Mark Twain, one of the most prolific writers in American history, used his previous experiences as an inspiration for his most widely acclaimed literary works. By reading and studying his books, one learns many things about the type of life he led. In some novels, an individual reader can experience his childhood adventures first hand. In his later works there are portions about the importance of love in the family, but, of course, there is always the indomitable wisecrack.
John Marshall Clemens and Jane Lampton were married in Tennessee. John was a man of principle but he also had a dreamy, impractical nature. He was a lawyer and Justice of the Peace. The family moved from village to village during the early years of their marriage. Judge Clemens was always confident that he would make his family rich in the future. While living in Tennessee, he could not practice law, so he was always coming up with some kind of scheme that would make small portions of money. The family then moved to Florida, Missouri. Here is where Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born on November 30, 1835 (Twain 423). He was a small and sickly baby, and some people feared that he wouldnít live through his first few years. Brother, Orion, and sister, Pamela, helped to take care of Little Sam as he spent his first few years in Florida. Samís other two siblings had both died of childhood diseases.
Judge Clemens failed to earn a living as a lawyer in Florida. The family was forced to migrate to the west bank of the mighty Mississippi River in a larger city called Hannibal, Missouri, during 1839 (Gerber xiii). Once the family had settled in to their new home, the gleam of mischief in Sam would begin to appear. Sam was very much like his mother. He could enrage her one minute and make her laugh the next.
At the age of four and a half, Little Samís name changed to Sammy as he started school. He was taught by two dignified ladies of Hannibal in a small log cabin. On Sammyís second day at school, he disobeyed his teacher. She sent him outside to find a switch to be whipped with. When Sammy saw the cooperís shop shooting wood shavings into the street, he went and picked one up and presented it to the teacher as a switch. This display of mischief was reported to his mother along with many other things that Sammy did during his boyhood.
Sammy had a little brother named Henry who was two years younger. Henry was a mamaís boy. He was the exact opposite of Sammy. Sammy often played hooky to go swimming with Tom, the town drunkardís son. Henry would tell on him. This resulted in a horrible relationship between Sammy and Henry. They fought and threw dirt clods at each other most of the time they saw each other.
Among other disobedient escapades during Sammyís boyhood, one incident showed his mischievous, devilish side. ďOne morning, gazing mournfully down at a large pail of whitewash, Sam had a flash of genius. He would make his friends believe that whitewashing a fence was a privilege. When they began to ask permission, he was so reluctant to give up the brush, that they gave him their valuables in order to be allowed to whitewash - old doorknobs, apple cores, frogs, and a box of worms, among other things (McNeer 12).Ē As you can tell, Sammyís school days were filled with troubles, but not without fun.
Samuelís life suddenly took a drastic turn for the worse. His father passed away on March 24, 1847 (Gerber xiii). This forced Sam at the young age of 13, to work as a printer in Joseph P. Amentís press in Hannibal (Gerber xiii). Sam started to turn to books for security. His avid reading led to his authorship. His first published sketch was ďA Gallant Fireman.Ē This appeared in his brother Orionís newspaper, Western Union (Gerber xiii).
For the next few years, Samuel worked at many different professions. In June of 1861, he trained for about two weeks with a Confederate volunteer group called the Marion Rangers. Later on that summer, he and Orion traveled to Carson City, Nevada. They failed at staking a timber claim and