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

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City Document. — Wo. 13. 
VALEDICTORY ADDRESS 



HIS HONOR JOHN S. SLEEPER, 

MAYOR OF ROXBURY, 



DELIVERED DEFOHE 



THE CITY COUNCIL 



MONDAY EVENING, DEC. 27, 1858. 




PRINTED BY ORDER OF THE BOARD OF ALDERMEN. 



EOXBUBY : 
L. B. & O. E. WESTON, PRINTERS, GUILD ROW. 

1858. 



Cits ni $0*krjr. 



In Board of Aldermen, Dec. 27, 1858. 

Ordered, That two thousand copies of the Address of His Honor the 
Mayor, be printed, for the use of the City Council and distribution to the 
citizens. 

JOSEPH W. TUCKER, City Clerk. 



CITY OF EOXBURY. 



In Board of Aldermen, December 27, 1858. 
Alderman Leland offered the following resolutions, 
which were unanimously adopted : 

Resolved, That the thanks of this Board be presented to His Honor the 
Mayor, for the faithful and impartial manner with which he has presided 
over its deliberations, during the Municipal year now about to close. 

Resolved, That by his experience in municipal affairs, by industry and 
by careful attention to the preparation and transaction of business, he has 
rendered valuable service to our fellow-citizens, lightened our labors, and 
promoted the interests of the City. 

Resolved, That we trust that the gentlemanly courtesy which has at all 
times marked his intercourse with the members, has been fitly acknowl- 
edged by the uninterrupted harmony of our meetings. 

Resolved, That in his retirement from an office, perplexing in its nature, 
and involving labor rarely appreciated, we tender him the compliments of 
the season, and our kind wishes for his welfare and happiness. 

The Common Council having expressed a wish to be 
present during the delivery of the Mayor's Valedictory 
Address, a Convention of the two branches was held in 
the Council Chamber, when the Mayor responded to the 
foregoing resolves in the following 

ADDRESS: 

Gentlemen, — 

The resolutions you have just adopted, embodying the 
kindest sentiments towards myself, entitles you to my 
warmest thanks — and the more so, as I do not regard 
them as a mere matter of courtesy, a sort of official cere- 
monial, that may mean any thing or nothing, but as the 
genuine transcript of your feelings ; and as such, I feel not 
only grateful but proud. 



4 CITY DOCUMENT. — No. 13. 

The office of Major of Roxbury, although an honorable 
one, is an arduous and responsible one, and surrounded 
with difficulties, which you can well understand. The 
duties of the office are of a character deeply affecting the 
prosperity of our City, and the interest and happiness of 
the inhabitants; and if I have been able, during the past 
twelve months, to render services of value to my fellow- 
citizens, it is to you the credit should be given. You, 
gentlemen, have, one and all, encouraged me in my efforts, 
advised me in my perplexities, and supported me in my 
resolutions. 

Representing the different sections of the City, and all 
the political parties of the day, you have met at this Board, 
on an elevated platform, free from sectional or political 
bias, animated by a sincere wish to promote the public 
good, and adminster the government wisely and well. It 
is undoubtedly owing to this cause, to this deep-seated 
mainspring of your actions, that union and harmony have 
presided over our deliberations, to an extent seldom ex- 
perienced in any municipal assembly. And it is owing to 
this fidelity to principle : this devotion to duty : that the 
citizens of Roxbury express satisfaction at the manner in 
which the business of the government has been transacted. 

Roxbury is a city increasing rapidly in population and 
wealth. Its convenient and healthy location, and other 
manifest advantages enjoyed by the inhabitants, render it a 
desirable residence. Important and expensive improve- 
ments of various kinds, and especially in our streets and 
highways, are thus rendered necessary, in order to meet 
the wants of an age in which " progress " is the watch- 
word; and to correspond with the healthy growth and 
increasing importance of our City. 

These improvements during the present year have been 
numerous. They have drawn heavily on the time, and 
deeply exercised the care, judgment, and attention of 



VALEDICTORY ADDRESS. 5 

members of the City Government. I can refer only to a 
few. 

Material alterations have been mado in the City Hall, 
by which commodious rooms and offices have been pro- 
vided for the different departments — an improvement 
which has long been needed, and urgently pressed year 
after year, on successive City Governments. 

The basement story of the City Hall has been neatly 
fitted up and furnished for the head quarters of the Police 
— where the City Marshal holds his office ; and where an 
officer is stationed to respond to any call that may be made 
on that department. 

A new and convenient school house, well constructed, 
and of an improved model, has been erected near Tremont 
Street, to meet the pressing demands for further school 
accommodations in that section of the City. 

A neat and substantial edifice, built very properly of 
brick, and which may be regarded as an ornament to the 
City, has been erected at the junction of Warren and 
Dudley Streets, to take the place of the unsightly engine 
house, formerly occupied by two companies of the Fire 
Department. 

