The addresses are separated by three asterisks: ***
Dates of addresses by Rutherford B. Hayes in this eBook: December 3, 1877 December 2, 1878 December 1, 1879 December 6, 1880
State of the Union Address Rutherford B. Hayes December 3, 1877
Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:
With devout gratitude to the bountiful Giver of All Good, I congratulate you that at the beginning of your first regular session you find our country blessed with health and peace and abundant harvests, and with encouraging prospects of an early return of general prosperity.
To complete and make permanent the pacification of the country continues to be, and until it is fully accomplished must remain, the most important of all our national interests. The earnest purpose of good citizens generally to unite their efforts in this endeavor is evident. It found decided expression in the resolutions announced in 1876 by the national conventions of the leading political parties of the country. There was a widespread apprehension that the momentous results in our progress as a nation marked by the recent amendments to the Constitution were in imminent jeopardy; that the good understanding which prompted their adoption, in the interest of a loyal devotion to the general welfare, might prove a barren truce, and that the two sections of the country, once engaged in civil strife, might be again almost as widely severed and disunited as they were when arrayed in arms against each other.
The course to be pursued, which, in my judgment, seemed wisest in the presence of this emergency, was plainly indicated in my inaugural address. It pointed to the time, which all our people desire to see, when a genuine love of our whole country and of all that concerns its true welfare shall supplant the destructive forces of the mutual animosity of races and of sectional hostility. Opinions have differed widely as to the measures best calculated to secure this great end. This was to be expected. The measures adopted by the Administration have been subjected to severe and varied criticism. Any course whatever which might have been entered upon would certainly have encountered distrust and opposition. These measures were, in my judgment, such as were most in harmony with the Constitution and with the genius of our people, and best adapted, under all the circumstances, to attain the end in view. Beneficent results, already apparent, prove that these endeavors are not to be regarded as a mere experiment, and should sustain and encourage us in our efforts. Already, in the brief period which has elapsed, the immediate effectiveness, no less than the justice, of the course pursued is demonstrated, and I have an abiding faith that time will furnish its ample vindication in the minds of the great majority of my fellow-citizens. The discontinuance of the use of the Army for the purpose of upholding local governments in two States of the Union was no less a constitutional duty and requirement, under the circumstances existing at the time, than it was a much-needed measure for the restoration of local self-government and the promotion of national harmony. The withdrawal of the troops from such employment was effected deliberately, and with solicitous care for the peace and good order of society and the protection of the property and persons and every right of all classes of citizens.
The results that have followed are indeed significant and encouraging. All apprehension of danger from remitting those States to local self-government is dispelled, and a most salutary change in the minds of the people has begun and is in progress in every part of that section of the country once the theater of unhappy civil strife, substituting for suspicion, distrust, and aversion, concord, friendship, and patriotic attachment to the Union. No unprejudiced mind will deny that the terrible and often fatal collisions which for several years have been of frequent occurrence and have agitated and alarmed the public mind have almost entirely ceased, and that a spirit of mutual forbearance and hearty national interest has succeeded. There has been a general reestablishment of order and of the orderly administration of justice. Instances of remaining lawlessness have become of rare occurrence; political turmoil and turbulence have disappeared; useful industries have been resumed; public credit in the Southern States has been greatly strengthened, and the encouraging benefits of a revival of commerce between the sections of the country lately embroiled in civil war are fully enjoyed. Such are some of the results already attained, upon which the country is to be congratulated. They are of such importance that we may with confidence patiently await the desired consummation that will surely come with the natural progress of events.
It may not be improper here to say that it should be our fixed and unalterable determination to protect by all available and proper means under the Constitution and the laws the lately emancipated race in the enjoyment of their rights and privileges; and I urge upon those to whom heretofore the colored people have sustained the relation of bondmen the wisdom and justice of humane and liberal local legislation with respect to their education and general welfare. A firm adherence to the laws, both national and State, as to the civil and political rights of the colored people, now advanced to full and equal citizenship; the immediate repression and sure punishment by the national and local authorities, within their respective jurisdictions, of every instance of lawlessness and violence toward them, is required for the security alike of both races, and is justly demanded by the public opinion of the country and the age. In this way the restoration of harmony and good will and the complete protection of every citizen in the full enjoyment of every constitutional right will surely be attained. Whatever authority rests with me to this end I shall not hesitate to put forth.
Whatever belongs to the power of Congress and the jurisdiction of the courts of the Union, they may confidently be relied upon to provide and perform; and to the legislatures, the courts, and the executive authorities of the several States I earnestly appeal to secure, by adequate, appropriate, and seasonable means, Within their borders, these common and uniform rights of a united people which loves liberty, abhors oppression, and reveres justice. These objects are very dear to my heart. I shall continue most earnestly to strive for their attainment. The cordial cooperation of all classes, of all sections of the country and of both races, is required for this purpose; and with these blessings assured, and not otherwise, we may safely hope to hand down our free institutions of government unimpaired to the generations that will succeed us.
Among the other subjects of great and general importance to the people of this country, I can not be mistaken, I think, in regarding as preeminent the policy and measures which are designed to secure the restoration of the currency to that normal and healthful condition in which, by the resumption of specie payments, our internal trade and foreign commerce may be brought into harmony with the system of exchanges which is based upon the precious metals as the intrinsic money of the world. In the public judgment that this end should be sought and compassed as speedily and securely as the resources of the people and the wisdom of their Government can accomplish, there is a much greater degree of unanimity than is found to concur in the specific measures which will bring the country to this desired end or the rapidity of the steps by which it can be safely reached.
Upon a most anxious and deliberate examination, which I have felt it my duty to give to the subject, I am but the more confirmed in the opinion which I expressed in accepting the nomination for the Presidency, and again upon my inauguration, that the policy of resumption should be pursued by every suitable means, and that no legislation would be wise that should disparage the importance or retard the attainment of that result. I have no disposition, and certainly no right, to question the sincerity or the intelligence of opposing opinions, and would neither conceal nor undervalue the considerable difficulties, and even occasional distresses, which may attend the progress of the nation toward this primary condition to its general and permanent prosperity. I must, however, adhere to my most earnest conviction that any wavering in purpose or unsteadiness in methods, so far from avoiding or reducing the inconvenience inseparable from the transition from an irredeemable to a redeemable paper currency, would only tend to increased and prolonged disturbance in values, and unless retrieved must end in serious disorder, dishonor, and disaster in the financial affairs of the Government and of the people.
The mischiefs which I apprehend and urgently deprecate are confined to no class of the people, indeed, but seem to me most certainly to threaten the industrious masses, whether their occupations are of skilled or common labor. To them, it seems to me, it is of prime importance that their labor should be compensated in money which is itself fixed in exchangeable value by being irrevocably measured by the labor necessary to its production. This permanent quality of the money of the people is sought for, and can only be gained by the resumption of specie payments. The rich, the speculative, the operating, the money-dealing classes may not always feel the mischiefs of, or may find casual profits in, a variable currency, but the misfortunes of such a currency to those who are paid salaries or wages are inevitable and remediless.
Closely connected with this general subject of the resumption of specie payments is one of subordinate, but still of grave, importance; I mean the readjustment of our coinage system by the renewal of the silver dollar as an element in our specie currency, endowed by legislation with the quality of legal tender to a greater or less extent.
As there is no doubt of the power of Congress under the Constitution "to coin money and regulate the value thereof," and as this power covers the whole range of authority applicable to the metal, the rated value and the legal-tender quality which shall be adopted for the coinage, the considerations which should induce or discourage a particular measure connected with the coinage, belong clearly to the province of legislative discretion and of public expediency. Without intruding upon this province of legislation in the least, I have yet thought the subject of such critical importance, in the actual condition of our affairs, as to present an occasion for the exercise of the duty imposed by the Constitution on the President of recommending to the consideration of Congress "such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient."
Holding the opinion, as I do, that neither the interests of the Government nor of the people of the United States would be promoted by disparaging silver as one of the two precious metals which furnish the coinage of the world, and that legislation which looks to maintaining the volume of intrinsic money to as full a measure of both metals as their relative commercial values will permit would be neither unjust nor inexpedient, I must ask your indulgence to a brief and definite statement of certain essential features in any such legislative measure which I feel it my duty to recommend.
I do not propose to enter the debate, represented on both sides by such able disputants in Congress and before the people and in the press, as to the extent to which the legislation of any one nation can control this question, even within its own borders, against the unwritten laws of trade or the positive laws of other governments. The wisdom of Congress in shaping any particular law that may be presented for my approval may wholly supersede the necessity of my entering into these considerations, and I willingly avoid either vague or intricate inquiries. It is only certain plain and practical traits of such legislation that I desire to recommend to your attention.
