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Governor's Message of 1881

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The principle of community of interest, which underlies and pervades the whole economic system of American government, cannot be ignored in a case of this magnitude, nor should there, on the other hand, be any doubt in the public mind as to the justice of application. To prove the interest of the State in the matter, it will probably suffice to demonstrate that it has as much to gain by the successful cure of the debris evil, and much to loss by the failure of all attempts in that direction….Should the Legislature determine to refuse all further aid to the engineering works proposed, and should the debris consequently be permitted to flow on without interruption, we have the judgement of the engineers to the effect that the Sacramento Valley will, at no distant date, be rendered uninhabitable; that the rivers will cease to be navigable; that the Cities of Marysville, Sacramento, and Colusa (the latter by floods), together with the towns in between and around them, will be overwhelmed; and that all practical purposes of producing wealth, and supporting the government, this section of the State will be blotted out….The main duty of the hour – the relief of the State from the perils with which it is now threatened by the results of hydraulic mining – is my chief concern in addressing you….I will conclude by expressing the hope that your honorable bodies may so appreciate the urgency and gravity of the emergency as to adopt legislation which will meet the utmost requirements of the case; which will provide for the prosecution of such remedial works as shall restore the carrying capacity and navigability of our waterways; deliver the farmers of the upper Sacramento from destruction by detritus, and farmers of the lower Sacramento from destruction by floods; enable our rivers to carry their highest floodwaters without injury or danger to the country and the cities past which they flow; preserve the navigability of our river system as highways of commerce; remove all apprehensions concerning the Bay of Suisun and the Harbor of San Francisco; and at the same time permit the continuance of those mining operations which add so largely to the wealth of the community and support so considerable a percentage of the population. (Governor George Perkins’ special message to the California legislature, January 13, 1881)

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