As representatives of the people in the legislative branch of
their Government, you have assembled at a time when the strength and
excellence of our free institutions and the fitness of our citizens to
enjoy popular rule have been again made manifest. A political contest
involving momentous consequences, fraught with feverish apprehension,
and creating aggressiveness so intense as to approach bitterness and
passion has been waged throughout our land and determined by the decree
of free and independent suffrage without disturbance of our tranquillity
or the least sign of weakness in our national structure.
When we consider these incidents and contemplate the peaceful obedience
and manly submission which have succeeded a heated clash of political
opinions, we discover abundant evidence of a determination on the part
of our countrymen to abide by every verdict of the popular will and
to be controlled at all times by an abiding faith in the agencies
established for the direction of the affairs of their Government.
Thus our people exhibit a patriotic disposition which entitles them
to demand of those who undertake to make and execute their laws such
faithful and unselfish service in their behalf as can only be prompted
by a serious appreciation of the trust and confidence which the
acceptance of public duty invites.
In obedience to a constitutional requirement I herein submit to the
Congress certain information concerning national affairs, with the
suggestion of such legislation as in my judgment is necessary and
expedient. To secure brevity and avoid tiresome narration I shall omit
many details concerning matters within Federal control which, though
by no means unimportant, are more profitably discussed in departmental
reports. I shall also further curtail this communication by omitting
a minute recital of many minor incidents connected with our foreign
relations which have heretofore found a place in Executive messages,
but are now contained in a report of the Secretary of State, which is
At the outset of a reference to the more important matters affecting our
relations with foreign powers it would afford me satisfaction if I could
assure the Congress that the disturbed condition in Asiatic Turkey had
during the past year assumed a less hideous and bloody aspect and that,
either as a consequence of the awakening of the Turkish Government to
the demands of humane civilization or as the result of decisive action
on the part of the great nations having the right by treaty to interfere
for the protection of those exposed to the rage of mad bigotry and cruel
fanaticism, the shocking features of the situation had been mitigated.
Instead, however, of welcoming a softened disposition or protective
intervention, we have been afflicted by continued and not infrequent
reports of the wanton destruction of homes and the bloody butchery of
men, women, and children, made martyrs to their profession of Christian
While none of our citizens in Turkey have thus far been killed or
wounded, though often in the midst of dreadful scenes of danger, their
safety in the future is by no means assured. Our Government at home
and our minister at Constantinople have left nothing undone to protect
our missionaries in Ottoman territory, who constitute nearly all the
individuals residing there who have a right to claim our protection on
the score of American citizenship. Our efforts in this direction will
not be relaxed; but the deep feeling and sympathy that have been aroused
among our people ought not to so far blind their reason and judgment as
to lead them to demand impossible things. The outbreaks of blind fury
which lead to murder and pillage in Turkey occur suddenly and without
notice, and an attempt on our part to force such a hostile presence
there as might be effective for prevention or protection would not only
be resisted by the Ottoman Government, but would be regarded as an
interruption of their plans by the great nations who assert their
exclusive right to intervene in their own time and method for the
security of life and property in Turkey.
Several naval vessels are stationed in the Mediterranean as a measure
of caution and to furnish all possible relief and refuge in case of
We have made claims against the Turkish Government for the pillage
and destruction of missionary property at Harpoot and Marash during
uprisings at those places. Thus far the validity of these demands has
not been admitted, though our minister, prior to such outrages and
in anticipation of danger, demanded protection for the persons and
property of our missionary citizens in the localities mentioned and
notwithstanding that strong evidence exists of actual complicity of
Turkish soldiers in the work of destruction and robbery.
The facts as they now appear do not permit us to doubt the justice of
these claims, and nothing will be omitted to bring about their prompt
A number of Armenian refugees having arrived at our ports, an order has
lately been obtained from the Turkish Government permitting the wives
and children of such refugees to join them here. It is hoped that
hereafter no obstacle will be interposed to prevent the escape of all
those who seek to avoid the perils which threaten them in Turkish
Our recently appointed consul to Erzerum is at his post and discharging
the duties of his office, though for some unaccountable reason his
formal exequatur from the Sultan has not been issued.
I do not believe that the present somber prospect in Turkey will be long
permitted to offend the sight of Christendom. It so mars the humane and
enlightened civilization that belongs to the close of the nineteenth
century that it seems hardly possible that the earnest demand of good
people throughout the Christian world for its corrective treatment will
The insurrection in Cuba still continues with all its perplexities. It
is difficult to perceive that any progress has thus far been made toward
the pacification of the island or that the situation of affairs as
depicted in my last annual message has in the least improved. If Spain
still holds Havana and the seaports and all the considerable towns, the
insurgents still roam at will over at least two-thirds of the inland
country. If the determination of Spain to put down the insurrection
seems but to strengthen with the lapse of time and is evinced by her
unhesitating devotion of largely increased military and naval forces
to the task, there is much reason to believe that the insurgents have
gained in point of numbers and character and resources and are none
the less inflexible in their resolve not to succumb without practically
securing the great objects for which they took up arms. If Spain has not
yet reestablished her authority, neither have the insurgents yet made
good their title, to be regarded as an independent state. Indeed, as
the contest has gone on the pretense that civil government exists on
the island, except so far as Spain is able to maintain it, has been
practically abandoned. Spain does keep on foot such a government, more
or less imperfectly, in the large towns and their immediate suburbs;
but that exception being made, the entire country is either given over
to anarchy or is subject to the military occupation of one or the other
party. It is reported, indeed, on reliable authority that at the demand
of the commander in chief of the insurgent army the putative Cuban
government has now given up all attempt to exercise its functions,
leaving that government confessedly (what there is the best reason for
supposing it always to have been in fact) a government merely on paper.
Were the Spanish armies able to meet their antagonists in the open or in
pitched battle, prompt and decisive results might be looked for, and the
immense superiority of the Spanish forces in numbers, discipline, and
equipment could hardly fail to tell greatly to their advantage. But they
are called upon to face a foe that shuns general engagements, that can
choose and does choose its own ground, that from the nature of the
country is visible or invisible at pleasure, and that fights only from
ambuscade and when all the advantages of position and numbers are on its
side. In a country where all that is indispensable to life in the way of
food, clothing, and shelter is so easily obtainable, especially by those
born and bred on the soil, it is obvious that there is hardly a limit
to the time during which hostilities of this sort may be prolonged.
Meanwhile, as in all cases of protracted civil strife, the passions of
the combatants grow more and more inflamed and excesses on both sides
become more frequent and more deplorable. They are also participated in
by bands of marauders, who, now in the name of one party and now in the
name of the other, as may best suit the occasion, harry the country at
will and plunder its wretched inhabitants for their own advantage. Such
a condition of things would inevitably entail immense destruction of
property, even if it were the policy of both parties to prevent it as
far as practicable; but while such seemed to be the original policy of
the Spanish Government, it has now apparently abandoned it and is acting
upon the same theory as the insurgents, namely, that the exigencies of
the contest require the wholesale annihilation of property that it may
not prove of use and advantage to the enemy.
It is to the same end that, in pursuance of general orders, Spanish
garrisons are now being withdrawn from plantations and the rural
population required to concentrate itself in the towns. The sure
result would seem to be that the industrial value of the island is
fast diminishing and that unless there is a speedy and radical change
in existing conditions it will soon disappear altogether. That value
consists very largely, of course, in its capacity to produce sugar—a
capacity already much reduced by the interruptions to tillage which
have taken place during the last two years. It is reliably asserted
that should these interruptions continue during the current year, and
practically extend, as is now threatened, to the entire sugar-producing
territory of the island, so much time and so much money will be required
to restore the land to its normal productiveness that it is extremely
doubtful if capital can be induced to even make the attempt.
The spectacle of the utter ruin of an adjoining country, by nature
one of the most fertile and charming on the globe, would engage the
serious attention of the Government and people of the United States in
any circumstances. In point of fact, they have a concern with it which
is by no means of a wholly sentimental or philanthropic character. It
lies so near to us as to be hardly separated from our territory. Our
actual pecuniary interest in it is second only to that of the people
and Government of Spain. It is reasonably estimated that at least
from $30,000,000 to $50,000,000 of American capital are invested in
plantations and in railroad, mining, and other business enterprises
on the island. The volume of trade between the United States and Cuba,
which in 1889 amounted to about $64,000,000, rose in 1893 to about
$103,000,000, and in 1894, the year before the present insurrection
broke out, amounted to nearly $96,000,000. Besides this large pecuniary
stake in the fortunes of Cuba, the United States finds itself
inextricably involved in the present contest in other ways, both
vexatious and costly.
