James Otis (mayor)

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James Otis
James Otis (19th century).jpg
15th Mayor of San Francisco
In office
December 1, 1873 – October 30, 1875
Preceded byWilliam Alvord
Succeeded byGeorge Hewston
Personal details
Born(1826-08-11)August 11, 1826
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
DiedOctober 30, 1875(1875-10-30) (aged 49)
San Francisco, California, U.S.
SpouseLucy Hamilton Macondray (m. 1858–1875; death)

James Otis (August 11, 1826 – October 30, 1875) was an American politician.[1][2] He was active in San Francisco, where he served as mayor from 1873 to 1875.[1][3]


James Otis was born in Boston, Massachusetts to the Otis family, which is counted among the Boston Brahmin families. He was the grandson of James Otis Jr. of the American Revolutionary War.[4]

He moved to San Francisco, California for the 1849 California Gold Rush.[2] He was a prominent member of the First Unitarian Church of San Francisco.[5][6] In 1858, Otis married Lucy Hamilton Macondray, together they had two daughters and five sons.[5] Otis then became an importer and exporter in San Francisco, working at his father-in-law Frederick William Macondray's business Macondray and Company.[2]

Otis became a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1859 and served until 1862. Otis was then elected Mayor of San Francisco in 1873 and was sworn in on December 1, 1873. His campaign was for flushing the sewers and cleaning up the streets.[4]

He died of diphtheria in San Francisco on October 30, 1875, while still serving his term as mayor.[7][8] Otis was interred at Laurel Hill Cemetery; and his remains were later moved to Cypress Lawn Memorial Park in Colma, California.[1] He was the only mayor to die in office until George Moscone's assassination in 1978.

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park in Humboldt County has a redwood grove named the James Otis Grove (as of 1947).[3] San Francisco has an Otis Street, named after him.


  1. ^ a b c "Index to Politicians: Otis". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved October 18, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c Sketches of Leading and Representative Men of San Francisco: Being Original Sketches of the Lives of the Prominent Politicians, Lawyers, Divines, Pioneers, Merchants, Orators, Etc., Etc., of San Francisco. London and New York Publishing Company. 1875. p. 861.
  3. ^ a b "James Otis". JoinCalifornia. Retrieved October 18, 2022.
  4. ^ a b "Mayors 1850-1897". FoundSF. Retrieved October 18, 2022.
  5. ^ a b The Pacific Unitarian, Volumes 29-32. San Francisco, CA. January 1920. p. 166.
  6. ^ "San Francisco Landmark #40: First Unitarian Church". noehill.com. Retrieved October 18, 2022.
  7. ^ Egan, Ferol (August 28, 2009). Last Bonanza Kings: The Bourns of San Francisco. University of Nevada Press. p. 169. ISBN 978-0-87417-849-4.
  8. ^ Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences. California Academy of Sciences. 1893. p. 365.