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Full text of "[City documents, 1847-1867]"

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City Document — No. 10. 

THE 

VALEDICTORY ADDEESS 



OF THE 



HON. SAMUEL WALKER, MAYOR. 

DELIVERED BEFORE THE 

BOARD OP ALDERMEN, 

DECEMBER 26th, 1853. 




PRINTED BY ORDER OF THE BOARD OF ALDERMEN. 



ROXBUilY: 

NORFOLK COUNTY JOURNAL PRESS, 
1853. 



CITY OF ROXBURY. 



In Board of Aldermen, December 26, 1853. 
Ordered, That the Address of His Honor the Mayor, delivered before the 
Board this evening, be entered at length upon the Journal, and printed for the use 
of the City Council. 

JOSEPH W. TUCKER, City Clerk. 



CITY OF KOXBURY. 



In Board of Aldermen, December 26, 1853. 
Alderman G. Curtis offered the following resolves, which 
were passed unanimously : 

Resolved, That the members of this Board, tender their warmest thanks to the 
Hon. SAMUEL WALKER, for the dignified and impartial manner in which he 
has presided over the deliberations of the Board, and the satisfactory manner in 
which he has discharged the other duties incumbent on the office of Mayor. 

Resolved, That in retiring from the office of Mayor, we trust that he will no 
forget that he has still an interest among us, and a duty to perform in advancing 
the prosperity and welfare of the city, and that as one of its citizens he will ever 
cherish the good old name of Roxbury. 

His Honor the MAYOR responded to the resolves sub- 
stantially as follows : 

Gentlemen of the Board of Aldermen: 

The time has nearly arrived when our official relations 
will be brought to a close, and I should do violence to my 
own feelings, were I to take leave of you without express- 
ing the obligations I feel to each and all of you for the aid 
you have rendered me in the discharge of the duties incum- 
bent on my position. I tender to you, gentlemen, my grate- 
ful acknowledgements for the kindness and courtesy that 
you have uniformly extended to me since our official con- 
nection. The meetings of the Board, gentlemen, have been 
pleasant, agreeable and harmonious ; and although we may 
have differed in opinion upon measures and matters brought 
before us for our action, — which of course must be expected 
in every deliberate body, — yet no difference of opinion has 
at any time in the slightest degree interrupted or affected, 
for a single moment, the happy and agreeable relations 
that have existed between us. During the time I have 
been connected with the government, as a member of this 



4 VALEDICTORY ADDRESS. [Dec. 

Board, of the Common Council, and as Mayor, my inter- 
course with my associates has been exceedingly pleasant ; 
and I can bear my testimony to the faithful, efficient, and 
energetic manner in which those who have been connected 
with me have discharged their various duties. 

Our schools are in a prosperous condition. The Commit- 
tee under whose supervision they are have never been un- 
mindful of their duties, nor the teachers unfaithful to the 
trusts committed to their hands. I say it with pride, gen- 
tlemen, that our schools are equal to the best in the Com- 
monwealth. Appropriations have always been promptly 
and cheerfully made by the City Council for their mainte- 
nance and support. At this moment we have three gram- 
mar, one intermediate, and twenty-eight primary schools, 
with a corps of fifty-three efficient teachers. Besides these, 
we have the English High and Latin Schools, organized as 
two of the public schools, and under the joint management 
and direction of the Board of Trustees and the School Com- 
mittee. These two schools are supported chiefly by a fund 
managed by Trustees, who, by law, are required to see to 
the disbursement of it ; and the city, as you are aware, 
pays only for their support what the income from the trust 
funds falls short of doing. 

Since the organization of our present form of govern- 
ment, the average cost per year of maintaining our schools 
— that is, for pay of teachers, fuel, &c. — has been upwards 
of $22,500, and in the same period of time we have built 
two commodious grammar school-houses and nine houses 
for primary schools, at a cost of nearly $69,000. These, 
gentlemen, show us that we have ever been mindful of the 
cause of education. 