Many Cubans reside in this country, and indirectly promote the
insurrection through the press, by public meetings, by the purchase and
shipment of arms, by the raising of funds, and by other means which the
spirit of our institutions and the tenor of our laws do not permit to be
made the subject of criminal prosecutions. Some of them, though Cubans
at heart and in all their feelings and interests, have taken out papers
as naturalized citizens of the United States—a proceeding resorted
to with a view to possible protection by this Government, and not
unnaturally regarded with much indignation by the country of their
origin. The insurgents are undoubtedly encouraged and supported by the
widespread sympathy the people of this country always and instinctively
feel for every struggle for better and freer government, and which,
in the case of the more adventurous and restless elements of our
population, leads in only too many instances to active and personal
participation in the contest. The result is that this Government is
constantly called upon to protect American citizens, to claim damages
for injuries to persons and property, now estimated at many millions of
dollars, and to ask explanations and apologies for the acts of Spanish
officials whose zeal for the repression of rebellion sometimes blinds
them to the immunities belonging to the unoffending citizens of a
friendly power. It follows from the same causes that the United States
is compelled to actively police a long line of seacoast against unlawful
expeditions, the escape of which the utmost vigilance will not always
suffice to prevent.
These inevitable entanglements of the United States with the
rebellion in Cuba, the large American property interests affected,
and considerations of philanthropy and humanity in general have led
to a vehement demand in various quarters for some sort of positive
intervention on the part of the United States. It was at first proposed
that belligerent rights should be accorded to the insurgents—a
proposition no longer urged because untimely and in practical operation
clearly perilous and injurious to our own interests. It has since been
and is now sometimes contended that the independence of the insurgents
should be recognized; but imperfect and restricted as the Spanish
government of the island may be, no other exists there, unless the will
of the military officer in temporary command of a particular district
can be dignified as a species of government. It is now also suggested
that the United States should buy the island—a suggestion possibly
worthy of consideration if there were any evidence of a desire or
willingness on the part of Spain to entertain such a proposal. It is
urged finally that, all other methods failing, the existing internecine
strife in Cuba should be terminated by our intervention, even at the
cost of a war between the United States and Spain—a war which its
advocates confidently prophesy could neither be large in its proportions
nor doubtful in its issue.
The correctness of this forecast need be neither affirmed nor denied.
The United States has, nevertheless, a character to maintain as a
nation, which plainly dictates that right and not might should be the
rule of its conduct. Further, though the United States is not a nation
to which peace is a necessity, it is in truth the most pacific of powers
and desires nothing so much as to live in amity with all the world.
Its own ample and diversified domains satisfy all possible longings for
territory, preclude all dreams of conquest, and prevent any casting of
covetous eyes upon neighboring regions, however attractive. That our
conduct toward Spain and her dominions has constituted no exception
to this national disposition is made manifest by the course of our
Government, not only thus far during the present insurrection, but
during the ten years that followed the rising at Yara in 1868. No other
great power, it may safely be said, under circumstances of similar
perplexity, would have manifested the same restraint and the same
patient endurance. It may also be said that this persistent attitude of
the United States toward Spain in connection with Cuba unquestionably
evinces no slight respect and regard for Spain on the part of the
American people. They in truth do not forget her connection with the
discovery of the Western Hemisphere, nor do they underestimate the
great qualities of the Spanish people nor fail to fully recognize their
splendid patriotism and their chivalrous devotion to the national honor.
They view with wonder and admiration the cheerful resolution with which
vast bodies of men are sent across thousands of miles of ocean and an
enormous debt accumulated that the costly possession of the gem of the
Antilles may still hold its place in the Spanish crown. And yet neither
the Government nor the people of the United States have shut their eyes
to the course of events in Cuba or have failed to realize the existence
of conceded grievances which have led to the present revolt from the
authority of Spain—grievances recognized by the Queen Regent and by
the Cortes, voiced by the most patriotic and enlightened of Spanish
statesmen, without regard to party, and demonstrated by reforms proposed
by the executive and approved by the legislative branch of the Spanish
Government. It is in the assumed temper and disposition of the Spanish
Government to remedy these grievances, fortified by indications of
influential public opinion in Spain, that this Government has hoped to
discover the most promising and effective means of composing the present
strife with honor and advantage to Spain and with the achievement of all
the reasonable objects of the insurrection.
It would seem that if Spain should offer to Cuba genuine autonomy—a
measure of home rule which, while preserving the sovereignty of Spain,
would satisfy all rational requirements of her Spanish subjects—there
should be no just reason why the pacification of the island might not
be effected on that basis. Such a result would appear to be in the true
interest of all concerned. It would at once stop the conflict which
is now consuming the resources of the island and making it worthless
for whichever party may ultimately prevail. It would keep intact the
possessions of Spain without touching her honor, which will be consulted
rather than impugned by the adequate redress of admitted grievances.
It would put the prosperity of the island and the fortunes of its
inhabitants within their own control without severing the natural and
ancient ties which bind them to the mother country, and would yet enable
them to test their capacity for self-government under the most favorable
conditions. It has been objected on the one side that Spain should not
promise autonomy until her insurgent subjects lay down their arms;
on the other side, that promised autonomy, however liberal, is
insufficient, because without assurance of the promise being fulfilled.
But the reasonableness of a requirement by Spain of unconditional
surrender on the part of the insurgent Cubans before their autonomy
is conceded is not altogether apparent. It ignores important features
of the situation—the stability two years' duration has given to the
insurrection; the feasibility of its indefinite prolongation in the
nature of things, and, as shown by past experience, the utter and
imminent ruin of the island unless the present strife is speedily
composed; above all, the rank abuses which all parties in Spain, all
branches of her Government, and all her leading public men concede to
exist and profess a desire to remove. Facing such circumstances, to
withhold the proffer of needed reforms until the parties demanding them
put themselves at mercy by throwing down their arms has the appearance
of neglecting the gravest of perils and inviting suspicion as to the
sincerity of any professed willingness to grant reforms. The objection
on behalf of the insurgents that promised reforms can not be relied upon
must of course be considered, though we have no right to assume and no
reason for assuming that anything Spain undertakes to do for the relief
of Cuba will not be done according to both the spirit and the letter of
Nevertheless, realizing that suspicions and precautions on the part
of the weaker of two combatants are always natural and not always
unjustifiable, being sincerely desirous in the interest of both as
well as on its own account that the Cuban problem should be solved with
the least possible delay, it was intimated by this Government to the
Government of Spain some months ago that if a satisfactory measure of
home rule were tendered the Cuban insurgents and would be accepted by
them upon a guaranty of its execution the United States would endeavor
to find a way not objectionable to Spain of furnishing such guaranty.
While no definite response to this intimation has yet been received from
the Spanish Government, it is believed to be not altogether unwelcome,
while, as already suggested, no reason is perceived why it should not be
approved by the insurgents. Neither party can fail to see the importance
of early action, and both must realize that to prolong the present
state of things for even a short period will add enormously to the
time and labor and expenditure necessary to bring about the industrial
recuperation of the island. It is therefore fervently hoped on all
grounds that earnest efforts for healing the breach between Spain and
the insurgent Cubans upon the lines above indicated may be at once
inaugurated and pushed to an immediate and successful issue. The
friendly offices of the United States, either in the manner above
outlined or in any other way consistent with our Constitution and laws,
will always be at the disposal of either party.
Whatever circumstances may arise, our policy and our interests would
constrain us to object to the acquisition of the island or an
interference with its control by any other power.
It should be added that it can not be reasonably assumed that the
hitherto expectant attitude of the United States will be indefinitely
maintained. While we are anxious to accord all due respect to the
sovereignty of Spain, we can not view the pending conflict in all its
features and properly apprehend our inevitably close relations to it and
its possible results without considering that by the course of events we
may be drawn into such an unusual and unprecedented condition as will
fix a limit to our patient waiting for Spain to end the contest, either
alone and in her own way or with our friendly cooperation.
When the inability of Spain to deal successfully with the insurrection
has become manifest and it is demonstrated that her sovereignty is
extinct in Cuba for all purposes of its rightful existence, and when a
hopeless struggle for its reestablishment has degenerated into a strife
which means nothing more than the useless sacrifice of human life and
the utter destruction of the very subject-matter of the conflict, a
situation will be presented in which our obligations to the sovereignty
of Spain will be superseded by higher obligations, which we can hardly
hesitate to recognize and discharge. Deferring the choice of ways and
methods until the time for action arrives, we should make them depend
upon the precise conditions then existing; and they should not be
determined upon without giving careful heed to every consideration
involving our honor and interest or the international duty we owe to
Spain. Until we face the contingencies suggested or the situation is by
other incidents imperatively changed we should continue in the line of
conduct heretofore pursued, thus in all circumstances exhibiting our
obedience to the requirements of public law and our regard for the duty
enjoined upon us by the position we occupy in the family of nations.
A contemplation of emergencies that may arise should plainly lead us to
avoid their creation, either through a careless disregard of present
duty or even an undue stimulation and ill-timed expression of feeling.
But I have deemed it not amiss to remind the Congress that a time may
arrive when a correct policy and care for our interests, as well as a
regard for the interests of other nations and their citizens, joined by
considerations of humanity and a desire to see a rich and fertile
country intimately related to us saved from complete devastation, will
constrain our Government to such action as will subserve the interests
thus involved and at the same time promise to Cuba and its inhabitants
an opportunity to enjoy the blessings of peace.
