giving their consent to those acts. Such acts have been passed by
Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North
Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, and have been sanctioned by the
consent of Congress. Without enumerating them all, it may be instructive
to refer to some of them, as illustrative of the mode of improving
harbors and rivers in the early periods of our Government, as to the
constitutionality of which there can be no doubt.

In January, 1790, the State of Rhode Island passed a law levying a
tonnage duty on vessels arriving in the port of Providence, "for the
purpose of clearing and deepening the channel of Providence River and
making the same more navigable."

On the 2d of February, 1798, the State of Massachusetts passed a law
levying a tonnage duty on all vessels, whether employed in the foreign
or coasting trade, which might enter into the Kennebunk River, for the
improvement of the same by "rendering the passage in and out of said
river less difficult and dangerous."

On the 1st of April, 1805, the State of Pennsylvania passed a law
levying a tonnage duty on vessels, "to remove the obstructions to the
navigation of the river Delaware below the city of Philadelphia."

On the 23d of January, 1804, the State of Virginia passed a law levying
a tonnage duty on vessels, "for improving the navigation of James

On the 22d of February, 1826, the State of Virginia passed a law levying
a tonnage duty on vessels, "for improving the navigation of James River
from Warwick to Rocketts landing."

On the 8th of December, 1824, the State of Virginia passed a law levying
a tonnage duty on vessels, "for improving the navigation of Appomattox
River from Pocahontas Bridge to Broadway."

In November, 1821, the State of North Carolina passed a law levying a
tonnage duty on vessels, "for the purpose of opening an inlet at the
lower end of Albemarle Sound, near a place called Nags Head, and
improving the navigation of said sound, with its branches;" and in
November, 1828, an amendatory law was passed.

On the 21st of December, 1804, the State of South Carolina passed a law
levying a tonnage duty, for the purpose of "building a marine hospital
in the vicinity of Charleston," and on the 17th of December, 1816,
another law was passed by the legislature of that State for the
"maintenance of a marine hospital."

On the 10th of February, 1787, the State of Georgia passed a law levying
a tonnage duty on all vessels entering into the port of Savannah, for
the purpose of "clearing" the Savannah River of "wrecks and other
obstructions" to the navigation.

On the 12th of December, 1804, the State of Georgia passed a law levying
a tonnage duty on vessels, "to be applied to the payment of the fees of
the harbor master and health officer of the ports of Savannah and St.

In April, 1783, the State of Maryland passed a law laying a tonnage duty
on vessels, for the improvement of the "basin" and "harbor" of Baltimore
and the "river Patapsco."

On the 26th of December, 1791, the State of Maryland passed a law
levying a tonnage duty on vessels, for the improvement of the "harbor
and port of Baltimore."

On the 28th of December, 1793, the State of Maryland passed a law
authorizing the appointment of a health officer for the port of
Baltimore, and laying a tonnage duty on vessels to defray the expenses.

Congress has passed many acts giving its "consent" to these and other
State laws, the first of which is dated in 1790 and the last in 1843. By
the latter act the "consent" of Congress was given to the law of the
legislature of the State of Maryland laying a tonnage duty on vessels
for the improvement of the harbor of Baltimore, and continuing it in
force until the 1st day of June, 1850. I transmit herewith copies of
such of the acts of the legislatures of the States on the subject, and
also the acts of Congress giving its "consent" thereto, as have been

That the power was constitutionally and rightfully exercised in these
cases does not admit of a doubt.

