Слике страница

Under the operations of the constitutional treasury, not a dollar has been lost by the depreciation of the currency.

The loans rę. quired to prosecute the war with Mexico were negotiated by the Secretary of the Treasury above par, realizing a large premium to the government. The restraining effect of the system' upon the tendencies to excessive paper issues by banks has saved the government from heavy losses, and thousands of our business, men from bankruptcy and ruin. The wisdom of the system has been tested by the experience of the last two years, and it is the dictate of sound policy that it should remain undisturbed. The modifications in some of the details of this measure, involving none of its essential principles, heretofore recommended, are again presented for your favorable consideration.

In my message of the sixth of July last, transmitting to Congress the ratified treaty of peace with Mexico, I recommended the adoption of measures for the speedy, payment of the public debt. In reiterating that recommendation, I refer you to the considerations presented in that message in its support. The public debt, including that authorized to be negotiated, in pursuance of existing laws, and including treasury notes, amounted at that time to sixtyfive million seven hundred and seventy-eigăt thousand four hundred and fifty dollars and forty-one cents.

Funded stock of the United States, amounting to about half a million of dollars, has been purchased, as authorized by law, since that period, and the public debt has thus been reduced; the details of which will be presented in the annual report of the Secretary of the Treasury.

The estimates of expenditures for the next fiscal.year, submitted by the Secretary of the Treasury, it is believed will be ample for all necessary purposes. If the appropriations made by Congress shall not exceed the amount estimated, the means in the treasury will be sufficient to defray all the expenses of the government; to pay off the next instalment of three millions of dollars to Mexico, which will fall due on the thirtieth of May next; and still a considerable surplus will remain, which should be applied to the further purchase of the public stock and reduction of the debt. Should enlarged appropriations be made, the necessary consequence will be to postpone the payment of the debt. Though our debt, as compared with that of most other nations, is small, it is our true policy, and in harmony with the genius of our institutions, that we should present to the world the rare spectacle of a great republic, possessing vast resources and wealth, wholly exempt from public indebtedness. This would add still more to our strength, and give to us a still more commanding position among the nations of the earth.

The public expenditures should be economical, and be confined to such necessary objects as are clearly within the powers of Congress. All such as are not absolutely demanded should be postponed, and the payment of the public debt, at the earliest practicable period, should be a cardinal principle of our public policy.

For the reason assigned in my last annual message, I repeat the recommendation that a branch of the mint of the United States be established at the city of New York. The importance of this measure is greatly increased by the acquisition of the rich mines.of the precious metals in New Mexico and California, and especially in the latter.

I repeat the recommendation, heretofore made, in favor of the graduation and reduction of the price of such of the public lands as have been long offered in the market, and have remained unsold, and in favor of extending the rights of pre-emption to actual settlers on the unsurveyed as well as the surveyed lands.

The condition and operations of the army, and the state of other branches of the public service under the supervision of the War Department, are satisfactorily presented in the accompanying report of the Secretary of War.

On the return of peace, our forces were withdrawn from Mexico, and the volunteers and that portion of the regular army engaged for the war were disbanded. Orders have been issued for stationing the forces of our permanent establishment at various positions in our extended country, where troops may be required. Owing to the remoteness of some of these positions, the detachments have not yet reached their destination. Notwithstanding the extension of the limits of our country and the forces required in the new territories, it is confidently believed that our present military establishment is sufficient for all exigencies; so long as our peaceful relations remain undisturbed.

Of the amount of military contributions collected in Mexico, the sum of seven hundred and sixty-nine thousand six hundred and fifty dollars was applied towards the payment of the first instalment due under the treaty with Mexico. The further sum of three hundred and forty-six thousand three hundred and sixty-nine dollars and thirty cents has been paid into the treasury, and unexpended balances still remain in the hands of disbursing officers and those who were engaged in the collection of these moneys. `After the proclamation of peace, no further disbursements were made of any unexpended moneys arising from this source. The balances on hand were directed to be paid into the treasury, and individual claims on the fund will remain unadjusted until Congress shall authorize their settlement and payment. These claims are not considerable in number or amount.

I recommend to your favorable consideration the suggestions of the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy in regard to legislation on this subject.

Our Indian relations are presented in a most favorable view in the report from the War Department. The wisdom of our policy in regard to the tribes within our limits, is clearly manifested by their improved and rapidly improving condition.

A most important treaty with the Menomonies has been recently negotiated by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs in person, by which all their land in the State of Wisconsin-being about four millions of acres-has been ceded to the United States. This treaty will be submitted to the Senate for ratification at an early period of your present session.

Within the last four years, eight important treaties have been negotiated with different Indian tribes, and at a cost of one million eight hundred and forty-two thousand dollars; Indian lands to the amount of more than eighteen million five hundred thousand acres, have been ceded to the United States; and provision has been made for settling in the country west of the Mississippi the tribes which occupied this large extent of the public domain. The title to all the Indian lands within the several States of our Union, with the exception of a few small reservations, is now extinguished, aņd a vast region opened for settlement and cultivation.

The accompanying report of the Secretary of the Navy gives a satisfactory exhibit of the operations and condition of that branch of the public service.

