State of the Union Address
To the Senate and House of Representatives:
There are few transactions in the administration of the Government that
are even temporarily held in the confidence of those charged with the conduct
of the public business. Every step taken is under the observation of an
intelligent and watchful people. The state of the Union is known from day
to day, and suggestions as to needed legislation find an earlier voice
than that which speaks in these annual communications of the President
Good will and cordiality have characterized our relations and correspondence
with other governments, and the year just closed leaves few international
questions of importance remaining unadjusted. No obstacle is believed to
exist that can long postpone the consideration and adjustment of the still
pending questions upon satisfactory and honorable terms. The dealings of
this Government with other states have been and should always be marked
by frankness and sincerity, our purposes avowed, and our methods free from
intrigue. This course has borne rich fruit in the past, and it is our duty
as a nation to preserve the heritage of good repute which a century of
right dealing with foreign governments has secured to us.
It is a matter of high significance and no less of congratulation that
the first year of the second century of our constitutional existence finds
as honored guests within our borders the representatives of all the independent
States of North and South America met together in earnest conference touching
the best methods of perpetuating and expanding the relations of mutual
interest and friendliness existing among them. That the opportunity thus
afforded for promoting closer international relations and the increased
prosperity of the States represented will be used for the mutual good of
all I can not permit myself to doubt. Our people will await with interest
and confidence the results to flow from so auspicious a meeting of allied
and in large part identical interests.
The recommendations of this international conference of enlightened
statesmen will doubtless have the considerate attention of Congress and
its cooperation in the removal of unnecessary barriers to beneficial intercourse
between the nations of America. But while the commercial results which
it is hoped will follow this conference are worthy of pursuit and of the
great interests they have excited, it is believed that the crowning benefit
will be found in the better securities which may be devised for the maintenance
of peace among all American nations and the settlement of all contentions
by methods that a Christian civilization can approve. While viewing with
interest our national resources and products, the delegates will, I am
sure, find a higher satisfaction in the evidences of unselfish friendship
which everywhere attend their intercourse with our people.
Another international conference having great possibilities for good
has lately assembled and is now in session in this capital. An invitation
was extended by the Government, under the act of Congress of July 9, 1888,
to all maritime nations to send delegates to confer touching the revision
and amendment of the rules and regulations governing vessels at sea and
to adopt a uniform system of marine signals. The response to this invitation
has been very general and very cordial. Delegates from twenty-six nations
are present in the conference, and they have entered upon their useful
work with great zeal and with an evident appreciation of its importance.
So far as the agreement to be reached may require legislation to give it
effect, the cooperation of Congress is confidently relied upon.
It is an interesting, if not, indeed, an unprecedented, fact that the
two international conferences have brought together here the accredited
representatives of thirty-three nations.
Bolivia, Ecuador, and Honduras are now represented by resident envoys
of the plenipotentiary grade. All the States of the American system now
maintain diplomatic representation at this capital.
In this connection it may be noted that all the nations of the Western
Hemisphere, with one exception, send to Washington envoys extraordinary
and ministers plenipotentiary, being the highest grade accredited to this
Government. The United States, on the contrary, sends envoys of lower grades
to some of our sister Republics. Our representative in Paraguay and Uruguay
is a minister resident, while to Bolivia we send a minister resident and
consul-general. In view of the importance of our relations with the States
of the American system, our diplomatic agents in those countries should
be of the uniform rank of envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary.
Certain missions were so elevated by the last Congress with happy effect,
and I recommend the completion of the reform thus begun, with the inclusion
also of Hawaii and Hayti, in view of their relations to the American system
I also recommend that timely provision be made for extending to Hawaii
an invitation to be represented in the international conference now sitting
at this capital.
Our relations with China have the attentive consideration which their
magnitude and interest demand. The failure of the treaty negotiated under
the Administration of my predecessor for the further and more complete
restriction of Chinese labor immigration, and with it the legislation of
the last session of Congress dependent thereon, leaves some questions open
which Congress should now approach in that wise and just spirit which should
characterize the relations of two great and friendly powers. While our
supreme interests demand the exclusion of a laboring element which experience
has shown to be incompatible with our social life, all steps to compass
this imperative need should be accompanied with a recognition of the claim
of those strangers now lawfully among us to humane and just treatment.
The accession of the young Emperor of China marks, we may hope, an era
of progress and prosperity for the great country over which he is called
The present state of affairs in respect to the Samoan Islands is encouraging.
The conference which was held in this city in the summer of 1887 between
the representatives of the United States, Germany, and Great Britain having
been adjourned because of the persistent divergence of views which was
developed in its deliberations, the subsequent course of events in the
islands gave rise to questions of a serious character. On the 4th of February
last the German minister at this capital, in behalf of his Government,
proposed a resumption of the conference at Berlin. This proposition was
accepted, as Congress in February last was informed.
Pursuant to the understanding thus reached, commissioners were appointed
by me, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, who proceeded
to Berlin, where the conference was renewed. The deliberations extended
through several weeks, and resulted in the conclusion of a treaty which
will be submitted to the Senate for its approval. I trust that the efforts
which have been made to effect an adjustment of this question will be productive
of the permanent establishment of law and order in Samoa upon the basis
of the maintenance of the rights and interests of the natives as well as
of the treaty powers.
The questions which have arisen during the past few years between Great
Britain and the United States are in abeyance or in course of amicable
On the part of the government of the Dominion of Canada an effort has
been apparent during the season just ended to administer the laws and regulations
applicable to the fisheries with as little occasion for friction as was
possible, and the temperate representations of this Government in respect
of cases of undue hardship or of harsh interpretations have been in most
cases met with measures of transitory relief. It is trusted that the attainment
of our just rights under existing treaties and in virtue of the concurrent
legislation of the two contiguous countries will not be long deferred and
that all existing causes of difference may be equitably adjusted.
I recommend that provision be made by an international agreement for
visibly marking the water boundary between the United States and Canada
in the narrow channels that join the Great Lakes. The conventional line
therein traced by the northwestern boundary survey years ago is not in
all cases readily ascertainable for the settlement of jurisdictional questions.
A just and acceptable enlargement of the list of offenses for which
extradition may be claimed and granted is most desirable between this country
and Great Britain. The territory of neither should become a secure harbor
for the evil doers of the other through any avoidable shortcoming in this
regard. A new treaty on this subject between the two powers has been recently
negotiated and will soon be laid before the Senate.
The importance of the commerce of Cuba and Puerto Rico with the United
States, their nearest and principal market, justifies the expectation that
the existing relations may be beneficially expanded. The impediments resulting
from varying dues on navigation and from the vexatious treatment of our
vessels on merely technical grounds of complaint in West India ports should
The progress toward an adjustment of pending claims between the United
States and Spain is not as rapid as could be desired.
Questions affecting American interests in connection with railways constructed
and operated by our citizens in Peru have claimed the attention of this
Government. It is urged that other governments in pressing Peru to the
payment of their claims have disregarded the property rights of American
citizens. The matter will be carefully investigated with a view to securing
a proper and equitable adjustment.
