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This etching, titled "Alexander Clark - Grand Master," was created by Augustus Robin around 1895. The etching is of Alexander Clark, who is regarded as one of Muscatine's most prominent citizens. Clark was born free in Pennsylvania in 1826 and moved to Muscatine from Cincinnati at the age of 16 to work as a barber. Once settled, he opened a business selling firewood to Mississippi River steamboats and thereby amassed considerable wealth. He also became an entrepreneur in local real estate. In 1850, he helped to organize the African Methodist Episcopal church in Muscatine and served as an officer there for 25 years. In 1865, he helped organize the Grand Lodge of Missouri, Prince Hall Masons, and served as Grand Master. Later, in 1884, he organized the Hiram Grand Lodge in Iowa and also served as Grand Master. In 1868, Clark was appointed chairman of a "colored mans" committee to rewrite the Iowa State constitution, eliminating the word "white" from the document, and thereby granting political equality to Iowans two years before the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Clark is notable in Iowa history for other things, too. He sued the Muscatine school board on behalf of his daughter, Susan, in a landmark case that outlawed school segregation in Iowa. His son, Alexander Jr., became the first black graduate of the University of Iowa law school in 1879. Alexander Sr. became the second black graduate of the law school in 1884 at the age of 58. Clark was also active in Republican politics and was called "the Colored Orator of the West" for his speeches on the right of suffrage. In 1890, President Benjamin Harrison offered Clark the opportunity to become the first United States ambassador to the nation of Liberia at an annual salary of $4,000. Clark died of fever in Liberia in 1891. Content can be used with the following standards: 3rd grade SS 3.28 Cultural Contributions, 5th grade SS 5.26 Civil Rights, 8th grade SS 8.25 Iowa Governments, SS-Gov.9-12.28 Iowa Issues and Policy and SS-U.S. 9-12.23 Iowans Influence U.S. History. Lessons can be formed on Clarks' contribution to fighting for civil rights change in Iowa and the legislation changes regarding African-Americans during the late 1800s after the Civil War. For any use other than instructional resources, please check with the organization that owns this item regarding copyright restrictions.
|Iowa History Eras|
Object is related to the following library resources, which can be found by searching the catalog number in the advanced search section: Catalog #: 2018.045.025- Introduction to the History and Government of Iowa 2018.045.030- Life Narratives of African Americans in . Iowa 2018.045.031- Iowa's Black Legacy 2018.045.036- The Negro in Iowa, with an Editorial Addendum Twenty Years After by William J. Petersen 2018.045.062- Black Life on the Mississippi 2018.045.075- One Hundred Topics in Iowa History 2018.045.083- A History of the People of Iowa 2018.045.077- The Government of Iowa 2018.045.087- Iowa Through the Years 2018.045.106- Bright Radical Star: Black Freedom and White Supremacy on the Hawkeye Frontier
With a job as a barber, Clark was able to meet influential white and black males of Muscatine, helping his voice be heard. He was also a friend of Fredrick Douglass during the 1840s. Muscatine became the largest African-American populated town in the state after many settled there after escaping the South or travelling eastward from other free states. Clark later established the African Methodists Episcopal Church in Muscatine, the first independent black domination in the United States. Clark was a fighter for civil rights and in 1855 signed a petition with state legislature that repealed a law that prohibited free blacks from entering the state. The repeal did not happen, however migration continued anyways. Clark also fought for African-American right to vote and gained the right in 1868. For his children, Clark fought for equal education and sued his daughter's school after she was denied entrance due to her race. Clark won his Supreme Court case and as a result, Iowa became one of the first states to integrate schools. Clark was appointed U.S. Minister to Liberia by President Harrison in 1890, which became one of the highest-ranking appointments of an African-American by a president at that point of time. Clark died while in office of a fever in 1891.