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federacy. The flames of civil war are not likely to be lighted up by rebellion against the general government. That has been armed with powers which are abundantly sufficient to quell domestic insurrection. But our peaceful state sovereignties, although authorised to inflict the penalties for treason, are not sufficiently provided against the exigencies of rebel. lion. Unless, therefore, the general government promptly interferes, under its constitutional power, to suppress it, rebellion against our state governments is the most probable cause which exists of a general civil war.
After escaping from danger, it is natural to look back, that we may see how it occurred, and how it can be avoided for the future. When the colonies, which now form the oldest thirteen states of the Union, separated from the mother country, they generally adopted written constitutions of government, with the right of suffrage more or less restricted, but in none of them universal, and in several, colonial inequalities of representation were preserved. When written constitutions were adopted, they, in most instances, provided modes for their own amendment.
Rhode Island, however, satisfied with the existing form of government, did not adopt a written constitution. On our separation from Great Britain, therefore, the laws of the legislature of that state became the supreme law, and the power of government could not be changed without an act of the legislature, or by revolution. Any change which should be made, however peaceably, unless by law, would, of course, be a revolution, as it would be putting down the existi:g government, without its own consent, and substituting another in its place.
In all the old states, inequalities in the right of suffrage and representation continued to exist unaltered, till within about twenty years past, unattended by serious complaint, and certainly without the thought of revolution. About that time, in some few of the states, public opinion demanded a change, and a change was accordingly made, without difficulty or violence. In other states, where peaceable modes of altering the constitution are provided, inequalities, nearly or quite as great as those complained of in Rhode Island, have been allowed to exist to this day. In our own state even, unshackled by colonial restraints, we voluntarily formed and have continued a government, whose inequalities of representation are probably equal to those, which, in Rhode Island, were thought to justify a revolution, and that, too, by the sword. But such a revolution can only be justified when the evils of government have become oppressive and intolerable, and when all hope of milder remedies is lost. Such was not the state of things in our sister state, at the time a portion of her citizens thought proper to raise the standard of civil war. We heard no complaints of misgovernment, nor of the suffering of any portion of her people. They were in full possession of the same free government they had always enjoyed, and of the civil rights which are universal in the country. It is true their political privileges were not equal. Some towns had a greater proportion of representation than others, and there were property qualifications for voters. These were the evils, and all the evils complained of.
If it is to be granted, that for reasons like these, government may, at any time, be overturned by violence, we shall never, in this country, be without fruitful causes of civil war. There are inequalities in the right of suffrage and representation in every state; and in none, can greater inequality of representation be found, than at present exists, under our national government, in the Senate of the United States. There, two mil
come so dependent upon the growing of wool, that this article may be said to be the staple of the state, and I regret to say that the extreme depression in its price is not only the cause of present inconvenience, but of uneasiness as to the future. The rich and almost boundless plains of the great West are becoming covered with flocks of sheep, which will soon furnish supplies of wool in such abundance, as, I fear, may seriously affect the sale of our own. But as the West can also produce every thing else cheaper than the Atlantic states, it would be in vain to attempt to compete with them in any other product destined for the general market. Our constant study should therefore be directed to creating and building up a market among ourselves, and to establishing the means of such rapid communication with the markets on the sea-board as would enable us to dispose of our products, without fear of competition from the distant west.
The most obvious means of accomplishing these objects are the introduction of rail-roads, and the encouragement of manufactures and the mechanic arts. Capitalists, confiding in the stability and justice of our legislation, would readily occupy the valuable sites for water power with which our state abounds, were it not for the difficulty of reaching them. This difficulty would be entirely removed by the construction of railroads, and they will be constructed when individuals become fully satisfied of their vast importance to our prosperity. Almost unattainable as this object seems, at present, to be, I do not at all despair of its ultimate accomplishment. Obstacles, which at first appear almost insurmountable, will yield, in the end, to public spirit and enlightened self-interest, kept constantly alive.
