Governor George L. Woods' Administration

Governor's Message, 1868

Source: Message of Gov. George L. Woods to the Legislative Assembly, Fifth Regular Session, September 1868, Salem, Oregon, W.A. McPherson, State Printer, 1868.


Salem, Oregon, Sept. 14, 1868.

Gentlemen of the Senate and House of Representatives:

With cordial greeting I welcome you, on your coming together at the State Capital. In thus assembling to discharge the duties devolving upon us under the Constitution, it should be our first act to make known our gratitude to Almighty God for His goodness to us since last we met, and to ask his guidance in all that we do at this assembling. We have been the favored ones of the Republic. Neither War, nor Famine, nor Pestilence, have come within our borders. Peace, and Health, and Plenty, have held undisturbed dominion over us. And it gives me pleasure to say that the people of Oregon have not been unmindful of these blessings. Everywhere within our borders the hand of industry has wrought diligently, and a rapid development of all the material resources of our State has been the result. And as the servants of the people, and for the time being the custodians of their interests, it becomes our duty to exercise the powers thus conferred upon us in such manner as shall do the greatest good to the people whom we represent.

In my judgment, but little legislation is necessary at this session. A statute-book overburdened with needless enactments is a public nuisance. Some slight changes may be necessary in order to perfect our system, but alterations should only be made where the necessity is apparent. The general good requires tat but few innovations be made upon the statute. Nothing so tends to the security of personal rights as laws fixed and well defined, while constant changes unsettle the public mind, and involve everything in uncertainty.

I take great pleasure in communicating to you that the Indian war which for years has been carried on by the savages in the eastern portion of our State, resulting in the destruction of so much life and property, and to which I so earnestly called the attention of the last Legislative Assembly, has been brought to a happy termination. At its session in 1866, the Legislature passed a resolution authorizing the Governor to call out troops in case of emergency. Auxiliary to this, and in view of the necessity which I knew existed, I urged the Legislative Assembly to make an appropriation sufficient to enable me to respond to the appeals for help that were constantly being made by the citizens of the counties of Grant, Baker, and Union; but for reasons unknown to me no appropriation was made and I was left powerless.

The State, by every principle of right, is bound to give protection to all its citizens, and in my judgment a fearful responsibility rests somewhere for the long continued and fearful destruction life and property by the hostile Indians upon our eastern borders.

Under the circumstances, I cold only appeal to the United States military authorities. Upon them I urged the absolute necessity for immediate and vigorous measures to be adopted. And in justice to the Commander of the Department of Columbia, permit me to say that every call for assistance was promptly responded to, and everything done which could be done, to procure the only lasting peace which can be procured with hostile Indians - whip them into submission.
Too much credit cannot be given to Brevet Major-General George Crook for his courage, fidelity and untiring efforts in that behalf. Nor would I forget in this connection to mention the officers and men of his command, all of whom have done noble service, and deserve the thanks of the people of this State.

The people of Oregon may well congratulate themselves that a war which has proven such a hindrance to the development of one of the best portions of our State, and so destructive of life and property, has been brought to so happy a termination. A new era will now dawn upon eastern Oregon, and her vast fields, hitherto unoccupied, rich in silver and gold, and inexhaustible pasturage, will offer new inducements to the minder and the husbandman.

On the first of October, 1864, the Legislature authorized and directed the Governor to contract with Drs. Hawthorne & Loryea for keeping, care, and medical treatment of all such insane and idiotic persons as should be sent to the Insane Asylum by the authority of law, for a period of four years and two months. That contract was awarded by my predecessor as the law directed. I therefore call your attention to the fact that the contract with Drs. Hawthorne & Loryea will expire on the first of December next, and recommend that suitable and proper arrangements be made for the care and treatment of these wards of the State. Humanity requires that everything which can be done should be done to alleviate their suffering and restore them to reason and their friends. I therefore express the hope that the power vested in you, in this behalf, will be so wielded as to do the greatest good to these unfortunate beings.

It is my duty to state, in this connection, that the Asylum, under the management and direction of Drs. Hawthorne & Loryea, has, in my judgment, been conducted in the most satisfactory manner. For further particulars in this connection, I would respectfully call your attention to the report of Drs. Hawthorne & Loryea, and also the report of Dr. J. S. Giltner, Visiting Physician, copies of which are herewith submitted.

