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A History of the Reconstruction Commission

December 18, 1920. Beginning his administration just after the armistice of November, 1918, that brought the World War to a close, Governor Smith realized that he faced a most difficult period in the history of the State. In his first message to the Legislature in January, 1919, he referred to the period of reconstruction in its relation to State policies and stated that he planned to appoint a Commission to assist him in initiating a progressive program for the State at this period so as to utilize as far as possible the lessons emphasized by the war experience of the State.

On January 20, 1919, in a message to the Legislature informing them of the appointment of the Commission, the Governor said: “The affairs of the world are in such a state that the people who have passed through the fire of war are demanding progress in government. Let us seize the opportunity to do things which will be most helpful to the permanent wellbeing and comfort of all our citizens."

The following members were appointed : Abram I. Elkus,

Edward F. Boyle, Gerrit Y. Lansing, George Foster Peabody, Carleton A. Chase, John Alan Hamilton, Addison B. Colvin, Dr. Felix Adler,

Otto B. Shulhof, Norman E. Mack, S. J. Lowell,

Richard S. Newcombe, Mrs. Walter W. Steele, Michael Friedsam, Alfred' E. Marling, John G. Agar,

Mrs. Ella Hastings, Henry Evans, William M. K. Olcott, Alfred J. Johnson, Arthur Williams, Henry Dwight Chapin, M. Samuel Stern, Bernard M. Baruch, Charles H. Sabin, John C. McCall,

Mrs. William H. Good, Mrs. Lewis Stuyvesant J. N. Beckley,

Thomas V. Patterson, Chanler, Mrs. Sara A. Conboy, Thomas J. Quinn, Mortimer L. Schiff, Peter Brady,

V. Everit Macy. Charles P. Steinmetz, In brief outline there is here presented a chronology of the events in the life of the Commission. Each of its committees has presented a detailed report of activities with recommendations, where the work of the committee was of such a nature that it lent itself thereto. To these reports reference must be made for the details of the work of the Commission. These reports are published under the following heads: March 20, 1919- Report asking that Fifty Thousand Dollars be appropri

ated to aid State Employment Bureaus. April 7, 1919- Preliminary Report on Demobilization, War Department

Regulations and Unemployment in New York City. April 7, 1919 - Report on Military Training for Boys. April 14, 1919 — Report on Business Readjustment and Unemployment. April 14, 1919— Report on Public Improvements in Progress, Not Started

and Contemplated. May

14, 1919 - Report on Americanization.
June 17, 1919 — Permanent Unemployment Program.
June 28, 1919 - Report on Rural Motor Truck Express.
October 19, 1919 — Report on Reorganization in the State Government
October 24, 1919— Report on Public Health and Reconstruction.
January 30, 1920 — Report on Food Production and Distribution.
March 22, 1920 — Report on Housing Conditions.

The Legislature refused an appropriation of the small sum of $60,000 for the establishment of the Commission, although it was asked for from a large fund remaining from the appropriations unquestioningly made to the State Council of National Defense. The members of the Commission, feeling that a public duty rested upon them, decided to find means for financing the work themselves. They accordingly found public support and raised the sum of approximately $44,000.

The Commission organized on the evening of January 25, 1919, meeting at the call of the Governor in the City Hall, New York City. Mayor John F. Hylan of New York welcomed the Commission and assured them of the co-operation of the city authorities and placed at the disposal of the Commission, headquarters in the Hall of Records.

Governor Smith addressed the Commission, emphasizing the fact that if the Commission was to perform constructive service for the State and desired to recommend progressive measures, it was essential that they study financial problems. He brought forcibly to the attention of the Commission the changes in available revenues brought about by the enactment of the prohibition amendment, and stated that new sources of revenue would have to be found for the State or retrenchment entered upon to such an extent that it would be possible to administer the State in spite of the curtailing of its revenues ; undoubtedly the State would find its administration more costly than at any previous period.

Following the Governor's address, Hon. Abram I. Elkus was elected Chairman of the Commission and Gerrit Y. Lansing, W. M. K. Olcott and Mrs. Sara A. Conboy were elected vice-chairmen. Mr. Charles H. Sabin was elected Treasurer and Mrs. Henry Moskowitz, Secretary.

The meeting adjourned to the following morning, Saturday, January 26th. Upon convening at 11 A. M., the Commission in executive session adopted a rule creating an Executive Committee, consisting of the officers, chairmen of committees and Mrs. William H. Good, Mr. Michael Friedsam and Hon. Edward F. Boyle as members at large.

