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Frank Swett Black is Born

Today in Masonic History Frank Swett Black is born in 1853.

Frank Swett Black was an American news paper editor, lawyer and politician.

Black was born near Limington, Maine one of 11 children. At the age of 17, after graduating from Lebanon Academy, he became a school teacher. He would earn enough money to go to Dartmouth College, graduating in 1875.

After graduation Black moved to Johnstown, New York. There he would begin working for Johnstown Journal as journalist and eventually an editor. Black was a follower of James G. Blaine who was a reformist in the Republican party. Blaine was the leader of a faction called the "Half-breeds", so named by the other major faction in the Republican party at the time. The other faction felt that the "Half-breeds" were only half Republican. While the owner of the Johnstown Journal was out of town, Black turned the paper from a Democrat leaning paper to a Republican leaning paper. When the owner returned to town, Black was promptly dismissed.

Black went to Troy, New York next. He would get a job at the Troy Whig and then the Troy Times, two local newspapers. While working for those newspapers, Black was studying law and would eventually be admitted to the bar. He also became involved with local politics. In the Rensselaer County, politics had been dominated by the Democrats. Black formed an alliance with independent voters and essentially got himself named the head of the Republican party for the county.

In 1895, Black would begin serving in the United States House of Representatives. He would resign in 1897 after being elected as the Governor of New York.

Black's term as Governor had it's controversies from the start. After being elected he appointed Louis F. Payn, the man who nominated him as the Republican candidate for Governor. This appointment angered many throughout the state, including those of his own party. Many pleaded with Black to reconsider, he refused.

Black also came up against Thomas C. Platt who was the Republican boss of New York State. Platt had worked out a deal to get a bill passed that would prevent newspapers from printing political cartoons about the state. Black was very opposed to the bill and it was defeated. This created a rift between Platt and Black.

Platt, at the 1898 convention, would nominate Theodore Roosevelt as the Republican nominee for governor and Black would be defeated at the convention. This created a rift between Roosevelt and Black. Despite the rift, Black was asked and eventually convinced to give the nominating speech for Roosevelt at the 1904 Republican National Convention where Roosevelt became the Republican nominee for President. After Roosevelt was elected president, Black became his strongest critic and would give speeches against Roosevelt until 1907 when Black slowly began to fade from public life.

After politics, Black concentrated on his law practice in Troy, New York. He would announce in 1912 that he would retire from practicing law.

Black passed away March 22, 1913 from heart disease.

Black was a member of King Solomon's Primitive Lodge No. 91 in Troy, New York.