Inaugural Address of Mayor Nelson
December 1876

 

GENTLEMEN:

    No doubt but you feel that the responsibilities resting upon us are immense, in administering the affairs of our city the present year.  Let us form a resolution that the confidence of the people shall not be betrayed by us, but that each one of us give his greatest and best energies to increase the prosperity of the city, and that we let no private ambition, hope of gain, love of applause, or fear of public opinion swerve us from our duty as members of this Council.
    One of the duties that demand our earnest and careful consideration--I refer to our bonded debt--has been under the supervision and care of the able and efficient Finance Committee for the past year.  Steps have been taken to compromise and reduce this debt, and place it in the reach of the city to pay promptly the interest and principal as it becomes due.
    This work not yet being completed I desire the co-operation of Council in this one particular and important matter.  Should we perfect this and bring about a compromise that would bring the debt within the power of the city to pay, we shall have accomplished a great work.  I therefore recommend to you, gentlemen, to use your influence and greatest energies, as the late Council have done, to perfect this compromise.  One mistake on our part in this important matter may bring down upon us a saddened and poverty-stricken community, while, on the other hand, we might hand down our posterity a prosperous and thriving city.
    As it has been repeatedly rehearsed in this Hall the manner in which we became saddled with this debt and you all being familiar with the facts, I deem it unnecessary for me to say more upon the subject.
    In regard to our Railroads, Harbor, Cemeteries, Education, Fire Department, Expenses of the City, while these are of vital importance to our city, I deem it unnecessary to say anything, for, with the able and talented Board of Aldermen elected and now surrounding me, I am satisfied in my own mind that these committees will do full justice in these matters.
    I now call your attention to the late epidemic we have just passed through (the yellow fever epidemic).  Wisely did Dr. Holt, of New Orleans, say yellow fever is dangerous and should be feared, the most favorable case may eventuate fatally.  I therefore recommend that diligence be used to prevent the out breaking of this dreadful disease the present year.  I have no doubt in my own mind that accumulated human excreta and offal in foul streets are food for yellow fever.  It does not effect the sanitary question an iota whether the infection of yellow fever be a germ, animal, or vegetable, or be any other thing or condition which theory is pleased to assume, so long as it is intangible to any of the senses--we can have no positive knowledge of the essential nature of the poison.
    In this Health Officer is the custodian of the public health, and should have the welfare of his fellow citizens at heart, and under his directions, I recommend the cleansing of yards, privies, streets, whitewashing houses, fences, etc.  I think proper caution and steps should be taken to prevent another epidemic.
    While speaking of this, I trust we, with all good and true citizens of this city, may remember him that occupied this chair during the greater portion of the past year, and while many of us were lying upon our sick beds, helpless and unconscious of what was going on, he was at his post late at night or early in the morning, administering to the wants of the needy and whispering consolation to the despondent.  May he rest in peace, and may his noble acts and deeds be remembered for years to come.
    I now declare this Council open and ready for business for the year 1877.

 

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