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hold it mand whether may be adoption. as incro
tional defence, which a benevolent Providence has kindly placed within their power.
It may be confidently asserted, that nothing has occurred which renders inexpedient those precautionary measures recommended by me to the consideration of the two Houses, at the opening of your late extraordinary session. If that system was then prudent, it is more so now, as increasing depredations strengthen the reasons for its adoption.
Indeed, whatever may be the issue of the negotiation with France, and whether the war in Europe is or is not to continue, L hold it most certain that permanent tranquillity and order will not soon be obtained. The state of society has so long been difturbed, the sense of moral and religious obligations so much weakened, public faith and national honour have been so impaired, respect to treaties has been so diminished, and the law of nations has lost so much of its force; while pride, ambition, avarice, and violence, have been so much unrestrained, there remains no reasonable ground on which to raise an expectation, that a commerce, without protection or defence, will not be plundered.
The commerce of the United States is essential, if not to their existence, at least to their comfort: their growth, prosperity, and happiness, the genius, character, and habits of the people, are highly commercial ; their cities have been formed and exist upon commerce; our agriculture, fisheries, arts, and manufactures, are connected with and dependant upon it. In short, commerce has made this country what it is, and it cannot be destroyed or neglected, without involving the people in poverty and distress. Great numbers are directly and solely supported by navigation. The faith of society is pledged for the preservation of the rights of commercial and sea-faring, no less than for those of the other citizens. Under this view of our affairs, I thould hold myself guilty of a neglect of duty, if I forbore to recommend that we should make every exertion to protect our commerce, and to place our country in a suitable posture of defence, . as the only sure means of preserving both.
I have entertained an expectation that it would have been in my power, at the opening of this session, to have communicated to you the agreeable information of the due execution of our treaty with his Catholic Majesty, respecting the withdrawing of his troops from our territory, and the demarkation of the line of limits. But by the latest authentic intelligence, Spanish garria! sons were still continued within our country, and the running of the boundary limited not been commenced. These circumstances are the more to be regretted, as they cannot fail to affect the Indians in a manner injurious to the United States. Still, how. ever, indulging the hope, that the answers which have been
given will remove the objections offered by the Spanish officers to the inmediate execution of the treaty, I have judged it proper that we should continue in readiness to receive the posts, and to run the line of limits.
Further information on this subject will be communicated in the course of the session.
lo connexion with the unpleasant state of things on our western frontier, it is proper for me to mention the attempts of foreign agents to alienate the affections of the Indian nations, and to excite them to actual hostilities against the United States. Great activity has been exerted by those persons, who have infinuated themselves among the Indian tribes residing within the territory of the United States, to influence them to transfer their affections and force to a foreign nation; to form them into a confederacy, and to prepare them for war against the United States. . Although measures have been taken to counteract these infractions of our rights, to prevent Indian hostilities, and to preserve entire their attachinent to the United States, it is my duty to observe, that to give better effect to these measures, and to obviate the consequences of a repetition of such pradices, a law providing adequate punishment for such offences may be necessary.
The commissioners appointed under the fifth article of the Treaty of Amnity, Commerce, and Navigation, between the United States and Great Britain, to ascertain the river which was truly intended under the name of the River St. Croix, mentioned in the treaty of peace, met at Palzamaquody Bay in October '1796, and viewed the niouths of the rivers in question, and the adjacent hores apd islands; and, being of opinion that actual surveys of both rivers to their sources were necessary, gave to the agents of the two nations jostructions for that purpose, and adjourned to meet at Boston in August. They inet; but the surveyors requiring more ţime than had been supposed, and not being then completed, the commissioners again adjourned, to mcet at Providence in the state of Rhode Island in June pext, when we may expect a final examination and decision.
The cominissioners appointed in pursuance of the sixth article of the treaty, met at Philadelphia in May last, to examine the claims of British subjects for debts contracted before the peace, and still remaining due to them from citizens or inhabitants of the United States. Various causes have hitherto prevented any determination ; but the business is now resuined, and doubtless will be prosecuted without interruption. .
Several decisions on the claims of citizens of the United States for losses and damages sustained by reason of irregular and illegal captures, or condemnations of their vessels or other
property, property, have been made by the commissioners in London, conformably to the seventh article of the treaty. The fums awarded by the cominissioners have been paid by the British government. A considerable number of other claims, where costs and damages, and not captured property, were the only objects in question, have been decided by arbitration, and the sums awarded to the citizens of the United States have also been paid.
The commillioners appointed agreeably to the 21st article of our treaty with Spain met at Philadelphia, in the summer past, to examine and decide on the claims of our citizens for losses they have sustained, in confequence of their vessels and cargoes having 'been taken by the subjects of his Catholic Majesty, during the late war between Spain and France. Their letters have been intercepted, but now are returned.
