William A. Clark

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William Clark
United States Senator
from Montana
In office
March 4, 1901 – March 3, 1907
Preceded byThomas H. Carter
Succeeded byJoseph M. Dixon
In office
March 4, 1899 – May 15, 1900
Preceded byLee Mantle
Succeeded byParis Gibson
Personal details
William Andrews Clark

(1839-01-08)January 8, 1839
Connellsville, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedMarch 2, 1925(1925-03-02) (aged 86)
New York City, U.S.
Resting placeWoodlawn Cemetery
Political partyDemocratic
Katherine Stauffer
(m. 1869; died 1893)

Anna La Chapelle
(m. 1901)
Children9, including Charles, William, Huguette
EducationIowa Wesleyan University

William Andrews Clark Sr. (January 8, 1839 – March 2, 1925) was an American entrepreneur, involved with mining, banking, and railroads, as well as a politician.[1][2]


Clark buying a newspaper, c. 1906

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. In 1862, he traveled west to become a miner.[3] After working in quartz mines in Colorado, in 1863 Clark made his way to new gold fields to find his fortune in the Montana 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 copper mining, small smelters, electric power companies, newspapers, railroads (trolley lines around Butte and the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad from Salt Lake City, Utah to San Pedro and Los Angeles, California), and other businesses, becoming known as one of three "Copper Kings" of Butte, Montana, along with Marcus Daly and F. Augustus Heinze.

The November 1903 Congressional Directory notes that Clark "was a major of a battalion that pursued Chief Joseph and his band in the Nez Perces invasion of 1877."[4]

Between 1884 and 1888, Clark constructed a 34-room, Tiffany-decorated home on West Granite Street, incorporating the most modern inventions available, in Butte, Montana. This home is now the Copper King Mansion bed-and-breakfast, as well as a museum.[5] In 1899, Clark built Columbia Gardens for the children of Butte. It included flower gardens, a dance pavilion, an amusement park, a lake, and picnic areas. An evening scene between characters Arline Simms (played by Anne Francis) and Buz Murdock (played by George Maharis) from the Route 66 television series 1961 episode "A Month of Sundays" was shot on location at Columbia Gardens where she emotionally falls into his arms on the grand staircase. Clark later built a much larger and more extravagant 121-room mansion on Fifth Avenue in New York City, the William A. Clark House.

He died on March 2, 1925, and is interred in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, New York City.

Political career[edit]

Newspaper political cartoon from the October 28, 1900 issue of The Anaconda Standard depicting Clark bribing state legislators by throwing wads of money through hotel transom windows.
Political cartoon depicting Clark bribing state legislators, October 1900

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 non-Masonic vs. 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 legislatures. 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.[4] 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."

Clark died at the age of 86 in his New York City mansion. His estate at his death was estimated to be worth $300 million, (equivalent to $5,006,072,000 in today's dollars)[6], making him one of the wealthiest Americans ever.[7] [8]

In a 1907 essay, Mark Twain, who was a close friend of Clark's rival, Henry H. Rogers, an organizer of the Amalgamated Copper Mining Company,[9] 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.[10]


Clark with his daughters Andrée (left) and Huguette (right), c. 1917
Clark in November 1920 with his daughter, Huguette, donating 135 acres to the Girl Scouts after the death of his daughter Andrée, which was named Camp Andree Clark

Clark was married twice. His first marriage was to Katherine Louise "Kate" Stauffer in 1869 until her death in 1893.[11][12]

Together, they had seven children,[13][14] including Charles Walker Clark and William Andrews Clark Jr.

After Kate's death in 1893, William married his second wife, 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.[15] They had two children:[13][14]

In early 1946, Anna commissioned the Paganini Quartet, and acquired the four famous Stradivarius instruments once owned by Niccolo Paganini for their use.

Clark donated 135 acres to the Girl Scouts in honor of his elder daughter (by his second wife), Louise Amelia Andrée (who died a week before her 17th birthday of meningitis), who had been very happy there. The Girl Scout camp in Briarcliff Manor was named Camp Andree Clark.[17]

William Andrews Clark Jr.[edit]

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[edit]

Huguette (pronounced oo-GETT), born in Paris, France in June 1906, was the youngest child of 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, seldom communicating with the public nor with her extended family. For many years, she lived in three combined apartments, with a total of 42 rooms, on New York's Fifth Avenue at 72nd Street, overlooking Central Park. In 1991, she moved out and for the remainder of her life lived in various New York City hospitals.[18]

In February 2010, she became the subject of a series of reports on MSNBC after it was reported that the caretakers of her three residences (including a $24 million estate in Connecticut, a sprawling seaside estate in Santa Barbara, California and her Fifth Avenue apartments valued at $100 million) had not seen her in decades. These articles were the basis for the 2013 bestselling book Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune. by investigative reporter Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr.

Her final residence was Beth Israel Medical Center, where she died on the morning of May 24, 2011, age 104.[19] Huguette's extraordinary collection of arts and antiquities were consigned to go on the auction block at Christie's in June 2014, over three years after her death.[20]

Walter Clark[edit]

Clark's nephew, Walter Miller Clark, son of James Ross and Miriam Augusta (Evans) Clark, along with Walter's wife, Virginia (McDowell) Clark, were passengers on the RMS Titanic. They were on their honeymoon. He was among the 1,514 who died on April 15, 1912, after the ship struck an iceberg at 2:20 a.m. Walter's wife, Virginia, was rescued by the RMS Carpathia, and arrived in New York City a widow.

