|The American Presidency Project|
|• William Howard Taft|
|First Annual Message|
|December 7, 1909|
The relations of the United States with all foreign governments have continued upon the normal basis of amity and good understanding, and are very generally satisfactory.
Pursuant to the provisions of the general treaty of arbitration concluded between the United States and Great Britain, April 4, 1908, a special agreement was entered into between the two countries on January 27, 1909, for the submission of questions relating to the fisheries on the North Atlantic Coast to a tribunal to be formed from members of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague.
In accordance with the provisions of the special agreement the printed case of each Government was, on October 4 last, submitted to the other and to the Arbitral Tribunal at The Hague, and the counter case of the United States is now in course of preparation.
The American rights under the fisheries article of the Treaty of 1818 have been a cause of difference between the United States and Great Britain for nearly seventy years. The interests involved are of great importance to the American fishing industry, and the final settlement of the controversy will remove a source of constant irritation and complaint. This is the first case involving such great international questions which has been submitted to the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague.
The treaty between the United States and Great Britain concerning the Canadian International boundary, concluded April 11, 1908, authorizes the appointment of two commissioners to define and mark accurately the international boundary line between the United States and the Dominion of Canada in the waters of the Passamaquoddy Bay, and provides for the exchange of briefs within the period of six months. The briefs were duly presented within the prescribed period, but as the commissioners failed to agree within six months after the exchange of the printed statements, as required by the treaty, it has now become necessary to resort to the arbitration provided for in the article.
The International Fisheries Commission appointed pursuant to and under the authority of the Convention of April 11, 1908, between the United States and Great Britain, has completed a system of uniform and common international regulations for the protection and preservation of the food fishes in international boundary waters of the United States and Canada.
The regulations will be duly submitted to Congress with a view to the enactment of such legislation as will be necessary under the convention to put them into operation.
The Convention providing for the settlement of international differences between the United States and Canada, including the apportionment between the two countries of certain of the boundary waters and the appointment of commissioners to adjust certain other questions, signed on the 11th day of January, 1909, and to the ratification of which the Senate gave its advice and consent on March 3, 1909, has not yet been ratified on the part of Great Britain.
Commissioners have been appointed on the part of the United States to act jointly with Commissioners on the part of Canada in examining into the question of obstructions in the St. John River between Maine and New Brunswick, and to make recommendations for the regulation of the uses thereof, and are now engaged in this work.
Negotiations for an international conference to consider and reach an arrangement providing for the preservation and protection of the fur seals in the North Pacific are in progress with the Governments of Great Britain, Japan, and Russia. The attitude of the Governments interested leads me to hope for a satisfactory settlement of this question as the ultimate outcome of the negotiations.
The Second Peace Conference recently held at The Hague adopted a convention for the establishment of an International Prize Court upon the joint proposal of delegations of the United States, France, Germany and Great Britain. The law to be observed by the Tribunal in the decision of prize cases was, however, left in an uncertain and therefore unsatisfactory state. Article 7 of the Convention provided that the Court was to be governed by the provisions of treaties existing between the belligerents, but that "in the absence of such provisions, the court shall apply the rules of international law. If no generally recognized rule exists, the court shall give judgment in accordance with the general principles of justice and equity." As, however, many questions in international maritime law are understood differently and therefore interpreted differently in various countries, it was deemed advisable not to intrust legislative powers to the proposed court, but to determine the rules of law properly applicable in a Conference of the representative maritime nations. Pursuant to an invitation of Great Britain a conference was held at London from December 2, 1908, to February 26, 1909, in which the following Powers participated: the United States, Austria-Hungary, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Russia and Spain. The conference resulted in the Declaration of London, unanimously agreed to and signed by the participating Powers, concerning among other matters, the highly important subjects of blockade, contraband, the destruction of neutral prizes, and continuous voyages. The declaration of London is an eminently satisfactory codification of the international maritime law, and it is hoped that its reasonableness and fairness will secure its general adoption, as well as remove one of the difficulties standing in the way of the establishment of an International Prize Court.
Under the authority given in the sundry civil appropriation act, approved March 4, 1909, the United States was represented at the International Conference on Maritime Law at Brussels. The Conference met on the 28th of September last and resulted in the signature ad referendum of a convention for the unification of certain regulations with regard to maritime assistance and salvage and a convention for the unification of certain rules with regard to collisions at sea. Two new projects of conventions which have not heretofore been considered in a diplomatic conference, namely, one concerning the limitation of the responsibility of shipowners, and the other concerning marine mortgages and privileges, have been submitted by the Conference to the different governments.
The Conference adjourned to meet again on April 11, 1910.
The International Conference for the purpose of promoting uniform legislation concerning letters of exchange, which was called by the Government of the Netherlands to meet at The Hague in September, 1909, has been postponed to meet at that capital in June, 1910. The United States will be appropriately represented in this Conference under the provision therefor already made by Congress.
The cordial invitation of Belgium to be represented by a fitting display of American progress in the useful arts and inventions at the World's Fair to be held at Brussels in 1910 remains to be acted upon by the Congress. Mindful of the advantages to accrue to our artisans and producers in competition with their Continental rivals, I renew the recommendation heretofore made that provision be made for acceptance of the invitation and adequate representation in the Exposition. The question arising out of the Belgian annexation of the Independent State of the Congo, which has so long and earnestly preoccupied the attention of this Government and enlisted the sympathy of our best citizens, is still open, but in a more hopeful stage. This Government was among the foremost in the great work of uplifting the uncivilized regions of Africa and urging the extension of the benefits of civilization, education, and fruitful open commerce to that vast domain, and is a party to treaty engagements of all the interested powers designed to carry out that great duty to humanity. The way to better the original and adventitious conditions, so burdensome to the natives and so destructive to their development, has been pointed out, by observation and experience, not alone of American representatives, but by cumulative evidence from all quarters and by the investigations of Belgian Agents. The announced programmes of reforms, striking at many of the evils known to exist, are an augury of better things. The attitude of the United States is one of benevolent encouragement, coupled with a hopeful trust that the good work, responsibly undertaken and zealously perfected to the accomplishment of the results so ardently desired, will soon justify the wisdom that inspires them and satisfy the demands of humane sentiment throughout the world.
A convention between the United States and Germany, under which the nonworking provisions of the German patent law are made inapplicable to the patents of American citizens, was concluded on February 23, 1909, and is now in force. Negotiations for similar conventions looking to the placing of American inventors on the same footing as nationals have recently been initiated with other European governments whose laws require the local working of foreign patents.
Under an appropriation made at the last session of the Congress, a commission was sent on American cruisers to Monrovia to investigate the interests of the United States and its citizens in Liberia. Upon its arrival at Monrovia the commission was enthusiastically received, and during its stay in Liberia was everywhere met with the heartiest expressions of good will for the American Government and people and the hope was repeatedly expressed on all sides that this Government might see its way clear to do something to relieve the critical position of the Republic arising in a measure from external as well as internal and financial embarrassments. The Liberian Government afforded every facility to the Commission for ascertaining the true state of affairs. The Commission also had conferences with representative citizens, interested foreigners and the representatives of foreign governments in Monrovia. Visits were made to various parts of the Republic and to the neighboring British colony of Sierra Leone, where the Commission was received by and conferred with the Governor.
It will be remembered that the interest of the United States in the Republic of Liberia springs from the historical fact of the foundation of the Republic by the colonization of American citizens of the African race. In an early treaty with Liberia there is a provision under which the United States may be called upon for advice or assistance. Pursuant to this provision and in the spirit of the moral relationship of the United States to Liberia, that Republic last year asked this Government to lend assistance in the solution of certain of their national problems, and hence the Commission was sent.
