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William McKinley

First Inaugural Address

Thursday, March 4, 1897


IN obedience to the will of the people, and in their presence, by the
authority vested in me by this oath, I assume the arduous and
responsible duties of President of the United States, relying upon the
support of my countrymen and invoking the guidance of Almighty God. Our
faith teaches that there is no safer reliance than upon the God of our
fathers, who has so singularly favored the American people in every
national trial, and who will not forsake us so long as we obey His
commandments and walk humbly in His footsteps.

The responsibilities of the high trust to which I have been
called--always of grave importance--are augmented by the prevailing
business conditions entailing idleness upon willing labor and loss to
useful enterprises. The country is suffering from industrial
disturbances from which speedy relief must be had. Our financial system
needs some revision; our money is all good now, but its value must not
further be threatened. It should all be put upon an enduring basis, not
subject to easy attack, nor its stability to doubt or dispute. Our
currency should continue under the supervision of the Government. The
several forms of our paper money offer, in my judgment, a constant
embarrassment to the Government and a safe balance in the Treasury.
Therefore I believe it necessary to devise a system which, without
diminishing the circulating medium or offering a premium for its
contraction, will present a remedy for those arrangements which,
temporary in their nature, might well in the years of our prosperity
have been displaced by wiser provisions. With adequate revenue secured,
but not until then, we can enter upon such changes in our fiscal laws as
will, while insuring safety and volume to our money, no longer impose
upon the Government the necessity of maintaining so large a gold
reserve, with its attendant and inevitable temptations to speculation.
Most of our financial laws are the outgrowth of experience and trial,
and should not be amended without investigation and demonstration of the
wisdom of the proposed changes. We must be both "sure we are right" and
"make haste slowly." If, therefore, Congress, in its wisdom, shall deem
it expedient to create a commission to take under early consideration
the revision of our coinage, banking and currency laws, and give them
that exhaustive, careful and dispassionate examination that their
importance demands, I shall cordially concur in such action. If such
power is vested in the President, it is my purpose to appoint a
commission of prominent, well-informed citizens of different parties,
who will command public confidence, both on account of their ability and
special fitness for the work. Business experience and public training
may thus be combined, and the patriotic zeal of the friends of the
country be so directed that such a report will be made as to receive the
support of all parties, and our finances cease to be the subject of mere
partisan contention. The experiment is, at all events, worth a trial,
and, in my opinion, it can but prove beneficial to the entire country.

The question of international bimetallism will have early and earnest
attention. It will be my constant endeavor to secure it by co-operation
with the other great commercial powers of the world. Until that
condition is realized when the parity between our gold and silver money
springs from and is supported by the relative value of the two metals,
the value of the silver already coined and of that which may hereafter
be coined, must be kept constantly at par with gold by every resource at
our command. The credit of the Government, the integrity of its
currency, and the inviolability of its obligations must be preserved.
This was the commanding verdict of the people, and it will not be

Economy is demanded in every branch of the Government at all times, but
especially in periods, like the present, of depression in business and
distress among the people. The severest economy must be observed in all
public expenditures, and extravagance stopped wherever it is found, and
prevented wherever in the future it may be developed. If the revenues
are to remain as now, the only relief that can come must be from
decreased expenditures. But the present must not become the permanent
condition of the Government. It has been our uniform practice to retire,
not increase our outstanding obligations, and this policy must again be
resumed and vigorously enforced. Our revenues should always be large
enough to meet with ease and promptness not only our current needs and
the principal and interest of the public debt, but to make proper and
liberal provision for that most deserving body of public creditors, the
soldiers and sailors and the widows and orphans who are the pensioners
of the United States.

