JAMES PAUL CLARKE, Arkansas’ 18th governor, was born in Yazoo City, Mississippi, on August 18, 1854. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 1878, with a degree in law. Clarke moved to Arkansas in 1879, and started a successful practice in Helena. He entered politics in 1886, when he was elected to two terms in the Arkansas House of Representatives. Clarke was elected to the Arkansas Senate in 1888, serving as president of the senate in 1891. In 1892 he was elected to the attorney general’s office and served until 1895. Clarke was elected Governor of Arkansas on September 3, 1894. During his tenure in office, he crusaded to prevent prizefighting in Arkansas. Clarke advocated four-year terms for state and county offices, quadrennial instead of biennial sessions for the general assembly, and a constitutional provision for a tax on franchises; however, the legislature did not pass any of these bills. Clarke did not seek reelection, but instead ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 1896. He ran again for the U.S. Senate in 1902, and this time he was elected. Clarke won reelection in 1909, and again in 1914, and served as president pro tempore of the senate in 1913 and 1915. James P. Clarke died at his home in Little Rock, on October 1, 1916, after a four-day illness. He is buried at the Oakland Cemetery, Little Rock, Arkansas.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 1, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
Donovan, Timothy P., and Willard B. Gatewood, Jr., The Governors of Arkansas, Essays in Political Biography, Fayetteville; The University of Arkansas Press, 1981
Herndon, Dallas T., Centennial History of Arkansas, Vol. 1, Chicago, Little Rock, The S.J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1922. 3 vols.
Old State House Museum