Page images

Au ual Message.

The Navy.


Atlantic seaboard, has, on repeated occasions, been brought to the attention of Congress by the Navy Department, and is again presented in the report of the Secretary which accompanies this communication. I think it my duty to invite your special attention to this subject, and also to that of establishing 2 yard and depot for naval purposes upon one of the Western rivers. A naval force has been created on those interior waters, and under many disadvantages, within little more than two years, exceeding in numbers the whole naval force of the country at the commencement of the present Administration. Satisfactory and important as have been the performances of the heroic men of the Navy at this interesting period, they are scarcely more wonderful than the success of our mechanics and artisans in the production of war vessels, which has created a new form of naval power.

"Our country has advantages superior to any other nation in our resources of iron and timber, with inexhaustible quantities of fuel in the immediate vicinity of both, and all available and in close proximity to navigable waters. Without the advantage of public works, the resources of the nation have been developed, and its power displayed, in the construction of a navy of such magnitude, which has, at. the very period of its creation, rendered signal service to the Union.

“ The increase of the number of seamen in the public service, from seven thousand five hundred men in the spring of 1861, to about thirty-four thousand at the present time, has been accomplished without special legislation or extraordinary bounties to promote that increase. It has been found, however, that the operation of the draft, with the high bounties paid for army recruits, is beginning to affect injuriously the naval service, and will, if not corrected, be likely to impair its efficiency, by detaching seamen from their proper vocation and inducing them to enter the army. I therefore respect. fully suggest that Congress might aid both the army and

Annual Message.

The Navy.

Post Office Department

[ocr errors]


naval services by a definite provision on this subject, which
would at the same time be equitable to the communities more
especially interested.

I commend to your consideration the suggestions of the
Secretary of the Navy in regard to the policy of fostering and
training seamen, and also the education of officers and engi.
neers for the naval service. The Naval Academy is render-
ing signal service in preparing midsbipmen for the highly re-
sponsible duties which in after-life they will be required to
perform. In order that the country should not be deprived
of the proper quota of educated officers for which legal pro-
vision has been made at the Naval School, the vacancies
caused by the neglect or omission to make nominations from
the States in insurrection have been filled by the Secretary of
the Navy. The school is now more full and complete than at
any former period, and in every respect entitled to the favor-
able consideration of Congress.

During the past fiscal year the financial condition of the Post Office Department has been one of increasing prosperity, and I am gratified in being able to state that the actual postal revenue has nearly equaled the entire expenditures; the latter amounting to $11,314,206 84, and the former to $11,163,789 59, leaving a deficiency of but $150,417 25. In 1860, the year immediately preceding the rebellion, the deficiency amounted to $5,656,705 49, the postal receipts of that year being $2,645,722 19 less than those of 1863. The decrease since 1860 in the annual amount of transportation has been only about twenty-five per cent., but the annual expenditure on account of the same has been reduced thirty-five per cent. It is manifest, therefore, that the Post Office Department may become self-sustaining in a few years, even with the restoration of the whole service.

The quantity of land disposed of during the last and the first quarter of the present fiscal years was 3,841,549 acres, of which 161,911 acres were sold for cash, 1,456,514 acres

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

Annual Message.

The Public Lands.

The Indian Tribes.

were taken up under the homestead law, and the residue disposed of under laws granting lands for military bounties; for railroad and other purposes. It also appears that the sale of public lands is largely on the increase.

“It bas long been a cherished opinion of some of our wisest statesmen that the people of the United States had a higher and more enduring interest in the early settlement and suh. stantial cultivation of the public lands than in the amount of direct revenue to be derived from the sale of them. This opinion has bad a controlling influence in shaping legislation upon the subject of our National domain. I may cite, as evidence of this, the liberal measures adopted in reference to actual settlers; the grants to the States of the overflowed lands within their limits; in order to their being reclaimed and rendered fit for cultivation ; the grants to railway companies of alternate sections of land upon the contemplated lines of their roads, which, when completed, will so largely multiply the facilities for reaching our distant possessions. This policy has received its most signal and beneficent illustration in the recent enactment granting homesteads to actual settlers. Since the 1st day of January last, the before-mentioned quantity of 1,456,514 acres of land have been taker up under its provisions. This fact and the amount of sales furnish gratifying evidence of increasing settlement upon the public lands, notwithstanding the great struggle in which the energies of the Nation bave been engaged, and which has required so large a withdrawal of our citizens from their accus. tomed pursuits.

