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vessels for the transportation to a market of our surplus products, thus increasing the balance of trade against us to this amount, the subject is one worthy of your serious consideration.
"Cheap transportation" is a subject that has attracted the attention cf both producers and consumers for the past few years, and has con. tributed to, if it has not been the direct cause of, the recent panic and stringency.
As Congress, at its last session, appointed a special committee to investigate this whole subject during the vacation and report at this session, I have nothing to recommend until their report is read.
There is one work, however, of a national character, in which the greater portion of the East and the West, the North and the South, are equally interested, to which I will invite your attention.
The State of New York has a canal connecting Lake Erie with tide water on the Hudson River. The State of Illinois has a similar work connecting Lake Michigan with navigable water on the Illinois River, thus making water communication inland between the East and the West and South. These great artificiai water courses are the property of the States through which they pass, and pay toll to those States. Would it not be wise statesmanship to pledge these States that if they will open these canals for the passage of large vessels the General Government will look after and keep in navigable condition the great public highways with which they connect, to wit, the Overslaugh on the Hudson, the St. Clair Flats, and the Illinois and Mississippi rivers? This would be a national work; one of great value to the producers of the West and South in giving them cheap transportation for their produce to the sea board and a market, and to the consumers in the East in giving them cheaper food, particularly of those articles of food which do not find a foreign market, and the prices of which, therefore, are not regulated by foreign demands. The advantages of such a work are too obvious for argument. I submit the subject to you, therefore, without further comment.
In attempting to regain our lost commerce and carrying trade I have heretofore called attention to the States south of us offering a field where much might be accomplished. To further this object I suggest that a small appropriation be made, accompanied with authority for the Secre. tary of the Navy to fit out a naval vessel to ascend the Amazon River to the mouth of the Madeira; thence to explore that river and its tributaries into Bolivia, and to report to Congress at its next session, or as soon as practicable, the accessibility of the country by water, its resources, and the population so reached. Such an exploration would cost but little; it can do no harm, and may result in establishing a trade of value to both nations.
In further connection with the Treasury Department I would recommend a revision and codification of the tariff laws and the opening of more mints for coining money, with authority to coin for such nations as may apply.
The attention of Congress is invited to the recommendations contained in the report of the Secretary of War herewith accompanyiụg.
The apparent great cost of supporting the Army is fully explained by this report, and I hope will receive your attention.
While inviting your general attention to all the recommendations made by the Secretary of War, there are two which I would especially invite you to consider: First, the importance of preparing for war in time of peace by providing proper armament for our seacoast defenses. Proper armament is of vastly more importance than fortifications. The latter can be supplied very speedily for temporary purposes when needed; the former can not. The second is the necessity of reopening promotion in the staff corps of the Army. Particularly is this necessity felt in the Medical, Pay, and Ordnance departments.
At this time it is necessary to employ "contract surgeons" to supply the necessary medical attendance required by the Army. .
With the present force of the Pay Department it is now difficult to make the payments to troops provided for by law. Long delays in payments are productive of desertions and other demoralization, and the law prohibits the payment of troops by other than regular army paymasters.
There are now sixteen vacaricies in the Ordnance Department, thus leaving that branch of the service without sufficient officers to conduct the business of the different arsenals on a large scale if ever required.
During the past year o'r Navy has been depleted by the sale of some vessels no longer fit for naval service and by the condemnation of others not yet disposed of. This, however, has been more than compensated for by the repair of six of the old wooden ships and by the building of eight new sloops of war, authorized by the last Congress. The building of these latter has occurred at a doubly fortunate time. They are about being completed at a time when they may possibly be much needed, and the work upon them has not only given direct employment to thousands of men, but has no doubt been the means of keeping open establishments for other work at a time of great financial distress.
Since the commencement of the last month, however, the distressing occurrences which have taken place in the waters of the Caribbean Sea, almost on our very seaboard, while they illustrate most forcibly the necessity always existing that a nation situated like ours should maintain in a state of possible efficiency a navy adequate to its responsibilities, has at the same time demanded that all the effective force we really have shall be put in immediate readiness for warlike service. This has been and is being done promptly and effectively, and I am assured that all the available ships and every authorized man of the American Navy will be ready for whatever action is required for the safety of our citizens or the maintenance of our honor. This, of course, will require the expenditure in a short time of some of the appropriations which were calculated to extend through the fiscal year, but Congress will, I doubt not, understand and appreciate the emergency, and will provide adequately not only for the present preparation, but for the future maintenance of our naval force. The Secretary of the Navy has during the past year been quietly putting some of our most effective monitors in condition for service, and thus the exigency finds us in a much better condition for work than we could possibly have been without his action.
A complete exhibit is presented in the accompanying report of the Postmaster-General of the operations of the Post-Office Department during the year. The ordinary postal revenues for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1873, amounted to $22,996,741.57, and the expenditures of all kinds to $29,084:945.67.
The increase of revenues over 1872 was $1,081,315.20, and the increase of expenditures $2,426,753.36.
Independent of the payments made from special appropriations for mail steamship lines, the amount drawn from the General Treasury to meet deficiencies was $5,265,475. The constant and rapid extension of our postal service, particularly upon railways, and the improved facilities for the collection, transmission, distribution, and delivery of the mails which are constantly being provided account for the increased expenditures of this popular branch of the public service.
The total number of post-offices in operation on June 30, 1873, was 33,244, a net increase of 1,381 over the number reported the preceding year. The number of Presidential offices was 1,363, an increase of 163 during the year. The total length of railroad mail routes at the close of the year was 63,457 miles, an increase of 5,546 miles over the year 1872. Fifty-nine railway post office lines were in operation June 30, 1873, extending over 14,866 miles of railroad routes and performing an aggregate service of 34,925 miles daily.
The number of letters exchanged with foreign countries was 27,459,- , 185, an increase of 3,096,685 over the previous year, and the postage thereon amounted to $2,021,310.86. The total weight of correspondence exchanged in the mails with European countries exceeded 912 tons, an increase of 92 tons over the previous year. The total cost of the United States ocean steamship service, including $725,000 paid from special appropriations to subsidized lines of mail steamers, was $1,047,271.35.
New or additional postal conventions have been concluded with Sweden, Norway, Belgium, Germany, Canada, Newfoundland, and Japan,