Governor LaFayette Grover's Administration

Inaugural Address, 1870

Source: Inaugural Address of Gov. LaFayette Grover to the Legislative Assembly September 14, 1870, Salem, Oregon, T. Patterson, State Printer, 1870.


Salem Oregon, Sept. 14, 1870

Gentlemen of the Senate And House of Representatives:

In assuming the duties of Chief Executive, it is becoming in me to acknowledge the ample favors which an all-wise Providence has lavished upon us as a people.

Abundant harvests have been gathered, health prevails, and peace reigns throughout our borders.

We are now entering upon an important period of our development as a State. Our infancy as a Territorial Government has passed into history. Our early struggle as a young State of the Union has already turned the point of successful trial, and we now stand in the threshold of coming strength and power.

With a territory ranking among the largest of the sisterhood, with a soil equal to the best, and a climate of a salubrity and healthfulness enjoyed by none other, with resources for the employment of industry of great variety and extent, it would seem difficult to predict for Oregon anything short of a most successful career. In fact, with a creditable management of public affairs, nothing stands in the way of our prosperity.

At this juncture of our advancement, a vital question presents itself for determination. Our State is sparsely peopled. It is capable of supporting a dense population. We are about to reach out and take by the hand thousands who will come and make their homes among us.

Shall we look eastward to the older States and to Europe, or shall we look westward to Asia? Shall the Caucasian or shall the Mongolian be invited to be co-laborers with us in building up the state? Labor has been, and will continue to be, the capital of the immigrant. To European immigration, America has heretofore offered higher wages and more abundant means of support than the home country. Labor, therefore, both skilled and unskilled, has flown to us from Europe, constantly swelling our ranks, and enriching the country with its industry and our ranks, and enriching the country with its industry and genius. To this source our nation has owed the wonderful impetus of our progress in wealth and numbers.

In receiving this population, we have not ceased to be a homogeneous people; for they have been of the stock whence were derived the first American Colonies. They have been bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. Their labor has become represent in lands and houses, herds and flocks, orchards and vineyards, mills and merchandise - all with us and of us.

Their property has borne is equal burden of taxation and they have shared our perils and hardships in war, and our responsibilities in peace. They speak our language, and, respecting and cherishing the principles of our Government, they mingle with us congenially in all our institutions; their children are educated with ours, and both are reared together to be one people.

We can, therefore, hail the coming of this class of immigration in common with that from our older States, and welcome them among us with favor and satisfaction as brothers.

But what of the Mongolian?

An acquaintance of twenty years with the Chinese upon the Pacific Coast enables us to define is traits and qualifications with sufficient certainty.

He is unacquainted with our language, or with any language having elements common with ours. He is unaccustomed to our modes of thought, either in a social, moral or religious point of view. He is incapable of assimilating himself to our habits of life, and even his education is a discipline the reverse of our forms of reason and action, both public and private.

He is uninfluenced by our examples and observances; our Courts, even, can administer no oath, which will bind his conscience. He is a Pagan in his religion, and an absolutist in his ideas of government.

He comes with no family, but his associations are with harlots of his own race. While living here he is subject to law inscrutable to us, and when dead his body is returned to the land from whence he came. He respects neither our Government nor our soil. There is not a single tie of common brotherhood between us and him; although we admit a common humanity, he denies even this.

These features of his character are ingrained in his being, and are established as unchangeable by a history of four thousand years.

His coming among us is not from long or even respect for our institutions - it is solely for gain. But his gains are not that thrift which attaches itself to the country, becoming visible and taxable property, bearing its proportion of the burdens of government, but they are the results of delving in mines or serving for wages, all of which are hoarded and sent away to China. The ruined village and the deserted plain are places where he has wrought the most.

The money, which he as earned is represented nowhere in the fixed property of the country. China has been made richer, and America has been made poorer by his presence.

Can we build up our State based on the immigration of the Asiatic? The common answer is that we cannot. For American and European labor will never consent to contest the field with Chinese labor; and as soon as it is understood that the Mongolian is to be encouraged here, the European will cease to come. Which will we have - the wealth, the intellect, the virtues, the accumulations and the association of our kinsmen, or the vices of the Pagan, and the absorbing and leeching process of his work among us? I need not answer. Recent demonstrations of the people fully respond to these inquiries.

A careful observation of the course of the Chinese Government will fully indicate the fact that it is the settled policy of that people to draw upon the resources of all other nations in every available form; and their peculiar control over their own subjects facilitates the accomplishment of their purposes in this respect to a remarkable extent. The last hundred years have witnessed all Europe and America shipping to them their treasure and taking in exchange the peculiar products of China.

