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Inaugural Addresses

 


State of the Union Addresses

  Ulysses S. Grant
State of the Union Address 
December 4, 1871

To the Senate and House of Representatives:

In addressing my third annual message to the law-making branch of the
Government it is gratifying to be able to state that during the past year
success has generally attended the effort to execute all laws found upon
the statute books. The policy has been not to inquire into the wisdom of
laws already enacted, but to learn their spirit and intent and to enforce
them accordingly.

The past year has, under a wise Providence, been one of general prosperity
to the nation. It has, however, been attended with more than usual
chastisements in the loss of life and property by storm and fire. These
disasters have served to call forth the best elements of human nature in
our country and to develop a friendship for us on the part of foreign
nations which goes far toward alleviating the distresses occasioned by
these calamities. The benevolent, who have so generously shared their means
with the victims of these misfortunes, will reap their reward in the
consciousness of having performed a noble act and in receiving the grateful
thanks of men, women, and children whose sufferings they have relieved.

The relations of the United States with foreign powers continue to be
friendly. The year has been an eventful one in witnessing two great
nations, speaking one language and having one lineage, settling by peaceful
arbitration disputes of long standing and liable at any time to bring those
nations into bloody and costly conflict. An example has thus been set
which, if successful in its final issue, may be followed by other civilized
nations, and finally be the means of returning to productive industry
millions of men now maintained to settle the disputes of nations by the
bayonet and the broadside.

I transmit herewith a copy of the treaty alluded to, which has been
concluded since the adjournment of Congress with Her Britannic Majesty, and
a copy of the protocols of the conferences of the commissioners by whom it
was negotiated. This treaty provides methods for adjusting the questions
pending between the two nations.

Various questions are to be adjusted by arbitration. I recommend Congress
at an early day to make the necessary provision for the tribunal at Geneva
and for the several commissioners on the part of the United States called
for by the treaty.

His Majesty the King of Italy, the President of the Swiss Confederation,
and His Majesty the Emperor of Brazil have each consented, on the joint
request of the two powers, to name an arbiter for the tribunal at Geneva. I
have caused my thanks to be suitably expressed for the readiness with which
the joint request has been complied with, by the appointment of gentlemen
of eminence and learning to these important positions.

His Majesty the Emperor of Germany has been pleased to comply with the
joint request of the two Governments, and has consented to act as the
arbitrator of the disputed water boundary between the United States and
Great Britain.

The contracting parties in the treaty have undertaken to regard as between
themselves certain principles of public law, for which the United States
have contended from the commencement of their history. They have also
agreed to bring those principles to the knowledge of the other maritime
powers and to invite them to accede to them. Negotiations are going on as
to the form of the note by which the invitation is to be extended to the
other powers.

I recommend the legislation necessary on the part of the United States to
bring into operation the articles of the treaty relating to the fisheries
and to the other matters touching the relations of the United States toward
the British North American possessions, to become operative so soon as the
proper legislation shall be had on the part of Great Britain and its
possessions. It is much to be desired that this legislation may become
operative before the fishermen of the United States begin to make their
arrangements for the coming season.

I have addressed a communication, of which a copy is transmitted herewith,
to the governors of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan,
Illinois, and Wisconsin, urging upon the governments of those States,
respectively, the necessary action on their part to carry into effect the
object of the article of the treaty which contemplates the use of the
canals, on either side, connected with the navigation of the lakes and
rivers forming the boundary, on terms of equality, by the inhabitants of
both countries. It is hoped that the importance of the object and the
benefits to flow therefrom will secure the speedy approval and legislative
sanction of the States concerned.

I renew the recommendation for an appropriation for determining the true
position of the forty-ninth parallel of latitude where it forms the
boundary between the United States and the British North American
possessions, between the Lake of the Woods and the summit of the Rocky
Mountains. The early action of Congress on this recommendation would put it
in the power of the War Department to place a force in the field during the
next summer.

The resumption of diplomatic relations between France and Germany has
enabled me to give directions for the withdrawal of the protection extended
to Germans in France by the diplomatic and consular representatives of the
United States in that country. It is just to add that the delicate duty of
this protection has been performed by the minister and the consul-general
at Paris, and the various consuls in France under the supervision of the
latter, with great kindness as well as with prudence and tact. Their course
has received the commendation of the German Government, and has wounded no
susceptibility of the French.