The report of our commissioners has just been completed and is now under examination by the Department of State. It is hoped that there may result some helpful measures, in which case it may be my duty again to invite your attention to this subject.
The Norwegian Government, by a note addressed on January 26, 1909, to the Department of State, conveyed an invitation to the Government of the United States to take part in a conference which it is understood will be held in February or March, 1910, for the purpose of devising means to remedy existing conditions in the Spitzbergen Islands.
This invitation was conveyed under the reservation that the question of altering the status of the islands as countries belonging to no particular State, and as equally open to the citizens and subjects of all States, should not be raised.
The European Powers invited to this Conference by the Government of Norway were Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Russia, Sweden and the Netherlands.
The Department of State, in view of proofs filed with it in 1906, showing the American possession, occupation, and working of certain coal-bearing lands in Spitzbergen, accepted the invitation under the reservation above stated, and under the further reservation that all interests in those islands already vested should be protected and that there should be equality of opportunity for the future. It was further pointed out that membership in the Conference on the part of the United States was qualified by the consideration that this Government would not become a signatory to any conventional arrangement concluded by the European members of the Conference which would imply contributory participation by the United States in any obligation or responsibility for the enforcement of any scheme of administration which might be devised by the Conference for the islands.
THE NEAR EAST.
His Majesty Mehmed V, Sultan of Turkey, recently sent to this country a special embassy to announce his accession. The quick transition of the Government of the Ottoman Empire from one of retrograde tendencies to a constitutional government with a Parliament and with progressive modern policies of reform and public improvement is one of the important phenomena of our times. Constitutional government seems also to have made further advance in Persia. These events have turned the eyes of the world upon the Near East. In that quarter the prestige of the United States has spread widely through the peaceful influence of American schools, universities and missionaries. There is every reason why we should obtain a greater share of the commerce of the Near East since the conditions are more favorable now than ever before.
One of the happiest events in recent Pan-American diplomacy was the pacific, independent settlement by the Governments of Bolivia and Peru of a boundary difference between them, which for some weeks threatened to cause war and even to entrain embitterments affecting other republics less directly concerned. From various quarters, directly or indirectly concerned, the intermediation of the United States was sought to assist in a solution of the controversy. Desiring at all times to abstain from any undue mingling in the affairs of sister republics and having faith in the ability of the Governments of Peru and Bolivia themselves to settle their differences in a manner satisfactory to themselves which, viewed with magnanimity, would assuage all embitterment, this Government steadily abstained from being drawn into the controversy and was much gratified to find its confidence justified by events.
On the 9th of July next there will open at Buenos Aires the Fourth Pan-American Conference. This conference will have a special meaning to the hearts of all Americans, because around its date are clustered the anniversaries of the independence of so many of the American republics. It is not necessary for me to remind the Congress of the political, social and commercial importance of these gatherings. You are asked to make liberal appropriation for our participation. If this be granted, it is my purpose to appoint a distinguished and representative delegation, qualified fittingly to represent this country and to deal with the problems of intercontinental interest which will there be discussed.
The Argentine Republic will also hold from May to November, 1910, at Buenos Aires, a great International Agricultural Exhibition in which the United States has been invited to participate. Considering the rapid growth of the trade of the United States with the Argentine Republic and the cordial relations existing between the two nations, together with the fact that it provides an opportunity to show deference to a sister republic on the occasion of the celebration of its national independence, the proper Departments of this Government are taking steps to apprise the interests concerned of the opportunity afforded by this Exhibition, in which appropriate participation by this country is so desirable. The designation of an official representative is also receiving consideration.
To-day, more than ever before, American capital is seeking investment in foreign countries, and American products are more and more generally seeking foreign markets. As a consequence, in all countries there are American citizens and American interests to be protected, on occasion, by their Government. These movements of men, of capital, and of commodities bring peoples and governments closer together and so form bonds of peace and mutual dependency, as they must also naturally sometimes make passing points of friction. The resultant situation inevitably imposes upon this Government vastly increased responsibilities. This Administration, through the Department of State and the foreign service, is lending all proper support to legitimate and beneficial American enterprises in foreign countries, the degree of such support being measured by the national advantages to be expected. A citizen himself can not by contract or otherwise divest himself of the right, nor can this Government escape the obligation, of his protection in his personal and property rights when these are unjustly infringed in a foreign country. To avoid ceaseless vexations it is proper that in considering whether American enterprise should be encouraged or supported in a particular country, the Government should give full weight not only to the national, as opposed to the individual benefits to accrue, but also to the fact whether or not the Government of the country in question is in its administration and in its diplomacy faithful to the principles of moderation, equity and justice upon which alone depend international credit, in diplomacy as well as in finance.
The Pan-American policy of this Government has long been fixed in its principles and remains unchanged. With the changed circumstances of the United States and of the Republics to the south of us, most of which have great natural resources, stable government and progressive ideals, the apprehension which gave rise to the Monroe Doctrine may be said to have nearly disappeared, and neither the doctrine as it exists nor any other doctrine of American policy should be permitted to operate for the perpetuation of irresponsible government, the escape of just obligations, or the insidious allegation of dominating ambitions on the part of the United States.
Beside the fundamental doctrines of our Pan-American policy there have grown up a realization of political interests, community of institutions and ideals, and a flourishing commerce. All these bonds will be greatly strengthened as time goes on and increased facilities, such as the great bank soon to be established in Latin America, supply the means for building up the colossal intercontinental commerce of the future.
My meeting with President Diaz and the greeting exchanged on both American and Mexican soil served, I hope, to signalize the close and cordial relations which so well bind together this Republic and the great Republic immediately to the south, between which there is so vast a network of material interests.
I am happy to say that all but one of the cases which for so long vexed our relations with Venezuela have been settled within the past few months and that, under the enlightened regime now directing the Government of Venezuela, provision has been made for arbitration of the remaining case before The Hague Tribunal. On July 30, 1909, the Government of Panama agreed, after considerable negotiation, to indemnify the relatives of the American officers and sailors who were brutally treated, one of them having, indeed, been killed by the Panaman police this year.
The sincere desire of the Government of Panama to do away with a situation where such an accident could occur is manifest in the recent request in compliance with which this Government has lent the services of an officer of the Army to be employed by the Government of Panama as Instructor of Police.
The sanitary improvements and public works undertaken in Cuba prior to the present administration of that Government, in the success of which the United States is interested under the treaty, are reported to be making good progress and since the Congress provided for the continuance of the reciprocal commercial arrangement between Cuba and the United States assurance has been received that no negotiations injuriously affecting the situation will be undertaken without consultation. The collection of the customs of the Dominican Republic through the general receiver of customs appointed by the President of the United States in accordance with the convention of February 8, 1907, has proceeded in an uneventful and satisfactory manner. The customs receipts have decreased owing to disturbed political and economic conditions and to a very natural curtailment of imports in view of the anticipated revision of the Dominican tariff schedule. The payments to the fiscal agency fund for the service of the bonded debt of the Republic, as provided by the convention, have been regularly and promptly made, and satisfactory progress has been made in carrying out the provisions of the convention looking towards the completion of the adjustment of the debt and the acquirement by the Dominican Government of certain concessions and monopolies which have been a burden to the commerce of the country. In short, the receivership has demonstrated its ability, even under unfavorable economic and political conditions, to do the work for which it was intended.
