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Exploring on behalf of the Dutch (Dutch East India Company), Englishman Henry Hudson sails what we now call the Hudson River.


Dutch (Dutch West India Company) establish colony called New Netherland. Settlements in this colony include New Amsterdam, located where Manhattan is today, and Fort Orange which later becomes Albany. The Dutch West India Company appoints "Director-General" as governor of New Netherlands and creates a council which advises the governor, votes on local regulations and has judiciary powers.


Initial move toward self-government when a "burgher government," a municipal corporation, is set up in New Amsterdam. Governor Peter Stuyvesant appoints burgomaster and schepens (i.e. aldermens), but retains authority to establish ordinances. In December of 1653, the governor dismisses demands for increased self-government from a delegation representing the settlers.


In the Charter of 1664, New Netherland is claimed for England by King Charles II, who gives it to his brother, James, the Duke of York and Albany and later known as King James II. Under this charter for New York, the Duke of York has the power to establish laws, appoint officials, and make judiciary decisions that can only be appealed to the Privy Council in England. Eventually, the duke delegates many of his powers to his governors and establishes a "Council" which consists of important citizens who advise the governor.

August, 1664

The English fleet arrives in New Amsterdam, and Dutch Governor Peter Stuyvesant surrenders to English Colonel Richard Nicolls who is eventually appointed royal governor by the Duke of York to oversee the New Netherland territory, which is now New York and New Jersey. In 1664, New Jersey is gifted to John Lord Berkely and Sir George Carteret by the Duke of York, and in 1667, Nicolls returns a portion of New York land to Connecticut.


Governor Nicolls denies request from English towns along Long Island for a general assembly, but establishes the "Duke's Laws" which include a system of local government that is eventually used by all of New York.


Richard Nicolls resigns as governor, and Francis Lovelace takes over.

1673 -1674

The Third Anglo-Dutch War breaks out and while Governor Lovelace is away, the Dutch recapture New Amsterdam. Dutch Captain Anthony Colve becomes "directkor" and rules via military law.


English retake New Amsterdam, when the Dutch and English come to a peace agreement. New Amsterdam is now known as New York City.

1674 -1681

Sir Edmund Andros is appointed by the king as New York's royal governor. Andros reintroduces English form of government, makes English official language, and recommends an elected assembly to the Duke of York, but he refuses it.


When revenues drop because rebellious merchants refuse to pay import duties, the Duke of York's authority is challenged and he is forced to allow the creation of an assembly.


Duke of York appoints new royal governor, Thomas Dongan, and directs him to call for a general assembly which would have the power to pass laws subject to the approval of the governor and the duke himself.

October, 1683

Governor Dongan, his Council and delegates meet at Fort James in New York City and pass the "Charter of Liberties and Privileges" which establishes an elected Assembly to share legislative power with the governor and his Council. After the governor and Duke of York approve the Charter, this assembly under the British meets between 1683 and 1686.


The Duke of York becomes King James II. During his rule, he rejects New York's Charter of Liberties and Privileges and in 1686 the Assembly is abolished.


New England colonies are combined by King James II into the Dominion of New England, and Edmund Andros is appointed governor of this area. In 1688, an attempt to make New York and New Jersey part of the Dominion of New England fails. Upon hearing of King James II's overthrow, angry citizens in Boston imprison Andros, for suppressing liberties, and rebellious citizens in New York rise up against Andros' deputy who flees to England. Militia captains select Jacob Leisler to assume duties of commander-and-chief to protect the province of New York. Seizing letters sent by King William III, Leisler claims authority to rule as governor and restores a representative assembly.

1689 - 1763

French and Indian War

March, 1691

Colonel Henry Sloughter, sent by King William III to replace Leisler, arrives in New York, assembles a new Council made of up Leisler's enemies, and puts Leisler to death. When Sloughter dies this same year, the Council selects the commander of troops, Robert Ingolsby, as a temporary governor until Governor Benjamin Fletcher arrives. The Council also re-establishes in essence the "Charter of Liberties and Privileges" of 1683 which sets up courts and local government.

April 9, 1691

The first permanent Assembly, also known as the General or Colonial Assembly, meets.




