Earl Warren

30th Governor, Republican

Third Inaugural Address

Delivered: January 8, 1951

First Inaugural Address - January 4, 1943
Second Inaugural Address - January 6, 1947


Today we start a new administration and a new century of statehood.

The conditions which face us are not what we had hoped they would be. I am sure that as we celebrated our centennial, all of us were looking forward with the keenest anticipation to the opportunity of devoting our time and energy to the peaceful development of our State.

But that pleasant approach to our duties has been denied us. We must take conditions as we find them.

Those conditions make an ominous picture, and compel us to meet in a solemn mood under the shadow not just of a possible but a probable third world war.

Eight years ago, when I addressed you at the start of my first term, our Nation was in one of the darkest hours of World War II. Our thinking throughout the Session of 1943 was cast in a serious mold, and the legislation it developed was geared to enabling the State of California and its people to make an outstanding contribution to victory and peace.

Four years later, when I again took the oath of office, we met in an atmosphere of hope. The military victory had been achieved. Our fighting men were returning home. The organization of the United Nations, representing the aspirations of the peace-loving peoples of the world, had been established. We were able, in such an atmosphere, to give our full attention to measures necessary for the continued progress of California and the integration of millions of new citizens.

I recall how concerned I was eight years ago, and four years ago, about our duty in keeping our State abreast of the needs of the people. Today I must say to you that I have never been more concerned – I have never had a deeper sense of responsibility for my obligations – I have never approached my job with greater seriousness than I do at this moment. I have never felt more keenly the need for complete cooperation between the Executive and Legislative Branches of our State Government. I have never been more eager to set aside every personal and private consideration in order to attend to what must be done to safeguard our people, and to make possible a wholesome and rewarding life experience for them under all circumstances.

If World War III comes, it will be the war that was envisioned and threatened by the Communist conspiracy many years ago, and which has only awaited the ability of that conspiracy to strike effectively. The zero hour may be rapidly approaching. Already, a third of the people of the world are behind the Iron Curtain. Another third do not know from the beginning of any day until its end, when they will be subjected to aggression on the part of Russia or her satellites like that suffered by Korea.

We can take little comfort from the fact that we are not on the periphery of the Iron Curtain, or that great oceans physically set our continent apart. We can take little comfort from the fact that war has not been formally declared against us. Already more than 50,000 Americans have been killed or wounded, or are missing in action, in Korea.

In any appraisal of the present global situation, it must be borne in mind that World War II was started with a slow fuse. The fuse was lighted by the Fascists on September 1, 1939, and it burned until June 15, 1940, when the so-called “phony” war ended in the frightful explosion of the blitzkrieg.

It may be that another such time fuse is burning at this moment. How much longer or shorter it will be cannot be predicted, but we can be sure of this — that if and when World War III explodes, it will exceed in violence and destruction anything that has occurred in the history of mankind. No human being on the face of this earth will be safe from its repercussions. Certainly no one in America will be safe, because, as the sole remaining force capable of preventing this world involvement, we are the main object of the wrath of Communism.

I do not predict World War III. I hope and pray it will never come. I believe that if we marshal our full military and spiritual force; if we dedicate our Nation to the well-being of the human race; if we demonstrate our willingness to make individual as well as collective sacrifices; if we work together as a united people — our Nation will be so strong and will be able to give such leadership to the remainder of the friendly world that even power-mad, hate consumed Totalitarians will have the caution not to precipitate the awful event.

These aims must be the goal of every American at this critical hour. The necessities of the situation are great - far greater that they appear on the surface. Only Divine guidance can supply the strength and the start this new administration. I speak of them, not as a matter of preachment to you, but as a matter of self-dedication for me.

Civil Defense

Throughout the session, I want to exchange views with you on the needs of our State. Today, in accordance with the mandate of our Constitution, I desire to express myself concerning some of the matters that appear to me to be of paramount importance.

First and foremost is our preparation for civil defense. If the lives of the people are not protected, and if the cities they have been building for a hundred years are not preserved from fire and brimstone, all our other efforts will be of very little consequence.

I am aware that there are those who still believe “it can’t happen here.” I know that others hold civil defense preparations to be unnecessary until an overt act against our Country is committed. However, you and I have already acted upon the warning of the National Government — including its military establishment — that any future war against America will start with a bolt out of the blue; that the attack will be directed against civilians and our war production centers; and that it will be of such intensity as to make the blitzkrieg seem a sham battle by comparison.

