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.