In any legislation providing for a silver coinage, regulating its value, and imparting to it the quality of legal tender, it seems to me of great importance that Congress should not lose sight of its action as operating in a twofold capacity and in two distinct directions. If the United States Government were free from a public debt, its legislative dealing with the question of silver coinage would be purely sovereign and governmental, under no restraints but those of constitutional power and the public good as affected by the proposed legislation. But in the actual circumstances of the nation, with a vast public debt distributed very widely among our own citizens and held in great amounts also abroad, the nature of the silver-coinage measure, as affecting this relation of the Government to the holders of the public debt, becomes an element, in any proposed legislation, of the highest concern. The obligation of the public faith transcends all questions of profit or public advantage otherwise. Its unquestionable maintenance is the dictate as well of the highest expediency as of the most necessary duty, and will ever be carefully guarded by Congress and people alike.
The public debt of the United States to the amount of $729,000,000 bears interest at the rate of 6 per cent, and $708,000,000 at the rate of 5 per cent, and the only way in which the country can be relieved from the payment of these high rates of interest is by advantageously refunding the indebtedness. Whether the debt is ultimately paid in gold or in silver coin is of but little moment compared with the possible reduction of interest one-third by refunding it at such reduced rate. If the United States had the unquestioned right to pay its bonds in silver coin, the little benefit from that process would be greatly overbalanced by the injurious effect of such payment if made or proposed against the honest convictions of the public creditors.
All the bonds that have been issued since February 12, 1873, when gold became the only unlimited legal-tender metallic currency of the country, are justly payable in gold coin or in coin of equal value. During the time of these issues the only dollar that could be or was received by the Government in exchange for bonds was the gold dollar. To require the public creditors to take in repayment any dollar of less commercial value would be regarded by them as a repudiation of the full obligation assumed. The bonds issued prior to 1873 were issued at a time when the gold dollar was the only coin in circulation or contemplated by either the Government or the holders of the bonds as the coin in which they were to be paid. It is far better to pay these bonds in that coin than to seem to take advantage of the unforeseen fall in silver bullion to pay in a new issue of silver coin thus made so much less valuable. The power of the United States to coin money and to regulate the value thereof ought never to be exercised for the purpose of enabling the Government to pay its obligations in a coin of less value than that contemplated by the parties when the bonds were issued. Any attempt to pay the national indebtedness in a coinage of less commercial value than the money of the world would involve a violation of the public faith and work irreparable injury to the public credit.
It was the great merit of the act of March, 1869, in strengthening the public credit, that it removed all doubt as to the purpose of the United States to pay their bonded debt in coin. That act was accepted as a pledge of public faith. The Government has derived great benefit from it in the progress thus far made in refunding the public debt at low rates of interest. An adherence to the wise and just policy of an exact observance of the public faith will enable the Government rapidly to reduce the burden of interest on the national debt to an amount exceeding $20,000,000 per annum, and effect an aggregate saving to the United States of more than $300,000,000 before the bonds can be fully paid.
In adapting the new silver coinage to the ordinary uses of currency in the everyday transactions of life and prescribing the quality of legal tender to be assigned to it, a consideration of the first importance should be so to adjust the ratio between the silver and the gold coinage, which now constitutes our specie currency, as to accomplish the desired end of maintaining the circulation of the two metallic currencies and keeping up the volume of the two precious metals as our intrinsic money. It is a mixed question, for scientific reasoning and historical experience to determine, how far and by what methods a practical equilibrium can be maintained which will keep both metals in circulation in their appropriate spheres of common use.
An absolute equality of commercial value, free from disturbing fluctuations, is hardly attainable, and without it an unlimited legal tender for private transactions assigned to both metals would irresistibly tend to drive out of circulation the clearer coinage and disappoint the principal object proposed by the legislation in view. I apprehend, therefore, that the two conditions of a near approach to equality of commercial value between the gold and silver coinage of the same denomination and of a limitation of the amounts for which the silver coinage is to be a legal tender are essential to maintaining both in circulation. If these conditions can be successfully observed, the issue from the mint of silver dollars would afford material assistance to the community in the transition to redeemable paper money, and would facilitate the resumption of specie payment and its permanent establishment. Without these conditions I fear that only mischief and misfortune would flow from a coinage of silver dollars with the quality of unlimited legal tender, even in private transactions.
Any expectation of temporary ease from an issue of silver coinage to pass as a legal tender at a rate materially above its commercial value is, I am persuaded, a delusion. Nor can I think that there is any substantial distinction between an original issue of silver dollars at a nominal value materially above their commercial value and the restoration of the silver dollar at a rate which once was, but has ceased to be, its commercial value. Certainly the issue of our gold coinage, reduced in weight materially below its legal-tender value, would not be any the less a present debasement of the coinage by reason of its equaling, or even exceeding, in weight a gold coinage which at some past time had been commercially equal to the legal-tender value assigned to the new issue.
In recommending that the regulation of any silver coinage which may be authorized by Congress should observe these conditions of commercial value and limited legal tender, I am governed by the feeling that every possible increase should be given to the volume of metallic money which can be kept in circulation, and thereby every possible aid afforded to the people in the process of resuming specie payments. It is because of my firm conviction that a disregard of these conditions would frustrate the good results which are desired from the proposed coinage, and embarrass with new elements of confusion and uncertainty the business of the country, that I urge upon your attention these considerations.
I respectfully recommend to Congress that in any legislation providing for a silver coinage and imparting to it the quality of legal tender there be impressed upon the measure a firm provision exempting the public debt heretofore issued and now outstanding from payment, either of principal or interest, in any coinage of less commercial value than the present gold coinage of the country.
The organization of the civil service of the country has for a number of years attracted more and more of the public attention. So general has become the opinion that the methods of admission to it and the conditions of remaining in it are unsound that both the great political parties have agreed in the most explicit declarations of the necessity of reform and in the most emphatic demands for it. I have fully believed these declarations and demands to be the expression of a sincere conviction of the intelligent masses of the people upon the subject, and that they should be recognized and followed by earnest and prompt action on the part of the legislative and executive departments of the Government, in pursuance of the purpose indicated.
Before my accession to office I endeavored to have my own views distinctly understood, and upon my inauguration my accord with the public opinion was stated in terms believed to be plain and unambiguous. My experience in the executive duties has strongly confirmed the belief in the great advantage the country would find in observing strictly the plan of the Constitution, which imposes upon the Executive the sole duty and responsibility of the selection of those Federal officers who by law are appointed, not elected, and which in like manner assigns to the Senate the complete right to advise and consent to or to reject the nominations so made, whilst the House of Representatives stands as the public censor of the performance of official duties, with the prerogative of investigation and prosecution in all cases of dereliction. The blemishes and imperfections in the civil service may, as I think, be traced in most cases to a practical confusion of the duties assigned to the several Departments of the Government. My purpose in this respect has been to return to the system established by the fundamental law, and to do this with the heartiest cooperation and most cordial understanding with the Senate and House of Representatives.
The practical difficulties in the selection of numerous officers for posts of widely varying responsibilities and duties are acknowledged to be very great. No system can be expected to secure absolute freedom from mistakes, and the beginning of any attempted change of custom is quite likely to be more embarrassed in this respect than any subsequent period. It is here that the Constitution seems to me to prove its claim to the great wisdom accorded to it. It gives to the Executive the assistance of the knowledge and experience of the Senate, which, when acting upon nominations as to which they may be disinterested and impartial judges, secures as strong a guaranty of freedom from errors of importance as is perhaps possible in human affairs.
In addition to this, I recognize the public advantage of making all nominations, as nearly as possible, impersonal, in the sense of being free from mere caprice or favor in the selection; and in those offices in which special training is of greatly increased value I believe such a rule as to the tenure of office should obtain as may induce men of proper qualifications to apply themselves industriously to the task of becoming proficients. Bearing these things in mind, I have endeavored to reduce the number of changes in subordinate places usually made upon the change of the general administration, and shall most heartily cooperate with Congress in the better systematizing of such methods and rules of admission to the public service and of promotion within it as, may promise to be most successful in making thorough competency, efficiency, and character the decisive tests in these matters.
I ask the renewed attention of Congress to what has already been done by the Civil Service Commission, appointed, in pursuance of an act of Congress, by my predecessor, to prepare and revise civil-service rules. In regard to much of the departmental service, especially at Washington, it may be difficult to organize a better system than that which has thus been provided, and it is now being used to a considerable extent under my direction. The Commission has still a legal existence, although for several years no appropriation has been made for defraying its expenses. Believing that this Commission has rendered valuable service and will be a most useful agency in improving the administration of the civil service, I respectfully recommend that a suitable appropriation, to be immediately available, be made to enable it to continue its labors.
It is my purpose to transmit to Congress as early as practicable a report by the chairman of the Commission, and to ask your attention to such measures on this subject as in my opinion will further promote the improvement of the civil service.
During the past year the United States have continued to maintain peaceful relations with foreign powers.
