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will. Let us then endeavor so to amend our system, that the office of chief magistrate may not be conferred upon any citizen but in pursuance of a fair expression of the will of the majority.
I would therefore recommend such an amendment of the constitution as may remove all intermediate agency in the election of president and vice president. The mode may be so regulated as to preserve to each state its present relative weight in the election; and a failure in the first attempt may be provided for, by confiding the second to a choice between the two highest candidates. In connection with such an amendment, it would seem advisable to limit the service of the chief magistrate to a single term of either four or six years. If, however, it should not be adopted, it is worthy of consideration whether a provision disqualifying for office the representatives in Congress on whom such an election may have devolved would not be proper.
While members of Congress can be constitutionally appointed to offices of trust and profit, it will be the practice, even under the most conscientious adherence to duty, to select them for such stations as they are believed to be better qualified to fill than other citizens; but the purity of our government would doubtless be promoted by their exclusion from all appointments in the gift of the president, in whose election they may have been officially concerned. The nature of the judicial office, and the necessity of securing in the cabinet and in diplomatic stations of the highest rank, the best talents and political experience, should perhaps except these from the exclusion.
There are perhaps few men who can for any great length of time enjoy office and power, without being more or less under the influence of feelings unfavorable to a faithful discharge of their public duties. Their integrity may be proof against improper considerations immediately addressed to themselves; but they are apt to acquire a habit of looking with indifference upon the public interests
, and of tolerating conduct from which an unpractised man would revolt. Office is considered as a species of property; and government rather as a means of promoting individual interest, than as an instru: ment created solely for the service of the people. Corruption in some, and in others a perversion of correct feelings and principles, divert government from its legitimate ends, and make it an engine for the support of the few at the expense of the many. The duties of all public officers are, or at least, admit of being made so plain and simple, that men of intelligence may readily qualify themselves for their performance; and I cannot but believe that more is lost by the long continuance of men in office than is generally to be gained by their experience. I submit therefore to your consideration whether the efficiency of the government would not be promoted, and official industry and integrity better secured by a general extension of the law which limits appointments to four years. In a country where offices are created solely for the benefit of the people
, no one man has any more intrinsic right to official station than another. Offices were not established to give support to particular men, at the public expense. No individual wrong is therefore done by removal, since neither appointment to nor continuance in office is matter of right. The incumbent became an officer with a riew to public benefits; and when these require his removal, they are not to be sacrificed to private interests. It is the people, and they alone, who have a right to complain, when a bad officer is substituted for a good one.
He who is removed has the same means of obtaining a living
that are enjoyed by the millions who never held office.
The proposed limitation would destroy the idea of property, now so generally connected with official station; and although individual distress may be sometimes produced, it would, by promoting that rotation which constitutes a leading principle in the republican creed, give healthful action to the system.
No very considerable change has occurred during the recess of Congress, in the condition of either our agriculture, commerce, or manufactures. The operation of the tariff has not proved so injurious to the two former, or as beneficial to the latter as was anticipated. Importations of foreign goods have not been sensibly diminished, while domestic competition, under an illusive excitement, has increased the production much beyond the demand for home consumption. The consequences have been low prices, temporary embarrassmeüt, and partial loss. That such of our manufacturing establishments as are based upon capital, and are prudently managed, will survive the shock, and be ultimately profitable, there is no good reason to doubt.
To regulate its conduct, so as to promote equally the prosperity of these three cardinal interests, is one of the most difficult tasks of government; and it may be regretted that the complicated restrictions which now embarrass the intercourse of nations, could not by common consent be abolished, and commerce allowed to flow in those channels to which individual enterprise, always its surest guide, might direct it. But we must ever expect selfish legislation in other nations; and are therefore compelled to adapt our own to their regulations, in the manner best calculated to avoid serious injury, and to harmonize the conflicting interests of our agriculture, our commerce, and our manufactures. Under these impressions, I invite your attention to the existing tariff
, believing that some of its provisions require modification.
The general rule to be applied in graduating the duties upon articles of foreign growth or manufacture, is that which will place our own in fair competition with those of other countries; and the inducements to advance even a step beyond this point, are controlling in regard to those articles which are of primary necessity in time of war. When we reflect upon the difficulty and delicacy of this operation, it is important that it should never be attempted but with the utmost caution. Frequent legislation in regard to any branch of industry, affecting its value, and by which its capital may be transferred to new channels, must always be productive of hazardous speculation and loss.
