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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, coninissioners 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. Thris 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 authority which the withdrawn agents of the belligerents had exercised, was promptly corrected. Although the war between China and Japan endangers no policy of the United States it deserves our gravest consideration, by reason of its disturbance of our growing commercial interests in the two countries and the increased dangers which may result to our citizens domiciled or sojourning in the interior of China.
Acting under a stipulation in our treaty with Korea (the first concluded with a western power) I felt constrained at the beginning of the controversy to tender our good offices to induce an amicable arrangement of the initial difficulty growing out of the Japanese demands for administrative reforms in Korea; but the unhappy precipitation of actual hostilities defeated this kindly purpose.
Deploring the destructive war between the two most powerful of the eastern nations aud anxious that our commercial interests in those countries may be preserved and that the safety of our citizens there shall not be jeopardized, I would not hesitate to heed any intimation that our friendly aid for the honorable termination of hostilities would be acceptable to both belligerents.
A convention has been finally concluded for the settlement by arbitration of the prolonged dispute with Ecuador growing out of the proceedings against Emilio Santos, a naturalized citizen of the United States.
Our relations with the Republic of France continue to be such as should exist between nations so long bound together by friendly sympathy and similarity in their form of government.
The recent cruel assassination of the President of this sister Republic called forth such universal expressions of sorrow and condolence from our people and Government as to leave no doubt of the depth and sincerity of our attachment. The resolutions passed by the Senate and House of Representatives on the occasion have been communicated to the widow of President Carnot.
Acting upon the reported discovery of Texas fever in cargoes of American cattle, the German prohibition against importations of live stock and fresh meats from this country has been revived. It is hoped that Germany will soon become convinced that the inhibition is as needless as it is harmful to mutual interests.
The German Government has protested against that provision of the customs tariff act which imposes a discriminating duty of onetenth of one cent a pound on sugars coming from countries paying an export bounty thereon, claiming that the exaction of such duty
is in contravention of articles five and nine of the treaty of 1828 with Prussia.
In the interests of the commerce of both countries and to avoid even the accusation of treaty violation, I recommend the repeal of so much of the statute as imposes that duty, and I invite attention to the accompanying report of the Secretary of State containing a discussion of the questions raised by the German protests.
Early in the present year an agreement was reached with Great Britain concerning instructions to be given to the naval commanders of the two governments in Behring Sea and the contiguous North Pacific Ocean, for their guidance in the execution of the award of the Paris Tribunal of Arbitration and the enforcement of the regulations therein prescribed, for the protection of seal life in the waters mentioned. An understanding has also been reached for the payment by the United States of $425,000, in full satisfaction of all claims which may be made by Great Britain for damages growing out of the controversy as to fur seals in Behring Sea, or the seizure of British vessels engaged in taking seal in those waters. The award and findings of the Paris Tribunal to a great extent determined the facts and principles upon which these claims should be adjusted, and they have been subjected by both governments to a thorough examination upon the principles as well as the facts which they involve. I am convinced that a settlement upon the terms mentioned would be an equitable and advantageous one and I recommend that provision be made for the prompt payment of the stated sum.
Thus far, only France and Portugal have signified their willingness to adhere to the regulations established under the award of the Paris Tribunal of Arbitration.
Preliminary surveys of the Alaskan boundary and a preparatory examination of the question of protection of food-fish in the contiguous waters of the United States and the Dominion of Canada are in progress.
The boundary of British Guiana still remains in dispute between Great Britain and Venezuela. Believing that its early settlement, on some just basis alike honorable to both parties, is in the line of our established policy to remove from this hemisphere all causes of difference with powers beyond the sea, I shall renew the efforts heretofore made to bring about a restoration of diplomatic relations between the disputants and to induce a reference to arbitration, a resort which Great Britain so conspicuously favors in principle and respects in practice and which is earnestly sought by her weaker adversary.