William A. Clark, a Montana Senator and a mining capitalist, formed the Colorado and Montana Smelting Company. Whereas most miners skipped the less valuable copper in favor of gold, he invested heavily in that metal by buying discarded mines. He used his profits to invest in banking, real estate and ranching.
He pushed for Montana statehood and at one point, served as its acting Governor. Clark served as president of both Montana state constitutional conventions in 1884 and 1889. Clark yearned to be a statesman and used his newspaper, the Butte Miner, to push his political ambitions. He became a hero in Helena, Montana, by campaigning for its election as the state capital instead of Anaconda. Clark's long-standing dream of becoming a United States Senator resulted in scandal in 1899 when it was revealed that he bribed members of the Montana State Legislature in return for their votes. At the time, U.S. Senators were chosen by their respective state legislators. The U.S. Senate refused to seat Clark because of the 1899 bribery scheme, but a later senate campaign was successful, and he served a single, undistinguished term from 1901 until 1907.
He is best known for his long-time feud with Marcus Daly, which ranged across business and politics.
Clark died at the age of 86 in his mansion on Fifth Avenue in New York City, one of the 50 richest Americans ever. His art collection was donated to the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C. after his death, importantly enriched that museum's holdings of European as well as American art. The Clark donation also included the construction of a new wing for the Corcoran, known appropriately as the Clark Wing. We are currently offering the following pieces signed by William A. Clark: