Governor William W. Thayer's Administration
Governor's Biennial Message, 1880
Source: Messages and Documents, Biennial Message of Gov. William Thayer to the Legislative Assembly, 1880, Salem, Oregon, W.P. Keady, State Printer, 1880.
Gentlemen of the Legislative Assembly:
You, as the representatives of the people of this commonwealth, and constituting one of the co-ordinate departments of its government, are convened to enact such laws, and perform such duties pertaining to legislation, as are calculated to promote the general welfare.
It is unnecessary for me to state that you are clothed with an important trust; that material interests affecting you constituents are confided to your care; and that these may be advanced and greatly benefited by a wise and faithful discharge of your duty.
The constitution makes it my duty, as Governor, to give you from time to time information touching the condition of the State, and to recommend such measures as I shall judge to be expedient.
In compliance with that obligation, and agreeable to your expression of a readiness to hear any communication I might desire to make to your honorable body, I have chosen this occasion to call your attention, especially, to certain subjects which I deem of public importance:
Receipts during the fiscal years 1879 and 1880:
The revenues of the State derived from the flour mill tax
amounted, in 1878, to………………………….$ 184,961 30
In 1879, to………………………………………186,691 24
Total…………………………………………...$ 370,652 54
From other sources proper, viz:
Penitentiary, care of private insane, sale of stamps,
Sale of State property, trial fees, and
Miscellaneous…………………………………$ 28,321 55
This, together with the proceeds of the four mill tax,
Aggregates to the sum of……………………… 398,974 09
The revenues derived from the three mill tax levied to
Meet the special indebtedness of the State,
Amounted, in 1878, to………………………… 138,720 99
In 1879, to……………………………………139,268 45
Aggregating the sum of………………………$ 377,989 44
Current expenses of the State government for the two fiscal years ending September 13, 1880:
The amount of the current expenses proper, or which
Warrants have been drawn, together with the
Interest on the bonded debt, is……………….$ 332,758 38
Deficiencies on account of inadequacy of
Appropriations……………………………….. 28,002 97
Interest due on Modoc War bonds……………6,200 07
Total…………………………………………$ 366,961 42
The amount of expenses proper, for the two years,
Taken from the amount of revenues for the
Two years, leaves an excess in favor of the
State, of……………………………………$ 32,012 67
If there be added to the above receipts, the amount received from the former Treasurer, and the amount collected on account of delinquent taxes prior to 1878, and to the above expenses, there be added the various appropriations for purposes other than current expenses, it will, as I understand the matter, exhibit the result of the financial transactions of the State for the two fiscal years ending September 13, 1880.
The appropriations for purposes other than current expenses exceed the receipts from the former Treasurer, and on account of he collection of delinquent taxes, by $21,970 20; which, taken from the $32, 012 67, leaves $10,042 47 in favor of the State. This balance will probably be still further reduced in consequence of interest upon warrants not paid promptly on presentation; and may be entirely overcome by items that have escaped my observation.
The revenues from the three mill tax have been applied to the extinguishment of the principal and interest of the special indebtedness of which it was provided. This indebtedness, it will be remembered, arose from an excess of expenditures over appropriations during several years prior to 1876. In the year 1876, in consequence of a decision of the Supreme Court of the State, to the effect that the revenues of a current year should be applied to the expenses of such year, the Legislative Assembly provided a three mill tax to pay off these accumulated excesses.
The principal of that indebtedness, at the close of the fiscal year 1878, was $192,975 62. The various warrants that had been issued on account of it had been for a long time drawing interest. This interest will amount, including the portion thereof which has been paid since the close of the fiscal year 1878, to about $115,000 00. Consequently, the revenue from the three mill tax for 1878 and 1879 will not extinguish the whole debt and interest, but will leave about $30,000 00 thereof unliquidated. The September levy 1880 will, however, not only pay off the balance, but leave the excess of more than $100,000 00; which can be applied to the payment of the general indebtedness of the State, or in other legal purposes. The receipts during the two fiscal years ending September 13, 1880, as will be seen from the foregoing, are sufficient to pay the ordinary expenses of the State government during that period, including interest upon the bonded debt. A large portion thereof, however, was, as has been stated, appropriated for other purposes.
The law in force with reference to the levy of a tax for State purposes, was enacted in 1876. It provided that the annual tax thereafter to be levied to defray the current expenses of the State should be four mills upon the dollar of all taxable property.
Properly, the proceeds of that tax should be applied solely to the purposes specified in the act; and cannot in legal strictness be appropriated to any other purpose. Section 3, of article 9, of the constitution, can, it seems to me, have no other interpretation. Its language is, "And every law imposing a tax shall state distinctly the object of the same, to which only it shall be applied."
This requirement, I am aware, has not always been observed; yet it ought to be. No appropriation should be made of the funds realized from the four mill tax, except to pay the current, (running), expenses of the State government. The funds derived from other sources can undoubtedly be applied to any legitimate purpose. They may be set apart for the benefit of the State University, Agricultural College, or Orphan's Home; or be applied to the finishing of the capitol building; but it found inadequate to answer the demands for necessary appropriations, a tax should be provided especially to raise the required fund.
The act of 1876, providing the three mill tax, with the proceeds of the September levy before referred to, will have accomplished the purpose for which it was enacted; and it should not be repealed, subject to a proviso, that the repealing act shall not affect the said September levy, or the collection and payment to the Treasurer, of the proceeds thereof.
The bonded indebtedness of the State includes the Soldiers' Bounty Bonds, Soldiers' Relief Bonds, Modoc War Bonds, and the bonded debt arising out of the Indian difficulties of 1878. The Soldiers' Bounty Bonds and the Soldiers' Relief Bonds were issued in 1864, in pursuance of two several acts of he Legislative Assembly, passed at that time, and were to run twenty years. A tax of one mill was provided in each act for the redemption of the bonds issued under it. Respective funds were thereby raised, more than sufficient to pay them off. At the close of the fiscal year 1878, according to the Treasurer's report, there was in the Soldiers' Bounty Fund, $30,496 67; and in the Soldier's Relief Fund $27,496 50; while the liability upon the former fund was but $26,400 00; and upon the latter, only $761 00.
The last Legislative Assembly passed an act authorizing the State Treasurer to transfer from the Soldiers' Bounty Fund all money which at that time was in said fund or so much thereof as might be necessary, to pay the mileage, per diem, and expenses of that session of the legislature; and which also authorized and required the Treasurer to transfer from the general fund, when necessary, an amount sufficient to pay the outstanding Soldiers' Bounty Bonds, and interest thereon. I am not informed whether or not this transfer was actually made by the Treasurer. If so made, the amount ought to have been returned from the current expense fund, for the two fiscal years of 1879 and 1880.
The legislature could at most only loan the Soldiers' Bounty Fund to the current expense fund, for a temporary purpose; and it should be restored from the current revenues for the years referred to, as it was applied to defray current expenses for those years.
In any view, the precedent is not a commendable one, as it savors too much of an infraction of the clause in the constitution before set out. At he same session of the legislature, the Treasurer was directed, by another act, to transfer the sum of $25,750 00 from the Soldiers' Relief fund to the State Capitol Building Fund. This transfer was made, but it leaves $1,746 50 in the Soldiers' Relief Fund, which is ample to redeem all the outstanding Soldiers' Relief Bonds.
This latter act might seem to conflict with the letter of the constitution; though I believe that an excess in any fund, even when it has been raised for a specific purpose, can be appropriated for another purpose. I must either be disposed of in that way, or given back to the tax-payers who paid it; which would be quite impracticable, to say the least.
