Слике страница

must ultimately be raised by direct tax, unless the General Government shall aid in its liquidation. It is, therefore, of the highest importance that the people should be relieved, as far as is consistent with the general welfare, from the pressure of exactions during the intermediate period. We appreciate that ours is a common interest, and wish nothing for New York, not equally advantageous to others, nor that would bear with severity or prejudice upon the national good name and credit. Heavy taxes retard enterprise and growth, and thereby diminish the ability of the people to contribute to the public demands. Guided by this admitted truth, the General and State governments will so frame their revenue systems, as to meet all obligations by gradual and easy methods. The debt of the former does not exceed three thousand millions of dollars. It is less upon population than the debt of Great Britain, and hardly more than that of several countries of the old world, which have far less ability for payment than our own. The material wealth of our country is so vast, and the growth of our industry so rapid, as to insure our ability to meet every demand; but it is nevertheless of first importance, that it should be so distributed, through a period of years, as not to depress the enterprise of the people. Our varied industry, our profitable commerce, and our undeveloped resources, bewilder even the careful observer with their immensity and value. If the increase of population is an addition to the actual capital of a country during the period antecedent to dense settlement and matured resources, what remarkable ability our country will exhibit with the present century. Well-accredited estimates set down the entire population of the United States at about one hundred millions in the year 1900. This is upon a ratio which gives for the year 1870 about forty-two millions two hundred and fifty thousand, and for 1865, say thirty-five millions five hundred thousand; the population given by the census of 1860, being, in round numbers, thirty-one millions. Thirty-four years hence we are, therefore, to expect three times as many people in the country as there

The total area, including inland water surface, of the United States, is about three and a quarter millions of square miles. So, in a little more than one generation, we are to become three times as numerous, which is still far below the dense population of Europe. No cause can be assigned for ordinary periods of peace, to disappoint these enormous figures; they are deductions drawn from our wonderful and unfailing ratio of increase since 1790, and the same powerful incentives will continue to operate, so long as our lands and products are so inviting and profitable. This increase of wealth and population involves but the same steady progress which our country has always exbibited. Can it be possible, in view of these considerations, that, from such modification, the internal revenue will fall below the requisite amount for the ordinary claims upon it, or that the national credit will suffer?

Considerable progress has been made in the adjustment of our claims against the United States for military expenditures in the early part of the late war. The amount of this claim, up to July, 1862, and inclusive of $131,188.02, paid as interest on temporary loans, was $2,948,963.66. In December, 1861, the Secretary of the Treasury paid to the State the sum of $1,113,000 pending the presentation of the vouchers, and leaving a balance of $1,835,963,66, due and unpaid. In February, 1862, a special

a agent was sent to Washington with the vouchers for the entire amount, and up to May, 1865, no part of it had been audited and allowed. Discouraged by the tardy progress, the late Comptroller discharged the agent, and further efforts to secure a settlement were for a time abandoned. In September, 1865, I obtained $262, 763.17, which was paid into the

are now.

State Treasury, and I subsequently requested a return of the disallowed accounts, in order that their informalities might, if possible, be remedied. During the past year the papers were received, accompanied by voluminous statements of differences and causes of rejection, and were placed in the hands of the Quartermaster general, with directions to thoroughly revise them, and if practicable, satisfy the requirements of the auditing bureau of the United States Treasury. This officer, with the necessary assistants, detailed from other military departments, has made careful investigation of records and papers, conferred with officers on duty during the period of expenditure, and in every proper way prosecuted the inquiry. The labor of examination and research has been rendered especially arduous by the lapse of time since the original expenditures, and it is gratifying that so much progress has been made in the face of so many difficulties. The accounts, so far as amended with full and comprehensive statements, have within the last few days, been presented to the United States Treasury Department, and there is reason to believe that, even under the rigid rules of the Auditor, a large proportion will be allowed. It is evident, however, that several hundred thousand dollars will remain suspended, and I would again recommend such legislation as will secure a joint commission on the part of the State and General Government, to which these accounts may be referred for final decision.

