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An agricultural bureau, charged with the duty of collecting and disseminating correct information as to the best modes of cultivation, and of the most effectual means of preserving and restoring the fertility of the soil, and of procuring and distributing seeds and plants and other vegetable productions, with instructions in regard to the soil, climate, and treatment best adapted to their growth, could not fail to be, in the language of Washington, in his last annual message to Congress, 'a very cheap instrument of immense national benefit.'
"The appropriations for the support of the army during the current fiscal year ending the 30th of June next were reduced far below the estimate submitted by the department. The consequence of this reduction is a considerable deficiency, to which I invite your attention.
"Theexpendituresofthatdepartment, for the year ending the 30th of June last, were 9,060,268 dollars 58c. The estimates for the year commencing the 1st of July next, and ending on the 30th of June, 1853, are 7,898,775 dollars Me., showing a reduction of 1,161,492 dollars 75c.
"The report of the Secretary of the Navy will exhibit the condition of the public service under the supervision of that department. Our naval force afloat under the present year has been actively and usefully employed in giving protection to our widely-extended and increasing commerce and interests in the various quarters of the globe, and our flag has everywhere afforded the security and received the respect inspired by the justice and liberality of our intercourse and the dignity and power of the nation.
"The expedition commanded by Lieutenant De Haven, dispatched in search of the British commander, Sir John Franklin, and his companions in the Arctic Seas, returned to New York in the month of October, after having undergone great peril and suffering from an unknown and dangerous navigation and the rigours of a northern climate, without any satisfactory information of the objects of their search, but with new contributions to science and navigation from the unfrequented polar regions. The officers and men of the expedition, having been all volunteers for this service, and having so conducted it as to meet the entire approbation of the Government, it is suggested, as an act of grace and generosity, that the same allowances or extra pay and emoluments be extended to them that were made to the officers and men of like rating in the late exploring expedition to the South Seas.
"I earnestly recommend to your attention the necessity of reorganizing the naval establishment, apportioning and fixing the number of officers in each grade, providing some mode of promotion to the higher grades of the navy, having reference to merit and capacity rather than seniority or date of entry into the service, and for retiring from the effective list, upon reduced pay, those who may be incompetent to the performance of active duty. As a measure of economy as well as of efficiency in this arm of the service, the provision last mentioned is eminently worthy of your consideration.
"The advantages of science in nautical affairs have rarely been more strikingly illustrated than in the fact stated in the report of the navy department, that, by means of the wind and current charts, projected and prepared by Lieutenant Maury, the superintendent of the naval observatory, the passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific ports of our country has been shortened by about 40 days.
"The estimates for the support of the navy and marine corps the ensuing fiscal year will be found to be 5,856,472 dollars 19c., the estimates for the current year being 5,900,621 dollars.
"The report of the PostmasterGeneral, herewith communicated, presents an interesting view of the progress, operations, and condition of his department.
"At the close of the last fiscal year the length of mail routes within the United States was 196,290 miles, the annual transportation thereon 53,272,252 miles, and the annual cost of such transportation 3,421,754 dollars.
"The length of the foreign mail routes is estimated at 18,349 miles, and the annual transportation thereon at 615,206 miles. The annual cost of this service is 1,472,187 dollars, of which 448,937 dollars is paid by the postoffice department, and 1,023,250 dollars is paid through the navy department.
"The annual transportation within the United States (excluding the service in California and Oregon, which is now, for the first time, reported, and embraced in the tabular statements of the department) exceeds that of the preceding year 5,162,855 miles, at an increased cost of 547,110 dollars.
"The whole number of post offices in the United States on the 30th day of June last was 19,796. There were 1698 post offices established, and 256 discontinued during the year.
"The gross revenues of the department for the fiscal year, including the appropriations for the franked matter of Congress, of the departments, and officers of Government, and excluding the foreign postages, collected for and payable to the British post office, amounted to 6,727,866 dollars 78c.
"The expenditures for the same period (excluding 20,599 dollars 49c. paid under an award of the auditor, in pursuance of a resolution of the last Congress, for mail service on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers in 1832 and 1833, and the amount paid to the British post office for foreign postages collected for and payable to that office) amounted to 6,024,556 dollars, 79c.; leaving a balance of revenue over the proper expenditures of the year of 703,299 dollars 99c.
"The receipts for postages during the year (excluding the foreign postages collected for and payable to the British post office) amounted to 6,345,747 dollars 21c., being an increase of 997,610 dollars 79c . over the like receipts for the preceding year.
"The public statutes of the United States have now been accumulating for more than 60 years, and, interspersed with private acts, are scattered through numerous volumes, and, from the cost of the whole, have become almost inaccessible to the great mass of the community. They also exhibit much of the incongruity and imperfection of hasty legislation. As it seems to be generally conceded that there is no 'common law' of the United States to supply the defects of their legislation, it is most important that that legislation should be as perfect as possible, defining every power intended to be conferred, every crime intended to be made punishable, and prescribing the 'punishment to be inflicted. In addition to some particular cases spoken of more at length, the whole criminal code is now lamentably defective. Some offences are imperfectly described, and others are entirely omitted; so that flagrant crimes may be committed with impunity. The scale of punishment is not in all cases graduated according to the degree and nature of the offence, and is often rendered more unequal by the different modes of imprisonment or penitentiary confinement in the different States.
"Many laws of a permanent character have been introduced into appropriation bills, and it is often difficult to determine whether the particular clause expires with the temporary Act of which it is a part, or continues in force. It has also frequently happened that enactments and provisions of law have been introduced into bills, with the title or general subject of which they have little or no connection or relation. In this mode of . legislation so many enactments have been heaped upon each other, and often with but little consideration, that in many instances it is difficult to search out and determine what is the law.
