1880-1889 News Articles
January 20, 1880, The Sun, Page 1, Column 4,The Capitol Commissioners met to-day and made a clean sweep of all the officers under the Commission below the Superintendent, and there will be no appointments in this department of men who do not support the John F. Smyth or Grant element of the party.
April 30, 1880, The World: New York, Smyth's Last Strike.
On the Eve of Leaving Office He Comes Down on Three Companies Without Results.
During the last two or three days, however, stories began to circulate that Governor Cornell would, as soon as Mr. Fairman qualified as Insurance Superintendent, take Mr. Smyth up bodily and place him in the Senate as his nominee for Canal Auditor, about which nomination there has been so much mystery all winter. The appointment of Mr. Smyth to that position would place him on the New Capitol Commission, with power over the very building in which the Senators who are opposing him now sit. This idea of his walking out of the Insurance Department and becoming the chief magnate of the New Capitol created a commotion, senators did not know to what scheme he might resort for the purpose of punishing his Republican opponents in the Legislature. The Senators renewed their war-paint, preparing for another fierce contest, should the Governor carry out his design and try to transform Mr. Smyth into a Canal Auditor and New Capitol commissioner, in the midst of the Senators' anxiety over the probable appointment.
April 1, 1880, The World,
The Supply Bill Beaten.
Next came the vote on the $6,000 for the purchase of the bronze statue of Robert R. Livingston for the new Capitol This was Opposed for the reason that it would lead to endless appropriations in the future for statues for the building, since that one single statue would look lonesome without companions. This item was retained by a vote of 37 to 63.
December 22, 1880, The Sun, Page 2, Column 6, The New Capitol.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE SUN--Sir: I would like to publish the true accounts of the bad work and worse management of the new Capitol. In reference to the "one stone in ten thousand," I say the Asembly chamber is cracked from top to bottom; so much so that it is pressing the court walls out, and even cracking the granite pilasters. I showed these cracks last spring to Recorder Paddock and Assemblyman-elect Herrick, and told Mr. Olcott, late Comptroller. Just think of 195,000 tons, above the Assembly Chamber floor, held together by nothing. I hope there is one paper that will not listen to the childish twaddle of replacing the defective stone, because all the powers of earth cannot remedy this useless sounding bell. The western columns are built about one half on the wall, and there is not a man who understands architectural construction who would stay in the chamber three minutes if he could see the half of said columns. W. G. REED, Builder.
January 1, 1881, The Sun, Page 1, Column 5,Another Fracture In the New Capitol.
ALBANY, Dec. 31.--At a meeting of the new Capitol Commissioners this afternoon Superintendent Eaton said that 1, men are now employed, and that $377,000 remained of the appropriation, most of which would be required to pay balances on existing contracts. He also said that another fracture in the ceiling of the Assembly chamber had been discovered. It is in the rib opposite to that in which the other was. The fracture has been there three weeks but is not visible from the floor. It is exactly the reverse of the crack in the other stone, and the stone itself is up near the keystone. Auditor Place said the fracture was plainly marked on both sides as though it extended through the stone. Supintendent Eaton said he had a theory as to the cause of the fracture, but Mr, Eidlitz had made calculations, and determined to his (Eidlitz)satisfaction that it was caused by unequal pressure, this arch being lower than the other crowded or twisted the rib sideways. Extra weight has been put on to balance the unequal pressure.
January 4, 1881, The Daily Graphic, The Safety of the Albany Capitol, The Architect Declares That There is No Occasion for Alarm-—The Variation of Settlement Reported as Less Than An Inch.
ALBANY, N. Y., January 1.—The new Capitol Commissioners held a meeting this afternoon to hear the report of Architect Eidlitz and the engineers who have been taking measurements to determine whether the building has settled. Architect Eidlitz made a long technical statement, in the course of which he said that if the building were to settle six or eight inches it would not be extraordinary; that common dwellings often settle more than an inch. He said he had no fear that anything has occurred detrimental to the building and that was no occasion for alarm. ln answer to a question of Attorney-General Ward he said there was no danger in oocupying the Assembly chamber. He explained that the stone in the ceiling was fractured because of the difference in tbe pressure brought to bear upon the rib by the two intersecting vaults which abut upon it, and explained that this difference had been entirely and permanently adjusted. The civil engineers submitted a partial report, not having completed their measurements. The result so far as completed, the report says, indicates no material settlement of the two outside walls, although there seems to be a deviation from a true level on the water table of about half an inch. The rear of the west end of the building, outside, they found to be level within three-eighths of an inch. They found a difference of elevation in the base of the columns in the Assembly Chamber, which are the main support of the arched roof, as follows: Base of N. W. column, datum base of S. W. column, 15-16 of an inch above datum; base of S. E. column, 12-12 of an inch above datum: base of N. E. column, 10-16 of an inch above datum. On the Washington avenue side they found the base of the pilasters standing in the wall on the easterly and westerly sides of the hallway are 15-16 of an inch below the base of the central column. Attorney-General Ward inquired of Mr. Hughes as to the condition of the foundation. He replied that some veins of quicksand were found in laying the foundation in the northeast corner from 4 to 8 feet wide and 4 feet deep. They were removed and filed with concrete. Water veins were also found, but were obstructed. He denied the report that any part of the building rested on [s]piles. The engineers were directed to ascertain whether the walls are perpendicular or springing, especially around the corridors, and to report as soon as possible. The commission then adjourned.
January 12, 1881, The Sun, Page 1, Column 6, How the New Capitol's Walls Have Settled.
ALBANY, Jan. 11.--Surveyor Stingerland, who has been taking the measurements and levels in the new Capitol, reports to the Capitol Commissioners that the east end of the foundation walls varies from a true level about three-eighths of an inch, and the water table about 1 3/4 inches, and that the stone foundation at the bottom of the cut stone work Is about two inches below the original bench mark. These, with other measurements, show that the foundation of the exterior walls has settled about two inches, and nearly uniform, which is not considered an extraordianry settlement. It was also found that the grand corridor, now occupied by the Senate, is 1 2/3 inches wider in the center than at either end, but whether this was due to the original construction or to the latteral pressure on the walls, he was unable to determine. The granite columns or piers in the main hallway at the Washington avenue entrance, which are the primary supports of the four large granite columns that support the arched ceiling of the Assembly Chamber, which are substantially level at their base, are fiteen-sixteenths of an inch below the base of the remaining columns in the central part of this floor, which are also substantially level at their base. Mr. Stingerland does not know whether they were originally set upon the same base or not.
January 19, 1881, The Sun, Page 1, Column 3, What the New Capitol has Cost.
ALBANY, Jan. 18.--The New Capitol Commissioners report transmitted to the Legislature today gives the following financial exhibit: Expenditure for the year ending Dec. 31, 1880, on contracts and for material and labor, $1,299,107.84. Expenditures for the new Capitol from commencement to Dec. 31, 188O, for lands, $626,447.62; for interest, $56,936.04; construction expenses, $10,914,516.40; total, $11,597,609.06
January 21, 1881, The Sun, Page 1, Column 1, Gen. Ben C. Butler of Warren County moved that the Assembly go into Committee of the Whole on the Governors message, which was carried, and Mr Alvord called to the chair. Gen. Butler read a long speech on the new Capitol, in which he took ground against any further appropriation of money for its completion. Gen Butler is tall and good-looking, with a decided military air. He speaks through his nose. When he concluded, the Assembly adjourned and notice was given that the Ways and Means Committee would met this afternoon at 4 o'clock. Probably by the middle of next week some work will be cut out for the Assembly.
January 22, 1881, The Sun, Page 3, Attacks on the Capitol
Senators Denouncing it as a Fraud and Monstrosity
There was quite a discussion in the Senate over Mr Halbert's resolution submitted several days ago and called up this morning which requires the appointment of a commission to examine and report upon the new Capitol. In the course of the talk, Messrs. Fowler, Bixby and Woodlin made fierce attacks upon the new building. Mr Fowler denounced the whole thing as a fraud and a monstrosity and said not another dollar ought to be spent on it. Mr. Bixby offered a resolution pledging the Senate not to consent to any further appropriations until the new Senate Chamber is ready for occupancy. The Senators are very much dissatisfied with the light they have. Many of them want, perhaps, a peculiar kind of light. The whole subject went over with a tacit understanding that it is to come up on Tuesday.
January 26, 1881, The Sun, Page 3, Column 3, The Senate devoted its entire session
to a useless debate on the new Capitol, and at its close tabled a resolution to appoint a commission of experts to make an inquiry as to its safety.
January 27, 1881, Utica Morning Herald, Page 3, Column 8, State Capitol
Mr. Hayes offered a resolution that the committee on ways and means learn from the capitol commissioners whether in the unfinished portion a suitable room for the assembly can be had and the assembly chamber used by the state library. Tabled."
February 12, 1881, The Sun, Page 1, Column 5, Another Scheme for Moving the Capitol.
Mr. Catlin of Westchester has introduced a resolution which, after a long preamble describing the new Capitol as an unmitigated failure proposes the appointment of a Commission to report on the feasibility of the removal of the capital to either New York city or Syracuse where a new one can be built at less cost than required to finish the present one.
March 11, 1881, Auburn NY Evening Auburnian,
The State Senate Moves Into its New Quarter,
April 1, 1881, The Sun, Page 3, Column 2, Politicians After Spoils.
The Finance Committee of the Senate reported a bill appropriating $750,000 to continue the work upon the new Capitol. It provides that the money shall be spent in furnishing and completing the eastern portion of the Capitol; also that the old Capitol shall be torn down at the earliest practicable time and what material is suitable used in the new Capitol. The Legislature has already passed a bill this session appropriating $250,000 for the new Capitol and the bill reported today makes it a round million. This will bring the total cost thus far in the neighborhood of thirteen million dollars and the end is a long way off yet. The people will yet see that Gov. Robinson was right when he described this new Capitol as a great public calamity.
April 1, 1881, The Sun, Page 3, Column 3,
Mr. Skinner offered a resolution for the appointment of a special committee to act with the Capitol Commissioners, with a view to seeing whether something cannot be done to improve the Assembly Chamber before the meeting of the next Legislature. This room, which the architect boasts cost over $1,000,000, is owing to its miserable acoustic properties, and the inconvenience with which everything is arranged,utterly unfit for the use to which it is put. It Is impossible to hear what is going on. An effort has been made to Improve the acoustic properties by boarding up the two great caverns at each end of the chamber called galleries, but the relief, it any. Is hardly perceptible. The arrangement of the seats is also outlandish. The resolution goes over until next week.
April 20, 1881, Oswego Palladium, The workman on the new capitol at Albany were paid $19,471 09 Monday
April 27, 1881, Watertown Daily Times, Page 1, Columns 3-6, Winslow on the Capitol.
His Recent Speech in the Senate.
The Policy of Pushing On the Work Force and Figures About the New State House, Present and Future.
The People Treated Fairly and Squarely.
In the Senate, on Monday evening, Senator Bradley Winslow, of the XXI district, spoke in advocacy of the resolution offered by him, calling for detailed information in respect to the capitol, which was subsequently adopted unanimously. We print the Senator's speech in full. He said:
Mr. President, The matter of making an appropriation for continuing the work on the new capitol will soon be under consideration in this body. A bill has been prepared from the finance committee making such appropriation, and the sum named is [$2,549,400.] Before intelligent action on the part of the legislature with reference to it can be had, it occurs to me that information ought to be obtained by the resolution I have offered is necessary. The proper office from which to obtain it is the commissioners of the new capitol, the superintendent and architects employed for these purposes are charged with the work of construction. In its continuance there are two policies open to be pursued. One is that which the taxpayers have been made to feel is agony long drawn out. The other is to go about the work with sufficient force and means specifically to accomplish it. With reference to the latter policy, before adopting it we should first have reasonably certain information as to where the end is---whether it is near or far off--whether it is possible with such resources as the people possess promptly to complete it.
It is desirable to have the persons I have named advise the legislature as to what stage of progress we have reached; What portion of the work, in the ratio of the whole, remains to be performed; What sum of money will be necessary to do what remains to be done; If not to vote a sum sufficient to finish the building entire, what will be a sufficient sum to render it fit for occupancy for the purposes intended—leaving the grand eastern portico, terrace, the great tower and other parts not absolutely necessary to occupancy to the future. This will be in harmony with the plan of procrastinating the work through an indefinite and perhaps limitless period of time which has hitherto prevailed. But I hear the objection that it is entirely useless to try to ascertain definitely what the total remaining cost will be. We started off with a professional estimate that the new Capitol would be built for $4,000,000. The work was undertaken, and in the face of this estimate the cost so far has swollen to upwards of eleven and a half millions of dollars.
But there was a motive for withholding the full facts then which ought not to exist now. Had the people then been informed they were to incur an expense of four times four million perhaps this Capitol building would have been no more than a castle in the air—a creation in the mind of some architect—or at most a Capitol on paper. But now the foundation has been laid, the superstructure has been put thereon: so much indeed has been done that it would be worse than folly to undertake to contract or dwarf the general plan. That must now be carried to fulfillment. Discarding sentiment or buncombe and all further efforts to hoodwink the people, let an honest effort be now made to find the extent of our calamity, if it be a calamity, or of our blessing, if it be a blessing. And that it is a blessing—"a thing of beauty and a joy forever"—I have no doubt. Though the people in building this Capitol have floundered on in ignorance of what was to be the outcome, they have, nevertheless, "builded better than they knew."
And the policy of procrastination greatly swells the aggregate cost. We have a superintendent at a salary of $7,000 per year. Our architects are employed at a salary of $20,000 per annum. Then there is a long list of subordinates and employes whose salaries are regularly drawn and will be whether the work is much or little, whether the appropriation is small or large.
Such portions of the structure as are exposed to the elements for a want of a roof to protect them are liable to more or less injury. There can be no economy in putting off an expenditure that must be incurred sooner or later. The state needs the building for use. I have no doubt but that a great saving in the cost of material would be made if arrangements could be perfected to purchase so much as would be necessary to complete the entire work. Large purchases can certainly be made on better terms than small ones. So work done by contractors can be obtained at lower bids if a large instead of a smaller amount is to be let.
There can be no argument in favor of piece-meal appropriations except it is to prevent reckless and extravagant expenditure. But since the change in the law whereby certain state officers were made commissioners of the new capitol, no complaint has been made of unfaithfulness in the performance of the trust imposed. But if there is ground for suspicion even that there has been any neglect, any misconduct, any lack of capacity on the part of the officials named or on the part of the superintendent and architects, let the facts be made public. Indeed, my suggestion is that the senate should instruct its finance committee to examine and verify the accounts of the commissioners, and become informed as to all the facts connected with the expenditures made by them, and to the end that we may the better judge whether or not to trust them further. The new capitol commissioners, by virtue of their positions in the state government, are Lieutenant-Governor George G. Hoskins, Attorney-General Hamilton Ward, and Auditor of the Canal Department John A. Place. The superintendent is James W. Eaton.
Under the authority which the statute confers upon these gentlemen, their duties are performed substantially in this wise: The architects submit to the commissioners drafts of plans. The commissioners consider the plans and adopt or disapprove them. When adopted, the superintendent is required by law to advertise for proposals of materials to be furnished. The bids when received are opened and the superintendent is required to enter into contract with the lowest bidder, if in the judgment of the commissioners the terms proposed are advantageous to the state. The superintendent employes the mechanics, apparatus and laborers, and is responsible for their conduct and the manner in which they perform their duties. The superintendent is to a fault non-partisan. During the last year an average of about 1,000 men were employed; of this number, I am told fully 800 were democrats. A majority of the foremen of the gangs of laborers have been democrats, and without bridles on their tongues. It is rumored that one of these was a leader of the mob that attacked the Massachusetts volunteers on their way through Baltimore in 1861, when a number of them were remorselessly shot down. The employment of such a man and so many other democrats, furnishes an instance of magnanimity on the part of the dominant party without a parallel.
One million six hundred thousand dollars were appropriated by the last legislature for the continuance of the work on the new capitol. This sum has been expended by the commissioners, and every dollar accounted for. My conviction is that these gentlemen have been most faithful and efficient guardians of the public interests in the manner in which their important duties have been discharged. If this shall be verified by a thorough examination of their acts by a committee of the senate, then is the position strengthened that the necessary steps should be promptly taken to finish the work of construction. Under a wise constitutional limitation, debts cannot be created against the state except for certain special purposes, of which it would [ ] to continue work on the new Capitol would not be one. It is, however, provided that a debt may be created by authority of law, subject to the approval of the people. If it shall be found from the opinions of the Superintendent and Commissioners that almost the entire expenditure can be obtained should a law be framed for submission to the people authorizing a debt of, say, $2,000,000 at a low rate of interest. This sum with an appropriation for the current year to be provided for by direct tax of one million five hundred thousand dollars, I believe would prove sufficient funds to have us complete a new capitol in a brief period of time.
The subject of the Capitol is a large one and of corresponding interest to the people, and it has been greatly enhanced because of the many criticisms that have been made upon the work. This justifies, perhaps, some general remarks at the time, not wholly germane to the mere matter involved in the resolution. It is now nearly eighteen years since the legislature initiated the movement for a new Capitol. On the 14th of April, 1863, the Hon. James A. Bell, as Senator representing the eighteenth district, then comprising the counties of Jefferson and Lewis, from the committee on public buildings, offered a resolution authorizing the trustees of the capitol and the chairman of his committee to procure suitable plans for a new capitol. The resolution was adopted. Here dates the first definite official action by the legislature which led to the results of which this brilliant chamber forms a part. Mr. President, I rejoice in the opportunity to aid so far as I can the enterprise which the gentleman I have named, my predecessor from Jefferson county, thus inaugurated. Probably he did not conceive the magnitude of what has followed.
That was nearly two decades, ago, and this state of New York has wonderfully grown since. In the intervening years two million of human beings now in life have been added to the three millions then within her borders. In a like ratio has the material wealth of the state increased. The capitol building that then might suffice would be wholly inadequate to meet the needs which such an enlarged and changed condition has created. Then, too, the country was wrapt in uncertainty and gloom. The demon of war was spreading death, desolation and destruction over a large area of our country. The quiet streets of this peaceful capital city echoed to the measured tread of armed citizen soldiers as they gathered here for organization, and as the point of departure for the immediate scenes of the dread conflict. Vicksburg had not then surrendered to the victorious legions of Gen. Grant, nor had Gettysburg become immortal through the heroism of the army of the Potomac in rolling back from the crests of that bloody field the hostile rebel invader. Victory for the national cause was far from assured. New York had as a perspective an independent nationality or be subjected to a union with a government whose corner stone was slavery.
The unfriendly critic says the building is too large—it is greatly in excess of the public needs. If, indeed, this be true of today, in the light of the marvelous development that has taken place since the work of building began, who at the end of another decade will repeat the criticism? Even now, if completed, it would be utilized in every part. When the executive, legislative and judicial functions shall be discharged within its walls, and the several state offices shall be established here, that is, the office of the secretary of state, the attorney general, comptroller, superintendent of banking, superintendent of insurance superintendent of public instruction, superintendent of prisons, superintendent of public works, the canal department, the board of regents of the university, state Board of charities, state board of health, state library, bureau of military statistics, with its collection of flags and relics, and other official boards and associations I do not now recall, together with suitable rooms for legislative committees, there will be little unoccupied space in this edifice now seemingly so vast, and to a great extant by many believed to be unnecessarily so. But the critics are numerous. They are even found in both houses of the legislature. A few weeks ago there seemed to be a mania of criticism and fault-finding. A diagnosis of the characteristics of this disturbance of the mental normal condition, disclosed the origin to have been a belief that there were constituencies whose ears would be charmed by sturdy denunciation, and who would like to feel that their representatives are doing brave service in arresting further ills from the continuing menace of the new capitol. Metaphorically, this great building is making the subject of denunciation, of ridicule and contemptuous expressions, and all "to split the ears of groundlings."
A few weeks ago the accomplished senator from the twenty-fourth was uneasy in his seat through apparent fear that these massive walls would topple and fall, but since the senate refused to vote the commission he desired, I trust he is quite reassured. The senator from the thirteenth has given repeated vigorous blows of criticism because the legislative chambers are not on the first floor. The senator for the moment, perhaps, forgot the use of that modern invention, the elevator. He failed to remember, also, that when the chambers were located where they are, it was the plan to admit the light from overhead. Besides he has repeatedly assured the senate that at some future, when the cities, villages and teeming population that now thrive upon our soil, and under the benign influence of our civilization, have been remorselessly swept away through the inevitable operation of the law of change and decay, the historian of that remote time with pick and spade will delve among the ruins of this capitol, his soul filled with anxious yearnings to discover for what use it was ever intended. It is rude, perhaps, to suggest anything to mar this beautiful figure of the senators, so dear to him, as his frequent repetition indicates, but the fact must be stated that when our civilization, now so glowing, has ceased to exist, and these columns, arches and walls are burned ruins, there probably will be no inquiring historian or antiquary in existence. For when that time shall come the elements will have melted with fervent heat and all earthly things will have had their end. The senator from the fourteenth has been unable to reconcile his aesthetic tastes to the architect's plans. It is to be hoped that the general excellence of this chamber will soften the hostility of his feelings and modify opinions he has perhaps permanently formed.
The senator from the tenth has felt constrained to pronounce the word "failure" with reference to the objects for which this building is designed. Is there occasion for suspicion that the senator from the tenth would find more beauty in these perhaps to him shapeless stones, if they were placed in a capitol building on Manhattan Island? Is there reason to suspect that his private opinion is that as the island named is the seat of the commercial capital of the state, it ought also to be the seat of its political? It sometimes happens that the impressions one gets of stones or other inanimate objects is quite different in one locality from what it would be if they were found in another. I am certain the very astute senator from the tenth has not failed to observe that a building even of the same architectural design as this, if erected on Manhattan, would immediately add to the splendor and renown of that somewhat famous island.
Some weeks since the readers of an astonished world, (I refer to a newspaper published on the island named,) were regaled with the clever, sensational and Munchausen statement that the hill on which are laid the foundations of our capitol is formed of quicksand—a most lamentable basis for a building. All must concede, and as landslides are not of infrequent occurrence the [ ] prediction was while that at some unleashed for moment the vast pile would glide down to the river, sweeping and engulfing all before it. The fears of many legislators, it is said, became so great that the proprietors of the Delavan and Kentmore hotels caused surveys to be made in order to assure their guests that their temporary headquarters were outside of the lines of the expected slide. The melancholy fact, however, was apparent that the Sage of Onodaga, who had lodgings at Stanwick hall, was within these lines, and that if a sudden he was likely to [ ] as a basis of that canal he sturdily champions on all proper and permissible occasions, where the lack of those saline properties which have made Onodaga a name and a tune in all the habitations of men, would induce malaria fever and chills.
In [ ], however, it is not to be denied but there are many defects of construction, which relate to matters of detail rather than to any general plan. There was found a broken stone in one of the ribs of the vaulted ceiling of the Assembly chamber. It was fortunately discovered before evil consequences resulted, and the defective stone replaced with a sound one. That instances of this kind should occasionally be met with need not occasion surprise. Latent defects are discovered only by critical examination, such as a careless workman might not make. The fact that they exist is not condemnatory of the general character of the material or work, and not at all of the architectural plan as a whole. It is a reflection upon the inspector, foreman or other person; whatever may be his designation, whose duty it is to know all about the every part of the material given him in charge, and to see to it that every thing inferior is rejected.
