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Kfiity Document^ — No. 1. 







JANUARY 4, 1858. 





^44 ^^ f 


In Boakd of Aldermen, Jan. 4, 1858. 

Oedehed, That one thousand copies of the Address of His Honor 
the Mayor, be printed for the use of the City Council, and for distribution 
among the citizens. 

Sent down for concurrence. 

JOSEPH W. TUCKEK, City Cleric. 

In Common Council, Jan. 11, 1858. 



Gentlemen op the City Council: 

We have assembled here in the Council Chamber this 
day to inaugurate the City Government of Roxbury for the 
year 1858. Important duties have been confided to us by 
the free action of our fellow citizenS; and we have taken a 
solemn oath to perform those duties to the best of our 
ability. It may be that the prosperity of our citizens and 
the honor of our City, for generations to come, will rest on 
the integrity and wisdom of our counsels and actions dur- 
ing the present year. 

Within a few months a fearful crisis has occurred in 
financial operations and business relations of every descrip- 
tion. This disturbing influence has not been confined to 
this community, or to this country. It has been heavily 
felt in all parts of the civilized world : and no class has 
been exempt from the melancholy results of this unpre- 
cedented and universal paralysis of business. The records 
of criminal Courts, Alms Houses and Charitable Institu- 
tions in all our large cities, present a terrible array of 
poverty and crime. 

Our own good City has not been unscathed while the 
withering scourge has passed over the land. There has 
been an unusual amount of loss of property. There has 
been a curb to enterprise. Industry has not met with its 
due reward : and the suffering among the poorer classes 


has been greater than in former years. Yet the condition 
of our City is far more favorable, in many respects, than 
that of other cities of equal population. And notwith- 
standing this sudden, but it is to be hoped temporary, 
check, while sweeping onward in the full tide of prosperity, 
let us not forget that we are in the enjoyment of many 
rich blessings, for which we should be grateful to a kind 
and benignant Providence. 


As our City increases in business and population, there 
must be, of course, a corresponding increase of crime ; and 
the means of furnishing protection to the persons and 
property of our citizens, and preserving quiet and order, 
must also be increased. During the past few months, it is 
well known that crime has multiplied to an alarming extent, 
not only in this and the neighboring cities and towns, but 
in other places, owing in part, perhaps, to want and suffer- 
ing, caused by a scarcity of employment for laboring men, 
and from an idea, which has become too prevalent of late, 
that the plea of poverty is an excuse for crime ,' also from the 
unwise laxity of our criminal laws, and the free exercise of 
the pardoning power. Indeed, it is found that in nearly all 
cases in which arrests have been made for heinous offences, 
the offenders have proved to be hardened criminals, and not 
a few have been objects of misplaced Executive clemency. 

The expenses of the Police Department have of course 
been greater than in former years. But the general good 
order and quiet which have prevailed, notwithstanding the 
increased facilities for visiting our City by the establish- 
ment of the Metropolitan Railroad, and the promptitude 
with which offenders against the laws have been arrested 
and brought to justice, furnish strong proof of the adminis- 
trative ability and fidelity of our City Marshal and his As- 
sistants, as well as of the efficiency of the system and re- 
gulations of the Police Department. 

1858.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 5 

It is seen by recurring to tlic Police Reports for the year, 
that the crime of Drunkenness stands at the head of the 
list of offences ; the number of arrests for that offence hav- 
ing been 404, while the whole number of arrests was 893. 
But the amount of wretchedness and crime of a different 
and more awful description caused by intemperance, is not 
introduced into the schedule. It is left for the imagination, 
and presents a frightful picture. 

The increase of liquor shops and "lager bier" estab- 
lishments, where the vilest kinds of spiritous liquors are 
sold, has undoubtedly been great during the past year, not 
only in this City, but in all the large towns and cities in the 
State. It is much to be regretted that our laws, although 
stringent and severe, according to the letter, seem to be 
inadequate for the suppression of these laboratories of in- 
iquity. And it is well worthy your attention whether 
some plan can not be devised, which may remedy this de- 
ficiency, and diminish these evils ; whether the City G-ov- 
ernment should not come forward and shield the Police 
authorities from personal liabilities, in all well-directed ef- 
forts to lessen, at least, the number of these nurseries of 
crime and pauperism. 


