As you assemble for the discharge of the duties you have assumed as the
representatives of a free and generous people, your meeting is marked
by an interesting and impressive incident. With the expiration of the
present session of the Congress the first century of our constitutional
existence as a nation will be completed.
Our survival for one hundred years is not sufficient to assure us that
we no longer have dangers to fear in the maintenance, with all its
promised blessings, of a government founded upon the freedom of the
people. The time rather admonishes us to soberly inquire whether in the
past we have always closely kept in the course of safety, and whether we
have before us a way plain and clear which leads to happiness and
When the experiment of our Government was undertaken, the chart adopted
for our guidance was the Constitution. Departure from the lines there
laid down is failure. It is only by a strict adherence to the direction
they indicate and by restraint within the limitations they fix that we
can furnish proof to the world of the fitness of the American people for
The equal and exact justice of which we boast as the underlying
principle of our institutions should not be confined to the relations of
our citizens to each other. The Government itself is under bond to the
American people that in the exercise of its functions and powers it will
deal with the body of our citizens in a manner scrupulously honest and
fair and absolutely just. It has agreed that American citizenship shall
be the only credential necessary to justify the claim of equality before
the law, and that no condition in life shall give rise to discrimination
in the treatment of the people by their Government.
The citizen of our Republic in its early days rigidly insisted upon full
compliance with the letter of this bond, and saw stretching out before
him a clear field for individual endeavor. His tribute to the support of
his Government was measured by the cost of its economical maintenance,
and he was secure in the enjoyment of the remaining recompense of his
steady and contented toil. In those days the frugality of the people was
stamped upon their Government, and was enforced by the free, thoughtful,
and intelligent suffrage of the citizen. Combinations, monopolies, and
aggregations of capital were either avoided or sternly regulated and
restrained. The pomp and glitter of governments less free offered no
temptation and presented no delusion to the plain people who, side by
side, in friendly competition, wrought for the ennoblement and dignity
of man, for the solution of the problem of free government, and for the
achievement of the grand destiny awaiting the land which God had given
A century has passed. Our cities are the abiding places of wealth and
luxury; our manufactories yield fortunes never dreamed of by the fathers
of the Republic; our business men are madly striving in the race for
riches, and immense aggregations of capital outrun the imagination in
the magnitude of their undertakings.
We view with pride and satisfaction this bright picture of our country's
growth and prosperity, while only a closer scrutiny develops a somber
shading. Upon more careful inspection we find the wealth and luxury of
our cities mingled with poverty and wretchedness and unremunerative
toil. A crowded and constantly increasing urban population suggests the
impoverishment of rural sections and discontent with agricultural
pursuits. The farmer's son, not satisfied with his father's simple and
laborious life, joins the eager chase for easily acquired wealth.
We discover that the fortunes realized by our manufacturers are no
longer solely the reward of sturdy industry and enlightened foresight,
but that they result from the discriminating favor of the Government and
are largely built upon undue exactions from the masses of our people.
The gulf between employers and the employed is constantly widening, and
classes are rapidly forming, one comprising the very rich and powerful,
while in another are found the toiling poor.
As we view the achievements of aggregated capital, we discover the
existence of trusts, combinations, and monopolies, while the citizen is
struggling far in the rear or is trampled to death beneath an iron heel.
Corporations, which should be the carefully restrained creatures of the
law and the servants of the people, are fast becoming the people's
Still congratulating ourselves upon the wealth and prosperity of our
country and complacently contemplating every incident of change
inseparable from these conditions, it is our duty as patriotic citizens
to inquire at the present stage of our progress how the bond of the
Government made with the people has been kept and performed.
Instead of limiting the tribute drawn from our citizens to the
necessities of its economical administration, the Government persists in
exacting from the substance of the people millions which, unapplied and
useless, lie dormant in its Treasury. This flagrant injustice and this
breach of faith and obligation add to extortion the danger attending the
diversion of the currency of the country from the legitimate channels of
Under the same laws by which these results are produced the Government
permits many millions more to be added to the cost of the living of our
people and to be taken from our consumers, which unreasonably swell the
profits of a small but powerful minority.
The people must still be taxed for the support of the Government under
the operation of tariff laws. But to the extent that the mass of out
citizens are inordinately burdened beyond any useful public purpose and
for the benefit of a favored few, the Government, under pretext of an
exercise of its taxing power, enters gratuitously into partnership with
these favorites, to their advantage and to the injury of a vast majority
of our people.
This is not equality before the law.
The existing situation is injurious to the health of our entire body
politic. It stifles in those for whose benefit it is permitted all
patriotic love of country, and substitutes in its place selfish greed
and grasping avarice. Devotion to American citizenship for its own sake
and for what it should accomplish as a motive to our nation's
advancement and the happiness of all our people is displaced by the
assumption that the Government, instead of being the embodiment of
equality, is but an instrumentality through which especial and
individual advantages are to be gained.
The arrogance of this assumption is unconcealed. It appears in the
sordid disregard of all but personal interests, in the refusal to abate
for the benefit of others one iota of selfish advantage, and in
combinations to perpetuate such advantages through efforts to control
legislation and improperly influence the suffrages of the people.
The grievances of those not included within the circle of these
beneficiaries, when fully realized, will surely arouse irritation and
discontent. Our farmers, long suffering and patient, struggling in the
race of life with the hardest and most unremitting toil, will not fail
to see, in spite of misrepresentations and misleading fallacies, that
they are obliged to accept such prices for their products as are fixed
in foreign markets where they compete with the farmers of the world;
that their lands are declining in value while their debts increase, and
that without compensating favor they are forced by the action of the
Government to pay for the benefit of others such enhanced prices for the
things they need that the scanty returns of their labor fail to furnish
their support or leave no margin for accumulation.
Our workingmen, enfranchised from all delusions and no longer frightened
by the cry that their wages are endangered by a just revision of our
tariff laws, will reasonably demand through such revision steadier
employment, cheaper means of living in their homes, freedom for
themselves and their children from the doom of perpetual servitude, and
an open door to their advancement beyond the limits of a laboring class.
Others of our citizens, whose comforts and expenditures are measured by
moderate salaries and fixed incomes, will insist upon the fairness and
justice of cheapening the cost of necessaries for themselves and their
When to the selfishness of the beneficiaries of unjust discrimination
under our laws there shall be added the discontent of those who suffer
from such discrimination, we will realize the fact that the beneficent
purposes of our Government, dependent upon the patriotism and
contentment of our people, are endangered.
Communism is a hateful thing and a menace to peace and organized
government; but the communism of combined wealth and capital, the
outgrowth of overweening cupidity and selfishness, which insidiously
undermines the justice and integrity of free institutions, is not less
dangerous than the communism of oppressed poverty and toil, which,
exasperated by injustice and discontent, attacks with wild disorder the
citadel of rule.
He mocks the people who proposes that the Government shall protect the
rich and that they in turn will care for the laboring poor. Any
intermediary between the people and their Government or the least
delegation of the care and protection the Government owes to the
humblest citizen in the land makes the boast of free institutions a
glittering delusion and the pretended boon of American citizenship a
A just and sensible revision of our tariff laws should be made for the
relief of those of our countrymen who suffer under present conditions.
Such a revision should receive the support of all who love that justice
and equality due to American citizenship; of all who realize that in
this justice and equality our Government finds its strength and its
power to protect the citizen and his property; of all who believe that
the contented competence and comfort of many accord better with the
spirit of our institutions than colossal fortunes unfairly gathered in
the hands of a few; of all who appreciate that the forbearance and
fraternity among our people, which recognize the value of every American
interest, are the surest guaranty of our national progress, and of all
who desire to see the products of American skill and ingenuity in every
market of the world, with a resulting restoration of American commerce.
