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country, for persisting in the prosecution of their predatory wars, on which they have so long depended for livelihood, yet for the present it is a very highly gratifying fact that peace so generally prevails within our borders, and that the aborigines are manifestly increasing in their respect for, and loyalty to this Government; and are encouragingly progressing in those principles of civilization that are destined to elevate them to social and religious blessings, as well as to national greatness.
During the month of March, I sent up a surveyor to lay out the city of Robertsport, who returned in the month of May with a certificate from the General Superintendent, stating that 416 lots had been laid off. I am happy to say, that about 100 of the immigrants by the Elvira Owen were landed there early in September, under the supervision of the Rev. John Seys, Special Agent of the American Colonization Society, and one of the fine commodious receptacles brought out by the same vessel has been erected at that place for the accommodation of successive companies of immigrants. The volunteers and immigrants have drawn their town lots, and are praiseworthily converting that wilderness into civilized habitations. I know of no seaboard settlement in Liberia possessing more and greater advantages. As it was deemed advisable that the farms be apportioned of lands up the country, which can be reached by ascending the bay and river, I have deferred their assignment until such time as the present settlement shall have acquired sufficient numerical force for self-protection; meanwhile there is sufficient public land contiguous to Robertsport that the settlers can cultivate for the present with more convenience, profit, and safety.
I beg to invite your attention to the propriety of making suitable provisions for the administration and government of the local affairs at Cape Mount.
In case you are pleased to constitute it a distinct county, in compliance with the petition of its inhabitants, and will invest it with the usual county officers and organizations, then my duty will be plain ; but should it not be made a separate county, then it will be necessary for you to make special provisions for the administration and government of their local affairs, so as to obviate in some degree the great inconvenience and expense that would in such case result from their being so distant from the county seat, and the poor facilities for communication and transportation. In either case, I advise that you constitute Robertsport a port of entry and delivery.
The Rev. John Seys, well known as a devoted Christian missionary for a long time in Liberia, arrived in the ship Elvira Owen in the month of August, as Special Agent of the American Colonization Society; and among other important duties, he is charged with the mission, by permission of this Government, of making explora(1856–57. XLVII.]
tion in the interior, for the purpose of selecting a suitable locality for the formation of an interior settlement, with a view of testing the comparative healthiness of our seaboard and interior in the acclimation of immigrants. This laudable enterprise was originated some years ago, by the New Jersey Colonization Society; but circumstances have prevented its prosecution hitherto. I am sanguine that its prosecution under well considered and judicious provisions meets your cordial approbation; and as this Government has not as yet, to my knowledge, formally signified its concurrence in the measure, I beg to invite your attention to it at this session. I have already advised the Society of the propriety of a sufficient expenditure by them, in order to provide adequately for the security of said settlement. I shall be pleased to carry out any recommendation of yours in this matter.
I beg to invite your attention, at any early day of your session, to the communication of the 19th of April, 1855, addressed to the President of this Republic by Governor Wright, President of the State Board of Colonization of Indiana, in reference to their procurement of land in Liberia at a fixed prico, for the purpose
of making additional grants to immigrants from that State, to the quantity of land allowed immigrants by the existing laws of Liberia, as also soliciting information on other important matters connected with the future operations of said Society. As the operations of the Board have no doubt been retarded in consequence of your action on that communication not having been consummated at your last session, and as a reply will be awaited with some anxiety, at an early day after this commencement of your session, I beg that you will give it your earliest attention.
I have also to invite your attention to the matter in dispute between the ex-Collector of Customs of this port and Captain Josiah Webber, of Salem, Massachusetts, United States of America, in reference to an amount of duties he was required to pay on a quantity of ardent spirits landed in this Republic after the 1st day of May, 1855, on which he claims to have paid duties previously, under the operation of the law immediately preceding that date; and he now asks a refundment of the last amount paid; and as this can be done only by a special act of yours, I believe that the subject will receive such attention and action as justice demands. As this matter was submitted to you at the last session, and remains among the unfinished business, you are in possession of the documents connected therewith.
In the month of August, there were furnished by the Secretary of State to Her Britannic Majesty's Government, on official application, the tariff of this Republic, also the value of the different foreign coins circulating within the same. The latter, in the
absence of any statute fixing their value, were based upon usage. I advise the regulation of their value within this Republic by law at this session, so as to secure a legal uniformity in their valuation throughout the State. I also beg, that you will constitute the copper coin, procured by this Government partly through the beneficence of the late lamented S. Gurney, Esq., a legal tender of this Republic; and that you will authorize the issue and circulation of such an amount of the engraved bills of this Republic as you may deem accordant with a sound policy under existing circumstances.
I have to call your attention to the “ Bounty Land Bill,” which passed both houses nearly at the close of your last session; the which, from some objectionable features and provisious, was not approved. Without adverting to all I consider objectionable in it, I will simply invite your attention to the fact, that the Act actually places it out of the power of its intended beneficiaries to dispose of their bounty lands, in case they wish to do s0; which I cannot believe to have been the intention of the framers of the Bill, but was an oversight, through the great pressure and hurry at the time of its passage. This feature would render at least two-thirds of the claims entirely unavailing to the claimants, for reasons too manifest to need mentioning here. I beg, therefore, your reconsideration of the Bill, and that you make such amendments as will carry out more satisfactorily the very commendable object contemplated.
