Mayor John Charles Haines Inaugural Address, 1859

John Charles Haines Biography

Inauguration date: March 16, 1859

This speech is recorded as it first appeared in print. Archaic spelling and misspellings in the original document have not been corrected.

Gentlemen of the Common Council:

Another year has elapsed since it became my duty to address to you the customary inaugural of the Chief Magistrate of our City. Before proceeding to enter upon the topics to which I desire to call your attention, it seems fitting that we should offer up the tribute of our thanks to the All-Wise Ruler of the Universe for his mercies to us during the past twelve months, the chiefest among which are the remarkably good health which has prevailed in our city, and the fact that, in a time of severe monetary pressure, the poorer classes—those dependent altogether upon daily labor for their support—have experienced much less suffering and destitution than during former seasons. There have been, it is true, drawbacks to our prosperity, among which are short crops in this and neighboring States, and those financial difficulties common to the whole country, if not to the civilized world. Yet these may also be, and no doubt are, designed for our ultimate benefit. A continued prosperous condition of affairs, in the end, would prove as terribly disastrous as the contrary: while an occasional check to the upward movement of trade and commerce, no doubt acts as a wholesome restraint upon speculation, and a regulator to the great industrial and commercial interests of the country. These monetary difficulties are a valuable lesson to us, also. They admonish us to retrenchment and economy in our municipal affairs, and warn us, however prosperous we may be financially, however great our ability to assume obligations at any one period, a day of reckoning is sure to come, for which we must be prepared or suffer the consequences of our folly.

I cannot also let the present occasion pass without thanking my fellow citizens for the flattering manner in which they have expressed their confidence in me and in my ability to serve them faithfully by a re-nomination and re-election to the place I now hold, accomplished, as they were, in the face of strong opposition, and which opposition was only overcome by the ardor and determination of the masses of the Republican party. Such being the circumstances accompanying my re-nomination and re-election, I feel doubly grateful to my fellow citizens, and trust that, with God helping, I shall be found worthy of the trust and confidence reposed in me.

The aspect and condition of our national affairs also call for at least a passing notice. I regret to be compelled to say that they are anything but flattering to our pride as a nation. Bribery and corruption of the worst descriptions appear to have taken deep root in the Federal Capital; while the entire energies of the general Government, its purse, its sword, and even its tribunals of justice, seem to be devoted to one sole object, and that, the spread of human slavery. Every aspirant for office is tried according to his faith upon this question, and reward or punishment meted out accordingly. Is it to be wondered at then, that in reference to our national affairs, the country teems with accounts of frauds, embezzlements of the public moneys, squanderings of the revenue and other crimes and misdemeanors? With the existence of such a condition of our federal relations but few measures for the common good can be accomplished; while those of an individual and special character, or for the benefit of particular sections have precedence. Thus the Homestead Bill, almost the only one before Congress for the benefit of the masses of the people, designed to rescue the remaining portion of our public domain from the hands of speculators, and set it apart wholly for the benefit of the people, has been defeated by pro slavery sectionalism. In my former address to you, I called attention to the beneficence of this great measure, especially in its effects upon the poor in our large cities, and I need not now enlarge upon it. A pro-slavery sectional vote also came very near depriving the masses of that great boon of modern legislation—cheap postage. I regret to say, I see no prospect of an end to these assaults upon the rights, liberties ad interests of the masses, as long as our Federal Government is under the control of a party which legislates wholly for the benefit of a class, and is deadly hostile to any measure having for its end and aim the good of the people generally, and the conservation and elevation of the free labor of the country.

As regards our State, under the former rule of the same party that controls our National affairs, I regret to say that we also witnessed a condition of things anything but pleasing or satisfactory to those who take an interest in the welfare and prosperity of Illinois. Frauds, to the amount of hundreds of thousands of dollars have been discovered in our finances; a most disgraceful scheme of legislation, as respects the State apportionment, was only prevented from becoming a law by the interposition of the executive veto; and an act in the form of an exceedingly obnoxious series of amendments to our City Charter was only defeated in our Legislature by the most strenuous exertions and determined attitude of the Republican members. Contrasting the present with the past State Government, however, I am happy to state that a marked improvement exists, and the people have no cause to regret the advent of the Republican State officers to power.

