Governor Sylvester Pennoyer's Administration
Inaugural Message, 1887
Source: Public Documents, Inaugural Address of Sylvester Pennoyer to the Legislative Assembly, 1887, Salem, Oregon, W.H. Byars, State Printer, 1886.
INAUGURAL ADDRESS OF GOVERNOR SYLVESTER PENNOYER
TO THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF OREGON
FOURTEENTH REGULAR SESSION 1887
Gentlemen of the Legislative Assembly:
Having now taken the oath of office as Chief Executive Magistrate of Oregon, I cannot but feel the greatest distrust of my own abilities towards a proper and faithful discharge of its high and responsive duties. We are at the very threshold of an era in the history of our government which will call for an imperatively demand the highest order of statesmanship, the most deep-seated patriotism, and the profoundest devotion to our constitutional form of government. While Providence is still vouchsafing to us fitting seed-times and abundant harvests, and while we are blessed with a most salubrious climate and fruitful soil, yet there is abroad within our own State and all over the land a feeling of discontent, not by any means confines to the over-crowded population of our large cities, but the pervading the great masses of the working classes of the county. The farmers and the day laborers toil early and late, barely receiving enough remuneration for the absolute necessaries of life, and all trades and industries not favored by especial legislation are languishing, while, on the other hand, wealth continues to accumulate more rapidly than ever before in the coffers of the favored moneyed classes. The accumulation within the last three decades of great wealth in the hands of the few, the unprecedented growth and arrogant assumption of overshadowing monopolies and the bestowment of the great build of the burdens of government upon the laboring and producing classes, is charged, and with great measure of truth, to a long-continued and persistent series of vicious class legislation on the part of the Federal Government. Added to this, is the further fact that while our population is vary rapidly increasing, and while a large stream of immigration is still pouring upon us, this country has not in the future any new and fertile fields upon which to put its overcrowded peoples.
Now, population will become denser and new issues of great moment and new questions of policy will devolve upon those who have control of government. Feeling, then, the great responsibility which the march of events has placed upon those entrusted with government at this period, I approach the discharge of the duties assigned me with feelings of awe, but with the fervent hope that the God of our fathers, whose guiding hand has been plainly witnessed in the past history of our country, may still lead it in the ways of justice, peace and prosperity, for long ages yet to come. The retiring Executive, who has graced the office during his term with both dignity and ability, has just now given you the required information concerning the condition of the State, and it now devolves upon me to recommend such measures as by me are deemed expedient. In doing this I shall strictly confine myself to the recommendation only of such practical legislation as shall in my judgment be in strict accordance with the Constitution we all have sworn to support, and as shall be conductive to the best interests of the State and the people.
From the very first settlement of Oregon until now, the great river upon the northern boundary of the State, which would be open to unrestricted competition, has been and is yet under the control of a private corporation. The works begun by the General Government, at the Cascades, about a decade ago, have been delayed, and even now there is no knowledge as to when the will be completed. The Federal Government, which has control of commerce, and whose duty it is to finish these works in the most expeditious manner, is acting the niggard in regard to them. While it has been most munificent to private corporations, giving to the Northern Pacific Railroad Company enough land with which it could build and equip its entire road and have thirty millions of dollars left, it doles out with stingy hand a few thousands of dollars for works of needed public improvement, imperatively demanded by the pressing necessities of the people. To procure the speedy completion of these necessary works of public improvement the hands of our Representatives in Congress, which has been so liberal to private corporations, some measure of that liberality for the benefit of the whole people. During the late canvass I suggested that in order to expedite the opening of the Columbia river the State should build a portage road from the Dalles to Celilo. The position I then assumed was taken upon the understanding that no other work between those point would ever be undertaken by the General Government but the building of locks and canal; that such government would not undertake the building of a ship railroad, and that such a railroad would be unfeasible. With this understanding, and with our experience as to the slowness with which the locks at the Cascades have progressed, I suggested the interference of the State. But since, that time I have learned that not only have the government engineers advocated the building of a ship railroad at the upper portage, but that Congress is in a mood to undertake such an enterprise; that such a work is risible; that it could be completed in about two years, and that its cost would not exceed one and one-third millions of dollars. With these facts before me, with the knowledge of the father fact that it is the duty of the Federal Government, instead of the State, to do this work of public improvement, I am forced to the conclusion that it would be the best policy on the part of the State to use its utmost exertions towards co-operation with our representatives in Congress fore the procurement of the necessary aid from the General Government. The session of Congress now being held is the short session, in which it would be almost impossible to secure such appropriation. But I have the assurance of Senator Mitchell that he will during this session procure the necessary governmental survey for such a road, so that at the first session of the next Congress such a measure can be introduced with some show of success. In order to show Congress how much we are interested in this matter it might be advisable that a special envoy of the State, charged with but the one specific duty of appearing in behalf of the State before the proper committee for the purpose of securing such appropriation, should be appointed. The State should put fourth it best exertions towards one appropriation. But while the State is putting forth every effort to stimulate the Federal government to do its bounden duty towards the undertaking and speedy completion of proper facilities for overcoming the obstructions at the upper portage of the Columbia, it would at the same time be a most judicious step, in view of the uncertainty of procuring favorable Federal legislation where the people instead of corporation are concerned, for it to prepare itself to build a portage railroad between the Dalles and Celilo in case Congress should turn a deaf ear to our petition or adopt a police which would postpone its completion for an indefinite period. A 1 mill tax for the next two year would raise a sufficient sum, which could be on hand at the next session of the legislature, with which to commence the building of such railroad by the State if then deemed necessary. If then it was not imperative on the State to proceed with this work the fund could be cornered into the Treasury to the common school fund or to be used for the completion of the Capitol. It is of more importance to the State to have the Columbia River opened to free navigation than it is to have a dome upon the Capitol. This measure of public necessity I would suggest, and it is worthy of your hearty endorsement.
A law was passed by the last Legislature fixing the maximum rates of fare over railroads within the State, but establishing no maximum rated of freight. A law of this kind is absolutely needed. The people of Oregon and of the eastern portion of our State especially are subject to a most oppressive tariff rate of transportation on the products of the soil, so burdensome as to deprive them of the fair result of their hard, persistent and unremitting labor. It is the undoubted right and the imperative duty of the State to interpose its protecting care to that class of our fellow citizens who constitute the mainstay and support of the commonwealth. Under the law as it now exists rates of freight established by the railroads have to be posted publicly every six months. It would be proper that the rates established on the first of the year be taken into consideration by the Legislature, and that the rates on the main products of this country be fixed at a figure not exceeding the rates charges on railroads in the Atlantic States where there is health competition, while establishing reasonable rates on all other articles on the schedule. This is a feasible suggestion, but should the Legislature devise a better and more effective scheme, I would most cheerfully give my assent thereto.
