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CLOSING SCENES IN THE SIXTH ADMINISTRATION—LAST ANNUAL MESSAGE—GENERAL SCOTT AND MR. ADAMSLEAVING THE WHITE HOUSE.
CONGRESS again assembled on the first of December, 1828, and on the following day President Adams sent to both Houses his
FOURTH ANNUAL MESSAGE.
December 2, 1828. Totiie Senate And House Of Representatives Op The United States:
If the enjoyment in profusion of the bounties of Providence forms a suitable subject of mutual gratulatiou and grateful acknowledgment, we are admonished at this return of the season, when the Representatives of the Nation are assembled to deliberate upon their concerns, to offer up the tribute of fervent and grateful hearts for the never-failing mercies of Him who ruleth over all. He has again favored us with healthful seasons and abundant harvests. He has sustained us at peace with foreign countries, and in tranquillity within our borders. He has preserved us in the quiet and undisturbed possession of civil and religious liberty. He has crowned the year with his goodness, imposing on us no other conditions than of improving, for our own happiness, the blessings bestowed by his hands; and in the fruition of all his favors, of devoting the faculties with which we have been endowed by him, to his glory and to our own temporal and eternal welfare.
In the relations of our Federal Union with our brethren of the human race, the changes which have occurred since the close of your last session have generally tended to the preservation of peace, and to the cultivation of harmony. Before your last separation, a war had unhappily been kindled between the Empire of Russia, one of those with which our intercourse has been no other than a constant exchange of good offices, and that of the Ottoman Porte, a nation from which geographical distance, religious opinions, and maxims of government, on their part, little suited to the formation of those bonds of mutual benevolence which result from the benefits of commerce, had kept us in a state, perhaps too much prolonged, of coldness and alienation. The extensive, fertile, and populous dominions of the Sultan, belong rather to the Asiatic than the European division of the human family. They enter but partially into the system of Europe; nor have their wars with Russia and Austria, the European States upon which they border, for more than a century past, disturbed the pacific relations of these States with the other great powers of Europe. Neither France, nor Prussia, nor Great Britain, has ever taken part in them; nor is it to be expected that they will at this time. The declaration of war by Russia has received the approbation or acquiescence of her allies, and we may indulge the hope that its progress and termination will be signalized by the moderation and forbearance, no less than by the energy of the Emperor Nicholas, and that it will afford the opportunity for such collateral agency in behalf of the suffering Greeks as will secure to them ultimately the triumph of humanity and of freedom.
The state of our particular relations with France has scarcely varied in the course of the present year. The commercial intercourse between the two countries has continued to increase for the mutual benefit of both. The claims of indemnity to numbers of our fellow-citizens for depredations upon their property, heretofore committed during the Revolutionary governments, still remain unadjusted, and still form the subject of earnest representation and remonstrance. Recent advices from the Minister of the United States at Paris, encourage the expectations that the appeal to the justice of the French Government will erelong receive a favorable consideration.
The last friendly expedient has been resorted to for the decision of the controversy with Great Britain, relating to the north-eastern boundary of the United States. By an agreement with the British Government, carrying into effect the provisions of the fifth article of the Treaty of Ghent, and the convention of the 29th of September, 1827, his majesty, the king of the Netherlands, has, by common consent, been selected as the umpire between the parties. The proposal to him to accept the designation for the performance of this friendly office will be made at an early day, and the United States, relying upon the justice of their cause, will cheerfully commit the arbitrament of it to a prince equally distinguished for the independence of his spirit, his indefatigable assiduity to the duties of his station, and his inflexible personal probity.
Our commercial relations with Great Britain will deserve the serious consideration of Congress, and the exercise of a conciliatory and forbearing spirit in the policy of both governments. The state of them has been materially changed by the act of Congress, passed at their last session, in alteration of the several acts imposing duties on imports, and by acts of more recent date of the British Parliament. The effect of the interdiction of direct trade, commenced by Great Britain, and reciprocated by the United-States, has been, or was to be foreseen, only to substitute different chanuels for an exchange of commodities indispensable to the Colonies, and profitable to a numerous class of our fellowcitizens. The exports, the revenue, the navigation of the United States, have suffered no diminution by our exclusion from direct access to the British Colonies. The Colonies pay more dearly for the necessaries of life, which their government burdens with the charges of double voyages, freight, insurance, and commission, and the profits of our exports are somewhat impaired, and more injuriously transferred from one portion of our citizens to another. The resumption of this old and otherwise exploded system of Colonial exclusion has not secured to the shipping interests of Great Britain the relief which, at the expense of the distant Colonies and of the United States, it was expected to afford. Other measures have been resorted to, more pointedly bearing upon the navigation of the United States, and which, unless modified by the construction given to the recent acts of Parliament, will be manifestly incompatible with the positive stipulations of the commercial convention existing between the two countries. That convention, however, may be terminated with twelve months' notice, at the option of either party.
