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I shall, also, at the earliest proper occasion, invite the attention of Congress to such measures as in my judg ment will be best calculated to regulate and control the Executive power in reference to this vitally important subject.
I shall also, at the proper season, invite your personal attention to the statutory enactments for the suppression of the slave trade, which may require to be rendered more efficient in their provisions. There is reason to believe that the traffic is on the increase. Whether such increase is to be ascribed to the abolition of slave labor in the British possessions in our vicinity, and an attendant diminution in the supply of those articles which enter into the general consumption of the world, thereby augmenting the demand from other quarters, and thus calling for additional labor, it were needless to inquire. The highest considerations of public honor as well as the strongest promptings of humanity, require a resort to the most vigorous efforts to suppress the trade.
In conclusion, I beg to invite your particular attention to the interests of this District. Nor do I doubt that, in a liberal spirit of legislation, you will seek to advance its commercial as well as its local interests. Should Congress deem it to be its duty to repeal the existing SubTreasury law, the necessity of providing a suitable place of deposit for the public moneys which may be required within the District must be apparent to all.
I have felt it to be due to the country to present the foregoing topics to your consideration and reflection. Others, with which it might not seem proper to trouble you at an extraordinary session, will be laid before you at a future day. I am happy in committing the important affairs of the country into your hands. The tendency of public sentiment, I am pleased to believe, is towards the adoption, in a spirit of union and harmony, of such measures as will fortify the public interests.
To cherish such a tendency of public opinion is the task of an elevated patriotism. That differences of opinion as to the means of accomplishing these desirable objects should exist, is reasonably to be expected. Nor can all be made satisfied with any system of measures. But I flatter myself with the hope that the great body of
the people will readily unite in suppport of those whose efforts spring from a disinterested desire to promote their happiness; to preserve the Federal and State Governments within their respective orbits; to cultivate peace with all the nations of the earth, on just and honorable grounds; to exact obedience to the laws; to entrench liberty and property in full security, and, consulting the most rigid economy, to abolish all useless expenses.
POLK'S INAUGURAL ADDRESS.
MARCH 4, 1845.
FELLOW CITIZENS: Without solicitation on my part, I have been chosen by the free and voluntary suffrages of my countrymen to the most honorable and most responsible office on earth. I am deeply impressed with gratitude for the confidence reposed in me. Honored with this distinguished consideration at an earlier period of life than any of my predecessors, I cannot disguise the diffidence with which I am about to enter on the discharge of my official duties.
If the more aged and experienced men who have filled the office of President of the United States, even in the infancy of the republic, distrusted their ability to discharge the duties of that exalted station, what ought not to be the apprehensions of one so much younger and less endowed, now that our domain extends from ocean to ocean, that our people have so greatly increased in numbers, and at a time when so great diversity of opinion prevails in regard to the principles and policy which should characterize the administration of our government? Well may the boldest fear, and the wisest tremble, when incurring responsibilities on which may depend our country's peace and prosperity, and, in some degree, the hopes and happiness of the whole human family.
In assuming responsibilities so vast, I fervently invoke the aid of that Almighty Ruler of the universe, in whose
hands are the destinies of nations and of men, to guard this heaven-favored land against the mischiefs which, without his guidance, might arise from an unwise public policy. With a firm reliance upon the wisdom of Omnipotence to sustain and direct me in the path of duty which I am appointed to pursue, I stand in the presence of this assembled multitude of my countrymen, to take upon myself the solemn obligation, "to the best of my ability, to preserve, protect, and defend the constitution of the United States."
A concise enumeration of the principles which will guide me in the administrative policy of the government, is not only in accordance with the examples set me by all my predecessors, but is eminently befitting the occasion.
The constitution itself, plainly written as it is, the safeguard of our federative compact, the offspring of concession and compromise, binding together in the bonds of peace and union this great and increasing family of free and independent States, will be the chart by which 1 shall be directed.
It will be my first care to administer the government in the true spirit of that instrument, and to assume no powers not expressly granted, or clearly implied in its terms. The government of the United States is one of delegated and limited powers; and it is by a strict adherence to the clearly granted powers, and by abstaining from the exercise of doubtful or unauthorized implied powers, that we have the only sure guaranty against the recurrence of those unfortunate collisions between the Federal and State authorities, which have occasionally so much disturbed the harmony of our system, and even threatened the perpetuity of our glorious Union.
To the States respectively, or to the people," have been reserved "the powers not delegated to the United States by the constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States." Each State is a complete sovereignty within the sphere of its reserved powers. The government of the Union, acting within the sphere of its delegated authority, is also a complete sovereignty. While the general government should abstain from the exercise of authority not clearly delegated to it, the States should be