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vested an agent, then in Europe, with power to declare our willingness promptly to recognize her independence in the event of her ability to sustain it. The powerful intervention of Russia in the contest extinguished the hopes of the struggling Magyars. The United States did not, at any time, interfere in the contest; but the feelings of the nation were strongly enlisted in the cause, and by the sufferings of a brave people, who had made a gallant though unsuccessful effort to be free. Our claims upon Portugal have been during the past year prosecuted with renewed vigor, and it has been my object to employ every effort of honorable diplomacy to . procure their adjustment. Our late chargé d'affaires at Lisbon, the Hon. George W. Hopkins, made able and energetic, but unsuccessful efforts to settle these unpleasant matters of controversy, and to obtain indemnity for the wrongs which were the subjects of complaint. Our present chargé d'affaires at that court will also bring to the prosecution of these claims ability and zeal. The revolutionary and distracted condition of Portugal in past times has been represented as one of the leading causes of her delay in indemnifying our suffering citizens. But I must now say it is matter of profound regret that these claims have not yet been settled. The omission of Portugal to do justice to the American claimants has now assumed a character so grave and serious, that I shall shortly make it the subject of a special message to Congress, with a view to such ultimate action as its wisdom and patriotism may suggest. With Russia, Austria, Prussia, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, and the Italian States, we still maintain our accustomed amicable relations. During the recent revolutions in the Papal States, our chargé d'affaires at Rome has been unable to present his letter of credence; which, indecd, he was directed by my predecessor to withhold until he should receive further orders. Such was the unsettked condition of things in those states, that it was not deemed expedient to give him any instructions on the subject of presenting his credential letter different from those with which he had been furnished by the late administration until the 25th of June last; when, in consequence of the want of accurate information of the ex
act state of things at that distance from us, he was instructed to exercise his own discretion in presenting himself to the then existing government, if, in his judgment, sufficiently stable; or, if not, to await further events. Since that period Rome has undergone another revolution, and he abides the establishment of a government sufficiently permanent to justify him in opening diplomatic intercourse with it. With the republic of Mexico it is our true policy to cultivate the most friendly relations. Since the ratification of the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, nothing has occurred of a serious character to disturb them. A faithful observance of the treaty, and a sincere respect for her rights, cannot fail to secure the lasting confidence and friendship of that republic. The message of my predecessor to the House of Representatives, of the 8th of February last, communicating, in compliance with a resolution of that body, a copy of a F. called a Protocol, signed at Queretaro on the 30th of ay, 1848, by the commissioners of the United States and the minister of foreign affairs of the Mexican government, having been a subject of correspondence between the Department of State and the envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of that republic accredited to this government, a transcript of that correspondence is herewith submitted. The commissioner on the part of the United States for marking the boundary between the two republics, though delayed in reaching San Diego by unforeseen obstacles, arrived at that place within a short period after the time required by the treaty, and was there joined by the commissioner on the part of Mexico. They entered upon their duties; and at the date of the latest intelligence from that quarter, some progress had been made in the survey. The expenses incident to the organization of the commission, and to its conveyance to the point where its operations were to begin, have so much reduced the fund appropriated by Congress, that a further sum to cover the charges which must be incurred during the present fiscal year, will be necessary. The great length of frontier along which the boundary extends, the nature of the adjacent territory, and the difficulty of obtaining supplies, except at or near the extremes of the - line, render it also indispensable that a l oral provision should be made to meet the necessary charges during the fiscal year ending on the 30th of June, 1851. I accordingly recommend this subject to your attention. In the adjustment of the claims of American citizens on Mexico, provided for by the late treaty, the employment of counses on the part of the government may become important for the purpose of assisting the commissioners in protecting the interests of the United States. I recommend this subject to the early and favorable consideration of Congress. Complaints have been made in regard to the inefficiency of the means provided by the government of New Grenada for transporting the United States mail across the isthmus of Panama, pursuant to our postal convention with that republic, of the 6th of March, 1844. Our chargé d'affaires at Bogota has been directed to make such representations to the government of New Grenada as will, it is hoped, lead to a prompt removal of this cause of complaint. The sanguinary civil war with which the republic of Venezuela has for some time past been ravaged, has been brought to a close. In its progress, the rights of some of our citizens, resident or trading there, have been violated. The restoration of order will afford the Venezuelan government an opportunity to examine and redress these grievances, and others of longer standing, which our representatives at Caraccas have hitherto ineffectually urged upon the attention of that government. The extension of the coast of the United States on the Pacific, and the unexampled rapidity with which the inhabitants of California especially are increasing in numbers, have imparted new consequence to our relations with the other countries whose territories border upon that ocean. It is probable that the intercourse between those countries and our possessions in that quarter, particularly with the republic of Chili, will become extensive and mutually advantageous in proportion as California and Oregon shall increase ir population and wealth. It is desirable, therefore, that this government should do every thing in its power to foster and strengthen its relations with those states, and that the spirit of amity between us should be mutual and cordial.
