In discharge of a constitutional duty, and following a well-established
precedent in the Executive office, I herewith transmit to the Congress
at its reassembling certain information concerning the state of the
Union, together with such recommendations for legislative consideration
as appear necessary and expedient.
Our Government has consistently maintained its relations of friendship
toward all other powers and of neighborly interest toward those whose
possessions are contiguous to our own. Few questions have arisen during
the past year with other governments, and none of those are beyond the
reach of settlement in friendly counsel.
We are as yet without provision for the settlement of claims of citizens
of the United States against Chile for injustice during the late war
with Peru and Bolivia. The mixed commissions organized under claims
conventions concluded by the Chilean Government with certain European
States have developed an amount of friction which we trust can be
avoided in the convention which our representative at Santiago is
authorized to negotiate.
The cruel treatment of inoffensive Chinese has, I regret to say, been
repeated in some of the far Western States and Territories, and acts of
violence against those people, beyond the power of the local constituted
authorities to prevent and difficult to punish, are reported even in
distant Alaska. Much of this violence can be traced to race prejudice
and competition of labor, which can not, however, justify the oppression
of strangers whose safety is guaranteed by our treaty with China equally
with the most favored nations.
In opening our vast domain to alien elements the purpose of our
law-givers was to invite assimilation, and not to provide an arena for
endless antagonism. The paramount duty of maintaining public order and
defending the interests of our own people may require the adoption of
measures of restriction, but they should not tolerate the oppression
of individuals of a special race. I am not without assurance that the
Government of China, whose friendly disposition toward us I am most
happy to recognize, will meet us halfway in devising a comprehensive
remedy by which an effective limitation of Chinese emigration, joined to
protection of those Chinese subjects who remain in this country, may be
Legislation is needed to execute the provisions of our Chinese
convention of 1880 touching the opium traffic.
While the good will of the Colombian Government toward our country is
manifest, the situation of American interests on the Isthmus of Panama
has at times excited concern and invited friendly action looking to the
performance of the engagements of the two nations concerning the
territory embraced in the interoceanic transit. With the subsidence of
the Isthmian disturbances and the erection of the State of Panama into a
federal district under the direct government of the constitutional
administration at Bogota, a new order of things has been inaugurated,
which, although as yet somewhat experimental and affording scope for
arbitrary-exercise of power by the delegates of the national authority,
promises much improvement.
The sympathy between the people of the United States and France, born
during our colonial struggle for independence and continuing to-day, has
received a fresh impulse in the successful completion and dedication of
the colossal statue of "Liberty Enlightening the World" in New York
Harbor—the gift of Frenchmen to Americans.
A convention between the United States and certain other powers for the
protection of submarine cables was signed at Paris on March 14, 1884,
and has been duly ratified and proclaimed by this Government. By
agreement between the high contracting parties this convention is to go
into effect on the 1st of January next, but the legislation required for
its execution in the United States has not yet been adopted. I earnestly
recommend its enactment.
Cases have continued to occur in Germany giving rise to much
correspondence in relation to the privilege of sojourn of our
naturalized citizens of German origin revisiting the land of their
birth, yet I am happy to state that our relations with that country have
lost none of their accustomed cordiality.
The claims for interest upon the amount of tonnage dues illegally
exacted from certain German steamship lines were favorably reported in
both Houses of Congress at the last session, and I trust will receive
final and favorable action at an early day.
The recommendations contained in my last annual message in relation to a
mode of settlement of the fishery rights in the waters of British North
America, so long a subject of anxious difference between the United
States and Great Britain, was met by an adverse vote of the Senate on
April 13 last, and thereupon negotiations were instituted to obtain an
agreement with Her Britannic Majesty's Government for the promulgation
of such joint interpretation and definition of the article of the
convention of 1818 relating to the territorial waters and inshore
fisheries of the British Provinces as should secure the Canadian rights
from encroachment by the United States fishermen and at the same time
insure the enjoyment by the latter of the privileges guaranteed to them
by such convention.
The questions involved are of long standing, of grave consequence, and
from time to time for nearly three-quarters of a century have given rise
to earnest international discussions, not unaccompanied by irritation.
Temporary arrangements by treaties have served to allay friction, which,
however, has revived as each treaty was terminated. The last
arrangement, under the treaty of 1871, was abrogated after due notice by
the United States on June 30, 1885, but I was enabled to obtain for our
fishermen for the remainder of that season enjoyment of the full
privileges accorded by the terminated treaty.
The joint high commission by whom the treaty had been negotiated,
although invested with plenary power to make a permanent settlement,
were content with a temporary arrangement, after the termination of
which the question was relegated to the stipulations of the treaty of
1818, as to the first article of which no construction satisfactory to
both countries has ever been agreed upon.
The progress of civilization and growth of population in the British
Provinces to which the fisheries in question are contiguous and the
expansion of commercial intercourse between them and the United States
present to-day a condition of affairs scarcely realizable at the date of
the negotiations of 1818.
New and vast interests have been brought into existence; modes of
intercourse between the respective countries have been invented and
multiplied; the methods of conducting the fisheries have been wholly
changed; and all this is necessarily entitled to candid and careful
consideration in the adjustment of the terms and conditions of
intercourse and commerce between the United States and their neighbors
along a frontier of over 3,500 miles.
This propinquity, community of language and occupation, and similarity
of political and social institutions indicate the practicability and
obvious wisdom of maintaining mutually beneficial and friendly
relations. Whilst I am unfeignedly desirous that such relations should
exist between us and the inhabitants of Canada, yet the action of their
officials during the past season toward our fishermen has been such as
to seriously threaten their continuance.
Although disappointed in my efforts to secure a satisfactory settlement
of the fishery question, negotiations are still pending, with reasonable
hope that before the close of the present session of Congress
announcement may be made that an acceptable conclusion has been reached.
As at an early day there may be laid before Congress the correspondence
of the Department of State in relation to this important subject, so
that the history of the past fishing season may be fully disclosed and
the action and the attitude of the Administration clearly comprehended,
a more extended reference is not deemed necessary in this communication.
The recommendation submitted last year that provision be made for a
preliminary reconnoissance of the conventional boundary line between
Alaska and British Columbia is renewed.
I express my unhesitating conviction that the intimacy of our relations
with Hawaii should be emphasized. As a result of the reciprocity treaty
of 1875, those islands, on the highway of Oriental and Australasian
traffic, are virtually an outpost of American commerce and a
stepping-stone to the growing trade of the Pacific. The Polynesian
Island groups have been so absorbed by other and more powerful
governments that the Hawaiian Islands are left almost alone in the
enjoyment of their autonomy, which it is important for us should be
preserved. Our treaty is now terminable on one year's notice, but
propositions to abrogate it would be, in my judgment, most ill advised.
The paramount influence we have there acquired, once relinquished, could
only with difficulty be regained, and a valuable ground of vantage for
ourselves might be converted into a stronghold for our commercial
competitors. I earnestly recommend that the existing treaty stipulations
be extended for a further term of seven years. A recently signed treaty
to this end is now before the Senate.
The importance of telegraphic communication between those islands and
the United States should not be overlooked.
The question of a general revision of the treaties of Japan is again
under discussion at Tokyo. As the first to open relations with that
Empire, and as the nation in most direct commercial relations with
Japan, the United States have lost no opportunity to testify their
consistent friendship by supporting the just claims of Japan to autonomy
and independence among nations.
A treaty of extradition between the United States and Japan, the first
concluded by that Empire, has been lately proclaimed.
The weakness of Liberia and the difficulty of maintaining effective
sovereignty over its outlying districts have exposed that Republic to
encroachment. It can not be forgotten that this distant community is
an offshoot of our own system, owing its origin to the associated
benevolence of American citizens, whose praiseworthy efforts to create
a nucleus of civilization in the Dark Continent have commanded respect
and sympathy everywhere, especially in this country. Although a formal
protectorate over Liberia is contrary to our traditional policy, the
moral right and duty of the United States to assist in all proper
ways in the maintenance of its integrity is obvious, and has been
consistently announced during nearly half a century. I recommend that in
the reorganization of our Navy a small vessel, no longer found adequate
to our needs, be presented to Liberia, to be employed by it in the
protection of its coastwise revenues.
The encouraging development of beneficial and intimate relations between
the United States and Mexico, which has been so marked within the past
few years, is at once the occasion of congratulation and of friendly
solicitude. I urgently renew my former representation of the need of
speedy legislation by Congress to carry into effect the reciprocity
commercial convention of January 20, 1883.
Our commercial treaty of 1831 with Mexico was terminated, according to
its provisions, in 1881, upon notification given by Mexico in pursuance
of her announced policy of recasting all her commercial treaties. Mexico
has since concluded with several foreign governments new treaties of
commerce and navigation, defining alien rights of trade, property, and
residence, treatment of shipping, consular privileges, and the like.
Our yet unexecuted reciprocity convention of 1883 covers none of these
points, the settlement of which is so necessary to good relationship.
I propose to initiate with Mexico negotiations for a new and enlarged
treaty of commerce and navigation.
In compliance with a resolution of the Senate, I communicated to that
body on August 2 last, and also to the House of Representatives, the
correspondence in the case of A.K. Cutting, an American citizen, then
imprisoned in Mexico, charged with the commission of a penal offense in
Texas, of which a Mexican citizen was the object.
After demand had been made for his release the charge against him was
amended so as to include a violation of Mexican law within Mexican
This joinder of alleged offenses, one within and the other exterior to
Mexico, induced me to order a special investigation of the case, pending
which Mr. Cutting was released.
The incident has, however, disclosed a claim of jurisdiction by Mexico
novel in our history, whereby any offense committed anywhere by a
foreigner, penal in the place of its commission, and of which a Mexican
is the object, may, if the offender be found in Mexico, be there tried
and punished in conformity with Mexican laws.
This jurisdiction was sustained by the courts of Mexico in the Cutting
case, and approved by the executive branch of that Government, upon the
authority of a Mexican statute. The appellate court in releasing Mr.
Cutting decided that the abandonment of the complaint by the Mexican
citizen aggrieved by the alleged crime (a libelous publication) removed
the basis of further prosecution, and also declared justice to have been
satisfied by the enforcement of a small part of the original sentence.
The admission of such a pretension would be attended with serious
results, invasive of the jurisdiction of this Government and highly
dangerous to our citizens in foreign lands. Therefore I have denied it
and protested against its attempted exercise as unwarranted by the
principles of law and international usages.
A sovereign has jurisdiction of offenses which take effect within his
territory, although concocted or commenced outside of it; but the right
is denied of any foreign sovereign to punish a citizen of the United
States for an offense consummated on our soil in violation of our laws,
even though the offense be against a subject or citizen of such
sovereign. The Mexican statute in question makes the claim broadly, and
the principle, if conceded, would create a dual responsibility in the
citizen and lead to inextricable confusion, destructive of that
certainty in the law which is an essential of liberty.
When citizens of the United States voluntarily go into a foreign
country, they must abide by the laws there in force, and will not be
protected by their own Government from the consequences of an offense
against those laws committed in such foreign country; but watchful care
and interest of this Government over its citizens are not relinquished
because they have gone abroad, and if charged with crime committed in
the foreign land a fair and open trial, conducted with decent regard for
justice and humanity, will be demanded for them. With less than that
this Government will not be content when the life or liberty of its
citizens is at stake.
Whatever the degree to which extraterritorial criminal jurisdiction may
have been formerly allowed by consent and reciprocal agreement among
certain of the European States, no such doctrine or practice was ever
known to the laws of this country or of that from which our institutions
have mainly been derived.
In the case of Mexico there are reasons especially strong for perfect
harmony in the mutual exercise of jurisdiction. Nature has made us
irrevocably neighbors, and wisdom and kind feeling should make us
The overflow of capital and enterprise from the United States is a
potent factor in assisting the development of the resources of Mexico
and in building up the prosperity of both countries.
To assist this good work all grounds of apprehension for the security of
person and property should be removed; and I trust that in the interests
of good neighborhood the statute referred to will be so modified as to
eliminate the present possibilities of danger to the peace of the two
The Government of the Netherlands has exhibited concern in relation to
certain features of our tariff laws, which are supposed by them to be
aimed at a class of tobacco produced in the Dutch East Indies. Comment
would seem unnecessary upon the unwisdom of legislation appearing to
have a special national discrimination for its object, which, although
unintentional, may give rise to injurious retaliation.
The establishment, less than four years ago, of a legation at Teheran is
bearing fruit in the interest exhibited by the Shah's Government in the
industrial activity of the United States and the opportunities of
Stable government is now happily restored in Peru by the election of a
constitutional President, and a period of rehabilitation is entered
upon; but the recovery is necessarily slow from the exhaustion caused by
the late war and civil disturbances. A convention to adjust by
arbitration claims of our citizens has been proposed and is under
The naval officer who bore to Siberia the testimonials bestowed by
Congress in recognition of the aid given to the Jeannette
survivors has successfully accomplished his mission. His interesting
report will be submitted. It is pleasant to know that this mark of
appreciation has been welcomed by the Russian Government and people as
befits the traditional friendship of the two countries.
Civil perturbations in the Samoan Islands have during the past
few years been a source of considerable embarrassment to the three
Governments—Germany, Great Britain, and the United States—whose
relations and extraterritorial rights in that important group are
guaranteed by treaties. The weakness of the native administration and
the conflict of opposing interests in the islands have led King Malietoa
to seek alliance or protection in some one quarter, regardless of the
distinct engagements whereby no one of the three treaty powers may
acquire any paramount or exclusive interest. In May last Malietoa
offered to place Samoa under the protection of the United States, and
the late consul, without authority, assumed to grant it. The proceeding
was promptly disavowed and the overzealous official recalled. Special
agents of the three Governments have been deputed to examine the
situation in the islands. With a change in the representation of all
three powers and a harmonious understanding between them, the peace,
prosperity, autonomous administration, and neutrality of Samoa can
hardly fail to be secured.
It appearing that the Government of Spain did not extend to the flag of
the United States in the Antilles the full measure of reciprocity
requisite under our statute for the continuance of the suspension of
discriminations against the Spanish flag in our ports, I was constrained
in October last to rescind my predecessor's proclamation of February
14, 1884, permitting such suspension. An arrangement was, however,
speedily reached, and upon notification from the Government of Spain
that all differential treatment of our vessels and their cargoes, from
the United States or from any foreign country, had been completely and
absolutely relinquished, I availed myself of the discretion conferred by
law and issued on the 27th of October my proclamation declaring
reciprocal suspension in the United States. It is most gratifying to
bear testimony to the earnest spirit in which the Government of the
Queen Regent has met our efforts to avert the initiation of commercial
discriminations and reprisals, which are ever disastrous to the material
interests and the political good will of the countries they may affect.
The profitable development of the large commercial exchanges between
the United States and the Spanish Antilles is naturally an object of
solicitude. Lying close at our doors, and finding here their main
markets of supply and demand, the welfare of Cuba and Puerto Rico and
their production and trade are scarcely less important to us than to
Spain. Their commercial and financial movements are so naturally a part
of our system that no obstacle to fuller and freer intercourse should be
permitted to exist. The standing instructions of our representatives at
Madrid and Havana have for years been to leave no effort unessayed to
further these ends, and at no time has the equal good desire of Spain
been more hopefully manifested than now.
The Government of Spain, by removing the consular tonnage fees on
cargoes shipped to the Antilles and by reducing passport fees, has shown
its recognition of the needs of less trammeled intercourse.
An effort has been made during the past year to remove the hindrances to
the proclamation of the treaty of naturalization with the Sublime Porte,
signed in 1874, which has remained inoperative owing to a disagreement
of interpretation of the clauses relative to the effects of the return
to and sojourn of a naturalized citizen in the land of origin. I trust
soon to be able to announce a favorable settlement of the differences as
to this interpretation.
It has been highly satisfactory to note the improved treatment of
American missionaries in Turkey, as has been attested by their
acknowledgments to our late minister to that Government of his
successful exertions in their behalf.
The exchange of ratifications of the convention of December 5, 1885,
with Venezuela, for the reopening of the awards of the Caracas
Commission under the claims convention of 1866, has not yet been
effected, owing to the delay of the Executive of that Republic in
ratifying the measure. I trust that this postponement will be brief; but
should it much longer continue, the delay may well be regarded as a
rescission of the compact and a failure on the part of Venezuela to
complete an arrangement so persistently sought by her during many years
and assented to by this Government in a spirit of international
fairness, although to the detriment of holders of bona fide
awards of the impugned commission.
I renew the recommendation of my last annual message that existing
legislation concerning citizenship and naturalization be revised. We
have treaties with many states providing for the renunciation of
citizenship by naturalized aliens, but no statute is found to give
effect to such engagements, nor any which provides a needed central
bureau for the registration of naturalized citizens.
