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

Part 6 out of 11


WASHINGTON, _December 6, 1842_.

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

We have continued reason to express our profound gratitude to the Great
Creator of All Things for numberless benefits conferred upon us as a
people. Blessed with genial seasons, the husbandman has his garners
filled with abundance, and the necessaries of life, not to speak of its
luxuries, abound in every direction. While in some other nations steady
and industrious labor can hardly find the means of subsistence, the
greatest evil which we have to encounter is a surplus of production
beyond the home demand, which seeks, and with difficulty finds, a
partial market in other regions. The health of the country, with partial
exceptions, has for the past year been well preserved, and under their
free and wise institutions the United States are rapidly advancing
toward the consummation of the high destiny which an overruling
Providence seems to have marked out for them. Exempt from domestic
convulsion and at peace with all the world, we are left free to consult
as to the best means of securing and advancing the happiness of the
people. Such are the circumstances under which you now assemble in your
respective chambers and which should lead us to unite in praise and
thanksgiving to that great Being who made us and who preserves us as
a nation.

I congratulate you, fellow-citizens, on the happy change in the aspect
of our foreign affairs since my last annual message. Causes of complaint
at that time existed between the United States and Great Britain which,
attended by irritating circumstances, threatened most seriously the
public peace. The difficulty of adjusting amicably the questions at
issue between the two countries was in no small degree augmented by the
lapse of time since they had their origin. The opinions entertained by
the Executive on several of the leading topics in dispute were frankly
set forth in the message at the opening of your late session. The
appointment of a special minister by Great Britain to the United States
with power to negotiate upon most of the points of difference indicated
a desire on her part amicably to adjust them, and that minister was met
by the Executive in the same spirit which had dictated his mission.
The treaty consequent thereon having been duly ratified by the two
Governments, a copy, together with the correspondence which accompanied
it, is herewith communicated. I trust that whilst you may see in it
nothing objectionable, it may be the means of preserving for an
indefinite period the amicable relations happily existing between the
two Governments. The question of peace or war between the United States
and Great Britain is a question of the deepest interest, not only to
themselves, but to the civilized world, since it is scarcely possible
that a war could exist between them without endangering the peace of
Christendom. The immediate effect of the treaty upon ourselves will be
felt in the security afforded to mercantile enterprise, which, no longer
apprehensive of interruption, adventures its speculations in the most
distant seas, and, freighted with the diversified productions of every
land, returns to bless our own. There is nothing in the treaty which in
the slightest degree compromits the honor or dignity of either nation.
Next to the settlement of the boundary line, which must always be a
matter of difficulty between states as between individuals, the question
which seemed to threaten the greatest embarrassment was that connected
with the African slave trade.

By the tenth article of the treaty of Ghent it was expressly declared

Whereas the traffic in slaves is irreconcilable with the principles
of humanity and justice, and whereas both His Majesty and the United
States are desirous of continuing their efforts to promote its entire
abolition, it is hereby agreed that both the contracting parties
shall use their best endeavors to accomplish so desirable an object.

In the enforcement of the laws and treaty stipulations of Great Britain
a practice had threatened to grow up on the part of its cruisers of
subjecting to visitation ships sailing under the American flag, which,
while it seriously involved our maritime rights, would subject to
vexation a branch of our trade which was daily increasing, and which
required the fostering care of Government. And although Lord Aberdeen
in his correspondence with the American envoys at London expressly
disclaimed all right to detain an American ship on the high seas, even
if found with a cargo of slaves on board, and restricted the British
pretension to a mere claim to visit and inquire, yet it could not well
be discerned by the Executive of the United States how such visit and
inquiry could be made without detention on the voyage and consequent
interruption to the trade. It was regarded as the right of search
presented only in a new form and expressed in different words, and
I therefore felt it to be my duty distinctly to declare in my annual
message to Congress that no such concession could be made, and that the
United States had both the will and the ability to enforce their own
laws and to protect their flag from being used for purposes wholly
forbidden by those laws and obnoxious to the moral censure of the world.
Taking the message as his letter of instructions, our then minister at
Paris felt himself required to assume the same ground in a remonstrance
which he felt it to be his duty to present to Mr. Guizot, and through
him to the King of the French, against what has been called the
"quintuple treaty;" and his conduct in this respect met with the
approval of this Government. In close conformity with these views the
eighth article of the treaty was framed, which provides "that each
nation shall keep afloat in the African seas a force not less than
80 guns, to act separately and apart, under instructions from their
respective Governments, and for the enforcement of their respective laws
and obligations." From this it will be seen that the ground assumed
in the message has been fully maintained at the same time that the
stipulations of the treaty of Ghent are to be carried out in good faith
by the two countries, and that all pretense is removed for interference
with our commerce for any purpose whatever by a foreign government.
While, therefore, the United States have been standing up for the
freedom of the seas, they have not thought proper to make that a pretext
for avoiding a fulfillment of their treaty stipulations or a ground
for giving countenance to a trade reprobated by our laws. A similar
arrangement by the other great powers could not fail to sweep from the
ocean the slave trade without the interpolation of any new principle
into the maritime code. We may be permitted to hope that the example
thus set will be followed by some if not all of them. We thereby also
afford suitable protection to the fair trader in those seas, thus
fulfilling at the same time the dictates of a sound policy and complying
with the claims of justice and humanity.

It would have furnished additional cause for congratulation if the
treaty could have embraced all subjects calculated in future to lead to
a misunderstanding between the two Governments. The Territory of the
United States commonly called the Oregon Territory, lying on the Pacific
Ocean north of the forty-second degree of latitude, to a portion of
which Great Britain lays claim, begins to attract the attention of our
fellow-citizens, and the tide of population which has reclaimed what was
so lately an unbroken wilderness in more contiguous regions is preparing
to flow over those vast districts which stretch from the Rocky Mountains
to the Pacific Ocean. In advance of the acquirement of individual rights
to these lands, sound policy dictates that every effort should be
resorted to by the two Governments to settle their respective claims.
It became manifest at an early hour of the late negotiations that any
attempt for the time being satisfactorily to determine those rights
would lead to a protracted discussion, which might embrace in its
failure other more pressing matters, and the Executive did not regard
it as proper to waive all the advantages of an honorable adjustment of
other difficulties of great magnitude and importance because this, not
so immediately pressing, stood in the way. Although the difficulty
referred to may not for several years to come involve the peace of
the two countries, yet I shall not delay to urge on Great Britain the
importance of its early settlement. Nor will other matters of commercial
importance to the two countries be overlooked, and I have good reason to
believe that it will comport with the policy of England, as it does with
that of the United States, to seize upon this moment, when most of the
causes of irritation have passed away, to cement the peace and amity of
the two countries by wisely removing all grounds of probable future

With the other powers of Europe our relations continue on the most
amicable footing. Treaties now existing with them should be rigidly
observed, and every opportunity compatible with the interests of the
United States should be seized upon to enlarge the basis of commercial
intercourse. Peace with all the world is the true foundation of our
policy, which can only be rendered permanent by the practice of equal
and impartial justice to all. Our great desire should be to enter only
into that rivalry which looks to the general good in the cultivation
of the sciences, the enlargement of the field for the exercise of the
mechanical arts, and the spread of commerce--that great civilizer--to
every land and sea. Carefully abstaining from interference in all
questions exclusively referring themselves to the political interests
of Europe, we may be permitted to hope an equal exemption from the
interference of European Governments in what relates to the States
of the American continent.

On the 23d of April last the commissioners on the part of the United
States under the convention with the Mexican Republic of the 11th of
April, 1839, made to the proper Department a final report in relation to
the proceedings of the commission. From this it appears that the total
amount awarded to the claimants by the commissioners and the umpire
appointed under that convention was $2,026,079.68. The arbiter having
considered that his functions were required by the convention to
terminate at the same time with those of the commissioners, returned to
the board, undecided for want of time, claims which had been allowed by
the American commissioners to the amount of $928,620.88. Other claims,
in which the amount sought to be recovered was $3,336,837.05, were
submitted to the board too late for its consideration. The minister of
the United States at Mexico has been duly authorized to make demand for
payment of the awards according to the terms of the convention and the
provisions of the act of Congress of the 12th of June, 1840. He has also
been instructed to communicate to that Government the expectations of
the Government of the United States in relation to those claims which
were not disposed of according to the provisions of the convention,
and all others of citizens of the United States against the Mexican
Government. He has also been furnished with other instructions, to be
followed by him in case the Government of Mexico should not find itself
in a condition to make present payment of the amount of the awards in
specie or its equivalent.

I am happy to be able to say that information which is esteemed
favorable both to a just satisfaction of the awards and a reasonable
provision for other claims has been recently received from Mr. Thompson,
the minister of the United States, who has promptly and efficiently
executed the instructions of his Government in regard to this important

The citizens of the United States who accompanied the late Texan
expedition to Santa Fe, and who were wrongfully taken and held as
prisoners of war in Mexico, have all been liberated.

A correspondence has taken place between the Department of State and
the Mexican minister of foreign affairs upon the complaint of Mexico
that citizens of the United States were permitted to give aid to the
inhabitants of Texas in the war existing between her and that Republic.
Copies of this correspondence are herewith communicated to Congress,
together with copies of letters on the same subject addressed to the
diplomatic corps at Mexico by the American minister and the Mexican
secretary of state.

Mexico has thought proper to reciprocate the mission of the United
States to that Government by accrediting to this a minister of the same
rank as that of the representative of the United States in Mexico. From
the circumstances connected with his mission favorable results are
anticipated from it. It is so obviously for the interest of both
countries as neighbors and friends that all just causes of mutual
dissatisfaction should be removed that it is to be hoped neither will
omit or delay the employment of any practicable and honorable means to
accomplish that end.

The affairs pending between this Government and several others of the
States of this hemisphere formerly under the dominion of Spain have
again within the past year been materially obstructed by the military
revolutions and conflicts in those countries.

The ratifications of the treaty between the United States and the
Republic of Ecuador of the 13th of June, 1839, have been exchanged,
and that instrument has been duly promulgated on the part of this
Government. Copies are now communicated to Congress with a view to
enable that body to make such changes in the laws applicable to our
intercourse with that Republic as may be deemed requisite.

