refusal to give to such devices the sanction of law, until consti-
tutional provision shall give permanency to the methods of
appointment and removal in municipal governments.
The charter of 1873, while it contains many provisions that
are valuable, still leaves to the heads of depart-
ments the power to create officers and fix their
salaries, a power which no one has ever thought of conferring
on the governor or the comptroller of the State, who are properly
subject to the specific and minute regulations of law ; and it leaves
all the power of levying taxes, spending money, contracting debt
to a large extent, and all the powers of legislation in the hands
of the mayor, the comptroller, the president of the board of
aldermen, and the president of the department of taxes.
In the hands of every one of the present incumbents we
have the satisfaction to believe that the interests of the people
are perfectly secure ; but we ought to consider what manner
of institutions shall be formed for the long future, with its varied
1875.] MUNICIPAL REFORM MESSAGE. 133
changes of official persons, whether we will continue such
vast powers, having no parallel in any government.
The charter of 1873 sought to shun the defect of the charter
of 1870 in respect to removal. It restored the power of the
removal of the mayor by the governor ; it provided for the re-
moval of heads of departments by the mayor, subject to the
written approval of the governor, thus establishing an artifi-
cial check upon an artificial system, aiming to secure inde-
pendence, except in case of official misconduct, on the part of
the members of the body on which it conferred such extraordi-
nary powers, and shrinking from converting an oligarchical
into a despotic system.
At the present session various propositions have been intro-
duced, and others have been suggested, for changing the powers
and patronage of the city government. None of them have
come before me for official action. No comprehensive or well-
considered system has been proposed. Hasty and partial
changes by laws which, however plausible on their face, can-
not be judged of except through an acquaintance with the
whole mass of preceding legislation upon which they operate,
and likely to produce results not foreseen by their authors,
were not desirable.
In the better times of government and legislation in this
State, when the traditions of popular rights were respected, the
formation of a charter for a great city was a matter of de-
liberation, and the people to be affected were fully consulted.
Generally a convention of their representatives was held to con-
sider the matter, and full opportunity was given to discuss and
perfect so important an instrument. The people were allowed
to elect their chief officers with a knowledge beforehand of the
substantial nature of the powers these officers would exercise.
The idea of working a total revolution in the depositories of
governmental powers by a legislative act, without the inter-
vention of an election that should allow the people to say on
whom new and vast powers should be conferred, would have
been treated as a gross invasion of the rights of the people.
134 THE WORKS OF SAMUEL J. TILDEN. [1875.
Even in restoring the legislative power to a legislative depart-
ment of the city government, the new legislature ought to be
formed according to the best traditions and the best experi-
ence of American government; and the people ought to be
allowed to choose it at a fresh election, and in contemplation
of the new powers conferred, which amount to a new creation.
I am not inclined to tamper by inconsiderate and fragmen-
tary legislation with the government of the metropolis or of
the other great cities of the State, but I feel profoundly the
necessity of attention to the structure, power, and duties of
those governments ; and when we do constitute a new system
I am anxious that it should answer the just expectations of
the people. There is no subject which to-day interests them
more deeply ; no subject more complicated or more difficult
of solution; none which requires more thoughtful attention,
more thorough discussion, to mature results with which we
shall be satisfied in future years. There is no case in which
it is more your duty and mine to say to those who seek
changes : " You must found your claim to the advantages
of political and official power upon the best promise of good
government in the nature of the institutions you propose.
You must accept official accountability as a condition of
I have set forth some of the evils which have followed the
violation of sound principles of government in the city of New
York., not only to show the wrongs to which the people of
that municipality have been subjected, but also to illustrate the
dangers which threaten other cities, unless we can fix sound
principles in the minds of our people and make them operative
in the legislative bodies or intrench them in the Constitution.
The people comprised in the cities of the State, exclusive of
New York, are to-dav more numerous than the inhabitants of
the metropolis. They form a larger portion of the population
of the State. This is exclusive of the incorporated villages.
