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From the official communication submitted to you, it appears that, if no adverse or unforeseen contingency happens in our foreign relations, and no unusual diversion be made of the funds set apart for the payment of the national debt, we may look with confidence to its entire extinguishment in the short period of four years. The extent to which this pleasing anticipation is dependent upon the policy which may be pursued in relation to measures of the character of the one now under consideration, must be obvious to all, and equally so that the events of the present session are well calculated to awaken public solicitude upon the subject. By the statement from the treasury department, and those from the clerks of the Senate and House of Representatives, herewith submitted, it appears that the bills which have passed into laws, and those which, in all probability, will pass before the adjournment of Congress, anticipate appropriations which, with ordinary expenditures for the support of government, will exceed considerably the amount in the treasury for the year 1830. Thus, whilst we are diminishing the revenues by a reduction of the duties on tea, coffee, and cocoa, the appropriations for internal improvement are increasing beyond the available means in the treasury; and if to this calculation be added the amounts contained in bills which are pending before the two houses, it may be safely affirmed that ten millions of dollars would not make up the excess over the treasury receipts, unless the payment of the national debt be postponed, and the means now pledged to that object applied to those enumerated in these bills. Without a well-regulated system of internal improvement, this exhausting mode of appropriation is not likely to be avoided, and the plain consequence must be, either a continuance of the national debt, or a resort to additional taxes.

Although many of the states, with a laudable zeal, and under the influence of an enlightened policy, are successively applying their separate efforts to works of this character, the desire to enlist the aid of the general government in the construction of such as, from their nature, ought to devolve upon it, and to which the means of the individual states are inadequate, is both rational and pa

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triotic ; and if that desire is not gratified now, it does not follow that it never will be. The general intelligence and public spirit of the American people furnish a sure guaranty, that, at the proper time, this policy will be made to prevail under circumstances more auspicious to its successful prosecution than those which now exist. But, great as this object undoubtedly is, it is not the only one which demands the fostering care of the government. The preservation and success of the republican principle rests with us. To elevate its character, and extend its influence, rank among our most important duties; and the best means to accomplish this desirable end, are those which will rivet the attachment of our citizens to the government of their choice, by the comparative lightness of their public burdens, and by the attraction which the superior success of its operations will present to the admiration and respect of the world. Through the favor of an overruling and indulgent Providence, our country is blessed with general prosperity, and our citizens exempted from the pressure of taxation which other less favored portions of the human family, are obliged to bear; yet it is true that many of the taxes collected from our citizens, through the medium of imposts, have, for a considerable period, been onerous. In many particulars, these taxes have borne severely upon the laboring and less prosperous classes of the community, being imposed on the necessaries of life, and this, too, in cases where the burden was not relieved by the consciousness that it would ultimately contribute to make us independent of foreign nations for articles of prime necessity, by the encouragement of their growth and manufacture at home. They have been cheerfully borne, because they were thought to be necessary to the support of government, and the payment of the debts unavoidably incurred in the acquisition and maintenance of our national rights and liberties. But have we a right to calculate on the same cheerful acquiescence, when it is known that the necessity for their continuance would cease, were it not for irregular, improvident, and unequal appropriations of the public funds? Will not the people demand, as they have a right to do, such a prudent system of expenditure as will pay the debts of the Union, and authorize the reduction of every tax to as low a point as the wise observance of the necessity to protect that portion of our manufactures and labor, whose prosperity is essential to our national safety and independence, will allow? When the national debt is paid, the duties upon those articles which we do not raise may be repealed with safety, and still leave, I trust, without oppression to any section of the country, an accumulating surplus fund, which may be beneficially applied to some well-digested system of improvement.