Provision has been made by the Government of Chile for the payment of
the claim on account of the illegal detention of the brig _Warrior_ at
Coquimbo in 1820. This Government has reason to expect that other claims
of our citizens against Chile will be hastened to a final and
satisfactory close.

The Empire of Brazil has not been altogether exempt from those
convulsions which so constantly afflict the neighboring republics.
Disturbances which recently broke out are, however, now understood to
be quieted. But these occurrences, by threatening the stability of the
governments, or by causing incessant and violent changes in them or in
the persons who administer them, tend greatly to retard provisions for a
just indemnity for losses and injuries suffered by individual subjects
or citizens of other states. The Government of the United States will
feel it to be its duty, however, to consent to no delay not unavoidable
in making satisfaction for wrongs and injuries sustained by its own
citizens. Many years having in some cases elapsed, a decisive and
effectual course of proceeding will be demanded of the respective
governments against whom claims have been preferred.

The vexatious, harassing, and expensive war which so long prevailed with
the Indian tribes inhabiting the peninsula of Florida has happily been
terminated, whereby our Army has been relieved from a service of the
most disagreeable character and the Treasury from a large expenditure.
Some casual outbreaks may occur, such as are incident to the close
proximity of border settlers and the Indians, but these, as in all other
cases, may be left to the care of the local authorities, aided when
occasion may require by the forces of the United States. A sufficient
number of troops will be maintained in Florida so long as the remotest
apprehensions of danger shall exist, yet their duties will be limited
rather to the garrisoning of the necessary posts than to the maintenance
of active hostilities. It is to be hoped that a territory so long
retarded in its growth will now speedily recover from the evils incident
to a protracted war, exhibiting in the increased amount of its rich
productions true evidences of returning wealth and prosperity. By the
practice of rigid justice toward the numerous Indian tribes residing
within our territorial limits and the exercise of a parental vigilance
over their interests, protecting them against fraud and intrusion, and
at the same time using every proper expedient to introduce among them
the arts of civilized life, we may fondly hope not only to wean them
from their love of war, but to inspire them with a love for peace and
all its avocations. With several of the tribes great progress in
civilizing them has already been made. The schoolmaster and the
missionary are found side by side, and the remnants of what were once
numerous and powerful nations may yet be preserved as the builders up
of a new name for themselves and their posterity.

The balance in the Treasury on the 1st of January, 1842, exclusive of
the amount deposited with the States, trust funds, and indemnities, was
$230,483.68. The receipts into the Treasury during the three first
quarters of the present year from all sources amount to $26,616,593.78,
of which more than fourteen millions were received from customs and
about one million from the public lands. The receipts for the fourth
quarter are estimated at nearly eight millions, of which four millions
are expected from customs and three millions and a half from loans and
Treasury notes. The expenditures of the first three quarters of the
present year exceed twenty-six millions, and those estimated for the
fourth quarter amount to about eight millions; and it is anticipated
there will be a deficiency of half a million on the 1st of January next,
but that the amount of outstanding warrants (estimated at $800,000) will
leave an actual balance of about $224,000 in the Treasury. Among the
expenditures of this year are more than eight millions for the public
debt and about $600,000 on account of the distribution to the States of
the proceeds of sales of the public lands.

The present tariff of duties was somewhat hastily and hurriedly passed
near the close of the late session of Congress. That it should have
defects can therefore be surprising to no one. To remedy such defects as
may be found to exist in any of its numerous provisions will not fail
to claim your serious attention. It may well merit inquiry whether the
exaction of all duties in cash does not call for the introduction of a
system which has proved highly beneficial in countries where it has been
adopted. I refer to the warehousing system. The first and most prominent
effect which it would produce would be to protect the market alike
against redundant or deficient supplies of foreign fabrics, both of
which in the long run are injurious as well to the manufacturer as the
importer. The quantity of goods in store being at all times readily
known, it would enable the importer with an approach to accuracy to
ascertain the actual wants of the market and to regulate himself
accordingly. If, however, he should fall into error by importing an
excess above the public wants, he could readily correct its evils by
availing himself of the benefits and advantages of the system thus
established. In the storehouse the goods imported would await the demand
of the market and their issues would be governed by the fixed principles
of demand and supply. Thus an approximation would be made to a
steadiness and uniformity of price, which if attainable would conduce
to the decided advantage of mercantile and mechanical operations.

The apprehension may be well entertained that without something to
ameliorate the rigor of cash payments the entire import trade may fall
into the hands of a few wealthy capitalists in this country and in
Europe. The small importer, who requires all the money he can raise for
investments abroad, and who can but ill afford to pay the lowest duty,
would have to subduct in advance a portion of his funds in order to pay
the duties, and would lose the interest upon the amount thus paid for
all the time the goods might remain unsold, which might absorb his
profits. The rich capitalist, abroad as well as at home, would thus
possess after a short time an almost exclusive monopoly of the import
trade, and laws designed for the benefit of all would thus operate for
the benefit of a few--a result wholly uncongenial with the spirit of our
institutions and antirepublican in all its tendencies. The warehousing
system would enable the importer to watch the market and to select his
own time for offering his goods for sale. A profitable portion of the
carrying trade in articles entered for the benefit of drawback must also
be most seriously affected without the adoption of some expedient to
relieve the cash system. The warehousing system would afford that
relief, since the carrier would have a safe recourse to the public
storehouses and might without advancing the duty reship within some
reasonable period to foreign ports. A further effect of the measure
would be to supersede the system of drawbacks, thereby effectually
protecting the Government against fraud, as the right of debenture would
not attach to goods after their withdrawal from the public stores.

In revising the existing tariff of duties, should you deem it proper to
do so at your present session, I can only repeat the suggestions and
recommendations which upon several occacions I have heretofore felt it
to be my duty to offer to Congress. The great primary and controlling
interest of the American people is union--union not only in the mere
forms of government, forms which may be broken, but union founded in
an attachment of States and individuals for each other. This union in
sentiment and feeling can only be preserved by the adoption of that
course of policy which, neither giving exclusive benefits to some nor
imposing unnecessary burthens upon others, shall consult the interests
of all by pursuing a course of moderation and thereby seeking to
harmonize public opinion, and causing the people everywhere to feel and
to know that the Government is careful of the interests of all alike.
Nor is there any subject in regard to which moderation, connected with a
wise discrimination, is more necessary than in the imposition of duties
on imports. Whether reference be had to revenue, the primary object in
the imposition of taxes, or to the incidents which necessarily flow from
their imposition, this is entirely true. Extravagant duties defeat their
end and object, not only by exciting in the public mind an hostility to
the manufacturing interests, but by inducing a system of smuggling on
an extensive scale and the practice of every manner of fraud upon the
revenue, which the utmost vigilance of Government can not effectually
suppress. An opposite course of policy would be attended by results
essentially different, of which every interest of society, and none more
than those of the manufacturer, would reap important advantages. Among
the most striking of its benefits would be that derived from the general
acquiescence of the country in its support and the consequent permanency
and stability which would be given to all the operations of industry. It
can not be too often repeated that no system of legislation can be wise
which is fluctuating and uncertain. No interest can thrive under it.
The prudent capitalist will never adventure his capital in manufacturing
establishments, or in any other leading pursuit of life, if there
exists a state of uncertainty as to whether the Government will repeal
to-morrow what it has enacted to-day. Fitful profits, however high, if
threatened with a ruinous reduction by a vacillating policy on the part
of Government, will scarcely tempt him to trust the money which he has
acquired by a life of labor upon the uncertain adventure. I therefore,
in the spirit of conciliation, and influenced by no other desire than to
rescue the great interests of the country from the vortex of political
contention, and in the discharge of the high and solemn duties of the
place which I now occupy, recommend moderate duties, imposed with a
wise discrimination as to their several objects, as being not only
most likely to be durable, but most advantageous to every interest
of society.

The report of the Secretary of the War Department exhibits a very
full and satisfactory account of the various and important interests
committed to the charge of that officer. It is particularly gratifying
to find that the expenditures for the military service are greatly
reduced in amount--that a strict system of economy has been introduced
into the service and the abuses of past years greatly reformed. The
fortifications on our maritime frontier have been prosecuted with much
vigor, and at many points our defenses are in a very considerable state
of forwardness. The suggestions in reference to the establishment of
means of communication with our territories on the Pacific and to the
surveys so essential to a knowledge of the resources of the intermediate
country are entitled to the most favorable consideration. While I would
propose nothing inconsistent with friendly negotiations to settle the
extent of our claims in that region, yet a prudent forecast points out
the necessity of such measures as may enable us to maintain our rights.
The arrangements made for preserving our neutral relations on the
boundary between us and Texas and keeping in check the Indians in that
quarter will be maintained so long as circumstances may require. For
several years angry contentions have grown out of the disposition
directed by law to be made of the mineral lands held by the Government
in several of the States. The Government is constituted the landlord,
and the citizens of the States wherein lie the lands are its tenants.
The relation is an unwise one, and it would be much more conducive of
the public interest that a sale of the lands should be made than that
they should remain in their present condition. The supply of the ore
would be more abundantly and certainly furnished when to be drawn from
the enterprise and the industry of the proprietor than under the present

The recommendations of the Secretary in regard to the improvements of
the Western waters and certain prominent harbors on the Lakes merit, and
I doubt not will receive, your serious attention. The great importance
of these subjects to the prosperity of the extensive region referred
to and the security of the whole country in time of war can not escape
observation. The losses of life and property which annually occur
in the navigation of the Mississippi alone because of the dangerous
obstructions in the river make a loud demand upon Congress for the
adoption of efficient measures for their removal.

The report of the Secretary of the Navy will bring you acquainted with
that important branch of the public defenses. Considering the already
vast and daily increasing commerce of the country, apart from the
exposure to hostile inroad of an extended seaboard, all that relates to
the Navy is calculated to excite particular attention. Whatever tends
to add to its efficiency without entailing unnecessary charges upon
the Treasury is well worthy of your serious consideration. It will be
seen that while an appropriation exceeding by more than a million the
appropriations of the current year is asked by the Secretary, yet that
in this sum is proposed to be included $400,000 for the purchase of
clothing, which when once expended will be annually reimbursed by the
sale of the clothes, and will thus constitute a perpetual fund without
any new appropriation to the same object. To this may also be added
$50,000 asked to cover the arrearages of past years and $250,000 in
order to maintain a competent squadron on the coast of Africa; all of
which when deducted will reduce the expenditures nearly within the
limits of those of the current year. While, however, the expenditures
will thus remain very nearly the same as of the antecedent year, it is
proposed to add greatly to the operations of the marine, and in lieu of
only 25 ships in commission and but little in the way of building, to
keep with the same expenditure 41 vessels afloat and to build 12 ships
of a small class.

