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now making appropriations, is a service analogous to that which the Government has upheld for generations in regard to vessels, and it is believed will prove of great practical benefit, both to railroad employees and the traveling public. As the greater part of commerce is interstate and exclusively under the control of the Congress the needed safety and uniformity must be secured by national legislation.
No other class of our citizens deserves so well of the Nation as those to whom the Nation owes its very being, the veterans of the civil war. Special attention is asked to the excellent work of the
Pension Bureau in expediting and disposing of Pensions.
pension claims. During the fiscal year ending
July 1, 1903, the Bureau settled 251,982 claims, an average of 825 claims for each working day of the number of settlements since July 1, 1903, has been in excess of last year's average, approaching 1,000 claims for each working day, and it is believed that the work of the Bureau will be current at the close of the present fiscal year.
During the year ended June 30 last 25,566 persons were appointed through competitive examinations under the civil-service rules. This was 12,672 more than during the preceding year, and 40 per
cent of those wlio passed the examinations. This Extension of civil
abnormal growth was largely occasioned by the service rules.
extension of classification to the rural free-delivery service and the appointment last year of over 9,000 rural carriers. A revision of the civil-service rules took effect on April 15 last, which has greatly improved their operation. The completion of the reform of the civil service is recognized by good citizens everywhere as a matter of the highest public importance, and the success of the merit system largely depends upon the effectiveness of the rules and the machinery provided for their enforcement. A very gratifying spirit of friendly cooperation exists in all the Departments of the Government in the enforcement and uniform obseryance of both the letter and spirit of the civil-service act. Executive orders of July 3, 1902; March 26, 1903, and July 8, 1903, require that appointments of all unclassified laborers, both in the Departments at Washington and in the field service, shall be made with the assistance of the United States Civil Service Commission, under a system of registration to test the relative fitness of applicants for appointment or employment. This system is competitive, and is open to all citizens of the United States qualified in respect to age, physical ability, moral character, industry, and adaptability for manual labor; except that in case of veterans of the civil war the element of age is omitted. This system of appointment is distinct from the classified service and does not classify positions of mere laborer under the civil-service act and rules. Regulations in aid thereof have been put in operation in several of the Departments and are being gradually extended in other parts of the service. The results have been very satisfactory, as extravagance has been checked by decreasing the number of unnecessary positions and by increasing the efficiency of the employees remaining.
The Congress, as the result of a thorough investigation of the charities and reformatory institutions in the District of Columbia, by a joint select committee of the two Houses which made its report
in March, 1898, created in the act approved June Reports of Board
6, 1900, a board of charities for the District of of Charities for District of Columbia. Columbia, to consist of five residents of the Dis
trict, appointed by the President of the United States, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, each for a term of three years, to serve without compensation. President McKinley appointed five men who had been active and prominent in the public charities of Washington, all of whom upon taking office July 1, 1900, resigned from the different charities with which they had been connected. The members of the
The members of the board have been reappointed in successive years. The board serves under the Commissioners of the District of Columbia. The board gave its first year to a careful and impartial study of the special problems before it, and has continued that study every year in the light of the best practice in public charities elsewhere. Its recommendations in its annual reports to the Congress through the Commissioners of the District of Columbia “for the economical and efficient administration of the charities and reformatories of the District of Columbia," as required by the act creating it, have been based upon the principles commended by the joint select committee of the Congress in its report of March, 1898, and approved by the best administrators of public charities, and make for the desired systematization and improvement of the affairs under its supervision. They are worthy of favorable consideration by the Congress.
The effect of the laws providing a General Staff for the Army and for the more effective use of the National Guard has been excellent.
Great improvement has been made in the efficiency The Army.
of our Army in recent years. Such schools as
those erected at Fort Leavenworth and Fort Riley and the institution of fall maneuver work accomplish saiisfactory results. The good effect of these maneuvers upon the National Guard is marked, and ample appropriation should be made to enable the guardsmen of the several States to share in the benefit. The Government should as soon as possible secure suitable permanent camp sites for military maneuvers in the various sections of the country. The service thereby rendered not only to the Regular Army, but to the National Guard of the several States, will be so great as to repay many times over the relatively small expense. We should not rest satisfied with what has been done, however. The only people who are contented with a system of promotion by mere seniority are those who are contented with the triumph of mediocrity over excellence. On the other hand a system which encouraged the exercise of social or political favoritism in promotions would be even worse. But it would surely be easy to devise a method of promotion from grade to grade in which the opinion of the higher officers of the service upon the candidates should be decisive upon the standing and promotion of the latter. Just such a system now obtains at West Point. The quality of each year's work determines the standing of that year's class, the man being dropped or graduated into the next class in the relative position which his military superiors decide to be warranted by his merit. In other words, ability, energy, fidelity, and all other similiar qualities determine the rank of a man year after year in West Point, and his standing in the Army when he graduates from West Point; but from that time on, all effort to find which man is best or worst, and reward or punish him accordingly, is abandoned; no brilliancy, no amount of hard work, no eagerness in the performance of duty, can advance him, and no slackness or indifference that falls short of a court-martial offense can retard him. Until this system is changed we can not hope that our officers will be of as high grade as we have a right to expect, considering the material upon which we draw. Moreover, when a man renders such service as Captain Pershing rendered last spring in the Moro campaign, it ought to be possible to reward him without at once jumping him to the grade of brigadier-general.
