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$163,706 06. To meet these payments, there is within the control of the department the sum of $28,040, leaving a deficit of $139,666 06. The public faith requires that immediate provision should be made for the payment of these sums. In order to introduce into the navy a desirable efficiency, a new system of accountability may be found to be indispensably necessary. To mature a plan having for its object the accomplishment of an end so important, and to meet the just expectations of the country, require more time than has yet been allowed to the secretary at the head of that department. The hope is indulged that, by the time of your next regular session, measures of importance, in connection with this branch of the public service, may be matured for your consideration. Although the laws regulating the post-office department only require from the officer charged with its direction to report at the usual annual session of Congress, the postmaster-general has presented me with some ficts connected with the financial condition of the department which are deemed worthy the attention of Congress. By the accompanying report of that officer, it appears that the existing liabilities of that department beyond the means of payment at its command cannot be less than $500,000. As the laws organizing that branch of the public service confine the expenditure to its own revenues, deficiencies therein cannot be presented under the usual estimates for the expenses of government. It must therefore be left to Congress to determine whether the moneys now due to contractors, shall be paid from the public treasury, or whether that department shall contintle under its present embarrassments. It will be seen by the report of the postmaster-general that the recent lettings of contracts in several of the states have been made at such reduced rates of compensation as to encourage the belief, that if the department was relieved from existing difficulties, its future operations might be conducted without any further call upon the general treasury. The power of appointing to office is one of a character the most delicate and responsible. The appointing power is evermore exposed to be led into error. With anxious solicitude to select the most trustworthy for official station, I cannot be supposed to possess a personal knowledge of the qualifications of every applicant. I deem it therefore proper, in this most public manner, to invite, on the part of the Senate, a just scrutiny into the character and pretensions of every person whom I may bring to their notice in the regular form of a nomination to office. Unless persons every way trustworthy are employed in the public service, corruption and irregularity will inevitably follow. I shall, with the greatest cheerfulness, acquiesce in the decision of that body, and, regarding it as wisely constituted to aid the executive department in the performance of this delicate duty, I shall look to its “consent and advice” as given only in furtherance of the best interests of the country. I shall also, at the earliest proper occasion, invite the attention of Congress to such measures as in my judgment 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 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 leave to invite your particular attention to the interests of this District. Nor do I doubt but 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 sub-treasury 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 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 the support 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 intrench liberty and property in full security; and, consulting the most rigid economy, to abolish all useless expenses.
JACKSON'S MAWSVILLE ROAD VETO.
To the House of Representatives :
GENTLEMEN: I have maturely considered the bill proposing to authorize “a subscription of stock in the Maysville, Washington, Paris, and Lexington Turnpike-Road Company,” and now return the same to the House of Representatives, in which it originated, with my objections to its passage.
Sincerely friendly to the improvement of our country by means of roads and canals, I regret that any difference of opinion in the mode of contributing to it should exist between us; and if, in stating this difference, I go beyond what the occasion may be deemed to call for, I hope to find an apology in the great importance of the subject, an unseigned respect for the high source from which this branch of it has emanated, and an anxious wish to be correctly understood by my constituents in the discharge of all my duties. Diversity of sentiment among public functionaries, actuated by the same general motives, on the character and tendency of particular measures, is an incident common to all governments, and the more to be expected in one which, like ours, owes its existence to the freedom of opinion, and must be upheld by the same influence. Controlled, as we thus are, by a higher tribunal, before which our respective acts will be canvassed with the indulgence due to the imperfections of our nature, and with that intelligence and unbiased judgment which are the true correctives of error, all that our responsibility demands is, that the public good should be the measure of our views, dictating alike their frank expression and honeSt maintenance. In the message which was presented to Congress at the opening of its present session, I endeavored to exhibit briefly my views upon the important and highly-interesting subject to which our attention is now to be directed. I was desirous of presenting to the representatives of the several states, in Congress assembled, the inquiry, whether some mode could not be devised, which would reconcile the diversity of opinion concerning the powers of this government over the subject of internal improvement, and the manner in which these powers, if conferred by the constitution, ought to be exercised. The act which I am called upon to consider has therefore been passed with a knowledge of my views on this question, as these are expressed in the message referred to. In that document, the following suggestions will be found:— “After the extinction of the public debt, it is not probable that any adjustment of the tariff, upon principles satisfactory to the people of the Union, will, until a remote period, if ever, leave the government without a considerable surplus in the treasury, beyond what may be required for its current service. As, then, the period approaches when the application of the revenue to the payment of debt will cease, the disposition of the surplus will present a subject for the serious deliberation of Congress; and it may be fortunate for the country that it is yet to be decided. Considered in connection with the difficulties which have heretofore attended appropriations for purposes of internal improvement, and with those which this experience tells us will certainly arise whenever power over such subjects may be exercised by the general government, it is hoped that it may lead to the adoption of some plan which will reconcile the diversified interests of the states, and strengthen the bonds which unite them. . Every member of the Union, in peace and in war, will be benefited by the improvement of inland navigation, and the construction of highways in the several states. Let us, then, endeavor to attain this benefit in a mode which will be satisfactory to all. That hitherto adopted has, by many of our fellow-citizens, been deprecated as an infraction of the constitution; while by others it has been viewed as inexpedient. All feel that it has been employed at the expense of harmony in the legislative councils.” And adverting to the constitutional power of Congress to Inake what I consider a proper disposition of the surplus revenue, I subjoined the following remarks: “To avoid these evils, it appears to me that the most safe, just, and federal disposition which could be made of the surplus revenue, would be its apportionment among the several states according to their ratio of representation; and should this measure not be found warranted by the constitution, that it would be expedient to propose to the states an amendment authorizing it.” The constitutional power of the federal government to construct or promote works of internal improvement, presents itself in two points of view, - the first, as bearing upon the sovereignty of the states within whose limits their execution is contemplated, if jurisdiction of the territory which they may occupy be claimed as necessary to their preservation and use; the second, as asserting the simple right to appropriate money from the national treasury in aid of such works, when undertaken by state authority, surrendering the claim of jurisdiction. In the