Seth Low

Seth Low, mayors of New York City

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Seth Low

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Seth Low (January 18, 1850 - September 17, 1916), born in Brooklyn, New York, was an American educator and political figure who served as the mayor of Brooklyn, as President of Columbia University, as diplomatic representative of the United States, and as Mayor of New York City.

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He resigned as president of the university to become the second mayor of the newly consolidated City of New York (1902 to 1903). During his 1901 campaign, he had the support of humorist Mark Twain. He and Twain made a joint appearance that The New York Times, on October 30, 1901, said drew a crowd of more than 2,000. "Ten minutes before the opening of the meeting the rush of those trying to crowd into the already packed hall became so threatening that a half dozen policemen at the entrance were almost carried off their feet, and were forced, by way of precaution, to close the doors," said the Times. "Within the hall every available inch of space was called into requisition. Men and boys climbed up the latticework surrounding the elevator at one side of the hall, and climbed up on window sills and wherever there was an inch to give a foothold above the heads of the rest of the men."

Even though Low's first campaign for mayor of consolidated New York in 1897 was unsuccessful-partially because of a division among anti-Tammany Hall candidates and parties-he managed to attain office four years later.

Low stands out as the first mayor of Greater New York to be elected on a fusion ticket, with the support of both the Citizens Union and Republican parties. Some of his notable achievements include the introduction of a civil service system-based upon merit-for hiring municipal employees, reducing widespread graft within the police department, improving the system of education within the city, and lowering taxes. Despite these seemingly impressive achievements he only served for one year, and was defeated in 1903 by George B. McClellan, Jr., the son of famous Civil War general-and failed Democratic candidate for president - George Brinton McClellan.

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