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Monroe, James 1759-1870

Fifth President of the United States; born in Westmoreland county, Va., April 28, 1759; graduated at the College of William and Mary in 1776; immediately joined the patriot army as a cadet in Mercer's regiment; and was in the engagements at Harlem Plains, White Plains, and Trenton. He Was wounded in the latter engagement, and was promoted to a captaincy for his bravery. In 1777-78 he was aide to Lord Stirling, and was distinguished at the battles of Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth. After the latter battle he left the army, studied law under Jefferson, and again took up arms when Virginia was invaded by Cornwallis. In 1780 he visited the Southern army under De Kalb as military commissioner from Virginia, and was a member of the Virginia Assembly in 1782. He soon became a member of the executive council, a delegate in Congress, and in his State convention in 1788 he opposed the ratification of the national Constitution. From 1790 to 1794 he was United States Senator. In May of the latter year he was appointed minister to France, though an opponent of Washington's administration, but was recalled in 1796, because of his opposition to Jay's treaty (see Jay, John). In defence of his conduct, he published the whole diplomatic correspondence with his government while he was in Paris. From 1799 to 1802 he was governor of Virginia, and in 1802 was sent as envoy to France. The next year he was United States minister at the Court of St. James. In 1805 he was associated with Charles C. Pinckney (q. v.) in a negotiation with Spain, and, with William Pinkney, he negotiated a treaty with England in 1807, which Jefferson rejected because it did not provide against impressments. Serving in his State Assembly, he was again elected governor in 1811, and was Madison's Secretary of State during a large portion of that President's administration. From September, 1814, to March, 1815, he performed the duties of Secretary of War.

Before the close of Madison's administration the Federal party had so much declined in strength that a nomination for office by the Democratic party was equivalent to an election. On March 16, 1816, a congressional Democratic caucus was held, at which the names of James Monroe and William H. Crawford (q. v.) were presented for nomination. There were many who did not like Monroe who were ready to press the nomination of Crawford, and, had he been inclined for a struggle, he might have received the votes of the caucus. There had been much intriguing before the caucus. At that gathering Henry Clay and John Taylor, of New York, moved that congressional caucus nominations for the Presidency were inexpedient and ought not to be continued. These motions having failed, Monroe received 65 votes to 54 for Crawford. Daniel D. Tompkins received 85 votes of the [238] caucus for Vice-President to 30 for Governor Snyder. After the election in the autumn it was found, when the votes of the electoral colleges were counted, that Monroe had received the votes of all the States excepting Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Delaware, which gave Rufus King 34 electoral votes. Three federal electors chosen in Maryland and one in Delaware did not vote at all.

Monroe received 183 of the 221 votes, and Tompkins the same number for Vice-President. Monroe was inaugurated on March 4, 1817, and entered upon the duties of his office under the most favorable circumstances. His inaugural address was liberal in its tone and gave general satisfaction; and the beginning of his administration was regarded as the dawning of an “era of good feeling.” President Monroe had been urged by General Jackson, with whom he was on terms of great intimacy, to disregard former party divisions in the formation of his cabinet, and to use his influence and power to destroy party spirit by appointing the best men to office without regard to their political preferences. He preferred to follow the example of Jefferson and Madison, and appoint only those of his own political faith. He chose John Quincy Adams, of Massachusetts, for Secretary of State; William H. Crawford, of Georgia, Secretary of the Treasury; and John C. Calhoun, of South Carolina, for Secretary of War. These were all aspirants for the Presidential chair. B. W. Crowninshield was continued Secretary of the Navy, to which office Madison had appointed him in December, 1814, and Richard Rush continued in the office of Attorney-General until succeeded, Nov. 13, 1817, by William Wirt. Return J. Meigs was continued Postmaster-General, to which office Madison had appointed him in 1817.

After his first term, so faithfully had President Monroe adhered to the promises of his inaugural address, that he was not only renominated, with Tompkins as Vice-President, but was elected by an almost unanimous vote in the electoral college. Only one elector voted against Monroe, and but fourteen against Tompkins. That reelection was at the commencement of a new political era. The reannexation of Florida to the United States, the recognized extension of the domain of the republic to the Pacific Ocean, and the partition of those new acquisitions between

Monroe's residence at Oak Hill, Va.