A similar issue is now pending with Portugal. The Delagoa Bay Railway,
in Africa, was constructed under a concession by Portugal to an American
citizen. When nearly completed the road was seized by the agents of the
Portuguese Government. Formal protest has been made through our minister
at Lisbon against this act, and no proper effort will be spared to secure
In pursuance of the charter granted by Congress and under the terms
of its contract with the Government of Nicaragua the Interoceanic Canal
Company has begun the construction of the important waterway between the
two oceans which its organization contemplates. Grave complications for
a time seemed imminent, in view of a supposed conflict of jurisdiction
between Nicaragua and Costa Rica in regard to the accessory privileges
to be conceded by the latter Republic toward the construction of works
on the San Juan River, of which the right bank is Costa Rican territory.
I am happy to learn that a friendly arrangement has been effected between
the two nations. This Government has held itself ready to promote in every
proper way the adjustment of all questions that might present obstacles
to the completion of a work of such transcendent importance to the commerce
of this country, and, indeed, to the commercial interests of the world.
The traditional good feeling between this country and the French Republic
has received additional testimony in the participation of our Government
and people in the international exposition held at Paris during the past
summer. The success of our exhibitors has been gratifying. The report of
the commission will be laid before Congress in due season.
This Government has accepted, under proper reserve as to its policy
in foreign territories, the invitation of the Government of Belgium to
take part in an international congress, which opened at Brussels on the
16th of November, for the purpose of devising measures to promote the abolition
of the slave trade in Africa and to prevent the shipment of slaves by sea.
Our interest in the extinction of this crime against humanity in the regions
where it yet survives has been increased by the results of emancipation
within our own borders.
With Germany the most cordial relations continue. The questions arising
from the return to the Empire of Germans naturalized in this country are
considered and disposed of in a temperate spirit to the entire satisfaction
of both Governments.
It is a source of great satisfaction that the internal disturbances
of the Republic of Hayti are at last happily ended, and that an apparently
stable government has been constituted. It has been duly recognized by
the United States.
A mixed commission is now in session in this capital for the settlement
of long-standing claims against the Republic of Venezuela, and it is hoped
that a satisfactory conclusion will be speedily reached. This Government
has not hesitated to express its earnest desire that the boundary dispute
now pending between Great Britain and Venezuela may be adjusted amicably
and in strict accordance with the historic title of the parties.
The advancement of the Empire of Japan has been evidenced by the recent
promulgation of a new constitution, containing valuable guaranties of liberty
and providing for a responsible ministry to conduct the Government.
It is earnestly recommended that our judicial rights and processes in
Korea be established on a firm basis by providing the machinery necessary
to carry out treaty stipulations in that regard.
The friendliness of the Persian Government continues to be shown by
its generous treatment of Americans engaged in missionary labors and by
the cordial disposition of the Shah to encourage the enterprise of our
citizens in the development of Persian resources.
A discussion is in progress touching the jurisdictional treaty rights
of the United States in Turkey. An earnest effort will be made to define
those rights to the satisfaction of both Governments.
Questions continue to arise in our relations with several countries
in respect to the rights of naturalized citizens. Especially is this the
case with France, Italy, Russia, and Turkey, and to a less extent with
Switzerland. From time to time earnest efforts have been made to regulate
this subject by conventions with those countries. An improper use of naturalization
should not be permitted, but it is most important that those who have been
duly naturalized should everywhere be accorded recognition of the rights
pertaining to the citizenship of the country of their adoption. The appropriateness
of special conventions for that purpose is recognized in treaties which
this Government has concluded with a number of European States, and it
is advisable that the difficulties which now arise in our relations with
other countries on the same subject should be similarly adjusted.
The recent revolution in Brazil in favor of the establishment of a republican
form of government is an event of great interest to the United States.
Our minister at Rio de Janeiro was at once instructed to maintain friendly
diplomatic relations with the Provisional Government, and the Brazilian
representatives at this capital were instructed by the Provisional Government
to continue their functions. Our friendly intercourse with Brazil has therefore
suffered no interruption.
Our minister has been further instructed to extend on the part of this
Government a formal and cordial recognition of the new Republic so soon
as the majority of the people of Brazil shall have signified their assent
to its establishment and maintenance.
Within our own borders a general condition of prosperity prevails. The
harvests of the last summer were exceptionally abundant, and the trade
conditions now prevailing seem to promise a successful season to the merchant
and the manufacturer and general employment to our working people.
The report of the Secretary of the Treasury for the fiscal year ending
June 30, 1889, has been prepared and will be presented to Congress. It
presents with clearness the fiscal operations of the Government, and I
avail myself of it to obtain some facts for use here.
The aggregate receipts from all sources for the year were $387,050,058.84,
derived as follows:
From customs $223, 832, 741.69
From internal revenue 130,881,513.92
From miscellaneous sources 32,335,803.23
The ordinary expenditures for the same period were $281,996,615.60,
and the total expenditures, including the sinking fund, were $329,579,929.25.
The excess of receipts over expenditures was, after providing for the sinking
For the current fiscal year the total revenues, actual and estimated
are $385,000,000, and the ordinary expenditures, actual and estimated,
are $293,000,000, making with the sinking fund a total expenditure of $341,321,116.99,
leaving an estimated surplus of $43,678,883.01.
During the fiscal year there was applied to the purchase of bonds, in
addition to those for the sinking fund, $90,456,172.35, and during the
first quarter of the current year the sum of $37,838,937.77, all of which
were credited to the sinking fund. The revenues for the fiscal year ending
June 30, 1891, are estimated by the Treasury Department at $385,000,000,
and the expenditures for the same period, including the sinking fund, at
$341,430,477.70. This shows an estimated surplus for that year of $43,569,522.30,
which is more likely to be increased than reduced when the actual transactions
are written up.
The existence of so large an actual and anticipated surplus should have
the immediate attention of Congress, with a view to reducing the receipts
of the Treasury to the needs of the Government as closely as may be. The
collection of moneys not needed for public uses imposes an unnecessary
burden upon our people, and the presence of so large a surplus in the public
vaults is a disturbing element in the conduct of private business. It has
called into use expedients for putting it into circulation of very questionable
propriety. We should not collect revenue for the purpose of anticipating
our bonds beyond the requirements of the sinking fund, but any unappropriated
surplus in the Treasury should be so used, as there is no other lawful
way of returning the money to circulation, and the profit realized by the
Government offers a substantial advantage.
The loaning of public funds to the banks without interest Upon the security
of Government bonds I regard as an unauthorized and dangerous expedient.
It results in a temporary and unnatural increase of the banking capital
of favored localities and compels a cautious and gradual recall of the
deposits to avoid injury to the commercial interests. It is not to be expected
that the banks having these deposits will sell their bonds to the Treasury
so long as the present highly beneficial arrangement is continued. They
now practically get interest both upon the bonds and their proceeds. No
further use should be made of this method of getting the surplus into circulation,
and the deposits now outstanding should be gradually withdrawn and applied
to the purchase of bonds. It is fortunate that such a use can be made of
the existing surplus, and for some time to come of any casual surplus that
may exist after Congress has taken the necessary steps for a reduction
of the revenue. Such legislation should be promptly but very considerately
I recommend a revision of our tariff law both in its administrative
features and in the schedules. The need of the former is generally conceded,
and an agreement upon the evils and inconveniences to be remedied and the
best methods for their correction will probably not be difficult. Uniformity
of valuation at all our ports is essential, and effective measures should
be taken to secure it. It is equally desirable that questions affecting
rates and classifications should be promptly decided.
