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A convention providing for the revival of the late United States and Chilean Claims Commission and the consideration of claims which were duly presented to the late commission, but not considered because of the expiration of the time limited for the duration of the commission, was signed May 24, 1897, and has remained unacted upon by the Senate. The term therein fixed for effecting the exchange of ratifications having elapsed, the convention falls unless the time be extended by amendment, which I am endeavoring to bring about, with the friendly concurrence of the Chilean Government.
The United States has not been an indifferent spectator of the extraordinary events transpiring in the Chinese Empire, whereby portions of its maritime provinces are passing under the control of various European powers; but the prospect that the vast commerce which the energy of our citizens and the necessity of our staple productions for Chinese uses has built up in those regions may not be prejudiced through any exclusive treatment by the new occupants has obviated the need of our country becoming an actor in the scene. Our position among nations, having a large Pacific coast and a constantly expanding direct trade with the farther Orient, gives us the equitable claim to consideration and friendly treatment in this regard, and it will be my aim to subserve our large interests in that quarter by all means appropriate to the constant policy of our Government. The territories of Kiao-chow, of Wei-hai-wei, and of Port Arthur and Talienwan, leased to Germany, Great Britain, and Russia, respectively, for terms of years, will, it is announced, be open to international commerce during such alien occupation; and if no discriminating treatment of American citizens and their trade be found to exist or be hereafter developed, the desire of this Government would appear to be realized.
In this relation, as showing the volume and value of our exchanges with China and the peculiarly favorable conditions which exist for their expansion in the normal course of trade, I refer to the communication addressed to the Speaker of the House of Representatives by the Secretary of the Treasury on the 14th of last June, with its accompanying letter of the Secretary of State, recommending an appropriation for a commission to study the commercial and industrial conditions in the Chinese Empire and report as to the opportunities for and obstacles to the enlargement of markets in China for the raw products and manufactures of the United States. Action was not taken thereon during the late session. I cordially urge that the recommendation receive at your hands the consideration which its importance and timeliness merit.
Meanwhile there may be just ground for disquietude in view of the unrest and revival of the old sentiment of opposition and prejudice to alien people which pervades certain of the Chinese provinces. As in the case of the attacks upon our citizens in Szechuen and at Kutien in 1895, the United States minister has been instructed to secure the fullest measure of protection, both local and imperial, for any menaced American interests, and to demand, in case of lawless injury to person or property, instant reparation appropriate to the case. War ships have been stationed at Tientsin for more ready observation of the disorders which have invaded even the Chinese capital, so as to be in a position to act should need arise, while a guard of marines has been sent to Peking to afford the minister the same measure of authoritative protection as the representatives of other nations have been constrained to employ.
Following close upon the rendition of the award of my predecessor as arbitrator of the claim of the Italian subject Cerruti against the Republic of Colombia, differences arose between the parties to the arbitration in regard to the scope and extension of the award, of which certain articles were contested by Colombia, while Italy claimed their literal fulfillment. The award having been made by the President of the United States, as an act of friendly consideration and with the sole view to an impartial composition of the matter in dispute, I could not but feel deep concern at such a miscarriage, and while unable to accept the Colombian theory that I, in my official capacity, possessed continuing functions as arbitrator, with power to interpret or revise the terms of the award, my best efforts were lent to bring the parties to a harmonious agreement as to the execution of its provisions.
A naval demonstration by Italy resulted in an engagement to pay the liabilities claimed upon their ascertainment; but this apparent disposition of the controversy was followed by a rupture of diplomatic intercourse between Colombia and Italy, which still continues, although, fortunately, without acute symptoms having supervened. Notwithstanding this, efforts are reported to be continuing for the ascertainment of Colombia’s contingent liability on account of Cerruti’s debts under the fifth article of the award.
A claim of an American citizen against the Dominican Republic for a public bridge over the Ozama River, which has been in diplomatic controversy for several years, has been settled by expert arbitration and an award in favor of the claimant amounting to about $90,000. It, however, remains unpaid, despite urgent demands for its settlement according to the terms of the compact.
There is now every prospect that the participation of the United States in the Universal Exposition to be held in Paris in 1900 will be on a scale commensurate with the advanced position held by our products and industries in the world’s chief marts.
The preliminary report of Mr. Moses P. Handy, who, under the act approved July 19, 1897, was appointed special commissioner with a view to securing all attainable information necessary to a full and complete understanding by Congress in regard to the participation of this Government in the Paris Exposition, was laid before you by my message of December 6, 1897, and showed the large opportunities opened to make known our national progress in arts, science, and manufactures, as well as the urgent need of immediate and adequate provision to enable due advantage thereof to be taken. Mr. Handy’s death soon afterwards rendered it necessary for another to take up and complete his unfinished work, and on January 11 last Mr. Thomas W. Cridler, Third Assistant Secretary of State, was designated to fulfill that task. His report was laid before you by my message of June 14, 1898, with the gratifying result of awakening renewed interest in the projected display. By a provision in the sundry civil appropriation act of July 1, 1898, a sum not to exceed $650,000 was allotted for the organization of a commission to care for the proper preparation and installation of American exhibits and for the display of suitable exhibits by the several Executive Departments, particularly by the Department of Agriculture, the Fish Commission, and the Smithsonian Institution, in representation of the Government of the United States.
