Pictures and Illustrations.
Biennial Message to Legislature.
Executive Department, Springfield, Ill., Jan. 6, 1806.
Gentlemen of the Senate and House of Representatives:
I submit the following information and recommendations in regard to the condition of the State, and as this message is practically the closing act of the present administration, it may be proper to glance at the policy that has been pursued and the results that have been achieved during the last four years.
In order to avoid inordinate length, I refer, for a full discussion of many of the subjects herein mentioned, to the biennial message submitted to the General Assembly January 9, 1895.
The policy adopted at the beginning of the administration, in the matter of making appointments, when other things were equal, was to give preference to men who were politically in sympathy with this administration, but in all cases, where, by reason of some special fitness or some peculiar condition, it was believed that the State could be best served by the appointment of a Republican, such appointment was promptly made. This applied to superintendents of institutions as well as to boards upon which it was thought best to have both parties represented.
The superintendent of the Deaf and Dumb Asylum at Jacksonville, and the superintendent of the Reformatory at Pontiac, are Republicans. In a number of cases women were appointed to important offices because they were believed to be peculiarly fitted for the duties to be performed, and some Republicans were appointed on most of the important boards of the State, such as the West Park Board, the Lincoln Park Board, the State Board of Health, the State Board of Charities, the State Board of Education, the various boards to locate institutions, etc.
In regard to attendants in State institutions, the rule enforced was to keep every competent man and woman so long as they did their duty.
The following instructions were given to all appointees for their guidance:
First. Do not put a man upon the payroll who is not absolutely needed.
Second. Do not pay higher salaries in an institution than the service or ability which you get would command.
Third. Do not keep a man an hour after it is discovered that he is not
951just the man for the place, no matter who recommended him, or what political influence he may possess.
Fourth. Require vigilance and careful attention of every employe, and promptly discharge any attendant who is guilty of brutality to patients, or who is guilty of any serious neglect of duty, and remember all the time that the institutions were founded and are maintained for the care and comfort of the unfortunate, and not for the comfort of the management.
These instructions have been rigorously insisted upon, and I believe have, in general, been observed.
The new system of purchasing supplies, which was fully described in my last message, has been continued with the same gratifying results. Under it a list is made of the articles that may be needed for a given time. Nearly a dozen copies are made of this list and sent to as many different establishments as deal in the line of goods required, requesting them to send bids and samples of goods. The bids are then opened and the samples inspected in the office of the institution and the purchase made there, the right being reserved to reject any goods that are not satisfactory when they are delivered. Under this system it has been found that the institutions can buy their supplies at from 10 to 20 per cent below the current market rates, and get a better grade of goods than they otherwise could get, and each institution saves, in addition, the salary of an officer who was formerly employed and who was known as the purchasing agent. The salaries of these officers alone amounted to upwards of $25,000.00 a year.
In addition to the financial aspects of the case, there are moral considerations, still more important, for, under the new system, the favoritism, corruption and scandal that are the natural outgrowth of the old system, can be entirely avoided.
The net saving in the charitable institutions alone resulting from improved business methods averages $153,473.94 per year, or $613,895.76 for the four years.
While there has scarcely been any increase in the appropriations for maintaining these charitable institutions the number of their inmates has increased more than fifteen hundred. Not only has this increased number been cared for without producing a deficit, but two years ago there was $233,482.00 turned back into the State Treasury, and $126,000.00 has just been covered back into the treasury by the following institutions: Central Insane Asylum, $43,000.00; Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, $9,000.00; Institution for the Blind at Jacksonville, $12,000.00; Southern Insane Asylum, $25,000.00, and Soldiers' and Sailors' Home, $35,000.00. The buildings have been overhauled so far as possible and are in good condition.
Soon after taking charge of the Institutions the superintendent of each was instructed to make an investigation of the methods, the theories in vogue and the results of the experiments in similar institutions to his own, both in this country and in Europe, and see wherein such institutions differed from ours, and if anything was found anywhere that was thought to be an improvement upon the methods pursued here, to at once adopt it if possible, and also to submit a full report of such investigation to the governor. These reports
952have heretofore been submitted. Some of them are very able. While there are institutions elsewhere that maintain a more showy executive department for the officers, I am satisfied that so far as relates to care and comfort of the patients and general methods of treatment, the institutions of this State, taken as a whole, are unsurpassed anywhere in the world. The total number of inmates in all of our institutions is 8,948.
Owing to the severe business depression great difficulty has been experienced in all of the States in managing the prisons because of the difficulty of finding a market for the product of prison labor. In those States in which the contract system still prevails prisoners were offered at prices that were far below the cost of keeping them, but found no takers. The system of contracting out the labor of convicts having been abolished by our Constitution, the State was practically forced to work the prisoners on its account as soon as the contracts which had been formerly made expired. A large number of these contracts expired just before the beginning of the present administration, but some did not expire until October, 1894. Formerly as high as from two hundred and fifty to four hundred prisoners worked at one trade, and that with machinery, so that the output was enormously large and seriously affected the market in those lines. In order to reduce the competition to the minimum, the policy adopted by this administration was to introduce more trades, so as to reduce the number of convicts working in each to about one hundred if possible, and also whenever practicable to do so to dispense with machinery, and work by hand, the health of the prisoners making it necessary that they should work, and the law requiring them to earn something toward their support.
Under this system the industries have been greatly diversified and the total output for the prison is much reduced from what it formerly was. When the contract system was most prosperous and prisoners were let at high prices the prison at Joliet was self-sustaining, but before the beginning of this administration this ceased to be the case and the reports of the then outgoing commissioners, spread upon the records of the institution, showed that during the four months immediately preceding the date when the present board of commissioners took charge, that institution was running behind at the rate of $7,542.00 per month, or about $90,000.00 per year, due largely, it was claimed, "to the expiration of high priced contracts for convicts." The State account system has now been established there and, notwithstanding the hard times and the fact that all industrial establishments are having trouble, the prison at Joliet has been brought to a point where it is absolutely self-sustaining under the new system. The report of the commissioners herewith submitted shows that the deficit for the last two years was only $6,387, and they are convinced that even if times should remain as they are there will be no deficit whatever for the future, and that the penitentiary requires no appropriations of any kind or character, and asks no money whatever at your hands. Not only this, but there is a balance of $50,000 on the old appropriation that has not been drawn and that can lapse into the treasury. The success of the State account system has been established, and it may be remarked generally on this subject that contractors never go into a penitentiary for the purpose of losing money. Whenever times are good so that they make money,
953then the State would make money if it were running the institution on State account, and whenever times get so that the contractors would lose money in the institution they would manage in one way or another to get out and throw the loss upon the State anyhow.
