Friday, June 4, 2010

My Famous File: David Rowland Francis

(Located in Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis, MO)
Sculpted by George J. Zolnay.

Extracted from Wikipedia
David Rowland Francis (October 1, 1850 – January 15, 1927) was an American politician. He served in various positions including Mayor of Saint Louis, the 27th Governor of Missouri, and United States Secretary of the Interior. He was the U.S. Ambassador to Russia between 1916 and 1917, during the Russian Revolution of 1917. He was a Democrat.

Francis was born in Richmond, Kentucky, in 1850. He graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 1870 where he was number 2 on the rolls of the Alpha Iota Chapter of Beta Theta Pi fraternity. He was a successful businessman in St. Louis and served as the president of the Merchant's Exchange. On a personal note, he was married to the former Jane Perry, a granddaughter of former Missouri State Treasurer James Earickson.

He was elected the mayor of St. Louis, Missouri, in 1885. In 1888 he was elected Governor of Missouri, becoming the only Mayor of St. Louis to date elected Governor of the state. Francis served as the United States Secretary of the Interior under President Grover Cleveland between 1896 and 1897.

Francis was one of the main promoters of the St. Louis World's Fair of 1904, serving as President of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition.

President Woodrow Wilson appointed Francis as the U.S. Ambassador to Russia between 1916 and 1917, during the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Francis died in St. Louis January 15, 1927, and was buried at Bellefontaine Cemetery.

In 1895 the University of Missouri dedicated David R. Francis Quadrangle in honor of the former governor who is credited with keeping the university in Columbia after the fire of Academic Hall in 1892. Francis insisted that the state's land-grant university remain in a central location, rather than moving to Sedalia, as many state legislators desired. Instead, Sedalia was awarded the Missouri State Fair as compensation. A bronze bust of Francis' face sits at the south end of Francis Quad near the steps of Jesse Hall. A popular MU student tradition is to rub Governor Francis' nose before taking a test in order to get an 'A.'

Francis Field, the track/soccer/football stadium at Washington University in St. Louis as well as the adjacent Gymnasium are named in Francis' honor. Francis Field was the site of the 1904 Olympic Games.

In 1916 he gave 60 acres of land to the city of Saint Louis as a Christmas gift. Today it is a park that bears his name.

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