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 Texas : Features : Columns : All Things Historical :

MR. AMBASSADOR
Edward Aubrey Clark of San Augustine

by Archie P. McDonald
Archie McDonald Ph.D.
East Texas has produced two remarkable men named Ed Clark. Today's subject is Edward Aubrey Clark of San Augustine and Austin.

I knew "Mr. Ed" primarily from our years of service together on the Executive Council of the Texas State Historical Association. One would never have guessed his wealth or political power from his appearance, but by then he was senior partner in one of Texas' leading law firms and a board member of Texas Commerce Bank and could dress just as he wished. Mr. Ed was born in San Augustine and proud of it. When one met him, it took about two minutes for him to learn if you had ever even visited San Augustine.

Mr. Ed attended Southwestern University and Tulane, then received a law degree from the University of Texas. He began a legal practice in San Augustine, served two terms as county attorney, then moved to Austin in 1932 to become an assistant attorney general. In 1935 Mr. Ed joined the staff of Governor James Allred, who later appointed him secretary of state in 1937. Mr. Ed formed the firm of Clark, Thomas, and Winters in 1938, and it quickly became one of the most influential firms in Texas, partly because of his participation on Texas politics. Mr. Ed became the person to see in Austin about access to the state's political leaders, including Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Clark represented the future president in litigation stemming from Johnson's controversial victory over Coke Stevenson for a US Senate seat in 1948. Clark also was involved with the political careers of Governor Allan Shivers, Senator and later Governor Price Daniel, and other conservative Democrats from the 1930s through the 1980s.

President Johnson appointed Clark ambassador to Australia in 1965, and Mr. Ed was charmed by the Aussies and they were by him. He found them much like the East Texans he had known all his life.

Mr. Ed spoke with a slight lisp, and I can hear it now, from 1985, as we were moving from a TSHA luncheon at which James A. Michener had heaped praise on a little monograph I had written titled The Trail To San Jacinto. My good friend, and at that point green-eyed friend Ben Procter, kept asking, "What did you do to get him to say all that?" I said, "We fed him dinner."

From the back of the elevator came Mr. Ed's comment: "Iąd say you got your money's worth!"


© Archie P. McDonald
All Things Historical > July 13, 2004 column
A syndicated column in over 70 East Texas newspapers

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