James Monroe

Special Message

February 21, 1825

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

I transmit herewith a report from the Secretary of War, with a report to him from the Third Auditor, of the settlement in the amount stated of the claims of the State of Massachusetts for services rendered by the militia of that State in the late war, the payment of which has hitherto been prevented by causes which are well known to Congress. Having communicated my sentiments on this subject fully in a message bearing date on the 23d of February, 1824, it is unnecessary to repeat in detail here what I there advanced. By recurring to that message and to the documents referred to in it it will be seen that the conduct of the executive of that State in refusing to place the militia thereof at that difficult conjuncture under the direction of the Executive of the United States, as it was bound to do by a fair construction of the Constitution, and as the other States did, is the great cause to which the difficulty adverted to is to be ascribed. It will also be seen on a view of those documents that the executive of the State was warned at the time if it persevered in the refusal that the consequences which have followed would be inevitable; that the attitude assumed by the State formed a case which was not contemplated by the existing laws of the United States relating to militia services; that the payment of the claims of the State for such services could be provided for by Congress only and by a special law for the purpose. Having made this communication while acting in the Department of War to the governor of Massachusetts, with the sanction and under the direction of my enlightened and virtuous predecessor, it would be improper in any view which may be taken of the subject for me to change the ground then assumed, to withdraw this great question from the consideration of Congress, and to act on it myself. Had the Executive been in error, it is entitled to censure, making a just allowance for the motive which guided it. If its conduct was correct, the ground then assumed ought to be maintained by it. It belongs to Congress alone to terminate this distressing incident on just principles, with a view to the highest interests of our Union.

From the view which I have taken of the subject I am confirmed in the opinion that Congress should now decide on the claim and allow to the State such portions thereof as are rounded on the principles laid down in the former message. If those principles are correct, as on great consideration I am satisfied they are, it appears to me to be just in itself and of high importance that the sums which may be due in conformity therewith should no longer be withheld from the State.


James Monroe, Special Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/206842

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