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The Chamber of Commerce is one of our oldest institutions, and has come down to us from colonial times. It is composed of the most influential and successful merchants of the city of New-York, and its influence in commercial affairs is due not only to its years and experience, but its probity. Its presiding officers from 1768, the time of John CRUGER, down to the present, have been men of mark in the mercantile world. Walton, Alsop, Broome, SANDS, RAY, BAYARD, Lenox, Carow, Ogden, GOODHUE, King, GrInnell and Perit have been at the head of the institution and maintained its character under all the changes and misfortunes of the times.

The following eminent merchants have been the successive presidents of the Chamber of Commerce froin its formation : Elected. Retired. , Elected.

Retired. 1768, John CRUGER,

1770 1819, William BAYARD, 1827 1770, Hugu WALLACE, 1771 / 1827, ROBERT LENOX, 1840 1771, Elias DESBROSSES, 1774 1840, Isaac Carow,

1842 1774, William Walton, 1775 1842, Jas. De PeystER OGDEN, 1845 1775, Isaac Low,

1784 1845, JAMES G. KING, 1847 1784, John Alsop,

1785 1847, Moses H. GRINNELL, 1848 1785, John BROOME, 1794 1848, James G. King, 1849 1794, COMFORT Sands, 1798 1849, Moses H. GRINNĖLL, 1852 1798, John MURRAY, 1806 1852, Elias Hicks, (died,) 1853 1806, Cornelius Ray, 1819 1853, Pelatiah PERIT.

It has done always essential good; it took decided ground even in its early day against the odious Stamp act, and its action has since led to a vast number of improvements and reforms, such, for example, as the first modification of the damage on foreign and domestic bills of exchange; the reform of the old inspection laws in relation to ashes and flour; the valuation of foreign gold coins; the cleansing the streets and regulation of the city markets; the establishing of our trade with China; the discouragement of smuggling; the first canalization in this State around the Falls of the Mohawk River, and the carrying place at Wood Creek; the system of pilotage; the resistance of the colonial commercial system of Great Britain in its attempt upon our own; the Erie Canal; the breakwater in the Delaware ; the location of the present Custom-House; the employment of relief vessels upon our coast in winter; the system of wharfage and the regulation of the piers; the improvement of the light-house system; the introduction of the warehousing system; the Pilot Commissioners Board and the destruction of a previous monopoly of pilotage; the carrying of lights on board ships navigating our waters; a rail-road to the Pacific; the formation of a hydrographical bureau at Washington; the ventilation and provisioning of passenger vessels; the employment of a government steam cutter in our harbor; encouragement to the North Carolina scheme of improving Albemarle Sound; (now accomplished ;)

tine system.


the care of our sick seamen in foreign ports; the establishment of a branch mint in this city; the importation of gold from England in 1837, during financial crisis of that year, for the relief of the moneyed institutions the of New-York, leading to the resumption of specie payments; the abrogation of the Danish Sound dues; the improvement of discipline and increased efficiency in our merchant service, and a change in the quaran

These beneficial efforts it proposes to continue. There was before the State legislature a bill introduced by Mr. MANIERRE, of this city, giving legal effect to the decisons of the Arbitration Committee of the Chamber, that is to say, the force and effect of arbitrations under the Revised Statutes, with the duties and disabilities therein specified, in all cases of dispute between members of the Chamber, when the same are voluntarily submitted by both parties. It is, in fact, the repetition of an act under which differences among the members of the Corn Exchange are at present adjusted. A decision on any case so submitted is to have the validity of a judgment at law and to be enforced as such.

In 1851 a plan with a similar object, but in a very different form, was discussed by the Chamber of Commerce, and a draft of a bill was prepared to be submitted to the legislaturc, to establish a Court of Commerce in the city of New-York. It proposed the appointment of a principal judge and four associate judges, with the ordinary powers of courts and the recovery of costs of suit. On due consideration, and after debate, the project was discreetly laid on the table. The present proposition is a very different one in substance and form. It is, that when the members of the Chamber voluntarily agree to refer a dispute, it shall be subunitted to the Committee of Arbitration, and their decision shall become a judgment at law. Nothing can be simpler, more effectual or juster than this.