We have such production the centers in California. They are among the most vital in America, and they will be greatly expanded in the months to come. They are prime targets, and we are the farthest western continental outpost of the Nation. In such circumstances, ordinary prudence demands that we make civil defense our major objective - today, tomorrow, and until the “all clear” signals comes; and with it the opportunity to concentrate once more upon the pursuits of peaceful men.

At the special session last September, you created the Office of Civil Defense. As its director, I appointed Major General Walter M. Robertson, U.S. Army, Retired - a brilliant fighting man of World War II and a distinguished executive. He has recruited an administrative staff in accordance with the plan of organization developed by our Civil Defense Planning Board, and with the splendid cooperation of Lieutenant General Albert C. Wedemeyer, Commander of the Sixth Army.

California’s program is developing. It is abreast of the Federal Civil Defense directives in all respects, and in advance of them in some. Local government is cooperating. We can and will continue to build upon this foundation at least as speedily as the National Government may direct.

We do not know what proportions the program may assume, but every level of government will have a responsibility. This includes financial responsibility. Congress last week passed, and the President signed, a bill establishing the national policy for civil defense. This legislation authorized a three billion dollar program, its cost to be borne by Federal, State and local Government. Congress has yet to appropriate the federal share, and to determine the rules under which it will be administered in the states. It is estimated it will be necessary for the State of California and its subdivisions to contribute an aggregate of $140,000,000 to $150,000,000 to the program. The proportion in which this burden must be shared by the State and local Government will have to be determined by the Legislature. As far as the operating expenses of our civil defense program as presently conceived are concerned, we believe it will be possible to finance these within current revenues.

At all events, we should condition ourselves here and now to the necessity of doing on a cooperative basis promptly and without equivocation everything our Federal Government advises us is essential for the protection of our people. Halfway measures will not suffice. Unless our program is made fully effective, it will be worse than useless, because a mere gesture would only mislead our people into a false sense of security.

Every department of State Government must help, and every employee of the State must consider himself a part of the civil defense establishment. They have already qualified by taking the oath of allegiance recommended by the President of the United States and required by you at the special session last September. They have given every indication of their willingness to be helpful, and I have no doubt that they will all respond loyally and enthusiastically to any call to duty.

We are also working with city and county governments on a cooperative basis and in a manner that indicates that an integrated defense program can be developed within the framework and in accordance with our traditional relationships between State and local Governments.

Highway Patrol Reserve

As an integral part of the civil defense program, it will be necessary to establish volunteer reserve components for our fire, policy and other services. These will give all Californians the opportunity to participate personally in the defense of their State. It will give sinews to the program.

These preparations will necessarily include an expansion of the California State Highway Patrol, which will have the tremendous responsibility of keeping traffic moving on our highways in any emergency. In part, this expansion can be accomplished by the establishment of a Highway Patrol Reserve. The Commissioner of the Patrol advises me that such a reserve would be invaluable in coping with the severe emergencies which must be anticipated in our calculations. It may also be of great assistance to him in meeting the problem of withdrawals from the ranks of the Highway Patrol for duty in the armed services. You considered such a measure at the special session in September. I recommend its enactment at this time.

Rainy Day Fund

At the special session, you authorized, until the end of this fiscal year, the use of the $75,000,000 “Rainy Day” Fund for disaster relief — when the Legislature is not in session — upon order of the Governor with the approval of the State Disaster Council, the Controller and the Director of Finance. Because of the increasing and continuing danger of disaster, I recommend that the provisions of this law be extended from June 30, 1951, to June 30, 1952. In case of disaster it would indeed be a Rainy Day Fund.

Veterans Benefits

I would like to have our men fighting in Korea or awaiting other assignment to know that we are serious about civil defense and that, as a State, we are willing if necessary to make the same sacrifices we are asking of them. I would like them to know, also, that we are thinking already of the day they will return to us. It is not too early to recognize their service, and to provide at this session of our Legislature that they and their dependents shall be made eligible for all the state benefits that have been provided for their comrades of World War II.