The necessity of the reduction of our revenues is so apparent as
to be generally conceded, but the means by which this end shall be
accomplished and the sum of direct benefit which shall result to our
citizens present a controversy of the utmost importance. There should be
no scheme accepted as satisfactory by which the burdens of the people
are only apparently removed. Extravagant appropriations of public money,
with all their demoralizing consequences, should not be tolerated,
either as a means of relieving the Treasury of its present surplus or as
furnishing pretext for resisting a proper reduction in tariff rates.
Existing evils and injustice should be honestly recognized, boldly met,
and effectively remedied. There should be no cessation of the struggle
until a plan is perfected, fair and conservative toward existing
industries, but which will reduce the cost to consumers of the
necessaries of life, while it provides for our manufacturers the
advantage of freer raw materials and permits no injury to the interests
of American labor.
The cause for which the battle is waged is comprised within lines
clearly and distinctly defined. It should never be compromised. It is
the people's cause.
It can not be denied-that the selfish and private interests which
are so persistently heard when efforts are made to deal in a just and
comprehensive manner with our tariff laws are related to, if they are
not responsible for, the sentiment largely prevailing among the people
that the General Government is the fountain of individual and private
aid; that it may be expected to relieve with paternal care the distress
of citizens and communities, and that from the fullness of its Treasury
it should, upon the slightest possible pretext of promoting the general
good, apply public funds to the benefit of localities and individuals.
Nor can it be denied that there is a growing assumption that, as against
the Government and in favor of private claims and interests, the usual
rules and limitations of business principles and just dealing should be
These ideas have been unhappily much encouraged by legislative
acquiescence. Relief from contracts made with the Government is too
easily accorded in favor of the citizen; the failure to support claims
against the Government by proof is often supplied by no better
consideration than the wealth of the Government and the poverty of the
claimant; gratuities in the form of pensions are granted upon no other
real ground than the needy condition of the applicant, or for reasons
less valid; and large sums are expended for public buildings and other
improvements upon representations scarcely claimed to be related to
public needs and necessities.
The extent to which the consideration of such matters subordinate and
postpone action upon subjects of great public importance, but involving
no special private or partisan interest, should arrest attention and
lead to reformation.
A few of the numerous illustrations of this condition may be stated.
The crowded condition of the calendar of the Supreme Court, and the
delay to suitors and denial of justice resulting therefrom, has been
strongly urged upon the attention of the Congress, with a plan for the
relief of the situation approved by those well able to judge of its
merits. While this subject remains without effective consideration, many
laws have been passed providing for the holding of terms of inferior
courts at places to suit the convenience of localities, or to lay the
foundation of an application for the erection of a new public building.
Repeated recommendations have been submitted for the amendment and
change of the laws relating to our public lands so that their spoliation
and diversion to other uses than as homes for honest settlers might be
prevented. While a measure to meet this conceded necessity of reform
remains awaiting the action of the Congress, many claims to the public
lands and applications for their donation, in favor of States and
individuals, have been allowed.
A plan in aid of Indian management, recommended by those well informed
as containing valuable features in furtherance of the solution of the
Indian problem, has thus far failed of legislative sanction, while
grants of doubtful expediency to railroad corporations, permitting them
to pass through Indian reservations, have greatly multiplied.
The propriety and necessity of the erection of one or more prisons for
the confinement of United States convicts, and a post-office building in
the national capital, are not disputed. But these needs yet remain
unanswered, while scores of public buildings have been erected where
their necessity for public purposes is not apparent.
A revision of our pension laws could easily be made which would rest
upon just principles and provide for every worthy applicant. But while
our general pension laws remain confused and imperfect, hundreds of
private pension laws are annually passed, which are the sources of
unjust discrimination and popular demoralization.
Appropriation bills for the support of the Government are defaced by
items and provisions to meet private ends, and it is freely asserted by
responsible and experienced parties that a bill appropriating money for
public internal improvement would fail to meet with favor unless it
contained items more for local and private advantage than for public
These statements can be much emphasized by an ascertainment of the
proportion of Federal legislation which either bears upon its face its
private character or which upon examination develops such a motive
And yet the people wait and expect from their chosen representatives
such patriotic action as will advance the welfare of the entire country;
and this expectation can only be answered by the performance of public
duty with unselfish purpose. Our mission among the nations of the earth
and our success in accomplishing the work God has given the American
people to do require of those intrusted with the making and execution of
our laws perfect devotion, above all other things, to the public good.
This devotion will lead us to strongly resist all impatience of
constitutional limitations of Federal power and to persistently check
the increasing tendency to extend the scope of Federal legislation into
the domain of State and local jurisdiction upon the plea of subserving
the public welfare. The preservation of the partitions between proper
subjects of Federal and local care and regulation is of such importance
under the Constitution, which is the law of our very existence, that no
consideration of expediency or sentiment should tempt us to enter upon
doubtful ground. We have undertaken to discover and proclaim the richest
blessings of a free government, with the Constitution as our guide. Let
us follow the way it points out; it will not mislead us. And surely no
one who has taken upon himself the solemn obligation to support and
preserve the Constitution can find justification or solace for
disloyalty in the excuse that he wandered and disobeyed in search of a
better way to reach the public welfare than the Constitution offers.
What has been said is deemed not inappropriate at a time when, from a
century's height, we view the way already trod by the American people
and attempt to discover their future path.
The seventh President of the United States—the soldier and statesman
and at all times the firm and brave friend of the people—in vindication
of his course as the protector of popular rights and the champion of
true American citizenship, declared:
The ambition which leads me on is an anxious desire and a fixed
determination to restore to the people unimpaired the sacred trust they
have confided to my charge; to heal the wounds of the Constitution and
to preserve it from further violation; to persuade my countrymen, so far
as I may, that it is not in a splendid government supported by powerful
monopolies and aristocratical establishments that they will find
happiness or their liberties protection, but in a plain system, void of
pomp, protecting all and granting favors to none, dispensing its
blessings like the dews of heaven, unseen and unfelt save in the
freshness and beauty they contribute to produce. It is such a government
that the genius of our people requires—such an one only under which our
States may remain for ages to come united, prosperous, and free.
In pursuance of a constitutional provision requiring the President from
time to time to give to the Congress information of the state of the
Union, I have the satisfaction to announce that the close of the year
finds the United States in the enjoyment of domestic tranquillity and at
peace with all the nations.
Since my last annual message our foreign relations have been
strengthened and improved by performance of international good offices
and by new and renewed treaties of amity, commerce, and reciprocal
extradition of criminals.
Those international questions which still await settlement are all
reasonably within the domain of amicable negotiation, and there is no
existing subject of dispute between the United States and any foreign
power that is not susceptible of satisfactory adjustment by frank
The questions between Great Britain and the United States relating to
the rights of American fishermen, under treaty and international comity,
in the territorial waters of Canada and Newfoundland, I regret to say,
are not yet satisfactorily adjusted.
These matters were fully treated in my message to the Senate of February
20, 1888, together with which a convention, concluded under my
authority with Her Majesty's Government on the 15th of February last,
for the removal of all causes of misunderstanding, was submitted by me
for the approval of the Senate.
This treaty having been rejected by the Senate, I transmitted a message
to the Congress on the 23d of August last reviewing the transactions
and submitting for consideration certain recommendations for legislation
concerning the important questions involved.
Afterwards, on the 12th of September, in response to a resolution
of the Senate, I again communicated fully all the information in my
possession as to the action of the government of Canada affecting the
commercial relations between the Dominion and the United States,
including the treatment of American fishing vessels in the ports and
waters of British North America.
