Glass was the son of Benjamin Franklin Glass and Caroline Potts Glass. As a boy, Franklin attended Reverend H. A. Smith's private school and clerked in his father's stores in Centreville and Six Mile on weekends. He enrolled at Princeton College, completing his bachelor's degree in 1877 and a master's in 1880, reading law with his father in the interim. By the time he returned to Centreville, his father had purchased the Shelby Guide and renamed it the Bibb Blade. Benjamin turned the paper over to his son, Franklin, beginning his long career in newspaper publishing. In 1881, Glass purchased the Selma Times, moving to that city to serve as editor and publisher. In 1885, Franklin purchased a quarter interest in the Montgomery Advertiser. He purchased further interest in 1889 and eventually became the paper's general manager, serving on its editorial board until 1915.
In 1910, Franklin Glass joined Victor Hanson in purchasing interest in The Birmingham News. Glass moved to Birmingham and served as editor-in-chief. His editorials earned him a place as one of the "Seven Super Pens", so named by a national magazine in 1913. He also served on the board of directors (1906-1916) and as president (1918-1920) of the American Newspaper Publishers Association. He was also a source of inspiration for the founding of the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association, which he later served as president from 1906 to 1907. Glass was also a founder and charter member of Independent Presbyterian Church.
In 1913, Alabama Governor Emmet O'Neal appointed Glass to fill the unexpired senatorial term of Joseph Johnston, but Senate Committee of Elections and Privileges objected to the appointment because the 17th Amendment suppported an Alabama state law requiring a special election to fill a vacant Senate seat. Frank White won the special election.
On April 4, 1920, Glass retired from the News and sold his interest to Hanson. Both men wrote editorials mentioning a disagreement, but did not elaborate. In the book celebrating the News' centennial, the purchase of the Birmingham Ledger just a few weeks later is considered as a possibility. Both men said it was a friendly parting. Glass' 30 percent interest gave Hanson almost complete ownership of the News.
In 1922, Glass moved to St Louis where he became editor and co-owner of The Star. In December 1927 he bought Hanson's interest in the Montgomery Advertiser, making Glass majority owner. He served as publisher until his death in 1934. In his final years, Glass also continued to be active politically. In 1932, he was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. President Franklin Roosevelt appointed Glass to the Board of Federal Mediation in 1933.
Glass married the former Mattie Byrd Purnell of Selma on April 2, 1884. The couple had three sons and three daughters. Glass was posthumously inducted into the Alabama Newspaper Hall of Honor in 1962.
|Editor of The Birmingham News
- Dubose, Joel Campbell (1904) Notable men of Alabama: Personal and Genealogical Vol. 1. Atlanta, Georgia: Southern Historical Association
- Cruikshank, George H. (1920) History of Birmingham and Its Environs: A Narrative Account of Their Historical Progress, Their People, and Their Principal Interests 2 volumes. Chicago, Illinois: Lewis Publishing Company. - via Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections
- Jones, Emily, ed. (1988). The Birmingham News: Our First 100 Years. Birmingham, AL: The Birmingham News Company.
- "The 1930s: Media: Deaths." (2001). American Decades. The Gale Group, Inc. - accessed October 6, 2009 from Encyclopedia.com