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of exalted talents and the most faithful and meritorious services. Relying on the aid to be derived from the other departments of government, I enter on the trust to which I have been called by the suffrages of my fellow-citizens, with my fervent prayers to the Almighty that he will be graciously pleased to continue to us that protection which he has already so conspicuously displayed in our favor.
MONROE'S FIRST ANNUAL MESSAGE.
DECEMBER 3, 1817. Fellow-Citizens of the Senate
and House of Representatives : At no period of our political existence had we so much cause to felicitate ourselves at the prosperous and happy condition of our country. The abundant fruits of the earth have filled it with plenty. An extensive and profitable commerce has greatly augmented our revenue. The public credit has attained an extraordinary elevation. Our preparations for defence, in case of future wars, from which, by the experience of all nations, we ought not to expect to be exempted, are advancing, under a well-digested system, with all the despatch which so important a work will admit. Our free government, founded on the interests and affections of the people, has gained, and is daily gaining strength. Local jealousies are rapidly yielding to more generous, enlarged, and enlightened views of national policy. For advantages so numerous and highly important, it is our duty to unite in grateful acknowledgments to that Omnipotent Being, from whom they are derived, and in unceasing prayer that he will endow us with virtue and strength to maintain and hand them down, in their utmost purity, to our latest posterity.
I have the satisfaction to inform you, that an arrangement, which had been commenced by my predecessor, with the British government, for the reduction of the naval force, by Great Britain and the United States, on the lakes, has been concluded; by which it is provided, that neither party shall keep in service on Lake Champlain more than one v »ssel; on Lake Ontario, more than one; on Lake Erie and he upper lakes, more than two; to be armed, each with one cannon only, and that all the other armed vessels of bo h parties, of which an exact list is interchanged, shall be dismantled. It is also agreed, that the force retained shall be restricted in its duty to the internal purposes of each party; and that the arrangement shall remain in force until six months shall have expired after notice having been giver by one of the parties to the other of its desire that it should terminate. By this arrangement, useless expense on both sides, and, what is of greater importance, the danger of collision between armed vessels in those inland waters, which was great, is prevented.
I have the satisfaction also to state, that the commissioners under the fourth article of the treaty of Ghent, to whom it was referred to decide to which party the several islands in the Bay of Passamaquoddy belonged, under the treaty of one thousand seven hundred and eighty-three, have agreed in a report, by which all the islands in the possession of each party before the late war have been decreed to it. The commissioners acting under the other articles of the treaty of Ghent, for the settlement of the boundaries, have also been engaged in the discharge of their respective duties, but have not yet completed them. The difference which arose between the two governments, under the treaty, respecting the right of the United States to take and cure fish on the coast of the British provinces, north of our limits, which had been secured by the treaty of one thousand seven hundred and eighty-three, is still in negotiation. The proposition made by this government, to extend to the colonies of Great Britain the principle of the convention of London, by which the commerce between the ports of the United States and British ports of Europe had been placed on a footing of equality, has been declined by the British government. This subject having been thus amicably discussed between the two governments, and it appearing that the British government is unwilling to de part from its present regulations, it remains for Congress to decide whether they will make any other regulations in consequence thereof, for the protection and improvement of our navigation.
The negotiation with Spain, for spoliations on our commerce, and the settlement of boundaries, remains essentially in the state it held in the communications that were made to Congress by my predecessor. It has been evidently the policy of the Spanish government to keep the negotiation suspended, and in this the United States have acquiesced, from an amicable disposition towards Spain, and in the expectation that her government would, from a sense of justice, finally accede to such an arrangement as would be equal between the parties. A disposition has been lately shown by the Spanish government to move in the negotiation, which has been met by this government; and should the conciliatory and friendly policy which has invariably guided our councils be reciprocated, a just and satisfactory arrangement may be expected. It is proper, however, to remark that no proposition has yet been made from which such a result can be presumed.