The following committees were appointed : Taxation and Retrenchment:

Sara A. Conboy Alfred E. Marling, Chairman

Peter J. Brady Charles H. Sabin

Michael Friedsam Carleton A. Chase

Education (including inquiry into S. J. Lowell

military training, AmericanizaThomas V. Patterson

tion, etc.): Alfred J. Johnson

Dr. Felix Adler, Chairman Thomas J. Quinn

M. Samuel Stern Henry Evans

Mrs. Harry Hastings Michael Friedsam

Peter J. Brady

George Foster Peabody Housing:

S. J. Lowell

Michael Friedsam John Alan Hamilton, Chairman

Mrs. L. S. Chanler Dr. Felix Adler

Charles P. Steinmetz Mrs. Wm. H. Good

Tohn G. Agar Peter J. Brady

Mrs. Sara A. Conboy Mrs. Lewis S. Chanler

Food Production and Distribution: V. Everit Macy

Resettlement of Land: Arthur Williams

Thomas V. Patterson, Chairman Alfred E. Marling

Addison B. Colvin M. Samuel Stern

S. J. Lowell Mrs. Walter W. Steele

Arthur Williams Unemployment:

Mrs. Sara A. Conboy

Mrs. Lewis S. Chanler John G. Agar, Chairman

V. Everit Macy Charles P. Steinmetz

Mrs. Walter W. Steele Mrs. Walter W. Steele

J. N. Beckley Norman E. Mack

Gerrit Y. Lansing

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Inquiry into War Emergency Dr. Felix Adler

Measures, Etc. (Exclusive of Alfred J. Johnson
Military Training Law):

Peter J. Brady
Wm. M. K. Olcott, Chairman

Carleton A. Chase Edward F. Boyle

Norman E. Mack Richard S. Newcombe

Mrs. Sara A. Conboy

Otto B. Shulhof Public Health:

George Foster Peabody Dr. Henry Dwight Chapin, Chair

Drafting of Legislation: man John G. Agar

R. S. Newcombe, Chairman John C. McCall

Henry Evans
Mrs. Harry Hastings

John G. Agar
M. Samuel Stern
Charles P. Steinmetz

Peter J. Brady

Mrs. Wm. H. Good, Chairman

Mrs. Walter W. Steele Business Readjustment:

Mrs. Sara A. Conboy Alfred J. Johnson

Mrs. Harry Hastings Charles H. Sabin

Michael Friedsam Gerrit Y. Lansing

Thomas J. Quinn
Michael Friedsam

Alfred J. Johnson
Thomas J. Quinn
Mortimer L. Schiff

Special Committee on Conversion Carleton A. Chase

of United States Army HosJ. N. Beckley

pitals: Otto B. Shulhof

Addison B. Colvin, Chairman Alfred E. Marling

Charles H. Sabin
Bernard M. Baruch

Richard S. Newcombe
Henry Evans
Addison B. Colvin

Finance Committee:

Charles H. Sabin, Chairman Industrial Problems, Legislation, William M. K. Olcott Strikes, Etc.:

Edward F. Boyle V. Everit Macy, Chairman

Alfred E. Marling Charles P. Steinmetz

George Foster Peabody At the meeting of the Commission on January 26th, taxation, demobilization and unemployment were discussed. Immediately following this meeting, the committees organized for work.

The Commission adjourned to meet in Rochester, subject to the call of the chair.

A number of meetings of the full Commission were held: On January 30th, the Commission met in Albany to assist in mediating a threatened shutdown in the textile industries that would cause the unemployment of over 40,000 persons. The mediation was successful.

Other general meetings of the Commission were held on February 8th, February 27th in Buffalo, the morning of March 8th in Rochester, evening of March 8th in Syracuse, March 12th in New York, March 31st in Queens, April 11th in New York, May 13th in Brooklyn, May 21st in Albany, June 9th in New York, September 24th and October 23rd, 1919, New York. At all of the Commission meetings, reports of the committees were received and acted upon.

At public hearings held by the Commission or its various committees, housing, food production and distribution, co-operative organizations, vehicular tunnel between New York and New Jersey, military training, Americanization, demobilization, unemployment, reorganization of the State Government and permanent progressive policies for the State were discussed, as well as any local questions that were brought to the attention of the Commission at · its public hearings in Rochester, Syracuse, Buffalo and Albany.

The Executive Committee met weekly and adopted a rule that the reports of committees should first be presented to the Executive Committee and after being acted upon there they were to be submitted to the individual

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