These communications have all been published, and therefore opened to
the knowledge of both Houses of Congress, although two were addressed to
the Senate alone.
Comment upon or repetition of their contents would be superfluous, and I
am not aware that anything has since occurred which should be added to
the facts therein stated. Therefore I merely repeat, as applicable to
the present time, the statement which will be found in my message to the
Senate of September 12 last, that—
Since March 3, 1887, no case has been reported to the Department of
State wherein complaint was made of unfriendly or unlawful treatment of
American fishing vessels on the part of the Canadian authorities in
which reparation was not promptly and satisfactorily obtained by the
United States consul-general at Halifax.
Having essayed in the discharge of my duty to procure by negotiation the
settlement of a long-standing cause of dispute and to remove a constant
menace to the good relations of the two countries, and continuing to be
of opinion that the treaty of February last, which failed to receive the
approval of the Senate, did supply "a satisfactory, practical, and final
adjustment, upon a basis honorable and just to both parties, of the
difficult and vexed question to which it related," and having
subsequently and unavailingly recommended other legislation to Congress
which I hoped would suffice to meet the exigency created by the
rejection of the treaty, I now again invoke the earnest and immediate
attention of the Congress to the condition of this important question as
it now stands before them and the country, and for the settlement of
which I am deeply solicitous.
Near the close of the month of October last occurrences of a deeply
regrettable nature were brought to my knowledge, which made it my
painful but imperative duty to obtain with as little delay as possible a
new personal channel of diplomatic intercourse in this country with the
Government of Great Britain.
The correspondence in relation to this incident will in due course be
laid before you, and will disclose the unpardonable conduct of the
official referred to in his interference by advice and counsel with the
suffrages of American citizens in the very crisis of the Presidential
election then near at hand, and also in his subsequent public
declarations to justify his action, superadding impugnment of the
Executive and Senate of the United States in connection with important
questions now pending in controversy between the two Governments.
The offense thus committed was most grave, involving disastrous
possibilities to the good relations of the United States and Great
Britain, constituting a gross breach of diplomatic privilege and an
invasion of the purely domestic affairs and essential sovereignty of the
Government to which the envoy was accredited.
Having first fulfilled the just demands of international comity by
affording full opportunity for Her Majesty's Government to act in relief
of the situation, I considered prolongation of discussion to be
unwarranted, and thereupon declined to further recognize the diplomatic
character of the person whose continuance in such function would destroy
that mutual confidence which is essential to the good understanding of
the two Governments and was inconsistent with the welfare and
self-respect of the Government of the United States.
The usual interchange of communication has since continued through Her
Majesty's legation in this city.
My endeavors to establish by international cooperation measures for the
prevention of the extermination of fur seals in Bering Sea have not
been relaxed, and I have hopes of being enabled shortly to submit an
effective and satisfactory conventional project with the maritime powers
for the approval of the Senate.
The coastal boundary between our Alaskan possessions and British
Columbia, I regret to say, has not received the attention demanded by
its importance, and which on several occasions heretofore I have had the
honor to recommend to the Congress.
The admitted impracticability, if not impossibility, of making an
accurate and precise survey and demarcation of the boundary line as it
is recited in the treaty with Russia under which Alaska was ceded to the
United States renders it absolutely requisite for the prevention of
international jurisdictional complications that adequate appropriation
for a reconnoissance and survey to obtain proper knowledge of the
locality and the geographical features of the boundary should be
authorized by Congress with as little delay as possible.
Knowledge to be only thus obtained is an essential prerequisite for
negotiation for ascertaining a common boundary, or as preliminary to any
other mode of settlement.
It is much to be desired that some agreement should be reached with Her
Majesty's Government by which the damages to life and property on the
Great Lakes may be alleviated by removing or humanely regulating the
obstacles to reciprocal assistance to wrecked or stranded vessels.
The act of June 19, 1878, which offers to Canadian vessels free access
to our inland waters in aid of wrecked or disabled vessels, has not yet
become effective through concurrent action by Canada.
The due protection of our citizens of French origin or descent from
claim of military service in the event of their returning to or visiting
France has called forth correspondence which was laid before you at the
In the absence of conventional agreement as to naturalization, which is
greatly to be desired, this Government sees no occasion to recede from
the sound position it has maintained not only with regard to France, but
as to all countries with which the United States have not concluded
Twice within the last year has the imperial household of Germany been
visited by death; and I have hastened to express the sorrow of this
people, and their appreciation of the lofty character of the late aged
Emperor William, and their sympathy with the heroism under suffering of
his son the late Emperor Frederick.
I renew my recommendation of two years ago for the passage of a bill for
the refunding to certain German steamship lines of the interest upon
tonnage dues illegally exacted.
On the 12th [2d] of April last I laid before the House of
Representatives full information respecting our interests in Samoa; and
in the subsequent correspondence on the same subject, which will be laid
before you in due course, the history of events in those islands will be
In a message accompanying my approval, on the 1st day of October last,
of a bill for the exclusion of Chinese laborers, I laid before Congress
full information and all correspondence touching the negotiation of the
treaty with China concluded at this capital on the 12th day of March,
1888, and which, having been confirmed by the Senate with certain
amendments, was rejected by the Chinese Government. This message
contained a recommendation that a sum of money be appropriated as
compensation to Chinese subjects who had suffered injuries at the hands
of lawless men within our jurisdiction. Such appropriation having been
duly made, the fund awaits reception by the Chinese Government.
It is sincerely hoped that by the cessation of the influx of this class
of Chinese subjects, in accordance with the expressed wish of both
Governments, a cause of unkind feeling has been permanently removed.
On the 9th of August, 1887, notification was given by the Japanese
minister at this capital of the adjournment of the conference for the
revision of the treaties of Japan with foreign powers, owing to the
objection of his Government to the provision in the draft jurisdictional
convention which required the submission of the criminal code of the
Empire to the powers in advance of its becoming operative. This
notification was, however, accompanied with an assurance of Japan's
intention to continue the work of revision.
Notwithstanding this temporary interruption of negotiations, it is hoped
that improvements may soon be secured in the jurisdictional system as
respects foreigners in Japan, and relief afforded to that country from
the present undue and oppressive foreign control in matters of commerce.
I earnestly recommend that relief be provided for the injuries
accidentally caused to Japanese subjects in the island Ikisima by the
target practice of one of our vessels.
A diplomatic mission from Korea has been received, and the formal
intercourse between the two countries contemplated by the treaty of 1882
is now established.
Legislative provision is hereby recommended to organize and equip
consular courts in Korea.
Persia has established diplomatic representation at this capital, and
has evinced very great interest in the enterprise and achievements of
our citizens. I am therefore hopeful that beneficial commercial
relations between the two countries may be brought about.
I announce with sincere regret that Hayti has again become the theater
of insurrection, disorder, and bloodshed. The titular government of
President Saloman has been forcibly overthrown and he driven out of the
country to France, where he has since died.
The tenure of power has been so unstable amid the war of factions that
has ensued since the expulsion of President Saloman that no government
constituted by the will of the Haytian people has been recognized as
administering responsibly the affairs of that country. Our
representative has been instructed to abstain from interference between
the warring factions, and a vessel of our Navy has been sent to Haytian
waters to sustain our minister and for the protection of the persons and
property of American citizens.
Due precautions have been taken to enforce our neutrality laws and
prevent our territory from becoming the base of military supplies for
either of the warring factions.
Under color of a blockade, of which no reasonable notice had been given,
and which does not appear to have been efficiently maintained, a seizure
of vessels under the American flag has been reported, and in consequence
measures to prevent and redress any molestation of our innocent
merchantmen have been adopted.
