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



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itvi Document — No. 1. 



ADDRESS 



'fim |fi|n SL 'Sleeper, papr, 



DELIVERED BEFORE THE 



TWO BRANCHES IN CONVENTION, 
JAIUASY 7, 1856. 




PRINTED BY OEBER OE THE CITY COUNCIL. 



ROXBUEY: 

JOSEPH G. TORREY, PRINTER, 94 EUSTIS STREET, 

1856. 



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 
City Council. 

Passed and sent down for concurrence. 

JOSEPH W. TUCKER, City Clerk. 

IN COMMON COUNCIL, JANUARY 7, 1856. 
Concurred. JOSHUA SEAVER, Clerk, 






ADDRESS. 



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 
years. 

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 
year. 

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 
dollars, 

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- 
lars. 

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 
manage. 

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 
2 



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 
243,765 dollars. 

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- 
cumulating. 

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 
good. 

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 
their example. 

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- 
monwealth. 

JOHN S. SLEEPER. 



PUBLIC LIBRARY 

OF THE 

CITY OF BOSTON. 



ABBREVIATED REGULATIONS. 

. One volume can be taken at a time from the 
Lower Hall, and one from the Bates Hall. 
Books cau be kept out 14 clays. 

A line of 2 cents for each volume will be 
incurred for each day a book is detained more 
than 1-1 days. 

Any book detained more than a week be- 
yond the time limited, will be sent for at the 
expense of the delinquent. 

No book is to be lent; out of the household 
of the borrower. 

The Library hours for the delivery and re- 
turn of books are from 10 o'clock, A. M., to 
8 o'clock, ]?. M., in the Lower Hall; and from 
10 o'clock, A. M., until one half hour before 
sunset in the Bates Hall. 

Every book must, under penalty of one dol- 
lar, be returned to the Library at such time 
in August as shall be publicly announced. 

The card must be presented whenever a 
book is returned. For renewing a book the 
card must be presented, together with the 
book, or with the shelf-numbers of the book. 



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