He was inaugurated as Governor of Ohio, in the rotunda of the Capitol, January 13, 1868. On that occasion, in the presence of the Legislature and judicial departments of the State Government, and a large concourse of citizens, he delivered the following inaugural address:
Gentlemen of the Senate and House of Representatives, and Fellow-Citizens:
The duty devolved on the governor by the constitution of communicating by message to the General Assembly the condition of the State, and of recommending such measures as he deems expedient, has been performed at the present session by my predecessor, Governor Cox, in a manner so thorough and comprehensive that I do not feel called upon to enter upon a discussion of questions touching the administration of the State government.
I can think of no better reward for the faithful performance of the duties of the office which I am about to assume than that which, I believe, my immediate predecessor is entitled to enjoy,—the knowledge that in the opinion of his fellow-citizens of all parties he has, by his culture, his ability, and his integrity, honored the office of Governor of Ohio, and that he now leaves it with a conscience satisfied with the discharge of duty.
I congratulate the members of the General Assembly that many of the questions which have hitherto largely engaged the attention of the law-making power, and divided the people of the State, have, in the progress of events, either been settled, or, in the general judgment of the people, been transferred for investigation and decision to the National government. The State debt, taxation, the currency, and internal improvements, for many years furnished the prominent topics of discussion and controversy in Ohio. In the year 1845 the State debt reached its highest point. It amounted to $20,018,515.67, and in the same year the total taxable property of the State was $136,142,666. With a disordered currency, with business prostrated, with labor often insufficiently rewarded, the burden of this debt was severely felt, and questions in regard to it naturally entered into the partisan struggles of the time. Now the State debt is $11,031,941.56; the taxable property of the State amounts to $1,138,754,779; and there is no substantial difference of opinion among the people as to the proper mode of dealing with this subject.
State taxation was formerly the occasion of violent party contests. Now men of all parties concur in the opinion that, as a general rule, every citizen ought to be taxed in proportion to the actual value of his property, without regard to the form in which he prefers to invest it; and differences as to the measures by which the principle is practically applied rarely enter into political struggles in Ohio.
Party conflicts and debates as to State laws in relation to banking and the currency constitute a large part of the political history of the State. But the events of the last few years have convinced those who are in favor of a paper currency that in the present condition of the country it can best be furnished by the National Government, either by means of National banks or in the form of legal tender treasury notes. State legislatures are therefore relieved from the consideration of this difficult and perplexing subject.
Internal improvements made by State authority, so essential to growth and prosperity in the early history of the State, no longer require much consideration by the General Assembly. Works of a magnitude too great to be undertaken by individual enterprise will hereafter be, for the most part, accomplished by the government of the Nation.
The part which patriotism required Ohio to take in the war to suppress rebellion demanded important and frequent acts of legislation. Fortunately the transactions of the State growing out of the war have been, or probably can be, closed under existing laws, with very little, if any, additional legislation.
If not mistaken as to the result of this brief reference to a few of the principal subjects of the legislation of the past, the present General Assembly has probably a better opportunity than any of its predecessors to avoid the evil of too much legislation. Excessive legislation has become a great evil, and I submit to the judgment of the General Assembly the wisdom of avoiding it.
One important question of principle as old as our State government still remains unsettled. All are familiar with the conflicts to which the policy of making distinctions between citizens in civil and political rights has given rise in Ohio. The first effort of those who opposed this policy was to secure to all citizens equality of civil rights. The result of the struggle that ensued is thus given by an eminent and honored citizen of our State: "The laws which created disabilities on the part of negroes in respect of civil rights were repealed in the year 1849, after an obstinate contest, quite memorable in the history of the State. Their repeal was looked upon with great disfavor by a large portion of the people as a dangerous innovation upon a just and well-settled policy, and a vote in that direction consigned many members of the legislature to the repose of private life. But I am not aware that any evil results justified these apprehensions, or that any effort was ever made to impose the disabilities. On the contrary, the new policy, if I may call it so, has been found so consistent with justice to the negroes and the interests of the whites that no one—certainly no party—in Ohio, would be willing to abandon it."
An effort to secure to all citizens equal political rights was made in the State constitutional convention of 1851. Only thirteen out of one hundred and eight members in that body voted in its favor; and it is probable that less than one-tenth of the voters of the State would then have voted to strike the word "white" out of the constitution.
The last General Assembly submitted to the people a proposition to amend the State constitution so as to abolish distinctions in political rights based upon color. The proposition contained several clauses not pertinent to its main purpose, under which, if adopted, it was believed by many that the number of white citizens who would be disfranchised would be much greater than the number of colored citizens who would be allowed the right of suffrage. Notwithstanding the proposition was thus hampered, it received 216,987 votes, or nearly forty-five per cent of all the votes cast in the State. This result shows great progress in public sentiment since the adoption of the constitution of 1851, and inspires the friends of equal political rights with a confident hope that in 1871, when the opportunity is given to the people, by the provisions of the constitution, to call a constitutional convention, the organic law of the State will be so amended as to secure in Ohio to all the governed an equal voice in the government.
But whatever reasonable doubts may be entertained as to the probable action of the people of Ohio on the question of an extension of the right of suffrage when a new State constitution shall be formed, I submit with confidence that nothing has occurred which warrants the opinion that the ratification by the last General Assembly of the fourteenth amendment to the constitution of the United States was not in accordance with the deliberate and settled convictions of the people. That amendment was, after the amplest discussion upon an issue distinctly presented, sanctioned by a large majority of the people. If any fact exists which justifies the belief that they now wish that the resolution should be repealed, by which the assent of Ohio was given to that important amendment, it has not been brought to the attention of the public. Omitting all reference to other valuable provisions, it may be safely said that the section which secures among all the States of the Union equal representation in the House of Representatives and in the electoral colleges in proportion to the voting population, is deemed of vital importance by the people of Ohio. Without now raising the grave question as to the right of a State to withdraw its assent, which has been constitutionally given to a proposed amendment of the Federal constitution, I respectfully suggest that the attempt which is now making to withdraw the assent of Ohio to the fourteenth amendment to the Federal constitution be postponed until the people shall again have an opportunity to give expression to their will. In my judgment, Ohio will never consent that the whites of the South, a large majority of whom were lately in rebellion, shall exercise in the government of the Nation as much political power, man for man, as the same number of white citizens of Ohio, and be allowed in addition thereto thirty members of Congress and of the electoral colleges, for colored people deprived of every political privilege.
In conclusion, I am happy to be able to adopt as my own the sentiments so fitly expressed by the speaker of the House of Representatives of the present General Assembly. I sincerely hope that the legislation of the General Assembly and the administration of the State government in all its branches may be characterized by economy, wisdom, and prudence; that statesmanship, patriotism, and philanthropy may be manifest in every act, and that all may be done under the guidance of that Providence which has hitherto so signally preserved and blessed our State and Nation.
Certain principles are laid down in this address. One is that every citizen ought to be taxed in proportion to the actual value of his property. Another is that too much legislation is an evil to be avoided. A third is that equality of civil rights justly belongs to all citizens, notwithstanding the vote at the recent election to the contrary; and a fourth, that representation according to voting population is a sound principle, and the people of Ohio must stand by the Fourteenth Amendment to the National Constitution. The Democratic legislature were endeavoring to withdraw Ohio's previous ratification. This admirable address needs no further comment.
Governor Hayes took an active part in the State canvass of 1868, being assisted by Hon. James G. Blaine, who spoke with marked effect in Columbus, October 9th.
At the session of the legislature in November, 1868, the governor delivered his first annual message.
Fellow-citizens of the General Assembly:
Upon your assembling to enter again upon the duty of legislating for the welfare of the people of Ohio, the Governor is required by the constitution to communicate to you the condition of the State, and to recommend such measures as he shall deem expedient. The reports of the executive officers of the State, and of the heads of the State institutions, are required by law to be made to the Governor on or before the 20th day of November of each year. Since that date, sufficient time has not elapsed for the publication of the reports, and I shall therefore not be able, at the opening of your present session, to lay before you a detailed exposition of the affairs of the various departments of the State government. It will be my purpose in this communication to invite your attention to a few brief suggestions in relation to some measures which are deemed important, and which may be considered and acted upon, if you think it advisable, in advance of the publication of the official reports.
