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Columbus day, 1892. — The celebration of the
400th anniversary of the discovery of iVrnerica was to
have taken place in 1892, but it had been planned on
a scale so magnificent that the necessary preparations
could not be made, and it was postponed until 1893.

New York iu the expositiou of 1893. — ^ew

York had been one of the first cities to take active
measures looking to this celebration ; three others, St.
Louis Chicago, and Washington, competed.

The real strife was between New York and Chicago,
but a dispute in the New York legislature delayed the
necessary action of that body, and congress decided
that the exhibition should be held in Chicago. An act
of the legislature, April 6, 1892, made available but
1300,000 for New York's share in the exhibit, and in
January, 1893, a further appropriation of $300,000
was made.

With these funds the board of managers set to work
to make the exhibit of the Empire State one of which
her citizens should not be ashamed. New York's
disappointment and her success were both voiced in
the first stanza of Mr. Joseph O'Connor's poem read
on New York day:

"' It happens oftener than we deem
That we should do the good, unsought, unknown,

Of which we did not dream —
That from the good we aimed at we should swerve,
And in our dear delusion so subserve

God's purposes, as we defeat our own."


1. Elections of 1884.

2. Death of General Grant.

1893] Summary 467

3. Statue of liberty.

4. Soldiers and civil service.

5. Prison reform; the great blizzard.

6. Arbor day.

7. Great flood.

8. Laws of 1890.

9. The State llower.

10. Columbus day.

11. Xew York in the exposition.


The Constitutional Revision of 1894

Changes. — For the sixth time in the history of the
State the constitution was to be revised. The con-
vention met at Albany, May 8, and was in session until
Sept. 29. The presiding officer was Joseph H. Choate
of New York — later minister to England.

The following are the most important of the changes
made :

1. State and municipal elections were separated, by
making the former come in the even-numbered years;
the latter in the odd-numbered years*.

2. Cities were classified. In the first-class were
placed cities having a population of 250,000, or more;
in the second-class those less than 250,000, but not less
than 50,000; in the third class all others.

3. The judiciary of the State was re-organized.

4. The appropriation of State moneys to any insti-
tution of learning, wholly or in part under the control
of any religious denomination was prohibited.

5. The use of voting machines was allowed.

6. The term of office of the governor, lieutenant-
governor and the five elective State officers was again
made two years.

* This applies only to Greater New York, Buffalo,.
Syracuse, Albany and Troy.


1894] Development or the Governor's Power 469

7. The legislature was directed to meet on the first
Wednesday in January.

8. The senate was made to consist of 50 and the
assembly of 150 members.

9. The University of the State of New York and its
regents were incorporated in the constitution.

A brief summary of the growth of executive and
legislative power in Xew York will not be out of place.

The governor.— At first the governor w^as also chief
judge. This union of executive and judicial powers
was the source of many of the controversies which
finally culminated in open rebellion and revolution.

The " director-general " of the Dutch West India
company had associated with him a council, but it could
render no decisions which w^ere binding on the gover-
nor. Under English rule the title of the chief execu-
tive was " captain-general ", and he held his office
during the pleasure of the crown.

He was authorized to suspend members of his own
council and to appoint others, not to exceed seven, in
their places.

He could summon, prorogue, and dissolve the gen-
eral assembly, as he possessed the veto powder over all
acts of legislation.

Under the first constitution the governor was elected
for three years, could call the legislature together in
extra session at any time, and could prorogue it for
a time not to exceed 60 days in any one year. He
was a member of the council of appointment, and
president of the council of revision. He was com-
mander-in-chief of the militia and admiral of the navy.
He could grant pardons except in cases 'of treason or

470 Developme:n^t of Legislative Power [Period XI

murder; in those he could suspend sentence until the
next meeting of the legislature.

The constitution of 1821 changed the governor's
term to two years, and established the present require-
ments of elegibility. The power to prorogue the
legislature was now taken from him, and the power to
grant pardon for murder was conferred.

The constitution of 1846 reduced the number of
ofl&cers which the governor could appoint with the
consent of the senate.

