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the subjects, and take the liberty to refer you to the views with respect to them, which I submitted to the Legislature, and to renew the recommendations then made. These subjects were
The restoration of the office of County Superintendent of Common Schools.
A revision and alteration of the laws under which taxes and assessments for local improvements are imposed and their payment enforced.
An amendment to the laws so as to ensure a more general and equal taxation of personal property.
A reduction of the compensation authorized by law to be received by the Health officer of the city of New-York.
The establishment of Tribunals of Conciliation, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
A modification of the criminal code, so as to abridge, in proper cases, the terms of imprisonment; to reduce the minimum of sentence to the State Prison to one year; and to increase the limit prescribed by law for the division between grand and petit larceny.
The benefits of the provisions of the act in relation to pardons, passed at the last session of the Legislature, have been manifest. In several cases, the publication has induced information with respect to the prisoner, which would probably never have been brought to the knowledge of the Executive, had the pendency of the application not been made known to the public; and there is reason to believe, that many applications have been withheld under the certainty that the advertisement would attract attention and ensure opposition.
The number of persons pardoned during the year, from the State prisons, has been 27; and from the local prisons, 7. I communicate herewith the statement required by the Constitution, of the pardons granted during the year.
In the month of August last, I received a certificate from the Commissioners for the erection of the Western House of Refuge for Juvenile delinquents, that the house was in readiness for the reception of persons committed thereto; and in pursuance of the 15th section of the act authorizing the establishment, I made an order designating the counties which should thereafter send juvenile delinquents to this house. It has now thirty-one inmates. The building, as now completed, affords accommodation for about one hundred delinquents, and for the officers and persons employed in the establishment. plan of building was adopted, such as to be perfect as now finished, and yet admitting the erection of three more wings of equal capacity with that now completed, without marring the proportion of the whole. Each of these wings will accommodate about a hundred inmates. It will be seen from the rapidity with which the house is filling up, that its capacity will soon be exhausted, and another wing will be required, the cost of which, it is represented, will be from ten to twelve thousand dollars.
During the past summer, the male department of the House of Refuge in the city of New-York had become so crowded, that its
managers issued a notice that no more boys could be received at present.
The whole number of children received in this house from its establishment to December 12, 1849, was 4,690. At this latter date, there were 334 children in the house. Without more extensive accommodations, this number is larger than is consistent with the proper classification of the children, for the separation of those less hardened in crime from the influence of the more depraved. Such classification is necessary to the object of the institution, which is the reformation rather than the punishment of those youthful delinquents, who may have been drawn thoughtlessly into the commission of crime, from which parental influence or good advice kindly administered, might have restrained them.
Should the Legislature determine to enlarge the Western House of Refuge, it will be advisable to authorize the transfer to that establishment, from the one in New-York, of those inmates now in the latter, who may have been sent thither from the counties which are now designated to send delinquents to the former.
The number of prisoners in confinement in the several prisons of the State, on the 1st December, 1849, was 1,483, being an increase of 174 over the number on the corresponding day of the previous year.
The earnings and expenditures of the several prisons during the fiscal year ending 30th September last, together with the daily average number of prisoners in each, were as follows:
A large proportion of the expenditure of the Clinton County Prison, is stated to have been for extraordinary objects, not constituting a part of the regular expenses of the prison. The officers of the prison return these at $22,479.52. The deduction still leaves an excess of expenditure over the earnings of this prison, of $16,670.73, and it may be questioned whether some of the expenditures which are classed as extraordinary, will not be found to be frequently recurring.
The annual Report of the Inspectors will present the condition of the prisons more in detail, and I respectfully refer you to it.
The financial condition of the State Lunatic Asylum, is represented to be prosperous. The receipts from the board of patients have been adequate to defray all the ordinary expenses for the year. From the opening of this institution, 2,376 patients have been admitted; 1,017 of whom have left the asylum cured.
This institution was under the superintendence of Dr. Amariah Brigham from its first opening, in January, 1843, until his labors were arrested by death, in September last. In the death of this de
voted and philanthropic man of science, the cause of humanity has sustained a serious loss. The large number of recoveries effected under his management, is an eloquent testimonal to his skilful and devoted attention to the trust confided to his charge.
The several institutions encouraged and sustained in a large degree by the State, for the education of the Blind and of the Deaf and Dumb, and the New-York Hospital, are prospering, and are efficiently carrying out the benevolent objects contemplated by their establishment.
The present condition of these several charities will be more fully shown by their respective reports, which will soon be presented to you, and will furnish a gratifying exhibition of the fidelity with which the trust committed to their several boards of directors has been discharged, and an inducement to continue the aid which the State has heretofore extended to these charitable objects. The amount of payment to these institutions last year exceeded $111,000; but as that sum included payments for buildings and permanent objects, it is hoped that the claims for the future will be much reduced.
The liberality of the State in its endowments of various charities which have been cherished by its munificence for the support and maintenance and for the education or relief of those who are not blessed with God's choicest gifts of the reasoning and perceptive faculties, has been rewarded with a measure of success in the several objects to which it has been directed, which encourages the inquiry, whether there be not yet a class of unfortunates who labor under a dispensation that imposes upon the State the duty of undertaking their physical, intellectual and moral improvement, and the advancement of their comfort, and of their means of usefulness and of enjoyment.
The census of 1845 shows a return of 1620 Idiots within the State, and there are reasons for the belief that this number is far short of the reality.
