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this publication has been continued from the 25th day of March, 1851, yet up to the 1st of October last comparatively few releases had been filed by the creditors of Texas.
The authorities of the State of Texas, at the request of the Secretary of the Treasury, have furnished a schedule of the public debt of that State created prior to her admission into the Union, with a copy of the laws under which each class was contracted.
I have, from the documents furnished by the state of Texas, determined the classes of claims which in my judgment fall within the provisions of the act of Congress of the 9th of September, 1850.
On being officially informed of the acceptance by Texas of the propositions contained in the act referred to, I caused the stock to be prepared, and the five millions which are to be issued unconditionally, bearing an interest of five per cent. from the 1st day of January, 1851, have been for some time ready to be delivered to the state of Texas. The authorities of Texas, up to the present time, have not authorized any one to receive this stock, and it remains in the Treasury Department, subject to the order of Texas.
The releases, required by law to be deposited in the Treasury, not having been filed there, the remaining five millions have not been issued. This last amount of the stock will be withheld from Texas until the conditions upon which it is to be delivered shall be complied with by the creditors of that state, unless Congress shall otherwise direct by a modification of the law.
In my last annual message, to which I respectfully refer, I stated briefly the reasons which induced me to recommend a modification of the present taritf, by converting the ad valorem into a specific duty, wherever the ar-ticle imported was of such a character as to permit it, and that such a dis-crimination should be made, in favor of the industrial pursuits of our own country, as to encourage home production without excluding foreign competition.
The numerous frauds which continue to be practised upon the revenue by false invoices and under-valuations, constitute an unanswerable reason for adopting specific instead of ad valorem duties in all cases where the nature of the commodity does not forbid it. A striking illustration of these frauds will be exhibited in the report of the Secretary of the Treasury, showing the custom-house valuation of articles imported under a former law subject to specific duties, when there was no inducement to under-valuation, and the custom-house valuations of the same articles under the present system of ad valorem duties, so greatly reduced as to leave no doubt of the existence of the most flagrant abuses under the existing laws. This practical evasion of the present law, combined with the languishing condition of some of the great interests of the country caused by over-importations and consequent depressed prices, and with the failure in obtaining a foreign market for our increasing surplus of breadstuffs and provisions, has induced me again to recommend a modification of the existing tariff.
The report of the Secretary of the Interior, which accompanies this communication, will present a condensed statement of the operations of that important department of the Government.
It will be seen that the cash sales of the public lands exceed those of the preceding year, and that there is reason to anticipate a still further increase, notwithstanding the large donations which have been made to many of the
States, and the liberal grants to individuals as a reward for military services. This fact furnishes very gratifying evidence of the growing wealth and prosperity of our country.
Suitable measures have been adopted for commencing the survey of the public lands in California and Oregon. Surveying parties have been organised, and some progress has been made in establishing the principal base and meridian lines. But further legislation and additional appropriations will be necessary before the proper subdivisions can be made, and the general land system extended over those remote parts of our territory.
On the 3d of March last, an act was passed providing for the appointment of three commissioners to settle private land claims in California. Three persons were immediately appointed, all of whom, however, declined accepting the office, in consequence of the inadequacy of the compensation. Others were promptly selected, who, for the same reason, also declined ; and it was not until late in the season that the services of suitable persons could be secured. A majority of the commissioners convened in this city on the 10th September last, when detailed instructions were given to them in regard to their duties. Their first meeting for the transaction of business will be held in San Francisco on the eighth day of the present month.
I have thought proper to refer to these facts, not only to explain the causes of the delay in filling the commission, but to call your attention to the propriety of increasing the compensation of the commissioners. The office is one of great labor and responsibility, and the compensation should be such as to command men of a high order of talents and the most unquestionable integrity. The
proper disposal of the mineral lands of California is a subject surrounded by great difficulties. In my last annual message, I recommended the survey and sale of them in small parcels, under such restrictions as would effectually guard against monopoly and speculation. But upon further information, and in deference to the opinions of persons familiar with the subject, I am inclined to change that recommendation, and to advise that they be permitted to remain, as at present, a common field, open to the enterprise and industry of all our citizens, until further experience shall have developed the best policy to be ultimately adopted in regard to them. It is safer to suffer the inconvenience that now exists, for a short period, than, by premature legislation, to fasten on the country a system founded in error, which may place the whole subject beyond the future control of Congress.