A number of small vessels suitable for entering the mouths of rivers were judiciously purchased during the war, and gave great efficiency to the squadron in the Gulf of Mexico. On the return of peace, when no longer valuable for naval purposes, and liable to constant deterioration, they were sold, and the money placed in the treasury

The number of men in the naval service authorized by law during the war, has been reduced by discharges below the maximum fixed for the peace establishment. Adequate squadrons are maintained in the several quarters of the globe where experience has shown their services may be most usefully employed; and the naval service was never in a condition of higher discipline or greater efficiency:

I invite attention to the recommendation of the Secretary of the Navy on the subject of the marine corps. The reduction of the corps at the end of the war required that four officers of each of the three lower grades should be dropped from the rolls. A board of officers made the selection; and those designated were necessarily dismissed, but without any alleged fault. I concur in opinion with the Secretary, that the service would be improved by reducing the number of landsmen, and increasing the marines. Such a measure would justify an increase of the number of officers to the extent of the reduction by dismissal, and still the corps would have fewer officers than a corresponding number of men in the army.

The contracts for the transportation of the mail in steamships, convertible into war-steamers, promise to realize all the benefits to our commerce and to the navy which were anticipated. The first steamer thus secured to the government was launched in January, 1847. There are now seven; and in another year there will, probably, be not less than seventeen afloat. While this great national advantage is secured, our social and commercial intercourse is increased and promoted with Germany, Great Britain, and other parts of Europe, with all the countries on the west coast of our continent, especially with Oregon and California, and between the northern and southern sections of the United States.

[ocr errors]

Considerable revenue may be expected from postages; but the connected line from New York.to, Chagres, and thence across the isthmus to Oregon, cannot fail to exert a beneficial influence, not now to be estimated, on the interests of the manufactures, commerce, navigation, and currency of the United States. As an important part of the systeni, I recommend to your favorable consideration the establishment of the proposed line of steamers between New Orleans and Vera Cruz. It promises the most happy results in cementing friendship between the two republics, and extending reciprocal benefits to the trade and manufactures of both.

The report of the Postmaster General will make known to you the operations of that department for the past year.

It is gratjfying to find the revenues of the department, under the rates of postage now established by law, so rapidly increasing. The gross amount of postages during the last fiscal year amounted to four million three hundred and seventy-one thousand and seventy-seven dollars, exceeding the annual average received for the nine years immediately preceding the passage of the act of the third of March, 1845, by the sum of six thousand four hundred and fifty-three dollars, and exceeding the amount received for the year ending the thirtieth of June, 1847, by the sum of four hundred and twenty-five thousand one hundred and eighty-four dollars.

The expenditures for the year, excluding the sum of ninety-four thousand six hundred and seventy-two dollars, allowed by Congress at its last session to individual claimants, and including the sum of one hundred thousand five hundred dollars paid for the services of the line of steamers between Bremen and New York, amounted to four million one hundred and ninety-eight thousand eight undred and forty-five dollars, which is less than the annual average for the nine years previous to the act of 1845, by three hundred thousand seven hundred and forty-eight dollars.

The mail routes, on the thirtieth day of June last, were one hundred and sixty-three thousand two hundred and eight miles in extent-being an increase during the last year of nine thousand three hundred and ninety miles. The mails were transported over them, during the same time, forty-one million twelve thousand five hundred and seventy-nine miles; making an increase of transportation for the year of two million one hundred and twenty-four thousand six hundred and eighty miles, whilst the expense was less than that of the previous year by four thousand two hundred and thirty-five dollars.

The increase in the mail transportation within the last three years has been five million three hundred and seventy-eigbi thousand three hundred and ten miles, whilst the expenses were reduced four hundred and fifty-six thousand seven hundred and thirty-eight dollars-making an increase of service at the rate of fifteen per cent., and a reduction in the expenses of more than fifteen per cent.

During the past year there have been employed, under contracts with the Post Office Department, two ocean steamers in conveying the mails monthly between New York and Bremen, and one, since October last, performing semi-monthly service between Charleston and Havana; and a contract has been made for the transportation of the Pacific mails across the isthmus from Chagres to Panama.

Under the authority given to the Secretary of the Navy, three ocean steamers have been constructed and sent to the Pacific, and are expected to enter upon the mail service between Panama and Oregon, and the intermediate ports,'on the first of January next, and a fourth has been engaged by him for the service between Havana and Chagres; so that a regular monthly mail line will be kept up after that time between the United States and our territories on the Pacific.

Notwithstanding this great increase in the mail service, should the revenue continue to increase the present year as it did in the last, there will be received near four hundred and fifty thousand dollars more than the expenditures.

These considerations have satisfied the Postmaster General that, with certain modifications of the act of 1845, the revenue may be still further increased, and a reduction of postages made to a uniform rate of five cents, without an interference with the principle, which has been constantly and properly enforced, of making that department sustain itself.

A well-digested cheap postage system is the best means of diffusing intelligence among the people, and is of so much importance in a country so extensive as that of the United States, that I recommend to your favorable consideration the suggestions of the Postmaster General for its improvement.

Nothing can retard the onward progress of our country, and prevent us from assuming and maintaining the first rank among nations, but a disregard of the experience of the past, and a recurrence to an unwise public policy. We have just closed a foreign war by an honorable peace-a war rendered necessary and unavoidable in vindication of the national rights and honor. The present condition of the country is similar in some respects to that which existed immediately after the close of the war with Great Britain in 1815, and the occasion is deemed to be a proper one to take a retrospect of the measures of public policy which followed that war. There was at that period of our history a departure from our earlier policy. The enlargement of the powers of the federal government by construction, which obtained, was not warranted by any just interpretation of the constitution. A few years after the close of that war, a series of measures was adopted which, united and combined, constituted what was termed by their authors and advocates the “ American system.'

The introduction of the new policy was for a time favored by the condition of the country; by the heavy debt which had been contracted during the war; by the depression of the public credit; by the deranged state of the finances and the currency; and by the commercial and pecuniary embarrassment which extensively prevailed. These were not the only causes which led to its establishment. The events of the war with Great Britain, and the embar

« ПретходнаНастави »