The expenditures from the State treasury, under the act of April 15, 1861, were made under extraordinary circumstances. The board of State officers to whom the fund was entrusted, were prompted by the sole purpose of furnishing the General Government with troops efficiently organized and equipped. The authorities at Washington, absorbed in the stupendous labors precipitated upon them by the exigencies of the war, were able to render but little assistance by advice, and the early calls for volunteers were accompanied only by general directions relating to the subject of organization. No appropriation for expenses in raising volunteers was made by Congress until August 5, 1861, and the first orders of the War Department prescribing regulations in regard to such expenses, were puplished September 3d of that year, four months after the disbursements of the State commenced. The State Military Board had no definite guide, and were constrained to adopt such rules as suggested by the best military authority, and as appeared to them proper under the circumstances. "Encouraged by the nature of the dispatches from the War Department, which conferred upon the Governor discretionary power in raising volunteers, it was presumed that these accounts would be paid without question. No method of adjustment remains, except such as may be secured by a commission, to which may be safely confided the interests of both State and General Governments, with the assurance that a final decision will accord with the demands of equity, irrespective of technical inaccuracy and formal regulations.

In this connection, I may also refer to the accounts paid by the State under chapters three hundred and ninety-seven and four hundred and twenty-one, Laws of 1862, which provide that such accounts shall be presented by the Governor to the proper officers of the United States for reimbursement. These claims amount to over three hundred thousand dollars, and as similar informalities may be urged against them, the advantage of a joint commission to settle all unadjusted claims arising out of the late war is rendered more obvious.

PRISONS AND CRIME. The Inspectors of the State Prisons report that, on the thirteenth of September last, the total number of convicts in the several prisons was

two thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight, of whom one hundred and fifty-nine were females, and seventy insane. The earnings and expenditures for the fiscal year ending at that time were as follows:

Earnings. Sing Sing prison, for males....

$125,704 32 " females

4,829 01 Auburn prison..

97,734 91 Clinton

193,376 56


Total ....

$421,644 80


At Sing Sing male prison

[ocr errors]

$220,259 36

female " Auburn prison " Clinton “ Convict insane asylum

27,149 13 134,001 73 191,640 90 15,937 15

Total ....

$588,988 27

During the year the number of convicts have increased nine hundred and fifteen, while the excess of the expenditures over the receipts is considerably less than the previous annual statement exhibits. The aggregate value of all the prison property is estimated at $2,166,969.17.

This interesting and able report of the Inspectors shows a fair condition of internal management and discipline. In my judgment however, the entire prison system should be removed from the fluctuations of political organizations, and a permanent and more efficient policy instituted. Under existing conditions, there is a want of uniformity in administration, as the rules adopted by one board of inspectors are liable to innovation and change from their successors in office. The practice of letting convict labor to contractors, judged by the tests of experience, is subject to serious objections, while the experiment now in operation at Clinton prison furnishes ground for believing that this class of industry may be successfully utilized by the State.

I am informed that the report of the Prison Association, soon to be submitted to you, will contain much authentic and valuable information upon this branch of the public interest. The views of the distinguished gentlemen comprising the corporation are certainly entitled to great respect, and it is presumed their efforts for the perfection of our prison code will have an important influence upou future legislation.

It may be safely assumed that a system of prison management and discipline devised at the time of the adoption of our present Constitution, is now capable of many reforms. In view of its revision, I am encouraged to indicate a division of executive duties connected with this branch of administration, suggested alike by experience and reflection. The Governor is now vested with the exclusive power of granting “reprieves, commutations and pardons after conviction, for all offenses except treason and cases of impeachment.” In our early history, executive jurisdiction over the various public interests was comparatively limited, and his duties were not essentially enlarged in the exercise of this prerogative. Each successive year, however, has augmented the labors of every department of State government, and in the rapid development of our material wealth and the growth of population, the scope of executive action has also enlarged. Crime, I regret to say, has pro


gressed in a somewhat corresponding ratio, and the capacity of our prisons is overtaxed to receive those who have incurred its penalties. Appeals for clemency are now so numerous and importunate that this branch of official duty alone claims a large share of the time and attention of the Governor. Many of these cases are complicated by difficult questions of legal construction, the weight of evidence, or the measure of justice, constantly demanding examination and decision. It is my opinion that the pardoning power should be delegated to a co-operative boreau, or so distributed as to relieve the Governor of the sole responsibility of investigation.

Allow me to direct your attention to the complaint which has reached me from many sources, of laxity in the prosecution of indictments and the enforcement of the legal penalties of disorder and crime. Under the provision of our statutes, conviction and punishment are partially controlled by the prosecuting attorney, and the results are often dependent npon his will or his caprice, while he is almost entirely absolved from that close supervision which tends to exact a strict discharge of official trusts. It is due to interests so vital to the order and welfare of society, that legislative protection against any abuses of this character that may exist, should be applied.

