The Writings of Abraham Lincoln Vol. 1-7


iSpeech

It would be doing injustice to an important South American State not
to acknowledge the directness, frankness, and cordiality with which
the United States of Colombia have entered into intimate relations
with this government. A claims convention has been constituted to
complete the unfinished work of the one which closed its session in
1861.

The new liberal constitution of Venezuela having gone into effect
with the universal acquiescence of the people, the government under
it has been recognized and diplomatic intercourse with it has opened
in a cordial and friendly spirit. The long-deferred Aves Island
claim has been satisfactorily paid and discharged.

Mutual payments have been made of the claims awarded by the late
joint commission for the settlement of claims between the United
States and Peru. An earnest and cordial friendship continues to
exist between the two countries, and such efforts as were in my power
have been used to remove misunderstanding, and avert a threatened war
between Peru and Spain.

Our relations are of the most friendly nature with Chile, the
Argentine Republic, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Paraguay, San Salvador, and
Haiti.

During the past year no differences of any kind have arisen with any
of these republics, and on the other hand, their sympathies with the
United States are constantly expressed with cordiality and
earnestness.

The claim arising from the seizure of the cargo of the brig
Macedonian in 1821 has been paid in full by the Government of Chile.

Civil war continues in the Spanish part of San Domingo, apparently
without prospect of an early close.

Official correspondence has been freely opened with Liberia, and it
gives us a pleasing view of social and political progress in that
republic. It may be expected to derive new vigor from American
influence improved by the rapid disappearance of slavery in the
United States.

I solicit your authority to furnish to the republic a gunboat, at
moderate cost, to be reimbursed to the United States by instalments.
Such a vessel is needed for the safety of that state against the
native African races, and in Liberian hands it would be more
effective in arresting the African slave-trade than a squadron in our
own hands. The possession of the least organized naval force would
stimulate a generous ambition in the republic, and the confidence
which we should manifest by furnishing it would win forbearance and
favor toward the colony from all civilized nations.

The proposed overland telegraph between America and Europe, by the
way of Bering Straits and Asiatic Russia, which was sanctioned by
Congress at the last session, has been undertaken, under very
favorable circumstances, by an association of American citizens, with
the cordial good-will and support as well of this Government as of
those of Great Britain and Russia. Assurances have been received
from most of the South American States of their high appreciation of
the enterprise and their readiness to co-operate in constructing
lines tributary to that world-encircling communication. I learn with
much satisfaction that the noble design of a telegraphic
communication between the eastern coast of America and Great Britain
has been renewed, with full expectation of its early accomplishment.

Thus it is hoped that with the return of domestic peace the country
will be able to resume with energy and advantage its former high
career of commerce and civilization.

Our very popular and estimable representative in Egypt died in April
last. An unpleasant altercation which arose between the temporary
incumbent of the office and the Government of the Pasha resulted in a
suspension of intercourse. The evil was promptly corrected on the
arrival of the successor in the consulate, and our relations with
Egypt, as well as our relations with the Barbary Powers) are entirely
satisfactory.

The rebellion which has so long been flagrant in China has at last
been suppressed, with the co-operating good offices of this
Government and of the other Western commercial States. The judicial
consular establishment there has become very difficult and onerous,
and it will need legislative revision to adapt it to the extension of
our commerce and to the more intimate intercourse which has been
instituted with the Government and people of that vast Empire. China
seems to be accepting with hearty good-will the conventional laws
which regulate commercial and social intercourse among the Western
nations.

Owing to the peculiar situation of Japan and the anomalous form of
its Government, the action of that empire in performing treaty
stipulations is inconstant and capricious. Nevertheless, good
progress has been effected by the Western powers, moving with
enlightened concert. Our own pecuniary claims have been allowed or
put in course of settlement, and the inland sea has been reopened to
commerce. There is reason also to believe that these proceedings
have increased rather than diminished the friendship of Japan toward
the United States.

The ports of Norfolk, Fernandina, and Pensacola have been opened by
proclamation. It is hoped that foreign merchants will now consider
whether it is not safer and more profitable to themselves, as well as
just to the United States, to resort to these and other open ports
than it is to pursue, through many hazards and at vast cost, a
contraband trade with other ports which are closed, if not by actual
military occupation, at least by a lawful and effective blockade.

