« PreviousContinue »
Commission of 1894 declared that, in its opinion, the Tenement House Laws needed to be revised as often as once in five years, and I am confident that the improvements in building materials and construction of tenements, and the advance in sanitary legislation all demand further modification of existing laws. Probably the best course to follow would be to appoint a commission to present a revised code of Tenement House Laws.
"Owing to defects in the drug clerks' bill presented last year, I was unable to sign it. I am, however, in hearty sympathy with the objects sought in the bill. I trust that a satisfactory bill may be presented this year, and shall be glad to give such a bill my approval.
"The liability of employers to their employees is now recognized in the laws of most of the great industrial communities of the world. While employers ought not to be burdened to such an extent as to endanger ordinary business transactions, yet the State should, so far as possible, protect those employees engaged in dangerous occupations and should see that every reasonable provision is taken to guard their rights."
Here we have in remarkable array the vital questions—those that have fire in them—the things the people are thinking and talking about—and they are far and away more interesting in the consideration given them by the President of the United States, when he was Governor of the State of New York, even than his utterances as President.
It would be hard in the great roll of Governors to find such a discussion in their public papers as appears here. The "problems" he presented in his most excellent method to his State, are all singly applicable to the United States. Elsewhere the Governor spoke of the City of New York, in sorrow and anger, this summary of pride and bitterness:
"There is no reason to suppose that the condition of the working classes as a whole has grown worse, though there are enormous bodies of them whose condition is certainly very bad. There are grave social dangers and evils to meet, but there are plenty of earnest and devoted men and women who devote their mind and energies to meeting them. With many very serious shortcomings and defects, the average New Yorker yet possesses courage, energy, business capacity, much generosity of a practical sort, and shrewd, humorous common sense. The greedy tyranny of the unscrupulous rich and the anarchic violence of the vicious and ignorant poor are ever threatening dangers; but though there is every reason why we should realize the gravity of the perils ahead of us, there is none why we should not face them with confident and resolute hope, if only each of us, according to the measure of his capacity, will with manly honesty and good faith do his share of the all-important duties incident to American citizenship."
That which the Governor's first message contains that concerns especially and expressly the State of New York, is exceedingly well stated, and has served its purpose. There is fullness of information and adept application in the review of many things, and a share of attention given to a surprising scope of interests. The Governor pleaded for the preservation of the forests and the game they contained, and incidentally remarked:
"Hardy outdoor sports, like hunting, are in themselves of no small value to the national character and should be encouraged in every way. Men who go into the wilderness, indeed men who take part in any field sports with horse or rifle, receive a benefit which can hardly be given by even the most vigorous athletic games.
"The State should not permit within its limits factories to make bird skins or bird feathers into articles of ornament or wearing apparel. Ordinary birds, and especially song birds, should be rigidly protected. Game birds should never be shot to a greater extent than will offset the natural rate of increase. All spring shooting should be prohibited and efforts made by correspondence with the neighboring States to secure its prohibition within their borders. Care should be taken not to encourage the use of cold storage or other market systems which are a benefit to no one but the wealthy epicure who can afford to pay a heavy price for luxuries. These systems tend to the destruction of the game; which would bear most severely upon the very man whose rapacity has been appealed to in order to secure its extermination.
"The open season for the different species of game and fish should be made uniform throughout the entire State, save that it should be shorter on Long Island for certain species which are not plentiful and which are pursued by a greater number of people than in other game portions of the State."
The repeal of the Horton Boxing Law was recommended as follows:
"I called the attention of the Legislature to the so-called Horton Boxing Law, now on the statute books, and recommend its repeal. If this law merely fulfilled the expectations of its original advocates; and if it were executed as it was executed during the first year it was enacted, there would be no need of this recommendation. Rough vigorous pastimes are excellent things for the nation; for they promote manliness, being good in their effects not merely on the body, but upon the character, which is far more important than the body. It is an admirable thing for any boy or young man whose work is of a sedentary character to take part in vigorous play, so long as it is not carried to excess, or allowed to interfere with his work. Every exercise that tends to develop bodily vigor, daring, endurance, resolution and self-command should be encouraged. Boxing is a fine sport; but this affords no justification of prize fighting, any more than the fact that a cross country run or a ride on a wheel is healthy justifies such a demoralizing exhibition as a six days' race. When any sport is carried on primarily for money—that is, as a business—it is in danger of losing much that is valuable, and of acquiring some exceedingly undesirable characteristics. In the case of prize fighting, not only do all the objections which apply to the abuse of other professional sports apply in aggravated form, but in addition the exhibition has a very demoralizing and brutalizing effect. There is no need to argue these points. They are expressly admitted in the Horton Law itself. Moreover the evils are greatly aggravated by the fact that the fight is for a money prize, and is the occasion for unlimited gambling and betting. As the law is construed by the police department of New York at present, it permits prize fights pure and simple. If, as is alleged, the police are technically justified in so construing the law, it only renders it the more necessary that the law should be repealed. However proper it may have been in its intent and as originally construed and administered, the gross abuses in its present administration, make its existence on the statute books of the Empire State an offence against decency."
