May 28, 2011

Mark Twain and Hannibal Missouri

Many years ago I visited Hannibal Missouri to see for myself where Samuel Clements (Mark Twain) was born and spent his early childhood. It was one of the biggest disappointments I ever had. I don't really know what I expected, but not what I saw.

Check out this from PBS.

Mark Twain is as close to whom I think would be described as America's writer. He was American to the core. He acted American, he thought American, and he wrote American. When he traveled abroad on lecture tours if his audience wasn't sure what an American sounded like, or looked like, or what he thought, when he was done talking they knew they had had a taste of America. Mark Twain was American good and bad.

After visiting Hannibal and being so disappointed I wrote to the Ford foundation and explained what I had seen and thought. I further explained that Hannibal still stands there on the Mississippi and I believe looks much as it did in Twain's day and it seemed to be an undeveloped asset just waiting for someone with available capital and a love of American history to develop the town much as Williamsburg Virginia was developed by the Rockefeller foundation. I believed it would be money well spent and a gift to America.

I am sorry to say I was a majority of one who thought it would be a good idea, so if you go do your reading first and get it firmly fixed in your imagination what it was.

The statue of Twain is located in Fort Worth Texas. I don't remember seeing one in his hometown of Hannibal.

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