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The honorable Jackson Morton, from Florida.
The honorable James Shields, whose credentials were read the second of March, appearing for the purpose of being qualified, Mr. Walker submitted the following resolution; which was read: Resolved, That the certificate of election of the honorable James Shields to a seat in this body be referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, with instructions to inquire into the eligibility of the said James Shields to a seat in the Senate of the United States as a member thereof.
The Senate proceeded to consider the resolution by unanimous consent; and,
Ordered, That the further consideration thereof be postponed until to-morrow.
Mr. Baldwin presented the credentials of the honorable Truman Smith, chosen a Senator by the General Assembly of the State of Connecticut for the term of six years, commencing the 4th day of March, 1849, which were read; and the oath prescribed by law administered to Mr. Smith, and he took his seat in the Senate.
The honorable Millard Fillmore, Vice President of the United States and President of the Senate, having entered the Senate chamber, the oath prescribed by law was administered to him by the President pro tempore; and he thereupon took the chair, and addressed the Senate as follows:
SENATORS: Never having been honored with a seat on this floor, and never having acted as the presiding officer of any legislative body; you will not doubt my sincerity when I assure you that I assume the responsible duties of this chair with a conscious want of experience, and a just apprehension that I shall often need your friendly suggestions, and more often your indulgent forbearance.
I should indeed feel depressed and disheartened, did I not recollect that the Senate is composed of eminent statesmen, equally distinguished for their high intellectual endowments and their amenity of manners-whose persuasive eloquence is so happily tempered with habitual courtesy as to relieve your presiding officer from all that would be painful in the discharge of his duty, and render his position as agreeable as it must be instructive.
Thus encouraged and sustained, I enter upon the duties assigned me, firmly resolved to discharge them with impartiality, and to the best of my ability. But I should do injustice to the grateful emotions of my own heart, if I did not, on this occasion, express my warmest thanks for the distinguished honor that has been conferred upon me, in being called by the voice of the nation to preside over your deliberations.
It will not, I trust, be deemed inappropriate to congratulate you upon the scene now passing before us. I allude to it in no par
tisan aspect, but as an ever recurring event contemplated by the constitution. Compare the peaceful changes of chief magistrates of this republic with the recent sanguinary revolutions in Europe. There, the voice of the people has only been heard amid the din of arms and the horrors of domestic conflict; but here, in our own favored land, under the guidance of our constitution, the resistless will of the nation has, from time to time, been peacefully expressed by the free suffrages of the people, and all have bowed in obedient submission to their decree. The administration which but yesterday wielded the destinies of this great nation, to-day quietly yields up its power, and, without a murmur, retires from the capitol.
I congratulate you, Senators-and I congratulate my country, upon these oft-recurring and cheering evidences of our capacity for self-government.
Let us hope that the sublime spectacle which we now witness may be repeated as often as the people shall desire a change of rulers, and that this venerated constitution and this glorious Union may endure forever.
The President of the United States, the ex-President, the ex-Vice Presidents Richard M. Johnson and George M. Dallas, the Chief Justice and associate justices of the Supreme Court, and foreign ministers, having entered the Senate chamber, the Senate proceeded, accompanied by them, to the eastern portico, where the President of the United States delivered the following address:
Elected by the American people to the highest office known to our laws, I appear here to take the oath prescribed by the constitution; and, in compliance with a time-honored custom, to address those who are now assembled.
The confidence and respect shown by my countrymen in calling me to be the chief magistrate of a republic holding a high rank among the nations of the earth, have inspired me with feelings of the most profound gratitude; but, when I reflect that the acceptance of the office which their partiality has bestowed, imposes the discharge of the most arduous duties, and involves the weighti est obligations, I am conscious that the position which I have been called to fill, though sufficient to satisfy the loftiest ambition, is surrounded by fearful responsibilities. Happily, however, in the performance of my new duties, I shall not be without able cooperation. The legislative and judicial branches of the government present prominent examples of distinguished civil attainments and matured experience; and it shall be my endeavor to call to my assistance in the executive departments individuals whose talents, integrity, and purity of character will furnish ample guarantees for the faithful and honorable performance of the trusts to be committed to their charge. With such aids, and an honest purpose to do whatever is right, I hope to execute diligently, impartially, and for the best interests of the country, the manifold duties devolved upon me.
In the discharge of these duties, my guide will be the constitu
tion, which I this day swear to "preserve, protect, and defend." For the interpretation of that instrument, I shall look to the decisions of the judicial tribunals established by its authority, and to the practice of the government under the earlier Presidents, who had so large a share in its formation. To the example of those illustrious patriots I shall always defer with reverence, and especially to his example who was, by so many titles, "the father of his country.”
To command the army and navy of the United States-with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, and to appoint ambassadors and other officers-to give to Congress information of the state of the Union, and recommend such measures as he shall judge to be necessary and to take care that the laws shall be faithfully executed-these are the most important functions entrusted to the President by the constitution; and it may be expected that I shall, briefly, indicate the principles which will control me in their execution.