If local self-government or home rule is to be secured to
them, and they are to be protected from the abuses which
1875.] MUNICIPAL REFORM MESSAGE. 135
naturally happened earlier in New York, it must be done by
the establishment of a general system which shall be re-
spected by the people and by their representatives. The Leg-
islature is burdened by numerous applications for changes
in local laws, the operation of which on the pre-existing mass
of legislation cannot easily be ascertained. This obscurity
is often a cover under which the objects of selfish individuals
or cliques or partisan purposes are concealed. Every revolu-
tion of politics in the locality or in the State is followed by
efforts to change the governing power or to effect a new
disposal of offices and patronage in the locality. Such de-
moralizing efforts could not readily be effectual if well-defined
principles of government pervaded all municipal charters.
Diversities will no doubt continue to be unavoidable ; but the
advantages of general laws over special legislation now recog-
nized in our political theories and maxims should be extended
as far as practicable to our city governments. Whatever
can be accomplished by legislation to correct the evils growing
out of the discordant charters which now exist, and to infuse
into them general principles that shall become a guide to future
legislation, ought to be done. But the only effectual remedy is
in an amendment of the Constitution fixing the general plan
of municipal government, especially in respect to the appoint-
ing power, and at the same time establishing on a durable
basis official accountability.
With a view of calling public attention to this subject and
of laying the foundation of a plan of legislation and of con-
stitutional amendment, I recommend the appointment of a
commission who shall report to the next Legislature the
forms of such laws or constitutional amendments as are re-
quired. If you do not think it advisable to constitute such a
commission, the revisers of the statutes might be instructed
to collate and report upon the condition of the laws relating
to the cities, in aid of future action by legislation or
THE WORKS OF SAMUEL J. TILDEN.
*-> 'M CS
p 3 g
OlQCQOiQCQOiQOOtQ : : : O CO : iO co O
o o co' o
(*N I <*^> ^^ k -*\
> 1 - w*w '
l>. Ci C: CO O rt( CO CO -rfi rti cf \ O O C^ CO O ^ CM O O
CO Ol 7J O
?] r < i o o T^ o cri CM -^tt o co **! co CM >o o -*ti -^ ci
O CJ rH CM
O rH rH rH
TH O Oi -^ TJH O CM O CO O rH 1C CO CM O TJI CO CM CO C)
O OJ CO CO r-( i ( r-l i 1
rH (M CI 1C
o oooo oooooo o
o oooo oooooo o
I-H O O O CO Ol>-OiOOO O
CO IO O O CO O t- O t^ IO O IO
J-H O O L^ CO Os iiJ t> G^l ^ ' I""" W - - - -
CO OOOCOCM *^IC5C5Ct)COCM C5
rti O1C5COO O CO T ( O ^ Ci rjH
CM Tfl CO rH i~l iH TH
o oooo oooooo o
o oooo oooooo o
O O O O rfl O f5 IO O O lO Cl
C5 c/j O Cs O ^f <i> !> Q~\ O Ci O ....
Ci CO t*- 1 C 1 -) ^~* ** Ci u J t~~ t^ O . >~H ....
t^ ^H ^1 CO CO CO ( CO 1^ CM O T^
^H CO '^3 O CM t~~ lij r I Cj rH CD ' <i_> ....
O COCOON ICCOOTirtHCOCl ^O
^H O CO i O cMO-^COt-O Tt(
CO CO rH rH rH rH
Ci CD rH CM CM CO O O ^ ( b- CO O CM rH CO O CO CM CM
O l^ CO rH
rH O CO
C5 C? rH
Hudson . .
MUNICIPAL REFORM MESSAGE.
o o CJ ci
O CO . i CO
b-TJH^COr-iejC^KN CO CO IO CJ rH r-t Cl
CO O O O rJH
t-( T 1 CO CO
O - iCOOCOOOOOOOr^COOOOOO -OOOOO
CO t- t^. O CO Ci ^ -^ O O Cl O O CO i t Cl Cl
O Cl O t- 1 - "3^ CO O Cl Ci O_rH lb Ct> CO rH CO
O ^ rH CJ r-i
O t'S O
Cl i 1 T}H CO
O l^ Cl Ol O O t^
iO (M Ci
?! rH T-H Cl rH rH rH rH T I rH T t rH
-rfH CO O Cl CO >O O -rfi
C/J O CO O Ol t- CO rri
O O O i 1
l^ O CO O
O CM O -rfH
CO rt' CO OJ
Cl r- it it-OrHCOi (Cit Gt-OCOCOTtiOOOO<Mt-OTiH
t i 71 O -71 CO Ci t i CO Cl CO CO O UO O Ci O CO t - t- O O O to rH
CO CO C^L^O^L I- CO Cl CO Cl CO CO Cl r-i C4 rH rH rH rH rH rH rH
Of l-^cf rH I I
t co i - TJI o r-i t co ci co o Tfi o i-~ r-i co r-i 10 ci o r>> ci o o
TH o co ^ co o ci ci ci o o co t i o o co o* ci rH ci ci t^ ci ci
CO ^^^ CO ^^^ ^O ^^" C^? r*^ ^7^ c^jj j^^ ^^^ ^-^^ CO ^T__P c_^ 4 s ** ^-^^ : ^^ f^^ ^ H ^^i ^-^ : ^**j
1 "^ ^"^ *__ ^ ] ^ ] ^^0 ^^^ OO ^^^ t"^* OO t^* ^^3 ^^ ^^j t^jj l^j t- ^. ^^^ CO ^^^ L^^ ^^^ i *
r^ Cl Cl * CO CO * ^ O O Cl Cl Cl O CO CO Cl t- CO CO Cl O 1 - Cl
Cl Cl ^^ CO ^O CO CO ^J 1 rH CO Th O CO rH rH CO Cl ^H ^^ T^ Cl CO rH
CO C5 O Cl
1-1 -* o co c
c c c o 1 co rH o co t c co o o
> C'* OOCOt- 0-0 00
r-l i 1 Cl Cl IT- t r- 1
o 2 tL'-3
~ -f 3 -
S - S
AT the fall election, when Mr. Tilden was chosen governor,
the people also ratified an amendment to the State Constitu-
tion which conferred upon the governor, in addition to his
former poAver of vetoing a whole bill, a power to veto or with-
hold his assent from any one or more items of an appropriation
bill, while approving of the rest. The following veto-messages
and memoranda were the first delivered or filed under this
VETO-MESSAGES IN 18T5.
EXECUTIVE CHAMBER, ALBANY, April 12, 1875.
To the Senate.
I RETURN herewith, without my approval, Senate Bill No. 27,
entitled " An Act to change the name of the Black River Insur-
ance Company of Watertown, New York."
It may perhaps be questionable whether a corporation is a
person within the meaning of the first subdivision of Section 18
of Article III. of the Constitution ; but it seems to me plain that
the object sought to be accomplished can as well be attained
either by an amendment to Chapter 322 of the Laws of 1870,
authorizing corporations to change their names, or by a general
act specially applicable to insurance corporations.
EXECUTIVE CHAMBER, ALBANY, April 12, 1875.
To the Senate.
I return herewith, without my approval, Senate Bill No. 67,
entitled " An Act for continuing and regulating a ferry across
the Hudson River in the town of Phillipstown, in the County
This Bill authorizes the Garrison and West Point Ferry
Company to maintain a ferry between Garrison Station and the
West Point Dock, and prohibits all other persons from convey-
ing passengers or goods for hire across the river between any
point on either side within half a mile of a line drawn from the
ferry slip at Garrison to the West Point Dock, under a penalty
of five dollars for each offence.
140 THE WORKS OF SAMUEL J. TILDEN. [1875.
It seems to me plain that this Bill is in conflict with, the pro-
vision of Section 18 of Article III. of the Constitution, which
prohibits the Legislature from passing any private or local bill
granting to any private corporation, association, or individual
any exclusive privilege, immunity, or franchise.
EXECUTIVE CHAMBER, ALBANY, April 15, 1875.
To the Senate.
I return herewith, without my approval, Senate Bill No. 109,
entitled " An Act to amend an Act entitled an Act to author-
ize the consolidation of certain railroad companies, passed May
Section 1 of the Act sought to be amended authorizes any
railroad corporation incorporated under the laws of this or any
other State, operating a railroad or bridge wholly or partly
within this State, to consolidate with any other railroad com-
pany organized under the laws of this or any other State, where
the two railroads will form a continuous line.
