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THE CONSTITUTIONS OF NEW YORK.
THE VARIOUS REVISIONS AND AMENDMENTS.
The Convention of Representatives of the People of New York that ratified the Declaration of Independence, appointed a committee, who reported (March 12, 1777) a Constitution for State Government, and on the 20th of April that Constitution was adopted, and was in operation for forty-four years. Under it the right of suffrage was confined to property owners; voters for Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, and Senators, were to have a freehold worth £150 above debt. For Members of Assembly all male inhabitants could vote who owned a £20 freehold, or paid a yearly rent of forty shillings, and were annually rated and paid taxes. No discrimination was made against blacks or mulattoes, except that they were required to produce authenticated certificates of freedom. Voters were enumerated whenever a census was taken, The following table shows the number and percentage of the total population: Qualifications. 1790. 1795. 1801. 1807. 1814. 1821.
5800 5231 8955 14330 59104 93035 88 20 56877
During the existence of this Constitution the following amendments were voted upon, and decided as the figures indicate:
In 1825-On electing Presidential Electors:
general ticket, plurality.
For electing Justices..
For Abolishing Property Qualifica-
For electing Mayor
In 1839-Electing all Mayors by the People:
Against electing all Mayors..
In 1845-On Removal of Judicial Officers, and Abolishing Property Qualification for holding office:
Total.......57606 64017 85907 121377 151846 259387 Per ct. of pop. 16.93 13.78 13.73 10.75 14.66
The first convention under this Constitution was held in October, 1801, to settle the controversy regarding the relative powers of the Governor and the Council of Appointment. They decided unanimously that their powers were equal; fixed the number of Senators at thirty-two, and Assemblymen at one hundred, to be increased at the rate of two yearly after each census until the number reached one hundred and fifty. The Senate at first consisted of twenty-four members, in four classes, the terms of six expiring each year. The first Assembly had seventy members, chosen annually.
debts and incumbrances, and had paid tax on that amount. Persons convicted cf infamous crimes were not to vote unless pardoned. The Governor's term was changed from three to two years, and to be eligible he must be a native citizen. Large appointing powers were given to the Governor and Senate, placing a vast amount of patronage practically in the hands of the Executive; the first crowd of appointments numbered 2,238. The State was divided into eight Senate districts, each having four members, one to be chosen each year. The Assembly was fixed at one hundred and twenty-eight, and apportioned to counties according to population, but counties were not divided into districts.
C6,324 56,801 931
For Removal of Amendment.....
Against Abol. Prop. Qualification.. 3,901 In 1846-The Tavern and Excise Act, except in New York City:
For No License
A Convention was called, by vote of the people, April, 1821, the result being: For Convention, 109,346; against, 34,901; majority for, 74,445. The report of the Convention was made November 20, 1821, and voted upon in February, 1822, the result being: For the new Constitution, 74,732; against it, 41,402; majority for, 33,330. The principal changes were abolishing the Councils of Appointment and Revision (of bills proposed to be enacted by the Legislature), vesting their useful powers in the Governor, extending the elective franchise, and making many more officers elective by the people. The suffrage article was as follows: Every male citizen, twenty-one years old, one year resident of the State, six months in the county, having paid taxes within the year, or being exempt, or had performed military duty, or was fireman, of the vast patronage in the way of appointor in certain conditions done work on the high-ments in the hands of the Governor, the peoway, could vote. Colored men were not allowed ple went strongly in the other direction, and to vote unless they had been citizens for three demanded a Constitution that should make nearyears, and possessed a freehold of $250 over ly all important officers elective. An election
Moved principally by the danger of the abuse
The number of voters at various periods under this Constitution, and their percentage of the entire population, was as follows.
The number of aliens by the census was:
for a Convention was held November 4, 1945,
NUMBER OF ALIENS.
In 1849-On a Free School Law:
In 1854-Completion of Canals:
In 1850-On a Loan to pay floating debt:
For Loan of $2,500,000....
In 1860-Extending Suffrage:
For Equal Suff. to Colored Persons..197,505
Office. Votes Cast. Vot. in State. Per Ct.
In 1865-To create a State Debt:
In favor of a Debt
In 1864-In relation to Soldiers' Voting:
Against them Voting.
In 1865-On Commissioner of Appeals:
For Five Commissioners..
the Property Qualification for colored men as voters. Any of these three articles, if having a majority of the popular vote, was to become a part of the present constitution, though the new constitution, as a whole, might be rejected. Only one article was carried--that relating to the judiciary, and that article, on the 1st of January, 1870, supersedes existing provisions on the same subjects. It reorganizes the Court of Appeals, extends the term of judges to fourteen years, provides for a vote by the people as to whether judges shall be elected cr appointed, and makes other less important changes. Of the provisions in so much of the proposed constitution as were lost, it is unnecessary to speak. [The votes on the several propositions, by counties, will be found elsewhere.]
