Compliments of New York State Assemblyman
Assemblyman McKevitt

Assemblyman McKevitt
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Dear Friends,

I’m happy to present you with this handy brochure on the history of New York. Our great state has a rich history - certainly it is one to be proud of. Our state motto, "Excelsior" - Ever Upward - appears on the scroll below the shield on our state flag to remind us that, as New Yorkers, we have always and will always work hard to better ourselves, our neighbors and our state.

It is my hope that this brochure will help you gain a better sense of New York’s history. Should you wish to learn more about the Empire State, please contact me. My addresses and phone numbers are included.

As always, I am proud to be your representative in the Assembly. Rest assured that I am working to ensure that the quality of life for us on Long Island continues to rise Ever Upward. If I can ever be of assistance to you concerning any state issue, please contact me. I look forward to hearing from you.

Tom McKevitt

New York State History

New Yorkers are rightfully proud of their state’s many achievements and contributions. This synopsis is adapted from a brief history previously printed in the Legislative Manual.

The New York harbor was visited by Giovanni da Verrazano in 1524, and the Hudson River was first explored by Henry Hudson in 1609. The Dutch settled here permanently in 1624 and, for 40 years, they ruled over the colony of New Netherland. It was conquered by the English in 1664 and was then named New York in honor of the Duke of York. Existing as a colony of Great Britain for over a century, New York declared its independence on July 9, 1776, becoming one of the original 13 states of the Federal Union. The next year, on April 20, 1777, New York’s first constitution was adopted.

In many ways, New York state was the principal battleground of the Revolutionary War. Approximately one-third of the skirmishes and engagements of the war were fought on New York soil. The Battle of Saratoga, one of the decisive battles of the war, was the turning point of the American Revolution leading to the French alliance and thus to eventual victory. New York City, long occupied by British troops, was evacuated on November 25, 1783. There, on December 4 at Fraunces Tavern, Gen. George Washington bade farewell to his officers.

The first government of New York state grew out of the Revolution. The state convention that drew up the state constitution created a "Council of Safety" that governed for a time and set the new government in motion. In June 1777, while the war was going on, an election for the first governor took place. Two of the candidates, Philip Schuyler and George Clinton, were generals in the field. Two others, Col. John Jay and Gen. John Morin Scott, were, respectively, leaders of the aristocratic and democratic groups in the convention. On July 9, Clinton was declared elected, and he was inaugurated as governor at Kingston on July 30, 1777. Albany became the state capital in January 1797.

Alexander Hamilton was a leader in the movement that resulted in development of the U.S. Constitution, and he was active in its ratification. New York City became the first capital of the new nation, and it’s where President George Washington was inaugurated on April 30, 1789.

In the following years, New York’s economic and industrial growth made appropriate the title, "The Empire State," an expression possibly originated by George Washington in 1784. In 1809, Robert Fulton’s "North River Steamboat," the first successful steam-propelled vessel, began a new era in transportation. The Erie Canal, completed in 1825, greatly enhanced the importance of the port of New York and caused populous towns and cities to spring up across the state. The Erie Canal was replaced by the Barge Canal in 1918, and the system of waterways was further expanded by construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Overland transportation grew rapidly from a system of turnpikes established in the early 1880s to the modern-day Governor Thomas E. Dewey New York State Thruway. By 1853, railroads that had started as short lines in 1831 crossed the state in systems like the Erie and New York Central.

During the 19th century, America became a haven for many of the oppressed people of Europe, and New York City became the "melting pot." The Statue of Liberty (dedicated in 1886 in the harbor), with its famous inscription, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free," was the first symbol of America’s mission. The international character of New York City, the principal port for overseas commerce, and later for transcontinental and international airways, has been further enhanced by becoming the home of the United Nations, capital of the free world. Here, people of all nations and races come to discuss and try to solve world problems in a free and democratic climate.

As one of the wealthiest states, New York made tremendous strides in industry and commerce. The New York Stock Exchange, founded in 1792, has become the center of world finance. Diversified and rich natural resources, together with unmatched facilities for transportation produced phenomenal growth in manufacturing and industry. Research and inventive genius have been extensive, especially in the field of electronics, power and the peaceful and productive use of atomic energy. New York City also became a leading national center for art, music and literature, as exemplified by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Opera Company and large publishing houses.

The state has supplied more than its share of national leaders, beginning with Alexander Hamilton, the first treasury secretary, and John Jay, the first chief justice. Aaron Burr and George Clinton served as vice presidents. Martin Van Buren, Chester A. Arthur and Grover Cleveland went from New York politics to the presidency. In the 1900s, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt achieved the presidency, and Nelson Rockefeller served as vice president. Governors Charles E. Hughes, Alfred E. Smith and Thomas E. Dewey all were presidential candidates.


Know how a bill becomes a law...
Your Assembly member gets an idea for a bill from constituents and organized interest groups, or by perceiving local or statewide needs. Bills can create new laws or repeal or amend existing ones.

After deciding to sponsor a bill, the Assembly member has bill-drafting specialists write it. Then, the bill is filed and gets an official number. Many bills are co-sponsored by several Assembly members.

The speaker of the Assembly, who is elected by the 150 Assembly members, assigns the bill to the appropriate committee. For example, a bill concerning tenants is assigned to the Housing Committee. The committee members (every Assembly member sits on several committees) study the bill and vote on whether to defeat, or "kill," it, hold it for further study or send it on to the full Assembly for a vote. Before going to the Assembly floor for a vote, bills may be examined by other committees as well.

On the floor of the Assembly, the bill’s sponsor explains and defends it in the event there is debate. A vote on the bill is taken. If it passes, it goes to the Senate, where it undergoes a similar process.

If both houses (Assembly and Senate) pass the bill, it goes to the governor, who can either sign it into law or veto it. If the governor vetoes it, the Legislature can override the veto by a two-thirds vote in favor, thus making the bill a law.

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How to Contact

District Office:
224 Seventh Street
Suite 200
Garden City, NY 11530
(516) 739-5119

Albany Office:
Legislative Office Building
Room 534
Albany, NY 12248
(518) 455-5341


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