Chosen by the body of the people under the assurance that my administration would be devoted to the welfare of the whole country, and not to the support of any particular section or merely local interest, I this day renew the declarations I have heretofore made, and proclaim my fixed determination to maintain, to the extent of my ability, the government in its original purity, and to adopt, as the basis of my public policy, those great republican doctrines which constitute the strength of our national existence. In reference to the army and navy, lately employed with so much distinction on active service, care shall be taken to insure the highest condition of efficiency; and, in furtherance of that object, the military and naval schools, sustained by the liberality of Congress, shall receive the special attention of the Executive.
As American freemen, we cannot but sympathize in all efforts to extend the blessings of civil and political liberty; but, at the same time, we are warned by the admonitions of history, and the voice of our own beloved Washington, to abstain from entangling alliances with foreign nations. In all disputes between conflicting governments, it is our interest not less than our duty to remain. strictly neutral; while our geographical position, the genius of our institutions and our people, the advancing spirit of civilization, and, above all, the dictates of religion, direct us to the culti vation of peaceful and friendly relations with all other powers. It is to be hoped that no international question can now arise which a government, confident in its own strength, and resolved to protect its own just rights, may not settle by wise negotiation; and it eminently becomes a government like our own, founded on the morality and intelligence of its citizens, and upheld by their affections, to exhaust every resort of honorable diplomacy before appealing to arms. In the conduct of our foreign relations I shall conform to these views, as I believe them essential to the best interests and the true honor of the country.
The appointing power vested in the President imposes delicate and onerous duties. So far as it is possible to be informed, I shall
make honesty, capacity, and fidelity indispensable pre requisites to the bestowal of office, and the absence of either of these qualities shall be deemed sufficient cause for removal.
It shall be my study to recommend such constitutional measures to Congress as may be necessary and proper to secure encouragement and protection to the great interests of agriculture, commerce, and manufactures; to improve our rivers and harbors; to provide for the speedy extinguishment of the public debt; to enforce a strict accountability on the part of all officers of the government, and the utmost economy in all public expenditures. But it is for the wisdom of Congress itself, in which all legislative powers are vested by the constitution, to regulate these and other matters of domestic policy. I shall look with confidence to the enlightened patriotism of that body to adopt such measures of conciliation as may harmonize conflicting interests, and tend to perpetuate that Union which should be the paramount object of our hopes and affections. In any action calculated to promote an object so near the heart of every one who truly loves his country, I will zealously unite with the co-ordinate branches of the gov
In conclusion, I congratulate you, my fellow-citizens, upon the high state of prosperity to which the goodness of Divine Providence has conducted our common country. Let us invoke a continuance of the same protecting care which has led us from small beginnings to the eminence we this day occupy; and let us seek to deserve that continuance by prudence and moderation in our councils; by well-directed attempts to assuage the bitterness which too often marks unavoidable differences of opinion; by the promulgation and practice of just and liberal principles, and by an enlarged patriotism, which shall acknowledge no limits but those of our own wide-spread republic.
The oath of office was then administered to the President of the United States by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and the Senate returned to their chamber.
On motion by Mr. Bright,
Ordered, That the daily hour of the meeting of the Senate be twelve o'clock, meridian.
On motion by Mr. Dayton,
The Senate adjourned.
TUESDAY, MARCH 6, 1849.
The oath prescribed by law was administered to the honorable George E. Badger, whose credentials were read and filed the 2d January.
Mr. Corwin presented the credentials of the honorable Salmon P. Chase, elected a Senator by the General Assembly of the State of Ohio for six years from and after the fourth day of March, 1849, which were read; and the oath prescribed by law was administered to Mr. Chase, and he took his seat in the Senate.
Mr. Miller submitted the following resolution; which was considered by unanimous consent, and agreed to:
Resolved, That a committee, consisting of two members, be appointed to wait on the President of the United States and inform him that the Senate is assembled, and ready to receive any communications he may be pleased to make.
Ordered, That the committee be appointed by the Vice President;
Mr. Miller and Mr. Atchison were appointed.
On motion by Mr. Douglas,
The oath prescribed by law was administered to Mr. Shields, whose credentials were read and filed the 2d instant; and he took his seat in the Senate.
The Senate proceeded to consider the resolution submitted yes. terday by Mr. Walker, in relation to the credentials of the honorable James Shields; and, having been amended, it was agreed to, as follows:
Resolved, That the certificate of the election of the honorable James Shields to a seat in this body be referred to a select committee, consisting of five members, with instructions to inquire into the eligibility of the said James Shields to a seat in the Senate of the United States, as a member thereof.
On motion by Mr. Turney,
Ordered, That the Senate will, to-morrow, at 12 o'clock, proceed to the appointment of the standing committees. After the consideration of executive business, The Senate adjourned.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 7, 1849.
The Vice President laid before the Senate a letter from the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, communicating a resolution of the Board of Regents, stating that a vacancy exists in that board by the expiration of the term of the honorable James Alfred Pearce as a Senator.
The letter was read.
Mr. Davis, of Mississippi, submitted the following resolution for consideration:
Resolved, That, in the opinion of the Senate, when vacancies occur in the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution by the expiration of the term of any Senator, the power to fill such vacancy is, by law, vested in the President of the Senate.
On motion by Mr. Turney,
Ordered, That John W. Custer have leave to withdraw his petition and papers.
On motion by Mr. Yulee,
Ordered, That Joseph K. Boyd have leave to withdraw the original letters on file with his petition and papers.
On motion by Mr. Dickinson,