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Full text of "Farewell remarks of secretary of state William Jennings Bryan and state senator Lee C. Gates before the California Legislature of 1913"

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OCT 24 I9JI 

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Mr. Secretary Bryan addressed the conference as follows : 

{Governor Johnson, Lieutenant Governor Wallace, Speaker Young and 
Members of the Legislature : 

As I am departing this afternoon for Washington, I deem it proper 
(that I should say a final word to you. My coming, at the President s 
request, upon the mission that brought me, was unusual, and yet in 
the President s opinion, not only right in principle but wise in policy. 
[it was in keeping with his own course in appearing in person to deliver 
[a message to Congress. He recognizes the division of the powers of 
government among the three departments, the Executive, the Legislative 
land the Judicial, but he feels that, as they must co-operate in the 
conduct of the government, there should be the utmost frankness and 
cordiality between them in the performance of their respective duties. 
In like manner, while he recognizes the division of responsibility 
between the Federal Government and the several states, he believes that 
this division should not preclude conference and consultation between 
the executive of the nation and those entrusted by your state constitu 
tion with the exercise of state authority. 

A question having arisen, which, while local in its immediate opera 
tion, is yet national and even international in some of its phases, he 
ventured to advise against the use of certain language in bills which 
were under consideration. When it seemed probable that the words 
[would be used, notwithstanding the advice he had earnestly given, he 
I asked whether it would be agreeable to the Legislature to have the 
| Secretary of State visit Sacramento to confer in regard to the national 
and international phases of the question. The reply made by the 
( Legislature was in the form of a resolution which reads as follows: 

"Resolved, By the Senate of the State of California, that while 
this Senate respectfully maintains the right of the Legislature 
of the State of California to legislate on the subject of land 


ownership, withig .the .state, it will be entirely agreeable to the 
Senate to have, the Secretary of State of the United States visit 
Sacramento for the purposes indicated in the President s tele 
gram ; and be it further 

"Resolved, That in view of the probable early adjournment of 
the Legislature, the Secretary of the Senate be and is hereby 
instructed to transmit forthwith these resolutions by telegraph 
to the President." 

If this telegram could not be construed as an invitation, it at least 
expressed full acquiescence, and the President felt so deeply upon the 
subject that he sent me here to confer with you. 

I need not recount the experiences through which we have passed. 
The Legislature, in so far as it has acted, has found it inconsistent with 
its view of its responsibility to follow the President s advice in the 
wording of the law which it regards as its duty to enact. While I shall 
not attempt to form a judgment as to the action of the Assembly on 
this subject, I have so fully presented the President s views that I do 
not deem a longer stay necessary. On the contrary, I feel that I can 
be more useful at Washington when the President has before him the 
bill as it reaches the Governor, if it shall finally pass the Assembly. 

I can not, however, take my departure without giving expression to 
my appreciation of the spirit in which, as a representative of the Presi 
dent, I have been received, and of the courtesies that have been shown 
me at all times by Governor Johnson, by Lieutenant Governor Wal 
lace, by Speaker Young and by the members of both the Senate and 
Assembly. The amity that has characterized our intercourse with the 
officials of this state is in keeping, I think, with the course that is 
pursued by those who, acting under a sense of responsibility about 
matters in which they are jointly concerned, are unable to agree upon 
the means to be employed in reaching the end in view. The President 
has impressed upon me at all times that I should emphasize the fact that 
his only purpose is to confer with the Legislature as to the national and 
international phases of the question under consideration, and that he 
confers not as an unsympathetic friend but as one who desires to aid to 
the extent of his ability where he has not only a constitutional duty to 
perform, but where he may be assumed to be able to judge of the effect 
of legislation upon our relations with other countries. He has pointed 
out the things which seem to him unwise in the bill that has passed the 
Senate. The first words to which he calls attention are "eligible to 
citizenship," which are as clearly discriminating as the words "ineli 
gible to citizenship," against which he so earnestly advises. In the 
second paragraph the property rights of those therein described are 
defined as they are defined in the treaty. He fears that this will raise 
a question of construction and involve the subject in a law suit that 

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may be both irritating and protracted. I have submitted to him the 
suggestion but, owing to his absence from Washington just at this 
time, have been unable as yet to secure an answer that a time limit 
upon any bill which you pass might reduce to a minimum the unfavor 
able influence it exerts, if that influence is unfavorable. If, for 
instance, any bill that you pass dealing with the subject, is limited in 
its operations to two years or even four years, but two years would 
give opportunity for the next Legislature to act upon the subject it 
would afford an opportunity for diplomatic effort with the hope that 
the situation could be so improved as to make a re-enactment of the 
law unnecessary. Assuming that the people of California will be 
satisfied to reach the end which they desire by methods which will 
cause the least friction between this and other nations, this suggestion 
is made for the consideration of those who have yet to act upon the 
subject. * 

If the Legislature is willing to avoid the use of the words "^eligible to 
citizenship" or "ineligible to citizenship," I am authorized to suggest 
that the line might be drawn at another point, namely, between those 
whose right to own land is defined by treaty and those whose right to 
own land is not defined by treaty, the former to be allowed to own 
according to the terms of the treaty and the latter to be allowed to 
hold on the same terms that citizens of the United States hold land. 
But the President desires me to keep before you at all times the fact 
that he would prefer, if consistent with your views of the State s 
interests, to have all action deferred for a time sufficient to permit him 
to employ diplomatic means. 

