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Surely there could be nothing derogatory in that. As matters now stand, che states themselves, in their sovereign character, are not unfrequently peitioners at the bar of the federal legislature for such allowances out of the national treasury as it may comport with their pleasure or sense of duty to bestow upon them. It cannot require argument to prove which of the two courses is most compatible with the efficiency or respectability of the state governments.
But all these are matters for discussion and dispassionate consideration. That the desired adjustment would be attended with difficulty, affords no reason why it should not be attempted. The effective operation of such motives would have prevented the adoption of the constitution under which we have so long lived, and under the benign influence of which our beloved country has so signally prospered. The framers of that sacred instrument had greater difficulties to overcome; and they did overcome them. The patriotism of the people, directed by a deep conviction of the importance of the Union, produced mutual concession and reciprocal forbearance. Strict right was merged in a spirit of compromise, and the result has consecrated their disinterested devotion to the general weal
. Unless the American people have degenerated, the same result can be again effected, whenever experience points out the necessity of a resort to the same means to uphold the fabric which their fathers had reared. It is beyond the power of man to make a system of government like ours, or any other, operate with precise equality upon states situated like those which con pose this confederacy; nor is inequality always injustice. Every state cannot expect to shape the measures of the general government to suit its own particular interests. The causes which prevent it are scated in the nature of things, and cannot be entirely counteracted by human means. Mutual forbearance, therefore, becomes a duty obligatory upon all; and we may, I am confident, count upon a cheerful compliance with this high injunction on the part of our constituents
. It is not to be supposed that ihey will object to make such comparatively inconsiderable sacrifices for the preservation of rights and privileges which other less favored portions of the world have in vain waded through seas of blood to acquire.
Our course is a safe one, if it be but faithfully adhered to. Acquiescence in the constitutionally expressed will of the majority, and the exercise of that will in a spirit of moderation, justice, and brotherly kindness, will constitute a cement which would for ever preserve our Union. Those who cherish and inculcate sentiments like these, render a most essential service to their country; while those who seek to weaken their influence are, however conscientious and praiseworthy their intentions, in effect, its worst enemies.
If the intelligence and influence of the country, instead of laboring to foment sectional prejudices, to be made subservient to party warfare, were in good faith applied to the eradication of causes of local discontent, by the improvement of our institutions, and by facilitating their adaptation to the condition of the times, this task would prove one of less difficulty. May we not hope that the obvious interests of our common country, and the dictates of an enlightened patriotism, will, in the end, lead the public mind in that direction.
After all, the nature of the subject does not admit of a plan wholly free from objection. That which has for some time been in operation, is, perhaps, the worst that could exist; and every advance that can be made in its
improvement is a matter eminently worthy of your most deliberate attention.
It is very possible that one better calculated to effect the objects in view may yet be devised. If so, it is to be hoped, that those who disapprove of the past, and dissent from what is proposed for the future, will feel it their duty to direct their attention to it, as they must be sensible that, unless some fixed rule for the action of the federal government in this respect is establish ed, the course now attempted to be arrested will be again resorted to. Any mode which is calculated to give the greatest degree of effect and harmony to our legislation upon the subject—which shall best serve to keep the movements of the federal government within the sphere intended by those who modelled, and those who adopted it—which shall lead to the extinguish ment of the national debt in the shortest period, and impose the lightest burdens upon our constituents
, shall receive from me a cordial and firm support. Among the objects of great national concern, I cannot onnit to press again upon your attention that part of the constitution which regulates the election of president and vice-president. The necessity for its amendment is made so clear to my mind by the observation of its evils, and by the many able discussions which they have elicited on the floor of Congress and elsewhere, ibat I should be wanting in my duty were I to withhold another expression of
my deep solicitude upon the subject. Our system fortunately contemplates • a recurrence to first principles, differing in this respect from all that have
preceded it, and securing it, I trust, equally against the decay and the commotions which have marked the progress of other governments. Our fellow citizens, too, who, in proportion to their love of liberty, keep a steady eye upon the ineans of sustaining it, do not require to be reminded of the duty they owe to themselves, to remedy all essential defects in so vital a part of their system. While they are sensible that every evil attendant upon its operation is not necessarily indicative of a bad organization, but may proceed from temporary causes; yet the habitual presence, or even a single instance of evils which can be clearly traced to an organic defect, will not
, I trust, be overlooked through a too scrupulous veneration for the work of their ancestors. The constitution was an experiment committed to the virtue and intelligence of the great mass of our countrymen, in whose ranks the framers of it themselves were to perform the part of patriotic observation and scrutiny: and if they have passed from the stage of existence with an increased confidence in its general adaptation to our condition, we should learn from authority so high, the duty of fortifying the points in it which time proves to be exposed, rather than be deterred from approaching them by the suggestions of fear, or the dictates of misplaced reverence.