The appointment by the Overseers of the Poor of an 
Agent, to receive and investigate all applications from the 
suffering and the destitute, for relief during the winter 
months, and minister to the wants of those who are entitled 
to assistance, is found to be productive of much good. A 
more uniform and judicious system of outside relief, ap- 
plications for which during the present season are un- 
usually numerous, is thus established. 

The Overseers of the Poor are chosen by the citizens of 
each ward for the execution of important duties. They 
are invested with large discretionary powers; and the 
comfort of the poor and the interests of the City, are to a 


certain extent, dependent on tlieir humanity, discretion 
and firmness. The Mayor is Chairman of the Board of 
Overseers, and is brought in frequent connection with that 
body. He takes part in their discussions and in all their 
proceedings, and a link is thus very properly established 
between an independent branch of the Government and 
the City Council. This connection, it is obvious, must be 
attended with many advantages, and will be likely to lead 
to prompt and judicious action on the part of the City 
Government, whenever any action may be deemed expedi- 
ent by the Overseers of the Poor for the amelioration of 
the condition of that unfortunate class of our population. 

During the year 1857, the number of inmates of the 
Alms House has hardly exceeded the number in previous 
years, the greatest number at any one time having been 
28. The health of the inmates has been generally good: 
no epidemic has prevailed among them: and only two 
deaths have occurred during the year. Their wants have 
been well cared for, and a cheerful home has been thus 
provided for those, who, destitute of means, and unable by 
age, infirmity, or extreme youth, to gain a livelihood by 
labor, have undoubted claims on the city for a comfortable 


Our Fire Department is an important branch of the pub- 
lic service. It is maintained at a great expense. But its 
services, in times of emergency, cannot be over-estimated. 
It has been well managed during the year, and has exhibi- 
ted on every proper occasion a degree of promptitude and 
efficiency, unsurpassed in any city of the Union. For this 
our citizens are indebted to the care, attention, and ability 
displayed by the Chief Engineer and his Assistants, and to 
the zeal, courage, and emulative spirit manifested by the 
members of the Fire Department. 

During the year, the means of protecting the property 

1858.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 7 

of our citizens from the ravages of the devouring element, 
have been greatly increased. Five hydrants have been 
placed in the main pipe of the Jamaica Pond Aqueduct in 
various parts of the City. Two hydrants, by permission 
of the Water Commissioners, have been inserted in the 
Cochituate Water Pipe, in Tremont Street; and three 
large Eeservoirs, at points remote from each other, have 
been constructed. 

The number of alarms of fire during the year 185T, was 
53; the amount of property destroyed, amounted to $27,- 
675; and the amount of insurance on the above property 
"was $16,835. During the year 1856, there were 82 alarms 
of fire ; total loss, $36,710; insurance, $18,346. 

The incidental expenses of the Fire Department, during 
the year, have been large ; and it would be well to ascer- 
tain if any mode of diminishing the expenditures of this 
department, without injuring its efficiency, can be devised. 
By the establishment of Eeservoirs and Hydrants, ju- 
diciously located, it is believed that, in cases of fire, water 
in abundance may be easily and quickly obtained in any 
populous district; and it is to be hoped that further ex- 
penses for such objects will be comparatively nominal for 
some years to come. The Engines and apparatus are be- 
lieved to be generally in good condition, and the several 
Engine Houses are in no need of extensive repairs. 

In making up the rolls of the Engine Companies, care 
and discrimination should be used : and an important duty 
devolves upon the Board of Engineers, as well as the 
Board of Aldermen, who are called upon to act upon the 
names laid before them for approval. Many of the mem- 
bers of our Companies, it is well known, are men of char- 
acter and substance : bold, faithful and efficient, when the 
alarm of fire is given, and at the same time, and at all times, 
good and exemplary citizens. Such men can always be ob- 
tained ; and of such men should our Engine Companies be 
exclusively composed. Idle and dissipated men, with 


equivocal reputations; loungers about the Engine Houses, 
equally ready for a run with the Engine, a drunken frolic 
or a row, are not the kind of men to be depended on when 
daring resolution and energetic action are required ; nor 
are they the kind of men who should be entrusted with the 
City's property. 