The prison at Joliet was for many years occupied by contractors. Naturally they made no improvements that they were not obliged to make, and when they moved out there was not a shop or a building used by them that was fit for further occupancy, and most of them had to be practically rebuilt. The State at that time had scarcely any means for lighting and heating, and absolutely no power plant of any kind, although the commissioners had nearly fourteen hundred men on hand whom they were obliged to work. At that time the hospital was in the end of an old shop, utterly unsuited for the purpose, and patients suffering from all kinds of diseases were crowded together; and there was no female prison, the female prisoners being kept on the upper story of the main building, owing to the fact that the other buildings were crowded, so that it became almost impossible to let them out where they could get fresh air. All of these things together made large appropriations necessary. The commissioners built some new shops, they built a large heating, lighting and power house, and have one of the best plants of that character now that there is in the country. They built a large hospital, thoroughly modern, and they have just finished a prison for females which is believed to be the most modern and best arranged and best equipped prison for females in the world, and the whole institution taken together is superior to any penitentiary upon this continent.
This prison has never been self-sustaining. Under the contract system the annual deficit had, for many years, been $100,000. The same difficulties were encountered there in introducing the State account system that were met with at Joliet, except that the number of prisoners was not so large. Two years ago the commissioners believed that owing to improved business methods and economies which they had introduced, they could reduce the annual deficit to $50,000, and accordingly the last legislature appropriated only that sum to meet the deficit, but owing to the difficulty of disposing of their goods, the low prices prevailing, and an increase of several hundred prisoners above the number contemplated by the appropriations, the commissioners find that the actual deficit for the year will be about $75,000 instead of $50,000, as they had hoped. Consequently an immediate appropriation will be necessary. The physical condition of the prison is excellent.
The law never provided that prisoners should wear stripes: the punishment which the law provided for its infraction being imprisonment and hard labor. Putting stripes upon prisoners originated in those conditions and in those times when convicts were turned over to the care of men who for all practical purposes were brutes, and who soon succeeded in reducing everything to the level of the brute.
The effect of putting stripes on convicts has been found to be this: That it does not affect those already hardened except to make them a little more desperate, nor does it affect those who are by nature dull and brutish except to lower them a little, but it tends to crush whatever spark of self-respect and manhood there may be left in a higher grade of prisoners, and in that way tends to still further unfit them for an honorable struggle in life, and an irreparable injury is thus done to society as well as to the convict, which was not contemplated by law.
Acting upon these principles, the commissioners of the prison at Joliet, on the first of July last, clothed the prisoners in plain gray suits, and since that time have been using the striped suits only as a means of punishment for an infraction of the prison discipline. The effect of this change upon the spirit, the moral tone and character of the convicts has been so gratifying that I have recommended its adoption in the prison at Chester also.
In a general way the history of prison labor, or rather of the effort to work convicts in this country, may be stated as follows:
First. The leasing out system, whereby the State turned the prisoner over to the lessee and parted with all control over him, a system which still prevails in a few Southern States, and is productive of conditions that are a disgrace to civilization.
Second. The contract system, by which the State contracts the labor of the prisoner at some price per day, but keeps control of the prisoner, a system which, while a great improvement on the leasing system, has yet been found to be destructive of the prisoners and of the best interests of the State, but which in good times enabled many men to make fortunes out of the prisons.
Third. The piece-price system, so closely akin to the contract system that in most cases it has been difficult to distinguish it. Under this the contractor furnishes the material and superintendents and the State does the work, but it has to be done under almost the same conditions that prevail in the contract system, and therefore it is open to most of the objections that apply to that system.
Fourth. The State account system, under which the State alone comes into contact with the prisoner, and no outside money-making agency brings its blighting shadow into the prison. As already stated, this system has been established and is self-sustaining at Joliet, even in these hard times. From a business standpoint it involves some risk to the State, for it is evident that where so many large industries are carried on, there must be ability and thorough integrity, or the chances of incurring heavy losses will be great.
But I believe that the time has come when this State, which is now in many ways the leading State of the Union, must take another step forward in the matter of prison labor. There is a principle involved here which rises above all considerations of small economies, and that principle is that the State ought not in any manner to enter into competition with those who have to make their living by the sweat of their brows, and therefore the prisoners should be taken out of all employment in which they directly affect the wages of free laborers, and I recommend legislation that will bring about this result. Under this system the prisons would not be self-sustaining, but it is not clear that in the long run, it would cost the State much more money
955than it does now. Just what the prisoners should work at under such a system will perhaps be impossible to prescribe by law, and will have to be left largely to the judgment of the warden and commissioners from time to time.
So malicious and persistent an effort has been made to misrepresent the facts and make a false impression upon the public mind in regard to granting of pardons and commutations by this administration that justice requires a statement of the figures as shown by the records. During the four years just closing, the average number of pardons and commutations per year has been 79; the average number, per annum, of convicts in the two penitentiaries during that time has been 2,201; consequently, the pardons and commutations amounted to 3 3-5 per cent. of the convicts in prison; and for the twenty years preceding the beginning of this administration the average number of pardons and commutations per annum was 83 2-3, and the average number of convicts in the penitentiaries per annum during that time was 1,868, so that there were 4 Ë per cent. of the prisoners pardoned or commuted, on the average, each year. In other words, considering the number of convicts in prison, the number of pardons and commutations granted each year on the average for twenty years prior to the beginning of this administration was 25 per cent. greater than has been the number of pardons and commutations granted by this administration. While this administration has been much more conservative in this regard than former administrations, it is not a matter for which it should receive either credit or blame, for the granting of pardons and commutations is somewhat judicial in character and requires the executive to act conscientiously on the merits of each case.
