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We do not hesitate to express our firm conviction that the new contracts are fifty per cent more onerous upon the contractors, and one hundred per cent more advantageous to the State than the expired contracts, so far as the canals are concerned, provided the contracts are fully executed and carried out, and we can only act as a board upon the assumption that they will be.

Of the alleged combination of the contractors at the December letting, supposed to be proved by the statements submitted by the committee, we take leave to say it was wholly unknown to the board, and to each individual member of it, until after all the contracts were awarded, except that upon section eleven, Erie canal, and this we aver, each for himself.

We challenge the production of proof to contradict this position. The parties concerned in any such arrangement very well know that an exposure of any such proceeding would have resulted in nothing short of an entire rejection of all the proposals, to be followed by another advertisement.

We have no desire to enter upon the grave part of the subject that has given rise to this proceeding, nor any pleasure in referring to it.

It is well known the alleged testimony or statement taken by the committee was in ex parte and in secret; no person called before the committee to testify was permitted to know what his testimony was as taken, nor was any witness allowed to see his own testimony after it was written out from the stenographer's notes, before it was pub. lished to the world. The questions put were direct and pointed, and a categorical answer demanded, and no explanation allowed. Any person who will read this testimony attentively cannot fail to see that the committee were intent upon the discovery of some crime or of fense, and then upon hunting up a criminal to father it instead of seeking to develop and bring out the whole truth wherever it might reach or whoever it might implicate. One of the members of this board when examined before the committee in respect to the December lettings. discovered from the questions put and the answers required, that much wrong would be done from the course pursued ; propounded certain questions to the committee to be found at page seventy-six of the printed statements and received the following

answer: "It is the determination of the committee to submit this testimony to all the parties who are shown to be connected with the matter, and to allow them hereafter to make any explanation they see fit," and again, this further declaration, "the determination of the committee is to have this testimony written up and submitted to you, gentlemen, who are interested, and allow you to make any explanation you see proper," and again, "you understand this testimony is to be submitted to you." These answers were given in reply to questions asked on behalf of the Contracting Board. No word or syllable did the members of that board know in regard to what had been sworn to except his own testimony, nor was he even permitted to see or know what had been written down as his evidence until after its publication by order of the convention. Upon such statements as this, taken in secret, ex parte, and odiously inquisitorial in every aspect of it, the committee, upon invitation of the convention, report their conclusion upon the evidence denouncing the December lettings as fraudulent and void,implicating the members of this board as parties to the fraud. We repel as we have a right, as it is a duty to ourselves, every charge and insinuation of this sort. We may have erred in the exercise of a sound judgment submitted to our discretion by the laws of the land, and if we have, no tribunal, high or low, has the right or the authority to prejudge such an act and pronounce it criminal. The Convention following the lead of the committee and speaking as if by authority, say to the Attorney General that in its opinion legal proceedings ought immediately to be commenced to vacate the December contracts for fraud, and for the punishment of such guilty officials of the State as may be implicated in that fraud and this, too, upon a misrecital and erroneous statements of the facts upon which the opinion was founded, and the instructions given.

With all due respect for the distinguished body from which this resolution emanated, and for you, Mr. Attorney General, we respectfully decline any officious intermeddling in any matter not within our official cognizance. We say fearlessly and openly, that in rejecting the informal and defective proposals we believe we performed the duty imposed upon us as officials by the laws of this State, and that in making the awards of the contract, we acted under the guidance of an honest judgment and a sound discretion. The Legislature can correct whatever has been amiss in this matter, without any material

injury to the interest of the State, and that, too, upon competent and reliable evidence.

Resolved, That the foregoing letter be approved and entered upon the records of this board, and that the Secretary furnish a copy thereof to the Attorney General Adopted.

I certify that the foregoing reply and resolution are correct copies of the original.


Clerk of the Contracting Board.

ALBANY, Oct. 28, 1867.

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