Recommendations and events.

first annual message, december 6, 1869.

“I earnestly recommend to you, then, such legislation as will insure a gradual return to specie payments, and put an immediate stop to fluctuations in the value of currency.”

Six and 5 per cent. United States bonds due, and coming due, “may be replaced by bonds bearing a rate of interest not exceeding 4½ per cent.;” and also suggesting the “propriety of redeeming currency at market-value at time law goes into effect, increasing the rate at which currency shall be bought and sold, from day to day, or week to week, at the same rate of interest as Government pays upon its bonds.”

Renewal of tax on incomes, 3 per cent. for three years.

Advising “such legislation as will forever preclude the enslavement of the Chinese upon our soil, under the name of coolies, and also prevent American vessels from engaging in the transportation of coolies to any country tolerating the system.” Recommending that the mission to China be raised to one of the first class. Total repeal of “tenure-of-office acts” earnestly recommended.

Indian policy.—Management of a few reservations of Indians given to Society of Friends, and selection of agents thrown upon them. For superintendents and Indian agents not on reservations, officers of the Army selected. As a substitute for old system, suggests the placing of all Indians on large reservations, giving them absolute protection there, and inducing them, as soon as they are fitted for it, to take their lands in severalty, and to set up territorial governments for their own protection.

Special attention of Congress called to recommendation of Post-master-General for total abolition of franking privilege; and also to that of Secretary of War for repeal of act March 3, 1869, prohibiting promotions and appointments in staff corps of the Army.

second message, december 5, 1870.

San Domingo.—Treaty for annexation of, rejected, and suggesting that, by joint resolution of Congress, the Executive be authorized to appoint a commission to negotiate a treaty for the acquisition of the island.

Tien-Tsin massacre.—France and North Germany invited to make an authorized suspension of hostilities in the East, and to act together for the future protection in China of the lives and properties of Americans and Europeans.

Ratifications of treaty with Great Britain for abolishing the mixed courts for suppression of slave trade, and of the naturalization convention between that country and the United States exchanged.

Boundary-line between the United States and British possessions discovered to be 4,700 feet south of true position of forty-ninth parallel, leaving Hudson’s Bay Company at Pembina, within territory of United States. Joint commissioners of the two governments proposed to fix definitely the boundary-line.

Regrets that no conclusion has been reached for the adjustment of [Page XVIII] Alabama claims, and recommends that Congress authorize appointment of a committee to take proof of amounts and ownership of claims, &c.

Anticipating that an attempt may possibly be made by Canadian authorities in the coming season to repeat unneighborly acts toward American fishermen, recommends that authority be conferred upon the Executive to suspend by proclamation operation of laws authorizing transit of goods, &c., in bond, across United States territory to Canada, and, should an extreme measure become necessary, the suspension of the operation of any laws whereby Canadian vessels are permitted to enter the waters of the United States.

Manifestation on part of Canada to exclude United States citizens from the navigation of St. Lawrence. It is hoped that Great Britain will see the justice of abandoning the narrow and inconsistent claim to which her Canadian provinces have urged her adherence.

Recommends a liberal policy toward American steamers plying between the Pacific States and China and Japan, and encouragement, even if it should be at some cost to the national Treasury, of American ship-building.

Recommends an appropriation for the construction of a building for the State Department; the transfer from State to Interior Department of all powers and duties in relation to the Territories, and from the Interior to the War Department the Pension Bureau, and the payment of naval pensions by one of the bureaus of Navy Department.

Congress should look to a policy which would place our currency at par with gold at no distant day.

Tax collected from the people reduced more than $80,000,000 per annum.

Suggests that revenue-stamps be dispensed by postmasters, and a tax on liquors and tobacco, and the imposition of duty only on luxuries.

Recommends an appropriation for a new War Department building, and a reform in the entire civil service of the country.

The experiment of making the management of Indian affairs a missionary work found to work most advantageously. Submits, as a question worthy of serious consideration, whether the residue of our national domain should not be wholly disposed of under the provisions of the homestead and pre-emption laws.

Land-grant subsidies.—“The United States should not loan their credit in aid of any enterprise undertaken by States or corporations, nor grant lands in any instance unless the projected work is of acknowledged national importance. I am strongly inclined to the opinion that it is inexpedient and unnecessary to bestow subsidies of either description; but, should Congress determine otherwise, I earnestly recommend that the rights of settlers and of the public be more effectually secured and protected by appropriate legislation.”

Untrammeled ballot, “where every man entitled to cast a vote may do so, just once, at each election, without fear of molestation or proscription on account of his political faith, nativity, or color.”

third annual message, december 4, 1871.

“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.”

* * * * * * *

“I recommend the legislation necessary on the part of the United States to bring into operation the articles of the treaty relating to the [Page XIX] 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.”

* * * * * * *

“I have addressed a communication * * * 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.”

* * * * * * *

“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.”

* * * * * * *

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

“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 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.”

* * * * * * *

“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.”

* * * * * * *

“With Japan we continue to maintain intimate relations.

“Our minister at Peking instructed to endeavor to conclude a convention with Corea—Admiral Rodgers to accompany him. The party were attacked, and, after punishing the criminals, the expedition returned, not concluding the convention. Subject left 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,” &c.

* * * * * * *

[Page XX]

“I recommend some action by Congress regarding the overdue installments under the award of the Venezuelan Claims Commission of 1866.”

* * * * * * *

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

Congratulation that Brazil has taken steps to abolish slavery.

Regrets that Spain has failed to carry out its promised reform in this direction.

Attention directed to the fact that citizens of the United States are large holders of slaves in foreign lands.

Recommends that Congress provide a remedy against the holding, owning, &c., of slaves by citizens of the United States.

Disturbed condition of affairs in the island of Cuba.

Recommends that an appropriation be made to support four American youths, to serve with our ministers in Japan and China, and liberal support to American lines of steamers now plying between San Francisco and Japan and China, and the Australian line.

Extent of reduction of national debt. Modification of tariff and revenue laws recommended.

“I recommend that all taxes from internal sources be abolished, except those collected from * * * liquors, tobacco, * * * and from stamps.”

Suggestions, in view of a re-adjustment of the tariff.

Attention invited to subject of moieties.

Continued fluctuations in gold.

“If the question can be met as to how to give a fixed value to our currency, * * * a very desirable object will be gained.”

Recommendations for filling vacancies in the staff corps of the Army.

The suggestions in report of Secretary of the Navy 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, &c., 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.”

Suggestions of Postmaster-General for improvements in his Department recommended to special attention.

