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commerce; and it is doubtful whether the owners or consignee, though on shore, would be regarded differently. A ship while in port, or even on the high seas, prosecuting her voyage between a foreign country and the United States, may be taxed by the municipal authority of the State where the owner resides. But a distinction seems to be drawn between the ship, which is the instrument of commerce, and the goods and passengers on board, which are the subjects of commerce ; in no other way can the different propositions contained in the opinion of the court be reconciled with each other. In view of the case of Smith vs. Turner, the Controller and Attorney General feel constrained to entertain the opinion, that no State tax upon a passenger, or upon the master, owner, or consignee of the vessel, on his account, can be imposed until the voyage is ended, and the passenger landed; but that such passenger, and the owner and consignee of the vessel, become subject to the operation of State Legislation so soon as a passenger sets his foot on shore.

In conformity with this opinion, which was given with much diffidence," the Legislature passed a law by which, in substance, the master or commander of the vessel is required, under a penalty, upon the master, owner, or consignee, within twenty-four hours after the arrival of the vessel at the city of New York, to report in writing, on oath or affirmation, to the Mayor of the city of New York, the name, place of birth, and last legal settlement, age and occupation of every passenger, and also of such passengers as had on the voyage been permitted to land, or go on board of some other vessel, with the intention of proceeding to said city; the owner or consignee of such vessel, resident within the State of New York, after such report, are required to give a bond in a penalty of $300 for each and every passenger reported, with two sureties, and conditioned to indemnify the people, or their agents or officers, and the cities, towns and counties of New York, against all charges and expenses


may be incurred for the relief or support of the person named in the bond, or for the medical care of such person, if received in the marine hospital, or any other institution for medical treatment, under their charge, under penalty of $500 upon such owner or consignee, in case of neglect or refusal to give such bond; but such owner or consignee, within three days after the landing of such passenger, may commute for the bond so required, by the payment of one dollar and fifty cents for each of such passengers, in lieu of such bonds, which commutation money when received shall be paid over to the Chamberlain of the city of New York, to be expended by the commissioners of emigration for the support of the marine hospital, and for the support and medical treatment of destitute emigrants, the surplus of such commutation money to be invested for the future use of said marine hospital, and for other expenses to be incurred for the support or medical treatment of destitute emigrants.

It has been very much the fashion in every State to ridicule the Legislature, and complain on account of hasty legislation and waste of time. The principal inquiry has been, not how much good, but how little mischief they have done. It must be confessed there is too much reason for these complaints in every

State; and when we look over the statute books, and see the confusion into which all departments of business are thrown by frequent and ill-advised changes of the law, we cannot but subscribe to the doctrine that the world is governed too much.

In some of the States the Legislature meets but once in two years, and no complaint has been heard of the operation of this provision. In Maryland, we believe, the sessions are also limited in duration. A large amount is thus

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saved to the State, and the business equally well done. Owing to the territorial extent and commercial importance of the State of New York, it seems to be necessary that the Legislature should meet at least once a year. The constitution provides that “the members of the Legislature shall receive for their services a sum not exceeding three dollars a day, from the commencement of the session, but such pay shall not exceed in the aggregate three hundred dollars.” It would have been better to have declared that the pay should be “three hundred (or four hundred) dollars for the session,” be the same long or short. Members would not then measure their services by the number of pay-days, as many do now, and would take sufficient time to do the public business properly, instead of hurrying bills through, during the last weeks of the session, with but imperfect examination. While there would be no danger of their remaining in session too long, with such compensation, there would, on the other hand, be little reason for fearing that they would not sit long enough. Still the provision, as it now stands, has its advantages -members are compelled to speak to the point, and not too long, if they would forward their favorite measures.

The experience of all previous Legislatures seems to show that, were the sessions to last six months, there would be nearly as much business on hand at the adjournment, as at the end of a three months' session.

There is another advantage about limited sessions. Better men can be induced to go, when there is an assurance that they will not be detained from their family and business beyond a certain time. To a majority of the members, the per diem compensation does but little more than pay necessary expenses ; and those whose services are worth anything to the State, are mostly such as have something to do at home. It has consequently been generally the case that a large proportion of the representatives consist of young men, who are more ambitious and industrious, perhaps, than older Solons, but are wanting in that experience which is of so much importance. This latter difficulty would be obviated if the same men were more frequently re-elected.

