Governor William W. Thayer's Administration
Governor's Biennial Message, 1882
Source: Messages and Documents, Biennial Message of Gov. William Thayer to the Legislative Assembly, 1882, Salem, Oregon, W.H. Odell, State Printer, 1882.
Gentlemen of the Legislative Assembly:
You are convened in general session to discharge a great and important duty enjoined upon you by the constitution and laws of your State.
The people of this commonwealth have committed to your charge for a period of time, one of the co-ordinate branches of their government. They have invested you with the power of prescribing rules of civil conduct, to which all must yield due obedience, and which, if wisely devised, will tend to promote their general welfare. You are clothed with authority that is supreme in its nature, in civil relations, and you have taken upon yourselves a solemn obligation that you will exercise it for the best interests of those you represent. And I would add, without intending any disparagement of your appreciation of the duties of your high office, that the honor and dignity of the State demand that you discharge your sacred trust in accordance with that oath which has been administered to you severally, and deposited in the archives of this assembly.
Your session will doubtless be brief. It will not be likely to extend beyond the forty days for which, by the provisions of the constitution, you are entitled to receive compensation, and I would most respectfully suggest that it behooves you to employ the entire time in considering and acting upon those measures only, which are calculated to benefit the community at large; and that if you devote any part of it to trifling matters, it will necessarily result in a neglect of public interests, and in a wanton waste of public funds.
The position that Oregon will occupy in the bright constellation of States that compose our Union, depends very much upon the conduct of those who may constitute this body. It may be made a glorious commonwealth. It may have salutary laws and enforce their execution; have its finances in a sound and healthy condition; be free from debt; its people be in the enjoyment of full immunity from oppressive taxation; its securities be at a premium; its institutions flourishing; its public buildings adequate to the public necessities and requirements; and its funds ample to afford aid in developing its resources; or it may present phases of a directly opposite character. A prudent course on the part of its Legislative Assembly will do much towards insuring its prosperity.
The suggestion of these views may appear presumptuous on my part, especially as my term of office will close with this communication, and in all probability, will be the last official duty in civil affairs I shall ever be called upon to perform; but I would be wanting in patriotism and ungrateful to the people who conferred upon me the distinguished honor of being Governor of the State, if I were to neglect to call your attention to any matter that might be of advantage to the public wealth.
It has been my desire during the time I have been in office, to have the affairs of the State managed economically. I believed when I entered upon my term, that the general sentiment of the people was opposed to extravagance in any department of the government; ad I have had no reason since to change that belief.
The objection to profligacy in civil affairs is not so much in consequence of the particular loss that will be suffered from recklessness, as from the general evil effects it will produce. Its tendency is corrupt and it naturally leads to all manner of abuses in the civil service, It is highly pernicious in many respects, and will unavoidably destroy any government in which it is tolerated. A people who duly appreciate the blessings of civil liberty, will condemn the practice wherever it is found to exist.
In my general message to the Legislative Assembly two years ago I gave a brief statement of the current receipts and expenditures of the State, for the two preceding fiscal years, and I now submit one for the years 1881 and 1882. The various items of this expense are set forth in the report of the Honorable Secretary of State, and should be closely scrutinized; and if any part of them is found to have been improperly incurred, the matter should be brought to public notice. State officials should be held accountable for mismanagement of public funds, and their acts should be subject always to fair and honest criticism.
From the four mill tax, 1881…………………………………$193,932 61
From the four mill tax, 1882………………………………… 237,030 91
From the earnings of Penitentiary…………………………… 11,054 25
From delinquent taxes……………………………………….. 1,683 79
From private insane…………………………………………. 2,716 07
From sale of stamps………………………………………… 4,651 59
From sale of books………………………………………….. 346 15
Miscellaneous sources………………………………………. 803 50
This, with balance on hand Sept. 1, 1880…………………… 57,794 26
Amounts to a total of………………………………………..$510,013 13
At the close of the fiscal years 1879 and 1880, there were certain deficiencies in the appropriations of 1878 amounting to $31,957 86. These were provided for by appropriations made by the Legislative Assembly in 1880. Besides, there were existing claims payable out of the said $57,794 26, which, with the amount of said appropriations, would consume nearly all the above specified sum. Hence, the revenues and receipts for the said year 1881 and 1882, before mentioned, were in fact, nearly all the resources the State had, with which to defray the current expenses for those years.
CURRENT EXPENSE FOR THE YEARS 1881 AND 1882
The current expenses during the fiscal years 1881 and 1882, including the appropriations and claims above referred to; also relief to Mrs. Stinson, the Paris Exposition, and Jackson county, and the sums appropriated for the State University, Mute School, and Orphans' Home, and all excess of expenses above appropriations, amount to about $400,000.
This expense includes deficiencies in the appropriations made in 1880, but not the excess unexpended in any of the appropriations of that year. That is, it includes the actual current expenses incurred by the State during those two years, and the relief measures, and the appropriations to the University, Mute School and Orphans' Home before mentioned.
The result is that there remains a balance belonging to the State amounting to about the sum of $110,000, over and above all expenses and legitimate claims, for he two years named; and which can be devoted to any proper use that you may deem advisable. I believe that it is the largest sum that has ever been left unexpended of the current revenues since the State Government was organized and it should be wisely applied to the interest and advantage of the State.
My reasons for saying that it can be devoted to any proper purpose are these: It is a part of a fund which, in the main, was raised for a specific purpose, namely, to defray the current expenses of the State for the two years named. This is the effect, as I understand, of the decision of our Supreme Court in Simon vs. Brown, 5 Oregon, 285.
The fund has accomplished its object, and the said balance is an excess not required for that purpose; though I can never believe that the system of raising revenue to meet the current expenses which we have fallen into, is in accordance with the provisions of the constitution of the State.
I do not think that it was intended by that instrument to provide a fixed tax for an indefinite length of time, with which to defray those expenses. No iron bedstead affair of that character was contemplated; but, on the contrary, a simple mode calculated to prevent a large excess or deficit of revenues, and which would necessarily prevent indebtedness from accumulating. It requires the Legislative Assembly to provide at each session a list of the probable expenses for each of the biennial years - specifying the objects - and to levy a tax sufficient to defray the estimated amount - a similar mode to that pursued by the County Courts of the State. If, at the end of the two years, there should be found a deficit of revenues, it should be included in the next list; if an excess, it could be considered as so much on hand, and lessen the next tax proportionately.
This mode is clearly indicated in the constitution, (see Section 2 and 6 of Article 9 thereof) and why it has not been followed is past my comprehension. I have brought it to the attention of the Legislative Assembly at each of the two preceding sessions, but for some reason I do not understand, it has not been acted upon.
There is one point that Legislative Assemblies should keep in view, whatever the mode of raising revenue may be, and that is, that a sufficient amount of funds should at all times be in the Treasury to pay any warrant that is legally issued.
A refusal to pay a warrant on due presentation, in consequence of a lack of funds, is a reflection upon the credit of the State, and proof of official mismanagement. No business man could afford to have his paper protested, and a commonwealth should never be in a condition to be completed to dishonor its drafts. It impairs its dignity and humiliates its citizens.
GENERAL BONDED INDEBTEDNESS
The general bonded indebtedness of the State includes the soldiers' bounty bonds, the soldiers' relief bonds, the bonded debt arising out of the Indian difficulties of 1878, known as the Umatilla Indian war, and the boned debt created by the act approved October 25th, 1880, to complete the payment of the Modoc war bonds.
The soldiers' bounty bonds and soldiers' relief bonds are in the same condition they were at the close of the fiscal year 1880, except that the time when the State will be entitled to redeem them, in accordance with the terms upon which they were issued, is so much nearer at hand, though it continues two years yet. The requisite funds have for a long time been in the Treasury, with which to pay them off, but the holders could not be compelled to receive payment, and, as it appears, preferred to retain them as an investment.
The bonded debt arising out of the Umatilla Indian War is yet outstanding, except so far as it has been affected under the provisions of said act approved October 25th, 1880, entitled, "an act to refund the war debt and maintain the public credit, and appropriate money and levy a tax therefor."
At the last mentioned date there was outstanding a bonded indebtedness known as "the Modoc War Bonds" which amounted to $132,858.72 with certain accrued interest thereon. By the provisions of said last mentioned act the State Treasurer was authorized to sell the bonds of the State of Oregon to such an amount as, with the surplus moneys not otherwise appropriated, which had or might accrue from the three mill tax levied pursuant to an act to provide for a tax to defray the current expenses of the State, and to pay the indebtedness thereof, approved October 20th, 1876, would realize enough money to pay in full the said Modoc War Bonds, with the accrued interest. And for the purpose of paying the principal and interest upon the bonds of the State of Oregon so to be sold, a one half mill tax upon the dollar was thereby levied.
In pursuance of said act of October 25th, 1880, said Treasurer did sell one hundred and twenty bonds of the State of Oregon, each being for the sum of five hundred dollars, from the proceeds of which, with the surplus moneys accrued from said three mill tax, he has, as I am informed, redeemed the said Modoc War Bonds.
There has been realized the proceeds of one levy of the half mill tax, which amounted to $29,628.00; and which has been applied upon the principal and interest of the said indebtedness, as in and by said act provided. The portions thereof unliquidated are respectfully the sums following: Upon the Umatilla Indian War Bonds, $28.171.00; upon the bonds issued under the act of October 25th, 1880, $60,000.00 A continuation of this tax four years longer will more than pay off the entire amount. This indebtedness arose out of claims assumed by the State, but which, in justice, should have been paid by the United States in the first instance.
They were occasioned by Indian depradations upon the frontier settlers, committed by Indians who were in charge of agents of the United States, and were under its authority. It was the duty of the State to protect its citizens, and it very properly interposed for that purpose, and doubtless created an immediate liability to the claimants yet the United States has quite recently passed two acts that will, in effect, reimburse the State in part for the amount paid, and liability incurred, on account of these claims. By the terms of one of these acts about eighty thousand dollars for the expenses on account of the Modoc war has been allowed to the State; and under the provisions of the other, the Secretary of the Treasury, with the aid and assistance of the Secretary of War, is directed to cause to be examined and investigated certain claims of the State which will include the Umatilla war claims and certain other claims in favor of the State, all amounting to about seventy thousand dollars.
They will not be likely to be allowed at the amount claimed, I presume, judging from past allowances by United States officials; but it will dispose of the question for the future, and state authorities will be better advised as to the true condition of the State finances.
This is all of the general bonded indebtedness of the State, and if the Umatilla war claims and other claims referred to are allowed at any reasonable amount against the United States they, together with the Modoc war claims already allowed, will not only pay off all indebtedness arising out of those claims, but will bring into the State Treasury a surplus of several thousand dollars.
SPECIAL BONDED INDEBTEDNESS
There is a bonded debt payable to the Willamette Falls Canal and Locks Company, or its assigns, out of the fund arising from the five per centum of the net proceeds of the sales of the public lands in this State, and the fund arising out of the sale of the five hundred thousand acres of land donated to the State for the purposes of internal improvements.
The original amount of these bonds was $200,000. They bore interest at the rate of seven per centum per annum. The five hundred thousand acre grant has all been sold, excepting 37,617.21 acres, two-thirds of the purchase price of which has not been paid.
The cash sums arising upon the sale of said lands, except the portion thereof consumed in expenses attending the management of the grant, have been applied in payment of said lock bonds, which as reduced the same to the sum of $68,00, and the Treasurer has sufficient money on had to pay off about $30,000 more of them.
Of the deferred payment arising upon the sale of said lands, there remains in notes and mortgages outstanding, now in the hands of the present Register of the La Grande Land Office, and in the hands of the Clerk of the Board for the sale of school and university lands and the State Treasurer, about ninety-five thousand dollars, besides the said $30,000 in the hands of the State Treasurer. These securities when collected, with the money on hand will complete the payment of the lock bonds, and leave a surplus; but as the securities draw interest at the rate of ten per centum per annum, while the lock bonds only draw at the rate of sever per centum per annum, it is not policy to enforce their immediate payment.
There will probably be left of the proceeds of the said grant, after the lock bonds are redeemed, $56,000, besides the 40,520 acres of land. This land remaining unsold is not near an average quality, and its sale will likely be slow, and the price, $1.25 an acre, may have to be reduced in order to effect a sale of it.
Whatever is left of this grant belongs, I suppose, to the common school fund. The grant was for the purposes of internal improvements, but the people of the State, in the formation of the Constitution, provided in that instrument in effect that all the proceeds thereof, if Congress assented thereto, should be set apart as a separate and irreducible fund, and be applied for the support and maintenance of common schools.
At the time the act was passed under which the Lock bonds were issued-the act approved October 21st, 1870-it was claimed tat congress had not assented to such application; and upon that ground the Legislative Assembly assumed the right to make them payable out of that grant, and provided accordingly. But Congress, on February 9th, 1871, passed a joint resolution by which it assented to the application of the 500,000 acres of land to the support of common schools, as provided in the Constitution of the State. That action on the part of Congress doubtless secures to the common school fund all that remains of said grant.
The disposition of that grant might be the subject of reflection that would rove profitable to the people of this State. It was a valuable grant, and at least three quarters of a million of dollars should have been realized therefrom. Instead of that, however, it has all be frittered away, excepting about eighty or ninety thousand dollars thereof, to redeem two hundred thousand dollars of State bonds, which, when issued, were sold for one hundred and sixty thousand dollars. The proceeds of the grant may have been applied to a meritorious purpose, but its management has been such, that not a third of its value has been realized by the State. It is a sad commentary upon the administration of government, and I only made reference to the unpleasant subject in order that greater precaution may prevail in the future in the control and management of State interests. The sacrifice of half a million dollars, in the sale and disposition of the proceeds of one land grant, ought to be a wholesome lesson to those who are intrusted with the conduct of public affairs. There is an other special indebtedness known as the Road Warrants. They were made payable generally, out of the Swamp Land fund. They amounted, two years ago, to $133,604.00. During the last two years a portion of them, amounting to about $14,000.00 of principal, and about $5,500 of interest, has been taken up in payment of the twenty per cent. Payable on the purchase of swamp lands, under the former act providing for the selection and sale of the swamp and overflowed lands belonging to the State of Oregon.
I did expect that before this time, they would all have been liquidated. They can only be paid, however, from the proceeds of the sales of swamp lands, which can not be sold until they are listed to the State by the United State Land Department; unless it be done in compliance with the provisions of said former act, in order to preserver the faith of the Sate towards those who made application in good faith, to purchase that character of lands in accordance with its terms. And not many of those would probably be willing to complete their purchases until it was ascertained that the title to the land was in the State.
The balance due upon these warrants is but a small sum compared with the amount and value of the swamp and overflowed lands the State is entitled to, under the act of Congress of March 12th, 1860; yet it will be likely to drag along until more of them, claimed by the State as swamp and overflowed lands, are certified to be such by the Department at Washington having the matter in charge; but when that glorious occurrence will happen, remains a problem.
The Legislative Assembly, at its last session, interposed some restrictions upon the deduction of indebtedness in the assessment of property for the purposes of taxation, and I am satisfied that this has had the effect to prevent the allowance of a large amount of spurious claims.
If the provisions of the act are faithfully enforced by the Assessors of the various counties, it will break up a practice that has long prevailed, of claiming deductions on account of contingent liabilities and fictitious debts; and will obviate some of the objections urged against including choses in action in the list of property taxed, as it will tend to insure their taxation.
The same difficulty, however, exists in securing uniformity in the matter, and will be likely to continue. It is beyond the skill of legislators to provide so that all property will bear an equal burden in the support of government, proportionate to its value. It is a result that can never be fully accomplished; yet no reasonable efforts should be spared to approximate it, as it is one of the conditions upon which the government was accepted by the people.