The system of paroling prisoners which was provided for by the last legislature, and which has just been established in our penitentiaries, will, I believe, for the future, relieve the executive of the great labor and responsibility of considering the almost innumerable applications for pardon. If this system is conscientiously carried out it will release and find homes and employment for the young, after they have undergone the minimum punishment required by law, and will, on the other hand, retain in the prison the hardened offenders and those who have shown themselves to be vicious and dangerous.
The Illinois Reformatory at Pontiac now has 1,170 inmates. The aim of the institution is to teach young men steady habits; to teach them industry; to teach them to use their hands as well as their brains, in order to make a living; to give them in a limited way an English education, and a certain degree of moral instruction; and there are now in operation there 10 English schools and 12 workshops or labor schools for that many different industries, and every young man there has to spend a certain number of hours each day in the workshop, and a certain number of hours in the school, besides having performed other tasks. There are only a few large reformatories conducted on this principle in the world, and we believe the one at Pontiac stands at the head.
During the last four years there have been founded by the State two new Normal Universities, one at Charleston, in the eastern part of the State, and one at De Kalb, in the northwestern part of the State; also two new insane asylums, one at Peoria and the other at Rock Island; also a girl's reformatory at Geneva, near Chicago, and a home for soldiers' widows at Wilmington, and in addition to these there have been erected the following buildings:
At the University of Illinois at Champaign: A large civil and electrical engineering building, an astronomical observatory, a large library building, now nearing completion, a large mechanical workshop for the students, a President's house, the necessary buildings for the establishment of a vaccine farm, and the necessary buildings for a complete dairy establishment for purposes of instruction. In addition the chemical laboratory building, which was partially destroyed by fire, has been rebuilt.
At the Normal University near Bloomington: A library and gymnasium building.
At the Normal University at Carbondale: A library and gymnasium building.
The main Insane Asylum at Anna, which was destroyed by fire, has been rebuilt.
The Eye and Ear Infirmary at Chicago has been greatly enlarged.
At the Joliet Penitentiary: Some shops, power house, a new hospital and a large new prison for females.
At the Soldiers' Orphans' Home near Bloomington: A new building for manual training.
At the Elgin Insane Asylum: A new hospital for the physically ill, and extensive general repairs.
At the Reformatory at Pontiac: A large cell house, a number of shops, power house and a large executive building.
At the Lincoln Monument, Springfield: New home for the custodian.
At the State Fair Grounds, Springfield: Three very large and a number of small buildings.
At the Institution for the Blind at Jacksonville: A workshop and also a gymnasium.
At the Deaf and Dumb Institution at Jacksonville: A boys' cottage and general repairs.
At the Soldiers' and Sailors' Home at Quincy: A new hospital.
The Asylum for Insane Criminals at Chester has been greatly enlarged.
At the Penitentiary at Chester: A number of small buildings.
All of these buildings are under roof and nearly all of them are completed and occupied, and those which have been built during the last two years have, with the exception of a couple of small buildings, been built absolutely fireproof and nearly all of them have been built of stone. In order to give a better idea of the general character of the buildings that have been erected within the last four years, I submit herewith photographic views of some of them.
There has also been erected during the last four years a monument to Governor Ford, at Peoria, upwards of sixty granite monuments on the battlefield at Chickamauga in Tennessee, to mark the positions of the Illinois troops in that great battle, and a splendid granite monument to the memory of Elijah P. Lovejoy at Alton.
Owing to the rapid growth of our population and the great demand for room in public institutions, but little consideration was given to the subject of architectural design in public buildings, in the past, the principle effort being in each case to get as much floor space as possible. Consequently, while the State has a large number of buildings, there are but few whose exterior architecture is commanding or impressive. The appropriations made during the present administration were so small as not to admit of ornamentation; but it was felt that the time had come when we should not only build fireproof buildings, but give a little more attention to their external appearance. After an examination of the subject I became satisfied that the most inexpensive, as well as the most impressive architectural style for buildings that are to stand alone in a grove, or in a field, is what has been called the Tudor-Gothic style, as the effect is produced by simply carrying the mason work, that is the wall, above the cornice line, and there breaking the lines in such a way as to produce small towers, battlements, etc. This style has consequently been adopted in most of the buildings that have been erected during the last two years, and is found to be very effective. Had we possessed large appropriations so that Grecian columns, Roman arches, and other forms of ornamentation could have been indulged in, it is probable that some other style of architecture would have been selected; but for the money which the State has expended it would have been impossible to get the same desirable effects in any other style.
In addition to the usual legislation and to numerous amendments to the laws intended to correct abuses, there have been a number of measures placed upon the statute books, some of which were entirely new in this State. Among the latter may be mentioned the following:
An act providing that no man shall be imprisoned for non-payment of a judgment or fine unless he has been granted the opportunity of being tried by a jury.
Second. An act which requires State, county, city and school treasurers, and all other custodians of public funds, to account for interest on such funds whenever they are kept in a bank.
Third. An act intended to arrest the sweat shop and child labor evil which provides for inspection of factories, workshops, etc., and aims to prevent the employment of young children in factories, etc.
Fourth. A civil service law for cities.
Fifth. An act to reform the method of land conveyancing in this State, introducing an entirely new system known as the Australian system and intended
958to do away with the vast expense that now accompanies the transfer of land titles in large cities.
Sixth. An act to provide for paroling prisoners from the penitentiaries, intended to do away with the gross inequality of sentences which have heretofore prevailed for the same offenses, and to make it practicable to keep professional and hardened criminals in the penitentiary for long terms and to release the young and those who are comparatively innocent, after serving a minimum term in prison.
Seventh. An act which provided that a graduated tax shall be paid on all legacies and inheritances.
Eighth. An act to provide for founding a pension fund for school teachers in certain cases by a small deduction from their salaries.
Ninth. An act creating a board of arbitration for the purpose of adjusting disputes between employers and employes in certain cases.
Tenth. An act for making the kindergarten system a part of our public schools under certain conditions.
The insurance department of this State now stands at the head of all similar departments in this country, and it is believed that our people are better protected against the operations of dishonest and worthless insurance companies than those of any other State. Formerly this department contributed scarcely anything to the State treasury from the large amount of fees which it collected. During this administration the sum annually turned into the treasury by the insurance department is very large, and for the year 1896 will amount to over $170,000, which is the result of a strict enforcement of the law.
It is gratifying to report that during the last four years the cause of education has made tremendous strides in our State, both in public and in private institutions. Our public schools are being steadily brought up to a higher plane than they ever occupied before. Appreciating the fact that it is the teacher who makes the school, and that it is consequently the duty, as well as to the interest of the State, to look after the education of teachers, the facilities in the existing Normal Universities have been enlarged and improved, and two new ones have been founded. The University of Illinois, located at Champaign, has moved forward and taken a position as one of the best institutions of the country. In the matter of civil and electrical engineering it is unsurpassed anywhere. Its work in other departments is of a high order and it now offers many advantages to both young men and young women that are not to be found anywhere else. The institution needs a large gymnasium. Inasmuch as Illinois now leads nearly all the States of the Union in the matter of enterprise and material prosperity, her educational institutions should be so perfected as to be models for the world.
During the last twenty-five years humane and thoughtful men and women have given their best efforts to the subject of caring for the dependents and unfortunates, and as a result splendid theories have been worked out and
959have been in part put in practice; but experience has shown that it is one thing to work out a theory and to apply it on a limited scale, but a more difficult thing to see that it is generally applied, and while we have provided complete machinery for looking after matters in the aggregate, we did not get down near enough to the source of the trouble. In other words, our jails and poorhouses and our street children were neglected. It was necessary to have a better oversight of these matters, to get more sunlight in on them. Accordingly, the General Assembly authorized the appointment in each county of three persons who were to be known as auxiliary boards of charity, and they were to work in conjunction with the State Board of Charities. They were to serve without pay, but were given full powers to visit and examine jails, poorhouses, etc., at pleasure. These auxiliary boards have done excellent service. Their chief efforts are devoted to getting children out of the poorhouses and out of the jails, and in a general way to have the conditions for other unfortunates made as comfortable as possible.
During the last two years our National Guard has performed exercises and maneuvers never before witnessed in this State, and I deem it sufficient to say that while there are larger military establishments, there is not a better one on this continent than is possessed by Illinois.
The freight classification had scarcely been changed for twenty years by the Railroad and Warehouse Commission of this State and had become complicated, and in many respects worked an injustice, and the merchants and manufacturers of Chicago found that it was almost impossible for them to do business in central and western Illinois because of the fact that the railroads entering the State from the East had adopted a classification which made freight rates from Cleveland and Cincinnati to that section of the State much lower than they were from Chicago. To overcome this difficulty the Railroad and Warehouse Commission performed the almost herculean task of making an entirely new freight classification, bringing our State more nearly in harmony with the States east of us, and they have thus made it possible for the merchants and manufacturers of Chicago to again compete in territory from which they were formerly almost excluded.
Prior to the beginning of this administration this canal did not turn anything into the State treasury. The principle business on the canal was carrying stone to Chicago from the quarries at Joliet and Lemont, and owing to the hard times and the falling off in building operations the business of the canal was necessarily greatly reduced, yet it has turned into the State treasury $50,000 and besides has built over half a mile of new docks, and made other extensive improvements.
Although the matter of connecting the West Park system with the Lincoln Park system and the South Park system had been discussed for more than
960twenty years, practically nothing was done toward bringing this about. The present West Park Board undertook the task of making the connection, and although it involved the laying out of new streets and the building of a bridge over the river in the northwestern part of the city, in order to connect with Lincoln Park, that connection has been made. To the southwest it is necessary to build several bridges and cross a number of railroads, and also to build several miles of boulevard to connect with the South Park system, and that work is now being done, and it is believed that by the beginning of summer the connection will be complete, so that the three great park systems of Chicago will have a direct boulevard connection around the outer edge of the city.
In addition to this the West Park Board has endeavored to make the park of the greatest possible use to all classes of citizens. It has built many miles of boulevard for the accommodation of those who drive, has built a large natatorium and gymnasium in Douglas Park for the accommodation of the public, and a bicycle race track in Garfield Park. This, in connection with the other attractions to be found there, make the West Park a perfect system for the purpose of furnishing pleasure and amusements to all classes of people.
Owing to its advantageous location and high state of improvement this park is considered the finest on the continent. The present commissioners have put in an entirely new system of lighting, and have greatly improved the park in other respects. It was felt that this park should be extended to Evanston, and could be so extended without great expense to the public by taking the proper steps in time. The waters in Lake Michigan are shallow for about twelve hundred feet out from the shore, and by building a breakwater and a driveway out that far from the shore and parallel with it, from Chicago to Evanston, it would enclose the shallow waters lying between that and the shore, which could be filled by degrees, leaving an open channel, so that there would then be a driveway out in the water, an open channel west of it, and a strip of park the entire way; and almost the only expense involved in this would be the building of a breakwater and driveway, for in this way the land would cost nothing and the riparian rights of the shore-owners would cost very little, as many of them have offered to deed their riparian rights if the improvement was made. Legislation authorizing this move was secured in the spring of 1893, but was afterwards found to contain some defects, and at the last session of the General Assembly another act was passed to authorize this improvement, and great efforts have been made by the park board, as well as by the executive, to carry it out. A plat has been filed in pursuance of the act which will vest the title to the submerged land in the public for the use of a park, but so much captious opposition was encountered from people who had little selfish ends to serve that the work could not be started, but it is believed that this opposition can all be overcome and that the next administration will be able to secure to the people of Chicago this addition to its park and boulevard system.
