Henry Markham

18th Governor, Republican

Inaugural Address

Delivered: January 8, 1891


You have just witnessed the final act constituting me Governor of this State. To the people that so generously bestowed upon me this exalted position—the highest in their gift —I return my grateful thanks, and assure them that I feel the deepest gratitude. While I fully appreciate the great honor they have conferred upon me, I am also mindful of the grave and serious responsibilities that accompany that honor.

It shall be my earnest prayer that He, who controls the destinies of all people, may grant me the wisdom, strength, and courage to meet these responsibilities as they may arise during the next four years, in such a manner that I shall justly merit the approbation of those who have confided to me this great trust.

I take pleasure at this time in saying that I am much pleased with the personnel of this Legislature and I think that the people should be congratulated upon the selection they have made of the gentlemen to represent them. I believe you have assembled here with honest intentions, and with a firm determination to do your full duty to the people of the whole State. I trust that you will make for yourselves a reputation that shall equal, if not surpass in excellence, the record of any preceding Legislature, and one that future Legislatures may wisely emulate. It is my earnest desire to work in entire harmony with you, and to be able to approve every item of your legislative work.

In your hands, as members of this Legislature, rests the entire responsibility for your branch of the State Government, and I shall leave it there, assured that the people of the State will grant to you just and full credit for all your official acts, over which I shall not attempt to exert undue influence. It is a pleasure as well as a duty, however, to tender to you, and to each of you, at all times during your deliberations, such assistance as is in my power to give, and I very cordially invite you to inform me of any fact, which, in your judgment, the Executive should know, or that will benefit you in your official capacity, or the interests you represent.

It would be more in accord with my ideas to close my address at this point and to send to your honorable bodies, from time to time, recommendations on the various subjects which will occupy your attention, but, yielding to the force of precedent, I will now communicate to you my views upon some of the more important matters.

The last State election brought very prominently before the people the question of economy in the expenditures of public moneys. In presenting my views upon this subject, it is not my purpose to discuss questions of politics for the purpose of criticising [sic] either of the great political parties of the State. But I may be permitted to say that the Republican party, in Convention assembled in this very chamber, on the thirteenth day of August last, took the initiative on this question and placed in its platform a plank declaring that the State finances should be handled with honesty and rigid economy. As I then and there accepted the conditions imposed by that Convention, and many times thereafter promised the people of the State that, if elected, I would adhere to the pledge made by my party, I deem it proper at this time to state briefly what I consider to be our duty to the people in this respect.

The appropriations made by the last Legislature imposed a burden upon the taxpayers which was so great that, in many instances, people found it exceedingly difficult to procure means with which to pay their taxes. In response to the almost unanimous demand of our citizens for lower taxation, the Republican Convention made a pledge to the people of the State that the nominees of their party, if elected, would limit the rate of annual State taxation to 50 cents on each $100 of assessable property. This radical departure from all precedents in Conventions in this State, as evidenced by their platforms, was fully sustained at the polls, and we, who are clothed with official power by the people, and who are their representatives, are in duty bound to carry out their wishes.

The great burden of this work necessarily rests with you, and I sincerely trust that you will so guard the finances of the State and so equitably distribute the appropriations for all purposes, that the limit prescribed shall not be exceeded. If this pledge is honorably and faithfully adhered to, you will receive the commendations of a grateful people, irrespective of party affiliation.

For your own convenience and as a precaution against errors, I would suggest the adoption of a similar method to that adopted by our national legislators. While it does not appear of record, yet as a matter of fact, the leaders of the party in power in Congress agree upon a gross sum, which constitutes a limit of appropriations, that Congress does not exceed. Then the amount is ascertained which is necessary to meet the fixed charges—that is, amounts arbitrarily fixed by law. The balance is then apportioned according to necessity, or the merits of the subject under consideration. For instance, they agree upon so many millions for public buildings, so many millions for rivers and harbors, so many millions for pensions, and so on, and these various limits are rigidly enforced. .

This method, as you can readily perceive, gives to those who are responsible for the acts of the party in power a perfect understanding of what expenditures any particular Congress will be permitted to make.

You have been spared the labor of determining this limit, for the Republican party, as I have said, fixed a limit of 50 cents and the Democratic party one of 45 cents on the $100 of assessable property, thereby removing all responsibility in that regard on the part of any of your members.

Bearing in mind this limit, I advise you, at the very beginning of your deliberations, to ascertain as nearly as possible the gross receipts from all sources, and to keep strictly within that limit in your appropriations. After deducting the fixed charges, apportion the balance where most needed, and in proportion to the necessities of the public wants and official demands. You will be compelled to ignore many local demands, and I am in hopes that there is not a member of this Legislature who will endeavor to build up his political reputation by advocating appropriations which, at this time, are necessary only to fortify himself in his particular locality.