For myself, I have no doubt of the power and duty of the Executive,
under the law of nations, to exclude enemies of the human race from
an asylum in the United States. If Congress should think that
proceedings in such cases lack the authority of law, or ought to be
further regulated by it, I recommend that provision be made for
effectually preventing foreign slave traders from acquiring domicile
and facilities for their criminal occupation in our country.

It is possible that if it were a new and open question the maritime
powers, with the lights they now enjoy, would not concede the
privileges of a naval belligerent to the insurgents of the United
States, destitute, as they are, and always have been, equally of
ships of war and of ports and harbors. Disloyal emissaries have been
neither assiduous nor more successful during the last year than they
were before that time in their efforts, under favor of that
privilege, to embroil our country in foreign wars. The desire and
determination of the governments of the maritime states to defeat
that design are believed to be as sincere as and can not be more
earnest than our own. Nevertheless, unforeseen political
difficulties have arisen, especially in Brazilian and British ports
and on the northern boundary of the United States, which have
required, and are likely to continue to require, the practice of
constant vigilance and a just and conciliatory spirit on the part of
the United States, as well as of the nations concerned and their
governments.

Commissioners have been appointed under the treaty with Great Britain
on the adjustment of the claims of the Hudson Bay and Puget Sound
Agricultural Companies, in Oregon, and are now proceeding to the
execution of the trust assigned to them.

In view of the insecurity of life and property in the region adjacent
to the Canadian border, by reason of recent assaults and depredations
committed by inimical and desperate persons who are harbored there,
it has been thought proper to give notice that after the expiration
of six months, the period conditionally stipulated in the existing
arrangement with Great Britain, the United States must hold
themselves at liberty to increase their naval armament upon the Lakes
if they shall find that proceeding necessary. The condition of the
border will necessarily come into consideration in connection with
the question of continuing or modifying the rights of transit from
Canada through the United States, as well as the regulation of
imposts, which were temporarily established by the reciprocity treaty
of the 5th June, 1854.

I desire, however, to be understood while making this statement that
the colonial authorities of Canada are not deemed to be intentionally
unjust or unfriendly toward the United States, but, on the contrary,
there is every reason to expect that, with the approval of the
Imperial Government, they will take the necessary measures to prevent
new incursions across the border.

The act passed at the last session for the encouragement of
immigration has so far as was possible been put into operation. It
seems to need amendment which will enable the officers of the
Government to prevent the practice of frauds against the immigrants
while on their way and on their arrival in the ports, so as to secure
them here a free choice of avocations and places of settlement. A
liberal disposition toward this great national policy is manifested
by most of the European States, and ought to be reciprocated on our
part by giving the immigrants effective national protection. I
regard our immigrants as one of the principal replenishing streams
which are appointed by Providence to repair the ravages of internal
war and its wastes of national strength and health. All that is
necessary is to secure the flow of that stream in its present
fullness, and to that end the Government must in every way make it
manifest that it neither needs nor designs to impose involuntary
military service upon those who come from other lands to cast their
lot in our country. The financial affairs of the Government have
been successfully administered during the last year. The legislation
of the last session of Congress has beneficially affected the
revenues, although sufficient time has not yet elapsed to experience
the full effect of several of the provisions of the acts of Congress
imposing increased taxation.

The receipts during the year from all sources, upon the basis of
warrants signed by the Secretary of the Treasury, including loans and
the balance in the Treasury on the 1st day of July, 1863, were
$1,394,
196,007.62, and the aggregate disbursements, upon the same basis,
were $1,298,056,101.89, leaving a balance in the Treasury, as shown
by warrants, of $96,739,905.73.

Deduct from these amounts the amount of the principal of the public
debt redeemed and the amount of issues in substitution therefor, and
the actual cash operations of the Treasury were: receipts,
$884,076,646.57; disbursements, $865,234,087.86; which leaves a cash
balance in the Treasury of $18,842,558.71.