Pursuant to that enactment I appointed Mr. Ferdinand W. Peck, of Chicago, commissioner-general, with an assistant commissioner-general and a secretary. Mr. Peck at once proceeded to Paris, where his success in enlarging the scope and variety of the United States exhibit has been most gratifying. Notwithstanding the comparatively limited area of the exposition site—less than one-half that of the World’s Fair at Chicago-the space assigned to the United States has been increased from the absolute allotment of 157,403 square feet reported by Mr. Handy to some 202,000 square feet, with corresponding augmentation of the field for a truly characteristic representation of the various important branches of our country’s development. Mr. Peck’s report will be laid before you. In my judgment its recommendations will call for your early consideration, especially as regards an increase of the appropriation to at least one million dollars in all, so that not only may the assigned space be fully taken up by the best possible exhibits in every class, but the preparation and installation be on so perfect a scale as to rank among the first in that unparalleled competition of artistic and inventive production, and thus counterbalance the disadvantage with which we start as compared with other countries whose appropriations are on a more generous scale and whose preparations are in a state of much greater forwardness than our own.
Where our artisans have the admitted capacity to excel, where our inventive genius has initiated many of the grandest discoveries of these later days of the century, and where the native resources of our land are as limitless as they are valuable to supply the world’s needs, it is our province, as it should be our earnest care, to lead in the march of human progress, and not rest content with any secondary place. Moreover, if this be due to ourselves, it is no less due to the great French nation whose guests we become, and which has in so many ways testified its wish and hope that our participation shall befit the place the two peoples have won in the field of universal development.
The commercial arrangement made with France on the 28th of May, 1898, under the provisions of section 3 of the tariff act of 1897, went into effect on the 1st day of June following. It has relieved a portion of our export trade from serious embarrassment. Further negotiations are now pending under section 4 of the same act with a view to the increase of trade between the two countries to their mutual advantage. Negotiations with other governments, in part interrupted by the war with Spain, are in progress under both sections of the tariff act. I hope to be able to announce some of the results of these negotiations during the present session of Congress.
Negotiations to the same end with Germany have been set on foot. Meanwhile no effort has been relaxed to convince the Imperial Government of the thoroughness of our inspection of pork products for exportation, and it is trusted that the efficient administration of this measure by the Department of Agriculture will be recognized as a guaranty of the healthfulness of the food staples we send abroad to countries where their use is large and necessary.
I transmitted to the Senate on the 10th of February last information touching the prohibition against the importation of fresh fruits from this country, which had then recently been decreed by Germany on the ground of danger of disseminating the San Jose scale insect. This precautionary measure was justified by Germany on the score of the drastic steps taken in several States of the Union against the spread of the pest, the elaborate reports of the Department of Agriculture being put in evidence to show the danger to German fruit-growing interests should the scale obtain a lodgment in that country. Temporary relief was afforded in the case of large consignments of fruit then on the way by inspection and admission when found noninfected. Later the prohibition was extended to dried fruits of every kind, but was relaxed so as to apply only to unpeeled fruit and fruit waste. As was to be expected, the alarm reached to other countries, and Switzerland has adopted a similar inhibition. Efforts are in progress to induce the German and Swiss Governments to relax the prohibition in favor of dried fruits shown to have been cured under circumstances rendering the existence of animal life impossible.
Our relations with Great Britain have continued on the most friendly footing. Assenting to our request, the protection of Americans and their interests in Spanish jurisdiction was assumed by the diplomatic and consular representatives of Great Britain, who fulfilled their delicate and arduous trust with tact and zeal, eliciting high commendation. I may be allowed to make fitting allusion to the instance of Mr. Ramsden, Her Majesty’s consul at Santiago de Cuba, whose untimely death after distinguished service and untiring effort during the siege of that city was sincerely lamented.
In the early part of April last, pursuant to a request made at the instance of the Secretary of State by the British ambassador at this capital, the Canadian government granted facilities for the passage of four United States revenue cutters from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic coast by way of the Canadian canals and the St. Lawrence River. The vessels had reached Lake Ontario and were there awaiting the opening of navigation when war was declared between the United States and Spain. Her Majesty’s Government thereupon, by a communication of the latter part of April, stated that the permission granted before the outbreak of hostilities would not be withdrawn provided the United States Government gave assurance that the vessels in question would proceed direct to a United States port without engaging in any hostile operation. This Government promptly agreed to the stipulated condition, it being understood that the vessels would not be prohibited from resisting any hostile attack.
It will give me especial satisfaction if I shall be authorized to communicate to you a favorable conclusion of the pending negotiations with Great Britain in respect to the Dominion of Canada. It is the earnest wish of this Government to remove all sources of discord and irritation in our relations with the neighboring Dominion. The trade between the two countries is constantly increasing, and it is important to both countries that all reasonable facilities should be granted for its development.
The Government of Greece strongly urges the onerousness of the duty here imposed upon the currants of that country, amounting to 100 per cent or more of their market value. This fruit is stated to be exclusively a Greek product, not coming into competition with any domestic product. The question of reciprocal commercial relations with Greece, including the restoration of currants to the free list, is under consideration.
The long-standing claim of Bernard Campbell for damages for injuries sustained from a violent assault committed against him by military authorities in the island of Haiti has been settled by the agreement of that Republic to pay him $10,000 in American gold. Of this sum $5,000 has already been paid. It is hoped that other pending claims of American citizens against that Republic may be amicably adjusted.
Pending the consideration by the Senate of the treaty signed June 1897, by the plenipotentiaries of the United States and of the Republic of Hawaii, providing for the annexation of the islands, a joint resolution to accomplish the same purpose by accepting the offered cession and incorporating the ceded territory into the Union was adopted by the Congress and approved July 7, 1898. I thereupon directed the United States steamship Philadelphia to convey Rear-Admiral Miller to Honolulu, and intrusted to his hands this important legislative act, to be delivered to the President of the Republic of Hawaii, with whom the Admiral and the United States minister were authorized to make appropriate arrangements for transferring the sovereignty of the islands to the United States. This was simply but impressively accomplished on the 12th of August last by the delivery of a certified copy of the resolution to President Dole, who thereupon yielded up to the representative of the Government of the United States the sovereignty and public property of the Hawaiian Islands.
