Presented: January 8, 1887
With profound gratitude to the people who have elevated me, by their voluntary suffrages, to the Chief Magistracy of the great State of California, I assume the office, invoking Divine assistance, and relying upon the generous support of my fellow-citizens.
It is with a grateful heart that I contemplate the fact that our country is at peace with all nations, and that it is enjoying unwonted prosperity.
After a retirement of nearly quarter of a century, the Democratic party is again in power, and the government is being administered according to the precepts and upon the principles of Jefferson, Madison, and Jackson. The bitterness engendered by civil war is fast giving place to fraternal love, under an equal and just administration of Federal affairs, and I believe the day is not far distant when political division on sectional lines will be unknown in this country.
It is proper, and in accordance with usage, that I should indicate, at this time, the policy which shall govern me in the administration of my office.
I make no doubt that the wisdom of the Legislature will be equal to the duty devolving upon it, and that a just solution of this vexed question will be found.
I am aware that appropriations aggregating $526,000 were made for charitable purposes and the publication of school books, yet the astonishing fact remains that the ordinary expenses of the government during the last two years exceeded those of the previous two years by nearly $2,100,000!
No one is more jealous of the State's honor and credit, more opposed to a credit system, and all the evils which it entails, than myself, but before placing additional burdens upon the people I would advise that scrutiny be made into the items of expenditure, and the expense accounts of the several State institutions, with the view to retrench and reform. "A penny saved is a penny made," is a homely and true adage.
Raising additional money by increased taxation is not the only way to enable the State to carry on the government and meet its engagements. Extravagance and waste in the management of the public business should be discountenanced, not only because it necessitates the placing of unnecessary burdens upon the people, but because it impairs their ability to bear the burden by lessening the value of their property. It is demoralizing to the public sentiment by fostering loose ideas of honesty and fair dealing.
The policy of permitting the State's expenditures to exceed its receipts, or income, in a time of peace and prosperity like the present, cannot be defended, and should be speedily changed.
I desire to call your special attention to that part of the report which refers to work schools, or industrial training. The subject is becoming one of absorbing interest to all good citizens. The success which has followed the establishment of such schools in St. Louis, Chicago, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Boston, and New York, proves that they are meeting a real want in the community.
It is admitted by the more thoughtful and philosophic educators that the present system of public schools is based too largely on the old scholastic systems of learning. Our most scholarly men, the educators of our country, from the Presidents and Faculties of our Universities to the public school teachers, are, from the nature of their position, removed from the active business pursuits of the great mass of the people, and cannot be expected to instruct their pupils in arts and trades of which they themselves have little knowledge or experience. Their education has made them love learning in the abstract more than the sciences, as applied to daily life. Their influence tends to foster a love for books and literary or professional life, so that the majority of their students who are able to graduate, aspire to the professions of law or medicine, or other scholarly pursuits.
The great mass of our public school children are obliged to assist their parents when they leave the grammar schools, so that the primary schools are really of the very greatest importance, in their education.
It is generally conceded by those who have studied the subject most thoroughly, that Froebel's method of training all the faculties of the child, is the most perfect of any that has been yet devised.
Hence, it seems to me, that the students at the State Normal Schools should be thoroughly instructed in this system, so that in due time all parts of the State could be supplied with primary teachers, competent to lay the foundation for a thorough education, developing the mechanical and artistic faculties, as well as the purely intellectual.
The efforts already being made by the people for establishing manual and technical schools should also be liberally encouraged. The technical departments of the University should be made as valuable as possible to the people throughout the State. It would be well to offer special inducements to public school students to arouse a greater interest in the industrial arts and sciences.
The vast agricultural, manufacturing, and mining industries of the State need the most enlightened treatment, in order to compete in the markets of the world. It is but just to those who are to conduct these interests in the future that they should be prepared in as full a measure as possible to meet such great responsibilities. I would suggest, therefore, that your Committee on Education should make a thorough investigation as to the wants of the people in the way of better industrial training, and the best way of meeting those wants.
There would seem to be no limits to the natural resources of bountiful Nature in our State. All we need is skill to develop them. All the governments of Europe are making great efforts to educate their people. Schools of weaving and pottery, of chemical products, of dyeing, of all kinds of manufactures, in fact, are now in successful operation in Germany, Austria, and France. England is following their example.