In addition to the statutory amendments which this suggestion involves I recommend that you authorize the submission to the people, when present funds have been committed, of a new bond issue for financing veterans’ farm and home purchase loans. These bonds, as you know, are entirely self-liquidating. They do not represent a financial burden upon the State, yet they ease the burden on thousands of veterans in the purchase of their own homes.

Child Care Centers

Many of our men-in-arms left behind them wives and small children with the necessity of the wives seeking employment. Unless these wives will have a place where their children can receive care and protection during working hours, the opportunity to supplement their government allotments is denied them. We are told by the government that at least six million more people must be brought into the work force of our Country during the coming months. Many of them must be women. Thus there is both personal and national economic necessity for continuing our child care centers, which originated as a federal program during World War II and have been subsidized since 1946 by the State. These centers are also socially desirable in the present circumstances because neglected children of working mothers are likely to become community problems. I therefore recommend that legislation continuing childcare centers be enacted, and that this be considered as an urgency matter because the present authorization expires on February 15.

Labor Relations

Inherent in any defense production program is the effective utilization of civilian manpower. To accomplish this, the cooperation and mutual good-will of business and industrial management, labor and agriculture is extremely important. I have evidence, based on conferences with these groups and on reports of the Departments of Employment and Industrial Relations, that a highly cooperative spirit now exists. If that spirit is fostered, it can contribute magnificently to the defense effort of California.

Throughout World War II, with my hearty approval, you followed the policy of not enacting legislation that would irritate labor-management relations. In consequence, California was comparatively free from economic dislocations from that cause, and its loss of man-days was far below the national average. If your legislative policy paid dividends then, it will pay dividends now. I commend it to you again.

Political and Economic Equality

The population of our State represents every ancestral heritage on earth. Each contributes to the economic and cultural life of California. None should be subjected to differences of treatment — either thoughtless or deliberate — that might diminish its ability to make the fullest contribution of which it is capable. I have previously called your attention to the desirability of continuous, objective reporting of any instances of racial discrimination that may occur within our borders. This is a proper job for State Government, and public harmony will be promoted if it is undertaken. It is a job that should be performed by a commission of air-minded, representative citizens. I am firmly of the opinion that enlightenment on the subject will enrich the spirit of tolerance among groups which, throughout the life of our State, has been one of California’s richest traditions and greatest assets. I recommend that a Commission on Political and Economic Equality be created at this session of the Legislature.

Workmen’s Compensation—Unemployment Insurance

The sense of security that enables men and women who work for wages to do their best, will also be enhanced if they know that adequate provision has been made for them under the workmen’s compensation and unemployment insurance programs. I urge you to examine these systems to determine whether they are fully serving the humanitarian purposes for which they were established.

Agricultural Labor

In the field of labor relations and the well being of those who toil, there are some special situations that merit your attention. One of these has to do with the status of seasonal agricultural workers, without whose help it would be impossible to produce the tremendous quantities of foods and fibres which the Nation needs from California.

Because of the numbers involved and because so many of them wind up the harvest season there, the problem of these workers has been particularly acute in the San Joaquin Valley. Their situation has put our State in a bad light throughout the Nation. Both the conditions and the publicity can be changed for the better — not by drastic action but by working at the problem and making progress along sound lines.

With this in view, and at the suggestion of the Central Valley Empire Association and the San Joaquin Valley Supervisors Association, I appointed a committee last spring to study the problem. In the interests of time, the committee particularized its survey in the San Joaquin Valley, but its conclusions, of course, relate to the problem statewide.

The committee represented employer and employee groups, education, social welfare, and the general public. Its report, which was submitted on December 15th, was unanimous in its findings, and I commend it to your consideration. It points the way to sensible and needed changes in the laws governing the operations of labor contractors and the inspection of farm labor housing. It deals with the welfare, health, and educational aspects of the problem. I am sure you will be able to use it as the basis for correcting many of the undesirable conditions. A satisfactory remedying of these conditions might also result in increasing the availability of an efficient farm labor force.

I agree with many of the committee’s recommendations, but I would go farther in the matter of unemployment insurance. I believe that we should include in our State Unemployment Insurance System now at least those workers who were covered by social security legislation passed by Congress last year—without waiting for federal action on the whole problem.

