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To the Congress of the United States :
The assemblage within the nation's legislative halls of those charged with the duty of making laws for the benefit of a generous and free people impressively suggests the exacting obligation and inexorable responsibility involved in their task. At the threshold of such labor now to be undertaken by the Congress of the United States and in the discharge of an executive duty enjoined by the Constitution I submit this communication, containing a brief statement of the condition of our national affairs, and recommending such legislation as seems to me necessary and expedient.
The history of our recent dealings with other nations, and our peaceful relations with them at this time, additionally demonstrate the advantage of consistently adhering to a firm but just foreign policy, free from envious or ambitious national schemes and characterized by entire honesty and sincerity.
During the past year, pursuant to a law of Congress, coinmissioners were appointed to the Antwerp Industrial Exposition. Though the participation of American exhibitors fell far short of completely illustrating our national ingenuity and industrial achievements, yet it was quite creditable in view of the brief time allowed for preparation.
I have endeavored to impress upon the Belgian Government the needlessness and positive harmfulness of its restrictions upon the importation of certain of our food products, and have strongly urged that the rigid supervision and inspection under our laws are amply sufficient to prevent the exportation from this country of diseased cattle and unwholesome meat.
The termination of the civil war in Brazil has been followed by the general prevalence of peace and order. It appearing at an early stage of the insurrection that its course would call for unusual watchfulness on the part of this Government, our naval force in the harbor of Rio de Janeiro was strengthened. This precaution, I am satisfied, tended to restrict the issue to a simple trial of strength between the Brazilian Government and the insurgents, and to avert complications which at times seemed imminent. Our firm attitude of neutrality was maintained to the end. The insurgents received no encouragement of eventual asylum from our commanders, and such opposition as they encountered was for the protection of our commerce and was clearly justified by public law.
A serious tension of relations having arisen at the close of the war between Brazil and Portugal by reason of the escape of the insurgent Admiral da Gama and his followers, the friendly offices of our representatives to those countries were exerted for the protection of the subjects of either within the territory of the other.
Although the Government of Brazil was duly notified that the commercial arrangement existing between the United States and that country based on the third section of the Tariff Act of 1890, was abrogated on August 28, 1894, by the taking effect of the tariff law now in force, that Government subsequently notified us of its intention to terminate such arrangement on the first day of January, 1895, in the exercise of the right reserved in the agreement between the two countries. I invite attention to the correspondence between the Secretary of State and the Brazilian minister on this subject.
The Commission organized under the convention which we had entered into with Chile for the settlement of the outstanding claims of each Government against the other, adjourned at the end of the period stipulated for its continuance, leaving undetermined a number of American cases which had been duly presented. These claims are not barred and negotiations are in progress for their submission to a new tribunal.
On the 17th of March last a new treaty with China in further regulation of emigration was signed at Washington, and on August 13th it received the sanction of the Senate. Ratification on the part of China and formal exchange are awaited to give effect to this mutually beneficial convention.
A gratifying recognition of the uniform impartiality of this country towards all foreign states was manifested by the coincident request of the Chinese and Japanese governments that the agents of the United States should, within proper limits, afford protection to the subjects of the other during the suspension of diplomatic relations due to a state of war. This delicate office was accepted, and a misapprehension which gave rise to the belief that in affording this kindly unofficial protection our agents would exercise the same