John B. Clarke by John W. Moore

Among the various pursuits of the American people there can be no one which ranks higher in a literary point of view than journalism. Once the orator, the teacher, the learned adviser, and the judge had the greater influence among the people; but now the newspaper, as a power in civilization and culture, exceeds all other influences, for journalism has become, in this country, a most potent agency for good, and editors now, far more than statesmen, teachers, or ecclesiastics, are the guides of current opinion. It was at one time a common saying in England, that "America is too much governed by newspapers." Thomas Jefferson, hearing this assertion, answered, "I would rather live in a country with newspapers and without a government, than in a country with a government but without newspapers." The well managed newspaper of to-day is not only a recorder of events, but it occupies itself with all the thoughts and doings of men, the discoveries of science, the treasures of literature, the progress of art, the acts of heroes, and the sayings and doings of Christendom. Sustained by the people, and laboring for them, it has the power to make and unmake presidents, control parties, build up free institutions, and regulate the minutest details of daily life; it becomes in one sense school-master, preacher, lawgiver, judge, jury, and policeman, in one grand combination. Among the influential newspaper-men of this country who are now, and who for thirty years past have been, busy in publishing journals, speaking for truth, honesty, liberty, religion, and good government, is found the subject of this sketch, John Badger Clarke, the well known, genial, liberal, enterprising, able, and very successful editor and publisher of the Manchester, New Hampshire, Daily Mirror and American, and the Weekly Mirror and Farmer.

John Badger Clarke was born at Atkinson, January 30, 1820, and was the junior of six children—five sons and one daughter—of Greenleaf and Julia (Cogswell) Clarke. Atkinson was a good town to be born in, and an excellent place in which to gain religious, moral, and educational instruction. The direct ancestors of the present Clarke family were from Atkinson; and from that excellent farming town the children of Greenleaf Clarke went forth on their way to college and to places of responsibility, and to high callings in life,—the ancestors being known as intelligent, honored, enterprising, patriotic people, conscientiously religious, after the Puritan faith.

Julia Cogswell, the mother of Mr. Clarke, was the daughter of Dr. William and Judith (Badger) Cogswell, and sister of Rev. William Cogswell, Hon. Thomas Cogswell, Hon. Francis Cogswell, and Hon. George Cogswell, biographical sketches of whom appear in this book. She was a woman of great intellectual powers, a fine scholar, and was preceptress of Atkinson Academy at the time when John Vose, author of a treatise on astronomy, was principal.

The Badger family, connected with the Clarkes and Cogswells, are descendants of Giles Badger, who settled at Newbury, Mass., in 1643. Gen. Joseph Badger, born at Haverhill, Mass., January 11, 1722, and who died April 4, 1803, in the eighty-second year of his age, was active in the Revolution, a member of the provincial congress, and of the convention which adopted the constitution. After removing to Gilmanton, N. H., he held many town offices, was made a brigadier-general, was a member of the state council, and was a stanch supporter of the institutions of learning and religion. Hon. William Badger, born in Gilmanton, January 13, 1779, was a representative, senator, president of the senate, and governor of the state in 1834 and 1835. He was also an elector of president and vice-president of the United States in 1824, 1836, and 1844; was an associate justice of the court of common pleas from 1816 to 1821, and for ten years high-sheriff of the county. Hon. Joseph Badger, Jr., son of the general, was born in Bradford, Mass., October 23, 1746; was distinguished as a military officer for thirty years, passing from captain to brigadier-general. He served in the Revolutionary war, and was present at the capture of Burgoyne. He died at Gilmanton, January 15, 1809, aged sixty-two. His wife was a daughter of Rev. William Parsons, and their marriage was the first one recorded in Gilmanton.

Of Mr. Clarke's four brothers, a sketch of the eldest, the Hon. William Cogswell Clarke, is given elsewhere in this book. Dr. Francis Clarke was a very successful physician, who resided during his professional life at Andover, Mass., where he died July 10, 1852. Hon. Greenleaf Clarke was a teacher of the high school at Lynn until obliged to leave because the sea air disagreed with him, when he returned to the old homestead in Atkinson, where he has since resided. He was a member of Gov. Hubbard's staff, several years a representative to the legislature, and, in 1879, the senator from the Rockingham district, and is now New Hampshire's commissioner of the Boston & Maine Railroad, an office which he held in earlier days. Dr. Moses Clarke graduated from the Medical College, Hanover, and received his degree in 1842. He was eminent as a physician and surgeon; settled at East Cambridge, Mass., in 1845, and was a member of the medical societies of that state in 1854, and a representative to the American Medical Association. He was city physician for many years, school committee, and one of the standing committee for the Congregational society. He died at Cambridge, March 27, 1864. The sister of these gentlemen, Sarah Clarke, married Col. Samuel Carleton of Haverhill, Mass., and has since resided in that town. It is seldom that a whole family of six children have so creditably been advanced to distinction.