A provision which does not secure to the people a direct choice of their chief magistrate, but has a tendency to defeat their will, presented to my mind such an inconsisteney with the general spirit of our institutions, that I was induced to suggest for your consideration the substitute which appeared to me, at the same time, the most likely to correct the evil, and to meet the views of our constituents. The most mature reflection since, has added strength to the belief that ihe best interests of our country require the speedy adoption of some plan calculated to effect this end. A contingency which sometimes places it in the power of a single member of the House of Reprosentatives to decide an election of so high and solemn a charucter, is unjust to the people; and becomes, when it occurs, a source of embarrassment to the individuals thus brought into power, and a cause of distrust of the representative body. Liable as the confederacy is, from its great extent, to parties
unded upon sectional interests, and to corresponding multiplication of canidates for the presidency, the tendency of the constitutional reference to the Iouse of Representatives, is to devolve the election upon that body in almost very instance; and whatever choice may then be made among the candiates thus presented to them, to swell the influence of particular interests to
degree inconsistent with the general good. The consequences of this feaure of the constitution appear far more threatening to the peace and integity of the Union, than any which I can conceive as likely to result from he simple legislative action of the federal government.
It was a leading object with the framers of the constitution to keep as separate as possible the action of the legislative and executive branches of the government. To secure this object, nothing is more essential than to preserve the former from the temptations of private interest, and therefore so to direct the patronage of the latter as not to permit such temptations to be offered. Experience abundantly demonstraies that every precaution in this respect is a valuable safeguard of liberty, and one which my reflections upon the tendencies of our system incline me to think should be made still stronger. It was for this reason that, in connection with an amendment of the constitution removing all intermediate agency in the choice of the president, I recommended some restrictions upon the re-eligibility of that officer and upon the tenure of officers generally. The reason still exists; and I renew the recommendation, with an increased confidence that this adoption will strengthen those checks by which the constitution designed to secure the independence of each department of the government, and promote the healthful and equitable administration of all the trusts which it has created. The agent most likely to contravene this design of the constitution is the chief magistrate. In order, particularly, that this appointment may, as far as possible, be placed beyond the reach of any improper influences; in order that he may approach the solemn responsibili ies of the highest office in the gift of a free people, uncommitted to any other course than the strict line of constitutional duty; and that the securities for this independence may be rendered as strong as the nature of power, and the weakness of its possessor, will admit; I cannot too earnestly invite your attention to the propriety of
promoting such amendment of the constitution as will render him ineligible E after one term of service.
It gives me pleasure to announce to Congress that the benevolent policy of the government, steadily pursued for nearly thirty years, in relation to the remoyal of the Indians beyond the while setilements, is approaching to a happy consummation. Two important tribes have accepted the provision made for their removal at the last session of Congress, and it is believed that their example will induce the remaining tribes, also, to seek the same obvious advantages.
The consequences of a speedy removal will be important to the United States, to individual states, and to the Indians themselves. The pecuniary advantages which it promises to the government are the least of its recommendations. It puis an end to all possible danger of collision between the authorities of the general and state governments, on account of the Indians. It will place a dense and civilized population in large tracts of country now occupied by a few savage hunters. By opening the whole territory between Tennessee on the north, and Louisiana on the south, to the settlements of the whites, it will incalculably strengthen the south-western frontier, and render the adjacent states strong enough to repel future invasion
without remote aid. It will relieve the whole state of Mississippi, and the western part of Alabama, of Indian occupancy, and enable those states to advance rapidly in population, wealth, and power. It wili separate the Indians from immediate contact with theseulements of the whites; free them from the power of the states; enable them to pursue happiness in their own way, and under their own rude institutions; will retard the progress of decay which is lessening their numbers; and perhaps cause them gradually
, under the protection of the government, and through the influence of good counsels, to cast off their savage habits, and become an interesting, civilized, and Christian community. These consequences, some of them so certain, and the rest so probable, make the complete execution of the plan sanctioned by Congress at their last session, an object of much solicitude.
Toward the aborigines of the country no one can indulge a more friendly feeling than myself, or would go farther in attempting to reclaim them from their wandering habits, and make them a happy and prosperous people. I have endeavored to impress upon them my own solemn convictions of the duties and powers of ihe general government in relation to the state authorities. For the justice of the laws passed by the states within the scope of their reserved powers, they are not responsible to this government. As individuals, we may entertain and express our opinions of their acts; but as a government, we have as little right to control them as we have to prescribe laws to foreign nations.
