CPC Report; An unabashedly liberal perspective

15 March 2012

Andrew Jackson's Birthday

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Andrew Jackson 

1st Inaugural Address


  ABOUT to undertake the arduous duties that I have been appointed to perform by the choice of a free people, I avail myself of this customary and solemn occasion to express the gratitude which their confidence inspires and to acknowledge the accountability which my situation enjoins. While the magnitude of their interests convinces me that no thanks can be adequate to the honor they have conferred, it admonishes me that the best return I can make is the zealous dedication of my humble abilities to their service and their good.
  As the instrument of the Federal Constitution it will devolve on me for a stated period to execute the laws of the United States, to superintend their foreign and their confederate relations, to manage their revenue, to command their forces, and, by communications to the Legislature, to watch over and to promote their interests generally. And the principles of action by which I shall endeavor to accomplish this circle of duties it is now proper for me briefly to explain.
  In administering the laws of Congress I shall keep steadily in view the limitations as well as the extent of the Executive power, trusting thereby to discharge the functions of my office without transcending its authority. With foreign nations it will be my study to preserve peace and to cultivate friendship on fair and honorable terms, and in the adjustment of any differences that may exist or arise to exhibit the forbearance becoming a powerful nation rather than the sensibility belonging to a gallant people.
  In such measures as I may be called on to pursue in regard to the rights of the separate States I hope to be animated by a proper respect for those sovereign members of our Union, taking care not to confound the powers they have reserved to themselves with those they have granted to the Confederacy.
  The management of the public revenue—that searching operation in all governments—is among the most delicate and important trusts in ours, and it will, of course, demand no inconsiderable share of my official solicitude. Under every aspect in which it can be considered it would appear that advantage must result from the observance of a strict and faithful economy. This I shall aim at the more anxiously both because it will facilitate the extinguishment of the national debt, the unnecessary duration of which is incompatible with real independence, and because it will counteract that tendency to public and private profligacy which a profuse expenditure of money by the Government is but too apt to engender. Powerful auxiliaries to the attainment of this desirable end are to be found in the regulations provided by the wisdom of Congress for the specific appropriation of public money and the prompt accountability of public officers.
  With regard to a proper selection of the subjects of impost with a view to revenue, it would seem to me that the spirit of equity, caution, and compromise in which the Constitution was formed requires that the great interests of agriculture, commerce, and manufactures should be equally favored, and that perhaps the only exception to this rule should consist in the peculiar encouragement of any products of either of them that may be found essential to our national independence.
  Internal improvement and the diffusion of knowledge, so far as they can be promoted by the constitutional acts of the Federal Government, are of high importance.
  Considering standing armies as dangerous to free governments in time of peace, I shall not seek to enlarge our present establishment, nor disregard that salutary lesson of political experience which teaches that the military should be held subordinate to the civil power. The gradual increase of our Navy, whose flag has displayed in distant climes our skill in navigation and our fame in arms; the preservation of our forts, arsenals, and dockyards, and the introduction of progressive improvements in the discipline and science of both branches of our military service are so plainly prescribed by prudence that I should be excused for omitting their mention sooner than for enlarging on their importance. But the bulwark of our defense is the national militia, which in the present state of our intelligence and population must render us invincible. As long as our Government is administered for the good of the people, and is regulated by their will; as long as it secures to us the rights of person and of property, liberty of conscience and of the press, it will be worth defending; and so long as it is worth defending a patriotic militia will cover it with an impenetrable aegis. Partial injuries and occasional mortifications we may be subjected to, but a million of armed freemen, possessed of the means of war, can never be conquered by a foreign foe. To any just system, therefore, calculated to strengthen this natural safeguard of the country I shall cheerfully lend all the aid in my power.
  It will be my sincere and constant desire to observe toward the Indian tribes within our limits a just and liberal policy, and to give that humane and considerate attention to their rights and their wants which is consistent with the habits of our Government and the feelings of our people.
  In the performance of a task thus generally delineated I shall endeavor to select men whose diligence and talents will insure in their respective stations able and faithful cooperation, depending for the advancement of the public service more on the integrity and zeal of the public officers than on their numbers.
  A diffidence, perhaps too just, in my own qualifications will teach me to look with reverence to the examples of public virtue left by my illustrious predecessors, and with veneration to the lights that flow from the mind that founded and the mind that reformed our system. The same diffidence induces me to hope for instruction and aid from the coordinate branches of the Government, and for the indulgence and support of my fellow-citizens generally. And a firm reliance on the goodness of that Power whose providence mercifully protected our national infancy, and has since upheld our liberties in various vicissitudes, encourages me to offer up my ardent supplications that He will continue to make our beloved country the object of His divine care and gracious benediction.

