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to adopt the patriotic sentiment: “Our federal Union—it must be preserved.” To preserve it, the compromise which alone enabled our fathers to form a common constitution for the government and protection of so many States, and distinct communities, of such diversified habits, interests and domestic institutions, must be sacredly and religiously observed. Any attempt to disturb or destroy these compromises, being terms of the compact of Union, can lead to none other than the most ruinous and disastrous consequences. It is a source of deep regret that, in some sections of our country, misguided persons have occasionally indulged in schemes and agitations, whose object is the destruction of domestic institutions existing in other sections—institutions which existed at the adoption of the constitution, and were recognized and protected by it. All must see that if it were possible for them to be successful in attaining their object, the dissolution of the Union, and a consequent destruction of our happy form of government, must speedily follow. I am happy to believe, that at every period of our existence as a nation, there has existed, and continues to exist, among the great mass of our people, a devotion to the Union of the States, which will shield and protect it against the moral treason of any who would seriously contemplate its destruction. To secure a continuance of that devotion, the compromises of the constitution must not only be preserved, but sectional jealousies and heartburnings must be discountenanced; and all should remember that they are members of the same political family, having a common destiny. To increase the attachment of our people to the Union, our laws should be just. Any policy which shall tend to favor monopolies, or the peculiar interests of sections or classes, must operate to the prejudice of the interests of their fellow-citizens, and should be avoided. If the compromises of the constitution be preserved,—if sectional jealousies and heartburnings be discountenanced,—if our laws be just, and the government be practically administered strictly within the limits of power prescribed to it, we may discard all apprehensions for the safety of the Union. With these views of the nature, character and objects of the government, and the value of the Union, I shall steadily oppose the creation of those institutions and systems which, in their nature, tend to pervert it from its legitimate purposes, and make it the instrument of sections, classes, and individuals. We need no National Bank, or other extraneous institutions, planted around the government to control or strengthen it in opposition to the will of its authors. Experience has taught us how unnecessary they are as auxiliaries of the public authorities, how impotent for good and how powerful for mischief. Ours was intended to be a plain and frugal government: and I shall regard it to be my duty to recommend to Congress, and as far as the Executive is concerned, to enforce by all the means within my power, the strictest economy in the expenditure of the public money, which may be compatible with the public interests. A national debt has become almost an institution of European monarchies. It is viewed in some of them, as an essential prop to existing governments. Melancholy is the condition of that people whose government can be sustained only by a system which periodically transfers large amounts from the labor of the many to the coffers of the few. Such a system is incompatible with the ends for which our republican government was instituted. Under a wise policy, the debts contracted in our revolution, and during the war of 1812, have been happily extinguished. By a judicious application of the revenues, not required for other necessary purposes, it is not doubted that the debt which has grown out of the circumstances of the last few years may be speedily paid off. I congratulate my fellow-citizens on the entire restoration of the credit of the general government of the Union, and
that of many of the States. Happy would it be for the indebted States if they were freed from their liabilities, many of which were incautiously contracted. Although the government of the Union is neither in a legal nor a moral sense bound for the debts of the States, and it would be a violation of our compact of Union to assume them, yet we cannot but feel a deep interest in seeing all the States meet their public liabilities, and pay off their just debts, at the earliest practicable period. That they will do so, as soon as it can be done without imposing too heavy burdens on their citizens, there is no reason to doubt. The sound moral and honorable feeling of the people of the indebted States cannot be questioned; and we are happy to perceive a settled disposition on their part, as their ability returns, after a season of unexampled pecuniary embarrassment, to pay off all just demands, and to acquiesce in any reasonable measure to accomplish that object. One of the difficulties which we have had to encounter in the practical administration of the government, consists in the adjustment of our revenue laws, and the levy of taxes necessary for the support of government. In the general proposition, that no more money shall be collected than the necessities of an economical administration shall require, all parties seem to acquiesce. Nor does there seem to be any material difference of opinion as to the absence of right in the government to tax one section of country, or one class of citizens, or one occupation, for the mere profit of another. “Justice and sound policy forbid the federal government to foster one branch of industry to the detriment of another, or to cherish the interests of one portion to the injury of another portion of our common country.” I have heretofore declared to my fellow-citizens that, in my “judgment, it is the duty of the government to extend as far as may be practicable to do so, by its revenue laws, and all other means within its power, fair and just protection to all the great interests of the whole Union, embracing agriculture, manufactures, the mechanic arts, commerce and navigation.” I have also declared my opinion to be in “favor of a tariff for revenue,” and that in adjusting the details of such a tariff, I have sanctioned such moderate discriminating duties as would produce the amount of revenue needed, and at the same time, afford reasonable incidental protection to our home industry, and that I was “opposed to a tariff for protection merely, and not for revenue.” The power “to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises,” was an indispensable one to be conferred on the federal government, which, without it, would possess no means of providing for its own support. In executing this power, by levying a tariff of duties for the support of government, the raising revenue should be the object, and protection the incident. To reverse this principle, and make protection the object and revenue the incident, would be to inflict manifest injustice upon all other than the protected interests. In levying duties for revenue, it is doubtless proper to make such discriminations within the revenue principle, as will afford incidental protection to our home interests. Within the revenue limit, there is a discretion to discriminate; beyond that limit, the rightful exercise of the power is not conceded. The incidental protection afforded to our home interests by discrimination within the revenue range, it is believed will be ample. In making discriminations, all our home interests should, as far as practicable, be equally protected. The largest portion of our people are agriculturists. Others are employed in manufactures, commerce, navigation, and the mechanic arts. They are all engaged in their respective pursuits, and their joint labors constitute the national or home industry. To tax one branch of this home industry for the benefit of another, would be unjust. No one of these interests can rightfully claim an advantage over the others, or to be enriched by impoverishing the others. All are equally entitled to the fostering care and protection of the government. In exercising a sound discretion in levying discriminating duties, within the limit prescribed, care should be taken that it be done in a manner not to benefit the wealthy few, at the expense of the toiling millions, by taxing lowest the luxuries of life, or articles of superior quality and high price, which can only be consumed by the wealthy; and highest, the necessaries of life, or articles of coarse quality and low price, which the poor and great mass of the people must consume. The burdens of government should, as far as practicable, be distributed justly and equally among all classes of our population. These general views, long entertained on the subject, I have deemed it proper to reiterate. It is a subject upon which conflicting interests of sections and occupations are suposed to exist, and a spirit of mutual concession and compromise in adjusting its details should be cherished by every part of our wide-spread country, as the only means of preserving harmony and a cheerful acquiescence of all in the operation of our revenue laws. Our patriotic citizens in every part of the Union will readily submit to the payment of such taxes as shall be needed for the support of their government, whether in peace or in war, if they are so levied as to distribute the burdens as equally as possible among them.
The republic of Texas has made known her desire to come into our Union, to form a part of our confederacy, and to enjoy with us the blessing of liberty secured and guaranteed by our constitution. Texas was once a part of our country-) was unwisely ceded away to a foreign power—is now independent, and possesses an undoubted right to dispose of a part or the whole of her territory, and to merge her sovereignty as a separate and independent State, in ours. I congratulate my country that, by an act of the last Congress of the United States, the assent of this government has been given to the reinion; and it only remains for the two countries to agree upon the terms, to consummate an object so important to both.