« PreviousContinue »
raise by taxation, from year to year, the funds required to meet all the ordinary and incidental expenses of the State, leaving the Sinking Fund to clear off the State debt. This policy for the management of our financial affairs, I should hope might become a permanent one, as it recognizes the obligation of a prompt payment of all our debts; and its tendency will be to prevent the incurring of any indebtedness for schemes and enterprises of doubtful expediency. By "paying as we go," all the ordinary and incidental State expenses, and assuming the responsibility and burden of all expenditures made by us, we shall be much more likely to examine carefully the character of our appropriations than though they were to be met at the present time by creating an indebtedness to be paid in the future. A rigid adherence to this policy will preserve the credit and honor of our State, and her finances will never become deranged or embarrassed. By the ordinary and incidental expenses of the State, I do not mean to include any appropriations which it may be deemed advisable and necessary to make for the payment of war bounties, or any other purely war expenses.
The question of State bounties to volunteers will, undoubtedly, engage your attention; but as it is more appropriately the duty of my predecessor than of myself, in connection with what has already been done, to make specific recommendations in regard to this subject, I shall defer an expression of my own views to a subsequent communication, should I hereafter deem such expression material and necessary.
REVISION OF THE CONSTITUTION.
The Legislature of 1861 adopted an amendment to Article XX of the Constitution, in the following section:
Sec. 2. At the general election, to be held in the year one thousand eight hundred and sixty-six, and in each sixteenth year thereafter, and also at such other times as the Legislature may by law provide, the question of the general revision of the Constitution shall be submitted to the electors qualified to
vote for members of the Legislature; and in case a majority of the electors so qualified, voting at such election, shall decide in favor of a convention for such purpose, the Legislature, at the next session, shall provide, by law, for the election of such delegates to such convention. All the amendments shall take effect at the commencement of the year after their adoption."
The same having been voted upon and ratified by the people at the general election in November, 1862, it would seem to be necessary that some legislative provision be made to govern the manner in which the question of the general revision shall be submitted to the electors, at the general election to be held in the year 1866. I submit the matter to your consideration.
RESOURCES OF THE STATE.
The State of Michigan, although having at the present time a population of little less than one million, and an amount of accumulated personal wealth that will compare favorably with many of the older States, is nevertheless in her infancy. The area of her territory is more than 56,000 square miles; being more than 10,000 square miles larger than either of the great States of New York or Pennsylvania, and more than 16,000 square miles larger than Ohio, and nearly as large as the whole of New England. When as thickly settled as Massachusetts now is, her population would reach nine millions. Surrounded on almost all sides by noble inland seas, her shores are washed by at least fourteen hundred miles of navigable waters. Her soil is varied, but rich and fertile; and notwithstanding the severity of our climate, produces in abundance every variety of fruit, grain and vegetable belong·ing to this latitude. Her agricultural resources are as yet undeveloped, and have never been appreciated, either at home or abroad. Her immense forests of the choicest timber are of great value, giving employment to large numbers of hardy and robust men, in converting it into lumber and conveying it to market, thereby creating a home demand for much of her surplus agricultural products. Her fisheries, another important item in the catalogue of her resources, are of too much value to be overlooked, having reached for the year ending June 1, 1860, as appears by the census returns, the sum of $250,467, being an amount from this source only exceeded by four States in the Union, viz: Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut and Rhode Island. They, too, give employment to a large number of men, and thus also increase the home demand for our surplus products.
A large portion of the territory of Michigan is underlaid by vast beds of mineral deposits; and in this description of wealth she is unsurpassed by any State in the Union. Her copper is of great purity, and its mines, of unknown extent, have already, although in their infancy, reached an annual yield of more than 10,000 tons, equal in value, at the point of shipment, to the sum of $7,000,000. Her iron mines are also of great extent, and the ore is of the richest and finest quality; and although they have very recently been opened—the first yield being only 1,447 tons in the year 1855—yet during the past year the shipments from Marquette have reached the aggregate of 248,000 gross tons, besides 25,000 tons supplied to ihe furnaces of Marquette, of the aggregate value of more than $2,000,000. The immense increase exhibited here, in a commerce but just born, as it were, renders it futile to attempt an estimate of its future importance. The prospective worth of these mines is, in truth, almost incalculable.
