Kellogg Boulevard may be the most misunderstood street in St. Paul. If you asked the thousands who drive the downtown thoroughfare daily where the name came from, most probably would respond with some crack about cereal.
George Latimer knew better. Years ago when he was mayor, he was handed a bowl of cornflakes to celebrate the extension of Interstate 35E to Kellogg Boulevard. No thanks, Hizzoner said.
“I didn’t want to plug some out-of-state cereal when the boulevard is, in reality, named after a great Minnesotan, Frank B. Kellogg,” Latimer said.
Frank Kellogg? He was a St. Paul lawyer who lived in Crocus Hill and went on to become a U.S. senator and secretary of state. In 1928, he crafted an international treaty making it a crime for a country to start a war.
OK, so it hasn’t worked exactly the way he hoped. The Axis powers during World War II certainly didn’t let it stand in their way.
But Kellogg won the Nobel Peace Prize for the treaty, which is still on the books and arguably has helped to hold warrior nations accountable — at least when they lose.
The St. Paul City Council unanimously declared Tuesday to be “Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact Day” in the city to mark the treaty’s 85th anniversary. The resolution was sponsored by Council Member Dave Thune and promoted by Steve McKeown, a Vietnam vet long active in the metro chapter of Veterans for Peace.
It’s meant to remind people of Kellogg and the peace movement in the 1920s that gave rise to the treaty, McKeown said.
“The document itself is simple and to the point. It has no loopholes. I can’t think of a better renunciation of war that could be written,” he said.
“Most people don’t know about this pact, even in Minnesota or St. Paul. It’s hard to comply with the law when people don’t know about it.”
On Tuesday, a celebration with speeches, music and refreshments will be held at the old Kellogg house. McKeown said it will be a richly deserved tribute to a forgotten hero.
“A lot of people could have won that Nobel Peace Prize. Frank Kellogg did,” he said.