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Doc. 44.-Governor Magoffin's message.

The following special message was transmitted to the Legislature of Kentucky, on the fourteenth of February, 1862.

Gentlemen of the Senate and House of Representatives:
Better informed as you are in regard to the wishes of your constituents, in the particular localities from which you come, I have considered it to be my duty, under that provision of the constitution which requires of me, from time to time, to give information to the Legislature, and in compliance with the request of some valued friends of your honorable body, to make a few suggestions in regard to the condition of the State. A revolutionary provisional government has been formed in Southern Kentucky, within the line of the confederate armies, embracing nearly one third of the counties in the State. Within this boundary no revenue can be collected, and the laws are set at defiance. Its success must depend upon the triumph or defeat of the vast armies in the field. The law provides amply against such a rebellion, but I have no power to quell it. The constitution designed I should have, but I find myself without arms, without money, without men-without the means and the power to put it down. The Legislature have transferred all the resources of the State, to meet the emergency, into the hands of the Military Board and the Federal army. To them, then, will the people look for the suppression of the rebellion.

There is no disguising the fact that the people are suffering seriously in every quarter of the State for the want of means to meet their engagements. Trade is stopped in a great measure, and even what produce finds its way to market is sold at ruinous sacrifices

In regions over which the contending armies have passed, large amounts of property have been taken or destroyed, the country has been made desolate, and large numbers of the people who were contented, comfortable, and independent, are suffering for the necessaries of life; their fences have been destroyed, their stock and provisions taken, so that many cannot make a crop this year; add to this, that many persons have been frightened or dragged from their homes and suffering families. The laws are silent, or cannot be executed. Universal gloom and distress pervade these regions. Families are divided and broken up, and each has its wrongs or its woes to relate. Starvation stares many in the face. In other and more highly favored districts, no property of any description can be sold at one third of its former value. The people are much in debt. They would gladly pay, if their property would bring anything like a reasonable price; but owing to the great reduction in the circulation of the banks — from thirteen to five millions of dollars within a year or two; owing to the enormous war-debt, which must be met by an increase of taxation, the destruction of property and of confidence, the withdrawal of the funds by capitalists, and the consequent fall in prices, the great indebtedness of our people, and the opening of the courts, bankruptcy and ruin stare them in the face unless they get relief. I am free to say I think they ought to have it, and I will cheerfully cooperate with you in the passage of such relief measures as may be consistent with the constitution.

To be just to the creditor and relieve the debtor, is the difficulty. It is a most perplexing question. As a general thing, the relief laws heretofore passed have proved disastrous to those whom they were intended to benefit. Especially have we a warning from the measures adopted in the old relief and anti-relief times in Kentucky; but the people cannot pay much more than their taxes now, much less their debts, without bankruptcy. I fear the sheriffs will resign if something is not done. I fear even resistance to the laws if the collection of debts is enforced by ruinous sacrifices of property at public sales. The relations between debtor and creditor have greatly changed since the contracts were entered into, by this horrible war. Much indebtedness has been incurred by the purchase of property here which has been sold in the South. Persons are trying to collect their debts there to meet engagements here. Heavy losses will be sustained. Heavy taxes must be met, and great sacrifices of property must be the result, unless something can be done for the sufferers.

