« ПретходнаНастави »
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 continúe 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
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 comprounise 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
serve 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 origisal 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 efSected in this mode. If the whole subject be referred to the judiciary, all parts of the Union should cheerfully acquiesce in the final decision of the tribunal created by the constitution for the settlement of all questions which may arise under the constitution, dreaties, and laws of the United States.
Congress is earnestly invoked, for the sake of the Union, its larmony, 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 emibently useful to Congress, when they come to consider the propriety of making appropriations for these great national objects. Proper 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 estabHshments, 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 Åtlantic 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 earliest practicable period. In disposing of these lands, I recommend that the right of pre-emption be secured, and liberal grants made, to 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 ports 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 states
in the earlier periods of the government, that our system was incapable of operating with sufficient energy and success ovec 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, accompanied 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
to prepare to march to Oregon as soon as the necessary provision could be made. Shortly before it was ready to march, it was arrested by the provision of the act passed by Congress on the last day of the last session, which directed that all the non-commissioned officers, musicians, and privates of that regiment, who had been in service in Mexico, should, upon their application, be entitled to be discharged. The effect of this provision was to disband the rank and file of the regiment; and before their places could be filled by recruits, the season had so far advanced that it was impracticable for it to proceed until the opening of the next spring.
In the month of October last, the accompanying communication was received from the governor of the temporary government of Oregon, giving information of the continuance of the Indian disturbances, and of the destitution and defenceless condition of the inhabitants. Orders were immediately transmitted to the commander of the squadron in the Pacific, to despatch to their assistance a part of the naval forces on that station, to furnish them with arms and ammunition, and to continue to give them such aid and protection as the navy could afford, until the army could reach the country.
It is the policy of humanity, and one which bas always been pursued by the United States, to cultivate the good will of the aboriginal tribes of this continent, and to restrain them from making war, and indulging in excesses, by mild means, rather than by force. That this could have been done with the tribes in Oregon, had that Territory been brought under the government of our laws at an earlier period, and had suitable measures been adopted by Congress, such as now exist in our intercourse with the other Indian tribes within our limits, cannot be doubted. Indeed, the immediate and only cause of the existing hostility of the Indians of Oregon is represented to have been, the long delay of the United States in making to them some trifling compensation, in such articles as they wanted, for the country now occupied by our emigrants, which the Indians claimed and over which they formerly roaméd. This compensation had been promised to them by the temporary government established in Orogon, but its fulfilment had been postponed from time to time, for nearly two years, whilst those who made it had been anxiously waiting for Congress to establish a territorial government over the country. The Indians became at length distrustful of their good faith, and sought redress by plunder and massacre, which finally led to the present difficulties. A few thousand dollars in suitable presents, as a compensation for the country which had been taken possession of by our citizens, would have satisfied the Indians, and have prevented the war. A small amount properly distributed, it is confidently believed, would soon restore quiet. In this Indian war our fellow-citizens of Oregon have been compelled to take the field in their own defenee, have performed valuable military services, and been subjected to expenses which have fallen heavily
Justice demands that provision should be made by