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STATI CONVENTION, in his opinion, three committees would have been Self government ought thus to be confided to the
enough; one for the Judiciary, one for the Executive, people. He knew that in the county of Dutchess it THE JUDICIARY.
and one for the Finances. By means of the labors of could and would all be carried into effect and meet
these we would immediately have gone to work, and with gsneral and publie commendation. SPEECH OF THE HON. JAMES TALLMADGE, the leaks in the great vessel of State would have been He would now allude to the supreme court and to
OF DUTCHESS, IN THE CONSTITUTIONAL soldered up as the public had demanded. The Cou the contemplated reorganization of that court. It CONVENTION, AUGUST 20, 1846, ON THE vention, in its wisdom, had spent six weeks of the was indispensable to continue a county court with NEW JUDICIARY SYSTEM.
session in the reception and discussion of resolutions, criminal jurisdiction to a certain extent, as evidently Mr. TallmADGE rose to address the Committee. revolutionary in their principles and tendencies and necessary for its local business. It had been thus conHe said that the gentleman from Chantauque (Mr. not one of which would ever be brought to maturity, tinued, and with civil jurisdiction, for seventy years, Patterson) had referred a day or two since, in this de This it was that he had disapproved and early pro and since the foundation of our government. We debate, to a bill of charges by a county judge. In that tested against ; and now at the end of twelve weeks rived our justices, county and supreme courts, from bill he had charged $78 for one days' service, and in we find ourselves in this position, about to cut off de the experience of several centuries in England. There another he had charged upwards of $140 for two or bate for want of time. For one he was proud to see could be no other reason, to take the civil jurisdiction three days' services. All these charges were legal; it was now understood. To stop debate--the previous from the county courts, than to increase the business and many others, much worse, that have been made question—to cut off amendments—a reference to a in the supreme court, and thus justify an increase of at different times, were also legal. He had risen, not select committee to report complete-are all contri the number of the judges of the supreme court, and to allude merely to this point in the abstract, but to vances, not well suited to the consideration of this augment the patronage of party politics, by giving such say this much to the Convention, in order to show Convention, and the discreet formation of the articles an increased number of judges to popular election, them the necessity for more discreet legislation here of a new Constitution.
and which must come to the lawyers only. If the after. When he (Gen. T.) spoke of these charges as He, however, thanked the committee for many civil jurisdiction of the county courts must be destroy. legal, he meant that they were lawfully made accord. points which they had presented, and which would ed to justify the enlargement of the supreme court, ing to existing laws; and that there were many more be beneficial ; at the same time they could not be yet he would urge that even this ruinous supreme much worse cases than those which had been present expected to have acted with any great unanimity. court could not so well perform the small local busied by the gentleman from Chautauque (Mr. Patterson). It was a by-word in the country, that if you want to ness. It might please the lawyers and judges to Why, so recently as the year 1835, an act was passed get a body that can never agree upon any possible be all elevated in their business to the grade of the by the legislature of this state, entitled “An act to subject, get a jury of lawyers ! (laughter,) and here supreme court-yet he was confidont it would lead reduce the number of town officers, and to facilitate we had a jury of twelve or thirteen lawyers; and the to the establishment of numerous minor and local the auditing of their accounts." This act, in its 21st proud result at last has been, that after many weeks officers, and the increase of fees. He would form section, takes from the District Attorney the discretion of discussion two of them have been brought to agree the supreme court upon that consideration which which he had hitherto held, and for the due exercise upon a report !-(much laughter.) That a prophecy would require a less number of judges and a diminu. of which, he had been responsible to the supervisors should have brought about a result of such unity, tion of expense. and the public, and makes it mandatory that when a almost made him fearful of a prosecution for witch The committee proposed thirty-two judges; and to criminal cause is put off, the District Attorney, the craft! (laughter.) We have seen these minority dis the city of New-York four more, for extra business ; prosecuting officer, shall recognize all the witnesses senting reports, as grand sprouts springing up from and four others for the court of appeals and to hold to appear at the ensuing court; by which there was the roots; all so diverse in character and form that the circuits. Although my worthy friend who sits near at once a Pandora's box opened for the commission most skilful botanist in the world could not attempt me was greatly excited the other day, when it was of great wrongs, amongst which might be, and fre to classify them.
argued, that the judges would require to have $3000 quently was, the increase of fees and the unnecessary We are still interchanging ideas, and when we have each as an annual salary; yet, he said that it was inimprisonment of witnesses that could not give security. finished this discussion ; when each point is fully can dispensably necessary that these judges should be all Another abuse was opened, growing out of the busi vassed-we shall then go to voting, and as he hoped kept on an equality. And in order to call for the ness of the Attorney's office; and multiplying the with the best results. That we may not be mystified talent requisite they must have liberal and appropriate fees of subaltern officers and police magistrates. He in our work, let us commence it in regular order, and compensation. Will $3000 answer? Certainly not alluded to this in charity to the legislature, which pass begin at the foundation ; that is, with the justices' less than that sum. And when you send them traved such a law-under such a title; but he thought it courts. He bowed with great commendation to the elling on circuits, they must have a liberal allowance afforded sufficient evidence that it was a trick or fraud wisdom of the gentleman from New York, (Mr. Mor. for their travel fees and expenses. He was certain, ou that legislature, which, perhaps, was busy with ris,) who the other day proposed a modification of therefore, that it would not be less than $3000, and something else, than merely thinking: (laughter,) || justice's courts, to one justice and a clerk, and limit confident that the liberality of the party, would some of them probably, absent occassionally to some ing their jurisdiction to one town. It did not seem soon swell it to $4000. He would make no place for refreshments (much laughter). By looking to have occurred to that gentleman that there were objection to it. But when we ask the people to take at the 19th section of the same act, geutlemen would towns of at least twenty miles in extent in some parts the constitution, my word for it, they will begin to see that it helped to swell the mass of fees, and opened of the State. Go to the county of Dutchess—there calculate the cost. Forty judges with $4000 each, is the door for corruption, fraud, and a train of evils, was the town of Fishkill, about twenty miles in length 160,000 to start with, as a judiciary, besides the many which it was not necessary now to enquire into. one way, and many other towns of nearly as great an minor officers. The people would begin to count the
That we must all have offices, looks too much like extent in that county. These courts must be multi cost as compared with the present system. It is said the English system of primogeniture, and by pro plied for local convenience in the several neighbor. the clerks fees are over $60,000. For his own part, viding for the younger sons of the nobility, in the hoods, and were even more essential to the new than his preferences were for a smaller supreme court with army, navy, &c. : This system of our judiciary, with to the older countries. No one court of general juris a well organized county court and with original juristhe numerous judges, clerkships, and other officers diction, with a clerk and other officers, can supply diction ; which he (Mr. T.) thought would suit the provides a like result. In England all that class of the local convenience of these tribunals of an indi whole people much better and be more economical. persons are thus amply provided for; but our more vidual magistrate. The county courts were required, Having thus intimated, in order that I might not be economical and prudent republican system will not and he would make them the best kinds of courts misunderstood in any part of my remarks, my preferallow that plan to be attempted here. We must con- | that they could possibly be made, but he would still ences for keeping the justices' courts substantially as form our institutions to the new state of society into preserve them for local convenience. His attention they are, a court subject to legislation, and which can which we are placed by our new form of government. in early life, had been turned to practising in the be amended, changed, or altered, by that power-
Too many of us prefer office,-dislike labor, and Courts of Common Pleas, and his feelings were very | having done that, and having constituted, as he would intend to live by our wits, where some are liable to early interested in favor of these courts. He looked suggest, these county couris,-he would leave the be short in capital. The report of the Judiciary Com back with admiration, love and delight, to the good old legislature to make such judicious arrangements as mittee, is a well contrived hospital for this class of plain, honest, business doing, common pleas court of were deemed desirable wiih regard to the criminal political invalids. The tax-payers will murmur at the Dutchess county. On the bench of thatcourt had batable business which these courts have to transact. He increase of these pensioners of party to subsist on lawyers, withdrawn from business ; retired merchants, would prefer a supreme court of twelve judges; the salaries and fees.