The outbreak of war between Russia and Turkey, though at one time attended by grave apprehension as to its effect upon other European nations, has had no tendency to disturb the amicable relations existing between the United States and each of the two contending powers. An attitude of just and impartial neutrality has been preserved, and I am gratified to state that in the midst of their hostilities both the Russian and the Turkish Governments have shown an earnest disposition to adhere to the obligations of all treaties with the United States and to give due regard to the rights of American citizens.
By the terms of the treaty defining the rights, immunities, and privileges of consuls, between Italy and the United States, ratified in 1868, either Government may, after the lapse of ten years, terminate the existence of the treaty by giving twelve months' notice of its intention. The Government of Italy, availing itself of this faculty, has now given the required notice, and the treaty will accordingly end on the 17th of September, 1878. It is understood, however, that the Italian Government wishes to renew it in its general scope, desiring only certain modifications in some of its articles. In this disposition I concur, and shall hope that no serious obstacles may intervene to prevent or delay the negotiation of a satisfactory treaty.
Numerous questions in regard to passports, naturalization, and exemption from military service have continued to arise in cases of emigrants from Germany who have returned to their native country. The provisions of the treaty of February 22, 1868, however, have proved to be so ample and so judicious that the legation of the United States at Berlin has been able to adjust all claims arising under it, not only without detriment to the amicable relations existing between the two Governments, but, it is believed, without injury or injustice to any duly naturalized American citizen. It is desirable that the treaty originally made with the North German Union in 1868 should now be extended so as to apply equally to all the States of the Empire of Germany.
The invitation of the Government of France to participate in the Exposition of the Products of Agriculture, Industry, and the Fine Arts to be held at Paris during the coming year was submitted for your consideration at the extra session. It is not doubted that its acceptance by the United States, and a well-selected exhibition of the products of American industry on that occasion, will tend to stimulate international commerce and emigration, as well as to promote the traditional friendship between the two countries.
A question arose some time since as to the proper meaning of the extradition articles of the treaty of 1842 between the United States and Great Britain. Both Governments, however, are now in accord in the belief that the question is not one that should be allowed to frustrate the ends of justice or to disturb the friendship between the two nations. No serious difficulty has arisen in accomplishing the extradition of criminals when necessary. It is probable that all points of disagreement will in due time be settled, and, if need be, more explicit declarations be made in a new treaty.
The Fishery Commission under Articles XVIII to XXV of the treaty of Washington has concluded its session at Halifax. The result of the deliberations of the commission, as made public by the commissioners, will be communicated to Congress.
A treaty for the protection of trade-marks has been negotiated with Great Britain, which has been submitted to the Senate for its consideration.
The revolution which recently occurred in Mexico was followed by the accession of the successful party to power and the installation of its chief, General Porfirio Diaz, in the Presidential office. It has been the custom of the United States, when such changes of government have heretofore occurred in Mexico, to recognize and enter into official relations with the de facto government as soon as it should appear to have the approval of the Mexican people and should manifest a disposition to adhere to the obligations of treaties and international friendship. In the present case such official recognition has been deferred by the occurrences on the Rio Grande border, the records of which have been already communicated to each House of Congress in answer to their respective resolutions of inquiry. Assurances have been received that the authorities at the seat of the Mexican Government have both the disposition and the power to prevent and punish such unlawful invasions and depredations. It is earnestly to be hoped that events may prove these assurances to be well rounded. The best interests of both countries require the maintenance of peace upon the border and the development of commerce between the two Republics.
It is gratifying to add that this temporary interruption of official relations has not prevented due attention by the representatives of the United States in Mexico to the protection of American citizens, so far as practicable; nor has it interfered with the prompt payment of the amounts due from Mexico to the United States under the treaty of July 4, 1868, and the awards of the joint commission. While I do not anticipate an interruption of friendly relations with Mexico, yet I can not but look with some solicitude upon a continuance of border disorders as exposing the two countries to initiations of popular feeling and mischances of action which are naturally unfavorable to complete amity. Firmly determined that nothing shall be wanting on my part to promote a good understanding between the two nations, I yet must ask the attention of Congress to the actual occurrences on the border, that the lives and property of our citizens may be adequately protected and peace preserved.
Another year has passed without bringing to a close the protracted contest between the Spanish Government and the insurrection in the island of Cuba. While the United States have sedulously abstained from any intervention in this contest, it is impossible not to feel that it is attended with incidents affecting the rights and interests of American citizens. Apart from the effect of the hostilities upon trade between the United States and Cuba, their progress is inevitably accompanied by complaints, having more or less foundation, of searches, arrests, embargoes, and oppressive taxes upon the property of American residents, and of unprovoked interference with American vessels and commerce. It is due to the Government of Spain to say that during the past year it has promptly disavowed and offered reparation for any unauthorized acts of unduly zealous subordinates whenever such acts have been brought to its attention. Nevertheless, such occurrences can not but tend to excite feelings of annoyance, suspicion, and resentment, which are greatly to be deprecated, between the respective subjects and citizens of two friendly powers.
Much delay (consequent upon accusations of fraud in some of the awards) has occurred in respect to the distribution of the limited amounts received from Venezuela under the treaty of April 25, 1866, applicable to the awards of the joint commission created by that treaty. So long as these matters are pending in Congress the Executive can not assume either to pass upon the questions presented or to distribute the fund received. It is eminently desirable that definite legislative action should be taken, either affirming the awards to be final or providing some method for reexamination of the claims. Our relations with the Republics of Central and South America and with the Empire of Brazil have continued without serious change, further than the temporary interruption of diplomatic intercourse with Venezuela and with Guatemala. Amicable relations have already been fully restored with Venezuela, and it is not doubted that all grounds of misunderstanding with Guatemala will speedily be removed. From all these countries there are favorable indications of a disposition on the part of their Governments and people to reciprocate our efforts in the direction of increased commercial intercourse.
The Government of the Samoan Islands has sent an envoy, in the person of its secretary of state, to invite the Government of the United States to recognize and protect their independence, to establish commercial relations with their people, and to assist them in their steps toward regulated and responsible government. The inhabitants of these islands, having made considerable progress in Christian civilization and the development of trade, are doubtful of their ability to maintain peace and independence without the aid of some stronger power. The subject is deemed worthy of respectful attention, and the claims upon our assistance by this distant community will be carefully considered.
The long commercial depression in the United States has directed attention to the subject of the possible increase of our foreign trade and the methods for its development, not only with Europe, but with other countries, and especially with the States and sovereignties of the Western Hemisphere. Instructions from the Department of State were issued to the various diplomatic and consular officers of the Government, asking them to devote attention to the question of methods by which trade between the respective countries of their official residence and the United States could be most judiciously fostered. In obedience to these instructions, examinations and reports upon this subject have been made by many of these officers and transmitted to the Department, and the same are submitted to the consideration of Congress.
The annual report of the Secretary of the Treasury on the state of the finances presents important questions for the action of Congress, upon some of which I have already remarked.
The revenues of the Government during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1877, were $269,000,586.62; the total expenditures for the same period were $238,660,008.93, leaving a surplus revenue of $30,340,577.69. This has substantially supplied the requirements of the sinking fund for that year. The estimated revenues of the current fiscal year are $265,500,000, and the estimated expenditures for the same period are $232,430,643.72. If these estimates prove to be correct, there will be a surplus revenue of $33,069,356.28—an amount nearly sufficient for the sinking fund for that year. The estimated revenues for the next fiscal year are $269,250,000. It appears from the report that during the last fiscal year the revenues of the Government, compared with the previous year, have largely decreased. This decrease, amounting to the sum of $18,481,452.54, was mainly in customs duties, caused partly by a large falling off of the amount of imported dutiable goods and partly by the general fall of prices in the markets of production of such articles as pay ad valorem taxes.
While this is felt injuriously in the diminution of the revenue, it has been accompanied with a very large increase of exportations. The total exports during the last fiscal year, including coin, have been $658,637,457, and the imports have been $492,097,540, leaving a balance of trade in favor of the United States amounting to the sum of $166,539,917, the beneficial effects of which extend to all branches of business.
The estimated revenue for the next fiscal year will impose upon Congress the duty of strictly limiting appropriations, including the requisite sum for the maintenance of the sinking fund, within the aggregate estimated receipts.
