Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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CLARK, John, clergyman, born in Petty, near Inverness, Scotland, 29 November, 1758; died in St. Louis, Maine, 11 October. 1833. He received a common-school education, worked for a few years as a copyist in public offices in Inverness, and in 1778 shipped as a sailor on board a transport. He then served one year on a. privateer, sailed as second mate to the West Indies, and was impressed into the British navy at Barbadoes. He deserted and shipped on board a merchantman, which was captured by the Spanish, and Clark was for nineteen months a prisoner at Havana. Soon after he was released he was again impressed, but escaped by swimming two miles to shore, when the vessel was off Charleston. South Carolina After various adventures, he taught a backwoods school in South Carolina, and then in Georgia, where he was also appointed a class-leader among the Methodists. After a visit to his home, which he reached by working his way before the mast, he returned to the United States in 1789 and became an itinerant Methodist preacher in Georgia. He had scruples on the subject of slavery, and once refused his yearly salary of $60 because it was the proceeds of slave labor. He withdrew from the Methodist church in 1796 on account of doctrinal differences, and went to Illinois, where he taught, preached, and finally joined the anti-slavery Baptists calling themselves "The Baptized Church of Christ: Friends of Humanity." When not teaching, "Father Clark," as he was called, made long preaching tours. One of these, in 1807, was to the "Florida Parishes " in Louisiana, a journey of 1,200 miles, which was performed alone, in a frail canoe. He returned to Illinois on foot and revisited Louisiana in 1811. Father Clark preferred to travel on foot, and on one occasion, when he was seventy years old, walked all night to fulfil an appointment, going sixty-six miles over a muddy road. Unlike many western pioneer preachers, he was neat in his dress and quiet in his manner. A sketch of him has been published by an old pioneer (New York, 1855).
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