A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents Volume 1, part 2: John Adams online

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States, in the harbor of Charleston, on the 17th day of October last,
copies of which letter and depositions, and also of several other
depositions relative to the same subject, received from the collector
of Charleston, are herewith communicated.

Whenever the channels of diplomatical communication between the United
States and France shall be opened, I shall demand satisfaction for the
insult and reparation for the injury.

I have transmitted these papers to Congress not so much for the purpose
of communicating an account of so daring a violation of the territory of
the United States as to show the propriety and necessity of enabling the
Executive authority of Government to take measures for protecting the
citizens of the United States and such foreigners as have a right to
enjoy their peace and the protection of their laws within their limits
in that as well as some other harbors which are equally exposed.


UNITED STATES, _February 12, 1798_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives_:

In obedience to the law, I now present to both Houses of Congress my
annual account of expenditures from the contingent fund during the year
1797, by which it appears that on the 1st day of January last there
remained in the Treasury a balance of $15,494.24 subject to future
dispositions of Government.


UNITED STATES, _February 18, 1798_.

_Gentlemen of the House of Representatives_:

In the report of the Secretary of State and the documents herewith
transmitted will be found such information as is in our possession of
the losses recovered by the citizens of the United States under the
treaty made with Great Britain, which are now presented to the House of
Representatives in compliance with their request in their resolution of
the 1st of this month.


UNITED STATES, _February 20, 1798_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives_:

In obedience to the law of the United States of the 3d of March, 1797,
entitled "An act authorizing an expenditure and making an appropriation
for the prosecution of the claims of certain citizens of the United
States for property captured by the belligerent powers," I submit to
Congress the account exhibited to me by the Secretary of State with his
report of the 17th of this month.


UNITED STATES, _February 21, 1798_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate_:

Having received the original treaty concluded between the United States
and the Government of Tunis, I lay it before the Senate of the United
States whether they advise and consent to its ratification.


UNITED STATES, _February 23, 1798_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives_:

The inclosed memorial from the commissioners appointed under an act of
the United States entitled "An act for establishing the temporary and
permanent seat of the Government of the United States," representing
the situation and circumstances of the city of Washington, I take this
opportunity to present to both Houses of the Legislature and recommend
to their consideration. Alexander White, esq., one of those commissioners,
is now in this city, and will be able to give to Congress, or any of
their committees, any explanation or further information which the
subject may require.


UNITED STATES, _March 5, 1798_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives_:

The first dispatches from our envoys extraordinary since their arrival
at Paris were received at the Secretary of State's office at a late hour
last evening. They are all in a character which will require some days
to be deciphered, except the last, which is dated the 8th of January,
1798. The contents of this letter are of so much importance to be
immediately made known to Congress and to the public, especially to the
mercantile part of our fellow-citizens, that I have thought it my duty
to communicate them to both Houses without loss of time.


UNITED STATES, _March 12, 1798_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate_:

Insinuations having been repeatedly made in the name of the Court of
Sweden of an inclination to renew the connection between the United
States and that power, I sent, in the recess of the Senate, to our
minister at Berlin a full power to negotiate that business, with
such alterations as might be agreeable to both parties; but as that
commission, if not renewed with the advice and consent of the Senate,
will expire with the present session of Congress, I now nominate John
Quincy Adams to be a commissioner with full powers to negotiate a treaty
of amity and commerce with His Majesty the King of Sweden.


UNITED STATES, _March 19, 1798_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives_:

The dispatches from the envoys extraordinary of the United States to the
French Republic, which were mentioned in my message to both Houses of
Congress of the 5th instant, have been examined and maturely considered.

While I feel a satisfaction in informing you that their exertions for
the adjustment of the differences between the two nations have been
sincere and unremitted, it is incumbent on me to declare that I perceive
no ground of expectation that the objects of their mission can be
accomplished on terms compatible with the safety, the honor, or the
essential interests of the nation.

This result can not with justice be attributed to any want of moderation
on the part of this Government, or to any indisposition to forego
secondary interests for the preservation of peace. Knowing it to be
my duty, and believing it to be your wish, as well as that of the
great body of the people, to avoid by all reasonable concessions any
participation in the contentions of Europe, the powers vested in our
envoys were commensurate with a liberal and pacific policy and that high
confidence which might justly be reposed in the abilities, patriotism,
and integrity of the characters to whom the negotiation was committed.
After a careful review of the whole subject, with the aid of all the
information I have received, I can discern nothing which could have
insured or contributed to success that has been omitted on my part, and
nothing further which can be attempted consistently with maxims for
which our country has contended at every hazard, and which constitute
the basis of our national sovereignty.

