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State of the Union Addresses of Andrew Jackson
Dates of addresses by Andrew Jackson in this eBook:
State of the Union Address
December 8, 1829
Fellow Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:
It affords me pleasure to tender my friendly greetings to you on the occasion of your assembling at the seat of Government to enter upon the important duties to which you have been called by the voice of our country-men. The task devolves on me, under a provision of the Constitution, to present to you, as the Federal Legislature of 24 sovereign States and 12,000,000 happy people, a view of our affairs, and to propose such measures as in the discharge of my official functions have suggested themselves as necessary to promote the objects of our Union.
In communicating with you for the first time it is to me a source of unfeigned satisfaction, calling for mutual gratulation and devout thanks to a benign Providence, that we are at peace with all man-kind, and that our country exhibits the most cheering evidence of general welfare and progressive improvement. Turning our eyes to other nations, our great desire is to see our brethren of the human race secured in the blessings enjoyed by ourselves, and advancing in knowledge, in freedom, and in social happiness.
Our foreign relations, although in their general character pacific and friendly, present subjects of difference between us and other powers of deep interest as well to the country at large as to many of our citizens. To effect an adjustment of these shall continue to be the object of my earnest endeavors, and not with standing the difficulties of the task, I do not allow myself to apprehend unfavorable results. Blessed as our country is with every thing which constitutes national strength, she is fully adequate to the maintenance of all her interests. In discharging the responsible trust confided to the Executive in this respect it is my settled purpose to ask nothing that is not clearly right and to submit to nothing that is wrong; and I flatter myself that, supported by the other branches of the Government and by the intelligence and patriotism of the people, we shall be able, under the protection of Providence, to cause all our just rights to be respected.
Of the unsettled matters between the United States and other powers, the most prominent are those which have for years been the subject of negotiation with England, France, and Spain. The late periods at which our ministers to those Governments left the United States render it impossible at this early day to inform you of what has been done on the subjects with which they have been respectively charged. Relying upon the justice of our views in relation to the points committed to negotiation and the reciprocal good feeling which characterizes our intercourse with those nations, we have the best reason to hope for a satisfactory adjustment of existing differences.
With Great Britain, alike distinguished in peace and war, we may look forward to years of peaceful, honorable, and elevated competition. Every thing in the condition and history of the two nations is calculated to inspire sentiments of mutual respect and to carry conviction to the minds of both that it is their policy to preserve the most cordial relations. Such are my own views, and it is not to be doubted that such are also the prevailing sentiments of our constituents. Although neither time nor opportunity has been afforded for a full development of the policy which the present cabinet of Great Britain designs to pursue toward this country, I indulge the hope that it will be of a just and pacific character; and if this anticipation be realized we may look with confidence to a speedy and acceptable adjustment of our affairs.
Under the convention for regulating the reference to arbitration of the disputed points of boundary under the 5th article of the treaty of Ghent, the proceedings have hitherto been conducted in that spirit of candor and liberality which ought ever to characterize the acts of sovereign States seeking to adjust by the most unexceptionable means important and delicate subjects of contention. The first sentiments of the parties have been exchanged, and the final replication on our part is in a course of preparation. This subject has received the attention demanded by its great and peculiar importance to a patriotic member of this Confederacy. The exposition of our rights already made is such as, from the high reputation of the commissioners by whom it has been prepared, we had a right to expect. Our interests at the Court of the Sovereign who has evinced his friendly disposition by assuming the delicate task of arbitration have been committed to a citizen of the State of Maine, whose character, talents, and intimate acquaintance with the subject eminently qualify him for so responsible a trust. With full confidence in the justice of our cause and in the probity, intelligence, and uncompromising independence of the illustrious arbitrator, we can have nothing to apprehend from the result.
From France, our ancient ally, we have a right to expect that justice which becomes the sovereign of a powerful, intelligent, and magnanimous people. The beneficial effects produced by the commercial convention of 1822, limited as are its provisions, are too obvious not to make a salutary impression upon the minds of those who are charged with the administration of her Government. Should this result induce a disposition to embrace to their full extent the wholesome principles which constitute our commercial policy, our minister to that Court will be found instructed to cherish such a disposition and to aid in conducting it to useful practical conclusions. The claims of our citizens for depredations upon their property, long since committed under the authority, and in many instances by the express direction, of the then existing Government of France, remain unsatisfied, and must therefore continue to furnish a subject of unpleasant discussion and possible collision between the two Governments. I cherish, however, a lively hope, founded as well on the validity of those claims and the established policy of all enlightened governments as on the known integrity of the French Monarch, that the injurious delays of the past will find redress in the equity of the future. Our minister has been instructed to press these demands on the French Government with all the earnestness which is called for by their importance and irrefutable justice, and in a spirit that will evince the respect which is due to the feelings of those from whom the satisfaction is required.
Our minister recently appointed to Spain has been authorized to assist in removing evils alike injurious to both countries, either by concluding a commercial convention upon liberal and reciprocal terms or by urging the acceptance in their full extent of the mutually beneficial provisions of our navigation acts. He has also been instructed to make a further appeal to the justice of Spain, in behalf of our citizens, for indemnity for spoliations upon our commerce committed under her authority–an appeal which the pacific and liberal course observed on our part and a due confidence in the honor of that Government authorize us to expect will not be made in vain.
