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Kfiity Document^ — No. 1.
HON. JOHN S. SLEEPER, MAYOR,
CITY COUNCIL OE^OXBURYJ ^
DELIVERED EEFOKE THE
TWO BRANCHES IN CONVENTION,
JANUARY 4, 1858.
PRINTED BY ORDER OF THE CITY COUNCIL,
L. B. & O. E. WESTON, PRINTERS/GUILD ROW.
^44 ^^ f
CITY OF ROXBURY.
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.
TEANKLIN WILLIAMS, Cleric.
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
4 MAYOR'S ADDRESS. . Jan.
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 POOR AND ALMSHOUSE.
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
6 MAYOR'S ADDRESS. [Jan.
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
THE EIRE DEPARTMENT.
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
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
8 MAYOR'S ADDRESS. [Jan.
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
THE COMMON SCHOOLS.
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
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.
A FREE PUBLIC LIBRARY.
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-
10 MAYOR'S ADDRESS. [Jan.
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-
1858.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No 1. 11
FOREST HILLS CEMETERY.
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.
12 MAYOR'S ADDRESS. [Jan.
IMPROVEMENTS OF HIGHWAYS.
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-
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
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
14 MAYOR'S ADDRESS. [Jan.
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«
16 MAYOR'S ADDRESS. [Jan.
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.
LAWSUITS AND THE BACK BAY LANDS.
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
18 MAYOR'S ADDRESS. [Jan.
a final decision in this case, so important to the interests
of this City, will be made in the course of a few months.
ANNEXATION TO BOSTON.
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-
THE ELECTION IN WAED THREE.
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.
THE PUBLIC EXPENSES.
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
20 MAYOR'S ADDEESS. [Jan.
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.