St. Patrick’s Confession


20th Century, African American, History, Intercession, Minnesota

Francis Appointed Minister to Liberia


St. Paul attorney William T. Francis is appointed U.S. Minister to Liberia. His success is the product of an active black professional community in the Twin Cities.

Francis had at one time been the chief clerk of the Northern Pacific Railway and had served as a presidential elector in 1920.*

Mr. Francis first found work in the Twin Cities with the Northern Pacific Railroad, working his way up to clerk. By 1904, he had graduated from St. Paul College of Law, and became the chief clerk of the law office of Northern Pacific. This high position made him a powerful leader and advocate for black Minnesotans.**

As was common in this era, he voted and actively participated in Republican politics. (African-Americans, on average, supported Republicans from the time of Emancipation until FDR, shunning the Democratic party for its support of slavery and slave states in the Civil War.) After two failed attempts in local races, his stalwart support garnered him the status of being a most powerful African-American Republican west of the Mississippi as well as serving as a presidential elector by 1920.**

His quiet authority eventually paid off when in 1927 President Coolidge appointed him the U.S. Minister and Consul to Liberia. American tire companies, like Firestone, had made large investments in the rubber industry there critical to a country in love with the automobile. Francis, always alert for breeches of justice, made a key report that uncovered corruption of major Liberian officials taking bribes for supplying men for forced labor. Soon after submitting his report he succumbed to yellow fever, and died in Monrovia, Liberia on July 15, 1929.**

His death rocked the African-American community of Minnesota, and as a lifelong member of Pilgrim Baptist Church he was given the following eulogy by the mayor of Saint Paul.
“Whereas: The City Council has been officially notified of the death of Wm. T. Francis, U.S. Minister to Liberia…
Mr. Francis was a St. Paul product, a citizen of fine spirit, clean purpose and genuine devotion to the public good, held in high esteem of those who knew him. He fashioned his own career out of courage, determination and ability. Facing unusual handicaps he overcame them all by the quality of his character, and by single-handed struggle forced recognition of his worth. He won high honor on worth alone and earned a wide approval because he was sincere, kindly, human and gracious.

At the time of his death he was on the threshold of a distinguished career, and assured of a commanding destiny among men. His government associates were open in their praise of his achievements. Here in his home city he was respected for what he was-a true brave man, gifted with vision, cheerful and uncomplaining, and devoted to high aims. His untimely death is a tragic loss to his country and especially to his home community. He leaves behind him the memory of one who was unafraid of life, the example of one who was victorious against all untoward circumstances.”***

“…and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” I Thessalonians 4:11,12 NIV****

In Your mercy, hear our prayer. We thank You for the stellar example of W.T. Francis. We thank You for gifting him with the tenacity, perseverance, and humility to stay at his task and quietly do so much good for so many. We thank You that his years of trials, like Joseph, prepared him to be the first African-American to be an American ambassador. We thank You that his process of overcoming led to greater freedom for tens of thousands of Africans!

Will You bless those who follow his patient path to greatness? Will You bless his progeny, both literal and figurative, to be blessings to their family,neighborhood, and city? Will You bless African-American leaders to be imitators of his invaluable contributions to the company, state, and nation he serves?

We ask that You forgive the judgments and jealousies that fell on him from Minnesotans, and by those in his own community. We ask forgiveness of the offense of judging You by judging the success of African-American leaders. We ask forgiveness of You by judging the success of all leaders.

Will You forgive us of judgments based on partisanship, of our own mothers and fathers, across political party lines? In this case, will You forgive our judgments against Republican leadership? We have largely forgotten as a society that slave states were led by Democrats, and that the leadership of President Lincoln and Republican principles of liberty defeated the slavery of African human beings in the United States. W.T. Francis did not forget, but used his liberty to procure liberty of Liberians being enslaved and betrayed by their own countrymen. Will You raise a generation of African-Americans in Minnesota that similarly burn with justice for Africa?

We thank You that his inner peace begat external peace. May we receive Your peace in Minnesota, and let it radiate outward. May we work for Your applause just like William T. Francis.

