Samuel J. (Samuel Jones) Tilden.

The writings and speeches (Volume 1) online

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by the boards of supervisors as by the Legislature of the
State, is strengthened by the fact that four of these bills pre-
scribe the rules for fishing in Oneida Lake, each in a manner
different from the other, so that if they were all signed, the
gentle fisherman would have to inquire which was signed last,
in order to ascertain by what rule to govern his conduct.

I875-] VETO-MESSAGES IN 1875. 207

Assembly Bill No. 417, entitled, " An Act to regulate the use of
the Dock or Pier at the foot of Jersey Street, in the Village
of New Brighton, in Richmond County"

Not approved.

The North Shore Staten Island Ferry Company is in posses-
sion of the dock or pier mentioned in the title of this Bill,
under color of title derived from the State, and claims to own
the same in fee-simple absolute, and to have the right to the
exclusive use thereof.

This Bill provides that any vessel plying between New York
and the north shore of Staten Island may land and receive
passengers or freight at such dock, and commands the police
commissioners to remove any obstructions that may now be or
may hereafter be placed thereon. It also imposes a penalty of
two hundred and fifty dollars upon any person who shall main-
tain or place any obstruction on said dock which shall prevent,
or who shall in any way prevent, the landing of passengers or
freight at such dock from any such vessel.

The promoters of this Bill allege that this dock is subject
to public use ; but I have been furnished with no facts sub-
stantiating that allegation. If it is true, the public have a
plain remedy through the courts, and they should resort to the
courts in the assertion of their rights. The Legislature ought
not to be asked to determine what is purely a judicial question.
Legislative adjudication in respect to private rights is worse
than judicial legislation in respect to public matters.

Assembly Bill No. 617, entitled, "An Act supplemental to
Chapter 319 of the Laws of 1848, entitled, ' An Act for the
Incorporation of Benevolent, Charitable, Scientific, and Mis-
sionary Societies] and the several Acts amendatory thereof."

Not approved.

The Act of 1848, as its title implies, is a general Act for
the incorporation of benevolent, charitable, scientific, and


missionary societies, and its provisions have, by several amen-
datory acts, been extended so as to include corporations for
various other purposes.

By this Bill, any two or more of such corporations are author-
ized to consolidate themselves. Thus a benevolent society may
consolidate with a scientific society, or a missionary society with
a charitable society. The members of one society, by becoming
members of another in sufficient numbers to control its organi-
zation, may absorb the property and franchises of the latter,
and thus frustrate the purposes of those who have contributed
to its support.

It is the evident intent of the Act of 1848 that a corpora-
tion formed thereunder shall exercise the functions of only
one of the classes of corporations therein provided for. This
Bill allows the existence of a corporation having for its objects
all the purposes for which any of the numerous classes of
corporations provided for in the Act of 1848, and the acts
amendatory thereof, may be formed to promote.

Assembly Bill No. 122, entitled, " An Act for the Improvement
of the Navigation of the Hudson River and Catskill Creek,
and to make an Appropriation therefor"

Not approved.

This Bill came to the Executive Chamber the day before
the final adjournment of the Legislature. The law imposing
taxes for the support of the Government had passed ; the Ap-
propriation Bills had passed ; the Supply Bill had gone to a
committee of conference ; the financial means of the State to
meet expenditures had become absolutely fixed. Any expendi-
ture not contemplated at the time of the passage of the Tax
Bill was necessarily unprovided for, and would either not be
met, or would create a deficiency.

A communication was subsequently received from the Comp-
troller of the State, in which he advised me as follows : u I am
informed that the Old Soldiers' Bill (War of 1812) and the

1875.] VETO-MESSAGES IN 1875. 209

Hudson River Appropriation Bill were both passed after the
Tax Levy Bill was passed ; and if such is the case, there will be
no money in the treasury to meet them." I was further warned
that such additions had been made to the Supply Bill, that
unless they should be reduced, the provisions to meet them
would be insufficient.

