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The result was, therefore, justly claimed as a decided verdict of the people iu support of the Government. It was so regarded by all parties throughout the country, and its effect upon their action was of marked importance. While it gave renewed vigor and courage to the friends of the Administration everywhere, it developed the division of sentiment in the ranks of the Opposition, which, in its incipient stages, had largely contributed to their defeat. The majority of that party were inclined to acquiesce in the deliberate judgment of the country, that the rebellion could be subdued only by successful war, and to sustain the Government in whatever measures might be deemed necessary for its effectual prosecution:— but the resolute resistance of some of its more conspicuous leaders withheld them from open action in this direction.
THE CONGRESS OF 1863-4.—MESSAGE OP THE PRESIDENT.—ACTION OP THE SESSION.—PROGRESS Itf RAISING TROOPS.
The President's Message.—The Proclamation Of Amnesty.—ExplanAtory Proclamation.—Debate On Slavery.—Oall For Troops.— General Blair's Resignation.—Diplomatic Correspondence.—Our Relations Witii England.—France And Mexico.—The President And The Monroe Doctrine.
Congress met on Monday, December 7, 1863. The House of Representatives was promptly organized by the election of Hon. Schuyler Colfax, a Republican from Indiana, to be Speaker—he receiving one hundred and one votes out of one hundred and eighty-one, the whole number cast. Mr. Cox, of Ohio, was the leading candidate of the Democratic opposition, but he received only fiftyone votes, the remaining twenty-nine being divided among several Democratic members. In the Senate, the Senators from West Virginia were admitted to their seats by a vote of thirty-six to five.
On the 9th, the President transmitted to both Houses the following Message :—
Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:
Another year of health and of sufficiently abundant harvests has passed. For these, and especially for the improved condition of our na tional affairs, our renewed and profoundest gratitude to God is due. We remain in peace and friendship with foreign Powers. The efforts of disloyal citizens of the United States to involve us in foreign wars to aid an inexcusable insurrection have been unavailing. -Her Britannic Majesty's Government, as was justly expected, have exercised their authority to prevent the departure of new hostile expeditions from British ports.
The Emperor of France has, by a like proceeding, promptly vindicated the neutrality which he proclaimed at the beginning of the contest.
Questions of great intricacy and importance have arisen out of the blockade^ and other belligerent operations, between the Government and several of the maritime Powers, but they have been discussed, and. as far as was possible, accommodated in a spirit of frankness, justice, and mutual good-will.
It is especially gratifying that our prize courts, by the impartiality of their adjudications, have commanded the respect and confidence of maritime Powers.
The supplemental treaty between the United States and Great Britain for the suppression of the African slave-trade, made on the 17th day of February last, has been duly ratified and carried into execution. It is believed that so far as American ports and American citizens are con cerned, that inhuman and odious traffic has been brought to an end.
I have thought it proper, subject to the approval of the Senate, to concur with the interested commercial Powers, in an arrangement for the liquidation of the Scheldt dues, upon the principles which have been heretofore adopted in regard to the imposts upon navigation in the waters of Denmark.
The long-pending controversy between this Government and that of Chili, touching the seizure at Sitana, in Peru, by Chilian officers, of a large amount in treasure, belonging to citizens of the United States, has been brought to a close by the award of His Majesty the King of the Belgians, to whose arbitration the question was referred by the parties.
The subject was thoroughly and patiently examined by that justly respected magistrate, and although the sum awarded to the claimants may not have been as large as they expected, there is no reason to distrust the wisdom of His Majesty's decision. That decision was promptly complied with by Chili when intelligence in regard to it reached that country.
The Joint Commission, under the act of the last session for carrying into effect the Convention with Peru on the subject of claims, has been organized at Lima, and is engaged in the business intrusted to it.
Difficulties concerning interoceanic transit through Nicaragua are in course of amicable adjustment.
In conformity with principles set forth in my last Annual Message, I have received a representative from the United States of Colombia, and have accredited a Minister to that Republic.
Incidents occurring in the progress of our civil war have forced upon my attention the uncertain state of international questions touching the rights of foreigners in this country and of United States citizens abroad.
In regard to some Governments, these rights are at least partially defined by treaties. In no instance, however, is it expressly stipulated that in the event of civil war a foreigner residing in this country, within the lines of the insurgents, is to be exempted from the rule which classes him as a belligerent, in whose behalf the Government of his country cannot expect any privileges or immunities distinct from that character. I regret to say, however, that such claims have been put forward, and, in some instances, in behalf of foreigners who have lived in the United States the greater part of their lives.