Pursuant to the terms of the joint resolution and in exercise of the authority thereby conferred upon me, I directed that the civil, judicial, and military powers theretofore exercised by the officers of the Government of the Republic of Hawaii should continue to be exercised by those officers until Congress shall provide a government for the incorporated territory, subject to my power to remove such officers and to fill vacancies. The President, officers, and troops of the Republic thereupon took the oath of allegiance to the United States, thus providing for the uninterrupted continuance of all the administrative and municipal functions of the annexed territory until Congress shall otherwise enact.
Following the further provision of the joint resolution, I appointed the Hons. Shelby M. Cullom, of Illinois, John T. Morgan, of Alabama, Robert R. Hitt, of Illinois, Sanford B. Dole, of Hawaii, and Walter F. Frear, of Hawaii, as commissioners to confer and recommend to Congress such legislation concerning the Hawaiian Islands as they should deem necessary or proper. The commissioners having fulfilled the mission confided to them, their report will be laid before you at an early day. It is believed that their recommendations will have the earnest consideration due to the magnitude of the responsibility resting upon you to give such shape to the relationship of those mid-Pacific lands to our home Union as will benefit both in the highest degree, realizing the aspirations of the community that has cast its lot with us and elected to share our political heritage, while at the same time justifying the foresight of those who for three-quarters of a century have looked to the assimilation of Hawaii as a natural and inevitable consummation, in harmony with our needs and in fulfillment of our cherished traditions.
The questions heretofore pending between Hawaii and Japan growing out of the alleged mistreatment of Japanese treaty immigrants were, I am pleased to say, adjusted before the act of transfer by the payment of a reasonable indemnity to the Government of Japan.
Under the provisions of the joint resolution, the existing customs relations of the Hawaiian Islands with the United States and with other countries remain unchanged until legislation shall otherwise provide. The consuls of Hawaii here and in foreign countries continue to fulfill their commercial agencies, while the United States consulate at Honolulu is maintained for all appropriate services pertaining to trade and the revenue. It would be desirable that all foreign consuls in the Hawaiian Islands should receive new exequaturs from this Government.
The attention of Congress is called to the fact that, our consular offices having ceased to exist in Hawaii and being about to cease in other countries coming under the sovereignty of the United States, the provisions for the relief and transportation of destitute American seamen in these countries under our consular regulations will in consequence terminate. It is proper, therefore, that new legislation should be enacted upon this subject in order to meet the changed conditions.
The interpretation of certain provisions of the extradition convention of December 11, 1861, has been at various times the occasion of controversy with the Government of Mexico. An acute difference arose in the case of the Mexican demand for the delivery of Jesus Guerra, who, having led a marauding expedition near the border with the proclaimed purpose of initiating an insurrection against President Diaz, escaped into Texas. Extradition was refused on the ground that the alleged offense was political in its character, and therefore came within the treaty proviso of nonsurrender. The Mexican contention was that the exception only related to purely political offenses, and that as Guerra’s acts were admixed with the common crime of murder, arson, kidnaping, and robbery, the option of nondelivery became void, a position which this Government was unable to admit in view of the received international doctrine and practice in the matter. The Mexican Government, in view of this, gave notice January 24, 1898, of the termination of the convention, to take effect twelve months from that date, at the same time inviting the conclusion of a new convention, toward which negotiations are on foot.
In this relation I may refer to the necessity of some amendment of our existing extradition statute. It is a common stipulation of such treaties that neither party shall be bound to give up its own citizens, with the added proviso in one of our treaties, that with Japan, that it may surrender if it see fit. It is held in this country by an almost uniform course of decisions that where a treaty negatives the obligation to surrender the President is not invested with legal authority to act. The conferment of such authority would be in the line of that sound morality which shrinks from affording secure asylum to the author of a heinous crime. Again, statutory provision might well be made for what is styled extradition by way of transit, whereby a fugitive surrendered by one foreign government to another may be conveyed across the territory of the United States to the jurisdiction of the demanding state. A recommendation in this behalf made in the President’s message of 1886 was not acted upon. The matter is presented for your consideration.
The problem of the Mexican free zone has been often discussed with regard to its inconvenience as a provocative of smuggling into the United States along an extensive and thinly guarded land border. The effort made by the joint resolution of March 1, 1895, to remedy the abuse charged by suspending the privilege of free transportation in bond across the territory of the United States to Mexico failed of good result, as is stated in Report No. 702 of the House of Representatives, submitted in the last session, March 11, 1898. As the question is one to be conveniently met by wise concurrent legislation of the two countries looking to the protection of the revenues by harmonious measures operating equally on either side of the boundary, rather than by conventional arrangements, I suggest that Congress consider the advisability of authorizing and inviting a conference of representatives of the Treasury Departments of the United States and Mexico to consider the subject in all its complex bearings, and make report with pertinent recommendations to the respective Governments for the information and consideration of their Congresses.
The Mexican Water Boundary Commission has adjusted all matters submitted to it to the satisfaction of both Governments save in three important cases—that of the “Chamizal” at El Paso, Tex., where the two commissioners failed to agree, and wherein, for this case only, this Government has proposed to Mexico the addition of a third member; the proposed elimination of what are known as “Bancos,” small isolated islands formed by the cutting off of bends in the Rio Grande, from the operation of the treaties of 1884 and 1889, recommended by the commissioners and approved by this Government, but still under consideration by Mexico; and the subject of the “Equitable distribution of the waters of the Rio Grande,” for which the commissioners recommended an international dam and reservoir, approved by Mexico, but still under consideration by this Government. Pending these questions it is necessary to extend the life of the commission, which expires December 23 next.
The coronation of the young Queen of the Netherlands was made the occasion of fitting congratulations.
