James Clarke, third Governor of the Territory of Iowa, was born July 5, 1812, in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. When a boy he learned the printer's trade and worked in the State printing office in Harrisburg. In 1836 he went to St. Louis and found employment on the Missouri Republican. Upon the organization of Wisconsin Territory he went to Belmont, then the Capital, and in company with John B. Russell established the Belmont Gazette, a Democratic weekly newspaper. The first number was issued October 25, 1836. Its proprietors were chosen State Printers for the Territorial Legislature. The Capitol was soon after removed to Burlington on the west side of the Mississippi, and Mr. Clarke repaired to that place and established the Wisconsin Territorial Gazette in 1837. This was the first newspaper published at Burlington and the Daily Gazette of that city has grown from that establishment. The public printing was given to Mr. Clarke and he was appointed by Governor Dodge Territorial Librarian. James W. Grimes was his assistant in the library. Upon the death of William B. Conway, Secretary of the Territory of Iowa in November, 1839, Mr. Clarke was appointed by the President his successor. He was mayor of Burlington in 1844 and was chosen a delegate to the First Constitutional Convention which assembled in October, 1844. On the 18th of November, 1845, Mr. Clarke was appointed by President Polk Governor of the Territory of Iowa. The Constitution of 1844, having been rejected by the people, a second Constitution framed in 1846 was adopted and on the 28th of December Governor Clarke retired from office upon the inauguration of the new State government.
In 1848 Governor Clarke resumed the management of the Burlington Gazette and served as a delegate to the National Democratic Convention which nominated Lewis Cass for President.
In July, 1850, Burlington was visited by the cholera, from which Governor Clarke's wife and youngest son died. A few days later the Governor was seized with the disease and he, too, died on the 28th of the same month, at the early age of thirty-eight.
The following General Assembly gave his name to the new county adjoining Lucas and thus the names of the first and last Territorial Governors of Iowa were perpetuated side by side.
(An Illustrated History of the State of Iowa, 1876)
Submitted By: Cathy Danielson
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