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the regular armed force has been reduced, and its constitution revised and perfected; the accountability for the expenditures of public moneys has been made more effective; the Floridas have been peaceably acquired, and our boundary has been extended to the Pacific ocean; the independence of the southern nations of this hemisphere has been recognized, and recommended by example and by counsel to the potentates of Europe progress has been made in the defence of the country by fortifications, and the increase of the navy-towards the effectual suppression of the African traffic in slaves-in alluring the aboriginal hunters of our land to the cultivation of the soil and of the mind-in exploring the interior regions of the Union, and in preparing, by scientific researches and surveys, for the further application of our national resources to the internal improvement of our country.
In this brief outline of the promise and performance of my immediate predecessor, the line of duty for his successor is ciearly delineated. To pursue to their consummation those purposes of improvement in our common condition, instituted or recommended by him, will embrace the whole sphere of my obligations. To the topic of internal improvement, emphatically urged by him at his inauguration, I recur with peculiar satisfaction. It is that from which I am convinced that the unborn millions of our posterity, who are in future ages to people this continent, will derive their most fervent gratitude to the founders of the Union ; that in which the beneficent action of its government will be most deeply felt and acknowledged. The magnificence and splendor of their public works are among the imperishable glories of the ancient republics. The roads and aqueducts of Rome have been the admiration of all aster-ages, and have survived thousands of years, after all her conquests have been swallowed up in despotism, or become the spoil of barbarians. Some diversity of opinion has prevailed with regard to the powers of Congress for legislation upon objects of this nature. The most respectful deference is due to doubts, originating in pure patriotism, and sustained by venerated authority. But nearly twenty years have passed since the construc. tion of the first national road was commenced. The authority for its construction was then unquestioned. To how many thousands of our countrymen has it proved a benefit? To what single individual has it ever proved an injury? Repeated, liberal and candid discussions in the legislature have conciliated the sentiments, and approximated the opinions of enlightened minds, upon the question of constitutional power. I cannot but hope that, by the same process of friendly, patient, and persevering deliberation, all constitutional objections will ultimately be removed. The extent and limitation of the powers of the general government, in relation to this transcendently important interest, will be settled and acknowledged to the common satisfaction of all; and every speculative scruple will be solved by a practical public blessing.
Fellow-citizens, you are acquainted with the peculiar circumstances of the recent elections, which have resulted in affording me the opportunity of addressing you at this time. You have heard the exposition of the principles which will direct me in the fulfilment of the high and solemn trust imposed upon me in this station. Less possessed of your confidence in advance than any of my predecessors, I am deeply conscious of the prospect that I shall stand, more and oftener, in need of your indul. gence. Intentions, upright and pure; a heart devoted to the welfare of our country, and the unceasing application of the faculties allotted to me to her service, are all the pledges that I can give to the faithful performance of the arduous duties I am to undertake. To the guidance of the legislative councils; to the assistance of the executive and subordinate departments; to the friendly cooperation of the respective state governments; to the candid and liberal support of the people, so far as it may be deserved by honest industry and zeal, I shall look for whatever success may attend my public service: and knowing that, except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in
in, with fervent supplications for his favor, to his overruling providence I commit, with humble but fearless confidence, my own fate and the futuro destinies of my country.
J. Q. ADAMS' FIRST ANNUAL MESSAGE,
DECEMBER 6, 1825
To the Senate, and
House of Representatives of the United States : In taking a general survey of the concerns of our be loved country, with reference to subjects interesting to the common welfare, the first sentiment which impresses itself upon the mind, is of gratitude to the Omnipotent Disposer of all good, for the continuance of the signal blessings of his providence, and especially for that health, which, to an unusual extent, has prevailed within our borders, and for that abundance which, in the vicissitudes of the seasons, has been scattered with profusion over our land. Nor ought we less to ascribe to Him the glory, that we are permitted to enjoy the bounties of his hand in peace and tranquillity-in peace with all the other nations of the earth, in tranquillity among ourselves. There has, indeed, rarely been a period in the history of civilized man, in which the general condition of the Christian nations has been marked so extensively by peace and prosperity.