The financial affairs of the State government are in a satisfactory condition. The balance in the treasury on the 15th of November, 1867, was $677,990.79; the receipts during the last fiscal year were $4,347,484.82; making the total amount of funds in the treasury, during the year, $5,025,475.61.
The disbursements during the year have been $4,455,354.86; which sum has been paid out of the treasury from the several funds, as follows, viz:
General revenue fund $1,518,210.35 Canal fund 14,939.39 National road fund 18,829.36 Sinking fund 1,472,226.33 Common school fund 1,426,868.80 Bank redemption fund 16.95 Soldiers' claims fund 3,781.68 Soldiers' allotment fund 482.00 Balance in treasury, November 15, 1868 570,120.75 —————— Total 5,025,475.61
The amount of the public funded debt, November 15, 1867, was $11,031,941.56
During the year, the redemptions were— On the loan of 1860 $14,650.67 Of foreign union loan of 1868 191,166.00 Of domestic loan of 1868 136,088.13 Of loan of 1870 157,361.33 ————— 499,266.13 ————— Debt outstanding, November 15, 1868 $10,532,675.43
Small temporary appropriations are required as promptly as practicable for each of the following objects, the existing appropriations having been exhausted, viz: Expenses of the Presidential election; expenses of the General Assembly, trustees of benevolent institutions, care of state-house, gas for state-house, expenses of legislative committees, binding for the State, and the new idiotic asylum.
In pursuance of an act passed March 18, 1867, a board of commissioners, consisting of Aaron F. Perry, of Hamilton county, Charles E. Glidden, of Mahoning county, and James H. Godman, auditor of State, was appointed by my predecessor, Governor Cox, whose duty it was "to revise all the laws of this State relating to the assessment and taxation of property, the collection, safe-keeping, and disbursement of the revenues, and all the laws constituting the financial system of the State," and to report their proceedings to the next session of the General Assembly. The report of the commission was laid before you at your last session. It disclosed many imperfections and inconsistencies in the existing legislation touching the finances and the urgent necessity for an elaborate revision of that legislation. Their report was accompanied by eight separate bills, consolidating the present laws, removing contradictions, and supplying defects, but introducing no radical change in the general principles of our financial system. These bills have already been somewhat considered by both branches of the General Assembly, but no definite action upon them has yet been had. I respectfully recommend an early consideration of the bills, and their adoption, with such amendments as, in your judgment, the public interests may require.
The destruction of the central lunatic asylum by fire, during the night of the 18th inst., causing the death, by suffocation, of six of the patients, and incalculable distress and suffering to the remainder, will require investigation and prompt action on your part. In rebuilding the asylum, the erection of a fire-proof building will occur to you as alike the suggestion of prudence and humanity.
This calamity also suggests the propriety of examining the condition of the other institutions of the State, with a view to providing them with every proper means of security against a similar disaster.
The interests of common school education, in my opinion, will be promoted by the early adoption of county superintendency, as provided in a bill on that subject now pending in one branch of the General Assembly. I therefore earnestly recommend the consideration and passage of the bill.
The commissioner of common schools is required, in the discharge of his duties, to pay out each year, for traveling expenses, about $700. The propriety of refunding to him, out of the State treasury, his traveling expenses, will probably not be called in question.
During the last summer, a cattle disease, commonly known as the Spanish or Texas cattle fever, occasioned much alarm in the grazing counties of the State, and in a few localities caused serious loss. On the recommendation of the State board of agriculture, in the absence of effective legislation, it was deemed proper to appoint commissioners to take such measures as the law authorized to prevent the spread of the disease. A proclamation was issued to prevent, as far as practicable, the introduction, movement, or transportation of diseased cattle within the limits of the State. The railroad companies and the owners of stock promptly complied with the requirements referred to, and the injury sustained by the cattle interest was happily not extensive. It is believed that, upon investigation, it will be found necessary to confer, by law, upon a board of commissioners appointed for that purpose, or upon the executive committee of the State board of agriculture, power to "stamp out" the disease wherever it appears, by destroying all infected cattle, and to prohibit or regulate the transportation or movement of stock within the State during the prevalence of the disease. To the end that proper investigation may be had, I respectfully recommend that authority be given to appoint five commissioners to attend a meeting of commissioners of other States, to be held for the consideration of this subject, at Springfield, Illinois, on the 1st of December next—said commissioners to report the results of their investigation in time for action by the present General Assembly.
I submit to your consideration the importance of providing for a thorough and comprehensive geological survey of the State. Many years ago a partial survey was prosecuted under many difficulties and embarrassments, which was fruitful of valuable results. It is, beyond doubt, that such a work as it is now practicable to carry out will, by making known the mining, manufacturing, and agricultural resources of the State, lead to their development to an extent which will, within a few years, amply reimburse the State for its cost.
The annual report of pardons granted and the commutations of the sentences of convicts required by law; a statement in detail of the expenditure of the governor's contingent fund; the semi-annual report of the commissioners of the sinking fund, for May; copies of proclamations issued during the last year; and an acknowledgment of the presentation to the State of several of the portraits of former governors of Ohio, are transmitted herewith.
The most important subject of legislation which, in my judgment, requires the attention of the General Assembly at its present session, relates to the prevention of frauds upon the elective franchise. Intelligent men of all parties are persuaded that at the recent important State and National elections great abuses of the right of suffrage were practiced. I am not prepared to admit that the reports commonly circulated and believed in regard to such abuses, would, so far as the elections in Ohio are concerned, be fully sustained by a thorough investigation of the facts. But it is not doubted that even at the elections in our own State frauds were perpetrated to such an extent that all good citizens earnestly desire that effective measures may be adopted by you to prevent their repetition. No elaborate attempt to portray the consequences of this evil is required. If it is allowed to increase, the confidence of the people in the purity of elections will be lost, and the exercise of the right of suffrage will be neglected. To corrupt the ballot box is to destroy our free institutions. Let all good citizens, therefore, unite in enacting and enforcing laws which will secure honest elections.
I submit to your judgment the propriety of such amendments to the election laws as will provide, first, for the representation of minorities in the boards of the judges and clerks of the elections; and second, for the registration of all the lawful voters in each township, ward, and election precinct, prior to the election.
That the boards of elections ought to be so constituted that minorities as well as majorities will have a fair representation in them, is so plainly just that in some parts of the State, even in times of the highest political excitement, such representation has been obtained, in the absence of law, by arrangement between the committees of the rival political parties. It is not probable that any mode of selecting judges and clerks of elections can be adopted which will, in every case, accomplish this object. But in all cases where the strength of the minority is half, or nearly half as great as that of the majority, the desired representation of the minority may be insured with sufficient certainty by several different plans. For example, it may be provided that at the election of the three judges who are to decide all questions at the polls, each elector may be allowed to vote for two candidates only, and that the three candidates having the highest number of votes shall be declared elected, and in like manner that, at the election of the two clerks of elections, each elector may vote for one candidate only, and that the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes shall be declared elected.
I do not lay much stress on the particular plan here suggested, but your attention is invited to the importance of a fair representation of the minority in all boards of elections, not doubting that your wisdom will be able to devise a suitable measure to accomplish it.
All parts of the State of Ohio are now so closely connected with each other, and with other States, by lines of railway, that great and constantly increasing facilities are afforded for the perpetration of the class of frauds on the elective franchise, commonly known as "colonizing." In the cities, men called "repeaters," it is said, are paid wages according to the number of unlawful votes they succeed in casting at the same election.
The increase of population adds to the difficulty of detecting and preventing fraudulent voting, in whatever mode it may be practiced. It is manifestly impossible, amid the hurry and excitement of an election, that the legal right to vote, of every person who may offer his ballot, should be fully and fairly investigated and decided. The experience of many of the older States has proved that this can best be done at some period prior to the election, so as to give to every legal voter, in an election precinct, an opportunity to challenge the claim of any person whose right is deemed questionable. Laws to accomplish this have been in force in several other States for many years, and have been carried out successfully and with the general approval of the people. Believing that an act providing for the registration of all legal voters is the most effective remedy yet devised for the prevention of frauds on the sacred right of suffrage, and that a registry law can be so framed that it will deprive no citizen, either native born or naturalized, of his just rights, I respectfully recommend to your earnest consideration the propriety of enacting such a law.