This Government was obliged to intervene diplomatically to bring about arbitration or settlement of the claim of the Emery Company against Nicaragua, which it had long before been agreed should be arbitrated. A settlement of this troublesome case was reached by the signature of a protocol on September 18, 1909.
Many years ago diplomatic intervention became necessary to the protection of the interests in the American claim of Alsop and Company against the Government of Chile. The Government of Chile had frequently admitted obligation in the case and had promised this Government to settle. There had been two abortive attempts to do so through arbitral commissions, which failed through lack of jurisdiction. Now, happily, as the result of the recent diplomatic negotiations, the Governments of the United States and of Chile, actuated by the sincere desire to free from any strain those cordial and friendly relations upon which both set such store, have agreed by a protocol to submit the controversy to definitive settlement by His Britannic Majesty, Edward VII.
Since the Washington Conventions of 1907 were communicated to the Government of the United States as a consulting and advising party, this Government has been almost continuously called upon by one or another, and in turn by all the five Central American Republics, to exert itself for the maintenance of the Conventions. Nearly every complaint has been against the Zelaya Government of Nicaragua, which has kept Central America in constant tension or turmoil. The responses made to the representations of Central American Republics, as due from the United States on account of its relation to the Washington Conventions, have been at all times conservative and have avoided, so far as possible, any semblance of interference, although it is very apparent that the considerations of geographic proximity to the Canal Zone and of the very substantial American interests in Central America give to the United States a special position in the zone of these Republics and the Caribbean Sea.
I need not rehearse here the patient efforts of this Government to promote peace and welfare among these Republics, efforts which are fully appreciated by the majority of them who are loyal to their true interests. It would be no less unnecessary to rehearse here the sad tale of unspeakable barbarities and oppression alleged to have been committed by the Zelaya Government. Recently two Americans were put to death by order of President Zelaya himself. They were reported to have been regularly commissioned officers in the organized forces of a revolution which had continued many weeks and was in control of about half of the Republic, and as such, according to the modern enlightened practice of civilized nations, they were entitled to be dealt with as prisoners of war.
At the date when this message is printed this Government has terminated diplomatic relations with the Zelaya Government, for reasons made public in a communication to the former Nicaraguan charge' d'affaires, and is intending to take such future steps as may be found most consistent with its dignity, its duty to American interests, and its moral obligations to Central America and to civilization. It may later be necessary for me to bring this subject to the attention of the Congress in a special message.
The International Bureau of American Republics has carried on an important and increasing work during the last year. In the exercise of its peculiar functions as an international agency, maintained by all the American Republics for the development of Pan-American commerce and friendship, it has accomplished a great practical good which could be done in the same way by no individual department or bureau of one government, and is therefore deserving of your liberal support. The fact that it is about to enter a new building, erected through the munificence of an American philanthropist and the contributions of all the American nations, where both its efficiency of administration and expense of maintenance will naturally be much augmented, further entitles it to special consideration.
THE FAR EAST.
In the Far East this Government preserves unchanged its policy of supporting the principle of equality of opportunity and scrupulous respect for the integrity of the Chinese Empire, to which policy are pledged the interested Powers of both East and West.
By the Treaty of 1903 China has undertaken the abolition of likin with a moderate and proportionate raising of the customs tariff along with currency reform. These reforms being of manifest advantage to foreign commerce as well as to the interests of China, this Government is endeavoring to facilitate these measures and the needful acquiescence of the treaty Powers. When it appeared that Chinese likin revenues were to be hypothecated to foreign bankers in connection with a great railway project, it was obvious that the Governments whose nationals held this loan would have a certain direct interest in the question of the carrying out by China of the reforms in question. Because this railroad loan represented a practical and real application of the open door policy through cooperation with China by interested Powers as well as because of its relations to the reforms referred to above, the Administration deemed American participation to be of great national interest. Happily, when it was as a matter of broad policy urgent that this opportunity should not be lost, the indispensable instrumentality presented itself when a group of American bankers, of international reputation and great resources, agreed at once to share in the loan upon precisely such terms as this Government should approve. The chief of those terms was that American railway material should be upon an exact equality with that of the other nationals joining in the loan in the placing of orders for this whole railroad system. After months of negotiation the equal participation of Americans seems at last assured. It is gratifying that Americans will thus take their share in this extension of these great highways of trade, and to believe that such activities will give a real impetus to our commerce and will prove a practical corollary to our historic policy in the Far East.
The Imperial Chinese Government in pursuance of its decision to devote funds from the portion of the indemnity remitted by the United States to the sending of students to this country has already completed arrangements for carrying out this purpose, and a considerable body of students have arrived to take up their work in our schools and universities. No one can doubt the happy effect that the associations formed by these representative young men will have when they return to take up their work in the progressive development of their country.
The results of the Opium Conference held at Shanghai last spring at the invitation of the United States have been laid before the Government. The report shows that China is making remarkable progress and admirable efforts toward the eradication of the opium evil and that the Governments concerned have not allowed their commercial interests to interfere with a helpful cooperation in this reform. Collateral investigations of the opium question in this country lead me to recommend that the manufacture, sale and use of opium and its derivatives in the United States should be so far as possible more rigorously controlled by legislation.
In one of the Chinese-Japanese Conventions of September 4 of this year there was a provision which caused considerable public apprehension in that upon its face it was believed in some quarters to seek to establish a monopoly of mining privileges along the South Manchurian and Antung-Mukden Railroads, and thus to exclude Americans from a wide field of enterprise, to take part in which they were by treaty with China entitled. After a thorough examination of the Conventions and of the several contextual documents, the Secretary of State reached the conclusion that no such monopoly was intended or accomplished. However, in view of the widespread discussion of this question, to confirm the view it had reached, this Government made inquiry of the Imperial Chinese and Japanese Governments and received from each official assurance that the provision had no purpose inconsistent with the policy of equality of opportunity to which the signatories, in common with the United States, are pledged.
Our traditional relations with the Japanese Empire continue cordial as usual. As the representative of Japan, His Imperial Highness Prince Kuni visited the Hudson-Fulton Celebration. The recent visit of a delegation of prominent business men as guests of the chambers of commerce of the Pacific slope, whose representatives had been so agreeably received in Japan, will doubtless contribute to the growing trade across the Pacific, as well as to that mutual understanding which leads to mutual appreciation. The arrangement of 1908 for a cooperative control of the coming of laborers to the United States has proved to work satisfactorily. The matter of a revision of the existing treaty between the United States and Japan which is terminable in 1912 is already receiving the study of both countries.
The Department of State is considering the revision in whole or in part, of the existing treaty with Siam, which was concluded in 1856, and is now, in respect to many of its provisions, out of date.
THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE.
I earnestly recommend to the favorable action of the Congress the estimates submitted by the Department of State and most especially the legislation suggested in the Secretary of State's letter of this date whereby it will be possible to develop and make permanent the reorganization of the Department upon modern lines in a manner to make it a thoroughly efficient instrument in the furtherance of our foreign trade and of American interests abroad. The plan to have Divisions of Latin-American and Far Eastern Affairs and to institute a certain specialization in business with Europe and the Near East will at once commend itself. These politico-geographical divisions and the detail from the diplomatic or consular service to the Department of a number of men, who bring to the study of complicated problems in different parts of the world practical knowledge recently gained on the spot, clearly is of the greatest advantage to the Secretary of State in foreseeing conditions likely to arise and in conducting the great variety of correspondence and negotiation. It should be remembered that such facilities exist in the foreign offices of all the leading commercial nations and that to deny them to the Secretary of State would be to place this Government at a great disadvantage in the rivalry of commercial competition.