Tomb of Monroe.

freedom and slavery marked a new departure. All the old landmarks of party had been uprooted by embargoes and the war, and, by the question of the United States Bank, internal improvements, and the tariff, had been almost completely swept away. During his administration he recognized the independence of several of the South American states, and promulgated the “Monroe doctrine” (see below). He retired to private life in 1825, and in 1831, after the death of his wife, he left Virginia and made his residence with his son-in-law, Samuel L. Gouverneur, in the city of New York, where he died, July 4, 1831.

The Monroe doctrine.

This great national principle, which the United States has most strenuously maintained ever since its enunciation, was proclaimed by President Monroe in his message to Congress on Dec. 2, 1823. The declaration itself consists of but few words and is here printed in Italics; but to afford a fuller view of its far-reaching import, as well as to show the national conditions which called it forth, the entire message is reproduced as follows:

Fellow-citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives,—Many important subjects will claim your attention during the present session, of which I shall endeavor to give, in aid of your deliberations, a just idea in this communication. I undertake this duty with diffidence, from the vast extent of the interests on which I have to treat and of their great importance to every portion of our Union. I enter on it with zeal, from thorough conviction that there never was a period since the establishment of our Revolution when, regarding the condition of the civilized world and its bearing on us, there was greater necessity for devotion in the public servants to their respective duties, or for virtue, patriotism, and union in our constituents.

Meeting in you a new Congress, I deem it proper to present this view of public affairs in greater detail than might otherwise be necessary. I do it, however, with peculiar satisfaction, from a knowledge that in this respect I shall comply more fully with the sound principles of our government. The people being with us exclusively the sovereign, it is indispensable that full information be laid before them on all important subjects to enable them to exercise that high power with complete effect. If kept in the dark, they must be incompetent to it. We are all liable to error, and those who are engaged in the management of public affairs are more subject to excitement, and to be led astray by their particular interests and passions, than the great body of our constituents, who, being at home in the pursuit of their ordinary avocations, are calm but deeply interested spectators of events, and of the conduct of those who are parties to them. To the people, every department of the government and every individual in each are responsible, and the more full their information the better they can judge of the wisdom of the policy pursued, and of the conduct of each in regard to it. From their dispassionate judgment much aid may always be obtained, while their approbation will form the greatest incentive and most gratifying reward for virtuous actions, and the dread of their censure the best security against the abuse of their confidence. Their interests in all vital questions are the same, and the bond by sentiment as well as by interest will be proportionately strengthened as they are [240] better informed of the real state of public affairs, especially in difficult conjunctures. It is by such knowledge that local prejudices and jealousies are surmounted, and that a national policy, extending its fostering care and protection to all the great interests of our Union, is formed and steadily adhered to.

A precise knowledge of our relations with foreign powers, as respects our negotiations and transactions with each, is thought to be particularly necessary. Equally necessary is it that we should form a just estimate of our resources, revenue, and progress in every kind of improvement connected with the national prosperity and public defence. It is by Tendering justice to other nations that we may expect it from them. It is by our ability to resent injuries and redress wrongs that we may avoid them.

The commissioners under the fifth article of the treaty of Ghent, having disagreed in their opinions respecting that portion of the boundary between the territories of the United States and of Great Britain, the establishment of which had been submitted to them, have made their respective reports in compliance with that article, that the same might be referred to the decision of a friendly power. It being manifest, however, that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for any power to perform that office without great delay and much inconvenience to itself, a proposal has been made by this government, and acceded to by that of Great Britain, to endeavor to establish that boundary by amicable negotiation. It appearing, from long experience, that no satisfactory arrangement could be formed of the commercial intercourse between the United States and the British colonies in this hemisphere by legislative acts, while each party pursued its own course without agreement or concert with the other, a proposal has been made to the British government to regulate this commerce by treaty, as it has been to arrange in like manner the just claim of the citizens of the United States inhabiting the States and Territories bordering on the lakes and rivers which empty into the St. Lawrence to the navigation of that river to the ocean. For these and other objects of high importance to the interests of both parties, a negotiation has been opened with the British government which, it is hoped, will have a satisfactory result.

