The Life of the Riverboat Man that Changed the World: Mark Twain
Transitioning from his humble beginnings as Samuel Langhorne Clemens, to the great American literary icon we know as Mark Twain, this man’s writing reshaped everything from the way Americans thought, to the way history progressed as a whole. His young life and childhood, along with the many difficulties that faced him growing up, helped mold him into the person he was and even gave inspiration to his writing. Along with his coming of age, Mark Twain’s experiences during his steamboat days along the Mississippi River lead to one of the greatest and most controversial books in history. His novels not only served as a catalyst for change, but also served as a record of it. Samuel Langhorne Clemens, most commonly known as "Mark Twain," was born in Florida, Missouri, on November 30, 1835. Something very unique about his birth was that Halley’s Comet streaked across the sky the day he was born. He was born into a humble family from Kentuckian and Virginian descent. His father, John Marshall Clemens and his mother Jane Clemens were very supportive parents and people he looked up to. He had six brothers and sisters that he was very attached to and built strong relations with. Sadly, Mark Twain was the sick child of the bunch. His health made it difficult for him to do anything. After he regained a bit of his health, he and his family relocated and situated themselves in Hannibal, Missouri. At the time of his birth, slavery was still around and he grew up around it, especially since he was from the heart of the South. He would even live to fight in the war later on. This allowed him to have a certain amount of extra perspective into the issue of slavery since he lived in both the pre-Civil War period and the post-Civil War period.
On account of his sickly nature, Clemens could not attend much school, which is ironic considering that he is thought to be one of the most intellectual men in history. And the little bit of school he did attend, did not give him the best education ever. His schooling came to an abrupt halt in 1847 when his father died. Little Samuel Clemens, only around fourteen years old, lost his father and had to move down to live with his brother, Orion. However, this took a turn for the best. The year right after his father’s death, he became a printer’s apprentice. His brother was the new owner of “Western Union” newspaper and hired Samuel to help him grow the business. During this time, Clemens began to develop his satirical and humoristic thinking and learned all the tricks in the trade that would help him gain experience in the field of writing. After learning a bit about writing and discovering his knack for it, Samuel Clemens went on to do something else that would impact his life forever. Henry Clemens, his youngest brother, was killed by injuries he received on a steamboat. Clemens had always dreamt of driving steamboats, so he then took it upon himself to become a fully licensed riverboat pilot. His time floating on the Mississippi River would later give him the inspiration to write several of his most famous works like “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” and “Life on the Mississippi.” Just to show you how much his days in the Mississippi inspired him, he devised his famous penname, “Mark Twain” from steamboat piloting. "Mark twain" was what the leadsman on a riverboat called when the water was 12 feet, which was deep enough to be considered safe for most boats of the era. After a while of piloting steamboats in this misty dream life on the Mississippi, Mark Twain entered the battlefield of the Civil War. As previously stated, the controversial issue of slavery was still lurking around during Mark Twain’s time. The argument of slavery was devouring the Union and America almost seemed like it would break apart. Mark Twain enlisted in the Confederate...
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