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FROM THE

PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

TO THE

TWO HOUSES OF CONGRESS,

AT

THE COMMENCEMENT OF THE THIRD SESSION

OF THE

FORTIETH CONGRESS,

WITH THE

REPORTS OF THE HEADS OF DEPARTMENTS.

AND

SELECTIONS FROM ACCOMPANYING DOCUMENTS.

EDITED BY

BEN: PERLEY POORE,

CLERK OF PRINTING RECORDS.

WASHINGTON:
GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE.

1869.

Prepared in accordance with the following provisions of "Au act to expedite and regulate the printing of public documents, and for other purposes," approved June 25, 1864.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That hereafter, instead of furnishing manuscript copies of the documents usually accompanying their annual reports to each house of Congress, the heads of the several departments of government shall transmit then, on or before the first day of November in each year, to the Superintendent of Public Printing, who shall cause to be printed the usual number, and, in addition thereto, one thousand copies for the use of the Senate and two thousand copies for the use of the House of Representatives. And that it shall be the duty of the Joint Committee on Printing to appoint some competent person, who shall edit and select such portions of the documents so placed in their hands as shall, in the judgment of the committee, be desirable for popular distribution, and to prepare an alphabetical index to the same.

SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the heads of the several departments of government to furnish the Superintendent of Public Printing with copies of their respective reports on or before the third Monday in November in each year.

Sec. 4. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the Superintendent of Public Printing to print the President's message, the reports of the heads of departments, and the abridgment of accompanying documents prepared under the direction of the Joint Committee on Public Printing, suitably bouud; and that, in addition to the number now required by law, and unless otherwise ordered by either house of Congress, it shall be his duty to print ten thousand copies of the same for the use of the Senate, and twenty-five thousand copies for the use of the House, and to deliver the same to the proper officer of each house, respectively, on or before the third Wednesday in December following the assembling of Congress, or as soon thereafter as practicable.

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MESSAGE

OF

THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. .

FELLOW-CITIZENS OF THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Upon the reassembling of Congress, it again becomes my duty to call your attention to the state of the Union, and to its continued disorganized condition under the various laws which have been passed upon the subject of reconstruction.

It may be safely assumed, as an axiom in the government of States, that the greatest wrongs inflicted upon a people are caused by unjust and arbitrary legislation, or by the unrelenting decrees of despotic rulers, and that the timely revocation of injurious and oppressive measures is the greatest good that can be conferred upon a nation. The legislator or ruler who has the wisdom and magnanimity to retrace his steps, when convinced of error, will sooner or later be rewarded with the respect and gratitude of an intelligent and patriotic people.

Our own history-although embracing a period less than a century, affords abundant proof that most if not all of our domestic troubles are directly traceable to violations of the organic law and excessive legislation. The most striking illustrations of this fact are furnished by the enactments of the past three years upon the question of reconstruction. After a fair trial they have substantially failed and proved pernicious in their results, and there seems to be no good reason why they should longer remain upon the statute-book. States to which the Constitution guarantees a republican form of government have been reduced to military dependencies, in each of which the people have been made subject to the arbitrary will of the commanding general. Although the Constitution requires that each State shall be represented in Congress, Virginia, Mississippi, and Texas are yet excluded from the two houses, and, contrary to the express provisions of that instrument, were denied participation in the recent election for a President and Vice-President of the United States. The attempt to place the white population under the domination of persons of color in the South has impaired, if not destroyed, the kindly relations that had previously existed between them; and mutual distrust has engendered a feeling of animosity which, leading in some instances to collision and bloodshed, has prevented that co-operation between the two races so essential to the success of industrial enterprise in the southern States. Nor have the inhabitants of those States alone suffered from the disturbed condition of affairs growing out of these congressional enactments. The entire Union has been agitated by grave apprehensions of troubles which might again involve the peace of the nation; its interests have been injuriously affected by the derangement of business and labor, and the consequent want of prosperity throughout that portion of the country.