There is reason to believe that many persons born in foreign countries, who have declared their Intention to become citizens, or who have been ftilly naturalized, have evaded the military duty required of them by denying the fact, and thereby throwing upon the Government the burden of proof. It has been found difficult or impracticable to obtain this proof, from the want of guides to the proper sources of information. These might be supplied by requiring clerks of courts, where declarations of intention may be made, or naturalizations etfected, to send periodically lists of the names of the persons naturalized, or declaring their intention to become citizens, to the Secretary of the Interior, in whose department those names might be arranged and printed for general information. There is also reason to believe that foreigners frequently become citizens of the United States for the sole purpose of evading duties imposed by the laws of their native countries, to which, on becoming naturalized here, they at once repair, and though never returning to the United States, they still claim the interposition of this Government as citizens.
Many altercations and great prejudices have heretofore arisen out of this abuse. It is, therefore, submitted to your serious consideration. It might be advisable to fix a limit beyond which no citizen of the United States residing abroad may claim the interposition of his Government.
The right of suffrage has often been assumed and exercised by aliens under pretences of naturalization, which they have disavowed when drafted into the military service.
Satisfactory arrangements have been made with the Emperor of Russia, which, it is believed, will result in effecting a continuous line of telegraph through that empire from our Pacific coast.
I recommend to your favorable consideration the subject of an international telegraph across the Atlantic Ocean, and also of a telegraph between this capital and the national forts along the Atlantic seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico. Such communications, established with any reasonable outlay, would be economical as well as effective aids to the diplomatic, military, and naval service.
The Consular system of the United States, under the enactments of the last Congress, begins to be self-sustaining, and there is reason to hope that it may become entirely so with the increase of trade, which will ensue whenever peace is restored.
Our Ministers abroad have been faithful in defending American rights. In protecting commercial interests, our Consuls have necessarily had to encounter increased labors and responsibilities growing out of the war. These they have, for the most part, met and discharged with zeal and efficiency. This acknowledgment justly includes those Consuls who, residing in Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Japan, China, and other Oriental countries, are charged with complex functions and extraordinary powers. The condition of the several organized Territories is generally satisfactory, although Indian disturbances in New Mexico have not been entirelv suppressed.
The mineral resources of Colorado, Nevada, Idaho, New Mexico, and Arizona, are proving far richer than has been heretofore understood. T lay before you a communication on this subject fvom the Governor of New Mexico. I again submit to your consideration the expediency Of establishing a system for the encouragement of emigration. Although this source of national wealth and strength is again flowing with greater freedom than for several years before the insurrection occurred, there is still a great deficiency of laborers in every field of industry, especially in agriculture and in our mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals. While the demand for labor is thus increased here, tens of thousands of persons, destitute of remunerative occupation, are thronging our foreign consulates, and offering to emigrate to the United States, if essentia], but very cheap, assistance can be afforded them.' It is easy to see that under the sharp discipline of civil war the nation is beginning a new life. This noble effort demands the aid, and ought to receive the attention and support, of the Government.
Injuries unforeseen by the Government, and unintended, may in some cases have been inflicted on the subjects or citizens of foreign countries, both at sea and on land, by persons in the service of the United States. As this Government expects redress from other Powers when similar injuries are inflicted by persons in their service upon citizens of the United States, we must be prepared to do justice to foreigners. If the existing judicial tribunals are inadequate to this purpose, a special court may be authorized, with power to hear and decide such claims of the character referred to as may have arisen under treaties and the public law. Conventions for adjusting the claims by joint commission have been proposed to some Governments, but no definite answer to the proposition has yet been received from any.
In the course of the session I shall probably have occasion to request you to provide indemnification to claimants where decrees of restitution have been rendered, and damages awarded by Admiralty Courts; and in other cases, where this Government may be acknowledged to be liable in principle, and where the amount of that liability has been ascertained by an informal arbitration, the proper officers of the Treasury have deemed themselves required by the law of the United States upon the subject, to demand a tax upon the incomes of foreign Consuls in this country. While such a demand may not, in strictness, be in derogation of public law, or perhaps of any existing treaty between the United States and a foreign country, the expediency of so far modifying the act as to exempt from tax the income of such Consuls as are not citizens of the United States, derived from the emoluments of their office, or from property not situate in the United States, is submitted to your serious consideration. I make this suggestion upon the ground that a comity which ought to be reciprocated exempts our Consuls in all other countries from taxation to the extent thus indicated. The United States, I think, ought not to be exceptionally illiberal to international trade and commerce.