A treaty of amity, navigation, and commerce, between the United States and his majesty, the Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary and Bohemia, has been prepared for signature by the Secretary of State, and by the Baron de Lederer, intrusted with full powers of the Austrian Government. Independently of the. new and friendly relations which may be thus commenced with one of the most eminent and powerful nations of the earth, the occasion has been taken in it, as in other recent treaties concluded by the United States, to extend those principles of liberal intercourse and of fair reciprocity which intertwine with the exchanges of commerce the principles of justice, and the feelings of mutual benevolence. This system, first proclaimed to the world in the first commercial treaty ever concluded by the United States, that of 6th February, 1778, with France, has been invariably the cherished policy of our Union. It is by treaties of commerce alone that it can be made ultimately to prevail as the established system of all civilized nations. With this principle our fathers extended the hand of friendship to every nation of the globe, and to this policy our country has ever since adhered— whatever of regulation in our laws has ever been adopted unfavorable to the interest of any foreign nation has been essentially defensive, and counteracting to similar regulations-of theirs operating against us.
Immediately after the close of the war of independence, commissioners were appointed by the Congress of the confederation, authorized to conclude treaties with every nation of Europe disposed to adopt them. Before the wars of the French Revolution, such treaties had been consummated with the.United Netherlands, Sweden, and Prussia. During these wars, treaties with Great Britain and Spain had been effected, and those with Russia and France renewed. In all these, some concessions to the liberal principles of intercourse proposed by the United States had been obtained; but as, in all the negotiations, they came occasionally in collision with previous iuternal regulations, or exclusive and excluding compacts of monopoly with which the other parties had been trammeled, the advances made in them toward the freedom of trade were partial and imperfect. Colonial establishments, chartered companies, and ship-building influence, pervaded and encumbered the legislation of all the great commercial States; and the United States, in offering free trade and equal privileges to all, were compelled to acquiesce in many exceptions with each of the parties to their treaties, accommodated to their existing laws and anterior engagements.
The Colonial system by which this whole hemisphere was bound has fallen into ruins; totally abolished by the revolutions converting colonies into independent nations, throughout the two American continents, excepting a portion of territory chiefly at the northern extremity of our own, and confined to the remnants of dominion retained by Great Britain over the insular archipelago, geographically the appendages of our part of the globe. With all the rest we have free-trade; even with the insular Colonies of all the European nations, except Great Britain. Her government also had manifested approaches to the adoption of a free and liberal intercourse between her Colonies and other nations, though, by a sudden and scarcely explained revulsion, the spirit of exclusion has been revived for operation upon the United States alone.
The conclusion of our last treaty of peace with Great Britain was shortly afterward followed by a commercial convention, placing the direct intercourse between the two countries upon a footing of more equal reciprocity than had ever before been admitted. The same principle has since been much further extended by treaties with France, Sweden, Denmark, the Hanseatic cities, Prussia, in Europe, and with the republics of Colombia and of Central America, in this hemisphere. The mutual abolition of discriminating duties and charges, upon the navigation and commercial intercourse between the parties, is the general maxim which characterizes them all. There is reason to expect that it will, at no distant period, be adopted hy other nations, both of Europe and America, and to hope that, by its universal prevalence, one of the fruitful sources of wars of commercial competition will be extinguished.
Among the nations upon whose governments many of our fellow-citizens have had long pending claims of indemnity, for depredations upon their property during a period when the rights of neutral commerce were disregarded, was that of Denmark.. They were, soon after the events occurred, the subject of a special mission from the United States, at the close of which the assurance was given by his Danish Majesty, that at a period of more tranquillity, and of less distress, they would be considered, examined, and decided upon, in a spirit of determined purpose for the dispensation of justice. I have much pleasure in informing Congress that the fulfillment of this honorable promise is now in progress; that a small portion of the claims has already been settled to the satisfaction of the claimants; and that we have reason to hope that the remainder will shortly be placed in a train of equitable adjustment. This result has always been confidently expected, from the character of personal integrity and