The United States being obligated to make compensation for the latter, and damages sustained by British subjects, upon the award of the commillioners acting under the fixth article of the treaty with Great Britain, and for the losses sustained and damages incurred by Britith subjects, by reason of the capture of their vessels and merchandise, taken within the limits and jurisdiâion of the United States, and brought into their ports, or taken by vessels originally armed in ports of the United States, upon the awards of the commissioners acting under the seventh article of the same treaty; it is necessary that provision be made for fulfilling these obligations.
The numerous captures of American vessels by the cruisers of the French republic, and of some by those of Spain, have occafioned confiderable expenses in making and supporting the claims of our citizens betore their tribunals. The fums required for the purpose have, in divers instances, been disbursed by the consuls of the United States. By means of the same captures, great nombers of our seamen have been ashore in foreign countries, destitute of all means of sublistence; and the sick, in particular, have been exposed to grievous sufferings. The confuls have, in these cases, also advanced monies for their relief. Tor these advances they reasonably expect reimburlements from the United States. · The consular act relative to seamen requires revision and amendinent : the provilions for their support in foreign countries, and for their return, are found to be inadequate and ineffectual. Another provision seems neceísary to be added to the consular act : some foreign vessels have been discovered sailing under the flag of the United States, and with foreign papers. It feldom happens that the confuls can detect this deception, because ther have no authority to demand an inspection of the register and lea-letters. •
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives, It is my duty to recommend to your serious consideration thote objects which, by the constitution, are placed particularly within your sphere--the national debt and taxes.
Since the decay of the feudal system, by which the public defence was, provided for, chiefly at the expense of individuals,, the system of loans has been introduced ; and as no nation can saise within the year, by taxes, sufficient sums for its defence, and military operation in tiine of war, the fum loaned and debt contracted have necessarily become the subject of what have been called the funding systems.
The consequences arising from the continual accumulation of public debts in other countries, ought to admonish us to be careful to prevent their growth in our own. The national defence must be provided for, as well as the support of government; but both should be accomplished as much as possible by immediate taxes, and as little as pollible by loans.
The estimates for the service of the ensuing year will, by my direction, be laid before you. Gentlemen of the Senate, and Gentlemen of
the House of Representatives, We are met together at a most interesting period. The situation of the principal powers of Europe is singular and portentous. Connected with some by treaties, and with all by commerce, no important event there can be indifferent to us. Such circumstances call, with a peculiar importunity, not less for a disposition to unite in all those measures on which the honour, safety, and prosperity of our country depend, than for all the exertions of wisdom and formuess. · In all such measures you may rely on my zealous and hearty concurrence.
Message from the President of the United States to the House of
Representatives, on the 19th March. Gentlemen of the Senate, and Gentlemen of the
House of Representatives, THE dispatches from the envoys extraordinary of the United
1 States to the French republic, which were mentioned in my message to both Houses of Congress, have been examined and maturely considered.
While I feel a satisfaction in informing you, that their exertions for the adjustment of the differences between the two na
Lions have been sincere and unremitted, it is incumbent on me to declare, that I perceive no ground of expediation that the objects of their mission can be accomplished on terms compatible with the safety, honour, or the effential interests of the nation.
The result cannot, with justice, be attributed to any want of moderation on the part of this government, or to any indifposition to forego secondary interests for the preservation of peace, Knowing it to be my duty, and believing it to be your wish, as well as that of the great body of the people, to avoid, by all reasonable concessions, any participation in the contentions of Europe, the powers vested in our envoys were commensurate with a liberal and pacific policy, and that high confidence which might justly be reposed in the abilities, patriotism, and integrity of the characters to whom the negotiation was committed. After a careful review of the whole subject, with the aid of all the information I have received, I can discern nothing which could have insured or contributed to success, that has been omitted on my part, and nothing further which can be attempted, consistently with maxims for which our country has contended, at every hazard, and which constitute the basis of our national sovereignty.
Under these circumstances, I cannot forbear to reiterate the recommendations which have been formerly made, and to exhort you to adopt with promptitude, decision, and unanimity, fuch. measures as the ample resources of the country afford, for the protection of our sea-faring and commercial citizens; for the defence of any exposed portions of our territory ; for replenishing our arsenals, establishing founderies and military inanufactures ; and to provide such efficient revenue as will be necessary to defray extraordinary expenses, and supply the deficiencies which may be occasioned by depredations on our coinmerce.
The present state of things is so essentially different from that in which instructions were given to collectors to restrain vessels of the United States from sailing in an arıned condition, that the principle on which those orders were issued, has ceased to exist. I therefore deem it proper to inform Congress, that I no longer conceive myself jutifiable in continuing them, unless in particular cases, where there may be reafonable ground of suspic cion that such vessels are intended to be employed contrary to law.
In all your proceedings it will be important to manifest a zeal, vigour, and concert, in defence of the national rights, proportioned to the danger with which they are threatened.
John ADAMS. United States, 19th March 1798.
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