The Influences of Mark Twain

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The Influences of Mark Twain Powered By Docstoc
					The Influences of
  Mark Twain
Thesis: Mark Twain was influential as an author, lecturer and reporter.

I) Mark Twain as an author.

   A) Influential through his book The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

       i) Explained that a white person and a black person have the same things in


   B) Influential through his book Pudd‟head Wilson.

       i) Informed public about how slaves were really treated.

II) Mark Twain as a lecturer.

   A) Influential his speeches about the government and politics.

       i) Talked about how the governor hasn‟t done anything for the state, talked about

              any thing that he saw going on in everyday life.

   B) Spoke in campaign for New York‟s governor.

       i) Spoke on the behalf of the anti-Tammany candidate; spoke about how he

              opposed supporting stronger government lead by a few wealthy citizens.

III) Mark Twain as a reporter.

   A) Worked for the Virginia City Enterprise.

       i)        Kept the public informed of Nevada‟s Constitutional Convention.

       ii)       Felt that it was important to keep the public informed.

   B) Worked for the Daily Morning Call.

       i)        Wasn‟t allowed to voice his opinions.

       ii)       Was disappointed at the police forces for treating the immigrants poorly.

       iii)      Ended up writing for the Enterprise again to get his point across.
        Florida, Missouri, the hometown of one of the most influential writers to ever

live. Samuel Langhorne Clements, also known as Mark Twain, was a very out spoken

child. He exercised his freedoms of speech and press frequently. At the young age of 13

Sam had already began writing for a newspaper. This is where most say Sam got his start

as an author. He contributed reports, poems, and humorous sketches. Most of which he

later found out, the public enjoyed. Sam later went back to writing for numerous

newspapers all over the US. This was when Sam was really noticed by the world.

Towards the end of his life is when he began to write his novels, which is where he was

the most influential. Mark Twain was a very influential person through being an author,

lecturer, and a reporter.

        As an author, Mark Twain brought slavery to the spotlight. Slavery was

previously something talked about in small groups and behind closed doors, no one wrote

about it, at least until his story was published. No one would ever think of making it one

of the subjects in a novel. In one of his most prominent novels, The Adventures of

Huckleberry Finn, published in 1885, brought slavery out front and center when he made

a run-away slave and a young white boy traveling companions. Mark Twain believed

that, “There ain‟t no surer way to find out whether you like people than to travel with

them.” (Smillie, Dedman) The reader is supposed to realize that a black person is truly

just another human being who wants freedom and a family to care for. In the story, as

time passed and the two comrades traveled together and got to know each other better so

did the reader. The run away slave, Jim, talks to Huck about his goal to find work in the

North and get enough money to free his wife and children. He also spends most of his

time looking out for Huck and caring for him. One night, when they lost each other in

the fog, Jim nearly starts to cry because he believes Huck is dead. By writing this Mark

Twain shows society the emotions and feelings of a slave are not so different then their
own. When the book was published in 1885 it was criticized because of the

controversial issue it brought to light. Many of Mark Twain‟s supporters condemned it,

including Louisa May Alcott, the author of books like Little Women, she wrote about

white children growing up together and also directed her books at young adults. Louisa

May Alcott disliked that Mark Twain presented the idea that a white boy and a black man

could become friends. She said, “ „If Mr. Clemens cannot think of something better to

tell our pure-minded lads and lasses, he best stop writing for them.‟ “(Ward, Duncan 122)

       One of his lesser-known works, Pudd‟nhead Wilson, shows slavery through a new

and unconsidered point of view. Mark Twain used a slave named Roxi to show the

physical and even emotional pain a slave has to endure. In the story she had given birth

to a white man‟s child, and the baby‟s appearance was that of a white man. The child

later grew up and, because he was white, became his mother‟s master and abused her.

To add to the abuse he sells her as a slave, after she is freed, to pay back debts that he

owes because of gambling. Mark Twain helped people to see slavery from a slave‟s

point of view.

       Mark Twain was a very successful lecturer because he could always make people

laugh. He used his humor to talk openly about government and politics, especially his

disagreements with them. Mark Twain believed that, “Patriotism is supporting your

country all the time and your government when it deserves it.” (Schmidt) He was not

afraid to let others hear the shortcomings of their elected officials and the mistakes of

their government. In his very first public speaking opportunity he addressed a territorial

legislature. Mark Twain criticized citizens, the legislators, and even the governor. He

reminded the audience that Governor Nye had not officially done anything as governor

since he was commissioned three years before.      Twain relayed stories from his sit-ins

with the legislature, such as the time when the clerk recorded “d---l” instead of devil
during an angry speech by a legislator. He also told them about the young Mr.