The Government should not be permitted to run behind or increase its
debt in times like the present. Suitably to provide against this is the
mandate of duty--the certain and easy remedy for most of our financial
difficulties. A deficiency is inevitable so long as the expenditures of
the Government exceed its receipts. It can only be met by loans or an
increased revenue. While a large annual surplus of revenue may invite
waste and extravagance, inadequate revenue creates distrust and
undermines public and private credit. Neither should be encouraged.
Between more loans and more revenue there ought to be but one opinion.
We should have more revenue, and that without delay, hindrance, or
postponement. A surplus in the Treasury created by loans is not a
permanent or safe reliance. It will suffice while it lasts, but it can
not last long while the outlays of the Government are greater than its
receipts, as has been the case during the past two years. Nor must it be
forgotten that however much such loans may temporarily relieve the
situation, the Government is still indebted for the amount of the
surplus thus accrued, which it must ultimately pay, while its ability to
pay is not strengthened, but weakened by a continued deficit. Loans are
imperative in great emergencies to preserve the Government or its
credit, but a failure to supply needed revenue in time of peace for the
maintenance of either has no justification.

The best way for the Government to maintain its credit is to pay as it
goes--not by resorting to loans, but by keeping out of debt--through an
adequate income secured by a system of taxation, external or internal,
or both. It is the settled policy of the Government, pursued from the
beginning and practiced by all parties and Administrations, to raise the
bulk of our revenue from taxes upon foreign productions entering the
United States for sale and consumption, and avoiding, for the most part,
every form of direct taxation, except in time of war. The country is
clearly opposed to any needless additions to the subject of internal
taxation, and is committed by its latest popular utterance to the system
of tariff taxation. There can be no misunderstanding, either, about the
principle upon which this tariff taxation shall be levied. Nothing has
ever been made plainer at a general election than that the controlling
principle in the raising of revenue from duties on imports is zealous
care for American interests and American labor. The people have declared
that such legislation should be had as will give ample protection and
encouragement to the industries and the development of our country. It
is, therefore, earnestly hoped and expected that Congress will, at the
earliest practicable moment, enact revenue legislation that shall be
fair, reasonable, conservative, and just, and which, while supplying
sufficient revenue for public purposes, will still be signally
beneficial and helpful to every section and every enterprise of the
people. To this policy we are all, of whatever party, firmly bound by
the voice of the people--a power vastly more potential than the
expression of any political platform. The paramount duty of Congress is
to stop deficiencies by the restoration of that protective legislation
which has always been the firmest prop of the Treasury. The passage of
such a law or laws would strengthen the credit of the Government both at
home and abroad, and go far toward stopping the drain upon the gold
reserve held for the redemption of our currency, which has been heavy
and well-nigh constant for several years.

In the revision of the tariff especial attention should be given to the
re-enactment and extension of the reciprocity principle of the law of
1890, under which so great a stimulus was given to our foreign trade in
new and advantageous markets for our surplus agricultural and
manufactured products. The brief trial given this legislation amply
justifies a further experiment and additional discretionary power in the
making of commercial treaties, the end in view always to be the opening
up of new markets for the products of our country, by granting
concessions to the products of other lands that we need and cannot
produce ourselves, and which do not involve any loss of labor to our own
people, but tend to increase their employment.

The depression of the past four years has fallen with especial severity
upon the great body of toilers of the country, and upon none more than
the holders of small farms. Agriculture has languished and labor
suffered. The revival of manufacturing will be a relief to both. No
portion of our population is more devoted to the institution of free
government nor more loyal in their support, while none bears more
cheerfully or fully its proper share in the maintenance of the
Government or is better entitled to its wise and liberal care and
protection. Legislation helpful to producers is beneficial to all. The
depressed condition of industry on the farm and in the mine and factory
has lessened the ability of the people to meet the demands upon them,
and they rightfully expect that not only a system of revenue shall be
established that will secure the largest income with the least burden,
but that every means will be taken to decrease, rather than increase,
our public expenditures. Business conditions are not the most promising.
It will take time to restore the prosperity of former years. If we
cannot promptly attain it, we can resolutely turn our faces in that
direction and aid its return by friendly legislation. However
troublesome the situation may appear, Congress will not, I am sure, be
found lacking in disposition or ability to relieve it as far as
legislation can do so. The restoration of confidence and the revival of
business, which men of all parties so much desire, depend more largely
upon the prompt, energetic, and intelligent action of Congress than upon
any other single agency affecting the situation.