The agricultural lands should, however, be surveyed, and brought into market with as little delay as possible, that the titles may become settled, and the inhabitants stimulated to make permanent improvements, and enter on the ordinary pursuits of life. To effect these objects, it is desirable that the necessary provision be made by law for the establishment of land offices in California and Oregon, and for the efficient prosecution of the surveys at an early day.
Some difficulties have occurred in organizing the territorial governments of New Mexico and Utah; and, when more accurate information shall be obtained of the causes, a further communication will be made on that subject.
In my last annual communication to Congress, I recommended the establishment of an Agricultural Bureau, and I take this occasion again to invoke your favorable consideration of the subject.
Agriculture may justly be regarded as the great interest of our people. Four-fifths of our active population are employed in the cultivation of the soil, and the rapid expansion of our settlements over new territory is daily adding to the number of those engaged in that vocation. Justice and sound policy, therefore, alike require that the Government should use all the means authorized by the Constitution to promote the interests and welfare of that important class of our fellow-citizens. And yet it is a singular fact that, whilst the manufacturing and commercial interests have engaged the attention of Congress during a large portion of every session, and our statutes abound in provisions for their protection and encouragement, little has yet been done directly for the advancement of agriculture. It is time that this reproach to our legislation should be removed, and I sincerely hope that the present Congress will not close their labors without adopting efficient means to supply the omissions of those who have preceded them.
An Agricultural Bureau, charged with the duty of collecting and disseminating correct inforınation as to the best modes of cultivation, and of the most effectual means of preserving and restoring the fertility of the soil, and of procuring and distributing seeds and plants, and other vegetable productions, with instructions in regard to the soil, climate, and treatment best adapted to their growth, could not fail to be, in the language of WASHINGton, in his last annual message to Congress, a “very cheap instrument of immense national benefit." · Regarding the act of Congress, approved 28th September, 1850, granting bounty lands to persons who had been engaged in the military service of the country, as a great measure of national justice and munificence, an anxious desire has been felt, by the officers entrusted with its immediate execution, to give prompt effect to its provisions. All the means within their control were, therefore, brought into requisition to expedite the adjudication of claims; and I am gratified to be able to state, that near one hundred thousand applications have been considered, and about seventy thousand warrants issued, within the short space of nine months. If adequate provision be made by law to carry into effect the recommendations of the Department, it is confidently expected that, before the close of the next fiscal year, all who are entitled to the benefits of the act will have received their warrants.
The Secretary of the Interior has suggested in his report various amendments of the laws relating to pensions and bounty lands, for the purpose of more effectually guarding against abuses and frauds on the Government: to all of which I invite your particular attention.
The large accessions to our Indian population consequent upon the acquisition of New Mexico and California, and the extension of our settlements into Utah and Oregon, have given increased interest and importance to our relations with the aboriginal race.
No material change has taken place within the last year in the condition and prospects of the Indian tribes who reside in the North-western Territory and west of the Mississippi river. We are at peace with all of them; and it will be a source of pleasure to you to learn that they are gradually advancing in civilization and the pursuits of social life.
Along the Mexican frontier, and in California and Oregon, there have been occasional manifestations of unfriendly feeling, and some d'epredations committed. I am satisfied, however, that they resulted more from the destitute and starving condition of the Indians than from any settled hos.. tility toward the whites. As the settlements of our citizens progress towards them, the game upon which they mainly rely for subsistence is driven off or destroyed, and the only alternative left to them is starvation or plunder. It becomes us to consider, in view of this condition of things, whether justice and humanity, as well as an enlightened economy, do not require that, instead of seeking to punish them for offences which are the result of our own policy towards them, we should not provide for their immediate wants, and encourage thein to engage in agriculture, and to rely on their labor, instead of the chase, for the means of support.
Various important treaties have been negotiated with different tribes during the year, by which their title to large and valuable tracts of country has been extinguished: all of which will, at the proper time, be submitted to the Senate for ratification.
