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of purchasing a limited portion of “unoffered lands” at the minimum price. The homestead enactments relieve the settler from the payment of purchase money, and secure him a permanent home, upon the condition of residence for a term of years. This liberal policy invites emigration from the Old, and from the more crowded portions of the New World. Its propitious results are undoubted, and will be more signally manifested when time shall have given to it a wider development.
Congress has made liberal grants of public land to corporations, in aid of the construction of railroads and other internal improvements. Should this policy hereafter prevail, more stringent provisions will be required to secure a faithful application of the fund. The title to the lands should not pass, by patent or otherwise, but remain in the government and subject to its control until some portion of the road has been actually built. Portions of them might then, from time to time, be conveyed to the corporation, but never in a greater ratio to the whole quantity embraced by the grant than the completed parts bear to the entire length of the projected improvement. This restriction would not operate to the prejudice of any undertaking conceived in good faith and executed with reasonable energy, as it is the settled practice to withdraw from market the lands falling within the operation of such grants, and thus to exclude the inception of a subsequent adverse right. A breach of the conditions which Congress may deem proper to impose should work a forfeiture of claim to the lands so withdrawn but unconveyed, and of title to the lands conveyed which remain unsold.
Operations on the several lines of the Pacific railroad have been prosecuted with unexampled vigor and success. Should no unforeseen causes of delay occur, it is confidently anticipated that this great thoroughfare will be completed before the expiration of the period designated by Congress.
During the last fiscal year the amount paid to pensioners, including the expenses of disbursement, was thirteen million four hundred and fifty-nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-six dollars; and fifty thousand one hundred and seventy-seven names were added to the pension rolls. The entire number of pensioners June 30, 1866, was one hundred and twenty-six thousand seven hundred and twenty-two. This fact furnishes melancholy and striking proof of the sacrifices made to vindicate the constitutional authority of the federal government, and to maintain inviolate the integrity of the Union. They impose upon us corresponding obligations. It is estimated that thirty-three million dollars will be required to meet the exigencies of this branch of the service during the next fiscal year.
Treaties have been concluded with the Indians, who, enticed into armed opposition to our government at the outbreak of the rebellion, have unconditionally submitted to our authority, and manifested an earnest desire for a reDewal of friendly relations.
During the year ending September 30, 1866, eight thousand seven hundred and sixteen patents for useful inventions and designs were issued, and at that date the balance in the treasury to the credit of the patent fund was two hundred and twenty-eight thousand two hundred and ninety-seven dollars.
As a subject upon which depends an immense amount of the production and commerce of the country, I recommend to Congress such legislation as may be necessary for the preservation of the levees of the Mississippi river. It is a matter of national importance that early steps should be taken not only to add to the efficiency of these barriers against destructive inundations, but for the removal of all obstructions to the free and safe navigation of that great channel of trade and commerce.
The District of Columbia, under existing laws, is not entitled to that representation in the national councils which from our earliest history has been uniformly . accorded to each Territory established from time to time within our limits. St maintains peculiar relations to Congress, to whom the Constitution has granted the power of exercising exclusive legislation over the seat of government. Our fellow-citizens residing in the District, whose interests are thus confided to the special guardianship of Congress, exceed in number the population of several of our Territories, and no just reason is perceived why a delegate of their choice should not be admitted to a seat in the House of Representatives. No mode seems so appropriate and effectual of enabling them to make known their peculiar condition and wants, and of securing the local legislation adapted to them. I therefore recommend the passage of a law authorizing the electors of the District of Columbia to choose a delegate, to be allowed the same rights and privileges as a delegate representing a Territory. The increasing enterprise and rapid progress of improvement in the District are highly ratifying, and I trust that the efforts of the municipal authorities to promote the prosperity of the national metropolis will receive the efficient and generous co-operation of Congress.
The report of the Commissioner of Agriculture reviews the operations of his department during the past year, and asks the aid of Congress in its efforts to encourage those States which, scourged by war, are now earnestly engaged in the reorganization of domestic industry.