The comprehensive geological survey of the State recommended in this message was promptly brought about through the able co-operation of the Hon. Alfred E. Lee, representing Delaware county in the House of Representatives, who drew up and reported a bill on February 9, 1869, making provision for the important object in view. Through the intelligent activity of Governor Hayes and Representative Lee, the bill became a law, April 2, 1869. The thorough scientific survey of the State, since completed under the supervision of Professors Newbury, Andrews, and Orton, has been of immeasurable value in the way of developing the mineral resources of Ohio.
Governor Hayes in this message demands laws to secure honest elections, because "to corrupt the ballot-box is to destroy our free institutions." He recommends laws securing the representation of minorities on election boards, and advocates stringent registry laws.
In the second annual message, delivered at the close of his first term, which we give below, he recommends increased powers to the State board of charities; better provision for the chronic insane; the establishment of a State agricultural college; the founding of a home for soldiers' orphans, and restoring the right of suffrage to soldiers in the national asylum, to college students, and others who had been disfranchised under Democratic legislation. He urged also the ratification by Ohio of the Fifteenth Amendment. We shall speak of the gratifying result of these recommendations in our next chapter.
Fellow-Citizens of the General Assembly:
In obedience to the constitution, I proceed to lay before you the condition of the affairs of the State government, and to recommend such measures as seem to me expedient.
The balance in the State treasury on the 15th of November, 1868 was $570,120.75; the receipts during the last fiscal year were $4,781,614.49; making the total amount of available funds in the treasury during the year ending November 15, 1869, $5,351,735.24.
The disbursements during the year have been $4,913,675.10, which sum has been paid out of the treasury from the several funds as follows, viz:
General revenue fund $1,577,221.18 Canal fund 41,783.74 National road fund 22,069.69 Sinking fund 1,775,938.52 Common school fund 1,496,633.80 Bank redemption fund 28.17 —————— Total $4,913,675.10
Leaving a balance in the treasury, November 15, 1869, of $438,060.14.
The estimates of the auditor of State of receipts and expenditures for the current year are as follows:
Estimated receipts from all sources, including balances $4,791,144.50 Estimated disbursements for all purposes 4,477,899.60 —————— Leaving an estimated balance in the treasury November 15, 1870, of $313,244.90
The amount of the public funded debt of the State, November 15, 1868, was $10,532,675.43. During the last year the fund commissioners have redeemed of the various loans $516,093.57, and have invested in loans not yet due $160,643.59, leaving the total debt yet to be provided for $9,855,938.27.
The whole amount of taxes, including delinquencies, collectible under State laws during the year 1869 was $21,006,332.44. The auditor of State reports the total amount of taxes, including delinquencies, collectible during the current year at $22,810,675.84, an increase of the taxes of 1870 over 1869 of $1,804,353.40.
In 1869 there was collected for the sinking fund, to be applied to the payment of the principal and interest of the State debt, the sum of $1,370,101.12. In the present year there will be collected for the same purpose the sum of $808,826.61, or $561,275.51 less than was collected last year.
A large proportion of the taxes collected from the people are for county, city, and other local purposes, and do not pass through the State treasury, but are disbursed within the counties where they are collected. During the current year the taxes, exclusive of delinquencies, to be collected for all State purposes except for the common school fund, amount to $2,542,025.27, while $18,187,400.92 are to be collected for local purposes.
The foregoing statements from the report of the auditor of State show that the taxation of this year for State purposes other than for payments on the principal and interest of the State debt exceeds the taxation of last year for the same purposes by the sum of $609,601.50, and that taxation for local purposes this year exceeds that of last year for the same purposes by the sum of $1,695,725.38. The local taxes this year are about 44 per cent. greater than they were three years ago, and are 10 per cent. greater than they were last year.
The increase of taxation for State purposes is in part due to the amount collected for the asylum building fund, which exceeds the amount required last year for building purposes by almost $300,000. Making due allowance for this, the important fact remains that both State and local taxes have largely increased.
A remedy for this evil can only be had through the General Assembly. The most important measures to prevent this rapid increase of taxation, which have heretofore been recommended, are a revision of the financial system of the State in accordance with bills prepared by a board of commissioners appointed for that purpose, in pursuance of an act passed March 18, 1867; short sessions of the General Assembly; adequate fixed salaries for all State, county, and municipal officers, without perquisites; and definite and effectual limitations upon the power of county commissioners, city councils, and other local authorities to levy taxes and contract debts.
The constitution makes it the duty of the legislature to restrict the powers of taxation, borrowing money, and the like, so as to prevent their abuse. I respectfully suggest that the present laws conferring these powers on local authorities require extensive modification, in order to comply with this constitutional provision. Two modes of limiting these powers have the sanction of experience. All large expenditures should meet the approval of those who are to bear their burden. Let all extraordinary expenditures therefore be submitted to a vote of the people, and no tax be levied unless approved by a majority of all the voters of the locality to be affected by the tax, at a special election, the number of voters to be ascertained by reference to the votes cast at the State election next preceding such special election. Another mode is to limit the rate of taxation which may be levied and the amount of debt which may be incurred. It has been said that with such restrictions upon the powers of local authorities the legislature will be importuned and its time wasted in hearing applications for special legislation. The ready answer to all such applications by local authorities will be to refer them to their own citizens for a decision of the question. The facility with which affirmative votes can be obtained under the pressure of temporary excitement upon propositions authorizing indebtedness may require further restrictions upon the power to borrow money. It is therefore suggested, for your consideration, to limit the amount of debt for a single purpose, and the total amount for all purposes which any local authority may contract to a certain percentage of the taxable property of such locality.
The evils here considered are not new. Fourteen years ago Governor Medill, in his annual message, used the following language, which is as applicable to county and municipal affairs now as it was when it was written: "The irresponsible and extravagant system of administration which prevails in some of our counties and cities furnishes the principal cause for the exactions which are so generally complained of. There public contracts are given to favorites, which occasion the most lavish expenditures. There also we find officers with incomes which shock all correct ideas of public compensation. These things have their effect upon the general tone of public morals. County reform is a duty enjoined by every consideration of public virtue."
The whole of this important subject is commended to your candid consideration.
The management of the affairs of the penitentiary, during the past year, has been good; discipline has been maintained; under kind and judicious treatment the prisoners have been industrious and orderly, and the pecuniary results are satisfactory. The number of prisoners, on the 31st of October, 1869, was 974, and the number of convicts admitted during the year ending on that day was 347. This is a decrease compared with the preceding year, of 27 in the number of convicts admitted, and of 67 in the number confined in the penitentiary.
The earnings during the year ending October 31, were $175,663.06 The expenses were 143,635.83 ————— Excess of earnings over expenditures $32,027.23
Last year the earnings were $171,037.45 The expenses were 141,794.95 ————— And the excess of earnings over expenses were $29,242.50
A large proportion of the convicts, when admitted, are quite young. The age of about one-third does not exceed twenty-one years. More than two-thirds of the inmates of the prison are now under thirty years of age. It will occur to any one who considers these facts that, under our system of prison discipline, too little effort has heretofore been made to reform these young men. A high authority has said, "No human being is so debased and wicked that he can not be reclaimed." It is believed that, under a wise system, the young, at least, can be reformed and prepared for useful and worthy citizenship. The present system has two capital defects—the mingling in intimate association of the young with the hardened criminals, and the failure to educate the convicts in habits of thrift and self-control. The defects are in the system. The convict, when he leaves the penitentiary, is exposed to greater temptations than ever before, and the result of his prison life is that he has less power to resist evil influences, and, too often, less disposition to resist them. I do not enlarge upon the objections to the present system; it is not claimed to be reformatory. In a recent report, the directors said: "The great mass of convicts still leave the penitentiary apparently as hardened and as dangerous to the State as they were when they were sentenced." The vital question is, how to remove this reproach on our penal legislation. In considering it, I commend to you the remarks of the board of State charities on the Irish convict system. The distinguishing merit of that system is, that "it enlists the co-operation of the prisoner in his own amendment, without withholding from him the punishment due to his crime." If the adoption of that system, with such modifications as our condition requires, is deemed an experiment which it is inexpedient for the State to try until its advantages are better understood, I submit that the least that ought now to be attempted is to provide for a classification of convicts, so as to separate beginners in crime from hardened offenders. Whether this can best be done by alterations and an extension of the present penitentiary or by the erection of a new one, is for your wisdom to determine.