It is inspiring, too, to remember that no great emergency in the one
hundred and eight years of our eventful national life has ever arisen
that has not been met with wisdom and courage by the American people,
with fidelity to their best interests and highest destiny, and to the
honor of the American name. These years of glorious history have exalted
mankind and advanced the cause of freedom throughout the world, and
immeasurably strengthened the precious free institutions which we enjoy.
The people love and will sustain these institutions. The great essential
to our happiness and prosperity is that we adhere to the principles upon
which the Government was established and insist upon their faithful
observance. Equality of rights must prevail, and our laws be always and
everywhere respected and obeyed. We may have failed in the discharge of
our full duty as citizens of the great Republic, but it is consoling and
encouraging to realize that free speech, a free press, free thought,
free schools, the free and unmolested right of religious liberty and
worship, and free and fair elections are dearer and more universally
enjoyed to-day than ever before. These guaranties must be sacredly
preserved and wisely strengthened. The constituted authorities must be
cheerfully and vigorously upheld. Lynchings must not be tolerated in a
great and civilized country like the United States; courts, not mobs,
must execute the penalties of the law. The preservation of public order,
the right of discussion, the integrity of courts, and the orderly
administration of justice must continue forever the rock of safety upon
which our Government securely rests.

One of the lessons taught by the late election, which all can rejoice
in, is that the citizens of the United States are both law-respecting
and law-abiding people, not easily swerved from the path of patriotism
and honor. This is in entire accord with the genius of our institutions,
and but emphasizes the advantages of inculcating even a greater love for
law and order in the future. Immunity should be granted to none who
violate the laws, whether individuals, corporations, or communities; and
as the Constitution imposes upon the President the duty of both its own
execution, and of the statutes enacted in pursuance of its provisions, I
shall endeavor carefully to carry them into effect. The declaration of
the party now restored to power has been in the past that of "opposition
to all combinations of capital organized in trusts, or otherwise, to
control arbitrarily the condition of trade among our citizens," and it
has supported "such legislation as will prevent the execution of all
schemes to oppress the people by undue charges on their supplies, or by
unjust rates for the transportation of their products to the market."
This purpose will be steadily pursued, both by the enforcement of the
laws now in existence and the recommendation and support of such new
statutes as may be necessary to carry it into effect.

Our naturalization and immigration laws should be further improved to
the constant promotion of a safer, a better, and a higher citizenship. A
grave peril to the Republic would be a citizenship too ignorant to
understand or too vicious to appreciate the great value and beneficence
of our institutions and laws, and against all who come here to make war
upon them our gates must be promptly and tightly closed. Nor must we be
unmindful of the need of improvement among our own citizens, but with
the zeal of our forefathers encourage the spread of knowledge and free
education. Illiteracy must be banished from the land if we shall attain
that high destiny as the foremost of the enlightened nations of the
world which, under Providence, we ought to achieve.

Reforms in the civil service must go on; but the changes should be real
and genuine, not perfunctory, or prompted by a zeal in behalf of any
party simply because it happens to be in power. As a member of Congress
I voted and spoke in favor of the present law, and I shall attempt its
enforcement in the spirit in which it was enacted. The purpose in view
was to secure the most efficient service of the best men who would
accept appointment under the Government, retaining faithful and devoted
public servants in office, but shielding none, under the authority of
any rule or custom, who are inefficient, incompetent, or unworthy. The
best interests of the country demand this, and the people heartily
approve the law wherever and whenever it has been thus administrated.

Congress should give prompt attention to the restoration of our American
merchant marine, once the pride of the seas in all the great ocean
highways of commerce. To my mind, few more important subjects so
imperatively demand its intelligent consideration. The United States has
progressed with marvelous rapidity in every field of enterprise and
endeavor until we have become foremost in nearly all the great lines of
inland trade, commerce, and industry. Yet, while this is true, our
American merchant marine has been steadily declining until it is now
lower, both in the percentage of tonnage and the number of vessels
employed, than it was prior to the Civil War. Commendable progress has
been made of late years in the upbuilding of the American Navy, but we
must supplement these efforts by providing as a proper consort for it a
merchant marine amply sufficient for our own carrying trade to foreign
countries. The question is one that appeals both to our business
necessities and the patriotic aspirations of a great people.

It has been the policy of the United States since the foundation of the
Government to cultivate relations of peace and amity with all the
nations of the world, and this accords with my conception of our duty
now. We have cherished the policy of non-interference with affairs of
foreign governments wisely inaugurated by Washington, keeping ourselves
free from entanglement, either as allies or foes, content to leave
undisturbed with them the settlement of their own domestic concerns. It
will be our aim to pursue a firm and dignified foreign policy, which
shall be just, impartial, ever watchful of our national honor, and
always insisting upon the enforcement of the lawful rights of American
citizens everywhere. Our diplomacy should seek nothing more and accept
nothing less than is due us. We want no wars of conquest; we must avoid
the temptation of territorial aggression. War should never be entered
upon until every agency of peace has failed; peace is preferable to war
in almost every contingency. Arbitration is the true method of
settlement of international as well as local or individual differences.
It was recognized as the best means of adjustment of differences between
employers and employees by the Forty-ninth Congress, in 1886, and its
application was extended to our diplomatic relations by the unanimous
concurrence of the Senate and House of the Fifty-first Congress in 1890.
The latter resolution was accepted as the basis of negotiations with us
by the British House of Commons in 1893, and upon our invitation a
treaty of arbitration between the United States and Great Britain was
signed at Washington and transmitted to the Senate for its ratification
in January last. Since this treaty is clearly the result of our own
initiative; since it has been recognized as the leading feature of our
foreign policy throughout our entire national history--the adjustment of
difficulties by judicial methods rather than force of arms--and since it
presents to the world the glorious example of reason and peace, not
passion and war, controlling the relations between two of the greatest
nations in the world, an example certain to be followed by others, I
respectfully urge the early action of the Senate thereon, not merely as
a matter of policy, but as a duty to mankind. The importance and moral
influence of the ratification of such a treaty can hardly be
overestimated in the cause of advancing civilization. It may well engage
the best thought of the statesmen and people of every country, and I
cannot but consider it fortunate that it was reserved to the United
States to have the leadership in so grand a work.

It has been the uniform practice of each President to avoid, as far as
possible, the convening of Congress in extraordinary session. It is an
example which, under ordinary circumstances and in the absence of a
public necessity, is to be commended. But a failure to convene the
representatives of the people in Congress in extra session when it
involves neglect of a public duty places the responsibility of such
neglect upon the Executive himself. The condition of the public
Treasury, as has been indicated, demands the immediate consideration of
Congress. It alone has the power to provide revenues for the Government.
Not to convene it under such circumstances I can view in no other sense
than the neglect of a plain duty. I do not sympathize with the sentiment
that Congress in session is dangerous to our general business interests.
Its members are the agents of the people, and their presence at the seat
of Government in the execution of the sovereign will should not operate
as an injury, but a benefit. There could be no better time to put the
Government upon a sound financial and economic basis than now. The
people have only recently voted that this should be done, and nothing is
more binding upon the agents of their will than the obligation of
immediate action. It has always seemed to me that the postponement of
the meeting of Congress until more than a year after it has been chosen
deprived Congress too often of the inspiration of the popular will and
the country of the corresponding benefits. It is evident, therefore,
that to postpone action in the presence of so great a necessity would be
unwise on the part of the Executive because unjust to the interests of
the people. Our action now will be freer from mere partisan
consideration than if the question of tariff revision was postponed
until the regular session of Congress. We are nearly two years from a
Congressional election, and politics cannot so greatly distract us as if
such contest was immediately pending. We can approach the problem calmly
and patriotically, without fearing its effect upon an early election.