The Venezuelan boundary question has ceased to be a matter of
difference between Great Britain and the United States, their respective
Governments having agreed upon the substantial provisions of a treaty
between Great Britain and Venezuela submitting the whole controversy to
arbitration. The provisions of the treaty are so eminently just and fair
that the assent of Venezuela thereto may confidently be anticipated.
Negotiations for a treaty of general arbitration for all differences
between Great Britain and the United States are far advanced and promise
to reach a successful consummation at an early date.
The scheme of examining applicants for certain consular positions to
test their competency and fitness, adopted under an Executive order
issued on the 20th of September, 1895, has fully demonstrated the
usefulness of this innovation. In connection with this plan of
examination promotions and transfers of deserving incumbents have been
quite extensively made, with excellent results.
During the past year 35 appointments have been made in the consular
service, 27 of which were made to fill vacancies caused by death or
resignation or to supply newly created posts, 2 to succeed incumbents
removed for cause, 2 for the purpose of displacing alien consular
officials by American citizens, and 4 merely changing the official
title of incumbent from commercial agent to consul. Twelve of these
appointments were transfers or promotions from other positions under the
Department of State, 4 of those appointed had rendered previous service
under the Department, 8 were made of persons who passed a satisfactory
examination, 7 were appointed to places not included in the order of
September 20, 1895, and 4 appointments, as above stated, involved no
change of incumbency.
The inspection of consular offices provided for by an appropriation for
that purpose at the last session of the Congress has been productive
of such wholesome effects that I hope this important work will in the
future be continued. I know of nothing that can be done with the same
slight expense so improving to the service.
I desire to repeat the recommendation contained in my last annual
message in favor of providing at public expense official residences
for our ambassadors and ministers at foreign capitals. The reasons
supporting this recommendation are strongly stated in the report of the
Secretary of State, and the subject seems of such importance that I hope
it may receive the early attention of the Congress.
We have during the last year labored faithfully and against unfavorable
conditions to secure better preservation of seal life in the Bering Sea.
Both the United States and Great Britain have lately dispatched
commissioners to these waters to study the habits and condition of the
seal herd and the causes of their rapid decrease. Upon the reports of
these commissioners, soon to be submitted, and with the exercise of
patience and good sense on the part of all interested parties, it is
earnestly hoped that hearty cooperation may be secured for the
protection against threatened extinction of seal life in the Northern
Pacific and Bering Sea.
The Secretary of the Treasury reports that during the fiscal year ended
June 30, 1896, the receipts of the Government from all sources amounted
to $409,475,408.78. During the same period its expenditures were
$434,678,654.48, the excess of expenditures over receipts thus amounting
to $25,203,245.70. The ordinary expenditures during the year were
$4,015,852.21 less than during the preceding fiscal year. Of the
receipts mentioned there was derived from customs the sum of
$160,021,751.67 and from internal revenue $146,830,615.66. The receipts
from customs show an increase of $7,863,134.22 over those from the same
source for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1895, and the receipts from
internal revenue an increase of $3,584,537.91.
The value of our imported dutiable merchandise during the last fiscal
year was $369,757,470 and the value of free goods imported $409,967,470,
being an increase of $6,523,675 in the value of dutiable goods and
$41,231,034 in the value of free goods over the preceding year. Our
exports of merchandise, foreign and domestic, amounted in value to
$882,606,938, being an increase over the preceding year of $75,068,773.
The average ad valorem duty paid on dutiable goods imported
during the year was 39.94 per cent and on free and dutiable goods taken
together 20.55 per cent.
The cost of collecting our internal revenue was 2.78 percent, as
against 2.81 per cent for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1895. The
total production of distilled spirits, exclusive of fruit brandies, was
86,588,703 taxable gallons, being an increase of 6,639,108 gallons over
the preceding year. There was also an increase of 1,443,676 gallons of
spirits produced from fruit as compared with the preceding year. The
number of barrels of beer produced was 35,859,250, as against 33,589,784
produced in the preceding fiscal year, being an increase of 2,269,466
The total amount of gold exported during the last fiscal year was
$112,409,947 and of silver $60,541,670, being an increase of $45,941,466
of gold and $13,246,384 of silver over the exportations of the preceding
fiscal year. The imports of gold were $33,525,065 and of silver
$28,777,186, being $2,859,695 less of gold and $8,566,007 more of silver
than during the preceding year.
The total stock of metallic money in the United States at the close
of the last fiscal year, ended on the 30th day of June, 1896, was
$1,228,326,035, of which $599,597,964 was in gold and $628,728,071
On the 1st day of November, 1896, the total stock of money of all kinds
in the country was $2,285,410,590, and the amount in circulation, not
including that in the Treasury holdings, was $1,627,055,641, being
$22.63 Per capita upon an estimated population of 71,902,000.
The production of the precious metals in the United States during the
calendar year 1895 is estimated to have been 2,254,760 fine ounces of
gold, of the value of $46,610,000, and 55,727,000 fine ounces of silver,
of the commercial value of $36,445,000 and the coinage value of
$72,051,000. The estimated production of these metals throughout the
world during the same period was 9,688,821 fine ounces of gold,
amounting to $200,285,700 in value, and 169,189,249 fine ounces of
silver, of the commercial value of $110,654,000 and of the coinage value
of $218,738,100 according to our ratio.
The coinage of these metals in the various countries of the world during
the same calendar year amounted to $232,701,438 in gold and $121,996,219
The total coinage at the mints of the United States during the fiscal
year ended June 30, 1896, amounted to $71,188,468.52, of which
$58,878,490 was in gold coins and $12,309,978.52 in standard silver
dollars, subsidiary coins, and minor coins.
The number of national banks organized from the time the law authorizing
their creation was passed up to October 31, 1896, was 5,051, and of
this number 3,679 were at the date last mentioned in active operation,
having authorized capital stock of $650,014,895, held by 288,902
shareholders, and circulating notes amounting to $211,412,620.
The total outstanding circulating notes of all national banks on
the 31st day of October, 1896, amounted to $234,553,807, including
unredeemed but fully secured notes of banks insolvent and in process
of liquidation. The increase in national-bank circulation during the
year ending on that day was $21,099,429. On October 6, 1896, when the
condition of national banks was last reported, the total resources of
the 3,679 active institutions were $3,263,685,313.83, which included
$1,893,268,839.31 in loans and discounts and $362,165,733.85 in money
of all kinds on hand. Of their liabilities $1,597,891,058.03 was due
to individual depositors and $209,944,019 consisted of outstanding
There were organized during the year preceding the date last mentioned
28 national banks, located in 15 States, of which 12 were organized in
the Eastern States, with a capital of $1,180,000, 6 in the Western
States, with a capital of $875,000, and 10 in the Southern States, with
a capital of $1,190,000. During the year, however, 37 banks voluntarily
abandoned their franchises under the national law, and in the case of
27 others it was found necessary to appoint receivers. Therefore, as
compared with the year preceding, there was a decrease of 36 in the
number of active banks.
The number of existing banks organized under State laws is 5,708.
The number of immigrants arriving in the United States during the fiscal
year was 343,267, of whom 340,468 were permitted to land and 2,799 were
debarred on various grounds prescribed by law and returned to the
countries whence they came at the expense of the steamship companies
by which they were brought in. The increase in immigration over the
preceding year amounted to 84,731. It is reported that with some
exceptions the immigrants of the past year were of a hardy laboring
class, accustomed and able to earn a support for themselves, and it
is estimated that the money brought with them amounted to at least
$5,000,000, though it was probably much in excess of that sum, since
only those having less than $30 are required to disclose the exact
amount, and it is known that many brought considerable sums of money to
buy land and build homes. Including all the immigrants arriving who were
over 14 years of age, 28.63 Per cent were illiterate, as against 20.37
Per cent of those of that age arriving during the preceding fiscal year.
The number of immigrants over 14 years old, the countries from which
they came, and the percentage of illiterates among them were as follows:
Italy, 57,515, with 54.59 per cent; Ireland, 37,496, with 7 per cent;
Russia, 35,188, with 41.14 per cent; Austria-Hungary and provinces,
57,053, with 38.92 per cent; Germany, 25,334, with 2.96 per cent;
Sweden, 18,821, with 1.16 per cent; while from Portugal there came
2,067, of whom 77.69 per cent were illiterate. There arrived from Japan
during the year only 1,100 immigrants, and it is the opinion of the
immigration authorities that the apprehension heretofore existing to
some extent of a large immigration from Japan to the United States is
without any substantial foundation.
From the Life-Saving Service it is reported that the number of disasters
to documented vessels within the limits of its operations during the
year was 437. These vessels had on board 4,608 persons, of whom 4,595
were saved and 13 lost. The value of such vessels is estimated at
$8,880,140 and of their cargoes $3,846,380, making the total value of
property imperiled $12,726,520. Of this amount $11,292,707 was saved and
$1,432,750 was lost. Sixty-seven of the vessels were totally wrecked.