We are told of the execrable acoustic properties of the assembly chamber. That they are inferior is a fact; but to say they are execrable is to utter an extravagance and to resist the truth. Utility has probably been subordinated to the ambition of the architect to build the grandest vaulted ceiling in the world. Artistic effect has been produced at the expense of acoustic excellence. This difficulty will surely be overcome. Strength and solidity have been secured beyond all question. On the 11th of January, 1871, the then architect, Thomas Fuller and engineer. Wm. J. McAlnine, made a joint report to the new capitol commissioners, from which I have made brief extracts, relating to the foundations: "The excavations for the foundations have been made to an average depth of 13.43 feet below the surface through sand and clay. There was but one place where this sand extended below the level fixed upon for the bottom of the concrete foundation, and in that place it was wholly removed and the space filled with clay puddled to a consistency as nearly equal to that of the natural clay adjacent as possible. * * * The first course above the clay was made of concrete masonry three feet thick, which soon set and formed a large slab of artificial stone over the whole length and breadth of the foundations, and thus, to a considerable extent, equalized the pressure upon the clay where it is not alike in its sustaining power. * * * * The main walls of the building, where they rest upon the foundation walls, are from five to seven feet wide."
I will not detain the senate by further reading from this interesting report. I commend it to those who discover cracks in the masonry and other startling defects. Can there be found any one acquainted with the facts who have the faculty of reason who in lucid moments believe that these walls are to topple and run, unless, perchance, some mighty percussion of nature shall occur in the form of a volcanic eruption. I have never heard that Albany is a favorite resort for earthquakes.
This building it being erected to stand for all time, and here it will be finished. We may delay or speed the work—when finished it will ever thereafter be a monument to the intelligence, the wealth and greatness of the Empire State.
The spectral form of the historian of the future need no longer haunt the imagination of the honorable senator from the XIIIth. That shadowy personage will have no employment save to eulogize and praise the work too many now rashly condemn.
It is but natural perhaps that in our individual tastes we should differ. My own were not consulted when the change was made from admitting the light of day into this chamber from above, as was the original plan, as I have stated, to the side. The presiding officer's desk is not where I would have placed it. The gallery seats, to me like the pews of an old country church, I would have made in different style. The masonry on either side of the main entrance is too massive to be pleasing in effect. If intended for fire places the opening is far too spacious for a kennel or anthracite coal fire. And this more strikingly appears when you look into the opening expecting to find a generous chimney wherein, when the summer days shall come, the swallows will build their nests, as the external appearance would indicate, and behold it dwarfed into a flue not more than eight inches in diameter. But I am not to indulge in unfriendly criticism because others, with better capabilities, differ with me.
It is objected that foreign woods have been used when only those woods our own country produces should have been employed. Is not this quite narrow? Are we not a cosmopolitan people? We have no common ancestry. As a people we are made up of the representatives of many nations, races and climes. What if some block of stone or wood, not native to our soil, should attract the eye of some adopted citizen whose birthplace was under a foreign government, and where such material was obtained, fond memories might be awakened of the former home and of the fatherland; and in such a case a blessing would be surely invoked upon that liberal policy of government, which invites the worthy oppressed everywhere who are longing to breathe the air of freedom, to find protection and rest beneath the starry flag.
The cry of extravagance is heard. The answer comes quickly that valuable material and skilled labor are always expensive. They are not ethereal or vapory; they are real and substantial.
Decorative art demands trained intellectual as well as mechanical skill. It is necessarily costly. Go over the portions nearest completion. Scrutinize the carving that has been wrought in stone and wood; the polished column; the grand staircase; the polished variegated marble wainscoting, the massive granite blocks and the hundred varieties of carved decorations cut in the granite stone, and it is not difficult to ascertain where vast sums of money have been expended. Art hews the rough stone from the mountainside and imprints thereon the delicate leaf, the budding flower, the clinging vine, only lavish wealth can buy. It is my conviction that this capitol will long be memorable because of the high art exhibited in its decoration—art that is imperial in a degree. Its value is not in paltry dollars. It is in the intellectual force expended, in the countless millions of chiselings, in the beautiful forms that charm the senses. These are the products of brain force and of physical toil, and because of these it will be cherished and prized in the domain of architecture. I may not venture to tread, but my conviction is that in the years of the future this capitol will be visited by the student in architecture to be by him studied as the student artist studies the works of the old masters. Let it be remembered that in indulging our propensity to criticise, that scarcely any part of the great design has yet been fully completed. The rough, unfinished parts greatly mar the effect a perfect whole would produce. Like a masterpiece in statuary or painting, grandly beautiful in its completeness, but marred and defaced, its charm is gone. Or like the moon, full orbed, her face nearly obscured by some passing cloud, when presently she comes forth in shining radiance and splendor. When the hammer and chisel have completed them, when the last touch of the artist has been given, then for the first time will the effect of the perfect whole be realized.
If a large expenditure of resources makes any sense an evil, nevertheless good predominates, For of the eleven millions and a half of expenditure, it is probably true that between eighty and ninety per cent. has been paid for labor. The people from their [ ] surplus have contributed this vast sum for the [ ] of hundreds and thousands who are dependent upon the labor of [ ] It has carried abundance and plenty into hundreds of homes, and greatly promoted the welfare and happiness of thousands of our fellow beings.
Of the million and six hundred thousand dollars expended during the past year by the commissioners $745,811.71 were paid for labor directly to them. This does not include other large sums paid by contractors to their employees, also for labor. Large numbers were employed by the commissioners. In one month the number reached as high as 1,800.
My only hesitation hitherto in giving unqualified endorsement of the new capitol enterprise on the colossal scale it is being prosecuted has been from a doubt as to whether the elaborate ornamentation employed comports with the true simplicity that should characterize republican government. That doubt has yielded to the conclusion that as a community or state becomes populous and wealthy, aesthetic tastes are surely developed in the direction of music, painting, sculpture and decorative art. And the cultivation of these tastes should not weaken admiration and love for republican principles, but, on the contrary, should surely strengthen both, because the mind would be better disciplined and trained and, therefore, able better to appreciate the excellence of such principles. Because the family of inventor William H. Seward made the passage from Albany to Syracuse in the cabin of a line boat on the canal, or because Governor Silas Wright, on laying aside the executive authority, in mid-winter rides with his wife in an open sleigh from the city of Utica to their rural home in the county of St. Lawrence, is no reason that the present governor and his family should travel in a similar unpretentious manner and abjure the luxurious ease of the drawing-room car. Then there was neither railway or car.
Generally individuals measure the gratification of intellectual desires by the length of their purse; and a free state is but the aggregation of individuals. Their capitol building, in magnitude and richness, may properly be such as they have the pecuniary ability to provide; and who for a moment doubts the ability of the people, without hardship or sacrifice, to successfully prosecute the work of completing this capitol, though it were to cost many additional millions of dollars? Let me not be understood as advocating, in any degree, extravagant indulgences, whether on the part of the state or individuals. Frugality, economy and industry, are always essential to a prosperous condition. "Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy," is a maxim of wisdom, and is just as wise today as when uttered by the immortal bard. It is applicable alike to governments and people. Nor does it imply narrowness in governmental policy—it means only thrift. We have reached a condition of thrift as a people because we have observed the habits and practices necessary to that end. My plea for the new Capitol is based on the thought that in making a structure useful for the purposes of government, a dedication may also be made to art, and which also shall symbolize the great prosperity and wealth that lies behind, and which the people by their own efforts and a kind providence have attained. In this sense it illustrates a noble public spirit—that spirit which has already manifested itself in the maintenance of charities and educational systems. The public liberality may be largely drawn upon for worthy objects. While this is true, a healthful popular sentiment abhors and hates the gorging of parasites, rings, cliques and plunderers. It demands public servants without "itching palms," who so faithful to each trust assumed can say with the noble Brutus:
For I can raise no money by vile means.
By heaven! I had rather coin my heart ,
And drop my blood for drachmas, than to wring
From the hard hands of peasants their vile trash
By any indirection.
Senators! We may felicitate ourselves in the occupancy of the grandest and richest of legislative chambers. Behold these walls of marble; these polished columns with carved base and capstone—my especial pride, because the product of a quarry in my own county of Jefferson, situated on one of the lovely "Thousand Isles," in the crystal waters' of the peerless St. Lawrence; these beautiful arches of Sienna marble from sunny Italy; the balusters of the same material in the balconies on either side of the chamber: the onyx paneling upon the walls, richer far than ever decorated the Montezumian halls; the elaborately carved and upholstered settees; the elegant chandeliers and fixtures, together with rich carpeting and choice furniture. It is a legislative chamber, in short, which for magnificence of design and skill in construction, is no where excelled. And after all, this vast edifice with its profusion of ornamentation and appointments but to a limited extent represents the dignity and greatness of our noble state that is further and fuller illustrated in our schools, colleges, academies, churches, charities and in political freedom—the dignity and moral worth of our citizens. The eminent statesmen who once filled seats in the senate of the state, and whose achievements adorn its annals, had no such munificence of environment. Wisdom in statesmanship and high character drew the people to the scene of their deliberations. Shall the artistic attractions that surround us alone bring the people to this chamber, or shall they come to witness the enactment of beneficent and wise legislation? Let not our conduct suffer by comparison with the wealth that surrounds us. Wealth of mind, of knowledge and of integrity, are qualities in the bright glow of which all material things "pale their ineffectual fires."
April 30, 1881, The Sun, Page 3, Column 3, Mr. Skinner offered a resolution for the appointment of a special committee to act with the Capitol Commissioners, with a view to seeing whether something cannot be done to improve the Assembly Chamber before the meeting of the next Legislature. This room, which the architect boasts cost over $1,000,000, is owing to its miserable acoustic properties, and the inconvenience with which everything is arranged,utterly unfit for the use to which it is put. It Is impossible to hear what is going on. An effort has been made to Improve the acoustic properties by boarding up the two great caverns at each end of the chamber called galleries, but the relief, it any. Is hardly perceptible. The arrangement of the seats is also outlandish. The resolution goes over until next week.
May 5, 1881, The Sun, Page 3, Column 1, The present New Capitol Commissioners had nothing to do with making the existing contract for stone for that building.It is generally believed that in the past some people have made a good thing out of these stone contracts and it was also generally supposed that about all the stone that was needed had been furnished. But this morning Speaker Sharpe presented a communication and a bill from the Capitol Commissioners, setting forth that the price of stone was very much lower than when the present contract was made, and asking the Legislature to pass the bill which authorized them to make new contracts for furnishing stone. A change in the stone contract in the early stages of this building cost the State many thousands of dollars though certain members of the Legislature and Capitol Commissioners did well out of it.
May 14, 1881, The Sun, Page 3, Column 3, The Rush of Legislation.
Mr. Andrews moved to make the resolution requiring stone cutting for municipal corporations to be done in the cities where the buildings are to be erected a special order for Monday evening. It required a two-thirds vote, and was about to be defeated on the count when Mr. Andres demanded the yeas and nays. This caused a stampede of the statesmen, who were plainly afraid to go on the record against the stone cutters, and the motion was adopted.
June 2, 1881, The Sun, Page 3, Column 3, Mr Chickering, from the Committee on Ways and Means reported the annual tax bill, and it was immediately passed. The percentage of taxation is said by Comptroller Wadsworth to be the smallest since 1856. The tax levied by the bill is one and ninety-five one hundredths of a mill. While the rate is unquestionably low, it will be well to remember that the $1,000,000 appropriated for the New Capitol this winter has been taken from the surplus funds in the Treasury and does not go into the tax levy as in former years.
June 26, 1881, The Sun, Page 1, Column 1, More Vetoes in Albany.
The bill appropriating $500,000 more for the new Capitol was announced from the Assembly with Mr. Newman's amendment providing that none of the money should be paid for architects and unnecessary employes, but should go to pay the workmen actually employed. A concurrence in the amendment would have finally disposed of the bill, but Mr. Braman of Albany, who when the bill was up in the Senate declared that the money was wanted to pay skilled workmen and laborers, moved to non-concur in the amendment, and asked for a committee of conference. This move of Braman's makes it certain that a large part of this money will go, like other appropriations, to pay the salaries of architects, superintendents, and other ornamental officials. Senator Braman lives in Albany and knows what the real scheme A call of the roll was then demanded. It was found that onhy seventeen Senators were present, not a constitutional number to pass a bill, and the time until the hour of the meetitig of the joint convention was frittered away in cracking jokes, &c.
June 29, 1881, The Sun, Page 3, Column 3, The Conference Committee on the bill appropriating $500,000 more for the new Capitol made a report. They recommended that the Assembly recede from the Newman amendment, which provided that this money should only be used to pay the workmen employed on the Capitol. After some debate the report was agreed to. The bill now goes before the Governor.
January 13, 1882, The World, CORNELL'S MESSAGE, THE NEW CAPITOL,
Very satisfactory progress has been made the past year towards the completion of the New Capitol. The Senate Chamber, although not entirely finished, was occupied a portion of the time during the 1881 session of the Senate, but has since been substantially completed, and is, indeed, magnificent in architectural and artistic design. The rooms for the Executive Department were put in readiness and formally occupied several months ago, and they prove in every way well appointed. The Insurance Department and the State Board of Health are also now located in the new building, while the rooms designed for the Military Department and the Superintendent of Public instruction are nearly done and will soon be occupied. The offices for the Secretary of State are now being placed in order and are expected to be ready tor use during the winter.
The Judges of the Court of Appeals express dissatisfaction with the apartment is determined for their use, and seem unwilling to occupy them at present. They desire to have rooms set apart for them in another quarter of the building, and have indicated a preference for a portion of the space originally intended for the State Library. It is believed that a change in the location of the library to the west end of the edifice would be quite satisfactory to the authorities having charge of the library, which would afford opportunity for the change desired by the Court of Appeals. This, however, involves such a radical alteration in the Cos of the building heretofore adopted that legislative sanction would seem first to be necessary. Could the change suggested be effected without unreasonable expense, it would be, perhaps, quite desirable.
The expenditures on account of the erection and furnishing of the New Capitol during the past year have been as follows:
Balance of previous appropriations on hand as reported.
in the last annual message..$481,180.80
Chapter 24. Law. of 1881..250,000.00
Expended during the year $1,1875,962 57, Balance on hand December 16, 1881 $333,818.00
This amount will be required to complete payments on contracts not yet wholly completed, and on outstanding and unadjusted liabilities, and also to continue work now in progress. The Commissioners in charge will, in due time, report to the Legislature a more detailed account of their proceedings and indicate the amount of appropriation desirable for their purposes during the coming year.
Authority was given by the last Legislature for the demolition of the old Capitol, at the discretion of the Commissioners, which can, probably, be advantageously effected early the coming spring. Provision should be made for the improvement of the Capitol grounds, with suitable embellishments, as soon as the old building and State Library are removed, in order to avoid the unsightly appearance that would otherwise be presented. Prompt action is very desirable, so that the trees and shrubbery that may be planted can take early growth.
February 6, 1882, The Sun, Page 2, Column 4, The New Capitol
In one of his messages to the Legislature Gov. Robinson called the new Capitol building "a great Public calamity." It certainly is a warning to the State to look carefully where it is going before it enters upon the construction of what are sure to be expensive works. The first appropriation for the new Capitol was made in 1867, the sum being $250,000. Before the Commissioners could expend a penny of the money the law required them to adopt plans and make contracts, subject to the approval of the Governor whereby the whole building was not to cost more than four millions of dollars when completed.
The original law under which the work was commenced was long ago set at naught. The last report of the Commissioners shows that down to the close of the past year there had been expended upon the new Capitol the sum of $12,796,626.30. So it has already cost a good deal more than three times as much as was contemplated at the outset and other millions will be required to complete it.
It seems almost ludicrous to place by the side of this lavish expenditure the sum which it cost to erect the old Capitol. For threescore years and ten it furnished accommodations for the Legislature, the highest courts in the State, many of the executive officers, and all the Governors from DANIEL D. TOMPKINS to LUCIUS ROBINSON. And the amount spent in its construction was $110,688,42!
It is such jobs as this of the new Capitol that deter the people from entering upon the enlargement of the Erie canal, which is so necessary for securing to New York a due share of the seaboard trade of the West.
April 3, 1882, The Sun, Page 1, Column 3, New Capitol Extravagance. ODDS AND ENDS IN ALBANY. A CHAPTER OF SMALL TALK ABOUT THINGS AT THE CAPITAL.
Many of the great stone blocks in the ceiling of the Assembly chamber have apparently started from their places, but the architects assure timid members that they will not fall. It is said that the trusses and other supports that have been put in to prevent a crash startle the few who are permitted to see them. Another startling story is that the great boilers beneath the Assembly chamber are tended by men who, with one exception, are not practical engineers. The Ways and Means Sub-committee might look into this to advantage. There are a good many members who are willing to take the chance of the ceiling's tumbling who do not care to run the risk of being blown up, too. It is estimated that of the twenty millions that the new Capitol will cost fully one-third will be stolen or squandered. It is a neck and neck race now to the finish between extravagance and incompetency.
It is said that the new furniture and fittings in the Governor's rooms alone have cost $150,000. In the Military Department six clerks have seven gorgeous rooms. All over the building the arrangements are on a like scale.
Is It true that an ex-Speaker of Assembly has one hundred laborers on the Capitol pay roll? A stone's throw from this monument of folly a handsome dark-stone building is being pushed rapidly to completion by an industrious set of workmen, who are never idle from morning till night. It is the new City Hall. It is being built by contractors for a fixed amount, and it is in such striking contrast with the imbecile political management over the way that it ought to be a lessen to the legislators who daily pass by.
April 17, 1882, The Sun, Page 1, Column 7, The Ways and Means sub-committee
isn't doing much in the new Capitol investigation. If it finds out how much it will cost to finish the building it will have to ask somebody besides the present Capitol Commissioners. The aim of the committee is to find out how much will finish the monument of folly in decent style, and to recommend that it be completed within the estimate.
May 11, 1882, New York Herald, Page 3, Column 6, IS THE NEW CAPITOL UNSAFE?
The sub-committee having in charge the new Capitol investigation will doubtless have the assistance of the Capitol Commissioners in recommending that a commission of two architects and an officer of the engineer corps be appointed to make a thorough survey of the Assembly Chamber. Mr. Benedict, chairman of the sub-committee, made a tour of the loft over the Assembly ceiling in company with Superintendent Eaton and Mr. Eidlitz, and found undoubted evidence that some movement of the arches has taken place, crushing parts of some of the rib stones and more or less moving several of the stones from their place. Mr. Eidlitz and Mr. Eaton say, without hesitation, that there is absolutely no danger, but Mr. Eaton, at least, thinks that the report of an unprejudiced commission is necessary to allay the alarm which has been excited. The sub-committee, as indicated in these despatches yesterday, will report to that effect as soon as its inquiry is finished.
May 30, 1882, The Sun, Page 1, Column 1, DRAWING TOWARD THE END.
The Senate refused to agree to the Assembly's amendments to the New Capitol bill and Messrs Jacobs, Lord, and A. Lansing were named as a conference committee. Mr. Brooks reported to the Assembly this afternoon the bill making an appropriation to continue work upon the new Capital. The bill is amended by striking out all the Senate amendments and restoring all the provisions of the Assembly bill with the addition of a provision that of the $1,000,000 appropriated, $100,000 may be expended on interior work and finishing. The amendment was agreed to--yeas 87, nays, 8.
June 1, 1882, The Sun, Page 1, Column 3,
In the Assembly Mr. Brooks presented the report of the Conference Committee on the New Capitol Apptopriation bill, and it was agreed to.
As passed, the bill appropriates $1,000,000, and contains restrictions as to what portion of the building the money shall be expended upon.
June 2, 1882, Monticello Republican Watchman, A Republican Job,
Harper's Weekly (Rep.) says of the costly New York State Capitol: "A dozen years ago, when it was suggested that the new capitol at Albany might cost $4,000,000, there was a gasp of consternation and incredulity, It has already cost, however, more than $13,000,000. It will cost probably nearly $20,000,000 before it is finished. It is dark and inconvenient and apparently insecure, and a committee of the Assembly is trying to ascertain, with the aid of experts, whether the stone ceiling of the chamber is not likely to fall at any minute. This seems like a joke, but it is really a disgrace to the State and an impeachment of our system of government. It was the fashion to laugh at Governor Robinson for his constant protest against the extravagance with which the work was designed and carried on. But the Governor was wiser and more patriotic than the scoffers."
October 7, 1882, The Sun, Page 1, THE NEW CAPITOL UNSAFE, EXPERTS CONDEM THE CEILING OF THE ASSEMBLY CHAMBER.
They Recommend that All of the Stone Vaulting Be Removed and Wood be Substituted- Other Defects In the Costly Building.
ALBANY, Oct. 6.—The report of the special Commission of experts appointed to examine the ceiling in the Assembly Chamber of the new Capitol, consisting of Prof. W. P. Trowbridge, Charles Babcock, and George B. Post was presented to the Governor to-day. They find that, owing to the unsual settlement of the building, the inequality in the stone used in its construction, the enormous and originally uncalculated weight on the foundations, and the possibility that new settlement of the foundations may occur from the change in the amount of water in the underlying soils the ceiling cannot be considered safe for the future. They accordingly unanimously recommend that the vaulted stone ceiling of the chamber be removed at once, and wood substituted. The Commission find that the material and workmanship of the rest of the building are in general exceptionally good, and they discover no defects worthy of special consideration, other than those appearing in the Assembly Chamber and in the portions of the building immediately above and below it. New levels were taken which showed that, although there has been no unusual settling of the foundation walls, the settlement has not been uniform. The piers resting upon the footing courses have settled more than the adjacent walls, and there is a difference in the settlement between the piers themselves. They find that one of the main diagonal or groin ribs is seriously cracked, as also those parts of the vaulting surface that rest directly upon it; that the end walls over the main transverse arches are somewhat out of plumb, and that the main side vaults are in bad condition. One of the large granite shafts, is slightly out of plumb. They found that the foundations under the four main columns of the Assembly Chamber are loaded to the extreme limit of safety. The Commission say that it they could be sure that the unevensettlement of the foundations had permanently ceased, that they were capable of safely bearing an increased load, and that the arch springers would always be held with absolute rigidity, they would recommend that all the ceilings be recentered, that broken or defective stones be replaced, and the main side vaults brought into stability by rebuilding or readjustment of loads. In their judgment, however the continued stability of the vaulted ceiling is a matter of doubt. It might remain without serious failure, but as they cannot count upon its doing so for any definite period, even it all possible repairs are made, they are compelled with great reluctance to recommend that the arcnitect be instructed to remove all the stone vaulting (excepting, perhaps, the four small corner vaults), and to supply the place of the groined ceiling with a construction of wood. This, they say, would remove a very considerable weight from the most heavily loaded parts of the foundation, and would also do away with a large part of the existing unbalanced outward thrust above the columns, so that alterations in the tension of the iron rods above the arches would not be an element of danger.
There is no doubt that the recommendations of the Commission will be followed, but the question arises "Where shall the coming legislative session be held? There is no suitable room either in the new or old Capitol for so large a body ofrepresentatives. The cost of the alterations recommended is roughly estimated by one of the ex-Capitol Commissioners at $200.000. There is no money appropriated with which to pay the expense, and there is some talk of the Governor calling an extra session of the Legislature to provide a way out of the difficulty. The Executive, however, has not yet signified his intentions in the matter.
