This is a slightly modified version
of Henry Reynolds, Andrew Inglis Clark (1848-1907),
Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 3 , pp. 399-401.
CLARK, ANDREW INGLIS (1848-1907). barrister,
politician and judge, was born on 24 February 1848 in Hobart Town.
He was the youngest son of Alexander Russell Clark, a successful
engineer, building contractor and ironfounder, and his wife Ann,
née Inglis. Clark was a delicate child. He was taught by
his mother until eligible to enrol in the Hobart High School. He
was later apprenticed in the family firm, becoming a qualified engineer
and its business manager. At 24 he turned to the law, was articled
to R.P. Adams, and in 1877 was called to the Bar. In 1878 he married
Grace Paterson, daughter of John Ross, a Hobart shipbuilder.
In the 1870s Clark became an active
member of local debating and literary societies. With a few Unitarians,
he was prominent in the Minerva Club, where contemporary problems
were discussed. In 1874 he edited the clubs journal Quadrilateral,
which each month published articles on politics, literature and
philosophy. Clark joined the American Club along with other young,
ardent republicans; at its annual dinner in 1876 he declared
that We have met here tonight in the name of the principles
which were proclaimed by the founders of the Anglo-American Republic
and we do so because we believe those principles to be permanently
applicable to the politics of the world.
In 1878 Clark contested the House of
Assembly elections as the protégé of Thomas Reibey,
who was reputed to have the electorate of Norfolk Plains in his
pocket. Clark was attacked by The Mercury for holding such
very extreme ultra-republican, if not revolutionary, ideas
that his proper place was among Communists. The Launceston
Examiner called him a mere fledgling and a stranger
from Hobart. After a lively debate Clark was elected unopposed in
July. He told his electors that he would join the Opposition, denied
that he was a revolutionist but wanted government that would not
benefit any particular class. He also attacked the governments
tariff policy and new electoral bill, and advocated the ending of
controversy between the administration and the Main Line Railway
Co., preferably by government purchase. In the Assembly he was one
of the few private members to introduce legislation, and, although
unable to amend the Master and Servant Act, he carried the Criminal
Law Amendment Act in 1880. He also helped the Premier, W.R. Giblin,
to reframe the customs tariff. Clark was defeated in the 1882 election
and similarly failed to win East Hobart in 1884 and 1886.
Clark won a reputation as fine criminal
lawyer in a poisoning case and soon built up a large
practice in civil jurisdiction as well, although his generosity
and refusal to accept anything beyond a reasonable and modest
fee prevented him from becoming wealthy from his legal practice.
While out of parliament he not only developed his practice, but
continued to lead the liberal attack on conservatism and the remnants
of the convict tradition. In 1885 he helped found the Southern Tasmanian
Political Reform Association. Its aims included manhood suffrage,
larger electorates, triennial parliaments, municipal reform and
the prohibition of paid canvassers and cabs in elections; it helped
to enrol electors and organized a campaign for the 1886 elections.
Clark formulated proposals for the redistribution of seats; he was
also one of the first politicians to be actively supported by the
Hobart Trades and Labor Council.
In January 1887 he went into partnership
with Matthew Wilkes Simmons and in March won the seat of South Hobart
in the Assembly. He was appointed Attorney-General by Premier P.O.
Fysh. With Fysh in the Upper House, Clark became largely responsible
for introducing legislation in the House of Assembly. During his
term as Attorney-General he initiated, according to one estimate,
228 ministerial bills. Even in his first term Clark enhanced his
reputation as an outstanding Liberal by introducing much progressive
and humanitarian legislation, including the Master and Servant Amendment
Act 1887, which he had advocated in his first electoral address.
Other important legislation included the legalizing of trade unions,
restricting the entry of Chinese, preventing cruelty to animals,
reimbursing members of parliament and reforming laws on lunacy and
the custody of children. He was less successful in trying to impose
a land tax, introduce manhood suffrage and centralize the police.
As Attorney-General he became involved in the dispute between the
government and the Main Line Railway Co., but despite his efforts
the company was awarded arrears of interest by the Supreme Court.
Clark advised the government to appeal to the Privy Council and
he went to England in 1890 to conduct the case. Empowered to treat
with the directors, he successfully negotiated out of court the
purchase of their property.
Clark then visited America. His radicalism
always had strong Unitarian links and in 1883 he had entertained
Moncure Conway, an American Unitarian preacher and author, in Hobart.
Conway introduced him to Oliver Wendell Holmes and other well-known
Unitarians, many of them academics and lawyers, with whom Clark
corresponded for the rest of life. Always impressed by the American
Constitution and its democratic and republican ideals, he returned
to Hobart convinced of their suitability for Australia.
Through his experience as business
manager of the family engineering firm Clark first became interested
in Federation as a solution to intercolonial tariff rivalry. He
was a delegate to the Federal Council in 1888, 1889, 1891, and 1894
and the Australasian Federation Conference in Melbourne in 1890.
Before the National Australasian Convention in Sydney in 1891 he
circulated his own draft constitution bill. This was practically
a transcript of relevant provisions from the British North American
Act, the United States Constitution and the Federal Council Act,
arranged systematically, but it was to be of great use to the drafting
committee at the convention. Henry Parkes, representing New South
Wales, received it with reservations, suggesting that the style
was too literary and that the structure should be evolved
bit by bit. One of Clarks political heroes, George Higinbotham
from Victoria, admitted the acknowledged defects & disadvantages
of responsible government, but criticized Clarks plan to separate
the executive and the legislature. Clarks draft also differed
from the adopted constitution in his proposal for a separate
federal judiciary, with the new Supreme Court replacing the
Privy Council as the highest court of appeal on all questions of
law, which would be a wholesome innovation upon the American
system. He became a member of the Constitutional Committee
and chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Although he took little
part in the debates, he assisted Samuel Griffith of Queensland,
Edmund Barton New South Wales, and Charles Kingston of South Australia
in revising Griffiths original draft of the adopted constitution
on the Queensland governments steam yacht, Lucinda; though
he was too ill to be present when the main work was done, his own
draft had been the basis for most of Griffiths text. In his
book The Federal Story (Melbourne, 1963), Alfred Deakin described
Clark at the conference as Small, spare, nervous, active,
jealous and suspicious in disposition, and somewhat awkward in manner
and ungraceful in speech, he was nevertheless a sound lawyer, keen,
logical and acute.