All these things should serve as a warning to us, as well as regulate our future political course. They admonish us that we ought always to act with an eye singly to the good of the whole people; that we should set our faces against all misappropriation of the people’s money; promptly punish all frauds upon the Treasury; frown down all legislation which is not for the interest of the whole people; and invoke each other’s counsel and assistance in all measures tending to the reform of abuses and the retrenchment of the expenses of the Municipal Government.

With the expression of these general views, gentlemen, I come to the consideration of topics in which we are more intimately interested:


On entering upon the duties of my office, at the commencement of the past year, I was informed by my predecessor that there were no outstanding debts or contracts on the part of the city. In accordance with this supposed condition of the finances, I recommended a greatly reduced scale of taxation, understanding, as I then stated, that all that would be required for the, then, coming year would be a tax sufficient to meet the expenses of that year. But the result turned our otherwise; assets did not prove available, as expected; claims appeared for which no provision had been made; a contract had been entered into with the country involving the expenditure of nearly $60,000, which at the time (in 1857) contemplated the issuing of ten per cent. permanent bonds, but it being the declared policy of the Administration of 1858 to issue no such bonds, money was paid instead. Consequently there were $181,905 63-100 of liabilities thrown over upon mine which had been incurred by previous administrations. This debt, if liquidated, would require a tax of a fraction over five mills upon the valuation of the real and personal property in the city. Of this amount, thus thrown over by preceding administrations $67,746 89-100 was the debt of 1856, the balance being of the debt of 1857. This debt should be provided for in such manner as the Council shall deem most expedient for the interest of the city; and, in my opinion, such action should be taken upon the subject as will entirely obviate the necessity of the city carrying a large floating debt at a heavy outlay for interest. Should it be deemed necessary to liquidate the whole amount of floating debt by taxation, the rate to be fixed for the coming year must, of course, be much higher than that of last, and might be thought onerous to all having large amounts of taxes to pay. If it should be deemed expedient to fund one hundred thousand dollars of this debt, I do not even then see how, with the utmost economy in the expenditures of the government, reduction of salaries, of the police force, &c., the rate of taxation can be reduced, supposing it is proposed to liquidate the whole amount of our floating debt, a consummation to be desired by every well-wisher of our city.

During the present year the Sewerage Commissioners will also require the sum of, at least, $50,00, to be raised to pay the interest upon the bonds already issued by them, including the sinking fund provided for by law, for their ultimate liquidation. This will amount to about one and a-half mills to the dollar of taxable property in the city, and must enter into the estimates of the Comptroller for the coming year.

The Republican Convention which nominated me to office, and whose action was responded to by the people, passed, among others, the following resolution:

“Resolved, That the persons this day nominated, and the Republican Aldermen placed in nomination, are under an implied pledge to retrench in the expenditures, wherever it can be done consistently with the public service; that no local improvements should be made except at the request of a majority of those by whom such improvements are to be paid for; and that all work done, and contracts made for the city, should be publicly let to the lowest bidder.”

In my former Inaugural I endeavored to impress upon the Council views similar to those so clearly enunciated in this resolution; and on the 10th of May last, in a general communication, I reiterated anew those sentiments. I again beg to call you attention to them, hoping that they may be the guide of our action upon the subjects referred to, and that when we surrender to the people the interest they have committed to us, we can claim the reward due to those who have been faithful to the trust reposed in them.

