The less tinkering with state laws, the better -- State Journal editorial from 160 years ago

November 18, 2018

This State Journal editorial ran on Nov. 13, 1858, four years after the Republican Party was founded in Ripon:

It is now determined with certainty that the Republicans will have a small but decided majority in both branches of the Legislature, and they will be held responsible for the wisdom or the folly of the legislation of the next session.

The financial condition of the state demands a short and economical session. The less legislation, the better. The less tinkering with the new Revised Statutes, the better. If any member has a private scheme for ameliorating the condition of humanity in general, our advice to him is heroically to keep it private.

The evils of society cannot all be cured by a single act of legislation. Mankind cannot be cured of roguery, dishonesty, crime by mere enactments. The people of Wisconsin will, this season, prefer a session of six weeks in length, with very little legislation, and a light expenditure of money, to a session of four months and the attendant expense, even if the latter should result in a volume of laws as ponderous as Webster’s Dictionary, and as sage as the combined wisdom of the Wisconsin Legislature could be expected to make it.

It is not to be denied that the Democratic members-elect combine a greater amount of legislative experience than the Republican members. The Republicans ... will need to be on their guard continually, as some of their opponents are not only experienced, but wily and unscrupulous.

We have already seen the name of William P. Lyon of Racine mentioned in connection with the office of speaker. He is a strong man and, we have no doubt, would make an excellent presiding officer.

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