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President's Message

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Washington, May 5. The President yeeterday sent the following message to the House : To the House of Representativas : I have given very attentivc conBideration to the reeolution of the Honae of Representativos, passed on the 3d of April, " reueeting the President of the United States to infonn the House whether any executive offices, acts, or duties, and if any what, havo wlthin a ppecified period been pcrformed at a distance from the seat of Government establighed by law," etc. I have never hesitated, and Bhall not hesitate to communicate to Congress, and to either branch thereof, all infomiation which the Constittition makcs it the duty of the President to glvc, or which myjudgment inay suggest to me, or a requeet either house niay indícate to me, may bo useful in the discharge of appropriate dutiea confided to them. I fail, however, to find in the Oonstitution of the United States tho authority given to the House of Representatives (one branch of CongresB in whicn is vested the legielative power of tho Government) to require of the Execntive, an independent branch of the Government, co-ordinate with. the Senate and House of Ropresentatives, an account of bis discharge of his appropriate and purely executive officeB, acts, and duties, either as to when, where, or how performed. What the House of Representatives may require, as a right, in its demand upon the Executive for information, is limited to what is necessary for the proper discharge of its powers of legislatlon or of impeachment. The inquiry in the resolution of the House as to where the executive acts, within the last Beven years, have been performed, and at what distance from any particular spot, or 'or how long a períod at any one time, etc, does not neceasarily belong to the province of legislation. It doee not profesa to be aafeed for that object. If this Information be eought through an inquiry of the President as to his executive acts in view or in aid of the powpr of impeachment vestcd in the House, it is asked in derogation of an inherent natural right recognized in this country by a conetitutional guárante e which protects every citizén - the President as well as the huinblest iti the land- from being made a witnees against himsolf . During the time that I have had the honor to occupy the poRition of President, it hae been, and wbile 1 continue to occupy that posiüon it will continue to be, my earncBt endeavor to rocognize and to respect the sevcral trusts and dutios and powerB of the co-ordinate branches of the Government, not encroaching npon them, nor allowing encroachments upon the proper powera of the office which the people of the United States have confided to me, but aiming to preserve in thcir proper relations the several powers and functions of each of the co-ordinate branches of the Government agreeably to the Constitution and in accordance with thosolemnoath which I have taken to preserve, protect and dof end that instrument. In maintenance of the rights securcd by tho Constitution to the executive branch of the Government, I am coinpclled to decline any specific or do tai led. answer to tho requestof the House for Information as to "any executive officeB, acte or duties, and, if any, what have been performeel at a dintanoc from the seat of Governmeut establiehed by law, and for how long a p;rio(ï at any one time, and in what part of the United States." If, however, the House of Representatives desire to know wiiether, during the pcriod of upward of seven years during which ï have held the of President of the United States, I have been abaent from the seat of Government, and whether dHring that pcriod I have performed, or have ncglected to perform, the duties of my office, .1 freely inform the Houpo that from the time of my entrancc npon my office I havo been in the habit, aa were all of my predecessors, with the exception of one who lived only one month after asmimiiig the duties of his office, and one whose continued presence in Washington was necessary from the existence at the time of a powerf ui rebellion, of absenting myself at times from the Beat of Government, and that duriug such absences I ditl not neglect or forero tho obligations or dutiea of my ottice, but contmued to discharge all of the executive offices, acts, aud duties which were required of me as President of the United States. I am not a ware that a failure occurred in any one instance of my exercising the functions and powers of my office in every case requiring their discharge, or of my exercising all the necessary executive acts in whatever part of the United States I may at the time have Fertunately, rapidity of travel and of mail communicatiou, and the facility of almost instantaneous oorrespondence with officers at the seat of Government which the tolegraph affords to the President in whatovcr eection of tho Union he may be, enable him in these days to maintain as constant and almoet as quick intorcourse with departmenta at Washington as may be maistained while he remains in the capital. The necBsity of the prrformaucn of executive acts by the President of the United States exista and is devolved upou him wherovor ho my be within the Uuitcd States during bis term of office by the Couetitution of the United States. Hls civil powers are no more limited or capable of limitation as to the place where they shall be exercised than are those which he niignt require to discharge in his capacity of (Jominander-Jn-chief of the arniy and navy, which latter powerB it ia evident he migbt be calted upon to exercise possibly even without the limits of the Unitcl States. Had the cfforta of thoae recently in rebfllion against the Government been succo&sful in driving a late President of the United States from Washington, it in manifest that he must have discharged his functions, botb civil and military, olscwhere