The Legislature itself is the best school to learn in, and any one who has been present at its sessions must have observed the great advantage which the older members possess over others. The same claims come up before each successive Legislature in perhaps some new form; and unless the old members are on the constant lookout, continual impositions are practised, and the State is swindled by the harpies who throng the lobbies.

Again, nothing but constant familiarity with legislation in drafting bills, &c., can enable one to understand the true bearing of a law, and whether the language is made to express all that is intended, or is susceptible of misconstruction.

In most of the States, the members of the popular branch are elected annually, and it is too much the custom to present new candidates every year, each town in the county and district taking its turn. This arises in part from the numerous objects of local interest, the legislation upon which is more or less controlled by the members of that section. In the Legislature whose proceedings we have had under consideration, a law was passed conferring upon boards of supervisors or county legislatures additional powers in relation to such matters, and thus dispensing with the necessity of coming to the Legislature whenever it is desirable to divide a town, to change a county seat, to erect a new jail or court-house, and levy a tax therefor, or to fix the time and place of a town meeting. Serious apprehensions were entertained lest this bill should have the effect of producing too much legislation in the

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counties, at a heavy expense, but the provisions are such as to guard in almost every way against hasty or improper legislation. A vote of two-thirds is required on all important measures, with notice to all the towns affected, with other similar guards. It was further objected that the law would keep the towns in a constant ferment and bickering among themselvess, by the facilities for agitating all kinds of projects which a legislature on the spot would afford; whereas, where they required to go to Albany, only those measures in which there was a large county interest involved, or which were really necessary, would be demanded ; that it would be increasing the expense of legislation, with the difference that it would be expended in local legislation instead of one central power. These objections would apply with almost equal force to the National and State Legislation. There can be no doubt that there is much more legislation than there would be if there were no Legislature but Congress; but no man would pretend that Congress should be our only Legislature. It is desirable that members of a representative body should take an interest in most of the subjects which come before them, and vote understandingly. What interest can a member from the city of New York take in a bill to regulate the killing of game or catching of tish in the county of Cattaraugus, or a bill to authorize a tax for building a court-house in the county of Chemung, or to designate the place for holding the next town meeting in the town of Bullville. These bills generally pass as a matter of course, unless the members from that county oppose them, or are divided in opinion on the subject; in which latter case, the question is not unfrequently decided more from personal influence than from any serious consideration of the merits of the case. Or perhaps it forms an instrument for log rolling in relation to some bill of great public importance, some charter, or private claim. In a board of supervisors, every person would feel a personal responsibility for every vote he should give on these questions, and they would be decided more on their merits; or, if there was bargaining for votes, the interests of the whole State would not be made to turn on a local matter.

A year's experience will show whether this system is to work well, and, in case it proves successful, not only will it be an example worthy of imitation in other States, but it will lessen the inducements for changing the representation in the legislature every year. Or, if political aspirants must be gratified, let efficient members be re-elected at least once.

The fault at the late session of the New York Legislature seems to have been instability, in passing bills one day and reconsidering them the next, and this proceeded from the very difficulty upon which we have been commenting. A large majority of the members were in the Legislature for the first time. In the early part of the session, reliance could be placed on the reports of standing committees, and every question was discussed in the committee of the whole; but latterly bills were introduced on short notice, hastily examined by standing committees at great disadvantage, and ordered to a third reading without further discussion. In such cases the standing rules are constantly suspended, by unanimous consent. Almost every member has some favor of the kind to ask, and consequently will not object to a bill's being ordered to a third reading when asked by others, although he may not have heard it read through once. The new constitution of New York requires the yeas and nays to be taken on the final passage of every bill. This takes up a great deal of time, but it throws a responsibility on every member which might otherwise be evaded. A majority of all the members

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elect are required, in all cases, to pass a bill; and, on an appropriation bill for public purposes, a quorum of three-fifths must vote : hence the singular fact, that a bill is sometimes lost for the want of a sufficient number of negative votes. For every bill appropriating public money for private purposes, the assent of two-thirds of the members is required.

Doubtless the convention supposed that these would be sufficient checks upon hasty legislation ; but this does not seem to have been the result. Had that rule which requires that every bill shall first be read through, by sections, in committee of the whole, been made a constitutional provision, it would effectually do away with all application for unanimous consent. True, not so many bills would be passed; but there would be fewer amendments proposed to the laws at subsequent sessions, and more confidence in the Legislature.