Experience suggests that our statutes regulating extradition might
be advantageously amended by a provision for the transit across our
territory, now a convenient thoroughfare of travel from one foreign
country to another, of fugitives surrendered by a foreign government to
a third state. Such provisions are not unusual in the legislation of
other countries, and tend to prevent the miscarriage of justice. It is
also desirable, in order to remove present uncertainties, that authority
should be conferred on the Secretary of State to issue a certificate, in
case of an arrest for the purpose of extradition, to the officer before
whom the proceeding is pending, showing that a requisition for the
surrender of the person charged has been duly made. Such a certificate,
if required to be received before the prisoner's examination, would
prevent a long and expensive judicial inquiry into a charge which the
foreign government might not desire to press. I also recommend that
express provision be made for the immediate discharge from custody of
persons committed for extradition where the President is of opinion that
surrender should not be made.
The drift of sentiment in civilized communities toward full recognition
of the rights of property in the creations of the human intellect has
brought about the adoption by many important nations of an international
copyright convention, which was signed at Berne on the 18th of
Inasmuch as the Constitution gives to the Congress the power "to promote
the progress of science and useful arts by securing for limited times to
authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings
and discoveries," this Government did not feel warranted in becoming a
signatory pending the action of Congress upon measures of international
copyright now before it; but the right of adhesion to the Berne
convention hereafter has been reserved. I trust the subject will receive
at your hands the attention it deserves, and that the just claims of
authors, so urgently pressed, will be duly heeded.
Representations continue to be made to me of the injurious effect upon
American artists studying abroad and having free access to the art
collections of foreign countries of maintaining a discriminating duty
against the introduction of the works of their brother artists of other
countries, and I am induced to repeat my recommendation for the
abolition of that tax.
Pursuant to a provision of the diplomatic and consular appropriation act
approved July 1, 1886, the estimates submitted by the Secretary of State
for the maintenance of the consular service have been recast on the
basis of salaries for all officers to whom such allowance is deemed
advisable. Advantage has been taken of this to redistribute the salaries
of the offices now appropriated for, in accordance with the work
performed, the importance of the representative duties of the incumbent,
and the cost of living at each post. The last consideration has been too
often lost sight of in the allowances heretofore made. The compensation
which may suffice for the decent maintenance of a worthy and capable
officer in a position of onerous and representative trust at a post
readily accessible, and where the necessaries of life are abundant and
cheap, may prove an inadequate pittance in distant lands, where the
better part of a year's pay is consumed in reaching the post of duty,
and where the comforts of ordinary civilized existence can only be
obtained with difficulty and at exorbitant cost. I trust that in
considering the submitted schedules no mistaken theory of economy will
perpetuate a system which in the past has virtually closed to deserving
talent many offices where capacity and attainments of a high order are
indispensable, and in not a few instances has brought discredit on our
national character and entailed embarrassment and even suffering on
those deputed to uphold our dignity and interests abroad.
In connection with this subject I earnestly reiterate the practical
necessity of supplying some mode of trustworthy inspection and report of
the manner in which the consulates are conducted. In the absence of such
reliable information efficiency can scarcely be rewarded or its opposite
Increasing competition in trade has directed attention to the value of
the consular reports printed by the Department of State, and the efforts
of the Government to extend the practical usefulness of these reports
have created a wider demand for them at home and a spirit of emulation
abroad. Constituting a record of the changes occurring in trade and of
the progress of the arts and invention in foreign countries, they are
much sought for by all interested in the subjects which they embrace.
The report of the Secretary of the Treasury exhibits in detail the
condition of the public finances and of the several branches of the
Government related to his Department. I especially direct the attention
of the Congress to the recommendations contained in this and the last
preceding report of the Secretary touching the simplification and
amendment of the laws relating to the collection of our revenues, and in
the interest of economy and justice to the Government I hope they may be
adopted by appropriate legislation.
The ordinary receipts of the Government for the fiscal year ended June
30, 1886, were $336,439,727.06. Of this amount $192,905,023.41 was
received from customs and $116,805,936.48 from internal revenue. The
total receipts, as here stated, were $13,749,020.68 greater than for the
previous year, but the increase from customs was $11,434,084.10 and from
internal revenue $4,407,210.94, making a gain in these items for the
last year of $15,841,295.04, a falling off in other resources reducing
the total increase to the smaller amount mentioned.
The expense at the different custom-houses of collecting this increased
customs revenue was less than the expense attending the collection of
such revenue for the preceding year by $490,608, and the increased
receipts of internal revenue were collected at a cost to the
Internal-Revenue Bureau $155,944.99 less than the expense of such
collection for the previous year.
The total ordinary expenses of the Government for the fiscal year ended
June 30, 1886, were $242,483,138.50, being less by $17,788,797 than such
expenditures for the year preceding, and leaving a surplus in the
Treasury at the close of the last fiscal year of $93,956,588.56, as
against $63,463,771.27 at the close of the previous year, being an
increase in such surplus of $30,492,817.29.
The expenditures are compared with those of the preceding fiscal year
and classified as follows:
Year ending June 30, 1886.
Year ending June 30, 1885.
For civil expenses
For foreign intercourse
For the military, including river and harbor improvements and arsenals
For the Navy, including vessels,
machinery, and improvement of
For interest on public debt
For the District of Columbia
Miscellaneous expenditures, including
public buildings, light-houses, and
collecting the revenue
For the current year to end June 30, 1887, the ascertained receipts up
to October 1, 1886, with such receipts estimated for the remainder of
the year, amount to $356,000,000.
The expenditures ascertained and estimated for the same period are
$266,000,000, indicating an anticipated surplus at the close of the year
The total value of the exports from the United States to foreign
countries during the fiscal year is stated and compared with the
preceding year as follows:
For the year ending June 30, 1886.
For the year ending June 30, 1885.
The value of some of our leading exports during the last fiscal year, as
compared with the value of the same for the year immediately preceding,
is here given, and furnishes information both interesting and suggestive:
For the year ending June 30, 1886.
For the year ending June 30, 1885.
Cotton and cotton manufactures
Tobacco and its manufactures
Our imports during the last fiscal year, as compared with the previous
year, were as follows:
For the year ending June 30, 1886.
For the year ending June 30, 1885.
In my last annual message to the Congress attention was directed to the
fact that the revenues of the Government exceeded its actual needs, and
it was suggested that legislative action should be taken to relieve the
people from the unnecessary burden of taxation thus made apparent.
In view of the pressing importance of the subject I deem it my duty to
again urge its consideration.
The income of the Government, by its increased volume and through
economies in its collection, is now more than ever in excess of public
necessities. The application of the surplus to the payment of such
portion of the public debt as is now at our option subject to
extinguishment, if continued at the rate which has lately prevailed,
would retire that class of indebtedness within less than one year from
this date. Thus a continuation of our present revenue system would soon
result in the receipt of an annual income much greater than necessary to
meet Government expenses, with no indebtedness upon which it could be
applied. We should then be confronted with a vast quantity of money, the
circulating medium of the people, hoarded in the Treasury when it should
be in their hands, or we should be drawn into wasteful public
extravagance, with all the corrupting national demoralization which
follows in its train.
But it is not the simple existence of this surplus and its threatened
attendant evils which furnish the strongest argument against our present
scale of Federal taxation. Its worst phase is the exaction of such a
surplus through a perversion of the relations between the people and
their Government and a dangerous departure from the rules which limit
the right of Federal taxation.
Good government, and especially the government of which every American
citizen boasts, has for its objects the protection of every person
within its care in the greatest liberty consistent with the good order
of society and his perfect security in the enjoyment of his earnings
with the least possible diminution for public needs. When more of the
people's substance is exacted through the form of taxation than is
necessary to meet the just obligations of the Government and the expense
of its economical administration, such exaction becomes ruthless
extortion and a violation of the fundamental principles of a free
The indirect manner in which these exactions are made has a tendency to
conceal their true character and their extent. But we have arrived at a
stage of superfluous revenue which has aroused the people to a
realization of the fact that the amount raised professedly for the
support of the Government is paid by them as absolutely if added to the
price of the things which supply their daily wants as if it was paid at
fixed periods into the hand of the taxgatherer.
Those who toil for daily wages are beginning to understand that capital,
though sometimes vaunting its importance and clamoring for the
protection and favor of the Government, is dull and sluggish till,
touched by the magical hand of labor, it springs into activity,
furnishing an occasion for Federal taxation and gaining the value which
enables it to bear its burden. And the laboring man is thoughtfully
inquiring whether in these circumstances, and considering the tribute he
constantly pays into the public Treasury as he supplies his daily wants,
he receives his fair share of advantages.
There is also a suspicion abroad that the surplus of our revenues
indicates abnormal and exceptional business profits, which, under the
system which produces such surplus, increase without corresponding
benefit to the people at large the vast accumulations of a few among our
citizens, whose fortunes, rivaling the wealth of the most favored in
antidemocratic nations, are not the natural growth of a steady, plain,
and industrious republic.
