Imágenes de páginas

of the 14th of June last, requesting the communication of all information and correspondence which may have been received in regard to any consular officer engaged in business in violation of law.


WASHINGTON City, February 15, 1859. To the House of Representatives:

I transmit herewith a report from the Attorney-General, in reply to the resolution of the House of Representatives adopted on the 22d ultimo, requesting the President of the United States to “report what information has been received by him, if any, in regard to the recent importation of Africans into the State of Georgia or any other State of this Union, and what steps have been taken to bring to trial and punishment the persons engaged in this inhuman violation of the laws of the United States and to prevent similar violations hereafter."


WASHINGTON, February 18, 1859. To the Senate and House of Representatives:

The brief period which remains of your present session and the great urgency and importance of legislative action before its termination for the protection of American citizens and their property whilst in transit across the Isthmus routes between our Atlantic and Pacific possessions render it my duty again to recall this subject to your notice. I have Theretofore presented it in my annual messages, both in December, 1857 and 1858, to which I beg leave to refer. In the latter I state that

The executive government of this country in its intercourse with foreign nations is limited to the employment of diplomacy alone. When this fails it can proceed no further. It can not legitimately resort to force without the direct authority of Congress, except in resisting ind repelling hostile attacks. It would have no authority to enter the territories of Nicaragua even to prevent the destruction of the transit and protect the lives and property of our own citizens on their passage. It is true that on a sudden emergency of this character the President would direct any armed force in the vicinity to march to their relief, but in doing this he would act upon his own responsibility.

Under these circumstances I earnestly recommend to Congress the passage of an act authorizing the President, under such restrictions as they may deem proper, to employ the land and naval forces of the United States in preventing the transit from being obstructed or closed by lawless violence and in protecting the lives and prop serty of American citizens traveling thereupon, requiring at the same time that these forces shall be withdrawn the moment the danger shall have passed away. Withsout such a provision our citizens will be constantly exposed to interruption in their progress and to lawless violence.

A similar necessity exists for the passage of such an act for the protection of the Panama and Tehuantepec routes.

Another subject, equally important, commanded the attention of the Senate at the last session of Congress.

The Republics south of the United States on this continent have, unfortunately, been frequently in a state of revolution and civil war ever since they achieved their independence. As one or the other party has prerailed and obtained possession of the ports open to foreign commerce, hey have seized and confiscated American vessels and their cargoes in an arbitrary and lawless manner and exacted money from American citizens by forced loans and other violent proceedings to enable them to carry on hostilities. The executive governments of Great Britain, France, and other countries, possessing the war-making power, can promptly employ the necessary means to enforce immediate redress for similar outrages upon their subjects. Not so the executive government of the United States.

If the President orders a vessel of war to any of these ports to demand prompt redress for outrages committed, the offending parties are well aware that in case of refusal the commander can do no more than remonstrate. He can resort to no hostile act. The question must then be referred to diplomacy, and in many cases adequate redress can never be obtained. Thus American citizens are deprived of the same protection under the flag of their country which the subjects of other nations enjoy. The remedy for this state of things can only be supplied by Congress, since the Constitution has confided to that body alone the power to make war. Without the authority of Congress the Executive can not lawfully direct any force, however near it may be to the scene of difficulty, to enter the territory of Mexico, Nicaragua, or New Granada for the purpose of defending the persons and property of American citizens, even though they may be violently assailed whilst passing in peaceful transit over the Tehuantepec, Nicaragua, or Panama routes. He can not, without transcending his constitutional power, direct a gun to be fired into a port or land a seaman or marine to protect the lives of our countrymeni on shore or to obtain redress for a recent outrage on their property. The banditti which infest our neighboring Republic of Mexico, always claiming to belong to one or other of the hostile parties, might make a sudden descent on Vera Cruz or on the Tehuantepec route, and he would have no power to employ the force on shipboard in the vicinity for their relief, either to prevent the plunder of our merchants or the destruction of the transit.

In reference to countries where the local authorities are strong enough to enforce the laws, the difficulty here indicated can seldom happen; but where this is not the case and the local authorities do not possess the physical power, even if they possess the will, to protect our citizens within their limits recent experience has shown that the American Executive should itself be authorized to render this protection. Such a grant of authority, thus limited in its extent, could in no just sense be regarded as a transfer of the war-making power to the Executive, but only as an appropriate exercise of that power by the body to whom it exclusively belongs. The riot at Panama in 1856, in which a great number of our citizens lost their lives, furnishes a pointed illustration of the necessity which may arise for the exertion of this authority.

I therefore earnestly recommend to Congress, on whom the responsibility exclusively rests, to pass a law before their adjournment conferring on the President the power to protect the lives and property of American citizens in the cases which I have indicated, under such restrictions and conditions as they may deem advisable. The knowledge that such a law exists would of itself go far to prevent the outrages which it is intended to redress and to render the employment of force unnecessary.

