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Special Message

April 12, 1824

To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States:

The executive of Virginia having requested payment of the amount of interest paid by the State for moneys borrowed and paid by it for services rendered by the militia in the late war, and such claim not being allowable according to the uniform decisions of the accounting officers of the Government, I submit the subject to your consideration, with a report from the Secretary of War and all the documents connected with it.

The following are the circumstances on which this claim is rounded: From an early stage of the war the squadrons of the enemy entered occasionally the Chesapeake Bay, and, menacing its shores and those of the principal rivers emptying into it, subjected the neighboring militia to calls from the local authorities for the defense of the parts thus menaced. The pressure was most sensibly felt in 1814, after the attack on this city and its capture, when the invading force, retiring to its squadron, menaced alike Baltimore, Norfolk, and Richmond. The attack on this city had induced a call by the Department of War for large detachments of the militia of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, which, being collected in this quarter, and the enemy bearing, in the first instance, on Baltimore, were ordered to its defense. As early as the 31st of August notice was given by the Secretary of War to the governor of Virginia of the position of the enemy and of the danger to which Richmond as well as Norfolk and Baltimore were exposed, and he was also authorized and enjoined to be on his guard, prepared at every point and in every circumstance to meet and repel the invaders. This notice was repeated several times afterwards, until the enemy left the bay and moved to the south.

In the course of the war the State had augmented its taxes to meet the pressure, but the funds being still inadequate, it borrowed money to a considerable amount, which was applied to the payment of the militia for the services thus rendered. The calls which had been made, except for the brigades in this quarter and at Norfolk, being made by the State, the settlement with those corps and the payment for their services were made according to the rules and usage of the Department by the State and not by the United States. On the settlement by the State, after the peace, with the accounting officers of the Government the reimbursement of the interest which the State had paid on the sums thus borrowed and paid to the militia was claimed, but not allowed for the reason above stated. It is this claim which I now submit to the consideration of Congress.

It need scarcely be remarked that where a State advances money for the use of the General Government for a purpose authorized by it that the claim for the interest on the amount thus advanced, which has been paid by the State, is reasonable and just. The claim is the stronger under the circumstance which existed when those advances were made, it being at a period of great difficulty, when the United States were compelled to borrow very large sums for the prosecution of the war. Had the State not borrowed this money the militia, whose services have been recognized since by the nation, must have been disbanded and the State left without defense.

The claim is, in my opinion, equally well founded where a State advances money which it has in its treasury, or which it raises by taxes, to meet the current demand.

In submitting this claim to your consideration it is proper to observe that many other States have like claims with those of Virginia, and that all those similarly circumstanced should be placed on the same footing.

I invite your attention to a principle which is deemed just, and with a view that the provision which may be made respecting it may be extended alike to all the States.

JAMES MONROE.

APRIL 12, 1824.

James Monroe, Special Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/207345

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