“I recommend * * * plan for uniting the telegraphic system of the United States with the postal system.”

Execution of act approved April 20, 1871, known as the Ku-Klux law, in South Carolina.

Suggestions in relation to polygamy in Utah.

“I recommend liberal appropriations to carry out the Indian peace-policy,” * * * and granting a territorial government to Indians in Indian Territory.

“I renew my recommendation that the public lands be regarded as a heritage to our children,” &c.

Attention invited to subject of compensation to heads of bureaus and officials holding positions of responsibility, &c.

The removal of disabilities imposed by the fourteenth amendment.

Organization of territorial government in District of Columbia—act of February 21, 1871. Liberal appropriations recommended.

Appropriation recommended for purchase of remainder of square in Chicago on which burned buildings stood, and for erection of new buildings.

Congressional action suggested for protection of immigrants.

Civil-service reform.

[Page XXI]

fourth annual message, december 2, 1872.

Alabama claims.—“The tribunal which convened at Geneva on the 14th September last, (1872,) awarded the sum of fifteen millions five hundred thousand dollars in gold as the indemnity to be paid by Great Britain for the satisfaction of all claims referred to its consideration.”

Treaty of Washington, June 15, 1846, United States and Great Britain boundary-line.—“Construction of treaty of 15th June, 1846, defining the boundary-line between their respective territories, submitted to the arbitration and award of His Majesty the Emperor of Germany, who, on 21st of October last, (1872,) signed his award in writing to the effect that it should be drawn through the Haro Channel; which leaves us for the first time in the United States as a nation without a question of disputed boundary between our territory and the possessions of Great Britain on this continent.”

Treaty of Washington, May 8, 1871, relating to fisheries, &c.—“In my last annual message I recommended the legislation necessary on the part of the United States to bring into operation the articles of the treaty of Washington of May 8, 1871, relating to the fisheries, and to other matters touching the relations of the United States toward the British North American possessions, to become operative so soon as the proper legislation should be had on the part of Great Britain and its possessions.

“This question has since been disposed of; the Imperial Parliament and the legislatures of the provincial governments have passed laws to carry the provisions of the treaty on the matters referred to into operation. I therefore recommend your early adoption of the legislation in the same direction necessary on the part of this Government.”

Boundary-line, (between Lake of the Woods and Rocky Mountains,) United States and British possessions.—Recommends that the force be increased in order to the completion of the survey and determination of the boundary-line between the United States and the British possessions, between Lake of the Woods and the Rocky Mountains. “To this end I recommend a sufficient appropriation be made.”

Depredations, Texan frontier.—“The commissioners appointed, pursuant to joint resolution of Congress, on the 7th of May last, (1872,) to inquire into the depredations upon the Texan frontier, have diligently made investigations in that quarter. Their researches were necessarily incomplete, partly on account of limited appropriation made by Congress. I recommend that a special appropriation be made to enable the commissioners on the part of the United States to return to their labors without delay.”

Cuba.—“It is with regret that I have again to announce a continuance of the disturbed condition of the island of Cuba. * * * The parties stand apparently in the same relative attitude which they have occupied for a long time past.”

* * * * * * *

“I cannot doubt that the continued maintenance of slavery in Cuba is among the strongest inducements to the continuance of this strife. A terrible wrong is the natural cause of a terrible evil. The abolition of slavery and the introduction of other reforms in the administration or government of Cuba could not fail to advance the restoration of peace and order.”

* * * * * * *

“In my last annual message I referred to this subject, and I again recommend such legislation as may be proper to denounce, and if not prevent, at least to discourage American citizens from holding or dealing in slaves.”

[Page XXII]

Venezuela.—“It is with regret, however, I announce that the government of Venezuela has made no further payments on account of the awards under the convention of April 25, 1866. This subject is again recommended to the attention of Congress for such action as may be deemed proper.”

Japan and China.—“Our treaty relations with Japan remain unchanged The embassy which visited this country during the year (1872) that is passing being unprovided with powers for the signing of a convention in this country, no conclusion in that direction was reached. In this connection, I renew my recommendation of one year ago, that, ‘to give importance 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, an appropriation be made to support at least four American youths in each of those countries, to serve as a part of the official families 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 employés in foreign business houses, or the interpreters to other foreign ministers.’”

I renew the recommendation made on a previous occasion, of the transfer to the Department of the Interior of all the powers and duties in relation to the Territories with which the Department of State is now charged by law or custom.”

Appropriation recommended for the relief of citizens in distress abroad.—“Congress, from the beginning of the Government, has wisely made provision for the relief of distressed seamen in foreign countries; no similar provision, however, has hitherto been made for the relief of citizens in distress abroad, other than seamen. A similar authority, and an appropriation to carry it into effect, are recommended in the case of citizens of the United States destitute or sick under such circumstances.”

War Department.—“The report of the Secretary of War, showing expenditures of the War Department for fiscal year ending June 30, 1871, and for fiscal year ending June 30, 1872, showing a reduction in favor of the last fiscal year of $427,834.62.”

* * * * * * *

“The attention of Congress will be called during its present session to various enterprises for the more certain and cheaper transportation of the constantly-increasing surplus of western and southern products to the Atlantic seaboard.”

Navy Department.—“I recommend careful consideration by Congress of the recommendations made by the Secretary of the Navy.”

Department of the Interior—Territories.—“I recommend a careful revision of the present laws of the Territory of Utah, and the enactment of such a law (the one proposed in Congress at its last session, or something similar to it) as will secure peace, the equality of all citizens before the law, and the ultimate extinguishment of polygamy.”

Civil service.—Hopes that “Congress may reach a satisfactory solution of this question, and secure to the public service, for all time, a practical method of obtaining faithful and efficient officers and employés.”

fifth annual message, december 1, 1873.

Geneva award.—“The money awarded to the United States by the tribunal of arbitration, at Geneva, was paid by Her Majesty’s government [Page XXIII] a few days in advance of the time when it would have become payable according to the terms of the treaty. In compliance with the provisions of the act of March 3, 1873, it was at once paid into the Treasury, and used to redeem, so far as it might, the public debt of the United States; and the amount so redeemed was invested in a five per cent. registered bond of the United States for fifteen million five hundred thousand dollars, which is now held by the Secretary of State, subject to the future disposition of Congress.”