The highways, gentlemen, have been greatly improved. 
All of us can remember their condition a few years since, 
though at that time they might be equal to those of the 
neighboring towns. The improvements made are visible. 
A few years ago we had but very few sidewalks — now we 
have many, and more are needed. We have laid many 
miles of edge stones, paved gutters and cross-walks. This 



1853.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 10. 5 

work, I trust, will go on. Improvements of this character, 
gentlemen, are required, and they will continue to be made, 
I trust, as the public necessity and convenience require 
them, by those who succeed in office. 

Our police affairs have been well conducted. Perhaps 
there is nothing connected with the administration of the 
government so difficult to manage, and make satisfactory 
to the public, as that of matters pertaining to the police. 
The officers, in the discharge of their duties, must necessa- 
rily encounter opposition, and oftentimes receive censure, 
when they deserve praise. I have reason to believe that 
the City Marshal has discharged the duties of his office 
promptly and efficiently. Good order has been maintained, 
and the interests of our city have always been protected. 
I have uniformly found this officer ready, either by day or 
night, to execute my orders, and the orders of the Board. 

Our fire department, gentlemen, is orderly and efficient. 
No city, I believe can boast of having a better one. My 
experience here enables me to say, that the officers and 
members have been prompt at ^11 times in saving the prop- 
erty of our citizens from the devouring element, and my 
official intercourse with them has been at all times pleasant 
and agreeable. 

In my communication at the commencement of the year, 
I alluded to the importance of providing more and better 
hght for our streets. As it is well known to you, gentlemen, 
a Gas Company has recently been organized, and will, as 
soon as practicable, proceed to the work of erecting the 
necessary buildings, and laying the pipes through our 
streets, and will be ready to furnish the people and the 
city with any amount of light they may desire. 

There are other subjects, gentlemen, connected with the 
history of our aflairs, that I should be pleased to allude to ; 
but at this hour of the evening, I should not feel justified in 
detaining you with details, or in bringing before you the 
various matters which have received the sanction of the 
government, and have proved advantageous to the city. 
The Cemetery at Forest HillSj though opposed at the tim.Q 



6 VALEDICTORY ADDRESS. [Dec. 

of its purchase by many of our citizens, is now admitted 
by all to have been one of the wisest acts of the govern- 
ment. The purchase of Brook Farm, was regarded by 
some as unwise, but results have shown that the number of 
inmates in the institution, since they have been removed 
there, has been diminished, and the cost of their support 
greatly reduced ; and the farm, for the two years past, has 
spoken so well for itself that I need not add a single word 
in its favor. 

Within the last three years our heritage has been divided. 
A portion of our territory has been set off and incorporated 
into a new town. However much we regretted this act of 
separation, and however unwise we believe it to be, it will 
always give me pleasure, gentlemen, as I know it will you, 
to learn of the success of the new town of West Roxbury, 
and the prosperity of its inhabitants ; and all of us will be 
happy should their hopes and expectations be fully realized, 
for there are those among them who have served with us in 
the councils of the city, and for whose opinions and good 
judgment we, in common ^ith our fellow-citizens, always 
entertained the highest respect ; and I trust that the asso- 
ciations formed, and the many pleasant and happy hours 
we have passed together, may always be remembered by 
us, and never be forgotten by them. 

I cannot retire, gentlemen, without alluding to a subject 
of grave importance which is now again before the people 
of this city, upon which they will soon give an expression 
of opinion. I allude, gentlemen, to the matter of annexa- 
tion — a matter that affects the interest of 17,000 inhabitants 
and more than $13,000,000 of property. In my first com- 
munication to the two branches, I stated my views some- 
what at length, and have since seen no reason to change 
them; but on the contrary, observation and experience 
confirm me stronger in the opinions I then entertained. 
These opinions are known to you, and to my fellow-citizens. 
I have never sought to conceal them, and I know of no good 
reasons why I should conceal them now. A free expression 
of opinion on matters of high public concern is a right 



1853.J CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 10. 7 

belonging to every individual in this community, of which 
he cannot be deprived. 

