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Forrest C. Donnell is Born

Today in Masonic History Forrest C. Donnell is born in 1884.

Forrest C. Donnell was an American politician.

Donnell was born on August 20th, 1884 in Quitman, Missouri. He graduated from Maryville High School in 1900. He went on to the University of Missouri where he graduated in 1904. He went to receive his law degree from the same institution in 1907.

After graduation, Donnell moved to St. Louis, Missouri where he opened a law practice. Between 1917 and 1920 he was very active in Republican politics in the the state. He was also elected the city attorney for Webster Groves, Missouri a suburb of St. Louis.

In 1940, Donnell was elected Governor of Missouri as a Republican. This was a problem for the Democrat dominated politics of Missouri at the time. Donnell was the first Republican governor since the collapse of the political machine of political boss Thomas Pendergast. After Donnell defeated his Democratic rival, the Democrats held a special meeting to figure out how they were change the results of the election. The plan which came from the meeting of high ranking Democrats in the state, had the Speaker of the House of Missouri's House of Representatives holding a special count of the ballots, which was technically legal. Then the Speaker of the House would announce the winner, presumably declaring Donnell's opponent the winner. While the political maneuvering was going on, the Democrats refused to seat Donnell. Eventually the Missouri Supreme Court stepped in almost six weeks after Donnell should have been seated.

The same year Donnell was running for Governor, future President Harry S. Truman was running for the United States Senate. Despite the fact Truman was a Democrat and Donnell was a Republican, Truman credited his 1940 Senate win to Donnell. Truman said:

I had a Catholic friend in St. Louis by the name of James E. Wade. He attended a meeting [where] Davis made his usual charges. Forrest Donnell, who afterwards became [Republican] Governor and Senator, was speaking from the same platform. Donnell was just behind me in the Grand Lodge line and would be Grand Master in a year or two. So Jim Wade went up to him . . . and asked him if I could be the low sort of fellow that Davis charged and still be Grand Master of Masons of Missouri. Mr. Donnell said: 'No, Jim, he could not.' That ruined Mr. Davis—I won by 276,000 votes.

In 1944, Donnell was elected to the United States Senate. He served only one term being defeated in his 1950 reelection bid. During his time in the Senate he supported the Taft-Hartley Act, other antilabor measures, and lower income taxes. He opposed an excess-profits tax and most foreign aid. After losing the 1950 election he returned to his law practice in Missouri.

Donnell passed away on March 3rd, 1980.

Donnell was a member of Tuscan Lodge No. 360 in St. Louis, Missouri. He served as the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Missouri. He served his term as Grand Master while he was the Governor of Missouri. He was Worshipful Master of the Missouri Lodge of Research, another position that Truman held as well. Donnell was also a 33° member of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Southern Masonic Jurisdiction.