The claim of Victor H. McCord against Peru, which for a number of years has been pressed by this Government and has on several occasions attracted the attention of the Congress, has been satisfactorily adjusted. A protocol was signed May 17, 1898, whereby, the fact of liability being admitted, the question of the amount to be awarded was submitted to the chief justice of Canada as sole arbitrator. His award sets the indemnity due the claimant at $40,000.
The Government of Peru has given the prescribed notification of its intention to abrogate the treaty of friendship, commerce, and navigation concluded with this country August 31, 1887. As that treaty contains many important provisions necessary to the maintenance of commerce and good relations, which could with difficulty be replaced by the negotiation of renewed provisions within the brief twelve months intervening before the treaty terminates, I have invited suggestions by Peru as to the particular provisions it is desired to annul, in the hope of reaching an arrangement whereby the remaining articles may be provisionally saved.
His Majesty the Czar having announced his purpose to raise the Imperial Russian mission at this capital to the rank of an embassy, I responded, under the authority conferred by the act of March 3, 1893, by commissioning and accrediting the actual representative at St. Petersburg in the capacity of ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary. The Russian ambassador to this country has since presented his credentials.
The proposal of the Czar for a general reduction of the vast military establishments that weigh so heavily upon many peoples in time of peace was communicated to this Government with an earnest invitation to be represented in the conference which it is contemplated to assemble with a view to discussing the means of accomplishing so desirable a result. His Majesty was at once informed of the cordial sympathy of this Government with the principle involved in his exalted proposal and of the readiness of the United States to take part in the conference. The active military force of the United States, as measured by our population, territorial area, and taxable wealth, is, and under any conceivable prospective conditions must continue to be, in time of peace so conspicuously less than that of the armed powers to whom the Czar’s appeal is especially addressed that the question can have for us no practical importance save as marking an auspicious step toward the betterment of the condition of the modern peoples and the cultivation of peace and good will among them; but in this view it behooves us as a nation to lend countenance and aid to the beneficent project.
The claims of owners of American sealing vessels for seizure by Russian cruisers in Bering Sea are being pressed to a settlement. The equities of the cases justify the expectation that a measure of reparation will eventually be accorded in harmony with precedent and in the light of the proven facts.
The recommendation made in my special message of April 27 last is renewed, that appropriation be made to reimburse the master and owners of the Russian bark Hans for wrongful arrest of the master and detention of the vessel in February, 1896, by officers of the United States district court for the southern district of Mississippi. The papers accompanying my said message make out a most meritorious claim and justify the urgency with which it has been presented by the Government of Russia.
Malietoa Laupepa, King of Samoa, died on August 22 last. According to Article I of the general act of Berlin, “his successor shall be duly elected according to the laws and customs of Samoa.”
Arrangements having been agreed upon between the signatories of the general act for the return of Mataafa and the other exiled Samoan chiefs, they were brought from Jaluit by a German war vessel and landed at Apia on September 18 last.
Whether the death of Malietoa and the return of his old-time rival Mataafa will add to the undesirable complications which the execution of the tripartite general act has heretofore developed remains to be seen. The efforts of this Government will, as heretofore, be addressed toward a harmonious and exact fulfillment of the terms of the international engagement to which the United States became a party in 1889.
The Cheek claim against Siam, after some five years of controversy, has been adjusted by arbitration under an agreement signed July 6, 1897, an award of 706,721 ticals (about $187,987.78 ), with release of the Cheek estate from mortgage claims, having been rendered March 21, 1898, in favor of the claimant by the arbitrator, Sir Nicholas John Hannen, British chief justice for China and Japan.
An envoy from Siam has been accredited to this Government and has presented his credentials.
Immediately upon the outbreak of the war with Spain the Swiss Government, fulfilling the high mission it has deservedly assumed as the patron of the International Red Cross, proposed to the United States and Spain that they should severally recognize and carry into execution, as a modus vivendi, during the continuance of hostilities, the additional articles proposed by the international conference of Geneva, October 20, 1868, extending the effects of the existing Red Cross convention of 1864 to the conduct of naval war. Following the example set by France and Germany in 1870 in adopting such a modus vivendi, and in view of the accession of the United States to those additional articles in 1882, although the exchange of ratifications thereof still remained uneffected, the Swiss proposal was promptly and cordially accepted by us, and simultaneously by Spain.
This Government feels a keen satisfaction in having thus been enabled to testify its adherence to the broadest principles of humanity even amidst the clash of war, and it is to be hoped that the extension of the Red Cross compact to hostilities by sea as well as on land may soon become an accomplished fact through the general promulgation of the additional naval Red Cross articles by the maritime powers now parties to the convention of 1864.
The important question of the claim of Switzerland to the perpetual cantonal allegiance of American citizens of Swiss origin has not made hopeful progress toward a solution, and controversies in this regard still continue.
The newly accredited envoy of the United States to the Ottoman Porte carries instructions looking to the disposal of matters in controversy with Turkey for a number of years. He is especially charged to press for a just settlement of our claims for indemnity by reason of the destruction of the property of American missionaries resident in that country during the Armenian troubles of 1895, as well as for the recognition of older claims of equal justness.
He is also instructed to seek an adjustment of the dispute growing out of the refusal of Turkey to recognize the acquired citizenship of Ottoman-born persons naturalized in the United States since 1869 without prior imperial consent, and in the same general relation he is directed to endeavor to bring about a solution of the question which has more or less acutely existed since 1869 concerning the jurisdictional rights of the United States in matters of criminal procedure and punishment under Article IV of the treaty of 1830. This latter difficulty grows out of a verbal difference, claimed by Turkey to be essential, between the original Turkish text and the promulgated translation.
After more than two years from the appointment of a consul of this country to Erzerum, he has received his exequatur.
