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No. 2.

IN SENATE, JAN. 7, 1851.


Fellow-citizens of the Senate and the Assembly:

In taking a general survey of the condition of the Commonwealth, whose interests have been entrusted to your charge by a confiding people, we witness the most gratifying evidences of public prosperity. It is impossible to contemplate the varied blessings which have fallen to our lot, as a people, without emotions of fervent gratitude to the Supreme Being, whose benignant favor has protected and sustained us through all past vicissitudes.

The State continues to advance with august strides on its upward mission of freedom and civilization. The republican institutions reared by our ancestors, and preserved in full vigor by the enlightened vigilance of the people, have been vindicated by experience, as the system of government most favorable to the dignity and happiness of the human race. Some of those institutions were reformed and liberalized by our new Constitution. Political power was brought nearer the people, by investing them with the direct choice of their judicial and administrative agents, and it is a source of high felicitation that the successful result of this organic change has furnished fresh proof of the capacity of our citizens for an intelligent discharge of the responsibilities of self-government.

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At no former period in our history have the affairs of the State presented a more encouraging aspect. The year which has recently closed was peculiarly prosperous and auspicious. The pestilence which visited our cities the previous year, and which continues its desolating ravages on some portions of the continent disappeared beyond our borders, and was followed by a season of unexampled public health. The earth yielded an unusual abundance to remunerate the toil of its cultivators, and industry in other forms, including many branches of trade and manufactures, found active and profitable employment. With our rapid progress in wealth and population, it is gratifying to observe the constant advancement of our people in moral and intellectual improvement. The wider dissemination of knowledge among the masses, the influences shed abroad by our seminaries of learning, the constant increase of religious and benevolent institutions for the alleviation of human sorrows, the peaceful conquests of invention and the arts, all tend to elevate the condition of society and to strengthen the foundations of popular government. These genial influences, combining to augment the happiness and exalt the character of the State, have been cherished by the liberal spirit of past legislation; and I cannot too earnestly commend the enlightened action of your predecessors, in this regard, and especially in seconding the efforts of humane individuals to improve the moral and physical condition of the unfortunate and the humble, as an example worthy of your emulation.

It affords me much satisfaction to congratulate you on the sound and healthful condition of our State finances. It became my duty before retiring from the office of Comptroller, to prepare an annual report exhibiting the condition of the Treasury, and of the several funds at the close of the last fiscal year, to which, with the suggestions therein contained, I would respectfully invite your attention.

It appears that after meeting all the appropriations payable during the last fiscal year, from the ordinary revenues, there remained a balance in the General Fund at the close of the year, of $54,521.28.

It is estimated that the receipts of the current year, from ordinary sources, will be sufficient to defray all the usual expenses of the State, and that the resources of the General Fund, as now established, will be found sufficient at all times for the support of the government without an increase of debt or taxation. There is an evident necessity, however, for economy in the expenditures; and I trust you will feel the importance of keeping the appropriations within the reliable means of the treasury. In addition to the ordinary current revenues, the Comptroller's report exhibits certain balances due to the General Fund from arrears of taxes and other sources, from which it is believed the treasury will realize over $350,000 within the ensuing two years. It is with special reference to this resource that I deem it expedient in the present communication to recommend some appropriations for new institutions and improvements, which are conceived to be essential to the public welfare.

The aggregate amount of the State debt, on the 30th day of September last, was as follows:

Canal debt,

General Fund debt,

$16,171,109 16 6,359,693 32

$22,530,802 48

exclusive of the stock loaned by the State to certain railroad corporations. It will appear from the report of the Commissioners of the Canal Fund, that the operations of the Sinking Fund are steadily reducing the canal debt. The application of the canal revenues in the manner prescribed by the State constitution, will discharge the entire State debt now existing, in the year 1868.

Our canals continue to yield a rich return. The amount received for canal tolls, including interest, rents, &c., during the last fiscal year, was $3,486,172.30, being a small increase upon the receipts of the preceding year. After paying all the

expenses of superintendence, collection and repairs, and $1,850,000 into the Sinking Funds and the General Fund, a surplus remained from the revenues of the last fiscal year of $800,206.49, applicable to the completion of the Black River and Genesee Valley canals, and the enlargement of the Erie canal.

Previous to the last season of navigation, a considerable reduction was made by the Canal Board in the rates of toll on certain leading articles of transportation. Opinions will probably differ as to the precise effect of this reduction upon the trade and income of the canals; but it is generally believed that it attracted additional tonnage sufficient to equalize the diminution of re


Serious apprehensions are entertained that the trade of the Erie canal will be impaired by the competition of railroads and other rival avenues in and out of the State, unless early and effectually measures are adopted to cheapen the expense of canal transportation. It is conceded on all hands that no material reduction can be made in the cost of canal freight without reducing the rates of toll, until the enlargement of the Erie canal shall enable our forwarders to increase the capacity of their boats. This important object will be attained in a partial degree by the completion of the new locks, on the enlarged plan. The reconstruction and enlargement of these structures has been nearly perfected, and new locks on the large scale will be brought into use on the entire line of the Erie canal at the opening of navigation the coming season, with the exception of five which are located at points where the route of the canal is to be changed. These cannot be reconstructed and made available without the simultaneous construction of several miles of new channel, estimated to cost over a million of dollars. But it is proposed to lengthen the old locks at these points, by temporary structures in such manner that the entire canal may be navigated by boats having an additional length of 28 feet as compared with those now in use. It is not to be disguised, however, that the enlargement of the locks renders a corresponding enlargement of the sections more necessary than before.

The quantity of water required for passing boats is greatly increased by the enlarged size of the new locks. It is found extremely difficult, and in some cases impossible, to force the necessary supply for this purpose through the narrow channel of the old canal. Much difficulty and embarrassment were experienced from this fact, during the last season of navigation. Notwithstanding the vigorous efforts of the Commissioners and their subordinates, it was found impracticable to sustain the necessary height of water on some of the long levels, and it resulted that boats were frequently grounded and the navigators were subjected to injurious delays, vexation and expense. There is no reason to believe that this embarrassment will continue to increase from year to year, until the enlargement of the entire canal shall have been completed.

How far the descending tonnage can be increased, while the canal retains its present limited dimensions, is a question which gives rise to some diversity of opinion. All admit that we have approached very near the maximum capacity of the old canal, during the spring and autumn months. That a large increase in the amount of tonnage, adequate to the rapid growth of our trade is practicable in the present condition of our canal navigation, cannot safely be assumed.

The future policy of the State in reference to the Erie canal and its enlargement, forms one of the most important and difficult subjects which will occupy the attention of the Legislature. I must ask you to enter upon its consideration with an enlightened appreciation of the momentous interests involved in your deliberations, and with an earnest purpose to adopt a line of action worthy of the past triumphs of the State in the consummation of great designs, and in some degree commensurate with its present power and its future destiny. It is difficult to form an adequate estimate of the benefits so vast and varied as our people have derived from the original construction of a water communication connecting the Atlantic with the western lakes. The effects of this great work upon the wealth, prosperity and advancement of the State, surpassed the most ardent anticipations

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