For a number of years the conviction has been deepening in the minds of patriotic and intelligent men, that some more enlightened and just method
961of settling labor disputes should be found than a mere resort to brute force, which in the form of strikes and lock-outs frequently disturb the peace of society, destroy property and do great injury to non-combatants who are dependent upon the regular operation of the industries involved. The conviction has grown that these disputes, like all other disputes between citizens of a civilized community, should in some way be decided by an impartial tribunal, representing at least in some degree the State. Apparently insurmountable difficulties are in the way of universal compulsory arbitration of these troubles, but experience in other States has demonstrated that a board of arbitration, with somewhat limited powers, could adjust many difficulties, and has been of great service to the public. During the closing hours of the special session of the legislature in the summer of 1895, an act was passed to create a board of arbitration for this State, but the measure was opposed by some strong interests, and the board was so limited in its powers as to almost entirely destroy it. Yet during the seventeen months that have elapsed since the board has been created, it has acted as a mediator in 41 cases, each of which involved more or less serious differences between employer and employe. In 38 out of these 41 cases a satisfactory adjustment was effected and farther trouble avoided. In the other three cases the employers haughtily refused to take any notice of the board or its friendly efforts. In addition to these 41 cases, the board arbitrated two cases which were submitted under the law, and its decision was accepted by both parties and ended the trouble, and I recommend such farther reasonable legislation upon this question as will enable this board to properly perform the functions for which it was created, and increase its usefulness. The results of its labors as above given are most gratifying, and show the wisdom of its creation. In the 40 controversies successfully adjusted by the board, there were involved as employes 5,780 persons, whose daily wages amounted to $9,537.
The principle of self-protection and self-preservation requires this State to adopt some reasonable legislation for the purpose of guarding against the evils of landlordism. In the past, land was plentiful and no notice was taken of this system, but now its evils are daily becoming more apparent. There are sections of the State where whole townships, and in some cases nearly half a county, are owned by one individual and are occupied by tenants who feel no interest in the soil and have no inducement to make improvements. The landlord, on his side, has no interest in our institutions or State except to get money out of it, and as improvements would increase the taxes to be paid, neither landlord nor tenant will make them, and the result is that some of the best sections of the State are arrested in their development and must fall behind in civilization. The American republic has depended largely upon the intelligent and patriotic yeomanry of the land, who, as a rule, owned the soil they cultivated. There seems to be a tendency now to wipe this out, to allow the land to pass into the hands of men who live in cities and feel no interest in it except to get money out of it, and as population and the consequent demand for land increase, the condition of the tenant will be constantly, lowered and in time this must produce a lower class of citizenship that will in no way be equal to the independent farmers that have been the boast of our country. It is far better for the State that the farmer should own his own land
962even though he be in debt for it, than that he should feel no interest in the soil and see all of his earnings go to the landlord.
I do not venture to make any suggestions as to the best method of dealing with the subject, farther than to say that nothing should be done that would impair the value of the lands in the hands of the present owners, but some reasonable time in the future should be named after which every individual will be limited in the quantity of land which he may own in this State.
I repeat with emphasis what I said in a former message on this subject: "The condition of business in the courts of Chicago almost amounts to a denial of justice. It takes years to get a case finally settled by the courts, while the expense, annoyance and loss of time involved in watching it are so great that the poor cannot stand it and the business men cannot afford it. Litigants are worn out and the subject matter of dispute often becomes useless before the courts get done with it. This is not the fault of the judges, but of the system, which, in its practical workings, often discourages the honest man and encourages the dishonest one, for it enables him to wear out the former.
"Urged by the bar, the number of judges was greatly increased by the last General Assembly, but the conditions are almost the same. We now have twenty-eight judges in Cook county alone, while there are only thirty-four in England, Ireland and Wales. In England, most cases are disposed of at once. The dishonest man does not find it to his interest to go into the courts there, while we, with our system of distinctions and delays, almost offer him a premium to do so.
"We borrowed our system of jurisprudence from England more than a century ago, when it was loaded down with absurd distinctions and formalities. We have clung tenaciously to its faults, while England long ago brushed them aside. Three-quarters of a century ago that country began to reform its judicial procedure by wiping out all useless distinctions and formalities and making all procedure simple, and disposing of each case promptly on its merits, and their appellate courts now revise cases only when it is shown that an actual injustice has been done, and not simply because some rule or useless formality has been disregarded. As regards the administration of justice, we are to-day three-quarters of a century behind that country from which we borrowed our system. We may be great in politics but do not yet lead the way in statesmanship. The whole system should be revised and simplified so that it will give our people more prompt and speedy justice and less fine spun law.
"I must again call attention to the conditions surrounding the police and justice courts of Chicago. They are a disgrace, and we will not rise to the demands of the occasion if we do not devise some remedy for these evils. I also again call attention to the subject of permitting any officer connected with the administration of justice to keep fees. This is the very foundation upon which the whole structure of fraud, extortions and oppression rests.
963No man's bread should depend upon the amount of business he can ‘drum up’ around a so-called court of justice."
At present the practice prevails in Chicago of making raids in the evening and running in from fifty to one hundred women and a few men at a time on no particular charge. Then the justice gets a dollar from each for taking a bond, thus making from fifty to one hundred dollars a night, and a lot of cormorants known as special bailors and other hangers-on make four or five hundred dollars if it can be wrung from the miserable creatures. In many instances certain police officers are believed to share in the plunder. In this way the machinery of the law is used to gather a harvest off of vice, and the people arrested are simply forced into deeper degradation; whatever self-respect they have left is broken. Not only should the whole fee system be abolished, but the law should not require any person to give bond before conviction except in cases where the charge is a serious one.
Owing to the fact that it required nearly $600,000 to pay the expenses of the National Guard during the riots of 1894 and to rebuild the Anna Insane Asylum, which burned down, both being matters which were unforeseen and for which, therefore, no taxes had previously been levied, the funds in the treasury ran short last winter, and some of the institutions had to make temporary arrangements for money, but all bills have been paid and several hundred thousand dollars which had been appropriated for the purpose of erecting buildings and which were to come out of the taxes to be collected next year, have been advanced because the State was needing the buildings, and, owing to the low price of material and labor it was better for the State to build at once than to wait, and there are now over $300,000 in the treasury, and as soon as the taxes are collected there will again be a surplus.
