Zachary Taylor photo

Special Message

January 04, 1850

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

I herewith submit to you copies of a correspondence with the lady of Sir John Franklin, relative to the well-known expedition under his command to the arctic regions for the discovery of a northwest passage. On the receipt of her first letter imploring the aid of the American Government in a search for the missing ships engaged in an enterprise which interested all civilized nations, I anxiously sought the means of affording that assistance, but was prevented from accomplishing the object I had in view in consequence of the want of vessels suitable to encounter the perils of a proper exploration, the lateness of the season, and the want of an appropriation by Congress to enable me to furnish and equip an efficient squadron for that object. All that I could do in compliance with a request which I was deeply anxious to gratify was to cause the advertisements of reward promulged by the British Government and the best information I could obtain as to the means of finding the vessels under the command of Sir John Franklin to be widely circulated among our whalers and seafaring men whose spirit of enterprise might lead them to the inhospitable regions where that heroic officer and his brave followers, who periled their lives in the cause of science and for the benefit of the world, were supposed to be imprisoned among the icebergs or wrecked upon a desert shore.

Congress being now in session, the propriety and expediency of an appropriation for fitting out an expedition to proceed in search of the missing ships, with their officers and crews, is respectfully submitted to your consideration.


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

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