It may be said that questions of law may arise ; but what is commercial law, after all, but the sayings, doings and customs of merchants ? Whose testimony but theirs is of real value in contested commercial cases already? And if their opinions; at second hand, are entitled to the respect of judges and the confidence of juries, why not have the benefit of them at first hands, in their own Chamber, and at a nominal cost to the parties interested? It is not at all strange that this speedy termination of a dispute should be preferred to an endless litigation, where the costs increase as the square of the distance of the termination. And of all the men in the world who best understand their own business, the merchants are foremost. The lawyers, from time immemorial, have known this. They have heard of and studied the Law-Merchant of England as a wellknown system, distinguished from the ordinary law; they have read the 27 "EDWARD III.,” that all merchants coming to the staple shall be ordered according to the Law-Merchant, and not according to the common law of the land. Nor are they ignorant of the opinion of Lord Core, that “the custom of merchants is part of the law of England, of which the courts are bound to take notice.” In the famous case of VANHEATH agst. Turner,(Winch's Reports, 24,) the Chief Justice ruled, if there was doubt in a case, “they might send for the merchants to know their custom." Lord HALE (in Hardie's Reports, 486) affirmed the opinion of Coke, and there are many other late authorities, both in the British and American courts, which recognise the principle, and point out when and


how it is to be recognised, so that we come to the unavoidable conclusion that trade and commerce are the fountain-head of their own customs, from which flow the great and noble streams of the Lex Mercatoria. If this be so, the Chamber of Commerce is taking the right direction, and only travelling back to the sources from whence commercial law has proceeded. The principle is, then, clear and transparent; but, as it has flowed down the vale of time, it has been often muddied and disturbed. Law-makers of other pursuits in life have erected costly, cumbrous tribunals to settle commercial disputes and interpret their peculiar contracts. Philology has gone on board the steamers and sailing packets, with a dictionary in one hand and a bill of costs in the other. Technicalities have triumphed over principles.

The Chamber of Commerce, consisting of at least eight hundred members, merely ask the legislature to permit them to settle their own disputes of business, when they have any, by simple arbitration, by reference to a committee chosen by themselves, who understand what is required of them and what they are about. They will decide promptly, without incessant postponement for absence of counsel, or adjourning for a bad air in the court-room, or the state of the calendar, or any other cause, which now keep thousands of suits in suspense and their fatigued witnesses “on the jump” from one term to another. None of these things will happen under the proposed arrangement. The honorable men who have differences of opinion as to their respective mutual rights will be but too glad to have them unexpensively adjusted by such associates. These decisions will become a guide“ not only here but elsewhere,” will end a very large amount of costly litigation, and solidify and sustain the commercial principles by which industry and honor may continue to thrive.

The following is the act passed April 15, 1861, in reference to additional powers to the Arbitration Committee of the Chamber of Com

merce :


An Act to amend an Act entitled "An Act to remove doubts concerning the Corpora

tion of the Chamber of Commerce, and to confirm the rights and privileges thereof," passed April thirteenth, seventeen hundred and eighty-four.

Passed April 16, 1861, three-fifths being present. The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly, do enact

as follows:

Section 1. The Chamber of Commerce of the State of New-York shall have power to elect, by ballot, in conformity with the by-laws adopted by the said Chamber, a committee, to be known and styled the “ Arbitration Committee of the Chamber of Commerce," and shall have power also to appoint a Committee of Appeal ; and the duly elected members of the said Chamber, and all persons claiming by, through or under them, may, under the limitations, and subject to the restrictions imposed by the provisions of the statutes of the State of New-York relative to arbitration, submit to the decision of the Committees of Arbitration and Appeal, as the same may be constituted by the said Chamber, any controversy existing between them which might be the subject of an action, and may agree that a final judgment, in a correct record, to be by them designated, shall be rendered on any award made pursuant to such submission.

