Inaugural Address of Governor Leland Stanford of California, January 10, 1862
8th Governor, Republican
Presented: January 10, 1862
Gentlemen of the Legislature and Fellow Citizens:
With a radical change in the political character of the new Administration, from that of its predecessors, there seems to be, in assuming the responsibilities of the Chief Executive of the State, a special fitness that I should observe the custom which has heretofore obtained, and give a brief exposition of the general policy that will govern my Administration.
The Constitution enjoins upon the Legislature to encourage, by all suitable means, the promotion of intellectual, scientific, moral and agricultural improvement. In aid of all these, I shall regard it as my imperative duty to co-operate.
It is the policy of the General Government, as it is of the State, to encourage settlements upon lands belonging to the public, and in furtherance of such policy, liberal inducements are offered. Yet, under the ruling of our Courts, the Settler, who has gone in good faith upon private lands, not segregated, supposing them to be public, and in fact even when upon the public domain, may yet be dispossessed by one whose only claim is that he owns lands within boundaries that include the property in question. That a person who owns or claims but one league of land, should be able to hold, control, and dispossess others from a hundred leagues, is not only manifestly unjust to individuals, but is also to the great detriment of Agriculture and the settlement and development of the resources of the State. I cannot but think that some legislation should be had whereby the Settler, who in good faith has gone upon private lands, not segregated from thc public domain, under the supposition that he was locating upon lands belonging to the Government, should receive such equitable protection as the State is able to give.
While the settlement of our State is of the first importance, the character of those who shall become settlers is worthy of scarcely less consideration. To my mind it is clear, that the settlement among us of an inferior race is to be discouraged, by every legitimate means. Asia, with her numberless millions, sends to our shores the dregs of her population. Large numbers of this class are already here; and, unless we do something early to check their immigration, the question, which of the two tides of immigration, meeting upon the shores of the Pacific, shall be turned back, will be forced upon our consideration, when far more difficult than now of disposal. There can be no doubt but that the presence of numbers among us of a degraded and distinct people must exercise a deleterious influence upon the superior race, and, to a certain extent, repel desirable immigration. It will afford me great pleasure to concur with the Legislature in any constitutional action, having for its object the repression of the immigration of the Asiatic races.
The subject of overland communication, and protection to immigrants from the Atlantic States, has ever engaged the attention of our people. The importance of the subject has not been lessened by time. Upon the nature of our overland communication with the older States may depend the course of the great and vastly important trade of the Eastern world. In this connection, I desire to call attention to the importance of steam communication between California and Eastern Asia, whereby the whole course of our treasure shipments would probably be changed, and, in paying the debts due from the commercial world to this far-off land, the course of exchange, instead of being against us, would probably be in our favor. And, in case of a war with a maritime power, the importance of an established line of American steamers between California and Asia could not be over-estimated. I think, therefore, we are fully warranted, independently of considerations connected with our overland communications, in calling the attention of the National Government to the necessity of such a line of steamers to the country at large as well as to California.
Within a short time, the Territory of Nevada has sprung into great importance; her vast undeveloped wealth will attract, and give employment to, an immense population of industrious and thriving people, ensuring her a brilliant and important destiny. From California, she will necessarily derive the most of her supplies. The most difficult link of the Pacific and Atlantic Railroad, which must pass through this Territory, lies in our State.
It is not necessary, at this late day, to go into a general argument to prove the importance of a railroad connecting the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Especially now, when its military necessity is so much more than ever apparent. I allude to it chiefly, because I think the time has arrived when, in consequence of local business, the most difficult and important part of the work can be accomplished without direct pecuniary aid from the National Government. May we not, therefore, with the utmost propriety, even at this time, ask the National Government to donate lands and loan its credit in aid of this portion of that communication, which is of the very first importance, not alone to the States and Territories west of the Rocky Mountains, but to the whole Nation, and is the great work of the age?
It cannot have escaped the attention of those who are familiar with the timber regions of the State, that there is great and unnecessary waste of our stately forests. It is doubtful whether these lands or the timber upon them, can ever be of any considerable avail to the General Government. In consideration of the vast importance to our State that the timber should be preserved from waste, if deemed desirable, it would not, I believe, be asking too much of the General Government, to solicit from her the cession of those lands. I therefore respectfully suggest to the Legislature, for consideration, the propriety of petitioning the National Government for the cession of its proprietary right in those lands, the proceeds of which, when sold, to be devoted to the fostering of education and the support of eleemosynary institutions and works of internal improvement.
No one, I think, who has carefully considered the subject, would desire any disturbance of our present system of Mining laws and regulations, save only as they may apply to those races whose settlement among us is not desirable. It might therefore be well, to prevent a possible agitation of the subject, for the General Government, in case of a cession of these timber lands, to reserve the minerals they contain. And here I desire to enter my protest against any attempt, on the part of the General Government, to restrict, or interfere in any manner with, the working of our mines, as impolitic and disastrous in the extreme.
In the late election, one of the prominent ideas before the people was the necessity of' retrenchment in the public expenditure. This is essential to avoid the burden of unnecessary expense to the people, as also in the beneficial influence of example. For this purpose I shall heartily co-operate with the legislative branch of the Government. Upon its action very much depends, and I feel confident in this respect, as in all others, the Legislature will fully meet the just expectations of the just expectations of the people.
