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Charles A. Harwood is Born

Today in Masonic History Charles A. Harwood is born in 1880.

Charles A. Harwood was an American politician.

Harwood was born May 24th, 1880 in Brooklyn, New York. He attended Hamilton College and New York University. In 1904 he was admitted to the bar and began practicing law in Brooklyn. He continued in private practice until 1936.

In 1936, Harwood was appointed as a special assistant to the United States Attorney General to help to prosecute mail fraud. The following year he was appointed as a judge for United States District Court for the Canal Zone in Panama. He served on that court for one year.

In 1939, Harwood, who was a long time friend of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), was approached by FDR's son Elliott for a loan for $25,000. This was to help Elliott's foundering radio network. It would later be revealed in an investigation into Elliott's financial troubles, that Harwood had been promised a Federal Judgeship in exchange for forgiving the loan. It is believed that this is what led to Harwood being appointed as the Governor of the United States Virgin Islands in 1941.

Regardless of why Harwood was appointed, the appoint was controversial. It was hoped that FDR would appoint the first black Governor of the island. Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes had tagged Congressman Kent Keller for the position. Before Ickes could move forward on the appointment FDR insisted on Harwood based on the recommendation of Democratic boss Ed Flynn. Before Harwood was confirmed Ickes wrote in his diary that the appointment had been a "tragic joke."

Harwood served as Governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands until 1946. Despite the controversy and the fact that Harwood's time as Governor was less than spectacular, a highway and a hospital in Virgin Islands still bear Harwood's name. Harwood's successor, appointed by President Harry Truman was the first black Governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Harwood passed away on October 23rd, 1950.

Harwood was a member of Mar-chants Lodge No. 709 in Brooklyn, New York.