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itvi Document — No. 1.
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DELIVERED BEFORE THE
TWO BRANCHES IN CONVENTION,
JAIUASY 7, 1856.
PRINTED BY OEBER OE THE CITY COUNCIL.
JOSEPH G. TORREY, PRINTER, 94 EUSTIS STREET,
CITY OF ROXB URY.
IN BOARD OF ALDERMEN, JANUARY 7, 1856.
Ordered, That the Address of His Honor the Mayor, delivered before the
two branches of the City Council in convention, be printed for the use of the
Passed and sent down for concurrence.
JOSEPH W. TUCKER, City Clerk.
IN COMMON COUNCIL, JANUARY 7, 1856.
Concurred. JOSHUA SEAVER, Clerk,
Gentlemen of the City Council:
Having met together in the Council Chamber, to
organize the municipal government for the present
year, allow me to congratulate you on the continued
prosperity of our city : — a prosperity, which, being
based on a solid foundation, cannot be otherwise than
healthy and permanent.
The local advantages of Roxbury, are self-evident.
Order and quiet prevail in our midst ; a protecting
hand is extended over person and property : and our
institutions and laws are calculated to urge us forward
in a progressive age, and promote the well-being and
happiness of our citizens.
The population of Roxbury, in 1851, when "West
Roxbury was organized into a separate township, was
fifteen thousand and twelve. It has since increased in
a ratio of but little less than a thousand a year, and
it now numbers nearly nineteen thousand inhabitants.
During the past year, many substantial dwelling houses
have been erected : and the wealth of the city has
increased in a ratio at least as rapid as the population.
In 1852, the year succeeding the incorporation of
West Roxbury, the valuation by the Assessors, of the
real and personal estate was 11,935,200 dollars, and in
May 1855, the valuation was 15,577,200 dollars,
showing an increase in the wealth of the city, of
4 MAYOR'S ADDRESS. [Jan.
3,642,000 dollars in four years, or at a rate, exceeding
900,000 dollars a year.
The education of children is an obligation incum-
bent on every city or town; for on the intelligence of
the people, depends not only their welfare, but the
stability of all our institutions. It is the firm founda-
tion, the mighty rock, on which the Federal Union it-
self reposes. I rejoice to be able to say that our city
maintains its well earned reputation for the excellence
of its schools, and the facilities it furnishes for the in-
struction of the children of all who reside within its
limits. At the present time, the number of our schools,
is thirty-seven; the average number of scholars, is 2921 :
the number of Teachers employed, is sixty-four, of
whom fifty-seven are females. In this number of
schools are included a High School for boys, and a
High School for girls ; and also a Latin School, which,
although not under the immediate care and direction
of the city government, is open to all who wish to avail
themselves of the advantages of a classical education,
preparatory to entering a college. The expenses of
maintaining these schools, the past year, and keeping
the buildings in repair, including an amount of 11,000
dollars paid towards the erection of school houses in
1854, was 43,722 dollars, or more than one-fourth part
of the whole expenses of the city government.
The Cemetery at Forest Hills, is an institution of
which Roxbury may well be proud. A debt of grati-
tude is due from the inhabitants of this city and the
neighboring towns to that public spirited citizen, who
conceived, and was so instrumental in carrying into
successful execution the scheme of preparing a resting
1856.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 5
place for the dead, on that beautiful spot, thickly strown
with the charms of nature. Ever since his own re-
mains were deposited within its hallowed precincts, his
regulations and plans, with but trifling modifications,
have been followed ; and the result, in every point of
view, has been most satisfactory.
