Harold E. Sweet was 37 when he was elected the first mayor of Attleboro in 1914.
In private life, he was a businessman and served as general manager and treasurer of jewelry maker R.F. Simmons Co.
Sweet was civic-minded, serving on the school committee, and active in the business community, serving on the boards of the First National Bank, Attleboro Gas Light and the Manufacturers Board of Trade.
He was widely respected, so much so that The Attleboro Sun pushed for his nomination and his election.
Scores of friends and associates urged him to run in Attleboro’s first city election that was to take place on Dec. 8, 1914.
And the idea was not unattractive to Sweet.
“I may say in all frankness that the possibility of becoming the first mayor of Attleboro appeals to me — not as an opportunity for political advancement or material gain of any sort, but as a call to service in behalf of the community in which I have always lived,” he said in an announcement to seek the office.
Sweet beat his opponent James H. Leedham Jr., who’s been described as “a tough, tobacco-chewing defense lawyer,” by a 3-1 margin, 2,331 to 809 in a campaign that turned bitter and dirty with Sweet being attacked for his religious views.
Sweet called the attack a “dastardly thing.”
“There is no place in our citizenship for the man who does not accord to every other man in this country of ours complete freedom of religious belief,” he said.
Sweet was unopposed for a second term, and declined to run for a third, saying that two terms should be the limit for any mayor.