October 18, 1882, The Sun, Page 2, Column 5, THE FALLING CAPITOL. [posted at blogger]
What a Taxpayer Saw in a Recent Visit to Albany.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE SUN—Sir: By to-day's papers I see that Gov. Cornell has called upon the New Capitol Commissioners, the Speaker of the Assembly, and the Finance Committees of the two Houses of the Legislature to meet him in Albany to-morrow to consult as to the propriety of calling an extra session of the Legislature on "the condition of the Capitol." It is high time not only to consult, but to take some positive action in regard to this building, so aptly described by Gov. Lucius Robinson, in a message vetoing an appropriation to continue its construction, as "a great public calamity." I was present when this monstrosity was first occupied by the Legislature for business. Then the painting, the gliding, and the carving were all fresh, the brass chandeliers, weighing in some instances hundreds of pounds, were bright, the two pictures by Hunt on the walls of the Assembly Chamber were new and attractive. Everything was in the finest trim when the gas was lighted on that opening night. The Assembly Chamber was crowded with the elite of Albany, and distinguished men and women from nearly every county in the State were present to give eclat to the occasion. Lieut.-Gov. Dorsheimer, Thomas G. Alvord, who had voted for the original appropriation for a new Capitol when the limit of cost was fixed at $4,000,000 and also for nearly all the subsequent appropriations, swelling the cost to over $12,000,000 before a single room was fit for occupancy, the Hon. Erastus Brooks, and others vied with each other in lauding the building and the architect.
In THE SUN soon afterward there appeared, in its regular Albany despatches, criticisms upon the acoustics of the Assembly Chamber and the wasteful extravagance in the matter of ornamentation. This was received with howls of indignation by the friends of the architect and the local press. But before the Assembly had been in session a month the criticisms upon the acoustics of the chamber were justified by numerous resolutions offered by members for the appointment of committees to improve them it possible. The circles of seats for the members were moved forward, nearer the Speaker's desk, and fine wires were stretched midway in the air over the heads of members. At the close of the session a committee was appointed to sit during the recess and devise, if possible, some further method of improvement. That committee closed up the two immense vaults at each end of the chamber, known as the ladies' and gentlemen's galleries. It was all they could do. They shut of from public view perhaps $50.000 or $100,000 worth of carved sandstone and gaudy painting. But the acoustics of the chamber were improved a little, and the rough boards still stand in strong contrast to the gaudy painting and carved stone of the rest of the chamber.
Last week I again visited the Capitol. The contrast with its appearance on that first night was painful. Though it was high noon and a bright sun was shining, the corridors were dark, gloomy, and dirty. A lighted gas jet here and there only partly revealed the too evident lack of proper care, and, what is still worse, the criminal faults in the construction of the building. On the floor, on the window sills, on the glass, everywhere, in fact, the dust of months seemed to have settled. Occasionally I met a group of young men who wore blue caps and coats with gilt trimmings, supposed to be there to take care of the building. All that I saw them do was to run the elevator, chaperone visitors about the building, smoke cigars, and entertain each other telling stories. No sign of a brush or a broom was to be seen. I presume it would have been beneath their dignity to handle such articles.
On the first floor in the grand corridor I noticed that one of the granite base stones, over a foot square, was cracked entirely through. The crack could be traced ten or twelve feet up the ceiling. The sandstone steps of the grand staircase were worn and the edges were rounded. Through the dust on some of the chandeliers spots of verdigris were plainly visible. The ceiling in many places was stained, as though the rain had leaked through the roof. The sandstone in the corridors was damp and slimy. and the air was as chilly as the air of a vault. The Assembly Chamber was closed to all visitors, but through the courtesy of one of the blue-capped attendants. I was permitted a peep through one of the doors. Scaffolding hid the ceiling from view, and on it were workmen getting ready, as I was informed, to take down the stone ceiling before it should fall. These stones, it may not be generally known, had been finely carved, some of them polished, and then painted after the vault was put up. The paint was peeling from the polished stone in many places. I caught a glimpse of the painting of "Discovery." by Hunt, on one of the walls. It looked as though the dampness from the sandstone had struck through and nearly destroyed it. but the appearance may have been due to the accumulated dust. This picture and its companion. "Progress." cost the taxpayers $15,000, as I am informed. Albanians tell you proudly that the total cost of the Assembly Chamber is over $1,000,000, and invariably wind up with the assertion that it is the "most magnificent meeting room in the world." The closed doors prevented my making a close inspection of the room, but from my peep hole it looked as though the same general lack of attention and care visible in other parts of the building was to be seen there. In the Senate Chamber some little effort has been made to protect the leather upholstery by hanging cotton cloth in front of it to keep out the dust. But elsewhere about the room dust and neglect had full sway. The gaudy tinselling on the walls above the blocks of Mexican onyx had begun to peel off in places; two of the agate window panes in the rear of the Lieutenant-Governor's desk had disappeared, and the whole chamber had a sort of a run-down-at-the-heel appearance. Climbing to the story above the Assembly Chamber, the dust on the floor seemed never to have been disturbed since the roof was put on. Mingled with it were cigar stubs, old quids of tobacco, and other filth.
I retraced my steps down stairs and to the street, figuring upon the probable cost of the building when finished—if it stands long enough to be finished—which it is believed will not be less than $20,000,000, and wondering at the patience of the taxpayers who had submitted to this great swindle. Gov. Robinson was right. It is, indeed, a "great public calamity." The only portion of the building that showed any care was that in the immediate vicinity of Gov. Cornell's chambers and the rooms occupied by other State officials. I spoke to a well-known citizen of Albany of what I had seen. His indignation excelled my own.
"It is," said he, "a disgrace. The men who are placed in charge of that building are political bummers, put there through the influence of State officials, Senators, Assemblymen, and political bosses. They never did, and they never will, do any legitimate work. But even if they were the best men in the world, they could do nothing to counteract the mistakes that have been made in its construction. Gilding and painting carved and polished marble is not the worst thing about it Perhaps some day the whole thing will tumble down, and then the dear people will find out how they have been swindled.
To-morrow, when Gov. Cornell gets the Commissioners, Lieut.-Gov. Hoskins, Speaker Patterson, and the financial Solons of the Legislature together, would it not be well if he and they should make a minute inspection of the "public calamity," and, if as bad as pictured, why not recommend that it be abandoned, the stone that is good taken down, and another building erected suitable for its intended purpose? This can be done at a less cost than to go on and finish the building, if the plans and systems that have thus far prevailed in the construction are to be continued. I am told that the cost of heating, lighting, and caring for the building, as now planned, will not be far short of $50,000 a year.
I am neither an architect nor a builder. What I noted in my visit was entirely superficial. I believe that if competent architects and builders who were friends of the people, and not cronies of the supervising architect and the Commissioners, were to visit and critically inspect this building, they would find it much worse than I have pictured it.
Away with the "Public Calamity."
NEW YORK. Oct. 17. H. B. W.
November 3, 1882, The Sun, Page 2, Column 4, The new State Capitol architects
have asked permission to make changes and repairs in the shaky Assembly ceiling they agreeing to have the room ready for use by Jan, 1, and to advance the necessary furds for the work. The newly elected Assemblymen would also Iike to know, perhaps, whether the architects will guarantee that the ceiling will not tumble down after the repairs are made. Is the word "repairs" intended to cover a new ceiling?
January 18, 1883, The Sun, WORK OF THE LEGISLATURE. Comparison between Boss Tweed's Court House and the New Capitol.
THE SENATE CONFIRMS SHANAHAN AND VOTES CASH FOR THE CAPITOL.
Mr. Browning offered a resolution, which was adopted directing the Finance Committee to investigate and ascertain whether the Capitol Commissioners violated the provisions of the act of last year making appropriation for work on the new Capitol and directing how the money should be expended.
The Assembly passed the bill appropriating $250,000 for the new Capitol, which was passed by the Senate, yesterday. Mr. Brooks, who had charge of the bill, was questioned by Mr. De Witt as to the probable cost of completing the building, but Mr. Brooks confessed that after years of effort to ascertain that fact, he had about despaired of finding out. The Ways and Means Committee is to have a statement from the Capitol Commissioners before the annual appropriation bill is made up.
Gen. Spinola said he voted for the present appropriation to continue the work, but he thought there should be an early change in the controlling power in the disbursement of these appropriations. This stirred up Van Allen, between whom and Spinola there is some feeling on account of a rivalry in shirt collars, to remark that Gen. Spinola's party had charge of the building of New York's Court House, which was not considered a very economical job. Ex-Justice Tim Campbell here observed that Mr. Van Allen's party had a hand in that job, which led Mr. Van Allen to say that the ex-Justice had a unique mind. The ex-Justice was careful not to deny the allegation.
January 25, 1883, The Sun, COST OF THE NEW CAPITOL.
THE COMMISSION THINKS IT WILL TAKE A MILLION AND A HALF MORE.
To assist Gov. Cleveland in his expressed purpose of completing the new Capitol during his administration. Mr. Cory of Cattaraugus introduced a bill abolishing the Capitol Commission and providing for a single Commissioner to be appointed by the Governor. The salary of the Commissioner is to be $7,500 a year. Mr. Cary is the Governor's intimate friend, and it is understood that Mr. Cleveland approves of the bill. The old Albany Ring of contractors and their friends are violently opposed to a step that may lead to the too speedy completion of the building, and, seeing that some change is inevitable, are trying to work up a scheme for a new Commission to be composed of five State officers. Experience has shown that in Commissions of this kind one man controls, and back of that man is the Ring.
The Capitol Commissioners, in reply to a demand of the Assembly, sent in to-day a hastily prepared estimate of the cost of completing the building. By the bill passed last year the architects were obliged to send to the Capitol Commissioners by Oct. 15, 1882 their plans for the completed structure, and the Commissioners were obliged to have their estimates of the cost of the building ready for the Iegislature by Jan. 15, 1883. The architects paid no attention to this law, and not until they were prodded up by the Commissioners did they send in plans. On the 16th Inst. they filed plans, but the Commissioners were not satisfied with them. At the last minute they complied with the Assembly's request in form by sending in some old estimates made by Superintendent Eaton in 1881. Mr. Eaton's estimates of the cost of finishing the building according to these pIans foot up about $1,500,000, but nobody believes the structure can be completed for twice that sum.
January 27, 1883, Syracuse Daily Courier, "Old Calamity" Again.
The new Capitol commissioners are to be commended for their frankness in speaking about the new Capitol. At the beginning of the session of the legislature, the Ways and Means committee of the Assembly determined to ascertain if possible, the probable cost of completing the Capitol upon the amplified plans, and the Hon. Erastus Brooks, chairman, declared that he would prepare and vote for a bill appropriating If necessary three million dollars, to complete the building. The commissioners and architects of the Capitol were requested to furnish the Ways and Means committee a detailed statement of the probable cost, together with such other information as would furnish the committee a basis on which to precede. On Thursday there was read in the Assembly a communication from the Capitol Commission in which the impossibility of complying with the request of the committee was argued and shown. The communication says that the alteration and amplification of the original plans have left the commissioners without estimates that would be of any use to the committee. It also declared that it would require four weeks of steady work on the part of the Superintendent to make figures which would be of any value. These facts we find in the Albany Evening "Journal," a paper which is not prone to cry out against the unbusiness like manner in which this costly fraud, the new Capitol, has been constructed.
According to the "Journal" the Ways and Means Committee are very much put out in regard to the report of the Capitol Commissioners, and one of the members declared that "the inability of the Commissioners to furnish the figures is a confession of malfeasance in office for which they are liable to be removed from office. The Commissioners have been very derelict in not having the architect's plans and specifications in their possession on the date required by law, instead of months after. This delay has prevented the compilation of the necessary details. Something summary is a possibility of the future."
The "Journal" intimates that the control of the building may be taken out of the hands of the Commissioners and the vast responsibility centered somewhere else. Mr. Benedict, of the Ways and Means Committee, has introduced a bill providing that all the State buildings in Albany be turned over to a Board of Trustees, the manner of control in force before the commencement of the new capital.
Another bill introduced in the Senate and Assembly provides for the abolishment of the present Commission. It invests the Governor by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint an officer to be known as the Commissioner of the new Capitol, who shall hold office until the end of the term of the Governor, and until his successor is appointed and qualified, unless said Capitol building is sooner completed, and, on such completion, said office shall cease. The Commissioner shall receive as his salary $7,500 per annum. The commissioner thus appointed, after filing a bond in $50,000, shall have charge of the work of finishing the new Capitol, removing the old Capitol and State Library building, and completing the arrangements of the approaches and Capitol grounds, and for such purpose may employ labor, purchase the necessary material and make contracts in connection therewith. The Commissioner shall keep account of all expenses and obligations incurred during each month, which shall be made up and rendered to the Comptroller monthly, to be audited and allowed by him. The Governor shall have power to employ a suitable person, when the interests of the public may so require, who shall be skilled in the construction of buildings and architectural plans, to inspect the work of the new Capitol, and report to the Governor such facts as the Governor may from time to time require.
One thing may be regarded as certain, the people are in no mood to longer tolerate the reckless extravagance which has thus far characterized the expenditure of public moneys upon the new Capitol. What is more, it is time that this building in the dark should cease. If the Capitol is to be finished, the entire cost should be ascertained and the work performed as speedily as possible. If the building is to be abandoned because of its unsafe character, the sooner this is done the better.
February 27, 1883, The Daily Graphic, The Senate is having an extended discussion of the bill abolishing the New Capitol Commissioners and creating a single commissioner to perform their duties. DIXON.
April 6, 1883, Utica Morning Herald,The New Capitol Commissioner.
—The Senate yesterday confirmed the nomination of ISAAC G. PERRY, of Binghamton, to be the new capitol commissioner, the republicans refraining from voting, and the democrats all in the affirmative. All these noisy threats of war were therefor nothing but noise. Mr. PERRY will enter upon his new duties at once.
The way was properly prepared for him on Wednesday, when all work upon the building was suspended, and all the employes, some 1,300 in number, ere discharged. The discharge extended from the humblest stone cutter up to Superintendent EATON and his personal clerks. The explanation given for this sudden suspension of work is that both the appropriation and the material on hand are exhausted. The law forbids any incurring of liability beyond the existing appropriation, and Superintendent EATON is reported by the Albany Press and Knickerbocker as saying that of the $250,000 voted by the legislature in January, there was not enough left to go thro the present week. It is a striking coincidence that the appropriation should have been eaten up just as the change in the management was about to be effected. It may be uncharitable to suggest that such a contingency was purposely arranged by the legislature.
The situation has its advantages from a political point of view. It enables the new commissioner to select his
own workmen and assistants; he is not embarrassed by inheriting any from his predecessors; and thus the civil service principle which would require him to retain such among the workmen as had proved efficient and trustworthy, is very neatly circumvented. Apparently the workmen see the point; for the greater number of them, we learn from the same authority, who come from out of town, are preparing to return to their homes or to seek work elsewhere. They have an instinctive conviction that it will be of no use for them to remain in Albany any longer, unless they can command the right kind of "pressure." Very likely Commissioner PERRY is not a party to the scheme—if this is the scheme. He may amaze the authors of it by refusing to become a party to it. He may conduct the work on the new capitol upon purely business principles, and never ask the politics of a man to whom he gives employment. We have no doubt this is what he was expected to do by Governor CLEVELAND when he astonished Mr. PERRY by asking him to come on to Albany. If that is what he actually does do, we will see that our readers obtain the earliest information.
June 3, 1883, The Sun, Page 4, Column 1, The Governor's Review of the Supply Bill.
Last summer it was discovered that the ceiling of the Assembly Chamber at Albany was in need of repairs, and the architects of the new Capitol expended more than $3,000 in repairing it. There was no money applicable to this purpose at the time, and the new Capitol Commissioners, according to the Governor, gave their consent "that the architects might make what repairs to the Assembly Chamber ceiling they deemed proper at their own expense, and that the State should not be made liable for the expenditure." It is not to be supposed, however, that the architects meant to give their money and labor to the State for nothing. The intent of the parties evidently was that the permission to make repairs should not be construed into a contract on the part of the Capitol Commissioners to pay any particular amount, but that the architects were willing to rely for compensation upon the justice and fair dealing of the Legislature when it should be convened. The work appears to have been in all respects satisfactory, and it ought to be paid for, but the Governor wants to treat it as a gift.
"In other words," says our esteemed contemporary, the New York Times, "Gov. CLEVELAND is willing to swindle the architects out of money which the State owes them for work done for the State, in order to gain reputation as a reformer." This is putting the case rather strongly, perhaps; but it must be admitted that a Governor with a keen moral sense would hardly be willing to have the Stale avail itself of the benefit of the work of these architects without paying for their services.
July 7, 1883, The World, THE OLD CAPITOL DOOMED. BUILT BY THE AID OF LOTTERIES. WHERE SLAVES CELEBRATED.
July 18, 1883, The Plaindealer,
The Capitol Commissioners have advertised in the Albany papers, offering for sale the material in the old Capitol. The Commissioners reserve the comer stone and the statue of Justice which surmounts the dome. Sealed proposals will be received till the first of October, and soon thereafter the historic old structure will cease to be.
December 24, 1883, The World, Cleaning Up the Capitol,
There appears to be some prospect of the monster new Capitol building being completed during the present generation. It is now roofed, and another season will see the inside finished, that is, if there is the same energy in pushing the work as has been shown during the last year, leaving the approaches and front stoop and tower the only parts unfinished. The changes made in the management of the work by the Democratic Administration last winter have proved a great benefit, both in the advancement of the work and in its economy. It will however, cost $3,000,000 or $4,000,000 more to complete the structure, and prepare the park in front. It has already cost $15,200,000.
May 1, 1885, The Daily Graphic, The Republicans and the New Capitol Commission
The Senate Committee on Finance this morning reported a bill making an appropriation of $500,000 for work on the new Capitol. They add a section placing the President of the Senate on the Commission, which gives the Republicans a majority of that Commission. They legislate out all who are employed on the work except Superintendent Perry, and give the Commission the power to say how large a force can be employed on different portions of the building. This is to give the Republicans full charge of the work and the selection of the men employed, leaving Superintendent Perry a sort of overseer of the men.
May 6, 1885, The Daily Graphic, A Quarrel in the Senate. Some Republican Members Refuse to Submit to the Party Lash.
THE TROUBLE OCCURS OVER THE ATTEMPT TO CONTROL THE NEW CAPITOL COMMISSION.
ALBANY, May 6.—The Senate had another tilt this morning over politics in which the Republicans fell to accusing each other about their obstructing the purpose of the party. It was the bill making an appropriation for the new Capitol and changing the Commission into a Republican Board that opened the ball. Two or three of the Republican Senators who are opposed to attaching to the appropriation a rider making a new Commission opposed making the bill a special order, when Senators Ellsworth and McCarthy proceeded to lecture them and assail their standing in the party, also to appeal to the Democratic minority to allow the Republican majority the opportunity of having the bill considered. There were several lectures delivered on that point when Senator Titus called attention to the fact that the majority, by their own confession, were in the curious position of appealing to the minority to help the majority out and make the prosecution of the Capitol work a party machine. He referred to the fact that a few years ago, when the entire work was under the control of a Republican Commission, Garfield and Haskins clubs were organized in the Capitol, the foremen over the workmen made captains of the companies and the men compelled to walk up to the polls with the Republican ballot. Now he supposed this appeal to the minority was to allow the Republicans to run it the same way this year. Senators McCarthy, Ellsworth and Lansing undertook to crack the party whip on the Republicans who declined to vote with their associates.
Senator Daggett defended the action and declared that he did not propose to have his party fidelity questioned upon any such flimsy pretext, especially by men who had been trying to get a Republican Senate to vote for the confirmation of Democrats. If this thing continued he might tell some secrets of matters that have been transpiring here and that would not be very pleasant reading for some of his Republican colleagues. Senator Comstock announced that he was opposed to the rider that had been placed on this bill. He denied the right of two or three Republican Senators without any consultation with their colleagues to decide what should be the party measures. While he had always been a Republican he would not consent to three or four men bringing up a bill and proclaiming that all who do not support it have left the party. He did not propose as a Republican to submit to that mode of deciding what was a party measure. He was opposed to the rider on this bill and could not be drawn into its support.
The Senators all around took a hand in the debate and entertained their colleagues over their views of the virtue, honesty and peculiarities of each party, and kept up the political discussion two hours, finally ending in refusing to set down a special time for its consideration.
The Senate after dropping the political quarrel took up the new Gas bill, which limits the price of gas on Manhattan Island to $1.50 and provides for the appointment of one commissioner by the Mayor to enforce its provisions and supervise the gas companies. It gives the commissioner the power to appoint experts and inspectors and to hear and examine all complaints against the gas companies, and also require the gas companies to make oath as to the correctness of all bills presented. The points in the other gas bill, which was killed in the House, giving the Commission the power to decide the amount of stock on which dividends shall be paid, have been left out of the bill. Also the section prohibiting competing companies from laying down new mains. About all that it accomplishes is publicity of the transactions of the companies by the reports of the Commissioner and establishing a tribunal to hear complaints of consumers. The bill was finally ordered to third reading.
The Assembly has been engaged, all the morning on the dry work of third reading of local bills. Among those passed was an act to authorize a Deputy Inspector of Buildings of the Department of New York.
February 25, 1886, The World,Politics and the Capitol, TRANSPARENT REPUBLICAN TRICKERY DEVELOPED AT ALBANY YESTERDAY.
February 25, 1886, Rochester Democrat Chronicle, Page 1, The New Capitol Appropriation.
The assembly spent three and one-half hours on the new capitol appropriation bill and then only progressed it. The leading speech was made by Mr. Baker, of Steuben. In substance he said: The gentleman from Saratoga, Mr. Batcheller, has pointed out the defects in this building. These defects are made under the direction of Superintendent Perry. The curtains on one window in this building cost $275; and, if you ask me why we should change the superintendency of the capitol, I say simply because there has been a useless and extravagant expenditure of money on the building. If I knew that the honest laborers of the county came here and were employed upon this building would not hesitate to vote for a liberal appropriation. They work only seven hours per day. I believe a great portion of the appropriation is to further Democratic political schemes. The management of the completion of this building should be changed. Economy demands it. Look at the state library, one of the most complete libraries in the world cooped up in that dark and unseemly room below. This bill reported favorably by the appropriation committee directs specifically what shall be done with the money appropriated, so when the next legislature assembles they can see where the money has gone.
It is about time that we call a halt to this pouring of water down a rat hole. The blame of everything that has gone wrong on this work has been saddled on McIntyre (assistant superintendent of the capitol) while the saintly, sanctimonious Perry goes about with his eyes shut. McIntyre runs the political phalanx and Perry knows nothing about it.
January 28, 1887, New York Times, BENEATH THE STATE CAPITOL, THE GREAT ENGINE ROOM AND ELECTRIC LIGHT PLANT,
ALBANY, Jan. 27.--Superintendent Charles B. Andrews threw open to the inspection of the public to-night the engine room, the electric light plant, and the new heating and ventilating apparatus in the basement of the Capitol.
January 28, 1887, New York Times, A Capitol Appropriation Bill Introduced in the Assembly and a Few Measures Passed.
