Moses Edwin Vail Clapp was born on May 21st, 1851 in Delphi, Indiana, son of Harvey Spaulding Clapp and Jane Abigail Clapp (nee Vandercook). He went to law school at the University of Wisconsin. At age 23, Moses married Harriet “Hattie” Allen of Indiana.
Moses and Hattie Clapp had four children:
- Catrina Clapp, born in 1880.
- Harvey Spaulding Clapp II, born November 19th, 1881 in Fergus Falls, Minnesota.
- Ella Grace Clapp, born in 1889.
- Hattie Alice Clapp.
Moses was elected County attorney of St. Croix County in Wisconsin in 1875, and six years later he was elected to the position of city attorney of Fergus Falls Minnesota. He was captain of the state militia from 1882 – 1884. At age 34 he was elected Attorney General of Minnesota, and held that office until 1890. He practiced law after that, and in 1901 was elected to the Minnesota senate after the death of Senator Cushman Davis. Moses was relected in 1904 and 1910, and served in the senate until 1917.
Moses was a memorable figure – he was well-liked by those who knew him and was highly respected by his peers in public service. He was a strong advocate for minority rights. The Sioux indians inducted him into their tribe for his help in presenting their cause to the senate. Women’s Suffragists honored him many times for his tireless advocacy for the rights of women. And political attackers often described him as a “friend of the negro”.
Senator Moses Clapp died on March 6th, 1920. He was buried in Fort Lincoln Cemetery in Maryland.