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to conflagration or pillage. Economy in all iranches of the public service, is due from all the public agents to the people-bui parsimony alone would suggest the withholding of the necessary means for the protection of our domestic firesides from invasion, and our national honor from disgrace. I would most earnestly recommend to Congress to abstain from all appropriations for objects not absolutely necessary ; but I take upon myself, without a moment of hesitancy, all the responsibility of recommending the increase and prompt equipment of that gallant navy which has lighted up every sea with its victories, and spread an imperishable glory over the country.
The report of the Postmaster General will claim your particular attention, not only because of the valuable suggestions which it contains, but because of the great importance which, at all times, attaches to that interesting branch of the public service. The increased expense of transporting the mail along the principal routes, necessarily claims the public attention, and has awakened a corresponding solicitude on the part of the government. The transmission of the mail must keep pace with those facilities of intercommunication which are every day be. coming greater through the building of railroads and the application of steam power ; but it cannot be disguised that, in order to do so, the post office department is subjected to heavy exactions. The lines of communication between distant parts of the Union, are, to a great extent, occupied by railroads, which in the nature of things, possess a complete monopoly, and the department is there. fore liable to heavy and unreasonable charges. This evil is destined to greatly increase in future, and some timely measure may become necessary to guard against it.
I feel it my duty to bring under your consideration a practice which has grown up in the administration of the government, and which, I am deeply convinced, ought to be corrected. I allude to the exercise of the power, which usage, rather than reason, has vested in the president, of removing incumbents from office, in order to substitute others more in favor with the dominant party. My own conduct in this respect, has been governed by a conscientious purpose to exercise the ren oving power, only in cases of unfaithfulness or inability, or in inose in which the exercise appeared necessary, in order to dis. countenance and suppress that spirit of active partisanship on the part o. the holders of office, which not only withdraws them from the steady and impartial discharge of their official duties, but exerts an undue and injurious influence over elections, and degrades the character of the government itself, inasmuch as it exhibits the chief magistrate as being a party, through his agents, in the secret plots or open workings of political parties.
In respect to the exercise of this power, nothing should be left to discretion which may safely be regulated by law; and it is of high importance to restrain, as far as possible, the stimulus of personal interests in public elections. Considering the great increase which has been made in public offices in the last quarter of a century, and the probability of farther increase, we incur the hazard of witnessing violent political contests, directed too often to the single object of retaining office by those who are in, or obtaining it by those who are out. Under the inAuence of these convictions, I shall cordially concur in any constitutional measure for regulating, and by regulating, restraining the power of removal.
I suggest for your consideration, the propriety of mak. ing, without further delay, some specific application of the funds derived under the will of Mr. Smithson, of England, for the diffusion of knowledge; and which have, heretofore, been vested in public stocks, until such time as Congress should think proper to give them a specific direction. Nor will you, I feel confident, permit any abatement of the principal of the legacy to be made, should it turn out that the stocks, in which the investments have been made, have undergone a depreciation.
In conclusion, I commend to your care the interests of this District, for which you are the exclu sive legislators. Considering that this city is the residence of the government, and for a large part of the year, of Congress, and considering, also, the great cost of the public buildings, and the propriety of affording them at all times careful protection, it seems not unreasonable that Congress should con. tribute toward the expense of an efficient police.
POLK'S INAUGURAL ADDRESS.
MARCH 4, 1845.
Without solicitation on my part, I have been chosen by the free and voluntary suffrages of my countrymen to the most honorable and most responsible office on earth. I am deeply impressed with gratitude for the confidence reposed in me. Honored with this distinguished consideration at an earlier period of life than any of my predecessors, I cannot disguise the diffidence with which I anı about to enter on the discharge of my official duties.
If the more aged and experienced men who have filled the office of President of the United States, even in the infancy of the republic, distrusted their ability to discharge the duties of that exalted station, what ought not to be the apprehensions of one so much younger and less endowed, now that our domain extends from ocean to ocean, that our people have so greatly increased in numbers, and at a time when so great diversity of opinion prevails in regard to the principles and policy which should characterize the administration of our government ? Well may the boldest fear, and the wisest tremble, when incurring responsibilities on which may depend our country's peace and prosperity, and, in some degree, the hopes and happiness of the whole human family.
