United States. Congress.

Abridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856. From Gales and Seatons' Annals of Congress; from their Register of debates; and from the official reported debates, by John C. Rives online

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Online LibraryUnited States. CongressAbridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856. From Gales and Seatons' Annals of Congress; from their Register of debates; and from the official reported debates, by John C. Rives → online text (page 29 of 191)
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they did overcome them. The patriotism of the



December, 1830.]

The President's Message.


people, directed by a deep couvlotion of the im-
portance of the TTiiion, produced mutual concession
and reciprocal forbearance. Strict right was merged
in a spirit of compromise, and the result has conse-
crated their disinterested devotion to the general
weal. Unless the American people have degener-
ated, the same result can be again effected, when-
ever experience points out the necessity of a resort
to the same means to uphold the fabric which their
fathers have reared. It is beyond the power of
man to make a system of government hke ours, or
any other, operate with precise equality upon States
situated like those which compose this confeder-
acy ; nor Is inequality always injustice. Every
State cannot expect to shape the measures of the
General Government to suit its own particular in-
terests. The causes which prevent it are seated in
the nature of things, and cannot be entirely coun-
teracted by human means. Mutual forbearance,
therefore, becomes a duty obligatory upon all ; and
we may, I am confident, count on a cheerful com-
pliance with this high injunction, on the part of our
constituents. It is not to be supposed that they
will object to make such comparatively inconsider-
able sacrifices for the preservation of rights and
privileges, which other less favored portions of the
world have in vain waded through seas of blood to

Our course is a safe one, if it be but faithfully
adhered to. Acquiescence in the constitutionally
expressed will of the majority, and the exercise of
that will in a spirit of moderation, justice, and
brotherly kindness, will constitute a cement which
would forever preserve our Union. Those who
cherish and inculcate sentiments like these, render
.a most essential service to their country ; whilst
those who seek to weaken their influence, are, how-
ever conscientious and praiseworthy their inten-
tions, in effect its worst enemies.

If the intelligence and influence of the country,
instead of laboring to foment sectional prejudices,
to be made subservient to party warfare, were, in
good faith, applied to the eradication of causes of
local discontent, by the improvement of our insti-
tutions, and by facilitating their adaptation to the
condition of the times, this task would prove one
of less difBculty. May we not hope that the ob-
vious interests of our common country, and the
dictates of an enlightened patriotism, will, in the
end, lead the public mind in that direction.

After all, the nature of the subject does not ad-
mit of a plan wholly free from objection. That
which has for some time been in operation is, per-
haps, the worst that could exist; and every ad-
vance that can be made in its improvement is a
matter eminently worthy of your most deliberate

It is very possible that one better calculated to
effect the objects in view may yet be devised. If
so, it is to be hoped that those who disapprove of
the past, and dissent from what is proposed for the
future, will feel it their duty to direct their atten-
tion to it, as they must be sensible that, unless
some fixed rule for the action of the Federal Gov-
ernment in this respect is established, the course
now attempted to be arrested will be again resorted
to. Any mode which is calculated to give the
greatest degree of effect and harmony to our legis-
lation upon the subject — which shall best serve to
keep the movements of the Federal Government
within the sphere intended by those who modelled

and those who adopted it — which shall lead to the
extinguishment of the national debt in the shortest
period, and impose the lightest burdens upon our
constituents, shall receive from me a cordial and
firm support.

