Governor Charles H. Martin's Administration
Inaugural Message, 1935
Source: STATE OF OREGON Inaugural Message Of CHARLES H. MARTIN Governor of Oregon To the Thirty-eighth Legislative Assembly 1935
My Friends and Fellow Citizens:
Oregon is a great state. Its chief strength lies in potential resources rather than developments already accomplished.
My only desire in taking the governorship is to aid our people to make more rapid and substantial progress. If I can attain this end, in some outstanding way, every ambition hoarded as a citizen of our state will have been accomplished.
This is an age of opportunity. A new order of economics is entering the national mind. Oregon must adapt herself to this, marshal her strength for quick and effective action and rise to her national duty.
Success in bringing our state from its present rank, among the three commonwealths facing the Pacific, up to the forefront, can be achieved only if all of our people are willing to concentrate themselves upon a program of construction, development and tangible progress. I dedicate everything I possess to this cause. I most earnestly beseech our citizenship, regardless of party affiliation, group district, county or other identity, to join me in a determined, forward looking, patriotic struggle.
Our history is luminous with names and deeds. Pioneers who settled here stand high in the forces of civilization. The sufferings and privations, endured, the courage manifested and the fortitude exemplified in every state of the trek across the continent and in the combat with the aborigines and the forces of nature, will forever stand high on history’s page.
I turn to our pioneer forbears in a sense of deepest reverence and greatest affection. They built well. They dominated every element that undertook to thwart their way. They put life and strength into the fundamentals, which were intended to be the foundation of one of America’s greatest commonwealths.
Think for a minute of what this pioneer ancestry did for us. They led in water transportation, reaching the distant markets of the Pacific shorelines. They navigated the waters of the interior, with strong companies, possessing the most modern equipment of the age, for such service. They spread out over the soil and initiated agricultural production on the Pacific Coast in a substantial way. They entered into our towering and forbidding forests and in these deep, dark recesses laid the foundation for cities, industries and farms. They financed the business of the Northwest. Their traders penetrated every section of this region. In the great social and economic struggles of the nation, marking that period, they aligned themselves with those powers, which were carving the structure for the greatest democracy civilization has produced. They were builders, creators and workers.
A few of their accomplishments are worthy of our review. Deep-sea ships, then more than now, carried our commerce, and, as the genius of man built larger ships carrying power within for their movement, they realized that a great port must be provided. In the early eighties, through their insistent demands, they secured from the Board of Engineers of the United States Army a plan for conquering the mouth of the Columbia. When this plan was approved by the best engineers the nation possessed, they fought for the funds to carry it through. Mastery of the Columbia’s entrance was then regarded the most difficult engineering feat before any American harbor and its successful conclusion must be rated today the highest in this line of construction. They started the work for a deep-sea channel from the Pacific to Portland and Vancouver. It has been taken to a 35-foot project stage, which, with the magnificent results accomplished at the mouth of the river, is capable of admitting the greatest ships of the Pacific to this port. It cost great sums of money, but it has been done and is today one of the foundation stones in this splendid economic structure.
The Oregon Steam navigation Company reached into the interior as well as toward the sea. Pioneers whose named will forever live in our history wrought well and carried our commerce to every section of this river basin, serving producer, tradesman and financier in the most exemplary manner.
These pioneers set the stride for agricultural production, inaugurated the lumber and wood products industry, joined hands with first railways in bringing them here, established colleges and universities that were leaders of their day, sailed ships with our products to the Orient, to Alaska and to the Eastern seaboard, operated banks that financed the major business requirements of the Northwest, developed newspapers which were unique and most powerful, initiated the pulp paper industry for this region, utilized in a modern way for the first time hydro-electric energy, lead the program for marketing flour abroad, created the salmon fishing industry on the Pacific Coast, built the first great hotel for the Pacific Northwest and did many other things which are the product of leadership, courage and energy.
With the passing of that generation, our leadership was lost. Agriculture, horticulture, dairying, canning, pulp paper manufacture, flour milling, salmon packing, distributive business, total industrial products and other lines of business face superiority both to the north and south of us. Our educational institutions have been forced to secondary rank in comparison with others on the Pacific Coast.
Why did all this happen? Because you and I did not deeply love our Oregon and were not willing to give enough of our time and means and were so humble in our position that we permitted the score against us. When the railroads entered the Pacific Northwest, they at first recognized our position. AS control of these mighty transportation interests shifted to Wall Street, major ports to the north and south received a tremendous impetus. We did not have the initiative, the courage, nor the strength to prevent. We permitted doubt to prevail about the ultimate achievement of developing the Columbia. We did not challenge with our natural strength a trend shaping the eastern finance center and which was not to our highest benefit.
A new order has arrived for us as well as for the rest of the nation. This mighty river system, which was once the main artery of northwestern business, is about to be restored to its inherent position. Our President, with a forward-looking patriotism, has wrested control of finance from that group which saw us in a minor role. He has ordered the beginning of the development of the Columbia and the beginning of a development of our other great resources. He has set a new stage for us, is giving us a new opportunity and invites us to rise again.
Our opportunity today will be measured by our courage, our faith and our energy. Gravity alone will not bring us what we deserve. Man’s strength must shape and direct, even the forces which gravity control. “Every great institution is the height and shadow of a great man.”
Let me beseech you now to rise in your strength; permit me to place myself wholly and completely at the call of a new and a greater Oregon; pledge yourselves to take up these great basic things with a determination that they shall have their proper position in the nation’s economic system.
