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Nathaniel Prentice Banks is Born

Today in Masonic History Nathaniel Prentice Banks is born 1816.

Nathaniel Prentice Banks was an American politician and soldier.

Banks was born in Waltham, Massachusetts. He would attend local school until the age of 14. Leaving school would not be the end of Banks education. Some days he would walk to the public library in Boston so further his education.

Banks would then get a job at the mill where his father worked. There he would gain the nickname Bobbin Boy Banks, a nickname that would stick with him all of his life. At the mill, Banks would start a debate society so that he and other workers could work on their oration skills.

Banks work with the debate society got him the attention of the Democratic party, who were impressed with his speaking skills. In 1844 he would run as a Democrat for the state legislature, he would lose the election. In 1847 he would run, unsuccessfully, again for the state legislature.

In 1848 Banks made a successful run for the State Legislature. At first Banks was moderate on the expansion of Slavery. After seeing the power that the abolitionist movement was wielding, he attached himself to the movement. He also become part of the Free Soil Party, a third party at the time whose sole issue was abolition of slavery. In 1850, Banks would become Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

In 1852, Banks was elected to Congress. He did this without Democratic support when he refused to disavow his abolitionist position. In Congress he broke from the party to vote against Kansas-Nebraska Act which allowed white settlers in those areas to control whether slavery would be allowed in those regions.

At the open of Thirty-Fourth congress, Banks was elected as Speaker of the House. This was after one of the most bitter political battles for position. It lasted from November of 1855 to February of 1856. The coalition that elected him was made up of the anti-slavery members of the House.

In 1857, Banks now a Republican, ran for and was elected Governor of Massachusetts.

As the Civil War approached, Abraham Lincoln considered Banks for a cabinet position. Instead Banks was appointed as one of the first major-generals of volunteers. Although he was at first resented by many West Point graduates who served under him, they eventually began to respect him.

After the war, Banks would be elected to Congress to several spans over the next few decades. He would serve in Congress from 1865 to 1873. He would be reelected to congress in 1875 and would serve to 1879.

After Banks was defeated in 1878, President Rutherford B. Hayes would appoint Banks as United States marshal. He would serve until 1888 when he would be elected to Congress for one more term. Failing mental health led to him only having one final term.

Banks would pass away in 1894. His death would make national headlines.

Banks was a member of Monitor Lodge in Waltham, Massachusetts.