ALBANY, Jan. 27.--The wisdom of completing the Capitol is becoming apparent to some of the Republicans as well as the Democrats of the Legislature. Bills have already been introduced by Senator Parker, Democrat, and ex-Speaker Erwin, Republican, appropriating $1,000,000 for this object, to be expended under the direction of the Advisory Board, composed of the Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, Attorney-General, and Speaker. Editor John I. Platt has a third measure which not only grants an appropriation, but also abolished several offices and creates others in their stead. It was conceded a year ago, when a somewhat similar bill was introduced, that that feature which specified the manner in which portions of the appropriation should be expended and the amount was an excellent one. Mr. Platt incorporates it in the bill which he introduced to-day. Differences of opinion will arise about other features of the bill regarding the offices. The appropriation of $682,250 is to be disbursed as provided by the Platt bill as follows:
$82,250 for repairing the Assembly staircase, resetting the balustrade on the north side of the building, repairing the pedestals, ledges, and other granite work in the central court, repairing the leaky roofs and cornices of the small towers on the north and south sides of the building, repairing the ceiling of the Assembly Chamber, and ventilating the Senate Chamber.
$250,000 for the completion of the grand staircase in the western part of the building.
$200,000 for finishing all the rooms and corridors and furnishing same.
$150,000 for completing the eastern entrances and lobbies and for the approaches thereto.
These figures are furnished from estimates made by Capitol Commissioner Perry.
The Platt bill abolishes the Advisory Commission created by the Republican Legislature of 1885, which was no more necessary than the fifth wheel of a coach, and substitutes therefor four Commissioners of Construction, two of whom shall be Democrats and two Republicans. They shall not receive any compensation for their services, but shall be allowed their expenses. They are to be appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. They are to have exclusive control over the work which Capitol Commissioner Perry has been supervising since he was appointed by Gov. Cleveland, and his office is abolished. They are empowered to employ "a Superintendent of Construction," a Deputy Superintendent, and as many other employes as they may deem necessary, and to them is given the power now exercised by Commissioner Perry to purchase supplies and materials and make contracts, all contracts to be awarded to the lowest bidder.
The Superintendent by the Commissioners to be employed "shall be a practical builder of large experience, and he shall, subject to and under the control and direction of the Commissioners of Construction, have charge of the work of finishing said building and approaches, of employing the workmen, and of the purchasing of materials therefore." The Deputy Superintendent shall also be a practical builder. The former's salary is fixed at $7,500, the same that Commissioner Perry now receives. The salary of the latter is fixed at $3,500. Under such a law as this Mr. Perry, whose competence as a builder has never been questioned by sound judges of his work, might be retained by the Commissioners. His deputy, Mr. McIntyre, however, would have to go. Mr. Platt believes that Master Builder Perry is a good man. So far as Mr. Platt himself is concerned, the bill has not been conceived in a spirit of hostility. Whether certain other distinguished gentlemen who may be interested in it will prove unfriendly to the Commissioner, because in years gone by he has not given them all the patronage they have demanded, remains to be seen. White men of high as well as low degree in the Assembly are uncertain.
So far as the four Commissioners of Construction are concerned, whose services are not considered valuable enough to be paid for, only one reason for their appointment is submitted. They will see that the hundreds of workmen to be employed on the building are equally divided between the two parties. Some of the legislators who don't like the looks of the present Deputy Superintendent, Mr. McIntyre, regarding him as a man-eater, fashioned after Higgins of the Treasury Department, want him retired. This bill will accomplish that purpose. McIntyre does not indulge in the hideous practice of drawing his dexter forefinger significantly across his throat when he meets Republicans. The habit which is attributed to him is that of allowing none but Democrats to haul water, hew wood, and cut stone upon the Capitol. Another habit into which it is said he has fallen is that of marching these men up to the primaries and polls and voting them like so many dummies. Some Republicans of Albany County either want this latter practice broken up altogether, or to be admitted to partnership with McIntyre in its continuance. The Capitol might be completed honestly and economically, and in a comparatively short period, if the politicians of the Republican and the Democratic Party would abstain from interference.
March 14, 1887, New York Times, Our Unhealthy Capitol; Disease Lurking in Corridors and Chambers.
GOV. HILL ATTACKED WITH MALARIA AND AND THE STATE OFFICERS CONSTANTLY LIVING IN DANGER.
ALBANY, March 13.--For nearly a week Gov. Hill has kept close within doors and communicated with the Capitol only by messenger. Last Friday he ventured forth, and if quinine and tonics have their usual invigorating effect he will henceforth be found at his old post in the Executive Chamber.
March 11, 1887, New York Times, The State Legislature; Another Capitol Appropriation Bill,
March 25, 1887, The World, Is Our State Capitol Safe. Startling Report of an Engineer Who Has Inspected it.
ALBANY, March 23.—Persons who entered the Assembly Chamber to-day gazed fearfully at the magnificent vaulted gothic ceiling which cost the state over half a million dollars. The members stood in knots or leaned back in their chairs and scrutinized the cracked blocks of stones that, the enterprising Albany papers had declared in headlines which struck terror to the hearts of all, were likely to fall at any moment. Up in the gallery was a little old man with a red beard who was staring at the ceilimg through a pair of glasses and pointing out to Geo. Erwin just what stones were displacced and likely to fall. This was Mr. W. H. Slingerland, of Albany, a civil engineer, who had made a scientific examination of the building at the direction of the Assembly. Mr. Slingerland pointed out a block of stones directly over the head of The World reporter which appears to be on the point of starting out in search of a head to hit. ln the keystone of the arch there is a spilt wide enough to slip a hand into. Scattered over different portions of the ceiling were half a dozen blocks of stone two feet Iong, one foot wide and two feet thick, weighing 154 pounds to the cubic foot, ready at any moment to fall from their place. There was more or less trepidation manifested all over the building until Speaker Husted handed in Mr. Slingerland's report.
br />He says: "It will be seen by the above figures that the eastern part of the building, from the southeast corner to the centre of the Washington avenue entrance, has settled nearly in the form of a slight incline plane, with the exceptions of a point about 28 feet westerly from the southeast corner onthe State street side and the tower foundations, which being more heavily loaded have settled to a greater extent. I find by plumbing the walls in the northern central section of the building that the deflection outward from the perpendicular exceeds that of my former measurement in 1881, especially in the walls of what is now used as the State library. At the second story this wall deflects one-half inch more than in 1881, and in the third story still more. A similar lateral outward deflection is shown in the opposite and corresponding points at the north wall of the Assembly Chamber, but to a less extent. This caused cracks and fissures to open and expand, running perpendicularly and near the centre walls running north and south and apparently throwing walls and piers from their proper positions. This also causes cracking and crumbling of the walls and flattening of the arches in the second and third stories immediately under and surrounding the Assembly Chamber.
"We have also discovered new fractures in two ribs of the ceiling of the Assembly Chamber, and also fractures in the large transverse arch and two two auxialiary groined araches capping the northwest column of the Assembly Chamber. These fractures appear between the hauncu of the arch and the heel of the arch, at opposite points. I have discovered also a new fracture in the diagonal rib of the large groined ceiling of the chamber, extending from the southwest column to the keystone. The attempt to maintain the heavy groined ceiling of such enromous proportions and delicate structure in its proper equilibrium and position by repairing and weighting and by iron rods has been successful. The remaining portions of the building are generally in good condition. The settlement has not been great, considering the enormous proportions of the building. On neither of the two previous examinations have so many defects appeared in the Assembling ceiling and the rooms and corridors immediately adjoining."
The World correspondent called upon Commissioner J. G. Perry to see what he had to say about Mr. Slingerland's report. "In the absence of official data," said Mr. Perry, " I am unable to speak with any positiveness. You may say, however, that there is not the slightest danger of the ceiling falling. It is simply impossible. It is held up by heavy trusses. The worst that can happen is to have a stone fall out. The floor of the room overhead is totally independent of the Assembly ceiling. The former is suspended from the roof by trusses.
"What is the weight of the ceiling?" he was asked.
"About seventeen hundred tons. There have been the most exaggerated stories published relative to the quantity of pig-iron resting overhead on the ceiling. One paper declares the weight to be 20,000 tons. As a matter of fact there are but twenty tons and that weight rests not upon the keystone and the hips. I have endeavored to examine the ceiling every year. Last year I did so with a glass. The only way to do so, however, with thoroughness and accuracy is to rig a scaffold and go over it systematically, to see what imperfections there are. One stone was removed five years ago, and Mr. Slingerland tells me that its successor is assuming a threatening aspect."
"What is the best remedy for all this?"
"Why, State Surveyer Sweet should make a close examination and report to the Legislature."
"You think there is no danger of the Assembly Chamber falling?"
"Not altogether. There is a possibility of a dislodged stone falling, but with vigilance that contingency may be avoided. Wherever and whenever a defective stone is seen it should be at once removed. It would be a shame to take down that glorious and magnificent piece of work and I sincerely hope it may be avoided."
April 13, 1887, New York Times, An Expert on Alcohol; Why Gov. Hill Vetoed the Capitol Liquor Bill.
ALBANY, April 12.--Our worthy Governor vetoed to-day the bill forbidding the selling of rum in the Capitol restaurant, and immediately after the veto was disposed of a score or more of Assemblymen went out into the restaurant and worshipped at the shrine around which the Governor has thrown his protecting mantle.
May 19, 1887, New York Times, Democrats and the Workingmen.
THE GOVERNOR'S VETO OF THE CAPITOL APPROPRIATION-—AN EFFORT TO PROVIDE FOOD FOR IRISHMEN DEFEATED-—CHEERS FOR REPUBLICANS AND GROANS FOR THE GOVERNOR-—AN UNUSUAL SCENE.
Special Despatch to the New-York Times.
ALBANY, May 18.-—The majority report of the Ways and Means Committee on the Message of the Governor vetoing certain items in the Supply bill was presented in the House this afternoon by the Chairman, Mr. Husted. Messrs. Bradley, Cozans, and Maynard, of the minority, made no report, but had their dissent entered upon the journal. The first step in the proceedings was the raising of several points of order by Messrs. Spinola, Ecclesine, Mitchell, and Cozans, to prevent the report being brought before the House at all. The Speaker ruled that the report of the committee was of the highest privilege, and could come before the House at any time. Mr. Husted was given permission to read the report himself instead of having it read at the Clerk's desk. During the reading there was the most profound stillness in the Chamber. When he had finished he moved that the report, with the testimony accompanying called upon Mr. Husted's motion, and when Mr. Cozans' name was called, he rose and made a powerful party speech, calling upon all the Democrats upon the floor to vote to sustain the Governor's veto. The roll-call proceeded slowly, one member after the other explaining his vote, and the motion prevailed. Mr. Husted then moved the appropriation for the new Capitol be passed notwithstanding the Governor's veto. This was the question on which the excitement rose to fever heat. It was now past 6 o'clock, and the news having spread around the city, the lobby and galleries had become jammed to suffocation. All work had stopped upon the Capitol building this afternoon, and the dis-charged workmen were present in force. Speaker Sloan, seeing the condition of affairs, warned the spectators that any demonstration would be immediately followed by the clearing of the House.
The debate which took place was very heated. The position assumed by the Republicans was briefly stated by Mr. Alvord and Mr. Gilbert, of Franklin. It was substantially this: We have an enormous building on our hands, which is, as the Governor says, a public calamity; but it is nearly two-thirds finished, and no one, not even the Governor, suggests that it be abandoned. If we must go on with it, let the work proceed as rapidly as possible, and let us get it ready for use, that we may get some return for our money. The Democratic argument was substantially this: The Governor of the State is a Democrat. We must stand by him, and all this money will be spent for contractors, none for the laboring men. An immense amount of pure buncombe [a variant spelling of bunkum] was poured out on both sides. Neither Republicans nor Democrats had any advantage over each other on this score; but the former voted as they talked, and the latter walked one way and voted the other. When the roll-call was completed it was found that 48 members had voted against passing the item over the Governor's veto and 76 had voted for it, just 12 short of the necessary two-thirds; so there to was sustained. The only Republican who voted among the 46 was Mr. Fish. Mr. Bradley, of Kings; Healy, of New-York; Barns, of Troy, and the two Democrats from Albany voted with the Republicans. With the declaration of the result, the Speaker declared the House adjourned.
A minute after the adjournment the Iong-pent excitement of the crowds of workmen broke forth. From gallery and lobby they poured forth the most dreadful imprecations on the men and the party that they declared had first deceived and then abandoned them. They cursed Tammany Hall; they cursed the Democratic Party; they cursed the individual members of it on the floor; they yelled, hooted and hissed Spinola, Ecclesine, and Grady above all the others. They called them by name, and invoked frightful curses upon them, for it seems that these-members had been lately attending the meetings, making speeches to the workmen, and promising to stand by them to the end. They had even gone so far as to head delegations to the Governor, asking him to sign the appropriation. The rage of these men was, therefore, specially directed against them, and they went so far as to threaten personal violence. The crowd formed in a solid body outside the Assembly Chamber, and the obnoxious members did not dare to come out. Mr. Childs, of Seneca, another Democratic member who had made speeches and then voted the other way, was quite roughly handled, and had to run back into the Chamber. No one seems to have been threatened except those members who had made themselves conspicuous as "friends of the working man," and when the time came to vote the way they talked had done the other thing. It was at last found necessary to bring up a strong force of Police and clear the Capitol building. It is an unfortunate affair, but certainly a most signal example of chickens coming borne to roost. The whole Winter long certain New-York members have absolutely nauseated the house with their everlasting talk to the galleries about their friendship for the working man. The galleries have now seen its value and expressed their appreciation. Lieut.-Gov. Dorsheimer was so frightened that he sent for a posse of Police to protect the Senate from the "unterrified."
ANSWER OF THE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE.
The following is the text of the report of the Ways and Means Committee:
To the Assembly:
The Committee on Ways and Means, to which was referred the Message of the Governor, transmitted a statement of the items of appropriation objected to by him in Assembly bill Su. 267, with his reasons for the same, beg leave respectfully to report: That while we have no recommendation to make for the action of the Legislature, beyond that of taking the usual votes on such occasions, we desire pointedly to dissent from the Message as to the importance, property, and urgency of many of the items objected to, and to point out some inconsistencies which are conspicuous in the Message.
The Governor objects to certain items for Mr. Eaton, for the sole reason that they had not been considered and approved by the Board of Audit, and yet be approves items in the bill of exactly the same class, to wit, for attorneys' fees, expenses of experts and stenographers originating out of the same transaction, and having no better claim to the favor of the Legislature and the Executive than the former. They also had not been adjudged by the Board of Audit. It may be insisted that the claims approved by the Governor are contained in an item for the Attorney-General for the benefit of the parties interested, and that no part of the appropriation will be paid to them except upon the audit and approval of that officer. But this cannot in the one case more than in the other authorize the appropriation until after the audit. The truth is that Mr. Eaton has no claim against the State which the Board of Audit can consider and allow.
May 21, 1887, New York Times, The Schemers Victorious; A Great Day For Jobbery At Albany. THE POUCHKEEPSIE BRIDGE AND PATENT BALLOT BOX JOBS ACCORDED SPECIAL FAVORS.
ALBANY, May 20.--Editor Platt stepped down into the well this morning, and, unrolling a large sheet of paper, displayed to the House a diagram of his Poughkeepsie bridge and its piers, which was drawn on such a scale as to show that canal boats and steamboats could not possibly collide with one another or with the bridge piers in passing up and down the Hudson
The exposure of the scheme of the Platt leaders in the Senate and Assembly to convert the work of completing the Capitol into a large political job will have the effect of killing it for this session. Senator Fassett and ex-Speaker Erwin, who together with the Hon. Hamilton Harris, appear to have conceived this brilliant plan for propping up the fortunes of the Platt faction, are getting out from under as rapidly as possible. So are the gentlemen who were favorable impressed with it and who attended the meeting at which it was laid before the Governor. Speaker Husted was one of the first of these to unload. This he did very gracefully from his perch in the Assembly Chamber this morning. Taking as his text the article in these columns to-day, the Speaker, after reading it through to the House, mildly protested against its being considered an accurate survey of the situation so far as he was concerned. He insisted that there was a great deal of romance about it, and that while, like a potato field, it contained a great many hills, it also contained a great many more holes. He declared that he had once declined a position as Capitol Commissioner, and that he would take no such office now, unless, indeed, his friend, Gov. Hill, should also be selected to keep him company. Unconsciously he lifted his eyes toward heaven as he intimated that the immense pile should be completed on business, not political principles.
Of course every one of his associates was straightaway convinced that the Speaker would forego the pleasure of securing appointments for 140 of his Westchester constituents for the privilege of seeing the Capitol completed on strict business principles. The Speaker's explanation is creditable to his better instincts. He does not belong to the Platt gang, notwithstanding the fact that he early made an alliance with it in the Assembly for offensive and defensive purposes, and he ought to be praised for repudiating it, even although his repentant symptoms do present themselves somewhat late in the session. Henceforth it must be understood that the Speaker must be counted out of that large number of patriots who regard the Capitol as their oyster. That he will still retain an interest in it as a citizen and taxpayer will be shown when, on Monday next, he will introduce a bill to appropriate $115,104 for sundry repairs to the building. There may not be no job in such an innocent looking measure, but it certainly bears every resemblance to a minor steal, such, for instance, as might be perpetrated in the name of charity. The Speaker declares boldly that Architect Eidlitz is fearful that the stone ceiling of the Assembly Chamber will fall. When Mr. Eidlitz sees that statement he will be compelled to defend his reputation, and he will doubtless insist that he never authorized anybody to present the case in language so startling. The Speaker proposes to appropriate $26,980 for repairing the brick walls and attic over the ceiling and the ceiling itself. If there was anything alarming about the condition of the ceiling such a small sum would not begin to be sufficient for repairs. It would be well for members to prohibit the Speaker from jumping his little bill through till they found what it is all about. Meanwhile the rural taxpayers can congratulate themselves that no gigantic job will be undertaken this session. A capable builder in the person of Capitol Commissioner Perry stands ready to complete the building without involving the work in a scandal whenever a Republican Legislature will appropriate the necessary money.
January 26, 1888, The Evening Post, Page 8, That Assembly Ceiling.
(Special Despatch to The Evening Post.]
ALBANY, January 26.-An examination of the bits of stone that have fallen from the Assembly Chamber ceiling and which were exhibited in debate by Assemblyman Platt to-day shows that they have all fallen from, the north-side arch and about equally from either side east and west of the keystone and that arch. There is now clearly to be seen another piece about two feet long and six inches wide broken loose and apparently ready to fall. It is outside of the circle of seats and immediately over a favorite place for visitors.
January 31, 1888, The Daily Graphic, Page 1 Illustration, THE CRACKED ASSEMBLE CEILING.
A POSSIBLE CATASTROPHE IN THE ALBANY LEGISLATURE.
January 31, 1888, The Daily Graphic, Page 2, Column 2, The Cracked Ceiling.
The cracked Assembly ceiling at Albany still menaces the pates of the august lawmakers who sit under it.
The possible catastrophe, introspectively treated on the first page of to-day's GRAPHIC, is, we hope, far distant. The gentlemen who sit under that ceiling and watch the widening crack as they lean back to listen to the eloquent address of the member from the Thirteenth District on the subject of sidedoors, must feel some degree of perturbation. When the member from Wayback arises to introduce a resolution against the use of lardine and feels a chunk of plaster glide down between his shirt collar and his neck he is in all probability slightly chilled and unable to properly present his views or the views of his constituents. When there is any little business being transacted between members which has nothing to do with public measures the sifting of a pint or two of dry mortar into their eyes is a reminder that they are there to look after the public interests and not their own affairs.
In several respects the cracked ceiling at Albany has its uses. It is a constant reminder of things done and undone, and while chunks of plaster and pints of pulverized mortar are not particularly pleasant interruptions, they serve to keep before the legislators the fact that the crack of political doom will menace them if they don't behave themselves.
February 8, 1888, The Daily Graphic, Page 1, Illustration. THE CRUMBLING ASSEMBLY CHAMBER AT ALBANY.
February 8, 1888, The Daily Graphic, Page 6 (724) That Assembly Ceiling.
THE SENATE TO MOVE OUT OF ITS LUXURIOUS CHAMBER AND THE HOUSE TO OCCUPY IT.
ALBANY, February 7.—The much-discussed question as to where the House of Assembly shall hereafter hold its sessions was finally settled this morning.
Mr. Ainsworth of the Committee on New Assembly Quarters, reported verbally that the Assembly should not leave the Capitol, as it would involve a cost of $50,000, and would prolong the session at least a month, and by impeding public business would lead to serious scandals.
The Assembly members of the Committee had concluded that the Senate Chamber was the only room suitable for the Assembly and the Senate could be accommodated in the Assembly Parlor, a room larger than the one it occupied for several years.
The Committee had examined the Senate Chamber, the new library rooms, the Board of Claims rooms, the Assembly parlor and the Albany Common Council chamber, and found the Senate room alone adequate. It could be fitted up with desks to give sufficient room to members and others interested in legislation.
In the present condition of affairs it was dangerous to continue in the Assembly Chamber. By devoting itself sedulously to committee work the Assembly would not lose time or prolong the session. He moved that the Assembly adjourn until to-morrow at eleven o'clock. Carried.
February 12, 1888, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Page 16, The Cracked Assembly Ceiling.
Mr. Perry's Plan For Protecting the Lives of the Members.
[Special to the Eagle.]
ALBANY, N. Y., February 11.--The question of new quarters for the Assembly is likely to come up for consideration at Monday evening's session of the Lower House. The Special Legislative Committee to which the matter had been intrusted had a conference with Commissioner Perry last night and he explained a plan of his by which the necessary staging for the support of the cracked ceiling could be erected within ten days, or at the most two weeks. The Assembly could then continue the use of the chamber without danger until the end of the session, when, if thought best, the entire ceiling could be removed. Mr. Perry asserts that his staging could be securely anchored upon the floor of the chamber and that when finished it would be able to support much more weight than it will be required to. Mr. Hadley, of the Special Committee, told him to submit his plan to the Assembly Monday, when action will be taken. Superintendent Andrews has a force of carpenters at work to-day improving the limited accommodations offered by the parlor which is now used by the Assembly.
February 27, 1888, New York Times, page 2, column 4, To Preserve Our Library, The Noble Collections Belonging To The State In Danger In Its Present Quarters.-- WHY THE NEW LIBRARY ROOMS SHOULD BE FINISHED AT ONCE.
ALBANY, Feb. 26.-- The State of New York has the finest library of any State in the Union. At a modest estimate the contents are worth $500,000. On Sept. 30 last there were in the library 134,394 bound volumes, besides thousands of pamphlets and tens of thousands of manuscripts, constituting a vast storehouse of legal and historical learning. The manner in which this treasure is sheltered is a curiosity in the treatment of great libraries, a disgrace to the State, and a triumph in the art of cheese-paring practised spasmodically by the Legislature.
In a memorial to the present Legislature calling attention to the pressing need of suitable quarters for this great and noble collection, "the fruit of the enlightened liberality of three generations, sustained by the wise beneficence of successive Legislatures, enriched by rare contributions from all quarters of the globe," the Regents of the University, who are the Trustees of the State Library, have this to say of the circumstances which led to the library occupying its present quarters, and of the quarters themselves.
