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market abroad, are directly dependent on the safety and freedom of our commerce. The occupation of the Balize below New Orleans by a hostile force would embarrass, if not stagnate, the whole export trade of the Mississippi, and affect the value of the agricultural products of the entire valley of that mighty river and its tributaries.
It has never been our policy to maintain large standing armies in time of peace. They are contrary to the genius of our free insti. tutions, would impose heavy burdens on the people, and be dangerous to public liberty. Our reliance for protection and defence on the land must be mainly on our citizen soldiers, who will be ever ready, as they ever have been ready in times past, to rush with alacrity, at the call of their country, to her defence. This description of force, however, cannot defend our coast, harbours, and inland seas, nor protect our commerce on the ocean or the lakes. These must be protected by our navy.
Considering an increased naval force, and especially of steamTessels corresponding with our growth and importance as a nation, and proportioned to the increased and increasing naval power of other nations, of vast importance as regards our safety, and the great and growing interests to be protected by it, I recommend the subject to the favourable consideration of Congress.
The report of the Postmaster-General herewith communicated contains a detailed statement of the operations of his department during the past year. It will be seen that the income from postages will fall short of the expenditures for the year between 1,000,000 and 2,000,000 of dollars. This deficiency has been caused by the reduction of the rates of postage, which was made by the Act of the 3rd of March last. No principle has been more generally acquiesced in by the people than that this department should sustain itself by limiting its expenditures to its income. Congress has never sought to make it a source of revenue for general purposes, except for a short period during the last war with Great Britain, nor should it ever become a charge on the general Treasury. If Congress shall adhere to this principle, as I think they ought, it will be necessary either to curtail the present mail service, so as to reduce the expenditures, or so to modify the Act of the 3rd of March last as to improve its revenues. The extension of the mail service, and the additional facilities which will be demanded by the rapid extension and increase of population on our western frontier, will not admit of such curtailment as will materially reduce the present expenditures. In the adjustment of the tariff of postages, the interests of the people demand that the lowest rates be adopted which will produce the necessary revenue to meet the expenditures of the department. I invite the attention of Congress to the suggestions of the Postmaster-General on this subject, under the belief that such a modification of the late law may be made as will yield sufficient revenue without further calls on the Treasury, and with very little change in the present rates of postage.
Proper measures hare been taken, in pursuance of the Act of the 3rd of March last, for the establishment of lines of mail steamers between this and foreign countries. The importance of this service commends itself strongly to favourable consideration.
With the growth of our country, the public business which de. volves on the heads of the several Executive Departments has greatly increased. In some respects, the distribution of duties
them seems to be incongruous, and many of these might be transferred from one to another with advantage to the public interests. A more auspicious time for the consideration of this subject by Congress, with a view to system in the organization of the several departments, and a more appropriate division of the public business, will not probably
The most important duties of the State Department relate to our foreign affairs. By the great enlargement of the family of nations, the increase of our commerce, and the corresponding extension of our consular system, the business of this department has been greatly increased. In its present organization, many duties of a domestic nature, and consisting of details, are devolved on the Secretary of State, which do pot appropriately belong to the foreign department of the Government, and may properly be transferred to some other department. One of these grows out of the present state of the law concerning the Patent Office, which, a few years since, was a subordinate clerkship, but has become a distinct bureau of great importance. With an excellent internal organization, it is still connected with the State Department. In the transaction of its business, questions of much importance to inventors, and to the community, frequently arise, which, by existing laws, are referred for decision to a board, of which the Secretary of State is a member. These questions are legal, and the connection which now exists between the State Department and the Patent Office, may, with great propriety and advantage, be transferred to the Attorney-General.
In his last annual message to Congress, Mr. Madison invited attention to a proper provision for the Attorney-General “as an important improvement in the executive establishment." This recommendation was repeated by some of his successors. The official duties of the Attorney-General have been much increased within a few years, and his office has become one of great importance. His duties may be still further increased with advantage to the public interests. As an executive officer, his residence and constant attention at the seat of Government are required. Legal questions, involving important principles, and large amounts of public money, are constantly referred to him by the President and Executive Departments for his examination and decision. The public business under his official management before the judiciary has been so augmented by the extension of our territory, and the acts of Congress authorizing suits against The United States for large bodies of valuable public lands, as greatly to increase his labours and responsibilities. I therefore recommend that the Attorney-General be placed on the same footing with the heads of the other Executive Departments, with such subordinate officers, provided by law for his department, as may be required to discharge the additional duties which have been or may be devolved upon him.
Congress possess the power of exclusive legislation over the district of Columbia, and I commend the interests of its inhabitants to your favourable consideration. The people of this district have no legislative body of their own, and must confide their local as well as their general interests to representatives in whose election they have no voice, and over whose official conduct they have no control. Each member of the National Legislature should consider himself as their immediate representative, and should be the more ready to give attention to their interests and wants, because he is not responsible to them. I recommend that a liberal and generous spirit may characterize your measures in relation to them. I shall be ever disposed to show a proper regard for their wishes, and, within constitutional limits, shall at all times cheerfully co-operate with you for the advancement of their welfare.