The matter of finding enough workers for our harvests has already given indications of developing into a major manpower problem. It is apparent that farmers will be hard put to find replacements for their workers leaving for war industry and the armed forces, and to handle the increasing crops. It may well be that assistance such as that given during World War II by the Farm Production Council will be needed, and I suggest that you give the matter your earnest attention.


Both farmers and the public generally have been troubled in recent weeks by another very serious problem. For those in the South, it has been a deficiency of water. In the area north of Tehachapi, floods have struck and caused great damage.

The floods in Northern California emphasize the need of completing at the earliest possible date all the flood-control projects that Congress has previously authorized to the United States Army Corps of Engineers, and the multi-purpose projects of that agency and the United States Bureau of Reclamation. I have worked on this problem. So has the State Water Resources Board. I urge that you also exercise your influence on behalf of the speedy completion of these projects. Meanwhile I suggest that $2,000,000 be made available for assisting local jurisdictions, and as it may be needed, in repairing flood damage. You have approved this as state policy in the past under similar circumstances.

In Southern California, the prolonged drought emphasizes the need for a solution of our controversy with our neighboring State of Arizona involving the waters of the Colorado River. If we could have a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States confirming the amount of water each state is entitled to, both could plan for the future and determine how their additional needs for water might be filled.


In desperate efforts to obtain additional water for the millions who reside in Southern California, many communities and private interstates have endeavored to produce rain artificially by “seeding” the rain clouds. The possibilities of both good and evil are inherent in these efforts. Our State Water Resources Board is of the opinion that unless the process is carefully understood, great injury can be done. It therefore recommends that all who engage in the business be placed under a licensing and reporting system. I recommend such attention to you.


An associated problem has to do with the air pollution condition commonly known as “Smog,” particularly in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The control of these conditions is by state law vested in county and regional air pollution control districts. The Los Angeles Air Pollution Control District administers the program in Los Angeles County. Without interfering with this arrangement, I believe there is a responsibility upon the State to determine what effect smog has upon the health of millions who reside there and the others who come there from other parts of the State and Nation. Recently there have been dire forebodings of the effect smog has upon health of those who are subjected to it, and many lurid statements have appeared in the news. The fact is that very little is known about it because there has been detached studies made by universities and public health departments. In the absence of a complete study by the Federal Government, I believe our State is in a better position to correlate, supplement, and evaluate these endeavors than any other agency; and, inasmuch as it bears directly upon the health of so many millions of our people, I believe the State has a responsibility to do something about it. I therefore recommend that an adequate appropriation be made to the State Department of Public Health to determine the effect of smog upon the health of the people.

Social Welfare

Although our major attention at this session will have a direct relationship to the world crisis, we must not lose sight of the fact that a society can go forward, but it is impossible for it to come to a full stop; the only alternative to progress is retrogression. We must continue to make progress in California. If, in this emergency, the states of the Union generally were abandoned their plans for the improvement of life in America, they would only aid and abet the purpose of the Communists to supplant their way of ours. With such unwitting help, they could seriously weaken us without ever having fired a shot.

I ask you, therefore, to do whatever is necessary to keep out laws in tune with progress.

Aid to Permanently Disabled

In the field of social welfare, I recommend specifically that you create the category of Aid to the Permanently and Totally Disabled which was included in H.R. 6000 by Congress last year; an action you deferred in September in order to take more time to consider it. This is a particularly deserving group and could well have been the first category of public aid to be established. They should no longer be slighted.

Uniform Support of Dependents Law

I recommend, as I did at the Budget Session last March, the enactment of a Uniform Support of Dependents Law, which is needed to enforce the support of dependents by defaulting husbands and fathers who cross state lines in an attempt to evade their responsibilities. I am sure that none of you has the slightest sympathy for such recreant persons, and I believe in the proposed legislation the questions asked by some of your members last year have been disposed of satisfactorily.

Care of the Senile

I recommend that we modernize and humanize our program for the care of the senile. These aged people, when they are not mentally ill, are the responsibility of the counties. When they are mentally ill, the State has the responsibility. But because often it is difficult to determine the border line between senility and mental illness, and because the county hospitals have been crowded beyond capacity, many of them have been sent to state hospitals when they were not mentally ill and when they would have been much happier and better off near their homes. The conference held at Sacramento on this problem last September came to the conclusion that “additional and more appropriate public facilities” should be constructed and operated by the counties, with the cost to be shared by the State. I believe the State should accept that conclusion, and I recommend that you make construction funds available on a matching basis. Old age assistance, payments which can be made to persons confined to medical institutions but not to those declared to be mentally ill, will help the counties to meet operating costs. This can be both a humanitarian and an economic program.

