Mayor of Boston

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City Seal
John Phillips, first Mayor of Boston
Thomas Menino, longest serving Mayor of Boston

The Mayor of Boston is the head of the municipal government in Boston, Massachusetts. Boston has a mayor-council system of government. Boston's mayoral elections are non-partisan (as are all municipal elections in Boston), and elect a mayor to a four-year term; there are no term limits. The mayor's office is in Boston City Hall, in Government Center.

The current mayor is Martin J. "Marty" Walsh. Currently, there is one living former mayor, Raymond Flynn, born (1939-07-22) July 22, 1939 (age 79). The most recent mayor to die was Thomas Menino, on October 30, 2014.

History[edit]

Prior to 1822, there was no Mayor of Boston, because Boston was incorporated as a town. In Massachusetts, a town is typically governed by a town meeting, with a board of selectmen handling regular business. Boston was the first community in Massachusetts to receive a city charter, which was granted in 1822.[1] Under the terms of the new charter, the mayor was elected annually. In June 1895, the charter was amended, and the mayor's term was increased to two years.[2]

In 1909, the Republican-controlled state legislature enacted strong-mayor charter changes it hoped would dampen the rising power of Democratic Irish Americans.[3] Adopted by public vote in the November 1909 general election, changes included extending the mayoral term to four years, and making the post formally non-partisan.[4] The reforms did not work; the first mayor elected under the new charter was Democrat John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, and every mayor since Republican Malcolm Nichols (1926–1930) has been a Democrat.

In a bid to temper the rising power of James Michael Curley, the state legislature in 1918 passed legislation barring the Mayor of Boston from serving consecutive terms in office;[5] Curley was prevented from running for re-election twice by this law (November 1925 and November 1933). The law was repealed in 1939,[6] after Curley's political career appeared to be in decline.[7]

Another charter change was enacted in 1949, partly in response to Curley's fourth term (1946–1950), during which he served prison time for crimes committed in an earlier term. Changes included adding a preliminary election to narrow the field to two mayoral candidates in advance of the general election, changing the Boston City Council from having 22 members (one from each city ward) to having nine members (elected at-large), and giving the council ability to override some mayoral vetoes.[8] These changes went into effect in 1951, resulting in the first term of John B. Hynes being shortened to two years.

From 1951 through 1991, Boston mayoral elections were held the year before presidential elections (e.g. mayoral election in 1951, presidential election in 1952). Starting in 1993, due to the election held following Raymond Flynn's appointment as United States Ambassador to the Holy See, Boston mayoral elections are held the year following presidential elections (e.g. presidential election in 1992, mayoral election in 1993).

List[edit]

Use of ( ) denotes non-consecutive terms for a mayor.

# Mayor Term In office   Party
Start End Terms won Duration
1 John Phillips May 1, 1822 May 1, 1823 1 1 year Federalist
2 Josiah Quincy III May 1, 1823 January 5, 1829 6 5 years, 8 months Federalist
3 Harrison G. Otis January 5, 1829 January 2, 1832 3 3 years Federalist
4 Charles Wells January 2, 1832 January 6, 1834 2 2 years Whig
5 Theodore Lyman January 6, 1834 January 4, 1836 2 2 years Democratic
6 Samuel T. Armstrong January 4, 1836 January 1, 1837 1 1 year Whig
7 Samuel A. Eliot January 1, 1837 January 6, 1840 3 3 years Whig
8 Jonathan Chapman January 6, 1840 January 2, 1843 3 3 years Whig
9 Martin Brimmer January 2, 1843 January 6, 1845 2 2 years Whig
William Parker double-dagger January 6, 1845 February 27, 1845 2 months Whig
10 Thomas A. Davis dagger February 27, 1845 November 22, 1845 1 9 months Native American
Benson Leavitt double-dagger November 22, 1845 December 11, 1845 1 month Whig
11 Josiah Quincy Jr. December 11, 1845 January 1, 1849 3 3 years, 1 month Whig
12 John P. Bigelow January 1, 1849 January 5, 1852 3 3 years Whig
13 Benjamin Seaver January 5, 1852 January 2, 1854 2 2 years Whig
14 Jerome V. C. Smith January 2, 1854 January 7, 1856 2 2 years American
15 Alexander H. Rice January 7, 1856 January 4, 1858 2 2 years Republican
16 (1) Frederic W. Lincoln Jr. January 4, 1858 January 7, 1861 3 3 years Republican
17 Joseph Wightman January 7, 1861 January 5, 1863 2 2 years Democratic
18 (2) Frederic W. Lincoln Jr. January 5, 1863 January 7, 1867 4 4 years Republican
19 Otis Norcross January 7, 1867 January 6, 1868 1 1 year Republican
20 Nathaniel B. Shurtleff January 6, 1868 January 2, 1871 3 3 years Democratic
21 William Gaston January 2, 1871 January 6, 1873 2 2 years Democratic
22 (1) Henry L. Pierce January 6, 1873 November 29, 1873 1 11 months None
23 Leonard R. Cutter double-dagger November 29, 1873 January 5, 1874 1 month Democratic
24 Samuel C. Cobb January 5, 1874 January 1, 1877 3 3 years None
25 (1) Frederick O. Prince January 1, 1877 January 7, 1878 1 1 year Democratic
26 (2) Henry L. Pierce January 7, 1878 January 6, 1879 1 1 year Republican
27 (2) Frederick O. Prince January 6, 1879 January 2, 1882 3 3 years Democratic
28 Samuel A. Green January 2, 1882 January 1, 1883 1 1 year Republican
29 Albert Palmer January 1, 1883 January 7, 1884 1 1 year Democratic
30 Augustus P. Martin January 7, 1884 January 5, 1885 1 1 year Republican
31 Hugh O'Brien January 5, 1885 January 7, 1889 4 4 years Democratic
32 (1) Thomas N. Hart January 7, 1889 December 31, 1890 2 2 years Republican
33 Nathan Matthews Jr. January 1, 1891 January 7, 1895 4 4 years Democratic
34 Edwin Upton Curtis January 7, 1895 January 6, 1896 1 1 year Republican
 