There were besides 243 casualties to small undocumented craft, on board
of which there were 594 persons, of whom 587 were saved and 7 were lost.
The value of the property involved in these latter casualties is
estimated at $119,265, of which $114,915 was saved and $4,350 was lost.
The life-saving crews during the year also rescued or assisted numerous
other vessels and warned many from danger by signals, both by day and
night. The number of disasters during the year exceeded that of any
previous year in the history of the service, but the saving of both life
and property was greater than ever before in proportion to the value of
the property involved and to the number of persons imperiled.
The operations of the Marine-Hospital Service, the Revenue Cutter
Service, the Steamboat-Inspection Service, the Light-House Service, the
Bureau of Navigation, and other branches of public work attached to the
Treasury Department, together with various recommendations concerning
their support and improvement, are fully stated in the report of the
Secretary of the Treasury, to which the attention of the Congress is
The report of the Secretary of War exhibits satisfactory conditions in
the several branches of the public service intrusted to his charge.
The limit of our military force as fixed by law is constantly and
readily maintained. The present discipline and morale of our Army are
excellent, and marked progress and efficiency are apparent throughout
its entire organization.
With the exception of delicate duties in the suppression of slight
Indian disturbances along our southwestern boundary, in which the
Mexican troops cooperated, and the compulsory but peaceful return, with
the consent of Great Britain, of a band of Cree Indians from Montana to
the British possessions, no active operations have been required of the
Army during the year past.
Changes in methods of administration, the abandonment of unnecessary
posts and consequent concentration of troops, and the exercise of care
and vigilance by the various officers charged with the responsibility
in the expenditure of the appropriations have resulted in reducing to
a minimum the cost of maintenance of our military establishment.
During the past year the work of constructing permanent infantry and
cavalry posts has been continued at the places heretofore designated.
The Secretary of War repeats his recommendation that appropriations for
barracks and quarters should more strictly conform to the needs of the
service as judged by the Department rather than respond to the wishes
and importunities of localities. It is imperative that much of the money
provided for such construction should now be allotted to the erection
of necessary quarters for the garrisons assigned to the coast defenses,
where many men will be needed to properly care for and operate modern
guns. It is essential, too, that early provision be made to supply the
necessary force of artillery to meet the demands of this service.
The entire Army has now been equipped with the new magazine arms, and
wise policy demands that all available public and private resources
should be so employed as to provide within a reasonable time a
sufficient number to supply the State militia with these modern weapons
and provide an ample reserve for any emergency.
The organized militia numbers 112,879 men. The appropriations for its
support by the several States approximate $2,800,000 annually, and
$400,000 is contributed by the General Government. Investigation shows
these troops to be usually well drilled and inspired with much military
interest, but in many instances they are so deficient in proper arms and
equipment that a sudden call to active duty would find them inadequately
prepared for field service. I therefore recommend that prompt measures
be taken to remedy this condition and that every encouragement be given
to this deserving body of unpaid and voluntary citizen soldiers, upon
whose assistance we must largely rely in time of trouble.
During the past year rapid progress has been made toward the completion
of the scheme adopted for the erection and armament of fortifications
along our seacoast, while equal progress has been made in providing the
material for submarine defense in connection with these works.
It is peculiarly gratifying at this time to note the great advance that
has been made in this important undertaking since the date of my annual
message to the Fifty-third Congress at the opening of its second
session, in December, 1893. At that time I informed the Congress of the
approaching completion of nine 12-inch, twenty 10-inch, and thirty-four
8-inch high-power steel guns and seventy-five 12-inch rifled mortars.
This total then seemed insignificant when compared with the great work
remaining to be done. Yet it was none the less a source of satisfaction
to every citizen when he reflected that it represented the first
installment of the new ordnance of American design and American
manufacture and demonstrated our ability to supply from our own
resources guns of unexcelled power and accuracy.
At that date, however, there were practically no carriages upon which
to mount these guns and only thirty-one emplacements for guns and
sixty-four for mortars. Nor were all these emplacements in condition
to receive their armament. Only one high-power gun was at that time in
position for the defense of the entire coast.
Since that time the number of guns actually completed has been increased
to a total of twenty-one 12-inch, fifty-six 10-inch, sixty-one 8-inch
high-power breech-loading steel guns, ten rapid-fire guns, and eighty
12-inch rifled mortars. In addition there are in process of construction
one 16-inch-type gun, fifty 12-inch, fifty-six l0-inch, twenty-seven
8-inch high-power guns, and sixty-six 12-inch rifled mortars; in all,
four hundred and twenty-eight guns and mortars.
During the same year, immediately preceding the message referred to, the
first modern gun carriage had been completed and eleven more were in
process of construction. All but one were of the nondisappearing type.
These, however, were not such as to secure necessary cover for the
artillery gunners against the intense fire of modern machine rapid-fire
and high-power guns.
The inventive genius of ordnance and civilian experts has been taxed
in designing carriages that would obviate this fault, resulting, it is
believed, in the solution of this difficult problem. Since 1893 the
number of gun carriages constructed or building has been raised to a
total of 129, of which 90 are on the disappearing principle, and the
number of mortar carriages to 152, while the 95 emplacements which were
provided for prior to that time have been increased to 280 built and
This improved situation is largely due to the recent generous response
of Congress to the recommendations of the War Department.
Thus we shall soon have complete about one-fifth of the comprehensive
system the first step in which was noted in my message to the Congress
of December 4, 1893.
When it is understood that a masonry emplacement not only furnishes
a platform for the heavy modern high power gun, but also in every
particular serves the purpose and takes the place of the fort of former
days, the importance of the work accomplished is better comprehended.
In the hope that the work will be prosecuted with no less vigor in the
future, the Secretary of War has submitted an estimate by which, if
allowed, there will be provided and either built or building by the end
of the next fiscal year such additional guns, mortars, gun carriages,
and emplacements as will represent not far from one-third of the total
work to be done under the plan adopted for our coast defenses, thus
affording a prospect that the entire work will be substantially
completed within six years. In less time than that, however, we shall
have attained a marked degree of security.
The experience and results of the past year demonstrate that with a
continuation of present careful methods the cost of the remaining work
will be much less than the original estimate.
We should always keep in mind that of all forms of military preparation
coast defense alone is essentially pacific in its nature. While it gives
the sense of security due to a consciousness of strength, it is neither
the purpose nor the effect of such permanent fortifications to involve
us in foreign complications, but rather to guarantee us against them.
They are not temptation to war, but security against it. Thus they are
thoroughly in accord with all the traditions of our national diplomacy.
The Attorney-General presents a detailed and interesting statement of
the important work done under his supervision during the last fiscal
The ownership and management by the Government of penitentiaries for
the confinement of those convicted in United States courts of violations
of Federal laws, which for many years has been a subject of Executive
recommendation, have at last to a slight extent been realized by the
utilization of the abandoned military prison at Fort Leavenworth as a
United States penitentiary.
This is certainly a movement in the right direction, but it ought to be
at once supplemented by the rebuilding or extensive enlargement of this
improvised prison and the construction of at least one more, to be
located in the Southern States. The capacity of the Leavenworth
Penitentiary is so limited that the expense of its maintenance,
calculated at a per capita rate upon the number of prisoners it can
accommodate, does not make as economical an exhibit as it would if it
were larger and better adapted to prison purposes; but I am thoroughly
convinced that economy, humanity, and a proper sense of responsibility
and duty toward those whom we punish for violations of Federal law
dictate that the Federal Government should have the entire control and
management of the penitentiaries where convicted violators are confined.
It appears that since the transfer of the Fort Leavenworth Military
Prison to its new uses the work previously done by prisoners confined
there, and for which expensive machinery has been provided, has been
discontinued. This work consisted of the manufacture of articles for
army use, now done elsewhere. On all grounds it is exceedingly desirable
that the convicts confined in this penitentiary be allowed to resume
work of this description.
It is most gratifying to note the satisfactory results that have
followed the inauguration of the new system provided for by the act of
May 28, 1896, under which certain Federal officials are compensated by
salaries instead of fees. The new plan was put in operation on the 1st
day of July, 1896, and already the great economy it enforces, its
prevention of abuses, and its tendency to a better enforcement of the
laws are strikingly apparent. Detailed evidence of the usefulness of
this long-delayed but now happily accomplished reform will be found
clearly set forth in the Attorney-General's report.