While the aggregate of taxes should not be increased, amendments might be made to the revenue laws that would, without diminishing the revenue, relieve the people from unnecessary burdens. A tax on tea and coffee is shown by the experience not only of our own country, but of other countries, to be easily collected, without loss by undervaluation or fraud, and largely borne in the country of production. A tax of 10 cents a pound on tea and 2 cents a pound on coffee would produce a revenue exceeding $12,000,000, and thus enable Congress to repeal a multitude of annoying taxes yielding a revenue not exceeding that sum. The internal-revenue system grew out of the necessities of the war, and most of the legislation imposing taxes upon domestic products under this system has been repealed. By the substitution of a tax on tea and coffee all forms of internal taxation may be repealed, except that on whisky, spirits, tobacco, and beer. Attention is also called to the necessity of enacting more vigorous laws for the protection of the revenue and for the punishment of frauds and smuggling. This can best be done by judicious provisions that will induce the disclosure of attempted fraud by undervaluation and smuggling. All revenue laws should be simple in their provisions and easily understood. So far as practicable, the rates of taxation should be in the form of specific duties, and not ad valorem, requiring the judgment of experienced men to ascertain values and exposing the revenue to the temptation of fraud.
My attention has been called during the recess of Congress to abuses existing in the collection of the customs, and strenuous efforts have been made for their correction by Executive orders. The recommendations submitted to the Secretary of the Treasury by a commission appointed to examine into the collection of customs duties at the port of New York contain many suggestions for the modification of the customs laws, to which the attention of Congress is invited.
It is matter of congratulation that notwithstanding the severe burdens caused by the war the public faith with all creditors has been preserved, and that as the result of this policy the public credit has continuously advanced and our public securities are regarded with the highest favor in the markets of the world. I trust that no act of the Government will cast a shadow upon its credit.
The progress of refunding the public debt has been rapid and satisfactory. Under the contract existing when I entered upon the discharge of the duties of my office, bonds bearing interest at the rate of 4 1/2 per cent were being rapidly sold, and within three months the aggregate sales of these bonds had reached the sum of $200,000,000. With my sanction the Secretary of the Treasury entered into a new contract for the sale of 4 per cent bonds, and within thirty days after the popular subscription for such bonds was opened subscriptions were had amounting to $75,496,550, which were paid for within ninety days after the date of subscription. By this process, within but little more than one year, the annual interest on the public debt was reduced in the sum of $3,775,000.
I recommended that suitable provision be made to enable the people to easily convert their savings into Government securities, as the best mode in which small savings may be well secured and yield a moderate interest. It is an object of public policy to retain among our own people the securities of the United States. In this way our country is guarded against their sudden return from foreign countries, caused by war or other disturbances beyond our limits.
The commerce of the United States with foreign nations, and especially the export of domestic productions, has of late years largely increased; but the greater portion of this trade is conducted in foreign vessels. The importance of enlarging our foreign trade, and especially by direct and speedy interchange with countries on this continent, can not be overestimated; and it is a matter of great moment that our own shipping interest should receive, to the utmost practical extent, the benefit of our commerce with other lands. These considerations are forcibly urged by all the large commercial cities of the country, and public attention is generally and wisely attracted to the solution of the problems they present. It is not doubted that Congress will take them up in the broadest spirit of liberality and respond to the public demand by practical legislation upon this important subject.
The report of the Secretary of War shows that the Army has been actively employed during the year, and has rendered very important service in suppressing hostilities in the Indian country and in preserving peace and protecting life and property in the interior as well as along the Mexican border. A long and arduous campaign has been prosecuted, with final complete success, against a portion of the Nez Perce tribe of Indians. A full account of this campaign will be found in the report of the General of the Army. It will be seen that in its course several severe battles were fought, in which a number of gallant officers and men lost their lives. I join with the Secretary of War and the General of the Army in awarding to the officers and men employed in the long and toilsome pursuit and in the final capture of these Indians the honor and praise which are so justly their due.
The very serious riots which occurred in several of the States in July last rendered necessary the employment of a considerable portion of the Army to preserve the peace and maintain order. In the States of West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Illinois these disturbances were so formidable as to defy the local and State authorities, and the National Executive was called upon, in the mode provided by the Constitution and laws, to furnish military aid. I am gratified to be able to state that the troops sent in response to these calls for aid in the suppression of domestic violence were able, by the influence of their presence in the disturbed regions, to preserve the peace and restore order without the use of force. In the discharge of this delicate and important duty both officers and men acted with great prudence and courage, and for their services deserve the thanks of the country.
Disturbances along the Rio Grande in Texas, to which I have already referred, have rendered necessary the constant employment of a military force in that vicinity. A full report of all recent military operations in that quarter has been transmitted to the House of Representatives in answer to a resolution of that body, and it will therefore not be necessary to enter into details. I regret to say that these lawless incursions into our territory by armed bands from the Mexican side of the line, for the purpose of robbery, have been of frequent occurrence, and in spite of the most vigilant efforts of the commander of our forces the marauders have generally succeeded in escaping into Mexico with their plunder. In May last I gave orders for the exercise of the utmost vigilance on the part of our troops for the suppression of these raids and the punishment of the guilty parties, as well as the recapture of property stolen by them. General Ord, commanding in Texas, was directed to invite the cooperation of the Mexican authorities in efforts to this end, and to assure them that I was anxious to avoid giving the least offense to Mexico. At the same time, he was directed to give notice of my determination to put an end to the invasion of our territory by lawless bands intent upon the plunder of our peaceful citizens, even if the effectual punishment of the outlaws should make the crossing of the border by our troops in their pursuit necessary. It is believed that this policy has had the effect to check somewhat these depredations, and that with a considerable increase of our force upon that frontier and the establishment of several additional military posts along the Rio Grande, so as more effectually to guard that extensive border, peace may be preserved and the lives and property of our citizens in Texas fully protected.
Prior to the 1st day of July last the Army was, in accordance with law, reduced to the maximum of 25,000 enlisted men, being a reduction of 2,500 below the force previously authorized. This reduction was made, as required by law, entirely from the infantry and artillery branches of the service, without any reduction of the cavalry. Under the law as it now stands it is necessary that the cavalry regiments be recruited to 100 men in each company for service on the Mexican and Indian frontiers. The necessary effect of this legislation is to reduce the infantry and artillery arms of the service below the number required for efficiency, and I concur with the Secretary of War in recommending that authority be given to recruit all companies of infantry to at least 50 men and all batteries of artillery to at least 75 men, with the power, in case of emergency, to increase the former to 100 and the latter to 122 men each.
I invite your special attention to the following recommendations of the Secretary of War:
First. That provision be made for supplying to the Army a more abundant and better supply of reading matter.
Second. That early action be taken by Congress looking to a complete revision and republication of the Army Regulations.
Third. That section 1258 of the Revised Statutes, limiting the number of officers on the retired list, be repealed.
Fourth. That the claims arising under the act of July 4, 1864, for supplies taken by the Army during the war, be taken from the offices of the Quartermaster and Commissary Generals and transferred to the Southern Claims Commission, or some other tribunal having more time and better facilities for their prompt investigation and decision than are possessed by these officers.
Fifth. That Congress provide for an annuity fund for the families of deceased soldiers, as recommended by the paymaster-General of the Army.
The report of the Secretary of the Navy shows that we have six squadrons now engaged in the protection of our foreign commerce and other duties pertaining to the naval service. The condition and operations of the Department are also shown. The total expenditures for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1877, were $16,077,974.54. There are unpaid claims against the Department chargeable to the last year, which are presented to the consideration of Congress by the report of the Secretary. The estimates for the fiscal year commencing July 1, 1878, are $16,233,234.40, exclusive of the sum of $2,314,231 submitted for new buildings, repairs, and improvements at the several navy-yards. The appropriations for the present fiscal year, commencing July 1, 1877, are $13,592,932.90. The amount drawn from the Treasury from July 1 to November 1, 1877, is $5,343,037.40, of which there is estimated to be yet available $1,029,528.30, showing the amount of actual expenditure during the first four months of the present fiscal year to have been $4,313,509.10.
The report of the Postmaster-General contains a full and clear statement of the operations and condition of the Post-Office Department. The ordinary revenues of the Department for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1877, including receipts from the money-order business and from official stamps and stamped envelopes, amounted to the sum of $27,531,585.26. The additional sum of $7,013,000 was realized from appropriations from the general Treasury for various purposes, making the receipts from all sources $34,544,885.26. The total expenditures during the fiscal year amounted to $33,486,322.44, leaving an excess of total receipts over total expenditures of $1,058,562.82, and an excess of total expenditures over ordinary receipts of $5,954,737.18. Deducting from the total receipts the sum of $63,261.84, received from international money orders of the preceding fiscal year, and deducting from the total expenditures the sum of $1,163,818.20, paid on liabilities incurred in previous fiscal years, the expenditures and receipts appertaining to the business of the last fiscal year were as follows:
Expenditures - $32,322,504.24
Receipts (ordinary, from money-order business and from official postage stamps) - 27,468,323,420 -
State of the Union Address Rutherford B. Hayes December 2, 1878
Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:
Our heartfelt gratitude is due to the Divine Being who holds in His hands the destinies of nations for the continued bestowal during the last year of countless blessings upon our country.
