« ForrigeFortsett »
forts. 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 re volution 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 l'nion ; 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 enjoy. ing 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 govern ment to these 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, experience has afforded us the most satisfactory proof in its favor. Just as this constitution was put into action, sey. eral of the principal states of Europe had become much agitated, and some of them seriously convulsed. Destructive wars ensued, which have of late only been terminated. In the course of these conflicts, the United States received great injury from several of the parties. It was their interest to stand aloof from the contest, to demand justice from the party committing the injury, and to cultivate by a fair and honorable conduct, the friendship of all. War became at length inevitable, and the result has shown that our government is equal to that, the greatest of trials under the most unfavorable circumstances. Of the virtue of the people, and of the heroic exploits of the army, the navy, and the militia, I need not speak.
Such, then, is the happy government under which we live; a government adequate to every purpose for which the social compact is formed ; a government elective in all its branches, under which every citizen niay, by his merit, obtain the highest trust recognized by the constitution; which contains within it no cause of discord ; none to put at variance one portion of the community with another; a government which protects every citizen in the full enjoyment of his rights, and is able to protect the nation against injustice from foreign powers.
Other considerations of the highest importance admonish us to cherish our union, and to cling to the govern