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Harrison, Benjamin / A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents Volume 9, part 1: Benjamin Harrison
Produced by Juliet Sutherland, David Garcia and The PG Online
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Prefatory Note

This volume comprises the papers of Benjamin Harrison and of Grover
Cleveland (second term). The events of these two Administrations of
eight years, though highly interesting, coming as they do down to March
4, 1897, are so recent and fresh in the public mind that I need not
comment on them.

This volume is the last of the series, except the Appendix and Index
volume. The work of compiling was begun by me in April, 1895, just after
the expiration of the Fifty-third Congress. I then anticipated that
I could complete the work easily within a year. Though I have given my
entire time to the undertaking when not engaged in my official duties as
a Representative, instead of completing it within the time mentioned it
has occupied me for nearly four years. The labor has been far greater
than the Joint Committee on Printing or I supposed it would be. I had
no idea of the difficulties to overcome in obtaining the Presidential
papers, especially the proclamations and Executive orders. In the
Prefatory Note to Volume I, I said: "I have sought to bring together
in the several volumes of the series all Presidential proclamations,
addresses, messages, and communications to Congress excepting those
nominating persons to office and those which simply transmit treaties,
and reports of heads of Departments which contain no recommendation
from the Executive." But after the appearance of Volume I, and while
preparing the contents of Volume II, I became convinced that I had made
a mistake and that the work to be exhaustive should comprise every
message of the Presidents transmitting reports of heads of Departments
and other communications, no matter how brief or unintelligible the
papers were in themselves, and that to make them intelligible I should
insert editorial footnotes explaining them. Having acted upon the other
idea in making up Volume I and a portion of Volume II, quite a number of
such brief papers were intentionally omitted. Being convinced that all
the papers of the Executives should be inserted, the plan was modified
accordingly, and the endeavor was thereafter made to publish all of

In order, however, that the compilation may be "accurate and
exhaustive," I have gone back and collected all the papers--those which
should have appeared in Volumes I and II, as well as such as were
unintentionally omitted from the succeeding volumes--excepting those
simply making nominations, and shall publish them in an appendix in the
last volume. While this may occasion some little annoyance to the reader
who seeks such papers in chronological order, yet, inasmuch as they all
appear at their proper places in the alphabetical Index, it is not
believed that any serious inconvenience will result.

The editor and compiler has resorted to every possible avenue and has
spared no effort to procure all public Presidential papers from the
beginning of the Government to March 4, 1897. He has looked out for
every reference to the work in the public prints, has endeavored to read
all the criticisms made because of omissions, and has availed himself of
all the papers to which his attention has been called by anyone; has
diligently and earnestly sought for same himself, and has, as stated
above, inserted all omitted papers in the Appendix, so that he feels
warranted in saying that if he has given to the country all he could
find and all any critic or reviewer has been able to find he has done
his whole duty and reasonable complaint can not be made if any paper is
still omitted. In view of the inaccessibility of many of the messages by
reason of their not having been entered on the journals of either House
of Congress, and of the fact that the Government itself does not possess
many of the proclamations and Executive orders, it may be that there
yet can be found a few papers omitted from this work; but with much
confidence, amounting to a positive conviction, I feel that assurance
may be safely given that only a few, if any at all, have been

Congress in June, 1897, by law requested me to prepare an index to the
entire compilation. I am now and have been for over two years engaged in
this work. I hope to be able to give the last volume, which will include
the Appendix and Index, as above stated, to Congress and the public in
about two months. It would have been completed at this time but for the
fact that in addition to making the Index simply an index to the various
messages and other papers I have added to it the encyclopedic feature.
There will therefore be found in the Index, in alphabetical order, a
large number of encyclopedic definitions of words and phrases used by
the Chief Executives, and of other politico-historical subjects. It
is believed that this feature will not detract in any manner from the
Index, but, on the other hand, will add largely to its value and to
the value of the entire compilation.


NOVEMBER 24, 1898.