We are at peace with all other nations. Our public credit has greatly improved, and is perhaps now stronger than ever before. Abundant harvests have rewarded the labors of those who till the soil, our manufacturing industries are reviving, and it is believed that general prosperity, which has been so long anxiously looked for, is at last within our reach.
The enjoyment of health by our people generally has, however, been interrupted during the past season by the prevalence of a fatal pestilence (the yellow fever) in some portions of the Southern States, creating an emergency which called for prompt and extraordinary measures of relief. The disease appeared as an epidemic at New Orleans and at other places on the Lower Mississippi soon after midsummer. It was rapidly spread by fugitives from the infected cities and towns, and did not disappear until early in November. The States of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee have suffered severely. About 100,000 cases are believed to have occurred, of which about 20,000, according to intelligent estimates, proved fatal. It is impossible to estimate with any approach to accuracy the loss to the country occasioned by this epidemic It is to be reckoned by the hundred millions of dollars. The suffering and destitution that resulted excited the deepest sympathy in all parts of the Union. Physicians and nurses hastened from every quarter to the assistance of the afflicted communities. Voluntary contributions of money and supplies, in every needed form, were speedily and generously furnished. The Government was able to respond in some measure to the call for help, by providing tents, medicines, and food for the sick and destitute, the requisite directions for the purpose being given in the confident expectation that this action of the Executive would receive the sanction of Congress. About 1,800 tents, and rations of the value of about $25,000, were sent to cities and-towns which applied for them, full details of which will be furnished to Congress by the proper Department.
The fearful spread of this pestilence has awakened a very general public sentiment in favor of national sanitary administration, which shall not only control quarantine, but have the sanitary supervision of internal commerce in times of epidemics, and hold an advisory relation to the State and municipal health authorities, with power to deal with whatever endangers the public health, and which the municipal and State authorities are unable to regulate. The national quarantine act approved April 29, 1878, which was passed too late in the last session of Congress to provide the means for carrying it into practical operation during the past season, is a step in the direction here indicated. In view of the necessity for the most effective measures, by quarantine and otherwise, for the protection of our seaports and the country generally from this and other epidemics, it is recommended that Congress give to the whole subject early and careful consideration.
The permanent pacification of the country by the complete protection of all citizens in every civil and political right continues to be of paramount interest with the great body of our people. Every step in this direction is welcomed with public approval, and every interruption of steady and uniform progress to the desired consummation awakens general uneasiness and widespread condemnation. The recent Congressional elections have furnished a direct and trustworthy test of the advance thus far made in the practical establishment of the right of suffrage secured by the Constitution to the liberated race in the Southern States. All disturbing influences, real or imaginary, had been removed from all of these States.
The three constitutional amendments which conferred freedom and equality of civil and political rights upon the colored people of the South were adopted by the concurrent action of the great body of good citizens who maintained the authority of the National Government and the integrity and perpetuity of the Union at such a cost of treasure and life, as a wise and necessary embodiment in the organic law of the just results of the war. The people of the former slaveholding States accepted these results, and gave in every practicable form assurances that the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth amendments, and laws passed in pursuance thereof, should in good faith be enforced, rigidly and impartially, in letter and spirit, to the end that the humblest citizen, without distinction of race or color, should under them receive full and equal protection in person and property and in political rights and privileges. By these constitutional amendments the southern section of the Union obtained a large increase of political power in Congress and in the electoral college, and the country justly expected that elections would proceed, as to the enfranchised race, upon the same circumstances of legal and constitutional freedom and protection which obtained in all the other States of the Union. The friends of law and order looked forward to the conduct of these elections as offering to the general judgment of the country an important opportunity to measure the degree in which the right of suffrage could be exercised by the colored people and would be respected by their fellow-citizens; but a more general enjoyment of freedom of suffrage by the colored people and a more just and generous protection of that freedom by the communities of which they form a part were generally anticipated than the record of the elections discloses. In some of those States in which the colored people have been unable to make their opinions felt in the elections the result is mainly due to influences not easily measured or remedied by legal protection; but in the States of Louisiana and South Carolina at large, and in some particular Congressional districts outside of those States, the records of the elections seem to compel the conclusion that the rights of the colored voters have been overridden and their participation in the elections not permitted to be either general or free.
It will be for the Congress for which these elections were held to make such examinations into their conduct as may be appropriate to determine the validity of the claims of members to their seats. In the meanwhile it becomes the duty of the executive and judicial departments of the Government, each in its province, to inquire into and punish violations of the laws of the United States which have occurred. I can but repeat what I said in this connection in my last message, that whatever authority rests with me to this end I shall not hesitate to put forth; and I am unwilling to forego a renewed appeal to the legislatures, the courts, the executive authorities, and the people of the States where these wrongs have been perpetrated to give their assistance toward bringing to justice the offenders and preventing a repetition of the crimes. No means within my power will be spared to obtain a full and fair investigation of the alleged crimes and to secure the conviction and just punishment of the guilty.
It is to be observed that the principal appropriation made for the Department of Justice at the last session contained the following clause: And for defraying the expenses which may be incurred in the enforcement of the act approved February 28, 1871, entitled "An act to amend an act approved May 31, 1870, entitled 'An act to enforce the rights of citizens of the United States to vote in the several States of this Union, and for other purposes,'" or any acts amendatory thereof or supplementary thereto. It is the opinion of the Attorney-General that the expenses of these proceedings will largely exceed the amount which was thus provided, and I rely confidently upon Congress to make adequate appropriations to enable the executive department to enforce the laws.
I respectfully urge upon your attention that the Congressional elections, in every district, in a very important sense, are justly a matter of political interest and concern throughout the whole country. Each State, every political party, is entitled to the share of power which is conferred by the legal and constitutional suffrage. It is the right of every citizen possessing the qualifications prescribed by law to east one unintimidated ballot and to have his ballot honestly counted. So long as the exercise of this power and the enjoyment of this right are common and equal, practically as well as formally, submission to the results of the suffrage will be accorded loyally and cheerfully, and all the departments of Government will feel the true vigor of the popular will thus expressed. No temporary or administrative interests of Government, however urgent or weighty, will ever displace the zeal of our people in defense of the primary rights of citizenship. They understand that the protection of liberty requires the maintenance in full vigor of the manly methods of free speech, free press, and free suffrage, and will sustain the full authority of Government to enforce the laws which are framed to preserve these inestimable rights. The material progress and welfare of the States depend on the protection afforded to their citizens. There can be no peace without such protection, no prosperity without peace, and the whole country is deeply interested in the growth and prosperity of all its parts.
While the country has not yet reached complete unity of feeling and reciprocal confidence between the communities so lately and so seriously estranged, I feel an absolute assurance that the tendencies are in that direction, and with increasing force. The power of public opinion will override all political prejudices and all sectional or State attachments in demanding that all over our wide territory the name and character of citizen of the United States shall mean one and the same thing and carry with them unchallenged security and respect.
Our relations with other countries continue peaceful. Our neutrality in contests between foreign powers has been maintained and respected.
The Universal Exposition held at Paris during the past summer has been attended by large numbers of our citizens. The brief period allowed for the preparation and arrangement of the contributions of our citizens to this great exposition was well employed in energetic and judicious efforts to overcome this disadvantage. These efforts, led and directed by the commissioner-general, were remarkably successful, and the exhibition of the products of American industry was creditable and gratifying in scope and character. The reports of the United States commissioners, giving its results in detail, will be duly laid before you. Our participation in this international competition for the favor and the trade of the world may be expected to produce useful and important results—in promoting intercourse, friendship, and commerce with other nations.
In accordance with the provisions of the act of February 28, 1878, three commissioners were appointed to an international conference on the subject of adopting a common ratio between gold and silver, for the purpose of establishing internationally the use of bimetallic money and securing fixity of relative value between those metals.
Invitations were addressed to the various governments which had expressed a willingness to participate in its deliberations. The conference held its meetings in Paris in August last. The report of the commissioners, herewith submitted, will show its results. No common ratio between gold and silver could be agreed upon by the conference. The general conclusion was reached that it is necessary to maintain in the world the monetary functions of silver as well as of gold, leaving the selection of the use of one or the other of these two metals, or of both, to be made by each state.
Congress having appropriated at its last session the sum of $5,500,000 to pay the award of the joint commission at Halifax, if, after correspondence with the British Government on the subject of the conformity of the award to the requirements of the treaty and to the terms of the question thereby submitted to the commission, the President shall deem it his duty to make the payment, communications upon these points were addressed to the British Government through the legation of the United States at London. Failing to obtain the concurrence of the British Government in the views of this Government respecting the award, I have deemed it my duty to tender the sum named within the year fixed by the treaty, accompanied by a notice of the grounds of the payment and a protest against any other construction of the same. The correspondence upon this subject will be laid before you.