Among the objects of great national concern, I
cannot omit to press again upon your attention that
part of the constitution which regulates the elec-
tion of President and Vice President. The neces-
sity for its amendment is made so clear to my mind
by the observation of its evils, and by the many
able discussions which they have elicited on the
floor of Congress and elsewhere, that I should be
wanting to my duty were I to withhold another
expression of my deep solicitude upon the subject.
Our system fortunately contemplates a recurrence
to first principles, differing, in this respect, from all
that have preceded it, and securing it, I trust,
equally against the decay and the commotions
which have marked the progress of other Govern-
ments. Our fellow-citizens, too, who, in proportion
to their love of liberty, keep a steady eye upon the
means of sustaining it, do not require to be re-
minded of the duty they owe to themselves to
remedy all essential defects in so vital a part of
their system. While they are sensible that every
evil attendant upon its operation is not necessarily
indicative of a bad organization, but may proceed
from temporary causes, yei the habitual presence,
or even a single instance of evils which can be
clearly traced to an organic defect, will not, I trust,
be overlooked through a too scrupulous veneration
for the work of their ancestors. The constitution
was an experiment committed to the virtue and
intelligence of the great mass of our countrymen,
in whose ranks the framers of it themselves were
to perform the part of patriotic observation and
scrutiny ; and if they have passed from the stage
of existence with an increased confidence in its
general adaptation to our condition, we should
learn from authority so high the duty of fortifying
the points in it which time proves to be exposed,
rather than be deterred from approaching them by
the suggestions of fear, or the dictates of misplaced

A provision which does not secure to the people
a direct choice of their Chief Magistrate, but has a
tendency to defeat their will, presented to my mind
such an inconsistency with the general spirit of our
institutions, that I was induced to suggest for your
consideration the substitute which appeared to me
at the same time the most likely to correct the evil,
and to meet the views of our constituents. The
most mature reflection since has added strength to
the beUef that the best interests of our country
require the speedy adoption of some plan calculated
to effect this end. A contingency which some-
times places it in the power of a single member of
the House of Representatives to decide an election
of so high and solemn a character, is unjust to the
people, and becomes, when it occurs, a source of
embarrassment to the individuals thus brought into
power, and a cause of distrust of the representative
body. Liable as the confederacy is, from its great
extent, to parties founded upon sectional interests,
and to a corresponding multiplication of candidates
for the Presidency, the tendency of the constitu-
tional reference to the House of Eepresentatives,
is, to devolve the election upon that body in almost
every instance, and, whatever choice may then be
made among the candidates thus presented to




The President's Message.

[December, 1830.

them, to swell the Influence of particular iuterests
to a degree inconsistent with the general good.
The consequences of this feature -of the constitu-
tion appear far more threatening to the peace and
integrity of the Union than any which I can con-
ceive as likely to result from the simple legislative
action of the Federal Government.

It was a leading object with the framers of the
constitution to keep as separate as possible the ac-
tion of the Legislative and Executive branches of
the Government. To secure this object, nothing
IS more essential than to preserve the former from
the temptations of private interest, and, therefore,
so to direct the patronage of the latter as not to
permit such temptations to be offered. Experience
abundantly demonstrates that every precaution in
this respect is a valuable safeguard of liberty, and
one which my reflections upon the tendencies of
our system incline me to think should be made still
stronger. It was for this reason that, in connection
with an amendment of the constitution, removing
all intermediate agency in the choice of the Presi-
dent, I recommended some restrictions upon the
re-eligibility of that officer, and upon the tenure of
offices generally. The reason still exists; and I
renew the recommendation, with an increased con-
fidence that its adoption will strengthen those
checks by which the constitution designed to se-
cure the independence of each department of the
Government, and promote the healthful and equit-
able administration of all the trusts which it has
created. The agent most likely to contravene this
design of the constitution is the Chief Magistrate.
In order, particularly, that his appointment may,
as far as possible, be placed beyond the reach of
any improper influences ; in order that he may ap-
proach the solemn responsibilities of the highest
office in the gift of a free people, uncommitted to
any other course than the strict line of constitu-
tional duty ; and that the securities for this inde-
pendence may be rendered as strong as the nature
of power, and the weakness of its possessor, will
admit, I cannot too earnestly invite your attention
to the propriety of promoting such an amendment
of the constitution as will render him ineligible
after one term of service.

