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TREASURY DEPARTMENT, November 5, 1847. The PRESIDENT.
SIR: The military contributions in the form of duties upon imports into Mexican ports have been levied by the Departments of War and of the Navy during the last six months under your order of the 31st of March last, and in view of the experience of the practical operation of the system I respectfully recommend the following modifications in some of its details, which will largely augment the revenue:
That the duty on silk, flax, hemp or grass, cotton, wool, worsted or any manufactures of the same, or of either or mixtures thereof; coffee, teas, sugar, molasses, tobacco and all manufactures thereof, including cigars and cigarritos; glass, china, and stoneware, iron and steel and all manufactures of either not prohibited, be 30 per cent ad valorem; on copper and all manufactures thereof, tallow, tallow candles, soap, fish, beef, pork, hams, bacon, tongues, butter, lard, cheese, rice, Indian corn and meal, potatoes, wheat, rye, oats, and all other grain, rye meal and oat meal, flour, whale and sperm oil, clocks, boots and shoes, pumps, bootees and slippers, bonnets, hats, caps, beer, ale, porter, cider, timber, boards, planks, scantling, shingles, laths, pitch, tar, rosin, turpentine, spirits of turpentine, vinegar, apples, ship bread, hides, leather and manufactures thereof, and paper of all kinds, 20 per cent ad valorem; and these reduced rates shall also apply to all goods on which the duties are not paid remaining not exceeding ninety days in deposit in the Mexican ports, introduced under previous regulations enforcing military contributions. Yours, most respectfully,
R. J. WALKER, Secretary of the Treasury.
NOVEMBER 6, 1847. The modifications as above recommended by the Secretary of the Treasury are approved by me, and the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy will give the proper orders to carry them into effect.
JAMES K. POLK.
TREASURY DEPARTMENT, November 16, 1847. The PRESIDENT.
SIR: With a view to augment the military contributions now collected by the Departments of War and of the Navy under your order of the 31st of March last, I recommend that the export duty exacted before the war by the Government of Mexico be now collected at the port of exportation by the same officers of the Army or Navy of the United States in the Mexican ports in our possession who are authorized to collect the import duties, abolishing, however, the prohibition of export established in certain cases by the Mexican Government, as also all interior transit duties; dispensing also with the necessity of any certificate of having paid any duty to the Mexican Government.
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The export duty would then be as follows:
the Mexican Government duty...
Silver, unwrought or in a state of ore..... Where gold or silver in any form is taken from any interior Mexican city in our military possession, the export duty must be paid there to the officer of the United States commanding, and his certificate of such prepayment must be produced at the Mexican port of exportation; otherwise a double duty will be collected upon the arrival of such gold or silver at the Mexican port of exportation. Whenever it is practicable, all internal taxes of every description, whether upon persons or property, exacted by the Government of Mexico, or by any department, town, or city thereof, should be collected by our military officers in possession and appropriated as a military contribution toward defraying the expenses of the war, excluding however, all duties on the transit of goods from one department to another, which duties, being prejudicial to revenue and restrictive of the exchange of imports for exports, were abolished by your order of the 31st of March last. Yours, most respectfully,
R. J. WALKER, Secretary of the Treasury.
NOVEMBER 16, 1847. The modifications and military contributions as above recommended by the Secretary of the Treasury are approved by me, and the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy will give the proper orders to carry them into effect.
JAMES K. POLK.
THIRD ANNUAL MESSAGE.
WASHINGTON, December 7, 1847. Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:
The annual meeting of Congress is always an interesting event. The representatives of the States and of the people come fresh from their constituents to take counsel together for the common good.
After an existence of near three-fourths of a century as a free and independent Republic, the problem no longer remains to be solved whether man is capable of self-government. The success of our admirable system is a conclusive refutation of the theories of those in other countries who
maintain that a "favored few” are born to rule and that the mass of mankind must be governed by force. Subject to no arbitrary or hereditary authority, the people are the only sovereigns recognized by our Constitution.
Numerous emigrants, of every lineage and language, attracted by the civil and religious freedom we enjoy and by our happy condition, annually crowd to our shores, and transfer their heart, not less than their allegiance, to the country whose dominion belongs alone to the people.
No country has been so much favored, or should acknowledge with deeper reverence the manifestations of the divine protection. wise Creator directed and guarded us in our infant struggle for freedom and has constantly watched over our surprising progress until we have become one of the great nations of the earth.
It is in a country thus favored, and under a Government in which the executive and legislative branches hold their authority for limited periods alike from the people, and where all are responsible to their respective constituencies, that it is again my duty to communicate with Congress upon the state of the Union and the present condition of public affairs.
During the past year the most gratifying proofs are presented that our country has been blessed with a widespread and universal prosperity. There has been no period since the Government was founded when all the industrial pursuits of our people have been more successful or when labor in all branches of business has received a fairer or better reward. From our abundance we have been enabled to perform the pleasing duty of furnishing food for the starving millions of less favored countries.
In the enjoyment of the bounties of Providence at home such as have rarely fallen to the lot of any people, it is cause of congratulation that our intercourse with all the powers of the earth except Mexico continues to be of an amicable character.
It has ever been our cherished policy to cultivate peace and good will with all nations, and this policy has been steadily pursued by me.
