Mark Twain and war

Date

5/30/1976

Authors

Murray, Theo Virginia

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Abstract

When Mark Twain was born in 1835, the United States was relatively free of impending war, having won its indepe ndence in 1776, and having established itself as a dominant force in the West e rn Hemisphere after the War of 1812; but during his life, extend i ng into t he twentieth century t o ]QlO , his country would fight three wars--the Mexican War ~ the Civil War, and t he Spanish-American War--and would r esolve the original war against the Indians by 1890. Duri ng the last year of t he Mexican War when a telegraph wire was str ung to Hannibal, Missouri, Mark Twain at the local ne ws paper office was gi ve n charge of the extras with news from t he front; so the impor ta nce of his job as circulation manager with the respon s ib ility of distributing news hot from t he battlefield spurre d him to endeavors that won for him plaudits and success. In 1861 Mark Twain served briefly as a second lieutenant with the Hannibal volunteers to help Governor "Claib" Jackson (Claiborne Fox Jackson, governor o f Missouri, 1861-1865) repel the Union invader. Then 26 July 1861 he traveled westward through Indian territory with his br other Or i on who had been appointed Territorial

Secretary of Nevada. Since he was in the West until 1866, Ma r k Twain, as miner and a newspaper reporter, was in a p o sition to be fully cognizant of the Indian Wars~ Later hi s observations of war were extended when he lived in Europe and when he traveled around the world. Because he k new Rudyard Kipling, Henry Morton Stanley, and Winston Ch urchill, who himself became famous during World War II, a nd because he met many heads of state, his experiences enc ompass much of world affairs of his lifetime (18 35-1910) . Painel in his biography of Twain details the author's various activities.2 Since war entails . many facets within a country, the milieu of Mark Twain's time affected attitudes and procedu res. A review of this background may help to explain ~n part Twain's response and attitude toward the various armed conflicts which he learned of or was associated with.

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Keywords

Mexican War, Civil War, Language, literature, and linguistics, Spanish-American War, Hannibal, Missouri

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