Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

and this minister will show how unessentially the features presented in its commencement have been varied in its progress. It will show, also, that, forgetting the respect due to all governments, he did not refrain from imputations on this, which required that no further communications should be received from him. The necessity of this step will be made known to his Britannic majesty, through the minister plenipotentiary of the United States in London. And it would indicate a want of the confidence due to a government which so well understands and exacts what becomes foreign ministers near it, not to infer that the misconduct of its own representative will be viewed in the same light in which it has been regarded here. The British government will learn, at the same time, that a ready attention will be given to communications, through any channel which may be substituted. It will be happy, if the change in this respect should be accompanied by a favorable revision of the unfriendly policy which has been so long pursued towards the United States.

With France, the other belligerent, whose trespasses on our commercial rights have long been the subject of our just remonstrances, the posture of our relations does not correspond with the measures taken on the part of the United States to effect a favorable change. The result of the several communications made to her government, in pursuance of the authorities vested by Congress in the executive, is contained in the correspondence of our minister at Paris now laid before you.

By some of the other belligerents, although professing just and amicable dispositions, injuries materially affecting our commerce have not been duly controlled or repressed. In these cases, the interpositions deemed proper on our part have not been omitted. But it well deserves the consideration of the legislature, how far both the safety and honor of the American flag may be consulted, by adequate provision against that collusive prostitution of it by individuals, unworthy of the American name, which has so much favored the real or pretended suspicions, under which the honest commerce of their fellow-citizens has suffered.

In relation to the powers on the coast of Barbary, noth

ing has occurred which is not of a nature rather to inspire confidence than distrust, as to the continuance of the existing amity. With our Indian neighbors, the just and benevolent system continued towards them, has also preserved peace, and is more and more advancing habits favorable to their civilization and happiness.

From a statement which will be made by the Secretary of War, it will be seen that the fortifications on our maritime frontier are in many of the ports completed, affording the defence which was contemplated; and that a further time will be required to render complete the works in the harbor of New York, and in some other places.

By the enlargement of the works, and the employment of a greater number of hands at the public armories, the supply of small arms, of an improving quality, appears to be annually increasing at a rate that, with those made on private contract, may be expected to go far towards providing for the public exigency.

The act of Congress providing for the equipment of our vessels of war having been fully carried into execution, I refer to the statement of the Secretary of the Navy for the information which may be proper on that subject. To that statement is added a view of the transfers of appropriations, authorized by the act of the session preceding the last, and of the grounds on which the transfers were made.

Whatever may be the course of your deliberations on the subject of our military establishments, I should fail in my duty in not recommending to your serious' attention the importance of giving to our militia, the great bulwark of our security and resource of our power, an organization the best adapted to eventual situations, for which the United States ought to be prepared.

The sums which had been previously accumulated in the treasury, together with the receipts during the year ending on the 30th of September last, (and amounting to more than nine millions of dollars,) have enabled us to fulfil all our engagements, and to defray the current expenses of government, without recurring to any loan. But the insecurity of our commerce, and the consequent diminution of the public revenue, will probably produce a de

ficiency in the receipts of the ensuing year, for which, and for other details, I refer to the statements which will be transmitted from the treasury.

In the state which has been presented of our affairs with the great parties to a disastrous and protracted war, carried on in a mode equally injurious and unjust to the United States as a neutral nation, the wisdom of the national legislature will be again summoned to the important decision on the alternatives before them. That these will be met in a spirit worthy the councils of a nation conscious both of its rectitude and of its rights, and careful as well of its honor as of its peace, I have an entire confidence. And that the result will be stamped by a unanimity becoming the occasion, and be supported by every portion of our citizens, with a patriotism enlightened and invigorated by experience, ought as little to be doubted.

In the midst of the wrongs and vexations experienced from external causes, there is much room for congratulation on the prosperity and happiness flowing from our situation at home. The blessing of health has never been more universal. The fruits of the seasons, though in particular articles and districts short of their usual redundancy, are more than sufficient for our wants and our comforts. The face of our country every where presents the evidence of laudable enterprise, of extensive capital, and of durable improvement. In the cultivation of the materials, and the extension of useful manufactures, more especially in the general application to household fabrics, we behold a rapid diminution of our dependence on foreign supplies. Nor is it unworthy of reflection, that this revolution in our pursuits and habits is in no slight degree a consequence of those impolitic and arbitrary edicts, by which the contending nations, in endeavoring each of them to obstruct our trade with the other, have so far abridged our means of procuring the productions and manufactures, of which our own are now taking the place.

Recollecting always that, for every advantage which may contribute to distinguish our lot from that to which others are doomed by the unhappy spirit of the times, we

are indebted to that Divine Providence whose goodness has been so remarkably extended to this rising nation, it becomes us to cherish a devout gratitude, and to implore from the same Omnipotent Source a blessing on the consultations and measures about to be undertaken for the welfare of our beloved country.

MONROE'S INAUGURAL ADDRESS.

March 5, 1817. I SHOULD be destitute of feeling if I was not deeply affected by the strong proof which my fellow-citizens have given me of their confidence, in calling me to the high office, whose functions I am about to assume. As the expression of their good opinion of my conduct in the public service, I derive from it a gratification, which those who are conscious of having done all that they could do to merit it, can alone feel. My sensibility is increased by a just estimate of the importance of the trust, and of the nature and extent of its duties; with the proper discharge of which the highest interests of a great and free people are intimately connected. Conscious of my own deficiency, I cannot enter on these duties without great anxiety for the result. From a just responsibility I will never shrink; calculating with confidence, that, in my best efforts to promote the public welfare, my motives will always be duly appreciated, and my conduct be viewed with that candor and indulgence which I have experienced in other stations.

In commencing the duties of the chief executive office, it has been the practice of the distinguished men who have gone before me, to explain the principles which would govern them in their respective administrations. In following their venerated example, my attention is naturally drawn to the great causes which have contributed, in a principal degree, to produce the present happy condition of the United States. They will best explain

the nature of our duties, and shed much light on the policy which ought to be pursued in future. From the commencement of our revolution to the

present day, almost forty years have elapsed, and from the establishment of this constitution, twenty-eight. Through this whole term, the government has been what may emphatically be called self-government: and what has been the effect ? To whatever object we turn our attention, whether it relates to our foreign or domestic concerns, we find abundant cause to felicitate ourselves in the excellence of our institutions. During a period fraught with difficulties, and marked by very extraordinary events, the United States have flourished beyond example. Their citizens, individually, have been happy, and the nation prosperous.

Under this constitution, our commerce has been wisely regulated with foreign nations, and between the states; new states have been admitted into our Union ; our territory has been enlarged by fair and honorable treaty, and with great advantage to the original states; the states respectively protected by the national government, under a mild paternal system, against foreign dangers, and enjoying within their separate spheres, by a wise partition of power, a just proportion of the sovereignty, have improved their police, extended their settlements, and attained a strength and maturity which are the best proofs of wholesome laws well administered. And if we look to the condition of individuals, what a proud spectacle does it exhibit! On whom has oppression fallen in any quarter of our Union ? Who has been deprived of any right of person or property? Who restrained from offering his vows in the mode which he prefers, to the Divine Author of his being? It is well known that all these blessings have been enjoyed in their fullest extent; and I add, with peculiar satisfaction, that there has been no example of a capital punishment being inflicted on any one for the crime of high treason.

Some, who might admit the competency of our government to those beneficent duties, might doubt it in trials which put to the test its strength and efficiency as a member of the great community of nations. Here, too,

« ForrigeFortsett »