David Rowland Francis (October 1, 1850 – January 15, 1927) was an American politician and diplomat. He served in various positions including Mayor of St. 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 Wilsonian Democrat.
|United States Ambassador to Russia|
May 5, 1916 – November 7, 1917
|Preceded by||George Marye|
|Succeeded by||William Christian Bullitt Jr. (Soviet Union)|
|President of the Organising Committee for the Olympic Games|
October 28, 1900 – September 3, 1904
|President||Pierre de Coubertin|
|Preceded by||Pierre de Coubertin|
|Succeeded by||Edward Battell|
|20th United States Secretary of the Interior|
September 3, 1896 – March 5, 1897
|Preceded by||Hoke Smith|
|Succeeded by||Cornelius Bliss|
|27th Governor of Missouri|
January 14, 1889 – January 9, 1893
|Preceded by||Albert P. Morehouse|
|Succeeded by||William J. Stone|
|26th Mayor of St. Louis|
April 14, 1885 – January 2, 1889
|Preceded by||William L. Ewing|
|Succeeded by||Edward A. Noonan|
David Rowland Francis
October 1, 1850
Richmond, Kentucky, U.S.
|Died||January 15, 1927 (aged 76)|
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
|Resting place||Bellefontaine Cemetery|
(m. 1876; her death 1924)
|Education||Washington University (BA)|
Francis was born on October 1, 1850 in Richmond, Kentucky, the son of Eliza Caldwell (née Rowland) (1830–1898) and John Broaddus Francis (1818–1894). He graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 1870 where he was number one on the rolls of the Alpha Iota Chapter of Beta Theta Pi fraternity.
After graduating from University, he became a successful businessman in St. Louis and served as the president of a grain merchant's exchange. The St. Louis Mining and Stock Exchange was formed in St. Louis in the fall of 1880 with Francis as a founding member.
Francis was one of the main promoters of the St. Louis World's Fair of 1904, serving as President of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. Historians generally emphasize the prominence of themes of race and empire, and the Fair's long-lasting impact on intellectuals in the fields of history, art history, architecture and anthropology. From the point of view of the memory of the average person who attended the fair, it primarily promoted entertainment, consumer goods and popular culture.
The 1904 Summer Olympics were held in combination with that Exposition, and by overseeing the opening ceremony, Francis became the only American to open an Olympic Games who never served as President or Vice-President of the United States.
In 1905, after being elected President of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition Company, he was sent to Europe by the World's Fair directors to thank kings, emperors and other rulers for their part in making the exposition a success. He was decorated by the emperors of Germany and Austria and Wilhelmina, the Queen of the Netherlands.
In 1910, Francis was arrested for non-payment of taxes, but released on bail.
President Woodrow Wilson appointed Francis as the last U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Empire between 1916 and 1917. During his time as ambassador, he was almost appointed as U.S. Senator from Missouri. He served in that post during the Russian Revolution of 1917.
His biographer, Harper Barnes, summarized his personality:
David R. Francis was a brash, opinionated, stubborn, smart, sometimes foolish, straight-talking, quick-acting, independent-minded, proud, self-made man who represented the United States in Russia for two and a half years, during the most tumultuous era in that country's history. Much of his activity has been shrouded in myth – some of that heroic, more of that comic and tragic.
On January 20, 1876, he married the former Jane Perry (1854–1924), the daughter of John Dietz Perry (1815–1895) and a granddaughter of James Earickson, the former Missouri State Treasurer. They had six children: John David Perry (1876–1950), David Rowland, Jr. (1879–1938), Charles Broaddus (1881–1957), Talton Turner (1882–1955), Thomas (1884–1964), and Sidney Rowland Francis (1888–1960).
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.
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 Summer Olympics; Francis attended the opening ceremony and officially opened the games as the representative for the host nation.
William L. Ewing
| Mayor of St. Louis
Edward A. Noonan
Albert P. Morehouse
| Governor of Missouri
William J. Stone
| United States Secretary of the Interior
|Party political offices|
John S. Marmaduke
| Democratic nominee for Governor of Missouri
William J. Stone
| United States Ambassador to Russia
William Christian Bullitt Jr.
as United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union