Benjamin Harrison

March 4, 1889, to March 4, 1893

Benjamin Harrison

Benjamin Harrison, twenty-third President of the United States, was born
at North Bend, Ohio, August 20, 1833. His father, John Scott Harrison,
was the third son of General William Henry Harrison, ninth President
of the United States, who was the third and youngest son of Benjamin
Harrison, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. John
Scott Harrison was twice married, his second wife being Elizabeth,
daughter of Archibald Irwin, of Mercersburg, Pa. Benjamin was the second
son of this marriage. His parents were resolutely determined upon the
education of their children, and early in childhood Benjamin was placed
under private instruction at home. In 1847 he and his elder brother were
sent to a school on what was known as College Hill, a few miles from
Cincinnati. After remaining there two years entered the junior class at
Miami University, at Oxford, Ohio, where he was graduated in 1852. Was
married October 20, 1853, to Caroline Scott, daughter of Dr. John W.
Scott, who was then president of Oxford Female Seminary, from which Mrs.
Harrison was graduated in 1852. After studying law under Storer & Gwynne
in Cincinnati, Mr. Harrison was admitted to the bar in 1854, and began
the practice of his profession at Indianapolis, Ind., which has since
been his home. Was appointed crier of the Federal court, at a salary of
$2.50 per day. This was the first money he had ever earned. Jonathan
W. Gordon, one of the leaders of the Indianapolis bar, called young
Harrison to his assistance in the prosecution of a criminal tried for
burglary, and intrusted to him the plea for the State. He had taken
ample notes of the evidence, but the case was closed at night, and the
court-house being dimly lighted by tallow candles, he was unable to read
them when he arose to address the court and jury, paying them aside,
he depended entirely upon his memory and found it perfect. He made an
eloquent plea, produced a marked impression, and won the case. Since
then he has always been an impromptu speaker. Formed a partnership later
with William Wallace, but in 1860 the latter became clerk of Marion
County, and the firm was changed to Harrison & Fishback, which was
terminated by the entry of the senior partner into the Army in 1862.
Was chosen reporter of the supreme court of Indiana in 1860 on the
Republican ticket. This was his first active appearance in the political
field. When the Civil War began assisted in raising the Seventieth
Indiana Regiment of Volunteers, taking a second lieutenant's commission
and raising Company A of that regiment. Governor Morton tendered him
the command of the regiment and he was commissioned its colonel. Mr.
Harrison appointed a deputy reporter for the supreme court. In the
ensuing autumn the Democratic State committee, considering his position
as a civil officer vacated by this military appointment, nominated and
elected a successor, although his term of office had not expired. Their
view was sustained by the State supreme court; but in 1864, while
Colonel Harrison was in the Army, the people of Indiana gave their
judgment by reelecting him to the position of supreme-court reporter
by an overwhelming majority. In 1862 the Seventieth Indiana went into
the field with Harrison as its colonel, their objective point being
Bowling Green, Ky. It was brigaded with the Seventy-ninth Ohio and the
One hundred and second, One hundred and fifth, and One hundred and
twenty-ninth Illinois regiments, under Brigadier-General Ward, of
Kentucky, and this organization was kept unchanged until the close of
the war. Colonel Harrison had the right of the brigade, and his command
was occupied at first in guarding railroads and hunting guerrillas, his
