David  R. Francis'  Book-The Universal Exposition of 1904

Lee  Gaskins'  AT THE FAIR  The 1904 St. Louis World's   Fair 
                   Web  Design and Art/Illustration   copyrighted  2008


Universal Exposition  of 1904



On this important acquisition, so favorable to the immediate interests of our Western citizens, so auspicious to the peace and security of the
nation in general, which adds to our country territories so extensive and fertile, and to our citizens new brethren to partake of the
blessings of freedom and self-government, I offer to Congress and our country my sincere congratulations.

—Jefferson's Message to Congress, January 16th, 1804




Eight vice-presidents were elected at the organization; five have died, C. H. Spencer, S. W. Cobb, Charles H. Huttig, August Gehner and Pierre Chouteau. None of the places were filled, as all survived the close of the Exposition. The remaining three are Samuel M. Kennard, Daniel M. Houser and Cyrus P. Walbridge, respectively, second, third and fifth vice-presidents. All were loyal in spirit and promptly responded to every call.


Treasurer William H. Thompson has been often mentioned in this report, but not more frequently than merited. His interest in the work and his fidelity io his trust, his wise counsel, his unfaltering courage, his unwavering confidence, his unswerving firmness, were an inspiration to all of his associates. The writer well remembers that on the llth of January, 1899, he called on Mr. Thompson and asked him to accept the treasurership and to aid in procuring the large sum required to carry to a successful consummation the stupendous undertaking proposed. He replied that he had just read in the morning papers the speech made by your President at the Louisiana Purchase States Convention the day before and had remarked to "Van" (his associate and friend, J. C. Van Blarcom) : "That is a great and worthy undertaking and we must give it our earnest and aggressive support." He did so from that day until his death. The Exposition, the city, the people owe him a great debt. His pride and boast was his loyalty to his associates and to the cause. Long may his services be remembered.


The Secretary, and the only one from the organization in March, 1901, is Walter B. Stevens, who gave up his position as the Washington correspondent of a St. Louis newspaper to accept the call of the Exposition Company. Mr. Stevens has continued to reside in St. Louis and to take part in its upbuilding, as everyone familiar with St. Louis history for the past fifteen years well knows. Able, faithful, efficient, energetic," resourceful, untiring, a wonderful secretary without whose assistance it is difficult to see how the Exposition would have been such a success. He has assisted materially in the compilation of this report. He was also Director of Exploitation and the only person ever selected for that important position; his commission as such dates from 1903, but he performed the work from the beginning of the movement. Long may he live!

Executive Committee:

The Executive Committee was composed of the President as chairman, Wm. H. Thompson, Charles W. Knapp, W. F. Boyle, С. G. Warner, John Scullin, Bolla Wells, Nathan Frank, Corwin H. Spencer, Murray Carleton, Lewis D. Dozier, James Campbell, A. L. Shapleigh, Breckinridge Jones, Howard Elliott.

Mr. Elliott removed to St. Paul to become president of the Northern Pacific. W. K. Bixby was added to the committee. Mr. Thompson died in 1905 ; Mr. Spencer in 1906 ; Mr. Warner in 1911. The other members of the Executive Committee survive and continue to act. These men were in fact "executive." They wielded the laboring oar. Through more than thirteen CONCLUSIONS Xlll

years they have served with intelligence and devotion. They selected the site, approved the plan of organization, passed upon all contracts, great and small, and determined the policy of the management. The minutes of the Executive Committee fill more than 4,000 typewritten pages.

The Treasurer, the Director of Transportation, John Scullin, and all members of the Executive Committee served wholly without compensation. Such service as they rendered could not have been secured for wages. Experienced men of affairs, administrators of great business enterprises, identified with the growth of St. Louis, cherishing a sincere interest in the city's welfare and progress, they gave freely and unselfishly and at great personal sacrifice, their time and thought and effort to the Exposition throughout the periods of preparation, operation and liquidation. It is hardly necessary to add that the President, from the outset, declined to accept compensation of any kind for his services.