The consular service has been greatly improved under the law of April 5, 1906, and the Executive Order of June 27, 1906, and I commend to your consideration the question of embodying in a statute the principles of the present Executive Order upon which the efficiency of our consular service is wholly dependent.
In modern times political and commercial interests are interrelated, and in the negotiation of commercial treaties, conventions and tariff agreements, the keeping open of opportunities and the proper support of American enterprises, our diplomatic service is quite as important as the consular service to the business interests of the country. Impressed with this idea and convinced that selection after rigorous examination, promotion for merit solely and the experience only to be gained through the continuity of an organized service are indispensable to a high degree of efficiency in the diplomatic service, I have signed an Executive Order as the first step toward this very desirable result. Its effect should be to place all secretaries in the diplomatic service in much the same position as consular officers are now placed and to tend to the promotion of the most efficient to the grade of minister, generally leaving for outside appointments such posts of the grade of ambassador or minister as it may be expedient to fill from without the service. It is proposed also to continue the practice instituted last summer of giving to all newly appointed secretaries at least one month's thorough training in the Department of State before they proceed to their posts. This has been done for some time in regard to the consular service with excellent results.
Under a provision of the Act of August 5, 1909, I have appointed three officials to assist the officers of the Government in collecting information necessary to a wise administration of the tariff act of August 5, 1909. As to questions of customs administration they are cooperating with the officials of the Treasury Department and as to matters of the needs and the exigencies of our manufacturers and exporters, with the Department of Commerce and Labor, in its relation to the domestic aspect of the subject of foreign commerce. In the study of foreign tariff treatment they will assist the Bureau of Trade Relations of the Department of State. It is hoped thus to coordinate and bring to bear upon this most important subject all the agencies of the Government which can contribute anything to its efficient handling.
As a consequence of Section 2 of the tariff act of August 5, 1909, it becomes the duty of the Secretary of State to conduct as diplomatic business all the negotiations necessary to place him in a position to advise me as to whether or not a particular country unduly discriminates against the United States in the sense of the statute referred to. The great scope and complexity of this work, as well as the obligation to lend all proper aid to our expanding commerce, is met by the expansion of the Bureau of Trade Relations as set forth in the estimates for the Department of State.
I have thus in some detail described the important transactions of the State Department since the beginning of this Administration for the reason that there is no provision either by statute or custom for a formal report by the Secretary of State to the President or to Congress, and a Presidential message is the only means by which the condition of our foreign relations is brought to the attention of Congress and the public.
In dealing with the affairs of the other Departments, the heads of which all submit annual reports, I shall touch only those matters that seem to me to call for special mention on my part without minimizing in any way the recommendations made by them for legislation affecting their respective Departments, in all of which I wish to express my general concurrence.
GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURES AND REVENUES.
Perhaps the most important question presented to this Administration is that of economy in expenditures and sufficiency of revenue. The deficit of the last fiscal year, and the certain deficit of the current year, prompted Congress to throw a greater responsibility on the Executive and the Secretary of the Treasury than had heretofore been declared by statute. This declaration imposes upon the Secretary of the Treasury the duty of assembling all the estimates of the Executive Departments, bureaus, and offices, of the expenditures necessary in the ensuing fiscal year, and of making an estimate of the revenues of the Government for the same period; and if a probable deficit is thus shown, it is made the duty of the President to recommend the method by which such deficit can be met.
The report of the Secretary shows that the ordinary expenditures for the current fiscal year ending June 30, 1910, will exceed the estimated receipts by $34,075,620. If to this deficit is added the sum to be disbursed for the Panama Canal, amounting to $38,000,000, and $1,000,000 to be paid on the public debt, the deficit of ordinary receipts and expenditures will be increased to a total deficit of $73,075,620. This deficit the Secretary proposes to meet by the proceeds of bonds issued to pay the cost of constructing the Panama Canal. I approve this proposal.
The policy of paying for the construction of the Panama Canal, not out of current revenue, but by bond issues, was adopted in the Spooner Act of 1902, and there seems to be no good reason for departing from the principle by which a part at least of the burden of the cost of the canal shall fall upon our posterity who are to enjoy it; and there is all the more reason for this view because the actual cost to date of the canal, which is now half done and which will be completed January 1, 1915, shows that the cost of engineering and construction will be $297,766,000, instead of $139,705,200, as originally estimated. In addition to engineering and construction, the other expenses, including sanitation and government, and the amount paid for the properties, the franchise, and the privilege of building the canal, increase the cost by $75,435,000, to a total of $375,201,000. The increase in the cost of engineering and construction is due to a substantial enlargement of the plan of construction by widening the canal 100 feet in the Culebra cut and by increasing the dimensions of the locks, to the underestimate of the quantity of the work to be done under the original plan, and to an underestimate of the cost of labor and materials both of which have greatly enhanced in price since the original estimate was made.
In order to avoid a deficit for the ensuing fiscal year, I directed the heads of Departments in the preparation of their estimates to make them as low as possible consistent with imperative governmental necessity. The result has been, as I am advised by the Secretary of the Treasury, that the estimates for the expenses of the Government for the next fiscal year ending June 30, 1911, are less than the appropriations for this current fiscal year by $42,818,000. So far as the Secretary of the Treasury is able to form a judgment as to future income, and compare it with the expenditures for the next fiscal year ending June 30, 1911, and excluding payments on account of the Panama Canal, which will doubtless be taken up by bonds, there will be a surplus of $35,931,000.
In the present estimates the needs of the Departments and of the Government have been cut to the quick, so to speak, and any assumption on the part of Congress, so often made in times past, that the estimates have been prepared with the expectation that they may be reduced, will result in seriously hampering proper administration.
The Secretary of the Treasury points out what should be carefully noted in respect to this reduction in governmental expenses for the next fiscal year, that the economies are of two kinds--first, there is a saving in the permanent administration of the Departments, bureaus, and offices of the Government; and, second, there is a present reduction in expenses by a postponement of projects and improvements that ultimately will have to be carried out but which are now delayed with the hope that additional revenue in the future will permit their execution without producing a deficit.
It has been impossible in the preparation of estimates greatly to reduce the cost of permanent administration. This can not be done without a thorough reorganization of bureaus, offices, and departments. For the purpose of securing information which may enable the executive and the legislative branches to unite in a plan for the permanent reduction of the cost of governmental administration, the Treasury Department has instituted an investigation by one of the most skilled expert accountants in the United States. The result of his work in two or three bureaus, which, if extended to the entire Government, must occupy two or more years, has been to show much room for improvement and opportunity for substantial reductions in the cost and increased efficiency of administration. The object of the investigation is to devise means to increase the average efficiency of each employee. There is great room for improvement toward this end, not only by the reorganization of bureaus and departments and in the avoidance of duplication, but also in the treatment of the individual employee.
Under the present system it constantly happens that two employees receive the same salary when the work of one is far more difficult and important and exacting than that of the other. Superior ability is not rewarded or encouraged. As the classification is now entirely by salary, an employee often rises to the highest class while doing the easiest work, for which alone he may be fitted. An investigation ordered by my predecessor resulted in the recommendation that the civil service he reclassified according to the kind of work, so that the work requiring most application and knowledge and ability shall receive most compensation. I believe such a change would be fairer to the whole force and would permanently improve the personnel of the service.