The preparation of a new schedule of customs duties is a matter of great
delicacy because of its direct effect upon the business of the country,
and of great difficulty by reason of the wide divergence of opinion as
to the objects that may properly be promoted by such legislation. Some
disturbance of business may perhaps result from the consideration of this
subject by Congress, but this temporary ill effect will be reduced to the
minimum by prompt action and by the assurance which the country already
enjoys that any necessary changes will be so made as not to impair the
just and reasonable protection of our home industries. The inequalities
of the law should be adjusted, but the protective principle should be maintained
and fairly applied to the products of our farms as well as of our shops.
These duties necessarily have relation to other things besides the public
revenues. We can not limit their effects by fixing our eyes on the public
Treasury alone. They have a direct relation to home production, to work,
to wages, and to the commercial independence of our country, and the wise
and patriotic legislator should enlarge the field of his vision to include
all of these. The necessary reduction in our public revenues can, I am
sure, be made without making the smaller burden more onerous than the larger
by reason of the disabilities and limitations which the process of reduction
puts upon both capital and labor. The free list can very safely be extended
by placing thereon articles that do not offer injurious competition to
such domestic products as our home labor can supply. The removal of the
internal tax upon tobacco would relieve an important agricultural product
from a burden which was imposed only because our revenue from customs duties
was insufficient for the public needs. If safe provision against fraud
can be devised, the removal of the tax upon spirits used in the arts and
in manufactures would also offer an unobjectionable method of reducing
A table presented by the Secretary of the Treasury showing the amount
of money of all kinds in circulation each year from 1878 to the present
time is of interest. It appears that the amount of national-bank notes
in circulation has decreased during that period $114,109,729, of which
$37,799,229 is chargeable to the last year. The withdrawal of bank circulation
will necessarily continue under existing conditions. It is probable that
the adoption of the suggestions made by the Comptroller of the Currency,
namely, that the minimum deposit of bonds for the establishment of banks
be reduced and that an issue of notes to the par value of the bonds be
allowed, would help to maintain the bank circulation. But while this withdrawal
of bank notes has been going on there has been a large increase in the
amount of gold and silver coin in circulation and in the issues of gold
and silver certificates.
The total amount of money of all kinds in circulation on March 1, 1878,
was $805,793,807, while on October 1, 1889, the total was $1,405,018,000.
There was an increase of $293,417,552 in gold coin, of $57,554,100 in standard
silver dollars, of $72,311,249 in gold certificates, of $276,619,715 in
silver certificates, and of $14,073,787 in United States notes, making
a total of $713,976,403. There was during the same period a decrease of
$114,109,729 in bank circulation and of $642,481 in subsidiary silver.
The net increase was $599,224,193. The circulation per capita has increased
about $5 during the time covered by the table referred to.
The total coinage of silver dollars was on November 1, 1889, $343,638,001,
of which $283,539,521 were in the Treasury vaults and $60,098,480 were
in circulation. Of the amount in the vaults $277,319,944 were represented
by outstanding silver certificates, leaving $6,219,577 not in circulation
and not represented by certificates.
The law requiring the purchase by the Treasury of $2,000,000 worth of
silver bullion each month, to be coined into silver dollars of 412 1/2
grains, has been observed by the Department, but neither the present Secretary
nor any of his predecessors has deemed it safe to exercise the discretion
given by law to increase the monthly purchases to $4,000,000. When the
law was enacted (February 28, 1878) the price of silver in the market was
$1.204 per ounce, making the bullion value of the dollar 93 cents. Since
that time the price has fallen as low as 91.2 cents per ounce, reducing
the bullion value of the dollar to 70.6 cents. Within the last few months
the market price has somewhat advanced, and on the 1st day of November
last the bullion value of the silver dollar was 72 cents.
The evil anticipations which have accompanied the coinage and use of
the silver dollar have not been realized. As a coin it has not had general
use, and the public Treasury has been compelled to store it. But this is
manifestly owing to the fact that its paper representative is more convenient.
The general acceptance and the use of the silver certificate show that
silver has not been otherwise discredited. Some favorable conditions have
contributed to maintain this practical equality in their commercial use
between the gold and silver dollars; but some of these are trade conditions
that statutory enactments do not control and of the continuance of which
we can not be certain.
I think it is clear that if we should make the coinage of silver at
the present ratio free we must expect that the difference in the bullion
values of the gold and silver dollars will be taken account of in commercial
transactions; and I fear the same result would follow any considerable
increase of the present rate of coinage. Such a result would be discreditable
to our financial management and disastrous to all business interests. We
should not tread the dangerous edge of such a peril. And, indeed, nothing
more harmful could happen to the silver interests. Any safe legislation
upon this subject must secure the equality of the two coins in their commercial
I have always been an advocate of the use of silver in our currency.
We are large producers of that metal, and should not discredit it. To the
plan which will be presented by the Secretary of the Treasury for the issuance
of notes or certificates upon the deposit of silver bullion at its market
value I have been able to give only a hasty examination, owing to the press
of other matters and to the fact that it has been so recently formulated.
The details of such a law require careful consideration, but the general
plan suggested by him seems to satisfy the purpose--to continue the use
of silver in connection with our currency and at the same time to obviate
the danger of which I have spoken. At a later day I may communicate further
with Congress upon this subject.
The enforcement of the Chinese exclusion act has been found to be very
difficult on the northwestern frontier. Chinamen landing at Victoria find
it easy to pass our border, owing to the impossibility with the force at
the command of the customs officers of guarding so long an inland line.
The Secretary of the Treasury has authorized the employment of additional
officers, who will be assigned to this duty, and every effort will be made
to enforce the law. The Dominion exacts a head tax of $50 for each Chinaman
landed, and when these persons, in fraud of our law, cross into our territory
and are apprehended our officers do not know what to do with them, as the
Dominion authorities will not suffer them to be sent back without a second
payment of the tax. An effort will be made to reach an understanding that
will remove this difficulty.
The proclamation required by section 3 of the act of March 2, 1889,
relating to the killing of seals and other fur-bearing animals, was issued
by me on the 21st day of March, and a revenue vessel was dispatched to
enforce the laws and protect the interests of the United States. The establishment
of a refuge station at Point Barrow, as directed by Congress, was successfully
Judged by modern standards, we are practically without coast defenses.
Many of the structures we have would enhance rather than diminish the perils
of their garrisons if subjected to the fire of improved guns, and very
few are so located as to give full effect to the greater range of such
guns as we are now making for coast-defense uses. This general subject
has had consideration in Congress for some years, and the appropriation
for the construction of large rifled guns made one year ago was, I am sure,
the expression of a purpose to provide suitable works in which these guns
might be mounted. An appropriation now made for that purpose would not
advance the completion of the works beyond our ability to supply them with
fairly effective guns.
The security of our coast cities against foreign attacks should not
rest altogether in the friendly disposition of other nations. There should
be a second line wholly in our own keeping. I very urgently recommend an
appropriation at this session for the construction of such works in our
most exposed harbors.