There is less difficulty in making school and county taxes uniform than taxes for State purposes. In the former case the Assessor has an opportunity of comparing valuations, and if he adjusts his assessment properly in that respect it works no injustice, whether it be too high or too low as a whole, as the levy by the County Court can be made to correspond; but not so in regard to State taxes. There the total valuation of the property of the several counties should represent the true value of the assessable property of each. Otherwise the latter taxes would be unequal. The law, it is true, requires the Assessors to assess property at its actual cash value. This would effect the result if they were all equally firm in their opinions, and their judgments were alike; but no such coincidence could be expected, and hence their valuations differ as widely as their minds. Besides, they are not equally faithful and conscientious in the discharge of their respective duties.
The only way of remedying the difficulty, that I can see, would be the establishment, in some form, of a Board for the equalization of taxes, as between the counties, which are levied for State purposes.
I believe that a meeting of the Assessors as a board with authority to establish general rules regarding the valuation of similar kinds of property in the various counties, would be the best form that could be devised. Their session would not need to be ore than four days, and the expense, if they were paid the same mileage and per diem as the members of the Legislature, would not amount to two thousand dollars a year. Their simply meeting and comparing views for the purposes suggested would influence the selection of more competent persons to fill it. My views upon this subject may be considered Utopian, but I submit them for your consideration.
I desire to call your attention especially to certain kinds of business that have been carried on in the State for a long time by foreign parties, who have been under no legal obligation to contribute a due proportion of the expenses of its government.
I refer to foreign express, banking and insurance companies. They have been engaged in very worthy enterprises, and the law of comity demands that they should be permitted to prosecute their respective kids of business within the jurisdiction of the State without oppression or unjust discrimination, and that they receive the full protection of its laws; but comity does not exempt them from the general burthen which is occasioned by the administration and maintenance of those laws. That would be unjust to our own citizens.
Chapter 24, Miscellaneous laws of the State, provides that every foreign corporation, before engaging in the business of fire or marine insurance, or express or brokerage, shall deposit with the state Treasurer the sum of $50,000 in interest bearing bonds of the United States, or bonds of the State of Oregon, to be kept as a security for claims against such corporation; and that the corporation or association shall pay taxes upon such deposit, within the county where deposited, in the same manner and to the same extent as an individual, and that the deposit shall be held liable therefor.
This statute would afford a remedy in part in the cases referred to, but the agents of the said corporations have artfully made the deposits in United States bonds, which, not being taxable under State authority, the provisions thereof subjecting them to taxation are rendered nugatory.
A change of these provisions could be made so as to remove the difficulty in the way of the taxation of the deposits; or, the corporations and all foreign companies could be required to pay a sum in gross by way of license, as a condition upon which they might be permitted to carry on business in the State. A reasonable regulation in that respect would only be just and equitable.
It will, however, require firmness on your part to carry it out. Whenever a measure of that kind is introduced there will doubtless a swarm of agents of those various companies gather here. And employ all their blandishments to defeat it; but influences of that kind should never be permitted to thwart honest legislation.
The report of Mr. A. Bush, Superintendent of the Penitentiary, which is herewith submitted, will furnish you full information regarding the condition and management of that institution; and I deem it unnecessary to do more than to call your attention to certain general matters relating thereto.
I believe that it has been conducted as well as the circumstances would admit of.
The several officers in charge have faithfully performed their respective duties. The superintendents, in attending to the general affairs of the prison, has used good practical sense and judgment at all times; and the Warden, Mr. W. P. Miller, in his attention to the detail matters, has exhibited a degree of prudence and economy highly commendable in a public officer. These two gentlemen, by provident and judicious management, have materially lessened the expenses of the establishment. They have inaugurated a correct financial system in its business operations, and have used it strictly for the object and purposes for which it was instituted.
The discipline has not been as rigid, perhaps, as necessary, but that, in part, has been on account of the sentiment of the community. Greater importance will be attached to individuality in a sparsely settled country, than in one occupied by a dense population. More charity and kindness will be exhibited in the former than in the latter. It may be a mistaken idea, yet it is certain to have its influence in the punishment of crime. If, however, such an institution is in the outset organized upon correct business principles, it will succeed. Its rules of government will gradually and imperceptibly become sufficiently severe for all practical purposes.
One of the best means of securing discipline is to employ the convicts in constant and unremitting labor; but in order to do that, it is necessary that some kind of business should be established at the Penitentiary, which would furnish all of them employment.
Divers kinds of business have been attempted, but none of them were sufficiently extensive to engage a large number. If the proprietors of some general manufacturing enterprise could be induced to take hold of the matter, and arrange for the employment of all the spare convicts, at a small compensation even, it would be an advantage to the convicts and the State.
There has been a difficulty in the way of making any permanent arrangement of that character, in consequence of the want of authority on the part of the Superintendent. He is empowered by the general law, to employ the prisoners, but that is very vague and indefinite. Yet it is the extent of his power, under the law, though the Legislative Assembly, in 1874, adopted a joint resolution to the effect that the Superintendent be authorized to contract all the available convict labor, to the highest responsible bidder, at rates not less than fifty cents a day for each convict, for a term of years not exceeding four in any one contract. Said labor to be performed within the prison bounds, and under the charge of the State. In 1880, the Legislative Assembly by another joint resolution, authorized the Superintendent to contract with responsible parties, the convict labor, at a price of not less than thirty cents per day for each convict so employed.
Whether the Legislative Assembly by joint resolution only, can make any valid regulation upon the subject is very doubtful. Resolutions of that character do not have the force of law. It requires an act, duly introduced, read, passed and authenticated to have that effect.
But if otherwise, the terms of the resolutions referred to are too much restricted to enable the Superintendent to make an advantageous arrangement. A business that would give employment to all the convicts, requires the investment of a large amount of capital. To get it started and well under way would involve the expenditure of an immense sum of money. No capitalist would be so imprudent as to engage in so extensive an affair, unless he could make certain and permanent arrangements; and until the matter is in a condition in which such arrangements can be made, the business carried on at the prison, by convict labor, will be, as it hereto fore has been, spasmodic. The subject is well worthy of your consideration.
A law should be once, vesting in the Superintendent wide discretion in the premises. It is highly important to the State, that the convicts be kept employed at a compensation that will reimburse the State, in a great part at least, for the amount it costs to keep then; and more important that they acquire a trade, and industrious habits, so that they can earn an honest living when discharged.
I herewith submit a report of the reprieves, commutations and pardons granted during the last tow ears of my term, with the reasons therefor, and the names of all persons in whose favor remission of fines and forfeitures have been made.
The course I adopted in regard to commutations makes the number of convicts commuted and pardoned almost equal to the number that has been discharged. I deemed it judicious to remit a portion of the sentence in every case, where the behavior of the prisoner had been such as to justify it. I preferred that way tot he practice of giving money on account of good conduct. It has been less expensive to the State, and I think has had a better effect on the party released from the imprisonment. If a portion of his term is remitted he can employ it, if so disposed, in earning money by his labor, under a contract of his own making which will ten to make him more self-reliant; and if not disposed to work when set at liberty, the merit money, as it is termed, will prove a detriment, for in a great majority of cases he will at once engage in a life of idleness and dissipation, and very soon become involved again in difficulty.
I think it would be better to repeal the provision of the statute which authorizes the payment of merit money. The provision which requires the payment of the five dollars is well enough, though it would be better instead of that, to authorize the Superintendent to procure the convicts a passage to his home, if he has one, or to some place where he would be likely to get employment.
Idleness is the cause of a great amount of the crime committed. A person who is inclined to be industrious, and has a knowledge of any kind of useful business, is not very apt to become a criminal; and that system of punishment for criminal offenses which encourages habit of industry and enables the offender to acquire a knowledge of skilled labor, is the only one likely to prove reformatory. And I may truthfully add, that those parents and guardians who neglect to have their children and wards engage in some legitimate and suitable employment, re guilty of a social wrong, and are responsible, to a great extent, for the vice and crime which the state is endeavoring to repress.