After the Fysh government fell in 1892
to the conservative government headed by Henry Dobson, Clark joined
the Opposition. But in 1894 he resumed the position of Attorney-General
under Edward Braddons government and continued to introduce
much legislation. In 1896, at his fourth attempt, he succeeded in
amending the Electoral Act by extending the franchise and introducing
in Hobart and Launceston proportional representation under what
became known as the Hare-Clark system as a memorial to his name.
Although first introduced for only a year it was renewed annually
until suspended in 1902, and in 1907 was adopted for the whole State.
On 27 October 1897 Clark resigned from
the Braddon government after colleagues ignored his plea for a concession
to the Emu Bay Railway Company to extend their line to Mount Lyell.
His resignation was the prelude to political confusion. Efforts
were made to secure a reconciliation between Clark and Braddon,
while John Henry did his utmost to bring down the government and
planned a new ministry under Clark. However, Braddon survived the
crisis and Clark again joined the Opposition, becoming leader for
a short time in late 1897 and early 1898. He received many complimentary
letters on his stand against the Braddon Ministry, including one
from the Hobart Chess Club congratulating their president on preferring
resignation to perpetual check.
In the 1890s Clark encouraged the young
leaders of the Tasmanian Federation Leagues, who became known as
Clarks Boys and who dubbed him as their Padre.
He did not attend the 1897 Federal Convention because he was visiting
America to improve his health and to leave some sons there to complete
their education. On his return he introduced the draft constitution
in the House of Assembly, although he remained doubtful about the
financial provisions. In his The Federal Financial Problem and its
Solution (Hobart, 1900), he argued that the difficulty could be
solved by the transfer of the largest possible proportionate
part of the public debt of each colony to the Federal Government.
He was also concerned about the judiciary clauses and sent written
amendments to the 1898 convention. They were tabled by Barton who
wrote to him: The paper is regarded as a very valuable one,
& by it you have added to your many services to the cause of
Federation. Clark continued to correspond with his American
friends on questions of Federation and sent them copies of the convention
On 1 June 1898 Clark was appointed
a puisne judge of the Supreme Court of Tasmania and senior judge
on 1 May 1901. Chief Justice Samuel Way of South Australia congratulated
him: You take with you the learning, the judgment, and all
the moral qualities needed to maintain the prestige and usefulness
of your high office. Clark was knowledgeable in all branches
of the law, but made his name as a constitutional lawyer and jurist.
His Studies in Australian Constitutional Law was published in Melbourne
in 1901. In 1903 he was tentatively offered a seat on the High Court
but parliament cut the number of judges from 5 to 3; he was again
passed over when the bench was enlarged in 1906. Professor Harrison
Moore consoled him: Well, for many reasons I am sorry. But
I fear you would have taken it too hard, and that the constant journeying,
the want of any permanent settlement, and the break-up of your family
life would have left you little of joy in the office. Clark
strongly disapproved of the Judiciary Act Amendment Bill in 1907,
protesting that nothing in the Constitution gave the Commonwealth
parliament power to deprive State courts of administering any part
of their State laws.
Few of Clarks writings were published.
In 1891 he had joined the American Academy of Political and Social
Science and in 1900 published a paper on Natural Rights
in their Annals. His unpublished works, written in exercise books
for circulation among friends, are extensive and fall into three
broad categories: philosophical essays, studies on different aspects
of the Australian and American Constitutions and serious legal discourses;
there are also two slim volumes of poetry. He was widely read in
literature and the law, and, consistent with his reputation as an
inquirer in almost every branch of knowledge, his wide-ranging
library was renowned. His greatest contribution to learning was
his share in the foundation of the University of Tasmania in 1889;
he was its vice-chancellor from 17 June 1901 to 23 July 1903.
Inspired as a young man by Higinbotham
and by the Italian patriot and author Giuseppe Mazzini, of whom
he had a picture in every room, Clark remained a republican. In
1891 he wrote that the leopard could as soon change his spots
as I become a supporter of plutocracy and class privilege.
Ten years later he wrote an essay on The Evils of Monarchy
in answer to James Bryce, Studies in History and Jurisprudence (London,
1901). Clark visited America in 1897 armed with letters of introduction
from Miss Margaret Windeyer to leading feminists. His youngest son
claimed that the judge was through his life a great admirer
of ladies, whose society he often greatly enjoyed. He always warmly
defended their equality in native intellect with the sterner sex,
and he can lay claim to the no mean distinction of being the first
man to fight an election in Tasmania in favour of adult suffrage.
Clark enjoyed a rich family life. Moncure
Conway long remembered him under his vine and figtree
with his wife and children. He was never too busy to mend a toy
for a child, and his wife once wrote on hearing of his imminent
return from America that to celebrate your return I must do
something or bust. Clark died on 14 November 1907 at his home,
Rosebank, Battery Point, Hobart, survived by his wife, five sons
and two daughters. Of his sons, Alexander became an engineer, Andrew
a judge, Conway an architect, Wendell a doctor and Carrel clerk
of the Legislative Council. In 1894 Clark had been given the title
of Honourable for life.