No duty is more clear or more imperative than that of keep-
ing the expenditures within the means provided. The Consti-
tution has prohibited the creation of a debt in any other mode
than the one prescribed. A floating debt produced in the
practical operation of the government by recklessness as to
the methods by which the two ends can be made to meet is bad
financiering, is a deceptive system, a disregard of official duty,
and a violation of the Constitution.

Aside from these considerations, which are in themselves
conclusive, it would seem to be wise that the means taken to
improve the navigation of the Hudson River, which is an object
of just public interest, should be carefully considered, and the
plans adopted should be such as are certain to secure the accom-
plishment of the object. The plans should be made in refer-
ence to the improvements being carried on for the same purpose
by the Government of the United States.

On the whole, considering that the present Bill would either
be futile or would lead to the objectionable consequences
pointed out, the subject may be wisely left to the more mature
consideration of the next Legislature.

Senate Bill No. 230. An Act to provide for the building of a
town house or hall in the Town of Fort Covington, in the
County of Franklin.

Not approved.

VOL. II. 14

210 /'//A' \\'02iKS OF SAMUEL J. TILDEN. [1875.

Senate Bill No. 131. - . I//, Act to extend the operation and effect
of the Act 2 )a88e ^ Feb. 17, 1848, entitled, " An Act to
authorize the formation of corporations for manufacturing r ,
mining, mechanical or chemical purposes".

Not approved.

Assembly Bill NO. 519. An Act to provide for the payment for
the use and occupation of armories and drill-rooms in the
City and County of New York.

Not approved.

Assembly Bill No. 538. An Act to amend an Act entitled "An
Act to amend the Act for the protection and improvement of
the i Seneca Indians ' residing in the Cattaraugus and Alle-
ghany Reservations in this 8fate" passed Nov. 15, 1847.

Not approved.

Assembly Bill No. 734-. An Act to authorize the Coroners of the
County of New York to employ a Stenographer in certain

Not approved.

Assembly Bill No. 613. - - An Act to incorporate the Bethlehem
Mutual Insurance Association, and for other purposes.

Not approved.

Senate Bill No. 228. - - An Act to extend the operation and effect
of the Act passed Feb. 17, 1848, entitled, "An Act to
authorize the formation of corporations for manufacturing,
mining, mechanical, or chemical purposes."

Not approved.

Assembly Bill No. 271. - - An Act supplementary to an Act en-
titled, " An Act to incorporate the Manhattan Loan and Trust
Company of the City of New York" passed June 26, 1873.

Not approved.

iS75-] VETO-MESSAGES IN 1S75. 211


Assembly Bill No. 709. An Act to regulate pilotage for the
Port of New Y^rk.

Not approved.

Assembly Bill No. 404. An Act to amend an Act entitled, " An
Act to re-enact and amend an Act entitled, ' An Act to pro-
vide for the Annexation of the Toivns of Morrisania, West
Farms, and Kings Bridge, in the County of Westchester, to
the City and County of New York] ' ' passed May 6, 1874.

Not approved.

Assembly Bill No, 724. - - An Act to amend an Act entitled, " An
Act for the Preservation of Fish in the River St. Lawrence"
passed June 12, 1873.

Not approved.

Assembly Bill No. 78. - -An Act to provide for the payment of an
award due from the City of Brooklyn to the Brooklyn Park
Commissioners for lands taken from Prospect Park for reser-
voir purposes.

Not approved.

Assembly Bill No. 432. An Act relating to armories in the City
of New York.

Not approved.

Assembly Bill No. 606. An Act to establish a Board of Fire
Commissioners for the Village of West Troy, in the County of

Not approved.


Assembly Bill No. 47. An Act in relation to Railroad Com-
missioners in the several Counties of the State.

Not approved.


Assembly Bill No. 741. An Act to provide for the recording of
certain decrees in partition suits in the clerks' offices of certain
Counties of this State, and for the alphabetical indexing of the
names of the grantors and grantees of deeds, mortgages, and
other instruments recorded and to be recorded in said clerks'

Not approved.

Assembly BUI No. 235. An Act to amend the Charter of the
City of Brooklyn.

Not approved.

