Ratcliffe Hicks.

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urging the importance of contracting the expendi-
tures of the State of Connecticut.

I do not know that anything can be accomplished

by this resolution, but it will do no harm to try it.

I believe there can be easily discovered an annual

saving of from fifty to one hundred thousand dol-



lars. I have not time to allude to many of the
extravagances of the State, but will refer to a few
as a sample of what I mean. Some of them I do
not care to allude to, for fear of stirring up a
hornet's nest.

There are some expenditures in the last report of
the Comptroller which seem perfectly outrageous.
You will find that it cost over ^30,000 to pay the
running expenses of the Senate in 1893, — this is,
in addition to their salaries and railroad fares,
over $1,000 for every member; while the running
expenses of the House of Representatives, with
two hundred and sixty-odd members, and tran-
sacting more than three-fourths of the legislative
business of the State, cost only $28,000. If it is
said that the Senate of 1893 was Democratic, my
answer is that they were only following in the foot-
steps of their predecessors ; and I will also add that
in my opinion they poorly represented and poorly
repaid the party that was kind enough to put them

You will find by reading the Comptroller's re-
port, that it cost over $20,000 to print the Hotch-
kiss report of the labor bureau of this State, while
you will find that to print the report of the Bank
Commissioner it cost about $3,500. It is safe to
say that $15,000 of the public money might just as
well have been spent in fireworks as in printing
that report. With this money you could have
built three or four neat, pretty country churches or


chapels, and consecrated them to the worship and
service of God.

You will find that the printing bills of the State
have doubled and trebled and quadrupled in
eight years, and much of the matter printed is of
no more value than the autumn leaves that carpet
your foi'ests. There is the same marvellous ratio
of increase in the expenditure of some of the
boards or commissioners of the State without any
adequate remuneration, while the wealth and pop-
ulation have only shown a slight increase. In
thirty-odd years the expenses of the State have
grown to be eight times as great as in i860.
Have the property and income of the farmers, the
professional, the business men, the tax-payers,
grown eight times as great as in i860?

Listen to this statement and you will need no
more convincing proof of the truth of what I am
saying : —

Total Expenses of Connecticut.

i860 $217,149.45

1870 820,430.48

1886 1,308,859.11

1894 1,918,677.55

Judicial Expenses.

i860 $85,764.56

1870 212,378.25

1880 256,598.93

1894 382,691.44



Military Expenses.

i860 $21,619.86

1870 97,000.00

1880 113,097.49

1894 190,411.94

Grand list of i860 $254,742,695

Grand list of 1893 416,323,252

See how, while the grand list of the State has
only doubled in thirty years, you are expending
eight times as much as you were thirty years ago,
— more than ten dollars to every voter, while
formerly you spent only two dollars to a voter.

You will find, on examining the report of the
comptroller, that the salaries, fees, and perquisites
of some of the officials of this State are something
fabulous. One man, occupying not a very high
order of office, is said to have an annual income
of over $15,000; and many men in the last few
years, in this State, have been receiving annually
thousands of dollars from the State treasury for
services of a very ordinary kind.

A few years ago, the greatest philanthropist and
public benefactor that the State of Connecticut
has ever produced was at a gathering of business
associates at the Fifth Avenue Hotel in New York
City, at a conference in which he was to invest
several hundred thousand dollars in developing
the manufacturing interests of Connecticut; and
after the conference he went out into Broadway,


and walking down the street, he said to my infor-
mant that he thought he would buy a pear. He
stopped, and asked the price, and they told him
it was ten cents. He said it was too much, and
went without his pear. That man gave a million
dollars away, while living, for the education and
improvement of the unfortunate colored people of
the South. It is an old Scotch proverb that " the
spendthrift is never a generous man."

