CLARK, GEORGE 1:0(4:RS ( 1732-1818) . An American soldier and frontiersman. who ren dered valuable services to the United States during the Revolutionary War. Ile was born near Monticello, in Albemarle County, Va.: re ceived it eommon-school education; made a tour west, of the Alleghanies in 1772: became a land surveyor, and in 1774 served against the Indians in Lord Ihnunore'.s War (q.v.). lie spent some months in Kentucky in 177.3; removed thither early in 1776, and soon became the recognized leader of the backwoodsmen. In dime, 1776, he was chosen one of two delegates to represent Kentucky. then a district of Virginia. in the Virginia Legislature, and in this capacity not only brought about the organization of Ken tucky a: a separate comity. bit, secured a large supply of Dwell-needed powder for the use of the backwoodsmen. After Ids return. he conceived a plan for the conquest of the 'Illinois Country,' and having won the support of Patrick Henry, Hien Governor of Virginia (to lay his plans be fore whom he had traveled on foot from Harrods burg, Ky., to Williamsburg. Va.), he was ap pointed lieutenant-colonel, raised the necessary troops. and proceeded to the site of Louisville, K. Starting from this point on June 28, 1778. he captured Kaskaskia (q.v.) on July 4, and by deputy secured the surrender of the other French villages. Cahokia and Vincennes. General Hamilton, the English commander at Detroit. re captured Vincennes. then held by Captain Helm, in December; and Clark. upon hearing the news at Kaskaskia, put himself at the head of 170 men. and after an arduous march in the depth of winter, through swamps and dense forests, forced Hamilton to surrender, on February 24, 1779. Early in 1780 he built Fort Jefferson. on the left hank of the :Mississippi, a short distance below the mouth of the Ohio. From this time until the close of the war, he was engaged al most constantly in warfare against the British and Indians, totally defeating the Shawnees, destroying the Indian villages along the Big Miami, and rising to the rank of brigadier-gen eral of Virginia militia. After the close of the war he led an unsuccessful expedition against the Wabash Indians in 1780. came into conflict
with the Spanish authorities in the West, and seems to have advocated an expedition. which he was to lead, for the capture of Natchez and Saint Louis and the opening of the Mississippi to unrestricted navigation. In 1793, during the pro-French agitation in the United. States, he was commissioned a general by the French Gov ernment, and issued a call for volnnteers for the purpose of reconquering the Spanish possessions along the Mississippi on behalf of the French. Ne passed the latter part of his life in poverty at Clarkesville. in Indiana. near Louisville, Ky., on part of the land granted him by the Virginia legislature.
Clark's services during the Revolutionary War were of the utmost value to the United States Government, inasinueh as the virtual conquest of the Northwest served as, perhaps, the chief basis of the American claim, in the peace nego tiations of 1782-83, to the territory between the Alississippi and the Alleghanies. But for this conquest, according to many historians, the western territory would probably have passed either to England or to Spain. In recognition of his services, the Virginia Legislature, in 1783, granted him a tract of 8049 acres—I40,000 more being granted to his officers and men—in the present State of Indiana. and on two occasions presented him with a sword. Clark wrote two accounts of his expedition—one of which, his Letter to George Mason, of Virginia, was first published in Cincinnati in 1869; and the other, entitled his Memoir, and written probably in his old age, at the request, it is said, of Presi dents Jefferson and _Madison, was first published in part in Dillen's Indiana (18-13). Consult: English. The Conquest of the Country Northwest of the Ohio Ricer, 1778-83, and Life of George Rogers ('lark (Indianapolis, 1S96) : and Roose velt, Winning of the West, vols. i. and ii. (New York, 1889). Many documents relating to Clark and the conquest of the Illinois country are to be found among the Draper Manuscripts, in the Library of the Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wis.