In several other States voluntary associations have been formed to provide for, encourage, and furnish employment to discharged convicts, and their efforts have been of incalculable benefit to this unfortunate class. If a similar association should be formed by the benevolent citizens of Ohio, they will reasonably expect to receive proper assistance from the General Assembly, and in that expectation I trust they will not be disappointed.
The total number of persons of school age in the State, in 1869, was officially reported at 1,028,675—an increase of 11,108 over the previous year. The total number enrolled in the public schools in 1869 was 740,382—an increase of 8,610 over the year 1868. The average daily attendance in the public schools in 1869 was 434,865—an increase over 1868 of 24,144.
The total taxes for schools, school buildings, and all other purposes, the present fiscal year, is $6,578,196.83—an increase over the taxation of the previous fiscal year of $616,795.68. Of this increase of taxation, the sum of $17,833.86 is in the State taxation for school purposes, and the sum of $598,991.82 is the increase of local school taxation.
The State commissioner of common schools, in his report, will recommend the adoption of county superintendency, the substitution of township boards of education to provide for the present system of township and sub-district boards, a codification of school laws and other important measures, to which your attention is respectfully called.
Prior to the organization of the board of state charities in 1867, there was no provision for a systematic examination of the benevolent and correctional institutions under the control of the State and local authorities. The members of the board serve without pecuniary compensation. It is simple justice to them to say that they have faithfully performed the thankless task of investigating and reporting the defects in the system and in the administration of our charitable and penal laws, and have furnished in their reports information and suggestions of great value. If it is true that an abuse exposed is half corrected, it would be difficult to overestimate their work. They have, their reports show, discovered abuses and cruelties practiced, under color of law, in the midst of communities noted for intelligence and virtue, which would disgrace any age. Let the board be granted increased powers and facilities for the discharge of their duties, and it will afford security—perhaps the best attainable—to the people of the State, that the munificent provision which the laws make for the poor and unfortunate, will not be wasted or misapplied by the officials who are charged with its distribution.
During the last year more than nine hundred persons, classed as incurably insane, have been lodged in the county infirmaries, and almost one hundred have been confined in the county jails. Besides these a large number of the same class of unfortunates have been taken care of by relatives or friends. The State should no longer postpone making suitable provision for these unfortunate people. The treatment they receive in the infirmaries and jails is always of necessity unsuited to their condition, and is often atrocious. To provide for them, I would not recommend an increase of the number of asylums for the insane. It is believed by those best acquainted with the subject, that both economy and the welfare of the patients require that the chronic insane should be provided for by additions to the asylums already built, or to those which are now building. It is probable that in this way such patients can be supported at less expense to the people of the State than in infirmaries and jails. However this may be, their present condition imperatively demands, and, I trust, will receive, the serious consideration of the General Assembly. Although commonly classed as incurable, it is quite certain that, by proper treatment, in suitable institutions, the condition of all of them will be vastly improved, and, it may well be hoped, that many of them can be entirely cured.
The expediency of establishing an asylum for the cure of inebriates has not been much considered in Ohio. The encouraging results which are reported by the officers in charge of the State inebriate asylum of New York, induce me to recommend that the General Assembly provide for a full investigation of the subject.
The agricultural and mechanical college fund, created by the sale of land-script issued to Ohio by the National government, amounted, on the first instant, to $404,911.37-1/2. The State accepted the grant out of which this fund has been created, February 10, 1864, and is bound by the terms of acceptance, as modified by Congress, to provide "not less than one college on or before July 2, 1872, where the leading object shall be, without excluding other scientific and classical studies, and including military tactics, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts." The manner in which this fund shall be disposed of has been amply considered by preceding General Assemblies, and in the messages of my predecessors in the executive office. I respectfully urge that such action be had as will render this fund available for the important purposes for which it was granted. It is not probable that further delay will furnish additional information on any of the important questions involved in its disposition. Much time and attention has been given to the subject of the location of the college. No doubt it will be of great benefit to the county in which it shall be established, but the main object of desire with the people of the State can be substantially accomplished at any one of the places which have been prominently named as the site of the college. I therefore trust that the friends of education will not allow differences upon a question of comparatively small importance to the people at large longer to postpone the establishment of the institution, in compliance with the obligation of the State.
A large part of the work required to complete the "Soldiers' Record," in pursuance of an act passed March 17, 1864, has already been done, at an expense of about $8,000, and the propriety of making an appropriation sufficient to enable the adjutant-general to complete it is respectfully suggested for your consideration.
During the war for the Union, the people of this State acknowledged their obligation to support the families of their absent soldiers, and undertook to meet it, not as charity, but as a partial compensation justly due for services rendered. The Nation is saved, and the obligation to care for the orphans of the men who died to save it still remains to be fulfilled. It is officially estimated that three hundred soldiers' orphans, during the past year, have been inmates of the county infirmaries of the State. It is the uniform testimony of the directors of county infirmaries that those institutions are wholly unfit for children; that in a majority of cases they are sadly neglected; and that even in the best infirmaries the children are subject to the worst moral influences. Left by the death of their patriotic fathers in this deplorable condition, it is the duty of the State to assume their guardianship, and to provide support, education, and homes to all who need them. The people of Ohio regret that this duty has been so long neglected. I do not doubt that it will afford you great gratification to give to this subject early and favorable attention.
All agree that a republican government will fail, unless the purity of elections is preserved. Convinced that great abuses of the elective franchise can not be prevented under existing legislation, I have heretofore recommended the enactment of a registry law, and also of some appropriate measure to secure to the minority, as far as practicable, a representation upon all boards of elections. There is much opposition to the enactment of a registry law. Without yielding my own settled convictions in favor of such a law, I content myself, in this communication, with urging upon your attention a measure of reform in the manner of conducting elections, the importance and justice of which no one ventures to deny. The conduct of the officers whose duty at elections it is to receive and count the ballots, and to make returns of the result, ought to be above suspicion. This can rarely be the case where they all belong to the same political party. A fair representation of the minority will go far, not only to prevent fraud, but, what is almost of equal importance, remove the suspicion of fraud. I do not express any preference for any particular plan of securing minority representation in the boards of judges and clerks of elections. Various modes have been suggested, and it will not be difficult to adopt a means of attaining the desired result which will harmonize with our system of election law.
The re-enactment of the law securing to the disabled volunteer soldiers who are inmates of the National asylum, near Dayton, the right of suffrage in the county and township in which said asylum is located, which was repealed April 17, 1868, and the repeal of the legislation of the last General Assembly, imposing special restrictions upon the exercise of the right of suffrage by students and by citizens having a visible admixture of African blood, are measures so clearly demanded by impartial justice and public sentiment that no argument in their support is deemed necessary.
I transmit herewith the report required by law of the pardons granted during the year ending November 15, 1869, a report of the expenditures of the Governor's contingent fund, copies of proclamations issued during the year, and several communications accompanying gifts to the State of portraits of former Governors.
The most important measure which it will be your duty to consider at your present session is the proposed amendment to the constitution of the United States. I do not feel called upon to discuss its merits. The great body of that part of the people of Ohio who sustain the laws for the reconstruction of the States lately in rebellion believe that the fifteenth amendment is just and wise. Many other citizens who would not support the amendment if it was presented as the inauguration of a new policy, in view of the fact that impartial suffrage is already established in the States most largely interested in the question, now regard the amendment as the best mode of getting rid of a controversy which ought no longer to remain unsettled. Believing that the measure is right, and that the people of Ohio approve it, I earnestly recommend the ratification of the fifteenth amendment to the constitution of the United States.
SECOND ELECTION AS GOVERNOR.
Re-nomination—Democratic Platform—Nomination of Rosecrans—Declines—Pendleton Nominated—Hayes at Wilmington—Election—Second Inaugural—Civil Service Reform—Short Addresses—Letters—Annual Message—Democratic Estimate of it—Davidson Fountain Address—Message of 1872—Work Accomplished.
