Frank Billings Kellogg (1856-1937) was a named partner in Minnesota's first nationally prominent law firm, Davis, Kellogg and Severance, a famous "trust buster" under President Theodore Roosevelt, a United States Senator from 1917 to 1923, Secretary of State in the Coolidge Administration, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for 1929, and a justice on the World Court. But in this biographical portrait by Roger G. Kennedy, he is depicted as an unimaginative but always adaptable lawyer who rose from an impoverished boyhood to great wealth, a politician who abandoned the very types of farmers and small town businessmen he grew up with, at a time when they were in need of government assistance, and a statesman, celebrated in his own time, but who today is assessed in less than heroic terms. Seeking to reveal the personality and character of Kellogg, Kennedy's profile of him is impressionistic, insightful, rarely complimentary, and oftentimes simply scathing.
This article appeared first as a chapter in Kennedy's "Men on the Moving Frontier: From Wilderness to Civilization, The Romance, Realism, and Life-Styles of One Part of the American West," published in 1969.
Roger G. Kennedy was the Director of the U. S. National Park Service from 1993 to 1997, and Director of the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, from 1979-1992. He received his LL.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1952.
Roger Kennedy died on Friday, September 30, 2011, at age 85. In a "Remembrance" of Kennedy in the Wall Street Journal published on October 1st, Stephen Miller wrote that he "transformed the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, renovating the 'nation's attic' to create a forum for conversations about U.S. history." In an obituary in the New York Times, Sandra Blakeslee wrote that Kennedy was "an ardent preservationist of the nation's cultural, historic and artistic heritage for much of his life." During his four years at the Park Service, Kennedy, who wore the service's official gray and green uniform to work every day, reduced the bureaucracy while opening eight new parks. "Parks are about stories, where we tell each other about common history," Miller quoted Kennedy as saying during an interview.