During this time period, New York begins to develop constitutional principles and procedures similar to those of England. Although the British government and its governors fight to retain power over New York, there is a gradual shift in power from governor to the Colonial Assembly when the Assembly gains more control over the administration of governmental finances and begins to control appointments. From 1746 to 1750 an important, political fight is waged between Governor George Clinton and the Colonial Assembly for power; although the Colonial Assembly asserts that they have supreme power over colonial government, they compromise in the end by agreeing that the Assembly shares sovereignty with the governor.


For the next ten years, British Parliament passes several acts taxing colonies without representation. Among these acts are: the Sugar Act whose purpose is to raise money to pay off the French and Indian war debt; the Stamp Act which orders colonies to pay tax on all printed items directly to England, rather than to local legislatures, to fund English troops in America; the Currency Act which forbids colonies from issuing legal tender paper money; the Quartering Act which orders colonists to house English troops; the Townshend Revenue Acts which taxes colonists on a series of imported items including tea, paint, glass and lead to raise money for the administration of the colonies; and the Tea Act which places a tax on imported tea. As a result of these acts, angry colonists meet to write formal protests and organize boycotts.

1767 - 1769

New York's Colonial Assembly is temporarily suspended by the king when it votes not to comply with the Quartering Act.

December 16, 1773

Boston Tea Party takes place.

April, 1774

Angry New York colonists board ship in New York harbor and dump its cargo of tea.


British Parliament passes series of acts including the Coercive Acts (i.e. Intolerable Acts) which are intended to punish colonists for rebelling against previous acts and limit the colonists' freedoms such as self-rule.

January, 1774

Colonial Assembly creates new Committee of Correspondence, a governmental committee, to communicate with other colonies regarding the Intolerable Acts passed by British Parliament.

May, 1774

Alarmed by the closing of Boston's harbor by the British, the people in New York organize the Committee of Fifty-One which meets in New York City and moderately favors resistance.


Local committees in New York select and send delegates to First Continental Congress, an intercolonial congress, which is held in Philadelphia between September 5 and October 6. The First Continental Congress asserts that colonists' have basic rights by formally refusing to obey the Intolerable Acts, recommends the need for local militia, and calls for local committees to enforce an agreement called the "Continental Association," whereby colonies refuse to trade with England until the restoration of their basic rights.

November, 1774

New York's Committee of Fifty-One is replaced by Committee of Sixty.

April 3, 1775

New York's Colonial Assembly ends their meeting with a refusal to select delegates for the Second Continental Congress.

April 19, 1775

At Lexington, the "shot heard round the world" starts the American Revolution.

April 20, 1775

Set up by New York's Committee of Sixty, a convention, called the First Provincial Congress, meets in New York City and appoints New York delegates to the Second Continental Congress.

April, 1775

New York's Committee of Sixty is replaced by Committee of One Hundred which calls for a New York Provincial Congress.

May 10, 1775

Second Continental Congress meets in Philadelphia on May 10, 1775. After acknowledging that colonies are in a defensive position, the Second Continental Congress elects John Hancock as its president and appoints George Washington commander-in-chief of the new Continental Army.

May 22, 1775

The Second Provincial Congress of New York meets in New York City to discuss a revolutionary agenda (e.g. defense, troops, supplies, and Loyalists). Delegates to New York's Provincial Congress are elected by twelve New York counties, with the majority of delegates being Patriots instead of Loyalists. Although New York's Colonial Assembly still exists during this time period, the Second Provincial Congress meets at intervals and addresses revolutionary matters.

October 19, 1775

New York's Royal Governor William Tryon, appointed to the position in 1771, is forced to leave New York City and stay on a British warship anchored in the harbor. As a result, New York's government "shifts" to the Provincial Congress and local committees.


After William Howe retakes New York City, Royal Governor Tryon reassumes power and forces a new election of the Colonial Assembly. Tryon's bid to regain control over legislative affairs fails because new delegates to the Colonial Assembly are sympathetic to the Provincial Congress and their revolutionary efforts. Thus, the Colonial Assembly is suspended by Governor Tryon and never meets again.

