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reign nations; to extinguish the native right of soil within our limits; to extend those limits; and to apply such a surplus to our public debts as places at a short day their final redemption: and, that redemption once effected, the revenue thereby liberated may, by a just repartition of it among the States, and a corresponding amendment of the Constitution, be applied, in time of peace to rivers, canals, roads, arts, manufactures, education, and other great objects, within each State. In time of war, if injustice by ourselves or others must sometimes produce war, increased, as the same revenue will be, by increased population and consumption, and aided by other resources reserved for that crisis, it may meet, within the year, all the expenses of the year, without encroaching on the rights of future generations, by burdening them with the debts of the past. War will then be but a suspension of useful works; and a return to a state of peace, a return to the progress of improvement.
I have said, fellow-citizens, that the income reserved had enabled us to extend our limits; but that extension may possibly pay for itself before we are called on, and, in the mean time, may keep down the accruing interest: in all events, it will replace the advances we shall have made. I know that the acquisition of Louisiana has been disapproved by some, from a candid apprehension that the enlargement of our territory would endanger its union. But who can limit the extent to which the federative principle may operate effectively? The larger our association, the less will it be shaken by local passions; and, in any view, is it not better that the opposite bank of the Mississippi should be settled by our own brethren and children, than by strangers of another family? With which should we be most likely to live in harmony and friendly intercourse %
In matters of religion, I have considered that its free exercise is placed by the Constitution independent of the powers of the General Government. I have therefore undertaken, on no occasion, to prescribe the religious exercises suited to it, but have left them, as the Constitution found them, under the direction and discipline of the church or State authorities acknowledged by the several religious societies.
The aboriginal inhabitants of these countries I have regarded with the commiseration their history inspires. Endowed with the faculties and the rights of men, breathing an ardent love of liberty and independence, and occupying a country which left them no desire but to be undisturbed, the stream of overflowing population from other regions directed itself on these shores. Without power to divert, or habits to contend against it, they have been overwhelmed by the current, or driven before it. Now reduced within limits too narrow for the hunter state, humanity enjoins us to teach them agriculture and the domestic arts, to encourage them to that industry which alone can enable them to maintain their place in existence, and to prepare them, in time, for that state of society which to bodily comforts adds the improvement of the mind and morals. We have, therefore, liberally furnished them with the implements of husbandry and household use: we have placed among them instructors in the arts of first necessity; and they are covered with the aegis of the law against aggressors from among ourselves.
But the endeavors to enlighten them on the fate which awaits their present course of life, to induce them to exercise their reason, follow its dictates, and change their pursuits with the change of circumstances, have powerful obstacles to encounter. They are combated by the habits of their bodies, prejudices of their minds, ignorance, pride, and the influence of interested and crafty individuals among them, who feel themselves something in the present order of things, and fear to become nothing in any other. These persons inculcate a sanctimonious reverence for the customs of their ancestors; that whatsoever they did must be done through all time; that reason is a false guide, and to advance under its counsel in their physical, moral, or political condition, is perilous innovation; that their duty is to remain as the Creator made them—ignorance being safety, and knowledge full of danger. In short, Jay friends, among them, also, is seen the action and counteraction of good sense and of bigotry. They, too, have their anti-philosophists, who find an interest in keeping things in their present state, who dread reformation, and exert all their faculties to maintain the ascendancy of habit over the duty of improving our reason and obeying its mandates.
In giving these outlines, I do not mean, fellow-citizens, to arrogate to myself the merit of the measures: that is due, in the first place, to the reflecting character of our citizens at large, who, by the weight of public opinion, influence and strengthen the public measures. It is due to the sound discretion with which they select from among themselves those to whom they confide the legislative duties. It is due to the zeal and wisdom of the characters thus selected, who lay the foundations of public happiness in wholesome laws, the execution of which alone remains for others. And it is due to the able and faithful auxiliaries whose patriotism has associated them with me in the executive functions.
During this course of administration, and in order to disturb it, the artillery of the press has been levelled against us, charged with whatsoever its licentiousness could devise or dare. These abuses of an institution so important to freedom and science are deeply to be regretted, inasmuch as they tend to lessen its usefulness and to sap its safety. They might, indeed, have been corrected by the wholesome punishments reserved to and provided by the laws ot the several States against falsehood and defamation; but public duties, more urgent, press on the time of public servants, and the offeriders have therefore been left to find their punishment in the public indignation.
Nor was it uninteresting to the world, that an experiment should be fairly and fully made, whether freedom of discussion, unaided by power, is not sufficient for the propagation and protection of truth t Whether a government, conducting itself in the true spirit of its constitution, with zeal and purity, and doing no act which it would be unwilling the whole world should witness, can be written down by falsehood and defamation 1 The experiment has been tried. You have witnessed the scene. Our fellow-citiZens looked on cool and collected. They saw the latent source from which these outrages proceeded. They gathered around their public functionaries; and, when the Constitution called them to the decision by suffrage, they pronounced their verdict honorable to those who had served them, and consolatory to the friend of man, who believes that hetmay be trusted with the control of his own affairs.