I trust it may not be deemed inappropriate to the occasion for me to dwell for a moment on the memory of the most eminent citizen of our country, who, during the summer that is gone by, has descended to the tomb. The enjoyment of contemplating, at the advanced age of near fourscore years, the happy condition of his country, cheered the last hours of Andrew Jackson, who departed this life in the tranquil hope of a blessed immortality. His death was happy, as his life had been eminently useful. He had an unfaltering confidence in the virtue and capacity of the people, and in the permanence of that free Government which he had largely contributed to establish and defend. His great deeds had secured to him the affections of his fellow citizens, and it was his happiness to witness the growth and glory of his country which he loved so well. He departed amidst the benedictions of millions of freemen. The nation paid its tribute to his memory at his tomb. Coming generations will learn from his example the love of country and the rights of man. In his language on a similar occasion to the present, “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
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." Washington, December 2, 1845.
JAMES K. POLK.
CORRESPONDENCE between Great Britain, The United
States, France, Mexico, and Texas, respecting the Annexation of Texas to The United States.-1813–1815.
(1.)- The Earl of Aberdeen to Mr. Pakenham. SIR,
Foreign Office, December 26, 1813. As much agitation appears to have prevailed of late in The United States relative to the designs which Great Britain is supposed to entertain with regard to the Republic of Texas, Her Majesty's Government deem it expedient to take measures for stopping at once the misrepresentations which have been circulated, and the errors into which the Government of The United States seems to have fallen, on the subject of the policy of Great Britain with respect to Texas. That policy is clear and simple, and may be stated in a few words.
Great Britain has recognized the independence of Texas; and, having done so, she is desirous of seeing that independence finally and formally established, and generally recognized, especially by Mexico. But this desire does not arise from any motive of ambition or of self-interest, beyond that interest, at least, which attaches to the general extension of our commercial dealings with other countries.
We are convinced that the recognition of Texas by Mexico must conduce to the benefit of both these countries, and as we take an interest in the well-being of both, and in their steady advance in power and wealth, we have put ourselves forward in pressing the Government of Mexico to acknowledge Texas as independent. But in thus acting, we have no occult design, either with reference to any peculiar influence which we might seek to establish in Mexico or in Texas, or even with reference to the slavery which now exists, and which we desire to see abolished in Texas.
With regard to the latter point, it must be and is well-known both to The United States and to the whole world that Great Britain desires and is constantly exerting herself to procure the general abolition of slavery throughout the world; but the means which she has adopted, and will continue to adopt, for this humane and virtuous purpose, are open and undisguised. She will do nothing secretly or underband. She desires that her motives may be generally understood, and her acts seen by all.
With regard to Texas, we avow that we wish to see slavery abolished there, as elsewhere, and we should rejoice if the recognition of that country by the Mexican Government should be accompanied by an engagement on the part of Texas to abolish slavery eventually, and under proper conditions, throughout the Republic. But although we earnestly desire and feel it to be our duty to promote such a consummation, we shall not interfere unduly, or with an improper assumption of authority, with either party, in order to ensure the adoption of such a course. We shall counsel, but we shall not seek to compel or unduly control either party. So far as Great Britain is concerned, provided other States act with equal forbearance, those Governments will be fully at liberty to make their own unfettered arrangements with each other, both in regard to the abolition of slavery and to all other points.
Great Britain, moreover, does not desire to establish in Texas, whether partially dependent on Mexico, or entirely independent, (which latter alternative we consider in every respect preferable,) any dominant influence. She only desires to share her influence equally with all other nations. Her objects are purely commercial, and she has no thought or intention of seeking to act, directly or indirectly, in a political sense, on The United States through Texas.
The British Goverrment, as The United States well know, have never sought in any way to stir up disaffection or excitement of any kind in the slave-holding States of the American Union. Much as we should wish to see those States placed on the firm and solid footing which we conscientiously believe is to be attained by general freedom alone, we have never in our treatment of them made
difference between the slaveholding and the free States of the Union. All are in our eyes entitled, as component members of the Union, to equal political respect, favour, and forbearance on our part. To that wise and just policy we shall continue to adhere; and the Gorernments of the slaveholding States may be assured that, although we shall not desist from those open and honest efforts which we have constantly made for procuring the abolition of slavery throughout the world, we shall neither openly nor secretly resort to any measures which can tend to disturb their internal tranquillity, or thereby to affect the prosperity of the American Union.
You will communicate this despatch to The United States' Secretary of State, and if he should desire it, you will leave a copy of it with him.
I am, &c. The Right Hon. Richard Pakenham.