Samuel J. (Samuel Jones) Tilden.

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improvident. For instance, the clause prohibiting the com-
missioners from entering into any " contract by which they


shall in any manner relinquish the control, support, and disci-
pline of the said paupers and convicts," though probably not
intended to have such an effect, may conflict with the
humane provisions of the Act of last year " for the better care
of pauper and destitute children."

It is desirable to make the prisons and almshouses of the
city of New York contribute as much to their own support as
they can, consistently with their objects and with the welfare
of all classes of our citizens ; and no doubt the occupation of
their inmates in work tends to discipline, to health, and to
reformation. The problem is how to attain these salutary
ends without injuring the interests or wounding the just self-
esteem or the honorable sentiments of the skilled artisans and
working-men who are the strength of a State, who have made
American labor on the whole more efficient than any other in the
processes of production, and who have conferred on our coun-
try the renown of its achievements. The best solution of this
problem is worthy of the most patient and considerate thought
and of continuous effort. A constitutional amendment chanoino;


the system of administration of the State prisons passed both
Houses last year, and is now pending. The State Board of
Charities are addressing their best faculties to their beneficent
work. A special investigation of the subject of pauperism was
recommended in my Annual Message, and is under } r our con-
sideration. In the present depressed state of business, when
scarcely any industry is remunerative, even with the advantages
of being long established, and of having private supervision
and management, it is not likely that any new business
enterprise or speculation carried on by the public officers
would have immediate results in profits to the treasury.

Nor is it to be overlooked that unexampled distress from the
want of remunerative employment now exists among the me-
chanics and working-men of the city of New York. If Govern-
ment may maintain an organized system of relief for paupers,
it may at least exercise forbearance, in a period of business
disaster, toward those who are struggling with difficulties that

1876.] VETO-MESSAGES. 813

tend to swell the class to which such relief is given. It can
abstain, not only from actual injury, but from holding up to
their imagination the spectre of a new governmental competi-
tion ; from rash or experimental changes in the system and laws
to which the people are accustomed ; from inconsiderate or
imperfect measures, the effects of which cannot be foreseen or
completely understood. In the mean time a real and vast re-
duction of the burden of taxation can be secured in other
methods, for the support of which all classes and interest may
be expected to co-operate. The reform of the canal expendi-
tures of itself will save more than a million of dollars a vear


to the taxpayers of the metropolis. That measure is an exam-
ple of a liberal policy toward the boatmen and transporters in
a reduction of tolls made coincidently with a far larger remis-
sion of taxes, and a harmonious co-operation of both classes to
secure the reform. The policy which I had the honor to rec-
ommend to the Legislature in my Message at the opening of
the present session, if adopted and faithfully carried out, will
secure to the taxpayers of the city of New York a remission of
taxes in 1876, as compared with 1874, of four millions of dol-
lars, or about one half of the entire taxes of the city for State


purposes. In such prospects of being themselves relieved, and
in such necessity of general co-operation, the taxpayers of a
community like the city of New York cannot afford to turn
only the sacrificial side of public retrenchments to the me-
chanics and working-men who really bear in indirect forms
their full share of the taxes, but who, because they do not pay
directly, too often fail to recognize the full benefits to them-

v f CJ

selves of the policy which reduces such burdens.

To the Assembly :

Assembly Bill No. 301, entitled, "An Act making Appropria-
tions for certain expenses of the Government, and supplying
deficiencies in former Appropriations." I object to the following
items in this Bill :


(1) "The sum of $20,259, being the balance remaining in the
treasury of the sum of $30,000 appropriated by Chapter 760 of
the Laws of 1873 for removing obstructions in the outlet of Cayuga
Lake and the channel of Seneca River, is hereby appropriated to
pay the Merchants' National Bank of Syracuse for the drafts on
the Comptroller held by said bank and drawn by the Canal Com-
missioner for the middle division, in payment for work contem-
plated and directed by said original appropriation."

(2) " For the payment of drafts drawn by the Canal Commissioner
upon the Comptroller for the balance due on the final account, on
file in the office of the Auditor, for work done for removing ob-
structions from the outlet of Cayuga Lake and the channel of
Seneca River, the sum of $2,386.48, or as much thereof as the
Auditor and Comptroller shall ascertain to be due thereon."

