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REVIEW OF THE YEAR
The one hundred and forty-fourth year of the
Chamber of Commerce, covering the twelve months from May 1, 1912 to April 30, 1913, was a year of prosperity both for the Chamber and the country. During this period the Chamber reached the full limit of regular membership fixed by the By-laws; it further reduced the debt on its building; it increased its facilities for public work; and it greatly promoted that civic patriotism which is the best guarantee of good government, and commercial development. Always adhering to its ancient policy of keeping to its true path, and of not speaking upon every topic lest it should cease to be heeded upon any, the Chamber has acted upon important subjects with firmness and general effectiveness, invariably inspiring that respect which a sincere expression of conviction creates.
The following is a summary of the Chamber's principal activities during the year:
It urged upon the Congress an appropriation to continue the work of the Efficiency Commission appointed by the President of the United States.
It adopted the report of the Committee on the Harbor and Shipping approving the principle of the marginal freight railway for the west side of Manhattan.
Through its Special Committee on the National Guard and Naval Militia, it has done much to arouse the interest of business men and the public in the National Guard.
It has adopted a report of its Committee on Finance and Currency, the result of a long and through investigation by a sub-committee of experts, urging the complete installation of the City's new accounting system as being vitally necessary for the efficient and economical administration of the city's affairs.
It has protested against so changing the present law as to the General Appraisers, in any way that would lessen their independent judicial position.
It appointed a Special Committee on Workmen's Compensation Legislation, and on its report adopted a series of principles which, in its judgment, should control such legislation in order to make it equitable to labor and capital and all other interests involved.
It devoted a large part of several meetings to a thorough and illuminating debate on the question of free tolls for American coastwise shipping; and the Chamber, finally, by an overwhelming vote, endorsed Senator Root's bill to amend the Panama Canal law by striking out the clause exempting from payment of tolls the coastwise shipping of the United States.
It held two notable receptions, which were largely attended, (a) to the French delegation which came to this country to attend the dedication of the CHAMPLAIN monument ; (b) to the foreign delegates who attended the Fifth International Congress of Chambers of Commerce.
It held its one hundred and forty-fourth annual banquet on November 21st, on which occasion a series of great and striking addresses on public questions of large interest and importance were made by Senator Elihu Root, Mayor GAYNOR, the Honorable JAMES M. Beck and Ex-Senator CHAUNCEY M. DEPEW.
It brought to the attention of the principal Chambers of Commerce of the World the communication received from the Surgeon General of the United States in regard to the necessity of preventative quarantine measures against the spread of rodent plague.
It expressed its appreciation of the report rendered by the arbitrators selected to settle the wage dispute between the Eastern railroads and their engineers.
It opposed the NELSON bill to amend the well known and well established HARTER act relating to the carriage of cargo at sea.
It adopted a painstaking report favoring a municipal freight terminal railroad along the Brooklyn water front.
An instructive address was delivered by GEORGE H. Moses on American trade opportunities in the Levant.
The Chamber urged the renewal of the Arbitration treaty between this country and Great Britain.
It opposed the enactment of the Norris bill, amending the law against combinations in such a way as would unjustly put importers and their agents in danger of the penalty for such combinations, regardless of whether they were engaged in such combinations or not.
It took effective action against three bills in the State Legislature, one being to amend the usury law, another to double the tax on stock sales and the third to incorporate stock exchanges. All three were defeated.
It adopted a report in favor of one cent letter postage.
It opposed the Wilson Seamen’s bill, which if it had passed Congress in the form originally introduced, would have deprived shipowners and shipmasters of adequate power to protect life and property on the high seas.
It successfully advocated the extension of the life of the Metropolitan Sewerage Commission, and its valuable work, in behalf of a better sewerage system for the New York harbor, will be continued.
It favored the transfer of the Nautical School to the jurisdiction of the state ; and this action has been taken by the Legislature.
It appointed a special committee to conduct an inquiry into the question of the advisability of limiting the height of buildings.
It adopted a report outlining the principles which should control the policy of the state in the establishment of a highway system for whichi bonds must be issued in large amount.
It disapproved the CULLEN-WALKER bill which would take from the office of the Commissioner of Docks the initiative and functions now pertaining thereto and vest them in the Board of Estimate.
It opposed the POLLOCK-Elsner bills whose purpose was to remove the restrictions that the lands opposite and parallel to Riverside Park shall be used only for park purposes and to permit their use for commercial purposes.
It adopted the report of the Committee on Finance and Currency disapproving the so-called “ blue sky” bill in relation to the supervision of investment companies. This bill failed of passage.
It opposed the MURTAUGH bill to amend the conservation law by enacting a new article in relation to hydro-electric plants. This bill was vetoed by the Governor.
It urged the passage of legislation to give to the Board of Water Supply the power to protect the Catskill water shed against pollution.
Its Committee on Commercial Education recommended that all legislation affecting the public school system be postponed until there has been an investigation and report thereon. The veto by Governor SULZER of the McKEE bills intended to change radically the administration of the schools, was in line with the Chamber's recommendation.
The Rapid Transit Committee submitted a report reviewing the long and finally successful negotiations for the building of new subways, in which this committee took an influential part. On its request the committee was then discharged with a vote of thanks.
The Committee on Finance and Currency was instructed to enquire into and report upon, the administrative features of the proposed income tax.
The Chamber held a great meeting in memorial of the late John PIERPONT MORGAN.
The Chamber's Arbitration Committee aided in the settlement of a large number of mercantile disputes by arbitration and conciliation and it assisted in the negotiations for the ending of the strike in the clothing trade.
The Chamber raised a considerable sum of money during the spring of 1913, for the relief of the sufferers by the floods in Ohio and adjoining states.
The two biggest problems confronting the City SUBWAYS AND of New York during the past year have been,
first, the development of rapid transit facilities and, second, the development of its port facilities. In the solution of both of these great problems the Chamber of Commerce has taken an active,
effective and honorable part. After long negotiations, the contracts for the building of subways, by the joint effort of municipal and private credit and involving the expenditure during the next few years of the largest sum ever appropriated for any project by any city at any period of time in any part of the world. This result was accomplished along lines that were in large part suggested by the Chamber's Committee on Rapid Transit, and with its conclusion the Rapid Transit Committee considered its work at an end and asked to be discharged. It received the thanks of the Chamber for its notable services for the city.
The vast drain upon the city's credit entailed by the enormous cost of the new subways has, unfortunately, left an inadequate sum to be expended in the needed development of the city's terminal facilities. Nevertheless, notable progress has been made in this regard. The problem of constructing long piers adequate for the new expansion in the size of ocean steamships is in a fair way of solution and the Sinking Fund Commission has approved plans for a 1000 foot pier at Fortysixth Street. During the past year the Chamber's Committee on the Harbor and Shipping has made valuable contributions to the discussion of the port problems and these reports in favor of the principle of the marginal freight railway on the west side of Manhattan, and in favor of a municipal terminal railroad along the Brooklyn water front, have pointed the way to what promises to be in the main the municipal action.
Another municipal problem to which the ChamMUNICIPAL
A ber has given attention during the past year has ACCOUNTING.
been that of the accounting methods of the city. After a long and searching examination by a sub-committee of experts, the Chamber's Committee on Finance and Currency reported in favor of a speedy and complete installation of the new accounting system introduced into the finance and other departments of the city. This is advocated on the ground that a sound method of accounting is vitally essential to economic and efficient administration of city affairs. In addition to advocating this system of accounting, the Chamber also put itself upon record in favor of the plan for a central bureau of pur