The arbitral tribunal appointed under the treaty of February 2, 1897, between Great Britain and Venezuela, to determine the boundary line between the latter and the colony of British Guiana, is to convene at Paris during the present month. It is a source of much gratification to this Government to see the friendly resort of arbitration applied to the settlement of this controversy, not alone because of the earnest part we have had in bringing about the result, but also because the two members named on behalf of Venezuela, Mr. Chief Justice Fuller and Mr. Justice Brewer, chosen from our highest court, appropriately testify the continuing interest we feel in the definitive adjustment of the question according to the strictest rules of justice. The British members, Lord Herschell and Sir Richard Collins, are jurists of no less exalted repute, while the fifth member and president of the tribunal, M. F. De Martens, has earned a world-wide reputation as an authority upon international law.
The claim of Felipe Scandella against Venezuela for arbitrary expulsion and injury to his business has been adjusted by the revocation of the order of expulsion and by the payment of the sum of $16,000.
I have the satisfaction of being able to state that the Bureau of the American Republics, created in 1890 as the organ for promoting commercial intercourse and fraternal relations among the countries of the Western Hemisphere, has become a more efficient instrument of the wise purposes of its founders, and is receiving the cordial support of the contributing members of the international union which are actually represented in its board of management. A commercial directory, in two volumes, containing a mass of statistical matter descriptive of the industrial and commercial interests of the various countries, has been printed in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French, and a monthly bulletin published in these four languages and distributed in the Latin-American countries as well as in the United States has proved to be a valuable medium for disseminating information and furthering the varied interests of the international union.
During the past year the important work of collecting information of practical benefit to American industries and trade through the agency of the diplomatic and consular officers has been steadily advanced, and in order to lay such data before the public with the least delay the practice was begun in January, 1898, of issuing the commercial reports from day to day as they are received by the Department of State. It is believed that for promptitude as well as fullness of information the service thus supplied to our merchants and manufacturers will be found to show sensible improvement and to merit the liberal support of Congress.
The experiences of the last year bring forcibly home to us a sense of the burdens and the waste of war. We desire, in common with most civilized nations, to reduce to the lowest possible point the damage sustained in time of war by peaceable trade and commerce. It is true we may suffer in such cases less than other communities, but all nations are damaged more or less by the state of uneasiness and apprehension into which an outbreak of hostilities throws the entire commercial world. It should be our object, therefore, to minimize, so far as practicable, this inevitable loss and disturbance. This purpose can probably best be accomplished by an international agreement to regard all private property at sea as exempt from capture or destruction by the forces of belligerent powers. The United States Government has for many years advocated this humane and beneficent principle, and is now in position to recommend it to other powers without the imputation of selfish motives. I therefore suggest for your consideration that the Executive be authorized to correspond with the governments of the principal maritime powers with a view of incorporating into the permanent law of civilized nations the principle of the exemption of all private property at sea, not contraband of war, from capture or destruction by belligerent powers.
The Secretary of the Treasury reports that the receipts of the Government from all sources during the fiscal year ended June 30, 1898, including $64,751,223 received from sale of Pacific railroads, amounted to $405,321,335, and its expenditures to $443,168,582. There was collected from customs $149,575,062 and from internal revenue $170,900,641. Our dutiable imports amounted to $324,635,479, a decrease of $58,156,690 over the preceding year, and importations free of duty amounted to $291,414,175, a decrease from the preceding year of $90,524,068. Internal-revenue receipts exceeded those of the preceding year by $24,212,067.
The total tax collected on distilled spirits was $92,546,999; on manufactured tobacco, $36,230,522, and on fermented liquors, $39,515,421. We exported merchandise during the year amounting to $1,231,482,330, an increase of $180,488,774 from the preceding year.
It is estimated upon the basis of present revenue laws that the receipts of the Government for the year ending June 30, 1899, will be $577,874,647, and its expenditures $689,874,647, resulting in a deficiency of $112,000,000.
On the 1st of December, 1898, there was held in the Treasury gold coin amounting to $138,441,547, gold bullion amounting to $138,502,545, silver bullion amounting to $93,359,250, and other forms of money amounting to $451,963,981.
On the same date the amount of money of all kinds in circulation, or not included in Treasury holdings, was $1,886,879,504, an increase for the year of $165,794,966. Estimating our population at 75,194,000 at the time mentioned, the per capita circulation was $25.09. On the same date there was in the Treasury gold bullion amounting to $138,502,545.
The provisions made for strengthening the resources of the Treasury in connection with the war have given increased confidence in the purpose and power of the Government to maintain the present standard, and have established more firmly than ever the national credit at home and abroad. A marked evidence of this is found in the inflow of gold to the Treasury. Its net gold holdings on November 1, 1898, were $239,885,162 as compared with $153,573,147 on November 1, 1897, and an increase of net cash of $207,756,100, November 1, 1897, to $300,238,275, November 1, 1898. The present ratio of net Treasury gold to outstanding Government liabilities, including United States notes, Treasury notes of 1890, silver certificates, currency certificates, standard silver dollars, and fractional silver coin, November 1, 1898, was 25.35 per cent, as compared with 16.96 per cent, November 1, 1897.
I renew so much of my recommendation of December, 1897, as follows: That when any of the United States notes are presented for redemption in gold and are redeemed in gold, such notes shall be kept and set apart and only paid out in exchange for gold. This is an obvious duty. If the holder of the United States note prefers the gold and gets it from the Government, he should not receive back from the Government a United States note without paying gold in exchange for it. The reason for this is made all the more apparent when the Government issues an interest-bearing debt to provide gold for the redemption of United States notes—a non-interest-bearing debt. Surely it should not pay them out again except on demand and for gold. If they are put out in any other way, they may return again, to he followed by another bond issue to redeem them—another interest-bearing debt to redeem a non-interest-bearing debt. This recommendation was made in the belief that such provisions of law would insure to a greater degree the safety of the present standard, and better protect our currency from the dangers to which it is subjected from a disturbance in the general business conditions of the country.