The gift by the General Government of March 12th, 1860, to the State of Oregon of all the swamp and overflowed land within its limits was a Greek gift. The result of that gift has been, that some of the fairest and most productive portion of our State, susceptive of supporting a large population, have been monopolized by a few individuals; immigrants that would have helped build up our free institutions, have been turned away; and a few cattle barons claim the soil. A prompt and decisive step should now be taken by the State. It would be much better for the State if it was forced to accept the alternative that every single acre of swamp land grant, not now gone beyond its control, should be turned back at once to the Federal Government, to be taken up by settlers under the homestead and pre-emption act than that it should passing to the hands of a few large land owner, A thrifty enterprising yeomanry is richer endowment to the State than a few thousand dollars in the treasury, as the price of turning large areas of our most callable lands over into the possession of a few large alien stock raisers. But the State should secure all of its swamp lands to which it is entitled and parcel them our in small quantities to actual settlers.
It would be proper therefore the title to all the land claimed prior to the passage of the law approve October 17th, 1878, in regard to which a strict compliance with the act of October 26th, 1870, had not been made , and upon which the twenty per centum had not been pain prior to the time than the law of 1878 took effect, and all lands subsequent to the passage of said law that are claimed contrary to the provisions of that law limiting the amount to be purchased by one individual to 320 acres, be decaled to be in the State and noting any individual who has filed thereon without any authority of law and that all certificated of such filings subsequent to the time at which the law of 1878 took effect, should be cancelled and declared to be of no force or effect whatever. The State then should provide a proper officer empowered to act with the agent of the General Government in determining what lands are swamp and overflowed lands, in order that the vexed matter may be speedily settled, the State secured of its rightful gift, and its lands secured, as now is provided by law, to actual settlers in quantities not exceeding 320 acres.
WAGON ROAD GRANTS
From the report of the investigating committee made at the special session of the last Legislature, in relation to the several wagon road grants, the belief is raised than those grants must have been secured by false affidavits and fraudulent representation made to the executive officers who accepted and certified to the construction of such roads, a great portion of which appears to have never been built. The last Legislature memorialized Congress, asking that those grants not already patented should, by act of Congress, be declared abolished, vacated, annulled and considered lapsed, and in regard to those already patented, that suits be instituted to vacate such lands, except those acquired in good faith. Instead of complying with the expressed with of the Legislative Assembly to declare by act of Congress the land not already patented annulled and considered lapsed, and to institute suits in regard to those already patented, Senator Dolph introduced a bill providing for the determination of all the matter pertaining to such grants by suits in the Federal Courts. The question, therefore, comes before this Legislature as to whether the action of the last Legislature shall be sustained and our delegation in Congress instructed to carry our the will of the previous Legislature, of whether it will acquiesce in the plan of settlement proposed by the aforesaid bill. In either event, provision should be made by the Legislature, in case any suits are instituted by which the State could be represented in such suits for the protection of its interests. As this State has no Attorney-General suitable provision should be made by the Legislature for such contingency.
RIVER AND HARBOR OBSTRUCTIONS
There is no State of the Union that possesses nobler tide-water navigation than our own. For more than a hundred miles, large sea-going vessels can float upon tide-water rivers. These rivers are the pride of the State. They are the great natural thoroughfares of commerce made by the Almighty, for the benefit of all mankind, and the Legislature should take good care that they should not be impaired in any degree by other thoroughfares of commerce, builded by man mainly for the enrichment of private corporations. It would be eminently proper to pass a general law, preventing the obstruction of our tide-water rivers, in any manner, by locating itself just below a large city, might ask the privilege of bridging the river so as to leave the bulk of its own wharves below the bridge and the bulk of the wharves of the city above the bridge. To grant this privilege would be to give the that company the means of enhancing the value of its wharves at the expense of the wharves of the city. This would be a species of class legislation, which ought never to receive legislative sanction. For the last third of a century, corporations have come before our State and Federal Legislatures and have generally received what they desired, regardless of individual rights. It is high time that a cry of halt was made. It is high time that a change of policy should be had and that no longer should private rights be ruthlessly sacrificed at the shrine of corporate greed.
This is all I had purposed saying upon this topic but a recent event requires further attention. Senator Dolph on the second day of the present session of Congress, introduced in the Senate of the United States “a bill to authorize the constriction of a bridge across the Willamette river at Portland, Oregon.” This bill authorizes the Willamette River Bridge Company, its successors and assigns to build a bridge “at a point between the cities of Portland and East Portland, to be selected and determined by the said Bridge Company of the Company constructing said bridge,” and it requires a draw in such bridge of only about one hundred and twenty-one feed in the clear. Within two weeks after the introduction of such bill and without knowing whether it would become a law or not the War Department took steps to comply with such bill. The remarkable celerity of Senators and of the War Department in measures trust to their painful slowness in pushing works of public improvement. The people of Oregon can justly demand an explanation at the hands of our senior Senator in regard to this measure. It is proposed to build this bridge at the lower end of the city of Portland, and with a draw in the clear of only one hundred and twentyone feet. That Senator is aware of the fact that Government engineers have reported that a bridge built much further up stream should have a draw of not less than two hundred feet; that upon a judicial investigation forty-two persons, mostly navigators and pilots affirmed the same thing and that it was judiciously determined (7 Sawyer 127) that a “bridge, whatever the width of the draw, will be an obstruction, if erected in the midst of this (Portland) harbor.”
With these grave facts before our Senator, he has introduced the foregoing bill, and is pushing it with bigger and swiftness. But his zeal in fathering the wishes of railroad corporations has outrun his knowledge of law. He proposes that Congress shall authorize the construction of a bridge across the Willamette river. Congress can give consent to, but it cannot authorized the construction of such a bridge. “The National Government possesses no powers but such as have been delegated to it. The States have all but such as they have surrendered. The power to authorize the building of bridges is not to be found in the Federal Constitution. It has not been taken from the States. It must reside somewhere. They had if before the Constitution was adopted, and they have it still.” (3 Wallace, 713) While, therefore, Congress cannot authorize the building of a bridge, this measure seems to show that railroad corporations will resort to the extremist measures for the furtherance of their selfish greed, regardless of either public interests or of private rights. While the State Legislature should cheerfully grant them the right to bridge the Willamette where it would be no material obstruction to commerce, it should, by the passage of general law, as has been suggested, prevent them from obstructing commerce between a port on entry and the ocean. The people of the whole State are all equally interested in preventing the destruction of private rights by corporate power.
A new apportionment of the number of Senators and Representatives for the Legislative Assembly is a
One of the most beneficial expenditures that was ever made by the Legislature, was that fore the building of a pilot schooner. The result of that action on the part of the State has been that the price of towage on the Columbia river bar is now not one0half what it was one year ago. This legislature should make the appropriations necessary for keeping such schooner on first-class condition, and should be most careful that the Pilot Commissioners selected by it should not be under the control of any monopoly that maybe be interested in driving the Oregon pilots from the river. The Oregon pilots should be sustained in the field.