Our fellow-citizens who may disagree with us upon the character of this
legislation prefer to have the question settled now, even against their
preconceived views, and perhaps settled so reasonably, as I trust and
believe it will be, as to insure great permanence, than to have further
uncertainty menacing the vast and varied business interests of the
United States. Again, whatever action Congress may take will be given a
fair opportunity for trial before the people are called to pass judgment
upon it, and this I consider a great essential to the rightful and
lasting settlement of the question. In view of these considerations, I
shall deem it my duty as President to convene Congress in extraordinary
session on Monday, the 15th day of March, 1897.

In conclusion, I congratulate the country upon the fraternal spirit of
the people and the manifestations of good will everywhere so apparent.
The recent election not only most fortunately demonstrated the
obliteration of sectional or geographical lines, but to some extent also
the prejudices which for years have distracted our councils and marred
our true greatness as a nation. The triumph of the people, whose verdict
is carried into effect today, is not the triumph of one section, nor
wholly of one party, but of all sections and all the people. The North
and the South no longer divide on the old lines, but upon principles and
policies; and in this fact surely every lover of the country can find
cause for true felicitation.

Let us rejoice in and cultivate this spirit; it is ennobling and will be
both a gain and a blessing to our beloved country. It will be my
constant aim to do nothing, and permit nothing to be done, that will
arrest or disturb this growing sentiment of unity and cooperation, this
revival of esteem and affiliation which now animates so many thousands
in both the old antagonistic sections, but I shall cheerfully do
everything possible to promote and increase it.

Let me again repeat the words of the oath administered by the Chief
Justice which, in their respective spheres, so far as applicable, I
would have all my countrymen observe: "I will faithfully execute the
office of President of the United States, and will, to the best of my
ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United
States." This is the obligation I have reverently taken before the Lord
Most High. To keep it will be my single purpose, my constant prayer; and
I shall confidently rely upon the forbearance and assistance of all the
people in the discharge of my solemn responsibilities.


William McKinley
Second Inaugural Address
Monday, March 4, 1901

My Fellow-Citizens:

WHEN we assembled here on the 4th of March, 1897, there was great
anxiety with regard to our currency and credit. None exists now. Then
our Treasury receipts were inadequate to meet the current obligations of
the Government. Now they are sufficient for all public needs, and we
have a surplus instead of a deficit. Then I felt constrained to convene
the Congress in extraordinary session to devise revenues to pay the
ordinary expenses of the Government. Now I have the satisfaction to
announce that the Congress just closed has reduced taxation in the sum
of $41,000,000. Then there was deep solicitude because of the long
depression in our manufacturing, mining, agricultural, and mercantile
industries and the consequent distress of our laboring population. Now
every avenue of production is crowded with activity, labor is well
employed, and American products find good markets at home and abroad.

Our diversified productions, however, are increasing in such
unprecedented volume as to admonish us of the necessity of still further
enlarging our foreign markets by broader commercial relations. For this
purpose reciprocal trade arrangements with other nations should in
liberal spirit be carefully cultivated and promoted.

The national verdict of 1896 has for the most part been executed.
Whatever remains unfulfilled is a continuing obligation resting with
undiminished force upon the Executive and the Congress. But fortunate as
our condition is, its permanence can only be assured by sound business
methods and strict economy in national administration and legislation.
We should not permit our great prosperity to lead us to reckless
ventures in business or profligacy in public expenditures. While the
Congress determines the objects and the sum of appropriations, the
officials of the executive departments are responsible for honest and
faithful disbursement, and it should be their constant care to avoid
waste and extravagance.

Honesty, capacity, and industry are nowhere more indispensable than in
public employment. These should be fundamental requisites to original
appointment and the surest guaranties against removal.