The Modoc War Bonds were issued in pursuance of an act of the Legislative Assembly, approved October 22, 1874. They amount to $132,858 76, and were made payable at the option of the State, on or before the first day of January, 1880, with interest thereon at the rate of seven per cent per annum, payable at the option of the State, on or before the fist day of January, 1880, with interest thereon at the rate of seven per cent per annum, payable semi-annually, on the first of January and July of each year. The interest has been kept paid up until the first day of January last, but the principle sum has matured, and there are no funds applicable to their payment; and the credit of the State is liable to suffer on that account. The debt could, without doubt, be funded again, at the same or a less rate of interest. I would suggest that you adopt some plan at once to meet the emergency. If new bonds have to be issued, they should be issued upon terms of payment similar to the former ones, and a tax provided to redeem them. Whatever measures are adopted for that purpose, should be taken with a view to discharging these claims as speedily as possible.
The excess of the three mill tax, before mentioned, could be applied as soon as realized, towards their payment, and one or two levies of a one mill tax would be sufficient to complete it.
It has been thought that the United States would pay this indebtedness, at least in part; and they ought, in justice, to pay it. The last Legislative Assembly provided for the application towards their payment of all money that the United States should pay into the treasury of the State for and on account of the Modoc War expenses; but thus far it has proved but an idle ceremony. What the future will develop is difficult to devine. In any event, the State has assumed their payment, and the sooner it is accomplished the sooner the State will be relieved from the burden of their constantly accumulating interest.
The indebtedness arising out of the Indian difficulties of 1878 has been audited, in pursuance of the act of the Legislative Assembly approved October 17, 1878, and amounts to about $44,000 00. Bonds have been issued to the claimant, payable at the option of the State, on or before the first day of January, 1890, with interest thereon at the rate of seven per cent per annum, payable semi-annually, on the first days of January and July of each year after the issuance thereof, as in said act provided.
The manner in which these claims have been audited, and the amount allowed, will appear in the report of the Auditing Board designated in the act.
The indebtedness arising out of these claims belongs to the same class as the Modoc War expenses. They were occasioned by depredations of Indians, who, escaping from the control of the United States agents having them in charge, ravaged the settlements. If the Indian tribes that engaged in these hostilities had been independent nations, the State would evidently have no claim to indemnity from the United States. They have had assigned to them a territory to occupy, and have been placed in charge of United States officials, whose duty to the State, as well as to the United States, is to restrain them from marauding, and from plundering and outraging frontier settlers. When they fail to do this, and the State is obliged to call out her citizens to resist such predatory incursions, she is properly entitled to be indemnified for the expense incurred.
Upon every principle of justice and right, these claims should be assumed by the United States government.
The foregoing is all the general bonded indebtedness of the State.
There is a bonded debt, payable to the Willamette Falls Canal and Lock Company, or its assigns, out of the fund arising from the five per centum of the net proceeds of the sale of the public lands of the United States, lying within this State, and the fund arising out of the sale of the five hundred thousand acres of land donated to the State for the purpose of internal improvements.
The act under which these bonds were issued was approved October 21, 1870; and they originally amounted to $200,000 00. They bear interest at the rate of seven per cent per annum, payable semi-annually in gold coin. The time of their payment, as specified in the act, was ten years, or sooner, at the option of the State.
At the close of the fiscal year 1878, there was due upon these bonds, as reported by the State Treasurer, $160, 000 00. Since that time, payments have been made thereon reducing the amount to $151, 500.
There are now outstanding, notes due to the State upon the sale of a part of said lands, amounting to $80, 000 00; and there are approximately 260, 000 acres of the land yet unsold. By a judicious management of these funds, the said bonds can be redeemed. The enterprise to which they were made applicable - the construction of the canal and locks at the Willamette falls, has doubtless proved very advantageous to the people of the State; but the appropriation was premature. It should not have been made until the fund had been realized. The bonds, when issued, were necessarily below par; and were negotiated at a discount of probably twenty per cent - a loss of $40,000 00 at least - and by the time they are redeemed, will have well night exhausted a large, and what might have been, a valuable fund.
Appropriations of that character, from a fund to be realized at some indefinite period in the future, necessarily result in a sacrifice of pecuniary interests. They are similar, in principle, t a sale by an heir of his expectant inheritance. There is no way now to avoid this loss, but it should afford a salutary lesson for the future.
Besides the bonded indebtedness to which I have specifically referred, there is a considerable number of outstanding warrants, payable out of specific funds; generally out of the swamp land fund. They amounted, at the close of the fiscal year 1878, to $136,600 00. By payments since made they have been reduced, as I am informed, to $133,604 00.
Like the lock bonds, they were issued long before any fund was realized from the source from which it was expected to be supplied, and for the promotion of many impracticable schemes, such a are sure to be devised upon the assembling of a legislature; and the usual object of which is to enable parties to appropriate to their own use important interests which were intended for the public benefit.
Neither these warrants or the lock bonds are a general indebtedness against the State. State officials, however, are in duty bound to administer upon the property and funds from which they are expected to be created, properly, and with a view to realizing the full value thereof. The obligation of the State to the holders of these bonds and warrants extends no further than this; though I think that the payment of both from the proceeds of the property pledged for that purpose is assured beyond a doubt. The swamp lands will doubtless be confirmed to the State within a short time, and will afford ample means to discharge these warrants.
I have, perhaps, referred with unnecessary particularly to the various claims against the State. I have been constrained to do so from the fact that I am very anxious to have them liquidated, and desire to secure the co-operation of your honorable body in consummating that end.
I am convinced that a large portion of this indebtedness has been the result of inconsiderate legislation. An attempt to appropriate sums of money, when the State has not the money or my immediate prospect of obtaining it, is, to my mind, a pernicious practice. Any person of ordinary intelligence, by a moment's reflection, will appreciate the extent of the receipts and revenues of the State, from which general appropriations are made, and the condition of the various land grants that have from time to time been pledged to aid in the prosecution of various enterprises. The receipts and revenues referred to are principally derived from the four mill tax, the proceeds of which, under the law by which it is levied, are devoted to the payment of the current expenses of the State. It is comparatively a very small tax, not half as large as is levied in most of the counties for county purposes. It is hardly sufficient to meet the object for which it is levied, yet, whenever the Legislative Assembly convenes, numerous projects are brought forward and zealously urged for a diversion of a portion of this fund to a purpose entirely different. At least that is the practical result of all appropriations chargeable upon this fund, for purposes other than the payment of the ordinary expenses of the State.
I do not desire to have it understood that I am opposed to the appropriation of money for objects beneficial to the State, or that are calculated to promote the welfare of its citizens as a whole. Appropriations of that character may be, and often are, the result of wise legislation; but an appropriation for an object other than the payment of the current expenses of the State should be made either from the funds derived from sources other than the four mill tax, or from a special tax provided for that purpose, which might properly be provided in the act making the appropriation. It is my judgment that the present system of raising revenue by taxation is not in accordance with the spirit of our constitution. That it was never intended by the constitution that an act should be passed providing for a permanent tax to meet the expenses of the State government. Section 2, of article 9, of that instrument, reads as follows: "The Legislative Assembly shall provide for raising revenue sufficient to defray the expenses of the State and for each fiscal year, and also a sufficient sum to pay the interest on the State debt if there be any." And Section 6, same article, is in the following language: "Whenever the expenses of any fiscal year shall exceed the income, the Legislative Assembly shall provide for levying a tax for the ensuing fiscal year, sufficient, with other sources of income, to pay the deficiency as well as the estimated expense of the ensuing fiscal year."