The Government of the Emperor of Germany continues to manifest a friendly
feeling toward the United States, and a desire to harmonize with the
moderate and just policy which this Government maintains in its relations
with Asiatic powers, as well as with the South American Republics. I have
given assurances that the friendly feelings of that Government are fully
shared by the United States.

The ratifications of the consular and naturalization conventions with the
Austro-Hungarian Empire have been exchanged.

I have been officially informed of the annexation of the States of the
Church to the Kingdom of Italy, and the removal of the capital of that
Kingdom to Rome. In conformity with the established policy of the United
States, I have recognized this change. The ratifications of the new treaty
of commerce between the United States and Italy have been exchanged. The
two powers have agreed in this treaty that private property at sea shall be
exempt from capture in case of war between the two powers. The United
States have spared no opportunity of incorporating this rule into the
obligation of nations.

The Forty-first Congress, at its third session, made an appropriation for
the organization of a mixed commission for adjudicating upon the claims of
citizens of the United States against Spain growing out of the insurrection
in Cuba. That commission has since been organized. I transmit herewith the
correspondence relating to its formation and its jurisdiction. It is to be
hoped that this commission will afford the claimants a complete remedy for
their injuries.

It has been made the agreeable duty of the United States to preside over a
conference at Washington between the plenipotentiaries of Spain and the
allied South American Republics, which has resulted in an armistice, with
the reasonable assurance of a permanent peace.

The intimate friendly relations which have so long existed between the
United States and Russia continue undisturbed. The visit of the third son
of the Emperor is a proof that there is no desire on the part of his
Government to diminish the cordiality of those relations. The hospitable
reception which has been given to the Grand Duke is a proof that on our
side we share the wishes of that Government. The inexcusable course of the
Russian minister at Washington rendered it necessary to ask his recall and
to decline to longer receive that functionary as a diplomatic
representative. It was impossible, with self-respect or with a just regard
to the dignity of the country, to permit Mr. Catacazy to continue to hold
intercourse with this Government after his personal abuse of Government
officials, and during his persistent interferences, through various means,
with the relations between the United States and other powers. In
accordance with my wishes, this Government has been relieved of further
intercourse with Mr. Catacazy, and the management of the affairs of the
imperial legation has passed into the hands of a gentleman entirely
unobjectionable.

With Japan we continue to maintain intimate relations. The cabinet of the
Mikado has since the close of the last session of Congress selected
citizens of the United States to serve in offices of importance in several
departments of Government. I have reason to think that this selection is
due to an appreciation of the disinterestedness of the policy which the
United States have pursued toward Japan. It is our desire to continue to
maintain this disinterested and just policy with China as well as Japan.
The correspondence transmitted herewith shows that there is no disposition
on the part of this Government to swerve from its established course.

Prompted by a desire to put an end to the barbarous treatment of our
shipwrecked sailors on the Korean coast, I instructed our minister at
Peking to endeavor to conclude a convention with Korea for securing the
safety and humane treatment of such mariners.

Admiral Rodgers was instructed to accompany him with a sufficient force to
protect him in case of need.

A small surveying party sent out, on reaching the coast was treacherously
attacked at a disadvantage. Ample opportunity was given for explanation and
apology for the insult. Neither came. A force was then landed. After an
arduous march over a rugged and difficult country, the forts from which the
outrages had been committed were reduced by a gallant assault and were
destroyed. Having thus punished the criminals, and having vindicated the
honor of the flag, the expedition returned, finding it impracticable under
the circumstances to conclude the desired convention. I respectfully refer
to the correspondence relating thereto, herewith submitted, and leave the
subject for such action as Congress may see fit to take.

The Republic of Mexico has not yet repealed the very objectionable laws
establishing what is known as the "free zone" on the frontier of the United
States. It is hoped that this may yet be done, and also that more stringent
measures may be taken by that Republic for restraining lawless persons on
its frontiers. I hope that Mexico by its own action will soon relieve this
Government of the difficulties experienced from these causes.

