Edgar E. Clark

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Edgar Erastus Clark (February 18, 1856 – December 1, 1930) was an American attorney, government official, and union official, who served on the Interstate Commerce Commission from 1906 to 1921, and was its chairman during 1913–1914 and 1918–1921.

Clark was born in Lima, New York, on February 18, 1856, and attended Williams College.[1] He would later receive a law degree.[2] In 1872, he went West, eventually settling in Iowa,[1] and after serving as a brakeman on various railroads, became a conductor on the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad in 1884. In 1888, he was elected Grand Senior Conductor of the Order of Railway Conductors, and in 1890 became Grand Chief Conductor of the Order.[1] Clark would hold that position until 1906.[2] He was succeeded as president on September 1, 1906, by Austin B. Garretson.[3]

Governmental career[edit]

Clark's former residence (left) in the Dupont Circle residence of Washington, D.C.

Clark involved himself in lobbying, and received credit for the 1898 enactment of a Mediation and Arbitration Act, which provided for a permanent board to settle disputes between railways and their employees.[1] In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt, apparently impressed by a speech he had given to a railwaymen's convention which Roosevelt had attended, named Clark (a Republican in politics) to the Coal Arbitration Commission to settle an ongoing strike, an appointment which excited considerable comment.[1]

In 1906, Roosevelt nominated Clark to one of two new seats on the Interstate Commerce Commission created by the Hepburn Act. Clark received a recess appointment from Roosevelt and was sworn in on July 31, 1906.[4] He was confirmed by the Senate on December 13, 1906.[1] President William Howard Taft attempted to reappoint Clark, but his confirmation was held up in a dispute between the lame-duck President and Congress after the 1912 elections, with the Senate determined to deny Taft any further appointments.[1] Nonetheless, Clark was immediately reappointed as Commissioner by the new President, Woodrow Wilson, on March 5, 1913, and was confirmed by the Senate the same day.[1] The following day, the ICC commissioners elected Clark as chairman, filling out the remainder of the one-year term which had been left vacant by the resignation of ICC Chairman Franklin Knight Lane, who had been confirmed as Secretary of the Interior.[1]

In 1918, Clark was again elected Commission chairman. While the chairmanship had been rotating, in view of Clark's long service, the practice was abandoned, and Clark remained chairman until his 1921 resignation.[1]

Later life[edit]

In 1921, Clark resigned from the Commission to enter the practice of commercial law.[1] It was stated that the reasons for his resignation were to alleviate the stress of his position, and to make provision for his family.[1]

In 1929, Clark retired from the firm of Clark & Laroe and in June moved to Monrovia, California, where he died on December 1, 1930, leaving a widow, Agnes Clark, and three sons and three daughters.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Mr. Clark's qualifications (PDF), The New York Times, October 17, 1902, retrieved 2009-02-28 [dead link]
  2. ^ a b c Edgar E. Clark dead, The New York Times, December 2, 1930, retrieved 2009-02-28 
  3. ^ "Former O.R.C. Chief dies of Heart Trouble". Cedar Rapids Gazette. 27 February 1931. Retrieved 2013-08-07. 
  4. ^ Interstate Commerce Commission, United States (1914), Table of Cases and Opinions of the Interstate Commerce Commission, p. 5, retrieved 2009-03-02