BALTIMORE CITY ARCHIVES
(Mayor Joshua Vansant Memoirs)
This short (51 page) autobiography offers an abbreviated, but interesting account of Joshua Vansant's life, including a history of his family and of Vansant's early life and a record of the offices he held. Written on December 25, 1880, this chronicle was meant only for Vansant's heirs, and not for publication.
Vansant was born on December 21, 1803 in Millington, Kent County, Maryland. After living in Wilmington and Philadelphia, Vansant's family moved to Baltimore in 1818. Shortly after this move, Vansant began a successful career as a hat maker. He first entered public life in 1836 when he was chosen by the Reform Party as an elector for the state senate. Between then and 1871, Vansant held many influential posts: 1839, port master; 1846, commissioner of finance; 1852, commissioner of public schools; 1853, congress of the United States; director of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad; and United States postmaster at Baltimore.
In 1871 Joshua Vansant was elected mayor of Baltimore by the Democratic Conservative Party, serving as mayor for two consecutive terms, 1871-1875. Vansant includes three letters regarding his nomination as mayor: the first is a letter from influential Baltimoreans asking Vansant to accept the nomination for a second term and his response to that letter and the suggestion he run as an independent; the third letter is to Henry Snyder in which he explains why he would not seek the nomination for a third term. It is from these letters that Vansant's political philosophy and attitude towards the office of mayor in the political environment of the period is expressed.
Even after Vansant left the office of mayor, he continued to be active in Baltimore politics. From 1876 until his death in 1884, Vansant was city comptroller.