Our farmers, too, and those engaged directly and indirectly in supplying
the products of agriculture, see that day by day, and as often as the
daily wants of their households recur, they are forced to pay excessive
and needless taxation, while their products struggle in foreign markets
with the competition of nations, which, by allowing a freer exchange of
productions than we permit, enable their people to sell for prices which
distress the American farmer.
As every patriotic citizen rejoices in the constantly increasing pride
of our people in American citizenship and in the glory of our national
achievements and progress, a sentiment prevails that the leading strings
useful to a nation in its infancy may well be to a great extent
discarded in the present stage of American ingenuity, courage, and
fearless self-reliance; and for the privilege of indulging this
sentiment with true American enthusiasm our citizens are quite willing
to forego an idle surplus in the public Treasury.
And all the people know that the average rate of Federal taxation upon
imports is to-day, in time of peace, but little less, while upon some
articles of necessary consumption it is actually more, than was imposed
by the grievous burden willingly borne at a time when the Government
needed millions to maintain by war the safety and integrity of the
It has been the policy of the Government to collect the principal part
of its revenues by a tax upon imports, and no change in this policy is
desirable. But the present condition of affairs constrains our people to
demand that by a revision of our revenue laws the receipts of the
Government shall be reduced to the necessary expense of its economical
administration; and this demand should be recognized and obeyed by the
people's representatives in the legislative branch of the Government.
In readjusting the burdens of Federal taxation a sound public policy
requires that such of our citizens as have built up large and important
industries under present conditions should not be suddenly and to their
injury deprived of advantages to which they have adapted their business;
but if the public good requires it they should be content with such
consideration as shall deal fairly and cautiously with their interests,
while the just demand of the people for relief from needless taxation is
A reasonable and timely submission to such a demand should certainly be
possible without disastrous shock to any interest; and a cheerful
concession sometimes averts abrupt and heedless action, often the
outgrowth of impatience and delayed justice.
Due regard should be also accorded in any proposed readjustment to the
interests of American labor so far as they are involved. We congratulate
ourselves that there is among us no laboring class fixed within
unyielding bounds and doomed under all conditions to the inexorable fate
of daily toil. We recognize in labor a chief factor in the wealth of the
Republic, and we treat those who have it in their keeping as citizens
entitled to the most careful regard and thoughtful attention. This
regard and attention should be awarded them, not only because labor is
the capital of our workingmen, justly entitled to its share of
Government favor, but for the further and not less important reason that
the laboring man, surrounded by his family in his humble home, as a
consumer is vitally interested in all that cheapens the cost of living
and enables him to bring within his domestic circle additional comforts
This relation of the workingman to the revenue laws of the country and
the manner in which it palpably influences the question of wages should
not be forgotten in the justifiable prominence given to the proper
maintenance of the supply and protection of well-paid labor. And these
considerations suggest such an arrangement of Government revenues as
shall reduce the expense of living, while it does not curtail the
opportunity for work nor reduce the compensation of American labor and
injuriously affect its condition and the dignified place it holds in the
estimation of our people.
But our farmers and agriculturists—those who from the soil produce the
things consumed by all—are perhaps more directly and plainly concerned
than any other of our citizens in a just and careful system of Federal
taxation. Those actually engaged in and more remotely connected with
this kind of work number nearly one-half of our population. None labor
harder or more continuously than they. No enactments limit their hours
of toil and no interposition of the Government enhances to any great
extent the value of their products. And yet for many of the necessaries
and comforts of life, which the most scrupulous economy enables them to
bring into their homes, and for their implements of husbandry, they are
obliged to pay a price largely increased by an unnatural profit, which
by the action of the Government is given to the more favored
I recommend that, keeping in view all these considerations, the
increasing and unnecessary surplus of national income annually
accumulating be released to the people by an amendment to our revenue
laws which shall cheapen the price of the necessaries of life and give
freer entrance to such imported materials as by American labor may be
manufactured into marketable commodities.
Nothing can be accomplished, however, in the direction of this
much-needed reform unless the subject is approached in a patriotic
spirit of devotion to the interests of the entire country and with a
willingness to yield something for the public good.
The sum paid upon the public debt during the fiscal year ended June 30,
1886, was $44,551,043.36.
During the twelve months ended October 31, 1886, 3 per cent bonds were
called for redemption amounting to $127,283,100, of which $80,643,200
was so called to answer the requirements of the law relating to the
sinking fund and $46,639,900 for the purpose of reducing the public debt
by application of a part of the surplus in the Treasury to that object.
Of the bonds thus called $102,269,450 became subject under such calls to
redemption prior to November 1, 1886. The remainder, amounting to
$25,013,650, matured under the calls after that date.
In addition to the amount subject to payment and cancellation prior
to November 1, there were also paid before that day certain of these
bonds, with the interest thereon, amounting to $5,072,350, which were
anticipated as to their maturity, of which $2,664,850 had not been
called. Thus $107,341,800 had been actually applied prior to the 1st of
November, 1886, to the extinguishment of our bonded and interest-bearing
debt, leaving on that day still outstanding the sum of $1,153,443,112.
Of this amount $86,848,700 were still represented by 3 per cent bonds.
They, however, have been since November 1, or will at once be, further
reduced by $22,606,150, being bonds which have been called, as already
stated, but not redeemed and canceled before the latter date.
During the fiscal year ended June 30, 1886, there were coined, under the
compulsory silver-coinage act of 1878, 29,838,905 silver dollars, and
the cost of the silver used in such coinage was $23,448,960.01. There
had been coined up to the close of the previous fiscal year under the
provisions of the law 203,882,554 silver dollars, and on the 1st day of
December, 1886, the total amount of such coinage was $247,131,549.
The Director of the Mint reports that at the time of the passage of the
law of 1878 directing this coinage the intrinsic value of the dollars
thus coined was 94-1/4 cents each, and that on the 31st day of July,
1886, the price of silver reached the lowest stage ever known, so that
the intrinsic or bullion price of our standard silver dollar at that
date was less than 72 cents. The price of silver on the 30th day of
November last was such as to make these dollars intrinsically worth 78
These differences in value of the coins represent the fluctuations in
the price of silver, and they certainly do not indicate that compulsory
coinage by the Government enhances the price of that commodity or
secures uniformity in its value.
Every fair and legal effort has been made by the Treasury Department
to distribute this currency among the people. The withdrawal of
United States Treasury notes of small denominations and the issuing
of small silver certificates have been resorted to in the endeavor to
accomplish this result, in obedience to the will and sentiments of
the representatives of the people in the Congress. On the 27th day
of November, 1886, the people held of these coins, or certificates
representing them, the nominal sum of $166,873,041, and we still had
$79,464,345 in the Treasury, as against about $142,894,055 so in the
hands of the people and $72,865,376 remaining in the Treasury one year
ago. The Director of the Mint again urges the necessity of more vault
room for the purpose of storing these silver dollars which are not
needed for circulation by the people.
I have seen no reason to change the views expressed in my last annual
message on the subject of this compulsory coinage, and I again urge its
suspension on all the grounds contained in my former recommendation,
reenforced by the significant increase of our gold exportations during
the last year, as appears by the comparative statement herewith
presented, and for the further reasons that the more this currency is
distributed among the people the greater becomes our duty to protect it
from disaster, that we now have abundance for all our needs, and that
there seems but little propriety in building vaults to store such
currency when the only pretense for its coinage is the necessity of its
use by the people as a circulating medium.
The great number of suits now pending in the United States courts for
the southern district of New York growing out of the collection of
customs revenue at the port of New York and the number of such suits
that are almost daily instituted are certainly worthy the attention of
the Congress. These legal controversies, based upon conflicting views by
importers and the collector as to the interpretation of our present
complex and indefinite revenue laws, might be largely obviated by an
amendment of those laws.
But pending such amendment the present condition of this litigation
should be relieved. There are now pending about 2,500 of these suits.
More than 1,100 have been commenced within the past eighteen months, and
many of the others have been at issue for more than twenty-five years.
These delays subject the Government to loss of evidence and prevent the
preparation necessary to defeat unjust and fictitious claims, while
constantly accruing interest threatens to double the demands involved.
In the present condition of the dockets of the courts, well filled with
private suits, and of the force allowed the district attorney, no
greater than is necessary for the ordinary and current business of his
office, these revenue litigations can not be considered.
In default of the adoption by the Congress of a plan for the general
reorganization of the Federal courts, as has been heretofore
recommended, I urge the propriety of passing a law permitting the
appointment of an additional Federal judge in the district where these
Government suits have accumulated, so that by continuous sessions of the
courts devoted to the trial of these cases they may be determined.
It is entirely plain that a great saving to the Government would be
accomplished by such a remedy, and the suitors who have honest claims
would not be denied justice through delay.