Assembly Bill No. 587. An Act supplementary to " An Act in
relation to storage and the keeping of combustible material in
the City of New York, the use and control of the Fire Alarm
Telegraph, the incumbrance of hydrants and other purposes
connected with the prevention and extinguishment of fires
therein, and imposing certain poivers and duties upon the
Board of Fire Commissioners of the said City" passed
April 26, 1871.

Not approved.

Assembly Bill No. 672. An Act to amend Chapter 379 of the
Laws of 1848, entitled, " An Act to simplify and abridge the
practice and proceedings of the Courts of this State."

Not approved.

Assembly Bill No. 256. An Act to amend Chapter 134 of the
Laws of 1851, entitled, " An Act in relation to Weights and


Not approved.


IN the summer of 1875, and after disposing of the business
which the Legislature had bequeathed to him, Governor Tilden
determined to yield to what seemed a general desire of his
friends in the western part of the State, that he should make a
tour through the canal counties, which had so deep an interest
in the success of his efforts to reform the abuses from which
those counties, more perhaps than any others in the State, were
the sufferers.

He left Albany on the 8th of August, in company with
the Lieutenant-Governor, William Dorsheimer, and proceeded
directly to Buffalo. On the line, both going and returning,
the stations were thronged by the people, who were curious to
see the man who had dared to beard the Canal Ring, which
had hitherto successfully defied the power of every adversary.
Besides numerous private entertainments given at Buffalo, he
accepted an invitation to a public reception from the Board of
Trade on the 10th instant, at which formal addresses were
made by Mr. Cyrus Clark, the president, and George B. Hibbard,
one of the officers of that body. In his reply to their hos-
pitable greetings, the Governor urged them to sustain him in
his efforts to protect the canals and to elevate the standard of
public and official morality in the country, by sending to the
Legislature men who would co-operate with him in these efforts,
and not obstruct him.


OF TRADE, I recognize in you, not merely the members of an
important commercial body ; not merely the business men of the
noble city of Buffalo, but the representatives of that great sys-
tem of intercommunication by which the products of the fertile
and distant West and the populous East are exchanged, the
common agents of those great communities which occupy the
northern section of our continent. The expense of conveying
food to the consumer is often greater than the original cost of
raising it. Whatever, therefore, cheapens transportation, adds
to the productiveness of human labor as much as increased fer-
tility of the soil or increased geniality of the climate. Stand-
ing here in Buffalo and turning the eye into the Far West, we
behold a series of lakes, forming the finest inland navigation
that ministers to the wants of man, which, if stretched out in
a line, would extend more than half the voyage from New York
to Liverpool. On the east, by the Erie Canal and the placid
waters of the Hudson, the system is extended five hundred


miles to the harbor of New York. On the west it is connected,
by a complicated system of railways, with every minute part of
that most magnificent area of virgin soils which has been the

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theatre of the arts and industries of civilized life, a region in
which Nature has poured out her blessings with boundless prod-
igality, and which is destined to be the seat of many millions
of prosperous and happy people. Taken together, this system
is as long in its whole extent as the track across the ocean


the ocean from the Old World to the New. Consider, my fel-
low-citizens, on what a grand scale the interests and business
of our country are organized. Shall we protect the Erie Canal,
which forms one of the most important lines of this system,
from spoliation ? That is the question for the business men of
Buffalo to consider. You came down to Albany last winter
and asked for a reduction of tolls. Ever-anxious to cheapen
the cost of transportation and transit, when I came to look
into the question, with a desire to carry out your wishes, I
found you were confronted by a body more numerous and more
powerful than yourselves, the taxpayers of the rural dis-
tricts of this State, not immediately benefited by the canals, in
respect to whom the burdens of taxation had become nearly
unendurable, and were bearing with more oppressive severity
every day. I ventured, therefore, gentlemen, in my Special
Message of March 18, to suggest a plan which I thought would
harmonize the various interests at stake. I found there were
abuses and maladministration, frauds and peculation, which
not only consumed the entire surplus revenues of the Erie
Canal, but burdened our taxpayers with more than two millions
a year, levied by taxes, under pretence of improving the public
works. I proposed, therefore, that we should, on the one hand,
reduce the tolls to the extent of five or six hundred thousand
dollars, and, on the other, remit a million and three quarters
of taxes. Six months have elapsed, and the fruits of that con-
troversy have secured you the reduction of the tolls you asked
for, and remitted to the taxpayers two and three quarter
millions of the burdens imposed on them last year.

