Henry N. Clement, attorney and counselor at law, was born in Ohio, and was but six months old when his parents moved to Muscatine, Iowa, where they remained some two years. They then went further west, to the lands of the Black Hawk purchase in that State, as soon as they were opened for settlement, and located near the Des Moines river, in the vicinity of a fort then called Eddy’s Fort, now Eddyville, Iowa. For some ten years the elder Mr. Clement was in the Government service there as a surveyor. At the early age of ten years the present Mr. Clement commenced duties in the office of the Free Press at Eddyville, learning the printer’s trade, and subsequently he became editor and proprietor of that paper. Three years afterward he went to Ottumwa, the county seat, where he was engaged on the Courier, then and now the leading paper published there. Next he attended school awhile at his Eddyville home. Going to Galesburg, Illinois, he engaged in assiduous study, as well as work upon the Galesburg Free Democrat, a staunch Republican paper, and in two years he had a good knowledge of the classics as well as of the higher branches of the English course, and music, etc. While there he had the pleasure of hearing the controversial speeches of Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas, and the best lectures of many other eminent men of the nation. In 1860 he went to Chicago, and was for a year or so employed upon the Tribune. In 1861 he returned to Eddyville, and that year he bought the paper on which he was first employed, the Free Press, and edited it until 1864, when he retired to accept the position of Sergeant-at-arms of the Iowa Legislature.
As an editor he was outspoken, plain and terse in his expressions and severe in his criticisms; and during the war he made many speeches for the Republican party throughout Iowa.
Inclining to the legal profession, he studied law at the Michigan State University and graduated in 1868. For five years he practiced his profession in his home town, Eddyville. In 1875 he came to San Francisco, with the usual erroneous Eastern ideas of the Chinese question, feeling able and willing to combat the attitude of the coast people on this question. In a short time, however, actual contact with the race completely revolutionized his view; and he has from time to time contributed to the local press some of the most valuable articles ever written on this question. On the occasion of the assassination of President Garfield he wrote a beautiful and pathetic poem; and was poet of the day here for the funeral obsequies of President Garfield. His humorous essays and other compositions have been written in connection with the Bohemian Club’s high jinks. Besides that club, he belongs also to the Masonic order, to the bar association, the Civil Service Reform Society and the Social Science Association.
Being engaged constantly since he came here in 1875 in the practice of law, he has been connected with a number of important cases, exhibiting marked talent. For some ten years he was the attorney for the San Francisco Gas Light Company; was also the attorney for Martin White against Marrill and others,--a case involving nearly $150,000. He is now attorney and counsel for the petitioner in the memorial grant of Janet M. Baldwin to the Secretary of State against the Mexican government for $100,000. She is a granddaughter of Francis Scott Key, the author of the great national song, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Her husband was murdered in Mexico in 1887, while a mining superintendent in Durango.
Transcribed by Donna L. Becker
Source: "The Bay of San Francisco," Vol. 1, page 599-600, Lewis Publishing Co, 1892.
© 2004 Donna L. Becker.
California Biography Project
San Francisco County
Golden Nugget Library