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General James Hamilton and others who agreed with him, urged upon South Carolina to bide her time on this subject.
The thirty-first Congress began its second session on the 2d of December, 1850, and received on the same day, the first annual message of President Fillmore. This well-written document commenced with a touching allusion to the afflictive event which had removed General Taylor from his lofty position, and very properly embraced the opportunity to give expression to the views entertained by the executive on the great questions of public policy in our country. In clear, decided terms, Mr. Fillmore avowed his devotion to the Constitution, and his determination to see that the laws be faithfully executed, and declared, that it would be his aim ever to exercise the appointing power with wisdom and impartiality. The foreign relations of the country, he announced, were in a good condition, and the United States were at peace with all the world. The Nicaraugua and Tehuantepec routes to the Pacific Ocean were spoken of, as were also our relations with Chili, Peru, and the Hawaiian Islands. The total receipts into the treasury, for the year ending June 30th, 1850, were $47,422, 000. Total expenditures for the year, a little over $43,000,000. The public debt was reduced nearly $500,000; and about $8,000,000 of the public debt were to be provided for within two vears.
In discussing the tariff question, the president spoke out his opinions with great freedom. "All experience," he
said, "has demonstrated the wisdom and policy of raising a large portion of revenue for the support of the government from duties on goods imported. The power to lay these duties is unquestionable, and its chief object, of course, is to replenish the treasury. But if, in doing this, an incidental advantage may be gained by encouraging the industry of our own citizens, it is our duty to
avail ourselves of that advantage
A high tariff never can be permanent.
All duties should be specific,
wherever the nature of the article is such as to admit of it. Ad valorem duties fluctuate with the price, and offer strong temptations to fraud and perjury. Specific duties, on the contrary, are equal and uniform in all ports, and at all times, and offer a strong inducement to the importer to bring the best article, as he pays no more duty upon that than upon one of inferior quality." An agricultural bureau was also recommended; and a good deal of space was devoted to Indian affairs, the army and navy, the post-office department, etc The number of post-offices in the United States was stated to be, 18,417, and the rates of postage were recommended to be reduced. On the question of internal improvements, the president expressed his sentiments without disguise, holding it as certain, that Congress possessed power to make such improvements, and commending various works to their approval.
In speaking of the compromise, which had occupied so large a share of the attention of Congress, the president said: "It was hardly to have been expected that the series of measures pass
ed at your last session, with the view of healing the sectional differences which had sprung from the slavery and territorial questions, should at once have realized their beneficent purpose. All mutual concession in the nature of a compromise must necessarily be unwelcome to men of extreme opinions; and though without such concessions our Constitution could not have been formed, and cannot permanently be sustained, yet we have ueen them made the subject of bitter controversy in both sections of the republic. It required many months of discussion and deliberation to secure the concurrence of a majority of Congress in their favor. It would be strange if they had been received with immediate approbation by the people and states prejudiced and heated by the exciting controversies of their Representatives The series of
measures to which I have alluded are regarded by me as a settlement, in principle and substance—a final settlement —of the dangerous and exciting subjects which they embrace By
that adjustment we have been rescued from the wide and boundless agitation that surrounded us, and have a firm, distinct, and legal ground to rest upon. And the occasion, I trust, will justify me in exhorting my countrymen to rally upon and maintain that ground, as the best, if not the only means of restoring peace and quiet to the country, and maintaining inviolate the integrity of the Union." With a manly and Christian-like recognition of the manifold blessings of God showered upon our country, the president concluded
his message in these words: "While deeply penetrated with gratitude for the past, let us hope that His all-wise providence will so guide our counsels as that they shall result in giving satisfaction to our constituents, securing the peace of the country, and adding new strength to the united government under which we live."
The annual reports of the heads of the departments were transmitted to Congress along with the president's message. They contain elaborate and carefully digested statements of the condition and wants of the various branches of the public service, and are well worthy the examination of the student of our civil and political history. The secretary of war reported the entire army enrolled, officers and men, as twelve thousand three hundred and twenty-six. The secretary of the navy stated, that there were seven ships of the line, one razee, twelve frigates, twenty-one sloops of war, four brigs, two schooners, six steam-frigates, nine other steamers, and five store ships, besides a number of ships on the stocks. The secretary of the interior presented a large variety of very interesting matter connected with the public land sales, bounty lands, etc.; he also recommended the establishment of an agricultural bureau, and urged the necessity of a highway to the Pacific, either railway or turnpike, as careful investigation of the country might show to be most advisable.
The present session of Congress was occupied in discussing various topics of interest and inportance; but so much time was wasted in this way, that many important bills, which were matured by the committees of the two Houses, remained to be acted upon during the last few weeks of the session. A number of measures of interest to the public failed, some through want of time and pressure of business, some
MR. FILLMORE AND THE COMPROMISE.
through violent opposition of a sectional character. The majority of the House passed a bill making appropriations on a liberal scale for the improvement of rivers and harbors; but it was defeated in the Senate by a party trick, on the very last night of the session. The democratic party mostly followed the views set forth by Mr. Polk in his veto message on this subject, (Dec., 1847). A joint resolution, creating the grade of lieutenant-general in the army, intended as a deserved honor for General Scott, also failed of obtaining the approbation of Congress.
