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GOVERNOR'S MESSAGE

AND

ANNUAL REPORTS

OF THE

PUBLIC OFFICERS OF THE STATE,

AND OF THE

BOARDS OF DIRECTORS,

VISITORS, SUPERINTENDENTS,

AND OTHER

AGENTS OF PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS OR INTERESTS

OF VIRGINIA.

PRINTED UNDER RESOLUTIONS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLI.

RICHMOND:
WILLIAM F. RITCHIE, PUBLIC PRINTER.

1849.

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DOCUMENTS

REFERRED TO IN

GOVERNOR'S MESSAGE.

No. 2.-Auditor's Report.

3.–Treasurer's Report.
4.-Report Superintendent Literary

No. 11.-Report of Superintendent of Public

Edifices. 12.-Report Superintendent Western

Asylum. 13.—Report Superintendent Eastern

Fund, 5.-Report Rector and Visitors Uni

versity of Virginia. 6.-Fund Internal Improvement, and

Debt and Resources of the State. 7.-Report Superintendent Peniten

tiary. 8.-Report Adjutant-General. 9.-Report Superintendent Armory. 10.--Report Visitors Virginia Military

Institute.

Asylum. 14.-Report Board Visitors Deaf, Dumb

and Blind Institution. 15.-Bank Returns. 16.-Report President and Directors

James River and Kanawha Com

pany. 17.-Report of President and Directors

Board of Public Works.

Fellow-Citizens of the

Senate and House of Delegates :

I welcome you, with great pleasure, to the capitol, and offer you my congratulations upon the condition in which you will find the general interests of the commonwealth. Notwithstanding the fears expressed by many lest the liberal spirit evinced in the more recent legislation of the state, touching the improvement of roads and canals, would embarrass our finances, the reports I herewith transmit to you from the several departments, will shew that our condition is sound and prosperous. Indeed, there is every thing in it to vindicate the wisdom of the legislature, and to gratify the friends of a judicious but liberal system of internal improvement. It will be, I am sure, gratifying to you, and to the people at large, to know that Virginia has at her command ample means to discharge all her subsisting public debt, with the exception of a very small and inconsiderable sum. If it were thought desirable to-morrow to wipe out the public debt, a sale at par of her profitable and interest-paying stocks would effect it. This present subsisting debt amounts to $7,541,294 11. The annual interest and dividends received by the state amount to $430,752 08; shewing that the stocks yielding this sum are worth, at par, $7,179,200, or about the amount of the public debt; that is, within $ 362,000 of our present indebtedness. There is, however, an additional sum of $6000,000, which, under existing laws, may be called for out of the treasury, and about $5,000,000 of which will, it is thought, be certainly demanded in the course of a few years; hence this sum, although not now a subsisting debt, will become so, and ought, therefore, to be taken into the estimates of our liabilities. This view shews the precise condition of our financial situation, and is fully sustained by the reports and documents which will be laid before the legislature. The state, it is true, has guarantied loans, to a considerable amount, for various incorporated companies, which securitysbip some have regarded a part of the public debt; but this is unquestionably an error, for a knowledge of the resources and the prospects of the companies, whose bonds have been guarantied, will satisfy all that they are, or will ultimately be, amply able to pay their bonds, as, up to this time, they have always done the interest on them.

This exposition is a cheering one to all, but to none more so than the friends of internal improvements, for which the debt has been mainly created. However, whilst it shews the perfect capacity of the commonwealth to manage her present debt without inconvenience, it also shews the necessity of the greatest prudence and circumspection on the part of the legislature, to avoid such increase of our indebtedness as may result in future embarrassment and additional taxation. Nothing ought to be more cautiously avoided, or earnestly deprecated by the advocates of the recent liberal system of improvement than such a result. I would recommend, therefore, that, except such sums as are necessary to carry on the great works already begun, or such as are essentially necessary to contribute to their success and profit, no farther appropriation should be made for the present out of the treasury. I make this recommendation with the greater confidence, because I believe the success of a permanent and wise system of internal improvements depends upon it.

If any thing can ever restore to Virginia that pecuniary and commercial ascendancy which she once possessed in the confederacy, it must be the consummation of the system of internal improvements she has already embarked in, and the completion of the truly great works already commenced. To endanger the system, or to impede the prosecution of those works, is to strike a fatal blow at the resuscitation of the commonwealth ; and nothing would be so effectual for this, as a lavish expenditure of public money upon insignificant projects, from which the state at large could never receive any benefit.

