James D. Richardson.

A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents Volume 5, part 3: Franklin Pierce online

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accede by all the powers represented at Paris except Great Britain and
Turkey. To the last of the two additional propositions - that in relation
to blockades - there can certainly be no objection. It is merely the
definition of what shall constitute the effectual investment of a
blockaded place, a definition for which this Government has always
contended, claiming indemnity for losses where a practical violation
of the rule thus defined has been injurious to our commerce. As to the
remaining, article of the declaration of the conference of Paris, that
"privateering is and remains abolished," I certainly can not ascribe to
the powers represented in the conference of Paris any but liberal and
philanthropic views in the attempt to change the unquestionable rule of
maritime law in regard to privateering. Their proposition was doubtless
intended to imply approval of the principle that private property upon
the ocean, although it might belong to the citizens of a belligerent
state, should be exempted from capture; and had that proposition been so
framed as to give full effect to the principle, it would have received
my ready assent on behalf of the United States. But the measure proposed
is inadequate to that purpose. It is true that if adopted private
property upon the ocean would be withdrawn from one mode of plunder,
but left exposed meanwhile to another mode, which could be used with
increased effectiveness. The aggressive capacity of great naval powers
would be thereby augmented, while the defensive ability of others would
be reduced. Though the surrender of the means of prosecuting hostilities
by employing privateers, as proposed by the conference of Paris, is
mutual in terms, yet in practical effect it would be the relinquishment
of a right of little value to one class of states, but of essential
importance to another and a far larger class. It ought not to have been
anticipated that a measure so inadequate to the accomplishment of the
proposed object and so unequal in its operation would receive the assent
of all maritime powers. Private property would be still left to the
depredations of the public armed cruisers.

I have expressed a readiness on the part of this Government to accede
to all the principles contained in the declaration of the conference of
Paris provided that the one relating to the abandonment of privateering
can be so amended as to effect the object for which, as is presumed, it
was intended - the immunity of private property on the ocean from hostile
capture. To effect this object, it is proposed to add to the declaration
that "privateering is and remains abolished" the following amendment:


And that the private property of subjects and citizens of a belligerent
on the high seas shall be exempt from seizure by the public armed
vessels of the other belligerent, except it be contraband.


This amendment has been presented not only to the powers which have
asked our assent to the declaration to abolish privateering, but to all
other maritime states. Thus far it has not been rejected by any, and is
favorably entertained by all which have made any communication in reply.

Several of the governments regarding with favor the proposition of
the United States have delayed definitive action upon it only for the
purpose of consulting with others, parties to the conference of Paris.
I have the satisfaction of stating, however, that the Emperor of Russia
has entirely and explicitly approved of that modification and will
cooperate in endeavoring to obtain the assent of other powers, and that
assurances of a similar purport have been received in relation to the
disposition of the Emperor of the French.

The present aspect of this important subject allows us to cherish the
hope that a principle so humane in its character, so just and equal in
its operation, so essential to the prosperity of commercial nations, and
so consonant to the sentiments of this enlightened period of the world
will command the approbation of all maritime powers, and thus be
incorporated into the code of international law.

My views on the subject are more fully set forth in the reply of the
Secretary of State, a copy of which is herewith transmitted, to the
communications on the subject made to this Government, especially to
the communication of France.

The Government of the United States has at all times regarded with
friendly interest the other States of America, formerly, like this
country, European colonies, and now independent members of the great
family of nations. But the unsettled condition of some of them,
distracted by frequent revolutions, and thus incapable of regular and
firm internal administration, has tended to embarrass occasionally our
public intercourse by reason of wrongs which our citizens suffer at
their hands, and which they are slow to redress.

Unfortunately, it is against the Republic of Mexico, with which it
is our special desire to maintain a good understanding, that such
complaints are most numerous; and although earnestly urged upon its
attention, they have not as yet received the consideration which this
Government had a right to expect. While reparation for past injuries has
been withheld, others have been added. The political condition of that
country, however, has been such as to demand forbearance on the part of
the United States. I shall continue my efforts to procure for the wrongs
of our citizens that redress which is indispensable to the continued
friendly association of the two Republics.

The peculiar condition of affairs in Nicaragua in the early part of the
present year rendered it important that this Government should have
diplomatic relations with that State. Through its territory had been
opened one of the principal thoroughfares across the isthmus connecting
North and South America, on which a vast amount of property was
transported and to which our citizens resorted in great numbers in
passing between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States.
The protection of both required that the existing power in that State
should be regarded as a responsible Government, and its minister was
accordingly received. But he remained here only a short time. Soon
thereafter the political affairs of Nicaragua underwent unfavorable
change and became involved in much uncertainty and confusion. Diplomatic
representatives from two contending parties have been recently sent to
this Government, but with the imperfect information possessed it was not
possible to decide which was the Government _de facto_, and, awaiting
further developments, I have refused to receive either.

