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but it was surrendered to the English in 1674 by treaty. It then remained an English province, ruled by Governors named by the English kings, until 1775 when the war of American independence freed the State from English domination. Upon July 9, 1776, the State of New York was formally organized at a meeting, in White Plains, of the representatives of its people. Upon April 20, 1777, the State Assembly adopted the first Constitution and General George Clinton was elected Governor. New York city was early captured by an English army but was vacated by them on November 25, 1783. The State thenceforward, freed from foreign rule, has elected its own Governors. The population of the State has steadily increased, as is evident from the following table:
The Constitution of the State adopted in 1777 naturally had for its model English institutions; there was an executive, two legislative chambers, local county courts, as probate judges, a Supreme Court charged with the administration of the common law and a Court of Chancery. The final appellate jurisdiction in law and equity was vested in the Senate. Religious liberty was secured by this Constitution, and the people were declared to be the only source of power. Under this Constitution the Assembly was given an indirect power over appointments by a provision which authorized it to select a council of appointment from the Senators, and that in this council the Governor of the State was to have "a casting voice but no other vote." Several
Governors claimed the right of nomination under this provision, but after some dispute he was definitely deprived of it by a Constitutional Convention in 1801, which declared that any member of the council had the right to make nominations. The chancellor and judges of the Supreme Court were associated with the Governor as a council of revision, to which was given a qualified veto in place of the absolute veto formerly possessed by the colonial Governors and the king of England. The Constitutional Convention of 1821 also considered the subject of legislative apportionment, and declared that there should be thirty-two Senators and 100 Assemblymen, and that the number of the latter were to be increased after each census at the rate of two yearly until they should reach the number of 150.
In 1821 there was a thorough revision of the Constitution, and the power of the Governor was greatly increased. When the State was created there was a fear he might assume kingly func tions, and therefore he was deprived substantially of the power of appointment to office and of other powers which would make him a responsible officer. But it was learned between 1777 and 1821 that power must be centered somewhere. The council of revision had exercised the power of veto contrary to the spirit of the Constitution, and holding office "on good behavior," were able to defeat the will of the people as expressed through the Legislature. The council of appointment also was unpopular, having summoned its appointees before it for examination as to charges against them, although not clothed with any judicial powers. With substantial unanimity all the civil, judicial and military officers of the State were appointed by the council: 8,287 military and 6,663 civil officers holding their commissions from it in 1821.
The Constitutional Convention of 1821 abolished the council of revision, and transferred its powers to the Governor. It also abolished the council of appointment, and provided that the
State department officers should be elected by the Legislature. Other officers were to be appointed by the Governor "by and with the advice and consent of the Senate." The Constitution of 1821 also changed the term of office of the Governor from three years to two years, and provided that no person should be eligible to the office who was not a native citizen of the United States, a freeholder of the age of 30 years, and a resident of the State for five years. The power to prorogue the Legislature, which had been exercised by Governor Tompkins, was not conferred. The same Constitution extended the elective franchise.
In 1846, still another Constitutional Convention was held; it being felt that the power of the Governor and of the Senate had become too great. The new Constitution of 1846, therefore, transferred to the people the election of a large proportion of the officers hitherto appointed by the Legislature, or by the Governor and Senate. The Constitution of 1846 also made important changes in the judiciary system of the State. Thus the Court of Chancery was abolished and its powers were vested in the Supreme Court. A Court of Appeals was also organized under the Constitution of 1846, composed of eight judges, four chosen by the electors of the State for a term of eight years, and four selected from the class of justices of the Supreme Court having the shortest term to serve. The judges elected by the people were so classified also that an election of one such judge took place every odd year. The judge elected by the State at large having the shortest term to serve acted as chief judge.
At various times proposed amendments to the Constitution, adopted by the Legislature, were submitted to the Legislature. Thus in 1846 and again in 1860 a proposed amendment to the Constitution giving, the right of suffrage to colored citizens was rejected by the voters. In 1864, by the decisive vote of 258,795 to 48,079 an amendment permitting the soldiers of the State of
New York absent from the State defending the nation in the war of the rebellion to vote was adopted.
In 1867 another Constitutional Convention was held, but every article of the proposed Constitution it framed, except the judiciary article, was rejected by the people. The judiciary article thus adopted changed the character of the Court of Appeals. It provided for a Court of Appeals of seven members, and lengthened their terms to fourteen years. The terms of office of the judges of the Supreme Court were also lengthened to fourteen Through subsequent amendments the salaries of the judges also were increased; the compensation of judges of the Court of Appeals now being $12,000 yearly and that of Supreme Court judges $7,200 yearly. Moreover, if the terms of office of any one of these judges who has served as a judge for ten years is abridged by reason of the "age limit" of seventy years, he receives his full salary as judge for the remainder of his unexpired term.
The Constitution has been amended in many important respects by legislative action since 1867. Thus amendments have been adopted for the punishment of bribery at elections, prohibiting members of the Legislature from receiving civil appointments, prohibiting the Legislature from passing private or local bills in certain cases, extending the terms of office of the Governor and Lieutenant-Governor to three years each, prohibiting the granting of special charters to savings banks, prohibiting the State from loaning its money or credit in aid of private corporations, limiting the compensation to be received by officers of the State, prescribing an additional oath of office for State officers and members of the Legislature, abolishing the Canal Commissioners and creat ing the office of Superintendent of Public Works, abolishing the State Prison Inspectors and creating the office of Superintendent of Prisons, abolishing all tolls on the State canals, and restricting the indebtedness of cities and counties within certain limits
In 1894 another Constitutional Convention was held. It had been summoned by the people in 1886, but it was not until 1893 that the Governor and Legislature agreed upon a bill providing for the election of delegates to it, and the election of delegates followed in November of the same year. The Convention consisted of fifteen delegates at-large, representing the entire State, and 160 delegates from the thirty-two Senate districts-five delegates from each Senate district. The Convention met upon May 15, 1894, and was in session until September 29, 1894. Upon adjourning, the delegates to the Convention issued an address to the people, stating the result of their work. In this address the changes made in the Constitution were carefully stated. The delegates stated that out of more than 400 amendments proposed and considered they had adopted thirty-three, besides striking out obsolete matter. The address then proceeded as
The main features which we propose are as follows:
1. We renew the recommendation of the Convention of 1867 providing for progress in agriculture by requiring general laws giving the right of drainage across adjoining lands.
2. We seek to separate in the larger cities municipal elections from State and national elections, to the end that the business affairs of our great municipal corporations may be managed upon their own merits, uncontrolled by national and State politics, and to the end also that the great issues of national and State politics may be determined upon their merits free from the disturbing and often demoralizing effect of local contests. For this purpose it has been necessary by a series of amendments to rearrange the terms of office and times of elections of the Governor, State officers, Senators and municipal officers so that the elections for State officers will occur on the even-numbered years, and the elections for municipal officers on the odd-numbered years.
3. We have provided further safeguards against abuses in legislative procedure, by requiring that all bills shall be printed in their final form at least three days before their passage, prohibit