THE SALMON INDUSTRY
During the last season, the law of Oregon relating to the time in which salmon should be caught and packed, on the Columbia river, has been openly violated by nearly all of the large canning establishments on the river, It has been suggested that a change in the law should be made, and that a Fish Commissioner should be appointed. Neither one is needed. The law is good enough and effective enough as it is. All that is needed is its strict enforcement. If, during my term of office, such a general and open attempt is made to violate the law, I shall consider it my imperative duty to bring, if possible, all offenders to punishment. The laws should be enforced against rich corporation as well as against poor individuals. Laws should also be passed preventing the catching of fish on the Oregon shore of the Columbia river by either seines, fish traps or fish wheels. As about forty thousand dollars are paid in duties on articles used in salmon fishing, the Federal Government should be petitioned to establish salmon hatcheries.
The employment of convict labor in competition to free labor is a grievance which should be remedied. In this State, however, this labor is under contract that has six years yet to run. At the expiration of that time the State should devise the means, if possible, whereby the labor of our prison convicts may not be brought any longer into competition with free labor.
LAWS REGULATING MONOPOLIES
A low should be passed fixing the maximum rates to be charged by all telegraph companies within the State; the maximum rates to be charged by the tug boats on the bar in regard to all vessels for Oregon ports, with restrictions as to discrimination of such vessels and also the passage of a general law, giving to the legislative bodies of all incorporated cities the r right to fix the charges of all gas, water, electric light and telephone companies. But this latter law should define the manner in which such charges should be fixed, so that the city Legislature should have neither the right to deprive the carious corporations of just compensation, or sanction that such legislative bodies should have the power to ascertain the exact amount of capital invested and then be compelled to fix the rates so as to afford a compensation amounting to a certain per cent. On the capital invested, and a fair remuneration for necessary expenditures.
RATE OF INTEREST
The merely casual observer cannot fail to notice that the most prosperous class of community is the money-loaning class. The profit on money loaned our at the present legal rate of interest is much greater than is the profit on money invested in farming and other ordinary pursuits. And, as the law should allow no favored classes, it would be proper that the legal rate of interest on money be fixed so that the money-lenders profit may not be so much greater than the profit of men in other avocations. The law should endeavor to do something like equal justice to all classes. Money is clothed by law with an attribute which no other species of property possesses that of being a legal tender for debts and being thus favored by law, it is but just that its profits should b e controlled by law. The legal rate of interest should therefore be fixed at not over 7 per cent. Per annum, allowing contracts, however, at 9 per cent., but forbidding any stipulation in any transaction by which the borrower would be compelled to pay over $10 as attorney fees in case of a forced collection.
The last Legislature proposed three amendments to the Constitution, one relating to the salaries of State officers, one relating to prohibition, and one changing the time of our State elections from June to November. Action upon those proposed amendments is required of you at this session, and if they are agreed to by you, it will be you duty to submit the same to the voters of the Sate for final action. The suggestion has been made that a convention should be called to revise the Constitution. But it is not at all necessary that a convention should be called. We have a safe conservative Constitution now, and the necessary changes, if any, can be made by the slower and better way --- that of legislative suggestion.
ABOLISHMENT OF OFFICES
Inasmuch as the Federal Government has passed an oleomargarine law, the office of Dairy Inspector, created by the last Legislature, can be abolished. The vigilance of the United States revenue officers will doubtless be sufficient to prevent the fraudulent sale of oleomargarine as butter, thus making it unnecessary for the State to be at any expense in that regard. It is also an unnecessary expense to any longer retain a paid a gent at Washington to act in reference to swamp land matters. The State Board can probably as well manage its own affairs by correspondence with the departments at Washington. It would also be proper to abolish the Board of Immigration. If the early pioneers of forty and fifty years ago could find Oregon without a trail through the forests or over the deserts, immigrants that desire to come here now can undoubtedly already, without artificial aid. And then, too, gentlemen of the Legislature, it is not in good conscience for us to invite immigrants here where, unless some change be made, they may be compelled to compete with coolie slaves for the support of themselves, their wives and their children. The best immigration scheme that can possible be devised by this Legislature is to provide for the hardy immigrants of our own race will flock here without invitation and help build up our free institutions and enlarge the glories of our State.
Free schools are the chief bulwarks of free institutions. Our State stands in the very front rank in regard to educational facilities afforded to the young, and yet there is one grave defect. The apportionment of the school fund to the several districts in proportion to the umber of children residing therein leaves the sparsely settled portions of our state without the means of maintaining school for the same number of months that schools are maintained. Where populations is more dense. This is unjust. The farmer on the frontier pay the same tax on his property that the resident in the city pays on his property, and it is but just that his children should enjoy something like equal privileges with the children in the cities. Some provision should be made by which at least six months schooling could be afforded to every district of reasonable size in the State. Instead of appropriating large and increasing sums of money for universities and other high educational schools the state should rather pay attention to the procurement of a good common school education to all the children of the State. That is its chief security.
PAY OF COUNTY OFFICERS
It would be a practical reform if the pay of all county officers should be definitely fixed by law in the various counties according to the services rendered. A part of the county officers have fixed salaries for their services, and there is no good reason why all should not, and quite good reasons why all should be so paid. As the law is now, the Sheriffs and Clerks receive the fees of the respective sums collected. These emoluments are uncertain, variable, and sometimes exorbitantly high. Within the last four years the office of Sheriff in Multnomah county has been worth $20,000 per annum. This enormously high stipend is not only an unnecessary burden on the taxpayers, but it is a prolific incentive for bribery and corruption in the efforts to secure such a bonanza position. The pay of all county officers should be definitely fixed by law, and the Sheriffs and Clerks should be compelled to account for and pay over the fees received by them into the county treasury. This is a very important matter, and the Legislature should make the necessary changes in the law.
