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doubtless merit your attention. The gross amount of the University fund, on the first day of January, amounted to $161,146 61. The amount of income applicable to the support of this institution for the present year, including the accruing interest for 1855, is $12,405 45.
The report of the Bank Comptroller enables me to lay before you reliable information, concerning the operations of the various banks, under the General Banking law of the State. It appears that the whole number of Banks established, and transacting business, under the law is twenty-four, with an aggregate capital of $1,450,000 00. The amount of securities, consisting entirely of State Stocks, deposited with the Comptroller, is $1,033,000 00; upon which the issue of circulating notes, amounted on the first day of the present year, to $937,592 00-yielding a revenue to the State, by tax, for the year 1854, of $18,165.63.
It is a gratifying fact, and one upon which we may congratulate ourselves, that thus far the practical working of our banking system, gives evidence of its superiority over many, if not over all, those adopted by other States. Notwithstanding the numerous failures of banking institutions in other States, and the money panic, which of late has so generally prevailed, but one of the institutions, organized under the general law of this State, is reported to have failed, to redeem promptly its notes. As an evidence of great determination, on the part of bankers, to merit confidence, in nearly every instance, upon the request of the Comptroller, additional securities have been deposited, to an amount corresponding with the recent decline in the market value of stocks; or by the return to the Comptroller, of an amount of circulating notes, equal to such depreciation. The promptness evinced by the banks, in thus responding, and the sound discretion exercised in the management of a department so important, to the credit and business interests of the State, cannot but command yonr approbation.
Our banking law, although generally regarded as being as well adapted to secure the interests of the bill holder, as any which
could well be framed, yet it is not void of defects, which are pointed out in the report of the Comptroller, and will, I trust, recieve your attentive consideration, and in that connection it may be well to consider whether there is not a class of securities within our own State, of the nature of bonds issued by some of the principal cities, that may under proper restrictions be received as the basis of banking.
The present unsettled condition of monetary affairs, which is pervading the country so generally, and more recently brought nearer home to us, with increased deleterious effects, in consequence of numerous Bank failures in neighboring States, induces me to invite you to the examination of the subject, and urge upon you the necessity of such enactments as will, as far as practicable, provide a remedy, and protect the people against the imposition and fraud, so frequently practiced by the introduction and circulation of doubtful currency, brought to our State and forced into very general use--not unfrequently through the aid of our local bankers, who neither hold themselves responsible for its redemption, nor make it a source of revenue to the State, by the payment of a tax upon the capital, if any there is, thus employed. The effects of this practice upon the legitimate business of banking, under the law of this State, is to discourage, and frequently cripple those institutions which were established in good faith under it. For while the banker, under our law, is required to amply secure every dollar issued-redeem those issues, on demand, in coin, and pay a State tax upon his whole capital, he is frequently compelled, in self defence, to place foreign insecure issues, to a certain extent, upon an equality with his own—thereby giving countenance and credit to a currency, having its origin in parts too for removed to insure safety, and liable, sooner or later, to become worthless to the holder.
Viewing this matter in the light I do, I can arrive at no other conclusion, than that justice to the State, as well as the banking institutions established under its laws, and the safety of the bill holder, demand of you, either to provide for prohibiting the
circulation of all foreign bank notes, not secured in a manner equal to our own; or, at least, require as far as practicable, such bankers as may issue foreign notes, to treat them in all respects as their own currency, issued in conformity to our banking law, and render it, subject to the same requirements, in every important particular.