The joint commission under the treaty of Gaudalupe Hidalga has been actively engaged in running and marking the boundary line between the United States and Mexico. It was stated in the last annual report of the Secretary of the Interior that the initial point on the Pacific and the point of junction of the Gila with the Colorado river had been determined, and the intervening line, about one hundred and fifty miles in length, run and marked by temporary monuments. Since that time a monument of marble has been erected at the initial point, and permanent landmarks of iron have been placed at suitable distances along the line.
The initial point on the Rio Grande has also been fixed by the commissioners at latitude 32° 22', and, at the date of the last communication, the survey of the line had been made thence westward about one hundred and fifty miles, to the neighborhood of the copper mines.
The commission on our part was at first organized on a scale which experience proved to be unwieldy and attended with unnecessary expense Orders have, therefore, been issued for the reduction of the number of persons employed within the smallest limits consistent with the safety of those engaged in the service and the prompt and efficient execution of their important duties.
Returns have been received from all the officers engaged in taking the census in the States and Territories, except California. The superintendent employed to make the enumeration in that State, has not yet made his full report, from causes, as he alleges, beyond his control. This failure is much to be regretted, as it has prevented the Secretary of the Interior from making the decennial apportionment of representatives among the States, as required by the act approved May 23, 1850. It is hoped, however, that the returns will soon be received, and no time will then be lost in making the necessary apportionment, and in transmitting the certificates required
The Superintendent of the Seventh Census is diligently employed, under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior, in classifying and arranging, in tabular form, all the statistical information derived from the returns of the marshals, and it is believed that when the work shall be completed, it will exhibit a more perfect view of the population, wealth, occupations, ani social condition of a great country, than has ever been presented to the world. The value of such a work, as the basis of enlightened legislation, can hardly be over-estimated; and I earnestly hope that Congress will lose no time in making the appropriations necessary to complete the classifications, and to publish the results in a style worthy of the subject, and of our national character.
The want of a uniform fee-bill, prescribing the compensation to be allowed district attorneys, clerks, marshals, and commissioners in civil and criminal cases, is the cause of much vexation, injustice and complaint. I would recommend a thorough revision of the laws on the whole subject, and the adoption of a tariff of fees which, as far as practicable, should be uniforio, and prescribe a specific compensation for every service which the officer may be required to perform. This subject will be fully presented in the report of the Secretary of the Interior.
In my last annual message I gave briefly my reasons for believing that you possessed the constitutional power to improve the harbors of our great Takes and seacoast, and the navigation of our principal rivers, and recommended that appropriations should be made for completing such works as had already been commenced, and for commencing such others as might seem to the wisdom of Congress to be of public and general importance. Without repeating the reasons then urged, I deem it my duty again to call your attention to this important subject. The works on many of our harbors were left in an unfinished state, and, consequently, exposed to the action of the elements, which is fast destroying them. Great numbers of lives and vast amounts of property are annually lost for want of safe and convenient harbors on the lakes. None but those who have been exposed to that dangerous navigation can fully appreciate the importance of this subject.
The whole North-west appeals to you for relief, and I trust their appeal will receive due consideration at your hands.
The same is in a measure true in regard to some of the harbors and inlets on the sea coast.
The unobstructed navigation of our large rivers is of equal importance. Our settlements are now extending to the sources of the great rivers which empty into and form a part of the Mississippi, and the value of the public lands in those regions would be greatly enhanced by freeing the navigation of those waters from obstructions. In view, therefore, of this great interest, I deem it my duty again to urge upon Congress to make such appropriations for these improvements as they may deem necessary.
The surveys of the delta of the Mississippi, with a view to the prevention of the overflows that have proved so disastrous to that region of country, have been nearly completed, and the reports thereof are now in course of preparation, and will shortly be laid before you.
The protection of our south-western frontier, and of the adjacent Mexican States, against the Indian tribes within our border, has claimed my earnest and constant attention. Congress having failed, at the last session, to adopt my recommendation that an additional regiment of mounted men specially adapted to that service should be raised, all that remained to be done was to make the best use of the means at my disposal. Accordingly, all the troops adapted to that service that could properly be spared from other quarters have been concentrated on that frontier, and officers of high reputation selected to command them. A new arrangement of the military posts has also been made, whereby the troops are brought nearer to the Mexican frontier and to the tribes they are intended to overawe.
Sufficient time has not yet elapsed to realize all the benefits that are expected to result from these arrangements, but I have every reason to hope