Myron H. Clark

The one Prohibition governor of New York State, Myron Halley Clark, was born in Naples, New York, October 23, 1806.  He received his education in the common schools of his native town, and began business life as a merchant’s clerk in Canandaigua, New York.  In 1850 he was elected president of the village of Canandaigua, and in 1852, State senator.  While in the Senate he was chairman of the committee that reported the “Bill for the Suppression of Intemperance,” a strict prohibitory measure, which passed both houses of the legislature, but was vetoed by Governor Seymour.  Senator Clark was the leader of the debates on the subject.  He had served one half of his second term in the Senate when he was elected governor of New York State, in 1854, by a combination of Prohibitionists and Anti-Slavery men, upon a strong Prohibition platform.  The leading issue in the campaign was the question of the re-enactment of the State prohibitory law, which had been vetoed by Gov. Seymour.  It was a long and hard-fought battle:  Most of the leading journals of the State, including The tribune, under Horace Greeley’s editorship, The Times, edited by Henry J. Raymond, and The Herald, by the elder James Gordon Bennett, of New York City, were strong supporters of the proposed law and the Prohibition candidates. The election was a very close one.  It was several weeks before the final result was known, and then the vote stood:  Clark, Fusion and Prohibition, 154,804; Seymour, Anti-Prohibition, 154,406; Ullman, “Know Nothing,” 122,232; and bronson, “Hardshell” Democrat, 33,350.
     During his term as governor, Mr. Clark secured the passage of another State prohibitory law which was afterward declared unconstitutional by the Court of Appeals on a technicality.  In 1874, ex-Governor Clark was again the nominee of the Prohibition Party for governor of New York.
     Mr. Clark lived at Canandaigua, New York, nearly all his life.  He occupied several official governmental positions, notably a United States collectorship of internal revenue, in 1862.  He died at Canandaigua, August 23, 1892.

-- An Album of Representative Prohibitionists (1895)

Myron Clark was one of the strongest temperance and prohibition advocates to have attained major office in New York. 
     Myron Clark was born on October 23rd 1806 in Naples, New York. He was educated at the Naples District School, and served as a lieutenant colonel in the state militia. He spent two years as Ontario county sheriff and was president of the village of Canandaigua from 1850- 1851. He was elected to the New York State Senate and served in it from 1852- 1854. 
     At this time the movement for statewide prohibition was in full swing. The state of Maine had established a state prohibition law in 1851, and activists in New York state were actively working for the same. Clark played a significant role in helping to pass a state prohibition law in the legislature, though this bill ended up being vetoed by Governor Seymour. Following this, Myron Clark ran for governor of New York. He was nominated by four political groups and put together a coalition including Whigs, temperance supporters, and anti-slavery advocates. He was elected governor in the narrowest gubernatorial election in state history. Once in office, Clark passed the state prohibition law in 1855, and established the first period of statewide prohibition in New York. Unfortunately, that ended 8 months later, when the law was struck down by the State Court of Appeals in Wynehamer v People (1856). None the less, Clark had run a championed a daring campaign and had made a strong challenge to the pro-alcohol establishment. 
     Following his time as governor, Clark was appointed by President Lincoln, in 1862, to act as collector of internal revenue. He later ran as a Prohibition Party candidate for Governor in 1870 and 1874, receiving 1,459 (0.19%) and 11,768 (1.48%) votes in those races.
     The Clark Reservation State Park in Dewitt, New York is named after him.


"Myron H. Clark." Hall of Governors Accessed February 26, 2018.
"Myron Holley Clark." National Governors Association. org. Accessed February 26, 2018.
"Prohibition Party Candidates, New York." Accessed February 26, 2018.
Sterngass, Jon. "Clark, Myron H(olley)." In Encyclopedia of New York State, edited by Peter R. Eisenstadt and Laura-Eve Moss, 339. Syracuse University Press, 2005. Academic OneFile (accessed February 26, 2018).

--  Contributed by Jonathan Makeley