Governor Sylvester Pennoyer's Administration

Biennial Message, 1891

Source: Journal of House of the Legislative Assembly, 1891, Governor's Biennial Message, Salem, Oregon, Frank C. Baker, State Printer, 1891.


Gentlemen of the Oregon Legislative Assembly:

You have convened and duly organize the sixteenth regular session of the legislature of Oregon, and now, in pursuance of a duty imposed by the oath of office just taken, the following information touching the condition of the State and recommendations of necessary measures are submitted for you consideration. For more detailed information you are referred to the reports of the various State officers:

January 1, 1887, principal and interest_________________________$95,217.69
January 1, 1889, principal and interest_________________________ 29,411.66
January 1,1891, principal and interest_________________________ 2,335.35

The money for the payment of the indebtedness now existing is in the treasury. The outstanding bonds and warrants comprising it have been advertised, interest on them has been stopped years ago, and the probability is that they will never be presented for payment. The State of Oregon is there fore practically free from debt.




1885 -6



Governor's Office




Secretary's Office




Treasurer's Office




Superintendent of Public Instruction's Office




State Printing, Including Binding and Paper




Library, Code and Reports




State Land Office







41,990. 63













Penitentiary Improvement




Asylum Improvement





Capitol Improvement




Mute School




Blind School




Orphan's Home




Agricultural Board




Health Officers




Pilot Commissioners and Schooner




Dairy and Food Commissioner




Fish Commissioners




Railroad Commissioners




Agricultural College








Conveying Convicts




Conveying Insane
















Wagon Roads




Private Claims




Oregon National Guard




Reform School




Horticultural Board




Domestic Animal Commission




Weather Bureau








The amount for the last biennial term includes estimated deficiencies.

Following is a statement of the total amounts of the common school fund on January 1st of the years as mentioned:
1885___________________________________________$ 868,735.16

The interest arising from such fund during the past few years has been distributed in the following amounts:

Year/Per Capita./Total
1885 $75 $59,046.75
1886 90 74,571.30
1887 100 87,217.00
1888 125 108,217.50
1889 140 130,337.20
1890 145 144,372.75

There are also on the first of this year in the other trust funds amounts as follows:
Agricultural college funds, notes, cash, and due on certificates of sale____$130,289.82
University fund, notes, cash, and due certificates of sale________________102,106.18
Total amount in the several trust funds on the first of this year:
Common school fund_________________________________$2,203,554.86
Agricultural College__________________________________ 130,289.82
University__________________________________________ 102,106.18

The money belonging to these trust funds is loaned with scrutinizing care. A list of interrogation has to be answered by each applicant, thus giving a full description of the land and improvements. Careful attorneys are employed to pass upon the title and appraise the land. Only one-third of the amount of such appraisement is loaned. The board of land commissioners also invariably examines each application and supplements the judgment of the attorney with its own, and in repeated instances has, as their judgment dictated, reduced the amount applied for. No loans are made except on improved farm property. Under these conditions, and with these safe guards, these fund are as secure as it is possible to make them. During 1889 and 1890 they have increased to the amount of $484,908.94

Swamp lands patented to the State in 1889 and 1890___________100,719.92 acres
Swamp lands certified to the State in 1889 and 1890___________ 90,437.10 acres
Whole amount patented__________________________________134,807.36 acres
Whole amount certified and not patented____________________ 87,664.54 acres
Whole amount examined and not certified (approximate)_______ 60,000.00 acres

There has been no examination of swamp lands by a State agent during the last two years, as by and agreement between the State and the interior department the report of the federal agent was to be considered as a final determination of the character of the land examined by him. The law relative to the sale of certain swamp lands passed by the legislative assembly and approved February 16, 1887, has been declared void by a decision of the federal court for the district of Oregon. From such decision an appeal has been taken to the supreme court of the United States, and as stipulation has been made to present the case on printed briefs, it is expected that a final decision will be soon reached.

There can be no doubt but that the State of Oregon can be congratulated on the very excellent management of the State penitentiary and insane asylum. The assertion can be made without fear of successful contradiction that these institutions were never better managed than now. For the necessary details as to such management, reference can be had to the reports of the superintendents. The $30,000 appropriated by the last legislature for the purpose of purchasing an asylum farm have been most judiciously expended. Six hundred and forty acres of the finest of the farm lands of Oregon have been secured, about four miles from the capitol. The recommendations from the superintendents of both institutions as contained in their reports are worthy of your consideration. The trust confided to the board of education by their act of the last legislature in the expenditure of $30,000 for the purchase of a reform school farm and the erection of a necessary building, has been faithfully executed. A farm of over 380 acres of land, upon which is a valuable water power, has been secured and the most attractive building in the State has been erected thereupon. IN order to secure the erection of such building a deficit of about $16,000 was necessarily incurred. It is now incumbent upon the legislature to make further enactments as to the management of such school. Steps should be taken to have the deaf mute school, which is an expensive mendicant upon the State treasury, placed under State control. It was formerly so. But through the manipulation of interested parties it was placed independent of it, and now, while it is supported by State funds, its managements entirely beyond the control of State officers, and the State auditor, whose duty under the constitution is to audit all accounts, has no control whatever over the expenditures of that institution. All institutions supported by the state should be under the control of the State.

