The Writings of Abraham Lincoln Vol. 1-7


iSpeech

A novel and important question, involving the extent of the maritime
jurisdiction of Spain in the waters which surround the island of
Cuba, has been debated without reaching an agreement, and it is
proposed, in an amicable spirit, to refer it to the arbitrament of a
friendly power. A convention for that purpose will be submitted to
the Senate.

I have thought it proper, subject to the approval of the Senate, to
concur with the interested commercial powers in an arrangement for
the liquidation of the Scheldt dues upon the principles which have
been heretofore adopted in regard to the imposts upon navigation in
the waters of Denmark.

The long-pending controversy between this government and that of
Chile touching the seizure at Sitana, in Peru, by Chilean officers,
of a large amount in treasure belonging to citizens of the United
States has been brought to a close by the award of His Majesty the
King of the Belgians, to whose arbitration the question was referred
by the parties. The subject was thoroughly and patiently examined by
that justly respected magistrate, and although the sum awarded to the
claimants may not have been as large as they expected there is no
reason to distrust the wisdom of His Majesty's decision. That
decision was promptly complied with by Chile when intelligence in
regard to it reached that country.

The joint commission under the act of the last session of carrying
into effect the convention with Peru on the subject of claims has
been organized at Lima, and is engaged in the business intrusted to
it.

Difficulties concerning interoceanic transit through Nicaragua are in
course of amicable adjustment.

In conformity with principles set forth in my last annual message, I
have received a representative from the United States of Colombia,
and have accredited a minister to that Republic.

Incidents occurring in the progress of our civil war have forced upon
my attention the uncertain state of international questions touching
the rights of foreigners in this country and of United States
citizens abroad. In regard to some governments these rights are at
least partially defined by treaties. In no instance, however, is it
expressly stipulated that in the event of civil war a foreigner
residing in this country within the lines of the insurgents is to be
exempted from the rule which classes him as a belligerent, in whose
behalf the government of his country can not expect any privileges or
immunities distinct from that character. I regret to say, however,
that such claims have been put forward, and in some instances in
behalf of foreigners who have lived in the United States the greater
part of their lives.

There is reason to believe that many persons born in foreign
countries who have declared their intention to become citizens, or
who have been fully naturalized have evaded the military duty
required of them by denying the fact and thereby throwing upon the
Government the burden of proof. It has been found difficult or
impracticable to obtain this proof. from the want of guides to the
proper sources of information. These might be supplied by requiring
clerks of courts where declarations of intention may be made or
naturalizations effected to send periodically lists of the names of
the persons naturalized or declaring their intention to become
citizens to the Secretary of the Interior, in whose Department those
names might be arranged and printed for general information.

There is also reason to believe that foreigners frequently become
citizens of the United States for the sole purpose of evading duties
imposed by the laws of their native countries, to which on becoming
naturalized here they at once repair, and though never returning to
the United States they still claim the interposition of this
government as citizens. Many altercations and great prejudices have
heretofore arisen out of this abuse. It is therefore submitted to
your serious consideration. It might be advisable to fix a limit
beyond which no citizen of the United States residing abroad may
claim the interposition of his government.

The right of suffrage has often been assumed and exercised by aliens
under pretenses of naturalization, which they have disavowed when
drafted into the military service. I submit the expediency of such
an amendment of the law as will make the fact of voting an estoppe
against any plea of exemption from military service or other civil
obligation on the ground of alienage.

In common with other Western powers, our relations with Japan have
been brought into serious jeopardy through the perverse opposition of
the hereditary aristocracy of the Empire to the enlightened and
liberal policy of the Tycoon, designed to bring the country into the
society of nations. It is hoped, although not with entire
confidence, that these difficulties may be peacefully overcome. I
ask your attention to the claim of the minister residing there for
the damages he sustained in the destruction by fire of the residence
of the legation at Yedo.

Satisfactory arrangements have been made with the Emperor of Russia,
which, it is believed, will result in effecting a continuous line of
telegraph through that Empire from our Pacific coast.

I recommend to your favorable consideration the subject of an
international telegraph across the Atlantic Ocean, and also of a
telegraph between this capital and the national forts along the
Atlantic seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico. Such communications,
established with any reasonable outlay, would be economical as well
as effective aids to the diplomatic, military, and naval service.