It gives me pleasure to announce to Congress
that the benevolent policy of the Government,
steadily pursued for nearly thirty years, in relation
to the removal of the Indians beyond the white
settlements, is approaching to a happy consumma-
tion. Two important tribes have accepted the pro-
vision made for their removal at the last session of
Congress ; and it is believed that their example
will induce the remaining tribes, also, to seek the
same obvious advantages.

The consequences of a speedy removal will be
important to the United States, to individual States,
and to the Indians themselves. The pecuniary ad-
vantages which it promises to the Government are
the least of its recommendations. It puts an end
to all possible danger of collision between the au-
thorities of the General and State Governments, on
account of the Indians. It will place a dense and
civilized population in large tracts of country now
occupied by a few savage hunters. By opening the
whole territory between Tennessee on the north,
and Louisiana on the south, to the settlement of
the whites, it will incalculably strengthen the
southwestern frontier, and render the ac^acent
States strong enough to repel future invasion with-

out remote aid. It will relieve the whole State of
Mississippi, and the western part of Alabama, of
Indian occupancy, and enable those States to ad-
vance rapidly in population, wealth, and power.
It wiU separate the Indians from immediate con-
tact with settlements of whites; free them from
the power of the States ; enable them to pursue
happiness in their own way, and imder their own
rude institutions ; will retard the progress of decay,
which is lessening their numbers; and perhaps
cause them gradually, under the protection of the
Government, and through the influence of good
counsels, to cast off their savage habits, and be-
come an interesting, civilized, and Christian com-
munity. These consequences, some of them so
certain, and the rest so probable, make the com-
plete execution of the plan sanctioned by Congress
at their last session an object of much solicitude.

Toward the aborigines of the country no one can
indulge a more fiiendly feeling than myself, or
would go further in attempting to reclaim them
from their wandering habits, and make them a
happy and prosperous people. I have endeavored
to impress upon them my own solemn convictions
of the duties and powers of the General Govern-
ment in relation to the State authorities. For the
justice of the laws passed by the States within the
scope of their reserved powers, they are not respon-
sible to this Government. As individuals, we may
entertain and express our opinions of their acts ;
but, as a Government, we have as little right to
control them as we have to prescribe laws to for-
eign nations.

With a full understanding of the subject, the
Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes have, with great
unanimity, determined to avail themselves of the
liberal offers presented by the act of Congress, and
have agreed to remove beyond the Mississippi
Kiver. Treaties have been made with them, which,
in due season, will be submitted for consideration.
In negotiating these treaties, they were made to
understand their true condition ; and they have
preferred maintaining their independence in the
Western forests to submitting to the laws of the
States in which they now reside. These treaties
being probably the last which will ever be made
with them, are characterized by great liberality on
the part of the Government. They give the In^ana
a liberal sum in consideration of their removal, and
comfortable subsistence on their arrival at their
new homes. If it be their real interest to main-
tain a separate existence, they will there be at
liberty to do so without the inconveniences and
vexations to which they would unavoidably have
been subject in Alabama and Mississippi.

Humanity has often wept over the fate of the
aborigines of this country ; and philanthropy has
been long busily employed in devising means to
avert it. But its progress has never for a moment
been arrested ; and one by one have many power-
ful tribes disappeared from the earth. To follow
to the tomb the last of his race, and to tread on
the graves of extinct nations, excites melancholy
reflections. But true philanthropy reconciles the
mind to these vicissitudes, as it does to the extinc-
tion of one generation to make room for another.
In the monuments and fortresses of an unknown
people, spread over the extensive regions of the
West, we behold the memorials of a once powerful
race, which was exterminated, or has disappeared,
to make room for the existing savage tribes. Nor



December, 1830.]

The President's Message.


is there any thing in this, which, upon a compre-
hensive view of the general interests of the human
race, is to be regretted. Philanthropy could not
wish to see this continent restored to the condition
in which it was found by our forefathers. What
good man would prefer a country covered with
forests, and ranged by a few thousand savages, to
our extensive republic, studded with cities, towns,
and prosperous farms; embellished with all the
improvements which art can devise, or industry
execute ; occupied by more than twelve millions
of happy people, and filled with all the blessings of
liberty, civilization, and religion!