A strict system of accountability is established and great pains are
taken to insure industry, fidelity, and economy in every department of
duty. Experiments have been instituted to test the quality of various
materials, particularly copper, iron, and coal, so as to prevent fraud
and imposition.

It will appear by the report of the Postmaster-General that the great
point which for several years has been so much desired has during the
current year been fully accomplished. The expenditures of the Department
for current service have been brought within its income without
lessening its general usefulness. There has been an increase of revenue
equal to $166,000 for the year 1842 over that of 1841, without, as it
is believed, any addition having been made to the number of letters and
newspapers transmitted through the mails. The post-office laws have been
honestly administered, and fidelity has been observed in accounting for
and paying over by the subordinates of the Department the moneys which
have been received. For the details of the service I refer you to the

I flatter myself that the exhibition thus made of the condition of the
public administration will serve to convince you that every proper
attention has been paid to the interests of the country by those who
have been called to the heads of the different Departments. The
reduction in the annual expenditures of the Government already
accomplished furnishes a sure evidence that economy in the application
of the public moneys is regarded as a paramount duty.

At peace with all the world, the personal liberty of the citizen
sacredly maintained and his rights secured under political institutions
deriving all their authority from the direct sanction of the people,
with a soil fertile almost beyond example and a country blessed with
every diversity of climate and production, what remains to be done in
order to advance the happiness and prosperity of such a people? Under
ordinary circumstances this inquiry could readily be answered. The best
that probably could be done for a people inhabiting such a country would
be to fortify their peace and security in the prosecution of their
various pursuits by guarding them against invasion from without and
violence from within. The rest for the greater part might be left to
their own energy and enterprise. The chief embarrassments which at the
moment exhibit themselves have arisen from overaction, and the most
difficult task which remains to be accomplished is that of correcting
and overcoming its effects. Between the years 1833 and 1838 additions
were made to bank capital and bank issues, in the form of notes designed
for circulation, to an extent enormously great. The question seemed to
be not how the best currency could be provided, but in what manner the
greatest amount of bank paper could be put in circulation. Thus a vast
amount of what was called money--since for the time being it answered
the purposes of money--was thrown upon the country, an overissue which
was attended, as a necessary consequence, by an extravagant increase of
the prices of all articles of property, the spread of a speculative
mania all over the country, and has finally ended in a general
indebtedness on the part of States and individuals, the prostration of
public and private credit, a depreciation in the market value of real
and personal estate, and has left large districts of country almost
entirely without any circulating medium. In view of the fact that in
1830 the whole banknote circulation within the United States amounted
to but $61,323,898, according to the Treasury statements, and that an
addition had been made thereto of the enormous sum of $88,000,000 in
seven years (the circulation on the 1st of January, 1837, being stated
at $149,185,890), aided by the great facilities afforded in obtaining
loans from European capitalists, who were seized with the same
speculative _mania_ which prevailed in the United States, and the large
importations of funds from abroad--the result of stock sales and
loans--no one can be surprised at the apparent but unsubstantial
state of prosperity which everywhere prevailed over the land; and as
little cause of surprise should be felt at the present prostration
of everything and the ruin which has befallen so many of our
fellow-citizens in the sudden withdrawal from circulation of so large an
amount of bank issues since 1837--exceeding, as is believed, the amount
added to the paper currency for a similar period antecedent to 1837--it
ceases to be a matter of astonishment that such extensive shipwreck
should have been made of private fortunes or that difficulties should
exist in meeting their engagements on the part of the debtor States;
apart from which, if there be taken into account the immense losses
sustained in the dishonor of numerous banks, it is less a matter of
surprise that insolvency should have visited many of our fellow-citizens
than that so many should have escaped the blighting influences of the

In the solemn conviction of these truths and with an ardent desire to
meet the pressing necessities of the country, I felt it to be my duty to
cause to be submitted to you at the commencement of your last session
the plan of an exchequer, the whole power and duty of maintaining which
in purity and vigor was to be exercised by the representatives of the
people and the States, and therefore virtually by the people themselves.
It was proposed to place it under the control and direction of a
Treasury board to consist of three commissioners, whose duty it should
be to see that the law of its creation was faithfully executed and that
the great end of supplying a paper medium of exchange at all times
convertible into gold and silver should be attained. The board thus
constituted was given as much permanency as could be imparted to it
without endangering the proper share of responsibility which should
attach to all public agents. In order to insure all the advantages of a
well-matured experience, the commissioners were to hold their offices
for the respective periods of two, four, and six years, thereby securing
at all times in the management of the exchequer the services of two men
of experience; and to place them in a condition to exercise perfect
independence of mind and action it was provided that their removal
should only take place for actual incapacity or infidelity to the trust,
and to be followed by the President with an exposition of the causes of
such removal, should it occur. It was proposed to establish subordinate
boards in each of the States, under the same restrictions and
limitations of the power of removal, which, with the central board,
should receive, safely keep, and disburse the public moneys. And in
order to furnish a sound paper medium of exchange the exchequer should
retain of the revenues of the Government a sum not to exceed $5,000,000
in specie, to be set apart as required by its operations, and to pay the
public creditor at his own option either in specie or Treasury notes of
denominations not less than $5 nor exceeding $100, which notes should
be redeemed at the several places of issue, and to be receivable at all
times and everywhere in payment of Government dues, with a restraint
upon such issue of bills that the same should not exceed the _maximum_
of $15,000,000. In order to guard against all the hazards incident to
fluctuations in trade, the Secretary of the Treasury was invested with
authority to issue $5,000,000 of Government stock, should the same at
any time be regarded as necessary in order to place beyond hazard the
prompt redemption of the bills which might be thrown into circulation;
thus in fact making the issue of $15,000,000 of exchequer bills rest
substantially on $10,000,000, and keeping in circulation never more than
one and one-half dollars for every dollar in specie. When to this it is
added that the bills are not only everywhere receivable in Government
dues, but that the Government itself would be bound for their ultimate
redemption, no rational doubt can exist that the paper which the
exchequer would furnish would readily enter into general circulation and
be maintained at all times at or above par with gold and silver, thereby
realizing the great want of the age and fulfilling the wishes of the
people. In order to reimburse the Government the expenses of the plan,
it was proposed to invest the exchequer with the limited authority to
deal in bills of exchange (unless prohibited by the State in which an
agency might be situated) having only thirty days to run and resting on
a fair and _bona fide_ basis. The legislative will on this point might
be so plainly announced as to avoid all pretext for partiality or
favoritism. It was furthermore proposed to invest this Treasury agent
with authority to receive on deposit to a limited amount the specie
funds of individuals and to grant certificates therefor to be redeemed
on presentation, under the idea, which is believed to be well founded,
that such certificates would come in aid of the exchequer bills in
supplying a safe and ample paper circulation. Or if in place of the
contemplated dealings in exchange the exchequer should be authorized
not only to exchange its bills for actual deposits of specie, but, for
specie or its equivalent, to sell drafts, charging therefor a small but
reasonable premium, I can not doubt but that the benefits of the law
would be speedily manifested in the revival of the credit, trade, and
business of the whole country. Entertaining this opinion, it becomes my
duty to urge its adoption upon Congress by reference to the strongest
considerations of the public interests, with such alterations in its
details as Congress may in its wisdom see fit to make.

I am well aware that this proposed alteration and amendment of the laws
establishing the Treasury Department has encountered various objections,
and that among others it has been proclaimed a Government bank of
fearful and dangerous import. It is proposed to confer upon it no
extraordinary power. It purports to do no more than pay the debts of the
Government with the redeemable paper of the Government, in which respect
it accomplishes precisely what the Treasury does daily at this time in
issuing to the public creditors the Treasury notes which under law it is
authorized to issue. It has no resemblance to an ordinary bank, as it
furnishes no profits to private stockholders and lends no capital to
individuals. If it be objected to as a Government bank and the objection
be available, then should all the laws in relation to the Treasury be
repealed and the capacity of the Government to collect what is due to
it or pay what it owes be abrogated.

This is the chief purpose of the proposed exchequer, and surely if
in the accomplishment of a purpose so essential it affords a sound
circulating medium to the country and facilities to trade it should be
regarded as no slight recommendation of it to public consideration.
Properly guarded by the provisions of law, it can run into no dangerous
evil, nor can any abuse arise under it but such as the Legislature
itself will be answerable for if it be tolerated, since it is but the
creature of the law and is susceptible at all times of modification,
amendment, or repeal at the pleasure of Congress. I know that it has
been objected that the system would be liable to be abused by the
Legislature, by whom alone it could be abused, in the party conflicts of
the day; that such abuse would manifest itself in a change of the law
which would authorize an excessive issue of paper for the purpose of
inflating prices and winning popular favor. To that it may be answered
that the ascription of such a motive to Congress is altogether
gratuitous and inadmissible. The theory of our institutions would
lead us to a different conclusion. But a perfect security against
a proceeding so reckless would be found to exist in the very nature
of things. The political party which should be so blind to the true
interests of the country as to resort to such an expedient would
inevitably meet with final overthrow in the fact that the moment the
paper ceased to be convertible into specie or otherwise promptly
redeemed it would become worthless, and would in the end dishonor the
Government, involve the people in ruin and such political party in
hopeless disgrace. At the same time, such a view involves the utter
impossibility of furnishing any currency other than that of the precious
metals; for if the Government itself can not forego the temptation of
excessive paper issues what reliance can be placed in corporations upon
whom the temptations of individual aggrandizement would most strongly
operate? The people would have to blame none but themselves for any
injury that might arise from a course so reckless, since their agents
would be the wrongdoers and they the passive spectators.