Since the consecration of that City of the Dead, a-
bout one thousand lots of land have been sold, aver-
aging for the last three years, about one hundred and
fifty lots a year ; and it is not likely that the demand
will be less, until every eligible lot within its bounda-
ries, shall be in a condition to receive its still and quiet
inhabitants. By a wise regulation, which cannot
be evaded, the funds received from the sale of lots, are
to be appropriated to embellishing the grounds, and
paying off the- original debt, which amounted to 36,-
894 dollars. The Cemetery has been kept in excellent
condition : the paths have been multiplied, and the
grounds improved in beauty every year ; and the debt
has been diminished from time to time, until the a-
mount now, is but 24,000 dollars. The whole debt
will undoubtedly be liquidated in the course of a few
The construction and repairs of Highways, Bridges
and Sidewalks, constitute an important item in the
city expenditures. Much has been done, and much
remains to be done. And the calls from every part of
the city for expensive improvements in these respects,
are still numerous and urgent. During the past year,
the amount expended for these Objects, exclusive of
the expenses incurred by widening Washington street,
was 24,779 dollars. A considerable portion of this
6 MAYOR'S ADDRESS. [Jan.
sum was used in constructing sidewalks, and laying
25,000 feet (nearly five miles) of edgestones; more
than double the amount ever before laid in a single
By the removal of the State paupers to institutions
belonging to the State, the cost of maintaining the poor
has been greatly diminished ; and Roxbury, compared
with other cities and towns in the Commonwealth, has
now but little reason to complain of the burden which
is imposed upon her in the shape of paupers. Arrange-
ments have been made by which the poor are comfort-
ably lodged, and well provided for. The expenses for
the support of the poor the past year, have been 3,795
The Fire Department of Roxbury is -established on
a good foundation. The value of a good organization
of this department is acknowledged by all. No reas-
onable expense has been spared to keep it in an effi-
cient condition, and well provided with the means of
extinguishing fires. Happily during the past year, the
number of fires, and the amount of property destroyed,
have been comparatively inconsiderable. The expenses
of this Department, chiefly owing to extra expendi-
tures for additional materials, have been greater than in
former years, amounting to 1 0,287 dollars. The wood^
en buildings in the city in proportion to the whole
number of buildings, is very large, and in many cases
they stand in clusters, for which reason a destructive
fire, that would test all the force and value of our ac-
tive and energetic Department, would, I fear, at no time
be regarded as a surprising event. No reasonable
1856.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 7
amount of expense or care can be ill bestowed in pro-
viding against so serious an emergency.
In the preservation of order, the detection of crime,
and the enforcement of the laws, an efficient and faith-
ful Police is at all times necessary. During the past
year, a change, which, it is believed, will prove bene-
ficial, has been made in the mode of compensation for
the services of Police Officers. They now receive an
increased amount of pay, per day ; and the fees are
paid into the City Treasury. The amount of expenses
of the Police and Watch Department, for the year end-
ing December 1st, after deducting 712 dollars, being
the amount of fees received, was 6,694 dollars. The
ordinary expenses of this Department, as might perhaps
be expected, are increasing from year to year. In 1 85 4,
the expenditures amounted to 5,370 dollars, and in
1853, only 4,419 dollars.
Gas having been introduced into the city, it has
been lately used in the City lamps, greatly to the con-
venience of the people ; but extra expenditures have
been caused by the erection of suitable lamp posts, and
by providing additional lamps in various parts of the
city. The expenses for these objects, and for lighting
the streets through the year, amounted to 9,194 dol-
During the past year, a discretionary power has been
given to the Committee on lamps : and several institu-
tions and offices have been established, which, it was
believed, would subserve the interests of the city. The
expediency and utility of these measures, have now, to
a certain extent, been tested ; and whether it will be
8 MAYOR'S ADDRESS. [Jan.
wise to continue them, in their present shape, or to
modify or abolish any or either of them, will be a ques-
tion for your consideration.
