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upon the shores, has been extended to the conflicts upon the ocean An active warfare has been kept up for years, with alternate success, though generally to the advantage of the American patriots. But their naval forces have not always been under the control of their own govern. ments. 'Blockades, unjustifiable upon any acknowledged principles of international law, have been proclaimed by officers in command ; and though disavowed by the su. preme authorities, the protection of our own commerce against them has been made a cause of complaint and erroneous imputations against some of the most gallant officers of our navy. Complaints equally groundless have been made by the commanders of the Spanish royal forces in those seas; but the most effective protection to our commerce has been the flag and the firmness of our own commanding officers. The cessation of the war, by the complete triumph of the patriot cause, has removed, it is hoped, all cause of dissension with one party, and all vestige of force of the other. But an unsettled coast of many degrees of latitude, forming a part of our own territory, and a flourishing commerce and fishery, extending to the islands of the Pacific and to China, still require that the protecting power of the Union should be displayed under its flag, as well upon the ocean as upon the land.
The objects of the West India squadron have been, to carry into execution the laws for the suppression of the African slave trade ; for the protection of our commerce against vessels of piratical character, though bearing commissions from either of the belligerent parties; for its protection against open and unequivocal pirates. These objects, during the present year, have been accomplished more effectually than at any former period. The African slave trade has long been excluded from the use of our flag; and if some few citizens of cur country have continued to set the laws of the Union, as well ai those of nature and humanity, at defiance, by persevering in that abominable traffic, it has been only by sheltering themselves under the banners of other nations, less ear. nest for the total extinction of the trade than ours. The irregular privateers have, within the last year, been in a great measure banished from those seas; and the pirates for months past, appear to have been almost entirely swept away from the borders and the shores of the two Spanish islands in those regions. The active, persever. ing, and unremitted energy of Captain Warrington, and of the officers and men under his command, on that try: ing and perilous service, have been crowned with signal success, and are entitled to the approbation of their coun. try. But experience has shown that not even a temporary suspension or relaxation from assiduity can be indulged on that station without reproducing piracy and murder in all their horrors ; nor is it probable that, for years to come, our immensely valuable commerce in those seas can navigate in security, without the steady continu. ance of an armed force devoted to its protection.
It were indeed a vain and dangerous illusion to believe that, in the present or probable condition of human society, a commerce so extensive and so rich as ours could exist and be pursued in safety, without the continual support of a military marine--the only arm by which the power of this confederacy can be estimated or felt by foreign nations, and the only standing military force which can never be dangerous to our own liberties at home. A permanent naval
peace establishment, therefore, adapted to our present condition, and adaptable to that gigan tic growth with which the nation is advancing in its ca reer, is among the subjects which have already occupied the foresight of the last Congress, and which will deserve your serious deliberations. Our navy, commenced at an early period of our present political organization, upon a scale commensurate with the incipient energies, the scanty resources, and the comparative indigence of our infancy, was even then found adequate to cope with all the powers of Barbary, save the first, and with one of the principal maritime powers of Europe.
At a period of further advanccment, but with little accession of strength, it not only sustained with honor tne most unequal of conflicts, but covered itself and our coun. try with unfading glory. But it is only since the close of the late war that, by the numbers and force of the ships of which it was composed, it could deserve the name of a navy. Yet it retains nearly the same organı: zation as when i: consisted of only five frigates. The rules and regulations by which it is governed earnestly call for revision; and the want of a naval school of instruct on, corresponding with the Military Academy at West Point, for the formation of scientific and accomplished officers, is felt with daily increasing aggravation.
The act of Congress of 26th of May, 1824, authorizing an examination and survey of the harbor of Charleston, in South Carolina, of St. Mary's, in Georgia, and of the coast of Florida, and for other purposes, has been executed so far as the appropriation would admit. Those of the third of March last, authorizing the establishment of a navy-yard and depot on the coast of Florida, in the Gulf of Mexico, and authorizing the building of ten sloops of war, and for other purposes, are in the course of execution : for the particulars of which and other objects connected with this department, I refer to the report of the Secretary of the Navy herewith communicated.
