Thomas S. McMurry

Last updated
Thomas S. McMurry
Thomas S McMurry.jpg
23rd Mayor of Denver
In office
Preceded by M. D. Van Horn
Succeeded by Henry V. Johnson
Personal details
Born 1855
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died 1918 (aged 6263)
Denver, Colorado

Thomas S. McMurry (1855–1918) was an American politician who served as the mayor of Denver, Colorado from 1895 to 1899. [1] A lawyer by trade, McMurry came to Denver in 1885. [2]

Denver State capital and consolidated city-county in Colorado

Denver, officially the City and County of Denver, is the capital and most populous municipality of the U.S. state of Colorado. Denver is located in the South Platte River Valley on the western edge of the High Plains just east of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. The Denver downtown district is immediately east of the confluence of Cherry Creek with the South Platte River, approximately 12 mi (19 km) east of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Denver is named after James W. Denver, a governor of the Kansas Territory, and it is nicknamed the Mile High City because its official elevation is exactly one mile above sea level. The 105th meridian west of Greenwich, the longitudinal reference for the Mountain Time Zone, passes directly through Denver Union Station.

Colorado State of the United States of America

Colorado is a state of the Western United States, and more specifically of the Southwestern United States, encompassing most of the southern Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains. It is the 8th most extensive and 21st most populous U.S. state. The estimated population of Colorado was 5,695,564 on July 1, 2018, an increase of 13.25% since the 2010 United States Census.

Mayor of Denver

In 1893 Denver received a new municipal charter by the state legislature that decentralized much of the mayor's powers into six different administrative departments, two of which were elected, two appointed by the mayor, and the remaining two appointed by the governor. Clyde Lyndon King, in his doctoral thesis writes "The plan gave the maximum of opportunity for [political] party groups and corporate control." The municipal board members appointed by the governor had complete financial control over the police, fire, and excise departments. Over half the expenditures of the city went through this board which gave the governor and his party much direct control over Denver. That the governor, elected by the entire state, had so much power over the workings of Denver was not lost on the citizens of the city. [3]

A city charter or town charter is a legal document (charter) establishing a municipality such as a city or town. The concept developed in Europe during the Middle Ages.

Excise tax that taxes the consumption of certain goods

An excise or excise tax is any duty on manufactured goods which is levied at the moment of manufacture, rather than at sale. Excises are often associated with customs duties ; customs are levied on goods which come into existence – as taxable items – at the border, while excise is levied on goods which came into existence inland.

One of the other key issues leading up to the Denver mayoral election of 1895 was Denver Tramway's monopoly over the public transportation in the city. In 1885 Denver Tramway had revised its charter so that it was no longer required to add extensions or provide better service, but while there was competition it still did so. In 1893 it merged with the only other public transportation firm in the city and came into a monopoly. Resentment began to grow as the city took actions which favorably impacted Denver Tramway but received no financial compensation in return. [3]

Denver Tramway

The Denver Tramway, operating in Denver, Colorado, was a streetcar system incorporated in 1886. The tramway was unusual for a number of reasons: the term "tramway" is generally not used in the United States, and it is not known why the company was named as such. The track was 3 ft 6 in narrow gauge, an unusual gauge in the United States, but in general use by railways in Japan, southern Africa, New Zealand, and Queensland, Australia.

Charter grant of authority or rights

A charter is the grant of authority or rights, stating that the granter formally recognizes the prerogative of the recipient to exercise the rights specified. It is implicit that the granter retains superiority, and that the recipient admits a limited status within the relationship, and it is within that sense that charters were historically granted, and that sense is retained in modern usage of the term.

Mergers and acquisitions transactions in which the ownership of companies, other business organizations or their operating units are transferred or combined

Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are transactions in which the ownership of companies, other business organizations, or their operating units are transferred or consolidated with other entities. As an aspect of strategic management, M&A can allow enterprises to grow or downsize, and change the nature of their business or competitive position.

In 1895, Thomas McMurry ran for mayor of Denver on a political platform of "divorcing the city's government from the city's public-service corporations." Previous to this election, Denver had always voted for straight Democrat or Republican tickets. McMurry was the first non-partisan mayor elected in Denver's history. Denver Tramway offered the city a token sum of $50,000 but McMurry vetoed this offering, wanting instead a small percentage of the company's yearly profits. [3]

Another issue in the 1895 election involved the water utilities. Leading up to the election some of the local water utilities had gone bankrupt and a new public-service corporation was created, the Denver Union Water Company, which acquired the previous nine independent utilities. In the election the citizens of Denver were asked whether they wanted to stay with this new corporation or build a new municipal water utility. Denver Union Water promised to abide by all previous charters and a new city council was elected that was evenly divided between the two options. However, after the election Denver Union Water said that conflicting clauses in the different charters made it impractical to implement its previous rates and offered a solution that it said would ultimately reduce rates. A court injunction demanded that the water company fix its rates as laid out in its contract, but the company continued to use its own solution. [3]

A city council, town council, town board, or board of aldermen is the legislative body that governs a city, town, municipality, or local government area.

The issue of water bill rates was the single largest concern in the election of 1897. Many water users refused to pay their water bills and McMurry was re-elected "with the help of the Civic Federation and the vote of the women." [3] More court injunctions were issued, ordinances were passed, and fines were assessed but Denver Union Water ignored all of them. In a case brought by McMurry before the District Court of Arapahoe County, the court sided with the water company and found that conflicting clauses were impractical to implement and allowed the water company to increase its rates. McMurry continued to pressure the company to lower its rates, but had no power to force it to do so. [3]

Arapahoe County, Colorado County in the United States

Arapahoe County is one of the 64 counties in the U.S. state of Colorado. As of the 2010 census, the population was 572,003, making it the third-most populous county in Colorado. The county seat is Littleton, and the most populous city is Aurora. The county was named for the Arapaho Native American tribe who once lived in the region.

In 1899 the public corporations were determined to defeat McMurry and campaigned against him. King notes, "In the [1899 mayoral] campaign certain members of the Democratic party, motivated and financed by the city's public service corporations, organized the 'big mitt,' the famous ballot-box stuffing brigade. By many it is charged and believed that McMurray's defeat was due solely to ballot-box stuffing." McMurry lost the election and his successor, Henry V. Johnson, who had agreed on the campaign trail about divorcing the city's government and corporations, accepted Denver Tramway's revised one-time payment of $72,000. With McMurry's defeat the public-service corporations did not see a significant challenge to their power for another decade. [3]

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  1. "History of the Office of the Mayor". City and County of Denver. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  2. Sherlock, Tom (2013). Colorado's Healthcare Heritage. iUniverse. p. 409. ISBN   9781475980264.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 King, Clyde Lyndon (1911). The History of the Government of Denver: With Special Reference to Its Relations with Public Service Corporations. Denver, Colorado: The Fisher Book Company.