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Report of committee of foreign relations relative to
intercourse with British West Indies, &c. Feb.
- - - - 439
AMERICAN STATE PAPERS.
MESSAGE OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, TO BOTH
HOUSES OF CONGRESS. DEC. 3, 1815.
Fellow Citizens of the Senate,
and of the House of Representatives, I Have the satisfaction, on our present meeting, of being able to communicate to you the successful termination of the war which had been commenced against the United States by the regency of Algiers. The squadron in ad. vance on that service, under commodore Decatur, lost not a moment after its arrival in the Mediterranean, in seeking the naval force of the enemy then cruising in that sea, and succeeded in capturing two of his ships, one of them the principal ship, commanded by the Algerine admiral. The high character of the American commander was brilliantly sustained on the occasion, which brought his own ship into close action with that of his adversary, as was the accustomed gallantry of all the officers and men actually en. gaged. Having prepared the way by this demonstration of American skill and prowess, he bastened to the port of Algiers, where peace was promptly yielded to his victorious force. In the terms stipulated, the rights and honour of the United States were particularly consulted, by a perpetual relinquishment, on the part of the dey, of all pretensions to tribute from them. The impressions which have thus been made, strengthened as they will have been, by subsequent transactions with the regencies of Tunis and of Tripoli, by the appearance of the larger force which followed under commodore Bainbridge, the chief in command of the expedition, and by the judicious precautionary arrangements left by him in that quarter, afford a reasonable prospect of future security, for the valuable portion of our commerce which passes within reach of the Barbary cruisers.
It is another source of satisfaction that the treaty of peace with Great Britain has been succeeded by a con
vention on the subject of commerce, concluded by the plenipotentiaries of the two countries. In this result a Jisposition is manifested on the part of that nation, corresponding with the disposition of the United States, which, it may be hoped, will be improved into liberal arrangements on other subjects, on which the parties have mutual interests, or which might endanger their future harmony. Congress will decide on the expediency of promoting such a sequel, by giving effect to the measure of confining the American navigation to American seamen; a measure which, at the same time that it might have that conciliatory tendency, would have the further advantage of increasing the independence of our navigation, and the resources for our maritime defence.
In conformity with the articles in the treaty of Ghent, relating to the Indians, as well as with a view to the tranquillity of our western and north-western frontiers, mea. sures were taken to establish an immediate peace with the several tribes who had been engaged in hostilities against the United States. Such of them as were invited to Detroit acceded readily to a renewal of the former treaties of friendship. Of the other tribes who were invited to a station on the Mississippi, the greater number have also accepted the peace offered to them. The residue, consisting of the more distant tribes or parts of tribes, remain to be brought over by further explanations, or by such other means as may be adapted to the dispositions they may finally disclose.
The Indian tribes within, and bordering on the southern frontier, whom a cruel war on their part had compelled us to chastise into peace, have latterly shown a restlessness, which has called for preparatory measures for repressing it, and for protecting the commissioners engaged in carrying the terms of the peace into execution.
The execution of the act for fixing the military peace establishment, has been attended with difficulties which even now can only be overcome by legislative aid. The selection of oflicers; the payment and discharge of the troops enlisted for the war; the payment of the retained troops, and their re-union from detached and distant stations; the collection and security of the publick property in the quarter-master, commissary, and ordnance departments; and the constant medical assistance required in
hospitals and garrisons, rendered a complete execution of the act impracticable on the first of May, the period more immediately contemplated. As soon, however, as circumstances would permit, and as far as it has been practicable, consistently with the publick interests, the reduction of the army has been accomplished; but the appropriations for its pay and for other branches of the military service, hav. ing proved inadequate, the earliest attention to that subject will be necessary; and the expediency of continuing upon the peace establishment, the staff officers who have hither. to been provisionally retained, is also recommended to the consideration of Congress.
In the performance of the executive duty upon this occasion, there has not been wanting a just sensibility to the merits of the American army during the late war: but the obvious policy and design in fixing an efficient military peace establishment did not afford an opportunity to distinguish the aged and infirm, on account of their past services ; nor the wounded and disabled, on account of their present sufferings. The extent of the reduction indeed unavoidably involved the exclusion of many meritorious officers of every rank from the service of their country; and so equal, as well as so numerous, were the claims to attention, that a decision by the standard of comparative merit, could seldom be attained. Judged, however, in candour, by a general standard of positive merit, the army register will, it is believed, do honour to the establishment; while the case of those officers, whose names are not included in it, devolves, with the strongest interest, upon the legislative authority, for such provision as shall be deemed the best calculated to give support and solace to the veteran and the invalid ; to display the beneficence, as well as the justice, of the government; and to inspire a martial zeal for the publick service upon every future émergency.
Although the embarrassments arising from the want of an uniform national currency. have not been diminished since the adjournment of Congress, great satisfaction has been derived in contemplating the revival of the publick credit, and the efficiency of the publick resources. The receipts into the Treasury, from the various branches of revenue, during the nine months ending on the 30th of September last, have been estimated at twelve millions