Proclamation was duly made on the 9th day of November, 1887, of the
conventional extensions of the treaty of June 3, 1875, with Hawaii,
under which relations of such special and beneficent intercourse have
In the vast field of Oriental commerce now unfolded from our Pacific
borders no feature presents stronger recommendations for Congressional
action than the establishment of communication by submarine telegraph
The geographical position of the Hawaiian group in relation to our
Pacific States creates a natural interdependency and mutuality of
interest which our present treaties were intended to foster, and which
make close communication a logical and commercial necessity.
The wisdom of concluding a treaty of commercial reciprocity with Mexico
has been heretofore stated in my messages to Congress, and the lapse of
time and growth of commerce with that close neighbor and sister Republic
confirm the judgment so expressed.
The precise relocation of our boundary line is needful, and adequate
appropriation is now recommended.
It is with sincere satisfaction that I am enabled to advert to the
spirit of good neighborhood and friendly cooperation and conciliation
that has marked the correspondence and action of the Mexican authorities
in their share of the task of maintaining law and order about the line
of our common boundary.
The long-pending boundary dispute between Costa Rica and Nicaragua was
referred to my arbitration, and by an award made on the 22d of March
last the question has been finally settled to the expressed satisfaction
of both of the parties in interest.
The Empire of Brazil, in abolishing the last vestige of slavery among
Christian nations, called forth the earnest congratulations of this
Government in expression of the cordial sympathies of our people.
The claims of nearly all other countries against Chile growing out of
her late war with Bolivia and Peru have been disposed of, either by
arbitration or by a lump settlement. Similar claims of our citizens will
continue to be urged upon the Chilean Government, and it is hoped will
not be subject to further delays.
A comprehensive treaty of amity and commerce with Peru was proclaimed on
November 7 last, and it is expected that under its operation mutual
prosperity and good understanding will be promoted.
In pursuance of the policy of arbitration, a treaty to settle the claim
of Santos, an American citizen, against Ecuador has been concluded under
my authority, and will be duly submitted for the approval of the Senate.
Like disposition of the claim of Carlos Butterfield against Denmark and
of Van Bokkelen against Hayti will probably be made, and I trust the
principle of such settlements may be extended in practice under the
approval of the Senate.
Through unforeseen causes, foreign to the will of both Governments, the
ratification of the convention of December 5, 1885, with Venezuela, for
the rehearing of claims of citizens of the United States under the
treaty of 1866, failed of exchange within the term provided, and a
supplementary convention, further extending the time for exchange of
ratifications and explanatory of an ambiguous provision of the prior
convention, now awaits the advice and consent of the Senate.
Although this matter, in the stage referred to, concerns only the
concurrent treaty-making power of one branch of Congress, I advert to it
in view of the interest repeatedly and conspicuously shown by you in
your legislative capacity in favor of a speedy and equitable adjustment
of the questions growing out of the discredited judgments of the
previous mixed commission of Caracas. With every desire to do justice to
the representations of Venezuela in this regard, the time seems to have
come to end this matter, and I trust the prompt confirmation by both
parties of the supplementary action referred to will avert the need of
legislative or other action to prevent the longer withholding of such
rights of actual claimants as may be shown to exist.
As authorized by the Congress, preliminary steps have been taken for the
assemblage at this capital during the coming year of the representatives
of South and Central American States, together with those of Mexico,
Hayti, and San Domingo, to discuss sundry important monetary and
Excepting in those cases where, from reasons of contiguity of territory
and the existence of a common border line incapable of being guarded,
reciprocal commercial treaties may be found expedient, it is believed
that commercial policies inducing freer mutual exchange of products can
be most advantageously arranged by independent but cooperative
In the mode last mentioned the control of our taxation for revenue will
be always retained in our own hands unrestricted by conventional
agreements with other governments.
In conformity also with Congressional authority, the maritime powers
have been invited to confer in Washington in April next upon the
practicability of devising uniform rules and measures for the greater
security of life and property at sea. A disposition to accept on the
part of a number of the powers has already been manifested, and if the
cooperation of the nations chiefly interested shall be secured important
results may be confidently anticipated.
The act of June 26, 1884, and the acts amendatory thereof, in relation
to tonnage duties, have given rise to extended correspondence with
foreign nations with whom we have existing treaties of navigation and
commerce, and have caused wide and regrettable divergence of opinion in
relation to the imposition of the duties referred to. These questions
are important, and I shall make them the subject of a special and more
detailed communication at the present session.
With the rapid increase of immigration to our shores and the facilities
of modern travel, abuses of the generous privileges afforded by our
naturalization laws call for their careful revision.
The easy and unguarded manner in which certificates of American
citizenship can now be obtained has induced a class, unfortunately
large, to avail themselves of the opportunity to become absolved from
allegiance to their native land, and yet by a foreign residence to
escape any just duty and contribution of service to the country of their
proposed adoption. Thus, while evading the duties of citizenship to the
United States, they may make prompt claim for its national protection
and demand its intervention in their behalf. International complications
of a serious nature arise, and the correspondence of the State
Department discloses the great number and complexity of the questions
which have been raised.
Our laws regulating the issue of passports should be carefully revised,
and the institution of a central bureau of registration at the capital
is again strongly recommended. By this means full particulars of each
case of naturalization in the United States would be secured and
properly indexed and recorded, and thus many cases of spurious
citizenship would be detected and unjust responsibilities would be
The reorganization of the consular service is a matter of serious
importance to our national interests. The number of existing principal
consular offices is believed to be greater than is at all necessary
for the conduct of the public business. It need not be our policy
to maintain more than a moderate number of principal offices, each
supported by a salary sufficient to enable the incumbent to live in
comfort, and so distributed as to secure the convenient supervision,
through subordinate agencies, of affairs over a considerable district.
I repeat the recommendations heretofore made by me that the
appropriations for the maintenance of our diplomatic and consular
service should be recast; that the so-called notarial or unofficial
fees, which our representatives abroad are now permitted to treat as
personal perquisites, should be forbidden; that a system of consular
inspection should be instituted, and that a limited number of
secretaries of legation at large should be authorized.
Preparations for the centennial celebration, on April 30, 1889, of the
inauguration of George Washington as President of the United States, at
the city of New York, have been made by a voluntary organization of the
citizens of that locality, and believing that an opportunity should be
afforded for the expression of the interest felt throughout the country
in this event, I respectfully recommend fitting and cooperative action
by Congress on behalf of the people of the United States.
The report of the Secretary of the Treasury exhibits in detail the
condition of our national finances and the operations of the several
branches of the Government related to his Department.
The total ordinary revenues of the Government for the fiscal year ended
June 30, 1888, amounted to $379,266,074.76, of which $219,091,173.63 was
received from customs duties and $124,296,871.98 from internal-revenue
The total receipts from all sources exceeded those for the fiscal year
ended June 30, 1887, by $7,862,797.10.
The ordinary expenditures of the Government for the fiscal year ending
June 30, 1888, were $259,653,958.67, leaving a surplus of
The decrease in these expenditures as compared with the fiscal year
ended June 30, 1887, was $8,278,221.30, notwithstanding the payment of
more than $5,000,000 for pensions in excess of what was paid for that
purpose in the latter-mentioned year.
The revenues of the Government for the year ending June 30, 1889,
ascertained for the quarter ended September 30, 1888, and estimated for
the remainder of the time, amount to $377,000,000, and the actual and
estimated ordinary expenditures for the same year are $273,000,000,
leaving an estimated surplus of $104,000,000.