The City of Roxbury has always been liberal in regard 
to our common schools — those promoters of intelligence, 
which must be regarded as the corner stone of a good and 
a wise government. The general excellence of our schools 
has for many years been a source of gratification and pride 
to every citizen. Our City authorities have cheerfully aid- 
ed in their support, in accordance with public opinion, 
which has demanded schools for the people of a high char- 
acter, where children of every class can be freely admitted, 
properly trained, and insured educational advantages as 
great at least as can be found in any other populous city 
or town. 

Our School Houses are many, commodious and well sit- 
uated ; our Teachers are able and well qualified, and the 
means provided and moneys expended for education in 
Roxbury, are believed to be as large as in any other City, 
in proportion to the number of children attending school. 
During the past year the expenses of our Schools, including 
the construction and repairs of school houses, have amount- 
ed to the sum of $50,024, while the whole amount appro- 
priated for the expenses of the government during the 
financial year, was $142,160. 

The duties of the Board of School Committee, are dis- 
connected with other branches of the City Government. 
That body has the authority to make all the needful rules 
and regulations : regulate the incidental expenses, and fix 
the salaries of Teachers ; and, being elected by the people 
for these duties, are responsible to the people for their 

1858.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 9 

acts. Nevertheless, owing to circumstances connected 
with the annual examination of our Public Schools the past 
year, it may be a proper subject of enquiry on the part of 
the City Council, whose duty it is to watch carefully the 
finances of the government, as well as to look closely after 
all the interests of the inhabitants, whether the instruction 
in our Public Schools is uniformly of that high and useful 
character of which we may well be proud, corresponding 
to the reasonable expectations of the public, and the liber- 
al appropriations of the government. 

Our citizens are entitled to the best possible instruction 
for their children ,• and if it should be made evident that 
the present system of education in our schools is too sim- 
ple and imperfect to meet the requirements of the age in 
which we live ; or is so overburdened with unnecessary 
studies, complicated rules, and doubtful theories, as to 
weaken the whole system, and disappoint the justifiable 
wishes and hopes of parents ; if any dangerous errors can 
be checked, or unnecessary expenses avoided ; if it is evi- 
dent that a single head, armed with executive power, ac- 
ting under the direction of the School Committee as a Su- 
perintendent, a plan which has worked well in other pla- 
ces, will prove advantageous here, it is undoubtedly the 
duty of the City Council to recommend such measures, and 
to take such action as the public good may require. 


Within a few years, some of our sister cities have es- 
tablished Free Public Libraries for the benefit of the whole 
population ; or, in other words, a small portion of the peo- 
ple's money in each of those cities has been expended by 
the chosen agents of the people, for an object calculated, 
emphatically and exclusively, for the comfort, advantage 
and elevation of the whole people. Following these noble 
examples, an effort was made during the past year to es- 


tablish a Free Public Library in this good City of Rox- 
bury, " whose privileges should be as free as air, as univer- 
sal as our population" — and thus add materially to the 
many noble institutions and advantages which our citizens 
now enjoy. The one hundred and sixty proprietors of the 
Roxbury Athenaeum, an institution comprising seven thou- 
sand valuable volumes, with a degree of disinterestedness 
and public spirit that is above all praise, agreed, one and 
all, to surrender their shares to the City without any re- 
muneration, and on such just and reasonable conditions as 
would have secured the permanent establishment of the in- 

The details of a plan were prepared by the Joint Com- 
mittee on Public Instruction, and laid before the City Gov- 
ernment, and which, if adopted, would have secured to the 
City for many years, at a comparatively small annual ex- 
pense, a fountain of intellectual riches, a well-spring of 
knowledge, from which all who were thirsty might have 
drank. The plan was not carried into effect. A regard 
to economy, at a time when our physical wants were nu- 
merous and pressing, caused the proposition to be rejected, 
and the golden opportunity to establish a Free Public Li- 
brary in the City of Roxbury, was lost. 

