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City Document. — iVb. 1.
HON. WILLIAM GASTON, MAYOR,
CITY COUNCIL OP'ROXBURT,
DELIVERED TO THE
TWO BRANCHES IN CONVENTION,
JANUARY 6, 1862.
FEINTED BY ORDER OF THE CITY COUNCIL.
R X B 'U R Y :
L. B. & 0. E. WESTON, PRINTERS, GUILD ROW.
^ Us I,
Citg of '%u\ui.
In Boakd of Aldermen, January 6, 1862.
Ordeked, 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 Clerk.
In Common Council, January 6, 1862.
JOSHUA SEAVER, Clerh.
Gentlemen op the City Council:
The year whicli is before us must be productive of
events of great national moment, the consequences of
whicli must visit us all. What these events are to be, no
human sagacity can foretell.
We have been aroused from the deep and tranquil
slumbers of peace, to the roar and tumult of arms. We
are in the midst of a struggle involving national life, and
also involving the hopes and destinies of more than thirty
millions of people. On the issue of this struggle depend
the highest temporal interests of us all. Beyond a con-
fiding faith in the ultimate success of our cause, we have
nothing to guide us but uncertain speculations. A week,
a day, an hour of the future, is impenetrable to our vision.
Here human wisdom finds itself utterly at fault. Here no
ray of light shines upon the darkness of human compre-
hension. It is, therefore, eminently proper for us as a
Christian people, who have so long enjoyed the richest
benefactions of God, bowing now submissively to His will,
to invoke His blessing upon our efforts to sustain a Gov-
ernment, upon the continuance of which our temporal
hopes so largely depend.
The duties of every citizen are now an hundred-fold
greater than in times of peace. Patriotism can now find
4 CITY DOCUMENT.-^ No. 1.
no excuse in lethargy or in inaction. A man, to be worth
anything, must be awake, decided and energetic.
Hg who slumbers had better be dead. He who doubts
had better be a traitor ; for open treason is better than
dead patriotism. The courage which rises with every
obstacle, is the courage which prevails. There may be
days of darkness before us, but beyond those days of dark-
ness must be days of light — and seeing glimpses of the
light which is beyond the clouds, let us labor, hope, and
Gentlemen, — You have succeeded to more than ordi-
nary municipal duties. As the obligations of the citizens
have increased by the imminence of the dangers, which
surround their country, so have your obligations as repre-
sentatives of citizens increased for the same reason; and
I have no doubt that you approach these high duties,
with an entire appreciation of their extent and importance,
and with no disposition to avoid them.
For several years preceding the last year, large expendi-
tures had been made, and as a necessary consequence, the
city debt had been largely increased. This consideration,
pressed upon the attention of the last City Government
the necessity of great retrenchment in our expenses, and
they therefore entered upon their labors, with this idea prom-
inently before them, and with the determined purpose to
infuse the spirit of economy into the administration of our
municipal afiairs ; but the great national events^ to which
I have already alluded, interfered with the full accomplish-
ment of their purpose. In the presence of these events,
all ideas of economy faded into comparative insignificance.
An endangered Capital was to be protected, at any and
all cost or sacrifice. An army was to be provided for,
and supported in the field — the families which the soldiers
had left behind them, were to be guarded against suffering
and distress — and the means to accomplish these results
MAYOR'S ADDRESS. 5
were to be furnished. The urgencies of the occasion
swept away, for the time, the strict technicalities of the
law, and the doors of the treasury, by common consent,
were opened for these purposes.
The Capital was saved — immediate danger ceased to
exist; but soon after, the rebellion began to assume its
gigantic proportions, and to force upon the City Govern-
ment the conviction that its suppression must be the work
of time, and that the city must make provisions for military
matters of a permanent character, and that even here pru-
dence and economy must not be disregarded.
The spirit of patriotism, as well as our immediate duty
to the city, calls upon us to guard with care against any
tendency to profuseness or extravagance. It is by a pru-
dent husbandry of our means, that we shall gather strength
for the conflict which is before us, and it is therefore emi-
nently a time when all unnecessary expenditures are to be
avoided. Permit me, therefore, at the outset, to suggest
strict economy as a leading feature of the administration
of the present year.
A part of our citizens have left us to enter upon the
service of the country in the camp, and upon the field.
Those of us who remain at home have duties which, if not as
arduous or as perilous, are of scarcely less importance.
