Governor George E. Chamberlain's Administration
Inaugural Message, 1903
Source: Oregon Messages and Documents, 1903, Governor's Inaugural Address, Salem, Oregon, W.H. Leeds, State Printer, 1902.
Inaugural Address Of Governor Geo. E. Chamberlain
To the Twenty-second Legislative Assembly Of the State of Oregon. 1903
Gentlemen of the Senate and House of Representatives:
I would be recreant to my duty if I did not in the very beginning of what I have to say, express to you, and through you to the people of the State, my high appreciation of the great honor which has been conferred upon me in electing me Chief Executive. When a convention of my party put me in nomination for this exalted place, it was with one voice and without solicitation on my part. I feel and know that I am indebted for my election to that generous spirit of political independence which has characterized the people of this State from the earliest pioneer times, and fully realize that it was not because of any superior merit in me. Under such circumstances, I enter upon the performance of the high trust that has been imposed upon me with a deeper sense of the great responsibilities that devolve upon me, with a greater fear that I may not be able to meet the expectations of those who have so honored me, and with a firmer determination to do all in my humble power to best subserve and protect the interests of the State. I have no higher ambition than to win the encomiums of my fellow citizens when my term shall have expired, for duty faithfully and honestly performed.
With absolute consciousness of, and faith in, the rectitude of my own intentions, keeping in view the oath I have taken to support the constitution and laws of the State, I place my trust in God and appeal to him to direct and guide me in all that affects the welfare of the people of the whole State, irrespective of race, religion or party.
While the mandate of the constitution requires the incoming as well as the outgoing executive to embody in a message to you such suggestions as may seem proper with reference to legislation, in the very nature of things the suggestions of the retiring executive deserve and will receive at your hands more attention than any I can make. Many years service as a legislator and four years as executive have not only familiarized him with the business affairs of the State, but peculiarly fit him to point out for your consideration needed legislation to meet existing conditions. Still, I cannot but take advantage of the opportunity afforded me by the constitution to call to your attention in a general way some matters which seem appropriate to be considered at this session of your body, and to them I will refer.
It is to be expected that as a State grows in population and in wealth there must be a proportionate increase in expenditure to successfully administer its affairs. But it does not follow that the general rate of taxation should, continue to increase. The steady growth in wealth, constantly adding to the aggregate assessed valuation, ought to keep down the rate of the tax levy. This has not been the case. With an increased and steadily increasing expenditure, the rate of the levy has not only not remained stationary, but the tendency is to increase each year. The responsibility for this condition of things lies primarily in a defective assessment law, and secondarily with the assessors of the several counties.
Notwithstanding the acknowledged fact that there has been a large increase in our population since 1892, and in consequence a proportionate increase in wealth, the returns made to the Secretary of State by the assessors of the several counties show that the aggregate assessed valuation of all the property in the State in 1892 was $160,263,646.00, while in 1899 it had decreased to $120,828,879.00, reaching in 1900 the sum of $117,804,874.13.
The decrease has been steady each year since the date first mentioned with the exception of 1893, when there was a slight increase in the total valuation. If this condition continues, the result is inevitable under the present system of taxation that the fixed governmental charges remaining the same and other expenses continuing to increase, the rate of taxation must correspondingly increase. An examination of the assessment rolls will disclose that a majority of the counties have decreased their aggregate valuations, when every man in the State knows that there is not a single county in the State but has increased in both population and wealth.
The record made would seem to indicate that the assessors were vying with each other as to who can place the lowest valuation upon the properties of their respective counties, with the evident end in view to escape a just proportion of the expenses of the State.
The constitution requires that “the Legislative Assembly shall provide by law for uniform and equal rate of taxation.” As a step to that end, the law provides that all property shall be assessed at its true cash value. In order to be uniform it is not essential that property should all be assessed at its true cash value. This requirement would as well be attained if all property were assessed at the same proportionate part of its value. But the law is violated in letter and in spirit where no uniform basis for assessment is fixed in any of the counties. In some it is assessed at one-quarter, in others at one-third, in others at one-half of its cash value, and knowingly done in open violation of the law, and no means has yet been found to compel a proper observance of the statute.
Attention has been called to this matter by every executive before me, but it seems that prior legislative bodies have either not had the time or the inclination to do anything to correct existing evils in the plan of assessment.
This subject is so difficult to properly adjust that I do not believe it possible in the bustle and confusion of a short session to frame a law revisory of present statutes and meeting the many obstacles in the way of a consistent assessment and taxation plan. Attempts at each session have proven abortive, and have but made confusion worse confounded.
I therefore earnestly urge that you provide for the appointment by the executive of a commission to prepare a general assessment law, to be reported to the next legislature for adoption or rejection. This has been done in other States, and wherever it has been tried it has resulted in partially correcting the evils of inequality and non-uniformity.
TAXATION OF CORPORATIONS
A large proportion of the taxes of many of the States is derived from sources other than the general land and property tax. Real estate here is bearing an unjust proportion of the taxes for both State and local purposes. Personal property and money largely escape taxation. This is not as it should be, and some remedy ought to be found and applied for carrying into effect the letter and spirit of the constitution, which requires all taxation to be equal and uniform. The period through which we are now passing is characterized by combinations of capital, as well as of men. Individual initiative in the larger enterprises is almost unknown. Corporations with large capital, organized in other States are constantly coming into and doing business of all kinds here, and in most cases cannot be or are not reached for the purposes of adequate taxation. Our efforts in the past have been, and should continue to be, directed to the securing of the investment here of capital, corporate and individual, from other States. The efforts that have been made in this direction are being rewarded, and from every State of the Union men of wealth and managers of vast corporate enterprises are coming among us, lured hither by the richness of our mines, forests and fields and the salubrity of our climate. It should not be the purpose of legislation intended to tax this wealth to be discriminating and unjust. Such a course would nullify the efforts we are making toward commercial advancement and industrial development. But that this wealth should contribute fairly, equally and uniformly with other property of the State, all must concede, and those who come here to assist us in our own upbuilding as well as for their own betterment, claiming the equal protection of our laws, cannot oppose an objection to such a course.
What might be done in this State by a conservative system of taxation of corporations is indicted by the amount of revenue derived for State purposes from insurance companies alone. Under the statutes, they each pay a license fee and an annual tax of two per cent upon gross premiums less losses and premiums returned. For the year 1899 these companies paid $26,371.48 in taxes and $3,860.33 in license fees; for 1900 they paid in taxes $31,248.84 and in license fees $4,277.36, and for 1901 they paid in taxes $33,988.40 and in license fees $4,396.34.
No objection is urged against these taxes and license fees, nor are they considered unjust, and the system which has been applied in the cases of these companies ought to be gradually extended to other corporations doing business in the State.
The Secretary of State in his report to the legislature in 1901 shows that for the two years ending December 31, 1900, there were filed the articles of incorporation of 678 corporations, with a capital stock aggregating $127,283,450.00, whilst he estimated that there were at least 2500 corporations doing business in the State. Between December 31, 1900, and September 30, 1902, there were filed the articles of incorporation of 866 corporations with a capital stock of $281,569,981.00.
Why may not a system be devised for making each and all of these corporations, organized as they are under the laws of the State, contribute directly to the expense of State administration, either by license fees or taxation proportioned to capitalization or both? Telephone, telegraph, express, surety and railroad companies, whether organized abroad or under local statutes, could be brought with the same category as insurance companies, and so the burden now borne by real estates measurably lightened.
All corporations organized outside of the State and doing business here ought to be compelled by law to file copies of their articles of incorporation with the Secretary of State, disclosing the amount of their capital stock, their officers and directors, and designating an agent upon whom service of summons could be had.
I realize the difficulties in the way of the enactment of a law at one session that will bring to the State a revenue from all these instrumentalities of our business life and material prosperity, but I earnestly recommend that some step or steps be taken now having that ultimate end in view.
