Did you know that Manchester was an independent city until it was annexed by the City of Richmond in 1910? If so, did you ever wonder why Manchester agreed to consolidate? As you could probably guess, it all came down to money.
There were two arguments on the matter, and public relations efforts went into high gear on both sides. Those who wanted to consolidate saw a benefit in streamlining duplicate services, better bridge and rail connections, and increased commerce. Those who opposed annexation feared higher taxes, inferior services, and a more complex area for the City of Richmond to administer.
From the Valentine’s history piece on the matter entitled Manchester: From Sister City to South Richmond:
“Those Richmonders in favor of consolidation sought to benefit from Manchester’s industrial resources; to streamline manufacturing; to control over bridges; and to increase the city’s white population, which was stagnant and increasingly African American. Richmonders opposed to the merger forsaw increased expenses from administering another large district.
In Manchester, citizens on both sides of the issue voiced strong sentiments. Pro-annexationists held a rally at the Leader Building on the evening of April 14, looking forward to expanded services and infrastructure. The Manchester Anti-Consolidation League, which held a concurrent rally across the street, warned that Manchester would not only lose its independence, but would have increased taxes while receiving inferior services.”
Ultimately the City of Richmond agreed to annexation, but Manchester voters had to approve the consolidation. The annexation contingent ultimately prevailed. According to the Valentine:
“At 10:20 A.M. on April 15, 1910, Judge Frank L. Christian of Lynchburg declared the election by Manchester voters in favor of consolidation with the City of Richmond.
Manchester city employees then paraded to the Treasurer’s office to receive their final paychecks. Another parade, consisting of five automobiles carrying Manchester officials, crossed the James River Free (9th Street) Bridge and proceeded to Richmond City Hall.”
I wonder if that same debate and resulting vote was held today would annexation prevail just like it did in 1910? Or would the independent contingent win the argument this time around? Regardless, it would certainly be an interesting debate to watch unfold.
Photo Credits: The Valentine & Richmond Times-Dispatch