Whenever the Chinese have been permitted to go abroad, they seem still to have been under the control of the home government, to the extent at least, that their earnings have been returned to their native land.

To facilitate this policy of the Chinese government, they have lately procured the ratification of a treaty at Washington, by which, as the compact declares, "citizens of the United States visiting or residing in China, shall enjoy the same privileges, immunities, or exceptions in respect to travel or residence as may enjoyed by the citizens or subjects visiting or residing in the United States shall enjoy the same privileges, immunities, or exemptions in respect to travel or residence as may be enjoyed by the citizens or subjects of the most favored nation."

The pretended reciprocity of this treaty is an absurdity. The most favored nation stands on the narrowest limits in China, but in the United States, upon the broadest. By this treaty our people receive no enlargement of rights in China, but the Chinese are admitted freely to our unexhausted wealth, - they are even admitted to our mines without tax or tribute to our government - privilege which no other government ever guaranteed to an alien.

China aggregates a population greater than tat of all Europe and the United States combined. She hangs like a portentous cloud over our political horizon. Her people may swarm upon us like locusts. Their coming will unhinge labor; derange industry; demoralize the country; and by claiming and receiving the ballot may upturn our system of government altogether; for the most serious apprehension from the present policy of the general government to enfranchise all inferior and servile races, and to encourage their immigration to the United States, is, that the ballot system may become despicable.

This view alarms those who revere our institutions, and who believe that intelligence, virtue and honor constitute the only safe basis of a free government.

It is said that if we restrain the immigration or importation of Chinese, we abandon the hereditary policy of the government.

This objection is not well taken. Our government in this respect, was framed upon the idea that the States held the right to admit or exclude such persons as they should deem proper, and Congress was prohibited from even excluding any class of persons previous to the year 1808. (Art. 1, Sec. 9, U.S. Constitution.) Since that date Congress has exercised this right by prohibiting the importation of Africans; and the naval power of the government has been used to enforce the prohibition.

Our government has removed Indians from State to Territories and from One Territory to another, and confined them to limited boundaries. The States have exercised the right to exclude paupers and other classes of persons constantly, from the beginning of our history.

The States now hold the right to admit or exclude such foreign persons as they choose to admit or exclude, subject only to the treaty of making power.

By the 31st section of the Bill of Rights in our Constitution, the Legislature has authority to restrain and regulate the immigration to this State of persons not qualified to become citizens of the United States. Were it not for the existence of this treaty, the State could exercise the power to protect itself against the incursions of such of the Chinese as it should deem detrimental to its wellbeing.

I regard it, therefore, to be of the gravest consequence that the late treaty with China, and the policy on which it is based, receive our earnest and vigorous protest.

Upon the subject of immigration, I herewith submit a communication received from a committee of the Board of Trustees of the Labor Exchange Association of Portland and recommend the same to your favorable consideration, as emanating from a source worthy of high respect.

Since your last meeting, by the promulgation of the so called 15th Amendment to the Constitution of the United State, Oregon has been deprived de facto of the first element of its Constitution, guaranteed by her admission into the Union - the right to regulate suffrage.

In the Farewell Address of Washington, we have the following remarkable and prophetic admonition: "Toward the preservation of your government and the permanency of your present happy state, it is requisite not only tat you speedily discountenance irregular opposition to its acknowledged authority, but also that you resist with care the spirit of invasion upon its principles, however specious the pretexts. One method of assault may be to effect, in the forms of the Constitution, alterations which impair the energy of the system, and thus to undermine what cannot be directly overthrown."

The spirit of invasion upon the principles of the Constitution of the United States, of which we have been forewarned, has already been abroad, and it has adopted the very method of assault specifically pointed out.

It has struck at the vital forces of our system and sought to implant therein the essential elements of tyranny. It has attacked the principle of local self-government in the States, which is the chief corner stone of our whole political fabric.

While discountenancing irregular opposition to even assumed authority on the part of the General Government in this respect, I shall not forbear placing on record my settled conviction that the two propositions last promulgated as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, effecting as they do such violence to the inherent and reserved rights of the several States, have never been legally sanctioned; and while we yield to superior force exercised in the forms of law, let our Constitution stand sustained by the will of her people as a living monument of the former dignity of the States of the Union, and as a land-mark of American liberty.

In order to cure the numerous complications and inconsistencies into which the late distracted condition of the country has thrown our fundamental laws, both State and National, at the proper time I would recommend that Oregon join with her sister States in proposing a call for a convention of all the States to frame amendments to the Constitution of the United States, to which when fairly ratified by the Legislatures or Conventions of three-fourths of the States, elected upon the issues submitted, all the State would cheerfully acquiesce and conform their local Constitutions thereto.

