Myron H. Clark

19th Governor, 1855 - 1856
Myron Clark

Before embarking on his political career, Myron H. Clark (1806–1892) served as a lieutenant colonel in the New York militia. While serving in the State Senate (1852–1854), Clark sponsored a law prohibiting alcohol that was vetoed by Governor Seymour. In 1855, he defeated Seymour in the closest gubernatorial election in New York State history by only 309 votes. As governor, Clark signed prohibition into law, but it was overturned eight months later by the Court of Appeals. While he was governor, construction of the first bridge to span the Hudson River began in Albany.
Painted portrait of Myron H. Clark.
About the Artist


Leon Joseph Bonnat (1833–1922) resided mostly in Spain and France, where he became a leading artist. His portraits reflect the influence of Velázquez and the Spanish Realists. He became a professor at the École des Beaux-Arts in France in 1888.


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From The Encyclopedia of New York State

Clark, Myron H(olley) (b Naples, Ontario Co, 23 Oct 1806; d Canandaigua, Ontario Co, 23 Aug 1892). Governor.

A businessman with an elementary school education, Clark held several local offices in Ontario Co and moved to Canandaigua while serving as county sheriff from 1837 to 1839. His fanatical support for prohibition made him popular, and he was elected president of Canandaigua in 1850 and 1851, representing it in the state senate from 1852 to 1854 as a wig. In 1854 he played a key role in the passage of an alcohol prohibition bill modeled after the Maine Law of 1851, but Gov Horatio Seymour vetoed the measure. Nominated for governor in 1854 by a combination of antislavery and temperance reformers (groups that would soon become part of the developing Republican Party), Clark garnered only 33% of the vote in a four-way race including Gov Seymour and won election by only 309 votes of more than 469,000 of those cast. He signed a prohibitionary liquor bill in 1855, but eight months later the New York State Court of Appeals declared it unconstitutional in Wynehamer v People (1856). The Republican Party did not nominate Clark for a second term in 1856, although Pres Abraham Lincoln appointed him collector of internal revenue in 1862. Clark then lived in semi-retirement in Canandaigua, emerging briefly in 1874 to accept the Prohibition Party’s nomination for governor.


Booraem, Hendrik. The Formation of the Republican Party in New York (New York: New York Univ Press, 1983)
Milliken, Charles. A History of Ontario County, New York, and Its People (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing, 1911)
Jon Sterngass


Peter Eisenstadt, ed., The Encyclopedia of New York State
(Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2005), [p. 339].
© Syracuse University Press. Reproduced with permission from the publisher.