« PreviousContinue »
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.
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
Inquiry into War Emergency Dr. Felix Adler
Measures, Etc. (Exclusive of Alfred J. Johnson
Peter J. Brady
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
John G. Agar
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
Alfred J. Johnson
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
Richard S. Newcombe
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