May we not hope that another attempt, on a dilferent 
plan, and under different auspices, will ere long be made to 
endow our city with the blessings of books — blessings 
which cannot be too highly prized ! May we not hope that 
some wealthy and noble-minded son or citizen of Roxbury, 
a friend to knowledge and a lover of mankind, will come 
forward, and by a liberal donation aid the city in the es- 
tablishment of an institution, which, under proper direction, 
must be productive of incalculable good ,* and thus entitle 
himself to the gratitude of the present and future genera- 
tions ! 

1858.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No 1. 11 


The Cemetery at Forest Hills is one of those Institu- 
tions to which it may be proper for me to allude on this 
occasion. It must be gratifying to every citizen of Rox- 
bury, to feel that under the guidance of an intelligent 
Board of Commissioners, every year adds to its attractions 
and value. Its location, and other natural advantages, as 
well as the judicious manner in which the grounds are laid 
out and embellished, make it a fit and beautiful resting- 
place for the dead. 

It is also gratifying to learn, that the income from the 
sale of lots continues on the increase, and gives promise 
that the whole debt, $36,000, for the purchase of the prop- 
erty, will be liquidated in a few years : it having been re- 
duced from $21,000 at the close of 1856, to $17,000 at the 
close of 1857. 

Many of the tombs in the old Burial Grounds in this 
City, continue to be held and used by the proprietors, as 
depositories for the dead. Slowly, one by one, they are 
abandoned, and their contents transferred to some rural 
lot in Forest Hills or Mount Auburn. And it is to be 
hoped and wished that the time will soon arrive, when all 
these unsightly receptacles of mortality will be abandoned, 
and their contents removed, that the grounds in which they 
are now placed may be rendered more pleasant and attrac- 
tive to the living. 

And surely the associations connected with a rural 
Cemetery like Forest Hills, with trees waving over the 
graves, flowers planted on the borders, birds singing in the 
branches, and people wandering through the pathways and 
enjoying the combined beauties of nature and art, are far 
more cheerful and holy than the associations called up by 
the dark and dreary, solitary tomb — such as may be seen 
in the burial places in the very heart of our City. 



Among the various expenses of a City like Roxbiny, the 
amount expended upon the repairs of Highways, and the 
widening and improvement of streets and sidewalks, forms 
no inconsiderable item. This is an expenditure which is 
asked for by every citizen, as conducing greatly to the 
comfort of the inhabitants; and while a liberal policy 
should be adopted, prudence and discrimination should 
characterize all operations connected with the highways. 
The calls from no part of the City should be neglected — 
and all improvements should be made with an eye to the 
future, as well as present accommodation of the people. 

The whole amount appropriated the past year for these 
objects was $16,000, and it was then believed that this 
amount might prove sufficient to defray all the ordinary 
expenses ; but some important items were not anticipated 
and included in the estimate ; among them the grading, re- 
pairing, and, in many places, widening the travelling por- 
tions of Centre, Lowell and Tremont streets, for the es- 
tablishment of the West Roxbury and Metropolitan Rail- 
road, extending from the boundary line at West Roxbury, 
to the Boston line. 

In consequence of these, and other unexpected demands 
for improvements and repairs, further large appropriations 
were necessary, making the whole amount thus far appro- 
priated, $24,000. 

There has been a large amount of edgestones set, side- 
walks constructed, and gutters paved in different parts of 
the city. The number of feet of edgestones laid is 13,- 
106 ; and gutters paved to correspond, in addition to the 
paving of that portion of Bartlett street now called Guild 
Row, and the square in front of the Post Office ; of cros- 
sings laid for the accommodation of foot passengers, there 
were 997 yards; and various culverts have been construct- 
ed and repaired, and bank walls built ; all of which were re- 
quired for the benefit of the public. 

