(Mar. 14, 1796-Nov. 8, 1856). West was the first of three mayors to die in office. Though his term was very brief, he is noteworthy in the history of Indianapolis and Indiana for his work in educational reform.

Born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, West moved to Indianapolis in 1845. He immediately became a spokesman for improving Indiana’s schools and traveled the state documenting the conditions that existed. In his publication Common School Advocate (Oct. 1846-Sept. 1847), he advocated for free schools. West and his brother George established the publishing firm H. F. West & Company, which eventually merged with the Bowen-Merrill Company.

On May 6, 1856, West defeated Republican Sims Colley for mayor, 1,515 votes to 1,183, with his party winning 10 of 14 council seats. When West died in November, Charles G. Coulon, a lawyer and justice of the peace, was appointed interim mayor by the City Council until a special election could be held.

Revised July 2021

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