In assuming responsibilities so vast, I fervently invoke the aid of that Almighty Ruler of the Universe, in whose hands are the destinies of nations and of men, to guard this heavenfavored land against the mischiefs which, without his guidance, might arise from an unwise public policy. With a firm reliance upon the wisdom of Omnipotence to sustain and direct me in the path of duty which I am appointed to pursue, I stand in the presence of this assembled multitude of my countrymen, to take upon myself the solemn obligation, “ to the best of my ability, to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States." A concise enumeration of the principles which will guida me in the administrative policy of the government, is not only in accordance with the examples set me by all my predecessors, but is eminently befitting the occasion.
The constitution itself, plainly written as it is, the safeguard of our federative compact, the offspring of concession and compromise, binding together in the bonds of peace and union this great and increasing family of free and independent States, will be the chart by which I shall be directed.
It will be my first care to administer the government in the true spirit of that instrument, and to assume no powers not expressly granted, or clearly implied in its terms. The government of the United States is one of delegated and limited powers; and it is by a strict adherence to the clearly granted powers, and by abstaining from the exercise of doubtful or unauthorized implied powers, that we have the only sure guaranty against the recurrence of those unfortunate collisions between the Federal and State authorities, which have occasionally so much disturbed the harmony of our system, and even threatened the perpetuity of our glorious Union.
“To the States respectively, or to the people,” have been reserved “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States.”. Each State is a complete sovereignty within the sphere of its reserved powers. The government of the Union, acting within the sphere of its delegated authority, is also a complete sovereignty. While the general government should abstain from the exercise of authority not clearly delegated to it, the States should be equally careful that, in the maintenance of their rights, they do not overstep the limits of powers reserved to them. One of the most distinguished of my predecessors attached deserved importance to “ the support of the State governments in all their rights, is the most competent administration for our domestic concerns, and the surest bulwark against anti-republican tendencies ;” and to the “preservation of the general government in its whole constitutional vigor, as the sheet-anchor of our peace at home and safety abroad.”
To the government of the United States has been intrusted the exclusive management of ou: foreign affairs,
Beyond that, it wields a few general enumerated powers. It does not force reform on the States. It leaves individuals, over whom it casts its protecting influence, entirely free to improve their own condition by the legitimate exercise of all their mental and physical powers. It is a common protector of each and all the States; of every man who lives upon our soil, whether of native or foreign birth ; of every religious sect, in their worship of the Almighty according to the dictates of their own conscience; of every shade of opinion, and the most free inquiry; of every art, trade, and occupation, consistent with the laws of the States. And we rejoice in the general happiness, prosperity, and advancement of our country, which have been the offspring of freedom, and not of power.
This most admirable and wisest system of well-regulated self-government among men, ever devised by human minds, has been tested by its successful operation for more than half a century; and, if preserved from the usurpations of the federal government on the one hand, and the exercise by the States of powers not reserved to them on the other, will, I fervently hope and believe, endure för ages to come, and dispense the blessings of civil and religious liberty to distant generations. To effect objects so dear to every patriot, I shall devote myself with anxious solicitude. It will be
my desire to guard against that most fruitful source of danger to the harmonious action of our system, which consists in substituting the mere discretion and caprice of the executive, or of majorities in the legislative department of the government, for powers which have been withheld from the federal government by the constitution. By the theory of our government, majorities rule; but this right is not an arbitrary or unlimited one. It is a right to be exercised in subordination to the constitution, and in conformity to it. One great object of the constitution was to restrain majorities from oppressing minorities, or encroaching upon their just rights. Minorities have a right to appeal to the constitution, as a shield against such oppression.
That the blessings of liberty which our constitution secures may be enjoyed alike by minorities and majorities, the executive has been wisely invested with a qualified veto upon the acts of the Legislature. It is a negative power, and is