James D. Richardson.

A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents Volume 1, part 1: George Washington online

. (page 13 of 24)
Online LibraryJames D. RichardsonA Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents Volume 1, part 1: George Washington → online text (page 13 of 24)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

_Gentlemen of the Senate and of the House of Representatives_:

I lay before you a copy of a letter from the judges of the circuit court
of the United States held for the New York district, and of their
opinion and agreement respecting the "Act to provide for the settlement
of the claims of widows and orphans barred by the limitations heretofore
established, and to regulate the claims to invalid pensions."


UNITED STATES, _April 21, 1792_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate and of the House of Representatives_:

I lay before you the copy of a letter which I have received from
the judges of the circuit court of the United States held for the
Pennsylvania district relatively to the "Act to provide for the
settlement of the claims of widows and orphans barred by the limitations
heretofore established, and to regulate the claims to invalid pensions."


UNITED STATES, _May 8, 1792_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate_:

If the President of the United States should conclude a convention or
treaty with the Government of Algiers for the ransom of the thirteen
Americans in captivity there for a sum not exceeding $40,000, all
expenses included, will the Senate approve the same? Or is there any,
and what, greater or lesser sum which they would fix on as the limit
beyond which they would not approve the ransom?

If the President of the United States should conclude a treaty with the
Government of Algiers for the establishment of peace with them, at an
expense not exceeding $25,000, paid at the signature, and a like sum to
be paid annually afterwards during the continuance of the treaty, would
the Senate approve the same? Or are there any greater or lesser sums
which they would fix on as the limits beyond which they would not
approve of such treaty?



UNITED STATES, _April 5, 1792_.

_Gentlemen of the House of Representatives_:

I have maturely considered the act passed by the two Houses entitled
"An act for an apportionment of Representatives among the several States
according to the first enumeration," and I return it to your House,
wherein it originated, with the following objections:

First. The Constitution has prescribed that Representatives shall be
apportioned among the several States according to their respective
numbers, and there is no one proportion or divisor which, applied to the
respective numbers of the States, will yield the number and allotment of
Representatives proposed by the bill.

Second. The Constitution has also provided that the number of
Representatives shall not exceed 1 for every 30,000, which restriction
is by the context and by fair and obvious construction to be applied to
the separate and respective numbers of the States; and the bill has
allotted to eight of the States more than 1 for every 30,000.



[From Sparks's Washington, Vol. X, p. 532.]

Whereas certain violent and unwarrantable proceedings have lately taken
place tending to obstruct the operation of the laws of the United States
for raising a revenue upon spirits distilled within the same, enacted
pursuant to express authority delegated in the Constitution of the
United States, which proceedings are subversive of good order, contrary
to the duty that every citizen owes to his country and to the laws, and
of a nature dangerous to the very being of a government; and

Whereas such proceedings are the more unwarrantable by reason of the
moderation which has been heretofore shown on the part of the Government
and of the disposition which has been manifested by the Legislature (who
alone have authority to suspend the operation of laws) to obviate causes
of objection and to render the laws as acceptable as possible; and

Whereas it is the particular duty of the Executive "to take care that
the laws be faithfully executed," and not only that duty but the
permanent interests and happiness of the people require that every legal
and necessary step should be pursued as well to prevent such violent and
unwarrantable proceedings as to bring to justice the infractors of the
laws and secure obedience thereto:

Now, therefore, I, George Washington, President of the United States, do
by these presents most earnestly admonish and exhort all persons whom it
may concern to refrain and desist from all unlawful combinations and
proceedings whatsoever having for object or tending to obstruct the
operation of the laws aforesaid, inasmuch as all lawful ways and means
will be strictly put in execution for bringing to justice the infractors
thereof and securing obedience thereto.

And I do moreover charge and require all courts, magistrates, and
officers whom it may concern, according to the duties of their several
offices, to exert the powers in them respectively vested by law for the
purposes aforesaid, hereby also enjoining and requiring all persons
whomsoever, as they tender the welfare of their country, the just and
due authority of Government, and the preservation of the public peace,
to be aiding and assisting therein according to law.

In testimony whereof I have caused the seal of the United States to be
affixed to these presents, and signed the same with my hand.


Done this 15th of September, A.D. 1792, and of the Independence of the
United States the seventeenth.



UNITED STATES, _November 6, 1792_.

_Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives_:

It is some abatement of the satisfaction with which I meet you on the
present occasion that, in felicitating you on a continuance of the
national prosperity generally, I am not able to add to it information
that the Indian hostilities which have for some time past distressed our
Northwestern frontier have terminated.

