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the general complexion of affairs, render it my indispensible duty to recommend to your consideration effectual measures of defence.
The commerce of the United States has become an interesting object of attention, whether we consider it in relation to the wealth and finances, or the strength and resources of the nation. With a sea coast of near two thousand miles in extent, opening a wide field for fisheries, navigation and commerce, a great portion of our citizens naturally apply their industry and enterprise to these objects. Any serious and permanent injury, to commerce would not fail to produce the most embarrassing disorders; to prevent it from being undermined, and destroyed, it is es. sential that it receive an adequate protection.
The naval establishment must occur to every man, who considers the injuries committed on our commerce, the insults offered to our citizens, and the description of the vessels by which these abuses have been practised; as the sufferings of our mercantile, and sea-faring citizens, cannot be ascribed to the omission of duties demandable, considering the neutral situation of our country, they are to be attributed to the hope of impunity, arising from a supposed inability on our part to afford protection. To resist the consequences of such impressions, on the minds of foreign nations, and to guard against the degradations and servility which they must finally stamp on the American character is an important duty of go. vernment.
A naval power next to the militia is the natural delence of the United States. The experience of the last war would be sufficient to shew that a moderate naval force, such as would be easily within the present abilities of the union, would have been suficient to liave baffled many formidable transportations of troops, from one state to another, which were then pructised; cur sea coasts from their great extent are
more easily annoyed, and more easily defended by a naval force than any other. With all the materials our country abounds ; in skill, our naval architects and navigators are equal to any ; and commanders and seamen will not be wanting.
But although the establishment of a permanent sys. tem of naval defence appears to be requisite, I am sensible it cannot be formed so speedily, and extensively, as the present crisis demands; hitherto I have thought proper to prevent the sailing of armed vessels except on voyages to the East-Indies, where general usage and the danger from pirates appeared to rencler permission proper; yet the restriction has been originated, solely from a wish to prevent collusions with the powers at war, contravening the act of Congress of June, 1794, and not from any doubt entertained by me of the policy and propriety of per- · mitting our vessels to cmploy means of defence while engaged in a lawful foreign commerce. It remains for Congress to prescribe such regulations as will enable our sea-faring citizens to ciefend them. selves against violations of the law of nations, and at the same time restrain them from committing acts of hostility against the powers at war. In addition to this voluntary provision for defence by individual ci. tizens, it appears to me necessary, to equip the frigates and provide other vessels of inserior force to take under convoy such merchant vessels as shall remain unarmed.
The greater part of the cruizers, whose depredations have been most injurious, have been built, and some of them partially equipped in the United States, Although an effectual remedy may be attended with difficulty, yet I have thought it my duty to present the subject generally to your consideration. If a mode can be devised by the wisdom of Congress to prevent the resourses of the United States from being converted into the means of annoying our trade,
great evil will be prevented. With the same view I think it proper to mention, that some of our citizens resident abroad, have fitted out privateers, and others have voluntarily taken the command, or entered on board of them, and committed spoliations on the commerce of the United States; such unnatural and iniquitous practices can be restrained only by severe punishments.
But besides a protection of commerce on the seas, I think it highly necessary to protect it at home, where it is collected in our most important ports. The distance of the United States from Europe, and the well known promptitude, ardour, and courage of the people, in defence of their country, happily di. minish the probability of invasion: nevertheless to guard against sudden and predatory incursions, the situacion of some of our principal sea-ports demands your consideration ; and as our country is vulnerable, in other interests, besides those of its commerce, you will seriously deliberate, whether the means of gr. neral defence ought not to be increased by an addition to the regular artillery and cavalry, and by arrangements for forming a provisional army.
With the same view, and as a measure, which even in time of universal peace, ought not to be neglected, I recommend to your consideration a revision of the laws for organising, arming and disci. plining the militia, to render that natural and safe de. fence of the country efficacious.
Although it is very true that we ought not to involve ourselves in the political system of Europe, but to keep ourselves always distinct and separate from it, if we can ; yet to effect this separation, early, punctual and continual information of the cirrent chain of events and of the political prcjects in contemplation, is no less necessary than if we were directly cuncerned in them. It is necessary, in order to the discovery of the efforts made to draw us into
the vortex, in season to make preparations against them. However we may consider ourselves, the maritime and commercial powers of the world will consider the United States of America as forming a weight in that balance of power in Europe, which never can be forgotten or neglected. It would not only be against our interest, but it would be doing wrong to one half of Europe at least, if we should voluntarily throw ourselves into either scale. It is a natural policy for a nation that studies to be neutral, to consult with other nations engaged in the same studies and pursuits. At the same time that measures might be pursued with this view, our treaties with Prussia and Sweden, one of which is expired and the other near expiring, might be renewed. GENTLEMEN OF THE HOUSE OF
REPRESENTATIVES, It is particularly your province to consider the state of the public finances; and to adopt such mcasures respecting them as exigences shall be found to require. The preservation of public credit, the regular extinguishment of the public debt, and a provision of funds to defray any extraordinary experces, will of course call for your serious atten. tion. Although the imposition of new burthens can. not be, in itself, agreeable, yet there is no ground to doubt that the American people will expect from you such measures as their actual engagements, their present security, and future interests, demand. Genilemen of the Senate, and
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives, The present situation of our country imposes an obligation on all the departments of government, to adopt an explicit and decided conduct. In my situation, an exposition of the principles by which my administration will be governed, ought not to be omitted.
It is impossible to conceal from ourselves or the world, what has been before observed, that endeavours have been employed to foster and establish a division between the government and people of the United States. To investigate the causes which have encouraged the attempt, is not necessary. But to repel by decided and united councils, insinuations so derogatory to the honor, and aggressions so dan. gerous to the constitution, union, and even independence of the nation, is an indispensible duty. ..
It must not be permitted to be doubted, whether the people of the United States will support the government, established by their roluntary consent, and appointed by their free choice ; or whether, by, surrendering themselves to the direction of foreign and domestic factions, in opposition to their own government, they will forfeit the honorable station they have hitherto maintained.
For myself, having never been indifferent to what concerned the interests of my country ; devoted the best part of my life to obtain and support its independence ; and constantly witnessed the patriotism, fidelity and perseverance of my fellow citizens, on the most trying occasions, it is not for me to hesi. tate, or abandon a cause, in which my heart has been so long engaged.
Convinced that the conduct of the government has been just and impartial to foreign nations; and that those internal regulations which have been established by law for the preservation of peace, are, in their nature proper, and that they have been fairly executed: nothing will be done by me to impair the national engagements; to innovate upon principles, which have been so deliberately and uprightly established; or to surrender in any manner the rights of the government. To enable me to maintain this de. claration, I relv, with entire confidence, under God, on the firm and enlightened support of the Vatichal