General Counsel:

The General Counsel of the Exposition from its incorporation in March, 1901, and the legal adviser from the inception of the celebration until October, 1903, was James L. Blair. He was succeeded by James A. Seddon as General Counsel ad interim, who served until November 10, 1903. Judge Seddon was succeeded by Judge Franklin Ferriss, who resigned from the Circuit bench to accept the position of General Counsel. Judge Ferriss served in such capacity until appointed to the Supreme Bench of Missouri in 1911. When he retired from that position in January, 1913, he resumed charge of the legal department. Judge Ferriss was not only legal counsel. He was adviser and friend of the administration in all matters affecting its policies and at all times exercised rare, good judgment.

Directors of Divisions:

Under the plan of organization, which worked most satisfactorily, the President was the executive head to whom all directors of divisions, the commandant of the Jefferson Guard, and all chiefs of special bureaus and special commissions reported. There were four directors of divisions, F. J. V. Skiff, of Exhibits; Isaac S. Taylor, of Works; Norris B. Gregg, of Concessions and Admissions; Walter B. Stevens, of Exploitation; later a Division of Transportation was established under the direction of John Scullin. The chief who gave his undivided time to transportation matters and to the management of the large warhouses where the packing cases were stored was J. M. Allen. Full reports of all operations of these divisions from their establishment to their dissolution were made to the President and form a most interesting history of the Exposition. As much of such reports have been included herein as the scope of this report would admit. The President is much pleased to testify to the intelligence, efficiency, tact and fidelity of the above-named directors of divisions. No sacrifice was too great for them to make for the accomplishment of what all were striving—a truly Universal Exposition. The reports of the chiefs of departments to the directors of divisions are in many or most instances liberally quoted from in the reports of such directors to the President; all demonstrate faithful devotion to duty and effective co-operation.

Other Officials:

Collins Thompson, secretary to the President, became connected with the work in June, 1901, as stenographer. In September following he was transferred to the President's office, and has been closely associated with the President up to and including the present writing. To say that he understood his duties and discharged them well would be insufficient tribute to a man whose life for more than ten years in its early and mature manhood was devoted unselfishly to a task which he looked upon as a sacred trust. In and out of hours he was ever alert to the best interests of the Exposition and never unmindful of the chief whose duties and responsibilities he lightened, not only as assistant but as true friend and sympathetic counselor.

Fred Gabel was auditor from 1902 until his death; he organized that department thoroughly and furnished it an accounting system which met the most exacting requirements.

Edward Perry, assistant auditor and acting auditor since the demise of Mr. Gabel, is still connected with the work; in fact, he is the only person remaining on the pay roll, being in charge of the books and archives of the company and acting custodian of the Jefferson Memorial. A most trustworthy, painstaking and capable official, having had many years of experience in banking and other lines of business, Mr. Perry has been a worthy reliance of the President, whose thorough confidence he has ever possessed.

John W. Dunn served as cashier until 1905, and did so most satisfactorily. He was given the difficult and responsible mission of taking to Washington vouchers for the first ten millions of dollars expended, and of demonstrating "to the satisfaction of the Secretary of the Treasury," as the law required, that such sum had been properly disbursed before the five millions appropriation of the Federal Government became available. He performed the task successfully, and received the hearty commendation of the Treasury Department officials.

There are others whose efficiency and fidelity it would be a pleasure to mention and commend if the limits of this report permitted.


