Abbildungen der Seite

the subversion of government itself. The political forum is converted into an arena of battle, and the first moments of victory are sacred to spoil

, devastation, and rapine. The lust of gold stifles the cry of mercy, and all the rules of honorable warfare are violated in the fierceness and vindictiveness of triumph. Office holders should be content with fulfilling the duties of their respective stations, and not consider themselves in the light of mere partisans, rewarded for upholding a particular man or set of men. The people pay them for a different service. Mr. Adams regarded this subject in its true bearings, and he acted in it with the stern and fearless integrity which has marked the whole course of his political life. Regardless of consequences, he was perhaps often injudicious in the diffusion of executive patronage, and sometimes furnished the enemy with artillery to be employed in the destruction of his own citadel.

But however the efforts of the opposition might embarrass the movements of the administration, they could not retard the rapid progress of the country in wealth and prosperity. The great works of internal improvement, contemplated by the act of April, 1824, were prosecuted with great spirit and vigor. Many routes for roads and canals were surveyed, and a great mass of topographical knowledge was thus collected at Washington. The attention of the general government was also directed to many other subjects of internal improvement, such as the navigation of several important rivers, building lighthouses, piers, and removing obstructions from bays and harbors. The navigation of the Mississippi and Ohio was much improved during this year, by the removal of snags and other impediments from their channels. An impulse was thus given to the efforts of the State Governments, and canals and roads were laid out in various directions. Manufacturing establishments flourished with great vigor, and gave proofs of becoming lasting sources of wealth and employment to the national industry. In the year ending September 30, 1826, the palue of domestic manufactures exported amounted to five millions eight hundred and fifty-two thousand seven hundred and thirty-three dollars, of which one million one hundred and thirty-eight thousand one hundred and twenty-five dollars consisted of cotton piece goods. The increase of tonnage in the United States during 1826, was one hundred eleven thousand and seventy-nine tons, being double the increase of any one of the preceding twelve years. In conformity with the plan proposed for the settlement of the remaining tribes of the aborigines on the west of the Mississippi, provision was made for the removal thither of such Indians as were disposed to emigrate. Fourteen hundred Shawnees, and about seven hundred Creeks removed in this manner to spots selected by themselves. The Cherokees refused to cede another foot of land, notwithstanding the efforts made by the general government to procure such a cession of territory as would satisfy the claims of Georgia. The north-western Indians now gave hostile indications, and attacked and murdered some American citizens; but by the prompt measures adopted by Governor Cass, the murderers were given up and tranquillity again restored.

Congress having adjourned without passing any law for the purpose of meeting the restrictive measures of the British government in respect

[ocr errors]

to the colonial trade, the President issued a proclamation, dated March 17th, closing the ports of the United States against vessels from the British colonies, which had been opened by the act of 1822. By this measure the British restrictions were completely reciprocated, and the President was sustained in it by public opinion.

The second session of the nineteenth Congress commenced on the 4th of December, 1826, when the two Houses were organized in the usual manner. The message of the President on this occasion gave a clear account of our foreign relations, and made particular reference to the controversy with Great Britain on the colonial trade. The death of the Emperor Alexander of Russia, was mentioned in terms which the friendly feelings displayed by that monarch towards this country seemed to require. Our commercial connexions with France and the Netherlands were represented to be placed on a more favorable basis than at the commencement of the preceding Congress. In the postoffice there had been received during the year a surplus of eighty thousand dollars above the expenditures. The revenue was sufficiently large to authorize the application of seven millions sixty-seven thousand and thirty-nine dollars to the reduction of the public debt, and three millions vine hundred and forty-four thousand three hundred and fifty-nine dollars to the payment of interest. A system was recommended for the permanent increase of the navy; the unsettled land claims in Florida and Louisiana ; the works of internal improvement, reported by the board of engineers; and the attention of Congress was particularly called to the irregularities of the Brazilian and Buenos-Ayrean squadrops towards neutral flags. The estimates of appropriations for the different departments of the government were submitted with the message; and a system of cavalry tactics prepared during the summer under the direction of the War Department. These were the most important topics suggested by the message.