The recommendation made to the legislature, to the effect that no further taxation of the people in behalf of these educational institutions should be permitted, is renewed. No general tax should be levied which is not for the general benefit. It is proper to levy tax for the support of our common schools, as all classes of people in all localities can be benefited thereby. But it is different with the higher institutions. But comparatively few of the children of the State can be educated therein, and it is most unjust to tax the parents of those children who can not be educated for the benefit of those who can. Furthermore, there are other high institutions of learning in this State, which have been erected and are now sustained by the generosity of some of our most liberal citizens, and it is cruelly unjust to tax those public-spirited individuals for the very purpose of building up rival institutions to those for which they have spent their money and in the success of which they are deeply interested. Besides this, these two institutions are now richly endowed and are quite well able, with proper management, to succeed without further appeal to the State treasury. The State university has now on interest more than $100,000, arising from the sale of university lands, while the agricultural college has an endowment of over $130,000, arising from the sale of agricultural college lands donated by the general government of $30,000 per annum, and which is to be increased $1,000 per year, until it reaches $40,000.j
It will thus be seen that these institutions are now liberally provided for. That they are abundantly able, by the entire abolition of free scholarship – species of pernicious class legislation – and by the collection of a reasonable tuition fee, together with frugal management, to successfully compete with other high institutions that possess no other endowments than their just merits. It is urgently recommended that a change should be made in the formation of the board of regents of the agricultural college. As the law now stands, the Governor has the appointment of the members of this board and is also ex officio an member thereof. This is clearly wrong. A change in the law which would omit the Governor and Secretary of State as members of the board, and require that all of the members to be appointed should be practical farmers or business men, would be wholesome one.

The board of United States engineers designated for the purpose of suggesting improvements at the Dalles of the Columbia have estimated the cost of a portage railroad between The Dalles and Celilo, on the Columbia river, which, it says, would be adequate for the present commerce of the river, and which could be built in one year, at $431,500. It has also estimated the full cost of a broad railway at $3,575,356. If the building of the boat railway, instead of the portage railroad, should be determined upon, and if congress should make appropriations for it in the same manner that it has made appropriation for the canal at the cascades of the Columbia, it would take over thirty-four years – more than a third of a century --- to witness its completion. The board of engineers recommended that the portage road should first be built, as it would open the river upon speedily to commerce and would furnish a necessary auxiliary to the improvement of the river between the two pints mentioned by other more extensible and more permanent improvements. But our delegation in congress, regardless of the suggestions of the engineers as to the advisability of a portage railroad, if a speedy opening of the river to commerce b e desired, and apparently unmindful of the needs of our people for it, are laboring for appropriations for the boat railway instead of the portage railroad. No more suicidal policy in regard to the interests of Eastern Oregon in particular, and the whole State in general, could be prosecuted.

To enter upon a method of improvement yet in its experimental stage, and which, if successful, will probably take a third of a century to secure its completion, when another mode can be adopted which would speedily open up that great thoroughfare to free cc commerce, is the very reverse of sound business policy. The great paramount interests of the whole State imperatively demand that this legislative assembly should issue positive instructions to our delegates in congress to procure and appropriation of $431,500 for the building of a portage railroad around the dalles of the Columbia. Instructions should also be given for the appropriation by congress of about $250,000 for the permanent deepening of the channel of the lower Columbia, as well as for the improvement of the upper Columbia and Willamette rivers. The breakwater at the mouth of the Columbia has effected a just marvelous change, and the expenditure of a quarter of a million of dollars in breakwaters along the lower Columbia, where its width now permits shoaling, would give a good and sufficient channel for large ships from Portland to the sea. This is a matter in which every wheat-grower and producer in Oregon is deeply interested, and it might not be amiss if the legislature should instruct Senator Dolph to forego the advocacy of his bill appropriation one hundred and twenty-six millions of dollars for coast defenses not needed, and to urge the expenditure of a quarter of a million of dollars for the improvement of the lower Columbia, which would add, for the farmer, at least one dollar to every ton of wheat exported.

