Biography of Edward A. Maher


THE annals of Albany furnish several striking instances of the gradual rise of young men from the humbler walks of life to places of distinction and responsibility in political affairs. And among the number of such persons whose early aspirations have been crowned with success is included the name of ex-Mayor Edward A. Maher. His career is certainly a notable one, while it is full of inspiration and encouragement to young men. He was born in the city of Albany on the 20th day of May, 1848, little over forty years ago. He was not rocked in the cradle of wealth and luxury; and yet in his young, healthful, vivacious life there seemed to exist the elements which are necessary for the proper development of a genuine self-made man.

While childhood’s days were passing over him he delighted not in the sports of reckless boys on the streets or in the fields, but was longing after something more substantial and elevating. His parents gave him all the advantages within their means of obtaining a good education. When a mere child they placed him in a public school of the city, where he was not slow in learning his lessons, or in forming the studious habits of mental discipline. As he grew older he became a pupil of the State Normal school, from which excellent institution he graduated in 1867. In the meantime his parents moved from their old residence in Canal Street down town, where young Maher grew up to manhood and formed many a lasting acquaintance among the young men of the fourth ward. When he had reached the age of twenty one he went into business for some time as a wholesale liquor merchant. But his true tastes were not yet fully gratified. Politics seems even then to have presented strong attractions for him, and being an uncompromising young democrat, highly popular in his neighborhood, he was nominated by his party and elected in 1876 as supervisor of the fourth ward – an honor worthily bestowed upon a young man of twenty-eight, who was honestly trying to make a creditable record and work his way upward and onward in the more public business of life. In the board of supervisors Mr. Maher was a leading member, and had the reputation of being “a practical common sense reformer.” Displaying business qualities of no inferior order in the discharge of his official duties, and meeting with the approbation of his fellow-citizens, his popularity was on the increase, and he was re-elected supervisor in 1877 and chosen president of the board. About this time he became a careful student of political economy in municipal affairs, and it was through him. as president of the board of supervisors that the first ” grinding committee” was formed which so largely cut down the expenses of the city. His efforts in this line were unremitting, while they were duly appreciated by the tax payers, whose interests he had all along in view. At the same time Mr. Maher favored all laudable means for improving and beautifying his native city, to which he has ever been strongly attached.

In 1878 Mr. Maher was a clerk of the Supreme Court, a position which he held until the 1st of May, 1880. He was then appointed deputy county clerk, discharging the duties of the office with marked ability until the 1st of September, 1881, when he resigned. It was not long, however, before he was looked upon by the democratic party of Albany as one of their strongest men to represent them in the legislative halls, and when the democratic assembly convention of Albany met in the fall of 1882 he was nominated for member of assembly. He was triumphantly elected by a plurality of 2,251, his opponents being Michael A. Murray (ind.) and Charles S. Many (rep.) It may be candidly asserted that Mr. Maher proved to be one of the most useful and active members the democrats ever sent to the legislature from the city of Albany.

In the fall of 1883 Mr. Maher was re-elected to the legislature. Throwing aside all partisan views we believe as time rolls on, that the legislative record of Mr. Maher will be universally regarded as one that was ” full of good work ” for the city of Albany, reflecting no little credit upon the young and rising representative, whose honest, early struggles in life were worthy of all praise. The only opposition to him was of a political nature. He is an enthusiastic, unflinching democrat, trained in a school of politics of which the late lamented Daniel Manning was an able master. He has been a democrat from first to last, and yet very kindly in his feelings and official acts toward those who differed from him politically.

On the 3d of April, 1888, Mr. Maher was unanimously nominated by the democrats as a candidate for mayor of the city of Albany, and after a brief but spirited contest he was elected by a majority of 2,753 over Dr. John Swinburne – a record of which he was justly proud. He assumed his new, untried duties with his usual characteristic business-like qualities, and with a large knowledge of what the city needs in the way of progress and improvement, heartily favoring those measures which tend to advance the best interests of the citizens and their various noble institutions. His administration was a successful one; and when on the 6th of May, 1890, he resigned the reins of government into the hands of his successor, Hon. James H. Manning; he received the general approval of his fellow-citizens, irrespective of party.

Mr. Maher has long been the manager of the Albany Electric Light and Store Service Company, where his executive abilities as a careful and thorough business man have been brought into full play.

In personal appearance Mr. Maher presents a remarkably fine physique, with a stout frame indicative of the existence of a sound and vigorous constitution. He is amiable in his disposition, true in his friendships, full of generous impulses, and displays energy, industry, ability, and integrity in all his public trusts.

He is especially popular among the young men of Albany, and by the members of his party he is looked upon as the leader of the young democracy of the city. His past record has been an honorable one, and his future is full of bright promise.



Noted living Albanians and state officials , A series of biographical sketches. 1891.

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