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them indemnity against unreasonable and unjust sacrifices, yet in a manner that shall guard and protect the rights of all parties interested.
I would not, however, suppress the important fact that the condition and affairs of our people are taking a favorable turn, since the commencement of the late monetary crisis; a large amount of individual indebtedness has been liquidated-a rigid system of retrenchment has been observed in the social and domestic relations and expenditures of our people-but few new liabilities have been created-no malignant epidemic has prevailed the industry of the people, the last year, has been very well rewarded with a fair harvest-emigration is again flowing in--the social condition of our people is improving, and we have abundant reason for devout and grateful acknowledgments to Him, whose goodness knows no bounds, that we are once more being placed in a condition of advancement and prosperity.
CENSUS OF 1859.-You will have before you a neat print of the census of the past year, taken in the mode prescribed by the act that authorized the same, at an expense only of about $618 71. It fixed the population of the State at 642,532, being 123,168 more than the population, when the census was taken in the year 1856, and will in all probability, reach 700,000 by the time the Federal census is taken during the present year. The agricultural statistics contained in the present census, refer to the year 1858, and do the field culture of the State very great injustice. On account of the heavy and protracted rains of that year, it is conceded that our crops fell below half their usual amount. Yet, as a result of our industry, we had in cultivation over three millions of acres. And unfavorable as was the season, we cut over 500,000 tons of hayharvested over 3,000,000 bushels of wheat-cribbed over 23 million bushels of corn-1,500,000 bushels of potatoes—manufactured near a half million gallons of molasses from sorghum-sold beef eattle and hogs to an amount exceeding five millions of dollars, and exported wool and lead, to the value of a million and a quarter, &c.
But it is believed by the best judges, that the year just past, would exhibit a very different table of statistics; that the beef, pork, and wool crops have given an excess of 20 or 25 per cent. over the census year of 58, whilst the corn crop cannot fall short
of fifty millions of bushels, and the value of the sorghum molasses would reach the figure of $500,000.
One or two more such crops, accompanied in other respects with the smiles of a propitious Heaven, and adhering to our present system of domestic economy, will not only re-assure but restore our people to their wonted prosperity, and place them in a condition to grant rather than ask favors of those Atlantic States and cities, which have been heaping obloquy upon us because of our embarrassments, which had its origin as much with them as with us.
HASTY LEGISLATION TO BE AVOIDED.-Seventy-one of the laws, covering 263 pages, were passed the day and night preceding the adjournment of the last General Assembly. It would be strange, indeed, if the engrossing and enrolling clerks could copy and compare all these enactments, for the signature of the president of the Senate and the speaker of the House, without committing grave errors. It is known, important omission and mistakes did occur, while some very important bills had been matured at the cost of much time, labor, and expense, failed of their passage, for the want of a few hours time. The mischief growing out of rash and inconsiderate legislation of this description cannot fail to address itself to the mind of a prudent legislator, and I feel myself shut up to the duty of respectfully but earnestly urging upon you the correction of this great evil. I need not say that, as the supreme law-giving power of the State, you are charged with an important trust, which the public welfare demands shall be executed with a wise caution, and a faithfulness that shall comport with the solemnity of your commission.
STATE INDEBTEDNESS, REVENUE, AND EXPENDITURES. -Your attention is invited to the reports of the Treasurer and Auditor of the State. From the report of the latter, it will appear that the liabilities of the State amount to $352,492 37. This sum is made up of three amounts quite disimilar in their character, and all of which, with some confusion of ideas, have been designated a State indebtedness. The first consists of $200,000, borrowed by the State in the winter of 1858, upon her bonds, running ten years at seven per cent. The second out-standing warrants, amounting to $30,196 62, payable upon presentation. The aggregate of these two sums,--$230,196 62-constitute the entire present indebtedness of the State. The third sum of $122,295 75, is a part of the
school fund, which belongs to the State, is held by the State in trust for educational purposes. It is true, the State pays interest on this amount, not to a creditor,--for the relation of debtor and creditor does not exist-but to the school fund itself, as upon a debt; ownership is not indebtedness. This money is a part of the proceeds of lands granted to the State, and is as much the property of the State as the lands were at the time they were granted. She has wisely dedicated the interest upon this fund to the support of a systein of common schools. In paying this interest, she does not make herself a debtor, or divest herself of the right to control this fund as to her may seem best. She may at any time change her constitution and apply the five per cent. fund and the proceeds of the 500,000 acre grant to any other purpose. I deemed this explanation due, for the reason the constitution forbids a State indebtedness above 250,000 dollars, and if in the sense of the constitution, the receiving and holding this fund is a debt, then has the State precluded herself from demanding and receiving about a million of dollars due her from the General Government, on the five per cent. fund. Such is the amount and character of our liabilities. It will be observed that but a small portion of the same will mature and be required to be paid during the next two years. In contrast with this, the revenue resources of the State show that its financial affairs are in a very satisfactory condition, as it leaves a large excess of assets over her liabilities.