Shortly after the enunciation of that famous principle of American foreign policy now known as the “Monroe Doctrine,” President Monroe, in a special Message to Congress on January 30, 1824, spoke
as follows: “The Navy is the arm from which our Government will always derive most aid in support of our
rights. Every power engaged in war will know the strength of our naval power, the number of our ships of each class, their condition, and the
promptitude with which we may bring them into service, and will pay due consideration to that argument.”
I heartily congratulate the Congress upon the steady progress in building up the American Navy. We can not afford å let-up in this
To stand still means to go back. There should be no cessation in adding to the effective units of the fighting strength of the fleet. Meanwhile the Navy Department and the officers of the Navy are doing well their part by providing constant service at sea under conditions akin to those of actual warfare. Our officers and enlisted men are learning to handle the battle ships, cruisers, and torpedo boats with high efficiency in fleet and squadron formations, and the standard of marksmanship is being steadily raised. The best work ashore is indispensable, but the highest duty of a naval officer is to exercise command at sea.
The establishment of a naval base in the Philippines ought not to be longer postponed. Such a base is desirable in time of peace; in time of war it would be indispensable, and its lack would be ruinous. Without it our fleet would be helpless. Our naval experts are agreed that Subig Bay is the proper place for the purpose. The national interests require that the work of fortification and development of a naval station at Subig Bay be begun at an early date; for under the best conditions it is a work which will consume much time.
It is eminently desirable, however, that there should be provided a naval general staff on lines similar to those of the General Staff lately created for the Army. Within the Navy Department itself the needs of the service have brought about a system under which the duties of a general staff are partially performed; for the Bureau of Navigation has under its direction the War College, the Office of Naval Intelligence, and the Board of Inspection, and has been in close touch with the General Board of the Navy. But though under the excellent officers at their head, these boards and bureaus do good work, they have not the authority of a general staff, and have not sufficient scope to insure a proper readiness for emergencies. We need thie establishment by law of a body of trained officers, who shall exercise a systematic control of the military affairs of the Navy, and be authorized advisers of the Secretary concerning it.
By the act of June 28, 1902, the Congress authorized the President to enter into treaty with Colombia for the building of the
canal across the Isthmus of Panama; it being proIsthmian Canal. vided that in the event of failure to secure such
treaty after the lapse of a reasonable time, recourse should be had to building a canal through Nicaragua. It has not been necessary to consider this alternative, as I am enabled to lay before the Senate a treaty providing for the building of the canal across the Isthmus of Panama. This was the route which commended itself to the deliberate judgment of the Congress, and we can now acquire by treaty the right to construct the canal over this route. The question now, therefore, is not by which route the isthmian canal shall be built, for that question has been definitely and irrevocably decided. The question is simply whether or not we shall have an isthmian canal.
When the Congress directed that we should take the Panama route under treaty with Colombia, the essence of the condition, of course, referred not to the Government which controlled that route, but to the route itself; to the territory across which the route lay, not to the name which for the moment the territory bore on the map. The purpose of the law was to authorize the President to make a treaty with the power in actual control of the Isthmus of Panama. This purpose has been fulfilled.
In the year 1846 this Government entered into a treaty with New Granada, the predecessor upon the Isthmus of the Republic of Colombia and of the present Republic of Panama, by which treaty it was provided that the Government and citizens of the United States should always have free and open right of way or transit across the Isthmus of Panama by any modes of communication that might be constructed, while in return our Government guaranteed the perfect neutrality of the above-mentioned Isthmus with the view that the free transit from the one to the other sea might not be interrupted or embarrassed. The treaty vested in the United States a substantial property right carved out of the rights of sovereignty and property which New Granada then had and possessed over the
said territory. The name of New Granada has Review of relations of United States
passed away and its territory has been divided. Government to
Its successor, the Government of Colombia, has matter of transit ceased to own any property in the Isthmus. A across Isthmus of
new Republic, that of Panama, which was at one Panama.
time a sovereign state, and at another time a mere department of the successive confederations known as New Granada and Colombia, has now succeeded to the rights which first one and then the other formerly exercised over the Isthmus. But as long as the Isthmus endures, the mere geographical fact of its existence, and the peculiar interest therein which is required by our position, perpetuate the solemn contract which binds the holders of the territory to respect our right to freedom of transit across it, and binds us