In my judgment the present condition of the Treasury amply justifies the immediate enactment of the legislation recommended one year ago, under which a portion of the gold holdings should be placed in a trust fund from which greenbacks should be redeemed upon presentation, but when once redeemed should not thereafter be paid out except for gold.
It is not to be inferred that other legislation relating to our currency is not required; on the contrary, there is an obvious demand for it.
The importance of adequate provision which will insure to our future a money standard related as our money standard now is to that of our commercial rivals is generally recognized.
The companion proposition that our domestic paper currency shall be kept safe and yet be so related to the needs of our industries and internal commerce as to be adequate and responsive to such needs is a proposition scarcely less important. The subject, in all its parts, is commended to the wise consideration of the Congress.
The annexation of Hawaii and the changed relations of the United States to Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines resulting from the war, compel the prompt adoption of a maritime policy by the United States. There should be established regular and frequent steamship communication, encouraged by the United States, under the American flag, with the newly acquired islands. Spain furnished to its colonies, at an annual cost of about $2,000,000, steamship lines communicating with a portion of the world’s markets, as well as with trade centers of the home Government. The United States will not undertake to do less. It is our duty to furnish the people of Hawaii with facilities, under national control, for their export and import trade. It will be conceded that the present situation calls for legislation which shall be prompt, durable, and liberal.
The part which American merchant vessels and their seamen performed in the war with Spain demonstrates that this service, furnishing both pickets and the second line of defense, is a national necessity, and should be encouraged in every constitutional way. Details and methods for the accomplishment of this purpose are discussed in the report of the Secretary of the Treasury, to which the attention of Congress is respectfully invited.
In my last annual message I recommended that Congress authorize the appointment of a commission for the purpose of making systematic investigations with reference to the cause and prevention of yellow fever. This matter has acquired an increased importance as a result of the military occupation of the island of Cuba and the commercial intercourse between this island and the United States which we have every reason to expect. The sanitary problems connected with our new relations with the island of Cuba and the acquisition of Puerto Rico are no less important than those relating to finance, commerce, and administration. It is my earnest desire that these problems may be considered by competent experts and that everything may be done which the most recent advances in sanitary science can offer for the protection of the health of our soldiers in those islands and of our citizens who are exposed to the dangers of infection from the importation of yellow fever. I therefore renew my recommendation that the authority of Congress may be given and a suitable appropriation made to provide for a commission of experts to be appointed for the purpose indicated.
Under the act of Congress approved April 26, 1898, authorizing the President in his discretion, “upon a declaration of war by Congress, or a declaration by Congress that war exists,” I directed the increase of the Regular Army to the maximum of 62,000, authorized in said act.
There are now in the Regular Army 57,862 officers and men. In said act it was provided#151;
That at the end of any war in which the United States may become involved the Army shall be reduced to a peace basis by the transfer in the same arm of the service or absorption by promotion or honorable discharge, under such regulations as the Secretary of War may establish, of supernumerary commissioned officers and the honorable discharge or transfer of supernumerary enlisted men; and nothing contained in this act shall be construed as authorizing the permanent increase of the commissioned or enlisted force of the Regular Army beyond that now provided by the law in force prior to the passage of this act, except as to the increase of twenty-five majors provided for in section 1 hereof. The importance of legislation for the permanent increase of the Army is therefore manifest, and the recommendation of the Secretary of War for that purpose has my unqualified approval. There can be no question that at this time, and probably for some time in the future, 100,000 men will be none too many to meet the necessities of the situation. At all events, whether that number shall be required permanently or not, the power should be given to the President to enlist that force if in his discretion it should be necessary; and the further discretion should be given him to recruit for the Army within the above limit from the inhabitants of the islands with the government of which we are charged. It is my purpose to muster out the entire Volunteer Army as soon as the Congress shall provide for the increase of the regular establishment. This will be only an act of justice and will be much appreciated by the brave men who left their homes and employments to help the country in its emergency.
In my last annual message I stated: The Union Pacific Railway, main line, was sold under the decree of the United States court for the district of Nebraska on the 1st and 2d of November of this year. The amount due the Government consisted of the principal of the subsidy bonds, $27,236,512, and the accrued interest thereon, $31,211,711.75, making the total indebtedness $58,448,223.75. The bid at the sale covered the first-mortgage lien and the entire mortgage claim of the Government, principal and interest. This left the Kansas Pacific case unconcluded. By a decree of the court in that case an upset price for the property was fixed at a sum which would yield to the Government only $2,500,000 upon its lien. The sale, at the instance of the Government, was postponed first to December 15, 1897, and later, upon the application of the United States, was postponed to the 16th day of February, 1898.
Having satisfied myself that the interests of the Government required that an effort should be made to obtain a larger sum, I directed the Secretary of the Treasury, under the act passed March 3, 1887, to pay out of the Treasury to the persons entitled to receive the same the amounts due upon all prior mortgages upon the Eastern and Middle divisions of said railroad out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, whereupon the Attorney-General prepared a petition to be presented to the court, offering to redeem said prior liens in such manner as the court might direct, and praying that thereupon the United States might be held to be subrogated to all the rights of said prior lien holders and that a receiver might be appointed to take possession of the mortgaged premises and maintain and operate the same until the court or Congress otherwise directed. Thereupon the reorganization committee agreed that if said petition was withdrawn and the sale allowed to proceed on the 16th of February, 1898, they would bid a sum at the sale which would realize to the Government the entire principal of its debt, $6,303,000.