Our Post-Office Department is in good condition, and the exhibit
made of its operations during the fiscal year ended June 30, 1896,
if allowance is made for imperfections in the laws applicable to
it, is very satisfactory. The total receipts during the year were
$82,499,208.40. The total expenditures were $90,626,296.84, exclusive
of the $1,559,898.27 which was earned by the Pacific Railroad for
transportation and credited on their debt to the Government. There was
an increase of receipts over the previous year of $5,516,080.21, or 7.1
per cent, and an increase of expenditures of $3,836,124.02, or 4.42
percent. The deficit was $1,679,956.19 less than that of the preceding
year. The chief expenditures of the postal service are regulated by law
and are not in the control of the Postmaster-General. All that he can
accomplish by the most watchful administration and economy is to enforce
prompt and thorough collection and accounting for public moneys and such
minor savings in small expenditures and in letting those contracts, for
post-office supplies and star service, which are not regulated by
An effective cooperation between the Auditor's Office and the
Post-Office Department and the making and enforcement of orders by
the Department requiring immediate notification to their sureties
of all delinquencies on the part of postmasters, and compelling such
postmasters to make more frequent deposits of postal funds, have
resulted in a prompter auditing of their accounts and much less default
to the Government than heretofore.
The year's report shows large extensions of both star-route service and
railway mail service, with increased postal facilities. Much higher
accuracy in handling mails has also been reached, as appears by the
decrease of errors in the railway mail service and the reduction of mail
matter returned to the Dead-Letter Office.
The deficit for the last year, although much less than that of the last
and preceding years, emphasizes the necessity for legislation to correct
the growing abuse of second-class rates, to which the deficiency is
mainly attributable. The transmission at the rate of 1 cent a pound of
serial libraries, advertising sheets, "house organs" (periodicals
advertising some particular "house" or institution), sample copies, and
the like ought certainly to be discontinued. A glance at the revenues
received for the work done last year will show more plainly than any
other statement the gross abuse of the postal service and the growing
waste of its earnings.
The free matter carried in the mails for the Departments, offices, etc.,
of the Government and for Congress, in pounds, amounted to 94,480,189.
If this is offset against buildings for post-offices and stations, the
rental of which would more than compensate for such free postal service,
we have this exhibit:
Weight of mail matter (other than above) transmitted through the
mails for the year ending June 30, 1896.
Domestic and foreign letters and postal cards, etc.
Newspapers and periodicals, 1 cent per pound.
Books, seeds, etc., 8 cents a pound.
Parcels, etc., 16 cents a pound.
The remainder of our postal revenue, amounting to something more than
$5,000,000, was derived from box rents, registry fees, money-order
business, and other similar items.
The entire expenditures of the Department, including pay for
transportation credited to the Pacific railroads, were $92,186,195.11,
which may be considered as the cost of receiving, carrying, and
delivering the above mail matter. It thus appears that though the
second-class matter constituted more than two-thirds of the total that
was carried, the revenue derived from it was less than one-thirtieth of
the total expense.
The average revenue was—
From each pound of first-class matter
From each pound of second class
From each pound of third class
From each pound of fourth class
The growth in weight of second-class matter has been from 299,000,000
pounds in 1894 to 312,000,000 in 1895 and to almost 349,000,000 in 1896,
and it is quite evident this increasing drawback is far outstripping any
possible growth of postal revenues.
Our mail service should of course be such as to meet the wants and even
the conveniences of our people at a direct charge upon them so light
as perhaps to exclude the idea of our Post-Office Department being
a money-making concern; but in the face of a constantly recurring
deficiency in its revenues and in view of the fact that we supply the
best mail service in the world it seems to me it is quite time to
correct the abuses that swell enormously our annual deficit. If we
concede the public policy of carrying weekly newspapers free in the
county of publication, and even the policy of carrying at less than
one-tenth of their cost other bona fide newspapers and periodicals,
there can be no excuse for subjecting the service to the further immense
and increasing loss involved in carrying at the nominal rate of 1 cent a
pound the serial libraries, sometimes including trashy and even harmful
literature, and other matter which under the loose interpretation of
a loose statute have been gradually given second-class rates, thus
absorbing all profitable returns derived from first-class matter, which
pays three or four times more than its cost, and producing a large
annual loss to be paid by general taxation. If such second-class matter
paid merely the cost of its handling, our deficit would disappear and
a surplus result which might be used to give the people still better
mail facilities or cheaper rates of letter postage. I recommend that
legislation be at once enacted to correct these abuses and introduce
better business ideas in the regulation of our postal rates.
Experience and observation have demonstrated that certain improvements
in the organization of the Post-Office Department must be secured before
we can gain the full benefit of the immense sums expended in its
administration. This involves the following reforms, which I earnestly
There should be a small addition to the existing inspector service,
to be employed in the supervision of the carrier force, which now
numbers 13,000 men and performs its service practically without the
surveillance exercised over all other branches of the postal or public
service. Of course such a lack of supervision and freedom from wholesome
disciplinary restraints must inevitably lead to imperfect service. There
should also be appointed a few inspectors who could assist the central
office in necessary investigation concerning matters of post-office
leases, post-office sites, allowances for rent, fuel, and lights, and
in organizing and securing the best results from the work of the 14,000
clerks now employed in first and second class offices.
I am convinced that the small expense attending the inauguration of
these reforms would actually be a profitable investment.
I especially recommend such a recasting of the appropriations
by Congress for the Post-Office Department as will permit the
Postmaster-General to proceed with the work of consolidating
post-offices. This work has already been entered upon sufficiently to
fully demonstrate by experiment and experience that such consolidation
is productive of better service, larger revenues, and less expenditures,
to say nothing of the further advantage of gradually withdrawing
post-offices from the spoils system.
The Universal Postal Union, which now embraces all the civilized world
and whose delegates will represent 1,000,000,000 people, will hold its
fifth congress in the city of Washington in May, 1897. The United States
may be said to have taken the initiative which led to the first meeting
of this congress, at Berne in 1874, and the formation of the Universal
Postal Union, which brings the postal service of all countries to every
man's neighborhood and has wrought marvels in cheapening postal rates
and securing absolutely safe mail communication throughout the world.
Previous congresses have met in Berne, Paris, Lisbon, and Vienna, and
the respective countries in which they have assembled have made generous
provision for their accommodation and for the reception and
entertainment of the delegates.
In view of the importance of this assemblage and of its deliberations
and of the honors and hospitalities accorded to our representatives by
other countries on similar occasions, I earnestly hope that such an
appropriation will be made for the expenses necessarily attendant upon
the coming meeting in our capital city as will be worthy of our national
hospitality and indicative of our appreciation of the event.
The work of the Navy Department and its present condition are fully
exhibited in the report of the Secretary.
The construction of vessels for our new Navy has been energetically,
prosecuted by the present Administration upon the general lines
previously adopted, the Department having seen no necessity for radical
changes in prior methods, under which the work was found to be
progressing in a manner highly satisfactory. It has been decided,
however, to provide in every shipbuilding contract that the builder
should pay all trial expenses, and it has also been determined to pay no
speed premiums in future contracts. The premiums recently earned and
some yet to be decided are features of the contracts made before this
conclusion was reached.
On March 4, 1893, there were in commission but two armored vessels—the
double-turreted monitors Miantonomoh and Monterey. Since
that date, of vessels theretofore authorized, there have been placed in
their first commission 3 first-class and 2 second-class battle ships, 2
armored cruisers, 1 harbor-defense ram, and 5 double-turreted monitors,
including the Maine and the Puritan, just completed. Eight
new unarmored cruisers and 2 new gunboats have also been commissioned.
The Iowa, another battle ship, will be completed about March 1,
and at least 4 more gunboats will be ready for sea in the early spring.
It is gratifying to state that our ships and their outfits are believed
to be equal to the best that can be manufactured elsewhere, and that
such notable reductions have been made in their cost as to justify the
statement that quite a number of vessels are now being constructed at
rates as low as those that prevail in European shipyards.
Our manufacturing facilities are at this time ample for all possible
naval contingencies. Three of our Government navy-yards—those at
Mare Island, Cal., Norfolk, Va., and Brooklyn, N.Y.—are equipped for
shipbuilding, our ordnance plant in Washington is equal to any in
the world, and at the torpedo station we are successfully making the
highest grades of smokeless powder. The first-class private shipyards
at Newport News, Philadelphia, and San Francisco are building battle
ships; eleven contractors, situated in the States of Maine, Rhode
Island, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, and the State
of Washington, are constructing gunboats or torpedo boats; two plants
are manufacturing large quantities of first-class armor, and American
factories are producing automobile torpedoes, powder, projectiles,
rapid-fire guns, and everything else necessary for the complete outfit
of naval vessels.
There have been authorized by Congress since March, 1893, 5 battle
ships, 6 light-draft gunboats, 16 torpedo boats, and 1 submarine torpedo
boat. Contracts for the building of all of them have been let. The
Secretary expresses the opinion that we have for the present a
sufficient supply of cruisers and gunboats, and that hereafter the
construction of battle ships and torpedo boats will supply our needs.
Much attention has been given to the methods of carrying on departmental
business. Important modifications in the regulations have been made,
tending to unify the control of shipbuilding as far as may be under the
Bureau of Construction and Repair, and also to improve the mode of
purchasing supplies for the Navy by the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts.