The Constitution requires that among other public buildings, an asylum for the insane shall be erected at the capital of the State. A site has been purchased for that purpose. The location is a good one. And as soon as the financial strength of the State will permit, I think its best interests demand that suitable buildings be erected, and the management thereof be left to the exclusive control of the Legislative Assembly, as contemplated by the Constitution. It will necessarily take considerable time to erect suitable buildings, and as the contract for the keeping and treatment of the inmates of the Asylum will expire on the first day of December next, it will, in all probability, be found necessary for the Legislature to enter into a new contract with private parties for their keeping and treatment until such time as the Asylum shall be completed and the State ready to take charge of them.

Should it be found necessary to so contract with private parties, I would respectfully recommend that the price now paid, per capita, be reduced. After a thorough investigation of the subject, I am satisfied that the insane can be kept for a less sum than that now paid.

Since my accession to office, the Penitentiary has, I trust, been managed in such a manner as will give general satisfaction to you and to the people of the State. Beginning without buildings, and without systematized labor, a suitable temporary building has been erected, the best of police regulations have been established, insuring the safe-keeping of convicts, and labor has been so directed, aside from extensive permanent improvements made for the State, as to pay fifty per cent of the entire expenditures of the Penitentiary.

I should fail to do my duty if, in this connection, I did not commend the Superintendent, Wardens, and officers of the Penitentiary for their vigilant and constant attention to the duties of their respective offices, and for the faithful manner in which they have served the State.
There is nothing, which the people more earnestly desire, than that criminals, sentenced to imprisonment for violation of law, should be safely kept. To that end, I earnestly recommend that suitable building be erected as soon as circumstances will permit, and that an appropriation be made therefor.

In order the more perfectly to secure the convicts, the Superintendent of the Penitentiary, in the autumn of 1866, leased the use of the "Gardner of Shackle" for the State, until this session of the Legislature. I have no hesitation in saying that the use of that shackle was indispensable to the safe-keeping of prisoners, and therefore respectfully recommend that an appropriation sufficient to meet the indebtedness thus incurred, be made.

The experience of the last two years teaches me that convict labor can be employed in the erection of the Public Buildings with a great saving to the State, if judiciously managed. Under the system now established, bricks of the best quality can be manufactured, in vast quantities, by the convicts, at a low figure. And inasmuch as the early erection and completion of the State Buildings is a public necessity, and believing, as I do, that prison labor can be more profitably employed in the furtherance of that work than in any other, I earnestly recommend that measures, looking to that end, be adopted.

Section 14 of Article 5 of the Constitution of the State confers upon the Governor the power to grant reprieves, commutations, and pardons, and, in connection therewith, requires that he shall report o the Legislative Assembly each case of reprieve, commutation, and pardon, together with the reasons for granting the same.

In obedience to that requirement, I submit that since the adjournment of the last Legislative Assembly, I have granted in all fifteen pardons, and one commutation; to which should be added one pardon granted by Hon. Samuel E. May, Secretary of State, and Acting Governor, during my absence from the State. The names of the persons pardoned, and commuted, together with the dates, and the reasons therefor, re as follows, to wit:

A. W. Sweet, pardoned on petition, Oct. 27th, 1866

James Buchanan, pardoned because of partial insanity, and recommendation of Dr. H. Carpenter, Attending Physician, Dec. 19th, 1866;

Patrick Brown, commuted from the death-penalty to imprisonment for life, on petition, Dec. 24th, 1866;

Joseph McGraw, pardoned from the county jail of Wasco county, on petition, March 25th, 1867;

Matthias Ming, pardoned on petition, Sept. 25th, 1857;

Henderson Simpson, pardoned on petition, November 26th, 1867;

Jack Long, pardoned on petition, Dec. 6th, 1867;

William Riley, pardoned on petition, and statement of Dr. H. Carpenter, Attending Physician, that he was afflicted with a disease of the heart, which disease was greatly aggravated by imprisonment, with a recommendation that he be pardoned, Dec. 6th, 1867;

Lorenzo D. Murphy, pardoned on petition, December 6th, 1867;

Frank Bolton, pardoned on petition, Dec. 16th, 1867;
John c. Hannon, pardoned, on petition, by Secretary of State, and, at the time, Acting Governor of the State, April 2nd, 1868;

William Connor, pardoned on petition, May 25th, 1868;

John C. McCarty, pardoned on petition, June 27th, 1868;

John McCurran, pardoned on petition, and being but a child, July 8th, 1868;

William Bennett, pardoned on petition, Aug. 4th, 1868;

James Gregg, pardoned on petition, Aug. 4th, 1868.

The pardoning power is one of great responsibility, and ought to be exercised in those cases alone where justice demands it. And in man cases, so complicated are the attending circumstances, on the one hand, and so strong the appeals of humanity on the other, that it is hard to determine whether they are cases warranting the intervention of Executive clemency or not.