The library was already beginning to suffer from lack of room, when in 1883 the growth of the new Capitol rendered it necessary to clear the ground of the old State Library Building. In the summer of that year the trustees of the library were notified that the demolition of the old building had been decided upon, and the permanent rooms had been set apart in the new Capitol which should at once be fitted up in a suitable manner for the reception of the library. In the meantime and until these new quarters could be prepared for the reception of the library, rooms in different parts of the building were hastily made ready for the temporary storage of the several collections. The books of the general library were arranged with some attempt at order on shelving put up in the abandoned Court of Appeals chamber; the books of the law library in a similar manner in the golden corridor, which was then and is still used as a passage-way from the east to the west sides of the Capitol. The large and invaluable collection of duplicates of the library (numbering not less than 75,000 volumes) were stored in rooms in the vaults of the Capitol, where they still lie, wholly inaccessible and suffering irreparable damage from intense heat, dampness, and other causes.The great collection of manuscripts was distributed among several custodians, some portions of it in the southwest pavilion of the Capitol, others in dark store-rooms connected with the temporary quarters of the general and law libraries, very many of them for the time being practically useless and some of them of the greatest value being lost, damaged, and destroyed.
The statement of the Regents is a conservative one. In its present quarters the general library is cramped and crowded. The "reading-room" consists of a space or aisle 10 feet wide on one side of the big room. In this there are six small tables. The law library is in a public corridor, attractive enough in its decoration to be one of the show places of the Capitol. There is no room in which to display the important collection of casts, portraits, and similar treasures belonging to the State Library and now stored in the attic. High temperature is believed to have already greatly injured the collections of duplicates stored in the basement, the great value of which is thus referred to by the Regents in their memorial:
"These (duplicates) consist for the most part of session laws, Senate and Assembly documents, and other publications of our own and other States, and when once destroyed can never be replaced. An important, if not the most important, source of the growth of a great library like that of the State is the system of exchanges with individuals, Governments, and other libraries, and the material for these exchanges is the library of duplicates to which reference has been made. When these are stored in inaccessible quarters this system is hampered and the natural growth of the library is checked. When these are destroyed the system ceases to operate and the natural development of the library from this source comes to an end. In the case of our own collection of duplicates the former state of affairs has long existed, and the latter can be avoided only by speedy action on the part of the Legislature."
In the general library are books worth, literally speaking, almost if not quite their weight in gold. Among them are some very rare and curious. The library has a nearly complete set of the early Jesuit Relations. It also contains the famous Usselincx manuscripts, including 404 pages of papers and reports of Willem Usselincx for the period from 1614 to 1646; Ptolemy's Geography of 1611; a collection of Japanese books presented by Dr. David Murray, and one of the best and most complete collections extant of books relating to the civil war.
In the four years that have elapsed since the library was thrust into its present quarters over 14,000 volumes have been added to the collection by gifts.
"In the meantime," say the Regents, "the books in both departments of the library are suffering serious damage from the heat and dust to which many of them in their present quarters are necessarily exposed, the public who use the library are subjected to daily and hourly inconvenience, the work of caring for the collections is enormously increased and unsatisfactorily and uneconomically performed, and a much-needed reorganization of the library force which has long been in contemplation is compelled to wait from year to year, to the great detriment of the work which the institution is called upon to perform."
To complete the quarters designed for the State Library would require, according to the plans and estimates prepared by Capitol Commissioner Perry, $125,000 in money, and not more than two months' time. Mr. Perry's plans provided for a noble home for the State Library. The library and Regents will occupy the third and fourth floors and attic of the entire western section of the building, except three rooms on the fourth floor given up to the Board of Claims. The Regents have three rooms on the third floor and a like number on the fourth. The grand western staircase, which when completed will be one of the finest pieces of architecture around the Capitol, leads directly up to the main entrance to the library, and two elevators will also take the visitor or student to the third or fourth floor in that section of the building. The main entrance opens into the general reading-room, a magnificent room 73 by 42 feet and 52 feet high, being carried up through the fourth story. At the two ends of this room are two tiers of galleries supported on clusters of red granite columns and freestone arches of the same color, and a gallery stretches across the east side. In this room there will be shelving for 16,000 volumes. South of the reading-room and adjoining it is a stack-room 27 x 30 feet, divided by perforated iron floors into three stories 7 feet 3 inches high. In these stand the bookshelves, made of galvanized iron and supported on iron stanchions. By the use of mezzanine floors in a corridor on the east, and in another room 15 x 30 feet on the south, shelving is provided for 55,488 volumes.
Directly over the last-named rooms and corridor in the fourth story is a room 45 x 48 feet by 26 feet high, with an open space 15 x 24 feet in the ceiling for the admission of light through the glazed roof for lighting the centre of the room, and for the accommodation of the iron stairs, which start from.the floor in the centre of the book-room and extend up to the attic floor, with landings on each of the intermediate floors. This book-room, as now planned, has a capacity of 136,488 volumes, making the total capacity of the general library 207,976 volumes.
The law library is at the north side of the reading-room, occupying on the third floor all the space between the reading-room and the north wall of the Capitol and also a room en the fourth floor. Mezzanine floors give additional room, space being provided for 95,000 volumes of law books. The law library rooms are nearly complete, and so are the stack-rooms for the general library. In both the shelving is in its place. The bookcases in the law library are made of quartered oak, richly designed in panel-work, with a moderate amount of well-executed carving. The ceilings and walls of two of the rooms are painted and decorated.
In the great reading-room, lighted by six windows, part of the stonework is already in place and much of the stone yet to be set is cut and on the ground. If completed according to Mr. Perry's plans it will be one of the handsomest rooms in the Capitol. The whole attic of the western section is to be used as part of the library. It is 35 feet high and well lighted in its central part by a glazed roof. The north and south sections of the attic are each 53 feet square and lighted by ordinary windows, the view from which will be one of the sights of the Capitol.
For three years work on these rooms has been at a standstill, and the library has been ... confined in quarters never intended and entirely unsuited for it. The need of new rooms, if the library is to be preserved and of use to students, is urgent. With an appropriation of $125,000 it can be speedily given a new home. Delay means further serious deterioration of the library and continued arrest of the natural development of this great and valuable collection.
Among the members of the Board of Regents are such well-known editors as George William Curtis of Harper's Weekly, who is Vice-Chancellor; Whitelaw Reid of the New-York Tribune; Charles E. Fitch of the Rochester Democrat-Chronicle; Sinclair McKelway of the Brooklyn Eagle; Willard Cobb of the Lockport Journal, and Carroll E. Smith of the Syracuse Journal. The bare suggestion that not one of them has the slightest influence with members of the Legislature from his own locality would doubtless cause acute pain in the region where the coronal service begins to decline toward the back head, and a little above the posterior angle of the parietal bones, such is the sensitiveness of the average editor. But should the Legislature adjourn without granting so necessary an appropriation, it would be a fair inference that this aggregation of newspaper talent is lacking in the first principles of practical politics, is without honor even in the legislative body whose members owe their elevation so largely to the newspapers. If the editors, conscious of their own weaknesses, should call into service the experience and persuasive eloquence of such fellow-Regents as Chauncey M. Depew, ex-State Senator Hamilton Harris, (than whom no more skilled logroller lives,) Chancellor Henry R. Pierson, ex-United States Senator Francis Kernan, and ex-Attorney-General Leslie W. Russell---if this combination would give a long pull, a strong pull, and a pull all together, what Legislature would refuse a paltry $125,000? Having satisfied himself that there was no politics in it, how could our Governor, generous patron of arts, music, billiards, and learning that he is, consistently refuse to sanction the expenditure of this sum?
April 7, 1888, The Daily Graphic, Bright Bits From Albany,
He recently had a bill passed which assigns to the Grand Army of the Republic a room in the State Capitol and appropriated $3,000 for its maintenance. Probably not one soldier in 500 through the State knows of the bill and not one in 1,000 cares for it, and that one knows that it is all wrong in principle to furnish with quarters in the Capitol any unofficial organization, however illustrious it services may have been. If the bill becomes a law it adds one more precedent to two vicious ones already on record and gives it the force of law. Two years ago the newspaper correspondents here secured the use of a room in the Capitol for club purposes and for work. This was only for the winter and the room would not otherwise have been used. But taking this as precedent the State Bar Association applied for and succeeded in getting permanent quarters in the building.
April 26, 1888, The Evening Post, The Repairs of the Assembly Chamber.
A bill was reported providing that the Speaker, with four members designated by him, shall be a commission to repair the Assembly ceiling, etc., the work to be done by contract where possible, and to be begun immediately after adjournment; the ceiling to be replaced, the golden corridor and staircase repaired, and the work finished before December 15; and appropriating $350,000 for the purpose. In supporting the bill Mr. Ainsworth said the Speaker did not desire the power conferred, and the bill was a compromise.
Mr. Sheehan said there were doubtless many eminent statesmen in the Assembly, but there were eminent architects and engineers, and it was absurd to place Assemblymen in charge of the repairs. Either Commissioner Perry or Superintendent Andrews should be in charge of the work.
Mr. Gallup opposed the motion, saying a division of responsibility would ensue.
The bill was recommitted on Mr. Sheehan's motion to add Commissioner Perry or Superintendent Andrews to the Commission.
May 7, 1888, The Evening Post, Page 1, Column 2, The Assembly Ceiling.
THE ARCHITECTS IN THEIR OWN DEFENCE.
ALBANY, May 7.—-Eidlitz, Richardson & Co., architects, filed a statement with the Governor to-day, in which they state that, in justice to their professional reputation, the present defects in the Assembly ceiling are mainly due to the neglect of the recommendations made in 1882, and often repeated since, and that the proper course to be pursued is to restore it to a safe and permanent condition. The architects protest against the substitution of wood, metal, or slate ceiling for the vaulted one of stone, holding that the present one can be preserved by reconstructing the three central vaults, and that it would be discreditable to the State that the vaulted ceiling should fall.
May 9, 1888, The Evening Post, Page 5, Column 5, New York Legislature. Senate.
ALBANY, May 9.--The Finance Committee reported favorably on the Capitol Repair Appropriation Bill with $63,000 cut out. About $287,000 are left for work on the Assembly ceiling and staircase.
May 19, 1888, The Evening Post, Page 8, Column 4, The Work on the Capitol.
[Special Despatch to The Evening Post.]
ALBANY, June 13.—Capitol Commissioner Perry has had the plans for the completion of the State Library ready for many months, and as soon as Lieut.-Gov. Jones calls the new Commission together the plans will be submitted. It is thought that the work can begin next week. More delay is expe c t ed before work begins on the Assembly ceiling and staircase, because Speaker Cole has yet to appoint the other four members of the Commission. There seems to be no doubt that Messrs. Sheehan and Weed will be the Democratic members. The Republican members are likely to be Adams of Orange and either Fort of Washington or Ens of Tompkins. There was a movement in favor of Youngman of Albany, but it is said the Speaker wishes all the members to be from other parts of the State so that there may be no chance of the matter becoming mixed with Albany politics. Mr. Platt is said to have been rejected because of alleged impracticable ideas, Hosted because he had been connected with Capitol building in the past, Hadley because he attacked the Governor on the score of a memorandum left in the executive chambers and both Ainsworth and Cheney, because of the feeling between them on account of the Syracuse water bills.
The plan is to take down the Assembly ceiling, vaulting, and ribs entire to the capitals of the four great columns. The capitals are then to be removed, a section of nine feet added to the length of the red granite shafts, and the capital restored. A heavy ceiling of oak, flat with round arches at the intersections, will be constructed, the effect being in harmony wi th the romanesque character of the room.
The new Commissioners charged with the completion of the State Library will meet with Capitol Commissioner Perry on Friday, and will probably approve of his plans.
June 26, 1888, Albany Evening Journal, Will Cost $270,150.
The Assembly Ceiling Job Awarded to John Snaith.
John Snaith has been awarded the contract for removing the assembly ceiling and replacing it with an iron structure. Bids for the work were opened yesterday afternoon at the office of Supt. Andrews. The bids, of which Mr. Snaith's was the lowest, follow: Snaith, $270,150; Hughes Bros., Syracuse, $286,435; Crawford & Ballantine, Brooklyn, $287,582; Hilton bridge company, $294,500; John H. Mooney, New York, $286,340; Sullivan & Ehler, $278,566.50. The work will be begun Just as soon as the necessary papers can be drawn, which will require but a few days. Mr. Andrew, was voted $3,500 by the commission for superintending the work.
January 10, 1889, New York Times, The State Legislature; Speaker Cole Names the Assembly Committees. HE INGORES PRECEDENT AND GIVES THE REPUBLICANS EIGHT MEMBERS ON THE LEADING COMMITTEES.
ALBANY, Jan. 9.--The Legislature did not everwhelm itself with work this evening. Both houses met at 8:15 o'clock. The session of the House lasted 21 minutes, and that of the Senate 33 minutes.
January 11, 1889, New York Times, The Lobby in Possession.; A DISGRACEFUL SCENE IN THE ASSEMBLY CHAMBER YESTERDAY. ALBANY, Jan. 10.--One of the most disgraceful scenes ever witnessed on the floor of the Assembly took place after adjournment to-day. There were 102 bills introduced immediately before the adjournment.
January 22, 1889, Page 1, The Evening Post, Albany's Latest Scandal. Explanations of the Work on the Assembly Ceiling. A Suggestion by Speaker Cole -- Methods of Investigation — The Real Trouble.
January 22, 1889, The Evening Post, Page 4, Column 2,
Editorial. The sudden excitement over the pasteboard ceiling of the Assembly Chamber at Albany is much belated. On November 25 THE EVENING POST published a careful account of the work then in progress, in which was set forth the alleged option of the contractor "to make the filling of the panel spaces of wood, with plain, flat surfaces, or to use other material," and the fact that he had chosen to make them of papier mache.
January 22, 1889, New York Times, That Assembly Ceiling; Likely to Give Rise to Still More Scandal. THE CENTENNIAL APPROPRIATION PASSED BY THE SENATE--BILLS OF LOCAL INTEREST. ALBANY, Jan. 21.--There is likely to be still greater scandal in connection with the Assembly ceiling. It has been demonstrated within the past 24 hours that at the time the contract was given out the only material mentioned for the ceiling was oak, and, remarkable as.
January 23, 1889, New York Times, THE ASSEMBLY CEILING.
The last Legislature passed a bill authorizing a committee of the Assembly to take down the vaulted stone ceiling of its chamber and replace it by another. The authorization was entirely unconstitutional. Inasmuch as the ceiling had been temporaily secured by a wooden structure, which would have served in great part as a centring for the restoration of the stone ceiling, there was no excuse of necessity for giving it effect.
January 23, 1889, New York Times, The Assembly In Arms; A Lively Debate Over the Ceiling Scandal. SPEAKER COLE DEFENDS THE COMMITTEE IN CHARGE OF THE REPAIRS--MANY THINGS TO BE EXPLAINED. ALBANY, Jan. 22.--The Assembly took a turn in stirring up the ceiling scandal to-day, and the matter assumed a fresh phase and reflected a coloring that rached as far down as the southeast corner of the Capital, where the Governor of the State occupies his palatial quarters.
January 24, 1889, New York Times, Three Experts Selected; To Investigate the Assembly Ceiling. GOV. HILL'S EFFORTS TO MAKE SPEAKER COLE RESPONSIBLE--THE BROOKLYN ALDERMANIC BILL. THE ASSEMBLY. ALBANY, Jan. 23.--Contrary to expectation Mr. Ainsworth's Appropriation Committee did not hold a meeting this afternoon, and will not until something is heard from the experts who have been invited to investigate the ceiling.
January 29, 1889, New York Times, THE STATE LEGISLATURE; DELAY IN INVESTIGATING THE ASSEMBLY CEILING.
ALBANY, Jan. 28--The session of the Legislature to-night was uneventful. Many of the New-York members were absent, in attendance at the Police Captains' dinner in the metropolis.
January 31, 1889, New York Times, That Assembly Ceiling
A LIVELY DEBATE OVER IT IN THE HOUSE. THE TRUE INWARDNESS OF THE MATTER LIKELY TO BE DISCOVERED--A NEW LAW OF LIBEL PROPOSED.
ALBANY, Jan. 30.--There was a lively time in the Assembly this morning over the much-talked-of ceiling. Three members of the committee, who are supposed to have supervised the construction of the ceiling, stated openly on the floor that so far as their recollection went, the ceiling was to be constructed of carved oak, and they knew nothing of the papier-maché clause until the present session of the Legislature convened. These members were Speaker Cole, Mr. Sheehan of Buffalo, the leader of the minority, and Mr. Gallup of Onondaga. It was also said on the floor that George I. Weed, another member of the committee, but not of this House, had made the same statement, and the only member of the committee who could recollect that papier maché was talked of was Mr. Enz of Thompkins, from which county, singularly enough, the man who drew the contract, Prof. Roe, [Rowe in other news accounts.] and the contractor, Mr. Snaith, also hail.
The atmosphere of suspicion that has surrounded this subject since the agitation of the ceiling fraud was begun was so apparent this morning that more than one member insinuated, and one openly charged, that there was a disposition to hush the whole matter up. Other members criticize the wholesale freedom with which the subject was treated, and declared that such an open course of proceeding would certainly frustrate the ends of justice.
Mr. Ainsworth returned from Oswego and reported to the House that the three experts selected by the Appropriations Committee---Prof. Chester of Hamilton College, Architect Russell of Syracuse, and Civil Engineer Brush of the University of New-York---had accepted the invitation to investigate the ceiling. Mr. Crosbie asked that Mr. Stanley [Stanford] White of New York be added. The report of the committee, with Mr. White's name added, was adopted. Mr. Ainsworth explained to the House that the object of the Appropriations Committee was to have the expert commission look into the matter of the ceiling and see if it were made according to the contract, and if it were not to examine the contract and see if that had been properly drawn.
Mr. Sheehan did not believe Mr. Ainsworth's plan broad enough. The investigation should not be limited to the plans and specifications, but should delve deeper and determine whether a carved oak ceiling could not have been made under the appropriation, what the cost of an oak ceiling should be, and what was the cost of the present ceiling.
Gen. Batcheller believed that all these propositions would incumber the investigation so as practically to nullify its work. The question was simply this: Did the contractor carry out the terms of his contract? If he did, then the question became, Was the contract drawn as it should have been?
But Sheehan was obdurate. He wanted a full, deep and thorough investigation. "You do not go far enough," he declared. "The time has come when some members of this committee should speak. I want to say that it is my belief, and always has been, that we were to have a carved oak ceiling. When the bill was passed I don't believe there was a member who imagined we were to have a faced ceiling." He wanted it shown whether any change had been made in the specifications without the knowledge of the committee, to determine the motive for the construction of a ceiling different from what every one believed it should be. There was a big difference between a carved oak ceiling and the one now overhead. If it could be shown that the change had been effected surreptitiously in the specifications then they would strike at the root of the evil.
The speech of the day was made by the venerable skipper from Suffolk, Capt. Huntting. All through the debate he had been heaving to and fro like a south shore whaler in a stiff nor-wester, and he now raised all canvas, weighed anchor, and sailed in. It is years since the Assembly Chamber saw such a sight. The rugged old tar was stripped for action and dead earnestness and grim determination stood out all over him.
"It is 20 years that this pile has been growing," he said, "until it has become a stench in the nostrils of the public. It is a fact that rottenness runs through it from the keelson to royal to'gallant. Three years ago Gen Batcheller called it a colossal fraud. The other day Mr. Blumenthal called it a monumental failure. I go further," blazed away the Captain, shaking his fist violently, "and I say it is a Chimborazo steal."
Here he paused and gazed around the Chamber until his eye caught the gilded coat of arms of the State cut into the stone over the main entrance to the Chamber. "There is our motto, 'Excelsior!' I say tear it down! tear it down! It is a standing lie. Tear it down and hang it in the blue vault of heaven among the stars."
At this point his colleagues were quite overcome, but the Captain was not done. Clasping his hands tragically, he lifted his eyes toward the ceiling and poured forth his peroration: "Oh my mother State, we have wronged you in the years agone! Cease thy mourning and dry thy tears, and here and now we renew our oath of fealty to thine interests, and henceforth we shall receive thy benediction."
The old tar here came to anchor and furled his speech amid the hearty acclamation of his brethren. It was a great speech, and worthy the occasion. A prolonged debate followed, in the course of which Mr. Andrus of Buffalo charged that there was suspicion that some one wanted to suppress an investigation, which was shared in by many members, and Mr. Cole explained that of the $7,500 which was charged as expenses to the committee $2,500 went to defray the expenses of Prof. Roe, [Rowe] the architect from Thompkins County. Mr. Cole said that none of the committee had received any money out of the thing. It was on motion of Mr. Enz that Superintendent Andrews raised the extra $3,500 for supervising the work. From this it will be seen that with $2,500 given to Architect Roe the State paid $6,000 for architects' services during the five months when work on the ceiling was going on. Superintendent Perry received $7,500 a year as Commissioner of the Capitol.
The resolution was ordered read and sent to the Appropriations Committee. This is the resolution:
Resolved, That the Committee of Experts examine and report.
First--Has the present ceiling been constructed in all respects in accordance with the plans and specifications.
Second--What would be the cost of said ceiling if quartered oak were used in place of papier maché.
Third--What would be the cost of constructing a proper carved oak ceiling, in accordance with the plans adopted for the building of the present ceiling, and in case carved oak were used in the specifications in place of quartered oak or papier maché.
Fourth--That said committee further investigate and report upon any other matter pertaining to the building of said ceiling that they deem material, and also if the article, papier maché, as used in this ceiling is proper and first-class material.
February 12, 1889, New York Times, Bribery Is Common Talk; Scandal In Regard to the Assembly Ceiling. THOUSANDS OFFERED COMMITTEEMEN FOR A WHITEWASH REPORT--DEVELOPMENTS EXPECTED TO-DAY. THE ASSEMBLY. THE SENATE.
ALBANY, Feb. 11.--What has long been suspected in connection with the Assembly celling was half way verified to-night by the announcement that a Democratic member of the Appropropriations Committee had been offered $5,000 if he would vote for a whitewash report.
February 12, 1889, The Evening Post, Page 7, Column 1,
—Last evening the Attorney-General sent to the Assembly a reply to Mr. Fish's resolution requesting an opinion from him as to the legality of the salary which the Assembly Ceiling Committee voted to Supt. Andrews for overseeing the work of building the new Assembly chamber ceiling. As Superintendent of Public Buildings Mr. Andrews receives a salary of $3,500. When the Assembly Ceiling Committee, consisting of Speaker Cole, W. H. Gallup, Frank J. Ens, William F. Sheehan, and George S. Weed, met at the close of the last session to set the ceiling work on foot, the first thing done was to vote Supt. Andrews $3,500 extra pay. This action the Attorney-General pronounces unconstitutional.
February 13, 1889, The Syracuse Courier, To "Fix" the Investigating Committee.
ASSEMBLYMAN MARTIN Said to Have Been Offered $5,000 if He Would Vote for A "WHITEWASHING" REPORT But Turned a Deaf Ear to the Lobbyist-- A Thorough Ventilation to be Given the Matter by the Assembly
ALBANY, Feb. 13.—The Assembly chamber this morning was the scene of much excitement, arising from Mr. Sheehan's calling up the question of the alleged attempt of a lobbyist to bribe a member of the Assembly Appropriations Committee, to assist in handing in a "white washed" report on the Assembly ceiling investigation, which the committee has in charge. A heated discussion followed, which was participated in by 15 or 20 members. John Martin of New York stated that he was the member who was approached in New York by a man who informed him it would be to his financial advantage to help formulate such a report.
