Kellogg, Frank B. (Frank Billings), 1856-1937

Alternative names
Birth 1856-12-24
Death 1937-12-22

Biographical notes:

Lawyer and politician Frank Billings Kellogg was born in New York, and raised in Minnesota. He studied law, was admitted to the bar, and began a long career in public service as city attorney of Rochester, Minnesota. He served as president of the American Bar Association, and as United States Senator from Minnesota and Ambassador to Great Britain. While serving as Calvin Coolidge's Secretary of State, he co-authored the Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact, also known as the Pact of Paris, outlawing war and resolving to find peaceful resolutions to conflicts between nations. Although the pact was eventually ratified by some sixty-two nations, it failed to prevent the outbreak of war in the 1930s. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1929.

From the description of Frank B. Kellogg letters, 1928-1929. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 64582035

Frank Billings Kellogg was born in Potsdam, St. Lawrence County, New York on December 22, 1856. He moved with his parents to Minnesota in 1865 and studied law in Rochester, Minnesota, where he was admitted to the bar in 1877, becoming the city attorney of Rochester from 1878-1881 and county attorney for Olmsted county 1882-1887. In 1887 he moved to St. Paul, Minnesota and became a member of the Republican National Committee 1904-1912, and president of the American Bar Association in 1912 and 1913.

Kellogg was elected to the United States Senate in March of 1917 and served until March of 1923. After being appointed in 1922 by Warren G. Harding to be the United States delegate to the Fifth International Conference of American States, held in Santiago, Chile, Kellogg was then appointed United States ambassador to Great Britain by President Coolidge, a position he served until 1925. From 1925-1929 Kellogg was Secretary of State in the Cabinet of President Coolidge, coauthoring the Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact signed in 1928. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1929 and served as an associate judge of the Permanent Court for International Justice from 1930-1935. Kellogg died in St. Paul, Minnesota on December 21, 1937.

Information from The Frank B. Kellogg Papers. Edited by Deborah Kahn Neubeck. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 1977-1978. Microfilm: 54 reels and guide.