The Bill now before me proposes to amend that section so as
to authorize any railroad corporation organized under the laws
of this State or of the State of Pennsylvania, either operating
or constructing a railroad or bridge wholly or partly within the
State, to consolidate with another company formed under the
laws of this State or of the State of Pennsylvania.
This amendment is doubtless proposed to meet a special case,
so as to allow the consolidation of two corporations, although
the roads of neither are in operation ; but it restricts the opera-
tion of the existing statute so as to prevent the consolidation
of two railroad corporations, although the roads of both are in
operation, unless each of such corporations was organized under
the laws of this State or of the State of Pennsylvania.
I am unable to see any good reason for such a discrimination
between railroad corporations of the State of Pennsylvania and
those of other contiguous States.
1875.] VETO-MESSAGES IN 1875. 141
EXECUTIVE CHAMBER, ALBANY, April 21, 1875.
To the Assembly.
I return herewith, without my approval, Assembly Bill No.
172, entitled " An Act to authorize the increase of the capital
stock of the Richmond County Storage and Business Company."
The Company named in the title of this Bill was incorporated
by Chapter 684, Laws of 1870, with a capital of one hundred
thousand dollars, with power to increase the same to five hun-
dred thousand dollars.
I am informed that this corporation has never done any
business under its charter, or exercised any of the powers
thereby conferred upon it, except that it has perfected its
organization. The primary object of this Company is " to re-
ceive on storage or deposit any goods, wares, merchandise, or
property for safe-keeping or shipment, and to make advances
thereon or on the pledge thereof, to transact all kinds of busi-
ness usually done by warehousemen and lightermen, and to
collect dockage, wharfage, storage, and lighterage for the use
of their property and the machinery connected therewith, or
the lighters employed by them ; v but it is also authorized by
its charter to " guarantee the payment of promissory notes,
bills of exchange, bonds, accounts, claims, annuities, mort-
gages, choses in action, and evidences of debt, and the punctual
performance of all contracts and obligations upon such terms
as are allowed by law ; ' and also " to receive and take the man-
agement, charge, or custody of real or personal property and
choses in action;" and to " advance moneys, securities, or credits
thereon on such terms as are allowed by law," whether such se-
curities, contracts, or property have any connection or relation
to the business of storage, dockage, or lighterage, or not.
The Bill now before me authorizes the increase of the capital
stock of the Company to the extent of one million dollars. I
cannot sanction any increase of the capital stock of a corpo-
ration whose powers are so diverse and extensive. On the
other hand, I recommend the modification or repeal of its
142 TUB WORKS OF SAMUEL J. TILDEN. [1875.
EXECUTIVE CHAMBER, ALBANY, May 3, 1875.
To the Assembly.
I return herewith, without my approval, Assembly Bill No.
375, entitled " An Act to amend Section 10 of Chapter 830 of
the Laws of 1873, entitled an Act to legalize the adoption of
minor children by adult persons."
The Act of 1873, which the Bill proposes to amend, defines
the adoption for which it provides as a " legal act whereby an
adult person takes a minor into the relation of a child, and
thereby acquires the rights and incurs the responsibilities of a
parent in respect to such minor." It prescribes the method
whereby the adoption is to be accomplished ; concerning which
it is only necessary to say here, that if the child is upward of
twelve years of age, his consent is required ; that the consent
of parents is also required, but if both parents are dead, or the
survivor has been guilty of certain acts of misconduct specified
in the Act, or is incompetent to consent, it is sufficient to pro-
cure the consent of " an adult person having the lawful custody
of the child;' 1 that the persons required to consent are to ap-
pear before the county judge, who, if he is satisfied that " the
moral and temporal interests of the child will be promoted by
the adoption," must make an order " directing that the child
shall be regarded and treated in all respects as the child of the
person adopting." Then follows the tenth section, declaring
that the child and the person adopting " shall sustain to each
other the legal relation of parent and child, and have all the
rights and be subject to all the duties of that relation except-
ing the right of inheritance, except that, as respects the passing
and limitation over of real and personal property, under and by
deeds, conveyances, wills, devises, and trusts, said child adopted
shall not be deemed to sustain the legal relation of child to the
person so adopting."