Mayoral term increased to two years.
   
35 Josiah Quincy January 6, 1896 January 1, 1900 2 4 years Democratic
36 (2) Thomas N. Hart January 1, 1900 January 6, 1902 1 2 years Republican
37 Patrick Collins dagger January 6, 1902 September 13, 1905 2 3 years, 9 months Democratic
Daniel A. Whelton double-dagger September 15, 1905 January 1, 1906 3 months Democratic
38 (1) John F. Fitzgerald January 1, 1906 January 6, 1908 1 2 years Democratic
39 George A. Hibbard January 6, 1908 February 7, 1910 1 2 years Republican
 
Mayoral term increased to four years.
   
40 (2) John F. Fitzgerald February 7, 1910 February 2, 1914 1 4 years Democratic
41 (1) James M. Curley February 2, 1914 February 4, 1918 1 4 years Democratic
42 Andrew J. Peters February 4, 1918 February 6, 1922 1 4 years Democratic
43 (2) James M. Curley February 6, 1922 January 4, 1926 1 4 years Democratic
44 Malcolm Nichols January 4, 1926 January 6, 1930 1 4 years Republican
45 (3) James M. Curley January 6, 1930 January 1, 1934 1 4 years Democratic
46 Frederick Mansfield January 1, 1934 January 3, 1938 1 4 years Democratic
47 Maurice J. Tobin January 3, 1938 January 4, 1945 2 7 years Democratic
John E. Kerrigan double-dagger January 4, 1945 January 7, 1946 1 year Democratic
48 (4) James M. Curley January 7, 1946 January 2, 1950 1 4 years Democratic
49 John B. Hynes January 2, 1950 January 4, 1960 3 10 years Democratic
50 John F. Collins January 4, 1960 January 1, 1968 2 8 years Democratic
51 Kevin White January 1, 1968 January 2, 1984 4 16 years Democratic
52 Raymond Flynn January 2, 1984 July 12, 1993 3 9 years, 6 months Democratic
53 Thomas Menino July 12, 1993 January 6, 2014 5 20 years, 6 months Democratic
54 Marty Walsh January 6, 2014 Incumbent 2 4 years+ Democratic
       
 
Mayors serving non-consecutive terms.
   
