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The first great object is to perfect the communication from Maine to Louisiana. This may be fairly considered as the principal artery of the whole system. The next is the connexion of the lakes with the Hudson river. In a political, commercial and military point of view, few objects could be more important. The next object of chief importance is, to connect all the great commercial points on the Atlantic—Philadelphia. Baltimore, Washington, Richmond, Charleston and Savannah, with the Western states; and finally, to perfect the intercourse between the west and New Orleans. These seem to me to be the great objects. There are others, no doubt, of great importance, which would receive the aid of government. The fund proposed to be set apart in this bill, is about six hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year, which is doubtless too small to effect such great objects of itself; but it would be a good beginning; and I have no doubt when it is once begun, the great work will be finished. If the bill succeeds, at the next session the details can be arranged, and the system commenced. I cannot consider those who object merely to the mode, to be very hearty in favor of the system. Every member must know that in all great measures, it is necessary to concede something; as it is impossible to make all think alike in the minutia of the measure who are agreed in principle. A deep conviction of the importance of the thing itself, is almost sure to be accompanied with a liberal spirit of concession. The committee who introduced this bill, gave it the shape, in their opinion, the most proper in itself, and the most likely to succeed. If it cannot pass in its present form, and under the |..." circumstances, it is certainly very doubtful whether it ever will. I feel a deep solicitude in relation to it. I am anxious that this Congress shall have the reputation of it, and I am the more so, on account of the feelings which have been created againstit. No body of men, in my opinion, ever better merited, than this Congress, the confidence of their country. For wisdom, firmness and industry, it has
never been excelled. To its acts I appeal for the truth of my assertions. The country already begins to experience the benefit of its foresight and firmness. The diseased state of the currency, which many thought incurable, and most thought could not be healed in so short a time, begins to exhibit symptoms of speedy health. Uninfluenced by any other considerations than love of country and duty, let us add this to the many useful measures already adopted. The money cannot be appropriated to a more exalted use. Every portion of the community, the farmer, mechanic and merchant will feel its good effects; and, what is of the greatestimportance, the strength of the community will be augmented, and its political prosperity rendered more seCure.
DELiveFED MARCH 4, 1817.
I should be destitute of feeling, if I was not deeply affected by the strong proof which my fellow-citizens have given me of their confidence, in calling me to the high office, whose functions I am about to assume. As the expression of their good opinion of my conduct in the public service, I derive from it a gratification, which those who are conscious of having done all that they could to merit it, can alone feel. My sensibility is increased by a just estimate of the importance of the trust, and of the nature and extent of its duties; with the proper discharge of which, the highest interests of a great and free people are intimately connected. Conscious of my own deficiency, I cannot enter on these duties without great anxiety for the result. From a just responsibility I will never shrink; calculating with confidence, that in my best efforts to promote the public welfare, my motives will always be duly appreciated, and my conduct be viewed with that candor and indulgence which I have experienced in other stations.
In commencing the duties of the chief executive of. fice, it has been the practice of the distinguished men who have gone before me, to explain the principles which would govern them in their respective administrations. In following their venerated example, my attention is naturally drawn to the great causes which have contributed, in a principal degree, to produce the present happy condition of the United States. They will best explain the nature of our duties, and shed much light on the policy which ought to be pursued in future. From the commencement of our revolution to the present day, almost forty years have elapsed, and from the establishment of i. constitution, twenty-eight. Through this whole term the government has been what may emphatically be called, self-government; and what has been the effect? To whatever object we turn our attention, whether it relates to our foreign or domestic concerns, we find abundant cause to felicitate ourselves in the excellence of our institutions. During a period fraught with difficulties, and marked by very extraordinary events, the United States have flourished beyond example. Their citizens individually, have been happy, and the nation prosperous. Under this constitution, our commerce has been wisely regulated with foreign nations, and between the states; new states have been admitted into our union; our territory has been enlarged, by fair and honorable treaty, and with great advantage to the original states; the states respectively, protected by the national government, under a mild parental system, against foreign dangers, and enjoying within their separate spheres, by a wise partition of power, a just proportion of the sovereignty, have improved their police, extended their settlements, and attained a strength and maturity, which are the best proofs of wholesome laws, well administered. And if we look to the condition of individuals, what a proud spectacle does it exhibit P. On whom has oppression fallen in any quarter of our union ? Who has been deprived of any right of person or property 2 Who restrained in offering his vows in the mode in which he prefers, to the Divine Author of his being 2 It is well known that all these blessings have been enjoyed in their fullest extent; and I add with peculiar satisfaction, that there has been no example of a capital punishment being inflicted on any one for the crime of high treason.
Some who might admit the competency of our government to these beneficent duties, might doubt it in trials which put to the test its strength and efficiency, as a member of the great community of nations. Here, too, experience has afforded us the most satisfactory proof in its favor. Just as this constitution was put into action, several of the principal states of Europe had become much agitated, and some of them seriously convulsed. Destructive wars ensued, which have, of late only, been terminated. In the course of these conflicts, the United States received great injury from several of the parties. It was their interest to stand aloof from the contest; to demand justice from the party committing the injury; and to cultivate by a fair and honorable conduct, the friendship of all. War became, at length, inevitable, and the result has shown, that our government is equal to that, the greatest of trials, under the most unfavorable circumstances. Of the virtue of the people, and of the heroic exploits of the army, the navy, and the militia, I need not speak. Such then, is the happy government under which we live: a government adequate to every purpose for which the social compact is formed; a government clective in all its branches, under which every citizen may, by his merit, obtain the highest trust recognized by the constitution: which contains within it no cause of discord; none to put at variance one portion of the community with another; a government which protects every citizen in the full enjoyment of his rights, and is able to protect the nation against injustice from foreign powers. Other considerations of the highest importance admonish us to cherish our union, and cling to the government which supports it. Fortunate as we are, in Our political institutions, we have not been less so in other circumstances, on which our prosperity and happiness essentially depend. Situated within the temperate zone, and extending through many degrees of latitude along the Atlantic, the United States enjoy all the varieties of climate, and every production incident