I approve the suggestion of the Secretary of War that provision be made
for encamping companies of the National Guard in our coast works for a
specified time each year and for their training in the use of heavy guns.
His suggestion that an increase of the artillery force of the Army is desirable
is also, in this connection, commended to the consideration of Congress.
The improvement of our important rivers and harbors should be promoted
by the necessary appropriations. Care should be taken that the Government
is not committed to the prosecution of works not of public and general
advantage and that the relative usefulness of works of that class is not
overlooked. So far as this work can ever be said to be completed, I do
not doubt that the end would be sooner and more economically reached if
fewer separate works were undertaken at the same time, and those selected
for their greater general interest were more rapidly pushed to completion.
A work once considerably begun should not be subjected to the risks and
deterioration which interrupted or insufficient appropriations necessarily
The assault made by David S. Terry upon the person of Justice Field,
of the Supreme Court of the United States, at Lathtop, Cal., in August
last, and the killing of the assailant by a deputy United States marshal
who had been deputed to accompany Justice Field and to protect him from
anticipated violence at the hands of Terry, in connection with the legal
proceedings which have followed, suggest questions which, in my judgment,
are worthy of the attention of Congress.
I recommend that more definite provision be made by law not only for
the protection of Federal officers, but for a full trial of such cases
in the United States courts. In recommending such legislation I do not
at all impeach either the general adequacy of the provision made by the
State laws for the protection of all citizens or the general good disposition
of those charged with the execution of such laws to give protection to
the officers of the United States. The duty of protecting its officers,
as such, and of punishing those who assault them on account of their official
acts should not be devolved expressly or by acquiescence upon the local
Events which have been brought to my attention happening in other parts
of the country have also suggested the propriety of extending by legislation
fuller protection to those who may be called as witnesses in the courts
of the United States. The law compels those who are supposed to have knowledge
of public offenses to attend upon our courts and grand juries and to give
evidence. There is a manifest resulting duty that these witnesses shall
be protected from injury on account of their testimony. The investigations
of criminal offenses are often rendered futile and the punishment of crime
impossible by the intimidation of witnesses.
The necessity of providing some more speedy method for disposing of
the cases which now come for final adjudication to the Supreme Court becomes
every year more apparent and urgent. The plan of providing some intermediate
courts having final appellate jurisdiction of certain classes of questions
and cases has, I think, received a more general approval from the bench
and bar of the country than any other. Without attempting to discuss details,
I recommend that provision be made for the establishment of such courts.
The salaries of the judges of the district courts in many of the districts
are, in my judgment, inadequate. I recommend that all such salaries now
below $5,000 per annum be increased to that amount. It is quite true that
the amount of labor performed by these judges is very unequal, but as they
can not properly engage in other pursuits to supplement their incomes the
salary should be such in all cases as to provide an independent and comfortable
Earnest attention should be given by Congress to a consideration of
the question how far the restraint of those combinations of capital commonly
called "trusts" is matter of Federal jurisdiction. When organized, as they
often are, to crush out all healthy competition and to monopolize the production
or sale of an article of commerce and general necessity, they are dangerous
conspiracies against the public good, and should be made the subject of
prohibitory and even penal legislation.
The subject of an international copyright has been frequently commended
to the attention of Congress by my predecessors. The enactment of such
a law would be eminently wise and just.
Our naturalization laws should be so revised as to make the inquiry
into the moral character and good disposition toward our Government of
the persons applying for citizenship more thorough. This can only be done
by taking fuller control of the examination, by fixing the times for hearing
such applications, and by requiring the presence of some one who shall
represent the Government in the inquiry. Those who are the avowed enemies
of social order or who come to our shores to swell the injurious influence
and to extend the evil practices of any association that defies our laws
should not only be denied citizenship, but a domicile.
The enactment of a national bankrupt law of a character to be a permanent
part of our general legislation is desirable. It should be simple in its
methods and inexpensive in its administration.
The report of the Postmaster-General not only exhibits the operations
of the Department for the last fiscal year, but contains many valuable
suggestions for the improvement and extension of the service, which are
commended to your attention. No other branch of the Government has so close
a contact with the daily life of the people. Almost everyone uses the service
it offers, and every hour gained in the transmission of the great commercial
mails has an actual and possible value that only those engaged in trade
The saving of one day in the transmission of the mails between New York
and San Francisco, which has recently been accomplished, is an incident
worthy of mention.
The plan suggested of a supervision of the post-offices in separate
districts that shall involve instruction and suggestion and a rating of
the efficiency of the postmasters would, I have no doubt, greatly improve
A pressing necessity exists for the erection of a building for the joint
use of the Department and of the city post-office. The Department was partially
relieved by renting .outside quarters for a part of its force, but it is
again overcrowded. The building used by the city office never was fit for
the purpose, and is now inadequate and unwholesome.
The unsatisfactory condition of the law relating to the transmission
through the mails of lottery advertisements and remittances is clearly
stated by the Postmaster-General, and his suggestion as to amendments should
have your favorable consideration.
The report of the Secretary of the Navy shows a reorganization of the
bureaus of the Department that will, I do not doubt, promote the efficiency
In general, satisfactory progress has been made in the construction
of the new ships of war authorized by Congress. The first vessel of the
new Navy, the Dolphin, was subjected to very severe trial tests and to
very much adverse criticism; but it is gratifying to be able to state that
a cruise around the world, from which she has recently returned, has demonstrated
that she is a first-class vessel of her rate.
The report of the Secretary shows that while the effective force of
the Navy is rapidly increasing by reason of the improved build and armament
of the new ships, the number of our ships fit for sea duty grows very slowly.
We had on the 4th of March last 37 serviceable ships, and though 4 have
since been added to the list, the total has not been increased, because
in the meantime 4 have been lost or condemned. Twenty-six additional vessels
have been authorized and appropriated for; but it is probable that when
they are completed our list will only be increased to 42--a gain of 5.
The old wooden ships are disappearing almost as fast as the new vessels
are added. These facts carry their own argument. One of the new ships may
in fighting strength be equal to two of the old, but it can not do the
cruising duty of two. It is important, therefore, that we should have a
more rapid increase in the number of serviceable ships. I concur in the
recommendation of the Secretary that the construction of 8 armored ships,
3 gunboats, and 5 torpedo boats be authorized.
An appalling calamity befell three of our naval vessels on duty at the
Samoan Islands, in the harbor of Apia, in March last, involving the loss
of 4 officers and 47 seamen, of two vessels, the Trenton and the Vandalia,
and the disabling of a third, the Nipsic. Three vessels of the German navy,
also in the harbor, shared with our ships the force of the hurricane and
suffered even more heavily. While mourning the brave officers and men who
died facing with high resolve perils greater than those of battle, it is
most gratifying to state that the credit of the American Navy for seamanship,
courage, and generosity was magnificently sustained in the storm-beaten
harbor of Apia.
The report of the Secretary of the Interior exhibits the transactions
of the Government with the Indian tribes. Substantial progress has been
made in the education of the children of school age and in the allotment
of lands to adult Indians. It is to be regretted that the policy of breaking
up the tribal relation and of dealing with the Indian as an individual
did not appear earlier in our legislation. Large reservations held in common
and the maintenance of the authority of the chiefs and headmen have deprived
the individual of every incentive to the exercise of thrift, and the annuity
has contributed an affirmative impulse toward a state of confirmed pauperism.