energies being largely spent in drilling his men. When General Rosecrans
set out for Chattanooga General Ward was sent on duty to Nashville, and
on January 2, 1864, his command was called to the front. Later this
brigade became the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Twentieth
Army Corps, under General Hooker, General Ward resuming its command.
The campaign under General Sherman, upon which his regiment with its
associate forces entered, was directed, as is now known, against the
Confederate army of General Joseph E. Johnston, and not against any
particular place. In the Federal advance one of the severest actions was
fought at Resaca, Ga., May 14 and 15, 1864, and the Seventieth Indiana
led the assault. His regiment participated in the fights at New Hope
Church and at Golgotha Church, Kenesaw Mountain, and Peach Tree Creek.
When Atlanta was taken by Sherman, September 2, 1864, Colonel Harrison
received his first furlough to visit home, being assigned to special
duty in a canvass of the State to recruit for the forces in the field.
Returning to Chattanooga and then to Nashville, he was placed in command
of a provisional brigade held in reserve at the battle at the latter
place (December 15 and 16, 1864), and was but little engaged. When the
fight was over he was sent in pursuit of the Confederate general Hood.
Recalled from that pursuit, was next ordered to report to General
Sherman at Savannah. While passing through New York he succumbed to an
attack of scarlet fever, but in a few weeks was able to proceed on his
way. Joining Sherman at Goldsboro, N.C., resumed command of his old
brigade, and at the close of the war went with it to Washington to take
part in the grand review of the armies. Was duly mustered out of the
service June 8, 1865, not, however, until he had received a commission
as brevet brigadier-general, dated January 23, 1865. Returning to
Indianapolis after the war, resumed his office of reporter of the
supreme court, but in 1867 declined a renomination, preferring to devote
himself exclusively to the practice of law. Became a member of the
firm of Porter, Harrison & Fishback, and, after subsequent changes,
of that of Harrison, Miller & Elam. Took part in 1868 and 1872 in the
Presidential campaigns in support of General Grant, traveling over
Indiana and speaking to large audiences. In 1876 at first declined a
nomination for governor on the Republican ticket, consenting to run only
after the regular nominee had withdrawn. In this contest he received
almost 2,000 more votes than his associates, but was defeated. Was a
member of the Mississippi River Commission in 1879. In 1880, as chairman
of the Indiana delegation in the Republican national convention, he cast
nearly the entire vote of the State for James A. Garfield for President.
President Garfield offered him a place in his Cabinet, but he declined
it, preferring the United States Senatorship from Indiana, to which
he had just been chosen, and which he held from 1881 to 1887. In the
Senate he advocated the tariff views of his party, opposed President
Cleveland's vetoes of pension bills, urged the reconstruction and
upbuilding of the Navy, and labored and voted for civil-service reform.
Was a delegate at large to the Republican national convention in 1884,
and in 1888 at Chicago was nominated for the Presidency on the eighth
ballot. The nomination was made unanimous, and in November he was
elected, receiving 233 electoral votes to 168 for Grover Cleveland.
Was inaugurated March 4, 1889. Was again nominated for the Presidency
at the national Republican convention which met at Minneapolis in 1892,
but was defeated at the November election, receiving 145 electoral
votes, against 276 votes for Grover Cleveland. Upon his retiring from
office located at Indianapolis, Ind., where he now resides.

