Date of Award

Spring 1975

Document Type




First Advisor

Rev. William Greytak

Second Advisor

William Lang

Third Advisor

Rev. J. Eugene Peoples


In 1809 the territory of Montana was admitted to the Union as the forty-first state, With this act Montana now had to concern herself with the elections of public officials and the selection of a location for the capital. For the next twelve years these political issues would provide the battleground for two men, fighting for supremacy in the state; two men having contributed considerably to the development of Montana (prior to 1889) would now subject her to twelve years of political corruption, William Andrew Clark, a migrant from Pennsylvania, craved the power which would be his if he were to become the senator from Montana. In opposition stood Marcus Daly, an immigrant from Ireland, who sought not the limelight and glory of public office, but the control of the politicians who did.

Prior to 1888 Clark and Daly had been partners in various business enterprises. There was no visible rift between them, but on the occasion of the 1888 elections for territorial delegate to Congress, Daly suddenly swung his support from Clark, a Democrat, to Thomas Carter, a Republican. This last minute crossing of party lines made victory possible for Carter. Clark, realizing the reason for his defeat, was now more determined than ever to become "Senator Clark". The antagonism which arose between Clark and Daly caused both men to fight tooth and nail committing thousands of dollars to a fight which included, bribes, mudslinging, threats and counter threats. Only the death of Marcus Daly brought an end to the controversy. What kind of men would change from partners to bitter enemies in a matter of days? It was not an ordinary brawl but a fight to the death in which there could be but one winner. In fact, how did the fight end? Did either participant win?

In trying to answer these questions, I will study the personality of each man. I will refer to the comments which their contemporaries and historians have made. Reflecting on these sources together with letters written by each man, and words spoken by them, I will formulate my opinion concerning these two Montana Pioneers. Following my evaluation of each man, I will discuss whether Clark and/or Daly were able to fulfill their life’s ambitions before their deaths.