1858.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 13 

As the setting of the edgestones is supposed to establish 
the grade of a street, in some cases it has been found ne- 
cessary to "fill in" to a very considerable extent, and thus 
raise the centre of the highway to correspond with the 
sidewalk. Expensive undertakings of this kind, even when 
they may not seem absolutely necessary, can hardly be 
avoided when applied for, inasmuch as it has been a rule, 
for some years, for the Surveyors of Highways to set the 
edgestones, whenever they should be furnished by the 
abutters, construct and gravel the sidewalks, and grade 
the streets to correspond. 

The " Order " making it thus obligatory on the part of 
the government to set curbstones at the City's expense, 
wherever and whenever requested, provided the stones are 
furnished, was adopted at a time when it was highly desir- 
able that our streets should be improved by the construc- 
tion of sidewalks. That Order has accomplished its ob- 
ject : and its repeal — a discretionary power being of course 
vested in the Surveyors of Highways — might save a very 
considerable expense to the City, 

The Horse Railroads passing through our principal streets 
are undoubtedly a great public convenience. But besides 
causing a great expense when first established, by the grad- 
ing and crowning of the streets through which the tracks 
are laid, it is found by experience, that by forcing the trav- 
el on each side the track, they cause a great and serious 
wear and tear of the highways, which thus require frequent 
and extensive repairs. It will doubtless be found expedi- 
ent, in accordance with true economy, to pave the travel- 
ling portions of those streets, if not immediately, as soon 
as it can be effected without draining too heavily on the 
City Treasury. 

During the past year a great amount of work has been 
done upon our highways ; and whatever has been underta- 
ken has been thoroughly done. And although repairs are 
even now required in some of our principal streets, and 


will demand the attention of the government, so soon as 
the season will permit, yet the streets and highways of 
Roxlmry will compare favorably with the streets and high- 
ways of any city or town in the vicinity. 

As our city becomes populous, and business increases, 
and the communication between Boston and the towns in 
Norfolk County becomes more frequent, the wear of our 
streets must also increase, and the necessary repairs of 
highways will continue to constitute a very large portion 
of the City expenses. 

It has been found expedient during the past year, to wi- 
den certain streets by taking land belonging to the abut- 
ters. These parcels of land being generally in thickly set- 
tled parts of the City, are justly regarded as valuable ; 
and such improvements, although desirable, and in some 
cases necessary, are effected at very considerable cost. A 
prospective line for the widening of Washington street, 
easterly of Williams street, and adjoining the Sumner es- 
tate, was established some years ago. The land, however, 
has not yet been taken for that purpose, but it cannot be 
doubted that whenever this improvement can be carried 
into effect, the result will be beneficial to the City. A pro- 
spective line for straightening the eastern side of Wash- 
ington street, between Sumner and Eustis streets, was also 
established some years ago, and improvements by wid- 
ening the street in conformity with that line have been 
made the past season. 

A prospective line has also been adopted for widening 
Tremont street, on the westerly side, which will make that 
important public avenue of an uniform width of eighty 
feet. Parcels of land have already been taken for that 
purpose. This alteration will be very expensive, and must 
be a work of years. 

During the year, that portion of Brush Hill Turnpike 
which is in Roxbury, has been thrown open as a public 
highway, by the County Commissioners, and its boundaries 

1858.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 15 

dcfiQcd. It has been fully repaired by the city. Whether 
it is expedient at the present time to widen the street ac- 
cording to the line given, is a question for your considera- 

The Commissioners have also thrown open the Bristol 
and Norfolk Turnpike, defined its boundaries, and imposed 
upon Roxbury the task of completing the highway, and giv- 
ing it a proper grade. This work has not been com- 
menced, but cannot be long delayed, as the street is in a 
wretched condition. Considerable time will probably 
elapse, and much money be expended, before it can be 
completed in conformity with the plan proposed. 

The extension of Shawmut Avenue in Boston across the 
marshes in Roxbury and through Williams and Winslow 
streets to its junction with the Turnpike, has also been 
laid out by the Commissioners, and a limited time has been 
appointed for the acceptance of this important work, which 
has been commenced and is in rapid progress. 