I recommend the observance of the same course towards all other American states. The United States stand as the great American power to which, as their natural ally and friend, they will always be disposed first to look for mediation and assistance, in the event of any collision between them and any European nation. As such, we may often kindly mediate in their behalf, without entangling ourselves in foreign wars or unnecessary controversies. Whenever the faith of our treaties with any of them shall require our interference, we must necessarily interpose.
A convention has been negotiated with Brazil, providing for the satisfaction of American claims on that government, and it will be submitted to the Senate. Since the last session of Congress, we have received an envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary from that empire, and our relations with it are founded upon the most amicable understanding.
Your attention is learnestly invited to an amendment of our existing laws relating to the African slave-trade, with a view to the effectual suppression of that barbarous traffic. It is not to be denied that this trade is still, in part, carried on by means of vessels built in the United States, and owned or navigated by some of our citizens. The correspondence between the Department of State and the minister and consul of the United States at Rio de Janeiro, which has from time to time been laid before Congress, represents that it is a customary device to evade the penalties of our laws by means of sea-letters. Vessels sold in Brazil, when provided with such papers by the consul, instead of returning to the United States for a new register, proceed at once to the coast of Africa, for the purpose of obtaining cargoes of slaves. Much additional information, of the same character, has recently been transmitted to the Department of State. It has not been considered the policy of our laws to subject an American citizen, who in a foreign country purchases a vessel built in the United States, to the inconvenience of sending her home for a new register, before permitting her to proceed on a voyage. Any alteration of the laws which might have a tendency to impede the free transfer of property in vessels between our citizens, or the free navigation of those vessels between different parts of the world, when employed in lawful commerce, should be well and cautiously considered ; but I trust that your wisdom will devise a method by which our general policy, in this respect, may be preserved, and at the same time the abuse of our flag, by means of sea-letters, in the manner indicated, may be prevented. Having ascertained that there is no prospect of the reunion of the five states of Central America, which formerly composed the republic of that name, we have separately negotiated with some of them treaties of amity and commerce, which will be laid before the Senate. A contract having been concluded with the State of Nicaragua, by a company composed of American citizens, for the purpose of constructing a ship canal through the territory of that State, to connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, I have directed the negotiation of a treaty with Nicaragua, pledging both governments to protect those who shall engage in and perfect the work. All other nations are invited by the State of Nicaragua to enter into the same treaty stipulations with her; and the benefit to be derived by each from such an arrangement will be the protection of this great inter-oceanic communication against any power which might seek to obstruct it, or to monopolize its advantages. All states entering into such a treaty will enjoy the right of passage through the canal on payment of the same tolls. The work, if constructed under these gaurantees, will become a bond of peace instead of a subject of contention and strife between the nations of the earth. Should the great maritime states of Europe consent to this arrangement—and we have no reason to suppose that a proposition so fair and honorable will be opposed by any—thé’ energies of their people and ours will co-operate in promoting the success of the enterprise. I do not recommend any appropriation from the national treasury for this purpose; nor do I believe that such an appropriation is necessary. Private enterprise, if properly protected, will complete the work should it prove to be feasible. The parties who have procured the charter from Nicaragua for its construction desire no assistance from this government beyond its protection; and they profess that, having examined the proposed line of commu