More than this, every reform directed toward the improvement in the average efficiency of government employees must depend on the ability of the Executive to eliminate from the government service those who are inefficient from any cause, and as the degree of efficiency in all the Departments is much lessened by the retention of old employees who have outlived their energy and usefulness, it is indispensable to any proper system of economy that provision be made so that their separation from the service shall be easy and inevitable. It is impossible to make such provision unless there is adopted a plan of civil pensions. Most of the great industrial organizations, and many of the well-conducted railways of this country, are coming to the conclusion that a system of pensions for old employees, and the substitution therefor of younger and more energetic servants, promotes both economy and efficiency of administration.
I am aware that there is a strong feeling in both Houses of Congress, and possibly in the country, against the establishment of civil pensions, and that this has naturally grown out of the heavy burden of military pensions, which it has always been the policy of our Government to assume; but I am strongly convinced that no other practical solution of the difficulties presented by the superannuation of civil servants can be found than that of a system of civil pensions.
The business and expenditures of the Government have expanded enormously since the Spanish war, but as the revenues have increased in nearly the same proportion as the expenditures until recently, the attention of the public, and of those responsible for the Government, has not been fastened upon the question of reducing the cost of administration. We can not, in view of the advancing prices of living, hope to save money by a reduction in the standard of salaries paid. Indeed, if any change is made in that regard, an increase rather than a decrease will be necessary; and the only means of economy will be in reducing the number of employees and in obtaining a greater average of efficiency from those retained in the service.
Close investigation and study needed to make definite recommendations in this regard will consume at least two years. I note with much satisfaction the organization in the Senate of a Committee on Public Expenditures, charged with the duty of conducting such an investigation, and I tender to that committee all the assistance which the executive branch of the Government can possibly render.
FRAUDS IN THE COLLECTION OF CUSTOMS.
I regret to refer to the fact of the discovery of extensive frauds in the collections of the customs revenue at New York City, in which a number of the subordinate employees in the weighing and other departments were directly concerned, and in which the beneficiaries were the American Sugar Refining Company and others. The frauds consisted in the payment of duty on underweights of sugar. The Government has recovered from the American Sugar Refining Company all that it is shown to have been defrauded of. The sum was received in full of the amount due, which might have been recovered by civil suit against the beneficiary of the fraud, but there was an express reservation in the contract of settlement by which the settlement should not interfere with, or prevent the criminal prosecution of everyone who was found to be subject to the same.
Criminal prosecutions are now proceeding against a number of the Government officers. The Treasury Department and the Department of Justice are exerting every effort to discover all the wrongdoers, including the officers and employees of the companies who may have been privy to the fraud. It would seem to me that an investigation of the frauds by Congress at present, pending the probing by the Treasury Department and the Department of Justice, as proposed, might by giving immunity and otherwise prove an embarrassment in securing conviction of the guilty parties.
MAXIMUM AND MINIMUM CLAUSE IN TARIFF ACT.
Two features of the new tariff act call for special reference. By virtue of the clause known as the "Maximum and Minimum" clause, it is the duty of the Executive to consider the laws and practices of other countries with reference to the importation into those countries of the products and merchandise of the United States, and if the Executive finds such laws and practices not to be unduly discriminatory against the United States, the minimum duties provided in the bill are to go into force.
Unless the President makes such a finding, then the maximum duties provided in the bill, that is, an increase of twenty-five per cent. ad valorem over the minimum duties, are to be in force. Fear has been expressed that this power conferred and duty imposed on the Executive is likely to lead to a tariff war. I beg to express the hope and belief that no such result need be anticipated.
The discretion granted to the Executive by the terms "unduly discriminatory" is wide. In order that the maximum duty shall be charged against the imports from a country, it is necessary that he shall find on the part of that country not only discriminations in its laws or the practice under them against the trade of the United States, but that the discriminations found shall be undue; that is, without good and fair reason. I conceive that this power was reposed in the President with the hope that the maximum duties might never be applied in any case, but that the power to apply them would enable the President and the State Department through friendly negotiation to secure the elimination from the laws and the practice under them of any foreign country of that which is unduly discriminatory. No one is seeking a tariff war or a condition in which the spirit of retaliation shall be aroused.
USES OF THE NEW TARIFF BOARD.
The new tariff law enables me to appoint a tariff board to assist me in connection with the Department of State in the administration of the minimum and maximum clause of the act and also to assist officers of the Government in the administration of the entire law. An examination of the law and an understanding of the nature of the facts which should be considered in discharging the functions imposed upon the Executive show that I have the power to direct the tariff board to make a comprehensive glossary and encyclopedia of the terms used and articles embraced in the tariff law, and to secure information as to the cost of production of such goods in this country and the cost of their production in foreign countries. I have therefore appointed a tariff board consisting of three members and have directed them to perform all the duties above described. This work will perhaps take two or three years, and I ask from Congress a continuing annual appropriation equal to that already made for its prosecution. I believe that the work of this board will be of prime utility and importance whenever Congress shall deem it wise again to readjust the customs duties. If the facts secured by the tariff board are of such a character as to show generally that the rates of duties imposed by the present tariff law are excessive under the principles of protection as described in the platform of the successful party at the late election, I shall not hesitate to invite the attention of Congress to this fact and to the necessity for action predicated thereon. Nothing, however, halts business and interferes with the course of prosperity so much as the threatened revision of the tariff, and until the facts are at hand, after careful and deliberate investigation, upon which such revision can properly be undertaken, it seems to me unwise to attempt it. The amount of misinformation that creeps into arguments pro and con in respect to tariff rates is such as to require the kind of investigation that I have directed the tariff board to make, an investigation undertaken by it wholly without respect to the effect which the facts may have in calling for a readjustment of the rates of duty.
In the interest of immediate economy and because of the prospect of a deficit, I have required a reduction in the estimates of the War Department for the coming fiscal year, which brings the total estimates down to an amount forty-five millions less than the corresponding estimates for last year. This could only be accomplished by cutting off new projects and suspending for the period of one year all progress in military matters. For the same reason I have directed that the Army shall not be recruited up to its present authorized strength. These measures can hardly be more than temporary--to last until our revenues are in better condition and until the whole question of the expediency of adopting a definite military policy can be submitted to Congress, for I am sure that the interests of the military establishment are seriously in need of careful consideration by Congress. The laws regulating the organization of our armed forces in the event of war need to be revised in order that the organization can be modified so as to produce a force which would be more consistently apportioned throughout its numerous branches. To explain the circumstances upon which this opinion is based would necessitate a lengthy discussion, and I postpone it until the first convenient opportunity shall arise to send to Congress a special message upon this subject.
The Secretary of War calls attention to a number of needed changes in the Army in all of which I concur, but the point upon which I place most emphasis is the need for an elimination bill providing a method by which the merits of officers shall have some effect upon their advancement and by which the advancement of all may be accelerated by the effective elimination of a definite proportion of the least efficient. There are in every army, and certainly in ours, a number of officers who do not violate their duty in any such way as to give reason for a court-martial or dismissal, but who do not show such aptitude and skill and character for high command as to justify their remaining in the active service to be Promoted. Provision should be made by which they may be retired on a certain proportion of their pay, increasing with their length of service at the time of retirement. There is now a personnel law for the Navy which itself needs amendment and to which I shall make further reference. Such a law is needed quite as much for the Army.
The coast defenses of the United States proper are generally all that could be desired, and in some respects they are rather more elaborate than under present conditions are needed to stop an enemy's fleet from entering the harbors defended. There is, however, one place where additional defense is badly needed, and that is at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay, where it is proposed to make an artificial island for a fort which shall prevent an enemy's fleet from entering this most important strategical base of operations on the whole Atlantic and Gulf coasts. I hope that appropriate legislation will be adopted to secure the construction of this defense.
