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strong conviction of duty will induce me to interpose any objections to the enactments which you may see fit to make.
Foremost, if not paramount to all other subjects claiming a share of your attention, are our primary schools. If these are neglected or suffered to languish for the want of attention, from a wrong direction given, or inadequate support, the main corner stone of the foundation on which rests our social as well as political fabric, will be undermined. Ignorance, with all its accompanying evils, indolence, superstition, bigotry, vice and folly, will usurp the place of knowledge, virtue, benevolence and rational liberty, and our posterity will inevitably become fit subjects to be moulded into serfs for tyrants to rule over, and in the end become so far degraded as to extol as an act of liberality, the occasional distribution of a few thousands by their rulers, or rather masters, out of the many millions extorted from their own hard earnings. To avoid such results, I cannot forbear recommending to your serious consideration, the propriety, if not indispensable necessity, of providing at least, for some mode whereby an accurate knowledge of the present state of our schools shall annually be laid before the legislature. Situated as we now are, without well authenticated facts to guide us, we are liable to be misled even by those who are truly the friends of primary schools. That something should be done, is to my mind most clear. A beginning should be made, and to you, gentlemen, the public are anxiously looking for action.
Although there is in the minds of many, a desire to have our present military system altered or amended, there are, I believe, but few advocates of the bill which has been published by order of the Senate. It is believed that the passage of that bill, or any one with similar provisions, would eventuate in the entire prostration of our militia. Surely, no true friend to his country could, in the present state of the known world, be desirous of disarming or disbanding the militia, nor of taking any measures which would have a ten
dency to place the military power exclusively in the hands, or under the control of the wealthy, or their immediate dependents. Yet such, it seems to me, would be the result of relying entirely on uniform companies, constituted according to the proposed bill. Such companies would almost invariably be located in villages, and almost exclusively composed of the inhabitants of villages, who, for the most part, from their close confinement in workshps, counting-houses, manufacturing establishments, or the like, are physically less able to defend their country against foreign aggression or domestic violence, than are the tillers of the soil, or those accustomed to constant exercise in the open air. It is not every firm patriot, or brave soldier, that can afford to purchase a splendid uniform. But if the Legislature is satisfied that an alteration or revision of our present militia system is called for by those who do the duty of soldiers, and not exclusively by those who are too proud to be seen in the ranks, side by side with their more humble neighbors, or too penurious to pay the scanty pittance now given to those who do their duty, and to whom the defence of our country is properly and safely entrusted; then I would most respectfully recommend the shortening of the time of actual service, and a rigid requirement that all within the prescribed ages, not actually incapable of doing the active duties of the soldier, be required to do those duties under a penalty amply sufficient to temper their pride or pay for the services of several duty-doing soldiers.
The regular and prompt administration of justice is a requirement of our constitution, and is a subject of great interest, and intimately connected with the wellbeing of every community. So far as I have been able to learn, our courts have attended and are attending to their duties with promptness and despatch, and if their present course is continued, the public will have little to complain of. There is, however, one branch of our judiciary system, which I believe requires new regulations or new modeling. I refer to
the holding of Justice courts in private rooms or in lawyers offices. This practice excludes, in a great measure, those, who, if those courts were held at stated periods, and in a public place, would act as a check, if not entirely prevent the imposition of illegal fees or the rendering of unjustifiable judgments.
At your last session, an act was passed, changing the time of holding the courts throughout the State, and in that act a provision made for holding a third term of the Court of Common Pleas for the county of Hillsborough, at Manchester. I am not aware of any sufficient reason existing, why a third term should be held in that county, but if there are sufficient reasons to justify the extra expense of an extra court, it surely should be held at the usual place, and not add still further to the expense by compelling attendance at one side of the county.
The state of the treasury will be made known by the Treasurer's report. It will be seen from that report, that there is a small balance against the State; but not of sufficient magnitude to require any extra burdens being laid upon the people. The usual annual taxes, if managed with strict economy, and the avoidance of the heretofore customary fall session, (which I cannot believe to be either necessary or useful,) will ere long liquidate this balance and probably enable the legislature to diminish instead of increasing the public burdens.
The annual report of the Warden of the State Prison will be laid before you as soon as it is received. In the meantime, I have the pleasure of saying that the affairs of that institution continue to be managed with fidelity and ability. The humane treatment of the prisoners by the officers of the prison will not fail to make a favorable impression on the minds and future conduct of the most abandoned.
The annual report of the Trustees and Superintendent of the Asylum for the insane, will be laid before you as soon as the board of Visitors have examined the same and made
their annual inspection of the premises. In the meantime, I believe that the legislature may be safely assured that its concerns have been conducted with skill and prudence, and that the expectations of its founders will be fully realized.
Under the law of last session, directing the appointment of Railroad Commissioners, and containing other provisions respecting railroads, the Cheshire railroad corporation, the Northern railroad corporation, and the Boston, Concord and Montreal railroad corporation, have severally called upon the Railroad Commissioners for their action in the premises.The Commissioners have examined and reported in favor of each of those routes, and I have, with the advice and consent of the Council, approved their reports; and it is probable that leases will ere long be called for; and if it is the intention of the legislature to alter or amend that law so as to supply any omission, or provide for any oversight, I would recommend immediate action, so that the leases to the above named corporations may be drawn in conformity to the will of the legislature.
The terms and conditions on which acts of incorporations for money making purposes are to be granted in this State, are, I trust, well settled, yet experience teaches us that incessant efforts will be made by classes seeking for superior powers and privileges, to procure the modification or the utter repeal of the restrictions and safeguards which experience and sound policy have suggested. No doubt an effort will again be made to abolish the individual liability principle, which is now the law of the State. Individual as well as associated wealth rarely, if ever, suffers an opportunity to pass without making strenuous exertions to retain, if not to gain privileges denied to the mass of the community; and it is too often the case that individuals, even among legislators, are to be found, who, from personal motives, as well as from undefined expectations of benefits to themselves, are ready to advocate and grant to corporations privileges and immunities which they would at once refuse to partnerships
or to individuals. In my opinion, acts of incorporation should never be granted, except where individual or partnership enterprise is manifestly incompetent to accomplish the object intended, and when granted, should be rigidly restricted in their powers and privileges. In short, they should be made as they are intended to be, servants and not masters of the people. A different course, or one granting to combined wealth, exclusive privileges or immunities, would ere long raise the grantees above the grantors, and corporate bodies would soon usurp the power, without possessing the dignity or personal responsibility of the landed and titled aristocracy of Europe.
Amongst the many national questions which have been used by designing politicians, the tariff stands pre-eminent. Every advance of prices even in "fancy stocks,” or depression in prices, is at once ascribed to a protective tariff, or to the want of one. In 1840 and '41, low prices and presumed large importations, were ascribed to the want of a protective tariff; and when the tariff of 1842 was enacted, and a still further reduction took place, (particularly in manufactured articles,) the advocates of a high protective tariff were utterly unable or unwilling to account for the fact.They were unwilling to admit that a protective tariff or the want of one, had but little to do with the then depressed state of the markets, and strove to conceal the fact that other and more effective causes had produced the depression then apparent. But when the public, or rather the commercial world, had succeeded in restoring lost confidence, invariably following over-trading, then, and not till then, did business revive. No sooner had this taken place, than we again heard the "protective tariff” assigned as the source of the revival of business and industry. Every thing good or prosperous was and now is ascribed to the beneficial effects of the tariff of 1842; and we are warned, over and over again, that to repeal or even modify that tariff, would be destruction to the best interests of the country. If the pres