And I will here take occasion to repeat the trite
maxim, that " much government is an evil." There
can be no doubt that laws for a State, or ordinances
for a city, which are not absolutely necessary, or clear-
ly demanded by public opinion, are evils rather than
blessings. The machinery of government, should al-
ways be characterized by simplicity as well as by
strength. A multiplicity of laws, or ordinances heap-
ed on ordinances, render it complicated and difficult to
The aggregate amount of the public property, in-
cluding the City Hall, School Houses and other pub-
lic buildings, as well as the materials of the Fire De-
partment, &c, must of course increase with the gen-
eral prosperity of the city, and the demand for public
buildings. In 1848, the value of all the public prop-
erty was estimated at 154,000 dollars; on the 1st of
February 1851, the estimated value of the city proper-
ty was 207,260 dollars. The real estate belonging to
the city on the 1st of December last, was estimated at
217,861 dollars, while notes due the city, secured by
mortgages, amounted to 58,449 dollars, making the
whole value of the public property 276,312 dollars.
Of this large amount, however, but a portion can
ever be used for defraying the expenses of the govern-
ment, or the liquidation of the city debt. The real
estate of the city, which, in case of an emergency,
might be made available for these purposes, consisting
1856.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 9
principally of land, is estimated as worth only about
49,350 dollars. If we add to this the amount of notes
secured by mortgage, 58,449 dollars, we shall have the
amount of the consolidated resources of the city, mak-
ing the aggregate sum of 107,799 dollars.
In this estimate, I do not include the disputed claim
of Koxbury to lands in the Back Bay, the value "of
which, even were the full claim legally established,
would be prospective and uncertain.
The annual expenditures of the City Government
must vary according to the demand for public im-
provements through the whole year : and in several
instances, particularly in the years 1852, 1854, and
1855, they have largely exceeded the amounts con-
templated at the commencement of the year, and pro-
vided for by taxation, and receipts from other sources.
The aggregate amount of expenditures in different
years, however, will hardly give a correct idea of the
character of different administrations, so far as econ-
omy is concerned. This can only be arrived at by
examining the different items of expenditure : ascer-
taining the amount of notes renewed or taken up,
and funds received from other sources than taxation.
In 1852 a large expenditure was incurred in making-
important improvements in Ward Three ; and in 1 85 5 ,
besides the State tax, 9,918 dollars, Washington street
was widened at an expense up to December 1st, of
over 19,000 dollars, and other extra expenses, to
which I have already alluded, were increased. The
expenditures, however, in connexion with the compara-
tively small amounts raised by taxation, will serve to
10 MAYOR'S ADDRESS. [Jan.
show the general principle which has been establish-
ed, and brings me to the snbject of the city debt.
In the year 1846, when Roxbury became a city, the
debt amounted to only 22,776 dollars : hi February,
1851, the city debt was 48,476 dollars. In February,
1853, it was 186,810 dollars. On the 1st of Februa-
ry, 1854, it was 181,110 dollars. On the 1st of Feb-
ruary, 1855, it was 209,265 dollars; and on the 28th
day of December last, the city debt amounted to
While the city debt has been thus rapidly augment-
ing, the rate of taxation has been increased from five
dollars on a thousand in 1846, to seven dollars and
eighty cents, during each of the past three years. Any
deficiency hi the amount of funds necessary to meet the
expenditures, must be raised by a loan, which, as the
security is good, is easily effected ; and in this way a
large city debt has been created, and is annually ac-
I have stated that the available funds of the city, in
every shape, amount at a fair estimate, to only about
107,799 dollars. If we deduct this from 243,765 dol-
lars, the amount of the City's indebtedness, the result
will be about 136,000 dollars, which the city of Rox-
bury now owes, without any available means of liqui-
dating, excepting by taxing the property of the citizens.
It should also be recollected, that the annual interest
of the whole debt, 243,765 dollars, will amount to
upwards of 14,000 dollars.
This amount of debt has been incurred from time
to time, as I have already intimated, by the erection
1856.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 11
of school houses • the abatement of nuisances ; in-
creasing the accommodations of the poor ; widening
and otherwise improving the streets ; and for other
objects, the immediate accomplishment of which, was
by the proper authorities believed to be for the public
It may be said that our City Debt is not so large
as to give any reasonable cause of alarm. This may
be so. Yet it is manifest that if the same system of
expenditure, taxation, and credit be continued, it will
in a few years become undesirable and inconvenient ;
and may prevent or retard any judicious plan to ben-
efit the city, and cause an onerous tax to be imposed,
which will neutralize, to a very considerable extent,
the advantages that would otherwise be realized. This
is a subject well worthy the attention of the members
of the City Council.