The establishment of manufactures may be encouraged by a liberal granting of charters, with such provisions as shall secure vested rights against violation or encroachment. I greatly mistake the character of the people of this state, if there should ever be a disposition to disturb them. But it would, nevertheless, be the part of wisdom to offer this, as well as every other possible inducement, to those who have the means and inclination to embark in such undertakings. In the neighborhood of manufactories, population would naturally increase, and the mechanic arts spring up and thrive. A home consumption would thus be created for agricultural products, upon which the farmer could always depend. Certainly no community could secure to itself greater prosperity than ours, by adopting and steadily pursuing this course of policy. No people have been more highly favored than ourselves, by natural advantages, and it will be our own fault if we do not improve them.
The tariff of duties lately passed by Congress will, I have no doubt, greatly increase our prosperity. Yet we must not expect from it miraculous effects. Protection had been so long, so unwisely and unjustly withheld, that the whole country was inundated with foreign manufactures, and our means almost exhausted to pay for them. The consequence has been a universal prostration of all the great interests of the country, from which we cannot expect they will suddenly recover. But let us at least derive some benefit from these self-inflicted evils. They should teach us the necessity of guarding against their recurrence. Already do we see the same spirit of mischief, which produced them, again at work in demanding and threatening a repeal of the Tariff. If we watch and oppose it, as we should, we can have little to fear from it. But its success would be our ruin.
In connection with our internal prosperity, I would again call your at
tention to the subject of a geological survey of the state. The discovery of mineral wealth would more certainly hasten the establishment of rail roads than any other cause. To this cause, indeed, they owe their invention. But it is principally on account of the direct benefit which agriculture would derive from such a survey, that I am solicitous to see it undertaken. While the agriculturalists of other countries are availing themselves, to so much advantage, of the lights of science, let it not be said that the farmers of Vermont are falling behind the age in agricultural improvements. Similar surveys have already been made, or are now in progress, in most of the sister states, and in no instance have they failed to be attended by results of high importance and value. They have not only determined the locality of suspected ores and other minerals, but have often laid open rich mines of metallic and mineral deposites, in regions where their existence had never before been imagined. The narrow territorial extent of our state, and the ready accessibility of its whole surface, render its thorough examination a task which may be accomplished within moderate limits both of time and expense; and I have no doubt our people would cheerfully bear the light addition to their burdens, arising from the adoption of a measure, which promises not only substantial pecuniary and social benefits, by a developement of our internal resources, but an important contribution to natural science and to those great agricultural and manufacturing interests, which it is among the chief duties of an enlightened community to foster. I would suggest, in this connexion, that a sum more than sufficient to meet the expense of such a survey, is now due to the state from the General Government, arising from the sales of the public lands, under the act of September 4th, 1841.
It will be your duty, during your present session, again to divide the state into districts, for the election of members of Congress. For a long series of years this state has been distinguished, I think I am warranted in saying, above any other, for the moderation and justice with which the prevailing political party has treated the rights and claims of the minority. It is a circumstance in our history of which we may justly be proud, and upon which we shall always look back with satisfaction. An equitable division of the state into congressional districts will furnish us no new matter to boast of; it will be merely an adherence to our established customs.
The militia of the state, the brave successors of those, who, in our revolutionary struggle, acquired such unfading honor, will, I am sure, receive from your hands all the consideration which so important a part of our system deserves. The duty of appointing a committee to revise the militia laws, which you devolved upon me at your last session, has been discharged, and their report will, at an early day, be communicated to you.
In the discharge of my official duties, I have had an opportunity of learning the mode in which the accounts of the state, with many of its officers, have hitherto been kept, and I feel bound to call your particular attention to the subject. There is an urgent and pressing necessity here, for a thorough reform. I have been surprised to find that, from the manner of keeping these accounts, opportunities have so long existed for fraudulent practices. A revision of the laws on this subject is imperatively required, and a system should be adopted which will secure a rigorous and exact accountability of every public officer. Great improvements have recently been made in the systems of other states, and it may be well to avail ourselves of the benefit of their experience. I fear we shall gain little, how