There can be but three kinds of public currency--first, gold and silver;
second, the paper of State institutions; or, third, a representative of
the precious metals provided by the General Government or under its
authority. The subtreasury system rejected the last in any form, and as
it was believed that no reliance could be placed on the issues of local
institutions for the purposes of general circulation it necessarily and
unavoidably adopted specie as the exclusive currency for its own use;
and this must ever be the case unless one of the other kinds be used.
The choice in the present state of public sentiment lies between an
exclusive specie currency on the one hand and Government issues of some
kind on the other. That these issues can not be made by a chartered
institution is supposed to be conclusively settled. They must be made,
then, directly by Government agents. For several years past they have
been thus made in the form of Treasury notes, and have answered a
valuable purpose. Their usefulness has been limited by their being
transient and temporary; their ceasing to bear interest at given periods
necessarily causes their speedy return and thus restricts their range of
circulation, and being used only in the disbursements of Government they
can not reach those points where they are most required. By rendering
their use permanent, to the moderate extent already mentioned, by
offering no inducement for their return and by exchanging them for coin
and other values, they will constitute to a certain extent the general
currency so much needed to maintain the internal trade of the country.
And this is the exchequer plan so far as it may operate in furnishing
a currency.

I can not forego the occasion to urge its importance to the credit of
the Government in a financial point of view. The great necessity of
resorting to every proper and becoming expedient in order to place the
Treasury on a footing of the highest respectability is entirely obvious.
The credit of the Government may be regarded as the very soul of the
Government itself--a principle of vitality without which all its
movements are languid and all its operations embarrassed. In this spirit
the Executive felt itself bound by the most imperative sense of duty
to submit to Congress at its last session the propriety of making a
specific pledge of the land fund as the basis for the negotiation of
the loans authorized to be contracted. I then thought that such an
application of the public domain would without doubt have placed at the
command of the Government ample funds to relieve the Treasury from the
temporary embarrassments under which it labored. American credit has
suffered a considerable shock in Europe from the large indebtedness
of the States and the temporary inability of some of them to meet the
interest on their debts. The utter and disastrous prostration of the
United States Bank of Pennsylvania had contributed largely to increase
the sentiment of distrust by reason of the loss and ruin sustained by
the holders of its stock, a large portion of whom were foreigners and
many of whom were alike ignorant of our political organization and of
our actual responsibilities.

It was the anxious desire of the Executive that in the effort to
negotiate the loan abroad the American negotiator might be able to
point the money lender to the fund mortgaged for the redemption of
the principal and interest of any loan he might contract, and thereby
vindicate the Government from all suspicion of bad faith or inability to
meet its engagements. Congress differed from the Executive in this view
of the subject. It became, nevertheless, the duty of the Executive to
resort to every expedient in its power to do so.

After a failure in the American market a citizen of high character
and talent was sent to Europe, with no better success; and thus the
mortifying spectacle has been presented of the inability of this
Government to obtain a loan so small as not in the whole to amount to
more than one-fourth of its ordinary annual income, at a time when the
Governments of Europe, although involved in debt and with their subjects
heavily burthened with taxation, readily obtained loans of any amount
at a greatly reduced rate of interest. It would be unprofitable to look
further into this anomalous state of things, but I can not conclude
without adding that for a Government which has paid off its debts of
two wars with the largest maritime power of Europe, and now owing a
debt which is almost next to nothing when compared with its boundless
resources--a Government the strongest in the world, because emanating
from the popular will and firmly rooted in the affections of a great
and free people, and whose fidelity to its engagements has never been
questioned--for such a Government to have tendered to the capitalists of
other countries an opportunity for a small investment in its stock, and
yet to have failed, implies either the most unfounded distrust in its
good faith or a purpose to obtain which the course pursued is the most
fatal which could have been adopted. It has now become obvious to all
men that the Government must look to its own means for supplying its
wants, and it is consoling to know that these means are altogether
adequate for the object. The exchequer, if adopted, will greatly aid
in bringing about this result. Upon what I regard as a well-founded
supposition that its bills would be readily sought for by the public
creditors and that the issue would in a short time reach the maximum of
$15,000,000, it is obvious that $10,000,000 would thereby be added to
the available means of the Treasury without cost or charge. Nor can I
fail to urge the great and beneficial effects which would be produced in
aid of all the active pursuits of life. Its effects upon the solvent
State banks, while it would force into liquidation those of an opposite
character through its weekly settlements, would be highly beneficial;
and with the advantages of a sound currency the restoration of
confidence and credit would follow with a numerous train of blessings.
My convictions are most strong that these benefits would flow from the
adoption of this measure; but if the result should be adverse there is
this security in connection with it--that the law creating it may be
repealed at the pleasure of the Legislature without the slightest
implication of its good faith.

I recommend to Congress to take into consideration the propriety of
reimbursing a fine imposed on General Jackson at New Orleans at the
time of the attack and defense of that city, and paid by him. Without
designing any reflection on the judicial tribunal which imposed the
fine, the remission at this day may be regarded as not unjust or
inexpedient. The voice of the civil authority was heard amidst the
glitter of arms and obeyed by those who held the sword, thereby giving
additional luster to a memorable military achievement. If the laws were
offended, their majesty was fully vindicated; and although the penalty
incurred and paid is worthy of little regard in a pecuniary point of
view, it can hardly be doubted that it would be gratifying to the
war-worn veteran, now in retirement and in the winter of his days, to be
relieved from the circumstances in which that judgment placed him. There
are cases in which public functionaries may be called on to weigh the
public interest against their own personal hazards, and if the civil law
be violated from praiseworthy motives or an overruling sense of public
danger and public necessity punishment may well be restrained within
that limit which asserts and maintains the authority of the law and
the subjection of the military to the civil power. The defense of New
Orleans, while it saved a city from the hands of the enemy, placed the
name of General Jackson among those of the greatest captains of the age
and illustrated one of the brightest pages of our history. Now that the
causes of excitement existing at the time have ceased to operate, it is
believed that the remission of this fine and whatever of gratification
that remission might cause the eminent man who incurred and paid it
would be in accordance with the general feeling and wishes of the
American people.

I have thus, fellow-citizens, acquitted myself of my duty under the
Constitution by laying before you as succinctly as I have been able the
state of the Union and by inviting your attention to measures of much
importance to the country. The executive will most zealously unite its
efforts with those of the legislative department in the accomplishment
of all that is required to relieve the wants of a common constituency
or elevate the destinies of a beloved country.



WASHINGTON CITY, _December 13, 1842_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I hereby communicate to the Senate a letter from the Secretary of the
Navy, with accompanying documents.[80]


[Footnote 80: Communication from Commodore Charles W. Morgan, commanding
the United States naval forces in the Mediterranean, relative to the
adjustment of differences with Morocco; translation of a letter from the
Emperor of Morocco, etc.]

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

WASHINGTON, _December 14, 1842_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit to the Senate a treaty recently concluded with the Chippewa
Indians of the Mississippi and Lake Superior, with communications from
the War Department in relation thereto, and ask the advice and consent
of the Senate to the ratification of the said treaty.


WASHINGTON, _December 14, 1842_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit to the Senate a treaty recently concluded with the Sac and
Fox Indians, with communications from the War Department in relation
thereto, and ask the advice and consent of the Senate to the
ratification of the said treaty.


WASHINGTON, _December 23, 1842_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I have received the resolution of the 22d instant, requesting me
"to inform the Senate of the nature and extent of 'the informal
communications' which took place between the American Secretary of
State and the British special minister during the late negotiations in
Washington City upon the subject of the claims of the United States and
Great Britain to the territory west of the Rocky Mountains," and also to
inform the Senate what were the reasons which prevented "any agreement
upon the subject at present" and which made it "inexpedient to include
that subject among the subjects of formal negotiation."

In my message to Congress at the commencement of the present session,
in adverting to the territory of the United States on the Pacific Ocean
north of the forty-second degree of north latitude, a part of which is
claimed by Great Britain, I remarked that "in advance of the acquirement
of individual rights to these lands sound policy dictates that every
effort should be resorted to by the two Governments to settle their
respective claims," and also stated that I should not delay to urge on
Great Britain the importance of an early settlement. Measures have been
already taken in pursuance of the purpose thus expressed, and under
these circumstances I do not deem it consistent with the public interest
to make any communication on the subject.


WASHINGTON, _December 23, 1842_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I herewith communicate to the Senate a report[81] from the Secretary
of State, in answer to a resolution of the Senate adopted on the 22d


[Footnote 81: Stating that the special minister from Great Britain to
the United States made no proposition, informal or otherwise, to the
negotiator on the part of the United States for the assumption or
guaranty of the State debts by the Government of the United States to
the holders of said debts.]

WASHINGTON, _December 29, 1842_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I herewith transmit to the Senate a report[82] from the Secretary of
State, with accompanying papers, in answer to their resolution of the
27th instant.


[Footnote 82: Transmitting correspondence between the United States
minister at London and the British Government in relation to certain
slaves taken from the wreck of the schooner _Hermosa_ and liberated
by the authorities at Nassau, New Providence.]

WASHINGTON, _December 30, 1842_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

In reply to the resolution of the Senate of the 14th December, I
transmit herewith the accompanying letter[83] from the Secretary of the
Navy and the statement thereto appended from the Bureau of Equipment and


[Footnote 83: Relating to the strength and expense of maintaining the
African Squadron under the late British treaty, the number of guns it
is expected to have afloat in the United States Navy during 1843, and
the estimated expense of the naval establishment for 1843.]

WASHINGTON, _December 30, 1842_.

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

I communicate herewith to Congress copies of a correspondence which has
recently taken place between certain agents of the Government of the
Hawaiian or Sandwich Islands and the Secretary of State.

The condition of those islands has excited a good deal of interest,
which is increasing by every successive proof that their inhabitants are
making progress in civilization and becoming more and more competent to
maintain regular and orderly civil government. They lie in the Pacific
Ocean, much nearer to this continent than the other, and have become an
important place for the refitment and provisioning of American and
European vessels.

Owing to their locality and to the course of the winds which prevail in
this quarter of the world, the Sandwich Islands are the stopping place
for almost all vessels passing from continent to continent across the
Pacific Ocean. They are especially resorted to by the great number of
vessels of the United States which are engaged in the whale fishery
in those seas. The number of vessels of all sorts and the amount of
property owned by citizens of the United States which are found in those
islands in the course of the year are stated probably with sufficient
accuracy in the letter of the agents.

