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seventy-five discharged their cargoes under quarantine, being but little over one per cent of the whole number of arrivals from foreign ports during the year.
Seventy of the vessels thus detained were found to have had cases or yellow fever on board, and from these, eighteen patients were sent to West Bank Hospital. Besides these, 205 cases and fifty-one deaths from this disease had occurred on board of these vessels, either at their port of departure or during the passage.
For the five years, ending December 31st, 1870, the total number of vessels which arrived with small-pox on board, was one hundred and forty-two; while, during the past year, there have been one hundred and forty-seven vessels, having on board an aggregate of 80,428 persons who had been exposed to this disease during the passage. The number of cases of small-pox reported to have occurred on these vessels, was three hundred and forty-two, of which two hundred and ninety three were taken to hospital from quarantine. Of these, owing to the crowded state of the municipal institutions on Blackwell's Island, it was found necessary to send a number of patients suffering from small-pox to West Bank Hospital.
Seven vessels only have had cases of ship-fever on board during the past year. On these the number of persons exposed to the disease was 3,778, of whom eight were sent to the fever hospital on Ward's Island.
Three vessels from infected districts have had cases of cholera on the passage to this port; and from these, fifty-two patients suffering from the disease, were treated at the West Bank hospital. The total number of cases of cholera occurring among the passengers and crews of these vessels, was 156; and the number of persens exposed to the disease, 1,432. Of these, forty-three died at sea and twelve in quarantine.
At the West Bank hospital the total number of patients suffering from cholera, small-pox and yellow fever, received during the past year, was 132, of whom 109 recovered and twenty-three died.
The absence of buildings upon the upper structure at West Bank, for the reception of persons who have been exposed to contagious and infectious diseases during the voyage to this port, was temporarily provided for by the transfer of the steamships Delaware and Albany, from the general government to the quarantine department. These vessels were anchored at quarantine in the month of September, and in the case of the steamship Franklin, which arrived on November 11th, with cholera on board, were of the greatest utility in affording facilities for the immediate transfer of the passengers from the infected vessels. The favorable results which followed this transfer, are said by the health officer, to prove the importance of completing at once, the structures contemplated at West Bank.
The foregoing statistics demonstrate the necessity for a thorough administration of quarantine laws. The immunity which the city and State of New York have enjoyed during the past year from the introduction of contagious and infectious diseases from abroad may justly be ascribed to the precautions adopted. All abuses, if any be found, should be remedied, but the inconvenience to a few, by the detention imposed upon only one vessel out of a hundred, is not to be weighed against the protection afforded to the people in the cities of New York and Brooklyn, and of the State, against infectious diseases.
There have been for many years, and under all administrations, complaints in the press against the health officer, and also against the har
bor-masters of the port of New York. No proof has been adduced before me of maladministration on the part of the present officers. In one instance, prior to December 15, 1871, charges were preferred against a harbor-master, which were withdrawn. On the 15th of Decem
ber, 1871, charges were preferred in another case, which are now under examination. In the case of the health officer, one complaint has been laid before me. Although the law gave me no power in the matter, the health officer promptly responded to my request for explanations; the complaint was found to be connected, not with his office proper, nor with his fees, but with certain rates established for contributions to the support of the hospitals at quarantine; and the injustice complained of was promptly cured. Under the law, as it was established in 1863, and as it now stands, the Governor has no power to remove the health officer (and appoint another), even after a formal investigation, during the recess of the Senate; the period of the year when, if ever, abuses are likely to occur. I recommend that the Governor be empowered to appoint the health officer and harbor-masters, including the captain of the port, without the consent of the Senate; and to remove them or any of them at pleasure. A prompt remedy would then be provided against abuses without the delay incident to a formal investigation.
In the single instance of the presentation to me of charges against the health officer, I took the occasion, in referring the matter to the commissioners of quarantine, to request them to inquire into alleged abuses in quarantine administration, giving merchants and others opportunity of being heard. I have received their report, dated December 11th, 1871, which, with a communication from the health officer relating thereto, will be duly transmitted to the Legislature for its information.
It is proper to say, that if citizens who know of and can prove official misconduct on the part of public officers, fail to present the charges and proofs to the Governor, the responsibility for continued abuses rests upon them. The Governor, in such matters, acts in a quasi-judicial capacity, and he cannot, any more than can a court, entertain charges made simply through the public press.
