Mark Twain, anti-imperialist

Mark Twain anti-imperialist

Not only was Mark Twain the most famous person of his era, he was also a fierce anti-imperialist.The quote says it all, “I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land.” (The image is from a display at the Mark Twain House in Hartford CT, which I visited recently.)

He wrote his classics, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, in Hartford, which at the time was the literary capital of the US. Harriet Beecher Stowe lived next to him. He was well-off by the time he and his wife, a heiress, built it. In modern terms it would have cost about $1 million. They had eleven servants, who generally stayed for years. Most people then choose servants from one ethnic group only to avoid conflicts. His staff was multi-cultural and the butler (who ran the house and managed the servants) was a freed slave. When Twain sold the house, he gave the butler a substantial amount of money. The butler then became a banker making loans to African-Americans.

When he discovered that former US President Ulysses Grant’s family was destitute after his death, Twain made a point of publishing Grant’s memoirs. It sold 300,000 copies and his widow received about $500,000 in royalties, which was a fortune at the time.

Mark Twain on imperialism and politics. Yeah, baby…

“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 the earth; the valuable personages; the workers; they that make the bread that the soft-handed and idle eat.”

“Why is it right that there is not a fairer division of the spoil all around? Because laws and constitutions have ordered otherwise. Then it follows that laws and constitutions should change around and say there shall be a more nearly equal division.”

Twain followed up in early 1901 with an essay titled “To the Person Sitting in Darkness.” Each of the world’s strongest nations, he wrote, was proceeding “with its banner of the Prince of Peace in one hand and its loot-basket and its butcher-knife in the other.”

Mark Twain quotes

God created war so that Americans would learn geography

The absence of money is the root of all evil

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect

You believe in a book that has talking animals, wizards, witches, demons, sticks turning into snakes, burning bushes, food falling from the sky, people walking on water, and all sorts of magical, absurd and primitive stories, and you say that we are the ones that need help?

Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself

But who prays for Satan? Who, in eighteen centuries, has had the common humanity to pray for the one sinner that needed it most?

If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re mis-informed

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man

Mark Twain did NOT say ‘The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.’ A guide at the Mark Twain House said this is perhaps the most misattributed Twain quote ever.