3 December 1793
Fellow Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives.
Since the commencement of the term for which I have been again called
into office no fit occasion has arisen for expressing to me fellow citizens
at large the deep and respectful sense which I feel of the renewed testimony
of public approbation. While on the one hand it awakened my gratitude for
all those instances of affectionate partiality with which I have been honored
by my country, on the other it could not prevent an earnest wish for that
retirement from which no private consideration should ever have torn me.
But influenced by the belief that my conduct would be estimated according
to its real motives, and that the people, and the authorities derived from
them, would support exertions having nothing personal for their object,
I have obeyed the suffrage which commanded me to resume the Executive power;
and I humbly implore that Being on whose will the fate of nations depends
to crown with success our mutual endeavors for the general happiness.
As soon as the war in Europe had embraced those powers with whom the
United States have the most extensive relations there was reason to apprehend
that our intercourse with them might be interrupted and our disposition
for peace drawn into question by the suspicions too often entertained by
belligerent nations. It seemed, therefore, to be my duty to admonish our
citizens of the consequences of a contraband trade and of hostile acts
to any of the parties, and to obtain by a declaration of the existing legal
state of things an easier admission of our right to the immunities belonging
to our situation. Under these impressions the proclamation which will be
laid before you was issued.
In this posture of affairs, both new and delicate, I resolved to adopt
general rules which should conform to the treaties and assert the privileges
of the United States. These were reduced into a system, which will be communicated
to you. Although I have not thought of myself at liberty to forbid the
sale of the prizes permitted by our treaty of commerce with France to be
brought into our ports, I have not refused to cause them to be restored
when they were taken within the protection of our territory, or by vessels
commissioned or equipped in a warlike form within the limits of the United
It rests with the wisdom of Congress to correct, improve, or enforce
this plan of procedure; and it will probably be found expedient to extend
the legal code and the jurisdiction of the courts of the United States
to many cases which, though dependent on principles already recognized,
demand some further provisions.
Where individuals shall, within the United States, array themselves
in hostility against any of the powers at war, or enter upon military expeditions
or enterprises within the jurisdiction of the United States, or usurp and
exercise judicial authority within the United States, or where the penalties
on violations of the law of nations may have been indistinctly marked,
or are inadequate -- these offenses can not receive too early and close
an attention, and require prompt and decisive remedies.
Whatsoever those remedies may be, they will be well administered by
the judiciary, who possess a long-established course of investigation,
effectual process, and officers in the habit of executing it.
In like manner, as several of the courts have doubted, under particular
circumstances, their power to liberate the vessels of a nation at peace,
and even of a citizen of the United States, although seized under a false
color of being hostile property, and have denied their power to liberate
certain captures within the protection of our territory, it would seem
proper to regulate their jurisdiction in these points. But if the Executive
is to be the resort in either of the two last-mentioned cases, it is hoped
that he will be authorized by law to have facts ascertained by the courts
when for his own information he shall request it.
I can not recommend to your notice measures for the fulfillment of our
duties to the rest of the world without again pressing upon you the necessity
of placing ourselves in a condition of complete defense and of exacting
from them the fulfillment of their duties toward us. The United States
ought not to indulge a persuasion that, contrary to the order of human
events, they will forever keep at a distance those painful appeals to arms
with which the history of every other nation abounds. There is a rank due
to the United States among nations which will be withheld, if not absolutely
lost, by the reputation of weakness. If we desire to avoid insult, we must
be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful
instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known that we are at all
times ready for war. The documents which will be presented to you will
shew the amount and kinds of arms and military stores now in our magazines
and arsenals; and yet an addition even to these supplies can not with prudence
be neglected, as it would leave nothing to the uncertainty of procuring
warlike apparatus in the moment of public danger.
Nor can such arrangements, with such objects, be exposed to the censure
or jealousy of the warmest friends of republican government. They are incapable
of abuse in the hands of the militia, who ought to possess a pride in being
the depository of the force of the Republic, and may be trained to a degree
of energy equal to every military exigency of the United States. But it
is an inquiry which can not be too solemnly pursued, whether the act "more
effectually to provide for the national defense by establishing an uniform
militia throughout the United States" has organized them so as to produce
their full effect; whether your own experience in the several States has
not detected some imperfections in the scheme, and whether a material feature
in an improvement of it ought not to be to afford an opportunity for the
study of those branches of the military art which can scarcely ever be
attained by practice alone.