and men of ample talents and liberal education; and state to be divided into four districts with three judges The debate which had arisen on this judiciary ques y all of them proud to be judges of the common pleas to each, to hold circuits, and one of them from each tion he regarded as one of the proudest and most of the county of Dutchess. We never wanted a court district to constitute a supreme court over all. It valuable that had yet taken place upon this floor; and of the highest possible compensation ; for in those would be very easily arranged, then, that they could he commended it most heartily for the talent, the il times of simplicity, the court received honor from all, come together in Banc for the supreme court; and spirit, the learning, the good feeling, and the assiduity and few appeals were made from their decisions. It that mode would satisfy him, and be one of economy by which it had been characterized, He regretted was quite possible that in new counties this may be and local convenience. It should be remembered that that the gentleman from Cayuga (Mr. Shaw,) should different-he could not say; he took gentlemen at a court of five judges can hear and decide causes no have felt it necessary to offer a resolution to limit this their word, although dark in description, My scheme faster than a court of three judges. A division of the debate ; and he (Gen. T.) hoped, that resolution would be, not to destroy them, but to elevate the judges to hold courts in the four districts, in addition would be laid to sleep on the table.
court; to improve it, and perfect it. The system of to the circuit courts in the counties, is equal in effect In the commencement of this Convention, be had justices' courts, common pleas and king's bench or to a four-fold increase of the present judicial strength forewarned members against the bad policy of ap supreme court, is one derived from antiquity. You of the state. It will be entirely adequate to do the pointing nineteen standing committees. He said then can draw an outline of the plan and leave the legisla- || whole business of the state ; including that of the that it would lead to difficulty, and the result had ture to fill up the details. He would be willing, and court of chancery, when simplified and brought to verified the truth of his predictions.
he advised to leave to each court original jurisdic trial as common causes before a jury. He should not He had urged then, that they ought, at the most to tion; it was necessary for local convenience. Let the object to elect their judges. He would prefer their have had no more than eight standing committees, supervisors be made a local legislature to fix the com- appointinent, by the Governor and Senate. He would one for each article of the Constitution; and indeed, pensation, and perhaps many other useful regulations. differ on this point, if a proper mode of election, or
if an approved appointing power can be provided. tain quarters and in certain political circles. Opposi material-new men, not committed or prejudiced by But if the judges are to be elected, he had no hesi- || tion to these measures of prevention to judicial in a former opinion. tation to say, it was inadmissable to connect them on trigue, and seeking for other appointments, was but If you will provide such a court of appeal, then you the same ticket with the officers of the state prisons too apparent. It was a notice that judges nominated will have that kind of justice which will not only be
-the Governor, shorn of all power and respect; and by a party would continue with party feeling and right; but in which the public will believe and place the other state officers, and all to be selected as party ambition for some other place, and open to party
implicit confidence. If you take a contrary course, bantlings of party, and for their service and fitness influences.
it will inevitably lead to contrary results and public as instruments of party strifes. The judges cannot be
It had been said in debate, that the great central
dissatisfaction. separated in the feelings incident to such elections. power of politics in Albany, was to be broken up.
I hope I will not be understood as making personal This objection is still of greater force, against the He feared a greater power was to be made a consti
remarks, or intending anything unkind to the honoraelection on such a ticket, of the judges of the Court tutional fixture.
ble gentlemen who have advocated this plan. It is of Appeals.
not my purpose to do so. Yet I must allude to some
Before going any further he would briefly allude to The election of the Judges of the Court of Appeals,
practical lessons adduced from the history of this state, the Court of Errors. Look for a moment at this court. ought to be kept separate, and the election of the
to impress more fully upon the committee the utter It was established in the constitution of 1777, to conJustices of the Supreme Court-ought to be in the
inutility and impropriety of such court of appeals. sist of the senators of the state and the chancellor, or several senate districts, they being thirty-two, and cor
About 1840, or a little before that time, there were responding with the number of ihe proposed judges.
the judges, according as the appeal was from either cases in legislation and business that aroused public To create eight judicial districts, and unite the elec
court. He eulogized the operations of this court from feeling ; and here I do not hesitate to say that the tion of four judges in each, will not bring the election
its commencement, and said that it stood at the con abolishment of imprisonment for debt, by the act of
vention in 1800 in good order with the people, and home to the electors, and a personal acquaintance with
1831, aided to create a new state of society-opened which had been continued from that day to the present, the candidate ; nor produce so sure a scrutiny into
new causes for adjudication—tore asunder existing his fitness and character. I urge the election of the
sustained by public approbation, and was respected society, and brought a new classification of litigation,
for its integrity. Its decisions would compare in judges in the single senate districts, as a much better
and I fear a change of moral sentiment. test of his character and adaptation to the duties
wisdom and legal principles with any other tribunal In your old tribunals, if you had a debt against a of the office ; combined on a general ticket with in our language. Thus it stood also in 1821-halt a
man and prosecuted him and recovered judgment, the century after its foundation; and it was left untouchothers; less scrutiny will be had, and less fit men will
ordinary course of proceeding was, you had a right ed by that convention. This was the highest eulogy get on a ticket, and may be elected.
to imprison him, the debtor. It was his business and that could have been pronounced. It is not the sysThe objection has been made that an election by
interest to satisfy the creditor of the integrity of his tem, but the admiuistration of the system, which has transaction, and to show that misfortune had led to his single districts may bring the election of a judge withbeen a matter of reinark and reproach.
insolvency, and in that way he was often able to induce in the influence of popular excitement in some local
After 1821, and 1846, in the latter part of this history, his creditors to compound the debt, and where he districts ; of abolition-anti-mason-anti-rent, or some other ism.
could not pay the whole of it, for him to pay half or This is is no objection. One or two out
its reputation has changed, and tho interests of the of thirty-two will produce no evil. I hold, (said Mr.
state have been made to give way for personal and two-thirds ; to sign off, or to submit to imprisonment T.) that minorities had better be represented in all
political conflicts. The causes of this change he until he could take the benefit of the act. And when our elections, and even among the judges. While would not here allude to.
he came to take the act, he was called upon the stand
and there he stood in the presence of all his accusing
In suits between individuals its integrity and its inparty formerly elected the three inspectors of elections from one side the other side made complaints of un telligence had never been doubted ; in cases of party
creditors :-there he stood the test of a searching infairness in decisions. But now, since the law pro contlicts and political controversies, its liability to
vestigation of the combined wisdom of the courtvides for a ticket to contain the names of only two of swerve had latterly been sometimes questioned. He
the sharpened intellect of the deeply interested crowd the three inspectors, one of the minority must be here alluded to cases in relation to election laws, banks,
around him—and if he sustained the truth, and showed elected.
