William Clark’s Expensive Folly

Photo of William Clark’s Expensive Folly

In late 19th century New York, on an avenue dubbed the “Millionaire’s Colony”, there stood an insanely ornate house belonging to the wealthy entrepreneur and politician, William A. Clark.

Clark was, in the words of Mark Twain, a “rotten human being”, “a shame to the American nation” and “the most disgusting creature that the republic has produced since Tweed’s time”. He tried to bribe his way to the US Senate, and the scandal that resulted forced the country to change its constitution. Henceforth, all US senators are elected by the people and not chosen by their respective state legislatures, as was in Clark’s time. Clark eventually did become a senator at a later election, and died one of the wealthiest Americans ever.

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