The consular system of the United States, under the enactments of the
last Congress, begins to be self-sustaining, and there is reason to
hope that it may become entirely so with the increase of trade which
will ensue whenever peace is restored. Our ministers abroad have
been faithful in defending American rights. In protecting commercial
interests our consuls have necessarily had to encounter increased
labors and responsibilities growing out of the war. These they have
for the most part met and discharged with zeal and efficiency. This
acknowledgment justly includes those consuls who, residing in
Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Japan, China, and other Oriental countries,
are charged with complex functions and extraordinary powers.

The condition of the several organized Territories is generally
satisfactory, although Indian disturbances in New Mexico have not
been entirely suppressed. The mineral resources of Colorado, Nevada,
Idaho, New Mexico, and Arizona are proving far richer than has been
heretofore understood. I lay before you a communication on this
subject from the Governor of New Mexico. I again submit to your
consideration the expediency of establishing a system for the
encouragement of immigration. Although this source of national
wealth and strength is again flowing with greater freedom than for
several years before the insurrection occurred, there is still a
great deficiency of laborers in every field of industry, especially
in agriculture and in our mines, as well of iron and coal as of the
precious metals. While the demand for labor is much increased here,
tens of thousands of persons, destitute of remunerative occupation,
are thronging our foreign consulates and offering to emigrate to the
United States if essential, but very cheap, assistance can be
afforded them. It is easy to see that under the sharp discipline of
civil war the nation is beginning a new life. This noble effort
demands the aid and ought to receive the attention and support of the
Government.

Injuries unforeseen by the Government and unintended may in some
cases have been inflicted on the subjects or citizens of foreign
countries, both at sea and on land, by persons in the service of the
United States. As this government expects redress from other powers
when similar injuries are inflicted by persons in their service upon
citizens of the United States, we must be prepared to do justice to
foreigners. If the existing judicial tribunals are inadequate to
this purpose, a special court may be authorized, with power to hear
and decide such claims of the character referred to as may have
arisen under treaties and the public law. Conventions for adjusting
the claims by joint commission have been proposed to some
governments, but no definitive answer to the proposition has yet been
received from any.

In the course of the session I shall probably have occasion to
request you to provide indemnification to claimants where decrees of
restitution have been rendered and damages awarded by admiralty
courts, and in other cases where this government may be acknowledged
to be liable in principle and where the amount of that liability has
been ascertained by an informal arbitration.

The proper officers of the Treasury have deemed themselves required
by the law of the United States upon the subject to demand a tax upon
the incomes of foreign consuls in this country. While such a demand
may not in strictness be in derogation of public law, or perhaps of
any existing treaty between the United States and a foreign country,
the expediency of so far modifying the act as to exempt from tax the
income of such consuls as are not citizens of the United States,
derived from the emoluments of their office or from property not
situated in the United States, is submitted to your serious
consideration. I make this suggestion upon the ground that a comity
which ought to be reciprocated exempts our consuls in all other
countries from taxation to the extent thus indicated. The United
States, I think, ought not to be exceptionally illiberal to
international trade and commerce.

The operations of the Treasury during the last year have been
successfully conducted. The enactment by Congress of a national
banking law has proved a valuable support of the public credit, and
the general legislation in relation to loans has fully answered the
expectations of its favorers. Some amendments may be required to
perfect existing laws, but no change in their principles or general
scope is believed to be needed.

Since these measures have been in operation all demands on the
Treasury, including the pay of the Army and Navy, have been promptly
met and fully satisfied. No considerable body of troops, it is
believed, were ever more amply provided and more liberally and
punctually paid, and it may be added that by no people were the
burdens incident to a great war ever more cheerfully borne.