The great works of internal improvement, already undertaken and so generously sustained by the public funds and public credit, together with one or two proposed but not yet determined upon, are calculated to develop very fully the resources of the state, and to swell the tide of her commercial prosperity to its utmost limits. The entire energies of the commonwealth should be devoted to their completion, but in such a way as to avoid embarrassment and to escape onerous taxation. That this can be effected by the prudence and wisdom of the legislature, I have no doubt.

It is now reduced almost to an axiom, that the greatest commercial prosperity in the Atlantic States, is only attainable by a connection with the valley of the Mississippi; and hence, from Massachusetts to Georgia, we see almost every state along the sea-coast, competing anxiously and earnestly with each other, for the shortest, cheapest and safest communication.

The commercial ascendancy of Virginia was at one period of our history undisputed; her natural advantages of navigable streams, climate and soil, gave it to her. Trusting to these, we have neglected those artificial means, which could alone secure it to us permanently; and therefore the commerce, which once whitened with its sails our seaports, has almost disappeared from our waters. The example set us by our neighbors at the North is one of wisdom, and deserves our most earnest attention. In spite of a bleak climate and sterile soil, they have, by a judicious policy, afforded such facilities to intercommunication and trade, that commerce with her golden tides has filled the land with plenty, prosperity and wealth. Our natural advantages remain still the same; they are unequalled by any Atlantic state; and whilst it is now probably too late to divert the commerce of the Atlantic cities from its present channels; still it is in the power of demonstration to shew that a vast deal of what we have unwisely lost, can be regained, and that we can still secure a fair division of that commercial wealth and power which is now monopolized by the North.

Situated about midway between the northern boundary of the United States and the Gulf of Mexico, we escape in a great degree the rigors of the northern winters, and the scorching heat of the South. Our eastern border upon the river Potomac and the Chesapeake bay, is dotted with harbors unsurpassed in safety and capacity. The fleets of the whole earth could ride safely at anchor within them. Our western border is washed for several hundred miles by the Ohio river, and at other points along it, the rich region of Kentucky and the fertile valley of the Tennessee are of easy access. Besides this, the country lying betwee:1 the eastern and western boundaries, of which I speak, is unsurpassed for its fertility and ihe variety of its products. Mimerals of every description are to be found of the most superior quality, and in quantities absolutely inexhaustible, whilst the earth in which they are embedded, unlike other mineral regions, is of the most desirable character for husbandry. Let this country be penetrated by improvements connecting our seaports with the Ohio, with Kentucky and the valley of Tennessee, and it will infuse a spirit of enterprize into the population, which must, in a short time, fully develop all of our resources.

The topography of the country is most favorable for the completion of these great connecting lines. From tice-water to the Mississippi river at Memphis, there is no mountain barrier interposing a serious difficulty to the construction of a railroad, whilst the region traversed by it is inferior to none of the same extent, for mineral and agricut tural resources, upon the continent of North America. The valley of the Tennessee, one of the most magnificent of all those washed by the waters of the West, the annual commerce of which is worth thirtyfive millions of dollars, will find in this road an outlet for its rich products to the Atlantic. And a cargo of merchandize, landed at Norfolk or Richmond, would be safely transported to the city of Memphis, ready for distribution upon those mighty waters, in less than ten days. The “Virginia and Tennessee" railroad will effect this great object, when it shall be finally completed; and it affords me great pleasure to say, we are warranted in the belief that it will be prosecuted with energy and despatch.

The James river and Kanawha canal, having for its object the connection of tide-water with the Ohio river, has for a good many years been generously sustained by appropriations of public money; and, although it has met with strong opposition, it still maintains itself steadfastly in the approbation of well informed reflecting men. The results to Virginia, which are to flow from its completion, will strike the mind, upon a little reflection, as really stupendous. I have no doubt but that the commerce passing through this canal will rapidly build up the towns of Virginia, to the magnitude of the first American cities, and will rescue us in a great measure frc n the iniserable consequences of our past apathy and inaction.

The effects upon the prosperity and destiny of New York, produced

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