The commissioners under the sixth and seventh articles of the treaty of Ghent, having successfully closed their labors in relation to the sixth, have proceeded to the discharge of those relating to the seventh. Their progress in the extensive survey required for the performance of their duties, justifies the presumption that it will be completed in the ensuing year.

The negotiation which had been long depending with the French government on several important subjects, and particularly for a just indemnity for losses sustained in the late wars by the citizens of the United States, under unjustifiable seizures and confiscations of their property, has not as yet had the desired effect. As this claim rests on the same principle with others which have been admitted by the French government, it is not perceived on what just grounds it can be rejected. A minister will be immediately appointed to proceed to France and resume the negotiations on this and other subjects which may arise between the two nations.

At the proposal of the Russian imperial government, made through the minister of the Emperor residing here, a full power and instructions have been transmitted to the minister of the United States at St. Petersburg, to arrange, by amicable negotiations, the respective rights and interests of the two nations on the northwest coast of this continent. A similar proposal has been made by his Imperial Majesty to the government of Great Britain, which has likewise been acceded to. The government of the United States has been desirous, by this friendly proceeding, of manifesting the great value which they have invariably attached to the friendship of the Emperor, and their solicitude to cultivate the best understanding with his government. In the discussions to which this interest has given rise, and in the arrangements by which they may terminate, the occasion has been judged proper for asserting, as a principle in which the rights and interests of the United States are involved, that the American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed [241] and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers.

Since the close of the last session of Congress, the commissioners and arbitrators for ascertaining and determining the amount of indemnification which may be due to citizens of the United States under the decision of his Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Russia, in conformity to the convention concluded at St. Petersburg, on July 12, 1822, have assembled in this city and organized themselves as a board for the performance of the duties assigned to them by that treaty. The commission constituted under the eleventh article of the treaty of Feb. 22, 1819, between the United States and Spain, is also in session here; and as the term of three years limited by the treaty for the execution of the trust will expire before the period of the next regular meeting of Congress, the attention of the legislature will be drawn to the measures which may be necessary to accomplish the objects for which the commission was instituted.

In compliance with a resolution of the House of Representatives adopted at their last session, instructions have been given to all the ministers of the United States accredited to the powers of Europe and America to propose the proscription of the African slave-trade by classing it under the denomination, and inflicting on its perpetrators the punishment, of piracy. Should this proposal be acceded to, it is not doubted that this odious and criminal practice will be promptly and entirely suppressed. It is earnestly hoped that it will be acceded to from a firm belief that it is the most effectual expedient that can be adopted for the purpose.

At the commencement of the recent war between France and Spain it was declared by the French government that it would grant no commissions to privateers, that neither the commerce of Spain herself nor of the neutral nations should be molested by the naval force of France, except in the breach of a lawful blockade. This declaration, which appears to have been faithfully carried into effect, concurring with principles proclaimed and cherished by the United States from the first establishment of their independence, suggested the hope that the time had arrived when the proposal for adopting it as a permanent and invariable rule in all future maritime wars might meet the favorable consideration of the great European powers. Instructions have accordingly been given to our ministers with France, Russia, and Great Britain, to make these proposals to their respective governments; and when the friends of humanity reflect on the essential amelioration to the condition of the human race which would result from the abolition of private war on the sea, and on the great facility by which it might be accomplished, requiring only the consent of a few sovereigns, an earnest hope is indulged that these overtures will meet with an attention animated by the spirit in which they were made, and that they will ultimately be successful.

The ministers who were appointed to the republics of Colombia and Buenos Ayres during the last session of Congress proceeded, shortly afterwards, to their destinations. Of their arrival there official intelligence has not yet been received. The minister appointed to the republic of Chile will sail in a few days. An early appointment will also be made to Mexico. A minister has been received from Colombia; and the other governments have been informed that ministers, or diplomatic agents of inferior grade, would be received from each accordingly, as they might prefer the one or the other.

