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Entire expenditures by districts and towns for schools, 1850, $217,402.33 ; 1860, $334,932.00; 1870, $543,627.28 ; 1880, $446,216.90.
The cost here given does not include that of books which, when no changes are made, are estimated to cost $125,000 per year. In the confusion incident to frequent changes of law and supervision, the price of books has greatly increased, and most of them are of such poor quality in paper and binding as to need frequent renewal. Radical legislation can change this and effect a saving to the people of one-half the present cost of books, and this saving could be applied to obtaining a better grade of teachers, which is our present great need.
It is worthy of your consideration that for twenty years nearly all our official school boards have urged the adoption of the town system, and greater assistance to Normal Schools. Some difference of opinion exists as to whether we should have a greater or less number of Normal Schools. Those we have are under most excellent management, and are doing great good. In every department of education I trust you will exercise a wise liberality. The Superintendent should have sufficient funds to continue his meetings, and in greater number. The people understand their duty, but need to be continu-' ally reminded of it. These meetings tend to infuse life, create interest, enlarge ideas, and increase the zeal of all who attend them.
A request has been sent to me from a highly respectable source that I should ask your, attention to the half-day system of schools.
The public library is the most valuable adjunct of the public school. No greater aid can be given to the cause of education than by affording to the pupils in our schools free access to large and carefully chosen collections of books. It is gratifying to note that the number of public libraries in our State is increasing each year.
UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT AND STATE AGRICULTURAL COLLEGE.
The act of Congress of July 2, 1862, which gave to Vermont the fund of which the income goes to this institution, provides that this income shall be used for the support of at least one college " where the leading object shall be, without excluding other scientific and classical studies, and including military tactics, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts, in such manner as the Legislatures may respectively prescribe, in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions in life.” November 9, 1865, the Legislature passed an act constituting the present institution, and provided that the course of study should be such 56 as shall render the whole instruction in conformity with said act of Congress.” In the succeeding February the trustees, in accordance with law, established a professorship of modern languages, a professorship of chemistry and its application to agriculture and the mechanic arts, a professorship of geology, mineralogy and mining, and a department of military tactics. The next August a professor of vegetable and animal physiology was appointed, and a course of study established embracing laboratory practice in its application to agriculture, analysis of soils,
relations of soil to vegetable productions, botany, forestry, habits of domestic animals, insects injurious to vegetation, and also civil engineering Professional instructors of military tactics have also been provided, and special winter courses of lectures have been introduced on agricultural chemistry, botany, physics, entomology, stockbreeding, dairying, fruit culture, road-making, farm accounts and bee culture, and these courses will be renewed and extended as they are called for. The trustees and officers have been constant and indefatigable in their efforts to comply with the law in letter and spirit.
At the time of its charter it was an experiment, and many leading men through the State had great fears as to its success, and would have preferred a separate institution. I have conferred with many of them during the past summer, and find that they are now satisfied that the course taken was a wise and judicious one, and its results most beneficial, their only regret being the limited number of students who have availed themselves of its privileges. Legislative committees have been appointed to investigate its progress and management, and have found and reported that the trustees and managers have studiously aimed and faithfully labored to comply with their charters, and to meet, so far as their means would allow, all the demands for instruction that have been made upon them, and that more than the increase derived from the United States fund is annually expended in paying the expenses of the industrial department. The President and Professors are always in readiness to respond to calls for public addresses from lyceums, literary, agricultural, and other associations, and in this way do a vast amount of good, and it is to be noted that they uniformly and pointedly enforce the idea of the dignity and nobility of labor.
Some persons favor an experimental farm to be used in connection with the college, and thoughtlessly reflect on the trustees for not providing one. The United States law provides that not over ten per cent. of the fund may be expended for land, and that on no “ pretence whatever” shall any part of the fund be used for the “ erection, preservation, or repair” of any building. When the State is ready to erect the buildings and assume their preservation, we shall doubtless find the trustees ready to provide the land and tutors. Experimental farming had its origin in Prussia thirty years since, and has rapidly extended until there are now many stations in Prussia, France, England, and our own country. They are to be found in our own latitude and climate in neighboring States. Everything of value in the results of this experimental farming is published in agricultural papers, and is easily and cheaply accessible to all. Such work in Vermont would be largely duplicate. Every State that accepted the government fund has largely aided its agricultural college, in some cases to the amount of millions. Vermont has not yet expended a cent. The institution has always kept out of debt, and its management has inspired such confidence that private beneficence is being largely extended to it. Through the liberality of Mr. John P. Howard, the old edifice is now being greatly enlarged and almost entirely rebuilt, and the announcement of Mr. Billings' generous gift to the University has just been made public. It has an extensive library, art gallery, laboratory, and a highly successful medical department.
I respectfully suggest that you take into consideration the propriety of extending some aid to deserving young men of moderate means, to the end that the opportunities here afforded for a higher education may be improved to a greater extent than is now the case. As the Senate is based on population, I would mention, as one plan, that each Senator be allowed to name one person residing in his county who should be entitled to tuition in the agricultural college.
OTHER COLLEGES IN THE STATE.
Middlebury College has long ranked high as an institution of learning. It has sent out many distinguished graduates, not a few of whom have served this Commonwealth in positions of responsibility, and it deserves to receive the confidence and fostering care of the people of the State.
The college at Northfield is also doing good work in its special and all other departments, and is worthy of every commendation.
LIBRARY AND CABINET.