2nd Inaugural  Address


  THE will of the American people, expressed through their unsolicited suffrages, calls me before you to pass through the solemnities preparatory to taking upon myself the duties of President of the United States for another term. For their approbation of my public conduct through a period which has not been without its difficulties, and for this renewed expression of their confidence in my good intentions, I am at a loss for terms adequate to the expression of my gratitude. It shall be displayed to the extent of my humble abilities in continued efforts so to administer the Government as to preserve their liberty and promote their happiness.
  So many events have occurred within the last four years which have necessarily called forth—sometimes under circumstances the most delicate and painful—my views of the principles and policy which ought to be pursued by the General Government that I need on this occasion but allude to a few leading considerations connected with some of them.
  The foreign policy adopted by our Government soon after the formation of our present Constitution, and very generally pursued by successive Administrations, has been crowned with almost complete success, and has elevated our character among the nations of the earth. To do justice to all and to submit to wrong from none has been during my Administration its governing maxim, and so happy have been its results that we are not only at peace with all the world, but have few causes of controversy, and those of minor importance, remaining unadjusted.
  In the domestic policy of this Government there are two objects which especially deserve the attention of the people and their representatives, and which have been and will continue to be the subjects of my increasing solicitude. They are the preservation of the rights of the several States and the integrity of the Union.
  These great objects are necessarily connected, and can only be attained by an enlightened exercise of the powers of each within its appropriate sphere in conformity with the public will constitutionally expressed. To this end it becomes the duty of all to yield a ready and patriotic submission to the laws constitutionally enacted, and thereby promote and strengthen a proper confidence in those institutions of the several States and of the United States which the people themselves have ordained for their own government.
  My experience in public concerns and the observation of a life somewhat advanced confirm the opinions long since imbibed by me, that the destruction of our State governments or the annihilation of their control over the local concerns of the people would lead directly to revolution and anarchy, and finally to despotism and military domination. In proportion, therefore, as the General Government encroaches upon the rights of the States, in the same proportion does it impair its own power and detract from its ability to fulfill the purposes of its creation. Solemnly impressed with these considerations, my countrymen will ever find me ready to exercise my constitutional powers in arresting measures which may directly or indirectly encroach upon the rights of the States or tend to consolidate all political power in the General Government. But of equal, and, indeed, of incalculable, importance is the union of these States, and the sacred duty of all to contribute to its preservation by a liberal support of the General Government in the exercise of its just powers. You have been wisely admonished to "accustom yourselves to think and speak of the Union as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity, watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety, discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned, and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of any attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts." Without union our independence and liberty would never have been achieved; without union they never can be maintained. Divided into twenty-four, or even a smaller number, of separate communities, we shall see our internal trade burdened with numberless restraints and exactions; communication between distant points and sections obstructed or cut off; our sons made soldiers to deluge with blood the fields they now till in peace; the mass of our people borne down and impoverished by taxes to support armies and navies, and military leaders at the head of their victorious legions becoming our lawgivers and judges. The loss of liberty, of all good government, of peace, plenty, and happiness, must inevitably follow a dissolution of the Union. In supporting it, therefore, we support all that is dear to the freeman and the philanthropist.
  The time at which I stand before you is full of interest. The eyes of all nations are fixed on our Republic. The event of the existing crisis will be decisive in the opinion of mankind of the practicability of our federal system of government. Great is the stake placed in our hands; great is the responsibility which must rest upon the people of the United States. Let us realize the importance of the attitude in which we stand before the world. Let us exercise forbearance and firmness. Let us extricate our country from the dangers which surround it and learn wisdom from the lessons they inculcate.
  Deeply impressed with the truth of these observations, and under the obligation of that solemn oath which I am about to take, I shall continue to exert all my faculties to maintain the just powers of the Constitution and to transmit unimpaired to posterity the blessings of our Federal Union. At the same time, it will be my aim to inculcate by my official acts the necessity of exercising by the General Government those powers only that are clearly delegated; to encourage simplicity and economy in the expenditures of the Government; to raise no more money from the people than may be requisite for these objects, and in a manner that will best promote the interests of all classes of the community and of all portions of the Union. Constantly bearing in mind that in entering into society "individuals must give up a share of liberty to preserve the rest," it will be my desire so to discharge my duties as to foster with our brethren in all parts of the country a spirit of liberal concession and compromise, and, by reconciling our fellow-citizens to those partial sacrifices which they must unavoidably make for the preservation of a greater good, to recommend our invaluable Government and Union to the confidence and affections of the American people.
  Finally, it is my most fervent prayer to that Almighty Being before whom I now stand, and who has kept us in His hands from the infancy of our Republic to the present day, that He will so overrule all my intentions and actions and inspire the hearts of my fellow-citizens that we may be preserved from dangers of all kinds and continue forever a united and happy people.

