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THE CONGRESS OF 1863–4.-MESSAGE OF THE PRESIDENT.
ACTION OF THE SESSION.
CONGRESS met on Monday, December 7, 1863. The House of Representatives was promptly organized by the election of Hon. Schuyler Colfax, a Republican from Indiana, to be Speaker-he receiving 101 votes out of 181, the whole number cast. Mr. Cox, of Ohio, was the leading candidate of the Democratic opposition, but he received only 51 votes, the remaining 29 being divided among several Democratic members. In the Senate, the Senators from Western Virginia were admitted to their seats by a vote of 36 to 5.
On the 9th, the President transmitted to both Houses the following Message:
Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives :
Another year of health and of sufficiently abundant harvests has passed. For these, and especially for the improved condition of our national affairs, our renewed and profoundest gratitude to God is due. We remain in peace and friendship with foreign Powers. The efforts of disloyal citizens of the United States to involve us in foreign wars to aid an inexcusable insurrection have been unavailing. Her Britannic Majesty's Government, as was justly expected, have exercised their authority to prevent the departure of new hostile expeditions from British ports.
The Emperor of France has, by a liko proceeding, promptly vindicated the neutrality which he proclaimed at the beginning of the contest.
Questions of great intricacy and importance have arisen out of the blockade, and other belligerent operations between the Government and several of the maritime Powers, but they have been discussed, and, as far as was possible, accommodated in a spirit of frankness, justice, and mutual good-will.
It is especially gratifying that our prize Courts, by the impartiality of their adjudications, have commanded the respect and confidence of maritime Powers.
The supplemental treaty between the United States and Great Britain for the suppression of the African Slave trade, made on the 17th day of February last, has been duly ratified and carried into execution. It is believed that so far as American ports and American citizens are concerned, that inhuman and odious traffic has been brought to an end.
I have thought it proper, subject to the approval of the Senate, to concur with the interested commercial Powers, in an arrangement for the liquidation of the Scheldt dues, upon the principles which have been heretofore adopted in regard to the imposts upon navigation in the waters of Denmark.
The long-pending controversy between this Government and that of Chili, touching the seizure at Sitana, ir Peru, by Chilian officers, of a large amount in treasure, belonging to citizens of the United States, has been brought to a close by the award of His Majesty the King of the Belgians, to whose arbitration the question was referred by the parties.
The subject was thoroughly and patiently examined by that justly respected magistrate, and although the sum awarded to the claimants may not have been as large as they expected, there is no reason to distrust the wisdom of His Majesty's decision. That decision was promptly complied with by Chili when intelligence in regard to it reached that country.
The Joint Commission under the act of the last session for carrying into effect the Convention with Peru on the subject of claims, has been organized at Lima, and is engaged in the business intrusted to it.
Difficulties concerning interoceanic transit through Nicaragua, are in course of amicable adjustment.
In conformity with principles set forth in my last Annual Message, I have received a representative from the United States of Colombia, and have accredited a Minister to that Republic.
Incidents occurring in the progress of our civil war have forced upon my attention the uncertain state of internátional questions touching the rights of foreigners in this country and of United States citizens abroad.
In regard to some Governments, these rights are at least partially defined by treaties. In no instance, however, is it expressly stipulated that in the event of civil war a foreigner residing in this country, within the lines of the insurgents, is to be exempted from the rule which classes him as a belligerent, in whose behalf the Government of his country cannot expect any privileges or immunities distinct from that
character. I regret to say, however, that such claims have been put forward, and, in some instances, in behalf of foreigners who have lived in the United States the greater part of their lives.
There is reason to believe that many persons born in foreign countries, who have declared their intention to become citizens, or who have been fully naturalized, have evaded the military duty required of them by denying the fact, and thereby throwing upon the Government the burden of proof. It has been found difficult or impracticable to obtain this proof, from the want of guides to the proper sources of information. These might be supplied by requiring Clerks of Courts, where declarations of intention may be made, or naturalizations effected, to send periodically lists of the names of the persons naturalized or declaring their inten. tion to become citizens, to the Secretary of the Interior, in whose Department those names might be arranged and printed for general informa. tion. There is also reason to believe that foreigners frequently become citizens of the United Statos for the sole purpose of evading duties inposed by the laws of their native countries, to which, on becoming naturalized here, they at once repair, and though never returning to the United States, they still claim the interposition of this Government as citizens.
Many altercations and great prejudices have heretofore arisen out of this abuse. It is, therefore, submitted to your serious consideration. It might be advisable to fix a limit beyond which no citizen of the United States residing abroad may claim the interposition of his Government.
The right of suffrage has often been assumed and exercised by aliens under pretences of naturalization, which they have disavowed when drafted into the military service.