The military and naval joint board have unanimously agreed that it would be unwise to make the large expenditures which at one time were contemplated in the establishment of a naval base and station in the Philippine Islands, and have expressed their judgment, in which I fully concur, in favor of making an extensive naval base at Pearl Harbor, near Honolulu, and not in the Philippines. This does not dispense with the necessity for the comparatively small appropriations required to finish the proper coast defenses in the Philippines now under construction on the island of Corregidor and elsewhere or to complete a suitable repair station and coaling supply station at Olongapo, where is the floating dock "Dewey." I hope that this recommendation of the joint board will end the discussion as to the comparative merits of Manila Bay and Olongapo as naval stations, and will lead to prompt measures for the proper equipment and defense of Pearl Harbor.
The return of the battle-ship fleet from its voyage around the world, in more efficient condition than when it started, was a noteworthy event of interest alike to our citizens and the naval authorities of the world. Besides the beneficial and far-reaching effect on our personal and diplomatic relations in the countries which the fleet visited, the marked success of the ships in steaming around the world in all weathers on schedule time has increased respect for our Navy and has added to our national prestige.
Our enlisted personnel recruited from all sections of the country is young and energetic and representative of the national spirit. It is, moreover, owing to its intelligence, capable of quick training into the modern man-of-warsman. Our officers are earnest and zealous in their profession, but it is a regrettable fact that the higher officers are old for the responsibilities of the modern navy, and the admirals do not arrive at flag rank young enough to obtain adequate training in their duties as flag officers. This need for reform in the Navy has been ably and earnestly presented to Congress by my predecessor, and I also urgently recommend the subject for consideration.
Early in the coming session a comprehensive plan for the reorganization of the officers of all corps of the Navy will be presented to Congress, and I hope it will meet with action suited to its urgency.
Owing to the necessity for economy in expenditures, I have directed the curtailment of recommendations for naval appropriations so that they are thirty-eight millions less than the corresponding estimates of last year, and the request for new naval construction is limited to two first-class battle ships and one repair vessel.
The use of a navy is for military purposes, and there has been found need in the Department of a military branch dealing directly with the military use of the fleet. The Secretary of the Navy has also felt the lack of responsible advisers to aid him in reaching conclusions and deciding important matters between coordinate branches of the Department. To secure these results he has inaugurated a tentative plan involving certain changes in the organization of the Navy Department, including the navy-yards, all of which have been found by the Attorney-General to be in accordance with law. I have approved the execution of the plan proposed because of the greater efficiency and economy it promises.
The generosity of Congress has provided in the present Naval Observatory the most magnificent and expensive astronomical establishment in the world. It is being used for certain naval purposes which might easily and adequately be subserved by a small division connected with the Naval Department at only a fraction of the cost of the present Naval Observatory. The official Board of Visitors established by Congress and appointed in 1901 expressed its conclusion that the official head of the observatory should be an eminent astronomer appointed by the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, holding his place by a tenure at least as permanent as that of the Superintendent of the Coast Survey or the head of the Geological Survey, and not merely by a detail of two or three years' duration. I fully concur in this judgment, and urge a provision by law for the appointment of such a director.
It may not be necessary to take the observatory out of the Navy Department and put it into another department in which opportunity for scientific research afforded by the observatory would seem to be more appropriate, though I believe such a transfer in the long run is the best policy. I am sure, however, I express the desire of the astronomers and those learned in the kindred sciences when I urge upon Congress that the Naval Observatory be now dedicated to science under control of a man of science who can, if need be, render all the service to the Navy Department which this observatory now renders, and still furnish to the world the discoveries in astronomy that a great astronomer using such a plant would be likely to make.
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. EXPEDITION IN LEGAL PROCEDURE
The deplorable delays in the administration of civil and criminal law have received the attention of committees of the American Bar Association and of many State Bar Associations, as well as the considered thought of judges and jurists. In my judgment, a change in judicial procedure, with a view to reducing its expense to private litigants in civil cases and facilitating the dispatch of business and final decision in both civil and criminal cases, constitutes the greatest need in our American institutions. I do not doubt for one moment that much of the lawless violence and cruelty exhibited in lynchings is directly due to the uncertainties and injustice growing out of the delays in trials, judgments, and the executions thereof by our courts. Of course these remarks apply quite as well to the administration of justice in State courts as to that in Federal courts, and without making invidious distinction it is perhaps not too much to say that, speaking generally, the defects are less in the Federal courts than in the State courts. But they are very great in the Federal courts. The expedition with which business is disposed of both on the civil and the criminal side of English courts under modern rules of procedure makes the delays in our courts seem archaic and barbarous. The procedure in the Federal courts should furnish an example for the State courts. I presume it is impossible, without an amendment to the Constitution, to unite under one form of action the proceedings at common law and proceedings in equity in the Federal courts, but it is certainly not impossible by a statute to simplify and make short and direct the procedure both at law and in equity in those courts. It is not impossible to cut down still more than it is cut down, the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court so as to confine it almost wholly to statutory and constitutional questions. Under the present statutes the equity and admiralty procedure in the Federal courts is under the control of the Supreme Court, but in the pressure of business to which that court is subjected, it is impossible to hope that a radical and proper reform of the Federal equity procedure can be brought about. I therefore recommend legislation providing for the appointment by the President of a commission with authority to examine the law and equity procedure of the Federal courts of first instance, the law of appeals from those courts to the courts of appeals and to the Supreme Court, and the costs imposed in such procedure upon the private litigants and upon the public treasury and make recommendation with a view to simplifying and expediting the procedure as far as possible and making it as inexpensive as may be to the litigant of little means.
INJUNCTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE.
The platform of the successful party in the last election contained the following:
"The Republican party will uphold at all times the authority and integrity of the courts, State and Federal, and will ever insist that their powers to enforce their process and to protect life, liberty, and property shall be preserved inviolate. We believe, however, that the rules of procedure in the Federal courts with respect to the issuance of the writ of injunction should be more accurately defined by statute, and that no injunction or temporary restraining order should be issued without notice, except where irreparable injury would result from delay, in which case a speedy hearing thereafter should be granted."I recommend that in compliance with the promise thus made, appropriate legislation be adopted. The ends of justice will best be met and the chief cause of complaint against ill-considered injunctions without notice will be removed by the enactment of a statute forbidding hereafter the issuing of any injunction or restraining order, whether temporary or permanent, by any Federal court, without previous notice and a reasonable opportunity to he heard on behalf of the parties to be enjoined; unless it shall appear to the satisfaction of the court that the delay necessary to give such notice and hearing would result in irreparable injury to the complainant and unless also the court shall from the evidence make a written finding, which shall be spread upon the court minutes, that immediate and irreparable injury is likely to ensue to the complainant, and shall define the injury, state why it is irreparable, and shall also endorse on the order issued the date and the hour of the issuance of the order. Moreover, every such injunction or restraining order issued without previous notice and opportunity by the defendant to be heard should by force of the statute expire and be of no effect after seven days from the issuance thereof or within any time less than that period which the court may fix, unless within such seven days or such less period, the injunction or order is extended or renewed after previous notice and opportunity to be heard.
My judgment is that the passage of such an act which really embodies the best practice in equity and is very like the rule now in force in some courts will prevent the issuing of ill-advised orders of injunction without notice and will render such orders when issued much less objectionable by the short time in which they may remain effective.
