* Governor Brown's Message *
Dec. 7, 1819


Abstract 1270 - CR [Register] Dec. 21:2/1, 2, 3, 4, 5

OHIO LEGISLATURE.

MONDAY, DEC. 6.

A quorum of both houses of the General Assembly met and having taken he common oaths, the house of representatives were organized by choosing Joseph Richardson, esquire, of Columbiana county, Speaker pro tem. Almost unanimously, William Doberty Clerk. and Benjamin Pike Door keeper, unanimously. The members of the house were all present except Jared Strong for Pike and Jackson counties, and William Blackburn for Columbiana county.

The Senate made choice of Allen Trimble Speaker, after four ballotings Richard Collins Clerk, and John Martin, Door keeper.

The usual committees were appointed by the speakers of the representative houses. In the Senate Sardine Stone appeared to contest the election of Levi Barber, who were declared elected for the counties of Washington and Athens. The election of John A. M'Dowell of Franklin county, was contested by Orris Parish. The election of Wm. Loist, of Fairfield county was remonstrated against by a number of citizens of Fairfield and Perry counties. All which were referred to the committees of privileges and elections. Little other business was attended to this day.

TUESDAY, DEC. 7

The committee of privileges and elections reported in favor of the claim of Sardine Stone to a seat, which was concurred in by the Senate. The house took up the report of the committee in favor of the claim of George Kesling to the seat who contested the election of David Sutton declared elected, and agreed thereto.

At twelve o'clock, his excellency the Governor sent to both houses the following

MESSAGE
FELLOW CITIZENS OF THE SENATE
AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Receive my congratulations on the public approbation, which distinguished you at the late election: by reposing in your virtue and talents, one of the most important trusts, that a free people can confide.

During the recess few occurrences have transpired, that require to be imparted by the executive. The objects of a general nature, requiring legislature provision do not appear to be numerous; but some of them are important; and demand a corresponding degree of careful investigation. Among these, the public finances, as usual, demand an unremitting vigilance; since no system of this kind, can be imagined, incapable of improvement or which changing circumstances may not effect.

The report of the treasury officers will exhibit, that, with tri. fling exceptions, the appropriations of last session have been sufficient for the current expenses of government; and that an unexpended balance remains in the treasury of about thirty two thousand dollars.

The nominal amount of taxes received, and expected into the state treasury, would indicate its prosperous condition; were it not, that many of the bank bills, which collectors are compelled to receive, if the collection be effected are in a lamentable state of depreciation. Their lessened estimation in public opinion enhancing the price of every article above its specie value, oppresses various classes of the community, affects the public creditors and cannot fail of considerable influence on our fiscal operations.

Very little doubt appears to be entertained, that this pecuniary embarrassment has been hastened, by the operations of the bank of the United States; but the leading cause, I suspect will be more successfully, sought, in the too extensive and injudicious use of their credit formerly, made by some of the state banks, which induced speculations on the part,,, of their borrowers with hopes too sanguine to be realized in times, like the present. These causes combined with an adverse balance of trade, the fallen price of the country...* have conspired to pre... * institutions!. from redeeming their bills and preserving their credit, and circulation. Other causes and practices have, no doubt, contributed to this state of things, and to demonstrate the truth, often repeated, that these promises, will only answer all the purposes of money, while there is a reasonable hope that they can be converted into money, at pleasure.

Some of the provisions of the Act "to regulate judicial proceedings,, when banks and bankers are parties," have too lately come in force to test their efficacy, in preventing the mischiefs of a depreciated currency. It is thought, that to provide, by law for an immediate cure of this evil, and provide facilities, for the transaction of business, would be a task difficult, if not impracticable. A shaken confidence in paper credit, and scarcity of an universal medium, of acknowledged value, are strong impediments. Nothing is more certain, that poverty must attend a consumption from abroad, of greater value than what we sell to foreigners. Frugality and industry--encouragement and preference of home manufactures.--and the great annual productions of our soil and labor, aided by facilities of their carriage, seem the most unfailing resources, for relief from the pecuniary distress complained of. If this be true, the radical remedy must be the work of time. Since new importations have become very limited and new emmissions of bank paper have mostly ceased, hopes are indulged that the credit of the banks will revive as their notes must gradually be withdrawn from circulation.