Now, the State of Connecticut is a rich State.
It is perfectly willing to pay for everything it has,
and for all the services it receives, all that they are
worth, and expects to pay a little more ; but the
State of Connecticut can ill afford to pay two or
three times more than the services or the thing is
worth. There are legitimate expenses of the
State, and to those I do not object ; but there are
illegitimate expenses, and they should all be
stopped. There are some expenditures of the
State that are absolutely wicked and are only one
door from pure robbery, and in any private com-
pany would result in the immediate discharge of
the responsible employee. There are, generally,
no bigger and more wanton spendthrifts than the
public servants who handle the people's money.
Men are here crying for appropriations as if
money ran down hill in this State. There is no
better place to commence to practise frugality and
economy than beneath this gilded dome.

There are thousands of men out of employment


in Connecticut to-day. Our industries are strug-
gling against a sluggish and an adverse market, and
against a competition such as they have never
known before. The United States has lost its hold
on the markets of the world in the two great staples,
cotton and wheat, that made us rich and brought
the hoarded gold of Europe to our shores, and the
South and West are on the verge of bankruptcy.
We are one great family of States, and Connec-
ticut must suffer with the rest. We are fast
becoming, as a nation and a State, involved in
indebtedness, and will soon be the greatest inter-
est-paying and debt-owing nation in the world.

It is estimated that it takes two hundred million
dollars in gold, annually, to pay the interest and
the dividends on what we owe to the capitalists of
Europe, and this represents so much taken from
the pockets of the already over-loaded tax-payers
of America.

All that Grover Cleveland and a hundred Con-
gresses can do, cannot give us back the markets
of the world. Frugality and industry are the only
sure roads to national and State prosperity.

Before we lay a State tax, let us remember that
every dollar that the great majority of the tax-
payers in Connecticut pay is so much, not less of
luxuries, but of the ordinary comforts of life to
himself and his family. Do not forget it. Over
on these hillside farms it now takes the economies
of a whole year to pay their taxes and the interest


on their mortgages, and some men would still add
to their burdens.

A one-mill tax would raise ^416,000, which
would, at the rate we are going, just about pay the
yearly deficiencies of the State treasury, but would
not pay for the East Hartford Bridge, and other
appropriations voted in 1893 but not yet paid.
This means $50,000 annually to Hartford, $54,000
to New Haven, $54,000 to Bridgeport, $13,000 to
Meriden, $12,000 to Waterbury, $14,000 to Nor-
wich, $9,000 to New London, $9,000 to Middle-
town, and it also means to Tolland County $8,000,
to Windham County $18,000, to Litchfield County
$28,000, to Middlesex County $19,000, to Fair-
field County $100,000, to New London County
$37,000, to New Haven County $106,000, to
Hartford County $97,000 ; and this, gentlemen, is
in addition to all the other taxes that your con-
stituents are paying.

Remember that this does not pay up the defi-
ciency of nearly half a million dollars for the past
two years, as the receipts fell that amount below
the expenditures.

We shall hardly be true to the recognized and
well-estabhshed reputation of the people of Con-
necticut for thrift and intelligence if we do not do
something to bring order out of financial chaos, to
bring the expenses of the State within its income,
and to relieve the tax-payers of Connecticut, in
these hard times, from any more extraordinary


burdens. I should not have risen to say one word
if I did not know that I voiced the sentiments of
every banker, of every manufacturer, of every
merchant, and of every tax-payer in this State.

For these reasons I have introduced this reso-
lution, for no more important business can come
before the Legislature than the pregnant and vital
question of economy and retrenchment in public

My great ambition is that this General Assembly
shall live in history as one of the wisest, most
honest, and economical Assemblies that have ever
met in this ancient Commonwealth to do the
people's bidding.



Delivered March 28, 1895, ^'^ Favor of the Bill
relieving the New York, New Haven, and
Hartford Railroad fro 7}i Double Taxation.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of
Representatives :

I WISH to State briefly the reasons which will
control my action in this matter. The Judiciary
Committee are unanimously of the opinion that
this bill should pass, and thus release the New
York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad Com-
pany from what is, indisputably, a double taxation,
— from paying taxes upon property that is being
taxed in other States.

