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public sentiment so strong as that recently expressed, can be fitly responded to, only by the active and vigilant endeavors of those entrusted with power, to preserve, and, if possible, improve the various important institutions and interests confided to them.
It will be necessary, under the existing laws, for the legislature to assemble again in the autumn to determine the choice of Electors of President and Vice of President of the United States, and as it is probable that you will prolong that meeting for the purpose of establishing a new proportion of taxes throughout the State, I am led to presume that it will be thought expedient to terminate the present session as soon as a due regard to the public interests will permit. This consideration, and the absence, so far as is known to me, of all grievan·ces or complaints which demand the immediate action of the legislature, concur in advising me to abstain at the present time from the recommendation of any measures calculated to detain you longer than the transaction of the ordinary and indispensable business of the session may require.
The affairs of the State Prison will require your early attention.The appropriation of last year for the erection of the new cells has been all applied, and a further sum is immediately wanted for the continuation of the work. The progress' made in the execution of the plan of improvements, notwithstanding the early part of the season was unfavorable, is quite satisfactory, and there is every assurance that if the requisite means are provided, the whole will be completed within the present year. During the last year I have taken advantage of such opportunities as several official visits to the prison have given me, to become acquainted with the condition of the convicts, and the general administration of the institution ; and it gives me pleasure to be able to bear unqualified testimony to the very faithful and judicious management of its concerns by its present officers. Without relaxing the wholesome severity of discipline, or granting indulgences in any degree incompatible with the primary objects of penitentiary confinement, great improvement has been effected in the moral and religious characler of the prisoners, and in their habits of industry, and a more ready and cheerful obedience is rendered by them to the rules and regulations of the Prison. Much of this improvement is, without doubt, justly attributed to the devoted services of the Chaplain and those who have assisted him as religious teachers. Their unwearied zeal for the instruction and reformation of the convicts, is deserving of the highest praise.
I understand that the Warden's Report will present a statement, which, in respect to revenue, will bear a favorable comparison with that of last year.
There are many reasons for believing that the militia system will at sonie suitable period, cgain occupy the attention of the legislature.Without proposing the subject for your consideration at this tiine, I may
be permitted to express 'my regret, that any expectations formed of beneficial results from its late introduction into Congress, are likely to be disappointed. The failure, hitherto, of every attempt to establish an uniform system throughout the United States, an object which this State has long anxiously desired to have accomplished, has nearly extinguished all hope of seeing the subject definitively acted upon in that quarter, and must have produced conviction in every mind, that the States must separately charge themselves with such organization of their own militia, as their circumstances and peculiar views of the value and purposes of the institution may dictate as best. It may not be improper to stale, what I am unofficially informed of, that gentlemen, very compelent to the undertaking, have been engaged in preparing a plan for a modification of our present system, to be communicated to one of your houses during the present session. It is very desirable that some ganization may be suggested, which, without depriving the system of its necessary efficiency, may be satisfactory to the people and conse- • quently permanent.
Esery friend of the militia will perceive the necessity of adopting some measures to restore it to that place in public estimation which it has been accustomed to occupy, but which, it cannot be concealed, it is now in some danger of losing.
An extensive and intimate knowledge of the situation and circumstances of the various classes of the community can alone enable us to carry into effect the objects and designs of government. Those who are reduced to a state of helplessness by poverty, misfortune, or want. of capacity, are in a peculiar manner the objects of legislative guardianship ; and it is our duty to provide all necessary means when within our reach, to meliorate their condition.
Sharing the awakened sympathies, of the public, and stimulated perhaps by movements in other States, the last legislature so far acknowledged the propriety of interposing in behalf of the poor debtor, as to relieve him, in some degree, from the liability to be deprived of his personal liberty. Whether the bill which was passed for the purpose be not capable of some improvement, I will not at present inquire. It should at least be regarded as one step gained, and even if its provisions are not yet all that may be desired, it should be hailed as an omen of future good. For myself, I cannot but hope that it is only the beginning of those measures of relief which the poor debtor so long looked for in vain.
And for that unfortune class of our fellow beings from whom the providence of God has withheld the blessings of hearing and of speech, much has been done, and is now doing, under the patronnge of the State. Means, as successful as they are wonderful, are employed to qualify them by a competent 'knowledge of literature and the useful arts, to acquire for themselves by their own talents and industry, a respectable and sufficient support ; and it is found that they can not only
be taught to appreciate and enjoy, in a high degree, the pleasures of social and intelligent beings, but are capable of instruction, also, in the higher attainments of morality and religion. The means now placed at the disposal of the Executive for the education of the indigent Deaf and Dumb, are inadequate to the assistance of all the meritorious applicants for the States' bounty. It is confidently believed that an enlightened and liberal public would justify and sustain the government, should it see fit to extend to a still greater number the benefits of this noble charity.
