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Considering that the enterprise was entered into with the most sanguine expectations of success, which were justified by the expected coöperation of the French fleet, and of a French land force of 7000 men; that they had reason to feel that General Pigot's force of 7000 or 8000 men, would, on the first demonstration by the French fleet, in concert with the allied force of 17,000 men, (which the army of Sullivan would then comprise,) be compelled to surrender; considering also, that the American army was largely composed of raw recruits from Rhode Island and the neighboring States, that they had suffered frightfully from the terrific storm of the 11th and 12th, and that in consequence of the storm and the damage to the fleet, the French commander felt obliged, on his part, to abandon the enterprise; the fortitude and bravery with which the little army extricated themselves in time to elude the British fleet which surrounded the Island the next day, constitute one of the most brilliant feats of modern arms.
I therefore recommend an appropriation for the purpose of uniting the people of Rhode Island in a celebration, worthy the occasion and the honor of the State, to be held at Butt's hill in Portsmouth, on the 29th day of August, 1878, under the direction of the General Assembly, and the appointment of a Commission upon which the Historical Societies of the State shall be represented.
THE PROVIDENCE COUNTY COURT HOUSE.
The commissioners appointed to erect a Court House for the county of Providence have successfully completed their labors, and the result is elegant in its architectural proportions and admirably adapted to the purposes for which it was designed. I am gratified to be able to assure you that the entire cost of the building and furniture will not exceed the appropriation which was made for that purpose. It was dedicated and its custody formally transferred to the State, with appropriate addresses and a pleasant entertainment, on the evening of Wednesday, December 19th, 1877. The commissioners inform me that they will be prepared, during your present session, to present a full report of their receipts and disbursements. I desire to express my appreciation of the eminent services which were rendered by the late Dr. Thos. P. Shepard, upon this commission.
THE STATE HOUSE IN PROVIDENCE.
The necessity of making some alterations in the State House in Providence, to better adapt it to the convenience and comfort of the two Houses of the General Assembly, has frequently been brought to your attention. The report of the joint special committee on that subject, submitted at the May Session, contains suggestions of such importance, that I have deemed it advisable to print the report entire in the appendix to this Message.
In addition to the suggestions of the committee, due consideration should also be given to the subject of providing a safer place of deposit for the State records in the office of the Secretary of State. The surroundings of the State House, as well as its interior arrangement, are such that a fire once getting under way would probably cause irreparable injury to these records, if not their total destruction. Apart from the intrinsic value of much of the property in the State House, which is considerable, there is of course a value beyond estimate in the records of the State, extending back as they do to the earliest settlement of the colony. The mere statement of the dangers, to which they are exposed, would suggest to a prudent mind the necessity of immediate precautions against their loss or injury from this source.
The time has not yet come for the erection of a new State House. By some changes, the present structure will
. be adequate for legislative purposes for many years to
It is, however, worthy of your consideration whether by a comparatively small expenditure a suitable building cannot be erected, which will not only afford protection to the records, but also ample accommodations for the State officers. The location of these officers in various parts of the city of Providence, not only causes inconvenience to thə public and to the officers themselves, but seems inconsistent with the dignity of the State. A building affording ample accommodations could be erected on the front of the State House lot, a short distance removed from North Main street. A portion of the building should be fire-proof, containing safe depositaries for the records of the secretary and the financial officers of the State. Its cost, estimated from $50,000 to $75,000, according to the architectural design $ and finish of the building, could not be considered burthensome; while the interest on the expenditure would be little more than the sum now paid by the State for rents. In such a case there would be little use for the State House during the recess of the General Assembly and much of the expense for the care and heating of that building could be avoided. By converting the upper portion of the State House into a tenement for the janitor, that building could be under his constant care, thereby saving the expense of a watchman; and the services of the janitor could be utilized in the care of the building proposed for the State officers.
By virtue of the authority vested in me I re-appointed the Hon. Henry Staples of Barrington as Railroad Commissioner. He has discharged the duties of that position with remarkable ability and faithfulness. Owing to the amendment made to the railroad law at the last January Session, reports from his department are to be made annually instead of semi-annually, and in accordance with this provision his detailed statement will be presented at the present session. He informs me that the business of the several railroad corporations appears very favorable in view of all the circumstances surrounding other business. As compared with the previous year the capital stock actually paid in is increased $87,949.54. The indebtedness is increased $26,616.91. The total receipts are decreased $314,574.72. The number of passengers has decreased 632,177, while the tonnage of merchandise has increased
341,318 tons. The length of track in this State also shows an increase of 15 90 miles. No comparison can be made of the net earnings of this, with the previous year, because in former returns some of the corporations reported as their earnings the difference between their total receipts and their running expenses, accounting for their interest and taxes afterwards, whereas this year the form of returns has been changed, so that the amount representing the total running expenses, includes the expenditures for interest and taxes. I think more stringent legislation as to grade crossings is demanded, as accidents are constantly increasing from these as well as from other causes, and a considerable portion of the time of the commissioner is devoted to their examination, which is necessarily minute and laborious.
THE STATE FARM.
The most noticeable feature in the management of the State Farm during the year, is the considerable reduction of expenses, which the Board of State Charities and Corrections is able to report. Under the
Under the very efficient direction of the Superintendent, Mr. Samuel L. Blaisdell, the gross current expenses have fallen to about $61,500, against about $79,000 the year previous. Deducting the earnings, about $9,500, the net current expenses are about $52,000. The average number in the institutions during the year been 550. Dividing the net expenses by this number, the result shows a cost of $94.54 for each inmate for the year,