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Message from the Governor.
FELLOW-CITIZENS OF THE SENATE AND THE ASSEMBLY:
In reviewing the condition of the State since the last annual meeting of the Legislature, we have cause to be thankful that all the sources of our prosperity continue undiminished. The labor of our citizens, in every department of industry, has been rewarded with a generous return: our harvests have been abundant, our manufactures flourishing, and our internal commerce growing in activity and extent. It has usually been the grateful duty of my predecessors, in adverting to the occurrences of the preceding year, to acknowledge in their annual messages a large measure of publie health, as one of the blessings which the Sovereign Ruler of nations had vouchsafed to the people of this State. But during the past season he has, doubtless for wise purposes, permitted a malignant disease to ravage our principal cities and villages, and to sweep away many thousands of our fellow-citizens. It becomes us as dependent beings, sharing largely in his bounties, to submit with humble resignation to all his afflictive dispensations. Considering the many millions of the human family who in Asia and Europe had fallen victims to this epidemic, its appearance among us was naturally regarded as one of the greatest calamities. But we have reason to rejoice, although our apprehensions of its destructive power were during its prevalence fully realized, that the period of its duration was so brief, and that it has now ceased to exist within this State. Whether it shall return to renew its work of destruction, and clothe our land in mourning, must depend upon the sovereign will of Him who holds in his hands the destinies of mankind. As guardians of the public health, it is your duty to prevent, as far as it can be done by human agency, the re-appearance of this fatal scourge; and, in the event of its return, to mitigate its severity and [S. No. 1.)
circumscribe the sphere of its ravages. The act relative to this subject, passed at the last session of the Legislature, as to some of its important provisions, will expire on the first day of February next. The propriety of continuing those provisions, with such additions and modifications as experience has suggested, is respectfully submitted to your consideration.
Our penitentiary establishments have heretofore received, as they certainly deserved, the peculiar regard of the Legislature. To such institutions philanthropists have long looked for a diminution of human sufferings, moralists for a check to human depravity, and statesmen for a valuable improvement in the affairs of government. The results anticipated from this system, were the almost entire abolition of sanguinary punishments, the reformation of delinquents, the decrease of crimes, and the relief of the public, to a great extent, from the onerous burden of supporting those who, by a violation of the laws, should forfeit the rights and privileges belonging to obedient citizens, and render themselves unworthy as well as unsafe members of society. In some considerable degree these anticipations have been realized. Your benevolent feelings will come in aid of your sense of duty to urge you on, to do whatever yet remains to be done to improve the system, and make it subserve, as far as practicable, the beneficial ends for which it was instituted. The full consideration which this subject received from my immediate predecessor, and the sound views and wise suggestions, not only in relation to the State prisons, but to subordinate establishments, contained in his annual messages, render it, as I conceive, unnecessary for me to enlarge upon these topics. There is also another reason which induces me to abstain from them at this time. At the last session of the Legislature, the House of Assembly appointed a committee to visit the State prisons, to examine the manner in which their accounts are kept and their affairs conducted, and to report the result to the Legislature. This examination has been made; and you may expect, at an early day in the present session, a report which will furnish such information as you may require to guide your legislation on this interesting subject.
In the course of the last summer, the epidemic cholera made its appearance in the prison at Mount-Pleasant, and prevailed there for about forty-five days. The number of cases was three hundred and seventy-six, and the deaths one hundred and three. On receiving notice of this event, the Executive, with commendable promptness, repaired to the prison, in order that the most efficient assistance should be given to the sick, and the best measures taken to check the ravages of the disease, and abridge the period of its duration.
I am not aware that the prevalence of the epidemic in this institution has indicated the necessity of any further legislation in regard to our penitentiary establishments, except the adoption of a provision excluding, for a proper period, all convicts coming from places where contagious, or epidemic, diseases of a malignant character prevail, and for keeping the persons thus excluded in some healthful situation, until they can be introduced with safety among the other prisoners.
The number of convicts belonging to this prison, including the females confined at Bellevue, is eight hundred and sixty-six. Two hundred and seventy-three have been received into it during the last year. This number is sixty-five less than that of the year preceding. The total number of deaths, including those by the cholera, is one hundred and forty-five. One hundred and sixtyfive convicts have been discharged on the expiration of their sentences—sixty were transferred to the prison at Auburn, and thirtytwo pardoned. By reason of the prevalence of the cholera, the financial affairs of this prison do not exhibit the favorable result that was anticipated. A full statement in relation not only to this subject, but to the entire operations of this establishment, will be submitted to you in the annual report of the inspectors.
The account from the state prison at Auburn, presents a highly gratifying result. The number of convicts in it at this time, is six-hundred and seventy-nine. One hundred and twenty-seven were received into it, pursuant to the sentence of courts between the first day of January last and the twenty-second day of December following. This is twenty-seven less than the number received there the preceding year. One hundred and fourteen have been discharged by reason of the expiration of the period for which they were sentenced; twenty-seven have been pardoned; twelve have died, and one was released by order of the Supreme Court. The sum charged during the year ending on the thirtieth of September last, for the services of the convicts, to those who employ. ed them, is forty-one thousand five hundred and fifty dollars and