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faith and property of the said city for the payment of such bonds, or the redemption of such stock.
$ 4. The commissioners of the sinking fund of the said city shall apply the proceeds of the said mortgages, when paid into the treasury of the said city, to the redemption of the bonds or stock to be issued under this act; and the whole of the principal and interest of such mortgages shall be appropriated as a sinking fund therefor, and the same shall not, under any pretence whatever, be diverted
from such purpose.
$ 5. This act shall take effect from the passage thereof.
Of Cornelius W. Lawrence, chairman of a committee
of citizens of New York, for the passage of two several bills relating to the Fire Insurance companies of that city.
To the Honorable the Legislature of the State of New-York, in
Senate and Assembly convened.
The memorial of the subscriber, chairman of the General Committee of the citizens of New York,
That the great and unprecedented calamity with which this city was visited by the conflagration on the night of the 16th ult., destroyed, as it is well known to the community, upwards of 600 large stores, warehouses and buildings, in the most crowded part of the city, and which were mostly filled with all sorts of merchandize, amounting to many millions of dollars. Most of the property destroyed was insured within the city by our own insurance companies, and the destruction of that property has been so exlensive and so complete, as to absorb the capital of most of the Fire Insurance companies, and reduce them to a state of insolvency.
The adjustment and settlement of claims, and the collection and distribution of the assets of the insolvent companies among the creditors, as being the first and foremost victims of the calamitous fire, gives rise to a variety of discussior., and is producing great difficulties, embarrassments and delay; and it is apprehended that the crisis may lead to perplexing and ruinous litigation in the courts of justice. A great portion likewise of the Fire Insurance stock was held by persons retired from business, and many of thein unable from age, infirmity and habits, to resume it. A large share
[Assem. No. 8.)
of the stock was held by guardians, trustees, women, minors, aged and infirm persons, professional men, men of retired and sedentary habits, charitable institutions, and others who relied upon it as a safe investment, and its dividends as a comfortable support. The losses which have thus suddenly overwhelmed this class of our fellow-citizens, present a scene of distress and ruin which awakens the deepest sympathy, and entitles them to the warm and active benevolence of the community.
Under these impressive circumstances, a committee of seven persons, of whom five were directed to be of the legal profession, were appointed at a meeting of the general committee of citizens of New York, and this sub-committee were directed to investigate the concerns of the insurance companies, so far as to be enabled to afford them advice and assistance which might be useful to all parties in interest. The committee assumed and executed their trust, and they reported as part of their proceedings, to the general committee of citizens, two bills relative to the insurance companies. The general committee have instructed your memorialist as their chairman, to present those bills to the Legislature, and respectfully submit them for their approbation and adoption.
The bill designated as No. 1, is intended for the more convenient adjustment of the affairs of the insurance companics, which have been rendered insolvent by the late fire. The principal object of it is to give facility and despatch to the settlement of claims for losses, without impairing the existing rights of the assured, and with the purpose of avoiding, if practicable, and with the assent of the creditors, the delay, expense, irritation and exhaustion of adverse proceedings in law or equity. It adheres as closely as is consistent with the object in view, to the provisions and language of the Revised Statutes relative to insolvent corporations; and in the opinion of the law committee by whom the bills were prepared and reported, there is nothing in it incompatible with vested rights or sound policy, and it is at the same time calculated to be beneficial to all the parties in interest.
The bill designated as Mo. 2, is intended for the benefit of the insolvent insurance companies, by enabling them to revive their corporate ability with renewed capital and under favorable auspices.
Your memorialist would respectfully and urgently solicit, in behalf of the citizens of New-York, the passage of these two bills, as being important to the speedy relief of those owiters of buildings and goods who have been most distressing sufferers by the fire, and as being important to the insurance companies whose capitals and business have likewise been destroyed. It will not escape
the observation of the Legislature, that not only this city, but every city and every part of the State and Nation, have a deep interest in the speedy revival of the trade and business of this commercial metropolis, with renewed vigor, credit and success; and that this great calamity should be hereafter remembered, not merely by the rapidity and extent of its ravages, but also by the spirit, liberality and energy with which the calamity was met and over.
It is impossible to carry on the city improvements, or its business and trade with the requisitc safety and enterprize, without satisfactory insurances against fire. The millions of insurance capital destroyed by the fire must be replaced. The Fire Insurance companies must be resuscitated and encouraged to go on. The city improvements, business and activity would be checked and languish without that encouragement. The owners of buildings and merchandize would be obliged, and at great inconvenience, to seek insurance from abroad, if they could not find it at home. It was thought best, therefore, 10 rebuild the charters on the old foundations, as a community of interest and attachment may be reasonably supposed to exist between the members of the former as. sociations. This would also be giving to the stockholders who have capital lost, a reasonable opportunity to reinvest a similar amount under the former trustees, and
upon terms that
afford then some encouragement to subscribe, and alleviate their misfortunes.
And your memorialist will ever pray, &c.
CORNELIUS W. LAWRENCE,
Chairman of the Com. of Citizens. New-York, January 2, 1836.