Name: Camden, Peter G.
Category: Politics and Government (Number 9)
Term as Mayor: 1846-1847
Born/Started: May. 23, 1801
Died/Ended: Jul. 23, 1873
Description: Peter Camden was the ninth mayor of St. Louis, serving in that position from 1846 to 1847. His administration was highlighted by efforts to control the flow of the Mississippi past the St. Louis harbor, the expansion of the gas street lamp system in the City, and the establishment of a formal police department.
Born in Virginia, Mayor Camden first came to Missouri following the completion of his legal education in 1827, finally setting down roots here in 1837. He established a dry goods business with two brothers-in-law and later became a commission merchant. In 1846 he was elected mayor as a member of the old American Party. During his administration the City issued bonds for $25,000 to purchase stones and raise the eastern bank of the Mississippi River, which had threatened to cut a new channel and bypass St. Louis altogether. The harbor on the St. Louis side of the river was also improved.
Before Mayor Camden’s time, there had been night watchmen and some daytime patrol duty, but no regular police department in the City. In 1846, the City approved an ordinance making the police system a regular department of the municipal government. The department included the duties of the city marshal, city guard, day police and the keeper of the calaboose. These four divisions reported directly to the mayor. The duties of the marshal and police were made separate. The marshal enforced ordinances and served processes of the court, as well as the orders of the Health Department. The police were peace officers charged with arresting violators of state laws and city ordinances. Aseparate group, the Independent Police, was organized for detective work under James McDonough. He later became chief of police when the police department was placed under state control during the Civil War.
Mayor Camden was one of the first directors of the Marine Insurance Company. He died at Jennings, MO on July 23, 1873. Interment was at Bellefontaine Cemetery.
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