I have incidentally referred to the necessity of economy in our expenditures, but here more particularly call your attention to this subject. The present is a time of universal depression in monetary affairs. All persons are wisely economizing in their private expenditures, curtailing their expenses and limiting their liabilities as much as possible. Those having charge of the interests of the public should not form an exception to this wholesome rule, but should imitate so good an example freely. It is with much satisfaction, then, that I refer you to another resolution of the party which nominated me to this office. It is as follows: “Resolved, That the pecuniary embarrassments of the times, and the difficulty on the part of the people in the payment of taxes, call for the closest economy in the administration of state and municipal affairs; that we are gratified that the taxes of the city have been under the past administration greatly reduced. This is the sense of this convention, that as the salaries of officers, and the general expenses of the city government were graduated in more prosperous times than the present, that there is room for reduction in those salaries and in the expenses of the city government.”

I trust that the views and principles of this resolution will be carried our by the Common Council in their fullest sense, and to the very letter, and that no personal predilections or considerations will prevent proper action upon the objects involved in it. In this connection I might add that there are many expenses which can be curtailed, and several offices which you may see fit in you wisdom to abolish, and which are demanded by the public service. I might particularize by mentioning, among others, the clerks of the North and West Markets, the Deputy Clerk of the Police Court, and a curtailment of the number of Clerks in the various departments. With reference to the Market Clerks, their duties can be performed by the Police officers in charge of the Station Houses, such Station Houses being located in the market buildings.

Order and Morality of the City

My attention has been called to the subject of the order and morality of the city, involving gambling, prostitution, selling liquor without a license, etc. It is my earnest desire, gentlemen, as it has been heretofore, to enforce the ordinances of the city covering these various offences, or any others that you, in your wisdom, may see fit to pass. During a portion of the past year unfortunately, a misunderstanding existed between the chief Magistrate and the Judge and officers of the Recorder’s Court. I am happy to be able to state however, that this misunderstanding no longer exists; and that the Judge and Prosecuting Attorney of that Court will do all in their power to cooperate with me in every proper measure, for the preservation of order in our city, and the punishment of the violators thereof.


The Police Force is a most important arm of the Administration of the city, and should be carefully and properly regulated and controlled. The territory to be guarded by the patrol force is very extended, and a smaller number of men than now employed would, I am satisfied, fall short of fulfilling the wants and satisfying the expectations of the public. The Bridges, Bridewell, and the Courts, also, require quite a number of men. Without impairing the utility of the Department, I will make it my earnest endeavor to economize, as far a as possible, its expenses and shall be ever ready to cooperate with you and my fellow citizens generally, in every measure for the reform of abuses, and the increase of the efficiency of the force.

County Relations

There has been heretofore a difference between the City and County, in relation to the improvements on the Court House and Public Square, and streets surrounding the same. I contended upon the part of the city, that, by the original contract, now on file in the office of the Comptroller, entered into June, 1851, the city was only required to pay its proportion of the expense of the addition and improvements of the building, not those of the Square, the latter being wholly the property of the County, the city have relinquished all claim thereto. It was contended upon the part of the County, that the city should not only pay its proportion of the expense of additions to the buildings, but also of improving the square and streets adjoining, and whatever assessments might be laid upon the same, for opening streets and other purposes. Finally, these differences were adjusted during the past year, and a contract entered into between the City and County. This contract stipulated that the city should pay one half the expense of the addition to the Court House Building, and eight twenty-oneths of all new improvements or assessments on or about the Square, and five eighteenths of all old improvements. In consideration of these stipulations, the County, among other things, agreed that no new buildings or obstructions of any kind should be placed upon the Public Square, without the consent of both the parties in interest. I am sorry to see, however, that notwithstanding the stipulations of this contract, an order has been introduced into the Board of Supervisors which contemplates the erection of a building upon the Washington St. front of the Square. For my part, I most earnestly enter my protest against this intended defacement of the Public Square, and trust that in so doing, I will be seconded by every member of this Board.