Section 2. The Committees of Arbitration and Appeal, elected or appointed as aforesaid, shall possess the same powers and be subject to the same duties and disabilities as appertain to arbitrators by the laws of the State of New York, and awards made by them must be made, and may be enforced, as therein and thereby directed; and all the provisions contained in title fourteen, part third, chapter eight of the Revised Statutes of the State of New-York, and all acts amendatory or in substitution thereof, shall apply to proceedings had before the said Committees of Arbitration and Appeal, as if specially incorporated herein; except that the judgment be rendered in the manner therein directed, on any award made by them as aforesaid, that is to say, by the Committee of Arbitration, no appeal from its action being taken by either party to the controversy, or by the confirmatory action of the Committee of Appeal, shall not be subject to be removed, reversed, modified or appealed from by the parties interested in such submission as aforesaid.

Section 3. This act shall take effect immediately.
Passed April 15th, 1861.



At a meeting of the Philadelphia Board of Trade, November 25th, the the following resolutions were unanimously adopted :

Resolved, That the river and bay defences of Philadelphia are entirely inadequate, and need to be immediately and largely increased; and that it is the duty of the United States government to superintend and effect such an increase, at such points as a competent corps of engineers may indicate, with the least possible delay.

Resolved, That the ardent, patriotic and efficient services of Pennsylvania, in the work of suppressing the Southern rebellion, give her the right to demand from the national government adequate protection for her seaport, Philadelphia.

Resolved, That it is encumbent upon our municipal authorities, upon the executive and legislature of Pennsylvania, and upon our representatives in Congress, to use all their influence in the approaching session, at Washington, towards securing the immediato extension and completion of our maritime defences, and that they should invite, for this purpose, the co-operation of the proper authorities of New Jersey and Delaware.

Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be transmitted by the Sectary of the Board of Trade to our city councils, and to our members of Congress and the State legislature.




LOUISVILLE TOBACCO CIRCULAR. The review of transactions in our Tobacco market during the last season discloses to us remarkable changes in prices, and unusual causes for these fluctuations. In November and December, 1860, prices declined, and the dark political prospects caused a neglect of the article ; in January, 1861, more confidence was manifested, and prices advanced slightly. During February farmers rushed their tobacco in such quantities to market that again a slight decline was established. In March supplies fell off, and consisted of such poor qualities that we had to quote 4c. advance on good grades. When, in the month of April, by the bombard ment of Fort Sumter, civil war came to an actual outbreak, all business, including the tobacco trade, came to a perfect stagnation; a decline of 1 @ 14c. took place, and sales were dragging at that. During May, it being evident that Kentucky was not likely to join the Southern Confederacy, confidence was more or less restored, and tobacco received better attention. The blockade of Southern ports, by which shipments of tobacco were transferred to Eastern markets, and the belief that the new crop to be set out would be materially shortened by the war, created a lively speculative feeling, so that sales were effected at full prices; and in our premium tobacco auctions, May 16th and 17th, the contest among buyers was spirited. The embargo laid upon the export of tobacco by Tennessee, and the competition among foreign and domestic buyers, raised our market fully lc. in June. At that time Kentucky and Missouri remained the only States from which to provide for the wants of Regie buyers, shippers, manufacturers and speculators, and although supplies were sent forward in large quantities, even from sections of Kentucky from whence shipments usually had gone South, an advance of another cent per pound was established by the end of July. In August prices were fully sustained, and the invasion of our State by the Confederates in September deprived us of supplies from the principal tobaccogrowing region of Kentucky, thereby causing a very considerable rise in prices for all fat descriptions, which have ever since remained in active demand by our manufacturers, who are enabled to pay enormous rates for leaf, since Virginia is cut off from the trade in the manufactured article.

The attitudes of the large armies engaged in our civil war preclude from us all reliable information of the new crop, now made and harvested. We are unable to learn from Virginia, Tennessee and the half of Kentucky, how much has been raised, how it was harvested and to what degree the weed may have been injured by the devastations of war.

We cannot venture an approximate calculation of the quantity made, but judge that Virginia and Tennessee have produced not more than half, if

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