The present policy of the Government is but a
continuation of the same progressive change, by a
milder proqgss. The tribes which occupied the
countries now constituting the Eastern States were
annihilated, or have melted away, to make room
for the whites. The waves of population and civil-
ization are rolling to the westward; and we now
propose to acquire the countries occupied by the
red men of the south and west, by a fair exchange,
and, at the expense of the United States, to send
them to a land where their existence may be pro-
longed, and perhaps made perpetual. Doubtless it
will be painful to leave the graves of their fathers ;
but what do they more than our ancestors did, or
than our children are now doing ? To better their
condition in an unknown land, our forefathers left
all that was dear in earthly objects. Our children,
by thousands, yearly leave the land of their birth,
to seek new homes in distant regions. Does hu-
manity weep at these painful separations from
every thing, animate and inanimate, with which the
young heart has become entwined? Far from it.
it is rather a source of joy that our country affords
scope where our young population may range un-
constrained in body or in mind, developing the
power and faculties of man in their highest perfec-
tion. These remove hundreds, and almost thou-
sands of miles, at their own expense, purchase the
lands they occupy, and support themselves at their
new home from the moment of their arrival. Can
it be cruel in this Government, when, by events
which it cannot control, the Indian is made discon-
tented in his ancient home, to purchase his lands,
to give him a new and extensive territory, to pay
the expense of his removal, and support him a year
in his new abode ? How many thousands of our
own people would gladly embrace the opportunity
of removing to the West on- such conditions! If
the offers made to the Indians were extended to
them, they would be hailed with gratitude and joy !

And' is it supposed that the wandering savage
has a stronger attachment to his home than the
settled, civilized Christian ? Is it more afflicting to
him to leave the graves of his fathers, than it is to
our brothers and children? Rightly considered,
the policy of the General Government towards the
red man is not only liberal but generous. He is
unwilling to submit to the laws of the States, and
mingle with their population. To save him from
this alternative, or perhaps utter annihilation, the
General Government kindly offers him a new home,
and proposes to pay the whole expense of his re-
moval and settlement.

In the consummation of a policy originating at
an early period, and steadily pursued by every ad-
ministration within the present century — so just to
the States, and so generous to the Indians, the
Executive feels it has a right to expect the co-

operation of Congress, and of aU good and disin-
terested men. The States, moreover, have a right
to demand it. It was substantially a part of the
compact which made them members of our con-
federacy. With Georgia, there is an express con-
tract ; with the new States, an implied one, of
equal obligation. Why, in authorizing Ohio, In-
diana, Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi, and Alabama,
to form constitutions, and become separate States,
did Congress include within their limits extensive
tracts of Indian lands, and, in some instances,
powerful Indian tribes ? Was it not understood by
both parties that the power of the States was to be
co-extensive with their limits, and that, with all
convenient despatch, the General Government
should extinguish the Indian title, and remove
every obstruction to the complete jurisdiction of
the State Governments over the soil? Probably
not one of those States would have accepted a
separate existence — certainly it would never have
been granted by Congress — had it been understood
that they were to be confined forever to those
small portions of their nominal territory, the In-
dian title to which had at the time been extin-

It is, therefore, a duty which this Government
owes to the new States, to extinguish, as soon as
possible, the Indian title to all lands which Con-
gress themselves have included within their limits.
When this is done, the duties of the General Gov-
ernment in relation to the States and Indians with-
in their limits are at an end. The Indians may
leave the State or not, as they choose. The pur-
chase of their lands does not alter, in the least,
their personal relations with the State Government.
No act of the General Government has ever been
deemed necessary to give the States jurisdiction
over the persons of the Indians. That they possess,
by virtue of their sovereign power within their own
limits, in as fuU a manner before as after the pur-
chase of the Indian lands; nor can this Govern-
ment add to or diminish it.