Under these circumstances I can not forbear to reiterate the
recommendations which have been formerly made, and to exhort you to
adopt with promptitude, decision, and unanimity such measures as
the ample resources of the country afford for the protection of our
seafaring and commercial citizens, for the defense of any exposed
portions of our territory, for replenishing our arsenals, establishing
foundries and military manufactures, and to provide such efficient
revenue as will be necessary to defray extraordinary expenses and supply
the deficiencies which may be occasioned by depredations on our

The present state of things is so essentially different from that in
which instructions were given to the collectors to restrain vessels of
the United States from sailing in an armed condition that the principle
on which those orders were issued has ceased to exist. I therefore
deem it proper to inform Congress that I no longer conceive myself
justifiable in continuing them, unless in particular cases where there
may be reasonable ground of suspicion that such vessels are intended
to be employed contrary to law.

In all your proceedings it will be important to manifest a zeal, vigor,
and concert in defense of the national rights proportioned to the danger
with which they are threatened.


UNITED STATES, _April 3, 1798_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives_:

In compliance with the request of the House of Representatives expressed
in their resolution of the 2d of this month, I transmit to both Houses
those instructions to and dispatches from the envoys extraordinary of
the United States to the French Republic which were mentioned in my
message of the 19th of March last, omitting only some names and a few
expressions descriptive of the persons.

I request that they may be considered in confidence until the members
of Congress are fully possessed of their contents and shall have had
opportunity to deliberate on the consequences of their publication,
after which time I submit them to your wisdom.


UNITED STATES, _April 12, 1798_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate_:

A treaty with the Mohawk Nation of Indians has by accident lain long
neglected. It was executed under the authority of the Honorable Isaac
Smith, a commissioner of the United States. I now submit it to the
Senate for their consideration.


UNITED STATES, _May 3, 1798_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate_:

His Excellency John Jay, esq., governor of New York, has informed me
that the Oneida tribe of Indians have proposed to sell a part of their
land to the said State, and that the legislature at their late session
authorized the purchase, and to accomplish this object the governor has
desired that a commissioner may be appointed to hold a treaty with the
Oneida tribe of Indians, at which the agents of the State of New York
may agree with them on the terms of the purchase. I therefore nominate
Joseph Hopkinson, esq., of Pennsylvania, to be the commissioner to hold
a treaty with the said Oneida tribe of Indians for the purpose above


UNITED STATES, _June 21, 1798_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives_:

While I congratulate you on the arrival of General Marshall, one of our
late envoys extraordinary to the French Republic, at a place of safety,
where he is justly held in honor, I think it my duty to communicate to
you a letter received by him from Mr. Gerry, the only one of the three
who has not received his congé. This letter, together with another from
the minister of foreign relations to him of the 3d of April, and his
answer of the 4th, will shew the situation in which he remains - his
intentions and prospects.

I presume that before this time he has received fresh instructions (a
copy of which accompanies this message) to consent to no loans, and
therefore the negotiation may be considered at an end.

I will never send another minister to France without assurances that he
will be received, respected, and honored as the representative of a
great, free, powerful, and independent nation.


UNITED STATES, _June 27, 1798_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives_:

I have received a letter from His Excellency Thomas Mifflin, governor of
Pennsylvania, inclosing some documents which I judge it my duty to lay
before Congress without loss of time.

As my opinion coincides entirely with that of his excellency the
governor, I recommend the subject to the consideration of both Houses of
Congress, whose authority alone appears to me adequate to the occasion.


UNITED STATES, _July 2, 1798_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate_:

I nominate George Washington, of Mount Vernon, to be Lieutenant-General
and Commander in Chief of all the armies raised or to be raised in the
United States.


UNITED STATES, _July 13, 1798_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate_:

A resolution of both Houses of Congress authorizing an adjournment on
Monday, the 16th of this month, has been laid before me. Sensible of
the severity of the service in so long a session, it is with great
reluctance that I find myself obliged to offer any consideration which
may operate against the inclinations of the members; but certain
measures of Executive authority which will require the consideration of
the Senate, and which can not be matured, in all probability, before
Monday or Tuesday, oblige me to request of the Senate that they would
continue their session until Wednesday or Thursday.


UNITED STATES, _July 17, 1798_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate_:

Believing that the letter received this morning from General Washington
will give high satisfaction to the Senate, I transmit them a copy of it,
and congratulate them and the public on this great event - the General's
acceptance of his appointment as Lieutenant-General and Commander in
Chief of the Army.


