US Statesman, Diplomat. A native of Kentucky, he was an 1870 graduate of Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri; a successful businessman, he made that city his home. He was the Mayor of Saint Louis from 1885 until 1889 when he became the Governor of Missouri, serving from January 14, 1889 until January 9, 1893. He served as Secretary of the Interior from September 3, 1896 until March 5, 1897; during his appointment, President Cleveland set aside 21 million acres of public land as forest reserves. He was the leading promoter the Louisiana Purchase International Exposition (Saint Louis World Fair of 1904) and served as its President from 1889 until 1904. In April 1903, he published his report, "A Tour of Europe in Nineteen Days" which details his efforts to promote the Exposition while in Europe and Russia. The third summer Olympics (the first games held in the western hemisphere) had initially been awarded to Chicago; he was instrumental in bringing the games to Saint Louis (in conjunction with the exposition), and performed the opening ceremonies on May 14, 1904. He had returned to politics by 1912, speaking at the Democratic Narional Convention. He was commissioned as ambassador to Russia on March 9, 1916 and stayed in country until the Czar was overthrown. He published "Russia from the American Embassy, April 1916-Nov 1918" shortly after his official resignation as ambassador was accepted May 3, 1921. Francis Field (a sports field and gymnasium), part of Washington University and the site of the 1904 Olympics, was named in his honor. Additionally, the city developed a sixty-acre tract he donated in 1916; it is now Francis Park.
Bio by: Beth Painter
Jane Perry Francis