JOSEPH S. CLARK, JR.: UNITED
STATES SENATOR AND MAYOR OF PHILADELPHIA
by Thomas Blair, Harvard
S. Clark. Courtesy of the Harvard University Archives
Joseph S. Clark, Jr.
was a lifelong member of the Unitarian Society of Germantown in
Philadelphia, where he was born in 1901. He attended Middlesex
School in Massachusetts, matriculating at Harvard in 1919. Clark
graduated magna cum laude with a special award for his leadership
as a student athlete, and went on to earn an LLB degree from the
University of Pennsylvania in 1926.
career in Philadelphia took off quickly. He joined the Air Force
in World War II, however, in which he became a captain and was,
in his own words, pushed gently upwards to a soft and delightful
staff job with the rank of colonel." As such, he traveled
all over the world, and earned the Bronze Star, the Order of the
British Empire, and the Honorary Wings of the Chinese Air Force,
and other medals.
Despite his extraordinary
success in the military, Clark returned to domestic affairs, campaigning
for Democratic candidates before joining the fray himself. I
have been very busy, Clark wrote to his Harvard classmates
at the time of their twenty-fifth reunion in 1948, practicing
all kinds of law and trying to raise a family. Clark was
not to become any less busy in the years that followed, as victories
in mayoral and
congressional elections saw him deeply entrenched in politics.
victory came in 1952, when he overturned a longstanding Republican
hold on Philadelphia politics by winning the mayoral election.
Clark battled corruption in local government throughout his time
in office, taking on Republicans and Democrats alike as he dismantled
the citys political machine. Remembered as a
reform mayor, Clark introduced to his office such revolutionary
notions as refusing to accept personal gifts and insisting
that he would only remain in office one term, lest concern for
reelection should make him preoccupied with unimportant issues.
In his first month
in office, one journalist recalls, Clark received
a portrait of himself, 25 passes to a sportsmens show, a
colored photograph of the Liberty Bell, season passes to two theaters,
and a pass for the city transportation system. All were returned
to the donors.
of the Harvard University Archives.
Clark held to his promise
to remain in office only one term, but his political career continuedin
Washington. In 1956 as in 52, Clark inspired an end to the
Pennsylvanian tradition of electing Republicans, ascending to
the 85th United States Congress. Hailed by the United Press as
a political Jack the Giant Killer, Clark remained
an ardent Democrat. You just cant get anything done
in the Republican Party, he said. Clark was reelected in
1962, but failed to win in 1968.
He moved on to become
a professor at Temple University the following year. In the remaining
twenty years of his life, Clark served as president of the World
Federalists, U.S.A., continuing his involvement in local, national,
and international politics. Honored with degrees from Temple University,
Harvard University, Haverford College, and the University of Pennsylvania,
Clark left the legacy of Members of Congress for Peace through
Law, an organization he founded while in office. The legacy for
which he is best remembered, however, is his dedication to reform
in a corrupt communitythe work of an honest politician.
Senator from Pennsylvania; born in Philadelphia, Pa., October
21, 1901; attended Chestnut Hill Academy; was graduated from
Middlesex School in 1919, Harvard University in 1923, and
the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1926; was admitted
to the bar in 1926 and commenced the practice of law in Philadelphia,
Pa.; during the Second World War served with the United States
Army Air Corps 1941-1945, attaining the rank of colonel; city
controller of Philadelphia 1950-1952; mayor of Philadelphia
1952-1956; member of board of overseers, Harvard University
1953-1958; elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate
in 1956; reelected in 1962 and served from January 3, 1957,
to January 3, 1969; unsuccessful candidate for reelection
in 1968; professor, Temple University 1969; president, World
Federalists, U.S.A., 1969-1971; was a resident of Philadelphia,
Pa., until his death, January 12, 1990.
Joseph S. The Senate Establishment. New York: Hill
and Wang, 1963; Clark, Joseph S. Congress: The Sapless
Branch. New York: Harper and Row, 1964.
of the U.S. Senate Historical Office