« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
same common cause.
acquisition; and particularly to geographical and astronomical science. Looking back to the history only of half the century since the declaration of our independence, and observing the generous emulation with which the governments of France, Great Britain, and Russia, have devoted the genius, the intelligence, the treasures of their respective nations, to the common improvement of the species in these branches of science, is it not incumbent upon us to inquire whether we are not bound by obligations of a high and honorable character to contribute our portion of energy and exertion to the common stock? The voyages of discovery prosecuted in the course of that time at the expense of those nations, have not only redounded to their glory, but to the improvement of human knowledge. We have been partakers of that improvement, and owe for it a sacred debt, not only of gratitude, but of equal and proportional exertion in the
of the cost of these undertakings, if the mere expenditures of outfit, equipment, and completion of the expeditions, were to be considered the only charges, it would be unworthy of a great and generous nation to take a second thought. One hundred expeditions of circumnavigation, like those of Cook and La Perouse, would not burden the exchequer of the nation fitting them out, so much as the ways and means of defraying a single campaign in war. But if we take into the account the lives of those benefactors of mankind, of which their services in the cause of their species were the purchase, how shall the cost of those heroic enterprises be estimated? And what compensation can be made to them, or to their countries for them? Is it not by bearing them in affectionate remembrance ? Is it not still more by imitating their example? by enabling countrymen of our own to pursue the same career, and to hazard their lives in the same cause ?
On inviting the attention of Congress on the subject of internal improvements, upon a view thus enlarged, it is not my design to recommend the equipment of an expedition for circumnavigating the globe for purposes o! scientific research and inquiry. We have objects of useful investigation nearer home, and to which our cares may be more beneficially applied. The incr.or of our own territories has yet been very imperfectiy explored. Our coasts, along many degrees of latitude upon the shores of the Pacific ocean, though much frequented by our spirited commercial navigators, have been barely visited by our public ships. The river of the west, first fully discovered and navigated by a countryman of our own, still bears the name of the ship in which he ascended its waters, and claims the protection of our armed national flag at its mouth. With the establishment of a military post there, or at some other point of that coast, recommended by my predecessor, and already matured in the deliberations of the last Congress, I would suggest the expediency of connecting the equipment of a public ship for the exploration of the whole north-west coast of this continent.
The establishment of a uniform standard of weights and measures, was one of the specific objects contemplated in the formation of our constitution ; and to fix that standard was one of the powers delegated by express terms, in that instrument, to Congress. The governments of Great Britain and France have scarcely ceased to be occupied with inquiries and speculations on the same subject, since the existence of our constitution; and with them it has expanded into profound, laborious, and expensive researches into the figure of the earth, and the comparative length of the pendulum vibrating seconds in various latitudes, from the equator to the pole. These researches have resulted in the composition and publication of several works highly interesting to the cause of science. The experiments are yet in the process of performance. Some of them have recently been made on our own shores, within the walls of one of our own colleges, and partly by one of our own fellow-citizens. It would be honorable to our country is the sequel of the same experiments should be countenanced by the patronage of our government, as they have hitherto been by those of France and Great Britain.
Connected with the establishment of a university, or separate from it, might be undertaken the erection o, an astronomical observatory, with provision for the support of an astronomer, to be in constant attendance of observation upon the phenomena of the heavens ; and for the periodical publication of his observations. It is with no feeling of pride, as an American, that the remark may be made, that, on the comparatively small territorial surface of Europe, there are existing upwards of one hundred and thirty of these light-houses of the skies; while throughout the whole American hemisphere there is not one. If we reflect a moment upon the discoveries which, in the last four centuries, have been made in the physical constitution of the universe, by the means of these buildings, and of observers stationed in them, shall we doub: of their usefulness to every nation? And while scarcely a year passes over our heads without bringing some new astronomical discovery to light, which we must fain receive at second hand from Europe, are we not cutting ourselves off from the means of returning light for light, while we have neither observatory nor observer upon our half of the globe, and the earth revolves in perpetual darkness to our unsearching eyes?
