The Mayor of Boston is the head of the municipal government in Boston, Massachusetts. Boston has a mayor-council system of government. Boston's mayoral elections are non-partisan (as are all municipal elections in Boston), and elect a mayor to a four-year term; there are no term limits. The mayor's office is in Boston City Hall, in Government Center.
Prior to 1822, there was no Mayor of Boston, because Boston was incorporated as a town. In Massachusetts, a town is typically governed by a town meeting, with a board of selectmen handling regular business. Boston was the first community in Massachusetts to receive a city charter, which was granted in 1822. Under the terms of the new charter, the mayor was elected annually. In June 1895, the charter was amended, and the mayor's term was increased to two years.
In 1909, the Republican-controlled state legislature enacted strong-mayor charter changes it hoped would dampen the rising power of Democratic Irish Americans. Adopted by public vote in the November 1909 general election, changes included extending the mayoral term to four years, and making the post formally non-partisan. The reforms did not work; the first mayor elected under the new charter was Democrat John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, and every mayor since Republican Malcolm Nichols (1926–1930) has been a Democrat.
In a bid to temper the rising power of James Michael Curley, the state legislature in 1918 passed legislation barring the Mayor of Boston from serving consecutive terms in office; Curley was prevented from running for re-election twice by this law (November 1925 and November 1933). The law was repealed in 1939, after Curley's political career appeared to be in decline.
Another charter change was enacted in 1949, partly in response to Curley's fourth term (1946–1950), during which he served prison time for crimes committed in an earlier term. Changes included adding a preliminary election to narrow the field to two mayoral candidates in advance of the general election, changing the Boston City Council from having 22 members (one from each city ward) to having nine members (elected at-large), and giving the council ability to override some mayoral vetoes. These changes went into effect in 1951, resulting in the first term of John B. Hynes being shortened to two years.
From 1951 through 1991, Boston mayoral elections were held the year before presidential elections (e.g. mayoral election in 1951, presidential election in 1952). Starting in 1993, due to the election held following Raymond Flynn's appointment as United States Ambassador to the Holy See, Boston mayoral elections are held the year following presidential elections (e.g. presidential election in 1992, mayoral election in 1993).
Use of ( ) denotes non-consecutive terms for a mayor.
|1||Phillips, JohnJohn Phillips||May 1, 1822||May 1, 1823||1||1 year||Federalist|
|2||Quincy III, JosiahJosiah Quincy III||May 1, 1823||January 5, 1829||6||5 years, 8 months||Federalist|
|3||Otis, Harrison G.Harrison G. Otis||January 5, 1829||January 2, 1832||3||3 years||Federalist|
|4||Wells, CharlesCharles Wells||January 2, 1832||January 6, 1834||2||2 years||Whig|
|5||Lyman, TheodoreTheodore Lyman||January 6, 1834||January 4, 1836||2||2 years||Democratic|
|6||Armstrong, Samuel T.Samuel T. Armstrong||January 4, 1836||January 1, 1837||1||1 year||Whig|
|7||Eliot, Samuel A.Samuel A. Eliot||January 1, 1837||January 6, 1840||3||3 years||Whig|
