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Regular Session Convened January 7; Adjourned April 24 Extraordinary Session - Convened September 20; Adjourned
Muchte of brings that we were
Albany, January 7, 1920. To the Legislature:
This time a year ago we were in the immediate wake of war and many of the things that appeared to be problems have been happily taken care of by the ingenuity of our people themselves.
Much of the dissatisfaction spoken of and written about has been largely exaggerated. Work is plentiful, and the general condition of prosperity among our people is shown by bank balances and savings bank deposits.
The State of New York contributed 425,000 of its people to the active forces engaged in the great war. Their deeds constitute a brilliant page in our history. Enriched by their experience, they have returned determined to preserve the institutions and ideals of America against her enemies at home or abroad.
Much remains for the government itself to do and, while we have no reason in this life to expect perfection in any line of endeavor, we have reason to expect progress consistent with experience and the enlightened age in which we live.
You are opening your session to deal with questions affecting the life, health, happiness and prosperity of the people of the greatest State in the Union, now the market place of all the world. Let us unite in our prayers to Divine Providence, that we may be given the light to see the right and to do it.
RATIFICATION OF THE TREATY OF PEACE Over a year has passed since the great war ended. The delirium of joy which swept throughout the land when the armistice was signed thirteen months ago will never be forgotten by man, woman or child of this generation. It expressed the triumph of the leading principle for which this greatest of all wars in history was waged, so eloquently set forth by President Wilson, that no nation should be governed except with the consent of the governed. This is what I understand to be the right of national self-determination. It is the basis of our Declaration of Independence, and it is the desire and hope of all Americans that the right of selfdetermination be guaranteed to the smaller nations of the world, and that this principle be applied to every oppressed people struggling for that freedom and self-expression by which America achieved her great place in the society of nations.
In the joy of our people was also expressed a profound yearning to return to the normal paths of industry and peace. Nevertheless, although hostilities ceased thirteen months ago, technically a state of war still exists between this country and the central powers of Europe.
Readjustment to peace conditions in industry and social life has been made difficult by uncertainty, which has greatly contributed to the business and industrial unrest through which we have passed and from which we are still suffering. Our people look longingly to the Federal government at Washington to do away with this harassing uncertainty by solving the international problems in the interest of all the people, without thought of partisan political advantage.
Successful competition of our country offered us in the growing world trade and continued commercial pre-eminence of our State require a speedy settlement of the terms of peace.
The stimulation of industry and the stability of our commercial enterprises will be furthered by the prompt disposition of the pending treaty in the United States Senate. In urging the earliest possible ratification of the treaty of peace, I am expressing the sentiment of the people of this State, without regard to their political affiliations.
I, therefore, recommend to your Honorable Bodies the passage of a resolution calling upon the United States Senators from the State of New York to assist in the immediate ratification of the treaty of peace.
An old enemy of orderly government and organized society has appeared under a new mask. It is called Bolshevism. It thrives on chaos and discontent. It prospers under such conditions as arise from a great war — discontent, insecurity, the high cost of living and the evils growing out of the unnatural conditions of war. We seem to have emerged from a war of arms to a war of ideas. I have a profound faith in the truth of the American ideal triumphantly to resist Bolshevism and unreasoning radicalism. These are at present receiving an unnecessary amount of advertising, on which they thrive.
We are a government by the will of the majority. No other kind of rule is democracy to an American. We ascertain that will by free public discussion. Such rights as that of free speech and free assemblage are fundamental, for without them government by enlightened will of the majority is not possible.
During the war in the interest of national unity and for our common defense against our enemy, every sane American relinquished some of his freedom.
America thousands alities, we should be
Now that the war is over, we should return to a normal state of mind, and keep our balance, and an even keel.
The anarchist, the violent revolutionist, the underminer of our institutions should receive no mercy at our hands. He does not belong here. But while we should be relentless toward this type of distorted personalities, we must not confuse them with the hundreds of thousands of our brothers of alien stock, who have made America their home and who have helped to build up our great nation by self-respecting labor and their citizenship. Their sons have added luster to our name in the battlefields of the great war. Let us remember them now and let us resent as sinister and as a new expression of the old knownothing spirit, the attaching to all citizens of foreign birth the stigma of radicalism.
I express myself thus feelingly because I know them. I have lived among them. Many of them have been my friends and neighbors. The discontent among them is often the natural homesickness of men and women who do not yet feel at home in their new surroundings. Some of it is due to an exploitation of their helplessness and ignorance. Such discontent every red-blooded man respects. It is different from the destructive spirit of revolutionary firebrands. It should be met by a constructive movement of Americanization, which will make them understand and respect the ideals of America and make them feel at home. The State needs and welcomes to its citizenship the best that the Old World has to give us.
Appreciating as I do the fundamental wholesomeness of the citizen of foreign birth, I am mindful of the danger of spreading the infection of revolutionary propaganda among them. We must immunize them against the infection, by approaching the problem in a spirit of sanity, a thorough and sympathetic understanding and a fearless and courageous meeting of their needs. This is the fundamental basis of any Americanization program.
In this connection we must recognize the necessity of a sound program of social, industrial and governmental betterment, which will remove those causes of discontent which true Americanism requires should be eradicated. This is the basis for my program of reconstruction.
PROBLEMS OF RECONSTRUCTION : Early in the year 1919, in accordance with my first message to the Legislature, I appointed a Reconstruction Commission made up of prominent men and women taken from different walks of life to study the problems of reconstruction and to make recommendations looking to their solution.
I will taket up with your Honorable Bodies in detail at a later date their reports on the various subjects dealt with. These include, principally, a program of retrenchment through the reorganization of the State government and the establishment of an effective executive budget, housing, health, certain educational matters and amendments to our food laws.