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Ch. VII.] INAUGURATION OF TAYLOR. 471
Taylor's And Fillmore's Administration.
Inauguration of Zachnry Taylor—Ceremonies connected with it—His Inaugural address—General Taylor's cabinet
— State of politics—Dispute as to the boundary between Texas and New Mexico—Steps taken by the president
— His health injured — The thirty-first Congress—Contest for the speakership—The president's message — Excitement growing out of the slavery question — Special message on California and New Mexico — Henry Clay's compromise resolutions—Excitement on the subject—Calhoun's speech—His death—Webster's speech— Select committee of thirteen — Henry Clay's report—The " omnibus bill" — Debates and troubles in the southwest—-General Taylor's illness and death—Millard Fillmore president — His cabinet—Message on Texas and New Mexico difficulties— The compromise measures carried—Result of this legislation — The seventh census — "Filibustering" expeditions against Cuba — The president's proclamation—Lopez's expeditions and their results
— Union meetings — Second session of the thirty-first Congress—Substance of Mr. Fillmore's first messageDiscussions in Congress—Bills passed—The Hungarian question — Webster's letter to Chevalier Hulsemann— Kossuth in the United States—State of affairs—The first Grinnell expedition—The Grey town affair—Henry Clay's death—The fishery question—The democratic and whig national conventions—Pierce and King nominated— Scott and Graham nominated — The Garay grant question — Congress adjourns—Daniel Webster's death —The presidential election—The tripartite convention — Extracts from Mr. Everett's letter—Congress in session— Abstract of the message—Action of Congress—Close of Mr. Fillmore's administration.
On Monday, March 5th, 1849, Zachary Taylor, the war-worn hero, appeared before his fellow-citizens congregated in Washington, for the purpose of giving solemn pledges of his devotion to the duties of the high office to which he had been called by the voice of his countrymen. As usual on these occasions, there was a vast concourse of people, and the civic display was both admirably arranged and thoroughly carried out. About midday, dressed in a plain suit of black, and with befitting gravity and dignity, Zachary Taylor joined the grand procession of Senators and distinguished members of the government, and took his place on the staging erected in front of the
great portico of the capitol. There, in the presence of some twenty thousand people, he delivered his Inaugural address, a brief, plain, sensible document, such as might have been expected from the man who had been more accustomed to the sword than the pen, and who had displayed qualities of mind and heart which commended him to the majority of his fellow-citizens as the one whom they preferred at that day to take the helm of state.
The brevity of General Taylor's Inaugural will authorize our giving it in full, and we are sure that it will be perused with interest by our readers.
"Elected by the American people to the highest office known to our laws, I
appear here to take the oath prescribed by the Constitution, and, in compliance with a time-honored custom, to address those who are now assembled.
"The confidence and respect shown by my countrymen, in calling me to be the chief magistrate of a republic holding a high rank among the nations Of the earth, have inspired me with feelings of the most profound gratitude; but, when I reflect that the acceptance of the office which their partiality has bestowed imposes the discharge of the most arduous duties, involves the most weighty obligations, I am conscious that the position which I have been called to fill, though sufficient to satisfy the loftiest ambition, is surrounded by fearful responsibilities.
"Happily, however, in the performance of my new duties I shall not be without' able co-operation. The legislative and judicial branches of the government present prominent ex
amples of distinguished civil attainments and matured experience, and it shall be my endeavor to call to my assistance, in the executive departments, individuals whose talents, integrity, and purity of character, will furnish ample guarantees for the faithful and honorable performance of the trusts to be committed to their charge. With such aids, and an honest purpose to do whatever is right, I hope to execute diligently, impartially, and for the best interests of the country, the manifold duties devolved upon me.
"In the discharge of these duties, my guide will be the Constitution which I this day swear to 'preserve, protect, and defend.' For the interpretation
of that instrument, I shall look to the decisions of the judicial tribunals established by its authority, and to the practice of the government under the earlier presidents, who had so large a share in its formation. To the example of those illustrious patriots I shall always defer with reverence, and especially to his example who was by so many titles 'the father of his country.'
"To command the army and navy of the United States—with the advice and consent of the Senate to make treaties and to appoint ambassadors and other officers—to give to Congress information of the state of the Union, and recommend such measures as he shall judge to be necessary, and to take care that the laws shall be faithfully executed—these are the most important functions intrusted to the president by the Constitution; and it may be expected that I shall briefly indicate the principles which will control me in their execution.
"Chosen by the body of the people, under the assurance that my administration would be devoted to the welfare of the whole country, and not to the support of any particular section or merely local interest, I this day renew the declaration I have heretofore made, and proclaim my fixed determination to maintain, to the extent of my ability, the government in its original purity, and to adopt as the basis of my public policy, those great republican doctrines which constitute the strength of our national existence.
"In reference to the army and navy, lately employed with so much distinction on active service, care shall be
taken to insure the highest condition of efficiency; and, in furtherance of that object, the military and naval schools sustained by the liberality of Congress, shall receive the special attention of the executive.
"As American freemen we can not but sympathize in all efforts to extend the blessings of civil and political liberty, but at the same time we are warned by the admonition of history, and the voice of our own beloved Washington, to abstain from entangling alliances with foreign nations. In all disputes between conflicting governments, it is our interest not less than our duty to remain strictly neutral, while our geographical position, the genius of our institutions and our people, the advancing spirit of civilization, and, above all, the dictates of religion, direct us to the cultivation of peaceful and friendly relations with all other powers. It is to be hoped that no international question can now arise which a government, confident in its own strength, and resolved to protect its own just rights, may not settle by wise negotiation; and it eminently becomes a government like our own, founded on the morality and intelligence of its citizens, and upheld by their affections, to exhaust every resort of honorable diplomacy before appealing to arms. In the conduct of our foreign relations, I shall conform to these views, as I believe them essential to the best interests and true honor of the country.
"The appointing power vested in the president imposes delicate and onerous duties. So far as it is possible to be informed, I shall make honesty, capacity, and fidelity, indispensable prerequisites Vol. III.—60
to the disposal of office, and the absence of either of these qualities shall be deemed sufficient cause for removal.
"It shall be my study to recommend such constitutional measures to Congress as maybe necessary and proper to secure encouragement and protection to the great interests of agriculture, commerce, and manufactures, to improve our rivers and harbors, to provide for the speedy extinguishment of the public debt, to enforce a strict accountability on the part of all officers of the government, and the utmost economy in all public expenditures. But it is for the wisdom of Congress itself, in which all legislative powers are vested by the Constitution, to regulate these and other matters of domestic policy. I shall look with confidence to the enlightened patriotism of that body to adopt such measures of conciliation as may harmonize conflicting interests, and tend to perpetuate that Union, which should be the paramount object of our hopes and affections. In any action calculated to promote an object so near the heart of every one who truly loves his country, I will zealously unite with the coordinate branches of the government.
"In conclusion, I congratulate you, my fellow-citizens, upon the high state of prosperity to which the goodness of Divine Providence has conducted our common country. Let us invoke a continuance of the same protecting care which has led us from small beginnings to the eminence we this day occupy; and let us seek to deserve that continuance by prudence and moderation in our councils; by well-directed attempts to assuage the bitterness which