Our relations with the various Republics of Central and South America
continue, with one exception, to be cordial and friendly.

I recommend some action by Congress regarding the overdue installments
under the award of the Venezuelan Claims Commission of 1866. The internal
dissensions of this Government present no justification for the absence of
effort to meet their solemn treaty obligations.

The ratification of an extradition treaty with Nicaragua has been
exchanged.

It is a subject for congratulation that the great Empire of Brazil has
taken the initiatory step toward the abolition of slavery. Our relations
with that Empire, always cordial, will naturally be made more so by this
act. It is not too much to hope that the Government of Brazil may hereafter
find it for its interest, as well as intrinsically right, to advance toward
entire emancipation more rapidly than the present act contemplates.

The true prosperity and greatness of a nation is to be found in the
elevation and education of its laborers.

It is a subject for regret that the reforms in this direction which were
voluntarily promised by the statesmen of Spain have not been carried out in
its West India colonies. The laws and regulations for the apparent
abolition of slavery in Cuba and Porto Rico leave most of the laborers in
bondage, with no hope of release until their lives become a burden to their
employers.

I desire to direct your attention to the fact that citizens of the United
States, or persons claiming to be citizens of the United States, are large
holders in foreign lands of this species of property, forbidden by the
fundamental law of their alleged country. I recommend to Congress to
provide by stringent legislation a suitable remedy against the holding,
owning or dealing in slaves, or being interested in slave property, in
foreign lands, either as owners, hirers, or mortgagors, by citizens of the
United States.

It is to be regretted that the disturbed condition of the island of Cuba
continues to be a source of annoyance and of anxiety. The existence of a
protracted struggle in such close proximity to our own territory, without
apparent prospect of an early termination, can not be other than an object
of concern to a people who, while abstaining from interference in the
affairs of other powers, naturally desire to see every country in the
undisturbed enjoyment of peace, liberty, and the blessings of free
institutions.

Our naval commanders in Cuban waters have been instructed, in case it
should become necessary, to spare no effort to protect the lives and
property of bona fide American citizens and to maintain the dignity of the
flag.

It is hoped that all pending questions with Spain growing out of the
affairs in Cuba may be adjusted in the spirit of peace and conciliation
which has hitherto guided the two powers in their treatment of such
questions.

To give importance to and to add to the efficiency of our diplomatic
relations with Japan and China, and to further aid in retaining the good
opinion of those peoples, and to secure to the United States its share of
the commerce destined to flow between those nations and the balance of the
commercial world, I earnestly recommend that an appropriation be made to
support at least four American youths in each of those countries, to serve
as a part of the official family of our ministers there. Our
representatives would not even then be placed upon an equality with the
representatives of Great Britain and of some other powers. As now situated,
our representatives in Japan and China have to depend for interpreters and
translators upon natives of those countries who know our language
imperfectly, or procure for the occasion the services of employees in
foreign business houses or the interpreters to other foreign ministers.

I would also recommend liberal measures for the purpose of supporting the
American lines of steamers now plying between San Francisco and Japan and
China, and the Australian line--almost our only remaining lines of ocean
steamers--and of increasing their services.

The national debt has been reduced to the extent of $86,057, 126.80 during
the year, and by the negotiation of national bonds at a lower rate of
interest the interest on the public debt has been so far diminished that
now the sum to be raised for the interest account is nearly $17,000,000
less than on the 1st of March, 1869. It was highly desirable that this
rapid diminution should take place, both to strengthen the credit of the
country and to convince its citizens of their entire ability to meet every
dollar of liability without bankrupting them. But in view of the
accomplishment of these desirable ends: of the rapid development of the
resources of the country; its increasing ability to meet large demands, and
the amount already paid, it is not desirable that the present resources of
the country should continue to be taxed in order to continue this rapid
payment. I therefore recommend a modification of both the tariff and
internal-tax law. I recommend that all taxes from internal sources be
abolished, except those collected from spirituous, vinous, and malt
liquors, tobacco in its various forms, and from stamps.

