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George Leonard Clarke (August 10, 1813 – February 11, 1890) was an American politician who served as the 10th mayor of Providence, Rhode Island from June 1869 until June 1870.

George Leonard Clarke
George L Clarke Mayor of Providence.jpg
George L. Clarke, official portrait in Providence City Hall
10th Mayor of Providence, Rhode Island
In office
June 7, 1869 – June 6, 1870
Preceded byThomas A. Doyle
Succeeded byThomas A. Doyle
Personal details
Born(1813-08-10)August 10, 1813
Norton, Massachusetts
DiedFebruary 11, 1890(1890-02-11) (aged 76)
Resting placeSwan Point Cemetery
Political partyLiberty Party
Free Soil Party
Spouse(s)Frances Alice Chace
Known forMayor of Providence, Rhode Island


Early lifeEdit

George L. Clarke was born in Norton, Massachusetts. His parents were Reverend Pitt Clarke, a well-known pastor of the First Congregational Society in Newtown, and Maria (Simpson) Clarke. His schooling was a combination of home schooling from his parents; a few months spent at a public school in Norton; and "one or two quarters" in a private academy. Upon turning 16, he left school and worked in a store in Providence. He supplemented his education by attending public lectures known as "Lyceum Lectures".[1] Clarke was a staunch and outspoken abolitionist from an early age, and became well-known throughout the state for his anti-slavery views, even in a time when such views were not popular.[1]

Political careerEdit

Clarke was first a member of the Liberty Party which later became the Free Soil Party. When that became absorbed into the Republican Party in 1854, Clarke became a Republican.[1]

He served in the State House of Representatives in 1856 to 1858, then again in 1863-1868. He was Speaker of the House for the last two of those years. He was elected to the State Senate in April 1869.

A month after Clarke's election to State Senate, Providence's popular mayor Thomas A. Doyle left the Republican Party to run as an independent. The Republican party drafted Clarke to run against him. Clarke won in a three-way race, but Doyle returned to defeat Clarke the following year, winning by a two-to-one margin.[2] During Clarke's time as mayor, a system of fire alarm boxes were installed in Providence. The Sockanosset Reservoir was begun, and Dexter Asylum was enlarged. A major hurricane struck the city on September 8, 1869, which caused much damage and flooding in downtown Providence.[2]

After his mayorship, Clarke was elected to the Board of Aldermen from the First Ward. Later he became president of the City Fire Insurance Company.[2]

Personal lifeEdit

Clarke married Frances Alice Chace, daughter of a textile firm owner. Clarke went to work at the firm, William A. Chace and Company. The couple lived at 95 Angell Street in Providence's east side.


  1. ^ a b c Greene, Welcome Arnold (1886). The Providence Plantations for 250 Years. Providence: R.A. and J.A. Reid. p. 105. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  2. ^ a b c "George L. Clarke" (Informational display about Clarke in Providence City Hall)|format= requires |url= (help). Providence City Hall. |access-date= requires |url= (help)

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas A. Doyle
Mayor of Providence
Succeeded by
Thomas A. Doyle