Mr. Sheehan opened the matter by rising to a question of privileges. Publications in New York and other papers this morning, he said, reflected upon him as a member of the committee of last year, which supervised the structure of the Assembly ceiling. In substance the charge is that a member of this House, who is also a member of the Committee on Appropriations, which committee is now investigating the ceiling subject, was offered by a lobbyist in New York, a few days ago $5,000 if he would vote with five other members of that committee to white wash the Assembly Ceiling Committee. This he said, was where his question of privilege came in. If any attempt had been or was being made by corrupt means or otherwise to bring about a whitewashing report, that was something he had considerable personal interest in. Of course, it was a rather delicate question. He was at a loss to say just what was the proper course to pursue. He had hoped some steps would be taken by some members of the House not on the Ceiling Committee to probe this matter to the bottom. He was the only man who would in any way reflect on members of the Appropriations Committee or for a moment question the integrity of the committee as a whole or individually, but the charge was being made that there is an attempt to bring about a whitewashing report so as to save the heretofore good characters of the members of the Assembly Ceiling Committee. It seemed to him that something should be done, because, no matter how much confidence the people of the State may have in the Appropriations Committee, if their report proved to be a complete vindication of the whole subject matter and declared that the work had been honestly performed, the people will not have that confidence in the report that they would have had if these charges had never been made. Therefore as a member of the Ceiling Committee, zealous for his own reputation he believes that something should be done to investigate the Appropriations Committee. It had been suggested that the House take a vote of confidence in the committee then the committee would be able to ask it be relieved from further consideration on the matter, After that the whole question could be referred to special committee or one of the standing committees of the house [several illegible paragraphs] whether the report of the Appropriations committee would be greeted with confidence if it exonorated everybody connected with the ceiling.
Mr. Husted replied that he was not a believer in total human depravity. He believed the great majority of men were honest. If a member of the House had been offered a bribe, it was his duty to name the bribe. He moved a postponement of the whole matter until noon tomorrow. Mr. Dunlap thought the House should first determine whether there was any truth in all this talk about bribery. Mr. Saxton suggested that there was no charge to be investigated, until the member of the House, whoever he might be, should rise in his place and make a specific charge that an attempt had been made to bribe him. Unless this was done there would be no end of investigations.
He believed the Appropriations committee would go to the bottom of the whole matter. Several members endeavored to get the Speaker's recognition, among them Mr. Martin of New York, to whom the bribery stories evidently reputed, though his name had not been mentioned and, when the Speaker recognized him, all eyes turned upon him.
Mr. Martin said that, although his name had not been mentioned, he was probably generally regarded as the central figure in this matter. He was free to say that he had intended to take no notice of the rumors, so far as they concerned himself, at this particular time, but this discussion forced him into it. It was his intention to have taken cognizance of the rumors when witnesses were examined. The statements in the press were like a potato field, a great many hills and a great many hollows. There was some truth and great deal that was not true in them. He was free to say that some days ago he received a note from a certain gentleman to call at a certain place in New York. He (Martin) called at the place mentioned. The name of the signer of the note was not known to him. A conversation occurred in reference to the ceiling matter and the gentleman said it would be to his (Martin's) advantage to consult further with him in reference to the investigation in progress. That was about the sum and substance of the matter.
The members of the House began to bombard Mr. Martin with questions.
Mr. Aspinall asked whether it was a member of the Assembly who had approached him.
"No, sir," emphatically replied Mr. Martin. Mr. Aspinall then asked him to name the briber.
Mr. Martin, with considerable show of annoyance, replied that he did not propose to be cross-examined severely by members of the House. If the gentlemen had not been so anxious and had let him alone to follow his own course, there would have been more information obtained. Then he would have ascertained the whole facts. It was now simply a question of veracity between himself and some one else unknown to the House. There was no necessity of a committee investigation. He declared that the newspaper statement that a certain number of members of the Appropriations Committee were in a position to vote, so that there would be a tie, five to five—and that he was to be the sixth was not true. He had found a most earnest desire on the part of the whole committee to make the investigation full, thorough and honest. No member had thrown the slightest obstacles in the way. The Committee did not need any egging on. He proposed in the Appropriations Committee to bring out all the facts. An intimation was made to him by the person referred to, that the action, as indicated by him, would prove to his (Martin's) financial advantage.
Mr. Ainsworth inquired what was the course of action that gentleman desired to be taken.
Mr. Martin—Well, I suppose I have got to give the whole story now. Martin then went on to say that it was stated by the gentlemen that there was apparently an intention on the part of some members of the House to make this a case of persecution, not prosecution, in other words they were going for Cole's scalp, meaning the Speaker. It was stated to him that there were other members of the Ceiling Committee involved and that he, as a member of the Appropriation Committee, could take the position of exonerating them.
Mr, Gallup asked how the members of the press learned the facts if Martin desired to keep them secret.
Mr. Martin replied that the press was fearfully and wonderfully made.
Judge Greene asked whether there was any statement made to Martin by the alleged briber to the effect that five members of the Appropriation Committee were ready to sign a white-washing report, and that he (Martin) was wanted as the sixth.
Mr. Martin said no such statement was made.
Mr. Dunlap — Was the statement made that it would be worth $5,000?
Mr. Martin — Not as to the amount.
Mr. Dunlap — How much was it to be worth?
Mr. Martin — I am not here to be criticized.
Mr. Aspinall characterized Martin's statement as a most surprising one. It was his duty to give the House the name of the briber. He (Aspinall) would not have waited as Martin had until compelled to rise in his place. He would have made the statement in the face of the attempted bribe. He denied that he had any soreness against the Speaker of the House because he did not get the places he desired on committees. He was interested in this matter because he believed the State had been robbed of $177,000 and he proposed to state his views honestly if he was the only man out of 126 who did.
The Speaker here said there had apparently been an effort on the part of some one to retard this investigation on the theory that some parties in the House, owing to personal animosity, were endeavoring to persecute the Speaker. He hoped the investigation would not stop in any way on his account. He desired it to be thorough and searching.
Mr. Ainsworth, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, said he simply desired fair treatment from the newspapers. After the committee reported, if the report was not satisfactory, they could bury him. It had been stated that he and other members of the committee had been bribed and were ready to sign a white-washing report.
Mr. Greene wanted to know the name of the reported who had written that and he would move to expel from the floor.
Mr. Ainsworth mentioned the New York paper which had stated that the members of the Appropriation Committee were evenly divided.
Mr. Greene -- then it was only an inference, not a charge.
Mr. Ainsworth then said his respect for Mr. Sheehan, who said that in the language of newspapers "he doth protest too much." Mr. Ainsworth deprecated the [ ] of Mr. Sheehan in attentions ... the speaker, the chairman and the Appropriations Committee and the Republican Legislature. He declared, the Committee would do its whole duty by probing the matter to the bottom and make an honest report if they can. The members of the committee did not ask any certificate of good character from the House.
Mr. Sheehan demanded as explanation from Mr. Ainsworth, and the latter said: "The man who cries stop, thief, is usually the one first arrested." He knew Mr. Sheehan was honest, but thought he was thin-skinned.
Mr. Sheehan declared that his conscience was clear. The Appropriation Committee had not shown proper zeal in prosecuting the inquiry. Why wait for the report of the ceiling experts before swearing any witnesses. Mr. Ainsworth states that the witnesses had been subpoenaed for tomorrow afternoon and the report of the experts was expected tomorrow.
Mr. Greene said unless the referred to above appeared before the committee and stated the source of his information, he would subpoena. Until now no person had ever spoken to him (Greene) on the subject.
Mr. Husted withdrew his motion to postpone consideration until tomorrow.
Mr. Blummenthal said the newspaper statements only confirmed what he had heard for the past ten day, namely, that the committee were five and five [illegible]
February 14, 1889, New York Herald, Page 8, Now the Plaster Begins to Fall, Several of the Legislators Already Spattered with Evidence of that Ceiling Chimborazo. ANDREWS RUN IT ALL. Speaker Cole Signed a Contract for $277,000 Without Reading the Specifications! How's That? — Enz Knew All About the Papier Mache and Rode Out with the Contractor—Martin in a Stew About His Bribery Stories—Ainsworth's Puny Defence of the Irregularities of the Committee Already Shown.
February 15, 1889, Syracuse Standard, Page 1, Column 1, Getting Very Warm.
Sensational Developments at the Assembly Ceiling Investigation.
ASSEMBLYMAN MARTIN'S STORY.
He Tells the Appropriations C ommittee How He Spurned the Tempter—A First-Class Scandal Brewing.
February 19, 1889, New York Times,No Whitewash About This; The Ceiling Commission Makes Its Report. THE ASSEMBLY CEILING IS A BOTCHED JOB. THE WORK OF SCHEMERS AND CORRUPTIONISTS. THE SENATE. ALBANY, Feb. 18.--The exposure has come officially and the committee of architectural experts inform the people of the State that they have been robbed of $105,000 and no doubt a great deal more by the construction of the Assembly ceiling. The three experts are unanimous in their opinion.
February 20, 1889, New York Times, What Ails Mr. Ainsworth; An Investigator Who Will Not Investigate. A WITNESS WHO WILL NOT TELL AND IS PATTED ON THE BACK BY AINSWORTH--FISH IS DISGUSTED. THE ASSEMBLY. THE SENATE. ALBANY, N.Y., Feb. 19.--The proceedings before the Appropriations Committee of the House to-day in the matter of the ceiling investigation were such as to convince the most unconcerned spectator that if the truth and the whole truth of this scandal is ever brought out it must be transferred to some other committee.
February 20, 1889, The Oswego Palladium, That Ceiling Matter. ASSEMBLYMAN AINSWORTH IN A WORDY WAR.
Mr. Fish and the Gentleman From Oswego at Loggerheads -- A Request for Superintendent Andrews Removal -- Legislative Proceedings.
ALBANY, Feb. 20. — There was a wordy conflict this morning between Mr. Fish and Chairman Ainsworth. Mr. Laimon's motion that every member who wishes may ask questions was carried but Mr. Fish wanted to know whether this meant what it said or whether the chairman was to be permitted to rule out questions as he saw fit. He asked a vote on that.
Mr. Ainsworth said: It is not necessary to poll the committee on a point on which they are unanimous.
Mr. Fish—It is not unanimous and no one knows it better than the Chairman.
Mr. Martin thought Mr. Fish would not make anything by being personal.
Mr. Fish (to Martin) I said if you would allow me to introduce two witnesses I thought I could settle your case.
Mr. Ainsworth declared this was disrespectful to the committee. The committee would allow any person to ask any question, subject always to the exception that if immaterial or improper it might be ruled out.
Mr. Fish—Do you refuse to allow the testimony of contractors and sub-contractors showing the amount they received and yet vote to permit Contractor Snaith to bring witnesses and experts to impeach the testimony of the experts who presented their reportss? This, indeed is a pitiable spectacle.
Mr. Ainsworth—You seem to desire a quarrel with me, Mr. Fish, but I will not quarrel with you. I am sorry I don't meet your approval.
Mr. Fish— You may meet Andrews.
The commiitee then resumed their investigation of the ceiling matter. Contractor John Smith testified at length claiming that he got the contract because he was the lowest bidder and that the work was well and faithfully done. He entered into mo arrangements with other contractors to share profits or with any state official. He contracted to do the work for $270,150--$216,150 for the ceiling and $54,000 for the staircase. The cost of papier mache was about $1,500 more than plain oak.
ALBANY, Feb. 26.—There was intense interest shown everywhere this morning in the session of the House owing to the expectation that there would be some sensational developments in the ceiling matter.
After a short discussion Mr. Fishe's resolution calling on the Capitol Commissioners (the Governor, Lieut. Governor and Speaker) to suspend Superintendent of public buildings Andrews, pending the result of the investigation into the construction of the Assembly ceiling, was carried unanimously.
Mr. Aspinwall then offered the following:
Resolved, -That the committee on appropriations in the investigation new being held on the subject of the ceiling contract, be and are hereby directed—
Mr. Greene thought this resolution, if adopted, would be a serious reflection on the committee and there was no warrant for such a course. He referred to Mr. Aspinwall as a [ ] gentleman and didn't think the house would take any such course to gratifiy any purpose unless it was neeessary to a thorough investigation.
Mr. Ainsworth denied that be intended to imply that the committee didn't intend to do their duty. The committee should thank him for his [ ] them in probing the matter to the bottom. He had a personal interest, but only to find out who robbed the State of over one hundred thousand dollars. The chairman of the appropriation committee was willing enough to allow superficial questions, but when the probe began to go under the skin he objected.
Mr. Crosby said this resolution would undoubtedly reflect on the appropriations committee and that was the very reason why be proposed to vote for it (Sensation.) He had defended the committee all through, but had changed his mind since yesterday afternoon. It seemed to him the very questions to which the Chairman of the appropriations committee objected were the very ones that should have been asked. Just as the dues were coming to the point, he stood up to block the way and prevent discovery of real facts. He was forced against his will to come te this conclusion. He was reminded of the old rhyme:
The River Rhine
He wanted to know what was going to wash the appropriations oommittee. He proposed to vote for every resolution which would increase the scope of this investigation.
Mr. Saxton thought the whole trouble was due to the fact that the whole thing had been started wrong. The House should name a competent attorney for the purpose of carrying on the prosecution. The committee sits as judges, not as counsel.
Mr. Batchellor differed with this view. The members of the committee were in no sense judges, they were more like grand juries.
Mr. Saxton explained that he referred to them as judges only as to compency or admisablity of testimony.
Mr. McMaster offered a substitute: discharging the the appropriation committee and authorizing a special committee of five appointed by the House, to carry on the investigation. Mr. McMaster made a speech not at all complimentary to the committee in which he was supported by Mr. Roesch.
Mr. Ainsworth made a long speech in defense of his committee. The committee didn't and dont desire to hinder the investigation, but are doing all in their power to push it and make it thorough.
Mr. Ainsworth then paid his respects to Mr. Fish, saying [ ] the resentments had scarcely grown cold after the legislation by which he and others had been legislated out of office. Mr. Ainsworth continued referring to Fish as his friend.
"Don't call me friend," interrupted Mr. Fish.
"Very well," retorted Mr. Aisnworth. "Then I will call you my enemy for I take you to be one."
Mr. Fish retorted with great heat that in one breath Mr. Ainsworth said he (Fish) had been removed from office and in the next regretted the actions he had [ ]
To refer to the matter at all was the act of apparant coward. His (Fish's) character would compare favorably with that of Ainsworth of telephone fame. He charged the latter with making deliberate misstatements as to what transpired before the committee. Mr. Crosby offered the following amendament to Mr. Ainsworth's resolution which was adopted:
February 21, 1889, New York Times,Fraud Most Barefaced; Even Contractor Snaith's Story Shows That. HE REFUSES TO PRODUCE HIS BOOKS AND IS SUPPORTED BY A MAJORITY OF THE COMMITTEE.
ALBANY, Feb. 20.--The Assembly Appropriations Committee continued its investigations to-day of the ceiling scandal. The committee held three to-day, one from 9 to 11, main from 3 to 7, and the third from 8 to 10.The whole trouble have been obviated by the ceiling etz feet. ... Here are the friends of the on the committee: Ainsworth, Brown, Hushes,
February 21, 1889, New York Times, Ainsworth Meets Defeat: Some Very Hot Scenes in the Assembly. THE THE MEMBERS CAN TALK ONLY ABOUT THE CEILING--SEVERAL OF THEM LOSE TEMPER. THE SENATE. HEARINGS BY COMMITTEES. ALBANY, Feb. 20.--The Assembly Chamber was packed this morning when the Speaker's gavel fell. The crowd expected a sensation, and got it. Hamilton Fish, Jr., took the floor on the resolution to suspend Superintendent Addrews.
February 21, 1889, New York Herald, Page 3, Columns 1 & 2, PEELING OFF THE FRAUD PLASTER.
Notwithstanding the Whitewash Brush of Little Ainsworth Ugly Facts Keep Creeping Out
ANDREWS MADE OUT THE BILLS.
And the Contractor Who Did the Work Had to Sign Them Without Question—The Charges for Material He Pronounces Absurd—There Was No Divvy, of Course—Andrews Has His Teeth Drawn, So Ainsworth Says— This Won't Help Ainsworth a Bit— "Terror" Fish is Determined to Bounce Ainsworth.
BIG ROW IN THE HOUSE.
The doughty Ainsworth, as you know,
Would whitewash all the rogues below,
But tell me, O ye Powers of Night.
What drug would bleach our Ainsworth white?
--Translation from Crosby.
(BY TELEGRAPH TO THE HERALD.)
ALBANY, N. Y., Feb. 20, 1889.--Mr. Ainsworth's manner when he took his seat at the head of the table in the Assembly parlor to continue the investigation of the ceiling contract showed that he needed a dressing down by the Assembly. All the morning papers were full of demands for Mr. Ainsworth's removal on grounds of his ruling in protecting the witnesses on the preceding day, but Mr. Ainsworth had failed to see the justice of this demand. He was in kicking, angry mood. This was unfortunate for him, for "Terror" Fish was in the room, cool and collected. The members of the Appropriation Committee sat around as usual, as dumb as sheep when their shepherd Ainsworth appeared.
Mr. Larmon put the first ball over the home plate by moving that every member of Assembly be allowed full opportunity to ask all the questions of the witnesses he might desire. Ainsworth hit at it, and to his surprise was caught out, because the motion was carried. Larmon's actions created a stir in the Committee, several members saying that he had evidently forgotten what had been decided on in executive session.
HE SIGHS FOR POLITICAL DEATH.
Mr. Ainsworth, with great bravery, hinted that this action of Mr. Larmon was due to the outcry in the morning papers and with becoming dignity remarked:—"I am not at all frightened by the morning papers. When I get through with this work I'll go home in a box if necessary. I have adopted a course and I intend to stand by it."
Mr. Fish pulled Ainsworth's hair a little bit by asking him if he now understood that the chairman had no power to rule out any question that might be pertinent. Ainsworth replied that he didn't so understand it. Fish said that was what Larmon meant, and Ainsworth remarked that he had given Mr. Fish full opportunity on all occasions to suggest names and question witnesses. Fish replied that he had been trying to get Mr. Ainsworth for some time to introduce two witnesses with regard to another portion of the inquiry, referring to the Martin bribery case. These two witnesses, it was generally understood in the room, which was crowded, although it was hardly nine o'clock, would materially controvert some of Mr. Martin's important statements as to who approached him with a bribe.
POOR MARTIN FEELS SHY.
Martin broke out with this exclamation, "Oh, let's get on with the ceiling investigation." Ainsworth brindled up and asked Mr. Fish, "Are you after me? I feel that I am perfectly right in this matter"
"He who excuses accused," said Fish.
Ainsworth went on to say that Fish's questions of yesterday were irrelevant, and Fish replied that he never saw such a pitiable exhibition of a chairman in his life.
"Sorry I cannot meet your views on this question," said Ainsworth.
"You certainly meet with Mr. Andrews approval," replied Fish.
There was a general laugh. Ainsworth sighed, turned pale and red by turns, and snapped out, "Well, I shall not quarrel with you, Mr. Fish."
"I hope not," says Mr. Fish, "for I can give you some very cold facts."
MAKING ANDREWS SAFE.
Ainsworth was not after facts, so he called Mr. Snaith, first stating that Superintendent Andrews was having his teeth drawn before he came to the committee; that he could not break his engagement with the dentist. Snaith, the contractor, then took the stand. He is a heavily bearded, fleshy, good looking man, apparently at ease with himself and with all the world. He said he had done considerable figuring on the ceiling job before there were any plans to figure on—before the bill was passed even. He explained that he knew the ceiling had got to come down and went right to work figuring. The original plans were drawn by Franklin H. Janes, an architect of Albany. When it came down to business Mr Snaith did the figuring in two or three days. He had no partners in the business, Tim Sullivan and a subcontractor furnishing the estimate for the iron only.
Tim, let it be remembered, was one of the unsuccessful bidders.
Snaith said there was such little difference between the papier-mache and oak that he didn't bid separately, but agreed to do the work for $270,150—$216,150 was to be for the ceiling and $54,000 for the staircase. The experts have testified that $135,000 was ample for the whole business.
AINSWORTH KEEPS THE BRUSH HANDY.
Again Mr. Ainsworth expected a lot of questions, not tending to show, as the experts had pointed out, that the bids were straw bids, but getting from Mr. Snaith statements that the bids were bona fide.
Snaith learned that papier mache was to be used from Andrews right after the contract was signed. Architect Howe testified that the change was not made until the work had progressed for some time.
Then the witness was got on to the iron work. The experts reported that the iron work was not in accordance with the specifications, and Mr. Ainsworth asked Snaith questions tending to show why less iron work was needed, which he did to Mr. Ainsworth's satisfaction. Snaith admitted that Sullivan, who, be it remembered, was underbidder on the entire work, did the iron work for him and was therefore apparently a straw bidder. Mr. Ainsworth, however, did not bring out this point.
A PRETTY KETTLE OF FISH.
Snaith finally declared that he didn't make up those bills, that he found them in Andrews' office, where he went to get his money every month, and was told he would have to sign them to get his money. He understood that Howe had made them up for Andrews, but they were not anything like the quantity of material made, and Snaith had never pretended they were. [This is a nice little development for the Comptroller (Wemple) to think over.] Snaith, in fact, never knew anything about the mouldings and a lot of other items that are in the Comptroller's vouchers.
Sheehan, Fish the terror and a lot of other gentlemen with rasps wanted to go over the smooth surface that Mr Ainsworth had put on Mr. Snaith, but Ainsworth dawdled, away the time until the House met, so that an adjournment had to be had without giving them an opportunity. The committee met again at three o'clock.
February 20, 1889, The New York Herald, Hot Words in the House; Martin Ruthlessly Scored and Ainsworth Given The Lie,
[BY TELEGRAPH TO THE HERALD.]
ALBANY, N. Y.,-—The Assembly laid the Appropriations Committee across its knee to-day. A few members then took a whack at it. Mr. Ainsworth received his punishment in the neck. Tom Creamer, who has seen stormy times, said that he never saw a livelier session in his life. Roesch denounced Martin for not telling who tried to bribe him, and "Terror" Fish and Crosbie, who has just woke up, declared that they had no further confidence in Mr. Ainsworth as chairman of the Appropriations Committee now investigating the ceiling steal.
Ainsworth's efforts yesterday to act as chairman and counselor for the men under investigation caused all this trouble, the decency and integrity of the House asserted itself in a most emphatic manner. Never before has so much vituperation and personal abuse been heard in the Assembly. Mr. Ainsworth was not spanked until some severe expressions had been used, attacking men's honor and imputing corrupt motives. Ainsworth deserved all he got. He did not get enough. Within an hour he was at his o ld tricks again as chairman of the committee. He voted against ordering Contractor Snaith to produce his books in defiance of an order of the House and will have to be disciplined again tomorrow. Mr. Fish will see to it. He will demand that Ainsworth be bounced.
The Chamber was crowded when the gavel fell as the fight to dislodge the Appropriations Committee went on. Senators dropped in until the Senate was almost empty.
It was, indeed, a lively day.
MOVING ANDREWS' REMOVAL.
The circus began in the House by Mr. Fish moving for the adoption of the resolution offered by him yesterday to suspend Superintendent of the Building Andrews.
Mr. Sheehan questioned the right to suspend and favored Andrews' expulsion. Robert Ray Hamilton, of the Cable gang, advised the Assembly to proceed with care and deliberation. He said that there was no power to suspend Andrews. Mr. Saxton said that Hamilton was clearly wrong, as the power to remove gives the power to suspend. Hamilton quieted down, and a resolution requesting the capitol trustees, which consist of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and the Speaker of the House, to suspend Mr. Andrews was unanimously carried.
