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zens, and in the councils of those representing them in the other departments associated in the care of the national interests. In these my confidence will, under every difficulty, be best placed; next to that which we have all been encouraged to feel in the guardianship and guidance of that Almighty Being, whose power regulates the destiny of nations, whose blessings have been se conspicuously dispensed to this rising Republick, and to whom we are bound to address our devout gratitude for the past, as well as our fervent supplications and best hopes for the future.
FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, TO BOTH
HOUSES OF CONGRESS. MAY 23, 1809. Fellow Citizens of the Senate and
of the House of Representatives, On this first occasion of meeting you, it affords me much satisfaction to be able to communicate the commencement of a favourable change in our foreign relations; the critical state of which induced a session of Congress at this carly period.
In consequence of the provisions of the act interdicting commercial intercourse with Great Britain and France, our ministers at London and Paris were, without delay, instructed to let it be understood by the French and British governments, that the authority vested in the Execulive, to renew commercial intercourse with their respective nations, would be exercised in the case specified by that act.
Soon after these instructions were despatched, it was found that the British government, anticipating, from early proceedings of Congress, at their last session, the state of our laws, which has had the effect of placing the two belligerent powers on a footing of equal restrictions, and relying on the conciliatory disposition of the United States, had transmitted to their legation here, provisional
instructions, not only to offer satisfaction for the attack on the frigate Chesapeake, and to make known the determination of his Britannick majesty, to send an envoy extraordinary with powers to conclude a treaty on all the points between the two countries, but, moreover, to signify his willingness, in the mean time, to withdraw his orders in council, in the persuasion that the intercourse with Great Britain would be renewed on the part of the United States.
These steps of the British government led to the corres. pondence and the proclamation now laid before you ; by' virtue of which, the commerce between the two countries will be renewable after the tenth day of June next.
Whilst I take pleasure in doing justice to the councils of his Britannick majesty, which no longer adhering to the policy which made an abandonment by France, of her decrees, a prerequisite to a revocation of the British orders, have substituted the amicable course which has issued thus happily; I cannot do less than refer to the proposal here-. tofore made on the part of the United States, embracing a like restoration of the suspended commerce, as a proof of the spirit of accommodation which has at no time been intermitted, and to the result which now calls for our congratulations, as corroborating the principles, by which the publick councils have been guided, during a period of the most trying embarrassments.
The discontinuance of the British orders, as they respect the. United States, having been thus arranged, a communication of the event has been forwarded, in one of our publick vessels, to our minister plenipotentiary at Paris ; with instructions to avail hiinself of the important addition thereby made, to the considerations which press on the justice of the French governmont a revocation of its decrees, or such a modification of them, as that they shall cease to violate the neutral commerce of the United States.
The revision of our commercial laws, proper to adapt them to the arrangement which has taken place with Great Britain, will doubtless engage the early attention of Congress. It will be worthy, at the same time, of their just and provident care, to make such further alterations in the laws, as will more especially protect and foster the
several branches of manufacture, which have been recently instituted or extended by the laudable exertions of our citizens.
Under the existing aspect of our affairs, I have thought it not inconsistent with a just precaution, to have the gunboats, with the exception of those at New Orleans, placed in a situation incurring no expense beyond that requisite for their preservation, and conveniency for future service; and to have the crews of those at New Orleans reduced to the number required for their navigation and safety.
I have thought also, that our citizens detached in quotas of militia, amounting to one hundred thousand, under the act of March, one thousand eight hundred and eight, might, not improperly, be relieved from the state in which they were held for immediate service. A discharge of them has been accordingly directed.
The progress made in raising and organizing the additional military force, for which provision was made by the act of April, one thousand eight hundred and eight, together with the disposition of the troops, will appear by a report which the secretary of war is preparing, and which will be laid before you.
Of the additional frigates required, by an act of the last session, to be fitted for actual service, two are in readiness, one nearly so, and the fourth is expected to be ready in the month of July. A report, which the secretary of the navy is preparing on the subject, to be laid before Congress, will show at the same time, the progress made in officering and manning these ships. It will show also the degree in which the provisions of the act, relating to the other publick armed ships have been carried into execution.
It will rest with the judgment of Congress to decide how far the change in our external prospects may authorize any modifications of the laws relating to the army and navy establishments.
The works of defence for our sea-port towns and harbours have proceeded with as much activity, as the season of the year and other circumstances will admit. It is necessary however to state that the appropriations hitherto made being found to be deficient, a further provision will claim the early consideration of Congress.
The whole of the eight per cent. stock remaining due by the United States, amounting to five millions three hundred thousand dollars, had been reimbursed on the last day of the year 1809. And on the first day of April last, the sum in the treasury exceeded nine and a half millions of dollars. This, together with the receipts of the current year on account of former revenue bonds, will probably be nearly, if not altogether sufficient to defray the expenses of the year. But the suspension of exports and the consequent decrease of importations, during the last twelve months, will necessarily cause a great diminution in the receipts of the year one thousand eight hundred and ten. After that year, should our foreign relations be undisturbed, the revenue will again be more than commensurate to all the expenditures.
Aware of the inconveniences of a protracted session, at the present season of the year, I forbear to call the attention of the legislature to any matters not particularly urgent. It remains therefore only to assure you of the fidelity and alacrity with which I shall co-operate for the welfare and happiness of our country; and 10 pray that it may experience a continuance of the divine blessings, by which it has been so signally favoured.
ACCOMPANYING THE MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE
UNITED STATES. MAY 23, 1809. Mr. Erskine to Mr. Smith. Washington, April 17, 1809.
Sir, I have the honour to inform you that I have received his majesty's commands, to represent to the government of the United States, that his majesty is animated by the most sincere desire for an adjustment of the differences which have unhappily so long prevailed between the two countries, the recapitulation of which might have a tendency to impede, if not prevent an amicable understanding.
It having been represented to his majesty's government, that the Congress of the United States, in their proceedings at the opening of the last session, had evinced an intention of passing certain laws, which would place the relations of Great Britain with the United States upon an equal footing, in all respects with the other belligerent powers; I have accordingly received his majesty's commands, in the event of such laws taking place, to offer, on the part of his majesty, an honourable reparation for the aggression committed by a British naval officer, in the attack on the United States frigate Chesapeake.
Considering the act passed by the Congress of the United States on the 1st of March, (usually termed the non-intercourse act) as having produced a state of equality in the relations of the two belligerent powers with respect to the United States, I have to submit, conformably to instructions, for the consideration of the American government, such terms of satisfaction and reparation, as his majesty is induced to believe will be accepted, in the same spirit of conciliation with which they are proposed.
In addition to the prompt disavowal made by his majesty, on being apprized of the unauthorized act committed by his naval officer, whose recall, as a mark of the king's displeasure, from an highly important and honourable command immediately ensued; his majesty is willing to restore the men forcibly taken out of the Chesapeake, and if acceptable to the American government, to make a suitable provision for the unfortunate sufferers on that ocsion. I have the honour to be, &c.
D. M. ERSKINE. Hon. Robert Smith, &c. &c. &c.
Mr. Smith io Mr. Erskine. Department of State, April 17,
1809. SIR, I have laid before the President your note, in which you have, in the name and by the order of his Britannick majesty, declared that his Britannick majesty is desirous of making an honourable reparation for the aggression committed by a British naval officer in the attack on the United States rigate the Chesapeake ; that in ad