The minister appointed to Spain proceeded, soon after his appointment, for Cadiz, the residence of the sovereign to whom he was accredited. In approaching that port, the frigate which conveyed him was warned off by the commander of the French squadron by which it was blockaded, and not permitted to enter, although apprised by the captain of the frigate of the public character of the person whom he had on board, the landing of whom was the sole object of his proposed entry. This act, being considered an infringement of the rights of ambassadors and of nations, will form a just cause of complaint to the government of France against the officer by whom it was committed.

The actual condition of the public finances more than realizes the favorable anticipations that were entertained of it [242] at the opening of the last session of Congress. On Jan. 1 there was a balance in the treasury of $4,237,427.55. From that time to Sept. 30 the receipts amounted to upward of $16,100,000, and the expenditures to $11,400,000. During the fourth quarter of the year it is estimated that the receipts will at least equal the expenditures, and that there will remain in the treasury on Jan. 1 next a surplus of nearly $9,000,000.

On Jan. 1, 1825, a large amount of the war debt and a part of the Revolutionary debt will become redeemable. Additional portions of the former will continue to become redeemable annually until the year 1835. It is believed, however, that, if the United States remain at peace, the whole of that debt may be redeemed by the ordinary revenue of those years, during that period, under the provisions of the act of March 3, 1817, creating the sinking fund; and in that case the only part of the debt that will remain after the year 1835 will be the $7,000,000 of 5 per cent. stock subscribed to the Bank of the United States, and the 3 per cent. Revolutionary debt, amounting to $13,296,099.06, both of which are redeemable at the pleasure of the government.

The state of the army and its organization and discipline has been gradually improving for several years, and has now attained a high degree of perfection. The military disbursements have been regularly made, and the accounts regularly and promptly rendered for settlement. The supplies of various descriptions have been of good quality, and regularly issued at all of the posts. A system of economy and accountability has been introduced into every branch of the service, which admits of little additional improvement. This desirable state has been attained by the act reorganizing the staff of the army, passed on April 14, 1818.

The moneys appropriated for fortifications have been regularly and economically applied, and all the works advanced as rapidly as the amount appropriated would admit. Three important works will be completed in the course of this year—that is, Fort Washington, Fort Delaware, and the fort at the Rigolets in Louisiana.

The board of engineers and the topographical corps have been in constant and active service, in surveying the coast, and projecting the works necessary for its defence.

The Military Academy has attained a degree of perfection in its discipline and instruction equal, as is believed, to any institution of its kind in any country.

The money appropriated for the use of the ordnance department has been regularly and economically applied. The fabrication of arms at the national armories, and by contract with the department, has been gradually improving in quality and cheapness. It is believed that their quality is now such as to admit of but little improvement.

The completion of the fortifications renders it necessary that there should be a suitable appropriation for the purpose of fabricating the cannon and carriages necessary for those works.

Under the appropriation of $5,000 for exploring the Western waters for the location of a site for a Western armory, a commission was constituted, consisting of Colonel McRee, Colonel Lee, and Captain Talcott, who have been engaged in exploring the country. They have not yet reported the result of their labors, but it is believed that they will be prepared to do it at an early part of the session of Congress.

During the month of June last, General Ashley and his party, who were trading under a license from the government, were attacked by the Ricarees while peaceably trading with the Indians at their request. Several of the party were killed or wounded, and their property taken or destroyed.

Colonel Leavenworth, who commanded Fort Atkinson, at the Council Bluffs, the most western post, apprehending that the hostile spirit of the Ricarees would extend to other tribes in that quarter, and that thereby the lives of the traders on the Missouri, and the peace of the frontier, would be endangered, took immediate measures to check the evil.

With a detachment of the regiment stationed at the Bluffs, he successfully attacked the Ricaree village, and it is hoped that such an impression has been made on them, as well as on the other [243] tribes on the Missouri, as will prevent a recurrence of future hostility.

The report of the Secretary of War, which is herewith transmitted, will exhibit in greater detail the condition of the department in its various branches, and the progress which has been made in its administration during the first three quarters of the year.