The tax levy had to be increased for two reasons. One was the extra expenditure already named, and the other was the remarkable fact that the assessments of property in this State are constantly growing smaller. For example, the total assessed value of property in this State for the year 1896 is $16,508,847 less than it was for the year 1895, and is less than it has been since 1890.
Every governor for more than twelve years has urged a revision of our revenue laws and pronounced the existing system a gigantic fraud. The facts have been so frequently stated that it seems almost a mockery to repeat them, and yet nothing has been done. Great concentrations of wealth and unscrupulous individuals possessed of large fortunes in many cases contribute nothing to the support of the government, while men of moderate means and those men of large means who refuse to resort to corrupt methods, are obliged to bear burdens that belong to others. It is no longer a secret that the machinery of the whole system, especially as it applies to large cities, and to the assessment of some corporations is thoroughly corrupt and should be wiped out. Corporations in this respect fare like individuals; those corporations whose officers refuse to resort to dishonest methods and who endeavor to meet all questions openly and fairly, are loaded with unjust burdens, while other corporations contribute little or nothing, and frequently it is found that the men who resort to dishonorable means in these matters are the ones who
964have the most to say about patriotism. There has been so much agitation recently upon this question that it is probable that those interests which have heretofore labored to prevent any revision of the revenue law will now change their tactics, and will attempt themselves to shape the revision, so that while the public demand for a new revenue law will be for the time met, still it will be found that in the end matters have not been much improved. Real estate is usually found by the assessor and where no corrupt methods are resorted to there will, as a rule, be no inequality in assessments. So far as real estate is concerned, especially in large cities, the chief difficulty to be overcome is to stop the operation of the corrupt "go-betweens," who go to rich men and their agents and offer to save from five to twenty thousand dollars in the taxes of one year in consideration of cash payment, and who, on the promise of such cash payment manage to get the assessments reduced. But in regard to personal property an entirely new system from that now existing must be adopted. Each individual must be compelled to furnish a statement of what he has subject to taxation. The present system of allowing the assessor to guess at what the individual has when no report is made results in no assessment at all. Under it the very rich make no returns and consequently escape with little or no taxation. If every man were required to himself sign a written statement and return it to the assessor showing what he had, and in the event of his failure to do so he were cited to go before some court to make such schedule, and the court were required to double the assessment as a penalty, it would add millions to the taxable property of the State, and thus reduce the burdens of those men and corporations that now are trying to honestly pay their taxes.
Corporations are assessed chiefly by the State Board of Equalization, and here the greatest inequality has arisen. Most of the corporations of the State, doing a legitimate business, pay their full share of taxes, and in some cases perhaps more, while other very large concerns pay almost nothing. A sleeping car company, whose office and headquarters are at Chicago, and which has over $60,000,000 worth of property — whose stock sells in the market at figures which aggregate that sum — which annually earns dividends that amount to a high rate of interest on that sum, and which, by reason of the fact that it is located in Chicago should, under the law, pay taxes there on all its personal property, especially on such as is not assessed elsewhere — is assessed in our State at only $1,561,955. Correspondence with the officials of all the other States in this country, and of Canada, shows that all the taxes that it pays on this continent, Illinois included, do not amount to a fair rate of taxation on $20,000,000 and that consequently it has over $40,000,000 that should be taxed in Chicago, upon which it does not pay a cent. As a rule, other property is assessed at from one-fourth to one-fifth of its market value. If this corporation were assessed in proportion, its additional assessment would amount to in the neighborhood of $8,000,000, and its annual taxes on this sum in Chicago would be considerably over a half a million of dollars. This money, although in a sense belonging to the public, is pocketed by the owners of that corporation. Two years ago it cost the State a large sum of money to guard the property of this corporation, yet, when it comes to bearing the burdens of the government, it manages to shift them on the shoulders of others.
Experience has shown that division of responsibility in public bodies is productive of corruption and unjust measures; that when the public can put its finger upon the individual and hold him responsible, he will be more careful and circumspect in his actions and will make more effort to keep up, at least, a semblance of fairness, than he will if there are a large number of others to share the responsibility with him. It rarely happens that the mayor of a city is charged with corruption, while the charge against city councils is very common. These considerations, taken in connection with the experience of this State, as well as other States, show that a board of equalization, composed of twenty-two members, as ours is now, for the purpose of assessing corporations, will never be useful or satisfactory, and is almost certain to continue to be the constant subject of scandal and its work to be tainted with the greatest injustice.
The great bulk of the real estate of Illinois, when measured by value, is in Cook county, and owing to the numerous transfers that have taken place there and the complications in the title to many large tracts of land which have since been subdivided into lots, conditions have arisen which make the transfer of even the smallest piece of real estate a very expensive proceeding. In the first place an abstract must be furnished, showing the chain of title down from the government. This in some instances costs hundreds and even thousands of dollars, and in those cases where it is possible to get copies of old abstracts it is still necessary to have a continuation made every time there is a transfer, and no matter how frequently a title may have been examined and pronounced good, it is at present necessary to have it reexamined every time there is a transfer. The result of this is the imposition of burdens which bear very hard upon the owners of small properties, and these burdens are daily becoming more onerous. They have to be met not only at every sale, but every time it is sought to get even a small loan on a house and lot. The last General Assembly endeavored to remedy this evil by providing for a new system of land transfer in which it would be unnecessary to trace the title back to the government every time that it was sought to make a loan or a sale of a small piece of land. The system adopted was one which has for years been in use in many countries of the world and has worked admirably. The Supreme Court recently nullified this law by holding that it was unconstitutional. The subject therefore calls for further attention at your hands. The burdens complained of attach not only to most of the real estate in Illinois, but they affect more than half the people of the State, and as they arise out of a primitive and antiquated system which is thoroughly inadequate to modern needs, it is the business of the government to provide a new method that shall relieve the people from this heavy expenditure of money for which they get absolutely nothing in return.