Alabama, Florida, and Shenandoah losses.—“I renew my recommendation, made at the opening of the last session of Congress, that a commission be created for the purpose of auditing and determining the amounts of the several ‘direct losses growing out of the destruction of vessels and their cargoes’ by the Alabama, the Florida, or the Shenandoah, after leaving Melbourne, for which the sufferers have received no equivalent or compensation, and of ascertaining the names of the persons entitled to receive compensation for the same, making the computations upon the basis indicated by the tribunal of arbitration at Geneva; and that payment of such losses be authorized to an extent not to exceed the awards of the tribunal at Geneva.”

“By an act approved on the 14th day of February last, Congress made provision for completing, jointly with an officer or commissioner to be named by Her Britannic Majesty, the determination of so much of the boundary-line between the territory of the United States and the possessions of Great Britain as was left uncompleted by the commissioners appointed under the act of Congress of August 11, 1856. Under the provisions of this act the northwest water-boundary of the United States has been determined and marked in accordance with the award of the Emperor of Germany. A protocol and a copy of the map upon which the line was thus marked are contained in the papers submitted herewith.”

“The Ottoman government and that of Egypt have latterly shown a disposition to relieve foreign consuls of the judicial powers which heretofore they have exercised in the Turkish dominions, by organizing other tribunals. As Congress, however, has by law provided for the discharge of judicial functions by consuls of the United States in that quarter under the treaty of 1830, I have not felt at liberty formally to accept the proposed change without the assent of Congress, whose decision upon the subject, at as early a period as may be convenient, is earnestly requested.”

Protectorate for Santo Domingo.—“I transmit herewith for the consideration and determination of Congress an application of the republic of Santo Domingo to this Government to exercise a protectorate over that republic.”

Expatriation.—“I invite Congress now to mark out and define when and how expatriation can be accomplished; to regulate by law the condition of American women marrying foreigners; to fix the status of children born in a foreign country of American parents residing more or less permanently abroad, and to make rules for determining such other kindred points as may seem best to Congress.

“I invite the earnest attention of Congress to the existing laws of the United States respecting expatriation and the election of nationality by individuals. Many citizens of the United States reside permanently abroad with their families. Under the provisions of the act approved February 10, 1855, the children of such persons are to be deemed and taken to be citizens of the United States, but the rights of citizenship [Page XXIV] are not to descend to persons whose fathers never resided in the United States.”

Virginius seizure.—“Pending negotiations between the United States and the government of Spain on the subject of this capture, I have authorized the Secretary of the Navy to put our Navy on a war footing, to the extent, at least, of the entire annual appropriation for that branch of the service, trusting to Congress and the public opinion of the American people to justify my action.”

Constitutional amendments.—“Assuming from the action of the last Congress, in appointing a ‘Committee on Privileges and Elections,’ to prepare and report to this Congress a constitutional amendment to provide a better method of electing the President and Vice-President of the United States, and also from the necessity of such an amendment, that there will be submitted to the State legislatures, for ratification, such an improvement in our Constitution, I suggest two others for your consideration:

  • “First. To authorize the Executive to approve of so much of any measure passing the two houses of Congress as his judgment may dictate, without approving the whole, the disapproved portion, or portions, to be subjected to the same rules as now, to wit, to be referred back to the house in which the measure, or measures, originated, and if passed by a two-thirds vote of the two houses, then to become a law without the approval of the President. I would add to this a provision that there should be no legislation by Congress during the last twenty-four hours of its sitting, except upon vetoes, in order to give the Executive an opportunity to examine and approve or disapprove bills understandingly.
  • “Second. To provide, by amendment, that when an extra session of Congress is convened by Executive proclamation, legislation during the continuance of such extra session shall be confined to such subjects as the Executive may bring before it, from time to time, in writing.

“The advantages to be gained by these two amendments are too obvious for me to comment upon them. One session in each year is provided for by the Constitution, in which there are no restrictions as to the subjects of legislation by Congress. If more are required, it is always in the power of Congress, during their term of office, to provide for sessions at any time. The first of these amendments would protect the public against the many abuses and waste of public moneys which creep into appropriation bills, and other important measures passing during the expiring hours of Congress, to which, otherwise, due consideration cannot be given.”

Specie payments: elastic currency.—“My own judgment is that, however much individuals may have suffered,* one long step has been taken toward specie payments; that we can never have permanent prosperity until a specie basis is reached; and that a specie basis cannot be reached and maintained until our exports, exclusive of gold, pay for our imports, interest due abroad, and other specie obligations, or so nearly so as to leave an appreciable accumulation of the precious metals in the country from the products of our mines.

“Elasticity in our monetary system, therefore, is the object to be attained first, and next to that, as far as possible, a prevention of the use of other people’s money in stock and other species of speculation. To prevent the latter it seems to me that one great step would be taken by prohibiting the national banks from paying interest on deposits, by requiring them to hold their reserves in their own vaults, and by forcing [Page XXV] them into resumption, though it would only be in legal-tender notes. For this purpose I would suggest the establishment of clearing-houses for your consideration.

“To secure the former many plans have been suggested, most, if not all, of which look to me more like inflation on the one hand, or compelling the Government, on the other, to pay interest, without corresponding benefits, upon the surplus funds of the country during the seasons when otherwise unemployed.

“I submit for your consideration whether this difficulty might not be overcome by authorizing the Secretary of the Treasury to issue, at any time, to national banks of issue, any amount of their own notes below a fixed percentage of their issue, say forty per cent., upon the banks depositing with the Treasurer of the United States an amount of Government bonds equal to the amount of notes demanded, the banks to forfeit to the Government, say four per cent. of the interest accruing on the bonds so pledged during the time they remain with the Treasurer, as security for the increased circulation, the bonds so pledged to be redeemable by the banks at their pleasure, either in whole or in part, by returning their own bills for cancellation to an amount equal to the face of the bonds withdrawn. I would further suggest for your consideration the propriety of authorizing national banks to diminish their standing issue at pleasure, by returning for cancellation their own bills, and withdrawing so many United States bonds as are pledged for the bills returned.”

* * * * * * *

“In any modification of the present laws regulating national banks, as a further step toward preparing for resumption of specie payments, I invite your attention to a consideration of the propriety of exacting from them the retention, as a part of their reserve, either the whole or a part of the gold interest accruing upon the bonds pledged as security for their issue. I have not reflected enough on the bearing this might have in producing a scarcity of coin with which to pay duties on imports to give it my positive recommendation. But your attention is invited to the subject.”

Inter-State canals with Government aid.—“There is one work, however, of a national character, in which the greater portion of the East and the West, the North and the South, are equally interested, to which I will invite your attention.

