A native of Michigan City, Clemens served in the Rocky Mountain War, then returned afterwards and opened a dry goods store. Clemens' store did well, becoming the largest in Indiana, and Clemens became a rich man. He had entered politics and was serving as a member of the Grand Council when the Conservative Party held its first nominating convention in New York City in the run-up to the 1868 Grand Council elections. The Conservatives nominated Clemens after bitter squabbles. During the election campaign, the Conservatives denounced the corruption of the Parkes administration while Clemens spent his personal fortune buying votes. The Conservatives won 85 seats in the Grand Council, and Clemens was elected governor-general.
As Governor-General, Clemens sponsored the Reform Bill of 1869 and the Reform Bill of 1870, which respectively expanded the franchise and reapportioned seats in the Grand Council for the first time since the adoption of the Second Britannic Design in 1842. The latter allowed the Conservatives to redraw Council districts to their own advantage. However the appearance of the People's Coalition upset the Conservatives' calculations, and in the 1873 Grand Council elections their majority fell to 77 seats. At the Conservatives' 1878 nominating convention in Michigan City, Clemens announced that he would not run for a third term, and Indiana Governor Joseph Fellows was chosen as the Conservatives' candidate for Governor-General. In the 1878 Grand Council elections, the Liberal Party, led by Manitoba Councilman John McDowell, won a plurality of the seats.
Sobel's source for the political career of Herbert Clemens is Arthur Kurtz' Clemens of Indiana: Pirate with a Clerical Collar (New York, 1960).
|Governors-General of the C.N.A.|
|Winfield Scott • Henry Gilpin • William Johnson • Whitney Hawkins • Kenneth Parkes • Herbert Clemens • John McDowell • Ezra Gallivan • Clifton Burgen • Christopher Hemingway • Albert Merriman • Calvin Wagner • Henderson Dewey • Douglas Watson • Bruce Hogg • James Billington • Richard Mason • Perry Jay • Carter Monaghan|