Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born prematurely on November 30, 1835 in Florida, Missouri; the fifth surviving child of John and Jane Lampton Clemens. Clemens later known to the world as Mark Twain,
In 1850 Samuel joined the "Cadets of Tennessee," and in doing so gave up smoking in deference to chewing tobacco, and with the cadets marched in many parades. His brother Orion returned to Hannibal and began publishing a weekly newspaper known as the Western Union. In doing so, Samuel left the Missouri Courier and started to work for his brother as a typesetter and editorial assistant. Even though Orion promised Samuel $3.50 per week in wages, there was never any money available to pay him. On January 16, Samuel had his first sketch published in the Western Union called "The Gallant Fireman."
That September, Orion purchased the Hannibal Journal , but a fire destroyed the office in 1852, so Orion rented new office space and keep the paper going. Samuel now was beginning to write more humorous sketches and his, The Dandy Frightening the Squatter," was published in the Boston Carpet-Bag, and another writing titled "Hannibal, Missouri," was published in the Philadelphia American Courier that May. That September 9, Samuel signed a sketch, "W. Epaminon-das Adrastus Perkins," which was his first known use of a pseudonym.
Samuel continued his writings, and in 1856, moved to Cincinnati where he worked as a typesetter, while continuing his writings, "Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass," that were published in the Cincinnati Post. The next year Clemens left Cincinnati in April by steamboat bound for New Orleans, whereby he had intended to continue to travel to South American where he believed he could find fame and fortune. Instead, he became a riverboat pilot, working under Horace Bixby for an apprentice fee of $300. Clemens worked on several boats and learned the Mississippi River quite well between New Orleans and St. Louis. While still working as an apprentice "cub" pilot, Clemens served on the riverboat Pennsylvania under the pilot William Brown, whom Clemens believed to be a despot, and whom he hated. Samuel then arranged for a job for his brother Henry on the riverboat as a purserís assistant or "mud clerk." It would be here that Samuel met and fell in love with Laura M. Wright, who was the fourteen-year-old daughter of a Missouri judge. However, her family does not approve of the relationship, and intercepts the many letters Samuel wrote to her. After the pilot, Brown, struck Henry one day, Samuel hit him in defense of Henry, resulting in Brown leaving temporarily. This caused Samuel to leave the Pennsylvania, because no replacement pilot was found for Brown, and Samuel as an apprentice need to work under a licensed pilot. Some time passed and Brown returned to the riverboat, while Henry remained with the crew. On June 13, while below Memphis on the Mississippi, a boiler exploded, badly injuring Henry and killing Brown. On June 15, Samuel arrived in Memphis and was with his brother when he died on June 21. Samuel, blaming himself for not being with Henry on board the Pennsylvania is grazed with grief and guilt. Samuel buried Henry in Hannibal on June 25, then he returned to resume his apprenticeship steering for two of his friends, Bart and Sam Bowen from Hannibal.
On April 9, 1859, Samuel finally received his pilotís license and became steadily employed and was paid well. Working between New Orleans and St. Louis, and quite at home in these areas along the Mississippi, Samuel also continued his studies, learning French. In may, 1859, he published a satire of a senior pilot named Isaiah Sellers, on which later Clemens claimed he first used the pen name of "Mark Twain." The name or phrase "Mark Twain," was a rivermanís call meaning two fathoms deep or water that was safe for navigation.
In 1861, with the outbreak of the Civil War, the river traffic was greatly disrupted. Clemens, not wanting to be mistaken by the Union as a gunboat, returned to Hannibal and helped form the Marion Rangers, which was a group of Confederate volunteers comprised of many of his old Hannibal schoolmates.
While on the Mississippi, Clemensís loyalties changed back and forth, whereby he settled supporting the South. When Governor Claiborne F. Jackson called for a militia to be formed, Clemens answered the call, and he and fourteen others formed the Marion Rangers. Although Clemens was made a 2nd lieutenant, his rank and that of the others was basically meaningless to this groups of boys who had grown up together.
The Marion Rangers we not exactly heroes by and stretch. Whenever a rumor surfaced that mentioned the Union troops may be coming, they assumed a retreating posture. Clemens later wrote that the rangers were "were hopeless material for war." He was pleased and surprised though how helpful and friendly the local farmers were to them. Clemens said of this that the farmers "were as hospitably kind and courteous to us as if we had deserved it."
In less than one month after the rangers were formed, Clemens and his men learned that a Union regiment was moving their way. Clemens said, "Our boys went apart and consulted, then we went back and told the other companies present that the war was a disappointment to us, and we were going to disband."
Upon learning of the disbandment plan, the Rangers were urged to reconsider, as reinforcements under Confederate General Tom Harris were on their way to them. Half of the Rangers decided to stay and joined other regiments and served until the end of the war. However, Samuel and the others would hear nothing of staying. Clemens later wrote that, I knew more about retreating than the man that invented retreating."
Later in life, Clemens, now using his pen name of Mary Twain, wrote about his short war experiences in an amusing short story titled, "The Private History of a Campaign That Failed." His story told of the confusion within the Rangers, and how inexperienced the young boys were, who actually had no clue what war was about, or really where they loyalties lay. While The War Raged With the Civil War continuing in earnest, Clemens traveled to Carson City in January 1962, then to Aurora that April. In Nevada he dabbled in mining all the while continuing his writings. In February, 1863, Clemens wrote three articles and sent them to the Carson City Enterprise, that were published on the third, fifth and seventh. These articles were signed Mark Twain, the first known use of the name. Later that year, Twain wrote for the San Francisco Morning Call, as well as the Virginia City Enterprise. Published in the Enterprise was an article was called "A Bloody Massacre Near Carson," which was a fictional hoax about a man killing his family. Other papers picked up the story, then discovered that is was a hoax, and were furious, refusing to continue to reprint news stories from the Enterprise. Twain offered to resign, but the editors, Goodman and De Quille did not accept his resignation saying that the anger will blow over, although at the same time, the story will be remembered, favorable from a writing aspect for Twain. By late 1864, Twain became writing for a newly established literary magazine calked the Californian. In 1865, he was writing articles for the Californian, Golden Era, and the Enterprise. It would be during this time that he wrote and had published "Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog," that first appeared in the Saturday Press, and subsequently was reprinted in all parts of the country. After the Civil War - His Writings Continue In the years that followed the end of the Civil War, Mark Twain continued his writings and published many articles and books.