In deliberating, therefore, on these interesting subjects, local feelings and prejudices should be merged in the patriotic determination to promote the great interests of the whole. All attempts to connect them with the party conflicts of the day are necessarily injurious, and should be discountenanced. Our action upon them should be under the control of higher and purer motives. Legislation, subjected to such influences, can never be just; and will not long retain the sanction of a people, whose active patriotism is not bounded by sectional limits, nor insensible to that spirit of concession and forbearance which gave life to our political compact, and still sustains it. Discarding all calculations of political ascendency, the north, the south, the east, and the west, should unite in diminishing any burden of which either may justly complain.
The agricultural interest of our country is so essentially connected with every other, and so superior in importance to them all, that it is scarcely
necessary to invite to it your particular attention. It is principally as manufactures and commerce tend to increase the value of agricultural productions, and to extend their application to the wants and comforts of society, that they deserve the fostering care of government.
Looking forward to the period, not far distant, when a sinking fund will no longer be required, the duties on those articles of importation which cannot come in competition with our own productions, are the first that should engage the attention of Congress in the modification of the tariff. Ofthese, tea and coffee are the most prominent; they enter largely into the consumption of the country, and have become articles of necessity to all classes. A reduction therefore of the existing duties will be felt as a common benefit; but, like all other legislation connected with commerce, to be efficacious, and not injurious, it should be gradual and certain.
The public prosperity is evinced in the increased revenue arising from the sales of public lands; and in the steady maintenance of that produced by imposts and tonnage, notwithstanding the additional duties imposed by the act of 19th May, 1828, and the unusual importations in the early part of
The balance in the treasury on the 1st January, 1829, was five millions nine hundred and seventy-two thousand four hundred and thirty-five dollars and eighty-one cents. The receipts of the current year are estimated at twenty-four millions six hundred and two thousand two hundred and thirty dollars; and the expenditures for the same time at twenty-six millions one hundred and sixty-four thousand five hundred and ninety-five dollars. Leaving a balance in the treasury, on the 1st of January next, of four millions four hundred and ten thousand and seventy dollars and eighty-one cents.
There will have been paid on account of the public debt during the present year, the sum of twelve millions four hundred and five thousand and five dollars and eighty cents; reducing the whole debt of the government, on the first of January next, to forty-eight millions five hundred and sixty-fire thousand four hundred and six dollars and fifty cents, including seven millions of five per cent, stock, subscribed to the Bank of the United States. The payment on account of the public debt, made on the first of July last, was eight millions seven hundred and fifteen thousand four hundred and sixty. two dollars and eighty-seven cents. It was apprehended that the sudden withdrawal of so large a sum from the banks in which it was deposited, at a time of unusual pressure in the money market, might cause much injury to the interests dependent on bank accommodations. But this evil was wholly averted by an early anticipation of it at the treasury, aided by the judicious arrangements of the officers of the Bank of the United States.
The state of the finances exhibits the resources of the nation in an aspect highly flattering to its industry; and auspicious of the ability of govern ment, in a very short time, to extinguish the public debt. When this shall be done, our population will be relieved from a considerable portion of its present burdens; and will find not only new motives to patriotic affection, but additional means for the display of individual enterprise. The fiscal power of the states will also be increased, and may be more extensively exerted in favor of education and other public objects; while ample means will remain in the federal government to promote the general weal, in all the modes permitted to its authority.
After the extinction of the public debt, it is not probable that any adjust
ment of the tariff, upon principles satisfactory to the people of the Union, will, until a remote period, if ever, leave the government without a considerable surplus in the treasury, beyond what may be required for its current service As, then, the period approaches when the application of the revenue to the payment of debt will cease, the disposition of the surplus will present a subject for the serious deliberation of Congress; and it may be fortunate for the country that it is yet to be decided. Considered in connection with the difficuliies which have heretofore attended appropriations for purposes of internal improvement, and with those which this experience tells us will certainly arise, whenever power over such subjects may be exercised by the general government; it is hoped that it may lead to the adoption of some plan which will reconcile the diversified interests of the states
, and strengthen the bonds which unite them. Every member of the Union, in peace and in war, will be benefited by the improvement of inland navigation, and the construction of highways in the several states. Let us then endeavor to attain this benefit in a mode which will be satisfactory to all. That hitherto adopted has, by many of our fellow citizens, been deprecated as an infraction of the constitution; while by others it has been viewed as inexpedient. All feel that it has been employed at the expense of harmony in the legislative councils.