Illinois is now one of the largest mining States in the world, owing to its limitless deposits of coal. It is also one of the greatest manufacturing States in the world. Therefore we are vitally interested in the conditions
966affecting these two industries, especially in so far as they affect not only the prosperity of our people, but affect the physical and mental development, and consequently the standard of citizenship, among those engaged in them.
Mining is a peculiar industry, and is attended with a greater degree of danger than exists in most other industries, and as the miners are to a great degree isolated from the rest of the community and as a rule are not so able to represent their interests as other elements of society are, there is a constant tendency toward conditions which bear hard on the miner and prevent him from keeping his family on the same plane of advantage with other members of the community, and which ultimately affect the intelligence and the standard of citizenship of the mining population. Consequently it has been found necessary in all countries for the government to throw its protection around the miner, both for the purpose of preventing his being unjustly dealt with and also for the purpose of elevating his standard of citizenship. Nearly a century ago England found that the conditions in her mines were so lowering the moral, physical and intellectual condition of her people as to make them unfit for military and naval service, and make them unfit to maintain the dignity and the greatness of the British Empire, and she began a system of mining legislation which has been extended and improved from time to time and has been adopted by nearly all of the civilized countries, and similar legislation has been enacted in all of the older States of the Union. This legislation is based on the ground, not simply of humanity and justice, but that it is the duty of the State to take every necessary step for its own preservation. This legislation, of necessity, affects in a greater or less degree the relations between the miner and the employer and is intended to prevent his being cheated in weighing and being cheated in the screening of the coal, from his being forced to buy the necessaries of life at what are called truck or "pluck me" stores, maintained by the employers, etc.
Following the line of legislation which had been adopted by and was in force in the older States of the Union, this State has, during the last fifteen years, passed a number of laws for the protection of the miner. Several acts have been passed to regulate the weighing of coal at the mines. In May, 1891, an act was passed to put an end to the truck store system, so that miners should no longer be obliged to accept their wages in the goods of the so-called "pluck me" stores of their employers. About the same time a law was passed requiring miners to be paid their wages weekly; but all of these laws were nullified by the Supreme Court, on the ground that they conflicted with some provision of the Constitution.
With the invention of machinery came great factories and great concentrations of population, and as in many cases physical strength was not necessary to attend a machine, factories were soon filled with women and with children, because they would work for less wages than had to be paid to men. These women and children stood on their feet and worked long hours, and the result was that in time the factory population was found to be stunted and weak, physically and intellectually, so that a parliamentary investigation, more than fifty years ago, discovered the fact that as a rule the young men in factory communities were utterly unfit for military service, most of the children born of women who worked in the factories were weak and rarely developed into
967healthy manhood and womanhood, and that the boys and girls employed in the factories soon grew old, became physically and intellectually stunted and morally weak. It was also found that by reason of machinery not being properly guarded, and matters of ventilation and sanitation not being carefully looked after, operatives in factories were being constantly maimed for life, and becoming charges upon the community, and their health was being undermined because of bad sanitary conditions. The committee reported to Parliament that unless these conditions could in some way be arrested, the tendency would be to endanger if not destroy the perpetuity of the empire, because there would be produced an interior race of people who could not maintain themselves either intellectually, commercially or martially in the fierce competition with the rest of the world. Out of this parliamentary investigation there grew in the end a system of factory legislation which has been greatly improved and expanded, and adopted by all the civilized countries of the old world, and by nearly all of the older States of this country. It may be of interest to note that both the mining and the factory legislation was opposed by the wealthy classes of England, and for a third of a century met with the opposition of the influential classes who were deriving a benefit from the evils aimed at. But the statesmen of England persisted and ultimately triumphed, and some of the great men of England to-day regard her achievements in mining and factory legislation as among the most important things she has done, not only for her own prosperity and perpetuity, but for the world.
Several years ago it was found that the conditions which once existed in England were rapidly growing up in our State. Shops and factories were full of children and women who slaved long hours and received but a pittance. In many cases dangerous machinery was not properly guarded, and the sanitary conditions were indescribably bad.
To remedy these evils, an act was passed in 1893, which was far less stringent and less comprehensive than laws which were already in force in some of the older States, and which had been held constitutional there. The act was limited to factories and shops.
Under this law the abuses of child labor in the factories of our State were greatly reduced and an attempt was made to enforce the provisions of the law which forbade the employment of women for more than eight hours a day in shops and factories. But the interests which were coining the lives of women and children into dollars and which wanted to escape the paying of the wages of men were powerful. They combined to resist its enforcement, and the Supreme Court has held a portion of the law to be unconstitutional, and the decision leaves the whole of the act in such a condition as makes it difficult to enforce any of its provisions, and including those not employed in factories, there are in Chicago alone over fifteen thousand children working long hours daily, many of them becoming stunted physically and intellectually and weakened morally, and what is known as the "sweat shop" evil is spreading at an alarming rate. Other countries have found it necessary to protect themselves against conditions which tend to lower the vitality and the physical and intellectual development of their citizens, and our State must do the same. The Constitution was not intended to be an insurmountable barrier to all corrective legislation. Whether a law is or is not constitutional is nearly always a matter of construction and depends upon the
968point of view from which the subject is considered, sometimes depending largely on the bias or learning of the judge.
While the decisions of the Supreme Court are conclusive and final in the cases in which they were rendered, they do not become a rule of political action. They do not deprive the people of the power to regulate their affairs, nor can they in any way prevent farther efforts to cure the evils that were aimed at. In his first inaugural message President Lincoln, in speaking of the Supreme Court of the United States, said; "The candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the government upon vital questions affecting the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by the decisions of the Supreme Court the instant they are made, as in ordinary decisions between parties in personal actions, the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically released their government into the hands of that eminent tribunal." On various other occasions Mr. Lincoln declared in public that the decisions of the Supreme Court on constitutional questions, while entitled to respect and while conclusive upon the individuals involved in the litigation before them, did not constitute a rule of action politically and did not deprive the people in any way of their power of self-government, and did not prevent the people from proceeding in an orderly manner to bring about in the end the establishment of a principle different from what the Supreme Court had enunciated. Neither the executive, the legislative nor the judicial branches of the government, nor in fact all combined, have the power to foreclose the people on a question of government, nor to prevent the people from in the end enforcing such policy as they deem proper.
