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Gentlemen of the Senate and of the
House of Representatives :
In assuming the trusts confided to us, and while impressed with our obligations to our fellow-citizens, it becomes us, for ourselves and our constituents, with reverence, humility and gratitude, to acknowledge our dependence upon that benevolent Providence which has filled our country with health and abundance.
Never before was the industry of man, throughout the world, rewarded with such universal plentifulness. Yet we have reason to fear that privation and distress never were greater or more widely spread. While some are burdened with superfluities, many others are pining in want. And while some are rejoicing in freedom, others bow under the oppressor's yoke, or · reluctantly submit to the despot's chain. Can such a state of civil society be in harmony with the will of Him who created us all of one flesh and blood? Does it not cry aloud for melioration ? And although all these evils do not exist in their most aggravated form in this country, yet even here, in our own favored Commonwealth, we have abundant evidence that the great Christian precept, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them," and the corresponding political doctrine of the equality of man, are not duly and practically regarded.
While a munificent Father has most bountifully supplied every thing which can contribute to the comfort and happiness of the great human family, the short-sighted selfishness of his ungrateful and erring children, has so appropriated his bounties and abused his blessings, as to oppress one portion without benefiting another, and to mar the harmony and happiness of the whole. Have we not, then, continually before us, and around us, plenary proof that however the present state of man may compare with his state in former ages, his actual condition in reference to his possible condition shows that there is ample room for improvement and reform.
The identity of the human race and the fraternity of mankind, are the bases of the great religious and political principle of equality. On this the philanthropist and the statesman found their hopes of the progressive improvement of humanity. All men are equal before God. And that state of civil society which approximates the nearest to general equality among its members, is most promotive of contentment and happiness; while that which departs most widely from it, is most productive of evil passions and wretchedness. Where there are some very rich, there will be many very poor. And those civil institutions which have the greatest tendency to prevent or mitigate the extremes of conditions, are the best adapted to secure the high object for which government is instituted—the greatest happiness of the whole.
Perfect equality, moral, social or pecuniary, is not attainable. God created men with unequal physical and intellectual powers, and thereby the better adapted them to the ever varying duties and employments of life. This diversity of talents operating throughout the infinite variety of human affairs, produces the greatest harmony of action; and is doubtless the best calculated to promote the general happiness. Civil institutions should aim to encourage each one faithfully to employ his talents in that sphere of action to which they are best adapted, and in which they will contribute the most to the welfare of himself and his fellow-creatures. And this end can best be attained by securing to every one the fruits of his own industry. This, with an equal distribution of intestate property among