The phraseology of statutes is a matter upon which oftentimes a vast deal of litigation arises, and the importance of giving to legislative committees authority to consult the Attorney General, or other legal advisers of the State, in order to ensure accuracy in expressing distinctly the object proposed, and no more, conciseness yet clearness, must be obvious to all who have had occasion to notice legislative debates, and the subsequent construction of statutes in the courts. A provision of the New York Constitution, which declares that “no private or local bill which may be passed by the Legislature shall embrace more than one subject, which shall be expressed in the title," has had the effect of preventing all riders, as they are called, or tacking together several bills for distinct objects, under the comprehensive title of “an act for the relief of Phineas Hutchings, and for other purposes."

Since the new constitution of New York went into operation, the Legislature has made much progress in carrying out the provision for general acts of incorporation; and there are now, on the statute books, laws providing for manufacturing, charitable and religious, railroad, plank-road, banking, and insurance corporations. Reverting to that era in New York politics when a single bank charter sometimes occupied half the time of the session, and was fruitful in all sorts of corruption, one is inclined to wonder that so simple and yet so satisfactory a system should never have occurred to our legislators before.

There is another matter which occupies much attention at every session. It has already occupied much attention in connection with congressional legislation, and we shall barely advert to it here, as not less important in State than National legislation. We allude to some system for the proper examination of private claims. Without taking from the Legislature any of the control they now possess, it seems advisable that private claims of a certain class should be examined beforehand by some department of the State government. In New York, for example, a large number of claims for canal damages are annually presented. These should, in all cases, be first examined by the Board of Canal Commissioners, and reported upon by them. As, from long experience, they have greater facilities for examining these questions than others, their report would form a good basis for a legislative committee to act upon, and ensure accuracy in facts, if not in conclusions. One or two cases where claims, since shown to have been without good foundation, were allowed last winter, could never have occurred, had the matter been first investigated by those who knew the way in which such claims may be made to assume the most plausible form to those not familiar with canal contracts. And yet more efficient and industrious chairmen have rarely presided over canal committees than at this very session. VOL. XXI.—NO. I.


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Generally speaking, our State Legislatures are much more systematic and industrious than Congress; there are fewer speeches made to Buncombe, and there is more adherence to rules ; but we regard the disposition to impose still further checks upon them, which has been manifested in forming some of our new State constitutions, as a very favorable indication of a conservative spirit. We believe in sending good men, giving a liberal compensation for their services, and requiring them in all cases to give the most searching examination of the business before them. And if a limited session does not enable them to dispose of it all, the public will be but little the worse, for experience has shown that few bills of real necessity are overlooked.




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It is only of late years that Cuba has assumed an important position in the Spanish monarchy, yet we venture to say that there has seldom been witnessed a more rapid advancement than this island has attained, far surpassing the other Spanish colonies, with whom its prosperous state forms a painful contrast.

The resources of the Island of Cuba depend its agriculture, manufactures, and commerce; and in respect to the former two, we unfortunately cannot obtain so exact information of their extent as of the latter. However, we may obtain an approximate idea of our general wealth by our imports and exports, as they have a direct connection with the general production of all classes of industry. Let us, therefore, consider the following statistical table, during twenty back years, ending with 1847, for we cannot yet obtain sufficient data to include 1848 :Years. Imports. Exports. Years.

Imports. Exports. $19,534,922 $13,414,362 1838.... $24,729,878 $20,471,102 1829. 18,695,856 13,952,405 1839.

25,315,803 21,481,862 1830. 16,171,562 15,870,968 1840..

24,700,189 25,941,873 1831. 15,548,791 12,918,711 1841.

24,630,620 26,774,614 1832. 15,198,465 13,595,017 1842..

24,637,527 26,684,701 1838. 15,511,132 13,996,100 1843.

23,422,096 25,029,792 1834. 18,563,300 14,487,955 1844.

25,056,231 26,426,591 1835 20,722,072 14,159,246 1845.

28,007,590 18,792,812 1836. 22,561,969 15,398,245 1846.

22,626,399 22,000,588 1837.. 22,940,357 20,344,407 | 1847..... 32,389,119 27,998,770

It is well known that the crops of 1845 and 1846 cannot be relied on, as showing a fair data of production. In 1844, a long drought was followed by a hurricane, which was felt in its effects for two years, (as seen by the table,) as the crop of 1845, which was exported in 1846, suffered from these terrible


• Translated for the Merchants' Magazine from the “ Diario de la Marina" of Havana, January 2, 1849. It will be understood that the remarks in illustration of the statistics in this article represent the opinions of the editor of the “Diario de la Marina," and not those of the editor of the Mer chants' Magazine.

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