As I interpret these two sections, they intend that the Legislative Assembly, at each session, shall estimate the expenses of the State government for each fiscal year, and provide a tax to pay them. But as the constitution provides for biennial sessions only, it would follow that in order to carry out the provisions of said sections, the Legislative Assembly would necessarily have to estimate the expenses for each of the two fiscal years ensuing, and provide for levying a tax for each. And it renders it impossible to ascertain, whether or not the expenses of the first fiscal year exceed the income of that year, so as to provide for a deficiency, until the close of both fiscal years. The obvious intention of the framers of the constitution was to prevent a public debt of long duration, and if its provisions are observed, no such result can follow. Besides, a permanent tax may be too small to meet the expenses of one fiscal year, and be larger than necessary to defray those of another.
Should these suggestions meet with your views, and you adopt the plan indicated, of providing a tax for each fiscal year to defray the expenses thereof, the act could not well go into effect until the close of the fiscal year 1881, as the four mill tax provided by the law now in force has already been levied, and will probably be sufficient, with the other sources of income, to meet the expenses of one fiscal year. But the expenses of the fiscal year of 1882 could be provided for as before indicated. It would also be necessary, in order to carry out the suggestions upon this point, that the law now in force providing for the levy of the taxes for State, county, and school purposes, be changed so as to have the levy made in November, instead of September, as the legislature will then have adjourned and the amount of State tax provided for ascertained.
The value of all he taxable property in this State, as appears from the returns of the Assessors of the various counties thereof, in 1878, was $46,240,324 57. In 1879 it was $46,422,817 00. This valuation while the amount of indebtedness claimed is astounding. In 1878 there were returned sums of indebtedness claimed by the various taxpayers, which amount to $17,711,786 00; and in 1879, sums which amount to $19,90,878 00 - over seven millions of dollars more than the total assessment of notes, accounts and shares of stock. In 1880 probably a still larger amount has been returned. I am satisfied that a great portion of the indebtedness so claimed is fictitious. The law which permits its deduction from the valuation was doubtless intended as a just measure, and it probably would have proved such if it had not been grossly abused. I urged upon the last Legislative Assembly the necessity of changing it, in order to prevent fraudulent practices, which I knew, and most of the members of that body knew, had been, and were likely again to be resorted to, in order to evade taxation, if the law were continued in force; but on account of some inadvertence, I am inclined to believe it was neglected, and the abuse has increased, and I apprehend ill continue to increase as long as that law remains upon the statute books.
I am convinced that the better plan of taxation would be to allow no indebtedness whatever to be deducted unless, perhaps, in the case of the assessment of notes, accounts and other choses in action, and then only to the extent of their valuation, in any case. I am satisfied that such a system would operate as favorably to procure uniformity of taxation as any that could be adopted.
If the present mode of deducting indebtedness from valuations for the purposes of taxation is, for any reason, allowed to continue, better safeguards against devices and subterfuges to shirk the payment of a due proportion of State expense ought to be provided. The debt sought to be deducted in such cases should be real. It should not be a mere contingent liability. It should be only in favor of the principal debtor, in case there are sureties. In case of joint indebtedness, the several debtors should only be allowed to deduct such a proportion as each debtor bears to the whole number of debtors. And the claimant for a deduction of indebtedness should in all cases be required to specify, under oath, the amount and nature of the debt, and to whom due. There are special subjects of taxation which will claim your attention. Certain kinds of business is being carried on in this State, by foreign corporations and companies, who should contribute to the expenses of the State government. Foreign banks and associations may engage extensively in business in the State, be protected by its laws, resort to its courts to enforce their rights, and yet so manage their affairs as to almost entirely exempt themselves from the payment of any tax. Institutions of that character are permitted to conduct their business in the State through a law of comity which every community of civilized people should readily observe when not prejudicial to its own interests. They should not be oppressed or deprived of their just rights, but they ought to be required, in common with similar institutions of our own, to help bear the burden which the maintenance of government imposes.
Such institutions doing business in the State ought to be assessed upon the moneyed capital thus employed. The amount could be ascertained from the officials having charge of the business, by some suitable proceeding.
The same principle may possibly be extended, in some form, to foreign companies and persons who are conducting other kinds of business in the State through agents and solicitors sent for that purpose. In such cases, a license tax would probably be the most practicable mode to be adopted. In neither of the cases should revenues be exacted through a spirit of oppression or discrimination, but simply as a matter of equity and justice, due to our own citizens and residents. The imposition of taxes in any case is an unpleasant duty. They are burdensome in some instances, and are opposed in others through a spirit of parsimony; but the people, as a whole, are not inclined to object to the levy of taxes, if satisfied that the proceeds will be applied prudently and for the benefit of the entire community. Any other disposition of public funds is an absolute crime.
INTEREST ON STATE AND COUNTY INDEBTEDNESS
The law which allows interest upon State warrants whenever presented to the Treasurer and endorsed "Not paid for want of funds," and the same upon county orders, should be changed. No State or county indebtedness, except bonded indebtedness, ought to draw interest. It imposes an additional burden upon the taxpayers for which they are in no wise responsible; and create confusion in the management of finances. In creating appropriations no correct estimate can be made for interest, and usually none is attempted to be made, on account of it. Besides, it is the fault of the officials that warrants and orders are not paid upon presentation, and they should not be allowed to escape the blame by compelling the people to indemnify the holders of such evidence of indebtedness. It may be claimed that interest should be allowed as a matter of justice, or that it would impair the credit of the State or county to withhold it. If, in such as case, a party were to suffer injury, in consequence of not being promptly paid his debt, there are other ways of compensating him on account of it; but generally, a party who serves the State or county gets better pay than he would under other employers. Private parties are more apt to make close bargains than States or counties are; and as to affecting the credit of the State, I do not believe that any practical difference would ever be observed. Warrants and orders of that character will always be diligently sought after, whether they draw interest or not. It is, beyond question, a loose mode of financiering, and tends to complicate the management of fiscal affairs.
The Penitentiary for nearly two years past has been under the charge of Mr. A. Bush, as Superintendent. The manner in which it has been conducted during that time, and its present condition, with some valuable suggestions concerning it, appear fully in his report to which I respectfully call your attention. It has been my desire to have the affairs of the Penitentiary conducted economically, and upon correct business principles. To have it rendered as remunerative to the State as possible, and to have good order and discipline enforced in its government. The importance of such an institution is unestimable. It could not, in fact, be dispensed with. It is one of the means of deterring crime, and of exercising a restraining influence over evil doers.
In order to administer its affairs successfully, financial skill must be exercised in its management, and the various positions provided in its organization must be filled with competent and efficient officers and employees. A great obstacle in the way of securing suitable functionaries is a tendency to use it to give place to political adherents as reward for party services. A practice of that character is liable to lead to abuse, and to result in the selection of unfit persons for the place. The duties to be performed are such as to require persons of peculiar adaptation, to discharge them properly. Zeal and activity displayed at elections, furnishes no proof of qualifications to fill such positions.
It has not, perhaps, been managed during the continuance of my term of office as well as the people may have desired, yet I have good reason to believe that it has been as well conducted as circumstances would permit. The purchase of supplies has been prudently and economically made. The prisoners have been allowed no superfluities, but plenty of good substantial food, comfortable raiment and quarters, and have been kept employed as much of the time as they possibly could be. Under the faithful management of Mr. W. P. Miller, First Warden, the farm belonging to the prison has yielded a good supply of farm products which have tended much to diminish the cost of the food of the convicts.
The officers and the employees have generally been very faithful in the discharge of their respective duties.