I am aware that there are people who will urge that this is a criticism of the courts, but nothing of the kind is intended. I have simply stated historical facts, and have endeavored to make clear the fundamental principle which the Legislature must always keep in view when dealing with great problems. So far as the question of criticising is concerned, the Constitution has divided the government into three departments, and each of these departments is alike subject to criticism. It may be said that the life of a republic depends upon the intelligent scrutiny and criticism which the people give to all branches of the government. It has been urged by some of the greatest men of our country that inasmuch as judges are human and possess the same prejudices, passions and weaknesses that other men do, and inasmuch as the public can impose its will more easily upon the executive and legislative offices because their terms are shorter, that therefore there was all the greater need of thorough examination and free criticism on the part of the public of the acts of the judiciary. While the public has this right to the fullest extent, there is a question of propriety involved in one department of government indulging in mere criticism of the other, but there is no rule of propriety which prevents either branch of the government from stating historical facts or pointing out difficulties which must be met by all; in fact the judicial branch has at various times criticised the acts of the legislative branch of government with the greatest freedom.
While I have thus stated the general principle, I believe that no serious difficulty will be encountered in enacting all necessary legislation without
969coming into conflict with either the Constitution or the decisions of the Supreme Court.
The Legislature owes it to the people of this State to devise some reasonable protection against the outrageous newspaper license on the part of great journals, of which the people are now victims. Newspaper abuse terrorizes the people and deters many of our best citizens from taking part in public affairs. Men have a right to look to government for protection, for a government is unworthy of respect that simply imposes burdens on its people and then leaves their lives or their reputations at the mercy of those who shoot from ambush. No measure can be considered which will in any way interfere with the fullest publication of the news, or with full comment on current events, and there must be reasonable allowance for mistakes honestly made. What should be aimed at is to do away with the anonymous and dark alley features of modern newspaperism. This is where cowards roost and where sneaks take refuge. As yet there are but few great journals in the United States that meet the definition of a newspaper. Many of them are personal and partisan organs often used maliciously, and instead of publishing the news fairly they make it their daily business to garble and misstate it. This in itself is perhaps not a proper subject for legislators, but when men, who are ashamed to give their names, hide behind a newspaper hedge and throw mud at people who are walking on the highway, then the public has a right to complain, and has a right to insist that this be stopped, or, if it is impossible to stop it, that then it should be known to the world who are the offenders.
It has been urged that this species ot journalism brings its own punishment; that anonymous abuse reacts on the author and weakens his character and destroys his manhood; that early in our history when every newspaper writer had to face his fellow men and be personally responsible for his utterances, the profession produced some of the greatest men in the land who exerted a powerful personal influence on the nation, while since anonymous writing has become the rule on great journals the profession seems to be blighted; that all are reduced to the same level and are swallowed.
Even if this were so, it does not justify continued license. It has also been urged that public good is promoted by anonymity. It may be a strange coincidence, but the marauding white-caps in neighboring States have likewise defended their cowardly operations on the ground of public good.
There is a principle involved here, and that is, that no man can be permitted to set himself up as a public censor and proceed to wrong those whom, for many reasons, he does not like. The mere fact that a man is able to buy presses and hire a lot of men who must do his will, does not give him any more rights than are possessed by other people. The existing statute is comprehensive in defining libel, but it can only be enforced through a prosecution or a law suit which will last years, and not only subject the individual to additional notoriety, but will wear him out; so that for the average citizen there is no protection whatever against newspaper abuse.
Two years ago an act was passed which provided that when, in cases of libel, it is sought to punish an editor, in addition to making him pay damage, that then he should be permitted to show the facts in the case. This principle is correct, for when a man is to be punished he should be permitted to show
970all the facts connected with the act for which he is to be punished; but the trouble with all existing legislation is that an individual is worn out with delay and expense before a case reaches the point where sentence is to be imposed.
It is doubtful whether the possibility of collecting damages furnishes any practical protection to the public. In my judgment the public would be much better off if there were no provisions for ultimately getting damages, except in rare cases, provided the authorship of every abusive article were at once known, for in that case the article would receive such credence from the public as the character and standing of the author would secure for it, and no more. This would tend to secure accuracy of statement. It is the anonymous article which is careless and reckless — which is full of insinuation and invention. At present there is but little complaint about the country weeklies and small papers because generally the authorship of every article is known. Even when such a paper resorts to vilification, it makes no impression except what is secured for it by the character of the writer. It is clear that the public does not want damages so much as it wants a preventive. It wants less firing from ambush. Any measure that will stop this will be beneficial, and if no other remedy is practicable I believe that a measure which would grant reasonable immunity to the writer in all cases in which an article was signed, while it provided for summary penalties where the authorship was not disclosed, would at least tend to limit existing abuses.
In a monarchy, government can be maintained for a time by brute force, but in a republic, government can be maintained only by justice. Those men and those policies which beget injustice are mortal enemies of republican institutions. No government was ever overthrown by the poor, and we have nothing to fear from that source. It is the greedy and the powerful who pull down the pillars of state. Greed, corruption and pharisaism are to-day sapping the foundations of government. It is the criminal rich and their hangers-on who are the real anarchists of our time. They rely on fraud and brute force. They use government as a convenience and make justice the handmaid of wrong. We are developing a kind of carbonated patriotism which seems to derive its most sparkling qualities from respectable boodleism. Our country has great vitality, but these conditions must be arrested or else we are lost. Only those nations grow great which correct abuses, make reforms and listen to the voice of the struggling masses.
Illinois is yet in the morning of her career. Seated at the heart of the continent the centuries are before her. Excelling in resources, in enterprise, in achievement and in the spirit of her people she must lead the way. Destined to be the center of intellectual activity her genius must guide the republic. Directed along the paths of justice and humanity not even the stars can measure her glory.
This is the State which I commit to your care. Again: "Let us build for the centuries."