THE PROPOSED FOURTH CONSTITUTION. At the Nov election in 1866, the people voted upon the question of holding another Convention to revise and amend the present, or make a new Constitution. The ballot resulted as follows: In favor of a Convention, 352,854, against, 256,864. This Convention met June 4, 1867, and concluded its work February 28, 1868. In consequence of Legislative opposition, their Constitution was not submitted to the people until the November election, 1869. It was then voted upon in four propositions-itself as a whole, the Judiciary article, the article for Equal Assessments and Taxation, and the article Abolishing
PROPORTION OF CITIZENS OF NEW YORK
The following table, covering a period of 44 years, shows how far our voters have performed the highest duty of a citizen in exercising the right of selecting his public servants. The figures in years when no census was taken are carefully estimated upon proper basis:
81.89 384,262 296,852 47.00 409,444 85.25 422,034 41.58 433,768 70.05 445,503 65.54 457,237 83.24
80.27 584,556 69.63 595,850 72.51 607,144 66.06 618,489 84.95 629,733 59.25 641,027 78.59 652,322 66.90 669,414 88.78 686,506 64.09 703,598 77.53 720,691 69:80 737,783 91.27 754,875 64.59 771,967 78.12 789,059 75.97
858,200 81.34 876,500 97.07 896,550
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THE HOMESTEAD LAW.
[From BRIGHTLEY'S Digest.]
SEC. 50. Any person who is the head of a family, or who has arrived at the age of 21 years, and is a citizen of the United States, or who shall have filed his declaration of intention to become such as required by the Naturalization Laws of the United States, and who has never borne arms against the United StatesGovernment, or given aid and comfort to its enemies, shall, from and after the first January, 1863, be entitled to enter one quarter section, or a less quantity, of unappropriated public lands, upon which said person may have filed a preemption claim, or which may, at the time the application is made, be subject to preömption at one dollar and twenty-five cents or less per acre; or 80 acres or less of such unappropriated lands at two dollars and fifty cents per acre; to be located in a body in conformity to the legal subdivisions of the public lands, and after the same shall have been surveyed. Provided, That any person owning and residing cn land may, under the provisions of this act, enter other land lying contiguous to his or her said lands, which shall not, with the land so already owned and occupied, exceed in the aggregate 160 acres.
SEC. 51. The person applying for the benefit of this Act shall, upon application to the register of the land office in which he or she is about to make such entry, make affidavit before the said register or receiver that he or she 13 the head of a family, or is 21 years or more of age, or shall have performed service in the army or navy of the United States, and that such application is made for his or her exclusive use and benefit, and that said entry is made for the purpose of actual settlement and cultivation, and not either directly or indirectly for the use or benefit of any other person or persons whomsoever; and upon filing the said affidavit with the register or receiver, and on payment of five dollars when the entry is of not more than eighty acres, he or she shall thereupon be permitted to enter the amount of land specified. Provided, however, that no certificate shall be given or patent issued therefor, until the expiration of five years from the date of such entry; and if, at the expiration of such time, or at any time within two years thereafter, the person making such entry, or if he be dead his widow; or in case of her death, his heirs or devisee; or in case of a widow making such entry, her heirs or devisee, in case of her death, shall prove by two credible witnesses, that he, she, or they have resided upon, or cultivated the same for the term of five years immediately succeeding the time of filing the affidavit aforesaid, and shall make affidavit that no part of said land has been alienated, and that he will bear true allegiance to the Government of the United States; then in such case, he, she, or they, if at that time a citizen of the United States, shall be entitled to a patent as in other cases provided by law. And Provided further, that in case of the death of both father and mother leaving an infant child orchildren under tewnty-one years of age, the right and fee shall enure to the benefit of said infant child or children; and the executor,
administrator, or guardian may at any time within two years after the death of the surviving parent, and in accordance with the laws of the State in which such children for the time being have their domicil, seil said land for the benefit of said infants, but for no other purpose; and the purchaser shall acquire the absolute title by the purchase, and be entitled to a patent from the United States, on the payment of the office fees and sum of money herein specified. Provided, That until the first day of January, 1867, any person applying for the benefit of this Act, shall, in addition to the oath herein before required, also make oath that he has not borne arms against the United States, or given aid and comfort to its enemies.
SEC. 52. The Register of the land office shall note all such applications on the tract-books and plats of his office, and keep a register of all such entries, and make return thereof to the general land office, together with the proof upon which they have been founded.
SEC. 53. No lands acquired under the provisions of this Act shall, in any event, become liable to the satisfaction of any debt or debts contracted prior to the issuing of the patent therefor.
SEC. 54. If at any time after the filing of the affidavit, as required in the second section of this Act, and before the expiration of the five years aforesaid, it shall be proven after due notice to the settler to the satisfaction of the register of the land office, that the person having filed such affidavit shall have actually changed his or her residence, or abandoned the said land for more than six months at any time, then and in that event the land so entered shall revert to the Government.
SEC. 55. No individual shall be permitted to quire title to more than one-quarter section, under the provisions of this Act, and the Commissioner of the General Land Office is hereby required to prepare and issue such rules and regulations, consistent with this Act, as shall be necessary and proper to carry its provisions into effect; and the registers and receivers of the several land offices shall be entitled to receive the same compensation for any lands entered under the provisions of this Act that they are now entitled to receive when the same quantity of land is entered with money, one-half to be paid by the person making the application, at the time of so doing, and the other half on the issue of the certificate by the person to whom it may be issued; but this shall not be construed to enlarge the maximum of compensation now prescribed by law for any register or receiver. Provided, That nothing contained in this Act shall be so construed as to impair or interfere in any manner whatever with existing preemption rights; and Provided, further, that all persons who may have filed their applications for a preemption right prior to the passage of this Act, shall be entitled to all privileges of this Act; Provided, further, that no person who has served, or may hereafter serve, for a period of not less than fourteen days in the army or navy