« ПретходнаНастави »
tracted by their great fertility, their mineral wealth, their commercial advantages, and the salubrity of the imate, émigrants from the older States, in great numbers, are already preparing to seek new homes in these inviting regions.
Shall the dissimilarity of the domestic institutions in the different States prevent us from providing for them suitable governments? These institutions existed at the adoption of the constitution, but the obstacles which they interposed were overcome by that spirit of compromise which is now invoked. In a conflict of opinions or of interests, real or imaginary, between different seco tions of our country, neither can justly demand all which it might desire to obtain. Each, in the true spirit of our institutions, should concede something to the other.
Our gallant forces in the Mexican, war, by whose patriotism and un paralleled deeds of aruns we obtained those possessions as an indemnity for our just demands against Mexico, were composed of citizens who belonged to no one State or section of our Union. They were men from slaveholding and non-slareholding States, from the north and the south, from the east and the west. They were all companions in arms and fellow-citizens of the same common country, engaged in the same common cause. cuting that war, they were brethren and friends, and shared alike with each other common toils, dangers, and sufferings. Now, when their work is ended, when peace is restored, and they return again to their homes, Cut off the habiliments of war, take their places in society, and resume their pursuits in civil life, surely a spirit of harmony and concession, and of equal regard for the rights of all, and of all sections of the Union ought to prevail in providing governments for the acquired territories-the fruits of their common service. The whole people of the United States and of every State contributed to defray the expenses of that war; and it would not be just for any one section to exclude another from all participation in the acquired territory. This would not be in consonance with the just system of government which the framers of the constitution adopted.
The question is believed to be rather abstract than practical, whether slavery ever can or would exist in any portion of the acquired territory, even if it were left to the option of the slaveholding States themselves. From the nature of the climate and productions, in much the larger portion of it, it is certain it could never exist; and in the remainder, the probabilities are it would not. But however this may be, the question, involving, as it does, a principle of equality of rights of the separate and several States, as equal co-partners in the confederacy, should not be disregarded.
In organizing governments over these Territories, no duty imposed on Congress by the constitution requires that they should legislate on the subject of slavery, while their power to do so is not only seriously questioned, but denied by many of the soundest expounders of that instrument. Whether Congress shall legislate or not, the people of the acquired Territories, when assembled in convention to form State constitutions, will possess the sole and
exclusive power to determine for themselves whether slavery shall or shall not exist within their limits. If Congress shall abstain from interfering with the question, the people of these Territories will be left free to adjust it as they may think proper when they apply for admission as States into the Union. No enactment of Congress could restrain the people of any of the sovereign States of the Union, old or new, north or south, slaveholding or non-slaveholding, from determining the character of their own domestic institutions as they may deem wise and proper. Any and all the States possess this right, and Congress cannot deprive them of it. The people of Georgia might, if they chose, so alter their constitution as to abolish slavery within its limits; and the people of Vermont might so alter their constitution as to admit slavery within its limits. Both States would possess the right; though, as all know, it is not probable that either would exert it.
It is fortunate for the peace and harmony of the Union that this question is in its nature temporary; and can only continue for the brief period which will intervene before California and New Mexico may be admitted as States into the Union. From the tide of population now flowing into them, it is highly probable that this will soon occur.
Considering the several States and the citizens of the several States as equals, and entitled to equal rights under the constitution, if this were an original question, it might well be insisted on that the principle of non-interference is the true doctrine, and that Congress could not, in the absence of any express grant of power, interfere with their relative rights. Upon a great emergency, however, and under menacing dangers to the Union, the Missouri compromise line in respect to slavery was adopted. The same line was extended further west in the acquisition of Texas. After an acquiescence of nearly thirty years in the principle of compromise recognized and established by these acts, and to avoid the danger to the Union which might follow if it were now disregarded, I have heretofore expressed the opinion that that line of compromise should be extended on the parallel of thirty-six degrees thirty minutes from the western boundary of Texas, where it now terminates, to the Pacific ocean. This is the middle ground of compromise, upon which the different sections of the Union may meet, as they have heretofore met. If this be done, it is confidently believed a large majority of the people of every section of the country, however widely their abstract opinions on the subject of slavery may differ, would cheerfully and patriotically acquiesce in it, and peace and harmony would again fill our borders.