History teaches us that members of legislative bodies, by a series of trades with their associates, and with a view of advancing the personal aspirations of each, load the taxpayers with excessive burdens. The last Legislature, in particular, suffered at the hands of the people the severest criticism in this regard, and I confidently trust that you will not permit such motives to influence your actions, for nothing would grieve me more than to be compelled to disapprove any of your acts.


What your duty may be in regard to providing means to properly and befittingly represent California at the World's Fair, in 1893, is a difficult question to solve; involving, first, the constitutionality of such an Act; second, the advisability of making an appropriation; and, third, the amount to be appropriated. As to the amount, it is to my mind a purely business proposition, and in dealing with the question you should be guided largely by the benefit which, in your judgment, may inure to the citizens and taxpayers of the State by that method of advertising our products and resources to the patrons of the exposition, which, in fact, will be to the whole world.

Whatever appropriation is made for this purpose should be considered an extraordinary expenditure, and not necessarily one included in the expense of carrying on the State government.


You will be called upon to devise some satisfactory plan for arbitration of disputes and controversies relative to wages and hours of labor, between those who labor and those who employ labor.

The magnitude of the subject should not deter you from making a careful investigation, and I am sure that in your combined efforts you will devise a plan that will be satisfactory in its provisions to both employer and employé [sic] and through which may come that perfect understanding between both parties, so necessary to the success of many enterprises, the preservation of peace and harmony among neighbors, and the elimination of those hardships to the workingmen and those dangers to capital resulting from strikes.

It is claimed by organized bodies of labor, through communications to me, that the eight-hour law on our statute books has been evaded. If the failure to enforce the law arises from an inherent defect in the law itself, I trust that you will remedy the same.


You will observe that the retiring Governor, in his biennial message to the Legislature of the twenty-eighth session, says, "that upwards of $100,000 are expended in the support and maintenance of Commissions and Bureaus; that many of them have been useful, but have outlived their usefulness; while others have been of little use save to those holding offices under them." It is to be deeply regretted that he should retire from office without informing you specifically upon this subject; that is, without pointing out the particular Commission or Bureau that could be dispensed with, that you might take steps to ascertain the situation, and if found expedient, cause the same to be abolished at once. I can only say that $100,000 is a large outlay for useless purposes, and I believe it to be your duty to make all proper efforts to ascertain the truth of this assertion and govern yourselves accordingly.

Hon. John P. Dunn, the retiring Controller, in his last report says:

“In making the estimates of expenditures embodied in this report, I have followed the mandates of the law as it exists, but in doing so I do not desire to be regarded as acquiescing either in the wisdom or necessity of many of the laws. Instead, there are expenses, aggregating large sums, which, in my judgment, are useless for any good purpose whatever, and which ought not to exist as an expense to the State.”

I have read with much interest the able report of the Controller; but I am compelled to say that the same would have been much more satisfactory to me, and I doubt not to you, had he given us in detail the particular laws and the items of expense which he deemed vicious and useless. The taxpayers have a right to know the facts in all such matters as they exist, and it is to be hoped that you will give this subject your immediate and earnest attention, to the end that such abuses may be corrected.


During the last campaign I received many communications, asking for an expression of my views on the Australian ballot system, which I answered by saying that I had no prejudices either for or against the system, and would approve any law that would materially improve the method now in use in this State. Nothing has transpired that has caused me to change my views, but I suggest that you make a thorough examination of the practical workings of the Australian system before determining to adopt it instead of our own. Every honest voter would hail with joy the adoption of this or any other method of conducting elections, whereby the sacredness of the ballot-box would be better preserved.

If, in your judgment, our present system needs revision, I suggest that all the features of our present law which are practical and effective be retained, and those features of the Austalian [sic] or other system, which may be considered beneficial, be added thereto or incorporated therein.


The increase in population in many sections of the State, during the past few years, has been so great that the present apportionment, constituting the Senatorial and Assembly Districts, does not give representation in proportion to population.

Under the Constitution, the number of Representatives cannot be increased, and certain localities will necessarily have decreased representation, while others should be increased. In view of this fact, the State should be redistricted, in accordance with Section 6 of Article IV of the Constitution, which contains the following language:

“And the Legislature shall, at its first session after each census, adjust such districts and reapportion the representation so as to preserve them as near equal in population as may be.”

I therefore urge that you prepare and enact the necessary measure in a spirit of justice and on a basis of fairness to all sections of the state, so that each county shall have equal and exact representation in the Legislature, in the proportion that its population bears to that of the whole State.


