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the law of the land, or the judgment of his peers. Among those franchises are trial by jury, the writ of habeas corpus, liberty of speech and of the press, and free enjoyment of religious profession and worship. The government can make no discrimination or preference of religion, nor any provision for an ecclesiastical establishment, and the clergy are excluded from civil functions.* A militia, composed only of citizens who are enrolled, and required to appear under arms twice in each year, constitutes the only force within the state, relied on for public defence or maintenance of the civil authorities; but the constitution of the United States guaranties to the state security against invasion and domestic insurrection. There are four departments of the government: the legislative, executive, administrative, and judicial. The legislative power is absolute, except as restricted by the federal and state constitutions. A senate and an assembly constitute the legislature. The senate is composed of thirty-two members, who are elected by the people in eight equal senatorial districts, and remain in office four years. One senator is annually elected in each district. The assembly consists of one hundred and twenty-eight members, who are elected by the people in counties, each of which is represented in proportion to its population. The lieutenant-governor, elected by the people, presides, and has only a casting vote in the senate. A speaker, freely elected by the assembly, presides in that body. Bills originate in either house, and become laws when passed by both houses and approved by the governor, or when they receive the votes of two thirds of the members present, notwithstanding the executive veto. Laws to create or alter corporations require the assent of two thirds of all the members elected in each house.
The governor constitutes the executive department, is biennially elected by the people, is commander-in-chief of the militia and admiral of the navy, and is charged with the execution of the laws. He annually communicates to the legislature the condition of the state, and recommends such measures as he deems expedient. He is invested with power to pardon in all cases whatsoever, except treason, and may suspend the execution of persons convicted of that crime until the pleasure of the legislature shall be made known. In case of his death, absence, or
By the constitution of 1846, this exclusion is abolished.-Ed.
incapacity, the executive functions devolve upon the lieutenantyovernor. The administrative department is intrusted with the fiscal interests of the state, and is divided among a secretary of state, comptroller, treasurer, surveyor-general, attorney-general, commissary-general, commissioners of the canal fund, commissioners of the land-office, and canal commissioners; each of whom, by virtue of the constitution or laws, is appointed by the legislature without the interposition of the executive authority. There is a court for the trial of impeachments and the correction of errors, which is composed of the lieutenant-governor, senators, chancellor, and the justices of the supreme court. Articles of impeachment may be preferred by the assembly against the governor and all administrative and judicial officers, and the votes of two thirds of the members of the court for the trial of impeachments are necessary to a conviction. The court may remove the party convicted from office. The same court reviews the judgments and decrees of the supreme court and the court of chancery. The supreme court is a court of law, having jurisdiction in civil and criminal cases; and consists of three justices, each of whom holds his office until he attains the age of sixty years. Issues of fact are tried by jury before circuit judges who hold circuit courts, and by the county courts; and such issues in criminal cases are tried by jury in courts of oyer and terminer and general sessions in the several counties. The supreme court reviews the judgments of all inferior legal tribunals. County courts of common pleas and general sessions are held by local judges, who hold their offices five years, and review the proceedings in justices' courts. There are four justices of the peace in each town; they are elected by the people, and hold their offices four years, and have jurisdiction in civil cases, and in litigated cases may render judgments not exceeding one hundred dollars. Three justices constitute a court of special sessions for the trial of small offences. Equity is administered by a chancellor and by nine subordinate vice-chancellors, of whom six are also circuit judges. The chancellor and circuit judges respectively hold their offices until the age of sixty years. All judicial officers, except justices of the peace in towns, are nominated by the governor, and appointed by him with the advice and consent of the senate. IIe also appoints in like manner major-generals, inspectors of brigades, and officers of the general staff of the militia, except the commissary-general. The constitution may be amended; and for that purpose a resolution must be passed by a majority of the legislature at one session, and at a succeeding session by the votes of two thirds of all the members elected, and be approved at the next general election by a majority of the people. The present constitution was established in the place of one which had been adopted in 1777.*
The bay of New York is supposed to have been visited by Verazzani, under the patronage of Francis I. of France, in 1584.+ In 1609, Champlain, a mariner in the French service, explored the northern waters, and Hendrick Hudson, under a commission from the States-General of the Netherlands, ascended the river whose name so justly commemorates the enterprise of that navigator. The settlement of the southern portion of the state, under the name of New Netherlands, was commenced in the subsequent year. The colony submitted to the English in 1664,$ and was regained by the Netherlands in 1673,7 but was relinquished to England by the treaty of Westminster in the succeeding year, and remained a province of the British empire until the thirteen united British colonies became an independent confederacy of states, in 1776. During the Dutch supremacy, the province was a mercantile possession of the Dutch East India Company. Under the English, it was by royal charter a manor belonging to the duke of York. In 1683, the discontent of the colonists induced the consent of the proprietor to the institution of a representative assembly.** After that period, restricted legislative powers were vested in the governor and council “ and the people met in general assembly.” Although the States
General of the Netherlands were at the zenith of commercial power, and learning and the arts were cherished in that country, when the colony was planted, its inhabitants seem not to have been distinguished by intellectual developments;tt and although the conquest occurred at a time when the English people had attained even a higher supremacy in literature than in arms, yet that event seems not to have resulted in an improvement of the condition of society. It
* The constitution was again revised in 1846, by a convention.-Ed. + Bancroft.
