The Century Chest Collection

Address of Mayor Whit M. Grant, 1913

(Transcribed from the original)

The City of Oklahoma City Mayor's Office
Whit M. Grant
C.J. Kendle

When Oklahoma was opened to settlement on April
22, 1889, Oklahoma City grew in a day to be a city of about
8,000, people coming from every quarter of the globe, and
there being at that time no law applicable to the Territory
a city government was organized by the common consent of
the people present, and that government continued for about
one year, when the laws of Nebraska were extended over the

In 1890 a general code of laws was adopted for
the territory, taken largely from other states. These
statutes provided for the organization of cities, towns
and villages. Oklahoma City being of the first class, led
all of the other cities in population and wealth, and has
continued to increase that lead to the present time.

As a city of the first class it was divided into
wards and governed by a major and two aldermen from each
ward; the mayor exercising superintending control over all
the officers and affairs of the city, with authority to
require all officers and employees of the city to report
to him and to dictate and direct their work; he could veto
ordinances, grant pardons, remit fines, etc.

When Oklahoma was admitted into the union of
States the people adopted a constitution which authorized
all cities of more than 2,000 population to adopt special
charters, and govern themselves by special commissioners,
commonly called Commission Form of Government. After two
efforts and failures Oklahoma City finally, on April 8,
1911, adopted a special charter, which provided for five
Commissioners, one called Commissioner of Public Affairs,
who should be Mayor, and as such have charge of the police
department, the Municipal Judge, Municipal Counselors, the
the jail, and the relation of the city to other municipal-
Commissioner of Public Property, who should have charge of
the water department, parks, boulevards, and library;
Commissioner of Public Works, who should have charge of the
street department, sewers, sidewalks, and bridges;
Commissioner of Public Safety, who should have charge of the
fire department, the public health, heating, lighting, build-
ing, etc.;
Commissioner of Accounting and Finance, who should have charge
of the finances, public records, city hall, etc.

The City of Oklahoma City Mayor's Office
Whit M. Grant
C.J. Kendle

The first election was held under this charter on
May 9, 1911, and of the five Commissioners elected, four
Democrats and one Republican, three were men who had been
endorsed by a committee of business men, who wanted, as far
as possible, to keep city affairs out of politics, but they
were all voted for on party tickets, in compliance with the
requirements of our State Constitution.

The Mayor, as such, is the executive officer of
the city, but that authority under the other provisions of
the charter is nugatory except in his own department. The
business of the city is now run as any private business is
run as near as it can be done.

Each Commissioner has charge of, and control over,
the work and employees in his department. No Commissioner
is allowed by the charter to spend any funds in excess of
the allowance for his department, and all of the Commissioners
are responsible if it is allowed.

Each Commissioner makes purchases for his own de-
partment, but they all meet each day and make their wants
known, and if any objection is voiced that is a valid one
it is respected.

All purchases, contracts or sales equal to $300.00
are made on advertisement and sealed bids, and the best bidder
gets the contract.

The Commissioners give practically all their time
to the city, and all business is attended to promptly when
it is fresh in mind and the details accessible.

Politics are not considered in the selection of
employees under the civil service. The Commissioners in
every way seek to represent the city in all its business
in the same way they would if acting for themselves.

The system is a success, and is giving general
satisfaction to all business men and people of intelligence,
who look upon municipal affairs purely as a business propo-
sition, to be managed and controlled on the same principles
as another business.

The City of Oklahoma City Mayor's Office
Whit M. Grant
C.J. Kendle

It is far superior to, and more satisfactory, than
a political organization run in the interest of the party in
power, which party is usually more concerned with positions
for partisans than the interests of the tax payers, who are
the real parties to be served.

Oklahoma City from its first settlement was the
largest city of the state. Its growth in population and
wealth has been steady, and for ten years last passed has
been phenomenal.

It is near the geographical centre of the state;
is the railroad centre. It leads all in jobbing business,
wholesale business , postoffice and railroad receipts. Is
the best equipped to handle conventions and organizations
of every class.

It has the most and best school buildings, and
best equipped and managed schools, and its high school is
the third best in the United States.

It has the most and best churches. Its citizens
are law-abiding, progressive and aggressive. In all the
walks of life it yields supremacy to none.

It is readily recognized all over the country as
the metropolis of the state, and its aspires to the dis-
tinction of extending that title to cover all the southwest,
and if her people maintain the same spirit that has actuated
them in the past, time alone is needed to hoist her flag in
victory and carry her name down in history as the most marvel-
our city in modern ages.

The prayer of every true Oklahoman is, that, in
the next one hundred years, may we be able to look down
from Heaven and say to our descendents and successors, in
whose care we must leave the destinies of of this great
city, faithfully and well have you builded upon the foun-
dation which we laid out for you.

(Signature of) Whit M. Grant

April 22, 1913

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