David Rowland Francis (October 1, 1850-January 15, 1927) was an American politician. He served in various positions including Mayor of St. Louis, as the 27th Governor of Missouri and United States Secretary of the Interior. President Woodrow Wilson appointed Francis as the last U.S. Ambassador to Russia during the Russian Revolution of 1917.
Francis was born in Richmond, Kentucky on October 1, 1850, the son of Eliza Caldwell (nee Rowland) and John B. Francis. Graduating from Washington University in St. Louis in 1870, he ranked second on the rolls of the Alpha Iota Chapter of Beta Theta Pi fraternity. He was a successful businessman in St. Louis and served as president of the Merchant’s Exchange.
Mr. Francis 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 1904 World’s Fair serving as President of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. The 1904 Summer Olympics were held in combination with that Exposition. 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.