“The State of New York has a canal connecting Lake Erie with tidewater on the Hudson River. The State of Illinois has a similar work connecting Lake Michigan with navigable water on the Illinois River, thus making water-communication inland, between the East and the West and South. These great artificial water-courses are the property of the States through which they pass, and pay toll to those States. Would it not be wise statesmanship to pledge these States that if they will open these canals for the passage of large vessels the General Government will look after and keep in navigable condition the great public highways with which they connect, to wit, the overslaugh on the Hudson, the Saint Clair Flats, and the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers? This would be a national work; one of great value to the producers of the West and South in giving them cheap transportation for their produce to the seaboard and a market; and to the consumers in the East in giving them cheaper food, particularly of those articles of food which do not find a foreign market, and the prices of which, therefore, are not regulated by foreign demands. The advantages of such a work are too [Page XXVI] obvious for argument. I submit the subject to you, therefore, without further comment.”

Exploration of Amazon and Madeira Rivers.—“In attempting to regain our lost commerce and carrying-trade, I have heretofore called attention to the states south of us offering a field where much might be accomplished. To further this object I suggest that a small appropriation be made, accompanied with authority for the Secretary of the Navy to fit out a naval vessel to ascend the Amazon River to the mouth of the Madeira; thence to explore that river and its tributaries into Bolivia, and to report to Congress at its next session, or as soon as practicable, the accessibility of the country by water, its resources, and the population so reached. Such an exploration would cost but little; it can do no harm, and may result in establishing a trade of value to both nations.”

“In further connection with the Treasury Department I would recommend a revision and codification of the tariff laws, and the opening of more mints for coining money, with authority to coin for such nations as may apply.”

“While inviting your general attention to all the recommendations made by the Secretary of War, there are two which I would especially invite you to consider: First, the importance of preparing for war in time of peace by providing proper armament for our sea-coast defenses. Proper armament is of vastly more importance than fortifications. The latter can be supplied very speedily for temporary purposes when needed; the former cannot. The second is the necessity of re-opening promotion in the staff corps of the Army. Particularly is this necessity felt in the Medical, Pay, and Ordnance Departments.”

“I invite the favorable consideration of Congress to the suggestions and recommendations of the Postmaster-General for the extension of the free delivery system in all cities having a population of not less than ten thousand; for the prepayment of postage on newspapers and other printed matter of the second class; for a uniform postage and limit of weight on miscellaneous matter; for adjusting the compensation of all postmasters not appointed by the President, by the old method of commissions on the actual receipts of the office, instead of the present mode of fixing the salary in advance upon special returns; and especially do I urge favorable action by Congress on the important recommendations of the Postmaster-General for the establishment of United States postal savings depositories.

“Your attention is also again called to a consideration of the question of postal telegraphs, and the arguments adduced in support thereof, in the hope that you may take such action in connection therewith as in your judgment will most contribute to the best interests of the country.”

Utah.—“To prevent anarchy there, it is absolutely necessary that Congress provide the courts with some mode of obtaining jurors, and I recommend legislation to that end; and also that the probate courts of the Territory, now assuming to issue writs of injunction and habeas corpus, and to try criminal cases and questions as to land-titles, be denied all jurisdiction not possessed ordinarily by courts of that description.”

Bankruptcy and fictitious claims.—“I recommend that so much of said act as provides for involuntary bankruptcy on account of the suspension of payment be repealed.

“Your careful attention is invited to the subject of claims against the Government, and to the facilities afforded by existing laws for their prosecution. Each of the Departments of State, Treasury, and War have demands for many millions of dollars upon their files, and they are rapidly [Page XXVII] accumulating. To these may be added those now pending before Congress, the Court of Claims, and the Southern Claims Commission, making in the aggregate an immense sum. Most of these grow out of the rebellion, and are intended to indemnify persons on both sides for their losses during the war; and not a few of them are fabricated and supported by false testimony. Projects are on foot, it is believed, to induce Congress to provide for new classes of claims, and to revive old ones through the repeal or modification of the statute of limitations, by which they are now barred. I presume these schemes, if proposed, will be received with little favor by Congress, and I recommend that persons having claims against the United States cognizable by any tribunal or Department thereof be required to present them at an early day, and that legislation be directed as far as practicable to the defeat of unfounded and unjust demands upon the Government; and I would suggest, as a means of preventing fraud, that witnesses be called upon to appear in person to testify before those tribunals having said claims before them for adjudication. Probably the largest saving to the national Treasury can be secured by timely legislation on these subjects of any of the economic measures that will be proposed.”

Support of Indians east of Rocky Mountains.—“As a preparatory step for this consummation, I am now satisfied that a territorial form of government should be given them, which will secure the treaty-rights of the original settlers, and protect their homesteads from alienation for a period of twenty years.”

Census.—“It is believed, however, that a regular census every five years would be of substantial benefit to the country, inasmuch as our growth hitherto has been so rapid that the results of the decennial census are necessarily unreliable as a basis of estimates for the latter years of a decennial period.”

Colorado, and irrigation from eastern slope of Rocky Mountains to Missouri River.—“I would recommend for your favorable consideration the passage of an enabling act for the admittance of Colorado as a State in the Union. It possesses all the elements of a prosperous State, agricultural and mineral, and, I believe, has a population now to justify such admission. In connection with this I would also recommend the encouragement of a canal for purposes of irrigation from the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains to the Missouri River. As a rule, I am opposed to further donations of public lands for internal improvements, owned and controlled by private corporations, but in this instance I would make an exception.”

Civil-service reform.—“In three successive messages to Congress I have called attention to the subject of ‘civil-service reform.’

“Action has been taken so far as to authorize the appointment of a board to devise rules governing methods of making appointments and promotions, but there never has been any action making these rules, or any rules, binding, or even entitled to observance where persons desire the appointment of a friend, or the removal of an official who may be disagreeable to them.

“To have any rules effective they must have the acquiescence of Congress as well as of the Executive. I commend, therefore, the subject to your attention, and suggest that a special committee of Congress might confer with the civil-service board during the present session for the purpose of devising such rules as can be maintained, and which will secure the service of honest and capable officials, and which will also protect them in a degree of independence while in office.

“Proper rules will protect Congress, as well as the Executive, from [Page XXVIII] much needless persecution, and will prove of great value to the public at large.”

* * * * * * *

“I renew my previous recommendation to Congress for general amnesty. The number engaged in the late rebellion yet laboring under disabilities is very small, but enough to keep up a constant irritation. No possible danger can accrue to the Government by restoring them to eligibility to hold office.