The estimated receipts for the year ending June 30, 1890, are
$377,000,000, and the estimated ordinary expenditures for the same time
are $275,767,488.34, showing a surplus of $101,232,511.66.
The foregoing statements of surplus do not take into account the sum
necessary to be expended to meet the requirements of the sinking-fund
act, amounting to more than $47,000,000 annually.
The cost of collecting the customs revenues for the last fiscal year was
2.44 per cent; for the year 1885 it was 3.77 per cent.
The excess of internal-revenue taxes collected during the last fiscal
year over those collected for the year ended June 30, 1887, was
$5,489,174.26, and the cost of collecting this revenue decreased from
3.4 per cent in 1887 to less than 3.2 per cent for the last year. The
tax collected on oleomargarine was $723,948.04 for the year ending June
30, 1887, and $864,139.88 for the following year.
The requirements of the sinking-fund act have been met for the year
ended June 30, 1888, and for the current year also, by the purchase of
bonds. After complying with this law as positively required, and bonds
sufficient for that purpose had been bought at a premium, it was not
deemed prudent to further expend the surplus in such purchases until
the authority to do so should be more explicit. A resolution, however,
having been passed by both Houses of Congress removing all doubt as to
Executive authority, daily purchases of bonds were commenced on the 23d
day of April, 1888, and have continued until the present time. By this
plan bonds of the Government not yet due have been purchased up to and
including the 30th day of November, 1888, amounting to $94,700,400, the
premium paid thereon amounting to $17,508,613.08.
The premium added to the principal of these bonds represents an
investment yielding about 2 per cent interest for the time they still
had to run, and the saving to the Government represented by the
difference between the amount of interest at 2 per cent upon the sum
paid for principal and premium and what it would have paid for interest
at the rate specified in the bonds if they had run to their maturity is
At first sight this would seem to be a profitable and sensible
transaction on the part of the Government, but, as suggested by the
Secretary of the Treasury, the surplus thus expended for the purchase of
bonds was money drawn from the people in excess of any actual need of
the Government and was so expended rather than allow it to remain idle
in the Treasury. If this surplus, under the operation of just and
equitable laws, had been left in the hands of the people, it would have
been worth in their business at least 6 per cent per annum. Deducting
from the amount of interest upon the principal and premium of these
bonds for the time they had to run at the rate of 6 per cent the saving
of 2 per cent made for the people by the purchase of such bonds, the
loss will appear to be $55,760,000.
This calculation would seem to demonstrate that if excessive and
unnecessary taxation is continued and the Government is forced to pursue
this policy of purchasing its own bonds at the premiums which it will be
necessary to pay, the loss to the people will be hundreds of millions of
Since the purchase of bonds was undertaken as mentioned nearly all that
have been offered were at last accepted. It has been made quite apparent
that the Government was in danger of being subjected to combinations to
raise their price, as appears by the instance cited by the Secretary of
the offering of bonds of the par value of only $326,000 so often that
the aggregate of the sums demanded for their purchase amounted to more
Notwithstanding the large sums paid out in the purchase of bonds,
the surplus in the Treasury on the 30th day of November, 1888, was
$52,234,610.01, after deducting about $20,000,000 just drawn out for
the payment of pensions.
At the close of the fiscal year ended June 30, 1887, there had been
coined under the compulsory silver-coinage act $266,988,280 in silver
dollars, $55,504,310 of which were in the hands of the people.
On the 30th day of June, 1888, there had been coined $299,708,790; and
of this $55,829,303 was in circulation in coin, and $200,387,376 in
silver certificates, for the redemption of which silver dollars to that
amount were held by the Government.
On the 30th day of November, 1888, $312,570,990 had been coined,
$60,970,990 of the silver dollars were actually in circulation, and
$237,418,346 in certificates.
The Secretary recommends the suspension of the further coinage of
silver, and in such recommendation I earnestly concur.
For further valuable information and timely recommendations I ask the
careful attention of the Congress to the Secretary's report.
The Secretary of War reports that the Army at the date of the last
consolidated returns consisted of 2,189 officers and 24,549 enlisted
The actual expenditures of the War Department for the fiscal year ended
June 30, 1888, amounted to $41,165,107.07, of which sum $9,158,516.63
was expended for public works, including river and harbor improvements.
"The Board of Ordnance and Fortifications" provided for under the act
approved September 22 last was convened October 30, 1888, and plans and
specifications for procuring forgings for 8, 10, and 12 inch guns, under
provisions of section 4, and also for procuring 12-inch breech-loading
mortars, cast iron, hooped with steel, under the provisions of section 5
of the said act, were submitted to the Secretary of War for reference to
the board, by the Ordnance Department, on the same date.
These plans and specifications having been promptly approved by the
board and the Secretary of War, the necessary authority to publish
advertisements inviting proposals in the newspapers throughout the
country was granted by the Secretary on November 12, and on November 13
the advertisements were sent out to the different newspapers designated,
The bids for the steel forgings are to be opened on December 20, 1888,
and for the mortars on December 15, 1888.
A board of ordnance officers was convened at the Watervliet Arsenal on
October 4, 1888, to prepare the necessary plans and specifications for
the establishment of an army gun factory at that point. The preliminary
report of this board, with estimates for shop buildings and officers'
quarters, was approved by the Board of Ordnance and Fortifications
November 6 and 8. The specifications and form of advertisement and
instructions to bidders have been prepared, and advertisements inviting
proposals for the excavations for the shop building and for erecting
the two sets of officers' quarters have been published. The detailed
drawings and specifications for the gun-factory building are well in
hand, and will be finished within three or four months, when bids will
be invited for the erection of the building. The list of machines, etc.,
is made out, and it is expected that the plans for the large lathes,
etc., will be completed within about four months, and after approval by
the Board of Ordnance and Fortifications bids for furnishing the same
will be invited. The machines and other fixtures will be completed as
soon as the shop is in readiness to receive them, probably about July,
Under the provisions of the Army bill for the procurement of pneumatic
dynamite guns, the necessary specifications are now being prepared, and
advertisements for proposals will issue early in December. The guns will
probably be of 15 inches caliber and fire a projectile that will carry a
charge each of about 500 pounds of explosive gelatine with full-caliber
projectiles. The guns will probably be delivered in from six to ten
months from the date of the contract, so that all the guns of this class
that can be procured under the provisions of the law will be purchased
during the year 1889.
I earnestly request that the recommendations contained in the
Secretary's report, all of which are, in my opinion, calculated to
increase the usefulness and discipline of the Army, may receive the
consideration of the Congress. Among these the proposal that there
should be provided a plan for the examination of officers to test their
fitness for promotion is of the utmost importance. This reform has been
before recommended in the reports of the Secretary, and its expediency
is so fully demonstrated by the argument he presents in its favor that
its adoption should no longer be neglected.
The death of General Sheridan in August last was a national affliction.
The Army then lost the grandest of its chiefs. The country lost a brave
and experienced soldier, a wise and discreet counselor, and a modest and
sensible man. Those who in any manner came within the range of his
personal association will never fail to pay deserved and willing homage
to his greatness and the glory of his career, but they will cherish with
more tender sensibility the loving memory of his simple, generous, and
The Apache Indians, whose removal from their reservation in Arizona
followed the capture of those of their number who engaged in a bloody
and murderous raid during a part of the years 1885 and 1886, are now
held as prisoners of war at Mount Vernon Barracks, in the State of
Alabama. They numbered on the 31st day of October, the date of the last
report, 83 men, 170 women, 70 boys, and 59 girls; in all, 382 persons.
The commanding officer states that they are in good health and
contented, and that they are kept employed as fully as is possible in
the circumstances. The children, as they arrive at a suitable age, are
sent to the Indian schools at Carlisle and Hampton.