STATE INSANE ASYLUM
By an act approved October 25th, 1880, entitled "An act to provide for the construction of a brick Insane Asylum Building for this State, to levy a tax and appropriate money therefor," a Board of Commissioners consisting of the Governor, Secretary of State and State Treasurer, was created for the purpose of carrying into effect the object of the said act.
In pursuance thereof the Board duly organized and proceeded to erect such building. The Report of the Board of Commissioners to this body will furnish full information in regard to the character of the structure erected, its condition and the expense incurred; and I need only refer to certain duties growing out of that affair, which you will be required to discharge. The Building is so far completed by the first day of December next, as the State has the right, under the contract with the late Dr. J. C. Hawthorne, to receive them then; it being provided in that contract, that if at the expiration of four years (from the first day of December 1878) the State shall have provided State Insane Asylum, then the said contractor shall turn the patients under his charge over to the State. Otherwise the contract, by its terms, is to continue two years longer.
The act of October 25th, 1880, before referred t, appropriated the sum of twenty five thousand dollars from the surplus moneys arising under an act to provide a tax to defray the current expenses of the State, and to pay the indebtedness thereof, approved October 20th, 1876, and further provided for the levy of an annual tax of one mill on the dollar, with which to defray the expenses of erecting the building.
The Board has received the twenty-five thousand dollars appropriated from said surplus moneys, and a little over fifty-nine thousand dollars the proceeds of one levy of the mill tax will not probably be realized before February or March of 1883. The Board considered it a duty to complete the building by the first of December 1882; and in order to do so, it was necessary to push forward the work in advance of the receipts of the fund. The result is, that the expense at the present time amounts to more than the amount of funds realized, and will overrun, as will appear from said Report of the Board, a few thousand dollars, the amount limited in the act providing for the construction of the building. These circumstances have delayed its completion, yet the work is so far advanced that it can be finished, through your cooperation, by the time referred to.
I deem it very necessary that it should be done by that time, as it will enable the State to save at least thirty-three and one third per cent of the cost of keeping the patients under the said contract; which will be a saving of about thirty thousand dollars a year. The building must also be furnished, so as to render it suitable for the keeping and management of the patients, before they can be received by the State. This will require the expenditure of probably forty thousand dollars, which you will have to make provision for; and the whole matter will require prompt action on your part, as the time intervening between this ad the first day of December next, must all be employed to accomplish the undertaking.
The way open to do it, however, is very simple, and only requires promptitude on your part. The Treasurer should be directed to pay from the mill tax fund the expense in building in excess of the hundred thousand dollar limitation, and a special appropriation of forty thousand dollars be made from the excess in the current expense fun, arising from the four mill tax before referred to, with which to furnish it. There need be no delay in the matter, nor do I think there will be, if the interests of the State are given a preference over those of private persons.
A small amount of interest will accrue upon the warrants drawn upon the one mill tax fun, or the "Insane Asylum Building fun," as it is termed in the said act of October 25th, 1880, and some interest has already accrued on warrants drawn on it; but the present levy which will be paid into the State Treasury by March next, will liquidate the whole expense, and leave a surplus; which can be applied to other purposes, and which might be provided for at this session.
I have no interest whatever in having these suggestions carried out, except the general interest I have in common with the citizens of the State of Oregon, but I assure you that I feel a great solicitude that it be done. I realize its importance and fervently hope that it will not be neglected. I trust that you will appreciate its necessity and not permit the selfish mercenary interests of individuals to defeat the early consummation of such and important undertaking.
An other very necessary duty demanding your attention, will be the passage of an act providing for the government and management of this institution. Offices must be created and provision made for the selection of suitable persons to fill them; their duties prescribed and compensation fixed. This I regard as a matter of more consequence by far, than any that will be likely to come before you at this session.
All civilized people agree that suitable measures should be adopted in every community, to secure proper care and treatment of those who have unfortunately been bereft of their reason. It is a humane step, dictated by benevolence and christian charity; and designed not only to render that class of persons as comfortable as possible, but to cure their infirmity and restore them to their faculties. Every enlightened State in Christendom acknowledges its obligation to accomplish that object it within the power of human ability.
The cost of the Insane Asylum, when completed and furnished, will not probably be less than one hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars. The purpose for which it will be employed will depend very much upon your action. If its government is rightly organized and its affairs prudently and wisely managed, it will prove a blessing to the community and a credit to the State; but if on the contrary, it should be used as an appliance in the political machine, employed alternately by the different political parties of the country, it will be pernicious, and will impose an unnecessary burden upon the people.
There are too many persons who are clamorous for place and position on account of their rendition of services to the prevailing party; and an institution of this character can very easily be perverted into a means of rewarding those persons for the efforts and zeal they have exhibited in securing a party triumph. They have implicit faith that they have earned a position of profit, and they demand of the successful candidate a recognition of their claim to it.
The fact that they may be entirely unfit for the place they aspire to fill, does not deter them in the least. That is a matter of indifference. Their test of an applicant's qualification for office is, whether or not he ha been faithful to his party. If he has maintained a blind adherence to it for a long period of time, has been zealous and active in political campaigns, though an entire failure in every regular business he has undertaken, it will not do to refuse him. The party needs his services. He is poor, of course, and must be provided for. A refusal under such circumstances, on account of the unsuitability of the applicant, would bring upon the unfortunate head of the department having the disposal of the matter the maleditions of an army of place hunters.
It is said that when Aristides was defeated for an office to which three hundred others were elected, he thanked the Gods that there were three hundred better men in Athens than himself; but the modern office seeker evinces no such spirit of resignation. He claims the position, not because he is the better person to fill it, but because he has earned it. He imagines that there was a tacit understanding that if he employed cunning, deception and trickery in securing party success, he would entitle himself to political preferment; and he regards his claim as binding in conscience as one arising out of a commercial obligation.
In establishing a government for the management of this Asylum, it would be a criminal neglect of duty on your part, not to provide strong barriers against attempts, by the class of persons mentioned, to gain control of it. It would be far better to establish, at the expense of the State, a kind of Lazzaroni, where hey can be supported, than to permit them to foist themselves upon an institution erected for the purposes of exercising benevolence, charity and mercy.
In the organization of this government, a mode should be provided for selecting the officers to administer the affairs of the institution, that would be independent, so far as it can possibly be made so, of all political influences or considerations. Competent, qualified and efficient persons must conduct its management, to render it successful; and they must be selected on account of their peculiar fitness to perform the duties assigned them.
If the selection could be made by a Board of Commissioners consisting of three members, chose in the same manner that Regents of the State University are chosen, I believe it would prove satisfactory. The Board should have a general supervision over the affairs of the Asylum. It should hold its meetings there, which should be as often as four times a year, about the close of each quarter; should be authorized to make rules for the conduct of its affairs, ascertain the manner in which official duty was being performed, and examine and certify to the Secretary of State all accounts of the expenses it has incurred.
The members of the Board should receive no compensation for their services, beyond the payment of the expenses created in the discharge of their official duty, an account of which should be made out and audited by the Secretary of State, as other claims against the State are audited; and they should be appointed from the members of the different political parties of the State.
A Board of that character, made up of prominent citizens, in my opinion would so organize and manage the State Insane Asylum that it would subserve the purposes for which it was instituted, and be a source of gratification to all who sympathize with the unfortunate and afflicted of their race.
THE SCHOOL FOR DEAF MUTES
The last Legislative Assembly organized the school for deaf mutes, by providing for a Board of Directors to have the charge and management thereof.
The plan was recommended in my last general message, and it has operated well, and relieved the Board of Education of a great annoyance. The school for the last two years has been under the immediate charge of Rev. P. S. Knight, as Superintendent, who has given it faithful attention, and it is now in prosperous condition. The report of the Board of Directors to the Hon. Secretary of State, will give full particulars of the progress of the school, and the state of its finances. I am satisfied that it has been conducted, during the time referred to, for the benefit of the pupils, and that they have made rapid advancement under their present tutors. The school is well organized, and its affairs are being prudently and economically managed.