M Frederic W. Lincoln Jr. January 4, 1858 January 7, 1867 7 7 years Republican
M Henry L. Pierce January 6, 1873 January 6, 1879 2 1 year, 11 months Republican
M Frederick O. Prince January 1, 1877 January 2, 1882 4 4 years Democratic
M Thomas N. Hart January 7, 1889 January 7, 1902 3 4 years Republican
M John F. Fitzgerald January 5, 1906 February 2, 1914 2 6 years Democratic
M James M. Curley February 2, 1914 January 2, 1950 4 16 years Democratic

dagger died in office
double-dagger acting mayor (only)

Acting mayors[edit]

Year Name Explanation Ref.
1845 William Parker Served as acting mayor during multiple deadlocked elections. [9]
1845 Benson Leavitt Served as acting mayor following the death of Thomas A. Davis. [9]
1853 Benjamin L. Allen Served as acting mayor during multiple deadlocked elections. [9]
1873 Leonard R. Cutter Served as acting mayor following Henry L. Pierce's election to Congress.
Was not a candidate in the 1873 Boston mayoral election.
[10][11]
1905 Daniel A. Whelton Served as acting mayor following the death of Patrick Collins.
Was not a candidate in the 1905 Boston mayoral election.
[12][13]
1945 John E. Kerrigan Served as acting mayor upon Maurice J. Tobin becoming Governor of Massachusetts.
Subsequently lost the 1945 Boston mayoral election.
[14][15]
1947 John B. Hynes Served as acting mayor during the absence (incarceration) of James M. Curley.
Subsequently won the 1949 Boston mayoral election.
[9][16]
1993 Thomas Menino Served as acting mayor upon Raymond Flynn becoming Ambassador to the Holy See
Subsequently won the 1993 Boston mayoral election.
[17][18]

Only Cutter and Menino are listed by the City of Boston as having been "Acting Mayor"; others are said to have "acted as Mayor" or similar verbiage.[9] The former are numbered in a list of Boston's mayors, the latter are not. Hynes' time acting as Mayor is not numbered; his time as elected Mayor is.

See also[edit]

Sources[edit]

  • Allison, Robert; Bulger, William (2011). James Michael Curley. Applewood Books. ISBN 9781933212753.
  • O'Neill, Gerard (2012). Rogues and Redeemers. New York: Crown Publisher. ISBN 9780307405364.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "(untitled)". Weekly Raleigh Register. Raleigh, North Carolina. March 22, 1822. p. 3. Retrieved March 24, 2018 – via newspapers.com.
  2. ^ "CHARTER AMENDED". The Boston Globe. June 2, 1895. p. 1. Retrieved March 13, 2018 – via pqarchiver.com.
  3. ^ O'Neill, pp. 39–42
  4. ^ "New Boston Charter is the Worst Defeat Ever Given Boss Rule". The Marion Daily Mirror. Marion, Ohio. November 3, 1909. Retrieved March 17, 2018 – via newspapers.com.
  5. ^ "REPORT BILL TO STOP CONSECUTIVE TERMS". The Boston Globe. February 26, 1918. p. 6. Retrieved March 12, 2018 – via pqarchiver.com.
  6. ^ "SECOND TERM WINS IN BOSTON". The Boston Globe. November 8, 1939. p. 1. Retrieved March 14, 2018 – via pqarchiver.com.
  7. ^ Allison and Bulger, pp. 86–87
  8. ^ "Plan A Wins; Boston to Get New Charter". The Boston Globe. November 9, 1949. p. 1. Retrieved March 2, 2018 – via pqarchiver.com.
  9. ^ a b c d e "PAST MAYORS OF BOSTON". boston.gov. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  10. ^ "Resignation of the Mayor of Boston". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. November 25, 1873. p. 4. Retrieved March 12, 2018 – via newspapers.com.
  11. ^ "Boston Mayor Race - Dec 09, 1873". ourcampaigns.com. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  12. ^ "WHELTON IS ACTING MAYOR". The Boston Globe. September 15, 1905. p. 1. Retrieved March 12, 2018 – via pqarchiver.com.
  13. ^ "Boston Mayor Race - Dec 12, 1905". ourcampaigns.com. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  14. ^ Doherty, Joseph (January 26, 1945). "Kerrigan First World War II Vet to Head City Government". The Boston Globe. p. 1. Retrieved March 12, 2018 – via pqarchiver.com.
  15. ^ "Boston Mayor Race - Nov 06, 1945". ourcampaigns.com. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  16. ^ "Boston Mayor Race - Nov 08, 1949". ourcampaigns.com. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  17. ^ McGrory, Brian (July 13, 1993). "Menino, `a neighborhood guy,' now at center stage". The Boston Globe. p. 12. Retrieved February 26, 2018 – via pqarchiver.com.
  18. ^ "Boston Mayor Race - Nov 02, 1993". ourcampaigns.com. Retrieved March 12, 2018.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]