“I suggest for your consideration the enactment of a law to better secure the civil rights which freedom should secure, but has not effectually secured, to the enfranchised slave.”

sixth annual message, december 7, 1874.

Resumption of specie payments.—“In view of the pledges of the American Congress when our present legal-tender system was adopted, and debt contracted, there should be no delay—certainly no unnecessary delay—in fixing, by legislation, a method by which we will return to specie. To the accomplishment of this end I invite your special attention. I believe firmly that there can be no prosperous and permanent revival of business and industries until a policy is adopted—with legislation to carry it out—looking to a return to a specie basis. It is easy to conceive that the debtor and speculative classes may think it of value to them to make so-called money abundant until they can throw a portion of their burdens upon others. But even these, I believe, would be disappointed in the result if a course should be pursued which will keep in doubt the value of the legal-tender medium of exchange. A revival of productive industry is needed by all classes; by none more than the holders of property, of whatever sort, with debts to liquidate from realization upon its sale. But admitting that these two classes of citizens are to be benefited by expansion, would it be honest to give it? Would not the general loss be too great to justify such relief? Would it not be just as honest and prudent to authorize each debtor to issue his own legal tenders to the extent of his liabilities? Than to do this would it not be safer—for fear of overissues by unscrupulous creditors—to say that all debt obligations are obliterated in the United States, and now we commence anew, each possessing all he has at the time free from incumbrance? These propositions are too absurd to be entertained for a moment by thinking or honest people. Yet every delay in preparation for final resumption partakes of this dishonesty, and is only less in degree as the hope is held out that a convenient season will at last arrive for the good work of redeeming our pledges to commence. It will never come, in my opinion, except by positive action by Congress, or by national disasters which will destroy, for a time at least, the credit of the individual and the state at large. A sound currency might be reached by total bankruptcy and discredit of the integrity of the nation and of individuals. I believe it is in the power of Congress at this session to devise such legislation as will renew confidence, revive all the industries, start us on a career of prosperity to last for many years, and to save the credit of the nation and of the people. Steps toward the return to a specie basis are the great requisites to this devoutly to be sought for end. There are others which I may touch upon hereafter.”

* * * * * * *

“It is the duty of Congress to devise the method of correcting the evils which are acknowledged to exist, and not mine. But I will venture to [Page XXIX] suggest two or three things which seem to me as absolutely necessary to a return to specie payments, the first great requisite in a return to prosperity. The legal-tender clause to the law authorizing the issue of currency by the National Government should be repealed, to take effect as to all contracts entered into after a day fixed in the repealing act; not to apply, however, to payments of salaries by Government, or for other expenditures now provided by law to be paid in currency in the interval pending between repeal and final resumption. Provision should be made by which the Secretary of the Treasury can obtain gold as it may become necessary from time to time from the date when specie redemption commences. To this might and should be added a revenue sufficiently in excess of expenses to insure an accumulation of gold in the Treasury to sustain permanent redemption.

“I commend this subject to your careful consideration, believing that a favorable solution is attainable, and if reached by this Congress that the present and future generations will ever gratefully remember it as their deliverer from a thralldom of evil and disgrace.

“With resumption, free banking may be authorized with safety, giving the same full protection to bill-holders which they have under existing laws. Indeed, I would regard free banking as essential. It would give proper elasticity to the currency. As more currency should be required for the transaction of legitimate business, new banks would be started, and, in turn, banks would wind up their business when it was found that there was a superabundance of currency. The experience and judgment of the people can best decide just how much currency is required for the transaction of the business of the country. It is unsafe to leave the settlement of this question to Congress, the Secretary of the Treasury, or the Executive. Congress should make the regulation under which banks may exist, but should not make banking a monopoly by limiting the amount of redeemable paper currency that shall be authorized. Such importance do I attach to this subject, and so earnestly do I commend it to your attention, that I give it prominence by introducing it at the beginning of this message.”

Chinese immigration.—“In connection with this subject I call the attention of Congress to a generally-conceded fact—that the great proportion of the Chinese immigrants who come to our shores do not come voluntarily to make their homes with us and their labor productive of general prosperity, but come under contracts with headmen who own them almost absolutely. In a worse form does this apply to Chinese women. Hardly a perceptible percentage of them perform any honorable labor, but they are brought for shameful purposes, to the disgrace of the communities where settled and to the great demoralization of the youth of those localities. If this evil practice can be legislated against, it will be my pleasure as well as duty to enforce any regulation to secure so desirable an end.”

Japanese indemnity fund.—“I submit the propriety of applying the income of a part if not of the whole of this fund to the education in the Japanese language of a number of young men to be under obligations to serve the Government for a specified time as interpreters at the legation and the consulates in Japan. A limited number of Japanese youths might at the same time be educated in our own vernacular, and mutual benefits would result to both governments. The importance of having our own citizens, competent, and familiar with the language of Japan, to act as interpreters and in other capacities connected with the legation and the consulates in that country, cannot readily be overestimated.”

Claims of aliens against the United States.—“In this connection, I renew [Page XXX] my recommendation, made at the opening of the last session of Congress, that a special court be created to hear and determine all claims of aliens against the United States arising from acts committed against their persons or property during the insurrection. It appears equitable that opportunity should be offered to citizens of other states to present their claims, as well as to those British subjects whose claims were not admissible under the late commission, to the early decision of some competent tribunal. To this end, I recommend the necessary legislation to organize a court to dispose of all claims of aliens of the nature referred to, in an equitable and satisfactory manner, and to relieve Congress and the Departments from the consideration of these questions.”

Boundary between the United States and British possessions.—“A copy of the report of the commissioner appointed under the act of March 19, 1872, for surveying and marking the boundary between the United States and the British possessions, from the Lake of the Woods to the summit of the Rocky Mountains, is herewith transmitted. I am happy to announce that the field-work of the commission has been completed, and the entire line, from the northwest corner of the Lake of the Woods to the summit of the Rocky Mountains, has been run and marked upon the surface of the earth. It is believed that the amount remaining unexpended of the appropriation made at the last session of Congress will be sufficient to complete the office-work. I recommend that the authority of Congress be given to the use of the unexpended balance of the appropriation in the completion of the work of the commission in making its report and preparing the necessary maps.”

Expatriation and the election of nationality.—“I have again to call the attention of Congress to the unsatisfactory condition of the existing laws with reference to expatriation and the election of nationality. Formerly, amid conflicting opinions and decisions, it was difficult to exactly determine how far the doctrine of perpetual allegiance was applicable to citizens of the United States. Congress, by the act of the 27th of July, 1868, asserted the abstract right of expatriation as a fundamental principle of this Government. Notwithstanding such assertion, and the necessity of frequent application of the principle, no legislation has been had defining what acts or formalities shall work expatriation, or when a citizen shall be deemed to have renounced or to have lost his citizenship. The importance of such definition is obvious.”