The restriction north of the line was only yielded to in the case of Missouri and Texas upon a principle of compromise, made necessary for the sake of preserving the harmony, and possibly, the existence of the Union.
It was upon these considerations that at the close of your last session, I gave my sanction to the principle of the Missouri compromise line, by approving and signing the bill to establish the Territorial government of Oregon. From a sincere desire to pre
vive the harmony of the Union, and in deference for the acts of my predecessors, I felt constrained to yield my acquiescence to the extent to which they had gone in compromising this delicate and dangerous question. But if Congress shall now reverse the decision by which the Missouri compromise was effected, and shall propose to extend the restriction over the whole territory, south as well as north of the parallel of thirty-six degrees thirty minutes, it will cease to be a compromise, and must be regarded as an origival question.
If Congress, instead of observing the course of non-interference, Jeaving the adoption of their own domestic institutions to the people who may inhabit these Territories; or if, instead of extending The Missouri compromise line to the Pacific, shall prefer to submit the legal and constitutional questions which may arise to the decision of the judicial tribunals, as was proposed in a bill which passed the Senate at your last session, an adjustment may be efjected in this mode. If the whole subject be referred to the judiciary, all parts of the Union should cheerfully acquiesce in the inal decision of the tribunal created by the constitution for the settlement of all questions which may arise under the constitution, kreaties, and laws of the United States. ,
Congress is earnestly invoked, for the sake of the Union, its karmony, and our continued prosperity as a nation, to adjust at its present session this, the only dangerous question which lies in our path-if not in some one of the modes suggested, in some other which may be satisfactory.
In anticipation of the establishment of regular governments over the acquired territories, a joint commission of officers of the army and navy has been ordered to proceed to the coast of California and Oregon, for the purpose of making reconnoissances and a report as to the proper sites for the erection of fortifications or other defensive works on land, and of suitable situations for naval stations. The information which may be expected from a scientific and skilful examination of the whole face of the coast will be emipently useful to Congress, when they come to consider the propriety of making appropriations for these great national objects. Pro-. per defences on land will be necessary for the security and protection of our possessions; and the establishment of navy-yards, and a dock for the repair and construction of vessels, will be important alike to our navy and commercial marine. Without such estabHishments, every vessel, whether of the navy or of the merchant service, requiring repair, must, at great expense, come round Cape Horn to one of our Atlantic yards for that purpose. With such establishments, vessels, it is believed, may be built or repaired as cheaply in California as upon the Atlantic coast. They would give employment to many of our enterprising ship-builders and mechanics, and greatly facilitate and enlarge our commerce in the Pacific.
As it is ascertained that mines of gold, silver, copper and quicksilver exist in New Mexico and California, and that nearly all the lands where they are found belong to the United States, it is
deemed important to the public interests that provisiðn should be made for a geological and mineralogical exa ination of these regions. Measures should be adopted to preserve the mineral lands; especially such as contain the precious metals, for the use of the United States; or if brought into market, to separate them from the farming lands, and dispose of them in such manner as to secure a large return of money to the treasury, and at the same time lead to the development of their wealth by individual proprietors and purchasers. To do this, it will be necessary to provide for an inmediate survey and location of the lots. If Congress should deer it proper to dispose of the mineral lands, they should be sold in small quantities, and at a fixed minimum price.
I recommend that surveyor generals' offices be authorized to be established in New Mexico and California, and provision made for surveying and bringing the public lands into market at the earliegt practicable period. In disposing of these lands, I recommend that the right of pre-emption be secured, and liberal grants made ito the early emigrants who have settled or may settle upon them.