The insane and idiotic have been kept, as formerly, under a contract with Dr. J. C. Hawthorne. The present contract was entered into on the--- day of -------, 1879, in pursuance of an act of the last Legislative Assembly, at the rate of five dollars a week for each patient. The asylum where they are kept has been well managed, and the patients kindly and skillfully treated. Extensive structures have been erected, with suitable and proper fixtures, and well arranged for their accommodation and comfort. The report of the Visiting Physician, to which I respectfully call your attention, will more fully show the plan and arrangement of the buildings, and the general management of the institution. The manner of keeping them by contract with private parties has been criticised to some extent, and a desire manifested on the part of many to have a State Insane Asylum provided speedily. This will eventually have to be done, without doubt, but it is not probable that the patients will be kept any better, or cheaper per capita than they are now, taking into consideration the cost of buildings and fixtures.
The great objection in my mind, to the present system is the lack of proper check upon the power to send persons to they asylum. The jurisdiction of the subject, it is true, is confided to the county courts of the various counties of the State, but it exercise is virtually an ex parte affair, and there seems to be no difficulty whatever in sending off as insane, any person ho is objectionable to the community in which he may happen to be. This may, in part, be the fault of the law, but it results in the creation of a large expense. The present number of patients in the asylum is over two hundred and ninety, and the cost to the State, for keeping them, is more than $75,000 00 annually, besides an immense sum for taking them there.
In my judgment, the right to send persons to the asylum is liable to much abuse, and the law which authorizes it is too general and loose. I believe that a large portion of those sent could as well be cared for at home, either by their friends or the county in which they have a settlement. The cost to the state of taking them to the asylum is, in many cases, a sum sufficiently large to support the patient for a long period. I can see no reason whatever for supporting the idiotic or imbicile in the asylum at the expense of the State. In cases of insanity proper, there may be a necessity for it. The treatment is likely to be more skillful, as the practice is made a specialty; and in violent cases the patients can be kept more securely, and controlled more effectively than they could be if entrusted to private care. A well regulated asylum for the care and treatment of persons who have unfortunately become demented, is a very necessary institution- an institution which every commonwealth should maintain through principles of humanity- but it should be provided for by the authorities of the local civil divisions of the State. Such has been the custom from time out of mind. This subject should receive your prompt attention, and I would recommend the early appointment of a committee to investigate the matter thoroughly with instructions to report the condition of affairs in relation thereto. I do not intend to cast any reflections upon the conduct of the contractor who has charge of the insane and idiotic. I have no doubt but that he discharges his duties faithfully in the premises, but he has no alternative than to receive and treat the patients sent. The fault, if any, comes from other sources. If a remedy can be devised to prevent the sending of parties to the asylum who do not properly belong in such an institution, it out to be invoked at once. The influx to it, if not checked, will result in the absorption of the greater portion of the revenues of the State. It takes nearly half of them now, including the expense of conveying the patients there. The compensation for taking them, and the opportunity it affords to visit a more populous locality, has, I conclude, a considerable influence in multiplying the number of insane patients. The privilege of visiting an important town, and being paid or it, although attended with some annoyance, is liable to be regarded as a favor, especially by those living in remote sections of the State; and it will never be difficult, I apprehend, to have an occasion for it while the right to enquire into the mental condition of persons is so general, and the inducement so great to get rid of those who are unacceptable to the community where they are living. The State is virtually unrepresented in the affair. It can exercise no veto authority, however frivolous the charge of insanity or idiocy may be, but must receive all who are sent, irrespective of their true condition or the motive which induced it. I appreciate that the question as to how the results indicated can be avoided, is not easy of solution. A complicated and expensive system might be resorted to which would probably correct the abuse, but I do not feel willing to recommend such a measure. I believe, however, as before suggested, that none but the insane should be sent to the asylum, and that either the counties from which they are sent should pay the expense of conveying them there, or that before any one is sent, a copy of the proceedings and evidence should be transmitted to some certain State official for approval. That such State official have authority to inquire into the case, and the residence and financial condition of the alleged lunatic; and shall certify that such alleged lunatic is a proper subject to be sent to the asylum, before being taken there at the expense of the State.
The duration of the present contract for keeping the insane and idiotic is six years, subject to proviso that if, at the expiration of four year, the State shall have provided a State Insane Asylum, then the contractor shall turn the patients under his charge over to the State. Nearly two year of that time has now elapsed, and the question as to whether a State Insane Asylum shall be provided, within the four years, so as to receive the patients as the expiration of that time, should be determined and acted upon at this session. Such an undertaking should be preceded by the levy of a tax of a sufficient amount, to justify its prosecution. One levy of a mill tax upon the dollar would raise at least $46,000 00. With that amount of money on hand, or in immediate prospect, the construction of the requisite buildings and fixtures for the insane might properly be commenced. They need not be completed at once. A section of a building could be constructed sufficient to answer present purposes, and the remaining portions built and complete s the money to be paid therefor can be realized from a special tax provided for the purpose. Convict labor could also be employed to advantage in forwarding the work. An undertaking of that character should not be commenced hastily, Steps should be duly and considerately taken to provide the required means before attempting to construct any building. The work cannot be done on credit, or paid for out of any fund which the State now has, but the expenses must be provided for by taxation.
THE MUTE AND BLIND SCHOOL
The Legislative Assembly in 1870, by a joint resolution, adopted at its session in that year, directed the State Board of Education to make such provisions for the instruction of the deaf mutes of the State as, in their opinion, they might deem most condusive to the welfare of that class of persons; provided that the expense thereof should not exceed the sum of two thousand dollars per annum.
The Legislative Assembly, in 1872, by an act passed at its session in that year, appropriated the sum of four thousand dollars, gold coin, to be expended for the education of blind persons of the State; said sum to be expended for said purpose under the direction of the State Board of Education, and full discretion was given to said Board to rent such buildings, employ such teachers, purchase such books, and provide for boarding and lodging the scholars, as they might deem best to carry out the provisions of said act; provided, they should not in any case exceed the said appropriation.
The Legislative Assembly at its session in 1874, passed an act providing for a mute school, and appropriated for its maintenance the sum of ten thousand dollars. By the terms of the act, the State Board of Education was constituted a board of trustees for the education of deaf mute residents of the State, on payment of two hundred and fifty dollars annually, in advance. At the same session, a similar act was passed, providing for a school for the education of the blind which school was designated in the act, "The Oregon Institute for the Blind," and appropriated for its maintenance the sum of four thousand dollars.
The Legislative Assembly, in 1876, passed similar acts, and appropriated, for the education of deaf mutes, twelve thousand dollar; and for the "Oregon Institute for the Blind," eight thousand dollars.
The Legislative Assembly, in 1876, passed similar acts, and appropriated, for the education of deaf mutes, twelve thousand dollars; and for the "Oregon Institute for the Blind," eight thousand dollars.
In 1878, the Legislative Assembly made a general appropriation of ten thousand dollars, with no directions as to its expenditure, except that it was to pay for teacher, and for expenses of mute and blind schools. Under the said resolution and acts, schools were established for these two classes of persons, and were in session when the officials constituting the present Board of Education came into office. The object of the law providing for the education of deaf mutes and the blind was ostensibly to qualify them to earn a living, and prevent them becoming a public charge. The purpose was commendable, and if carried out, would greatly benefit a class of persons who, from misfortune, are deprived of important senses, the loss of which cripples their ability to gain a livelihood. The schools continued in session after the present Board came into authority, until May, 1879. The attendance at the blind school was very small, and a part of those in attendance were middle aged men. That of the deaf mutes did not exceed twenty in regular attendance. The expense of maintaining them was large, requiring a complete outfit sufficient, probably, for a school five times as large; besides, the duty imposed upon the Board of Education, as the schools were organized, was a source of great annoyance, similar in character and much more perplexing than that endured by school district directors. The Board, realizing the embarrassment in which it was placed in regard to the two schools, and believing that they were not affording sufficient benefit to justify the expense incurred in conducting them, determined to continue them no longer, until more satisfactory arrangements could be made for their management; since which time, the school for the blind has not be re-opened. Some time last February, however, arrangements were made with the Rev. P. S. Knight to take charge of and conduct the school for deaf mutes, with an understanding that an association of some character could be formed for the purpose of superintending the education of that class of persons, if the legislature should so provide. In my judgement, both schools should be under an organization similar to that which the government and superintendence of the State University is under, which should have charge of the education of both classes of these persons. In such case, a reasonable appropriation could be made by the State in aid of the enterprise, and the Board of Education be relieved of the duties of trusteeship provided in the law now in force.
