Clarke, Sidney, one of the early members of Congress from Kansas, was born at Southbridge, Mass., Oct. 16, 1831. He was not given the advantages of a liberal education, and at the age of eighteen left his father's farm to work in a general store in Worcester. While thus employed he studied nights, and within a short time began to write for the press. He soon gained recognition as a versatile and forcible writer, and joined a young men's literary society, where his natural ability as a debater quickly developed. In 1854 he returned to his native town and started a weekly newspaper known as the "Southbridge Press," which flourished for five years. He became an active member of the Free Soil patty, casting his first vote for Hale and Julian in 1852. In the campaign of 1856 he actively supported Gen. Fremont. In the spring of 1858 Mr. Clark's health became impaired and upon the advice of his physician. he went west, locating at Lawrence, Kan., the following spring. His interest in politics began to assert itself immediately, and he became an ardent supporter of the Radical wing of the Free-State party. In 1862 he was elected to the state legislature. The following year President Lincoln appointed him adjutant-general of volunteers, and he was assigned to duty as acting assistant provost marshal general for the District of Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado and Dakota, with headquarters at Fort Leavenworth. The same year he was made chairman of the Republican state committee, a position previously held by the ablest of the old free-state leaders. From this time on Mr. Clarke was a conspicuous political figure in Kansas. In 1864 he was elected to Congress and reëlected for two succeeding terms. He was always alive to the interests of his constituency while in Congress, and was an able, faithful representative of a commonwealth extensive in territory, with diversified interests and developing resources. In Congress Mr. Clarke was chairman of the house committee on Indian affairs and a member of the Pacific railroad commission. He participated in all the leading conflicts which made the history of Congress memorable during the six years he served in that body. The defeat of the Osage Indian treaty and the passage of the Clark bill saved to Kansas much of her public school lands. During his three terms in Congress Mr. Clarke was the only representative from Kansas and he referred proudly to himself as "the sole representative of my imperial state." He was in Congress at the time of the assassination of President Lincoln, of whom he was a close friend, and was placed on the committee that accompanied the body to its last resting place. He was defeated for election to Congress in 1870, but was elected to the state legislature in 1878 and made speaker of the house. In 1898 he removed to Oklahoma, and few men had a more powerful hand in shaping the destinies of the new state. He united his fortunes with the west at an early day and was an ideal pioneer in both Kansas and Oklahoma. Mr. Clarke was twice married. In 1860 he married Miss Henrietta Ross at Lawrence, and four children were born to this union: George Lincoln, Sydney, Jr., Lulu Louise and Ella Maria. Mrs. Clarke died in 1873 and in 1881 Mr. Clarke married Miss Dora Goulding of Topeka. One daughter, Josie, was born to them. Mr. Clarke died in Oklahoma City, Okla., June 19, 1909.Pages 360-361 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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