The care of the public purse, being the peculiar province of the legislature as well as the means of replensihing as in the expenditure it becomes an unceasing duty to improve the economy of the assessment and collection, by every method that reason and experience may point out. I hope, therefore, you will indulge me respectfully to recommend, a careful review of the present system: which in some of its parts, particularly in relation to the collection of the taxes of no n resident proprietors has been thought susceptible of greater simplicity, with less expense.

Let me here take occasion to observe, that in the exercise of your powers of taxation, no description of the public burthen thus imposed, should pass unheeded; and that, some account, for your review. Of the operation of every law, relating to these requisitions must be necessary to enable you to correct abuses, and to judge whether amendments be practicable yet no provision has heretofore been made, for the concentration of information, relative to the sums, collected and expended for county and township purposes. –These form very important items supposed to exceed three fourths of all the taxes, paid by those you represent.

The present regulation in this respect, appears to me too little systematic. It is not perceived why these particulars, so considerable in amount, should be so disjointed, as they are, from the general system of finance; where harmony, respectability, and regularly seem to require a return to be made immediately or ultimately to the auditor, from every department of the public revenue. The subject is recommended with great deference, to your consideration; as well as how far it is right in principle, or expedient in practice, for you to delegate, to others the power of laying taxes, even under limitations.

Manufactories, in the western states, are still too limited, in number and extent, to promise us a speedy relief and protection from foreign debt. It therefore remains for us, to avail ourselves, of the more common productions of the country. I hope for your indulgence, in pressing upon you a subject of so great and general interest to the state. Your observation must have perceived, that one principal obstruction to the removal of the commercial distress, consists in the cost and difficulty of transporting to market those productions, which constitute our great and almost only resource for regaining and preserving the balance of our trade. This difficulty once removed our resources are ample. – It now tends to exclude our provisions from competition abroad, with those produced in situations more favorable to easy and cheap conveyance: The effect upon industry and enterprise is too palpable to need comment. --My conviction, of the usefulness of obtaining the information and estimates, which skill and experience can impart, of the practicability and expense of forming canals, and opening the natural channels of internal navigation, through the state, induces me to request, that the measure recommended last session, of appointing a civil engineer, may again be considered. I also submit for your reflection the expediency of adopting some mode of obtaining regular returns of the produce and manufactures of different parts of the state as data to prove our resources, and the value of such improvements. With these advantages a better estimate might be formed, of what the state could proudently undertake, and what encouragement, could reasonably be afforded to private enterprise.

In compliance with a resolution of the General Assembly passed at their last session gen. Edward W. Tupper was appointed commissioner, on the part of this state to join the commissioners of the other states, immediately interested, in examining the obstructions of the navigation of the river Ohio. This service they have performed, and the legislature may soon expect their report. It does not appear that ever Indiana has intimated a purpose of acceding to our proposal, for accomplishing this object: and from some cause, unknown to me, the commissioner from Kentucky did not attend. No specific appropriation was made, to cover the charges of this expedition, a part of which have been defrayed out of the governor's contingent fund.

The proposition for a convention, to revise the state constitution having been rejected by a majority of the votes returned, you will naturally be led to enquire what amendments, still within your constitutional power, are necessary and proper in our judiciary system? In my message of last year, I communicated to you my ideas at large, on certain modifications, which I recommended to the legislature for adoption; in case they should have been of opinion that an amendment to the constitution was then impolitic or unnecessary. To that message, I beg leave to refer you; adverting particularly in those parts of it, which relate to the establishment of a separate court of Chancery; and to trials by jury before the supreme court. The vesting that court with cognizance in matters of law and equity only, would not infringe on the trial by jury; while to exempt it from trying matters of fact, in civil causes would afford the judges of that tribunal more time for satisfactory investigation, of new and difficult cases, that inevitably arise in the course of their appellate jurisdiction.--More than the amount of the Chancellor's salary would be saved from the common pleas, by a transfer of business.

Several year's experience had convinced me that the present system was grievously burthensome and costly to the public; dilatory and expensive to litigants; and above all, was unsuited, to answer completely, the great purposes, for which our courts of judicature were instituted. It will be recollected that a thin population, from nine counties only, sent delegates to the convention. The plan that might have been sufficient in the year eighteen hundred and three, is but ill adapted to the altered state of our affairs in eighteen hundred and nineteen.

My predecessor, at the last meeting of the general assembly, presented for advisement, and legislative provision, the case of one Jacob Lewis; who, being under sentencce of death, in the county of Muskingum, had been reprieved by him, and confined in the penitentiary; under the authority of the act "to provide for the safekeeping of persons who may be reprieved by the governor" This act provides for no course to be pursued, at the expiration of such respite. The prisoner's reprieve was twice renewed, during the administration of the late governor; and once, since the executive duties devolved upon me.

Having last summer, received advice, that a quantity of arms, equal to eighteen hundred and twenty-five stand, was at Pittsburgh; ready to be delivered to my order, under the act of congress for arming and equipping the militia; I deemed it prudent, to order the inspector general to that place, for the purpose of selecting such, as I supposed to be required of us. The late governor had been informed, that our portion could be drawn, in whatever kind the state should prefer, but owing to a different regulation adopted by the ordnance department, the inspector general unable to obtain all that was wished, selected only the number of muskets, directed by his instructions, amounting to twelve hundred stand which the quarter master general has been directed to receive, and treat with proper care. Inquiry has been made of the secretary of war whether an equivalent can be had for the remainder, in arms of a different description: his answer has not yet been received. I should be gratified, if the legislature, to whom the distribution is intrusted, would make some order with regard to them, and such other arms as we may receive.

Good policy requires that early attention be paid to defining and settling the limits of counties, in the northwestern part of the state. And also for fixing definitively, the line of demarcation between this state and the Michigan Territory and thereby preventing a circumstance so unpleasant, as a collision of jurisdiction.

A list of the vacancies that have happened, since the rising of the legislature, which it is your province to fill will be laid before you. In some of these instances, I have found it necessary to issue commissions, which will of course expire at the close of the session.

The collection of the state tax, from the bank of the U. States, having excited considerable sensation and speculation, at home and abroad, it may be expected that some allusion to it would appear in the governor's Message. The auditor will la before you the particulars of this transaction: which will show that the corporation have instituted suits against the public officers, and others, for the violation of their alleged immunity. The case of this company, would not appear more entitled to notice in an official communication form the executive, than that of any other private defaulter who supposing himself aggrieved, appeals to the courts of justice; were it not for the importance it derives, from an interpretation of their act of incorporation, said to have been given by the supreme court of the United States. Under this sanction, their pretensions involve constitutional principles of the highest moment implicating the question of state sovereignty, confessedly one of the strongest barriers that protect our republican institutions.

Independent of the much controverted question of the constitutionality of this incorporation is absolution from duties to the states, whose protection may become necessary to its very existence, is a principle that meets opposition, strong and respectable. Other states have also asserted their right to fiscal exaction from that association; and through hindered have not receded: I cannot doubt but that respect, to opposing opinions, manifested from high authority, will induce the supreme court in new case to re-examine their own—delivered in the first instance of the kind, that appears to have come directly before that distinguished tribunal for adjudcation.

In the present posture of affairs, no obvious course presents itself to my mind, for the legislature of Ohio, but the alternative either to concede to the bank its pretensions, or to permit the controversy to take the regular course of judicial proceedings, and await the decision. The former I should by no means advise; unless you are prepared to abandon the principles of your law--repeal it--restore the levy--and acknowledge, that by the compact of union, you have relinquished this incident to sovereignty, and no longer retain the power concurrent with the general government, of taxing all monied corporations within your territory, a concession and acknowledgement, to which I am strongly disinclined; as well as to any interference on your part, out of the ordinary line you would pursue in the case of any delinquent, in like manner claiming a legal exemption from taxation. I should therefore recommend the latter alternative. I have mentioned be adopted as best befitting the dignity of the state, suited to the situation of the dispute; and respectful to the supreme court. If the court sustain jurisdiction in this instance, which on grounds of their former decisions, has been much doubted, the judgment on decree will receive due regard from the state.

The United States' bank ask no favors--solicit no compromise. In their opposition they rely upon strict law; to that they have resorted for redress, and it must be presumed that if entitled, the law will afford them a remedy. If they fail, the conclusions is forcible that the exclusive privilege for which they contend is unfounded; and that they are not distinguishable, by any such mark, from ordinary defaulters of the public reverue.

ETHAN A. BROWN.

COLUMBUS, DEC. 7, 1819. (73)

* Illegible

(From Annals of Cleveland - 1818-1935, Volume I (1819), pages 931 through 936. Cleveland: Cleveland WPA. 1937.)


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