In readjusting the tariff I suggest that a careful estimate be made of the
amount of surplus revenue collected under the present laws, after providing
for the current expenses of the Government, the interest count, and a
sinking fund, and that this surplus be reduced in such a manner as to
afford the greatest relief to the greatest number. There are many articles
not produced at home, but which enter largely into general consumption
through articles which are manufactured at home, such as medicines
compounded, etc., etc., from which very little revenue is derived, but
which enter into general use. All such articles I recommend to be placed on
the "free list." Should a further reduction prove advisable, I would then
recommend that it be made upon those articles which can best bear it
without disturbing home production or reducing the wages of American
labor.

I have not entered into figures, because to do so would be to repeat what
will be laid before you in the report of the Secretary of the Treasury. The
present laws for collecting revenue pay collectors of customs small
salaries, but provide for moieties (shares in all seizures), which, at
principal ports of entry particularly, raise the compensation of those
officials to a large sum. It has always seemed to me as if this system must
at times work perniciously. It holds out an inducement to dishonest men,
should such get possession of those offices, to be lax in their scrutiny of
goods entered, to enable them finally to make large seizures. Your
attention is respectfully invited to this subject.

Continued fluctuations in the value of gold, as compared with the national
currency, has a most damaging effect upon the increase and development of
the country, in keeping up prices of all articles necessary in everyday
life. It fosters a spirit of gambling, prejudicial alike to national morals
and the national finances. If the question can be met as to how to get a
fixed value to our currency, that value constantly and uniformly
approaching par with specie, a very desirable object will be gained.

For the operations of the Army in the past year, the expense of maintaining
it, the estimate for the ensuing year, and for continuing seacoast and
other improvements conducted under the supervision of the War Department, I
refer you to the accompanying report of the Secretary of War.

I call your attention to the provisions of the act of Congress approved
March 3, 1869, which discontinues promotions in the staff corps of the Army
until provided for by law. I recommend that the number of officers in each
grade in the staff corps be fixed, and that whenever the number in any one
grade falls below the number so fixed, that the vacancy may be filled by
promotion from the grade below. I also recommend that when the office of
chief of a corps becomes vacant the place may be filled by selection from
the corps in which the vacancy exists.

The report of the Secretary of the Navy shows an improvement in the number
and efficiency of the naval force, without material increase in the expense
of supporting it. This is due to the policy which has been adopted, and is
being extended as fast as our material will admit, of using smaller vessels
as cruisers on the several stations. By this means we have been enabled to
occupy at once a larger extent of cruising grounds, to visit more
frequently the ports where the presence of our flag is desirable, and
generally to discharge more efficiently the appropriate duties of the Navy
in time of peace, without exceeding the number of men or the expenditure
authorized by law.

During the past year the Navy has, in addition to its regular service,
supplied the men and officers for the vessels of the Coast Survey, and has
completed the surveys authorized by Congress of the isthmuses of Darien and
Tehuantepec, and, under like authority, has sent out an expedition,
completely furnished and equipped, to explore the unknown ocean of the
north.

The suggestions of the report as to the necessity for increasing and
improving the materiel of the Navy, and the plan recommended for reducing
the personnel of the service to a peace standard, by the gradual abolition
of certain grades of officers, the reduction of others, and the employment
of some in the service of the commercial marine, are well considered and
deserve the thoughtful attention of Congress.

I also recommend that all promotions in the Navy above the rank of captain
be by selection instead of by seniority. This course will secure in the
higher grades greater efficiency and hold out an incentive to young
officers to improve themselves in the knowledge of their profession.

The present cost of maintaining the Navy, its cost compared with that of
the preceding year, and the estimates for the ensuing year are contained in
the accompanying report of the Secretary of the Navy.

The enlarged receipts of the Post-Office Department, as shown by the
accompanying report of the Postmaster-General, exhibit a gratifying
increase in that branch of the public service. It is the index of the
growth of education and of the prosperity of the people, two elements
highly conducive to the vigor and stability of republics. With a vast
territory like ours, much of it sparsely populated, but all requiring the
services of the mail, it is not at present to be expected that this
Department can be made self-sustaining. But a gradual approach to this end
from year to year is confidently relied on, and the day is not far distant
when the Post-Office Department of the Government will prove a much greater
blessing to the whole people than it is now.