Nor should it be forgotten, that if extra compensation is paid to harbor-masters, it may be too often due to the eagerness of owners and consignees of vessels to get the advantage, one over another, in the occupancy of wharves.
The Governor is always ready to do his duty, and to remove a guilty party when he has the power. Merchants and others fail to do theirs, when any of them pay a bribe to a public officer, or neglect to expose and bring to justice whoever demands or accepts one.
I recommend a thorough examination of the official acts of the health officer and harbor-masters, and such amendments to existing laws, as may be necessary to put an end to such evils as may be shown to exist.
The number of arrivals of immigrants in the port of New York this year is two hundred and twenty-nine thousand, an increase, as compared with last year, of seventeen thousand.
REVISION OF STATUTES.
A report from the commissioners for revising the statutes may be expected at an early day in the session, showing what progress has thus far been made in their work.
The surplus revenues of the canals, for the past year, have been nearly double those of the previous year, although, for four months of the year 1870, the former higher rates of toll prevailed; the contribution to the sinking fund, for the fiscal year ending 30th September last, being $981,588 68 against $569,974.61 contributed the year before. The expenditures have been materially reduced. The official reports of the Comptroller and Auditor will show the details of expenditure and revenue. It is the unanimous testimony of those engaged in business upon them that the canals are in better order than at any previous period. My opinions as to the true policy of the State, with reference to its canals, have been so fully expressed in three successive annual messages, that it is not necessary here to repeat them. The policy of low tolls, which, when first recommended, met with strong opposition, is now, by general consent, admitted to be wise. The season of navigation of 1871 was fifteen days shorter than that of 1870, yet there was an increase of tolls to the extent of $487,722.78.
I have received a letter from the President of the United States, calling my attention to the twenty-seventh article of the recent treaty between Great Britain and the United States, which article is in these words, to wit:
"ARTICLE XXVII.-The government of her Britannic majesty engages to urge upon the government of the Dominion of Canada to secure to the citizens of the United States the use of the Welland, St. Lawrence, and other canals in the Dominion, on terms of equality with the inhabitants of the Dominion; and the government of the United States engages that the subjects of her Britannic majesty shall enjoy the use of the St. Clair Flats canal on terms of equality with the inhabitants of the United States, and further engages to urge upon the State governments to secure to the subjects of her Britannic majesty the use of the several State canals connected with the navigation of the lakes or rivers traversed by or contiguous to the boundary line between the possessions of the high contracting parties, on terms of equality with the inhabitants of the United States."
The President requests such legislation on the part of this State as may be necessary to carry out, on our canals, this provision of the treaty. My impression is that nothing exists in our State laws, now, to forbid the subjects of another country using our canals on terms of full equality with the citizens of the United States. I recommend an inquiry on your part on this point, and the prompt passage of any laws which may be necessary for the fulfillment of the undertaking made by the federal government.
The disastrous fire at Chicago destroyed the valuable public law library of that city. It was always open to the free use of members of the bar from other States, and contained complete sets of the reports of this State and of its statutes, as well as those of other States and Great Britain. Upon being informed of this loss by a committee of the bar of Chicago, engaged in the work of restoring the library, and upon their application for such assistance as this State could give, I took the responsibility, in view of the intimate business relations existing between the States of Illinois and New York, of causing to be sent to them the statutes, the reports and the digests of this State, complete, as a donation
rom New York, knowing that the need was pressing for the work of restoration being promptly effected. In doing this, I was careful not to incur any liability in behalf of the State. I, nevertheless, respectfully ask that you make an appropriation to cover the cost of this gift. Some of the books having been furnished by the State Library, from extra copies in their possession, the total amount expended will not exceed sixteen hundred dollars.
Full rights of inheritance are accorded to the children of American male citizens, without reference to the nationality of the mother, although the children be born abroad; while the children of an American woman married to an alien, are, if they be born abroad, denied like rights. I recommend that the disability of the latter class of persons to inherit be removed by statute.
I suggest, for your careful consideration, especially in view of the several treaties made between the United States and foreign governments, in respect to naturalization and expatriation, whether it would not be wise to remove all disabilities of aliens relating to the acquisition, possession, and transmission of real estate. In several of the States of the Union these disabilities no longer exist, and in England they were removed by statute passed May 12, 1870, the day before the date when the treaty between England and the United States, relating to naturalization, was signed. If you should pass a law removing all these disabilities, the suggestion last made, with reference to children born abroad of American women, will have become unimportant.