In New York and other States, statutes have been enacted imposing taxes upon inheritances. Such a system of taxation ought to be essayed in Oregon. It has been objected that there are no such colossal fortunes here as would warrant or justify the imposition of taxes upon inheritances either direct or collateral. This is in part true, and for that very reason there would be less opposition to such legislation now than there would be if it be postponed to a later date. The records of the County Courts in every county in the State will disclose the astounding fact, that many, if not all of the estates going through probate, escape a just share of the burdens of taxation during the lifetime of the testators or intestates.
The tendency of modern times is to bring about as near as possible a divorcement of local and State taxation inheritances and local and foreign corporations doing business in the State, as well as the valuable franchises which they enjoy, Oregon may not, following in the footsteps of other States, raise the greater part, if not all, the revenue necessary for State purposes.
A FELLOW SERVANT LAW
The law imposes upon every person the obligation of regulating and governing his own actions and business in such a manner as not to cause injury to others. This rule is applicable to employers, so that an employer is responsible for his personal negligence occasioning injury to his employee. But while a man is responsible for the consequences of his own wrongful acts, he is not responsible for the acts of others, except that a master is liable to third persons for the wrongful acts and negligence of his servant performed while engaged in the pursuit of the master’s business within in the scope of his employment. The exception to the general rule, while holding an employer responsible to third persons for the wrongful acts of his servants, has no application in certain cases where a servant seeks to hold his employer responsible for an injury resulting from the tortuous acts of another servant. This restriction is incorporated in what is known as the “fellow servant rule,” which may be succinctly state as follows:
“Where a master uses diligence in the selection of competent and trusty servants furnishes them with suitable means to perform the service in which he employs them, he is not answerable, where there is no countervailing statute, to one of them for an injury received by him in consequence of the carelessness of another, while both are engaged in the same service.”
The Supreme Court of this Stat in Mast vs. Kern, 34 Or., 247, in amplification of this rule, held that “It is the personal and absolute duty of the master to exercise reasonable care and caution to provide his servants with a reasonably safe place to work, reasonably safe tools, appliances and instruments to work with, reasonably safe tools, appliances and instruments to work with, reasonably safe material to work upon, suitable and competent fellow servants to work with them, and to make needful rules and regulations of the safe conduct of the work; and he cannot delegate this duty to a servant of any grade so as to exempt himself from liability to a servant who has been injured by its non-performance. Whoever he entrusts with its performance, whatever his grade or rank, stands in place of the master, and he is liable for the negligence of such employee to the same extent as if he had himself performed the act, or been guilty of the negligence. But when the master has performed his duty in this regard and provided competent employees, a reasonably safe place to work, suitable materials, tools and appliances to work with, and needful rules and regulations, and the like, he has discharged his whole duty in the premises and is not liable to a servant for the negligence of another servant while engaged as an operative.”
The doctrine enunciated by our court is the commonly accepted common law rule of this country and Great Britain, and from which the courts have not appreciably departed in the absence of statute. But the rapid growth and development of railroads and the extremely hazardous occupation of those engaged in railroad work, have induced the legislatures of many States to modify the fellow servant doctrine as applicable to railroad corporations. Such laws have been assailed as being violative of both State and Federal constitutions, but they have been uniformly sustained by the State as well as by the Federal courts. Chicago, etc., R Co. vs. Pontius, 157 U.S., 209; Mo. Pac R. Co. vs. Mackey, 127 U.S., 205; Dithermer vs. Chicago, etc., R Co.,47 Wis., 138; Herrick vs. M., etc., R Co., 31 Minn., 11; Pierce vs. C.I.R. Co., 73 Ia., 140; G.R. Co. vs. Miller, 90 Ga., 571.
One of the latest acts upon the subject is that of the State of Virginia, approved March 27, 1902. It provides that every corporation operating a railroad in that State, whether such corporation be created there or elsewhere, shall be liable in damages for any and all injury sustained by any employee of such corporation in the following case: “When such injury results from the wrongful act, neglect or default of an agent or officer of such corporation superior to the employee injured, or of a person employed by such corporation having the right to control or direct the services of such employee injured, or the services of the employee by whom he is injured; and also when such injury results from the wrongful act, neglect or default of a co-employee, engaged in another department of labor from that of the employee injured, or of a co-employee on another train of cars, or of a co-employee who has charge of any switch, signal point, or locomotive engine, or who is charged with dispatching trains or transmitting telegraphic or telephonic orders. Knowledge by any employee injured of the defective or unsafe character of condition of any machinery, ways, appliances, or structures of such corporation shall not of itself be a bar to recovery for any injury or death caused thereby. When death, whether instantaneous or otherwise, results from any injury to any employee of such corporation received as aforesaid, the personal representative of such employee shall have a right of action therefore against such corporation and may recover damages in respect thereof. Any contract or agreement, express or implied, made by any such employee to waive the benefit of this section or any part thereof shall be null and void, and this section shall not be construed to deprive any such employee or his personal representative of any right or remedy to which he is now entitled under the laws of this state.”
I commend the general scope and purpose of this law to the legislature of Oregon, and earnestly urge the enactment of a similar statute at this session. Legislation upon this subject was defeated at the last session, but it seems to me that the demands of the thousands of men engaged in railroad employment here, are entitled to be heard as they have been heard, and favorably acted upon, in other States not more progressive than Oregon.
The strict application of the fellow servant law as it has been adopted by the courts of this and other States, virtually defeats recovery by a railway employee, or his personal representative, against the employer in case of death or injuries received in performance of duty, no matter how deserving or meritorious, for the defense is invariably interposed that the injury or death was due to the negligence of a fellow servant, and nearly always successfully. The corporations hedge their employees about with rules and regulations which they expect and intend shall be more honored in the breach than in the observance. To obey them in their entirety would be impossible, and to disobey them places a weapon of defense in the hands of the corporations, whenever accidents occur resulting in injuries and death to old and faithful employees.
SALARIES FOR STATE OFFICERS
The platforms of both parties prior to the last election declared in favor of putting all the State officers on fixed annual salaries, and the payment of all fees earned by them in the performance of official duties into the State treasury. These platform declarations were the result of a demand on the part of the people and the press for further economy in the administration of State affairs. If platform utterances mean anything at all, if they are enunciated in good faith and with the intent that those nominated and elected thereon shall be bound thereby, then the duty devolves upon you gentlemen of the legislature to enact these promises into a law to be effective at once, as the duty devolves upon me and upon all of the State officers, not only to accept you determination in this matter gracefully, but to assist you in the framing and enactment of such a statute as will put these promises into effect.
Section 1 of Article XIII of the Constitution of Oregon provides that, “the governor shall receive an annual salary of fifteen hundred dollars. The Secretary of State shall receive an annual salary of eight hundred dollars. The Judges of the Supreme Court shall each receive an annual salary of two thousand dollars. They shall receive no fees or perquisites whatever for the performance of any duties connected with their respective offices; and the compensation of officers, if not fixed by this constitution, shall be provided by law.”