The report of the Secretary of War gives a detailed account of the
administration of his Department and contains sundry recommendations for
the improvement of the service, which I fully approve.
The Army consisted at the date of the last consolidated return of 2,103
officers and 24,946 enlisted men.
The expenses of the Department for the last fiscal year were
$36,990,903.38, including $6,294,305.43 for public works and river and
I especially direct the attention of the Congress to the recommendation
that officers be required to submit to an examination as a preliminary
to their promotion. I see no objection, but many advantages, in adopting
this feature, which has operated so beneficially in our Navy Department,
as well as in some branches of the Army.
The subject of coast defenses and fortifications has been fully and
carefully treated by the Board on Fortifications, whose report was
submitted at the last session of Congress; but no construction work of
the kind recommended by the board has been possible during the last year
from the lack of appropriations for such purpose.
The defenseless condition of our seacoast and lake frontier is perfectly
palpable. The examinations made must convince us all that certain of our
cities named in the report of the board should be fortified and that
work on the most important of these fortifications should be commenced
at once. The work has been thoroughly considered and laid out, the
Secretary of War reports, but all is delayed in default of Congressional
The absolute necessity, judged by all standards of prudence and
foresight, of our preparation for an effectual resistance against the
armored ships and steel guns and mortars of modern construction which
may threaten the cities on our coasts is so apparent that I hope
effective steps will be taken in that direction immediately.
The valuable and suggestive treatment of this question by the Secretary
of War is earnestly commended to the consideration of the Congress.
In September and October last the hostile Apaches who, under the
leadership of Geronimo, had for eighteen months been on the war path,
and during that time had committed many murders and been the cause of
constant terror to the settlers of Arizona, surrendered to General
Miles, the military commander who succeeded General Crook in the
management and direction of their pursuit.
Under the terms of their surrender as then reported, and in view of the
understanding which these murderous savages seemed to entertain of the
assurances given them, it was considered best to imprison them in such
manner as to prevent their ever engaging in such outrages again, instead
of trying them for murder. Fort Pickens having been selected as a safe
place of confinement, all the adult males were sent thither and will be
closely guarded as prisoners. In the meantime the residue of the band,
who, though still remaining upon the reservation, were regarded as
unsafe and suspected of furnishing aid to those on the war path, had
been removed to Fort Marion. The women and larger children of the
hostiles were also taken there, and arrangements have been made for
putting the children of proper age in Indian schools.
The report of the Secretary of the Navy contains a detailed exhibit of
the condition of his Department, with such a statement of the action
needed to improve the same as should challenge the earnest attention of
The present Navy of the United States, aside from the ships in course of
construction, consists of—
First. Fourteen single-turreted monitors, none of which are in
commission nor at the present time serviceable. The batteries of these
ships are obsolete, and they can only be relied upon as auxiliary ships
in harbor defense, and then after such an expenditure upon them as might
not be deemed justifiable.
Second. Five fourth-rate vessels of small tonnage, only one of which was
designed as a war vessel, and all of which are auxiliary merely.
Third. Twenty-seven cruising ships, three of which are built of iron, of
small tonnage, and twenty-four of wood. Of these wooden vessels it is
estimated by the Chief Constructor of the Navy that only three will be
serviceable beyond a period of six years, at which time it may be said
that of the present naval force nothing worthy the name will remain.
All the vessels heretofore authorized are under contract or in course
of construction except the armored ships, the torpedo and dynamite
boats, and one cruiser. As to the last of these, the bids were in excess
of the limit fixed by Congress. The production in the United States of
armor and gun steel is a question which it seems necessary to settle
at an early day if the armored war vessels are to be completed with
those materials of home manufacture. This has been the subject of
investigation by two boards and by two special committees of Congress
within the last three years. The report of the Gun Foundry Board in
1884, of the Board on Fortifications made in January last, and the
reports of the select committees of the two Houses made at the last
session of Congress have entirely exhausted the subject, so far as
preliminary investigation is involved, and in their recommendations they
are substantially agreed.
In the event that the present invitation of the Department for bids to
furnish such of this material as is now authorized shall fail to induce
domestic manufacturers to undertake the large expenditures required to
prepare for this new manufacture, and no other steps are taken by
Congress at its coming session, the Secretary contemplates with
dissatisfaction the necessity of obtaining abroad the armor and the gun
steel for the authorized ships. It would seem desirable that the wants
of the Army and the Navy in this regard should be reasonably met, and
that by uniting their contracts such inducement might be offered as
would result in securing the domestication of these important interests.
The affairs of the postal service show marked and gratifying improvement
during the past year. A particular account of its transactions and
condition is given in the report of the Postmaster-General, which will
be laid before you.
The reduction of the rate of letter postage in 1883, rendering the
postal revenues inadequate to sustain the expenditures, and business
depression also contributing, resulted in an excess of cost for the
fiscal year ended June 30, 1885, of eight and one-third millions of
dollars. An additional check upon receipts by doubling the measure of
weight in rating sealed correspondence and diminishing one-half the
charge for newspaper carriage was imposed by legislation which took
effect with the beginning of the past fiscal year, while the constant
demand of our territorial development and growing population for the
extension and increase of mail facilities and machinery necessitates
steady annual advance in outlay, and the careful estimate of a year ago
upon the rates of expenditure then existing contemplated the unavoidable
augmentation of the deficiency in the last fiscal year by nearly
$2,000,000. The anticipated revenue for the last year failed of
realization by about $64,000, but proper measures of economy have so
satisfactorily limited the growth of expenditure that the total
deficiency in fact fell below that of 1885, and at this time the
increase of revenue is in a gaining ratio over the increase of cost,
demonstrating the sufficiency of the present rates of postage ultimately
to sustain the service. This is the more pleasing because our people
enjoy now both cheaper postage proportionably to distances and a vaster
and more costly service than any other upon the globe.
Retrenchment has been effected in the cost of supplies, some
expenditures unwarranted by law have ceased, and the outlays for mail
carriage have been subjected to beneficial scrutiny. At the close of the
last fiscal year the expense of transportation on star routes stood at
an annual rate of cost less by over $560,000 than at the close of the
previous year and steamboat and mail-messenger service at nearly
The service has been in the meantime enlarged and extended by the
establishment of new offices, increase of routes of carriage, expansion
of carrier-delivery conveniences, and additions to the railway mail
facilities, in accordance with the growing exigencies of the country and
the long-established policy of the Government.
The Postmaster-General calls attention to the existing law for
compensating railroads and expresses the opinion that a method may be
devised which will prove more just to the carriers and beneficial to the
Government; and the subject appears worthy of your early consideration.
The differences which arose during the year with certain of the ocean
steamship companies have terminated by the acquiescence of all in the
policy of the Government approved by the Congress in the postal
appropriation at its last session, and the Department now enjoys the
utmost service afforded by all vessels which sail from our ports upon
either ocean—a service generally adequate to the needs of our
intercourse. Petitions have, however, been presented to the Department
by numerous merchants and manufacturers for the establishment of a
direct service to the Argentine Republic and for semimonthly dispatches
to the Empire of Brazil, and the subject is commended to your
consideration. It is an obvious duty to provide the means of postal
communication which our commerce requires, and with prudent forecast of
results the wise extension of it may lead to stimulating intercourse and
become the harbinger of a profitable traffic which will open new avenues
for the disposition of the products of our industry. The circumstances
of the countries at the far south of our continent are such as to invite
our enterprise and afford the promise of sufficient advantages to
justify an unusual effort to bring about the closer relations which
greater freedom of communication would tend to establish.
I suggest that, as distinguished from a grant or subsidy for the mere
benefit of any line of trade or travel, whatever outlay may be required
to secure additional postal service, necessary and proper and not
otherwise attainable, should be regarded as within the limit of
legitimate compensation for such service.
The extension of the free-delivery service as suggested by the
Post-master-General has heretofore received my sanction, and it is to be
hoped a suitable enactment may soon be agreed upon.
The request for an appropriation sufficient to enable the general
inspection of fourth-class offices has my approbation.
I renew my approval of the recommendation of the Postmaster-General that
another assistant be provided for the Post-Office Department, and I
invite your attention to the several other recommendations in his
The conduct of the Department of Justice for the last fiscal year is
fully detailed in the report of the Attorney-General, and I invite the
earnest attention of the Congress to the same and due consideration of
the recommendations therein contained.
