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ALEXANDER, FRANKLIN PIERCE

Franklin Pierce Alexander
Franklin Pierce Alexander (1853–1913), journalist and state legislator, served in the Texas House of Representatives in the Nineteenth, Twentieth, and Twenty-first legislatures. Courtesy Legislative Reference Library of Texas and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

ALEXANDER, FRANKLIN PIERCE (1853–1913). Franklin Pierce Alexander, writer, journalist, and state legislator, son of Elijah E. and Vinetta (Norton) Alexander, was born at Pickens, South Carolina, on September 1, 1853. Elijah and Vinetta had five other children; James Harrison (1847–1847), William Norton (1849–1876), Elizabeth Hannah (1851–1863), Rosa Ann Schroder (1855–1919) and Thomas Elijah (1861–1922).

Before seventeen-year-old Alexander departed from Wagener, South Carolina, to Jefferson, Texas, in 1870, he was involved in the printing business, but little is known of his activities prior to his move. In Jefferson, Alexander became a part of the Jefferson Democrat staff and became acquainted with his future father-in-law, Col. John C. C. Bayne, editor of the Gate City News in Texarkana at the time. After spending time in Galveston and Fort Worth, Alexander joined Bayne in the production of the Weekly Independent (also referred to as the Greenville Independent) in 1875 in Greenville, Texas. At some point around this time he married Bayne’s daughter Georgia. Five children were born to that union.  

By 1876 Alexander was listed as “Editor and Proprietor” of the Weekly Independent, according to an issue dated September 2, 1876. Around 1878 he bought the Greenville Herald from W. H. (Dick) Ragsdale, with the help of F. V. Edne, who essentially served as a shadow or a “silent” partner for Alexander. In 1883 Alexander sold the Herald to famed Texas judge and orator James H. (“Cyclone”) Davis. Alexander made an unsuccessful bid for state representative in 1882, but he was elected for his first term in the Nineteenth Texas Legislature in 1884 under a strong anti-monopoly platform. He represented District 25 (Hunt County) as a Democrat. 

During Alexander’s first term in the Texas legislature, he served as chair of the Insurance and Statistics Committee and was on the committees for Internal Improvement and State Affairs. In that initial term, Alexander proposed a bill that called for the formation of a state commission to fix and maintain railroad freight rates. The measure was defeated, but Texas managed to pass a bill that created a railroad commission in 1891 after Alexander served his last term. During Alexander's second term (1887–89), he took on additional positions in the legislature, including service on the Finance; New Capitol, Governor’s Message (as chair); Public Printing; Insurance, Statistics and History (as chair); and Internal Improvement committees. Alexander served as the thirtieth speaker of the House during his third and last term (1889–91), when the legislature passed an antitrust law (1889) directed primarily against railroad rate-fixing associations. Only four weeks earlier, the Kansas legislature had passed a similar antitrust law; Texas became the second state in the United States to enact an antitrust statute. Such laws created the framework for the federal Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890.

In 1893, two years after Alexander’s term in the legislature had ended, he and his family moved from Greenville to Alva in the Oklahoma Territory during the opening of the Cherokee Strip Land Run. He served as a registrar of the land. In the 1900 census Alexander was living in Alva and was listed as a lawyer. The Alexander family moved again in 1901 to Lawton, Oklahoma Territory, and Alexander became the owner and editor of the Frederick Leader. Later, he bought the Star-Gazette in Sallisaw, Oklahoma. About eight months before Alexander’s death, he sold the Star-Gazette and bought the Wapanucka Press in Wapanucka, Oklahoma.  Franklin P. Alexander died on August 25, 1913, in Wapanuka, Oklahoma, about two weeks after the death of his father-in-law who was also residing in Oklahoma as a newspaper editor. Pastor A. Jeff Davis of the Baptist Church conducted the service, and Alexander was buried at Rose Hill Cemetery in Wapanuka.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

L. E. Daniell, Personnel of the Texas State Government, with Sketches of Distinguished Texans (Austin: City Printing, 1887). L. E. Daniell, Personnel of the Texas State Government, with Sketches of Distinguished Texans (Austin: City Printing, 1889). W. Walworth Harrison, History of Greenville & Hunt County, Texas (Waco: Texian Press, 1976). Legislative Reference Library of Texas: Frank P. Alexander (http://www.lrl.state.tx.us/legeLeaders/members/memberDisplay.cfm?memberID=3937&searchparams=chamber=~city=~countyID=0~RcountyID=~district=~first=~gender=~last=alexander~leaderNote=~leg=~party=~roleDesc=~Committee=), accessed April 12, 2016. E. H. Loughery, Personnel of the Texas State Government for 1885 (Austin: Snyder, 1885). Presiding Officers of the Texas Legislature, 1846–2006 (Austin: Texas Legislative Council, 2006).

Sarah Cunningham

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Handbook of Texas Online, Sarah Cunningham, "Alexander, Franklin Pierce," accessed September 24, 2017, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/falex.

Uploaded on June 22, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.