Since the last election it has been asserted in some quarters, that under this constitutional provision, no other or different salary can be given by the legislature to any of the officers therein named than those prescribed. If this contention be well founded, the constitutional provision is being violated every year by each and every of said officers, for each of them now receives a salary for services upon the different State boards and commissions which in the aggregate exceeds that named in the constitution. Further, in addition to these several salaries, laws have been passed from time to time which prescribe schedules of fees to be charged by some of these officers for the performance of official duties, and these fees added to the salaries provided for services on boards and commissions, give to the officers receiving them compensation entirely disproportionate to the services rendered the State. And therein lies the vice of the system which has been in vogue for many years past. It is difficult now to ascertain, unaided by persons familiar with the laws, the emoluments received by some of the officers named in the constitutional provision quoted, and the time has now arrived when each and all of said officers should be placed upon such fixed annual salaries as shall afford them a compensation commensurate with the duties performed and the responsibilities assumed, and in those cases where fees are charged and collected, such fees should be, from this time on, paid into the State Treasury. It matters not so much whether these salaries are fixed in a lump sum, or whether they are ascertained by allowing separate salaries for services as members of the different State boards and commissions, but it should be done in express terms and not subject to change during the term for which the officials shall have been elected. Again, it has been urged that the legislature is powerless to change the compensation of an officer during his term. This is not true. In the case of Territory v. Pyle, 1 Or., 149, the Supreme Court of this State, speaking through Judge M.P. Deady, held that public officers are created for convenience of the public and not for the officer, and that it is competent for the legislature to increase or decrease the compensation of an officer, and even to abolish the office in the absence of any constitutional inhibition. Substantially the same doctrine has been laid down in the later cases of State ex rel. vs. Simon, 20 Or., 365, and State ex rel. vs. Steele, 39 Or., 419. the rule is well settled that the constitution, so far as it relates to the legislature, is a limitation and not a grant of power, and the legislature may exercise any of the powers of sovereignty not prohibited. That body is prohibited from giving to the officers named a less salary than the amount prescribed therein; it is prohibited from giving to any of them any fees or perquisites for the performance of official duty, but it does not prohibit the legislature from exercising the discretion of increasing their salaries beyond those named therein.
In State ex rel. vs. Steele, 39 Or., 19, Judge Wolverton speaking for the court, said: “Were the constitution a grant of power, it would carry with it such implied powers as are necessary and proper to subserve and carry into effect the purposes of the grant. * * *
“If this be so as respects a grant of powers, with how much stronger reason does it apply to a constitution which is not a grant, but a limitation—where the residue of power is retained by the people, to be exercised through the legislature, except as limited and circumscribed by that instrument. ‘The people, in framing the constitution,’ says Chief Justice Denio, speaking of a state constitution, ‘Committed to the legislature the whole law-making power of the State which they did not expressly or impliedly withhold. Plenary power in the legislature, for all purposes of civil government, is the rule. A prohibition to exercise a particular power the exception.’”
An examination of the Journal of the convention which framed the constitution will show, that it was not the intention of the framers of that instrument to limit the legislature to the salaries therein prescribed. When the provision quoted had been adopted, Mr. Peebles, of Marion County, moved to amend the section as it now stands by adding at the end thereof the following: “Provided, further, that the salaries of the Judges of the Supreme Court shall not be subject to increase, and the salaries of the Governor and Secretary shall never exceed two thousand dollars, nor that of the Treasurer exceed twelve hundred dollars.” The vote on this amendment was as follows: Yeas, 15; nay 35, so the amendment was lost. It will thus be seen that the intention to limit legislative action in this behalf was discussed, voted upon and defeated. It was plainly then the intention of the framers of the constitution to fix the salaries of the first officers elected thereunder, leaving the question of increasing these salaries to succeeding legislative bodies. Eminent gentlemen who were members of that convention hold this view, with a full knowledge of the intent of the framers of that instrument. This view has received executive, judicial and legislative sanction. So eminent a jurist and executive as Hon. William P Lord in his message prepared to be delivered to the nineteenth regular session in 1897, but not delivered, (a copy of which I have), and in his message as delivered to the twentieth regular session in 1899, in discussing the subject of the creation of State boards, said: “But, it has been said, the object in creating these boards was to increase the salary of the Governor (and likewise of other State officers), the implication being that to raise it directly and commensurately with the duties and responsibilities of the executive office would be unpopular and unconstitutional. The supposition is absurd. The passing of an act to effect indirectly an increase of the salary of an officer ought to be more unpopular than the passing of an act which directly increases it. If the people will consent or submit that the increase should be effected through the agency of a board, they will not object that it should be accomplished by a direct increase of salary, which only affords him a reasonably compensation for his services. Nor is the objection to an act directly increasing the salary of the Governor of any constitutional weight. It is entirely within the constitutional province of the legislature to raise the salary to such sum as is just and proper in its judgment, and the best lawyers and judges—some of whom served in the convention that framed the constitution—have expressed opinions on this subject with a unanimity that could not exist if there were any doubt of the constitutional power of the legislature to do so. It is not the salaries of officers that embarrass the operation of government, or burden the people with excessive taxation. It is ‘jobs’, wasteful practices, lavish and unnecessary public expenditures, pillaging State contracts, useless boards and commissions, freebooting the treasury with fictitious claims and needless appropriations, that put an unjust burden upon the people, and serve to retard the growth, development and prosperity of the State.”
If the pledge of your platforms are carried out, and the Governor, Secretary of State, Treasurer and Judges of the Supreme Court placed upon reasonable annual salaries, and all fees earned paid into the treasury, it will result in a saving to the State.
There can be no question but that you, gentlemen, have the power, and it is a moral duty incumbent upon you to enact a law placing each and every of the officers herein named upon salaries commensurate with the services rendered, not to be increased or diminished during their incumbency, and requiring all fees to be paid into the treasury as a part of the general fund, such act to take effect at once.
In further support of the position assumed above as to the proper construction to be placed upon the constitutional provisions there under discussion, the framers of the constitution expressly provided that the rates to be paid to the State printer shall be fixed by law, “and shall neither be increased nor diminished during the term for which he shall have been elected.” How easy it would have been, in case of the other State officers, to have adopted the amendment proposed by Mr. Peebles to the section fixing their salaries.
You are prohibited therefore in express terms by Article XII, Section 1, of the constitution, providing for the election of a State printer and fixing his charges, from either increasing or diminishing during his term, the rates to be charged by him. The rates charged are too high, but the abuses in this department are not so much due to the rates, as to the amount of useless work done therein with legislative sanction. At the last session of the legislature there was appropriated for the expenses of this department $50,000.00, and from the 1st day of January, 1901, to and inclusive of September 30, 1902, there had been expended for State printing the sum of $37,687.40. This is in excess of what is just and proper, and the only way to stop the leak, which adds greatly to the annual amount of revenue to be raised, is to lop off, not the rate of charges, but the amount of printing done for the ensuing two year, at the same time reducing the rate of fees by an act to take effect at the expiration of the term of the present incumbent.
I recommend for your earnest consideration the propriety of limiting the space to be used in the publication of all biennial reports. Results might be given instead of detail in many of the financial and other reports, and with entire safety and propriety if the suggestion I make hereafter of experting the books of all State officials be acted upon favorably.
EXPERTING BOOKS OF COUNTY OFFICIALS
The Act of 1899, empowering the several District Attorneys of the State to file original information against those charged with crime has resulted in a great saving to the taxpayers. The courts are still invested with a discretion to empanel grand juries if they see fit. But as a rule, there is little for them to do, except to investigate the books of the several county officials, and to visit and inspect the public institutions of the counties, cities and the State. Their work, especially in the matter of examining the books of officials, is necessarily perfunctory. Besides, it not infrequently happens, that no matter how honest they may be in their work, they are men not accustomed to look into long accounts for detection of errors of head or heart, and if ever so competent, the time allotted to them is too short for effective service. In consequence, defalcations of county officials are not discovered by them, and when detected by others the statute of limitations intervenes to bar prosecution or recovery of stolen money.
Leaving the empanelling of grand juries still in the direction of the courts, and without any change or modification of their statutory duties, a law should be enacted requiring each of the County Courts of the several counties to employ a competent expert at least once a year to examine into and report upon the books and official records of the several county officers. This has been done by some of the County Courts in the absence of any statute, and such course has had a salutary effect wherever it has been tried.
