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it is hoped, will be introduced ample provision for the suppression of vice. In addition to what on this subject is mentioned in a communication I had the honor to make to a former legislature, dated December 10th, 1813, to which I beg leave to refer, permit me to suggest the propriety of preventing, as well the demoralizing practice of holding unauthorized fairs, and of so regulating those that are authorised, as to prevent their being scenes of dissipation and vice, rather than marts for the purpose of sale and barter, as the preventing also the violation of the law against lotteries. Its penalties are openly evaded, under the specious name of "distribution of property;" by this ingenious device, swindling is practised to an enormous amount. It would in a great measure prevent or at least tend to lessen the evils of drunkenness, if the property of habitual drunkards were placed in the hands of trustees, without whose consent debts subsequently contracted by any such mentally diseased person, should by law be
Frequent and serious reflection has confirmed the suggestions made in the communication above alluded to, that the results of forfeited recognizances in cases of personal wrong, ought of right to be applied to remunerate the parties injured; also as to the modification of the sums to be paid for tavern licenses: provision to be made to prevent the too frequent setting aside the verdicts of juries (now become more necessary, when new trials are ordered for reasons having no bearing upon the merits of the matter in controversy:) respecting larcenies committed without the state: the inefficiency of the writ of habeas corpus: the frequent applications for pardon, and the want of a court of revision in capital cases. I beg leave to introduce to your notice also, that it frequently occurs in counties where the sitting of the court of quarter sessions is limited to four days, that criminals cannot be sentenced, because a verdict of guilty is not found within that period. Imprisonment to the next term is the consequence, costs are incurred and the escape of the criminal hazarded. For remedy, I would recommend a continuance of that court during the week in which it commenced, and a continuance so much longer as may necessary to completely end by verdict and judgment any cause commenced during said week. As it frequently happens that persons accused of the higher grade of offences are not arrested and secured in time so that a precept can issue for holding at the next session a court of oyer and terminer, I would propose that at a court of quarter sessions, the president being present, a court of oyer and terminer and general gaol delivery may be opened and held, though no precept for that purpose may have been previously issued. I would propose, also, that seduction be punished as a criminal offence. The law by which persons wrongfully accused of crimes and misdemeanors are compelled to pay the costs of their own witnesses, is oppressive and dissimilar to the usage in other cases. It ought to be provided, that where the return of ignoramus is made by a grand jury, or where on trial a verdict of not guilty is rendered, and the prosecutor is ordered to pay the
costs, the juries shall respectively determine, whether the defendant's costs shall be paid by the prosecutor or by himself. If an indictment for a nuisance in a public road or highway is on trial not sustained, it ought for obvious reasons to be provided, that the prosecutor shall not be liable for costs, unless there be evident malice and want of probable cause.
The object in the contemplation of a late legislature, in having reported by the judges of the supreme court, such parts of the English statute law as are of force in this state, is confidently anticipated from the present general assembly.
No sufficient reason presents itself to my mind, why the trial of issues in fact is imposed on the judges of the supreme court: so much time is thereby consumed, as makes it impossible for them to hold the courts of error twice a year. I would suggest a provision for the trial and disposal otherwise of such causes, and an injunction that the supreme court be held twice a year in each of the several districts of the state. That an allowance by a judge must be had before a writ of error or of certiorari can issue, proves often derogatory to personal liberty. Those writs, because the judge who allows them has no discretion, might with safety be sued out from the supreme court and courts of common pleas respectively, without such allowance, and the affidavit required on those issuing from the latter court, might be taken before the prothonotary or before a justice of the peace. Arbitrators it would seem, agreeably to a decision of the supreme court, cannot non-suit a plaintiff. Should they not possess this power, so that they may not be required to try a cause where there is no evidence? Powers co-extensive with those of the supreme court to reverse arbitration proceedings, ought to be vested in the courts of common pleas which now seem to be denied to the latter. Under the arbitration law of 1810, the plaintiff appealing gives bail for the money; but the defendant, who generally is under the temptation to appeal for delay, is only required to enter special bail. This requires correction. The defendant should certainly not appeal with greater facility than the plaintiff. The sureties of sheriffs are now exonerated at the end of two years after the office expires, a period too short for a developement of the various transactions incident in many counties to that office. I would recommend that sheriffs' bonds hereafter to be taken, as respects their sureties, should be of force for five years after the expiration of the office. The ambiguity in the 20th section of a law, passed 24th of February 1729-30, entitled "An act for the relief of insolvent debtors within the province of Pennsylvania," declaring who shall not be elected sheriff, has created much difficulty. would recommend the repeal of that section and the enactment of a law, amply guarding the citizen against oppression by the officer, and defining clearly incompatibilities. Sheriff's omitting to return judicial writs at or before the day they are returnable, ought to be personally responsible, unless it happened from some una voidable cause,
The people are frequently subject to laws for months before they are promulgated. This is much complained of and ought to be remedied, by directing that laws of a general nature, taking effect within six months after their passage, shall be published in newspapers. Decisions by courts of law which regard acts of assembly, should be represented to the legislature; and uniformity of decision on similar points would more generally prevail throughout the state, if written decisions and all others of importance made and pronounced by courts, were reported and published. These subjects being for the most part intimately connected with the administration of justice, criminal and civil, will, I feel assured, engage your serious attention.