Michigan has also extensive fields of coal, containing & quantity sufficient to feed the furnaces of the world. Much of it is of good quality, and all of it is valuable for manufacturing and other purposes. In the absence of manufactures, and from the abundance of fuel incident to a new woodland country, little attention has heretofore been given to this subject, yet the time is not far distant when the coal fields of Michigan will be a source of much wealth. There are also extensive beds of gypsum, of unsurpassed richness, and of great value, not only to the farmer, as a fertilizer, but to the State as an article of commerce.
Numerous springs of saline waters abound in the Saginaw Valley, as well as in other sections of the State which, it is believed, will yield an inexhaustible supply of the strongest brine. To aid in giving a more general idea of the great importance and value of this interest, I will state briefly a few facts in condiection with the manufacture of salt in that valley for the year 1864: Amount of salt produced, barrels,
488,189 wood consumed, cords,
122,047 Aggregate value of wood,...
$335,178 00 Equal to acres of land cleared,..
3,051 Average number of men employed,...
747 Aggregate value of barrels used,..
$219,685 00 Total amount capital invested,...
$2,100,000 00 Average value of salt, at shipping point, per barrel,
$2 25 Aggregate value of salt, at shipping point,.....$1,098,425 00
I have no doubt the interest of this great staple would be materially benefitted by the passage of a proper law for its inspection; and, as those engaged in this business will undoubtedly ask for some law on the subject, I would recommend such legisladon as will the most effectually promote the interests of the manufacturers, and at the same time protect the public from imposition by the sale of an impure article.
It is also believed by many that rich and productive springs of oil will yet be discovered within the limits of the State, indications of which are found in many places; and to aid in a more speedy settlement of this question, I would suggest, for. your consideration, the passage of a law authorizing the payment of a reasonable bounty on oil, subject, however, to such restrictions, as to duration and amount, as would prevent the same from becoming burdensome, in the event of a success in the discovery, similar to that of salt in the Saginaw Valley.
These are some of the great natural resources of Michigan, and which, when properly developed, are destined to make her one of the most prosperous and populous, as well as one of the
richest States in this Union. Even now she is advancing rapidly in wealth and importance, and must very soon, if wisely governed, occupy a proud position among her sister States. Her geographical position and natural advantages cannot fail to secure for her a prosperous future. I commend these great interests to your fostering care and to your favorable consideration, and ask that such special and local, as well as general laws, may be enacted as will tend to secure their speedy and permanent development. To attain this important object two things are essentially necessary-the acquisition of labor, and the introduction of capital; and to these ends should legislation be directed.
A very small portion of the State has yet been reclaimed and settled, and I apprehend it is safe to calculate that nearly five-sixths of her entire territory remains to-day a wilderness. We want settlers. These vast tracts of woodland, however rich and fertile they may be, are of no use to us until cleared and improved; and nothing but labor can do it. Our rich mines of copper, iron, coal and gypsum; our springs of salt, and, as we trust, of oil; our fisheries; and our forests of valuable timber, are all of little consequence unless developed and made productive. by the hand of labor.
I say, then, again, most emphatically, we want men-we want sellers; and the true interest of the whole State requires that immigration should be encouraged and fostered by needful legislation.
A knowledge of our agricultural resources, of our mineral wealth, of the healthiness of our climate, and of the productiveness of our soil, should be communicated to the hardy emigrants from the over-populated countries of Europe, who are seeking homes, by tens of thousands, on this western continent. They are inured to toil by habits of industry and labor, -the true elements of real wealth. Regarding labor as honorable, they cherish a just pride in working out with their own hands a competence, and securing for themselves and their fam