Speeches delivered by Pat M. Neff, Governor of Texas, discussing certain phases of contemplated legislation Page: 9 of 61
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and around the world, in the past half hundred years? The
writers of our present Constitution lived in a world far different from
the world of today. Only by inspiration could they have foretold and
provided, in their Constitution, for the big problems of this big, new
day. All those who wrote it, except two, are no more. The youngest
man who voted for it has now reached life's allotted span. Texas
then had a population of only eight hundred thousand inhabitants.
Now we have five million. All West Texas, now rapidly becoming the
center of wealth and population, was so sparsely settled at that time
that not even one delegate from that vast territory was sent to the
convention that wrote the Constitution under which West Texas now
lives. At that time there was not a town in the State with a population
exceeding fifteen thousand, now we have cities with more than
two hundred thousand inhabitants. At that time there was not an
oil well in Texas, now we are producing and have been for some time,
ten million barrels of oil per month, most of it going out of the State
without paying proper tribute to the government on account of technical
provisions of our present Constitution. At that time we did
not have a mile of improved highway in Texas, now the transportation
problems demand good highways and Texas is seriously handicapped
in building and maintaining good roads on account of the
inhibitions of a fifty-year-old Constitution. Taxes will never be either
equalized or reduced under our present Constitution. "All our good
laws," it has been said, "are unconstitutional."
These pioneer constitutional builders were so circumstanced that
the coming events of this day could not cast their shadows before
them. Who can visualize Texas fifty years from now? The men who
wrote our Constitution never rode across Texas in a Pullman car or
studied beneath an electric light; they never talked over a telephone
or listened to a phonograph; they never used a typewriter or had their
bank account balanced with an adding machine; they never rode in
an automobile, an electric street car, or dreamed of an interurban.
They knew that man could not make a flying machine, and thev
would have been turned out of church for heresy had they believed
in wireless messages or contended that ice could be made in August.
We are living in another age. This is another generation, and Texas
has a higher and broader vision than she could possibly have had a
half century ago. With Galileo we can still say, "the world do move."
Texas must keep pace with it. We stand with uncovered head in the
presence of the matchless and marvelous achievements of science, of
art, of discovery and advancements made in every line in the wide
field of knowledge. Have we made in fifty years no progress in the
science of government? Are we standing with our backs to the future,
worshipping at deserted shrines? Let us with conviction and confidence
and courage face the future. Let us unshackle Texas. Let us
with eyes uplifted and with buoyant hope sing with Lowell:
"New occasions teach new duties;
Time makes ancient good uncouth;
They must upward still, and onward,
Who would keep abreast of truth."
Here’s what’s next.
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Neff, Pat M. Speeches delivered by Pat M. Neff, Governor of Texas, discussing certain phases of contemplated legislation, book, 1923; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth5835/m1/9/: accessed June 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .