Page:Quarterlyoforego10oreg 1.djvu/303

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Finances in Oregon.

United States Senate, while financial legislation was either ignored or made the pawn of personal politics, it was not unnatural that they should turn to the device of the popular election of their representatives in the upper house of Congress.

Public Domain — Oregon received liberal grants of public lands. The constitutional provisions pertaining to the disposition of them were in entire accord with those controlling the matter of internal improvements. Here too a let-alone policy toward the work of internal improvements was provided for. The proceeds of the 500,000 acre grant, as well as the payments of five per cent of the net proceeds from the sale of public lands in Oregon by the national government, were to be diverted to the common school fund, if Congress would consent. This fine spirit for the up-building of the youth of the state was not sustained so as to bring full consummation for this purpose. To be sure Congress was slow in granting permission, but I fear its tardiness was due mainly to the fact that the matter was not followed up. Only the more recent remnants of these funds reached the common school fund. The commercial motive overcame the educational in the early seventies.

In entrusting the selection and sale of the lands of the state, and the care of the funds from them, to a board consisting of the governor, secretary of state, and state treasurer, the makers of the constitution no doubt believed that they had executed a fine stroke. It gave these officials some substantial work to do during the infancy of the state. On that score, the constitutional arrangement was justified, but on other grounds it was to cost dearly, and prove a penny-wise-pound-foolish arrangement. It assigned specialized work to political officials elected with reference to fitness for quite different duties. Nor has the vital interest embodied in the different state lands, until quite recently, been placed more permanently in the care of specialists. As the state developed and their distinctive duties engrossed the attention and ener-