May 14, 1776

Chosen in April, the Third Provincial Congress meets for first time and addresses Continental Congress' proposal that each colony form a state government.

May, 1776

Before moving forward on the matter of state government, which would essentially declare New York's independence, the Third Provincial Congress of New York meets and calls for the people to confirm existing delegates to the Provincial Congress.

July 2, 1776

New York's Fourth Provincial Congress meets in White Plains but cannot proceed since it does not have a quorum.

July 4, 1776

The Second Continental Congress in Philadephia signs the Declaration of Independence, but New York does not sign it.

July 5, 1776

New York's Fourth Provincial Congress meets in White Plains' Courthouse and endorses the Declaration of Independence.

July 9, 1776

The Fourth Provincial Congress declares New York's independence.

July 10, 1776

The Fourth Provincial Congress changes its name to the Convention of Representatives of the State of New York, and "acts as legislature without an executive."

August 1, 1776

Chaired by Abraham Yates of Albany, a committee is created to formulate a government for New York State.

March 12, 1777

The committee submits a draft of state constitution to Convention of Representatives of the State of New York which then revises it.

April 20, 1777

The New York State Constitution is adopted by the Convention of Representatives of the State of New York and read from the Kingston Courthouse in Kingston, New York. Under this State Constitution, three governmental branches are created: the executive branch, the judicial branch and the legislative branch which is made up of two-houses, including the Senate, with 24 senators elected every four years from four Senate districts, and the Assembly, with 70 assemblymen elected annually from 14 districts. This State Constitution calls for the election of a governor and identifies eligible voters. The governor and senators are to be elected by men who had a freehold worth 100 pounds above indebtedness and assemblymen are to be elected by men who are a county resident for six months, paid taxes, and either owned a freehold worth 20 pounds or rented one for 40 shillings.

May, 1777

Convention of Representatives of the State of New York is disbanded.

June, 1777

A new governor, George Clinton of Ulster County, is elected.

September, 1777

New York State Legislature meets in Kingston for first time. Between 1777 and 1783 the legislature meets in various places to avoid the British. After the Revolution, it meets in New York City, Poughkeepsie, Fishkill and Albany.

September 3, 1783

American Revolutionary war ends when British sign treaty recognizing America's independence.


War reconstruction begins.


New York State sends delegates to Philadephia's Constitutional Convention. National Constitution is adopted this year.


First reapportionment acts passed when federal census indicates New York's districts in the west require more legislative representation. As a result, new senatorial districts are added.


Although New York City, Kingston, Poughkeepsie, and Fishkill had hosted legislative sessions, the Stadt Huys building in Albany, is picked to house the New York State Legislature. Located in Albany where Hudson and Market Street cross, the Stadt Huys building also serves as the City Hall, County Court House, prison, and State House.



First New York Constitutional Convention is held. As a result of this convention, the number of senators is increased to 32, number of assemblymen is set to 100, and provisions are instituted to review and address legislative representation following each census.


Legislature moves into new building on State Street in Albany.


War of 1812, which essentially confirms America's independence from England once again.


New York Legislature outlaws slavery by 1827.

August 28, 1821

New York State's second Constitutional Convention is held in Albany. As a result of this convention, Senate consent is only required on important appointments. Voting rights are also addressed and extended to male citizens over 21 who hold property, performed military service, or worked on highways.


New York is known as the Empire State.


Mexican-American War.

June, 1846

New York State's Constitutional Convention of 1846 is held. As a result, legislature's power is diminished with restrictions, senators and assemblymen are elected from a single district and the term of a senator is altered from four years to two.


A "temporary" New York State Coat of Arms is adopted but it is rarely used.


American Civil War.


James Bell, a Senator from Jefferson County, suggests obtaining plans for a new Capitol.


Capitol Commission is created to review designs for new capitol and to oversee its construction. The proposed design by Arthur Gilman and Thomas Fuller is accepted.


New York State's Constitutional Convention of 1867 is held. Black suffrage is recommended but is defeated by convention.


A quarter of a million dollars is appropriated by the New York State Legislature for the construction of a new Capitol. The Capitol Commission is warned not to exceed four million dollars on project.