The people of Roxbury have a right to expect all
the benefits which ordinarily attend a wisely adminis-
tered government. The streets must be kept in re-
pair, and lighted, and widened, or new ones construct-
ed, as public convenience may require. The Alms-
house establishment must be provided for, and the
poor, who are always with us, must be clothed and
fed. The Public Schools must be cherished, and if it
may be, improved. The Fire Department must be
kept well organized. The interest on the city debt
must be paid. Public officers expect to be remuner-
ated for their services. A Police force must be kept
on duty, order maintained, the laws enforced, and
criminals arrested and brought to justice. These ex-
12 MAYOR'S ADDRESS. [Jan.
penses are necessary, and can hardly be stinted ; and
if judiciously regulated, will be cheerfully defrayed by
our citizens in proportion to their means.
What we have particularly to guard against, how-
ever, is a system of expenditures for objects and im-
provements, which, however desirable, are not abso-
lutely or immediately necessary ; and cannot be ob-
tained without borrowing money : thus increasing our
pecuniary obligations, and imposing a burden on pos-
terity without corresponding advantages.
This system of borrowing money to defray the or-
dinary expenses of a city, may be regarded as a fault
of the age, and has proved a source of great detri-
ment, I had almost said, ruin, to cities in every sec-
tion of the Union, possessing, in other respects, all
the elements of prosperity. Let us take warning by
As a general principle, the expenses of a city or a
town, should not exceed its amount of taxation. Ex-
ceptions of course, should be made in cases where some
gigantic and well digested scheme of public improve-
ment is to be realized, with the approbation of public
opinion. A heavy debt hanging over a city, is a mis-
fortune. It is a bar to desirable improvement and
wholesome enterprise. It is an incubus which checks
its growth, and strangles its prosperity.
I need hardly say that the present Municipal Gov-
ernment is confidently looked to by the people to check
this growing disposition to expend money, with an ex-
hausted treasury, for objects which are not indispen-
sable ; to restrain the city expenditures within a com-
1856.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 13
pass, the amount of which may be met without putting
our credit in requisition, or imposing an unreasonable
tax upon the people.
To bring about this result, it will be advisable that
the appropriations at the beginning of the financial
year, should be carefully and deliberately made : that
we should consider wisely and well, not what may be
wished, for the increase of our comforts, and the em-
bellishment of our city, but what amount of funds the
citizens can afford to expend for such objects — and
the moneys thus appropriated, and no more, should be
judiciously expended : all the officers of government
should be held to a strict accountability : no unneces-
sary offices should be created or allowed to exist ; and
a system of rigid economy should be introduced into
every department of government.
In this way, we shall avert the evils of an approach
to that state of bankruptcy which would seem to be
ere long, the inevitable fate of many cities in the Union,
now in apparently a nourishing condition ; and pave
the way towards the solid improvement of our city, and
the durable prosperity of its inhabitants.
And now, gentlemen of the City Council, we, hav-
ing been selected by our fellow citizens, to manage the
city business for the present year, and having under-
taken that responsible trust, it behooves us to enter
upon the work with a determination to do our duty ;
to cultivate, above all things, a spirit of harmony in
our councils ; to act in all cases, according to our de-
liberate judgment, without being influenced by fear,
favor, affection, or self-interest. Let us at all times
14 MAYOR'S ADDRESS. [Jan.
remember, that we are delegated to do the people's
business, and not our own.
With less experience in the affairs of the city, or in
a practical knowledge of its wants, than any of my
predecessors, I must, and do confidently rely upon you,
Gentlemen, members of the City Council, for your ad-
vice and assistance in devising good and wise regula-
tions, and also for your support in carrying into effect
the Ordinances of the City, and the Laws of the Com-
JOHN S. SLEEPER.
CITY OF BOSTON.
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