May we not hope, therefore, that all good citi-
zens, and none more zealously than those who
think the Indians oppressed by subjection to the
laws of the States, wiU unite in attempting to open
the eyes of those children of the forest to their
true condition ; and, by a speedy removal, to re-
heve them from the evils, real or imaginary, pres-
ent or prospective, with which they may be sup-
posed to be threatened.

Among the numerous causes of congratulation,
the condition of our impbst revenue deserves spe-
cial mention, inasmuch as it promises the means of
extinguishing the public debt sooner than was an-
ticipated, and furnishes a strong illustration of the
practical effects of the present tariff upon our com-
mercial interests.

The object of the tariff is objected to by some as
unconstitutional ; and it is considered by almost all
as defective in many of its parts.

The power to impose duties on imports originally
belonged to the several States. The right to ad-
just those duties with a view to the encouragement
of domestic branches of industry is so completely
incidental to that power, that it is difficult to sup-
pose the existence of the one without the other.
The States have delegated their whole authority
over imports to the General Government, without
limitation or restriction, saving the very inconsid-
erable reservation relating to their inspection laws.




The PrmdmSi Message.

[Decembbb, 1830.

This authority having thus entirely passed from
the States, the right to exercise it for the purpose
of protection does not exist in them ; and, conse-
quently, if it be not possessed by the General Gov-
ernment,, it must be extinct. Our political system
would thus present the anomaly of a people stripped
of the right to foster their own industry, and to
counteract the most selfish and destructive policy
which might be adopted by foreign nations. This
surely cannot be the case ; this indispensable power,
thus surrendered by the States, must be within the
scope of the authority on the subject expressly
delegated to Congress.

In this conclusion, I am confirmed as well by the
opinions of Presidents Washington, Jefferson,
Madison, and Monroe, who have each repeatedly
recommended the exercise of this right under the
constitution, as by the uniform practice of Con-
gress, the continued acquiescence of the States,
and the general understanding of the people.

The difficulties of a more expedient adjustment
of the present tariff, although great, are far from
being insurmountable. Some are unwilling to im-
prove any of its parts, because they would destroy
the whole : others fear to touch the objectionable
parts, lest those they approve should be jeoparded.
I am persuaded that the advocates of these con-
flicting views do injustice to the American people,
and to their Representatives. The general interest
is the interest of each ; and my confidence is en-
tire, that, to ensure the adoption of such modifica-
tions of the tariff as the general interest requires,
it is only necessary that that interest should be

It is an infirmity of our nature to mingle our
interests and prejudices with the operation of our
reasoning powers, and attribute to the objects of
our likes and dislikes qualities they do not possess,
and effects they cannot produce. The effects of
the present tariff are doubtless overrated, both in
its evils and in its advantages. By one class of
reasoners, the reduced price of cotton and other
agricultural products is ascribed wholly to its influ-
ence ; and by another, the reduced price of manu-
factured articles. The probability is, that neither
opinion approaches the truth, and that both are
induced by that influence of interests and preju-
dices to which I have referred. The decrease of
prices extends throughout the commercial world,
embracing not only the raw material and the man-
ufactured article, but provisions and lands. The
cause must, therefore, be deeper and more per-
vading than the tariff of the United States. It
may, in a measure, be attributable to the increased
value of the precious metals, produced by a diminu-
tion of the supply, and an increase in the demand ;
while commerce has rapidly extended itself, and
population has augmented. The supply of gold
and silver, the general medium of exchange, has
been greatly interrupted by civil convulsions in the
countries from which they are principally drawn.
A part of the effect, too, is doubtless owing to an
increase of operatives and improvements in ma-
chinery. But, on the whole, it is questionable
whether the reduction in the price of lands, pro-
duce, and manufactures, has been greater than the
appreciation of the standard of value.

While the chief object of duties should be reve-

Online LibraryUnited States. CongressAbridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856. From Gales and Seatons' Annals of Congress; from their Register of debates; and from the official reported debates, by John C. Rives → online text (page 29 of 191)