The receipts during the year from all sources, including loans and
balance in the Treasury at its commencement, were $901,125,674.86,
and the aggregate disbursements $895,796,630.65, leaving a balance on
the 1st of July, 1863, of $5,329,044.21. Of the receipts there were
derived from customs $69,059,642.40, from internal revenue
$37,640,787.95, from direct tax $1,485,103.61, from lands
$167,617.17, from miscellaneous sources $3,046,615.35, and from loans
$776,682,361.57, making the aggregate $901,125,674.86. Of the
disbursements there were for the civil service $23,253,922.08, for
pensions and Indians $4,216,520.79, for interest on public debt
$24,729,846.51, for the War Department $599,298,600.83, for the Navy
Department $63,211,105.27, for payment of funded and temporary debt
$181,086,635.07,making the aggregate $895,796,630.65 and leaving the
balance of $5,329,044.21. But the payment of funded and temporary
debt, having been made from moneys borrowed during the year, must be
regarded as merely nominal payments and the moneys borrowed to make
them as merely nominal receipts, and their amount, $181,086,635.07,
should therefore be deducted both from receipts and disbursements.
This being done there remains as actual receipts $720,039,039.79 and
the actual disbursements $714,709,995.58, leaving the balance as
already stated.

The actual receipts and disbursements for the first quarter and the
estimated receipts and disbursements for the remaining three-quarters
of the current fiscal year (1864) will be shown in detail by the
report of the Secretary of the Treasury, to which I invite your
attention. It is sufficient to say here that it is not believed
that actual results will exhibit a state of the finances less
favorable to the country than the estimates of that officer
heretofore submitted while it is confidently expected that at the
close of the year both disbursements and debt will be found very
considerably less than has been anticipated.

The report of the Secretary of War is a document of great interest.
It consists of:
1.The military operations of the year, detailed in the report of the
General in Chief.
2.The organization of colored persons into the war service.
3.The exchange of prisoners, fully set forth in the letter of General
Hitchcock.
4.The operations under the act for enrolling and calling out the
national forces, detailed in the report of the Provost Marshal
General.
5.The organization of the invalid corps, and
6.The operation of the several departments of the Quartermaster-
General, Commissary-General, Paymaster-General, Chief of Engineers,
Chief of Ordnance, and Surgeon-General.

It has appeared impossible to make a valuable summary of this report,
except such as would be too extended for this place, and hence I
content myself by asking your careful attention to the report itself.

The duties devolving on the naval branch of the service during the
year and throughout the whole of this unhappy contest have been
discharged with fidelity and eminent success. The extensive blockade
has been constantly increasing in efficiency as the Navy has
expanded, yet on so long a line it has so far been impossible to
entirely suppress illicit trade. From returns received at the Navy
Department it appears that more than 1,000 vessels have been captured
since the blockade was instituted? and that the value of prizes
already sent in for adjudication amounts to over $13,000,000.

The naval force of the United States consists at this time of five
hundred and eighty-eight vessels completed and in the course of
completion, and of these seventy-five are ironclad or armored
steamers. The events of the war give an increased interest and
importance to the Navy which will probably extend beyond the war
itself.

The armored vessels in our Navy completed and in service, or which
are under contract and approaching completion, are believed to exceed
in number those of any other power; but while these may be relied
upon for harbor defense and coast service, others of greater strength
and capacity will be necessary for cruising purposes and to maintain
our rightful position on the ocean.

The change that has taken place in naval vessels and naval warfare
since the introduction of steam as a motive power for ships of war
demands either a corresponding change in some of our existing navy
yards or the establishment of new ones for the construction and
necessary repair of modern naval vessels. No inconsiderable
embarrassment, delay, and public injury have been experienced from
the want of such governmental establishments. The necessity of such
a navy-yard, so furnished, at some suitable place upon the Atlantic
seaboard has on repeated occasions been brought to the attention of
Congress by the Navy Department, and is again presented in the report
of the Secretary which accompanies this communication. I think it my
duty to invite your special attention to this subject, and also to
that of establishing a yard and depot for naval purposes upon one of
the Western rivers. A naval force has been created on those interior
waters, and under many disadvantages, within little more than two
years, exceeding in numbers the whole naval force of the country at
the commencement of the present Administration. Satisfactory and
important as have been the performances of the heroic men of the Navy
at this interesting period, they are scarcely more wonderful than the
success of our mechanics and artisans in the production of war
vessels, which has created a new form of naval power.

Our country has advantages superior to any other nation in our
resources of iron and timber, with inexhaustible quantities of fuel
in the immediate vicinity of both, and all available and in close
proximity to navigable waters. Without the advantage of public
works, the resources of the nation have been developed and its power
displayed in the construction of a Navy of such magnitude, which has
at the very period of its creation rendered signal service to the
Union.

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