Streets and Alleys

That there is need of much work upon the streets and alleys of the city, is beyond a question; that the leading thoroughfares need large repairs, or otherwise new work entire, is also true; yet at the same time, it is to be hoped that some system will be inaugurated by you , which will meet every requirement the public at much less cost than that in vogue during the year just passed. There was expended last year thirty five thousand dollars in the South Division; thirty-three thousand dollars in the West Division; and thirty thousand dollars in the North Division; being a total in the three Divisions of the city, of ninety-eight thousand dollars, for street cleaning, repairing and Division improvements generally. On assuming the duties of my office last year, my first care was to confer with the Street Commissioners of the different Divisions, with the idea that some uniform policy as to street work might be adopted for the year; but being surrounded and pressed as the Commissioners were by multitudes clamorous for work, and claiming at the same time, that they were responsible alone to the people who elected them. I found it impossible to bring about a plan of cooperation between them and the Executive. This branch of expenditures I commend to your careful consideration, hoping you will take immediate action thereon.

The following planked thoroughfares are in such bad condition that they need to be planked entirely anew, or else Macadamised or paved: State street, from Twelfth street to the Archer road; Clark street, from Madison street to Liberty street, and perhaps further south; Kinzie street, from the North Branch eastwardly to its intersection with North Water street, and from the North Branch west to Halsted street; Canal street from Kinzie to Lake street, and from Randolph street to Van Buren street; and Madison street, from Sangamon street west to the city limits.

The ordinance passed July 17, 1848, permitting the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad to come into the city, giving them 22 feet in the centre of Kinzie street, provides that they shall lay their track so that carriages may pass up and down the street on either side, and that they may conveniently cross the same. Great complaint arises from the present condition of the street, on account of the Railroad neglecting to conform to the provisions of the ordinance. I suggest, if the Railroad fail to carry out the requirements of the ordinance, that said ordinance be amended or repealed.

Side Walks

There is no one thing which is more complained of than the present manner of ordering building and assessing for side walks. The whole ordinance relating thereto, is cumbersome, and needs careful revision, especially as regards the reconstruction and building of new sidewalks. The Street Commissioners’ reports, upon sidewalks built, should, I think, go through the hands of the Superintendent of Special Assessments, or Superintendent of Public Works before final action is taken by the Council upon them.

Special Assessments, Contracts, Etc.

There having been heretofore many, and no doubt just, complaints against the mode in which contracts have been drawn, informalities of assessment rolls, etc., I call you particular attention to these matters. By referring to Chapter1, Section 2, Municipal Laws, you will find that the “City Attorney is required to draft all ordinances, bonds, contracts, leases, conveyances and such other instruments of writing, including abstracts of title, as may be required by the business of the city; examine and inspect the tax and assessments rolls, and all proceedings in reference to the assessment and collection of tax and assessments.” If this section of the Ordinance be strictly adhered to, a check would be put upon the present loose manner of preparing contracts and assessment rolls for confirmation and most, if not all, the evils complained remedied.

The Fire Department

To this branch of our City Government we committed the safety of large material interests as well as the lives of our citizens; and it is our bounden duty to the people to see that the Department is made as effective and reliable as possible. To this end the volunteer Companies, and the Companies in the paid Department must cooperate and harmonize throughout, and strict regulations should be adopted for the furtherance of this object. If there is any Company in the Department which is not inclined to abide by such laws and regulations as the Council may adopt, I recommend that they be summarily disbanded. There are now four steamers in service, with hose carts and tenders attached, requiring 48 men and 20 horses which will involve an expenditure the coming year, in round numbers, of $20,000. The experience of the past year has fully demonstrated the usefulness and efficiency of this part of the department; and I think the time is not far distant, if it has not already arrived, when it will be found sound policy and economy to substitute steam in place of hand engines, except in the outskirts of the city, and there a smaller and plainer class of engine, than those now in use, will, I think, be found most available.

The cost of the entire Department the past year, was $66,389.62. This includes the purchase of four steamers, hose carts and tenders; 5,000 feet of hose; 9 horses with equipments; the cost of constructing two new brick houses; the cost of constructing two new brick houses; and also unpaid claims of former years on volunteer companies of $2,050. At the present time the repairs of the machinery are done outside of the department at a large cost. Deeming it a measure of economy, I recommend that a repair shop be fitted up in the basement of the Engine House on La Salle street. The Engineers being practical mechanics, can do the needed repairs for the Department without interfering with their other duties.