In the report submitted by this officer to the last session of the
Congress he strongly recommended the erection of a penitentiary for the
confinement of prisoners convicted and sentenced in the United States
courts, and he repeats the recommendation in his report for the last
This is a matter of very great importance and should at once receive
Congressional action. United States prisoners are now confined in more
than thirty different State prisons and penitentiaries scattered in
every part of the country. They are subjected to nearly as many
different modes of treatment and discipline and are far too much removed
from the control and regulation of the Government. So far as they are
entitled to humane treatment and an opportunity for improvement and
reformation, the Government is responsible to them and society that
these things are forthcoming. But this duty can scarcely be discharged
without more absolute control and direction than is possible under the
Many of our good citizens have interested themselves, with the most
beneficial results, in the question of prison reform. The General
Government should be in a situation, since there must be United States
prisoners, to furnish important aid in this movement, and should be able
to illustrate what may be practically done in the direction of this
reform and to present an example in the treatment and improvement of its
prisoners worthy of imitation.
With prisons under its own control the Government could deal with the
somewhat vexed question of convict labor, so far as its convicts were
concerned, according to a plan of its own adoption, and with due regard
to the rights and interests of our laboring citizens, instead of
sometimes aiding in the operation of a system which causes among them
irritation and discontent.
Upon consideration of this subject it might be thought wise to erect
more than one of these institutions, located in such places as would
best subserve the purposes of convenience and economy in transportation.
The considerable cost of maintaining these convicts as at present, in
State institutions, would be saved by the adoption of the plan proposed,
and by employing them in the manufacture of such articles as were needed
for use by the Government quite a large pecuniary benefit would be
realized in partial return for our outlay.
I again urge a change in the Federal judicial system to meet the wants
of the people and obviate the delays necessarily attending the present
condition of affairs in our courts. All are agreed that something should
be done, and much favor is shown by those well able to advise to the
plan suggested by the Attorney-General at the last session of the
Congress and recommended in my last annual message. This recommendation
is here renewed, together with another made at the same time, touching a
change in the manner of compensating district attorneys and marshals;
and the latter subject is commended to the Congress for its action in
the interest of economy to the Government, and humanity, fairness, and
justice to our people.
The report of the Secretary of the Interior presents a comprehensive
summary of the work of the various branches of the public service
connected with his Department, and the suggestions and recommendations
which it contains for the improvement of the service should receive your
The exhibit made of the condition of our Indian population and the
progress of the work for their enlightenment, notwithstanding the many
embarrassments which hinder the better administration of this important
branch of the service, is a gratifying and hopeful one.
The funds appropriated for the Indian service for the fiscal year just
passed, with the available income from Indian land and trust moneys,
amounting in all to $7,850,775.12, were ample for the service under the
conditions and restrictions of laws regulating their expenditure. There
remained a balance on hand on June 30, 1886, of $1,660,023.30, of which
$1,337,768.21 are permanent funds for fulfillment of treaties and other
like purposes, and the remainder, $322,255.09, is subject to be carried
to the surplus fund as required by law.
The estimates presented for appropriations for the ensuing fiscal year
amount to $5,608,873.64, or $442,386.20 less than those laid before the
Congress last year.
The present system of agencies, while absolutely necessary and well
adapted for the management of our Indian affairs and for the ends in
view when it was adopted, is in the present stage of Indian management
inadequate, standing alone, for the accomplishment of an object which
has become pressing in its importance—the more rapid transition from
tribal organizations to citizenship of such portions of the Indians as
are capable of civilized life.
When the existing system was adopted, the Indian race was outside of the
limits of organized States and Territories and beyond the immediate
reach and operation of civilization, and all efforts were mainly
directed to the maintenance of friendly relations and the preservation
of peace and quiet on the frontier. All this is now changed. There is no
such thing as the Indian frontier. Civilization, with the busy hum of
industry and the influences of Christianity, surrounds these people at
every point. None of the tribes are outside of the bounds of organized
government and society, except that the Territorial system has not been
extended over that portion of the country known as the Indian Territory.
As a race the Indians are no longer hostile, but may be considered as
submissive to the control of the Government. Few of them only are
troublesome. Except the fragments of several bands, all are now gathered
It is no longer possible for them to subsist by the chase and the
spontaneous productions of the earth.
With an abundance of land, if furnished with the means and implements
for profitable husbandry, their life of entire dependence upon
Government rations from day to day is no longer defensible. Their
inclination, long fostered by a defective system of control, is to cling
to the habits and customs of their ancestors and struggle with
persistence against the change of life which their altered circumstances
press upon them. But barbarism and civilization can not live together.
It is impossible that such incongruous conditions should coexist on the
They are a portion of our people, are under the authority of our
Government, and have a peculiar claim upon and are entitled to the
fostering care and protection of the nation. The Government can not
relieve itself of this responsibility until they are so far trained and
civilized as to be able wholly to manage and care for themselves. The
paths in which they should walk must be clearly marked out for them, and
they must be led or guided until they are familiar with the way and
competent to assume the duties and responsibilities of our citizenship.
Progress in this great work will continue only at the present slow pace
and at great expense unless the system and methods of management are
improved to meet the changed conditions and urgent demands of the
The agents, having general charge and supervision in many cases of more
than 5,000 Indians, scattered over large reservations, and burdened with
the details of accountability for funds and supplies, have time to look
after the industrial training and improvement of a few Indians only. The
many are neglected and remain idle and dependent, conditions not
favorable for progress and civilization.
The compensation allowed these agents and the conditions of the service
are not calculated to secure for the work men who are fitted by ability
and skill to properly plan and intelligently direct the methods best
adapted to produce the most speedy results and permanent benefits.
Hence the necessity for a supplemental agency or system directed to the
end of promoting the general and more rapid transition of the tribes
from habits and customs of barbarism to the ways of civilization.
With an anxious desire to devise some plan of operation by which to
secure the welfare of the Indians and to relieve the Treasury as far as
possible from the support of an idle and dependent population, I
recommended in my previous annual message the passage of a law
authorizing the appointment of a commission as an instrumentality
auxiliary to those already established for the care of the Indians. It
was designed that this commission should be composed of six intelligent
and capable persons—three to be detailed from the Army—having
practical ideas upon the subject of the treatment of Indians and
interested in their welfare, and that it should be charged, under the
direction of the Secretary of the Interior, with the management of such
matters of detail as can not with the present organization be properly
and successfully conducted, and which present different phases, as the
Indians themselves differ in their progress, needs, disposition, and
capacity for improvement or immediate self-support.
By the aid of such a commission much unwise and useless expenditure of
money, waste of materials, and unavailing efforts might be avoided; and
it is hoped that this or some measure which the wisdom of Congress may
better devise to supply the deficiency of the present system may receive
your consideration and the appropriate legislation be provided.
The time is ripe for the work of such an agency.
There is less opposition to the education and training of the Indian
youth, as shown by the increased attendance upon the schools, and there
is a yielding tendency for the individual holding of lands. Development
and advancement in these directions are essential, and should have every
encouragement. As the rising generation are taught the language of
civilization and trained in habits of industry they should assume the
duties, privileges, and responsibilities of citizenship.
No obstacle should hinder the location and settlement of any Indian
willing to take land in severalty; on the contrary, the inclination to
do so should be stimulated at all times when proper and expedient. But
there is no authority of law for making allotments on some of the
reservations, and on others the allotments provided for are so small
that the Indians, though ready and desiring to settle down, are not
willing to accept such small areas when their reservations contain ample
lands to afford them homesteads of sufficient size to meet their present
and future needs.
These inequalities of existing special laws and treaties should be
corrected and some general legislation on the subject should be
provided, so that the more progressive members of the different tribes
may be settled upon homesteads, and by their example lead others to
follow, breaking away from tribal customs and substituting therefor the
love of home, the interest of the family, and the rule of the state.
The Indian character and nature are such that they are not easily led
while brooding over unadjusted wrongs. This is especially so regarding
their lands. Matters arising from the construction and operation of
railroads across some of the reservations, and claims of title and right
of occupancy set up by white persons to some of the best land within
other reservations require legislation for their final adjustment.
The settlement of these matters will remove many embarrassments to
progress in the work of leading the Indians to the adoption of our
institutions and bringing them under the operation, the influence, and
the protection of the universal laws of our country.