The State of Oregon, by an act of its legislative assembly, approved October 21, 1870, appropriated two hundred thousand dollars to aid a private corporation in building a canal and locks at the falls of the Willamette river, upon the express condition that the said corporation shall pay to the State of Oregon, for the benefit of the common school fund, ten per centum of the net profits arising from the toll collected for passing freights and passengers through said canal and locks, the rates of which were therein designated ,and upon the further condition that “at the expiration of twenty years from the time said canal and locks are completed, the State of Oregon shall have the right and privilege to take and appropriate to its own use forever, the said canal and locks, upon the payment to the said corporation the actual value thereof at the time of taking and appropriating the same, which value shall be ascertained in such manner as the legislative assembly may hereafter prescribe.” The twenty years will expire in the latter part of the year 1892. It is there fore incumbent upon this legislature to take the necessary steps in order to have the State avail itself of the great privilege guaranteed to it by the above provisions of law. Under State control no higher rate of toll should be collected than would be necessary to operate the locks and keep them in good repair. In fact, by utilizing and leasing the very valuable water power now c controlled by the locks, or which could be controlled by the just exercise of the right of eminent domain, if necessary, the State could receive sufficient revenue to open the locks to free commerce, besides furnishing a surplus for the State treasury for the benefit of the common school fund. The legislative assembly, as the law provides, shall prescribe the manner of fixing the sum to be paid to the company for the locks Probably the fairest method, and one to which the company could certainly make no objection, would be to take the value fixed by the company itself, in its dealings with the State, under the law.

At the last session of the legislature, three bills, passed at the instance of the board of fish commissioners, received the Executive veto and will come before you for consideration. Of that number, senate bill 135 reduces the fine for violation of the fishing law of the State from five hundred for the first offense and one thousand for the subsequent ones to “ a sum not less than fifty dollars nor more than two hundred and fifty dollars.” This would be a change by which the opulent canneryman owning his own traps or fish-wheels could disregard the law on account of the small fine, and it would deter only the poor man who fished with nets.There is also omitted in this bill that necessary provision in regard to the size of the mesh of nets and the regulation of traps. The conclusion is irresistible that the bill is in the interests of the opulent cannerymen, and the law, as it now stands with its stringent provisions, is much more just and efficient. The recommendation made to the last two legislatures for a law prohibiting the use of seines, fish-traps, and fish-wheels, is again urgently renewed. The legislature of Oregon should see to it that the greed of the present generation should not be allowed to ruin the fishing interests of our State. It should provide that but one mode of catching the salmon of the Columbia river should be allowed, and that mode should be by nets, available alike to the poor as well as to the rich. To allow the taking of the Columbia river salmon be seines, traps and fish-wheels is to virtually turn over the fishing industry to a monopoly of a few persons, some of whom, by having secured some eligible points along the river, have been enabled to take out over ten tongs of salmon in one day b by one wheel. No such undue privilege should be allowed d by law. the hatchery and Clackamas having been turned over to the United States government and the State board of fish commissioners having examined the Columbia and its tributaries without finding a place “that will hold any comparison with the Clackamas’ for hatching purposes, obviated any further need of that expensive board and any further outlay for hatchery purposes. It is no m ore just to make special outlay for the fishing interests of the State than for any other particular interest, but if such outlay is to be made, and appropriation of five thousand dollars for a fish ladder at the falls of the Willamette is far more meritorious than the retention of an useless fish commission.

One of the most important matter to engage your attention is the absolute necessity of a through and in some respects a radical change in our laws relative to assessment and taxation. As the law now stand, with but a mere nominal penalty and one difficult to enforce for a failure on the part of a taxpayer to give to the assessor a sworn statement of all his property, real and personal, it is impossible to reach but the merest fraction of personal property, thus allowing those possessed of money and other species of personal property to escape this share of the burden of taxation, thereby throwing a double a burden upon the owner of real property. No amendment of our laws should be made without containing a provision that would secure beyond all peradventure the sworn listed statement from every taxpayer of his property, real and personal. Provision should also be made by which the State revenue could be raised directly from the people, entirely independent of county taxation. This would prevent that condition of affairs which now prompts a low assessment in each county, in order to prevent an unjust share of State taxation, and would also obviate the necessity of a State board of equalization – an expensive instrumentality, which, as it would be entirely impossibly for it to examine each piece of property which has been passes upon by the county assessors, would be necessarily important of performing fully and satisfactorily the duties assigned to it. A sufficient State revenue, independent of any county levy, could easily be secured by requiring to be paid in the Sate treasury a poll tax of $2 on every male person over 21 years of age, a graduated income tax on all incomes exceeding $1,000, and a tax upon the gross receipts of express, telegraph, telephone and insurance companies. The law can be made so as to secure the full payment of all these taxes by making the production of a poll tax receipt for the current year at the polls a required proof of the residence of the voter, and by the imp9osition of a heavy fine by the courts for a failure to give a sworn statement of the taxpayer’s income, or a various companies sought to be taxed. The law should be fixed also in all of its details so as to enforce that constitutional provision which requires the securing of a just valuation of all property, real and personal, and for its uniform and equal rate, both of assessment and taxation. The exemption now allowed by law to every householder is apparently a reasonable one, and that provision which requires the taxation of money loaned on mortgages to be made in the county where it is so loaned is a just one.