The subject of manufactures, from full experience during the restrictive system and the war, is now so well understood as respects the practicability of advantageously carrying them on, as to the kind of goods which may be made and the quality and durability of the articles which have had a fair experiment amongst us, that it is deemed unnecessary to urge arguments in their support. The general government, fully aware of the importance of the subject, will it is confidently hoped, follow the dictates of political wisdom, and protect our manufactures against injurious foreign competition or combination: a contrary course would protract the long and anxiously sought real independence of our country, and again impose on us a dependence almost colonial. So far as individual state means can aid national measures for the promotion of this and other desirable objects, we may confidently pledge the co-operation of faithful Pennsylvania, who we anticipate will soon take a conspicuous and permanent rank amongst manufacturing
At no time since the existence of our government, was the utility and value of inland navigation more clearly evinced than during the late war. The embarrassments, disappointments and losses to the government and to citizens, consequent from the want of that mode of intercourse and transportations, for warlike as well as commercial purposes, have been so manifest, that further excitement than a reference to the example and projects of our sister states and other nations is deemed to be useless. It may, however, be proper to add, that notwithstanding appropriations of near a million of dollars of the public treasure during a short period, and the extraordinary expenses of the state during the war, our resources are unimpaired, and, united with individual wealth and enterprise, are equal to the accomplishment of any practicable water communication. I presume again to invite your attention to those two highly important objects: the connection of the waters of the Chesapeake and the Delaware, and those of the Susquehanna and Schuylkill.
On the subject of education, I regret to say, that of the many seminaries throughout the state which have been aided by grants from the legislature, few have gone into operation on a liberal scale, and those few are unprosperous for the want of sufficient funds. This state of things is probably owing to a too general dif
from every part of the state, will readily discern and promptly adopt those plans which will best promote the happiness and well being of the commonwealth; and I promise a cheerful co-operation in all measures tending to a judicious regulation of our finances, the equal distribution of justice, the promotion of useful knowledge, and generally an inculcation and fostering of all the virtues which constitute the strength and can alone secure permanence to governments, founded as are our state and national constitutions, on the equal rights of man.
Harrisburg, Dec. 8, 1815.
(For documents accompanying said message see appendix.)
On motion of Mr. Frailey and Mr. Beale,
Ordered, That the usual number of copies of the foregoing message be printed for the use of the members. Adjourned until 11 o'clock to-morrow morning.
SATURDAY, December 9, 1815.
Mr. Biddle presented the petition of the commissioners and. inhabitants of the district of Southwark, praying that they may be placed upon an equal footing with the other parts of the city and county of Philadelphia, as relates to the payment of damages for opening public roads, &c. and
Said petition was read and referred to Mr. Biddle, Mr. Graham and Mr. Shearer.
Mr. Frailey from the committee of accounts, made report in part, which was read as follows, to wit.
That there is due to William Wilson, late sergeant-at-arms of the Senate, for his services whilst at the seat of government during the present session, and for his expenses in travelling to the seat of government and returning to his home, the sum of fifty dollars. Therefore,
Resolved, That the Speaker draw his warrant in favor of William Wilson for fifty dollars.
On motion of Mr. Frailey and Mr. M Sherry,
The said report was again read, and the resolution thereto attached considered and adopted.
A warrant was accordingly so drawn.
On motion of Mr. I. Weaver and Mr. M'Farland,
The following resolution was twice read, considered and adopted, to wit.
Resolved, That the following rule, when adopted by the House of Representatives, be a rule to regulate the transmission and re