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sources of the American people, on which I have so often hazarded my all, and never been deceived; if elevated ideas of the high destinies of this country and of my own duties towards it, founded on a knowledge of the moral principles and intellectual improvements of the people, deeply engraven on my mind in early life, and not obscured, but exalted by experience and age; and, with humble reverence, I feel it to be my duty to add, if a veneration for the religion of a people who profess and call themselves Christians, and a fixed resolution to consider a decent respect for Christianity among the best recommendations for the public service, can enable me, in any degree to comply with your wishes, it shall be my strenuous endeavor, that this sagacious injunction of the two houses shall not be without effect.
With this great example before me, with the sense and spirit, the faith and honor, the duty and interest, of the same American people, pledged to support the constitution of the United States, I entertain no doubt of its con tinuance in all its energy, and my mind is prepared, with out hesitation, to lay myself under the most solemn obli. gations to support it to the utmost of my power. And
may that Being who is supreme over all, the Pa tron of order, the Fountain of justice, and the Protector, in all ages of the world, of virtuous liberty, continue his blessing upon this nation and its government, and give it all possible success and duration consistent with the ends of his Providence.
ADAMS' FIRST ANNUAL ADDRESS,
NOVEMBER 23, 1797.
Gentlemen of the Senate
and House of Representatives : I was for some time apprehensive that it would be necessary, on account of the contagious sickness which afdicted the city of Philadelphia, to convene the national legislature at some other place. This measure it was
desirable to avoid, because it would occasion much public inconvenience, and a considerable public expense, and add to the calamities of the inhabitants of this city, whose sufferings ñust have excited the sympathy of all their fel. low-citizens; therefore, after taking measures to ascertain the state and decline of the sickness, I postponed my determination, having hopes, now happily realized, that, without hazard to the lives of the members, Congress might assemble at this place, where it was by law next to meet. I submit, however, to your consideration, whether a power to postpone the meeting of Congress, without passing the time fixed by the constitution, upon such occasions, would not be a useful amendment to the law of one thousand seven hundred and ninety-four.
Although I cannot yet congratulate you on the re-establishment of peace in Europe, and the restoration of se curity to the persons and properties of our citizens from injustice and violence at sea; we have, nevertheless, abundant cause of gratitude to the Source of benevolence and influence, for interior tranquillity and personal security, for propitious seasons, prosperous agriculture, productive fisheries, and general improvements, and above all, for a rational spirit of civil and religious liberty, and a calm but steady determination to support our sovereignty, as well as our moral and religious principles, against all open and secret attacks.
Our envoys extraordinary to the French republic embarked, one in July, the other early in August to join their colleague in Holland. I have received intelligence of the arrival of both of them in Holland, from whence they all proceeded on their journey to Paris, within a few days of the 19th of September. Whatever may be the result of this mission, I trust that nothing will have been omitted, on my part, to conduct the negociation to a successful conclusion, on such equitable terms as may be compatible with the safety, honor, and interest of the United States. Nothing, in the mean time, will contribute so much to the preservation of peace, and the attainment of justice, as a manifestation of that energy and una nimity, of which, on many former occasions, the people of the United States have given such memorable proofs, and the exertion of those resources for national defenco which a beneficent Providence has kindly placed within
It may be confidently asserted, that nothing has occur. red, since the adjournment of Congress, which renders inexpedient those precautionary measures recommended by me to the consideration of the two houses, at the opening of your late extraordinary session. If that system was then prudent, it is more so now, as increasing depre. dations strengthen the reasons for its adoption.
Indeed, whatever may be the issue of the negociation with France, and whether the war in Europe is, or is not, to continue, I hold it most certain, that permanent tranquillity and order will not soon be obtained. The state of society has so long been disturbed, the sense of moral and religious obligations so much weakened, public faith and national honor have been so impaired, respect to trea. ties has been so diminished, and the law of nations has lost so much of its force; while pride, anıbition, avarice, and violence, have been so long unrestrained, there re mains no reasonable ground on which to raise an expectation, that a commerce without protection or defence will not be plundered.
