Слике страница
PDF
ePub

passed, allowing any purchaser to relinquish such portion of his land, remaining unpaid for, as he chose, at the purchase price, and retain the residue; or retain the whole, and pay for it in hand, at a discount of twenty-five per cent, or pay the contract price at future instalments.

Convention for counting the electoral votes. In pursuance of the report of a joint committee, the two houses met in convention on the 14th of February, to count the votes and declare the election of a president and vice presim dent of the United States for the presidential term commencing the 4th of March, 1821. On this occasion the Missouri question again presented itself in a new form, The people of that territory, having formed a constitution, as they claimed, not inconsistent with that of the United States, considered themselves as members of the union, chose their electors, and sent on their votes for president and vice president. It was known that their reception or rejection would not vary the result; it was therefore rather a matter of etiquet, than of any practical importance how they should be disposed of. The joint committee had endeavored to remove any difficulty on this subject by providing in their report, that the presiding officer should declare how the votes would stand, if those of Missouri were counted, and how if they were not, and to declare who were elected. The counting proceeded without interruption until it came to the votes of Missouri, when a member of the house of representatives objected to the counting of those votes, on the ground that there was no such state, The constitution directs that the votes shall be opened by. the president of the senate, and counted in the presence of both houses; but makes no provision how or by whom the question on the reception of a contested vote shall be determined. As in the present case the result of the election did not depend on the decision of this question, the omission occasioned no great embarrassment. The senate with

and the speaker having resumed the chair, a motion was submitted by a member that Missouri is one of the states of the union, and that her votes ought to be received and counted. After a debate of considerable length, the house, without coming to a decision on the political standing of Missouri, ordered the motion to lie on the table, and a message to be sent to the senate that they were ready to finish the business of counting the votes. The two houses again met in convention, and the president of the senate declared the result to be two hundred and thirty one votes

drew;

including those of Missouri, for James Monroe, president, and two hundred and eighteen for Daniel D. Tompkins, vice president, and declared them duly elected.

Mr. Monroe's administration during his first presidential term, abating something for the disappointment of expectants of office, had given universal satisfaction. No organized opposition had arisen ; the people of the United States seemed to take a pleasure and pride in rallying round the standard of their government. The bold and dignified manner in which he expressed the national sentiment on the subject of European interference in the affairs of America, gained him high applause. No disputes of any magnitude had arisen with any nation except Spain, and those had been brought to a termination highly honorable and advantageous to the United States. The pecuniary embarrassments consequent on the conclusion of the late war had in a great measure ceased, and the various kinds of business had resumed a regular course and fallen into their wonted channels. The progress of improvement in wealth, industry, and enterprize, had been rapid. Four new states had been added to the union. Indian hostilities and depredations had been punished in a manner calculated to prevent their repetition. Settlements on the government lands had rapidly increased : and sixty-seven millions of the public debt extinguished. It being a generally acknowledged principle in the American government, from which there had been but one departure,

that the same person should hold the office of president for two successive terms. Mr. Monroe's re-election was a matter of course, and, with the exception of two votes, unanimous.

On the fourth of March the president elect was installed into office with the ceremonies usual on such occasions. All that the cor.stitution requires, is, that he should take the official oath at the hands of some proper magistrate; custom had entitled the people, who might choose to witness this ceremony, to expect an inaugural speech.

When a new president is elected, this is considered as a favorable opportunity for an exposition of the principles of his administration, and has been uniformly improved for that purpose. But this is not at all requisite or proper where there is only a re-election, unless a change of measures is contemplated. This custom in the present instance imposed an arduous task on the president elect. On his first elevation to office he had fully explained his views on the subject of conducting the national concerns; the uniform

tenor of his conduct had supported them. He contemplated no change of measures. The prominent facts of his past administration were well known; it was not proper for him to recapitulate or eulogize them. Being more a man of business than an orator, he was not calculated to figure on this occasion before a popular assembly. Not however to disappoint the expectations of a brilliant audience, he made an address detailing in a plain, unostentatious manner, the principal incidents of his administration, in relation to the measures of defence, negotiations with foreign pow. ers, and the progress of improvement; all of which had been previously communicated to congress, and were familiar to his audience. It was a valuable state paper, developing the strength, resources, and prospects of the country, better adapted to the hall of a legislative assembly, than to a promiscuous audience assembled to witness an inauguration.