ANTI-TRUST AND INTERSTATE COMMERCE LAWS.
The jurisdiction of the General Government over interstate commerce has led to the passage of the so-called "Sherman Anti-trust Law" and the "Interstate Commerce Law" and its amendments. The developments in the operation of those laws, as shown by indictments, trials, judicial decisions, and other sources of information, call for a discussion and some suggestions as to amendments. These I prefer to embody in a special message instead of including them in the present communication, and I shall avail myself of the first convenient opportunity to bring these subjects to the attention of Congress.
JAIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.
My predecessor transmitted to the Congress a special message on January 11, 1909, accompanying the report of Commissioners theretofore appointed to investigate the jail, workhouse, etc., in the District of Columbia, in which he directed attention to the report as setting forth vividly, "the really outrageous conditions in the workhouse and jail."
The Congress has taken action in pursuance of the recommendations of that report and of the President, to the extent of appropriating funds and enacting the necessary legislation for the establishment of a workhouse and reformatory. No action, however, has been taken by the Congress with respect to the jail, the conditions of which are still antiquated and insanitary. I earnestly recommend the passage of a sufficient appropriation to enable a thorough remodeling of that institution to be made without delay. It is a reproach to the National Government that almost under the shadow of the Capitol Dome prisoners should be confined in a building destitute of the ordinary decent appliances requisite to cleanliness and sanitary conditions.
POST-OFFICE DEPARTMENT. SECOND-CLASS MAIL MATTER.
The deficit every year in the Post-Office Department is largely caused by the low rate of postage of 1 cent a pound charged on second-class mail matter, which includes not only newspapers, but magazines and miscellaneous periodicals. The actual loss growing out of the transmission of this second-class mail matter at 1 cent a pound amounts to about $63,000,000 a year. The average cost of the transportation of this matter is more than 9 cents a pound.
It appears that the average distance over which newspapers are delivered to their customers is 291 miles, while the average haul of magazines is 1,049, and of miscellaneous periodicals 1,128 miles. Thus, the average haul of the magazine is three and one-half times and that of the miscellaneous periodical nearly four times the haul of the daily newspaper, yet all of them pay the same postage rate of 1 cent a pound. The statistics of 1907 show that second-class mail matter constituted 63.91 per cent. of the weight of all the mail, and yielded only 5.19 per cent. of the revenue.
The figures given are startling, and show the payment by the Government of an enormous subsidy to the newspapers, magazines, and periodicals, and Congress may well consider whether radical steps should not be taken to reduce the deficit in the Post-Office Department caused by this discrepancy between the actual cost of transportation and the compensation exacted therefor.
A great saving might be made, amounting to much more than half of the loss, by imposing upon magazines and periodicals a higher rate of postage. They are much heavier than newspapers, and contain a much higher proportion of advertising to reading matter, and the average distance of their transportation is three and a half times as great.
The total deficit for the last fiscal year in the Post-Office Department amounted to $17,500,000. The branches of its business which it did at a loss were the second-class mail service, in which the loss, as already said, was $63,000,000, and the free rural delivery, in which the loss was $28,000,000. These losses were in part offset by the profits of the letter postage and other sources of income. It would seem wise to reduce the loss upon second-class mail matter, at least to the extent of preventing a deficit in the total operations of the Post-Office.
I commend the whole subject to Congress, not unmindful of the spread of intelligence which a low charge for carrying newspapers and periodicals assists. I very much doubt, however, the wisdom of a policy which constitutes so large a subsidy and requires additional taxation to meet it.
POSTAL SAVINGS BANKS.
The second subject worthy of mention in the Post-Office Department is the real necessity and entire practicability of establishing postal savings banks. The successful party at the last election declared in favor of postal savings banks, and although the proposition finds opponents in many parts of the country, I am convinced that the people desire such banks, and am sure that when the banks are furnished they will be productive of the utmost good. The postal savings banks are not constituted for the purpose of creating competition with other banks. The rate of interest upon deposits to which they would be limited would be so small as to prevent their drawing deposits away from other banks.
I believe them to be necessary in order to offer a proper inducement to thrift and saving to a great many people of small means who do not now have banking facilities, and to whom such a system would offer an opportunity for the accumulation of capital. They will furnish a satisfactory substitute, based on sound principle and actual successful trial in nearly all the countries of the world, for the system of government guaranty of deposits now being adopted in several western States, which with deference to those who advocate it seems to me to have in it the seeds of demoralization to conservative banking and certain financial disaster. The question of how the money deposited in postal savings banks shall be invested is not free from difficulty, but I believe that a satisfactory provision for this purpose was inserted as an amendment to the bill considered by the Senate at its last session. It has been proposed to delay the consideration of legislation establishing a postal savings bank until after the report of the Monetary Commission. This report is likely to be delayed, and properly so, cause of the necessity for careful deliberation and close investigation. I do not see why the one should be tied up with the other. It is understood that the Monetary Commission have looked into the systems of banking which now prevail abroad, and have found that by a control there exercised in respect to reserves and the rates of exchange by some central authority panics are avoided. It is not apparent that a system of postal savings banks would in any way interfere with a change to such a system here. Certainly in most of the countries of Europe where control is thus exercised by a central authority, postal savings banks exist and are not thought to be inconsistent with a proper financial and banking system.
Following the course of my distinguished predecessor, I earnestly recommend to Congress the consideration and passage of a ship subsidy bill, looking to the establishment of lines between our Atlantic seaboard and the eastern coast of South America, as well as lines from the west coast of the United States to South America. China, Japan, and the Philippines. The profits on foreign mails are perhaps a sufficient measure of the expenditures which might first be tentatively applied to this method of inducing American capital to undertake the establishment of American lines of steamships in those directions in which we now feel it most important that we should have means of transportation controlled in the interest of the expansion of our trade. A bill of this character has once passed the House and more than once passed the Senate, and I hope that at this session a bill framed on the same lines and with the same purposes may become a law.
INTERIOR DEPARTMENT. NEW MEXICO AND ARIZONA.
The successful party in the last election in its national platform declared in favor of the admission as separate States of New Mexico and Arizona, and I recommend that legislation appropriate to this end be adopted. I urge, however, that care be exercised in the preparation of the legislation affecting each Territory to secure deliberation in the selection of persons as members of the convention to draft a constitution for the incoming State, and I earnestly advise that such constitution after adoption by the convention shall be submitted to the people of the Territory for their approval at an election in which the sole issue shall be the merits of the proposed constitution, and if the constitution is defeated by popular vote means shall be provided in the enabling act for a new convention and the drafting of a new constitution. I think it vital that the issue as to the merits of the constitution should not be mixed up with the selection of State officers, and that no election of State officers should be had until after the constitution has been fully approved and finally settled upon.
With respect to the Territory of Alaska, I recommend legislation which shall provide for the appointment by the President of a governor and also of an executive council, the members of which shall during their term of office reside in the Territory, and which shall have legislative powers sufficient to enable it to give to the Territory local laws adapted to its present growth. I strongly deprecate legislation looking to the election of a Territorial legislature in that vast district. The lack of permanence of residence of a large part of the present population and the small number of the people who either permanently or temporarily reside in the district as compared with its vast expanse and the variety of the interests that have to be subserved, make it altogether unfitting in my judgment to provide for a popular election of a legislative body. The present system is not adequate and does not furnish the character of local control that ought to be there. The only compromise it seems to me which may give needed local legislation and secure a conservative government is the one I propose.
