Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

James O. Law (1809-1847)
MSA SC 3520-12472


Source:  Wilbur F. Coyle, The Mayors of Baltimore (Reprinted from The Baltimore Municipal Journal, 1919), pp. 69-71.

James O. Law was Mayor of Baltimore from Autumn, 1843, to November 4th, 1844.  The resignation of Mayor Hillen caused a special election to be held, at which Mr. Law was chosen to serve the remaining part of the term.

During this administration the Morse telegraph between Baltimore and Washington was established and the first message, “What hath God wrought,” was received from Washington, May 27th, 1844.  There was a pronounced development in the public school system, resulting in an Eastern Female High School, at Front and Pitt (Fayette) Streets, being erected.  Arrangements were also made to rent a building on Paca Street near Fayette, for the Western Female High School and there was established, at Fayette and Holliday Streets, a male high school.  This was the forerunner of the Baltimore City College.  The lots forming Jackson Square, in East Baltimore, were deeded to the City.  The walling in of parts of Chatsworth Run, Pine near Saratoga Street; and Harford Run, (Central Avenue) from Wilk Street (Eastern Avenue) to Fleet Street was accomplished.  These runs are now covered sewers.

Ordinances authorizing the cleaning of streets by contract and for the widening of Broadway, from Pratt to Baltimore Streets, were passed.  Permission was granted by the City for persons to construct dams in Harford Run (Central Avenue) near Balti more, Pratt, Bank and Orleans Streets.  The City planned a bridge over Harford Run at Lancaster Street. Ordinances passed at this time abolished the offices of Commissioners of Health, Consulting Physician and Clerk, and transferred these duties to other departments.  Provision for numbering houses was made during this administration.

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Mayor James O. Law was born March 14th, 1809.  He was a merchant and for many years was President of the Independent Fire Company.  He was active in military affairs and at the time of his death was Major of the 53rd Regiment, Maryland Volunteers.  Mr. Law subsequently held, under the State Government, the position of Flour Inspector.  Historians assert that Major Law, while attending sick immigrants at Canton, contracted ship fever which caused his death June 6th, 1847.

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