THE REGISTERY LAW
In obedience to the expressed will of every voter of the State, both parties having declared for it, the Legislature at its last regular session passes a general election law, among the provisions of such session passed a general election law, among the provisions of which was one requiring the registration of voters preceding each election. Was one requiring the registration of voters preceding each election. At the special session following, some imperfections in the law were remedied and another act was passed, definitely describing the manner in which such registration should be affected. Under, and in pursuance of this law the necessary steps were taken for carrying it into effect. A few days preceding the time mentioned in the law, in which such registration should be made, the various officers appointed to carry it into effect abandoned all further compliance with it provisions in regard to registration, and as a consequence that operation of the law in that regard was suspended, in plain defiance of that Constitutional provision which declares that “the operation of the laws shall never be suspended except by the authority of the Legislative Assembly.” (Art. 1, Sec. 23) This anomalous and most extraordinary condition of affairs was the result of a suit which had been brought before the courts by a citizen of Multnomah County, in which it was demanded of the court that an injunction should be issued againsed the county Commissioners of that County restraining them form auditing and allowing bills against the County incurred in the execution of the registration law. The Supreme Court commanded the issuance of the injunction prayed for, for the reason, as alleged by the Court, that that part of the statute relating to registration, duly enacted by the Legislative Assembly of Oregon, was not the law of the State, it being, in the judgment of two of the three judges of that Court, in conflict with the provision of the State Constitution. There cannot be found in the constitution of Oregon any warrant whatever for such a proceeding. There cannot be found in the Constitution any provision by which the Judges of several Courts of Oregon are exempted from any warrant by which they ca suspend. By an order, the operation of a law which that Constitution expressly declares that instrument they are bound to obey and enforce the law, and are not privileged to disregard and nullify the law. In that instrument there is no provision by which the unanimous will of the people in regard to this registry law, regularly expressed in a legislative enactment, can be thwarted by any two or three men in the State. Judges cannot make or unmake laws, but, like others, they must obey laws. But it is claimed that that provision of the statutes relating to the registration of voters was not a law, it having been held by the Court as being void because it was in conflict, as the court deemed, with a Constitutional provision. If this claim be correct then the duly enacted statutes of the State may not all be the laws of the State. If this claim be correct the people of the State are in ignorance’s to the laws to which they must render obedience until they have passed the scrutiny of the Supreme Court and received its sanction. There is no warrant whatever for any such claim in the Constitution of Oregon. Such a doctrine is the doctrine of the Courts, and not he doctrine of the Contrition. A statute of the Legislative Assembly of Oregon. Duly enacted, is a law of the State until it is repealed by the Legislature. Its operation can be no more suspended by a decision of the Court that it can by an order from the Executive. There can be no mistake whatever about this proposition. The Constitution expressly declares that “every statute shall be a public law unless otherwise declared in the statute itself” (Art. 4, Sec.27), and therefore this registration act was “a public law,” declared to be such by the Constitution, notwithstanding the Supreme Court declared it to be not a law. The State government of Oregon is composed of three separate departments --- the legislative, the executive and the judicial. Each is independent in its sphere and the action of each operating within such sphere is binding upon the others. The judicial branch can no more nullify a law of the Legislature by the decision, under our State Constitution, than can the legislative branch nullify a decision of the Court by a legislative enactment, or than can the Governor set aside both the decisions of enactment, or than can the Governor set aside both the decisions of enactment, or than can the Governor set aside both the decisions of the Courts and the statutes of the Legislature by an executive order. But the Courts have advanced the theory that it is their province, in case they are of the opinion that the Legislature has erred in regard to a Constitutional question, to nullify the Legislative act by a judicial decision. This doctrine has no foundation whatever in the Constitution, it has no foundation in the common law, it has no foundation in reason (for the common law is “the perfection of reason”), and it has no other foundation than the dictum of the Courts themselves. If the Courts possess the power to nullify a law of the Legislature by a judicial order, then the Legislative and the judicial branches are not co-ordinate branches --- but the legislative branch is subordinate to the judicial.; Such a doctrine “were to set the judicial power above that of the legislative, which would be subversive of all government.” (1 Blackstone, 91) If the Courts, as claimed by them, possess the power to declare an act of there Legislature void, then no enactment of the Legislature can be a law without the ultimate consent of the Courts. If this doctrine be correct, if we are finally to look to the Courts and no to the Legislature for the law, the Legislature necessarily becomes an useless appendage of government. We might as well at once dispense with it and let the Courts at first declare the law. It would be productive of much less confusion. And if there be no Legislature there need be no Executive. The officers of the Court could enforce the law of the Court. Then we would have in name what we now have in truth, if this doctrine of the courts be the correct doctrine, not a constitutional government of three separate and co-ordinate branches, but that very work form of tyranny --- the government of a judicial oligarchy. The Courts have assumed that the question as to whether a statue was constitutional or not is a judicial question. This is very clearly a mistake. It is a legislative question. The member of the Legislature, as well the Judges of the Courts, before entering upon their duties take an oath to support the Constitution of the State. Hence, in obedience oath to support the Constitution of the State. Hence, in obedience to this oath, whenever a bill is presented, the question is at once raised in the Legislature as to whether it is constitutional or not. If it is a necessary measure, and if in the judgment of the Legislature it is constitutional they pass it and it becomes a law, and their judgment in regard to its constitutionality is a final judgment (subject only to the revision of the people who make the Constitutions), and it is conclusive upon the other departments. The common law doctrine, which recognizes as a legislative prerogative the determination of the constitutionality of laws in absence of the Courts, is the law of the land to-day, and hence the Legislature of the State like the Parliament in England is the rightful judge as to whether a law is Constitutional or now. The Courts have no appellate legislative power under the Constitution, to revise the judgment of the Legislature in this regard. And when they claim this right, it is in defiance of a rule which in regard to themselves they obey. It is a rule of law recognized by the Courts, that when a Court has jurisdiction its judgment is final and conclusive except where appeal is given by law. But in relation to the Legislature because it is its duty, to pass upon the constitutionality of every measure brought before it. It must necessarily do so. It therefore has justification of this very question and inasmuch as there is no appellate legislative power given by the Constitution to the Courts, the judgment of the Legislature is final, and according to their own rule, is conclusive upon them. The question as to whether a law is constitutional or not is a legislative question and the decision of the Legislature is a binding upon the Courts as it is upon the Executive or upon the people. In order to further show that under our Constitution such decision is final it is but necessary to consider that provision in regard to the passage of a law over the be to of the Executive .Let it be supposed that a bill is passed which in the judgment of the Executive is plainly and palpably in violation of the Constitution. He vetoes the bill and gives the reasons why, in his judgment it is unconstitutional and returns it to the Legislature. In the opinion of two-thirds of each house the bill is constitutional, and it is therefore passed over his veto, and thereupon the Constitution declares that “it shall become a law.” Has the Executive a right to disregard this law and treat it as a nullity because in his judgment it is unconstitutional? There is no warrant for in the Constitution. Have the Judges a right to disregard the law, and treat it as a nullity because in their judgment it is unconstitutional? There is no warrant for it in the Constitution. But suppose, as is the frequent custom, this question is brought before the Courts. They pass upon the statute, and declare, as is the increasing wont of the Courts, that it is contrary, in their judgment, to the Constitution and therefore that it is no law. In that event what is the duty of the Executive? Here is the plain mandate of the Constitution declaring that statute to be a law, and here is the decision of the courts declaring it to be a law, and here is the decision of the courts declaring it to be no law. His duty, under his solemn oath, is plain. The mandate of the Constitution is higher than the mandate of the courts. The Constitution must be obeyed and the law must be enforced. Its operation must not be suspended but by the act of the Legislative Assembly. Nor is there any warrant in the Federal Constitution for a the power assumed by the Courts to declare an enactment of the Legislative Assembly void. The second Section of Article III of the Federal Constitution, as presented to the Convention which framed it, by the committee of five declared that “the judicial power shall extend to all cases arising under the laws of the United States.” When the motion was made to add the words “the Constitution,” objection was raised because it was thought “it was going too far to extend the jurisdiction of the Courts generally to ashes arising under the Constitution and that it ought to be limited to cases of a judiciary nature.” The motion was agreed to nem con, “it being generally supposed that the jurisdiction given was constructively limited to cases of a judiciary nature” (5 Elliott, 483). The leading med of that Convention were common law lawyers, and when it was generally supposed that “the jurisdiction given was constructively limited to cases of judiciary nature,” it is beyond all question that the jurisdiction referred to was the “jurisdiction” of the common law and was not brad enough to authorize the Courts to declare and act of the Legislature void, for at that time to Court where the common law prevailed, or no Court of any civilized country in all Christendom