I transmit a return of the militia of the several States, according to the last reports which have been made by the proper officers in each to the Department of War. By reference to this return, it will be seen that it is not complete, although great exertions have been made to make it so. As the defence, and even the liberties, of the country must depend, in times of imminent danger, on the militia, it is of the highest importance that it be well organized, armed, and disciplined, throughout the Union. The report of the Secretary of War shows the progress made during the first three quarters of the present year, by the application of the fund appropriated for arming the militia. Much difficulty is found in distributing the arms according to the act of Congress providing for it, from the failure of the proper departments in many of the States to make regular returns. The act of May 12, 1820, provides that the system of tactics and regulations of the various corps in the regular army shall be extended to the militia. This act has been very imperfectly executed, from the want of uniformity in the organization of the militia, proceeding from the defects of the system itself, and especially in its application to that main arm of the public defence. It is thought that this important subject, in all its branches, merits the attention of Congress.

The report of the Secretary of the Navy, which is now communicated, furnishes an account of the administration of that department for the first three quarters of the present year, with the progress made in augmenting the navy, and the manner in which the vessels in commission have been employed.

The usual force has been maintained in the Mediterranean Sea, the Pacific Ocean, and along the Atlantic coast, and has afforded the necessary protection to our commerce in those seas.

In the West Indies and the Gulf of Mexico our naval force has been augmented by the addition of several small vessels, provided for by the “act authorizing an additional naval force for the suppression of piracy,” passed by Congress at their last session. That armament has been eminently successful in the accomplishment of its object. The piracies by which our commerce in the neighborhood of the island of Cuba had been afflicted have been repressed, and the confidence of our merchants, in a great measure, restored.

The patriotic zeal and enterprise of Commodore Porter, to whom the command of the expedition was confided, has been fully seconded by the officers and men under his command; and, in reflecting with high satisfaction on the honorable manner in which they have sustained the reputation of their country and its navy, the sentiment is alloyed only by a concern that, in the fulfilment of that arduous service, the diseases incident to the season and to the climate in which it was discharged have deprived the nation of many useful lives, and among them of several officers of great promise.

In the month of August a very malignant fever made its appearance at Thompson's Island, which threatened the destruction of our station there. Many perished, and the commanding officer was severely attacked. Uncertain as to his fate, and knowing that most of the medical officers had been rendered incapable of discharging their duties, it was thought expedient to send to that post an officer of rank and experience, with several skilful surgeons, to ascertain the origin of the fever, and the probability of its recurrence there in future seasons; to furnish every assistance to those who were suffering, and, if practicable, to avoid the necessity of abandoning so important a station. Commodore Rodgers, with a promptitude which did him honor, cheerfully accepted that trust, and has discharged it in the manner anticipated from his skill and patriotism. Before his arrival, Commodore Porter, with the greater part of the squadron, had removed from the island, and returned to the United States, in consequence of the prevailing sickness. Much useful information has, however, been obtained as to the state of the island, and great [244] relief afforded to those who had been necessarily left there.

Although our expedition, co-operating with an invigorated administration of the government of the island of Cuba, and with the corresponding active exertions of a British naval force in the same seas, have almost entirely destroyed the unlicensed piracies from that island, the success of our exertions has not been equally effectual to suppress the same crime, under other pretences and colors, in the neighboring island of Porto Rico. They have been committed there under the abusive issue of Spanish commissions. At an early period of the present year remonstrances were made to the governor of that island by an agent, who was sent for the purpose, against those outrages on the peaceful commerce of the United States, of which many had occurred. That officer, professing his own want of authority to make satisfaction for our just complaints, answered only by a reference of them to the government of Spain. The minister of the United States to that Court was specially instructed to urge the necessity of the immediate and effectual interposition of that government, directing restitution and indemnity for wrongs already committed and interdicting the repetition of them. The minister, as has been seen, was debarred access to the Spanish government, and, in the mean time, several new cases of flagrant outrage have occurred, and citizens of the United States in the island of Porto Rico have suffered, and others been threatened with assassination, for asserting their unquestionable rights, even before the lawful tribunals of the country.