The suggestions of the Postmaster-General for improvements in the
Department presided over by him are earnestly recommended to you, special
attention. Especially do I recommend favorable consideration of the plan
for uniting the telegraphic system of the United States with the postal
system. It is believed that by such a course the cost of telegraphing could
be much reduced, and the service as well, if not better, rendered. It would
secure the further advantage of extending the telegraph through portions of
the country where private enterprise will not construct it. Commerce,
trade, and, above all, the efforts to bring a people widely separated into
a community of interest are always benefited by a rapid intercommunication.
Education, the groundwork of republican institutions, is encouraged by
increasing the facilities to gather speedy news from all parts of the
country. The desire to reap the benefit of such improvements will stimulate
education. I refer you to the report of the Postmaster-General for full
details of the operations of last year and for comparative statements of
results with former years.

There has been imposed upon the executive branch of the Government the
execution of the act of Congress approved April 20, 1871, and commonly
known as the Kuklux law, in a portion of the State of South Carolina. The
necessity of the course pursued will be demonstrated by the report of the
Committee to Investigate Southern Outrages. Under the provisions of the
above act I issued a proclamation calling the attention of the people of
the United States to the same, and declaring my reluctance to exercise any
of the extraordinary powers thereby conferred upon me, except in case of
imperative necessity, but making known my purpose to exercise such powers
whenever it should become necessary to do so for the purpose of securing to
all citizens of the United States the peaceful enjoyment of the rights
guaranteed to them by the Constitution and the laws.

After the passage of this law information was received from time to time
that combinations of the character referred to in this law existed and were
powerful in many parts of the Southern States, particularly in certain
counties in the State of South Carolina.

Careful investigation was made, and it was ascertained that in nine
counties of that State such combinations were active and powerful,
embracing a sufficient portion of the citizens to control the local
authority, and having, among other things, the object of depriving the
emancipated class of the substantial benefits of freedom and of preventing
the free political action of those citizens who did not sympathize with
their own views. Among their operations were frequent scourgings and
occasional assassinations, generally perpetrated at night by disguised
persons, the victims in almost all cases being citizens of different
political sentiments from their own or freed persons who had shown a
disposition to claim equal rights with other citizens. Thousands of
inoffensive and well disposed citizens were the sufferers by this lawless
violence,

Thereupon, on the 12th of October, 1871, a proclamation was issued, in
terms of the law, calling upon the members of those combinations to
disperse within five days and to deliver to the marshal or military
officers of the United States all arms, ammunition, uniforms, disguises,
and other means and implements used by them for carrying out their unlawful
purposes.

This warning not having been heeded, on the 17th of October another
proclamation was issued, suspending the privileges of the writ of habeas
corpus in nine counties in that State.

Direction was given that within the counties so designated persons
supposed, upon creditable information, to be members of such unlawful
combinations should be arrested by the military forces of the United States
and delivered to the marshal, to be dealt with according to law. In two of
said counties, York and Spartanburg, many arrests have been made. At the
last account the number of persons thus arrested was 168. Several hundred,
whose criminality was ascertained to be of an inferior degree, were
released for the present. These have generally made confessions of their
guilt.

Great caution has been exercised in making these arrests, and,
notwithstanding the large number, it is believed that no innocent person is
now in custody. The prisoners will be held for regular trial in the
judicial tribunals of the United States.

As soon as it appeared that the authorities of the United States were about
to take vigorous measures to enforce the law, many persons absconded, and
there is good ground for supposing that all of such persons have violated
the law. A full report of what has been done under this law will be
submitted to Congress by the Attorney-General.

In Utah there still remains a remnant of barbarism, repugnant to
civilization, to decency, and to the laws of the United States. Territorial
officers, however, have been found who are willing to perform their duty in
a spirit of equity and with a due sense of the necessity of sustaining the
majesty of the law. Neither polygamy nor any other violation of existing
statutes will be permitted within the territory of the United States. It is
not with the religion of the self-styled Saints that we are now dealing,
but with their practices. They will be protected in the worship of God
according to the dictates of their consciences, but they will not be
permitted to violate the laws under the cloak of religion.