The injustice and inequality resulting from conceding the power to both
Governments is illustrated by several of the acts enumerated. Take that
for the improvement of the harbor of Baltimore. That improvement is paid
for exclusively by a tax on the commerce of that city, but if an
appropriation be made from the National Treasury for the improvement of
the harbor of Boston it must be paid in part out of taxes levied on the
commerce of Baltimore. The result is that the commerce of Baltimore pays
the full cost of the harbor improvement designed for its own benefit,
and in addition contributes to the cost of all other harbor and river
improvements in the Union. The facts need but be stated to prove the
inequality and injustice which can not but flow from the practice
embodied in this bill. Either the subject should be left as it was
during the first third of a century, or the practice of levying tonnage
duties by the States should be abandoned altogether and all harbor and
river improvements made under the authority of the United States, and by
means of direct appropriations. In view not only of the constitutional
difficulty, but as a question of policy, I am clearly of opinion that
the whole subject should be left to the States, aided by such tonnage
duties on vessels navigating their waters as their respective
legislatures may think proper to propose and Congress see fit to
sanction. This "consent" of Congress would never be refused in any case
where the duty proposed to be levied by the State was reasonable and
where the object of improvement was one of importance. The funds
required for the improvement of harbors and rivers may be raised in this
mode, as was done in the earlier periods of the Government, and thus
avoid a resort to a strained construction of the Constitution not
warranted by its letter. If direct appropriations be made of the money
in the Federal Treasury for such purposes, the expenditures will be
unequal and unjust. The money in the Federal Treasury is paid by a tax
on the whole people of the United States, and if applied to the purposes
of improving harbors and rivers it will be partially distributed and be
expended for the advantage of particular States, sections, or localities
at the expense of others.

By returning to the early and approved construction of the Constitution
and to the practice under it this inequality and injustice will be
avoided and at the same time all the really important improvements be
made, and, as our experience has proved, be better made and at less cost
than they would be by the agency of officers of the United States. The
interests benefited by these improvements, too, would bear the cost
of making them, upon the same principle that the expenses of the
Post-Office establishment have always been defrayed by those who derive
benefits from it. The power of appropriating money from the Treasury for
such improvements was not claimed or exercised for more than thirty
years after the organization of the Government in 1789, when a more
latitudinous construction was indicated, though it was not broadly
asserted and exercised until 1825. Small appropriations were first made
in 1820 and 1821 for surveys. An act was passed on the 3d of March,
1823, authorizing the President to "cause an examination and survey to
be made of the obstructions between the harbor of Gloucester and the
harbor of Squam, in the State of Massachusetts," and of "the entrance of
the harbor of the port of Presque Isle, in Pennsylvania," with a view to
their removal, and a small appropriation was made to pay the necessary
expenses. This appears to have been the commencement of harbor
improvements by Congress, thirty-four years after the Government went
into operation under the present Constitution. On the 30th of April,
1824, an act was passed making an appropriation of $30,000, and
directing "surveys and estimates to be made of the routes of such roads
and canals" as the President "may deem of national importance in a
commercial or military point of view or necessary for the transportation
of the mails." This act evidently looked to the adoption of a general
system of internal improvements, to embrace roads and canals as well
as harbors and rivers. On the 26th May, 1824, an act was passed making
appropriations for "deepening the channel leading into the harbor of
Presque Isle, in the State of Pennsylvania," and to "repair Plymouth
Beach, in the State of Massachusetts, and thereby prevent the harbor
at that place from being destroyed."

President Monroe yielded his approval to these measures, though he
entertained, and had, in a message to the House of Representatives on
the 4th of May, 1822, expressed, the opinion that the Constitution had
not conferred upon Congress the power to "adopt and execute a system of
internal improvements." He placed his approval upon the ground, not that
Congress possessed the power to "adopt and execute" such a system by
virtue of any or all of the enumerated grants of power in the
Constitution, but upon the assumption that the power to make
appropriations of the public money was limited and restrained only by
the discretion of Congress. In coming to this conclusion he avowed that
"in the more early stage of the Government" he had entertained a
different opinion. He avowed that his first opinion had been that "as
the National Government is a Government of limited powers, it has no
right to expend money except in the performance of acts authorized by
the other specific grants, according to a strict construction of their
powers," and that the power to make appropriations gave to Congress no
discretionary authority to apply the public money to any other purposes
or objects except to "carry into effect the powers contained in the
other grants." These sound views, which Mr. Monroe entertained "in the
early stage of the Government," he gave up in 1822, and declared that--

The right of appropriation is nothing more than a right to apply the
public money to this or that purpose. It has no incidental power, nor
does it draw after it any consequences of that kind. All that Congress
could do under it in the case of internal improvements would be to
appropriate the money necessary to make them. For every act requiring
legislative sanction or support the State authority must be relied on.
The condemnation of the land, if the proprietors should refuse to sell
it, the establishment of tumpikes and tolls, and the protection of the
work when finished must be done by the State. To these purposes the
powers of the General Government are believed to be utterly incompetent.