CHAPTER XII.

Forty-fifth anniversary of American independence-Mr. Adams' address on

the occasion-Death of Napoleon-Diplomatic discussions with France, on the Louisiana treaty, on landing goods on the St Mary's-General Jackson appointed governor o the Floridas-Takes possession-Treatment of governors ('avalla and Coppinger-Dispute with Judge Fromentin on the civil privileges of the Floridians-Banishment of Spanish officers-General Jackson's reasons for his conduct-Plea ot necessity-Manner in which it is considered-General law passed for the government of the Floridas Principles adopted by the United States, in relation to colonial acquisitions compared with the European system.

Forty-fifth anniversary. The 45th anniversary of American independence, 4th of July, 1821, was celebrated with more than usual eclat. The birth-day of the nation has been noticed with more or less celebrity in the principal cities and villages in the United States from the first. This has had a happy tendency to cherish a national spirit, and has afforded an opportunity for successive orators, patriots, and politicians, to call to mind the daring deeds of their fathers, to notice with a becoming pride the progress of American principles, first brought into view by the revolution, and point to the means of perpetuating the greatness and glory of America. The continued prosperity of the country, the acquisition of the Floridas, the establishment of the boundaries beyond the Missisippi, which gave to the United States a territory commensurate to their most enlarged desires, the submission of the Indian tribes, the almost unexampled unanimity of the presidential election, and the progressive extinction of party spirit, were subjects of universal congratulation.

Mr. Adams' address. The citizens of Washington were entertained with an address from the secretary of state, who brought forth from the archives of his office and read to the assembly, the original declaration of independence. The facts which led to the birth of the nation, and conducted it to its present high rank, though familiar, would well bear repeating on this occasion ; and the service was performed in an appropriate manner. Tasks of this description have usually been assigned to persons holding less dignified stations. It was unusual to see the second officer in the government acting the orator on this holiday occasion; the

performance, however, proved the speaker to be the orator, and scholar, as well as the statesman, and ranked among the first which the day produced.

Death of Bonaparte. This year was distinguished by the death of one of the greatest men of modern times. Napoleon Bonaparte died at St. Helena, May 5th, 1821. The disorder which ended his days was a cancer on the liver, occasioned no doubt by the climate, and the gloom produced by his misfortunes. The severity with which he was treated, and the strict watch which it was deemed necessary to prevent his escape, were sources of his constant complaint. The more candid of his friends imputed his death to this cause; others suggested, but without foundation, that his keepers resorted to more efficacious means to hasten the event. His death relieved England from the expense of a million sterling annually, and the hereditary monarchs of Europe from any immediate apprehensions of another encroachment on their dynasties. It also enabled the Americans to enjoy the privilege of touching at St. Helena for refreshments in their East India trade, which was secured to them by the treaty of Ghent, but suspended during Bonaparte's residence on the island.

Disputes with France. A diplomatic controversy of some asperity arose between the French and American governments, in relation to the construction of the 8th article of the Louisiana treaty. By the 7th it was provided that, for the term of twelve years, the vessels of France and Spain should be admitted into the ports of the ceded territory, without paying any higher impost and tonnage duties than were paid by vessels of the United States ; and the Bth stipulated that after the expiration of that period, the vessels of France should be admitted upon the footing of the most favored nation. The navigation act of 1820 had made a proposition to all nations, to admit their vessels into the ports of the United States, when laden with the productions of the country to which they belonged, without paying any other duties, than such as were payable by American vessels, provided the favor should be reciprocated. This proposition had been accepted by Great Britain, in relation to her European dominions, and most of the continental powers, except France-she claimed the privilege of being placed on this footing, in regard to the ports of Louisiana, without rendering the equivalent. This was denied by the American government, and a commercial warfare of countervailing

« ПретходнаНастави »