An important avenue has also been opened by direction 
of the County Commissioners between Roxbury and Brook- 
line, by widening a street lately known as Oak or^ Pilgrim 
street, in Oakland Place, to the extent of fifty feet, and 
building a substantial wooden bridge across Longwood 
Creek — formerly Muddy Brook — connecting with new and 
commodious highways in Brookline, leading in different di- 
rections. This bridge has been built by the Town of 
Brookline and the City of Roxbury, and the avenue, which 
has been called Longwood Avenue, is now open for public 
travel. This avenue can be continued easterly in a direct 
line, across the lands of Eben. Francis and others, and 
through Ward- street to Parker street, thence to Tremont 
street. And it is highly probable that within a few years, 
the public good will require the extension of this highway. 

Measures have also been taken for the immediate 
extension of Water street from Williams street to 
Washington street, an improvement which has for year« 


been loudly called for, and Tvliich will undoubtedly be a 
vast benefit to Roxbury, opening an important aveuue be- 
tween two populous sections of the City. Applications 
have been made for the extension of other streets in differ- 
ent parts of the City, some of which, involving a consider- 
able expense, will in all likelihood command the attention 
of the City Council. 


There is one other subject, involving a serious expense, 
which is vitally important to the inhabitants of Roxbury. 
Indeed, it rises up from the very ground, and forces itself 
upon the notice of the public. I mean the subject of sew- 
erage. The time has arrived when some efficient and prop- 
erly digested plan should be, at least, devised, if not car- 
ried into immediate operation, for furnishing proper under- 
ground drainage for all the populous portions of our City. 

The subject has already attracted the attention of the 
government : and a regard to health, as well as comfort, 
requires some decided action. Otherwise our soil will be 
impregnated with impurities : and our wells, which now 
furnish abundance of fresh water of excellent quality, will 
become poisoned and unfit for use. Our City is so situa- 
ted, that there appears to be no physical obstacle in the 
way of a thorough and complete system of Sewerage. The 
expense will undoubtedly be large, but a considerable por- 
tion of this expense should be borne by the owners of 
those estates which are directly benefitted. If any addi- 
tional legislation is necessary for carrying such a project 
into effect, the proper steps should be taken at once for 
securing such legislation. 


During the past year the City has been engaged in sev- 
eral lawsuits, generally as defendants, and the results have 
been to a very considerable extent satisfactory, and show 

1858.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 17 

that "while the government has been unwilling to submit to 
unjust or exorbitant demands from any quarter, it feels 
under obligations to recognize the reasonable or just 
claims of every citizen. Several cases that have been 
pending for years, have been dismissed from our Courts, 
and others, among which we may perhaps include the in- 
dictment found at the instance of the City against the 
Chemical Company as a nuisance, are in the most favora- 
ble positions for trial. For this we are greatly indebted 
to the labors and counsels of the City Solicitor, to whom 
also the City authorities, during the two last years, are un- 
der great obligations for opinions and advice on various 
subjects, intimately connected with the public interest. 

The cases most important to the interests of Roxbury, 
which have engaged the attention of our legal tribunals dur- 
ing the year, are actions brought by the State of Massachu- 
setts and the Boston Water Power Company, to dispossess 
Roxbury of her claim to seventy-two acres of land in the 
Back Bay. The value of the property thus disputed, ow- 
ing to its local advantages, is considerable, amounting, at a 
very low valuation, to some hundreds of thousands of dol- 
lars; and it was deemed advisable by the City Govern- 
ment to spare no labor or expense in resisting claims to 
territory, which beyond a reasonable doubt belonged to 
Roxbury, and the fee of which had been in Roxbury, or in 
individuals, for more than two hundred and twenty years ; 
even though the attempt to wrest it from its lawful pos- 
sessor should be made by a wealthy Corporation, and the 
Commonwealth itself, armed with majesty and power. The 
case, in which the State was a party, was by order of the 
Court, submitted to a referee. The Hon. Marcus Morton 
was selected as that referee, who, after a very full and 
protracted hearing, decided the question in favor of Rox- 
bury. Certain questions, however, remain to be decided 
by the Supreme Court — and there is reason to expect that 


a final decision in this case, so important to the interests 
of this City, will be made in the course of a few months. 