Believing that no better price could be obtained and appreciating the difficulties under which the Government would labor if it should become the purchaser of the road at the sale, in the absence of any authority by Congress to take charge of and operate the road I directed that upon the guaranty of a minimum bid which should give the Government the principal of its debt the sale should proceed. By this transaction the Government secured an advance of $3,803,000 over and above the sum which the court had fixed as the upset price, and which the reorganization committee had declared was the maximum which they would pay for the property.
It is a gratifying fact that the result of these proceedings against the Union Pacific system and the Kansas Pacific line is that the Government has received on account of its subsidy claim the sum of $64,751,223.75, an increase of $18,997,163.76 over the sum which the reorganization committee originally agreed to bid for the joint property, the Government receiving its whole claim, principal and interest, on the Union Pacific, and the principal of its debt on the Kansas Pacific Railroad.
Steps had been taken to foreclose the Government’s lien upon the Central Pacific Railroad Company, but before action was commenced Congress passed an act, approved July 7, 1898, creating a commission consisting of the Secretary of the Treasury, the Attorney-General, and the Secretary of the Interior, and their successors in office, with full power to settle the indebtedness to the Government growing out of the issue of bonds in aid of the construction of the Central Pacific and Western Pacific bond-aided railroads, subject to the approval of the President.
No report has yet been made to me by the commission thus created. Whatever action is had looking to a settlement of the indebtedness in accordance with the act referred to will be duly submitted to the Congress.
I deem it my duty to call to the attention of Congress the condition of the present building occupied by the Department of Justice. The business of that Department has increased very greatly since it was established in its present quarters. The building now occupied by it is neither large enough nor of suitable arrangement for the proper accommodation of the business of the Department. The Supervising Architect has pronounced it unsafe and unsuited for the use to which it is put. The Attorney-General in his report states that the library of the Department is upon the fourth floor, and that all the space allotted to it is so crowded with books as to dangerously overload the structure. The first floor is occupied by the Court of Claims. The building is of an old and dilapidated appearance, unsuited to the dignity which should attach to this important Department.
A proper regard for the safety, comfort, and convenience of the officers and employees would justify the expenditure of a liberal sum of money in the erection of a new building of commodious proportions and handsome appearance upon the very advantageous site already secured for that purpose, including the ground occupied by the present structure and adjoining vacant lot, comprising in all a frontage of 201 feet on Pennsylvania avenue and a depth of 136 feet.
In this connection I may likewise refer to the inadequate accommodations provided for the Supreme Court in the Capitol, and suggest the wisdom of making provision for the erection of a separate building for the court and its officers and library upon available ground near the Capitol.
The postal service of the country advances with extraordinary growth. Within twenty years both the revenues and the expenditures of the Post-Office Department have multiplied threefold. In the last ten years they have nearly doubled. Our postal business grows much more rapidly than our population. It now involves an expenditure of $100,000,000 a year, numbers 73,000 post-offices, and enrolls 200,000 employees. This remarkable extension of a service which is an accurate index of the public conditions presents gratifying evidence of the advancement of education, of the increase of communication and business activity, and of the improvement of mail facilities leading to their constantly augmenting use.
The war with Spain laid new and exceptional labors on the Post-Office Department. The mustering of the military and naval forces of the United States required special mail arrangements for every camp and every campaign. The communication between home and camp was naturally eager and expectant. In some of the larger places of rendezvous as many as 50,000 letters a day required handling. This necessity was met by the prompt detail and dispatch of experienced men from the established force and by directing all the instrumentalities of the railway mail and post-office service, so far as necessary, to this new need. Congress passed an act empowering the postmaster-General to establish offices or branches at every military camp or station, and under this authority the postal machinery was speedily put into effective operation.
Under the same authority, when our forces moved upon Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines they were attended and followed by the postal service. Though the act of Congress authorized the appointment of postmasters where necessary, it was early determined that the public interests would best be subserved, not by new designations, but by the detail of experienced men familiar with every branch of the service, and this policy was steadily followed. When the territory which was the theater of conflict came into our possession, it became necessary to reestablish mail facilities for the resident population as well as to provide them for our forces of occupation, and the former requirement was met through the extension and application of the latter obligation. I gave the requisite authority, and the same general principle was applied to this as to other branches of civil administration under military occupation. The details are more particularly given in the report of the postmaster-General, and, while the work is only just begun, it is pleasing to be able to say that the service in the territory which has come under our control is already materially improved.
The following recommendations of the Secretary of the Navy relative to the increase of the Navy have my earnest approval:
1. Three seagoing sheathed and coppered battle ships of about 13,500 tons trial displacement, carrying the heaviest armor and most powerful ordnance for vessels of their class, and to have the highest practicable speed and great radius of action. Estimated cost, exclusive of armor and armament, $3,600,000 each.
2. Three sheathed and coppered armored cruisers of about 12,000 tons trial displacement, carrying the heaviest armor and most powerful ordnance for vessels of their class, and to have the highest practicable speed and great radius of action. Estimated cost, exclusive of armor and armament, $4,000,000 each.
3. Three sheathed and coppered protected cruisers of about 6,000 tons trial displacement, to have the highest practicable speed and great radius of action, and to carry the most powerful ordnance suitable for vessels of their class. Estimated cost, exclusive of armor and armament, $2,150,000 each.
4. Six sheathed and coppered cruisers of about 2,500 tons trial displacement, to have the highest speed compatible with good cruising qualities, great radius of action, and to carry the most powerful ordnance suited to vessels of their class. Estimated cost, exclusive of armament, $1,141,800 each.
I join with the Secretary of the Navy in recommending that grades of admiral and vice-admiral be temporarily revived, to be filled by officers who have specially distinguished themselves in the war with Spain.
I earnestly urge upon Congress the importance of early legislation providing for the taking of the Twelfth Census. This is necessary in view of the large amount of work which must be performed in the preparation of the schedules preparatory to the enumeration of the population.
