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ness of that being from whose favor they flowed”—“peace and friendship abroad, law, order, and religion at home; good affection and harmony with our Indian neighbors; our burdens lightened, yet our income sufficient for the public wants, and the produce of the year great beyond example,” proceeded to state, that on the return of peace to Europe, it was to be expected that our carrying trade would be diminished; but that it had been further seriously injured by the “monopolizing discriminations” of some powers. Where the relinquishment of these could not be brought about by friendly discussion, he said it would be for the legislature to decide whether they were to be met with countervailing discriminations, or whether the evil was to be provided for some other way. He laid before the House “with satisfaction” an act of the British Parliament authorizing a mutual abolition of the duties and countervailing duties permitted under the treaty of 1794. He declared “it showed on their part a spirit of justice and friendly accommodation which it was our duty and our interest to cultivate with all nations.” He recommended more stringent laws providing for the return of our seamen discharged in foreign ports. The cession of Louisiana to France was only alluded to. He said it “would make a change in our foreign relations which would doubtless have a just weight in any deliberations of the legislature connected with that subject.” He stated that our fleet before Tripoli had been reinforced, under the apprehension that the other Barbary powers might take part in the war; but this apprehension had proved unfounded for the present. Tripoli had been so closely watched that but one American merchant vessel had fallen a prey to its cruisers. He communicated for ratification the convention with Georgia for the cession of the territory lying west of her; informed the House how far he had proceeded in settling boundaries with the Indians; suggested the expediency of encouraging the settlement of the relinquished Choctaw territory “as an outpost of the United States, surrounded by strong neighbors and distant from its support,” and that a monopoly which would prevent its becoming populated should be guarded against by making actual habitation a condition of the continuance of title.
In the department of finance he informed Congress that the external duties had rapidly increased; that besides answering all the regular exigencies of government, upwards of nine millions (including one million raised by the sale of bank stock) had been paid from the Treasury in one year towards the principal and interest of the public debt, making a reduction of nearly five millions and a half in its principal; and that four millions and a half remained in the Treasury, in a course of application to a further discharge of debt and current demands. But he said, “as the effect of peace on the amount of duties was not yet fully ascertained, it was the more necessary to practice every useful economy, and to incur no expense which might be avoided without prejudice.”
After mentioning some facts in regard to the cessation of internal taxes, and in regard to certain fiscal operations, he proceeded to say:
“When effects so salutary result from the plans you have already sanctioned, when merely by avoiding false objects of expense we are able, without a direct tax, without internal taxes, and without borrowing, to make large and effectual payments towards the discharge of our public debt, and the emancipation of our posterity from that moral canker, it is an encouragement, fellow citizens, of the highest order to proceed as we have begun, in substituting economy for taxation, and in pursuing what is useful for a nation placed as we are, rather than what is practised by others under different circumstances. And whensoever we are destined to meet events which shall call forth all the energies of our countrymen, we have the firmest reliance on those energies, and the comfort of leaving for calls like these the extraordinary resources of loans and internal taxes. In the meantime, by payments of the principal of our debt, we are liberating, annually, portions of the external taxes, and forming from them a growing fund still further to lessen the necessity of recurring to extraordinary resources.”
No change was recommended in the military establishment. A review of the militia law was urged. The only change proposed for the navy was the procuring some smaller vessels for Barbary service in the place of those larger ones which were not sufficiently available on so shallow a coast. It was recommended that the first further annual appropriations for naval defences should be expended in saving those already possessed. As no care or attention could preserve vessels lying in the water and exposed to the sun, from rapid decay, he suggested that those not in use be laid up in dry docks under cover from the sun, to be constructed at Washington. He stated that an
abundance of running water could there be obtained, at heights far enough above the level of the tide to be employed, as was practised in lock navigation, as a means for raising the vessels to the desired beds.
The message closed thus:
“To cultivate peace and maintain commerce and navigation in all their lawful enterprises; to foster our fisheries and nurseries of navigation and for the nurture of man, and protect the manufactures adapted to our circumstances; to preserve the faith of the nation by an exact discharge of its debts and contracts, expend the public money with the same care and economy we would practise with our own, and impose on our citizens no unnecessary burden; to keep in all things within the pale of our constitutional powers, and cherish the federal Union as the only rock of safety—these, fellow citizens, are the landmarks by which we are to guide ourselves in all our proceedings. By continuing to make these our rule of action, we shall endear to our countrymen the true principles of their Constitution, and promote a union of sentiment and of action equally auspicious to their happiness and safety. On my part you may count on a cordial concurrence in every measure for the public good, and on all the information I possess which may enable you to discharge to advantage the high functions with which you are invested by your country.”
