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Fellow Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:
I appear before you to perform my last act as Chief Executive of the State. It is made my duty by the Constitution, at the close of my official term, to give to the Legislature “information by message of the condition of the State, and to recommend such measures to them as I shall deem expedient.” In the performance of this duty, I shall be led, to some extent, over the history of the past four years--years full of great events, and destined to shape the course of our country through all time—years of bloody strife, of heroic endeavor, of sufferings courageously endured, and of triumphs nobly won. Upon the threshold of this work, I congratulate you upon the generally prosperous condition of the State. The people are in the enjoyment of health and plenty. Though in the midst of war, and subject to the trials and difficulties incident to that condition, public order has prevailed, and the rights and securities provided by the civil law have been maintained. Earnest patriotism and manly courage have a healthy growth, and a generous charity has given of our great abundance most liberally for the aid of the sick, the wounded and the needy. The State has increased in population and in wealth, in its educational facilities and in reputation, both at home and abroad. For all these blessings, let us give thanks to Almighty God, whose omnipotent hand hath led us safely through all perils.
When I came into office, in January, 1861, there had already begun to be heard the distant mutterings of that terrific storm that subsequently burst upon us in the attack upon Fort Sumter, and has raged with unabated fury during my entire term The duties of the Executive office have in consequence been so greatly increased, as to seem to be almost entirely of a military character-and in giving the Legislature information of the condition of the State, I shall be necessarily occupied very much in that field, and upon those suljects which connect themselves more or less intimately with it. The whole energies of our people have been taxed to the uttermost in the constant effort to raise their quotas of the volunteer troops, to supply the necessary funds to pay bounties, and meet the other financial requirements of the crisis, while at the same time they had to bear the ordinary burdens of civil government. That we have been enabled to bear at all this immense increase of the public burdens, is a subject for congratulation, while the fact that the State has grown and prospered in spite of them, should excite the most intense satisfaction, not unmixed with wonder. It has been demonstrated beyond cavil, that freedom is the best basis of power.
The first, and one of the most important duties of every government, is the care of its finances. If these fail, or get into disorder, all its operations must either cease entirely, or be carried forward in such an imperfect manner, as to realize but a small share of the benefits which are the objects of its institution. Success in this field is success everywhere, while to fail here is disastrous to the same extent. On coming into the administration four years ago, we found ourselves confronted at the outset with most serious difficulties. The treasury was empty, and the Treasurer himself a defaulter in a large sum, and absent from his post and from the State, having made no report, and not being likely to make any of value. The Auditor General told us that we were in debt largely to the counties, to the asylums, and other public institutions, and recommended a temporary loan of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars, to meet these present pressing claims. His warrants had been sold in the eastern money markets at a heavy
discount to carry on the ordinary operations of government. This state of things was the plain result of the want of a proper financial policy for many previous years.
I took occasion then to say to the Legislature that “ “prudence and economy are the first duty of every government, as rashly incurring debt is the sure road to bankruptcy. We should at once adopt a permanent policy, looking to the steady reduction and final payment of the entire State debt." This course was adopted, with what success the present condition of the finances of the State sufficiently proves.
The following extracts from the report of the State Treasurer for the year ending Nov. 30th, 1864, show the present financial condition of the State: The total receipts of the office, including last year's balance, are...
$2,444,242 25 The total payments for the same period is,..
. $2,004,194 98 Leaving a balance in the Treasury of 440,047 27
WAR EXPENDITURES AND RECEIPTS.
The “ War Fund” was overdrawn at the close
of the last fiscal year, The amount of expenditures for the current year,
charged to this fund is,..
Making a total of.....
March 14, 1863, I have sold War Loan Bonds
.$571,000 00 On which I received for premium and accrued interest, .
15,316 36 By the provisions of “an act author
izing a war bounty loan,” approved Feb. 5, 1864, a loan of $500,000 00 was authorized for bounty purposes, the money aris