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by some suitable provision on the subject, I respectfully invite your attention to it. The charter of the Bank of the United States expires in 1836, and its stockholders will most probably apply for a renewal of their privileges. In order to avoid the evils resulting from precipitancy in a measure involving such important principles, and such deep pecuniary interests, I feel that I cannot, in justice to the parties interested, too soon present it to the deliberate consideration of the legislature and the people. Both the constitutionality and the expediency of the law creating this bank are well questioned by a large portion of our fellow-citizens; and it must be admitted by all, that it has failed in the great end of establishing a uniform and sound currency. Under these circumstances, if such an institution is deemed essential to the fiscal operations of the government, I submit to the wisdom of the legislature whether a national one, founded upon the credit of the government and its revenues, might not be devised, which would avoid all constitutional difficulties, and, at the same time, secure all the advantages to the government and country that were expected to result from the present bank. I cannot close this communication without bringing to your view the just claim of the representatives of Commodore Decatur, his officers and crew, arising from the recapture of the frigate Philadelphia, under the heavy batteries of Tripoli. Although sensible, as a general rule, of the impropriety of executive interference under a gov. ernment like ours, where every individual enjoys the right of directly petitioning Congress, yet, viewing this case as one of very peculiar character, I deem it my duty to recommend it to your favorable consideration. Besides the justice of this claim, as corresponding to those which have been since recognized and satisfied, it is the fruit of a deed of patriotic and chivalrous daring, which infused life and confidence into our infant navy, and contributed, as much as any exploit in its history, to elevate our national character. Public gratitude, therefore, stamps her seal upon it; and the meed should not be withheld which may hereafter operate as a stimulus to our gallant tars.
I now commend you, fellow-citizens, to the guidance of Almighty God, with a full reliance on his merciful Providence for the maintenance of our free institutions; and with an earnest supplication, that whatever errors it may be my lot to commit, in discharging the arduous duties which have devolved on me, will find a remedy in the harmony and wisdom of your counsels.
Fellow-Citizens: BEING about to retire finally from public life, I beg leave to offer you my grateful thanks for the many proofs of kindness and confidence which I have received at your hands. It has been my fortune, in the discharge of public duties, civil and military, frequently to have found myself in difficult and trying situations, where prompt decision and energetic action were necessary, and where the interests of the country required that high responsibilities should be fearlessly encountered; and it is with the deepest emotions of gratitude that I acknowledge the continued and unbroken confidence with which you have sustained me in every trial. My public life has been a long one, and I cannot hope that it has at all times been free from errors. But I have the consolation of knowing that, if mistakes have been committed, they have not seriously injured the country I so anxiously endeavored to serve; and at the moment when I surrender my last public trust, I leave this great people prosperous and happy; in the full enjoyment of liberty and peace, and honored and respected by every nation of the world. If my humble efforts have, in any degree, contributed to preserve to you these blessings, I have been more than rewarded by the honor you have heaped upon me; and, above all, by the generous confidence with which you have supported me in every peril, and with which you have continued to animate and cheer my path to the closing hour of my political life. The time has now come, when
advanced age and a broken frame warn me to retire from public concerns; but the recollection of the many favors you have bestowed upon me is engraven upon my heart, and I have felt that I could not part from your service without making this public acknowledgment of the gratitude I owe you. And if I use the occasion to offer to you the counsels of age and experience, you will, I trust, receive them with the same indulgent kindness which you have so often extended to me; and will, at least, see in them an earnest desire to perpetuate, in this favored land, the blessings of liberty and equal laws. We have now lived almost fifty years under the constitution framed by the sages and patriots of the revolution. The conflicts in which the nations of Europe were engaged during a great part of this period, the spirit in which they waged war with each other, and our intimate commercial connections with every part of the civilized world, rendered it a time of much difficulty for the government of the United States. We have had our seasons of peace and of war, with all the evils which precede or follow a state of hostility with powerful nations. We encountered these trials with our constitution yet in its infancy, and under the disadvantages which a new and untried government must always feel when it is called to put forth its whole strength, without the lights of experience to guide it, or the weight of precedent to justify its measures. But we have passed triumphantly through all these difficulties. Our constitution is no longer a doubt. ful experiment; and at the end of nearly half a century, we find that it has preserved unimpaired the liberties of the people, secured the rights of property, and that our country has improved, and is flourishing beyond any former example in the history of nations. In our domestic concerns, there is every thing to encourage us; and if you are true to yourselves, nothing can impede your march to the highest point of national prosperity. The states which had so long been retarded in their improvement, by the Indian tribes residing in the midst of them, are at length relieved from the evil; and this unhappy race — the original dwellers in our land— are now placed in a situation where we may well hope
that they will share in the blessings of civilization, and be saved from that degradation and destruction to which they were rapidly hastening while they remained in the states; and while the safety and comfort of our own citizens have been greatly promoted by their removal, the philanthropist will rejoice that the remnant of that ill-fated race has been at length placed beyond the reach of injury or oppression, and that the paternal care of the general government will hereafter watch over them and protect them.