Mentally Ill in County Hospitals

In 1949, you enacted a measure permitting the commitment of acute mentally ill persons to county psychopathic hospitals for 90-day periods. There are many cases of mental disorder that could be cleared up within this space of time. Some relief from the pressure on state hospital facilities would result. To encourage the counties to utilize this provision of the law, I recommend a subsidy plan similar to the tuberculosis subsidy.

Alcoholic Clinics

California has the unenviable of a high rate of chronic alcoholism. During the past two years, your interim committees have been studying a proposal to establish a research center with out-patient clinical facilities in Northern California, and another in Southern California, each involving a capital expenditure of $2,200, 000. I recommend you favorable action on this proposal at the present session.

Health Insurance

As you know, I have been interested for years in a System of Prepaid Medical Care that would make all the benefits of modern medicine accessible to people of modest incomes. At each session of the Legislature, I have sponsored a bill to accomplish this result. I am still of the opinion that this one of the major problems of life, and that a way must be found to solve it.

Although the nature of this session is such that I believe it would not be purposeful for me to resubmit the legislation I sponsored in former years, I believe the Legislature should give its attention to the problem. If the medical profession, the insurance industry, and other interested groups will give it to their cooperative efforts, I am convinced that a substantial contribution can be made to the cause at this time.


Regardless of defense or war conditions, our public school system must be object of our concern. It is one of the cornerstones of our society. The schools have had many problems since the period preceding World War II when the migration of millions of Americans to California started. The tide has never stopped, and there is no reason to expect it to subside now.

New communities are springing up overnight, and established communities are growing phenomenally. The results has been unprecedented increase in public school enrollment. Some school boards can have no conception at the end of one year what their school population will be next year. State support funds to the schools are now apportioned on the basis of the previous year’s attendance. This is a handicap to school administrators in preparing their budgets, and works a particular financial hardship on school in war production centers where enrollment goes up by leaps and bounds in a single year. The apportionment formula should include the factor of current growth, and I recommend legislation to this effect. The cost for the current year would be between $10,000,000 and $12,000,000.

I also recommend an increase in the state subsidy for bus transportation to assist rural and poorer districts and to encourage the consolidation of districts wherever this can result in a saving of money and a raising of educational standards.


In this period of stress, when families are being separated by war and war industry, and when thousands of parents will be working long hours and perhaps all parents will be preoccupied by war conditions, it becomes more than ever incumbent upon us to give careful attention to our programs for youth and recreation. We must enable our children to lead as nearly a normal life as possible in a world that has been thrown out of kilter by our generation.


We must not permit them, through neglect and indifference, to be subjected to an environment that will encourage delinquency and crime.

In the past few months our Country has been treated to a sordid story of organized crime that has been a stench in the nostrils of law-abiding citizens. Our own State has received its share of the notoriety. I believe there would have been much more to report if it had not been for our own Commission on Organized Crime, whose findings were in the main verified by the testimony before the United States Senate Committee. It is my belief that because of all this publicity, there will be a reshuffling of criminal elements and possibly migration to those parts of the Country where there is any apparent let-down in public vigilance. There should be no such let-down in California. I therefore recommend that a new Commission on Organized Crime to be set up under existing law be financed for one year.

I do not believe we should have a permanent commission of this character, nor do I seek any law enforcement powers, which are vested in the local law enforcement officers and the Attorney General as the chief law enforcement officer of the State. I do believe, however, that a citizens’ appraisal of crime conditions in the State could be a wholesome thing and could be helpful to the enforcement officials in informing the public of some of the difficult conditions they face. It is in that spirit that I suggest another Crime Commission for this limited period.

One way to discourage organized crime is to take the profit out of it, and I suggest that our State Income Tax Laws be amended to accomplish this result. Both State and Federal Income Tax Laws were written primarily to apply to honest taxpayers. Little consideration was given to the taxation of professional criminals. Provision was made for the deduction of legitimate expenses of doing business, but there can be no legitimate expenses of criminal business. I therefore suggest that our Income Tax Law be amended to prohibit any deduction in a criminal business.

