Chester A. Arthur

Special Message

June 09, 1884

To the Senate and House of Representatives:

I transmit herewith, for the consideration of Congress, a letter and its accompanying estimate, submitted by the board charged with preparing a departmental exhibit for the World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition to be held at New Orleans, beginning December 1, 1884. This board was appointed by Executive order of May 13, 1884, and is composed of representatives of the several Executive Departments, the Department of Agriculture, and the Smithsonian Institution. It is charged with the important and responsible duty of making arrangements for a complete and harmonious collection of the articles and materials deemed desirable to place on exhibition, in illustration of the resources of the country, its methods of governmental administration, and its means of offense and defense.

The board submits an estimate calling for an appropriation of $588,000 to accomplish the desired end. That amount is distributed among the Departments as shown in the table. The War, Navy, and Interior Departments call for the largest share, representing as they do the national defenses by land and sea, the progress of naval architecture and ordnance, the geological survey and mineral wealth of the Territories, the treatment of the Indians, and the education of the masses, all of which admit of varied and instructive exhibits. The Smithsonian Institution, having under its general care the National Museum and the Fish Commission, is prepared to make a display second in interest to none of modern days. The remaining Departments can present instructive and interesting exhibits, which will attract popular attention and convey an idea of their extensively ramified duties and of the many points where they beneficially affect the life of the people as a nation and as individuals.

The exhibit of the Government at the Centennial Exhibition held at Philadelphia in 1876 was admitted to be one of the most attractive features of that great national undertaking and a valuable addition to it. From men of intelligence and scientific attainments, at home and abroad, it received the highest encomiums, showing the interest it awakened among those whose lives are given to the improvement of the social and material condition of the people.

The reproduction of such a display now on a more extensive plan is rendered possible by the advancement of science and invention during the eight years that have passed since the Philadelphia exhibit was collected.

The importance, purposes, and benefits of the New Orleans Exhibition are continental in their scope. Standing at the threshold of the almost unopened markets of Spanish and Portuguese America, New Orleans is a natural gateway to their trade, and the exhibition offers to the people of Mexico and Central and South America an adequate knowledge of our farming implements, metal manufactures, cotton and woolen goods, and the like necessities of existence, in respect to which those countries are either deficient or supplied to a limited extent. The breaking down of the barriers which still separate us from the Republics of America whose productions so entirely complement our own will aid greatly in removing the disparity of commercial intercourse under which less than 10 per cent of our exports go to American countries.

I trust that Congress will realize the urgency of this recommendation and make its appropriation immediately available, so that the board may lose no time in undertaking the extensive preparations necessary to spread a more intimate knowledge of our Government institutions and national resources among the people of our country and of neighboring states in a way to command the respect due it in the family of nations.


Chester A. Arthur, Special Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under



Simple Search of Our Archives