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preserve peace, and to restore that harmony and affection, which have heretofore so happily subsisted between our two nations; and with you I cherish the pleasing hope, that a mutual spirit of justice and moderation will crown those endeavours with success.
I shall cheerfully concur in the beneficial measures, which your deliberations shall mature on the various subjects demanding your attention. And while, directing your labors to advance the real interests of our country, you receive its blessings; with perfect sincerity, my individual wishes will be offered for your present and future felicity.
MESSAGES TO CONGRESS.
TO BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS; RELATIVE TO
The business, which has been under the consideration of Congress, has been of so much importance, that I was unwilling to draw their attention from it to any other subject; but the disputes, which exist between some of the United States and several powerful tribes of Indians within the limits of the Union, and the hostilities which have in several instances been committed on the frontiers, seem to require the immediate interposition of the general government.
I have therefore directed the several statements and papers, which have been submitted to me on this subject by General Knox, to be laid before you for your information. While the measures of government ought to be calculated to protect its citizens from all injury and violence, a due regard should be extended to those Indian tribes, whose happiness, in the course of events, so materially depends on the national justice and humanity of the United States.
If it should be the judgment of Congress, that it would be most expedient to terminate all differences in the southern district, and to lay the foundation for
future confidence, by an amicable treaty with the Indian tribes in that quarter, I think proper to suggest the consideration of the expediency of instituting a temporary commission for that purpose, to consist of three persons, whose authority should expire with the occasion. How far such a measure, unassisted by posts, would be competent to the establishment and preservation of peace and tranquillity on the frontiers, is also a matter which merits your serious consideration.
Along with this object, I am induced to suggest another, with the national importance and necessity of which I am deeply impressed; I mean some uniform and effective system for the militia of the United States. It is unnecessary to offer arguments in recommendation of a measure, on which the honor, safety, and well-being of our country so evidently and so essentially depend. But it may not be amiss to observe, that I am particularly anxious it should receive as early attention as circumstances will admit; because it is now in our power to avail ourselves of the military knowledge disseminated throughout the several States by means of the many well-instructed officers and soldiers of the late army, a resource which is daily diminishing by deaths and other causes. To suffer this peculiar advantage to pass away unimproved, would be to neglect an opportunity which will never again occur, unless unfortunately we should again be involved in a long and arduous war.
SEPTEMBER 17TH, 1789.
It doubtless is important that all treaties and compacts formed by the United States with other nations, whether civilized or not, should be made with caution, and executed with fidelity.
It is said to be the general understanding and practice of nations, as a check on the mistakes and indiscretions of ministers or commissioners, not to consider any treaty, negotiated and signed by such officers, as final and conclusive, until ratified by the sovereign or government from whom they derive their powers. This practice has been adopted by the United States respecting their treaties with European nations, and I am inclined to think it would be advisable to observe it in the conduct of our treaties with the Indians; for, though such treaties, being, on their part, made by their chiefs or rulers, need not be ratified by them, yet, being formed on our part by the agency of subordinate officers, it seems to be both prudent and reasonable that their acts should not be binding on the nation, until approved and ratified by the government. It strikes me that this point should be well considered and settled, so that our national proceedings, in this respect, may become uniform, and be directed by fixed and stable principles.
The treaties with certain Indian nations, which were laid before you with my message of the 25th of May last, suggested two questions to my mind, namely, first, Whether those treaties were to be considered as perfected, and consequently as obligatory, without being ratified ? If not, then secondly, Whether both, or