ever had deemed its jurisdiction ample enough to amend or nullify a law of the Legislature by a judicial decision. This doctrine, founded alone upon the decisions of Courts, which dates back only a hundred years, which is, as we have seen, without warrant either in the State of Federal Constitution, or in the common law, or in reason, is based by the Courts upon the supposed necessity in a Government limited by a written Constitution, of the lodgment somewhere of the power to corrector and restrain any infraction by the Legislature, of the fundamental law of the land, and that necessarily it must inhere in the judiciary. But there cannot be discovered either in the Federal or State Constitution any incline of the theory that two of the three separate departments of Government are fallible and that the third is infallible and should therefore dominate over the other two. The Judges like Legislators are men, and as such are fallible. They are as liable to violate the Constitution as Legislators. In fact, in regard to this very act, decided by the Court to be unconstitutional, the best standard authorities sustain the Legislature and not the Courts. (Cooley of Constitutional Limitations, 601). And the history of ass State and Federal Legislation for the last hundred years disclose no such bold and palpable infraction of the Constitution as has been recently exhibited by the Supreme Court of the United States in a remarkable decision, in which by a course of reasoning that would be ludicrous if the drift of it was not alarming, it ruthlessly broke down that Constitutional barrier which heretofore has prevented a State from being sued. (114 U. S., 269). There is a corrective for any disregard of the fundamental law by the Legislature, but it is with the people and not with either of the other co-ordinate branches of Government. If any Legislators violate the Constitution, the people which are sovereign, will retire them to private life and remedy the wrong which has been committed, by repealing the unconstitutional law. The people who make the Constitutions are its rightful interpreters. This is the true theory of our Government. It is far superior to the theory of the Courts that they can correct legislation and that their interpretation is final and the conclusive. This Court theory not only shackles legislative action but it is a throttle upon the popular will. By it the people can never give expression to their sovereign will as to a Constitutional question in evolved in a particular law. The Courts claim that they have the4 final decision, instead of the sovereign whose servants they are. This claim is an usurpation of power. It is tyranny. Gentlemen of the Legislative Assembly of Oregon: You are entrusted by the people of this State, under the Constitution, with the sole power of making, altering and repealing the laws of this Commonwealth. You are under the dolmen obligation of your oath of office to make those laws conform to the Constitution and you are under those laws conform to the Constitution and you are under the very same obligation to retain for the people of the State, in it completes vigor and scope. This highest and most sacred prerogative of a free people, the exclusive right in its Legislative Assembly of making, altering and repealing laws. Finding, therefore, no warrant, either in the State or Federal Constitution, for the Judicial Department to nullify and enactment of the Legislature, the conclusion is irresistible that the Registration Act as passed by the Legislature of Oregon is the law of the land to-day, and that the order of the Court suspending the operation of such law was in violation of Section 23, Article I., of the Constitution, and therefore that it was void and of no effect. Such being some modification. While it is absolutely necessary, in order to have a fair ballot, and in order that the constitutional provision entitling citizens “to vote at all elections authorized by law” may not be a worthless privilege, that a registration should be had in our large cities, yet such registration in country districts is not only not necessary to a fair ballot, but it is a positive hardship and an unnecessary burden. A change in the election law should be made by which registration may be had only where needed for a fair election say in counties containing cities of five thousand inhabitants and over. You have ample warranty for such a change in the law in Section 8, Article II., of the Constitution, and it is you duty to make the necessary amendment.
THE CHINESE QUESTION
The unanimity of the people of Oregon on the undesirability of the presence of the Chinese amongst us Was very clearly demonstrated by the fact that both political parties at the last election avowed their hostility to any further immigration of that most undesirable population within our borders, and that one of those parties pledged itself to use all lawful means for the removal of these already here. At this stage of our experience in regard to this class of pauper slave labor, no argument need be used to stimulate the Legislative Assembly of Oregon to exhaust every constitutional means by which to rid the State from the corruption and paralyzing influence of their presence. A third of a century’s experience tells one unvarying story. Irrevocably devoted to their paganism idolatry, superstition and practices, they are entirely unassimilative with our people, blind to the progressive spirit of our race, unappreciative of our institutions and deaf to the demands and influences of Christianity, and their presence amongst us is only corruption of society, debasing to morals and degrading to labor. Can the State do anything toward ridding itself of these undesirable aliens? The States when they formed the Federal Government were absolute sovereignties and they delegated to that government certain enumerated powers, reserving expressly delegated. One of the powers and attributes of sovereignty not so delegated but retained by the States, was that power which appertains to every sovereignty, of expelling from its borders any alien or class of aliens whose presence it might deem undesirable, with a limitation only in regard to those susceptible of naturalization, the States having delegated to the Federal Government the right to pass uniform rustled in regard thereto. It therefore follows that if the Federal Government should refuse to extend to a particular class of aliens the right of naturalization it would have no control over that class within State limits, as the right to pass naturalization laws is the only power in regard to aliens delegated by the Sates to the Federal Government, all other powers in regard thereto deniable. It is also sustained by the decision of the highest tribunal in the land --- the Supreme Court of the United States. In the case of New York vs. Miln, 11 Peters, 102, the Court says: “A State has the same undeniable and unlimited jurisdiction over all persons and things within its territorial limits as any foreign nation where that jurisdiction is not surrendered or restrained by the Constitution of the United States. * * * All those power which relate to mere municipal legislation, or what may perhaps more properly be called internal police, are not thus surrendered or restrained, and unqualified and exclusive. * * * We think it is as competent and necessary for a State to provide precautionary measures against the moral pestilence of paupers, vagabonds and possible convicts as unsound and infectious articles imported” And this sound doctrine, promulgated by the Supreme Court, has since that time never been controverter by it. This opinion, which sustained the constitution of a law of New York throwing checks and limitations over the immigration of aliens, was the opinion of the whole Court, with the exception of justice Story, who dissented on the ground that the law conflicted with the power delegated to Congress over commerce Subsequently (Passenger Cases, 7 Howard, 283) the Supreme Court held another and more stringent law passed by the State of New York as unconstitutional for the reason that it was in conflict with the control over commerce delegated by the States to the Federal Government. In this case the opinion of the Court as a Court was not given, but five Judges gave opinions holding the law to be unconstitutional and four holding it to be constitutional. But the position assumed by the Court in 11 Peters remained unsoiled. Justice McLean, one of the majority in the Passenger Cases, in his opinion clearly defined the difference between the two cases, affirming therein his previous position. He said: “When the merchandise is taken from the ship and becomes mingled wit the property of the people of the State, like other property, it is subject to local laws; but until this shall take place the merchandise is an import, and is not subject to the taxing power of the State, and the same rule applies to passengers. When they leave the ship and mingle with the citizens of the State they become subject to its laws.” It therefore follows that while a State can do nothing to prevent the landing of aliens within its borders, for the reason that any such measured would be an interference with commerce, the control of which was delegated to the Federal Government, and while it can do nothing to rid the State of aliens susceptive of naturalization (except “vagabonds, paupers, and possibly convicts”), for the reason that it has given to Congress the right to pass naturalization laws, and such interference might conflict with such right; yet it does have ,by virtue of its reserved police power --- that power of sovereignty not delegated --- as absolute and unquestionable control over all aliens within its borders not subject to naturalization “as any foreign nation.” And this power, in the language of the Supreme Court, “is complete, unqualified and exclusive.” It may order them to depart from within its borders, or it may tax therein a license tax to be paid by any person who gives them employment. It may choose any of the means it deems best. The right existing with the State to do with them just as it chooses, the choice of the means must necessarily inhere with it. But it is urged that such expressly guarantees o the State the full exercise of such measures. The first Congress of the United States, begun and held at the city of New York March 4th, 1789, for the reason that “the convention of a number of States having at the time of their adopting the Constitution expressed a desire, in order to present misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added,” proposed eleven amendments to the Constitution, one of which declares that “the powers not delegated to the United Sates by the Constitution nor prohibited by it to the Sates are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” This amendment was ratified by three-fourths of the States. It was proposed by the Federal Government and ratified by the States. It is therefore a treaty, to all intents and purposes, between the high contracting parties. Inasmuch, therefore, as the power of absolute control over aliens which inheres in every sovereignty was reserved by the States, except in relation to those susceptible of naturalization, they have the full exercise of the right guaranteed to them by this most sacred treaty with the Federal Government. Will now that Government, with a disregard for honor to that would shame even a pagan potentate, prove false to its plighted treaty faith? Will it now break its treaty obligations with the States and deny them the exercise of rights it sacredly pledged itself that they should exercise? It cannot, it dare not do it.
