mark twain

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Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain
1835-1910
Samuel Clemens was born on November 30, 1835 in Florida, Missouri, the sixth of seven children. At the age of four, Sam and his family moved to the small frontier town of Hannibal, Missouri on the banks of the Mississippi River. Missouri, at the time, was a fairly new state (it had gained statehood in 1820) and comprised part of the country's western border. It was also a slave state. Sam's father owned one slave and his uncle owned several. In fact, it was on his uncle's farm that Sam spent many boyhood summers playing in the slave quarters, listening to tall tales and the slave spirituals that he would enjoy throughout his life.
In 1847, when Sam was 11, his father died. Shortly thereafter he left school, having completed the fifth grade, to work as a printer's apprentice for a local newspaper. His job was to arrange the type for each of the newspaper's stories, allowing Sam to read the news of the world while completing his work.
At 18, Sam headed east to New York City and Philadelphia where he worked on several different newspapers and found some success at writing articles. By 1857, he had returned home to embark on a new career as a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River. With the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, however, all traffic along the river came to a halt, as did Sam's pilot career. Inspired by the times, Sam joined a volunteer Confederate unit called the Marion Rangers, but he quit after just two weeks.
In search of a new career, Sam headed west in July of 1861, at the invitation of his brother, Orion, who had just been appointed Secretary of the Nevada Territory. Lured by the infectious hope of striking it rich in Nevada's silver rush, Sam traveled across the open frontier from Missouri to Nevada by stagecoach. Along the journey Sam encountered Native American tribes for the first time as well as a variety of unique characters, mishaps and disappointments. These events would find a way into his short stories and books, particularly Roughing It.
After failing as a silver prospector, Sam began writing for the Territorial Enterprise, a Virginia City, Nevada newspaper where he used, for the first time, his pen name, Mark Twain. Wanting a change by 1864, Sam headed for San Francisco where he continued to write for local papers.
In 1865, Sam's first "big break" came with the publication of his s...

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...at his marketable reputation would be ruined.
In 1903, after living in New York City for three years, Livy became ill and Sam and his wife returned to Italy where she died a year later. After her death, Sam lived in New York until 1908 when he moved into his last house, "Stormfield", in Redding, Connecticut. In 1909, his middle daughter Clara was married. In the same year Jean, the youngest daughter, died from an epileptic seizure. Four months later on April 21, 1910, Sam Clemens died at the age of 74.
Like any good journalist, Sam Clemens/Mark Twain spent his life observing and reporting on his surroundings. In his writings he provided images of the romantic, the real, the strengths and weaknesses of a rapidly changing world. By examining his life and his works, we can read into the past - piecing together various events of the era and the responses to them. We can delve into the American mindset of the late nineteenth century and make our own observations of history, discover new connections, create new inferences and gain better insights into the time period and the people who lived in it. As Sam once wrote, "Supposing is good, but finding out is better."

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