  • 1856: Born December 22 in Potsdam, St. Lawrence County, New York, the eldest of three children of Asa Farnsworth Kellogg and Abigail Billings Kellogg. Asa Kellogg also had a son by a first marriage.
  • 1857: Family moved to Long Lake, Hamilton County, New York.
  • 1865: Family moved to a small farm near Viola, Olmsted County, Minnesota.
  • 1870: Assumed primary responsibility for working the family farm because of his father's poor health. Could no longer attend school; received no additional formal education.
  • 1872: Family moved to a larger farm in Olmsted County near Elgin, Wabasha County, Minnesota.
  • 1875: Left the family farm. Moved to Rochester, Olmsted County, Minnesota, to read law in the office of Halftan A. Eckholdt, in exchange for doing chores and errands. Supported himself by working on nearby farms, either for room and board or for a small salary.
  • 1877: Admitted to the Minnesota bar. Began to practice law in Rochester.
  • 1878: Formed law partnership with Burt W. Eaton, also a self-taught lawyer. Appointed Rochester city attorney by the city council. A Republican, served until 1881, when defeated for re-election by his Democratic opponent.
  • 1881: Elected Olmsted County attorney on the Republican ticket. Served until 1887.
  • 1884: In first important legal case, agreed to represent two Wabasha County townships, Plainview and Elgin, in a lawsuit against the Winona and St. Peter Railroad Company. Prior to accepting the case and during the course of the litigation sought the advice of his cousin, Cushman K. Davis, former governor of Minnesota and prominent St. Paul attorney.
  • 1886: Married Clara M. Cook of Rochester on June 16. They had no children. Unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for Minnesota attorney general. Accepted invitation to join the St. Paul law firm of Davis, newly elected U.S. senator from Minnesota, and Cordenio A. Severance.
  • 1887: Law firm of Davis, Kellogg, and Severance established with Kellogg as acting head. During the next thirty years the firm became one of the most prominent and successful corporate law firms in the Upper Midwest, representing many powerful companies and individuals. Formed lasting relationships with some of the country's most influential businessmen and politicians.
  • 1901: Became senior partner in the law firm after the death of Davis in 1900.
  • 1904: Minnesota delegate to the Republican National Convention. Elected Republican national committeeman from Minnesota. Served 1904-1912, [post-1916?]-1920. U.S. delegate to the Universal Congress of Lawyers and Jurists, held in St. Louis, Missouri.
  • 1905: Appointed special assistant attorney general to prosecute the federal government's case against the General Paper Company of Wisconsin and Minnesota (the so-called Western Paper Trust) for alleged violations of the Sherman Antitrust Act. Served until 1906, when the company was declared illegal and dissolved as a combination in restraint of trade. Received widespread attention in the press as a trust-buster.
  • 1906: With Severance, appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt as special counsel to the Interstate Commerce Commission for its investigation of Edward H. Harriman's financial manipulations and railroad consolidations, particularly of the Union Pacific, Southern Pacific, and subsidiary railroads. Served until 1908. Appointed special assistant attorney general to lead the federal government's prosecution of the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey under the Sherman Antitrust Act. Served until 1911.
  • 1908: With Severance, appointed special assistant attorney general to prosecute the federal government's suit against the Union Pacific Railroad under the Sherman Antitrust Act. Served until 1912. Minnesota delegate to the Republican National Convention.
  • 1911: U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the government in the Standard Oil case. The so-called Standard Oil Trust ordered dissolved; Kellogg hailed as the nation's number one trust-buster.
  • 1912: U.S. Supreme Court decided the Union Pacific case in favor of the government. Elected president of the American Bar Association for 1912-1913. Minnesota delegate to the Republican National Convention. Walked out of the convention with the rest of the Minnesota delegation in support of Theodore Roosevelt. Did not join the Progressive party; instead, worked to restore unity in the Republican party.
  • 1916: After initially declining to become a candidate, elected to the U.S. Senate on the Republican ticket, the first senator from Minnesota to be elected by popular vote. Served 1917-1923 (65th-67th Congresses). Campaigned on a platform of war preparedness, economy in government, prosecution of the trusts, and tariff reduction. As senator, primarily concerned with issues relating to his committee assignments (Judiciary, Interstate Commerce, National Banks, Public Lands, Joint Committee for Revision of the Federal Statutes, Foreign Relations) and with agriculture.
  • 1920: Minnesota delegate to the Republican Convention.
  • 1922: Defeated for re-election to the Senate by Henrik Shipstead, Minnesota Farmer-Labor party candidate.
  • 1923: U.S. delegate to the Fifth International Conference of American States, held in Santiago, Chile (appointed in 1922 by President Warren G. Harding.) Briefly rejoined law firm in St. Paul. Appointed U.S. ambassador to Great Britain by President Coolidge. Served until 1925.
  • 1924: While ambassador, served as one of two American delegates to the London Reparation Conference, which negotiated the Dawes Plan to revise the schedule of World War I reparations payments by Germany to the Allies.
  • 1925: While ambassador, represented the United States at the Conference of Finance Ministers, held in Paris, which agreed on the distribution of reparations payments by Germany to the Allies. Assumed the office of secretary of state in Coolidge's cabinet. Served until 1929. Primarily concerned with Latin American problems, including U.S. relations with Mexico and Nicaragua and the Tacna-Arica boundary dispute between Chile and Peru; revision of American policies toward China, particularly with respect to tariffs and extraterritoriality privileges; American relations with Canada and the St. Lawrence waterway project; settlement of World War I debts; disarmament; negotiation of international arbitration and conciliation agreements; U.S. participation in the World Court; and negotiation of the Pact of Paris.
  • 1928: Signed the Pact of Paris August 27.
  • 1929: Rejoined law firm in St. Paul.
  • 1930: Elected to a nine-year term as judge of the World Court. Served until 1935, resigning because of ill health. Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 1929 for his work in negotiating the Pact of Paris.
  • 1937: Died in St. Paul December 21.

From the guide to the Frank B. Kellogg papers., 1880-1942 [bulk 1890-1937]., (Minnesota Historical Society)


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  • Agriculture
  • Railroads
  • Arms control
  • Telecommunication
  • World War, 1914-1918--Reparations
  • International organization
  • Chaco War, 1932-1935
  • Peaceful change (International relations)
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  • Tacna--Arica question
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  • Politicians--20th century--Correspondence
  • Depressions--1929
  • Pan--Americanism
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  • Statesmen--United States
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