I propose to you to-day, gentlemen, that we should continue
this policy. If the people of this State will send to the next
session of the legislative bodies representatives who will hon-
estly co-operate in this great work, I here to-day promise them
and promise you that, whereas we reduced the taxes last year
from seven and a quarter to six mills, next year we will put
thorn down to four and a half, and even four mills. Afterward
they can be reduced still lower. You commercial men of


Buffalo have not only the common interest which every taxpayer
has, but also the special advantage of further enfranchising trade
and improving the means by which it is carried on. We shall
save a fund large enough to answer every object of this descrip-
tion, and go forward and make this great and noble State and
its institutions all that it has a right and is destined by Provi-
dence to become. I know, gentlemen, that attempts have been
made to discourage the people in this great work. We have
been told that nothing has been accomplished ; that nothing
can be ; and that the people are to remain bound with withes,
to be the prey of those who consume the fruits of taxation.
In answer, I point to the practical results of six months of
reform. What are they ?

First, we have wounded and crushed a system of abuse, mal-
administration, fraud, and peculation that has fattened upon
the public works, the transporter, the consumer, and the tax-
payer. And if the people of this State are true to themselves,
that system, once broken, will never be revived. In the second
place, there has been enacted a series of laws to bring to ac-
count the public agents and official persons and punish their
malversations, the efficacy of which, if faithfully administered
by the courts, will soon be seen. In the third place, we have
reduced the tolls and remitted the taxes to the large extent I
have mentioned. In the fourth place, measures have been in-
stituted to hold to account the public plunderers. These meas-
ures have been taken as early and as rapidly as possible, and
are going on to consummation. I am glad, myself, to be re-
proached for being too slow. I have been as fast as I could,
and have given all my time to your service; but I rejoice to be
reproached for being too slow, because it indicates to me that
the people are impatient to consummate the great reform.

Fifth, and lastly, gentlemen, there is something higher, more
important, more noble, more deeply concerning human society
than even these material advantages. We have lifted the stan-
dard of public and official morality in the country ; we have
awakened a sense of justice and duty in the people ; and are


rousing public opinion to demand better government and purer
administration everywhere. Gentlemen, the cause will not fail.
In the last session it was often betrayed, sometimes defeated,
and generally obstructed ; but it will go on to a complete tri-
umph, which will be a blessing to the whole of these five mil-
lions of people who live within the jurisdiction of this State.
Whoever shall dare to obstruct or oppose it, or stand in its
way, will fall, not to rise again. I know there are men of sel-
fish interests who have not yet learned that the old age has
gone out and the new age has come in. There are public men
seeking popular favor who still think that the way to success
and honor is to combine selfish interests,- -to pile Canal Ring
upon Tweed Ring, and so rule the people of this free State.
According to the measure of my ability, I humbly represent
the common sense of the people of this State, the farmers,
the mechanics, the laborers, the men of business, the moral
sense and purpose of the community against its selfish and
fraudulent interests. Now, men of Buffalo, I ask you to-day
to consider what is to be your part in this work ? While about
your various callings and industries, you leave the government
to take care of itself, and men who mean to make money by
plundering you, give their nights and days to study out the
methods ; they are always at conventions and caucuses ; they
go to the Legislature, and while you are reposing in fancied
safety, are plotting against your interest and rights. If you
will permit me to offer a suggestion, I do not assume to ad-
vise, I only say that when bad men combine, good men should
unite. And if you will be as earnest, and determined, and per-
sistent in demanding that the right shall be done, politicians
will court your favor, and not the favor of the Canal Ring or
any other Ring. What concern have you by what name a man
is called who goes to Albany to misrepresent your interests
and duties ? Is it any satisfaction to a Republican that that
man is called a Republican, or to a Democrat that he is called
a Democrat? Does it make any difference what livery he
wears to serve the devil in ? I say you have but to assert your


rights, and they will be respected ; and when the parties to
which you belong come to make their nominations, if there be
on the tickets any one not true to you, you have but to exercise
the reserved right of the American citizen, - - to vote for some-
body else.