Streets have been extensively repaired in different parts 
of the City : sidewalks have been constructed, edgestones 
set, gutters paved, crossing stones laid, and substantial 
culverts built or repaired. 

Streets have also been widened. In Tremont Street 
land has been taken for that purpose during the year, 
amounting to 23,355 feet; and by an expenditure which 
may be regarded as moderate, compared with the benefits 
it would ensure, an important and continuous portion of 
that much-travelled public avenue can be immediately 
widened and finished off, to the proposed width of 80 feet, 
according to the prospective plan. 

By the extension of Water (now Rugglcs) Street from 



C CITY DOCUMENT. — No. 13. 

Shawmut Avenue to "Washington Street, a new and impor- 
tant avenue to the western part of the City has been 
opened, which will accommodate many people, and greatly 
contribute to the advantages of both sections of the City. 

The completion of the new public highway, known as 
Shawmut Avenue, extending from the Boston boundary line 
to Washington Street; and the reconstruction of the 
"Dcdham Turnpike," a work of vast magnitude, and of 
great importance to the inhabitants not only of Roxbury 
but of a large portion of Norfolk County, furnish impor- 
tant facilities for public travel, and must add materially to 
the value of property along the whole line of the road. 

Resolves have been adopted, and the land taken, for 
widening and properly grading that part of Vernon Street, 
extending from Shawmut Avenue to Washington Street, a 
work which has been too long delayed, and which would 
have been completed the present season, were it not for 
the early and unexpected severity of the weather, which 
rendered necessary the postponement of any action until 
after the commencement of another year. 

During the present year, a series of surveys have been 
made and facts ascertained, with a view to determine upon 
some general system of Sewerage — a subject of the 
greatest importance to the City, and the want of which is 
felt by every occupant of a dwelling house, and by every 
owner of a lot of land on which it is desirable to place 
one. The result of these investigations has been embodied 
in a Report, accompanied with various plans and profiles, 
giving the level of streets, and showing the practicability 
of establishing a thorough system of drainage and sewer- 
age, whenever the citizens are ready to furnish the means. 

Accompanying this Report is a Resolve, which was 
adopted by the City Council, recommending as one means 
of effecting this great object, an annual appropriation of a 
sum, not less than 10,000 dollars, which, it is believed, if 



VALEDICTORY ADDRESS. 7 

judiciously expended, together with reasonable assessments 
on abuttors, will in a few years supply, to a great extent, 
an acknowledged want, and increase the prosperity of our 
City. 

A plan has also been devised after much consideration, 
and unanimously adopted by the City Council, and the ini- 
tiative step has been taken, for draining the low lands in 
Roxbury, between "Webber and Northampton Streets, a 
section, the condition of which has for years been a re- 
proach to our City, and which imperatively requires some 
immediate action, by which a noisome, unhealthy quagmire, 
dotted with pestilential pools, will be converted into a de- 
sirable site for valuable dwelling houses. 

The Public Schools of Roxbury are at the present time 
in a good condition. The pupils at the last annual exam- 
ination made an appearance, with which their teachers 
may well be proud. Owing to the increase of population, 
further expensive accommodations are even now required 
for Grammar School scholars. But there is a noble feel- 
ing on the part of the people in favor of sparing no pains 
or expense in the cause of education, but to make Roxbury, 
in this respect, equal at least to any city in the Common- 
wealth. 

To these improvements and advantages, I may add the 
existence of an efficient system of Police : an orderly 
population, where mobs, riots or street affrays are un- 
known; a well organized Fire Department; lamps lighted 
with gas in nearly every street : and a regular, rapid, and 
cheap mode of conveyance to and from Boston, by means 
of the Metropolitan Railroad. 

It is also gratifying to know that the expenses of the 
government, including the cost of the important improve- 
ments to which I have alluded, will be met, with no proba- 
bility of adding to the standing City Debt, beyond the 
loan which was negotiated at the beginning of the year, 



8 CITY DOCUMENT. — No. 13. 

for defraying the extension of Water Street, and the con- 
struction and repairing of Shawmut Avenue. 

While these and other public improvements have been 
made or suggested by the City Government, the enterprise 
and energy of individuals have not been asleep. Even 
the late revulsion in the great business world, which shook 
to the foundation many prosperous communities, and par- 
alized for a time the hand of enterprise, has passed gently 
over our City. Individuals have suffered — but the march 
of progress has not been stayed. 

Streets have been laid out in different sections: low 
lands have been drained ; and hills and ledges removed ; 
and valuable locations for pleasant and desirable residen- 
ces, have been thus, as it were, created. Real estate has 
experienced no depression in value, and buildings of every 
character have increased to an extent within the present 
year, which has probably no parallel in the history of our 
City. 

