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Those left on the home front could do little but swallow their anxiety and force themselves back into the routine of daily life. Local government responded in great part to the needs of the moment. The charter was amendedState Street, ca. 1877 in 1861 to extend the limits of the city, and in 1867 an entirely new charter was adopted, dividing the city into six wards. The work of the council was prosaic: approving the extension of wooden plank walks into new areas of the city; authorizing the construction of wooden crosswalks to bridge the streets of Ann Arbor which in inclement weather became a "sea of mud"; or prohibiting the slaughter of animals within the city limits. Pupils and teachers of the fifth ward school house were reportedly "overpowered by the stench."

Council's actions reflected the city's concern for the moral welfare of both its own citizens and the student population of the University. In 1871, it moved to close the city's gambling halls; while in 1879, it passed an ordinance prohibiting the sale, circulation, and printing of "obscene, immoral, indecent and scandalous books, papers or prints." The same year, following a riot of 700 students outside a "house of ill fame," council received a petition from local townspeople urging the suppression of similar establishments. "Houses of prostitution," the newspaper warned, "are a great source of evil, not only to the youth of our own city but to the large number of young men who are yearly entrusted to our care."

Ann Arbor was ill-equipped in these years to handle problems of municipal law enforcement. In 1860 it had a population of 4,447 residents, or over 5,000 if University enrollment is included. The city continued to grow even during the Civil War. It reached a level of 5,731 in 1864 and advanced to a height of 7,363 in 1870. The city marshall and his deputies could handle minor disturbances and instances of inebriation, but in the later part of the 1860's the city required more. In1867 the Peninsular Courier and Family Visitant pointed out the need for an "efficient night police." After due deliberation, council in 1871 voted to establish a six-member police force. The city at long last had around-the-clock protection.

Charles Binder's saloonThe need for a police force was tied to the city's rapid commercial growth. In 1860, Ann Arbor had five hotels, including Cook's, the American, and the Washtenaw House. By 1872 the city had a total of eight hotel establishments, including the Gregory House which had been erected in 1862 on the site of the American. In 1860 Ann Arbor had one retail druggist, C. (Christian) Eberbach & Co. Twelve years later, five additional druggists had established businesses. Five billiard halls existed in 1872, while in 1860 there had been only Daniel Perry's Billiard Saloon. And, most significant of all, Ann Arbor had forty-nine saloons in 1872, while in 1860 there were but ten.