Gentlemen, I avail myself of this occasion to thank the
Board of Trade for their kind invitation, and the citizens of
Buffalo generally for the prodigal hospitalities that have been
bestowed on me during the two davs I have been visiting mv

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friend Lieutcnant-Governor Dorsheiiner, who is about to take
up his temporary residence in Albany. I thank you for your
kindness to me, which I ascribe not so much to myself person-
ally as to the cause which I serve.


ON the llth of August, about eight o'clock in the evening,
Governor Tilden reached Syracuse, on his return from Buffalo.
As soon as his arrival became known, the citizens began to
throng toward his hotel ; and by nine o'clock the square in
front of it was filed, and loud calls were made for the Gov-
ernor. He finally came forward with the Mayor of the city,
by whom he was presented to the people. As soon as the
applause and cheers which his appearance provoked had a little
subsided, the Governor proceeded to address them. The fact
that Syracuse was the home of the most conspicuous and influ-
ential members of the Canal Ring lent special significance to
the Governor's remarks.


If I had anticipated that I should be called upon to-night to
speak to such a vast assemblage of people as I see before me, I
should have been more economical of conversation on the cars.
I am glad, however, to meet you. I am glad to see that the
question of reform in the administration of the public affairs in
this State is awakening a deep interest in the minds of the

It is not necessary for me to draw your attention in detail to
the particular abuses in regard to the canals of this State.
You have become, alas ! too familiar with the situation. Here,
under your own eyes and your own observation, these transac-
tions have been carried on in open day by a combination that
have sought to rule the State. I am sure, by your coming here
to-night, that you are determined there shall be thorough and
effectual reform in these matters. Fellow-citizens, so far as
depends upon me, I wish to say to you that nothing shall be
withheld. Your cause will be carried forward and onward.
All the force of the law will be exercised to procure for you
your rights, and to punish those who have violated them.

I was called on this morning to speak some words of encour-
agement and hope to four hundred little boys in the Western
House of Refuge. During all my journey I have been frequently
followed by persons asking for their friends and for those in
whom they were interested a pardon from the penitentiaries
and State prisons. I have been compelled to look into such


cases to see who are the inmates of these institutions and of
what they have been accused, and to ascertain what it is that
constitutes the wrong to society of which they have been con-
victed. When I have compared their offences, in their nature,
temptations, and circumstances, with the crimes of great public
delinquents who claim to stand among your best society, and
are confessedly prominent among their fellow-citizens, crimes
repeated and continued year after year, I am appalled at the
inequality of human justice. The effort to give you redress has
been for the last three months derided and scoffed at. We have
been told that nothing would come of it ; that the people would
fail ; that their rights would not be maintained ; and particu-
larly that these great, rich, and powerful culprits would prevail
would escape the measures of the law and the punishment
of their crimes ; that their palaces, built with the moneys drawn
from the sweat and toil of our honest, industrious, hard-working
citizens, would continue to rise like exhalations and shame
public morality and public honor.

Fellow-citizens, I sav to you to-ni&'ht as I said on the 4th of

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November, 1871, now nearly four years ago, when 1 took a
share in the great contest in New York city, in your cause I
will " follow where any shall dare to lead, or lead where any
shall dare to follow ! ' The cause will not fail ; whoever shall
venture to stand against it will fall to rise no more. I have no
apprehensions that the law will fail of its efficacy ; but I will
speak a word of encouragement to those who are less hopeful.
You can send, if needful, to the legislative bodies men who will
make new and better laws to punish these wrongs and to bring
these wrong-doers to justice ; and the people, by the exercise of
their sovereign authority, mav, if need be, in convention assem-

V / V '

bled, redress all defects and failures of public justice. If our
legislative bodies and public officers fall short of their duty, the

Online LibrarySamuel J. (Samuel Jones) TildenThe writings and speeches (Volume 1) → online text (page 17 of 52)