* * * * *


FELLOW CITIZENS: There is no constitutional or legal requirement that
the President shall take the oath of office in the presence of the
people, but there is so manifest an appropriateness in the public
induction to office of the chief executive officer of the nation that
from the beginning of the Government the people, to whose service the
official oath consecrates the officer, have been called to witness the
solemn ceremonial. The oath taken in the presence of the people becomes
a mutual covenant. The officer covenants to serve the whole body of the
people by a faithful execution of the laws, so that they may be the
unfailing defense and security of those who respect and observe them,
and that neither wealth, station, nor the power of combinations shall be
able to evade their just penalties or to wrest them from a beneficent
public purpose to serve the ends of cruelty or selfishness.

My promise is spoken; yours unspoken, but not the less real and solemn.
The people of every State have here their representatives. Surely I do
not misinterpret the spirit of the occasion when I assume that the
whole body of the people covenant with me and with each other to-day
to support and defend the Constitution and the Union of the States, to
yield willing obedience to all the laws and each to every other citizen
his equal civil and political rights. Entering thus solemnly into
covenant with each other, we may reverently invoke and confidently
expect the favor and help of Almighty God--that He will give to me
wisdom, strength, and fidelity, and to our people a spirit of fraternity
and a love of righteousness and peace.

This occasion derives peculiar interest from the fact that the
Presidential term which begins this day is the twenty-sixth under our
Constitution. The first inauguration of President Washington took place
in New York, where Congress was then sitting, on the 30th day of
April, 1789, having been deferred by reason of delays attending the
organization of the Congress and the canvass of the electoral vote. Our
people have already worthily observed the centennials of the Declaration
of Independence, of the battle of Yorktown, and of the adoption of the
Constitution, and will shortly celebrate in New York the institution of
the second great department of our constitutional scheme of government.
When the centennial of the institution of the judicial department,
by the organization of the Supreme Court, shall have been suitably
observed, as I trust it will be, our nation will have fully entered
its second century.

I will not attempt to note the marvelous and in great part happy
contrasts between our country as it steps over the threshold into its
second century of organized existence under the Constitution and that
weak but wisely ordered young nation that looked undauntedly down the
first century, when all its years stretched out before it.

Our people will not fail at this time to recall the incidents which
accompanied the institution of government under the Constitution, or to
find inspiration and guidance in the teachings and example of Washington
and his great associates, and hope and courage in the contrast which
thirty-eight populous and prosperous States offer to the thirteen
States, weak in everything except courage and the love of liberty, that
then fringed our Atlantic seaboard.

The Territory of Dakota has now a population greater than any of the
original States (except Virginia) and greater than the aggregate of
five of the smaller States in 1790. The center of population when our
national capital was located was east of Baltimore, and it was argued
by many well-informed persons that it would move eastward rather than
westward; yet in 1880 it was found to be near Cincinnati, and the new
census about to be taken will show another stride to the westward. That
which was the body has come to be only the rich fringe of the nation's
robe. But our growth has not been limited to territory, population, and
aggregate wealth, marvelous as it has been in each of those directions.
The masses of our people are better fed, clothed, and housed than their
fathers were. The facilities for popular education have been vastly
enlarged and more generally diffused.

The virtues of courage and patriotism have given recent proof of their
continued presence and increasing power in the hearts and over the
lives of our people. The influences of religion have been multiplied
and strengthened. The sweet offices of charity have greatly increased.
The virtue of temperance is held in higher estimation. We have not
attained an ideal condition. Not all of our people are happy and
prosperous; not all of them are virtuous and law-abiding. But on the
whole the opportunities offered to the individual to secure the comforts
of life are better than are found elsewhere and largely better than they
were here one hundred years ago.

The surrender of a large measure of sovereignty to the General
Government, effected by the adoption of the Constitution, was not
accomplished until the suggestions of reason were strongly reenforced
by the more imperative voice of experience. The divergent interests
of peace speedily demanded a "more perfect union," The merchant,
the shipmaster, and the manufacturer discovered and disclosed to our
statesmen and to the people that commercial emancipation must be added
to the political freedom which had been so bravely won. The commercial
policy of the mother country had not relaxed any of its hard and
oppressive features. To hold in check the development of our commercial
marine, to prevent or retard the establishment and growth of
manufactures in the States, and so to secure the American market for
their shops and the carrying trade for their ships, was the policy of
European statesmen, and was pursued with the most selfish vigor.

Petitions poured in upon Congress urging the imposition of
discriminating duties that should encourage the production of needed
things at home. The patriotism of the people, which no longer found a
field of exercise in war, was energetically directed to the duty of
equipping the young Republic for the defense of its independence by
making its people self-dependent. Societies for the promotion of home
manufactures and for encouraging the use of domestics in the dress of
the people were organized in many of the States. The revival at the end
of the century of the same patriotic interest in the preservation and
development of domestic industries and the defense of our working
people against injurious foreign competition is an incident worthy of
attention. It is not a departure but a return that we have witnessed.
The protective policy had then its opponents. The argument was made,
as now, that its benefits inured to particular classes or sections.

