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The amounts paid for the past four years are as follows:
1896, to first-class, $23.35; all others, $16.35. 1898, to first-class, $18.72; all others, $12.98. 1893, to first-class, $15.38; all others, $11.90.
1900, to first-class, $42.55; 2nd class, $35.46; 3rd class, $28.73; 4th class, $21.27.
From this it will be seen that the amounts paid this year are nearly double those of last year.
The total cost of the examining board, State and county, for the last fiscal year was $3,149.85, less than 30 cents to each pensioner. In the light of statements and charges made about this last spring by certain speakers and newspapers these figures will show how utterly reckless partisanship can become when inflamed by prejudice and passion.
Our present law, whilst needing some amendments, is the best we have ever had. Under it, after a deserving old soldier or his widow has been put on the roll they are at no further trouble but to go to the probate judge and receive their warrants.
Such amendments should be adopted as will secure to every gallant old soldier and his helpless widow, and to them only, this bounty of a grateful people.
I am grateful to state that our military establishment is in admirable condition. We have three regiments of infantry, four troops of cavalry, and three batteries of artillery. These troops are splendidly commanded, most of the officers having received valuable instruction as volunteers during the Spanish war. The men are from the very flower of our youth, and the equipment is now almost complete. The discipling and conduct of these troops show how unnecessary is a large standing army in a republic, and how thoroughly we can rely upon the patriotism and courage of our citizen-soldiers in time of war. They have answered every call mad“ upon them to maintain the law with the greatest alacrity and no service has even brought a murmur of complaint even when cause existed. The whole expense to our treasury for the maintenance and instruction of these troops and their use in suppressing mobs and upholding the law during the four years of my administration, including the salary of the adjutant general, has been $60,551.82, as against $124,056.30 for the four years next preceding, as shown by the auditor's report.
Progress has been made in our higher institutions of learning; not all that we could wish ; but it is gratifying to know that the progress is towards better work and higher standards. The school for white girls at Montevallo is doing admirable work. It is the only institution in our State where our girls have an opportunity anything like that so long enjoyed by the boys. It needs aid and I commend io to your patriotic consideration,
I also invite your attention to the first report of the institution incorporated by you some two years ago for caring for wayward and criminally disposed boys. The good women in charge have done so much with the small sum appropriated and the objects of the institution appeal so strongly to us, that they merit your aid.
The agricultral schools, with one or two exceptions, whilst doing something for education, mainly in their several localites, are doing scarcely anything for agriculture, the very thing they were created to develop.
We certainly have great cause to rejoice in the progress of our common schools. Our appropriations now for this cause are over one million dollars, nearly double what they were in 1896. Laws have been enacted to secure more competent teachers; these may need some changes, but have certainly been steps in the right direction. The present capable and faithful superintendent has put his whole heart in the work with gratifying results. Public officials who have the courage to stand for right methods against any kind of clamor, will always in the end' have the approval of those whose approval is desirable. Qualified county superintendents will strengthen the system. The people of the State stand almost as a unit for progress in this work, and will tolerate no steps backward. It is vastly more important that all the boys and girls in Alabama should know how to read and write than that a few hundred or thousand should have a classical education.
The common schools for the present year will remain open on an average of not less than five months, whilst in 1893 they averaged sixty-six days. The improvement in the quality of teachers has been almost as great. This is a great result to show in the short period of four years. We can now assert that in Alabama the door of a free school is open to every child, and no longer can it be charged that we are deuying any one an opportunity for that instruction that will illuminate his pathway in life.
Permit me to respectfully summarize the progress that has been made in the past four years of Democratic administration :
1. The deficit has disappeared.
2. The credit of our State is at the highest point in its history.
3. Not a dollar of money has been borrowed in four years, and for more than three years every just claim has been paid promptly on presentation.
4. Substantial progress has been made in securing better assessments and compelling all to contribute their just share to the burdens of government.
5. The convict department, from being a drag on our treasury, is now contributing nearly $50,000 annually to lessen the burden of the people.
Our direct appropriations for common schools has been doubled, and the schools are taught better and the term has increased from sixty-six days to five months.
7. School teachers have not been compelled to discount their well.earned compensation.
8. Many thousand acres of school lands have been recovered or compensation obtained for the same.
9. All officials collecting public revenues are faithfully and promptly accounting for the same, and the State has not lost a dollar by any defaulter in over three years.
10. Very few errors, and these generally of small amounts, are now found in the accounts of public officials.
11. Crime has diminished -- per cent, as shown by the report of the attorney general.
12. The volunteer troops are in an admirable state of efficiency and the expense of maintaining them has been largely decreased.
13. Confederate pensioners are now receiving nearly twice as much as a year ago.
14. A beginning has been made in the rescue of wayward and criminally disposed children.
I feel that I should do myself and the State an injustice did I not mention in this message the cordial invitation extended me to take part in the Alabama Kearsarge ceremonies and the royal welcome accorded to myself and staff and party, by the governor and people of New Hampshire. Such a gracious and generous reception could only come from the hearts of a brave people who have obliterated all sectional prejudice and rejoice in the heroic deeds of our fathers and brethren because they were American citizens.
I am sure that this visit will unite Alabama and New Hampshire in friendly bonds and that the af. fectionate regard that sprang up in our hearts for our hosts struck a responsive chord in theirs.
Governor. Montgomery, Ala., November 14, 1900.
Gentlemen of the General Assembly :
Assuming the responsibilities of the Chief Executive of the State of Alabama by the authority of the registered will of a generous and confiding people, it would be exceedingly appropriate for me to embrace the first opportunity presented to observe a custom, unbroken through the course of many years, of giving to the general assembly a brief expression of my views touching matters of interest to the State. The observance of this custom is rendered largely unnecessary by the fact that my physical condition prevented me from assuming the duties of the office until you had consumed half the time of the session in performing your legislative duties. However, with your permission, I wish to call your attention to a few matters that. in my humble opinion, you will do well to consider, in the remaining days of the session of the general assembly.
Before doing so, allow me to say that it is a matter of congratulation to all the people, and of profound personal gratification to myself, that peace, prosperity, and good will prevail practically in every section and community of the State. The asperities and individual alienation growing out of the political dissensions of recent years are happily forgotton in the era