Front Page Titles (by Subject) GALLATIN TO JEFFERSON. REMARKS ON PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE. 1803. - The Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. 1
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GALLATIN TO JEFFERSON. REMARKS ON PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE. 1803. - Albert Gallatin, The Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. 1 
The Writings of Albert Gallatin, ed. Henry Adams (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1879). 3 vols.
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GALLATIN TO JEFFERSON.
[Received October 4.]
Louisiana.—1st. It seems to me that the treaty ought not to be laid before both Houses of Congress until after ratification by Senate. The rights of Congress in its legislative capacity do not extend to making treaties, but only to giving or refusing their sanction to those conditions which come within the powers granted by the Constitution to Congress. The House of Representatives neither can nor ought to act on the treaty until after it is a treaty; and if that be true, no time will be gained by an earlier communication to that body. In asserting the rights of the House, great care should be taken to do nothing which might be represented as countenancing any idea of encroachment of the constitutional rights of the Senate. If, in order to be enabled to carry on a negotiation, the Executive wants a previous grant of money or other legislative act, as in the Algerine treaty, some Indian treaties, and last session (2) two millions appropriation, an application may be necessary before the negotiation is opened or the treaty held; but when, as in the present case, the negotiation has been already closed and the treaty signed, no necessity exists to consult or communicate to the House until the instrument shall have been completed by the Senate and President’s ratification: in this instance there is no apparent object for the communication but a supposition that they may act, or, in other words, express their opinion and give their advice on the inchoate instrument, which is at that very time constitutionally before the Senate.
2d. There is some ambiguity in that paragraph about the period previous to which propositions for obtaining New Orleans had been authorized. I presume that by that period is meant, not the time when representations were made to Spain respecting the deposit, but that when the deposit was restored. Quere, also, whether the appropriation of two millions was subsequent to the time when those propositions, for obtaining New Orleans and adjacent territories, were authorized.
3d. Although the personal compliment to the First Consul may be pleasing to him, and on that account consistent with policy, yet it is doubtful whether it should not be omitted, because it will produce an opposite effect in Great Britain, because he is certainly very unpopular with all parties and descriptions of men in the United States, and because, if my memory serves me right, personal compliments to foreign sovereigns are not usual anywhere in communications from the Executive to the nation except under very particular circumstances. Perhaps something more general might be substituted, showing still our sense of the motives which actuated or which it may be proper to ascribe to France, and applying what we may say to the French government rather than to the Consul himself.
4th. In enumerating the advantages resulting from the acquisition of Louisiana, the most obvious, that of securing the advantages of navigation and outlet to the Western States, which is the subject of the preceding part of the paragraph, might perhaps without inconvenience be repeated next to or preceding that of securing us from collision with foreign nations. But there is another which, if it does really proceed from that event, ought not to be omitted, viz., that the acquisition of New Orleans is a most solid bond of the Union.
Another delicate and difficult subject to introduce, but which, if it could be touched, would tend to remove the only objection which, so far as I know, the Eastern Federalists have been able to press with any success, is that our object should at present be to restrain the population and settlements on this side of the Mississippi, and that the acquisition of the country west of it enables us in fact better to regulate and control the progress of our settlements. Perhaps that idea might be introduced in connection with what is said in a subsequent part of the message of the settlement of the country lately obtained from the Kaskaskias.
5th. If the authorization to take military possession is not strictly necessary, it will be much more convenient to order its being done immediately after ratification; otherwise a delay equal to the whole time employed in Congress in debating the general question whether the treaty shall be carried into effect will take place. Situated as we are as respects both France and Spain, every day may be precious. Observe that Mr. Baring informs me that his house have advanced already ten millions of livres to France on the guarantee of Messrs. Monroe and Livingston, grounded on the authority they had to dispose of two millions of dollars; should we through any accident miss the opportunity of taking possession, both the treaty and the money may be lost. It must be observed generally that not even Congress can prevent some constitutional irregularity in the proceedings relative to occupying and governing that country before an amendment to the Constitution shall take place. I think that, at all events, it will be better not to ask in direct terms for that authorization; but some general terms may be introduced in the immediately preceding article which will cover the object, such as “for the occupying and temporarily governing the country, and for its ultimate incorporation in the Union.”
6th. The paragraph in relation to the road may be omitted, as of not sufficient relative importance when compared to the other objects recommended to the consideration of Congress. I should be also inclined to strike out, for the same reason, the Missouri paragraph, especially because the result of the mission contemplated by last year’s appropriation is not yet known and cannot therefore be communicated, and because, so far as relates to what Congress should do on that subject, the substance of the paragraph might also be introduced by adding a few words to that in which the attention of Congress is called to the measures rendered necessary or expedient on account of the acquisition of Louisiana. Thus, after the words “for confirming to the Indians, &c.,” might be added, “and for establishing commercial and friendly relations with them,” and also, “for ascertaining the geography of the territory acquired.” Upon that idea the three paragraphs commencing with the words “Authority from” and ending with the words “diligence and fidelity” might be omitted, and the substance of the first and last incorporated with the preceding paragraph, commencing with the words “With the wisdom” and now ending with the words “to impair.”
Indians.—1st. If the idea of laying the Louisiana treaty before the House only after its ratification shall be adopted, a similar modification of expression would of course be adopted in the expressions communicating the substance of the treaty with the Kaskaskia tribe.
2d. Unless the idea of controlling settlements beyond the Mississippi can, as before hinted, be connected with that of opening for settlement the Kaskaskia cession, I think that, under present circumstances, it would be best for the Executive to omit the expression of an opinion in favor of extending settlements on the Mississippi within that cession, as it will be misrepresented in the eastern parts of the Union as a proof of partiality towards that western quarter, and as a wish to promote migration and to weaken rapidly the eastern interest. The subject will, without being further recommended than merely stating the cession, be taken up by the Kentucky members, who ardently wish to see a frontier settled north of them.
Great Britain is not mentioned in the message, except by an allusion to her aggressions, which cannot well be omitted, but which, contrasted with what must be said of the French government respecting Louisiana, may be more displeasing to her than is necessary, and may also be misrepresented as giving, on the whole, an aspect of partiality to the message. For the purpose of removing any such impression or insinuation, and also in order to complete the tableau of our happy situation in every respect, might not the two conventions made with that power, by which our eastern and north-western limits are fixed and every territorial subject of dispute with them is removed, be mentioned? If a paragraph to that effect was introduced, it might immediately precede that of the Kaskaskia.
War in Europe, and Neutrality.—1st. Those two subjects are so nearly the same that I think they should not be divided by the intended Finance paragraph. This might follow the Tripoli, and, in connecting the two others, some modifications in their arrangement on account of the similarity of some of the ideas contained in them might be introduced.
2d. Without expressing anything like self-applause, but referring everything to the moderate and wise policy adopted by last Congress under great provocations, and with a due acknowledgment of gratitude to Providence, I think it but fair to introduce the idea of our having, by the late successful negotiation, so happily escaped becoming parties to the war, and to contrast our situation with that of the belligerent powers, or rather with what would have been ours had a different course been pursued. In the view presented by the message, the serious evils to be apprehended by us as neutrals are above stated.
3d. It may be proper in a general enumeration to mention the propriety of restraining our citizens from embarking individually in the war. The laws on that subject are, however, as complete as possible.
4th. The sentence which conveys a menace of interdicting all intercourse appears to me much too strong for the present time. The aggressions and provocations are not yet sufficient to justify the idea; it does not seem consistent with our general policy to throw out such menace before negotiation has been tried and exhausted, and the anticipation of such state of things darkens the pleasing impression resulting from the general aspect of the message.
5th. Arena—this expression is rather strong as applied to the parties in the war. Neutral passions is ambiguous, as, instead of conveying the idea that passions should be neutralized or rendered neuter (for the observance of a neutral conduct), it seems to mean that there is a certain class of passions which are called neutral.
Finance.—I will not be able to give to the President the precise amount of the receipts in the Treasury during the last year (ending 30th September), nor of the balance in the Treasury on that day, as the Savannah and Charleston returns to that date will not reach me in time; but I will, within next week, give the amount of both within 100,000 dollars, so as to enable the President to say that the receipts have exceeded — millions — hundred thousand dollars, and that the balance amounted to near — millions — hundred thousand dollars. I will also, either this week or early next, be able to give the precise amount applied during that year to the payment of principal and interest of the public debt, distinguishing the payments on account of principal from those on account of interest.
As to the revenue accrued during the year, on which our estimates of receipts hereafter must be grounded, it will be impossible to speak with any degree of precision before 5th of November. I can only say that it has exceeded the estimate heretofore made by the Secretary of the Treasury; and on which our present arrangements have been made. As to the necessity of additional taxes, my present impression, drawn from an exact review of the revenue accrued during the year 1802 and a tolerably correct one of that accrued during the two first quarters of this year, and from Louisiana resources, is that we want about 300,000 dollars. This is grounded on the following sketch. The revenue estimated by that year’s report was equal, or nearly so, to the estimated expenditures of the year.
I am afraid of a further deduction in the revenue, on account of the slow sale of lands this year, and of the slower payments; this, however, may be considered as temporary.
If on account of the small vessels now employed for Tripoli the navy estimates can be reduced from nine hundred to six hundred thousand dollars, I think that we may venture without additional taxes; but, at all events, it will be best that the subject, if mentioned by the President, should be stated in doubtful terms, as rather a hope than a certainty, and as a subject to be investigated by Congress when they shall have received the usual estimates. The paragraph may in the mean while remain blank till the middle of next week, as that will enable me to obtain more precise results.