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Columbian Exposition

Columbian Exposition.—
One of the most interesting and instructive events in the history of the city of St. Louis was the effort made to secure the holding of the Columbian Exposition, which it was then proposed should be held in 1892, in that city. The effort was the work of all classes of citizens, from the capitalist to the laborer; from the wealthy manufacturer and merchant to the smaller trades people. The first meeting to consider the matter was convened at the office of the mayor of the city of St. Louis, in the old City Hall, corner of Eleventh and Chestnut Streets, on a joint call issued by the then Governor of Missouri, Honorable David R. Francis, and the then mayor of St. Louis, Honorable E. A. Noonan, August 3, 1889. Invitations were sent to forty leading citizens, who assembled on said date, and Mr. Charles Green, then president of the St. Louis Agricultural and Mechanical Fair Association, was called to the chair. Colonel C. H. Jones, then editor of the "Republic," offered a series of resolutions expressive of the sentiment of the meeting, "That the World's Fair be held in the city of St. Louis,'' and for the appointment of a committee of twelve, who should take in hand all matters connected with the securing of the fair, which resolutions were adopted, and the committee, consisting of the following gentlemen, was appointed: David R. Francis, E. A. Noonan, C. C. Rainwater, C. H. Jones, Charles Green, John A. Dillon, Samuel M. Kennard, D. M. Houser, Leverett Bell, Emil Preetorius, Charles A. Cox, John O'Day.
Congressman Nathan Frank offered the following resolution, which was adopted:
"Resolved, that the committee of twelve appointed by the meeting have and be clothed with plenary power to appoint a committee of one hundred or more, and that they ask the co-operation of other municipalities of the State, and of the State at large, for the selection of auxiliary committees."
Soon after a meeting of the committee was held at the Mercantile Club. Mr. John T. Davis was elected a member and chairman of the committee. It was then resolved that a committee be appointed, to be called a "Committee of Two Hundred for the Promotion of the World's Fair of 1892 in St. Louis." The committee was subsequently appointed, and met on the 7th day of September, 1889. John T. Davis having declined the chairmanship of the committee, Honorable David R. Francis was elected. An executive committee was carved out of this committee, with C. H. Jones as chairman, and Frank Gaiennie, secretary. A finance committee, with Honorable E. O. Stanard as chairman; a committee on congressional action, with Honorable E. S. Rowse as chairman, and a committee on the local site, with Colonel George E. Leighton as chairman, were created. The committee engaged headquarters at the Mermod-Jaccard Building, corner of Broadway and Locust Streets, and Mr. D. H. MacAdam was placed in charge as chief of the bureau of information. A well prepared address to the people was issued. It was determined that a "guarantee fund" of $5,000,ooo should be raised, and subcommittees were constituted for this purpose. October 4, 1889, at a meeting of the general committee, it was reported that the $5,000,000 guarantee fund was completely subscribed, and on the nth day of November, 1889, a delegation of twenty-five, in addition to the vice presidents of the committee of two hundred, was selected, called the "Washington Delegation," for service, when called on, to proceed to Washington to aid in securing congressional support for the location of the fair at St. Louis. November I2th Governor David R. Francis and Colonel C. H. Jones left for Washington, and opened a St. Louis bureau at Willard's Hotel, placing in charge thereof General John B. Clark, ex-clerk of the House of Representatives at Washington; ex-Governor Thomas B. Fletcher, and Samuel Hayes. Auxiliary committees of the residents of St. Louis, natives of other States than Missouri, were constituted to exert their influence on the Congressmen from the States whence they came, and literature and documents of all kinds were prepared and distributed for the purpose. The active work was then transferred to Washington.
Four cities competed for the prize: New York City, Washington, D. C., Chicago and St. Louis. Each city had headquarters in Washington, and the contest was most exciting and spirited. The congressional delegation from St. Louis consisted of Honorable F. G. Niedringhaus, representing the Eighth Congressional District; Honorable Nathan Frank, representing the Ninth Congressional District, and Honorable William M. Kinsey, representing the Tenth Congressional District.
The Senate World's Fair Committee met on January 8, 1890, to hear arguments as to where the World's Fair should be located, and time was allotted for presentation of the claims of the various cities.
The reasons why the World's Fair should be located at St. Louis were forcibly urged by Governor David R. Francis, Honorable E. O. Stanard and Colonel Charles H. Jones. Succinctly stated, it was urged on St. Louis' behalf that she was first in the field in proposing a World's Fair to celebrate the quadricentennial of the discovery of America by Columbus, and that the city of St. Louis was the most suitable site; that this was done as early as 1882 in articles written for the "Missouri Republican," and which idea was subsequently adopted at the First National Convention of Fair and Exposition Managers, held at St. Louis in June, 1884; that in 1885 the commissioners of the New Orleans Exposition declared themselves in favor of a World's Fair, and in favor of St. Louis as the site of that fair.
The international aspect of the fair was relied on, namely, that visitors from the Old World, traveling from the Atlantic seaboard to the banks of the Mississippi River, would see about one-third of the domain of the republic. The national view was dwelt on, and a map showing that a circle with a radius of 500 miles, drawn around the city of St. Louis, contained therein, according to the census of 1880, 23,800,000 people; a similar circle drawn around the city of New York contained 20,100,000, and a similar circle around the city of Chicago, 21,700,000 people. The transportation facilities were strongly put forth,, showing a larger mileage of inland water transportation than any other large city of the Union. The local advantages, because of the magnificent water supply, and the perfect sewerage system, were strongly urged,, and the hotel accommodations were shown to be fully equal to the demands which would be made upon them.
