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Joel Bennett Clark: A Featured Biography

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Democrat Joel Bennett Clark of Missouri, son of four-term Speaker of the House of Representatives James Beauchamp Clark, served in the U.S. Senate from 1933 until 1945. Clark identified himself as a Jeffersonian Democrat who favored limited government interference, which led him to oppose nearly all of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal programs. He was one of the first senators to publically oppose the president’s controversial Supreme Court packing plan. Determined to keep the United States from being drawn into a European conflict, Clark helped pass the Neutrality Acts of 1935, 1936, and 1937. Despite his political differences with the administration, he remained loyal to his party and campaigned for Roosevelt in 1940. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Clark supported the U.S. war effort. His past isolationist views, however, led to his primary defeat in 1944. When he left the Senate, Clark’s good friend, President Harry Truman, appointed him to the Circuit Court of Appeals for D.C., a position he held until his death in 1954.

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