Under this view, the question, as to the manner in which the federal government can, or ought to embark in the construction of roads and canals, and the extent to which it may impose burdens on the people for these purposes, may be presented on its own merits, free of all disguise, and of every embarrassment except such as may arise from the constitution itself. Assuming these suggestions to be correct, will not our citizens require the observance of a course by which they can be effected ? Ought they not to require it? With the best disposition to aid, as far as I can conscientiously, in the furtherance of works of internal improvement, my opinion is, that the soundest views of national policy, at this time, point to such a

Besides the avoidance of an evil influence upon the local concerns of the country, how solid is the advantage which the government will reap from it in the elevation of its character! How gratifying the effect of presenting to the world the sublime spectacle of a republic, of more than twelve millions of happy people, in the fiftyfourth year of her existence - after having passed through two protracted wars, the one for the acquisition, and the other for the maintenance of liberty - free from debt, and with all her immense resources unfettered! What a salutary influence would not such an exhibition exercise

upon the cause of liberal principles and free government throughout the world! Would we not ourselves find in its effect an additional guaranty that our political institutions will be transmitted to the most remote posterity without decay? A course of policy destined to witness events like these, cannot be benefited by a legislation which tolerates a scramble for appropriations that have no relation to any


general system of improvement, and whose good effects must of necessity be very limited. In the best view of these appropriations, the abuses to which they lead far exceed the good which they are capable of promoting. They may be resorted to as artful expedients to shift upon the government the losses of unsuccessful private speculation, and thus, by ministering to personal ambition and self-aggrandizement, tend to sap the foundations of public virtue, and taint the administration of the government with a demoralizing influence.

In the other view of the subject, and the only remaining one which it is my intention to present at this time, is involved the expediency of embarking in a system of internal improvement without a previous amendment of the constitution, explaining and defining the precise powers of the federal government over it. Assuming the right to appropriate money to aid in the construction of national works to be warranted by the contemporaneous and continued exposition of the constitution, its insufficiency for the successful prosecution of them must be admitted by all candid minds. If we look to usage to define the extent of the right, that will be found so variant, and embracing so much that has been overruled, as to involve the whole subject in great uncertainty, and to render the execution of our respective duties in relation to it replete with difficulty and embarrassment. It is in regard to such works, and the acquisition of additional territory, that the practice obtained its first footing.. In most, if not all other disputed questions of appropriation, the construction of the constitution may be regarded as unsettled, if the right to apply money, in the enumerated cases, is placed on the ground of usage.

This subject has been of much, and, I may add, painful reflection to me. It has bearings that are well calculated to exert a powerful influence upon our hitherto prosperous system of gorernment, and which, on some accounts, may even excite despondency in the breast of an American citi

I will not detain you with professions of zeal in the cause of internal improvements. If to be their friend is a virtue which deserves commendation, our country is blessed with an abundance of it; for I do not suppose there is an intelligent citizen who does not wish to see them flourish.


But though all are their friends, but few, I trust, are unmindful of the means by which they should be promoted; none certainly are so degenerate as to desire their success at the cost of that sacred instrument, with the preservation of which is indissolubly bound our country's hopes. If different impressions are entertained in any quarter; if it is expected that the people of this country, reckless of their constitutional obligation, will prefer their local interest to the principles of the Union, such expectations will in the end be disappointed; or, if it be not so, then indeed has the world but little to hope from the example of a free government. When an honest observance of constitutional compacts cannot be obtained from communities like ours, it need not be anticipated elsewhere; and the cause in which there has been so much martyrdom, and from which so much was expected by the friends of liberty, may be. abandoned, and the degrading truth, that man is unfit for self-government, admitted. And this will be the case, if expediency be made the rule of construction in interpreting the constitution. Power, in no government, could desire a better shield for the insidious advances with which it is ever ready to break up the checks that are designed to restrain its action.

But I do not entertain such gloomy apprehensions. If it be the wish of the people that the construction of roads and canals should be conducted by the federal government, it is not only highly expedient, but indispensably necessary, that a previous amendment of the constitution, delegating the necessary power, and defining and restricting its exercise with reference to the sovereignty of the states, should be made. Without it, nothing extensively useful can be effected. The right to exercise as much jurisdiction as is necessary to preserve the works, and to raise funds by the collection of tolls to keep them in repair, cannot be dispensed with. The Cumberland road should be an instructive admonition of the consequences of acting without this right. Year after year, contests are witnessed, growing out of efforts to obtain the necessary appropriations for completing and repairing this useful work. Whilst one Congress may claim and exercise the power, a succeeding one may deny it; and this fluctuation of opinion

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