If the question became in any sense or at any time sectional, it was
only because slavery existed in some of the States. But for this there
was no reason why the cotton-producing States should not have led or
walked abreast with the New England States in the production of cotton
fabrics. There was this reason only why the States that divide with
Pennsylvania the mineral treasures of the great southeastern and
central mountain ranges should have been so tardy in bringing to the
smelting furnace and to the mill the coal and iron from their near
opposing hillsides. Mill fires were lighted at the funeral pile of
slavery. The emancipation proclamation was heard in the depths of the
earth as well as in the sky; men were made free, and material things
became our better servants.

The sectional element has happily been eliminated from the tariff
discussion. We have no longer States that are necessarily only planting
States. None are excluded from achieving that diversification of
pursuits among the people which brings wealth and contentment. The
cotton plantation will not be less valuable when the product is spun in
the country town by operatives whose necessities call for diversified
crops and create a home demand for garden and agricultural products.
Every new mine, furnace, and factory is an extension of the productive
capacity of the State more real and valuable than added territory.

Shall the prejudices and paralysis of slavery continue to hang upon the
skirts of progress? How long will those who rejoice that slavery no
longer exists cherish or tolerate the incapacities it put upon their
communities? I look hopefully to the continuance of our protective
system and to the consequent development of manufacturing and mining
enterprises in the States hitherto wholly given to agriculture as a
potent influence in the perfect unification of our people. The men who
have invested their capital in these enterprises, the farmers who have
felt the benefit of their neighborhood, and the men who work in shop or
field will not fail to find and to defend a community of interest.

Is it not quite possible that the farmers and the promoters of the
great mining and manufacturing enterprises which have recently been
established in the South may yet find that the free ballot of the
workingman, without distinction of race, is needed for their defense as
well as for his own? I do not doubt that if those men in the South who
now accept the tariff views of Clay and the constitutional expositions
of Webster would courageously avow and defend their real convictions
they would not find it difficult, by friendly instruction and
cooperation, to make the black man their efficient and safe ally, not
only in establishing correct principles in our national administration,
but in preserving for their local communities the benefits of social
order and economical and honest government. At least until the good
offices of kindness and education have been fairly tried the contrary
conclusion can not be plausibly urged.

I have altogether rejected the suggestion of a special Executive policy
for any section of our country. It is the duty of the Executive to
administer and enforce in the methods and by the instrumentalities
pointed out and provided by the Constitution all the laws enacted by
Congress. These laws are general and their administration should be
uniform and equal. As a citizen may not elect what laws he will obey,
neither may the Executive elect which he will enforce. The duty to
obey and to execute embraces the Constitution in its entirety and the
whole code of laws enacted under it. The evil example of permitting
individuals, corporations, or communities to nullify the laws because
they cross some selfish or local interest or prejudices is full of
danger, not only to the nation at large, but much more to those who use
this pernicious expedient to escape their just obligations or to obtain
an unjust advantage over others. They will presently themselves be
compelled to appeal to the law for protection, and those who would use
the law as a defense must not deny that use of it to others.

If our great corporations would more scrupulously observe their legal
limitations and duties, they would have less cause to complain of the
unlawful limitations of their rights or of violent interference with
their operations. The community that by concert, open or secret, among
its citizens denies to a portion of its members their plain rights
under the law has severed the only safe bond of social order and
prosperity. The evil works from a bad center both ways. It demoralizes
those who practice it and destroys the faith of those who suffer by
it in the efficiency of the law as a safe protector. The man in whose
breast that faith has been darkened is naturally the subject of
dangerous and uncanny suggestions. Those who use unlawful methods, if
moved by no higher motive than the selfishness that prompted them, may
well stop and inquire what is to be the end of this.

An unlawful expedient can not become a permanent condition of
government. If the educated and influential classes in a community
either practice or connive at the systematic violation of laws that
seem to them to cross their convenience, what can they expect when the
lesson that convenience or a supposed class interest is a sufficient
cause for lawlessness has been well learned by the ignorant classes?
A community where law is the rule of conduct and where courts, not
mobs, execute its penalties is the only attractive field for business
investments and honest labor.

