« AnteriorContinuar »
the Legislature, until public opinion shall be satisfied with their condition and effects. But the great principles, which protect the rights of persons and property in our country, are too firmly estab lished and too well understood to require or even to admit frequent or essential alterations. Their application and operation have been settled for ages, and it is the part of true wisdom to leave them, as we have found them, with such changes only, as may be necessary, to remedy existing evils, or to accommodate them to the advancing opinions of the age.
The act passed at the last session of the Council, providing for an apportionment of its members among the counties and districts of the Territory, has been carried into effect, so far as duties were enjoined by it upon the Executive. From the counties of Crawford and St. Clair no returns of the enumeration of the inhabitants were received, but complete returns were forwarded from all the other counties. The apportionment was made upon the principles stated in the act, and the result was announced in conformity with its provisions, by an Executive proclamation. Copies of the several papers relating to this subject will be laid before you.
The revised statutes of the last session have been in force too short a period to ascertain their general operation. A few defects have been discovered, inseparable from the execution of such a task, which will doubiless engage your attention. The most impor tant among these is in the law providing for the empanneling of juries, which has occasioned considerable delay in the administration of justice.
In former communications to the Legislature, I have submitted my views respecting our militia laws, our system of public instruction, our plan for opening and making roads, and our mode of sup porting paupers.-These are all objects of primary importance, to which public attention in the United States has been long directed, but without any general union of sentiment respecting the most practicable method of obtaining the desired results. It is very evident, that our own efforts have not been successful, and that much care and research will be necessary, before the laws relating to those topics assume such a shape as is called for by a regard to our present or future interests. I again recommend them to your consideration.
It appears to me indispensible, that some law should be passed regulating the construction of milldams, in situations where public health may be endangered by them. The longer this subject is postponed, the more difficult will it be to reconcile the conflicting interests which will naturally arise. In some sections of the ferritory, the evil has already operated to a considerable extent, and it may be expected to increase with our advancing settlements, unless some plan can be devised, by which the rights of individuals and of the public may be clearly defined and mutually secured, if not reconciled. Our laws are generally punitive, rather than preventive;
applying penalties after the act has been committed; but this case seems to call for the interposition of some authority which may investigate the subject before the injury is committed, and regulate the proposed erection, as circumstances may require. Such a power, vested in the county courts, would probably be exercised cautiously and impartially.
The counties already laid out in the Territory, are bounded on the west by the principal meridian, but since their establishment, a considerable portion of the country between that line and Lake Michigan, has been surveyed and will probably be brought into market during the present year. From the fertility of its soil, and other advantages, we may anticipate its speedy sale and settlement, and there is already a considerable population occupying it. It has been found in the Western States, that when the boundaries of counties are left to be established after the country is purchased and settled, such conflicting interests arise, as to render it difficult to perform that duty with a proper regard to the public interest. Local feelings are excited, and private interests created, which cause dissentions, whose effects are permanent, and too frequently extend beyond the limits of the counties themselves. To obviate such a state of things, I suggest the expediency of establishing the boundaries of a proper number of counties in that district, to be organised hereafter, when circumstances may render such a measure necessary. A certified plat of the country has been transmitted to me by the Surveyor General, which will furnish all the information necessary to the accomplishment of this measure.
The expense of the Territorial Government is defrayed by the United States, and taxes are therefore only required for objects of internal police. I am satisfied that a re-examination of the various acts authorising the imposition of taxes, and of the objects to which these are applicable, would enable you materially to diminish the burthen upon the community. There are not less than five different officers, under the laws regulating county and township concerns, who collect or receive taxes levied upon the people. All these persons must be paid, and are paid, and the probability of a loss to the public, is greatly increased by this multiplication of officers. The machinery is too complicated for the situation of the country. In all the counties, except the county of Wayne, one half of one per cent, upon the assessment rolls, may be collected for county purposes, and as much more for township purposes, making one per cent upon the whole capital of the county, for objects purely local, and having no relation to the government of the Territory. There are few sections of the Union in which these taxes are so heavy, and I recommend a consideration of the subject, with a view as well to a suplication of the system itself, as efficiency and economy.
I do not consider it necessary to urge upon your attention a great virely of topics. I have adverted to those only which seem to cim more immediate attention. Selected as you are, from the
different sections of the Territory, you bring with you the opinions and feelings of your constituents-and I am far from thinking that a multiplicity of laws afford any evidence of legislative wisdom.
The prospects of the Territory continue to be encouraging. Emigration is rapidly adding to our numbers; and settlements are advancing, and a spirit of improvement is visible in every part of the country.
The liberality of the general government, in its expenditures for roads and other objects of important concern, demands our acknowledgment. It canuut be long before we shall be entitled to claim our admittance into the Union as an independent member of the confederacy. In the mean time, it becomes us, by wise and wholesome laws, and still more by a faithful administration of them, to advance the character and interest of the Territory; to lay the foundation of public prosperity in the wisdom and intelligence of the community; and to direct our efforts to the prevention of crimes rather than to their punishment.
As it is my duty, so it will be my object to co-operate with you in every effort to promote these measures, so important to our interests now and hereafter."
On motion of Mr. Lawrence,
Resolved, That a committee of three members be appointed, to draft rules for the government of the Council in its proceedings.
