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Valley of the Shadow

Valley Virginian: March 17, 1870

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Governor's Message
(Column 01)
Summary: This article summarizes the several views and proposals made by Governor Walker in a recent message to the state. The author's review is somewhat mixed, disagreeing with some of the Governor's opinions, such as protection from creditors through the Homestead Law. Overall, however, this article praises the Governor's efforts to provide the best for all Virginians under adverse conditions, as well as secure for Virginia a prosperous future.
Full Text of Article:

The length of Governor Walker's message published in our issue of the 19th, precluded any comment on the subjects therein discussed, and will doubtless prevent such perusal on the part of many of the patrons, as the importance of its suggestions deserves. For the benefit and information of such as have not the time or inclination to wade through its accumulated statements and arguments, we propose to give a brief synopsis of its contents.

Being mainly devoted to a consideration of the financial condition of the State, it sets out with an enumeration of the liabilities she has incurred, amounting in the aggregate to near $16,000,000 to meet this large indebtedness the State has assets and resources estimated by the Governor in the aggregate at nearly $34,000,000, but unfortunately a large proportion of these assets are not now, nor are they likely in the future to become really available. The estimate of Governor Walker, which is certainly as favorable as the facts justify, fixed the sum at $2,622,776 as solvent and immediately available for the redemption of the State debt, and he estimates that a further sum of about $10,000,000 will become available in the course of a few years, thus leaving a balance of upwards of $21,000,000 which is not now, and probably never will become of much value to the State. The bulk of this indebtedness on the part of the State has its origin in State aid extended to various internal improvement companies, and the Governor criticizes severely and properly the policy which heretofore controlled the action of the State in this particular. He discusses at some length the propriety of dissolving the partnership existing in many internal improvement companies between the State and the private stockholders, and advocates as speedy a severance of this connection as is compatible with the welfare of the various companies and the best interests of the State. He believes that this can best be affected "by permitting each company to redeem the interest of the State in such company, by surrendering to the State, (to be called,) the Bonds of the State to an amount equal to such interest." If this authority be granted, he believes that in a few years about $10,000,000 of State bonds will thus be redeemed, and the State debt diminished by that amount.

Our readers will doubtless remember that this is precisely the policy adopted by the Legislature in the acts authorizing the formation of the "Atlantic, Mississippi and Ohio Railroad Company" in April, 1867, as well as the more recent formation of the "Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Company." With regard to the authority given the first named company, so far as we are advised, no action whatever has been taken under it, and the sanguine predictions of its friends, that the measure would speedily relieve the State several millions of indebtedness has thus far failed of fulfillment. Whether the experience of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Company, will furnish a different result remains to be seen, although that company may pay off in State bonds, the amount of its indebtedness to the State, without at the same time purchasing the stock held by the State in the improvement, a privilege which the Governor properly advises should not be hereafter extended to any company.

For the purpose of aiding in paying the interest on the debt, and defraying the ordinary expenses of government, Gov. Walker proposes to tax the incomes, or capital stock of the Internal Improvement Companies, or by imposing a capitation on tonnage tax, a suggestion in our opinion of doubtful expediency and calculated to further embarrass and cripple the operations of the Companies, many of which are now struggling to bare existence.

The expenditures of the State Government for the final year, exceed the receipts by $66,000, the regular and ordinary expenses of the State Government being $700,000, exclusive of legislative expense, which from the present prospects will add very largely to this amount. The whole sum required to be raised by taxation during the present fiscal year is $3,310,000--an amount greater by more than a million and a half than was paid into the Treasury the past year. Our people may see in this the first turn of the taxation screws, the taxes increased one-third, and that too before the largely increased burthens imposed by the new Constitution become operative. When these shall have been provided for, then, indeed, will our people begin to open their eyes to the beauties of reconstruction under the Underwood Constitution, and realize its acceptance by the people of Virginia.

By a reassessment of the real estate and personal property of the Commonwealth, and adopting an ad valorem system of taxation, the Governor believes that "we shall be able at a day not far distant to resume the regular payment of interest upon our State indebtedness." This time he fixes as 1st of July, 1871.