Of the receipts there were derived from customs $102,316,152.99,
from lands $588,333.29, from direct taxes $475,648.96, from
internal revenue $109,741,134.10, from miscellaneous sources
$47,511,448.10, and from loans applied to actual expenditures,
including former balance, $623,443,929.13.

There were disbursed for the civil service $27,505,599.46, for
pensions and Indians $7,517,930.97, for the War Department
$690,791,842.97, for the Navy Department $85,733,292.77, for interest
on the public debt $53,685,421.69, making an aggregate of
$865,234,087.86, and leaving a balance in the Treasury of
$18,842,558.71, as before stated.

For the actual receipts and disbursements for the first quarter and
the estimated receipts and disbursements for the three remaining
quarters of the current fiscal year, and the general operations of
the Treasury in detail, I refer you to the report of the Secretary of
the Treasury. I concur with him in the opinion that the proportion
of moneys required to meet the expenses consequent upon the war
derived from taxation should be still further increased; and I
earnestly invite your attention to this subject to the end that there
be such additional legislation as shall be required to meet the just
expectations of the Secretary.

The public debt on the first day of July last, as appears by the
books of the Treasury, amounted to $1,740,690,489.49. Probably,
should the war continue for another year, that amount may be
increased by not far from $500,000,000. Held, as it is, for the most
part by our own people, it has become a substantial branch of
national, though private, property. For obvious reasons the more
nearly this property can be distributed among all the people the
better. To favor such general distribution, greater inducements to
become owners might, perhaps, with good effect and without injury be
presented to persons of limited means. With this view I suggest
whether it might not be both competent and expedient for Congress to
provide that a limited amount of some future issue of public
securities might be held by any bona fide purchaser exempt from
taxation and from seizure for debt, under such restrictions and
limitations as might be necessary to guard against abuse of so
important a privilege. This would enable every prudent person to set
aside a small annuity against a possible day of want.

Privileges like these would render the possession of such securities
to the amount limited most desirable to every person of small means
who might be able to save enough for the purpose. The great
advantage of citizens being creditors as well as debtors with
relation to the public debt is obvious. Men readily perceive that
they can not be much oppressed by a debt which they owe to
themselves.

The public debt on the first day of July last, although somewhat
exceeding the estimate of the Secretary of the Treasury made to
Congress at the commencement of the last session, falls short of the
estimate of that officer made in the preceding December as to its
probable amount at the beginning of this year by the sum of
$3,995,097.31. This fact exhibits a satisfactory condition and
conduct of the operations of the Treasury.

The national banking system is proving to be acceptable to
capitalists and to the people. On the twenty-fifth day of November
five hundred and eighty-four national banks had been organized, a
considerable number of which were conversions from State banks.
Changes from State systems to the national system are rapidly taking
place, and it is hoped that very soon there will be in the United
States no banks of issue not authorized by Congress and no bank-note
circulation not secured by the Government. That the Government and
the people will derive great benefit from this change in the banking
systems of the country can hardly be questioned. The national system
will create a reliable and permanent influence in support of the
national credit and protect the people against losses in the use of
paper money. Whether or not any further legislation is advisable for
the suppression of State-bank issues, it will be for Congress to
determine. It seems quite clear that the Treasury can not be
satisfactorily conducted unless the Government can exercise a
restraining power over the bank-note circulation of the country.

The report of the Secretary of War and the accompanying documents
will detail the campaigns of the armies in the field since the date
of the last annual message, and also the operations of the several
administrative bureaus of the War Department during the last year.
It will also specify the measures deemed essential for the national
defense and to keep up and supply the requisite military force.

The report of the Secretary of the Navy presents a comprehensive and
satisfactory exhibit of the affairs of that Department and of the
naval service. It is a subject of congratulation and laudable pride
to our countrymen that a Navy of such vast proportions has been
organized in so brief a period and conducted with so much efficiency
and success.

The general exhibit of the Navy, including vessels under construction
on the first of December, 1864, shows a total of 671 vessels,
carrying 4610 guns, and of 510,396 tons, being an actual increase
during the year, over and above all losses by shipwreck or in battle,
of 83 vessels, 167 guns, and 42,427 tons.

The total number of men at this time in the naval service, including
officers, is about 51,000.

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