History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century/4/James S. Clarkson
JAMES S. CLARKSON was born at Brookville, Indiana, May 17, 1842. His early education was obtained in the common schools and in his father's printing office. In 1855 his father removed with his family to Grundy County, Iowa, where James remained eleven years assisting in farm labor and management. In 1866 he began work as a compositor on the Iowa State Register at Des Moines. He was soon promoted to local editor, and upon the election of F. W. Palmer, its editor in chief, to Congress, James S. assumed editorial management. In 1870 the establishment was purchased by the father and two sons; Coker F. conducting an agricultural department, and the elder son, Richard P., assuming the business management. Each chief proved to be qualified to bring his department to the highest degree of excellence and the State Register, which had long been the leading journal of Iowa, soon attained national influence and fame. Its influence in the Republican party of the State soon became supreme and its brilliant editor-in-chief was chosen chairman of the Republican State Committee. In this position he developed remarkable executive ability. He was appointed by President Grant postmaster of Des Moines, serving six years. He was a delegate to several Republican National Conventions and in 1880 became a member of the National Republican Committee. He was an ardent supporter of James G. Blaine for President and a personal friend of that statesman. In the presidential campaign of 1884, Mr. Clarkson was one of the national managers for the Republicans and from 1890 to 1892 was chairman of the National Executive Committee. In 1891 he was president of the Republican League of the United States. Upon the election of President Harrison Mr. Clarkson was appointed First Assistant Postmaster-General and during his administration of that department appointed 38,000 postmasters. As an editor and writer during half a life-time as a journalist in Iowa, Mr. Clarkson had few equals and no superiors. He was repeatedly tendered important federal offices by Republican Presidents. At twenty-five he was offered the Swiss mission by President Grant, but preferred the field of journalism in which he had won more than State-wide fame. When Garfield became President Mr. Clarkson was again offered a post abroad, and in 1890 was tendered his choice of appointments as minister to China or Russia, but again declined. In 1891 he sold his interest in the State Register and removed to New York City which has since been his home. He has always taken a deep interest in education and served as trustee of the State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. He has written two works of fiction which have had large sales, but do not bear his name as author. In 1902 he was appointed by President Roosevelt Surveyor of Customs for the port of New York.