Public Papers and Letters of Oliver Max Gardner: Governor of North Carolina, 1929-1933

By Edwin Gill; David Leroy Corbitt | Go to book overview

members of the legal profession. I, therefore, welcome this opportunity to address you because, more than perhaps any other one class or profession of our citizenry, you have the power to influence the progress and shape the future of North Carolina.

I want you to think with me today about one or two reforms in county government which I think worthy of serious consideration by our people in advance of the meeting of the next General Assembly. In addition to this, I wish to suggest and, within the limits of the time at my disposal, say something about what I shall call, for want of a better descriptive term, the philosophy of government in an enlightened, modern commonwealth. I shall deal with the latter topic first, not only because I deem it better in this instance to proceed from the general to the specific, but because, as I shall hope presently to demonstrate, there exists between the subjects of governmental purposes and objectives and governmental reform a direct and compelling relationship or connection.

There has come about in this State in the past twenty-five years--and in the whole country for that matter--a most striking change in the popular conception of the purpose and function of government. When the Constitution of the United States was adopted and for a hundred years thereafter, I suppose nine people out of ten looked upon the state and federal governments primarily as instrumentalities for the regulation and control of antisocial conduct. The purpose of government, according to this view, was to suppress crime, regulate interstate commerce, provide courts for the adjustment of the conflicting civil interests of citizens, and provide for the common defense. Even so vital a matter in a democracy as the education of the people was long regarded as a local problem to be dealt with according to the inclination, particular needs, and financial ability of the people in the community directly

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