This course will probably become necessary in order that the co-ordinate branches of the General Government be better entrenched in their rights, and that the rights of the States be re-defined and acknowledged.

The State is in want of public buildings, while every succeeding year shows that the necessity for their erection is growing more and more imperative. Prudence, indeed, would dictate that we proceed slowly with these works, but nevertheless we should be making some progress in this direction. I would therefore suggest that provision be made during the present session for the gradual erection of some one of the public buildings most needed.

By the 10th Section of the Act of Congress of 27th September, 1850, making donations of public lands in Oregon, the quantity of two Townships of land were donated to aid in the establishment of a University of Oregon. Also, by the 11th Section of the same Act there were granted for the same purpose parts of what was known as the "Oregon City Claim." By the 4th Section of the Act of Congress of Feb. 14th, 1859, admitting the State of Oregon into the Union, it was provided "that seventy-two sections of land shall be set apart and reserved for the use and support of a State University, to be selected by the Governor of said State, to be appropriated and applied in such manner as the Legislature of said State may prescribe for the purpose aforesaid, but for no other purpose."

These lands have been located and many of them sold, and the funds arising from the sales have been invested to use of the University Fund, but in what amounts I have not now the means of stating.

These funds, however, have, by the terms of the Constitution, been inhibited from expenditure until the period of ten years from the adoption of the Constitution, "unless the same should be otherwise disposed of by the consent of Congress, for common school purposes." The period of ten years limitation from the adoption of the Constitution has elapsed, and Congress has not only not consented to these funds being otherwise disposed of, but has specifically enjoined by act subsequent to the framing of our Constitution, that as to the seventy-two sections of land, they should be applied for the use and support of a University, "but for no other purpose." These funds therefore are subject to being marshaled now, and of being devoted to the establishment of a State University.

Allied to these provisions of Congress for a State University, is the Act of the second of July, 1862, making a grant of 90,000 acres of public lands for the establishment of an Agricultural College.

This grant has been accepted by the State, and provision for the location of the lands have been duly made, and the lands have been selected, and of excellent quality and location.
For the purpose of establishing the Agricultural College within the time required by the act making the grant, the Legislature at its last session designated Corvallis College as the Agricultural College of the State, but this designation was limited to the term for two years. It would appear that to meet the purposes of the grant steps for a permanent location of this institution should be taken.

The report of the chief officers of Corvallis College, touching the connection of that institution with the Agricultural College, submitted to me, is herewith accompanying. The report shows that the College has performed this duty assigned it by every available means, and I commend the suggestions therein to your favorable notice.

Competency of support is as necessary to success in institutions of learning as in other undertakings. If the University funds and the fund arising from the Agricultural College grant, could be united and properly administered, they would constitute a solid foundation for a State institution of high order, - one that would assist greatly to hold up the standard of education in the State.

Our Penitentiary has always been a serious charge upon the State. This has resulted from the want of the appliances and the discipline necessary to engage the convicts in a well-adapted system of continuous industry.

Constant systematic employment is probably one of the most humane, and at the same time one of the most valued means of reform used in public prison. There is ample water power within the prison grounds now belonging to the State, available for all ordinary mechanical uses; also, a liberal amount of land adapted to prison use; so that it will be only a matter of organization and discipline with a moderate outlay of money in the initiation of the work, to enable this institution to become not only self-sustaining but possibly to render a revenue to the State. If the Assembly should consider that further legislation is necessary to enable the superintendent to place the Penitentiary on a self-sustaining basis, I respectfully ask your attention thereto.

At the last biennial session of the Legislature no appropriations were made for the support of the State Government during the following two years. The result has been that two annual collections of revenue have accumulated in the Treasury, and the public debts and liabilities have been outstanding and drawing interest against the State.

I urge early action of your body upon this important subject, in order that justice be done the public creditor and that the further accumulation of interest be stopped.

It is apprehended that on account of absence of means to defray the State expenses certain warrants, though issued for necessary contingencies, have been without legal authority, and will demand legislation beyond mere appropriation to secure their payment by the Treasurer. It would be just in these cases that warrants issued for fixed salaries and allowances be legalized and paid in full. But where a greater amount has been allowed to any claimant than would have been demanded, had the State not been in distress for want of appropriation, I think the law authorizing payment should provide for an equitable adjustment.