You will, I am persuaded, learn with no less concern than I
communicate it that reiterated endeavors toward effecting a pacification
have hitherto issued only in new and outrageous proofs of persevering
hostility on the part of the tribes with whom we are in contest.
An earnest desire to procure tranquillity to the frontier, to stop the
further effusion of blood, to arrest the progress of expense, to forward
the prevalent wish of the nation for peace has led to strenuous efforts
through various channels to accomplish these desirable purposes; in
making which efforts I consulted less my own anticipations of the event,
or the scruples which some considerations were calculated to inspire,
than the wish to find the object attainable, or if not attainable,
to ascertain unequivocally that such is the case.

A detail of the measures which have been pursued and of their
consequences, which will be laid before you, while it will confirm to
you the want of success thus far, will, I trust, evince that means as
proper and as efficacious as could have been devised have been employed.
The issue of some of them, indeed, is still depending, but a favorable
one, though not to be despaired of, is not promised by anything that has
yet happened.

In the course of the attempts which have been made some valuable
citizens have fallen victims to their zeal for the public service. A
sanction commonly respected even among savages has been found in this
instance insufficient to protect from massacre the emissaries of peace.
It will, I presume, be duly considered whether the occasion does not
call for an exercise of liberality toward the families of the deceased.

It must add to your concern to be informed that, besides the
continuation of hostile appearances among the tribes north of the Ohio,
some threatening symptoms have of late been revived among some of those
south of it.

A part of the Cherokees, known by the name of Chickamaugas, inhabiting
five villages on the Tennessee River, have long been in the practice of
committing depredations on the neighboring settlements.

It was hoped that the treaty of Holston, made with the Cherokee Nation
in July, 1791, would have prevented a repetition of such depredations;
but the event has not answered this hope. The Chickamaugas, aided
by some banditti of another tribe in their vicinity, have recently
perpetrated wanton and unprovoked hostilities upon the citizens of the
United States in that quarter. The information which has been received
on this subject will be laid before you. Hitherto defensive precautions
only have been strictly enjoined and observed.

It is not understood that any breach of treaty or aggression whatsoever
on the part of the United States or their citizens is even alleged as a
pretext for the spirit of hostility in this quarter.

I have reason to believe that every practicable exertion has been made
(pursuant to the provision by law for that purpose) to be prepared for
the alternative of a prosecution of the war in the event of a failure of
pacific overtures. A large proportion of the troops authorized to be
raised have been recruited, though the number is still incomplete, and
pains have been taken to discipline and put them in condition for the
particular kind of service to be performed. A delay of operations
(besides being dictated by the measures which were pursuing toward a
pacific termination of the war) has been in itself deemed preferable to
immature efforts. A statement from the proper department with regard
to the number of troops raised, and some other points which have been
suggested, will afford more precise information as a guide to the
legislative consultations, and among other things will enable Congress
to judge whether some additional stimulus to the recruiting service may
not be advisable.

In looking forward to the future expense of the operations which may be
found inevitable I derive consolation from the information I receive
that the product of the revenues for the present year is likely to
supersede the necessity of additional burthens on the community for the
service of the ensuing year. This, however, will be better ascertained
in the course of the session, and it is proper to add that the
information alluded to proceeds upon the supposition of no material
extension of the spirit of hostility.

I can not dismiss the subject of Indian affairs without again
recommending to your consideration the expediency of more adequate
provision for giving energy to the laws throughout our interior frontier
and for restraining the commission of outrages upon the Indians, without
which all pacific plans must prove nugatory. To enable, by competent
rewards, the employment of qualified and trusty persons to reside among
them as agents would also contribute to the preservation of peace and
good neighborhood. If in addition to these expedients an eligible plan
could be devised for promoting civilization among the friendly tribes
and for carrying on trade with them upon a scale equal to their wants
and under regulations calculated to protect them from imposition and
extortion, its influence in cementing their interest with ours could
not but be considerable.

The prosperous state of our revenue has been intimated. This would be
still more the case were it not for the impediments which in some places
continue to embarrass the collection of the duties on spirits distilled
within the United States. These impediments have lessened and are
lessening in local extent, and, as applied to the community at large,
the contentment with the law appears to be progressive.

But symptoms of increased opposition having lately manifested themselves
in certain quarters, I judged a special interposition on my part proper
and advisable, and under this impression have issued a proclamation
warning against all unlawful combinations and proceedings having for
their object or tending to obstruct the operation of the law in
question, and announcing that all lawful ways and means would be
strictly put in execution for bringing to justice the infractors
thereof and securing obedience thereto.

