In 1875 James H. Britton became the twenty-seventh Mayor of St. Louis.
Following Mayor Barret's death, it was necessary to hold a special election to select a new Mayor. Mr. Britton was nominated by the Democrats on May 10, 1875. He was declared elected Mayor by the election judges on May 15.
Britton served as Mayor until February of 1876 when he was unseated as the result of a contested election. Two days after the special election of May 15, 1875, Mr. Henry Overstolz gave notice of his intention to contest Mayor Britton's election. The Council secured possession of the ballots and called witnesses before that body during January of 1876. After the recount of the ballots, Mr. Overstolz was declared to have 14,725 votes and Mayor Britton 14,648. Mr. Overstolz was seated as Mayor on February 9, 1876, after Mayor Britton had served almost nine months of the two-year term.
During Mayor Britton's short term, several Special Sewer Districts were created and the Fire Department's inspection of buildings were spelled out in more detail. Applications for building permits, filed with the Chief Engineer, were to state complete specifications and inspections were to take place during construction to see that Building Ordinances were complied with.