A Legend Twelve Feet Deep

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A portrait of the American writer Mark Twain taken by A. F. Bradley in New York, 1907

A portrait of the American writer Mark Twain taken by A. F. Bradley in New York, 1907

American Minute from William J. Federer

“Mark Twain,” a river measurement meaning “12-feet-deep,” was the pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, who died APRIL 21, 1910.

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Growing up on the Mississippi, Clemens left school at age 12 when his father died. He became a printer’s apprentice, then piloted steamboats till the War between the States suspended river traffic.

Samuel Clemens joined the Confederates, but after 2 weeks got discharged to work for his brother Orion, who was secretary to Nevada’s Governor.

After an attempt at mining, Clemens became a reporter in Virginia City, Nevada, using the name “Mark Twain” for the first time.

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He moved to San Francisco, sailed the world, then married Olivia Langdon.

His attempt at publishing failed and he paid off debts by lecturing across America.

Mark Twain wrote: Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, Life on the Mississippi, Prince and the Pauper, Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur’s Court, and Joan of Arc.

His later success was unfortunately offset by nearly all his family dying before him.

Mark Twain talked Ulysses S. Grant into writing his Civil War memoirs.

Answering Bible skeptics, Mark Twain said:

“If the Ten Commandments were not written by Moses, then they were written by another fellow of the same name.”

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William J. Federer is a nationally recognized author, speaker, and president of Amerisearch, Inc, which is dedicated to researching our American heritage. The American Minute radio feature looks back at events in American history on the dates they occurred, is broadcast daily across the country and read by thousands on the internet.
William J. Federer
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