Since the first of January last, it is ascertained by care- 
ful investigation, that dwelling houses have been erected 
in this City, of a class costing 3000 dollars and upwards, 
to the number of 86 ; while 135 buildings have been 
erected within the same period, which cost each more than 
800 dollars and less than 3000 dollars. The total value of 
these buildings cannot be less than half a million of dol- 
lars, and in many cases, they have materially increased the 
value of property in their vicinity. 

These facts, and others which might be adduced, prove 
beyond cavil, that Roxbury possesses within her limits all 
the elements of a rich, populous and flourishing City ; and 
that the citizens of Roxbury, managing their own affairs, 
and living under a government of their choice, enjoy bless- 
ings for which they should be grateful to a benignant Prov- 
idence. Not only is the present condition of our City 
bright, but it shines brilliantly in perspective : it is rich in 



VALEDICTORY ADDRESS. 9 

the promise of the future, unless we should mistrust our 
own wisdom in governing ourselves, voluntarily sacrifice 
our independence ; and for the sake of an experiment, pass 
the wand of authority into the hands of others. 

Gentlemen, having been three times called to this offico 
by my fellow-citizens ; and having taken my place each 
time unpledged to any one, and untrammelled by party 
ties : free to act as my conscience and judgment might 
direct, I have aimed to do right ; and, on this miniature 
scale, in the dying words of the venerable and good Har- 
rison, " carry out the true principles of government," irre- 
spective of party, sect, section, clique, or individual. And 
although the duties of the office have been various, compli- 
cated and responsible, and sometimes onerous and vexa- 
tious, yet the cares and perplexities have been more than 
counterbalanced by a consciousness of being able to render 
particular services to some of my fellow-citizens, and to 
subserve the general interest of the whole. 

The broad financial policy which it has been my aim to 
adopt, was on the one hand to avoid a lavish expenditure 
of the public moneys for objects of doubtful utility — and, 
on the other, to steer clear of that system of parsimony, 
which dwarfs the institutions of a City or a State, arrests 
the hand of enterprise, and contemns the reasonable wants 
of a growing community. 

If we look back some eight or ten years, and contrast 
the condition of Roxbury at that time with its condition 
now, we shall the more readily realize and appreciate the 
improvements which have since taken place, and the increas- 
ed advantages, which the inhabitants now enjoy. Much has 
been done, and well done, by successive administrations, 
and much has been left undone, which will put in requisi- 
tion the acknowledged ability and skill of our successors. 
2 



10 CITY DOCUMENT. — No. 13. 

Iii consequence of the magnitude of certain undertakings 
the present year, to which I have referred, prudence seem- 
ed to require that some expensive improvements that were 
obviously proper in themselves, and even the consideration 
of others, should be postponed to another year. Among 
these objects may be mentioned, the paving of Dudley 
Street, from the Post Office to Eliot Square ; — the exten- 
sive repairing of Centre Street, and construction of side- 
walks through that street, from Eliot Square to the 
Bridge : the repairing of the southern portion of Parker 
Street, and construction of sidewalks on the same : the 
widening of Washington Street, fronting the Sumner es- 
tate, according to the prospective plan established by a 
former City Government ; — the grading and opening of 
Hunneman Street, thus completing a straight and commo- 
dious avenue, from Washington Street, over Norfolk Ave- 
nue, to Dorchester: — the alteration of the direction of 
Heath Street, at its junction with Parker Street, by carry- 
ing it directly across Stony Brook and the Providence 
Bailroad, to Highland Street, thus greatly improving the 
character of the road, and remedying the evils attending 
the present dangerous railroad crossing, which have been 
long complained of j — the extension of Plymouth Street 
to Dudley Street ; — and the opening of a new and impor- 
tant highway, extending from Longwood Avenue across 
agricultural grounds to Parker Street, thence to Tremont 
Avenue. 

The consideration of these important undertakings, and 
of others, perhaps of equal importance, must be bequeath- 
ed as a legacy to our successors. 

Gentlemen, while I tender you my sincere acknowledge- 
ments for the assistance you have rendered me during the 
year, I will take this opportunity to confess my obligations 
to the members of the Common Council, and other mem- 



VALEDICTORY ADDRESS. 11 

bcrs of the City Government; — to the City Treasurer 
and the City Clerk, for their faithful services, which have 
lightened my labors, and entitle them to the confidence of 
every good citizen: and also to the heads of the different 
departments, for their fidelity in the performance of their 
various duties. 

Gentlemen, we have often conferred together during the 
year which is rapidly passing away, in relation to the in- 
terests of Roxbury. The time is approaching — is near 
at hand — when we shall separate, to meet in this connec- 
tion, no more. But allow me to hope that the friendly re- 
lations we have cultivated at this Board, will not be sev- 
ered, but will be continued at other times, and under other 
auspices. 

Allow me to assure you, that I fully appreciate and 
reciprocate the kind feelings expressed in the resolutions 
which have just been read ; that you have my best wishes 
for success in your future undertakings in this life, and for 
your happiness, both here and hereafter. 

JOHN S. SLEEPER.