Governor A.C. Gibbs' Administration
Inaugural Message, 1862
Source: Journals. Local Laws Oregon., 1862, Appendix, Special Message, Page 58.
Gentlemen of the Legislative Assembly:
At an early day I may seek an opportunity to call your attention to some matters of general legislation. As a coordinate branch of government, it will afford me pleasure, when necessary, to co-operate with you in the discharge of your important duties.
Upon a proper education of a free people, depends the stability of their institutions. I doubt whether a republican form of government can long exist without general education among the masses. The subject of popular education has attracted considerable of my attention, and it will be my pleasure, as well as duty, as superintendent of public instruction, to elevate the standard of education, in Oregon, as much as my limited influence and acquirements will permit. The common school, the academy and college, are intimately connected, and each dependent upon the other, and should be encouraged.
We may congratulate ourselves that congress has provided the means for making farming more honorable and useful, by donations of land to each State, for the establishment of agricultural colleges. The friends of free labor have long urged the importance of such donations, while they have been opposed by those who prefer to do the thinking and let others perform the labor.
Now is the time to accept the proposition of the Government and take the initiatory steps in organizing a system of instruction which, I trust, may be of incalculable benefit to the rising generation of Oregon. Let the experiment be fairly made, and it is to be hoped the result will prove all that has been desired by its most ardent friends.
Allow me to congratulate you, and, through you, the people of Oregon, that peace and prosperity surround us. The prospects for Oregon were never more promising, save the shadows from the fires of secession which are blazing around our childhood homes. Though we have had a winter of unprecedented severity and devastating floods, no traitorous hand has been raised to tear down our national flag and subvert our beloved institutions. A wicked rebellion is raging east of the Rocky Mountains, with all its devastating fury.
The Border States are being desolated; the cries of the sick and wounded, and moans of the mother, widow and orphan, may be heard in every town. These evils, as yet, have been spared us. While this is so, it may be well to pause and consider how near our feet have approached the awful gulf of secession which was yawning, partially concealed, but a few paces before us. A Senator, in whose hands Oregon had been "as clay in the hands of the potter," stood in the American Senate on the 2nd of March, 1861, and said: "Whether the course of seceding States have seen fit to take, be right or not, is a question which we must leave to posterity and the verdict of impartial history." And, speaking of the "Confederate States," he said: "I look upon that government as one of the finest experiments on the face of the earth, or in the history of mankind, embodying the purist patriotism, the highest order of statesmanship and the greatest amount of talent and administrative capacity that can be found among the same number of people in any government on the face of the globe."
But a short time ago the traitor, Albert Sidney Johnston, was in command of the entire military of the Pacific coast. And with him came an unprecedented number of arms, sent, too, at a time of general peace with all our Indians. Some of the Federal officers on the coast are known to have been disloyal. One Indian Agent in Oregon, after the plot was discovered and broken up, boastingly left the State, to join the rebel army, in which he now holds a commission. Some of the Indians left the reservation and went to their old homes, stating that those who had charge of them had told them there was no government now. The re-enactment of the scenes of Kentucky and Tennessee were prevented on this coast by the attention of Union men and vigilance of the Administration. All honor to both!
The all-absorbing question of the day is, how to put down the rebellion and pay the expenses of the war. A great majority of the people of Oregon are loyal men—willing to pay their taxes, aid in the circulation of United States Treasury notes without a murmur—to do any act prompted by the spirit of our fathers when they mutually pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes and sacred honors, to establish this Government. There is but one line between union and disunion. Those who are not for us are against us. It has been often and truly said that "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty!" Mark its pregnant truths at this time, and watch those who carp at every real or imaginary error of the Administration, and are complaining of the "tax bill," because a small portion of their fortunes is required to preserve civil and religious liberty in America.
Honorable gentlemen, nearly all of you, like myself, were elected under a pledge "to support the officers of the Government in all constitutional means to put down the present wicked rebellion." The proposition that the Government has no power to weaken its enemies, in open arms against it, by taking their property—that their lives may be taken, but not their property—is, to my mind, too absurd for discussion. A secessionist should have no property, in Negroes, or anything else. Property is power; and should we leave it in rebel hands, to be wielded against us, while the bones of our countrymen are bleaching on the fields of a hundred battles, and while hundreds of thousands of our fellow-citizens are liable to share the same fate? I consider it my highest duty, as well as pleasure, to do all I can, and exert all the influence of my present position, at home and abroad, in putting down secession and preserving the best Government in the world. And, by repentance, humiliation and reformation, we should strive to remove all further cause for visitations of Gods’ judgments upon our State and nation—remembering that He that ruleth the hosts of Heaven holds in his hands the destinies of nations.