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William Andrews Clark


William Andrews Clark

For other people named William Clark, see William Clark (disambiguation).

William A. Clark
United States Senator
from Montana
In office
March 4, 1899 – May 15, 1900
March 4, 1901 – March 4, 1907
Preceded by Lee Mantle
Thomas H. Carter
Succeeded by Paris Gibson
Joseph M. Dixon
Personal details
Born William Andrews Clark
(1839-01-08)January 8, 1839
Connellsville, Pennsylvania
Died March 2, 1925(1925-03-02) (aged 86)
New York City, New York
Resting place Woodlawn Cemetery
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Catherine "Kate" Clark, Anna Eugenia La Chapelle Clark
Children William Andrews Clark, Jr., Andrée Clark, Huguette M. Clark, Charles W. Clark, Katherine Clark Morris, Mary J. Clark
Alma mater Iowa Wesleyan College
Net worth USD $150 million at the time of his death (approximately 1/609th of US GNP)[1]

William Andrews Clark, Sr. (January 8, 1839 – March 2, 1925) was an American politician and entrepreneur, involved with mining, banking, and railroads.[2]


Clark was born in Connellsville, Pennsylvania. He moved with his family to Iowa in 1856 where he taught school and studied law at Iowa Wesleyan College. After working in quartz mines in Colorado, in 1863, Clark made his way to Montana to find his fortune in the gold rush.

He settled in the capital of Montana Territory, Bannack, Montana, and began placer mining. Though his claim paid only moderately, Clark invested his earnings in becoming a trader, driving mules back and forth between Salt Lake City and the boomtowns of Montana to transport eggs and other basic supplies.

He soon changed careers again and became a banker in Deer Lodge, Montana. He repossessed mining properties when owners defaulted on their loans, placing him in the mining industry. He made a fortune with small smelters, electric power companies, newspapers, railroads and other businesses, becoming known as one of three "Copper Kings" of Butte, Montana, along with Marcus Daly and F. Augustus Heinze.

Between 1884 and 1888, Clark constructed a 34-room, Tiffany-decorated, multimillion dollar home, incorporating the most modern inventions available, in Butte, Montana. This home is now the Copper King Mansion bed-and-breakfast and museum.[3]

Political career

Clark served as president of both Montana state constitutional conventions in 1884 and 1889.

Clark yearned to be a statesman and used his newspaper, the Butte Miner, to push his political ambitions. At this time, Butte was one of the largest cities in the West. He became a hero in Helena, Montana, by campaigning for its selection as the state capital instead of Anaconda. This battle for the placement of the capital had subtle Irish vs. English, Catholic vs. Protestant, and Masonic vs. non-Masonic elements. Clark's long-standing dream of becoming a United States Senator resulted in scandal in 1899 when it was revealed that he bribed members of the Montana State Legislature in return for their votes. At the time, U.S. Senators were chosen by their respective state legislators. The corruption of his election contributed to the passage of the 17th Amendment. The U.S. Senate refused to seat Clark because of the 1899 bribery scheme, but a later senate campaign was successful, and he served a single term from 1901 until 1907. In responding to criticism of his bribery of the Montana legislature, Clark is reported to have said, "I never bought a man who wasn't for sale."[4]

Clark died at the age of 86 in his mansion at 952 Fifth Avenue in New York City, one of the 50 richest Americans ever.

In an 1907 essay Mark Twain portrayed Clark as the very embodiment of Gilded Age excess and corruption:

He is as rotten a human being as can be found anywhere under the flag; he is a shame to the American nation, and no one has helped to send him to the Senate who did not know that his proper place was the penitentiary, with a ball and chain on his legs. To my mind he is the most disgusting creature that the republic has produced since Tweed's time.[5]


William married Catherine Louise "Kate" Stauffer (1840 Pennsylvania - 1893 New York). They had the following children;

After Kate's death, William married the woman who had been his teenage ward, Anna Eugenia La Chapelle (March 10, 1878 Michigan - October 11, 1963 New York). They claimed to have been married in 1901 in France. Anna was 23 and William was 62.[10] They had two children;

William Andrews Clark, Jr.

Clark's son, William Andrews Clark, Jr., founder of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1919, left his library of rare books and manuscripts to the regents of the University of California, Los Angeles. Today, the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library specializes in English literature and history from 1641 to 1800, materials related to Oscar Wilde and his associates, and fine printing.

Huguette Marcelle Clark

Main article: Huguette M. Clark

Born in Paris, France, in June 1906, Huguette (pronounced: oo-GETT) was known as a reclusive heiress, the youngest child of former U.S. Senator William A. Clark with his second wife, Anna Eugenia La Chapelle. She married once, but divorced less than a year later. She led a reclusive life thereafter, communicating little even with family. She lived in a magnificent 42-room Manhattan apartments on New York's Fifth Avenue at 72nd Street, overlooking Central Park. In 1988, she moved out of her apartment and lived the remainder of her life, voluntarily, in New York City hospitals.

In February 2010, she became the subject of a series of reports on after caretakers at all three of her residences had not seen her in decades despite the fact she controlled a net worth estimated at $500 million, including a $24 million estate in Connecticut, and her Fifth Avenue apartment valued at $100 million. These articles were the basis for the 2013 book Empty Mansions.

Her final residence was Beth Israel Medical Center where she died on the morning of May 24, 2011. She was 104.[12]

Clarkdale, Arizona

Clarkdale, Arizona, named for Clark, was the site of smelting operations for Clark's mines in nearby Jerome, Arizona. The town includes the historic Clark Mansion, which sustained severe fire damage on June 25, 2010. Clarkdale is home to the Verde Canyon Railroad wilderness train ride which follows the historic route that Clark had constructed in 1911.

Clark County, Nevada, and art collection

Clark's art collection was donated to the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C. after his death, greatly enriching that museum's holdings of European as well as American art. The Clark donation also included the construction of a new wing for the Corcoran, known appropriately as the Clark Wing.

The city of Las Vegas was established as a maintenance stop for Clark's San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad. The Las Vegas area was organized as Clark County, Nevada, in Clark's honor.

See also

Biography portal



External links

  • Biographical Sketch
  • An special report on the Clarks: An American story of wealth, scandal and mystery
  • Find a Grave

Preceded by
Lee Mantle
United States Senator (Class 1) from Montana
Served alongside: Thomas H. Carter
Succeeded by
Paris Gibson
Preceded by
Thomas H. Carter
United States Senator (Class 2) from Montana
Served alongside: Paris Gibson, Thomas H. Carter
Succeeded by
Joseph M. Dixon

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