The subject of the Annexation of Rosbury to Boston, 
which has heretofore been agitated in this community, has 
again been brought to the attention of the inhabitants. In 
compliance with a petition from a large body of our citi- 
zens, the question on the bare subject of annexation was 
submitted to the voters at the late municipal election. 

This subject of Annexation is one touching the dearest 
interests of the people, and one on which the people are 
expected to act ; and the government are bound to carry 
out the wishes of the people, upon any subject of impor- 
tance to the community, whenever those wishes are clear- 
ly and decidedly indicated. 

On this occasion the whole number of votes for munici- 
pal officers was 2096. On the question of annexation, on- 
ly 1570 were given, viz : — 808 yeas, and 762 nays, showing 
a majority of 46 only in favor of the project. The com- 
paratively small number of votes given on this question, 
shows that it is regarded with indifference by a considera- 
ble portion of the inhabitants, or that many have not suffi- 
ciently examined the subject, to form an intelligent opin- 
ion : and the small affirmative majority of those who voted 
on the question, can hardly be supposed to warrant any 
further immediate action on the part of the City authori- 


Certain proceedings in Ward Three, in connection with our 
late Municipal election, have excited the public attention, 
and were brought to the notice of the Board of Aldermen. 
But, on investigation, it was found, that admitting irregular- 
ities had occurred at the election, and the legal forms and 
requisitions had not been complied with on the part of the 

1858.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 19 

Ward Officers, that Board has no power to declare the 
election void, and order another. 

By the City Charter, the Board of Aldermen, and the 
Common Council, are respectively made judges of the elec- 
tion of members of their own bodies, and when a vacancy 
is declared in either branch, it is the duty of the Board of 
Aldermen to order a new election. But this mode of cor- 
recting a mistake does not apply to the members of the 
School Committee or the Overseers of the Poor; and by 
the negligence, incapacity or fraud of officers presiding at 
elections, the will of the people, which is the foundation of 
a republican government, may be defeated. A slight 
amendment to the City Charter would provide a remedy 
for such evils, which can hardly occur provided the duties 
of those who regulate the doings of the ballot box are 
duly and faithfully performed. These duties are of the 
most important character. Those who undertake them, 
accept a solemn trust, the neglect or abuse of which may 
involve consequences of the most serious description. 


It will be seen, by statements that I have made in other 
portions of this address, that the annual expenses of the 
City Government have been large during the present fin- 
nancial year. Unexpected circumstances have increased 
the expenses beyond the amount anticipated at the begin- 
ning of that period, and the City debt, which it was hoped 
would be diminished, has been slightly increased. 

It is true that the public improvements, and increase of 
comfort to our citizens, consequent on this increased ex- 
penditure of the public funds, will increase in a correspond- 
ing ratio the value of property; and may and probably 
will prove of great permanent advantage to the City ; but 
the wisdom of a policy may well be doubted, which estab- 
lishes improvements, the expenses of which must be met 


bj increasing a public debt already large, or by imposing 
an onerous tax upon the people. 

On the 1st of January, 1857, the City debt amounted to 
$241,865 : on the first of January, 1858, it was $242,340, be- 
ing an increase of $475, while our available resources, ex- 
clusive of the property known as the Back Bay Lands, the 
Alms House property, the City Hall, School Houses, <fec., 
and consisting principally of land, and notes secured by 
mortgages, may be estimated at about $80,000. 

Besides the unlooked for increased expenditures during 
the present year for widening streets, repairing highways, 
schools and school-houses, police, pauperism, fire depart- 
ment, lighting the streets, &c., there have been appro- 
priated for the construction of Shawmut Avenue, the sum 
of three thousand dollars : for defending the suit in relation 
to the Back Bay Lands, about $3000, and three thousand 
dollars for the construction of this City's portion of the 
bridge over Longwood Creek, and completing Longwood 
Avenue. The State tax has also been increased from $13,- 
224 in 1856, to $19,836 in 1857— an increase of $6,612. 
The County tax also adds $15,377 to our annual expenses, 
and with the State tax making an aggregate of $35,213. 

