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Clark (William Patrick) papers
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Collection Details
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  • Access
  • Use
  • Acquisition Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Title: William Patrick Clark papers
    Date (inclusive): 1966-2008
    Collection Number: 2016C19
    Contributing Institution: Hoover Institution Library and Archives
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 198 manuscript boxes, 1 oversize box, 6 audiocassettes, 1 sound disc, 17 computer cards (72.9 Linear Feet)
    Abstract: Correspondence, speeches and writings, memoranda, reports, studies, notes, legal and financial records, printed matter, and photographs relating to the gubernatorial administration of Ronald Reagan in California, and to foreign policy and public lands management during the presidential administration of Ronald Reagan.
    Creator: Clark, William Patrick, 1931-2013
    Physical Location: Hoover Institution Library & Archives


    Box 199 may not be used without permission of the Archivist. The remainder of the collection is open for research; materials must be requested in advance via our reservation system. If there are audiovisual or digital media material in the collection, they must be reformatted before providing access.


    For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Library & Archives.

    Acquisition Information

    Materials were acquired by the Hoover Institution Library & Archives in 2016.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], William Patrick Clark papers, [Box no., Folder no. or title], Hoover Institution Library & Archives.

    Biographical Note

    United States deputy secretary of state, 1981-1982; assistant to President Ronald Reagan for national security affairs, 1982-1983; secretary of the interior, 1983-1985.

    Biographical Note

    1931 Born, Oxnard, California
    1954-1956 U.S. Army service
    1958 Admitted to California state bar
    1967 Cabinet Secretary to Governor Ronald Reagan
    1967-1969 Executive Secretary to Governor Ronald Reagan
    1969-1971 Judge, San Luis Obispo County Superior Court
    1971-1973 Associate Justice, California Second District Court of Appeals
    1973-1981 Associate Justice, California Supreme Court
    1981-1982 United States Deputy Secretary of State
    1982-1983 National Security Adviser to President Ronald Reagan
    1983-1985 United States Secretary of the Interior
    1985-1990 Member, Rogers and Wells law firm
    1985ff. Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Clark Company
    2013 Died, Shandon, California

    Scope and Content of Collection

    William Patrick Clark, Jr. was a close associate of Ronald Reagan, whom he served during Reagan's terms both as Governor of California and as President of the United States. Clark grew up in Ventura County, California, where his father was a rancher and where his family had been pioneer settlers. Although he never graduated from college or from law school, Clark did pass the California state bar examination and began practice as a lawyer. His papers at the Hoover Institution Library & Archives, acquired in 2016, are arranged according to periods of his life. Aside from two photographs the collection includes nothing from his pre-government life.
    The California Governor's Office File documents Clark's first government service. Clark's involvement in Reagan's successful 1966 gubernatorial campaign led to the acquaintanceship of the two men and the development of a relationship that observers of Reagan characterized as exceptionally close. Clark was initially appointed Cabinet Secretary to the Governor when Reagan went to Sacramento, but was soon promoted to Executive Secretary to replace Philip Battaglia. The file covers the work of the Governor's Office during the first years of the Reagan governorship from 1967 to 1969, and the circumstances of Battaglia's departure.
    Clark resigned from the Governor's Office in 1969 in order to accept a judicial appointment. This was the first of three successive appointments of Clark by Reagan, each at a higher level, that ultimately brought Clark to a seat on the California Supreme Court. Altogether he served twelve years (1969-1981) in a judicial capacity and ever afterwards was known as Judge Clark. This period of Clark's life is documented in the California Judicial File. The state Supreme Court was unusually contentious during the time of Clark's service and was often polarized between a liberal faction headed by Chief Justice Rose Bird (an appointee of Governor Jerry Brown) and a conservative faction of which Clark was a member. There is in particular a large quantity of material on the much-publicized case of People vs. Tanner (1978), in which the Court initially overturned a new state law mandating a prison sentence for use of a gun during the commission of a crime, and subsequently reversed itself.
    When Reagan became President in 1981, he brought Clark to Washington, appointing him Deputy Secretary of State despite his lack of background in foreign affairs. Clark served under Secretary of State Alexander Haig and was often seen as a balance to Haig and as a man whose personal loyalty to the President was unquestioned. The appointment, which for the first time familiarized Clark with the international world of diplomacy, lasted for almost exactly one year. It is documented in the United States Department of State File.
    Clark's next position, documented in the United States National Security Council File, was as National Security Adviser. Clark succeeded Richard V. Allen in this capacity in early 1982 and served almost two years, until November 1983. (Allen's papers are also in the Hoover Institution Library & Archives.) Clark was generally seen as a voice for a hard-line foreign policy vis-a-vis the Soviet Union in the Reagan administration. This file, like the preceding one and the succeeding one, contains unclassified documents retained by Clark for personal use rather than official documents.
    Clark's resignation as National Security Adviser in order to accept an appointment as Secretary of the Interior came as a surprise to most Washington observers. His final period of government service is documented in the United States Department of the Interior File. Clark's background as a Westerner and as an outdoorsman gave him considerable familiarity with many of the issues dealt with by this department. Clark served in this capacity for more than a year. Following Reagan's re-election and second inauguration, Clark resigned in February 1985 to leave government service and return to the private sector.
    The Post-Government Service File documents the longest period of Clark's life and unsurprisingly is the largest series of the collection. Clark initially joined the prestigious Washington law firm of Rogers and Wells as a part-time member, while simultaneously founding his own business consultant firm, the Clark Company. The Business Records sub-series documents his activities in both, which made use of the foreign contacts he had made and the knowledge of government regulatory agencies he had acquired. This sub-series reflects an interest in Iraqi oil continuing throughout the 1980s and 1990s, seen in several places and especially in the Iraq/Aqaba Pipeline Project proposal for a pipeline from the oilfields of Iraq to the port of Aqaba in Jordan. Also of interest is the proposal of the U.S. Three Gorges Working Group, a consortium of American companies, for a hydroelectric project on the Yangtze River in the People's Republic of China. The Subject File sub-series includes retrospective assessments of the Reagan presidential administration. It also reflects Clark's identity as a Catholic and as a social conservative, and especially his activity in opposing legalized abortion. Through 1990 Clark maintained the practice he had established in 1981 of separate alphabetical correspondence files for each year.
    The Audiovisual File is especially notable for its photographs of Clark with Reagan and with other dignitaries. Most of these photographs are of professional quality.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    United States -- Foreign relations -- 1981-1989
    Public lands -- United States
    California -- Politics and government -- 1951-
    United States -- Politics and government -- 1981-1989
    United States. Department of State
    Reagan, Ronald
    United States. Department of the Interior
    National Security Council (U.S.)