A report from the Postmaster-General is also submitted, exhibiting the present flourishing condition of that department. For the first time for many years, the receipts for the year ending on the first of July last, exceeded the expenditures during the same period, to the amount of more than forty-five thousand dollars. Other facts, equally creditable to the administration of this department, are, that in two years from the first of July, 1823, an improvement of more than one hundred and eighty-five thousand dollars, in its pecuniary affairs, has been realized ; that, in the same interval, the increase of the transportation of the mail has exceeded one million five hundred thousand miles annually ; and that one thousand and forty new post-offices have been established. It hence appears ihat, under judicious management, the income from this establishment may be relied on as fully adequate to defray its expenses ; and that, by the discontinuance of post roads, altogether unproductive, others of more useful character inay be opened, till the circulation of the mail . shall keep pace with the spread of our population, and the comforts of friendly correspondence, the exchanges of internal traffic, and the lights of the periodical press, shall
be distributed to the remotest corners of the Union, at a charge scarcely perceptible to any individual, and without the cost of a dollar to the public treasury.
Udon this first occasion of addressing the leg slature of the Union, with which I have been honored, in presenting to their view the execution, so far as it has been effected, of the measures sanctioned by them for promoting the internal improvement of our country, I cannot close the communication without recommending to their calm and persevering consideration the general principle in a more enlarged extent. The great object of the institution of civil government is the improvement of the condi. tion of those who are parties to the social compact. And no government, in whatever form constituted, can accomplish the lawful ends of its institution, but in proportion as it improves the condition of those over whom it is established. Roads and canals, by multiplying and facili. tating the communications and intercourse between dis. tant regions and multitudes of men, are among the most important means of improvement. But moral, political and intellectual improvement, are duties assigned by the Author of our existence, to social, no less than to individual man. For the fulfilment of those duties, governments are invested with power; and, to the attainment of the end, the progressive improvement of the condition of the governed, the exercise of delegated powers is a duty as sacred and indispensable, as the usurpation of powers not granted is criminal and odious. Among the first, perhaps the very first instrument for the improvement of the condition of men, is knowledge; and to the acquisition of much of the knowledge adapted to the wants, the comforts, and enjoymen's of human life, public institutions and seminaries of learning are essential. So convinced of this was the first of my predecessors in this office, now first in the memory, as, living, he was the first in the hearts of our country, that once and again, in nis addresses to the Congresses with whom he co-operated in the public service, he earnestly recommended the establishment of seminaries of learning, to prepare for all the emergencies of peace and war-a national univer sity, and a military academy. With respect to the latter, had he lived to the present day, in turning his eyes to the institution at West Point, he would have enjoyed the gratification of his most earnest wishes. But, in surveying the city which has been honored with his name, he would have seen the spot of earth which he had destined and bequeathed to the use and benefit of his country as the site for a university, still bare and barren.
In assuming her station among the civilized nations of the earth, it would seem that our country had contracted the engagement to contribute her share of mind, of labor, and of expense, to the improvement of those parts of knowledge which lie beyond the reach of individual acquisition; and particularly to geographical'and astronomical science. Looking back to the history only of half the century since the declaration of our independence, and observing the generous emulation with which the governmepts of France, Great Britain, and Russia, have devoted the genius, the intelligence, the treasures of their respective nations, to the common improvement of the species in these branches of science, is it not incum bent upon us to inquire whether we are not bound by obligations of a high and honorable character to contribute our portion of energy and exertion to the common stock ? The voyages of discovery prosecuted in the course of that time, at the expense of those nations, have not only redounded to their glory, but to the improvement of human knowledge. We have been partakers of that im. provement, and owe for it a sacred debt, not only of gratitude, but of equal or proportional exertion in the same common cause. of the cost of these undert:kings, it the mere expenditures of outfit, equipment, anil completion of the expeditions, were to be considered the only charges, it would be unworthy of a great and generous nation to take a second thought. One hundred expeditions of circumnavigation, like those of Cook and La Perouse, would not burden the excheqner of the nation fitting them out, so much as the ways and means of defraying a single campaign in war. But if we take into the account the lives of those benefactors of mankind, of which their services in the cause of their species were the purchase, how shall the cost of those heroic enter.