Fraudulent naturalization.—“Without placing any additional obstacles in the way or the obtainment of citizenship by the worthy and well-intentioned foreigner who comes in good faith to cast his lot with ours, I earnestly recommend further legislation to punish fraudulent naturalization and to secure the ready cancellation of the record of every naturalization made in fraud.”

Means of increasing the revenue.—“The Secretary of the Treasury in his report favors legislation looking to an early return to specie payments, thus supporting views previously expressed in this message. He also recommends economy in appropriations; calls attention to the loss of revenue from repealing the tax on tea and coffee, without benefit to the consumer; recommends an increase of ten cents a gallon on whisky, and, further, that no modification be made in the banking and currency bill passed at the last session of Congress, unless modification should become necessary by reason of the adoption of measures for returning to specie payments. In these recommendations I cordially join.

“I would suggest to Congress the propriety of re-adjusting the tariff so as to increase the revenue, and, at the same time, decrease the number of articles upon which duties are levied. Those articles which enter [Page XXXI] into our manufactures, and are not produced at home, it seems to me should be entered free. Those articles of manufacture which we produce a constituent part of, but do not produce the whole, that part which we do not produce should enter free also. I will instance fine wool, dyes, &c. These articles must be imported to form a part of the manufacture of the higher grades of woolen goods. Chemicals used as dyes, compounded in medicines, and used in various ways in manufactures, come under this class. The introduction, free of duty, of such wools as we do not produce would stimulate the manufacture of goods requiring the use of those we do produce, and, therefore, would be a benefit to home production. There are many articles entering into ‘home manufactures’ which we do not produce ourselves, the tariff upon which increases the cost of producing the manufactured article. All corrections in this regard are in the direction of bringing labor and capital in harmony with each other, and of supplying one of the elements of prosperity so much needed.”

Treaties ratified.—“Since my last annual message the exchange has been made of the ratification of treaties of extradition with Belgium, Ecuador, Peru, and Salvador; also of a treaty of commerce and navigation with Peru, and one of commerce and consular privileges with Salvador; all of which have been duly proclaimed, as has also a declaration with Russia with reference to trade-marks.”

Wants and necessities of the Army.—“All the recommendations of the Secretary of War I regard as judicious, and I especially commend to your attention the following: The consolidation of Government arsenals; the restoration of mileage to officers traveling under orders; the exemption of money received from the sale of subsistence stores from being covered into the Treasury; the use of appropriations for the purchase of subsistence stores without waiting for the beginning of the fiscal year for which the appropriation is made; for additional appropriations for the collection of torpedo material; for increased appropriations for the manufacture of arms; for relieving the various States from indebtedness for arms charged to them during the rebellion; for dropping officers from the rolls of the Army without trial for the offense of drawing pay more than once for the same period; for the discouragement of the plan to pay soldiers by checks; and for the establishment of a professorship of rhetoric and English literature at West Point. The reasons for these recommendations are obvious, and are set forth sufficiently in the reports attached. I also recommend that the status of the staff corps of the Army be fixed—where this has not already been done—so that promotions may be made and vacancies filled as they occur in each grade when reduced below the number to be fixed by law.”

Certain operations of the Navy.—“Much has been accomplished during the year in aid of science and to increase the sum of general knowledge and further the interests of commerce and civilization. Extensive and much-needed soundings have been made for hydrographic purposes, and to fix the proper routes of ocean telegraphs. Further surveys of the great Isthmus have been undertaken and completed, and two vessels of the Navy are now employed, in conjunction with those of England, France, Germany, and Russia, in observations connected with the transit of Venus, so useful and interesting to the scientific world.”

Education of the people essential to general prosperity.—“Education of the people entitled to exercise the right of franchise I regard essential to general prosperity everywhere, and especially so in republics, where birth, education, or previous condition does not enter into account in [Page XXXII] giving suffrage. Next to the public school, the post-office is the great agent of education over our vast territory.”

Unsettled condition of affairs in some of the Southern States.—“I regret to say that, with preparations for the late election, decided indications appeared in some localities in the Southern States of a determination, by acts of violence and intimidation, to deprive citizens of the freedom of the ballot, because of their political opinions. Bands of men, masked and armed, made their appearance; White Leagues and other societies were formed; large quantities of arms and ammunition were imported and distributed to these organizations; military drills, with menacing demonstrations, were held; and, with all these, murders enough were committed to spread terror among those whose political action was to be suppressed, if possible, by these intolerant and criminal proceedings. In some places colored laborers were compelled to vote according to the wishes of their employers, under threats of discharge if they acted otherwise; and there are too many instances in which, when these threats were disregarded, they were remorselessly executed by those who made them. I understand that the fifteenth amendment to the Constitution was made to prevent this and a like state of things, and the act of May 31, 1870, with amendments, was passed to enforce its provisions, the object of both being to guarantee to all citizens the right to vote and to protect them in the free enjoyment of that right. Enjoined by the Constitution ‘to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,’ and convinced by undoubted evidence that violations of said act had been committed, and that a wide-spread and flagrant disregard of it was contemplated, the proper officers were instructed to prosecute the offenders, and troops were stationed at convenient points to aid these officers, if necessary, in the performance of their official duties. Complaints are made of this interference by Federal authority; but if said amendment and act do not provide for such interference under the circumstances as above stated, then they are without meaning, force, or effect, and the whole scheme of colored enfranchisement is worse than mockery, and little better than a crime. Possibly Congress may find it due to truth and justice to ascertain, by means of a committee, whether the alleged wrongs to colored citizens for political purposes are real, or the reports thereof were manufactured for the occasion.”

