Smith Ely Jr.

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Smith Ely Jr.
Smith Ely Jr. - Brady-Handy.jpg
82nd Mayor of New York City
In office
Preceded byWilliam H. Wickham
Succeeded byEdward Cooper
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 7th district
In office
March 4, 1875 – December 11, 1876
Preceded byThomas J. Creamer
Succeeded byDavid Dudley Field II
In office
March 4, 1871 – March 3, 1873
Preceded byHervey C. Calkin
Succeeded byThomas J. Creamer
Member of the New York State Senate
In office
Preceded byMark Spencer
Succeeded byBernard Kelly
Personal details
BornApril 17, 1825
Hanover Township, New Jersey
DiedJuly 1, 1911 (aged 86)
Livingston, Essex County, New Jersey
Political partyDemocratic

Smith Ely Jr. (April 17, 1825 – July 1, 1911) was the 82nd Mayor of New York City and member of the United States House of Representatives from New York.

Early life[edit]

He was born in Hanover Township, New Jersey, on April 17, 1825. His father, Smith Ely Sr., was a leather merchant who had been a soldier in the War of 1812 and his paternal grandfather was Moses Ely, who fought under George Washington in the American Revolutionary War.[1] His maternal grandfather was Ambrose Kitchell.[2] His siblings lived together in their adulthood, including elder brother, Ambrose Kitchell Ely (1823–1907),[3] William Henry Ely (1829–1913) and his wife, Maria Josephine Rogers (d. 1924), Edwin Augustus Ely (1836–1927),[4][5] and Maria Louise Ely (1844–1922), who married George Burritt Vanderpoel (d. 1925).[6][1]

He completed preparatory studies and was graduated from the University of the City of New York (now New York University) and, in 1845, from New York University School of Law.[7]


He studied in the law office of Frederic de Peyster,[2] and was admitted to the bar in 1845, but never practiced law. Instead, he engaged in mercantile pursuits in New York with Ely, Vanderpoel & Kitchell which was founded in 1868.[1] Like his father, he was a leather merchant in the Swamp district until the Leather Trust bought him out and he retired to his farm in New Jersey.[2]

Public service[edit]

He was active in various public offices including, School Commissioner for the 17th Ward from 1856 until 1860; a New York State Senator from 1858 and 1859; the New York County Supervisor from 1860–1870; and the Commissioner of Public Instruction in 1867.

From March 4, 1871, until March 3, 1873, he served as a Democratic Representative to the Forty-second Congress. He was not a candidate for renomination in 1872, however he was again elected as a Representative to the Forty-fourth Congress serving from March 4, 1875, until the date of his resignation on December 11, 1876. While in Congress, he served as chairman of Committee on Expenditures in the Department of the Treasury. While in office, he gave a speech on July 29, 1876, regarding the method of manufacturing the circulating notes and securities of the Government.[8]

Following his resignation from Congress, Ely served as the Mayor of New York City from 1877 to 1878,[9] beating former New York Governor Gen. John Adams Dix by 55,000 votes.[2] In 1895, he was appointed commissioner of parks and served until 1897, when he retired from public life.

Personal life[edit]

Ely, who never married, died on July 1, 1911, in Livingston, Essex County, New Jersey. He was interred in a private cemetery on his farm.[2] His estate, valued in excess of $1,000,000, was almost entirely left to charity, including $50,000 to a fund for juveniles to "help offending youths get a better start in the world," $100,000 to the American Sunday School, $100,000 to United Charities, as well as funds to Orange and Morristown Memorial Hospitals.[10] His bequests were in addition to the millions he gave away to charities during his lifetime.[10] His siblings also gave generously to charity upon their deaths.[11]


Ely Avenue in the Bronx is named in honor of Ely.[12]


  1. ^ a b c "488 GREENWICH STREET HOUSE, Manhattan" (PDF). Landmarks Preservation Commission. July 24, 2007. Retrieved December 19, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e "SMITH ELY, EX-MAYOR, DIES, 86 YEARS OLD; As Democratic Head of City Government, He Fought John Kelly and Tammany. ENEMY OF OLD BOSS TWEED Refused Political Bait Rather Than Favor Jake Sharp's Broadway Railway Job--Reduced Taxation and Debt". The New York Times. July 2, 1911. Retrieved December 19, 2017.
  3. ^ "DIED. Ely". The New York Times. February 8, 1907. Retrieved December 19, 2017.
  4. ^ "DIED. Ely". The New York Times. June 21, 1927. Retrieved December 19, 2017.
  5. ^ "BROTHER OF EX-MAYOR IS 90; Edwin Ely Celebrates at Hewlett, L.I., With His Neighbors". The New York Times. June 16, 1926. Retrieved December 19, 2017.
  6. ^ "DIED. Vanderpoel". The New York Times. October 17, 1925. Retrieved December 19, 2017.
  7. ^ Smith Ely, Jr., Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Accessed February 23, 2011.
  8. ^ Ely, Smith (1876). Speech of Hon. Smith Ely, Jr. in the House of Representatives, July 29, 1876 [microform]. [S.l : s.n.] Retrieved December 19, 2017.
  9. ^ "The Great Misrepresented". The New York Times. November 3, 1876. Retrieved December 19, 2017.
  10. ^ a b "ELY'S MONEY TO CHARITY.; Former Mayor Leaves $1,000,000 to Many Institutions -- Fund to Aid Boys". The New York Times. July 9, 1911. Retrieved December 19, 2017.
  11. ^ "EDWIN ELY ESTATE PUT AT $2,982,963; New Jersey Man's Niece Gets Life Interest in $2,532,445-- Bequests to Charities. STATE SOCIETY GETS BOOKS Debts Cut A.H. Wolff Property to $307,650--W.M. Barnum Left $745,933". The New York Times. April 1, 1928. Retrieved December 19, 2017.
  12. ^ "Bronx Street Names: Ely Avenue - The Bronx Chronicle". The Bronx Chronicle. August 20, 2014. Retrieved December 19, 2017.

External links[edit]

New York State Senate
Preceded by
Mark Spencer
New York State Senate
5th District

Succeeded by
Bernard Kelly
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Hervey C. Calkin
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 7th congressional district

Succeeded by
Thomas J. Creamer
Preceded by
Thomas J. Creamer
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 7th congressional district

Succeeded by
David Dudley Field II
Political offices
Preceded by
William H. Wickham
Mayor of New York City
Succeeded by
Edward Cooper