Just emerging from a state of barbarism, the Government of the islands
is as yet feeble, but its dispositions appear to be just and pacific,
and it seems anxious to improve the condition of its people by the
introduction of knowledge, of religious and moral institutions, means
of education, and the arts of civilized life.

It can not but be in conformity with the interest and wishes of the
Government and the people of the United States that this community, thus
existing in the midst of a vast expanse of ocean, should be respected
and all its rights strictly and conscientiously regarded; and this must
also be the true interest of all other commercial states. Far remote
from the dominions of European powers, its growth and prosperity as an
independent state may yet be in a high degree useful to all whose trade
is extended to those regions; while its near approach to this continent
and the intercourse which American vessels have with it, such vessels
constituting five-sixths of all which annually visit it, could not but
create dissatisfaction on the part of the United States at any attempt
by another power, should such attempt be threatened or feared, to take
possession of the islands, colonize them, and subvert the native
Government. Considering, therefore, that the United States possesses so
large a share of the intercourse with those islands, it is deemed not
unfit to make the declaration that their Government seeks, nevertheless,
no peculiar advantages, no exclusive control over the Hawaiian
Government, but is content with its independent existence and anxiously
wishes for its security and prosperity. Its forbearance in this respect
under the circumstances of the very large intercourse of their citizens
with the islands would justify this Government, should events hereafter
arise to require it, in making a decided remonstrance against the
adoption of an opposite policy by any other power. Under the
circumstances I recommend to Congress to provide for a moderate
allowance to be made out of the Treasury to the consul residing there,
that in a Government so new and a country so remote American citizens
may have respectable authority to which to apply for redress in case of
injury to their persons and property, and to whom the Government of the
country may also make known any acts committed by American citizens of
which it may think it has a right to complain.

Events of considerable importance have recently transpired in China.
The military operations carried on against that Empire by the English
Government have been terminated by a treaty, according to the terms of
which four important ports hitherto shut against foreign commerce are
to be open to British merchants, viz, Amoy, Foo-Choo-Foo, Ningpo, and
Chinghai. It can not but be interesting to the mercantile interest of
the United States, whose intercourse with China at the single port
of Canton has already become so considerable, to ascertain whether
these other ports now open to British commerce are to remain shut,
nevertheless, against the commerce of the United States. The treaty
between the Chinese Government and the British commissioner provides
neither for the admission nor the exclusion of the ships of other
nations. It would seem, therefore, that it remains with every other
nation having commercial intercourse with China to seek to make proper
arrangements for itself with the Government of that Empire in this

The importations into the United States from China are known to be
large, having amounted in some years, as will be seen by the annexed
tables, to $9,000,000. The exports, too, from the United States to
China constitute an interesting and growing part of the commerce of the
country. It appears that in the year 1841, in the direct trade between
the two countries, the value of the exports from the United States
amounted to $715,000 in domestic produce and $485,000 in foreign
merchandise. But the whole amount of American produce which finally
reaches China and is there consumed is not comprised in these tables,
which show only the direct trade. Many vessels with American products on
board sail with a primary destination to other countries, but ultimately
dispose of more or less of their cargoes in the port of Canton.

The peculiarities of the Chinese Government and the Chinese character
are well known. An Empire supposed to contain 300,000,000 subjects,
fertile in various rich products of the earth, not without the knowledge
of letters and of many arts, and with large and expensive accommodations
for internal intercourse and traffic, has for ages sought to exclude the
visits of strangers and foreigners from its dominions, and has assumed
for itself a superiority over all other nations. Events appear likely to
break down and soften this spirit of nonintercourse and to bring China
ere long into the relations which usually subsist between civilized
states. She has agreed in the treaty with England that correspondence
between the agents of the two Governments shall be on equal terms--a
concession which it is hardly probable will hereafter be withheld from
other nations.

It is true that the cheapness of labor among the Chinese, their
ingenuity in its application, and the fixed character of their habits
and pursuits may discourage the hope of the opening of any great and
sudden demand for the fabrics of other countries. But experience proves
that the productions of western nations find a market to some extent
among the Chinese; that that market, so far as respects the productions
of the United States, although it has considerably varied in successive
seasons, has on the whole more than doubled within the last ten years;
and it can hardly be doubted that the opening of several new and
important ports connected with parts of the Empire heretofore seldom
visited by Europeans or Americans would exercise a favorable influence
upon the demand for such productions.

It is not understood that the immediate establishment of correspondent
embassies and missions or the permanent residence of diplomatic
functionaries with full powers of each country at the Court of the other
is contemplated between England and China, although, as has been already
observed, it has been stipulated that intercourse between the two
countries shall hereafter be on equal terms. An ambassador or envoy
extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary can only be accredited,
according to the usages of western nations, to the head or sovereign of
the state, and it may be doubtful whether the Court of Pekin is yet
prepared to conform to these usages so far as to receive a minister
plenipotentiary to reside near it.

Being of opinion, however, that the commercial interests of the United
States connected with China require at the present moment a degree of
attention and vigilance such as there is no agent of this Government
on the spot to bestow, I recommend to Congress to make appropriation
for the compensation of a commissioner to reside in China to exercise
a watchful care over the concerns of American citizens and for the
protection of their persons and property, empowered to hold intercourse
with the local authorities, and ready, under instructions from his
Government, should such instructions become necessary and proper
hereafter, to address himself to the high functionaries of the Empire,
or through them to the Emperor himself.

It will not escape the observation of Congress that in order to secure
the important object of any such measure a citizen of much intelligence
and weight of character should be employed on such agency, and that to
secure the services of such an individual a compensation should be made
corresponding with the magnitude and importance of the mission.


WASHINGTON, _December 31, 1842_.

_To the House of Representatives_:

In compliance with your resolution of the 12th of February, 1841,
requesting me to communicate to the House of Representatives the
documents and other information in the possession of the Executive
regarding claims of citizens of the United States on the Government
of Hayti, I now transmit a letter from the Secretary of State and the
accompanying documents.


WASHINGTON, _January 9, 1843_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I have received a resolution of the Senate of the 27th of December, in
the following terms:

_Resolved_, That the President be requested to inform the Senate, if
compatible with the public interest, whether the quintuple treaty
for the suppression of the slave trade has been communicated to the
Government of the United States in any form whatever, and, if so, by
whom, for what purpose, and what answer may have been returned to such
communication. Also to communicate to the Senate all the information
which may have been received by the Government of the United States
going to show that the "_course which this Government might take in
relation to said treaty has excited no small degree of attention and
discussion in Europe_." Also to inform the Senate how far the "_warm
animadversions_" and the "_great political excitement"_ which this
treaty has caused in Europe have any application or reference to the
United States. Also to inform the Senate what danger there was that
"_the laws and the obligations_" of the United States in relation to
the suppression of the slave trade would be "_executed by others_," if
we did not "_remove the pretext and motive for violating our flag and
executing our laws_" by entering into the stipulations for the African
squadron and the remonstrating embassies which are contained in the
eighth and ninth articles of the late British treaty. Also that the
President be requested to communicate to the Senate all the
correspondence with our ministers abroad relating to the foregoing
points of inquiry. Also that the President be requested to communicate
to the Senate all such information upon the negotiation of the African
squadron articles as will show the origin of such articles and the
history and progress of their formation.

I informed the Senate, in the message transmitting the treaty with
England of the 9th of August last, that no application or request had
been made to this Government to become a party to the quintuple treaty.
Agents of the Government abroad, regarding the signature of that treaty
as a political occurrence of some importance, obtained, unofficially,
copies of it, and transmitted those copies to the Department of State,
as other intelligence is communicated for the information of the
Government. The treaty has not been communicated to the Government of
the United States from any other quarter, in any other manner, or for
any other purpose.

The next request expressed in the resolution is in these words:

Also to communicate to the Senate all the information which may have
been received by the Government of the United States going to show that
the "course which this Government might take in relation to said treaty
has excited no small degree of attention and discussion in Europe." Also
to inform the Senate how far the "warm animadversions" and the "great
political excitement" which this treaty has caused in Europe have any
application or reference to the United States.

The words quoted in this part of the resolution appear to be taken from
my message above mentioned. In that communication I said:

No application or request has been made to this Government to become
a party to this treaty, but the course it might take in regard to it
has excited no small degree of attention and discussion in Europe, as
the principle upon which it is founded and the stipulations which it
contains have caused warm animadversions and great political

In my message at the commencement of the present session of Congress
I endeavored to state the principles which this Government supports
respecting the right of search and the immunity of flags. Desirous of
maintaining those principles fully, at the same time that existing
obligations should be fulfilled, I have thought it most consistent
with the honor and dignity of the country that it should execute its
own laws and perform its own obligations by its own means and its own
power. The examination or visitation of the merchant vessels of one
nation by the cruisers of another for any purposes except those known
and acknowledged by the law of nations, under whatever restraints or
regulations it may take place, may lead to dangerous results. It is
far better by other means to supersede any supposed necessity or any
motive for such examination or visit. Interference with a merchant
vessel by an armed cruiser is always a delicate proceeding, apt to
touch the point of national honor as well as to affect the interests
of individuals. It has been thought, therefore, expedient, not only in
accordance with the stipulations of the treaty of Ghent, but at the
same time as removing all pretext on the part of others for violating
the immunities of the American flag upon the seas as they exist and
are defined by the law of nations, to enter into the articles now
submitted to the Senate.

The treaty which I now submit to you proposes no alteration, mitigation,
or modification of the rules of the law of nations. It provides simply
that each of the two Governments shall maintain on the coast of Africa a
sufficient squadron to enforce, separately and respectively, the laws,
rights, and obligations of the two countries for the suppression of the
slave trade.

These opinions were expressed by me officially upon the occasion of
making to the Senate a communication of very great importance. It is not
perceived how the accuracy of this general statement can be doubted by
those who are acquainted with the debates of public bodies in Europe,
the productions of the press, and the other modes by which public
opinion is manifested in an enlightened age. It is not to be supposed
that excited attention to public and national transactions or general
political discussions in Europe on subjects open to all the world are
known only in consequence of private information communicated to the
Government, and feeling a strong persuasion that it would be improper in
the Executive to go into any discussion or argument upon such a subject
with the Senate, I have no further remarks to make upon this part of the

The third inquiry is:

What danger there was that "the laws and the obligations" of the United
States in relation to the suppression of the slave trade would be
"executed by others" if we do not "remove the pretext and motive for
violating our flag and executing our laws."