* * * * * * *

“The whole subject of Executive interference with the affairs of a State is repugnant to public opinion, to the feeling of those who, from their official capacity, must be used in such interposition, and to him or those who must direct. Unless most clearly on the side of law, such interference becomes a crime; with the law to support it, it is condemned without a hearing. I desire, therefore, that all necessity for Executive direction in local affairs may become unnecessary and obsolete. I invite the attention, not of Congress, but of the people of the United States, to the causes and effects of these unhappy questions. Is there not a disposition on one side to magnify wrongs and outrages, and on the other side to belittle them or justify them? If public opinion could be directed to a correct survey of what is, and to rebuking wrong, and aiding the proper authorities in punishing it, a better state of feeling would be inculcated, and the sooner we would have that peace which would leave the States free indeed to regulate their own domestic affairs. I believe on the part of our citizens of the Southern States—the better part of them—there is a disposition to be law-abiding, and to do no violence either to individuals or to the laws existing. But do they do right in [Page XXXIII] ignoring the existence of violence and bloodshed in resistance to constituted authority? I sympathize with their prostrate condition, and would do all in my power to relieve them; acknowledging that in some instances they have had most trying governments to live under, and very oppressive ones in the way of taxation for nominal improvements, not giving benefits equal to the hardships imposed; but, can they proclaim themselves entirely irresponsible for this condition? They cannot. Violence has been rampant in some localities, and has either been justified or denied by those who could have prevented it. The theory is even raised that there is to be no further interference on the part of the General Government to protect citizens within a State where the State authorities fail to give protection. This is a great mistake. While I remain Executive all the laws of Congress, and the provisions of the Constitution, including the recent amendments added thereto, will be enforced with rigor, but with regret that they should have added one jot or tittle to Executive duties or powers. Let there be fairness in the discussion of Southern questions, the advocates of both, or all political parties, giving honest, truthful reports of occurrences, condemning the wrong and upholding the right, and soon all will be well. Under existing conditions the negro votes the republican ticket because he knows his friends are of that party. Many a good citizen votes the opposite, not because he agrees with the great principles of state which separate parties, but because, generally, he is opposed to negro rule. This is a most delusive cry. Treat the negro as a citizen and a voter—as he is and must remain—and soon parties will be divided, not on the color-line, but on principle. Then we shall have no complaint of sectional interference.”

Increase of judicial districts.—“I respectfully suggest to Congress the propriety of increasing the number of judicial districts in the United States to eleven, the present number being nine, and the creation of two additional judgeships. The territory to be traversed by the circuit judges is so great, and the business of the courts so steadily increasing, that it is growing more and more impossible for them to keep up with the business requiring their attention. Whether this would involve the necessity of adding two more Justices of the Supreme Court to the present number I submit to the judgment of Congress.”

Management of Indian affairs.—“I commend the recommendation of the Secretary for the extension of the homestead-laws to the Indians, and for some sort of territorial government for the Indian Territory. A great majority of the Indians occupying this Territory are believed yet to be incapable of maintaining their rights against the more civilized and enlightened white man. Any territorial form of government given them, therefore, should protect them in their homes and property for a period of at least twenty years, and before its final adoption should be ratified by a majority of those affected.”

Pensions to survivors of war of 1812 residing in Southern States.—“The act of Congress providing the oath which pensioners must subscribe to before drawing their pension cuts off from this bounty a few survivors of the war of 1812 residing in the Southern States. I recommend the restoration of this bounty to all such. The number of persons whose names would thus be restored to the list of pensioners is not large. They are all old persons who could have taken no part in the rebellion, and the services for which they were awarded pensions were in defense of the whole country.”

Civil service.—“The rules adopted to improve the civil service of the Government have been adhered to as closely as has been practicable with [Page XXXIV] the opposition with which they meet. The effect, I believe, has been beneficial on the whole, and has tended to the elevation of the service. But it is impracticable to maintain them without direct and positive support of Congress. Generally the support which this reform receives is from those who give it their support only to find fault when the rules are apparently departed from. Removals from office without preferring charges against parties removed are frequently cited as departures from the rules adopted, and the retention of those against whom charges are made by irresponsible persons, and without good grounds, is also often condemned as a violation of them. Under these circumstances, therefore, I announce that if Congress adjourns without positive legislation on the subject of ‘civil-service reform,’ I will regard such action as a disapproval of the system, and will abandon it, except so far as to require examinations for certain appointees, to determine their fitness. Competitive examinations will be abandoned.”

District of Columbia.—“In ray opinion the District of Columbia should be regarded as the grounds of the National Capital, in which the entire people are interested. I think the proportion of the expenses of the government and improvements to be borne by the General Government, the cities of Washington and Georgetown, and the county, should be carefully and equitably defined.”

seventh annual message, december 7, 1875.

Compulsory education by constitutional amendment.—“As the primary step, therefore, to our advancement in all that has marked our progress in the past century, I suggest for your earnest consideration, and most earnestly recommend it, that a constitutional amendment be submitted to the legislatures of the several States for ratification, making it the duty of each of the several States to establish and forever maintain free public schools adequate to the education of all the children in the rudimentary branches within their respective limits, irrespective of sex, color, birth-place, or religions; forbidding the teaching in said schools of religious, atheistic, or pagan tenets; and prohibiting the granting of any school-funds or school-taxes, or any part thereof, either by legislative, municipal, or other authority, for the benefit or in aid, directly or indirectly, of any religious sect or denomination, or in aid or for the benefit of any other object of any nature or kind whatever.”

Taxation of church property.—“I would suggest the taxation of all property equally, whether church or corporation, exempting only the last resting-place of the dead, and, possibly, with proper restrictions, church-edifices.”

Virginius indemnity.—“In March last an arrangement was made through Mr. Cushing, our minister in Madrid, with the Spanish government, for the payment by the latter to the United States of the sum of eighty thousand dollars in coin, for the purpose of the relief of the families or persons of the ship’s company and certain passengers of the Virginius. This sum was to have been paid in three installments at two months each. It is due to the Spanish government that I should state that the payments were fully and spontaneously anticipated by that government, and that the whole amount was paid within but a few days more than two months from the date of the agreement, a copy of which is herewith transmitted. In pursuance of the terms of the adjustment, I have directed the distribution of the amount among the parties entitled thereto, including the ship’s company, and such of the passengers as were American citizens. [Page XXXV] Payments are made accordingly, on the application by the parties entitled thereto.”

Cuba.—“Recognition of its independence deemed impracticable, and accordance of belligerent rights regarded indefensible as a measure of right. Mediation and intervention of other nations apparently the only alternative to be invoked for the termination of strife.”

Depredations by armed bands from Mexico on the people of Texas.—“The military force of this Government disposable for service in that quarter is quite inadequate to effectually guard the line, even at those points where the incursions are usually made. An experiment of an armed vessel on the Rio Grande for that purpose is on trial, and it is hoped that, if not thwarted by the shallowness of the river and other natural obstacles, it may materially contribute to the protection of the herdsmen of Texas.”

