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April 26, 1833.
From the Commissioners of the Canal Fund, in rela
tion to deficiencies in the revenues of the Che.
TO THE ASSEMBLY.
The Commissioners of the Canal Fund respectfully represent to the Legislature, that there are no funds at their disposal to pay the interest on the debt created for the construction of the Chemung canal, or to pay the expenses of keeping the said canal in repair.
The act for the construction of the Chemung canal, chap. 135, of the session of 1829, authorised a loan of $300,000. The act of the last session, chap. 164, authorises a further loan of $16,000. These two sums are exhausted, leaving a debt of $316,000 for the construction of the canal, the interest upon which is to be provided for, and amounts annually to
815,800 There are two collectors and two superintendents on said canal, at salaries of $500 each, which is ....
2,000 The repairs cannot be estimated with much accuracy by the Commissioners of the Canal Fund, but may amount
Making a total of
From this is to be deducted the tolls which may be received upon the Chemung canal, the amount of which the Commissioners have no means of estimating. (Assem. No. 331.)
Unless the deficiencies in the revenue of the Chemung canal are provided for, by being made a charge upon the general funds of the State, or by further loans, the Commissioners will not have the means of paying the quarterly interest which becomes due on the first of July next, or of paying the expenses which are indispensa. ble to keep the canal in a navigable state.
All which is respectfully submitted.
A. C. FLAGG, Comptroller.
April 29, 1833.
of a majority of the committee on the judiciary, on
the petition of Margaretta Obrigon. Mr. Livingston, from a majority of the committee on the judiciary, to which was referred the petition of Margaretta Obrigon, of the city of New York, praying for a divorce,
That it appears from the petition and papers accompanying the same, that the petitioner was married to one Ventura Obrigon on the 15th day of November, 1831; that the marriage ceremony was performed by Felix Varela, pastor of Christ's church, in presence of several witnesses; that soon after the marriage, Obrigon exhibited symptoms of insanity, and his conduct became such that it was unsafe for the petitioner to remain with him, and on the 5th day of January, 1832, he was committed to the Lunatic Asylum at Bloomingdale, where he has since remained, with every indication of confirmed lunacy.
At the time of the marriage the petitioner was young and an orphan, residing with her mother, Eliza Ann Hurry, who had brought her up in great indulgence and retirement from the world, and in great ignorance of men and manners; from these causes, the petitioner alleges, she was easily deceived and drawn into this marriage by the “ astuteness of Obrigon and the connivance and misrepresentations of his friends."
Mr. Ventura Obregon is a foreigner, a native of Mexico, and has held the office of vice-consul of the Mexican government in the city of New-York. It is also alleged that the complaint under (Assem. No. 332.]
which he is now suffering is hereditary in his family, and that a brother of his committed suicide not long since while in a state of mental aberration.
It is not improbable that Obrigon was laboring under the incipient stages of a malady so terrible, at the time of the marriage, yet it must have been so slight as not to be perceptible to the bride, her friends, or the very respectable pastor who solemnized the marriage.
This is the fourth petition for a divorce presented at this session of the Legislature, and the committee deem it proper on this occasion to state briefly to the House the reasons which compel them to come to a conclusion adverse to the prayer of the petitioner at more length, in order that the laws upon so important a branch of our domestic relations may be more generally diffused.
The practice of the Legislature upon this subject has been, with one exception, uniforın. The first and only law that has ever passed, was that annulling the marriage of Eunice Chapman, in 1818. Our legislation has been so uniform, that neither during the colonial government, or under the Constitution of 1777, or the present Constitution, is there to be found any other cases of legislative divorce, and that case had no precedent, and has not been followed in practice.
The first law permitting divorces for any cause, was passed in 1787, and by which the court of chancery was authorised in one particular class of cases to dissolve the marriage contract. The Revised Statutes have extended the jurisdiction of that court to the following additional cases:
Where the parties, or one of them, had not at the time of the marriage, attained the age of legal consent.
Where the former husband or wife of one of the parties was living, and the marriage with such former husband or wife was then in force.
That one of the parties was an idiot or lunatic. In this latter case, the divorce can be obtained only on the complaint of the friends of the idiot or lunatic.
When the consent of one of the parties was obtained by fraud or force.
When one of the parties was physically incapable of entering into the marriage state.
Could the petitioner establish the allegation that her marriage was procured by fraud, then she can be relieved in the court of chancery, and legislative interference would be impolitic and unnecessary.
The committee are of opinion that neither party ought to be permitted to set up the insanity or idiocy of the other, at the time of the marriage or subsequent thereto, and have the contract dissolved for that cause. The only reason why the court of chancery is authorised to interfere on behalf of the idiot or lunatic, is for their protection on the ground that they were incapable of contracting, and when possessed of property, they ought to be protected from the wicked and heartless profligacy of those who would, by the matrimonial contract, attempt to gain possession of the person of a lunatic or idiot, to deprive them of their wealth.
The rule therefore ought to be inflexible, that the marriage will not be dissolved except upon the suggestions of the friends of those who are deprived of their reason, What but the most sordid avarice or depraved appetite could induce a person claiming to be rational to make such a contract? And if made, upon what principle of justice can they ask relief at our hands ?
An absolute and unconditional dissolution of the marriage contract by statute authority, without any previous judicial investigation, or trial by jury, as to the truth of the facts on which the divorce is asked,” would, in the opinion of your committee, be unwise, operate unjustly, and be fraught with danger to society.
It is the opinion of the committee, that the statutes have provided for all the causes for which divorces should be granted; and to extend them to the present case would set an example, which if followed, would be found productive of great evils. This case may be one of great hardship to the petitioner, but we feel it our duty to oppose any innovation upon the well settled practice and policy of our government.
In several of the States the practice prevails of granting legislative divorces, but we indulge the hope that it may never prevail here. We clearly believe “that the stronger authority and the