The federal Constitution—the magna charta of American rights, under whose wise and salutary provisions we have successfully conducted all our domestic and foreign affairs, sustained ourselves in peace and in war, and become a great nation among the powers of the earth—must assuredly be now adequate to the settlement of questions growing out of the civil war waged alone for its vindication. This great fact is made most mani. fest by the condition of the country when Congress assembled in the month of December, 1865. Civil strife had ceased; the spirit of rebellion had spent its entire force; in the southern States the people had warmed into national life, and throughout the whole country a healthy reaction in public sentiment had taken place. By the application of the simple yet effective provisions of the Constitution, the executive department, with the voluntary aid of the States, had brought the work of restoration as near completion as was within the scope of its authority, and the nation was encouraged by the prospect of an early and satisfactory adjustment of all its difficulties. Congress, however, intervened, and refusing to perfect the work so nearly consummated, declined to admit members from the unrepresented States, adopted a series of measures which arrested the progress of restoration, frustrated all that had been so successfully accomplished, and, after three years of agitation and strife, has left the country further from the attainment of union and fraternal feeling than at the inception of the congressional plan of reconstruction. It needs no argument to show that legislation which has produced such baneful consequences should be abrogated, or else made to conform to the genuine principles of republican government.

Under the influence of party passion and sectional prejudice, other acts have been passed not warranted by the Constitution. Congress has already been made familiar with my views respecting the “tenure of office bill." Experience has proved that its repeal is demanded by the best interests of the country, and that while it remains in force the President cannot enjoin that rigid accountability of public officers so essential to an honest and efficient execution of the laws. Its revocation would enable the executive department to exercise the power of appointment and removal in accordance with the original design of the federal Constitution.

The act of March 2, 1867, making appropriations for the support of the army for the year ending June 30, 1868, and for other purposes, contains provisions which interfere with the President's constitutional functions as commander-in-chief of the army, and deny to States of the Union the right to protect themselves by means of their own militia. These provisions should be at once annulled; for while the first might, in times of great emergency, seriously embarrass the Executive in efforts to employ and direct the common strength of the nation for its protection and preservation, the other is contrary to the express declaration of the Constiq

tution, that "a well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

It is believed that the repeal of all such laws would be accepted by the American people as at least a partial return to the fundamental principles of the government, and an indication that hereafter the Constitution is to be made the nation's safe and unerring guide. They can be productive of no permanent benefit to the country, and should not be permitted to stand as so many monuments of the deficient wisdom which has characterized our recent legislation.

The condition of our finances demands the early and earnest consideration of Congress. Compared with the growth of our population, the public expenditures have reached an amount unprecedented in our history.

The population of the United States in 1790 was nearly four millions of people. Increasing each decade about thirty-three per cent., it reached in 1860 thirty-one millions—an increase of seven hundred per cent. on the population in 1790. In 1869 it is estimated that it will reach thirtyeight millions, or an increase of eight lundred and sixty-eight per cent. in seventy-nine years.

The annual expenditures of the federal government in 1791 were four million two hundred thousand dollars ; in 1820, eighteen million two hundred thousand dollars; in 1850, forty-one millions; in 1860, sixtythree millions; in 1865, pearly thirteen hundred millions; and in 1869 it is estimated by the Secretary of the Treasury, in his last annual report, that they will be three hundred and seventy-two millions.

By comparing the public disbursements of 1869, as estimated, with those of 1791, it will be seen that the increase of expenditure since the beginning of the government bas been eight thousand six hundred and eighteen per centum, Wiile the increase of the population for the same period was only eight hundred and sixty-eight per centum. Again, the expenses of the goveriment in 1860, the year of peace immediately preceiling the war, were only sixty-three millions; while in 1869, the year of peace three years after the war, it is estimated they will be three hundred and seventy-two millions—an increase of four bundred and eightynine per centum, while the increase of population was only twenty-one per centum for the same period.

These statistics further show that in 1791 the annual national expenses, compared with the population, were little more than one dollar per capita, and in 1860 but two dollars per capita; while in 1869 they will reach the extravagant sum of nine dollars and seventy-eight cents per capita,

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