But it is impossible to conceive on what principle the power of
appropriating public money when in the Treasury can be construed to
extend to objects for which the Constitution does not authorize Congress
to levy taxes or imposts to raise money. The power of appropriation is
but the consequence of the power to raise money; and the true inquiry is
whether Congress has the right to levy taxes for the object over which
power is claimed.

During the four succeeding years embraced by the Administration of
President Adams the power not only to appropriate money, but to apply
it, under the direction and authority of the General Government, as well
to the construction of roads as to the improvement of harbors and
rivers, was fully asserted and exercised.

Among other acts assuming the power was one passed on the 20th of May,
1826, entitled "An act for improving certain harbors and the navigation
of certain rivers and creeks, and for authorizing surveys to be made of
certain bays, sounds, and rivers therein mentioned." By that act large
appropriations were made, which were to be "applied, under the direction
of the President of the United States," to numerous improvements
in ten of the States. This act, passed thirty-seven years after
the organisation of the present Government, contained the first
appropriation ever made for the improvement of a navigable river,
unless it be small appropriations for examinations and surveys in 1820.
During the residue of that Administration many other appropriations of
a similar character were made, embracing roads, rivers, harbors, and
canals, and objects claiming the aid of Congress multiplied without

This was the first breach effected in the barrier which the universal
opinion of the framers of the Constitution had for more than thirty
years thrown in the way of the assumption of this power by Congress.
The general mind of Congress and the country did not appreciate the
distinction taken by President Monroe between the right to appropriate
money for an object and the right to apply and expend it without the
embarrassment and delay of applications to the State governments.
Probably no instance occurred in which such an application was made, and
the flood gates being thus hoisted the principle laid down by him was
disregarded, and applications for aid from the Treasury, virtually to
make harbors as well as improve them, clear out rivers, cut canals, and
construct roads, poured into Congress in torrents until arrested by the
veto of President Jackson. His veto of the Maysville road bill was
followed up by his refusal to sign the "Act making appropriations for
building light-houses, light-boats, beacons, and monuments, placing
buoys, improving harbors, and directing surveys;" "An act authorizing
subscriptions for stock in the Louisville and Portland Canal Company;"
"An act for the improvement of certain harbors and the navigation of
certain rivers;" and, finally, "An act to improve the navigation of
the Wabash River." In his objections to the act last named he says:

The desire to embark the Federal Government in works of internal
improvement prevailed in the highest degree during the first session of
the first Congress that I had the honor to meet in my present situation.
When the bill authorizing a subscription on the part of the United
States for stock in the Maysville and Lexington Tumpike Company passed
the two Houses, there had been reported by the Committees of Internal
Improvements bills containing appropriations for such objects, inclusive
of those for the Cumberland road and for harbors and light-houses, to
the amount of $106,000,000. In this amount was included authority to
the Secretary of the Treasury to subscribe for the stock of different
companies to a great extent, and the residue was principally for the
direct construction of roads by this Government, in addition to these
projects, which had been presented to the two Houses under the sanction
and recommendation of their respective Committees on Internal
Improvements, there were then still pending before the committees and in
memorials to Congress presented but not referred different projects for
works of a similar character, the expense of which can not be estimated
with certainty, but must have exceeded $100,000,000.

Thus, within the brief period of less than ten years after the
commencement of internal improvements by the General Government the sum
asked for from the Treasury for various projects amounted to more than
$200,000,000. President Jackson's powerful and disinterested appeals to
his country appear to have put down forever the assumption of power to
make roads and cut canals, and to have checked the prevalent disposition
to bring all rivers in any degree navigable within the control of the
General Government. But an immense field for expending the public money
and increasing the power and patronage of this Government was left open
in the concession of even a limited power of Congress to improve harbors
and rivers--a field which millions will not fertilize to the
satisfaction of those local and speculating interests by which these
projects are in general gotten up. There can not be a just and equal
distribution of public burdens and benefits under such a system, nor can
the States be relieved from the danger of fatal encroachment, nor the
United States from the equal danger of consolidation, otherwise than by
an arrest of the system and a return to the doctrines and practices
which prevailed during the first thirty years of the Government.