Jackson's Second Annual 
Speech Before Congress, 1830; 
Andrew Jackson explains the Indian Removal Policy

It gives me pleasure to announce to Congress that the 
benevolent policy of the government, steadily pursued for nearly 
thirty years, in relation to the removal of the Indians beyond the 
white settlements is approaching to a happy consummation. Two 
important tribes have accepted the provision made for their 
removal at the last session of Congress, and it is believed that 
their example will induce the remaining tribes also to seek the 
same obvious advantages.

The consequences of a speedy removal will be important to the 
United States, to individual states, and to the Indians themselves. 
The pecuniary advantages which it promises to the government 
are the least of its recommendations. It puts an end to all 
possible danger of collision between the authorities of the 
general and state governments on account of the Indians. It will 
place a dense and civilized population in large tracts of country 
now occupied by a few savage hunters. By opening the whole 
territory between Tennessee on the north and Louisiana on the 
south to the settlement of the whites it will incalculably strengthen 
the southwestern frontier and render the adjacent states strong 
enough to repel future invasions without remote aid. It will relieve 
the whole state of Mississippi and the western part of Alabama of 
Indian occupancy, and enable those states to advance rapidly in 
population, wealth, and power.

It will separate the Indians from immediate contact with 
settlements of whites; free them from the power of the states; 
enable them to pursue happiness in their own way and under 
their own rude institutions; will retard the progress of decay, 
which is lessening their numbers, and perhaps cause them 
gradually, under the protection of the government and through the 
influence of good counsels, to cast off their savage habits and 
become an interesting, civilized, and Christian community. These 
consequences, some of them so certain and the rest so 
probable, make the complete execution of the plan sanctioned by 
Congress at their last session an object of much solicitude.

Toward the aborigines of the country no one can indulge a more 
friendly feeling than myself, or would go further in attempting to 
reclaim them from their wandering habits and make them a 
happy, prosperous people. I have endeavored to impress upon 
them my own solemn convictions of the duties and powers of the 
general government in relation to the state authorities. For the 
justice of the laws passed by the states within the scope of their 
reserved powers they are not responsible to this government. As 
individuals we may entertain and express our opinions of their 
acts, but as a government we have as little right to control them 
as we have to prescribe laws for other nations.

With a full understanding of the subject, the Choctaw and the 
Chickasaw tribes have with great unanimity determined to avail 
themselves of the liberal offers presented by the act of Congress, 
and have agreed to remove beyond the Mississippi River. 
Treaties have been made with them, which in due season will be 
submitted for consideration. In negotiating these treaties, they 
were made to understand their true condition, and they have 
preferred maintaining their independence in the Western forests 
to submitting to the laws of the states in which they now reside. 
These treaties, being probably the last which will ever be made 
with them, are characterized by great liberality on the part of the 
government. They give the Indians a liberal sum in consideration 
of their removal, and comfortable subsistence on their arrival at 
their new homes. If it be their real interest to maintain a separate 
existence, they will there be at liberty to do so without the 
inconveniences and vexations to which they would unavoidably 
have been subject in Alabama and Mississippi.

