Indiana. General Assembly.

Documentary journal of Indiana 1856, part 1 (Volume 1856, pt.1) online

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posed public building.

In pursuance of a Joint Resolution of the General Assembly, I
visited Washington City, and endeavoied to adjust the outstanding
controversey upon the subject of the three per cent, fund due the
State from the General Government. The decision of the Secre-
tary, with the full report of my proceedings in relation to the
matters embraced in the Joint Resolution, will be laid before you.
The question of the validity of the claim of the State, cannot be
settled without the action of Congress.

The salaries paid to the Judges of our Courts are not sufficient
to answer the demands of jusiice and sound policy. If we desire
to have the full services of our Judges, and expect them to secure
the confidence of the people, by a laborious and faithful discharge
of their duties, it is absolutely nece-sary to increase their com-
pensation. This is emphatically true in relation to the Judges of
our Supreme and Circuit Courts. The compensation for the servi-
ces of the Judiciary, above all other departments, should be such
that the State could command, at all times, the services of our
most worthy and competent men.

The increase of business in our Supreme Court, and the frequent
equal division of the Judges, upon important questions, presents to
you the propriety of providing, by law, for an additional Judge.

The salary of your Governor is wholly inadequate. Approach-
ing the close of my official services, after more than seven years'
experience, I feel no delicacy in speaking plainly on the subject.
I have indulged in no unnecessary expenses; I have attempted to
dispense that degree of hospitality necessarily expected of the
chief officer of the State, in his intercourse with his fellow citizens
from abroad, as well as those at home; and yet, I have no hesita-
tion in saying that this can not be done, without drawing largely
upon the private income of the citizen who may be called upon to



306

discharge the duties of Governor of your State. The highest and
fir-t office within the gift of our people should not be one which
the wealthy, only, can afford to accept. I urge you to increase
the salary of this officer, and to make the increased compensation
apply to my immediate successor, by the enacting of a law to take
effect before the commencement of his official term.

A communication from the Superintendent of Weights and
Measures, at Washington, is herewith submitted. You will,
doubtless, provide the necessary legislation, in order that the
State may be placed in possession of a set of balances, intended
for the adjustment of standard weights.

I herewith communicate the report of the commissioners ap-
pointed to investigate the affairs of the Madison and Indianapolis
Railroad, with reference to the interests of the State of Indiana.

The views suggested by me, four years since, in a special mes-
sage to the Legislature, to the effect'that the system adopted for the
sale and drainage of the Swamp Lands, would result in the frit-
tering away and waste of the fund, have been fully confirmed.
In some portions of the State, much good has been accomplished,
by reclaiming large bodies of lands, making them a source of rev-
enue to the State, and promoting the general health.

Two years since, the Auditor of State, who has nearly the en-
tire management of this trust, reported to me, that the Treasurer
of Jasper county was largely in default to the fund; which allega-
tion' that officer denied. Upon examination of the facts in the
case, I deemed it my duty to remove him from office, and to ap-
point a successor. The validity of the appointment was contested,
and the question has not vet been decided by the court.

Large contracts for draining lands have been let by the
officers of Jasper county, in a manner not conformable to the
law. These transactions it will be your duty to investigate
thoroughly ; and if any of the officers of State shall be found
to have participated therein you will not hesitate to apply
the proper corrective. Under no possible circumstances, should
titles have been delivered to the contractors, for any of the
lands, until the completion of their respective contracts. Im-
mediately, upon being informed of the existence of these
contracts, I promptly refused the execution of further pa-
tents. I am advised that, in these cases, large sums of money
had been advanced for work in draining and ditching. As the
work was progressing, speculators would buy up the finds, as fast
as they were ditched. To obviate this, advance certificates were
issued, and bond and security taken for the completion of the
work, and in this way, secure the land to the contractor and
laborer. In extenuation of the policy adopted, it may be found,
upon examination, that large bodies of land have been drained and
reclaimed, which would, otherwise, have remained valueless.
Similar contracts were made in Gibson county, which resulted



307

satisfactorily to the State, and to the people. It would, however,
have been more creditable to the parties to these contracts, if they
had been laid before the Legislature, for approval.