The first of these two items reappropriates, and the second
provides for a deficiency in the appropriation to meet the final
estimate on a work which has been from the beginning redolent
with imprudence and fraud. There are no facts proved which
can justify these claims. On examining the affidavit of the
engineer verifying the final account, it appears that the state-
ment that the work is completed is qualified by the insertion
of the words " as far as directed." This interlineation totally
destroys the effect of the statement. It is obviously in a
different handwriting and a different ink from the rest of the

The statute (Chapter 304 of Laws of 1868, p. 631) which
authorized the work provided that no contract should be made
except for the completion of the work. This provision has been
disregarded. It would seem, that the proposed appropriation is
an attempt to obtain final payment in violation of the law.

(3) " For the Onondaga Salt Springs, to reimburse the fund appro-
priated in the Annual Appropriation Bill of 1875 for the current
expenses of the works, which had been expended by the Superin-
tendent in order to bring into use new wells, and for machinery
for working the same, the sum of $10,269."

The general appropriations ought to be ample for every
legitimate purpose, especially with the diminishing business
of the springs.

1876.] VETO-MESSAGES. 315

(4) " Together with the sum of $183,890.05 (being the unappro-
priated remainder of the tax levied for the same
object for the fiscal year commencing on the 1st of
October, 1875)."

For the first time within my observation the appropriation for
the new capitol is not encumbered by arrears, which largely
consume the appropriation before it is made. The 8800,000
will provide for considerably more than was done last year,
considering the immaturity and uncertainty of the plans for the
completion of the work and the delay thus far to ascertain with
certainty its cost, which has been enjoined by several statutes.
It is quite clear that the sum of 8800,000 should be preferred
to the sum of 8983,890.05. The balance is the product of the
increased valuation above the sum on which the appropriation
of last year was computed. It is now in the treasury, and
lawfully applicable to general purposes. It should remain
there to provide for appropriations and to lessen taxes.

It is commendable in the Legislature that it has completed
and submitted for the action of the Governor the General O b se rva-
General Appropriation Bill and the Supply Bill tlons>
before the close of the session. It has thus preserved the
revisory power of the Senate and Assembly, as designed by
the Constitution. But this advantage, attained so late in the
session, has some incidental inconveniences.

The period for the examination of the Appropriation Bill
expired on the Saturday, and the period for the examination
of the Supply Bill will expire on the Monday preceding the
Wednesday fixed for the final adjournment of the Legislature.
The ten days allowed for the action of the Governor are at a
time when every moment is filled by attention to numerous
other bills and to the communications from members and others
to which these bills give occasion, and when the general busi-
ness accumulates to its highest pressure. The Appropriation
Bill contains 163 specific sums of money and 350 distinct
objects to which they are applicable. The Supply Bill contains
223 specific sums of money applicable to 425 distinct objects.


To analyze these bills, to ascertain their relations to the taxes
proposed to be levied, to keep the appropriations within the
means of the treasury, so that a floating debt will not arise in
disobedience to the Constitution, bringing with it embarrass-
ments to the fiscal operations of the State, and so that the
sinking funds will not be invaded, is of itself an important
duty. In examining so many items, many of them complex, and
many of them requiring much investigation of facts in order
to determine their character and expediency, it cannot but be
that some of them cannot be made the subject of a fresh inquiry
by the Governor adequate to discover and adjudge their real
merits, but must stand on the authority of the committees and
the Legislature if no ground for rejecting them is apparent.

I have the satisfaction of thinking that on the whole these
bills are less subject to objection than any former ones within
my observation ; that with the items struck out by me the
expenditures will be within the means provided ; that while
some appropriations are larger than is desirable, and the Gov-
ernor has no power to reduce them, the aggregate result, if the
items struck out be omitted, will enable the tax-bills now
pending to be conformed substantially to the scheme suggested
in my Annual Message, provided the surplus of 8475,000 tax
for last year, caused by the enlarged valuation, be appropriated
to the Bounty Debt, and the deficiency in the Canal Sinking
Fund be provided for. Without a new tax, as I understand
is intended by the Canal Committee of the Assembly, the items
hereinbefore specified are objected to.