There is not a word in the Governor's papers that does not mean to honest people, that there is a man in earnest "behind the gun," and one not afraid to burn powder, and fire steel bolts straight at any mark that may be set up to be tested, and to try the marksmanship of the gunner, and prepare for the emergencies of the future, by using the powers of government, first for the information of the people, for the ascertainment of grievances, and then the application of remedy, the certainty being that all the time nothing will be done permanently that is not sustained by public opinion.
HIS IRON HAND.
New York as a "Free City"—"Tri-Insula" Policy Once Proposed—Roosevelt out WestEncounters Roughs Who Were Not Riders—His Immense Campaign Work—Striking Speeches Goto the Right Spot—Returns Home in Time to Stamp upon Sedition— A Great Public Service—The Ruffians Ridden Down by a Rough Rider with an Iron Hand.
t ■ AHE City of New York has on several occasions been regarded by revolu
tionists as having interests of her own distinct from those of the
country at large. There could hardly be a more narrow-minded and impracticable scheme of sedition than that of undertaking to augment the greatness of New York by exciting antagonism with the source of that greatness which has always been clearly the country at large.
There has been a presumption in some quarters that would hardly have been suspected of so lacking intelligence as to entertain it, that New York, as a free and independent city, could be more prosperous and powerful than as the great port of a great nation. The most notable incident of the development of an idea to disintegrate the country by the severance of it, in a large commercial sense, from its metropolis, occurred at the time that was most critical, while the organization of secession was going on, to resist the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States. It was assumed by the Mayor of New York that the Union was already dissolved, and that it would be well for that city to augment her grandeur by following the example of some of the Southern States, and separating herself from the Union. The fact of the official suggestion, that there should be a great commercial commonwealth, to be called "Tri-Insula," is not as well known as it should be. There is a lesson in it still to be studied. We quote an account given, looking to the independence of the three islands—Manhattan, Long Island and Staten Island, with, of course, the purpose of including the city and a part of the territory beyond it in New Jersey, so as to give good form to the new nation, and, perhaps, rule over the land after the manner of Rome, possibly with the help of a few States seceded to reorganize the disorder of the Republic and bestow on the North American Continent, as a whole, the blessings of municipal government as established, and illustrating the advantages of the change at the mouth of the Hudson. It is a strange story, but the historian is of celebrity and reliability. He says: "At the outset of the Civil War, there was even an effort made to force the city into active rebellion. The small local Democratic leaders, of the type of Isaiah Rynders, the brutal and turbulent ruffians who led the mob, and controlled the politics of the lower wards, openly and defiantly threatened to make common cause with the South, and to forbid the passage of Union troops through the city. The Mayor, Fernando Wood, in January, 1861, proclaimed disunion to be a "fixed fact" in a message to the Common Council, and proposed that New York should herself secede, and become a free city, with but a nominal duty upon imports. The independent commonwealth was to be named "Tri-Insula," as being composed of three islands,—Long, Staten, and Manhattan. The Common Council, a corrupt body as disloyal as Wood himself, received the message enthusiastically, and had it printed and circulated wholesale."
The historian from whose instructive work on the City of New York we quote, it may add an interest more than personal to say, is The Honorable Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States, and he had evidence, during the later weeks of his far Western campaigning tour, in 1900, that there was an idea abroad of governing the country by the City of New York, in, it was assumed, a more constitutional way tha'n had been in the mind of the Mayor of the City in 1860. The experience of forty years was not altogether disregarded. All that was wanted was to carry enough Western States against the re-election of William McKinley to be President and Theodore Roosevelt Vice-President of the United States, to make the decision turn on the vote of the greater New York City. The old city had swallowed Brooklyn and Bronx and quite imitated, within legal limits, the "Tri-Insula" scheme, but it was necessary that there should be a tremendous majority in the City in opposition to the continuance of the McKinley Administration and as Tammany was in possession of Tri-Insula, the whole power of that distinguished organization might be directed point blank to the enterprise of carrying for Tammany the Greater New York by declaring such an overwhelming vote as to sweep with it the electoral vote of the State. Somewhat curiously, there appears to have been an oversight in the preparations made by the managers of this metropolitan enterprise. They had omitted a factor from their calculations. They had forgotten the Governor, except as they noticed that he was making a most formidable campaign in that territory which the Opposition to the McKinley and Roosevelt candidacy had been claiming, with an intense display of confidence, for their exclusive use in the approaching election. The Governor of New York was disturbing the Tri-Insula plan of campaign. That had been made plain at Kansas City, where the hand of the master of the Greater New