Gillespie‟s unrelenting stare that made even the top legislator‟s squirm. His audience

was in an uproar with laughter and applause, but he did more then just make them laugh.

He talked about certain injustices he saw going on in everyday life. Mark Twain brought

to the public eyes “undertakers who extorted gross profits from mourning families and

prosecuting attorneys who could not tell the difference between their own witnesses from

those of the defense.” (Meltzer 42)

       In a campaign for New York‟s governor he spoke on the behalf of an anti-

Tammany candidate who shared his beliefs and opposed a party supporting stronger

government lead by a few wealthy citizens. In the early 1900‟s when the United States

took in the Philippines, Mark Twain was very unhappy. He began speaking at anti-war

rallies during the Spanish-American War, when Puerto Rico and Guam were ceded to the

United States, because he believed that Imperialism suppressed the countries under

control. Mark Twain believed that any strong nations taking part in Imperialism were

using a “loot-basket and butcher knife.” He spoke so ferociously against imperialism that

people continued to warn him that he might be offending the public. Mark Twain‟s reply

was, “ „I‟m not expecting anything but kicking and scoffing . . . but . . . I will have my

say.‟ ” (Ward, Duncan 202)

       While Mark Twain was a reporter he highlighted many social issues. In 1862

Twain became a reporter for the Virginia City Enterprise. He produced a lot of reliable

reports. His reports of the legislature‟s sessions even became the official records. Mark

Twain took the responsibility to keep the public informed of Nevada‟s Constitutional

Convention. In one of his articles he wrote about his disappointment at an official for not

getting out the report. He wrote, “We sent our last report to you by out stirring official,
Gillespie, Secretary of the Convention. I though that might account for you not getting it

. . .” (Twain) Mark Twain felt it was important that the public was kept informed.

       After a short time there he moved to San Francisco and worked for the Daily

Morning Call. The Call was much more formal writing than Mark Twain was used to

and he was no longer allowed to voice his opinions. Mark Twain was “revolted by the

brutal treatment of the Chinese in San Francisco, and damned the mobs that hunted them

as victims.” (Meltzer 45) He found that the authorities there did not protect the

immigrants, as they should. The newspaper would not print his views, which were

somewhat negative, of the police and politicians in the area. He found himself sending

them to the Enterprise so the public could find out what was really happening where they

lived. Mark Twain continued to report on San Francisco through the Enterprise, and

because of the magnitude of his attacks of the city‟s corruption the police chief decided to

sue the newspaper for libel.

       Mark Twain had a lot of ideas in his lifetime and was happy to share them with

the world. Through his time as an author, lecturer, and reporter Mark Twain helped

society to truly understand the issues that they faced. No matter whether he was in

Hawaii on a vacation or India on a lecturing tour Mark Twain let others know about what

he saw going on. Writer, David McCullough once said, “Real success is finding your

life work in the work that you love.” (Moncur) Mark Twain found real success, and in

doing so, he achieved the true American dream.
                            Works Cited
Meltzer, Milton. Mark Twain: A Writer‟s Life. New York, London, Toronto, Sydney:

       Watts, 1985.

Moncur, Michael. Quotations by Author. 2000. October 25, 2004.


Schmidt, Barbara. American-“I am the American”-misattributed quotes. April 9, 1997.

       October 25, 2004. <>.

Schmidt. Barbara. Patriotism. April 9, 1997. October 25, 2004.


Smillie, Jenny, and Dedman, Kim. Travel Quotes. December 11, 2000.

       October 25, 2004. <>.

Twain, Mark. “Report to the Enterprise: Nevada‟s Constitutional Convention.”

       Enterprise. 1863: page 1. Territorial Enterprise. Watertown, WI. October 25,



Ward, Geoffrey C., and Duncon, Dayton. Mark Twain: An Illustrated Biography. New

       Knopf, 2001.
Armentrout, David & Patricia. Mark Twain Discover The Life Of An American Legend.

      Vero Beach, Florida: Rourke Publishing LLC, 2004.

Rikhoff, Jean. Mark Twain. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, INC, 1961.

Description: Mark Twain was influential as an author, lecturer and reporter. This report discusses these three areas of Mark Twain's life.