It will be important to extend our revenue laws over these territories, and especially over California, at an early period. There is already a considerable commerce with California; and until porte of entry shall be established and collectors appointed, no revenue can be received.
If these and other necessary and proper measures be adopted for the development of the wealth and resources of New Mexico and California, and regular territorial governments be established over them, such will probably be the rapid enlargement of our commerce and navigation, and such the addition to the national wealth, that the present generation may live to witness the controlling commercial and monetary power of the world transferred from London and other European emporiums to the city of New York.
The apprehensions which were entertained by some of our statesmen, in the earlier periods of the government, that our system was incapable of operating with sufficient energy and success Jargely extended territorial limits, and that if this were attempted, it would fall to pieces by its own weakness, have been dissipated by our experience. By the division of power between the States and federal government, the latter is found to operate with as much energy in the extremes as in the centre. It is as efficient in the re. motest of the thirty Sťates which now compose the Union, as it was in the thirteen States which formed our constitution. Indeed, it may well be doubted, whether, if our present population had been confined within the limits of the original thirteen States, the tendencies to centralization and consolidation would not have been such as to have encroached upon the essential reserved rights of the States, and thus to have 'made the federal government a widely different one, practically, from what it is in theory, and was intended to be by its framers. So far from entertaining apprehensions of the safety of our systein by the extension of our territory, the belief is confidently entertained that each new State gives strength and an additional guaranty.for.the preservation of the Union itself.
In pursuance of the provisions of the thirteenth article of the treaty of peace, friendship, limits, and settlement, with the republic of Mexico, and of the act of July the twenty-ninth, 1848, claims of our citizens which had been “ already liquidated and decided against the Mexican republic,” amounting, with the interest thereon, to two million twenty-three thousand eight hundred and thirty-two dollars and fifty-one cents, have been liquidated and paid. There remain to be paid of these claims, seventy-four thousand one hundred and ninety-two dollars and twenty-six cents.
Congress at its last session having made no provision for executing the fifteenth article of the treaty, by which the United States assume to make satisfaction for the unliquidated claims" of our citizens against Mexico, to "an amount not exceeding three and a quarter millions of dollars," the subject is again recommended to your favorable consideration.
The exchange of ratifications of the treaty with Mexico took place on the thirtieth of May, 1848. Within one year after that time, the commissioner and surveyor which each government stipulates to appoint, are required to meet "at the port of San Diego, and proceed to run and mark the said boundary in its whole course to the mouth of the Rio Bravo del Norte.” It will be seen from this provision, that the period within which a commissioner and surveyor of the respective governments are to meet at San Diego, will expire on the thirtieth of May, 1849. Congress, at the close of its last session, made an appropriation for the expenses of running and marking the boundary line” between the two countries, but did not fix the amount of salary which should be paid to the commissioner and surveyor to be appointed on the part of the United States. It is desirable that the amount of compensation which they shall receive should be prescribed by law, and not left, as at present, to executive discretion.
Measures were adopted at the earliest practicable period to organize the "Territorial government of Oregon,” as authorized by the act of the fourteenth of August last. The governor and marshal of the Territory, arcompanied by a small military escort, left the frontier of Missouri in September last, and took the southern route, by the way of Santa Fe and the river Gila, to California, with the intention of proceeding thence in one of our vessels of war to their destination. The governor was fully advised of the great importance of his early arrival in the country, and it is confidently believed he may reach Oregon in the latter part of the present month, or early in the next. The other officers for the Territory have proceeded by sea.
In the month of May last; I communicated information to Congress that an Indian war bad broken out in Oregon, and recommended that authority be given to raise an adequate number of volunteers to proceed without delay to the assistance of our fellowcitizens in: that Territory. The authority to raise such a force not having been granted by Congress, as soon as their services could be dispensed with in Mexico, orders were issued to the regiment of mounted riflemen to proceed to Jefferson Barracks, in Missouri, and