Then came a storm, the like of which has not been seen in the Assembly for many years. Young Aspinall, of Brooklyn, presented a privileged resolution directing that the Appropriation Committee be required to allow any member of the Assembly to ask any pertinent question upon the investigation of the ceiling scandal now going on before it. Crosby wanted to add that it should have the power to suggest legislation to prevent further scandals of the kind, which amendment would give the committee power to commit for contempt.
POETRY FOR AINSWORTH.
"When questions are asked tending to protect the contractors," said Mr. Aspinall. wi th a terrific emphasis, "Mr. Ainsworth sits still in the committee; but when Mr. Fish, with fingers of steel and a wrist of iron, puts the knife beneath the skin Mr. Ainsworth jumps up and says the questions are impertinent and trivial."
The sensation that this caused lasted for several minutes. Finally Crosby said that the resolution did reflect upon the committee and that was why he was going to vote for it. He had privately had the highest opinion of the committee until yesterday, when he was forced to change his mind. The very questions which would tend to get at the facts necessary for the investigation Mr. Ainsworth prevented, and he (Mr. Crosby) was in favor of widening the doors and avenues which might lead to getting the true facts. Mr. Crosby finished by quoting this suggestive bit of poetry in reference to Mr Ainsworth:—
The River Rhine, It Is well known,
Doth wash the city of Cologne;
But tell me what, ye powers divine
Shall ever wash the River Rhine?
MARTIN GETS A DRUBBING.
Tim Sullivan then ran into the ring with a joke in the shape of a resolution that the committee of five should consist of Aspinall, Fish, McMaster, Hamilton and Crosby, "whose zeal, in my humble opinion, is retarding the investigation for political purposes." This bit of absurdity made a laugh, but like the farce in the play it preceded an exceedingly serious scene.
Assemblyman Roesch, of New York, visited the most terrific excoriation upon his colleague, John Martin, that has ever been visited upon any member upon the floor of the House. "The trouble," Mr. Roesch said, "arises over referring the charge of attempted bribery to the Appropriation Committee itself; Martin belonged to the committee, and the committee was asked to pass upon its own corruptibility; evidence then vanished. What can you expect of the committee," exclaimed Roesch, in thunder tones, "that retains a member who tells the story of an attempt made upon him to sell his integrity, and when asked on the floor to state the facts to this Assembly, slinks back in his tent and refuses to answer?" At this Mr. Roesch pointed to Martin and glared at him. Every eye in the Assembly was turned to Martin's seat, where he kept busy turning over the leaves of his file.
"Take this case to the Grand Jury of Albany county," went on Mr. Roesch, "before the Grand Jury of New York or to the Attorney General of this State. Let that first be investigated before we try to find out whether there are thieves outside of the Assembly."
AND AINSWORTH IS TOLD HE LIED.
Even Mr. Ainsworth turned under the iron heel that had been pressed upon him. He defended himself from the charges made by Fish and Aspinall, lamely, it is true, but still, from a lawyer's point of view, with considerable skill. In the course of this Mr. Ainsworth referred to Mr. Fish as "my friend." Fish jumped to his feet and said:—"I request the gentleman not to call me his friend. I am not his friend, but rather his enemy. Mr. Ainsworth has deliberately made misstatements as to the testimony of yesterday." This last charge Fish repeated twice, both times shaking his finger at Ainsworth in a most excited manner.
"This virtuous chairman," he continued sarcastically, "does not stand up for contractors, but he tells them they can have counsel—to bring lawyers to attack the report of experts. I asked Mr. Ainsworth to call two witnesses, and he refused on the ground that it would tend to intensify the bitter feeling of the republican party. What have we to do with the party in this matter? The late developments make it necessary to take this from the Appropriation Committee unless we wish this investigation to be futile. The investigation might as well be stopped now if we are not to have books and papers. If I had known about Mr. Ainsworth and Mr. Martin on the start I should never have voted to refer the ceiling investigation to the Appropriation Committee."
VERY PROPER RESOLUTION.
Mr. Sheehan's suggestion, that it would be proper to pass the resolution of Mr. Aspinall, was agreed to, and the debate ended with the adoption of the following resolution—
"Re solved, That the Committee on Appropriations in the investigation now being had on the subject of the ceiling contract be and they are hereby directed'.—
"First--To permit any member of the Assembly to ask any witnesses any question or questions pertinent to any matter covered by the investigation.
"Second—To compel the production of any books or papers that may be called for by any member of the Assembly."
THE AFTERNOON FARCE.
SNAITH ADMITS THAT THE CHARGES FOR TIMBER IN HIS SAME WERE ABSURD.
There was even more interest in the investigation in the afternoon after the row in the House than before. The Assembly parlor was again packed. There were several hundred men present.
John Martin continued his line of questioning on the items in the Comptroller's report.
He had signed the bills, but admitted that he did not know anything about them. Martin cornered Snaith. Reading the enormous amounts of lumber, Martin asked if there was not enough to cover the entire ceiling many times over. Snaith did not know anything about it, but had to admit that the amounts charged were absurd. He could not tell whether the amounts to which his name was signed on the Comptroller's vouchers were ever furnished. He asked for the money, and the Comptroller made no objection to paying the bills drawn in that way. Snaith finally said he signed slips and not the bills. The slips certified to the money he got. Andrews told him to sign the slips. The bills were all made out in Andrews' office.
HE WILL CONFESS LATER.
"I am willing to show up at the proper time," exclaimed Snaith when pressed hard. "Now is the time to do it," said Ainsworth. "They blame me worse than they do you."
At this there was great laughter.
Snaith complained that he had not been treated fair by the press. He was not an old fraud and a thief. Andrews, Snaith said, was at him for a long time to make a bill, long before the bill was passed or signed. Andrews gave orders for papier-mache substitute. To Sheehan Snaith said he paid Sullivan about $50,000 for the iron work. Snaith also sub-let the staircase repairing to Sullivan for $54,000, making $104,000 that Sullivan got. Sullivan was the next lowest bidder for the entire work to Snaith. He refused to say how much he had paid Sullivan for the papier-mache, and his counsel upheld him.
Billy Sheehan held that it was Snaith's duty to tell and the committee's duty to find out whether the job cost over $165,000. Snaith refused for the present, and Ainsworth stood by Hale and Snaith. Cottrell moved that Snaith be compelled to testify now as to how much he paid Sinclair. The question was finally put to the committee on Cottrell's motion. Ainsworth voted to excuse Snaith for the present; so did Brown, Stevens, Martin, Carson, Larmon, Clarke and Hughes. Cottrell, Larmon and O'Neill alone thought that Snaith ought at once to tell what the papier-mache cost. He was excused from answering at present.
AINSWORTH HELPS HIM OUT.
Martin moved for the protection of the committee that all of Snaith's books be put in charge of Ainsworth. That gentleman modestly declined to have anything to do with the books. Martin suggested that the books be given to the Attorney General. Mr. Snaith and his counsel, Hale, were taken by surprise. It would be inconvenient for Snaith to put away his books. Snaith said he wanted a fair show for his life. The press of the country had condemned him. The investigating committee was all right. If the books were to be brought they must be demanded. Other witnesses should be examined before he (Snaith) was condemned. Martin withdrew his motion, but Larmon renewed it, Snaith grew rapidly pale. It will be remembered, that the House, after spanking the committee a few hours before, had passed this resolution—
That the committee be directed to compel the production of any books or papers that may he called for by any member of the Assembly."
NOW WE HAVE THE "LIST."
That was part of Mr. Ainsworth's dose, but it did him no good. There was no need of calling the roll. The resolution of the House was plain. Ainsworth had the roll called, however, and those who voted in defiance of the Assembly resolution were Messrs. Ainsworth, Brown, Hughes, Stevens, Greene, Carson and Clarke. Those who stood by the resolution and demanded the books were Messrs. Larmon, Cottrell, Martin and O'Neill—four. Then Larmon moved that the books he produced to-morrow again. He was voted down and the Assembly defied. The motion was lost 6 to 3, Clark voting with the others in the affirmative. This was a most suggestive vote. It will cause another rumpus in the House to-morrow. Terror Fish exclaimed to Ainsworth:—"I had intended to ask some questions, but as this committee has refused to obey the mandate of the House I decline and shall state my reasons on the floor." The committee is in for another deserved drubbing, it being Mr. Fish's determination to insist on the investigation being taken out of its hands.
February 22, 1889, New York Herald, Page 5, Vain Tricks To Gain Time. Ainsworth Gets a Slight Reprieve Through the Cunning Assistance of Speaker Cole. BUT HE WILL BE BOUNCED.Cole Forgets His Dignity as Speaker and Resorts to a Mean Dodge to Muzzle "Terror" Fish -- Ainsworth's Ceiling Investigation Continued -- Even Janitor-Architect Andrews's Testimony Shows Great Criminal Carelessness and Worse.
February 24, 1889, Buffalo Morning Express, Page 1, Not So Very Bad.
THE ASSEMBLY CEILING INVESTIGATION ENDED.
No Startling Revelations Made But Gross Negligence Proved—The Celling Committee May Suffer.
ALBANY. Feb. 28—It is evident that the investigation of the Assembly ceiling is now much nearer a close than it would appear from the long reports daily given to the press. The hearing of Wednesday last occupied eight hours; that of Thursday nine hours, and that of Friday nearly as much. It looks to those who have watched the hearings closely as if the charge of very grave stealing is not proven. There is expert testimony to offset the report of the experts that over $100,000 had been paid in excess of what was necessary. The more deeply the committee questioned the Albany architect, Janes, the more evident this decision became.
The contractor, Snaith, made a good witness for himself, although he conceded that the job was not finished as well as it might have been. Supt. Andrews also conceded that he had not the necessary technical knowledge to carry on such a work, and that he was at fault for paying the contractor in excess of 80 per cent. upon work performed and for other minor matters; but in the whole testimony thus far taken the evidence of great frauds does not appear.
The question now comes to the matter of the actual performance of the contract. It is understood that the contractor is willing to finish the job in accordance with what is generally understood to have been the meaning of the specifications. This being so, it would seem that the end of the inquiry must come quite suddenly at the beginning of next week.
The testimony of Janes as to the excellent and dangerous work of Sullivan upon the Assembly staircase is corroborated by others who examined the work while it was in process of construction. It must be recalled that Andrews, and Snaith have not yet been called really in their own defense, and when that time comes there may be something disclosed which will be more to their advantage than has yet appeared.
What will be the report of the Assembly Committee on Appropriations?
The next ones upon whom they can leave the responsibility will be the members of the special committee to construct the ceiling. That this is where the great responsibility of the whole trouble rests seems evident. The more the act creating the commission and making an appropriation for the work is scanned, the more evident does it become that the original design of the act, and that for which almost every member of the legislature thought he was voting, was that the work should proceed under the supervision of the committee of Assemblymen that was thereafter to be appointed. This was the understanding during all of the discussions upon the subject, and it reads between every line of the bill itself.
But what did the committee do? It reversed the order completely. Instead of leaving the work to be done with Supt. Andrews, or such efficient help as he could get, and supervising the entire undertaking from the beginning to the end itself, this committee attends two or three short meetings, lets the contract, and then its various members stampede for their homes. Scarcely a member of the committee even put his foot in Albany after that until he came here to the following Legislature. M.
THIS PRACTICALLY ENDS IT. Contractor Snaith Shows His Books— Sullivan Made $20,000.
ALBANY, Feb. 28.—Contractor Snaith's counsel told the Appropriations Committee, investigating the Assembly-ceiling contracts this morning, that Snaith had decided to produce his books, although he did not recognize the right of the committee, or even the Legislature itself, to inspect his books relative to private transactions. He would, however, give the committee an opportunity to examine the books relative to the ceiling work, but would not allow them to remain in the committee's hands, for the reason that they contained memoranda in relation to contracts outside of the scope of the committee's investigation. The committee agreed not to insist upon retaining the books.
The chairman handed in vouchers for the expended portion of the $7,500 which Supt. Andrews mentioned in his testimony as having been paid him by the Comptroller. The memorandum shows a balance of $647 in Andrews's hands.
Judge Westbrook, Deputy Comptroller, testified in relation to the Comptroller's payment on account of the ceiling contract. He could not explain how it was that the Comptroller's office had paid Andrews $14,000 more than he should have been paid under the statute, which provided, that 20 per cent. of the amount of the contract price should be retained by the Comptroller until the work had been accepted by the State. He knew that this provision existed, but he assumed that everything was all right and honest, and he paid the money demanded without hesitation.
He understood the ceiling committee had given the Superintendent warrant to sign all estimates. He did not know that if the committee had given such power it would have been in violation of the statute. He said if overpayments were made the Superintendent and the committee, and not the Comptroller, were responsible. The $7,000 paid to Andrews without vouchers for the expenses of the committee, etc., was in accordance with the usual practice of the Comptroller's office. It had always been the custom to advance moneys to officials in order to meet contingent expenses, and the vouchers were handed in later.
At the afternoon session Contractor Snaith and his bookkeeper were examined, and the fact was brought out that Snaith's books, so far as the ceiling contract is concerned, have been altered, and that certain payments made to Sullivan for sub-contract work have been recently inserted under date of November 8th. The item of $54,000 paid to Sullivan for staircase work had been placed under that date, and an erasure of some small items had been made to make room for it.
Snaith said he did not order the changes. He told the bookkeeper that Sullivan & Ehlers's accounts had to be made up, and he probably made the changes. He acknowledged that it was an unusual matter to make changes in double-entry books. He had assigned to Sullivan the staircase work, because the work on the ceiling was so great that he had to call someone in to help him out. He said Sullivan did the work alone. He did not know why Sullivan & Ehlers were credited with work in his books, except that it was a misapprehension of facts by his bookkeeper.
He did not know why the bookkeeper put the entry of $54,000 to the credit of Sullivan & Ehlers under the date of November 8th. That was not the date of payment. He knew it was a foolish act to change the books while an investigation was pending. He had no purpose in making such a change. There had not been a final settlement between him and Sullivan. The latter's bills, in some cases, he considered excessive. He declared there was no previous arrangement by which Sullivan was to have part of his contract.
Snaith's bookkeeper, Theodore J. Cuyler, then testified. He said Snaith told him Sullivan's account ought to have been entered long ago. Witness found a space under the accounts of November 8th and inserted the item of $54,000 therein. He had to erase a small item to make room for it, carrying the small item to the bottom of the page. He made the changes to backdates on his own account, without instruction from his employer.
He said the account was not charged up at the date the transaction took place because he knew nothing about it. Snaith told him nothing about it. He drew the check to the order of Sullivan & Ehlers at the time, but did not know what for. He entered it against Sullivan & Ehlers's account.
In reply to Snaith's counsel, witness said this was the usual way of entering up sub-contract accounts.
Snaith was again questioned and said the cost of the papier-mache ceiling, including the work of putting it in, was $8,750. This item was posted on the books under the date of February 20th. He did not know why Sullivan & Ehlers's account was posted back to November 8th. He showed a letter which he said was all the contract he had with Sullivan for the staircase work. In this Snaith offered to make over the work to Sullivan at $54,000, and under Snaith's signature on the same page was Sullivan's acceptance in this shape:
I accept the work at the above proposals.
T. J. SULLIVAN.
Chairman Ainsworth asked Snaith to state the cost of the ceiling. He said the alteration in Snaith's books had raised a suspicion which did not exist before. He told witness that in time he (witness) would have to bring an action to recover the rest of his money, because the committee would report in accordance with the expert's report, which advised against paying to the contractor the balance remaining in the Comptroller's hands. He asked witness again if he would state the cost of the ceiling and work pertaining thereto. Snaith consulted with his counsel, and afterward announced that he would rather not answer the question now.
T. J. Sullivan was recalled.
He said he had not received full payment from Snaith because the latter had not received from the State all that was due to him. He said his bills against Snaith amounted to $111,540. He had received $95,746.
The committee then took a recess until 8 P. M.
At the evening session, John Brown, contractor; of Mohawk, said he had looked over the plans with the idea of making a bid for the ceiling contract, but he came to the conclusion there was not enough money in it in view of the risks to be taken.
Mr. Sullivan, recalled, said he had brought a book containing a memorandum in reference to the signing of the staircase contract.
The committee went into executive session with Sullivan present. The chairman said later that Sullivan's memorandum showed that August 2d was the date on which the contract was signed. This agreed with the contract shown by Snaith.
The investigation is now practically closed. The committee will meet again on Monday to go over the evidence already received, but will not hear any witnesses. The examination of Contractor Snaith’s books this afternoon by the subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee showed pretty clearly to the committee that Snaith made about$85,000 out of the job.
The committee believe Sullivan's profit to have been about $30,000, but in view of the nature of the work he performed they do not regard that as excessive.
February 26, 1889, New York Times, A Surprising Document; The Report on the Assembly Ceiling Fraud. THE INVESTIGATION STOPPED JUST AS THE COMMITTEE GRASPED THE CLUE TO THE REAL FACTS.
ALBANY, Feb. 25.--The Appropriations Committee that has been investigating the ceiling scandal snapped in a report to-night which threw the Assembly into mingled feelings of rage and astonishment.
February 27, 1889, New York Times, Wemple's Lame Excuse; His Illegal Payments on the Ceiling Job. A CONFERENCE OF ASSEMBLYMEN DECIDES THAT THE INVESTIGATION OF THE SCANDAL MUST GO ON. ALBANY, Feb. 26.--The same influences that were at work to-day in the Assembly to force through the snap report of the Appropriations Committee were bent toward defeating the Crosby resolution, which proposes to continue the investigation by a special committee to ascertain, if possible, where the one-hindred-and-six-thousand dollar steal went.
February 28, 1889, The Evening Telegram, Page 1, Column 1, PROBING THE FRAUD,
The Special Ceiling Committee Will Meet at Once, AND REPORT IN TEN DAYS.
Elihu Root and De Lancey Nicoll To Serve the State.
ANDREWS CANT BE MOVED.
There is No Power To Suspend Him, Says the Attorney General.
A GRIST OF NEW BILLS.
(SPECIAL DESPATCH TO THE EVENING TELEGRAM.)
ALBANY, Feb. 28.—The new Special Assembly Ceiling Committee will meet to organize this afternoon and will probably select Elihu Root and De Lancey Nicoll as counsel. It is intended to spend the recess next week on the Investigation and to have a report ready on the reassembling of the Legislature on March 11.
Judge Greene to-day announced as the names of the three members of the minority of the special committee to continue the ceiling investigation:— Messrs. Creamer, of New York; Bush, of Ulster; and McCann, of Kings.
CAN'T SUSPEND ANDREWS
On the meeting to-day of the Board of Trustees of Public Buildings, consisting of the Governor, lieutenant Governor and Speaker Cole, who were called upon by a resolution of the Assembly to suspend Superintendent of Public Buildings Andrews, an opinion of the Attorney General was read to the effect that under statute 63 the Board is vested with power absolute for the removal of the superintendent but not of his suspension, and that the right to suspend is not included in the right to remove. The Board thereupon adjourned without taking action.
March 1, 1889, The Daily Graphic, Page 3,
Hard Work For the Committee. DETERMINED THAT THE CEILING STEAL SHALL BE EXPOSED-ADJOURNMENT OF THE LEGISLATURE.
[Special to The Graphic.]
ALBANY. Match 1.—The Fish Committee, which was selected to continue the investigation into the ceiling matter, held the first open meeting this afternoon immediately after the adjournment. By this time it will be known whether or not Joseph H. Choate will be able to act as counsel to the Committee. Mr. Choate indicated late last night that he would not serve, and Mr. Fish wrote to Clarence A. Seward. Colonel George Bliss and ex-Surrogate Daniel G. Rollins may be asked to serve. The Committee will not go to work until a definite line of action has been decided on by the attorneys. The Democrats are talking of employing Francis Lynde Stetson. Expert accountants are to be employed and the books of the contractors will be thoroughly overhauled by them. The committee may continue work to-morrow. At any rate it will begin on Monday morning in earnest. Three sessions a day will be held, making at least ten hours hard work daily. The investigation at this time came hard on Hamilton Fish, Jr., the Chairman, and young Mr. Aspinwall. Both these gentlemen are Republicans and had made arraignments to go to Washington for the Inauguration. But they gave up the trip and will stay on duty until the investigation has been concluded. There is some talk of moving the investigation to New York.
In fact this would undoubtedly be done if it were not for the additional cost that would follow. But one influence that will work towards making this change is the fact that, in case any witness is guilty of perjury, an indictment can more quickly and easily be found against him in the New York courts than here in Albany. The case of the Reform Club against Assemblyman Smith is an instance of the way the Albany County Grand Jury treats matters.
The Democratic leaders of both branches of the Legislature are sore over the selection by the Democratic members of the Committee. Assemblyman Bain is as acceptable to them as any country representative could be; but the selection of "Tom" Creamer and "Pete" McCann was far from satisfactory.
But in the Democratic caucus nothing could be done by the leading Democrats. The young men simply ran away with i.t Creamer's selection was simply because he had been criticised by the newspapers on account of his mysterious railroad bill, Young Assemblyman Roesch, who has made such a fuss on the floor of the House over this matter, hardly got a complimentary vote. Assemblyman Blumenthall, who would have been a good member of the committee, was not mentioned.
The Republican members of the Assembly do not intend to squelch any Excise legislation that may be proposed. General Curtis in his anxiety to push Excise legislation tried hard to get his bill reported from his committee. But the other Republican members refused to give it precedence over the Excise Commission bill, inasmuch as there is a considerable difference of opinion regarding the two measures. They prefer to report both bills to the Assembly and let the House dispose of them as they will.
Both branches of the Legislature adjourn this afternoon until the Monday following the inauguration.
Chairman Ainsworth of the Committee on Appropriations desires to let it be known to all the State departments and people who want amounts included in the Annual Supply or the Appropriation bills, and wish to be heard, to be in Albany on March 12, 13 and 14.
March 1, 1889, The Daily Graphic, Page 4, Editorial,
The "politics in the Assembly ceiling," about which some of our excitable contemporaries are going into hysterics, because of Assemblyman Ainsworth's remark that if too ceiling had been reconstructed under other auspices Mr. Cleveland would have been re-elected, are easily understood. With a Democratic Governor in power, it has been impossible for years to put any appropriation through the Assembly at Albany and secure his approval, unless in some way his favorites are recognised, in this matter the Assembly had a choice between Mr. Perry and Mr. Andrews. It took what it thought was the lesser of two political evils forced upon them by the political partianship of a Democratic Governor. Politics made a bad job of it all around. But Mr. Ainsworth may have known what he was talking about when he intimated that if Mr. Perry had been selected there would have been power exercised by him to elect Mr. Cleveland.
March 3, 1889, New York Times, THE ASSEMBLY CEILING INQUIRY.
Hamilton Fish, Jr., and ex-Senator Thomas Creamer of the ceiling investigating committee came to town yesterday for the purpose of securing counsel.
March 5, 1889, New York Times, CONTRACTOR SNAITH WANTED.; THE SERGEANT-AT-ARMS OF THE ASSEMBLY FAILS TO FIND HIM. ALBANY, March 3.--"What has become of Contractor John Snaith?" is the question which is agitating the minds of the members of the Ceiling Investigation Committee to-night. At its session this afternoon the Sergeant-at-Arms of House reported that he had been unable to find Mr. Snaith. On Saturday morning he called at the Snaith homestead to subpoena him, but was told by the contractor's wife that her lord and master had gone to New-York and "perhaps further."
