David R. Francis

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David R. Francis
Picture of David R. Francis.jpg
20th United States Secretary of the Interior
In office
September 3, 1896 – March 4, 1897
President Grover Cleveland
Preceded by Hoke Smith
Succeeded by Cornelius N. Bliss
27th Governor of Missouri
In office
January 14, 1889 – January 9, 1893
Lieutenant Stephen H. Claycomb
Preceded by Albert P. Morehouse
Succeeded by William J. Stone
26th Mayor of St. Louis, Missouri
In office
April 14, 1885 – January 2, 1889
Preceded by William L. Ewing
Succeeded by Edward A. Noonan
Personal details
Born (1850-10-01)October 1, 1850
Richmond, Kentucky, United States
Died Script error: The function "death_date_and_age" does not exist.
St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Resting place Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Jane Francis
Children John David Perry Francis
David Rowland Francis, Jr.
Charles Broaddus Francis
Talton Turner Francis
Thomas Francis
Sidney Rowland Francis
Parents John B. Francis
Eliza Caldwell Rowland Francis
Alma mater Washington University in St. Louis
Profession Politician, Merchant

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, on October 1, 1850, the son of Eliza Caldwell (née Rowland) and John B. Francis. He graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 1870 where he was number two 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 January 20, 1876, he married the former Jane Perry, a granddaughter of former Missouri State Treasurer James Earickson.[1] They had six children: John David Perry, David Rowland, Jr., Charles Broaddus, Talton Turner, Thomas, and Sidney Rowland Francis.

He was elected Mayor of St. Louis, Missouri in 1885. In 1888 he was elected Governor of Missouri, becoming the only Mayor of St. Louis 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. 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 1910, Francis was arrested for non-payment of taxes, but released on bail.[2]

President Woodrow Wilson appointed Francis as the last U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Empire between 1916 and 1917. He served in that post during the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Francis died in St. Louis, Missouri, on January 15, 1927. He was buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery.


Monument marking Francis's grave in 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.

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.

In 1916, he gave 60 acres (240,000 m2) of land to the city of St. Louis, Missouri as a Christmas gift. It was turned into a park that bears his name.[3]


  1. [1]
  2. Gov. Francis Gives $200 Bail, at the Tacoma Times (via Chronicling America); published March 12, 1910; retrieved April 14, 2014
  3. http://stlouis.missouri.org/citygov/parks/parks_div/Francis.html
  • "Installed". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 14 April 1885. p. 2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • "The City Hall Change". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 2 January 1889. p. 10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Barnes, Harper. 2001. Standing on a volcano: the life and times of David Rowland Francis. St. Louis: Missouri Historical Society Press in association with the Francis Press. ISBN 1-883982-13-8
  • Francis, David Rowland, and Jamie H. Cockfield. 1981. Dollars and diplomacy: Ambassador David Rowland Francis and the fall of tsarism, 1916-17. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press.
  • Francis, David Rowland, Robert Chadwell Williams, and Robert Lester. 1986. Russia in transition: the diplomatic papers of David R. Francis, U.S. Ambassador to Russia, 1916-1918. Frederick, Md: University Publications of America.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
William L. Ewing
Mayor of St. Louis, Missouri
Succeeded by
Edward Noonan
Preceded by
Albert P. Morehouse
Governor of Missouri
Succeeded by
William J. Stone
Preceded by
Michael Hoke Smith
U.S. Secretary of the Interior
Served under: Grover Cleveland

Succeeded by
Cornelius Newton Bliss
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
George T. Marye
United States Ambassador to Russia
Succeeded by
Last ambassador to Russian Empire
Sporting positions
Preceded by
France Pierre de Coubertin
President of Organizing Committee for Summer Olympic Games
Succeeded by
United Kingdom Edward Battell