The balance in the treasury, and in course of payment through the banks, the delinquent taxes now due from the counties, and the State tax of the year 1859, amount in the aggregate to six hundred and eight thousand six hundred nine dollars and fortyeight cents.
The Auditor estimates the expenditures for the two fiscal years, commencing November 7th, 1859, and ending the 1st Monday of November, 1861, exclusive of appropriations for charitable institutions and other special purposes, at $401,719 72, whilst the estimated resources of the State for the same period, exclusive of the saline and school funds are put down at $858,609 48. The above figures exhibit a handsome margin upon which the State may prosecute to completion her various charitable and other institutions.
The first great duty of the State undoubtedly is, to administer its affairs in all the departments of the public service, upon as economical a scale as possible, consistent with the public good.
The expenditures for ordinary purposes, during the two fiscal years, ending on the 7th of Nov. last, amount to $366,198 57, whilst the extraordinary expenses for the same period, amount to $212,157 45; making an aggregate of $578,356 02. I have no knowledge of any State in the Union, whose ordinary expenses, when viewed in connection with the nature of our political organization, the extent of our population and territorial limits, will compare more favorably, or whose people pay a lighter State tax for the privileges they enjoy, than do ours. This fact, it is believed will not escape the attention of the emigrant who is or may be seeking a home in the great valley of the Mississippi.
BOARD OF EDUCATION.-Our Educational interest will claim
your special attention. On the 12th of March, 1858, the General Assembly passed an Act entitled, "An act for the Public Instruction of the State of Iowa.." This act, with the exception of those portions of it which provided for levying taxes and appropriating money, was subsequently declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. The Board of Education at its first session, held in December, 1858, were much perplexed in determining the extent of their jurisdiction, fearing on the one hand that they might encroach upon the powers of the General Assembly, and on the other, that they might fail to perform to the full extent, the duties required of them under the constitution.
After much reflection and deliberation, they re-enacted the law above referred to with some slight alterations. It took effect on the first day of March last, and under it our school system has operated as successfully as we could reasonably expect in view of a change from a system with which they were familiar, to one materially different in its essential features. Objections have been made to some of its provisions, but in the main it appears to have given satisfaction.
The Board at their recent session held in December of last year, made a variety of amendments, which they believe will remove all valid objections.
Under the provisions of the constitution, all laws passed by the Board of Education are subject to alteration, amendment or repeal by the General Assembly. The law as amended will be laid before you for your consideration; and it is earnestly hoped that you will only make such additions to it as you may deem essen
tially necessary to give it vitality without materially changing its provisions.
Repeated and radical changes in our school laws, though sometimes necessary, are always attended with temporary inconvenience, and frequently with serious injury, and hence it is particularly desirous to avoid them unless they are indispensable to the prosperity of our schools.
Popular education is one of the most important interests of the State. A much greater number of the people are personally identified with its failure or success than with any other subject of legislation. It is scarcely necessary, therefore, that the utmost precaution should be observed in anything you may deem it your duty to do for the promotion of this great object; and in this sentiment I am fully persuaded that I have your hearty concurrence. It is all important that the school laws should be considered and acted upon definitely and finally at an early day of the session, in order that they may be published and distributed in time for the school district elections in the spring. Their circulation in pamphlet form should not be restricted to school officers, but should be sent broad-cast among the people, in order that they may become familiar with their provisions. At least every head of a family should be supplied with a copy. We have over one hundred thousand voters who are interested in our school district meetings, and to enable them to become familiar with their duties and obligations, the school laws should be circulated exclusively among them.
The subject of discontinuing the Board of Education has been discussed by some of our public journals. While I much regret the unfortunate position in which we are placed by the educational provisions of our constitution, I should seriously question the expediency of such a measure at present. The Board have endeavored faithfully to perform the responsible duties imposed upon them, but at nearly every step, they have been trammeled by constitutional restrictions, and hence their legislation has not been such as it would have been if they had been clothed with full and exclusive authority to enact all laws for the government and support of our common schools.
But it should be remembered also that they possess, under the constitution, the sole power to originate all laws exclusively educational in their character.