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A Century in the Comptroller's Office, State of Ne

1797 A Century in the TO Comptroller's 1897 Office

State of New York

BY

JAMES A. ROBERTS

COMPTROLLER

ALBANY JAMES B. LYON, PRINTER 1897

[Illustration: _STATE HALL_]

A CENTURY IN THE COMPTROLLER'S OFFICE.

On the 17th of February, 1897, occurred the one hundredth anniversary of the establishment of the office of Comptroller of the State of New York.

The present incumbent of the office trusts it will not be considered unwarranted pride which has led him to collect and transcribe, in honor of its one hundredth birthday, such general facts relating more or less directly to the office, or to the former incumbents thereof, as he has gathered from unsystematic reading and in the performance of his duties.

An office which has without scandal managed the financial affairs of this great State, and has otherwise borne a conspicuous part in its government for a century; an office from the thirty incumbents of which have been chosen a Vice-President and a President of the United States, two United States Senators, four Governors of the State, one Chief Justice and one Chief Judge of its Court of Appeals--to say nothing of others who have achieved distinction in less conspicuous civil positions--would seem entitled to something more than a passing notice on its centennial anniversary.

The office, as created, and from time to time enlarged, is a unique feature in our State government. There are Auditors in nearly all of the States of the Union; but the duties of Comptroller are far broader, comprehending largely the ordinary duties of a State Treasurer as well as many others. There had been Auditors in the Colony of New York from 1680 down to the time of its organization as an independent State, and that office was continued in the State until it was merged in the office of Comptroller. There have been Treasurers of New York with varying duties from 1706 down to the present time. From the time of the organization of the State government the offices of Treasurer and Auditor had not been found to work harmoniously or satisfactorily. Bills might be audited which the Treasurer did not wish to pay, and the Treasurer might wish to pay bills which the Auditor would not pass, so in a tentative, experimental way in 1797 the office of Comptroller was created to combine the power to audit and the power to pay. The act creating it was framed by Samuel Jones, a man of note in his time (for whom Samuel Jones Tilden, the distinguished Governor of this State, was named), and on the 17th of February, 1797, it became law by the signature of that distinguished patriot, Governor John Jay.


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