The Bill now returned proposes to strike out all of the tenth
section after the word " relation," so that the adoption will
thenceforth have precisely the same legal effect as if the child
and the person adopting were parent and child by blood.
1875.1 VETO-MESSAGES IN 1875. 143
The exceptions created by the provisions proposed to be
stricken out are of two different descriptions.
The first prevents the application to the relation by adoption
of the rules of law regulating the descent of real property and
the distribution of personal property. If the only effect of
striking out this exception would be to enable the adopted child
to inherit or take as next of kin from the parent adopting in
like manner as a child by blood, the change might be unobjec-
tionable. It would generally be only carrying out the presumed
intent of the person adopting in entering into the relation.
Whether the child would be entitled to inherit from the col-
lateral relatives of the parent adopting, is a very grave and
doubtful question, which ought to be settled by the statute.
But it is certain that the rules of descent and of distribution,
as between the parent adopting and the child, would work both
ways, that the parent would inherit from the child as well as
the child from the parent. It appears to me manifestly unjust
and inexpedient to provide that the adopting adult shall inherit
and take as heir and next of kin from the adopted minor. If
the law should be thus changed, an unprincipled or even a
selfish man or woman, notwithstanding the guards thrown
around the child by the statute, might easily, in many cases
which may be suggested, cause all the forms of the statute to
be complied with in such a manner as to adopt as his own child
a rich orphan minor for the purpose of inheriting from him.
If the child is under twelve years of age the adopting parent
may be substituted as his heir and next of kin, if this Bill be-
comes a law, without his consent ; and even supposing that the
consent of a child of upward of twelve years ought to carry
any moral or legal weight in a question of property, it would
be irrevocable till he attains majority, and then only by means
of the positive act of making a will. On the other hand, on
the next day after the adoption, the adopting parent may by a
will cut off the child from any share in his property. But
apart from this consideration, the proposed Bill would thus
operate unjustly ; it would, in case of the death of a child
144 THE WORKS OF SAMUEL J. TILDEN. [1875.
before attaining the age when he can make a will, or after that
age if he die intestate, cut off his natural heirs and next of kin,
who might be his own infant brothers and sisters by blood.
The Legislature ought not to enable a child who has not legal
capacity to make a will, to change the course of succession to
its real and personal property by means of a legal proceeding
taken by him in connection with interested strangers ; still less
ought the State to allow such a change to be effected by the
act of strangers alone.
The second exception which this Bill proposes to strike out
prevents the fictitious relation of parent and child created by
the adoption, from affecting the passing and limitation over
of real and personal property. This qualification was also
inserted for the protection of third persons ; its effect is to
prevent the intent of a testator or grantor of property from
being defeated in consequence of the adoption by the diversion of
the property from the direction which he intended. The clause
operates in both ways, it prevents a diversion of property
limited over after the death either of the adopting parent or of
the adopted child, and in either aspect it is eminently just and
proper, and should be retained. From the nature of the case,
the person who creates an intermediate estate with a limitation
over does not intend that the holder of the intermediate estate
shall absolutely dispose of it. He generally means that it shall
go to his own blood, and his intention is defeated if a stranger
is interposed. For instance, a testator leaves an estate to his
son for life, with remainder to the children of the son, or, in
default of such heirs, to another son and the latter' s children.
The first taker, having no children, adopts a child under this
Act, perhaps in consequence of a family quarrel, and for the
express purpose of disappointing his brother's children. Can
there be any doubt that the testator's intent is defeated ? The
consequences which would ensue if the child adopted was the
holder of the lesser estate are of the same general character.
Again, the abrogation of the exception now under consideration
may work an injury to the adopted child by depriving him of
iS75-] VETO-MESSAGES IN 1875. 145
an estate limited to him as the child or an heir of his parent
by blood. It would at all events raise a difficult question for
decision by the courts.
The Bill is unnecessary for any purpose, except to protect the
adopted child of a person neglecting to make a will. Though
there might be a certain small convenience in providing by
law against such an oversight or neglect in such a possible
case, the motive is totally inadequate to call for or justify a