Editor’s Note: These two excerpts from Governor Vardaman’s inauguration speech of 1904 are taken from a manuscript titled “The Way of Human Progress.” The author and date of this material is undetermined. This manuscript is in the Mississippi Archives.

 

    The method of development of this common man is the open door of opportunity, the challenge to accept the duty and responsibility of government. In his magnificent inaugural message, Vardaman made this clear. He said in part -

    "There is no danger in falsehood-false doctrines, conscienceless and irresponsible error are harmless, the poisonous tongue of the sanctimonious, mercenary and sectarian partisan, the machinations of the artful demagogue the cunning of the diplomatic office seeker, all are absolutely impotent and inocsous, just so long as truth is untrammeled and the source of all political power rests with and is vouchsafed by lax in the hands of the white people of Mississippi.
   Too much authority and power cannot be reposed in the people.
   Every citizen should understand that with his ballot the laws of the land are written-that the government is just as good as he is, and that in the proportion that he is wise and just in the exercise of the supreme function of citizenship, so will the laws of his state be wise and just in their operations.
   The ability to govern one's self, to perform properly the sovereign functions of citizenship in a republic, is greatly enhanced by practice. The fact is, it required many centuries of tutelage in the right school of experience to bring the Anglo-Saxon race-the only self-governing race of modern times-to its present condition of superiority. It is the result of the evolution of ages the education of the generations, and can only be pushed forward or maintained by the agencies that have been employed In the past. I an in favor of putting in the hands of the people as much power in the government of the State as can be exercised without impairing the facility in administering its affairs. Responsibility produces confidence and capacity. It awakens an intelligent and patriotic self-interest the foundation stone of all free government and social organization-begets and encourages civic :ride, and inspires the citizen with the truth that he is the source of all political power as his labor is source of all material wealth"

   Education was one service vigorously urged for the

people by the state. In the inaugural message he said:


   "One of the most national and profitable duties of a free government, it seems to me, is to educate its children. Education means only the development of the good there is in man, the vitalizing, of those dormant forces build and complete the potential moral entity called character. It is a wise economy in this that if a man or a citizen be made better by education the government will share his improvement, and the enlightened moral sentiment will write the laws of the land. But when I speak of the government educating its children I wish it understood that I do not mean that it is the duty or the hope of the State to give every boy and girl a technical education or a course at college. This is practically impossible. We have colleges and universities which the State must maintain, and maintain properly, but the first, the paramount duty of the State is to provide means of giving instruction, at least, in the rudimentary branches, to those children whose peculiar y environment and impecunious condition render it impossible for them to get it any other way,
   "If the State will place at the door of all her children an opportunity to obtain even a common school education, such as is given in the best graded public schools, she will have done well."

 

Original Document