Изображения страниц

interest therein referred to, you will learn from it that tho Secretary has instituted an inquiry into abuses which pro mises to develope gross enormities in connection with Indian treaties which have been negotiated, as well as the expenditures for the removal and subsistence of the Indians. He represents, also, other irregularities of a serious nature that have grown up in the practice of the Indian department, which will require the appropriation of upwards of $200,000 to correct, and which claim the immediate attention of Congress.

In reflecting on the proper means of defending the country, we cannot shut vur eyes to the consequences which the introduction and use of the power of steam upon the ocean are likely to produce in wars between maritime States. We cannot yet see the extent to which this power may be applied in belligerent operations, connecting it. self as it does with recent improvements in the science of gunnery and projectiles ; but we need have no fear of being left, in regard to these things, behind the most active and skilful of other nations, if the genius and enterprise of our fellow-citizens receive proper encouragement and direction from Government.

True wisdom would, nevertheless, seem to dictate the necessity of placing in perfect condition those fortifications which are designed for the protection of our princi pal cities and railroads. For the defence of our extended maritime coast, our chief reliance should be placed on our Navy, aided by those inventions which are destined to recommend themselves to public adoption. But no time should be lost in placing our principal cities on the seaboard and the lakes in a state of entire security from foreign assault. Separated as we are from the countries of the old world, and in much unaffected by their policy, we are happily relieved from the necessity of maintaining large standing armies in times of peace. The policy which was adopted by Mr. Monroe, shortly after the conclusion of the laie war with Great Britain, of preserving a regular organized staff sufficient for the command of a large military force, should a necessity for one arise, is founded as well in economy as in true wisdom. Provision is thus made, upon filling up the rank and file, which can readily be done on any emergency, for the introduction of a sys. tem of discipline both promptly and efficiently. All that is required in time of peace is to maintain a sufficient number of men to guard our fortifications, to meet any sudden contingency, and to encounter the first shock of war. Our chief reliance must be placed on the militia. They constitute the great body of national guards, and, inspired by an ardent love of country, will be found ready at all times, and at all seasons, to repair with alacrity to its defence. It will be regarded by Congress, I doubt not, at a suitable time, as one of its highest duties to attend to their complete organization and discipline.

The state of the Navy Pension Fund requires the immediate attention of Congress. By the operation of the act of the 3d of March, 1837, entitled "An act for the more equitable administration of the Navy Pension Fund," that fund has been exhausted. It will be seen from the accompanying report of the Commissioner of pensions that there will be required for the payment of Navy pensioners, on the first of July next, $84,006 063, and on the first of January, 1842, the sum of $60,000. In addition to these sums, about $6,000 will be required to pay arrears of pensions, which will probably be allowed between the first of July and the first of January, 1842, making in the whole, $150,006 063. To meet these payments there is within the control of the department the sum of $28,040, leaving a deficit of $121,966 06}. The public faith requires that immediate provision should be made for the payment of these sums.

In order to introduce into the Navy a desirable efficiency, a new system of accountability may be found to be indispensably necessary. To mature a plan having for its object the accomplishment of an end so important, and to meet the just expectations of the country, require more time than has yet been allowed to the Secretary at the head of the department. The hope is indulged that by the time of your next regular session measures of importance, in connexion with this branch of the public ser. vice, may be matured for your consideration.

A though the laws regulating the Post-Office department only require from the officer charged wth its direction

to report at the usual annual session of Congress, the Post Master General has presented to me some facts connected with the financial condition of the Department which are deemed worthy the attention of Congress.

By the accompanying report of that officer, it appears that the existing liabilities of that Department beyond the means of payment at its command cannot be less than five hundred thousand dollars. As the laws organizing that branch of the public service confine the expenditure to its own revenues, deficiencies therein cannot be presented under the usual estimates for the expenses of Government. It must therefore be left to Congress to determine whether the moneys now due to contractors shall be paid from the public Treasury, or whether that Department shall continue under its present embarrassments. It will be seen by the report of the Post Master General, that the recent lettings of contracts in several of the States, have been made at such reduced rates of compensation as to encourage the belief that, if the department was relieved from existing difficulties its future operations might be conducted without any further call upon the general Treasury. The

power of appointing to office is one of a character the most delicate and responsible. The appointing power is evermore exposed to be led into error.

With anxious solicitude to select the most trustworthy for official stations, I cannot be supposed to possess a personal knowledge of the cualifications of every applicant. I deem it therefure proper, in this most public manner, to invite, on the part of the Senate, a just scrutiny into the character and pretensions of every person whom I may bring to their notice in the regular form of a nomination for office. Unless persons every way trustworthy are employed in the public service, corruption and irregularity will inevitably follow. I shall with the greatest cheerfulness, acquiesce in the decision of that body, and, it is wisely constituted to the Executive department in the per• formance of this delicate duty, I shall look to its consen and advice,' as given only in furtherance of the best in terests of the country.

I shall, also, at the earliest proper occasion, invite the attention of Congress to such measures as in my judge ment will be best calculated to regulate and control the Executive power in reference to this vitally important subject.

I shall also, at the proper season, invite your personal attention to the statutory enactments for the suppression of the slave irade, which may require to be rendered more efficient in their provisions. There is reason to believe that the traffic is on the increase. Whether such increase is to be ascribed to the abolition of slave labor in the British possessions in our vicinity, and an attendant diminution in the supply of those articles which enter into the general consumption of the world, thereby augmenting the demand from other quarters, and thus calling for additional labor, it were needless to inquire. The highest considerations of public honor as well as the strongest promptings of humanity, require a resort to the most vigorous efforts to suppress the trade.

In conclusion, I beg to invite your particular attention to the interests of this District. Nor do I doubt that, in a liberal spirit of legislation, you will seek to advance its commercial as well as its local interests. Should Congress deem it to be its duty to repeal the existing SubTreasury law, the necessity of providing a suitable place of deposit for the public moneys which may be required within the District must be apparent to all.

I have felt it to be due to the country to present the foregoing topics to your consideration and reflection. Others, with which it might not seem proper to trouble you at an extraordinary session, will be laid before you at a future day. I am happy in committing the important affairs of the country into your hands. The tendency of public sentiment, I am pleased to believe, is towards the adoption, in a spirit of union and harmony, of such measures as will fortify the public interests.

To cherish such a tendency of public opinion is the task of an elevated patriotism. That differences of opinion as to the means of accomplishing these desirable objects should exist, is reasonably to be expected. Nor can all be made satisfied with any system of measures But I flatter myself with the hope that the great body of

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »