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Full text of "Address of Henry L. Williams"

ADDRESS 



HENRY L. WILLIAMS, 



MAYOR OF 



SALEM, MASS., 



ON THK OCCASION OF 



THE DEDICATION 



ITY H 



ALL 



J 



'XTENSION, 



May 8, 1876, 



WITH THB 



Proceedings of tl\e City douqdil. 



s a i . i : M : 

PRINTED AT THE OFFICE OF TIIK SALEM GAZETTE. 
1876, 



ADDRESS 



HENRY L. WILLIAMS, 



MAYOR OP 



sa-XjIeim:, imi^ss.. 



ON THE OCCASION OF 



THE DEDICATION 



(City Hall Extension, 



7 j 



May 8, 1876, 



WITH THE 



'Prodeediii^ of tl\e City Council. 



S A L E M : 

PRINTED AT THE OFFICE OF THE SALEM GAZETTE. 
1876. 



-S/S/f 



Sum tmk»own 



CITY OF SALEM. 



In City Council, 

Salem, May 8, 1876. 

The Committee on the extension of the City Hall, 
take pleasure in reporting the completion of the work 
put in their charge. More time has been taken on the 
work than we had expected, but the delay was caused 
mostly by changes and additions to the original plans, 
and improvements in the old part of the hall, not an- 
ticipated at the beginning. The original appropriation 
of $16,000 was intended to cover the cost of the new 
building and fixtures, a new safe, and changes in the 
rooms of the City Clerk, and the Treasurer. Notwith- 
standing a large amount of "extras" which were put 
in to make the work more complete, the cost of the 
improvements will not be more than $500 in excess of 
that appropriation. A further sum of $7,000 was ap- 
propriated to cover the cost of furnishing and fitting 
the rooms and passage-ways, and for payment of land 
damages. The expenditures under this appropriation 
will be about $7,500. A further appropriation of about 
$1000 will be needed, making the whole cost of the im- 
provements about $24,000. The Committees of this 
and the past year have earnestly endeavored to secure 
the best results, as to convenience, durability, and econ- 
omy, from the appropriations placed at their disposal, 
and we trust the City Council will be fully satisfied 
with the manner in which the Committee have dis- 



charged the trust. The entire satisfaction expressed by 
the occupants of the various rooms, and by those of 
our citizens who have examined the building, is a grati- 
fying evidence to the Committee that they did not ask 
for :i useless expenditure, and that they were correct in 
their judgment that public necessity required the en- 
largement and improvement of the City Hall. 

We have now a City Hall of which we need not be 
ashamed, and one, which, considering its moderate 
cost, for comfort and utility is superior to many which 
represent hundreds of thousands of dollars in some of 
our larger cities, and one which will meet all our re- 
quirements for the present century. The various rooms 
have been assigned as follows : On the first floor, 
south side, the Treasurer and Collector, Superintendent 
of Schools, Fire Department, Wenham Water Board, 
Committee Room ; and on the north side, the City 
Clerk, Committee Room, Messenger and Janitor, Su- 
perintendent of Burials, Overseers of the Poor. On 
the second floor, (rear,) south side, Aldermen's room, 
Mayor' s Private room, Street Commissioner and Com- 
mittee on Accounts ; on the north side, Committee 
'Room, Board of Assessors. The Committee deem it 
advisable to make some changes in the Ordinance re- 
lating to the duties of the Messenger, and submit here- 
with an Ordinance in accordance with their views, and 
recommend its adoption. 

For the Committee, 

G. R. Chapman, Chairman. 

(The Ordinance above referred to, was subsequently adopted. 
See Record of Ordinances.) 



In Mayor and Aldermen, 

Salem, May 8, 1876. 

Ordered, that a message be sent to the Common 
Council, proposing a convention forthwith, for the pur- 
pose of listening to an address from His Honor the 
Mayor. 

Adopted, and sent to the Common Council for infor- 
mation. 

Henry M. Meek, Clerk. 



In Common Council, May 8, 1876. 

Proposal acceded to. 

E. N. Walton, Clerk. 



The two Boards thereupon met in convention, and 
the Mayor delivered the following address : 



ADDRESS. 



Gentlemen of the City Council: 

It seems to me appropriate, that the exten- 
sion of the City Hall and its improvements, now 
just completed, should receive from us something 
more than a passing notice. I therefore ask your 
attention, while I present a brief statement of 
the reasons which have led to these improvements 
and additions. 

The want of a properly constructed vault, of 
suitable size and strength for the preservation of 
the many important records and papers under 
the charge of the City Clerk, as required by the 
Statutes of the Commonwealth, was one of the 
reasons that early in 1875 demanded considera- 
tion; another, was the acknowledged necessity 
for more and better accommodations for the 
Officers of the City Government, and for the 
concentration of all of them, except the Police, 



under the same roof. Before giving you a more 
definite account of the important and much de- 
sired changes that have been effected in this City 
Hall, I would ask your attention while I present 
some historical account of what has been done 
by our fathers in reference to Town and City 
accommodation for government officers since the 
settlement of Salem, two and one-half centuries 
ago. Such a sketch of our municipal history 
seems particularly appropriate in this centennial 
year. Tradition informs us that the first Town 
meetings, or gatherings of the inhabitants,, were 
probably held in an old fort on the height of land 
in what is now Sewall Street, near the site ofthe 
Methodist Church. In this same fort Gov. Endi- 
cott and his Council were accustomed to assem- 
ble. 

Prior to 1655, it is said, a building for Town 
Meetings was erected on the west side of what 
is now Washington Street, several rods south of 
Essex Street, and near or upon the estate now 
owned by Dr. Morse. 

The next structure for Town purposes was 
built in 1(574, southwest of the First Meeting 
House, and near the old Prison. Three years 



afterwards this Town House was removed to 
School Street, occupying a position which would 
now be in the middle of Washington Street, op- 
posite the estate of Robert Brookhouse, Esq., 
and facing to the south. From the increase in 
population and in the wants of the people, it soon 
became apparent that this house was entirely too 
small for their accommodation; and, on the 20th 
day of Feb'y, 1719, a vote was passed to erect a 
new building, 40 feet long by 30 feet wide, and 20 
feet high, — the lower story to be used for Town 
purposes, and the upper or second story for 
Court or Judicial purposes. It was built on Es- 
sex Street, next westerly of the First Meeting- 
House, and was a painted building, said to have 
been white. The fact of its being painted caused 
it to be an object of much interest in those days, 
and attracted considerable notice. It was in 
front of this Town House, on benches or seats 
there placed, that the people were in the habit of 
congregating for the "news," or spending their 
evenings discussing the topics of the day; — it 
was the "High 'Change" of the Town. In this 
hall scenes of the most thrilling and momentous 
character were enacted; here the most eloquent 



10 

appeals were made in the cause of freedom ; here 
were vividly portrayed the wrongs forced upon 
our suffering countrymen; here, in 1774, on the 
5th of October, the General Court having been 
convened at Salem, the Governor issued his proc- 
lamation dissolving the Assembly, but the Patri- 
ots assembled, chose, instead of separating, to 
resolve themselves into a Provincial Congress, 
the first session of which, so memorable in our 
history, was held in Salem in this same Town 
House, on Friday, the 7th day of October, 1774, 
John Hancock being chosen temporary chair- 
man. The transferring of the Assembly from 
Boston to Salem, by the Governor, caused this 
Town House to be called the State House; so 
that this memorable building was at the same 
time the Town House, the Court House, and the 
State House. Should we not, gentlemen, as a 
grateful people, in this centennial year of our 
independence, bear in hallowed remembrance a 
building so dear to the cause of liberty, and place 
some distinguishing memorial near its location, 
that our children and our countrymen may know 
the spot where the building stood in which the 



11 

first move was made toward the establishment of 
government for this now great and powerful na- 
tion? 

Let us do thus much in remembrance of our 
Fathers. 

The last building erected for joint use by 
Town and County, was upon the site of an old 
brick school house that stood on what was then 
School, now Washington Street, directly oppo- 
site the Tabernacle Church, facing Essex Street. 
It was in its day a fine building, two stories high, 
sixty-two feet in length, by thirty-seven in width. 
It was completed in 1786, and cost $7,045, one- 
half of which was paid by the Town, and the 
other half by the County; the cost of the previ- 
ous hall had been divided in the same way. A 
fine representation of this building (which was 
designed by Mr. Mclntire, an accomplished archi- 
tect in his day,) may be seen at the Essex Insti- 
tute. In 1817, the Town of Salem, having built 
for its own use exclusively a new Town Hall 
on Derby Square, sold its interest in the old 
one (on Washington, then Court Street,) to the 
County of Essex, for the sum of $1800. This 
was the last building the Town and County owned 



12 

together for municipal and judicial purposes. It 
is probable that the Town Officers had their head- 
quarters, and perhaps held some public meetings 
of the inhabitants, therein; but there are records 
also of many meetings being held in the First and 
the Tabernacle Meeting-Houses. We find in 
confirmation of this fact, that in 1809 a certain 
sum was charged in the accounts of that year for 
cleaning and repairing the " Tabernacle " after 
Town Meetings. In the earlier period of our 
history, the inhabitants took their arms and am- 
munition to meeting on the Sabbath, for protec- 
tion in case of an attack from the savages. 

These ancient structures were what their name 
imported — Meeting-Houses: they were used for 
all good purposes, both religious and secular, in 
which to worship Almighty God, and in which 
to discuss their domestic or their national inter- 
ests, as their wants required. 

The present Town Hall, much larger than any 
before built, was erected for the use of the in- 
habitants, for municipal purposes, upon Derby 
Square, in 1816-17. On the 20th of May, 1816, 
a committee was appointed, consisting of Samuel 
Putnam, Joseph Story, Joseph Hopes, and Gid- 



13 

eon Tucker, to consider and report at an ad- 
journed meeting upon the expediency of build- 
ing a Town Hall. On the 4th of the following 
month, they made a report in favor of building, 
and appointed a committee, consisting of Joseph 
Peabody, Joseph Ropes, Willard Peele, John 
Crowninshield, William P. Richardson, John 
Punchard, and Joseph Waters, to contract for 
its erection. 

This Hall was one hundred feet long, forty 
feet wide, and two stories high, costing about 
.$12,000. The first public use of it was upon the 
occasion of President Monroe's visit to Salem, 
on the 8th of July, 1817, where he was introduced 
to the ladies and gentlemen assembled. That 
hall was the last used, as a Town Hall, under the 
Town government. 

An Act incorporating the City of Salem hav- 
ing been passed March 23d, 1836, the City Gov- 
ernment was organized in the Tabernacle Church 
on the 9th day of May following; and, after an 
address by the Mayor, the two boards retired to 
their own rooms in the Court House, which was 
formerly used as their Town House, but now oc- 
cupied as a City Hall. On the 3d day of April, 



14 

1837, the Joint Standing Committee on Finance 
were instructed to see what steps were necessary 
to be taken for obtaining' that portion of the Sur- 
plus Revenue of the United States, to which this 
City was entitled. At the same meeting, the 
Mayor, with Aldermen Peabody and Parsons, 
and Councilmen Putnam, Rogers, Shepard, and 
Russell, were made a committee to consider and 
report what measures were expedient to be taken 
to provide suitable accommodations for meetings 
of the Common Council, and for the convenience 
of the Officers of the Government, and to report 
the probable expense thereof. April 10, the 
same year, the City Council voted to accept the 
Report of the Finance Committee, to receive 
the amount of the City's share of the Surplus 
Revenue, under the Act of March 21, 1837. 

May 19, the same year, the committee (of 
April 3d) upon the subject of a new City Hall, 
reported: It was expedient to purchase the estate 
on Court Street, which belonged to Josiah One, 
at a price not exceeding four thousand dollars, 
and also to erect a City Hall thereon; that a 
committee of five be appointed to make said pur- 
chase, and that they cause a brick building to be 



15 

erected thereon for the accommodation of the 
City Government, under their direction and su- 
perintendence, and that they cause the same to 
be completed and furnished as soon as they can 
conveniently; that they be authorized to contract 
for the same, and that the sum of fifteen thou- 
sand dollars of the moneys received from the 
Surplus Revenue be appropriated to defray the 
expense thereof, and that they be authorized to 
arrange with the Hon. Daniel A. White for an 
open way by the northerly side of said building, 
for light and air. March 5th, 1838, the Commit- 
tee on Building the new City Hall recommend 
that the unexpended balance of the Surplus 
Revenue received from the State be appropriated 
for the completion of the City Hall and furnish- 
ing the same ; and, on the 21th of May follow- 
ing, the Mayor, from the Committee on the new 
City Hall, reported that the meetings of the City 
Council be holden hereafter in the public building 
recently erected on Court Street, and that the 
said building be denominated the City Hall; that 
the next meeting of the City Council be holden 
on Thursday next, May 31st, at 8 P. M. 



16 

Conformably to the above vote, the City Coun- 
cil met in convention on the 31st day of May, 
1838, at 8 o'clock in the evening-, for the first 
time in the new City Hall, and listened to an ad- 
dress delivered by the Mayor upon that occasion. 
The City Hall was highly praised, as will be seen 
by the following account, published at the time 
of its completion, which says, "The interior fin- 
ish and arrangements of the edifice correspond 
with its elegance of exterior, and for convenience, 
comfort and beauty, are unsurpassed by anything 
of the kind we have seen, and reflect great 
credit on the building committee, the architect, 
and workmen, engaged in the erection of this 
hall. It will be an enduring monument of their 
taste and skill, as well as a prominent ornament 
of our City." 

The historian, Felt, in speaking upon the same 
subject, says, "Whatever other changes may 
come over it, imagination can furnish no probable 
advance in human inventions which may demand 
the spoiling of its fair proportions, and the sub- 
version of its sturdy material." It will be re- 
membered that the City Hall was paid for by the 
Surplus Revenue received under the Act of 



17 

March 21, 1837. It may be interesting, in this 
connection, to state from what source this Sur- 
plus Revenue came, that enabled us so easily to 
obtain a City Hall. 

The proposition for the distribution of the 
Surplus Revenue, which amounted to about 
$40,000,000, was introduced into the Senate of 
the United States, on the 31st of May, 1836, the 
same year and month that our City Government 
was first organized. The collection in the treas- 
ury of the United States, of a Surplus Revenue, 
was the result of accidental causes which might 
never happen again; there were two principal 
sources of income, viz., the Custom House and 
the Public Lands. The commerce of the coun- 
try had been greatly extended, and its prosperity 
remarkable; the cotton crop of the country was 
exceedingly large, producing a large amount of 
freight for our ships; the heavy exports that 
were made brought back to us, in return, large 
importations of foreign goods, from which, under 
the then high protective tariff, the government 
received large amounts in duties. 

The other cause mentioned was the sale of the 
Public Lands, from which there was at that time 



18 

a large increase of money in the treasury. The 
sales of that year, owing to the remarkable 
growth and prosperity of the country West, 
reached five times the amount estimated by the 
then Secretary of the Treasury, some twenty 
millions of dollars in the aggregate. 

The price of the Western lands, and also of 
Southern cotton lands, compared with the prices 
of other kinds of property, was very low, excel- 
lent arable lands selling for one dollar and a quar- 
ter per acre. This was the first and the only 
distribution ever made of a Surplus Revenue 
from the Treasury of the United States. 

After the distribution of this Revenue to the 
several States, which was made in proportion 
to their population, Massachusetts in turn dis- 
tributed her share among the several municipali- 
ties within her borders; The total amount which 
Salem received of the Surplus Revenue, was 
133,843.49. 

The contractors for building the City Hall, 
(which was 68 feet long by 41 1-2 feet wide, and 
32 feet high, and which cost, completed and fur- 
nished, together with the land, $22,878.69,) were 
Messrs. S. & A. Coburn, Masons; Clark & Brown, 



19 

Carpenters; Kimball & Skerry, Painters; James 
B. Ferguson, Glazier; Frothingham & Cross, 
Heating; Kimball & Sargent, Furniture. 