The State Convention of the Republican party of Ohio, which met at Columbus, June 23, 1869, nominated Governor Hayes for a second term by acclamation.
So acceptable was his two years' administration of the chief executive office of the State, that no competitor entered the lists against him or contended with him for the nomination. On the question of his re-nomination the unanimity in his party was absolute. He appeared before the convention, in response to its invitation, and delivered the speech printed in the Appendix to this volume, which sounded the key-note of the campaign. We ask the reader to turn, at this point, to this speech, as it is impossible to epitomize it without filling as much space as is filled by the speech itself. The well-founded and well-supported charges he made against the Democratic Legislature of the State brought upon him the savage strictures of the Democratic partisan press, showing that he had penetrated the weak point in his adversaries' somewhat defenseless defenses.
The Republican platform condemned the reckless expenditures of the Legislature, its efforts to disfranchise soldiers, students, and all having African blood in their veins, and squarely declared for the ratification of the fifteenth amendment.
The Democratic Convention, which assembled July 7, 1869, denounced the fifteenth amendment, and had much to say about the reserved rights of the States. The platform contained these resolutions, which sound, at this day, like an inscription from the tombs of the Ptolemys:
"Resolved, That the exemption from tax of over $2,500,000,000 in government bonds and securities is unjust to the people and ought not to be tolerated; and that we are opposed to any appropriation for the payment of interest on the bonds until they are made subject to taxation.
"Resolved, That the claims of the bondholders, that the bonds which were bought with greenbacks, and the principal of which is by law payable in currency, should nevertheless be paid in gold, is unjust and extortionate; and, if persisted in, will inevitably force upon the people the question of repudiation."
Here we have the bald proposition to repudiate the interest on the public debt unless it is taxed contrary to law, as made known by repeated decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States; and secondly, the direct threat to repudiate the principal of the National debt unless it is paid off in broken promises to pay. As the greenback is simply a debt or a due bill, this paying debts with debts was a patentable discovery in the science of finance. Taken in connection with the declaration of Vallandigham in the canvass before, that the whole bonded debt should be immediately "paid" in greenbacks, the resolution simply meant that the war debt should not be paid at all. This robbing the men whose money saved the Republic was not acceptable then to the farmers and laborers of Ohio, and will probably not now be more acceptable to the capitalists of New York. It is well, however, to recall the antecedents of a party that first tried to get into power through discreditable expedients, before resorting to a declaration of honest principles in finance.
The convention took a "new departure," and, putting aside Ranney and Pendleton, nominated General W. S. Rosecrans for governor, who was then absent from the country. This nomination was mainly brought about through the zealous efforts of Messrs. Vallandigham, Callen, and Baber.
The opinions General Rosecrans entertained of his new-found friends were not favorable. In a letter dated February 3, 1863, from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, General Rosecrans, in speaking of the slave-holding insurgents, had used this language:
"Wherever they have the power they drive before them into their ranks the Southern people, and they would also drive us. Trust them not. Were they able they would invade and destroy us without mercy. Absolutely assured of these things, I am amazed that any one could think of 'peace on any terms.'
"He who entertains the sentiment is fit only to be a slave; he who utters it at this time is, moreover, a traitor to his country, who deserves the scorn and contempt of all honorable men."
Rosecrans declined the nomination, and George H. Pendleton, after just enough hesitation to impart a proper value to his consent, consented to fill the vacant place at the head of the ticket.
Governor Hayes, aided by Senator Morton, opened the active campaign in a speech delivered at Wilmington, August 12, devoted mainly to the discussion of National and State finances. In the course of this speech Governor Hayes said:
"When the rebellion broke out, what was its chance for success? It had just one—a divided North. A divided North was its only chance. A united North was bound to crush the rebellion within two years after the firing on Sumter. A divided North encouraged the aristocratic enemies of free government in every land to build Alabamas and Shenandoahs that scourged the seas and swept away our commerce from the ocean. A divided North encouraged the Emperor of France to proclaim to everybody that sooner or later he proposed to intervene. A divided North encouraged rebel leaders to believe that sooner or later our armies must disband and come home.
"Now, I say to you that Pendleton was the selected and chosen leader of the Peace Party of the Northwest—the leader of the party that made a divided North. They talk of the debt and the great burden of taxation. We talked sadly of the loss of valuable lives that went down in the storm of battle. I say to you that the fact of a divided North doubled the debt and doubled the loss of valuable lives."
The campaign was an important one to Mr. Pendleton. Had he been successful he would undoubtedly have been the Democratic candidate for the presidency. A leading journal of the State said: "The gubernatorial contest is but a side-show. We are already entering upon the next presidential canvass, and Ohio is the key to the position." Nevertheless, Republican success was too certain to make the contest so warm a one as that of two years before. The State had been organized by townships and school districts and polled. So accurate was this poll that predictions as to the result, sealed and filed a week prior to the election by each of the members of the Republican State Executive Committee, the writer being one, varied only from two hundred to three thousand votes of the final result. Hayes' majority in '69 was 7,506—a little above the average majority. The canvass was fought largely upon the issue of the greenback payment of the debt. The Pendleton plan of indirect repudiation failed, and the rag infant was decently interred, to await an inglorious resurrection.
Governor Hayes was re-inaugurated January 10, 1870, on which occasion he delivered the following address:
Gentlemen of the Senate and House of Representatives:
In the annual message transmitted to the General Assembly a few days ago, a brief exposition of the condition of the State government was given, and such measures were recommended as the public good seemed to me to require. It will therefore not be expected that on this occasion I should again discuss subjects pertaining to the usual routine of legislation.
The most important questions concerning State affairs which in the ordinary course of events will engage the attention of the people of Ohio, during the term of office upon which I now enter, are those which relate to the action of a Constitutional Convention authorized to be called by a vote of the people at the October election in 1871. The present organic law provides for submitting to the electors of the State, once in twenty years, the question of holding "a convention to revise, alter, or amend the constitution." It is no disparagement of the work of the last Constitutional Convention to say that experience has already demonstrated the wisdom of this provision. It would be strange, indeed, if the last eighteen years had developed no defects in the constitution of 1851.
It is, perhaps, not improper at this time to call attention to some of the amendments of the existing fundamental law which the next Constitutional Convention will probably be required to consider.
The provision of the present constitution which prohibits the General Assembly from authorizing "any county, city, town, or township, by vote of its citizens or otherwise," from giving aid to any "company, corporation, or association," was designed to remedy an evil of the gravest magnitude. Unlimited power to authorize counties, cities, and towns to subscribe to the stock of railroad companies had burdened the people of the State with indebtedness and taxation to an extent which threatened bankruptcy. Experience has shown, however, that the clauses of the constitution on this subject are so sweeping that they are almost equivalent to a prohibition of the construction of railroads, except where those who control the existing railroad lines furnish the means. In many localities, the people are thus deprived of the only artificial instrumentality for intercourse with other parts of the State and country which is now regarded as valuable. By reason of it, important sources of wealth in large sections of the State remain undeveloped. It is believed that amendments can be framed, under which effective local aid can be furnished for the building of railroads, and which, at the same time, shall be so guarded and limited as to prevent a dangerous abuse of the power.
For many years political influence and political services have been essential qualifications for employment in the civil service, whether State or National. As a general rule, such employments are regarded as terminating with the defeat of the political party under which they began. All political parties have adopted this rule. In many offices the highest qualifications are only obtained by experience. Such are the positions of the warden of the penitentiary and his subordinates, and the superintendents of asylums and reformatories and their assistants. But the rule is applied to these as well as to other offices and employments. A change in the political character of the executive and legislative branches of the government is followed by a change of the officers and employs in all of the departments and institutions of the State. Efficiency and fidelity to duty do not prolong the employment; unfitness and neglect of duty do not always shorten it. The evils of this system in State affairs are, perhaps, of small moment compared with those which prevail under the same system in the transaction of the business of the National government. But at no distant day they are likely to become serious, even in the administration of State affairs. The number of persons employed in the various offices and institutions of the State must increase, under the most economical management, in equal ratio with the growth of our population and business.