The difficulty in the outset, with such an institution, is the tendency to appropriate it to the benefit of persons who were not intended to be the recipients of is favors. It is liable to be overloaded at the start, with burdens of various kinds; and it has to endure a severe struggle before it can get fairly under way. I think this has now passed that stage and gained a secure footing. Its affairs are conducted on a business basis, and in accordance with business principles; and that to my mind is an assurance of success.
No institution can flourish without the moral support of the community, and this is not usually gained without an effort on the part of its managers. The superintendent, r. Knight, is entitled to great credit for his energy, perseverance and faithful labors in securing the establishment of the school, and a reasonable support o the part of the State will enable it to become a permanent and beneficial institution.
LANDS GRANTED TO THE STATE
The condition of the various land grants to the State, is generally very well understood.
I have already referred to the five hundred thousand acres donated for internal improvements.
The grant of ten sections of land for the completion of public buildings, has been fully realized.
The grant of the salt springs lapsed long ago, and no benefit will probably ever be realized therefrom.
The seventy-two sections set apart and reserved for a State University have been selected, and about twenty-nine thousand acres thereof sold; leaving about seventeen thousand acres unsold.
The ninety thousand acres of land granted under the act of July 2d 1862, for an Agricultural College, have been selected and about twenty-six thousand acres thereof sold. The rice at which they are required to be sold by the terms of the grant, two dollars and a half an acre, renders their sale slow.
The sixteenth and thirty-sixth sections in each township, granted to the State for the use of schools, have been, and are being, sold from time to time, as the public surveys are extended. The full benefits of this grant will not be realized until all the public lands in the State are surveyed.
The several funds arising from the sales of the lands included in the said grants amount to the following sums respectively:
The University fund, principal…………………….$ 62,000
The Agricultural College fund, principal…………. 65,000
The Common School fund, principal……………… 655,000
The investment of these funds, under the present rate of interest has become very difficult.
During the past two years there has been a large supply of money to loan in the state, and it has resulted in lowering the rate of interest in private business transactions. Borrowers have been able to hire the use of money at a less rate per centum than that provided in the law regulating the loan of the school funds. How long such a condition of affairs will continue is unknown. At present it is operating to the detriment of these funds. They are liable to lie idle, or to be loaned to applicants of doubtful credit, neither of which alternatives is encouraging.
It is very proper to prescribe the rate of interest at which these funds shall be loaned, though the business of the country, in fact, fixes the rate of interest. I think it absolutely necessary to lower the rate of specified in the preset law from ten per centum to nine per centum or lower. I doubt whether half of the amount on had will be called for during the next year unless that is done.
The system of loaning should also be made as simple and require as little formality as possible. The present mode of loaning the Common School fund is the best one, in my opinion, that could be devised. The application is made through an agent appointed by the Board who recommends the loan if he considers it a desirable one to be made. It is then considered by the Board, and the application is either granted or refused.
If the officers having charge of the matter attend to their duty, there need be no mistakes. They should first appoint a good responsible agent in each county; who should carefully consider each application before acting upon it. And they should bear in mind that they have no right to entertain an application for a loan except at a regular meeting of the Board. It would be unsafe to permit parties desiring to borrow from these funds, to solicit the officers having charge of them severally and personally.
Besides, it would be irregular to make a loan under an assent given by them separately. The Governor, Secretary, and Treasurer have no authority over the subject, except as a Board, and that can only be constituted by a regular meeting of its members.
I am not aware of any bad loan of the Common School fund having been made during the four years of my term, except one procured by misrepresentation, and the party restored the money in that case.
The loan of the University fund is under a different regulation. The agents in the several counties to whom the applications are made are appointed by the Judge of the district-formerly a Judge of the Supreme Court, now, I suppose, by a Circuit Judge - and a fee of ten dollar to such agent provided for.
I believe it would be better to allow the board to appoint the agents in all cases, and to have one uniform system. The board would be the better judge of the qualifications of a person to be agent then the Circuit Judge, and I would recommend that the law be changed in that respect. I know that owing to the complexity of the regulations in regard to loaning the University fund, borrowers prefer to obtain loans from the Common School fund in every instance. I believe that the other members of the Board will fully bear me out in this conclusion.
Those regulations were well intended when devised and adopted, and doubtless have proved beneficial; but the successful management of that fund must always, to a great extent, depend upon the fidelity of the members of the Board, and its efficiency. If it has at any time failed to invest the fund prudently, it has been owing, in a great measure, to a lack of method in the transactions of its business, which leads into loose and careless practices. Such a course can easily be avoided by adhering to some general, reasonable system.
These several funds at present are in a very good condition. They have, for the last two or three years, been rendered as productive as they could have been under any other management with like restrictions. The respectively aid in the support and maintenance of highly important institutions that have been established for the benefit and advancement of the people of the State, and should be sacredly guarded and protected.
Our system of self-government must depend for its success upon the intelligence of the people. A mass of ignorant persons have no correct conception of the true principle of civil liberty. They must be rightly educated in order to understand and duly appreciate them. It is indispensable to the preservation of a republican form of government that learning be disseminated broad cast over the whole land, and though some may fall by the wayside, some on stony places and some among thorns, yet other will fall upon good ground and bring forth fruit that will nurture, sustain and uphold civil and religious liberty.
I herewith submit the report of the Hon. Matthew P. Deady, President of the Board of Regents of the State University , and also that of Professor B. L. Arnold, President of the Agricultural college, which will furnish you full information of the workings, progress and condition of the two institutions, while the report of professor L. J. Powell, Superintendent of Public Instruction, will disclose the like information in regard to the Common Schools of the State.
These gentlemen have severally entitled themselves to great commendation. The former, for the worthy services he has gratuitously bestowed in behalf of the University, and the latter two, for the zeal and perseverance they have manifested, and the faithful labor they have performed in the discharge of their respective duties to the Agricultural College, and to the Common Schools.
Professor Powell in his report urges, as you will notice, the levy of a State tax of two mills upon the dollar for the support of Common Schools. The matter is worthy of your consideration, though I do not feel that I am sufficiently advised upon the subject to recommend it. Aid, however, to any of these institutions, should not be withheld through a stringy policy on the part of the State.
Under the act of October 21st, 1870, the act providing for the building of the Canal and Locks at the Willamette Falls, the faith of the State is pledged to pay into the Common School fund at such time as it takes possession of such Canal and Locks. $200,000. This should be considered in connection with the subject of the levy of the proposed tax. The only objection which I would make against levy of a State tax for school purposes would be as tot he time when it should be done; that is, whether in any event, such action should not be deferred until the present indebtedness of the State is completely adjusted, the Insane Asylum fully completed and occupied, and the State house finished.
A continuation of the present tax, which amounts to five an a half mills upon the dollar, for another two years, will produce a sufficient revenue with the means from the other sources before mentioned, to accomplish the whole affair. If the administration of the government is economically conducted, the proceeds from the four mill tax will leave a large excess in that fund; probably more than two hundred thousand dollars, in the two years. The mill tax for constructing the Insane Asylum will afford a fund of sixty thousand dollars at least that will not be required for the purposes for which it was levied; and the half mill tax levied to pay the Indian war claims, with the allowance by the United States on account of the expenses of the Modoc and Umatilla Indian wars, which will probably be realized by the time mentioned, will also afford a considerable excess.
I have no means of knowing how much will be required to finish the Capitol building, but it certainly ought not to require more than a hundred thousand dollars to complete the inside work and build the dome. The building of the porticoes and outside stairs could be delayed a term of years, without injury or inconvenience; though they would doubtless improve the general appearance of the building.
But in order to bring about such results, prudent management must be observed by all the departments of the government. A loose profligate course would effectually defeat it, and plunge the State into more indebtedness. You can do much to avoid so unfortunate a consequence, and it will only require negative action on your part. Resolve to vote emphatically No! upon every measure introduced for the purpose of filching money from the Treasury, oppose propositions for relief based upon stale and doubtful claims, and refuse appropriations in aid of schemes intended in the main, for the benefit of private individuals.
