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No. 7.


January 7, 1836.


Of the select joint committee of the Senate and As. sembly, on the special message of the Governor, &c.

The select joint committee of the Senate and Assembly, to whom was referred the special message of his excellency the Governor, and various memorials and bills from the Assembly, in relation to the late fire, which, on the 16th and 17th of December last, devastated an important section of the city of New York,


That the following information has been obtained from members of a committee, delegated by a meeting of citizens of New York to represent their views to the officers of the State Government. The facts stated are also within the knowledge of individual members of the joint committee.

The loss which has been sustained in buildings, including several public edifices, is supposed to be about six hundred and seventy-four. Among them immense ranges of capacious and valuable stores and warehouses have been levelled to the dust, and nearly one thousand mercantile firms dislodged. These firms employed, as is estimated, from 3,500 to 4,000 clerks, besides cartmen, porters and labourers, many of whom depend for their support upon their daily and monthly earnings. The total amount of property destroyed is believed to be from eighteen to twenty millions of dollars. The fire burnt over an area of fifty-two acres, comprising a densely built and exclusively mercantile portion of the city, [Assem. No. 7.]


and destroyed all within that compass, except three or four buildings.

Before the occurrence of this great disaster, there were twentyfive fire insurance companies in the city of New York, nearly all of which were conducting a prosperous business. The aggregate capital of these companies amounted to $8,170,000. Fourteen of them are now believed to be insolvent, four have their capitals very much impaired, and several of the others are losers to a heavy amount. It is estimated that the total loss of the Fire Insurance companies which belong to the city, is about seven millions of dollars, leaving liftle more than one million of sound capital.

This statement exhibits an amount of property destroyed which has seldom been paralleled in the devastations committed by fire. The losses sustained by individuals are enormous, and some of them of the most afflicting character. The committee are aware that the legislation of the State, in reference to this event, can only be conducted upon general principles. To restore to activity the industry and enterprize of thousands; to save from ruin a large portion of a useful community, and reconstruct a system which promotes the prosperity of the State at large, come properly within the scope of duties devolved upon the Legislature. It is desirable, therefore, that promptitude and liberality should characterize the action of the Legislature in this emergency.

The following several bills are reported by the committee, in the confident belief that their passage will enable the city of NewYork to retrieve in a great measure its losses, and to retain its commercial relations in full activity.

First. “An act to authorize the mayor, aldermen and commonalty of the city of New-York, to raise money by loan, &c.”

Second. “ An act to enable the insolvent Fire Insurance companies more conveniently to adjust their affairs.”

Third.“ An act to enable the stockholders of the said companies, and others, to replenish their stock, revive and continue their charters."

Fourth. “An act for the relief of the city of New-York.”
The first bill comes directly from the constituted authorities of

the city.

These several bills the committee beg leave, by unanimous concurrence, to present for the action of the Legislature. Their principles will be explained at the proper time. It is the object of these bills to restore, as far as practicable, the capital which has been destroyed. They contemplate securing this result at the earliest possible period, so that the city and State, in addition to unavoidable losses, may not also sacrifice the benefits of the spring and summer trade of the present year.

The opinion, that the restoration of the business pursuits of our great commercial mart, to their wonted activity, is not less important to the country than to the city, is one of general prevalence; and is a sure indication of the expectations which the public entertain from the liberal and enlightened counsels of the State.

The committee will only observe further, that the relief to be effectual must be such as will not require much time to organize and put into active operation. The last mentioned bill is construct-, ed upon that principle, and its provisions are drawn in conformity with the recommendations contained in the special message of the Governor. Any less expeditious measures than those proposed, would defeat some of the most important objects so desirable to be accomplished.

In presenting this report, the joint committee do not ask to be discharged from the further consideration of the various matters referred to them.

Respectfully submitted.


Com. of the Senate.


Com. of the Assembly.

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No. 8.


January 6, 1836. .


of the Mayor, &c. of the city of New York, for the

passage of an act to authorize them to raise moneys on loan, and for other purposes.



The memorial of the mayor, aldermen and commonalty of the city of New York,


That on the night of the 16th of December instant, a fire broke out in the First Ward of the city of New York, by which nearly seven hundred buildings, principally large and valuable stores, situated in the most commercial section of the city, including also the Merchants' Exchange and Post-Office, were entirely des troyed.

Your memorialists are unable at present to state the total amount of loss in buildings and merchandize, occasioned by this conflagration, but such loss has already been ascertained to amount to several millions of dollars; and it may be said with truth, that in its extent and consequences, the said fire has been the most disastrous that has yet occurred in the United States.

Your memorialists further represent, that the loss occasioned by this calamity has fallen with unparalleled severity upon the Fire Insurance companies of this city; almost the whole of the proper(Assem. No. 8.]


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