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United States Department of State / Index to the executive documents of the House of Representatives for the second session of the fiftieth Congress, 1888-'90

Cleveland, Grover
Message,   pp. III-XXXIV PDF (12.8 MB)

Page III

 To the Congress of/the Uni/ed S/ates:
   As you assemble for the discharge of the duties you have assumed
 as the representatives of a free and generous people, your meeting
 is marked by an interesting and impressive incident. With the ex-
 piration of the present session of the Congress, the first century of
 our constitutional existence as a nation will be completed.
   Our survival for one hundred years is not sufficient to assure us
that we no longer have dangers to fear in the maintenance, with all
its promised blessings, of a government founded upon the freedom
of the people. The time rather admonishes us to soberly inquire
whether in the past we have always closely kept in the course of
safety, and whether we have before us a way plain and clear which
leads to happiness and perpetuity.
   When the experiment of our Government was undertaken, the
chart adopted for our guidance was the Constitution. Departure
from the lines there laid down is failure. It is only by a strict ad-
herence to the direction they indicate and by restraint within the
limitations they fix, that we can furnish proof to the world of the
fitness of the American people for self-government.
  The equal and exact justice of which we boast as the underlying
principle of our institutions, should not be confined to the relations
of our citizens to each other. The Government itself is under bond
to the American people, that in the exercise of its functions and
powers it will deal with the body of our citizens in a manner scru-
pulously honest and fair and absolutely just. It has agreed that
American citizenship shall be the only credential necessary to justify
the claim of equality before the law, and that no condition in life
shall give rise to discrimination in the treatment of the people by
their Government.
  The citizen of our Republic in its early days rigidly insisted
upon full compliance with the letter of this bond, and saw stretch-
ing out before him a clear field for individual endeavor. His tribute
to the support of his Government was measured by the cost of its

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