If the course indicated is pursued, the results predicted will be sure to follow. The four mill tax for current expenses can then be reduced to three mills, possibly two and a half, and the mill, and half mill taxes taken off entirely. The financial affairs of the State will then be in a condition to admit of the imposition of a two mill tax for school purposes, without any greater burden to the tax-payers than at present. I would be in favor of first getting entirely out of debt. Then when the public buildings are completed, reduce the tax for current expenses to a um that will fairly meet such expenses; and then, if though advisable, levy the tax mentioned for school purposes.
THE SWAMP LAND GRANT
During the last two years I have made all the efforts I felt justified in making, to have the lands that were granted to the State by the act of Congress of March 12, 1860, selected.
I considered it very important to have it ascertained which lands of the public domain were swamp and overflowed, within the meaning of that act, and to have them certified to the state, for two reasons: first, in order that the State could liquidate the Road Warrants before referred to, which were made payable out of the swamp land fund; second, that the confusion occasioned by the grant might be removed.
In many sections of the State settlers did not know from what source their title to the lands they occupied could be derived. The State claimed a large portion of the public lands under said grant, and steps had been taken under the act of the Legislative Assembly of October 26, 1870, to select them. Applications had been made to the Board of purchase of large tracts as swamp lands. The United States Department had refused to recognize any selections made under State authority, in advance of the public surveys. Pre-emption and Homestead entries were constantly being made of portions of them. Grantees, holding under grants to the State made by the United States for the purpose of building roads, were claiming other portions of them. Other portions still were within the limits of Indian Reservations, established by the United States long after the passage of the act of March 12, 1860. Numerous conflicts had arisen, growing out of these various circumstances, and the whole subject was very badly complicated.
Another serious difficulty in the way of their adjustment was the mode that had been adopted for their selection.
It appears that as early as the 21st of May, 1860, an official letter was addressed by the Department of the United States, at Washington, to the then Governor of Oregon proposing to allow one of two modes of segregation of the swamp lands included within the terms of the said grant, viz.: First, to abide by the field notes of survey designating the lands; or, second, for the State to select the lands by her own agents in the field. The State after deliberating upon the proposition for a little more than fourteen years, concluded to accept the latter mode; as appears from a joint resolution of the Legislative Assembly passed October 13, 1874.
It would naturally be supposed that having had ample time to consider the matter the better mode would have been chosen; the one that would have relieved the State of all expense, and from the embarrassment of selecting an army of agents to perform the services; but unfortunately it was not. It elected "to select the swamp and overflowed land within her boundaries by agents of the State," and the proper officers of the State were instructed to furnish to the Department of the Interior, such evidence and in such manner, of the swampy character of the lands, as the said Department should prescribe.
A copy of this resolution having been furnished the Department of the Interior, it prescribed "such evidence and in such manner of the swampy character of the lands," with such a degree of nicety as a department of the United States government is able to prescribe. It required the selections, when made by the State agents, to be forwarded to the United States Surveyor General, with the evidence of the swampy character of the lands, which evidence was particularly and minutely defined, was very abtruse, and in some of its features almost impossible to be complied with.
After the mode was adopted numerous lists of selections were forwarded to the Surveyor General, accompanied in some instances with proof of the swampy character of the lands loosely made, and in other without any proof whatever; and these lists in the majority of cases were being tossed about in that office without much idea as to what should be done with them, through some of them had been forwarded to the office of the commissioner of the General Land office, but did not receive much better treatment there. The whole affair, in fact, was in a muddle, if I may be permitted to use such a term. Twenty years had elapsed, and only about three or four thousand acres of these lands had been listed to the State, which were procured, as I am informed, through the exertion of Quincy A. Brooks, Esq., of Lake county, who, I presume, engaged in a direct correspondence with the Department at Washington.
In this condition of things I had but one alternative, which was to follow the mode the department had proposed and the State elected. That course had to be pursued or the whole affair ignored, and the claim of the State to the lands virtually surrendered. In order to carry it out, I was compelled to employ the services of several parties. I had to ascertain what lands were probably swamp and overflowed before I could, as Land Commissioner of the State, claim them as such. To do this I had to appoint an agent to view the lands in the field and to furnish me with a list of them and to procure the proof prescribed by the Department. It was necessary also to engage the services of a competent person to overhaul the lists in the Surveyor General's office, and attend to supplying proofs with reference to those, and to overlook the ones furnished by the field agent.
I engaged the services of Mr. H. C. Perkins to view the lands in the field, and Mr. P. L. Willis to attend to the other labor. Besides, the Department at my request, has sent an agent to view the lands included in the lists forwarded to the office of the Commissioner of the General Land Office, who was instructed to cooperate with an agent appointed on the part of the State; and I appointed Captain John Mullan as agent to attend to, and urge speedy action upon the part of the Department, in the examination and certifying of the lists forwarded by the Surveyor General. These several matters have entailed some expense, but it was the only course to follow; and I assumed the responsibility to adopt it, and to push forward the work as fast as it could be don with the complicated machinery provided for its management.
In order that you may have a better understanding of the manner in which the proceedings in selecting the swamp lands are conducted, and the result in part, of the efforts employed, I submit a recent statement of Mr. D. Harmon acting Commissioner of the General Land Office. It bears the date August 19th, 1882, and is as follows:
"Total area of lands claimed by the State, including lists unaccompanied by proof as well as such as have been duly selected and reported, 463,910.82 acres. Of these lands the following have already been disposed of as stated: Lands in sections 16 and 36 donated to the State as 'School Lands' by organic act of Feb. 14th, 1859, 10,174.03 acres. Lands selected and approved to W. V. & C. M. Military Wagon Road, act of July 5th, 1856, 487.99 acres; lands selected and approved to O. C. Military Wagon Road, act of July 2d, 1862, 3,528.79 acres; lands already patented to the State in swamp land patented to the State in swamp land patents Nos. 1,2 and 3, 27,610,19 acres; leaving the total area of lands yet to be examined and the claim of the State thereto be adjusted 365,259.62 acres. Against this there re now pending claims under preemption, homestead and other laws to 12,752.09 acres. Proof is yet to be furnished as to the character of 205,921.80 acres. Leaving the total area of lands duly selected and which having been examined in the field have been reported upon favorably, 146,585.73 acres.
The lands embraced in this last mentioned area will be listed for approval and subsequent patenting to the State at as early a date as possible."
I conclude from the above statement, that the State will receive the 146,585.73 acres above specified as soon as the clerical labor making out the lists is performed, which, added to the 27,610.19 acres already patented, makes an aggregate of one hundred and seventy-four thousand one hundred and ninety-six acres (round numbers) of land secured, and will also doubtless receive the greater part of the 205,610.19 acres when examined in the field by the joint agents referred to, though other proof of their swampy character may have to submitted. In nearly three hundred thousand acres which will be forwarded soon, if not already done, to the Commissioner of the General Land office.
Since writing the above I have received a telegram from Captain John Mullan, dated at Washington on the 7th of this month, informing me that lists of selections of swamp lands embracing 98,300.17 acres in the Lakeview and La Grande Districts would be certified for approval to the Secretary of the Interior by the Commissioner of the General Land Office on the 12th instant.
At the commencement of my term of office there had only been approved, by the Surveyor General, 43,653.94 acres. During the time of its continuance he has approve 449,789. 36 acres, nearly all of which have been selected, and the proof required by the mode aforesaid furnished. Besides other selections have been, and are being made, which, when completed, will make the area of acres at least a half a million, from which the State should realize nearly that number of dollars.
There should be remaining in that fund, after the Road Warrants re paid off, fully three hundred thousand dollars.
This fund, like the five hundred thousand acre grant, has been unkindly dealt with. It has been rudely invaded, and a great portion of its substance purloined. Some portion of it may have been applied to useful purposes, but it would be very small when compared with the benefits that should have been received by the State. The appropriations from it for the building of certain roads was somewhat after the manner of the disposal of the various grants y the United States to the State, for the building of roads from and to certain points. Generally they went to enrich private parties.