The efficacy of this suggestion would be greatly enhanced if the Federal Government were also to deny to illegal enterprises. You will recall that after California outlawed slot machines the government prohibited their movement in interstate commerce. The thieving institution of the one-armed bandit is on the way out, and prop of organized crime is lost to the underworld. It is very likely that the government will take cognizance of any action we take to amend our Income Tax Laws for the same purpose. It could be a body blow to organize crime.

Our Franchise Tax Board is hampered at the present time by the lack of financial provision for an intelligence agency such as the Intelligence Unit of the United States Bureau of Internal Revenue. The failure to collect just taxes from racketeers and professional criminals is a tremendous stimulus to their activities. As an approach to the problem, I recommend an appropriation for the investigation and prosecution of fraud cases by the Franchise Tax Board.

Government Reorganization

The requirements of the present emergency demand that now the more than ever before we devote our national resources of manpower, material and wealth to the purpose of defense and security. Just as our citizens will be called upon to make sacrifices and to pay increasingly heavy federal tax to support this great national effort, so it is incumbent upon us who have governmental responsibilities to analyze our governmental operations for the purpose of eliminating overlapping and achieving a maximum of efficiency with a minimum of manpower and expense to the taxpayers. Any reduction of manpower requirements or curtailment of our state expenditures will enable our taxpayers better to support the heavy demands of the Federal Government for the national defense. Such an undertaking surely represents one of our primary obligations at this time.

It is not an easy task, but in time of crisis and great danger, prudent men put their house in order. I am convinced that we should face the problem at this session of the Legislature and make effective provisions for that substantial reorganization of our State Government and improvement of its administrative operations which the requirements of the national emergency make necessary for government at all levels – federal, state, and local.

I therefore recommend the establishment of a Commission on Reorganization of the State Government, such commission to include member of the Legislative and Executive Branches, and private citizens. The scope of the commission should be sufficiently broad, and the funds at its disposal should be sufficient to permit a thoroughgoing, comprehensive result.

Tax Commission

Akin to this problem is the tax problem. Through the years, many proposals have been made for a study of the tax structure of our State. There has never been a time when taxes loomed so large in the economic life of our State, or imposed a heavier financial burden on the taxpayers. New and higher federal taxes have been levied, and still higher rates are under consideration. Here again the requirements of national defense and security make it imperative that we re-examine our state and local tax structures in order to be sure they represent the best possible, the soundest, and the most equitable system for the needs of both State and local Government. It is high time that we consolidate and supplement the findings of the legislative committees that have worked on the subject.

This job should all be done at one time, because all taxes come out of the same pocket. The tax dollar is now divided between state and local governments, but nobody knows if the division is fair, or whether the different classes of taxpayers are shouldering a fair share of the financial burden. I therefore recommend the establishment of a State Tax Commission composed of legislators, state and local administrators, and taxpayers.

There are, among those who have studied the problem of governmental reorganization and taxation, those who believe that the two are so inseparably connected that they should both be studied by the same commission. If, after consideration of the matter, the Legislature is of the opinion that this should be the procedure, I would gladly join in this approach. Either way, we will be attacking two aspects of a problem that is of major importance in this time of national emergency.


During World War II, you created the Reconstruction and Reemployment Commission for the specific purpose of preparing California to adjust its economy to postwar conditions. In the process, the State Planning Commission was absorbed, and when the Reconstruction and Reemployment Commission was terminated in 1947, we became one of the few states of the Union without a planning agency.

California is too big a State, too important a State, to allow itself to drift in this fashion. We cannot afford to close our minds to the problems of the future. I therefore recommend and offer my cooperation in the establishment of a State Planning Agency. Other states are using this means to strengthen their economy. Our planning agency should be put to work as soon as possible.

This and the Commission on Political and Economic Equality are the only permanent new agencies of State Government that I am recommending to you. I believe they both can contribute greatly to the effectiveness of any defense program, and to the success of our efforts in the reconversion period that will follow.

You have been very patient. I appreciate the attention you have given my message. I want you to know that I will be equally interested in your views on any subject vital to the protection or welfare of our people.

Working together in this manner, we can make this first administration in California’s second century of statehood constructive and worthy of the critical times we are living in.

Earl Warren
Governor of California