In view of this fact, the pardoning power has been used sparingly.

Oftentimes the appeals of humanity should be hushed, lest justice be offended.

For a more detailed statement of the management of the Penitentiary, I beg to call your attention to the very elaborate report of M.P. Berry, Esp., Superintendent of the Penitentiary, a copy of which is herewith transmitted. And would respectfully suggest, in this connection, that the recommendations made therein are worthy of your serious consideration.

By an Act of the Legislative Assembly of October 15th, 1862, the Governor was appointed a Land Commissioner; and, as such, authorized to locate all lands to which this State was entitled by Act of Congress. And, by the same Act, the Governor, Secretary of State, and State Treasurer, were constituted a Board of Commissioners for the sale of such lands and the management of the Common School Fund. The requirements of the law have been faithfully observed in every particular, and a vast amount of labor performed, a full report of which is herewith transmitted, together with such recommendations as experience in the workings of the Board has suggested, to which your special attention is invited. The duties and responsibilities imposed upon the Commissioners are great and onerous, and I cannot forbear calling your attention to the fact that no provision has been made for their compensation. It is not the intention of the Constitution that labor should be performed without just compensation; and, independent of the Constitution, it is not right to require it. I hesitate not, therefore, to say that provision should be made for paying the Commissioners for their services.

In reference to the workings of our Common School system, I have but little to communicate.
The reports from the School Superintendents of the various counties, are so meager, that it is impossible for me to give you any information upon the subject. From a few of the counties full and satisfactory reports have been received; while from others statements so indefinite were returned as to be of no value; and by some no reports were made whatever.

In this connection, to the end that uniformity may obtain, I would respectfully suggest that a general form for the reports of County School Superintendents be prescribed by law. A good system of Common Schools is indispensable to a free people. And I trust no paints will be spared to so perfect our system that a good English education shall be within the reach of every child in the State. All good argument is in favor of Free Schools. And I earnestly hope, and believe, that the time is near at hand when Oregon can boast of as good a system of Common Schools as any State in the Republic.

I respectfully call your attention to the reports of the State Treasurer and Secretary of State, which contains a full statement of the financial operations of the State since the last Session of the Legislative Assembly. And in view of the prosperous condition of the State, and its freedom from indebtedness, I cannot too strongly urge upon you the importance of economical measures, and a careful avoidance of everything calculated to increase the burden of taxation. I take great pleasure in assuring you that I will gladly cooperate with you, at all times, in any measure which has for its object the promotion of the general welfare, in the reduction of taxation, or in anything pertaining thereto which shall be deemed just and proper.

There is, perhaps, no subject inviting such general attention in this State as that of railroads. All see the importance of, and feel the necessity for cheap and easy transportation. A general system of railroads in Oregon is an absolute necessity. And am proud to know that the people are thoroughly aroused upon this subject. There are at this time as many as six different railroad enterprises within the State in process of execution. The Salt Lake and Columbia River Railroad, connecting the Union Pacific Railroad with the navigable waters of the Columbia river; the Oregon Branch of the Central Pacific Railroad, running through the Rouge River, Umpqua and Willamette Valleys to the Columbia River and Puget Sound; the Oregon Central Railroad (West-Side); the Oregon Central Railroad (East-Side); the Salem and McMinnville Railroad, and the St. Helen's and Hillsboro Railroad - all of which are of vast importance to the people of the State. And while rival companies may be disposed to waste their substance in needless litigation, it is the manifest duty of the State, rising above merely local ambitions, and petty jealousies, to foster each and all alike. And I respectfully but earnestly recommend that you give all the encouragement you rightfully can to these great enterprises; avoiding all preferences, and seeking only the general good of the people.

All desire a rapid development of the State. For that purpose we need population. To obtain population but little effort is required. In my judgment a judicious and practical system of immigration ought to be fostered by the State. To that end I would respectfully recommend that a Bureau of Immigration be established, whose duty it shall be to prepare statistical information concerning the resources of the State, and the inducements for immigration; and that an agent be appointed to visit all parts of the Republic, in the interests of such Bureau, and that a reasonable compensation be allowed such agent therefor. It may be argued that the organization of such an establishment would be a needless expenditure of the public moneys, and, therefore improper. I hope, however, that a more reasonable view of the subject will obtain.
That a large immigration can be induced, I am led to believe. And, if so, the expenditures made in that behalf would be a good investment. Aside from the development of the vast resources of our State, which would necessarily result from an influx of population, their poll-tax alone, to say nothing of the revenue arising from the fruits of the labor of such newly acquired citizens, would, in short time more than replace the amount expended. Most of the sister States have established such an organization, and are profiting largely thereby; and it is our duty to see that Oregon runs not behind in the great race. I trust you will give the subject your serious consideration, and so act as best to promote the general interests of the State.