I have already quoted from the message the entire paragraph to a part of
which this portion of the inquiry is supposed to refer.

As to the danger there was that the laws and the obligations of the
United States in relation to the suppression of the slave trade would
be executed by others if we did not remove the pretext and motive for
violating our flag and provide for executing our laws, I might say that
this depends upon notorious facts and occurrences, of which the evidence
has been in various forms before the country and all the branches of the

When I came to occupy the Executive chair I could not be ignorant
of the numerous complaints which had been made on account of alleged
interruptions of American vessels engaged in lawful commerce on the
coast of Africa by British cruisers on the ground of their being engaged
in the slave trade. I could not be ignorant, at the same time, of the
well-grounded suspicions which pervaded the country that some American
vessels were engaged in that odious and unlawful traffic. There were two
dangers, then, to be guarded against--the one, that this traffic would
continue to be carried on in American ships, and perhaps much increased,
unless some new and vigorous effort should be made for its suppression;
the other, that acquiescence in the capture of American vessels,
notorious slave dealers, by British cruisers might give countenance to
seizures and detentions of vessels lawfully employed on light or
groundless suspicions. And cases had arisen under the administration of
those who preceded me well calculated to show the extent and magnitude
of this latter danger; and believing that very serious consequences
might in time grow out of the obvious tendency and progress of things,
I felt it to be my duty to arrest that progress, to rescue the immunity
of the American flag from the danger which hung over it, and to do this
by recommending such a provision for the execution of our own laws as
should remove all pretense for the interference of others.

Among the occurrences to which I have alluded, it may be useful to
particularize one case.

The schooner _Catharine_, an American vessel owned by citizens of the
United States, was seized on the coast of Africa by the British cruiser
called the _Dolphin_ and brought into the port of New York in the summer
of 1839. Upon being brought into port, Benjamin F. Butler, esq.,
district attorney of the United States for the southern district of
New York, appeared in the district court of the United States for that
district and in the name and behalf of the United States libeled the
schooner, her apparel and furniture, for a violation of the several acts
of Congress passed for the suppression of the slave trade. The schooner
being arrested by the usual process in such cases and possession taken
of her from the hands of the British captors by officers of the United
States, the cause proceeded, and by a decree of the circuit court in
December, 1840, a forfeiture was pronounced. From this decree an appeal
was taken, which is now pending in the Supreme Court of the United

It is true that in another case, that of the _Tigris_, of like general
character, soon after arising, the then Secretary of State, on the 1st
of March, 1841, informed Mr. Fox, the British minister, that "however
strong and unchangeable may be the determination of this Government to
punish any citizens of the United States who violate the laws against
the African slave trade, it will not permit the exercise of any
authority by foreign armed vessels in the execution of those laws."

But it is evident that this general declaration did not relieve the
subject from its difficulties. Vessels of the United States found
engaged in the African slave trade are guilty of piracy under the acts
of Congress. It is difficult to say that such vessels can claim any
interference of the Government in their behalf, into whosesoever hands
they may happen to fall, any more than vessels which should turn general
pirates. Notorious African slave traders can not claim the protection of
the American character, inasmuch as they are acting in direct violation
of the laws of their country and stand denounced by those laws as
pirates. In case of the seizure of such a vessel by a foreign cruiser,
and of her being brought into a port of the United States, what is to
be done with her? Shall she be libeled, prosecuted, and condemned as if
arrested by a cruiser of the United States? If this is to be done, it
is clear that the agency of a foreign power has been instrumental in
executing the laws of the United States. Or, on the other hand, is the
vessel, with all her offenses flagrant upon her, to be released on
account of the agency by which she was seized, discharged of all
penalties, and left at liberty to renew her illegal and nefarious

It appeared to me that the best, if not the only, mode of avoiding these
and other difficulties was by adopting such a provision as is contained
in the late treaty with England.

The Senate asks me for the reasons for entering into the stipulations
for the "remonstrating embassies" contained in the late treaty. Surely
there is no stipulation in the treaty for any "remonstrating embassies,"
or any other embassies, nor any reference or allusion to any such thing.
In this respect all that the treaty provides is in the ninth article and
is in these words:

The parties to this treaty agree that they will unite in all becoming
representations and remonstrances with any and all powers within whose
dominions such markets [for African slaves] are allowed to exist, and
that they will urge upon all such powers the propriety and duty of
closing such markets effectually, at once and forever.

It always gives me sincere pleasure to communicate to both Houses of
Congress anything in my power which may aid them in the discharge of
their high duties and which the public interest does not require to
be withheld. In transmitting the late treaty to the Senate everything
was caused to accompany it which it was supposed could enlighten the
judgment of the Senate upon its various provisions. The views of the
Executive, in agreeing to the eighth and ninth articles, were fully
expressed, and pending the discussion in the Senate every call for
further information was promptly complied with, and nothing kept back
which the Senate desired. Upon this information and upon its own
knowledge of the subject the Senate made up and pronounced its judgment
upon its own high responsibility, and as the result of that judgment the
treaty was ratified, as the Journal shows, by a vote of 39 to 9. The
treaty has thus become the law of the land by the express advice of the
Senate, given in the most solemn manner known to its proceedings. The
fourth request is--

That the President be requested to communicate to the Senate all the
correspondence with our ministers abroad relating to the foregoing
points of inquiry.

If this branch of the resolution were more definite, some parts of
it might perhaps be met without prejudice to the public interest
by extracts from the correspondence referred to. At a future day a
communication may be expected to be made as broad and general as a
proper regard to these interests will admit, but at present I deem any
such communication not to be consistent with the public interest.

The fifth and last is--

That the President be requested to communicate to the Senate all such
information upon the negotiation of the African squadron articles as
will show the origin of such articles and the history and progress of
their formation.

These articles were proposed to the British minister by the Secretary
of State under my express sanction and were acceded to by him and have
since been ratified by both Governments. I might without disrespect
speak of the novelty of inquiring by the Senate into the history and
progress of articles of a treaty through a negotiation which has
terminated, and as the result of which these articles have become the
law of the land by the constitutional advice of the Senate itself. But
I repeat that those articles had their origin in a desire on the part of
the Government of the United States to fulfill its obligations, entered
into by the treaty of Ghent, to do its utmost for the suppression of
the African slave trade, and to accomplish this object by such means as
should not lead to the interruption of the lawful commerce of the United
States or any derogation from the dignity and immunity of their flag.
And I have the satisfaction to believe that both the Executive, in
negotiating the treaty of which these articles form part, and the
Senate, in advising to its ratification, have effected an object
important to the Government and satisfactory to the people.

In conclusion I hope I may be permitted to observe that I have, out of a
profound respect for the Senate, been induced to make this communication
in answer to inquiries some of which at least are believed to be without
precedent in the history of the relations between that body and the
executive department. These inquiries were particularly unexpected to
me at the present moment. As I had been so fortunate as to find my own
views of the expediency of ratifying the late treaty with England
confirmed by a vote of somewhat more than four-fifths of the Senators
present, I have hitherto flattered myself that the motives which
influenced my conduct had been fully appreciated by those who advised
and approved it, and that if a necessity should ever arise for any
special explanation or defense in regard to those motives it could
scarcely be in that assembly itself.


WASHINGTON, _January 18, 1843_.

_To the House of Representatives_:

In compliance with the resolution of the House of Representatives of the
27th ultimo, I now transmit the letter and pamphlet[84] which accompanies


[Footnote 84: Entitled "Acts and Resolutions of the Legislative Council
of the Territory of Florida," passed at its twentieth session, January
3 to March 5, 1842.]

WASHINGTON, _January 23, 1843_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I herewith transmit to the Senate, in answer to their resolution of the
19th instant, reports[85] from the State and War Departments.


[Footnote 85: Relating to a grant of land in Oregon Territory to the
Hudsons Bay Company by the British Government.]

WASHINGTON, _January 23, 1843_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit to the Senate herewith, in answer to their resolution of the
5th instant, a report[86] from the Secretary of State, with accompanying


[Footnote 86: Transmitting correspondence with Great Britain relative to
the destruction of the steamboat _Caroline_ at Schlosser, N.Y., December
29, 1837.]

WASHINGTON, _January 31, 1843_.

_To the House of Representatives_:

In compliance with a resolution of the House of Representatives of the
24th instant, requesting me to communicate answers to certain queries
therein contained respecting instructions given to the commissioners
appointed to adjudicate claims arising under the Cherokee treaty of
1835, I transmit herewith a report from the War Department, accompanied
by a copy of the instructions referred to.


WASHINGTON, _January 31, 1843_.

_To the House of Representatives_:

At the last session of Congress a resolution was passed by the House of
Representatives requesting me to cause to be communicated to the House
"the several reports made to the Department of War by Lieutenant-Colonel
Hitchcock relative to the affairs of the Cherokee Indians, together with
all information communicated by him concerning the frauds he was charged
to investigate; also all facts in the possession of the Executive
relating to the subject."

A resolution of the same import had been passed by the House of
Representatives on the 18th of May last, requiring the Secretary of
War to communicate to the House the same reports and matters. After
consultation with me and under my directions, the Secretary of War
informed the House that the reports referred to relative to the affairs
of the Cherokees contained information and suggestions in reference
to the matters which it was supposed would become the subject of a
negotiation between that Department and the delegates of the Cherokee
Nation. It was stated by him that the nature and subject of the report,
in the opinion of the President and the Department, rendered its
publication at that time inconsistent with the public interest. The
negotiation referred to subsequently took place, and embraced the
matters upon which Lieutenant-Colonel Hitchcock had communicated his
views. That negotiation terminated without the conclusion of any
arrangement. It may, and in all probability will, be renewed. All the
information communicated by Lieutenant-Colonel Hitchcock respecting the
Cherokees--their condition as a nation and their relations to other
tribes--is herewith transmitted. But his suggestions and projects
respecting the anticipated propositions of the delegates and his views
of their personal characters can not in any event aid the legislation of
Congress, and in my opinion the promulgation of them would be unfair and
unjust to him and inconsistent with the public interest, and they are
therefore not transmitted.