|8||Chapman, JonathanJonathan Chapman||January 6, 1840||January 2, 1843||3||3 years||Whig|
|9||Brimmer, MartinMartin Brimmer||January 2, 1843||January 6, 1845||2||2 years||Whig|
|—||Parker, WilliamWilliam Parker||January 6, 1845||February 27, 1845||—||2 months||Whig|
|10||Davis, Thomas A.Thomas A. Davis||February 27, 1845||November 22, 1845||1||9 months||Native American|
|—||Leavitt, BensonBenson Leavitt||November 22, 1845||December 11, 1845||—||1 month||Whig|
|11||Quincy Jr., JosiahJosiah Quincy Jr.||December 11, 1845||January 1, 1849||3||3 years, 1 month||Whig|
|12||Bigelow, John P.John P. Bigelow||January 1, 1849||January 5, 1852||3||3 years||Whig|
|13||Seaver, BenjaminBenjamin Seaver||January 5, 1852||January 2, 1854||2||2 years||Whig|
|14||Smith, Jerome V. C.Jerome V. C. Smith||January 2, 1854||January 7, 1856||2||2 years||American|
|15||Rice, Alexander H.Alexander H. Rice||January 7, 1856||January 4, 1858||2||2 years||Republican|
|16 (1)||Lincoln Jr., Frederic W.Frederic W. Lincoln Jr.||January 4, 1858||January 7, 1861||3||3 years||Republican|
|17||Wightman, JosephJoseph Wightman||January 7, 1861||January 5, 1863||2||2 years||Democratic|
|18 (2)||Lincoln Jr., Frederic W.Frederic W. Lincoln Jr.||January 5, 1863||January 7, 1867||4||4 years||Republican|
|19||Norcross, OtisOtis Norcross||January 7, 1867||January 6, 1868||1||1 year||Republican|
|20||Shurtleff, Nathaniel B.Nathaniel B. Shurtleff||January 6, 1868||January 2, 1871||3||3 years||Democratic|
|21||Gaston, WilliamWilliam Gaston||January 2, 1871||January 6, 1873||2||2 years||Democratic|
|22 (1)||Pierce, Henry L.Henry L. Pierce||January 6, 1873||November 29, 1873||1||11 months||None|
|23||Cutter, Leonard R.Leonard R. Cutter||November 29, 1873||January 5, 1874||—||1 month||Democratic|
|24||Cobb, Samuel C.Samuel C. Cobb||January 5, 1874||January 1, 1877||3||3 years||None|
|25 (1)||Prince, Frederick O.Frederick O. Prince||January 1, 1877||January 7, 1878||1||1 year||Democratic|
|26 (2)||Pierce, Henry L.Henry L. Pierce||January 7, 1878||January 6, 1879||1||1 year||Republican|
|27 (2)||Prince, Frederick O.Frederick O. Prince||January 6, 1879||January 2, 1882||3||3 years||Democratic|
|28||Green, Samuel A.Samuel A. Green||January 2, 1882||January 1, 1883||1||1 year||Republican|
|29||Palmer, AlbertAlbert Palmer||January 1, 1883||January 7, 1884||1||1 year||Democratic|
|30||Martin, Augustus P.Augustus P. Martin||January 7, 1884||January 5, 1885||1||1 year||Republican|
|31||O'Brien, HughHugh O'Brien||January 5, 1885||January 7, 1889||4||4 years||Democratic|
|32 (1)||Hart, Thomas N.Thomas N. Hart||January 7, 1889||December 31, 1890||2||2 years||Republican|
|33||Matthews Jr., NathanNathan Matthews Jr.||January 1, 1891||January 7, 1895||4||4 years||Democratic|
|34||Curtis, Edwin UptonEdwin Upton Curtis||January 7, 1895||January 6, 1896||1||1 year||Republican|
|35||Quincy, JosiahJosiah Quincy||January 6, 1896||January 1, 1900||2||4 years||Democratic|
|36 (2)||Hart, Thomas N.Thomas N. Hart||January 1, 1900||January 6, 1902||1||2 years||Republican|
|37||Collins, PatrickPatrick Collins||January 6, 1902||September 13, 1905||2||3 years, 9 months||Democratic|
|—||Whelton, Daniel A.Daniel A. Whelton||September 15, 1905||January 1, 1906||—||3 months||Democratic|
|38 (1)||Fitzgerald, John F.John F. Fitzgerald||January 1, 1906||January 6, 1908||1||2 years||Democratic|
|39||Hibbard, George A.George A. Hibbard||January 6, 1908||February 7, 1910||1||2 years||Republican|
|40 (2)||Fitzgerald, John F.John F. Fitzgerald||February 7, 1910||February 2, 1914||1||4 years||Democratic|