No inference is here intended that the laws provided by the States against false and defamatory publications should not be enforced. He who has time, renders a service to public morals and public tranquillity in reforming these abuses by the salutary coercions of the law. But the experiment is noted to prove that, since truth and reason have maintained their ground against false opinions, in league with false facts, the press, confined to truth, needs no other legal restraint. The public judgment will correct false reasonings and opinions, on a full hearing of all parties; and no other definite line can be drawn between the inestimable liberty of the press and its demoralizing licentiousness. If there be still improprieties which this rule would not restrain, its supplement must be sought in the censorship of public opinion.
Contemplating the union of sentiment now manifested so generally, as auguring harmony and happiness to our future course, I offer to our country sincere congratulations. With those, too, not yet rallied to the same point, the disposition to do so is gaining strength. Facts are piercing through the veil drawn over them; and our doubting brethren will at length see that the mass of their fellow-citizens, with whom they cannot yet resolve to act, as to principles and measures, think as they think, and desire what they desire; that our wish, as well as theirs, is, that the public efforts may be directed honestly to the public good, that peace be cultivated, civil and religious liberty unassailed, law and order preserved, equality of rights maintained, and that state of property, equal or unequal, which results to every man from his own industry or that of his father's. When satisfied of these views, it is not in human nature that they should not approve and support them. In the mean time, let us cherish them with patient affection; let us do them justice, and more than justice, in all competitions of interest,—and we need ifbt doubt that truth, reason, and their own interests, will at length prevail—will gather them into the fold of their country, and will complete that entire union of opinion which gives to a nation the blessing of harmony, and the benefit of all its strength.
I shall now enter on the duties to which my fellow-citizens have again called me, and shall proceed in the spirit of those principles which they have approved. I fear not that any motives of interest may lead me astray. I am sensible of no passion which could seduce me, knowingly, from the path of justice; but the weaknesses of human nature, and the.limits of my own understanding, will produce errors of judgment sometimes injurious to your interests. I shall-need, therefore, all the indulgence which I have heretofore experienced from my constituents. ■ The wan»of it will certainly not lessen with increasing years. I shall need, too, the favor of that Being in whose hands we are; who led our fathers, as Israel of old, from their native land, and plaited them in a country flowing with all the necessaries arfd comforts of life; who has covered our infancy with His providence, and our riper years with His wisdom and power; and to whose goodness I ask you to join in supplications with me, that He will so enlighten the minds of your servants, guide their councils, and prosper their measures, that whatsoever they do shall result in your good, and shall secure to you the peace, friendship, and approbation of all nations.
6. INAUGURAL ADDRESS OF JAMES MADISON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, AT HIS FIRST TERM OF OFFICE.
March 4, 1809.
Gentlemen of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives:
Unwilling to depart from examples of the most revered authority, I avail myself of the occasion now presented, to express the profound impression made on me, by the call of my country, to the station, to the duties of which I arn about to pledge myself, by the most solemn of sanctions. So distinguished a mark of confidence, proceeding from the deliberate and tranquil suffrage of a free and virtuous nation, would, under any circumstances, have commanded my gratitude and devotion, as well as filled me with an awful sense of the trust to be assumed. Under the various circumstances which give peculiar solemnity to the existing period, I feel that both the honor and the responsibility allotted to me, are inexpressibly enhanced. .
The present situation of the world is, indeed, without a parallel and that of our country full of difficulties. The pressure of ^he's* two is the more severely felt, because they have fallen upon us at a moment when national prosperity, being at a height not before attained, the contrast resulting from this change has been rendered the more striking. Under the benign influence of our republican institutions, and the maintenance of peace with all nations, whilst so many of them were engaged in bloody arid wasteful wars, the fruits of a just policy were enjoyed in an unrivalled growth of oar' faculties and resources. Proofs of this were seen in the impressments of agriculture; in the successful enterprises of commerce; in the progress of manufactures and useful arts; in the increase of! the public revenue, and the use made of it in reducing the, piibiid; debt; and in the valuable works and establishments everywhere multiplying over the face of our land.
It is a precious reflection, that the transition from this prosperous condition of our country, to the scene which has for some time been distressing us, is not chargeable on any unwarrantable flexs, nor, as I trust, on any involuntary errors in the public cjpun.G'ils. Indulging no passions which trespass on the rights or the TesjJosW of other nations, it has been the true glory of the United Sates to' cultivate peace, by observing justice, and to entitle themselves to the respect of the nations at war, by fulfilling their neutral ob[iga-j tions with the most scrupulous. impartiality. If there be candor • in the world, the truth of these assertions will not be questioned." Posterity, at least, will do justice to them.
This unexceptionable course could not avail against the injustice and violence of the belligerent powers. In their rage against >|ach, other, or impelled by more direct motives, principles of retaliation have been introduced, equally contrary to universal reason and] knowledged law. How long their arbitrary edicts will be c, tinued, in spite of the demonstrations that not evena pretext them has been given by the United States, and of the fair i) liberal attempts to induce a revocation of them, cannot be anticipated. Assuring myself that, under every vicissitude the determined spirit and united councils of the nation will be safeguards to its honor and its essential interests, I repair to the post assigned me, with no other discouragement than what springs from my own inadequacy to its high duties. If I do not sink under the weight of this deep conviction, it is because I find some support in a consciousness of the purposes, and a confidence in the principles which I bring with me into this arduous service.
To cherish peace and friendly intercourse with all nations, ha^jng correspondent dispositions; to maintain sincere neutrality towards