The Secretary of War further stated in his answer to the resolution that
the other report referred to in it, relating to the alleged frauds which
Lieutenant-Colonel Hitchcock was charged to investigate, contained such
information as he (Colonel Hitchcock) was enabled to obtain by _ex
parte_ inquiries of various persons whose statements were necessarily
without the sanction of an oath, and which the persons implicated had
had no opportunity to contradict or explain. He expressed the opinion
that to promulgate those statements at that time would be grossly unjust
to those persons and would be calculated to defeat rather than promote
the objects of the inquiry, and he remarked that sufficient opportunity
had not been given to the Department to pursue the investigation or to
call upon the parties affected for explanations or to determine on the
measures proper to be adopted. And he hoped these reasons would be
satisfactory for not transmitting to the House at that time the reports
referred to in its resolution.

It would appear from the report of the Committee on Indian Affairs, to
whom the communication of the Secretary of War was referred, and which
report has been transmitted to me, together with the resolutions of the
House adopted on the recommendation of the committee, and from those
resolutions, that the reasons given by the Secretary were not deemed
satisfactory and that the House of Representatives claims the right to
demand from the Executive and heads of Departments such information as
maybe in their possession relating to "subjects of the deliberations
of the House and within the sphere of its legitimate powers," and that
in the opinion of the House the reports and facts called for by its
resolution of the 18th of May related to subjects of its deliberations
and were within the sphere of its legitimate powers, and should have
been communicated.

If by the assertion of this claim of right to call upon the Executive
for all the information in its possession relating to any subject of the
deliberation of the House, and within the sphere of its legitimate
powers, it is intended to assert also that the Executive is bound to
comply with such call without the authority to exercise any discretion
on its part in reference to the nature of the information required or to
the interests of the country or of individuals to be affected by such
compliance, then do I feel bound, in the discharge of the high duty
imposed upon me "to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of
the United States," to declare in the most respectful manner my entire
dissent from such a proposition. The instrument from which the several
departments of the Government derive their authority makes each
independent of the other in the discharge of their respective functions.
The injunction of the Constitution that the President "shall take care
that the laws be faithfully executed" necessarily confers an authority
commensurate with the obligation imposed to inquire into the manner in
which all public agents perform the duties assigned to them by law. To
be effective these inquiries must often be confidential. They may result
in the collection of truth or of falsehood, or they may be incomplete
and may require further prosecution. To maintain that the President
can exercise no discretion as to the time in which the matters thus
collected shall be promulgated or in respect to the character of
the information obtained would deprive him at once of the means of
performing one of the most salutary duties of his office. An inquiry
might be arrested at its first stage and the officers whose conduct
demanded investigation may be enabled to elude or defeat it. To require
from the Executive the transfer of this discretion to a coordinate
branch of the Government is equivalent to the denial of its possession
by him and would render him dependent upon that branch in the
performance of a duty purely executive.

Nor can it be a sound position that all papers, documents, and
information of every description which may happen by any means to come
into the possession of the President or of the heads of Departments must
necessarily be subject to the call of the House of Representatives
_merely_ because they relate to a subject of the deliberations of the
House, although that subject may be within the sphere of its legitimate
powers. It can not be that the only test is whether the information
relates to a legitimate subject of deliberation. The Executive
Departments and the citizens of this country have their rights and
duties as well as the House of Representatives, and the maxim that the
rights of one person or body are to be so exercised as not to impair
those of others is applicable in its fullest extent to this question.
Impertinence or malignity may seek to make the Executive Departments the
means of incalculable and irremediable injury to innocent parties by
throwing into them libels most foul and atrocious. Shall there be no
discretionary authority permitted to refuse to become the instruments
of such malevolence?

And although information comes through a proper channel to an executive
officer it may often be of a character to forbid its being made public.
The officer charged with a confidential inquiry, and who reports its
result under the pledge of confidence which his appointment implies,
ought not to be exposed individually to the resentment of those whose
conduct may be impugned by the information he collects. The knowledge
that such is to be the consequence will inevitably prevent the
performance of duties of that character, and thus the Government will
be deprived of an important means of investigating the conduct of its

It is certainly no new doctrine in the halls of judicature or of
legislation that certain communications and papers are privileged, and
that the general authority to compel testimony must give way in certain
cases to the paramount rights of individuals or of the Government. Thus
no man can be compelled to accuse himself, to answer any question that
tends to render him infamous, or to produce his own private papers
on any occasion. The communications of a client to his counsel and
the admissions made at the confessional in the course of religious
discipline are privileged communications. In the courts of that country
from which we derive our great principles of individual liberty and the
rules of evidence it is well settled--and the doctrine has been fully
recognized in this country--that a minister of the Crown or the head of
a department can not be compelled to produce any papers or disclose any
transactions relating to the executive functions of the Government which
he declares are confidential or such as the public interest requires
should not be divulged; and the persons who have been the channels of
communication to officers of the State are in like manner protected
from the disclosure of their names. Other instances of privileged
communications might be enumerated if it were deemed necessary. These
principles are as applicable to evidence sought by a legislature as
to that required by a court.

The practice of the Government since its foundation has sanctioned the
principle that there must necessarily be a discretionary authority in
reference to the nature of the information called for by either House
of Congress.

The authority was claimed and exercised by General Washington in 1796.
In 1825 President Monroe declined compliance with a resolution of the
House of Representatives calling for the correspondence between the
Executive Departments of this Government and the officers of the United
States Navy and others at or near the ports of South America on the
Pacific Ocean. In a communication made by the Secretary of War in 1832
to the Committee of the House on the Public Lands, by direction of
President Jackson, he denies the obligation of the Executive to furnish
the information called for and maintains the authority of the President
to exercise a sound discretion in complying with calls of that
description by the House of Representatives or its committees. Without
multiplying other instances, it is not deemed improper to refer to the
refusal of the President at the last session of the present Congress to
comply with a resolution of the House of Representatives calling for
the names of the members of Congress who had applied for offices. As no
further notice was taken in any form of this refusal, it would seem to
be a fair inference that the House itself admitted that there were cases
in which the President had a discretionary authority in respect to the
transmission of information in the possession of any of the Executive

Apprehensive that silence under the claim supposed to be set up in the
resolutions of the House of Representatives under consideration might be
construed as an acquiescence in its soundness, I have deemed it due to
the great importance of the subject to state my views, that a compliance
in part with the resolution may not be deemed a surrender of a necessary
authority of the Executive.

Many of the reasons which existed at the date of the report of the
Secretary of War of June 1, 1842, for then declining to transmit the
report of Lieutenant-Colonel Hitchcock concerning the frauds which he
was charged to investigate have ceased to operate. It has been found
wholly impracticable to pursue the investigation in consequence of the
death and removal out of the country of those who would be called upon
to testify, and in consequence of the want of adequate authority or
means to render it effectual. It could not be conducted without expense.
Congress at its last session prohibited the payment of any account
or charge whatever growing out of or in any way connected with any
commission or inquiry, except military and naval courts-martial and
courts of inquiry, unless special appropriations should be made for the
payment of such accounts and charges. Of the policy of that provision of
law it does not become me to speak, except to say that the institution
of inquiries into the conduct of public agents, however urgent the
necessity for such inquiry may be, is thereby virtually denied to the
Executive, and that if evils of magnitude shall arise in consequence
of the law I take to myself no portion of the responsibility.

In relation to the propriety of directing prosecutions against the
contractors to furnish Indians rations who are charged with improper
conduct, a correspondence has been had between the War Department and
the Solicitor of the Treasury, which is herewith transmitted in a
conviction that such prosecution would be entirely ineffectual.

Under these circumstances I have thought proper to direct that
the report of Lieutenant-Colonel Hitchcock concerning the frauds
which he was charged to investigate be transmitted to the House of
Representatives, and it accordingly accompanies this message. At
the same time, I have to request the House to consider it so far
confidential as not to direct its publication until the appropriate
committee shall have examined it and expressed their opinion whether
a just regard to the character and rights of persons apparently
implicated, but who have not had an opportunity to meet the imputations
on them, does not require that portions at least of the report should
not at present be printed.

This course is adopted by me from a desire to render justice to all and
at the same time avoid even the appearance of a desire to screen any,
and also to prevent the exaggerated estimate of the importance of the
information which is likely to be made from the mere fact of its being

The resolution of the House also calls for "all facts in the possession
of the Executive, from any source, relating to the subject." There are
two subjects specified in the resolution--one "relative to the affairs
of the Cherokee Indians," and another "concerning the frauds he
[Lieutenant-Colonel Hitchcock] was charged to investigate."

All the papers in the War Department or its bureaus relating to the
affairs of the Cherokee Indians, it is believed, have been from time
to time communicated to Congress and are contained in the printed
documents, or are now transmitted, with the exception of those portions
of Lieutenant-Colonel Hitchcock's report hereinbefore mentioned, and
excepting the correspondence with the Cherokee delegates in the
negotiations which took place during the last summer, which are not
supposed to be within the intent of the resolution of the House. For
the same reason a memorial from the Old Settlers, or Western Cherokees,
as they term themselves, recently presented, is not transmitted. If
these or any other public documents should be desired by the House,
a specification of them will enable me to cause them to be furnished
if it should be found proper.

All the papers in the War Office or its bureaus known or supposed to
have any relation to the alleged frauds which Lieutenant-Colonel
Hitchcock was charged to investigate are herewith transmitted.


WASHINGTON, _February 8, 1843_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

I herewith transmit to the House of Representatives, in answer to their
resolution of the 28th ultimo, a report[87] from the Secretary of State.


[Footnote 87: Stating that no information is in possession of the
Government of any negotiation of a treaty, or of any overtures to treat,
for a cession of California by Mexico to England.]

WASHINGTON, _February 9, 1843_.

_To the House of Representatives_:

In order to enable Congress to approve or disapprove the selection of a
site for a Western armory made by the board of commissioners appointed
by me for that purpose pursuant to the act of September 9, 1841, I
transmit herewith their report and proceedings, as required by that act.


WASHINGTON, _February 13, 1843_.

_To the House of Representatives_:

I herewith transmit to the House of Representatives a report made to me
on the 9th instant by the Secretary of the Treasury, on the subject of
the present and prospective condition of the finances.

