Monday, February 21, 2005

The Long Election

Care for a quirky tale of politics, dear readers?

February 1845 found Boston still lacking a mayor; the city had, by then, witnessed seven "failed" elections, each yielding no clear winner. When the old mayor, Martin Brimmer, stepped down from office on January 6, the Board of Aldermen and the Common Council found themselves obliged to govern in his place, which they did until February 21 when an eighth special election resulted, finally, in a victorous candidate. This candidate was Thomas Davis.

Davis was a member of the "Native American Party," which unsurprisingly had nothing to do with the Amerindians and was itself a precursor to the "Know-Nothings." His margin of victory had been slim, amounting to some 1,500 votes, but this was deemed sufficient given the circumstances, and Davis was inaugurated on February 27.

Yet Davis fell gravely ill just seven months later, and was forced to resign his position on October 6. His death came on November 22, which gave cause for another election — the ninth in less than a year. This one was held on December 8, and it brought victory to one Josiah Quincy, Jr, a Whig and the son of that other, more famous Quincy (no, not that one; the other one). His term in office was fairly uneventful, marked primarily by his efforts to bring clean reservoir water to Boston, but hey, at least he saw it out.

1 Comments:

Blogger Robert Winters said...

I would like to briefly comment on your statement regarding Josiah Quincy Jr.'s term as Mayor of Boston beginning in 1845: "His term in office was fairly uneventful, marked primarily by his efforts to bring clean reservoir water to Boston, but hey, at least he saw it out."

The accomplishment of the construction of the Cochituate Aqueduct (1848) should not be understated. This was a remarkable event in the City of Boston. The availability of a plentiful, clean water supply was pivotal step that allowed for the growth of the city that followed. It was also a great leap forward for fire protection.

Images of the Cochituate Aqueduct

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