Imágenes de páginas

and rigorous action, and it contains within itself the power of extension to any useful limit: while, at the same time, it preserves that knowledge, both theoretical and practical, which education and experience alone can give; and which, if not acquired and preserved in time of peace, must be sought under great disadvantages in time of war.

The duties of the Engineer Corps press heavily upon that branch of the service, and the public interest requires an addition to its strength. The nature of the works in which the oflicers are engaged render necessary professional knowledge and experience, and there is no economy in comIrutting to them more duties than they can perform, or in assigning these to other persons temporarily employed, and too often, of necessity, without all the qualifications which such service demands. I recommend this subject to your attention, and also the proposition submitted at the last session of Congress, and now renewed, for a reorganization of the Topographical Corps. This reorganization can be effected without any addition to the present expenditure, and with much advantage to the public service. The branch of duties which devolves upon these officers is at all times interesting to the community, and the information furnished by them is useful in peace and war.

Much loss and inconvenience have been experienced in consequence of the failure of the bill containing the ordinary appropriations for fortifications, which passed one branch of the National Legislature at the last session, but was lost in the other. This failure was the more regretted, not only because it necessarily interrupted and delayed the progress of a system of national defence, projected immediately after the last war, and since steadily pursued, but also because it contained a contingent appropriation, inserted in accordance with the views of the Executive, in aid of this important object. and other branches of the national defence, some portions of which might have been most usefully applied during the past season. I invite your early attention to that part of the report of the Secretary of War which relates to this subject, and recommend an appropriation sufficiently Liberal to accelerate the armament of the fortifications, agreeably to the proposition submitted by him, and to place our whole Atlantic seaboard in a complete state of defence. A just regard to the permanent interests of the country evidently requires this measure, but there are also other reasons which, at the present juncture, give it peculiar force, and make it my duty to call to the subject your special consideration.

The present system of Military Education has been in operation sufficiently long to test its usefulness, and it has given to the army a valuable body of officers. It is not alone in the improvement, discipline, and operation of the troops. that these officers are employed. They are also extensively engaged in the administrative and fiscal concerns of the various matteis confided to the War Department; in the execution of the staff duties, usnally appertaining to military organization ; in the removal of the Indians, and in the disbursement of the various expenditures growing out of our Indian relations; in the formation of roads, and in the improvement of barbors and rivers : in the construction of fortifications; in the fabrication of much of the materiel required for the public defence; and in the preservation, distribution, and accountability of the whole; and in other miscellane. ous duties, not admitting of classification.

These diversified functions embrace very heavy expenditures of public money, and require fidelity, science, and business habits, in their execution ;

and a system which shall secure these qualifications, is demanded by the public interest. That this object has been in a great measure, obtained by the Military Academy, is shown by the state of the service, and by the prompt accountability which has generally followed the necessary advances. Like all other political systems, the present mode of military education, no doubt, has its imperfections, both of principle and practice; but I trust these can be improved by rigid inspections, and by legislative scrutiny, without destroying the institution itself.

Occurrences to which we, as well as all other nations are liable, both in our internal and external relations, point to the necessity of an efficient organization of the Militia. I am again induced, by the importance of the subject, to bring it to your attention. To suppress domestic violence, and to repel foreign invasion, should these calamities overtake us, we must rely, in the first instance, upon the great body of the community, whose will has instituted, and whose power must support, the Government. A large standing military force is not consonant to the spirit of our institutions, nor to the feelings of our countrymen; and the lessons of former days, and those also of our own times, show the danger, as well as the enormous expense, of these permancat and extensive military organizations. That just medium which avoids an inadequate preparation on one hand, and the danger and expense of a large force on the other, is what our constituents have a right to expect from their Government. This object can be attained only by the maintenance of a small military force, and by such an organization of the physical strength of the country as may bring this power into operation, whenever its services are required. A classification of the population offers the most obvious means of effecting this organization. Such a division may be made as will be just to all, by transferring each, al a proper period of life, from one class to another, and by calling first for the services of that class, whether for instruction or action, which, from age, is qualified for the duty, and may be called to perform it with least injury to themselves, or to the public. Should the danger ever become so inminent as to require additional force, the other classes in succession would be ready for the call. And if, in addition to this organization, voluntary associations were encouraged, and inducements held out for their formation, our militia would be in a state of efficient service. Now, when we are at peace, is the proper time to adjust and establish a practicable system. The object is certainly worth the experiment, and worth the ex: pense. No one appreciating the blessings of a republican government, can object to his share of the burden which such a plan may impose. Indeed, a moderate portion of the national funds could scarcely be better applied than in carrying into effect and continuing such an arrangement, and in giving the necessary elementary instruction. We are happily at peace with all the world. A sincere desire to continue so, and a fixed determination to give no just cause of offence to other nations, furnish, unfortunately, no certain grounds of expectation that this relation will be uninterrupted. With this determination to give no offence is associated a resolution, equally decided, tamely to submit to none. The armor and the attitude of de. fence afford the best security against those collisions which the ambition, or interest, or some other passion of nations, not more justifiable, is liable to produce. In many countries, it is considered unsafe to put arms into the hands of the people, and to instruct them in the elements of military knowledge. That fear can have no place here, when it is recollected that the