The other portions of the Bill approved, May 1, 1876.



Assembly Bill No. 274, entitled, " An Act to authorize a Tax
of three tenths of a mill per dollar of valuation to provide
for deficiency in the Sinking Fund under Section 3 of
Article VII. of the Constitution"

Not approved.

This Bill authorizes a tax of three tenths of one mill to meet
the deficiencies in the Canal Sinking Fund in obedience to Sec-
tion 3 of Article VII. of the Constitution. The valuation, as
nearly as can now be ascertained from the reports of the
assessors in the Comptroller's office, is $2,390,803,696. The
produce of this tax, computed on that valuation, would be

This Bill came into the Executive Chamber on the 27th day
of April. It is rendered unnecessary by a subsequent Act,
which came into the Executive Chamber on the 4th of May,
the day after the adjournment, and which provides for pay-
ing these deficiencies without a tax. This latter Bill, in
accordance with my Special Message of March 24th. 1876, in
relation to the canals, provides for the completion or cancella-
tion of pending contracts for extraordinary repairs and for the
application of $1,600,000 of money yet unexpended which had
been reclaimed from the folly, waste, and fraud incident to
those expenditures.

It contained two appropriations for real improvements to the
Erie Canal. The one was $400,000 for bottoming it out and
restoring it to the lawful depth of seven feet ; the other was
the subsequent use of $800,000 to go on with like improve-
ments in the water-way, which would facilitate and quicken the


transit of the boat by deepening the volume of the water
through which it should move on the levels. No doubt a meas-
ure so practical, so simple and economical would lessen the
cost of transportation, and would be of more real service to the
navigation than ten millions expended in the usual manner.

At the very close of the session the Chairman of the Canal
Committee of the Assembly, who had supported such improve-
ments on the Erie Canal as well as on the Champlaln, came
to me with the information that the latter appropriation of
8800,000 for the Erie would fail in the Senate, which had
manifested opposition to these measures. The next best use of
the rescued moneys seemed to be to pay debts and remit taxes.
An amendment was prepared making that change. It was
adopted fifteen minutes before the close of the legislative
session. I have signed that Bill, and now reject this.

The taxes for the year 1874 were 1\ mills on a valuation of
Taxes for 1874 82,169,307,873. They amounted to 815,727,482.

and 1876. Thc taxeg for Ig76 wiU be 3^ m | lls Qn a yal .

uation likely to be, as nearly as can now be ascertained,
82,390,803,696. That would produce 88,268,196. This result
approximates to the ideal proposed in my last Annual Message,
of reducing the taxes for 1876 to one half those of 1874. It
has been worked out, notwithstanding an increase of $276,869
in the tax for schools, caused by an increase of valuation ap-
plied to a system which makes the assessors the real arbiters
of the amount of the tax, and which has increased it a million
in the last few years. And also, notwithstanding 8200,000
is included for the commissioners of emigration, which is in
effect a loan.

DEBTS PAID IN 1874 AND 1876.

In 1874 the appropriations for sinking funds were :

Bounty Debt Sinking Fund $4,260,000

Canal Floating Debt Sinking Fund 198,888

Total in 1874 $4,458,888


In 1876 the appropriations to the Bounty Debt Sinking Fund
were :

Proceeds of one third mill tax . . . $796,934
Surplus of tax last year unappropriated

till now 475,560

Premium actually realized thus far by

Mr. Kobinson's conversions . . . 750,207

- $2,022,701

The appropriations for the Canal Debt
Sinking Fund were :

From moneys reclaimed from Extraordi-
nary Repair Fund for principal . . . $630,325

For interest 93,032


Total in 1876 $2,746,058

Less applied to sinking funds in 1876 than in 1874 . 1,712,830

In round sums, a million and three quarters less has been
absorbed into the sinking funds in 1876 than in 1874 ; but of
the two millions and three quarters which have been or are to
be so absorbed in 1876, two millions come from savings and
economies, and the tax for the sinking fund in 1876 is thereby
reduced to three quarters of one million.

