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MADISON'S INAUGURAL ADDRESS,
March 4, 1809.
Unwilling to depart from examples of the most revered authority, I avail myself of the occasion now presented, to express the profound impression made on me by the call of my country to the station, to the duties of which I am about to pledge myself by the most solemn of sanctions. So distinguished a mark of confidence, proceeding from the deliberate and tranquil suffrage of a free and virtuous nation, would, under any circumstances, have commanded my gratitude and devotion, as well as filled me with an awful sense of the trust to be assumed. Under the various circumstances which give peculiar solemnity to the existing period, I feel that both the honor and the responsibility allotted to me are inexpressibly enhanced.
The present situation of the world is indeed without a parallel, and that of our own country full of difficulties. The pressure of these too is the more severely felt, because they have fallen upon us at a moment when the national prosperity being at a height not before attained, the contrast resulting from the change has been rendered the more striking. Under the benign influence of our republican institutions, and the maintenance of peace with all nations, whilst so many of them were engaged in bloody and wastoful wars, the fruits of a just policy were enjoyed in an unrivalled growth of our faculties and re
Proofs of this were seen in the improvements of agriculture; in the successful enterprises of commerce ; in the progress of manufactures and useful arts ; in the increase of the public revenue, and the use made of it in reducing the public debt; and in the valuable works and establishments every where multiplying over the face of our land.
It is a precious reflection that the transition from this prosperous condition of our country, to the scene which has for some time been distressing us, is not chargeable on any unwarrantable views, nor, as I trust, on any invoi
untary errors in the public councils. Indulging no pas. sions which tresspass on the rights or repose of other na tions, it has been the true glory of the United States to cultivate peace by observing justice; and to entitle themselves to the respect of the nations at war, by fulfilling their neutral obligations with the most scrupulous impartiality. If there be candor in the world, the truth of these assertions will not be questioned; posterity, at least, will do justice to them.
This unexceptionable course could not avail against the injustice and violence of the belligerent powers. In their rage against each other, or impelled by more direct motives, principles of retaliation have been introduced, equally contrary to universal reason and acknowledged law. How long their arbitrary edicts will be continued, in spite of the demonstrations that not even a pretext for them has been given by the United States, and of the fair and liberal attempt to induce a revocation of them, cannot be anticipated. Assuring myself that, under every vicissitude, the determined spirit and united councils of the nation will be safeguards to its honor and its essential interests, I repair to the post assigned me with no other discouragement than what springs from my own inadequacy to its high duties. If I do not sink under the weight of this deep conviction, it is because I find some support in a consciousness of the purposes, and a confidence in the principles, which I bring with me into this arduous service.
To cherish peace and friendly intercourse with all nations having corresponding dispositions ; to maintain sincere neutrality towards belligerent nations; to prefer in all cases amicable discussion and reasonable accommodation of differences to a decision of them by an appeal to arms; to exclude foreign intrigues and foreign partialities, so degrading to all countries, and so baneful to free ones; to foster a spirit of dependence, too just to invade the rights of others, too proud to surrender our own, too liberal to indulge unworthy prejudices ourselves, and too elevated not to look down upon them in others; to hold the union of the states as the basis of their peace and happiness; to support the constitution, which is the cement of the Union, as well in its limitations as in its authorities ; to respect the rights and authorities reservea to the states and to the people, as equally incorporated with, and essential to the success of, the general system; to avoid the slightest interference with the rights of conscience or the functions of religion, so wisely exempted from civil jurisdiction; to preserve in their full energy, the other salutary provisions in behalf of private and per. sonal rights, and of the freedom of the press; to observe economy in public expenditures; to liberate the public resources by an honorable discharge of the public debts, to keep within the requisite limits a standing military force, always remembering that an armed and trained militia is the firmest bulwark of republics—that without standing armies their liberty can never be in danger, nor with large ones safe; to promote, by authorized means, improvements friendly to agriculture, to manufactures, and to external as well as internal commerce; to favor, in like manner, the advancement of science and the diffusion of information as the best aliment to true liberty; 10 carry on the benevolent plans which have been so meritoriously applied to the conversion of our aboriginal neighbors from the degradation and wretchedness of savage life, to a participation of the improvements of which the human mind and manners are susceptible in a civilized state: as far as sentiments and intentions such as these can aid the fulfilment of my duty, they will be a resource which cannot fail me.