NEW CAPITOL. Chapter six hundred and forty-eight of the Laws of 1865, authorized the appointment of a board of commissioners for the erection of a new Capitol, upon compliance with certain conditions by the city of Albany. The requirement was promptly and liberally fulfilled by the city authorities, and a valuable site was conveyed to the State for the purposes contemplated Commissioners were appointed, and plans and specifications have been procured.' These plans will doubtless receive the early approval of the Commissioners of the Land Office, as provided, which will complete the work of preparation. It is proper that this enterprise, 80 creditable to the State and so important to the comfort and necessities of the several branches of State administration, should be promptly and successfully prosecuted. To this end, I recommend that an appropriation be made.

PUBLLIC CHARITIES. The various charitable institutions of the State for the care and relief of the insane, the idiotic, the deaf and dumb, and the blind, exhibit a gratifying condition of usefulness. Their claims for generous recognition will doubtless be met by that spirit of enlightened appreciation which has hitherto enabled them to respond to the humane purposes for which they were founded.

For some years past, the State has made large annual appropriations to aid in the support of orphan asylums, hospitals, homes for the friendless and other charitable institutions. No adequate provision, however, has been made by law for the inspection of these and other corporations of a like character, holding their charters under the State, or for any effectual inquiry into their operations and management. There are a great number of these institutions, and the amount contributed for their support by public authorities and by public benevolence is large, and so many persons—the aged, the helpless, the infirm and the young-fall under their care, that I deem it expedient that the State should exercise a reasonable degree of supervision over them. To this end, I recomDead the appointment of a board of commissioners, in such manner as the Legislature may deem proper, to serve without compensation, but whose actual expenses should be paid, and to be invested with such powers and charged with such duties, to effect the object in view, as may be thought judicious. I have no doubt that gentlemen of high character and conceded qualifications can be found in every part of the State, whose public spirit would induce them to serve on such a commission. Through this intelligent and reliable source, accurate information could also be obtained as to whether these charities afforded adequate assistance for the destitute children of soldiers who perished in the war for the Union. Should the present means of relief prove unequal to the needs of all this deserving class, it will be recognized as a paramount duty to make immediate and ample provision; and the board could doubtless devise a plan which, in its scope and essential features, would receive general acceptance, and meet every want of the helpless and unfortunate.

Unhappy differences exist in regard to the management of the Inebriate Asylum, and an investigation is asked by its board of trustees, with a view to their adjustment and the early resumption of the good objects which characterized the enterprise.

Under the authority conferred by chapter 587, Laws of 1865, trustees were appointed to locate the Institution of the Blind. The citizens of Batavia, in a spirit of great liberality, furnished to the State a large and eligible site. In March last, commissioners were named to proceed with the construction of the buildings, and considerable progress bas been made under their practical and efficient management. The same act provided for the purchase or lease of a building, suitable for the care and education of the blind, to be occupied until the plan was fully developed. The trustees selected for this purpose were experienced and eminent men, and in their good judgment, a structure at Binghamton was leased for three years, with the privilege of purchase. It has been fitted up with generous regard for the interests contemplated, but at greater expense than was anticipated, and now only awaits the purchase of heating and other apparatus, to complete it for occupancy. The building and grounds, the excellence and abundance of water, and the health of the locality, furnish strong arguments in favor of this also being made a permanent location. The needs of this class of unfortunate people are quite equal to the ordinary capacity of two institutions. Besides, it is quite well established that the conditions upon which success is founded, in the management of the blind, require separate institutions; one for intellectual culture and education, and the other for the prosecution of mechanical work. I understand that the owner of the Binghamton property is willing to sell to the State at a reasonable price, and I recommend the matter to your thoughtful consideration and favor.

The Willard Asylum building for the insane, at Ovid, is progressing well. The commissioners in charge, notwithstanding the difficulty in obtaining at all times the quantity and quality of materials desired, have advanced the work with commendable dispatch and economy.

The commissioners appointed to locate the Hudson River Asylum for the Insane have accepted a site offered by the citizens of Poughkeepsie. Hospitals for the care and cure of the insane are a present peed of the State. As shown by the able report of the late Dr: Willard, there were in 1864, in the poorhouses of the State, one thousand three hundred and forty-five of this unfortunate class. The ratio of incurables is steadily increasing, for the want of greater public accommodation for the early treatment of mental disease. It is the opinion of eminent medical authority, that "in a perfect state of things, where the best appliances which the science and skill of the age 'have provided for healing, are offered to the lunatics in as early a stage of their malady as they are to

« ПретходнаНастави »