It may be advisable for Congress to consider what, in the execution of the
laws against polygamy, is to be the status of plural wives and their
offspring. The propriety of Congress passing an enabling act authorizing
the Territorial legislature of Utah to legitimize all children born prior
to a time fixed in the act might be justified by its humanity to these
innocent children. This is a suggestion only, and not a recommendation.

The policy pursued toward the Indians has resulted favorably, so far as can
be judged from the limited time during which it has been in operation.
Through the exertions of the various societies of Christians to whom has
been intrusted the execution of the policy, and the board of commissioners
authorized by the law of April 10, 1869, many tribes of Indians have been
induced to settle upon reservations, to cultivate the soil, to perform
productive labor of various kinds, and to partially accept civilization.
They are being cared for in such a way, it is hoped, as to induce those
still pursuing their old habits of life to embrace the only opportunity
which is left them to avoid extermination.

I recommend liberal appropriations to carry out the Indian peace policy,
not only because it is humane, Christian like, and economical, but because
it is right.

I recommend to your favorable consideration also the policy of granting a
Territorial government to the Indians in the Indian Territory west of
Arkansas and Missouri and south of Kansas. In doing so every right
guaranteed to the Indian by treaty should be secured. Such a course might
in time be the means of collecting most of the Indians now between the
Missouri and the Pacific and south of the British possessions into one
Territory or one State. The Secretary of the Interior has treated upon this
subject at length, and I commend to you his suggestions.

I renew my recommendation that the public lands be regarded as a heritage
to our children, to be disposed of only as required for occupation and to
actual settlers. Those already granted have been in great part disposed of
in such a way as to secure access to the balance by the hardy settler who
may wish to avail himself of them, but caution should be exercised even in
attaining so desirable an object.

Educational interest may well be served by the grant of the proceeds of the
sale of public lands to settlers. I do not wish to be understood as
recommending in the least degree a curtailment of what is being done by the
General Government for the encouragement of education.

The report of the Secretary of the Interior submitted with this will give
you all the information collected and prepared for publication in regard to
the census taken during the year 1870; the operations of the Bureau of
Education for the year; the Patent Office; the Pension Office; the Land
Office, and the Indian Bureau.

The report of the Commissioner of Agriculture gives the operations of his
Department for the year. As agriculture is the groundwork of our
prosperity, too much importance can not be attached to the labors of this
Department. It is in the hands of an able head, with able assistants, all
zealously devoted to introducing into the agricultural productions of the
nation all useful products adapted to any of the various climates and soils
of our vast territory, and to giving all useful information as to the
method of cultivation, the plants, cereals, and other products adapted to
particular localities. Quietly but surely the Agricultural Bureau is
working a great national good, and if liberally supported the more widely
its influence will be extended and the less dependent we shall be upon the
products of foreign countries.

The subject of compensation to the heads of bureaus and officials holding
positions of responsibility, and requiring ability and character to fill
properly, is one to which your attention is invited. But few of the
officials receive a compensation equal to the respectable support of a
family, while their duties are such as to involve millions of interest. In
private life services demand compensation equal to the services rendered; a
wise economy would dictate the same rule in the Government service.

I have not given the estimates for the support of Government for the
ensuing year, nor the comparative statement between the expenditures for
the year just passed and the one just preceding, because all these figures
are contained in the accompanying reports or in those presented directly to
Congress. These estimates have my approval.

More than six years having elapsed since the last hostile gun was fired
between the armies then arrayed against each other--one for the
perpetuation, the other for the destruction, of the Union--it may well be
considered whether it is not now time that the disabilities imposed by the
fourteenth amendment should be removed. That amendment does not exclude the
ballot, but only imposes the disability to hold offices upon certain
classes. When the purity of the ballot is secure, majorities are sure to
elect officers reflecting the views of the majority. I do not see the
advantage or propriety of excluding men from office merely because they
were before the rebellion of standing and character sufficient to be
elected to positions requiring them to take oaths to support the
Constitution, and admitting to eligibility those entertaining precisely the
same views, but of less standing in their communities. It may be said that
the former violated an oath, while the latter did not; the latter did not
have it in their power to do so. If they had taken this oath, it can not be
doubted they would have broken it as did the former class. If there are any
great criminals, distinguished above all others for the part they took in
opposition to the Government, they might, in the judgment of Congress, be
excluded from such an amnesty.

