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- Albert Einstein

Mark Twain (1835-1910)

Mark Twain

“The enemy numbered 600 - including women and children - and we abolished them utterly, leaving not even a baby alive to cry for its dead mother. This is incomparably the greatest victory that was ever achieved by the Christian soldiers of the United States” (Mark Twain’s 1906 speech, The Conquest of the Philippines).

This speech was delivered at Princeton University, due to the 1905 massacre of 600 (death toll was higher), which took place in Moros in the Philippines. They were armed only with knifes and clubs and took refuge in an extinct volcano crater. American troops surrounded and showered them with the barrage of bullets.

Twain also exposed water torture (pouring salt water down prisoner’s throat), beating of the wounded Filipino men, women and children during the 1900s U.S. invasion of the Philippines.

In the “Following the Equator” (1897), he strongly condemned U.S. imperialism’s invasion of Cuba, Puerto-Rico and Philippines.

In a 1900 speech, Twain denounced the imperialist plundering and break-up of China, and blamed discrimination against Chinese immigrants in the United States itself.

Twain also wrote sarcastically against European colonialists and imperialists. He condemned brutality and criminality of the British Cecil Rhodes, Lord Kitchener, and king Leopold II of Belgium in Africa. He supported the struggles going on to topple Tzar of Russia.

Not only was Twain an ardent anti-imperialist but he also criticized fervently the ruling class of the U.S. and other industrialized countries. He denounced the dire living conditions of the working class, poor, slaved African-Americans and other minorities in the United States.

In his 1886 speech, “Knights of Labor-The New Dynasty”, Twain asks:

Who are the oppressors? The few: the king, the capitalist, and a handful of other overseers and superintendents.

Who are the oppressed? The many: the nations of earth; the valuable personages; the workers; they that make the bread that the soft-handed and idle eat.

Samuel L. Clemens, known as Mark Twain, the father of modern American Literature, was born in Florida, Missouri, a slave state in the Union. Twain’s father, John, died when he was only 11 years old. As a result, he left school and started to work in different places with different jobs while self educating in his spare time. In 1858, while he was a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River, his younger brother Henry died in a steamboat explosion. Twain blamed himself for the rest of his life over this tragedy. But this was the beginning of a series of un-timely deaths of his 3 other younger siblings, 3 of his children and his beloved wife Olivia.

In 1870, Twain married Olivia Langdon and through her family, met socialists, social activists, abolitionists and anti-imperialists, which among them was renowned Helen Keller. Olivia was very influential in preparing Twain’s speeches, editing his writings and boosting his public image.

Twain traveled frequently across the U.S., Europe and the Middle East which provided him with enormous quantity of knowledge and materials for his realistic writings and authentic journalism.

Twain’s many writings have reached the peak of world literature. He was a passionate lecturer and story teller, a prominent humorist and satirist known for his hatred of hypocrisy and oppression. Twain was an iconic cultural figure and enjoyed vast public popularity during his fruitful lifetime. He died of a heart attack on April 21, 1910 in Redding, Connecticut and was buried in Elmira, New York.

Some of his works are:

  • General Washington’s Negro Body Servant (1868)

  • The Innocents Abroad (1869)

  • Curious Republic of Gondour (1870)

  • A Burlesque Autobiography (1871)

  • Roughing It (1872)

  • The Gilded Age (1873)

  • Sketches New and Old (1875)

  • The Adventures of Tom sawyer (1876)

  • Carnival of Crime in Connecticut (1877)

  • A Tramp Abroad (1880)

  • 1601 (1880)

  • The Prince and the Pauper (1882)

  • Life on the Mississippi (1883)

  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)

  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur Court (1889)

  • The American Claimant (1892)

  • Tom Sawyer Abroad (1894)

  • Tom Sawyer Detective (1896)

  • The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg and Other Stories (1900)

  • To the Person Sitting in Darkness (1901)

  • A Double Barrelled Detective (1902)

  • Extracts from Adam’s Diary (1904)

  • A Dog’s Tale (1904)

  • What is Man? And Other Essays of King Leopold’s Soliloquy (1905)

  • The War Prayer (1905)

  • Mark Twain’s speeches (1906)

  • Eve’s Diary (1906)

  • Christian Science (1907)

  • A Horse’s Tale (1907)

  • Is Shakespeare Dead? (1907)

  • Extracts from Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven (1909)

  • Letters form the Earth (1909)

  • Queen Victoria’s Jubilee (1910)

  • Mark Twain’s Autobiography (1924, published posthumously)

  • Mark Twain’s Notebook (1935, published posthumously)

  • Mark Twain’s Weapons of Satire: Anti-imperialist Writings on the Philippine-American War (1992, Published posthumously)

  • The Bible According to Mark Twain: Writings on Heaven, Eden, and the Flood (1995, published posthumously)

  • More...

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