Our naturalization laws should be so amended as to make the inquiry
into the character and good disposition of persons applying for
citizenship more careful and searching. Our existing laws have been in
their administration an unimpressive and often an unintelligible form.
We accept the man as a citizen without any knowledge of his fitness,
and he assumes the duties of citizenship without any knowledge as to
what they are. The privileges of American citizenship are so great and
its duties so grave that we may well insist upon a good knowledge of
every person applying for citizenship and a good knowledge by him of
our institutions. We should not cease to be hospitable to immigration,
but we should cease to be careless as to the character of it. There are
men of all races, even the best, whose coming is necessarily a burden
upon our public revenues or a threat to social order. These should be
identified and excluded.

We have happily maintained a policy of avoiding all interference with
European affairs. We have been only interested spectators of their
contentions in diplomacy and in war, ready to use our friendly offices
to promote peace, but never obtruding our advice and never attempting
unfairly to coin the distresses of other powers into commercial
advantage to ourselves. We have a just right to expect that our
European policy will be the American policy of European courts.

It is so manifestly incompatible with those precautions for our peace
and safety which all the great powers habitually observe and enforce in
matters affecting them that a shorter waterway between our eastern and
western seaboards should be dominated by any European Government that
we may confidently expect that such a purpose will not be entertained
by any friendly power.

We shall in the future, as in the past, use every endeavor to maintain
and enlarge our friendly relations with all the great powers, but they
will not expect us to look kindly upon any project that would leave
us subject to the dangers of a hostile observation or environment. We
have not sought to dominate or to absorb any of our weaker neighbors,
but rather to aid and encourage them to establish free and stable
governments resting upon the consent of their own people. We have a
clear right to expect, therefore, that no European Government will
seek to establish colonial dependencies upon the territory of these
independent American States. That which a sense of justice restrains
us from seeking they may be reasonably expected willingly to forego.

It must not be assumed, however, that our interests are so exclusively
American that our entire inattention to any events that may transpire
elsewhere can be taken for granted. Our citizens domiciled for purposes
of trade in all countries and in many of the islands of the sea demand
and will have our adequate care in their personal and commercial
rights. The necessities of our Navy require convenient coaling stations
and dock and harbor privileges. These and other trading privileges
we will feel free to obtain only by means that do not in any degree
partake of coercion, however feeble the government from which we ask
such concessions. But having fairly obtained them by methods and for
purposes entirely consistent with the most friendly disposition toward
all other powers, our consent will be necessary to any modification or
impairment of the concession.

We shall neither fail to respect the flag of any friendly nation or the
just rights of its citizens, nor to exact the like treatment for our
own. Calmness, justice, and consideration should characterize our
diplomacy. The offices of an intelligent diplomacy or of friendly
arbitration in proper cases should be adequate to the peaceful
adjustment of all international difficulties. By such methods we will
make our contribution to the world's peace, which no nation values more
highly, and avoid the opprobrium which must fall upon the nation that
ruthlessly breaks it.

The duty devolved by law upon the President to nominate and, by and
with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint all public
officers whose appointment is not otherwise provided for in the
Constitution or by act of Congress has become very burdensome and its
wise and efficient discharge full of difficulty. The civil list is so
large that a personal knowledge of any large number of the applicants
is impossible. The President must rely upon the representations of
others, and these are often made inconsiderately and without any just
sense of responsibility. I have a right, I think, to insist that those
who volunteer or are invited to give advice as to appointments shall
exercise consideration and fidelity. A high sense of duty and an
ambition to improve the service should characterize all public