Four years ago we stood on the brink of war without the people knowing
it and without any preparation or effort at preparation for the
impending peril. I did all that in honor could be done to avert the war,
but without avail. It became inevitable; and the Congress at its first
regular session, without party division, provided money in anticipation
of the crisis and in preparation to meet it. It came. The result was
signally favorable to American arms and in the highest degree honorable
to the Government. It imposed upon us obligations from which we cannot
escape and from which it would be dishonorable to seek escape. We are
now at peace with the world, and it is my fervent prayer that if
differences arise between us and other powers they may be settled by
peaceful arbitration and that hereafter we may be spared the horrors of

Intrusted by the people for a second time with the office of President,
I enter upon its administration appreciating the great responsibilities
which attach to this renewed honor and commission, promising unreserved
devotion on my part to their faithful discharge and reverently invoking
for my guidance the direction and favor of Almighty God. I should shrink
from the duties this day assumed if I did not feel that in their
performance I should have the co-operation of the wise and patriotic men
of all parties. It encourages me for the great task which I now
undertake to believe that those who voluntarily committed to me the
trust imposed upon the Chief Executive of the Republic will give to me
generous support in my duties to "preserve, protect, and defend, the
Constitution of the United States" and to "care that the laws be
faithfully executed." The national purpose is indicated through a
national election. It is the constitutional method of ascertaining the
public will. When once it is registered it is a law to us all, and
faithful observance should follow its decrees.

Strong hearts and helpful hands are needed, and, fortunately, we have
them in every part of our beloved country. We are reunited. Sectionalism
has disappeared. Division on public questions can no longer be traced by
the war maps of 1861. These old differences less and less disturb the
judgment. Existing problems demand the thought and quicken the
conscience of the country, and the responsibility for their presence, as
well as for their righteous settlement, rests upon us all--no more upon
me than upon you. There are some national questions in the solution of
which patriotism should exclude partisanship. Magnifying their
difficulties will not take them off our hands nor facilitate their
adjustment. Distrust of the capacity, integrity, and high purposes of
the American people will not be an inspiring theme for future political
contests. Dark pictures and gloomy forebodings are worse than useless.
These only becloud, they do not help to point the way of safety and
honor. "Hope maketh not ashamed." The prophets of evil were not the
builders of the Republic, nor in its crises since have they saved or
served it. The faith of the fathers was a mighty force in its creation,
and the faith of their descendants has wrought its progress and
furnished its defenders. They are obstructionists who despair, and who
would destroy confidence in the ability of our people to solve wisely
and for civilization the mighty problems resting upon them. The American
people, intrenched in freedom at home, take their love for it with them
wherever they go, and they reject as mistaken and unworthy the doctrine
that we lose our own liberties by securing the enduring foundations of
liberty to others. Our institutions will not deteriorate by extension,
and our sense of justice will not abate under tropic suns in distant
seas. As heretofore, so hereafter will the nation demonstrate its
fitness to administer any new estate which events devolve upon it, and
in the fear of God will "take occasion by the hand and make the bounds
of freedom wider yet." If there are those among us who would make our
way more difficult, we must not be disheartened, but the more earnestly
dedicate ourselves to the task upon which we have rightly entered. The
path of progress is seldom smooth. New things are often found hard to
do. Our fathers found them so. We find them so. They are inconvenient.
They cost us something. But are we not made better for the effort and
sacrifice, and are not those we serve lifted up and blessed?

We will be consoled, too, with the fact that opposition has confronted
every onward movement of the Republic from its opening hour until now,
but without success. The Republic has marched on and on, and its step
has exalted freedom and humanity. We are undergoing the same ordeal as
did our predecessors nearly a century ago. We are following the course
they blazed. They triumphed. Will their successors falter and plead
organic impotency in the nation? Surely after 125 years of achievement
for mankind we will not now surrender our equality with other powers on
matters fundamental and essential to nationality. With no such purpose
was the nation created. In no such spirit has it developed its full and
independent sovereignty. We adhere to the principle of equality among
ourselves, and by no act of ours will we assign to ourselves a
subordinate rank in the family of nations.

My fellow-citizens, the public events of the past four years have gone
into history. They are too near to justify recital. Some of them were
unforeseen; many of them momentous and far-reaching in their
consequences to ourselves and our relations with the rest of the world.
The part which the United States bore so honorably in the thrilling
scenes in China, while new to American life, has been in harmony with
its true spirit and best traditions, and in dealing with the results its
policy will be that of moderation and fairness.