No change has taken place in our relations with Mexico since the adjournment of the last Congress. The war in which the United States were forced to engage with the Government of that country still continues.
I deem it unnecessary, after the full exposition of them contained in my message of the 11th of May, 1846, and in my annual message at the commencement of the session of Congress in December last, to reiterate the serious causes of complaint which we had against Mexico before she commenced hostilities.
It is sufficient on the present occasion to say that the wanton violation of the rights of person and property of our citizens committed by Mexico, her repeated acts of bad faith through a long series of years, and her disregard of solemn treaties stipulating for indemnity to our injured
citizens not only constituted ample cause of war on our part, but were of such an aggravated character as would have justified us before the whole world in resorting to this extreme remedy. With an anxious desire to avoid a rupture between the two countries, we forbore for years to assert our clear rights by force, and continued to seek redress for the wrongs we had suffered by amicable negotiation in the hope that Mexico might yield to pacific counsels and the demands of justice. In this hope we were disappointed. Our minister of peace sent to Mexico was insultingly rejected. The Mexican Government refused even to hear the terms of adjustment which he was authorized to propose, and finally, under wholly unjustifiable pretexts, involved the two countries in war by invading the territory of the State of Texas, striking the first blow, and shedding the blood of our citizens on our own soil.
Though the United States were the aggrieved nation, Mexico commenced the war, and we were compelled in self-defense to repel the invader and to vindicate the national honor and interests by prosecuting it with vigor until we could obtain a just and honorable peace.
On learning that hostilities had been commenced by Mexico I promptly communicated that fact, accompanied with a succinct statement of our other causes of complaint against Mexico, to Congress, and that body, by the act of the 13th of May, 1846, declared that "by the act of the Republic of Mexico a state of war exists between that Government and the United States.” This act declaring "the war to exist by the act of the Republic of Mexico,” and making provision for its prosecution “to a speedy and successful termination,” was passed with great unanimity by Congress, there being but two negative votes in the Senate and but fourteen in the House of Representatives.
The existence of the war having thus been declared by Congress, it became my duty under the Constitution and the laws to conduct and prosecute it. This duty has been performed, and though at every stage of its progress I have manifested a willingness to terminate it by a just peace, Mexico has refused to accede to any terms which could be accepted by the United States consistently with the national honor and interest.
The rapid and brilliant successes of our arms and the vast extent of the enemy's territory which had been overrun and conquered before the close of the last session of Congress were fully known to that body. Since that time the war has been prosecuted with increased energy, and, I am gratified to state, with a success which commands universal admiration, History presents no parallel of so many glorious victories achieved by any nation within so short a period. Our Army, regulars and volunteers, have covered themselves with imperishable honors. Whenever and wherever our forces have encountered the enemy, though he was in vastly superior numbers and often intrenched in fortified positions of his own selection and of great strength, he has been defeated. Too much praise can not be bestowed upon our officers and men, regulars and
volunteers, for their gallantry, discipline, indomitable courage, and perseverance, all seeking the post of danger and vying with each other in deeds of noble daring.
While every patriot's heart must exult and a just national pride animate every bosom in beholding the high proofs of courage, consummate military skill, steady discipline, and humanity to the vanquished enemy exhibited by our gallant Army, the nation is called to mourn over the loss of many brave officers and soldiers, who have fallen in defense of their country's honor and interests. The brave dead met their melancholy fate in a foreign land, nobly discharging their duty, and with their country's flag waving triumphantly in the face of the foe. Their patriotic deeds are justly appreciated, and will long be remembered by their grateful countrymen. The parental care of the Government they loved and served should be extended to their surviving families.
Shortly after the adjournment of the last session of Congress the gratifying intelligence was received of the signal victory of Buena Vista, and of the fall of the city of Vera Cruz, and with it the strong castle of San Juan de Ulloa, by which it was defended. Believing that after these and other successes so honorable to our arms and so disastrous to Mexico the period was propitious to afford her another opportunity, if she thought proper to embrace it, to enter into negotiations for peace, a commissioner was appointed to proceed to the headquarters of our Army with full powers to enter upon negotiations and to conclude a just and honorable treaty of peace. He was not directed to make any new overtures of peace, but was the bearer of a dispatch from the Secretary of State of the United States to the minister of foreign affairs of Mexico, in reply to one received from the latter of the 22d of February, 1847, in which the Mexican Government was informed of his appointment and of his presence at the headquarters of our Army, and that he was invested with full powers to conclude a definitive treaty of peace whenever the Mexican Government might signify a desire to do so. While I was unwilling to subject the United States to another indignant refusal, I was yet resolved that the evils of the war should not be protracted a day longer than might be rendered absolutely necessary by the Mexican Government.
Care was taken to give no instructions to the commissioner which could in any way interfere with our military operations or relax our energies in the prosecution of the war. He possessed no authority in any manner to control these operations. He was authorized to exhibit his instructions to the general in command of the Army, and in the event of a treaty being concluded and ratified on the part of Mexico he was directed to give him notice of that fact. On the happening of such contingency, and on receiving notice thereof, the general in command was instructed by the Secretary of War to suspend further active military operations until further orders. These instructions were given with a view to intermit