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Name:    Francis, David R.
Profession:  Mayor
Category:  Politics and Government    (Number 26)
Term as Mayor:    1885-1889
Born/Started:     Oct. 01, 1850
Died/Ended:     Jan. 15, 1927
Description:    David R. Francis was the 26th mayor of St. Louis, serving two terms from 1885 to 1889. He is best remembered, however, for his pivotal role in promoting the 1904 World’s Fair as president of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. He is also the only St. Louis mayor ever elected governor of Missouri. He also served as U.S. secretary of the Interior and as the U.S. ambassador to Russia during the time of the Bolshevik Revolution.

Born at Richmonds KY, Francis graduated from Washington University in 1870. In 1876 he married Miss Jennie Perry, daughter of John D. Perry of St. Louis, and they had six sons. In 1877 he founded the D. R. Francis and Brothers Commission Company. In 1883 he became vice-president of the Merchants´ Exchange and was made its president in 1884. He was an officer in several St. Louis corporations.

As mayor, Francis reduced the rate of interest on City indebtedness from six per cent to four per cent. He was instrumental in getting the gas rates to the consumer reduced from $2.50 to $1.25 per thousand feet. He directed the start of an expansion of the waterworks with a new pumping station and reservoirs at Chain of Rocks in north St. Louis. The reconstruction of City streets to make them more durable was pushed forward. The City´s population increased from 350,518 in 1880 to 451,770 in 1890.

Mayor Francis helped St. Louis to become famous as a convention city. He vetoed what was known as the "Electric Elevated Raillway Bill," because he felt it did not adequately compensate the City for a valuable franchise. With other leading business men, in 1886, organized the Merchants Bridge Company to build the railroad bridge just south of the Bissell´s Point Waterworks station. In 1887 he approved the start of Milk Inspection Service in the City.

In 1888 Mayor Francis was elected Governor of Missouri and took office in Jefferson City in January of 1889 before his term as mayor ended. George W. Allen, president of the Council, acted as mayor during the last few weeks of his term.

In 1896 Mr. Francis became U.S. Secretary of the Interior In the Cabinet of President Cleveland. As president of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, he traveled the world promoting the upcoming fair and later served as host to many heads of state who visited the Fair. In December 1916, he donated to the City the ground for Francis Park, President Wilson appointed him U. S. ambassador to Russia in 1916. He died January 15, 1927 and interment was in Bellefontaine Cemetery.

Louisiana Purchase Exposition

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