Questions of the most serious nature are pending between the United
States and the Republic of New Granada. The Government of that Republic
undertook a year since to impose tonnage duties on foreign vessels in
her ports, but the purpose was resisted by this Government as being
contrary to existing treaty stipulations with the United States and
to rights conferred by charter upon the Panama Railroad Company, and
was accordingly relinquished at that time, it being admitted that our
vessels were entitled to be exempt from tonnage duty in the free ports
of Panama and Aspinwall. But the purpose has been recently revived on
the part of New Granada by the enactment of a law to subject vessels
visiting her ports to the tonnage duty of 40 cents per ton, and although
the law has not been put in force, yet the right to enforce it is still
asserted and may at any time be acted on by the Government of that
Republic.

The Congress of New Granada has also enacted a law during the last
year which levies a tax of more than $3 on every pound of mail matter
transported across the Isthmus. The sum thus required to be paid on
the mails of the United States would be nearly $2,000,000 annually in
addition to the large sum payable by contract to the Panama Railroad
Company. If the only objection to this exaction were the exorbitancy
of its amount, it could not be submitted to by the United States.

The imposition of it, however, would obviously contravene our treaty
with New Granada and infringe the contract of that Republic with the
Panama Railroad Company. The law providing for this tax was by its terms
to take effect on the ist of September last, but the local authorities
on the Isthmus have been induced to suspend its execution and to await
further instructions on the subject from the Government of the Republic.
I am not yet advised of the determination of that Government. If a
measure so extraordinary in its character and so clearly contrary to
treaty stipulations and the contract rights of the Panama Railroad
Company, composed mostly of American citizens, should be persisted
in, it will be the duty of the United States to resist its execution.

I regret exceedingly that occasion exists to invite your attention to
a subject of still graver import in our relations with the Republic of
New Granada. On the 15th day of April last a riotous assemblage of the
inhabitants of Panama committed a violent and outrageous attack on the
premises of the railroad company and the passengers and other persons
in or near the same, involving the death of several citizens of the
United States, the pillage of many others, and the destruction of a
large amount of property belonging to the railroad company. I caused
full investigation of that event to be made, and the result shows
satisfactorily that complete responsibility for what occurred attaches
to the Government of New Granada. I have therefore demanded of that
Government that the perpetrators of the wrongs in question should be
punished; that provision should be made for the families of citizens of
the United States who were killed, with full indemnity for the property
pillaged or destroyed.

The present condition of the Isthmus of Panama, in so far as regards
the security of persons and property passing over it, requires serious
consideration. Recent incidents tend to show that the local authorities
can not be relied on to maintain the public peace of Panama, and there
is just ground for apprehension that a portion of the inhabitants are
meditating further outrages, without adequate measures for the security
and protection of persons or property having been taken, either by the
State of Panama or by the General Government of New Granada.

Under the guaranties of treaty, citizens of the United States have, by
the outlay of several million dollars, constructed a railroad across
the Isthmus, and it has become the main route between our Atlantic
and Pacific possessions, over which multitudes of our citizens and a
vast amount of property are constantly passing; to the security and
protection of all which and the continuance of the public advantages
involved it is impossible for the Government of the United States to
be indifferent.

I have deemed the danger of the recurrence of scenes of lawless violence
in this quarter so imminent as to make it my duty to station a part of
our naval force in the harbors of Panama and Aspinwall, in order to
protect the persons and property of the citizens of the United States
in those ports and to insure to them safe passage across the Isthmus.
And it would, in my judgment, be unwise to withdraw the naval force now
in those ports until, by the spontaneous action of the Republic of New
Granada or otherwise, some adequate arrangement shall have been made for
the protection and security of a line of interoceanic communication, so
important at this time not to the United States only, but to all other
maritime states, both of Europe and America.

Meanwhile negotiations have been instituted, by means of a special
commission, to obtain from New Granada full indemnity for injuries
sustained by our citizens on the Isthmus and satisfactory security
for the general interests of the United States.