Our treaty stipulations should be observed with fidelity and our legislation
should be highly considerate of the best interests of an ignorant and helpless
people. The reservations are now generally surrounded by white settlements.
We can no longer push the Indian back into the wilderness, and it remains
only by every suitable agency to push him upward into the estate of a self-supporting
and responsible citizen. For the adult the first step is to locate him
upon a farm, and for the child to place him in a school.
School attendance should be promoted by every moral agency, and those
failing should be compelled. The national schools for Indians have been
very successful and should be multiplied, and as far as possible should
be so organized and conducted as to facilitate the transfer of the schools
to the States or Territories in which they are located when the Indians
in a neighborhood have accepted citizenship and have become otherwise fitted
for such a transfer. This condition of things will be attained slowly,
but it will be hastened by keeping it in mind; and in the meantime that
cooperation between the Government and the mission schools which has wrought
much good should be cordially and impartially maintained.
The last Congress enacted two distinct laws relating to negotiations
with the Sioux Indians of Dakota for a relinquishment of a portion of their
lands to the United States and for dividing the remainder into separate
reservations. Both were approved on the same day--March 2. The one submitted
to the Indians a specific proposition; the other (section 3 of the Indian
appropriation act) authorized the President to appoint three commissioners
to negotiate with these Indians for the accomplishment of the same general
purpose, and required that any agreements made should be submitted to Congress
On the 16th day of April last I appointed Hon. Charles Foster, of Ohio,
Hon. William Warner, of Missouri, and Major-General George Crook, of the
United States Army, commissioners under the last-named law. They were,
however, authorized and directed first to submit to the Indians the definite
proposition made to them by the act first mentioned, and only in the event
of a failure to secure the assent of the requisite number to that proposition
to open negotiations for modified terms under the other act. The work of
the commission was prolonged and arduous, but the assent of the requisite
number was, it is understood, finally obtained to the proposition made
by Congress, though the report of the commission has not yet been submitted.
In view of these facts, I shall not, as at present advised, deem it necessary
to submit the agreement to Congress for ratification, but it will in due
course be submitted for information. This agreement releases to the United
States about 9,000,000 acres of land.
The commission provided for by section 14 of the Indian appropriation
bill to negotiate with the Cherokee Indians and all other Indians owning
or claiming lands lying west of the ninety-sixth degree of longitude for
the cession to the United States of all such lands was constituted by the
appointment of Hon. Lucius Fairchild, of Wisconsin, Hon. John F. Hartranft,
of Pennsylvania, and Hon. Alfred M. Wilson, of Arkansas, and organized
on June 29 last. Their first conference with the representatives of the
Cherokees was held at Tahlequah July 29, with no definite results. General
John F. Hartranft, of Pennsylvania, was prevented by ill health from taking
part in the conference. His death, which occurred recently, is justly and
generally lamented by a people he had served with conspicuous gallantry
in war and with great fidelity in peace. The vacancy thus created was filled
by the appointment of Hon. Warren G. Sayre, of Indiana.
A second conference between the commission and the Cherokees was begun
November 6, but no results have yet been obtained, nor is it believed that
a conclusion can be immediately expected. The cattle syndicate now occupying
the lands for grazing purposes is clearly one of the agencies responsible
for the obstruction of our negotiations with the Cherokees. The large body
of agricultural lands constituting what is known as the "Cherokee Outlet"
ought not to be, and, indeed, can not long be, held for grazing and for
the advantage of a few against the public interests and the best advantage
of the Indians themselves. The United States has now under the treaties
certain rights in these lands. These will not be used oppressively, but
it can not be allowed that those who by sufferance occupy these lands shall
interpose to defeat the wise and beneficent purposes of the Government.
I can not but believe that the advantageous character of the offer made
by the United States to the Cherokee Nation for a full release of these
lands as compared with other suggestions now made to them will yet obtain
for it a favorable consideration.
Under the agreement made between the United States and the Muscogee
(or Creek) Nation of Indians on the 19th day of January, 1889, an absolute
title was secured by the United States to about 3,500,000 acres of land.
Section 12 of the general Indian appropriation act approved March 2, 1889,
made provision for the purchase by the United States from the Seminole
tribe of a certain portion of their lands. The delegates of the Seminole
Nation, having first duly evidenced to me their power to act in that behalf,
delivered a proper release or conveyance to the United States of all the
lands mentioned in the act, which was accepted by me and certified to be
in compliance with the statute.
By the terms of both the acts referred to all the lands so purchased
were declared to be a part of the public domain and open to settlement
under the homestead law. But of the lands embraced in these purchases,
being in. the aggregate about 5,500,000 acres, 3,500,000 acres had already,
under the terms of the treaty of 1866, been acquired by the United States
for the purpose of settling other Indian tribes thereon and had been appropriated
to that purpose. The land remaining and available for settlement consisted
of 1,887,796 acres, surrounded on all sides by lands in the occupancy of
Indian tribes. Congress had provided no civil government for the people
who were to be invited by my proclamation to settle upon these lands, except
as the new court which had been established at Muscogee or the United States
courts in some of the adjoining States had power to enforce the general
laws of the United States.
In this condition of things I was quite reluctant to open the lands
to settlement; but in view of the fact that several thousand persons, many
of them with their families, had gathered upon the borders of the Indian
Territory with a view to securing homesteads on the ceded lands, and that
delay would involve them in much loss and suffering, I did on the 23d day
of March last issue a proclamation declaring that the lands therein described
would be open to settlement under the provisions of the law on the 22d
day of April following at 12 o'clock noon. Two land districts had been
established and the offices were opened for the transaction of business
when the appointed time arrived.
It is much to the credit of the settlers that they very generally observed
the limitation as to the time when they might enter the Territory. Care
will be taken that those who entered in violation of the law do not secure
the advantage they unfairly sought. There was a good deal of apprehension
that the strife for locations would result in much violence and bloodshed,
but happily these anticipations were not realized. It is estimated that
there are now in the Territory about 60,000 people, and several considerable
towns have sprung up, for which temporary municipal governments have been
organized. Guthrie is said to have now a population of almost 8,000. Eleven
schools and nine churches have been established, and three daily and five
weekly newspapers are published in this city, whose charter and ordinances
have only the sanction of the voluntary acquiescence of the people from
day to day.
Oklahoma City has a population of about 5,000, and is proportionately
as well provided as Guthrie with churches, schools, and newspapers. Other
towns and villages having populations of from 100 to 1,000 are scattered
over the Territory.
In order to secure the peace of this new community in the absence of
civil government, I directed General Merritt, commanding the Department
of the Missouri, to act in conjunction with the marshals of the United
States to preserve the peace, and upon their requisition to use the troops
to aid them in executing warrants and in quieting any riots or breaches
of the peace that might occur. He was further directed to use his influence
to promote good order and to avoid any conflicts between or with the settlers.
Believing that the introduction and sale of liquors where no legal restraints
or regulations existed would endanger the public peace, and in view of
the fact that such liquors must first be introduced into the Indian reservations
before reaching the white settlements, I further directed the general commanding
to enforce the laws relating to the introduction of ardent spirits into
the Indian country.
