This week’s Mini-Poll on New Year’s resolutions made me think about the St. Louis mayor whose own list would probably have been worth preserving for history.
James Britton, the City’s 23rd mayor, took office in May 1875. He served as mayor for only nine months, but his tenure was marked by some important changes in our history. Under Mayor Britton, the city established sewer districts and began requiring building inspections for all new construction.
Still, I wonder if Mayor Britton knew that his hopes for the City on New Year’s Day 1876 were probably misplaced. In February, Britton was succeeded in office by Henry Overstolz, a German-born merchant who had served previously as both comptroller and aldermanic president. The new mayor was a vocal supporter of the "Charter & Scheme" that proposed separating the City from St. Louis county. Voters narrowly approved the idea in August 1876. Thus, it was Overstolz, not Britton, who became St. Louis ’s first mayor elected to a four year term, and Overstolz’s resolutions, not Britton’s, that helped shape the governance of the newly truncated city.
Happy New Year.