I have also to recommend the passage of a law defining citizenship of this Republic; that is, as to what shall constitute one a citizen of this Republic, as well as making provisions for carrying the same into effect. The passage of such a law should not be delayed longer, if we would obviate serious difficulties not only among ourselves but with foreign Powers ; a warning against which We have had this year in the attempt of the notorious A. T. Woods.
I have to further recommend, that you so amend the Act entitled " An Act authorizing the appointment of Surveyors for each County, and defining their Duties," approved January 30th, 1855, as to require persons who may order land surveyed through the Land Commissioner, to pay the expense of surveying the same, provided the person thus ordering does not appear and have the said land sold at the succeeding quarterly court, and that the Land Commissioners be authorized to adopt such measures as will insure its prompt and immediate collection.
The increase of cases of larceny within the Republic the last two years manifestly proves that the statutory provisions made for its punishment, approved January 9th, 1854, are not sufficiently stringent. The bare requisition of four-fold if detected, will likely always prove a temptation to the committal of such acts by the dishonest, acute speculator. If the thief can satisfy himself that the chances of his escape are good for five out of six, he will be encouraged to prosecute the business for a livelihood. It is highly important, Gentlemen, that the law at once be made more effective, so as to timely check this growing evil.
I have to request your authorization of the appointment of one or more discreet persons in each county, whose duty it shall be to hear and determine such native complaints and misunderstandings as are usually referred to the Chief Executive ; and that you define the duties and jurisdiction of these officers, as well as the compensation of such of them as may not be the regularly appointed general superintendents of counties. And as the aborigines living adjacent to our settlements perform no public duty, nor contribute otherwise directly to the support of the Government, and as they claim and receive the protection of this Government, which on an average spends thousands of dollars annually, settling their misunderstandings one with another, and in affording them protection, I therefore recommend that a reasonable tax be imposed on them to assist in defraying these expenses, and that you define and authorize the organization of a system that will promptly and effectually secure the desired object.
Gentlemen, I have also to invite your attention, in a somewhat cursory manner, to the propriety of making the following amendments and additions to the Judiciary Code. I deem it unnecessary to offer any arguments in commendation of them, as they will no doubt readily commend themselves to your experienced and discriminating judgments.
let. A law defining the method by which suits shall be brought against this Government. Vide 17th section of the Bill of Rights.
2nd. A law of descent, or hereditary succession.
3rd. A law requiring, within a given time, the public record of conveyances, and other documents involving title to land, in order to their validity.
4th. A law providing for a more efficient organization of the Militia of this Republic.
It affords me great pleasure to communicate to you, that nothing has occurred during the year to interrupt the tranquillity of our foreign relations; and so far as I am cognizant, the most friendly feelings subsist between this Government and all nations. This very desirable state of things has been greatly contributed to by the very commendable deportment of the foreign functionaries residing in the Republic, who, while they have zealously guarded the interest of their respective Governments, have so demeaned themselves as to have secured the confidence, respect, and best feelings of this Government.
In the month of June, Dr. J. Z. Forney, Esq., arrived in this city, bearing a commission of United States' Commercial Agent for Monrovia and parts adjacent, and was received by this Government in the month of July, after the requisite correspondence and understanding were had with him. Any further information, Gentlemen, Tou may require with respect to this matter will be duly laid
I have the pleasure of informing you, that ratifications of the Hanseatic Treaty were exchanged in London by G. Ralston, Esq., on behalf of this Government, on the 13th of May, copies of which have been duly received at the State Department.
In the month of April last, the Hon. J. J. Roberts, intending to make a visit to Europe, was commissioned Chargé d'Affaires of this Government, accredited near the Court of His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of France; and having been duly recognized by that magnanimous nation was enabled through bis efficient ministry to nake such representations of the character, object, and claiins of this infant Republic, as could not fail to make a true and favourable impression.
His Majesty, true to that magnanimity and benevolence that hare hitherto characterized his reign, entertained up to the date of the last advices from our Minister, his wonted feelings of friendship towards this infant Republic, and evinced a disposition to contribute to its welfare.
The special duties with which our Minister was charged, were to exchange ratifications of the French Treaty, to procure of the French Government the gift of the promised small vessel of war, and to adjust and settle the claims of our Consul-General at Paris. I regret that he has not been able to consummate the prosecution of all these duties timely for me to make full report to you of the issue at this commencement of your session.
I have the gratification, however, of informing you that he succeeded in settling the claims made on this Government by our Consul-General at Paris by the payment of 250 dollars in addition to the 1000 dollars appropriated for that purpose at your last session, of which I beg your approval. Through the kindness of Mr. Woermann, of Hamburgh, the 1000 uniforms presented by the French Government have been shipped for this city and are daily expected
I am happy to inform you that on the arrival of the Elvira Owen I received, through the agency of the American Colonization Society, a valuable library, with surgical instruments and human skeleton, (constituting nine cases,) which were bequeathed to this Republic by the late lamented Dr. Kittredge, of Portsmouth, N. H., who, I learn, bas been Liberia's unswerving friend for many years. This