Harbor and Bridges

Realizing the necessity in the future for enlarged harbor accommodations, steps were taken by the last Council for the survey of the South Branch, in reference to widening and straitening the same, and establishing dock lines. The surveys are now completed, or nearly so, and the maps are in a good degree of progress. It will be the duty of the Council to establish these lines the coming year. I also recommend that steps should be taken to consummate the work already begun, in reference to enlarging and repairing the harbor accommodations upon the North Branch. An appropriation of $87,00 has, I learn, through the medium of the public press, been made for the improvement of our Harbor by the General Government, chiefly through the exertions of the Members of Congress from this District. It is to be hoped this appropriation will not be withheld, as others have been heretofore, but will be expended in the manner contemplated by the act.

Our bridges, with the exception of Lake and Kinzie street, I am happy to inform you, were never before in so good a condition. They will require, during the coming season, but the ordinary repairs, including painting. I recommend that a new pivot bridge, of similar construction to that on Randolph street, be erected at Lake street; also a new float-bridge at Kinzie street. These new bridges are absolute necessities, imperatively called for by the wants of the citizens generally. The citizens in the vicinity of Halsted street, on the South Branch, and Division street, on the North Branch, are anxious to have bridges built at those points; but whether the city, in the present state of its finances, is able to build and sustain bridges at other than the points at which they are already constructed, is a question for your careful and serious consideration.


Chicago is a great railroad centre, the radius of which is constantly being extended according as the vast regions of wilderness to the north-west, west and south-west of us are brought under cultivation and the influences of civilization and refinement. Without this great net work of railroads, our city would have advanced but slowly indeed, and fallen behind more fortunately situated competitors; with it, Chicago must always retain the position of the great commercial emporium of the north-west. It should be our rule, then to foster judiciously this great interest, and if legislation is required by it, to extend it freely and frankly; always, however, with a due regard to the interest of individuals, as well as the public generally.

Another branch of the subject, to which I desire to direct your special attention is, that of horse-railroads. This comparatively modern institution in cities seems providentially designed for the benefit of a large class of people—all those who are compelled to labor in large cities, but whose limited means prevent them from purchasing homesteads convenient to the counting-houses, work shops or factories in which their labor is performed. Horse railroads obviate this objection, and give the poor man a home in the outskirts of the city, at the same time that they bring him near to the place in which he earns the means to support his family. They are emphatically the poor man’s railroads, and on this account, if on no other should be fostered and protected by the municipal authorities of all large cities. I regret that the Legislature, at its last session, did not pass a general law, giving the city authority to incorporate companies to construct such roads. The city is the best judge of the most desirable routes for them, and of the standing and ability of the proposed incorporators, and I have no doubt the authority would not have been abused. Those companies which the Legislature has incorporated, I trust, however, will prove useful to our citizens, and will serve as models for future ones. I ardently desire that the benefits of these roads will be extended to all quarters of our city; at the same time, I trust care will always be taken that the companies shall not encroach upon the rights, or act in opposition to the expressed wishes of the property holders, through whose streets they pass.

Reform School

The Reform School contains at present two hundred boys, who are fed, clothed and educated at the expense of the city, and at a cost, during the past year, of $26,000. I need scarcely enlarge upon the benefits of this institution, not only to the destitute children provided for by it, but to the order and welfare of the city. They are really incalculable, and of such a general character that I think the State should pay a portion of the cost of maintaining the School. At present, also, there is a great and pressing want in our city of a School for Girls of a character similar to that used for boys. You, gentlemen, or the public generally, can have but a faint conception of the number of unprotected female children who are being yearly sacrificed to every manner of vice and iniquity, on account of the want of a Female Reform School. It is to be hoped that at its next session the Legislature will confer upon the city the necessary authority to create such a school. The Board of Guardians have already bound out a number of boys to farmers and others; and I trust, that during the coming year, a large number of those who at present compose the school and who are of a suitable age, and so brought under proper educational and religious influences, as to be qualified for apprentices in respectable families, will be provided for in this way.

Common Schools

It is scarcely necessary for me to commend our Common Schools—that great ark of safety to our political institutions –to your careful attention and consideration. They are the means, above all others, by which to harmonize conflicting sentiments of sect and race, from which the greatest danger to political institutions such as ours has heretofore arisen. I trust they will ever prove useful in softening down all those artificial distinctions set up by men in opposition to the free principles of true religion and true humanity, and that all efforts to change their present constitution, in obedience to the wishes of sectarian influences, from whatever quarter, will prove signal failures. We are prevented by our charter from appropriating more than two mills upon the dollar of taxable property to the support of these schools; but there is also a large and valuable fund arising from the lands originally set apart by the General and state Governments, subject to their use. The proper disposition of this fund, under the action of the School Agent, is a matter for your consideration; also, the selection of five members of the fifteen composing the Board of Education for the ensuing year, to take charge of the schools, so far as relates to their support, management, &c. These subjects will, of course, receive proper consideration and action at your hands.

City Hospital

The city, as you know, is in possession of a large and costly hospital, which is entirely useless, as it has not been thought advisable, up to the present time, that the city should incur the expense of furnishing and maintaining it. This is a burning shame, as well on the score of self interest as humanity. I recommend the subject to your attention, with the suggestion that the city and county take some concert of action upon the subject. The county is really as much interested in this subject as the city. At present, the sick poor are conveyed a considerable distance into the country, at the risk of life and at great expense, to a place where they have but few, if any, of the comforts which could be cheaply and readily obtained in Chicago. Were the sick poor, who are now taken care of at the expense of the county, placed in this hospital instead of taken to Jefferson, a great saving would be effected to the county, while the rights of mercy and humanity would be vindicated. The county should, by all means, be required to pay its proportion of the expenses of the hospital, in case it be deemed advisable to open it to the public.

I might add in this connection that a communication was received a short time since, and which has never been acted upon, proposing, on the part of some leading physicians in our city, to take the hospital, furnish it and carry it on at their own expense, the city and county paying for any pauper patients which they may send there, and the physicians looking to patients who were able to pay for their remuneration. I commend this or any similar communication from responsible parties to your attention.

Individual Complaints

I have, during the past year, received a large number of anonymous communications, containing complaints upon various subjects, which, from the fact of the writers withholding their names, could not receive any attention at my hands. To obviate this in future, I will direct that a Complaint Book be opened in the office of the City Marshal, in which all persons can enter their communications over their proper signatures. Such a book will obviate this defect in future, while citizens feeling aggrieved at any want of attention on the part of the Chief Magistrate to any abuse, can have no excuse when they fail to inform him of the existence of such.


At the meeting of the Common Council, February 14th, 1859, several claims were presented from contractors, amounting in total to $30,000—being for balances due them under contract with the City for dredging the North Branch of Chicago River, from Chicago Avenue to the City limits. These were referred to the Mayor, Comptroller and Superintendent Public Works, with power to act. That Committee, not having acted upon the matter, these claims will come before you again for final adjustment. I have thought a brief history of the case would not be inappropriate to this occasion. A petition signed by a majority of the property holders on the North Branch was presented to the Council on the 19th January, 1857. It was referred to the Committee on Harbor and Bridges, who reported August 10th, 1857, that the prayer of the petition be granted, and asked the passage of proper orders. This report was laid on the table, and ordered published, and at the meeting of the Council, August 24th, 1857, was called up, passed, and Commissioners appointed to assess. Pending the action of the Committee on Harbor and Bridges, the following agreement of the majority of owners of property between Chicago Avenue and North Avenue was made:

“Whereas, by the order of the Common Council of the City of Chicago, passed the first day of January, A.D. 1857, to widen , deepen and dredge the North Branch of Chicago river from Kinzie Street Bridge north to the City limits; and to assess the expense thereof upon the property in said city deemed benefited thereby, the property owners, whose property is benefited by said improvement, to expedite said work, agree to advance money to carry on said work; and to be allowed the amount of such advances upon the assessments hereafter to be made by said Common Council upon the said property so deemed benefited, and belonging to the said persons who have so made advances as aforesaid.”