To avoid these evils, it appears to me that the most safe, just, and federal disposition which could be made of this surplus revenue, would be its apportionment among the several states, according to their ratio of representation; and should this measure not be found warranted by the constitution, that it would be expedient to propose to the states an amendment authorizing it. I regard an appeal to the source of power, in cases of real doubt, and where its exercise is deemed indispensable to the general welfare, as among the most sacred of all our obligations. Upon this country, more than any other, has, in the providence of God, been cast the special guardianship of the great principle of adherence to written constitutions. If it fail here, all hope in regard to it will be extinguished. That this was intended to be a government of limited and specific, and not general powers, must be admitted by all; and it is our duty to preserve for it the character intended by its framers. If experience point out the necessity for an enlargement of these powers, let us apply for it to those for whose benefit it is to be exercised; and not undermine the whole system by a resort to overstrained construction. The scheme has worked well. It has exceeded the hopes of those who devised it, and become an object of admiration to the world. We are responsible to our country and to the glorious cause of self-governinent, for the preservation of so great a good. The great mass of legislation relating to our internal affairs was intended to be left where the federal convention found it,-in the state governments. Nothing is clearer, in my view, than that we are chiefly indebted for the success of the constiiution under which we are now acting, to the watchful and auxiliary operation of the state authorities. This is not the reflection of a day, but belongs to the most deeply rooted convictions of my mind. I cannot, therefore, too strongly, or too earnestly, for my own sense of its importance, warn you against all encroachments upon the legitimate sphere of state sovereignty. Sustained by its healthful and invigorating influence, the federal system can never fall.
In the collection of the revenue, the long credits authorized on goods imported from beyond the Cape of Good Hope are the chief cause of
the losses at present sustained. If these were shortened to six, nine, and twelve months, and warehouses provided by government sufficient to receive the goods offered in deposite for security and for debenture ;'and if the right of the United States to a priority of payment out of the estates of its insolvent debtors was more effectually secured, this evil would in a great measure be obviated. An authority to construct such houses is, therefore, with the proposed alteration of the credits, recommended to your attention.
It is worthy of notice that the laws for the collection and security of the revenue arising from imposts were chiefly framed when the rates of duties on imported goods presented much less temptation for illicit trade than at present exists.
There is reason to believe that these laws are in some re spects quite insufficient for the proper security of the revenue and the protection of the interests of those who are disposed to observe them. The injurious and demoralizing tendency of a successful system of smuggling is so obvious as not to require comment, and cannot be too carefully guarded against. I therefore suggest to Congress the propriety of adopting efficient measures to prevent this evil, avoiding, however, as much as possible, every unnecessary infringement of individual liberty and embarrassment of fair and lawful business.
On an examination of the records of the treasury, I have been forcibly struck with the large amount of public money which appears to be outstanding. Of the sum ihus due from individuals to the government, a considerable portion is undoubtedly desperate; and in many instances has probably been rendered so by remissness in the agents charged with its collection. By proper exertions a great part, however, may yet be recovered; and whatever may be the portions respectively belonging to these two classes it behooves the government to ascertain the real state of the fact. This can be done only by the prompt adoption of judicious measures for the collection of such as may be made available. It is believed that a very large amount has been lost through the inadequacy of the means provided for the collection of debts due to the public; and that this inadequacy lies chiefly in the want of legal skill, habitually and constantly employed in the direction of the agents engaged in the service. It must, I ihink, be admitted that the supervisory power over suits brought by the public, which is now vested in an accounting officer of the treasury, not selected with a view to his legal knowledge, and encumbered as he is with numerous other duties, operates unfavorably to the public interest.
It is important that this branch of the public service should be subject to the supervision of such professional skill as will give it efficiency. The expense attendant upon such a modification of the executive department would be justified by the soundest principles of economy. I would recommend, therefore, that the duties now assigned to the agent of the treasury, so far as they relate to the superintendence and management of legal proceedings on the part of the United States, be transferred to the attorney: general; and that this officer be placed on the same footing in all-respects as the heads of the other departments, -receiving like compensation and having such subordinate officers provided for his department as may be requisite for the discharge of these additional duties. The professional skill of the attorney-general, employed in directing the conduct of marshals and district-attorneys, would hasten the collection of debts now in suit and hereafter save much to the government. It might be further extended to