William S. Clark

Chemist + Botanist and College President
Born Jul 31, 1826

William Smith Clark was a professor of chemistry, botany and zoology, a colonel during the American Civil War, and a leader in agricultural education. Raised and schooled in Easthampton, Massachusetts, Clark spent most of his adult life in Amherst, Massachusetts. He graduated from Amherst College in 1848 and obtained a doctorate in chemistry from Georgia Augusta University in Göttingen in 1852.… Read More

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1826 Birth Born in Ashfield, Massachusetts, on July 31, 1826, William Smith Clark was the son of a country physician, Atherton Clark, and Harriet Smith Clark.
1834 8 Years Old In about 1834, his family moved to Easthampton, Massachusetts.


1844 18 Years Old Clark was educated at Williston Seminary (now the Williston Northampton School) in Easthampton, and entered Amherst College in 1844.


1848 22 Years Old 1 More Event
He earned membership in the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa academic honor society and graduated in the class of 1848.
1851 25 Years Old In 1851, he departed to study chemistry and botany at Georgia Augusta University in Germany, now known as the University of Göttingen, where he earned his Ph.D. in chemistry in 1852. … Read More
1852 26 Years Old He also served as professor of zoology from 1852 to 1858, and of botany from 1854 to 1858. … Read More
1853 27 Years Old 1 More Event
Beginning in 1853, he headed a new Division of Science for the theoretical and practical study of agriculture. … Read More


1859 - 1861 2 More Events
1862 36 Years Old 1 More Event
He served with the 21st Massachusetts for nearly two years, eventually commanding that regiment as lieutenant colonel in 1862, and colonel from 1862 to 1863. … Read More
Clark's enthusiasm for the war waned considerably after the Battle of Fredericksburg during which the Union Army suffered severe casualties in repeated charges against a heavily fortified stone wall. In a January 1863 letter to a friend, Clark wrote that, although he still felt "the principles for which we fight are right and honorable," he was "disheartened and dissatisfied" with the government and the army.
1864 38 Years Old 1 More Event
…  Elected to the Massachusetts Legislature in 1864, Clark secured a bond for the Town of Amherst enabling it to contribute $50,000 to the construction of the college buildings. This ultimately swayed the trustees to choose Amherst. MAC went through two presidents in its first four years and by 1867 still did not have a faculty, nor students, nor finished buildings.


1867 41 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1867, Clark became the third president of the Massachusetts Agricultural College (MAC), now the University of Massachusetts Amherst. … Read More
1868 42 Years Old In 1868, Clark was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences


In 1876, Clark was invited by the government of Japan to establish the Sapporo Agricultural College, now Hokkaido University. … Read More
1877 51 Years Old 1 More Event
…  In 1877, 31 students of SAC converted to Christianity, signing a document drafted by Clark titled, "The Covenant of Believers in Jesus." … Read More
1879 53 Years Old 1 More Event
After resigning the presidency of MAC in 1879, Clark left academia to become the president of a mining company, Clark & Bothwell. … Read More
1880 54 Years Old Following this setback, Clark decided to depart from academia and teamed up with John R. Bothwell in 1880 to form the Clark & Bothwell mining company. … Read More
The firm of Clark & Bothwell opened for business on March 10, 1881 with offices at the corner of Nassau and Wall Street in New York City. … Read More
1882 56 Years Old Clark's missionary activities produced the Sapporo Independent Christian Church in 1882, founded by students of SAC. … Read More


1886 60 Years Old 1 More Event
…  He died in Amherst on March 9, 1886 and is buried in Amherst's West Cemetery. … Read More
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