Your attention will doubtless be called to the necessity of providing additional room for the library and cabinet. I am informed that books are being stored in inaccessible places, and that the specimens in the cabinet are being boxed and laid away for want of room. The matter is one for your examination and decision. Of the two plans submitted by the commissioners on this subject I much prefer the one which contemplates the erection of a separate library building, for the reason that I fear any extension of our State House would mar thə symmetry of this beautiful structure. It would certainly seem that until better accommodation is provided, the purchases for these objects should cease.
In making any arrangement for giving more room to the library, it would be well to consider carefully its 'design and the nature and extent of its usefulness. The last report of the trustees gives the number of volumes as 18,614, but does not classify them or make any statement as to their use. A superficial examination of the subject leads me to believe that the State should purchase only such books as relate to law, legislation, political economy and statistics. If the volumes of poetry, fiction, biography, and other works of general literature, now on hand, were presented to the town of Montpelier, with suitable restrictions, and no more purchased, it might relieve the immediate pressure for room to accommodate the books which are most useful to the Legislature and State officers. The number of books drawn from the library by members and officers of the Legislature at the last session was less than 600, and of this number over 200 were works of a miscellaneous character and fiction. One hundred and forty members drew no books, but probably used the library for consultation and reference.
New COMMITTEE. I respectfully suggest the propriety and benefit of forming a joint standing committee on phraseology, by whom the language of all bills presented to the Legislature should be examined, and, if need be, corrected.
The suggestion here made has been adopted by other States, and substantially in this State by the Legislature of 1880. As a consequence of this action, one of the judges of the Supreme Court says: 66 The public acts of the session of 1880, in conciseness, good grammar, and perspicuity surpass the laws of any session in a hundred years. The saving in printing alone more than twice paid the expense of the clerk who revised the acts as they were introduced. There is no measure of the expense incident to a badlyconstructed law.”
Many of the most sagacious and careful men in the State are, and have long been, of the opinion that the office of Attorney-General should be created, in order to secure a more systematic, uniform and universal execution of the criminal law, and also as a measure of real economy.
It has been found necessary to establish this office in almost every State in the Union. In our own State, each county and city, and nearly every incorporated village, has its law officer, but the State has none, and each year it pays large sums to special counsel employed to assist the State's Attorneys, and additional sums for other legal services. Some of these expenses would be saved, and in most cases the services required would be better performed by a State officer.
As one remedy for the expense caused by the frequent change of the State's Attorneys, and the inexperience of many of them, Judge Veazey, in his report, recommends the appointment of an Attorney General, “ who should have charge of and be responsible for the administration of the criminal law.” On this subject I also ask your attention to the advice of Ex-Governor Horace Fairbanks, found in his message to the General Assembly in 1876.
Questions of law are constantly arising in the administration of State affairs on which the advice of an able law officer is required, and should the office be created, I am confident that many duties of importance and value to the State would be imposed upon the incumbent.
CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS. There will be laid before you the proposals of amendment to the Constitution, six in number, that were adopted by the last General Assembly. These proposals were examined by committees in each house, were published at the time, and have been extensively discussed by the press. They should, however, receive your close scrutiny; for the organic law of the State should not be lightly changed, and should be so clear as to admit of no doubt as to construction. Should you concur in any or all of them, it will be your duty to provide for a submission of each one so concurred in to a direct vote of the people.
One of these proposals greatly restricts the power of the Governor to pardon or commute the sentence of persons convicted of murder, and, if adopted, will doubtless lead to a more speedy and certain punishment of that crime, after conviction.
Another is a supplement to the last clause of section 26 of the Constitution, which reads as follows : “ Nor shall any person, holding any office of profit or trust under the authority of Congress, be eligible to any appointment in the Legislature, or of holding any executive or judiciary office under this State.”
In 1880, the distinguished member from Montpelier resigned a lucrative federal office to serve his townsmen in the Legislature, but this is a rare exception to the rule that the constitution is habitually violated in this respect.
Persons ineligible under the Constitution, elected to the Legislature, have uniformly been good men, and it has not been the duty of any particular person to enforce this provision. But its non-observance has not passed unnoticed, for the press has always, with energy and perseverance, called attention to it, so that the whole people have for years had the spectacle persistently brought to their eyes, of the law-making power of the State acting in open disregard of the Constitution. The worst result wrought by this practice is the disrespect which it tends to create for law generally. It teaches disregard for authority, and is a deplorable lesson to the people that constitutions and laws are only to be obeyed by virtue of force. The proposed amendment is designed to remedy this state of affairs and make the existing clause of the Constitution self-operative.
Another proposal relates to the election of certain State officers. It is now the duty of the Legislature to elect about twenty-five State officers at each session, and except in cases of re-election, they are usually chosen from among its own number or officers. Hardly any other State adopts this practice to such an extent, and in many, as well as in Congress, it is unknown. Every Legislature contains men who are fitted by experience, ability, and above all by their honest, independent character, to fill any office in the State, and many times these qualities are so conspicuously exhibited in the Legislature by such members, as to properly lead to their election to important offices. The trouble rests in the fact that these men do not seek the offices, and they are left as the prey of another sort of men who spend their time in forming combinations with others of like character to advance their own schemes, and these combinations frequently extend to the passage or defeat of pending measures. At the same time, it is not to be denied that some of our best and most faithful State officers have been elected by Legislatures of which they were not members, and that officers otherwise elected or appointed have not always proved to be the best. The practice, at its best, distracts attention from legislation, prevents deliberation, and, by lengthening the sessions, is very expensive, the average cost per day of actual session being estimated at one thousand dollars. This proposal is intended to bring the power to elect two important officials directly to the people.
Another proposal is one which prohibits the manufacture and sale