Bonneville construction is but the beginning of what we have hoped and prayed might be. That project was located at tidewater with a purpose. That purpose was to start navigation of the Columbia River on a sound engineering basis. That purpose also represented the idea of getting great blocks of cheap energy developed as closely as was humanly possible to a large population and industrial center where there was a market and also to have the available energy which federal funds make possible located on a navigable stream and on the most modern and effective land transportation lines. It is the gem of all the federal projects now under construction because of its cheapness, its accessibility and its proximity to an industrial market. It may be converted into a mighty instrumentality for our development, our happiness and our success. Let me again appeal to you to recognize this opportunity and to place your strength and energy behind the program that will make it serve this purpose.
We must navigate the Columbia, the Snake and the Willamette. Improvements for this work should be pressed with the utmost diligence. Our producers of the interior need this great facility. Such work is not aimed to destroy or impair any existing transportation line, but rather to bring into play natural advantages, natural assets which belong to our people and which they should be permitted to use for their own betterment.
Let us also dedicate ourselves to the further improvement of these waterways as rapidly as this work may humanly be accomplished. We should aid the Federal Government in selling the energy produced at Bonneville, until all available is on the market, and then we should step steadily and in a most determined spirit on up the Columbia and into the Snake and up the Willamette and any other navigable streams.
Our greatest resources are land, water, forest products, minerals, climate, and scenery. In the light of last year’s sad experience, wherein ordinarily beneficent nature failed to provide in large areas of the Mississippi Basin the moisture needed for human needs, our Columbia Basin, and other parts of Oregon, stood high. We had abundant moisture. Much of our waters ran away in flood wastes, destroying land and homes. Our farmers did well and our lands have been brought to the national attention as at no other time within recent history. We must capitalize this dependable, stable asset in a sound business program. Again, it has been proven that we occupy geographically the favored habitat of the human race. We must organize our household in such a manner as to bring this fact to the attention of capital seeking investment and people seeking new homes. This opportunity is a duty, which devolves on you and me. We must approach it in full strength.
Much of a tangible and constructive nature must be done in respect to Oregon’s agriculture and farms. Our farm population for many years has not received the average income to which they are entitled. Progress has been made in organizing them for better work, but there is much yet to be done in this line. I hope to be instrumental in helping our worthy farmers further to adapt themselves to those products and types of agriculture, which will yield them a larger gross return and a better profit. We have a great, rich state and we must find the way of getting our farm people on to a better business basis.
We have a national leadership in President Franklin D. Roosevelt, which is turning to the “forgotten man” and to forgotten opportunities. This new national scheme is intended to be fair to all. It is bringing us opportunities of magnificent character. Ultimate results will depend upon ourselves. It is no time for petty bickerings or community jealousies. I pledge myself to the broadest and most effective possible program and I solicit earnestly and deeply you full co-operation.
The burden of the hour is unemployment and non-remunerative production. Our people must be employed and not be permitted to drift into that demoralized state toward which the dole and charity lead. Americans have a right to work. There can be no hunger and suffering, if not by the voluntary bid of the individual. While taking care of those who, through no fault of their own, have been deprived of the means of sustenance, let us keep our eyes steadfastly upon those forces which will, through development and creation of new opportunities, preserve our people in the richness and bounty of human comfort which every courageous Oregonian deserves.
Most of us assembled here today are newcomers to the State Government. The results of the recent general election must be as significant to you as to me. The tremendous vote cast for liberal and progressive candidates is a mandate of the great majority of our people for a New Deal in state government as well as national. Voters of other states have issued this same mandate. It cannot be ignored. None of us are here because of our personal popularity; we are here because of the liberal policies supported in our campaign.
This mandate of the voters not only calls for a greater development of the resources of the state and greater opportunity for economic security for those who toil but for grater efficiency and economy in government as well.
If Oregon is to meet its obligation in this regard, we must initiate and follow a direct and forward course of action. In other words, we must have a plan and a program. My conception of this plan and program will be submitted in detail in later messages to the Legislature.
On the pressing question of taxation, it seems to me we are already collecting ample tax money to meet our purposes of state and local government and to take care of relief or social insurance demands besides, if we use a little more common business sense in spending it. It is not unlikely that present levies might even be reduced if government operations were conducted with less extravagance, resulting from duplication, overlapping, and “third-leg” services (not needed) and substituting therefore centralized control and decentralized operation.
Private business throughout the nation has been compelled to get along on greatly reduced operating income in the face of extensive fixed operating cost in the past few years. It has generally been able to do so and survive. I see no reason why the state and local government cannot do the same if practical business economy and efficiency are employed.
I do not see where we are going to get more tax money. Property is already taxed beyond the point of endurance; incomes and intangibles cannot be materially increased without jeopardizing the very existence of our business; and the people have repeatedly voiced their disapproval of any form of sales tax. It must, therefore, be obvious to all that we must make a greater effort to get along with what we are now collecting.
I have taken an oath to support and enforce the laws of he state. It goes without saying that law and order must be preserved for the protection of society. I propose that my administration shall be as strong as the law.
I shall go along with the National Administration in a relentless warfare against crooks, whether big or small, and shall insist that our local authorities give their full faith and support.
Society must be sharply awakened to meet the challenge of lawlessness and there must be no patience with the sentimentalists who shed tears over the criminal who goes to his punishment by a route of his own choosing. I shall carefully guard the pardoning power.
And so, my friends, with our goal clearly defined, with our unselfish purposes clearly understood, let us go forward to our destiny to place Oregon where its fine loyal citizenship—its God-given gifts—justify, to join all in a rising chorus without a discordant note, that we work our way out of our economic depression, that we preserve the institutions and democracy of our fathers, and that we enrich our spiritual lives.