Mayor Henry Lillie Pierce
First Administration, 1873
"Born in Stoughton, Massachusetts, August 23, 1825; died December 17, 1896; served as Mayor during 1873 for ten months. His second administration was in 1878.
Mayor Pierce had run on a non-partisan platform although nominated by the Republicans. He served only ten months, resigning his office to become a member of Congress; but they were months of anxiety and great financial burdens.
The Great Fire made it necessary to straighten and widen the streets in the burned area, which entailed an enormous cost. One of his first acts was to seek the reorganization of the Fire Department. An ordinance enabled the City Council to place the department under a paid commission, and authority was given the Mayor to appoint three fire commissioners, to hold office for three years. The new organization proved effective as was soon made evident by a reduction in the rates of insurance.
Mayor Pierce's recommendation that the city charter be amended met with some opposition, but he was finally authorized to appoint a commission to consider the subject. A draft of a new charter was submitted, but failed to receive the approval of the City Council. Under Mayor Pierce, Charlestown, West Roxbury and Brighton were annexed to Boston by vote, the union taking effect in January, 1874. Charlestown at this time had about 30,000 inhabitants, Brighton, 5,000, and West Roxbury, 9,000.
The City Council had recommended that the reading room in the Public Library should be kept open at certain hours on Sundays. In 1865 and 1872, orders of the same kind had been vetoed by the mayors because they regarded them as a violation of the statute regarding the observance of Sunday, and because they did not believe it would serve general public policy. Mayor Pierce, however, supported the order, which was carried into effect, thus shattering another ancient tradition.
The expenditures during his mayoralty term had increased greatly on account of street improvements that could no longer be postponed, and which amounted to more than $18,000,000. There was also an advance in the debt, due in part to the annexations mentioned above."