When we look back over the period elapsed since the Louisiana Purchase celebration was suggested, and consider the money, effort and thought devoted to the plan of celebration adopted and carried out, the question arises, what is the result? There were wise men, sincere and patriotic men, who not only doubted the advisability of the project, but earnestly questioned the ability of the city as a community to carry it to a successful or creditable consummation. It was more than an international celebration of a great national act. It impressed upon the minds and hearts of the people of the Louisiana Territory and of the entire country, more lastingly than could have been done in any other way, what the acquisition of this Trans-Mississippi country meant to our material walfare, to the perpetuity of our government, to the promotion of republican institutions throughout the world, to the uplifting and happiness of humanity. It demonstrated to a most gratifying degree what a community can do for itself, for its section, for its country, for culture, for science, for progress, if its members work with determination and co-operate in harmony. St. Louis was the host of the world's elect. It was the scene of the exhibit of the best effort of man from the beginning of society; the scene of friendly competition between all civilized countries, all of the CONCLUSIONS, states, territories and possessions of the United States, in the products of soil, mine and sea, and in achievement in every line of human endeavor. It was a marker in the progress of the race ; a milestone in the development of the. faculties of man, in the cultivation of his sentiment, in the expansion of his sympathies. It brought to our very doors the best ouput, material, artistic and philosophic, that the race has produced and gave to all who entered the gates a wider knowledge, a broader culture and an inspiration as well. In thousands of homes throughout the land can be seen evidences of the refining influences, the helpful effects of the St. Louis Exposition. The educational benefits of the Fair are well worth all it cost. The publicity given St. Louis throughout this country and the world, permeating as it did many places and sections where the city was not known, if it had ever been heard of, could not have been had otherwise for double the cost of the Fair, if at any price. Furthermore, St. Louis received in material benefit, measured in dollars and cents, many times the entire money outlay. Every line of business was given a new impetus and prospered during the period of preparation and of operation; nor was there any backset after the Fair closed. There was no overbuilding; the additional labor attracted by the great construction of exhibit palaces, the numerous foreign and state and concession buildings, the enormous installation work and consequent high wages proved no injury or detriment to any interest during the Exposition or after its close. The millions of strangers who came were amazed at the beauty of the city, especially its resident districts. The weather was delightful throughout the seven months and consequently the Exposition did more to dissipate the erroneous impressions which had prevailed concerning the oppressiveness of St. Louis summers than could possibly have been done in any other way. St. Louis is a different city since the Exposition was held. On the border lines between the East and the West, and between the North and South, its composite citizenship was typically American ; that citizenship was patriotic and not provincial, it was not narrow, nor prejudiced, but liberal and broad minded. It needed the welding, however, which the Exposition gave it. It is more cosmopolitan. The Exposition demonstrated that united effort can accomplish marvels while a community rent by jealous bickerings and suspicions wastes its energies and enervates its spirit. Such a lesson is well worth all the Exposition cost. The city could well afford the repetition of such an outlay of money and effort if such benefits could be duplicated thereby.

Personal Reflections:

A few words of a personal nature and I will bring this report, already too long drawn out, to an end. It has not been possible even in these two comprehensive volumes to do justice to the exhibits and the scope of the Exposition, or to the magnitude of the work. As one connected officially with the undertaking from its inception, its proportions never appeared so large and overwhelming to me as they do from this restrospective view. I gave to the work five years or more of my time and thought. At no juncture of the period which has elapsed since the first meeting at the Historical Society rooms in May, 1898, up to the present writing, September, 1913, have the interests of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition been overlooked or ignored by me in any plans I have made or in any occupation in which I have been engaged. Next to the success of the undertaking my deepest satisfaction comes from the confidence so unwaveringly reposed in me by the Board of Directors. That confidence has not been at any time lightly appreciated, and that it has never been abused goes without saying. When the committee appointed to confer with me as to compensation asked that I place a consideration on my services my reply was that I could not serve for a commercial reward, but that the best in me would be cheerfully given to promote the success of an enterprise fraught with such consequence to St. Louis and to the country. At that time all had begun to realize the magnitude of the work and what its failure would mean. The success of the Exposition, to which I contributed in some degree and in which I cherish a pardonable pride, is reward enough for my time and labor. The lasting benefits which have flowed and which will continue to flow from the St. Louis World's Fair are ample compensation for whatever sacrifices I may have made. The experience gained has amply repaid me for the thought and solicitude devoted to a great work. The beautification of Forest Park, the enduring monuments on the exposition site, the educational influences of the Art museum with its invaluable treasures, whose perpetuity and growth are assured by vote of the people, the Jefferson Memorial with its historical records and relics, will be ever present remindere of the St. Louis World's Fair for generations to come. Let us hope they will also inspire gratitude to those who labored that the Fair might live. Let us pray they may kindle deep civic pride and incite to noble effort many public- spirited citizens.


The work is about completed. The duty of the officers has been discharged. The trust of the Directors has been fulfilled. The charter of the Exposition Company expired in April, 1911, but the surviving Directors continue to serve as trustees, annually re-electing the same officers. The Directors or trustees commemorate Louisiana Purchase Day, April 30th, by an annual dinner where the departed are remembered and honored, where pleasant memories are revived, and felicitations and good wishes interchanged by the survivors. This reunion will be repeated, I trust, from year to year as long as two or more of our members may live to get together. It is a sweet recollection—the Days of 1904! Their memory lightens our cares, broadens our vision, rejuvenates our hearts. May it never grow dim!

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