Satisfactory arrangements have been made with the Emperor of Russia, which, it is believed, will result in effecting a continuous line of telegraph through that Empire from our Pacific coast.
I recommend to your favorable consideration the subject of an international telegraph across the Atlantic Ocean, and also of a telegraph between this Capital and the national forts along the Atlantic seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico. Such communications, established with any reasonable outlay, would be economical as well as effective aids to the diplomatic, milita and naval service.
The Consular system of the United States, under the enactments of the last Congress, begins to be self-sustaining, and there is reason to hope that it may become entirely so with the increase of trade, which will ensue whenever peace is restored.
Our Ministers abroad have been faithful in defending American
rights. In protecting commercial interests, our Consuls have necessarily had to encounter increased labors and responsibilities growing out of the
These they have, for the most part, met and discharged with zeal and efficiency. This acknowledgment justly includes those Consuls who, residing in Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Japan, China, and other Oriental countries, are charged with complex functions and extraordinary powers.
The condition of the several organized territories is generally satisfactory, although Indian disturbances in New Mexico have not been entirely suppressed.
The mineral resources of Colorado, Nevada, Idaho, New Mexico, and Arizona, are proving far richer than has been heretofore understood. I lay before you a communication on this subject from the Governor of New Mexico. I again submit to your consideration the expediency of establishing a systom for the encouragement of emigration. Although this source of national wealth and strength is again flowing with greater freedom than for several years before the insurrection occurred, there is still a great deficiency of laborers in every field of industry, especially in agriculture and in our mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals. While the demand for labor is thus increased here, tens of thousands of persons, destitute of remunerative occupation, are thronging our foreigu consulates, and offering to emigrate to the United States, if essential, but very cheap, assistance can be afforded them. It is easy to see that under the sharp discipline of civil war the nation is beginning a new life. This noble effort demands the aid, and ought to receive the attention and support of the Government.
Injuries unforeseen by the Government, and unintended, may cases have been inflicted on the subjects or citizens of foreign countries, both at sea and on land, by persons in the service of the United States. As this Government expects redress from other Powers when similar injuries are inflicted by persons in their service upon citizens of the United States, we must be prepared to do justice to foreigners. If the existing judicial tribunals are inadequate to this purpose, a special Court niay be authorized, with power to hear and decide such claims of the character referred to as may have arisen under treaties and the public law. Conventions for adjusting the claims by joint commission have been proposed to some Governments, but no definite answer to the proposition has yet been received from any.
In the course of jhe session I shall probably have occasion to request you to provide indemnification to claimants where decrees of restitution
have been rendered, and damages awarded by Admiralty Courts, and in other cases, where this Government 'may be acknowledged to be liable in principle, and where the amount of that liability bas been ascertained by an informal arbitration, the proper officers of the Treas. ury have deemed themselves required by the law of the United States upon the subject, to demand a tax upon the incomes of foreign Con. suls in this country. While such a demand may not, in strictness, be in derogation of public law, or perhaps of any existing treaty between the United States and a foreign country, the expediency of so far modi. fying the act as to exempt from tax the income of such consuls as are not citizens of the United States, derived from the emoluments of their office, or from property not situate in the United States, is submitted to your serious consideration. I make this suggestion upon the ground that a comity which ought to be reciprocated exempts our Consuls in all other countries from taxation to the extent thus indicated. The United States, I think, ought not to be exceptionably illiberal to international trade and commerce.
The operations of the Treasury during the last year have been successfully conducted. The enactment by Congress of a National Banking Law has proved a valuable support of the public credit, and the general legislation in relation to loans has fully answered the expectation of its favorers. Some amendments may be required to perfect existing laws, but no change in their principles or general scope is believed to be needed. Since these measures have been in operation, all demands on the Treasury, including the pay of the Army and Navy, have been promptly met and fully satisfied. No considerable body of troops, it is believed, were ever more amply provided and more liberally and punctually paid; and, it may be added, that by no people were the burdens incident to a great war more cheerfully borne.
The receipts during the year, from all sources, including loans and the balance in the Treasury at its commencement, were $901,125,674 86, and the aggregate disbursements $895,796,630 65, leaving a balance on the 1st of July, 1863, of $5,329,044 21. Of the receipts, there were derived from Customs $69,059,642 40; from Internal Revenue, $37,640,787 95; from direct tax, $1,485,103 61; from lands, $167,617 17; from miscellaneous sources, $3,046,615 35; and from loans, $776,682,361 57, making the aggregate $901,125,674 86. Of the disbursements there were for tho civil service $23,253,922 08; for pensions and Indians, $4,216,520 79; for interest on public debt, $24,729,846 51; for the War Department, $599,298,600 83; for the