Olmsted Defends Clark

Olmsted Defends Clark/tiles/non-collection/c/c_063imgtile1.xml
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Olmsted Defends Clark/tiles/non-collection/c/c_063imgtile2.xml
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Olmsted Defends Clark/tiles/non-collection/c/c_063imgtile3.xml
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Olmsted Defends Clark/tiles/non-collection/c/c_063imgtile4.xml
Image courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration

Description

Shortly after reading about charges of corruption against Architect of the Capitol Edward Clark made in various newspapers in August 1877, the renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted leaped to Clark’s defense. The Public Buildings and Grounds Committee’s investigation into the charges against Clark included Olmsted’s letter to Secretary of the Interior Carl Schurz (Clark’s boss). In the letter, Olmsted, who was leading the redesign of the Capitol grounds, explained how he was hired and the terms of his employment. He noted his salary and his request that it be cut in half, to which Clark agreed. Olmsted was implicated because of the claim that the $200,000 appropriated by Congress for the redesign project was instead diverted by Clark to Olmsted. Olmsted asserted that he would be happy to testify to Clark’s character and his “high appreciation of the value of [Clark’s] services.”

Others alleged that Clark received two salaries, one as Architect of the Capitol and another as the manager of the Soldiers’ Home, a veterans’ retirement home. He was also accused of using a government stagecoach for his personal use. However, as the New-York Tribune pointed out, these charges were brought against Clark by a “disappointed contractor” who wanted exorbitant reimbursement for his work, which Clark would not pay. The newspaper gossip did not undermine Clark’s standing at the Capitol, and he continued in his position until his death in 1902.

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