Scope and Content Note

This series contains the original, signed and engrossed acts passed by the State Legislature beginning in the year 1778. Each engrossed and signed law contains the text of the bill, the signatures of the speaker of the Assembly and president of the Senate with dates of passage in each house, and the signature of the governor with date signed. On the reverse of the final page is an endorsement, giving the chapter number, a short title, and signature of the secretary of state with certification that the bill became a law on the specified date.

Several notable laws in the series were removed as part of the Freedom Train Exhibit, which traveled the state from January 1949 to February 1950: 1) "An Act for the Gradual Aboliton of Negro Slavery in New York" (L. 1799, Ch. 62), which provided that after July 4, 1799, every child born of slave parents in New York State should be free.

2) New York's Civil Service Law (May 4, 1883) was the first state statute of its kind. Theodore Roosevelt headed the assembly committee that introduced the bill, and Governor Grover Cleveland signed it.

3) A law of March 6, 1801 (Chapter 15) incorporated the Albany Mechanics Society, which was open to mechanics or tradesmen resident in Albany or its vicinity. The society was founded to protect and support members who needed help because of sickness or accident, to relieve the widows and orphans of members who died in indigent circumstances, and to provide instruction for their children.

4) The first railroad in the state, the Mohawk and Hudson Railroad, was chartered by a law of April 17, 1826 (Chapter 253). It began operation in 1831 and was the first link in what became the New York Central system.

5) Among the original laws of 1793 was one incorporating the Society for Promotion of Agriculture, Arts and Manufactures, New York's first agricultural society (and fifth in the country). The society was organized in 1791; among its purposes was to stress the value of the experimental method to improve agriculture.

6) Cornell University was chartered by the legislature on April 27, 1865, to teach branches of learning related to agriculture and the mechanical arts, including military tactics, in order to promote education of the "industrial classes." As a land grant college, it received income from the sale of lands donated to the state by the federal government under the first Morrill Act (July 2, 1862). Other qualifications being equal, preference was given to sons of those who had died in military service.

7) Chapter 753 of the Laws of 1949 stated that admission to any post-secondary educational institution chartered or incorporated by the State Board of Regents could not be denied because of race, color, religion, creed, or national origin.

13036-18: This accretion consists of two color reproductions of the act of the New York State Legislature ratifying amendments to the United State Constitution in 1790 (the "Bill of Rights). An attached certification by a representative of the Archivist of the United States attests to the authenticity of the reproduction.