American laborers are already feeling the presence of sharp competition, so that in self-defense we will soon, as a nation, be compelled to exercise all our powers to meet the requirements of the age and maintain the proud supremacy which American laborers have hitherto held in the world. California has always generously rewarded labor; let us liberally provide now, for the best education of the children of laborers, so that our Golden Gate may ever be hospitably open and the white sails of commerce carry, not only grains and fruits, and the raw products of the State, but the ingenious and artistic productions of skillful hands and cultured, fertile intellects.
Contracts for the sale of shares in corporations on margins, or to be delivered at a future day. are declared void by the State Constitution; nevertheless it is notorious that such sales are openly made in the Stock Boards doing business under franchises granted by the State. This manner of dealing, particularly in mining stocks, is most mischievous, and should be prohibited by law. In fact, the business of buying and selling shares of mining companies needs regulating, and certain practices of the brokers or dealers in these shares should be made felonies and punished as such. As at present conducted, the business fosters the gambling spirit among the people, and leaves them at the mercy of the speculative and dishonest broker through whom all transactions must be made. A broker should be compelled to report immediately the numbers of the shares of any stock he has purchased for his client, so that the particular shares might be identified and traced, and he should be held to account for the identical shares bought, upon pain of being prosecuted for felony. The recent failures among this class of brokers and the disgraceful disclosures as to their modes of transacting business, demand legislative interference and a speedy reform.
The Bank Commissioners have several times called attention to the delay in the settlement and final distribution of the assets of suspended and bankrupt banking corporations among their depositors and creditors. A number of savings banks have been in course of liquidation for five, six, and eight years, and are still renting offices and paying salaries to clerks, attorneys, etc., with little or no business to transact. A general law compelling the managers of all suspended banks to wind up the business of the bank within three years, or in default thereof to turn over all its assets, books, etc., to the Bank Commissioners would, in my opinion, be in the interest of' creditors and depositors and tend to inspire confidence among the people.
General laws should be passed regulating the laying down of electric wires in the cities and towns of the State, also pipes and other conduits for conveying steam, salt water, and hot air, and regulating the sale and distribution of steam and hot air to the public or to those whose premises abut on the streets in which the pipes are laid. The system in vogue of granting to each applicant the right to erect poles and stretch wires along the streets is becoming an intolerable nuisance in several of the cities of the State. To compel the placing of these wires under ground without providing a plan whereby the wires of several companies might be laid in one and the same conduit, would greatly aggravate the nuisance and throw a great burden upon property owners in the shape of increased expenditures for street repairs. And I am satisfied that a limitation ought to be placed upon municipal corporations in regard to granting franchises or privileges to use the public streets by railroad and other corporations and private persons. No franchise should be granted for a longer term than twenty-five years, and none extended until it has expired, or within one or two years of its expiration. Such a prohibition would prevent, in the next twenty or forty years, the giving away of franchises which, in the City of San Francisco alone, are worth millions of dollars.
I trust that the Legislature just convened may speedily get to work and industriously labor to perform the duties devolving upon it. Many important subjects of legislation imperatively demand solution at its hand, and the session being limited to sixty days, there is no time to waste in idle debates, or useless adjournments; and in order to avoid unpleasant consequences and of being misunderstood hereafter, I deem it proper to state that I shall not deem every failure of the Legislature to perform some duty as creating such an "extraordinary occasion" within the meaning of the Constitution, as will necessitate or justify the Governor in calling an extra session of the Legislature. On the contrary, I shall accept such non-action as deliberate, and shall leave the responsibility with the negligent members and their several constituencies, the people of their respective counties.
Elected upon a platform and by a party pledging its candidates to an honest and economical administration of the affairs of the State, I recognize the force and wisdom of the obligation, and intend to administer the office of Governor upon business principles, in a business-like manner, and hope to receive the assistance of all those elected at the same time, and acting under the responsibility of the same or similar pledges.
The distinguished soldier whom I succeed as Governor will take with him into retirement, from the cares and responsibilities of office, the good wishes of every citizen of the State for his continued health and prosperity; and I trust it will be one of the first, as it certainly will be one of the most pleasing of my official duties, to urge upon the National Government the justice of his claim to be restored to his rights and pension as a retired officer of the United States Army. General Stoneman having resigned in order to enter the civil, service of this State, it is eminently fit and proper that the people of California should see to it that he suffers no loss from obeying their behests and entering their service.