People are the sovereign power. Our Government was instituted, and is supported by the ballot-box, not by the musket. Whatever changes await it, still greater changes must be made in our social institutions, before our political system can yield to physical force. In every aspect, therefore, in ishich I can view the subject, I am impressed with the importance of a prompt and efficient organization of the militia.

The plan of removing the Aboriginal People who yet remain within the settled portions of the United States, to the country west of the Mississippi river, approaches its consummation. It was adopted on the most mature consideration of the condition of this race, and ought to be persisted in tili the olject is accomplished, and prosecuted with as much vigor as a just recard to their circumstances will permit, and as fast as their consent can be obtained. All preceding experiments for the improvement of the Indians Have failed. It seems now to be an established fact, that they cannot live in contact with a civilized community and prosper. Ages of fruitless endeavors have at length, brought us to a knowledge of this principle of interlonumunication with them. The past we cannot recall, but the future we can provide for. Independently of the treaty stipulations into which we hare entered with the various tribes, for the usufructuary rights they have ceded to us, no one can doubt the moral duty of the Government of the United States to protect, and if possible, to preserve and perpetuate, the scattered remnants of this race, which are left within our borders. In the discharge of this duty, an extensive region in the West has been assigned for their permanent residence. It has been divided into districts, and allotted among them. Many have already removed, and others are preparing to go; und with the exception of two small bands, living in Ohio and Indiana, not "gcerding fifteen hundred persons, and of the Cherokees, all the tribes on ile east side of the Mississippi, and extending from Lake Michigan to Florida, have entered into engagements which will lead to their transplantaion.

The plan for their removal and re-establishment is founded upon the knowledge we have gained of their character and habits, and has been dictated by a spirit of enlarged liberality. A territory exceeding in extent that relinquished has been granted to each tribe. Of its climate, fertility, and capacit: to support an Indian population, the representations are highly favorable. To these districts the Indians are removed at the expense of the United States; and, with certain supplies of clothing, arms, ammunition, and other indispensable articles, they are also furnished gratuitously with provisions for the period of a year after their arrival at their new homes. In that time, from the nature of the country, and of the products raised by them, they can subsist themselves by agricultural labor, if they choose to resort to that mode of life; if they do not, they are upon the skirts of the great prairies, where countless herds of buffalo roam, and a short time suffices to adapt their own habits to the changes which a change of the animals destined for their food may require. Ample arrangements have also been made for the support of schools: in some instances council houses and churches are to be erected, dwellings constructed for the chiefs, and mills for common use. Funds have been set apart for the maintenance of the poor; the most necessary mechanical arts have been introduced, and blacksmiths, gunsmiths, wheelwrights, millwrights, &c. are supported among them. Steel and iron, and sometimes salt, are purchased for them; and ploughs, and other farming ntensils, domestic animals, looms, spinning wheels, cards,

&c. are presented to them. And besides these beneficial arrangements, annuities are, in all cases, paid, amounting, in some instances, to more than thirty dollars for each individual of the tribe, and in all cases sufficiently great, it justly divided and prudently expended, to enable them, in addition to their own exertions, to live comfortably. And as a stimulus for exertion, it is now provided by law that “in all cases of the appointment of interpreters, or other persons employed for the benefit of the Indians, a preierence shall be given to persons of Indian descent, if such can be found who are properly qualified for the discharge of the duties."

