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taken place before this pacific advance was communicated to that of Great Britain, the advance was declined, from an avowed repugnance to a suspension of the practice of impressments during the armistice, and without any intimation that the arrangement proposed with respect to seamen would be accepted. Whether the subsequent communications from this government, affording an occasion for re-considering the subject on the part of Great Britain, will be viewed in a more favourable light, or received in a more accommodating spirit, remains to be known. It would be unwise to relax our measures, in
any respect, on a presumption of such a result.
The documents from the department of state, which relate to this subject, will give a view also of the propositions for an armistice which have been received here, one of them from the authorities at Halifax and in Canada, the other from the British government itself, through admiral Warren; and of the grounds on which neither of them could be accepted.
Our affairs with France retain the posture which they held at my last communications to you. Notwithstanding the authorized expectations of an carly as well as favourable issue to the discussions on foot, these have been procrastinated to the latest date. The only intervening occurrence meriting attention, is the promulgation of a French decree, purporting to be a definitive repeal of the Berlin and Milan decrees. This proceeding, although made the ground of the repeal of the British orders in council, is rendered, by the time and manner of it, liable to many objections.
The final communications from our special minister to Denmark, afford further proofs of the good effects of his mission, and of the amicable disposition of the Danish government. From Russia we have the satisfaction to receive assurances of continued friendship, and that it will not be affected by the rupture between the United States and Great Britain. Sweden also
professes sentiments favourable to the subsisting harmony.
With the Barbary powers, excepting that of Algiers, our affairs remain on the ordinary footing. The consul-general residing with that regency has suddenly and without cause been banished, together with all the American citizens found there. Whether this was the transitory effect of capricious despotism, or the first act of pre-determined hostility, is not ascertained. Precautions were taken by the consul on the latter supposition.
The Indian tribes, not under foreign instigations, remain at peace, and receive the civilizing attentions, which have proved so beneficial to them.
With a view to that vigorous prosecution of the war, to which our national faculties are adequate, the attention of congress will be particularly drawn to the insufficiency of existing provisions for filling up the military establishment. Such is the happy condition of our country, arising from the facility of subsistence and the high wages for every species of occupation, that, notwithstanding the augmented inducements provided at the last session, a partial success only has attended the recruiting service. The deficiency has been necessarily supplied during the campaign by other than regular troops, with all the inconveniences and expense incident to them. The remedy lies in establishing more favourably for the private soldier the proportion between his recompense and the term of his enlistment. And it is a subject which cannot too soon or too seriously be taken in. to consideration.
The same insufficiency has been experienced in the provisions for volunteers made by an act of the last session. The recom, pense for the service required in this case is still less attractive than in the other. And although patriotism alone has sent into the field some valuable corps of that description, those alone who can afford the sacrifice can be reasonably expected to yield to that impulse.
It will merit consideration also, whether, as auxiliary to the security of our frontiers, corps may not be advantageously organized, with a restriction of their services to particular districts convenient to them. And whether the local and occasional services of mariners and others in the seaport towns, under a similar organization, would not be a provident addition to the means of their defence.
I recommend a provision for an increase of the general officers of the army, the deficiency of which has been illustrated by the number and distance of separate commands, which the course of the war and the advantage of the service have required.
And I cannot press too strongly on the earliest attention of the legislature, the importance of
the re-organization of the staff establishment; with a view to render more distinct and definite the relations and responsibilities of its several departments.That there is room for improvements which will materially promote both economy and success, in what appertains to the army and the war, is equally inculcated by the examples of other countries, and by the experience of our own.
A revision of the militia laws, for the purpose of rendering them more systematic, and better adapting them to emergencies of the war, is at this time particularly desirable.
Of the additional ships authorized to be fitted for service, two will be shortly ready to sail ; a third is under repair, and delay will be avoided in the repair of the residue. Of the appropriations for the purchase of materials for ship building, the greater part has been applied to that object, and the purchase will be continued with the balance.
The enterprising spirit which has characterized our naval force, and its success both in restraining insults and depredations on our coasts, and in reprisals on the enemy, will not fail to recommend an enlargement of it.
There being reason to believe that the act prohibiting the acceptance of British licenses, is not a sufficient guard against the use of them for purposes favourable to the interests and views of the enemy; further provisions on that subject are highly important. Nor is it less so, that penal enactments should be provided for cases of corrupt and perfidious intercourse with the enemy not amounting to treason, nor yet embraced by any statutory. provisions.
A considerable number of American vessels, which were in England when the revocation of the orders in council took place, were laden with British manufactures, under an erroneous impression that the non-importation act would immediately cease to operate, and have arrived in the United States.