that misfortune-not improvidence or dishonesty-had It is thus represented in the board, and en &c., as instances of the weakness of that court at
led to his present condition, then he was absolved in tire satisfaction has been the result. If the election present and for the last few years, and as the causes
the face of the court and the world, and went forth of the judges was in single districts, and if any should for an opposition which had been got up against it.
to society again a new and vet an honest man ! be elected by any local excitement, it would not im
Sir, we trust we have purity in this tribunal. It is
What was the result when they abolished imprisonpair the court, while all partaking in the local excite
not only necessary to have justice done, but to believe ment for debt? It let loose a wild spirit of speculaments, feeling their views were represented in the
that it is justice, and make the people believe so. The tion. It increased the litigation in the state threetribunal, would have confidence, and more readily
community at large must be made to believe that the yield to its decisions. It is important that our judicial
fourths; and itopened that Pandora's box of a creditor's adjudications of the courts are to be taken for truth, bill in chancery for disclosures and discovery of proptribunals shall not only administer justice, but that it and for the reason of their absolute purity.
erty hidden. be done under such circumstances that the parties
To do this we must have a tribunal free from doubt,
This turned an immense mass of business on the and the public believe it is justice. formed in a manner free from suspicion. And here
chancery jurisdiction. Before this time the supreme May we not say that the impending downfall of the let me remark, that I differ from the provisions of the
court and the other courts were able to do all their present courts has grea:ly arisen from the entire committee widely in the manner in which they have
business. There were but five judges as a supreme monopoly, for several years past, of judicial appointconstituted the court of appeals, and in requiring four
court, and with but one chancellor. Soon your calenments from party actors and agents; and also of all judges of the supreme court to form part of the tribu
ders were blocked up by this mighty accumulation of the clerkships and officers of the courts, with receivers nal, with four to be elected, and who could never hold
business; you had opeued new inducements to bad of the fees and perquisites ; and all has been depend
an affirmative against the four judges of the supreme morals in the debtor with no accountability, and a ent on, and coming from the courts. One-half the court. He (Mr. T.) would have no judge who tried
course of profligatc expenditure, and leading to vast community have thus been embodied in their feela cause at a circuit, or in a court below, to sit on an
and disastrous consequences. Mr. T. made no objecings against the courts. Clients often believe and say appeal from his own decision. It destroyed confidence.
tion to this thing; if you please, he agreed with it all. they must and do employ party lawyers to gain a fair
It awakened a doubt. Their minds, from the fallibili But such were some of the mighty causes and results hearing of their cause, before a court of party judges ty of human nature, would naturally be biassed, hav
by which our judiciary system was overwhelmed; --judges arising from and sustained by party politics ing prejudged ; and even if they were not, the people
and the calender of causes which averaged from 125 Incongruities in the scale of counsellors have been would never give them credit for being disinterested
to 150, soon afterwards rose to 700 or 900 causesthus exhibited, and business and courts have experiand impartial. A calm review by a new set of men
such was the alteration and sudden course of business enced influences arising from collateral causes. Ambiis essential to a submission in feeling.
in our courts of justice. It had been productive of tion has heretofore showed itself willing to gain the
He would be told that we should have four judges,
important consequences and curious results, especially place of a judge, as a stepping-stone, to gain some
in the transfer of property. other promotion-governor, or president, &c. Inelito be elected by the people, to operate as a check on
What next took place? The court then decided these other four. But these four electod by the peogibility to any other appointment during the term,
" that possession must ever accompany a bill of sale with a compensation not to be varied by increase or ple must be lawyers, to be able to hold circuits. Their
of property," which gave rise to and adopted the disdiminution, must be unalterably fixed, to secure the judgments would, beyond doubt, be influenced by
tinction between “ fraud in law and fraud in fact;" independence and the integrity of the judges. These their deference to the superior legal attainments and
the one to be determined by the court-the other to fixtures have been prevented, and are not provided in experience in legal matters of the four from the Su
be left to the decision of the jury. the articies of the new constitution. The judges will preme Court bench. Why have them to endorse only ?
This was fatal to
the interest of wild speculation, irresponsible advenremain to be selected from party politics, to continue || Better have eight new and impartial men as the court
turers, and of men in commercial pursuits, with a lax to have party feelings, in elections, and will be open of appeals, and thus lave entire confidence-all to be
state of morals. It ended by “lobbying" arrangeto ambitious desires for further party promotion. Party free from suspicion.
ments, procuring a law from the legislature that there nominations will ever make judges with party feel. To such court of appeals—ove.half from the Su- should be no “fraud in law and fraud in fact;" but ings, and will impair public confidence in the impar preme Court he would never for a moment acquiesce. that all should be left to the jury to be decided beyond tiality and integrity of their judicial decisions. Ineli It would be better, and he would prefer, to have the the control of the court. This led to perplexity and gibility to any other place during their term, could decisions of the Supreme Court final, and there let confusion, and unsettled the commercial dealings and only prevent this evil, and make them impartial. It judgment stop. This, therefore, he considered to be the integrity of the country. The supreme court would admonish and instruct them to abstain from a radical defect in the report of the committee, in would not conform and did not bow to this course of party politics during their judicial term of office, by | fixing this court of appeals, with one-half not impar- || legislation. Collisions thus arose, and insubordination the inutility and impossibility to gain any other place | tial. Therefore I most respectfully urge, that the
Cherefore I most respectfully urge, that the existed between the court and the legislature. It is during the term of their judicial election, and its ac public will command that you give them either no not necessary to say which was right, or who was to ceptance by a judge. Mr. T. regretted to see all appeal, or constitute this highest tribunal so that it shall | blame. My purpose is only to show such collisions these prudent precautions against management and be kept entirely distinct from the Supreme Court-!| have always and will often arise between the judiciintrigue on the bench, were not well received in cer- ll free from suspicion, constituted of free and original | ary and the legislature.