A radical reform in the civil service of the general government has been proposed. The plan is to make qualifications, and not political services and influence, the chief test in determining appointments, and to give subordinates in the civil service the same permanency of place which is enjoyed by officers of the army and navy. The introduction of this reform will be attended with some difficulties. But in revising our State constitution, if this object is kept constantly in view, there is little reason to doubt that it can be successfully accomplished.
Our judicial system is plainly inadequate to the wants of the people of the State. Extensive alterations of existing provisions must be made. The suggestions I desire to present in this connection are as to the manner of selecting judges, their terms of office, and their salaries. It is fortunately true that the judges of our courts have heretofore been, for the most part, lawyers of learning, ability, and integrity. But it must be remembered that the tremendous events and the wonderful progress of the last few years are working great changes in the condition of our society. Hitherto population has been sparse, property not unequally distributed, and the bad elements which so frequently control large cities have been almost unknown in our State. But with a dense population crowding into towns and cities, with vast wealth accumulating in the hands of a few persons or corporations, it is to be apprehended that the time is coming when judges elected by popular vote, for short official terms, and poorly paid, will not possess the independence required to protect individual rights. Under the National constitution, judges are nominated by the executive and confirmed by the Senate, and hold office during good behavior. It is worthy of consideration whether a return to the system established by the fathers is not the dictate of the highest prudence. I believe that a system under which judges are so appointed, for long terms and with adequate salaries, will afford to the citizen the amplest possible security that impartial justice will be administered by an independent judiciary.
I forbear to consider further at this time the interesting questions which will arise in the revision and amendment of the constitution. Convinced of the soundness of the maxim that "that government is best which governs least," I would resist the tendency common to all systems to enlarge the functions of government. The law should touch the rights, the business, and the feelings of the citizen at as few points as is consistent with the preservation of order and the maintenance of justice. If every department of government is kept within its own sphere, and every officer performs faithfully his own duty without magnifying his office, harmony, efficiency, and economy will prevail.
Under the providence of God, the people of this State have greatly prospered. But in their prosperity they can not forget "him who hath borne the battle, nor his widow, nor his orphan," nor the thousands of other sufferers in our midst, who are entitled to sympathy and relief. They are to be found in our hospitals, our infirmaries, our asylums, our prisons, and in the abodes of the unfortunate and the erring. The Founder of our religion, whose spirit should pervade our laws, and animate those who enact and those who enforce them, by His teaching and His example, has admonished us to deal with all the victims of adversity as the children of our common Father. With this duty performed, we may confidently hope that for long ages to come our country will continue to be the home of freedom and the refuge of the oppressed.
Grateful to the people of Ohio for the honors they have conferred, I approach a second term in the executive office, deeply solicitous to discharge, as far as in me lies, the obligations and duties which their partial judgment has imposed.
The most striking part of the address is that which relates to reform in the civil service of the State and the Nation. Governor Hayes proposes to reform the civil service of the State by means of a constitutional provision in a new State constitution. This method of reformation is radical, and, we believe, original. It suggests the pertinent query, whether reform in the civil service of the Nation can not be best accomplished through a new provision in the National constitution. Can permanency and stability be secured in the civil service of the Republic in any other certain way than by a constitutional amendment? Civil service reformers need hardly waste their time discussing methods and systems less radical and fundamental. It must be recorded to the honor of Governor Hayes that he, more than six years ago, suggested the only true solution to the civil service problem, by proposing to place that service beyond disturbance from the fluctuating fortunes of political parties. He has, therefore, been an advanced civil service reformer more than the sixteenth of a century; not, like Mr. Tilden, for six months prior to a presidential election.
In December, 1869, he wrote to a friend in Congress: "We must have a genuine retrenchment and economy. The monthly reduction of the debt is of far more consequence than the reduction of taxation in any form. I hope, too, you will abolish the franking privilege and adopt the general principles of Trumbull's bill and Jencke's bill. It would please the people and be right and wise."
It is hardly needful to add that the bills referred to were the best civil service bills then before Congress.
In this same address, the governor boldly declares against the heresy of an elective judiciary, and favors the system established by Madison, Hamilton, and Washington, which has given us a Jay, a Story, and a Marshall.
During the occupancy of his office as executive of the State, Governor Hayes, on a vast variety of occasions, was called upon to deliver speeches and addresses on all classes of subjects. These efforts are all admirable in their way, and give evidences of fine literary taste, great good judgment, and what Dickens called "a sense of the proprieties."
We can find space for portions only of a few of these addresses. In an address of welcome on the occasion of the great exposition of textile fabrics, held in Cincinnati, in August, 1869, the governor of Ohio said:
"We meet at a most auspicious period in our country's history. Our greeting and welcome to citizens of other States are 'without any mental reservation whatever.' It is plain that we are entering upon an era of good feeling, not known before in the life-time of the present generation. For almost half a century the great sectional bitterness which is now so rapidly and so happily disappearing, and which we know can never be revived, carried discord, division, and weakness into every enterprise requiring the united efforts of citizens of different States. Now the causes of strife have been swept away, and their last vestiges will soon be buried out of sight. Good men will no longer waste their strength in mutual crimination or recrimination about the past. The people of different sections of our country will hereafter be able to act, not merely with intelligence and energy, but with entire harmony and unity; in any enterprise which promises an increase of human welfare and human happiness.
"This association, then, is working in perfect accord with the spirit of the times. The development of new resources, the opening of new paths to skill and labor, the discovery of new methods, the invention of new machinery and implements, and the employment of capital in new and useful pursuits—these are the objects which associations like this aim to accomplish. All who encourage these things, and who desire to aid in such achievements, deserve a hearty welcome wherever they may go, and will, I assure you, always find it, as you do now, in the State of Ohio."
Soon after the death of Secretary Stanton, and near the beginning of the governor's second term, a meeting of members of the Ohio bar was held in the room of the Supreme Court of Ohio, to take action with reference to the loss of their former associate and friend. On this occasion Governor Hayes said:
"I shall not undertake to describe the life and character and services of Mr. Stanton. Few men—very few men—ever possessed such learning, such intellect, such energy, such courage, such will, such honesty, such patriotism, in one word, such manhood, as belonged to him. All of his great powers and qualities he gave to the performance of duty, and with them he gave also life itself.
"Our profession rejoices that Mr. Stanton was an eminent lawyer. Our State rejoices that he was her great son. Our country and our age may well rejoice that he lived in this age and in this country. The members of our profession, the people of our State and of the Nation, and all mankind do honor to themselves in striving to do honor to the memory of such a man as Edwin M. Stanton."
It can be readily understood why a robust, positive, hard-fighting soldier like Hayes, should so ardently give his admiration to a firm-sinewed, iron-nerved, masculine man like the great minister of war.
On the 13th of April, 1870, the colored people of Central Ohio celebrated the adoption of the Fifteenth Amendment at an immense meeting held in the opera house in Columbus. Governor Hayes, as their chosen orator, delivered the following brief address, which seems the inspiration of one who has the logic of history in his head and humanity in his heart:
FELLOW-CITIZENS:—We celebrate to-night the final triumph of a righteous cause after a long, eventful, memorable struggle. The conflict which Mr. Seward pronounced "irrepressible" at last is ended. The house which was divided against itself, and which, therefore, according to Mr. Lincoln, could not stand as it was, is divided no longer; and we may now rationally hope that under Providence it is destined to stand—long to stand the home of freedom, and the refuge of the oppressed of every race and of every clime.
The great leading facts of the contest are so familiar that I need not attempt to recount them. They belong to the history of two famous wars—the war of the Revolution and the war of the Rebellion—and are part of the story of almost a hundred years of civil strife. They began with Bunker Hill and Yorktown, with the Declaration of Independence and the adoption of the Federal Constitution. They end with Fort Sumter and the fall of Richmond, with the Emancipation Proclamation and the Anti-Slavery and Equal Rights Amendments to the Constitution of the Nation. These long and anxious years were not years of unbroken ceaseless warfare. There were periods of lull, of truce, of compromise. But every lull was short-lived, every truce was hollow, and every compromise, however pure the motives of its authors, proved deceitful and vain. There could be no lasting peace until the great wrong was destroyed, and impartial justice established.
The history of this period is adorned with a long list of illustrious names—with the names of men who were indeed "Solomons in council and Sampsons in the field." At its beginning there were Washington, Franklin, and Hamilton, and their compeers; and in the last great crisis Providence was equally gracious, and gave us such men as Lincoln, and Stanton, and George H. Thomas.