With a full understanding of the subject, the Choctaw and the Chichasaw tribes have, with great unanimity, determined to avail themselves of the liberal offers presented by the act of Congress, and have agreed to remove beyond the Mississippi river. Treaties have been made with them, which, in due season, will be submitted for consideration. In negotiating these treaties, they were made to understand their true condition; and they have preferred inaintaining their independence in the western forests, to submitting to the laws of the state in which they now reside. These treaties being probably the last which will ever be made with them, are characterized by great liberality on the part of the government. They give the Indians a liberal sum in consideration of their removal, and comfortable subsistence on their arrival at their new homes. If it be their real int-rest to maintain a separate existence, they will there be at liberty to do so without the inconveniences and vexations to which they would unavoidably have been subject in Alabama and Mississippi.
Humanity has ofien wept over the fate of the aborigines of this country, and philanthropy has been long busily employed in devising means to avert it. But its progress has never for a moment been arrested; and, one by one, have many powerful tribes disappeared from the earth. To follow to the tomb the last of his race, and to tread on the graves of extinct nations, excites melancholy reflections. But true philanthropy reconciles the mind to these vicissitudes, as it does to the extinction of one generation to make room for another. In the monuments and fortresses of an unknown people, spread over the extensive regions of the west, we behold the meinorials of a once powerful race, which was exterminated, or has disappeared, to make room for the existing savage tribes. Nor is there anything in this, which, upon a comprehensive view of the general interests of the human race, isto be regretted. Philanthropy could not wish to see this continent restored to the condition in which it was found by our forefathers. What good man would prefer a country covered with forests and ranged by a few thousand
avages, to our extensive republic, studded with cities, towns, and prosperus farms; embellished with all the improvements which art can devise, or ndustry execute; occupied by more than twelve millions of happy people, und filled with all the blessings of liberty, civilization, and religion.
The present policy of the government is but a continuation of the same progressive change, by a milder process. The tribes which occupied the countries now constituting the eastern states, were annihilated, or have melted away, to make room for the whites. The waves of population and civili. zation are rolling to the westward; and we now propose to acquire the countries occupied by the red men of the south and west by a fair exchange, and, at the expense of the United States, to send them to'a land where their existence may be prolonged, and perhaps made perpetual. Doubtless it will be painful to leave the graves of their fathers; but what do they more than our ancestors did, or than our children are now doing? To better their condition in an unknown land, our forefathers left all that was dear in earthly objects. Our children, by thousands yearly leave the land of their birth, to seek new homes in distant regions. Does humanity weep at these painful separations from everything, animate and inanimate, with which the young heart has become entwined ? Far from it. It is rather a source of joy that our country affords scope where our young population may range unconstrained in body or in mind, developing the power and faculties of man in their highest perfection. These remove hundreds, and almost thousands of miles, at their own expense, purchase the lands they occupy, and support themselves at their new homes
, from the moment of their arrival. Can it be cruel in this government, when, by events which it cannot control, the Indian is made discontented in his ancient home, to purchase his lands, to give him a new and extensive territory, to pay the expense of his removal, and support him a year in his new abode ? How many thousands of our own people would gladly embrace the opportunity of removing to the west on such conditions? If the offers made to the Indians were extended to them, they would be hailed with gratitude and joy.
And is it supposed that the wandering savage has a stronger attachment to his home, than the settled, civilized Christian? Is it more afflicting to him to leave the graves of his fathers, than it is to our brothers and children? Rightly considered, the policy of the general government toward the red man, is not only liberal but generous. He is unwilling to submit to the laws of the states, and mingle with their population. To save him from this alternative, or perhaps utter annihilation, the general government kindly offers him a new home, and proposes to pay the whole
expense his removal and settlement.
In the consummation of a policy originating at an early period, and steadily pursued by every administration within the present century—so just to the states, and so generous to the Indians, the executive feels it has a right to expect the co-operation of Congress, and of all good and disinterested
The states, moreover, have a right to demand it. It was substantially a part of the compact which made them members of our confederacy. With Georgia, there is an express contract; with the new states, an im plied one, of equal obligation. Why, in authorizing Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi, and Alabama, to form constitutions and become separate states, did Congress include within their limits extensive tracts of Indian lands, and in some instances, powerful Indian tribes? Was it not understood by both parties that the power of the states was to be co-exten