Let us go one step further. In 1836-7, the spirit banking; and yet their decision is not regarded as
STATE CONVENTION. of speculation pervaded us all. We were all getting the law of the land by certain other tribunals of the
EDUCATION. bastily rich. Millions of capital were invested here states. Such is now the harmony of our judicial pro Speech of the Hon. Solomon Townsend of New-York. and there; even the state itself entered into it, by the
ceedings. issue of its stocks for its works of internal improve
Mr. Townsend regretted that his friend from Her
This conflict of decision is now ascribed by some kimer (Mr. Loomis) should feel called upon to change ment and various public measures ; sometimes wise
to the fact that the court of errors, the court of appeals the position in which this morning the Convention and sometimes otherwise. What followed then? The
in that case, being called on to decide as to the con had left the subject. He regretted it the more, as he iegislature had to extend all its power and resources
stitutionality of their own acts as members of the did not see at the moment any of the committee to save the banking system, or else to submit to the
charged with the subject of education, in their seats. legislature. And for this reason and radical defect in disgrace and stain of repudiation. What did the senate then agree to do? The asits organization, it is now urged to abolish the senate This principle of entire freedom from charge for the
instruction of the children who attend the public sembly had passed a bill in 1838, appropriating a mil
as a court of appeals; and in the same breath and by lion of dollars, notwithstanding the bankrupt credit of
the same speakers, and from the report of the same schools, was not by any means a new idea in his own the state—and the senate passed the bill extending it
committee, this Convention is gravely called upon to part of the state, and it had been found to work with
make a new court of appeals, including in its organi eminent success. When, in 1841, important modifito four millions instead of one million. Then came
zation the same radical defect of one half of the judges, cations were made in the general school law of the a special message from Gov. Marcy, recommending
to consider and reverse as members of the court of state, it was conceded by most of the gentlemen from an issue of state stocks " for the canal purposes," to
appeals, their own decisions as members of the su the country, that with respect to the entire equality the amount of six or eight millions of dollars, and
preme court. He insisted that it presented a farce with which the children who availed themselves of which sum thus obtained on the credit of the canal
too ludicrous to be entertained. And especially as a public education, in the city of New-York--met upon the was to be loaned to the banks, to sustain them from ruin; upon which the act was actually passed, pro
justification for giving such extraordinary powers both benches of their schools—the system of the city was viding for an issue of state stocks, for seven and a
far more preferable to the mode of rating, (as it was of original jurisdiction as a supreme court, and final half millions of dollars for such purpose, (see message,
power as a court of appeal. With such double au called,) pursued in the interior of the state ; thus dis Senate Journals, 1838, page 416 aud page 459.)
ihority as a supreme court and a court of appeal, this criminating between the parents of scholars, in the The
supreme court would stand not only independent, Journals of 1838 show all this.
matter of contribution, in place of sustaining the This state of things continued until the public lia
school by a general tax upon the property of the disbut would command and control both the executive bilities amounted to eleven and a half millions. It
trict. It was urged with force then that the children and the legislative departments of the government. It cannot but lead to abuse.
were made unavoidably sensible of the fact that there then became necessary to arrest this mad career, in
was an inequality in their position, and that this feel. order to save the country from disgrace if not from
The court of appeals without any original jurisdic
ing was detrimental to that buoyancy and happiness ruin. He then alluded to the policy under the law tion, and only a power of determination on an appeal, of 1842; how they called in capital, made a change
in their associations with their schoolinates, so essenand to be composed of new men elected by the state,
would be salutary in all its tendencies; affording satin the entire business of the state, and as a conse
tial to their progress in the acquisition of useful in
struction. Every incentive should exist to make the quence, increasing litigation to such a degree as to isfaction to suitors and an harmonizing influence to
the other branches of the government-and it would overwhelm and bury your courts. He would not
school attractive to the scholar, and nothing in the
system should compel them to feel that others were enter into the discussion as to whether this or that be indifferent and able to check all the collisions, to
there by any better right than themselves. course of policy was wright or wrong, He proposed arise between the various departments. Such a court
There was no time then to show, what was per. only to allude to the facts as history had presented of appeal, made independent by a fixed compensa.
fectly apparent to all but the contracted and prejudiced them, and as showing the causes which had led to the tion, and impartial by ineligibility to any other ap
that the benefits of a well educated community reacted call for a reform in our jndiciary. pointment during the term of their office, would |
directly upon the property of the neighborhood, by •
command public confidence. But these cautions and The legislature, to relieve the public from this real,
rendering that more secure from depredations, and yet artificial distress, passed the act for PRIVATE preventives are all opposed in this Convention. They
more desirable from the better society and inorality that BANKING. The plan was to call forth capitalists and are too rigid for young ambition. These facts
followed as the attendants upon knowledge. The farinduce them to restore a circulating medium to the strengthened him in his objections to the court of
seeing man of wealth paid no taxes more cheerfully country, and thus to regain public confidence. The appeals, as proposcd by the committee. He would
than such as went to promote knowledge in his neighmeasure aided the object in a degree, and a change have no man on an appeal to sit in judgment on his
borhood. and with it a capacity for self-support and soon after took place in the pressure on public credit. own acts. My purpose is not to say that all this is The abuses of the past were thus charged on the bank wrong; but that it was unworthy of the dignity
The city of New-York now paid near half a million ing system, and the tone of public sentiment was of the state, the purity of our judicial system, and the
of dollars, annually, for the free instruction of all made to call for their destruction. To aid in this ob character of our legislature ; and that we ought not
children between five and sixteen years of age, that ject, was the trigh road to popularity, into which many to adopt it. He again urged his objections to the
presented themselves to the city schools. This inclurushed forward. court of appeals as proposed by the committee, and
ded all books, stationery, &c.; so that the whole ex. Your supreme court then, in conformity with pubtherefore had no hesitation in saying that he would
pense of education was borne by the city treasury. lic clamor, decided this law for private banking to be prefer that the decision of the new supreme court
Notwithstanding this heavy charge upon property, it unconstitutional. The question was carried to the should be final. It was not worth while to impose
was met with more cheerfulness than almost any ourt of errors, the senate ; and they reversed that upon the parties the expense of the farce of an ap
other, as its living benefits were constantly before us. decision. It was then objected and said, that they peal, before the same judges that had pronounced the
There were many who deemed the matter of instrucwere the identical senate that passed the law, and first decision. If we were to have a court of appeal,
tion not a government concern-saying that when you hat their determination must be disregarded. They he desired to have one that would not be influenced
have once commenced, you might, upon the same prinhaving pronounced the decision, it was the law for by legislative cabals or executive influence. He
ciple, give every child a trade or profession, as a matthe time being, and the subordinate tribunals were would have them come from different regions of the
ter of public care. However well sustained these bound to have assented to it as the law of the land. state, selected solely for their capacity aud private
views may be, upon full investigation--and there was The supreme court then disobeyed-they refused to worth.
undoubtedly great difficulty in refuting them—when acquiesce-they combatted—they would not yield The cases in legislation, in the supreme court, and government undertakes to effect an object, it should to the decision of the court of errors—what followed ? in the court for the correction of errors, and especial be thoroughly and completely done. For years, the The private banking act required the bills of the
ly on the great question of fraud in law and fraud in question of public instruction has occupied the solici. banks to be issued by the comptroller, on deposit of
fact, with mandatory laws, and the disregard of the tude of the leading statesmen of this state, and it has security, and which was done accordingly-the issue
decision of the highest court for the correction of er been deemed proper to vest large funds permanently of the bill being thus founded on consideration re- ||
rors, abundantly showed that collisions must arise in for the benefit of education. We had this day conceived. If it was void, as an act of incorporation
the progress of the government, between its different stitutionalized a progressive increase to our already (which it never claimed to be)-assuredly it was good
branches-the one unwilling to be commanded by large fund for that purpose, and we ought to feel disas a law. It justified the comptroller for the issue of
the other; and abundantly demontrates, the necessi posed to give the system the greater efficiency, even the bills as a public officer, and held him and the
ty for the ullimate tribunal or court of appeals being in the most sequestered and remote regions of our state accountable for the consideration for which it ||
held separate from either department of the govern state. From the habit of thus viewing and reflecting had been issued, and to all but the supreme court, it
ment, and made independent of either, executive, upon the subject, he had seen with surprise the oppowould seem to be a criminal act to counterfeit the
judicial, or legislative power and authority. They sition exhibited this morning to tho section establishbills. A man was tried before one of the judges of
would then stand firm and isolated, to hold the scales ing, after a popular vote, the principles of universal your supreme court for counterfeiting these bills so of justice, not only between suitors, but also to deter and gratuitous instruction ; and he earnestly hoped issued by the comptroller on consideration. He was mine any conflicts that may arise between these three that the Convention were not about to imitate their convicted by the jury, after a fair trial; but the learn
great branches of our government. To secure their conduct on the question of the “rights of women," ed judge of the supreme court decided, in disregard
independence to perform this high duty, they should by a sudden change of opinion from previously, and, of the court of errors, the private banking act to be
be made ineligible to any approach either by execu in his belief, a properly formed one. He now obunconstitutional and void ; and that therefore to coun
tive patronage, legislative bounties, or judicial iuflu served the members of the committee charged with terfeit the bills thus issued by the comptroller of the
ence. To secure such objects the members of the this matter, in their places, and he would leave in their state, was no legal offence; the convict was thus dis
court of appeals should be made ineligible to any hands any further opposition to the motion now pendcharged--and the villain gathering up the tools and
other appointment, during the term of office, from ing of reconsideration-upon which, however, he implements of his business, walked in triumph out of
the executive ;-to any increase or diminution of sal. | asked the ayes and nays. your courts of justice, and stood under the law of the ary from the legislature—and all possible approach
Mr. Towsend since the adjournment of the State day an honest man in community. The court of from the feelings and influence nf other judicial tri
Convention has been appointed School Commissioner errors (a second time) repeated their decision of the bunals.