How forcibly does the history of this subject illustrate the tendency of
power to concentration in the hands of the General Government. The power
to improve their own harbors and rivers was clearly reserved to the
States, who were to be aided by tonnage duties levied and collected by
themselves, with the consent of Congress. For thirty-four years
improvements were carried on under that system, and so careful was
Congress not to interfere, under any implied power, with the soil or
jurisdiction of the States that they did not even assume the power to
erect lighthouses or build piers without first purchasing the ground,
with the consent of the States, and obtaining jurisdiction over it.
At length, after the lapse of thirty-three years, an act is passed
providing for the examination of certain obstructions at the mouth of
one or two harbors almost unknown. It is followed by acts making small
appropriations for the removal of those obstructions. The obstacles
interposed by President Monroe, after conceding the power to
appropriate, were soon swept away. Congress virtually assumed
jurisdiction of the soil and waters of the States, without their
consent, for the purposes of internal improvement, and the eyes of eager
millions were turned from the State governments to Congress as the
fountain whose golden streams were to deepen their harbors and rivers,
level their mountains, and fill their valleys with canals. To what
consequences this assumption of power was rapidly leading is shown by
the veto messages of President Jackson, and to what end it is again
tending is witnessed by the provisions of this bill and bills of similar

In the proceedings and debates of the General Convention which formed
the Constitution and of the State conventions which adopted it nothing
is found to countenance the idea that the one intended to propose or the
others to concede such a grant of power to the General Government as the
building up and maintaining of a system of internal improvements within
the States necessarily implies. Whatever the General Government may
constitutionally create, it may lawfully protect. If it may make a road
upon the soil of the States, it may protect it from destruction or
injury by penal laws. So of canals, rivers, and harbors. If it may put
a dam in a river, it may protect that dam from removal or injury, in
direct opposition to the laws, authorities, and people of the State in
which it is situated. If it may deepen a harbor, it may by its own laws
protect its agents, and contractors from being driven from their work
even by the laws and authorities of the State. The power to make a road
or canal or to dig up the bottom of a harbor or river implies a right in
the soil of the State and a jurisdiction over it, for which it would be
impossible to find any warrant.

The States were particularly jealous of conceding to the General
Government any right of jurisdiction over their soil, and in the
Constitution restricted the exclusive legislation of Congress to such
places as might be "purchased with the consent of the States in which
the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, dockyards, and
other needful buildings." That the United States should be prohibited
from purchasing lands within the States without their consent, even for
the most essential purposes of national defense, while left at liberty
to purchase or seize them for roads, canals, and other improvements of
immeasurably less importance, is not to be conceived.

A proposition was made in the Convention to provide for the appointment
of a "Secretary of Domestic Affairs," and make it his duty, among other
things, "to attend to the opening of roads and navigation and the
facilitating communications through the United States." It was referred
to a committee, and that appears to have been the last of it. On a
subsequent occasion a proposition was made to confer on Congress the
power to "provide for the cutting of canals when deemed necessary,"
which was rejected by the strong majority of eight States to three.
Among the reasons given for the rejection of this proposition, it was
urged that "the expense in such cases will fall on the United States
and the benefits accrue to the places where the canals may be cut."

During the consideration of this proposition a motion was made to
enlarge the proposed power for "cutting canals" into a power "to grant
charters of incorporation when the interest of the United States might
require and the legislative provisions of the individual States may be
incompetent;" and the reason assigned by Mr. Madison for the proposed
enlargement of the power was that it would "secure an easy communication
between the States, which the free intercourse now to be opened seemed
to call for. The political obstacles being removed, a removal of the
natural ones, as far as possible, ought to follow."

