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recent renewal of the diplomatic missions, on both sides, between the two governments, assurances have been given and received of the continuance and increase of the mutual confidence and cordiality by which the adjust ment of many points of difference has already been effected, and which affords the surest pledge for the ultimate satisfactory adjustment of those which still remain open, or may hereafter arise.
The policy of the United States, in their commercial intercourse with other nations, has always been of the most liberal character. In the mutual exchange of their respective productions, they have abstained altogether from prohibitions; they have interdicted themselves the power of laying taxes upon exports, and whenever they have favored their own shipping, by special preferences or exclusive privileges in their own ports, it has been only with a view to countervail similar favors and exclusions granted by the nations with whom we have been engaged in traffic, to their own people or shipping, and to the disadvantage of ours. Immediately after the close of the last war, a proposal was fairly made by the act of Congress of the 3d March, 1815, to all maratime nations, to lay aside the system of retaliating restrictions and exclusions, and to place the shipping of both parties to the common trade on a footing of equality in respect to the duties of tonnage and impost. This offer was partially and successively accepted by Great Britain, Sweden, the Netherlands, the Hanseatic cities, Prussia, Sardinia, the Duke of Oldenburg, and Russia. It was also adopted, under certain modifications, in our late commercial convention with France. And by the act of Congress of the 8th of January, 1824, it has received a new confirmation with all the nations who had acceded to it, and has been offered again to all those who are or may hereafter be willing to abide in reciprocity by it. But all these regulations, whether established by treaty or by municipal enactments, are still subject to one important restriction.
The removal of discriminating duties of tonnage and impost, is limited to articles of the growth, produce, or manufacture of the country to which the vessel belongs, or to such articles as are most universally shipped from
her ports. It will deserve the serious consideration of Congress, whether even this remnant of restriction may not be safely abandoned, and whether the general tender of equal competition, made in the act of 8th January, 1824, may not be extended to include all articles of merchandise not prohibited, of what country soever they may be the produce or manufacture. Propositions to this effect have already been made to us by more than one European government, and it is probable that if once established by legislation or compact with any distinguished maratime state, it would recommend itself, by the experience of its advantages, to the general accession of all.
The convention of commerce and navigation between the United States and France, concluded on the 24th of June, 1822, was, in the understanding and intent of both parties, as appears upon its face, only a temporary arrangement of the points of difference between them of the most immediate and pressing urgency. It was limited, in the first instance, to two years from the first of October, 1822, but with a proviso, that it should further continue in force till the corclusion of a general and definitive treaty of commerce, unless terminated by a notice six months in advance, of either of the parties to the other. Its operation, so far as it extended, has been mutuaily advantageous; and it still continues in force, by
But it left unadjusted several objects of great interest to the citizens and subjects of both countries, and particularly a mass of claims, to considerable amount, of citizens of the United States upon
government of France, of indemnity for property taken or destroyed, under circumstances of the most aggravated and outrageous character. In the long period during which continued and earnest appeals have been made to the equity and magnanimity of France, in behalf of those claims, their justice has not been, as it could not be, denied. It was hoped that the accession of a new sovereign to the throne, would have afforded a favorable opportunity for presenting them to the consideration of his government. They have been presented and urged, hitherto without effect. The repeated and earnest representations of our minister at the court of France, remains as
yet even without an answer. Were the demands of na tions upon the justice of each other_susceptible of adjudication by the decision of an impartial tribunal, those to whom I now refer would long since have been settled, and adequate indemnity would have been obtained. There are large amounts of similar claims upon the Netherlands, Naples, and Denmark. For those upon Spain, prior to 1819, indemnity was, after many years of patient forbearance, obtained, and those of Sweden have been lately compromised by a private settlement, in which the claimants themselves have acquiesced. The governments of Denmark and of Naples have been recently reminded of those yet existing against them; nor will any of them be forgotten while a hope may be indulged of obtaining justice, by the means within the constitutional power of the executive, and without resorting to those means of self-redress, which, as well as the time, circumstances, and occasion, which may require them, are within the exclusive competency of the legislature.