tban in the place nained by law aa the Beat of Government. No act of Congress can limit, suapend, or confine this constituliunal duty. I am not aware of the existtíiice of any act of Oongress which assumeB thus to limit or restrict the exercise of the functions of the Executive. Woro there such acta, I ehould nevertheleas recognize the auperlor authority 'of the Constitution, and should cxercise the powers required thereby of the President. The act to which reference ia made in the resolution of the House relates to the establishment of a aeat of Government, and the prdTiding of auitable buildings, and the removal thercto of the offices ' tached to tho Government, etc. It was not imderstood at its date, and by Gen. Washington, to confine the President in the discharge of his dnticb and powers to actual presence at the seat of Government. On the 3Eüi of March, 1791, ahortly after the passage of the ;ict referred to, Gen. Washington issued an executive proclamation, having reference to tho subject of thiö very act, from trforfíütowu, a place remoto from 1'hilüdHphia, wliich then 'was the aeat of Government, wherc tho act rferred to directed that " all officerö attaché d to the aeat of Government should for the timo remain." That none of bis snecossors have entertained the idea that thcir executive offices could bc performed only at the seat of govemmeut is evidenced by humlrcds upon hundreds of auch acts performed by my predecessor in tho unhroken ünc from Washington to Jiiiii'oln, 9 memorandum of the goueral nature and character of somo of which acts ib submittod herewíth, and no qxication has been raised as to the vali'lity of thoap acta or to the right and propriety of the Executive to exercise the powers of his offleo in afcy part of the United States. (Signed) U. S. Grant. Washington, May 4, 1876. FBECEDENTS. It will be perceived that the message is dated Washington, without the usual prefix of "ExGcutiye Mansión." Accompanyiug tho message ís a memorandum of absences of presidenta of the United titates from the National Capital during each of the eeverai administrations, and of public and executive acts performed duriug the time of "such absence. Tiiis memorandum contains the following information, and mach more of the same goneral character, only the moot important of the acte recited in the memorandum being selected for mention in this abstract: President Washington was frequently absent from the Capital. He appear to have bcou tb lis absent at least 181 day during kis berm. In Marcb, 1791, tbe seat of Government being then at Philadolphia, be issued a proclamation dated at Georgetown in reference to running a boundary for tbe District oí Columbia. He signod at Mount Vernon an oilicial letter to the Emperor of Mooceo, and from tbe a.alrib rllaco iasubd the .commiBsioh of Olivor Wolrott as Comptroller öf tho Treasnry, and a proclamation respecting tbo whisky inBiinection Ui Pennsylvania ; alao tho proclamation of tbo treaty of 17Ö5 with. Spain, and tlie executive order of August 4, 1792, relativo to dutica on distilled spirits, etc. When at Gerraantown ho signed sundry commissions. He proposed to have Mr. Yrujo officially pr&sented to bim at Moiint Vernon as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary from Spain, and Mr. Yrnjo went tbere for that purpose, but tho ceremony of preBentation waa prevented by an accident - the omiasion of the Minister to bring bis credentials. President John Adams was absent from the capital during bis term of fonr yoars on various occasions 885 dayn. He dischttrged tlie official dntles and pertormed the most solemn public acts at Qilincy, Mass. i in the alimo manner as when at tho seat of Goveinment. Several of them are rccited, and it is also specilied that on tho 28th of September, 1797, he forwarded to the Secrotary of State a commission for a Justico oí tho Siiprome Court, signed in blank at Quincy, with instructions to lili in the name of John Marshall, if he would accept, and if not, that of Bushrod Washington. President Jefferson was absent from the Beat of Government during bis two torms oí office, 796 days, or more than one-f ourth of tho whole official period. He signed and issued from Monticello, among other things, seventy-flve commissions. President Madison was absent 637 daye, and President Monroe was absent 708 days, independent of tho yoar 1824 and two months of 1825, ior which period no data are found. The latter transacted public business wherevor he happened to be, atid sometimos while travellng. President John Q uincy Adams was ab.3flt during hia single term 222 days, and in bis Memoire, vol. VIII., p. 75, speaks of his practice of leaving with bis chief clerk blank papers, signed by bim, to bo used, when neces sary, for proclamations, romission of penalties and commission of consuls. He speaks also o doing tho same tlüng in regard to pateuta and land grants President Jackson was absent from the sea of Government 502 days. Among other im portant acte porformed by him when awav from Washington waa hia signing at Boston the famous order for the removal o deposits from the State banks. Th memorandum at this point rofers to Preei dent Jackson's refusal, in 1883, to f urnish th Sonate a copy of a certain paper alloged to nave been read by him to the Cabinet, and meutions that in January, 1837, he refused to allow a committtee of tno House of Rcprosontatives to make a general inveetigation of the Executive Departments without specific charges, on tho f round, among others, that the use of official ooks and recordB for auch purposes interfere with the discharge of public business. Other presidonta were absent from Washington and performed numerous duties while absent : van Buren, 131 daya ; Tylcr, 163 daya ; Polk, 37 daya ; Taylor, 31 days ; Fillmore, 60 days Pierce, 57 daya ; Buchanan, 51 days. Ño mention ia made of the absences of Presidenta Lincoln or Johnson.


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