The establishment under recent acts of Congress of a supply fund with
which to purchase these supplies in large quantities and other
modifications of methods have tended materially to their cheapening and
The War College has developed into an institution which it is believed
will be of great value to the Navy in teaching the science of war, as
well as in stimulating professional zeal in the Navy, and it will be
especially useful in the devising of plans for the utilization in case
of necessity of all the naval resources of the United States.
The Secretary has persistently adhered to the plan he found in operation
for securing labor at navy-yards through boards of labor employment, and
has done much to make it more complete and efficient. The naval officers
who are familiar with this system and its operation express the decided
opinion that its results have been to vastly improve the character of
the work done at our yards and greatly reduce its cost.
Discipline among the officers and men of the Navy has been maintained
to a high standard and the percentage of American citizens enlisted has
been very much increased.
The Secretary is considering and will formulate during the coming winter
a plan for laying up ships in reserve, thereby largely reducing the cost
of maintaining our vessels afloat. This plan contemplates that battle
ships, torpedo boats, and such of the cruisers as are not needed for
active service at sea shall be kept in reserve with skeleton crews on
board to keep them in condition, cruising only enough to insure the
efficiency of the ships and their crews in time of activity.
The economy to result from this system is too obvious to need comment.
The Naval Militia, which was authorized a few years ago as an
experiment, has now developed into a body of enterprising young men,
active and energetic in the discharge of their duties and promising
great usefulness. This establishment has nearly the same relation to our
Navy as the National Guard in the different States bears to our Army,
and it constitutes a source of supply for our naval forces the
importance of which is immediately apparent.
The report of the Secretary of the Interior presents a comprehensive and
interesting exhibit of the numerous and important affairs committed to
his supervision. It is impossible in this communication to do more than
briefly refer to a few of the subjects concerning which the Secretary
gives full and instructive information.
The money appropriated on account of this Department and for its
disbursement for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1896, amounted to more
than $157,000,000, or a greater sum than was appropriated for the entire
maintenance of the Government for the two fiscal years ended June 30,
Our public lands, originally amounting to 1,840,000,000 acres, have been
so reduced that only about 600,000,000 acres still remain in Government
control, excluding Alaska. The balance, being by far the most valuable
portion, has been given away to settlers, to new States, and to
railroads or sold at a comparatively nominal sum. The patenting of land
in execution of railroad grants has progressed rapidly during the
year, and since the 4th day of March, 1893, about 25,000,000 acres have
thus been conveyed to these corporations.
I agree with the Secretary that the remainder of our public lands should
be more carefully dealt with and their alienation guarded by better
economy and greater prudence.
The commission appointed from the membership of the National Academy of
Sciences, provided for by an act of Congress, to formulate plans for a
national forestry system will, it is hoped, soon be prepared to present
the result of thorough and intelligent examination of this important
The total Indian population of the United States is 177,235, according
to a census made in 1895, exclusive of those within the State of New
York and those comprising the Five Civilized Tribes. Of this number
there are approximately 38,000 children of school age. During the year
23,393 of these were enrolled in schools. The progress which has
attended recent efforts to extend Indian-school facilities and the
anticipation of continued liberal appropriations to that end can not
fail to afford the utmost satisfaction to those who believe that the
education of Indian children is a prime factor in the accomplishment of
It may be said in general terms that in every particular the improvement
of the Indians under Government care has been most marked and
The Secretary, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, and the agents having
charge of Indians to whom allotments have been made strongly urge the
passage of a law prohibiting the sale of liquor to allottees who have
taken their lands in severalty. I earnestly join in this recommendation
and venture to express the hope that the Indian may be speedily
protected against this greatest of all obstacles to his well-being and
The condition of affairs among the Five Civilized Tribes, who occupy
large tracts of land in the Indian Territory and who have governments
of their own, has assumed such an aspect as to render it almost
indispensable that there should be an entire change in the relations of
these Indians to the General Government. This seems to be necessary in
furtherance of their own interests, as well as for the protection of
non-Indian residents in their territory. A commission organized and
empowered under several recent laws is now negotiating with these
Indians for the relinquishment of their courts and the division of their
common lands in severalty and are aiding in the settlement of the
troublesome question of tribal membership. The reception of their first
proffers of negotiation was not encouraging, but through patience and
such conduct on their part as demonstrated that their intentions were
friendly and in the interest of the tribes the prospect of success has
become more promising. The effort should be to save these Indians from
the consequences of their own mistakes and improvidence and to secure to
the real Indian his rights as against intruders and professed friends
who profit by his retrogression. A change is also needed to protect life
and property through the operation of courts conducted according to
strict justice and strong enough to enforce their mandates.
As a sincere friend of the Indian, I am exceedingly anxious that
these reforms should be accomplished with the consent and aid of the
tribes and that no necessity may be presented for radical or drastic
legislation. I hope, therefore, that the commission now conducting
negotiations will soon be able to report that progress has been made
toward a friendly adjustment of existing difficulties.
It appears that a very valuable deposit of gilsonite or asphaltum has
been found on the reservation in Utah occupied by the Uncompahgre Ute
Indians. Every consideration of care for the public interest and every
sensible business reason dictate such management or disposal of this
important source of public revenue as will except it from the general
rules and incidents attending the ordinary disposition of public lands
and secure to the Government a fair share at least of its advantages in
place of its transfer for a nominal sum to interested individuals.
I indorse the recommendation made by the present Secretary of the
Interior, as well as his predecessor, that a permanent commission,
consisting of three members, one of whom shall be an army officer, be
created to perform the duties now devolving upon the Commissioner and
Assistant Commissioner of Indian Affairs. The management of the Bureau
involves such numerous and diverse details and the advantages of an
uninterrupted policy are so apparent that I hope the change suggested
will meet the approval of the Congress.
The diminution of our enormous pension roll and the decrease of pension
expenditure, which have been so often confidently foretold, still fail
in material realization. The number of pensioners on the rolls at the
close of the fiscal year ended June 30, 1896, was 970,678. This is the
largest number ever reported. The amount paid exclusively for pensions
during the year was $138,214,761.94, a slight decrease from that of the
preceding year, while the total expenditures on account of pensions,
including the cost of maintaining the Department and expenses attending
pension distribution, amounted to $142,206,550.59, or within a very
small fraction of one third of the entire expense of supporting the
Government during the same year. The number of new pension certificates
issued was 90,640. Of these, 40,374 represent original allowances of
claims and 15,878 increases of existing pensions.
The number of persons receiving pensions from the United States, but
residing in foreign countries, at the close of the last fiscal year was
3,781, and the amount paid to them during the year was $582,735.38.
The sum appropriated for the payment of pensions for the current fiscal
year, ending June 30, 1897, is $140,000,000, and for the succeeding year
it is estimated that the same amount will be necessary.
The Commissioner of Pensions reports that during the last fiscal year
339 indictments were found against violators of the pension laws. Upon
these indictments 167 convictions resulted.
In my opinion, based upon such statements as these and much other
information and observation, the abuses which have been allowed to creep
into our pension system have done incalculable harm in demoralizing our
people and undermining good citizenship. I have endeavored within my
sphere of official duty to protect our pension roll and make it what it
should be, a roll of honor, containing the names of those disabled in
their country's service and worthy of their country's affectionate
remembrance. When I have seen those who pose as the soldiers' friends
active and alert in urging greater laxity and more reckless pension
expenditure, while nursing selfish schemes, I have deprecated the
approach of a situation when necessary retrenchment and enforced economy
may lead to an attack upon pension abuses so determined as to overlook
the discrimination due to those who, worthy of a nation's care, ought to
live and die under the protection of a nation's gratitude.
The Secretary calls attention to the public interests involved in an
adjustment of the obligations of the Pacific railroads to the
Government. I deem it to be an important duty to especially present this
subject to the consideration of the Congress.
On January 1, 1897, with the amount already matured, more than
$13,000,000 of the principal of the subsidy bonds issued by the United
States in aid of the construction of the Union Pacific Railway,
including its Kansas line, and more than $6,000,000 of like bonds issued
in aid of the Central Pacific Railroad, including those issued to the
Western Pacific Railroad Company, will have fallen due and been paid or
must on that day be paid by the Government. Without any reference to the
application of the sinking fund now in the Treasury, this will create
such a default on the part of these companies to the Government as will
give it the right to at once institute proceedings to foreclose its
mortgage lien. In addition to this indebtedness, which will be due
January 1, 1897, there will mature between that date and January 1,
1899, the remaining principal of such subsidy bonds, which must also be
met by the Government. These amount to more than $20,000,000 on account
of the Union Pacific lines and exceed $21,000,000 on account of the
Central Pacific lines.
