June 1834. Know your history, know your rights.

The following written message was received from his Excellency, the Governor, by Mr. Metcalf, the Secretary of State.

“Gentlemen of the Senate and House of Representatives: In entering upon the duties to which we have been called by the free suffrages of our fellow citizens, we cannot be unmindful of the importance of the duties that devolve upon us, having the public interests of the State confided to our guardianship and care for the ensuing political year. In view of these responsibilities, we may with great propriety and humble confidence in all our deliberations, look for direction and guidance to that Being of perfect Wisdom, whose assistance has been so signally manifested in the success that has attended the efforts of our predecessors, in securing and transmitting to us our civil, religious and political rights. Government in its mildest aspect, under the most favorable Constitution and Laws, and the most perfect administration, is but a necessary evil. And if, agreeable to our Charter of Government, we “surrender up some of our natural rights in order to secure the protection of others,” and fail in the attempt, the evil is an intolerable one, and adds poignancy to the reflection that we furnish the means by which we suffer.

The great end and design of all government is the happiness of the people, more peculiarly so in a Republic, “Liberty and Equality” being the fundamental principles. It is a source of gratification, that when called to the discharge of our respective duties, we are not left without instruction. The great leading objects of legislation are marked out in our Constitution. The private rights of the citizens are there secured; the extent to which the powers of government may go is there defined, and the design and end of a government, founded in consent, and instituted for the general good, are there specified, and explained; and we, acting under this instrument, have but to devise such measures as may seem best calculated to carry into effect the views of those whose charter of instructions is annually placed in the hands of the people’s representatives, and which we have each of us sworn to sustain.

Our State Constitution has enjoined on “the legislators and magistrates in all future periods of this government, to cherish the interests of literature and the sciences, and all seminaries and public schools; to encourage private and public institutions; rewards and immunities for the promotion of agriculture, arts, sciences, commerce, trades, manufactures, and natural history of the country; to countenance and inculcate the principles of humanity, and general benevolence, public and private charity, industry and economy, honesty and punctuality, sincerity, sobriety, and all social affections and generous sentiments among the people.” Here an extensive field is not only open for the display of all your legislative efforts, but it is enjoined on us as legislators and magistrates to cherish, encourage, countenance and inculcate the principles and objects above enumerated.” June 1834