There is the most grave doubt as to whether, under that provision of the fundamental law requiring an equal rate of taxation, the legislative assembly of this State can rightfully give authority to municipal governments, in charters greeted to them, to impose any license tax whatever upon any business or vocation. An equal rate of taxation can be had upon all property, real and personal, and incomes, but a fixed license tax, demanded for the privilege of conduction business in certain callings, cannot be an equal tax, unless all other callings ore equally taxed, and for the further reason that some persons paying the same license as others in the same calling may not be able to transact the same amount of business or derive the same amount of profit. And the experience has also shown that these taxes are not placed where there is the best ability to pay and where justice demands that the should be placed, but as a rule the wagon of the poor expressman is taxed, while the carriage of the gentleman of wealth is untaxed, and the pawnbroker who deals with the most unfortunate classes of the community pays, while the banker who deals with people of means is exempted.

If the provision of law allowing deduction for indebtedness be retained, it would be well to inquire whether such deduction should be allowed for debts owing to national banks, No deduction is now allowed for debts owed to parties outside the State for the good reason that the corresponding credits cannot be taxed For a like reason debts owed to national banks should not be deducted, under the law of congress the State is permitted to assess only the shares and real property of such bank. No permission is given to assess the notes and accounts owned and held by them. The State assessors are there fore precluded from making the inquiry as to whether claims for indebtedness to such banks as may be made are real or fictitious. To deduct such claimed indebtedness would therefore leave the door wide open to fraud. If, then, deduction for indebtedness is allowed, the law should of only exclude all indebtedness owed outside the State, but also all that is non-assessable within the State.

If there be any change in the statute prescribing the legal rate of interest on money loaned, and forbidding usury, it should be only changed by fixing a lower rate with more rigorous provisions for its observance. The law ought not be repealed. If money was on an equal footing with other property, it would be unjust to pass any laws regulating its use which did not equally apply to all other property, but so long as it is clothed by law with an attribute which no other species of property possesses – that of being al legal tender in payments of debts --- just so long it is no more than just that the law should regulated its use. Property favored by law should be controlled by law.

More than one hundred offices were created by the legislative assembly of the State at its last two sessions, exclusive of the officers necessary to put in operation the new counties made. There is no need of multiplying officers to prey upon the people. Instead of creating commissions for every conceivable purpose for each particular interest, and as representing the State, to exercise supervision over and as representing the State, to exercise supervision over each one of our manifold industries and occupations, as is each one of our manifold industries and occupations, as is the tendency of modern legislative action, there should be at once a return to the old rule established by the wisdom at once a return to the old rule established by the wisdom at once a return to the old rule established by the wisdom and experience of centuries, of governing the various industries and interests of the commonwealth by well established general laws, administered by the authorities designated by the constitution. The commonwealth should be governed by duly enacted laws and not by the edicts of unconstitutional commissions, and the law should be administered by the officers created by the constitution. All commissions for the enforcement of State laws ought to be abolished. If there be laws fixing the freight rates on railroads, there is no need of a railroad commission; the necessary laws regarding our fishing interests can be enforced by the executive and judicial departments, dispensing with all necessity of fish commissioners; the Federal government having passed an oleomargarine law, dispenses, to a certain extent, with the necessity of a State food inspector, which officer, if so disposed, which the present faithful incumbent has not been, under the law as it now stands, like all commissioners endowed with power, could reap a private fortune without doing any material public good, and the negligence of fruit-growers could be punished as well without as with an itinerant inspector. The law creating a court reporter should also be repealed because of its tendency to monopoly. The carious industries and occupations of our people should be controlled by general law, administered by the duly constituted authorities, and the swarm of special officers for special purposes, which are becoming as big a plague to our people as the frogs and lice aware to the people of Egypt, should be abolished. The executive and judicial departments created by the constitution can administer the law, thus saving the extraordinary expense of these multiplied commissions. Let the laws creating the carious commissions be repealed, and an enactment made authorizing the Governor, like in the event of a violation of law affecting public interests, to appoint a prosecuting witness to bring the offender into court for punishment, and the law can be administered more thoroughly than it is now under a divided responsibility, In order to still further reduce the taxation imposed upon the people in factor of office holders, it would be well to pay all county officers fixed salaries, and compel them to turn all fees paid under the law into the county treasury.

Two very important questions were definitely settled by the people at the last election in this State, one of which was that the issuance of non-taxable bonds should never be authorized by the legislative assembly, and the other was the adoption of the Australian ballot system. All three political parties declared in favor of the ballot law as proposed by the ballot reform league of the State, and good faith will require of this legislature the speedy and unanimous passage of such law.