The Spanish Government has officially announced the termination of the insurrection in Cuba and the restoration of peace throughout that island. Confident expectations are expressed of a revival of trade and prosperity, which it is earnestly hoped may prove well rounded. Numerous claims of American citizens for relief for injuries or restoration of property have been among the incidents of the long-continued hostilities. Some of these claims are in process of adjustment by Spain, and the others are promised early and careful consideration.
The treaty made with Italy in regard to reciprocal consular privileges has been duly ratified and proclaimed.
No questions of grave importance have arisen with any other of the European powers.
The Japanese Government has been desirous of a revision of such parts of its treaties with foreign powers as relate to commerce, and it is understood has addressed to each of the treaty powers a request to open negotiations with that view. The United States Government has been inclined to regard the matter favorably. Whatever restrictions upon trade with Japan are found injurious to that people can not but affect injuriously nations holding commercial intercourse with them. Japan, after a long period of seclusion, has within the past few years made rapid strides in the path of enlightenment and progress, and, not unreasonably, is looking forward to the time when her relations with the nations of Europe and America shall be assimilated to those which they hold with each other. A treaty looking to this end has been made, which will be submitted for the consideration of the Senate.
After an interval of several years the Chinese Government has again sent envoys to the United States. They have been received, and a permanent legation is now established here by that Government. It is not doubted that this step will be of advantage to both nations in promoting friendly relations and removing causes of difference.
The treaty with the Samoan Islands, having been duly ratified and accepted on the part of both Governments, is now in operation, and a survey and soundings of the harbor of Pago-Pago have been made by a naval vessel of the United States, with a view of its occupation as a naval station if found desirable to the service.
Since the resumption of diplomatic relations with Mexico correspondence has been opened and still continues between the two Governments upon the various questions which at one time seemed to endanger their relations. While no formal agreement has been reached as to the troubles on the border, much has been done to repress and diminish them. The effective force of United States troops on the Rio Grande, by a strict and faithful compliance with instructions, has done much to remove the sources of dispute, and it is now understood that a like force of Mexican troops on the other side of the river is also making an energetic movement against the marauding Indian tribes. This Government looks with the greatest satisfaction upon every evidence of strength in the national authority of Mexico, and upon every effort put forth to prevent or to punish incursions upon our territory. Reluctant to assume any action or attitude in the control of these incursions by military movements across the border not imperatively demanded for the protection of the lives and property of our own citizens, I shall take the earliest opportunity consistent with the proper discharge of this plain duty to recognize the ability of the Mexican Government to restrain effectively violations of our territory. It is proposed to hold next year an international exhibition in Mexico, and it is believed that the display of the agricultural and manufacturing products of the two nations will tend to better understanding and increased commercial intercourse between their people.
With Brazil and the Republics of Central and South America some steps have been taken toward the development of closer commercial intercourse. Diplomatic relations have been resumed with Colombia and with Bolivia. A boundary question between the Argentine Republic and Paraguay has been submitted by those Governments for arbitration to the President of the United States, and I have, after careful examination, given a decision upon it.
A naval expedition up the Amazon and Madeira rivers has brought back information valuable both for scientific and commercial purposes. A like expedition is about visiting the coast of Africa and the Indian Ocean. The reports of diplomatic and consular officers in relation to the development of our foreign commerce have furnished many facts that have proved of public interest and have stimulated to practical exertion the enterprise of our people.
The report of the Secretary of the Treasury furnishes a detailed statement of the operations of that Department of the Government and of the condition of the public finances.
The ordinary revenues from all sources for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1878, were $257,763,878.70; the ordinary expenditures for the same period were $236,964,326.80, leaving a surplus revenue for the year of $20,799,551.90. The receipts for the present fiscal year, ending June 30, 1879, actual and estimated, are as follows: Actual receipts for the first quarter, commencing July 1, 1878, $73,389,743.43; estimated receipts for the remaining three quarters of the year, $191,110,256.57; total receipts for the current fiscal year, actual and estimated, $264,500,000. The expenditures for the same period will be, actual and estimated, as follows: For the quarter commencing July 1, 1878, actual expenditures, $73,344,573.27; and for the remaining three quarters of the year the expenditures are estimated at $166,755,426.73, making the total expenditures $240,100,000, and leaving an estimated surplus revenue for the year ending June 30, 1879, of $24,400,000. The total receipts during the next fiscal year, ending June 30, 1880, estimated according to existing laws, will be $264,500,000, and the estimated ordinary expenditures for the same period will be $236,320,412.68, leaving a surplus of $28,179,587.32 for that year.
In the foregoing statements of expenditures, actual and estimated, no amount is allowed for the sinking fund provided for by the act approved February 25, 1862, which requires that 1 per cent of the entire debt of the United States shall be purchased or paid within each fiscal year, to be set apart as a sinking fund. There has been, however, a substantial compliance with the conditions of the law. By its terms the public debt should have been reduced between 1862 and the close of the last fiscal year $518,361,806.28; the actual reduction of the ascertained debt in that period has been $720,644,739.61, being in excess of the reduction required by the sinking fund act $202,282,933.33.
The amount of the public debt, less cash in the Treasury, November 1, 1878, was $2,024,200,083.18 a reduction since the same date last year of $23,150,617.39.
The progress made during the last year in refunding the public debt at lower rates of interest is very gratifying. The amount of 4 per cent bonds sold during the present year prior to November 23, 1878, is $100,270,900, and 6 per cent bonds, commonly known as five-twenties, to an equal amount, have been or will be redeemed as calls mature.
It has been the policy of the Department to place the 4 per cent bonds within easy reach of every citizen who desires to invest his savings, whether small or great, in these securities. The Secretary of the Treasury recommends that the law be so modified that small sums may be invested, and that through the post-offices or other agents of the Government the freest opportunity may be given in all parts of the country for such investments.
The best mode suggested is that the Department be authorized to issue certificates of deposit, of the denomination of $10, bearing interest at the rate of 3.65 per cent per annum and convertible at any time within one year after their issue into the 4 per cent bonds authorized by the refunding act, and to be issued only in exchange for United States notes sent to the Treasury by mail or otherwise. Such a provision of law, supported by suitable regulations, would enable any person readily, without cost or risk, to convert his money into an interest-bearing security of the United States, and the money so received could be applied to the redemption of 6 per cent bonds.
The coinage of gold during the last fiscal year was $52,798,980. The coinage of silver dollars under the act passed February 28, 1878, amounted on the 23d of November, 1878, to $19,814,550, of which amount $4,984,947 are in circulation, and the balance, $14,829,603, is still in the possession of the Government.
With views unchanged with regard to the act under which the coinage of silver proceeds, it has been the purpose of the Secretary faithfully to execute the law and to afford a fair trial to the measure.
In the present financial condition of the country I am persuaded that the welfare of legitimate business and industry of every description will be best promoted by abstaining from all attempts to make radical changes in the existing financial legislation. Let it be understood that during the coming year the business of the country will be undisturbed by governmental interference with the laws affecting it, and we may confidently expect that the resumption of specie payments, which will take place at the appointed time, will be successfully and easily maintained, and that it will be followed by a healthful and enduring revival of business prosperity.
Let the healing influence of time, the inherent energies of our people, and the boundless resources of our country have a fair opportunity, and relief from present difficulties will surely follow.
The report of the Secretary of War shows that the Army has been well and economically supplied; that our small force has been actively employed and has faithfully performed all the service required of it. The morale of the Army has improved and the number of desertions has materially decreased during the year.
The Secretary recommends—
1. That a pension be granted to the widow of the late Lieutenant Henry H. Benner, Eighteenth Infantry, who lost his life by yellow fever while in command of the steamer. J.M. Chambers, sent with supplies for the relief of sufferers in the South from that disease.
2. The establishment of the annuity scheme for the benefit of the heirs of deceased officers, as suggested by the Paymaster-General.
3. The adoption by Congress of a plan for the publication of the records of the War of the Rebellion, now being prepared for that purpose.
4. The increase of the extra per diem of soldier teachers employed in post schools, and liberal appropriations for the erection of buildings for schools and libraries at the different posts.
5. The repeal or amendment of the act of June 18, 1878, forbidding the use of the Army "as a posse comitatus, or otherwise, for the purpose of executing the laws, except in such cases and under such circumstances as such employment of said force may be expressly authorized by the Constitution or by act of Congress."
6. The passage of a joint resolution of Congress legalizing the issues of rations, tents, and medicines which were made for the relief of sufferers from yellow fever.
7. That provision be made for the erection of a fireproof building for the preservation of certain valuable records, now constantly exposed to destruction by fire.
These recommendations are all commended to your favorable consideration.