June 24, 1871

The Capitol cornerstone is laid.


A three man commission replaces the Capitol Commission when it is estimated that over eight million dollars is needed to finish the Capitol. This new commission seeks advice from Henry H. Richardson, Leopold Eidlitz and Frederick Law Olmsted, three reputable architects of the time.

July, 1876

Fuller and Gilman are replaced by Henry H. Richardson, Leopold Eidlitz and Frederick Law Olmsted. Richardson and Eidlitz divide the Capitol, with Eidlitz designing the Assembly Chamber, Assembly staircase, Senate staircase, the Golden Corridor, and Court of Appeals court room, and Richardson designing the Senate Chamber, Executive Chambers, the Great Western staircase, the Lieutenant Governor's Office, and Second Chamber of the Court of Appeals.

January 7, 1879

Escorted by Senate members, the Assembly moves into the Assembly Chamber in the new Capitol of which only one quarter is completed. The Senate uses the Court of Appeals room in the Capitol since its chamber is not finished.

March 10, 1881

Escorted by Assembly members, the Senate moves into the Senate Chamber in the new Capitol. In the coming eight years, other rooms in the Capitol are occupied.


The New York State Seal, which is the 1850's version of the New York State Coat of Arms, is declared the permanent design and "legal form."


Governor Grover Cleveland enlists Isaac Perry to hasten the completion of Capitol. When Henry H. Richardson dies in 1886, Perry steps in to complete Richardson's plans.

May 8, 1894

New York State's Constitutional Convention of 1894 is held. As a result of this convention, the number of senators is increased from 32 to 50 with no more than one-third of the senators coming from New York City and no more than one-half coming from New York City and Brooklyn. In addition, the number of assemblymen is increased from 128 to 150, each county must have a minimum of one assemblyman with the exception of Hamilton and Fulton which are to share one assembly seat, riders cannot be attached to appropriation bills, state elections are to be held on even years and municipal elections are to be held on odd years, the Governor's term is changed from three to two years, and legislative bills are to be printed at least three days before their passage.

January 1, 1899

Governor Theodore Roosevelt is the first governor to take oath in Capitol building which he declares is "completed." The Capitol structure took 32 years to build and cost 25 million dollars.


March 29, 1911

In the early morning, a fire begins in the Assembly Library and sweeps through Capitol. This Capitol fire is attributed to the building's old electrical system.

April 17, 1911

The Senate and Assembly move into the Capitol from Albany's City Hall, where they temporarily stayed due to the Capitol Fire.


World War I.


New York State's Constitutional Convention of 1915 is held and makes 33 recommendations, all of which are rejected by voters.


New York State Legislature gives women the right to vote, but voters reject bill.


Voters approve bill giving women the right to vote. This is three years before ratification of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution which extended this right nationwide.

1929 - 1939

In October of 1929, the stock market crashes marking the beginning of the Great Depression from which the United States does not emerge until 1939.


World War II.


New York State's Constitutional Convention of 1938 is held and for the first time women take part.


"Cold War" begins.


New York State Legislature passes laws establishing the New York State University.


Korean War.


State Legislature creates Temporary Commission on the Constitutional Convention which provides information to delegates on the State Constitution. In 1958 the Commission is replaced with the Special Committee on the Revision and Simplification of the Constitution which makes recommendations for constitutional changes. By the end of 1958, this special committee is replaced by the Temporary Commission on the Revision and Simplification of the Constitution which also generates reports containing recommendations regarding the State Constititution.


Every 20 years, as mandated by the State Constitution in Article XIX, voters are allowed the opportunity to vote for a Constitutional Convention. This year, voters reject call for Constitutional Convention.


Office of General Services is established by Governor Rockefeller.


Vietnam War.


Temporary State Commission on the Capital City (i.e. Wilson Commission) is created by New York State Legislature. A report by this commission recommends cleaning the exterior of the Capitol building and commissions the "South Mall Project" where state offices would be near the Capitol and Executive Mansion.