of the 7th Ward of the City of New York, by the legality and the coustítutionality of the act for private
( Concluded in No. 46.)
le, there can be "while lying at wharfage on gond
ARBITRARY, INQUISITORIAL TAXATION.
A Special Committee, appointed by the Board of Assistants, composed of Messrs. James Robertson of the 8th Ward, Isaac B. Smith of the 9th Ward, and James D. Oliver of the 15th Ward, have made a lengthy report, which has been printed by order of the Board, and is known as Docuinent No. 18, a copy of which is here presented, together with the drafts of three several bills, which they propose to have presented to the present Legislature, to be passed in. to laws.
This subject has been before the Legislature frequently, and that body has refused the application for extending the operation of the tax laws. The same subject was before the State Couvention for amend. ing the Constitution; and that body, in Sec. 9, of Art. 8, provided that tho Legislature shall restrict the power of taxation by incorporated cities and villages; and by Sec. 14. of Art. 7, that very act which imposes, continues or revives a tax, or creates a debt or charge, or makes, continues or revives any appropriation of public or trust money or property, &c., shall, on its final passage, be passed, on the calling of the ayes and noes; and three-fifths of the members elected must be present, to form a quorum—that is, 20 members in the Senate, and 77 members in the House; and by the preceding section, “Every law which imposes, continues or revives a tax, shall distinctly state the tax, and the object to which it is to be applied ; and it shall not be sufficient to refer to any other law, to fix such tax or object." By Sec. 16, of Art. 3, it is provided as follows:- No private or local bill, which may be passed by the Legislature, shall embrace more thau one subject, and that shall be expressed on the title." By Sec. 17, of Art. 3, it is provided that “The Legislature may confer upon the Boards of Supervisors of the several couuties of the State, such further powers of local legislation and administration, as they shall from time to prescrive." By Sec. 9, of Art. 4, it is provided that no bill shall be a law of this State, unless passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor, as therein provided.
The State Legislature, therefore, cannot delegate legislative power to incorporated Cities and Villages.
DOCUMENT No. 18.
DECEMBER 14th, 1846. Report of the Special Committee, to whom was referred the resolution of enquiry as to the propriety of making application to the Legislature of this State, at ils next Session, to authorize the Common Council to equalize the system of Taxation, by assessing all property in the city, whether real or personal, &c. &c.Presented by Mr. Robertson. Laid on the table and three times the usual puiuber of copies ordered to be printed.
0. S. BARTLES, Clerk.
taxation, in consequence of our illy considered law requiring persons to be assessed only in the county of their residence. At the present rate of taxation in this city, which is one per cent, the personal property of these persons shouid contribute the son of about $300,000 to the City Treasury annually; but, as the addition of su large an amount to the Assessinent List would lower the rate of taxation about titteen per cent., their just tax woull be about $255,000, and the tax of every other citizen would be reduced in the same proportion. A reduction of more than one-cighth in the amount of annual taxes upon each individual, would be very sensibly realized by all; and the attainment of so great an object should be a sufli. cient inducement to every individual interested to contribute the aid of his influence to its accomplishment
The great and continually increasing facilities for cheap and rapid cominunication with adjoining cities, counties and States are daily adding to the disadvantages under which this city labors on account of its heavy and unequal taxation, and constantly depressing the value of our real estate, while it enhances that of some of our neighbouring cities and villages, at our expense. It is not, that country air can only be had by leaving the city; for we have the most beantifully situated vacated lands, enough for all the country seats in the world, within our own borders; but it is solely to enjoy the benefit and escape the burthens of our city government, that this nominal non-residence is resorted to. To this is chiefly, it not solely, to be attributed the steady decline of the amount of assessed personal property, which in ten years has fallen from $75,000,000 to $62,000,000; whereas there ought to bave been a continual increase, and in a larger proportion.
The principle contended for is so palpably just, that it needs only to be stated to be assented to. We do not think it necessary in this case, to ask for a law for the peculiar benefit of the City of NewYork; but, only for a logislative sanction of a just principle ; i. e. that wherever capital is employed by individuals enjoying the benefit of the local governinent, institutions and improvements, it should contribute to the support of such government, institutions and improvements.
That the City and County of New York happens to be benefitted more than some other cities or counties from the application of this principle certainly does not constitute a good ground of objection to it. In the opinion of the Committee, a general law should be passed, providing, that persons carrying on business in one county, and residing in another county of this state, shall be assessed and taxed for personal property, in the county where they carry on business, except as to so much of their personal estate, as shall be actually invested or employed, and for which they shall be actually assessed and taxed in the county of their residence; and shall be only assessed for so much as they use or invest in the county of their resi. dence. As to those who reside out of the State and do business within it, they should be assessed and taxed for personal estate in the same manner as residents, i.e. without deduction for what they may have out of the State. The law of residence is purely techni. cal, in holding a man a resident of the place where he sleeps, though a stranger there, and a non-resident of the place where he has carried on business, and passed all the days of his life, and enjoyed all the rights and privileges or a resident, except the elective franchise; and there can be no objection to declaring the place of business the residence, so far as assessment and taxation is concerned, especially as respects non-residents of the State.
The Committee are also of opinion, that the time of taking the assessment should be altered to, so as to allow it to be done in the winter season, when many residents are in town, and accessible to the assessors; but, who are always absent in the summer season, and thus escape taxation. Many of them board at Hotels and Boardiing-houses, with their families, and have po fixed place of residence, which greatly embarrasse's the assessors in making a proper assess inent. A law requiring all keepers of hotels and boariling bouses to report to the Assessor's the names and places of business all of their resident boarders, would, in the opinion of the Committee, prove bighly beneficial.