By the amendments of 1874 the governor's term
was again extended to three years, and his salary was
increased from 14,000 to 110,000; and he was allowed
to veto specific items in a bill appropriating money.

The legislature. — The Indian war of 1641 was the
direct cause of giving to the people of !Hew Xether-
land a voice in the government. In August of that
year Governor Kieft called together the masters and
heads of families. These gave their " opinion " on the
questions presented to them, and in accordance with
an old Eoman custom appointed " twelve men " to
represent them thereafter. These gave too much ad-
vice, and in February of the succeeding year Kieft
dismissed them.

In 1643 the governor's troubles had so increased
that he again called on the people and asked them to
elect " five or six persons" to consider matters which
the governor and council should propose.

The people preferred to leave the selection to the
governor, only asking for themselves the privilege of
rejecting any undesirable nominations. Then the
*' eight men" were chosen and the certificate of their

1894] Deyelopment OF Legislative Power 471

election is still preserved. These eight were frequently
called upon, and did not always agree with the opinions
of the governor. It is worthy of notice that their
chief differences were over questions of taxation.

With the administration of Governor Stuyvesant
came the " nine men ". The people elected 18 from
whom he selected the " nine ". They received their
appointment in September, 1647. These " nine "
soon differed with the governor, and in the contest
were favored by the States-general ; and Stuyvesant
was obliged to surrender a part of the prerogatives he
had assumed.

In Xovember, 1653, the first " convention of dele-
gates " in Xew Amsterdam met and considered the
" condition " of the colony. Their opinions and find-
ings were embodied in a memorial which they forwarded
to the Amsterdam chamber of deputies. The history
of the whole English period from 1664 to 1775 is one
long record of the resistance of the people to arbitrary
rule, and the changes in legislative methods were al-
most as frequent as the changes in the governor's office.

Under the Duke of York the governor and his coun-
cil with the high sheriff and justices not only sat as a
court of justice but also constituted a legislative body
invested with the power of making, altering and
abolishing laws, except such as referred to customs.

The first assembly was convened by Governor Don-
gan in 1683 and its first act was to formulate the cele-
brated " charter of liberties ", which was annulled by
James II in 1685.

In 1686 James abolished the general assembly also,

472 Developmen^t OF Legislative Power [Period XI

and placed all legislative powers in the hands of the
governor and his council.

Under the kindlier rule of William and Mary, the
assembly was re-established by Governor Sloughter in
1691, and the 1st assembly that convened thereafter
re-enacted the old charter of liberties. Even now
this was granting too much to the people; it was re-
pealed in 1697, and an absolute veto power over all
acts of the assembly given to the governor. In 1698
the governor dissolved the assembly for being " dis-
loyal ".

The 9th assembly was no more pliant, but freely
criticised the governor, and stood for the rights of the
people. The 10th was even more stubborn and called
the governor to account for all his expenditures. The
11th charged that the levying of taxes without the
consent of the people was illegal, and was dissolved for
the act.

This struggle between the governor and the people
continued until the accession of George I in 1714,
when the new whig ministry conceded the right of the
colonists to levy their own taxes.

Thereafter, to the revolution, the struggle continued
over the amounts to be raised and the royal encroach-
ments on other rights. Failure to secure these rights
led first to resistance by the colonies, and then to re-
taliation on the part of England. This provoked
revolution and the entire overthrow of English au-
thority in the colony.

With revolution perished all the old forms of gov-
ernment, and new forms became necessary. In the
formation of these, parties arose that divided the

1894] Development of Legislative Power 473

people. These are often called the peace party, the
party of action, the party of union.

The peace party would not press for further rights.
The party for action would at once adopt retaliatory
measures. The party of union would wait until united
action with the other colonies could be agreed upon.
From this rose the " committee of fifty-one " as a
compromise measure. This committee urged concert
of action and a general congress. This committee
secured the first continental congress.

It was succeeded by a " committee of sixty " which
was charged with the duty of carrying into effect the
recommendations of congress.

For this purpose it issued a call for the election of
delegates to a provincial congress which met in ^ew
York in May, 1775.