All who faithfully bore their part in the great conflict may now with grateful hearts rejoice that it is forever ended.
The newly-made citizens who seem to carry off the lion's share of the fruits of the victory—it is especially fitting and proper that they should assemble to congratulate each other, and to be congratulated by all of us that they now enjoy for the first time in full measure the blessings of freedom and manhood.
Those, also, who have opposed many of the late steps in the great progress—it is a satisfaction to know that so large a number of them gracefully acquiesce in the decision of the Nation.
The war of races, which it was so confidently predicted would follow the enfranchisement of the colored people—where was it in the elections in Ohio last week? In a few localities the old prejudice and fanaticism made, we hope, their last appearance. There was barely enough angry dissent to remind us of the barbarism of slavery which has passed away forever. Generally throughout the State, and especially in the cities of Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, and Toledo, where the new element is large, those who strove to avert the result over which we rejoice, leaders as well as followers, were conspicuous in setting an example of obedience to the law.
Not the least among the causes for congratulation to-night is the confidence we have that the enfranchised people will prove worthy of American citizenship. No true patriot wishes to see them exhibit a blind and unthinking attachment to mere party; but all good men wish to see them cultivate habits of industry and thrift, and to exhibit intelligence and virtue, and at every election to be earnestly solicitous to array themselves on the side of law and order, liberty and progress, education and religion.
The following letters, written during 1870, have come under our observation. We reproduce them because they exhibit to some extent opinions and character.
In one dated March 1, 1870, these passages occur:
"I also agree with you perfectly on the spoils doctrine. This you would know if you had read my last inaugural. I am glad you do not bore yourself with such reading generally, but you are in for it now, as I shall send you a copy. I, too, mean to be out of politics. The ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment gives me the boon of equality before the law, terminates my enlistment, and discharges me cured."
Another letter, dated June 2d, in reply to a stranger in Baltimore, shows his tender regard for the private soldier, whether he be living or dead:
"I acknowledge with great gratification the receipt of your letter of the 30th, informing me of your patriotic attention to the grave of an Ohio soldier in your city on Decoration Day."
"Be pleased to accept my thanks for your generous action, and for courtesy of your letter."
To a friend in Congress he writes, on June 13th:
"You will as astonished as I was by this decision as to the right of the soldiers to vote at the Dayton National Asylum. But there it is. How can we get rid of it? Can you pass an act of Congress that will avoid it? I feel like saying that the soldiers must vote as usual, and test the case again. I merely call your attention to it with a view to Congressional action. You recollect the act ceding jurisdiction expressly provided that residents of Ohio retained the right to vote."
To the president of the Commercial Union of New York he wrote, June 20th:
"I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of the 10th instant, inviting me to attend a meeting of the Commercial Union of the State of New York, to be held in the city of Rochester on the 15th of July next, and to express my regret that prior engagements will prevent me from being present on that occasion. The subject to be considered—cheap transportation between the East and West—is of importance to the whole country, and especially to the State of Ohio. Earnestly hoping that the deliberations of the meeting will greatly promote this object, I remain, etc."
January 3, 1871, Governor Hayes delivered the following important annual message:
Fellow-Citizens of the General Assembly:
The official reports, which the law requires to be annually made to the governor, show that the affairs of the various departments of the State government and of the State institutions have been conducted during the past year in a satisfactory manner. I shall not attempt to give a synopsis of the facts and figures which the reports contain. The most important parts of them have been spread before the people of the State by the newspaper press, and the details which may be desired with a view to legislation can be best obtained from the reports themselves.
I also refrain from making many recommendations. Believing that too frequent changes of the laws and too much legislation are serious evils, I respectfully suggest that upon many subjects it may be well to defer legislation until the people have acted upon the question of calling a constitutional convention. If such a convention shall be called, it is not improbable that the General Assembly will be clothed with powers essentially different from those conferred by the present fundamental law in respect to the judiciary, railroads, intemperance, and many other important subjects, and that the legislature itself will be so constituted as to secure to minorities a fairer representation than they now enjoy.
The balance in the State treasury on the 15th of November, 1869, was $438,060.14; the receipts during the year were $4,399,932.53; making the total amount of available funds in the treasury during the year $4,837,992.67.
The disbursements during the year have been $4,071,954.57; leaving a balance in the treasury, November 15, 1870, of $766,038.10.
The estimates of the auditor of State for the current year are as follows:
Estimated receipts from all sources, including balances, $5,670,205.10; estimated disbursements for all purposes, $5,163,976.01; leaving an estimated balance in the treasury, November, 15, 1871, of $506,229.09.
The public funded debt of the State on the 15th of November, 1869, after deducting the amount invested in loans not yet due, was $9,855,938.27. During the last year there has been redeemed of the various loans, and invested in loans not yet due, the sum of $123,860.36, leaving the total debt due November 15, 1870, $9,732,077.91.
The fund commissioners were prepared to pay off a larger amount of the debt than has been actually discharged during the year, but none of the bonds of the State were due, and some of the holders demanded ten or twelve per cent premium, and others refused to surrender their bonds at any price.
The constant and rapid increase of taxation demands consideration. The following table, showing the taxation for different purposes in 1860 and in 1870, and the increase of taxation in ten years, sufficiently exhibits the nature and extent of the evil.
AMOUNT OF TAXES LEVIED. - + For what purpose. 1860. 1870. Increase. + - County taxes $1,309,137.46 $1,975,088.71 $665,951.25 - + Bridge taxes 487,538.40 1,474,148.18 1,036,609.78 + - Poor taxes 260,607.20 657,116.42 396,509.22 - + Building taxes 228,444.13 783,960.73 505,516.60 + - Road taxes 394,424.77 1,199,767.26 805,342.49 - + Railroad taxes 538,869.50 461,848.72 .......... + - Township taxes 349,360.86 734,585.65 385,224.79 - + T'p and sub-district and district school 1,487,247.44 4,960,771.87 3,473,524.43 taxes + - Other special taxes 349,236.33 1,152,335.09 803,098.76 - + City and town taxes 1,506,083.86 5,447,766.96 3,941,683.10 + - Delinquent taxes 453,013.46 667,188.69 214,175.23 - + Other than State taxes 7,313,963.41 19,464,578.28 12,227,685.65 + - State taxes 3,503,712.93 4,666,242.23 1,162,529.30 - + Totals $10,817,676.34 $24,130,820.51 $13,390,164.95 + -
This table shows that in ten years the State taxes have increased thirty-three per cent, and that local taxes have increased almost one hundred and seventy per cent; in other words, that less than one-tenth of the increase has been in State taxes, and more than nine-tenths in local taxes.
The increase of local taxation has been far greater than the growth of the State in business, population or wealth. It is not to be doubted that this burden has grown to dimensions which seriously threaten the prosperity of the State.
No full and exact statement can be made from the official reports as to the amount annually collected from the property-holders of the State in the form of special assessments for what are termed local improvements, but it is certain that this burden is also great and rapidly growing.
The auditor of State reports cases in which such assessments have been made, amounting to half of the cash value of the property on which they were levied, and, in one case which he refers to, the assessment was double the value of the property.
In respect to these evils it is undoubtedly easier to find fault than to provide a remedy. No single measure will remove them. Probably no system of measures which the General Assembly can adopt will of themselves accomplish what is desired. A complete reform is impossible, unless the city, county, and other officers are disposed and thoroughly competent to do the work of cutting off every unnecessary expenditure.
Much, however, can be accomplished by wise legislation. Let the General Assembly firmly adhere to the policy of the constitution, and refuse to enact special laws granting powers to tax or make assessments. Let such powers be exercised only in pursuance of general laws. Local authorities should be empowered to levy no higher rate of taxation than is absolutely required for practical efficiency under ordinary circumstances. In extraordinary cases general laws should provide for the submission of the proposed tax or assessment to the people to be affected by it, under such regulations that it can not be levied unless at least two-thirds of the tax-payers approve the measure.