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
*** http://credo.library.umass.edu/view/pageturn/mums312-b048-i368/#page/1/mode/1up
*****Read deeper on this good man’s life. https://publishing.rchs.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/RCHS_Winter2017_Nelson.pdf

20th Century, Business, History, Intercession, Minnesota, Science

An Invention that Sticks


After twenty-three years of creating sandpaper and other industrial abrasives, the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company (3M) moves into a new market with its invention of masking tape. Of 3M’s 55,000 products today, the best known are probably masking tape, Scotch Tape, Thinsulate, and Post-it Notes.*

Below is a condensed history of 3M in the years that led up to the invention of masking tape.
“William L. McKnight joined Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co. in 1907 as an assistant bookkeeper. He quickly rose through the company, becoming president in 1929 and chairman of the board in 1949. He is known for shaping the company’s culture of innovation and collaboration. In 1910, major investor Lucius Ordway established 3M’s headquarters in St. Paul, Minnesota, where it remains today. We created the world’s first waterproof sandpaper, which reduced airborne dust during automobile manufacturing, in the early 1920s. A second major milestone occurred in 1925 when Richard G. Drew, a young lab assistant, invented masking tape — an innovative step toward diversification and the first of many Scotch® Pressure-Sensitive Tapes.”**

But what of the man, Richard Gurley Drew, who actually developed masking tape?
“Scotch tape was invented in 1930 by banjo-playing 3M engineer Richard Drew. Scotch tape was the world’s first transparent adhesive tape. Drew also invented the first masking tape in 1925 — a 2-inch-wide tan paper tape with a pressure sensitive adhesive backing.

In 1923, Drew joined the 3M company located in St. Paul, Minnesota. At the time, 3M only made sandpaper. Drew was product testing 3M’s Wetordry brand sandpaper at a local auto body shop, when he noticed that auto painters were having a hard time making clean dividing lines on two-color paint jobs. Richard Drew was inspired to invent the world’s first masking tape in 1925, as a solution to the auto painters’ dilemma.

The brandname Scotch came about while Drew was testing his first masking tape to determine how much adhesive he needed to add. The body shop painter became frustrated with the sample masking tape and exclaimed, “Take this tape back to those Scotch bosses of yours and tell them to put more adhesive on it!” The name was soon applied to the entire line of 3M tapes.”

Good G-d, it’s easy to see Your image in a well-rounded man like Richard Gurley Drew! We give thanks for his scientific persistence, his love of rowdy banjo playing, and a good looking two-toned car! Will You bless him and his literal and figurative heirs to reflect so practically Your creative Image?

In particular, we give thanks that he did not take offense when his product failed at the auto shop. He did not not take offense when the workman used a racial slur “Scotch”, (extremely thrifty or cheap), to malign both his product and his company. He listened to their needs beyond their words, and responded.

We give You praise for this image! May we learn from the patience of this inventor to reserve judgment of another’s lack of tactfulness, or use of salty language. May we open the gift of criticism we receive, and look past the ugly wrapping paper!

Will You give Minnesotans past, present, and future this same humility to accept criticism? Will You forgive the harshness of our words even if spoken with good intent? When and where we have used racial slurs we have not only stereotyped each other, but Your Image invention of those people groups. Have mercy: then, now, and into our future.

We thank You today for 3M! We thank You for its dedication to innovation through nurturing the inspirations of its employees. We thank You for its model of balancing collaborative and individual creativity. We thank You for its model of relational management, decades ahead of its time, that saw their employees as whole people. They saw that when Richard Drew played the banjo and was excited by a showy car that he would be a better scientist.

In response, may we ever be grateful for their reflection of Your Image in this, and foster wholeness in our business! will You forgive us where we have only seen our employees as faceless “human resources”? Will You forgive our lack of humility when and where we have lost that the spirit of invention exists to better serve our fellow man, and indirectly to serve You? Amen!

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ ESV Matthew 25:40
…Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ ESV Matthew 25:45****

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
**See “A Rich History of Ideas” to peruse the many inventions created by 3M that have changed the way we live. http://solutions.3m.com/wps/portal/3M/en_US/3M-Company/Information/Resources/History/
***See “The History of Scotch Tape” by Mary Bellis https://www.thoughtco.com/history-of-scotch-tape-1992403