With the first act of war came the appointment of
an executive committee of one hundred, which secured
the election of delegates to ^ew York's first provin-
cial congress.

This congress passed the resolution which practically
renounced all obligation to the English government.
In 1776 it assumed the name " convention of repre-
sentatives of the State of Xew York ", and guided
all the affairs of the colony until the adoption of the
constitution in 1777.


1."^ Constitutional revision of 1894.

2. Development of the power of the governor.

3. Development of the power of the legislature.

4. The twelve men, 1641.

474 Summary [Period XI

5. The eight men, 1643.

6. The nine men, 1647.

7. The convention of delegates, 1653.

8. The first assembly, 1683.

9. The assemblies of 1691-1714.

10. The committee of fifty^one, 1774.

11. The committee of sixty, 1775.

12. The provincial congress, 1775.

13. The executive committee of one hundred, 1775.

14. The convention of representatives, 1776.

15. The legislature, 1777.

Eecent Events, 1894-1898

The Lexow investigation.— So many complaints
had been made against the police department of Xew
York by the " society for the prevention of crime ",
of which Kev. C. H. Parkhurst was president, that an
investigation was ordered. This was conducted in
189-1 by a legislative committee of which Mr. Clarence
Lexow was chairman. The result was the indictment
of many persons connected with the police department.

Electric power at Niagara.— In 1886 a charter
had been granted to a company allowing the use of
the falls for the generation of electricity. Work was
begun in 1893. In 1894 an appeal was made to the
constitutional committee of the State to restrict the
further use of this power. It was refused on the
ground that such a restriction would constitute a
monopoly of that power to those companies already

Compulsory education^ 1894. — Previous laws
intended to compel the attendance of certain pupils
on the public schools had failed to be effective for lack
of sufficient penalties, a more stringent law was there-
fore passed by the legislature of 1894.

It placed private and parochial schools under the
supervision of public school authorities in matters of
attendance, and provided special attendance officers

and ample penalties.


476 Enlargement of the Erie Canal [Period XI


In the fall election of 1894 the people ratified

the new constitution by a

majority of 156,108, and

^ m^^HI elected as governor the re-

^*^ -jHHB publican candidate, Levi P.

X ^^ Morton, a former minister

to France and vice-president

of the United States.

The legislative enact-
ments of 1895 included a
requirement that the United

Levi Parsons Morton, 1824—

Governor, 1895-96 btatcs flag be displayed on

all school buildings, when schools are in session;
made the study of the effects of stimulants and narcotics
compulsory in all schools; provided for the use of the
blanket ballot, and for the submission to the people of
a proposition to appropriate 9 millions to enlarge the
Erie canal*.

Libraries in New York city. — A joint committee
representing the Tilden trust fund, the Astor library,
and the Lenox library agreed, Feb. 22, 1895, upon a
plan for the consolidation of all these into one great
public institution devoted to the free use of the people.
The new library is known as '' The New York Public
Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations ", and
its building will be upon the site of the old reservoir,
Fifth avenue and 42d street.

The Raines law. — The legislature was now strongly

* This act was approved by the people in November,
1895, by a majority of 343,770 votes. It has since
given rise to much controversy.

1896] The Greater Xew York 477

republican, and in full accord with the governor, who
did not veto a single bill. One important measure
before it was the " Raines bill ", intended both to regu-
late the traffic in intoxicating liquors and to provide
for local option. The passage of this bill met with
vigorous opposition, but it finally became a law and is
still (1900) in operation.

Greater New York. — A second measure, and one
which attracted the attention of the whole country,
was the " Greater Xew York bill ". This act, passed
by the legislature of 1896, consolidated into one
municipality New York city, the counties of Kings
and Richmond, Long Island City, the towns of New-
ton, Flushing and Jamaica, and a part of the town of

A commission to inquire into the expediency of this
consolidation had been appointed in 1890, and had
brought in a bill in 1893. It was in 1895 submitted
to the people of the cities and towns to be included
with the result that all except two towns voted in its

On April 12, 1897, a charter passed the legislature
and received the signature of Governor Black. The
new m.etropolis had an area of 359 square miles and a
population of 3,500,000. By the terms of the act the
consolidation took place January 1, 1898.