The usual orders have been given to all our public ships to seize American vessels engaged in the slave-trade, and bring them in for adjudication; and I have the gratification to state that not one so employed has been discovered, and there is good reason to believe that our flag is now seldom, if at all, disgraced by that traffic.

It is a source of great satisfaction that we are always enabled to recur to the conduct of our navy with pride and commendation. As a means of national defence, it enjoys the public confidence, and is steadily assuming additional importance. It is submitted, whether a more efficient and equally economical organization of it might not, in several respects, be effected. It is supposed that higher grades than now exist by law would be useful. They would afford well-merited rewards to those who have long and faithfully served their country; present the best incentives to good conduct, and the best means of insuring a proper discipline; destroy the inequality in that respect between the military and naval services, and relieve our officers from many inconveniences and mortifications which occur when our vessels meet those of other nations—ours being the only service in which such grades do not exist.

A report of the Postmaster-General, which accompanies this communication, will show the present state of the Postoffice Department, and its general operations for some years past.

There is established by law 88,600 miles of post-roads, on which the mail is now transported 85,700 miles; and contracts have been made for its transportation on all the established routes, with one or two exceptions. There are 5,240 post-offices in the Union, and as many postmasters. The gross amount of postage which accrued from July 1, 1822, to July 1, 1823, was $1,114,345.12. During the same period the expenditures of the Post-office Department amounted to $1,169,885.50, and consisted of the following items: Compensation to postmasters, $353,995.98; incidental expenses, $30,866.37; transportation of the mail, $784,600.08; payments into the treasury, $423.08. On July 1 last there was due to the department, from postmasters, $135,245.28; from late postmasters and contractors, $256,749.31, making a total amount of balances due to the department of $391,994.59. These balances embrace all delinquencies of postmasters and contractors which have taken place since the organization of the department. There was due by the department to contractors, on July 1 last, $26,548.64.

The transportation of the mail within five years past has been greatly extended, and the expenditures of the department proportionately increased. Although the postage which has accrued within the last three years has fallen short of the expenditures $262,841.46, it appears that collections have been made from the [245] outstanding balances to meet the principal part of the current demands.

It is estimated that not more than $250,000 of the above balances can be collected, and that a considerable part of this sum can only be realized by a resort to legal process. Some improvement in the receipts for postage is expected. A prompt attention to the collection of moneys received by postmasters, it is believed, will enable the department to continue its operations without aid from the treasury, unless the expenditure shall be increased by the establishment of new mail-routes.

A revision of some parts of the postoffice law may be necessary; and it is submitted whether it would not be proper to provide for the appointment of postmasters, where the compensation exceeds a certain amount, by nomination to the Senate, as other officers of the general government are appointed.

Having communicated my views to Congress at the commencement of the last session respecting the encouragement which ought to be given to our manufactures, and the principle on which it should be founded, I have only to add that those views remain unchanged, and that the present state of those countries with which we have the most immediate political relations and greatest commercial intercourse tends to confirm them. Under this impression, I recommend a review of the tariff, for the purpose of affording such additional protection to those articles which we are prepared to manufacture, or which are more immediately connected with the defence and independence of the country.

The actual state of the public accounts furnishes additional evidence of the efficiency of the present system of accountability in relation to the public expenditure. Of the money drawn from the treasury since March 4, 1817, the sum remaining unaccounted for on Sept. 30 last is more than $1,500,000 less than on Sept. 30 preceding; and during the same period a reduction of nearly $1,000,000 has been made in the amount of the unsettled accounts for moneys advanced previously to March 4, 1817. It will be obvious that, in proportion as the mass of accounts of the latter description is diminished by settlement, the difficulty of settling the residue is increased from the consideration that, in many instances, it can be obtained only by a legal process. For more precise details on this subject, I refer to a report from the first comptroller of the treasury.

The sum which was appropriated at the last session for the repair of the Cumberland road has been applied with good effect to that object. A final report has not yet been received from the agent who was appointed to superintend it. As soon as it is received it shall be communicated to Congress.

