Abbildungen der Seite

immediately taken for providing against that danger ; instructions were given to require explanations, and with assurances of our continued friendship, to admonish the tribes to remain quiet at home, taking no part in quarrels not belonging to them. As far as we are yet informed, the tribes in our vicinity, who are most advanced in the pursuits of industry, are sincerely disposed to adhere to their friendship with us, and to their peace with all others; while those more remote do not present appearances sufficiently quiet to justify the intermission of military precaution on our part.

The great tribes on our south-western quarter, much advanced beyond the others in agriculture and household arts, appear tranquil, and identifying their views with ours, in proportion to their advancement. With the whole of these people, in every quarter, I shall continue to inculcate peace and friendship with all their neighbors, and perseverance in those occupations and pursuits which will best promote their own well-being.

The appropriations of the last session, for the defence of our seaport towns and harbors, were made under expectation that a continuance of our peace would permit us to proceed in that work according to our convenience. It has been thought better to apply the sums then given, toward the defence of New York, Charleston, and New Orleans chiefly, as most open and most likely first to need protection ; and to leave places less immediately in danger to the provisions of the present session.

The gun-boats, too, already provided, have on a like principle been chiefly assigned to New York, New Orleans, and the Chesapeake. Whether our movable force on the water, so material in aid of the defensive works on the land, should be augmented in this or any other form, is left to the wisdom of the legislature. For the purpose of manning these vessels in sudden attacks on our harbors, it is a matter for consideration, whether the seamen of the United States may not justly be formed into a special militia, to be called on for tours of duty in defence of the harbors where they shall happen to be; the ordinary militia of the place furnishing that portion which may consist of landsmen.

The moment our peace was threatened, I deemed it indispensable to secure a greater provision of those articles of military stores with which our magazines were not sufficiently furnished. To have awaited a previous and special sanction by law would have lost occasions which might not be retrieved. I did not hesitate, therefore, to authorize engagements for such supplements to our existing stock as would render it adequate to the emergencies threatening us; and I trust that the legislature, feeling the same anxiety for the safety of our country, so materially advanced by this precaution, will approve, when done, what they would have seen so important to be done if then assembled. Expenses, also unprovided for, arose out of the necessity of calling all our gun-boats into actual service for the defence of our harbors; of all which accounts will be laid before you.

Whether a regular army is to be raised, and to what extent, must depend on the information so shortly expected. In the meantime, I have called on the States for quotas of militia, to be in readiness for present defence; and have, moreover, encouraged the acceptance of volunteers; and I am happy to inform you that these have offered themselves with great alacrity in every part of the Union. They are ordered to be organized, and ready at a moment's warning to proceed on any service to which they may be called, and every preparation within the executive powers has been made to insure us the benefit of early exertions.

I informed Congress at their last session of the enterprises against the public peace, which were believed to be in preparation by Aaron Burr and his associates, of the measures taken to defeat them, and to bring the offenders to justice. Their enterprises were happily defeated by the patriotic exertions of the militia wherever called into action, by the fidelity of the army, and energy of the commander-in-chief in promptly arranging the difficulties presenting themselves on the Sabine, repairing to meet those arising on the Mississippi, and dissipating, before their explosion, plots engendering there. I shall think it my duty to lay before you the proceedings and the evidence publicly exhibited on the arraignment of the principal offenders before the

circuit court of Virgiana. You will be enabled to judge whether the defeat was in the testimony, in the law, or in the administration of the law; and wherever it shall be found, the legislature alone can apply or originate the remedy. The framers of our constitution certainly supposed they had guarded, as well their government against destruction by treason, as their citizens against oppression, under pretence of it; and if these ends are not attained, it is of importance to inquire by what means, more effectual, they may be secured.

The accounts of the receipts of revenue, during the year ending on the thirtieth day of September last, being not yet made up, a correct statement will be hereafter transmitted from the treasury. In the meantime, it is ascertained that the receipts have amounted to near sixteen millions of dollars, which, with the five millions and a half in the treasury at the beginning of the year, have enabled us, after meeting the current demands and interest incurred, to pay more than four millions of the principal of our funded debt. These payments, with those of the preceding five and a half years, have extinguished of the funded debt twenty-five millions and a half of dollars, being the whole which could be paid or purchased within the limits of the law and of our contracts, and have left us in the treasury eight millions and a half of dollars. A portion of this sum may be considered as a commencement of accumulation of the surpluses of revenue, which, after paying the instalments of debts as they shall become payable, will remain without any specific object. It may partly, indeed, be applied toward completing the defence of the exposed points of our country, on such a scale as shall be adapted to our principles and circumstances. This object is doubtless among the first entitled to attention, in such a state of our finances, and it is one which, whether we have peace or war, will provide security where it is due. Whether what shall remain of this, with the future surpluses, may be usefully applied to purposes already authorized, or more usefully to others requiring new authorities, or how otherwise they shall be disposed of, are questions calling for the notice of Congress,

unless indeed they shall be superseded by a change in our public relations now awaiting the determination of others. Whatever be that determination, it is a great consolation that it will become known at a moment when the supreme council of the nation is assembled at its post, and ready to give the aids of its wisdom and authority to whatever course the good of our country shall then call us to pursue.

Matters of minor importance will be the subjects of future communications; and nothing shall be wanting on my part which may give information or despatch to the proceedings of the legislature in the exercise of their high duties, and at a moment so interesting to the public welfare.


To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United

States :

Agreeably to the assurance in my message at the opening of the present session of Congress, I now lay before you a copy of the proceedings, and of the evidence exhibited on the arraignment of Aaron Burr, and others, before the circuit court of the United States, held in Virginia, in the course of the present year, in as authentic form as their several parts have admitted.


To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United

States :

The communications now made, showing the great and increasing dangers with which our vessels, our seamen, and merchandise, are threatened on the high seas and elsewhere, from the belligerent powers of Europe, and it being of great import

ance to keep in safety these essential resources, I deem it my duty to recommend the subject to the consideration of Congress, who will doubtless perceive all the advantages which may be expected from an inhibition of the departure of our vessels from the ports of the United States.

Their wisdom will also see the necessity of making every preparation for whatever events may grow out of the present crisis.


To the House of Representatives of the United States :

Some days previous to your resolution of the 13th instant, a court of inquiry had been instituted at the request of General Wilkinson, charged to make the inquiry into his conduct which the first resolution desires, and had commenced their proceedings. To the judge-advocate of that court the papers and information on that subject, transmitted to me by the House of Representatives, have been delivered, to be used according to the rules and powers of that court.

The request of a communication of any information, which may have been received at any time since the establishment of the present government, touching combinations with foreign nations for dismembering the Union, or the corrupt receipt of money by any officer of the United States from the agents of foreign governments, can be complied with but in a partial degree.

It is well understood that, in the first or second year of the presidency of General Washington, information was given to him relating to certain combinations with the agents of a foreign government for the dismemberment of the Union ; which combinations had taken place before the establishment of the present federal government. This information, however, is believed never to have been deposited in any public office, or left in that of the president's secretary, these having been duly examined,

« ZurückWeiter »