But it is urged that a treaty exists between the United States and China which guarantees to the Chinese within the United States the right enjoyed by the citizens of the most favored nations, that therefore they have the undisputed right to remain here as they choose and not as the States may choose (thus placing the will of a Chinaman above the will of a sovereign State) for the reason that by the Constitution “all treaties made or which shall be made under the authority of the United States shall be the supreme law of the land.” It is undeniable that all treaties “made under the authority of the United States” are the supreme law of the land. But it is as undeniable also that any treaty stipulations with China, can force within the territorial limits of a State, a numberless horde of pagan paupers and thus, by such treaty destroy the reserved rights of a State over such immigration, it could also, equally as well, by treaty stipulation with that empire, accord to the Chinese immigrants, within the territorial limits of the State certain portion of real property, and thus destroy the right of a State to control such property, on the self-same ground that the Constitution declares that a treaty shall be “the supreme law of the land.” Such a proposition is too monstrous and too absurd for any lawyer or any Court (except perhaps some minor Federal Court) in this country to entertain for one single moment. Upon this point Justice Taney in the passenger case said: “For if the people of the several States of this Union reserved to themselves the power of expelling from their borders any person or class of persons whom it might deem to be dangerous to its peace or likely to produce a physical or moral evil among its citizens, then any treaty or law of Congress invading that right and authorizing the introduction of any person or description of persons against the consent of the State, would be an usurpation of power which this Court could neither recognize or enforce. I had supposed that this question was not now open to dispute.” It is therefore undeniable that the States have reserved to themselves this inherent power of sovereignty over aliens not susceptible of naturalization, that there is no “authority” in the Federal Government to make any treaty stipulation would be absolutely void. The State then having full control of this matter and the people of the State being almost unanimously opposed to the presence of the Chinese here, it devolves upon the Legislative Assembly to devise the most peaceful and effective means towards procuring their removal from our State. There can be no doubt but that it is perfectly competent for the State to cause the deportation, by law, of all aliens not susceptible of naturalization. But this remedy would entail large expense, and would appear unnecessarily harsh to those who do not appreciate what a curse they are to the State. More peaceable, and yet fully as effective means, though not so speedy, can be devised, and means which are in perfect accord with a policy which the General Government has pursued for three-quarters of a century—the policy of protecting home industry against alien competition. This policy is to be highly commended when it protects labor. It has mostly been applied to the protection of rich manufacturing capitalists, which is unjust, because capital can always take care of itself, but if it can be applied only so as to protect the industry of our fellow-citizens who have no capital but the labor of their hands, it is most commendable and praiseworthy. A protective policy that will protect the laboring classes and will put the tax thus collected into the treasury of the Government instead of into the pockets of a favored few, is one which all good citizens must necessarily favor. And it is competent for the State to adopt such a policy, which will not only directly benefit the laboring man, but will indirectly benefit the people of the State at large. A license tax law can be enacted by which every individual or corporation in the State who employ or rent buildings or grounds to an unnaturalized alien shall be compelled to pay a license therefore, the proceeds of which should go to the Common School Fund. By this means our laboring fellow citizens would be protected from the ruinous competition of alien slave labor. By this means this undesirable class of aliens would be compelled from lack of employment to leave the State of their own accord. By this means, within a very short time, and in a peaceable and lawful manner, our State would be rid of their baneful presence, and the places they now occupy would be filled with laboring men of our own race and blood, who will help build up our free institutions and dot our hillsides and valleys with the happy homes of freemen. There is no one question before the Legislative Assembly of equal importance to this question. Let this remedy be applied, which the people demand. Let the will of the people, which is the supreme law of the land, be enacted and enforced.
A CONSTITUTIONAL MANDATE
Your attention must be called to Sec. 8, Art. XV, of our State Constitution, which provides that “no Chinaman not a resident of the State at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, shall ever hold any real estate or mining claim, or work any mining claim therein.” And your attention must be especially called to the last clause which provide that “the Legislature shall provide by law in the most effective manner for carrying out above provision.” You will observe that this is mandatory. When it declares that the Legislature shall so provide, it does not leave it optional either with your judgments or your inclination. You have sworn to support the Constitution, and you can only do so by obeying its behests. That you have ample power to do so, and that there is nothing in the Federal Constitution which inhibits you, are both very plain propositions. And that there is urgent need for your action in this matter is beyond all question. This class of aliens are now, as they have been for the last quarter of a century, swarming over our mineral districts and purloining the rich deposits which Providence has kindly placed there for the benefit of ourselves and our children, they have shipped them by millions of dollars out of the county. Let an effectual stop be put to these proceedings, in obedience to the Constitutional mandate.