Should you think favorably of this suggestion, and pass an act creating a school for the education of the deaf mutes and the blind, and providing a board of directors for its government and superintendence, and for the appointment of its members, a sufficient number of benevolent and competent persons could doubtless be found who would accept the position of directors for is government and superintendence, and for the appointment of its members, a sufficient number of benevolent and competent persons could doubtless be found who would accept the position of directors, and gratuitously discharge the duty imposed. It is unjust to burden the Board of Education with the management of such institutions in detail. It is due the Rev. P. S. Knight that I should say, that while he has been in charge of the school for education of the deaf mutes, it has been well and faithfully managed. His theory in regard to educating them is to give them a practical education, such as will qualify them to earn as honest living; in which I fully concur.
LANDS GRANTED TO THE STATE
By an act of Congress passed March 12, 1860, extending to Oregon and Minnesota the provisions of an act to enable the State of Arkansas, and other States, to reclaim the swamp lands within their limits, all the swamp lands within the State of Oregon, except such as the government of the United States had reserved, sold, or disposed of in pursuance of some law theretofore enacted, were granted to the State. Said act contained a provision to the effect that the selection to be made from lands already surveyed, should be made within two years from the adjournment of the legislature of the State, at its next session after the date of the act; and, as to all lands thereafter to be surveyed, within two years from such adjournment, at the next session after notice by the Secretary of the Interior to the Governor of the State, that the surveys have been completed and confirmed.
The language employed in the act, to express the intention of Congress in reference to the manner of selecting these lands, and by whom they were to be selected, was unfortunately ambiguous.
Nothing seems to have been done with reference to their selection until 1870, when the Legislative Assembly, by an act passed at a session thereof held in that year, attempted to provide for their selection and sale. The Legislative Assembly evidently had no well defined idea as to when or how the selections were to be made; but its members could hardly be chargeable with blame for being ignorant upon that subject, as the manner in which it was to be done was but vaguely defined in the act of Congress referred to.
The clause in said act of 1870 providing for the sale of lands to be selected was an ill advised measure. It is true that the grant of these lands to the State, was a present grant; still the subject to which it is applicable must be ascertained to render it operative. Any attempted sale of them before their identity is established and acknowledged upon the part of the United States, cannot fail to cause confusion and difficulty. The selection of swamp lands, under said grant, necessarily requires the co-operation of the United States and State authority.
Congress has made the grant, which is complete, except the identification of the subject of it, which must be ascertained in some mode recognized by the Land Department of the United States as regular. An attempt on the part of the State, on its own motion, to seggregate, as it has been termed, the swamp lands, especially in advance of the public survey, would not only lead to interminable conflicts, but be an act of great discourtesy. Nothing has been effected within the last two years in reference to obtaining a confirmation of selections of these lands.
I have, however, as Land Commissioner of the State, selected 106,826 56-100 acres f them, and sent the lists thereof, with proof of their swampy character, to the office of the Surveyor General of Oregon, who has as I am informed, passed upon the selections and transmitted them to the office of the Commissioner of the General Land Office for confirmation. These selections, with a great number of others, prepared by my predecessors, and forwarded to the latter office by the Surveyor General, remained in the office last named for a long time unacted upon. The lists of selections and proofs made by myself were made through contractors for surveying the public lands within the State. I chose to employ those persons to make them, believing that it could be done better and more economically in that way than by sending out persons especially for the purpose. The proofs prepared were supposed to be in conformity with the rules of the Commissioner of the General Land Office; but their confirmation having been delayed for a long time, I applied to the department at Washington, at the suggestion of Mr. Tolman, the Surveyor General of Oregon, to appoint an agent or commissioner to view the lands, if necessary, and hear proofs as to their character. In pursuance of that application, the Commissioner of the General Land Office has kindly assented thereto, and has appointed General R. V. Ankeny, agent for the department, with instruction to proceed to the State of Oregon for the purpose of making an examination in the field of the lands claimed by the State under the swamp land grant, which had not been finally decided upon by that office, or the department, and to be governed in his actions in the matter by certain instructions given him, and rules and regulations adopted by the department- with direction to confer with the State authorities of Oregon, and if they should decide to appoint an agent also, to co-operate with him in ascertaining what lands enure to the State, and agree upon some plan of operations.
General Ankeny, in pursuance of such appointment, came to the State to engage in the discharge of his duties under it. Under the circumstances of the affair, I felt constrained (though laboring under doubt as to my authority to do so,) to appoint an agent to co-operate with him, as signified in his instructions, but as yet I have, unfortunately, not been able to secure the services of a suitable person to fill the position. I trust, however, that I may soon succeed in doing so and that the joint agents so selected will proceed to the field of operations and engage in the examination of the lands, and in taking proof of their character, and that a considerable quantity of the swamp lands of Oregon will very soon be confirmed to the State. It is very important, in the present condition of affairs concerning these lands, that selections be made as fast as the surveys are extended over the public domain. The law now in force with reference to the selection of swamp lands authorized me to appoint an agent to select all lands donated to this State by the United States, who shall receive as a compensation for such service a sum not exceeding three cents per acre - provided, he shall no receive a greater sum than fifteen hundred dollars per year for such services - for all lands actually selected by such agent and confirmed by the State. No appropriation was made, however, from any fund to pay for making selections.
It could probably have been legitimately made from the proceeds of the sales of swamp lands, if any sales had been made, but none of them have been in a condition to sell, and will not be until the title is confirmed to the State. The contracts I have made with parties relative to the selection of swamp lands contain a stipulation that they shall be paid from appropriations to be made by the Legislative Assembly. It would be the better way if the expenses of locating and selecting these lands could be paid from money realized from a sale of them, but, from present indications, their payment on that plan would be delayed longer than parties who perform the services can afford to wait. Especially so, if the work is pushed forward as vigorously as it should be. How to provide for the exigency will greatly tax you wisdom and ingenuity. As to myself, I acknowledge that I am at a loss what to recommend.
I feel a great anxiety to have the swamp lands confirmed to the State. They cannot be disposed of until that is accomplished. They are pledged for the payment of a large interest bearing debt, which ought to be discharged, and the status of the title to them is such that it prevents their settlement, and creates a cloud upon the title of a large amount of lands that in fact are not swamp lands. Besides, when these lands are secured to the State, they can probably be sold for a sum that will add materially to its finances, in addition to paying off the debts for which they are pledged. The cost of selecting them, including that which has been incurred during the past two years, will amount at the close of the fiscal year 182, under the law now in force, to $6,000 00. Add to that the expense of employing the agent to co-operate with General Ankeny, and of extra selections that should be made, and it will amount to double that sum. Twelve thousand dollars, at least, should be provided in some manner to meet this cost and expense.
I am certain that the law in force authorizing the sale of swamp lands ought to be changed in some of its features. That the State Board, charged with that duty, should be vested with discretionary power as to the amount of lands to be sold to a purchaser, and that some of the qualifications affecting persons desirous of purchasing should be removed.
