One of the brightest of the luminaries who gave
up a promising career in government service to fulfill a higher call as
a General Authority of the Lord's True Church, the legendary J. Reuben
Clark, Jr. is truly a giant among giants.
Joshua Reuben Clark, Jr. was born on September 1,1871,
in the small farming town of Grantsville, a Mormon settlement thirty-five
miles southwest of Salt Lake City. Although he did not begin his formal
education until he was ten years old, young Reuben had been home schooled
by his mother and had developed a love for learning that lasted his entire
Although he did not attend high school, young Reuben
was accepted at the University of Utah where in 1898 he earned a Bachelor
of Science, Summa Cum Laude. He was valedictorian of his class and Student-body
President. He served as secretary to another luminary, Elder ( or Doctor,
if you find that more impressive) James
E. Talmage, who at that time was serving as President of the University.
On September 14, 1898, J. Reuben Clark married in
the Salt Lake Temple, with Elder Talmage officiating, Luacine Annetta Savage
by whom he would father five children. For the next four years he held
various positions around the state as a teacher and administrator on both
high school and college levels.
In 1903 the Clarks, including two small children
(two more were to follow), moved to New York City, where Reuben entered
law school at Columbia University. His first year's work was of such high
quality that he was among the three second year students elected to the
editorial board of the Columbia Law Review. By the end of his second year
he was admitted to the New York Bar. He received an LL.B. degree in 1906.
Three months after graduating from law school, Reuben
Clark was appointed assistant solicitor of the State Department by Elihu
Root, secretary of state under President Theodore Roosevelt. Shortly thereafter
he was also named an assistant professor
of law at George Washington University, where he taught until 1908.
In July 1910, under the administration of President
William Howard Taft, J. Reuben Clark was appointed solicitor of the State
Department. As part of his responsibilities he represented the United States
in a dispute with Chile. The king of England, serving as arbitrator, ruled
in favor of the United States and granted one of the largest international
awards of that time - nearly a million dollars. Also during his solicitorship,
Clark published his classic "Memorandum on the Right to Protect Citizens
in Foreign Countries by Landing Forces." Secretary of State Philander C.
Knox declared of him: "I am doing him but justice in saying that for natural
ability, integrity, loyalty, and industry, I have not in a long professional
and public service met his superior and rarely his equal." J. Reuben Clark
left the State Department in 1913 to open law offices in Washington, D.C.,
specializing in municipal and international law. His clients included the
Japanese Embassy, Philander C. Knox, the Cuban Legation, the Guatemalan
Ministry, J.P. Morgan & Company, and the Equitable Life Insurance Society.
During World War I, Brother Clark received a commission
as major in the Judge Advocate General's Officers' Reserve Corps. In this
capacity he helped prepare the original Selective Service regulations.
He was then assigned on active duty to the U.S. attorney general's office
where he prepared "Emergency Legislation and War Powers of the President."
In recognition of his meritorious service, he was awarded the Distinguished
By President Coolidge's appointment, Clark became
the Under Secretary of State in 1928. During this service he published
the "Clark Memorandum on the Monroe Doctrine," praised by critics as a
"monument of erudition" and a "masterly treatise." The Law Society's semiannual
publication takes its name from this famous work.
On October 3, 1930, J. Reuben Clark was named U.S.
ambassador to Mexico. After his resignation two and a half years
later, Brother Clark's diplomatic efforts were praised by President
Herbert Hoover, who said, "Never have our relations been lifted to such
a high point of confidence and cooperation."
In 1933, at age sixty-two, Brother Clark's lifelong
devotion to the Church culminated in a new calling - Second Counselor to
President Heber J. Grant of The Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was called to this office while
still a High Priest, but a year and a half later was ordained an Apostle
and sustained to the Quorum of the Twelve, both on the same day he was
re-sustained as a Counselor. This interesting event placed him in the line
of succession to the Presidency. It is singular because he never served
in the Quorum, spending the rest of his life as Counselor to three successive
Presidents. As a member of the First Presidency, President Clark was a
leading supporter of the Church welfare plan. He also helped put the finances
of the Church on a budget plan. He was an inspirational leader and spoke
forcefully on topics including freedom, his country, the inspired Constitution,
work, integrity, and chastity. An avid student of the life and teachings
of the Lord Jesus Christ, he authored many scholarly books on gospel topics.
In addition to his Church duties, J. Reuben Clark
continued to share his professional expertise as a member of corporate
boards; government, political, and private committees; and academic
journal and educational boards. He also bought and
maintained a farm in Grantsville, his boyhood home.
After over sixty years of distinguished service to
God and his fellow man, President J. Reuben Clark died October 6, 1961,
in Salt Lake City.