Every newspaper in Connecticut heartily ap-
proves of this bill, and every citizen, every tax-
payer in Connecticut is in favor of it, with one
bare exception, — Mr. Goodwin, of East Hartford.
And his objection is not so much to this particular
bill. It is because he thinks some years ago this
railroad did not do exactly as he claims the law
requires that it should have done.

The State of Connecticut has had many faith-
ful and honest treasurers, and I shall presume


that they have done their duty by the State of

I shall take no part iii the long and acrimoni-
ous contest that has been going on for years
between Mr. Goodwin and the Consolidated Rail-
road Company.

I am here to do right as between the State of
Connecticut and all parties in interest. I have
made some investigations on my own account, and
I am satisfied that the Consolidated Railroad Com-
pany are paying more than their just proportion
of the taxes of this State, and I await with interest
any candid reply to the figures that I am about to

I am not here to call names or to criticise any
man's motives, or to indulge in any personalities,
but I am here to argue this matter, as I propose
to do every other matter which comes before this
General Assembly, on a high and lofty plane of
reason and of solid facts. Every person and every
interest which have suffered or are suffering an
injury which no other court can redress, have a
right to appeal to this General Assembly, — the
court of the last appeal.

I make the total cash value of this railroad com-
pany to be $45,620,884.99 for the entire length
of 248^^0^ miles, and there are in the State of
Connecticut i66-f\j\ miles, making the real cash
value of so much of this railroad as lies within the
State of Connecticut to be $30,544,659.70. These


figures I gathered from the reports of your Rail-
road Commissioners, and from the reports of this
company to its o^\'n stockholders, and I have also
been aided by experts not in the employ of this
railroad company. The portion of railroad lying
in New York State costs more per mile than the
same number of miles in Connecticut, but I have
made no difference in my calculations on that

Now, a one per cent tax on so much of this
property as lies within the State of Connecticut
would raise $305,446.50, which is the fair rate of
taxation of all property in Connecticut, where it is
assessed at its full value, as in the city of Bridge-
port, and many other places in the State.

Under your present system of taxing the rail-
roads of this State, this company pays into the
treasury on that same property, $535,049.85, an
excess of taxation above the proportion that all
other property pays of $229,603.25, showing that
this company is paying one and three-fourths per
cent on the full cash value of its property. In
ninety-nine towns out of a hundred in this State
the property is not assessed for more than one-half
to two-thirds of its full value, which makes the
burden which this company is carrying still more
onerous, paying as it is one and three-fourths per
cent upon the full value of the road.

This company paid for the year ending Sept.
20, 1894, twenty-eight per cent of the entire rev-


enues of the State of Connecticut, and forty per
cent of the total taxes paid by corporations, includ-
ing insurance companies, savings-banks, express
companies, telephone companies, and all other
kinds of corporations.

The mutual insurance companies and the savings-
banks of the State pay from one-fourth to three-
fourths of one per cent. The six telegraph and
telephone companies and the three express com-
panies pay less than five per cent on their gross
receipts in this State, while the Consolidated Rail-
road Company pays more than twelve and one-half
per cent on its total gross receipts in Connecticut.

Again, if you look at the earnings of the different
railroads of the State, you will find that the Con-
soHdated Railroad pays more largely in proportion
to its earnings than any other railroad in the State.
This railroad for the year ending June 30, 1893,
earned about sixty-nine per cent of the total amount
earned by steam railroads, and paid about seventy-
four per cent of the taxes paid by these railroads
into the treasury. The New York and New England
Railroad earned twenty-four per cent and paid
twenty-two and one-half per cent of the taxes.
The New London and Northern Railroad earned
over two and one-half per cent and paid less than
two and one-half per cent of the taxes ; and the
Philadelphia, Reading, and New England Railroad
earned nearly four per cent, and paid less than
one per cent of the taxes.