You will perceive from it that even if the receipts from the various
sources of revenue for the current year shall prove not to have been
overrated and the expenditures be restrained within the estimates, the
Treasury will be exhausted before the close of the year, and that this
will be the case although authority should be given to the proper
Department to reissue Treasury notes. But the state of facts existing at
the present moment can not fail to awaken a doubt whether the amount of
the revenue for the respective quarters of the year will come up to the
estimates, nor is it entirely certain that the expenditures which will
be authorized by Congress may not exceed the aggregate sum which has
hitherto been assumed as the basis of the Treasury calculations.

Of all the duties of the Government, none is more sacred and imperative
than that of making adequate and ample provision for fulfilling with
punctuality its pecuniary engagements and maintaining the public credit
inviolate. Any failure in this respect not produced by unforeseen causes
could only be regarded by our common constituents as a serious neglect
of the public interests. I feel it, therefore, to be an indispensable
obligation, while so much of the session yet remains unexpired as to
enable Congress to give to the subject the consideration which its
great importance demands, most earnestly to call its attention to
the propriety of making further provision for the public service of
the year.

The proper objects of taxation are peculiarly within the discretion of
the Legislature, while it is the duty of the Executive to keep Congress
duly advised of the state of the Treasury and to admonish it of any
danger which there may be ground to apprehend of a failure in the means
of meeting the expenditures authorized by law.

I ought not, therefore, to dissemble my fears that there will be a
serious falling off in the estimated proceeds both of the customs and
the public lands. I regard the evil of disappointment in these respects
as altogether too great to be risked if by any possibility it may be
entirely obviated.

While I am far from objecting, under present circumstances, to the
recommendation of the Secretary that authority be granted him to reissue
Treasury notes as they shall be redeemed, and to other suggestions which
he has made on this subject, yet it appears to me to be worthy of grave
consideration whether more permanent and certain supplies ought not to
be provided. The issue of one note in redemption of another is not the
payment of a debt, which must be made in the end by some form of public

I can not forbear to add that in a country so full of resources,
of such abundant means if they be but judiciously called out, the
revenues of the Government, its credit, and its ability to fulfill all
its obligations ought not to be made dependent on temporary expedients
or on calculations of an uncertain character. The public faith in this
or in all things else ought to be placed beyond question and beyond

The necessity of further and full provision for supplying the wants of
the Treasury will be the more urgent if Congress at this present session
should adopt no plan for facilitating the financial operations of the
Government and improving the currency of the country. By the aid of a
wise and efficient measure of that kind not only would the internal
business and prosperity of the country be revived and invigorated, but
important additions to the amount of revenue arising from importations
might also be confidently expected. Not only does the present condition
of things in relation to the currency and commercial exchanges produce
severe and distressing embarrassments in the business and pursuits of
individuals, but its obvious tendency is to create also a necessity
for the imposition of new burdens of taxation in order to secure the
Government and the country against discredit from the failure of means
to fulfill the public engagements.


WASHINGTON, _February 18, 1843_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

A resolution has been communicated to me, which was adopted by the House
of Representatives on the 2d instant, in the following terms:

_Resolved_, That the President of the United States be requested to
inform this House by what authority and under whose instructions
Captain Thomas ap Catesby Jones, commander of the squadron of the United
States in the Pacific Ocean, did, on or about the 19th of October last,
invade in warlike array the territories of the Mexican Republic, take
possession of the town of Monterey, and declare himself the commander of
the naval and military expedition for the occupation of the Californias.

_Resolved_, That the President of the United States be requested to
communicate to this House copies of all the instructions given by him
or under his authority to the said Captain Jones from the time of his
appointment to the command of the said squadron; also copies of all
communications received from him relating to his expedition for the
occupation of the Californias; and also to inform this House whether
orders have been dispatched to the said Captain Jones recalling him
from his command.

The proceeding of Captain Jones in taking possession of the town
of Monterey, in the possessions of Mexico, was entirely of his own
authority, and not in consequence of any orders or instructions of
any kind given to him by the Government of the United States. For that
proceeding he has been recalled, and the letter recalling him will be
found among the papers herewith communicated.

The resolution of the House of Representatives asks for "copies of all
the instructions given to Captain Jones from the time of his appointment
to the command of the said squadron, also copies of all communications
received from him relating to his expedition for the occupation of the
Californias," without confining the request to such instructions and
correspondence as relate to the transactions at Monterey, and without
the usual reservation of such portions of the instructions or
correspondence as in the President's judgment could not be made public
without prejudice or danger to the public interests.

It may well be supposed that cases may arise even in time of peace in
which it would be highly injurious to the country to make public at a
particular moment the instructions under which a commander may be acting
on a distant and foreign service. In such a case, should it arise,
and in all similar cases the discretion of the Executive can not
be controlled by the request of either House of Congress for the
communication of papers. The duties which the Constitution and the laws
devolve on the President must be performed by him under his official
responsibility, and he is not at liberty to disregard high interests or
thwart important public objects by untimely publications made against
his own judgment, by whomsoever such publications may be requested.
In the present case, not seeing that any injury is likely to arise
from so doing, I have directed copies of all the papers asked for to be
communicated; and I avail of the opportunity of transmitting also copies
of sundry letters, as noted below.


WASHINGTON, _February 20, 1843_.

_To the House of Representatives_:

I transmit to the House of Representatives a report from the Secretary
of State, accompanied by a copy of the correspondence[88] requested by
their resolution of the 29th of December last.


[Footnote 88: Between the consul-general of the United States at Tangier
and the Government of Morocco.]

WASHINGTON, _February 20, 1843_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit to the Senate a report[89] from the Secretary of State, in
answer to their resolution of the 14th instant.


[Footnote 89: Communicating a copy of the commission and instructions
issued to Daniel Webster, Secretary of State, to treat with Lord
Ashburton, special minister from Great Britain to the United States.]

WASHINGTON, _February 24, 1843_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit to the Senate, in answer to their resolutions of the 20th of
December and of the 9th instant, the inclosed copies of papers[90] from
the Department of State, with an accompanying list.


[Footnote 90: Correspondence with the United States minister to France
relative to the quintuple treaty of December 20, 1841, and the Ashburton
treaty of August 9, 1842.]

WASHINGTON, _February 27, 1843_.

_To the House of Representatives_:

In compliance with the resolution of the House of Representatives of
the 22d instant, requesting me to communicate to the House "whatever
correspondence or communication may have been received from the British
Government respecting the President's construction of the late British
treaty concluded at Washington as it concerns an alleged right to visit
American vessels," I herewith transmit a report made to me by the
Secretary of State.

I have also thought proper to communicate copies of Lord Aberdeen's
letter of the 20th December, 1841, to Mr. Everett, Mr. Everett's letter
of the 23d December in reply thereto, and extracts from several letters
of Mr. Everett to the Secretary of State.

I can not forego the expression of my regret at the apparent purport of
a part of Lord Aberdeen's dispatch to Mr. Fox. I had cherished the hope
that all possibility of misunderstanding as to the true construction of
the eighth article of the treaty lately concluded between Great Britain
and the United States was precluded by the plain and well-weighed
language in which it is expressed. The desire of both Governments is to
put an end as speedily as possible to the slave trade, and that desire,
I need scarcely add, is as strongly and as sincerely felt by the United
States as it can be by Great Britain. Yet it must not be forgotten
that the trade, though now universally reprobated, was up to a late
period prosecuted by all who chose to engage in it, and there were
unfortunately but very few Christian powers whose subjects were not
permitted, and even encouraged, to share in the profits of what was
regarded as a perfectly legitimate commerce. It originated at a period
long before the United States had become independent and was carried on
within our borders in opposition to the most earnest remonstrances and
expostulations of some of the colonies in which it was most actively
prosecuted. Those engaged in it were as little liable to inquiry or
interruption as any others. Its character, thus fixed by common consent
and general practice, could only be changed by the positive assent of
each and every nation, expressed either in the form of municipal law
or conventional arrangement. The United States led the way in efforts
to suppress it. They claimed no right to dictate to others, but they
resolved, without waiting for the cooperation of other powers, to
prohibit it to their own citizens and to visit its perpetration by them
with condign punishment. I may safely affirm that it never occurred
to this Government that any new maritime right accrued to it from the
position it had thus assumed in regard to the slave trade. If before our
laws for its suppression the flag of every nation might traverse the
ocean unquestioned by our cruisers, this freedom was not, in our
opinion, in the least abridged by our municipal legislation.

Any other doctrine, it is plain, would subject to an arbitrary and
ever-varying system of maritime police, adopted at will by the great
naval power for the time being, the trade of the world in any places
or in any articles which such power might see fit to prohibit to its
own subjects or citizens. A principle of this kind could scarcely be
acknowledged without subjecting commerce to the risk of constant and
harassing vexations.

The attempt to justify such a pretension from the right to visit and
detain ships upon reasonable suspicion of piracy would deservedly be
exposed to universal condemnation, since it would be an attempt to
convert an established rule of maritime law, incorporated as a principle
into the international code by the consent of all nations, into a rule
and principle adopted by a single nation and enforced only by its
assumed authority. To seize and detain a ship upon suspicion of piracy,
with probable cause and in good faith, affords no just ground either for
complaint on the part of the nation whose flag she bears or claim of
indemnity on the part of the owner. The universal law sanctions and the
common good requires the existence of such a rule. The right under such
circumstances not only to visit and detain but to search a ship is a
perfect right and involves neither responsibility nor indemnity. But,
with this single exception, no nation has in time of peace any authority
to detain the ships of another upon the high seas on any pretext
whatever beyond the limits of her territorial jurisdiction. And such,
I am happy to find, is substantially the doctrine of Great Britain
herself in her most recent official declarations, and even in those now
communicated to the House. These declarations may well lead us to doubt
whether the apparent difference between the two Governments is not
rather one of definition than of principle. Not only is the right of
_search_, properly so called, disclaimed by Great Britain, but even that
of mere visit and inquiry is asserted with qualifications inconsistent
with the idea of a perfect right.

In the dispatch of Lord Aberdeen to Mr. Everett of the 20th of December,
1841, as also in that just received by the British minister in this
country made to Mr. Fox, his lordship declares that if in spite of
all the precaution which shall be used to prevent such occurrences an
American ship, by reason of any visit or detention by a British cruiser,
"should suffer loss and injury, it would be followed by prompt and ample
remuneration;" and in order to make more manifest her intentions in this


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