One of the most valuable articles of the present State constitution is that which prohibits the State, save in a few exceptional cases, from creating any debt, and which provides for the payment at an early day of the debt already contracted. I am convinced that it would be wise to extend the same policy to the creation of public debts by county, city, and other local authorities. The rule "pay as you go" leads to economy in public as well as in private affairs; while the power to contract debts opens the door to wastefulness, extravagance, and corruption.
In the early history of the State, when capital was scarce and expensive public works were required for transporting the products of the State to market, public debts were probably unavoidable; but the time, I believe, has come when not only the State, but all of its subordinate divisions, ought to be forbidden to incur debt. The same rule on this subject ought to be applied to local authorities which the constitution applies to the State legislature. Experience has proved that the power to contract debt is as liable to abuse by local boards as it is by the General Assembly. If it is important to the people that the State should be free from debt, it is also important that its municipal divisions should not have power to oppress them with the burden of local indebtedness.
It would promote an economical administration of the laws if all officers, State, county, and municipal, including the members of the legislature, were paid fixed salaries.
Under existing laws a part of the public officers are paid by fees and a part by fixed annual salaries or by a per diem allowance. The result is great inequality and injustice. Many of those who are paid by fees receive a compensation out of all proportion to the services rendered. Others are paid salaries wholly inadequate. For example, many county officers and some city officers receive greater compensation than the judges of the Supreme Court of the State. The salaries paid to the judges ought to be increased; the amount paid to many other public officers ought to be reduced. To do justice, a system of fixed salaries, without fees or perquisites, should be adopted. The people of Ohio will, without question, sustain an increase of the salaries of judges and of other officers who are now inadequately paid; but it can probably best be done as a part of a system which would prevent the payment to public officers of enormous sums by means of fees and perquisites. To remove all ground of complaint, on account of injustice to present incumbents, the new system should apply only to those elected after its adoption.
In addition to considerations already presented in favor of a revision of the rates of taxation which local officers and boards are authorized to levy, another controlling reason is not to be omitted. By the recent revaluation of real estate the total basis of taxation for the State at large will probably be increased almost forty per cent, and in many of the cities the increase will be nearly one hundred per cent This renders it imperatively necessary to revise the present rates, so as to prevent the collection and expenditure of sums much greater than the public good demands.
Under prudent and efficient management the earnings of the penitentiary continue to exceed its expenses, and at the same time gratifying progress has been made in improving the condition and treatment of the prisoners. The hateful and degrading uniform of past years is disappearing; increased means of education, secular and religious, are afforded, and the officers of the institution exhibit an earnest desire to employ every instrumentality authorized by existing laws to restore its inmates to society improved in habits, capacity, and character.
While much has been done in our State during the last twenty-five years for the improvement of prison discipline, it is not to be denied that much more yet remains unaccomplished.
Assuming that the time has not arrived to attempt a radical change of our prison discipline, the following practical suggestions, consistent with the present system, are offered for your consideration: A convict is now allowed a deduction from the period of his sentence as a reward for good behavior. The power to extend the period of the sentence as a punishment for bad conduct would also, under proper regulations, exercise a wholesome influence in the discipline of the prison.
The importance of classification among convicts is now universally admitted. For economical or other reasons the establishment of an intermediate prison will perhaps be deemed inexpedient at this time. It is believed, however, that by employing convict labor the additional buildings and improvements required for a satisfactory classification can be erected on the ground adjoining the old prison, recently purchased and now enclosed, at a small expense compared with the cost of a new prison. This plan, it is hoped, will receive your careful consideration.
It is also recommended that the Board of State Charities be empowered to aid discharged convicts to obtain honest employment. An annual appropriation of a small sum for this purpose, in the course of a few years, would probably save a large number, who, without such help, would again return to a criminal course of life.
The most defective part of our present prison system is probably our county jails. It is supposed about 8,000 persons pass through our county jails each year. They are generally persons charged with crimes and awaiting trial. But lunatics and petty offenders in considerable numbers are also confined in these places. The young and the old, the innocent and the guilty, hardened offenders and beginners in crime, are commonly mingled together in the jails, under few restraints, without useful occupation and with abundant leisure and temptation to learn wickedness. The jails have been fitly termed nurseries of crime. Plans of jails, not too expensive, have been furnished by the Board of State Charities, which provide for the absolute separation of the prisoners. It is recommended that the law shall require all jails to be so constructed as to entirely prevent this promiscuous and dangerous intercourse.
Your attention is particularly called to the recommendation of the Board of State Charities that the proper authorities of all of the cities of the State should be required to make full reports annually to the legislature, through the governor, of the statistics of vice and crime and of the work of the police department in such cities; and also to the suggestion that prosecuting attorneys should not be allowed to enter a nolle prosequi in any case of an indictment for a crime punishable by imprisonment in the penitentiary or by death, without the written approval of the attorney-general first given upon a written report to him of the facts.
The importance of this is sufficiently shown by the fact that in 1869 the number of cases in which a nolle prosequi was entered exceeded fifteen hundred.
The Girls' Reformatory at White Sulphur Springs contains forty-nine inmates, and it is now demonstrated that the number is likely to increase as rapidly as the welfare of the institution will allow. Whatever doubts may have been reasonably entertained as to the necessity for such an institution prior to its establishment, the report of the directors and superintendent and a thorough investigation of the facts will, it is believed, satisfy you that the institution is a very important one, and ought to be liberally supported.
The report of the superintendent and trustees of the Soldiers' Orphans' Home will engage your earnest attention. The duty of providing for the education and support of the children of the soldiers of Ohio who fell in the war for the Union was fully recognized by the resolutions and acts of your last session. It is not doubted that your action was in accordance with the will of the people of the State, and they earnestly desire that the duty of caring for the soldiers' orphans shall be performed in a manner that will worthily express the affection and gratitude with which these wards of the State must ever be regarded by a just and patriotic community. I therefore respectfully recommend that the legislation deemed necessary by the board and officers in charge of the institution be enacted as promptly as practicable.
The report of the geological survey, to be laid before you, exhibits the encouraging progress of that work. The future growth of Ohio in wealth and population will depend largely on the development of the mining and manufacturing resources of the State. Heretofore, our increase in capital and numbers has been chiefly due to agriculture. Important as that great interest will always be in Ohio, the recent census shows that we may not reasonably anticipate, in future, rapid growth in population or wealth from agriculture alone. Without calling in question the great and immediate benefit to accrue to agriculture from the geological survey, it is yet true that the tendency of its exhibition of our vast mineral wealth is to encourage the employment of labor and capital in mining and manufacturing enterprises. Let the work be continued and sustained by ample appropriations.
It is necessary that the General Assembly, at its present session, should adopt the requisite legislation to carry into effect the following requirement of the constitution: Sec. 3, article 16, of the constitution, provides that "at the general election to be held in the year one thousand eight hundred and seventy-one, and in each twentieth year thereafter, the question, 'Shall there be a convention to revise, alter, or amend the constitution?' shall be submitted to the electors of the State, and in case a majority of all the electors voting at such election shall decide in favor of such a convention, the General Assembly, at its next session, shall provide by law for the election of delegates and the assembling of such convention."
In conclusion, I feel warranted in congratulating you on the favorable judgment of your constituents upon your action on the important subjects which were considered at your last session, and in expressing a confident hope that what remains to be done will, under Providence, be so wisely ordered that the true interests of all the people of the State will be greatly and permanently advanced.
Without comments of our own, we will simply give the opinions of Democratic journals concerning this message.
The Cincinnati Enquirer, of January 4, 1871, said:
"The message of Governor Hayes is a plain, straightforward, and sensible document, and in every respect is creditable to him."
The Columbus Crisis said:
"The annual message of Governor R. B. Hayes, printed in this issue, is a very fair and plain statement of the condition of the affairs of the State, and is especially commendable for its brevity and practical purport."
The Steubenville Gazette characterized this message as—
"An excellent and appropriate document—short and comprehensive—and, as it should be, devoted wholly to State affairs."
The Cincinnati Commoner, ultra Democratic, declared:
"The message is brief, but full of wisdom, and deserves the study of every citizen."
The correspondence of 1871 from the executive office reveals letters like these:
"I long since, in conversation, announced my wish and purpose to withdraw from the race for important positions in public affairs. I meant this announcement to apply both to the office I now hold and the senatorship. That purpose remains unchanged."