Henry Toole Clark

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Henry Toole Clark
Henry Toole Clark.jpg
36th Governor of North Carolina
In office
July 7, 1861 – September 8, 1862
Preceded by John Willis Ellis
Succeeded by Zebulon Baird Vance
Personal details
Born Henry Toole Clark
(1808-02-07)February 7, 1808
Edgecombe County, North Carolina
Died April 14, 1874(1874-04-14) (aged 66)
Edgecombe County, North Carolina
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Mary Weeks Hargrave
Children 5
Alma mater University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Profession Planter, politician

Henry Toole Clark (February 7, 1808 – April 14, 1874) was the 36th Governor of the U.S. state of North Carolina from 1861 to 1862 during the American Civil War.

Henry T. Clark was born to a prominent Edgecombe County, North Carolina, planter family. His father, James West Clark, served as a US Congressman and later as a Navy Department official in the Andrew Jackson administration. The Clarks were members of that elite planter class that dominated social and political thought in eastern North Carolina. Henry Clark devoted over twenty years to the service of the Democratic Party at the local, state, and national levels, and over ten years as a state senator.

Clark attended The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he was a member of Dialectic Society. He graduated with honors in 1826 and later earned an A. M. in 1832. He joined the bar a year later, though he rarely practiced. He spent most of his time managing the family's extensive land and slave holdings in North Carolina, Alabama, and Tennessee. The Clarks owned as many as sixty-two slaves, many of whom were hired out to others for their labor.

In 1861, Clark was Speaker of the North Carolina Senate. When state governor John W. Ellis died in office, Clark succeeded him (as was the law at the time). He served as the state’s chief executive from July 1861 to September 1862, a crucial period in which North Carolina established itself as a constituent member of the Confederate States and first suffered the hardships of war. As the leader of the state in that formative period, he mobilized thousands of soldiers for the Southern cause, established the only Confederate prison in North Carolina, arranged the production of salt for the war effort, created European purchasing connections, and built a successful and important gunpowder mill. The conservative Clark, however, found more success as an administrator than as a political figure. As governor, he was unable to maneuver in the new political world ushered in by the Civil War, and he retired abruptly from public service at the end of his term in September 1862.

In his later years, he served the local Democratic party and returned for one term as a state senator in 1866. Clark died at his home near Tarboro, North Carolina.


  • Poteat, R. Matthew, "A Modest Estimate of His Own Abilities: Governor Henry Toole Clark and Civil War North Carolina," The North Carolina Historical Review, 84 (1) and 84 (2) (January and April 2007)
  • Poteat, R. Matthew, Henry Toole Clark: Civil War Governor of North Carolina (McFarland Press, 2009) ISBN 978-0-7864-3728-3
Political offices
Preceded by
William Waightstill Avery
Speaker of the North Carolina Senate
Succeeded by
Giles Mebane
Preceded by
John W. Ellis
Governor of North Carolina
Succeeded by
Zebulon B. Vance