This subject is submitted for your careful consideration.

The condition of the Southern States is, unhappily, not such as all true
patriotic citizens would like to see. Social ostracism for opinion's sake,
personal violence or threats toward persons entertaining political views
opposed to those entertained by the majority of the old citizens, prevents
immigration and the flow of much-needed capital into the States lately in
rebellion. It will be a happy condition of the country when the old
citizens of these States will take an interest in public affairs,
promulgate ideas honestly entertained, vote for men representing their
views, and tolerate the same freedom of expression and ballot in those
entertaining different political convictions.

Under the provisions of the act of Congress approved February 21, 1871, a
Territorial government was organized in the District of Columbia. Its
results have thus far fully realized the expectations of its advocates.
Under the direction of the Territorial officers, a system of improvements
has been inaugurated by means of which Washington is rapidly becoming a
city worthy of the nation's capital. The citizens of the District having
voluntarily taxed themselves to a large amount for the purpose of
contributing to the adornment of the seat of Government, I recommend
liberal appropriations on the part of Congress, in order that the
Government may bear its just share of the expense of carrying out a
judicious system of improvements.

By the great fire in Chicago the most important of the Government buildings
in that city were consumed. Those burned had already become inadequate to
the wants of the Government in that growing city, and, looking to the near
future, were totally inadequate. I recommend, therefore, that an
appropriation be made immediately to purchase the remainder of the square
on which the burned buildings stood, provided it can be purchased at a fair
valuation, or provided that the legislature of Illinois will pass a law
authorizing its condemnation for Government purposes; and also an
appropriation of as much money as can properly be expended toward the
erection of new buildings during this fiscal year.

The number of immigrants ignorant of our laws, habits, etc., coming into
our country annually has become so great and the impositions practiced upon
them so numerous and flagrant that I suggest Congressional action for their
protection. It seems to me a fair subject of legislation by Congress. I can
not now state as fully as I desire the nature of the complaints made by
immigrants of the treatment they receive, but will endeavor to do so during
the session of Congress, particularly if the subject should receive your
attention.

It has been the aim of the Administration to enforce honesty and efficiency
in all public offices. Every public servant who has violated the trust
placed in him has been proceeded against with all the rigor of the law. If
bad men have secured places, it has been the fault of the system
established by law and custom for making appointments, or the fault of
those who recommend for Government positions persons not sufficiently well
known to them personally, or who give letters indorsing the characters of
office seekers without a proper sense of the grave responsibility which
such a course devolves upon them. A civil-service reform which can correct
this abuse is much desired. In mercantile pursuits the business man who
gives a letter of recommendation to a friend to enable him to obtain credit
from a stranger is regarded as morally responsible for the integrity of his
friend and his ability to meet his obligations. A reformatory law which
would enforce this principle against all indorsers of persons for public
place would insure great caution in making recommendations. A salutary
lesson has been taught the careless and the dishonest public servant in the
great number of prosecutions and convictions of the last two years.

It is gratifying to notice the favorable change which is taking place
throughout the country in bringing to punishment those who have proven
recreant to the trusts confided to them and in elevating to public office
none but those who possess the confidence of the honest and the virtuous,
who, it will always be found, comprise the majority of the community in
which they live.

In my message to Congress one year ago I urgently recommended a reform in
the civil service of the country. In conformity with that recommendation
Congress, in the ninth section of "An act making appropriations for sundry
civil expenses of the Government, and for other purposes," approved March
3, 1871, gave the necessary authority to the Executive to inaugurate a
civil-service reform, and placed upon him the responsibility of doing so.
Under the authority of said act I convened a board of gentlemen eminently
qualified for the work to devise rules and regulations to effect the needed
reform. Their labors are not yet complete, but it is believed that they
will succeed in devising a plan that can be adopted to the great relief of
the Executive, the heads of Departments, and members of Congress, and which
will redound to the true interest of the public service. At all events, the
experiment shall have a fair trial.

I have thus hastily summed up the operations of the Government during the
last year, and made such suggestions as occur to me to be proper for your
consideration. I submit them with a confidence that your combined action
will be wise, statesmanlike, and in the best interests of the whole
country.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 
 

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