With the laudable object of re-organizing the State debt, the Governor recommends the funding of all the liabilities of the State, both principle and interest, except the sterling debt, into one uniform class of new bonds, running from 10 to 30 years, with the interest payable semi annually in the city of New York, all the new bonds to be coupon bonds, and the coupons after maturity receivable for all debts due the State, which facts shall be stated on their face, thus giving them a current value, which would cause them to pass from hand to hand as readily as greenbacks.

A change in the percent system of the collected revenue is advised, in which we heartily concur, by providing a system of State depositories for public funds, and making it a felony for any individual to make use of them for private purposes; collectors required to deposit the sums collected at least twice in each month taking a certificate therefore from the depositor, which certificate shall be at once forwarded to the treasurer, who shall charge the same to the depositor, and draw upon it whenever needed for use.

The Governor is opposed to the charter of Joint Stock Companies or Banks with special privileges, and thinks the number of applications for such charters would be very much restricted by requiring a deposit of $500 with every application.

The solution of the great problem of the hour, viz: THE RELIEF OF THE DEBTORS, Governor Walker believes can be found in the enforcement of the Homestead provision of the Constitution, and the passage of an act forbidding the sale of real estate at less then its assessed value, giving the creditor the privilege, if no greater amount is offered, of taking the property at its assessed value in liquidation of his claim.

The Governor thinks the Homestead law will secure to debtors from $3,000 to $4,000 worth of property, which cannot be reached by any creditor, and if correct in this assumption, we admit the force of his argument; but with all due deference we venture to opine, that the Courts will rule differently with regard to the Homestead exemption as applied to old debts, unless a mighty change has come over the minds of the Judges and lawyers, unless the decisions of the highest legal tribunals of the country, both State and Federal be erroneous, this portion of the Homestead law will be pronounced at variance with the Constitution of the United States, as well as the State Constitution of which it forms a part and consequently will be declared null and void, so soon as a decision by the Courts can be arrived at. The debtor therefore who trusts to this method of relief will manifestly lean upon a broken reed. The remedy proposed for preventing the sacrifice of real estate, is effective however, and should be made to apply to personal property as well.

The Governor recommends that the Land scrip donated by the State for educational purposes, amounting to 200,000 acres, be divided between some existing College to be selected by the General Assembly, and a High School or College to be hereafter organized for the education of colored students. However repugnant such a suggestion, to many, there is manifestly much force in the argument that as the colored race are now invested with political rights co-equal with the whites, it is to the interest of whites as well as blacks, that they shall be placed, so far as education can do it, in a condition to discharge intelligently and understandingly the duties thus devolved upon them, and though we can not subscribe to the dogma so authoritatively and sophomorically announced by the Executive of the State, that "if the death knell to American liberty is ever sounded, ignorance will pull the bell cord," we yield our hearty assent to his concluding recommendation, that the schools for whites and blacks shall be kept separate and distinct, a principle demanded alike by the interests of the white and colored races.

We bring our somewhat extended notice of the Message to a close, with the remark that it is by far the most important and judicious State paper which has yet been emanated from our Executive, and though we dissent from many of his views and deductions, yet in the main we commend the paper as affording evidence of a sincere desire to advance the interest of the State, and promote the prosperity of the people over whose destinies he has been called to preside.--Lynchburg News.

The Radical Convention
(Column 02)
Summary: Account of a Republican Party meeting in Richmond.

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(Column 01)
Summary: James W. Baldwin and Miss Martha A. Garber, daughter of Albert Garber of Staunton, were married in Trinity Church on March 15th by the Rev. J. A. Latane.
(Names in announcement: James W. Baldwin, Martha A. Garber, Albert Garber, Rev. J. A. Latane)
(Column 01)
Summary: William S. Boyd and Miss Eddie G. Rothwell, both of Augusta, were married at New Hope on March 10th by the Rev. John H. Taylor.
(Names in announcement: William S. Boyd, Eddie G. Rothwell, Rev. John H. Taylor)

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