« FöregåendeFortsätt »
either protested, or objections taken to the mode of conveyance, and the passenger, instead of going upon the railroad or packet boat, as agreed upon, is thrust inio the steerage or hold of a line boat, where he is often known to complain—when the only evidence he can furnish of the fraud committed upon him is to exhibit his ticket with a picture of three horses, when the line boats are only drawn by two.
A pretence is also often set up for not honoring these tickets, that the freigłt is not paid, or at least that enough has not been paid upon the luggage, and the emigrant.is either detained at Albany, or compelled to pay additional charges.
It will be seen from the testimony taken, that immense sums of money are drawn from these emigrants by overcharging, both for their fare, and the freight of their luggage ; and not satisfied with this, some of the persons engaged in this forwarding business are in the habit of defrauding them in the weight of their luggage, by using false scales, and giving false stateidents of the amounts forwarded. And upon this subject they would call the attention of the House to the testimony relating to a certain well known establishment in the city of Albany.
It is impossible for your committee in this report, nor do they deem it necessary to go into the details of all the virious modes and devices resorted to to defraud these persons. In the great mass of testimony they have taken, will be found facts bearing upon all these particulars.
In the course of the investigation by your committee in the city of New-York, they felt themselves called upon to make some inquiry into the conduct of the commissioners of emigration, who, under the act of last winter, have been clothed with high powers, and charged with the most responsible duties. In furtherance of this object, they took occasion to visit Staten Island, and examine the temporary buildings erected by them for the accommodation of the unexpected number of sick and destitute emigrants arriving at quarantine, durir.g the last summer; and they feel called upon to state that they found said buildings in as good order and as comfortable as could be expected under the circumstances attending their erec
tion. They also embraced that opportunity to visit the hospitals ander the control of the commission-rs of health, and feel a just pride in bearing testimony to the good order, neatness and comfort, wbich they found to exist in all the various branches of that department.
Your committee also visited the establishment upon Ward's Island, und r the control of the commissioners of emigration, and were they had leased a large building which had not been occupied for many years, and which they have fitted up as a retreat for the sick and destitute emigrants, which could not be accommodated elsewhere. Your committee also feel that it is due to these commissioners to say, that, in their judgment, they are entitled to great credit for the energy and perseverance displayed by them in procuring and fitting up said buildings and grounds upon that island under the most adverse and trying circumstances, where the whole country for miles around was alarmed by the fears created by the ship fever, and when they had hundreds of sick and destitute emigrants upon their hands without shelter or food.
In the course of the testimony, taken in relation to the conduct of the commissioners, it appeared by one wiiness, (Dr. Van Hovenburgh,) that upon one or two occasions, the Hospital at Staten Island was furnished with an ordinary or inferior quality of bread and medicines, but it does not appear that the fact was ever brought to the knowledge of said coinmissioners; whilst, on the other hand, it appears from the testimony of Dr. Harcourt, the first mate of the hospital and deputy health officer, that “the articles of medicines and other stores furnished by the commissioners of emigration were good.
Your committee regret that their short stay in the city of NewYork, prevented them from investigating as thoroughly as they desired the conduct of the Commissioners of Emigration, but feel called upon to state, that so far as your committee have examined into their proceeilings, they have not been able to discover any abuse by them of the authority or power conferred upon them. On the contrary, so far as your committee have looked into their proceedings, they have foun.I that they have discharged their duties
in a manner which shows that the confidence reposed in them by those who appointed them has not been misplaced. And your committee believe that the public, and particularly the friends of the emigrant owe them a lasting debt of gratitude for their extracrdinary zeal and incessant labors in providing for the multitude of sick, distressed and friendless emigrants thrown upon their hands during the past summer.
Your committee have discovered some little strife and apparent conflicting interests between the Board of Health and the Commissioners of Emigration, but they do not consider it as coming within their province to discuss these differences or recommend any action, although there may be found some testimony in the annexed documents bearing upon the subject.
Whilst your committee are compelled to acknowledge that they have been very much aided in their investigations by the kindness and courtesy extended to them by the officers of various emigrant societies, yet, a sense of duty compels them to declare that in their judgment, some of these societies do not afford that substantial aid to their brethren upon their arrival in a strange land, which they have reason to expect, and your committee fear that there may be cases where the officers or agents of some of these societies have a more tender regard for the money of the emigrant, than for their safety and comfort, but they do not intend to give this remark a general application, for they believe many of them have too much respect for the places they occupy, if not for their kindred to abuse the high trust reposed in them.
In conclusion, your committee cannot too strongly recommend to the favorable consideration of the House, the important subject which has engaged their anxious attention. If there is anything of which we as Americans ought to be proud, it is our noble and free institutions, and the fact that our country is now becoming so generally the resort and resting place of the down trodden and oppressed of the old world, should serve but to increase that pride. Whilst we have millions of acres of unsettled and uncultivated lands which are constantly holding out encouragement to the hardy and industrious laboring classes of other less favored portions of the
globe to come amongst us, and whilst we are drawing a large sum by way of commutation money from them, although in a small amount from each, we owe it to them, as well as to the character of our State and the cause of humanity, to see them protected after they reach our shores. Although this may be regarded as an extraordinary year for emigration, yet from causes that are operating in Europe, other than those which have existed the present year, we may safely calculate that this tide of emigration will continue to set in upon us in a manner that will require our constant care and vigilance.
Your committee regret that they have not had more time to devote to this matter committed to their care, but they flatter themselves that the accompanying bill which they ask leave to introduce, will be found to reach many of the evils that exist and afford no little protection to the emigrant. All which is respectfully submitted.