Some modification of the law will be required to enable the
State to complete the system of drainage, and make the unsold
lands marketable. The propriety of reducing and graduating the
price of the remaining lands, situated like those in Knox, and
other counties, is, also, suggested.

A large body of lands, in Lake county, is overflowed by the
waters of the Calumet, in consequence of a dam erected in Illinois,
for the supply of the Illinois and Michigan Canal. A communica-
tion on this subject, from the Trustees of that canal, is herewith
transmitted.

I regret to say that no selection has been made for the location
of the site of the contemplated House of Refuge. Under the re-
strictions and limitations contained in the Act of the General As-
sembly, your officers could not make a selection suitable for such
a building, and purposes. It is very desirable that, whatever ac-
tion may be taken on this subject, the matter may receive your
attention, at an early day, in order that the House of Refuge may
be commenced with the opening of Spring. The propriety of es-
tablishing three Houses of Refuge — one north, one south, and one
at the center — is worthy of special consideration.

We shall be unfaithful to the trust reposed in us by the people
of Indiana, unless we address ourselves to her future, with a de-
termination to cherish and augment her good name. Amid all the
privations and hardships of a frontier life, and under embarrass-
ments destructive of ordinary energies and integrity, she has ful-
filled all her obligations, and clothed herself with prosperity and
peace. Her broad fields, reclaimed from the sturdy forests, are
pouring their wealthy harvests into the granaries of the East,
North and South. With her increasing facilities of transportation,
her growing population, her multiplying schools and institutions of
learning, she is rapidly acquiring strength in all the elements which
constitute a great, a powerful, and a prosperous State.

In this survey of her condition and prosperity, one of the most
gratifying reflections is, that it is not for herself, alone, but also
for her sister States, to whose wealth she contributes a generous
portion, as well as to the strength of that confederacy in which
she has received countless blessings, and to the peace and perma-
nence of which, she deems it her duty, her pleasure, and her pride
to contribute.

Of small account were our own prosperity, or our contributions
to the material wealth of others, were it not that we can proudly
say of Indiana, that, from the beginning up to the preseni hour,
distinguished fidelity, in all her political relations to her sister con-
federates, marks and adorns her history. Central in position in this
great family of States — bordering upon those which widely differ



308

from her in domestic policy — she has invarisbly recognized the co-
equal sovereignty, and perfect equality of those around her, and
has ever cheerfully accorded, within her jurisdiction, to all citizens
of the Union, those rights which are clearly guarantied by the fed
eral constitution — denying no right of property, and imposing no
restriction upon opinions, discussions, or forms of political action.
Regardless of her likes and dislikes, ever faithful to the federal
compacts, she has resisted all attempts to lead her into any course
of legislation against the interests or institutions of her sister
States. No laws enacted in a spirit of resistance, or hindrance,
to the constitutional enactments of the General Government, have
ever found a place upon her Statute books. Emerging from the
recent and exciting Presidential contest, unseduced by the ultra-
isms which have beset her on either hand, she has renewedly, and
still more firmly established her reputation for fidelity and enlight-
ened patriotism. Listening to no fanatical or sectional persuasion,
whether coming to her on Southern or Northern breezes, she has
followed only the guidance of the Constitution ; and has borne
aloft the flag of the whole Union, with profound respect and at-
tachment to each and every star. She has sustained the supremacy
of law — has triumphantly defended the vital principle of our Re-
public, to-wlt : the right of the people everywhere, to choose and
establish their own domestic policy.