Humanity has often wept over the fate of the aborigines of this 
country, and philanthropy has been long busily employed in 
devising means to avert it, but its progress has never for a 
moment been arrested, and one by one have many powerful 
tribes disappeared from the earth. To follow to the tomb the last 
of his race and to tread on the graves of extinct nations excite 
melancholy reflections. But true philanthropy reconciles the mind 
to these vicissitudes as it does to the extinction of one generation 
to make room for another. In the monuments and fortresses of an 
unknown people, spread over the extensive regions of the West, 
we behold the memorials of a once powerful race, which was 
exterminated or has disappeared to make room for the existing 
savage tribes. Nor is there anything in this which, upon a 
comprehensive view of the general interests of the human race, 
is to be regretted. Philanthropy could not wish to see this 
continent restored to the condition in which it was found by our 
forefathers. What good man would prefer a country covered with 
forests and ranged by a few thousand savages to our extensive 
republic, studded with cities, towns, and prosperous farms, 
embellished with all the improvements which art can devise or 
industry execute, occupied by more than 12 million happy people, 
and filled with all the blessings of liberty, civilization, and religion?

The present policy of the government is but a continuation of the 
same progressive change by a milder process. The tribes which 
occupied the countries now constituting the Eastern states were 
annihilated or have melted away to make room for the whites. 
The waves of population and civilization are rolling to the 
westward, and we now propose to acquire the countries 
occupied by the red men of the South and West by a fair 
exchange, and, at the expense of the United States, to send them 
to a land where their existence may be prolonged and perhaps 
made perpetual.

Doubtless it will be painful to leave the graves of their fathers; but 
what do they more than our ancestors did or than our children are 
now doing? To better their condition in an unknown land our 
forefathers left all that was dear in earthly objects. Our children by 
thousands yearly leave the land of their birth to seek new homes 
in distant regions. Does humanity weep at these painful 
separations from everything, animate and inanimate, with which 
the young heart has become entwined? Far from it. It is rather a 
source of joy that our country affords scope where our young 
population may range unconstrained in body or in mind, 
developing the power and faculties of man in their highest 
perfection. These remove hundreds and almost thousands of 
miles at their own expense, purchase the lands they occupy, and 
support themselves at their new homes from the moment of their 
arrival. Can it be cruel in this government when, by events which it 
cannot control, the Indian is made discontented in his ancient 
home to purchase his lands, to give him a new and extensive 
territory, to pay the expense of his removal, and support him a 
year in his new abode? How many thousands of our own people 
would gladly embrace the opportunity of removing to the West on 
such conditions? If the offers made to the Indians were extended 
to them, they would be hailed with gratitude and joy.

And is it supposed that the wandering savage has a stronger 
attachment to his home than the settled, civilized Christian? Is it 
more afflicting to him to leave the graves of his fathers than it is to 
our brothers and children? Rightly considered, the policy of the 
general government toward the red man is not only liberal but 
generous. He is unwilling to submit to the laws of the states and 
mingle with their population. To save him from this alternative, or 
perhaps utter annihilation, the general government kindly offers 
him a new home, and proposes to pay the whole expense of his 
removal and settlement.

n the consummation of a policy originating at an early period, 
and steadily pursued by every administration within the present 
century--so just to the states and so generous to the Indians--the 
executive feels it has a right to expect the cooperation of 
Congress and of all good and disinterested men. The states, 
moreover, have a right to demand it. It was substantially a part of 
the compact which made them members of our Confederacy. 
With Georgia there is an express contract; with the new states an 
implied one of equal obligation. Why, in authorizing Ohio, Indiana, 
Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi, and Alabama to form constitutions 
and become separate states, did Congress include within their 
limits extensive tracts of Indian lands, and, in some instances, 
powerful Indian tribes? Was it not understood by both parties that 
the power of the states was to be coextensive with their limits, 
and that, with all convenient dispatch, the general government 
should extinguish the Indian title and remove every obstruction to 
the complete jurisdiction of the state governments over the soil? 
Probably not one of those states would have accepted a separate 
existence--certainly it would never have been granted by 
Congress--had it been understood that they were to be confined 
forever to those small portions of their nominal territory the Indian 
title to which had at the time been extinguished.

It is, therefore, a duty which this government owes to the new 
states to extinguish as soon as possible the Indian title to all 
lands which Congress themselves have included within their 
limits. When this is done the duties of the general government in 
relation to the states and the Indians within their limits are at an 
end. The Indians may leave the state or not, as they choose. The 
purchase of their lands does not alter in the least their personal 
relations with the state government. No act of the general 
government has ever been deemed necessary to give the states 
jurisdiction over the persons of the Indians. That they possess by 
virtue of their sovereign power within their own limits in as full a 
manner before as after the purchase of the Indian lands; nor can 
this government add to or diminish it.

