George Washington (November 6, 1792)
Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:
It is some abatement of the satisfaction with which I meet you on the
present occasion that, in felicitating you on a continuance of the national
prosperity generally, I am not able to add to it information that the
Indian hostilities which have for some time past distressed our
Northwestern frontier have terminated.
You will, I am persuaded, learn with no less concern than I communicate it
that reiterated endeavors toward effecting a pacification have hitherto
issued only in new and outrageous proofs of persevering hostility on the
part of the tribes with whom we are in contest. An earnest desire to
procure tranquillity to the frontier, to stop the further effusion of
blood, to arrest the progress of expense, to forward the prevalent wish of
the nation for peace has led to strenuous efforts through various channels
to accomplish these desirable purposes; in making which efforts I consulted
less my own anticipations of the event, or the scruples which some
considerations were calculated to inspire, than the wish to find the object
attainable, or if not attainable, to ascertain unequivocally that such is
A detail of the measures which have been pursued and of their consequences,
which will be laid before you, while it will confirm to you the want of
success thus far, will, I trust, evince that means as proper and as
efficacious as could have been devised have been employed. The issue of
some of them, indeed, is still depending, but a favorable one, though not
to be despaired of, is not promised by anything that has yet happened.
In the course of the attempts which have been made some valuable citizens
have fallen victims to their zeal for the public service. A sanction
commonly respected even among savages has been found in this instance
insufficient to protect from massacre the emissaries of peace. It will, I
presume, be duly considered whether the occasion does not call for an
exercise of liberality toward the families of the deceased.
It must add to your concern to be informed that, besides the continuation
of hostile appearances among the tribes north of the Ohio, some threatening
symptoms have of late been revived among some of those south of it.
A part of the Cherokees, known by the name of Chickamaugas, inhabiting five
villages on the Tennessee River, have long been in the practice of
committing depredations on the neighboring settlements.
It was hoped that the treaty of Holston, made with the Cherokee Nation in
July, 1791, would have prevented a repetition of such depredations; but the
event has not answered this hope. The Chickamaugas, aided by some banditti
of another tribe in their vicinity, have recently perpetrated wanton and
unprovoked hostilities upon the citizens of the United States in that
quarter. The information which has been received on this subject will be
laid before you. Hitherto defensive precautions only have been strictly
enjoined and observed.
It is not understood that any breach of treaty or aggression whatsoever on
the part of the United States or their citizens is even alleged as a
pretext for the spirit of hostility in this quarter.
I have reason to believe that every practicable exertion has been made
(pursuant to the provision by law for that purpose) to be prepared for the
alternative of a prosecution of the war in the event of a failure of
pacific overtures. A large proportion of the troops authorized to be raised
have been recruited, though the number is still incomplete, and pains have
been taken to discipline and put them in condition for the particular kind
of service to be performed. A delay of operations (besides being dictated
by the measures which were pursuing toward a pacific termination of the
war) has been in itself deemed preferable to immature efforts. A statement
from the proper department with regard to the number of troops raised, and
some other points which have been suggested, will afford more precise
information as a guide to the legislative consultations, and among other
things will enable Congress to judge whether some additional stimulus to
the recruiting service may not be advisable.
In looking forward to the future expense of the operations which may be
found inevitable I derive consolation from the information I receive that
the product of the revenues for the present year is likely to supersede the
necessity of additional burthens on the community for the service of the
ensuing year. This, however, will be better ascertained in the course of
the session, and it is proper to add that the information alluded to
proceeds upon the supposition of no material extension of the spirit of
I can not dismiss the subject of Indian affairs without again recommending
to your consideration the expediency of more adequate provision for giving
energy to the laws throughout our interior frontier and for restraining the
commission of outrages upon the Indians, without which all pacific plans
must prove nugatory. To enable, by competent rewards, the employment of
qualified and trusty persons to reside among them as agents would also
contribute to the preservation of peace and good neighborhood. If in
addition to these expedients an eligible plan could be devised for
promoting civilization among the friendly tribes and for carrying on trade
with them upon a scale equal to their wants and under regulations
calculated to protect them from imposition and extortion, its influence in
cementing their interest with ours could not but be considerable.
The prosperous state of our revenue has been intimated. This would be still
more the case were it not for the impediments which in some places continue
to embarrass the collection of the duties on spirits distilled within the
United States. These impediments have lessened and are lessening in local
extent, and, as applied to the community at large, the contentment with the
law appears to be progressive.
But symptoms of increased opposition having lately manifested themselves in
certain quarters, I judged a special interposition on my part proper and
advisable, and under this impression have issued a proclamation warning
against all unlawful combinations and proceedings having for their object
or tending to obstruct the operation of the law in question, and announcing
that all lawful ways and means would be strictly put in execution for
bringing to justice the infractors thereof and securing obedience thereto.
