Missouri Digital Heritage :: Collections :: David Rowland Francis, 1889-1893

Missouri State Archives
David Rowland Francis, 1889-1893

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David Rowland Francis was born October 1, 1850 in Richmond, Kentucky to John Broaddus Francis and Eliza Caldwell Rowland. Upon graduation from Washington University in St. Louis, Francis became a successful businessman in St. Louis and president of the Merchants Exchange. He married Jane Perry in St. Louis on January 20, 1876. In 1884, Francis was elected delegate at large to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago and in 1885 became mayor of St. Louis. In the 1888 gubernatorial election, he was elected by a narrow margin and was sworn in as Missouriís 27th governor on January 14, 1889. Governor Francis lowered taxes twice, established the Bureau of Geology and Mines and introduced secret ballot voting to the Missouri election system. Francis secured the addition of a Civil War direct tax of $600,000 to the University of Missouri endowment and established the nine man bipartisan Board of Curators. When Academic Hall (the main administration building) burned in 1892, Francis obtained $250,000 from the state legislature to rebuild. Governor Francis served as U.S. Secretary of the Interior in the second administration of President Grover Cleveland. He was president of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition from 1889 to 1904 and promoted the fair in Europe. In 1916, he gave 60 acres of land to the City of St. Louis. The land, located in north central area of St. Louis Hills, was developed in the 1930s and is known as Francis Park. James A. Reed defeated Francis for U.S. Senator in the 1910 Democratic primary. Francis later declined a diplomatic appointment to South America and served as the last United States Ambassador to the Russian Empire from 1916 through the Russian Revolution of 1917. Governor Francis died in St. Louis on January 15, 1927. He is interred in Bellefontaine Cemetery.

The Collection

The Records (1878-1893) of Governor David Rowland Francis (1850-1927) include appointment notifications, certifications, correspondence, handbills, inquiries, legal opinions by the Missouri Attorney General, legislation, letters of recommendation, newspaper clippings and editorials, petitions, reports, resignations, resolutions, telegrams, and letters of appreciation. Correspondents of note include Eugene V. Debs, Lawrence Vest Stephens, former governors Thomas Theodore Crittenden and Silas B. Woodson, Congressmen Richard Parks Bland, James Beauchamp Clark, David Albaugh DeArmond, Alexander Monroe Dockery, John Taddeus Heard, John Edward Hutton, James Tilghman Lloyd, Charles Harley Mansur, William Joel Stone, and Robert Patterson Clark Wilson. Also includes correspondence from U. S. Senators Francis Marion Cockrell, George Graham Vest, Daniel Wolsey Voorhees, and journalist Robert Morgan White.

Rights and Reproductions

Copyright is in the public domain. Preferred citation: [Item description], [date]; Records of Governor David Rowland Francis, 1889-1893; Office of Governor, Record Group 3.27; Missouri State Archives

How to Use This Collection:

The official title (1889-1893) lists dates of service from inauguration to end of term. Records (1878-1893) refer to the date range of materials included within the collection. Each box is arranged in chronological order. Letters pertaining to the same subject may be filed in more than one box. All references to places are within the state of Missouri unless indicated, and county is specified when known. The spelling of proper names varies greatly. When correct spelling could not be determined the original spelling was retained. Officeholders are Missouri officials unless noted (U. S. Senator, U. S. Secretary of State). State Representatives are referred to as Representative. U. S. Representatives are noted with the title Congressman. Scanned images shown are the best available.

Additional sources:

The collection finding aid provides information pertaining to additional Francis materials held by the following institutions: Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library; Missouri History Museum, St. Louis; Newberry Library, Chicago, Illinois; Columbia Research Center, State Historical Society of Missouri, Columbia; Pickler Library, Truman State University, Kirksville; KU Library, University of Kansas, Lawrence; Elmer Ellis Library, University of Missouri, Columbia; and Thomas Jefferson Library, University of Missouri, St. Louis.

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