Tilden's site illustration for- The Proposed Tilden Trust Library
(aka New York Public Library)

Passed March 26, 1887; three-fifths being present.

WHEREAS, John Bigelow, Andrew H. Green, and George W. Smith, the Executors and Trustees of the last will and testament of Samuel J. Tilden, deceased, have, in pursuance of provisions of said will and testament, made application to the Legislature for the enactment of the following act; and,

WHEREAS, The said executors and trustees deem it inexpedient to designate any purpose of the corporation herein and hereby created other than the establishment and maintenance of a free library and reading-room in the city of New York, in accordance with the purpose and intention of said testator; therefore:

The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly, do enact as follows: 

SECTION 1.The said John Bigelow, of Highland Falls, in Orange county, and Andrew H. Green and George W. Smith, of the city of New York, and such other persons as they may associate with themselves, and their successors are hereby created a body corporation and politic under the name and title of the Tilden Trust.

SECTION 2. The said John Bigelow, Andrew H. Green, and George W. Smith shall be permanent trustees of such corporation in accordance with the intention of the said will in that behalf. Within ninety days from the passage of this act they shall designate and appoint, in writing, other trustees, so that the number of trustees shall not be less than five.

SECTION 3. One-half of the other trustees so designated and appointed shall hold office for the term of one year and the other half thereof for the term of two years. After such designation and appointment shall have been made, every trustee appointed to fill any vacancy in the board of trustees shall hold office for the term of two years. Any vacancy which may at any time occur in said board through death, resignation, incapacity, expiration of term, or otherwise, shall be filled by the remaining trustees.

SECTION 4.All the powers of the said corporation shall be vested in the trustees. They shall have the power to appoint a president and vice president, secretary and treasurer, of whom the secretary and treasurer need not be members of said board. Such officers shall hold their offices upon such tenure, and shall receive such compensation as the by-laws may prescribe. Said trustees shall also have power to appoint such other officers and agents as the proper conduct of the affairs of said corporation shall require, removable at the pleasure of the board, and to fix their compensation.

SECTION 5. The said corporation shall have, in addition to the powers now conferred by law upon all corporations as such, the capacity and power to establish and maintain a free library and reading room in the city of New York, for these purposes it shall have power to demand, recover, accept, and receive all such money and other property, real or personal, as is given to it by virtue of the will of Samuel J. Tilden, or shall be conveyed or transferred to , or in any manner bestowed upon, it by the aforesaid executors and trustees by virtue of the powers therein conferred upon them; and the said corporation shall have power to hold, manage, improve, dispose of, and convey all property at any time received or acquired by it in such manner as may be best calculated to carry out its objects and purposes.

SECTION 6. The said corporation shall accept and receive all such money or other property as is given to it by the said will of Samuel J. Tilden, or shall be conveyed or transferred to, or in may manner bestowed upon, it as aforesaid by the aforesaid executors and trustees, subject to the terms and conditions expressed in and imposed by the said will of Samuel J. Tilden, in respect to the gift or gifts therein and thereby made or provided for, to a corporation to be formed and to be known as the Tilden Trust, and the said corporation shall have power to make and enter into any obligation or obligations to secure due compliance with such terms and conditions.

SECTION 7.The said corporation shall possess the powers and, except as may be otherwise provided by this act, be subject to the provisions, liabilities, and restrictions contained in the third title of the eighteenth chapter of the first part of the Revised Statutes, but nothing herein contained shall affect the rights of any parties to any action now pending or of any heir-at-law of said Samuel J. Tilden, deceased.

SECTION 8.This act shall take effect immediately.

The Nephews of Samuel Tilden were in a lot of debt and being pressured by their creditors to challenge and contest the will's 35th clause.  They succeeded, and because of their success the Tilden Trust and the NY Public Library had many disappointments. They lost a small fortune to the  nephews that was to go to the building of the free library. 

