Message of the President.
The following Message from President Buchanan
was sent into Congress on Monday:
To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States:
I deem it my duty to submit to Congress a series of resolutions adopted by the Legislature of Virginia on the 19th inst., having in view a peaceful settlement of the existing questions which now threaten this Union.--They were delivered to me on Thursday, the 24th inst., by Ex-President Tyler
, who has left his dignified and honored retirement in the hope that he may render some service to his country in this its hour of need.
These resolutions, it will be perceived, extend an invitation to all such States, whether slaveholding or non-slaveholding, as are willing to unite with each other in an earnest effort to adjust the present unhappy difficulties in the spirit in which the Constitution
was originally formed and consistently with its principles, so as to afford the people of the slaveholding States adequate guarantees for the security of their rights, to appoint Commissioners to meet on the 4th day of February next, in the city of Washington
, similar Commissioners appointed by Virginia
to consider, and if practicable, agree upon some sort of adjustment.
I confess I hail this movement on the part of Virginia
with great satisfaction.
From the past history of this ancient and renowned Commonwealth, we have the fullest assurance that what she has undertaken she will accomplish, if it can be done by able, enlightened, and persevering efforts.
It is highly gratifying to know that other patriotic States have appointed Commissioners to meet those of Virginia
, in council.
When assembled, they will constitute a body entitled, in an eminent degree, to the confidence of the country.
The Federal Assembly of Virginia have also resolved, ‘"That Ex-President Tyler
is hereby appointed, by the concurrent vote of each branch of the General Assembly, a Commissioner to the President
of the United States
, and Judge John Robertson
is hereby appointed, by a like vote, a Commissioner to the State of South Carolina
and all other seceding States that have seceded, or shall secede, with instructions to respectfully request the President
of the United States
and the authorities of such States to agree to abstain, pending the proceedings contemplated by the action of this General Assembly, from any and all acts calculated to produce a collision of arms between the States and the Government
of the United States
However strong may be my desire to enter into such an agreement, I am convinced that I do not possess the power.
Congress, and Congress alone, under the war-making power, can exercise the discretion of agreeing to abstain from any and all acts calculated to produce a collision of arms between this and any other Government.
It would therefore be a usurpation for the Executive
to attempt to restrain their hands by an agreement in regard to matters over which he has no constitutional control.
If he were thus to act they might pass laws which he would be forced to obey, though in conflict with his agreement.
Under existing circumstances, my present actual power is confined within narrow limits.
It is my duty at all times to defend and protect the Federal
property within the seceding States, so far as this may be practicable, and especially to employ the constitutional means to protect the property of the United States
, and to preserve the public peace of this the seat of the Federal Government
If the seceding States abstain from any and all acts calculated to produce a collision of arms, then the danger so much to be deprecated will no longer exist.
Defence and not aggression has been the policy of the Administration from the beginning.
But whilst I can enter into no engagement such as that proposed, I cordially commend to Congress, with much confidence that it will meet their approbation, to abstain from passing any law calculated to produce a collision of arms, pending the proceedings contemplated by the action of the General Assembly of Virginia
I am one of those who will never despair of the Republic
I yet cherish the belief that the American
people will perpetuate the union of the States on some terms just and honorable for all sections of the country.
I trust that the mediation of Virginia
may be the destined means, under Providence
, of accomplishing this inestimable benefit.
Glorious as are the memories of her past history, such an achievement, both in relation to her own fame and the welfare of the whole country, would surpass them all.
, Jan. 28, 1861.