MOUNT VERNON, _July 13, 1798_.


_President of the United States_.

DEAR SIR: I had the honor, on the evening of the 11th instant, to
receive from the hands of the Secretary of War your favor of the 7th,
announcing that you had, with the advice and consent of the Senate,
appointed me "Lieutenant-General and Commander in Chief of all the
armies raised or to be raised for the service of the United States."

I can not express how greatly affected I am at this new proof of public
confidence and the highly flattering manner in which you have been
pleased to make the communication. At the same time I must not conceal
from you my earnest wish that the choice had fallen upon a man less
declined in years and better qualified to encounter the usual
vicissitudes of war.

You know, sir, what calculation I had made relative to the probable
course of events on my retiring from office, and the determination I had
consoled myself with of closing the remnant of my days in my present
peaceful abode. You will therefore be at no loss to conceive and
appreciate the sensations I must have experienced to bring my mind to
any conclusion that would pledge me, at so late a period of life, to
leave scenes I sincerely love to enter upon the boundless field of
public action, incessant trouble, and high responsibility.

It was not possible for me to remain ignorant of or indifferent to
recent transactions. The conduct of the Directory of France toward our
country, their insidious hostility to its Government, their various
practices to withdraw the affections of the people from it, the evident
tendency of their acts and those of their agents to countenance and
invigorate opposition, their disregard of solemn treaties and the laws
of nations, their war upon our defenseless commerce, their treatment of
our ministers of peace, and their demands amounting to tribute could not
fail to excite in me corresponding sentiments with those my countrymen
have so generally expressed in their affectionate addresses to you.
Believe me, sir, no one can more cordially approve of the wise and
prudent measures of your Administration. They ought to inspire universal
confidence, and will no doubt, combined with the state of things, call
from Congress such laws and means as will enable you to meet the full
force and extent of the crisis.

Satisfied, therefore, that you have sincerely wished and endeavored to
avert war, and exhausted to the last drop the cup of reconciliation, we
can with pure hearts appeal to Heaven for the justice of our cause, and
may confidently trust the final result to that kind Providence who has
heretofore and so often signally favored the people of these United

Thinking in this manner, and feeling how incumbent it is upon every
person, of every description, to contribute at all times to his
country's welfare, and especially in a moment like the present, when
everything we hold dear and sacred is so seriously threatened, I have
finally determined to accept the commission of Commander in Chief of the
armies of the United States, with the reserve only that I shall not be
called into the field until the Army is in a situation to require my
presence or it becomes indispensable by the urgency of circumstances.

In making this reservation I beg it to be understood that I do not mean
to withhold any assistance to arrange and organize the Army which you
may think I can afford. I take the liberty also to mention that I
must decline having my acceptance considered as drawing after it any
immediate charge upon the public, or that I can receive any emoluments
annexed to the appointment before entering into a situation to incur

The Secretary of War being anxious to return to the seat of Government,
I have detained him no longer than was necessary to a full communication
upon the several points he had in charge.

With very great respect and consideration, I have the honor to be, dear
sir, your most obedient and humble servant,





As the safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially
depend on the protection and the blessing of Almighty God, and the
national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an indispensable duty
which the people owe to Him, but a duty whose natural influence is
favorable to the promotion of that morality and piety without which
social happiness can not exist nor the blessings of a free government
be enjoyed; and as this duty, at all times incumbent, is so especially
in seasons of difficulty or of danger, when existing or threatening
calamities, the just judgments of God against prevalent iniquity, are
a loud call to repentance and reformation; and as the United States of
America are at present placed in a hazardous and afflictive situation
by the unfriendly disposition, conduct, and demands of a foreign power,
evinced by repeated refusals to receive our messengers of reconciliation
and peace, by depredations on our commerce, and the infliction of
injuries on very many of our fellow-citizens while engaged in their
lawful business on the seas - under these considerations it has appeared
to me that the duty of imploring the mercy and benediction of Heaven
on our country demands at this time a special attention from its

