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The friendship between our country and Mexico, born of close neighborhood and strengthened by many considerations of intimate intercourse and reciprocal interest, has never been more conspicuous than now, nor more hopeful of increased benefit to both nations. The intercourse of the two countries by rail, already great, is making constant growth. The established lines, and those recently projected, add to the intimacy of traffic and open new channels of access to fresh areas of demand and supply. The importance of the Mexican railway system will be further enhanced, to a degree almost impossible to forecast, if it should become a link in the projected Intercontinental Railway. I recommend that our mission in the City of Mexico be raised to the first class.
The cordial character of our relations with Spain warrants the hope that by the continuance of methods of friendly negotiation much may be accomplished in the direction of an adjustment of pending questions and of the increase of our trade. The extent and development of our trade with the island of Cuba invest the commercial relations of the United States and Spain with a peculiar importance. It is not doubted that a special arrangement in regard to commerce, based upon the reciprocity provision of the recent tariff act, would operate most beneficially for both Governments. This subject is now receiving attention.
The restoration of the remains of John Ericsson to Sweden afforded a gratifying occasion to honor the memory of the great inventor, to whose genius our country owes so much, and to bear witness to the unbroken friendship which has existed between the land which bore him and our own, which claimed him as a citizen.
On the 2d of September last the Commission appointed to revise the proceedings of the Commission under the Claims Convention between the United States and Venezuela of 1866 brought its labors to a close within the period fixed for that purpose. The proceedings of the late Commission were characterized by a spirit of impartiality and a high sense of justice, and an incident which was for many years the subject of discussion between the two Governments has been disposed of in a manner alike honorable and satisfactory to both parties. For the settlement of the claim of the Venezuela Steam Transportation Company, which was the subject of a joint resolution adopted at the last session of Congress, negotiations are still in progress, and their early conclusion is anticipated.
The legislation of the past few years has evinced on the part of Congress a growing realization of the importance of the consular service in fostering our commercial relations abroad and in protecting the domestic revenues. As the scope of operations expands, increased provision must be made to keep up the essential standard of efficiency. The necessity of some adequate measure of supervision and inspection has been so often presented that I need only commend the subject to your attention.
The revenues of the Government from all sources for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1890, were $463,963,080.55, and the total expenditures for the same period were $358,618,584.52. The postal receipts have not heretofore been included in the statement of these aggregates, and for the purpose of comparison the sum of $60,882,097.92 should be deducted from both sides of the account. The surplus for the year, including the amount applied to the sinking fund, was $105,344,496.03. The receipts for 1890 were $16,030,923.79 and the expenditures $15,739,871 in excess of those of 1889. The customs receipts increased $5,835,842.88 and the receipts from internal revenue $11,725,191.89, while, on the side of expenditures, that for pensions was $19,312,075.96 in excess of the preceding year.
The Treasury statement for the current fiscal year, partly actual and partly estimated, is as follows: Receipts from all sources, $406,000,000; total expenditures, $354,000,000, leaving a surplus of $52,000,000—not taking the postal receipts into the account on either side. The loss of revenue from customs for the last quarter is estimated at $25,000,000, but from this is deducted a gain of about $16,000,000, realized during the first four months of the year.
For the year 1892 the total estimated receipts are $373,000,000 and the estimated expenditures $357,852,209.42, leaving an estimated surplus of $15,147,790.58, which, with a cash balance of $52,000,000 at the beginning of the year, will give $67,147,790.58 as the sum available for the redemption of outstanding bonds or other uses, The estimates of receipts and expenditures for the PostOffice Department, being equal, are not included in this statement on either side.
The act "directing the purchase of silver bullion and the issue of Treasury notes thereon," approved July 14, 1890, has been administered by the Secretary of the Treasury with an earnest purpose to get into circulation at the earliest possible dates the full monthly amounts of Treasury notes contemplated by its provisions and at
the same time to give to the market for silver bullion such support as the law contemplates. The recent depreciation in the price of silver has been observed with regret. The rapid rise in price which anticipated and followed the passage of the act was influenced in some degree by speculation, and the recent reaction is in part the result of the same cause and in part of the recent monetary disturbances. Some months of further trial will be necessary to determine the permanent effect of the recent legislation upon silver values, but it is gratifying to know that the increased circulation secured by the act has exerted and will continue to exert a most beneficial influence upon business and upon general values.
While it has not been thought best to renew formally the suggestion of an international conference looking to an agreement touching the full use of silver for coinage at a uniform ratio, care has been taken to observe closely any change in the situation abroad, and no favorable opportunity will be lost to promote a result which it is confidently believed would confer very large benefits upon the commerce of the world.
The recent monetary disturbances in England are not unlikely to suggest a re-examination of opinions upon this subject. Our very large supply of gold will, if not lost by impulsive legislation in the supposed interest of silver, give us a position of advantage in promoting a permanent and safe international agreement for the free use of silver as a coin metal.
