Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"[U]ntil a wonderful change occurred during the last few days of the session."

March 14, 1866, New York Times, FROM THE STATE CAPITAL.; OUR ALBANY LETTER. Debate on the New Capitol Bill--Speeches by Messrs. Cochrane and D. P. Wood -- A Charge of Fraud, [extract]

The bill appropriating $500,000, to enable Commissioners, to be appointed by the Governor, to commence building a new Capitol, has occupied much of to-day's session in the House. It was supported in an able speech by Mr. Cochrane, of Albany, who exhausted all arguments against the inconveniences and defects of the old building, and the reasons which impel the people of Albany to ask for a new edifice more in keeping with the power, wealth and importance of the Empire State.

D. P. Wood, of Onondaga, replied with much earnestness and ability, arguing that taxation had already reached an unprecedented figure, and that the present was an exceedingly inopportune time to ask for a new Capitol. He argued that it was only sought to commit the State to the project by making an appropriation, however small, in order that it might be urged hereafter that the work had been commenced and must be gone through with. He estimated that, including the amount of town and county obligations for payment of bounties, which would, with interest, reach over thirteen millions to be raised this year, the annual tax for 1866, State and local, would amount to the enormous sum of $24,600,000. Was any tax ever before imposed upon the people of this State calling for twenty-four millions in a single year? Was this the time to build a new Capitol? Would an individual build a new house with an immense debt hanging over him? Mr. Wood further charged that a base fraud was perpetrated in the passage of the bill last year. As that bill passed the House, it simply located the new Capitol in Albany, but made no appropriation whatever. When it got into the Senate, however, by some manipulation, it contained another section, which the House never acted on, making an appropriation of $10,000. Mr. W. showed by the journals of the two houses that his charge was correct.

Progress was finally reported on the bill, which has been made the special order for next week, Wednesday. Had the vote been taken to-day, the Capitol Bill would have been defeated by a large majority. Such, however, was the condition of affairs last year, until a wonderful change occurred during the last few days of the session. Possibly a similar change may yet be brought about by the Albanians who are wonderfully clamorous for the bill, and who, it is charged, have raised the "sinews of war" to put it through.