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ROBERT EMORY PATTISON,
Governor of the Commonwealth.
H IS NOT ALWAYS A DRAWBACK TO
public preferment, as is conspicuously evident in the case of Governor Robert E. Pattison. His father was a graduate of Dickinson College and a Pennsylvanian, although in the itinerant system of the Methodist Episcopal Church, of which he was one of the most honored ministers, he happened to be stationed at Quantico, Maryland, in 1850, at the time of the birth of his distinguished son. Young Pattison was educated at the Philadelphia Public Schools and graduuated as valedictorian from the Central High School. In 1869, he began the study of law under the Hon. Lewis C. Cassidy and was admitted to the bar in 1872.
In 1877, he was elected Controller of Finances in Philadelphia, being then barely twenty-seven years
age, and in 1880, he was again elected, this time with a majority of 13,000. Two years later, then only thirty-two years of age, Mr. Pattison was made the standard-bearer of the Democratic Party in the gubernatorial contest of 1880. He immediately entered upon a most magnificent campaign; in two weeks he trap. eled 1.400 miles, spoke in forty counties and insured success by the very force of his enthusiastic personality. He was elected by a plurality of over 40,000. At his request his inauguration was as free from ceremonial as possible and he entered upon an upright, unostentatious and intelligent administration, a credit to the State and an honor to himself. Constitutional limitation preventing his succeeding himself, an interval of four years passed when the voice of the people again called him from retirement and placed him at the helm of State. His second administration presented the same features, which to so marked an extent commanded the admiration of his own party and the approval of his opponents.
At the close of his first term he was appointed by the President a member of a Commission to investigate the Pacific railways, and he became the chairman. After a searching examination of the subject he reported in favor of the termination of the “partnership between the Government and the Pacific railroad," a position in which he was publicly sustained by the President. In 1895, much against his inclination he
was persuaded to lead the forlorn hope as the Democratic «andidate for Mayor of Philadelphia and was defeated.
Governor Pattison is active in the affairs of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He has been a lay delegate to a number of the quadrennial General Conferences of that body, at the session of 1900, being chairman of the important committee to which was referred the subject of amusements. In 1890 he was fraternal delegate to the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, and in 1891 he was a delegate to the Methodist Ecumenical Council at Washington. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of Dickinson College and in 1884 was honored with the degree of LL. D. from that venerable institution.
In 1896, he was the unanimous choice of the Pennsylvania delegation in the Democratic National Con. vention at Chicago for nomination for President and during five successive ballots received each time in the neighborhood of a hundred votes. Upon his retirement from the chief magistracy, he entered into business in Philadelphia, where he became President of the Security Trust and Life Insurance Company of that city. His terms as Governor comprised the pe. riods from January 16, 1883, to January 18, 1887, and from January 20, 1891, to January 15, 1895.
Inaugural Address to the Assembly.
a time, the functions of Chief Executive of the
State, I follow an old and respected custom in briefly stating some of the principles that will guide me in the administration of the office.
I would first call attention to the bountiful manner in which a kind Providence has blessed our State and endowed its people with benefits. We should never cease to make grateful acknowledgment of Ilis overshadowing care. At periods like this there is a peculiar fitness in a public recognition of the goodness of that Supreme Being who has been our safe-guard from calamity, and whose benefactions have attended us with unceasing constancy.
In the execution of the trust contided to me by the people, it shall be my constant endeavor to ascertain their will with accuracy, and carry it out with fidelity.
For this purpose I solicit the freest communication between the people and the Executive, and will diligently avail myself of every facility which will tend to inform me of their wishes. It will be my solicitude to strengthen and conform the public faith in Democratic Institutions by demonstrating, in the sphere to which I have been appointed, their aptitude for recording and effecting the wishes of the people. Our Government was constituted to give direct and prompt recognition to the expressions of popular will.
I adopt, as a direct application to the present time, a sentence from President Jackson's first inaugural, in which he says: “The recent demonstration of public sentiment inscribes on the list of executive duties, in characters too legible to be overlooked, the task of reform."
This task, clearly set before him, the present Executive will zealously strive to fulfil. Happily for him, there can be no doubt of the particular subjects as to
which the public anxiety for improvements has mani. fested itself. These are well defined. The method of accomplishment is a question for the legislative wisdom ultimately to determine. So far as the limits of an address like this will permit, let me briefly state a few of the subjects of needed reform.
The people demand the abolition of needless offices;. the fixing of official compensation at sums commensurate with the service rendered by salaries definitely ascertained; rigid accountability in the expenditure of public moneys; a public performance of official trusts; and the raising of the efficiency of the civil service by making titness and integrity alone the tests for appointment.
The people demand strict economy in the expenditure of their moneys; a simple and business-like conduct of the affairs of government, and a repeal of all laws creating avenues for the needless spending of public funds at the discretion of officials.
The people demand that the burdens, as well as the benefits, of government, shall be distributed with fairnese, justness, and impartiality. They demand uniformity and simplicity in taxation, and its distribution in such a manner as that, while all shall bear their just share of the common burdens, those shall contribute most who receive most, and those suffer least who can bear least. There is no more difficult problem in government than that relating to taxation. Revenue must be raised by the State for the efficient conduct of its affairs. Care should be taken, however, in the imposition of taxes, that we do not lose sight of those upon whom the imposition finally rests. The hand that pays the tax into the treasury is not always the hand that earned the contribution. That system is most equitable, which, recognizing this truth, so distributes the taxing weight that none shall escape, and none bear more than their just proportion. Our present system, in its State, county, and township ramifications, is in.