The recommendations of the Secretary of the Interior and the
Commissioner of the General Land Office looking to the better protection
of public lands and of the public surveys, the preservation of national
forests, the adjudication of grants to States and corporations and of
private land claims, and the increased efficiency of the public-land
service are commended to the attention of Congress. To secure the widest
distribution of public lands in limited quantities among settlers for
residence and cultivation, and thus make the greatest number of
individual homes, was the primary object of the public-land legislation
in the early days of the Republic. This system was a simple one. It
commenced with an admirable scheme of public surveys, by which the
humblest citizen could identify the tract upon which he wished to
establish his home. The price of lands was placed within the reach of
all the enterprising, industrious, and honest pioneer citizens of the
country. It was soon, however, found that the object of the laws was
perverted, under the system of cash sales, from a distribution of land
among the people to an accumulation of land capital by wealthy and
speculative persons. To check this tendency a preference right of
purchase was given to settlers on the land, a plan which culminated in
the general preemption act of 1841. The foundation of this system was
actual residence and cultivation. Twenty years later the homestead law
was devised to more surely place actual homes in the possession of
actual cultivators of the soil. The land was given without price, the
sole conditions being residence, improvement, and cultivation. Other
laws have followed, each designed to encourage the acquirement and use
of land in limited individual quantities. But in later years these laws,
through vicious administrative methods and under changed conditions of
communication and transportation, have been so evaded and violated that
their beneficent purpose is threatened with entire defeat. The methods
of such evasions and violations are set forth in detail in the reports
of the Secretary of the Interior and Commissioner of the General Land
Office. The rapid appropriation of our public lands without bona
fide settlements or cultivation, and not only without intention of
residence, but for the purpose of their aggregation in large holdings,
in many cases in the hands of foreigners, invites the serious and
immediate attention of the Congress.
The energies of the Land Department have been devoted during the present
Administration to remedy defects and correct abuses in the public-land
service. The results of these efforts are so largely in the nature of
reforms in the processes and methods of our land system as to prevent
adequate estimate; but it appears by a compilation from the reports of
the Commissioner of the General Land Office that the immediate effect in
leading cases which have come to a final termination has been the
restoration to the mass of public lands of 2,750,000 acres; that
2,370,000 acres are embraced in investigations now pending before the
Department or the courts, and that the action of Congress has been asked
to effect the restoration of 2,790,000 acres additional; besides which
4,000,000 acres have been withheld from reservation and the rights of
entry thereon maintained.
I recommend the repeal of the preemption and timber-culture acts, and
that the homestead laws be so amended as to better secure compliance
with their requirements of residence, improvement, and cultivation for
the period of five years from date of entry, without commutation or
provision for speculative relinquishment. I also recommend the repeal of
the desert-land laws unless it shall be the pleasure of the Congress to
so amend these laws as to render them less liable to abuses. As the
chief motive for an evasion of the laws and the principal cause of their
result in land accumulation instead of land distribution is the facility
with which transfers are made of the right intended to be secured to
settlers, it may be deemed advisable to provide by legislation some
guards and checks upon the alienation of homestead rights and lands
covered thereby Until patents issue.
Last year an Executive proclamation was issued directing the removal
of fences which inclosed the public domain. Many of these have been
removed in obedience to such order, but much of the public land still
remains within the lines of these unlawful fences. The ingenious methods
resorted to in order to continue these trespasses and the hardihood of
the pretenses by which in some cases such inclosures are justified are
fully detailed in the report of the Secretary of the Interior.
The removal of the fences still remaining which inclose public lands
will be enforced with all the authority and means with which the
executive branch of the Government is or shall be invested by the
Congress for that purpose.
The report of the Commissioner of Pensions contains a detailed and most
satisfactory exhibit of the operations of the Pension Bureau during the
last fiscal year. The amount of work done was the largest in any year
since the organization of the Bureau, and it has been done at less cost
than during the previous year in every division.
On the 30th day of June, 1886, there were 365,783 pensioners on the
rolls of the Bureau.
Since 1861 there have been 1,018,735 applications for pensions filed, of
which 78,834 were based upon service in the War of 1812. There were
621,754 of these applications allowed, including 60,178 to the soldiers
of 1812 and their widows.
The total amount paid for pensions since 1861 is $808,624,811.57.
The number of new pensions allowed during the year ended June 30, 1886,
is 40,857, a larger number than has been allowed in any year save one
since 1861. The names of 2,229 pensioners which had been previously
dropped from the rolls were restored during the year, and after
deducting those dropped within the same time for various causes a net
increase remains for the year of 20,658 names.
From January 1, 1861, to December 1, 1885, 1,967 private pension acts
had been passed. Since the last-mentioned date, and during the last
session of the Congress, 644 such acts became laws.
It seems to me that no one can examine our pension establishment and its
operations without being convinced that through its instrumentality
justice can be very nearly done to all who are entitled under present
laws to the pension bounty of the Government.
But it is undeniable that cases exist, well entitled to relief, in which
the Pension Bureau is powerless to aid. The really worthy cases of this
class are such as only lack by misfortune the kind or quantity of proof
which the law and regulations of the Bureau require, or which, though
their merit is apparent, for some other reason can not be justly dealt
with through general laws. These conditions fully justify application to
the Congress and special enactments. But resort to the Congress for a
special pension act to overrule the deliberate and careful determination
of the Pension Bureau on the merits or to secure favorable action when
it could not be expected under the most liberal execution of general
laws, it must be admitted opens the door to the allowance of
questionable claims and presents to the legislative and executive
branches of the Government applications concededly not within the law
and plainly devoid of merit, but so surrounded by sentiment and
patriotic feeling that they are hard to resist. I suppose it will not be
denied that many claims for pension are made without merit and that many
have been allowed upon fraudulent representations. This has been
declared from the Pension Bureau, not only in this but in prior
The usefulness and the justice of any system for the distribution of
pensions depend upon the equality and uniformity of its operation.
It will be seen from the report of the Commissioner that there are now
paid by the Government 131 different rates of pension.
He estimates from the best information he can obtain that 9,000 of those
who have served in the Army and Navy of the United States are now
supported, in whole or in part, from public funds or by organized
charities, exclusive of those in soldiers' homes under the direction and
control of the Government. Only 13 per cent of these are pensioners,
while of the entire number of men furnished for the late war something
like 20 per cent, including their widows and relatives, have been or now
are in receipt of pensions.
The American people, with a patriotic and grateful regard for our
ex-soldiers, too broad and too sacred to be monopolized by any special
advocates, are not only willing but anxious that equal and exact justice
should be done to all honest claimants for pensions. In their sight the
friendless and destitute soldier, dependent on public charity, if
otherwise entitled, has precisely the same right to share in the
provision made for those who fought their country's battles as those
better able, through friends and influence, to push their claims. Every
pension that is granted under our present plan upon any other grounds
than actual service and injury or disease incurred in such service, and
every instance of the many in which pensions are increased on other
grounds than the merits of the claim, work an injustice to the brave and
crippled, but poor and friendless, soldier, who is entirely neglected or
who must be content with the smallest sum allowed under general laws.
There are far too many neighborhoods in which are found glaring cases of
inequality of treatment in the matter of pensions, and they are largely
due to a yielding in the Pension Bureau to importunity on the part of
those, other than the pensioner, who are especially interested, or they
arise from special acts passed for the benefit of individuals.
The men who fought side by side should stand side by side when they
participate in a grateful nation's kind remembrance.
Every consideration of fairness and justice to our ex-soldiers and the
protection of the patriotic instinct of our citizens from perversion and
violation point to the adoption of a pension system broad and
comprehensive enough to cover every contingency, and which shall make
unnecessary an objectionable volume of special legislation.
As long as we adhere to the principle of granting pensions for service,
and disability as the result of the service, the allowance of pensions
should be restricted to cases presenting these features.
Every patriotic heart responds to a tender consideration for those who,
having served their country long and well, are reduced to destitution
and dependence, not as an incident of their service, but with advancing
age or through sickness or misfortune. We are all tempted by the
contemplation of such a condition to supply relief, and are often
impatient of the limitations of public duty. Yielding to no one in the
desire to indulge this feeling of consideration, I can not rid myself of
the conviction that if these ex-soldiers are to be relieved they and
their cause are entitled to the benefit of an enactment under which
relief may be claimed as a right, and that such relief should be granted
under the sanction of law, not in evasion of it; nor should such worthy
objects of care, all equally entitled, be remitted to the unequal
operation of sympathy or the tender mercies of social and political
influence, with their unjust discriminations.
The discharged soldiers and sailors of the country are our
fellow-citizens, and interested with us in the passage and faithful
execution of wholesome laws. They can not be swerved from their duty of
citizenship by artful appeals to their spirit of brotherhood born of
common peril and suffering, nor will they exact as a test of devotion to
their welfare a willingness to neglect public duty in their behalf.
On the 4th of March, 1885, the current business of the Patent Office
was, on an average, five and a half months in arrears, and in several
divisions more than twelve months behind. At the close of the last
fiscal year such current work was but three months in arrears, and it is
asserted and believed that in the next few months the delay in obtaining
an examination of an application for a patent will be but nominal.
The number of applications for patents during the last fiscal year,
including reissues, designs, trade-marks, and labels, equals 40,678,
which is considerably in excess of the number received during any
The receipts of the Patent Office during the year aggregate
$1,205,167.80, enabling the office to turn into the Treasury a surplus
revenue, over and above all expenditures, of about $163,710.30.