The presence of the troops has given a sense of security to the well-disposed
citizens and has tended to restrain the lawless. In one instance the officer
in immediate command of the troops went further than I deemed justifiable
in supporting the de facto municipal government of Guthrie, and he was
so informed, and directed to limit the interference of the military to
the support of the marshals on the lines indicated in the original order.
I very urgently recommend that Congress at once provide a Territorial government
for these people. Serious questions, which may at any time lead to violent
outbreaks, are awaiting the institution of courts for their peaceful adjustment.
The American genius for self-government has been well illustrated in Oklahoma;
but it is neither safe nor wise to leave these people longer to the expedients
which have temporarily served them.
Provision should be made for the acquisition of title to town lots in
the towns now established in Alaska, for locating town sites, and for the
establishment of municipal governments. Only the mining laws have been
extended to that Territory, and no other form of title to lands can now
be obtained. The general land laws were framed with reference to the disposition
of agricultural lands, and it is doubtful if their operation in Alaska
would be beneficial.
We have fortunately not extended to Alaska the mistaken policy of establishing
reservations for the Indian tribes, and can deal with them from the beginning
as individuals with, I am sure, better results; but any disposition of
the public lands and any regulations relating to timber and to the fisheries
should have a kindly regard to their interests. Having no power to levy
taxes, the people of Alaska are wholly dependent upon the General Government,
to whose revenues the seal fisheries make a large annual contribution.
An appropriation for education should neither be overlooked nor stinted.
The smallness of the population and the great distances between the
settlements offer serious obstacles to the establishment of the usual Territorial
form of government. Perhaps the organization of several sub-districts with
a small municipal council of limited powers for each would be safe and
Attention is called in this connection to the suggestions of the Secretary
of the Treasury relating to the establishment of another port of entry
in Alaska and of other needed customs facilities and regulations.
In the administration of the land laws the policy of facilitating in
every proper way the adjustment of the honest claims of individual settlers
upon the public lands has been pursued. The number of pending cases had
during the preceding Administration been greatly increased under the operation
of orders for a time suspending final action in a large part of the cases
originating in the West and Northwest, and by the subsequent use of unusual
methods of examination. Only those who are familiar with the conditions
under which our agricultural lands have been settled can appreciate the
serious and often fatal consequences to the settler of a policy that puts
his title under suspicion or delays the issuance of his patent. While care
is taken to prevent and to expose fraud, it should not be imputed without
The manifest purpose of the homestead and preemption laws was to promote
the settlement of the public domain by persons having a bona fide intent
to make a home upon the selected lands. Where this intent is well established
and the requirements of the law have been substantially complied with,
the claimant is entitled to a prompt and friendly consideration of his
case; but where there is reason to believe that the claimant is the mere
agent of another who is seeking to evade a law intended to promote small
holdings and to secure by fraudulent methods large tracts of timber and
other lands, both principal and agent should not only be thwarted in their
fraudulent purpose, but should be made to feel the full penalties of our
criminal statutes. The laws should be so administered as not to confound
these two classes and to visit penalties only upon the latter.
The unsettled state of the titles to large bodies of lands in the Territories
of New Mexico and Arizona has greatly retarded the development of those
Territories. Provision should be made by law for the prompt trial and final
adjustment before a judicial tribunal or commission of all claims based
upon Mexican grants. It is not just to an intelligent and enterprising
people that their peace should be disturbed and their prosperity retarded
by these old contentions. I express the hope that differences of opinion
as to methods may yield to the urgency of the case.
The law now provides a pension for every soldier and sailor who was
mustered into the service of the United States during the Civil War and
is now suffering from wounds or disease having an origin in the service
and in the line of duty. Two of the three necessary facts, viz, muster
and disability, are usually susceptible of easy proof; but the third, origin
in the service, is often difficult and in many deserving cases impossible
to establish. That very many of those who endured the hardships of our
most bloody and arduous campaigns are now disabled from diseases that had
a real but not traceable origin in the service I do not doubt. Besides
these there is another class composed of men many of whom served an enlistment
of three full years and of reenlisted veterans who added a fourth year
of service, who escaped the casualties of battle and the assaults of disease,
who were always ready for any detail, who were in every battle line of
their command, and were mustered out in sound health, and have since the
close of the war, while fighting with the same indomitable and independent
spirit the contests of civil life, been overcome by disease or casualty.
I am not unaware that the pension roll already involves a very large
annual expenditure; neither am I deterred by that fact from recommending
that Congress grant a pension to such honorably discharged soldiers and
sailors of the Civil War as, having rendered substantial service during
the war, are now dependent upon their own labor for a maintenance and by
disease or casualty are incapacitated from earning it. Many of the men
who would be included in this form of relief are now dependent upon public
aid, and it does not, in my judgment, consist with the national honor that
they shall continue to subsist upon the local relief given indiscriminately
to paupers instead of upon the special and generous provision of the nation
they served so gallantly and unselfishly. Our people will, I am sure, very
generally approve such legislation. And I am equally sure that the survivors
of the Union Army and Navy will feel a grateful sense of relief when this
worthy and suffering class of their comrades is fairly cared for.
There are some manifest inequalities in the existing law that should
be remedied. To some of these the Secretary of the Interior has called
It is gratifying to be able to state that by the adoption of new and
better methods in the War Department the calls of the Pension Office for
information as to the military and hospital records of pension claimants
are now promptly answered and the injurious and vexatious delays that have
heretofore occurred are entirely avoided. This will greatly facilitate
the adjustment of all pending claims.
The advent of four new States--South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana,
and Washington--into the Union under the Constitution in the same month,
and the admission of their duly chosen representatives to our National
Congress at the same session, is an event as unexampled as it is interesting.
The certification of the votes cast and of the constitutions adopted
in each of the States was filed with me, as required by the eighth section
of the act of February 22, 1889, by the governors of said Territories,
respectively. Having after a careful examination found that the several
constitutions and governments were republican in form and not repugnant
to the Constitution of the United States, that all the provisions of the
act of Congress had been complied with, and that a majority of the votes
cast in each of said proposed States was in favor of the adoption of the
constitution submitted therein, I did so declare by a separate proclamation
as to each--as to North Dakota and South Dakota on Saturday, November 2;
as to Montana on Friday, November 8, and as to Washington on Monday, November
Each of these States has within it resources the development of which
will employ the energies of and yield a comfortable subsistence to a great
population. The smallest of these new States, Washington, stands twelfth,
and the largest, Montana, third, among the forty-two in area. The people
of these States are already well-trained, intelligent, and patriotic American
citizens, having common interests and sympathies with those of the older
States and a common purpose to defend the integrity and uphold the honor
of the nation.
The attention of the Interstate Commerce Commission has been called
to the urgent need of Congressional legislation for the better protection
of the lives and limbs of those engaged in operating the great interstate
freight lines of the country, and especially of the yardmen and brakemen.
A petition signed by nearly 10,000 railway brakemen was presented to the
Commission asking that steps might be taken to bring about the use of automatic
brakes and couplers on freight cars.