When, on the 25th of October, 1791, the first President of the United States announced to Congress the result of the first enumeration of the inhabitants of this Union, he informed them that the returns gave the pleasing assurance that the population of the United States bordered on four millions of persons. At the distance of thirty years from that time, the last enumeration, five years since completed, presented a population bordering on ten millions. Perhaps of all the evidences of a prosperous and happy condition of human society, the rapidity of the increase of population is the most unequivocal. But the demonstration of our prosperity rests not alone upon this indication. Our commerce, our wealth, and the extent of our territories have increased in corresponding proportions; and the number of independent communities, associated in our federal Union, has, since that time, nearly doubled. The legislative representation of the states and people, in the two houses of Congress, has grown with the growth of their constituent bodies. The House, which then consisted of sixty-five members, now numbers upwards of two hundred. The Senate,
which consisted of twenty-six members, has now forty. eight. But the executive, and still more the judiciary departments, are yet in a great measure confined to their primitive organization, and are now not adequate to the urgent wants of a still growing community.
The naval armaments, which at an early period forced themselves upon the necessities of the Union, soon led to the establishment of a department of the navy. But the departments of foreign affairs and of the interior, which, early after the formation of the government, had been united in one, continue so united to this time to the unquestionable detriment of the public service. The multiplication of our relations with the nations and go vernments of the old world, has kept pace with that of our population and commerce, while, within the last ten years, a new family of nations, in our own hemisphere, has arisen among the inhabitants of the earth, with whom our intercourse, commercial and political, would, of itself, furnish occupation to an active and industrious department. The constitution of the judiciary, experimental and imperfect as it was, even in the infancy of our existing government, is yet more inadequate to the admin. istration of national justice at our present maturity. Nine years have elapsed since a predecessor in this office, now not the last, the citizen who perhaps of all others through. out the Union, contributed most to the formation and establishment of our constitution, in his valedictory address to Congress, immediately preceding his retirement from public life, urgently recommended the revision of the judiciary, and the establishment of an additional executive department. The exigencies of the public service and its unavoidable deficiencies, as now in exercise, have added yearly cumulative weight to the considerations presented by him as persuasive to the measure; and in recommending it to your deliberations, I am happy to have the influence of his high authority in aid of the undoubting convictions of my own experience.
The laws relating to the administration of the Patent Office are deserving of much consideration, and perhaps susceptible of some improvement. The grant of power to regulate the action of Congress on this subject, has
pecified both the end to be obtained and the means by which it is to be effected, “ to promote the progress of science and the useful arts, by securing, for limited times, to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries." If an honest pride might be indulged in the reflection, that on the records of that office are already found inventions, the usefulness of which has scarcely been transcended in the annals of human ingenuity, would not its exultation be allayed by the inquiry, whether the laws have effectively insured to the inventors the reward destined to them by the constitution—even a limited term of exclusive right to their discoveries ?
On the 24th of December, 1799, it was resolved by Congress, that a marble monument should be erected by the United States, in the capitol, at the city of Washington; that the family of General Washington should be requested to permit his body to be deposited under it; and that the monument be so designed as to commemorate the great events of his military and political life. In reminding Congress of this resolution, and that the monument contemplated by it remains yet without execution, I shall indulge only the remarks, that the works at the capitol are approaching to completion ; that the consent of the family, desired by the resolution, was requested and obtained ; that a monument has been recently erected in this city, over the remains of another dirtinguished patriot of the revolution; and that a spot has been reserved within the walls where you are deliberating for the benefit of this and future ages, in which the mortal remains may be deposited of him whose spirit hovers over you, and listens with delight to every act of the representatives of his nation which can tend to exalt and adorn his and their country
The constitution under which you are assembled, is a charter of limited powers.
After full and solemn deliberation upon all or any of the objects which, urged by an irresistible sense of my own duty, I have recommended to your attention, should you come to the conclusion, that, however desirable in themselves, the enactment of laws for effecting them would transcend the powers committed