The report of the Secretary of the Navy shows that the Navy has improved during the last fiscal year. Work has been done on seventy-five vessels, ten of which have been thoroughly repaired and made ready for sea. Two others are in rapid progress toward completion. The total expenditures of the year, including the amount appropriated for the deficiencies of the previous year, were $17,468,392.65. The actual expenses chargeable to the year, exclusive of these deficiencies, were $13,306,914.09, or $767,199.18 less than those of the previous year, and $4,928,677.74 less than the expenses including the deficiencies. The estimates for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1880, are $14,562,381.45, exceeding the appropriations of the present year only $33,949.75, which excess is occasioned by the demands of the Naval Academy and the Marine Corps, as explained in the Secretary's report. The appropriations for the present fiscal year are $14,528,431.70, which, in the opinion of the Secretary, will be ample for all the current expenses of the Department during the year. The amount drawn from the Treasury from July 1 to November 1, 1878, is $4,740,544.14, of which $70,980.75 has been refunded, leaving as the expenditure for that period $4,669,563.39, or $520,899.24 less than the corresponding period of the last fiscal year.
The report of the Postmaster-General embraces a detailed statement of the operations of the Post-Office Department. The expenditures of that Department for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1878, were $34,165,084.49. The receipts, including sales of stamps, money-order business, and official stamps, were $29,277,516.95. The sum of $290,436.90, included in the foregoing statement of expenditures, is chargeable to preceding years, so that the actual expenditures for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1878, are $33,874,647.59. The amount drawn from the Treasury on appropriations, in addition to the revenues of the Department, was $5,307,652.82. The expenditures for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1880, are estimated at $36,571,900 and the receipts from all sources at $30,664,023.90, leaving a deficiency to be appropriated out of the Treasury of $5,907,876.10. The report calls attention to the fact that the compensation of postmasters and of railroads for carrying the mail is regulated by law, and that the failure of Congress to appropriate the amounts required for these purposes does not relieve the Government of responsibility, but necessarily increases the deficiency bills which Congress will be called upon to pass.
In providing for the postal service the following questions are presented: Should Congress annually appropriate a sum for its expenses largely in excess of its revenues, or should such rates of postage be established as will make the Department self-sustaining? Should the postal service be reduced by excluding from the mails matter which does not pay its way? Should the number of post routes be diminished? Should other methods be adopted which will increase the revenues or diminish the expenses of the postal service?
The International Postal Congress which met at Paris May 1, 1878, and continued in session until June 4 of the same year, was composed of delegates from nearly all the civilized countries of the world. It adopted a new convention (to take the place of the treaty concluded at Berne October 9, 1874), which goes into effect on the 1st of April, 1879, between the countries whose delegates have signed it. It was ratified and approved, by and with the consent of the President, August 13, 1878. A synopsis of this Universal Postal Convention will be found in the report of the Postmaster-General, and the full text in the appendix thereto. In its origin the Postal Union comprised twenty-three countries, having a population of 350,000,000 people. On the 1st of April next it will comprise forty-three countries and colonies, with a population of more than 650,000,000 people, and will soon, by the accession of the few remaining countries and colonies which maintain organized postal services, constitute in fact as well as in name, as its new title indicates, a universal union, regulating, upon a uniform basis of cheap postage rates, the postal intercourse between all civilized nations.
Some embarrassment has arisen out of the conflict between the customs laws of this country and the provisions of the Postal Convention in regard to the transmission of foreign books and newspapers to this country by mail. It is hoped that Congress will be able to devise some means of reconciling the difficulties which have thus been created, so as to do justice to all parties involved.
The business of the Supreme Court and of the courts in many of the circuits has increased to such an extent during the past year that additional legislation is imperative to relieve and prevent the delay of justice and possible oppression to suitors which is thus occasioned. The encumbered condition of these dockets is presented anew in the report of the Attorney-General, and the remedy suggested is earnestly urged for Congressional action. The creation of additional circuit judges, as proposed, would afford a complete remedy, and would involve an expense, at the present rate of salaries of not more than $60,000 a year.
The annual reports of the Secretary of the Interior and of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs present an elaborate account of the present condition of the Indian tribes and of that branch of the public service which ministers to their interests. While the conduct of the Indians generally has been orderly and their relations with their neighbors friendly and peaceable, two local disturbances have occurred, which were deplorable in their character, but remained, happily, confined to a comparatively small number of Indians. The discontent among the Bannocks, which led first to some acts of violence on the part of some members of the tribe and finally to the outbreak, appears to have been caused by an insufficiency of food on the reservation, and this insufficiency to have been owing to the inadequacy of the appropriations made by Congress to the wants of the Indians at a time when the Indians were prevented from supplying the deficiency by hunting. After an arduous pursuit by the troops of the United States, and several engagements, the hostile Indians were reduced to subjection, and the larger part of them surrendered themselves as prisoners. In this connection I desire to call attention to the recommendation made by the Secretary of the Interior, that a sufficient fund be placed at the disposal of the Executive, to be used, with proper accountability, at discretion, in sudden emergencies of the Indian service.
The other case of disturbance was that of a band of Northern Cheyennes, who suddenly left their reservation in the Indian Territory and marched rapidly through the States of Kansas and Nebraska in the direction of their old hunting grounds, committing murders and other crimes on their way. From documents accompanying the report of the Secretary of the Interior it appears that this disorderly band was as fully supplied with the necessaries of life as the 4,700 other Indians who remained quietly on the reservation, and that the disturbance was caused by men of a restless and mischievous disposition among the Indians themselves. Almost the whole of this band have surrendered to the military authorities; and it is a gratifying fact that when some of them had taken refuge in the camp of the Red Cloud Sioux, with whom they had been in friendly relations, the Sioux held them as prisoners and readily gave them up to the officers of the United States, thus giving new proof of the loyal spirit which, alarming rumors to the contrary notwithstanding, they have uniformly shown ever since the wishes they expressed at the council of September, 1877, had been complied with.
Both the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of War unite in the recommendation that provision be made by Congress for the organization of a corps of mounted "Indian auxiliaries," to be under the control of the Army and to be used for the purpose of keeping the Indians on their reservations and preventing or repressing disturbance on their part. I earnestly concur in this recommendation. It is believed that the organization of such a body of Indian cavalry, receiving a moderate pay from the Government, would considerably weaken the restless element among the Indians by withdrawing from it a number of young men and giving them congenial employment under the Government, it being a matter of experience that Indians in our service almost without exception are faithful in the performance of the duties assigned to them. Such an organization would materially aid the Army in the accomplishment of a task for which its numerical strength is sometimes found insufficient.
But while the employment of force for the prevention or repression of Indian troubles is of occasional necessity, and wise preparation should be made to that end, greater reliance must be placed on humane and civilizing agencies for the ultimate solution of what is called the Indian problem. It may be very difficult and require much patient effort to curb the unruly spirit of the savage Indian to the restraints of civilized life, but experience shows that it is not impossible. Many of the tribes which are now quiet and orderly and self-supporting were once as savage as any that at present roam over the plains or in the mountains of the far West, and were then considered inaccessible to civilizing influences. It may be impossible to raise them fully up to the level of the white population of the United States; but we should not forget that they are the aborigines of the country, and called the soil their own on which our people have grown rich, powerful, and happy. We owe it to them as a moral duty to help them in attaining at least that degree of civilization which they may be able to reach. It is not only our duty, it is also our interest to do so. Indians who have become agriculturists or herdsmen, and feel an interest in property, will thenceforth cease to be a warlike and disturbing element. It is also a well-authenticated fact that Indians are apt to be peaceable and quiet when their children are at school, and I am gratified to know, from the expressions of Indians themselves and from many concurring reports, that there is a steadily increasing desire, even among Indians belonging to comparatively wild tribes, to have their children educated. I invite attention to the reports of the Secretary of the Interior and the Commissioner of Indian Affairs touching the experiment recently inaugurated, in taking fifty Indian children, boys and girls, from different tribes, to the Hampton Normal Agricultural Institute in Virginia, where they are to receive an elementary English education and training in agriculture and other useful works, to be returned to their tribes, after the completed course, as interpreters, instructors, and examples. It is reported that the officer charged with the selection of those children might have had thousands of young Indians sent with him had it been possible to make provision for them. I agree with the Secretary of the Interior in saying that "the result of this interesting experiment, if favorable, may be destined to become an important factor in the advancement of civilization among the Indians."
The question whether a change in the control of the Indian service should be made was at the last session of Congress referred to a committee for inquiry and report. Without desiring to anticipate that report, I venture to express the hope that in the decision of so important a question the views expressed above may not be lost sight of, and that the decision, whatever it may be, will arrest further agitation of this subject, such agitation being apt to produce a disturbing effect upon the service, as well as on the Indians themselves.