Europe, with a few partial and unhappy exceptions, has enjoyed ten years of peace, during which all her governments, whatever the theory of their constitutions may have been, are successively taught to feel that the end of their institutions is the happiness of the people, and that the exercise of power among men can be justified only by the blessings it confers upon those over whom it is extended.
During the same period, our intercourse with all those nations has been pacific and friendly; it so continues. Since the close of your late session, no material variation has occurred in our relations with any one of them. In the commercial and navigation system of Great Britain, important changes of municipal regulations have recently been sanctioned by the acts of parliament, the effect of which upon
the interests of other nations, and particularly upon ours, has not yet been fully developed. In the recent renewal of the diplomatic missions, on both sides, between the two governments, assurances have been given and received of the continuance and increase of the mutual confidence and cordiality by which the adjust ment of many points of difference has already been effected, and which affords the surest pledge for the ultimate satisfactory adjustment of those which still remain open, or may hereafter arise.
The policy of the United States, in their commercial intercourse with other nations, has always been of the most liberal character. In the mutual exchange of their respective productions, they have abstained altogether from prohibitions ; they have interdicted themselves the power of laying taxes upon exports, and whenever they have favored their own shipping, by special preferences or exclusive privileges in their own ports, it has been only with a view to countervail similar favors and exclusions granted by the nations with whom we have been engaged in traffic, to their own people or shipping, and to the disadvantage of ours. Immediately after the close of the last war, a proposal was fairly made by the act of Congress of the 3d March, 1815, to all maratime nations, to lay aside the system of retaliating restrictions and exclusions, and to place the shipping of both parties to the common trade on a footing of equality in respect to the duties of tonnage and impost. This offer was partially and successively accepted by Great Britain, Sweden, the · Netherlands, the Hanseatic cities, Prussia, Sardinia, the Duke of Oldenburg, and Russia. It was also adopted, under certain modifications, in our late commercial convention with France. And by the act of Congress of the 8th of January, 1824, it has received a new confirmation with all the nations who had acceded to it, and has been offered again to all those who are or may hereafter be willing to abide in reciprocity by it. But all these regulations, whether established by treaty or by municipal enactments, are still subject to one important restriction.
'The removal of discriminating duties of tonnage and impost, is limited to articles of the growth, produce, or manufacture of the country to which the vessel belongs, or to such articles as are most universally shipped - from her ports. It will deserve the serious consideration of Congress, whether even this remnant of restriction may not be safely abandoned, and whether the general tender of equal competition, made in the act of 8th January, 1824, may not be extended to include all articles of merchandise not prohibited, of what country soever they may be the produce or manufacture. Propositions to this effect have already been made to us by more than one European government, and it is probable that if once established by legislation or compact with any distinguished maratime state, it would recommend itself, by the experience of its advantages, to the general accession of all.
The convention of commerce and navigation between the United States and France, concluded on the 24th of June, 1822, was, in the understanding and intent of both parties, as appears upon its face, only a temporary arrangement of the points of difference between them of the most immediate and pressing urgency. It was limited, in the first instance, to two years from the first of October, 1822, but with a proviso, that it should further continue in force till the conclusion of a general and definitive treaty of commerce, unless terminated by a notice six months in advance, of either of the parties to the other. Its operation, so far as it extended, has been mutuaily advantageous; and it still continues in force, by
But it left unadjusted several objects of great interest to the citizens and subjects of both countries, and particularly a mass of claims, to considerable amount, of citizens of the United States
government of France, of indemnity for property taken or destroyed, under circumstances of the most aggravated and outrageous character. In the long period during which continued and earnest appeals have been made to the equity and magnanimity of France, in behalf of those claims, their justice has not been, as it could not be, denied. It was hoped that the accession of a new sovereign to the throne, would have afforded a favorable opportunity for presenting them to the consideration of his government. They have been presented and urged, hitherto without effect. The repeated and earnest representations of our minister at the court of France, remains as