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in some of its features, worthy of especial mention. 1. They have raised the standard of qualifications for graduation. 2. They appoint annually a board of competent examiners selected from different parts of the State, none of whom shall be members of the board of trustees. The examiners, both by written and oral examinations test the condition and the progress of the school. 3. They seek to make the school, as far as possible, a real professional school for the training of teachers, not aiming so much to enroll large numbers as to furnish a superior class of teachers.
The records of the school show that it has been conducted with a judicious economy, and adapted to meet, in the training of teachers, the wants of the common schools of the State. The high reputation which the school enjoys both in our own and in other states, has, I believe, been honestly earned.
For the statistics of the school during the past year, and a detailed account of its condition, I refer you to the report of the board of trustees, and the accompanying reports of the Commissioner, and of the principal of the school.
During the coming year, it is expected that the city of Providence will complete its new high school building, and thus be able to transfer to the State the possession of its building now used for that purpose, recently purchased for the Normal School. The building will then be enlarged and remodelled, thus furnishing the accommodations so long needed.
The Normal school has been a source of honest pride to the people of the State. It has merited and has received their cordial support, and its teachers have never complained of a lack of coöperation on the part of the friends of education. In fact a generous appreciation of the attitude of the people of the State toward the school, and his belief in its increasing usefulness, have influenced Mr. Greenough, its principal, to decline during the past year the presidency of one of the oldest and best colleges in Illinois, and, also the principalship of the Westfield Normal School in Massachusetts, with its superior pecuniary inducements.
LITIGATION IN WHICH THE STATE IS INTERESTED.
There is a bill in equity now pending in the United States Circuit Court in the District of Massachusetts, in which this State has important interest, although not nominally a party to the record, and in which the then Governor of the State, by virtue of authority vested in him by the General Assembly at its January Session, A. D. 1872, employed counsel to represent and protect this interest. Our present General Treasurer holds a note of the City of Boston for $100,000.00, which is over due and upon which interest ceased to be paid several years since, by its own conditions, so that the City of Boston is enjoying the use and benefit of $100,000.00 without requirement of interest, which this State is advised by eminent counsel, belongs in its Treasury on account of the forfeiture of the same for non-compliance with the conditions of the bond for which the said note was given by the then President and Directors of the Boston, Hartford & Erie Railroad Company, as security, but the payment of which said note is enjoined by the courts, although the General Treasurer was directed to collect it, and deposit the money received thereon to the credit of the State in the Rhode Island Hospital Trust Company on special account for accumulation, by joint resolution of the General Assembly at its January Session, A. D. 1872.
I will not attempt to give a minute statement and narrative of the occurrences which led to this litigation, but I desire to call the immediate and careful attention of the General Assembly to its consideration, through its appropriate committees, so that the causes may be speeded in the courts and the interests of the State adjusted.
THE SALE OF SPIRITUOUS AND INTOXICATING LIQUORS.
Whatever diversity of opinion may exist as to the reasonable and effectual legislation required to prevent the evil of excessive use of intoxicating liquors, and to remedy the crimes and poverty which are its direct results, I presume all good citizens are united in the conviction that drunkenness is an evil, and the sale of spirituous liquors is the cause of intemperance. The system of moneyed licenses authorized by the State and granted by the municipalities, does not prevent intemperance, because crimes of the most appalling character are frequently committed where the criminals have been stimulated to the acts by licensed liquor. Perhaps the evil is not as great as it would be if every man who chose sold intoxicating liquor without restriction; but moral discrimination in licensing individuals for this avocation seems to fall far short of the degree that is ordinarily employed in selecting proper persons to discharge much less dangerous trusts. Regarded from its lowest standpoint, the pecuniary results that the State or the several cities and towns acquire from the moneys paid into their treasuries for license to sell intoxicating liquors is painfully small, compared with the great expense annually incurred in the support of paupers, idiots and insane persons and the maintenance and punishment of criminals and those guilty of misdemeanors, which are more or less attributable to intemperance. If any system of legislation can be devised, beneficent and comprehensive enough to counteract or mitigate this terrible evil, it should receive the thoughtful consideration and support of every legislator.
A very large number of our most conscientious citizens believe that this traffic should be absolutely prohibited, and I think this opinion is increasing and strengthening. Proper and legitimate means are constantly used to educate the popular mind up to this conclusion, and when that result is attained a prohibitory law will be as easy of enforcement as a statute against any other evil which is characterized by law as a crime, and has a just penalty hanging over its commission. The State is the guardian of those citizens who cannot take care of themselves, and should protect the habitually intemperate from those who hold the cup to their lips for moneyed profit to themselves,
and thereby make their victims paupers, vagrants and criminals, whose support is chargeable to the public.
It would be indecorous for me to recommend any legislative action in the premises, but I call your attention to the fact that our present license system appears inadequate to accomplish the reform which should result from sound and effective laws, and I consider it my duty to request you to divest your minds of all partisanship and prejudice, if any exists, and endeavor to frame such laws, applicable to this evil, as will commend themselves to the consciences as well as the general intelligence of the people, and will do much to purify and elevate the public and private affairs of our State.
CELEBRATION OF THE BATTLE OF RHODE ISLAND,
It seems fitting, in the centennial period through which we are passing, that Rhode Island should take some part in the demonstrations, which recall to our minds, with renewed force, the heroism and sacrifices of our ancestors, resulting in the establishment of our national
No occasion presents itself to my mind so suitable for a State celebration, as the Battle of Rhode Island, in August, 1778, and the masterly retreat which it enabled the American forces to effect in the face of a superior enemy. General La Fayette pronounced it the “ best fought action of the war,” and all subsequent investigation has confirmed the accuracy of his judgment.