Of this two millions of savings, the item of $475,000, carried
over from the taxes of last year and now first

Tf t '

appropriated, and the item of 8723,000, now res-
cued from the extraordinary canal wastes, have been explained.
The other item, $750,000 of realized premiums, remains to be

In the Report of Comptroller Hopkins, dated Jan. 4, 1876,
it was estimated that the balance of interest to be paid by the
Bounty Debt Sinking Fund over that to be received by it would
be $893,767 ; but that the premium on the securities held by
the sinking fund would amount to $1,200,000, and a surplus
over the balance of interest would remain, amounting to
$306,233. These premiums were nearly all on long stocks of


the State and United States payable in gold. On the resump-
tion of specie payments, or the approach of that result, or a
general public expectation of it, most of those premiums would
vanish. A loss of one quarter of them would extinguish all
the surplus beyond the adverse balance of the interest account.
Successful financiering in private or public affairs depends
largely upon the disposition to seize the opportune moment for
converting favorable possibilities into certainties. I ventured
in the last Annual Message to suggest the application of the
sinking fund to the payment of the debts.

This suggestion and the more explicit reasons now disclosed
would probably have gone for nothing if Mr. Comptroller Rob-
inson had not come into the charge of the State finances. His
own notions of sound finance dictated a policy which he has, as
far as has been practicable, executed with rare sagacity, judg-
ment, and skill. In four months he has bought in 84,625,900 of
the Bounty Debt by exchanges and by conversions of assets
and purchase of State liabilities. He has realized 8750,207
of these premiums, being 1255,631 in excess of the estimated
value of the assets converted, after deducting the premiums
on the debts bought in.

The whole saving in 1876 as compared with 1874, allowing
Sources of econo- f r the excess of the appropriation for schools
SduS ingthe of 1276,869, and the loan of 8200,000 to the

commissioners of emigration, is 87,936,155. Of
that sum 81,712,830 is in the diminished payments on debts.
All the residue, 86,223,325, is in real economies.

The application of savings from former taxes and from the ex-
penditures for which they were levied in the par-
ticulars mentioned, furnishes 81,949,124. The
diminution of certain canal expenditures furnishes 82,372,680.
The taxes for these purposes were,

In 18T4. In 1876.

Extraordinary repairs $1,898,144 Xone.

Awards and outlays in excess of appropriation^ 474,536 None.

Saving . $2,372,680


General expenses (including capitol and asylums and re-
formatories, and excluding increase of tax for r

(jeneral ex-

schools and advances to emigrant commis- P ense s-
sion) :

1874 $6,087,620

1876 4,005,887

Saving $2,081,733


Saving applied $1,949,124

Canal retrenchments 2,372,680

General retrenchments 2,081,733

Total $6,403,537

It thus appears that nearly 80 per cent of the reduction
of eight millions in State taxes was directly produced by these

Expenses paid out of the revenues and funds of the State,
though they do not in the first instance affect other retrench-
the taxes, ultimately come to that result when meuts>
they have to be replaced. They are therefore equally worthy
of attention.


1874. 1876. Saving*

Current .... $1,424,510 $1,120,600 $303,910

Deficiencies . . . 250,000 156,879 93,121

Total saving $397,031


These are paid out of cash in the treasury :

1874 $917,379

1876 None

Saving $917,379

VOL. II. 21


The reclamations of moneys in the treasury from unexpended
appropriations for extraordinary repairs amount
to 81,604,000. A considerable sum in addition
may be expected.


Extraordinary repairs $1,898,144

Ordinary repairs ... 415,360

Awards and outlays in excess of appropriations . 40,674

Reappropriations 577,240



Extraordinary repairs $1,898,144

Ordinary repairs 397,031

Awards and outlays in excess of appropriations . 474,536

Keappropriations 917,379


This is besides the reclamation of money realized to the
extent of $1,600,000, and is likely to reach two millions.