Now, from these figures which I give to you, I
make the statement, without fear of contradiction,
that this railroad company pays more in taxes every
year than any other property in this State ; far
more in proportion than the manufactories in
Bridgeport, Waterbury, Meriden, or WilUmantic
are paying, and far more than the property of any
member of this General Assembly, I care not from
where he comes, or what kind of business he is
engaged in.

It would be a sorry day if this company should
come here and ask that all these laws taxing rail-
roads should be repealed, and that they should
be allowed to have their property in the several
towns through which their lines run assessed the
same as your property and bear the same taxes,
the same as the railroads in Rhode Island are

The Supreme Court, the highest tribunal of this
State, in an elaborate opinion written by that emi-
nent jurist, Elisha Carpenter, the greatest jurist and
perhaps the greatest man that Windham County
has produced in our day, and in an opinion con-
curred in by the Hon. Lafayette S. Foster and
the Hon. James Phelps, has blazed the history of
this State with the incontrovertible fact that this
railroad has always been paying more than its just
proportion of the taxes of the State. These are
their words : " We think, therefore, it is safe to
assume that taxation upon railroad property is


considerably above the average rate of taxation
throughout the State." (40 Conn. 494.) And
the Supreme Court of this State never writes any-
thing in anger or in haste, but only after the most
mature and careful investigation, for it knows full
well that what it writes becomes a part of the
recorded history of this State, and will stand there
long after its present members and all of us sleep
beneath the sod.

If the Meriden Britannia Company, the Russell
and Erwin Manufacturing Company, and other
prosperous manufacturing companies in this State
were taxed the same as this railroad company is,
on the market value of their stock, instead of on
the value of their property, it would double, triple,
and quadruple their present taxes.

It is a good Christian motto to •'* Do unto others
as you would that they should do unto you ; " and
let us be just to this railroad that comes here
to-day and puts its case on its naked merit";-, and
refuses to spend a dollar in the lobby, or in secur-
ing the vote of a single member of this Legislature.
I cannot help thinking that the man who votes
against this righteous bill is sinning against light.
Let your judgment and conscience be your only
guide, and I beg of you to follow the teachings of
these illustrious judges, to sustain the unanimous
report of the Judiciary Committee, and not to
vote in prejudice or in ignorance. An enlight-
ened public sentiment will approve of your action.


While I am here I shall try to do my duty to
the State of Connecticut; but the longer I stay,
I can say truthfully, the more I come to prefer
the privacy of a life exempt from public cares and
annoyance, and to think as Shakespeare has so
aptly said, —

*' And this our life, exempt from public haunt,

Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything."



Delivered January 22, 1895, on presenting a Reso-
lution appointing a Comtnission on the Revision
of the Constitution.

Mr. Speaker:

I AM not SO crazy as to expect to obtain from
this Legislature aught that will be of any value
to the unfortunate party to which I belong. I
know how useless it is to hope for anything from
a Legislature so overwhelmingly Republican and
in a State giving such an enormous Republican

We on this side of the House are like the holy
nuns, who, when they join their sacred order,
renounce all the pomp and glory of this world.
We know that they are not for us.

But there are many amendments to the Consti-
tution, upon which all good men are agreed, that
would tend to protect the corporate interests of
the State, to advance the interests of the laboring
masses, to facilitate the administration of justice,
and to promote the welfare and growth of the State
we all love so well.

It is eighty years since this Constitution was
adopted. At that time there were no railroads in


the State, no steamboats ploughing the waters of its
rivers and bays, no life insurance companies, no
savings-banks to speak of. Meriden was a mud-
hole, New Britain a sterile farm. The whole char-
acter of the State has changed in eighty years.

I sat down to read the Constitution the other
day, and one-third is obsolete. We wish to make
the Constitution in harmony with the Constitutions
of our sister States and with the progressive ideas
of the nineteenth century.

A majority of this committee are among the
keenest and best men of the Republican party,
and it would seem as if they could be trusted ; but
beyond all that, this commission must submit their
views to this General Assembly, and every man
here has a vote and can say " yes "or " no " on
any and every question submitted.