EXPERTING BOOKS OF STATE OFFICIALS
In this same connection it may be proper to add, that defalcations of State officials have in times past eluded the inspection of legislative committees and experts employed by them. It is recent history, that a defalcation of a clerk of the State Land Board of more than $30,000.00, was not discovered by a committee of your body. On the contrary, his books were examined and reported to be correct. Nor was discovered thereof made until prosecution of the defaulter was barred by the statute of limitations, and there is not only now no prospect of prosecution, but very little hope that the State will ever recover the stolen funds. In the rush and confusion incident to a session of forty days, it is impossible for a committee of your body, however ably assisted by the most capable and trustworthy accountants, to examine into, and arrive at, a proper understanding concerning large money transactions running into the millions annually. It is beyond the power of any man or set of men, under the conditions surrounding a legislative session, to do effective and thorough work in the time allotted to them, and no reflection upon the integrity of this or any former legislature is intended in what is here said. It may be objected that the present State officials are honest, and that therefore no necessity exists for examining into their books. To such objection I answer, that it can then do no harm to look into their accounts. Certainly no honest official can or will object to having his work opened to inspection. For his own protection against posthumous misrepresentation, investigation should be courted rather than shunned.
With no suspicion of irregularity in the books and accounts of any State officials, but rather for their protection, and in the interest of the people of the State at large, I earnestly recommend that you empower the executive to employ a competent accountant to examine into and check up the accounts of officers on the payrolls of the State, reports to be made to him from time to time and finally to the legislature, and that provision be made for the payment of the person so to be employed.
TRANSPORTING CONVICTS TO THE PENITENTIARY
Former executives have recommended the advisability of legislative action upon the subject of the conduct of prisoners from the place of trial and conviction to the penitentiary. No action has been taken by any former legislative body on these recommendations, but I earnestly trust that the matter will receive consideration at your hands at this session. This work is now done by the sheriffs of several counties, for which they each receive a per diem for every day actually engaged in conveying prisoners, besides necessary traveling expense for themselves and the convict conveyed, and the necessary expenses incurred in guarding such convict during such conveyance, the money being paid by the State either to the sheriff or to the county where the conviction was had. There was appropriated for this service at the last session of the legislature for the two years ending December 31,1902, $12,500.00, and up to September 30, 1902, there had been paid out $10,241.76. A material saving can be made to the State, if instead of the present method, an act is passed, requiring the performance of this service by the Superintendent of the Penitentiary, or some of his subordinates, who shall only recover from the State the amount of actual expenses incurred, upon claims properly verified, presented to, and audited by the Secretary of State. Such course will, besides, provide a uniform course to be pursued by all of the counties, and the work will be done by men trained in dealing with criminals and the criminal class.
TRANSPORTING INSANE AND IDIOTIC PERSONS TO THE ASYLUM
Section 3558 Hill’s Annotated Laws provides in substance, that when a person has been adjudged insane, such person shall be conveyed to the asylum by any proper person or persons selected and designated by the County Judge. The sheriff is usually designated for this service, and the expenses are paid out of the State Treasury, not exceeding $3.00 per day to the person appointed, and his actual, reasonable and necessary expenses, together with $2.50 per day for the necessary attendants. For the payment of these expenses there was appropriated at the last session of the legislature for the two years ending December 31, 1902, $27,500.00, and from January 1st, 1901, to September 30, 1902, there was expended on this account $23,178.94.
The transportation of the insane and idiotic to the asylum ought to be entrusted to the Superintendent of the Oregon State Insane Asylum and his assistants, not only on the score of economy to the State, but for reasons of humanity as well. That this unfortunate class should be entrusted in all kinds of weather, for long and tedious journeys and under any and all conditions, to persons who, in many instances are not only entire strangers to them, and so careless of their wants, but who have had no experience in the care or treatment of those so afflicted, is discreditable to the State. Recommendations have been made by former executives for amendment of existing laws touching this subject, the press of the State has expressed itself clearly and unequivocally in advocacy thereof, and these things supplemented by the plainest dictates of every sympathetic heart, suggest immediate action in behalf of a class of unfortunates who, thought “they live, and move and have their being,” can have no voice in aught that affects their welfare.
Section 1414 Hill’s Annotated Laws of Oregon provides for the suspension of final judgment against minors under sixteen years of age, on any conviction, charge or prosecution for misdemeanor or felony where, in the opinion of the court in which such proceeding is pending, there is a reasonable ground to believe that such minor may be reformed and that a commitment to prison would work a manifest injury.
Provision is made for the disposition of such minors in cases where there has been a suspension of judgment. This statute was passed before the creation and erection of the Reform School, and though it has never been in terms repealed, it has been modified by subsequent legislation for the government of said school by the Acts of 1889, 1981 and 1893. Under the provisions of the latter act, the court has the power to commit juvenile offenders between the ages of ten and sixteen years, charged with the capital cases, to the Reform School instead of to the County Jail or Penitentiary. The jurisdiction of the courts under these statutes, between the age limit named, is ample, but Circuit Courts should be vested with a broader jurisdiction by positive statute. Ample provision is made for the exercise of discretion by courts of superior jurisdiction in many States, and even in the absence of statute, the exercise of a sound discretion with reference to suspension of sentence has been sustained. But the propriety of such course in the absence of statutory authority is questioned, and properly so. Numerous cases have arisen in my own experience as a public prosecutor where young men between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one, and even older, have been inveigled into the commission of crime. In many cases these young men were of excellent antecedents, training and habits. It most frequently happens that in such cases friends or relatives are willing, notwithstanding these departures from the paths of rectitude, to take them, answer for their future conduct and give them employment. And again, positions can often be had for these unfortunate young men on board ships bound upon long voyages, in charge of capable officers, but under the law as it now is, no recourse is left to the courts except to commit them either to the County Jail or to the Penitentiary, or to exercise the questionable power of suspending sentence.
The hope of reformation in the event of confinement in the jail or penitentiary is gone, and the State deprived of the possibility of having a useful citizen added to its population, with every assurance that at the completion of a sentence of imprisonment, another criminal has been turned loose to pursue a life of crime.
I earnestly recommend some legislation looking to the enlargement of the jurisdiction and power of the Circuit Courts with reference to youths between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one. They need not be committed necessarily to the Reform School. Suspension of judgment and a system of parole, in my opinion, would meet the requirement and result in the restoring to citizenship of persons who under the present limited power of the courts are converted into confirmed criminals.
Within the past few years there have been a number of executions for murder in this State. These executions have taken place in the jail yards of the several counties, and of necessity have been more or less public. In two cases in Multnomah County, at least four hundred invitations were issued to officials and others to witness the double execution of two notorious criminals, and applications were made for as many more. The gallows was erected in the jail yard at the intersection of two of the most public streets of the City of Portland, and the morbidly curious were attracted there from the time the workmen commenced to build the scaffold until it was finally torn down. At the moment of execution, although the ground was covered with snow, crowds of men, women and children stood in the adjacent streets to see and hear, if possible, what took place within the enclosure, and boys and men actually climbed telephone poles to look over the same. Such scenes are demoralizing, and ought not to be tolerated in any civilized community. All executions should take place within the walls of the penitentiary, out of hearing and out of sigh of all except officials, and the bodies of those executed ought to be forfeited to the State as well as their lives, buried within the prison precincts and not given to either relatives or friends to be publicly paraded and viewed by persons whose tastes incline to the morbid.
I earnestly recommend such legislation as will carry out these suggestions.
THE SAILOR BOARDING HOUSE NUISANCE
During the past eighteen months, great complaint has been made about abuses which exist at the Ports of Portland and Astoria, occasioned by interference on the part of sailor boarding house keepers, runners or crimps, with seamen of vessels arriving from foreign ports and carrying the flags of foreign powers.
The legislative assembly of this State passed an act at its session in 1880 denouncing penalties against persons enticing seamen to desert, harboring seamen with intent to deprive the owner of their services, demanding or receiving from them any remuneration for providing them with employment on board any sea-going vessel, demanding or receiving from any owner, master or agent of a sea-going vessel any remuneration other than the fee of $10.00 per man, for supplying any seaman to be entered on board any such sea-going vessel, and for boarding or attempting to board any ship on the Willamette or Columbia River, not engaged in the carrying of passengers, for hire, without the consent of the captain, master, or other officer first obtained. Convictions for violations of the act may be had, either before Justices of the Peace, or in the Circuit Courts, and the penalties in cases of conviction vary from fines of from $50.00 to $250.00, or by imprisonment in the County Jail for periods varying from ten days to six months. The right of appeal exists in each instance under the general laws of the State.
These penalties are not severe enough to prevent the abuses complained of, but this is not the most serious difficulty. Where the master of the vessel, assisted by the consular agent of the power whose flag the vessel carries, honestly endeavors to vindicate a violation of the statute, the delays incident to the right of appeal, and the consequent detention of vessels when laden, in the port for the purpose of prosecution, make a successful enforcement of the law a too expensive experiment, with the result that the owner of the vessel prefers to be, and is ,constantly mulcted by the runner for furnishing a crew to take the place of deserters in excess of the amount provided by law, rather than be detained at a greater expense with a full laden ship to assist in bringing the violators of the law to justice.
Federal statutes exist having in view the accomplishment of the objects sought to be attained by the statutes of this State, but their scope is not broad enough, nor the penalties denounced by them adequate. A general revision of these to meet the evils which exist not only in this, but in other ports, would be the most effective remedy, and I suggest that you memorialize congress to take immediate action in the premises, at the same time appealing to your Senators and Representatives in Congress to give this matter their attention.
I recommend also, that the laws of this State be amended at this session in these particulars: First, create a severe penalty by way of both fine and imprisonment; second, invest the municipalities of Portland and Astoria with the broadest authority to enact ordinances on the subject, operative within their corporate limits, not inconsistent with the general purpose and scope of the laws of the State, cutting off the right of appeal in cases arising under such ordinances, thus avoiding delays of which I have spoken.
The rapid growth of the State in wealth and population, and the possibilities of an increased oriental traffic, demand that all handicaps upon our shipping should be removed as summarily as possible, none of which are more serious than those to which attention is here called.
These suggestions may not be a panacea for all the evils, but if carried out will at least tend to relieve the situation. It is a matter which affects not only the ports mentioned, but the commerce of the whole State, and of all that portion of the Northwest tributary to the Columbia River.
THE COMMON SCHOOLS
Oregon has just cause to be proud of the record she has achieved with reference to her public school system. She stands near the front rank in efficiency and in attendance proportioned to population. No tax is so cheerfully paid by our people as that which goes to support the public schools, for it is in them that the minds and characters of the great majority of our children must of necessity be formed, and it is to them that the State must look mainly for useful and responsibly citizenship. To maintain their efficiency is our solemn duty. The education there attained should be extremely practical, having for its object the preparation of the pupil for the every-day affairs of life. To this end, non-essentials should be eliminated, and essentials installed. It is to be feared, however, that the modern tendency is to reverse this wholesome rule, and reading, writing and arithmetic are giving way to music, drawing and other embellishments. Too many are the books and too many the studies for thoroughness in those things which go to fit our boys and girls for useful men and women, and embellishments are being added to the courses of study each year which had better be left to schools of art and to colleges and universities.
I desire to call your attention to another matter in this connection. In many of the sparsely settled rural districts the people are too poor to maintain more than a three-months’ school each year. Some assistance ought to be given them by the State to enable these districts to maintain a longer term. The education of the children is not so much a matter of local concern as it is one affecting the welfare of the whole State, and a greater proportion of the moneys derived from the interest on the irreducible school fund than is now expended therefore might be used in this direction. Again, in nearly, if not all, of these districts, it has been found impossible to maintain graded schools, while in the cities they have reached a high state of perfection. The result has been, that in order to give their children the benefits of a higher education than the rural schools afford, farmers are compelled, either to move into the cities with their families, or send their children away from home influences and friends, to be exposed to the allurements and temptations of city life. Consolidation of rural schools in some of the States, notably Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Kansas, has been successfully attempted as a solution to the problem. Some provision ought to be made for permitting rural districts to consolidate for the purpose of perfecting a graded school system, so that children on the farms may enjoy near their own homes those advantages which are given to the patrons of the public schools in the cities.
In an article in the Review of Reviews for December, 1902, will be found an elaborate discussion of this subject by the Superintendent of Public Instruction of Kansas. In speaking of the consolidated school at Lorraine in Ellsworth County, Kansas, organized in 1896, he says: “It is composed of the territory of what was formerly four country school districts. They now have a graded and high school employing four teachers. The school started with three teachers, but last year a two-year high school course was added, thus making an additional teacher necessary. As in every other place where the plan has been tried, the enrollment and attendance is much larger than before, being almost one-half greater than under the old plan. This increased attendance in school and greater length of term are of great value to the community and to the pupils attending school. * * * The people of Lorraine are more than satisfied and would not think of going back to the old plan.”
This matter is worthy of your very careful consideration as a step in the direction of improving the public school system in districts outside the cities.
STATE NORMAL SCHOOLS
There are now four Normal Schools in the State, for the support of which there was appropriated at the last session of the legislature in all $116,229.52. The value of these institutions as training schools for those upon whom is to devolve the education of our youth, is fully recognized and appreciated. Their primary object is the professional training of teachers. The conditions of entrance are supposed to be placed high enough to exclude all except those who have completed the common school course of study, but it is generally believed that many of those who are admitted are not well grounded in the rudiments of the common school branches, and had much better be in attendance on the public schools. Nor is this all. The primary object to he Normal School system is often lost sight of, and many pupils are enrolled who have no intention or expectation of adopting school teaching as a profession, while in some instances they are only doing the work that ought properly to be done in the higher grades of the public schools. The result of this course necessarily lowers the standard of Normal Schoolwork, and at the same times affects injuriously the public schools wherever the Normal School is located.
Even if the propriety of educating and training teachers at the expense of the State be conceded, not more than two Normal Schools ought to be thus maintained, so situated geographically as to best accommodate the entire population of the State. There is no valid reason for taxing the people of the whole State to maintain here and there for a favored few, schools which in all but in name are little more than substitutes for the higher grades in the public school system.
I recommend that the number of Normal Schools, aided by State appropriation, be reduced to two, and that admissions thereto be hedged about by such restrictions as will require them to carry out in good faith the purposes of their creation, so that the people whose money is expended in their support may be compensated in part by a corps of thoroughly equipped teachers in the public schools.
PILOTAGE AT THE MOUTH OF THE COLUMBIA RIVER
Compulsory pilotage on the Columbia River was abolished some years since, and it has resulted beneficially to the shipping interests of the Northwest.
Everything points at this time to a more intimate commercial intercourse between this country and the Orient, and no States are more vitally interested than Oregon and Washington in the removal of everything possible that places a handicap upon shipping.
Some months since the report gained currency that a combination was likely to be formed between the Oregon and Washington bar pilots. Whether such report was true or not, it makes no difference . It is sufficient ground for action by you, if it is possible for such combination to be entered into, and a brief consideration of the statutes of the two States fixing the compensation of bar pilots will show that it is possible. The laws of Washington provide, that “the fee for piloting a ship or vessel from the open sea beyond the bar to Astoria or Knappton shall be $8 per foot draft for the first twelve feet, and for piloting a ship or vessel from Astoria or Knappton to the open sea beyond the bar, $8.00 per foot for the first twelve feet, and $10.00 per foot draft for the excess above twelve feet. If a pilot shall board a ship or vessel bound in, while she is either on or within the bar, and not above Sand Island, he shall be entitled to only half fees from thence to Astoria; and if at the time of boarding she shall be above Sand Island, he shall be entitled to quarter fees only.”