There is still another class of sufferers, far more deplorably afflicted than any of the present beneficiaries of the State, to alleviate whose wretchedness is an undertaking highly worthy the exercise of legislative wisdom. I feel that no apology need be made, in an age so distinguished for its public and private charities, for calling your attention to a subject which has so much reason and humanity on its side, as a measure for ihe security and recovery of the lunatic or insane. The legislature of this State has never yet recognized these unfortunate beings as entitled to any special favor from government. The period, indeed, is not very remote, when the insane were thought to be the victims of an incurable and hopeless malady; and before the establishment of suitable hospitals and retreats for their reception, they might justly be considered so. It is well known how delicate and difficult is the task, even under the most advantageous circumstances, of " ministering to a mind diseased.” Great tenderness, discretion, temper, unwearied patience, and varied experience in mental affections, are, with other qualifications, indispensable to success. When, therefore, the insane are left, as now, to the insufficient means and incompetent skill of relatives or friends, or, still worse, to the negligence and indifference so often exbibited in the treatment of patients of every kind in town poorhouses, or when they are subjected, as is frequently the case, to the privations and solitude of a gaol, where attention is limited to the mere personal security of the individual, we need not be surprized that a restoration of the mind to a healthy state should so seldom happen. The results of experiments in other States and other countries, are, howerer, so perfectly well authenticated, and so highly favorable, that no doubt can be now entertained, that lunacy yields as readily to skilful medical treatment and proper regimen, when combined with humane and judicious care and attention, as most of the other diseases incident to mankind. Reports from some of the best conducted retreats in England and the United States show, that of patients received within three months after the first attack, the proportion recovered is more than ninety per cent. Of those admitted after three, and within twelve months from the commencement of the disease, the ratio of recoveries is as twenty-five to forty-five ; and when the disease is of more than two years standing, the average of cures is somewhat less than thirty per cent. These statements establish the importance of having, in
some convenient part of the State, a place where patients of this deg. cription can be received, with as little delay as possible after the commencement of the disease, and before improper management shall have aggravated its character, and lessened the chances of cure. The slight aberrations of a fine understanding are, without doubt, often exasperated by injudicious treatment, into the worst form of confirmed lunacy.. I would not unnecessarily impute blame to any, because the insane are not now better managed, yet there may be some reason to fear, that a true disclosure of their condition, would exhibit instances of suffering from intentional unkindness and neglect, that would surprize and shock every friend of humanity. Without, however, insisting upon what is rather suspected, than known to be true, it is enough for our purpose to be assured, as we are by the testimony of all accurate observers, that the consequences resulting from the misconception of the nature of the disease, and ignorance of the proper mode of treating it, are scarcely less deplorable than the effects of the most criminal misconduct, and that these evils must continue to be experienced so long as the insane are abandoned to the care of uninstructed or irresponsible individuals.
The want of more suitable places for their reception, has made it frequently necessary, for the public safety, to imprison the insane like criminals in the common county gaols. I am sure it needs no argument to convince you, how entirely unsuitable and undeserved, is this species of confinement. The public may indeed, in this way, be secured from danger, but the protection is generally purchased by the sacrifice of the miserable victim. The moment the doors of the prison are closed upon him, all hope of his recovery may be considered as destroyed. Is it just or merciful, to treat thus those, whom law and reason pronounce to be incapable of wrong?
The first step to be taken preparatory to the establishment of a State Lunatic Hospital, and what I would beg leave to recommend for your consideration, is the institution of an enquiry to be made in such manner as you in your wisdom may think proper, to ascertain with as much exactness as practicable, the whole number of insane within the State, distinguishing paupers from others; the number that have been committed to gaol within a given time by authority of court or by their friends or others without the order or sånction of judicial proceedings, and the length of their respective terms of confinement ; and to ascertain in like manner, the actual or probable amount of costs of courts and gaolers' fees, and expenses of their support and maintenance in cases of commitment. It would also be desirable, to have as minute information with respect to the present condition and treatment. of the insane generally, and the extraordinary charges for taking care. of them, as can be obtained without an improper violation of the rights of domestic privacy.
Should the inquiry be faithfully made, it is believed that these unfor
tunate persons would be found to be so numerous, and their sufferings in the aggregate 'so great, as to persuade every considerate friend of his species that something should be done for their relief. They can look for help only to those, whose oficial stations give them the means, as they impose the duty, of watching over and promoting the happiness of all.
Such is the general prosperity of our country, resulting from its un. exampled success in almost every branch of industry, and from its pa. cific and friendly relations with the rest of the world, it would be a matter of regret that a murmur of dissatisfaction, arising from real grievances, should be heard from any quarter. It might at- least be supposed, that no speculative differences of sentiment, could make any portion of the citizens of this favored country insensible to the substantial and palpable advantages we all enjoy. This, however, is not the lesson which history or experience teaches us. Neither free dom, nor prosperity, nor both united, bestow'any immunity from the occasional violence of political controversy. . A perpetual warfare of opinions seems to be inseparable from a free government, and is the price we must expect to pay for our almost unrestrained liberty of thought and speech. An effect, which results so naturally from the form and spirit of our institutions, would scarcely be alluded to, weré there not perceptible a more than ordinary disposition, at the present time, to pervert every manifestation of discontent, into a fresh occasion of alarm. The opinions of mankind are so easily influenced by their passions, their prejudices and their interests, that men of the best principles may be expected to divide on all questions of a political character ; but the want of truth and candor, and the asperity of feelings, to which controversy never fails to lead, will always be corrected and restrained by the returning good sense of honest minds, when no extraordinary efforts are used to inflame these differences of sentiment for factious purposes. Opposite views of policy must ever continue to arise out of the mixed and diversified interests embraced in the wide domain of our republic. On a judicious accommodation of conflicting principles, and a just respect for these various interests, depend the harmonious union of the States, and its practical usefulness to the several members of the confederacy.
Our nation had its birth in a magnanimous spirit of compromise ; not a compromise which required, or submitted to, a sacrifice or surrender of the rights of one part for the advantage of the others, but it was accomplished by mutual and reciprocal concessions, and its aim was to guard the weak against the strong, the poor against the rich and powerful, and like our compact of State government, was designed for the common benefit, protection and security of the whole. There can be no fear that the generous spirit which united the fathers of our country, and gave form and strength to our national constitution, will ever cease to be cherished amongst us.
Whatever appearances may,