The more important bills passed, were, the civil and diplomatic appropriation bill; the army and navy appropriation bill; a bill for erecting light-houses; an act reducing postage on letters to three cents on any distance under three thousand miles; etc. Acts were also passed respecting private land claims in California; establishing a military asylum; appointing the regents of the Smithsonian Institution; authorizing the president to send a government vessel to bring Kossuth and other Hungarian exiles to the United States; etc.*
* Public necessity having demanded additional acsommodations at Washington, an appropriation was made at this session to extend the capital according to such plan as might be approved by the president Having adopted a plan by which the original building
It was during the presidency of General Taylor, while the Hungarian contest was pending, that Mr. A. Dudley Mann was dispatched to Vienna, with instructions to watch the progress of the struggle, and in case of its success, to recognize the Hungarian Republic. The Austrian charge d'affaires, at Washington, Chevalier Hulsemann, on this becoming known to his government, was instructed to protest' against the course pursued by the United States, as unwarrantable interference in Austrian concerns. Mr. Hulsemann did so, under date of September 30th, and took occasion to lecture the secretary of state in pretty severe terms. Mr. Webster's reply was delayed from various causes until the 21st of December, when he entered upon the subject with hearty good will, and sent the Austrian charge such an answer as he was not likely soon to forget. We wish that our limits admitted of quoting this admirable letter in full; we can only give an extract or two as specimens of the tone and temper of the United States government on the topic under consideration.
"The government and people of the United States, like other intelligent governments and communities, take a lively interest in the movements and the events of this remarkable
would be more than doubled in size, by the addition of two extensive wings, the work was immediately commenced. The corner-stone was laid by the president, on the 4th of July, amid a large concourse of citizens, and Daniel Webster gave utterance on the occasion to some noble and patriotic thoughts worthy of his great name and the country he had so long served. See Webster's "Z\fe and Works," voL il, pp. 695-620.
age, in whatever part of the world they may he exhihited. But the interest taken by the United States in those events has not proceeded from any disposition to depart from that neutrality towards foreign powers which is among the deepest principles and the most cherished traditions of the political history of the Union. It has been the necessary effect of the unexampled character of the events themselves, which could not fail to arrest the attention of the contemporary world, as they will doubtless fill a memorable page in history. But the undersigned goes further, and freely admits, that in proportion as these extraordinary events appeared to have their origin in those great ideas of responsible and popular governments on which the American constitutions themselves are wholly founded, they could not but command the warm sympathy of the people of this country. Well-known circumstances in their history—indeed their whole history—have made them the representatives of purely popular principles of government. In this light they now stand before the world. They could not, if they would, conceal their character, their condition, or their destiny. They could not, if they so desired, shut out from the view of mankind the causes which have placed them, in so short a national career, in the station which they now hold among the civilized states of the world. They could not, if they desired it, suppress either the thoughts or the hopes which arise in men's minds, in other countries, from contemplating their successful example of free government
The power of this republic at tha present moment is spread over & region one of the richest and most fertile on the globe, and of an extent in comparison with which the possessions of the house of Hapsburg are but as a patch on the earth's surface. Its population — already twenty-five millions — will exceed that of the Austrian empire within the period during which it may be hoped that Mr. Hulsemann may yet remain in the honorable discharge of his duties to his government. Its navigation and commerce are hardly exceeded by the oldest and most commercial nations; its maritime means and its maritime power may be seen by Austria herself in all seas where she has ports, as well as it may be seen, also, in all other quarters of the globe. Life, liberty, property, and all personal rights, are amply secured to all citizens, and protected by just and stable laws; and credit, public and private, is as well established as in any government of continental Europe. And the country, in all its interests and concerns, partakes most largely in all the improvements and progress which distinguish the age. Certainly the United States may be pardoned, even by those who profess adherence to the principles of absolute governments, if they entertain an ardent affection for those popular forms of political organization which have so rapidly advanced their own prosperity and happiness, and enabled them in so short a period to bring their country and the hemisphere to which it belongs to the notice and respectful regard—not to say the admiration—of the civilized
world. Nevertheless, the United States have abstained at all times from acts of interference with the political changes of Europe. They cannot, however, fail to cherish always a lively interest in the fortunes of nations struggling for institutions like their own. But this sympathy, so far from being necessarily a hostile feeling towards any of the parties to these great national struggles, is quite consistent with amicable relations with them all. The Hungarian people are three or four times as numerous as the inhabitants of these United States were when the American Revolution broke out. They possess, in a distinct language, and in other respects, important elements of a separate nationality, which the AngloSaxon race in this country did not possess. And if the United States wish success to countries contending for popular constitutions and national independence, it is only because they regard such constitutions and such national independence not as imaginary, but as real blessings. They claim no right, however, to take part in the struggles of foreign powers in order to promote these ends. It is only in defence of his own government and its principles and character that the undersigned has now expressed himself on this subject. But when the United States behold the people of foreign countries, without any such interference, spontaneously moving towards the adoption of institutions like their own, it surely cannot oe expected of them to remain wholly indifferent spectators.
Towards the conclusion of his note,
Mr. Hulsemann remarks, that 'if the government of the United States were to think it proper to take an indirect part in the political movements of Europe, American policy would be exposed to acts of retaliation, and to certain inconveniences, which would not fail to affect the commerce and the industry of the two hemispheres.' As to this possible fortune, this hypothetical retaliation, the government and people of the United States are quite willing to take their chances, and abide their destiny. Taking neither a direct nor an indirect part in the domestic or intestine movements of Europe, they have no fear of events of the nature alluded to by Mr Hulsemann. It would be idle now to discuss with Mr. Hulsemann those acts of retaliation which he imagines may possibly take place at some indefinite time hereafter. Those questions will be discussed when they arise; and Mr. Hulsemann and the cabinet at Vienna may rest assured that, in the meantime, while performing with strict and exact fidelity all their neutral duties, nothing will deter either the government or the people of the United States from exercising, at their own discretion, the rights belonging to them as an independent nation, and of forming and expressing their own opinions, freely and at al] times, upon the great political events which may transpire among the civilized nations of the earth."
In connection with this able letter of Daniel Webster, we may mention, that at the close of the following year, 1851, Louis Kossuth, the famous Mag yar chief, arrived in the United States