The marriage of John B. Clarke with Susan Greeley Moulton, of Gilmanton, a descendant of John Moulton, who came to Hampton in 1638, more firmly united the mentioned old families, adding the Thurstons, Gilmans, Lampreys, Towles, Beans, Philbricks, and others, as did the marriage of William C. Clarke with a daughter of Stephen L. Greeley unite the Nortons of Newburyport, and others; while Moses Clarke, by marrying a direct descendant of John Dwight, who came from England in 1634, and settled in Dedham. Mass., 1636, became connected with a family which furnished a commandant at Fort Dummer, during the Indian war, and whose youngest son, Timothy C. Dwight, born at the fort, was the first white child born in Vermont; thus through the Dwights, connecting the Woolseys, Edwardses, Hookers, and other Massachusetts and Connecticut families known in the history of education and the growth of Yale College with the Clarkes, Cogswells, Badgers, and Gilmans of New Hampshire.

Mr. Clarke passed the years of boyhood upon the farm of his father, breathing the pure air, and enjoying the healthy exercise of farm labor. Here was laid the foundation of that robust constitution which was calculated to build up the excellent physical man we see in him. Studying at Atkinson Academy, he was prepared to enter Dartmouth College at the age of nineteen years, from which he graduated with high honors in the class of 1843, being only outranked in scholarship by the late Prof. J. N. Putnam.

After leaving college, Mr. Clarke was for three years principal of the academy at Gilford (now Laconia), exhibiting an aptness for teaching rarely possessed. While thus engaged, he commenced the study of law in the office of Stephen C. Lyford, Esq., and continued his studies in Manchester with his brother, William C. Clarke, until admitted to the bar of Hillsborough county in 1848. February 2, 1849, he started for California, via the Isthmus of Panama, where he was detained eleven weeks, and bought for the Manchester party of forty-three with him, in company with a gentleman of Maine with twenty men, the brig Copiapo, in which they left the isthmus for California with one hundred and fifty-eight passengers, Mr. Clarke being supercargo. He remained in California a little more than a year, practicing law and working in the mines. He then spent about four months in Central America, returning home in February, 1851. He went to Salem, Mass., with the intention of establishing a law office there, but returned to Manchester and opened an office, applying himself to the practice of his profession with success, until February, 1852, when, at the request of Mr. Joseph C. Emerson, he took charge of the editorial department of the Daily Mirror. Mr. Emerson becoming financially embarrassed, the property was sold at auction on the 20th of October, 1852, Mr. Clarke being the purchaser of the Daily and Weekly Mirror, and of the job-printing establishment connected therewith, of which he has ever since been the sole owner and manager. Subsequently he purchased the Daily and Weekly American (in which the Weekly Democrat had been previously merged), and the New Hampshire Journal of Agriculture. These were all combined with the Mirror, and the name of the daily changed to Mirror and American, and the weekly from Dollar Weekly Mirror to Mirror and Farmer. Since these additions to the Mirror, Mr. Clarke has found it needful to enlarge both the daily and weekly papers twice.

Though Mr. Clarke commenced his journalistic career at Manchester, in 1852, without training and without capital, he had what at that time proved most valuable to him, the capacity to see quickly and to express correctly the tendencies of opinion; and consequently his paper seemed to echo the voice of the people without any appearance of attempting to create it. From the day he came to Manchester as a citizen of the growing city (or town it then was), he has labored for the welfare of the place and the prosperity of its people. An examination of the records and the history of Manchester shows us that he was one of the most active to recommend and push forward the manufacturing, mercantile, and mechanical interests of the corporations and people, as well as to aid in the perfection of all the educational, charitable, and reformatory institutions of the city, county, and state. He in the outset aspired to make the Mirror one of the leading newspapers of the country, cost what it might; and his adroitness, energy, persistency, and straightforward devotion to that idea has enabled him to realize his aspirations. When Mr. Clarke took possession of the Mirror, the weekly paper had but a few hundred subscribers, while it now has a larger circulation than any other paper of its class published in New England out of Boston. Doubtless much of his success is due to his great knowledge of men, as this enables him to select the best suited to carry out his purposes, whether as assistants in the various departments of his business, or to attend to details in any city, state, or national measures in which he takes an interest. He is possessed of a brave, earnest, and sound mind, and never wastes his energies or time upon aspirations which may be barren of results. His work is steady, like a good fire, throwing out light and heat constantly and continually. Previous to the war the Mirror had been non-partisan politically; but Mr. Clarke decided that there should be no neutrals in time of war, and his paper came out boldly on the side of the administration, and has ever since advocated the principles of the Republican party.

In connection with his daily and weekly newspapers, Mr. Clarke has built up a very extensive book and job printing business, and to this has added a book-binding establishment. He has published many valuable works of his own and others: among his own publications will be found "The Londonderry Celebration," "Sanborn's History of New Hampshire," "Clarke's Manchester Almanac and Directory," "Clarke's History of Manchester," and several smaller works.

