City Document — No. 1
HON. JAMES RITCHIE, MAYOR,
CITY COUNCIL OF ROXBURY,
DELIVERED BEFORE THE
TWO BRANCHES IN CONVENTION,
JANUARY 1st, 18 5 5.
PRINTED BY ORDER OF THE CITY COUNCIL.
NORFOLK COUNTY JOURNAL PRESS.
CITY OF ROXBURY.
In Board of Aldermen, January 1, 1855.
Ordered, That the Address of His Honor the Mayor, delivered this day,
be printed for the use of the City Council.
Sent down for concurrence.
JOSEPH W. TUCKER, City Clerk.
In Common Council, January 1, 1855.
JOSHUA SEAVER, Clerk.
Gentlemen of the City Council:
By a provision in our City Charter, it is made one of
the duties of the Mayor to communicate to both branches
of the City Council such information, and recommend such
measures, as, in his opinion, the interests of the City may
On this occasion, without entering into details which
will be duly submitted in full by the proper officers, I will,
in accordance with custom, present an outline of the policy
to be recommended.
In reference to our City Debt, now amounting to $202,-
265.95, I would recommend that measures be taken for
its diminution by the sale of such City property as is not
needed for City purposes. This property is confided to
our care as a sacred trust. We should take such a course
as to its disposal, as common sense would dictate to us in
the management of our own estates.
Small as is our debt, compared with the value of our
City property and the wealth of our citizens, it is not so
small that its diminution is not desirable. There are
objects for which a City debt ,may be advantageously in,
curred j such as the accomplishment of some great enter-
prise, which is to benefit posterity even more than our-
selves. As a general rule, however, each generation should
do its own work and pay for it. Posterity will have
4 MAYOR'S ADDRESS. [Jan.
enough to do for itself, without being burdened or hamp-
ered by the debts of progenitors.
By a judicious sale of a portion of our City property,
and a prompt payment of our obligations as they fall due,
united with a proper economy, and a resolution to pay for
what we need, our whole debt may readily be extinguished
in the year 1864. I shall favor a policy tending to such a
result, in the full faith that debts, whether public or pri-
vate, have in them the seeds of strife and dissension, and
are in no way conducive either to public or private virtue,
to the interests of individuals, or the welfare of communi-
Many and great improvements have been made during
the past year in our streets and sidewalks, and I trust that
a similar policy may be continued. There is occasion for
much to be done in this regard, and every thing should be
done which the public good requires, and the public will, as
manifested by its appropriations, demands. When the in-
terests of the City plainly and clearly require streets to
be made or widened, or other improvements to be effected,
the work should be done in no spirit of mean economy,
but freely, without delay, and after the best and most ap-
Our beautiful Cemetery at Forest Hills has been much
improved the past year, and the debt therefor has been di-
minished about $4000. At present, the amount of the debt
is, in round numbers, $26,000. Our other Cemeteries, on
"Warren and Eustis Streets, should not be neglected. They
are not in such condition as for the credit of the City
might be desired. In such a City as ours, places like
these should be well protected, and tastefully ornamented.
The Roxbury Gas Company have laid in our streets
about eight miles of pipes, which, during the past week,
have been filled with gas that has afforded a remarkably
clear and brilliant light for many of our dwellings and
shops. Arrangements should be made as soon as possible
1855.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 5
for the use of this gas in lighting our streets. A well-
lighted City is always attractive, not only by its appear-
ance but by the security it affords to property and life.
The Fire Department deserves your attention. The
value of this, rightly conducted, is greater than can easily
be estimated. Exposed, as are our firemen, at all seasons
and hours, without expectation of pecuniary recompense,
to save the lives and property of our citizens, they are en-
titled to great consideration and high regard. All their
proper and reasonable requests, either for the improve-
ment of their engines, or, in any way, to facilitate their
operations, should meet with a prompt and cordial re-
sponse. It should be our pleasure, as it is our duty, to
lighten their labors, and encourage and promote their gen-
The Police Department is one of very great importance,
and its proper organization and efficient action have an in-
timate relation to the good order and welfare of the com-
munity. It is very desirable that justice should be admin-
istered with becoming dignity. Offenders against the laws
should feel an awe of a court, and an assurance that impar-
tial justice will be meted out to them. Police officers
should have an abiding consciousness of their responsibil-
ity to a court, whose decisions will be similar from week
to week, and ever calculated to command their respect.
It is important, moreover, that we should be able at once
to refer to a record of cases, and have a fixed locality for
the trial of offenders. Such a court would give a fairer
opportunity for the accused, and prevent the possibility of
many serious abuses. Such courts have been established,
with good results, in most of the cities and large towns of
this Commonwealth. I recommend an early application to
our Legislature for an act to establish a Police Court in
The office of a City Marshal, or of a Chief of Police,
seems to me an essential one to the due regulation and
6 MAYOR'S ADDRESS. [Jan.
efficiency of our police department. Such an officer is re-
cognized in very many of our ordinances ; and I would
recommend to the consideration of the City Government
the early enactment of an ordinance, authorizing the ap-
pointment and prescribing the duties of a City Marshal or
Chief of Police.
I would also call the attention of the City Council to
the subject of remuneration to police officers for their ser-
vices. In my opinion, this should be fixed at a reasonable
rate, and not fluctuate with the number of arrests, or the
amount of fees. Police officers should be definitely and
adequately remunerated for their arduous and, oftentimes,
dangerous services, and all fees should be paid into the
I commend this whole matter to your serious attention,
and trust that it will be considered and decided upon its
merits, and whatever your decision may be as to the organ-
ization of our police department, you may be assured that I
shall do the best I canto promote its efficiency and usefulness.