Without this the President may be placed in a painful position before the meeting of the next Congress. In the present disturbed condition of Mexico and one or more of the other Republics south of us, no person can foresee what occurrences may take place before that period. In case of emergency, our citizens, seeing that they do not enjoy the same protection with subjects of European Governments, will have just cause to complain. On the other hand, should the Executive interpose, and especially should the result prove disastrous and valuable lives be lost, he might subject himself to severe censure for having assumed a power not confided to him by the Constitution. It is to guard against this contingency that I now appeal to Congress.

Having thus recommended to Congress a measure which I deem necessary and expedient for the interest and honor of the country, I leave the whole subject to their wisdom and discretion.


WASHINGTON, February 18, 1859. To the Senate of the United States:

I transmit to the Senate, for its consideration with a view to ratification, two conventions between the United States and China, one providing for the adjustment of claims of citizens of the United States on the Government of that Empire, the other for the regulation of trade, both signed at Shanghai on the 8th of November last. A copy of the dispatches of Mr. Reed to the Department of State on the subject is also herewith transmitted.


WASHINGTON City, February 25, 1859. To the House of Representatives:

I transmit herewith a report from the Secretary of the Navy, with the accompanying documents, in obedience to the resolution of the House of Representatives adopted on the 28th of January, requesting the President of the United States “to communicate to this House a copy of all instructions given to the commanders of our African squadron since the ratification of the treaty of 1842, called the Washington treaty, with a copy or statement of whatever regulations were entered into by the commanders of the two squadrons for more fully accomplishing the object of the eighth article of said treaty," etc.


WASHINGTON, February 26, 1859. To the Senate of the United States:

In answer to the resolution of the Senate of the 23d instant, requesting a copy of certain letters of Horatio J. Perry, late secretary to the legation of the United States at Madrid, I transmit a report from the Secretary of State, with the documents which accompanied it.


WASHINGTON City, March 1, 1859. To the Senate of the United States:

I transmit herewith a report from the Secretary of War, with accompanying paper, in obedience to the resolution of the Senate adopted 23d February, requesting the President of the United States “to communicate to the Senate a copy of the opinion of Judge Brewer in the Great Falls land condemnation case, involving a claim for damages to be paid by the United States."


WASHINGTON, March 2, 1859. To the Senate of the United States:

I transmit to the Senate, in executive session, the report of the Secretary of State, with the accompanying documents, in reply to the resolution of the Senate adopted in open session on the 11th January last, relating to outrages committed on citizens of the United States on the Isthmus of Panama.


To the House of Representatives:

In compliance with the resolution of the House of Representatives of the 25th ultimo, I transmit a copy of the report of the special agent of the United States recently sent to Vancouvers Island and British Columbia.


[merged small][ocr errors]

WASHINGTON, March 3, 1859. To the Senate and House of Representatives:

An imperative sense of duty compels me to make an appeal to Congress to preserve the credit of the country. This is the last day of the present Congress, and no provision has yet been made for the payment of appropriations and to meet the outstanding Treasury notes issued under the authority of law. From the information which has already been communicated to Congress by the Secretary of the Treasury it is manifest that the ordinary receipts into the Treasury, even under the most favorable circumstances, will scarcely meet the ordinary expenses of the Government during the remainder of the present fiscal year, ending on the 30th of June. At that time nearly eighteen millions of Treasury notes will have become due, and many of those not yet due are daily paid for duties at the different ports, and there will be no means in the Treasury to meet them. Thus the country, which is full of resources, will be dishonored before the world, and the American people, who are a debt-paying people, will be disgraced by the omission on our part to do our duty. It is impossible to avoid this catastrophe unless we make provision this very day to meet the lawful demands on the public Treasury. If this were the first instead of the last session of a Congress, the case would be different. You might then be convened by proclamation for to-morrow morning. But there are now thirteen States of the Union, entitled to seventy-eight Representatives, in which none have been elected. It will therefore be impracticable for a large majority of these States to elect their Members before the Treasury shall be compelled to stop payment.

Under these circumstances I earnestly recommend to Congress to make provision within the few remaining hours of the session for the preservation of the public credit. The urgency of the case not only justifies but demands that, if necessary, this shall be done by a separate bill. We ought to incur no risk when the good faith of the country is at stake.



WASHINGTON, January 7, 1859. To the House of Representatives:

On the last day of the last session of Congress, as appears by the Journal of the House of Representatives, “a joint resolution in regard to the carrying the United States mails from Saint Josephs, Missouri, to Placerville, California,” was presented to me for my approval. This resolution

*The first ts a poatet veto.

« AnteriorContinuar »