What ought to be done — what can be done for this class consistent with reason, humanity, justice, and the constitution? It is the debtor class — the trading class, who incur all the risks of speculation; it is that class who, in a time of peace and prosperity, have been the life of trade; it is that enterprising class of our citizens who have constantly contributed by their industry and liberality to individual as well as to national [134] wealth; who have been caught in debt by the revolution, and need assistance. Shall their property, the hard earnings of years of toil, risk, and honest industry, be swept from them at half its value, and they, with their helpless families, turned out penniless upon the world? Are these men, who have carried forward the progress of the country in its rapid advancement to power, to receive protection, or are they to be sacrificed to the cupidity and avarice of another class who do not work — who consume, but produce nothing — who add nothing to the wealth, and little to the happiness of the country — who live by lending money at ten per cent a year, and gloat over the ill-gotten gains of two per cent per month, wrung from the earnings of honest industry? Shall the feast of the capitalist come, in exorbitant demands of interest submitted to and promised by the borrower, to save property from being sold at ruinous sacrifices? Shall the carnival of the miser come, who neither fights nor works, and who has hoarded up his usurious gains to take advantage of the distresses of the people at such a time as this? It is contrary to the spirit of our institutions for too large a portion of the property of the country to be owned by a few men. On the other hand, dishonest men are too apt to seize the opportunity afforded by relief-laws to defraud their creditors.

Numerous as are the difficulties that environ the subject, I had hoped that this question would have been answered previous to your last adjournment, in the passage of some constitutional relief measure, satisfactory to the people; but in this I was sadly disappointed; and had it not been that you were soon to meet again, and wishing to avoid the expense incurred in the call of another extra session of the Legislature, at a time when we should most rigidly economise, diminish our expenditures, and husband all our resources, much as I am opposed to relief laws under ordinary circumstances, in a time of peace, I would have thought myself justified in calling you back without delay to legislate upon this subject.

Whether a two thirds valuation law, applied to personal as to real estate, or a further suspension of the courts, or some other mode of relief, be the remedy, I forbear at this time to suggest, for the reason that a Treasury note bill is now pending before Congress, making paper money a legal tender for debts. Unconstitutional as I believe this bill to be, and much as I deprecate its passage, it is confidently believed by its friends that it will prove a sovereign panacea for our financial ills, and afford the debtor all the relief he needs, in the immediate advance in his property, from the excessive issues of a depreciated currency. In any event, I think it fair to conclude that the creditor is entitled to a lien upon all the property of his debtor, for the payment of his debt, and after that has been honestly surrendered, at such a time as this, he is entitled to a full discharge from the payment of the remainder. Every honest man will pay to the uttermost farthing, if he ever becomes able.

The Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, by an act approved July twenty-seventh, 1861, was directed by Congress, “out of any money in the Treasury, not otherwise appropriated, to pay to the Governor of any State, or to his duly authorized agents, the costs, charges and expenses properly incurred by such State, for enrolling, subsisting, clothing, supplying, arming, equipping, paying and transporting its troops employed in aiding to suppress the present insurrection against the United States, to be settled upon proper vouchers, to be filed and passed upon by the proper accounting officers of the Treasury.”

About the middle of last month I addressed a letter to the President of the Military Board, requesting him to furnish me with the amount expended by the Board for the above purpose, with the proper vouchers, with the view of laying them before the proper accounting officers of the Treasury, have them passed upon without delay, and demand for the State the sum she has expended, and is entitled to under the act from the Federal Government. In reply, I received a note, informing me the Board was not then ready to report, as the vouchers for some of the money expended had not then been obtained, and so soon as they were procured, a report would be made. No report having yet been received, I have been unable to apply for the money under this act. I deem it of the utmost importance to the interests of the State, that this matter should be attended to as speedily as possible, and have no doubt the Board is using its best efforts to procure the vouchers required. I notified the Secretary of the Treasury, in due time, that Kentucky had assumed her portion of the interest of the public debt incurred by the war, by inclosing a copy of the resolution passed by the Legislature. Paying the whole of it before the first day of July, fifteen per cent will be deducted. It may be well, therefore, to set off the claim of the Government for taxes, by so much of our liquidated claim against the Government, and thus allow the people longer time to meet it by taxation. The balance, I am informed, the banks are willing to receive in Government bonds.

I forbear, at present, to make any allusion to our Federal or foreign relations, in the hope that the horrid civil war, in which we are engaged, will soon be ended, and trusting that Divine Providence will enlighten us by his wisdom, direct us in the, pathway of duty, and lead us in the right direction through the troubles which surround us.

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