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Special Message

May 21, 1840

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

I communicate to Congress sundry papers, from which it will be perceived that the Imaum of Muscat has transmitted to this country and, through the agency of the commander of one of his vessels, offered for my acceptance a present, consisting of horses, pearls, and other articles of value. The answer of the Secretary of State to a letter from the agents of the vessel communicating the offer of the present, and my own letter to the Imaum in reply to one which he addressed to me, were intended to make known in the proper quarter the reasons which had precluded my acceptance of the proffered gift. Inasmuch, however, as the commander of the vessel, with the view, as he alleges, of carrying out the wishes of his Sovereign, now offers the presents to the Government of the United States, I deem it my duty to lay the proposition before Congress for such disposition as they may think fit to make of it; and I take the opportunity to suggest for their consideration the adoption of legislative provisions pointing out the course which they may deem proper for the Executive to pursue in any future instances where offers of presents by foreign states, either to the Government, its legislative or executive branches, or its agents abroad, may be made under circumstances precluding a refusal without the risk of giving offense.

The correspondence between the Department of State and our consul at Tangier will acquaint Congress with such an instance, in which every proper exertion on the part of the consul to refrain from taking charge of an intended present proved unavailing. The animals constituting it may consequently, under the instructions from the Secretary of State, be expected soon to arrive in the United States, when the authority of Congress as to the disposition to be made of them will be necessary.


Martin van Buren, Special Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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