The difficulty of ascertaing the ainount of each individual's personal estate has been ollen made the subject of coniplaint, but no satisfactory remedy appears to have been suggested. The Committee are of opinion that honest tax-payers will readily submit to such legal rigidity as may be necessary, to ensure a fair assessinent of all the property liable to taxation, and that there should be required of each individual a report to the Assessors, of the annount of his personal estate, over and above his debts, under the penalty of the addition of sity per cent upon the amount assessed to such person, froin the best information the Assessor can obtain..
The Committee are also of opinion, that the Assessors should not be required to reduce any assessment on the athidavit of the person assessed, nor to receive the aifidavil of such person as to such value, unless accompanied with an oral examination of such person on oath by the Assessors, and, on such affidavit and examination, they should correct the assessment, either by increasing or diminishing it, as they should be satisfied was just.
This would be of great benefit, even if no report of property by persons should be required. It appears to be just and reasonable ihat the Assessors should hear the statements on oath of those who complain of their assessments, but they should bave the right to ask questions and be satisfied of the truth of the statement, before altering the amount; and to increase it, if they should think proper.
The want of a State Board to equalize assessments in difierent counties has been repeatedly pointed out by the Governor of the State, in his Messages, and others; but, though no one has been found bold enough to deny the great inequality in the collection of the State taxes, in consequence of unequal assessments, strange as it may seem, no remedy has yet been applied by the Legislature. Some counties assess one-third, some one-half and some two-thirds of the fair value of property, while the City of New York always assess the full value, according to the Statute. As long as there was no State tax, the Assessor's of each Town considered themselves at liberty to assess as they saw fit, the County Supervisors equali. zing the assessments in different towns, as they had the power to do by law. Since the imposition of a State tax, however, these different valuations have workeil the greatest injustice. Out of the City of New York it is believed that the assessments, on an average, do not exceed one-half, and certainly not two-thirds, of the fair value of the property. The amount of State lax paid by the City, from 1812 to 1816, inclusive, is $1,018, 133.53, which on an assessment of the same proportion of the value of property as County fassessments will average, would bave been less, by about Four Hundred Thousand Dollars. It may be said, that the City bas done no more than its duty and therefore has nothing to complain of, if other counties have done less than their's; but this is fallacious; as, it all the State had paid in the same proportion, the tax would have been sooner discontinued or diminished, and thus the city would have been relieved from the corresponding proportion it has actually paid. The city of New York, is therefore, as much entitled to have the same refunded by the State, as the holterof our State Stocks are, to payment of the principal and interest of tbe State debt. The claim is founded in justice anl good conscience, and must be met and satisfied; and when that is done, there will be no difticulty in procuring a law to prevent the recurrence of such injustice. The City has submitted to unequal and burthensome taxation, till endurance has ceased to be a virtue; and they cannot and they will not longer endure in patience or in silence, but will put forth their claim for redress
with tbat zeal and firinness, which those only can assurne, who demand their rights in the name of justice.
WHARFAGE TAX. of the propriety and expediency of levying a Wharfage tax on all merchandise lan led or shipped over the Wharves and Piers in the city, the committee entertain no doubt. Instead of being under the necessity of procuring a grant of this right from the Legislature as a fundamental principle of government, the Constitution of the State should have secured and guaranteed to all cities or other local governments, who should construct Wharves, Piers and Slips, or other similar improvements, for the use and convenience of com. merce, which they were under no obligation to the State to construct, the absolute right, to impose such taxes upon the use of them, as would fully remunerate for the cost of their construction, and expense of keeping them in repair.
In principle, ibere can be no difference between the right to receive whartage from vessels while lying at wharves, landing or discharging, and the right to levy a rate of wharfage on goods landed or shipped over such wbarves. The goods could be reached through the vessel, or, vice versa, the vessel through the goods; provided there was a discretion lett as the rate of duty, in either case. It appears to the committee, however, that it would operate unjustly and uuequally upon parties interested, to collect ibe whole annount required, by an arbitrary per diem charge upon vessels.
Some vessels lie at the wharves without doing any considerable injury to the same for several months continuously, while others, within the same time, perhaps, discharge several cargoes, from voyages accomplished, at less wharfage, but with greater wear to ibe wharves. The act of the Legislature of April 9th, 1813, ia relation to whartage and cranage, allows the owners of wharves in the City of New York, to receive certain rates of wharfage on vessels while using wharves, i. e. fifty cents per day for a vessel or fifty tons or under, and twelve and a half cents, in addition, for each additional filty tons of burthen. Another Act of the saine date, ia relatian to wbarves, piers and slips, gave the Cominon Council the right to construct wharves for themselves, paying for the property taken, to require owners to make theni, or in default of sach owner making them, to make the same at their own expense, and receive the whartage; or jointly with the individual owners, to make the same, and divide the wbartage. It seems to bave been supposed at that time, that the wharves would inostly be owned by individuals; and hence the rates of wharfage were fixed by law, to preveut unjust impositions upon commerce, for the emolument or individual owners
From some cause or other, however, more than two-thirds of the wharves have becoine vested in the Corporation; and, as the City itself would be more directly and seriously eflected, than the State at large, by an imposition upon commerce, which would diminish ils amount, the regulation and amount of wharfage tax, whether on vessels or goods, inost justly belongs to, and could be mast safely contided in the Common Council of the City, instead of the Legis. lature of the State.
The city has invested in these wharves, piers and slips, about $2,000,000, and at the low rates of wharfage established by the law above referred to, they are able to realize, over and above the expenses of repairs only about two per cent. per annum upon the amount of the investment. As these works have been erected, not for the exclusive benetic of the city, but for the advantage and pros perity of commerce in general, those interested in such coinmerce, many of wbom are loreigners and non-residents of the State, and not the inhabitants of the City, should defray the expenses of their construction. The City is justly entitled to receive a fair interest on the investment, say seven per cent. over all deductions. With proper discrimination, the Committee believe, revenue may be realized from a tax on goods so light as not to divert a single article from this commercial mart, and scarcely to be realized by the payer, sufficient not only to yield such income on the capital, but also to enable the Corporation to greatly improve their wbarves, piers and slips; and, in a short time to erect sheds over those most frequented, to the great facility of commerce and convenience, comfort and pecuniary gain of the numerous cartmen and laborers employed upon them. It would certainly be wise and expedient, to allow the Cominon Council the power to extend every facility to commerce, without burthening our citizens with taxation ; relying upon their own interest, as a guaranty against in positions, which would in the least obstruct the steady flow of commerce to thats great commercial emporium. Instead of realizing, as beretofore, about $38,000 per annum, over expenses, from this source, by the change proposed, the City would receive about $150,000 per annum, which would in some degree alleviate the burthens of taxation.
In Boston and Baltimore wharsage taxes are levied upon goods at such raies as to procure from ten lo twelve per cent on the cost of such works, and inuch higher than would ever be found necessary here ; and, as tar as your Cominittee are advised, without the least detrtment to commerce, or complaint from any source.
As it is proposed to leave the regulation of the rate of such tas, upon different articles, to the Cominon Council, it is not deemed necessary to enter into detail. The Committee think a very simple rule of levying such tax should be prescribed, say, so much per barrel, cask or hogshead, per ton on iron, metals, inarble, &c. per hundred feel of luinber, per thousand bricks, and per cubic foot on boxes, &c. not exceeding the proportion of about one cent for a barrel, which is less than one-third of the rate of charges in Boston.