In the enrollment of the bill making appropriations for sundry civil expenses, at the last session of Congress, that portion which provided for the continuation of the Hot Springs Commission was omitted. As the commission had completed the work of taking testimony on the many conflicting claims, the suspension of their labors, before determining the rights of claimants, threatened for a time to embarrass the interests, not only of the Government, but also of a large number of the citizens of Hot Springs, who were waiting for final action on their claims before beginning contemplated improvements. In order to prevent serious difficulties, which were apprehended, and at the solicitation of many leading citizens of Hot Springs and others interested in the welfare of the town, the Secretary of the Interior was authorized to request the late commissioners to take charge of the records of their proceedings and to perform such work as could properly be done by them under such circumstances to facilitate the future adjudication of the claims at an early day and to preserve the status of the claimants until their rights should be finally determined. The late commissioners complied with that request, and report that the testimony in all the cases has been written out, examined, briefed, and so arranged as to facilitate an early settlement when authorized by law. It is recommended that the requisite authority be given at as early a day in the session as possible, and that a fair compensation be allowed the late commissioners for the expense incurred and the labor performed by them since the 25th of June last.
I invite the attention of Congress to the recommendations made by the Secretary of the Interior with regard to the preservation of the timber on the public lands of the United States. The protection of the public property is one of the first duties of the Government. The Department of the Interior should therefore be enabled by sufficient appropriations to enforce the laws in that respect. But this matter appears still more important as a question of public economy. The rapid destruction of our forests is an evil fraught with the gravest consequences, especially in the mountainous districts, where the rocky slopes, once denuded of their trees, will remain so forever. There the injury, once done, can not be repaired. I fully concur with the Secretary of the Interior in the opinion that for this reason legislation touching the public timber in the mountainous States and Territories of the West should be especially well considered, and that existing laws in which the destruction of the forests is not sufficiently guarded against should be speedily modified. A general law concerning this important subject appears to me to be a matter of urgent public necessity.
From the organization of the Government the importance of encouraging by all possible means the increase of our agricultural productions has been acknowledged and urged upon the attention of Congress and the people as the surest and readiest means of increasing our substantial and enduring prosperity.
The words of Washington are as applicable to-day as when, in his eighth annual message, he said: It will not be doubted that, with reference either to individual or national welfare, agriculture is of primary importance. In proportion as nations advance in population and other circumstances of maturity this truth becomes more apparent, and renders the cultivation of the soil more and more an object of public patronage. Institutions for promoting it grow up, supported by the public purse; and to what object can it be dedicated with greater propriety? Among the means which have been employed to this end none have been attended with greater success than the establishment of boards (composed of proper characters) charged with collecting and diffusing information, and enabled by premiums and small pecuniary aids to encourage and assist a spirit of discovery and improvement. This species of establishment contributes doubly to the increase of improvement, by stimulating to enterprise and experiment, and by drawing to a common center the results everywhere of individual skill and observation and spreading them thence over the whole nation. Experience accordingly hath shewn that they are very cheap instruments of immense national benefits. The preponderance of the agricultural over any other interest in the United States entitles it to all the consideration claimed for it by Washington. About one-half of the population of the United States is engaged in agriculture. The value of the agricultural products of the United States for the year 1878 is estimated at $3,000,000,000. The exports of agricultural products for the year 1877, as appears from the report of the Bureau of Statistics, were $524,000,000. The great extent of our country, with its diversity of soil and climate, enables us to produce within our own borders and by our own labor not only the necessaries, but most of the luxuries, that are consumed in civilized countries. Yet, notwithstanding our advantages of soil, climate, and inter-communication, it appears from the statistical statements in the report of the Commissioner of Agriculture that we import annually from foreign lands many millions of dollars worth of agricultural products which could be raised in our own country.
Numerous questions arise in the practice of advanced agriculture which can only be answered by experiments, often costly and sometimes fruitless, which are beyond the means of private individuals and are a just and proper charge on the whole nation for the benefit of the nation. It is good policy, especially in times of depression and uncertainty in other business pursuits, with a vast area of uncultivated, and hence unproductive, territory, wisely opened to homestead settlement, to encourage by every proper and legitimate means the occupation and tillage of the soil. The efforts of the Department of Agriculture to stimulate old and introduce new agricultural industries, to improve the quality and increase the quantity of our products, to determine the value of old or establish the importance of new methods of culture, are worthy of your careful and favorable consideration, and assistance by such appropriations of money and enlargement of facilities as may seem to be demanded by the present favorable conditions for the growth and rapid development of this important interest.
The abuse of animals in transit is widely attracting public attention. A national convention of societies specially interested in the subject has recently met at Baltimore, and the facts developed, both in regard to cruelties to animals and the effect of such cruelties upon the public health, would seem to demand the careful consideration of Congress and the enactment of more efficient laws for the prevention of these abuses.
The report of the Commissioner of the Bureau of Education shows very gratifying progress throughout the country in all the interests committed to the care of this important office. The report is especially encouraging with respect to the extension of the advantages of the common-school system in sections of the country where the general enjoyment of the privilege of free schools is not yet attained.
To education more than to any other agency we are to look as the resource for the advancement of the people in the requisite knowledge and appreciation of their rights and responsibilities as citizens, and I desire to repeat the suggestion contained in my former message in behalf of the enactment of appropriate measures by Congress for the purpose of supplementing with national aid the local systems of education in the several States.
Adequate accommodations for the great library, which is overgrowing the capacity of the rooms now occupied at the Capitol, should be provided without further delay. This invaluable collection of books, manuscripts, and illustrative art has grown to such proportions, in connection with the copyright system of the country, as to demand the prompt and careful attention of Congress to save it from injury in its present crowded and insufficient quarters. As this library is national in its character, and must from the nature of the case increase even more rapidly in the future than in the past, it can not be doubted that the people will sanction any wise expenditure to preserve it and to enlarge its usefulness.
The appeal of the Regents of the Smithsonian Institution for the means to organize, exhibit, and make available for the public benefit the articles now stored away belonging to the National Museum I heartily recommend to your favorable consideration.
The attention of Congress is again invited to the condition of the river front of the city of Washington. It is a matter of vital importance to the health of the residents of the national capital, both temporary and permanent, that the lowlands in front of the city, now subject to tidal overflow, should be reclaimed. In their present condition these flats obstruct the drainage of the city and are a dangerous source of malarial poison. The reclamation will improve the navigation of the river by restricting, and consequently deepening, its channel, and is also of importance when considered in connection with the extension of the public ground and the enlargement of the park west and south of the Washington Monument. The report of the board of survey, heretofore ordered by act of Congress, on the improvement of the harbor of Washington and Georgetown, is respectfully commended to consideration.
The report of the Commissioners of the District of Columbia presents a detailed statement of the affairs of the District.
The relative expenditures by the United States and the District for local purposes is contrasted, showing that the expenditures by the people of the District greatly exceed those of the General Government. The exhibit is made in connection with estimates for the requisite repair of the defective pavements and sewers of the city, which is a work of immediate necessity; and in the same connection a plan is presented for the permanent funding of the outstanding securities of the District.
The benevolent, reformatory, and penal institutions of the District are all entitled to the favorable attention of Congress. The Reform School needs additional buildings and teachers. Appropriations which will place all of these institutions in a condition to become models of usefulness and beneficence will be regarded by the country as liberality wisely bestowed.
The Commissioners, with evident justice, request attention to the discrimination made by Congress against the District in the donation of land for the support of the public schools, and ask that the same liberality that has been shown to the inhabitants of the various States and Territories of the United States may be extended to the District of Columbia.
The Commissioners also invite attention to the damage inflicted upon public and private interests by the present location of the depots and switching tracks of the several railroads entering the city, and ask for legislation looking to their removal. The recommendations and suggestions contained in the report will, I trust, receive the careful consideration of Congress.
Sufficient time has, perhaps, not elapsed since the reorganization of the government of the District under the recent legislation of Congress for the expression of a confident opinion as to its successful operation, but the practical results already attained are so satisfactory that the friends of the new government may well urge upon Congress the wisdom of its continuance, without essential modification, until by actual experience its advantages and defects may be more fully ascertained.
R. B. HAYES
State of the Union Address Rutherford B. Hayes December 1, 1879
Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:
The members of the Forty-sixth Congress have assembled in their first regular session under circumstances calling for mutual congratulation and grateful acknowledgment to the Giver of All Good for the large and unusual measure of national prosperity which we now enjoy.
The most interesting events which have occurred in our public affairs since my last annual message to Congress are connected with the financial operations of the Government, directly affecting the business interests of the country. I congratulate Congress on the successful execution of the resumption act. At the time fixed, and in the manner contemplated by law, United States notes began to be redeemed in coin. Since the 1st of January last they have been promptly redeemed on presentation, and in all business transactions, public and private, in all parts of the country, they are received and paid out as the equivalent of coin. The demand upon the Treasury for gold and silver in exchange for United States notes has been comparatively small, and the voluntary deposit of coin and bullion in exchange for notes has been very large. The excess of the precious metals deposited or exchanged for United States notes over the amount of United States notes redeemed is about $40,000,000.