“Now therefore, in consideration of the premises, and for the purpose of expediting said work, we, the undersigned agree to pay into the City Treasury the pro rata proportion of such sums as may be required to open a channel for the passage of loaded vessels and boats, in proportion to the number of feet of water front owned or represented by us, at such time as the same shall be required for said work.”

Upon the filing of this agreement with the City, agreements were made with the present claimants for doing the work; and estimates made upon the work; the property owners paying the money upon said estimates according to their agreement. The assessment for the improvement was confirmed October 5th, 1857, and immediately thereupon contracts were entered into by the City with the claimants, payments being conditional upon the collection the assessment, the work not being all completed during the year 1857. On the 29th of January, 1858, there was filed in the office of the Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas a stipulation, by which the property owners agreed to waive all right they might have in law and equity, and allow judgment without costs to be entered against them; stipulating, however, to pay as fast as the work progresses upon the estimates of the Superintendent of Public Works, and in case of default of their so paying, the City to sell. Certain of the petitioners for the work, however, refused to sign the stipulation, and carried the case to the Supreme Court, which decided against the right of the City to make the assessment, although entertaining no doubt as to the propriety of the property fronting on said river paying for the improvement. Upon this decision, the Court of Common Pleas decided against the City in their application for judgment last month. The case is a peculiar one, inasmuch as the original petition is signed by nearly all the property owners, as well as the agreement to pay upon estimates before the assessment was collected. And now, when the work is done, and the property made available for dock purposes, the same parties refuse to pay. If there is no law even to compel, a proper sense of justice, it seems to me, would induce the payment of the amount, on the party of property holders, so that the contractors may receive their remuneration for the work they have done.

There has also been considerable difficulty and litigation with regard to the opening of La Salle street. The assessment for the opening of this street was confirmed in 1856, and warrants in the usual form issued for the collection of the same. They were placed in the hands of Mr. Geo. W. Colby, at that time Special Collector for the South Division. Some of the parties assessed, disputed the authority of the Special Collector to sell under the Charter, and the case was carried up to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court decided that the regularly elected City Collector alone, had authority to sell; but the decision was obtained too late to get judgment on the part of the City Collector against the property benefitted, at the last term of the Court of Common Pleas. In the mean time, parties claiming damages against the city are suing for the amount of the same. As this is a peculiar case, and the amount claimed large, I deem it my duty to recommend that the Council resist the payment of those claims to the uttermost, believing as I do, that those who were most instrumental in pressing the opening of the street, were the first to resist the payment of the necessary expenses of the same.

Appointments and Removals

With reference to appointments to salaried officers, I beg to state that I would prefer to wait the action of the Council upon the subject of fixing the salaries. When the salary attached to an office is fixed, before the selection of the appointee, he knows what he is to expect, and cannot thus be disappointed. And as there is an implied contract between the officer and the city, it is a matter of at least equity, that said contract should be faithfully adhered to by both parties. I would also desire to take time to fully consider the qualifications of parties applying, or recommended to office, as you will see, by reference to the Charter, that, although the Mayor has the appointing power, he has none of removal, and, thus, an officer giving dissatisfaction, or exhibiting want of proper qualifications, can only be removed by the action of the Council.


In conclusion, gentlemen, I trust our deliberations will be ever marked by harmony and good feeling; our measures resolved upon solely with an eye to the good of the whole people; and that no personal or sectional predilections will swerve us from the path of duty, or obliterate from our breasts the idea that justice to all our constituents and probity on our part, as their servants, should be the guiding principles of our action.


  • Chicago Common Council. Journal of the Proceedings, March 16, 1859.
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