Claims of aliens against the United States.—“I recommend that some suitable provision be made, by the creation of a special court or by conferring the necessary jurisdiction upon some appropriate tribunal, for the consideration and determination of the claims of aliens against the Government of the United States which have arisen within some reasonable limitation of time, or which may hereafter arise, excluding all claims barred by treaty-provisions or otherwise. It has been found impossible to give proper consideration to these claims by the Executive Departments of the Government. Such a tribunal would afford an opportunity to aliens other than British subjects to present their claims on account of acts committed against their persons or property during the rebellion, as also to those subjects of Great Britain whose claims, having arisen subsequent to the 9th day of April, 1865, could not be presented to th late commission organized pursuant to the provisions of the treaty of Washington.”

Occupation of new State Department.—“In the month of July last the building erected for the Department of State was taken possession of and occupied by that Department. I am happy to announce that the archives and valuable papers of the Government in the custody of that Department are now safely deposited and properly cared for.”

Treasury.—Partial repeal of legal-tender act, &c.—“A repeal of so much of the legal-tender act as makes these notes receivable for debts contracted after a day to be fixed in the act itself, say not later than the 1st of January, 1877.

* * * * * * *

  • “Second, that the Secretary of the Treasury be authorized to redeem, say not to exceed two million ($2,000,000) dollars monthly of legal-tender notes, by issuing in their stead a long bond, bearing interest at the rate of 3.65 per cent. per annum, of denominations ranging from $50 up to $1,000 each. This would in time reduce the legal-tender notes to a volume that could be kept afloat without demanding a redemption in large sums suddenly.
  • “Third. That an additional power be given to the Secretary of the Treasury to accumulate gold for final redemption, either by increasing revenue, curtailing expenses, or both—it is preferable to do both; and I recommend that reduction of expenditures be made wherever it can be done without impairing Government obligations or crippling the due exception thereof. One measure for increasing the revenue—and the only one I think of—is the restoration of the duty on tea and coffee. These duties would add probably $18,000,000 to the present amount received from imports, and would in no way increase the prices paid for those articles by the consumers.”
[Page XXXVI]

Annuities for families of deceased Army officers.—“The enactment of a system of annuities for the families of deceased officers by voluntary deductions from the monthly pay of officers. This again is not attended with burden upon the Treasury, and would for the future relieve much distress which every old Army officer has witnessed in the past—of officers dying suddenly or being killed, leaving families without even the means of reaching their friends, if fortunate enough to have friends to aid them.”

Permanent organization of Signal-Service Corps recommended.

Centennial celebration.—“The powers of Europe, almost without exception, many of the South American states, and even the more distant eastern powers, have manifested their friendly sentiments toward the United States, and the interest of the world in our progress, by taking steps to join with us in celebrating the Centennial of the nation, and I strongly recommend that a more national importance be given to this exhibition by such legislation and by such appropriation as will insure its success. Its value in bringing to our snores innumerable useful works of art and skill, the commingling of the citizens of foreign countries and our own, and the interchange of ideas and manufactures, will far exceed any pecuniary outlay we may make.”

Geological explorations in Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico Territories.—“The geological explorations have been prosecuted with energy during the year, covering an area of about forty thousand square miles in the Territories of Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico, developing the agricultural and mineral resources, and furnishing interesting scientific and topographical details of that region.”

Utah—Polygamy.—“In nearly every annual message that I have bad the honor of transmitting to Congress, I have called attention to the anomalous, not to say scandalous, condition of affairs existing in the Territory of Utah, and have asked for definite legislation to correct it. That polygamy should exist in a free, enlightened, and Christian country, without power to punish so flagrant a crime against decency and morality, seems preposterous. True, there is no law to sustain this unnatural vice, but what is needed is a law to punish it as a crime, and at the same time to fix the status of the innocent children—the offspring of this system—and of the possibly innocent plural wives. But, as an istitution, polygamy should be banished from the land.”

Importation of Chinese women.—“While this is being done, I invite the attention of Congress to another, though perhaps no less an evil, the importation of Chinese women, but few of whom are brought to our shores to pursue honorable or useful occupations.”

Necessity for amendment of public land and mining laws.—“Observations while visiting the Territories of Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado, during the past autumn, convinced me that existing laws regulating the disposition of public lands, timber, &c., and probably the mining laws themselves, are very defective, and should be carefully amended, and at an early day. In territory where cultivation of the soil can only be followed by irrigation, and where irrigation is not practicable the lands can only be used as pasturage, and this only where stock can reach water, (to quench its thirst,) cannot be governed by the laws as to entries as lands every acre of which is an independent estate by itself.

“Land must be held in larger quantities to justify the expense of conducting water upon it to make it fruitful, or to justify utilizing it as pasturage. The timber in most of the Territories is principally confined to the mountain regions, which are held for entry in small quantities only, and as mineral lands. The timber is the property of the United [Page XXXVII] States, for the disposal of which there is now no adequate law. The settler must become a consumer of this timber, whether he lives upon the plain or engages in working the mines. Hence every man becomes either a trespasser himself, or, knowingly, a patron of trespassers.

“My opportunities for observation were not sufficient to justify me in recommending specific legislation on these subjects, but I do recommend that a joint committee of the two houses of Congress—sufficiently large to be divided into subcommittees—be organized to visit all the mining States and Territories during the coming summer, and that the committee shall report to Congress at the next session such laws, or amendments to laws, as it may deem necessary to secure the best interests of the Government and the people of these Territories, who are doing so much for their development.”

Summary of questions deemed of vital importance.—“As this will be the last annual message which I shall have the honor of transmitting to Congress before my successor is chosen, I will repeat or recapitulate the questions which I deem of vital importance, which may be legislated upon and settled at this session:

  • “First. That the States shall be required to afford the opportunity of a good common-school education to every child within their limits.
  • “Second. No sectarian tenets shall ever be taught in any school supported in whole or in part by the State, nation, or by the proceeds of any tax levied upon any community. Make education compulsory, so as to deprive all persons who cannot read and write from becoming voters after the year 1890, disfranchising none, however, on grounds of illiteracy who may be voters at the time this amendment takes effect.
  • “Third. Declare church and state forever separate and distinct, but each free within their proper spheres; and that all church property shall bear its own proportion of taxation.
  • “Fourth. Drive out licensed immorality, such as polygamy and the importation of women for illegitimate purposes. To recur again to the Centennial year, it would seem as though now, as we are about to begin the second century of our national existence, would be a most fitting time for these reforms.
  • “Fifth. Enact such laws as will insure a speedy return to a sound currency, such as will command the respect of the world.”

  1. Panic, 1873.