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January 6, 1836.
From the Governor, relative to the relief to be given
to the city of New-York.
TO THE SENATE AND ASSEMBLY.
The situation of that portion of our constituents who have been directly affected by the recent destructive fire in the city of New-York, requires your immediate attention. Unless your aid is promptly interposed, the consequences of this disaster will soon become more severe and extensive. The citizens of NewYork appointed a committee to confer with me in relation to the relief to be afforded by the State in this great emergency. Their views on this subject are presented in a communication addressed to me, which I herewith transmit to you, with a request that it should receive your early attention. Several projects for relief accompanied the communication of the committee, and I have deemed it proper to transmit them also along with it, that you may be apprised of the various modes of giving relief which have been suggested.
It is of the first importance that the claims on the insurance companies for losses should be specdily adjusted. Many of the merchants who have these claims, depend principally upon the payment of them for the means of again commencing business, and they are exceedingly anxious to have them settled as soon as practicable. The memorial from the common council and citizens of New-York on this subject, will require your immediate considera
[Assem. No. 3.]
tion. It appears by the accompanying statement of the committee, that about one half of the insurance companies have become insolvent in consequence of their heavy losses, and that most of those that are not so, are, from the same causc, very much embarrassed.
A very large amount of property in New-York usually kept under insurance, is now in effect without it, in consequence of the failure and embarrassment of these institutions, and the owners at this time feel a peculiar uneasiness on this account. It is proper that you should give them the means of effecting safe insurances without obliging them to go abroad for that purpose. Your attention ought therefore to be particularly directed to this object. Where it is practicable to re-organize the old companies, it seems to me to be advisable to do so; and if new companies should be required, I see no objections to granting charters for them: but in resuscitating the old, and in creating new companies, you ought to confer only the rights and powers appropriate to the business of insurance, and carefully restrain them from using any other.
The corporation of the city of New York, it is understood, will apply to you for authority to raise six millions of dollars, to be used principally in purchasing, or advancing money on, the bonds which have been taken by the insurance companies on the investment of their capitals. I cannot anticipate any objection to this measure, and I hope there will be no delay in acting on it.
The immense destruction of property by the fire may render further measures of relief necessary. There appears to be a considerable diversity of opinion as to what should be the nature and character of them. Such measures should have reference to the peculiar circumstances of the case. The embarrassment caused by the disaster will only be temporary, and the measures of relief should therefore be of a similar character. In addition to the measures already mentioned, it is generally suggested that an increase of capital, or of bank accommodations, will be necessary to enable the commercial community to sustain, in a proper manner, the pressure caused by their heavy losses.
The banks in the city of New York have now about one million of the surplus moneys belonging to the Canal fund. The Commissioners of that fund are authorized to borrow eight hundred and sixty thousand dollars for the completion of the Chenango canal. No considerable part of this sum will be wanted until after some
part of the tolls of next year shall have been received. If the Commissioners should immediately issue the stock for this loan, they would be enabled, by this means and by using some other stock under their control, to place in the banks of New-York, in. cluding the sum now loaned to them, two millions of dollars, without producing any inconvenience to the pecuniary affairs of the other parts of the State. The accruing tolls of the Erie and Champlain canals can be applied to finish the Chenango canal, and the portion of the two millions belonging to this canal, can, at the same time be transferred to the Erie and Champlain Canal fund, and thus the whole two millions become a part of the surplus revenue of that sund. The debt for the payment of which this surplus is pledged, will not be due till 1837 and 1845. The whole of the two millions can therefore be loaned to the banks in the city of New-York until July, 1837, and if necessary, the principal part of it continued until July, 1845. To give greater efficiency to this sum in affording relief, it might be distributed among the Safety Fund banks in that city, with authority to each of them to regard the portion it may receive as so much increase of capital, and to discount on it as such for the time they may retain the loan, or for such a period as you may think proper to designate. This arrangement would give these banks the privilege to extend their accommodations five millions beyond the amount they are now authorized to discount. Although these banks might not be able to avail themselves of this privilege to the full extent, they could undoubtedly increase their accommodations three or four millions.
If this and the other measures should not be adequate to the exi. gencies of the crisis, the abilities of these banks might be still further enlarged under proper limitations, as to amount and time, in case they should become the borrowers for any specified time less than a year, of any portion of the moneys which the city may raise under the authority proposed to be given to it, or if they should procure funds for a similar period from any foreign source.
In these or any other measures suitable to the case, and calculated to give speedy and effectual relief to our fellow-citizens of New-York, I shall give you my cordial co-operation.
W. L. MARCY. Albany, 6th January, 1836.
Documents accompanying the Message.
COMMUNICATION FROM THE NEW-YORK COMMITTEE.
Albany, January 2, 1836. His Excellency Gov. MARCY.
SIR, The committee appointed by the citizens of New York, to confer with your Excellency in relation to the calamity which has befallen their city in the destructive conflagration of the 16th and 17th ultimo, beg leave to repeat in this form, the substance of the remarks and statements, which have been verbally made to your Excellency on this interesting subject.
The deep sympathy which has been expressed in the principal cities of the Union on this afflicting event, which, falling imme. diately on our city, will be felt in every part of the State of New-York; the generous interest in our welfare, and desire to afford the most cffectual relief, evinced in the recent proceedings of our sister citics of Albany and Utica; and the solicitude manifested by yourself, and the other members of the State government, to co-operate in any measures of assistance and relief which may be adopted by the Legislature, encourage us to hope that the distress and difficulty arising from this disaster, unprecedented in extent, and appalling as it may have appeared at first, will be speedily removed: and the remembrance of our present misfortune serve only as a cause of exultation for the fortitude evinced by our own citizens under its pressure, and their energy in recovering from its effects, and of gratitude for the liberal aid which will have been extended to us in all quarters in the hour of adversity.
The resources of the city of New-York, and the enterprise and perseverance of its inhabitants, are a sure guarantee that she will soon recover from the effects of this calamity, and the present scene of devastation be restored to its wonted activity and splendor; but it may be readily imagined that the doubt and uncertainty arising from the conflicting interests of individuals and associations, may require the interference of the Legislature to expedite legal proceedings, and avoid expense; and the difficulty of rendering available our resources, justify us in appealing to their liberality to afford temporary relief to the sufferers.
To accomplish these objects, and to carry out the beneficent in