Clarence P. Dahl was born at York, Wisconsin on March 22, 1892. He was the son of Peter and Ellene (Stensven) Dahl. Clarence Dahl was educated in Wisconsin public schools, and later attended Winona (Minnesota) Business College. He moved to North Dakota in February 1912 and farmed near Jessie. He married Ovidia Anderson of Jessie on December 28, 1922. The couple had three children: Phillip, Marjorie and Robert.
Dahl established Dahl's Cash Store in Jessie in 1925. The business was sold in 1948, and the family moved to Cooperstown. Dahl had been active in North Dakota politics since 1916, when he was involved with the organization of the Nonpartisan League. He maintained an interest in the League until 1934, when he was one of a group which formed the Progressive Republicans. Dahl was elected to the North Dakota State Senate from District 16 in 1938, and re-elected in 1940. He was a charter member of the Republican Organizing Committee, formed following the 1943 legislative session. The ROC was a group of conservative Republicans united in their opposition to William Langer. Dahl became the group’s first candidate for Lieutenant Governor, and entered office along with Governor Fred G. Aandahl in 1944. Dahl served in this post until 1950. He was returned to the State Senate in 1950, but served only one term before returning to the Lieutenant Governor's office following the 1952 election. He served during the 1953 and 1955 sessions, in addition to the 1959 session. He won the Republican nomination for the 1960 Governor’s election, but was defeated by the Democratic candidate, Bill Guy. Following a four year stint as director of the State Laboratories Department, he retired from public life.
Dahl was involved with the Masonic Lodge, Shrine, Kem Temple, and the Knights of Pythias. For a time during the late 1930s, he served as both Director and Secretary of the Jessie Farmers Elevator.
Clarence P. Dahl died on October 23, 1976, in Bismarck.
The Clarence P. Dahl Papers date from 1950-1960, and include a number of speeches, newspaper clippings, and issues of the Nonpartisan League’s official newspaper, The Leader.
The speeches date from 1950-1960; several of the speeches are political campaign speeches, although addresses delivered to the Legislative Assembly, as well as speeches to various community and civic groups are also included. The newspaper clippings are from 1951-1955, while The Leader issues date between 1955 and 1956.