A report, in detail, of the condition and wants of the State Prison, is submitted by the Commissioner thereof, to which I invite your early and careful attention. During the year 1853, Henry Brown, then Commissioner, contracted with Andrew Proudfit, to erect the stone work of the south wing of the permanent Prison building. Subsequently, the present Commissioner made other contracts, for the remaining portions of the work, and material necessary for the completion of the same. The whole structure is now very nearly finished, and it is intended to place the convicts within it, during the present month. This building is of the most permanent and substantial character, being fire proof, 200 by 50 feet, four stories high, and containing two hundred and eighty-eight cells, and it is to be hoped, will be sufficient for the purposes intended, for many years to come. As a matter of just convenience to the officers in charge, and for the purpose of ensuring against escapes, the main building ought to be erected, as soon as the means for that purpose, without embarrassing the Treasury, can be appropriated. While convict labor has contributed much toward the erection of the building, still there is yet, over and above all former appropriations, made for that object, a, large sum due to contractors—beside considerable balances, for the maintenance and management of the prison, which it will be your duty to examine into, and provide for. Provision was made, at the last session of the Legislature, for rewarding convicts for overwork. While this principle may be just and worthy in its tendencies, I regard the practice of paying to the convicts themselves, any portion of such earnings, until after their discharge, as liable to work great evils, by being improperly uscd, as they not unfrequently are, and in a manner affecting the prison discipline, and the security of prison
ers. If such earnings can be confined to the support of the families of the convicts, where they may have them, during their imprisonment, and in cases where they have no families, the money be retained until the discharge of the convict, the main objections. to the practice of rewarding them for their labor is, in my mind, overcome. The question whether convict labor can be profitably employed, without working a serious injury to such of our citizens as are engaged in the mechanical or manufacturing pursuits, has often been seriously discussed, and it is still doubtful what may be the duty of the State in the premises. Now that comparatively little labor will, for some years to come, be required of the convicts, in the erection of prison buildings, and entertaining grave doubts, both as to the policy and propriety of the states engaging in manufacturing articles for sale, by convict labor, I submit to your consideration, the propriety of authorizing the letting, to the highest bidder, for a term of years, such of said labor, to be used within the prison enclosure, as cannot be profitably employed by the State, in the erection of buildings, requiring the contractor, to furnish his own tools and shops for such labor; Thus throwing the whole matter open to competition, and relieving the State of great responsibility and perplexity connected with the same.
In my first message to the Legislature, I urged upon their attention, the propriety of adopting the preliminary measures to secure the erection of an Institution for the benefit of the insane.An act was passed at that session, authorising the Govornor to appoint three commissioners and a Superintendant, who were clothed by law with power to purchase suitable grounds and to erect the necessary buildings. In April last the appointments contemplated by that act were made, since which time, appropriate grounds for that purpose near the village of Madison have been purchased and conveyed to the State, and contracts entered into for the erection of buildings, upon the most modern and approved plans. The main building and two wings are, by the terms of the contract, to be in readiness for the reception of patients, by the : first day of January, 1856. The appropriation for this object be
, ing small compared with the magnitude of the work, was evidently intended simply to secure the commencement of the undertaking. As to the propriety of prosecuting with energy, such an undertaking so praiseworthy and just in its character, I need not here urge upon you,' further than to say, that more aid is indispensable, and will, I trust, be found at your hands. For information in detail, concerning the transactions of the Commission ers and Snperintendant, and the condition and wants of the Institution, I refer you to the reports of the officers in charge.
The prosperous condition" of the Institutions established for the education of the Blind and Deaf and Dumb, as is more fully shown by the reports of the respective boards of Trustees, is well worthy of notice. Indications of correct and judicious management by those in charge of them are apparent. The provision heretofore made by the Legislature for the establishment of these charatable institutions, must be regarded as having been bestowed upon objects worthy and humane in their character, and as meeting only the demands of simple justice to the unfortunate of those classes. And while I hold it to be our duty, to make ample provision for those objects, and in no event to fail to provide annually for their free support, I cannot in view of the liberal provision before made for them, and the insufficient provision made for other institutions (similar in their character, consistently urge at this time your making appropriations for the purpose of materially enlarging their buildings during the present year, to any more than the completion of such portions, as are already commenced. In support of this, I refer to the reports which exhibit the number of pupils in each, as being much less than equal to the accommodations provided, and from the best information I am enabled to obtain, will be found ample for the present year. The propriety of providing by law, however, at the present session for the ultimate extension and completion of the buildings, according to the plans adopted, in my, judgment, is unquestionable; and to that end, such provision at the present session as will accomplish that object, within the necessary space_of_time, I am cheerfully dis