There are many ways in which the convenience and comfort of those who
have business with our public offices may be promoted by a thoughtful
and obliging officer, and I shall expect those whom I may appoint to
justify their selection by a conspicuous efficiency in the discharge of
their duties. Honorable party service will certainly not be esteemed
by me a disqualification for public office, but it will in no case be
allowed to serve as a shield of official negligence, incompetency, or
delinquency. It is entirely creditable to seek public office by proper
methods and with proper motives, and all applicants will be treated
with consideration; but I shall need, and the heads of Departments will
need, time for inquiry and deliberation. Persistent importunity will
not, therefore, be the best support of an application for office. Heads
of Departments, bureaus, and all other public officers having any duty
connected therewith will be expected to enforce the civil-service
law fully and without evasion. Beyond this obvious duty I hope to do
something more to advance the reform of the civil service. The ideal,
or even my own ideal, I shall probably not attain. Retrospect will be
a safer basis of judgment than promises. We shall not, however, I am
sure, be able to put our civil service upon a nonpartisan basis until
we have secured an incumbency that fair-minded men of the opposition
will approve for impartiality and integrity. As the number of such in
the civil list is increased removals from office will diminish.

While a Treasury surplus is not the greatest evil, it is a serious
evil. Our revenue should be ample to meet the ordinary annual demands
upon our Treasury, with a sufficient margin for those extraordinary but
scarcely less imperative demands which arise now and then. Expenditure
should always be made with economy and only upon public necessity.
Wastefulness, profligacy, or favoritism in public expenditures is
criminal. But there is nothing in the condition of our country or of
our people to suggest that anything presently necessary to the public
prosperity, security, or honor should be unduly postponed.

It will be the duty of Congress wisely to forecast and estimate
these extraordinary demands, and, having added them to our ordinary
expenditures, to so adjust our revenue laws that no considerable annual
surplus will remain. We will fortunately be able to apply to the
redemption of the public debt any small and unforeseen excess of
revenue. This is better than to reduce our income below our necessary
expenditures, with the resulting choice between another change of our
revenue laws and an increase of the public debt. It is quite possible,
I am sure, to effect the necessary reduction in our revenues without
breaking down our protective tariff or seriously injuring any domestic

The construction of a sufficient number of modern war ships and of
their necessary armament should progress as rapidly as is consistent
with care and perfection in plans and workmanship. The spirit, courage,
and skill of our naval officers and seamen have many times in our
history given to weak ships and inefficient guns a rating greatly
beyond that of the naval list. That they will again do so upon occasion
I do not doubt; but they ought not, by premeditation or neglect, to
be left to the risks and exigencies of an unequal combat. We should
encourage the establishment of American steamship lines. The exchanges
of commerce demand stated, reliable, and rapid means of communication,
and until these are provided the development of our trade with the
States lying south of us is impossible.

Our pension laws should give more adequate and discriminating relief to
the Union soldiers and sailors and to their widows and orphans. Such
occasions as this should remind us that we owe everything to their
valor and sacrifice.

It is a subject of congratulation that there is a near prospect of the
admission into the Union of the Dakotas and Montana and Washington
Territories. This act of justice has been unreasonably delayed in the
case of some of them. The people who have settled these Territories are
intelligent, enterprising, and patriotic, and the accession of these
new States will add strength to the nation. It is due to the settlers
in the Territories who have availed themselves of the invitations of
our land laws to make homes upon the public domain that their titles
should be speedily adjusted and their honest entries confirmed by

It is very gratifying to observe the general interest now being
manifested in the reform of our election laws. Those who have been for
years calling attention to the pressing necessity of throwing about the
ballot box and about the elector further safeguards, in order that our
elections might not only be free and pure, but might clearly appear to
be so, will welcome the accession of any who did not so soon discover
the need of reform. The National Congress has not as yet taken control
of elections in that case over which the Constitution gives it
jurisdiction, but has accepted and adopted the election laws of the
several States, provided penalties for their violation and a method
of supervision. Only the inefficiency of the State laws or an unfair
partisan administration of them could suggest a departure from this

It was clearly, however, in the contemplation of the framers of the
Constitution that such an exigency might arise, and provision was
wisely made for it. The freedom of the ballot is a condition of our
national life, and no power vested in Congress or in the Executive to
secure or perpetuate it should remain unused upon occasion. The people
of all the Congressional districts have an equal interest that the
election in each shall truly express the views and wishes of a majority
of the qualified electors residing within it. The results of such
elections are not local, and the insistence of electors residing in
other districts that they shall be pure and free does not savor at all
of impertinence.