The presidential campaign of 1896, William
McKinley elected. — Again a presidential election
aroused the people. There were eight tickets in the
field: republican, democratic, prohibition (regular),
prohibition (national), socialist labor, democratic free
silver, populist, silver party.

478 Dedication of Grant's Tomb [Period XI

The chief issue, as stated, was between the gold

William McKinley, 1844— Frank S. Black, 1853—

President. 1897— Governor, 1897-98

standard and the free coinage of silver. Kew York
from her large commercial interests took the side of
the gold standard, and gave a majority of 268,825 for
William McKinley of Ohio.

National issues controlled all elections in the State,
and along with a majority for the McKinley electoral
ticket New York elected a republican governor,
Frank S. Black of Troy.

In January, 1897, Thomas C. Piatt was again elected
to the United States senate, after an interval of 15 years.

Dedication of Grrant's tomb. — The remains of
the general had been removed on April 18, 1897, from
their temporary resting place to the tomb in Riverside
park, and on April 27, the 75th anniversary of General
Grant's birth, his tomb was dedicated- New York
city appropriated $50,000 for expenses of the cere-

President McKinley's first words in his brief address
were, " A great life dedicated to the welfare of the
nation here finds its earthly coronation."

1898] ■ The Spanish War 479

Events of 1898. — The legislature which met in
January passed a large number of local bills, transacted
the usual and necessary State business and adjourned

Even while in session the members were evidently
influenced by the feeling, then pervading the whole
country, that war with Spain was among the possibilities.

They passed many bills relating to armories and the
State militia, and appropriated large sums of money
for military purposes; while they also provided gen-
erously for schools and State charities. Governor
Black called the legislature together in extra session,
July 11, to provide for manner, time and places for
receiving the votes of such citizens of the State as
should be in the field during the November election.

The county of Nassau was, in April, set off from
Queens county. It is comprised within the limits of
the towns of Hempstead, ^orth Hempstead and Oys-
ter Bay.

Election of Theodore Roosevelt^ 1898.— The
November election excited unusual interest, and re-
sulted in the choice of the entire republican State tick-
et, with a republican majority in both branches of the
legislature. Colonel Eoosevelt's personal popularity,
honestly won, undoubtedly aided in the general re-
sult. The old war spirit was abroad and hero worship
again possessed the minds of the people.

New York in the Spanish war. — IS^ew York can
claim no priority in the success of the war with
Spain, but she may justly share in the honors of its
brilliant events. Her people without any distinction
of party loyally sustained President McKinley in all

480 The Spanish War [Period XI

his war measures, and took a reasonable pride in his
firm military policy.

The march of events from the time the Maine
entered Havana harbor, Jan. 24, to the settlement of
the preliminary terms of peace, Xov. 28, were so rapid
as to appear, in review, like the different scenes in a
drama *.

New York's contribution to the war. — In re-
sponse to the president's first call, New York sent two
troops of cavalry, mounted, uniformed and fully
equipped, and 12 regiments of infantry ready for the
field. On receipt of the second call Xew York at once
sent forward 3,772 men, who were placed in the regi-
ments already formed. In June the State was asked
to furnish an additional force of three batteries and
three regiments — in all 4,186 men.

In addition to this land force the State furnished
851 men for the navy from her "naval militia". A
large part of these went on board the " Yankee''\ a
merchant vessel, converted into a man-of-war, as part
of the " mosquito" fleet. " The Yankee was the first
vessel, manned by naval militia, to be under fire, and
the last ship to leave the scene of action at the Santiago
battle of June 6 f." The following partial list of naval
officers from Xew York is of interest: Rear- Admirals

* The student is likely to make the mistake of sup-
posing that the wrecking of the Maine was the cause
of the war. It was only one incident in a long con-

t See report of adjutant-general of New York for

1898] The Spai^ish War 481

Sampson, Norton, Sicard; Commanders Symonds, Gib-
son, Belknap, Lillie, Nichols, Brownson, Percy, Han-
ford, Craig; Commodore Howell; Captains Sigsbee,
Philip, Cooper, Crowninshield, Ludlow, Shepard.