INTERFERENCE WITH STATE LAWS
Within the last four years, in this State, a Federal Court has in one instance interfered with the collection of a county road tax (8 Sawyer, 384); in another instance with the collections of fines for the violation of a city charter (9 Sawyer, 333); in another instance with the collection of a school tax (10 Sawyer, 52); and in still another instance it nullified the provisions of the Hoult law, regulating the conduct of common carriers (25 Federal Reporter, 52). In the first and second instances it rendered the State laws nugatory by an interpretation of them which made them void for the purposes intended by the lawmakers, while in the third and fourth cases it declared the law to be a nullity, and deliberately set forth its own opinion, in opposition thereto, as the law. Section 721 of the Revised Statutes of the United States expressly provides that “the laws of the several States, except where the Constitution, treaty, or statute of the United States otherwise require or provide, shall be regarded as rules of decision, in trials at common law, in the Courts of the United States in cases where they apply.” In neither of these cases did the Constitution, or statute, or treaty of the United States provide otherwise than what the law of the State provided. And yet, instead of regarding the law of this State as a rule of decision, the Federal Court within this State a superior law to the solemn enactments of the Legislative Assembly? Can the deliberately expressed will of the people of this State, in a matter over which they have absolute control, be set aside at the arbitrary dictation of an United States District Judge. If so, our written Constitutions are a snare, the enactments of our Legislature are a fraud, and the government by the people a delusion. If so, the people of this State are not sovereign, but the Judge of the Federal Court for the district of Oregon is the sovereign. But it is not so. The will of the people rightfully expressed by the Legislature is the law of the State, and it must be respected, obeyed and enforced. There is growing up in this country a spirit of anarchy, a wanton disregard for law, a disposition for each man to be a law unto himself, that is dangerous tot he perpetuity of our institutions. If we would preserve our Government, if we would have the law supreme, this spirit of anarchy must be effectually put down. Our only security as a free people is in maintaining the supremacy of the law. And the man who defies and overrides the law must be held to a strict accountability. The example of men entrusted with high office in disregarding the law of the land is most pernicious. Those whose duty it is to administer the law should be the most sensitive in regard to their respect for the law. I shall endeavor to rigidly enforce the laws of the State, and in case any further unwarranted interference is made therewith by the Federal Court, it will be the duty of the Legislature to memorialize Congress for the impeachment and removal from office of the offender.
SUITS BY FOREIGN CORPORATIONS
The privilege that foreign corporations now have of bringing their suits in the Federal Courts, has been a great source of annoyance to many citizens of the State. A law should be passed by the Legislature forbidding foreign corporations doing business in this State without taking out a license therefore, under efficient penalties, and authorizing the Secretary of State to revoke and annul such license in case any such corporation brought any suit in the Federal Courts. Our State Courts are good enough for our own citizens, and they should be good enough for foreign corporations; and if those should be compelled to abstain from doing business within the State. Our courts, in learning, integrity and ability, are fully the peers of any Federal Courts in the land, and there is no good reason why a foreign corporation should object to bringing suits therein. In case they do, the State should object to their doing business within its limits. That it has the right to do so is unquestionable (94 U.S., 535.)
GRANTS TO CORPORATIONS
It is absolutely necessary that great care should be taken by the Legislature in conferring grants upon corporations. American Courts have overturned that sound common law doctrine that acts of a previous Legislature cannot bind the acts of a subsequent one, and that it is competent for a subsequent Legislature to undo the wrongs of a previous one. They hold that the most vicious of all class legislation, which confers rights and privileges upon private parties, or corporations, is in the nature of a contract, and therefore irrepealable. This doctrine is repugnant to the common law and unwarranted by the Constitution, but it is the doctrine enforced by the Courts. As the necessary result of this doctrine and the practices of corporations in procuring franchises inimical to and destructive of the rights of the people, one right and immunity after another has been filched from the people and delegated to corporations; and as a further result corporations are becoming a greater power in the land than Legislatures. The Courts have had much to say about the sacredness of vested rights which corporations can receive and have received from Legislatures, but they have been silent as to the vested right which belongs to every free people—that of having the indestructible power in their Legislative Assembly of undoing any wrong which a previous Legislature might have done. Until the sound doctrine of the common law and of the Constitution, that Legislatures are always of equal sovereignty, is restored, it behooves you to be most careful as to any grant or franchise sought for by corporations. The Legislature should always stand as a faithful sentinel of the people’s rights.
ADVISABLE LEGISLATION REGARDING REAL PROPERTY
It is a disgrace to any civilized Government to have one law upon its statute books and a conflicting law in its Court reports. There is a statute of the State providing for the obtainment of a judgment against a non-resident by publication of summons and for the sale of real property within the State for the satisfaction of such judgment against a non-resident by publication of summons and such judgment on execution following such service. It is an undisputed proposition of Constitutional law that the Legislature of a State has power to prescribe what mode of procedure shall constitute due process of law affecting real property within its limits and that such power was never delegated in any manner to the Supreme Court of the United States, yet such Court has usurped such power (95 U.S., 714), denied the efficacy of the mode of procedure fixed by the State Legislature, and laid down a rule of its own, not recognized by State law, as being necessarily essential to the obtaining of a valid judgment in such cases. It declared that there must be an attachment of the real property of a non-resident, in order to get valid judgment. This decision wrongfully deprived a large number of our citizens of their rightful property. Although such Court had not the shadow of a right to disregard State law and to make a rule of its own in defiance thereto, yet, inasmuch as it has done so, and as the change in procedure is a very trivial one, it perhaps would be advisable, in order to avoid conflict, to amend the statute by authorizing such attachment. A law should also be passed, providing that no judgment of a Federal Court should be a lien on any real property in the State unless such judgment is recorded in the county where such property is situated
A STATE CIVIL OFFICER
The Constitution of the State, referring to the duties of the Governor, declares that “he shall take care that the laws shall be faithfully executed.” The only officers, by the laws of the State, that are under the control of the Executive, in case circumstances should require him to obey the foregoing mandate, are military. The Executive has no civil officers provided him by law for the execution of that law. This is a great oversight. It is not in accordance with the spirit of our institutions, the temper of our people, the traditions of our ancestors, or the instincts of freemen that laws should be executed by the bayonet. Such a mode of executing the laws befits a despotism, but is a stigma to the government of a free people. Among English-speaking peoples, a government cannot long survive that has to be propped up by bayonets. The exercise of military power for the enforcement of civil laws is always productive of more harm than good. American freeman will always obey just laws, and they cannot long be compelled to obey any other. Civil laws should always be enforced by civil officers. There is, therefore, a necessity for providing a State civil officer of the peace with control of all other peace officers and of the posse comitatus to be under the control of the Governor for the execution of the laws when necessary, and who will receive pay only at such times as he necessarily renders service.