If we turn to our relations with foreign powers, we find our condition equally gratifying. Actuated by the sincere desire to do justice to every nation, and to preserve the blessing of peace, our intercourse with them has been conducted, on the part of this government, in the spirit of frankness, and I take pleasure in saying that it has generally been met in a corresponding temper. Difficulties of old standing have been surmounted by friendly discussion and the mutual desire to be just; and the claims of our citizens, which had been long withheld, have at length been acknowledged and adjusted, and satisfactory arrangements made for their final payment; and with a limited, and, I trust, a temporary exception, our relations with every foreign power are now of the most friendly character, our commerce continually expanding, and our flag respected in every quarter of the world.
These cheering and grateful prospects, and these multiplied favors, we owe, under Providence, to the adoption of the federal constitution. It is no longer a question whether this great country can remain happily united, and flourish under our present form of government. Experience, the unerring test of all human undertakings, has shown the wisdom and foresight of those who framed it, and has proved, that in the union of these states there is a sure foundation for the brightest hopes of freedom, and for the happiness of the people. . At every hazard, and by every sacrifice, this union must be preserved.
The necessity of watching with jealous anxiety for the preservation of the union, was earnestly pressed upon his fellow-citizens by the father of his country, in his farewell address. He has there told us, that " while experience shall not have demonstrated its impracticability, there will
always be reason to distrust the patriotism of those who, in any quarter, may endeavor to weaken its bonds;” and he has cautioned us in the strongest terms against the formation of parties, on geographical discriminations, as one of the means which might disturb our union, and to which designing men would be likely to resort. The lessons contained in this invaluable legacy of washington to his countrymen, should be cherished in the heart of every citizen to the latest generation; and, perhaps, at no period of time could they be more usefully remembered than at the present moment. For when we look upon the scenes that are passing around us, and dwell upon the pages of his parting address, his paternal counsels would seem to be not merely the offspring of wisdom and foresight, but the voice of prophecy foretelling events, and warning us of the evil to come. Forty years have passed since that imperishable document was given to his countrymen. The federal constitution was then regarded by him as an experiment, and he so speaks of it in his address; but an experiment upon the success of which the best hopes of his country depended, and we all know that he was prepared to lay down his life, if necessary, to secure to it a full and fair trial. The trial has been made. It has succeeded beyond the proudest hopes of those who framed it. Every quarter of this widely-extended nation has felt its blessings, and shared in the general prosperity produced by its adoption. But amid this general prosperity and splendid success, the dangers of which he warned us are becoming every day more evident, and the signs of evil are sufficiently apparent to awaken the deepest anxiety in the bosom of the patriot. We behold systematic efforts publicly made to sow the seeds of discord between different parts of the United States, and to place party divisions directly upon geographical distinctions; to excite the south against the north, and the north against the south, and to force into the controversy the most delicate and exciting topics, upon which it is impossible that a large portion of the Union can ever speak without strong emotions. Appeals, too, are constantly made to sectional interests, in order to influence the election of the chief magistrate, as if it were desired that he should favor a particular quarter of the