Education common schools.
He left the distillery after his brother"s death and started a produce business, which he relocated to New York City in 1866. His venture proved successful during the American Civil War, making Edson wealthy and enabling him to engage in civic, religious and charitable causes. An anti-Tammany Democrat, in 1882 he was nominated for Mayor through the efforts of Tammany Hall boss John Murphy to avoid a Democratic Party split between organization loyalists and reformers.
Upon taking office in 1883, he angered reformers by appointing Tammany men to key jobs, but he soon embraced civil service reform and other honest government measures.
During his term the Brooklyn Bridge was dedicated, the Manhattan Municipal Building was constructed, and work was completed on the city"s new water supply, the Croton Aqueduct. He appointed the commission responsible for the selection and location of public lands for parks in the Bronx, which came to include Van Cortlandt, Bronx, Pelham Bay, Crotona, Claremont and Saint Mary"s Parks, and the Mosholu, Bronx River, Pelham, and Crotona Parkways.
After Edson split with Tammany the 1884 Democratic nomination for Mayor went William Russell Grace, who had also preceded Edson as Mayor, and Edson retired from politics at the completion of his term in 1885. He then returned to his business interests and continued his philanthropic activities.
Edson Avenue in the Bronx is named for him.
He died at his home in Manhattan, and was buried in the Albany Rural Cemetery, Menands, New New York
He was an active Episcopalian and a member of Saint James Church Fordham, in the Bronx) In 1873 he became one of the city"s most important business leaders when he was appointed President of the New York Produce Exchange.
Married Fanny Cameron Wood, 1856, g.d.