All political parties in this State agree upon the propriety of the exclusion of the Chinese, and are anxious that the law forbidding their importation shall be strictly enforced. The law is being constantly violated, and the influx of these people is very great. Congress should be requested to take steps to enforce the law as it stands, to remedy the present law wherever it may be found defective, and to extend the date as far beyond 1892 as possible. Provision should be made for guarding the borders now almost wholly unprotected.

I also recommend that you request Congress to provide means, whereby the insane among the Chinese can be returned to their own country. You will observe by the reports of the Stockton Insane Asylum that there are now one hundred and thirty in the various institutions, who are cared for at an annual cost of $18,000, and are occupying room required for the comfort of our own citizens.


It was not my intention to make any suggestion upon the subject of irrigation, as the reports of the practical working of the Wright bill appear to be favorable and encouraging.

I am, however, in receipt of an official communication from the State Board of Forestry, to which briefly I desire to call your attention. I think each of you will agree with me, that the future prosperity of the State is inseparably bound up in the assured continuance of an abundant, unstinted supply of water for irrigating purposes; and that the never-failing character of the streams and watercourses is greatly dependent upon maintaining and preserving the timber which shades and protects the sources from which the supply is derived.

The Board says, however, in this communication, that there is imminent danger to this preservation, and that the abuse of the law, as it now stands, "is at all times a menace to the industries dependent upon irrigation." This official statement is entitled to serious consideration, on account of the magnitude of the evils which would follow the destruction of the timber, and the consequent diminution of the supply of water for irrigation. I therefore recommend that, if upon investigation, the law as it stands is capable of abuses, which, as stated, menace the future prosperity of the State, it be remedied immediately.


One important branch of our industries, that of hydraulic mining, is at a standstill, and will never be revived, unless vigorous steps be taken by the General Government.

Congress and the Courts have placed the strong and powerful arm of the law upon this industry, and crushed it out of existence. I need not repeat its history, for it is familiar to all of you and to the people of the State. No relief could be expected from the General Government, were the workings of these mines beneficial to the interests of this State alone. It was from the gold fields of California, however, that the millions were taken that assisted this nation so materially in her greatest financial peril.

These same gold fields have yielded the enormous amount of nearly a billion and a half of the precious metal, thereby replenishing the treasury of the United States with that needed medium of exchange. It is said that it will be difficult, if not impossible, to devise means whereby the gold can be extracted in paying quantities without harm to the farm owners in the valleys, or injury to the navigation of certain streams. If that be true, it should be avoided. But I have such confidence in the combined wisdom of the sixty-six millions of people in this country, that I feel safe in saying that if an earnest effort were made on the part of the General Government for that purpose, the result would be accompanied with profit to the whole country.

In my judgment, no industry would more richly repay a reasonable outlay on the part of the Government than this.

I suggest, therefore, that the subject be thoroughly agitated, Congress memorialized, and our Senators and Representatives urged to take all necessary steps to bring the matter properly before Congress at the earliest moment possible. Congress properly expends thousands of dollars every year in experiments and investigations which, in the opinion of its members, will promote the public interests of the country. For instance, a special committee has been created on irrigation of arid lands, and a liberal appropriation is annually made for the purpose of studying the subject. The most thoroughly qualified men of the age are employed for this work, and all the means that science and skill can evolve are brought into requisition in solving the problems. Many other instances, familiar to all, of the liberal action of the Government, could be cited. Why should not Congress treat this question in a similar manner, and assist in a solution of the difficulties surrounding the production of gold? It is a matter of national interest, for this metal is accepted by all men as a medium of exchange. Within the borders of California, millions upon millions of gold are locked up in the bowels of the earth, awaiting the genius of man to devise some feasible method of release, and I urge you take the initiative in obtaining the assistance of the Federal Government.

There are many subjects, which I have not mentioned, upon which I will communicate my views to you, from time to time, during the session.

Before closing, permit me to say, that as members of this great nation, we should feel truly grateful that our country is at peace with all the world and is so highly respected by the nations of the earth.

Every person, within the borders of our own State, should feel a just pride in the high position she now occupies in the great sisterhood of States.

Nothing could be more encouraging than the present outlook, affecting nearly every branch of her industries. The legislation in the first session of this Congress, is especially encouraging to the rapid development of a very large number of our chief horticultural and mineral resources.

Those interested in the production of the raisin, the orange, the prune, and other fruits, and in the manufacture of sweet wines, have received substantial encouragement from the General Government.

The vast silver mines show very gratifying and largely increased activity, while the immense deposits of tin, so long known to us, but absolutely valueless, are now being developed, and will add enormously to our productions.

Thanking you for your very kind attention, I wish you, individually and as the representatives of the people, a pleasant, harmonious, and eminently successful session.