| Pierce, Henry Lillie
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From: One of a Thousand. A Series of Biographical Sketches of One Thousand Representative Men Resident in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, A.D. 1888-89. Compiled under the editorial supervision of John C. Rand. Boston: First National Publishing Company, 1890.
Pierce, Henry Lillie, son of Jesse and Eliza S. (Lillie) Pierce, was born in Stoughton, Norfolk County, August 23, 1825. He is a descendant of the ?John Pers, weaver,? who is recorded in an ancient document in the English Exchequer, bearing date April 8, 1637, as ?desirous to pass?? with his wife and children ?to Boston, in New England, to inhabit,? and who appears to have been admitted, under the name of John Pierce, to be a ?freeman,? in Watertown, in March, 1638.
The subject of this sketch received a good English education at the public schools in Stoughton, and at the state normal school in Bridgewater. In 1849 the family removed to a house in Dorchester, near Milton Lower Mills, where Mr. Pierce has ever since resided.
In 1850 he entered the chocolate manufactory of Walter Baker & Co., which was established on the Neponset River, near his home. On the death of the owner, in 1854, he took charge of the business, and from that time to this has been the sole manager.
At an early age he began to take an interest in public affairs, and while still a school-boy, contributed articles to some of the country papers. He took an active part in the organization of the Free Soil party of 1848, and subsequently of the party which grew out of it, and which elected Lincoln in 1860. At the state election of 1859 he was chosen a member of the lower branch of the state Legislature, in which he served four years?1860, ?61, ?62 and ?66. He took the initiative in securing the repeal of the state and national legislation which prevented the enlistment of colored men into the local militia and the United States Army. In 1862 he was chairman of the committee on finance, and in that capacity reported and carried through the House two measures of great importance?the act providing for the payment of the state bonds in gold and the act taxing savings banks and insurance companies.
On the annexation of Dorchester to the city of Boston, in 1869, he was elected to represent that district in the board of aldermen. After serving two years, he declined a renomination.
In 1872 he was nominated as a non-partisan candidate for the office of mayor of Boston, and, after a sharp contest, was elected. To improve the efficiency of the government, radical changes were needed in some of the departments, and such changes he not only recommended, but proceeded resolutely to carry out. Against very strong opposition, he re-organized the health and fire departments, and freed them from the personal and partisan influences to which they had long been subject. Before his first term as mayor had expired, he received the Republican nomination for representative in Congress from the 3d Massachusetts district, and was elect by an almost unanimous vote. He served during two terms, from December, 1872, to March 4, 1877, and took a prominent part in the important legislation of that period.
In 1877 he very reluctantly became the citizens? candidate for mayor Boston, and was elected by a handsome majority. He secured a complete re-organization of the police department, and an impartial and energetic enforcement of the laws regulating the sale of intoxicating liquors. At the expiration of his term he declined a re-election, and has not since held any political office. During the last ten years his time has been absorbed largely by his manufacturing business. He has traveled quite extensively in this country and Europe, and he has taken a prominent part in many of the reform movements of the day.
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Created: November 23, 2005 Modified: November 23, 2005