The original proposition and all the amendments were rejected, after
deliberate discussion, not on the ground, as so much of that discussion
as has been preserved indicates, that no direct grant was necessary,
but because it was deemed inexpedient to grant it at all. When it is
considered that some of the members of the Convention, who afterwards
participated in the organization and administration of the Government,
advocated and practiced upon a very liberal construction of the
Constitution, grasping at many high powers as implied in its various
provisions, not one of them, it is believed, at that day claimed the
power to make roads and canals, or improve rivers and harbors, or
appropriate money for that purpose. Among our early statesmen of the
strict-construction class the opinion was universal, when the subject
was first broached, that Congress did not possess the power, although
some of them thought it desirable.

President Jefferson, in his message to Congress in 1806, recommended an
amendment of the Constitution, with a view to apply an anticipated
surplus in the Treasury "to the great purposes of the public education,
roads, rivers, canals, and such other objects of public improvement as
it may be thought proper to add to the constitutional enumeration of
Federal powers." And he adds:

I suppose an amendment to the Constitution, by consent of the States,
necessary, because the objects now recommended are not among those
enumerated in the Constitution, and to which it permits the public
moneys to be applied.

In 1825 he repeated, in his published letters, the opinion that no such
power has been conferred upon Congress.

President Madison, in a message to the House of Representatives of the
3d of March, 1817, assigning his objections to a bill entitled "An act
to set apart and pledge certain funds for internal improvements,"
declares that--

"The power to regulate commerce among the several States" can not
include a power to construct roads and canals and to _improve the
navigation of water courses_ in order to facilitate, promote, and
secure such a commerce without a latitude of construction departing
from the ordinary import of the terms, strengthened by the known
inconveniences which doubtless led to the grant of this remedial
power to Congress.

President Monroe, in a message to the House of Representatives of the
4th of May, 1822, containing his objections to a bill entitled "An act
for the preservation and repair of the Cumberland road," declares:

Commerce between independent powers or communities is universally
regulated by duties and imposts. It was so regulated by the States
before the adoption of this Constitution, equally in respect to each
other and to foreign powers. The goods and vessels employed in the trade
are the only subjects of regulation. It can act on none other. A power,
then, to impose such duties and imposts in regard to foreign nations
and to prevent any on the trade between the States was the only power

If we recur to the causes which produced the adoption of this
Constitution, we shall find that injuries resulting from the regulation
of trade by the States respectively and the advantages anticipated from
the transfer of the power to Congress were among those which had the
most weight. Instead of acting as a nation in regard to foreign powers,
the States individually had commenced a system of restraint on each
other whereby the interests of foreign powers were promoted at their
expense. If one State imposed high duties on the goods or vessels of a
foreign power to countervail the regulations of such power, the next
adjoining States imposed lighter duties to invite those articles into
their ports, that they might be transferred thence into the other
States, securing the duties to themselves. This contracted policy in
some of the States was soon counteracted by others. Restraints were
immediately laid on such commerce by the suffering States; and thus had
grown up a state of affairs disorderly and unnatural, the tendency of
which was to destroy the Union itself and with it all hope of realizing
those blessings which we had anticipated from the glorious Revolution
which had been so recently achieved. From this deplorable dilemma, or,
rather, certain ruin, we were happily rescued by the adoption of the

Among the first and most important effects of this great Revolution
was the complete abolition of this pernicious policy. The States
were brought together by the Constitution, as to commerce, into one
community, equally in regard to foreign nations and each other. The
regulations that were adopted regarded us in both respects as one
people. The duties and imposts that were laid on the vessels and
merchandise of foreign nations were all uniform throughout the United
States, and in the intercourse between the States themselves no duties
of any kind were imposed other than between different ports and
counties within the same State.

