100 F. G. YOUNG It was probably fortunate that a constitutional restriction prevented the funding of this floating indebtedness. The ten per cent interest which these warrants bore from the date of indorsement, "not paid for want of funds," increased. by one- half the disbursement necessary to pay these deficits. The Public Treasury a Private Snap for Half-a-Century. The law governing the state treasury administration received only the slightest modification from the time of its enactment at the organization of the state government in 1859 until 1907. "The state treasurer shall keep his office at the seat of government" is the initial provision of this treasury code and it is representative of the ideas embodied in the law as a whole. Hoarding of the state money is made synonymous with its safe-keeping. There was a law on the pages of the statute books that made the loaning, with or without interest, of any public money "larceny." There was no anticipation that the business of the state would expand beyond the capa- city of the leather purse of the treasurer. Even after a treasury surplus had amounted to some $300,000 it did not occur to the "Investigating Commission" of 1870 that the withdrawal of such a sum from the channels of trade in the then isolated and primitive Oregon meant monetary stringency and business embarrassment. This body held that the treasurer who had been found guilty of "depositing" some $200,000 of this surplus with the strongest banks of the state should be punished for "felony." The statute forbidding the loaning of state funds by the treasurer was already a dead letter. 1 Yet when it became an open secret that the state treas- urers were gaining rich swags from this source no sense of public right inspired anyone to move for securing the interest thus earned to the tax-payers who had furnished the prin- cipal. When a system of depositories was provided in 1907 specu- lating schemers were still loth to relinquish the idea of using the treasurer, who was probably beholden to them for elec- i Report of Investigating Commission, 1870, pp. 58-62.
Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/108
This page needs to be proofread.