It is my good fortune, moreover, to have the path in which I am to tread, lighted by examples of illustrious services, successfully rendered in the most trying difficulties, by those who have marched before me. Of those of my immediate predecessor it might least become me here to speak. I may, however, be pardoned for not suppressing the sympathy with which my heart is full, in the rich reward he enjoys in the benedictions of a beloved country, gratefully bestowed for exalted talents, zealously devoted, through a long career, to the advancement of its highest interest and happiness.
But the source to which I look for the aids which alone can supply my deficiencies, is in the well-tried intelligence
and virtue of my fellow-citizens, and in the counsels o those representing them in the best other departments associated in the care of the national interests. In these my confidence will under every difficulty be placed, next to that in which we have all been encouraged to feel in the guardianship and guidance of that Almighty Being whose power regulates the destiny of nations, whose bless ings have been so conspicuously dispensed to this rising republic, and to whom we are bound to address our de vout gratitude for the past, as well as our fervent suppli cations and best hopes for the future.
MADISON'S FIRST ANNUAL MESSAGE,
NOVEMBER 29, 1809.
Fellow-citizens of the Senate,
and House of Representatives: At the period of our last meeting, I had the satisfaction of communicating an adjustment with one of the principal belligerent nations, highly important in itself, and still more so, as presaging a more extended accommodation. It is with deep concern I am now to inform you, that the favorable prospect has been overclouded by a refusal of the British government to abide by the act of its minister plenipotentiary, and by its ensuing policy towards the United States, as seen through the cornmunications of the minister sent to replace him.
Whatever pleas may be urged for a disavowal of en. gagements formed by diplomatic functionaries, in cases where, by the terms of the engagements, a mutual ratification is reserved; or where notice at the time
have been given of a departure from instructions; or in extraordinary cases, essentially violating the principles of equity: a disavowal could not have been apprehended in a case where no such notice or violation existed; where no such ratification was reserved ; and, more especially, where, as is now in proof, an engagement, to be executed without any such ratification, was contemplated by the instructions given, and where it had, with good faith, been carried into immediate execution on the part of the United States.
These considerations not having restrained the British government from disavowing the arrangement, by virtue of which its orders in council were to be revoked, and the event authorizing the renewal of commercial intercourse having thus not taken place, it necessarily became a question of equal urgency and importance, whether the act prohibiting that intercourse was not to be considered as remaining in legal force. This question being, after due deliberation, determined in the affirmative, a proclamation to that effect was issued. It could not but happen, however, that a return to this state of things, from that which had followed an execution of the arrangement by the United States, would involve difficulties. With a view to diminish these as much as possible, the instructions from the Secretary of the Treasury, now laid before you, were transmitted to the collectors of the several ports. If, in permitting British vessels to depart without giving bonds not to proceed to their own ports, it should appear that the tenor of legal authority has not been strictly pursued, it is to be ascribed to the anxious desire which was felt that no individuals should be injured by so unforeseen an occurrence: and I rely on the regard of Congress for the equitable itnerests of our own citizens, to adopt whatever further provisions may be found requisite for a general remission of penalties involuntarily incurred.
The recall of the disavowed minister having been fol. lowed by the appointment of a successor, hopes were indulged that the new mission would contribute to allevi. ate the disappointment which had been produced, and to remove the causes which had so long embarrassed the good understanding of the two nations. It could not be doubted, that it would at least be charged with conciliatory explanations of the steps which had been taken, and with proposals to be substituted for the rejected arrange ment. Reasonable and universal as this expectation was,