It was anticipated, at an early stage, that the contest between Spain and the colonies would become highly interesting to the United States. It was natural that our citizens should sympathize in events which affected their neighbors. It seemed probable, also, that the prosecution of the conflict, along our coast, and in contiguous countries, would occasionally interrupt our commerce, and otherwise affect the persons and property of our citizens. These anticipations have been realized. Such injuries have been received from persons acting under the authority of both the parties, and for which redress has, in some instances, been withheld. Through every stage of the conflict, the United States have maintained an impartial neutrality, giving aid to neither of the parties in men, money, ships, or munitions of war. They have regarded the contest not in the light of an ordinary insurrection or rebellion, but as a civil war between parties nearly equal, having, as to neutral powers, equal rights. Our ports have been open to both, and every article the fruit of our soil, or of the industry of our citizens, which either was permitted to take, has been equally free to the other. Should the colonies establish their independence, it is
proper now to state that this government neither seeks nor would accept from them any. advantage in commerce or otherwise, which will not be equally open to all other nations. The colonies will, in that event, become independent states, free from any obligation to, or connection with us, which it may not then be their interest to form on a basis of fair reciprocity.
In the sunimer of the present year, an expedition was set on foot against East Florida, by persons claiming to act under the authority of some of the colonies, who took possession of Amelia Ísland, at the mouth of St. Mary's River, near the boundary of the state of Georgia. As the province lies eastward of the Mississippi, and is bounded by the United States and the ocean on every side, and has been a subject of negotiation with the government of Spain, as an indemnity for losses by spoliation, or in exchange of territory of equal value, westward of the Mississippi, a fact well known to the world, – it excited surprise that any countenance should be given to this measure by any of the colonies. As it would be difficult to reconcile it with the friendly relations existing between the United States and the colonies, a doubt was entertained whether it had been authorized by them, or any of them. This doubt has gained strength, by the circumstances which have unfolded themselves in the prosecution of the enterprise, which have marked it as a mere private, unauthorized adventure. Projected and commenced with an incompetent force, reliance seems to have been placed on what might be drawn, in defiance of our laws, from within our limits; and of late, as their resources have failed, it has assumed a more marked character of unfriendliness to us, the island being made a channel for the illicit introduction of slaves from Africa into the United States, an asylum for fugitive slaves from the neighboring states, and a port for smuggling of every kind.
· A similar establishment was made, at an earlier period, by persons of the same description, in the Gulf of Mexico, at a place called Galveston, within the limits of the United States, as we contend, under the cession of Louisiana. This enterprise has been marked in more signal manner by all the objectionable circumstances which characterized the other, and more particularly by the equipment of privateers which have annoyed our commerce, and by smuggling. These establishments, if ever sanctioned by any authority whatever, which is not believed, have abused their trust and forfeited all claim to consideration. A just regard for the rights and interests of the United States required that they should be suppressed, and orders have accordingly been issued to that effect. The imperious considerations which produced this measure will be explained to the parties whom it may in any degree concern.
To obtain correct information on every subject-in which the United States are interested ; to inspire just sentiments in all persons in authority, on either side, of our friendly disposition, so far as it may comport with an impartial neutrality, and to secure proper respect to our commerce in every port, and from every flag, it has been thought proper to send a ship of war, with three distinguished citizens, along the southern coast, with instructions to touch at such ports as they may find most expedient for these purposes. With the existing authorities, with those in the possession of, and exercising the sovereignty, must the communication be held; from them alone can redress for past injuries, committed by persons acting under them, be obtained; by them alone can the commission of the like in future be prevented.
Our relations with the other powers of Europe have experienced no essential change since the last session. In our intercourse with each, due attention continues to be paid to the protection of our commerce, and to every other object in which the United States are interested. A strong hope is entertained, that, by adhering to the maxims of a just, candid, and friendly policy, we may long preserve amicable relations with all the powers of Europe, on conditions advantageous and honorable to our country.
With the Barbary states and the Indian tribes, our pacific relations have been preserved.
In calling your attention to the internal concerns of our country, the view which they exhibit is peculiarly gratifying. The payments which have been made into the treasury show the very productive state of the public
After satisfying the appropriations made by law