John Tyler photo

Special Message

June 17, 1841

To the Senate of the United States:

I transmit to the Senate the inclosed communication from the Secretary of State, in answer to a resolution of the Senate of the 12th instant.




SIR: In answer to the resolution of the Senate of the 12th instant, calling for "any orders which may have been issued to the officers of the Army and Navy in relation to political offenses in elections," etc., I inclose a copy of the circular letter addressed, under the direction of the President, by this Department to the heads of the other Departments, and know of no other order to which the resolution can be supposed to have reference.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,



DEPARTMENT OF STATE, March 20, 1841 .

SIR: The President is of opinion that it is a great abuse to bring the patronage of the General Government into conflict with the freedom of elections, and that this abuse ought to be corrected wherever it may have been permitted to exist, and to be prevented for the future.

He therefore directs that information be given to all officers and agents in your department of the public service that partisan interference in popular elections, whether of State officers or officers of this Government, and for whomsoever or against whomsoever it may be exercised, or the payment of any contribution or assessment on salaries, or official compensation for party or election purposes, will be regarded by him as cause of removal.

It is not intended that any officer shall be restrained in the free and proper expression and maintenance of his opinions respecting public men or public measures, or in the exercise to the fullest degree of the constitutional right of suffrage. But persons employed under the Government and paid for their services out of the public Treasury are not expected to take an active or officious part in attempts to influence the minds or votes of others, such conduct being deemed inconsistent with the spirit of the Constitution and the duties of public agents acting under it; and the President is resolved, so far as depends upon him, that while the exercise of the elective franchise by the people shall be free from undue influences of official station and authority, opinion shall also be free among the officers and agents of the Government.

The President wishes it further to be announced and distinctly understood that from all collecting and disbursing officers promptitude in rendering accounts and entire punctuality in paying balances will be rigorously exacted. In his opinion it is time to return in this respect to the early practice of the Government, and to hold any degree of delinquency on the part of those intrusted with the public money just cause of immediate removal. He deems the severe observance of this rule to be essential to the public service, as every dollar lost to the Treasury by unfaithfulness in office creates a necessity for a new charge upon the people.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,


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

Filed Under



Simple Search of Our Archives