In addressing to you my last annual message the occasion seems to me
an appropriate one to express my congratulations, in view of the peace,
greatness, and felicity which the United States now possess and enjoy.
To point you to the state of the various Departments of the Government
and of all the great branches of the public service, civil and military,
in order to speak of the intelligence and the integrity which pervades
the whole, would be to indicate but imperfectly the administrative
condition of the country and the beneficial effects of that on the
general welfare. Nor would it suffice to say that the nation is actually
at peace at home and abroad; that its industrial interests are
prosperous; that the canvas of its mariners whitens every sea, and the
plow of its husbandmen is marching steadily onward to the bloodless
conquest of the continent; that cities and populous States are springing
up, as if by enchantment, from the bosom of our Western wilds, and that
the courageous energy of our people is making of these United States
the great Republic of the world. These results have not been attained
without passing through trials and perils, by experience of which,
and thus only, nations can harden into manhood. Our forefathers were
trained to the wisdom which conceived and the courage which achieved
independence by the circumstances which surrounded them, and they were
thus made capable of the creation of the Republic. It devolved on the
next generation to consolidate the work of the Revolution, to deliver
the country entirely from the influences of conflicting transatlantic
partialities or antipathies which attached to our colonial and
Revolutionary history, and to organize the practical operation of
the constitutional and legal institutions of the Union. To us of
this generation remains the not less noble task of maintaining and
extending the national power. We have at length reached that stage
of our country's career in which the dangers to be encountered and
the exertions to be made are the incidents, not of weakness, but of
strength. In foreign relations we have to attemper our power to the less
happy condition of other Republics in America and to place ourselves in
the calmness and conscious dignity of right by the side of the greatest
and wealthiest of the Empires of Europe. In domestic relations we have
to guard against the shock of the discontents, the ambitions, the
interests, and the exuberant, and therefore sometimes irregular,
impulses of opinion or of action which are the natural product of the
present political elevation, the self-reliance, and the restless spirit
of enterprise of the people of the United States.

I shall prepare to surrender the Executive trust to my successor and
retire to private life with sentiments of profound gratitude to the good
Providence which during the period of my Administration has vouchsafed
to carry the country through many difficulties, domestic and foreign,
and which enables me to contemplate the spectacle of amicable and
respectful relations between ours and all other governments and the
establishment of constitutional order and tranquillity throughout the
Union.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.




SPECIAL MESSAGES.


WASHINGTON, _December 2, 1856_.

_To the House of Representatives_:

I transmit herewith a report[63] from the Secretary of State, in
compliance with the resolution of the House of Representatives of the
7th of August last.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

[Footnote 63: Stating that the correspondence in the Departments of State
and of the Navy relative to Hamet Caramally had been transmitted to
Congress.]



WASHINGTON, _December 8, 1856_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit to the Senate, for its consideration with a view to
ratification, a treaty between the United States and Siam, concluded
at Bangkok on the 29th day of May last.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.



WASHINGTON, _December 10, 1856_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit to the Senate, for its consideration with a view to
ratification, a treaty for the settlement of the questions which have
come into discussion between the United States and Great Britain
relative to Central America, concluded and signed at London on the
17th day of October last between the United States and Great Britain.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.



WASHINGTON, _December 12, 1856_.

_To the Senate and House of Representatives_:

I transmit a copy of a letter of the 20th of May last from the
commissioner of the United States in China, and of the decree and
regulations[64] which accompanied it, for such revision thereof as
Congress may deem expedient, pursuant to the sixth section of the
act approved 11th August, 1848.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

[Footnote 64: For judicial jurisdiction by acting consuls or vice-consuls
of the United States in China.]



WASHINGTON, _December 15, 1856_.

_To the Senate and House of Representatives_:

I transmit to Congress an extract from a letter of the 22d ultimo from
the governor of the Territory of Kansas to the Secretary of State, with
a copy of the executive minutes[65] to which it refers. These documents
have been received since the date of my message at the opening of the
present session.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

[Footnote 65: Containing a history of Kansas affairs.]



WASHINGTON, _December 29, 1856_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

In compliance with, a resolution of the Senate of the 23d instant,
requesting the President "to communicate to the Senate, if not
incompatible with the public interest, such information as he may have
concerning the present condition and prospects of a proposed plan for
connecting by submarine wires the magnetic telegraph lines on this
continent and Europe," I transmit the accompanying report from the
Secretary of State.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.



WASHINGTON, _January 6, 1857_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit a report from the Secretary of State, with accompanying
papers,[66] in answer to the resolution of the Senate of the 2d instant.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

[Footnote 66: Relating to the refusal of the minister to the United
States from the Netherlands to testify before the criminal court of
the District of Columbia.]



WASHINGTON, _January 12, 1857_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

In compliance with the resolution of the Senate of the 4th August, 1856,
and 9th January instant, I transmit herewith a report from the Secretary
of State, together with the documents[67] therein referred to.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

[Footnote 67: Relating to the claims of certain American citizens for
losses consequent upon their expulsion by Venezuelan authorities from
one of the Aves Islands, while collecting guano.]



