1790 State of the Union Address
January 8, 1790
FELLOW-CITIZENS OF THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF
I embrace with great satisfaction the opportunity, which
now presents itself, of congratulating you on the present
favorable prospects of our public affairs. The recent accession
of the important State of North Carolina to the constitution
of the United States (of which official information has
been received), the rising credit and respectability of
our country, and the general and increasing good will towards
the government of the Union, and the concord, peace, and
plenty, with which we are blessed, are circumstances auspicious,
in an eminent degree, to our national prosperity.
In resuming your consultations for the general good, you
cannot but derive encouragement from the reflection, that
the measures of the last session have been as satisfactory
to your constituents, as the novelty and difficulty of
the work allowed you to hope. Still further to realize
their expectations, and to secure the blessings, which
a gracious Providence has placed within our reach, will,
in the course of the present important session, call for
the cool and deliberate exertion of your patriotism, firmness,
Among the many interesting objects, which will engage
your attention, that of providing for the common defense
will merit particular regard. To be prepared for war is
one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.
A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined;
to which end a uniform and well-digested plan is requisite;
and their safety and interest require, that they should
promote such manufactories as tend to render them independent
on others for essential, particularly for military supplies.
The proper establishment of the troops, which may be deemed
indispensable, will be entitled to mature consideration.
In the arrangements which may be made respecting it, it
will be of importance to conciliate the comfortable support
of the officers and soldiers with a due regard to economy.
There was reason to hope, that the pacific measures, adopted
with regard to certain hostile tribes of Indians, would
have relieved the inhabitants of our southern and western
frontiers from their depredations. But you will perceive,
from the information contained in the papers, which I shall
direct to be laid before you, (comprehending a communication
from the commonwealth of Virginia,) that we ought to be
prepared to afford protection to those parts of the Union,
and, if necessary, to punish aggressors.
The interest of the United States requires, that our intercourse
with other nations should be facilitated by such provisions
as will enable me to fulfill my duty in that respect, in
the manner which circumstances may render most conducive
to the public good; and, to this end, that the compensations,
to be made to the persons who may be employed, should,
according to the nature of their appointments, be defined
by law, and a competent fund designated for defraying the
expenses incident to the conduct of our foreign affairs.
Various considerations also render it expedient, that
the terms, on which foreigners may be admitted to the rights
of citizens, should be speedily ascertained by a uniform
rule of naturalization.
Uniformity in the currency, weights, and measures of the
United States is an object of great importance, and will,
I am persuaded, be duly attended to.
The advancement of agriculture, commerce, and manufactures,
by all proper means, will not, I trust, need recommendation.
But I cannot forbear intimating to you the expediency of
giving effectual encouragement, as well to the introduction
of new and useful inventions from abroad, as to the exertions
of skill and genius in producing them at home; and of facilitating
the intercourse between the distant parts of our country
by a due attention to the post-office and post-roads.
Nor am I less persuaded, that you will agree with me in
opinion, that there is nothing which can better deserve
your patronage than the promotion of science and literature.
Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public
happiness. In one, in which the measures of government
receive their impression so immediately from the sense
of the community, as in ours, it is proportionately essential.
To the security of a free constitution it contributes in
various ways; by convincing those who are entrusted with
the public administration, that every valuable end of government
is best answered by the enlightened confidence of the people;
and by teaching the people themselves to know, and to value
their own rights; to discern and provide against invasions
of them; to distinguish between oppression and the necessary
exercise of lawful authority, between burdens proceeding
from a disregard to their convenience and those resulting
from the inevitable exigencies of society; to discriminate
the spirit of liberty from that of licentiousness, cherishing
the first, avoiding the last, and uniting a speedy but
temperate vigilance against encroachments, with an inviolable
respect to the laws.
Whether this desirable object will be the best promoted
by affording aids to seminaries of learning already established,
by the institution of a national university, or by any
other expedients, will be well worthy of a place in the
deliberations of the legislature.
GENTLEMEN OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
I saw with peculiar pleasure, at the close of the last
session, the resolution entered into by you, expressive
of your opinion, that an adequate provision for the support
of the public credit is a matter of high importance to
the national honor and prosperity. In this sentiment I
entirely concur. And to a perfect confidence in your best
endeavours to devise such a provision as will be truly
consistent with the end, I add an equal reliance on the
cheerful cooperation of the other branch of the legislature.
It would be superfluous to specify inducements to a measure,
in which the character and permanent interests of the United
States are so obviously and so deeply concerned, and which
has received so explicit a sanction from your declaration.
GENTLEMEN OF THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
I have directed the proper officers to lay before you
respectively such papers and estimates as regard the affairs
particularly recommended to your consideration, and necessary
to convey to you that information of the state of the Union,
which it is my duty to afford.
The welfare of our country is the great object to which
our cares and efforts ought to be directed; and I shall
derive great satisfaction from a cooperation with you in
the pleasing though arduous task of insuring to our fellow-citizens
the blessings, which they have a right to expect from a
free, efficient, and equal government.