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Mark Twain

Samuel Langhorne Clemens


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Samuel Clemens, also more well-known as Mark Twain, was born in 1835 in Hanibal, Missouri, and died in 1910.   The Clemens family consisted of two brothers, a sister, and the family-owned slave, Jenny, whose vivid storytelling was a formative influence on the young Sam. As he was growing up, his parents explained their perspective on the nature of things in the established South, about the slave-owning tradition, and about "rough western justice."

In 1868 Mark Twain reminisced about his journalism career in Nevada with the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise:

"To find a petrified man, or break a stranger's leg, or cave an imaginary mine, or discover some dead Indians in a Gold Hill tunnel, or massacre a family at Dutch Nick's, were feats and calamities that we never hesitated about devising when the public needed matters of thrilling interest for breakfast. The seemingly tranquil ENTERPRISE office was a ghastly factory of slaughter, mutilation and general destruction in those days."
- Mark Twain's Letters from Washington, Number IX, Territorial Enterprise, March 7, 1868

Today very few copies of the Territorial Enterprise from Mark Twain's days exist. Much of Twain's writing for the Enterprise survives only as undated clippings from his personal scrapbooks or as reprints from contemporary newspapers of his time. In many cases only fragments of the original contribution are all that can be found.

Samuel Clemens

In his book, "Roughing It," Mark Twain writes of his adventures in the Lake Tahoe area.  He spent time in Carson City, NV, and six years at the Territorial Enterprise in Virginia City, NV.  He wrote of the Calaveras Jumping Frogs in Calaveras while living in Virginia City.

Territorial Enterprise, January 1, 1863

LOCAL COLUMN

NEW YEAR'S DAY

Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink, and swore his last oath. To-day, we are a pious and exemplary community. Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and gone to cutting our ancient short comings considerably shorter than ever. We shall also reflect pleasantly upon how we did the same old thing last year about this time. However, go in, community. New Year's is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls, and humbug resolutions, and we wish you to enjoy it with a looseness suited to the greatness of the occasion.

Mark Twain

 

Territorial Enterprise, late April 1868

[written by Enterprise Staff]

Mark Twain we have a right to claim as a Washoe humorist, and claiming him let us not fail to do what we can to encourage him by showing him that we appreciate his efforts to amuse and instruct us. He comes back to us after many wanderings by sea and land in foreign countries, with his mind and portfolio enriched with choice collections of fact and fancy gleaned in places holy and not holy. He is a living budget of not the jokes of all nations but of jokes upon all nations, suggested by their peculiarities of manners, customs, and appearance. We predict for him the most crowded and brilliant audience of the season. All who have ever seen or heard of Mark Twain and his genius as a brilliant descriptive writer, wit, and humorist - and who has not? - will desire to go with him aboard the Quaker City, carpet bag in hand, and gaze on the sleek faces and heads of the pious pilgrims to the Holy Land, all as yet unafflicted with the wilting nausea of sea-sickness, and looking forward with godly and courageous eyes toward the sacred soil and cities of the country in which scriptures were born; all will wish to accompany Mark to Palestine and ramble with him among the musty old palaces, churches, and tombs - in short, all will wish to follow him wherever he goes. As his followers will be many, let those who do not desire to be left behind on the voyage go early tomorrow and secure seats for the through trip.

 

 

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