Two years since this subject was fully investigated before 
a committee of the Legislature, and that committee, after a 
very laborious and protracted hearing, unanimously gave 
the petitioners leave to withdraw, and their report was 
accepted by both branches of the Legislature. The com- 
mittee say that they "examined with all the care and 
diligence of which they were capable, during a protracted 
hearing of the evidence presented before them, both for 
and against the union of the two cities, and have come to 
the conclusion that although Boston at some future period 
may include within her limits not only Roxbury but all the 
towns and villages within a circuit of four to six miles : 
when such a union will be sought by the city herself, to 
make room for her inhabitants and to increase her influence 
and popularity abroad ; but in the ojyinion of the committee^ 
the exigency had not yet arrived when it would be advanta- 
geous for the citizens of Roxbury to change their municipal 
relations, or for the County of Norfolk to dissolve its con- 
nections iDith the city of Roxbury. All the ivants and diffi- 
cidties complained of by the petitioners could be as loell 
supplied and remedied without annexation as with it.^^ 

This, gentlemen, was the result of that investigation. 
All the reasons offered for annexation were fully and care- 
fully considered. What neio reasons now exist for that 
measure I do not profess to know. But I can say for my- 
self, that if ten good reasons existed in favor of it, and ten 
good reasons against it, I should oppose the measure ; and 
if fifteen good reasons existed in favor of it and ten only 
against it, I should hesitate even then. It is a safe maxim^ 
gentlemen, " to let well enough alone." 

For two hundred and twenty- three years the people of 
Roxbury have enjoyed the rights and privileges of self- 
government ; they have, for that period of time, managed 
their own affairs with their own means and by their own 
resources; they have always been at peace with their 
neighbors, and have maintained a high character among 
the towns of the Com_m_onwealth, 



8 VALEDICTORY ADDRESS. [Dec. 

The census reveals to us the fact that we have increased 
in population and wealth far beyond our neighbors: we 
gained in ten years 10,006 in population, or one hundred 
and twenty and a quarter per cent. There were only three 
towns in the Commonwealth that gained so much. These 
were the towns of Chelsea, Milford and Natick : Brookline 
gained 109 per cent. ; Cambridge, 80 1-2 per cent. ; Dor- 
chester, 75 per cent. ; Charlestown, including Somerville, 75 
per cent. ; Boston, 65 1-4 per cent. In valuation, also, our 
gain has been still greater. With these facts before me, I 
see that we have much more than kept pace with the towns 
and cities in our vicinity. With such progress, gentlemen, 
I feel content, and I am fully convinced that our interests 
and local affairs can be better protected and advanced by 
ourselves than entrusted to the management of others. 

I cannot conclude, gentlemen, without bearing my testi- 
mony to the prompt and faithful manner in which the 
responsible duties of City Clerk and City Treasurer have 
been performed. These officers have, by their unvarying 
kindness, laid me under personal obligations, and it gives 
me great pleasure to acknowledge how much they have 
aided me in the performance of my public duties, and to 
assure them of my respectful consideration. 

In retiring from official station to the walks of private life, 
I can truly say, gentlemen, that many of the happiest hours 
of my life have been spent in the councils of this city, and 
I shall often look back upon them with most agreeable recol- 
lections, and with emotions of pleasure, and although I may 
not be connected with the administration of the Government, 
I shall always feel a deep interest in whatever may tend to 
promote the welfare of the City and the prosperity of its 
inhabitants. And my earnest prayer is that happiness and 
prosperity may ever attend each one of you. And may 
the Almighty Being, who watches over us, guide and direct 
you in all your undertakings, and vouchsafe to the people 
of this city the choicest of His blessings.