Il might be proper, on imposing such tax, to exempt vessels from the ordinary wharíaye, for a sufficient time to load or discharge, and to allow goods to lie on the wharves a certain specified time, and require storage on such as remain longer, which would accom. plish the double purpose of raising revenue, and clearing the wharves of goods which now often encumber them for month,
In Boston, Masters of vessels are allowed a certain per centage for collecting the whartage tax, and the consequence is that they invariably collect it with their freight bills, and pay it to the Re. ceiver of Taxes. If the same rule should be adopted here, the Committee do not believe it would be necessary to create any con. siderable number of Officers to collect such taxes, (with the ex ception of four Receivers of Taxes), as Police Oificers sufficien. for the purpose could be detailed! on such duty by turns, at sucb. hours as their services might not be required elsewhere. Masters should be required to report to the Receiver of the tax the arrival and clearance of each vessel, and pay over the tax, according to the entry in the Custom llouse or their bills of lading where no entry or clearance is required.
On this subject, loo, your Committee believe a general law will be more advisable and popular than one specially applicable to the City of New York. Other cities and villages have similar interests and similar rights. The Committee would recominend, that application be made for the passage of a law declaring that the Corporation of any City, or Town or Village, inay authorize the owners of any wharves, piers or slips, within suct. City or Village, apon any of the navigable waters of this State, to levy such rates of whari. age on goods landed or shipped over the same, as such Corporaton shall prescribe, not exceeding such sum in the aggregate as will amount to seven per ceat. per annum, upon the capital invest ed in such wharves, picrs or slips, over and above the expense of repairs. Against the passage of such a law, your Committee beLieve no good objection can be urged ; and with such a law in torce
hali and so York alw
The Special Committee, to whom it was referred to take into consideration and report upon the propriety of making application to the Legislature of this State, at its next session, to authorize the Common Council to equalize the system of taxation by assessing all property in the city, whether real or personal, and also for perinission to levy a wharfage tax, and for power to abolish the present system of bonding foreign emigrants and substituting such other system as shall best subserve the interests of the city, respectfully
REPORT, That they have bestowed upon the several subjects referred to then the aitention which their great importance demands, deeply impressed with the urgent necessity of arousing the Common Council and our fellow.citizens at large, to a most vigorous and determined effort to obtain froin the Legislature of the State, vot a grant of special privileges, as matter of grace and favor, but redress for the grievances and a reinedy for the evils so long endured, which upon every principle of justice and propriety they have a right to demand.
ASSESSMENT OF NON-RESIDENTS. For several years past, the evasion of taxation on the part of those engaged in business in the city, and enjoying the protection and benefits of its municipal government and its great public improvements, by nominal non-residence, has engaged the attention of the city authorities, called forth reports of Committees and caused application to the Legislature for reliet, but the demands of justice and the dictates of sound policy have hitherto been entirely unbeeded. Our rich merchants and heavy capitalists, finding the city burthened with a debt created for their benefit, and subjected to heavy taxes for expenses of Streets, City Police and Croton Water for their use and protection, find excuses to remove their families to Staten Island, Long Island, West Chester, and other counties on the North River, and many of them to the States of New Jersey and Connecticut; and thus escape, not only the increased amount of taxes to which they would be subjected here, for the causes above mentioned, but also all taxation whatever, except for the premises they occupy; as they are really and truly strangers in the places of their nominal residence, and their property is only known here in their place of business.
From the best information your Committee have been able to obtain, they believe, that there are more than 2,000 firms engaged in mercantile and other branches of business, and whose capital is invested and used in tbis city, possessing from $500 to 8150,000, and averaging about $15,000 eacb, inaking an aggregate of about $30,000,000 of personal property, under the protection, and realizing the benefils of our laws and goverment, but beyond the reach of
do not belietlicers to colles as Police lis lurns, Masters
tee law ways orales Corale a one conge of inlageruch C SUCH sue
promote thout each will be
refer to the same.ch that opinion anything to high
and each city and village in the enjoyment of its right to regulate | We refer the Committee to the assessed value of Non-residents should not be assessed; for such a meathe price of using the works of its own construction, the Committee real estate in 1836 and 1846 :
sure besides being unjust, would drive business from are fully persuaded, that the interests of each will be found to barmon'ze with, and greatly promote those of the whole State at large.
the City, and lessen the value of real estate therein.
1836.................. $233,743,303 COMMUTATION OF ALIEN PASSENGERS.
The Croton, Watch, Lamp and Street taxes, are
177,207,980 As to the substitution of a commutation for the bonding of Alien
local assessments, and should be assessed separately Here is a great contrast. Passengers, the Committee fully concur in the opinion of the Comp.
In 1837, the amount of real estate was assessed at from all other taxes, and must be so assessed under the troller, expressed in his coinmunication to the Common Counciloo
$196,450,109, and this last sum was forty or fifty mil- i present Constitution. They are assessed on a portion the 2d of February, 1846, that it would prove highly beneficial to the city. They can scarcely add anything to the sound and able lions too much.
of the City only. argument by which that opinion was sustained, and respectfully
These four assessments should be upon propertyreler to the same, as contained in their own views Al experience has shown that the bonding system is almost an
THE TAX LAWS.
houses and merchandise—and not upon persons; and entire failure in its design to indemnify the City (rrom the support
should be strictly an assessment for benefit and ad
The Tax laws of the State of New York, compared of the great and constantly increasing influx of foreign pau pers. Under the present law, the Mayor might, perhaps, by exacting with those of the State of Massachusetts, are vague ;
vantage, in proportion as the same is enjoyed. bonds to the largest amount allowed, i. e. Three Hundred Dollars
As the Croton, Watch, Lamp and Street tax is now for each passenger, induce the owners of most vessels to commute, hence arises much difficulty-and this difficulty is in.
assessed, an individual owning a vacant lot worth ten if he had the power to exact a justification of the sureties, or an creased by the repeated application of the New-York oral examination under oath, and to reject all who should not show City Corporation for special enactments amending the
thousand dollars, and mortgaged for the full value, to his satisfaction, that they were worth double the amount of ibe
must, if he owns no personal property, pay a Watch, sums in which they were to be bound, over and above all debts, Tax law of the State.
Lamp, Croton, and Cleaning and Repairing Streets inclu-ling the full amount of the penalties of all other bonds execu.
In 1841, the time of making the assessment in the led by sueh sureties. Whether he possesses this right, under the
tax, although not benefitted; while a merchant, ownprovision that he shall approve of the sureties or not, such right City of New-York was changed. The Assessors, by
ing $10,000 worth of merchandise and owing for the has not been exercised; but on the contrary bonds have often been
the act of 1841, were authorized to commence their taken of persons who make it a business to become security for such
whole, derives the full benefit, and is not laxed :assessments on or before the fifth day of June, and to passengers, at One Dollar each, and whose liabilities on similar
this is unjust, and should be remedied. bonds greatly exceed the amount of their property. Hence, the complete it on or before the fifteenth day of Auattempts to collect any thing on such bonds have, in a large pro
The short way, however, is to retrench the public gust. portion of cases proved ineffectual, aud involved the city in costs
expenditures; and this could be done to the extent
"On or before the fifth day of June," is a loose proof the preceedings.
of a million of dollars a year. The rapid annual increase in the number of such passengers, and
vision, and we are therefore obliged to look for a resmall amounts realized from commutations and forfeited bonds, de
The committee recommend a wharf tax and say mand the most vigorousexertions on the part of the Common Coun striction of the word “before," and this we find in
that such a tax is collected in Boston. The city of cil and people of the City, to procure such an alteration of the law, the provision requiring the Assessors to be sworn inas shall authorize the exaction of One Dollar from every such pass. to office on the second Tuesday of May.