It is with great satisfaction that I am enabled to bear witness to the liberal spirit with which the republic of Colombia has made satisfaction for well-established claims of a similar character. And among the documents now communicated to Congress, will be distinguished a treaty of commerce and navigation with that republic, the rati fications of which have been exchanged since the last re cess of the legislature. The negotiation of similar treaties with all the independent South American states, has been contemplated, and may yet be accomplished. The basis of them all, as proposed by the United States, has been laid in two principles; the one, of entire and unqualified reciprocity ; the other, the mutual obligation of the parties to place each other permanently on the footing of the most favored nation. These principles are, indeed, indispensible to the effectual emancipation of the American hemisphere from the thraldom of colonizing monopolies and exclusions 5—an event rapidly realizing in the progress of human affairs, and which the resistance still opposed in certain parts of Europe to the acknowledgment of the Southern American republics as independent states, will, it is believed, contribute more effectually to accomplish. The time has been, and that not remote when some of these states might, in their anxious desire to obtain a nominal recognition, have accepted of a nominal independence, clogged with burdensome conditions, and exclusive commercial privileges, granted to the nation from which they have separated, to the disadvantage of all others. They now are all aware that such concessions to any European nation would be incompatible with that independence which they have declared and maintained.
Among the measures which have been suggested to them by the new relations with one another, resulting from the recent changes in their condition, is that of assembling at the Isthmus of Panama, a Congress, at which each of them should be represented, to deliberate upon objects important to the welfare of all. The republics of Colombia, of Mexico, and of Central America, have already deputed plenipotentiaries to such a meeting, and they have invited the United States to be also represented there by their ministers. The invitation has been accepted, and ministers on the part of the United States will be commissioned to attend at those deliberations, and to take part in them, so far as it may be compatible with that neutrality from which it is neither our intention nor the desire of the American states that we should depart.
The commissioners under the seventh article of the treaty of Ghent have so nearly completed their arduous laburs, that, by the report recently received from the agent on the part of the United States, there is reason to ex. pect that the commission will be closed at their next ses. sion, appointed for the 22d of May, of the ensuing year
The other commission appointed to ascertain the in demnities due for slaves carried away from the United States, after the close of the late war, have met with some difficulty which has delayed their progress in the inquiry. A reference has been made to the British government on the subject, which, it may be hoped, will tend to hasten the decision of the commissioners, or serve as a substitute for it.
Among the powers specifically granted to Congress by the constitution, are those of establishing uniform law
on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States; and for providing for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States. The magnitude and complexity of the interests affected by legislation upon these subjects, may account for the fact, that long and often as both of them have occupied the attention, and animated the debates of Congress, no systems have yet been devised for fulfilling, to the satis. faction of the community, the duties prescribed by these grants of power. To conciliate the claim of the individual citizen to the enjoyment of personal liberty, with the effective obligation of private contracts, is the difficult problem to be solved by a law of bankruptcy. These are objects of the deepest interest to society; affecting all that is precious in the existence of multitudes of persons, many of them in the classes essentially dependent and helpless; of the age requiring nurture, and of the sex entitled to protection from the free agency of the parent and the husband. The organization of the militia is yet more indispensable to the liberties of the country. It is only by an effective militia that we can at once enjoy the repose of peace, and bid defiance to foreign aggression; it is by the militia that we are constituted an armed nation, standing in perpetual panoply of defence, in the presence of all the other nations of the earth. To this end, it would be necessary, if possible, so to shape its organiza. tion, as to give it a more united and active energy. There are laws for establishing a uniform militia throughout the United States, and for arming and equipping its whole body. But it is a body of dislocated members, without the vigor of unity, and having little of uniformity but the name. To infuse into this most important institution the power of which it is susceptible, and to make it available for the defence of the Union, at the shortest notice, and at the smallest expense possible of time, of life, and of treasure, are among the benefits to be expected from the persevering deliberations of Congress.
Among the unequivocal indications of our national pros. perity, is the flourishing state of our finances. The reve. nues of the present year, from all their principal sources,