CONSERVATION OF NATIONAL RESOURCES.
In several Departments there is presented the necessity for legislation looking to the further conservation of our national resources, and the subject is one of such importance as to require a more detailed and extended discussion than can be entered upon in this communication. For that reason I shall take an early opportunity to send a special message to Congress on the subject of the improvement of our waterways, upon the reclamation and irrigation of arid, semiarid, and swamp lands; upon the preservation of our forests and the reforesting of suitable areas; upon the reclassification of the public domain with a view of separating from agricultural settlement mineral, coal, and phosphate lands and sites belonging to the Government bordering on streams suitable for the utilization of water power.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE.
I commend to your careful consideration the report of the Secretary of Agriculture as showing the immense sphere of usefulness which that Department now fills and the wonderful addition to the wealth of the nation made by the farmers of this country in the crops of the current year.
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AND LABOR. THE LIGHT-HOUSE BOARD.
The Light-House Board now discharges its duties under the Department of Commerce and Labor. For upwards of forty years this Board has been constituted of military and naval officers and two or three men of science, with such an absence of a duly constituted executive head that it is marvelous what work has been accomplished. In the period of construction the energy and enthusiasm of all the members prevented the inherent defects of the system from interfering greatly with the beneficial work of the Board, but now that the work is chiefly confined to maintenance and repair, for which purpose the country is divided into sixteen districts, to which are assigned an engineer officer of the Army and an inspector of the Navy, each with a light-house tender and the needed plant for his work, it has become apparent by the frequent friction that arises, due to the absence of any central independent authority, that there must be a complete reorganization of the Board. I concede the advantage of keeping in the system the rigidity of discipline that the presence of naval and military officers in charge insures, but unless the presence of such officers in the Board can be made consistent with a responsible executive head that shall have proper authority, I recommend the transfer of control over the light-houses to a suitable civilian bureau. This is in accordance with the judgment of competent persons who are familiar with the workings of the present system. I am confident that a reorganization can be effected which shall avoid the recurrence of friction between members, instances of which have been officially brought to my attention, and that by such reorganization greater efficiency and a substantial reduction in the expense of operation can be brought about.
CONSOLIDATION OF BUREAUS.
I request Congressional authority to enable the Secretary of Commerce and Labor to unite the Bureaus of Manufactures and Statistics. This was recommended by a competent committee appointed in the previous administration for the purpose of suggesting changes in the interest of economy and efficiency, and is requested by the Secretary.
THE WHITE SLAVE TRADE.
I greatly regret to have to say that the investigations made in the Bureau of Immigration and other sources of information lead to the view that there is urgent necessity for additional legislation and greater executive activity to suppress the recruiting of the ranks of prostitutes from the streams of immigration into this country--an evil which, for want of a better name, has been called "The White Slave Trade." I believe it to be constitutional to forbid, under penalty, the transportation of persons for purposes of prostitution across national and state lines; and by appropriating a fund of $50,000 to be used by the Secretary of Commerce and Labor for the employment of special inspectors it will be possible to bring those responsible for this trade to indictment and conviction under a federal law.
BUREAU OF HEALTH
For a very considerable period a movement has been gathering strength, especially among the members of the medical profession, in favor of a concentration of the instruments of the National Government which have to do with the promotion of public health. In the nature of things, the Medical Department of the Army and the Medical Department of the Navy must be kept separate. But there seems to be no reason why all the other bureaus and offices in the General Government which have to do with the public health or subjects akin thereto should not be united in a bureau to be called the "Bureau of Public Health." This would necessitate the transfer of the Marine-Hospital Service to such a bureau. I am aware that there is wide field in respect to the public health committed to the States in which the Federal Government can not exercise jurisdiction, but we have seen in the Agricultural Department the expansion into widest usefulness of a department giving attention to agriculture when that subject is plainly one over which the States properly exercise direct jurisdiction. The opportunities offered for useful research and the spread of useful information in regard to the cultivation of the soil and the breeding of stock and the solution of many of the intricate problems in progressive agriculture have demonstrated the wisdom of establishing that department. Similar reasons, of equal force, can be given for the establishment of a bureau of health that shall not only exercise the police jurisdiction of the Federal Government respecting quarantine, but which shall also afford an opportunity for investigation and research by competent experts into questions of health affecting the whole country, or important sections thereof, questions which, in the absence of Federal governmental work, are not likely to be promptly solved.
CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION.
The work of the United States Civil Service Commission has been performed to the general satisfaction of the executive officers with whom the Commission has been brought into official communication. The volume of that work and its variety and extent have under new laws, such as the Census Act, and new Executive orders, greatly increased. The activities of the Commission required by the statutes have reached to every portion of the public domain.
The accommodations of the Commission are most inadequate for its needs. I call your attention to its request for increase in those accommodations as will appear from the annual report for this year.
I urgently recommend to Congress that a law be passed requiring that candidates in elections of Members of the House of Representatives, and committees in charge of their candidacy and campaign, file in a proper office of the United States Government a statement of the contributions received and of the expenditures incurred in the campaign for such elections and that similar legislation be enacted in respect to all other elections which are constitutionally within the control of Congress
FREEDMAN'S SAVINGS AND TRUST COMPANY.
Recommendations have been made by my predecessors that Congress appropriate a sufficient sum to pay the balance--about 38 per cent.--of the amounts due depositors in the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company. I renew this recommendation, and advise also that a proper limitation be prescribed fixing a period within which the claims may be presented, that assigned claims be not recognized, and that a limit be imposed on the amount of fees collectible for services in presenting such claims.
SEMI-CENTENNIAL OF NEGRO FREEDOM.
The year 1913 will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation granting freedom to the negroes. It seems fitting that this event should be properly celebrated. Already a movement has been started by prominent Negroes, encouraged by prominent white people and the press. The South especially is manifesting its interest in this movement.
It is suggested that a proper form of celebration would be an exposition to show the progress the Negroes have made, not only during their period of freedom, but also from the time of their coming to this country.
I heartily indorse this proposal, and request that the Executive be authorized to appoint a preliminary commission of not more than seven persons to consider carefully whether or not it is wise to hold such an exposition, and if so, to outline a plan for the enterprise. I further recommend that such preliminary commission serve without salary, except as to their actual expenses, and that an appropriation be made to meet such expenses.
I have thus, in a message compressed as much as the subjects will permit, referred to many of the legislative needs of the country, with the exceptions already noted. Speaking generally, the country is in a high state of prosperity. There is every reason to believe that we are on the eve of a substantial business expansion, and we have just garnered a harvest unexampled in the market value of our agricultural products. The high prices which such products bring mean great prosperity for the farming community, but on the other hand they mean a very considerably increased burden upon those classes in the community whose yearly compensation does not expand with the improvement in business and the general prosperity. Various reasons are given for the high prices. The proportionate increase in the output of gold, which to-day is the chief medium of exchange and is in some respects a measure of value, furnishes a substantial explanation of at least a part of the increase in prices. The increase in population and the more expensive mode of living of the people, which have not been accompanied by a proportionate increase in acreage production, may furnish a further reason. It is well to note that the increase in the cost of living is not confined to this country, but prevails the world over, and that those who would charge increases in prices to the existing protective tariff must meet the fact that the rise in prices has taken place almost wholly in those products of the factory and farm in respect to which there has been either no increase in the tariff or in many instances a very considerable reduction.
WILLIAM H. TAFT
|Citation: William Howard Taft: "First Annual Message", December 7, 1909. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=29550.|
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