Many patriotic and enlightened citizens, who have made the subject an object of particular investigation, have suggested an improvement of still greater importance. They are of opinion that the waters of the Chesapeake and Ohio may be connected together by one continued canal, and at an expense far short of the value and importance of the object to be obtained. If this could be accomplished, it is impossible to calculate the beneficial consequences which would result from it. A great portion of the produce of the very fertile country through which it would pass would find a market through that channel. Troops might be moved with great facility in war, with cannon and every kind of munition, and in either direction. Connecting the Atlantic with the Western country, in a line passing through the seat of the national government, it would contribute essentially to strengthen the bond of Union itself. Believing, as I do, that Congress possess the right to appropriate money for such a national object (the jurisdiction remaining to the States through which the canal would pass), I submit it to your consideration whether it may not be advisable to authorize, by an adequate appropriation, the employment of a suitable number of the officers of the corps of engineers to examine the unexplored ground during the next season, and to report their opinion thereon. It will likewise be proper to extend their examination to the several routes through which the waters of the Ohio may be connected, by canal, with those of Lake Erie.

As the Cumberland road will require annual repair, and Congress have not [246] thought it expedient to recommend to the States an amendment to the Constitution, for the purpose of vesting in the United States a power to adopt and execute a system of internal improvement, it is also submitted to your consideration whether it may not be expedient to authorize the executive to enter into an arrangement with the several States through which the road passes to establish tolls each within its limits, for the purpose of defraying the expense of future repairs, and of providing also, by suitable penalties, for its protection against future injuries.

The act of Congress of May 7, 1822, appropriated the sum of $22,700 for the purpose of erecting two piers as a shelter for vessels from ice near Cape Henlopen, Delaware Bay. To effect the object of the act, the officers of the board of engineers, with Commodore Bainbridge, were directed to prepare plans and estimates of piers sufficient to answer the purpose intended by the act. It appears by their report, which accompanies the documents from the War Department, that the appropriation is not adequate to the purpose intended; and, as the piers would be of great service, both to the navigation of the Delaware Bay and the protection of vessels on the adjacent parts of the coast, I submit for the consideration of Congress whether additional and sufficient appropriation should not be made.

The board of engineers were also directed to examine and survey the entrance of the harbor of the port of Presque Isle in Pennsylvania, in order to make an estimate of the expense of removing the obstructions to the entrance, with a plan of the best mode of effecting the same, under the appropriation for that purpose by act of Congress passed March 3 last. The report of the board accompanies the papers from the War Department, and is submitted for the consideration of Congress.

A strong hope has been long entertained, founded on the heroic struggle of the Greeks, that they would succeed in their contest, and resume their equal station among the nations of the earth. It is believed that the whole civilized world takes a deep interest in their welfare. Although no power has declared in their favor, yet none, according to our information, has taken part against them. Their cause and their name have protected them from dangers which might ere this have overwhelmed any other people. The ordinary calculations of interest and of acquisition, with a view to aggrandizement, which mingle so much in the transactions of nations, seem to have had no effect in regard to them. From the facts which have come to our knowledge, there is good cause to believe that their enemy has lost forever all dominion over them; that Greece will become again an independent nation. That she may obtain that rank is the object of our most ardent wishes.

It was stated at the commencement of the last session that a great effort was then making in Spain and Portugal to improve the condition of the people of those countries, and that it appeared to be conducted with extraordinary moderation. It need scarcely be remarked that the result has been, so far, very different from what was then anticipated. Of events in that quarter of the globe with which we have so much intercourse, and from which we derive our origin, we have always been anxious and interested spectators. The citizens of the United States cherish sentiments the most friendly in favor of the liberty and happiness of their fellow-men on that side of the Atlantic. In the wars of the European powers in matters relating to themselves we have never taken any part, nor does it comport with our policy so to do. It is only when our rights are invaded or seriously menaced that we resent injuries or make preparation for our defence. With the movements in this hemisphere we are, of necessity, more immediately connected, and by causes which must be obvious to all enlightened and impartial observers. The political system of the allied powers is essentially different in this respect from that of America. This difference proceeds from that which exists in their respective governments. And to the defence of our own, which has been achieved by the loss of so much blood and treasure, and matured by the wisdom of their most enlightened citizens, and under which we have enjoyed unexampled felicity, this whole nation is devoted. We owe it, therefore, to candor, and to the amicable relations existing between [247] the United States and those powers, to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their systern to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered, and shall not interfere. But with the governments who have declared their independence, and maintained it, and whose independence we have, on great consideration and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny, by any European power, in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition towards the United States. In the war between these new governments and Spain we dedared our neutrality at the time of their recognition, and to this we have adhered, and shall continue to adhere, provided no change shall occur which, in the judgment of the competent authorities of this government, shall make a corresponding change on the part of the United States indispensable to their security.