I am aware that it would be much better for the country, if these lands could be reclaimed, so as to make them arable, to sell them in comparatively small quantities and to actual setters; but I doubt very much if that can be accomplished. The State cannot afford to undertake it. Besides they are charged with the payment of large sums of money, which are constantly increasing, on account of interest, and the longer it continues, the greater the amount of the lands which will be consumed in extinguishing it.
Under the circumstances, I am confident that it would be much better for the State, as soon as it can be settled as to what are swamp and overflowed lands, within the meaning of the grant, to dispose of its interest, in them to any person who is willing to buy it, and in quantities to suit the purchaser. A swamp usually includes a large body of land, and it is exceeding doubtful if any purchaser could be found who would be willing to buy a subdivision of a section, it might be well to entertain it. The propriety of selling large or small quantities depends so much upon the circumstances of each particular case, that it should be left to the discretion, to a great extent, of the Board.
The law now in force with reference to the sale of this character of lands seems to contemplate the present payment of the purchase price in full. I am of the opinion that they could be sold more readily, and upon better terms, by giving a reasonable credit upon a part of the purchase price. A portion of it, sufficient to insure the sale, should be exacted at the time it is made, and the deferred payments bear interest at a reasonable rate.
Should you see fit to adopt the foregoing suggestions in reference to the sale of swamp lands and terms of payment of the purchase price thereof, it would be necessary to amend sections 4, 5 and 8 of the act entitled "an act for the selection, locations and sale of State lands, etc.," approved October 18, 1878, and I would recommend that section 1 of said act be amended so as to empower the land commissioner therein named to appoint an agent to aid in the location of swamp lands, and that his compensation be fixed at some reasonable amount. Also, that section 33 of said act be amended by substituting the word "agents" for "agent," in first line of said section, and by either leaving out the proviso therein entirely, or enlarging the limitation. The interest of the State is liable to suffer materially if the limitation mentioned is allowed to remain a part of the statute.
The authority to appoint an agent to aid in the location of swamp lands is, in the present condition of affairs, very necessary, not only to locate and secure the confirmation of such lands as belong to the State under the grant, but also to ascertain what lands included in its terms have been disposed of by the United States since its date, with a view of claiming indemnity therefor. Such a claim is just, and it is the settled policy of the United States, as I am advised, to allow a State the government price for the lands granted to it, which have been sold by the general government subsequent to the grant.
OTHER LANDS GRANTED TO THE STATE
The grants of lands to the State which were to be selected include the seventy-two sections set apart and reserved for the use of a State University. Ten entire sections for the purpose of completing public buildings r for the erection of others, etc. The salt springs, to the extent of twelve in number, with six sections of land adjoining. The ninety thousand acres secured to the State under the act of Congress of July 2, 1862, donating public lands to the several States and Territories which might provide colleges for the benefit of agriculture and the mechanic arts, and the five hundred thousand acres secured under the act of Congress of September 4, 1841, for the purpose of internal improvements.
STATE UNIVERSITY GRANT
The lands included in the grant for he use of a State University have all been selected, except some two or three hundred acres, and have all been approved by the department of the United States, except about eight hundred acres. About seventeen thousand acres of the lands secured to the State under this grant remain unsold. The proceeds of the sales, including accumulations of interest during the ten years after the adoption of the constitution, which are considered available, amount to about $57,000 00, not including certain parcels of real property that have been bid in by the Board of Commissioners on foreclosure of mortgages given to secure loans of the funds. These are probably worth $3,000 00. There has been distributed of accumulated interest collected since September 9, 1878, by payment to the State University, the sum of $10,205 00. Heretofore, the interest has not been collected and paid promptly, and the fund has suffered material loss in consequence of the inadequacy of the security on some of the loans. This has caused considerable complaint, and created serious doubts as to the efficiency of the present mode of managing the fund. The President of the Board of Regents, Hon. M. P. Deady, in his report bearing date December 31, 1879, to which I respectfully act so as to provide that any installment of interest in arrear shall bear interest until paid, at the same rate as the principle, that such a provision would promote the prompt payment of interest, and at least secure compensation for the illegal delay. He further says in the report that it is to be considered whether this fund cannot be placed where it will be better cared for, and the interest more punctually paid than now. That the experience of the past has demonstrated the fact that it is folly expect the Board of Commissioners to attend to the fund as it ought to be done, in addition to their other duties, for the meager compensation allowed them. That to expect a Treasurer of State to collect the interest promptly on $40,000, distributed over the country in forty different loans, in addition to his other duties, at the risk, too, of offending the borrower and incurring his opposition at the next election, on an annual salary of $800 00 is expecting too much of the average man. And as a practical remedy, he suggests that the funds, as fast as collected, be loaned to the State. Have the board authorized to loan the fund to the State as fast as it accumulates, and it can be used to retire a like amount of outstanding indebtedness.
These suggestions and reasons coming from the source they do, are calculated to impress you with their importance. The borrower who fails to pay his interest promptly when the loan is from a fund of this character, could not complain in having to pay interest upon interest that has matured; and such a provision in the law would, I have no doubt, be a strong incentive to the payment of interest as it became due. The only danger I could apprehend from such a requirement would be the difficulty it would tend to create in loaning the fun. Money in Oregon does not at present readily command even ten per cent interest upon large sums and long time. The borrower, if a responsible and reasonable prudent person, is inclined to effect a loan upon the most favorable terms to himself, and will ordinarily, in order to secure these, apply to the party and at the place where it can be obtained with the least inconvenience and risk. The fact is that moneyed men in Oregon to-day have to seek the borrower in order to make permanent loans of large sums instead of being anxiously sought after and importuned to assent to it. It has become a transaction between parties upon an equality of footing much more than formerly; and the terms upon which loans are made are constantly becoming more liberal. Any requirements, therefore, beyond the exaction of a reasonable rate per cent and ample security might, I fear, be an obstacle in the way of effecting loans of the fund; which are unproductive, of course, unless invested in some form. The loan of it to the State as suggested would secure the regular payment of the interest, but I can hardly imagine how the plane proposed could be carried out. There is practically no indebtedness against the State except the Modoc War Bonds and the bonds issued in payment of the expenses of the Indian difficulties of 1878, unless it be the special indebtedness included in the Road Warrants and Lock Bonds which the State would not be justified in assuming.
The general bonded indebtedness draws but seven per cent per annum. With prudent management, I believe the university fund, under the present system, would realize between nine and ten per cent per annum, and losses be almost entirely avoided. I do not know of any reason under the regulations provided in the act of 1876, for the loan of the fund, why the Board of Commissioners should not manage it as well as banking institutions do their funds. I am not prepared to admit that a meagre compensation is any excuse for negligence in office, or that high salaries insure extra services. I am satisfied that the Treasurer of the State has attended faithfully to the collection of the interest, and while it ma not always have been paid as promptly as desired, or as it should have been, yet as promptly as debts are usually collected in business transactions. I submit these views through no spirit of opposition to the suggestions of the honorable President of the Board of Regents. I appreciate the reasonableness of his suggestions, and the good faith in which you they were made; and I shall be satisfied with any action you may take in the matter, but feel it my duty to present any objections to these plans that may occur to me.
The faithful management and preservation of the fund is very important to the community at large, not so much because of its intrinsic value, as the fostering it affords to an institution, the prosperity of which will be the pride and luster of the State.
GRANT FOR THE COMPLETION OF PUBLIC BUILDINGS, SALT SPRINGS GRANT, AGRICULTURAL COLLEGE GRANT, AND GRANT FOR INTERNAL IMPROVEMENTS
The ten sections granted for the purpose of completing public buildings, etc., have been selected and approved to the State and have all been sold, except a few small tracts, and these are claimed and in course of final disposition.