The large expenditures during the past year in every 
department of government, taken in connection with the 
present condition of our finances, should admonish us in 
tones to make a deep and constant impression on every 
mind, of the importance of prudence and rigid economy 
during the present year in the management of the public 

"We every day see illustrations of the fact that but little 
talent or financial skill is needed for devising and execu- 
ting expensive schemes for the public good. But the his- 
tory of states, as well as cities and towns, teach that no 
small degree of ingenuity and firmness is required on the 
part of a government to confine the expenses within just 
and reasonable limits, by resisting pressing applications 

1858.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 21 

for comforts and conveniences, "vvhicli, although desirable, 
are not necessary. 

There can be no question that many valuable improve- 
ments may be suggested with regard to our streets and 
highways, which would add greatly now and hereafter to 
the accommodation of the public. Great avenues might 
be laid out and opened : public squares established, noble 
parks planted: fountains introduced: statues erected to 
the memory of eminent men : a cordon of police officers 
posted in every street, and a gas lamp placed in front of 
every dwelling. But these things are not necessary. And 
although posterity might admire the noble and self-sacri- 
ficing spirit which dictated such a course of proceeding, 
yet we should bear in mind that our City is largely in 
debt: and that these improvements must increase that 
debt, or be paid for from the pockets of people now living. 
Let these luxuries of civilization be introduced only as they 
may be warranted by the state of the treasury, recollecting 
that perfection should not be looked for at once — " Rome 
was not built in a day." Besides, something should re- 
main to be accomplished by those who come after us. 


And now. Gentlemen, having given you an exposition of 
the condition of the affairs of the City, allow me to say 
that unless some unlooked for event should take place, 
which will shake to its foundation the business community, 
and revolutionize society, our good City must continue to 
go on and prosper. We now enjoy many positive bles- 
sings. Our population is rapidly increasing: dwelling 
houses and manufacturing sites are in demand : the Metro- 
politan Railroad, as a desirable mode of communication 
with Boston, is found to equal, at least, the expectations of 
the community : and all the advantages of a large and well 
regulated City, with schools, academies, churches, subscrip- 
tion libraries, social institutions, a vigilant police, gas lights, 

22 MAYOR'S ADDRESS. [Jan., 1858. 

and soft water, together with the pure air and quiet of a 
country town — and all within two miles of the very heart 
of the Metropolis — offer solid advantages which I scruple 
not to say are found in no other place in the Common- 

Gentlemen, we have recently passed through an exciting 
election for municipal ofl&cers. Party spirit has been rife : 
and a more acrimonious feeling, approaching to personal 
animosity, has been roused than has ever before been wit- 
nessed at our municipal elections. You, gentlemen, repre- 
sent the different political parties now existing in the Com- 
monwealth j but it is earnestly to be hoped that party spir- 
it will not enter these halls ; that harmony of action will 
characterize all our proceedings ; that every member of 
the City Government will forget he is a member of a par- 
ty; and remember only that he is a citizen of Roxbury, 
sent here by the people, to look after the interests of the 

And, Gentlemen, standing here in this honorable posi- 
tion, to which I have been elected by my fellow citizens : 
on the broad platform on which I have always stood — un- 
trammelled and independent — pledged only to devote my 
time and the humble talents I possess, to the promotion of 
the interests of the City, irrespective of party feeling, sec- 
tional or sectarian prejudices : I look to you all — and I 
feel that I shall not look in vain — for judicious counsels and 
zealous assistance in the performance of my official duties. 

And, while we thus act together, prompted by 
the noble wish to fulfil faithfully and conscientiously the 
important trust confided to us by our fellow citizens, let us 
never for a moment forget that the blessings of an Al- 
mighty Power will rest upon actions which are founded in 
wisdom and virtue.