|41 (1)||Curley, James M.James M. Curley||February 2, 1914||February 4, 1918||1||4 years||Democratic|
|42||Peters, Andrew J.Andrew J. Peters||February 4, 1918||February 6, 1922||1||4 years||Democratic|
|43 (2)||Curley, James M.James M. Curley||February 6, 1922||January 4, 1926||1||4 years||Democratic|
|44||Nichols, MalcolmMalcolm Nichols||January 4, 1926||January 6, 1930||1||4 years||Republican|
|45 (3)||Curley, James M.James M. Curley||January 6, 1930||January 1, 1934||1||4 years||Democratic|
|46||Mansfield, FrederickFrederick Mansfield||January 1, 1934||January 3, 1938||1||4 years||Democratic|
|47||Tobin, Maurice J.Maurice J. Tobin||January 3, 1938||January 4, 1945||2||7 years||Democratic|
|—||Kerrigan, John E.John E. Kerrigan||January 4, 1945||January 7, 1946||—||1 year||Democratic|
|48 (4)||Curley, James M.James M. Curley||January 7, 1946||January 2, 1950||1||4 years||Democratic|
|49||Hynes, John B.John B. Hynes||January 2, 1950||January 4, 1960||3||10 years||Democratic|
|50||Collins, John F.John F. Collins||January 4, 1960||January 1, 1968||2||8 years||Democratic|
|51||White, KevinKevin White||January 1, 1968||January 2, 1984||4||16 years||Democratic|
|52||Flynn, RaymondRaymond Flynn||January 2, 1984||July 12, 1993||3||9 years, 6 months||Democratic|
|53||Menino, ThomasThomas Menino||July 12, 1993||January 6, 2014||5||20 years, 6 months||Democratic|
|54||Walsh, MartyMarty Walsh||January 6, 2014||Incumbent||2||4 years+||Democratic|
|M||Lincoln Jr., Frederic W.Frederic W. Lincoln Jr.||January 4, 1858||January 7, 1867||7||7 years||Republican|
|M||Pierce, Henry L.Henry L. Pierce||January 6, 1873||January 6, 1879||2||1 year, 11 months||Republican|
|M||Prince, Frederick O.Frederick O. Prince||January 1, 1877||January 2, 1882||4||4 years||Democratic|
|M||Hart, Thomas N.Thomas N. Hart||January 7, 1889||January 7, 1902||3||4 years||Republican|
|M||Fitzgerald, John F.John F. Fitzgerald||January 5, 1906||February 2, 1914||2||6 years||Democratic|
|M||Curley, James M.James M. Curley||February 2, 1914||January 2, 1950||4||16 years||Democratic|
died in office
acting mayor (only)
|1845||William Parker||Served as acting mayor during multiple deadlocked elections.|||
|1845||Benson Leavitt||Served as acting mayor following the death of Thomas A. Davis.|||
|1853||Benjamin L. Allen||Served as acting mayor during multiple deadlocked elections.|||
|1873||Leonard R. Cutter||Served as acting mayor following Henry L. Pierce's election to Congress.
Was not a candidate in the 1873 Boston mayoral election.
|1905||Daniel A. Whelton||Served as acting mayor following the death of Patrick Collins.
Was not a candidate in the 1905 Boston mayoral election.
|1945||John E. Kerrigan||Served as acting mayor upon Maurice J. Tobin becoming Governor of Massachusetts.
Subsequently lost the 1945 Boston mayoral election.
|1947||John B. Hynes||Served as acting mayor during the absence (incarceration) of James M. Curley.
Subsequently won the 1949 Boston mayoral election.
|1993||Thomas Menino||Served as acting mayor upon Raymond Flynn becoming Ambassador to the Holy See
Subsequently won the 1993 Boston mayoral election.
Only Cutter and Menino are listed by the City of Boston as having been "Acting Mayor"; others are said to have "acted as Mayor" or similar verbiage. The former are numbered in a list of Boston's mayors, the latter are not. Hynes' time acting as Mayor is not numbered; his time as elected Mayor is.
|Boston mayoral elections|
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