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these gentlemen, and the stewards under them, in my ef-
forts to reduce the expenses of these institutions to the
minimum. A reference to the table furnished you will show
that the annual per capita tax expense was reduced from
$270.04 in the year 1892 to $152.65 in 1894 at Hastings, from
$229.72 to $193.05 at Lincoln, and from $270.34 to $258.04 at
Norfolk during the corresponding period-all excellent
showings and about equally good considering the difference
in population of each, which of course affects the result.


In dealing with his immediate fellow-citizens and the outside world he was equally explicit and fair:

The fact that nearly or quite half of the lands within the State lie west of the line of humidity sufficient to insure an unbroken succession of crops, renders irrigation necessary to protect the people against disaster in unusually dry years. The partial failure from drouth in 1890-92-93, and the almost total failure of 1894, has awakened the people to the necessity of providing for watering the growing crops by artificial means. The soil of western Nebraska, where, to some extent, want now prevails, is as fertile as that of any portion of the United States, and in the years past has yielded abundant harvests in response to the efforts of in-' dustrious settlers.


Thoroughly impressed with the fact of the State's adaptation to the cultivation of the sugar beet and of the value of that great industry, he suggested a bounty where a specific price had been paid the cultivator of the beet, but which should stop as soon as the United States government gave the sugar industry protec tion. He declared the court decision "disappointing and unsatisfactory," in admitting the constitutional power to legislate upon freight rates, and then nullifying the law for want of adaptability and the financial ability of the railroads, and suggested an appeal to the court of last resort. During his administration he had specially received and turned into the state treasury $36,595.

With a carefully prepared and condensed message, and in a spirit of kindness he made his official bow.


In relinquishing an office which came to me in a manner highly complimentary I do so with the consciousness of having tried to be of service to the people of the State who have so frequently honored me. How well I have succeeded they must decide. I shall carry with me pleasant recollections of the kindly relations which have existed between myself and those with whom I have associated or had to deal with in an official way.



Hon. Silas A. Holcomb was born in the state of Indiana in the year 1858, and is, consequently, 37 years of age, in this 1895. His early education was obtained in the common and Normal school before his 17th year, when he assumed the duty of teacher. During four years of teaching he was preparing for college; but his plans were seriously deranged on account of the death of his father in 1878. One year thereafter he arrived in Hamilton County, Nebraska, with his mother and younger brothers and sisters. Thoughtful, industrious and persevering, he accepted the first honorable opening for employment, work upon a farm, for one year, and in 1880 entered the law office of Thummel & Platt, at Grand Island, and came to the bar in 1882. In 1883 he removed to Broken Bow, and in 1891 was elected Judge of the 12th Judicial District.

Though a populist and allied with the silver democrats, he was elected Governor in 1894, while the State went republican by pluralities of from twelve to twenty-five thousand.

The election of Silas A. Holcomb, of the Populist party, in 1894, took place during the 40th year of our congressional representation (the limit of these sketches). He has been preceded by Burt of South Carolina, Izard of Arkansas, Richmond of Illinois, and Black of Pennsylvania, all democratic territorial governors, and Saunders, republican, from Iowa; also by elected governors of the State, Butler, Furnas, Garber, Nance, Dawes, Thayer and Crounse, republicans, and Boyd, democrat. Governor Crounse, his immediate predecessor, had been inaug. urated by a populist legislature, while he was inducted into office by a republican one. In the great political upheaval of 1894 the populists lost the legislature and gained the Governor, while the republicans, losing the Governor, gained the legislature, and consequently the United States Senator, John M.

Thurston. The canvass had been one of exceeding bitterness. Cleveland democrats had been charged with being allies of Wall Street bankers, bondholders and brokers; republicans with being in the same boat, and pandering to capital by high protective tariffs; while populists were denounced by both of the old parties, as the destroyers of state credit, advocates of vagaries and extremists generally. Silly opponents fancied the inaugural of Governor Holcomb would give forth sulphur, be lurid in war paint and intimate scalpels and daggers. Populists, silver democrats and independent republicans, who had supported him, had no fears of the result and were delighted with the effort. Exceptional in taste, pure in style, and admirable in scope, dealing only in living issues, the production carried its own vindication. Almost the first subject treated was


I regret the necessity demanding a careful consideration
of the actual want of a great number of our people caused
by the drouth of last year. Nature has bountifully blessed
Nebraska. Her climate is unexcelled and her soil responds
generously to the labor of the husbandman.
For years
prior to 1890 there was an uninterrupted era of good crops.
Rapidly the domain of the rancher was encroached upon by
the farmer. From various states came an energetic class
of good citizens to make their homes in western Nebraska.
Generally they were poor and depended upon the first sea-
son's crop to supply themselves and families with all the
immediate necessities of life, and until 1890 they never relied
in vain. Then came one season when the accustomed rains
failed to fall and hot winds swept over the country, carry-
ing devastation to the fields of growing grain. Since then
there have been alternating good and poor crops culminat-
ing in the general drouth of 1894.

While this drouth extended practically over the entire
country, it was particularly disastrous in the western por-
tion of the State. Distressed by combats with previous par-
tial crop failures, many farmers with only moderate means
were wholly unprepared to meet the drouth. Many had
been unable, on account of the short time of their residence,
to store up grain sufficient to meet the exigencies of this
extraordinary occasion. Some removed from the State, but
the great majority, possessing the utmost faith in the coun-
try, remained, determined to hold on to their possessions

in the drouth-stricken district. If patience and long-suffer-
ing make people deserving, the harvest of 1895 should be

Our great State is able to take care of its own poor and
many of the county boards have, with commendable energy,
provided work with compensation for the able-bodied needy
in their own counties, but there is still necessity for quick
relief to be extended to many portions of the State, so that
all her people may be comfortable during the present win-
ter and have an opportunity to seed and work their ground
for the coming harvest. I know some claim the legislative
body has no right to make the people donate to the needy
and that such work should be left to individuals who are
charitably inclined, but every government is in duty bound
to provide at public expense the necessities to sustain life
to its own needy inhabitants, and especially is this the case
when the needy are without fault on their part.


After dwelling upon the success of irrigation upon small scales, he broached the bold and comprehensive theory of Nati: nal aid:

The great water ways in the State and on its borders have heretofore in early spring run bankful of water. In the early summer they have joined with the waters of the Mississippi and Ohio, and many seasons have spread devastation over the fertile bottoms of Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana, while the vegetation of a portion of Nebraska was in many places withering and drying for want of water. The government has seen fit to expend millions of dollars in the construction and maintenance of great levees to protect the property and lives of the people residing along the rivers in the south. Would it not conserve a double purpose and be productive of inestimable good to both sections if the government would direct its efforts towards turning the waters of the western tributaries of the Mississippi River into great reservoirs and thence into irrigation ditches for the development of sections of the country which now produce very little?

A proper system of irrigation would doubtless make the fertile plains of Nebraska and similar states produce an inexhaustible supply of the sweetest vegetables and best cereals, and thus by spreading the water in the springtime would reclaim the great river bottoms of our southern neighbors and make them kings of corn and cotton countries.

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