The situation of these roads and the condition of their indebtedness to
the Government' have been fully set forth in the reports of various
committees to the present and prior Congresses, and as early as 1887
they were thoroughly examined by a special commission appointed pursuant
to an act of Congress. The considerations requiring an adjustment of the
Government's relations to the companies have been clearly presented and
the conclusion reached with practical uniformity that if these relations
are not terminated they should be revised upon a basis securing their
Under section 4 of the act of Congress passed March 3, 1887, the
President is charged with the duty, in the event that any mortgage or
other incumbrance paramount to the interest of the United States in the
property of the Pacific railroads should exist and be lawfully liable
to be enforced, to direct the action of the Departments of Treasury and
of Justice in the protection of the interest of the United States by
redemption or through judicial proceedings, including foreclosures of
the Government liens.
In view of the fact that the Congress has for a number of years almost
constantly had under consideration various plans for dealing with the
conditions existing between these roads and the Government, I have thus
far felt justified in withholding action under the statute above
In the case of the Union Pacific Company, however, the situation
has become especially and immediately urgent. Proceedings have been
instituted to foreclose a first mortgage upon those aided parts of the
main lines upon which the Government holds a second and subordinate
mortgage lien. In consequence of those proceedings and increasing
complications, added to the default occurring on the 1st day of January,
1897, a condition will be presented at that date, so far as this company
is concerned, that must emphasize the mandate of the act of 1887 and
give to Executive duty under its provisions a more imperative aspect.
Therefore, unless Congress shall otherwise direct or shall have
previously determined upon a different solution of the problem, there
will hardly appear to exist any reason for delaying beyond the date of
the default above mentioned such Executive action as will promise to
subserve the public interests and save the Government from the loss
threatened by further inaction.
The Department of Agriculture is so intimately related to the welfare of
our people and the prosperity of our nation that it should constantly
receive the care and encouragement of the Government. From small
beginnings it has grown to be the center of agricultural intelligence
and the source of aid and encouragement to agricultural efforts. Large
sums of money are annually appropriated for the maintenance of this
Department, and it must be confessed that the legislation relating to it
has not always been directly in the interest of practical farming or
properly guarded against waste and extravagance. So far, however, as
public money has been appropriated fairly and sensibly to help those who
actually till the soil, no expenditure has been more profitably made or
more generally approved by the people.
Under the present management of the Department its usefulness has been
enhanced in every direction, and at the same time strict economy has
been enforced to the utmost extent permitted by Congressional action.
From the report of the Secretary it appears that through careful and
prudent financial management he has annually saved a large sum from his
appropriations, aggregating during his incumbency and up to the close
of the present fiscal year nearly one-fifth of the entire amount
appropriated. These results have been accomplished by a conscientious
study of the real needs of the farmer and such a regard for economy
as the genuine farmer ought to appreciate, supplemented by a rigid
adherence to civil-service methods in a Department which should be
conducted in the interest of agriculture instead of partisan politics.
The Secretary reports that the value of our exports of farm products
during the last fiscal year amounted to $570,000,000, an increase of
$17,000,000 over those of the year immediately preceding. This statement
is not the less welcome because of the fact that, notwithstanding such
increase, the proportion of exported agricultural products to our total
exports of all descriptions fell off during the year. The benefits of
an increase in agricultural exports being assured, the decrease in its
proportion to our total exports is the more gratifying when we consider
that it is owing to the fact that such total exports for the year
increased more than $75,000,000.
The large and increasing exportation of our agricultural products
suggests the great usefulness of the organization lately established in
the Department for the purpose of giving to those engaged in farming
pursuits reliable information concerning the condition, needs, and
advantages of different foreign markets. Inasmuch as the success of the
farmer depends upon the advantageous sale of his products, and inasmuch
as foreign markets must largely be the destination of such products,
it is quite apparent that a knowledge of the conditions and wants that
affect those markets ought to result in sowing more intelligently and
reaping with a better promise of profit. Such information points out the
way to a prudent foresight in the selection and cultivation of crops and
to a release from the bondage of unreasoning monotony of production, a
glutted and depressed market, and constantly recurring unprofitable toil.
In my opinion the gratuitous distribution of seeds by the Department
as at present conducted ought to be discontinued. No one can read the
statement of the Secretary on this subject and doubt the extravagance
and questionable results of this practice. The professed friends of the
farmer, and certainly the farmers themselves, are naturally expected
to be willing to rid a Department devoted to the promotion of farming
interests of a feature which tends so much to its discredit.
The Weather Bureau, now attached to the Department of Agriculture, has
continued to extend its sphere of usefulness, and by an uninterrupted
improvement in the accuracy of its forecasts has greatly increased its
efficiency as an aid and protection to all whose occupations are related
to weather conditions.
Omitting further reference to the operations of the Department, I
commend the Secretary's report and the suggestions it contains to the
careful consideration of the Congress.
The progress made in civil-service reform furnishes a cause for the
utmost congratulation. It has survived the doubts of its friends as well
as the rancor of its enemies and has gained a permanent place among the
agencies destined to cleanse our politics and to improve, economize, and
elevate the public service.
There are now in the competitive classified service upward of 84,000
places, more than half of these having been included from time to time
since March 4, 1893. A most radical and sweeping extension was made by
Executive order dated the 6th day of May, 1896, and if fourth-class
postmasterships are not included in the statement it may be said that
practically all positions contemplated by the civil-service law are now
classified. Abundant reasons exist for including these postmasterships,
based upon economy, improved service, and the peace and quiet of
neighborhoods. If, however, obstacles prevent such action at present,
I earnestly hope that Congress will, without increasing post-office
appropriations, so adjust them as to permit in proper cases a
consolidation of these post-offices, to the end that through this
process the result desired may to a limited extent be accomplished.
The civil-service rules as amended during the last year provide for a
sensible and uniform method of promotion, basing eligibility to better
positions upon demonstrated efficiency and faithfulness. The absence of
fixed rules on this subject has been an infirmity in the system more and
more apparent as its other benefits have been better appreciated.
The advantages of civil-service methods in their business aspects are
too well understood to require argument. Their application has become a
necessity to the executive work of the Government. But those who gain
positions through the operation of these methods should be made to
understand that the nonpartisan scheme through which they receive their
appointments demands from them by way of reciprocity nonpartisan and
faithful performance of duty under every Administration and cheerful
fidelity to every chief. While they should be encouraged to decently
exercise their rights of citizenship and to support through their
suffrages the political beliefs they honestly profess, the noisy,
pestilent, and partisan employee, who loves political turmoil and
contention or who renders lax and grudging service to an Administration
not representing his political views, should be promptly and fearlessly
dealt with in such a way as to furnish a warning to others who may be
The annual report of the Commissioners will be duly transmitted, and
I commend the important matter they have in charge to the careful
consideration of the Congress.
The Interstate Commerce Commission has during the last year supplied
abundant evidence of its usefulness and the importance of the work
committed to its charge.
Public transportation is a universal necessity, and the question of just
and reasonable charges therefor has become of vital importance not only
to shippers and carriers, but also to the vast multitude of producers
and consumers. The justice and equity of the principles embodied in the
existing law passed for the purpose of regulating these charges are
everywhere conceded, and there appears to be no question that the policy
thus entered upon has a permanent place in our legislation.
As the present statute when enacted was in the nature of the case more
or less tentative and experimental, it was hardly expected to supply a
complete and adequate system. While its wholesome effects are manifest
and have amply justified its enactment, it is evident that all desired
reforms in transportation methods have not been fully accomplished.
In view of the judicial interpretation which some provisions of this
statute have received and the defects disclosed by the efforts made for
its enforcement, its revision and amendment appear to be essential, to
the end that it may more effectually reach the evils designed to be
corrected. I hope the recommendations of the Commission upon this
subject will be promptly and favorably considered by the Congress.
I desire to recur to the statements elsewhere made concerning the
Government's receipts and expenditures for the purpose of venturing upon
some suggestions touching our present tariff law and its operation.
This statute took effect on the 28th day of August, 1894. Whatever may
be its shortcomings as a complete measure of tariff reform, it must be
conceded that it has opened the way to a freer and greater exchange of
commodities between us and other countries, and thus furnished a wider
market for our products and manufactures.
The only entire fiscal year during which this law has been in force
ended on the 30th day of June, 1896. In that year our imports increased
over those of the previous year more than $6,500,000, while the value
of the domestic products we exported and which found markets abroad was
nearly $70,000,000 more than during the preceding year.
Those who insist that the cost to our people of articles coming to
them from abroad for their needful use should only be increased through
tariff charges to an extent necessary to meet the expenses of the
Government, as well as those who claim that tariff charges may be laid
upon such articles beyond the necessities of Government revenue and with
the additional purpose of so increasing their price in our markets as
to give American manufacturers and producers better and more profitable
opportunities, must agree that our tariff laws are only primarily
justified as sources of revenue to enable the Government to meet the
necessary expenses of its maintenance. Considered as to its efficiency
in this aspect, the present law can by no means fall under just
condemnation. During the only complete fiscal year of its operation it
has yielded nearly $8,000,000 more revenue than was received from tariff
duties in the preceding year. There was, nevertheless, a deficit between
our receipts and expenditures of a little more than $25,000,000. This,
however, was not unexpected.
