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
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
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
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!"
P. McDonald, PhD
Things Historical July
13, 2004 column
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