The laws of this State provide, that “the compensation allowed for piloting a vessel over the bar pilot grounds shall be as follows: For piloting an inward or outward bound vessel to or from Astoria over the bar, or from within the bar to the open sea, all vessels shall pay $5.00 per foot draft, and two cents per ton for each and every ton registered measurement from or within the bar.” Hill’s Annotated Laws, Sec. 3918, as amended in 1893.
It will be seen by a comparison of these statutes, that pilots are permitted to charge a much higher rate in Washington than here, and by collusion between them it is possible to put in force the higher rate, by permitting those of Washington to do the work. When the Washington statute was passed the compensation thereby provided was probably not excessive, because the amount of shipping was limited. But under present conditions, with increased shipping, and the probability of a much more rapid increased therein, the Washington rates are exorbitant and ought not to be tolerated.
The life of the bar pilot is a hazardous one, and he is entitled to be well paid for the labor he performs and the risk he assumes, but beyond that he should not, in justice to our growing commerce, be permitted to go.
Something should be done at this session of the legislature, if possible, to procure a concert of action on this subject between this State and Washington. In no other way can a proper regulation of this important service be brought about.
I submit this matter to you, and suggest that it ought to receive your very serious consideration while the legislature of Washington is in session. A committee should be appointed, to confer with a like committee from Washington, so that uniform rates may be adopted for the pilots of both States.
The law in so far as it provides for a Health Officer at Astoria with a salary of $1,000.00 per annum, with a boatman at $500.00 per annum, ought to be repealed. For a number of years past this has been a sinecure. All the duties prescribed for such officer are now covered by the United States Quarantine Officer at that port. He has precedence over any state officer, and has a well equipped quarantine station and boarding steamer. When a vessel arrives with a contagious disease on board it is at once sent over to the United States Quarantine Station near Knappton, Washington, there kept till all danger is passed and then properly disinfected. Even the State Health Officer without a permit from the Federal officer would not be allowed to go near it, its crew or passengers. A Federal quarantine station has been maintained at the port named for about three and a half years, and is in charge of an officer in the Federal service. Such is not the case at either Coos Bay, Gardiner or Yaquina Bay. These officers might still be retained, but the amount of service performed should be inquired into and a salary paid each commensurate therewith. Those now paid are too large for the service rendered the State.
In this connection it might be proper to add, that because of our present intimate and growing trade relations with the Orient, and the danger to be apprehended from the importation of diseases which afflict Oriental races, a general health law should be considered and enacted by you, so that should epidemics of contagious diseases threaten us, some protection may be afforded our people.
Troubles between capital and labor have not at any time seriously affected the business interests of the State. A spirit of toleration has existed between employer and employee which is to be commended, and incipient troubles have been easily settled by discussion and mutual concession.
It is greatly to be desired that the friendly relations which have always existed between these great forces in Oregon may continue for all time. We have just witnessed a great strike in the Pennsylvania coal fields, which assumed national proportions and for time threatened serious results. Organized capital on the one side, so stubborn and arrogant that the goodly offices of the Chief Magistrate of the United States himself were met with contumely and insult, denied to labor the right to organize as well for its protection. The action of the President in trying to avert what promised to be a national calamity deserved, as it has received, the commendation of American citizenship, and his treatment at the hands of the coal operators aroused the attention and indignation of the whole people to such an extent that public sentiment drove the operators finally to consent to what the labor organization were at all times ready to accede to—arbitration of differences. It is to be hoped that the cool, determined and manly course of John Mitchell may continue to inspire the host of laboring men under his control, and his fellow citizens, with confidence in the uprightness of his intentions, and finally lead the operators to deal justly by and with the men in their employ.
Labor organization has come to stay, and will stay as long as conditions exist requiring it. In principle it is right. If owners of wealth can combine their interests, formulate trusts for control of production and output of every industry, stifle competition and control the prices of all commodities and the very necessaries of life, with labor disorganized, is it unreasonable to believe that the time would soon come when there would be a condition of almost absolute serfdom among the laboring classes of the country. Combinations of capital are recognized as legitimate by the legislatures and the courts of all the States, and slowly but surely both these branches of government are beginning to realize that capital is but the increment of labor, and its rights are at least equal if not paramount to those of the former. A healthy public sentiment is driving the courts from the extreme position once taken by them which scarcely recognized the rights of the working classes. Government by injunction is not so popular now as it was a few years since, and it is safe to predict that in a few years more it will be the exception rather than the rule to control men through appeals to courts of equity, instead of giving to them fair and impartial trails by juries of their peers, a right guaranteed by national and Stat constitutions.
Taking counsel from passing events, would it not be well here and now, in anticipation of what may yet be veiled in the womb of the future, to enact a law looking to the arbitration of disputes between capital and labor in cases where either agreements cannot be reached, or one or other of the parties to the controversy will not confer. One thing is certain, that where one party to a dispute declines to confer or submit to a fair and impartial tribunal of arbitration, it is taken by the citizen as a confession of weakness, and sentiment is apt to be arrayed on the side of him who proposes arbitration rather than on that of him who declines.
In this connection, while yet Oregon is in its infancy of industrial and commercial development, a law ought to be passed regulating the employment of children and minors in factories and workshops. Such legislation would not be seriously opposed at this time, because as yet, be it said to the credit of the State, child employment is measurably limited. But judging by the experience of other States, as manufacturing establishments increase in numbers and in operatives, and competition becomes active, the employment of children will increase in proportion and become engrafted in our social and industrial system. When that time arrives, curative legislation becomes difficult of accomplishment.
Acting then upon the theory that announce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, some legislation along the lines here suggested ought to be enacted.
Conditions have changed and are changing so rapidly that conservatism ought to be observed in all legislation along the lines suggested. In avoiding Scylla, let us not strikes Charybdis. “The individual is no longer the unit of competition,” some one has observed, “but an aggregation of individuals, called a corporation. Combination is the watchword, but out of it all let us hope may come true co-operation and a recognition of the solidarity of the race and the brotherhood of man. Our legislation must meet these changed and changing conditions.”
As a first step to a thorough understanding of the relative conditions of capital and labor in this State, a bureau of labor ought to be established or a commissioner appointed to inquire into and report to the next session of the legislature. Knowledge upon the subject is the first step in intelligent legislation, and this cannot be attained without a careful investigation by some man or body of men specially appointed for that purpose.
INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM
The people have seen fit to adopt an amendment to he constitution providing for the Initiative and Referendum. Official extravagance, and a disregard of the best interests of the commonwealth by legislative bodies, originated the demand for this innovation. Legislative contests over the election of United States Senators, and lobbies in the interest of railway and other corporations, have so obstructed legislation in years gone by, that many laws actually demanded have failed of enactment, while other absolutely without merit and vicious in their tendency have found lodgment on the statute books. As a means to check these evils—sins of omission and of commission—the Initiative and Referendum is to be attempted, and there is no question but that the effect will be beneficial. To give an amendment a fair trial some legislation ought to be had at this session to make it effective. It is urged by some gentlemen of eminent legal attainments that the provision is self operative, and that no legislation whatever is necessary, whilst others whose opinions are entitled to equal weight entertain an opposite view. With this latter view I concur. The fact that there is a difference of opinion on the subject suggests the propriety of the enactment of a law at this session that will set the question at rest by making it incumbent upon the proper officials to furnish the people with the necessary information and blanks for direct legislation, as well as for submitting to them under the referendum for their approval or disapproval such acts as the legislature may pass under the provisions of the constitution.
SUPPORT OF INSANE AND INCORRIGIBLE
Some provision ought to be made for compelling the near relatives of insane persons confined in the Asylum to contribute toward their support in cases where they are so situated financially as to be able to do so. And so with incorrigibles sent to the Reform School. Their parents, where able, should be made to assist the State in the support and education of their children. At the time when a patient is committed to the Asylum, or a boy sentenced to the Reform School, the Court could easily ascertain the financial conditions of the persons whose duty it should be to contribute to the support of these wards of the State, and render judgment accordingly. The enactment of such a law would result in a saving of many thousands of dollars to the State each year.