Boston owns but two wharves, all the rest are private enger, in lieu of the bonds now required, which will in part in
property. demnify the City, for the support of alien paupers. This will prove The assessment may therefore be commenced on no hardship to einigrants, as they will pay the same amount now, the second Tuesday of May.
In New-York the public wharves are not city, but to the persons who will become their sureties. The number of such persons annually arriving has increased
county property, and have been paid for by a county The State law provides that persons shall be assess
tax, and are the same kind of property as county roads from 37,000 in 1843, to 101,980, in eleven months of 1846 ; and ed for personal property in the town or ward where
and county bridges. the number coininuted for has areraged about one-tenth. The
they reside at the time the assessment is made. An other nino-tenths of the commutation money paid, have gone
The management of the public wharves is the
assessment is not made till it is completed. into the hands of private speculators, and but a small part of it
difficulty. They should be built more economically, has been collected on bonds. commencement of the assessment is not the making
made better, kept cleaner and not rented to politicians For three years next preceding 18416, about Six Thousand of it. Dollars per annum was collected on such bonds; but during
In Massachusetts, persons are required to be as.
in the shape of party patronage. eleven months of this year, not one dollar has been received from
The public wharves should be under the superinthat source. sessed for personal property in the town or city
tendence of an intelligent board. This year, down to November 28th, the number of such pass. where they reside on the first day of May.
The plan which the committee recommend of taxopgers is 101,930, and the amount of coinmutation money re The tax law of Massachusetts specifies the personcoived is $9,229. By the proposed change the city would have al property to be assessed, and mentions ships at
ing every load of brick landed upon the wharves 18 sared about One Hundred Thousand Dollars this year
i altogether ont of the question. The people in the As the new City Charter, embraciug the proposed change, home or abroad.
country are not willing to pay a wharf tax on every has been rejected, the Committee recommend an application to The County annual tax act specifies estates real and
thing they send to New-York for sale. the Legislature for the necessary amendment of the Statute personal of the freeholders and inhabitants, situate in question, so as to accomplish the desired object. within the City and County of New-York, or within
The alien passenger tax is without doubt prohibited In this justance the City will be asking for a law for their
by the Constitution of the United States, and so is a own particular relief, and pot applicable to any other part of the
a certain described district of the City; as for exam-
wharf tax on foreign merchandize, or the products of Stato ; but the peculiar circumstances of their situation, exposed
other States. to such swarms of foreign paupers, entitle them to thə aid
the person, for the value of his personal estate, over end protection of the Legislature. and above his just debts. The Massachusetts tax is
The Committee say that the assessment should be The three subjects which the Committeo have thus briefly
made in the winter season, that many of the persons and imperfectly presented to the consideration of tho Board, upon the personal property, without regard to indebt
board in Hotels and in Boarding-houses—it would are, each and all of the deepest interest to overy tax payer, ednoss ; except that debts payable may be deducted and the accomplishment of the Committee's recommendations
follow that if the assessment is made in the winter and from debts receivable, but from no other personal in regard to all of thom, woold relieve the City of about Half
not collected until the next winter very many remo a Million of Dollars taxation annually, and onch citizen of about property.
vals would take place, and if the time of collection one-quarter of his present annual taxes. Surely the accomplish Railroads and Telegraphs have come into use since
is also altered then there would be two taxes in one ment of so great an object is worthy of the united oxeriins,
| the general tax laws were framed in our State ; and not only of the Common Council, but of each and all of our a question arises as to the liability of the owner of
year, for the present tax is now payablo on the 15th Lax-paying fellow citizens; and, in so just a cause, those exer
of February tions cannot fail to prove successful. stock in a railroad made in another State, and owned
The Corporation have made one attempt to slide the The Committee have procured drafts of suitable laws in pur. by inhabitants of the City of New York, to be taxsuance of tho above recommendations, which are hereunto an ed as for personal property ? Railroads are fixtures
tax act and collect two taxes in one year, but the pexed; and, in conclusion, they respectfully recommend the upon land, and therefore real estate ; but the stock is
Legialature put a stopper on the measure as soon as adoption of the following resolution :
the object was discovered. Resolved, (if the Board of Aldermen concur), That the antransferable as personal property; and here arises a
The Committee say there is a “difficulty in ascer. nexed drafts of laws be presented to the Legislature, at its next difficulty. session, with a suitable memorial prepared by the counsel to
Public policy requires that railroads and railroad
taining the amount of each individual's personal propthe Board, under the seal of the City, requesting the passago
erty” —this is the fault of the assessors and not of the stock should not be taxed, for every dollar invested tbercof, together with the above report.
person assessed as every experienced intelligent assessAll of which is respectfully submitted, in making such roads is a public benefit, and adds to
or well knows.
The assessors, by the present law, are authorized
to assess every individual for personal property as
Marine and Fire Insurance Companies should The drafts of three bills referred to in the report,
much as they believe he is worth, and he must pay a not be taxed. The catalogue of Storms and Fires
tax on such amount or reduce it by his affidavit. will be found on page 658, with comments thereon. which we present in this volume, shows the absolute
necessity of these institutions ; and the statement of
PUBLIC STOCK OF THE UNITED STATES ERRONEOUS PREMISES IN THE REPORT OF that these institutions are not money-making concerns,
EXEMPT FROM TAXES.
Mr. Justice Story, in bis Commentaries on the Savings Banks are exempted from taxation, for the “ The Committee impute the steady decline of the reason that a tax upon their deposits would be against
Constitution, in vol. 2, p. 495, says :amount of assessed personal property, which in ten public policy.
" In another case, the question was raised, whether years has fallen from $75,000,000 to $62,000,000, to
a State had a constitutional authority to tax stock ispersons removing from the City to evade taxes."
sued for loans to tbe United States; and it was held We are greatly surprised that an intelligent Com The Committee have wholly overlooked the diffimittee from the Board of Assistants should make culty, which is in not having intelligent ward or
by the Supreme Court that it had not.” such a statement.
district assessors elected for long terms, that experi Mr. Justice Story was one of the members of the The official documents of the City should have ence may make them competent; and these should Supreme Court of the United States at the time this been consulted by the Committee.
be under the direction of a board of permanent asIn 1833, the assessed value of personal property sessors, composed of three competent individuals,
decision was made. was $52,365,526; in 1834, $63,299,231 ; in 1835, elected for five years. The permanent board should Chief-Justice MARSHALL delivered the opinion of $74,991,278; 1836, $75,758,617-hore ended the have the supervision of the assessments made by the Court. bubble speculations; and in 1837, the estimated assistant assessors, and the correction of all erroneous il value decreased to $67,797,241.
The Supervisors of the County of New-York have assessments. The assessed value of personal property ten years As to assessing non-residents, that has been tried | recently undertaken to reverse this decision of the, ago, is an improper comparison. again and again, and always has been a failure. !
Supreme Court of the United States.