City had 9 other mayors resign

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a 10th was Union POW

First mayor of Baltimore, James Calhoun, also first to resign

January 10, 2010|By Frederick N. Rasmussen fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

Mayor Sheila Dixon, who announced last week that she will resign and leave office on Feb. 4, is not the first Baltimore mayor to take that path.

Actually, nine others have decided to pull the plug on their mayoral careers and for a variety of reasons.

Oddly enough, the first mayor of Baltimore to resign was - well, its first mayor - James Calhoun. A Revolutionary War patriot, he was elected mayor Feb. 21, 1797, and served three successive terms and part of a fourth, until 1804, when he resigned.

Apparently, he quit to devote full time to private affairs.

He was 73 when he died in 1816, and was buried in Westminster Presbyterian Churchyard, Fayette and Greene streets, where poet Edgar Allan Poe quietly joined him 33 years later.

George Stiles, who was elected mayor in 1816, left office in 1819, presumably suffering from bad health. He died several months later.

Jacob Small Jr., a veteran of the War of 1812 who served under Gen. Samuel Smith, occupied City Hall from 1826 until resigning in 1831.

Considered an accomplished mayor who inaugurated garbage collection, established what became the House of Refuge in 1831, began Patterson Park and completed the Washington Monument, He also left office to pursue other business interests.

A carpenter and builder, Small designed the B & O Railroad's Ellicott City station that was completed in 1831. The structure, dedicated a National Historic Landmark in 1968, is his only extant piece of architecture.

When Small died in 1851, he received an obituary worthy of his name in The Sun, despite high praise by mayoral historians for his many accomplishments.

In what has to be a record of brevity for a public official's obit, The Sun reported: "Colonel Jacob Small, formerly one of the most efficient mayors Baltimore ever had, died at his residence in this city on Friday. His remains were yesterday attended to their narrow home by the Masonic fraternity."

Small sleeps away the ages in Plot 32 in Old St. Paul's Cemetery, not far from the humming traffic at Lombard Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

The mayoral reign of Jesse Hunt - 1832-1834 - was brought down fittingly by a banking crisis.

Sound familiar? Who said history doesn't repeat itself?

"When the Bank of Maryland went under in 1834, Hunt knew trouble was coming," said Wayne Schaumberg, who lectures on Baltimore history at area schools and colleges.

Seventeen months dragged by after the bank's collapse, and creditors who waited vainly for settlements that never arrived grew weary.

On Aug. 6, 1835, a mob gathered and smashed the windows of the Monument Square home of Reverdy Johnson, one of the bank's directors.

Hunt, who was also a director of the failed bank, was alarmed by the violence. With help from bailiffs, watchmen and several citizens, he decided to guard Johnson's home.

A mob gathered, and despite Hunt's best efforts, the crowd moved on and attacked the Charles Street home of John Glenn, another bank director. Another director's home was savaged the next night. There was no stopping the mob, and clearly Hunt had lost control of the city.

"Hunt paid for his allegiance to the bank directors by having his own home destroyed by the mob," Schaumberg said.

Hunt, it can be said, was driven from office by the rioting. He resigned five days after the crisis began, on Aug. 11, 1835.

Samuel Brady, elected in 1840, was forced from office two years later over a dispute between the mayor's office and the City Council over the city's purchase of stock in the B & O Railroad.

Solomon Hillen Jr. was elected to complete the remainder of Brady's term, and then elected to a full two-year term. He resigned, apparently because of poor health, in 1843.

George William Brown was elected on Nov. 12, 1860, and stepped into the mayor's office at a time the country was inextricably drifting toward civil war. His mayoral career would be undone by it.

It was during his administration that the Pratt Street riots occurred on April 19, 1861, when 600 soldiers of the 6th Massachusetts Regiment were attacked by a mob as they marched from President Street to Camden Station.

The militiamen opened fire on the rioting crowd, killing eight, and giving Baltimore the distinction of having the first blood of what would become the Civil War spilled in its streets.

Brown did little to disguise his Southern sympathies, and President Abraham Lincoln, fearing the loss of Baltimore and worried about the possible secession of Maryland, ordered the occupation of the city a month after the riot.

Gen. Benjamin Butler and troops of the 6th Massachusetts Regiment took command of the city from Federal Hill. Brown was arrested on Sept. 12, 1861, on military order and sent to Fort Warren, a forbidding granite fortress in the outer approaches to Boston Harbor, where his mayoral term quietly expired.

Brown, who was later elected chief judge of the Supreme Bench of Baltimore City in 1872, lived until 1890.

J. Harold Grady was elected mayor in 1959 and, three years into his term, left City Hall when he was appointed to the Supreme Bench of Baltimore.

Mayor William Donald Schaefer left the mayor's office after being elected governor in 1986.

In 2007, Martin O'Malley repeated Schaefer's move when he was elected governor.

O'Malley was succeeded by Sheila Dixon.

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