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Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 270

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This is the grave of Bennett Champ Clark.

Born in 1890 in Bowling Green, Missouri, young Clark’s father was the Democratic power broker Champ Clark, who was Speaker of the House from 1911-19. Unsurprisingly, his son followed him into politics. He graduated from the University of Missouri in 1912 and then the George Washington University Law School in 1914. His dad groomed him from the beginning. In fact, while in law school, he became parliamentarian of the House of Representatives. Now that is some quality nepotism.

Clark joined the military in 1917 to fight in World War I. He was elected a lieutenant colonel of the Missouri National Guard, which was called over to France. There, Clark served on the staff of the 35th and 88th Divisions. He reached the rank of colonel while still in France in 1919. He then became the first national commander of the American Legion, the proto-fascist veterans’ organization that would routinely serve as an anti-worker, anti-democracy strike force over the next two decades, even if today it is known for old vets sitting around drinking cheap beer.

Clark came back to the U.S. in 1919 and started practicing law in St. Louis and then wrote a biography of John Quincy Adams. But the law and biographies were just preparation for what everyone knew was going to be a big time political career. In 1932, Henry Hawes retired from the Senate and Clark ran to replace him. He would serve two terms. Clark became a leader of the isolationist wing in the Senate with probable pro-fascist views. He was a big player in America First and opposed nearly all of FDR’s foreign policy moves except for trade agreements that would help Missouri corn farmers. He and his buddy Gerald Nye of North Dakota actually sponsored legislation to investigate any Hollywood movies that might suggest the U.S. should help the British in the war. This did change during World War II and at the end of the war, he was a leader of the faction in the government who thought Emperor Hirohito should be executed, although that proves nothing about being proto-fascist.

Clark lost the 1944 Democratic primary for his reelection. He did however introduce the GI Bill into the Senate at the end of his term. And even though he lost, the new president, Harry Truman, was nothing if not a man out of the Missouri political machine. They were very close going back decades. Truman was the best man at his second wedding. He was going to make sure Clark was taken care of. He did so by nominating him for a seat on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Clark served on that for the rest of his life. He died in 1954.

Bennett Champ Clark is buried on the confiscated lands of the traitor Lee, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.

If you would like this series to profile more of the less than fine senators involved in America First, you can donate to cover the required expenses here. Nye is in Brentwood, Maryland while Arthur Vandenberg is in a D.C. cemetery. Interesting that none of these guys were buried in their home states, although with Clark it makes sense since it is Arlington. Anyway, previous posts in this series are archived here.

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