At a meeting of State railroad commissioners and their accredited representatives
held at Washington in March last upon the invitation of the Interstate
Commerce Commission a resolution was unanimously adopted urging the Commission"
to consider what can be done to prevent the loss of life and limb in coupling
and uncoupling freight cars and in handling the brakes of such cars." During
the year ending June 30, 1888, over 2,000 railroad employees were killed
in service and more than 20,000 injured. It is competent, I think, for
Congress to require uniformity in the construction of cars used in interstate
commerce and the use of improved safety appliances upon such trains. Time
will be necessary to make the needed changes, but an earnest and intelligent
beginning should be made at once. It is a reproach to our civilization
that any class of American workmen should in the pursuit of a necessary
and useful vocation be subjected to a peril of life and limb as great as
that of a soldier in time of war.
The creation of an Executive Department to be known as the Department
of Agriculture by the act of February 9 last was a wise and timely response
to a request which had long been respectfully urged by the farmers of the
country; but much remains to be done to perfect the organization of the
Department so that it may fairly realize the expectations which its creation
excited. In this connection attention is called to the suggestions contained
in the report of the Secretary, which is herewith submitted. The need of
a law officer for the Department such as is provided for the other Executive
Departments is manifest. The failure of the last Congress to make the usual
provision for the publication of the annual report should be promptly remedied.
The public interest in the report and its value to the farming community,
I am sure, will not be diminished under the new organization of the Department.
I recommend that the weather service be separated from the War Department
and established as a bureau in the Department of Agriculture. This will
involve an entire reorganization both of the Weather Bureau and of the
Signal Corps, making of the first a purely civil organization and of the
other a purely military staff corps. The report of the Chief Signal Officer
shows that the work of the corps on its military side has been deteriorating.
The interests of the people of the District of Columbia should not be
lost sight of in the pressure for consideration of measures affecting the
whole country. Having no legislature of its own, either municipal or general,
its people must look to Congress for the regulation of all those concerns
that in the States are the subject of local control. Our whole people have
an interest that the national capital should be made attractive and beautiful,
and, above all, that its repute for social order should be well maintained.
The laws regulating the sale of intoxicating drinks in the District should
be revised with a view to bringing the traffic under stringent limitations
In execution of the power conferred upon me by the act making appropriations
for the expenses of the District of Columbia for the year ending June 30,
1890, I did on the 17th day of August last appoint Rudolph Hering, of New
York, Samuel M. Gray, of Rhode Island, and Frederick P. Stearns, of Massachusetts,
three eminent sanitary engineers, to examine and report upon the system
of sewerage existing in the District of Columbia. Their report, which is
not yet completed, will be in due course submitted to Congress.
The report of the Commissioners of the District is herewith transmitted,
and the attention of Congress is called to the suggestions contained therein.
The proposition to observe the four hundredth anniversary of the discovery
of America by the opening of a world's fair or exposition in some one of
our great cities will be presented for the consideration of Congress. The
value and interest of such an exposition may well claim the promotion of
the General Government.
On the 4th of March last the Civil Service Commission had but a single
member. The vacancies were filled on the 7th day of May, and since then
the Commissioners have been industriously, though with an inadequate force,
engaged in executing the law. They were assured by me that a cordial support
would be given them in the faithful and impartial enforcement of the statute
and of the rules and regulations adopted in aid of it.
Heretofore the book of eligibles has been closed to everyone, except
as certifications were made upon the requisition of the appointing officers.
This secrecy was the source of much suspicion and of many charges of favoritism
in the administration of the law. What is secret is always suspected; what
is open can be judged. The Commission, with the full approval of all its
members, has now opened the list of eligibles to the public. The eligible
lists for the classified post-offices and custom-houses are now publicly
posted in the respective offices, as are also the certifications for appointments.
The purpose of the civil-service law was absolutely to exclude any other
consideration in connection with appointments under it than that of merit
as tested by the examinations. The business proceeds upon the theory that
both the examining boards and the appointing officers are absolutely ignorant
as to the political views and associations of all persons on the civil-service
lists. It is not too much to say, however, that some recent Congressional
investigations have somewhat shaken public confidence in the impartiality
of the selections for appointment.
The reform of the civil service will make no safe or satisfactory advance
until the present law and its equal administration are well established
in the confidence of the people. It will be my pleasure, as it is my duty,
to see that the law is executed with firmness and impartiality. If some
of its provisions have been fraudulently evaded by appointing officers,
our resentment should not suggest the repeal of the law, but reform in
its administration. We should have one view of the matter, and hold it
with a sincerity that is not affected by the consideration that the party
to which we belong is for the time in power.
My predecessor, on the 4th day of January, 1889, by an Executive order
to take effect March 15, brought the Railway Mail Service under the operation
of the civil-service law. Provision was made that the order should take
effect sooner in any State where an eligible list was sooner obtained.
On the 11th day of March Mr. Lyman, then the only member of the Commission,
reported to me in writing that it would not be possible to have the list
of eligibles ready before May 1, and requested that the taking effect of
the order be postponed until that time, which was done, subject to the
same provision contained in the original order as to States in which an
eligible list was sooner obtained.
As a result of the revision of the rules, of the new classification,
and of the inclusion of the Railway Mail Service, the work of the Commission
has been greatly increased, and the present clerical force is found to
be inadequate. I recommend that the additional clerks asked by the Commission
be appropriated for.
The duty of appointment is devolved by the Constitution or by the law,
and the appointing officers are properly held to a high responsibility
in its exercise. The growth of the country and the consequent increase
of the civil list have magnified this function of the Executive disproportionally.
It can not be denied, however, that the labor connected with this necessary
work is increased, often to the point of actual distress, by the sudden
and excessive demands that are made upon an incoming Administration for
removals and appointments. But, on the other hand, it is not true that
incumbency is a conclusive argument for continuance in office. Impartiality,
moderation, fidelity to public duty, and a good attainment in the discharge
of it must be added before the argument is complete. When those holding
administrative offices so conduct themselves as to convince just political
opponents that no party consideration or bias affects in any way the discharge
of their public duties, we can more easily stay the demand for removals.
I am satisfied that both in and out of the classified service great
benefit would accrue from the adoption of some system by which the officer
would receive the distinction and benefit that in all private employments
comes from exceptional faithfulness and efficiency in the performance of
I have suggested to the heads of the Executive Departments that they
consider whether a record might not be kept in each bureau of all those
elements that are covered by the terms "faithfulness" and "efficiency,"
and a rating made showing the relative merits of the clerks of each class,
this rating to be regarded as a test of merit in making promotions.
I have also suggested to the Postmaster-General that he adopt some plan
by which he can, upon the basis of the reports to the Department and of
frequent inspections, indicate the relative merit of postmasters of each
class. They will be appropriately indicated in the Official Register and
in the report of the Department. That a great stimulus would thus be given
to the whole service I do not doubt, and such a record would be the best
defense against inconsiderate removals from office.
The interest of the General Government in the education of the people
found an early expression, not only in the thoughtful and sometimes warning
utterances of our ablest statesmen, but in liberal appropriations from
the common resources for the support of education in the new States. No
one will deny that it is of the gravest national concern that those who
hold the ultimate control of all public affairs should have the necessary
intelligence wisely to direct and determine them. National aid to education
has heretofore taken the form of land grants, and in that form the constitutional
power of Congress to promote the education of the people is not seriously
questioned. I do not think it can be successfully questioned when the form
is changed to that of a direct grant of money from the public Treasury.