WASHINGTON, _January 12, 1857_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I again transmit to the Senate, for its advice and consent with a
view to ratification, the convention between the United States and
His Majesty the King of the Netherlands, for the mutual delivery
of criminals fugitives from justice in certain cases, and for
other purposes, which was concluded at The Hague on the 29th day
of May, 1856.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.



WASHINGTON, _January 12, 1857_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit a report from the Secretary of State, with accompanying
papers,[68] in answer to the resolution of the Senate of the 7th
instant.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.

[Footnote 68: Correspondence and documents connected with the treaty
concluded at London between the United States and Great Britain
October 17, 1856, relative to Central America.]



WASHINGTON, _January 12, 1857_.

The SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

In compliance with the resolution of the House of Representatives of the
22d ultimo, in relation to information with regard to expenditures and
liabilities for persons called into the service of the United States
in the Territory of Kansas, I transmit the accompanying report of the
Secretary of War.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.



WASHINGTON, _January 13, 1857_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit to the Senate, for its consideration with a view to
ratification, a convention between the United States and the Republic
of Peru relative to the rights of neutrals at sea, signed at Lima by
the plenipotentiaries of the parties on the 22d of July last.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.



WASHINGTON, _January 16, 1857_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I communicate to the Senate herewith, for its constitutional action
thereon, a treaty made and concluded at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
Territory, on the 16th day of December, 1856, between Indian Agent
Benjamin F. Robinson, commissioner on the part of the United States,
the principal men of the Christian Indians, and Gottleib F. Oehler, on
behalf of the board of elders of the northern diocese of the Church of
the United Brethren in the United States of America.

Among the papers which accompany the treaty is a communication from the
Commissioner of Indian Affairs, containing a recommendation, concurred
in by the Secretary of the Interior, that the treaty be ratified with
an amendment which is therein explained.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.



WASHINGTON, _January 19, 1857_.

_To the Senate and House of Representatives_:

Soon after the close of the last session of Congress I directed steps to
be taken to carry into effect the joint resolution of August 28, 1856
relative to the restoration of the ship _Resolute_ to Her Britannic
Majesty's service. The ship was purchased of the salvors at the sum
appropriated for the purchase, and "after being fully repaired and
equipped" was sent to England under control of the Secretary of the
Navy, The letter from Her Majesty's minister for foreign affairs, now
communicated to Congress in conformity with his request, and copies of
correspondence from the files of the Departments of State and of the
Navy, also transmitted herewith, will apprise you of the manner in which
the joint resolution has been fully executed and show how agreeable the
proceeding has been to Her Majesty's Government.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.


WASHINGTON, _January, 1857_.

_To the Senate and House of Representatives_:

I transmit to Congress copies of a communication from His Excellency
Andrew Johnson, governor of the State of Tennessee, tendering to the
Government of the United States "500 acres of the late residence of
Andrew Jackson, deceased, including the mansion, tomb, and other
improvements, known as the Hermitage," upon the terms and conditions
of an act of the legislature of said State, a copy of which is also
herewith communicated.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.



WASHINGTON, _January 20, 1857_.

_To the House of Representatives_:

In response to a resolution of January 5, 1857, requesting the President
to inform the House of Representatives "by what authority a Government
architect is employed and paid for designing and erecting all public
buildings, and also for placing said buildings under the supervision
of military engineers," I submit the accompanying reports from the
Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of War.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.



WASHINGTON, _January 21, 1857_.

_To the House of Representatives_:

In further compliance with resolution of the House of Representatives of
the 22d ultimo, calling upon me for "statements of the amounts of money
paid and liabilities incurred for the pay, support, and other expenses
of persons called into the service of the United States in the Territory
of Kansas, either under the designation of the militia of Kansas or of
posses summoned by the civil officers in that Territory, since the date
of its establishment; also statements of the amounts paid to marshals,
sheriffs, and other deputies, and to witnesses and for other expenses in
the arrest, detention, and trial of persons charged in said Territory
with treason against the United States or with violations of the alleged
laws of said Territory," I transmit a report from the Secretary of the
Treasury, with accompanying documents.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.



WASHINGTON, _January 28, 1857_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I communicate to the Senate herewith, for its constitutional action
thereon, a treaty made and concluded at Grand Portage, in the Territory
of Minnesota, on the 16th day of September, 1856, between Henry C.
Gilbert, Indian agent, acting as commissioner on the part of the United
States, and the Bois Porte bands of Chippewa Indians, by their chiefs
and headmen.

The treaty is accompanied by communications from the Secretary of the
Interior, transmitting a letter to him from the Commissioner of Indian
Affairs and a report from Agent Gilbert of the 24th December, 1856.

FRANKLIN PIERCE.


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Online LibraryJames D. RichardsonA Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents Volume 5, part 3: Franklin Pierce → online text (page 26 of 27)