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recognized, and its authority respected; the love of knowledge is still vigorous and aspiring, and the principles of a life-giving Christianity are widely diffused and reverently cherished. For us who are called to the administration of affairs, there remain the same incentives to fidelity and duty which have stimulated those whose labors are held in grateful recollection, and the light of high example still beckons us onward to a like career of usefulness and honor.
It will not be deemed inappropriate that this occasion be improved to express my grateful and profound obligations to my fellow citizens for the distinguished favor renewedly received at their hands; and my thanks for the flattering approval of the policy and results of the past year's labors, which they have manifested by returning with such unanimity to these halls, so many of those who divided with me their responsibility and toil. Although the man who cherishes a just sense of his obligations will not be deterred from the independent performance of his duty, as he understands it, by the fear of popular disapproval, yet there is no reward more grateful to its recipient, and scarcely a higher evidence of liberality of mind in the community which bestows it, than the exercise of an unprejudiced judgment in support of the motives and actions of men, either in public or private life. The favor which I have received in this connection, will be cherished as long as life and
memory shall last; and I add to this tribute of my thanks, the assurance that whatever abilities I possess will be faithfully devoted to the promotion of the best interests of my fellow citizens, without prejudice and without partiality.
The circumstances under which we are assembled are somewhat peculiar in another particular. Leaving the fierce conflict of political strife to other and more appropriate fields, our fellow citizens have undertaken the experiment of a municipal administration based upon a different system of representation. And when we consider that, whatever differences of opinion may exist respecting matters of national concern, these differences can scarcely enter, to any considerable degree, into the local affairs of separate municipal corporations, and that the points of difference, affecting the welfare of citizens of the same community, must necessarily be small, compared with the overwhelming points of harmony; the wisdom and justice of uniting all opinions and interests in the management of these affairs, becomes forcibly apparent.
The universality of this opinion was demonstrated at the recent election, when all the existing political organizations, though differing somewhat respecting the manner of accomplishing the result, were unanimous in their acknowledgment of the correctness and value of the principle of general representation. Should this system continue to receive general appro
bation, its tendency would undoubtedly be, to draw into the public service persons of intelligence, leisure and experience, who now shrink from the ordeal of partizan elections. And should it be deemed expedient hereafter so to change the executive departments of the government as to prolong the term of service, much of the danger of hasty and incompetent legislation would disappear, and other important advantages be secured.
Having given a somewhat extended examination of several of the leading objects in our municipal affairs, and my views concerning them, in a former communication which I had the honor to make to the City Council, it is not necessary that I should again go over the same particulars, excepting in those cases where further and immediate attention is demanded. I will, however, improve the opportunity which this first convention of the present City Council affords, to place before you such other particulars of public interest as may seem to be worthy of your consideration, which, together with those that have been previously discussed, may afford a general portraiture of our affairs at the present moment.
In proceeding to the statement of particular items, it is proper to give precedence to our fiscal affairs.
The following statement, based upon the report of the Committee on the Reduction of the City Debt, will exhibit the financial condition of the city on the 24th of December, 1856, as accurately as it can now be presented; and, also, this condition compared with the corresponding period in 1855.
December 24th, 1855. The funded City Debt was,
Total Consolidated Debt,
December 24th, 1856. The funded City Debt was,
Total City Debt,
Funded Water Debt,
Bonds and Mortgages,
Dec. 24th, 1856. Cash on hand,
THE FOLLOWING TABLE EXHIBITS THE MEANS OF PAYMENT:
Dec. 24th, 1855. Cash on hand,
Showing a decrease of means of
Increase of Debt,
Decrease of Means,
Net increase of Debt,
Of this increase of debt, all but $56,500 has been applied to the liquidation of debts incurred by preceding administrations, and not provided for by them; and of this sum, even, $20,500 have been appropriated for the settlement of nine law suits, which have been the subjects of long and expensive litigation, with the prospect of ultimate verdicts against the city. The remaining $36,000 have been expended in rebuilding the Federal street Bridge, leading to South Boston, $6,000 of which will be returned to the treasury by the Dorchester Avenue Railroad Campany, under an agreement made with that corporation. The actual addition to the debt by the government of last year, is, therefore, but $30,000, and that for a work of permanent necessity, which does not come by previous custom into the class of current expenses covered by the annual appropriations. Indeed, but for the necessity of providing large sums for obligations previously incurred and not now enumerated, this statement would exhibit a considerable reduction of the debt.
It may form a matter for your consideration, how far this indebtedness shall be allowed to increase; and if it shall be checked, by what means such a result shall