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Fellow citizens of the Senate
and of the House of Representatives : Having now taken the oaths prescribed by our constitution, as preliminary to my entrance upon the discharge of the public duties of chief executive magistrate, to which office I have again been elected by the freemen of New Hampshire, I desire to make known to the people the deep sense of gratitude, I feel for this reiterated expression of their confidence.
The peculiar circumstances which have attended the recent elections in this State, cannot fail to impress our minds that there is a much greater cause for joy, than that resulting from mere individual success. It is for the triumph of those great principles, which are as dear to freemen as liberty herself, that renders the result of the late election matter of deep and abiding gratulation to the friends of equal rights and of equal privileges.
this interesting occasion, it is assuredly fit that we should render to the Author of every good the homage of grateful hearts for His paternal care over us for the past year, for His goodness in having sustained the diversified interests of this Commonwealth, and for securing to the people the unimpaired continuance of social, religious and civil liberty.
What an impressive illustration is here presented of the character of our free and happy government! We assemble at stated periods, as the representatives of an intelligent and patriotic people,to enact laws for their as well as for our own guidance. A great change in that representation annually occurs : around me I observe men whom I did not meet in
this place at the commencement of the last political year: and many were then assembled here who did not belong to either branch of the government the year precedingaffording evidence of the truth of that saying, which lies at the foundation of all our institutions, "that political power emanates from the people”-that they are emphatically the true sovereigns of this free representative government -that we are all here as their public servants, to carry out their will and to become the exponents of their opinions. It is this great and invaluable principle which makes the distinguishing feature in our government—the one which elevates it high and baove all forms and political compacts which have hitherto been devised.
In my address to the Legislature at the commencement of the last political year, I recommended sundry alterations and amendments in the then existing statutes. I regarded them all as essentially connected with the true interests of the people. Notwithstanding the convictions impressed upon my own mind as to the importance of the changes then suggested, I shall not at this time call your attention to those subjects, as I do not intend to propose on the present occasion any special alterations in our system of laws. I shall commit the whole subject to your discrimination and good jndgment. If any amendments in our statutes are in your opinion necessary for the promotion of the public good, your own observation will readily suggest them. I prefer to leave the whole matter to your discretion, rather than to recommend particular changes.
Correct principles of legislation must always in a government founded upon law, be of engrossing interest to the representatives of the people. The first object of an intelligent community is to ascertain and establish the principles on which the government should be founded. In the written constitution of the various states of the Union and of the United States, the attempt is made with greater or less success to define with precision the general rights and duties
which belong to individuals in their relation to each other, and to the public. That these attempts in the absence of experience should always be successful, was not to be expected by liberal and reflecting men. That timid reasoners, feerful even of improvement if it involved the necessity of a change, should sometimes mistake the form for the substance, must have been anticipated. That a prejudice should sometimes have been elevated into a principle,cherished with sacred care and embalmed in the chosen repositories of political truth, cannot surprise those who remember that it is with nations as it is with individuals; each must reach manhood before the crude notions of youth can be corrected. That superficial thinkers should adopt ill-digested plans upon partial and narrow views—that sanguine and intolerant men should strive to make the opinions of others assume the shape in which alone they could see truthwas less to be wondered at, than an unsettled state of society in which there should be neither shallowness nor intolerance. But the traces of the timid and the prejudiced, the superficial and the intolerant are not suficient to destroy the harmony of a constitution formed by men sincerely anxious to attain to the knowledge of political truth. With all their defects the principles of our constitutions are expansive and comprehensive enough to admit of a legislation adapted to the daily increasing wants and refinements of civilized life, and to our keener appreciation of the true objects of all human society, the improvement of individuals in physical comfort and intellectual independence, and their progress in moral and religious attainments.
A constitutional theory admitted to be erroneous and upon which no legislation is ever founded, although it may injure the symmetry of the instrument as a work of art, may not lessen its value, on the whole, as a summary of political truth,and as each year, it is to be hoped, adds to our stock of political knowledge, we are less liableto confound accidental defects with principles of acknowledged truth. No wise constitution ever embodied in itself, as a principle to be acted upon,