The commerce of the United States is essential, if not to their existence, at least to their comfort, their growth, prosperity, and happiness. The genius, character, and habits of the people are highly commercial ; their cities have been formed and exist upon commerce; our agri. culture, fisheries, arts, and manufactures, are connected with and depend upon it. In short, commerce has made this country what it is, and it cannot be destroyed or neglected without involving the people in poverty and distress. Great numbers are directly and solely supported by navigation; the faith of society is pledged for the preservation of the rights of commercial and seafaring, no less than of the other citizens. Under this view of our affairs, I should hold myself guilty of a neglect of duty if I forbore to recommend that we should make every exer tion to protect our commerce, and to place our country in e suitable posture of defence, as the onsy sure means of preserving both.
I have entertained an expectation that it would have been in my power, at the opening of this session, to have communicated to you the agreeable information of the due execution of our treaty with his Catholic majesty, respecting the withdrawing of his troops from our territory, and the demarkation of the line of limits ; but, by the latest authentic intelligence, Spanish garrisons were still continued within our country, and the running of the boundary line had not been commenced; these circumstances are the more to be regretted, as they cannot fail to affect the Indians in a manner injurious to the United States. Still, however, indulging the hope that the answers which have been given will remove the objections offered by the Spanish officers to the immediate execution of the treaty, I have judged it proper that we should continue in readiness to receive the posts, and to run the line of limits. Further information on this sube ject will be communicated in the course of the session.
In connection with this unpleasant state of things on our western frontier, it is proper for me to mention the attempts of foreign agents to alienate the affections of the Indian nations, and to excite them to actual hostili. ties against the United States; great activity has been ex. erted by those persons who have insinuated themselves among the Indian tribes residing within the territory of the United States, to influence them to transfer their affections and force to a foreign nation, to form them into a confederacy, and prepare them for a war against the United States. Although measures have been taken to counteract these infractions of our rights, to prevent In- · dian hostilities, and to preserve entire their attachment to the United States, it is my duty to observe, that, to give a better effect to these measures, and to obviate the consequences of a repetition of such practices, a law providing adequate punishment for such offences may be necessary.
The commissioners appointed under the fifth article of the treaty of amity, commerce and navigation between the United States and Great Britain, to ascertain the river which was truly intended under the name of the river St. Croix, mentioned in the treaty of peace, met at Passa
maquoddy Bay, in October, one thousand seven hundrea and ninety-six, and viewed the mouths of the rivers in question, and adjacent shores on the islands; and being of opinion, that actual surveys of both rivers, to their sources, were necessary, gave to the agents of the two nations instructions for that purpose, and adjourned to meet at Boston, in August. They met; but the surveys requiring more time than had been supposed, and not be. ing then completed, the commissioners again adjourned to meet at Providence, in the state of Rhode Island, in June next, when we may expect a final examination and decision.
The commissioners appointed in pursuance of the sixth article of the treaty, met at Philadelphia, in May last, to examine the elaims of British subjects for debts contracted before the peace, and still remaining due to them from citizens or inhabitants of the United States. Various causes have hitherto prevented any determinations; but the business is now resumed, and doubtless will be prosecuted without interruption.
Several decisions on the claims of the citizens of the United States for losses and damages sustained by reason of irregular and iilegal captures or condemnations of their vessels or other property, have been made by the commissioners in London, conformably to the seventh article of the treaty. The sums awarded by the commissioners have been paid by the British government; a considerable number of other claims, where costs and dama ges, and not captured property, were the only objects in question, have been decided by arbitration, and the sums awarded to the citizens of the United States have also been paid.
The commissioners appointed, agreeably to the twenty-first article of our treaty with Spain, met at Philadelphia, in the summer past, to examine and decide on the claims of our citizens for losses they have sustained in consequence of their vessels and cargoes having been ta. ken by the subjects of his Catholic majesty, during the ate war between Spain and France. Their sittings have been interrupted, but are new resumed.