In conclusion, let me recall his preferences as they have been stated to 
you before : 

First The postponement of action at this time, reminding you again 
that under your constitution the Legislature can be convened at any 
time to deal with the subject as the necessities of the case may require. 

Second If action is deemed necessary, he would prefer such action 
as has been taken by the State of Illinois, where no distinction is made 
between aliens and a liberal time allowed during which an alien can 
hold property. 

Third If it is deemed necessary to still further restrict the holding 
of property, he prefers such a law as the District of Columbia now has, 
where the ownership of real estate is confined to citizens and those who 
have declared their intention of becoming citizens. 

Fourth Whatever the form of the law, he earnestly advises against 
words intended to draw a distinction between those eligible to citizen 
ship and those ineligible. 

Having performed the duty imposed upon me by tKe Chief Executive 
of the nation, my work is done. You have listened patiently and 

courteously, and now the responsibility rests upon you to do what you 
deem necessary, recognizing, as you doubtless do, that you act not only 
as the representatives of the state dealing with lands lying within the 
state, but as the representatives of a state occupying a position among 
her sister states and sharing with them an interest in and responsibility 
for international relations. 

You are fortunate in this State in having the initiative and refer 
endum. The initiative spurs you on to do that which you believe 
your people want done, while the referendum empowers those for whom 
you speak to put their veto upon your acts if you fail to reflect their 
wishes. It may be assumed, therefore, that if you feel it your duty 
to enact any legislation on this subject at this time, your people will 
either manifest their approval by acquiescence, or their disapproval by 
submitting your action to the judgment of the voters by means of the 

I leave you with renewed assurances of the President s friendly 
concern in the subject with which you are dealing, and my appreciation 
of the kind reception whicn you have accorded me. as his spokesman. ^ 

Senator Gates, in response, spoke as follows : 

MR. PRESIDENT: If I may be permitted to speak the sentiments of 
this Legislature at this moment, I beg to convey to the Secretary of 
State of our nation, and through him to the chief executive whom we 
delight to honor and follow in all respects and to every degree, which 
we believe consonant with our duty to our state and to the work 
entrusted to us upon this coast: I would say that this Legislature 
appreciates to its fullest degree the honor that has been done to this 
state by the visit of the Secretary of State to join with us in an endeavor 
to write such legislation as shall be for the protection of our state, 
of our people, of our civilization upon this coast and the honor of the 
nation and of our relations with the sister nations of the earth. 

We realize that the visit of the Secretary of State upon a mission of 
this character r traversing the continent from coast to coast to co-operate 
with us to the end that we are seeking, marks an era in American 
politics, marks a degree of advance, which we believe will be for the 
benefit of the nation at large and the conduct of public affairs hereafter, 
in that it brings the national government into closer touch with the 
individual states and marks a further advance in making of the states 
each a closer integral fact with the great family of states of which this 
nation is composed. 

Mr. President, I beg further to express upon the part of this Legis 
lature our profound appreciation and gratitude for the interest which 
has been taken by the national government in the problem that con- 

fronts the Legislature of California, and to assure the Secretary of 
State and the President of the United States that even though we may 
differ in the phraseology and terms which we may feel necessary to 
employ in legislation of the kind which is responsible for the visit of the 
Secretary of State, that we do it with the profoundest respect for the 
opinions of the President and his Secretary of State which have 
animated this visit, and if we feel impelled to depart in the slightest 
degree from the advice of the President, we still do it with the highest 
respect for the wishes of the chief executive of our nation. 

Speaking finally, I wish to say, and I know that I now express the 
sentiments of the Legislature here, that it is the purpose and desire 
upon the part of this Legislature, in so far as it finds or can find it 
consonant with the duty it has to perform for the people of this state, 
to comply with the wishes of the chief executive and that we thank 
the President and his Secretary for the assistance which they have 
given to us and to express the hope that this visit may be the fore 
runner of further activities by the national government in assisting 
the sister states composing the republic, in the discharge of their duties 
as parts of our great republic. 

And now, upon behalf of this Legislature, I beg Mr. Bryan to express 
the thanks of the Legislature to the President of the United States 
for his interest and assistance, and to you for the courtesy and kind- 
lines with which you have discharged your ambassadorship to the Legis 
lature of the State of California. 

Gaylord Bros. 


Syracuse, N. Y. 
PAT. JAN. 2 1.1 908 

Vt 28123 

Oaylord Bros. 


Syracuse, N. Y. 
PAT. JAN. 2 1.1 908 

VC 28123