I have therefore thought fit to recommend, and I do hereby recommend,
that Wednesday, the 9th day of May next, be observed throughout the
United States as a day of solemn humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that
the citizens of these States, abstaining on that day from their
customary worldly occupations, offer their devout addresses to the
Father of Mercies agreeably to those forms or methods which they have
severally adopted as the most suitable and becoming; that all religious
congregations do, with the deepest humility, acknowledge before God the
manifold sins and transgressions with which we are justly chargeable as
individuals and as a nation, beseeching Him at the same time, of His
infinite grace, through the Redeemer of the World, freely to remit all
our offenses, and to incline us by His Holy Spirit to that sincere
repentance and reformation which may afford us reason to hope for his
inestimable favor and heavenly benediction; that it be made the subject
of particular and earnest supplication that our country may be protected
from all the dangers which threaten it; that our civil and religious
privileges may be preserved inviolate and perpetuated to the latest
generations; that our public councils and magistrates may be especially
enlightened and directed at this critical period; that the American
people may be united in those bonds of amity and mutual confidence and
inspired with that vigor and fortitude by which they have in times past
been so highly distinguished and by which they have obtained such
invaluable advantages; that the health of the inhabitants of our land
may be preserved, and their agriculture, commerce, fisheries, arts, and
manufactures be blessed and prospered; that the principles of genuine
piety and sound morality may influence the minds and govern the lives of
every description of our citizens, and that the blessings of peace,
freedom, and pure religion may be speedily extended to all the nations
of the earth.

And finally, I recommend that on the said day the duties of humiliation
and prayer be accompanied by fervent thanksgiving to the Bestower
of Every Good Gift, not only for His having hitherto protected and
preserved the people of these United States in the independent enjoyment
of their religious and civil freedom, but also for having prospered them
in a wonderful progress of population, and for conferring on them many
and great favors conducive to the happiness and prosperity of a nation.


Given under my hand and the seal of the United States of America, at
Philadelphia, this 23d day of March, A.D. 1798, and of the Independence
of the said States the twenty-second.


By the President:
_Secretary of State_.

[From C.R. Adams's Works of John Adams, Vol. IX, p. 170.]


JULY 13, 1798.

The citizen Joseph Philippe Letombe having heretofore produced to the
President of the United States his commission as consul-general of the
French Republic within the United States of America, and another
commission as consul of the French Republic at Philadelphia; and, in
like manner, the citizen Rosier having produced his commission as
vice-consul of the French Republic at New York; and the citizen Arcambal
having produced his commission as vice-consul of the French Republic at
Newport; and citizen Theodore Charles Mozard having produced his
commission as consul of the French Republic within the States of New
Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island; and the President of the
United States having thereupon granted an exequatur to each of the
French citizens above named, recognizing them in their respective
consular offices above mentioned, and declaring them respectively free
to exercise and enjoy such functions, powers, and privileges as are
allowed to a consul-general, consuls, and vice-consuls of the French
Republic by their treaties, conventions, and laws in that case made and
provided; and the Congress of the United States, by their act passed the
7th day of July, 1798, having declared "that the United States are of
right freed and exonerated from the stipulations of the treaties and of
the consular convention heretofore concluded between the United States
and France, and that the same shall not henceforth be regarded as
legally obligatory on the Government or citizens of the United States,"
and by a former act, passed the 13th day of May, 1798, the Congress of
the United States having "suspended the commercial intercourse between
the United States and France and the dependencies thereof," which
commercial intercourse was the direct and chief object of the consular
establishment; and

Whereas actual hostilities have long been practiced on the commerce of
the United States by the cruisers of the French Republic under the
orders of its Government, which orders that Government refuses to revoke
or relax; and hence it has become improper any longer to allow the
consul-general, consuls, and vice-consuls of the French Republic above
named, or any of its consular persons or agents heretofore admitted in
these United States, any longer to exercise their consular functions:

These are therefore to declare that I do no longer recognize the said
citizen Letombe as consul-general or consul, nor the said citizens
Rosier and Arcambal as vice-consuls, nor the said citizen Mozard as
consul of the French Republic in any part of these United States, nor
permit them or any other consular persons or agents of the French
Republic heretofore admitted in the United States to exercise their
functions as such; and I do hereby wholly revoke the exequaturs
heretofore given to them respectively, and do declare them absolutely
null and void from this day forward.

In testimony whereof, etc.



UNITED STATES, _December 8, 1798_.

_Gentlemen of the Senate and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives_:

While with reverence and resignation we contemplate the dispensations
of Divine Providence in the alarming and destructive pestilence with
which several of our cities and towns have been visited, there is
cause for gratitude and mutual congratulations that the malady has
disappeared and that we are again permitted to assemble in safety at
the seat of Government for the discharge of our important duties. But
when we reflect that this fatal disorder has within a few years made
repeated ravages in some of our principal seaports, and with increased
malignancy, and when we consider the magnitude of the evils arising
from the interruption of public and private business, whereby the
national interests are deeply affected, I think it my duty to invite
the Legislature of the Union to examine the expediency of establishing

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Online LibraryUnknownA Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents Volume 1, part 2: John Adams → online text (page 5 of 10)