We face at this moment a most important question that of the future
relations of the United States and Cuba. With our near neighbors we must
remain close friends. The declaration of the purposes of this Government
in the resolution of April 20, 1898, must be made good. Ever since the
evacuation of the island by the army of Spain, the Executive, with all
practicable speed, has been assisting its people in the successive steps
necessary to the establishment of a free and independent government
prepared to assume and perform the obligations of international law
which now rest upon the United States under the treaty of Paris. The
convention elected by the people to frame a constitution is approaching
the completion of its labors. The transfer of American control to the
new government is of such great importance, involving an obligation
resulting from our intervention and the treaty of peace, that I am glad
to be advised by the recent act of Congress of the policy which the
legislative branch of the Government deems essential to the best
interests of Cuba and the United States. The principles which led to our
intervention require that the fundamental law upon which the new
government rests should be adapted to secure a government capable of
performing the duties and discharging the functions of a separate
nation, of observing its international obligations of protecting life
and property, insuring order, safety, and liberty, and conforming to the
established and historical policy of the United States in its relation
to Cuba.

The peace which we are pledged to leave to the Cuban people must carry
with it the guaranties of permanence. We became sponsors for the
pacification of the island, and we remain accountable to the Cubans, no
less than to our own country and people, for the reconstruction of Cuba
as a free commonwealth on abiding foundations of right, justice,
liberty, and assured order. Our enfranchisement of the people will not
be completed until free Cuba shall "be a reality, not a name; a perfect
entity, not a hasty experiment bearing within itself the elements of

While the treaty of peace with Spain was ratified on the 6th of
February, 1899, and ratifications were exchanged nearly two years ago,
the Congress has indicated no form of government for the Philippine
Islands. It has, however, provided an army to enable the Executive to
suppress insurrection, restore peace, give security to the inhabitants,
and establish the authority of the United States throughout the
archipelago. It has authorized the organization of native troops as
auxiliary to the regular force. It has been advised from time to time of
the acts of the military and naval officers in the islands, of my action
in appointing civil commissions, of the instructions with which they
were charged, of their duties and powers, of their recommendations, and
of their several acts under executive commission, together with the very
complete general information they have submitted. These reports fully
set forth the conditions, past and present, in the islands, and the
instructions clearly show the principles which will guide the Executive
until the Congress shall, as it is required to do by the treaty,
determine "the civil rights and political status of the native
inhabitants." The Congress having added the sanction of its authority to
the powers already possessed and exercised by the Executive under the
Constitution, thereby leaving with the Executive the responsibility for
the government of the Philippines, I shall continue the efforts already
begun until order shall be restored throughout the islands, and as fast
as conditions permit will establish local governments, in the formation
of which the full co-operation of the people has been already invited,
and when established will encourage the people to administer them. The
settled purpose, long ago proclaimed, to afford the inhabitants of the
islands self-government as fast as they were ready for it will be
pursued with earnestness and fidelity. Already something has been
accomplished in this direction. The Government's representatives, civil
and military, are doing faithful and noble work in their mission of
emancipation and merit the approval and support of their countrymen. The
most liberal terms of amnesty have already been communicated to the
insurgents, and the way is still open for those who have raised their
arms against the Government for honorable submission to its authority.
Our countrymen should not be deceived. We are not waging war against the
inhabitants of the Philippine Islands. A portion of them are making war
against the United States. By far the greater part of the inhabitants
recognize American sovereignty and welcome it as a guaranty of order and
of security for life, property, liberty, freedom of conscience, and the
pursuit of happiness. To them full protection will be given. They shall
not be abandoned. We will not leave the destiny of the loyal millions
the islands to the disloyal thousands who are in rebellion against the
United States. Order under civil institutions will come as soon as those
who now break the peace shall keep it. Force will not be needed or used
when those who make war against us shall make it no more. May it end
without further bloodshed, and there be ushered in the reign of peace to
be made permanent by a government of liberty under law!

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This page (William_McKinley.htm) was last modified on Sunday 27/01/2013