May we not hope, therefore, that all good citizens, and none more 
zealously than those who think the Indians oppressed by 
subjection to the laws of the states, will unite in attempting to 
open the eyes of those children of the forest to their true 
condition, and by a speedy removal to relieve them from all the 
evils, real or imaginary, present or prospective, with which they 
may be supposed to be threatened.

Letter from Chief John Ross to the Senate and House of 
Chief John Ross replies to the Trail of Tears

(Red Clay Council Ground of the Cherokee Nation, 
September 28, 1836)

It is well known that for a number of years past we have 
been harassed by a series of vexations, which it is deemed 
unnecessary to recite in detail, but the evidence of which our 
delegation will be prepared to furnish. With a view to 
bringing our troubles to a close, a delegation was 
appointed on the 23rd of October, 1835, by the General 
Council of the nation, clothed with full powers to enter into 
arrangements with the Government of the United States, for 
the final adjustment of all our existing difficulties. The 
delegation failing to effect an arrangement with the United 
States commissioner, then in the nation, proceeded, 
agreeably to their instructions in that case, to Washington 
City, for the purpose of negotiating a treaty with the 
authorities of the United States.

After the departure of the Delegation, a contract was made 
by the Rev. John F. Schermerhorn, and certain individual 
Cherokees, purporting to be a "treaty, concluded at New 
Echota, in the State of Georgia, on the 29th day of 
December, 1835, by General William Carroll and John F. 
Schermerhorn, commissioners on the part of the United 
States, and the chiefs, headmen, and people of the 
Cherokee tribes of Indians." A spurious Delegation, in 
violation of a special injunction of the general council of the 
nation, proceeded to Washington City with this pretended 
treaty, and by false and fraudulent representations 
supplanted in the favor of the Government the legal and 
accredited Delegation of the Cherokee people, and 
obtained for this instrument, after making important 
alterations in its provisions, the recognition of the United 
States Government. And now it is presented to us as a 
treaty, ratified by the Senate, and approved by the President 
[Andrew Jackson], and our acquiescence in its 
requirements demanded, under the sanction of the 
displeasure of the United States, and the threat of summary 
compulsion, in case of refusal. It comes to us, not through 
our legitimate authorities, the known and usual medium of 
communication between the Government of the United 
States and our nation, but through the agency of a 
complication of powers, civil and military.

By the stipulations of this instrument, we are despoiled of 
our private possessions, the indefeasible property of 
individuals. We are stripped of every attribute of freedom 
and eligibility for legal self-defence. Our property may be 
plundered before our eyes; violence may be committed on 
our persons; even our lives may be taken away, and there is 
none to regard our complaints. We are denationalized; we 
are disfranchised. We are deprived of membership in the 
human family! We have neither land nor home, nor resting 
place that can be called our own. And this is effected by the 
provisions of a compact which assumes the venerated, the 
sacred appellation of treaty.

We are overwhelmed! Our hearts are sickened, our 
utterance is paralized, when we reflect on the condition in 
which we are placed, by the audacious practices of 
unprincipled men, who have managed their stratagems 
with so much dexterity as to impose on the Government of 
the United States, in the face of our earnest, solemn, and 
reiterated protestations.

The instrument in question is not the act of our Nation; we 
are not parties to its covenants; it has not received the 
sanction of our people. The makers of it sustain no office 
nor appointment in our Nation, under the designation of 
Chiefs, Head men, or any other title, by which they hold, or 
could acquire, authority to assume the reins of Government, 
and to make bargain and sale of our rights, our 
possessions, and our common country. And we are 
constrained solemnly to declare, that we cannot but 
contemplate the enforcement of the stipulations of this 
instrument on us, against our consent, as an act of injustice 
and oppression, which, we are well persuaded, can never 
knowingly be countenanced by the Government and people 
of the United States; nor can we believe it to be the design 
of these honorable and highminded individuals, who stand 
at the head of the Govt., to bind a whole Nation, by the acts 
of a few unauthorized individuals. And, therefore, we, the 
parties to be affected by the result, appeal with confidence 
to the justice, the magnanimity, the compassion, of your 
honorable bodies, against the enforcement, on us, of the 
provisions of a compact, in the formation of which we have 
had no agency.

From: The Papers of Chief John Ross, vol 1, 1807-1839, Norman OK
Gary E. Moulton, ed.
University of Oklahoma Press, 1985
Excerpted from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4h3083t.html


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