A registration law should be passed in connection with the Australian ballot law. The ballot law provides for the free expression of the voter, and a registration law should be passed in order to prevent a repetition of such expression by any one voter at the same election.

Under the law providing for the organization not a State board of agriculture, approved February 20, 1885, there is given to such board the possession and car of the property of the State agricultural society and the management of its entire business and financial affairs. There is now and encumbrance of about then thousand dollars on the State fair grounds, the title of which is in the old agricultural society. It would be extremely advisable for the State to provide for the liquidation of such indebtedness upon the condition of the transfer of the title of such property to the state by the society aforesaid. By virtue of another provision of the act before mentioned, and annual appropriation of $5,000 is made payable to the State board of agriculture, to be used in payment of premiums awarded by such board. At the last session of the legislature, upon the argument that the disbursement of such sum for premiums was, of necessity, somewhat local in its character, as the residents from the extreme portions of the State were not able to compete for them, and, and a matter of apparent equity, provision was made by law for the holding of two district fairs in Eastern Oregon and one in Southern Oregon, and an annual appropriation of $1,500 was made for each of such fairs. There is now, therefore, $9,500 appropriated fro premiums annually, and yet there is nearly the same reason for complaints as before. For instance, the report of the board of the First Eastern Oregon district agricultural society for the present year discloses the fact that the entire $1,500 was distributed to only fifty-two persons in the vicinity of Baker City. It will thus be seen that the equitable distribution of money appropriated for premiums by the State has not even been attained by the multiplicity of fairs. Is it just that the citizens of Clatsop, Coos or Lake counties should be taxed for the purpose of raising the sum of $1,500 to be paid to the fifty-two persons residing near Baker City as premiums on articles perhaps inferior to what they might have presented if equal opportunity had been afforded them: The plain rule of right demands that no tax should be laid by the government upon the people for any other purpose that whenever this just role is departed from, and taxed are laid upon all for the purpose of giving bounties to the few, it will sooner or later meet with popular disapproval. It cannot be denied t hat if the legislature of a State makes appropriations for such purposes, there is no power that can gainsay it, not is there any special constitutional inhibition against it, but that law of justice which forbid that any one man should be taxed for the benefit of any other man, and which is equally as sacred as are the provisions of any constitution, ought to control the action of the legislature in this matter.

AN effort, sanctioned by the State board of trade and by very many of the leading journals of the State, will be made to secure at the present session of the legislature an appropriation of $250,000 to be expended in advertising the State at the Columbian Exposition, to be held at Chicago two years hence. Can such sum, or can any sum whatever be right fully appropriated for such purpose from money collected by taxation of the people” if it is unjust to tax the whole people to raise money to be expended at fairs within the State, would it not be much more unjust to raise money by taxation to be expended for fairs without the State?

In this day, when the people are taxed for almost every conceivable purpose, Oregon would gain a wide and well earned popularity among the over-taxed people of other States if it would refuse to levy any tax for any purpose except and economical administration of government. Such a refusal would be calculated to induce a large immigration thitherward.

While there is no provision of the constitution forbidding the appropriation of money collected from a general tax for special and local purposes, yet the proposition that the people of one locality should be taxed for the benefit of the people of another locality, is so manifestly unjust as to merit the most positive disapproval. No general tax would be levied for any other purpose that the general welfare. And when money collected from such a tax is appropriated for local improvements, such appropriation should only be made upon the express condition of a compensation by the collection of a sufficient toll or revenue from the improvements so made as to insure to the public treasure a fair interest upon the investment.

One of the first acts which should be performed by this legislature should be the repeal of the law providing for a board of railroad commissioners. As the law now stands sinecure positions at fat salaries are furnished to formant with not other duty of any practical result than a quarterly visit to the State treasury for their stipends. The law should be at once repealed. There is no place under our State constitution in the discharge of any State duty for a railroad commission or any other commission. Under our constitution all the powers of government are conferred upon the three departments --- legislative, executive and judicial --- created by it. There is, therefore, no provision or excuse for a railroad commission. The power to regulated right rates on railroads cannot be conferred upon it because that is a power delegated to the legislature by the people under the constitution, and it is a well-established rule of law that delegated power cannot be again delegated by the agent. Nor can the power be given to it to enforce the law in regard to railroads. Section 10 of article 5 of our State constitution, referring to the prerogatives of the Governor, expressly declares that “he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”
The power therefore to execute the laws is given to the Executive, and cannot rightfully be taken from him. Nor can a commission be endowed with any power to adjust questions at issue between railroads as common carriers and others, for the reason that such adjudication would be an exercise of judicial power, which under our fundamental law is “vested in a supreme court, circuit courts and county courts.” There is therefore no place whatever for a railroad commission in our State government, and that expensive and useless board should be at once abolished. The recent railroad disaster when the State discloses the utter uselessness of such a board. The testimony gathered by such a board in to such a matter is of no avail, inasmuch as the testimony which will be hereafter taken in our regular courts of justice --- the tribunals designated by law for such purposes --- will be taken without any regard to any action held by any board. And, finally, if it be desired that an examination by authority of the State by made annually or semi-annually of the bridges and roadbeds of the carious railroads of the State, an expert in such matter to be appointed by the Governor, who would make on foot a through examination of such roads, would be much more effective of good than the examination of a dozed railroad commissioners made for the windows of palace cars.

