Franklin Mount Pleasant was born on the Tuscarora reservation near Niagara Falls, New York in 1884. He entered the Carlisle Industrial (Indian) School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania in 1904, and during his three full years there he distinguished himself as an outstanding football player and an accomplished pianist. He played quarterback in 1905 and left halfback in 1906 and 1907. With men like Mount Pleasant and the famous Jim Thorpe, it was little surprise that the Carlisle Indians teams of these years were legendary. (The "Pop" Warner coached Indians did not give up any points at home between 1901 and 1908.) While a member of the Carlisle Industrial student body, Mount Pleasant attended classes at the Dickinson Preparatory School and was able to enroll in the College in 1908 as a member of the class of 1910.
Before even attending a Dickinson class, Mount Pleasant represented the United States in the London Olympics of 1908. He competed in the long jump and the triple jump, placing a creditable sixth in both events despite a stormy Atlantic crossing and a ligament injury suffered immediately before the Games. (Although track and field was not his specialty, he made the second-longest long jump of the year in 1906.) After his return from London, he was persuaded to compete for Dickinson's sports teams; he captained the football team in 1909 while setting records for scoring, punting, and field goal kicking. Mount Pleasant also set the College record for the long jump at twenty-three feet three and a half inches at the Penn Relays, a mark that stood until 2000. A modest and well-liked student, the Microcosm referred to Mount as "one of the most popular fellows in college." He graduated with his class in 1910.
Immediately following graduation, Mount Pleasant took up the position of head football coach at the Indiana Normal School, now the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. In three years, his teams won two Pennsylvania Normal School Championships, and in 1912 his team went undefeated, outscoring their opponents by 340 points to 13, yielding points to only one team, Grove City College. He coached at West Virginia Wesleyan for a year in 1914 and returned to New York in 1915. Mount Pleasant served in the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant in Europe during World War I and was decorated for bravery.
Following the war, details of Mount Pleasant's life are scarce. He coached football at Franklin and Marshall College for a time, but then faded from view after returning to New York State. At the time of his death he was said to have been working as a postal clerk. On April 9, 1937, he fractured his skull in a fall on a Buffalo, New York street. Franklin Mount Pleasant died in the hospital three days later; he was fifty-three years old.
In 2004, the Dickinson College righted a long-lived oversight and inducted Franklin Mount Pleasant in the college's Sports Hall of Fame.