"The Government of the United States is emphatically a Government of written laws. The statutes should, therefore, as far as practicable, not only be made accessible to all, but be expressed in language so plain and simple as to be understood by all, and arranged in such method as to give perspicuity to every subject. Many of the States have revised their public acts with great and manifest benefit; and I recommend that provision be made by law for the
appointment of a commission to revise the public statutes of the United States, arranging them in order, supplying deficiencies, correcting incongruities, simplifying their language, and reporting them to Congress for its action.
"It is deeply to be regretted that, in several instances, officers of the Government in attempting to execute the law for the return of fugitives from labour, have been openly resisted, and their efforts frustrated and defeated by lawless and violent mobs; that in one case such resistance resulted in the death of an estimable citizen, and in others serious injury ensued to those officers and to individuals who were using their endeavours to sustain the laws. Prosecutions have been instituted against the alleged offenders, so far as they could be identified, and are still pending. I have regarded it as my duty in these cases to give all aid legally in my power to the enforcement of the laws, and I shall continue to do so wherever and whenever their execution may be resisted.
"The Act of Congress for the return of fugitives from labour is one required and demanded by the express words of the Constitution.
"The Constitution declares, 'That no person held to service or labour in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labour, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labour may be due.' This constitutional provision is equally obligatory upon the legislative, the executive, and judicial departments of the Government, and upon every citizen of the United States.
"Some objections have been urged against the details of the Act for the return of fugitives from labour; but it is worthy of remark that the main opposition is aimed against the Constitution itself, and proceeds from persons and classes of persons, many of whom declare their wish to see that Constitution overturned. They avow their hostility to any law which shall give full and practical effect to this requirement of the Constitution. Fortunately, the number of these persons is comparatively small, and is believed to be daily diminishing; but the issue which they present is one which involves the supremacy and even the existence of the Constitution.
"Cases have heretofore arisen in which individuals have denied the binding authority of Acts of Congress, and even States have proposed to nullify such Acts, upon the ground that the Constitution was the supreme law of the land, and that those Acts of Congress were repugnant to the instrument; but nullification is now aimed, not so much against particular laws as being inconsistent with the Constitution, as against the Constitution itself; and it is not to be disguised, that a spirit exists and has been actively at work to rend asunder this union, which is our cherished inheritance from our revolutionary fathers.
"In my last annual message I stated that I considered the series of measures which had been adopted at the previous session, in refers euce to the agitation growing out of the territorial and slavery questions, as a final settlement in principle and substance of the dangerous and exciting subject which they embraced; and I recommend adherence to the adjustment esta
blished by those measures until time and experience should demonstrate the necessity of further legislation to guard against evasion or abuse. I was not induced to make this recommendation because I thought those measures perfect, for no human legislation can be perfect. Wide differences and jarring opinions can only be reconciled by yielding something on all sides, and this result had been reached after an angry conflict of many months, in which one part of the country was arrayed against another, and violent convulsions seemed to be imminent. Looking at the interests of the whole country, I felt it to be my duty to seize upon this compromise as the best that could be obtained amid conflicting interests, and to insist upon it as a final settlement, to be adhered to by all who value the peace and welfare of the country. A year has now elapsed since that recommendation was made. To that recommendation I still adhere, and I congratulate you and the country upon the general acquiescence in these measures of peace which has been exhibited in all parts of the Republic. And not only is there this general acquiescence in these measures, but the spirit of conciliation which has been manifested in regard to them, in all parts of the country, has removed doubts and uncertainties in the minds of thousands of good men concerning the durability of our popular institutions, and given renewed assurance that our liberty and our union may subsist together for the benefit of this and all succeeding generations.
"Millard Fillmore. "Washington, Dec. 2."
2 "DURGLARTES.—In the D Chronicle of last year, notice was taken of the great prevalence of this class of crimes, frequently accompanied by violence to the person; of which a prominent instance was the burglary and murder at Frimley. The present year has been not less fertile in offences of the same nature.
One of the most daring of these was committed on the first night of the new year, at Downlands, the residence of the Misses Farms, combe, near Uckfield, six miles north of Lewes. The Misses Farnscombe have only one confidential man-servant to live on their premises, Thomas Wood: his bedroom is on the same floor with those of his mistresses, and for quickness of communication, in case of alarm, his door was always kept open at night. Wood was armed with a loaded gun and a sword. The lawn of the residence of Downlands abuts on the road from Isfield to Ringle's Cross-gate, and at its rear is a deep wood. At a late hour of the night, or early in the morning of the 2nd, a night exceedingly dark and tempestuous, the gang broke away the lattice-window of the dairy, and so gained access to a window, through
which they broke into the cellar, and from the cellar they got through a locked and bolted door into the kitchen. From the kitchen issued two staircases, one of which led to the ladies' bedrooms, and the other to Wood's bedroom. The robbers were aware of this, and separated into two parties, one of which, well acquainted with the habits of the family, ascended one staircase, and went by stealth to Wood's door-sill; thence they rushed in upon him; he became aware of their presence just the moment before they made their rush, leaped out of bed, and got hold of his gun; but one of the men closed on him before he could bring the gun to a level, and felled' him with a blow from the butt-end of a heavy pistol. The gang then wrested his gun away, and mounted guard over him while it was deliberated what should be their next step. Some of the ruffians were armed with pistols, the others had staves: all wore masks; and they appeared to obey a leader, who ordered the others with threats of violence. They took from Wood his watch and money. Some of the gang left the room and joined the other party, who had ascended the other staircase and burst into the room of Miss Susan FarnsB