In this session an ineffectual effort was again made to introduce an uniform system of bankrupt laws; the bill reported for this purpose having been rejected. Shortly after the commencement of the session, an article appeared in a newspaper published at Alexandria, intimating that one Mix, who had been engaged in a certain contract with the War Department, while the Vice-President was Secretary of War, had accused him of participating in its profits. This contract had been the subject of much animadversion during the administration of Mr. Monroe, and the VicePresident immediately addressed a letter to the Secretary of the Senate, vacating his seat until the subject might be investigated.'" Charges have been made against me,” said Mr. Calhoun, “ of the most serious nature, and which, if true, ought to degrade me from the high station in which I have been placed by the choice of my fellow citizens, and to consigt my name to perpetual infamy. In claiming investigation of the House

, that

, under our free and happy institutions, the conduct of is a fair subject of the closest scrutiny and the freest it a firm and faithful discharge of duty affords, ordinarily

, 12 against political attacks; but when such attacks assume impeachable offences, and become in some degree official


by being placed among the public records, an officer thus assailed, however base the instruments used, is conscious of innocence, can look for refuge only to the hall of the immediate representatives of the people. It is thus I find myself unexpectedly placed.”

This communication was referred to a select committee, which reported, after a laborious examination, that no charge against the Vice-President had been placed among the records of the War Department, and perfectly exculpated him from having any participation in the profits of that or any other government contract.

The Creek controversy, which might have been considered as happily settled by the treaty of 22d of April, was still to continue a subject of excitement. Instead of waiting till the tribes had removed from their ceded lands, Governor Troup ordered the surveyors employed by him to enter the Indian territories and commence the surveys, previous to the time prescribed by the treaty for the removal. The Indians resisted these encroachments, and the Governor ordered out a force of militia. In this posture of affairs, the President determined to support the laws of the Union by the authority which the Constitution had placed in his hands, previously submitting the affair to Congress, to have it determined whether it were necessary to resort to any new measures. On the 5th of February he transmitted to both Houses of Congress a message, in which he gave a plain statement of the facts, and declared his determination to enforce the laws, and fulfil the duties of the nation by all the force committed for that purpose to his charge.

“That the arm of military force will be resorted to only in the event of the failure of all other expedients provided by the laws, a pledge has been given by the forbearance to employ it at this time. It is submitted to the wisdom of Congress to determine, whether any further acts of legislation may be necessary or expedient to meet the emergency which these transactions may produce.”

Great excitement was displayed in both Houses on the receipt of this message. The committee of the Representatives, to which it was referred, reported that it “ is expedient to procure a cession of the Indian lands in the State of Georgia, and that until such a cession is procured, the law of the land, as set forth in the treaty at Washington, ought to be maintained by all necessary, constitutional, and legal means." The firmness of the President brought the Governor of Georgia to reason, and he addressed a letter to the delegation of that State at Washington, submitting to the decision of Congress, and denying any intention of a resort to force, except the sovereignty of the State came into collision with the United States. A cession of the Creek land in Georgia was finally procured, and the dispute in respect to this portion of the Indian territory was put at rest.

A bill for an additional protection on woolens was agitated during this session, and finally laid on the table by the casting vote of the VicePresident. The defeat of this measure occasioned much discussion in all parts of the Union, and stimulated the friends of this branch of industry to renewed exertions. In Pennsylvania a State Convention was proposed, to choose delegates to attend a general Convention at Harrisburg on the 30th of July, 1827. Other States answered with alacrity to this invitation, and a meeting was held at the appointed time, of dele. gates in the highest degree respectable in point of talent, weight of character, and dignity of standing. The reports of their committees, on various subjects connected with domestic industry, exhibited the importance and the necessity of increased protection, and a memorial to Congress, drawn up in conformity with these views, was unanimously adopted. These proceedings were received in the southern States with much dissatisfaction. They were represented as at war with their best interests, and with the spirit of the Constitution. No means were omitted to raise a strong excitement in the community, in opposition to all increase of the woolen duty; but at the time of the twentieth Congress, the public mind was more and more impressed with the opinion that effectual measures would be resorted to for the relief of this branch of national industry.

