Hiram Johnson

23rd Governor, Republican

Second Inaugural Address

Delivered: January 5, 1915

First Inaugural Address - January 3, 1911


Tonight for the second time, with all that comes with an occasion of this character, I take the oath as the Chief Executive of California. I take it with the same high resolve, the same sacred dedication, the same solemnity of duty to be performed, that four years ago upon this very rostrum, we commenced our task. Non could then foretell what the future held for us, nor whether the ambitious projects for a rejuvenated and regenerated state were possible of fruition. Four years ago we voiced our hopes and our aspirations. In four years those hopes and aspirations have seen their realization, and have become definite settled policies of a great commonwealth. What then was empirical and doubtful has become certain and definite. When the new philosophy of government, bort of love of justice for all humanity, was promulgated, so brief a period ago, few believed its consummation possible. In a single administration a marvelous change has bee wrought, a change surpassing in the completeness of the metamorphosis of the government what has been witnessed by any other commonwealth. The doubt has been dissipated and the darkness that then we faced has been illumined by the sunlight of popular rule. A state has bee freed politically, its public servants yielding now no allegiance but to the state ; the sinister invisible government so familiar to American commonwealths has been banished ; boss rule has been made permanently impossible by direct nominations, direct legislation and the recall ; true democracy by the adoption of its instrumentalities has been more nearly approached ; suffrage has bee extended to women ; election of judges, school officials, and county officers has been made non-partisan ; the public utilities are controlled and regulated by the state ; the business of the state has been centralized and systematized under a Board of Control, and corruption and favoritism have been eliminated ; text books have bee made free of cost to the pupils in our schools ; a civil service law has destroyed political patronage and is striving for merit and efficiency in public service ; prisons and reform schools reflect the humane and enlightened policy of a new state ; a fuller measure of social and industrial justice has been accorded ; and the state, while conserving all material interests, first concerns itself with an conserves its humanity. The social program buy a few short years ago thought the vain dream of idealists, the program which gave to women who toil shorter hours and more happiness, and to men something of the justice that had been denied them ; that has covered with the mantle of care and tenderness of the state, the inured and the maimed members of society, has planted the beacon light of social justice and humanity far beyond the point to which the most ambitious commonwealth yet has gone.


All this four years ago, we hoped and prayed for. Today, it is done. That it has been well done only those who live in a bygone age where morals and humanity were forgotten in materialism, will for an instant deny; and that the sovereign people of the State of California believe it to be just, and to have been well done, was overwhelmingly attested on the third of November last.

What has been done by the patriotic and unselfish men and women in the brief period of for years is the touchstone and encouragement for men and women in the four years yet to come, and we turn form the past, glowing with pride in its accomplishment and mellowed with the good that has been done, to the future so rich with promise.

Our people have pointed the way To them has been submitted the work of the past four years, and those who have been their instruments and trustees in the performance of that work, never wavering in their optimism and implicit confidence in the soundness of heart of the people, submitted in detail their efforts and the new policies that were put in practice. Immediate and overwhelming has been the response from all our people. I say all, for whether you look at the determination of the electorate in our high mountains, in our fertile valleys, to our farmers, our merchants or our toilers, to our land of the south, or that of the north, or of the east, or of the west, from every locality and in every class in the November election came approbation, endorsement, approval and the mandate for continuance. I take it, therefore, that our first duty is to perfect, preserve and perpetuate the various measures which so recently have had such emphatic sanction, and then upon the glorious path of progress so recently blazed to go forward toward the light.


At this moment, it is not my purpose to set forth to you any definite program. In the biennial message some few recommendations are made. Work there is in abundance for every unselfish representative. There are subjects fraught with such tremendous possibilities that those who are here animated by the desire to aid the state and promote the happiness of its people, will find ample scope for their industry and their talents. If we may in small degree aid the ever increasing number of our unemployed ( none, of course, locally can solve the problem) ; if we may find the appropriate mode of marketing farm products ; if we may make the lot of those upon our soil a little less harsh, with a system of rural credits ; if we may aid our irrigation projects and cause our arid lands to blossom ; if we may conserve the waters of our state yet remaining and justly control the use of those held privately ; if we may prosper legitimate business by the destruction of illegitimate exploitation ; if a bit more of happiness may be given our humanity, if we may render justice wherever injustice has prevailed, if we may do all or any of these things, or any part of any one of them, we will have performed the duty that is ours and we will have kept pace with the just closing most marvelous era of California.


None of this is to be done hastily in ill-considered, or half understood legislation. All of the concentration and intelligence, ability, education and knowledge that we possess will be required for our task ; and if within a few brief months we may not do it all, or any of it, we may at least with the highest intelligence that there is among us, set it upon the way that those who follow may reach the goal. The work requires the highest and wisest statesmanship. It will have none of petty partisanship. You of the legislature here represent and typify the best in the citizenship of a free people. You bring to your tasks the breadth of vision, the love of country and of state, that can only be felt in its fullness by a people who are the country and the state. Peculiarly endowed with opportunity , singularly gifted as a part of a citizenship unexcelled in all the world, you will rise to the responsibilities that are yours and contribute your part to the destiny of a glorious land. If there be some small souls who shall raise a partisan barrier behind which they skulk for petty personal or partisan advantage, in the solemn task that is yours and mine, we will put them aside and leave them in the darkness from which they have not yet emerged, and harmoniously the rest of us will go forward. In the spirit in which the duty of legislation is approached, will each be received. Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that now at the close of a wondrous period of development politically and progress governmentally in our state, at the beginning of another period of promise and of hope, all may dedicate themselves to the work in hand with the single thought, and purpose, and hope and aspiration, of a sacred duty to be conscientiously performed.