I appeal to the intelligent men of this General
Assembly to vote for this resolution, and to vote for
it now, so that this commission can proceed with
their work, hear all parties in interest, and report
to this General Assembly at an early date.

Let us do something in our day and generation,
and not leave everything to posterity to ponder
over and settle.



Delivered May 21, 1895, on the Resolution cre-
ating a Commission on the Revision of the

Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of
Representatives :
I INTRODUCED, early in the session, an act pro-
viding for a commission to report to this General
Assembly amendments to the Constitution of the
State. I am aware that it is not a Democratic
measure, and that my action has not been gener-
ally approved by the Democratic party ; but as I
am not in politics for a living, I am at liberty to
exercise my own judgment. I am a practical man,
living in a practical age ; and if I cannot get all I
want, I am not, therefore, going to give up trying
to get something.

The amendments which I introduced to the Con-
stitution of the State during this session, and which
have been alluded to by the gentleman on the
other side, are, to my thinking, very important.
There is no politics in them. They are such
amendments as good, sound business men and
right thinking men of all parties can agree upon.


The first is one providing that no more special
charters shall be granted, but that all private cor-
porations shall be organized under a general law.
This is a provision in the constitutions of several
States, and would take away from this General
Assembly one-half of its business, shorten the ses-
sion at least one-half, and banish this great hoard
of lobbyists that are constantly haunting these
legislative halls.

The second amendment provides that no bill
appropriating money shall be passed until it has
been printed and on each member's desk at least
three days before its passage. This would prevent
the passage of a vast number of bills appropriating
the public money to an almost unlimited extent
on the last days of the session.

The third provides that no member of the Gen-
eral Assembly shall be eligible to any office which
requires an election by either branch of the House
during his term of office. This amendment has
been commended by every leading newspaper of
both political parties in the State, and would
prevent a large amount of shameful log-rolling,
which has been exercised in times gone by
to elevate men into public position to which
they would never have arrived, except by tak-
ing advantage of their position in the General

While it is true that I introduced a bill for a
commission, it was very differently made up from


the one now before the House, for that commis-
sion was composed of men none of whom, in my
humble opinion, would ever care to go to their
graves, and have it engraved on their tomb-
stones, where their children and their children's
children could see it : " Here lies a man who
dared not do right for fear it would hurt his

If the Joint Standing Committee on Constitu-
tional Amendments had read their Bible more
faithfully instead of attending so many caucuses,
they would have made an entirely different report,
for they would have found that page and verse in
the Bible where it says, " And as ye would that
men should do to you, do ye also to them, like-
wise ; " and they would have found that page and
verse where it says, " Therefore all things whatso-
ever ye would that men should do to you, do ye
even so to them; for this is the law and the
prophets." But King Caucus has once more
triumphed, as he has often in the past, and will
probably oftentimes in the future, over the blessed
teachings of the Bible.

By what theory, or on what claim of justice or
equity, this committee report a commission com-
posed of eighteen Democrats and thirty Republi-
cans is beyond my comprehension, unless it is on
the theory that a Democrat is of no use except to
pay taxes, and to shout as the procession goes by.
But the composition of this commission is in har-


mony with our present system of representation in
this State, — the most unrepresentative, the most
un-RepubUcan, and the most un-Democratic to be
found anywhere in the civiUzed world.

It takes fourteen hundred Democrats to elect
a Representative in this House, while there is
a Representative here for every four hundred
Republicans in the State. In other words, every
single Republican voter in this State has more
political influence than any three Democrats and
out -votes them.

It you look at the Senate, it is still worse. It
takes sixty-six thousand Democrats to elect one
Senator, while there is a Senator for every four
thousand Republicans in Connecticut. In other
words, one Republican vote weighs as much in
this State at the ballot-boxes as that of any fifteen

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Online LibraryRatcliffe HicksSpeeches and public correspondence of Ratcliffe Hicks .. → online text (page 4 of 18)