“To the Mayor, Alderman, and Commonalty of the City of New York:

The trustees of the Tilden Trust, incorporated by chapter 85 of the Laws of the State of New York, passed the 21st of March, 1877, respectfully represent,
That the late Samuel J. Tilden having in his will, a copy of which is hereunto annexed, made provisions for his heirs-at-law and certain legatees, sought, by the thirty-fifth article of said instrument, to consecrate the remainder of his estate to the creation of an institution to be know as the Tilden Trust, with capacity to establish and maintain a free library and reading room in the city of New York, and to ‘promote such scientific and educational objects as his executors and trustees might more particularly designate.’
That the validity of the thirty-fifth clause of said will was successfully contested by the heirs-at law of the testator and pronounce invalid. Pending such litigation, and in view of the uncertainties, expense, and delays incident to litigation of this character, the trustees of the Tilden Trust deemed it prudent, prior to the argument of the case in the Court of Appeals, to accept the terms of a settlement proffered by one of the parties contesting said will, in virtue of which the Tilden Trust became possessed of about one third of that part of the estate that had been intended by the testator for such trust, from which they expect to realize from two to two and a quarter million dollars, the annual income form which may be moderately estimated at $80,000.
That the trustees of the Tilden Trust are anxious to apply this fund in the way that shall prove most advantageous to the people of the city of New York, and at the same time most strictly conform to the wishes and expectations of the testator as manifested in his will.
That the income of this trust is insufficient to provide suitable buildings for the accommodation of such a library as was contemplated by the testator, and in addition to equip and operate it if suitable accommodations for its installation are provided from other sources.
In view of these facts, and in view of the fact that the city of New York is not only more destitute of library accommodation than any other city of its size in the world, but more destitute than many cities in our own country of far less wealth and population, the undersigned trustees of the Tilden Trust, respectfully invite your honorable bodies to consider the propriety of availing yourselves of this opportunity of establishing a library commensurate with the magnitude and importance of our commercial metropolis, and taking measure to provide for it the requisite accommodations, with the understanding, to which the trustees of the Tilden Trust hereby avow their readiness to become parties, that they will equip and operate such library so soon as such accommodations can be provided.
By order of the Trustees of the Tilden Trust,
John Bigelow,

October 22, 1892

On the 2nd of May, 1893, Governor Flower approved an act passed by Legislature authorizing the Commissioners of Public Works, on the request of the Commissioners of Public Buildings, to cause the old city hall ‘to be removed, re-erected, furnished, and equipped elsewhere upon the property therein, belonging to the Mayor, Aldermen, and Commonality of the city of New York, with the consent of the Department of Public Parks, if such property shall be subject to the jurisdiction of such department. If said building shall be removed and re-erected, the same shall be done in such manner as said Board of Commissioners shall determine, with alterations as may in their judgment be rendered necessary by the site selected and the purpose to which such re-erected building shall be devoted, and as may be in harmony with the present general architectural features of the exterior of said building.
On the same day the Governor approved of an act authorizing the Department of Public Works, with the sanction of the Board of Estimate and Apportionment, to remove the reservoir from Bryant Park.
On the same day the Governor also approved of an act which authorized the Department of Public Parks, to contract with the Tilden Trust for its use and occupation of any building that may be hereafter erected in pursuance of law upon land belonging to the Mayor, Aldermen, and Commonalty of the city of New York between Fortieth and Forty-second streets and between Fifth and Sixth Avenues in said city, and establishing and maintaining therein a free library, and carrying out the objects and purposes of said corporation.
It was hoped and expected that these measures would result in soon giving to the commercial metropolis of the United States a library commensurate with its magnitude, needs and resources, and thus fitly commemorate its obligations to one of its most eminent citizens and generous benefactors. That prospect, unhappily, has been indefinitely postponed by the repeal of the act authorizing the removal of the old city hall. In what way, if any, the municipal government will give effect to the disposition it manifested in 1893 to provide a suitable structure for the Tilden library neither the Trustees nor the public have as yet an intimation. 

Reference:  The Life of Samuel J. Tilden, by John Bigelow