It did not appear proper to exercise, on unforeseen cases of such magnitude, the ordinary powers vested in the treasury department to mitigate forfeitures, without previously affording to congress an opportunity of making on the subject such provision as they may think proper. In their decision they will doubtless equally consult what is due to equitable considerations and to the public interest.
The receipts into the treasury, during the year ending on the 30th of September last, have exceeded sixteen millions and a half of dollars: which have been sufficient to defray all the demands on the treasury to that day, including a necessary reimbursement of near three millions of the principal of the public debt. In these receipts is included a sum of near $5,850,000, received on account of the loans authorised by the acts of the last session : the whole sum actually obtained on loan amounts to eleven millions of dollars, the residue of which, being receivable subsequent to the 30th of September last, will, together with the current revenue, enable us to defray all the expenses of
The duties on the late unexpected importations of British manufactures, will render the revenue of the ensuing year more productive than could have been anticipated.
The situation of our country, fellow citizens, is not without its difficulties; though it abounds in animating considerations, of which the view here presented of our pecuniary resources is an example. With more than one nation, we have serious and unsettled controversies ; and with one, powerful in the means and habits of war, we are at war. The spirit and strength of the nation are nevertheless equal to the support of all its rights, and to carry it through all its trials. They can be met in that confidence. Above all, we have the inestimable consolation of knowing, that the war in which we are actually engaged is a war neither of ambition nor of vain glory; that it is waged, not in violation of the rights of others, but in the maintenance of our own; that it was preceded by a patience without example, under wrongs accumulating without end; and that it was finally not declared until every hope of averting it was extinguished, by the transfer of the British sceptre into new hands clinging to former councils; and until declarations were reiterated to the last hour, through the British envoy here, that the hostile edicts against our commercial rights and our maritime independence would not be revoked; nay, that they could not be revoked, without violating the obligations of Great Britain to other powers, as well as to her own interests. To have shrunk, under such circumstances, from manly resistance, would have been a degradation blasting our best and proudest hopes : it would have struck us from the high rank, where the virtuous struggles of our fathers had placed us, and have betrayed the magnificent legacy which we hold in trust for future generations. It would have acknowledged, that on the element which forms three-fourths of the globe we inhabit, and where all independent nations have equal and common rights, the American people were not an in-. dependent people, but colonists and vassals. It was at this moment, and with such an alternative, that war was chosen. The nation felt the necessity of it, and called for it. The appeal was accordingly made, in a just cause, to the just and all powerful Being who holds in his hand the chain of events and the destiny of nations. It remains only, that, faithful to ourselves, entangled in no connections with the views of other
and ready to accept peace from the hand of justice, we prosecute the war with united counsels, and with the ample faculties of the nation, until peace be so obtained, and as the only means, undet the divine blessing, of speedily obtaining it.
JAMES MADISON. Washington, November 4, 1812.
Documents accompanying the Message. Letters from Mr. Monroe to Mr. Russell, chargé des affaires
in Great Britain.
Extract of a letter from Mr. Monroe to Mr. Russell, dated
June 26, 1812. This letter is committed to Mr. Foster, who has promised to deliver it to you in safety.
On the 18th of this month a declaration of war against Great Britain passed congress. I send you a copy of the act, of the president's message, and of the report of the committee of foreign relations, which brought the subject under consideration.
This measure has been produced by the continued aggressions of the British government on the rights of the United States, and the presumption arising from that and other facts, which it is unnecessary to recite, that no favourable change of policy might be expected from it. It was impossible for the United States to surrender their rights, by relinquishing the ground which they had taken, and it was equally incompatible with their interests and character to rely longer on measures which had failed to accomplish their objects. War was the only remaining alternative, and that fact being clearly ascertained, you will find by the documents transmitted that it was adopted with decision.
As war has been resorted to by necessity, and of course with reluctance, this government looks forward to the restoration of peace with much interest, and a sincere desire to promote it on conditions, just, equal, and honourable to both the parties. It is in the power of Great Britain to terminate the war on such con. ditions, and it would be very satisfactory to the president to meet it in arrangements to that effect.
Although there are many just and weighty causes of complaint against Great Britain, you will perceive by the documents transmitted, that the orders in council, and other blockades, illegal, according to the principles lately acknowledged, and the impressment of our seamen, are considered to be of the highest importance. If the orders in council are repealed, and no illegal blockades are substituted to them, and orders are given to discontinue the impressment of seamen from our vessels, and to restore those already impressed, there is no reason why hostilities should not immediately cease. Securing these objects, you are authorised to stipulate an armistice, to commence from the signature of the instrument providing for it, or at the end of fifty or sixty days, or other the shortest term that the British government