And now, gentlemen, we have traced the his- 
tory of our municipal accommodations from the 
earliest colonial times, down to this present im- 
provement. As our ancestors, from the day of 
their earliest government, in accordance with 
the wants of the people, sought to improve the 
accommodations for their officers, so it becomes 
our duty, in this our day, to meet the require- 
ments of the time, and provide such apartments 
and conveniences as an intelligent and liberal 
constituency would cheerfully approve. As we 
have nothing in our past history to discourage, 
and have much in our present condition and pros- 
pects to animate us, I may express the fervent 
hope that while we, and our children in ages to 
come, shall continue to assemble in these hallowed 
places, to deliberate upon the important and in- 
teresting questions that will arise, we may do so 
in an intelligent, upright, and patriotic spirit. In 
turning our thoughts back over the space of time, 
since the erection of this Hall, what a history has 



20 

been made up; what extraordinary changes have 
been wrought, in our common country, and in our 
ancient city ! Look at the advance in Natural His- 
tory, and the deep explorations in all its branches. 
In Geology, what most wonderful results have 
been reached! In Electricity and in Chemistry, 
what most valuable discoveries have been made, 
the one substantially annihilating time and dis- 
tance, and the other conquering and destroying 
the power of pain ! 

The vast progress in Science, and its applica- 
tion to the wants of ordinary life in this country, 
since the erection of this City Hall, thirty-eight 
years ago, is equal to that made in any similar 
period in all the world beside. The first tele- 
graphic line, that between Baltimore and Wash- 
ington, was raised six years after this hall was 
built, and now a net work of such wires covers 
the length and breadth of the land. Then it 
took seventy-two hours to send a message by ex- 
press rider from Boston to Washington; now 
but a few minutes are required. 

It will be observed that the original City Hall 
was dedicated in the thirty-eighth year of the 
present century, and now, just thirty-eight years 



21 

thereafter, we find it necessary to double its origi- 
nal capacity. 

On the 23d of March, 1874, the extension of 
the City Hall was first brought to the notice of 
the Government, on the part of the Board of 
Aldermen. Messrs. Luscomb, Icle, and Smith, 
were made a committee upon that subject; but 
at the next meeting of the City Council, April 
13, the Common Council refused to concur, there- 
by defeating the project for that year. The next 
year, July 12th, a Joint Special Committee, con- 
sisting of Messrs. Chapman and Ide, from the 
Board of Aldermen, and Messrs. Brooks, Davis, 
and Brown, from the Common Council, were ap- 
pointed to consider the expediency and estimate 
the cost of providing better accommodations for 
the officers and for the safe keeping of the books 
and papers in the custody of the City Clerk, 
within the requirements of the Statute. The 
following month (Aug. 26,) Alderman Chapman, 
from the Committee on the Extension, made a 
very full and interesting report upon the matter, 
the recommendations in which were adopted by 
a nearly unanimous vote of both branches. 

On the 31st of August, the land in the rear of 



22 

the Hall, belonging to Mr. Thurston, was taken 
under the Statute for the Enlargement of City 
Hall lots; and the same evening it was voted 
that the expense of the "extension" be paid from 
the taxes of 1875 and 187(5. 

January 3d, 1876, a Joint Special Committee, 
consisting of Aldermen Chapman and Brooks, 
and Conncilmen Davis, Getchell and Fowler, was 
appointed, under whose charge the City Hall was 
to be completed. No action of the City Coun- 
cil, involving so large an expenditure of money, 
has ever received more general approbation from 
the people than this improvement. 

We have often, without doubt, heard the state- 
ment, that our pleasant and honored city "has 
kept along at about the same old pace,' 1 that 
"there is not much change," certainly not much 
for the better; but believing that figures may 
change these views, I respectfully submit for 
your consideration the following statement of 
the amount of business transacted thirty-eight 
years ago in this City Hall, as well as that which 
is done at the present time, in order that you 
may realize the change and increase of business 
in this city, which, to say the least, has not been 



23 

checked in her growth and prosperity, and it 
will I think convince our fellow citizens that 
more and better accommodations were needed 
than those afforded by the original portion of this 
City Hall. 

The population of our city has increased, since 
this Hall was built thirty-eight years ago, from 
15,000 to 26,000; the valuation of taxable prop- 
erty from $8,000,000 to $20,000,000; receipts by 
the Treasurer, from $63,000 to $800,000; pay- 
ments, from $66,000 to $805,000; items, in num- 
ber, paid by the Treasurer during the year, from 
654 to 7,008; tax levied, $44,000 to $452,000; 
interest, from $1,700 to $02,000. City debt, 
$37,000 at commencement of City Government, 
to $1,267,000 at the present time. 

