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Lincoln Clark Papers: Finding Aid
mssCL 1-702  
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
This collection contains the letters of American lawyer and politician Lincoln Clark (1800-1886), his wife, Julia Annah Clark, and their family, with the bulk of the collection consisting of Clark's letters to his wife. There is also material related to Julia Clark's relatives in the the Smith and Williams families. Subject matter includes: New England religious principles over multiple generations; life in Massachusetts (1758-1836), Alabama (1837-1847), Iowa (1848-1851), Washington, D.C. (1852-1853), and Illinois; the financial depression of the late 1850s; Julia Clark's work with the United States Sanitary Commission (1864-1865).
Background
Lincoln Clark (1800-1886), a lawyer and Democratic legislator, was born in Conway, Franklin County, Massachusetts, the son of Elisha Clark (who had traced his ancestry to the Mayflower) and Lucinda Keith. Clark studied with Rev. Moses Hallock of Plainfield, Massachusetts, and then attended the Hopkins Academy in Hadley. In 1820, he taught school at Plainfield and Patterson. He graduated from Amherst College in 1825, and soon left for North Carolina where he studied law with Nathaniel Boyden and worked as a teacher. In 1831, Clark moved to Alabama; he soon was admitted to the state bar and settled a law practice in Pickensville. In 1834, he was elected to the state legislature and served one term. In June 1836, while visiting New England, Lincoln Clark met Julia Annah Smith (born 1812), daughter of Erastus Smith, a successful merchant and selectman of Hadley, Mass., and Sarah Chester Williams. The couple was married in September 1836 in New York and immediately left for Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where Clark had established a busy law practice in partnership with E. Woolsey Peck. In 1839, the state legislature elected him attorney general, and in 1846 the governor appointed him a circuit judge. The Clarks started contemplating moving north in 1843 not wishing "to die and leave our children in a slaveholding country." Although he disapproved of slavery, he thought that only "the silent workings of the religion of Christ" could put an end to it. He sympathized with the "Southern people" who, he felt, were too victimized by slavery "fastened upon them." In 1846, Clark made his decision to move to Iowa rather than Illinois, which he disliked as a seat of "bigoted, fanatical abolition." His wife and children left in the fall for Massachusetts in 1846; Clark remained in Alabama to close his law practice and dispose of his property which included family slaves whom he decided to hire out "until they earn nearly what they cost me and then set them free." He moved to Dubuque, Iowa in 1848, and his family joined him. Clark established a successful practice and served as the president and a director of the Dubuque and Western Railroad. In 1851, he was elected as a Democrat to the Thirty-second Congress; his reelection bids in 1852 and 1853 were unsuccessful. In 1857, Clark was elected to the Iowa House of Representatives. He supported Stephen A. Douglas in the 1860 presidential election, but during the Civil War, sided with War Democrats. In 1862, the family moved to Chicago where Clark resumed the practice of law. In 1866, he was appointed United States register in bankruptcy. He retired in 1869, following an attack of typhoid fever and returned to Conway, Mass. In 1837, Clark who had come from a Congregationalist family joined the Presbyterian church. He was soon ordained an elder and later was a member of the General Assembly of Presbyterian Church. Clark also was an early trustee of Northwestern (McCormick) Theological Seminary in Chicago.
Extent
695 pieces + printed materials and ephemera in 9 boxes
Restrictions
The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.
Availability
Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.