The connection of the United States with Europe has become extremely
interesting. The occurrences which relate to it and have passed under the
knowledge of the Executive will be exhibited to Congress in a subsequent
When we contemplate the war on our frontiers, it may be truly affirmed
that every reasonable effort has been made to adjust the causes of dissension
with the Indians north of the Ohio. The instructions given to the commissioners
evince a moderation and equity proceeding from a sincere love of peace,
and a liberality having no restriction but the essential interests and
dignity of the United States. The attempt, however, of an amicable negotiation
having been frustrated, the troops have marched to act offensively. Although
the proposed treaty did not arrest the progress of military preparation,
it is doubtful how far the advance of the season, before good faith justified
active movements, may retard them during the remainder of the year. From
the papers and intelligence which relate to this important subject you
will determine whether the deficiency in the number of troops granted by
law shall be compensated by succors of militia, or additional encouragements
shall be proposed to recruits.
An anxiety has been also demonstrated by the Executive for peace with
the Creeks and the Cherokees. The former have been relieved with corn and
with clothing, and offensive measures against them prohibited during the
recess of Congress. To satisfy the complaints of the latter, prosecutions
have been instituted for the violences committed upon them. But the papers
which will be delivered to you disclose the critical footing on which we
stand in regard to both those tribes, and it is with Congress to pronounce
what shall be done.
After they shall have provided for the present emergency, it will merit
their most serious labors to render tranquillity with the savages permanent
by creating ties of interest. Next to a rigorous execution of justice on
the violators of peace, the establishment of commerce with the Indian nations
in behalf of the United States is most likely to conciliate their attachment.
But it ought to be conducted without fraud, without extortion, with constant
and plentiful supplies, with a ready market for the commodities of the
Indians and a stated price for what they give in payment and receive in
exchange. Individuals will not pursue such a traffic unless they be allured
by the hope of profit; but it will be enough for the United States to be
reimbursed only. Should this recommendation accord with the opinion of
Congress, they will recollect that it can not be accomplished by any means
yet in the hands of the Executive.
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives:
The commissioners charged with the settlement of accounts between the
United States and individual States concluded their important function
within the time limited by law, and the balances struck in their report,
which will be laid before Congress, have been placed on the books of the
On the first day of June last an installment of 1,000,000 florins became
payable on the loans of the United States in Holland. This was adjusted
by a prolongation of the period of reimbursement in nature of a new loan
at an interest of 5% for the term of ten years, and the expenses of this
operation were a commission of 3%.
The first installment of the loan of $2,000,000 from the Bank of the
United States has been paid, as was directed by law. For the second it
is necessary that provision be made.
No pecuniary consideration is more urgent than the regular redemption
and discharge of the public debt. On none can delay be more injurious or
an economy of time more valuable.
The productiveness of the public revenues hitherto has continued to
equal the anticipations which were formed of it, but it is not expected
to prove commensurate with all the objects which have been suggested. Some
auxiliary provisions will therefore, it is presumed, be requisite, and
it is hoped that these may be made consistently with a due regard to the
convenience of our citizens, who can not but be sensible of the true wisdom
of encountering a small present addition to their contributions to obviate
a future accumulation of burthens.
But here I can not forbear to recommend a repeal of the tax on the transportation
of public prints. There is no resource so firm for the Government of the
United States as the affections of the people, guided by an enlightened
policy; and to this primary good nothing can conduce more than a faithful
representation of public proceedings, diffused without restraint throughout
the United States.
An estimate of the appropriations necessary for the current service
of the ensuing year and a statement of a purchase of arms and military
stores made during the recess will be presented to Congress.
Gentlemen of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:
The several subjects to which I have now referred open a wide range
to your deliberations and involve some of the choicest interests of our
common country. Permit me to bring to your remembrance the magnitude of
your task. Without an unprejudiced coolness the welfare of the Government
may be hazarded; without harmony as far as consists with freedom of sentiment
its dignity may be lost. But as the legislative proceedings of the United
States will never, I trust, be reproached for the want of temper or of
candor, so shall not the public happiness languish from the want of my
strenuous and warmest cooperation.