It is to be hoped most devoutly that the scheming, plundering system of appropriating funds of that character through some flimsy pretext is at an end. If those lands had been preserved they could have been applied to a substantial beneficial purpose; to the building up of some charitable or literary institution that would have been enduring and have reflected honor and credit upon the representatives of the people of Oregon for years to come.
But the remnant may still be preserved and rendered highly useful. Ten per centum of the swamp land fund is pledged by the laws of the State to the use of the common schools. Another portion should be applied to the benefit of the State University; which will enable an institution that should be the pride of Oregon to gain a firm financial footing. Had such a policy been pursued a few years ago we should not have witnessed the humiliating spectacle of the prevention of a forced sale of its building only through the kindly intervention of a non-resident of the State. An institution that sheds its light and luster far and wide becoming a mendicant for foreign aid, is no a pleasant subject of contemplation.
The course that has been adopted in the selection of the swamp lands, although not, in my judgment, the better one, will doubtless under the circumstances, have to be continued; but the bulk of the expense has been made. The mode is now better understood, has become systematized and the greater portion of the lands have been listed under State authority. The business can now be conducted regularly an at far less expense than it heretofore could have been.
One great source of embarrassment has been the lack of funds, with which to carry it forward on a cash basis. The payment of the appropriations that have been made for that purpose has been postponed to the Road Warrants; at least that has been the construction the Treasurer has placed upon the law. It should be so worded as to require that the first money that is paid into the fund be set apart to pay the expenses of thee fund, and the first sums realized should be reserved for that purpose. The holders of the warrants could not complain at that, as the expenses of selecting the land incurred for their benefit, to the extent of enabling the State to redeem their warrants in a shorter time. They could not, in fact, be redeemed at all if the lands were not selected and sold.
PILOTAGE AND TOWAGE
The rates of Pilotage and Towage at the mouth of the Columbia have been the subject of complaint for a long time, and should be investigated with a view of remedying any wrong connected therewith, if such should be found to exist. I have no knowledge whatever of the matte, further than to know that it costs a large sum for a ship to come in over the bar there and go out with a cargo, on account of Pilotage and Towage. I am ignorant as to whether or not the charges therefor are greater than they should be, yet it ought always to be the subject of close scrutiny.
Charges of that character increase the cost of shipment and must necessarily be paid indirectly, by the producer, and if exorbitant, wrongfully injure him. It is the correct policy of the State to relieve that class of persons more especially the agriculturalists, from all unjust exactions so far as can be done consistently with right and justice. The farming interests constitute the main support of nearly all other classes of business, and the growth and prosperity of the State are dependent almost entirely upon them; still, persons engaged in that occupation have no right to complain of the high rate of charges of parties engaged in other business, if they are on an equality of footing, as free competition is open in such cases, which is apt to regulate the matter satisfactorily.
But when a business has been established ostensibly for the benefit of the public, and in consideration thereof it has been granted special privileges, it should be restricted to reasonable and fair profits. In that case it becomes a subsidiary of the general interest of the public, and has no right to claim anything beyond an adequate compensation for its services. The compact between its proprietors and the State is, that it shall be employed for the benefit of the public in a particular line of duty and that they will only exact a just recompense therefor. If, therefore, it should at any time be ascertained that the managers of such a character of business were levying exorbitant charges for their services, or were receiving excessive profits under existing rates, the Legislative Assembly would have the same right to reduce the rates that it would to diminish the fees or salary of a public officer.
It does not follow, however, that the Legislature should adopt an oppressive policy in regard to such business. In the regulation of it, the scales of justice should be evenly balanced. Every circumstance in its favor should have its due weight, and you should not be swayed by motives of self interest, or feelings of bias or prejudice. You should make a fair and honest inquiry into the matter, and adopt such measures as the exigency may require.
I deem it a duty to call your attention especially to the condition of the Salmon Fisheries of the Columbia River.
A few years ago steps were taken by certain parties interested in the preservation of those fisheries, to establish what is termed a hatching house, for the propagation of salmon. They were induced to engage in the undertaking in order to prevent the extermination of that species of fish. They secured certain aid from the United States, and the Legislative Assembly of 1878 passed an act to create the office of Fish Commissioner for the Columbia River, to license the taking of salmon in said river and its tributaries, and to encourage the establishment of such hatching house. The Legislature of Washington Territory had already passed an act for the same purpose, which by its terms, was to become operative when the Legislature of Oregon should enact a similar statute.
The license provided in said act required the payment of a certain sum upon the boats, nets and traps employed in said business. It also required the payment of a certain sum to be made by certain of the persons engaged in the business. This money was to be paid to such Fish Commissioner, and was to be paid over by him to any company furnishing satisfactory evidence to the effect that such hatching house had been established and had hatched salmon with which said river had been stocked and supplied.
The imposition of the tax provided for by the license quite naturally occasioned great dissatisfaction upon the part of those who were required to pay it; and, as a matter of course, the validity of the act was questioned, and it became the subject of judicial investigation.
The courts of Washington Territory decided that their statute was total nullity, upon the ground that the provision in regard to the time when it should go into operation was illegal; and the Circuit Court of Oregon in the Fourth Judicial District, held that the provision of our statute upon the subject was unconstitutional, on the ground that the money to be paid to the Fish Commissioner and by him disbursed should have been required to be paid into the State Treasury, and paid out in pursuance of appropriations duly made. The result was that the hatching house enterprise failed, as the salmon of the Columbia river are very likely to within a few years, unless stringent measure are adopted to prevent it.
There is at present a statute regulating those fisheries - the act approved October 16th, 1878. It restricts the time of taking the fish to certain months, limits the size of the meshes of the nets and seines employed in the business, provides what distance apart the slats shall be in the fish traps, and prohibits fishing on certain days within the months in which the fish are allowed to be taken.
Its provisions are probably observed where they do not conflict with the interests of the parties engaged in the business. Whenever that occurs they are doubtless considered as violative of some great natural right. That is the usual way in which parties reason upon such subjects who are interested in the matter. They appreciate the advantages to themselves, and are oblivious to every other consideration.
Nature has bountifully supplied the Columbia river with salmon, a very excellent quality of fish, which, if preserved, will afford to the people of the State and adjoining Territories, a delicate and substantial article of food for all future time. The State has full control over the subject within its limits. That authority has never been delegated. It has complete power to regulate its fisheries.
By proper legislation on the part of the State, and of Washington Territory, the salmon of the Columbia river could be preserved and rendered a lasting benefit to the people of both sections of the country. This can be done by limiting the catch during the spawning season. It may require the arbitrary exercise of authority, for no other kind will check the greed and rapacity of a portion of mankind; the class that will prosecute any business as long as it can be rendered profitable, regardless of the importance of the consequences that are certain to follow.
One of two modes should be adopted. Either shorten the period in which salmon are allowed to be taken during the season, and regulate the kind and character of the appliances to be employed in taking them, so as to catch only the larger sized fish; or limit the catch of a season to a specified number. Either mode may require the appointment of an officer invested with authority to enforce the provisions of the regulation, but the exigency of the case will justify it. Some rigorous measure must be adopted to prevent the expiration of those valuable fish from the waters of the Columbia river.
In connection with the act creating the office of Fish Commissioner, I wish to call your attention to the report of J. W. Cook, Esq., President of the Oregon and Washington Territory Propogating Company, dated January 24, 1881, which you will find on file in the Executive Office. That Company organized to establish a hatching house, and furnished evidence to the Fish Commissioner of the establishment of the same, and of having hatched salmon with which said river had been stocked and supplied. The Fish Commissioner, supposing the law to be valid, and having received, by way of licenses, under it a considerable sum, paid over to the said company a portion thereof, as by said act provided.