Measures have also been taken for the prosecution of offenders, and
Congress may be assured that nothing within constitutional and legal limits
which may depend upon me shall be wanting to assert and maintain the just
authority of the laws. In fulfilling this trust I shall count entirely upon
the full cooperation of the other departments of the Government and upon
the zealous support of all good citizens.
I can not forbear to bring again into the view of the Legislature the
subject of a revision of the judiciary system. A representation from the
judges of the Supreme Court, which will be laid before you, points out some
of the inconveniences that are experienced. In the course of the execution
of the laws considerations arise out of the structure of the system which
in some cases tend to relax their efficacy. As connected with this subject,
provisions to facilitate the taking of bail upon processes out of the
courts of the United States and a supplementary definition of offenses
against the Constitution and laws of the Union and of the punishment for
such offenses will, it is presumed, be found worthy of particular
Observations on the value of peace with other nations are unnecessary. It
would be wise, however, by timely provisions to guard against those acts of
our own citizens which might tend to disturb it, and to put ourselves in a
condition to give that satisfaction to foreign nations which we may
sometimes have occasion to require from them. I particularly recommend to
your consideration the means of preventing those aggressions by our
citizens on the territory of other nations, and other infractions of the
law of nations, which, furnishing just subject of complaint, might endanger
our peace with them; and, in general, the maintenance of a friendly
intercourse with foreign powers will be presented to your attention by the
expiration of the law for that purpose, which takes place, if not renewed,
at the close of the present session.
In execution of the authority given by the Legislature measures have been
taken for engaging some artists from abroad to aid in the establishment of
our mint. Others have been employed at home. Provision has been made of the
requisite buildings, and these are now putting into proper condition for
the purposes of the establishment. There has also been a small beginning in
the coinage of half dimes, the want of small coins in circulation calling
the first attention to them.
The regulation of foreign coins in correspondency with the principles of
our national coinage, as being essential to their due operation and to
order in our money concerns, will, I doubt not, be resumed and completed.
It is represented that some provisions in the law which establishes the
post office operate, in experiment, against the transmission of news papers
to distant parts of the country. Should this, upon due inquiry, be found to
be the fact, a full conviction of the importance of facilitating the
circulation of political intelligence and information will, I doubt not,
lead to the application of a remedy.
The adoption of a constitution for the State of Kentucky has been notified
to me. The Legislature will share with me in the satisfaction which arises
from an event interesting to the happiness of the part of the nation to
which it relates and conducive to the general order.
It is proper likewise to inform you that since my last communication on the
subject, and in further execution of the acts severally making provision
for the public debt and for the reduction thereof, three new loans have
been effected, each for 3,000,000 florins--one at Antwerp, at the annual
interest of 4.5%, with an allowance of 4% in lieu of all charges, in the
other 2 at Amsterdam, at the annual interest of 4%, with an allowance of
5.5% in one case and of 5% in the other in lieu of all charges. The rates
of these loans and the circumstances under which they have been made are
confirmations of the high state of our credit abroad.
Among the objects to which these funds have been directed to be applied,
the payment of the debts due to certain foreign officers, according to the
provision made during the last session, has been embraced.
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives:
I entertain a strong hope that the state of the national finances is now
sufficiently matured to enable you to enter upon a systematic and effectual
arrangement for the regular redemption and discharge of the public debt,
according to the right which has been reserved to the Government. No
measure can be more desirable, whether viewed with an eye to its intrinsic
importance or to the general sentiment and wish of the nation.
Provision is likewise requisite for the reimbursement of the loan which has
been made of the Bank of the United States, pursuant to the eleventh
section of the act by which it is incorporated. In fulfilling the public
stipulations in this particular it is expected a valuable saving will be
Appropriations for the current service of the ensuing year and for such
extraordinaries as may require provision will demand, and I doubt not will
engage, your early attention.
Gentlemen of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:
I content myself with recalling your attention generally to such objects,
not particularized in my present, as have been suggested in my former
communications to you.
Various temporary laws will expire during the present session. Among these,
that which regulates trade and intercourse with the Indian tribes will
merit particular notice.
The results of your common deliberations hitherto will, I trust, be
productive of solid and durable advantages to our constituents, such as, by
conciliating more and more their ultimate suffrage, will tend to strengthen
and confirm their attachment to that Constitution of Government upon which,
under Divine Providence, materially depend their union, their safety, and
Still further to promote and secure these inestimable ends there is nothing
which can have a more powerful tendency than the careful cultivation of
harmony, combined with a due regard to stability, in the public councils.