New Orleans Public Library
|Administrations of the Mayors of New Orleans|
Edward Heath (1819-1892)
Mayor Edward Heath was born in Lisbon, Maine, in the year 1819. He attended the county schools and high school, preparing himself for the teaching profession and eventually became a teacher. In 1842 he came to New Orleans. His brother-in-law Seth W. Nye, was a surveyor of the port and Mr. Heath was employed in the custom house by Collector Denis Prieur. He later became a prominent merchant and eventually his firm which specialized in House Furnishings became known as Heath, Schwartz & Co., Ltd.|
On March 28th, 1867 he was appointed Mayor by General Phil. Sheridan after the removal of John T. Monroe on account of the riots of July 30th, 1866.
He had hardly taken his seat when he became involved in a serious controversy with the City Council over the question of the city finances. Heath asked the Council to order an investigation due to considerable complication of affairs confronting him. The matter was referred to the city attorney, who declined to issue an injunction to stop the issue of city money. The controversy was carried out in an exchange of mutual accusations.
Being identified with the extreme wing of the radical party, he undertook to introduce negro children in the schools for white children. This caused intense excitement and the City Council to pass an ordinance appropriating a large sum of money for separate schools.
The following is a condensed excerpt from the New Orleans Republican of June 11th, 1868:
“Yesterday at 12 o’clock, Mr. J. R. Conway presented himself at the office of Mayor Heath and handed him a printed copy of General Buchanan’s order giving the names of newly elected municipal officers, announcing at the same time his election as chief magistrate of the city. Mr. Heath replied that he knew of no law authorizing said election and refused to acknowledge General Buchanan’s authority to issue said order. He declined to give up the office and Mr. Conway then proceeded to military headquarters. An hour later an orderly arrived at the Mayor’s office with a communication from General Buchanan addressed to Mayor Heath requesting him to call at military headquarters, the communication was signed by John R. Johnson, acting assistant secretary of civil affairs. To this Mayor Heath replied that he was duly appointed by military authority and that his appointment was confirmed by Congress. That he knew of no election by which Mr. Conway was elected Mayor and could not recognize General Buchanan’s authority directing Mr. Conway to assume the duties of the office of mayor.
Captain DeRussey who had in the meantime arrived on the scene suggested that Mayor Heath should leave quietly, but Heath replied that he would not vacate his post voluntarily, in fact he would not vacate at all unless compelled to by superior force. Captain DeRussey then arrested the Mayor and demanded the keys of the office which Heath refused to do unless furnished with a written order. When this written order was produced, Heath turned over the keys and Conway seated himself in the Mayor’s chair. Heath was then escorted by the police down the broad granite steps of the city hall and the waiting crowd burst into a shrill exultant rebel yell.”
Mr. Heath was a member of the Board of Health during Dr. White’s administration. He also was a member of the board of administrators of the Straight University and stood prominent in Masonic Orders. He was a member for many years of the Orient Lodge and also a Royal Arch Mason as well as a Knight Templar. The Unitarian Church counted him as an active member.
He married his cousin, Miss Heath at Bath, Maine, in 1855, of this union a daughter, Manie A. Heath, was born, who became the wife of Clarence E. Clinton. She died April 23, 1889 and was buried in Brunswick, Maine.
Mayor Heath died in Malden, Massachusetts, January 13th, 1892, at the age of 73.
|Members of the Heath Administration|
March 28, 1867-June 10, 1868
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