Last summer some charitable and kind people asked permission to send two
teachers to these Indians for the purpose of instructing the adults as
well as such children as should be found there. Such permission was
readily granted, accommodations were provided for the teachers, and some
portions of the buildings at the barracks were made available for school
purposes. The good work contemplated has been commenced, and the
teachers engaged are paid by the ladies with whom the plan originated.
I am not at all in sympathy with those benevolent but injudicious people
who are constantly insisting that these Indians should be returned to
their reservation. Their removal was an absolute necessity if the lives
and property of citizens upon the frontier are to be at all regarded by
the Government. Their continued restraint at a distance from the scene
of their repeated and cruel murders and outrages is still necessary.
It is a mistaken philanthropy, every way injurious, which prompts the
desire to see these savages returned to their old haunts. They are in
their present location as the result of the best judgment of those
having official responsibility in the matter, and who are by no means
lacking in kind consideration for the Indians. A number of these
prisoners have forfeited their lives to outraged law and humanity.
Experience has proved that they are dangerous and can not be trusted.
This is true not only of those who on the warpath have heretofore
actually been guilty of atrocious murder, but of their kindred and
friends, who, while they remained upon their reservation, furnished aid
and comfort to those absent with bloody intent.
These prisoners should be treated kindly and kept in restraint far from
the locality of their former reservation; they should be subjected to
efforts calculated to lead to their improvement and the softening of
their savage and cruel instincts, but their return to their old home
should be persistently resisted.
The Secretary in his report gives a graphic history of these Indians,
and recites with painful vividness their bloody deeds and the unhappy
failure of the Government to manage them by peaceful means. It will be
amazing if a perusal of this history will allow the survival of a desire
for the return of these prisoners to their reservation upon sentimental
or any other grounds.
The report of the Secretary of the Navy demonstrates very intelligent
management in that important Department, and discloses the most
satisfactory progress in the work of reconstructing the Navy made during
the past year. Of the ships in course of construction five, viz. the
Charleston, Baltimore, Yorktown, Vesuvius, and the Petrel,
have in that time been launched and are rapidly approaching completion;
and in addition to the above, the Philadelphia, the San Francisco, the
Newark, the Bennington, the Concord, and the Herreshoff torpedo
boat are all under contract for delivery to the Department during the
next year. The progress already made and being made gives good ground
for the expectation that these eleven vessels will be incorporated as
part of the American Navy within the next twelve months.
The report shows that notwithstanding the large expenditures for new
construction and the additional labor they involve the total ordinary or
current expenditures of the Department for the three years ending June
30, 1888, are less by more than 20 per cent than such expenditures for
the three years ending June 30, 1884.
The various steps which have been taken to improve the business methods
of the Department are reviewed by the Secretary. The purchasing of
supplies has been consolidated and placed under a responsible bureau
head. This has resulted in the curtailment of open purchases, which in
the years 1884 and 1885 amounted to over 50 per cent of all the
purchases of the Department, to less than 11 per cent; so that at the
present time about 90 per cent of the total departmental purchases are
made by contract and after competition. As the expenditures on this
account exceed an average of $2,000,000 annually, it is evident that an
important improvement in the system has been inaugurated and substantial
The report of the Postmaster-General shows a marked increase of business
in every branch of the postal service.
The number of post-offices on July 1, 1888, was 57,376, an increase of
6,124 in three years and of 2,219 for the last fiscal year. The
latter-mentioned increase is classified as follows:
New England States
Southern States and Indian Territory (41)
The States and Territories of the Pacific Coast
The ten States and Territories of the West and Northwest
District of Columbia
Free-delivery offices have increased from 189 in the fiscal year ended
June 30, 1887, to 358 in the year ended June 30, 1888.
In the Railway Mail Service there has been an increase in one year of
168 routes, and in the number of miles traveled per annum an increase of
15,795,917.48. The estimated increase of railroad service for the year
was 6,000 miles, but the amount of new railroad service actually put on
was 12,764.50 miles.
The volume of business in the Money-Order Division, including
transactions in postal notes, reached the sum of upward of $143,000,000
for the year.
During the past year parcel-post conventions have been concluded with
Barbados, the Bahamas, British Honduras, and Mexico, and are now under
negotiation with all the Central and South American States. The increase
of correspondence with foreign countries during the past three years is
gratifying, and is especially notable and exceptional with the Central
and South American States and with Mexico. As the greater part of mail
matter exchanged with these countries is commercial in its character,
this increase is evidence of the improved business relations with them.
The practical operation of the parcel-post conventions, so far as
negotiated, has served to fulfill the most favorable predictions as to
their benefits. In January last a general postal convention was
negotiated with the Dominion of Canada, which went into operation on
March 1, and which practically makes one postal territory of the United
States and Canada. Under it merchandise parcels may now be transmitted
through the mails at fourth-class rates of postage.
It is not possible here to touch even the leading heads of the great
postal establishment to illustrate the enormous and rapid growth of its
business and the needs for legislative readjustment of much of its
machinery that it has outgrown. For these and valuable recommendations
of the Postmaster-General attention is earnestly invited to his report.
A Department whose revenues have increased from $19,772,000 in 1870 to
$52,700,000 in 1888, despite reductions of postage which have enormously
reduced rates of revenue while greatly increasing its business, demands
the careful consideration of the Congress as to all matters suggested by
those familiar with its operations, and which are calculated to increase
its efficiency and usefulness.
A bill proposed by the Postmaster-General was introduced at the last
session of the Congress by which a uniform standard in the amount of
gross receipts would fix the right of a community to a public building
to be erected by the Government for post-office purposes. It was
demonstrated that, aside from the public convenience and the promotion
of harmony among citizens, invariably disturbed by change of leasings
and of site, it was a measure of the highest economy and of sound
business judgment. It was found that the Government was paying in rents
at the rate of from 7 to 10 per cent per annum on what the cost of such
public buildings would be. A very great advantage resulting from such a
law would be the prevention of a large number of bills constantly
introduced for the erection of public buildings at places, and involving
expenditures not justified by public necessity. I trust that this
measure will become a law at the present session of Congress.
Of the total number of postmasters 54,874 are of the fourth class.
These, of course, receive no allowances whatever for expenses in the
service, and their compensation is fixed by percentages on receipts at
their respective offices. This rate of compensation may have been, and
probably was, at some time just, but the standard has remained unchanged
through the several reductions in the rates of postage. Such reductions
have necessarily cut down the compensation of these officials, while it
undoubtedly increased the business performed by them. Simple justice
requires attention to this subject, to the end that fourth-class
postmasters may receive at least an equivalent to that which the law
itself, fixing the rate, intended for them.
Another class of postal employees whose condition seems to demand
legislation is that of clerks in post-offices, and I call especial
attention to the repeated recommendations of the Postmaster-General for
their classification. Proper legislation of this character for the
relief of carriers in the free-delivery service has been frequent.
Provision is made for their promotion; for substitutes for them on
vacation; for substitutes for holidays, and limiting their hours of
labor. Seven million dollars has been appropriated for the current year
to provide for them, though the total number of offices where they are
employed is but 358 for the past fiscal year, with an estimated increase
for the current year of but 40, while the total appropriation for all
clerks in offices throughout the United States is $5,950,000.
The legislation affecting the relations of the Government with railroads
is in need of revision. While for the most part the railroad companies
throughout the country have cordially cooperated with the Post-Office
Department in rendering excellent service, yet under the law as it
stands, while the compensation to them for carrying the mail is limited
and regulated, and although railroads are made post-roads by law, there
is no authority reposed anywhere to compel the owner of a railroad to
take and carry the United States mails. The only alternative provided by
act of Congress in case of refusal is for the Postmaster-General to send
mail forward by pony express. This is but an illustration of ill-fitting
legislation, reasonable and proper at the time of its enactment, but
long since outgrown and requiring readjustment.