With other European powers our intercourse is on the most friendly footing. In Russia, placed by her territorial limits, extensive population, and great power high in the rank of nations, the United States have always found a steadfast friend. Although her recent invasion of Turkey awakened a lively sympathy for those who were exposed to the desolation of war, we can not but anticipate that the result will prove favorable to the cause of civilization and to the progress of human happiness. The treaty of peace between these powers having been ratified, we can not be insensible to the great benefit to be derived by the commerce of the United States from unlocking the navigation of the Black Sea, a free passage into which is secured to all merchant vessels bound to ports of Russia under a flag at peace with the Porte. This advantage, enjoyed upon conditions by most of the powers of Europe, has hitherto been withheld from us. During the past summer an antecedent but unsuccessful attempt to obtain it was renewed under circumstances which promised the most favorable results. Although these results have fortunately been thus in part attained, further facilities to the enjoyment of this new field for the enterprise of our citizens are, in my opinion, sufficiently desirable to insure to them our most zealous attention.
Our trade with Austria, although of secondary importance, has been gradually increasing, and is now so extended as to deserve the fostering care of the Government. A negotiation, commenced and nearly completed with that power by the late Administration, has been consummated by a treaty of amity, navigation, and commerce, which will be laid before the Senate.
During the recess of Congress our diplomatic relations with Portugal have been resumed. The peculiar state of things in that country caused a suspension of the recognition of the representative who presented himself until an opportunity was had to obtain from our official organ there information regarding the actual and, as far as practicable, prospective condition of the authority by which the representative in question was appointed. This information being received, the application of the established rule of our Government in like cases was no longer withheld.
Considerable advances have been made during the present year in the adjustment of claims of our citizens upon Denmark for spoliations, but all that we have a right to demand from that Government in their behalf has not yet been conceded. From the liberal footing, however, upon which this subject has, with the approbation of the claimants, been placed by the Government, together with the uniformly just and friendly disposition which has been evinced by His Danish Majesty, there is a reasonable ground to hope that this single subject of difference will speedily be removed.
Our relations with the Barbary Powers continue, as they have long been, of the most favorable character. The policy of keeping an adequate force in the Mediterranean, as security for the continuance of this tranquillity, will be persevered in, as well as a similar one for the protection of our commerce and fisheries in the Pacific.
The southern Republics of our own hemisphere have not yet realized all the advantages for which they have been so long struggling. We trust, however, that the day is not distant when the restoration of peace and internal quiet, under permanent systems of government, securing the liberty and promoting the happiness of the citizens, will crown with complete success their long and arduous efforts in the cause of self-government, and enable us to salute them as friendly rivals in all that is truly great and glorious.
The recent invasion of Mexico, and the effect thereby produced upon her domestic policy, must have a controlling influence upon the great question of South American emancipation. We have seen the fell spirit of civil dissension rebuked, and perhaps for ever stifled, in that Republic by the love of independence. If it be true, as appearances strongly indicate, the spirit of independence is the master spirit, and if a corresponding sentiment prevails in the other States, this devotion to liberty can not be without a proper effect upon the counsels of the mother country. The adoption by Spain of a pacific policy toward her former colonies–an event consoling to humanity, and a blessing to the world, in which she herself can not fail largely to participate–may be most reasonably expected.
The claims of our citizens upon the South American Governments generally are in a train of settlement, while the principal part of those upon Brazil have been adjusted, and a decree in council ordering bonds to be issued by the minister of the treasury for their amount has received the sanction of His Imperial Majesty. This event, together with the exchange of the ratifications of the treaty negotiated and concluded in 1828, happily terminates all serious causes of difference with that power.
Measures have been taken to place our commercial relations with Peru upon a better footing than that upon which they have hitherto rested, and if met by a proper disposition on the part of that Government important benefits may be secured to both countries.
Deeply interested as we are in the prosperity of our sister Republics, and more particularly in that of our immediate neighbor, it would be most gratifying to me were I permitted to say that the treatment which we have received at her hands has been as universally friendly as the early and constant solicitude manifested by the United States for her success gave us a right to expect. But it becomes my duty to inform you that prejudices long indulged by a portion of the inhabitants of Mexico against the envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of the United States have had an unfortunate influence upon the affairs of the two countries, and have diminished that usefulness to his own which was justly to be expected from his talents and zeal. To this cause, in a great degree, is to be imputed the failure of several measures equally interesting to both parties, but particularly that of the Mexican Government to ratify a treaty negotiated and concluded in its own capital and under its own eye. Under these circumstances it appeared expedient to give to Mr. Poinsett the option either to return or not, as in his judgment the interest of his country might require, and instructions to that end were prepared; but before they could be dispatched a communication was received from the Government of Mexico, through its charge d’affaires here, requesting the recall of our minister. This was promptly complied with, and a representative of a rank corresponding with that of the Mexican diplomatic agent near this Government was appointed. Our conduct toward that Republic has been uniformly of the most friendly character, and having thus removed the only alleged obstacle to harmonious intercourse, I can not but hope that an advantageous change will occur in our affairs.
In justice to Mr. Poinsett it is proper to say that my immediate compliance with the application for his recall and the appointment of a successor are not to be ascribed to any evidence that the imputation of an improper interference by him in the local politics of Mexico was well founded, nor to a want of confidence in his talents or integrity, and to add that the truth of the charges has never been affirmed by the federal Government of Mexico in its communications with us.
I consider it one of the most urgent of my duties to bring to your attention the propriety of amending that part of the Constitution which relates to the election of President and Vice-President. Our system of government was by its framers deemed an experiment, and they therefore consistently provided a mode of remedying its defects.