William A. Clark

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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 buying newspaper, circa 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. 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 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 and museum.[3] In 1899 Clark built the Columbia Gardens for the children of Butte. It included flower gardens, a dance pavilion, amusement park, lake, and picnic areas.

Political career[edit]

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

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

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 962 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]


Clark with his daughters Huguette Clark (right) and Andrée (left) c. 1917

William married Katherine Louise "Kate" Stauffer (1844 Pennsylvania – 1893 New York). They had seven children:

  • Mary Joaquina (May) Clark Culver Kling de Brabant (January 1870 Montana – December 19, 1939 New York)
  • Charles Walker (Charlie) Clark (November 3, 1871 Montana – April 3, 1933 New York)
  • Unnamed son (1874–1874)[6]
  • Jessie Clark (1875–1878)[6]
  • William Andrews Clark, Jr. (March 29, 1877 Montana – June 14, 1934 California)
  • Paul Francis Clark (January 1880 France – 1896)
  • Katherine "Katie" Louise Clark Morris (May 11, 1875 Montana – c. 1933 New York) (m. Dr. Lewis Rutherford Morris 1862-1936)[7]

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.[8] They had two children:

  • Louise Amelia Andrée Clark (August 13, 1902 San Lucas, Spain – August 6, 1919 Rangeley, Maine); died of meningitis
  • Huguette Marcelle Clark (June 9, 1906 Paris, France – May 24, 2011, New York City).[9]
Clark with his daughter, Huguette, donating 135 acres to the Girl Scouts after his daughter's (Andrée) death. It was named Camp Andree Clark, November 26, 1920

William Clark donated 135 acres to the Girl Scouts because his daughter, Louise Amelia Andrée, had been very happy there. The Girl Scout camp in Briarcliff Manor was named Camp Andree Clark.[10]

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]

Main article: Huguette 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 three magnificent apartments, with a total of 42 rooms, on New York's Fifth Avenue at 72nd Street, overlooking Central Park. In 1991, she moved out of her apartments 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 msnbc.com 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, a sprawling seaside estate in Santa Barbara, California and her Fifth Avenue apartments valued at $100 million. 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.

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.[11]

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

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.

Clark County, Nevada, and art collection[edit]

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. He subdivided 110 acres 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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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 
  2. ^ "Copper King William A. Clark". Copper King Mansion. Retrieved July 31, 2011. 
  3. ^ Tribune Staff. "125 Montana Newsmakers: The Copper Kings". Great Falls Tribune. Retrieved August 28, 2011. 
  4. ^ The Washington Post, May 25, 2011, "Metro: Obituary" page B7, "Huguette Clark, 104: Copper heiress lived in opulent isolation".
  5. ^ "Senator Clark of Montana." In Mark Twain in Eruption, ed Bernard DeVoto, 1940.
  6. ^ a b The Family of W.A. Clark (PDF) 
  7. ^ "Glendale Pioneers". Retrieved 22 June 2014.
  8. ^ http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38719231/ns/business-small_business/
  9. ^ Dedman, Bill (May 24, 2011), Huguette Clark, the reclusive copper heiress, dies at 104, msnbc.com, retrieved May 24, 2011 
  10. ^ http://www.vintagegirlscout.com/siteandree.html
  11. ^ "Eccentric Heiress's Untouched Treasures Head For The Auction Block", National Public Radio, Margot Adler, June 17, 2014. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
  12. ^ Fanelli, James (September 7, 2010), Huguette Clark's lawyer fires back at relatives who want him ousted, NYDailyNews.com, retrieved September 8, 2010 


External links[edit]

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