The message gave great satisfaction to the Republicans, and even to many of the moderate Federalists. But it was not to the taste of a portion of the latter party. Hamilton represented the views of this class in a letter to General C. C. Pinckney, December 29th :
“Amidst the triumphant reign of democracy, do you retain sufficient interest in public affairs to feel any curiosity about what is going on? In my opinion, the follies and vices of the Administration have as yet made no material impression to their disadvantage. On the contrary, I think the malady is rather progressive than upon the decline in our northern quarter. The last lullaby message, instead of inspiring contempt, attracts praise. Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold or cunning imposture. But a difficult knot has been twisted by the incidents of the cession of Louisiana, and the interruption of the deposit of New Orleans. You have seen the soft turn given to this in the message. Yet we are told that the President, in conversation, is very stout. The great embarrassment must be how to carry on the war without taxes. The pretty scheme of substituting economy to taxation will not do here. And a war would be a terrible comment upon the abandonment of the internal revenue. Yet how is popularity to be preserved with the western partisans, if their interests are tamely sacrificed ? Will the artifice be for the chief to hold a bold language, and the subalterns to act a feeble part? Time must explain. You know my general theory as to our western affairs. I have always held that the unity of our empire, and the best interests of our nation, require that we shall annex to the United States all the territory east of the Mississippi, New Orleans included. Of course, I infer that, on an emergency like the present, energy is wisdom.” "
Pinckney replied a few weeks afterwards:
“Does there not appear to be a great want of nerve and energy in the measures our rulers are adopting? They are not calculated to avoid war, and we shall have to encounter it in a shameful state of unpreparedness. Yet such is the infatuation of the people, that anti-Federalism certainly gains ground in this State, which can only exist by a strong union and firm government.””
Sedgwick was a little more hopeful. “There was one consolation under all the humiliation which we endured from a sense of the degradation of our national character. This state of things could not long exist.”
Morris wrote an English friend:
“In truth, there is just now so much of what we call philosophy among our rulers, that we must not be surprised at the charge of pusillanimity. And our people have so much mercantile spirit, that, if other nations will keep their hands out of our pockets, it is not a trifling insult that will rouse us. Indeed, it is the fashion to say, that when injured it is more honorable to wait in patience the uncertain issue of negotiation, than promptly to do ourselves right by an act of hostility.
* * * * * *
“It is the fashion with those discontented creatures, called Federalists, to say, that our President is not a Christian; yet they must acknowledge that in true Christian meekness, when smitten on one cheek he turns the other, and by his late appointment of Monroe, has taken special care that a stone, which the builders rejected, should be made first of the corner. These are his works; and for his faith, it is not as a grain of mustard, but the full size of a pumpkin, so that while the men of mustard-seed faith can only move mountains, he finds no difficulty in swallowing them. He believes, for instance, in the perfectibility of man, the wisdom of mobs, and moderation of Jacobins. He believes in payment of debts by diminution of revenue, in defence of territory by reduction of armies, and in vindication of rights by the appointment of ambassadors.” “
A groan broke from the uneasy retirement of Quincy. In answer to an invitation of citizens of Plymouth to attend a public festival, Mr. Adams wrote:
“I feel a well-grounded conviction that the best principles of our great and glorious ancestors are inherited by a large portion of the American people. And if the talents, the policy, the address, the power, the bigotry and tyranny of Archbishop Laud and the court of Charles the First were not able to destroy or discredit
1 Hamilton's Works, vol. vi. p. 551. Ib. p. 554. • Ib. p. 552. * Morris's Works, vol. iii. p. 176. The letter is dated January 14th, immediately after the nomination of Monroe as Minister Extraordinary to France and Spain.
them in 1630 or 1635, there is little cause of apprehension for them from the feeble efforts of the frivolous libertines who are combining, conspiring, and intriguing against them in 1802.”
The important business in Congress opened with proceedings in respect to the Spanish violation of treaty at New Orleans. Randolph, chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, on the 17th of December, moved to call on the President for information ; and the latter communicated a copy of the order of the Spanish Intendant, and some other official papers as they were received.
The Federalists determined to drive the Administration from its policy, and vindicate their own former one, by blowing up a war excitement against Spain and France. Griswold moved, January 4th (1803), for the official documents in relation to the cession of Louisiana from Spain to France, and a report of all the circumstances, “unless such documents and report would, in the opinion of the President, divulge to the House particular transactions not proper at this time to be communicated.” On the question of reference, a sharp skirmish took place, involving the point whether the debate should be public or private. The Federalists insisted that it should be public—that the question involved no secret—that the Government had exhibited remissness—that it was time for the House to act, etc. The call for more papers was voted down, and on the House being cleared, Randolph submitted the following resolution:
Resolved, That the House receive, with great sensibility, the information of a disposition in certain officers of the Spanish Government at New Orleans to obstruct the navigation of the river Mississippi, as secured to the United States by the most solemn stipulations. That, adhering to the humane and wise policy which ought ever to characterize a free people, and by which the United States have always professed to be governed, willing, at the same time, to ascribe this breach of compact to the unauthorized misconduct of certain individuals, rather than to a want of good faith on the part of his Catholic Majesty, and relying with perfect confidence on the vigilance and wisdom of the Executive, they will wait the issue of such measures as that department of the Government shall have pursued for asserting the rights and vindicating the injuries of the United States; holding it to be their duty, at the same time, to express their unalterable determination to maintain the boundaries, and the rights of navigation and commerce through the river Mississippi, as established by existing treaties.
Griswold the next day, in the House, submitted and proceeded to debate a motion in regard to the reference of his reso