Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search results

Smith, Jerome Van Crowninshield, 1800-1879

 Person

Jerome Van Crowninshield Smith was Boston's fourteenth mayor. Mayor Smith was an eminent practitioner of medicine as well as an author of considerable ability. He was born July 20, 1800, at Conway, New Hampshire, where his father practiced medicine. After an A.M. degree, Smith also secured an M.D. from Williams College. He studied surgery under Dr. William Ingalls, an eminent surgeon of Boston, and as a pastime took up sculpture, executing the busts of Bishop Fitzpatrick, Hon. Marshall P. Wilder, Bishop Eastburn, and others.

He became editor of the "Boston Medical Intelligencer," later known as the "Boston Medical and Surgical Journal," editing more than forty volumes thereof, and also made authoritative notes to an edition of Cooper's "Surgery." He edited the "Boston Weekly News Letter," and was the author of a treatise on the culture of the honeybee and a history of the American Indian.

His first public office was in 1826, when he became port physician. In 1837 he was elected to the State Legislature, and put through a capitalization tax on foreigners arriving in any port in Massachusetts, with the money being used for the care of poor and sick immigrants. The law was eventually declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States. Dr. Smith was also a member of the School Committee and a justice of the peace. In 1848 he was reelected to the Legislature, became a candidate for mayor in 1852, and was finally elected in 1854. While in office he advocated the introduction of pure water at city expense. Dr. Smith made many suggestions for the improvement of the city's government, though, fortunately for the city's credit, few of them were carried out. He recommended the sale of Quincy Market to private individuals; the erection of an insane asylum on Deer Island; the erection of a tall tower on Beacon Hill for the use of the Fire Telegraph and Fire Department offices; and a forced sale of city land to promote the erection of buildings. He also advocated the appointment of a physician in each ward to serve the poor and to be paid by the city. His administration was not marked by any great achievement. His death occurred August 21, 1879.

Taken from "Boston's 45 Mayors from John Phillips to Kevin H. White," City Record, Boston, 1979.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

Mayor Jerome V. C. Smith, 1854-1855, 1905 November 18

 Item
Identifier: 5210004_015_014
Scope and Contents From the Collection: Photographs and other images collected by the Boston Landmarks Commission for reference use and for publications as well as photographs taken by the Landmarks Commission documenting their work and city neighborhoods.
Dates: 1905 November 18

Mayoral addresses

 Series
Identifier: 0200.001
Scope and Contents Includes two compilation volumes of addresses from 1822-1867 and printed copies of annual and inaugural addresses of the Mayor from 1824-1980 with gaps.
Dates: 1822-1980 with gaps