Laws should be passed fizzing the maximum rates to be changed by the railroad and telegraph companies within the State, and the legislative bodies of all incorporated cities should have the power conferred upon them to fix the rates to be charged by all monopolies within corporate limits, such as gas, water, telephone, and electric light companies. Laws should also be passed preventing by the imposition of heavy penalties any discrimination whatever by common carriers, in either freight or passenger transportation, or in the charges of telegraph, telephone or other monopolies.

In order to secure reasonable charges for he towage of vessels from the open sea into the Columbia river, by which the commerce of our State would be increased, and the cost of the transportation of our exports to foreign markets would be materially lessened, to the direct benefit of the producers of the entire State, it would be extremely advisable before the State itself to provide by law for he building of two steam tugs, to be operated by the state in connection with the pilot schooner now owned by the State, charging only for the towage of v vessels such rates as would merely pay the interest on the investment, the current expenditures and the other necessary outlays for keeping the tags in good repair, Let this be done, and let the Columbia at the cascades and the dalles and the Willamette at the falls be opened to free commerce, and all monopolies upon our transportation facilities would be completely disarmed and removed by open and free competition. Such methods are much more effective of reasonable charges than are the rates fixed either by the statute law or railroad commissions, and the necessary outlay for such provisions for the cheap transportation of our products to foreign markets, uncontrolled by monopolies, would be much more effective n inducing immigration than twice or thrice the amount expended in advertising our State in any fair to be held beyond its borders.

The enactment of another statute in regard to corporations engaged in railroad transportation is emphatically demanded by every instinct of American manhood. It has become a too frequent occurrence, in the event of a difference between railroad corporations and their employees, as to the matter of wages or of just treatment, for such corporations to surround themselves with a hireling soldiery, unknown to the law, at variance with the law and defiant of the law, In controversies of all kinds between such corporations and their employees, arbitration is the fairest mode of settlement, and it ought to be provided for by statute law; but where it is not so provided for, where the parties are compelled to settle their difficulties with out legal arbitration, a stringent law should be passed for placing them both on an equal footing by preventing the one party form pointing the rifles of its hired assassins at the stomachs of the other party pending the settlement of such difficulties. Such unfair advantage is liable to secure an unfair adjustment. The law should intervene in behalf of justice. There can be no doubt whatever but that the presence of armed forces within the State other than the forces recognized by the laws of the State would be an invasion within the meaning of the constitution which would amply justify the Governor, as commander-in-chief, in pursuance of the provisions of our fundamental law, in calling our the military force of the State to disarm and deport them, but it would much better become a civil government to provide by the enactment of proper statutes for the arrest by civil officers and the punishment by the courts of any wanton invasion of a free government by the armed forces in the employment of corporations.

The recommendation that a maximum rate law in regard to freights on railroads should be enacted, which was made at the last two sessions of the legislature, securing justice alike to the railroad corporations and people, is again earnestly renewed. Recent events showing a tendency to a great consolidation of railroad interests in one gigantic trust controlling all of the principal roads of the country, and thereby destroying all hopes of that healthy competition which alone is conducive of fair rates, much convince the most skeptical, if past experience has not already done so, that the time have at length arrived when the legislative assembly of Oregon should exercise itself and not by any illegal proxy the plain duty imposed upon it of protecting the people of this commonwealth against the unjust exactions of common carriers. Nor is this at all a difficult task, as experience has furnished a safe guide. The rates established in Iowa and acquiesced in by both the railroad companies and the people will furnish and approximate basis upon which to frame the proposed law. Both the passenger and freight rates within the States should be fixed at figures very nearly corresponding with general rates in other States, and any and all discrimination in either should be effectually prohibited. In case of a violation of such a law on the part of the corporations, the Governor should be authorized to enforce the law by bringing the violators before the courts, through the instrumentality of a prosecuting witness of behalf of the State.

A most stringent law should also be enacted compelling all contractors and sub-contractors on any work for railroads or other corporations to make weekly payments to their employees and laborers, either in cash or by orders on the corporations, which orders shall be promptly paid in cash upon their presentation. The great necessity for the passage of such a law has been emphasized within the last month by the cruel and shameless treatment of laborers upon a railroad in a neighboring State, who in mid winter were not only without notice suddenly deprived of employment, but were compelled to wait for weeks for the pittance due them or suffer ruinous discount upon the scant returns of their hard labor. Such flagrant injustice merits the most condign punishment that the law could possible inflict.