I recommend to your consideration the subject of alleged abuses under the referee system in our courts, with a view to providing a remedy, by law, for such abuses as may be found to exist.
The statutes providing for the election of Senators, in case of vacancies occurring otherwise than by expiration of term, are defective. The defect was brought to public notice by the death of Senator Blood, just before the last session of the Senate. I called the attention of the Legislature in my last annual message to the necessity of amending the laws in this respect, but they failed to supply the defect. I recommend prompt action by you on this subject.
I recommend, as I did last year, the putting an end, by law, to the hardship and injustice frequently inflicted upon persons who are detained as witnesses to the commission of crime. The suffering resulting from this, especially in cities, is very great and extends to many unfortunate persons, who are too poor to give security for their appearance to testify. The law should provide that no person shall be detained in prison as a witness in criminal cases beyond a specified time, and that, if the trial be postponed beyond that time on the motion of the prisoner, it shall be only on condition of his consenting that the testimony of the witness may be taken de bene esse, as in civil cases. It may be urged that the people may not be ready to bring on a trial, and may thus, in some cases, lose the benefit of the witnesses altogether. It is better so than to have innocent persons suffer imprisonment in order that even the guilty may be convicted.
I recommend, for the third time, that power be conferred upon the Oyer and Terminer, or upon the Supreme Court at General Term, to grant new trials upon the merits or upon newly discovered evidence, in cases of conviction before the Oyer and Terminer. The courts of sessions, which are inferior tribunals, have this power in cases of conviction [SENATE JOURNAL.]
before them. A person wrongfully convicted in the Oyer and Terminer, no matter how clear his innocence may be shown by newly discovered evidence, has no remedy save a pardon from the executive.
I recommend that the laws relating to the insane be revised. As they are now, any two justices of the peace, upon the certificate of two physicians, may deprive a man of his liberty on the ground of lunacy, and order him to be confined in a lunatic asylum. A bill was passed, at the last session of the Legislature, upon this subject, but some of its provisions seemed to me to be objectionable, and it was generally objectionable, in that its operation was limited to the city of New York. these reasons I withheld my approval from it. There can be no doubt that there is room for great abuses under the law, as it stands. I recommend that all physicians who may grant certificates of lunacy, and all magistrates, who issue an order of commitment to an asylum, be required, under heavy penalties, to report their action at once to the county judge of the county within which the order was made, and that all superintendents of public and private lunatic asylums, be required, under like penalties, to report forthwith the arrival of every patient at their respective establishments, to the county judge of the county whence the patient was sent; that the county judge be required to investigate the case, summarily, and confirm or annul the proceedings; and that he be empowered, at any time, on his own motion or on the application of any one interested in the alleged lunatic, to re-open the hearing of a case, and to conduct such rehearing, with or without the aid of a jury, as to him may seem best, and thereupon, in his discretion, to discharge the alleged lunatic. Whether any amendments to existing laws relating to the State asylums for the insane be found necessary by you or not, I recommend that private lunatic asylums be brought under some system of licensing by the public authorities. The Legislature should provide for their supervision and frequent visitation. Inasmuch as the State permits the detention of insane persons in such private institutions, it is right that the same watchful care should be exercised over persons confined in them as over those in our public hospitals.
For the fourth time, I recommend an amendment of the laws relating to murder. Instances of homicide occur where intent to take life is proved, but where the facts are such that the jury are unwilling to find a verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree, because the peculiar facts do not warrant the extreme penalty of death. They cannot, under our present statutes, define the case as one of murder in the second degree. They are driven, therefore, to either acquit or render a verdict of guilty of manslaughter in the third or fourth degree, although conscious that the light penalty awarded by the law to these two degrees of crime is very inadequate. I recommend that either the maximum punishment for manslaughter in the third degree be made much greater, or that when the degree of premeditation does not, or other facts do not, in the judg ment of the jury, justify punishment by death, they be authorized to render a verdict of murder in the second degree, to be punished by imprisonment for life, or for a term of years, in the discretion of the court. It is no valid objection to the above amendment that, under it, juries would have too great discretion in the matter of enforcing the death penalty. They exercise that discretion now, in many instances, and do so with the law as it stands, at the cost of rendering a verdict not satisfactory to themselves, and of allowing a very serious crime to go