Robert Adamson (FDNY Commissioner)

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Robert Edward Adamson
Robert Edward Adamson in 1914.jpg
Adamson in 1913
New York City Fire Commissioner
In office
Preceded by Joseph Johnson
Succeeded by Thomas J. Drennan
Personal details
Born (1871-03-31)March 31, 1871
Clayton County, Georgia
Died September 19, 1935(1935-09-19) (aged 64)
New York City
Spouse(s) Ethel McClintock May
Parents Augustus Pitt Adamson
Martilla Ellen Cook

Robert Edward Adamson (March 31, 1871 – September 19, 1935) was an American journalist and public official.[1]


Adamson was born on March 31, 1871 in Clayton County, Georgia to Augustus Pitt Adamson and Martilla Ellen Cook.

He began writing articles for the Macon, Georgia newspaper while still in his teens. At age 20, he became city editor of the Atlanta Constitution. He later moved to New York City and worked as a reporter for The New York Sun, the New York World, and the Brooklyn Eagle.

He married Ethel McClintock May on December 10, 1902 at Trinity Chapel in Manhattan.

In 1910, Adamson became secretary to New York Mayor William Jay Gaynor, and gained fame by helping thwart an assassination attempt on Gaynor. When Gaynor died in September 1910, Adamson continued as secretary to the new mayor, Ardolph Loges Kline. In 1914, he was campaign manager for John Purroy Mitchel.

In 1914 Mitchel appointed Adamson as the 9th Fire Commissioner of the City of New York. Adamson served in that position until the end of the Mitchel Administration on December 31, 1917. During his tenure he worked to have the entire department motorized.[2] He also proposed a modern fire alarm system for the city.[3]

Adamson unsuccessfully ran for the New York Board of Aldermen in 1917. He then left politics to work in banking and public relations.

He died of a heart attack in Manhattan, New York City on September 19, 1935.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Robert Adamson, Ex-fire Head, Dies. Commissioner Under Mitchel Had Been Secretary to Gaynor, Then Kline". New York Times. September 20, 1935. Retrieved 2010-03-27. Robert Adamson, former banker and Fire Commissioner of New York under Mayor John Purroy Mitchel, died unexpectedly at 3:15 P. M. yesterday in his ... 
  2. ^ "Fire Department To Be Completely Motorized. Commissioner Adamson Tells of Savings Effected by Automobiles. Average $485 an Engine". New York Times. January 3, 1915. Retrieved 2013-12-26. 
  3. ^ "Adamson Has New Emergency Alarm System Whereby You Call Up Police". New York Times. February 15, 1915. Retrieved 2013-12-26. Fire Commissioner Robert Adamson announced yesterday the complete installation of an emergency telephone fire alarm system to take care of all unusual fire contingencies until the modern fire alarm system, now being planned by the Commissioner to take the place of the present antiquated one, is ready. 
Fire appointments
Preceded by
Joseph Johnson
FDNY Commissioner
Succeeded by
Thomas J. Drennan