It is gratifying to note from the carefully prepared statistics
accompanying the Postmaster-General's report that notwithstanding the
great expansion of the service the rate of expenditure has been lessened
and efficiency has been improved in every branch; that fraud and crime
have decreased; that losses from the mails have been reduced, and that
the number of complaints of the service made to postmasters and to the
Department are far less than ever before.
The transactions of the Department of Justice for the fiscal year ended
June 30, 1888, are contained in the report of the Attorney-General, as
well as a number of valuable recommendations, the most part of which are
repetitions of those previously made, and ought to receive
It is stated in this report that though judgments in civil suits
amounting to $552,021.08 were recovered in favor of the Government
during the year, only the sum of $132,934 was collected thereon; and
that though fines, penalties, and forfeitures were imposed amounting to
$541,808.43, only $109,648.42 of that sum was paid on account thereof.
These facts may furnish an illustration of the sentiment which
extensively prevails that a debt due the Government should cause no
inconvenience to the citizen.
It also appears from this report that though prior to March, 1885, there
had been but 6 convictions in the Territories of Utah and Idaho under
the laws of 1862 and 1882, punishing polygamy and unlawful cohabitation
as crimes, there have been since that date nearly 600 convictions under
these laws and the statutes of 1887; and the opinion is expressed that
under such a firm and vigilant execution of these laws and the advance
of ideas opposed to the forbidden practices polygamy within the United
States is virtually at an end.
Suits instituted by the Government under the provisions of the act of
March 3, 1887, for the termination of the corporations known as the
Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company and the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints have resulted in a decree favorable to the Government,
declaring the charters of these corporations forfeited and escheating
their property. Such property, amounting in value to more than $800,000,
is in the hands of a receiver pending further proceedings, an appeal
having been taken to the Supreme Court of the United States.
In the report of the Secretary of the Interior, which will be laid
before you, the condition of the various branches of our domestic
affairs connected with that Department and its operations during the
past year are fully exhibited. But a brief reference to some of the
subjects discussed in this able and interesting report can here be made;
but I commend the entire report to the attention of the Congress, and
trust that the sensible and valuable recommendations it contains will
secure careful consideration.
I can not too strenuously insist upon the importance of proper measures
to insure a right disposition of our public lands, not only as a matter
of present justice, but in forecast of the consequences to future
generations. The broad, rich acres of our agricultural plains have been
long-preserved by nature to become her untrammeled gift to a people
civilized and free, upon which should rest in well-distributed ownership
the numerous homes of enlightened, equal, and fraternal citizens. They
came to national possession with the warning example in our eyes of the
entail of iniquities in landed proprietorship which other countries have
permitted and still suffer. We have no excuse for the violation of
principles cogently taught by reason and example, nor for the allowance
of pretexts which have sometimes exposed our lands to colossal greed.
Laws which open a door to fraudulent acquisition, or administration
which permits favor to rapacious seizure by a favored few of expanded
areas that many should enjoy, are accessory to offenses against our
national welfare and humanity not to be too severely condemned or
It is gratifying to know that something has been done at last to
redress the injuries to our people and check the perilous tendency of
the reckless waste of the national domain. That over 80,000,000 acres
have been arrested from illegal usurpation, improvident grants, and
fraudulent entries and claims, to be taken for the homesteads of honest
industry—although less than the greater areas thus unjustly lost—must
afford a profound gratification to right-feeling citizens, as it is
a recompense for the labors and struggles of the recovery. Our dear
experience ought sufficiently to urge the speedy enactment of measures
of legislation which will confine the future disposition of our
remaining agricultural lands to the uses of actual husbandry and genuine
Nor should our vast tracts of so-called desert lands be yielded up to
the monopoly of corporations or grasping individuals, as appears to be
much the tendency under the existing statute. These lands require but
the supply of water to become fertile and productive. It is a problem of
great moment how most wisely for the public good that factor shall be
furnished. I can not but think it perilous to suffer either these lands
or the sources of their irrigation to fall into the hands of monopolies,
which by such means may exercise lordship over the areas dependent on
their treatment for productiveness. Already steps have been taken to
secure accurate and scientific information of the conditions, which is
the prime basis of intelligent action. Until this shall be gained the
course of wisdom appears clearly to lie in a suspension of further
disposal, which only promises to create rights antagonistic to the
common interest. No harm can follow this cautionary conduct. The land
will remain, and the public good presents no demand for hasty
dispossession of national ownership and control.
I commend also the recommendations that appropriate measures be taken to
complete the adjustment of the various grants made to the States for
internal improvements and of swamp and overflowed lands, as well as to
adjudicate and finally determine the validity and extent of the numerous
private land claims. All these are elements of great injustice and peril
to the settlers upon the localities affected; and now that their
existence can not be avoided, no duty is more pressing than to fix as
soon as possible their bounds and terminate the threats of trouble which
arise from uncertainty.
The condition of our Indian population continues to improve and the
proofs multiply that the transforming change, so much to be desired,
which shall substitute for barbarism enlightenment and civilizing
education, is in favorable progress. Our relations with these people
during the year have been disturbed by no serious disorders, but rather
marked by a better realization of their true interests and increasing
confidence and good will. These conditions testify to the value of the
higher tone of consideration and humanity which has governed the later
methods of dealing with them, and commend its continued observance.
Allotments in severalty have been made on some reservations until all
those entitled to land thereon have had their shares assigned, and the
work is still continued. In directing the execution of this duty I have
not aimed so much at rapid dispatch as to secure just and fair
arrangements which shall best conduce to the objects of the law by
producing satisfaction with the results of the allotments made. No
measure of general effect has ever been entered on from which more may
be fairly hoped if it shall be discreetly administered. It proffers
opportunity and inducement to that independence of spirit and life which
the Indian peculiarly needs, while at the same time the inalienability
of title affords security against the risks his inexperience of affairs
or weakness of character may expose him to in dealing with others.
Whenever begun upon any reservation it should be made complete, so that
all are brought to the same condition, and as soon as possible community
in lands should cease by opening such as remain unallotted to
settlement. Contact with the ways of industrious and successful farmers
will perhaps add a healthy emulation which will both instruct and
But no agency for the amelioration of this people appears to me so
promising as the extension, urged by the Secretary, of such complete
facilities of education as shall at the earliest possible day embrace
all teachable Indian youth, of both sexes, and retain them with a kindly
and beneficent hold until their characters are formed and their
faculties and dispositions trained to the sure pursuit of some form of
useful industry. Capacity of the Indian no longer needs demonstration.
It is established. It remains to make the most of it, and when that
shall be done the curse will be lifted, the Indian race saved, and the
sin of their oppression redeemed. The time of its accomplishment depends
upon the spirit and justice with which it shall be prosecuted. It can
not be too soon for the Indian nor for the interests and good name of
The average attendance of Indian pupils on the schools increased by over
900 during the year, and the total enrollment reached 15,212. The cost
of maintenance was not materially raised. The number of teachable Indian
youth is now estimated at 40,000, or nearly three times the enrollment
of the schools. It is believed the obstacles in the way of instructing
are all surmountable, and that the necessary expenditure would be a
measure of economy.
The Sioux tribes on the great reservation of Dakota refused to assent to
the act passed by the Congress at its last session for opening a portion
of their lands to settlement, notwithstanding modification of the terms
was suggested which met most of their objections. Their demand is for
immediate payment of the full price of $1.25 per acre for the entire
body of land the occupancy of which they are asked to relinquish.