This view is supported by a series of measures, all of a marked
character, preceding the adoption of the Constitution. As early as the
year 1781 Congress recommended it to the States to vest in the United
States a power to levy a duty of 5 per cent on all goods imported from
foreign countries into the United States for the term of fifteen years.
In 1783 this recommendation, with alterations as to the kind of duties
and an extension of this term to twenty-five years, was repeated and
more earnestly urged. In 1784 it was recommended to the States to
authorize Congress to prohibit, under certain modifications, the
importation of goods from foreign powers into the United States for
fifteen years. In 1785 the consideration of the subject was resumed,
and a proposition presented in a new form, with an address to the
States explaining fully the principles on which a grant of the power to
regulate trade was deemed indispensable. In 1786 a meeting took place
at Annapolis of delegates from several of the States on this subject,
and on their report a convention was formed at Philadelphia the ensuing
year from all the States, to whose deliberations we are indebted for
the present Constitution.

In none of these measures was the subject of internal improvement
mentioned or even glanced at. Those of 1784, 1785, 1786, and 1787,
leading step by step to the adoption of the Constitution, had in view
only the obtaining of a power to enable Congress to regulate trade with
foreign powers. It is manifest that the regulation of trade with the
several States was altogether a secondary object, suggested by and
adopted in connection with the other. If the power necessary to this
system of improvement is included under either branch of this grant,
I should suppose that it was the first rather than the second. The
pretension to it, however, under that branch has never been set up.
In support of the claim under the second no reason has been assigned
which appears to have the least weight.

Such is a brief history of the origin, progress, and consequences of
a system which for more than thirty years after the adoption of the
Constitution was unknown. The greatest embarrassment upon the subject
consists in the departure which has taken place from the early
construction of the Constitution and the precedents which are found in
the legislation of Congress in later years. President Jackson, in his
veto of the Wabash River bill, declares that "to inherent embarrassments
have been added others resulting from the course of our legislation
concerning it." In his vetoes on the Maysville road bill, the Rockville
road bill, the Wabash River bill, and other bills of like character he
reversed the precedents which existed prior to that time on the subject
of internal improvements. When our experience, observation, and
reflection have convinced us that a legislative precedent is either
unwise or unconstitutional, it should not be followed.

No express grant of this power is found in the Constitution. Its
advocates have differed among themselves as to the source from which it
is derived as an incident. In the progress of the discussions upon this
subject the power to regulate commerce seems now to be chiefly relied
upon, especially in reference to the improvement of harbors and rivers.

In relation to the regulation of commerce, the language of the grant in
the Constitution is:

Congress shall have power to regulate commerce with foreign nations,
and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes.

That to "regulate commerce" does not mean to make a road, or dig a
canal, or clear out a river, or deepen a harbor would seem to be obvious
to the common understanding. To "regulate" admits or affirms the
preexistence of the thing to be regulated. In this case it presupposes
the existence of commerce, and, of course, the means by which and the
channels through which commerce is carried on. It confers no creative
power; it only assumes control over that which may have been brought
into existence through other agencies, such as State legislation and the
industry and enterprise of individuals. If the definition of the word
"regulate" is to include the provision of means to carry on commerce,
then have Congress not only power to deepen harbors, clear out rivers,
dig canals, and make roads, but also to build ships, railroad cars, and
other vehicles, all of which are necessary to commerce. There is no
middle ground. If the power to regulate can be legitimately construed
into a power to create or facilitate, then not only the bays and
harbors, but the roads and canals and all the means of transporting
merchandise among the several States, are put at the disposition of
Congress. This power to regulate commerce was construed and exercised
immediately after the adoption of the Constitution, and has been
exercised to the present day, by prescribing general rules by which
commerce should be conducted. With foreign nations it has been regulated
by treaties defining the rights of citizens and subjects, as well as by
acts of Congress imposing duties and restrictions embracing vessels,
seamen, cargoes, and passengers. It has been regulated among the States
by acts of Congress relating to the coasting trade and the vessels
employed therein, and for the better security of passengers in vessels
propelled by steam, and by the removal of all restrictions upon internal
trade. It has been regulated, with the Indian tribes by our intercourse
laws, prescribing the manner in which it shall be carried on. Thus each
branch of this grant of power was exercised soon after the adoption of
the Constitution, and has continued to be exercised to the present day.
If a more extended construction be adopted, it is impossible for the
human mind to fix on a limit to the exercise of the power other than the
will and discretion of Congress. It sweeps into the vortex of national
power and jurisdiction not only harbors and inlets, rivers and little
streams, but canals, turnpikes, and railroads--every species of
improvement which can facilitate or create trade and intercourse "with
foreign nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian

Should any great object of improvement exist in our widely extended
country which can not be effected by means of tonnage duties levied by
the States with the concurrence of Congress, it is safer and wiser to
apply to the States in the mode prescribed by the Constitution for an
amendment of that instrument whereby the powers of the General
Government may be enlarged, with such limitations and restrictions as
experience has shown to be proper, than to assume and exercise a power
which has not been granted, or which may be regarded as doubtful in the
opinion of a large portion of our constituents. This course has been
recommended successively by Presidents Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and
Jackson, and I fully concur with them in opinion. If an enlargement of
power should be deemed proper, it will unquestionably be granted by the
States; if otherwise, it will be withheld; and in either case their
decision should be final. In the meantime I deem it proper to add that
the investigation of this subject has impressed me more strongly than
ever with the solemn conviction that the usefulness and permanency of
this Government and the happiness of the millions over whom it spreads
its protection will be best promoted by carefully abstaining from the
exercise of all powers not clearly granted by the Constitution.





Whereas a treaty of peace, friendship, limits, and settlement between
the United States of America and the Mexican Republic was concluded and
signed at the city of Guadalupe Hidalgo on the 2d day of February, 1848,
which treaty, as amended by the Senate of the United States, and being
in the English and Spanish languages, is word for word as follows:

[Here follows the treaty.]

And whereas the said treaty, as amended, has been duly ratified on both
parts, and the respective ratifications of the same were exchanged at
Queretaro on the 30th day of May last by Ambrose H. Sevier and Nathan
Clifford, commissioners on the part of the Government of the United
States, and by Senor Don Luis de la Rosa, minister of relations of the
Mexican Republic, on the part of that Government:

Now, therefore, be it known that I, James K. Polk, President of the
United States of America, have caused the said treaty to be made public,
to the end that the same and every clause and article thereof may be
observed and fulfilled with good faith by the United States and the
citizens thereof.

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of
the United States to be affixed.


Done at the city of Washington, this 4th day of July, 1848, and of the
Independence of the United States the seventy-third.


By the President:
_Secretary of State_.



WAR DEPARTMENT, Adjutant-General's Office,

_Washington, February 24, 1848_.

I. The following orders of the President of the United States and
Secretary of War announce to the Army the death of the illustrious
ex-President John Quincy Adams:


WASHINGTON, _February 24, 1848_.

It has pleased Divine Providence to call hence a great and patriotic
citizen. John Quincy Adams is no more. At the advanced age of more than
fourscore years, he was suddenly stricken from his seat in the House of
Representatives by the hand of disease on the 21st, and expired in the
Capitol a few minutes after 7 o'clock on the evening of the 23d of
February, 1848.

He had for more than half a century filled the most important public
stations, and among them that of President of the United States. The
two Houses of Congress, of one of which he was a venerable and most
distinguished member, will doubtless prescribe appropriate ceremonies to
be observed as a mark of respect for the memory of this eminent citizen.

The nation mourns his loss; and as a further testimony of respect for
his memory I direct that all the executive offices at Washington be
placed in mourning and that all business be suspended during this day
and to-morrow.


WAR DEPARTMENT, _February 24, 1848_.

The President of the United States with deep regret announces to the
Army the death of John Quincy Adams, our eminent and venerated

While occupying his seat as a member of the House of Representatives, on
the 21st instant he was suddenly prostrated by disease, and on the 23d
expired, without having been removed from the Capitol. He had filled
many honorable and responsible stations in the service of his country,
and among them that of President of the United States; and he closed his
long and eventful life in the actual discharge of his duties as one of
the Representatives of the people.

From sympathy with his relatives and the American people for his loss
and from respect for his distinguished public services, the President
orders that funeral honors shall be paid to his memory at each of the
military stations.

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

_Secretary of War_.

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

The national flag will be displayed at half-staff.

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

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

By order:



WASHINGTON, _December 5, 1848_.

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


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