The late events in Spain and Portugal show that Europe is still unsettled. Of this important fact no stronger proof can be adduced than that the allied powers should have thought it proper, on any principle satisfactory to themselves, to have interposed, by force, in the internal concerns of Spain. To what extent such interposition may be carried, on the same principle, is a question in which all independent powers whose governments differ from theirs are interested, even those most remote, and surely none more so than the United States. Our policy in regard to Europe, which was adopted at an early stage of the wars which have so long agitated that quarter of the globe, nevertheless remains the same, which is, not to interfere in the internal concerns of any of its powers; to consider the government de facto as the legitimate government for us; to cultivate friendly relations with it, and to preserve those relations by a frank, firm, and manly policy, meeting, in all instances, the just claims of every power; submitting to injuries from none. But in regard to these continents, circumstances are eminently and conspicuously different. It is impossible that the allied powers should extend their political system to any portion of either continent without endangering our peace and happiness; nor can any one believe that our southern brethren, if left to themselves, would adopt it of their own accord. It is equally impossible, therefore, that we should behold such interposition, in any form, with indifference. If we look to the comparative strength and resources of Spain and those new governments, and their distance from each other, it must be obvious that she can never subdue them. It is still the true policy of the United States to leave the parties to themselves, in the hope that other powers will pursue the same course.

If we compare the present condition of our Union with its actual state at the close of our Revolution, the history of the world furnishes no example of a progress in improvement in all the important circumstances which constitute the happiness of a nation which bears any resemblance to it. At the first epoch our population did not exceed 3,000,000. By the last census it amounted to about 10,000,000, and, what is more extraordinary, it is almost altogether native, for the emigration from other countries has been inconsiderable. At the first epoch half the territory within our acknowledged limits was uninhabited and a wilderness. Since then new territory has been acquired of vast extent, comprising within it many rivers, particularly the Mississippi, the navigation of which to the ocean was of the highest importance to the original States. Over this territory our population has expanded in every direction, and new States have been established almost equal in number to those which formed the first bond of our Union. This expansion of our population and accession of new States to our Union have had the happiest effect on all its highest interests. That it has eminently augmented our resources and added to our strength and respectability as a power is admitted by all. But it is not in these important circumstances only that this happy effect is felt. It is manifest that, by enlarging the basis of our system and increasing the number of [248] States, the system itself has been greatly strengthened in both its branches. Consolidation and disunion have thereby been rendered equally impracticable. Each government, confiding in its own strength, has less to apprehend from the other; and in consequence, each enjoying a greater freedom of action, is rendered more efficient for all the purposes for which it was instituted. It is unnecessary to treat here of the vast improvement made in the system itself by the adoption of this Constitution, and of its happy effect in elevating the character and in protecting the rights of the nation as well as of individuals. To what, then, do we owe these blessings? It is known to all that we derive them from the excellence of our institutions. Ought we not, then, to adopt every measure which may be necessary to perpetuate them?

Military officer; born in Albemarle county, Va., Sept. 10, 1799; graduated at West Point in 1815; participated in the war with Algiers; was wounded in an action with the Mashouda off the coast of Spain. He resigned from the army in 1832 and settled in New York City, where he became an alderman in 1833. He was elected to Congress in 1839. He died in Orange, N. J., Sept. 7, 1870.

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