The situation was such in December last, seven months before the close
of the fiscal year, that the Secretary of the Treasury foretold a
deficiency of $17,000,000. The great and increasing apprehension and
timidity in business circles and the depression in all activities
intervening since that time, resulting from causes perfectly well
understood and entirely disconnected with our tariff law or its
operation, seriously checked the imports we would have otherwise
received and readily account for the difference between this estimate
of the Secretary and the actual deficiency, as well as for a continued
deficit. Indeed, it must be confessed that we could hardly have had a
more unfavorable period than the last two years for the collection of
tariff revenue. We can not reasonably hope that our recuperation from
this business depression will be sudden, but it has already set in with
a promise of acceleration and continuance.
I believe our present tariff law, if allowed a fair opportunity, will
in the near future yield a revenue which, with reasonably economical
expenditures, will overcome all deficiencies. In the meantime no deficit
that has occurred or may occur need excite or disturb us. To meet any
such deficit we have in the Treasury in addition to a gold reserve of
one hundred millions a surplus of more than $128,000,000 applicable
to the payment of the expenses of the Government, and which must,
unless expended for that purpose, remain a useless hoard, or, if not
extravagantly wasted, must in any event be perverted from the purpose of
its exaction from our people. The payment, therefore, of any deficiency
in the revenue from this fund is nothing more than its proper and
legitimate use. The Government thus applying a surplus fortunately in
its Treasury to the payment of expenses not met by its current revenues
is not at all to be likened to a man living beyond his income and thus
incurring debt or encroaching on his principal.
It is not one of the functions of our Government to accumulate
and make additions to a fund not needed for immediate expenditure.
With individuals it is the chief object of struggle and effort. The
application of an accumulated fund by the Government to the payment of
its running expenses is a duty. An individual living beyond his income
and embarrassing himself with debt or drawing upon his accumulated fund
of principal is either unfortunate or improvident. The distinction is
between a government charged with the duty of expending for the benefit
of the people and for proper purposes all the money it receives from any
source, and the individual, who is expected to manifest a natural desire
to avoid debt or to accumulate as much as possible and to live within
the income derived from such accumulations, to the end that they may be
increased or at least remain unimpaired for the future use and enjoyment
of himself or the objects of his love and affection who may survive him.
It is immeasurably better to appropriate our surplus to the payment
of justifiable expenses than to allow it to become an invitation to
reckless appropriations and extravagant expenditures.
I suppose it will not be denied that under the present law our people
obtain the necessaries of a comfortable existence at a cheaper rate
than formerly. This is a matter of supreme importance, since it is the
palpable duty of every just government to make the burdens of taxation
as light as possible. The people should not be required to relinquish
this privilege of cheaper living except under the stress of their
Government's necessity made plainly manifest.
This reference to the condition and prospects of our revenues naturally
suggests an allusion to the weakness and vices of our financial methods.
They have been frequently pressed upon the attention of Congress in
previous Executive communications and the inevitable danger of their
continued toleration pointed out. Without now repeating these details,
I can not refrain from again earnestly presenting the necessity of the
prompt reform of a system opposed to every rule of sound finance and
shown by experience to be fraught with the gravest peril and perplexity.
The terrible Civil War, which shook the foundations of our Government
more than thirty years ago, brought in its train the destruction of
property, the wasting of our country's substance, and the estrangement
of brethren. These are now past and forgotten. Even the distressing
loss of life the conflict entailed is but a sacred memory which fosters
patriotic sentiment and keeps alive a tender regard for those who
nobly died. And yet there remains with us to-day in full strength and
activity, as an incident of that tremendous struggle, a feature of its
financial necessities not only unsuited to our present circumstances,
but manifestly a disturbing menace to business security and an
ever-present agent of monetary distress.
Because we may be enjoying a temporary relief from its depressing
influence, this should not lull us into a false security nor lead us to
forget the suddenness of past visitations.
I am more convinced than ever that we can have no assured financial
peace and safety until the Government currency obligations upon which
gold may be demanded from the Treasury are withdrawn from circulation
and canceled. This might be done, as has been heretofore recommended,
by their exchange for long-term bonds bearing a low rate of interest or
by their redemption with the proceeds of such bonds. Even if only the
United States notes known as greenbacks were thus retired it is probable
that the Treasury notes issued in payment of silver purchases under the
act of July 14, 1890, now paid in gold when demanded, would not create
much disturbance, as they might from time to time, when received in the
Treasury by redemption in gold or otherwise, be gradually and prudently
replaced by silver coin.
This plan of issuing bonds for the purpose of redemption certainly
appears to be the most effective and direct path to the needed reform.
In default of this, however, it would be a step in the right direction
if currency obligations redeemable in gold whenever so redeemed should
be canceled instead of being reissued. This operation would be a slow
remedy, but it would improve present conditions.
National banks should redeem their own notes. They should be allowed to
issue circulation to the par value of bonds deposited as security for
its redemption and the tax on their circulation should be reduced to
one-fourth of 1 per cent.
In considering projects for the retirement of United States notes and
Treasury notes issued under the law of 1890, I am of the opinion that we
have placed too much stress upon the danger of contracting the currency
and have calculated too little upon the gold that would be added to our
circulation if invited to us by better and safer financial methods. It
is not so much a contraction of our currency that should be avoided as
its unequal distribution.
This might be obviated and any fear of harmful contraction at the same
time removed by allowing the organization of smaller banks and in less
populous communities than are now permitted, and also authorizing
existing banks to establish branches in small communities under proper
The entire case may be presented by the statement that the day of
sensible and sound financial methods will not dawn upon us until our
Government abandons the banking business and the accumulation of funds
and confines its monetary operations to the receipt of the money
contributed by the people for its support and to the expenditure of such
money for the people's benefit.
Our business interests and all good citizens long for rest from feverish
agitation and the inauguration by the Government of a reformed financial
policy which will encourage enterprise and make certain the rewards of
labor and industry.
Another topic in which our people rightfully take a deep interest
may be here briefly considered. I refer to the existence of trusts and
other huge aggregations of capital the object of which is to secure the
monopoly of some particular branch of trade, industry, or commerce and
to stifle wholesome competition. When these are defended, it is usually
on the ground that though they increase profits they also reduce prices,
and thus may benefit the public. It must be remembered, however, that
a reduction of prices to the people is not one of the real objects
of these organizations, nor is their tendency necessarily in that
direction. If it occurs in a particular case it is only because it
accords with the purposes or interests of those managing the scheme.
Such occasional results fall far short of compensating the palpable
evils charged to the account of trusts and monopolies. Their tendency
is to crush out individual independence and to hinder or prevent the
free use of human faculties and the full development of human character.
Through them the farmer, the artisan, and the small trader is in danger
of dislodgment from the proud position of being his own master, watchful
of all that touches his country's prosperity, in which he has an
individual lot, and interested in all that affects the advantages of
business of which he is a factor, to be relegated to the level of a mere
appurtenance to a great machine, with little free will, with no duty but
that of passive obedience, and with little hope or opportunity of rising
in the scale of responsible and helpful citizenship.
To the instinctive belief that such is the inevitable trend of trusts
and monopolies is due the widespread and deep-seated popular aversion in
which they are held and the not unreasonable insistence that, whatever
may be their incidental economic advantages, their general effect upon
personal character, prospects, and usefulness can not be otherwise than
Though Congress has attempted to deal with this matter by legislation,
the laws passed for that purpose thus far have proved ineffective, not
because of any lack of disposition or attempt to enforce them, but
simply because the laws themselves as interpreted by the courts do not
reach the difficulty. If the insufficiencies of existing laws can be
remedied by further legislation, it should be done. The fact must be
recognized, however, that all Federal legislation on this subject may
fall short of its purpose because of inherent obstacles and also because
of the complex character of our governmental system, which, while making
the Federal authority supreme within its sphere, has carefully limited
that sphere by metes and bounds that can not be transgressed. The
decision of our highest court on this precise question renders it quite
doubtful whether the evils of trusts and monopolies can be adequately
treated through Federal action unless they seek directly and purposely
to include in their objects transportation or intercourse between States
or between the United States and foreign countries.
It does not follow, however, that this is the limit of the remedy that
may be applied. Even though it may be found that Federal authority is
not broad enough to fully reach the case, there can be no doubt of the
power of the several States to act effectively in the premises, and
there should be no reason to doubt their willingness to judiciously
exercise such power.
In concluding this communication its last words shall be an appeal to
the Congress for the most rigid economy in the expenditure of the money
it holds in trust for the people. The way to perplexing extravagance
is easy, but a return to frugality is difficult. When, however, it is
considered that those who bear the burdens of taxation have no guaranty
of honest care save in the fidelity of their public servants, the duty
of all possible retrenchment is plainly manifest.
When our differences are forgotten and our contests of political
opinion are no longer remembered, nothing in the retrospect of our
public service will be as fortunate and comforting as the recollection
of official duty well performed and the memory of a constant devotion to
the interests of our confiding fellow-countrymen.