It is a subject of congratulation that no foreign combinations against our domestic peace and safety, or our legitimate influence among the nations, have been formed or attempted. While sentiments of reconciliation, loyalty, and patriotism have increased at home, a more just consideration of our national character and rights has been manifested by foreign nations.
The entire success of the Atlantic telegraph between the coast of Ireland and the province of Newfoundland is an achievement which has been justly celebrated in both hemispheres as the opening of an era in the progress of civilization. There is reason to expect that equal success will attend, and even greater results follow, the enterprise for connecting the two continents through the Pacific ocean by the projected line of telegraph between Kamschatka aud the Russian possessions in America.
The resolution of Congress protesting against pardons by foreign governments of persons convicted of infamous offences, on condition of emigration to our country, has been communicated to the states with which we maintain intercourse, and the practice, so justly the subject of complaint on our part, has not been renewed.
The congratulations of Congress to the Emperor of Russia, upon his escape fron attempted assassination, have been presented to that humane and enlightened ruler, and received by him with expressions of grateful appreciation.
The Executive, warned of an attempt by Spanish-American adventurers to induce the emigration of freedmen of the United States to a foreign country, protested against the project as one which, if consummated, would reduce them to a bondage even more oppressive than that from which they have just been relieved. Assurance has been received from the government of the state in which the plan was matured, that the proceeding will meet neither its encourageinent nor approval. It is a question worthy of your consideration, whether our laws upon this subject are adequate to the prevention or punishment of the crime thus meditated.
In the month of April last, as Congress is aware, a friendly arraugement was made between the Emperor of France and the President of the United States for the withdrawal from Mexico of the French expeditionary military forces. This withdrawal was to be effected in three detachments, the first of which, it was understood, would leave Mexico in November, now past, the second in March next, and the third and last in November, 1867. Immediately upon the completion of the evacuation, the French government was to assume the same attitude of non-intervention in regard to Mexico as is held by the government of the United States. Repeated assurances have been given by the Emperor since that agreement that he would complete the promised evacuation within the period mentioned, or sooner.
It was reasonably expected that the proceedings thus contemplated would produce a crisis of great political interest in the republic of Mexico. The newly appointed minister of the United States, Mr. Campbell, was therefore sent forward on the ninth day of November last, to assume his proper functions as minister plenipotentiary of the United States to that republic. It was also thought expedient that he should be attended in the vicinity of Mexico by the lieutenant general of the army of the United States, with the view of obtaining such information as might be important to determine the course to be pursued by the United States in re-establishing and maintaining necessary and proper intercourse with the republic of Mexico. Deeply interested in the cause of liberty and hîmanity, it seemed an obvious duty on our part to exercise whatever influence we possessed for the restoration and permanent establishment in that country of a domestic and republican form of government.
Such was the condition of our affairs in regard to Mexico when, on the 22d of November last, official information was received from Paris that the Emperor of France had some time before decided not to withdraw a detachment of his forces in the month of November past, according to engagement, but that this decision was made with the purpose of withdrawing the whole of those forces in the ensuing spring. Of this determination, however, the United States had not received any notice or intimation; and, so soon as the information was received by the government, care was taken to make known its dissent to the Emperor of France.
I cannot forego the hope that France will reconsider the subject, and adopt some resolution in regard to the evacuation of Mexico which will conform as nearly as practicable with the existing engagement, and thus meet the just expectations of the United States. The papers relating to the subject will be laid before you.
It is believed that, with the evacuation of Mexico by the expeditionary forces, no subject for serious differences between France and the United States would remain. The expressions of the Emperor and people of France warrant a hope that the traditionary friendship between the two countries might in that case be renewed and permanently restored.
A claim of a citizen of the United States for indemnity for spoliations committed on the high seas by the French authorities, in the exercise of a belligerent power against Mexico, has been met by the government of France with a proposition to defer settlement until a mutual convention for the adjustment of all claims of citizens and subjects of both countries, arising out of the recent wars on this continent, shall be agreed upon by the two countries. gestion is not deemed unreasonable, but it belongs to Congress to direct the manner in which claims for indemnity by foreigners, as well as by citizens of the United States, arising out of the late civil war, shall be adjudicated and determined. I have no doubt that the subject of all such claims will engage your attention at a convenient and proper time.