In the mean time no interest of the State has been injured
or neglected. The appropriation for the new capitol for the
present year of $800,000 will yield more means to pay for new
work than the usual appropriation of 81,000,000 ; for the fresh
construction will start without any of the arrears which have
heretofore encumbered its progress. The appropriation of
nearly $500,000 for continuing the construction of asylums and
reformatories is made more effective by being carefully applied
to the completion of specific portions to be brought into use.

The people may have the satisfaction of feeling that while
half of their State taxes are remitted, 88,000,000 out of
816,000,000, it is accomplished without improvidence of the
future or temporary retrenchment which cannot be maintained,
and that the appropriations have been kept clearly wit! in
the means provided by the taxes levied, so that no temporary
floating debt will be created or invasion of the sinking funds


made, as has often and to a large extent happened hitherto, in
disobedience to the express commands of the Constitution, and
in violation of the whole scheme and policy of that instrument
in respect to the State finances.

Assembly Bill No. 493, entitled, " An Act to provide for the com-
pletion or cancellation of all pending contracts for new work
upon and extraordinary repairs of the Canals ; and making
an Appropriation to pay the expenses of such necessary ex-
traordinary repairs as may be approved of and directed by
the Canal Board"

MEMORANDUM. - - 1 object to items contained in Section 4 of
this Bill, which are as follows :

"For the construction of a lift-bridge over the Erie Canal at
Main Street, in the village of Brockport, the sum of forty-five
hundred dollars, or so much thereof as may be necessary, provided
that the present bridge be taken down and removed to Palmyra
and erected over the Erie Canal between Kent and Earl streets."

" For the construction of a lift-bridge over the Erie Canal
at Brighton, Monroe County, to replace the iron bridge now ex-
isting there, the sum of forty-five hundred dollars, or so much
thereof as may be necessary/"''

"For the construction of a swing, hoist, or turn-table bridge
over the Oswego Canal in the city of Syracuse, on Salina Street,
at its intersection with Bridge Street, in place of the present bridge,
and in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 382 of the Laws
of 1874, the sum of fourteen thousand dollars, or so much thereof
as may be necessary."

"For the construction of a lift-bridge over the Erie Canal at
Genesee Street, in West Troy, to replace the iron bridge now
existing, the sum of forty-five hundred dollars, or so much thereof
as may be necessary."

"For building a lift-bridge over the Erie Canal at Exchange
Street, in the city of Lockport, in the county of Niagara, the sum
of five thousand dollars, or so much thereof as may be necessary."

"For reconstruction of an iron bridge over the Erie Canal
between Earl and Kent streets, in the village of Palmyra, the
sum of eight hundred dollars, or so much thereof as may be


As to these items, the State Engineer reports to me as
follows :

" Lift, hoist, or swing bridges.

" 1. Their first cost and cost of repairs are much greater than
for ordinary bridges.

'- 2. Navigation is liable to interruption from want of prompt-
ness in their management.

"3. They are special, local improvements, not necessary to
secure good navigation, which the localities specially benefited
should pay for and maintain, if built at all."

Mr. Cole, chairman of the Canal Committee of the Senate,
called my attention to the fact that in some of these cases no
law has been passed authorizing the construction for which the
appropriations are made, and stated to me that he had assented
to the Bill for the valuable provisions it contains, assuming that
these items would not receive the Executive sanction. In the
Memorandum on the Appropriation Bill for 1875 for extra-
ordinary repairs the following observations were made :

" If changes in the structure of bridges are to be made, they
should be done upon a systematic plan, duly considered by the
Canal Board, with the approval of the State engineer, and an ex-
amination of the particular case should be had to decide whether
the proposed change is clearly necessary for public purposes.

"The tendency to change the innumerable bridges over the
canal, at the instance of private persons and local influences, to
conform to a prevailing fashion, the contagion of which passes
from one bridge to another in the absence of any resisting
power in behalf of the State, which finally pays the cost of the
change is a serious and growing evil. The applications for
swing-bridges tearing down the existing bridges are becom-
ing frequent. They are demanded by some individual, corporate,

Online LibrarySamuel J. (Samuel Jones) TildenThe writings and speeches (Volume 1) → online text (page 25 of 52)