Clark Clifford was born December 25, 1906, in Fort Scott, Kansas. Clifford attended Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and upon graduation attended Washington University Law School. He remained a lawyer in the St. Louis area, and married Margery Kimball in 1931. In 1944 he joined the Navy where he worked as a naval aide to President Harry Truman during World War II. After the war Clifford became a part of the second White House council who advised Truman. Clifford eventually established a law practice in Washington where he advised businesses on governmental policies and resources. Although he had his own law practice, Clifford continued to advise presidents through the 1960s and during the Vietnam War. Clifford served as chairman of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board for Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.
On February 29, 1968, Clifford became the ninth Secretary of Defense to President Johnson. The Vietnam War was a major focus during his time in office. Clifford supported a quick end to the war. Although Clifford was only Secretary of Defense for 11 months, he often references those months as the proudest in his life.
After his time as Secretary of Defense, Clifford returned to his life as a lawyer and political advisor in Washington D.C. In 1982 Clifford became the chairman of First American Bankshares, of Washington D.C. In 1991 Clifford was charged in an international scandal involving the bank, but he claimed that he was not aware of the illegal activities. He was in failing health and not indicted in the scandal. Clifford died October 10, 1998, in Bethesda, Maryland, and he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Entry: Clifford, Clark
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: June 2012
Date Modified: July 2016
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