The 4th section of the Act of Congress of February 14th, 1859, provides "that five per cent of the net proceeds of sales of all public lands lying within said State, which shall be sold by congress after the admission of said State into the Union, after deducting all expenses incident to the same, shall be paid to said State for the purpose of making public road and internal improvements, as the Legislature shall direct."

The amount of this fund should now be considerable, and there are several works of great importance and commanding necessity, which the State should push forward, or encourage by every constitutional means.

The State also entitled to the proceeds of the sales of five hundred thousand acres of land, under the Act of September 4, 1841, on her admission into the Union. This grant was specifically made for the purpose of internal improvements; but by Article 8th, Section 2d, of our Constitution, this fund is enumerated as a part of the provision for common schools, if Congress shall consent to such appropriation.

The consent of Congress has never been given to this diversion. I recommend that specific application be made to Congress for its consent to the use of this fund for common schools, according to the provision of our Constitution. In case this consent is withheld, the fund may then be treated as available for internal improvements.

Specific grants of lands in liberal amounts have been made by congress for railroads and wagon roads within the State, and I am happy to note the fact that, stimulated by this assistance, good wagon roads have been made, opening up communication to every part of the interior. And railroads have been projected to connect Oregon and California, and with the East by way of the North Pacific line, while shorter lines are to connect us with other leading points of communication.

Fifty miles of the Oregon and California railroad, connection Salem, the Capital with Portland, the metropolis, have already been completed, and we now feel the impulse of more rapid communication. These public works should be fostered, and as far as the State has power or influence, should be made to inure to the benefit of all parts of the State equally.

Foreign insurance companies are carrying on an extensive business within our State. They receive the protection of our laws and derive profits from their business here, without being subject to any proportionate contribution to support our Government.

It is customary in other States to tax such corporations upon some proper basis; for instance, a percentage upon their gross receipts within the State - and I am informed that such assessments are regarded by the parties interested as but just, and are cheerfully paid.

The revenue inuring to the State from this source, under a well devised law for that purpose providing the usual rates of taxation, would approximate the sum of ten thousand dollars annually.

As these insurance companies do business throughout the State, I would recommend that the present law requiring them to deposit securities with the County Treasurers in the county where they hold their principal office, be so amended as to require the same to be deposited with the State Treasurer, as more appropriate and better suited to public convenience.

The important duties and the growing responsibilities which are cast upon the Executive office of Private Secretary will be one of labor and constant attention to business. As no other clerical force is allowed, it appears to me that such pay should be provided for this officer as would at least secure the services of a competent book-keeper in an ordinary mercantile house. The sum of six hundred dollars per annum, now allowed by law, is entirely inadequate. The same remark is applicable to the salary of the assistant Secretary of State, which is four hundred dollars per annum. These two offices require competent, capable and responsible men, exclusively devoted to their several duties; such cannot be secured without fair compensation.

In the organization of our Judiciary the framers of the Constitution provided that a single class of Judges should hold both the Supreme Court and Circuit Courts, but that when the population of the State should amount to two hundred thousand, the Legislative Assembly might provide for the election of Supreme and Circuit Judges in distinct classes.

It was evidently anticipated that at first the labor of the Courts would not be excessive, while the condition of the State dictated economy in all departments.

While I do not think we have reached the amount of population required by the Constitution to entitle us to a separate Supreme court, an act, properly framed, providing for such Court and the election of Judges at our next biennial election, would meet with the Executive sanction, as I believe by that time the limit of population will have been substantially reached, that the welfare of the State requires separate Courts, and that, by the present organization, the labor devolved upon the Judges is excessive.

The Asylum for the Insane is the foster child of the State. In the provision for the unfortunate, the best humanities of a people are exhibited. I need not ask you to extend a kind hand to this institution.

The deaf and dumb and the blind must ere long be provided for also.

Our State needs much well considered legislative labor at your hands, of which, as your body is composed of men of large experience, you will be the better judges. I will however, further suggest that there should be a thorough revision of our Common School system, so that it shall be organized upon the idea of efficiency in every department.

The management and disposal of the State lands constitutes an important public trust, and good faith to the occupants and purchasers requires that there should be provided such official service, in respect to tenure and disposal, as will place titles beyond chance of falling into confusion.

In conclusion, gentlemen, allow me to congratulate you upon the promptness and harmony which have signalized your organization. It will be taken as an earnest of your devotion to duty, and as a promise to the country of an industrious and successful session.

And now, in the presence of all the Department of our proud young State, assembled here by your invitation, permit me the expression: - In our laws, let us have wisdom; in their adjudication by the Courts, justice; and in their administration and final execution, faithfulness and firmness. In this sentiment I promise you the performance of my part.


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