If in any of the States the public security is thought to be threatened
by ignorance among the electors, the obvious remedy is education. The
sympathy and help of our people will not be withheld from any community
struggling with special embarrassments or difficulties connected with
the suffrage if the remedies proposed proceed upon lawful lines and are
promoted by just and honorable methods. How shall those who practice
election frauds recover that respect for the sanctity of the ballot
which is the first condition and obligation of good citizenship? The
man who has come to regard the ballot box as a juggler's hat has
renounced his allegiance.

Let us exalt patriotism and moderate our party contentions. Let those
who would die for the flag on the field of battle give a better proof
of their patriotism and a higher glory to their country by promoting
fraternity and justice. A party success that is achieved by unfair
methods or by practices that partake of revolution is hurtful and
evanescent even from a party standpoint. We should hold our differing
opinions in mutual respect, and, having submitted them to the
arbitrament of the ballot, should accept an adverse judgment with the
same respect that we would have demanded of our opponents if the
decision had been in our favor.

No other people have a government more worthy of their respect and love
or a land so magnificent in extent, so pleasant to look upon, and so
full of generous suggestion to enterprise and labor. God has placed
upon our head a diadem and has laid at our feet power and wealth beyond
definition or calculation. But we must not forget that we take these
gifts upon the condition that justice and mercy shall hold the reins
of power and that the upward avenues of hope shall be free to all the

I do not mistrust the future. Dangers have been in frequent
ambush along our path, but we have uncovered and vanquished them all.
Passion has swept some of our communities, but only to give us a new
demonstration that the great body of our people are stable, patriotic,
and law-abiding. No political party can long pursue advantage at the
expense of public honor or by rude and indecent methods without protest
and fatal disaffection in its own body. The peaceful agencies of
commerce are more fully revealing the necessary unity of all our
communities, and the increasing intercourse of our people is promoting
mutual respect. We shall find unalloyed pleasure in the revelation
which our next census will make of the swift development of the great
resources of some of the States. Each State will bring its generous
contribution to the great aggregate of the nation's increase. And when
the harvests from the fields, the cattle from the hills, and the ores
of the earth shall have been weighed, counted, and valued, we will turn
from them all to crown with the highest honor the State that has most
promoted education, virtue, justice, and patriotism among its people.

MARCH 4, 1889.


EXECUTIVE MANSION, _March 17, 1889_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit herewith, in answer to the Senate resolution of the 11th
ultimo, a report of the Secretary of State, with accompanying papers,
in regard to the case of Louis Riel, otherwise known as Louis David


[Footnote 1: Tried and executed by the authorities of British North
America for complicity in the rebellion in the Northwest Territory.]




The following provisions of the laws of the United States are hereby
published for the information of all concerned:

Section 1956, Revised Statutes, chapter 3, Title XXIII, enacts that--

No person shall kill any otter, mink, marten, sable, or fur seal, or
other fur-bearing animal within the limits of Alaska Territory or in
the waters thereof; and every person guilty thereof shall for each
offense be fined not less than $200 nor more than $1,000, or imprisoned
not more than six months, or both; and all vessels, their tackle,
apparel, furniture, and cargo, found engaged in violation of this
section shall be forfeited; but the Secretary of the Treasury shall
have power to authorize the killing of any such mink, marten, sable, or
other fur-bearing animal, except fur seals, under such regulations as
he may prescribe; and it shall be the duty of the Secretary to prevent
the killing of any fur seal and to provide for the execution of the
provisions of this section until it is otherwise provided by law, nor
shall he grant any special privileges under this section.

* * * * *

Section 3 of the act entitled "An act to provide for the protection
of the salmon fisheries of Alaska," approved March 2, 1889, provides


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Main -> Harrison, Benjamin -> A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents Volume 9, part 1: Benjamin Harrison