An army abroad must be sustained and provided for by
those who stay at home. From the ordinary pursuits of
peace, must flow the means with which to prosecute a war.
No citizen has a right, in times like these, to dissipate in
needless expenses the wealth which his country needs.
These considerations call upon us especially as represen-
tatives of the people, to guard, protect, and preserve the
public resources with vigilance and care.
Permit me to call your attention to a few suggestions
upon matters of local interest. The time and occasion
will allow no labored discussion of these subjects.
6 CITY DOCUMENT. — No. 1.
The report of the School Committee of the last year
has recently been distributed among the citizens. To that
report, rather than to any information which it is in my power
to give, you will look for the purpose of ascertaining the
condition of the Schools of the City. I am happy to be-
lieve that these schools are all in the most flourishing con-
No school-houses have been erected during the past
year. The unfortunate location of the Primary School-
house, in the rear of the engine-house on Centre Street,
and the dilapidated condition of the building, induced the
Committee on Public Instruction, at the suggestion of
the School Committee, to recommend to the City Council
the erection of a new building, on some desirable site,
in the vicinity of the old building. The Committee on
Public Instruction also recommended, at the same sugges-
tion, the erection of an addition to the school-house on
Smith Street; but the City Council feeling that, during the
existing troubles, no expense should be incurred, except
those which the urgent necessities of the schools demanded,
did not adopt either of the orders recommended by the
The same reasons now exist for deferring, still further,
the erection of these structures, unless the demand for
school accommodations is greater than it was last year.
Upon this subject you will' doubtless receive suggestions
from the School Committee.
The expenditures on Streets for several years have been
very large, and should now be materially reduced. I know
of no urgent demand for new streets, or for widening old
ones. The existing streets must be kept in good repair ;
beyond this no expense of any magnitude should be in-
MAYOR'S ADDRESS. 1
During the past year, I believe but one piece of land
was purchased for the purpose of widening streets;
although the last Government was called upon to pay very
large sums, for land taken and purchased in former years
for this purpose, and for the damages incident to such
The continuance of the policy of former years, in this
matter, will overwhelm the City in debt, and an immediate
and decided check to such expenses is imperiously demand-
ed by the condition of our finances.
The City Government of last year, when entering upon
their duties, found the City under a contract to build a
street, to be called " Bainbridge Street," extended from
Walnut Street to Dale Street, and bounding on the new
Public Square, in that vicinity. And they also found the
city under a contract to build a street around a portion of
Madison Square. These contracts have been executed by
the City, at an expense (as I believe) of about $12,000.
They also found the City under a contract to fill up Madi-
son Square, to a point eighteen feet above mean low water
mark. The City are now engaged in performing their part
of this contract. How much its entire execution will cost
the City, it is now impossible to tell. Beyond what may
be required to complete this contract, I recommend that
nothing whatever be expended on the Public Squares, ex-
cept what may be required for preserving them in their
FIRE AND POLICE DEPARTMENTS.
The Eire Department and the Police Department have
each discharged their duties with entire success during the
past year. They are both now in a state of entire efficien-
cy, and our duties in respect to them, will consist chiefly in
8 CITY DOCUMENT. — No. 1.
preserving tliem, during the coming year, in the same effec-
tive condition in which they now are.
The Alms-House Establishment is under humane, and as
I believe, in all respects, judicious management. The
Overseers of the Poor have the more immediate, and direct
care of this establishment, and have, of late, so conducted
it, that it has required but very little attention on the part
of the City Council.
The Cemetery at Forest Hills is increasing in dimen-
sions and in beauty. The Commissioners, under whose
wise management it has become so large and so beautiful,
will doubtless make a report, which yill give you full infor-
mation in regard to its condition.
The last Government assumed, early and faithfully, their
share of the burden of supporting and sustaining the war ;
and every citizen has reason to be proud of the prompti-
tude and liberality which the City has manifested in this
Soon after the commencement of the war, the City
Council appropriated the sum of $20,000 for military pur-
poses. This appropriation, if not legal at the time, has
since, to a certain extent at least, been legalized by the
Legislature of the Commonwealth, at a special session,
called together for the purpose of enacting laws to meet
the existing emergencies. At that session, a law was en-
acted giving authority to cities and towns to raise money
by taxation, for the support of the families of volunteers.
I need not say to you, that we can find no justification or
excuse in exceeding the authority given to us by the pro-
visions of this statute.