Some of Mr. Clark's personal items were retrieved in the debris field during an expedition to the site of the sinking in 1994. They were identified by engraved initials. They included shaving soap, toiletry items, cuff links, and gambling chips.[21]


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.

Clark County, Nevada[edit]

The city of Las Vegas was established as a maintenance stop for Clark's San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad. He subdivided 110 acres (45 ha) into 1200 lots, some of which on the corner of Fremont Street in Las Vegas sold for as much as $1750. The Las Vegas area was organized as Clark County, Nevada, in Clark's honor. Clark's involvement in the founding of Las Vegas is recounted in a decidedly negative light by Chris Romano in the "Las Vegas" episode of Comedy Central's Drunk History, with Rich Fulcher portraying Clark.

Clarkdale, Arizona[edit]

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 and home to the Copper Art Museum.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Copper King William A. Clark". Copper King Mansion. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved July 31, 2011.
  2. ^ Klepper, Michael; Gunther, Michael (1996), The Wealthy 100: From Benjamin Franklin to Bill Gates—A Ranking of the Richest Americans, Past and Present, Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Publishing Group, p. xiii, ISBN 978-0-8065-1800-8, OCLC 33818143
  3. ^ Dedman, Bill (2013). Empty Mansions (Paperback ed.). New York: Ballantine Books. p. 22. ISBN 978-0-345-53453-8.
  4. ^ a b "S. Doc. 58-1 - Fifty-eighth Congress. (Extraordinary session -- beginning November 9, 1903.) Official Congressional Directory for the use of the United States Congress. Compiled under the direction of the Joint Committee on Printing by A.J. Halford. Special edition. Corrections made to November 5, 1903". GovInfo.gov. U.S. Government Printing Office. November 9, 1903. p. 66. Retrieved July 2, 2023.
  5. ^ Tribune Staff. "125 Montana Newsmakers: The Copper Kings". Great Falls Tribune. Retrieved August 28, 2011.
  6. ^ 1634–1699: McCusker, J. J. (1997). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States: Addenda et Corrigenda (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1700–1799: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1800–present: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved May 28, 2023.
  7. ^ Matt Schudel, Huguette Clark, copper heiress and recluse, dies at 104, The Washington Post, May 24, 2011; retrieved November 15, 2017.
  8. ^ Pitts, Stanley Thomas (May 2006). An Unjust Legacy: A Critical Study of the Political Campaigns of William Andrews Clark, 1888-1901 (PDF). University of North Texas: M.S. thesis. p. 205. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  9. ^ Dias, Elias (1984). Mark Twain and Henry Huttleston Rogers: An Odd Couple. Fairhaven, Massachusetts: Millicent Library. LCCN 84062878.
  10. ^ "Senator Clark of Montana." In Mark Twain in Eruption, ed Bernard DeVoto, 1940.
  11. ^ "Daughter of Connellsville's controversial billionaire dies". The Tribune-Review. May 28, 2011. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  12. ^ Hopkins, A.D. (February 7, 1999). "William Andrews Clark (1839-1925): Montana Midas". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Archived from the original on November 17, 1999. Retrieved July 21, 2021.
  13. ^ a b Bill Dedman; Paul Clark Newell, Jr. (2013). Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune. Random House Publishing Group. ISBN 9780345545565. Retrieved January 26, 2022.
  14. ^ a b "The Family of W. A. Clark" (PDF). Penguin Random House. Retrieved January 26, 2022.
  15. ^ "At 104, mysterious heiress is alone now - Business - Local business - Huguette Clark mystery - NBC News". NBC News. August 19, 2010.
  16. ^ Dedman, Bill (May 24, 2011), Huguette Clark, the reclusive copper heiress, dies at 104, MSNBC, archived from the original on January 1, 2012, retrieved May 24, 2011
  17. ^ "Camp Andree Clark". Archived from the original on May 28, 2011. Retrieved December 23, 2013.
  18. ^ Dedman, Bill (2013). Empty mansions : the mysterious life of Huguette Clark and the spending of a great American fortune (First ed.). New York. ISBN 978-0345534521.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  19. ^ Fanelli, James (September 7, 2010), "Huguette Clark's lawyer fires back at relatives who want him ousted", New York Daily News, retrieved September 8, 2010
  20. ^ "Eccentric Heiress's Untouched Treasures Head For The Auction Block", National Public Radio, Margot Adler, June 17, 2014. Retrieved June 22, 2014.
  21. ^ Gillan, Jeff (April 10, 2017). "Titanic sank 105 years ago this Saturday, taking a piece of Las Vegas with it".
  22. ^ Peterson, Hellen Palmer (May 2008). Landscapes of Capital: Culture in an Industrial Western Company Town, Clarkdale, Arizona, 1914-1929. Northern Arizona University: Ph.D. dissertation. p. 214. ISBN 9780549679448. Retrieved October 22, 2016.


External links[edit]

U.S. Senate
Preceded by U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Montana
Served alongside: Thomas H. Carter
Succeeded by
Preceded by U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Montana
Served alongside: Paris Gibson, Thomas H. Carter
Succeeded by