Such aid should be, as it always has been, suggested by some exceptional
conditions. The sudden emancipation of the slaves of the South, the bestowal
of the suffrage which soon followed, and the impairment of the ability
of the States where these new citizens were chiefly found to adequately
provide educational facilities presented not only exceptional but unexampled
conditions. That the situation has been much ameliorated there is no doubt.
The ability and interest of the States have happily increased.
But a great work remains to be done, and I think the General Government
should lend its aid. As the suggestion of a national grant in aid of education
grows chiefly out of the condition and needs of the emancipated slave and
his descendants, the relief should as far as possible, while necessarily
proceeding upon some general lines, be applied to the need that suggested
it. It is essential, if much good is to be accomplished, that the sympathy
and active interest of the people of the States should be enlisted, and
that the methods adopted should be such as to stimulate and not to supplant
local taxation for school purposes.
As one Congress can not bind a succeeding one in such a case and as
the effort must in some degree be experimental, I recommend that any appropriation
made for this purpose be so limited in annual amount and as to the time
over which it is to extend as will on the one hand give the local school
authorities opportunity to make the best use of the first year's allowance,
and on the other deliver them from the temptation to unduly postpone the
assumption of the whole burden themselves.
The colored people did not intrude themselves upon us. They were brought
here in chains and held in the communities where they are now chiefly found
by a cruel slave code. Happily for both races, they are now free. They
have from a standpoint of ignorance and poverty--which was our shame, not
theirs--made remarkable advances in education and in the acquisition of
property. They have as a people shown themselves to be friendly and faithful
toward the white race under temptations of tremendous strength. They have
their representatives in the national cemeteries, where a grateful Government
has gathered the ashes of those who died in its defense. They have furnished
to our Regular Army regiments that have won high praise from their commanding
officers for courage and soldierly qualities and for fidelity to the enlistment
oath. In civil life they are now the toilers of their communities, making
their full contribution to the widening streams of prosperity which these
communities are receiving. Their sudden withdrawal would stop production
and bring disorder into the household as well as the shop. Generally they
do not desire to quit their homes, and their employers resent the interference
of the emigration agents who seek to stimulate such a desire.
But notwithstanding all this, in many parts of our country where the
colored population is large the people of that race are by various devices
deprived of any effective exercise of their political rights and of many
of their civil rights. The wrong does not expend itself upon those whose
votes are suppressed. Every constituency in the Union is wronged.
It has been the hope of every patriot that a sense of justice and of
respect for the law would work a gradual cure of these flagrant evils.
Surely no one supposes that the present can be accepted as a permanent
condition. If it is said that these communities must work out this problem
for themselves, we have a right to ask whether they are at work upon it.
Do they suggest any solution? When and under what conditions is the black
man to have a free ballot? When is he in fact to have those full civil
rights which have so long been his in law? When is that equality of influence
which our form of government was intended to secure to the electors to
be restored? This generation should courageously face these grave questions,
and not leave them as a heritage of woe to the next. The consultation should
proceed with candor, calmness, and great patience, upon the lines of justice
and humanity, not of prejudice and cruelty. No question in our country
can be at rest except upon the firm base of justice and of the law.
I earnestly invoke the attention of Congress to the consideration of
such measures within its well-defined constitutional powers as will secure
to all our people a free exercise of the right of suffrage and every other
civil right under the Constitution and laws of the United States. No evil,
however deplorable, can justify the assumption either on the part of the
Executive or of Congress of powers not granted, but both will be highly
blamable if all the powers granted are not wisely but firmly used to correct
these evils. The power to take the whole direction and control of the election
of members of the House of Representatives is clearly given to the General
Government. A partial and qualified supervision of these elections is now
provided for by law, and in my opinion this law may be so strengthened
and extended as to secure on the whole better results than can be attained
by a law taking all the processes of such election into Federal control.
The colored man should be protected in all of his relations to the Federal
Government, whether as litigant, juror, or witness in our courts, as an
elector for members of Congress, or as a peaceful traveler upon our interstate
There is nothing more justly humiliating to the national pride and nothing
more hurtful to the national prosperity than the inferiority of our merchant
marine compared with that of other nations whose general resources, wealth,
and seacoast lines do not suggest any reason for their supremacy on the
sea. It was not always so, and our people are agreed, I think, that it
shall not continue to be so. It is not possible in this communication to
discuss the causes of the decay of our shipping interests or the differing
methods by which it is proposed to restore them. The statement of a few
well-authenticated facts and some general suggestions as to legislation
is all that is practicable. That the great steamship lines sailing under
the flags of England, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy, and engaged in
foreign commerce, were .promoted and have since been and now are liberally
aided by grants of public money in one form or another is generally known.
That the American lines of steamships have been abandoned by us to an unequal
contest with the aided lines of other nations until they have been withdrawn,
or in the few cases where they are still maintained are subject to serious
disadvantages, is matter of common knowledge.
The present situation is such that travelers and merchandise find Liverpool
often a necessary intermediate port between New York and some of the South
American capitals. The fact that some of the delegates from South American
States to the conference of American nations now in session at Washington
reached our shores by reversing that line of travel is very conclusive
of the need of such a conference and very suggestive as to the first and
most necessary step in the direction of fuller and more beneficial intercourse
with nations that are now our neighbors upon the lines of latitude, but
not upon the lines of established commercial intercourse.
I recommend that such appropriations be made for ocean mail service
in American steamships between our ports and those of Central and South
America, China, Japan, and the important islands in both of the great oceans
as will be liberally remunerative for the service rendered and as will
encourage the establishment and in some fair degree equalize the chances
of American steamship lines in the competitions which they must meet. That
the American States lying south of us will cordially cooperate in establishing
and maintaining such lines of steamships to their principal ports I do
We should also make provision for a naval reserve to consist of such
merchant ships of American construction and of a specified tonnage and
speed as the owners will consent to place at the use of the Government
in case of need as armed cruisers. England has adopted this policy, and
as a result can now upon necessity at once place upon her naval list some
of the fastest steamships in the world. A proper supervision of the construction
of such vessels would make their conversion into effective ships of war
I am an advocate of economy in our national expenditures, but it is
a misuse of terms to make this word describe a policy that withholds an
expenditure for the purpose of extending our foreign commerce. The enlargement
and improvement of our merchant marine, the development of a sufficient
body of trained American seamen, the promotion of rapid and regular mail
communication between the ports of other countries and our own, and the
adaptation of large and swift American merchant steamships to naval uses
in time of war are public purposes of the highest concern. The enlarged
participation of our people in the carrying trade, the new and increased
markets that will be opened for the products of our farms and factories,
and the fuller and better employment of our mechanics which will result
from a liberal promotion of our foreign commerce insure the widest possible
diffusion of benefit to all the States and to all our people. Everything
is most propitious for the present inauguration of a liberal and progressive
policy upon this subject, and we should enter upon it with promptness and
The legislation which I have suggested, it is sincerely believed, will
promote the peace and honor of our country and the prosperity and security
of the people. I invoke the diligent and serious attention of Congress
to the consideration of these and such other measures as may be presented
having the same great end in view.