While a close economy in the expenditure of public moneys should be practiced, the people will not desire a mean and narrow spirit, in withholding appropriations that shall be really for the promotion of the general welfare. It should not be so much a question of how little only we need appropriate to keep the wheels of State in motion, but how wisely our resources shall be expended. Let us always practice a rigid economy in the public disbursements, but with a generous embrace of whatever will tend to make wiser, better, and happier, the people.
It is a reproach to any State that it fails to be liberal in its protection of the unfortunate, who are proper objects of public charity, and dangerous to neglect the education of the rising generation. Let our appropriations for charitable and educational purposes be of that munificent character that will reflect credit upon us as a people benevolent and wise. Upon the intelligence and education of the masses the hopes of a democratic sentiment can alone find a certain and reliable basis. We know to-day there would be no armed resistance and unlawful appeal from the will of the majority, convulsing the country, had the minority been possessed of proper information as to the objects and purposes of the majority. It was this want of correct information among the masses where this most iniquitous rebellion that now troubles the land first found foothold, that caused the people in those sections to become the willing though blind instruments to serve the purposes of the selfish and aristocratic sentiment that would destroy our republican government.
Among all people in free and civilized nations, in greater or less activity, are to be found two antagonistic ideas. The one is, that every citizen is of right the equal, politically, of his fellow citizen, and, should be permitted the enjoyment and protected in the exercise of that right; the other, that he does not possess this right, and that he ought not to be permitted its enjoyment, nor protected in its exercise. I regard the struggle that is now convulsing our country as one for predominance between these two antagonistic ideas. To a greater or less extent, there has been a steady conflict between them since the formation of our Government, but not always so active to attract the recognition of the unobservant, and, in fact, often too obscure even for the observance of the vigilant. But the conflict has, none the less, surely existed, though it is only of late years that the struggle assumed proportions such as to alarm any considerable number of those who believed in the people, and that the majority should rule.
Out of a just appreciation of this struggle, and the source from which it sprung, and the means by which the anti-democratic or aristocratic side was maintained, arose the party that placed the present National Administration in power, which, representing truly the cardinal principles of that party, is now striving, with a true conservatism, to preserve the guarantees of the Constitution, and maintain the original idea upon which the revolutionary struggle was fought by our fathers, and implanted in the organization of our Government.[sic] and supported in all its vigor by the Republican administrations of Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe.
The Union-loving and intelligent democratic sentiment of the people, which is to-day arrayed against the gigantic insurrection, or armed refusal of the minority, to abide the decision of the majority, finds itself ably represented in the National Administration to whom, in this time of trial and peril, the helm of State is so fortunately entrusted. Upon the one mighty issue, of which alone the people care to take cognizance, all true Union- loving democratic citizens should unite in one party, for the maintenance of their side of that issue.
Political parties will always exist in all free governments. There they have ever been recognized by the wisest, the ablest and best; while in despotic governments, they have little or no existence. Recognizing these facts, while the party, to whose confidence and partiality I am mainly indebted for the high position, the duties of which I have this day solemnly sworn to discharge, remains true to the cause of the people—I shall not ignore or forget its existence, but rather ask that all who agree with its cardinal and truly conservative principles, shall unite to put down the enemies of free government, and bear aloft the emblem of our nationality, and of the freedom-loving throughout the world.
California has nobly and wisely pronounced in favor of the cause of the people. Let her prove her devotion to the Union and to civil liberty, by doing all in her power to maintain both. Let her part of the National Tax be cheerfully assumed, and provision be made for its payment out of the State Treasury. Every one of us should feel that we are but guardians, holding our lives and our fortunes in trust, for the protection of the Government, around which cluster the anxious hopes and fears of millions who have grown with its growth and strengthened with its strength.
Our Government is emphatically one of the people; possessing all the power of the people for their protection and defence, but powerless for their oppression. It is not only the best, but it is the strongest form of Government the world has ever known. Let it remain unchanged.
The citizens of California are by birth the representatives of all parts of the Union, and are naturally imbued with more or less of local sympathies. Let us be as tolerant and charitable of opinion as possible, but none should ever forget that California is one of the United States—that she is loyal to the Union, that her citizens have quite recently unmistakably declared their devotion to our national unity, their recognition of the supremacy of the National Government, and their determination to maintain both inviolate.
Every citizen of California must remember his duty, and, remembering, discharge it faithfully. His fellow citizens are now in the field, armed against traitors and treason, and for the preservation of the Union and the National Government. The whole power of the State should, if necessary, be wielded, to encourage, support, and sustain these patriotic citizens and their compatriots. Let treason meet a just and speedy punishment; and may we soon, as I doubt not we shall, see peace restored to our beloved Union, our institutions more firmly implanted than ever, and sustained by a national sentiment that shall pervade every section of our country.
The new Administration enters upon the discharge of its duties at a momentous period of our nation's history. I confidently trust there will be concert of action in all the departments of our State Government, to strengthen the arm of the Federal power, and also in whatever will tend to advance the interest of our State.
For my part, I shall at all times be guided by an anxious desire to administer the affairs of State with a mind free from party or personal prejudice, and with a purpose single to the faithful and conscientious discharge of the exalted trust committed to my care by a generous and confiding people.
In this, the hour of our nation's peril, let us invoke the care and protection of Him "who doeth according to His will in the army of Heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth." And may a kind Providence continue to our State the bounties and blessings so richly bestowed in the past, and may we endeavor as a people to render ourselves worthy of being their recipient in the future.