The success which has attended the efforts made of late years to resuscitate the mind of the Idiot, and to elevate him in the scale of human beings, has demonstrated, at least with sufficient certainty to call for the active aid of the State, that these unfortunate creatures, the most afflicted as a class of all whom the heavy dispensation of a wise Providence has visited, are susceptible within definite limits, of mental and physical development and improvement.
The State has already recognized the obligations resting upon it, to provide for the education of its children, and has made liberal provision for the education of those deprived of the organs of sight, and of hearing and speech, as well as for the improvement and reclamation of the lunatic. The efforts of the Legislature should not be intermitted, until they have secured to all classes and conditions such an education as they may be capable of receiving, and may qualify them for the duties pertaining to their respective pursuits and condition in life.
The number of Idiots exceeds that of either the Blind or the Deaf and Dumb. While the State has made liberal provision for the care and education of the latter, it has done nothing for the improvement
of the Idiot. The parents and the friends of the many hundred Idiots in the State, seek in vain a refuge, or a school, where their afflicted children or friends may be protected or made useful. The reason is doubtless to be found in the strong impression which has prevailed, that nothing could be done for the improvement of the Idiot. This impression must, however, now be confined to those who are not willing to receive the evidence of what has been successfully accomplished. He has been taught to articulate, and to talk distinctly, and to bring his passions and appetites into subjection; he has been instructed and made to read, to write, and to sing, and to exercise mechanical labor and skill in various trades. These results induce me to recommend the establishment, by the Legislature, of an Asylum and School for Idiots, on such scale and terms of endowment as your wisdom shall deem best.
The operation of the laws of the last session on the subject of Alien Passengers, has been highly satisfactory. It is believed that the objections to the former passenger laws, on which they were decided by the Supreme Court of the United States to be repugnant to the Federal Constitution, have now been obviated; whilst the original object of that legislation, the relief and support of diseased or destitute emigrants, have been completely attained. The experience of the year has pointed out some imperfections in the details of the act, which do not affect its general principle or leading provisions, but which demand legislative correction. These will probably be pointed out by the Commissioners in their report. The change of the system at the Quarantine, separating the charge of the Marine Hospital from the other duties of the Health Officer, has resulted in a much improved efficiency, economy, and order in the Quarantine establishment. The magnitude of the business devolved upon the Commissioners under these laws, may be conceived from the statement, that 213,552 alien passengers arrived at the port of New-York during eleven months, from 1st January to 1st December, 1849; of whom 2,894 were forwarded by the Commissioners to distant places, where they could meet employment; 7,000 were received into the hospitals at Ward's and Bedlow's Islands, and 3,162 into the Marine Hospital. The average weekly number of patients in the former hospitals exceeded 1,392, and in the latter, 455. Temporary relief was afforded to 16,200 emigrants; and the sum of $43,023.77 was paid to the several counties of the State, to reimburse them for expenses incurred in the relief afforded by them to emigrant poor. This amount does not include the expenses of such counties for any part of December, nor the whole amount for November.
The laws for the protection of emigrants from the imposition to which they are specially subject, immediately on their arrival, have been attended with excellent results, in defending or assisting the helpless and the stranger, who have sought a refuge on our shores. Still, these laws are not perfect-they need further examination and improvement; for which object I earnestly commend them to your consideration.
It will become part of your duty to consider the necessity which seems to exist of providing more ample, if not more adequate, accommodations for the State Library. When the care of the Library was committed to the Regents of the University in May, 1844, the number of volumes was computed to be about 10,000. In the Catalogue now printing, the Law Books alone exceed 9,700, and the aggregate number of volumes is about 25,000. It is evident that the rooms now used are not capable of meeting this rapid increase which is still progressing. Every part of them is now filled, and it has become difficult to find, or take down many, while hundreds of volumes are locked up in various repositories, for want of sufficient accommodation in the Library rooms. In addition to this, the State has a very valuable and interesting collection of Maps, and will shortly receive many more, illustrative of the progress and history of our country. These should be easy of examination and reference. We have, too, the valuable and extensive collection of engravings presented by the Pope, which should be exhibited on the walls of the Library.
Uniting all these considerations, and adding to them the comparatively unsafe condition of the present rooms, in reference to the danger from fire, to which I referred more particularly in a communication to the Legislature last winter, I feel it incumbent upon me to recommend an appropriation for additional, if not other apartments for the use of the Library.
In connection with this subject, it may be remarked that the building now partly occupied by the State Cabinet of Natural History, is totally unfitted for such a purpose. The rooms are arched, and a quantity of space is lost which is much needed for the exhibition of the valuable and extensive collection of specimens which the State has brought together to illustrate its Natural History. And the trustees are completely stopped in their plans for increase, by the absolute want of room in which to place the very interesting Indian and Natural History collections which are crowding upon them. The State Agricultural Society, from the extension of its collections, needs all the lower rooms of this building.
Should you deem it advisable to authorise the construction of any additional building, it appears very desirable that such erection should be made for the accommodation of both the Library and Cabinet of Natural History, as will meet their wants for some years to come, and by giving to the agricultural society the use of the rooms now occupied by the cabinet, increase the accommodation and the means of usefulness of this valuable association.
I desire to bring to your notice the fact, that we have no complete collection of the colonial laws of New-York in print. The originals of these laws are in the Secretary of State's office. I cannot doubt that a competent commission could be instituted to superintend such a publication, without any pecuniary compensation. The only expense, exclusive of that of printing, would be a moderate salary for a secretary to do the necessary clerical work, and to arrange the laws in chronological order.