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JOHN T. HOFFMAN,
GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK.
ALBANY, N. Y.:
ALBANY, January 5, 1869. TO THE LEGISLATURE:
Having been elected to the highest office in the gift of the people of the State, I have taken the oath required by the Constitution, impressed with a due sense of my responsibilities, yet indulging the confident hope that by the blessing and favor of Almighty God, who disposes all things, I shall be able so to discharge my duties as to command the approval of my constituents and to promote the welfare of the State. I am not unaware of the embarrassments which surround me.
I am here to administer and to execute important public trusts; to reconcile and adjust conflicting interests as great as they are varied ; to overcome or moderate sectional prejudices and jealousies which may exist within our own territory; to preserve public order; to protect the public works; to endeavor to reduce expenditures, taxation and debt; and to assert and maintain the rights of the State and defend the interests of its citizens.
The fact that neither branch of the Legislature is in political sympathy with the Executive may seem to be an obstacle in the way of the accomplishment of these ends. Relying, however, upon your intelligence and patriotism, trusting that you will rise, as I shall strive to do, above all party prejudices and differences, I am ready, with all the ability and energy I possess, to unite with you, as I trust you will unite with me, in every effort to secure to those whose representatives we are, the blessings of an economical, a prudent and a wise government. We cannot be unmindful of the greatness of our State, and the magnitude, variety and importance of its interests and resources. Containing, as it does, more than four millions of people, among whom are represented every nation and every creed; extending, as it does, from the ocean to the great inland lakes, over an area of more than fifty thousand square miles; it constitutes an empire in extent and population, which can not be well governed except by the exercise of the greatest moderation, wisdom and firmness on the part of the Legislature and the Executive.
The magnificent harbor which lies at our very gates invites to the metropolis of the State and of the whole country the trade and commerce of all foreign lands; while the great lakes upon our borders, and the canals and railroads which connect them with the ocean, bear onward to the same metropolis the vast and increasing products of our own western and northwestern States. Hence the unparalleled growth and progress of our great city, which including what may be properly called its suburbs, numbers more than one-third of the population, and pays more than one-half of the taxes of the State. How such a city can be best goverued, how the apparently conflicting interests between it and other portions of the State can be justly harmonized, how the differences of sentiment and thought, political and social, between it and other sections can be adjusted, are problems of serious import. These and other grave questions, growing out of conflicting ideas, will continually present themselves. You are to determine what legislation shall be had with reference to our canals and railroads, our moneyed corporations, our schools and colleges, our asylums, prisons and charities, our great debt and heavy taxes, and to our varied population, differing not only in religious faith, but in views of moral and social obligations, customs and duties. The very magnitude of our territory and of the population within its limits admonishes us that upon these and other kindred subjects it is a necessity that we entertain none but broad and comprehensive ideas. Whatever may be our individual opinions to-day, the great majority of thoughtful men will sooner or later be forced to acknowledge that this great metropolitan State cannot be governed upon any merely provincial theories, or by the enforcement of any narrow-minded, sectional or illiberal policy; and that the masses of the people, while they will demand of their representatives economy in administration, perfect preservation of law and order, and certain protection to life and property, will also insist that in everything which relates to social, domestic and religious life