The terms of the grant of the salt springs required that they should be selected within one year after the admission of the State. No such selection having been made, the grant being in futuro, has undoubtedly lapsed.
The 90, 000 acres of land granted under the act of congress of July 2, 1862, known as the agricultural college grant, have all been selected except one hundred and forty-three 87-100 acres. There have been sold of these lands, twenty-three thousand acres, leaving sixty thousand acres thereof unsold. The proceeds of the sales amount to $50, 000 00. No interest was distributed until after the act of the Legislative Assembly approved October 21, 1878, amending section 3 of an act for the further organization of the agricultural college, went into effect. Since that time, $7,800 00 interest money has been paid to the college. The fund is in a flourishing condition, and will be greatly augmented when the balance of the lands granted are sold. The college, to the benefit of which it is devoted, is advancing in importance, and stands among the first of our institutions of learning.
The lands embraced in the grant under the act of congress of September 4, 1841, known as the five hundred thousand acre grant for internal improvements, have all been selected, and about two hundred and forty thousand acres thereof sold. The Register of the La Grande Land District, as it is termed, has had charge of the selling of them, and has received and had the custody of the securities given upon such sales.
Whatever benefits the La Grande land office may have conferred upon the State in the past, it is evident that it is at present an unnecessary institution; that its functions are fulfilled and it should be abolished. The sales of land within that district and management of the funds arising therefrom, can be conducted by the Board of Commissioners for the sale of school and university lands as well without any intervening agency of that character, and with far less expense to the State.
Laws providing for the payment of the expenditures of the State government should be specific in their terms. Appropriation bills are often too general. The Legislative Assembly has the undoubted right to designate the particular purpose to which the funds of the State shall be applied, and to limit the amount to the item of service rendered, article furnished, or expenditure incurred; and in some cases it becomes necessary that it should do so, particularly when there is no general law regulating the subject. An appropriation of a sum of money in gross for a general object, and the manner of applying it not being specifically pointed out, causes great embarrassment to the auditing officer. The appropriation of $2,000 00 made by the last Legislative Assembly for the support of non-resident poor in the several counties furnishes an illustration of the kind of appropriations referred to. It is true there is a general law providing that when any person shall become a public charge, who is not a resident of the State, the county court of the county wherin such person becomes such public charge shall provide for such person and the expense thus incurred shall be refunded to said county by the State; and a bill of such expenses, approved by the County Judge and attested by the County Clerk with the seal of the county court thereon, with satisfactory proof that said pauper is a non-resident of the State and not chargeable to any county therein, shall be forwarded to the Secretary of State who shall audit and allow the same and draw a warrant on the State Treasurer in favor of said county for the amount due, and said Treasurer shall pay such warrant out of any money of the State treasury not otherwise appropriated. But his law does not specify how such county court shall provide for such pauper, nor limit the expense of the provision. In that character of cases, food is the article usually required, and the only relief the State ought to furnish; but to what extent it shall be supplied or at what cost is not mentioned. One county may provide it at the rate of three dollars per week, another at the rate of three dollars per day, and the Secretary have no alternative but to allow the claim of each to its full extent. If an appropriation is to be made for the support of non-resident poor, which I very much doubt the policy of, it should either be appropriated among the several counties so that no one of them will get the whole of it, or the price of board chargeable to the State be fixed and rendered uniform throughout all the counties.
The appropriation of $3,000 for the Children's Aid Society is still more general. The manner of is expenditure is wholly unprovided for, and no obligation is imposed on any one to apply it to any particular purpose; besides being an appropriation to one object of funds which have been realized from a tax levied in pursuance of a law that stated an entirely different object of the tax. The same may be said of the appropriations for the State University and Agricultural College.
Appropriations for arresting fugitives from justice ought to contain a provision authorizing the Governor, in granting a requisition, to limit the expense of the agent to demand the fugitive in any case, to a sum certain, or, if he should deem proper, issue it upon the condition that no expense be paid by the State. An amendment of the law governing the proceedings in relation to fugitives from justice by inserting a provision of that character would have the same effect, and would be very beneficial to the interests of the State. Public justice may demand in many cases private parties are more interested in the issuance of a requisition has to be granted where there are grounds for believing that it ought to be denied on account of the amount of expense that will be incurred by the State in consequence of granting it; but it is doubtful whether the Governor has the right, in any case, to refuse such an application when regularly made, although the language of the statute upon that subject is in terms permissive. Conceding, however, that he has the right to refuse the application, yet he is many times placed in an embarrassing situation in having to assume a responsibility without being certain whether or not he has the right. The authority to impose the expense, or a material part of it upon the applicant, would serve as a wholesome check in such cases and save the State a large expense.
Certain of the appropriations made by the last Legislative Assembly to pay current expenses of the State government arising from some of the particular sources of expenditure, have not been exhausted. The excess in such cases is subject to reappropriation. The reappropriations, which you deem proper to provide for the payment of.
The salary of the Superintendent of the Penitentiary, amounting to $3,300.00, has not been drawn since the first day of November, 1878, and, as I am informed, will not be. Neither will the $400.00 appropriated as the salary of Prison Inspector. The right of the superintendent to his salary is unquestionable. But there is a question, in my mind, as to the right of the Governor to receive pay as Prison Inspector. It has, however, been done in the past I believe, and perhaps legitimately. At least, I attach no wrong or impropriety to any of my predecessors who have seen fit to receive it. I am, however, inclined to the view that the duties of the Governor as specified in the constitution, and his salary as fixed by that instrument, cannot be increased or diminished by legislative enactment; and as this is a fixed opinion of mine I recommend that the said $400.00 be reappropriated, and that no other appropriation of hat character be made, at least during my term of office.
REPRIEVES, COMMUTATIONS AND PARDONS
The constitution and laws of the State require the Governor to report to the Legislative Assembly each case of reprieve, commutation, and pardon granted by him, and the reason for granting the same; also, the names of all persons in whose favor remissions of fines and forfeitures shall have been made, and the several amounts remitted. In obedience to that requirement I submit at this time my report upon this subject.
The number of commutations, as you will observe from the report, is large-probably much larger than has ever been granted in this State during the same length of time. There are two reasons for this. The one is, that there has been a greater number of convicts in the penitentiary during the time referred to than at any prior period of like duration. The other is, that in nearly all cases where convicts have been discharged before the expiration of the time specified in their sentence, a commutation has been granted; while formerly, a practice prevailed of remitting a portion of the sentence; or, as it was termed, allowing extra time in favor of a party on account of some extra service, and discharging him without granting any commutation or pardon; but the same as if he had served the full time, subject to the remission for merits as provided by statute. This resulted in allowing more credit for merit than the statute authorized. I have no desire to criticise the practice referred to of allowing extra time to convicts for some extra labor or meritorious services beyond that which they may entitle themselves to under the rule laid down in the statute. I have adopted the practice myself, but have not authorized the discharge of the convict in such cases without a formal commutation, or pardon if I believe him entitled to a pardon. You will notice that in a great majority of the cases of commutations, the convicts have served nearly all the time specified in their sentence. The object of granting the commutation in such cases has been to render the discharge legal. The fact; however, has frequently been commented upon by parties with as much apparent seriousness as if there had been an important exercise of the pardoning power.