The commercial character of our city, it is 
true, has changed essentially from what it was 
thirty-eight years ago. The time was when Sa- 
lem stood sixth in rank among the commercial 
places in America. Thirty-eight years ago Sa- 
lem ships floated on every sea, and brought to 
our wharves the products of every clime, — this 
being their home and where many of them were 
built; their repairs and their outfits gave to the 



24 

seaside of Salem a lively and a business-like ap- 
pearance. 

For a long series of years the East India trade 
was carried on from here to a greater extent than 
from any other port in the United States. Now 
has come the change. The building of the rail- 
road and the telegraph has swept from the small- 
er ports in our country to its great commercial 
centres, the foreign trade that they formerly en- 
joyed. 

This change has caused an almost entire disap- 
pearance from our harbor of Salem ships, but we 
have, in their place, an important provincial and 
coastwise traffic, employing, as will be seen by 
the following facts obtained from the Custom 
House records, about double the amount of ton- 
nage of thirty-eight years ago. 

In 1838, there arrived at Salem, from foreign 
and coastwise ports, vessels measuring about 
120,000 tons. In the year ending April, 1872, 
there arrived 249,216 tons, and last year (since 
the change in the Reciprocity Treaty,) only 
150,098 tons; the number of vessels falling oft' 
from 1812 in the year ending April, 1872, to 1197 
vessels in the year 1875, — about one-third part. 



25 

Salem has ever been strong in the wisdom and 
patriotism of her eminent public men, prominent 
among whom was the first Mayor of this city, 
the Hon. Leverett Saltonstall. 

Thirty-eight years ago this month, here on 
this spot, he addressed the City Council, assem- 
bled upon the occasion of the dedication of this 
City Hall for municipal purposes. The City 
Government had now taken the place of the old 
Town Government, not because the old Town 
Government had not been well administered, but 
because the City Government had become better 
adapted to the wants and interests of our popu- 
lation. And we are here this evening to dedi- 
cate to public uses, the extension which has now 
been well completed. The City Hall has been 
increased in length fifty-five feet, and is of the 
same width and height as the original building. 
In its interior arrangements it is convenient and 
beautiful, and furnished with much care and 
taste, with a due regard to usefulness and dura- 
bility. To the Joint Special Committee, who 
have had this work in charge, and who have so 
well and so faithfully fulfilled their trust, the 



26 

thanks of this Council, I am sure, will be heartily 
given. 

To the architect, William Washburne, Esq., of 
Boston, much credit is due for the practical and 
excellent plan prepared by him, and which has 
\>wn so well carried out b}' our enterprising fel- 
low-citizens and able master mechanics, as fol- 
lows: The Masonry, by Messrs. J. H. & J. 
M. Parsons; the Carpenters' work by Messrs. 
Reed &Lord; the Painting by Mr. C. H. Davis; 
Frescoing by Mr. B. Rowell; Gas Fittings by 
Mr. D. F. Staten; Heating by Messrs. J. D. & J. 
W. Eaton; and Furniture by Messrs. Haskell & 
Saunders. The total cost of the extension of 
the City Hall, — together with the new vaults, and 
improvements and alterations in the offices of the 
City Clerk and City Treasurer, — with the cost, 
also, of the land taken in the rear of the original 
building, and of the complete furnishing of the 
several rooms, amounts to very nearly twenty- 
four thousand dollars. 

I have thus endeavored to present to you, an 
historical sketch of our municipal accommoda- 
tions, with a record of the names of those who 



27 

took an active part, either in the projection or 
completion, of some of the more recent structures. 
And now, gentlemen, I take leave of the 
pleasant duty which I proposed to perform this 
evening, and I heartily congratulate you, as well 
as myself, that we have been permitted to witness 
the completion, and be present at the dedication 
to their appropriate uses, of the rooms allotted 
to the various departments of this city, for the 
better accommodation of its officers, and the 
safety of its records and valuable papers. 



LIBRARY OF CONGRESS 



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