The committee offered seven distinct available sites within the limits of the city of St. Louis, which were displayed by photographic views to the committee. They were the following: Site No. 1, two gentle slopes of ground south of Tower Grove Park and west of Grand Avenue; Site No. 2, was an area bounded by Shaw Avenue on the south, Tower Grove Avenue on the west, Grand Avenue on the east, Manchester Road and Chouteau Avenue on the north; Site No. 3, a strip from Grand Avenue to Forest Park, and from the Wabash Railroad track to Laclede Avenue; Site No. 4, the ground between Union Avenue on the east, Jacob Avenue on the west, Forest Park on the south and Delmar Avenue on the north ; Site No. 5, a level plain running from the St. Charles Rock Road to the fair grounds, bounded by Prairie Avenue on the east; Site No. 6, beginning on Penrose Street, north to Bellefontaine, with Warne Avenue and Bircher Road as its eastern and western boundaries. The city of St. Louis also tendered Forest Park, containing 1,300 acres of ground, for use of the World's Fair, which was the seventh site proposed.
During the six months preceding the convening of the Fifty-first Congress all the cities competing for the location of the fair were active and zealous in securing committals on the part of their representatives in Congress. The subject of whether there should be a celebration and where the celebration should be held, in the event Congress decided that there should be a celebration, was thoroughly digested by the members of Congress when they went to Washington to attend Congress. Following the precedent established in the legislation regarding the Centennial of 1876, at Philadelphia, the committee on foreign affairs assumed that it would have charge of any legislation touching the World's Fair.
Knowing that if this committee was given jurisdiction of this matter it would act against the interests of St. Louis, because no member of Congress favorable to St. Louis was a member of the committee on foreign affairs, Congressman Frank offered a resolution providing that a select committee of nine members should be appointed, to be called the "World's Fair Committee," to whom should be referred all matters relating to the proposed celebration. The committee on rules subsequently reported such resolution back with the recommendation that it be passed. A minority report was submitted in the nature of a resolution as a substitute, namely: "That the committee on foreign affairs have jurisdiction of all matters relating to the World's Fair." On the 17th of January, 1890, this report of the committee on rules was submitted to the House, and gave rise to one of the most exciting and most earnest debates that took place in that memorable Congress. The members favoring the appointment of a select committee consisted of those favorable to St. Louis for the location of the fair and those who were unpledged to any city. A combination of the other cities was made of the members who supported the minority substitute. By a close vote, namely, 135 to 133, the resolution providing for the appointment of a select committee was adopted. This victory was hailed with great delight by the people of St. Louis, but the effect was, however, to more strongly combine the opposition to St. Louis by the friends of the other competing cities.
Speaker Reed, in pursuance of the resolution, appointed a select committee on the World's Fair, consisting of the following: John W. Candler, of Massachusetts; Robert R. Hitt and William M. Springer, of Illinois; G. E. Bowden, of Virginia; James J. Belden and Roswell P. Flower, of New York; Nathan Frank and W. H. Hatch, of Missouri; William L. Wilson, of West Virginia. Missouri was honored with two places on this committee—Nathan Frank and Wm. H. Hatch.
A bill providing for the holding of the fair at St. Louis was introduced by Mr. Frank and referred to this committee. Other cities followed and introduced similar bills through their representatives. The select committee reported back to the House a "bill to provide for celebrating the four hundredth anniversary of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, by holding an international
exhibition of arts, industries, manufactures, and the product of the soil, mines and sea, in
the city of , in the year 1892." This bill was made a special order for debate on Thursday and Friday, February 20th and 21st, which was participated in by the leading members of Congress.
The vote was taken on the 25th day of February, 1890, on the resolution to fill in the name of the city. On the first roll call Chicago received 115 votes, New York 72, St. Louis 60 and Washington 56. No place having received a majority of all the votes cast, a second roll call was had, and no place having then received a majority, another roll call was needed. It was necessary to call the roll of the House for an aye and nay vote seven times, which finally resulted in a combination of interests by which Chicago received 156 votes, or a majority of one vote, and the resolution was then adopted, inserting the name of "Chicago" in the blank place. Nathan Frank.
[Congressman Frank, both at home and at Washington, was one of the busiest of the promoters of the Columbian Fair project for St. Louis. He was punctual in attendance upon all the committees to which he was assigned, and was prolific in wise suggestions in furtherance of the cause. His speech before the final congressional vote was taken was replete with facts and fine points bearing upon the contest. He referred to the original conception of the idea belonging to St. Louis, where it had been elaborately discussed for five years, as one of pure sentiment and patriotic feeling. He deprecated the partisan considerations which had been made to bear weight upon the settlement of the location. He spoke of the geographical advantages of St. Louis, accessible, as she is, to the largest number of people of this country, and of the continent south of us; of her greater nearness to the general variety of exhibits than any other city; of her choice of favorable sites or grounds; of the welcoming and hospitable spirit of her people; of her complete ability to carry out all the requirements of the bill; her salubrious and healthful climate; her character as a cosmopolitan city; her hundreds of miles of streets and boulevards; her magnificent parks and monuments; her splendid hostelries, and her conspicuous place in the history and traditions of the country.—Editor.]
Source: Encyclopedia of the History of Missouri: Edited by Howard Louis Conard; Publ. 1901; Transcribed by Andrea Stawski Pack 2011~

 



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