Measures have also been taken for the prosecution of offenders, and
Congress may be assured that nothing within constitutional and legal
limits which may depend upon me shall be wanting to assert and maintain
the just authority of the laws. In fulfilling this trust I shall count
entirely upon the full cooperation of the other departments of the
Government and upon the zealous support of all good citizens.

I can not forbear to bring again into the view of the Legislature the
subject of a revision of the judiciary system. A representation from the
judges of the Supreme Court, which will be laid before you, points out
some of the inconveniences that are experienced. In the course of the
execution of the laws considerations arise out of the structure of that
system which in some cases tend to relax their efficacy. As connected
with this subject, provisions to facilitate the taking of bail upon
processes out of the courts of the United States and a supplementary
definition of offenses against the Constitution and laws of the Union
and of the punishment for such offenses will, it is presumed, be found
worthy of particular attention.

Observations on the value of peace with other nations are unnecessary.
It would be wise, however, by timely provisions to guard against those
acts of our own citizens which might tend to disturb it, and to put
ourselves in a condition to give that satisfaction to foreign nations
which we may sometimes have occasion to require from them. I
particularly recommend to your consideration the means of preventing
those aggressions by our citizens on the territory of other nations, and
other infractions of the law of nations, which, furnishing just subject
of complaint, might endanger our peace with them; and, in general, the
maintenance of a friendly intercourse with foreign powers will be
presented to your attention by the expiration of the law for that
purpose, which takes place, if not renewed, at the close of the present

In execution of the authority given by the Legislature measures have
been taken for engaging some artists from abroad to aid in the
establishment of our mint. Others have been employed at home. Provision
has been made of the requisite buildings, and these are now putting into
proper condition for the purposes of the establishment. There has also
been a small beginning in the coinage of half dimes, the want of small
coins in circulation calling the first attention to them.

The regulation of foreign coins in correspondency with the principles
of our national coinage, as being essential to their due operation
and to order in our money concerns, will, I doubt not, be resumed and

It is represented that some provisions in the law which establishes
the post-office operate, in experiment, against the transmission of
newspapers to distant parts of the country. Should this, upon due
inquiry, be found to be the fact, a full conviction of the importance of
facilitating the circulation of political intelligence and information
will, I doubt not, lead to the application of a remedy.

The adoption of a constitution for the State of Kentucky has been
notified to me. The Legislature will share with me in the satisfaction
which arises from an event interesting to the happiness of the part of
the nation to which it relates and conducive to the general order.

It is proper likewise to inform you that since my last communication
on the subject, and in further execution of the acts severally making
provision for the public debt and for the reduction thereof, three new
loans have been effected, each for 3,000,000 florins - one at Antwerp, at
the annual interest of 4-1/2 per cent, with an allowance of 4 per cent
in lieu of all charges, and the other two at Amsterdam, at the annual
interest of 4 per cent, with an allowance of 5-1/2 per cent in one case
and of 5 per cent in the other in lieu of all charges. The rates of
these loans and the circumstances under which they have been made are
confirmations of the high state of our credit abroad.

Among the objects to which these funds have been directed to be applied,
the payment of the debts due to certain foreign officers, according to
the provision made during the last session, has been embraced.

_Gentlemen of the House of Representatives_:

I entertain a strong hope that the state of the national finances is
now sufficiently matured to enable you to enter upon a systematic and
effectual arrangement for the regular redemption and discharge of the
public debt, according to the right which has been reserved to the
Government. No measure can be more desirable, whet her viewed with an
eye to its intrinsic importance or to the general sentiment and wish
of the nation.

Provision is likewise requisite for the reimbursement of the loan which
has been made of the Bank of the United States, pursuant to the eleventh
section of the act by which it is incorporated. In fulfilling the public
stipulations in this particular it is expected a valuable saving will
be made.

Appropriations for the current service of the ensuing year and for such
extraordinaries as may require provision will demand, and I doubt not
will engage, your early attention.

_Gentlemen of the Senate and of the House of Representatives_:

I content myself with recalling your attention generally to such
objects, not particularized in my present, as have been suggested
in my former communications to you.

Various temporary laws will expire during the present session. Among
these, that which regulates trade and intercourse with the Indian tribes
will merit particular notice.

The results of your common deliberations hitherto will, I trust, be
productive of solid and durable advantages to our constituents, such
as, by conciliating more and more their ultimate suffrage, will tend
to strengthen and confirm their attachment to that Constitution of
Government upon which, under Divine Providence, materially depend their
union, their safety, and their happiness.

Still further to promote and secure these inestimable ends there is
nothing which can have a more powerful tendency than the careful
cultivation of harmony, combined with a due regard to stability,
in the public councils.




