1832 State of the Union Address
December 4, 1832
Fellow Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:
It gives me pleasure to congratulate you upon your return to the seat of Government for the purpose of discharging your duties to the people of the United States. Although the pestilence which had traversed the Old World has entered our limits and extended its ravages over much of our land, it has pleased Almighty God to mitigate its severity and lessen the number of its victims compared with those who have fallen in most other countries over which it has spread its terrors. Not with standing this visitation, our country presents on every side marks of prosperity and happiness unequaled, perhaps, in any other portion of the world.
The pestilence he was referring to was a second worldwide cholera pandemic, arising in 1826, that had followed a first Asian pandemic ca. 1817-1824 from Calcutta India. This second one spread via Russia to the rest of Europe, claiming hundreds of thousands of lives. In 1832, the epidemic reached Quebec, Ontario, and Nova Scotia in Canada, and Detroit and New York City in the United States with the United States believing that cholera was brought by recent immigrants, specifically the Irish. In mid-1832, 57 Irish immigrants died who had been laying a stretch of railroad called Duffy's Cut, 30 miles west of Philadelphia and they had all contracted cholera.
We should bear constantly in mind the fact that the considerations which induced the framers of the Constitution to withhold from the General Government the power to regulate the great mass of the business and concerns of the people have been fully justified by experience, and that it can not now be doubted that the genius of all our institutions prescribes simplicity and economy as the characteristics of the reform which is yet to be effected in the present and future execution of the functions bestowed upon us by the Constitution.
Limited to a general superintending power to maintain peace at home and abroad, and to prescribe laws on a few subjects of general interest not calculated to restrict human liberty, but to enforce human rights, this Government will find its strength and its glory in the faithful discharge of these plain and simple duties.
Relieved by its protecting shield from the fear of war and the apprehension of oppression, the free enterprise of our citizens, aided by the State sovereignties, will work out improvements and ameliorations which can not fail to demonstrate that the great truth that the people can govern themselves is not only realized in our example, but that it is done by a machinery in government so simple and economical as scarcely to be felt. That the Almighty Ruler of the Universe may so direct our deliberations and over-rule our acts as to make us instrumental in securing a result so dear to mankind is my most earnest and sincere prayer.
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