We have not room for a detailed account of the various measures of Mr. Adams's administration. During the whole of it the United States enjoyed uninterrupted peace; for the foreign policy of the government had nothing in view but the maintenance of our national dignity, the extension of our commercial relations, and the successful prosecution of the claims of American citizens upon foreign governments.

A portion of these claims upon Sweden and Denmark, was obtained, and the claims which arose against the Brazilian government, during the war between that power and Buenos Ayres, were speedily adjusted by the liquidation of the claims. The exorbitant pretensions of Great Britain, respecting the West India trade, were resisted, although at the expense of the direct trade between the United States and the British islands.

The difficulties which occurred in carrying into effect the treaty of Ghent, relative to deported slaves, and other property taken away, having been found insurmountable, the sum of one million two hundred and four thousand nine hundred and sixty dollars, which was amply sufficient, was obtained from the British government in satisfaction of these claims. A convention was also concluded with that government, and a mode provided for the peaceable settlement of the long pending, and finally threatening dispute concerning the north-east boundary of the United States. The treaty of commerce between the United States and Great Britain, and the convention effecting a temporary compromise of their conflicting claims to the territory west of the Rocky Mountains, both of which expired by their own limitation, October 20th, 1828, were renewed for an indefinite period, with liberty to either party to terminate them, on giving one year's notice. Some commercial difficulties, which grew out of an adherence of the government of the Netherlands, to the principles of discriminating duties, were adjusted to mutual satisfaction.

New treaties of amity, navigation, and commerce, in which the liberal principles maintained by the United States, in her commercial and foreign policy, were generally recognized, were concluded with Colombia, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Guatemala, and the Hanseatic league.

It was, however, in the domestic policy of the government, that the character of the administration was most strongly displayed. During its continuance in office, new and increased activity was imparted to those powers vested in the Federal Government, for the developement of

the resources of the country; and the public revenue liberally expended in prosecuting those national measures, to which the sanction of Congress had been deliberately given, as the settled policy of the government.

More than one million of dollars had been expended in enlarging and maintaining the lighthouse establishment; half a million in completing the public buildings; two millions in erecting arsenals, barracks, and furnishing the national armories; nearly the same amount had been expended in permanent additions to the naval establishment; upwards of three millions had been devoted to fortifying the seacoast; and more than four millions expended in improving the internal communications between different parts of the country, and in procuring information, by scientific surveys, concerning its capacity for further improvement. Indeed, more had been directly effected by the aid of government, in this respect, during Mr. Adams's administration, than during the administrations of all his predecessors. Other sums, exceeding a million, had been appropriated for objects of a lasting character, and not belonging to the annual expense of the government; making, in the whole, nearly fourteen million dollars, expended for the permanent benefit of the country, during this administration.

At the same time, the interest on the public debt was punctually paid, and the debt itself was in a constant course of reduction, having been diminished thirty millions three hundred and seventy-three thousand one hundred and eighty-eight dollars during this administration, and leaving due, on the 1st of January, 1829, fifty-eight millions three hundred and sixty-two thousand one hundred and thirty-six dollars. Whilst these sums were devoted to increasing the resources, and improving the condition of the country, and in discharging its pecuniary obligations; those claims which were derived from what are termed the imperfect obligations of gratitude and humanity, were not forgotten.

More than five millions of dollars were appropriated to solace the declining years of the surviving officers of the revolution ; and a million and a half expended in extinguishing the Indian title, and defraying the expense of the removal, beyond the Mississippi, of such tribes as were unqualified for a residence near civilized communities ; and in promoting the civilization of those who, relying on the faith of the United States, preferred to remain on the lands which were the abodes of their fathers.

In the condition which we have described, in peace with all the world, with an increasing revenue, and with a surplus of five millions one hundred and twenty-five thousand six hundred and thirty-eight dollars in the public treasury, the administration of the government of the United States was surrendered by Mr. Adams, who became a private citizen, to General Jackson, his successor.

Thus ended the administration of Mr. Adams, an administration marked by definite and consistent policy, and energetic councils, governed by upright motives, but from the beginning devoted to the most violent opposition, and a signal overthrow. The election which terminated in the defeat of Ms. Adams was marked with extreme bitterness, asperity,

« ZurückWeiter »