Accept, sir, our grateful acknowledgments for your address at the
opening of the present session. We participate with you in the
satisfaction arising from the continuance of the general prosperity of
the nation, but it is not without the most sincere concern that we are
informed that the reiterated efforts which have been made to establish
peace with the hostile Indians have hitherto failed to accomplish that
desired object. Hoping that the measures still depending may prove more
successful than those which have preceded them, we shall nevertheless
concur in every necessary preparation for the alternative, and should
the Indians on either side of the Ohio persist in their hostilities,
fidelity to the Union, as well as affection for our fellow-citizens on
the frontiers, will insure our decided cooperation in every measure
which shall be deemed requisite for their protection and safety.

At the same time that we avow the obligation of the Government to afford
its protection to every part of the Union, we can not refrain from
expressing our regret that even a small portion of our fellow-citizens
in any quarter of it should have combined to oppose the operation of the
law for the collection of duties on spirits distilled within the United
States, a law repeatedly sanctioned by the authority of the nation, and
at this juncture materially connected with the safety and protection of
those who oppose it. Should the means already adopted fail in securing
obedience to this law, such further measures as may be thought necessary
to carry the same into complete operation can not fail to receive the
approbation of the Legislature and the support of every patriotic

It yields us particular pleasure to learn that the productiveness of the
revenue of the present year will probably supersede the necessity of any
additional tax for the service of the next.

The organization of the government of the State of Kentucky being an
event peculiarly interesting to a part of our fellow-citizens and
conducive to the general order, affords us particular satisfaction.

We are happy to learn that the high state of our credit abroad has been
evinced by the terms on which the new loans have been negotiated.

In the course of the session we shall proceed to take into consideration
the several objects which you have been pleased to recommend to our
attention, and keeping in view the importance of union and stability in
the public councils, we shall labor to render our decisions conducive to
the safety and happiness of our country.

We repeat with pleasure our assurances of confidence in your
Administration and our ardent wish that your unabated zeal for the
public good may be rewarded by the durable prosperity of the nation,
and every ingredient of personal happiness.


_President pro tempore_.

NOVEMBER 9, 1792.


I derive much pleasure, gentlemen, from your very satisfactory address.
The renewed assurances of your confidence in my Administration and the
expression of your wish for my personal happiness claim and receive
my particular acknowledgments. In my future endeavor for the public
welfare, to which my duty may call me, I shall not cease to count
upon the firm, enlightened, and patriotic support of the Senate.


NOVEMBER 9, 1792.


SIR: The House of Representatives, who always feel a satisfaction
in meeting you, are much concerned that the occasion for mutual
felicitation afforded by the circumstances favorable to the national
prosperity should be abated by a continuance of the hostile spirit of
many of the Indian tribes, and particularly that the reiterated efforts
for effecting a general pacification with them should have issued in
new proofs of their persevering enmity and the barbarous sacrifice of
citizens who, as the messengers of peace, were distinguishing themselves
by their zeal for the public service. In our deliberations on this
important department of our affairs we shall be disposed to pursue every
measure that may be dictated by the sincerest desire, on one hand, of
cultivating peace and manifesting by every practicable regulation our
benevolent regard for the welfare of those misguided people, and by the
duty we feel, on the other, to provide effectually for the safety and
protection of our fellow-citizens.

While with regret we learn that symptoms of opposition to the law
imposing duties on spirits distilled within the United States have
manifested themselves, we reflect with consolation that they are
confined to a small portion of our fellow-citizens. It is not more
essential to the preservation of true liberty that a government should
be always ready to listen to the representations of its constituents and
to accommodate its measures to the sentiments and wishes of every part
of them, as far as will consist with the good of the whole, than it is
that the just authority of the laws should be steadfastly maintained.
Under this impression every department of the Government and all good
citizens must approve the measures you have taken and the purpose you
have formed to execute this part of your trust with firmness and energy;
and be assured, sir, of every constitutional aid and cooperation which
may become requisite on our part. And we hope that, while the progress
of contentment under the law in question is as obvious as it is
rational, no particular part of the community may be permitted to
withdraw from the general burthens of the country by a conduct as
irreconcilable to national justice as it is inconsistent with public

The productive state of the public revenue and the confirmation of the
credit of the United States abroad, evinced by the loans at Antwerp
and Amsterdam, are communications the more gratifying as they enforce
the obligation to enter on systematic and effectual arrangements for
discharging the public debt as fast as the conditions of it will permit,
and we take pleasure in the opportunity to assure you of our entire
concurrence in the opinion that no measure can be more desirable,
whether viewed with an eye to the urgent wish of the community or the

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 13 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24

Online LibraryJames D. RichardsonA Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents Volume 1, part 1: George Washington → online text (page 13 of 24)