The cost to New York. — The total number of
lives contributed for Cuban independence by New
York, cannot now be told with any exactness. The
money cost is substantially as follows:

For pay to officers and men $ 248,342.17

For uniforms, etc 264,278.55

For equipments 92,856.38

For camp expenses 127,858.71

For medical supplies 12,510.86

For ammunition and arms 9,072.62

For navalmilitia 21,472.09

For flags and colors 1,497.80

For miscellaneous expenses 172,069.78

From this sum there is claimed as a rebate

from the United States government... 380,796.56

Leaving total cost to the State ..I 569,162.40

The total amount of State appropriations
for military purposes during the year
was..... $ 789,625.00


1. Lexow investigation.

2. Electric power at Niagara.

3. Compulsory education.

4. New York city libraries.

5. The Raines law.

6. Greater New York.

482 Summary [Period XI

7. New York and the gold standard.

8. Dedication of Grant's tomb.

9. Legislative action.

10. New York in the Cuban war.

11. The cost to New York.

Recent Events, 1899-1900

Independent element. — In the political field there
liave been few quieter years in the history of the State
than 1899. The usual result of an attempt to force
eKtreme measures upon a great party had driven a large
portion of the independent element from the demo-
cratic to the republican ranks, and the whole adminis-
tration of the State govenment was in the hands of the

Chauncey M. Depew, republican, was elected to the
United States senate to take the place of Edward
Murphy, democrat.

Legislation. — The governor and legislature were in
accord, and nearly every measure which passed the
legislature received the governor's signature.

Laws were enacted which were intended still further
to protect the food supply of our great cities.

Enlarged powers were conferred upon the governor
for the protection of the elective franchise and for the
punishment of crimes against the election laws.

The high license law was amended and made more
stringent in its penalties.

Taxation. — The most important legislative measure
of the year was with reference to taxation. When it
is considered that besides the enormous sums raised by
taxation for State purposes the people must meet other
and often larger levies for county, municipal, and
school purposes, the question how these taxes shall be


484 Taxation of Franchises [Period XI

levied becomes one of the most important with which
the legislature has to deal.

A large part of the property of the State, both real
and personal, has always been beyond the reach of the
tax-gatherer. Vast sums in the possession of churches
and other ecclesiastical associations have never been

Other and still larger sums are in the possession of
individuals who manage to secrete their wealth. Many
millions are in the keeping of savings banks and other
depositories into which the assessor never enters.

Besides these there are many valuable franchises
held by different corporations which have escaped taxa-
tion under decisions of the court of appeals given in
1891 and 1897, by which it was held that only the
tangible real and personal property of such corpora-
tions could be taxed.

A new franchise law known as the " Ford bill "
passed both houses of the legislature near the close of
the regular session, intended to remedy this defect.
Some of its provisions were unsatisfactory to the gov-
ernor. He therefore withheld his signature and called
a special session to meet on May 22. At this extraor-
dinary session the bill was amended, again passed by
both houses and signed by the governor.

This law makes it the duty of the State assessors to
assess every franchise in the State according to its
value, even though it does not own a foot of real

* It was estimated that this law would yield about
17 millions in taxes, of which nearly 10 millions would
be collected in New York city alone.

1900J AppKOPRiATiojfS OF 1900 485

The legislature of 1900 was republican in both
branches. It met Jan. 3 and adjourned April 6, yet it
passed 776 laws, 409 of which were purely local, hav-
ing no application to the State at large.

This growth of legislation is viewed with concern by
many thoughtful men.

Appropriations. — Among the appropriations made
were the following:

To the State department of public instruction,

To the regents of the university, $740,540.

For the State exhibit in the Paris exposition, $50,000.

For the statue of Lafayette, to be presented to the
city of Paris by the United States, $10,000.

For a monument to the memory of the martyrs who

Online LibraryWilliam Reed PrenticeHistory of New York state (Volume 1) → online text (page 26 of 34)