The report of Mr. Cook sets out the account relating thereto, and shows a balance in his hands of $409.61, for which he is ready to account to ay properly authorized person, His course in the affair has been very honorable, and evinces a disposition to do what is right in the premises; but I am at a loss to know how the State will be able to adjust the matter. Strictly this money should be paid back to the parties who paid it originally, if they could be ascertained, which would be very difficult indeed. It being a public matter, however, I have deemed it proper to inform you regarding it.
THE INSANE AND IDIOTIC
The insane and idiotic, since the death of Dr. J. C. Hawthorne, which occurred about February, 1881, have been kept under the contract made between him and the State, which I have already referred to, by Mrs. Rachel Hawthorne, widow of the deceased, and Dr. Simeon E. Josephi, administratrix and administrator of his estate. The whole number in charge of said representatives is three hundred and fifteen, of which two hundred and twenty-one are males, and ninety-four females.
The same care and treatment of that class of persons which was bestowed by Dr. Hawthorne during his life, has been continued by his successors since they assumed the charge of them. They have kindly provided for them and shown them every attention calculated to mitigate their sufferings and restore them to health.
They have performed their duty faithfully, but the law which provides for the keeping of the insane and idiotic is, in my judgment, faulty, I do not think that this law should provide for keeping the idiotic. It involves a large expense in sending them to the Asylum, and I see no reason why they should be sent there when they could as well be cared for in the counties from which they are sent. The insane are usually violent, and it requires a secure place to detain them; besides, with proper facilities and skillful treatment, they may be cured. These considerations render it necessary to establish a general institution for that purpose. One that is safe, where better care may be given and more skillful treatment be employed. But no one having more sense than the idiot himself, would expect his recover from his infirmity; nor is it usually necessary to provide any very secure place in which to keep him. An ordinary Poor House such as every county in the State could afford to have where it is necessary, would answer the purpose. To send such a person, as is many times done, a long distance and at the cost of hundreds of dollars, simply in order that he may have a subsistence, is bad policy.
The law is also faulty in not having more effective checks against the committal of persons to the Asylum. There seems to be no difficulty in securing the commitment of any one complained against.
But a short time ago an escaped convict from the Idaho Prison took refuge in our Asylum for the insane and idiotic, in order to escape his arrest and return to that Territory. He feigned insanity and had no difficulty in getting sent there. He was subsequently discovered by an officer who came with a requisition for his return to prison. I have not learned the particulars of his committal to the Asylum, though I presume it was done in the usual way. Two householders of the county from which he was sent doubtless made the application in writing under oath to a County Judge, setting forth that by reason of insanity he was suffering from neglect and exposure, and that it was unsafe for him to be at large; that the County Judge caused him to be brought before him, and at the same time caused to appear two or more competent physicians and the Prosecuting attorney of the District, and they proceeded to examine him, and that the physicians after careful examination and thorough diagnosis of his case, certified upon oath that he was insane; by which device hi succeeded in smuggling himself into what he supposed to be a secure place of concealment.
This circumstance is furnished as an illustration of the loose and careless manner in which the law upon that subject is administered. And I apprehend that such will always be the case as long as the State is made to bear the expense of taking the patient to the Asylum, and of keeping him there. If the counties were compelled to pay it, more prudence and caution would be exercised in the matter. In no case should the State be made liable for expense in carrying a patient to the Asylum or a convict to the Penitentiary, as that duty is performed by county officers, and in the execution of the judgments and sentences of courts for counties.
In former messages I have deprecated the practice of making appropriations from the funds before they were realized. Also the practice of applying funds to a different purpose from that for which they were raised. I have had occasion to veto two different bills each providing for the appropriation of a sum of money to construct a fish ladde4r at the Willamette Falls, as no funds were provided from which they could be taken, and they wou8ld consequently have had to have been taken from funds raised for and entirely different purpose in order to have effectuated the object intended.
I still adhere to these views. But at this time there is the hundred and ten thousand dollars excess in the current revenue fund before referred to, which might, I think, consistently with these views, be devoted to any purpose calculated to promote the general good of the State. I do no wish it to be understood, however, that any part of it should be trifled away at the whim or caprice of any one. It should be touched sparingly. A sufficient amount of it should be retained to furnish the State Insane Asylum as before suggested; also to pay the expense of the present session of the Legislative Assembly, and to pay for the first quarter of the current expenses of the State, as the present tax for that purpose will not be realized in the time to meet the payment of these expenses as they mature.
But the amount specified in the said bills of appropriation for the fish ladder which I believe was two thousand dollars, might properly be appropriated out of said excess. I do not know how meritorious the measure was. But it was passed by two successive Legislatures and I suppose is regarded as important. Besides this the State Agricultural Society is in great need to aid and should receive it. This society was organized for a highly beneficial purpose. It was designed to promote the farming and manufacturing interests of the country, and is a very worthy and meritorious enterprise. No one will doubt that it has had a salutary influence.
It has been unfortunate in its financial affairs, owing to circumstances which human foresight could not provide against. Unfavorable weather at the time send fort holding its annual fair, occurring several years in succession, interfered materially with the attendance and the expense incurred in providing therefore occasioned large losses. It can however be made a success, and will be if properly supported. An appropriation in its favor of a few thousand dollars at this time, would be a valuable assistance and I very much doubt whether a portion of the excess in the fund referred to, could be employed to a better purpose.
I hope you will not overlook this subject, but that you will render such assistance to the undertaking as will give to the officers and members of the society renewed encouragement, and will relieve it to some extent from its present embarrassment.
There are many other matters of general interest to which your attention might be called, but they will doubtless occur to you without any suggestion on my part.
We have cause for congratulation on account of the promising condition of our State. There has never been a period in its history when its prosperity was so unmistakable assured. Every surrounding indicates thrift. Its rivers and harbors are being opened and improved. The Willamette is navigable during a great portion of the year from Eugene City to its confluence with the Columbia, a distance of nearly one hundred and fifty miles. The Columbia, when the canal and locks now being built at the Cascades are completed, will be open to free navigation for a distance of more the two hundred miles. And another improvement at The Dalles, which is certain to be made in the near future, will add several hundred miles more, extending along almost the entire northern boundary of the State, thence up into the interior of Washington Territory, and by one of its branches, which is also navigable, touching and important shipping point in Northern Idaho, thus connecting remote sections of the interior country with the sea by a continuous line of river navigation.
The railroad enterprises that are being prosecuted within it limits, with those already built, will extend three lines across it, and with their connections will constitute that number of through routes to the Atlantic seaboard. These several and influential means will open wide all the avenues of its commerce, will accelerate the settlement of its extensive territory and develop its inexhaustible resources.
With these unparalleled advantages, the generosity of nature, munificence of the general government, and adventurous and enterprising people, the future is secure if we faithfully discharge our duty. But, however fortunate we may be in these respects , the State may yet never accomplish the great objects for which it was organized. To be successful in the respect, the honor and dignity of its government must be maintained. It must enforce order, insure justice and promote the general welfare. It must not burden the various industries of the State b y oppressive taxation, but leave the agricultural pursuits, the manufacturing interests, the commerce and carrying trade free from all unjust exactions.
The progress and prosperity of the State depend wholly upon individual enterprise; upon the industry and energy of its citizens. They can not expect direct personal benefit from its government, not should they solicit it. They have the right, however, to demand that its protecting aegis be thrown around them, that they be secure in their lives, t heir liberties, and their hard earned acquisitions, and that the revenues they have contributed for its support shall not be devoured by schemers, jobbers and idle cormorants, but be faithfully and honestly applied to the purposes for which they were raised.
In taking my leave of State affairs I do not renounce that interest. I had in their successful management at the beginning of my term. My connection with them, I believe, has increased it. I can say with truth and candor that the circumstance of my going out of office has not abated in the least , my desire to see a faithful and successful administration of the State government. I sincerely hope that my successor may be more fortunate in accomplishing that end than I have been, and I now assure him that his efforts in that direction will receive my ardent sympathy and earnest support; and that all his official acts will be viewed by me in the light of that charity which is kind, which thinketh no evil; and which I implore may be liberally exercised by others in their retrospective view of my own official acts.
W. W. THAYER