In enforcing the laws it is especially incumbent upon us,
as guardians of the public welfare, to direct our efforts
steadily and resolutely in that line in which seems to lie
the moral and social good of the community. The general
sentiment of this City is clearly opposed to dram shops
and drinking saloons, and demands that every possible
effort should be made for their suppression. Much was
done, in this respect, by my predecessor previous to the
decision of the Supreme Court against the fourteenth sec-
tion of the statute. That decision seems, in some degree,
to have paralyzed effort, and given boldness and confidence
to the violators of law. Still the public good so manifestly
demands the enforcement of the law against tippling shops,
that every practicable endeavor should be made to give
efficiency to its provisions.
A suitable establishment for the maintenance of our
poor will require your consideration. The State Pauper
1855.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 7
law has caused the removal of most of our paupers from
Brook Farm to Bridgewater. Not more than one-tenth of
the usual complement has been left. The removal of these
from an institution at a distance from the City to a nearer
locality, seems desirable both on account of convenience
and expense. The cost of maintaining the poor for the
coming year will, under any probable circumstances, be
A generous care for the poor is a duty and an honor ;
and I feel confident that the Board of Overseers will do
all that an enlightened and liberal humanity demands.
The present season is one of peculiar distress, and it is
our duty to mitigate the sufferings of the poor by every
reasonable provision. The want of employment is very
great. It fortunately happens that we may advantageously,
in Roxbury, do something, in part, to meet this want. We
shall require a large quantity of broken stone, next spring,
to be used on our streets. There is a ledge on the High-
land Street estate, which can be removed with great bene-
fit to the property. The stone is hard, and admirably
adapted for road building. The employment of a number
of our distressed people on this ledge, would profit the city
in various ways. There are, too, streets to be raised and
filling in to be done, which might be put under contract
now at much lower rates than in summer, and would give
employment to men and teams. By well-timed expedients
of this nature, we can do more for the poor, and for the
general good, than by the establishment of many gratui-
tous soup depots, or the bestowal of abundant alms. I
would recommend the immediate adoption of some such
measure as has been named, for the benefit of the unem-
ployed, and for the interest of the City.
During the past year large expenditures have been made
for the accommodation of our Schools, and much credit is
due to the past School Committee and City Council for
the promptitude with which they have met the public wants.
8 MAYOR'S ADDRESS. [Jan.
No outlay for school buildings will probably be required
the present year, and perhaps not for several years. Some
permanent provision for the establishment of evening
schools, for those who cannot avail themselves of the ad-
vantages of our day schools, ought to be made, and I trust
that, during the present year, this matter may receive care-
The whole theory of our schools is very admirable.
Practically there is need of great care in establishing and
maintaining the truest and best relations between the sev-
eral grades. In teaching, thoroughness is the great requi-
site. The pupil of the Primary School should be thor-
oughly trained to a certain point before admission into the
Grammar School ; and the pupils of the latter should have
ensured to them a degree of education suitable for the or-
dinary business of life, as well as for the advanced course
of the Latin or High School. It should be always borne
in mind that many scholars will go no farther than the
Grammar School, and that a certain completeness of train-
ing must be had there.
An extended and thorough education should be the am-
bition of every pupil ; for it opens the way to honorable
and useful situations, and inspires our youth with nobler
aims and aspirations. Our Grammar schools should kindle
this ambition, and should be tested, as to usefulness, by the
practical business men they furnish, and the number of
scholars, thoroughly prepared, transferred from them to
the Latin and Hio-h schools.
Our High School for Girls, one of the first in this re-
gion, gives us an enviable pre-eminence. This promises to
supply the best education freely to those prepared for it,
and will in time furnish many good teachers for our schools,
and for those in this vicinity.
Every thing that will add efficiency to our system of ed-
ucation, should receive full and prompt encouragement.
Should our Committee urge the advantages of establishing
1855.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 9
a Superintendent of Schools, I trust they will be carefully
and favorably considered.
Most of us have never before been connected with the
administration of municipal affairs in this City, and are
wholly uncommitted by the acts of our predecessors, and
prepared to consult for the present and future welfare of
the City, regardless how our acts may reflect upon those
of past governments. The old questions and prejudices,
former methods of procedure, and courses of policy are to
be our teachers, not our masters, conveying lessons, but
not dictating lines of action. There are advantages as
well as evils incident to a change in the managers of muni-
cipal affairs. Our duty is to shape our acts by the immut-
able principles of right, to seize upon the advantages of
our position, and carefully and prudently avoid its evils.
Harmony of action is essential to efficiency in government ;
and harmony of action can only result from mutual defer-
ence and forbearance. We have sworn to consult for the
public good. Whatever comes before us is to be consid-
ered solely in reference to its bearing upon the general
interests, unaffected by our individual prejudices. We
have assumed solemn responsibilities this day. We shall
all be held answerable for the measures adopted or
rejected. In proposing any policy of action, or any par-
ticular measure, I shall use my best judgment, with no in-
tention or desire of pressing it, unduly, upon your accep-
tance ; but ever with the hope that it will be thoroughly
examined and criticised, and with the determination, in a
spirit of courtesy, and with respectful deference, to regard
your decision as the calm and deliberate policy of the City
Government, which it is my bounden duty faithfully to carry
forward and execute ; — and may God bless our delibera-
tions, and cause them to eventuate in the promotion of the
best good and highest interests of the City.