The number of patents granted during the last fiscal year, including
reissues, trade-marks, designs, and labels, was 25,619, a number also
quite largely in excess of that of any preceding year.
The report of the Commissioner shows the office to be in a prosperous
condition and constantly increasing in its business. No increase of
force is asked for.
The amount estimated for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1886, was
$890,760. The amount estimated for the year ending June 30, 1887, was
$853,960. The amount estimated for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1888,
The Secretary of the Interior suggests a change in the plan for the
payment of the indebtedness of the Pacific subsidized roads to the
Government. His suggestion has the unanimous indorsement of the persons
selected by the Government to act as directors of these roads and
protect the interests of the United States in the board of direction.
In considering the plan proposed the sole matters which should be taken
into account, in my opinion, are the situation of the Government as a
creditor and the surest way to secure the payment of the principal and
interest of its debt.
By a recent decision of the Supreme Court of the United States it has
been adjudged that the laws of the several States are inoperative to
regulate rates of transportation upon railroads if such regulation
interferes with the rate of carriage from one State into another. This
important field of control and regulation having been thus left entirely
unoccupied, the expediency of Federal action upon the subject is worthy
The relations of labor to capital and of laboring men to their employers
are of the utmost concern to every patriotic citizen. When these are
strained and distorted, unjustifiable claims are apt to be insisted upon
by both interests, and in the controversy which results the welfare of
all and the prosperity of the country are jeopardized. Any intervention
of the General Government, within the limits of its constitutional
authority, to avert such a condition should be willingly accorded.
In a special message transmitted to the Congress at its last session
I suggested the enlargement of our present Labor Bureau and adding to
its present functions the power of arbitration in cases where
differences arise between employer and employed. When these differences
reach such a stage as to result in the interruption of commerce between
the States, the application of this remedy by the General Government
might be regarded as entirely within its constitutional powers. And I
think we might reasonably hope that such arbitrators, if carefully
selected and if entitled to the confidence of the parties to be
affected, would be voluntarily called to the settlement of controversies
of less extent and not necessarily within the domain of Federal
I am of the opinion that this suggestion is worthy the attention of the
But after all has been done by the passage of laws, either Federal or
State, to relieve a situation full of solicitude, much more remains to
be accomplished by the reinstatement and cultivation of a true American
sentiment which recognizes the equality of American citizenship. This,
in the light of our traditions and in loyalty to the spirit of our
institutions, would teach that a hearty cooperation on the part of all
interests is the surest path to national greatness and the happiness of
all our people; that capital should, in recognition of the brotherhood
of our citizenship and in a spirit of American fairness, generously
accord to labor its just compensation and consideration, and that
contented labor is capital's best protection and faithful ally. It would
teach, too, that the diverse situations of our people are inseparable
from our civilization; that every citizen should in his sphere be a
contributor to the general good; that capital does not necessarily tend
to the oppression of labor, and that violent disturbances and disorders
alienate from their promoters true American sympathy and kindly feeling.
The Department of Agriculture, representing the oldest and largest of
our national industries, is subserving well the purposes of its
organization. By the introduction of new subjects of farming enterprise
and by opening new sources of agricultural wealth and the dissemination
of early information concerning production and prices it has contributed
largely to the country's prosperity. Through this agency advanced
thought and investigation touching the subjects it has in charge should,
among other things, be practically applied to the home production at a
low cost of articles of food which are now imported from abroad. Such an
innovation will necessarily, of course, in the beginning be within the
domain of intelligent experiment, and the subject in every stage should
receive all possible encouragement from the Government.
The interests of millions of our citizens engaged in agriculture are
involved in an enlargement and improvement of the results of their
labor, and a zealous regard for their welfare should be a willing
tribute to those whose productive returns are a main source of our
progress and power.
The existence of pleuro-pneumonia among the cattle of various States has
led to burdensome and in some cases disastrous restrictions in an
important branch of our commerce, threatening to affect the quantity and
quality of our food supply. This is a matter of such importance and of
such far-reaching consequences that I hope it will engage the serious
attention of the Congress, to the end that such a remedy may be applied
as the limits of a constitutional delegation of power to the General
Government will permit.
I commend to the consideration of the Congress the report of the
Commissioner and his suggestions concerning the interest intrusted to
The continued operation of the law relating to our civil service has
added the most convincing proofs of its necessity and usefulness. It is
a fact worthy of note that every public officer who has a just idea of
his duty to the people testifies to the value of this reform. Its
staunchest friends are found among those who understand it best, and its
warmest supporters are those who are restrained and protected by its
The meaning of such restraint and protection is not appreciated by those
who want places under the Government regardless of merit and efficiency,
nor by those who insist that the selection of such places should rest
upon a proper credential showing active partisan work. They mean to
public officers, if not their lives, the only opportunity afforded them
to attend to public business, and they mean to the good people of the
country the better performance of the work of their Government.
It is exceedingly strange that the scope and nature of this reform are
so little understood and that so many things not included within its
plan are called by its name. When cavil yields more fully to
examination, the system will have large additions to the number of its
Our civil-service reform may be imperfect in some of its details; it may
be misunderstood and opposed; it may not always be faithfully applied;
its designs may sometimes miscarry through mistake or willful intent; it
may sometimes tremble under the assaults of its enemies or languish
under the misguided zeal of impracticable friends; but if the people of
this country ever submit to the banishment of its underlying principle
from the operation of their Government they will abandon the surest
guaranty of the safety and success of American institutions.
I invoke for this reform the cheerful and ungrudging support of the
Congress. I renew my recommendation made last year that the salaries of
the Commissioners be made equal to other officers of the Government
having like duties and responsibilities, and I hope that such reasonable
appropriations may be made as will enable them to increase the
usefulness of the cause they have in charge.
I desire to call the attention of the Congress to a plain duty which the
Government owes to the depositors in the Freedman's Savings and Trust
This company was chartered by the Congress for the benefit of the most
illiterate and humble of our people, and with the intention of
encouraging in them industry and thrift. Most of its branches were
presided over by officers holding the commissions and clothed in the
uniform of the United States. These and other circumstances reasonably,
I think, led these simple people to suppose that the invitation to
deposit their hard-earned savings in this institution implied an
undertaking on the part of their Government that their money should be
safely kept for them.
When this company failed, it was liable in the sum of $2,939,925.22 to
61,131 depositors. Dividends amounting in the aggregate to 62 per cent
have been declared, and the sum called for and paid of such dividends
seems to be $1,648,181.72. This sum deducted from the entire amount of
deposits leaves $1,291,744.50 still unpaid. Past experience has shown
that quite a large part of this sum will not be called for. There are
assets still on hand amounting to the estimated sum of $16,000.
I think the remaining 38 per cent of such of these deposits as have
claimants should be paid by the Government, upon principles of equity
The report of the commissioner, soon to be laid before Congress, will
give more satisfactory details on this subject.
The control of the affairs of the District of Columbia having been
placed in the hands of purely executive officers, while the Congress
still retains all legislative authority relating to its government, it
becomes my duty to make known the most pressing needs of the District
and recommend their consideration.
The laws of the District appear to be in an uncertain and unsatisfactory
condition, and their codification or revision is much needed.
During the past year one of the bridges leading from the District to the
State of Virginia became unfit for use, and travel upon it was
forbidden. This leads me to suggest that the improvement of all the
bridges crossing the Potomac and its branches from the city of
Washington is worthy the attention of Congress.
The Commissioners of the District represent that the laws regulating the
sale of liquor and granting licenses therefor should be at once amended,
and that legislation is needed to consolidate, define, and enlarge the
scope and powers of charitable and penal institutions within the
I suggest that the Commissioners be clothed with the power to make,
within fixed limitations, police regulations. I believe this power
granted and carefully guarded would tend to subserve the good order of
It seems that trouble still exists growing out of the occupation of the
streets and avenues by certain railroads having their termini in the
city. It is very important that such laws should be enacted upon this
subject as will secure to the railroads all the facilities they require
for the transaction of their business and at the same time protect
citizens from injury to their persons or property.
The Commissioners again complain that the accommodations afforded them
for the necessary offices for District business and for the safe-keeping
of valuable books and papers are entirely insufficient. I recommend that
this condition of affairs be remedied by the Congress, and that suitable
quarters be furnished for the needs of the District government.
In conclusion I earnestly invoke such wise action on the part of the
people's legislators as will subserve the public good and demonstrate
during the remaining days of the Congress as at present organized its
ability and inclination to so meet the people's needs that it shall be
gratefully remembered by an expectant constituency.