Within the last six months a judge of the inferior Federal court for the district of Oregon, in a case brought by a citizen of California against the board of land commissioners for the State, which board consists of the Governor, Secretary of State and State Treasurer, has presumed to have and to exercise the power to declare a statute law of the State, passed in pursuance of the forms and requirements of the State constitution, to be void and of no effect within the state, and has had the further presumption to attempt to prevent the officers of the State from obeying the law, by an injunction forbidding them from so doing. The proper thing for the board to have done in the dilemma when the statute law of the State bade it to pursue one course and the mandate of a inferior federal court bade it to disregard the law, would have been to obey the law of the State, but as the board was not unanimous in this regard, no action had been taken in the premises further than an appeal from that decision to the supreme court of the United States. A subsequent decision was rendered in the same court within the last two months by which an offender against the laws of the State, who was held under arrest by virtue of a process of the State, who was held under arrest by virtue of a process of the State courts, was taken from its custody on writ of habeas corpus and set at liberty, the Federal judge passing upon the facts and holding that they did not justify his arrest by the state courts.

There is now no longer any use in shutting our eyes to the great present and impending peril which threatens our free and constitutional form of government. The nice balance of powers between the State and the federal government has become nearly destroyed by the usurpation of power and jurisdiction on the part of the federal courts. This usurpation, although becoming more burdensome and unbearable, has to a certain extent been exercised for nearly a century, and rests upon the unfounded claim of the supreme court of the United States that the power to declare a law void was a judicial power, when in fact it is nothing else than a purely legislative prerogative. The power to repeal an enactment of the law-making power by a decision of a court declaring it to be void, in all the history of all civilized peoples has never been claimed or exercised until it was usurped by the federal supreme court. And that the claim of such power as judicial was clearly without foundation no careful student of constitutional history can for one moment deny. By reference to the debated in the convention which framed the federal constitution (5 Elliott, 483) it is clearly demonstrated that the jurisdiction of the federal court, under article 3, section 2 of such instrument, upon which this unfounded claim alone rests, was intended by the framers of the instrument to be limited to “cases of a judiciary nature.” It was not then even supposed by any member of that body, many of whom were able common-law lawyers, that under such provision the court could exercise the purely legislative prerogative of repealing or nullifying either an enactment of congress or of a State legislature by declaring it to be void. And the exercise of this usurped legislative power of the courts, becoming more and more frequent with each recurring year, is bringing inextricable confusion in our jurisprudence; it is subversive of that order which is the fair consequence of well established law; it is inimical to the peace of society and the security of property; it is a reproach to an intelligent people and justly subjects a nation acquiescing in it to the derision of the civilized world.

The danger and confusion arising from the claim on the part of the federal courts of the power to not only set aside the law of the State within the limits of the State, but also to wrest from the jurisdiction of the State courts persons clearly held under such jurisdiction by virtue of State laws and turning loose upon the community untried criminals, has become more than doubly increased within the last year, for the reason that within that period the supreme court of the United States, by virtue of the power to negative laws claimed by it, and the exercise of which power has been acquiesced in by the other departments of he government and the people, has to all intents and purposes radically changed our form of government. Within the last year that court has reversed its own decision in the granger cases, and no holds that the federal courts, rather than the legislatures of the several States, have the power to fix as reasonable the rates to be charged by common carriers within State limits (134 U.S., 418); it has also reversed its own decision in another respect and now denies the right of a State to exercised its reserved police power to prevent the sale within State limits of articles deemed inimical to the public welfare, which has heretofore been held sacred (135 U.S., 100); it has again reversed for the second time its own decisions in the celebrated Virginia coupon cases, and now holds that the State officers in the enforcement of State laws are liable to punishment by the federal courts, if in the judgment of such courts such laws are not as they ought to be (135 U.S., 162), and worst and most infamous of all, is its decision that the State is to be denied the exercise of its police power for the punishment of a certain class of murderers within its limits, by setting at liberty the secret, armed assassin, who accompanied a federal judge in California, and who shot does in cold blood and unarmed citizen of that State, declaring the startling doctrine that “any duty of the marshal to be derived from the general scope of his duties under the laws of the United States” is “a law,” thus placing it within the power of the president or his attorney-general, without authority of a statute law of congress, to keep body-guards for every federal official, which guards can wantonly shoot down the unarmed people of the State, and through the exercise of the writ of habeas corpus by the federal courts, can be shielded from the punishment of their crimes. --- (135 U.S., 1)