The State now has a contract with the Lowenberg & Going Company, executed February 1, 1899, and expiring July 29, 1905, for the labor of one hundred convicts at thirty-five cents per day of ten hours each; and for such additional number as said company may desire at the same price. These prisoners are engaged in the manufacture of stoves which are put upon the market in active competition with those manufactured by private enterprise employing free labor.
Steps should be taken now looking to the employment of convict labor, when this contract expires, so that it will not come in competition with free labor.
LIGHTING PUBLIC BUILDINGS
A report will be submitted to you with reference to the cost of lighting public buildings. I invite your earnest attention to this report, and suggest some legislation upon the subject, to be effective at the expiration of the present contract between the State and a private corporation. The State ought to own and operate its own light plant. This could be located at the Penitentiary and operated in part by convict labor.
The Columbia River and its tributaries ought to be kept open for navigation. The bar at the mouth of the Columbia is in such condition that it threatens injury to the commerce of the whole Northwest, and it is important that the attention of Congress be called to our present needs.
Eastern Oregon is an empire in itself. It is being developed by the enterprise of its citizens with startling rapidity. Its resources are unlimited and it is destined soon to be the greatest cereal producing section in the world. The time is no far distant when lines of railroad will penetrate into every part of it, and the natural direction for the shipment of all the products of the country is toward the Columbia River basin, and thence to the Pacific.
In order to cheapen transportation, and enhance the value of every commodity to the producer, all obstructions in the Columbia above the Cascade Locks should be removed. Where that is not possible, locks or portage roads should be constructed around them by the Federal Government, and that failing, the State itself should take some action in the premises. This was done at the Cascades, and there is no question but that the course of the State hastened Federal action, with the result that the locks there have been completed.
The money expended by the State in the portage road at the latter place was well spent, and has been returned a thousand fold to the producers of Eastern Oregon in the way of reduction of freights and consequent enhancement of prices.
The locks at the Falls of the Willamette ought to be owned and controlled by the national government, and if they cannot be purchased at private bargain, provision should be made by law for their condemnation and purchase for public use.
I suggest that the attention of our Senators and Representatives in Congress be called to these matters, and their active aid and cooperation asked to bring about a speedy opening up of these highways of commerce.
BOYS’ & GIRLS’ AID SOCIETY
I mean no invidious comparison with other charitable institutions when I commend to your consideration the Boys’ and Girls’ Aid Society. I have come in close official contact with the institution and its able management during the past two and one-half years. It has been instrumental in saving hundreds of innocent young boys and girls from lives of crime and shame. It is deserving of your confidence and hearty support.
The development of irrigation projects by private companies under the Cary Act, and by the United States under the Maxwell Act of 1902, makes essential some legislation governing water and riparian rights. The Act of 1901 of this State, accepting the provisions of the Carey Act, is crude. There should be further legislation along the same lines. But nothing should be done without the greatest deliberation and caution, for hasty action would undoubtedly involve one of the State’s greatest and most promising interests in interminable litigation and final disaster.
There is now in the State Treasury $729.435.42 of the Irreducible School Fund unloaned, and consequently bringing no revenue to the Public Schools. Under these circumstances, there is no reason for continuing the sale of the public lands of the State at minimum prices. It might be the part of wisdom to withdraw them from the market entirely for two years at least, but if the present policy of selling them is to be continued, the State Land Board ought to be invested with a broader discretion than they now possess, and permitted to refuse application to purchase, or to sell, either for their actual value after proper ascertainment thereof, or at public auction to the highest bidder, with power to reject any and all bids that might be offered.
Some provision ought to be made to enable the Board to ascertain and obtain the actual value of lands sought to be purchased. When application is made, the lands embraced therein should be appraised by the State Land Agent in connection with the local agent of the Board, or some disinterested persons, to be selected for that purpose at the expense of the applicant. There should be no further sacrifice of the remaining portion of the magnificent grants made by the general government to the State, for educational purposes. There have been at all times more or less abuses in connection with the sale of the public lands, and consequently much scandal has attached to various officials and private individuals because thereof. Duties which the law has intended should be performed by the clerk of the land board and other officials have not in times past been performed by them, and contemplated purchasers have been compelled to pay private individuals exorbitant prices for information which ought to be furnished by the records of the land department.
In his report to the Governor of Oregon, made in 1896, Hon. T.W. Davenport, State Land Agent, said: “It is not his” (the clerk’s) “duty now,” (to furnish information) “any more than it was the duty of his predecessors, ever since the office of clerk was organized in 1878; and there are no legal fees for the performance of his duties other than the official salary of $1500.00 a year. He cannot charge for information concerning state land matters, or for letters pertaining to them. It is almost needless to assert the self-evident proposition that he cannot abnegate any of his duties in favor of an outsider, and thereby get rid of them for any purpose, and especially to charge persons doing business within the office illegal fees, or to speculate in State lands. All such things go without saying, and yet there is sufficient evidence to establish a moral conviction, all over the State, that the clerks of the State Board have been doing just those forbidden things from 1887 to 1895. It is a fact that during the last mentioned period, purchasers of lieu land paid more than the legal rate, $1.25 per acre. In some instances as high as $4.00 per acre were paid; $1.25 went to the State and the remainder to those in the deal.” What was then said by the State Land Agent might, with equal propriety, be said today. There is something wrong somewhere, and there is no use trying to disguise it. The responsibility ought to be fixed, and a summary remedy applied. As one step in this direction, the records and maps in the officers of the State Land Board and State Land Agent ought to be brought down to date and reconciled immediately. They should show what school sections have been lost to the State, whether because of settlement, mineral character or forest reserve, and this information should be accessible to the public, without money and without price. No citizen should be compelled to pay any private individual for information which the public records, maps and plats, if properly kept, would disclose. As a second step toward the correction of existing abuses, base hunting of all kinds by private enterprise should be discontinued, discouraged and abolished. If base hunting can be done at a profit by the individual, it can be done at a profit by the State, and it is a well known fact that the person who furnishes base for lieu land selection makes more out of it than the State gets for the lands sold. The State owns the base upon which all these selections are made, and it cannot be deprived thereof without its voluntary act. It should not be permitted through any of its agents to part with this base, or to allow any private persons to select lands in lieu thereof. All selections made on account of losses to the State from any cause whatsoever should be made for the State, by itself, and these selections when made and finally approved, but not before, should be sold at their actual value.
Notwithstanding the fact that Mr. Davenport, in his report to the Governor in 1899, expressed the opinion that the sales of land as respects the States “are well-night closed,” they have continued without interruption since, and many of the mistakes to which he so pertinently called attention are being constantly repeated, to the detriment of the State’s good name and credit. Base hunting, upon a large scale, by private enterprise, has been and is being carried on with great profit to all concerned, except the State. The State, though nominally a party to proceedings to have school sections adjudicated as mineral, and so available as base for indemnity selections, has been taking no part in these transactions further than to allow its name to be used by private individuals for their own gain. Many thousands of acres of lieu lands have been sold by the State since Mr. Davenport’s last report, upon base which is now being held up in the Land Department of Washington. The greater part of this will, in all probability, be disapproved, and when this has been done, where does the purchaser stand? He has paid the base hunter his price, ranging from $1.00 per acre up, for the so-called base, has paid the State its price in part or in full for his lieu selection, has obtained a certificate or deed evidencing his purchase, and when the base is disapproved, his title fails. Provision is made by law to refund to him the amount paid to the State, with interest, but he loses the amount paid for base. In such event he feels, and even when a party to questionable practices pretends to feel, that he should be indemnified by the State for all his losses, because he holds the State’s certificate or deed for his purchase. These cancelled lands are subject to entry under the federal laws, and it not infrequently happens that a bona fide purchaser from the State has made improvements upon the same, or has sold them by warranty deed to other persons who have relied upon the State’s certificate or deed. Governor Lord permitted such persons to use about 38,000 acres of base out of the Cascade Reserve to perfect the title to their selections, at a loss to the State of over $47,000.00. Under the circumstances as they then exited, there was possibly some justification for permitting this to be done, to protect the credit of the State, but now that the attention of everyone has been called to the risk incurred in making purchases on base, which may not be approved, I, for one, propose to hold purchasers to the strict doctrine of caveat emptor, and if for any reason there is a failure of title because the base upon which the purchase from the State has been disapproved, appeals must be made to the Legislature rather than to the Executive, who, in the absence of legislative authority, does not propose to be generous at the expense of the taxpayers of the State.