On motion of Mr. M'Donell,
Resolved, That three hundred copies of the Governor's Speech, delivered this day, be printed in the English language, and one hundred and fifty copies thereof be printed in the French language, for the use of the members of the Council; and that Sheldon & Wells, the printers of the Laws, be employed to print the same.
The President announced the appointment of Messrs. Lawrence, M'Donell, and Stockton, as the committee to draft rules.
On motion of Mr. Lawrence, the Council proceeded to consider the following resolution:
Resolved, That there shall be chosen, by ballot, Clerks for the Legislative Council for the present session, who shall receive dollars per day, in full for all their services; that there shall be chosen, by ballot, one Sergeant-at-Arms, who shall receive dollars per day, in full for all his services; that there shall be chosen, by ballot, one Door-Keeper, who shall receive day, in full for all his services; that there shall be chosen, by ballot, one Messenger, who shall receive per day, in full for
all his services.
The resolution being under consideration;
Mr. Lawrence moved that the first blank therein be filled by inserting the word "two." The motion was decided in the negative.
Mr. M'Donell then moved that said blank be filled by inserting the word "three ;" and the motion was agreed to.
Mr. Connor moved that the word "two," be invited in the second blank..
Mr. Lawrence moved to amend the motion of Mr. Conn, ¡y substituting the words "two dollars and fifty cents."
The question being taken on the last motion, it was lost. The motion of Mr. Connor was then put, and agreed to. On motion of Mr. Lawrence, the third blank in the resolution was filled with the word "two."
On motion of Mr. M'Donell, the fourth blank was filled by inserting "one dollar and twenty-five cents ;" and the fifth blank by inserting the word "one.”
The resolution was then, on motion, adopted, as follows:
Resolved, That there shall be chosen, by ballot, three Clerks for the Council, for the present session, who shall receive two dollars each per day, in full for all their services; that there shall be chosen, by ballot, one Sergeant-at-Arms, who shall receive two dollars per day, in full for all his services; that there shall be chosen, by ballot, one Door-Keeper, who shall receive one dollar and twenty-five cents per day, in full for all his services; that there shall be chosen, by ballot, one Messenger, who shall receive one dollar per day, in full for all his services.
On motion of Mr. M'Donell, the Council then adjourned, to meet to-morrow, at 11 o'clock, A. M.
WEDNESDAY, May 7, 1828.
Prayer by the Rev. Mr. Wells.
Mr. Lawrence, from the committee appointed to draft rules for the government of the Council, in their proceedings, made a report, recommending the adoption of the following resolution :
Resolved, That the Standing Rules for the government of the second Legislative Council of the Territory of Michigan, be, and they are hereby declared to be the Standing Rules for the government of the present Council.
Mr. Lawrence moved that the resolution, reported by the committee to draft rules, be now adopted.
Mr. Drake moved that the first Rule, recommended by the resolution, be amended, so as to read as follows:
"The Legislative Council, when assembled, shall choose, by ballot, one of their own number to occupy the Chair, and who shall be styled the "President of the Legislative Council." He shall hold his office during the session in which he is elected."
The question on the amendment was put, and decided in the ne gative.
The question on agreeing to the resolution was then put, and was decided in the affirmative.
On motion of Mr. Rumsey, the Council proceeded to ballet for the presiding officer thereof.
The Clerk, pro tempore, having counted the ballots, by direction. of the President, it appeared that Abraham Edwards was unanimously elected President of the Council.
The result of the ballot having been announced by the Clerk, Mr. Edwards rose and addressed the Council as follows: "Gentlemen of the Legislative Council:
Accept my thanks for the honor you have just conferred upon me. I assure you it is no ordinary gratification to me, to be a third time unanimously elected to preside at the deliberations of the Legislature of this Territory; and more particularly, as illiberal imputations have been raised against me, as President of the last Legislative Council; which imputations, however, you, as well as the electors of Wayne county, have justly appreciated-for they were not founded on facts.
In the discharge of the duties incumbent upon me as your presi ding officer, you may rely upon my endeavors to execute them faithfully, and as correctly as my knowledge of legislative business will admit; and if, in the discharge of those duties, my conduct should meet your approbation, and that of my fellow-citizens, I shall be amply rewarded.
The last Council had the arduous duties of a general revision of the Territorial laws, and as our sessions are limited to sixty days by the act of Congress, sufficient time was not afforded to give to the several acts which were passed, that critical investigation which their importance required; consequently some errors and discrepancies have occurred in our statutes, which it will be our business to remedy.
Permit me, gentlemen, to congratulate you on the honor that is conferred on us, in being the first to occupy this splendid hall, as a Legislative body; and permit me to express the hope, that the laws which we here enact may be as creditable to us, as this noble edifice is to its projector and its architect."
On motion of Mr. Rumsey, the Council took a recess until three o'clock, P. M.
3 o'clock, P. M. Mr. M'Donell moved the adoption of the following resolution: Resolved, That the appointment of Clerks, Sergeant-at-Arms, Door-Keeper, and Messenger, be made in the following manner, viz: each member (beginning at the right) shall be at liberty to nominate any person to fill any of said offices, commencing with the election of the Clerks; next, Sergeant-at-Arms; next, Door-Keeper; and ending with the election of Messenger: that the votes be taken by ballot on each nomination, "yea," or "nay," until the said appointments be made.
Mr. Drake moved to amend the resolution, so as to vote for the three Clerks on one ballot. The motion was decided in the negative.