The plain and undeniable deduction from these decisions of the supreme court of the United States is that if the inferior federal courts are to be retained to exercise power and jurisdiction within State limits, the further continuance of State governments is entirely unnecessary, and is really a fraud upon the people. The logic of these recent decisions is plain and conclusive, and it is to the effect that State governments should be abolished or that the law creating federal courts within State limits be entirely repealed, or so changed as to limit them exclusively to cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction. To leave such inferior courts within State limits to exercise the jurisdiction now claimed by theme is simply to acquiesce in a virtual annihilation of State governments. This result will never be tolerated by the free people of this country. There is then only one logical alternative. The inferior federal courts are not the creatures of the constitution, but of congress. Congress made them and congress can unmake them, and the bold and wanton usurpation of power by them is a startling warning to the people that the time has fully come when congress should unmake them. The legitimate powers that they exercise could be well exercised by the State courts, with appeals as now to the supreme court of the United States, and this confusion arising from a clashing of jurisdiction between the federal and State courts and between the federal court and the legislature, which is now making us the laughing-stock of the whole world, could be obviated.

Gentlemen of the Legislative Assembly of Oregon: There is no duty so imperative upon you as is the duty to instruct our delegation in congress to labor either for the entire abrogation of the federal inferior courts or for their restriction to cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction. That there is urgent necessity for this, you cannot for one moment doubt. The people expect you to change our laws in respect to assessment and taxation. Of what advantage will be the most equitable enactments in that regard if the federal court will, as it has done three times within the last few years, interfere and declare certain portions of such laws to be void. The legislature of Oregon, at its fourteenth regular session, enacted a law authorizing the board of land commissioners to sell certain lands. The federal court has declared the law void, and has assumed to enjoin the three highest administrative officers of the State from obeying and enforcing the law. Previous legislatures have attempted, and it undoubtedly is your purpose, as it is your duty, to pass laws regulating monopolies, but of what avail will such laws be, if the federal courts, as it is claimed, can set them aside at their pleasure? The people of this State are guaranteed protection under the constitution in the courts for life and property by the punishment of criminals, but such guarantee is of no purpose of the federal court within the State, by writ of habeas corpus, can take such criminals from our of the jurisdiction of the State courts, and set them at liberty.

The humiliating spectacle of an utter disregard by an inferior federal court of the enactments of sovereign State, and the processes of its courts, has already offended a free people too long. One hundred and fourteen years ago our patriotic forefathers declared that the American colonies “are and of right ought to be free and independent States, “ and yet at threat time those colonies were not subjected to the humiliating tyranny by the British crown that the States now suffer from the federal courts. It is your duty to declare again in favor of the freedom and independence of the United States under the constitution, by demanding that congress shall, by law, materially restrict the jurisdiction of the federal inferior courts, or, what is much better, entirely abolish them.

AS the people of Oregon are as materially affected by federal as by State legislation, it is perfectly proper that the legislative assembly, by joint resolution, give instructions to our delegation in congress concerning measures of federal legislation affecting the people of this commonwealth, especially in regard to the following matters of great importance; More stringent legislation for the exclusion of the pauper hordes of China; the imposition of a graduated income tax by which the wealth of the country, now entirely exempted, will be compelled to bear its just share of the public burden; the further adjustment of our revenue laws by which all tariff taxation shall be removed from the necessaries of life and placed alone upon luxuries; the forfeiture of all railroad land grants not redeemed within the time required by law; provision for the forfeiture of the charters of the several bond-aided Pacific railroad companies for their non-compliance with law, and for either the sale of such roads to realize payment of the debt owing to the United States or for the assumption of ownership and management thereof by the government; a postal telegraph by which the government in the exercise of its constitutional functions can relieve the business of its own departments and the business of the country fro the exactions of a most unscrupulous monopoly; unalterable opposition to the granting of subsidies upon any pretext whatever; unyielding resistance to the control of the ballot box by federal judges; the abolition of the federal inferior courts, or the very material restriction of their jurisdiction; the free coinage of silver ; the issuance by the government direct of all money of the country; the denial to the national banks of the special privilege now granted them to being furnished with money without interest; the discontinuance of the unjust policy adopted by the last federal administration and followed by the present one of placing with the banks a large portion of the surplus, wrung from the people by unnecessary taxation, without any charge for interest; the providing for ht loaning of money by the government upon the improved farm property of the country, as is now successfully done with more than two millions of the educational funds of Oregon, at a low rate of interest, for he benefit of the many, and the discontinuance of loans to the banks upon what the government owes, without interest, for the enrichment of the few.

There can be no more commendable way for us who have been entrusted with the law-making power of this commonwealth to show our gratitude to our constituency for the trust confided to us than by the enactment of wise and necessary laws. Let us act in the fear of God and without the fear of man, always mindful of the cardinal rule, that no t ax should be laid upon the people that is not equal, or for any purpose other than a frugal administration of the government in its full conservation of the general good.


Oregon Secretary of State • 136 State Capitol • Salem, OR 97310-0722
Phone: (503) 986-1523 • Fax: (503) 986-1616 • oregon.sos@state.or.us

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