It may be that land sales, so far as respects the State, are now “well-night closed,” still there remain some unsurveyed school sections within the forest reserves, and the State will in all probability lose other lands in reserves yet to be created, which, if properly handled, ought to realize a handsome sum for the Irreducible School Fund.
All selections should be made for these losses in the name of the State, and it would be well if they could be selected in a compact body. I suggest that you memorialize Congress, through your Senators and Representatives, that the State be permitted to make its selections in lieu of these losses on unsurveyed lands, if no others are available, in as compact a body as possible, either within or without the reserves. I have no doubt but that this can be accomplished, and it will result in vesting in the State a large body of valuable land, which can be sold at prices commensurate with its value. Such course, if it can be adopted, will have the effect, too, of cutting off the present system of speculation, which is indulged in at the expense, and to the discredit of the State.
In this connection, it might be proper to add that I am advised that deeds executed to individuals conveying many thousand acres of valuable land, are withheld by the grantees from record, and hence such lands entirely escape taxation. I suggest the enactment of a law requiring that these deeds be recorded within thirty days after delivery, and that upon failure so to do, a severe penalty be visited on the delinquents. These lands have been sold at low prices, and ought to contribute their just proportion to the burdens of the government.
The question, “How shall we utilize the activities of our convicts?” should receive your unremitting and most careful study. Its ideal solution would be one which should not only elevate the moral and physical condition of the prisoner, but at the same time employ his energies in such a way as to directly and positively benefit the public, and thus in a measure atone for the wrongs which his confinement is intended to expiate. Any plan which makes him a direct competitor of free labor is essentially erroneous. If he manufactures articles to be sold in open market, the element of cost which his enforced labor represents will inevitably lower the selling price and diminish the wage for similar goods not prison-made. This means fewer free artisans, a lower standard of living for those who do produce in the fact of such competition, less to buy with, and correspondingly less for those with whom they trade. The harm and loss reach to every part of our complex industrial and social fabric.
For a number of years certain of the States have employed a part of their convict labor in various processes of highway improvement. The advantages have been so gratifying that the practice is extending and other States are preparing to adopt this policy.
It furnishes healthful occupation for the minds and bodies of the prisoners, while its benefits to communities could hardly be overestimated. It generally leads to improvements which otherwise would not be made, with their concomitants of increased values, new population and more money for development in many ways.
I would suggest that at the present session the necessary steps be taken to secure comprehensive data on this subject, which shall be embodied in a report to the next Legislature as a basis for enactment which shall be adapted to the conditions and needs of our State.
LEWIS AND CLARK EXPOSITION
The people of Portland have capitalized a company for $500,000.00 for the purpose of holding an international exposition in 1905 in honor of the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the Lewis and Clark expedition in Oregon. The intrepid explorers who were sent by President Jefferson through a trackless wilderness to the mouth of the Columbia River gave the United States one of its principal claims to the sovereignty of the Oregon Country, and established it firmly upon the shores of the Pacific.
The exposition which will be held in commemoration of their courage, patriotism and achievements presents to the States comprising the old Oregon Country their first great opportunity to make known to the world the unparalleled advantages they offer to homebuilding and industrial enterprise. The State of Oregon should participate in the centennial.
I recommend that a liberal appropriation be made in behalf of the State, this fund to be carefully safeguarded and expended under the direction of a State Commission which shall be appointed by the Governor.
It is further recommended that so much thereof as said Commission may deem proper shall be expended under its direction for an exhibit of the resources of the State of Oregon at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition to be held at St. Louis, Missouri, next year.
OREGON HISTORICAL SOCIETY
The efforts which have been, and are now being made by the Oregon Historical Society to gather the material necessary to perpetuate the history of the acquisition and early settlement of Oregon, and the achievements of her heroic pioneer men and women, are most praiseworthy, and ought not only to be encouraged, but aided by the State. The names of those who took part in the stirring events which resulted in adding this vast territory to the National domain will soon be but a passing memory unless something is done now to obtain reliable, available information from the survivors. Much valuable historical data has already been obtained through the instrumentality of this Society, from old pioneers who have passed to the Great Beyond since its organization, and much more can be obtained from those who are yet spared to us.
A great part of what has been accomplished has been due to private enterprise, inspired by the patriotic pride of many of the early settlers and their descendants, aided by others, who, though they played no part in the early history of the State, have learned to appreciate the importance of present effort, where truth rather than tradition is desired. Jefferson once wrote, that “History may distort truth, and will distort it for a time, by the superior efforts at justification of those who are conscious of needing it most. The opening scenes of our present government will not be seen in their true aspect until letters of the day, now held in private hoards, shall be broken up and laid open to public view.” And so it might be said that the truth concerning the early history of Oregon will surely be distorted by the would-be historian of the future, unless the records and letters now held in the private hoards of those who laid the foundations of our present State government are now obtained and laid open to public view. This cannot well be done without money, and it can never be done at as small an expense as now. I earnestly urge that an appropriation be made to assist the Oregon Historical Society in the laudable work in which it is now engaged.
REAPPORTIONMENT OF THE STATE
A glance at the act of 1899 redistricting the State into senatorial and representative districts is sufficient to condemn it as a measure of the grossest partisanship, entirely without merit, and wholly unjust to many of the border counties of the State. Taxation without representation is un-American, and yet as the several senatorial and representative districts are constituted, under the act referred to, some of the counties, if not entirely unrepresented, are practically so. Take for instance the ninth senatorial district, extending from the Columbia River on the north to the California line on the south, with one joint senator for the counties of Wasco, Crook, Lake and Klamath.
Other districts might be mentioned where the apportionment is equally as unjust, but I merely cite this as an example of many others. If more than one county is to be included in a senatorial district, the territory embraced therein ought to be compact, as well as contiguous, so that when a senator is elected he will be in close touch with his constituents, and familiar with their wants.
What is said in reference to senatorial districts is equally applicable to the representative districts. The innate sense of justice of every member of the legislature ought to suggest the propriety of redistricting the State, upon a basis of justice to the people, rather than upon one that has for its object the furthering of the interests of any political party or faction of a party. The great wonder is that the voters of the several gerrymandered districts have not risen in political rebellion at the injustice which has been perpetrated against them. That they have not done so is no sign that they will not, in the near future, and to avoid the possibility thereof, something ought to be done at this session to remedy what every impartial observer must concede to be a rank injustice to many sections of the State.
In conclusion, gentlemen, I promise you my undivided support in whatever is for the best interest of the State. Providence has blessed us with a most delightful climate and a soil so fertile that “it needs to be tickled to smile forth an abundant harvest.” Our mountains are covered with magnificent forests, and bear within their bosoms untold millions of mineral wealth.
These things all combined are inviting to our confines their homebuilder from the great sisterhood of States, and capital for investment from all the world, and Oregon is on the even of an unprecedented industrial and commercial development. But the tide of immigration can be checked, the march of improvement stayed, and the hopes of an era of commercial and industrial prosperity blighted by unwise laws and the imposition of burdensome, unnecessary and unjust taxes upon the people. That this may not be, I sincerely trust that your deliberations may be harmonious and characterized by the supremest wisdom and the loftiest and purest patriotism.
GEO. E. CHAMBERLAIN