Officials: Personnel of the City Government 1875 Part I

It is the purpose of this article, therefore, to hold up before the people the men who fill the offices of our city government, to trace their lives and their characters from youth, and to explain as briefly and in as plain terms as possible the duties which they are called upon to perform.

There are twenty-five wards in the City of Brooklyn which elect together thirty-six Aldermen. The legislative power of the Corporation is vested in the Board of Aldermen. The administrative power of the Corporation is vested in the mayor and the heads of departments as follows:

Departments of Finance, Audit, Treasury, Collection, Arrears, Law, Assessment, City Works, Police and Excise, Fire and Buildings, health, Public, Institutions, and Parks. The mayor, Controller and Auditor are elected; all other officers are appointed. The total cost of the government of Brooklyn is about eight millions of dollars per annum.


The office of mayor is eminently an honorable one. To be the chief executive of the third city of the Union is to be in a pre-eminently honorable position. The Mayor of today has more power, more direct control over the affairs of the city than the mayor of a few years ago. Evil legislation, which invest4ed irresponsible Commissions with powers that should be exercised by the mayor and Common Council, has been undone, and today we have the nearest approach to "home rule" that we have had in the past decade.

The charter provides that no person shall be eligible to the office of mayor unless he has resided in the city at least five years and has attained the age of twenty-five years. he is, by virtue of his office, a Supervisor of the County of Kings, and possesses all the jurisdiction and exercises all the powers and authority in criminal cases of a Justice of the Peace, but he receives no fees for his services as Justice of the Peace or as Supervisor. it is made the duty of the Mayor to communicate to the Board of Aldermen, at their first meeting in January, each year, and oftener if he shall deem it expedient, a general statement of the condition of the city in relation to its government, finances and improvements, with such recommendations as he may deem proper; to be vigilant and active in causing the laws and ordinances of this city to be duly executed, and to exercise a constant supervision over the conduct and acts of all officers of the city government. he shall jointly with the Controller sign all warrants, bonds and other obligations of the city, but he shall not sign any warrant or other obligation, unless a proper voucher therefore shall have been first examined and certified to by him, nor shall he sign any bond for any loan unless the receipt of the Treasurer for the money loaned shall have been first seen and indorsed by him. The Mayor has also the nomination, and with the consent of the Aldermen the appointment, of the heads of the several departments and the Assessors, and the power to suspend any appointed officer. During the absence of the Mayor, the President of the Board of Aldermen acts in his place.

John W. Hunter, the present Mayor of Brooklyn, was born in the village of Bedford, now a part of Brooklyn, in 1807, and received his education in the district schools of his day. When a young man, he entered business as a clerk in a New York grocery house where he remained a number of years. As he advanced in life, he became identified with Brooklyn's educational interests. Thirty-five years ago, he was one of the trustees of what is now School No. 1, at the corner of Concord and Adams streets, and for thirty years he was a member of the Board of Education. The first official position of consequence held by Mr. Hunter was that of Assistant Auditor in the New York Custom House, and it was while he was in that position, in 1864, that what he terms "a most important episode in his life," occurred.

It seems that early in the war, before the establishment of Government bureaus, many of the heavy drafts of the Government were paid through the Collector of Customs. In acting for the Collector as deputy, John J. Cisco, then sub-treasurer, discovered forged checks which he had paid. These forgeries involved many thousands of dollars, and Cisco attempted to fasten the crime upon Mr. Hunter, who was arrested and taken before a United States Commissioner. A lengthy examination resulted in a complete vindication of Mr. Hunter. Treasurer Spinner wrote him a latter saying that he would answer for him with his life, and Cisco himself subsequently wrote to him saying: "Not a doubt rests in my mind of your entire innocence, and I deeply regret the erroneous theory on which I acted." In addition, Cisco paid him $3,000, the amount of the expenses incurred in his defense. It seems that Cisco having paid the forged checks, the Government looked to him to make good the amount, and "to save himself," said Mr. Hunter, "he accused me." Shortly after this trouble Mr. Hunter was elected on the Democratic ticket to Congress from the Third District, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Hon. James Humphrey. It was a Republican district and the Republican candidate was Hon. S.B. Chittenden. In 1838, Mr. Hunter was nominated for the assembly in the Fifth District, a Republican stronghold.

He claimed to have been elected, but the other man received the certificate. Mr. Hunter declined the appointment as Collector of Internal Revenue during President Johnson's Administration. He is a member of the Protestant Episcopal Church and has been a delegate to the local Diocesan Convention for many years. He has been connected with the Dime Savings Bank since 1860, and is now its treasurer. In the Fall of 1873 he was put forth by the Committee of One Hundred as their candidate for Mayor, the Democrats gave him the regular nomination of the party and he was elected by a large majority. His term of office will expire with the present year. Mr. Hunter is married and has three sons and a daughter. The term of office of Mayor is two years; the salary $10,000 per annum.


Website: The History
Article Name: Officials: Personnel of the City Government 1875 Part I
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


Brooklyn Daily Eagle 7/31/1875
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