Happy Birthday Mark Twain

On this day, Nov 30, 1835, a man born Samuel Clemens, was born in Florida, Missouri.   Samuel would eventually become the famed writer, Mark Twain.

Sam, at an early age of 13, was apprenticed to a printer and then later worked for his older brother, who established the Hannibal Journal.  It was In 1857 that the Keokuk Daily Post commissioned young Samuel to write a series of comic travel letters.   As most young men get bored with work and want to seek adventure, Sam was no different.  After writing five articles for the Daily Post, he decided to become a steamboat captain instead. Sam signed on as a pilot’s apprentice in 1857 and received his pilot’s license in 1859, when he was 23.

Sam piloted boats for two years, until the Civil War halted steamboat traffic. During the country’s unrest and his time as a pilot, he picked up the term “Mark Twain”.    [This term referred to a boatman’s call noting that the river was only two fathoms deep, the minimum depth for safe navigation.] When Sam returned to writing in 1861, working for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise, he wrote a humorous travel letter signed by “Mark Twain” and continued to use the pseudonym for nearly 50 years.

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear — not absence of fear.

– Mark Twain

An adventurer and one of the most influential writers of America, Mark Twain is the author of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Twain was also a journalist, an inventor, entrepreneur and a riverboat pilot.

Many folks regard Twain as “the father of American literature”. He was a prolific writer who wrote 28 books, and a vast number of essays, stories and lectures.

The downtown Hannibal, Missouri circa 2010
View of the Mississippi River @ Hannibal, Missouri