We have again, given the weight of our influences, as a State,
in favor of preserving that simplicity of structure in our form of
government which it was the design of its founders to establish;
by maintaing that policy which leaves the people of the several
States and Territoiies of the Union, to depend more and more
upon their own rights and their own resources, and confines the
action of the Federal Government within the clearly defined limits
of the Constitution — reserving the exercise of all other powers to
the States, severally, and to the people.

Early and deeply impressed with the importance of electing a
Chief Magistrate, from among the tried, experienced, and foremost
statesmen of the country, the choice of Indiana was firmly fixed
upon a distinguished statesman of Pennsylvania, as the one pre-
eminently qualified to guide the affairs of the nation, and specially
adapted, by his wisdom, and patriotism, to the exigencies of the
existing crisis. The sagacity of our early and steadfast choice,
urged upon, and ratified by the National Convention, has been
confirmed by the voice of the nation ; and we have the satisfaction
of knowing that the considerate men of all parties are now looking
with hope, to the unsullied character, the mature judgment, and the
national spirit, of the President elect, as strong and peaceful guar-
anties that he will guide our councils to a happy issue ; enforce
obedience to laws; disarm contending factions; protect our for-
eign and domestic interests ; and that diligently and successfully
watching and guarding all the varied interests of our vast Regublic,



3U9

he will retire from office with the consciousness of virtue, ripe in
years, and rich in the respect and confidence of a great and happy
people.

Such, gentlemen, is the past and present name of our own Indi-
ana which is committed to your care. Look wisely and carefully,
to her future. Develop her wealth, encourage her industry; above
all, so administer her government, so wield her power in the fed-
eral Union, that her historic record among her sister states may
be, obedience to the federal compact, faithfulness to others, and jus-
tice to ourselves.

It is a source of great gratification to me, in reviewing the pe-
riod of my administration of the Executive affairs of the State, to
see so many substantial evidences of her increasing prosperity.
During this time, not a single defalcation of any State or County
officer, has occurred. The interest upon our public debt has been
promptly paid, without imposing an oppressive burden on our peo-
ple. Our domestic debt has been entirely liquidated ; and we have
commenced the reduction of our funded liabilities. Our population
has nearly doubled; our taxable property has largely increased;
an efficient system of common schools has been adopted, and the
People's College erected in every neighborhood. Public Libraries
have been established in every township in the State. The waters
of the Lakes and the Mississippi have been united, by the longest
line of continuous Canal upon the continent; and our commercial,
manufacturing, and agricultural interests have been carefully fos-
tered, and widely extended.

The ties, which have so long existed between me, as your chief
Executive officer, and you, as my constituents, are'soon to Be dis-
solved; and I cannot let the opportunity pass, without renewing,
to you, my assurances of regard.

During my official term of seven years, I have encountered
many occasions of excitement, and participated in many scenes of
trial and anxiety. I have, occasionally, differed from the Legisla-
ture, in regard to great questions of public policy; but, while my
motives have been misconstrued, and ill feelings sometimes engen-
dered, He who rules our destinies, and knows the secrets of the
hearts of men, can bear witness to my earnest desire, in all things,
to promote the prosperity, and advance the true interests of the
State. It has been my highest aim to serve the people faithfully;
and I have been more than repaid by the numerous evidences of
their approbation. My only regret is, that my ability to promote
their interests, has not been equal to my desire. I have warned
them, diligently, against all projects, in whatever quarter arising,
which threatened an encroachment upon their rights ; and have
given my own example, by refusing all connection with monied
corporations, and schemes of dishonest speculation. And, now,
gentlemen, earnestly desiring that your labors may contribute to



310

the advancement of the best interests of the State, the first wish
of my heart being its prosperity, I commend your deliberations to
the supervision and guidance of the Supreme Ruler of the uni-
verse.

JOSEPH A. WRIGHT

Indianapolis, Ind., January 9, 1857.



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Online LibraryIndiana. General AssemblyDocumentary journal of Indiana 1856, part 1 (Volume 1856, pt.1) → online text (page 24 of 53)