STATE INTEREST IN FEDERAL LEGISLATION
Owing to the fact that our system of government is duple in its character, we cannot expect to remedy all the grievances which are the subject of popular complaint through the instrumentality of State legislation. In fact the worst abuses under which the people of this country now suffer are those caused by the vicious legislation of the Federal Government. The State Government affords protection to our lives and our property, its system of taxation is correct in theory and nearly so in practice, inasmuch as all property is subjected to taxation, and, being directly beneath the watchful eye of the people, its expenditures are kept within reasonable limits, and fraud, and peculation and favoritism, can find no safe or convenient lodgment in its administration. But the Federal Government, on the other hand, while charged with the care of neither the lives or property of the citizens of the several States, is becoming burdensomely oppressive to the people of the country. A half a century ago its existence was felt by the people of the States only by the blessings it bestowed and the honors it conferred. To-day it is mainly felt by the wrongs it inflicts and the burdens it imposes. It has granted donations of vast areas of the people’s domain to private corporations and thus, instead of protecting the people of their property, it has despoiled them of their rightful heritage. Instead of making a fair and equitable taxation for its own support, it depends mainly for the collection of its revenue upon one of the most unjust and nefarious systems that could possible be devised by the mischievous ingenuity of man; a system borrowed from the robber Moors, who, with cannon planted at Tariffe, collected forced tribute from the commerce of the Mediterranean; a system that can be used for the enrichment of the few and the impoverishment of the many; a system provocative of the crimes of fraud, theft, bribery and perjury, a system corruptive of officials, debauching to business men and extravagantly expensive; and a system under which every tariff adjustment in Congress has degenerated into a mere disgraceful squabble for protected pelf. Each favored interest tries to filch more than any other favored interest, and every such adjustment is invariably an infamous collusion of protected pilferers for the conjoined robbery of all the unprotected industries of the country. Besides about one billion dollar paid for protection, the Federal Government collects its revenue which amounts to over three hundred million of dollars yearly, chiefly from duties on imports. These are so arranged that they bear mainly upon the laboring the producing classes. Unlike the State governments, it does not collect any of its revenue from the wealth of the country. That wealth, which by the last census amounted to the enormous sum of over forty-three billions of dollars, does not pay a farthing for the support of the Federal Government. The man worth a million of dollars pay no more for its support than the man worth a hundred dollars, provided both eat and dress equally well.
An in consequence of this non-contribution of the country’s wealth for the support of the General Government it follows that the tax for such support falls with unusual severity upon the poorer classes. Such gross injustice as this—the exemption of the Nation’s wealth from taxation—is a more grievous hardship than any of which our revolutionary fathers complained. It is an injustice that no other country of the civilized world is guilty of. It is an injustice that is breeding discontent. It is an injustice that must be remedied. There must be justice or there will be revolution. One of the most apparent results of Federal legislation for the last quarter of a century has been the fattening of its favorite banking, railroad and manufacturing corporations. Especial privileges have been given to banking institutions, unlimited grants of moneys and lands have been given to railroads, tariff duties have been so arranged as to fatten favorite industries, the wealth of the country has been totally exempted from bearing the burdens of the government, thus enormously increased by its profligate expenditures and benefactions, and is it therefore to be wondered at that the great masses of the people, who are not the recipients of its royal bounty, upon whom the bulk of these burdens fall, are poorly paid for their arduous toils? Is it any wonder that all over the land the growing murmurings of discontent are heard?
Is it any wonder that the laborers and farmers are organizing for self-protection against the continuation of these shameful and crying wrongs? There is another fact that has still further tended to cause this spontaneous uprising of resistance to these flagrant abuses. The people of this country have witnessed with just cause of alarm the studious and persistent efforts of those corporations which have grown wealthy from the public bounty to control the Executive department, the Courts and the Upper House of Congress, in order that they may not only retain what they have got but procure still more favorable legislation. The Senate of the United States today is mainly a corral of corporation lawyers, placed there for the furtherance’s of corporate interests. It is today, in great part, a house of railroad lords and corporation attorneys. That body is the slaughter pen of all corrective legislation originating in the Lower House. But the States have a remedy for this if they will but use it. Senators are but agents of the State, and it is not only the right but the imperative duty of State Legislatures to instruct their Senators upon any and every matter of public interest, and it is the duty of the agents to obey the behests of the principal. And there is no honorable Senator but what would do it or resign his office. If he could not conscientiously obey such instructions it would be his honorable duty to resign in order that the voice of the State may be obeyed.
I would therefore suggest that the Legislature should issue positive instruction to our Senators in Congress that they should support:
1st. A graduated income tax, in order that the wealth of the country should bear, as it ought, a share of the burdens of government, thus limiting duties on imports to fewer articles, mainly of luxury, or abolishing them altogether, and yet providing sufficient revenue by which necessary public works could be prosecuted, whereby needful employment could be given to needy labor. The best protective policy is to tax for revenue the wealth and not the industry of the country. And wealth should welcome such a tax, as affording a degree of justice conducive to its own security.
2d. A restoration of the habeas corpus jurisdiction of the Federal Courts to what it was under the judiciary act of 1789/ This, in nearly seventy years’ experience, was sufficient for all purposes, and the application of the that jurisdiction under the reconstruction acts of 1867 and again in 1875 has produced endless confusion, and is in plain conflict with the Constitution, as it was a reserved right of State Courts after having obtained jurisdiction to retain such until the termination of the suit, which right is now unlawfully denied them. (117 U.S., 241).
3d. A forfeiture of all railroad land grants that were not earned within the time specified in the grant.
4th. An unlimited coinage of silver, and furnishing by the Government alone of the currency of the country. There should be no banks of issue, either State or National.
5th. The furnishing of the people with a postal telegraph system. They are now unmercifully robbed by private corporations doing a business which it is plainly the duty of the Federal Government to undertake. That government was entrusted by the people with the transmission of intelligence. It availed itself of all improvements in such t transmission except telegraphing, and that it has left for corporations to do, unbridled by it with any restrictive legislation as to charges.
6th. The passage of stringent inter-State commerce bill restricting the extortions and discriminations of railroads.
7th. The abrogation of the Suriname treaty.
8th. The speedy and complete improvement of our rivers and harbors in order that the people cam be afforded relief from the onerous exactions imposed upon them by railroad corporations upon the industries of the nation.
And I would suggest in case you see proper to so instruct your Senators that it might not be amiss to ask the co-operation of the other States by the instruction of their Senators for the same necessary measures.
In conclusion, gentlemen of the Legislative Assembly, allow me to express the confident hope that your deliberations during the coming session will be conducive only of the public good. Fortunately, you have no questions of a party character to distract your attention. Let then party feelings interests and ambitions be all forgotten and let men of both parties vie with each other as to which you will render best service to the State. When you enter these halls you no longer represent parties, you are the representatives of the people. Here, in you official action, let you only motive be, to care the interests of all classes; to make no expenditure but what is general in its benefactions; to adjust the burdens of State taxation so that wealth and dishonesty cannot shirk their just share; to be liberal in expenditures of a public character, while withholding any aid whatever form schemes of a purely local or private nature; to secure as far as possible the unsettled portions of the State domain to actual settlers in small quantities; to uncover and punish frauds, if any, upon the State; to avoid all class legislation, and, in short, to set, in you official position, and example worthy of all emulation, of managing the entire affairs of the State with honesty, economy and fidelity. Then you will win the approval both of your own consciences and of the people of this Commonwealth.