Excerpts from KNOW YOUR OWN TOWN,1943, published by the Stamford League of Women Voters
"It must never be forgotten that in a Democracy the beginnings of all good government are to be found in local self-government."
Nicholas Murray Butler
President, Columbia University
"A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but the prologue to a farce or a tragedy or both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."
I. Development of Town and City Government
The community of Stamford, Connecticut, operates under two forms of local government: the Town, which has no charter, but is under the general Statutes of Connecticut, and the City charter.
The Town has existed since the first settlers came to Stamford from Wethersfield in 1641. The thirty townsfolk held their first Town Meeting that year, and elected their Selectman to "order the common affairs of the people." There have been only two important modifications of this Town-meeting-Selectmen gown government in the 300 years since then. In 1872 a Board of Education was created to manage the schools, and in 1919 a Board of Finance was set up under the General Statutes to review and make recommendations to the Town Meeting on all fiscal matters.
The City developed within the Town to answer a need for special municipal services in the thickly-settled portions of the Town. In 1830, when the total population of the town was 3700, there were 92 families living in the southern part, who wanted services and regulations not needed in the farm-lands to the North. They, therefore, obtained from the State Legislature a charter which set up a Borough in their part of the town. The limits of the Borough were defined. These limits were extended at intervals as the population increased, until in 1893 the Borough was exchanged for a City Charter. This City Charter was replaced by the present Strong-Mayor Charter in 1935 after a referendum.
The 1940 census showed the population of Stamford to be 61,215, of whom 47,938 live within the City. Since over three-quarters of Stamford's population are governed by and must support both Town and City Governments, this information is so arranged that these citizens can see both of their local governments as a whole.