The framers of the constitution very wisely and properly vested in the Governor the pardoning power. No other branch of the government could have exercised it as well. The judiciary could not, as it necessarily would be controlled in its action by general rules, both in the admission of testimony and its decisions. A Legislative Assembly would evidently be a very unfit body to exercise such a prerogative. All governmental institutions are but human inventions, and at their best are very imperfect however much they may benefit mankind. Depriving a human being of life or liberty as a penalty for the transgression of the law, is an assumption upon the part of a commonwealth of high authority, and it can only be justified upon the ground that the safety of the public demands it. The execution of the offender, or his continued detention, insures an immunity from his further depredations. His reformation would have the same result, though that is not likely to be effected except through the influence of punishment. The most important aim in the infliction of punishment, however, is to afford a salutary example to those who are not restrained by moral sentiments or through moral influence. To determine, then, what is undign punishment in a particular case, the security of the public from the acts of the particular offender, and the beneficial influence it will have upon those who are prone to evil, must be considered. The legislature, in prescribing the vindicatory part of a penal act, has in view of a general class of offenders only, and great latitude is usually given to the courts in administering it; though some of our penal statutes are very much restricted. Among these may be included the provision of the criminal code which makes it a felony to steal an article in a building, without regard to the value of the article, or the kind or condition of the building. Another is the provision which makes it a felony to steal any of the equine or bovine species without any alternative, and without any regard to the value of the animal.
The judge who pronounces the sentence of the law upon the offenders has a better opportunity to know what amount of punishment should be inflicted, as h has heard the testimony in their case and been able to observe the surroundings. But the evidence adduced is admitted under rules that are general and often arbitrary; besides he may be impulsive, and have been unconsciously prejudiced, and he certainly does not know the effect the punishment he imposes will have upon the culprit, or its influence upon the public. Nor can he know the many little circumstances surrounding the transaction which have influenced the perpetration of the offence, and over which the offender had no control.
Whoever it can be ascertained that punishment has fulfilled the purpose for which it was intended, or has accomplished all it is capable of accomplishing in a particular case, its continuance becomes vindictive.
By close inspection of the conduct of convicts and an inquiry into their history, many facts may be elicited which in some cases tend to extenuate their transgressions. Many of them, however, naturally belong in a prison. They are vicious and unfit to be at large. Many others owe their condition more to misfortune than to depravity. It has been my policy, thus far, to hold them to a rigid discipline while in prison, and to release them as soon as consistent with public safety and justice. I have doubtless made mistakes in the exercise of the pardoning power, but in every case I have exercised it conscientiously, and with a view to benefit the prisoner and the State; and in nearly all the cases, so far as I have been able to learn, those who have been released have since conducted themselves properly. The duty which the authority imposes is not a pleasant one. It would be much more agreeable to a Governor to shirk its responsibility entirely by refusing to interfere in any case, but it would be very unjust to adopt such a course.
The law requires, also, that when the Governor grants a reprieve, commutation, or pardon or remits a fine or forfeiture, he must within ten days thereafter file all the papers presented to him in relation thereto in the office of the Secretary of State, by whom they must be kept as public records open to public inspection. You will find the papers relating to the cases reported, on fine in accordance with the law and subject to your examination.
There are many other subjects that will require your consideration during the session of your body, but I will not weary you any further than to call your attention to certain special matters which are likely to come before you. I have referred already to the employment of parties to select swamp lands, to be paid therfor from appropriations to be made by the Legislative Assembly. The parties referred to are H. C. Perkins and W. H. Byars. The terms of employment and amount of services performed will be presented in due time to such committee as you may appoint to consider the matter. There will be other claims of like character which should also be referred to a committee for investigation. Among these are claims in favor of P. L. Willis, Esq., for services in examining the books and papers of the State Land Department, indexing them, and examining the lists of selections of swamp lands in the Surveyor General's office, and obtaining proof of their swampy character. In favor of John Mullan, Esq., of Washington City, D. C., for services in securing confirmation of title to lands in favor of the State, and for legal services in cases in which the State was a party before the Department at Washington. In favor of Hon. B. F. Bonham, for legal services in the case of the State vs. Samuel E. May and sureties, upon sale on execution of certain real property bid in by the State. In favor of Messrs. John M. Thompson, A. C. Gibbs, and W. H. Holmes for legal services in cases of the state against the late Board of Commissioners and certain other parties. These various claims, and others, perhaps, arising out of the services appertaining thereto, were incurred in pursuance of engagements entered into by myself with the several parties, with the understanding that the Legislative Assembly would adjust them. As to their necessity and merit you will, of course, be the judges. The benefit of the State and the protection of its interests were the sole motives on my part of inducing their performance, and I trust and expect no less than a due consideration of the several matters and an honest and upright adjustment of them. Your duties generally will be found to be complicated, and it will require assidious labor on your part to perform them to the satisfaction of your constituents, or yourselves. Your session will necessarily be very brief. The constitution allows you compensation for forty days only, and that, I believe, has always heretofore effectually circumscribed the duration of a legislative term I this State; but by industry and energy combined with practical views and common sense ideas, you will be enabled even in that short space of time t accomplish a vast amount of benefit to the public. Every measure that comes before you, should be duly considered before being acted upon, and schemes and devices of every nature which are only calculated to benefit the few at the expense of the many, should be promptly discarded.
You may differ widely in your politics, in your opinions regarding questions of political economy, and in your theories of government, but when an attempt at legislative jobbery is sought to be carried out, you should with one accord rebuke it most emphatically. A legislative body is many times, unfortunately, surrounded by a class of unscrupulous schemers, attended by a retinue of hired lobbyists, as they are termed, ready to filch from the public treasury under any specious pretence they can invent. I do not wish to disparage any one's efforts in securing the adoption of measures which they honestly believe will benefit the State, or in opposing reckless legislation calculated to effect their vested rights. They are at full liberty to employ all the means in their power for such purposes, but jobbers of every description, and professional lobbyists, who hand around legislative halls to secure employment for compensation, to further private gains, are vampires upon the body politic, and deserve unconditional ostracism. The touchstone to be applied to every legislative measure proposed should be, whether or not, if adopted, it will prove a substantial benefit to the State. In the consideration of its merits it should be closely scrutinized in all its various features, and if it be found that a prospect of large gains and profits in favor of private parties is lurking under cover of its provisions, that should awake a suspicion as to its justness and expediency. And if, by a retrospective view of past legislation it should be ascertained that acts have been passed, the practical operation and effect of which tended more to the promotion of individual interest than to public advantage, they should at once be amended or changed so as to remedy the mischief as effectually as it is in the power of the legislature to do so.
In conclusion, I desire to assure you that in every effort upon your part to advance by honest and wholesome enactments, the interests of the State, to promote its prosperity and welfare, and to lessen the burdens upon the people which the expense of government imposes, you will find in me a faithful ally and supporter.
It must be remembered that our State is but in its infancy. That its population is small, and its material wealth is very limited. That notwithstanding it embraces within its boundaries a large area of territory, which includes extensive districts of productive lands, valuable mines of coal, iron, and precious metals, vast quantities of timber, broad rivers, innumerable bays, harbors, and inlets, abounding in fish of the choicest kind sufficient to supply the markets of the world, yet its resources are comparatively undeveloped. And that while it possesses all the elements of grandeur and magnificence, its greatness can not be successfully achieved without the benefit of a well regulated government, whose foundation is laid upon the broad principles of honesty, economy, and justice. That a spirit of extravagance and recklessness indulged in by those who are chosen to administer its affairs during its incipiency, will necessarily result in retarding its growth and blighting its promising prospects.
If we would promote its welfare we must avoid the encactment of laws calculated to impose grevious burdens upon its citizens, or that will operate unjustly against them, and watch diligently its interests with zealous care and filial devotion. The destiny of the commonwealth is in a great measure committed to the charge of its representatives; and a faithful adherence upon their part to the sentiments of true patriotism will secure to themselves and their posterity a sound and salutary government, which is of more value and importance than the acquisition of wealth or the distinctions of office.