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STATE OF MICHIGAN.
GOVERNOR'S INAUGURAL MESSAGE.
Fellow-citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives :
After a period of two years, during which the Legislative body has not assembled, we meet, charged with the duty of reexamining the laws and institutions of the State ; to correct, so far as we may, the errors of the past in the light of experience, and to provide wisely, if we can, for the exigencies of the fu
No higher trust than this, can be reposed in a citizen, As the Representatives of the people, dilligence and patriotism will become us. An earnest regard for their rights, interests and liberties, is a solemn obligation upon us.
I have the highest satisfaction, in being able to congratulate you upon the general good order and prosperity of the State. The past year has been one of great fruitfulness.
Bountiful harvests have put famine and distress far away from our doors. No pestilence has afflicted the people of the State ; but general good health has prevailed among them. The laws have been cheerfully obeyed by the mass of the people, and their infraction, by the criminal, has been promptly punished by a wise and patriotic Judiciary. The State has advanced rapidly in wealth and population. The census of 1860, taken under the laws of the United States, shows the population of the State to be, in round numbers, seven hundred and fifty thousand.
Our soils are rich, and of great variety, producing in abundance all the crops which belong to this latitude. The State possesses immense forests of valuable timber, which are already a source of great and increasing wealth. In minerals, Michigan is without a rival. Her mines of copper and iron are of the very finest quality; and, thus far, seem to be measureless in extent. Coal, also, of good quality, is now proved to be abundant, while the explorations for saline waters in the Valleys of the Saginaw and Grand Rivers, have been entirely successful. Possessing a great area of territory, surrounded on three sides by the greatest chain of lakes on the Continent, furnishing a cheap and easy outlet to the ocean, and the markets of the world, Michigan has all the elements of an empire within her. self. We have reason to be thankful to that “good providence" which is rapidly guiding us in the course of a great, free, and happy commonwealth.
The people of the State have adopted, with great unanimity, the amendment to the Constitution proposed by the last Legislature, in respect to the sessions of your body. By that amendment, the limitation to the length of your session is substantially swept away. Experience, which is the true test of all institutions, has proved that biennial sessions of forty days are not always, if ever, sufficient to enable the Legislature to accomplish its work properly. Under that system, a somewhat careless haste took the place of that calm deliberation which is absolutely essential to the enactment of wise laws. The only limitation which remains, is the prohibition to introduce any "new bill into either House, after the fitst fifty days of the session shall have expired.” And though this might be easily evaded, I have no doubt you will observe it in good faith, as a binding obligation upon you. You will also remember that the original limitation to forty days was enacted in accordance with the almost universal demand of the people at the time, and to correct what was deemed a great abuse. No future occasion, I trust, will occur to renew, among the people, a desire to restore the limitation.
It becomes your duty, under Section 4, Article 4, of the Constitution, "to re-arrange the Senate Districts, and apportion anew the Representatives among the counties and districts, according to the number of white inhabitants, and civilized persons of Indian descent not members of any tribe.”
It will also be your duty to divide the State into six Congressional districts, pursuant to a ratio of population fixed by the act of Congress on that subject.
In the construction of these districts, it will be obviously just and wise to consider the fact, that the newer regions of the State will increase in population much more rapidly than the older ; and the great inequalities likely to occur in the future, before another division is made, may be somewhat modified by the construction of districts with reference to their future increase. The districts ought to be, in their several parts, territorily convenient, as far as may be, and of harmonious interests. The Senatorial districts are limited in number, by the Constitution, to thirty-two, and the House of Representatives must consist of " not less than sixty-four, nor more than one hundred members."
“The Act further to preserve the purity of elections, and guard against abuses of the elective franchise, by a registra. tion of electors," passed by the last Legislature, has been subjected to the test of experience, and found very conducive to the object in view. The elections under it have been peaceful and orderly in a very unusual degree. Illegal voting is rendered well nigh impossible; and the confidence of the people in the fairness of elections, has been greatly increased. The inconveniences of registration which were much feared at the time of the passage of the law, have been found almost wholly imaginary, and I trust the act may now be regarded as a permanent regulation of the State. In one or two particulars, perhaps, the law might be rendered more convenient by amendment. There seems no very good reason why the elector should be required to register his christian or baptismal name” in full. Some mistakes have occurred in this respect by whiclı electors have been rejected at the polls, and I recommend you to consider whether the ends of the law might not be as well attained by allowing the elector to reg. ister his name as he usually writes it. I also rec-mmend you to consider whether, in pursuance of the purpose further to preserve the purity of elections, it would not be well to enact a law for the suppression of the baleful practice of betting upon elections. It seems to me that the highest right and duty of a freeman is not a proper subject for gambling.
The financial condition of the State will 'necessarily occupy your earnest and careful consideration. The credit and honor of the State must be preserved ; and this can be done only by prompt payment of its debts, and full performance of all its obligations. Prudence and economy are the first duty of every government, as rashly incurring debt is the sure road to bank. ruptcy. We should at once adopt a permanent policy, looking to the steady reduction and final payment of the entire State debt. The Constitution, very wisely as I think, adopted such a policy, and required the Legislature to carry it into effect as early as 1852. By article 14, section 1, the specific State tax- . es (except those from the mining companies of the Upper Peninsula) are applied to the payment of the interest upon the Primary School, University and other educational funds, and the interest and principal of the State debt, until the extinguishment of the State debt other than the amounts due the educational funds, and after that, such specific taxes are added to and constitute a part of the Primary School interest fund. The Legislature were also required “to provide for an annual tax, sufficient with the other resources, to pay the estimated expenses of the State Government, the interest of the State debt, and such deficiency as may occur in the resources." Section 2
of the same article, required the Legislature to provide by law, a sinking fund of at least twenty thousand dollars a year, and an annual increase of at least five per cent., to be applied solely to the extinguishment of the principal of the State debt, other than the amounts due to educational funds.
Unfortunately for the best interests of the State, the Legislature immediately following the adoption of the Constitution, disregarded these plain requirements of the instrument they had sworn to support, and subsequent Legislatures have followed that bad precedent. The sinking fund has never been created and the annual tax has rarely if ever been sufficient.
The State debt, funded and fundable, not due Dec. 1, 1849, was $2,071,962 90. This debt, November 30, 1854, was $2,531,545 70. The funded and fundable debt is now $2,288,842 79. But this is not, by any means, the entire debt of the State. We have been rapidly making another, likely soon to rival this in amount, unless our policy is changed. The debt to the educational funds was, in the year 1849, Dec. 1st, $276,442 44. In 1854, Nov. 30, $681,699 73. The debt to the educational funds is now as follows: Primary School,....
$880,936 73 University,...
258,307 47 Normal School,
The yearly interest upon the funded and fundable debt is $141,000. Upon the debt to the educational funds, $83,580 73.
This debt to the educational funds accumulates yearly, to an amount equal to the whole amount of payments of principal moneys for the purchase of lands which are the foundation of the funds. In other words, the State borrows the money as fast as received, and stands debtor to the funds on its books, for the amount. I think it is time that this practice should cease, and therefore recommend to the passage of an act, requiring the re-investment of the principal of the educational