Readers of the Mirror know that Mr. Clarke is accustomed to talking and writing with great positiveness. He generally forms his opinions quickly, and acts upon them with directness. He will decide upon a project, map out a plan for its execution, select the men to carry out its details, and dispose of the matter, while other men would be halting and trying to determine whether it was feasible. He never does anything lukewarmly; whatever cause he espouses he enters into heartily, bending all his efforts to bring about success and make certain the desired end. If Mr. Clarke would do his friend a favor, he devotes himself to that purpose with as much zeal as if its attainment were the chief object of his life. He never wears two faces; and whether your friend or opponent you will know his position from the start.

Mr. Clarke has always refused to be a candidate for office, because he believed that office-holding would interfere with his influence as a public journalist, but was a delegate to the Baltimore convention that nominated Abraham Lincoln for the second time to the presidency, and was one of the national committee of seven (including ex-Governor Claflin, of Massachusetts, ex-Governor Marcus L. Ward, of New Jersey, and Hon. Henry T. Raymond, of the New York Times), who managed that campaign. He has been connected with the College of Agriculture, been a trustee of the Merrimack River Savings Bank since its organization, in 1858; a master for three years of the Amoskeag Grange No. 3; for two years lieutenant-colonel of the Amoskeag Veterans, and was twice elected commander, but declined that honor. Six times he has been elected state printer; in 1867, 1868, 1869, 1877, 1878, and in 1879 for two years.

Mr. Clarke has always manifested a great interest in the subject of elocution, probably having learned how faulty many students were as orators during his senior year in college, when he was president of the Social Friends Society, and in 1863, after he was elected president of the Tri Kappa Society. For two years he gave to the Manchester high school forty dollars a year for prizes in public speaking and reading. He then offered (in 1874) one hundred dollars a year for five years to Dartmouth College for the same object. In October, 1879, Mr. Clarke proposed to give forty dollars a year for five years for superiority in elocution in the high and grammar schools of Manchester, to be divided into four prizes of $16, $12, $8, $4, the awards to be made at a public exhibition in the month of January each year, the proceeds from sale of tickets to which should be invested, and the income from the investment applied for prizes for a similar object perpetually. The proposition was accepted by the school board, and the first contest for the prizes was made in Smyth's Hall in January, 1880, the net proceeds from the sale of tickets being $245.00. The succeeding January $287.16 was realized, and in January, 1882, $362.15, or a total of $894.31 in three years. In February, 1882, Mr. Clarke offered to add to his original forty dollars twenty dollars a year for the next two years, with the suggestion that the forty dollars be divided into prizes of $13, $11, $9, and $7 respectively, for the best four of all the sixteen contestants, on the score of merit, and the remaining twenty dollars awarded in equal prizes to the contestants adjudged the best in each of the schools represented, excluding all who should have received either of the four prizes first named. The result of this generous offer on the part of Mr. Clarke has been a great interest and improvement in reading and speaking in the public schools of Manchester, and it is probable that there will be a permanent fund of not less than fifteen hundred dollars accruing from the exhibitions at the end of the five years, insuring a perpetual income for the Clarke prizes.

Mr. Clarke has always been interested in farming, and, believing that "blood will tell," has done much with voice and pen to bring about an improvement in the breeds of horses and other stock in the state. His admiration for good horses (of which he is never without several in his stable), and his fondness for hunting, are so much a part of his life that any sketch of him without allusion to them would be incomplete. As a coon hunter he has had no rival in the state. He has served as president of the New Hampshire Game and Fish League from the first, and was the prime mover in its organization.

Within a few past years Mr. Clarke has learned by experience that there is a limit to the amount of care and business the strongest man can undertake, especially when everything is done with the intensity characteristic of his nature. In 1872, being obliged by the advice of physicians to abstain from all business for several months, he visited Great Britain, France, and Germany, to regain the health too close attention to business had temporarily destroyed. He has since applied the wisdom thus dearly bought by limiting the time to be devoted to business, rarely allowing himself to overstep the bounds.

Generous to a fault, Mr. Clarke has contributed liberally to all measures calculated to advance the interests of his town and city, and hardly a public work in Manchester now exists that does not owe something to his influence or pecuniary aid. He has always adhered to the Christian faith in which he was reared, and has been a liberal supporter of the Franklin-street Congregational church of the city, a constant attendant upon its worship, and has been elected to various offices in that society.

Mr. Clarke married, July 29, 1852, Susan Greeley Moulton, of Gilmanton. They have two sons,—Arthur Eastman, born May 13, 1854, and William Cogswell, born March 17, 1856. Both are graduates of the Scientific Department of Dartmouth College, and both are now employed on the Mirror.