The efforts of the Secretary to increase the volume of money in circulation by keeping down the Treasury surplus to the lowest practicable limit have been unremitting and in a very high degree successful. The tables presented by him, showing the increase of money in circulation during the last two decades, and especially the table showing the increase during the nineteen months he has administered the affairs of the Department, are interesting and instructive. The increase of money in circulation during the nineteen months has been in the aggregate $93,866,813, or about $1.50 per capita, and of this increase only $7,100,000 was due to the recent silver legislation. That this substantial and needed. aid given to commerce resulted in an enormous reduction of the public debt and of the annual interest charge is matter of increased satisfaction. There have been purchased and redeemed since March 4, 1889, 4 and 41⁄2 per cent. bonds to the amount of $211,832,450, at a cost of $246,620,741, resulting in the reduction of the annual interest charge of $8,967,609 and a total saving of interest of $51,576,706.
I notice with great pleasure the statement of the Secretary that the receipts from internal revenue have increased during the last fiscal year nearly $12,000,000 and that the cost of collecting this larger revenue was less by $90,617 than for the same purpose in the preceding year. The percentage of cost The percentage of cost of collecting the customs revenue was less for the last fiscal year than ever before.
The Customs Administration Board provided for by the act of June 10, 1890, was selected with great care and is composed in part of men whose previous experience in the administration of the old customs regulations had made them familiar with the evils to be remedied, and in part of men whose legal and judicial acquirements and experience seemed to fit them for the work of interpreting and applying the new statute. The chief aim of the law is to secure honest valuations of all dutiable merchandise and to make these valuations uniform at all our ports of entry. It had been made manifest by a Congressional investigation that a system of undervaluation had been long in use by certain classes of importers, resulting not only in a great loss of revenue, but in a most intolerable discrimination against honesty. It is not seen how this legislation, when it is understood, can be regarded by the citizens of any country having commercial dealings with us as unfriendly. If any duty is supposed to be excessive let the complaint be lodged there. It will surely not be claimed by any well-disposed people that a remedy may be sought and allowed in a system of quasi smuggling.
The report of the Secretary of War exhibits several gratifying results attained during the year by wise and unostentatious methods. The percentage of desertions from the Army (an evil for which both. Congress and the Department have long been seeking a remedy) has been reduced during the past year 24 per cent., and for the months of August and September, during which time the favorable effects of the act of June 16 were felt, 33 per cent. as compared with the same months of 1889.
The results attained by a reorganization and consolidation of the divisions having charge of the hospital and service records of the volunteer soldiers are very remarkable. This change was effected in July, 1889, and at that time there were 40,654 cases awaiting attention, more than half of these being calls from the Pension Office for information necessary to the adjudication of pension claims. On the 30th day of June last, though over three hundred thousand new calls had come in, there was not a single case that had not been examined and answered.
I concur in the recommendations of the Secretary that adequate and regular appropriations be continued for coast-defense works and ordnance. Plans have been practically agreed upon, and there can be no good reason for delaying the execution of them; while the defenseless state of our great seaports furnishes an urgent reason for wise expedition.
The encouragement that has been extended to the militia of the States, generally and most appropriately designated the "National Guard," should be continued and enlarged. These military organizations constitute, in a large sense, the Army of the United States, while about five-sixths of the annual cost of their maintenance is defrayed by the States.
The report of the Attorney-General is under the law submitted directly to Congress, but as the Department of Justice is one of the Executive Departments some reference to the work done is appropriate here.
A vigorous and, in the main, an effective effort has been made to bring to trial and punishment all violators of the laws; but, at the same time, care has been taken that frivolous and technical offenses should not be used to swell the fees of officers or to harass well-disposed citizens. Especial attention is called to the facts connected with the prosecution of violations of the election laws, and of offenses against United States officers. The number of convictions secured, very many of them upon pleas of guilty, will, it is hoped, have a salutary restraining influence. There have been several cases where postmasters appointed by me have been subjected to violent interference in the discharge of their official duties and to persecutions and personal violence of the most extreme character. Some of these cases have been dealt with through the Department of Justice, and in some cases the post-offices have been abolished or suspended. I have directed the Postmaster-General to pursue this course in all cases where other efforts failed to secure for any postmaster, not himself in fault, an opportunity peacefully to exercise the duties of his office. But such action will not supplant the efforts of the Department of Justice to bring the particular offenders to punishment.
The vacation by judicial decrees of fraudulent certificates of naturalization, upon bills in equity filed by the Attorney-General in the circuit court of the United States, is a new application of a familiar equity jurisdiction. Nearly one hundred such decrees have been taken during the year, the evidence disclosing that a very large number of fraudulent certificates of naturalization have been issued. And in this connection I beg to renew my recommendation that the