March 7, 1889, The Olean Democrat [Olean, Cattaraugus Co., N.Y.] Page 5, Column 1,
THAT ASSEMBLY CEILING. [posted at blogger]
The more light that is thrown upon the assembly ceiling steal at Albany the more interesting the investigation grows. The whitewashing report made by the appropritions committee was extremely unsatisfactory to all honest men and even the republican assembly at last has decided to probe the matter farther and attempt to find out where that missing $105,000 has gone to. A bomb exploded in the assembly chamber when the report of the appropriations committee was being discussed. Some of the republican members were criticizing Chairman Ainsworth pretty severely when he retorted: "I am not responsible for a fraud in the bill. I did not draw it. There was politics in it thicker than the panels in the ceiling. I will confess that the only reason the appropriations committee was given charge of the bill last year was to take care of politics on the eve of a presidential election. It was unwise for the appropriations committee to have taken charge of that bill and it should have refused to take it. But if it had refused we would would have elected a democrat instead of a republican president." Ainsworth had been driven to the wall. This last startling statement which had been wrung from him sent a flutter through the galleries, and caused a loud buzzing of surprise in the crowd about the bar.
In speaking on the report General Batcheller declared "that it was a sham ceiling and an outrage to put in such a building as the capitol. It been wrong to let any member of the assembly have anything to do with its construction." Since the carelessness of the ceiling commission had been exposed he had been approached with appeals to shield them from censure of a political and personal and family nature that had been hard to withstand. Yet they had caused to be erected in a magnificent chamber a ceiling composed of eighty per cent plaster of paris, fifteen per cent of wood pulp and and five per cent of alum water. The committee has been taken in like a countryman at a country fair. Mr. Ainsworth tells us if Perry had been chose for the work Cleveland would have been elected. Then Andrews selection must have elected Harrison. "That is the only redeeming feature of the work."
When republicans themselves make such confessions of trickery and dereliction of duty the matter must be in a pitiable plight indeed. The whitewashing report was adopt however by a strictly party vote. Messrs Fish of Putnam, Aspinwall of Brooklyn, King of New York, McMaster of Stuben, republicans; Creamer of New York, McCann of Brooklyn and Bush of Ulster, democrats, were appointed a special committee to reinvestigate the whole sorry business, with power to select counsel, send for books and papers and to sit where it chose for the sole purpose of finding out, if possible, where the $105,000 or any portion of it has gone. The new committee is generally considered to be made up of clean, level headed men who will make the investigation thorough and complete. It is very evident that the assembly must discover and punish the offenders or imperil the popular confidence which is already pretty badly shaken.
March 7, 1889, The Daily Graphic, Snaith on the Wing.
The Ceiling Contractor Takes a Trip For His Health. SEEKING THE SALUBRIOUS BREEZES OF PHILADELPHIA - HIS BOOKS FOLLOW HIM-THE BOIL ON ATTORNEY-GENERAL TABOR'S NOSE.
ALBANY, March 7.—There has been a general exodus from here of nearly every one who could throw any light upon the Assembly ceiling steal. Among the missing ones are John Snaith, the contractor; Mrs. Andrews, wife of Superintendent Andrews; Rowe, the architect; Secretary of State Cook, Attorney General Tabor, Comptroller Wemple, Deputy State Treasurer Daunforth and State Treasurer Fitzgerald. One reason which was given for the absence of the Attorney-General is that he has a boil on his nose. Boils are extremely painful affairs, but sharp questioning by shrewd lawyers is frequently more painful; therefore, of the two evils, he took the least. Two important witnesses were obtained, however, at the session of the Fish Committee yesterday.
The first was William Young, a mild and innocent-looking young man, who brought with him a strong flavor of French perfumery. He takes care of Contractor Snaith's house. The last time that he could recall having seen his employer was over a week ago. But on Sunday last he was told by Mrs. Snaith that the family was going away the next day and he would have to look after things. This he has been doing ever since. At the time he last saw Snaith, Rowe, the architect, was with him, and Young was ordered to take a valise which the architect gave him to rooms in Chestnut street. This was after midnight, and he thought that the valise belonged to Snaith. Much more about the mysterious movements of Snaith and Rowe Young could not tell, and it took him two hours to tell what he did. While talking he said that a young man named McGuire really had charge of Snaith's house now and was deep in the absent contractor's confidences.
McGuire was called, but did not answer to his name and he might have escaped altogether had it not been for Hugh Hastings, a correspondent for a New York paper, to whom McGuire was pointed out by a workman. Mr. Hastings immediately informed the chairman of the committee and the Sergeant-at-Arms was after him with a subpoena in an instant. The young man proved to be J. P. McGuire, a graduate of Cornell University. He went to Philadelphia on Tuesday, because Snaith telegraphed to him from there on last Friday, and told him where he could be found. He returned to get from Snaith's safe the books which the investigating committee were very anxious to get their fingers on, and took them to Philadelphia, where he again met Snaith. Rowe was there at the time he arrived with the books. Before going this time he drew from the Commercial Bank $2,500, which he gave to Snaith in Philadelphia Judge Frothingham, who is one of Snait's attorneys, sent out an interview with himself through the Associated Press last night, in which he declared that Mr. Snaith was outside the jurisdiction of the State with his books and papers, and will stay there until he is allowed to be represented by counsel at the investigation.
Clarence A. Steward and John M. Bowers, the two lawyers who are acting as attorneys for the Investigating Committee, are doing as good work as they can under the circumstances. The important witnesses which they had subpoenaed, or wanted to, have, either skipped out or cannot be found. It is curious, too, that Comptroller Wemple, who paid the contractor $14,000 more than he should have got up to this time, finds it convenient to be out of town just when he is wanted by the committee. He was away when the Appropriations Committee wanted him, and he is now away when the Fish Committee would like to ply him with questions.
If the Chief of Police here had one-tenth part of Inspector Byrnes's energy all of these people would not have been allowed to escape. He was appealed to by members of the committee, but nothing was done by him to prevent their getting away. The members of the Fish Committee held a long secret session last night, and discussed further action to be taken by it.
March 7, 1889, New York Times, Snaith's Flight Proved; His Tell-Tale Books Went After Him. THE FUGITIVE CONTRACTOR FURNISHED WITH AMPLE FUNDS TO KEEP CLEAR OF THE Committee.
ALBANY, March 6.--Three months ago John Snaith was considered one of the most honored contrastors in New-York State. To-day he is occupying the position of a fugitive from justice. The disposition which he betrayed to bring his books before Mr. Ainsworth's appropriations committee is only equaled by his indisposition...
March 8, 1889, New York Times, SNAITH'S BANK ACCOUNT; CAREFULLY ANALYZED BY EXPERT YALDEN. THE CEILING COMMITTEE GETTING AT THE BOTTOM FACTS OF THE GREAT SCANDAL SLOWLY. ALBANY, March 7.--It is plain from the developments in the ceiling scandal since the Fish committee began to angle for facts that the public must expect a tall amount of lying before the thing is finished. The matter has reached such a pass that the people who are involved.
March 9, 1889, New York Times, Ainsworth in a Rage; He Does Not Enjoy His Position as a Witness. SUPERINTENDENT ANDREWS MAKES DAMAGING ADMISSIONS AND IS WILLINGTO BEAR EVERYBODY'S LOAD. ALBANY, March 8.--The Fish investigating committee is proceeding slowly in its work, but none the less surely. The counsel to the committee, Messrs. Clarence Seward and John M. Bowers, are winning encomiums for their masterly handling of the case.
March 11, 1889, New York Times, Page 5, Editorial,
Unless Snaith returns with his books, or Andrews's conscience overwhelms him, no startling developments can be looked for in the ceiling investigation, unless the time of the committee is extended. Mr. Fish has up to Thursday in which to make his report Naturally enough no one expects to see Snaith, Mrs. Andrews, ar Bookkeepers Burch and Cuyler return by that time. The presence of these persons is imperative to prove what Ainsworth's committee refused to prove, the deep-laid conspiracy, and the monumental steal connected with this work. The necessity, therefore, of extending the time of the committee can be seen at a glance. Mr. Snaith cannot afford to remain away from Albany six months, nor is it likely that he would consent to pay the expenses of Messrs. Burch and Cuyler for that length of time. The absence of all these persons proves most convincingly that corruption of some kind was practiced. Mr. Burch. the confidential bookkeeper for Snaith, who was hustled out of Albany a week before the Ainsworth committee began its work, returned last Tuesday from Bermuda. That same night he departed for the West. The profits of the job must have been heavily eaten into in order to pay the traveling expenses and boarding house fees of all these departed patriots.
Two episodes occurrded during last week's investigation which go to prove what a conscienceless individual the average legislator is, and what a particularly incompetent set handled this Ceiling bill last year. John L. Platt, who, with a number of shares of stock of the company in his pocket, passed the Poughkeepsie Bridge bill in the House, declared that in view of all that had taken place in this ceiling scandal, he would do it all over again. And Ainsworth of Oswego, who, as Chairman of the committee reported the bill that Platt drew, exclaimed with much warmth: "I would do as Mr. Snaith has done and run away under the same circumstances. He has done perfectly right. This committee should allow him to be represented by counsel."
"Do you know," asked Chairman Fish, "that Mr. Snaith fled three days before his application was made to be represented by counsel?"
"O, that's a different thing," exclaimed Ainsworth, coloring slightly. "I was not aware of it."
His uncalled-for remark was but another evidence only too marked, when he was conducting his investigation, of his sympathy for and his desire to shield the contractor and his pals.
Thus far, with no one yet to turn State's evidence, the committee has brought to light by the hardest kind of mining the strongest proofs of a deep-laid conspiracy against the state. It has been proved that Snaith first brought Andrews's attention to Janes, the architect who first began to draw the original plans, in February, 1888; that Snaith recommended Rowe, the imposter, who posed as an architect and who mangled the plans that Janes drew and the beautiful chamber that Edlitz first made; that Andrews made his estimate to the Appropriations Committee on figures furnished him by Snaith and Sullivan, and that this committee accepted the figures of this janitor without asking him who made them or who gave them to him, and rejected the estimates furnished by Superintendent Perry. It has also been shown that the $2,500 for architect services furnished by the Ceiling Committee were tured over to paid employes of Snaith or Sullivan, and that at no time while the work was under way was a bona fide architect representing the State employed. Andrews admitted on the stand that he was incompetent to do the work, and the whole thing was therefore left in the hands of Contractor Snaith and Contractor Snaith's alleged architects, whom the State compensated. Here is evidence enough to send some one to State prison, and it seems only justice to the State that an example should be made of the person who, under oath, has frankly assumed the entire responsibility. With one or two of these conspirators behind the bars the truth may come out. It can hardly appear until the State starts the whole of its powerful machinery to hound these rascals down.
The investigtion has proved one thing—D. E. Ainsworth of Sandy Creek will remove to Salt Creek when the next Speakership campaign blooms again.
March 14, 1889, Documents of the AssemAssembly of the State of New York, Report of the Committee on Appropriations on Assembly Ceiling Investigation. 4 p.m.
March 16, 1889, New York Times, SENATORS IN A FLURRY; IT IS CREATED BY MAYOR GRANT'S BILL. ASSEMBLYMAN CROSBY CARRIES HIS POINT--TREMENDOUS RUSH OF BILLS AT THE FINISH. THE ASSEMBLY. THE SENATE. ALBANY, March 15.--It was railroad day and Boss day in the Legislature. The Senate Railroad Committee reported the Cable Railway bill through the influence of Boss Smith O'Brien of Albany County, and Mayor Grant's Rapid Transit bill was referred, in the Senate, after a hot fight, to the Railroad Committee, through the...
March 31, 1889, New York Times, Page 16, Column 2, SNAITH'S TRICKERY.
SOME EVIDENCE ELICITED AT THE ASSEMBLY CEILING COMMITTEE.
The special Assembly committee which has in charge the investigation of the Assembly ceiling scandal held an executive session yesterday afternoon in the offices of Clarence A. Seward. There were present of the committee Hamilton Fish, Jr., Messrs. Creamer, McMaster, and King. The delinquent members were Assemblymen Asninall and McCane.
There were but two witnesaes examined—ex-Assemblyman George S. Weed of Plattsburg and Frederick Wolf of the firm of F. & J. C. Wolf, which supplied Contractor Snaith with the stained glass required for the Capitol Job. J. C. Wolf was subpoenaed before the committee at one of its recent meetings in Albany, but his testimony proved so unsatisfactory and he displayed such marvelous ignorance of the firm's business that counsel decided to summon the brother. It was a happy thought, for from the testimony of Frederick Wolf another strand has been woven in the rope of evidence which is gradually encircling John Snaith.
The witness swore that the glass furnished by his firm was not first-class "cathedral" glass, as called for in the Snaith contract with the State, but of an inferior quality; that Snaith agreed to pay him $3 a foot for the required amount, but requested him to charge $6 a foot for the glass in his bill, and also to furnish him with vouchors showing that he had been paid at the latter rate. The witness did not consider this fabrication anything out of the way, saying that he would gladly have put any price to his bill to please his friend Snaith. In looking over the books of the firm the counsel discovered that the original order was entered on page 121, and that the corner of this page, where the price per foot and the total amount of the bill had evidently been written, was torn oft. The same order was found on page 131, with the price of the glass given at $6 per foot less commission, which witness swore was 50 per cent.
Wolf produced a letter written by the alleged architect, Arthur H. Rowe, to his brother and himself and dated Tennessee Club, Memphis, March 16. It reads:
DEAR BOYS; I am living here and am playing in great luck. Expect to get a sixty-thouasand-dollar church and a theatre besides. I see that that fellow Sinclair (one of the straw bidders.) has been testifying that I went to the theatre with him. What a liar! I But I guess after all that he is all right. If I get this work I shall want you to furnish the glass. I hope you will write and tell me what is going on.
Yours. &c., ARTHUR H. ROWE.
Merely as a matter of form Mr. Weed was called upon to show his bank books, which were duly inspected by the committee. They contained nothing of interest to any one besides their owner. He answered several questions put to him by Mr. Bowers regarding the letting of the contract last Spring, which corroborated the testimony given by the other members of the unfortunate ceiling committee. Witness remembered that Superintendent Andrews seemed in great haste that the bids be opened and the contract let. It was his impression that Mr. Cole had told the committee tbat he expected to be in Albany off and on during the Summer, and that if it was nceessary he would call a meetmg of the full committee. He rather expected to receive such a eall, but never did.
On the advice of counsel the committee refused to make public the report the sub-committee which has recently visited Ithaca and Watkins in the hope of unearthing certain facts which would throw light on the investigation. It is understood that Messrs. Bush and McMaster took little or no testimony in Speaker Cole's home, and diacovered nothing of special consequence. The committee adjourned to meet again in Albany on Wednesday next.
April 4, 1889, New York Times, The High License Bill; Passed by the Assembly After a Long Fight. Charges of Bad Faith Bandied on Both Sides of the House and and All Amendments Voted Down. THE SENATE. TO CORRUPT THE SCHOOL BOARD. THE RAPID TRANSIT BILL. ALBANY, April 3.--The Crosby High License bill passed the House this morning and was sent to the Senate in the shape approved by the Republican caucus two weeks ago. Republican votes passed it, and Democratic votes, as usual, opposed it. Word was passed by the Republican leaders that under no circumstances.
April 24, 1889, New York Times, GIVING THE LIE DIRECT; A DISGRACEFUL SCENE IN THE ASSEMBLY CHAMBER. BITTER WRANGLE OVER ELEVATED RAILROAD TAXATION--THE VEDDER WHISKY BILL PASSES THE SENATE. THE ASSEMBLY. THE SENATE.
ALBANY, April 23.--There are two Senators of the State who are very much disgusted with the peanut politics which their colleagues are displaying in the treatment of great public measures, particularly those which affect the city of New-York, Messrs. Van Cott and Hendricks.
April 24, 1889, New York Times, Page 4, Editorial,
The report of the Assembly committee on the ceiling scandal is the lame and impotent conclusion to one of the most impudent jobs in the history of the State or of the country. It is officially declared that Andrews and Snaith are bad men, and that Cole and his committee are careless men. These declarations will break no bones, and will not even penetrate the shins of anybody concerned, since nature seems to have provided them all with cuticles impervious to mere censure that does not involve a privation of liberty or property. Andrews is not even removed, nor likely to be, Snaith can come back and re-engage in the contracting business, while the men who actually pocketed the plunder are not even mentioned in the report. Upon the whole, nothing could have been better adapted to encourage the future plundering of the State than the impunity that has attended this robbery.
May 10, 1889, New York Times, THAT ASSEMBLY CEILING.; THE SENATE.
After a month's delay, the report of the Fish committee was handed in this morning, all the members having signed it, Although Mr. McCann of Kings had put his name to the report,
May 15, 1889, New York Times,A GREAT DAY FOR SNAITH; HE MAY GO BACK NOW AND FINISH THE CEILING. THE ASSEMBLY SETS ASIDE THE FISH REPORT AND ADOPTS THAT OF THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE. THE SENATE. ALBANY, May 14.--There is exultation in Albany to-night; all the thieves and highwaymen are in ecstacies.
May 18, 1889, New York Times, COST OF A VINDICATION; THE STATE PAYING FOR AINSWIRTH'S BENEFIT. THE CEILING SCANDAL AND THE STATE APPROPRIATIONS--WHY THE TAX RATE IS SO MUCH LARGER. ALBANY, May 17.--It was an expensive matter to the taxpayers of the State when the Assembly the other day voted to substitute the report of the Ainsworth Appropriations.
July 14, 1889, The World: New York, Page 5, Column 1, GHOSTS OF THE TWEED RING.
The New Court-House and Other Public-Building Scandals.
September 10, 1889, New York Herald, Page 6, Column 3, Editorial, You Cant Pull Wool Over the Peoples Eyes, Gentlemen.
If you want a right hearty laugh, or if you want to get downright mad, read the despatch from Albany which we print elsewhere.
The ceiling fraud is in court at last. The judge gravely charges the jury in a voi ce of sonorous solemnity. Attorney General Tabor declares that the case is one of prime importance, but does not explain why he failed to take it up until compelled to by an enraged public opinion.
Two of the jurors declare that they are personal friends of the men to be prosecuted. The Judge in sepulchre tones asks them if this friendship will interfere with their ability to render a just verdict. They reply, "Certainly not," at which, the Judge cordially invites them to retain their seats.
District Attorney Reilly is also tarred with that brush. He is on terms of sufficient intimacy with Sullivan to go off with him on his yacht for a high old time, and the report is that he had it.
All this eagerness for a prosecut ion is a farce and a humbug.
We predict that there will be no indictment, or if there is that no conviction will follow, and that the whole business will be another instance of whitewash.
September 10, 1889, New York Herald, Page 10, Column 3, MORE FARCICAL THAN EVER. Attorney General Tabor Calls the Attention of the Grand Jury to the Ceiling Fraud. SPECIAL ATTENTION INVITED.
Friends of Superintendent Andrews Among the Jurors.
September 22, 1889, New York Times, THE ASSEMBLY CEILING.
ALBANY, Sept. 21.--The Grand Jury failed to find an indictment in the matter of the alleged Assembly ceiling conspiracy. It is understood that they voted: For indictment, 9; against, 10. The Attorney General, with the approval of District Attorney Reilly, asked that the ceiling case be ordered to be heard by the Grand Jury of the Court of Oyer and Terminer, which meets on Oct. 7. Judge Nott directed that the order be taken.
[September 25, 1889] The Nation Vol. XLIX. July 1, 1889 to December 31, 1889 page 241, Mr. Ainsworth, who told the truth in the New York Assembly last winter about the ceiling scandal, ... Mr. Ainsworth was chairman of the Appropriations Committee, and conducted the first investigation of the ceiling expenditures.
October 18, 1889, New York Times, THE ASSEMBLY CEILING CASE.
ALBANY, N.Y., Oct. 17.--The Grand Jury came into court this morning, made their presentments, and were discharged. Not a word was said about the Assembly ceiling case, although three sealed indictments were handed in. As to the nature of these indictments nothing could be learned, but it is not believed they are directed against any of the ceiling conspirators.
October 24, 1889, New York Times, SMITH'S JURY STILL OUT; AND THE ASSEMBLYMAN'S FATE IS UNDECIDED. SEVEN TO FIVE FOR CONVICTION SAID TO BE THE WAY THE VOTE STOOD LAST NIGHT. After more than five hours of deliberation the jury in the case of Assemblyman "Silver Dollar" Smith at 10:15 o'clock last night announced that they were unable to agree, and they were locked up in the jury room of the General Sessions Building for the night.
September 22, 1889, New York Times, THE ASSEMBLY CEILING.
ALBANY, Sept. 21.--The Grand Jury failed to find an indictment in the matter of the alleged Assembly ceiling conspiracy. It is understood that they voted: For indictment, 9; against, 10. The Attorney General, with the approval of District Attorney Reilly, asked that the ceiling case be ordered to be heard by the Grand Jury of the Court of Oyer and Terminer, which meets on Oct. 7. Judge Nott directed that the order be taken.
November 3, 1889, New York Times, Page 4, Editorial Endorsements. THE STATE CANDIDATES.
The Times has already given counsel to its readers in regard to the candidates for State offices whom it thinks most worthy of their support at the polls on Tuesday. The advice we have given cuts across both tickets in a somewhat independent fashion, but we think the reasons we have set forth should appeal to voters who, like The Times, in a contest of this kind are guided solely by a desire to elect the best candidates and promote the cause of good government. As we continue to receive letters asking for information and advice about the State tickets, we will repeat briefly the suggestions we have already made.
Mr. Frank Rice ought to be elected Secretary of State because he is a much abler and sounder man than his opponent, Mr. John I. Gilbert, the Republican candidate. Mr. Rice is a representative of the best tendencies of the Democratic Party, and would make an admirable administrative officer.
On the other hand, Mr. Martin W. Cooke of Rochester, the Republican candidate for Controller, is more deserving of support than his Democratic opponent, Mr. Wemple. The taint of the ceiling scandal rests upon Mr. We.mple, not through his direct connection with it, but because as Controller he neglected his plain duty and by his inaction contributed to the success of the jobbers. Mr. Cooke is a lawyer of ability and high standing.
Mr. Ira M. Hedges, the Republican candidate for State Treasurer, is also to be preferred to the Democratic candidate, Mr. Danforth. Mr. Danforth is a Hill politician. He would use his office, so far as he could, to promote Gov. Hill's schemes. His general fitness for the place is distinctly inferior to that of Mr. Hedges, whose business training amply qualifies him for the duties of State Treasurer.
Attorney General Tabor, like Controller Wemple, was guilty of official neglect and indiflerence in regard to the ceiling swindle. He deserves defeat for that reason. Mr. James M. Varnum, the Republican candidate for Attorney General, is a much better lawyer and an abler man than Mr. Tabor. Independent voters, can support him with hearty good will.
November 9, 1889, New York Times, THE ASSEMBLY CEILING CASE.
UTICA, N.Y., Nov. 8.--On Oct. 19, before Judge Milton H. Merwin, at a special term of the Supreme Court held in this city, an argument was had on a motion to vacate an order of arrest by which contractors John Snaith.
December 19, 1889, New York Times, THE ASSEMBLY CEILING.; ATTORNEY GENERAL TABOR'S ANSWER TO THE CLAIM OF SNAITH.
ALBANY, Dec. 18.--Attorney General Tabor has filed his answer with the State Board of Claims to the claim filed by the Assembly ceiling contractor, John Snaith, for the balance of over $39,000, which he claims to be still due.