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interests of others may suggest. They do not admit that the sovereigns of one continent, or of a particular community of states, can legislate for all others.
Leaving the trans-atlantic nations to adjust their political system in the way they may think best for their common welfare, the inde pendent powers of this continent may well assert the right to be exempt from all annoying interference on their part. Systematic abstinence from intimate political connexion with distant foreign nations, does not conflict with giving the widest range to our foreign commerce. This distinction, so clearly marked in history, seems to have been overlooked, or disregarded, by some leading foreign states. Our refusal to be brought within, and subjected to, their peculiar system, has, I fear, created a jealous distrust of our conduct, and induced, on their part, occasional acts of disturbing effect upon our foreign relations. Our present attitude and past course give assurances, which should not be questioned, that our purposes are not aggressive, nor threatening to the safety and welfare of other nations. Our military establishment, in time of peace, is adapted to maintain exterior defences, and to preserve order among the aboriginal tribes within the limits of the Union. Our naval force is intended only for the protection of our citizens abroad, and of our commerce, diffused, as it is, over all the seas of the globe. The government of the United States, being essentially pacific in policy, stands prepared to repel invasion by the voluntary service of a patriotic people, and provides no permanent means of foreign aggression. These considerations should allay all apprehension that we are disposed to encroach on the rights, or endanger the security, of other states.
Some European powers have regarded with disquieting concern the territorial expansion of the United States. This rapid growth has resulted from the legitimate exercise of sovereign rights, belonging alike to all nations, and by many liberally exercised. Under such circumstances, it could hardly have been expected that those among them which have, within a comparatively recent period, subdued and absorbed ancient kingdoms, planted their standards on every continent, and now possess, or claim the control of, the islands of every ocean as their appropriate domain, would look with unfriendly sentiments upon the acquisitions of this country, in every instance honorably obtained, or would feel themselves justified in imputing our advancement to a spirit of aggression or to a passion for political predominance.
Our foreign commerce has reached a magnitude and extent nearly equal to that of the first maritime power of the earth, and exceeding that of any other. Over this great interest, in which not only our merchants, but all classes of citizens, at least indirectly, are concerned, it is the duty of the executive and legislative branches of the government to exercise a careful supervision, and adopt proper measures for its protection. The policy which I have had in view, in regard to this interest, embraces its future as well as its present security.
Long experience has shown that, in general, when the principal powers of Europe are engaged in war, the rights of neutral nations are endangered. This consideration led, in the progress of the war of