+ Clinton, Introductory Discourse.
Knowledge dawned upon the colony about the year 1754,* but was obscured during the civil commotions which a little more than twenty years afterward resulted in its political independence.
Columbia College was established by royal charter, under the name of King's College, in 1754, under the care of Doctor Samuel Johnson of Connecticut, as president. The governors of the college were the archbishop of Canterbury, the first lord-commissioner for trade and plantations, the lieutenant-governor of the province, and several other public officers, together with the rector of Trinity Church, the senior minister of the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church, the ministers of the German Lutheran Church, of the French Church, and of the Presbyterian Church, the president of the college, and twenty-four of the principal gentlemen of the city. The college was endowed with funds derived from lotteries, and voluntary contributions of private individuals in this country, and in England and France. Dr. Johnson was succeeded as president, in 1763, by the Reverend Miles Cooper, D. D. of Oxford. He, in 1767, acknowledged that the institution had recently received great emoluments from his majesty King George III., from liberal contributions by many of the nobility and gentry in the parent-country, from the society for the propagation of the gospel in foreign parts, and from several public-spirited gentlemen in America and elsewhere. IIe gave
also this account of the success of the institution : “That the governors of the college had been enabled to extend its plan of education almost as diffusely as that of any college in Europe; there being taught therein divinity, national law, physic, logic, ethics, metaphysics, mathematics, natural philosophy, astronomy, geography, history, chronology, rhetoric; the Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and modern languages; the belles-lettres, and whatever else of literature may tend to accomplish the pupils both as scholars and gentlemen." At the commencement of the Revolution, the presidency devolved upon the Right Reverend Benjamin Moore, bishop of the protestant episcopal church; and the chair has since been filled by William Samuel Johnson, Doctor Wharton, William Harris, and William A. Duer.t The fair beginning of education in the colony was arrested by the revolutionary war; and the college was not re-organized until 1787, when, under the immediate superintendence of the newly-created regents of the * Clinton, Introductory Discourse. | Historical sketch of Columbia College, 1826.
university, the institution assumed the name of Columbia College, and its charter, with some necessary alterations, was confirmed. *
Education was recognised as among the proper responsibilities of the government in 1784, by an act “erecting a university within this state.” What appears to have been chiefly intended by this act, was to convert King's, now Columbia College, into a state university. The principal officers of the state were made, ex-officio, regents, and twenty-four other persons were appointed, and it was provided that each religious denomination in the state might appoint one of its clergy to be a regent. The regents were empowered to establish colleges and schools, which should be considered as parts of the university. This law was amended in November of the same year, and was revised in 1787. The provision authorizing the clergy to appoint a regent proved impracticable, and was repealed. The constitution of the university is at present substantially such as it was made by this last revision.
Among the many distinguished patrons of learning who have held seats in the board of regents, may be named George Clinton, John Jay, Morgan Lewis, Daniel D. Tompkins, De Witt Clinton, Joseph C. Yates, Martin Van Buren, Enos T. Throop, and William L. Marcy, former governors of the state; Pierre Van Cortlandt, Stephen Van Rensselaer, Jeremiah Van Rensselaer, John Broome, John Taylor, Erastus Root, James Tallmadge, Nathaniel Pitcher, Edward P. Livingston, and John Tracy, former lieutenant-governors; Egbert Benson, Philip Schuyler, Ezra L'Hommedieu, Lewis Morris, Matthew Clarkson, Benjamin Moore, Eilardus Westerlo, Baron de Steuben, Gulian Verplanck, Zephaniah Platt, James Watson, Abraham Van Vechten, Simeon De Witt, James Kent, Henry Rutgers, Ambrose Spencer, Peter Gansevoort, Solomon Southwick, Smith Thompson, John Woodworth, John Lansing, junior, Samuel Young, Nathan Williams, William A. Duer, Harmanus Bleecker, Samuel A. Talcott, Peter B. Porter, Robert Troup, Jesse Buel, Benjamin F. Butler, John Sudam, John P. Cushman, and Washington Irving. The present regents are the governor ;t Luther Bradish, lieutenant-governor; Samuel Young, the secretary of state; Elisha Jenkins, James Thompson, Peter Wendell, John Greig, Gulian C. Verplanck, Gerrit Y. Lansing, John K. Paige, John A. Dix, William Camprell, Erastus Corning, Prosper M. Wetmore, James M‘Kown, * Laws of New York, 1784.
+ William H. Seward.