The manner of submission insured their fair understanding of the law,
and their action was undoubtedly as thoroughly intelligent as their
capacity admitted. It is at least gratifying that no reproach of
over-reaching can in any manner lie against the Government, however
advisable the favorable completion of the negotiation may have been
I concur in the suggestions of the Secretary regarding the Turtle
Mountain Indians, the two reservations in California, and the Crees.
They should, in my opinion, receive immediate attention.
The number of pensioners added to the rolls during the fiscal year ended
June 30, 1888, is 60,252, and increase of pensions was granted in 45,716
cases. The names of 15,730 pensioners were dropped from the rolls during
the year from various causes, and at the close of the year the number of
persons of all classes receiving pensions was 452,557. Of these there
were 806 survivors of the War of 1812, 10,787 widows of those who served
in that war, 16,060 soldiers of the Mexican War, and 5,104 widows of
One hundred and two different rates of pensions are paid to these
beneficiaries, ranging from $2 to $416.66 per month.
The amount paid for pensions during the fiscal year was $78,775,861.92,
being an increase over the preceding year of $5,308,280.22. The expenses
attending the maintenance and operation of the Pension Bureau during
that period was $3,262,524.67, making the entire expenditures of the
Bureau $82,038,386.57, being 21-1/2 per cent of the gross income and
nearly 31 per cent of the total expenditures of the Government during
I am thoroughly convinced that our general pension laws should be
revised and adjusted to meet as far as possible, in the light of our
experience, all meritorious cases. The fact that 102 different rates of
pensions are paid can not, in my opinion, be made consistent with
justice to the pensioners or to the Government; and the numerous private
pension bills that are passed, predicated upon the imperfection of
general laws, while they increase in many cases existing inequality and
injustice, lend additional force to the recommendation for a revision of
the general laws on this subject.
The laxity of ideas prevailing among a large number of our people
regarding pensions is becoming every day more marked. The principles
upon which they should be granted are in danger of being altogether
ignored, and already pensions are often claimed because the applicants
are as much entitled as other successful applicants, rather than upon
any disability reasonably attributable to military service. If the
establishment of vicious precedents be continued, if the granting of
pensions be not divorced from partisan and other unworthy and irrelevant
considerations, and if the honorable name of veteran unfairly becomes by
these means but another term for one who constantly clamors for the aid
of the Government, there is danger that injury will be done to the fame
and patriotism of many whom our citizens all delight to honor, and that
a prejudice will be aroused unjust to meritorious applicants for
The Department of Agriculture has continued, with a good measure of
success, its efforts to develop the processes, enlarge the results,
and augment the profits of American husbandry. It has collected and
distributed practical information, introduced and tested new plants,
checked the spread of contagious diseases of farm animals, resisted the
advance of noxious insects and destructive fungous growths, and sought
to secure to agricultural labor the highest reward of effort and the
fullest immunity from loss. Its records of the year show that the season
of 1888 has been one of medium production. A generous supply of the
demands of consumption has been assured, and a surplus for exportation,
moderate in certain products and bountiful in others, will prove a
benefaction alike to buyer and grower.
Four years ago it was found that the great cattle industry of the
country was endangered, and those engaged in it were alarmed at the
rapid extension of the European lung plague of pleuro-pneumonia. Serious
outbreaks existed in Illinois, Missouri, and Kentucky, and in Tennessee
animals affected were held in quarantine. Five counties in New York and
from one to four counties in each of the States of New Jersey,
Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland were almost equally affected.
With this great danger upon us and with the contagion already in the
channels of commerce, with the enormous direct and indirect losses
already being caused by it, and when only prompt and energetic action
could be successful, there were in none of these States any laws
authorizing this Department to eradicate the malady or giving the State
officials power to cooperate with it for this purpose. The Department
even lacked both the requisite appropriation and authority.
By securing State cooperation in connection with authority from Congress
the work of eradication has been pressed successfully, and this dreaded
disease has been extirpated from the Western States and also from the
Eastern States, with the exception of a few restricted areas, which are
still under supervision. The danger has thus been removed, and trade and
commerce have been freed from the vexatious State restrictions which
were deemed necessary for a time.
During the past four years the process of diffusion, as applied to the
manufacture of sugar from sorghum and sugar cane, has been introduced
into this country and fully perfected by the experiments carried on
by the Department of Agriculture. This process is now universally
considered to be the most economical one, and it is through it that the
sorghum-sugar industry has been established upon a firm basis and the
road to its future success opened. The adoption of this diffusion
process is also extending in Louisiana and other sugar-producing parts
of the country, and will doubtless soon be the only method employed for
the extraction of sugar from the cane.
An exhaustive study has also within the same period been undertaken of
the subject of food adulteration and the best analytical methods for
detecting it. A part of the results of this work has already been
published by the Department, which, with the matter in course of
preparation, will make the most complete treatise on that subject that
has ever been published in any country.
The Department seeks a progressive development. It would combine the
discoveries of science with the economics and amelioration of rural
practice. A supervision of the endowed experimental-station system
recently provided for is a proper function of the Department, and is now
in operation. This supervision is very important, and should be wisely
and vigilantly directed, to the end that the pecuniary aid of the
Government in favor of intelligent agriculture should be so applied as
to result in the general good and to the benefit of all our people, thus
justifying the appropriations made from the public Treasury.
The adjustment of the relations between the Government and the railroad
companies which have received land grants and the guaranty of the public
credit in aid of the construction of their roads should receive early
attention. The report of a majority of the commissioners appointed to
examine the affairs and indebtedness of these roads, in which they favor
an extension of the time for the payment of such indebtedness in at
least one case where the corporation appears to be able to comply with
well-guarded and exact terms of such extension, and the reenforcement
of their opinion by gentlemen of undoubted business judgment and
experience, appointed to protect the interests of the Government as
directors of said corporation, may well lead to the belief that such an
extension would be to the advantage of the Government.
The subject should be treated as a business proposition with a view to a
final realization of its indebtedness by the Government, rather than as
a question to be decided upon prejudice or by way of punishment for
The report of the Commissioners of the District of Columbia, with its
accompanying documents, gives in detail the operations of the several
departments of the District government, and furnishes evidence that the
financial affairs of the District are at present in such satisfactory
condition as to justify the Commissioners in submitting to the Congress
estimates for desirable and needed improvements.
The Commissioners recommend certain legislation which in their opinion
is necessary to advance the interests of the District.
I invite your special attention to their request for such legislation
as will enable the Commissioners without delay to collect, digest, and
properly arrange the laws by which the District is governed, and which
are now embraced in several collections, making them available only with
great difficulty and labor. The suggestions they make touching desirable
amendments to the laws relating to licenses granted for carrying on the
retail traffic in spirituous liquors, to the observance of Sunday, to
the proper assessment and collection of taxes, to the speedy punishment
of minor offenders, and to the management and control of the reformatory
and charitable institutions supported by Congressional appropriations
are commended to careful consideration.
I again call attention to the present inconvenience and the danger to
life and property attending the operation of steam railroads through and
across the public streets and roads of the District. The propriety of
such legislation as will properly guard the use of these railroads and
better secure the convenience and safety of citizens is manifest.
The consciousness that I have presented but an imperfect statement
of the condition of our country and its wants occasions no fear that
anything omitted is not known and appreciated by the Congress, upon whom
rests the responsibility of intelligent legislation in behalf of a great
nation and a confiding people.
As public servants we shall do our duty well if we constantly guard the
rectitude of our intentions, maintain unsullied our love of country, and
with unselfish purpose strive for the public good.