My attention has been called, by the proper authorities of the General Government, to the fact that it is the purpose to erect buildings for a United States Branch Mint at Dalles City, a Custom House at Astoria, and a Court house, Custom House, and Post Office at Portland, and some Light-Houses along our western coast. Before this work, so long, and so much needed, can be begun, the State will have to give its consent, by enactment. I recommend, therefore, that appropriate legislation be had upon the subject, and every assistance rendered which will be calculated to further enterprises so important.

Permit me, also, to call your attention to the fact that there is now no provision in the laws of the State for the admission of United States convicts into the State Penitentiary. The laws of the United States provide for the maintenance of such prisoners, and give the officers of the State Prison the proper authority in the premises. I therefore recommend that proper legislation be had upon that subject.

I desire to call your attention o the condition of the estate of Finice Caruthers, late of Multnomah county, deceased. Sec. 7 of title 1, of an Act entitled "An Act to Regulate the descent of Real property, &c., passed October 24,1864," provides, in effect, that if the intestate leaves no lineal descendants, or kindred, his real estate shall escheat to the State. In the fall of 160, Finice Caruthers, an old resident of Multnomah county, died instate, leaving a large landed estate, lying principally in Multnomah county, but partly in Lane and Washington counties. About three hundred acres of these lands are within the limits of the city of Portland.
The administrator of said estate, in 1867, filed his final account in the County Court of Multnomah county, in which it was represented that said Finice Caruthers left no lineal descendents or kindred, and that the estate, amounting to over one hundred thousand dollars, had escheated to the State of Oregon. The Court directed the administrator to retain possession of such estate, in pursuance of section 2 of title 3 of an act entitled "act for the recovery of real and personal property escheated to the state and for the disposition of estates," &c., passed Oct. 17, 1862. - Subsequent to the settlement of the administrator's account, persons assuming to represent certain alleged heirs of Finice Caruthers, made claim to an undivided twenty-three sixtieths (23-60) of the entire estate, and instituted proceedings for the recovery thereof. This claim is based upon the assumption that the real name of the deceased Finice Caruthers, always so known and called in Oregon, was Finice Thomas, that that the persons now making this claim are a portion of this first and second cousins and their assignees, and as such entitled to receive twenty-three sixtieths (23-60) of said estate.

It was made my duty by sections 2 and 8 of the act before referred to, to authorize the proper District Attorney to take the steps necessary for the protection of the rights of the State, and to employ counsel to assist. I therefore directed the District Attorney of the Fourth Judicial District to appear in all actions, suits and proceedings pertaining to the enforcement of the rights of the State; and, in the fall of 1867, I employed the law firm of Mitchell, Dolph & Smith, of Portland, to assist the District Attorney in all matters pertaining to the same.

Various actions and proceedings have been commenced by the claimants, in the courts of Multnomah County. There is, at this time, one of these cases pending on appeal before the Supreme Court of the State. There are, also, three cases pending in the Circuit Court for Multnomah County. I am advised by the attorneys for the State that, in their judgment, the whole claim is fraudulent, and can be defeated in the courts.

Soon after the decease of Finice Caruthers, A.J. Knott and R.J. Ladd, of Portland, set up a claim, adversely to the estate, to a portion of the land - about 200 acres - included in such estate, and two cases, involving the title of this portion, are now pending in the Supreme Court of the United States. These cases are also being attended to by the firm of Mitchell, Dolph & Smith, under employment by me. There being no money on hand belonging to the estate, the lands have been sold for taxes the two years last past.

I would, therefore, urge upon you the importance of making provision for the redemption of the lands so sold, and for the compensation of the attorneys employed, and other expenses incurred in the enforcement of the rights of the State to this valuable estate.

In presenting this brief review of the condition of the State, possibly some things of importance have been overlooked; but it is your privilege to extend a helping hand. There is enterprise to be fostered, industry to be stimulated and encouraged, order to be maintained, and the broad principles of justice, equality and freedom to be enforced. That you will faithfully perform the duties before you, by judicious and wholesome legislation, strive to promote the general welfare, I have no doubt. Do your duty, and the approbation of a generous people and the protection of a just and all-wise Providence will be yours.


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