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Governor's Annual Message. Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and of the
House of Representatives: Under provisions of the constitution, the commencement of a new year requires the meeting of the representatives of the peopie for deliberation and action upon public affairs. To them is committed the important duty of making those alterations and amendments in the laws, necessary for the removal of grievances of the past, and required to secure a greater share of happiness and prosperity for the future. To them, in a word, is confided for the time beirg, the sovereign functions of legislation, restricted only by organic law; and upon a wise and judicious use of this momentous trust, the highest that can be delegated by man to his fellow man, depends, in an eminent degree, the welfare of the state.
In meeting and co-operating with the two houses of the legisla. ture, it will be my object as well as duty, to endeavor to cultivate that spirit of harmony, which, while it secures an amicable intercourse that should always exist between the co-ordinate branches of government, at the same time tends best to promote the interests of our common constituents.
During the year now closed, the pestilence has stalked abroad in our country. Its ravages have extended from one extreme to the
other, and pervaded almost its whole extent, carrying, in its train, suffering, misery and death. In our own state, however, though from the vast extent of our navigable coast, greatly exposed, we have but slightly felt its direful effects; and within our borders the destroying hand has been mercifully stayed.
The past year has also been attended with its blessings. The labor of the husbandman has not been without its reward. The harvest of the great staple of the state was less abundant than that of more favorable years; but of all other productions, to which our climate is congenial, the earth has yielded plentiful stores.
In this sublunary state, we cannot expect good or evil unmixed. Contentment, in our allo:led sphere, best secures our happiness; and, whether in adversity or in prosperity, let us alike render our oblation of thanks to the great Ruler of the universe for His kind protection and manifold mercies.
We live in an age of progress. Precedents are no longer observed because they are precedents; everything is subjected to scrutinizing inquiry and searching investigation, and whatever is not found to conform to che standard of reason, is disallowed and rejected.
Scarcely fifteen years have elapsed since the adoption of our present constitution, so happily adapted, at the time, to the sentiments of the people, the spirit of the age, and the prosperity of the state; and yet the progress since made, in the science of gov.
; ernment, affords unmistakeable evidence that the principles of republican institutions may be further extended, and made more beneficial in their application. Monopolies, if not wholly exterminated, may at least be diminished, and a greater degree of equal. ity established. Labor may be better assured of its reward, and the idle and vicious, more effectually excluded from participation in the profits of industry.
Impressed with these considerations, our citizens, at the last general election, by a decisive vote, almost approaching to unani. mity, determined to make an entire revision of our constitution; and, by a radical change in some of its more important features, adapt its provisions to the progressive improvements of the age.
The last fifteen years will form the first period in the history of
Michigan as a state, and this period will be characterized by general prosperity, not however wholly exempt from attendant adversity. Our difficulties and misfortunes, results of misguided action, will serve as admonitions in our future progress; while to our prosperity we can always refer with satisfaction and pride. The advance made in wealth and increase in population in a like period have seldom been equalled and perhaps never excelled.
The prospect now before us is encouraging and inviting. Our climate is salubrious and our soil fertile and productive. Agriculture, manufactures, and commerce, true sources of wealth, possess, within our borders, advantages not excelled in the Union. Great lakes surround us, navigable rivers are numerous, and water-falls abound. Almost equally distant from the Gulf of St. Lawrence the Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic Ocean, and accessible to all by navigable rivers and canals, our interior situation is unrivalled ; and we may.reasonably hope the day is not distant when Michigan, but yesterday a wilderness, the abode of the savage and beasts of prey may fvaorably compare, in population and resources, with other states organized and settled at an earlier day.
Possessing, as we do, the elements of prosperity so great, we need not be jealous of the advance of our sister states. In their prosperity, our own is promoted; and, in the political ties that bind us together, we share any advantages that they possess in a more eminent degree than ourselves.
In our onward course, one of the most important improvements, contemplated in the constitution, and upon which definitive action has already been had, is the substitution of election by the people, for the appointing power of the executive. In the desire to obtain office misrepresentation is not unfrequently practiced, and with the best of motives on the part of the executive, unfit and unworthy persons are often promoted to important stations which they are wholly incompetent to fill. And though unworthy candidates may sometimes be presented to the people, their chances of success will be greatly diminished by the public scrutiny to which their qualifications must be subjected.
Of the duties devolving upon you at your present session, among the first will be that of providing by law for the election by the people of the several State and County officers mentioned in the amend. ment to the constitution adopted at the last general election. By this amendment a great and important principle is affirmed, but, I regret to say, that the detail necessary to carry that principle into effect is wholly omitted.
The legislature, for the present year, is required to provide by law for the election of Judges of the Supreme Court, Auditor General, State Treasurer, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Superintendent of public instruction, and Prosecuting Attorneys. The terms of some of the officers named will expire before an election by the people can be held, and no constitutional provision exists, authorizing them to hold their offices, as is provided in some other cases, beyond the specified periods for which they were appointed. Of this class are the Secretary of State, Auditor General and State Treasurer, the two former appointed by the Governor, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, and the latter elected by the Legislature; and should the duties imposed by law apon their several departments cease to be performed, the state government would, at the same time, cease to exist. Vacancies in other offices would cause less confusion and, in some, perhaps, very little inconvenience.
A difference of opinion no doubt exists, and well may exist, in regard to the authority of the executive and the legislature to fil these and other like vacancies. It is contended on the one side, that when the amendment is officially declared duly adopted, it thereupon becomes a part of the constiution, superceding whatever contravenes its provisions; while, upon the other side it is assumed that it only imposes a duty upon the legislature to provide for the election of certain officers by the people, and until that duty be performed, the executive and the legislature possess full authority to appoint under the constitution in its original form. This authori. ty, it is further assumed by some, cannot have been revoked and determined, but must of necessity continue in force until by the election, for which you are required to provide, effect can be given to the provisions of the amendment.
The amendment must, at some time, take effect and become a vital part of the constitution; and when will that time be? Will