Such are the arrangements for the physical comfort, and for tlie moral improvement, of the Indians. The necessary measures for their political advancemet, and for their separation from our citizens, have not been neg. lected. The pledge of the United States has been given by Congress, that the country destined for the residence of this people, shall be forever secured and guarantied to them." A country, west of Missouri and Arkansas, has been assigned to them, into which the white settlements are not to be pushed. No political communities can be formed in that extensive region, except those which are established by the Indians themselves, or by the United States for them, and with their concurrence. A barrier has thus been raised, for their protection against the encroachments of our citizens, and guarding the Indians, as far as possible, from those evils which have brought them to their present condition. Summary authority has been given, by law, to destroy all ardent spirits found in their country, without waiting the doubtful result and slow process of a legal seizure. I consider the absolute and unconditional interdiction of this article, among these people, as the first and great step in their melioration. Half-way measures will answer no purpose. These cannot successfully contend against the cupidity of the seller, and the overpowering appetite of the buyer. And the destructive effects of the traffic are marked in every page of the history of our Indian intercourse.

Some general legislation seems necessary for the regulation of the relations which will exist in this new state of things between the Government and people of the United States and these transplanted Indian tribes; and for the establishment among the latter, and with their own consent, of some principles of intercommunication, which their juxtaposition will call for; that moral may be substituted for physical force; the authority of a few and simple laws for the tomahawk; and that an end may be put to those bloody wars, whose prosecution seems to have made part of their social system.

Alter the further details of this arrangement are completed, with a very general supervision over them, they ought to be left to the progress of events. These. I indulge the hope, will secure their prosperity and improvement; and a large portion of the moral debt we owe them will then be paid

The Report from the Secretary of the Navy, showing the condition of that branch of the public service, is recommended to your special attention. It appears from it, that our naval force at present in commission, with all the activity which can be given to it, is inadequate to the protection of our rapidly increasing commerce. This consideration, and the more general one which regards this arm of the national defence as our best security against foreign aggressions, strongly urge the continuance of the measures which promote its gradual enlargement, and a speedy increase of the force

which has been heretofore employed abroad and at home. You will perceire, from the estimates which appear in the Report of the Secretary of the Savy, that the expenditures necessary to this increase of its force, though of considerable amount, are small compared with the benefits which they srill secure to the country.

As a means of strengthening this national arm, I also recommend to your particular attention the propriety of the suggestion which attracted the consideration of Congress at its last session, respecting the enlistment of boys at a suitable age in the service. In this manner a nursery of skilful and able-bodied seamen can be established, which will be of the greatest importanee. Next to the capacity to put afloat and arm the requisite number of ships, is the possession of the means to man them efficiently; and nothing seeins better calculated to aid this object than the measure proposed. As an auxiliary to the advantages derived from our extensive commercial marine, it would furnish us with a resource ample enough for all the exigencies which can be anticipated. Considering the state of our resources, it cannot be doubted that whatever provision the liberality and wisdom of Congress may now adopt, with a view to the perfect organization of this branch of our service, will meet the approbation of all classes of our citizeris.

By the Report of the Postmaster General, it appears that the revenue of that Department during the year ending on the 30th day of June last, exceeded its accruing responsibilities $236,206 ; and that the surplus of the present fiscal year is estimated at $476.227. It further appears that the debt of the Department, on the 1st day of July last, including the amount due to contractors for the quarter then just expired, was about $1,064,381, exceeding the available means about $23,700 ; and that, on the 1st instant, about $397,077 of this debt had been paid ; $409,991 out of postages accruing before July, and $187,086 out of postages aceruing since. In these payments are included $67,000 of the old debt due to banks. After making these payments, the Department had $73,000 in bank on the 1st instant. The pleasing assurance is given, that the Department is entirely free from embarrassment, and that, by collection of outstanding balances, and using the current surplus, the remaining portion of the bank debt, and most of the other debt, will probably be paid in April next, leaving thereatier a heavy amount to be applied in extending the mail facilities of the country. Reserving a considerable sum for the improvement of existing mail routes, it is stated that the Department will be able to sustain with perfect convenience an annual charge of $300,000 for the support of new routes, to commence as soon as they can be established and put in operation,

The measures adopted by the Postmaster General to bring the means of the Department into action, and to effect a speedy extinguishment of its debt, as well as to produce an efficient administration of its affairs, will be found detailed at length in his able and luminous report. Aided by a reorganization on the principles suggested, and such salutary provisions in the laws regulating its administrative duties as the wisdom of Congress may devise or approve, that important Department will soon attain a degree of usefulness proportioned to the increase of our population and the extension of our settlements.

Particular attention is solicited to that portion of the Report of the Postmaster General which relates to the carriage of the Mails of the United

« AnteriorContinuar »