It is a matter of regret that no considerable advance has been made towards an adjustment of the differences between the United States and Great Britain arising out of the depredations upon our national commerce and other trespasses committed during our civil war by British subjects, in violation of international law and treaty obligations. The delay, however, may be believed.to have resulted in no small degree from the domestic situation of Great Britain. An entire change of ministry occurred in that country during the last session of Parliament. The attention of the new ministry was called to the subject at an early day, and there is some reason to expect that it will now be considered in a becoming and friendly spirit. The importance of an early disposition of the question cannot be exaggerated. Whatever might be the wishes of the two governments, it is manifest that good-will and friendship between the two countries cannot be established until a reciprocity, in the practice of good faith and neutrality, shall be restored between the respective nations.
On the 6th of June last, in violation of our neutrality laws, a military expedition and enterprise against the British North American colonies was projected and attempted to be carried on within the territory and jurisdiction of the United States. In obedience to the obligation imposed upon the Executive by the Constitution, to see that the laws are faithfully executed, all citizens were warned, by proclamation, against taking part in or aiding such unlawful proceedings, and the proper civil, military, and naval officers were directed to take all necessary measures for the enforcement of the laws. The expedition failed, but it has not been without its painful consequences. Some of our citizens who, it was alleged, were engaged in the expedition, were captured, and have been brought to trial as for a capital offence, in the province of Canada.
Judgment and sentence of death have been pronounced against some, while others have been acquitted. Fully believing in the maxim of government that severity of civil punishment for misguided persons who have engaged in revolutionary attempts which have disastrously failed, is unsound and unwise, such representations have been made to the British government, in behalf of the convicted persons, as, being sustained by an enlightened and humane judgment, will, it is hoped, induce in their cases an exercise of clemency, and a judicious amnesty to all who were engaged in the movement. Counsel has been employed by the government to defend citizens of the United States on trial for capital offences in Canada, and a discontinuance of the prosecutions which were institnted in the courts of the United States against those who took part in the expedition has been directed.
I have regarded the expedition as not only political in its nature, but as also in a great measure foreign from the United States in its causes, character, and objects. The attempt was understood to be made in sympathy with an insurgent party in Ireland, and, by striking at a British province on this continent, was designed to aid in obtaining redress for political grievances which, it was assumed, the people of Ireland had suffered at the hands of the British government during a period of several centuries. The persons engaged in it were chiefly natives of that country, some of whom had, while others had not, become citizens of the United States under our general laws of naturalization. Complaints of misgovernment in Ireland continually engage the attention of the British nation, and so great an agitation is now prevailing in Ireland that the British government have deemed it necessary to suspend the writ of habeas corpus in that country. These circumstances must necessarily modify the opinion which we might otherwise have entertained in regard to an expedition expressly prohibited by our neutrality laws. So long as those laws remain upon our statute books they should be faithfully executed, and if they operate harshly, unjustly, or oppressively, Congress alone can apply the remedy by their modification or repeal.
Political and commercial interests of the United States are not unlikely to be affected in some degree by events which are transpiring in the eastern regions of Europe, and the time seems to have come when our government ought to have a proper diplomatic representation in Greece.
This government has claimed for all persons not convicted, or accused, or suspected of crime, an absolute political right of self-expatriation, and a choice of new national allegiance. Most of the European states have dissented from this principle, and bave claimed a right to hold such of their subjects as have immigrated to and been naturalized in the United States, and afterwards returned on transient visits to their native countries, to the performance of military service in like manner as resident subjects. Complaints arising from the claim in this respect made by foreign states have heretofore been matters of controversy between the United States and some of the European powers, and the irritation consequent upon the failure to settle this question increased during the war in which Prussia, Italy, and Austria were recently engaged. While Great