Mayor Samuel Atkins Eliot 
Served 1837-1839

"Born in Boston, March 5, 1798; died January 29, 1862; served as Mayor during 1837-1839.

He was a Boston merchant of high character and ability. During his administration Boston was again visited by a period of depression which made retrenchment necessary for the first two years.

He did, however, succeed in putting through some important administrative measures. One was the re-organization of the Fire Department, whose lack of discipline and efficiency had been remarked upon in earlier years. During the Broad Street Riot in 1837 the improvements brought about by Mayor Eliot came strongly to the fore. Until this time the firemen had received no compensation for their services beyond a slight amount for refreshments. Mayor Eliot saw clearly that to offer extra compensation would probably induce the firemen to place themselves under proper discipline, and that such compensation should not be regarded as a wage in the ordinary sense. An ordinance reorganizing the department and fixing the compensation was passed and went into operation in the fall of 1837.

Mayor Eliot did not succeed, however, in his plans for reorganizing the Police Department; nor did several provisions submitted on his initiative to the voters at a special election for an amendment of the city charter win the day.

Mayor Eliot, in his last inaugural address, recommended the erection of a new city hall and county jail, but without achieving results. A building, however, was begun for the offices of Registry and Probate, and much money spent in widening and extending streets. The tax rate in 1839 had to be raised on account of the great expenditures and the increase in debt."


Samuel Atkins Eliot, Boston Mayor 1837-1839
Samuel Atkins Eliot


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