There were on the pension rolls on June 30, 1898, 993,714 names, an increase of nearly 18,000 over the number on the rolls on the same day of the preceding year. The amount appropriated by the act of December 22, 1896, for the payment of pensions for the fiscal year of 1898 was $140,000,000. Eight million seventy thousand eight hundred and seventy-two dollars and forty-six cents was appropriated by the act of March 31, 1898, to cover deficiencies in army pensions, and repayments in the sum of $12,020.33, making a total of $148,082,892.79 available for the payment of pensions during the fiscal year 1898. The amount disbursed from that sum was $144,651,879.80, leaving a balance of $3,431,012.99 unexpended on the 30th of June, 1898, which was covered into the Treasury. There were 389 names added to the rolls during the year by special acts passed at the second session of the Fifty-fifth Congress, making a total of 6,486 pensioners by Congressional enactments since 1861.
The total receipts of the Patent Office during the past year were $1,253,948.44. The expenditures were $1,081,633.79, leaving a surplus of $172,314.65.
The public lands disposed of by the Government during the year reached 8,453,896.92 acres, an increase of 614,780.26 acres over the previous year. The total receipts from public lands during the fiscal year amounted to $2,277,995.18, an increase of $190,063.90 over the preceding year. The lands embraced in the eleven forest reservations which were suspended by the act of June 4, 1897, again became subject to the operations of the proclamations of February 22, 1897, creating them, which added an estimated amount of 19,951,360 acres to the area embraced in the reserves previously created. In addition thereto two new reserves were created during the year—the Pine Mountain and Zaca Lake Reserve, in California, embracing 1,644,594 acres, and the Prescott Reserve, in Arizona, embracing 10,240 acres—while the Pecos River Reserve, in New Mexico, has been changed and enlarged to include 120,000 additional acres.
At the close of the year thirty forest reservations, not including those of the Afognak Forest and the Fish-Culture Reserve, in Alaska, had been created by Executive proclamations under section 24 of the act of March 3, 1891, embracing an estimated area of 40,719,474 acres.
The Department of the Interior has inaugurated a forest system, made possible by the act of July, 1898, for a graded force of officers in control of the reserves. This system has only been in full operation since August, but good results have already been secured in many sections. The reports received indicate that the system of patrol has not only prevented destructive fires from gaining headway, but has diminished the number of fires.
The special attention of the Congress is called to that part of the report of the Secretary of the Interior in relation to the Five Civilized Tribes. It is noteworthy that the general condition of the Indians shows marked progress. But one outbreak of a serious character occurred during the year, and that among the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota, which happily has been suppressed.
While it has not yet been practicable to enforce all the provisions of the act of June 28, 1898, “for the protection of the people of the Indian Territory, and for other purposes,” it is having a salutary effect upon the nations composing the five tribes. The Dawes Commission reports that the most gratifying results and greater advance toward the attainment of the objects of the Government have been secured in the past year than in any previous year. I can not too strongly indorse the recommendation of the commission and of the Secretary of the Interior for the necessity of providing for the education of the 30,000 white children resident in the Indian Territory.
The Department of Agriculture has been active in the past year. Explorers have been sent to many of the countries of the Eastern and Western hemispheres for seeds and plants that may be useful to the United States, and with the further view of opening up markets for our surplus products. The Forestry Division of the Department is giving special attention to the treeless regions of our country and is introducing species specially adapted to semiarid regions. Forest fires, which seriously interfere with production, especially in irrigated regions, are being studied, that losses from this cause may be avoided. The Department is inquiring into the use and abuse of water in many States of the West, and collating information regarding the laws of the States, the decisions of the courts, and the customs of the people in this regard, so that uniformity may be secured. Experiment stations are becoming more effective every year. The annual appropriation of $720,000 by Congress is supplemented by $400,000 from the States. Nation-wide experiments have been conducted to ascertain the suitableness as to soil and climate and States for growing sugar beets. The number of sugar factories has been doubled in the past two years, and the ability of the United States to produce its own sugar from this source has been clearly demonstrated.
The Weather Bureau forecast and observation stations have been extended around the Caribbean Sea, to give early warning of the approach of hurricanes from the south seas to our fleets and merchant marine.
In the year 1900 will occur the centennial anniversary of the founding of the city of Washington for the permanent capital of the Government of the United States by authority of an act of Congress approved July 16, 1790. In May, 1800, the archives and general offices of the Federal Government were removed to this place. On the 17th of November, 1800, the National Congress met here for the first time and assumed exclusive control of the Federal district and city. This interesting event assumes all the more significance when we recall the circumstances attending the choosing of the site, the naming of the capital in honor of the Father of his Country, and the interest taken by him in the adoption of plans for its future development on a magnificent scale.
These original plans have been wrought out with a constant progress and a signal success even beyond anything their framers could have foreseen. The people of the country are justly proud of the distinctive beauty and government of the capital and of the rare instruments of science and education which here find their natural home.
A movement lately inaugurated by the citizens to have the anniversary celebrated with fitting ceremonies, including, perhaps, the establishment of a handsome permanent memorial to mark so historical an occasion and to give it more than local recognition, has met with general favor on the part of the public.
I recommend to the Congress the granting of an appropriation for this purpose and the appointment of a committee from its respective bodies. It might also be advisable to authorize the President to appoint a committee from the country at large, which, acting with the Congressional and District of Columbia committees, can complete the plans for an appropriate national celebration.
The alien contract law is shown by experience to need some amendment; a measure providing better protection for seamen is proposed; the rightful application of the eight-hour law for the benefit of labor and of the principle of arbitration are suggested for consideration; and I commend these subjects to the careful attention of the Congress.
The several departmental reports will be laid before you. They give in great detail the conduct of the affairs of the Government during the past year and discuss many questions upon which the Congress may feel called upon to act.