“ The measures provided at your last session for the re moval of certain Indian tribes, have been carried into effect. Sundry treaties have been negotiated which will, in due time, be submitted for the constitutional action of the Senate. They contain stipulations for extinguishing the possessory rights of the Indians to large and valuable tracts of lands. It is hoped that the effect of these treaties will result in the

Annual Message.

Indian Tribes,

Tho Country and the War.

establishment of permanent friendly relations with such of these tribes as have been brought into frequent and bloody collision with our outlying settlements and emigrants. Sound policy and our imperative duty to these wards of the Government demand our anxious and constant attention to their material well-being, to their progress in the arts of civilization, and above all, to that moral training which, under the blessing of Divine Providence, will confer upon them the elevated and sanctifying influences, the hopes and consolations of the Christian faith.

“When Congress assembled a year ago, the war bad already lasted nearly twenty months; and there had been many conflicts on both land and sea, with varying results. The rebellion had been pressed back into reduced limits; yet the tone of public feeling and opinion, at home and abroad, was not satisfactory. With other signs, the popular elec. tions, then just past, indicated uneasiness among ourselves, while, amid much that was cold and menacing, the kindest words coming from Europe were uttered in accents of pity that we were too blind to surrender a hopeless cause. Our commerce was suffering greatly by a few armed vessels built upon and furnished from foreign shores; and we were threatened with such additions from the same quarter as would sweep our trade from the sea and raise our blockade. We had failed to elicit from European Governments any thing hopeful upon this subject. The preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, issued in September, was running its assigned period to the beginning of the new year. A month later the final proclamation came, including the announcement that colored men of suitable condition would be received into the war service. The policy of emancipation, and of employing black soldiers, gave to the future a new aspect, about which hope, and fear, and doubt contended in uncertain conflict. According to our political system, as a matter of civil administration, the General Government had no lawful power to

Annual Message.

The Country and the War.

The Emancipation Proclamation

effect emancipation in any State ; and for a long time it had been hoped that the rebellion could be suppressed without resorting to it as a military measure. It was all the wbie deemed possible that the necessity for it might come, and that, if it should, the crisis of the contest would then be presented. It came, and as was anticipated, it was followed by dark and doubtful days. Eleven months having now passed, we are permitted to take another review. The rebel borders are pressed still further back, and by the complete opening of the Mississippi the country dominated by the rebellion is divided into distinct parts, with no practical communication between them. Tennessee and Arkansas have been substantially cleared of insurgent control, and influential citizens in each, owners of slaves and advocates of slavery at the beginning of the rebellion, now declare openly for emancipation in their respective States. Of those States not included in the Emancipation Proclamation, Maryland and Missouri, neither of which, three years ago, would tolerate any restraint upon the extension of slavery into new Territories, only dispute now as to the best mode of removing it within their own limits.

“Of those who were slaves at the beginning of the rebeilion, full one bundred thousand are now in the United States military service, about one-half of which number actually bear arms in the ranks; thus giving the double advantage of taking so much labor from the insurgent cause, and supplying the places which otherwise must be filled with so many wbite

So far as tested, it is difficult to say they are not as good soldiers as any. No servile insurrection, or tendency to violence or cruelty, has marked the measures of emancipation and arming the blacks. These measures have been much discussed in foreign countries, and contemporary with such discussion the tone of public sentiment there is much improved. At home the same measures have been fully dis cussed, supported, criticised, and denounced, and the annual


« PreviousContinue »