January 23, 2010

Thomas Norton Hart, Mayor of Boston

Thomas Norton Hart (1829-1927) was born in North Reading, Massachusetts. He married Elizabeth Snow, and they lived at 298 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston's Back Bay.
It was said by E.W. Emst that "Thomas N. Hart comes of sturdy New England stock, his ancestors residing in Lynnfield, Massachusetts, including the first ancestor, Isaac Hart, who settled there in 1656. His mother's father, Major John Norton of Royalston, fought in the Revolution of 1776. He was graduated from Bowdoin College, and came to Boston in 1842 and was employed by Wheelock Pratt and Co. dry goods dealers, and two years later by Philip A. Lock Company, hat dealers.
Hart was a noted businessman and in 1880 he became President of the Mount Vernon National Bank. An active Republican, Hart was a member of Boston's Common Council from 1879 to 1881, and the Board of Aldermen from 1882 to 1886. From 1891 to 1895 he served as Boston's Postmaster General. Hart was elected mayor of Boston from 1889 to 1890 and 1900 to 1902. Hart founded Hart, Taylor & Company which was one of the largest cap and hat manufacturers in New England. A publically minded man, he served as a Boston alderman, member of the Common Council and as mayor. It was said that “while mayor, he attended strictly to his duty, seeing that the streets were swept, the city finances were put into systematic shape.”
In his inaugural of 1901, Mayor Hart discussed the confusing mixture of city, state and county government imposed on Boston, observing that this scattering of power 'would never have taken place had City Hall proved equal to all demands.' According to his view, home rule for Boston could probably be realized when 'playing games' ceased and municipal conditions became such as to deserve it.
"He was well-liked by all parties during his term; was courteous, genial and efficient in all the relations of life, with clear and quick perceptions, and is capable of any office in the United States."

The Hart Family monument is on Blue Hill Avenue at Forest Hills Cemetery.

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