MAYOR'S ADDRESS. 9
The early expenditures of the City were upon three
companies, which have left us for active service. I am
happy to say that the character of all these companies is
such, as to reflect honor upon the City.
Later in the year, another company, of high character,
left Roxbury, to enter upon active duty.
There has been paid for the support of families of vol-
unteers a sum a little exceeding $15,000. A portion of
this sum, viz., about $10,000, the City expects to receive
from the Commonwealth.
The City has expended for military purposes a further
sum of about $9000. A portion of this last named sum,
the City hopes to receive back again from the Common-
wealth, and will petition to the Legislature of the State
The duties of the Military Committee of last year were
arduous. This should be a standing committee, as its du-
ties are of a permanent character.
During the past year two sewers have been constructed
— one in Eustis Street, and one in Dudley Street. The
Eustis Street Sewer cost $4268.50, seventy-five per cent,
of which, amounting to $3201.38, has been assessed upon
the abutters. The Dudley Street Sewer cost $12,589.85,
fifty per cent, of which, amounting to $6294.93, has been
assessed upon the abutters. The whole amount of expen-
ditures on sewers, during the past year, was $16,858.35,
of which the sum of $9496.31 has been assessed upon the
The necessity for sewerage is so great, that even the ex-
isting troubles furnish no excuse for discontinuing the
On the 1st day of February, 1861, the City Debt was
$613,490. In my last annual address to the City Council,
I stated that to this sum there would undoubtedly be ad-
10 CITY DOCUMENT. — No. 1.
ditions, on account of debts, then already contracted, for
the payment of which money must be borrowed. These
additions have largely exceeded my anticipations. The
Government of last year found a large number of outstand-
ing claims against the City, which they have been called*
upon to pay. They found enterprises commenced, which,
as they had been started, must be completed. They found
the City under very large obligations, growing out of con-
tracts to which I have before alluded. These contracts
were not to be repudiated. All these matters rendered a
large increase of the City Debt absolutely necessary.
The last City Government entered upon their duties,
with a determination to do nothing themselves, which
should tend to enlarge the debt, and, had peace continued,
I have no doubt that they would have firmly adhered to
In consequence of the breaking out of the war, extraor-
dinary expenditures were urgently dem.anded by all of the
citizens. The money had to be borrowed. The ordinary
operations of business were for a time suspended, and a
large number of people were out of employment and in
distress. Sewers were needed ; and it was deemed both
prudent and humane to proceed at once and construct
them. All classes of the people seemed to demand it.
For this, also, money had to be borrowed.
The City will receive from the Commonwealth, a very
considerable portion of these expenditures for military
A large amount of the money expended upon sewers,
has, as I have already stated, been assessed upon the
abutters. And the Government, at the conclusion of its
labors, felt that the amount of permanent increase of the
City Debt, caused by their action, was small, especially
when the remarkable events of the year were taken into
The City Treasurer informs me that the City Debt is
MAYOR'S ADDRESS. 11
now $691,965, and that it will be considerably increased
before the 1st of February nest. This debt is too large,
and we should endeavor to reduce it.
EMPLOYMENT OP THE POOR.
It is undoubtedly the dictate of common humanity, that
all the work which the City Government, in the reasonable
and proper exercise of its duties, needs to have performed,
should be so given and distributed as to furnish relief to
those who are immediately and directly dependent on
their labor for their support. But great care should be
taken, that this relief does not become the main object,
rather than the incident of oar City Expenditures. If it
becomes understood, that labor is furnished simply and
only for the relief it will give, large numbers from the
populous cities and towns in the vicinity, will be attracted
hither, and thus exclude our own poor, to some extent,
from the benefits which they would otherwise receive.
Such an unwise policy, as that to which I have adverted,
will be found to be very burdensome to the City, and will
become the prolific source of a multitude of evils.
During the Summer, great apprehensions were felt that
the present Winter would be one of great suffering and
distress, to a very large portion of our population. I am
very happy to be enabled to say, that no such unusual suf-
fering or distress has reached us, and that the present
Winter is even more favorable than usual in this regard.
Gentlemen, — We enter upon this year's service, not
owing allegiance to any party, or to any sect. We are
here free, untrammelled men, with no excuse for not dis-
playing true manhood. Let us then meet the duties before
us, with no fear, except the fear of doing wrong, and we
shall thus, at the conclusion of our labors, be able to sur-
render back our trusts, with the consciousness that we
have been faithful servants.