January, 1962

New York State Legislature appropriates money for "South Mall Project" which eventually becomes known as the "Empire State Plaza." Construction on plaza begins in July with Wallace K. Harrison as the principal architect.


New York State Senate and Assembly are ordered to reapportion districts by United States Supreme Court "since legislative districts needed to be approximately equal in terms of population." With this declaration: 1964 members are to serve one year based on old districts; in 1965 a special election is to be held and newly elected members are to serve one year; and in 1966 a regular election is to be held based on the new districts and new members are to serve regular terms. When the Senate and Assembly fail to reach a compromise on reapportionment in February of 1966, a commission is set up by the Court of Appeals to create a reapportionment plan.


Capitol Building's exterior is cleaned. This process reveals an off-white, Maine granite.


New York State's Constitutional Convention of 1967 is held. From this convention comes the recommendation to reassign the reapportionment task from the Legislature to a bipartisan commission, but this proposal is rejected by voters.

January, 1972

The Legislative Office Building (LOB), which is part of the Empire State Plaza, is completed and houses the offices of legislators.


Every 20 years, as mandated by the State Constitution in Article XIX, voters are allowed the opportunity to vote for a Constitutional Convention. This year, voters reject call for Constitutional Convention.

May, 1978

Empire State Plaza is renamed Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza.

1978 - 1980

The Senate's chamber is restored to original state. Corridors and lobbies surrounding the chamber are also restored.


New York State Capitol in Albany is declared a National Historic Landmark by the United States Department of the Interior.


The Temporary State Commission on the Restoration of the Capitol is created by the New York State Legislature. Its recommendations include: restoring the Senate Staircase, Assembly Chamber, Great Western Staircase, the Assembly Staircase, Washington Avenue Lobby, Court of Appeals, Golden Corridor, and Red Room. It also recommends restoring the skylights; developing the Central Courtyard; and installing fire-safety measures in upper floors.


Gulf War.


The Temporary New York State Commission on Constitutional Revision is created to spread information about constitutional reform and prepare voters for 1997 vote for Constitutional Convention.


Every 20 years, as mandated by the State Constitution in Article XIX, voters are allowed the opportunity to vote for a Constitutional Convention. This year, voters reject call for Constitutional Convention.



A major renovation of the Capitol begins. Restorative measures begin on various parts of the Capitol including the roof, Great Western Staircase, dome above the Great Western Staircase, elevators, and outside lights.

September 11, 2001

World Trade Center is attacked in New York City. In the months to come, the United States deploys troops to Afghanistan to fight terrorism.

September 13, 2001

Both Houses of the State Legislature meet in an historic joint session and adopt resolution condemning the recent terrorist attack.

September 17, 2001

New York State Legislature passes legislation to combat terrorism. (Chapter 300, Laws of 2001)

Spring, 2002

Process of reapportioning the Senate and Assembly districts begins since districts must be reviewed and reapportioned every ten years based on federal census information. Using 2002 Census data and the formula in the State Constitution which determines the number of Senate districts, the size of the Senate is increased from 61 to 62 districts.

January, 2012

Due to redistricting, new boundaries for congressional and state Assembly and Senate districts takes effect for the 2012 elections, increasing the size of the Senate from 62 to 63 districts.


The New York State Legislature is a bicameral legislature, including the Senate with 63 senators elected every two years from 63 Senate districts and the Assembly, with 150 assemblymen elected every two years from 150 Assembly districts.


Text Sources: David M. Ellis, et al., A History of New York State, (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1967); David Zdunczyk, 200 Years of the New York State Legislature (Albany Institute of History and Art, 1978); C.R. Roseberry, Capitol Story, (New York State Office of General Services, 1982); New York State Legislature, 100 Questions and Answers About the New York State Legislature, (Albany, New York State Legislature, 1976); Peter J. Galie, Ordered Liberty: A Constitutional History of New York (New York: Fordham University Press, 1996); Peter J. Galie, The New York State Constitution: A Reference Guide (Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1991); The New York State Assembly: an Historical Perspective (Albany: New York State Assembly, 1987); Paul Grondahl, "Raising the Roof," The Times Union (Albany, New York) 9 Dec. 2001: G1;

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